Digitizing and Using the David C. Driskell Collection

The David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, College Park, honors the legacy of David C. Driskell. He is a Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Art, Artist, Art Historian, Collector, Curator, and Philanthropist, and the Center seeks to preserve the rich heritage of African American visual art and culture.

One page of a letter regarding travel.
Document documenting travel

The African American History, Culture, and Digital Humanities (AADHum) project brings African American studies and digital humanities together in order to expand upon both fields, making the digital humanities more inclusive of African American history and culture and enriching African American studies research with new methods, archives, and tools. Our digitization efforts have been directly focused on supplying new resources for scholarly engagement by providing digitized materials from the Driskell Center for both public use as well as use by scholars engaged with the AADHum project.

In the third digital humanities incubator hosted by the Maryland Institue for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), participants used digitized images from the pilot digitization on this project, as well as from other sources, to build narratives using the ArcGIS StoryMap Tool. StoryMap allows the integration of objects and maps, enabling rich visual explorations and analysis of a collection–for example, where was the art created, where was it collected and displayed, and by whom? In the 2017-2018 series of Digital Humanities Incubators (DHIs), participants will continue to explore Black Movement(s) and engage with the histories and resources of the local DC-Maryland-Virginia area. In some of these projects, we expect the digitized material from the Driskell collection to be highlighted.

African American History and Culture and Digital Humanities

The Libraries began their involvement in the Mellon Foundation grant project Synergies Among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture in May 2016. This project is a collaboration between the College of Arts and Humanities, the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), the Libraries, and the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora. In July, Scott Pennington was hired as the Digitization Project Manager for the project, working with the AFL-CIO collection in SCUA and the David C. Driskell papers, a collection of the artist, scholar, curator, collector, and philanthropist, in the Driskell Center. The project seeks to digitize primary source materials for study by post-doctoral students and other researchers examining the intersection of African American History and Culture.

Scott Pennington, Jen Eidson (SCUA), Stephanie Smith (Driskell Center), Purdom Lindblad (MITH), and Jovonne Bickerstaff (MITH) went through materials looking for items of interest to researchers involved in the upcoming Digital Humanities Incubator sessions to be hosted as part of the larger project. Approximately 1,000 pages were selected for a pilot digitization project and were shipped to the vendor for digitization on November 1, 2016. These materials will be available to researchers and to the public through the Digital Humanities Incubator projects in January, as well as through UMD Digital Collections.

Scott Pennington is currently working with Jen Eidson, Stephanie Smith, and MITH to select an additional 39,000 pages for the full project, to be shipped to the digitization vendor in April.

Samples of content selected for digitization are featured below:

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National Digital Newspaper Program: 2016-2018 Selection

Introduction

The UMD Libraries were awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) $250,000 grant for the third phase of the Historic Maryland Newspaper Project, beginning September 1, 2016. Between 2016-2018, the project will digitize approximately 100,000 pages of newspapers published in the State of Maryland, adding to the over 200,000 pages from Maryland already in Chronicling America, the Library of Congress digitized newspaper database. The state partners contributing content for the third grant are the Maryland State Archives, also a partner on the second grant, and Frostburg State University Library. UMD’s theme for the third award is to include newspapers of greater diversity, including one Polish language paper and several labor papers, as well as newspapers with contrasting political viewpoints of those digitized during the first two grant cycles.

Title Selection

Project staff consulted with the Advisory Board to select the list of titles that may be selected during the 2016-2018 phase:

  • The Baltimore County Union (1865-1909), Towsontown, MD
  • Catoctin Clarion (1923), Mechanicstown, MD
  • The Citizen (1895-1922), Frederick, MD
  • Czas Baltimorski (1940-1941), Baltimore, MD
  • Democratic Messenger (1881-1922), Snow Hill, MD
  • Evening Capital, Evening Capital and Maryland Gazette (1884-1922), Annapolis, MD
  • Frostburg Mining Journal (1871-1917), Frostburg, MD
  • The Frostburg Forum (1897-19??), Frostburg, MD
  • The Frostburg Gleaner (1899-19??), Frostburg, MD
  • The Frostburg Herald (1903-19??), Frostburg, MD
  • The Frostburg News (1897-18??), Frostburg, MD
  • The Frostburg Spirit (1913-1915), Frostburg, MD
  • Greenbelt Cooperator (1937-1943), Greenbelt, MD
  • Maryland Independent (1874-1934), Port Tobacco, MD
  • The Midland Journal (1885-1946), Rising Sun, MD
  • Voice of Labor (1938-1942), Cumberland, MD
  • Worcester Democrat and Ledger-Enterprise (1921-1953), Pocomoke City, MD

The list may be modified as the project student assistants collate the microfilm and discover that the images may be of too poor quality for digitization.

