Category Archives: Uncategorized

Honors Projects in Eagle Scholar

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2018 has been a year of big releases and changes for UMW Special Collections and University Archives! In addition to our new Digital Collections platform that went live in April, we’ve also been working hard on UMW’s new institutional repository, Eagle Scholar. The new institutional repository required changes to the way our department gathers honors projects, and we are happy to report that our first collection experience was a success!

To provide context, Eagle Scholar is a repository for the scholarly and creative output of the UMW community. This can include articles, artwork, research data, and more. Its collections are broader than Special Collections and University Archives, but we are its administrative home, managing the technical aspects of the software in conjunction with the software service, bepress. Our department also works as a part of the UMW Libraries’ Scholarly Communications Team, which assists with planning, outreach, and implementation of the repository.

A screenshot of the Eagle Scholar homepage. A blue banner with "Eagle Scholar" and the university seal is at the top of the screen. A photograph of students working with a professor is in the center of the screen. Under the photograph, there are links to the main collections in the repository, such as "The College of Arts and Sciences" and "Undergraduate and Graduate Student Research."

Eagle Scholar is a repository for the scholarly and creative output of the UMW community.

Previously, honors projects in electronic formats were stored and accessed through our original digital collections platform, while physical, bound formats were (and continue to be) stored in Special Collections. While honors projects will always be a part of the University Archives, it seemed that they would also be an excellent part of the institutional repository, since they are often the culminating work of a student’s career at Mary Washington. As we began to migrate collections out of our previous digital collections platform last year, we made the decision to move the honors projects collections into Eagle Scholar, so that they would be accessible along with the other scholarly and creative outputs of the University.

A screenshot of the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Research page, which includes links to sub-collections that are either department or program names, such as "Art and Art History" and "Education." There is also a sidebar with links to other pages on the website.

Students can browse honors projects by department or program on Eagle Scholar.

Since the software that runs Eagle Scholar also includes the technical capability of accepting submissions, we chose to move our collections process into the system itself. Though our custom submission form had worked well over the years, the ability to accept, approve, and publish submissions in one system streamlined the process and improved efficiency. Furthermore, students are able to browse departmental honors project examples, read copyright and terms of use information, and view submission instructions all in one place, which adds to the clarity of the honors project process.

A screenshot of the "Submit Your Research" webpage on the Eagle Scholar Repository. It includes instructions for students to submit their projects, and a sidebar with links to other pages on the website.

Students can follow the instructions in Eagle Scholar to submit their honors projects directly to the repository.

Our first collection cycle occurred at the end of the spring 2018 semester, and we were happy to see how smoothly it went. Students submitted their projects using the online form and received confirmation emails upon submission and approval. Students were also able to submit URLs instead of PDFs, and Special Collections staff archived their websites and placed a link to the archival capture as well as the original website URL in the metadata record. Several examples of that process can be viewed in the Theatre and Dance Honors Projects collection.

We are looking forward to a new year of honors projects and the expansion of our student research collections. If you are an alum who submitted a physical copy of your honors project to the library and would like it added to Eagle Scholar, please let us know. We are happy to scan and upload previous projects with the permission of the author. As always, please contact us with any questions!

August 31, 2018

Archiving the Web at UMW

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In addition to the UMW archival images found on Digital Collections and the publications searched through Eagle Explorer, much of the University’s recent history can be found through our web archives. For about four years, UMW Archives has been archiving institutional websites in accordance with our mission to preserve UMW’s history. This includes the University’s social media accounts, athletics websites, the main website and more. Many of the websites, such as the social media accounts, are captured on an automated, recurring basis, though we do manually capture some sites around big events happening on campus, such as President Paino’s inauguration, in order to preserve the online presence of major events for the UMW community.


A screenshot depicting UMW's homepage on April 22nd, 2017, showing a photograph of President Paino and a news story related to his inauguration beneath it.

A screenshot of what the UMW website looked like on April 22nd, 2017, at the time of President Paino’s inauguration.

Our web archives are a great resource for researchers who are studying the community and activities at UMW up to present day. As more marketing materials and event details get posted online, the web archives will frequently hold important information not available in print formats. While the idea of searching through web archives might seem a bit abstract or complicated, there are search and browse features that put items within reach. The search box allows researchers to not only search the descriptions that staff have provided for archived websites, but it also searches the text of the website itself. Furthermore, for those interested in viewing changes in the web over time, the archived sites can be browsed by the dates on which they were captured.


