ArchiveGrid gets wild at the Technology Petting Zoo

Technology Petting Zoo participants wore badges bearing images of Minnesota animals, such as moose (above) and elk.

For the second year, ArchiveGrid was featured in the Technology Petting Zoo at the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) Preconfernce, held this week in Minneapolis, Minn.
(Note: RBMS is a section of the Association for College and Research Libraries, or ACRL, which is part of the American Library Association. “Preconference” relates to the summer ALA Annual Meeting, which immediately follows RBMS.)
Last year Ellen Eckert and I both attended the inaugural Technology Petting Zoo, or TPZ, at RBMS in San Diego, Calif., and I didn’t know what to expect. Since this was a new program feature, would people come? Would they ask questions? Would ArchiveGrid be well received? The answer to all of those questions was yes, so when the organizers for RBMS asked me if ArchiveGrid would be on the docket for the TPZ this year, of course I said yes.
At the TPZ, ArchiveGrid shared the space with Aeon and ArchivesSpace, along with demos on how institutions are using OMEKA, Google Apps Suite, and how they are measuring the impact of primary source research on student performance. Since I was on my own and talking nonstop to RBMS attendees who stopped by, I didn’t have a chance to talk with others who were also giving demos. Too bad! The time passed quickly as I answered questions about ArchiveGrid, gave brief demos, and talked a little about the research we’ll be publishing soon.
If you didn’t have a chance to see ArchiveGrid in action at RBMS, please come see us in the at SAA in New Orleans in August. Bruce Washburn, Ellen and I will all be at the booth, ready to answer questions, and hear about ArchiveGrid ideas and experiences.

Georgia Archives starts new chapter with state’s university system

The Georgia Archives, which according to a local news article has enough records, manuscripts, and documents to bury a football field under seven feet of archival material, has remained open after the Secretary of State’s office almost closed it to the public last year. Reasons cited were budget cuts but opposition helped keep it open. Next month, it will move from the Secretary of State’s office to the Board of Regents office while remaining at its physical location in Morrow and be part of the University System of Georgia. A budget increase to go along with it will fund expanded services. Georgia Archives has more than 1,300 archival collection descriptions in ArchiveGrid for researchers to learn about some of the state’s most valuable treasures and we are happy to hear the good news and what it means for the state archives and universities to collaborate.

Here is a list from the same Athens Banner-Herald article of what the archives has, and why public closure would have been a total shame:

• The 1733 Royal Charter establishing the colony of Georgia;

• A recorded copy of the Declaration of Independence from 1777;

• An 1818 map of the still-disputed Tennessee-Georgia border, as well as hundreds of other maps;

• Land Lottery Records from 1832, the time of the great Yazoo Land Fraud;

• The state’s Ordinance of Secession, from 1861;

• Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s order to evacuate Atlanta, from 1864.

The state archives’ enormous photo collection also provided the images for the 1994 book “Vanishing Georgia,” a prize-winning collection of historic photos.

But there’s much more than that — about 80,000 cubic feet of permanent records and manuscripts, including more than 260 million documents. That’s enough to bury Sanford Stadium’s football field under about 7 feet of archival material.

Twitter-to-Cluny Abbey road traveled in ArchiveGrid

When ArchiveGrid gets mentioned in Twitter, the tweet appears in a feed embedded on the ArchiveGrid homepage. Not only does this tool let us track what gets said about ArchiveGrid in Twitter, we learn what our users searched. Recently, it was the Abbey of Cluny, a 10th-century Benedictine monastery in France, which archaeologist and Harvard Graduate School of Design professor Kenneth John Conant excavated and researched for 40 years in study of medieval architecture. Conant was also a 1915 Harvard alum, according to another ArchiveGrid search which retrieved his papers.

According to the scope and content note for the Cluny Collection which the Tweet linked to, “Conant completely reconstructed in drawings and models the monastic Romanesque church.” No small feat, but neither is this collection in terms of its record of medieval architectural history. It contains 65 linear feet of books and periodicals, photos, objects and correspondence and 1200 drawings related to Conant’s work at the abbey.

Bits of the abbey’s history are also at Harvard, such as a vellum document from a lawsuit in 1404 in which the abbot of Cluny Abbey was the defendant.

Restored archival materials return to their home at Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall Archives, one of the year’s first new ArchiveGrid contributors, published a blog post about a restoration project which started last year of archival materials dating back to before the music hall was constructed:

“Among the recently returned items is one of our most valuable: an 1889 architectural drawing of Carnegie Hall by the original architect, William Burnet Tuthill. It depicts a cross-section of the interior looking east from Seventh Avenue. The fine pencil detailing is exquisite; made all the more visible by the patient and diligent work of the conservators. Though badly abused along the way, the drawing survived a 124-year journey that began at Tuthill’s office.”

Before the drawing wound up in the hall’s archives, it had also been in the hands of his son, and his granddaughter. His son, Burnet C. Tuthill, shows up in one of Carnegie Hall’s eight finding aids we have in ArchiveGrid. It includes correspondence between him and the hall’s longtime rental agent and secretary, Leonora Shier. But the Tuthill’s are one of many family names ingrained in the hall’s history. As the thousands of donated items which underwent restoration at Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, Mass., thanks to help from digitization grants, get more easily accessed, hopefully more family ties will be discovered and aid in ongoing efforts to preserve the hall and its historical record.

For International Archives Day, archivists worldwide ask Google for a Doodle

If Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” then Google should apply to their homepage logo a Doodle with an archives theme – an “ArchivesDoodle” – on Sunday, June 9 for International Archives Day.

Libraries, archives, and Google greatly share the same mission, so why not? National Archives of Australia already submitted their lovely Doodle, and other people and institutions from many of the almost two dozen countries participating in IAD are following suit on Twitter.

Twitter is where efforts to get archives in a GoogleDoodle this weekend are being shared and promoted en masse. The group behind the #followanarchive movement is also behind the plea to Google for a Doodle on IAD, which the International Council on Archives started six years ago to promote archives and the archival profession worldwide. Since June 1, #followanarchive has urged people to Tweet their Doodle ideas with the #archivesdoodle tag until June 8 but the urging should continue until Google complies. We can’t wait.

Jefferson Davis’ library and museum is open, while ArchiveGrid shows where his papers are

An op-ed piece from the Sunday Los Angeles Times about Monday’s official opening of the new Jefferson Davis Presidential Museum and Library at the Beauvoir mansion in Biloxi, Miss., stated that Davis’ personal papers do not actually reside there: “Instead, they’re scattered across several universities and, in a particularly painful twist for Southerners, the New York Public Library.”

An ArchiveGrid search for Jefferson Davis, done out of curiosity about the whereabouts of his papers and related materials, revealed places in both northern and southern states holding resources about the Confederate leader. What Davis would have to say about this will probably never be known, but for the sake of speculation, he may have called for the library which bears his name to acquire some of his most pertinent collections, or improve access to them, so Beauvoir can establish itself as a destination for archival researchers.

Always endearing about figures like Jefferson Davis are their humbling moments, one being when they walk their daughters as brides down the aisle. Davis’ daughter Margaret Howell married Joel Addison Hayes, Jr. at St. Lazarus Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tenn., on New Year’s Day of 1876. One of their wedding invitations is held at Kentucky Historical Society and perhaps it looks elegant, as southern weddings are often known for being.