July 2017 Archives

Throw Back Thursday

While walking through Target this week, I got the faintest hint of harsh reality. Target had taken their patio section and transformed it into their back to school section. this yearly ritual can strike fear into any kid who would rather have summer last forever. As for me this reminded me of my college days at the University of California Riverside, which were filled with hard work, embarrassing moments, and memories I will cherish for life. With that said I do admit to having some strong UCR pride.

In 1978 UCR hosted the annual winter meeting for the Souther California Chapter of the American Musicological Society (AMS), and Jackson was a chairman of the society. When going through his papers I came across a black and white flier which provided driving directions and a campus map of UCR, where the meeting was to take place. If you notice on the directions the 210 freeway does not exist past the 57.

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When you compare the 1978 campus map to a current campus map, it shows just how much the university has grown in the past 40 years. It was interesting to see just how old some of the buildings and classrooms are. According to the newsletter, the AMS had their meeting in the humanities building, which is the same building I had most of the classes in. It is also the building where the top of my desk broke off during my final. It is mind-blowing for me to think about the people who walked the halls of UCR before me, and those whose are currently there. It is interesting to think how every student from the past, present, and future, whether they know it or not, will leave a mark.

There Will Be Map

This week it was back to basics as I digitized a 1923 F. C. Finkle document, "Report on the hydrology and hydrography of Temecula Creek and Santa Margarita River, San Diego and Riverside Counties, California." All the old favorites are here:




Reference photos!


A big map of the Temecula Creek and Santa Margarita River drainage basin!


Discharge tables!

And so on. That's about all the time I have. Next week may involve a field trip... or a post about image cropping? I dunno. Either way, see you then!

More Metadata and a Watery Trip to LA

Hello readers! This week I've worked on collecting more metadata, and I have unfortunately run out of meta jokes. Dry your tears however, because next week the CCEPS fellows may be going on a field trip! We might be visiting the Metropolitan Water District in LA and getting a tour of the exhibits at the district, including "Turning on the Tap: 75 Years of Water Delivery to Southern California," and "From the Archives Reaching for Water - Rex Brandt and Metropolitan." We may also learn more about a recent Twitter campaign carried out by MWD about the stories of individuals who were involved in the Colorado River Aqueduct. I'm looking forward to hearing about things that I've spent the last two months reading pieces of, and getting a better idea of how Southern California's water history is shaping its current and future access to water. Stay dry out there - there are light showers this week, and the water is coming for you.

Dazed and Confused

Update 1: The Case of the Missing Box 9


On July 17th box 9 successfully rescued. Box 9 secretly kidnapped by a collection of Craven playbills and was given a new identity as box 14! Early Monday morning, the archival police were able to track down his last known whereabouts and uncovered clues that lead to the recovery and rescue of box 9. I am happy to report that box 9 is in good condition and has been returned to the Jackson family. 


In other words, box 9 was accidentally labeled as box 14 of the Craven Playbill Collection and went into storage with the wrong collection. But it sounds more edgy when described as a kidnapping mystery.


And with that my friends, the case of the missing box 9 is officially closed! 


Update 2: Ethics and Legal

The hardest part of this week was doing research into whether I needed to take steps toward protecting the names of those mentioned within the legal papers. With the help and guidance from professor Gabriele Carey, I learned a lot about the issues and concerns that go along with sensitive and private records.


I learned that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires all schools receiving federal funding to protect the privacy of student educational records. However, the records in the collection discuss a lawsuit and are technically not considered educational records, and are not protected under FERPA. However, if the lawsuit deals with unfair grading practices, or harassment of students by their professor, or unfair/false evaluations/references, these papers might fall under FERPA.


Another issue is whether the records are confidential or not.

Since the lawsuit was settled out of court, the parties may have agreed not to disclose information about the lawsuit or its settlement as part of the settlement agreement. These letters and records within the Jackson collection might fall under the protection of the settlement agreement if they agreed to protect the records dealing with the lawsuit. 

Confusing right?


To be continued...

I, For One, Welcome Our New Metadata Overlords

Hello all!


For this week, I'll be talking about metadata again and some personal reflections now that I've completed over fifty inputs. Last week, I discussed how putting together metadata requires a balance between being efficient and concise but specific enough. Defining the subject terms for items sometimes is easy. I find that if the item I'm creating metadata for is particularly interesting, it's easier to scan through the document and extract terms that can be searched within the Library of Congress authorities (subject headings, names, titles). Thinking about controlled vocabulary has taken over my life.


