Online Collections

8
Sep17

Select Archives and Special Collections materials are now available in the Digital Public Library of America

Posted by: Sarah Sweeney

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NAACP pickets School CommitteeNearly 9,000 primary source documents and images curated and digitized by Northeastern University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections are now available in the Digital Public Library of America. The DPLA is a national resource that brings together digital materials held by American libraries, archives, and museums. Northeastern University Libraries’ contribution to DPLA was made possible through our membership in Digital Commonwealth (our local DPLA Hub), who harvest the metadata and thumbnails from the DRS and make them available in the DPLA.

The full set of contributed materials include videos from Northeastern’s Holocaust Awareness Week programming, records from the Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción community development program, and many more. More than a third of the contributed materials document the desegregation of Boston Public Schools and busing of students in the 1970’s and 1980’s. With assistance from the library’s Digital Metadata & Ingest group, Archives staff organized, selected, and digitized approximately 3,300 photographs, documents, and other printed ephemera created in the years before and after the busing proclamation was issued by Judge Garrity in 1974.

The Archives chose to focus on Boston’s history of desegregation as part of a coordinated effort with other institutions in the Boston Library Consortium to collect and digitize materials that “illuminate the complexity of state- and city-wide politics, community activism, and advocacy.” As Northeastern, UMass Boston, Suffolk University, and other Boston-area institutions make their primary source materials available to the public, the DPLA’s collection of artifacts documenting the desegregation of Boston Public Schools will grow. The end result will be a robust shared archive that will aid in national teaching and learning activities focused on the history and legacy of segregation and racism in the Unites States. The Boston Public Schools, for example, are already integrating these primary sources into the curriculum in an effort to “ensure that every Boston Public Schools student learns about this important and troubling chapter in our city’s history.”

These 9,000 files are just the beginning of Northeastern University Libraries’ contribution to the DPLA; we will continue to contribute to Digital Commonwealth and DPLA as more materials become available in our local repository.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Online Collections

21
Nov16

New and improved! Portal to Latino/a collections

Posted by: Giordana Mecagni

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betances1999

Announcing the Archives and Special Collections new portal to Boston’s latino/a history, http://latinohistory.library.northeastern.edu/!

Boston’s Latino/a Community History Collection contains images, documents, and posters selected from the Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción records and the La Alianza Hispana records held in the Northeastern University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections Department. The documents scanned from the collection include organizational charts and histories, committee and taskforce meeting minutes, fact sheets, by-laws, articles of incorporation, annual reports, program descriptions and brochures, newsletters, and organizational reports. The records available in this online collection document public policy formation, community relations, affordable housing, urban planning and housing rehabilitation, cultural and educational programming, violence prevention, and minority rights during the last decades of the 20th century.

The collection was originally scanned and made available in 2009 by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services but has since been completely overhauled.  Each item was given additional item-level metadata allowing users to dig deeper into the collection.  The searching and browsing interfaces were rebuilt using the Library’s Digital Scholarship Group’s CERES: Exhibit Toolkit, giving users immediate and searchable access to the collection.  CERES is a user-friendly platform with which faculty, staff, and student scholars at Northeastern University are building WordPress exhibits incorporating curated digital objects.

To learn more about the Digital Scholarship Group and CERES, go to http://dsg.neu.edu/the-drs-project-toolkit-is-now-ceres-exhibit-toolkit/

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Collections, Online Collections, Serendipity

10
Nov16

DRS Milestone: 100,000 Files!

Posted by: Sarah Sweeney

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King Husky Celebrates his first birthdayWe’re happy to announce that the Digital Repository Service (DRS) now contains more than 100,000 files! We reached this milestone earlier in the month as files were being uploaded into the Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción collection for Archives and Special Collections.

The 100,000 files stored in the DRS cover a broad range of topics, from dissertations about drug delivery systems, to images of specimens collected from the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, to student posters produced for the 2016 Research, Innovation, and Scholarship Expo. New material is being added every day, so be sure to check in regularly to see what projects Northeastern’s faculty, staff, and students are working on!

