Black Lives in UMW Archives

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UMW Special Collections and University Archives stands behind our Black students, colleagues, and community members. Black lives matter today, yesterday, and always. 

Six Black students hold candles during the opening ritual of Black Culture Week

Opening ceremony of Black Culture Week, 1976.

We believe in the statements set forth by the Board of Visitors’ Resolution on George Floyd and Systemic Racism, committing sincerely to “rooting out any practice within our community that stems from implicit bias, systemic racism or is contrary to our Statement of Values.” 

We echo the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Council Statement on Black Lives and Archives, acknowledging that “as archivists, we are not neutral in matters of social justice and politics.”  

Black student in her dorm room with a Black Panthers poster hanging on the wall behind her.

Wanda Gail Williams poses in her dorm room, April, 1972.

As the institutional archive, our mission is to collect and preserve the history of the University of Mary Washington. 

We need to do this better. 

We have a responsibility to be actively anti-racist in our professional practices and standards. We have an obligation to tell the full story of our institution and to raise up the voices previously unheard. We have a desire to build stronger partnerships within our UMW community to earn the position of a trusted repository for all who participate in our university’s rich narrative. 

We plan to examine our descriptive practices and collecting policies to actively identify and dismantle white supremacist language and assumptions. We promise to continue working to promote the archives as a safe and open place for everyone, and to do our best to ensure the broadest possible accessibility of our collections while holding ourselves accountable to the highest ethical standards. 

We encourage our students to live James Farmer’s words, carved in stone here on our campus. 

Carving of a quote by James Farmer set in a brick wall. Quote reads, "Freedom and equality are inherent rights in the United States. Therefore, I encourage young people to take on the task by standing up and speaking out on behalf of people denied those rights. We have not finished the job of making our country whole."

A James Farmer quote on the UMW campus encourages speaking out against injustice. Photo credit: Sarah Appleby.

“Freedom and equality are inherent rights in the United States. Therefore, I encourage young people to take on the task by standing up and speaking out on behalf of people denied those rights. We have not finished the job of making our country whole.”

We want to continue to take the time to learn, listen, and have important conversations. We are here to support our community.

If you’re a member of the UMW community that has participated in the protest movement and you have questions about preservation or ethical archiving of protest materials, please feel free to contact us at While the library works to reopen safely during the ongoing pandemic, staff remains available to offer help remotely. 

June 30, 2020

Navigating our Digital Collections

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As Special Collections & University Archives staff enter the 12th week of working remotely during this global pandemic, I wanted to aggregate and share the digital repositories and collections that you can explore online to gain access to our many unique materials. With so much available content, it can often be confusing deciding where to begin your search.

Frequently when I get a research question, I start by going to this listing of our digital collections. You can use this page as a portal to access our more specific digitized collections. For instance, if your question is related to the earlier history of the University, start with a search in Eagle Explorer, an interactive full-text search tool of many of the University’s publications. You can discover student newspaper articles as well as yearbooks and academic catalogs through the years.

Front page of The Bullet, Student newspaper), October 23, 1942

The Bullet, October 23, 1942

Much of UMW’s recent history is now published online and can be found by searching through UMW’s Web Archives. For the last six years, the SC&UA Department has been archiving the University’s online content in accordance with our mission to preserve UMW’s history. This includes the University’s main website, athletics sites, social media accounts and more.

Screenshot of the UMW News web page from May 15, 2020

Screenshot of the UMW News page from May 15, 2020.

If you are looking for specific digitized collections, like the James L. Farmer Collection  or UMW Blogs, or are searching for oral histories and extensive visual materials, our Digital Collections repository is the stop.

Women in purple and white costumesdance at an early Multicultural Fair.

Dancing performance at an early Multicultural Fair.

Curious about the latest student and faculty scholarship? Check out  Eagle Scholar. This repository is home to over 2,500 creative and scholarly open-access works by the UMW community. Quick links are provided to the most downloaded items in the collection as well as to recent additions. Eagle Scholar is also the repository for UMW’s 5,000+ herbarium collection. A wonderful collection of digitized specimens to peruse during your days inside.

A specimen of ground cedar.

A specimen of ground cedar from 1974.