Sometimes, however, it's not easy sifting through these documents, simply because I am not familiar with the contents within them. I have a familiarity with the topics in the California Water Documents, but I do come across topics I am nowhere near an expert on. Today, I needed to create metadata for an item called "An Irritant in the Arizona-California Controversy" by Rex Hardy, a Los Angeles city attorney (1947). In this document, he discusses water problems between Arizona and California in regards to the two states legal relationship. Beyond this, I am not familiar with legal terminology and laws in addition to being unfamiliar with water infrastructure. Even though I struggle understanding this document, I still have to create proper metadata. I may not be able to parse through the content of this document, but others in the future will need to be able to find and know if this document is relevant to their research interests. It sounds like an easy task on paper, but doing it yourself, finding the correct controlled vocabulary within the authorities is much more time consuming than I expected. Don't get me started on making sure I pick the correct name when it comes to LOC authorities (especially when the document only gives you first/middle initials and then a last name). It's a good thing we can create our own terms, sometimes!


So, this has been a humbling experience, learning how to put together metadata. There is still much more to learn about it, such as actually uploading the documents. We will be learning more about GIS and geospatial metadata next week, so stay tuned. I'll also have to go through and make sure there are no errors within my metadata.


I thought I could pretty much tackle anything this work could throw my way, but metadata is a challenge, one I didn't expect. I admire my fellow workers here at CCEPs and previous workers who have had to adjust to this learning curve.

It takes time, but the knowledge gained is valuable!

Camera Room III: World of Camera Room

The scanning of Willis Jones field notes, Box 7, reached its thrilling conclusion with a return to the camera room. There, I photographed a graph from 1910 with a label I couldn't decipher:



And a map of Chino:


The white lots denote property of Chino Land & Water Co., and the orange lots are sold.

And that about does it for scanning Box 7. Now to crop the images, which should be a relatively swift process. At least I hope it's swift, otherwise that's going to be the subject of a terrible blog entry, and I'm running out of gimmick titles. Like "A Bountiful Crop," or "Crop Circles." No, wait! "Crop Rectangles," because the scans are rectangular, see. Maybe "Killer Crop," the dreaded Batman villain who's really into re-sizing images?  

In the meantime, one more newspaper clip from the 1938 flood, because why not:


Puppets and Growling

Hello! This week I've been busy collecting more metadata, and I've come across some very interesting lines in the documents I've been looking at. Both letters are from C.N. Perry to H.T. Cory, and Perry has quite the flair for poetic language and a dry wit (pun very much intended). In the first letter Perry tells Cory how he was unaware of the business dealings in the Los Angeles office, and how Cory's letter made him aware of the "whole scheme." Perry clarifies that he doesn't mean the "actual dirt moving and structure building," which he has a "vivid recollection" of, but another kind of dirt about the "inside workings" in Los Angeles which altered what was happening on the ground. In a moment of admirable symbolism production, Perry says that "the real strings, which, when pulled, made us puppets dance." Poetic, deep, and just a little angry at the business institutions which have so much control over projects on the ground. Perry's anger is once again expressed, when he ends his next letter to Cory with the statement "I will refrain from indulging my propensity for growling," though the growling is not directed at Cory but at the lack of attention he feels is being expressed about conditions at the Alamo Channel. Be free, Perry, and growl away. 

That's So Meta

Congratulations on reaching Thursday readers! This week I learned how to collect metadata. "That's so meta," you may be murmuring, and you would be correct. Metadata is data on data - how's that for being meta? Metadata is important because it gives us information about the data that makes the documents we've digitized more accessible and easier for researchers to sort through. To collect metadata, we look at each document and record certain pieces of information about it, including its title, a brief description of its content, its contributors, recipients, the language it is in, and the dates referenced in the document. We also include the subject for each document, words that capture what the document describes and includes, like "dams" or "floods." This way researchers who are interested in floods, for example, will have a much easier time finding the document than if it didn't include that subject. Since I started the process this week I still have a long way to go before getting through all the documents, but it will happen, drop by drop, trickle by trickle. 

