Category Archives: Preservation

Kodak Book Digitization

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Though Special Collections and University Archives is every bit of what we typically imagine – a quiet, beautiful reading room surrounded by rare books and manuscripts – it also encompasses historical collections that we don’t always consider right away: digital. As an avid collector of University of Mary Washington history, our department is always interested in adding to our digital collections, which sometimes means that we create digital copies of unique items and then return the original to the owner. For example, we were recently given the opportunity to scan and photograph Helen Davenport Smith’s scrapbook, courtesy of her daughter, Joyce Lee Smith ’58. Helen Davenport Smith was a 1919 graduate of the State Normal School for Women at Fredericksburg, now known as the University of Mary Washington.

Image of the cover of the scrapbook.

Cover of the scrapbook, with decorative letters spelling “Kodak Book.”

The scrapbook, titled “Kodak Book” after what was most likely the popular camera used at the time, adds a wealth of information to our understanding of how the campus and students interacted during the time. It is filled with photographs of students engaging in various activities, such as gardening and socializing, as well as photographs of Smith’s post-college life and career. A cat portrait even made its way into the book, showing that even one hundred years ago, they were a popular photo subject!

Three photographs of students engaged in various activities.

Three photographs depicting students in various activities, such as gardening and recreation.

Photograph of cat on window

Cats have seemingly always captured the eye of photographers.

In order to digitize the scrapbook, staff used the Cobra Rare Book Scanner in the Digital Archiving Lab. The scanner allows rare books to be opened at an angle so that very little pressure is placed on the spine and binding. While the Cobra allows for glass to be placed over pages to help keep them flat, this book did not require flattening because the binding type and usage caused the pages to stay flat on their own. The scanner has two high-resolution cameras built in that photograph the left and right pages individually, resulting in very high-quality image files that allow for great zooming, printing, and long-term digital preservation. As files were processed after scanning, we used Photoshop to adjust the contrast and colors of images where the ink or pencil was faded in order to make the text more readable.

Image of Cobra Rare Book Scanner

The Cobra Rare Book Scanner has a v-shaped cradle to reduce the stress place on rare books during the digitization process.

Image depicting Photoshop techniques.

The original photograph (left) was processed through Photoshop, highlighting the list of names that were difficult to read in the faded ink.

In addition to 2D scanning, we thought it was important to capture the scrapbook as an object. In order to achieve this, we set up a DSLR mini photo studio and captured the edges of the book as well as its fragile thread binding. Photographing the book as an object will allow users to study the page curves, thickness, and binding, as well as provide context for the individual page images.

Image of pop-up photography studio.

A pop-up photography studio was created in the Digital Archiving Lab to capture the scrapbook as an object.

Image of the Kodak Book binding.

Binding of the Kodak Book captured from the pop-up photography studio.

Do you have any University history that you think should be added to our digital collections? Email us at archives@umw.edu or stop by our History Harvest table at Reunion Weekend on the morning of June 3rd. The Digital Archiving Lab will be open from noon until 3pm on Friday, June 2nd, if you would like to stop by and see how the digitization process works!

 

All Kodak Book images are courtesy of Joyce Lee Smith ’58.

May 24, 2017

Honors Projects

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As we near the end of the school year, students pursuing departmental honors are putting the final touches on their projects. Upon completion and approval, students will submit them to the University Archives for long-term preservation and access. The library collects these projects as part of its mission to preserve the University’s history, and to make available the valuable scholarship that is produced here.

As of 2014, students are able to submit their approved projects online directly from the library’s website: http://libraries.umw.edu/paper-submission-guidelines/. Once the submission is complete, library staff adds the item to the collection in the digital archive: http://archive.umw.edu:8080/vital/access/manager/Collection/umw:1604. In the submission form, the student is asked to provide information about their project, like an abstract and keywords. This information will be associated with the item in the digital archive so that researchers can easily find the student’s scholarship if it relates to their search.

