In January of 2016 University Archives received an estimated 800,000 photo negatives, transparent strips of film that depict an image with the colors inverted, from the San Marcos Daily Record. This collection contains images spanning from the 1930s to the 2000s. The negatives consist of a mixture of nitrate and safety film. Nitrate film, a flexible, plastic film base, was created in the late 1800s as a replacement to glass plates and safety film was created as a substitute for nitrate. Nitrate film is the same film used in motion pictures which caused many devastating fires during film screenings in the early 1900s. This film becomes less stable and more likely to auto-ignite as it deteriorates. Safety film, as the name suggests, is much safer to use and store, however, the film still degrades over time.
Texas State University has recently completed building an Archives & Research Center which will serve as an offsite storage facility for collections. In preparation, units have been weeding the collection and identifying items to be moved offsite.
The old backup microfiche copy of the library online catalog is one such collection identified for weeding.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.