History of Spring Lake

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In a previous post I discussed a project to digitize and create an exhibit related to the history of Aquarena Springs. Entitled The “History of Spring Lake”, the online exhibit is now available. Only a portion of the archives’ materials are included in this exhibit.

This “History of Spring Lake” exhibit was initially planned and constructed by Jason Crouch, a Graduate Student in the Public History Program at the Texas State University Center for Texas Public History. Digitization support was provided by Digital Media Specialist, Jeremy Moore. Programming support and customization of the Omeka site was provided by Jason Long. Additional support provided by Todd Peters, Head, Digital & Web Services.

This exhibit was edited and revised to feature a variety of primary source materials from the University Archives. The purpose of this exhibit is to provide a brief history of Spring Lake; it is not meant to be an exhaustive history of the people, places, or details.

The University Archives would like to thank Anna Huff and John Fletcher for providing content representing The Meadows Center, as well as the local repositories and local collections that allowed us to feature their materials in this exhibit.

And the earth did not swallow him

dvd-coverWe recently completed a fun project that is notable for a few reasons. The first is because the subject of the project was creating on online exhibit on the making of Severo Perez’s beautiful film, … and the earth did not swallow him, based on Tomás Rivera’s classic 1971 Chicano novel, …y no se lo tragó la tierra, which is a semi-autobiographical novel that recounts the life of workers and families of the migrant camps where his family stayed while doing farm work. In 1995 Severo Perez wrote an English screenplay, using his own translation, produced, and directed a film version of the novel. The film was well received and received critical acclaim and several film awards.

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Severo Perez – 2014

In 2014 Severo Perez donated the production archives from the film to the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University. The Severo Perez Archive is a comprehensive collection that traces the development of all of his major works, from the first drafts to the finished productions. Included are scripts, correspondence, location photos, storyboards, animation cells, casting photos, production forms, continuity photos, rough cuts, outtakes, master reels, sound reels, editing logs, artifacts, and publicity materials.

The second reason the project is notable is the participation of the donor and filmmaker in the project. During the Fall 2015 semester, Severo Perez was an artist-in-residence at Texas State, sponsored by the Center for the Study of the Southwest and its director, Dr. Frank de la Teja. Severo Perez’s presence on campus coincided with the university’s 2015-2016 Common Experience theme: “Bridged Through Stories: Shared Heritage of the United States and Mexico, an Homage to Dr. Tomás Rivera.”

He offered his time to help with the online exhibit and went through his archives with Steve Davis, the curator of the Southwestern Writer’s Collection.

The third and possibly most interesting feature of the exhibit is its arrangement. We were able to create a unique web resource which not only provides information on the making of this film but also explores the film making process in general process from beginning to finish, drawing from the extensive materials in the Severo Perez collection. With the assistance of the Texas State Instructional Technology Services Video Production team, we conducted a new video interview of Mr. Perez talking about the making of the film. Steve Davis reviewed the video and took notes and included time codes with each note.

notesThe next step is probably the most important part of the process. Mr. Davis rearranged his notes by topic and added topic headings based on his knowledge of the content and arrangement of the collection. These rearranged notes then became an outline which was used to construct the framework for the exhibit in Omeka by our programmer, Jason Long.
Todd Peters used the outline with time codes to create 109 short video clips from the 2.5hr interview and Jeremy Moore, the Digital Media Specialist, digitized objects selected by the Curator. Jason put everything together into the site and we went live in late Spring 2016.

We hope you enjoy the site.

Omeka site

http://exhibits.library.txstate.edu/thewittliffcollections/exhibits/show/severo-perez/

Then and Now

Several websites that feature juxtaposed historic and recent images have appeared over the last year. It is a fun way to showcase historic images in an archive. The Knight Lab at Northwestern University has created an easy tool to create photo juxtapositions. The software allows a user to move a slider to swipe between the two versions of an image.

We decided to use the JuxtaposeJS software to create a few test images to learn more about the process. We took a couple of prints of historic photos of Old Main we had recently digitized, and tried to find the locations from where they were shot.  For this pilot project, we did not use the high resolution PhaseOne digital camera. We wanted to keep the amount of equipment we needed to carry to a minimum on our first attempt, so Jeremy used a smaller Olympus OM-D E-M5II capable of stitching together 40mb images from several shots, and a tripod.

The resulting images were scaled and visual reference points lined up in Adobe Photoshop. The JuxtaposeJS  website automatically creates the HTML embed code to insert into a website.

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Click to view juxtaposed Then and Now images of Old Main.

