WWI centennial uncovers old wounds

Considered the start of chain of events that led to World War I, the assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife occurred 100 years ago this Saturday.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand with his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg. Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

The shots were carried out by Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian teenager from Bosnia who was part of a revolutionary group that opposed occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary. Ferdinand was heir to that empire’s throne. Princip, whose father opposed the Ottoman empire when it occupied the area, wanted an independent Yugoslavian nation for Serbs and other Balkan ethnic groups.

Most historians agree Ferdinand’s death ignited what had been a “powder keg” of tensions stemming from decades of conflict between empires, countries, and ethnic groups. Austria-Hungary and Serbia went to war. Sides formed, and World War I erupted. It lasted for four years, leaving tens of millions of soldiers, civilians, and war horses dead, wounded, and traumatized.

The United States didn’t get involved until 1917, when it intercepted an encrypted note from Germany to Mexico requesting an alliance against the U.S.

The losing countries fell into ruin, especially Germany, and the “war to end all wars” paved the way for nationalist groups responsible for World War II activity to take root. The former ruling empires dissolved and Yugoslavia was formed. So Princip today considered either a hero or a terrorist, depending on where his name is mentioned. A scholarly conference held last week in Sarajevo to mark the war’s centennial revealed that conflicting political viewpoints about who was responsible for it are still contentious.

All quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and The poems by Wilfred Owen are prominent examples of works about World War I by people who were in the throes of it. Remarque was a German solder and his papers can be found in ArchiveGrid. Owen fought for the British and his papers are also in ArchiveGrid. Another interesting collection at the Center for American History at the University of Texas documents the experiences of 20 American soldiers.

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Grant to enhance outdoor theater archive at ECU’s Joyner Library

A Midsummer Night's Dream at the 2013 Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Image source: www.osfashland.org

Put me in the category of Oregonians who hasn’t been to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, but will someday go. For nearly 80 years, the Tony award-winning OSF has attracted audiences to its outdoor Shakespearean stage plays each summer and more recently to indoor plays by other classical and contemporary playwrights.

Although OSF has its own archive, the professional theater company is a member of the Institute of Outdoor Theatre at East Carolina University’s College of Fine Arts and Communication. IOT membership provides the OSF and other theaters around the world with technical assistance, documentation of best practices in the field, management and feasibility studies, networking and conference activities, and other support.

More than 600 performing arts organizations, some dating back to the 1920s, have joined the IOT since it began in 1963. That means over time, the IOT has grown an archive of photographs, video and audio recordings, publicity materials, feasibility studies, original research, and other materials. Now the archive is on its way to reaching more researchers – especially set builders, folklorists, and historians.

A $56,290 National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) grant awarded this month to ECU’s Joyner Library will help pay to process the collections and publish a detailed EAD finding aid. ECU matched the one-year grant so a total of $119,500 can go toward the IOT archive project. The NHPRC of the National Archives funds projects  promoting the preservation and use of the nation’s most valuable archival resources.

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A view of life masks in ArchiveGrid

James Leo Herlihy life mask. Image courtesty of University of Delaware Special Collections.

In a post last week listing archival materials which could undergo replication with a 3-D printer, we pointed out life masks of Abraham Lincoln and Ludwig van Beethoven as possible candidates.

We then asked ArchiveGrid contributors what valuable items in their collections they would replicate with 3-D technology. Rebecca Johnson Melvin at the University of Delaware Library’s Special Collections pointed us to their life mask – a plaster cast of James Leo Herlihy’s face made while he was alive. Herlihy was an American writer and actor and his life mask is part of a collection of his letters.

Here are some other faces revealed by a search in ArchiveGrid for “life masks”:

  • Poet John Keats at Harvard University, where the largest collection of his papers is held.

Is there a life mask in your collection, or have you learned about one in your research? Let us know in the comments below or by emailing us.

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Freedom rings across generations

Anniversaries of three historical events that shaped the 20th Century are this week: The 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square on June 3 and 4, the 1968 Robert F. Kennedy assassination on June 5, and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy invasion on June 6. It’s interesting to look at the sequential generations each one affected.

