Category Archives: Digital Projects

Yonder Comes The Devil

On November 18th while helping out at the Transcribathon of the ship’s journal from the Galvin Rare Book Room at the Boatwright Memorial library I registered to transcribe some pages myself. See the previous post in our blog by Angie White for a more detailed look at the Sail Away site.

I had never done anything like this before. These events and crowd sourcing of this type of work is becoming more and more common.

Transcribing the 19th century hand writing was not as straight forward as one would think. We were instructed to transcribe exactly what we saw in the image of the journal’s pages, not even correcting spelling. I looked through a number of pages before I decided to transcribe one of the last pages of the journal, page 250 which had just a few lines on it. I figured correctly that even a few lines would take me quite a while to transcribe.

The page I worked on is below. Click on the image for a larger view:

YonderComesTheDevil

Marion Dieterich who has more experience transcribing this journal, helped me with the transcription, and here is what I found:

Lest [yom] ones see the
Devil with his little
spade and shovel
Digging up potatoes on
the turn pike woods,

That is about as close as I could get.

The phrasing and words piqued my interest and with a little help from our friend Google, I searched the phrases “Devil with his spade and shovel” in any number of combinations adding and taking away potatoes, turnpike, and turn pike as two words

What I found was that this was an old English or Gypsy traditional song. Here it was recorded by June Tabor on her 1994 CD “Against the Streams” and i found another mention in a book from 1872 about popular Romances in the West of England. And there were others too!

Why did our journaler, Veron G. Locke who presumably wrote these words,  write down this phrase from a song in his journal in 1855? Had he just heard this song and wanted to remember the words? Was it one of his favorites? Was he the author of the song? If you find earlier references to the song, feel free to comment.

Click here for the entire Sail Away site and here for the previous post  on our Transcribathon. Contact Angie White for more information on transcribing the ship’s journal.

 

Transcribing our 19th Century Mystery

In the Galvin Rare Book Room, a solitary, nondescript ship’s journal continuously captures the imagination and interest of students, staff, and visitors. The journal is about 165 years old, weathered and worn, with almost every inch of space between its covers filled with log entries, drawings, or notes. Occasionally, a dried leaf or a beautiful, swooping signature appears on its faded blue pages. The journal begins with typical, mid-nineteenth century whaling log entries, but they slowly become less formulaic and turn into, what seem to be, long pieces of poetry and stories.

Inside cover and first page of 1850s ship's journal.

Inside cover and first page of 1850s ship’s journal.

The majority of our information about this journal derives from brief glances, short readings, and photographing, as the library knows very little about the origins or provenance of this particular item. We aren’t sure to whom it once belonged, how it came to be in the library’s collections, or even why it might have arrived in Richmond. After a very helpful consultation with experts at the Mariner’s Museum Library, it seems likely, based on handwriting changes, that there was more than one journalist throughout the book.

A large whale drawing, one of the most popular drawings in the journal.

A large whale drawing, one of the most popular drawings in the journal.

A potential journalist might have been a fellow by the name of Vernon Guyon Locke, whose signature appears frequently in both the margins and across entire pages. After a bit of research into this name, it was discovered that Locke, a British citizen, was an accused pirate during the Civil War. There is very little information about Locke during the 1850s, and perhaps this journal could shed light into his story.

Signatures of Vernon Locke

Signatures of Vernon Locke

In order to try and understand Locke and the other stories held within the journal’s pages, we know that transcriptions and historical expertise are essential. Our hope is that interested community members will visit our digital exhibition of the journal, where each page image is listed alongside an online transcription tool. Once registered, contributors can follow the transcription instructions on each page to add their typed translation of the handwriting.

We will be holding a Transcribathon on Wednesday, November 18th to kick off transcription. Registration is required, and can be completed online: http://library.richmond.edu/about/transcribathon.html

Transcribathon

Even if you can’t join us for the event, you can start transcribing, researching, or exploring the journal anytime at sailaway.richmond.edu.