The Flood of 1938


Hi folks! This week I took a detour from field note scanning to digitize a bound collection of 1938 newspaper clippings. Or, as it is concisely titled:   

"Flood, March 1938 : newspaper clippings from Anaheim, Azusa, Brea, Chino, Claremont, Corona, El Monte, Glendora, Hollywood, North Hollywood, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Monrovia, Ontario, Orange, Pasadena, Pomona, Redlands, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Ana, Santa Monica, Torrance, Tujunga, Upland ; with photos. of San Antonio Creek and the Claremont area"

The volume contains articles detailing a flood that devastated the Inland Empire in March 1938. For the most part the stories are what you'd expect from newspapers reporting major natural disasters: government response, relief efforts, property damage, lives lost, rabbits...


The clippings touch on a striking variety of ways in which daily life was impacted by the flood. Pieces abound stressing the importance of boiling water so it's safe to drink. There's a lost and found notice about a heifer. Advice about caring for wet rugs...


...And grand pianos:


A report about a public library whose children's department suffered "only" a fifth of its books being soaked:


The Denison library of Scripps College was less fortunate:


Scattered among the bigger stories are vignettes painting a vivid picture of the flood:


I'll close by sharing a piece by Dorothy Doyle, because there's really no other way to close this. See you next time!


Go Back and Look At It Again

Hello all!


During my time here at CCEPS, I have come across several documents that have been of interest to me. Today, I would like to share more about one of my favorite documents that has taught me about an event in southern Californian history that I didn't know about until yesterday. While working on metadata for the Imperial Valley Records items I have scanned, I revisited the following document: "Letter to N. W. Stowell of California Development Company from Thos. L. Woolwine." Stowell inquired with Woolwine about representation in the case of California Development Company vs. the Imperial Land Company. To better understand what this court case was talking about, I did a little research.


In previous posts, I have talked about the Salton Sea in relation to the development of the All-American Canal in the Imperial Valley. This canal was not, however, the first in the region. At the turn of the century, the California Development Company (previously known as the Colorado River Irrigation Company) built the Alamo/Imperial Canal, which was to irrigate and provide water for the farming communities in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys by diverting water from the Colorado River. The Salton Sink area (what we know now as the Salton Sea) was fertile for a short time. After heavy rains caused the Colorado River to overflow, this higher influx of water brought more silt through the Imperial Canal and caused blockage. This blockage led to dikes breaking, canals overflowing, and an infrastructure disaster that completely altered the course of history for the Imperial and Coachella Valleys. Massive flooding destroyed farms, submerged a town, and changed the environmental face of the Salton area. The silt from the Colorado River poured into the Salton Sink area and eventually formed what we now call the Salton Sea. The California Development Company faced several lawsuits from farmers and other land companies in the area and eventually went bankrupt. In 1911, the Imperial Irrigation District formed through a collective of farmers and local citizens, and from this year forward, this organization managed the development of water infrastructure in the area. With the context of this incident in mind, this helps explain some of the fears facilitating the creation of the All-American Canal. The aggressive advertising, including xenophobia against Mexico, and calls to rally around the support of the financing bills in Congress have a historical context with this in mind. Citizens of the Imperial and Coachella Valleys needed water, but they needed the canal to be built to combat flooding.


The documents tell a story, especially when placed in conversation with each other. By digitizing these documents, hopefully other archives patrons will be able to read through the documents I have had the pleasure of looking over while digitizing.


Poland 1981

Whenever I tell people I am pursuing a masters degree in History and Archival Studies, the conservation always shoots right past the front half of my degree only to arrive at same three questions everyone asks me about archiving.

Questions 1: What is Archival Studies?

Question 2: What does an archivist do?

Question 3: Why do you even want to be an archivist?

These are all great questions, but for the sake of time I will only address the last question and highlight one of the reasons why I want to be an archivist.


One reason comes from something I like to call "the find," it is a discovery that is always unexpected (and not to mention totally awesome). When I was first given the Roland Jackson Papers, I was told the collection had materials related to Roland's career as an educator. However, no matter how prepared one is to process a collection, you never know what you might "find". Despite having an idea of what the collection contained, I found something unexpected and interesting.


When doing the survey, I came across a letter written in 1981 to Jackson from a man he met in Poland. His name was Wojciech J. Kowalczyk and the letter is asking for help in going to the United States. After doing to a quick internet search, I discovered that the letter was written during a period of economic turmoil within Poland and right before the introduction of martial law. Kowalczyk was one of many Poles trying to emigrate to the west. Roland and Kowalczyk wrote to each other a few more times, but it is unclear if Kowalczyk ever made it out of Poland.