Tiananmen Square. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Generation X, generally defined as those born between 1961 and 1981, may not carry the same cultural meaning in China as it does in the Western World. But students and others in 1989 who led weeks of protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square for a more democratic government – until martial law used deadly force to shut them down – probably shared their global cohort’s pursuit of political and social change. An American couple living and teaching English in China at the time saved materials focusing on the political turmoil and Tiananmen Square and that collection is now at the University of Puget Sound for research.

Credit for significant political and social change after World War II in the United States goes to the Baby Boomers, born from about 1945 through the 1960s. After President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963, Robert F. Kennedy ran for president, determined to continue the legacy of change ushered in by his older brother. What would the 1970s political landscape have looked like had RFK  been elected, rather than fatally shot in Los Angeles?

Kennedy’s oldest brother, Joseph Kennedy Jr., belonged to The Greatest Generation, or the G.I. Generation, because they were born around 1901 through 1924 and fought in World War II. Joe Jr. was killed in action just months after the D-Day Normandy invasion. But he and others who helped allied forces win the war have, and will continue to be, remembered by future generations thanks to the work of archivists and researchers.

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Printing the past in 3-D

This article about a Berkeley, Calif., startup that sells life-like figurines of people demonstrates commercial opportunities in three-dimensional printing. Meanwhile at the Smithsonian, a project to replicate rare objects shows the future of 3-D technology in archives and special collections. It can transform research and also how collections are preserved and exhibited. Will it also change policies about off-site requests for copies and reproductions of items, as more archives own 3-D printers? Time will tell.

A 3-D printer in action. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

In ArchiveGrid, I trolled more than 19,000 records for three-dimensional objects and selected items which may someday be good candidates for 3-D replication based on their historical significance. (How to do that search in ArchiveGrid: Type recordtype:r in the search box and you will see just the records for three-dimensional artifacts or naturally occurring objects. In MARC-speak, that means Leader Byte 6 has subfield r.)

1. In the 1800s when it was en vogue to create life masks – casts of peoples’ faces – there was one made of Ludwig van Beethoven when the composer was 42. It’s now at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. Abraham Lincoln’s life mask at The Smithsonian already underwent a 3-D makeover.

2. A take on Lincoln Logs would be a 123-pience Frank Lloyd Wright building block set at at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Wood and slate pieces come in a box with a design sheet.

3. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln would guard your money in this Mount Rushmore-shaped coin bank at the Canadian Centre for Architecture.

4. Learning about the history of printing, at least from a Victorian-era point of view, could be fun with a 48-piece jigsaw puzzle at the Rochester Institute of Technology that depicts historic moments in printing.

5. Access to around 500 pieces of African art at New York Public Library is for qualified and experienced researchers, according to the collection’s finding aid. Modeling some highlights into 3-D prints is one way this emerging technology can open doors for more researchers.

6. Cast hands of pianist Percy Grainger are kept at University of Melbourne and are a tribute to Australian-born composers of the 20th century.

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Collections from land down under now aboard ArchiveGrid

A century-old story of the British Antarctic expedition and the Australian photographer who documented it needs to be told before going into detail about our most recent ArchiveGrid index update.

100 years ago, against the backdrop of the early stages of World War One, the national heroes in Great Britain and Norway were men who had been on expeditions in Antarctica, the world’s final frontier at the time. Like the 1960s United States/Russia race to the moon, Britain wanted to beat Norway to the South Pole. Roald Amundsen took that honor for Norway in 1911, easily beating Britain’s Robert Falcon Scott with superiority in skiing and dog sledding.

As a sort of consolation prize, 40-year-old Sir Ernest Shackleton, who contracted scurvy while on Scott’s first polar mission 12 years before, was determined to re-capture England’s glory by being the first to cross Antarctica.

Shackleton made sure that members of his expedition had the best of everything. Outfitted in Burberry aboard the new Norwegian barquentineEndurance,” the men, along with 69 sled dogs, left a south Atlantic whaling station on Dec. 5, 1914, bound for the Weddell Sea. Their plan after crossing the continent was to catch a relief ship, the Aurora, in the Ross Sea.