Mysterious Item at Boatwright

Every so often, we come across a mystery in the library. Typically, they’re the Sherlock Holmes type, but this time, we found our own puzzle in need of investigation. Just last week, a curious little postcard was found that didn’t seem to belong with any particular book or with any collection. It was old, faded, and beautifully decorated, quickly catching the imagination and interest of those who saw it. It was definitely a mystery just waiting to be solved.

The front of the decorated postcard.

The front of the decorated postcard.

Inter-Library Loan student employees found the vintage postcard on a book cart when they were shelving in the stacks. There was no indication of where it might have fallen from or how it appeared on the cart. Because the writing and postmark were so faded, it was difficult to garner any information about the card from first glance. The best solution to help reveal the possible stories behind the card seemed to be to photograph it with our macro lens, allowing for magnification of the tiny print.

The back of the postcard, with a handwritten message.

The back of the postcard, with a handwritten message.

Once we photographed both sides of the card, we were able to see, in fine detail, important features like the postmark, partial address, and the script on the back. When the postmark was magnified and rotated, we could read that the date was most likely printed as “17-11-59,” or November 17th, 1959, with a specific time of 9:45 AM. We also saw some letters inside the outer ring of the postmark that began with “MEKLIG…” The rest of the letters were faded enough that, even with the magnification, we couldn’t decipher them. Since the postage stamp was labeled “India,” though, we did a quick Google search for locations in India beginning with the six letters on the postmark and found one possibility: Mekliganj – a city in the Indian state of West Bengal.

The postmark, with time, date, and location information.

The postmark, with time, date, and location information.

So, from photographing the card, we were able to discover two important pieces of information – the date and probable location from where the postcard was sent.

Our curiosity didn’t stop there, though! With the help and interest of various staff members, we discovered that the script on the back of the card is likely Hindi, and that the partial address on the front reads “Mills Agency.” Furthermore, some basic Googling informed us that this type of card is not super unique and, in fact, there are quite a few of these cards from the early decades of the 20th century floating around. Several descriptions of the cards online suggested that they were mailed among grain merchants to provide updates on pricing. We don’t know if that is true or not for our mysterious postcard, but it is an interesting theory and could possibly explain why the postcards were easily used for artwork later.

Address line of the postcard, that we believe reads "Mills Agency."

Address line of the postcard, that we believe reads “Mills Agency.”

We would love to know more about the postcard – such as where it came from, what it says, why it was painted on, where it might belong, etc. If you think you might have any information on this – please leave a comment below or contact us – we would be happy to hear from you! We will keep searching, as well, and will provide any updates that we find on this mystery item.

Digital Toolbox: Omeka

You know that go-to tool in your toolbox that you just can’t go without? The one you always seem to use no matter what job you start? The one you preach to your friends about? The one you seem to use in unorthodox ways? The tool which, if absent, dooms a project to failure? (That’s a stretch – there’s always a way!)

In the digital collections/humanities/content world at Boatwright, Omeka has become that tool. It’s an open source web publishing platform that is to creating content-rich cultural heritage online experiences as WordPress is to building blogs. Built using open and widely-adopted frameworks, Omeka’s flexibility, large user and developer communities, and host of add-ons make it a low-barrier joy to work with. We in the library have used it for student- and faculty-driven projects, external partnerships, and for building our own thematic sites.

Our work with Omeka started some years ago with a small exhibit focused on the history of football at the University of Richmond. The launch of UR Football Comes Home was synced with the opening of the new Robins Stadium on campus.

UR Football Comes Home

UR Football Comes Home

BML’s For the Centuries site, released as a celebration of UR’s first century at its suburban campus, is one of our larger projects and made use of several plugins for the first time (for us at least), namely Neatline and Exhibit Builder.

