African-American Studies

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.

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

24
Aug12

New resource: Oxford Bibliographies

Posted by: Christine Oka

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The Northeastern University Libraries presents Oxford Bibliographies in six subject areas: Atlantic History, Cinema and Media Studies, Criminology, Islamic Studies, Sociology, and Victorian Literature.

Developed cooperatively with scholars and librarians, each bibliography provides authoritative research guidance with a large collection of articles addressing major themes and topics within a discipline, with commentary and selective, annotated bibliography. The articles cite resources in many formats: books, along with more recent online sources, such as digital archives, datasets, electronic encyclopedias, and more. Output options for saving, annotating and sharing citations and searches are available with each article.

The Oxford Bibliographies provide access to important themes and topics in a field of study or discipline for scholars, researchers, and students. Have a look and see how they might help you in your research!

 

Posted in: African-American Studies, Cinema Studies, Criminal Justice, English and American Literature, History, Library News and Events, Sociology

24
Apr12

History Through Biography

Posted by: Jamie Dendy

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Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn 

The award winning American National Biography Online and Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (for British history) are now available through NU Libraries. Within these resources, you are able to search by person, subject, date, or location. For example, you can find major artists who lived in Massachusetts in the late 1800s. Results include lengthy biographical entries and links to related people and themes. The American National Biography Online includes the Oxford Companion to United States History so that you can quickly link from a noted figure to article on topics related to that figure.

For more on the Library’s resources in History, please see the Subject Guide.

Posted in: African-American Studies, History, Research Online

26
Sep11

Extended back files of Web of Science now available

Posted by: Jamie Dendy

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An article on a revision of the US Government’s socio-economic index, published in 1982 in the journal, Social Science Research, has been cited by other articles in a broad array of academic journals over 300 times, with the most recent citation being from an article published in June 2011. By extending our offering of Web of Science back files from 1975 through 1992, we are able to provide Northeastern researchers with these historical statistics, allowing them to identify the most important articles, journals, institutions, and authors in their field or subject area of study.

When viewing any article in the Web of Science database, a list of citations from that article are provided as well as a list of other subsequent articles and conference proceedings that cite the original article. Links connect to the full text of the cited articles when the full text is available. And don’t be fooled by the title of this database.  As the above example illustrates, Web of Science covers scholarly articles in all types of sciences that include journals in the humanities and social sciences.

Visit our News & Events page to read more about this collection or visit our full listing of online databases and trials.

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