Everything is coming together…


It has been quite awhile since my last post. Between Spring Break and personally presenting a paper in Texas for a Phi Alpha Theta conference, I have been a busy woman! I am happy to update everyone on a few things since my last post.

For starters, I know last time I wrote Colin, the senior archivists I am working with at the UALR CAHC, and I went to the Mosaic Templar Cultural Center’s offsite location to be introduced to the second half of the Mary Lee Harris Collection. It was AMAZING! They have many artifacts that tell the story of this wonderful woman and her family. The one thing I found and was most interested in was a small box that contained many documents – newspapers, letters and photos. I also found current day correspondence between different people who were associated with first procuring these artifacts and document to be stored for future researchers. I was fortunate enough to go back on my own the following week to dig through this particular box to locate more detailed information and make copies of the lovely photos that now bring a face to not only Mary Lee Harris, but various family members as well.

Its interesting to see the history of this women and how her life came to my desk. Luckily, the rest of the answers are starting to come together. Between an essay written about her life and the artifacts, the collection that is stored at the Mosaic Templar Cultural Center and the papers I currently possess, we can piece together a basic understanding of her life. Mary Lee Harris, born in 1912, married at age 15 to a man who she later separated from but never divorced, who lived with her grandmother for a short period of time and then her mother and step-father until they all passed away – these details are now available for the public. Well…they will be once I finish my finding aid! Speaking of which, my first draft has been turned in and I am finalizing the changes as we speak. In the next few weeks I will start giving you a more detailed look at Mary Lee Harris and the progression I took to find her life story. Check back later!


Mary Lee Harris

Mary Lee Harris

Finally, I can put a face to the name of the woman who’s donated papers I am processing! This great discovery not only produced a picture of Mary Lee Harris, but of her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother as well. In addition, it has opened up the doors for Colin, a fellow archivists, and I go to explore the rest of the collection at the Mosaic Templar’s Cultural Center. Next week we have the honor of visiting with the members of this center and hopefully learn something new that we could not discover with the collection given to us! You can view their site here: http://www.mosaictemplarscenter.com/

At the end of last week I finished editing my first draft of the Life Interrupted interview that I was given and will have my second draft sometime after Spring Break. I also have finished processing the Mary Lee Harris Papers and sent the draft in to the archivists and am awaiting their response. My last goal before Spring Break is to be halfway done digitizing the Scott Collection. I think I can achieve this and be on my way to finalizing many of my projects by the end of April!

The great thing about this graduate assistance is not only the support team that surrounds me – from the digital team to the archivists to my fellow GA – but also the things that I am doing that are resume worthy. I will be able to say I have processed a collection and that I am able to edit a video to be put online. I can also say that I know the basics of a webpage, like this one, and I personally hope to expand on this in the future.

All in all its been a good halfway point and I look forward to continuing full force when I come back! Have a great week!

The Wonderful World of Metadata

Welcome back to another exciting addition of: Metadata!

Last time I posted about metadata I gave a brief description of what metadata actually is (basically, data about data. A specific description of the data you are putting up for viewing on the web) as well as information about XML (eXtensible Markup Language) EAD (Encoded Arvhical Descriptions) and DTD (Document Type Definition) – and how they all pertain to my job and what I am slowly learning.

As I dive into this world, one important tool that I have begun to use much more frequently is Dublin Core. Dublin Core is basically a way for people like me in my line of work to describe an image/move/collection/etc so that you can easily search for it and find it online. For example: If I was to put an image that I took of a Civil War battlefield here in Arkansas, would you search for “Nicolette Lloyd’s pictures” to find this image? Probably not. You may not know me and unless you knew that I took this picture, you probably would be searching for “Civil War Battlefields” or “Battlefields” or even just “Arkansas”. You may know specifics like “1862, March” or even specific names and locations, all which narrow down your search. You would not be able to find this image, however, if I didn’t put the correct identifiers for the search engines (like Google) you may use to find this image. Dublin Core is made up of 15 elements (Theme, Subject, Date, etc…) that improve document indexing and expand the catalog information for search engine programs. May seem complicated, but Dublin Core is actually pretty easy, as long as you use the mindset that someone who may not be familiar with the terms that you personally are familiar with is going to be searching for this item.

Test Example: Here is a link to my personal Omeka site (which is a site that uses Dublin Core – its a great site to put up a quick exhibit and showcase items of any kind in a collection for the world to view online) which is a work in progress.


If you click on any image in the site you will see the picture, and below that you will see the element boxes that have been filled out specific to the data. An important thing to remember with Dublin Core is to remain CONSISTENT. I decided to set “date” as the date that I took the picture. It is not recommended to change “date” to the date of the battle, for instance, midway through the list of items. If you want the date to be the date of the battle, no problem. Keep it that way from beginning to end, however. Little things like this need to be addressed so that you tell the entire story every time you put something online in Dublin Core format.

I have found that there are a few elements that are difficult for me to fill in, and you will see that all 15 of the element boxes are not represented with my personal site. Maybe there is no specific answer or term that can be placed in those boxes – or maybe I haven’t found the professional way of addressing them. Either way, its better to leave them blank than to put something that could confuse the process in these boxes.

Metadata may seem like a difficult and strange world, but the more experience I get in this field and better I feel about the shift into the digital world for archives and museums.

Next week I should be finishing up my Life Interrupted editing, so hopefully I can get that going and eventually posted on the UALR CAHC YouTube account and then here on this blog! Stay tuned…

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