Finally an oft-overlooked resource and one of my favorites, our Online Exhibits and Projects site which includes Artifacts in the University Archives, as well as various thematic exhibits created from our collection materials.

Lots of online sources to navigate and explore!  If there are resources you need to access that are not available here, contact us at 540-654-1752 or email The SC&UA team is continuing to work remotely and here to assist you. We also have an Accessing Special Collections & University Archives Materials During the COVID-19 Pandemic guide detailing collection access during this period.

We miss seeing everyone in the Research Room. Stay healthy and stay safe!

May 31, 2020

“Quarantime”: Completing an Internship Remotely

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Written by Special Collections & University Archives Intern, Cat Kinde ’21

“Quarantime,” as my family has taken to calling this shocking haze of life we find ourselves in, has definitely changed our lives in numerous and complicated ways.  One aspect of my life that was especially impacted was the way I completed  my internship.

This semester, I was an intern for the Special Collections and University Archives at Simpson Library supervised by Carolyn Parsons. Throughout this time, I learned and experienced in some small way what it means to work in a University Archives. One of the favorite parts of my internship was learning how to accession objects in the collection. Unfortunately, it is a bit difficult to create records for an archive if you are not actually in the archive!

When I got the email on March 11 stating that students were being sent home for three weeks, in the midst of many phone calls, reassurances, and speed packing, I remember worrying about many things, including the fate of my internship. Luckily, over the course of a rather lengthy email chain, Carolyn and Professor Harris, my faculty advisor, helped me devise a plan to continue my internship from a distance.

In March B.C.E (Before Coronavirus Era), Carolyn and I were working on a new exhibit for the archives. I had already assisted her with an earlier exhibit on James Farmer’s Libraries, and this next exhibit was to focus on women’s suffrage activities at Mary Washington. 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. However, to our surprise my research showed there was actually very little suffrage activity on campus at the State Normal School (now UMW), so we decided to expand the exhibit to focus on national, state, and local levels.

Woman Suffrage Procession Program Cover showing a trumpeter on a white horse with the US Capitol in the background, 1913

Woman Suffrage Procession Program Cover, 1913 Library of Congress

Of course, none of that technically mattered if the building where the exhibit was supposed to be would be closed due to the global health crisis. Once again, Carolyn along with the equally amazing Digital Resources Librarian, Angie Kemp, came to the rescue, and we determined that the exhibit could be completed virtually through Timeline JS.

Student working on her online exhibit at home with white pet dog.

Working from home has a bonus perk – help from an extremely fluffy co-worker (not exactly helpful, but he is quite fluffy).

The switch from creating a physical to a virtual exhibit has been extremely interesting. The research behind the exhibit has been more or less the same, but the dynamics of what I needed to complete the exhibit has been quite different. I still worked on gaining permission to use photos and writing captions for them, but instead of using Photoshop to make sure the photos maintained a high quality when printed, I worked on cropping and arranging them directly into the exhibit space. The labels I wrote were also much more concise than they were before; otherwise the text would overtake the screen. Additionally, the majority of my work could be done in my pajamas. (Not that I couldn’t wear my pajamas at the library-it just would have been weird).

Student working at her kitchen table.

Although the couch, pajamas, and dog are all extremely appealing, I did try to create a semblance of a workspace at the kitchen table.

Either way, after many weeks of fast-paced learning, I am happy to announce the virtual exhibit is officially complete. You can view my exhibit here: “A Vote is a Counted Voice”: Celebrating the Centennial of a Woman’s Right to Vote, It was definitely a very different experience than the one I had been expecting when I started working on this exhibit, but I think it ended up being just as informative and interesting as the original, only in a different format.

Stay safe, stay sane, and I hope to see you all in the fall!

April 30, 2020

Photograph Digitization Project

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Written by Digital Archiving Lab Student Aide, Claire Jackson. 

My very first day of work at the Digital Archiving Lab in the fall of 2019 was packed with a ton of new information. I wasn’t yet familiar with the University’s archives or even how they digitize and make them accessible through their databases. On my first day, I toured the first floor of the library, where Special Collections stores additional photographs, each one depicting a snapshot of Mary Washington’s history. These photographs were taken over the years by official Mary Washington photographers and since printed and organized into folders according to date and subject matter. They range from the trees on campus walk to Commencement celebrations. Each one of these photos held its own meaning to an institution that I had joined just a month prior.