As we celebrate this milestone, here are a few highlighted statistics to share with you:

  • In total, DRS files have accumulated 170,786 views, 165,997 downloads, and 2,326 audio or video streams.
  • The most popular files are from the Profile of Nonverbal Sensitivity (PONS), which is a psychological test that measures a subject’s ability to interpret nonverbal cues. Collectively the PONS materials have been viewed 2,464 times, downloaded 2,099 times, and the videos have been streamed through the DRS 806 times.
  • Archives and Special Collections’ Digital Collection has the largest number of files (53,407), as well as the highest total views (60,984) and downloads (47,604) for all files in a single community.

Onward to 500,000!

Posted in: Online Collections

12
Oct16

BPS Desegregation Project: EAC-CPF Records and Access

Posted by: Michelle Romero

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Head and shoulder portrait of Elizabeth Coup.

The following is a series written by archivists, academics, activists, and educators making available primary source material, providing pedagogical support, and furthering the understanding of Boston Public School’s Desegregation history.

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Guest Post by Elizabeth Coup

Throughout the summer and fall of 2016, I am working with Northeastern University’s Archives and Special Collections and more specifically their portion of the materials that have been scanned for the Boston Public Schools Desegregation Project, creating EAC-CPF (Encoded Archival Context – Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families) records.  I am doing this work as part of an independent study for the Simmons College Library and Information Science master’s program, culminating more than two years of practical and intellectual study with this project, which is supervised by Katherine Wisser, Chair of the Society of American Archivists EAC Working Group.

Coming into the program at Simmons, I had a master’s from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts in art and architectural history and several years as a sports journalist, thus an interest in written analysis and description was long engrained. Discovering archival standards for description and encoding description only furthered this focus, and the relationship between entities (who might also be creators) and archival materials or records struck me from the moment I heard of it. In the ensuing years of coursework and as an early professional processing collections at the Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, and at the Center for the History of Medicine, where I am presently a processing assistant, this interest only expanded. How do we think about the records we arrange and describe? How do we make the choices for describing them? And then, on the other hand, how do we describe the entities that are related to the record—but also might be related to one another? How does describing entities and relationships between them improve access to archival materials? It is these final questions that I am exploring with my ongoing project.

In fall 2015, I met with Giordana Mecagni, the Head of Northeastern University’s Archives and Special Collections, for a project that was part of my regular coursework in the Simmons College Library and Information Sciences master’s program. During our conversation, she told me about the Boston Public Schools Desegregation Project, which immediately struck me for multiple reasons, one of which was that it might be just the project for which encoded description specific to creators, rather than materials, might be extremely useful. It is a significantly sized online collection not just from Northeastern’s archives, but also across multiple local and regional archives, and with a range of creators that spans from national and regional political figures to lesser known activists and neighborhood organizations. Thinking about describing the relationships between these creators—or entities—as well as providing users with access to additional description not of materials, but of entities, became the impetus for this project.

The project began this past summer, when I began working with Giordana Mecagni, Michelle Romero, and Daniel Jergovic to create an EAC-CPF template that could be used not only for entities related to this project, but also for all entities related to Northeastern collections. Furthermore, I established a list of all primary entities associated with the BPS Desegregation Project materials at Northeastern, and then met with Giordana and Michelle to prioritize a group for which records would be created first. The ways to think about prioritizing came from two directions: the importance of the entities within the historical context of BPS Desegregation and relevance to Northeastern’s archival holdings. Considering these concepts, we came to a list of some thirty-two entities, which range from members of government and national social justice organizations to neighborhood groups and local activists, and I stepped into the biographical research portion of the project.

Screenshot of data gathering spreadsheet.

Screenshot of data gathering spreadsheet.

