Category Archives: Uncategorized

Personal Digital Archiving Tips

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Whether it’s for sharing with family and friends via online platforms or for adding to a genealogical research collection, many people today are interested in digitizing old photographs, records,  letters, or other personal treasures. While it is always important to consider professional assistance, there are also lots of people who accomplish these projects from their own home offices or public scanning facilities. To help you get started, we have a few tips that we use in our own Digital Archiving Lab (DAL):

  1. Have a plan! Though we all know that challenges and changes arise during any project, it is helpful to know as much as possible about your task before you begin. For example, how many photographs will you be scanning? Where will you store them? Will you be scanning the front and the back of the photo? What will the file names be?
  2. TIFF vs. JPEG. The battle to end all battles – just kidding! We actually use both TIFF and JPEG formats for our projects in the DAL. For most projects, I scan TIFF files first, and then create JPEG copies later if I need them. It is a one way street, though, because it is not recommended to convert JPEGs to TIFFs!
    1. JPEG files are compressed and lossy, so every time they are opened and edited, they lose a bit of data. However, they are a smaller file size and are recommended for web display or emailing.
    2. TIFF files are the professional standard for digital preservation and are also more likely to be required for professional prints. TIFF files are ideal working files because they don’t lose data as you open and edit them, unless deletions are made intentionally.
  3. Resolution. I always recommend scanning at a minimum of 300ppi, so that you can be sure as much detail as possible is captured for future prints or display. If your equipment can scan at a higher resolution, go for it! You can always resize down later, but the reverse isn’t recommended. Finally, if you are scanning film, consider scanning at a minimum of 2400ppi so that your prints can be enlarged.
  4. Spreadsheets and descriptive information. You can actually use any tracking system that you’d like, but the concept is particularly important for large projects. As you scan, make sure to record the filename and any other important information about the photo or letter in a spreadsheet so that you can easily locate files later. I recommend spreadsheets because they can be easily converted into other formats.
  5. Storage. Make sure to save multiple copies of your files in different storage types (cloud storage and external hard drives, for example), and in separate locations.

Recording descriptive information as you scan will you help you find files quickly and easily later.

As you’re working on planning your project, don’t forget library staff are happy to help answer questions, provide consultations, or work with you on professional digitization services. The Digital Archiving Lab is located in the Hurley Convergence Center, room 322, and is open by appointment this summer!

July 20, 2017

Think Spring

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Spring officially began on Monday. To be honest though, I’m having a hard time reconciling that news with the reality of stepping out of my house this morning and getting slapped in the face by 24 degrees and frost on my lawn. So it goes.

I suppose we have to pay for our unseasonably warm and delightful February.

To try to get myself in a “springier” mood, I turned to the Centennial Image Collection to find some evidence of warmer days past. This is one of my favorite of our digital collections; I really enjoy the easy access to all the past iterations of UMW/MWC student life. It’s pretty cool to start digging around and see what’s changed while so much has stayed the same.

For example, check out Jefferson Hall lawn in the springtime, separated by almost 30 years. Different cars out front, and some different fashion choices, but the same relaxed attitude persists.

Dinndorf, Helen Elizabeth. Jefferson Hall Lawn. 2007-04. Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives.

McWaters, Dennis. Students in front of Jefferson Hall. 1987. Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives.

Campus has always put on a show in springtime. When the grass is at its greenest and everything blooms, it makes for quite a picturesque scene. The landscape design compliments the architecture beautifully.

Headley, R. Megan. Westmoreland Hall in Spring. 2002-04. Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives.

Cordero, Lou. Seacobeck Dining Hall in Spring. 2003-04. Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives.

Even in black and white, it’s lovely.

Flowers blooming at Westmoreland Hall. Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives.

I feel warmer already! I’m looking forward to sitting on my favorite bench on Campus Walk and enjoying the spring sun. See you outside, UMW!

March 23, 2017

St. Patrick’s Day at UMW

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St. Patrick’s Day brings with it a variety of parties, parades, green costumes, and delicious treats, and this year is bound to be no exception. While you’re out on the town or exploring different events on campus, you might wonder if these activities are a tradition or who even came up with these ideas in the first place. Is there a St. Patrick’s Day Dance every year? Has it always been cool to drink green beer? If you find yourself curious about events of the past, a good place to start researching is newspapers from the time period. They often include information about community events, or stories about events that took place close to the issue date. In order to research St. Patrick’s Day happenings at UMW, I started with searching the student newspaper digital archive in Eagle Explorer. Here are some of the fun events that I found:

In 1932, students in the Southwest Virginia Club attended a St. Patrick’s Day party with themed costumes and crafts:

“Southwest Virginia Club,” (Fredericksburg, VA.) The Bullet, March 30, 1932, accessed March 16, 2017,

1950 saw an entire weekend of fun planned in honor of the holiday. The dance, though, wasn’t formal and did not require dates to purchase corsages or formal attire!