A screenshot of the front page of the web archive collections that shows the title and description of the UMW collection, as well as a search box beneath it.

A search box can be found on the front page of the web archive collections to assist with research and discovery.


A screenshot of the University of Mary Washington Website Archival Collection. It shows all of the dates that the website was captured, ranging from September 1st, 2014, to May 18th, 2018.

A date listing is provided so that researchers can browse websites chronologically. (Click on the image to view a larger version). 


In addition to the institutional websites, UMW Archives also captures undergraduate honors projects that were done in a digital format, such as a blog or website. Both the archived and current URLs are added to the project’s record in Eagle Scholar, so that even if the blog or website becomes inaccessible, the student will have a preserved record of the project in UMW’s institutional repository. Furthermore, archived websites are distinguishable from their current counterparts because they include a banner at the top of the page providing information on the date and time that the website was captured.


A screenshot of the UMW homepage from 2014. It shows a photograph of students holding candles, with the title "Illuminating a New Year," as well as a September 2014 calendar and top stories. There is a pale yellow banner across the top of the screen with the date and time of the archival capture.

This archived webpage from 2014 includes a banner at the top of the page describing the date and time it was captured. (Click on the image to view a larger version). 

If you would like to browse or search the web archives, you can do so by going to You can also browse honors project websites through Eagle Scholar. Furthermore, we encourage students to submit digital projects that they have worked on to be considered for archiving. Information on that process can found here:

If you have any questions or thoughts regarding the web archives, please let us know!

July 6, 2018

Introducing Digital Collections: An Access and Preservation Platform

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In celebration of Preservation Week, UMW Libraries is excited to announce the release of a new digital preservation and access platform, Special Collections and University Archives: Digital Collections, powered by Preservica. Simpson Library has been providing access to its unique digitized collections for ten years, and this new platform takes our digital preservation initiatives to a higher level, as well as provides the user community with more materials for research. Many of our readers may be familiar with Archives@UMW, our previous platform, and we hope that you will find just as much use and enjoyment from our new system as we move forward with our digital preservation technology and goals.

A screen capture of the home page of the Digital Collections system. It shows an introductory paragraph and five collections.

The home page of the new Digital Collections system.

As more and more formats are created and used by our University community, library staff must develop strategies to select, acquire, preserve, and provide access to these unique resources. While we will always archive traditional, analog formats, many of our campus community members submit papers as PDFs rather than printed pages, and create class projects on blogs and YouTube rather than poster board. In addition to viewing our fantastic physical materials, we know that future researchers will also want to take a look at those PDFs, videos, and websites. A large part of our mission at Special Collections and University Archives is to collect the institution’s history, and much of that today is digital.

While storing multiple copies of digital resources is always a good start, we also want to make sure we are pursuing active digital preservation. That is, we need to constantly be able to assess the usability of our digital files, making sure they are formatted for consumption (i.e. could you still open an electronic file you created in the early 90’s with today’s software?). If not, we must migrate those files to new, sustainable derivatives. It’s important to confirm that none of the records we are acquiring have viruses or other issues, and that none of the data deteriorates or “rots” over time. Perhaps most importantly, though, we must be able to provide access to the materials we are archiving. Our new platform will help us effectively manage all of these tasks.

We have lots of goals, ideas, and imaginings for Digital Collections. This summer, in collaboration with the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies, we plan to start an archival appraisal and acquisition project of the many UMW blogs created over the years. We will also proactively collect current projects created on Domain of One’s Own as we work with community members to decide what should and can be preserved. We plan to continue digitizing our unique materials, such as scrapbooks and ledgers, as well as our audiovisual materials, expanding current collections and creating new ones.

A screen capture of the Trinkle Hall Blueprint collection, showing website features such as facets and a search box.

Trinkle Library, a part of the UMW Blueprints and Architectural Drawings Collection, incorporates facets to assist with narrowing down browse and/or search results.

As access is a top priority for us at Simpson Library, we hope that you will take a moment to browse our new website. With the exception of undergraduate honors projects and graduate Education projects, which have been migrated into Eagle Scholar, all of our digital archival collections are available to search and browse through Special Collections and University Archives: Digital Collections. University Publications are still searchable through our custom interface, Eagle Explorer. Archives@UMW will be available through the summer, but we will have all links pointing to our new platform by the start of the fall semester. As you are viewing the new system, please send us any suggestions or feedback you may have. We are always appreciative of your ideas for improving access and usage of our collections!