For the Centuries

For the Centuries

The Fight for Knowledge captures content produced through an ongoing series of undergraduate courses taught by Dr. Laura Browder and Dr. Patricia Herrera. The site incorporates student multimedia projects alongside archival content.

The Fight For Knowledge

The Fight For Knowledge

The Historian’s Workshop, another ongoing project, is a collaborative faculty/student/staff project which focuses on the Congressional Papers of Watkins Moorman Abbitt, which is housed in Boatwright Library’s Special Collections. Read more about our work with Dr. Nicole Sackley and the course which launched the site on our blog here.

The Historian's Workshop

The Historian’s Workshop

Discovery, Technology and Publishing supports several Omeka sites while not maintaining responsibility for the content. Dr. Jeannine Keefer’s Urban Campus site, which features Neatline exhibits, is among these.

Urban Campus

Urban Campus

Draw Back the Curtain, a collaborative project with Richmond’s Jewish Family Services, features images digitized by Discovery, Technology and Publishing.

Draw Back the Curtain

Draw Back the Curtain

A Pilgrims Progress is the first complete catalog of Windsor McCay’s early 20th century comic of the same name. It’s content is maintained by Kirsten McKinney (GC ’15) while DTP maintains the site. Read more about McKinney and her work on our blog here.

A Pilgrim's Progress

A Pilgrim’s Progress

We’re building some skills and experience in working under Omeka’s hood, too. Focusing primarily on making theme-based customizations, we’ve identified new areas to build skills (primarily PHP coding, but also revision control – a most useful way to keep track of code changes – and to recover from the inevitable failures). Our team has also streamlined the process of launching a new site on Amazon Web Services, and is investigating the ability to bring up a site in a fully-automated fashion.

In the end, though, Omeka is just a tool, even if it is extremely flexible and easy to use. You need to have the skills, vision and resilience – not to mention the content – to make it suit your needs. Our team here has those traits, and we’ll be releasing more Omeka-based projects in the near future – keep watch on the library’s website and this blog for announcements!

Note: several staff members from Boatwright will be presenting on their Omeka projects at this week’s Virginia Chapter of the Association of College & Research Libraries (VLACRL) spring meeting. Titled Omeka and More: Web Publishing, Digital Collections, and Online Exhibits, Jeannine Keefer will present on her Urban Campus site, and Crista LaPrade and Angie White will discuss our recent For the Centuries project. Many thanks to all three for representing UR and BML at the meeting!

DTP in Classroom Collaborations

We (Leigh McDonald and Chris Kemp) were given the opportunity to be involved in an undergraduate class last semester: The Historian’s Workshop, taught by Dr. Nicole Sackley. The course immersed students in the worlds of archives, digital libraries, museums and public history. The students were each placed in the roles of researcher and expert while working with one of Boatwright’s largely unprocessed archival collections, the Congressional Papers of Watkins Moorman Abbitt. Each of the eleven students was assigned a box of archival materials from the collection to work with, and Lynda Kachurek (Head of Rare Books and Special Collections) instructed them on archival processing methods. The students read and examined all of the documents in “their box,” and selected representative materials to describe and display in an online exhibit.

That’s where Discovery, Technology and Publishing came in. We digitized materials and launched an Omeka site to present them. We also presented three metadata workshops to the students, which focused on how to examine a document’s contents, effectively describe it, and upload it into Omeka. Since the students were the experts on their particular materials, there would be no one better equipped to provide in-depth descriptions of each item. Leigh and Chris randomly selected a document already digitized from those chosen by the students, worked through the Dublin Core metadata fields as examples, prepped our materials and headed into the workshops feeling prepared for anything. That randomly selected document turned out to be a much better lesson for the students and for us than we had imagined.

rats

Letter from W. E. Skelton to W. M. Abbitt

The document above is the one we chose. It seems pretty simple on the surface – a piece of correspondence between a constituent and his congressman regarding the work of the Agricultural Extension Service agents in his district – and we suggested describing it accordingly. An attached report described a rat control campaign in the Hampton Roads area and included statistics on the rat population in the U.S. Therefore, the first Library of Congress Subject Heading we suggested was, of course, “Rats”.