A photograph of the Fitness Center on a sunny day, taken from campus walk near Jepson Hall.

Photographs from the early 2000s show many changes to campus, such as the addition of the Fitness Center in 2004. Photograph by Lou Cordero.

The process of digitizing these photos is what I will detail here. Over the course of the semester, two other student aides and I digitized around 655 photos. The process always started with being assigned a folder that had a label with its title and the cabinet/row it came from. Once a folder was assigned, gloves were worn to take the photo out of its sleeve and to place it on the flatbed Epson scanner in the Digital Archiving Lab. Photos were placed roughly in the middle of the scanner so that there would be room to crop off the side, as well as straighten the image later.

Next, the settings on the Epson scan software were set. Depending on the image, the scan was set for color or grayscale. All photos were scanned at 600dpi and as a TIFF file, both of which are standard for preservation. No additional advancements (i.e. color or backlight correction) were used to digitize the image, keeping it as close to the way it appears. After the settings were set, a preview scan was conducted, which allowed for a crop to be drawn. At this stage, a generous border was used around the image, as an additional crop would be done later in Photoshop. A final scan was done, and then the image was opened in Photoshop.

The first step in Photoshop was to straighten the image. The straightening tool was drawn along one side of the image. Photoshop then automatically turned the image, so the line that was drawn was straight. After this, a final crop was done, still making sure to leave a small white border around the image so that it was clear that no part of the image was cropped out. The image was then saved, compressed to 300dpi, and saved as a JPEG file. 300dpi JPEG files are easily accessible on the web for download, unlike the larger TIFF files. Both the original TIFF and compressed JPEG file were saved onto the archives’ hard drives for storage.

A screenshot of a photograph opened in Photoshop software. The screenshot depicts the straighten tool being used in Photoshop to straighten a crooked image. The image in Photoshop used for this example is of the clock installation in front of Woodard Hall.

The straighten tool in Photoshop is drawn along the top edge of the photo. Photograph by Debra Garrett.

The next step in the process was to upload the images to Omeka, which is a content management system that allows for the creation of private or public digital collections. Each image that was uploaded was done so individually with its own form. Much of the information that was added to this form came from the information supplied on the back of the photograph. Most photographs were labeled with a date, the photographer, and occasionally names of the people photographed. If a title was not supplied, an appropriate one was created by the student aide. The folder name and cabinet number of the folder where this image came from were also put into this form. This step was taken so that if later someone finds this image online and wants to examine it in person, we know where exactly to locate it.

A screenshot of the data entry form in Omeka showing the following fields and values for an example photograph. Some fields have more than one value. The fields shown in this screenshot are the following: Title, "Clock Tower Installation;" Source, "2004-2005, Cabinet 3, Drawer 1" and "Events on Campus;" Date, "2001-04-09.”

A title, the source according to the image folder, and its date were added to Omeka.

One of the most essential pieces of information we put into Omeka included subject headings related to the image. Before processing took place, a list of common subjects, including names, buildings, and campus events, was compiled. This list specified all the names and abbreviations a single item could be called. This is important, because throughout Mary Washington’s history buildings have gone by different names or even a person by their nickname. This list also allowed the aides to know what to pick out of an image that would be important for someone searching for it later. My favorite subject we came up with is “bench sitting.” It really goes to show just how specific to UMW we wanted to be when identifying photos!

A screenshot of the data entry form in Omeka showing the following fields and values for an example photograph. Some fields have more than one value. The fields shown in this screenshot are the following: Subject, "Clock Tower" and “Construction”; Description, "Close up of clock. The clock is embellished with silver details and sits in a wooden carrying crate." and “Image Text: Text on clock face reads: Mary Washington College 1908."; Creator, “Garrett, Debra.”

Subjects according to the index list and a description for this photo were put into Omeka.

Other information that was included in the Omeka form was any text in the photo or on the back, as well as the language it is in. The dimensions and original format were also identified. Once all the information was added, the image was uploaded, and the form was marked as “needs review.” Before these photos with their metadata can be uploaded to Preservica, Special Collections & University Archives staff will review the work of the aides. The process was now done and repeated for a few hundred more photos!