April 26, 2018

What can you scan in the Digital Archiving Lab?

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The Digital Archiving Lab, located in room 322 of the Hurley Convergence Center, is a space for high-resolution digitization, image processing, and lots of creativity and learning. Patrons can make use of image processing on both PCs and iMacs as well as get assistance with using one of our main three pieces of hardware. Each piece of equipment excels in a different area and can meet many different digitization needs.

One type of scanning device that the Digital Archiving Lab provides is the Cobra Rare Book Scanner. As its name suggests, this scanner was built to carefully scan bound material so that a very limited amount of stress is placed on the binding. The glass cradle gently holds open the book while photographs of both the left and right pages are taken simultaneously. The scanner can produce 600 pixels-per-inch images, optimal preservation resolution for manuscript materials, and can accommodate pages as large as 13 by 18 inches on each side of the book. Furthermore, the glass cradle can be removed so that items that can’t be flattened, such as herbarium specimens, can still be digitized!

Photograph of an overhead rare book scanner ready to scan a book.

The glass V-cradle on our overhead scanner gently holds open the pages of rare books.

A second type of scanning equipment is the Epson Flatbed. The flatbed scanner excels at imaging flat materials at very high resolutions. This equipment can be used to enlarge small materials, such as film slides or small artwork, when the goal is to reprint the image in a larger size. For example, a recent slide that we can scanned was originally about 1 by 1.5 inches, but after scanning at a resolution of 2400 pixels-per-inch, it could be printed in high-resolution at about 8 by 11 inches. This scanner can accommodate flat items as large as 12 by 17 inches, and includes plastic templates that you can fill with film slides or film negatives. Finally, we have flatbed scanners connected to both a PC and an iMac so that more than one person can scan at once, or so that you can use your operating system of choice!

Photograph of a flatbed scanner with its lid open, and a tray of slide film sitting on top.

The flatbed scanners can create very high-resolution images of flat items, including film. They also come with convenient templates so multiple small items can be scanned at once.

Our third option for digitization is most often used when it’s time to get creative with your items. Our Canon 50MP DSLR is the best choice for framed items, clothing, and other objects that are too large or otherwise unable to fit on the scanners above. This device can typically provide a 300 pixels-per-inch image, often more than enough for web viewing or regular printing jobs. There are no size limitations for using the DSLR, and the pop-up photography studio is created to fit the materials needs, whether it’s using a clothing stand or a copy stand! Furthermore, we use industry standard color charts to ensure the color accuracy of every image. While the first two devices can be used independently after training, the DSLR and photography studio require assistance from a staff member. We are happy to help during open hours or by appointment!

Photograph of a camera and lights pointed towards the binding of a book.

Our DSLR can be set up in many different ways. In this case, the camera was used to photograph the binding of a book.

If you have an upcoming scanning project or are curious to know if the Digital Archiving Lab equipment will work for your items, contact us at

March 2, 2018

Black History in the Archives

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In honor of Black History Month, the archives staff would like to feature some of our own history with regard to African-Americans at UMW.

Formal desegregation of Mary Washington College didn’t occur until spring of 1964. Prior to integration, there had only been two African-American day students at the school: Jacquelyn Pulliam, who enrolled in summer classes in 1962, and Gaye Todd (now known as Gaye Adegbalola), who attended summer French courses in 1963 while enrolled at Boston University. After the school’s official decision to open enrollment to African-American students, Kay Estelle Savage became the first residential student of color. She would stay for two years and then transfer to Howard University.

Venus R. Jones became Mary Washington’s first African-American graduate, earning a degree in Chemistry in 1968 after just 3 years. Jones would go on to earn her MD from the University of Virginia’s medical school, after which she relocated to Arizona to provide health care to the indigenous population. She became a neurology specialist, rising to chief of neurology at three military hospitals.

Venus Jones poses for a photograph seated at a desk.

Venus R. Jones, ’68.

