All posts by KeeganDohm

January Partner Spotlight: Oregon Digital

At the sharp time of 8 am MST (much earlier for dear Julia) our Metadata Assistant Keegan Dohm interviewed Oregon Digital’s Julia Simic about the latest projects, updates, and general status of Oregon Digital. Oregon Digital is a collaboration between the University of Oregon (UO) and Oregon State University (OSU), which has turned out to be a great arrangement for both institutions. Oregon Digital is rife with activity right now, read on to find out what.

On the Oregon State University side they have been focusing on making collections on institutional history available to transformative effect. The digitization and inclusion of OSU Historical Publications (which includes Yearbooks, General catalogs, Alumni magazines, and Sports information guides) in Oregon Digital has equipped Special Collections & Archives Research Center (SCARC) with a very powerful tool for conducting research and has boosted their reference capacity a ton. Questions that could not have been answered easily or at all are now very solvable with just some simple searches. They’ve essentially created their own little Google for OSU-specific content and it’s made a profound impact on their work.

Oregon Digital gave SCARC a platform for Larry Landis (soon to retire Director of SCARC) to make available all of the images that he selected for his pictorial history of OSU and to use the extensive captions and metadata that he created as part of his process. Given that he is retiring in June, this workflow put them in a position to collect a bit of his institutional memory and subject expertise for future use by patrons and staff alike.

University of Oregon has embarked on several collaborative projects with faculty to facilitate the reuse of Oregon Digital collections in their research and teaching. In 2017 they received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation called, “Leveraging GLAM Assets in Research, Teaching, and Learning: Mellon Faculty Fellowships to Advance Library-Museum Collaboration” which will provide two years of funding in support of faculty research using collections from the UO Libraries’ Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA) and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA.) The first round of projects from 2018 led to the creation of three web-based publications:

View from the Lincoln Memorial toward the Washington Monument during the march on Washington.

The March, by David Frank (Professor of Rhetoric), explores the making of James Blue’s film The March which documented the March on Washington in August of 1963, where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Consider this a complete behind the scenes special feature documenting the planning, participants, and actuality of the most iconic protest in American history.

Getrude Bass Warner and Family
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene, Oregon, Daoist Priest’s Robe (Jiangyi) with Four-Clawed Dragon Rondel Design, Qing dynasty (circa 1850-1900), MWCH45:1.

The Artful Fabric of Collecting, by Ina Asim (Professor of History), is all about Chinese textiles in the JSMA that were from the collection of Gertrude Bass Warner, an American art collector who lived in Shanghai in the early 20th century. What’s really special about this exhibition is that the Museum re-photographed a number of these textiles and produced extremely high resolution images that show details that you could not see even if you were standing in front of the object on display in the Museum.

Senjafuda from a series representing souls and ogres in hell, Gertrude Bass Warner Memorial Library, Japanese Art, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.

Yōkai Senjafuda, by Glynne Walley (Professor of East Asian Languages and Literature) highlights the collections of Japanese votive slips housed in both SCUA and JSMA. It presents a selection of senjafuda (or nosatsu) that depict monsters and ghosts and also talks about the culture around the production, collection and trading of senjafuda in Japan. There’s even a board game from the 19th century that shows the same yōkai.

Three new Mellon projects are being developed this year on topics just as interesting as the last three. Professor Akiko Walley’s (Professor of the History of Art and Architecture) project working with an album of and a collection of individually mounted Japanese calligraphic fragments (tekagami); Mary Wood (Professor of English) and Kristin Yarris’ (Professor of International Studies) project on the Morningside Hospital, a private Portland, OR mental hospital that treated patients from Alaska Territory during the first half of the twentieth century; Daphne Gallagher’s (Assoc. Dean in the Clark Honors College and Senior Lecturer of Anthropology) project to develop an undergraduate course focusing on the value of collections and the challenges and commonalities between collection curation in museums and archives (this project will not have a digital component as planned.)