Honors Paper Collection

The link in the red box will take users to the honors papers collection.

For honors papers that pre-date the digital archive, bound copies reside in Special Collections and University Archives. In 2005, the library began a preservation project that retrospectively bound every thesis to help ensure their long term preservation. Previously, theses had been submitted to the library in a variety of containers, causing page curls and other issues. In order to provide access to these papers, each has a record in the library’s catalog so that it can be found by the UMW community or other researchers. Library staff are also always happy to hear from alumni who request that their paper be digitized and uploaded into the digital archive.

Original Honors Papers Bindings

Originally, honors papers were submitted to the library in a variety of different containers.

Bound Honors Papers

For better long-term preservation, the honors papers were retrospectively bound in 2005.

Of course, there have also always been honors projects that aren’t papers, and the library has collected plays, videotapes, photographs, and costume sketches, just to name a few. As students embark on more complex digital projects every year, the library is  working on solutions to collect these and other types of projects, as well.

If you’re submitting an honors project to the collection this year, congratulations! Please don’t hesitate to contact Special Collections and University Archives if you have questions about the process.

April 20, 2017

Mary Washington’s Will

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Working in Special Collections and University Archives, we frequently encounter many fascinating objects.  This summer, we got to see a truly unique item that was quite personal for us — the last will and testament of Mary Ball Washington!

Mary Washington's Will

Mary Washington’s will, 1789 [image used courtesy of Fredericksburg Circuit Court Archives]

Working in collaboration with the Washington Heritage Museums and the Fredericksburg Circuit Court Archives (which owns the document), our staff was able to digitize the will in the Digital Archiving Lab using our Cobra overhead scanner.

Mary Washington's will on the Cobra scanner

Mary Washington’s will on the Cobra scanner

The Cobra allows for high-resolution scanning of fragile bound books and documents, such as this will.  Now that staff at both the Washington Heritage Museums and the Fredericksburg Circuit Court Archives have access to high-quality digital images of the will, they can reproduce it in exhibits and printed materials without having to repeatedly handle the original document.

Digital Resources Librarian Suzanne Chase zooms in on Mary Washington's signature

Digital Resources Librarian Suzanne Chase zooms in on Mary Washington’s signature

Partnering with local cultural heritage institutions to digitize their treasures is one of the most rewarding aspects of our work in Special Collections, and we hope that by digitizing this piece of history, more people will come to know and appreciate Mary Washington the way we do at UMW!

August 15, 2016

Special Collections and University Archives Receives Grant

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University of Mary Washington Libraries, in partnership with the Center for Historic  Preservation and UMW Facilities Services, has been awarded a $6,250 grant by the community Duff McDuff Green Jr. Fund.

Monroe Hall, June 1910

Monroe Hall, June 1910

This grant will assist with the preservation and digitization of the University’s architectural blueprints and drawings — particularly those related to noted Virginia architect Charles M. Robinson, whose architectural designs grace campuses and other buildings throughout the commonwealth of Virginia.

UMW has one of the largest collections of historical blueprints and drawings of Robinson’s works. The 150th anniversary of the architect’s birth is approaching in 2017, and scholars are interested in accessing and studying his drawings. Among Robinson’s notable architectural works at UMW are Monroe Hall (1910-11), Frances Willard Hall (1909-11), Virginia Hall (1914-15, 1926), Seacobeck Hall (1930-31) and the bridge to Seacobeck Hall (1930).

This project provides the opportunity to preserve these historical architectural resources and make them available online to researchers while raising awareness of Charles M. Robinson and his impact on Fredericksburg’s architectural landscape. The grant also will give students an opportunity to work directly with historical documents, learning how to correctly digitize large-scale historical records and add metadata and standardized file names so they can easily be accessed online. The project is made possible by a grant from the Duff McDuff Green, Jr. Fund of The Community Foundation.

February 23, 2016