April 16, 2020

A Call to Contribute

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Today, we are all finding our way through a crisis that future students and scholars will be studying in the years ahead. We know that it is important to preserve as much of the record as possible for future researchers. Staff in Special Collections & University Archives are archiving the University’s response to COVID-19. However, there are important materials that we cannot collect without your help: individual stories. If you’re a UMW community member and have been keeping a record of these events and how they’ve impacted your life, please consider donating them to University Archives in the future. If you haven’t, please consider this a call to write and help us document this unprecedented global crisis.

Photograph of student sitting at the reading room table, holding and studying small bound materials from University Archives.

Archival materials detailing the University of Mary Washington’s history are used in many research projects.

Many of you love to use pencil and paper, and we would be happy to archive original documents and creative works. For example, University Archives currently has over 80 scrapbooks in our collection spanning the decades of UMW’s history. Many represent other major events in our history, such as World War II. Today’s students, staff, and alumni spend hours perusing these materials and we can only imagine that future additions to this collection detailing recent world events will be studied in much the same way. Primary source materials in Special Collections & University Archives can inform many student projects, such as the 2014 digital history project, Century America: The State Normal School and Fredericksburg, VA, 1914-1919, which discusses the impacts of World War I and the Spanish influenza on the college and community. If you keep a handwritten journal, sketchbook, diary, scrapbook, etc. and would like to donate scans of the item but keep the original, that would also be great! Once your journal is complete, we would be happy to create high-resolution scans in the Digital Archiving Lab and return the original to you.

One image showing both a left and right page of a scrapbook. One large black and white photograph is pasted on each page. In both photographs, a group of women are standing around a counter. The counter has a large "V" on the front of it. Above the photograph on the left page, the word "Stamps!!" is written. On the right page, the word "Bonds!!" is written above the photograph.

This “Victory Book” details students’ relief efforts during World War II. It is just one scrapbook among many in Special Collections & University Archives.

There are also many who prefer to create records through a digital medium, such as blogging or podcasting.  We are able to archive many of these formats as well; in fact, that is how we accomplish much of our current collecting. As the majority of news, announcements, and reactions to COVID-19 are published digitally, we are actively using our web archiving tools to collect websites, videos, social media, and more. Take a look at our UMW Blogs collection to see how your website might look in a digital archive, or view our web archives to see some of the digital information we are gathering.

A screenshot of an archived version of UMW's Twitter feed. It has a yellow banner across the top of the page warning users that this is an archived page and may not contain the most recent information. The top post on the Twitter page is UMW's March 18th message, announcing UMW's decision to not return to normal operations this semester.

Web archiving technologies allow Special Collections and University Archives staff to collect historically important changes to UMW’s web presence, such as updates on the University’s operating status via Twitter.

If you decide that you would like to record these events but aren’t yet sure about donating them to University Archives, we understand, and we’re happy to provide any help that we can. The Library of Congress offers an exhaustive list of personal archiving tips, covering a wide range of formats. We also recommend for archiving your own website. If you would like to read more about other universities’ efforts to archive the COVID-19 crisis, projects at Indiana University Bloomington and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee are great places to start!

If you have questions about archiving your content (or anything else!), please contact us at We are all still working remotely and will respond to your inquiries. For more information about Special Collections & University Archives resources and services during this time, please visit our “Online Resources for Faculty and Students” guide.

March 26, 2020

James Farmer’s Libraries: A Special Exhibit

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Campus buzzes this year with activity associated with Farmer Legacy 2020Here in Special Collections and University Archives, we’re also doing our part to recognize and celebrate the legacy of James Farmer. As mentioned in our previous post, we’ve opened the James L. Farmer Papers for research and published the finding aidand we’ve also created an exhibit in the Convergence Gallery. To add to this, most recently, we’ve curated another exhibit titled James Farmer’s Libraries. This exhibit features select items from the personal book and music collections of the Civil Rights icon. 

The majority of the materials in these libraries came to Special Collections and University Archives after his death in 1999. Like his papers, these items reflect his involvement with various Civil Rights organizations and notable figures, and they highlight a lifetime of activism. 

James Farmer seated at a desk in front of bookshelves.