A final project of note is the Kevin McDowell, the Japanese Studies Librarian, is leading an effort to upload nosatsu content to the Ten Thousand Rooms Project at Yale to make the Warner collection of nosatsu in OD available for crowdsourcing.

Oregon Digital 2.0 is on its way!

In 2014 Oregon Digital settled on Samvera as a replacement to contentDM. In 2020 Oregon Digital will finish undergoing a complete overhaul of their website through Hyrax. Hyrax is another offering from Samvera that uses the full power of Samvera and “extends it to provide a user interface around common repository features and social features”. This will result in the inclusion of myriad new features, and of course a much prettier user interface. Alongside the vastly improved UI, you will find better relationships between items and folders, a much more visual layout, and the ‘myshelf’ feature which will allow users to create their own personal collections. Additionally, with Hyrax, Oregon Digital can manage all of this through a convenient administrative dashboard. In theory this means a much more streamlined user and administrator experience. Read about Hyrax and Samvera here.

September Partner Spotlight: University of Utah

A picture of the University of Utah Willard J. Marriott Library from the Southeast.

Welcome to MWDL’s first partner spotlight! We’ll be writing one of these overviews for each of our partners over the coming months so be on the lookout for an email from our metadata assistant, Keegan Dohm.

In late summer I met with Jeremy Myntti, Head of Digital Library Services at the U, to talk about what new projects, directions, and transitions are being embarked on at the Marriott Library. We discussed new data visualization projects, collection acquisitions, new mindsets for approaching data, and the books Jeremy recently edited (The Sudden Position Guide to Cataloging & Metadata and Digital Preservation in Libraries).

New Methods, New Mindset

The U’s Digital Library Services and Digital Matters departments have been developing several small pilot projects exploring the concept of “Collections as Data”. That’s the moniker given to the new-ish approach to digital collections and metadata that arose in response to the somewhat widespread digitization of records and the rise of computational research methods in the humanities over the past couple of decades.

A problem emerges however, because we began digitizing records long before computational methods became commonplace, our digital archives are still closer to the traditional library model. Since we haven’t caught up with all the social and historical scientists turned programmers, they resort to reverse engineering ‘web scraping’ programs that automatically download records one at a time, or else give up and find other data sets. “Collections as Data” is about figuring out how to prepare and present these collections in ways they can be engaged by data visualization tools and analysis.

In their first project, members of the U’s Digital Library Services and Digital Matters teams (Rebekah Cummings, Anna Neatrour, Rachel Wittmann, and Lizzie Callaway) went deep into collections of mining oral histories, a primary focus of many Utah collections. They struck gold with the project title, dubbing it “Text Mining Mining Texts”.

Word cloud of terms that appeared frequently in the collections of mining oral histories

The word cloud above is a topic model produced by scanning through text from a portion of the mining oral histories. The topic model can provide really profound insight into what’s really going on in these historical periods. For example, it spurred the team to inquire about the usage of ‘strike’ in the histories; they discovered that it referred to not just miners striking, but striking out racist real estate laws as well. Though only a test case, this project certainly illustrates the benefits of making collections easier to access in bulk formats. A determined researcher with enough time might observe generational language variations using network analysis on the syntactic structures in each document and comparing them to more recently recorded interviews. This project along with other Collections as Data projects will be discussed in an article to be published in Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL) this December.

New Collections

In the meantime the team at the University of Utah is continuing to engage in projects like this. Recently, Rachel Wittmann incorporated location metadata from their brand new Harold Stanley Sanders Matchbooks collection into an interactive map using ArcGIS. Rachel also wrote an excellent newsletter about the collection here.

Check out the interactive version of this map here!