During the workshop, however, Professor Sackley asked the student why he chose this particular document and his response was enlightening. Because he had gained some perspective on Congressman Abbitt and his tenure from studying the documents in his box, he read the documents as a rather elegant but subtle plea for the need for African-American workers in his division, not just an informational letter about pest control. The line, “We are extremely limited in staff and cannot be ‘all things to all people,’” was the hint. Based on this, it was then possible to complete the metadata description more accurately by adding terms such as: African American agricultural extension workers and Virginia Polytechnic Institute’s Agricultural Extension Service. We would not necessarily have picked up on the full significance of the document without the student’s input, which illustrates the analytical skills the students brought to the table when selecting documents from the collection. We are sure that similar conversations could have occurred regarding many other documents in the collection.

Given the subject matter of this archival collection and the course readings, the students expected to find much on the topic of massive resistance to school integration in Virginia, but they discovered so much more. Students uncovered numerous interesting documents, including an exchange between Abbitt and then-Texas senator Lyndon Johnston, a letter from a high school senior regarding the statehood of Hawaii, and a pamphlet listing the names of supposed communists in Hollywood, California. All of these findings brought to life the people and the historical period, and gave the students a perspective on the times that would have been absent without access to the primary sources.

The work the students did last fall was impressive on many levels, but it only scratched the surface of what the Abbitt Papers contain. Abbitt was a congressman from 1948-1973, and his archival collection is made up of 285 boxes of material. Fortunately, Professor Sackley is going to teach the course once more in the fall of 2015. We in DTP are looking forward to getting back into the classroom with students once again, and learning right along with them.

See the fruits of the students’ labor at the course’s dedicated Omeka site, which is publicly available but still “in the workshop”: http://historiansworkshop.richmond.edu

Hear directly from the students at the Historian’s Workshop blog: http://blog.richmond.edu/historiansworkshop/

And read a feature news story about the course on the UR Website: http://news.richmond.edu/features/kp4/article/-/12356/the-historians-workshop-students-learn-about-archiving-and-digital-collections-in-hands-on-history-course.html

Written by Chris Kemp and Leigh McDonald

A New Exhibit: The 1914 Campus in 3D

Taking a look at the items and exhibits included in our centennial project, For the Centuries, visitors will discover that we uncovered and aggregated a wide range of materials for the site. While many of the digital objects on the site tell stories or have special significance all by themselves, other objects and data needed a bit of interpretation. Take graduate hometown data, for example: a spreadsheet of dates and places doesn’t say much, but if the locations are mapped and interactive as they are in our hometowns exhibit, patterns of student geographic distribution can easily be seen over time. This post is about another example of such interpretation – the conversion of a number of physical items into digital files, and the creation of something new.

The good folks at the Virginia Baptist Historical Society pointed us toward an undated topographic survey map of the campus area. Based on the building footprints present on the map, we believe that it dates to 1911, the year following Ralph Cram’s initial General Plan.

A portion of the campus area topographic map at the VBHS.

A portion of the campus area topographic map at the VBHS. While many of the footprints here represent buildings that were not constructed, North Court can be picked out on the left, and Ryland Hall is at the bottom center.

We quickly realized that this single item provided the foundation for something impressive, and that when combined with data from other materials we’d gathered from University Facilities and elsewhere, we’d be able to use it to generate a three-dimensional model of the 1914 campus, complete with the initial buildings. Three departments in Information Services, Discovery, Technology and Publishing (DTP) in Boatwright Memorial Library, the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology (CTLT), and the Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL), had the expertise and ability to work together to pull this off.