During her time at Mary Washington, Jones was one of five other black residential students. She joined Chris Hall, Claudith “Dottie” Holmes, and twins Anita and Orita Whitehead. A 1968 Bullet article profiled these five students and their experiences on campus, touching on such topics as segregated housing and prejudice from their white classmates. The “Big Five” as they called themselves in this article—an homage to the Big Four Civil Rights leaders—overall reported very few hostilities from white students on campus, but also noted that many “don’t even know there are [black students] on campus” and likely have never had a conversation with a person of color before. Jones called the latter “an absurd situation in an institution of higher learning.”

Although a small minority at first, black students established events and groups to promote their heritage and increase their visibility on campus. The Afro-American Association was founded in 1970 by Dottie Holmes, one of the “Big Five.” One of the activities the group sponsored was Black Culture Week, which began in 1973. The week began with a ritual and featured various performers and speakers designed to draw attention to the achievements of the black community. While it was open to the public and became a popular event among black students and the larger Fredericksburg community, student organizers were frustrated with the lack of interest shown by many of their white classmates.

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

Opening ceremony of Black Culture Week, 1976.

While Mary Washington had begun attempts at diversifying its student body, the institution still had much room for improvement. In the decades following integration, concerns were raised that the school wasn’t making enough of an effort to recruit people of color. In 1973, almost ten years after desegregation, there were only thirteen black students enrolled. Twenty years after the decision, in 1984, the number of black students had only reached 77. UMW as an institution has certainly made some progress since then, however the conversation around increasing representation and diversity is one that has gone on for decades and continues into the present.

Perhaps one of the most notable moments of black history at Mary Washington occurred with the hiring of Civil Rights leader James Farmer to the History and American Studies department. Farmer’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement were legendary, and from 1985 until his retirement in 1998, students were able to attend his highly sought-after classes to hear his firsthand accounts of his 1961 Freedom Ride and working for racial equality alongside other leaders like Martin Luther King.

James Farmer points from behind a microphone while speaking.

James Farmer addressing the James Farmer Scholars at their first meeting, 1988.

During Farmer’s tenure here, the college began the James Farmer Scholars program. The initiative identified a number of local black seventh-graders and provided tutoring and encouragement through high school toward the goal of pursuing college. Ideally, these student would choose an academic future at Mary Washington, but the program hoped to motivate them toward any college or university path. Admissions also began sponsoring a program called Black Visions in 1989. This program brought several hundred black high school students to the Mary Washington campus for tours and information sessions, allowing them an opportunity to speak with black faculty, current students, and alumni and to gain an understanding of the campus culture.

Campus continued to feel James Farmer’s influence long after his passing. In 2011, UMW held a series of events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides. Part of the celebration included a 1960s bus at the center of an exhibit featuring images and words from the Riders, and four of the original Freedom Riders attended the commemoration. One of them, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, spoke at Commencement in 2011.

In 2016, UMW granted its fourth ever Monroe Medal–the institution’s highest honor–to Gladys White Jordan, a black woman once denied admission to the college because of her race. She grew up the daughter of MWC Chancellor Grellet Simpson’s housekeeper, excelled in school at the all-black Walker-Grant High School, and aspired to attend Mary Washington upon her graduation in 1956. Despite the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954, the Board of Visitors denied her entry to the school. Instead, she attended Virginia State College, where she earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. She would go on to be a lifelong educator, earning recognition as teacher of the year in Richmond (twice) and as an “unsung hero” by the NAACP.

Come visit us in the archives or search for more university publications in Eagle Explorer to learn more about black history at UMW. And for Black History Month events happening on campus today, check out the schedule for the 2018 Black History Month Celebration!

Sources consulted:

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

Crawley, William B., Jr. University of Mary Washington, A Centennial History: 1908-2008. Fredericksburg: University of Mary Washington, 2008.

Estes, Lindley. “UMW Honors Woman It Once Rejected Because of Her Race.” (Fredericksburg, VA.) Free Lance-Star, March 18, 2016. Accessed February 15, 2018,

Honnegger, Susan. “The Negro On Campus.” The Bullet, February 19, 1968.

Parsons, Carolyn Sydnor. “Doors and Minds Begin to Open: Decade of Desegregation.” University of Mary Washington Today 29, no. 1 (Winter 2005): 16-19.

Trenis, Neva S. “Freedom Rides Semester.” University of Mary Washington Magazine 35, no. 1 (Spring 2011): 10-23.