Mutilated pages from the Maryland Independent
Mutilated pages from the Maryland Independent

Copyright Research

In July, NEH announced the expansion of date ranges for the NDNP program, to include 1690-1963. For newspapers published between 1923-1963, project staff need to perform copyright research to determine whether the newspaper issue was registered with the copyright office, and if it was registered, whether the copyright was renewed 28 years later, according to the law. Project staff decided to utilize the resources available through the Copyright Office to determine whether these titles are in the public domain:

  • Catoctin Clarion (1923), Mechanicstown, MD
  • Czas Baltimorski (1940-1941), Baltimore, MD
  • Greenbelt Cooperator (1937-1943), Greenbelt, MD
  • Maryland Independent (1874-1934), Port Tobacco, MD
  • The Midland Journal (1885-1946), Rising Sun, MD
  • Voice of Labor (1938-1942), Cumberland, MD
  • Worcester Democrat and Ledger-Enterprise (1921-1953), Pocomoke City, MD

With guidance from the Library of Congress on how to perform copyright research, Doug McElrath (SCUA) and Robin Pike developed instructions for Doug, Robin, Judi Kidd, and Amy Wickner (SCUA) to perform the research and track their results, providing evidence to the Library of Congress and NEH that the titles are in the public domain. The project staff will primarily be searching in the pre-1978 Catalog of Copyright Entries, but may also have to search in the Copyright Catalog (1978-Present) for renewed registrations. Unlike a book which is a single entity, newspapers are copyrighted by the issue, so project staff will have to ensure that they do title searches across the entire date range of publication to ensure the issues are in the public domain.

Digitization and Digital Projects Grants

In the fall 2015 semester, DCMR/DPI Graduate Assistant David Durden compiled a list of national and state grants that could be used for digitization or other types of digital projects. Many of these grants also allow for processing or description work in preparation of digitization. Though this list is not exhaustive, and does include some Maryland-specific or UMD Libraries collection-specific grants, we have used it to identify a grant that we will apply to in mid-July to describe and digitize the audiovisual portion of a theater performance collection.

We would like to share this resource so that others may benefit from our research: link to Google spreadsheet.

Please comment on this blog post if you would like us to add any grants or awards to the list.

You’re Invited to the Historic Maryland Newspapers Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on May 2!

Today’s post is by Amy Wickner, student assistant and iSchool field study for the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project.

As part of an ongoing initiative to connect digital collections with Wikipedia, the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project (HMNP) will co-host a  Wikipedia Edit-a-thon (May 2, 1-4pm) focusing on Maryland newspapers. We’ve set up an event page and advance registration form (strongly recommended) with all the details.

Photo from HMNP’s last edit-a-thon on August 18, 2014, at UMD Libraries.

Liz Caringola and I are working with special collections staff at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis, who have been kind enough to provide space, computers, and guided tours of their collections. Maria Day and Allison Rein from MSA will highlight historic newspapers in their collections, while Liz will introduce edit-a-thon participants to Chronicling America and HMNP’s ongoing work. I’ll give short tutorials on editing Wikipedia and adding images to Wikimedia Commons. We’re hoping to draw participants from across the state and DC / Baltimore metro areas. All are welcome, and word-of-mouth promotion would be much appreciated.

Many edit-a-thon pages have a Goals section, conventionally a list of articles needing to be drafted, added, or improved. Our page has such a list, but we’d also like to help participants depart with at least some impulse to continue editing Wikipedia. (We’ll have a day-of participant survey of some kind to get at what brings people to our event.) Sparking a lifelong passion for editing Wikipedia using archival material as evidence would of course be fire, but growing sustainable participation more realistically involves a lot of small steps. Which is why it’s exciting to see that this is just one of many DC-area Wikipedia events this spring, with themes ranging from accessibility to labor to #ColorOurHistory.

