Showing posts from January, 2012

Megaupload data deletion threatened

Megaupload, a file-sharing service, was recently raided. As a result, Megaupload's 150 million registered users have largely been unable to access data stored by third parties. Data held by a minimum of 50 million users is illegal, according to copyright restrictions, and thus may be deleted as soon as Thrs. or as late as 2 weeks in the future. This is a warning to all who have copied copyrighted material and those who stored information of their own creation with Megaupload. This is yet another example that the copyright law needs to be updated to deal with shared electronic information.  The law has not kept up with changing technologies and how information is generated and shared. This is going to make a lot of people very angry. For more see BBCNews technology article "Megaupload users face data deletion US Prosecutors warn" of Jan 30th.

Boyce descendant visits our Boyce MS collection

Kathy Klok, a descendant of one of Jonathan Boyce's brothers, visited the Clarke on Jan. 26th. She was surprised at the size of the collection and realized how much work 9 students and I had put into it to organize, folder, box, inventory, create finding aids (one for each  each student's labors), understand what we read, make sense of it all, and catalog it. Two processing students visited to meet Kathy and check out the completed collection. Rarely does this happen that we complete such an arduous year-long project and someone directly related comes and is thrilled to conduct research in it. We are all very happy and feel validated. Here's a photo of Kathy with her family's papers. She's returning in the future to conduct further research. I hope some of the other students who worked hard on this collection will be able to meet her in the future. Her own genealogical research on her family is quite well done and extensive. Perhaps we'll be able to share infor…

Twitter to censor some posts if countries request it

Here we are at the great debate of freedom of expression, something not all countries have, and a discussion dear to so many of us. On Thrs Twitter stated it will censor some tweets, notably pro-Nazi tweets in Germany and France, as those nations have requested.  In nations with no or very limited freedom of expression, communication, Twitter does not operate. For more on this click here

secret JFK recordings

Nixon wasn't the only president who secretly recorded discussions. Check this out from NBCNews.

Something I'm glad isn't in my archives

Archives have collecting policies to help set limits as to what they will collect. A 1990 copy of Stalin's death mask is going on sale soon. I'm glad that we do not collect anyone's death mask. How morbid, albeit historic. We do have a copy of a cast of Lincoln's right hand from 1861. For more on Stalin's death mask click here.

ground penetrating radar reveals hidden truth of Treblinka graves

Even though as an archivist I don't deal with archaeological sites, they provide information and truths helping all of us to understand history. This leads us to the following...

Mass graves have been documented in many nations during wars and holocausts through the testimony of eye witnesses, survivors, and aerial photography. More recently, modern tools including "satellite imagery, GPS, and mapping software" have found remains of the outlines of ancient city walls and hidden or undocumented graves of Jews murdered in the Holocaust. The most recent mass graves have been documented at Treblinka through ground penetrating radar.  Jewish law and tradition forbid the exhumation of the remains. To date 6 large pits have been found. Evidence strongly suggests that they are burial pits. Bones and ash in large amounts exist on the site. The Nazis took measures to hide the site in 1943 including destroying buildings, leveling the earth, turning it into a farm and planting trees…

Images of Scott's voyage to the South Pole

Scott's team hauled supplies and heavy glass-plate negatives to the South Pole to document their epic adventure there 100 years ago. See the cool images at this BBCNews link.  I feel for the horses and the men. What were they thinking of? Greatness and glory not freezing and starving.

SOPA, Anonymous, and the FBI

The war over copyright, a point of concern for all of us continues and now the hacker group Anonymous is involved. On Thrs CNN reported that Anonymous shut down websites of the US Dept of Justice, the FBI, and 10 other entertainment websites including those for the Recording Industry Assn of America and the Motion Picture Assn of America after  the Justice Dept. shut down Megaupload, a large piracy website. The Justice Dept indicted citizens f several countries and "executed 20 search warrants in 8 countries, seizing 18 domain names and $50 million worth of assets." to shut down Megaupload. This is linked to recent protests and concerns over  SOPA and the Senate's Protect IP Act (PIPA). You'd have thought the FBI would have anticipated this through some of their agents and protected their website better. Clearly there are a lot of people, some of whom have technical clout, who are strongly protesting these bills. How will it end?   To read more click here

New Archives Administration class inventorying collection

Here is a cart with boxes on it. Each box has the name of a student on it in my class who is responsible for inventorying and processing the contents according to archival standards and creating a finding aid. That will be their final project. The boxes aren't archival so I let them write on the boxes. 20 students, 20 boxes, approx. 10 cubic ft. of lumber and personal records of Mr. Boughey of Carp Lake Lumber Co., Traverse City that will eventually be processed properly. Last night I made everyone conduct an inventory. We found some interesting things including that one of his daughter flunked out of the UM. We know he registered with the US Gov't and was recruited to see war bonds during WWI and his hunting license gives his physical description at the age of 43. He sounds tall and intimidating. For homework everyone is researching a MI archives online. Next week we are learning about archival theory. I'm really enjoying teaching this class and so far am getting positive…

an example of the value of good cataloging

Some of Charles Darwin's collection of fossils from his voyage on the Beagle were lost for 165 years because the cataloger never completely cataloged the collection. See how important it is to catalog and make collections available to the public! A friend of Darwin's, Joseph Hooker, was responsible for numbering and cataloging glass slides made from fossil plants. He never completed his work. The materials sat in drawers at the British Geological Survey HQ near Keyworth, UK, for 165 years and nobody knew where or what they were. They have recently been rediscovered and identified.  So for all of you out there who catalog and never get recognized for the excellence and importance of your work, I salute you! Your collections haven't been lost for 165 years. Your patrons should be appreciative of your efforts. For more information see the article in the BBCNews.