February 15, 2018

Best of 2017: Images from the Digital Archiving Lab

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As 2017 draws to a close, it is a good time to evaluate our digitization projects for the year, taking a look at our successes, challenges, and opportunities. It is also a time when I get to remember the particularly fun and creative scanning set-ups, as well as still shake my head in amazement that I got to work with a book from the 17th century (even after years in this profession, that feeling never wears off!). Furthermore, I have the chance to consider adding a few more items to my “favorites” list that Special Collections and University Archives staff are often asked to discuss!

So, how do I determine my favorite items? Well, I love unique items and digitization challenges! I’ve particularly enjoyed scanning or photographing materials that require a little extra creativity in setting up the camera studio, or some extra processes in the software to emphasize certain aspects of an image.

Here are some of my favorite items that passed through the Digital Archiving Lab this year:

Clothing – Typically, we think of papers and books when the word “archives” is mentioned, but here at UMW, we have many different types of artifacts, in addition to the documents. At the History Harvest this year, we were able to photograph MWC clothing from the 1970s and add those images to our collection. We also photographed an Equestrian Team t-shirt from 2003 that is a part of our physical archive. Aside from creating unique photography studio conditions for each clothing project, it is also interesting to see all of the different designs that have appeared on UMW merchandise!


Photograph of the camera, tripod, and t-shirt set up in the Digital Archiving Lab.

The Digital Archiving Lab turns into a photography studio when digitizing clothing and other artifacts.

Photograph of a grey shirt with the words "Mary Washington Equestrian," a horse jumping, and the year 1918.

The final photograph of the Mary Washington College Equestrian t-shirt.

Scrapbooks – We have a wonderful collection of over 50 scrapbooks in our archive, and I’ve had the opportunity to scan entire books or certain pages throughout the year. I love scrapbooks because the photographs and notes give the reader an individualized look into what campus was like in decades past that you can’t always interpret from official documents or histories. Scrapbooks often require very careful handling for digitization, but being able to provide digital copies of these special pages means that many, many more people will get to see them while the original remains safe and secure in the archive.

Image of a scrapbook page with a photograph of an event at Mary Washington College during World War II, with the caption "The Flag Goes Up!"

Photograph from the Victory Book, detailing events and programs to support the war effort at Mary Washington College during World War II. The Victory Book was won of the first scrapbooks scanned in 2017.

Image of a scrapbook page with five small photographs glued to. Each photograph shows students in daily life activities, such as gardening.

This scrapbook, created by Helen Davenport Smith (Class of 1919), showcased daily life at Mary Washington, which included gardening. The images from this scrapbook are part of our digital collections, courtesy of Joyce Lee Smith, ’58.

Very, very large books – A normal workflow for scanning items from Special Collections and University Archives involves a staff member carefully carrying materials to the Digital Archiving Lab. However, a couple of times this year, we had to use a library cart to transport one book! My favorite aspect of digitizing these large, heavy tomes is photographing the spine; it is always exciting to give patrons a better visualization of how their individually scanned pages fit into the whole book.

Photograph of a chained book.

You might remember reading about chained books from an earlier post. This book not only had a chain for security, but it was quite heavy, too!

Photograph of a large Herball.

Only a few of the pages from this 17th century Herball were digitized, and it was brought over to the Digital Archiving Lab on a cart!

December 8, 2017

WWII Veterans at UMW

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November 11 is Veterans Day. Since its first observation in 1919 (as Armistice Day), Americans have marked the day by honoring and celebrating the service of all our military veterans. In the spirit of the holiday, we wanted to take the opportunity to recognize some veterans from Mary Washington’s earlier student body.

Photograph of veterans casually gathered together on steps. Some are sitting, while others stand and many are chatting.

Veterans on the steps of Trinkle Hall. Image from the Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives.

After World War II ended, many returning veterans sought to go to school on the new GI Bill (officially known as the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944). Colleges and universities all over the country were overwhelmed with young men seeking admission, so to help ease the burden, several women’s colleges allowed for men to enroll. Mary Washington was one such school. In the spring of 1946, Mary Washington College began admitting male students who were eligible for assistance under the GI Bill and who otherwise met the requirements for admission (Alvey 299).

Photograph of three rows of students dressed in suits and ties seated on the steps of Monroe Hall.

Mary Washington College veterans sit on the steps of Monroe Hall. Image from the Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives.

Male veterans admitted at this time weren’t housed on campus, but attended classes and participated in college events and activities with the rest of the student body. Veterans played on a basketball team that competed against other area groups. A Veterans Club formed and was active for several years (photographic evidence seen throughout this post), and there was a veterans’ representative on the Student Council (Crawley 63).

