Memorial Day discovery connects woman to unknown interview with father

Over the Memorial Day weekend, a woman discovered in ArchiveGrid a transcript of a 1995 oral history interview with her father, James Hunt Bohstedt, at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center. Bohstedt, who had never mentioned the interview to his daughter, details his time in World War II and the Korean War with the 4th Marine Division, 5th Army Corps, and 1st Armored Amphibious Battalion. He stayed in the Army Reserves and at age 60 retired as a First Lieutenant. “It’s been interesting; I still have an
enormous respect for the Marine Corps,” Bohstedt said at the end of the interview.

We appreciate our users who let us know how ArchiveGrid helped them discover gems like this.

Archives in the News, 5/25/2012

  • Named after Ulysses S. Grant, who was a prominent Civil War general for the Union Army, Mississippi’s first presidential library ironically resides in the library at Mississippi State University, whose first president was a Civil War lieutenant general for the Confederate Army.
  • A new finding aid in the Jacobus tenBroek Library’s catalog at the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore is for the Isabelle Grant Collection. Doctor Grant was California’s first public school teacher who was blind and an early NFB leader, and was nominated for the 1972 Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Format is no longer how the rare book and manuscript collections at Syracuse University are organized online. A new landing page for the Special Collections Research Center now lists subject strengths. Each link to detailed pages for each collecting area, where digitized materials, finding aids, and useful search terms to locate printed materials in the library catalog are compiled.
  • The Port Perry High School archives curator taught a 10th grade history class at the school – where the archives were found during preparation for a new wing – how to safely package and document items earmarked for their new home at the Scugog Heritage Centre and Archives in Ottawa, Canada.
  • I Feel Love by Donna Summer was chosen before her recent death to be inducted into the US National Recording Registry for the 1977 disco anthem’s impact on club music. Her song joins other inducted musical recordings by Prince, Grateful Dead, and Sugarhill Gang.
  • Leading up to official celebrations June 2-5 for Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee marking her 60-year reign of the British Monarchy, the Royal Archives put Queen Victoria’s digitized private diaries online. Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 was Britain’s first and only one until this year. Excerpts from her journals, illustrated by links to photographs, paintings and original documents, will go out until June 7 on Twitter @QueenVictoriaRI.

Project reveals eyewitness accounts of Civil War battles

Search in ArchiveGrid the name of someone who was in the Civil War, and their name may pop up in a record about a collection of stories about life then that they wrote. After our next collection description index update, we will have more names from the Civil War that a project at University of Texas Austin has helped make discoverable in our system.

UT’s Briscoe Center for American History has a webpage of new finding aids that staff in the last two years created for more than 1,500 collections. A grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission helped the center spend the last two years identifying thousands of backlogged archival materials and making 1,500 of them available to researchers through new online, collection-level catalog records and finding aids.

Hidden gems: Civil War collections

More than 200 of these newly-revealed collections contain accounts of civilian and military life on both Confederate and Union sides during the Civil War 150 years ago, although much of the center’s holdings relate to ways the war changed life in Texas and the South.

Some highlights from the “History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light” project:

  • The Francis H. Nash Diary, the Jacob R. Cressinger Papers, and the Joshua K. Callaway Papers provide eyewitness accounts of the battles of Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, and Missionary Ridge.
  • The Pritchard Von David Papers contain an official copy of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appottamox.
  • The Nathaniel Wych and Malcolm Kenmore Hunter Family Papers chronicle the effect of the war on family life.
  • The Fleming W. Thompson Letters yield a vivid account of the Battle of Gettysburg
  • The papers of Sam Houston, Jr. contain a remarkable sketch of a Gettysburg battle scene.

Canadian archives cuts have ripple effects

A symbiotic relationship between artists and archives exists in the Canadian province of Manitoba, where for the sixth year the Association for Manitoba Archives awarded artists for using archives in their works and making the the local arts scene richer. Will the Manitoba Awards see a seventh year? It depends. After Library and Archives Canada recently cut both the National Archival Development Program and the Canadian Council on Archives, the fate of archives and archival programs all over Canada looks gloomy, and so do the ripple effects. But if efforts to restore the NADP and CCA work, then not only will hundreds of libraries and archives stay open and employ people, creative people like the 13 Manitoba Awards recipients will be able to continue to advance society by drawing inspiration from archives and applying history to their work.

On May 28 a national march will take place in Ottowa to protest the eliminations. It echoes a similar event in 1935 calling out government mismanagement during the Great Depression. Anyone in a position to attend the Archivists’ On to Ottowa Trek, should.

Cool catablogs for archives and special collections

This week we have discussed “catablogs” and what we like about this Web 2.0 feature that some archives and special collections use to describe their collections and prime them for online discovery. Their structure is a landing page with a post for each collection description behind it, and these posts can be searched using a search box, tags, and categories. Some incorporate RSS subscription feeds. If I were a genealogist or other archives and special collections researcher who trolls the Internet every day for new material or resources, I would find this useful because new posts will get sent to me instead.

What inspired us was a recording of a May 10 presentation at the Metropolitan New York Library Council about how the Brooklyn Historical Society created a catablog using WordPress blogging software because it was a simple and inexpensive solution to repackaging collection descriptions and legacy finding aids for the Internet. It was a transition project that recruited interns and volunteers for help and eventually gained grant funding for further development. Because of how accessible their catablog is for people online used to looking at blogs and other post-Web 2.0 interfaces – and for staff learning to manage it – catablogging is a fine model for archival practice. Reference inquiries at Brooklyn Historical Society spiked in numbers as well as overall interest in and usage of the historical society’s collections. That’s what marks success in the archival industry and I love these happy endings even more when a simple and inexpensive solution prevailed.