James Farmer at his desk, 1988. Photograph by Lou Cordero.

Among his long string of accomplishments, James Farmer was also a writer whose prose struck as effectively as his speech. He appreciated the craft and curated a collection of books from various authors who wrote about topics close to his heart. Important themes of civil rights, justice, and equality clearly run dominant throughout his library.

Most of the books displayed in the exhibit were gifts to Dr. Farmer, as evidenced by the number of personal inscriptions. One such inscription is from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Upton Sinclair, famous in his own right for his social justice involvement and investigative works such as The Jungle. Sinclair signed a copy of his book The Return of Lanny Budd with the note, “To James Farmer, one of our young crusaders who must take over. 

Handwritten inscription that reads, "To James Farmer, one of our young crusaders who must take over, Upton Sinclair"

Inscription to James Farmer from Upton Sinclair.

Farmer’s library includes a few autobiographies of fellow activists. Coretta Scott King’s 1969 book, My Life with Martin Luther King, one such example, containing an inscription that reads, To James Farmer, with gratitude for your love and support, and with warm regards. Coretta Scott King. Farmer’s own autobiography, Lay Bare the Heart, is also on display. This item once belonged to James Farmer, but unlike the other volumes, he personally gave it as a gift to the Mary Washington library with the inscription, “To the students of Mary Washington College”. 

Cover of Lay Bare the Heart: An Autobiography of the Civil Rights Movement by James Farmer with a photo of the author featured

James Farmer’s autobiography recounts a life of work towards equality and freedom for all.

For James Farmer and others in the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), nonviolence was at the center of the Civil Rights Movement. Instead, as both weapon and defense, CORE frequently wielded song. Farmer was deeply familiar with this, and wrote in Lay Bare the Heart:  

“We sang loudly to silence our own fears. And to rouse our courage. There is no armor more impenetrable than song.”

Four young African-Americans joining hands and singing.

The Freedom Singers (Cordell Reagon, Rutha Harris, Charles Neblett, Bernice Johnson Reagon). This quartet traveled with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and performed frequently throughout the Civil Rights Movement, including at the 1963 March on Washington.

Even in the face of hatred and violence, those marching for equal rights sangMany of the records in James Farmer’s library of albums feature collected songs of the Civil Rights Movement. These records include the soundtrack to the famed 1963 March on Washington, featuring music from folk legends such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Peter, Paul, and Mary, as well as gospel stars Marian Anderson and Mahalia Jackson.  

Album cover for We Shall Overcome!: The March on Washington, August 28th 1963

The recording from the March on Washington contains the music and the speeches of the day, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s renowned “I Have a Dream” speech.

Farmer’s collection also includes A Jazz Salute to Freedom, notable as CORE’s first venture in music production. The album features several popular jazz musicians of the era: Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Nat and Cannonball Adderly, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and many others. As CORE’s National Director, James Farmer wrote a note of gratitude on the liner notes, thanking all purchasers for supporting CORE and reminding them of CORE’s purpose. 

Album cover for A Jazz Salute to Freedom

CORE’s first music production featured recordings from famous jazz artists, coming together to support equal rights.

Currently on display outside of the Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room on Simpson Library’s second floor, James Farmer’s Libraries will remain up for viewing until March 28. 

February 20, 2020

Farmer Legacy 2020

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These past weeks, the UMW community celebrated two civil rights “Big Four” leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.and Dr. James Farmer.

100th Birthday Celebration for Dr. James Farmer

100th Birthday Celebration for Dr. James Farmer in Chandler Ballroom

2020 marks the centennial of James Farmer’s birth and UMW is honoring his legacy and actions during  Farmer Legacy 2020 , a  year-long commitment to “promoting inclusive excellence and community and civic engagement in the classroom, on campus and in the community …”

Dr. Farmer joined the faculty at Mary Washington College as Commonwealth Professor of History (later Distinguished Professor of History) in 1985 and left his impact on the campus as he continued to share his work as a civil rights activist and educator.

Farmer speaking in the 1980s.

Dr. Farmer speaking in the 1980s.