Some wouldn’t last a semester, but between 1946 and 1958, several young men earned their degrees from Mary Washington. Among them was Robert Combs (’48), son of then-president Morgan Combs. The final vet to graduate as part of this cohort was former Marine Dennis Chauncey Moriarty. He earned his BA in Music in 1958 and spent the last two years of his studies as the only male student on campus. The college wouldn’t seek to enroll men again until it became officially coeducational in 1970.

Photograph of students posed together for a group picture.

MWC Veterans Club, circa 1946. Image from the Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives.

We know that many of our students, past and present, served honorably in the armed forces themselves or have family members who served. To all the veterans in the UMW community and beyond: Thank you for your service!

Sources cited:

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

Crawley, William B., Jr. University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History, 1902-2008. University of Mary Washington Foundation, 2008.

November 10, 2017

Homecoming: An Eagle Tradition

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As leaves begin to change and decorations turn to gourds and pumpkins, UMW alumni start planning and looking forward to the annual event that brings many college friends back together: Homecoming. Over the years, events have ranged from parades to alumni sports competition, and each has included members of the UMW community traveling back to Fredericksburg for a fun, memorable event. As you’re looking forward to what this year’s Homecoming will bring (taking place October 20th-21st), take a look at the below photographs pulled from the University Archives to see how Eagles have celebrated Homecoming in the past.

In recent years, a variety of events engaged both current students and alumni:

Page from the 2012 Battlefield Yearbook showcasing Homecoming photographs.

The 2012 yearbook showcased several homecoming events.
Image from the Battlefield, Special Collections and University Archives.

There were many years when parades were popular, including both students and alumni riding on floats:

Photograph of several students driving a float down the road.

Students participating in the 2002 Homecoming Parade. Image from the Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives.

Photograph of alumni riding in a car with a banner that reads "MWC Alumni Welcome the Golden Club."

A group of alumni ride in a car with a banner that reads “MWC Alumni Welcome the Golden Club.”
Image from the Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives.

In other years, alumni participated in athletic events:

Photograph of alumni playing rugby.

At Homecoming in 1995, Alumni took part in a rugby match. Image from the Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives. Photograph by Barry Fitzgerald.

Seemingly most important, though, Homecoming Weekend provides alumni an opportunity to catch up with one another:

Photograph of Alumni outside of Belmont.

Alumni gather outdoors at Belmont in 1973. Image from the Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives.

Photograph of a group of people eating in Seacobeck Dining Hall.

Members of the UMW Community eating in Seacobeck Dining Hall during the 1965 Homecoming Luncheon.
Image from the Centennial Image Collection, Special Collections and University Archives. Photograph by Colony Studios.

Special Collections and University Archives staff wish a wonderful Homecoming Weekend to our fellow Eagle Alums!

October 12, 2017

October is Archives Month

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October is just around the corner, and now our thoughts turn to crisp autumn days, Halloween, and manuscript collections spread about like so many fallen leaves.

That’s right; it’s Archives Month! Archives all over the country are celebrating their treasures, and we’ve got a few things happening in Virginia to help highlight our collections and to bring curious minds deeper into the archives and what it is we do here. This year, since Virginia is also recognizing the 100th anniversary of statewide prohibition, the theme of Virginia Archives Month is “Spirits in the Archives.”

The term “spirits” is, of course, open to interpretation.

And in the “spirit” of the theme, the Virginia Caucus of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) created a contest to inspire creative interaction with some very cool materials contributed from various institutions across the state. REMIX | Spirits in the Archives gives anyone a chance to use your talents to remix these materials in most any way you can imagine!

Create GIFs, redaction poetry, collage, memes, or use any other digital manipulation tricks up your sleeve. You can also interact with the items physically if that’s your bag! Stitch, cut, knit, glue, or whatever you like; just take a photo or scan of your completed creation. Visit the flickr site for the 2017 image submissions, remix your favorite(s), and submit! Full submission guidelines are posted on the contest’s tumblr, where you can also view previous submissions and find more information about the judging and prizes available. The deadline for submission is October 23, and don’t forget to share your work on social media using #archivesremix and #archivespirits.

Good luck to any entrants out there, and in the meantime, we’d be happy to have you haunting our archives!

September 28, 2017

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