Ongoing Work

Alongside all these new approaches the Special Collections and Digital Library Services teams are continuing the ongoing work of preserving and processing new and old collections. Of note, the Manuscripts Division of Special Collections was awarded a grant from Utah State Archives to finish processing the materials in the Kennecott Copper Corporation records. The last couple of months saw the completion of that project with the remaining 189 cartons of materials successfully organized. These records give researchers access to stories of the numerous ethnic communities who migrated to Utah over time, seeking the opportunity of the mining industry. Now Anna Neatrour has been awarded funding from the U’s Digital Matters to begin transcribing the text from these records to make them more accessible.

Another large undertaking that could eventually tie back into the Collections as Data concept is the captioning and transcribing of the Audio Visual collections. Even for collections with only a few videos, this can be a daunting task as timing video captions can be a time-consuming process. Jeremy Myntti and Molly Steed have been heading this project with funding from the Marriott Library’s Jumpstart Grant Program.

Thanks for reading our first partner spotlight and be on the lookout for the sequel posts in the coming months!

Collecting Yellowstone Conference at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West

In a couple of days, various institutions will converge on the Buffalo Bill Center of the West to share their Yellowstone related collections in preparation for the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Park. That’s a fancy way of saying the park is turning 150 years old soon. So, in partnership within partnership with Brigham Young University and the University of Wyoming, The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is hosting the Collecting Yellowstone Conference so as to facilitate exchange and discussion about the various Yellowstone National Park collections across the nation. You can read more about the conference here

Since we won’t be attending the conference itself we’re going to give it a shoutout and recommend a few collections from the Buffalo Bill Center showcasing the history of the region.

The Cody Local History Collection

Taxi Service 1907

The Cody Local History Collection contains photographs from the early days of Cody, Wyoming. Presumably, due to amazing foresight, all these photos are perfectly formatted for viewing on a smartphone screen (as is our blog site)!

“Cody, Wyoming was founded in 1895. Long associated with William F. Cody and the East Entrance to Yellowstone Park, Cody has had a rich and varied past. Series within the collection have been set up on the history of the City of Cody and Park County, which include Cody Rod and Gun Club papers, W. F. Cody, Wyoming and Western U.S. history, local persons and families such as Elmore Jones and the Hargreaves family, general city of Cody and local scenery and wildlife photographs (many photos still unidentified), and Cody newspapers that include the Heart Mountain Sentinel of the World War II Japanese-American internment camp.”

MS 228 – Buffalo Bill Museum Photographs

William F. Cody with Grandchildren

Here we have a photograph collection of over 400 images depicting the historic town of Cody, WY including many scenes picturing William “Buffalo Bill” F. Cody himself. The collection has photos of the original Buffalo Bill Museum so you can immerse yourself the timeless location even if you aren’t attending the conference.

Buffalo Bill Scrapbook and Photograph Collections

An excerpt from a Buffalo Bill Scrapbook

The Buffalo Bill scrapbook and photograph collections are some of the most varied and interesting collections we have and well worth perusing. Even for those who haven’t caught on to the scrapbooking craze, they offer marvelous snapshots of history taking place as Buffalo Bill traveled and performed across the globe. There more than 30 scrapbooks each located in its own collection and another dozen collections of photograph albums all providing a glimpse into the history of countless locations and stories.

MS 32 – Edward Becker Collection of Indian Photographs

This collection contains an impressive selection of black-and-white photographs of American Indians living in Crow Agency, MT in 1898. The entire photo album can be downloaded conveniently in a single pdf.

MS 247 Fred R. Meyer Photographs

Native American girl on horse. Wagon on right. On item, “This is the young virtus girl chosen to select and touch the pole. She is chosen by the old Med. Women and will later in life if she carries herself right will become a Med. Woman. 1902”

Here there are 46 black and white photographic prints of Blackfeet, Cree, Crow, and Sioux peoples taken 1902-1904 by Fred R. Meyer, a photographer from Buffalo, NY. Included are some scenes of the burial of Chief Plenty Coups and of Crow tribal member Pretty Horse Right Hand, a 1902 Blackfeet medicine lodge at Browning, Montana with Chiefs Three Bears, Rocky Boy, Wolf Eagle, Old Mountain Chief, Many Guns, Little Dog and Many Tail Feathers, and images of the Pine Ridge Sioux including Chief Red Cloud, Two Moons, Crazy Horse, Chief Calico and his wife Good Dog, and Black Horn. Also included are few photographs of the Little Big Horn battlefield memorial. All the caption quotations are from text written by Fred Meyer on the back of the photographic prints sent to his friend.

