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.

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.

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.

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.

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.