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These unexpected finds are one of the reasons I want to become an archivist. History to me has not always been about just knowing the who, what, when, where and why, but knowing the how. I always want to know how certain events and experiences influenced the actions, opinions, and emotions of those living through it. Letters like the ones between Jackson and Kowalczyk give insight into how Kowalczyk and Jackson's opinions, actions, and emotions were affected by Poland's economic crisis and martial law. There are even letters written by Roland to a colleague asking for help to bring Kowalczyk to the United States. These types of finds are what I enjoy about being an archivist. 

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Archival Ethics and Box 9

I have finally completed the extensive task of conducting my first solo survey (WHOOOOO!). My overall feelings and impressions of conducting a survey left me conflicted and struggling to find balance. 

During the survey, I was struggling with the desire be very meticulous with each box and move quickly through the collection. Nonetheless, there were many occasions where I got caught up in reading letters Jackson wrote and received from colleagues, relatives, and friends. There will always be a need to find the perfect balance between being detailed and efficient.

As an archivist, there are core values and ethics that every archivist needs to be aware of. During processing an archivist must be thorough and aware of protecting the rights, personal, and confidential information of those individuals and organizations mentioned within a collection. While going through the collection I did uncover legal material which contained the names of the individuals involved. As a result, these names may need to be protected. I will attempt to follow up on this topic later down the line.

Another issue I discovered with conducting the survey was when I came across box 9. According to the container list, box 9 was supposed to contain correspondences from May 2003 to July 2004. However, the box contained material from an entirely different collection, the Craven Playbill Collection. I did not panic and I was hopeful I would find the letters within another box. Sadly, I have yet to find them and the case of the missing letters remains a mystery. 

Adventures in Book Scanning

Happy Friday! This week I learned how to use a new piece of equipment - the book scanner. The reason we had to use the book scanner was that one of the documents had pages that were bound to each other with a string of sorts, and may also have been glued together, and taking the pages apart might have damaged them. This is where the book scanner comes in - the magical device scans books from above, so unlike a regular scanner, the pages don't have to be pressed between the device to be scanned. The book can be laid out normally, as if it's being read, and the scanner basically takes a picture of it from the top that's then transferred to the computer. I was surprised at how mostly simple it is to use, and even more surprised that using it seems to be faster than using the regular scanner. The only step that's been harder than the regular scanner so far has been having to redraw the cropping window for each page, but that's pretty minor. Look how good of a job it does! Happy weekend, and as always, drink your water.


Metadata Mania

Hello again all!


This week I have started working on metadata, which as some of my coworkers have explained in the past, refers to subject terms and descriptive information about the digitized items. Metadata is important in digital archives because it allows patrons to find what they're looking for with relative ease! Without metadata, users would have to spend more time looking for primary sources relevant to their research topic. Some items might be overlooked because they are too obscure or simply become lost in the oversaturation of items.


As this is my first day working on metadata, I am rather slow at putting all of the information into an excel spreadsheet. As time passes and I become more familiar with the Library of Congress subject headings that are relevant to the California Water Documents Collection, I suspect I will be able to complete the metadata faster.


One step I am looking forward to with the metadata process is working with geospatial information. We will eventually be working with the library's resident GIS experts in order to input geographical information into the metadata. First, we plan on filtering the documents through text mining software to pull out geographic information. Whenever a document cites a location such as the Salton Sea, the text mining software will add that to a pool of locations, which we can then translate into latitude and longitude coordinates. From there, researchers will be able to use the metadata we provide in order to make maps with GIS.   


I am happy to begin learning more about the next phase of the digitization process with these water documents. As a researcher myself, I know how important it is to find everything relevant to a research topic--you do not want to be told you missed something that could have been helpful. Thus, as I create the metadata, my goal is to be as thorough as possible while also still being efficient.


Until next time!

Camera Room 2: Camera Room Harder

camera4.jpgHi folks! This week I made a brief visit to the fabled camera room to photograph a centerline profile. No tripod this time, however. The graph paper's attached to a field notebook and thus too heavy to prop up on a magnetic whiteboard, so I used an overhead rig.