MS 111 Roy Marcot

Illustration of shot targets and a Marlin Fire Arms Co. rifle.

The Buffalo Bill Center is known for its firearms collections and in the Roy Marcot collection you’ll find scans of the preserved mass advertising campaigns set out by American firearm manufacturers in the early 1800s. Many commercial arms and ammunition companies found they could greatly increase their profits by placing pictorial ads in newspapers, catalogs, and magazines. Increased technology, such as the rotary press and the use of flexography, helped to spread advertisements to previously untouched markets. Quite a bit of history was loaded into this collection.

Looking Back to International Women’s Day

Blue and yellow cloth with many small images of women
engaged in various activities, with the text “International Women’s Day March 8” in English and French. Small images of an outline of Cameroon, in yellow, red, and green, are repeated across the cloth.

What do yellow mimosas, violets, and lily-of-the-valley have in common (aside from their perfumery nature)? Each is a symbol of International Women’s Day! Dozens of countries celebrate this holiday on March 8 every year and though it isn’t recognized as any sort of official holiday in the US, it’s the perfect excuse to highlight some of our collections’ notable figures in our March post. If you read along you might also learn something new about the history of the holiday, its controversies, and its setbacks.

The holiday finds its roots at the intersection between the global feminist and socialist movements of the early 20th century. In actuality, the first Woman’s day took place on February 23, 1909 and was organized by the Socialist party of America. In the following years, various other conferences and celebrations took place around the world on different dates, until February 23rd of the Julian calendar (March 8th of the Gregorian). On that day, women began demonstrating across Russia in front of factories and breadlines. The violent response from Czar Nicholas II on the 25th kicked off the February Revolution. After the czar’s abdication, the provisional government granted women the right to vote, the first major power to do so. A lot of this is paraphrased from this wonderful article by Temma Kaplan which I recommend reading.

Across the world, the holiday in the present appears to retain very slim connections to its roots. In Russia the holiday is celebrated through men giving gifts to the women in their lives and lacks any political context. At MWDL the holiday is celebrated through an end-of-March blogpost pointing out cool, relevant, collections and offering a little historical insight.

Nell Shipman Collection

Nell Shipman (as Neeka) and Boyd Irwin (as the pilot) in a scene from “The Girl From God’s Country.”

In the 1920’s Nell Shipman helped pioneer the film industry, creating some of the first outdoor adventure films while making a statement. She owned her own production company by the age of 28 and had already achieved major success as an actress in the silent films, “God’s Country and the Woman” and “Back to God’s Country”. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, she even co-wrote and co-produced “Back to God’s Country”. On top of being a successful entrepreneur and something of a feminist icon, Nell Shipman was also very outspoken in favor of animal rights.

The Nell Shipman photographs collection comes to us from Boise State in Idaho which served as the setting for many of Shipman’s films. The photographs in the Nell Shipman digital collection were, with a few exceptions, donated to Boise State University by Shipman’s eldest son, Barry, in 1988. They date mainly from the latter years of her filmmaking career (1920-1924), but there is a sprinkling of earlier and later images. Particularly well represented by stills are her films The Girl From God’s Country (1921) and The Grub-Stake (1923). So too are her years at Priest Lake, Idaho, where she made several short films known collectively as The Little Dramas of the Big Places. No known copy of The Girl From God’s Country is known to survive, so the stills are all that remain to document that film.

