I recently read Michael J. Bennett‘s article, Countering Stryker’s Punch: Algorithmically Filling the Black Hole, in the latest edition of code4lib and wow, great stuff!
Bennett is comparing Adobe Photoshop’s Content Aware Fill tool and a GIMP technique I haven’t seen before as part of a workflow to digitally restore areas in photographs with no picture due to a hole punch having been taken to the physical negative. Part of Roy Stryker’s legacy at the FSA. You can read more about the negatives in Bennett’s article, this recent feature by Alan Taylor in The Atlantic and in Eric Banks’s review of what sounds like an amazing gallery show by William E. Jones in NY in 2010 in The Paris Review.
Library of Congress Search Results
I have been dipping my toes into computer vision recently and thought expanding upon Bennett’s work seems a good and educating challenge. A quick search at the Library of Congress returns nearly 2,500 results so this would also be a pretty good-sized data set to work on for a beginner with a bunch of exceptions and tweaking for edge-cases, but also a LOT of images and metadata to gather!
Top row: SMDR_1950s-SF-11_May 16 2017_13-38-29, SMDR_1930s-56_027 Bottom row: SMDR_1940s50s-88_001, SMDR_1930s-58_004, SMDR_1930s-26_016
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.
Click to view juxtaposed Then and Now images of Old Main.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.