November 2017 Archives


The semester is almost over and there's a lot to do before it ends. As a student I have been busy working on wrapping up coursework and writing final papers. But as a CLIR CCEPS Fellow I have also been working on a culminating project for the semester.

Next Wednesday, December 6, I will be doing a presentation about my experiences along with the rest of the CLIR CCEPS Fellows. Each person will speak on a different topic that interests them and directly relates to their time here at special collections working on the CLIR Water documents. The event will be held at 2pm in the library's Founders Room.

At first I was overwhelmed with the idea of presenting my thoughts on the project to digitize this huge collection of documents relating to water resources in Southern California. Even though I have been here almost an entire semester, at times I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of the collection. However, in thinking more about the upcoming presentations I have realized I have a wealth of thoughts and ideas about the project.

I won't tell you what my topic is yet though! No spoilers! But if you want to come you can always check out the Facebook event here:


Since it is Thanksgiving week I thought I would talk about the things I am thankful for as a CLIR CCEPS Fellow.

1. Tanya, the Special Collections CLIR Digital Project Manager: Tanya is the driving force of the CLIR Water Project. She uses her knowledge and expertise to guide the CLIR CCEPS fellows. Without her, the project would not be possible. I am thankful for her because she has taught me an immense amount about archives, libraries, and special collections.


2. The Other CLIR CCEPS Fellows: I could not tackle the task of digitizing and uploading this collection by myself. The other CLIR CCEPS Fellows are similarly dedicated to making this collection of water documents accessible on the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. I am thankful for them because of their hard work as we work together to complete this project.


3. The Special Collections and Claremont Colleges Library Staff: The staff here is always friendly and ready to help me with any issue I may have. I am thankful for them because as a student and as a worker they are always able to share knowledge and insight.


4. Podcasts: Whenever I am working on the more monotonous tasks, like scanning a large document, I like to listen to podcasts. They keep my brain busy while I do less exciting tasks so I never get bored at work. I am thankful for podcasts because they keep me entertained.


5. Technology: I've already talked about technology in a previous blog post, but it is so vital to what we do here. I am thankful for technology because it makes my life easier.


6. The People of the Past: Where would we be without the people of the past? We could not do research about water resources in Southern California if the people in this area had not written letters, drawn maps, created documents, completed reports, or recorded any of the material that we now possess. I am thankful for the people of the past for documenting their lives and activities so that we could learn about them today.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Getting started with the CLIR Water Project

Hello, fellow followers of the water history of Southern California!

I'm Aalia, a freshman at Pomona College, and I recently joined the CLIR Water team here at good old Honnold-Mudd library. During my first two weeks, I have been working with Book 1 of the Chaffey letters. I checked the scans of the original letters against their transcripts to make sure the files were paired together correctly, then filled in some of their metadata in the Excel spreadsheet tracker.

As we know, there are hundreds of these letters, so I didn't really get to read each one- if I had, I'd be working on that same task right now, and for the next several days! But I did get to skim a lot of the documents, and it was fascinating to get a glimpse into a different era and its form of communication. My freshman critical inquiry course this semester revolves around letters and the role they play in our lives and societies, so I've been thinking about the purpose, context, and form of various letters for the past couple months. Applying this thought process to the Chaffey brothers' correspondences has made me observant of the particular language they use and how it conveys their meaning, the openings and closings of each letter, and the tone the writers use when dealing with different issues. The opportunity to explore these themes as I compiled rows and rows of metadata definitely spiced up the job.

So far, I've learned how to work on metadata and how to convert PDFs to PDF/As. I've also realized that Excel can be tricky- I accidentally messed up the configuration of a spreadsheet when I was trying to add rows- so I am trying to be even more careful with these little details!

See you after Thanksgiving,

The Plan is Complete

Hello Everyone, I spent this week formulating a proposed processing plan. This entailed quite a lot of reading and research, and I learned a great deal about creating a plan for arranging a collection. The processing plan really boils down to figuring out the most logical and expeditious way to break down and arrange the collection in such a way that future researchers can easily access the collection and quickly locate the records they are attempting to find. I still felt a little apprehensive - I was nervous about making a mistake - but Lisa Crane reminded me that the processing plan is a "living document,"  and that the plan will evolve as the processing is being conducted. So, there are no mistakes, just a starting point in an ongoing process. This revelation made me feel much more confident and I was able to propose a plan that, I hope, is based on sound reasoning. I am eager to receive feedback on my proposal, make any recommended changes to the plan, and start processing the collection.

Among the wonderful events and activities put on by the Woman's Club of Claremont over their long and productive history, there were many fundraising events for worthwhile organizations. One of these events was the 1962 Spring Celebrity Hat Sale to benefit the Well Baby Clinic. The Woman's Club asked celebrities to donate hats for the benefit, and the club received some interesting donations from notable public and historical figures of the time including, but not limited to, Jackie Kennedy and the wife of Dean Martin.