Production of the model involved a variety of techniques and technologies. The topographic map, blueprints and photographs were imaged by DTP staff using a Phase One P65+ digital back. Students and staff in DTP and DSL then worked together to digitize the map’s topographic lines and render an elevation map file using ArcGIS. The blueprints and photographs provided the information needed to create three-dimensional models of the campus’ buildings using Sketchup. (Be sure to check out this post, by Justin Madron of the DSL, about the techniques used to accomplish this.) In the CTLT, the elevation map and building models were merged into a single 3D object using Sketchup Pro and printed on a 3D Systems ProJet 460Plus printer.

Several student employees contributed in important ways to this project. Stefan St. John (DSL) georectified the maps used for this project. Jackie Palmer (DTP) digitized the survey map’s topographic lines and campus features. Jackie and Lily Calaycay (DSL) worked together to model the campus buildings from data embedded in source documents. Selmira Avdic, Francisco Cuevas, Lisa Hozey and Umurcan Solak (CTLT) assisted with the 3D printing and tile finishing process.

The completed model, now on display on the second floor of Boatwright Library, depicts the campus as it was on opening day in 1914, and serves to demonstrate the relative scale of the buildings and topography of the grounds. Reproductions of contemporary photographs of each building are distributed around the model. Come by Boatwright to see the results of our collaboration.

The completed model is displayed on the second floor of Boatwright Memorial Library.

The completed model is displayed on the second floor of Boatwright Memorial Library.

Also visit the library’s centennial celebration site, For the Centuries, at http://centuries.richmond.edu.

Photos by Angie White and Nate Ayers.

How you, dear reader, can help correct bad OCR

We have a problem that only human eyes can solve. Yours can help.

Here’s some background. In Discovery, Technology and Publishing, we use optical character recognition (OCR) software to extract text from document images in order to make them machine-readable and searchable. In simple terms, the OCR process works through a bit of binary “yes/no” logic – either something exists in a given place, or nothing does. No matter what kind of image you put into the software (color, grayscale, whatever), the application creates a temporary black and white version. That is the version to which the “yes/no” operation is applied – the resulting pixel patterns in the image are compared to “known character” patterns. Different software packages use different logic, but in the end all those “known characters” get put together and output to a text file – or something similar.

A black and white rendering of text from a Tokyo War Crimes Trial document. Your eyes can tell what most of these words are, but trust me - a machine is going to have a rough time.

A black and white rendering of text from a Tokyo War Crimes Trial document. Your eyes can tell what most of these words are, but trust me – a machine is going to have a rough time.

In the past we’ve done a variety of things with these files – from loading the pure text content into searchable database fields (as in a previous implementation of our America at War collection), to embedding the text within image files (the Student Research portions of the UR Scholarship Repository), and applying extensive XML markup to historical documents, enabling customized searching and manipulation of information (see our site focused on the published Proceedings of the Virginia Secession Convention). For folks who are dedicated to going paperless, there are plenty of OCR applications available for mobile devices, too.

OCR is a great tool, but the technology has limitations. Depending on the printing process that created an original document, a capital S might look a bit like the numeral 5 as a result of artifacts on the paper, a smudge of ink, or damaged type. The type of original materials we’re working with makes a difference, too: the high-resolution camera we use to digitize rare materials at Boatwright results in fantastic images, but the best camera on the planet can’t change the fact that microfilm is, well, microfilm. It’s a great format for preserving content, but a lousy medium from which to digitize. Occasionally, microfilm is all we have to work from.

Exposure problems during the microfilming process have a lasting impact on the usability of the images. Much of the text, particularly in the underexposed document to the right, is unreadable to an OCR application.

Exposure problems during the microfilming process have a lasting impact on the usability of the images. Much of the text, particularly in the underexposed document to the right, is unreadable to an OCR application.