To raise awareness and learn more about James Farmer, Simpson Library staff have created several exhibits, currently on display in the lobby and in the Convergence Gallery, with biographical timelines of Farmer’s impactful life and books to checkout on the Civil Rights Movement. An additional exhibit,  James Farmer’s Libraries, highlighting his personal collections of books and music, will open next month.

Exhibit, James Farmer: In His Own Words.

Exhibit: James Farmer: In His Own Words, 1920-1999 in the Convergence Gallery

Special Collections & University Archives houses Dr. Farmer’s records from the last years of his life. The complete finding aid to his papers and audiovisual materials can be viewed here. Our digital collections also provide a selection of images and audiovisual materials, including the James Farmer Reflections series, thirteen of Dr. Farmer’s lectures given when he was Professor of History. These primary resources are accessible within the online James L. Farmer Collection.

As we kick-off the University’s many Farmer-related events this year, Special Collections and University Archives is honored to support the year’s remembrance and calls to action by continuing to preserve our Farmer collections and make accessible Farmer’s words and ideas to inspire a new generation’s work for social justice and inclusion.

January 27, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

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Written by  Caitlin DeMarco, Library Assistant

Many people come to Special Collections & University Archives (SC&UA) with questions of all shapes and sizes. Over the years, we have begun noticing that some questions come up more than others. So I would like to answer some of our Frequently Asked Questions! 

Can I look through things in the Special Collections & University Archives room? 

You absolutely can! Check out the hours we are open here. You can also call or email us to set up a longer research appointment. The usage rules are a little different from the rest of the library, because of the value, uniqueness, and condition of some of the items in the collection – for example, a member of the library staff will bring your requested item to you at the research table. 


Where are the undergraduate departmental honors papers? 

While we have many bound honors papers in SC&UA, you can find most post-2008 papers online at Eagle Scholar! Eagle Scholar is the library’s digital repository, holding both faculty and student research projects. You can locate undergraduate and graduate student research projects here.  

A few of the bound undergraduate honors papers held at SC&UA.

A few of the bound undergraduate honors papers held at SC&UA.

When did Mary Washington become coed? 
While a small number of men attended Mary Washington previously (particularly right after WWII), Mary Washington College for a time was considered the female campus integrated with the University of Virginia. In September 1969, the U.S. District Court outlawed gender discrimination in admissions policy at both schools. Mary Washington College officially became coeducational with the enrollment of 22 male transfer students in the 1970-1971 school year. The first male students graduated in 1972.

Do we have to wear white gloves to handle things? 
Usually not! Though you may see them on TV, white gloves can cause small amounts of damage to paper and other materials. We ask that you diligently wash your hands with soap and water, and dry them well, before coming to Special Collections to handle something. The only time you may be asked to wear gloves is when handling photographs or metal objects (which are more susceptible to the oils on your hands).

Photograph of a gloved hand holding a Devil-Goat Day devil pin.

This metal Devil pin needs careful handling!

Do you have [insert object here]? 
We may have it, but your first place to check is our search box at You can also check the links to the right side of that page. If you need help, you can email or call us using the information in the ‘Contact Us’ box.

What is the coolest thing you have in the collection? 
It’s impossible to choose! We have beanie hats, DevilGoat Day memorabilia, the James Joyce collection, and student newspapers and yearbooks…there are too many things to choose from! You will just have to drop by Special Collections and University Archives to see if you can find your coolest thing.

Photo of a brown leather-bound 1610 chained book.

One of the many cool things in SC&UA – a 1610 chained book!

December 10, 2019

Captioning James Farmer’s Reflections Lectures

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Written by Francesca Maisano ’21, Digital Archiving Lab Student Aide.

In preparation for UMW’s Centennial Celebration of James Farmer, Farmer Legacy 2020: A Centennial Celebration and Commitment to Action, the Special Collections & University Archives Department, specifically the Digital Archiving Lab, was tasked with captioning a series of filmed class lectures of James Farmer. These date from 1987, when Dr. Farmer was Commonwealth Professor in History at what was then Mary Washington College. Captioning the videos will make the videos accessible for those who have hearing impairments. Transcripts are also very important to include in audiovisual collections and had been previously created by Laura Donahue ’12, Michelle Martz ’12, Kelsey Matthews ’13, and Caitlin Murphy ’12, students in Dr. Jeffrey McClurken’s 2012 Adventures in Digital History class for their website on James Farmer’s Reflections Lectures.