Simultaneously, we began the process of reviewing the EAC-CPF template I created, based on examples from other locations exploring the standard, such as “Connecting the Dots,” a Yale-Harvard collaboration relating to describing lexicographer Samuel Johnson and his circle, and those who collected their materials, as well as the Field Book Project at the Smithsonian Institute Archives. I also looked at the more open and flexible templates being created at present for institution-wide usage at Harvard Libraries, including the Center for the History of Medicine, which is in the process of creating a template and defining guidelines at the present. With these in mind, I created a sample entry, which has then been adapted and edited through email exchanges and meeting with Northeastern staff and Kathy Wisser. We hope to have that template solidified in the coming weeks, so that I can begin producing records for those priority entities.

creenshot of EAC-CPF template.

Screenshot of EAC-CPF template.

Perhaps the most challenging (and interesting) consideration throughout the research and template creation stages is the concept that EAC does not in fact describe archival materials, but the entities themselves. For these reasons, LCSH subject headings make less sense to describe the entities than, say, occupations authorities. When writing biographical or historical notes, the note is not exactly what one might create for a finding aid; it is not related to the materials in the collection but to the entities’ entire biography or history. What we as archivists write for finding aids might be just one chapter of what should appear in an EAC-CPF record. Still, the hope is that EAC records provide better access not just to the entity, but to archival materials, both created by this entity and by entities that might be related to this individual or corporate body, also described in EAC-CPF records. In a blogpost describing the Field Book Project at the Smithsonian, Tammy Peters wrote, “EAC-CPF helps outline an historical social network. Not only can a researcher find links to materials from that one person for whom they started their search, but they can also find resources concerning the organizations and people associated with that person.”[1] Thus, though one is describing an entity—a person, corporate body, or family—one is doing so within the context of archival description.

Screenshot one of Citywide Educational Coalition EAC-CPF record.

Screenshot one of Citywide Educational Coalition EAC-CPF record.

 

Screenshot two of Citywide Educational Coalition EAC-CPF record.

Screenshot two of Citywide Educational Coalition EAC-CPF record.

The challenge, of course, with using a new standard, is to make it work specifically for an institution and its needs, and to understand how best to do that. Within the project, I am working closely with Northeastern staff and Kathy Wisser to ensure that we not only create useful records that provide improved user access to archival materials, but also create best practice guidelines and a template which archivists, student workers and interns can all use going forward. Thus, the project is not just one that lasts a bit longer than a semester, but instead creates practice that will move into the future with Northeastern’s Archives and Special Collections.

[1] Peters, Tammy, “Historical Context and Connections,” http://nmnh.typepad.com/fieldbooks/2012/09/historical-context-and-connections.html

Posted in: African-American Studies, Archives and Special Collections, Online Collections, Serendipity

7
Sep16

Recently digitized video collection shares highlights from Northeastern’s history

Posted by: Joey Heinen

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One of the Library’s Digital Publishing program’s main goals is to digitize and disseminate high-interest, Northeastern-produced materials in the Archives and elsewhere on campus. The Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections collects, preserves, and provides access to significant moments from the University’s history as well as the history of underrepresented communities in the Boston area. Preserving some of the prized video assets from both the social justice and Northeastern collections has been a particular focus lately, and some recently digitized hidden gems from the University Photography and Media Collection happens to showcase both vital Northeastern history and social issues affecting the community around it.

One particular highlight is a video of a speech which Jesse Jackson gave on campus in 1987. In it, Jackson, well-known as an advocate for the African-American community, speaks mainly about the AIDS crisis; specifically addressing the unwillingness of the Reagan administration to combat the epidemic (16,908 people died that year). Jackson highlights the economic, racial, and social disparities that were so deeply embedded in the AIDS epidemic, and calls on local and national leaders to do what they can. You can view this video and others like it in the University Photography and Media Collection.

Jesse Jackson speaking at Northeastern, 1987

Jesse Jackson speaking at Northeastern, 1987

Posted in: African-American Studies, Archives and Special Collections, Biology, Health Sciences, Online Collections, Political Science, Serendipity