Olga Reifschneider Collection

Cushion buckwheat (Eriogonum ovalifolium – Polygonaceae)

Olga Reifschneider was a botanist and naturalist who contributed greatly to the documentation of native Nevadan flora. Alongside writing about desert biology she wrote about Nevada history, petroglyphs, and published a book biographing prominent botanists in Nevada.

This collection contains 275 images of plants and trees taken in northern Nevada and the Lake Tahoe region by botanist and nature writer Olga Reifschneider from the 1940s-70s, it presents an expansive view of the botanical life of this region and is exclusively devoted to native plants

Gertrude Bass Warner

A Japanese child dressed in a kimono holds an umbrella as she poses for a studio portrait.

Gertrude Bass Warner (1863-1951) was a wealthy American woman who fell in love with Asia. She first traveled there in 1904, married an American engineer in Shanghai, and spent the rest of her life collecting, studying, and promoting Asian art and culture. She was instrumental in building Asian programs at the University of Oregon, in addition to founding the art museum to house the Murray Warner Collection of Asian Art. Mrs. Warner traveled extensively to build her collection, to study, to learn about museum construction and management, and to promote multiculturalism and appreciation for Asian culture. The Gertrude Bass Warner papers, 1909-1923, collection consists primarily of travel diaries, notes, correspondence and ephemera related to research about shrines and religious ceremonies for several manuscripts that Gertrude Bass Warner (1863-1951) was working on. There is also correspondence about pieces of art that she and her husband were collecting to bring back to the United States for a museum exhibit. The bulk of the materials are about Japan during the time period of 1909-1923. Ms. Warner was the founder and director emeritus of the University of Oregon Fine Art Museum.

Lesbian Intentional Community: Ruth Mountaingrove (b. 1923) photographs

Bernice Johnson Reagen smiles while looking to the left of the camera.

Ruth Mountaingrove (1923- ) is a photographer, writer, and artist who moved to Oregon in 1971, settling in communes and eventually co-founding Rootworks, a lesbian land in Southern Oregon. Rootworks was home to the Ovular workshops, which Ruth and Tee Corinne, another prominent lesbian photographer, and others, led. The workshops, which ran for six years, were an opportunity for women to learn photography in the context of the Women’s Movement, providing a means for the women to examine the differences between the way men pictured women and the way the women saw themselves. The feminist photography magazine, The Blatant Image, sprang from the Ovular workshops. The Ruth Mountaingrove collection consists of correspondence, diaries, ephemera, and photographs.

Doris Ulmann Photographs

Ella Welster (left), a most important singer, is pictured here with a young girl (right).

Trained as a pictorialist by Clarence White, Doris Ulmann’s early work includes a series of photographic portraits of prominent intellectuals, artists and writers: William Butler Yeats, John Dewey, Max Eastman, Sinclair Lewis, Lewis Mumford, Joseph Wood Krutch, Martha Graham, Anna Pavlova, Paul Robeson, and Lillian Gish. In 1932 Ulmann began her most important series, assembling documentation of Appalachian folk arts and crafts for Allen Eaton’s 1937 book, Handicrafts of the Southern Highlands. From 1927, Ulmann was assisted on her rural travels by John Jacob Niles, a musician and folklorist who collected ballads while Ulmann photographed. Doris Ulmann died on August 28, 1934.

Many, many more collections…

This list is by no means exhaustive so you are encouraged to go out and find more!

American Fork (UT) Royalty


Cache Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum

Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Cedar City (UT)

Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Kaysville (UT)

Daughters of the American Revolution: Lake Bonneville and Uintah Chapter Archives

Utah Technical College Women’s Association Scrapbooks

Kathleen (Kitty) Gurnsey Papers

Gracie B. Pfost Collection

Edith Irvine

Gertrude Bass Warner Papers, 2

Juanita Brooks Photograph Collection, 1928-1981

Ellis Reynolds Shipp Papers

Pearl Biddlecomb Baker Collection