The basic captioning process went as follows:

First, the videos were uploaded to YouTube. YouTube was chosen as it automatically captions videos, so the words and timings would already be there. However, you have to use Creator Studio Classic, not YouTube Studio Beta, as the latter does not do captioning. This took about 10-15 minutes, as it includes both the time for uploading and processing.

Screenshot of YouTube showing a video is being uploaded, as referenced in Step 1.

Videos can be uploaded to YouTube for automatic captioning.

Then, the automated captions were edited. YouTube automated captions can often not be particularly accurate. However, as James Farmer’s voice was so clear and he spoke relatively slowly, the captions were more accurate. Most of the editing was to add punctuation, which automated captions do not have, and check for spelling mistakes, mostly of names. For example, YouTube does not recognize that Fredericksburg is an actual name, so it would misspell it in the same way in every video (the automated captions may have been wrong, but at least they were consistent!). Another name that YouTube did not recognize was CORE, Farmer’s Civil Rights organization, which it would often misspell as “core,” all lowercase. It also did not recognize another frequently talked about organization: the Civil Rights organization, SNCC. I found it easier to edit wording and adjust timing in YouTube than in Adobe Premiere Pro, so most of the editing was done at this stage. While the times varied between videos, as some were a little shorter than others, and some videos’ captions were more correct than others, it would often take around an hour plus to complete the work.

Screenshot of YouTube in which captions of a video are being edited, as referenced in Step 2.

In YouTube, you can edit automatic captions through Creator Studio Classic.

Once the captions were done, they were downloaded then uploaded with the .mpg clip into Adobe Premiere Pro. The captions were lined up and the wording was checked to make sure nothing had happened between YouTube and Adobe Premiere. One common issue was that instead of quotation marks in the captions there would be stars. Another common issue was that text would stretch nicely across the YouTube video, but on the Adobe video the text would run off the video, the line of text being too long, and then the text would be cut off.

Both of these issues required scanning through the text and editing any mistakes in the captions and adjusting the length of the lines of the text if they were too long, adding another 5 to 20 minutes of time to fully complete the work.

Screenshot of Adobe Premiere Pro in which captions of a video are being edited, as referenced in Step 3.

In Adobe Premiere Pro, captions can be edited after they’ve been inserted into the project.

Finally, the videos were exported with the captions from Adobe Premiere Pro, which embeds the captions into the videos. This took between 3-4 minutes per video.

Screenshot of Adobe Premiere Pro depicting a video being exported as referenced in Step 4.

After uploading and editing videos in Adobe Premiere Pro, the videos can be exported into a single, open-captioned video.

Overall, captioning the videos was both an enjoyable and educational project. While editing, there were times I would listen to a sentence or two over and over again to make sure the wording was correct. James Farmer really was a fantastic orator! I also learned a great deal about the Civil Rights Movement. Growing up what I learned about the Civil Rights Movement was surface-level and never for very long. These videos allow for people to learn and understand the history, events, and people of the Civil Rights Movement from someone who was involved in and personally led the movement. Listening to Farmer made it more personal and impactful to me, as it was not just words in a textbook but a person, with his memories and emotions, talking about his experiences. It was not always pleasant to listen to, as he would talk about discrimination, violent racism, and even death, but I always left more knowledgeable on the subject and ruminating on the past, present, and future.

Both captioned and uncaptioned videos along with the transcripts are now available on Simpson Library’s Digital Collections platform. We would also like to give special thanks to the many colleagues at UMW and other institutions who gave wonderful advice on this process!

November 26, 2019

Marching Band Drum Returns Home to University Archives

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Written by Special Collections & University Archives Student Aide, Megan Williams 

Over the summer the University of Mary Washington received a unique transfer from the Music Department to University Archives. James Baker, founder of the College-Community Symphony Orchestra and former Music Department Chair, and his family generously returned a piece of UMW’s history by donating the bass drum from the Mary Washington College (MWC) “All-Girl Marching Band.”

"All-Girl Marching Band" Bass Drum in Special Collections

All-Girl Marching Band’s bass drum

Spanning from 1940 to 1958, the Marching Band was considered a “decided novelty” in the days before almost every high school had a marching band (Alvey 1974, 205).

