The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Archive
- Mark your calendars, Fall 2015 - The Smithsonian hopes to open the Arts and Industries Building to host special events. [via Washington Post]
- The American Library Association released their State of America's Libraries Report for 2014. [via InfoDocket]
- New technology embraced in the past leads to unitended consequences as paintings conservator, Dawn Rogala, discovers that the cause of cracks in some mid-century paintings was the result of artists' use of newly available at the time commercial paints in their works. [via The Torch, SI]
- Getting dirty - April is National Garden Month and the Smithsonian Gardens has a website, Community of Gardens, that hopes to serve as place for people to share their stories about their gardens. [via Smtihsonian Gardens blog]
- The Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature debuted on Library of Congress website this week. [via InfoDocket]
- An important question: "Where is my flying car?" gets answered for the time being as the dream is still very much alive. [via AirSpace blog, NASM]
- The Papers of Abraham Lincoln project to identify, image, transcribe, annotate, and publish all documents written by or to Abraham Lincoln during his lifetime; [via InfoDocket]
- The journey of digital collections from donor to repository as told by the Library of Congress. [via The Signal: Digital Preservation, LC]
- In case you haven't visited your local public library lately, hopefully the video below will inspire you to check it out! [via InfoDocket]
On exhibiton from September 26, 1997 to January 4, 1998, Mathew Brady's Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery displays the work of Brady, not his well known photo documentation of the Civil War, but rather covers the most productive years of his career, starting with his emergence in 1844 as a daguerreotypist in New York.
What stood out to me design wise, was that the brochure for the exhibition was styled as a gazette or newspaper from the mid-19th century which lended a bit of whimsy and helped to transport exhibition visitors to the time period.
- Mathew Brady materials at the Smithsonian Institution
On Friday, April 14, 1865, as the Civil War was drawing to a close, Joseph Henry left Washington with his daughter, Helen, and headed to New York City to inspect a fog signal under consideration by the United States Light-House Board. Leaving Helen in Princeton, New Jersey, where the Henry family had lived before Henry became Secretary of the Smithsonian in 1846, he continued to the city. After arriving at the Astor Hotel around 10 pm, Henry had a late supper, wrote a letter to his wife, and went downstairs to put his letter in the mailbox before going to bed.
While he was downstairs, he overheard a man who had just returned from the telegraph office with a report that President Lincoln had been shot. Although Henry later wrote that "the news was at first considered a hoax," [Marc Rothenberg et al., eds., The Papers of Joseph Henry (Science History Publications, 2004), v. 10, p. 498] he feared its "correctness, at least in part,"  and it was soon confirmed by others. Henry went to bed but was unable to sleep. Around 6 am the next morning, he asked someone passing by in the hall for the latest news from Washington and was told that the president was dying. Lincoln died at 7:22 that morning.
Before leaving the city later that day, Henry noticed that it "was in a state of intense excitement on account of the death of the President. Large bodies of men were seen gathering in squads at various points and fears were intertained that there would be outbreaks of popular feeling" [The Papers of Joseph Henry, v. 10, p. 499]. He completed his business and proceeded to Philadelphia where he attended church on Sunday and spent Monday conducting business involving Smithsonian publications. He found that city "much excited and popular feeling strongly against the south" [The Papers of Joseph Henry, v. 10, p. 499]. On Tuesday, April 18, he hurried back to Washington, arriving at his home in the Smithsonian Institution Building around 7 pm. There he found a letter from the Secretary of the Treasury asking whether Smithsonian officials would attend Lincoln's funeral. He replied immediately that they would [[The Papers of Joseph Henry, v. 10, p. 503].
The next day, Henry attended the funeral ceremony in the East Room of the White House with Assistant Secretary Spencer F. Baird and Smithsonian Treasurer William Winston Seaton. Although stands had been erected so that the six hundred attendees crowded into the room could see as well as hear, Henry thought the service should have been conducted in the rotunda of the Capitol to accommodate more people. Following the ceremony, Henry, Baird, and Seaton shared an open carriage in a massive funeral procession of some 40,000 people from the White House to the Capitol. Eight days later, Henry wrote to his friend and mentor, Alexander Dallas Bache:
On the day of the funeral more persons were assembled on the streets of Washington than was ever seen before in this city. All business was suspended and every countenance wore an expression of sadness. Mr. Lincoln had been constantly increasing in popularity, from the time of his reelection until the day of his death. His peculiar fitness for bringing the war to a successful termination was felt by all and the shock produced by his death cannot be described. [The Papers of Joseph Henry, v. 10, p. 509]
To his daughter Helen, Henry wrote:
As to his successor I can as yet say nothing, but I most sincerely pray that the mantle of Lincoln may fall upon him, that he may be imbued with the same honesty of purpose, the same kindness of heart, and the same moderation and prudence of action. [The Papers of Joseph Henry, v. 10, p. 504]
Although Henry had entertained doubts about Lincoln when he was first elected in 1860, he had gotten to know him well while serving as one of his science advisers during the war. By the time of Lincoln's assassination, Henry had come to admire and respect him and believed that only the president would be able to heal the divided nation. Henry mourned both his personal loss and that of the country.
- Joseph Henry: A Life in Science - Civil War, online exhibition, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- "Interruptions and Embarrassments": The Smithsonian during the Civil War, by Kathleen W. Dorman
- The Papers of Joseph Henry
For this next installment of Miscellaneous Adventures, you voted to open Record Unit 50 – Office of the Secretary, Records, 1949-1964, Box 26, Folder Awards - Miscellaneous, 1928-1958. As the title suggests, this is a folder of correspondence with regards to awards given out from 1928 to 1958 that did not fall into any other award category in this collection.