Stew of the month: November 2015

Welcome to a new issue of Stew of the Month, a monthly blog from Digital Systems and Stewardship (DSS) at the University of Maryland Libraries. This blog provides news and updates from the DSS Division. We welcome comments, feedback and ideas for improving our products and services.

Digitization Activities

Historic Maryland Newspapers Project

On November 13, Robin Pike and Liz Caringola visited Frostburg State University to discuss the digitization of the Frostburg Mining Journal and other Frostburg newspapers held in print by their Special Collections. Digitization of these important Western Maryland newspapers will move forward contingent on the award of a third NDNP grant, which would begin on September 1, 2016.

Other Digitization Activities

The vendor digitization projects went out including: over 10,000 pages to the Internet Archive from SCUA collection materials and diaries from the William Kapell collection in IPAM. These projects were funded by the DIC project proposal process.

Eric Cartier worked with Cindy Frank, Director of the Visual Resources Collection in the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, to arrange a Digital Data Services digitization request with an architecture professor. Digitization assistants are scanning more than 100 color slides featuring images of buildings across the French countryside.

GA David Durden completed a reference spreadsheet of the most prominent grants that support digitization and digital projects. Robin will use this resource as she meets with librarians and staff to discuss funding sources for future digitization projects.

Digital  Programs and Initiatives

Over the course of the fall, DPI carried out a pilot to test the technical feasibility of hosting the International Children’s Digital Library on DSS servers. ICDL is a free and open repository of Children’s Literature in various languages that was developed by faculty in the iSchool. The pilot was a success, so with Collections Strategies and Services having expressed their interest in supporting this important collection, the Libraries are now moving ahead to provide web hosting services for the ICDL. For more information on the ICDL, see http://childrenslibrary.org.

Transcribe Maryland is a pilot project to test the workflows and procedures for crowdsourced transcription of Digital Collections materials. In November, Josh Westgard carried out the migration of more than 17,000 images making up over 800 documents from our digital collections repository to a platform to support public transcriptions of those documents. The pilot project will take place in the spring semester 2016 in support of a course being offered in the English Department.

DPI, with help from DSS colleagues, is about to launch REDCap an open source web application created by Vanderbilt University for building and managing online surveys and databases. REDCap will be offered as a part of Research Data Services and available to UMD faculty and researchers. Please contact lib-research-data@umd.edu for more information.

Software Development

Hippo CMS  has been successfully upgraded to version 7.9.  The primary improvements for content creators are the new CKEditor for making HTML content changes and the channel manager options to preview pages on various device screen sizes.  Also, automatic updates for database finder and the staff directory have been restored.

The project to move the website to a Responsive Web Design template is now entering its final phases.  The majority of the template development work has been completed and being prepared for promotion to production.  We are also working with the Web Advisory Committee to test the new template and create training opportunities for staff on how to update their content in preparation for the January 18 release date.

Initial development of the Fedora 4 authorization module based on the emerging Web Access Control (WebAC) standard for RDF based Access Control has been completed.  This new feature is being incorporated into the design for our Fedora 4 repository instance and the new Digital Collections administrative interface based on Hydra.

Staffing

Barbara Percival joined DCMR in November. A first-year iSchool student, she is currently producing digital files, and she’ll take over quality assurance inspections in 2016.

Conferences, workshops and professional development

Liz Caringola was appointed to the MARAC Web Editing Team, effective January 1, 2016, for a two-year term.

Chronicling America surpasses 10 million pages!


The University of Maryland Libraries joins the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities in celebrating a major milestone for Chronicling America, a free, searchable database of historic U.S. newspapers. The Library of Congress announced on October 7 that more than 10 million pages have been posted to the site. This number includes 117,082 pages of Maryland newspapers digitized by the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project and its content partners, the Maryland State Archives and Maryland Historical Society, from the following titles:

Titles are added on a rolling basis, so check back often, or subscribe to Chronicling America’s RSS feed to receive alerts when new titles are added.

For more information about the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project, please visit our website: http://ter.ps/newspapers.