"All-Girl Marching Band" members marching down the street in Fredericksburg at the annual Dog Mart.

The “All-Girl Marching Band “ in Fredericksburg at the annual Dog Mart, 1955

The founder of the “All-Girl Band” was Ronald W. Faulkner, who came to the college in the fall of 1937. Faulkner was a native of Greely, Colorado, a graduate of Julliard School of Music, and a flutist for the San Diego Symphony Orchestra (Alvey 1974, 204).

Professor Ronald W. Faulkner Battlefield, 1947

Professor Ronald W. Faulkner Battlefield, 1947

When he came to MWC, Faulkner was given the specific task of organizing the instrumental instruction program. In this position, Faulkner was successful in establishing a program. In fact he established a concert orchestra, dance orchestra, and the marching band (Alvey 1974, 203-204). 

When the MWC “All-Girl Band” made its first appearance in 1940, everyone across campus was talking about it. The band “made a colorful appearance,” in their white skirts, blue jackets, white boots and the helmet headdress (Alvey 1974, 205). At the band’s first appearance a “rather prim lady on the faculty complained about the shortness of the skirts.” In response to this comment Mr. Faulkner famously remarked, “I’m glad she doesn’t have to wear one” (Alvey 1974, 206).

The entire marching band posing in their uniforms with the American flag and the Virginia State flag.

The “All-Girl Marching Band” posing in their new blue and white uniforms for the 1955 Battlefield.

The “All-Girl Band” had appearances outside of campus. During the years of World War II, the band played in many parades and rallies throughout Virginia. However, they primarily played in Richmond, Washington D.C., and Fredericksburg. For a number of years the band led Thalhimer’s Toy Parade. This parade occurred after Thanksgiving and marked the beginning of the holiday season (Alvey 1974, 208). The Thalhimer Toy Parade was one of many parades that the “All-Girl Band” performed in. Unfortunately for the “All-Girl Band” they were no longer unique by 1958. This lead to the marching band being discontinued, and the College putting more focus into the concert band (Alvey 1974, 408).

Two band members pose with the band’s instruments and trophies.

Band members posing with the bass drum, other instruments, and trophies.

Once the band was dismantled, the bass drum was stored in Pollard Hall until the 1980s when the building went through a major renovation. During this time, the College had a number of things scheduled to be replaced and updated, most notably the instruments. One of the items was the “All-Girl Band” bass drum. Luckily for Special Collections and the University Archives, President Anderson gave the drum to Dr. Baker who safely kept it through these years.

The thing that makes this drum unique is the signatures. The signatures on the drum include Al Hodge (Captain Video), Bert Parks, Hopalong Cassidy, Johnathan Long, Aldo Ray, Van Johnson, and Bing Cosby. It has been difficult to determine when and where the band got the signatures; however, the Battlefield, the University’s yearbook, has been a useful resource.

From looking at the Battlefield each year from 1940 until 1958 an estimated date range has been determined for when the drum got its signatures. The first signatures to appear on the drum were of Bing Crosby and Van Johnson, an American actor. These signatures are visible in the 1956 Battlefield 

The band posing for the 1956 Battlefield. In this image the bass drum is featured with Bing Crosby’s and Van Johnson’s signatures.

The band posing for the 1956 Battlefield. In this image, the bass drum is featured with Bing Crosby’s and Van Johnson’s signatures.

In 1957, the following year’s Battlefield features the drum with the additional signature of Aldo Ray, an American actor. In the last year of the “All-Girl Band” (1958), the Battlefield photo features the band in one of their signature formations, a heart. As a result of the placement, it is difficult to tell what signatures are on the drum.

The band posing in their signature heart formation. Battlefield, 1958

The band posing in their signature heart formation. Battlefield, 1958

If anyone has information about the Mary Washington College’s “All-Girl Marching Band” or the bass drum, please contact us at And if you are interested in viewing the drum, stop by Special Collections and University Archives during our open hours from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Tuesday through Thursday or email us if you would like to make an appointment.

Alvey Jr., Edward. History of Mary Washington College, 1908-1972. Charlottesville, VA: University Press, 1974. 

November 3, 2019