 

Old School Work Study

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During the early part of the University’s history, “work study” apparently meant something different than it does today. While listening to  a digitized 1974 oral history, I stumbled upon an amusing recollection from Biology professor Thacher R. Gary and his wife Nawona (both also 1940 graduates of Southwest Texas State Teachers College.)

 

 

 

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Jessie and Claude Kellam, 1923

 

 

They recalled the hardships on students in the 1920s and 1930s and that most students worked and many could only afford one meal a day. In recalling that some would do anything to stay in school, they recount that several students had kept cows on campus in the early years, including J. C.  Kellam and his brother, and they would sell the milk to other students to help earn money.

 

 

Library Exhibit

Digital & Web Services Exhibit

Digital & Web Services Exhibit

The Digital & Web Services Department has mounted a physical exhibit in the Alkek Library to showcase digitization at the Library. It is scheduled to be displayed from September through December 18, 2015. Located on the 1st floor of the Alkek Library and entitled From Paper to Pixels: Digitization at the Alkek Library, it uses samples from recent projects to provide a look at some of the equipment and procedures used for digitization.

Front page of the 1929 San Marcos Record

 

Included are over-sized prints including the Taffola Manuscript, the restored Sallie Beretta Painting and older issues of the school newspaper.

 

 

 

The exhibit also features a step by step photo breakdown of the dis-binding process used in preparation for scanning the Pedagogs, the student yearbook.

interferenceAlthough the title of the exhibit only mentions paper, it also features work on digitizing audio and video. Physical examples of open reel, cassette, Betacam and Hi-8 tapes are on display and screens-shots demonstrating the capture of audio are shown.

Selected photographs printed from the unlabeled negative project are also on display including a large print of Dana Jean Smith and Gloria Odoms, taken on the day Southwest Texas State College was officially integrated in February 1963.

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Past Wimberley floods recalled

The University Archives holds nearly 200 oral histories on open reel and cassette tape, dating from the 1970s through the early 2000s. Graduate student Virginia Pickel has begun digitizing these materials.

A recent open reel tape digitized contains an interesting section in light of the devastating floods which hit the Wimberley and San Marcos areas in May 2015.
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In 1974, longtime Wimberley residents Mr. & Mrs. Emmet Cowan participated in a recorded interview for an oral history project.  This excerpt contains a short portion of the recording where the interviewer asked if they had ever seen any floods of the Blanco river. They recall a major Blanco flood  in May 1929 that forced them to move to higher ground and minor flooding in 1900 and 1957-58.

Reddit Effect

The Digital & Web Services department began uploading digitized versions of the university yearbook, the Pedagog, in March 2015. Promotion for the site has included a featured link on the main library website, the University Archives Facebook page, and the Alumni newsletter. The site can also be found through Google.

During a nineteen hour period during the second week of June the site experienced an unusual amount of traffic. Logs revealed that it had been generated through a post on Reddit, a social media platform of online communities. Since Reddit has become so popular and posts can direct so much traffic to a site, servers can be overwhelmed and slow to a crawl. This has been dubbed, “the Reddit Effect.”

Our site is hosted on a Virtual Machine that has been allocated CPU and memory resources adequate for the relatively small amount of regular traffic currently drawn to the site. Within hours of the Reddit post, incoming traffic began to overwhelm the capacity of the server.  The increase lasted for about 6 hours until it began a steady decline. Another media site, Cosmo, posted a story re-blogging the link 13 hours after the original Reddit post. Although there was not another spike in traffic, it may have lengthened the plateau until traffic fell to usual levels.

Reddit directed over 4,400 additional visitors to our site over a 19 hour period.

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Tafolla Manuscript

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A recently completed project for the Digital & Web Services department is the digitization and online exhibit creation for the recently acquired Santiago Tafolla manuscript. A description of the history of the manuscript and its acquisition by The Wittliff Collections is contained in a press release on The Wittliff Collections web site.

It is the handwritten personal memoir of Santiago Tafolla recounting the first 39 years of his life. It is a fascinating document and includes first hand observations during the U.S.- Mexico war, the Texas Indian Wars, and recounts his experiences as a Mexican-American Confederate soldier during the U.S. Civil War.

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The manuscript consists of two legal sized pads and the paper has become brittle with age. It was decided that conservation and digital photography would have to happen at the same time. Each page was digitally captured and then carefully removed and placed in a protective Mylar sleeve, revealing the next page to be photographed.

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The manuscript was photographed using the PhaseOne iQ180 digital back using Capture One version 8.  Images of individual pages were saved as 400ppi 8-bit RGB tiffs and composite PDF versions of each manuscript were also created.