The Archives 2.0 wiki has a page about catablogs with links to some. UMarmot at University of Massachusetts – Amherst is another well-known successful catablog.

Archives in the news, 5/11/2012

A federal judge in New York will decide whether the heirs of the man who invented the Pepsi drink formula have the right under First Amendment law to publicly disclose original documents he kept which detail the invention. When the children of Richard Ritchie found the original documents in 2008 in a bank vault and a family member told a PepsiCo historian about them, PepsiCo wanted them. Even though PepsiCo has copies of the papers, it states in case files that their disclosure would be considered a trade secret violation.

Scottish archivists in Edinburgh are trying to learn who photographed 178 images depicting life in India a century ago during the British Raj – British rule in the Indian subcontinent – that were recently found in a shoebox at the national collections. With plans to catalog the images and make them publicly available, archivists hope photography enthusiasts and members of the public and can provide more information about them.
This wasn’t the first news this week of recent discoveries of boxes of photographs. An archivist at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge found a box of more than 400 photographs stored on rolls of detailed aerial images of the city and LSU campus. Photographer and filmmaker Fonville Winans shot the series in 1947 and were found about six months ago when staff went through a large collection of his work.

Oxford American magazine named Christopher Sims, a photographer and instructor at Duke University who was a photo archivist at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., as one of the top new southern artists.

A rare book from 1743, “Dissertation Upon Parties” by Henry St. John Lord Bolingbroke, was donated by a local planter and diplomat in the 1700s to the College of Charleston and will be returned to the college after it was found in the Charleston Library Society. It had been housed there until space for it at the college opened but the Civil War and other events caused the book and other materials to be unaccounted for because of the number of times the library moved. Other items archivists found with the book include letters written by Alexander Hamilton and a letter written by John Marshall, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, a South Carolina plantation owner who helped draft the Constitution.

A feature article about the New York Times morgue explores if web technology can be a permanent home for, and capture the essence of, 160 years worth of print materials clipped and stored in the archives repository, where space preservation is a growing concern.

This summer, records of immigrants from Asian countries in the last 100 years will be available to the public at the San Francisco Federal Records Center, which is the National Archives facility in San Bruno, Calif.

Archives in the news, 5/4/2012

In historic Washington County, Tenn., the solution to a pressing issue of where to store records and archival materials was literally found behind bars. An East Tennessee State University archivist is overseeing a project in Jonesborough to convert an old jail adjacent to the county courthouse into storage for county records dating back more than 230 years. When renovation of two floors of the jail for the Washington County Archive Annex is complete, materials that right now fill four trailers will be moved in and some of them will be digitized. Where an inmate processing center was will be a space for researchers, and a kitchen and storage work spaces throughout are also part of the plan.

A retired archivist from the National Archives in Washington, D.C., who in the 1970s worked with a man who donated about 10,000 master copies of radio recordings he collected, faces prison time for stealing at least 3,000 of those recordings and selling some of them online.

Librarians, scholars, and archivists representing several Virginia institutions including Old Dominion University and Virginia Commonwealth University formed the DOVE (Desegregation of Virginia Education) project and are traveling around the state collecting materials and recording oral histories from the segregation era about Virginia’s civil rights struggles.

A report with documents seized by soldiers from Osama Bin Laden’s raided Abottabad compound and released to the Combating Terrorism Center in West Point, NY., was posted online.

Antique collector’s find reveals story of a successful family business

Ships was a common theme in some recent requests from ArchiveGrid visitors for help with their research. Although we don’t provide reference services, we were able to look in our system for online finding aids (documents that describe collections belonging to an archive) and contact information to offer as leads for our users.

One such finding aid was for a collection of the Pacific Outfitting Company at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle. Hopefully in it lies clues to the age of a small metal tray that a collector of antique fishing lures and tackle who e-mailed us found. A stamp on the back of the tray identifies Pacific Outfitting Company of Spokane, Wash., as its maker, and the illustration on the front depicts a ship run aground. According to the collector, the tray is a perfect addition to his collection and he wants to learn about its history and age.

Here is what the finding aid reveals. Managed by Max Lipman and then his son Herbert Lipman, Pacific Outfitting Company sold apparel from 1907 to 1991. It was one of the first companies in Seattle to organize a union and it remained open during the Great Depression while other neighboring Pike Street retail businesses closed. Pacific Outfitting Company later opened stores in Bellevue and Spokane; Spokane is what the tray’s stamp reads. Finding out when that store opened may help date the tray.

How would a user who discovered this finding aid in ArchiveGrid see the contents of the collection it describes in order to find this out? Each search result includes a link to the archive where the collection is housed, so users can easily find and connect with a staff person for help.

In this case, there are more reasons than pinning down the date of the tray to contact the Museum of History and Industry to see other materials in this collection. Reading the finding aid reveals a deeper story about a family business and how its local involvement fueled its success. How did the Lipman’s keep a family business open and thriving for almost a century? What were they like and what leadership qualities did they exhibit? Answers might lie in a transcript the collection has of a 1983 interview with Herbert Lipman that provides background on the family and the history of the store. As the current economy leaves many people and businesses in a state of transition and uncertainty, this primary source may contain some sound inspiration.