Take our Collegian collection, for example. As part of UR’s 175th anniversary about 10 years ago, the full-run of the student newspaper, the Collegian, was digitized. Most of these issues existed only on seldom-used reels of microfilm rather than paper, and, as a result of the age of the papers when they were initially microfilmed, many of the resulting images were not ideal for OCR purposes. The software knew that there where characters in the images provided, and oftentimes the resulting text was way off base. If you’ve ever tried to identify long-passed family members in old, faded photographs, you have an understanding of what the OCR software is going through: you know that the person you’re looking for is there – recognizing them among the crowd is the issue. Take that one step further by attempting to identify every individual, and you’ll have an idea of the computational difficulty that the OCR process can sometimes face.

1919-5th-Marine-regiment

The 5th Marine Regiment in front of the US Capitol in 1919: Great-great-grandpa – where are you?

Fast-forward to 2014, and our Collegian collection is still online – in fact, among our digital collections, the Collegian regularly receives the highest volume of traffic. The difficulty with OCR remains, though we’ve recently incorporated a mechanism which allows users to correct the text output of the OCR process. The changes made to the underlying text files are reindexed and searchable immediately upon saving – talk about instant gratification.

So if you’re someone who is interested in the history of the University of Richmond from the students’ perspective, I invite you to contribute a little bit of time to enhance this collection. Simply click the image below, then the “Register” link at the top of the collection home page to get started.

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 3.01.45 PM

William E. Beale Photographs

This past week, through the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, we discovered about 25 photographs of the Westhampton campus that were taken by William Elton Beale, a Richmond College freshman in 1915. More specifically, the discovery was of several negative filmstrips that contained images of Beale’s prints. This was exciting because not only are they some of the only student-taken photographs we have of the campus during its opening years, but it also provided us with a fun opportunity to photograph negatives. After a couple of tries working with our light box and various camera settings, we were off and rolling with the digitization.

Lightbox set-up for photographing negative film.

Lightbox set-up for photographing negative film.

Once we completed the digitization process, we were even more excited to view the new images. Some of the pictures included buildings that we had not yet found photographic evidence of, such as the science building (which burned down in 1925) that was originally beside the steam plant. One of my personal favorites was an image of the trolley that brought students from the city all the way out to the “rural” Westhampton campus. Several more of Beale’s photographs included campus highlights like Ryland Hall, Sarah Brunet Memorial Hall, and of course, landscape shots of the lake.

The Science Hall, which burned down in 1925, was originally next to the Steam Plant.

The Science Hall, which burned down in 1925, was originally next to the Steam Plant.

The trolley brought students from the city to the Westhampton campus.

The trolley brought students from the city to the Westhampton campus.

Sarah Brunet Memorial Hall, also known as the Refectory, was built to be a dining hall.

Sarah Brunet Memorial Hall, also known as the Refectory, was built to be a dining hall.

While the majority of the images were of buildings and landscapes on campus, there was a single photograph of one of Beale’s classmates, who we have identified as “Burt” Robins, based on the 1915 Spider yearbook. In the photograph, Robins is wearing a baseball uniform with the words “Peconut Crisp” on his jersey. The words were a mystery to us at first, but after some searching, we found an advertisement in the Southern Planter that described Peconut Crisp as a candy made by the Westmoreland Candy Company, located in Richmond, during the time Beale and Robins would have been in school. It seems most likely that the candy name found itself on the jersey because the company sponsored a baseball game or team.

Bertram "Burt" L. Robins

Bertram “Burt” L. Robins with a “Peconut Crisp” uniform.

Advertisement for Peconut Crisp in The Southern Planter

Advertisement for Peconut Crisp in The Southern Planter

The images gathered from Beale’s photographs were a really exciting find for us. We were happy to see pictures from campus that we had not previously found and just as glad to practice our negative film photography. While it would have been even more exciting to see the original film, we couldn’t be more pleased with these recent additions to our Centennial collection.