“St. Patrick’s Weekend Planned March 10,” (Fredericksburg, VA.) The Bullet, March 7, 1950, accessed March 16, 2017,

The science fraternity on campus made use of the upcoming holiday in 1977 by auctioning off a night of green beer with Dr. Bernard Mahoney to support scholarships:

“Science Fraternity Auctions off Profs,” (Fredericksburg, VA.) The Bullet, February 2, 1977, accessed March 16, 2017,

In 2010, The Bullet offered St. Patrick’s Day-themed recipes to get students through the holiday:

Brynn Boyer, “Dining on a Dime: Bailey’s Brownies,” (Fredericksburg, VA.) , The Bullet, March 18, 2010, accessed March 16, 2017,

Though newspapers are still publishing community calendars and stories, if you’re searching for events in the last several years, a great place to look is a web archive. UMW’s web archive has been capturing much of the University’s events pages and social media, and you can search it straight from the home page of Special Collections. Here is a screen shot from last year’s St. Patrick’s Day dinner plans, posted on the Office of Student Activities and Engagement’s news site:

Office of Student Activities and Engagement, “Thursday, March 17th,” The SAE Weekly News, last modified September 28, 2016, accessed March 17, 2017,

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

March 17, 2017

World War I Poster Collection

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Walking around the library, you may have noticed some posters.

save your child

Like this one on the first floor…

...or this one on the second floor near the classroom...

…or this one on the second floor near the classroom…

...or this one on the third floor.

…or this one on the third floor.

Next time you’re looking for a book or a study space, glance around the walls and you’ll probably see a poster from our World War I poster collection. We have over 75 posters displayed throughout the library.

These posters were created between 1915 and 1918 and served to spread information widely about various aspects of the war efforts. Popular radio didn’t exist the way it did during WWII and there was no television, so posters were an effective means of grabbing the public’s attention and spurring action. Topics include such things as recruitment and the purchasing of war bonds. In some, high-profile figures like President Woodrow Wilson (above) or General Pershing lend their image to encourage patriotic participation or endorse certain organizations. Others highlight concerns over food shortages–a widespread issue in Europe–and ask Americans to adjust their eating habits to allow for more food to send overseas.

food dont waste it

While you’ll obviously see many recruitment posters encouraging young men to enlist, you can also find several asking women to contribute to the war effort. In the poster below, women appear in sort of a proto-Rosie-the-Riveter fashion, proudly championing the “second line of defense” on the home-front.

woman worker

I encourage you to take a stroll through our stacks sometime and look for them all. They vary widely in style and substance, and each one can be appreciated as an individual work of art reflective of a particular era.

Additionally, these posters have some added historical significance this year. 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the United States entry into World War I. On April 6, 1917, the US declared war on Germany, joining a fight that had been going on in Europe since 1914. The war would continue for another year until a ceasefire in November of 1918, and formally ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

The war caused unspeakable devastation in Europe and more Americans lost their lives than in Korea and Vietnam combined.

If you’re interested in learning more about what the US is doing to mark this occasion, please visit the website of the United States World War One Centennial Commission. This group was established in 2013 by an act of Congress to “plan, develop, and execute programs, projects, and activities to commemorate the centennial of World War I.”

Also, if you’d like to explore more of these types of posters, the Library of Congress has a WWI poster collection with approximately 1,900 digital images available to view and some interesting history to read.

And since it’s almost spring break (!) and I’m sure you’re all looking for a beautifully written but heartbreaking and haunting beach read, I’d like to recommend the quintessential WWI novel, All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. He explains his story perfectly in the epigraph:

This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war.

March 2, 2017

Family History Research at UMW

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Written by Angie White

There are many reasons why I was excited to recently join the staff at Simpson Library as the new Digital Resources Librarian, many of which include the exciting projects, interesting special collections, and variety of responsibilities and opportunities.  Also I was drawn to this position at the University of Mary Washington because of the special place that it is to me. Aside from being an alumna myself, my great-grandma (affectionately known as GG) graduated from the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Fredericksburg in 1925 and went on to teach at a small schoolhouse in Fauquier County, Virginia.

Because of the great digital collection building that has already been done here, I’m able to see what school was like here for GG in the 1920’s. I can find information about her quickly because of full text searches, so I don’t need to browse page by page of every book or read entire newspapers. I can also download page images and share them with other family members. Finally, I can do this from anywhere with an internet connection since UMW Libraries’ digital collections are free and open to the public.

Are you also interested in finding information about your great-grandma who went here? Or is there something else about the University’s history that has piqued your curiosity? Below are the steps that I took to find information about GG, and you can find information about UMW’s history by doing a similar search:

Step One: Access our Special Collections from and navigate to the “All Collections” search bar.

Step One

Step Two: Type in the name of the person or subject you are researching and select “Search.” Make sure you put a person’s name in quotations so that your results will return only publications with both the first and last name.

Step Two

Step Three: Select the publication and issue that you want to read. At this point, your search might return images or catalog records, too.

Step Three

Step Four: Once you’ve selected your publication issue, it should open automatically to the page with your search term on it. You can also browse the publication by clicking on the pages to turn them, or the left and right arrows at the bottom of the screen.

Step Four

Step Five: To have the option to download different file types, select the “Back to item details” arrow in the top left corner.

Step Five

Step Six: Scroll down the page until you see “Download Options” and download the file type that works best for you.

Step Six

February 24, 2017