The very first letter in this folder caught my eye instantly. It was a suggestion submitted on September 20, 1951, to the Efficiency Awards Committee for a possible award to be given to Mr. W. C. Hamer, Chief of the Cabinet Shop. Six months earlier, Mr. Hamer had received a request for 5,000 marking blocks with tin label holders from the Division of Mollusks. This type of marking block had been requested and produced in the past, but this time Mr. Hamer suggested eliminating the tin label holder and cutting a groove in the block to hold the label instead. The approved design resulted in a cost savings of almost $350, mainly because of the significantly reduced amount of labor required to create the new marking blocks. If the submission was approved, Mr. Hamer would be eligible to receive a small monetary award.
Also contained in this folder is correspondence relating to awards that were not given out. For instance, there is a letter from Secretary Leonard Carmichael to Mr. H. M. Trent, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Engineering Award, providing a response to Mr. Trent's request for a candidate from the Smithsonian for the award. In Secretary Carmichael's letter he states that the Smithsonian does not have a suitable candidate to submit for the 1955 Engineering Award, but that there is an individual who might make a good candidate in the next three or four years. The notes attached to the response state that the prospective candidate had not yet published a paper in the engineering field, and therefore he would not have a good chance of winning the award so Secretary Carmichael decided to delay his submission until the candidate was ready.
The last set of material pertains to the establishment by Congress of the Medal for Distinguished Civilian Achievement. The folder contains a draft of the bill "incorporating recommendations agreed to by the Committee on Civilian National Honors." The medal was to be given to people who had outstanding accomplishments in the fields of public affairs, social betterment, health and medicine, arts, law, and agriculture, among others. The bill also contained a section to establish a board of five members who would recommend up to five people to the President of the United States who met the designated criteria for the reward. After going through revisions, the bill was voted upon favorably by the House of Representatives and passed on to the Senate in July 1958.
- Vote Folder A for Accession 91-176 - John J. Wurdack Papers, c. 1949-1986, Box 1, Folder Miscellaneous, 1965
- Vote Folder B for Accession 02-027 - Freer Gallery of Art Superintendent of Construction, Correspondence, 1913-1936, Box 1, Folders Letters Regarding Miscellaneous Jobs, 1920-1934
- Past Miscellaneous Adventures posts, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
Archive-It 5.0 Changes and New Features
As a web preservation intern at the Smithsonian Institution Archives, I capture and preserve the Smithsonian’s web presence using the Archive-It crawling service. In October 2014, Archive-It released Phase 1 of Archive-It 5.0, which featured the roll-out of a new interface and more robust data collection for post-crawl reports. Currently the service allows users to switch between the 4.9 and 5.0 versions. Archive-It offers ten new features for reports, which include quick text box filter, infographics, the ability to add notes, and the option to compare two crawl reports side by side. The reports generated by web crawls play a large part in the Archives’ web collection packages and quality assurance (QA), so the changes between versions 4.9 and 5.0 are important for us to understand as we attempt to preserve the record of the ephemeral web.
Version 4.9 Crawl Report
Version 5.0 Crawl Report
Archive-It One-Time IDs
The snapshots above were taken of the same crawl report, one in 4.9 and the other in 5.0. The new format and interface are not the only differences. The one-time IDs (identifiers) are different. For this crawl version 4.9 was assigned 20150320165024358, and version 5.0 was assigned 149112. While the Archives does not fully rely on these numbers as identifiers for crawls, they are attached to the file name when a summary/overview report and the WARC files are downloaded for our collections. Currently, the ability to switch back and forth between 4.9 and 5.0 makes this issue moot, but once this capability is removed those reports and WARC files downloaded with the 4.9 ID will be more difficult to locate and identify in the new Archive-It reports. Archive-It does not mention this change on the Wikis it has provided regarding the roll-out of 5.0. This change could be problematic for those organizations who use these IDs to identify crawls.
Report Summary Data
Part of our web collection packages include downloading the host data and the report summary from the post-crawl report. The host download provides the URLs that were archived from each host as well as other information such as new data, documents blocked by robots.txt, and out-of-scope documents. When switching between 4.9 and 5.0, the only change is the interface and the ability to browse hosts by seed for more robust data.
When viewing 5.0, the report summary is now called an overview but with the same type of data. However, I noticed a few discrepancies. The data is not consistent when switching between the two versions. The snapshots of the same crawl above show different numbers for the Total Documents Archived. Version 4.9 archived 12,440 documents while version 5.0 archived 12,386 documents. It is unclear why the data is different when switching between the two versions.
New Features Overall
The interface of the 5.0 reports page is an improvement. The one-time IDs are now visible, however the collection name is cut off if the collections name is too long, requiring users to hover over the name to see it in its entirety. The reports page quick text box filter is a helpful feature. The search function is more flexible than 4.9, which only allowed searches by collection name or date.
The new view feature provides users with a link from the reports page directly to the Wayback Machine to view the URL without having to navigate to this resource through the access tab. This feature can help improve our quality assurance (QA) workflow. QA involves ensuring our crawl and capture of the site accurately represents what the website displayed at the time of the crawl. Wayback allows us to view the crawl results visually in website form unlike the reports and hosts which provide numerical data about the crawl.
Overall, the 5.0 features are an improvement on this service, which is an important tool for archiving the record of the Smithsonian today.
- 1 of 105
- next ›