Above my writing is a picture of Carl Edward Bailey, Arkansas’s 31st Governor. I have also started a blog for him, at carlebailey.wordpress.com . I am very excited about this because this is the beginning of my thesis project for my Masters Program. Basically, I need to write not only a process paper but create an “exhibit”, which can also be a digital one – such as the WordPress site I am building now. Its a work in progress, but a fantastic one that I am excited to undertake!
In addition to this, I have also learned how to take the files that the archivists have edited (the finding aids, or the papers that you look at which give a brief description of the documents that are stored in a specific place) and how to update the systems so that they can read the edits. I think I’ve explained this before, but just in case…say you want to study the 1930s and you have a list of names of people who you can look up. You come to the Arkansas Studies Institute building and talk to the person behind the desk and request a certain collection: lets say Carl Bailey! They will produce a finding aid, which lays out the collection to you. This is because many of these collections are HUGE, over 30 boxes or so. To dig through each box and each folder would take forever. But you can look through the finding aid and narrow down your search. So, when the archivists find a mistake in the typing or add new boxes or documents that are donated after the initial donation, they go in and edit the finding aid. The problem is that there are two different types of software that the finding aids need to be ready for, so this is where I step in. I go and edit them twice, once through something calling ArchiveGrid, where I just change a few structural XML files so that it can be read by the software; the other change is with Ark-Cat, where I basically click a certain button that allows the document to suppress components when marked internally. Pretty neat stuff! Think of it like this: you know when you sometimes find a fancy font and you make a beautiful document only to send it to a friend and it looks like Egyptian hieroglyphics? That’s because, though your software program on your computer can read and handle that fancy font, your friends computer may not have the same type of program so she cannot. I have now made those documents compatible with the system that your friend would have, nothing fancy, basic and to the point.
So far, I have: 1. Digitized eight oral histories from the 1930s; 2. updated the Facebook backlog from last May to this May; 3. Made MP4 copies of the ENTIRE Rockefeller DVD collection; 4. Updated the system for ArchiveGrid and Ark-Cat; 5. Started on the Carl Bailey collection and 5. Scanned picture and created a short description for the Life Interrupted Virtual Exhibit. I have a few more things to do (whew!) such as Digitize the Public History Seminar and help upload pictures for the Foodways project (the one that I did the time line for!) and learn how to use born-digital materials. I am really hoping we have some time to learn coding, since I am pretty excited to expand my knowledge in that direction as well. So, its been a productive summer!
Check back next week for another update! I have, including the rest of this week, three weeks left of my internship before the fall semester starts.