Strong tents, big and hearty dogs, a disease-preventing nutrition plan, and a ship built of Norwegian fir to withstand ice were supposed to help the Shackleton Expedition succeed. Instead, ice packs trapped the Endurance, crushed her, and marooned the crew. They didn’t touch land for 497 days and they turned to eating their dogs, penguins, and seals for survival. Their survival was a testament to Shackleton’s leadership.

Some funds the Irish-born Shackleton raised for the cross-Antarctic expedition came from news and film rights sales. That’s where Australian photographer Frank Hurley comes into the picture. He provided the images that would cement what went from an ambitious undertaking to one of the most compelling stories of human survival. Not only did they help pay off debt Shackleton owed after the expedition, they are still held in high regard for their beauty and storytelling power.

Photo-journalists today can learn from Hurley’s innovation and courage to push the limits for the best shots, get close to his subjects, and leave no angle unconsidered. Hurley’s preservation technique of soldering negatives in metal casing is how his work incurred little damage during the expedition.

Gone is discovery done the Shackleton way, marked by hunger, strain, animal deaths, and rugged perseverance. But now you can discover photographs from the Shackleton Expedition in ArchiveGrid. New Australian contributors and collections of Hurley’s work were brought aboard during our most recent index update. The National Library of Australia’s collection of digitized glass plate negatives of photos taken during the expedition are just part of the collections that are newly included in ArchiveGrid.

We recently expanded the filter that selects WorldCat records for inclusion in ArchiveGrid to include more collections of images and both visual and audio recordings. After that expansion we needed to also broaden our horizons for institutions that we register for inclusion in ArchiveGrid. WorldCat contributors in Australia and New Zealand that weren’t previously registered as ArchiveGrid institutions have now been added, including:

We were excited to see how rich these collections from Down Under are, especially the materials related to the history of South Pole exploration. We are also excited that these collections are more “discoverable” for researchers. Isn’t excitement what drives people farther than they imagined? Who else on Dec. 5, 1914 felt more excitement than Sir Shackleton? Maybe, by seeing the uncharted future through Hurley’s lens, we can feel a bit of that excitement, too.

With the addition of these significant collection descriptions to ArchiveGrid, the Shackleton Expedition records are just the tip of the iceberg, in terms of collections you can explore. We invite you to share your discoveries with us!

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Images of McCullough’s bridges in ArchiveGrid

Highway 101 north of Gold Beach, Ore., crosses the Rogue River on a concrete arch bridge with art deco obelisks – a design that seems out of place with the industry and resort towns 101 passes through, but not out of place with the history of Oregon’s coastal bridges. The bridge, which is on the National Register of Historical Places, is one of more than 20 Oregon bridges designed in the 1920s and 1930s by Conde McCullough, an Oregon Department of Transportation engineer and civil engineering professor at Oregon State University. McCullough’s distinct bridges still stand along U.S. Route 101. In ArchiveGrid, collections of images of these bridges under construction and the towns they’re in can be found.

The Isaac Lee Patterson Bridge. Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

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Chicago’s Wrigley Field centennial is a nostalgic grand slam

Image source: http://fanfoodie.blogspot.com

Nowhere else in professional sports do joy and pain intersect more than for the the Chicago Cubs, the longtime residents of Wrigley Field, the venerated Major League ballpark on Chicago’s north side.

Wrigley Field opened as Weeghman Park on April 23, 1914, 100 years ago today.

In the heat of summer, nothing is better than the view east from “the friendly confines” of Wrigley, passing layered brick buildings and L-trains and ending where the dark sky and a serene Lake Michigan, dotted with white sails, meet.

But the Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908, including the 100 years at Wrigley. And still fans of “the Lovable Losers” crowd sidewalks, L-trains and parking lots to see their team play.[1] Perhaps the most famous fan in Cubs history is Steve Bartman, whose interference with a catch in 2003 cost the Cubs a playoff series.

The rustic charm of the Major’s second oldest park (after Boston’s Fenway) fosters loyalty. Ivy adorns the brick wall surrounding the outfield, and rooftops on buildings across Waveland Avenue host raucous viewing parties. Wrigley boasts a manually operated scoreboard, real organ music, minimal advertising and all the odors of old-timey baseball. Even the location is quaint, squeezed into an irregular grouping of homes and businesses affectionately known as “Wrigleytown” in the residential Lakeview neighborhood.