 

split_view_300 B&W versions of the manuscript were created to make it easier to decipher the text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The online exhibit was created and is hosted on the Omeka open source software. Our new programmer Jason Long, first created a new launching page where this and future Wittliff Collections exhibits will live. Using the open source  JQuery plugin Justified Gallery, he created an image-based linking page. There are already a number of Wittliff Collections exhibits on other platforms and they were also  incorporated into the gallery.

The Tafolla exhibit itself uses the open source Unite Gallery JQuery plugin. The exhibit builder theme first had to be customized to conform the data to the plugin’s requirements.

The complete manuscript, Part 1 and Part 2, are available for research use in the Alkek Library Digital Collections Repository.

New Projects and Formats

Aqua_C33974 2When A.B. Rogers purchased the land at the head of the San Marcos River in 1926, the area had long been a favorite scenic spot for recreation and picnics. Within two years, Rogers began constructing a hotel that overlooked Spring Lake.Aqua_11356 2
Twenty years later his son, Paul Rogers, created a new attraction for hotel guests and other visitors when he launched the first glass bottom boat in 1946; the crystal-clear water in Spring Lake allowed for stunning views of the underwater springs and wildlife.

 

Rogers then proceeded to build what became a wildly popular theme park known as Aquarena Springs. By the 1970s, as many as 350,000 people would visit annually to see the underwater mermaid show and star attraction, Ralph the swimming pig.

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Times changed, along with the public’s taste in entertainment, and the theme park eventually gave way to a heightened interest in endangered species, conservation, and education about the importance of our water resources. Texas State University acquired the 90-acre property in 1994; in 2002 the Aquarena hotel became the home of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, a multidisciplinary center which focuses on water-related research and education.

The University Archives holds a number of materials related to the history of the Aquarena Springs. The Digital & Web Services Department began a new partnership with the Texas State University Public History Program and welcomed our first graduate student intern this semester, Jason Crouch. He is working closely with the University Archives and the Digital Media Specialist to begin processing and digitizing some of the Aquarena Springs material. An online exhibit is planned for the end of the Spring 2015 semester.

The Aquarena Springs collection contains a variety of audio/visual formats including material on VHS, Betacam, Hi8, miniDV, cassette, and open reel tape. A note of special thanks goes to staff at Texas Parks and Wildlife Television who, through a bit of good timing, helped us arrange the transfer of surplus analog video equipment from their television program to Texas State University. Included was a Sony BVW-70 Betacam SP recorder/player and Sony DSR-PD150 miniDV Digital Camcorder, both of which will be used to digitize items in the collection.

The following video is a sneak preview of what is in the collection. This is a 30 second television spot from 1994 advertising Aquarena Springs originally recorded on BetacamSP tape.

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LBJ audio digitization

Alumni House LBJ & LadyBird 3x3The most famous alumnus of Texas State University is former President Lyndon Baines Johnson, although the institution was known as Southwest Texas State Teachers College when he graduated in 1930. Materials relating to President Johnson are housed in the University Archives and many have already been digitized. Two library guides about Johnson are available: one includes information and resources about LBJ as a student, and one is dedicated to the Higher Education Act of 1965 that he signed in Strahan Gymnasium (now the Music Building).

Football Program 1971Nov13 Page9In the decades following his graduation, Johnson made quite a few trips back to campus to participate in events. In November 1971, the Alumni House hosted an exhibit created by Harry Middleton and Gary Yarrington, Director and Curator of the LBJ Library in Austin. The exhibit, titled “Lyndon Baines Johnson at San Marcos,” featured memorabilia relating to President Johnson, including the desk he sat at when he signed the Higher Education Act of 1965. Johnson himself attended the exhibit opening and delivered a speech on the occasion.

 

The audio recording of President Johnson’s speech was made on an open reel, a technology that has long been surpassed by other media formats. Fortunately, the original recording was saved and eventually became part of the University Archives. More than 40 years later, Digital and Web Services has brought this recording back to “life” and made it accessible for the first time in decades.

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The Alkek Library recently constructed a new Audio and Visual media digitization area to help rescue the content of outdated media formats. This 1971 recording of LBJ at San Marcos Exhibit was the first reel-to-reel tape to be digitized and added to the Digital Collections. The ability to reformat historical recordings is a huge step in the process of reclaiming the history of the University; audio reels from other collections can now be scheduled for digitization and then made available to researchers.

 

LBJ Speaking at Southwest Texas State University, November 1971

(LBJ begins at 09:30)