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Jackie Kennedy donates an autographed steel engraving.

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Mrs. Dean Martin donates her husband's new album.

Level three!

I've begun metadata on the Chaffey Letters, Book I! I've never been into video games much but I assume that the feeling of passing a level you tried over and over to pass is the same feeling I've felt these past two days. I suppose I should clarify what level one and two were, as well. 

Level One: Scanning. The Chaffey Letters (Book I and II) took an extremely long time to scan. Each book had such a large number of extremely thin and fragile paper. 

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Level Two: Breaking up the letters. Along with the Chaffey Letters, Ontario City Library provided us with transcripts for each letter. The past few weeks I have been breaking apart the letters, from one large pdf with all the letters into individual pdfs for each letter (as well as individual pdfs for each transcript).
Level Three: METADATA! Now that the sources are scanned and separated I have begun metadata so the hundreds of Chaffey Letters we have can go live (that's how you win this video game, in case you were wondering). With the letters we have to attach their transcripts and process them as 'compound objects,' so the letters will be able to be viewed on the Claremont Colleges Digital Library with the transcripts.

Here's to many more hours on metadata!

till next time, 

Learning Through Osmosis

I'm becoming a historian through osmosis. After a couple of weeks of creating metadata, I have an increasing understanding of the documents and the context in which they exist. I already knew some things from scanning documents and looking for interesting tidbits for social media and blog posts.

Now that I'm creating metadata, my understanding of the topics in our collection has increased tenfold. This is the nature of creating metadata, I am trying to synthesize information contained in the document so that when it is uploaded researchers browsing our collection will be able to filter through the material.

It is obviously interesting to learn about major historical events like the construction of the Hoover Dam, but it may be more surprising to hear that my favorite things to learn about are the less significant narratives. This week, for example, I created metadata for a series of letters written between 1935 and 1938 between the City of Ontario and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

During this time the Colorado River was seen as the solution to the water scarcity problem in Southern California. Increasing numbers of people settling in the area meant increasing amounts of water was required for both agricultural and domestic use. Southern Californians looked east to the Colorado River, one of the largest rivers in the United States for assistance.

A dam in the Boulder Canyon was proposed and subsequently an aqueduct leading to Southern California. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California was responsible for the building of the Colorado River Aqueduct. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California originally encompassed Anaheim, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Compton, Fullerton, Glendale, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, San Marino, Santa Ana, Santa Monica, and Torrance. Later on it would include dozens of Southern Californian cities including Ontario.

This series of letters, however, gives a smaller, more intimate, and incredibly interesting history of this time. According to letters from the City of Ontario, several city streets had been damaged by the construction of the Colorado River Aqueduct. The letters addressed to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California requested that they cover the cost required to repair the city streets. This correspondence continues with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California's denial of responsibility of the damage. Between 1935 and 1938, the City of Ontario and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California send letter after letter until a conclusion is made. According to one of the final letters, an Ontario City Council meeting passed a resolution that freed the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California from liability for the damage done during the construction of the Colorado River Aqueduct.

As I created metadata for these items, I was intrigued by this story. Although it is not a major event in the history of Southern California, it is an interesting narrative that could very easily have been lost to time. Instead I am able to make these letters available to researchers through the Claremont Colleges Digital Library.

Social Media, but like from the past?

Inspired by Kiera's blog about social media, I began to think of the Chaffey brothers and their use of advertisement and marketing in order to attract attention to their "Colony." As we saw in a past blog of mine, the Chaffey brothers had produced pamphlets about their "City that Charms." They truly created a sort of paradise area for people to come, to live and to prosper. "It's like Social Media, but old." *said in a high pitched voice*
They really did have their own forms of social media, their own forms of putting information out there. Nowadays if we have an idea we have an immediate outlet, but it wasn't always that easy.
In the letter below one can see how advertising was very important to the Chaffey brothers.


They had advertisements all around the area, and even in Canada. In another letter you can see the amount of people from Canada interested in the Colony the Chaffey Brothers created.


they really had a vision!

Until next time,

Making a Plan

Hello Everyone, this week I finished the box survey and began formulating a processing plan. To facilitate this next step in the process, I had to figure out the answers to two fundamental questions: What is a processing plan and how do you make one? After some sage advice from Lisa, I relied on the tried and true practice of research, research, research! Developing and Maintaining Practical Archives: A How-To-Do-It Manual by Gregory S. Hunter, the "Bible" of creating archives, and A Glossary of Archival & Records Terminology by Richard Pearce-Moses, are providing valuable information and will help guide me through the process. After some initial reading, I had to just jump in and begin filling out the processing plan. I am learning as I go and enjoying every moment.