Wikipedia unavailable today as it protests SOPA

Today all of us who use Wikipedia at least once daily will have to go elsewhere or just sulk. Wikipedia is inaccessible today to protest SOPA and what it will do negatively to the internet and sharing of info. For me see this (omg) copyrighted BBCNews article at  If you want to review my last blog to learn about SOPA please do so, before I get shut down by SOPA.

For more info see BBCNews today about Wikipedia and other sites blacking out access at

Boston College's sealed N. Ireland paramilitary archives uproar

Happy Dr. MLK, Jr. Day. Us 12-monthers are at work although there are no classes today.

A very interesting case about archival collections closed to researchers for a set period of time is in the news. Sometimes for political, security, cultural, or personal reasons, archives closed collections for set time periods. This leads to the story...

BBCNews 1/14/2012 reports that there is a legal challenge to the Boston College Archives over two collections related to the paramilitary decommissioning and operations in Northern Ireland.

When N. Ireland paramilitary groups agreed to be decommissioned, the decommissioning was overseen by the IICD.  The IICD papers are housed at Boston College. The papers "catalogue the details of the engagement of paramilitary groups with the decommissioning process." Those involved do not want the papers made public.

The second collection in question, also housed at Boston College, is composed of oral history interviews called the Belfast Project. Th…

SOPA pros and cons

In CMLife 1/11/2012 there was an article on SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. This should really be called the Copyright Control Act or the Destroy the Internet Act, depending on how it affects you, and it will definitely affect you. The only question is how much. Congress will debate this act, which is quite controversial, later this year. Two interpretations of its potential are 1) it will protect us Americans from piracy and infringement websites. Obviously, those businesses losing funds  and jobs because of their copyrighted info such as music, movies, porn, software, etc. being widely shared online, will benefit. 2) it will control and censor what is available on the Web by hiding sites using illegal or otherwise copyrighted material, thus making these sites unavailable to the public, quickly cutting off financial support and preventing payment processors like PayPal to service the websites.  If effect, those websites violating copyright will be quickly and effectively removed fr…

Information in the news

Part of archives, an increasingly big part, is dealing with a wide variety of electronic information, including access, preservation, and security of it. There are two interesting articles in the BBCNews about security and access issues.

First, a computer worm stole 45,000 login credentials from Facebook accounts, mostly British and French. In the past, the worm or malware, Ramnit, has stolen banking credentials. Social networks are a great place for cybercriminals to have access to many accounts and personal information and spread the malware farther and quickly. Ramnit affects HTM files, Windows, and FTP credentials and cookies. In July 2011, Ramnit was blamed for 17.3% of all malware infections. From Sept.-Dec. 2011 800,000 computers were  known to be infected. Facebook believes most of the info was outdated, and initiated steps for affected users. To read more on this check the BBCNews technology section "Worm steals 45,000 Facebook passwords, researchers say" of Jan.5. …

HST 583 begun

Last night was my first teaching HST 583 Archives Administration. I think it went well. Everyone seemed excited and interested. I had a full class of 20 and 5 know nothing about archives but are excited to learn. That is so important. I can teach anyone if they want to learn.  This is the first time in over 20 years the class has been taught. It has been revived and updated to support CMU's Public History program. We discussed ancient origins of archives, the first archives system was used in 2100 BC, why archives were maintained; the destruction of archives and reasons why; and some definitions. They each chose a box of manuscripts to process from the Carp Lake Lumber Company, Traverse City, MI owned by Herbert F. Boughey. We know the company operated at least from 1911 through 1934. Some interesting items turned up in the collection including an out-of-state playbill with a saucy stage dancer kicking her legs on it. Then those who hadn't already had a tour of the stacks and …

Artifacts recovered from Titanic to go on auction block -or- the value of some historic artifacts

You may have missed this interesting tidbit in the BBCNews over Christmas break. 5,500 items, recovered from the wreck of the Titanic between 1987 and 2004, are to be auctioned on April 15th. They are valued at $189 million and will be sold as a single lot. The seller is listed as RMS Titanic, the only corporate body granted the right to recover items from the wreck. I hope coal isn't included, but shoes and china probably are. An itemized list is not available. For more information click here For more about RMS Titanic click here  This makes me think about the value of historic items. Who is going to bid on this lot and what will they do with them? They should be kept in good environmental conditions and in a secure place. What a shame if they go into a private collection and the public cannot see them. I'm very curious as to how this will play out.

recycling a phone booth into a village library

After a week out with a sick child, a bit of whimsy in archives and library news is welcome. Here's a BBCNews report on a library made from an old British phone booth. Learning and recycling combined! Enjoy.