“A Pilgrim’s Progress” – Winsor McCay

PPbanner
For the past year Richmond SPCS student Kirsten McKinney has been working on a project for her Masters of Liberal Arts degree. Her humanities class “Sleuths to Cyborgs: American Pop Culture in 20th Century” led her to the work of comic artist, vaudevillian, early animator, and social commentor, Winsor McCay.

You may know McCay from his comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland or his early film work including his most well known film, “Gertie the Dinosaur.

dullcareOne of McCay’s comic strips, “A Pilgrim’s Progress” by Mister Bunion appeared in the New York Evening Telegram from 1905 until 1909. McCay’s character Mr. Bunion tries to rid himself of his valise filled with “Dull Care” which represents the burdens of the modern man. McKinney describes “Dull Care” in more detail  on her site here.

McKinney’s work is truly remarkable in what it has added to the world of comic strip history. It appears that no one had digitized or had made available the entire run of the “A Pilgrim’s Progress” let alone listed all of the dates of when the strip appeared in the newspaper.

McKinney’s research led her to the New York State Library’s collections where she found microfilm of the Telegram for the years she suspected that “A Pilgrims Progress” had appeared.

McKinney requested the microfilm reels of the Telegram from Betty Tobias in the Interlibrary Loan Department at Boatwright Library. McKinney searched through the daily papers noting the publication dates of each strip and scanned the entire run of the comic.

Because some of the dialogue bubbles were difficult to decipher, McKinney transcribed the text as well as tagging the comic strip with metadata. Resulting in a wonderful resource to share with the world!

In her day job, McKinney works for the University of Richmond’s communication department and had worked with Chris Kemp of the Department of Discovery, Technology and Publishing on the public interface of the Richmond Daily Dispatch collection. Kemp had used the web publishing software omeka for a few projects in the past and suggested that McKinney use omeka for her project.

McKinney’s work is currently being used for research for a current summer class at UR, “the American Dream.”

For further reading, Boatwright library does have an over-sized copy of “Little Nemo In Slumberland” in its’ Special Collections.

A Pilgrim’s Progress by Mister Bunion from August 28, 1906:

freshlemons

March Update

Stats for March 2014

  • Materials cataloged/awaiting cataloging: 2,855/461
  • Catalog records revised: 3,858
  • Page images digitized: 2,344
  • Still images digitized: 537
  • Library catalog visitors/page views: 11,544/58,273
  • Library catalog searches: 23,967
  • Digital collection visitors/page views: 3,263/9,114

Project Snapshot

Centennial Exhibit: March saw the passing of a couple large milestones for the project – namely the completion of the Westhampton College flipbook and the aggregation of the last bit of hometown data for the last 100 years worth of graduates. We’ll start work on mapping all of that geographic data in April. We had a couple of meetings with the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology and the Digital Scholarship Lab to explore some opportunities for collaboration, and the DSL has been georeferencing several of our historic maps for use in the exhibit. The interface group has been working away on adjusting the design for the site – Andy Morton has brought some really good ideas and work to the project.

UR Scholarship: In March, 91 more theses and undergraduate papers were uploaded into the UR Scholarship Repository, and 29 more – 838 pages worth – were digitized and prepared for uploading. During the month, 115 honors papers were downloaded 759 times, and 222 master’s theses were downloaded 2,234 times.

Richmond Dispatch: We’ve been working for some time on a complete overhaul of our Daily Dispatch collection, our first big project that was released back in 2007. The Dispatch collection contains the complete run of Richmond’s “newspaper of record” from November 1860 through December 1865. At nearly 24 million words, completely encoded in XML, it is a deep collection that has contributed widely, to projects ranging from scholarly research to family history and genealogy. While it’s a great project it could use an extreme makeover, and it’s in the process of getting one. We’ve completely rebuilt the guts of the system using standardized TEI data and an XML database, have implemented a new page viewing mechanism for high-resolution images, and have worked with University Communications to plan an updated, more functional user interface. While the programming work needed to finish this project off is sidelined due to other priorities, we will be picking it up again very soon.