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I came across some interesting information regarding the Junior Woman's Club of Claremont. The club was started in 1933 with the Woman's Club as its sponsor, and focuses on philanthropy, community service, and building leadership skills in young women devoted in the group. Two items of interest are the Club's History and Purpose, and the GFWC (General Federation of Women's Clubs) Junior Pledge written in 1916 by Helen Cheney Kimberly of California. I found the Junior Pledge to contain some profound language and concepts, encouraging the young women of the group to be loyal, do better in their work, be honest and courteous, and to "live each day trying to accomplish something - not merely to exist." Pretty amazing!      


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 The Junior Club of Claremont's History and Purpose.  


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The Junior Pledge was written in 1916 by Helen Cheney Kimberly of California, and was adopted in 1930 at the GFWC Convention as the National Junior Pledge.

Social Media and Accessibility

One important aspect of archival work is making information from primary sources accessible to people. For the most part this priority manifests through the creation of finding aids, the opening of reading rooms, and the establishment of digital libraries. The Honnold Mudd Library implements all these features in order to invite scholars to use the Special Collections. However, there is another way to make primary sources accessible to potential users: through the use of social media.

Social media makes archival and special collections accessible not only practically but also intellectually. In a practical sense, social media accounts can help promote repositories and encourage use by scholars and other individuals through the more traditional means listed above. However, it also allows social media users to engage with primary sources intellectually. The social media presence of a repository can be a direct way of disseminating easily digestible pieces of information taken from primary sources. By offering this engagement with primary sources, social media makes these sources more accessible to an increasingly wide audience.

Social media is a great way to share fun facts, short stories, images, and developments--this is how many individuals use accounts like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Special collections libraries and archival repositories can use social media in similar ways. In the case of the Honnold Mudd Library and Special Collections we use our social media accounts to share images and videos of the collection, interesting information found in certain documents, and new development for projects like the CLIR Water Project. In this way, social media users engage with the collection much as how they would use a finding aid, visit a reading room, or browse a digital library.

There are two social media projects I have been developing since becoming a CLIR CCEPS fellow: #TypographyTuesday and #WaterWednesday. These hashtags are used by our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. #TypographyTuesday and #WaterWednesday usually include an image from the collection paired with a little background information. I like to take advantage of the visual elements of the documents I come across in the Caldifornia Water Documents collection when I post to social media so that my posts are eye-catching. If this blog post caught your eye and you would like to follow #TypographyTuesday and #WaterWednesday here are links to our social media accounts.




Getting My Groove On

Hello Everyone,

I am happy to report that I have settled into a comfortable groove this week as I continue to perform the box survey for the Woman's Club of Claremont archive. I am learning as I go, making smarter decisions, and working at a much quicker pace. I have managed to conduct the survey on 26 of the 27 boxes, and will be ready to move on to step two in the process next week. I have come across some interesting items that demonstrate not only the enduring historical significance of the club, but also how the club has made intimate connections with their community over the last century. The Woman's Club of Claremont has touched every era, and left the community better, stronger, and enriched for the interaction.

 A history of the Woman's Club of Claremont was recorded in 1960. The group unofficially began meeting in 1917, during the First World War, to do Red Cross sewing, knitting, and community service. The group became an official club after the war in 1919. There are photographs of the club and its building from the earliest years which are an interesting contrast to the way the building looks today. The comparison shows how the Woman's Club grew as the community grew, and speaks to the intimate and integral relationship between the club and the community. I know my understanding of the Woman's Club will expand as I continue processing the archive, and I look forward to delving deeper into process, and the club, next week!

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Club History, circa 1960.


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Image found in a record book containing meeting minutes titled, Woman's Club of Claremont 1924 - 1944.

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Woman's Club of Claremont today.

Preperations for Metadata!

As of late I have been separating the Chaffey Letters Book I as well as the transcript for each of the letters. Chaffey Letters Book I is finished and is ready for metadata. The transcripts have opened my eyes to many insights about the Chaffey brothers. It's very interesting to read what they had to say and understand more and more about them and their dream "colony" from 135 years ago. After I separate Chaffey Letters Book II as well I will be able to, one by one, work on metadata and let them go live on the Claremont Digital Library. We shall see how soon that day comes.

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till then,


One Word

This week I was asked how I would describe my fellowship in one word. It took me a while to think about just one word that encapsulates my entire experience working on the CLIR Water Project. Each day is a little different, and since I still consider myself new to this position, I am still learning new skills all the time. For example, just this week I have learned how to create metadata in CONTENTdm and how to upload items onto the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. With this in mind, how could I narrow down my experience into one word?

In the end, I came up with "detail-oriented," which is not even technically a single word. However, it seemed to best fit my feelings about everything I do here. Whether it is how you handle fragile documents or how you create comprehensive metadata, it is important to be detail-oriented. At every step of the digitization process, it is of utmost importance to take your time and pay attention. Every detail matters.

Consequently, many of my tasks feel a bit like mental juggling. However, I enjoy this element of multitasking while working as a CLIR CCEPS Fellow. Although it might not look or sound that exciting to digitize documents and create metadata for them, my mind is always whirring with a thousand factors to make sure every detail is perfect.