How many times in the last century have people consumed all these sights, smells and sounds? A lot if they had Cubs seasons tickets – a 1929 hallmark of Cubs executive and female sports industry pioneer Margaret Donahue, who will be honored during Wrigley Field’s decade-themed centennial celebrations this season. Its namesake, Wrigley, is indeed the chewing gum guy – William Wrigley Jr.[2] owned the team in 1926 when it was renamed after him.

The greatness of the game itself is etched in the park’s history. Pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, third baseman Ron Santo and shortstop Ernie Banks led great Cubs teams of the 1960s. Pitcher Bruce Sutter in the late 1970s helped define the role of the modern closer and second baseman Ryne Sandberg shone in the 1980s. All are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but none ever earned a championship ring as a Cub.

In 1998, Cub Sammy Sosa hit 66 home runs as part of a famous duel with St. Louis Cardinal Mark McGwire to break Roger Maris’ old single-season record of 61. McGwire eventually ended up winning that battle by hitting 71 bombs of his own. Both were later disgraced by allegations of steroid use to enhance their performances.

1. From ArchiveGrid record, “Crowd at Cubs Park, July 27, 1929 [graphic].”

2. From ArchiveGrid record, “William Wrigley watches his team work [graphic].”

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For Earth Day, find historical photographs in ArchiveGrid of car-free commuting

Transportation, and how much energy is consumed to get people around, is an environmental topic workers can address for Earth Day today by trying cleaner commutes. Personal automobile alternatives like walking, bicycling, and shared transport can cut carbon emissions, count toward the day’s exercise, and connect with early ways of getting around. However, according to 2012 United States Census Bureau survey data, zero-emission commutes still rank low in how the American workforce gets to and from work: Less than one percent rode a bicycle and nearly three percent walked.

Since I work from home and don’t commute, my Earth Day act is to find historical photographs in ArchiveGrid of car-free commuting. Here are five:

Hemet, Calif., 1899 (from a collection at Los Angeles Public Library)

Eastern Montana, 1904

Arcata, Calif., 1990

Oregon, 19th century

Seattle, Wash., 1906-1947

What can you find?

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ArchiveGrid jogs historical memory of women in the Boston Marathon

This Easter weekend, athletes are getting ready to run the Boston Marathon on Monday the 21st. It was also on a Monday in April 1897, when the first Boston Marathon was run – 10 years after the Boston Athletic Association was established.

Image source: http://highergearchicago.com

As the Boston Marathon has grown in prestige, so has its historical significance in women’s sports – running in particular. Roberta Gibb in 1966 was the first woman to run the race, although she participated unofficially that year and again in 1967 and 1968. Women weren’t allowed to officially sign up until 1972. However in 1967, Kathrine Switzer registered herself under a vague name and despite efforts to physically remove her from the course, she officially completed the marathon. The next year she earner her master’s degree from Syracuse Univeristy, where her papers are held. Gibb in 1981 wrote about her experience for Ms. Magazine and that piece is in a collection at Radcliffe College of letters to the magazine.

In the early 1980s, Joan Benoit Samuelson became the first person to win the Boston and Olympic marathons. Also an author, her books include Running Tide, and Running for Women. New England University in Maine, her home state, houses a collection of her newspaper clippings and articles. Crowning her achievements in 1996, Samuelson was on a Wheaties cereal box commemorating the Boston Marathon’s 100th running. Radcliffe College has a box in a collection of female sports ephemera.

Other collections at Radcliffe College around the history of women in America include one for Hazel Hitson Weidman, a medical anthropologist who served in World War II. The finding aid includes details about her correspondence with family members, including her daughter-in-law running marathons barefoot – in 2013, she was about a mile-and-a-half out from the Boston Marathon finish line when terrorist bombs exploded.

What do repeat race runners do with their collections of race shirts? Diane Sherrer made a quilt out of hers, and it’s in a collection at Cornell University of other materials spanning 40 years of her competitive running and journalism career. Her years at the Boston Marathon are recorded in that collection. Can’t remember what the race’s 1999 shirt looked like? There’s one in the collection.

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