In 2016, Digital & Web Services and the Wittliff Collections worked together to create an exhibit based on material in the Dick J. Reavis collection. The National Tour of Texas is an interactive website based on Dick J. Reavis ’s 1987 year long journey driving every highway in Texas.
More recently Dick Reavis gave us permission to digitize and make available his 1978 book Without Documents, which sets out to examine the history of undocumented aliens in the United States. It examines the history of immigration, and in particular the history of Mexican immigration.
The entire book is now freely available in our Digital Collections Repository https://digital.library.txstate.edu/handle/10877/7761
The issues examined in the book are not only relevant forty years later, but have taken center stage in our current political debates. Dick Reavis was quite prescient in his final statement in the forward:
“For a variety of reasons, it is unlikely that Congress or federal agencies will do anything soon to resolve the question of undocumented immigration, or to alleviate the problems of immigrants themselves. Legislation currently pending in the Senate and House is largely of value for vote-getting purposes, and it is likely that undocumented immigration will continue to be an element in campaigning into the future. Therefore, this book should make important reading for a long time to come.”
When photographing exhibitions in the Wittliff Collections‘ Writer’s Room, our focus has been documenting the exhibit cases, as seen in this past blog post, but the recent Legends of Tejano Music exhibition had materials on display everywhere! While finalizing my documentation photographs, I decided to create a panorama from multiple images to better showcase the details along the back walls. Unfortunately, one of the photos had fallen from the wall between setup and capture of the best frame for part of my panorama. Surprisingly, the photograph landed in a lucky position and I was able to restore it to its proper location using Adobe Photoshop.
The Writer’s Room on the 7th floor of Alkek Library hosts semi-annual exhibits from the Wittliff Collections that are documented by Digital and Web Services. With five glassed-in wall cases and multiple light sources, the room is challenging to photograph! We photograph each case multiple times with a tripod-mounted camera while a sheet of black foam core is moved throughout the frame to flag, or block, the many reflections in the glass. These shots are digitally combined into a single image without distracting reflections.
Erin and I have had a blast visiting the Wittliff Collections on the 7th floor of Alkek Library while we photographed Cabeza de Vaca’s La Relación this week.
Digital & Web Services is partnering with the Wittliff Collections for a forthcoming update to the current online exhibit.
Here are a few behind-the-scenes photos I made while we worked today.
This unique project brought together specialists in GIS, web development, and digitization to create an interactive website based on Dick J. Reavis ’s 1987 year long journey driving every highway in Texas.
Dick J. Reavis is the award-winning author of seven books, including The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation; If White Kids Die: Memories of a Civil Rights Movement Volunteer; Catching Out: The Secret World of Day Laborers and more. He has been a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, a Senior Editor at Texas Monthly, and a finalist for a National Magazine Award. He is now Emeritus Associate Professor of English at North Carolina State University. While on assignment for Texas Monthly in the late 1980s, Mr. Reavis got lost and pulled from his glove box his official Texas Highway map. Looking at the map, the thought occurred to him, “there sure are a lot of roads on that map … I wonder if anyone has ever driven them all.” He decided he would try.
We 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.
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.
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.
Although 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.