University of Arizona Photograph Collection: Men’s Glee Club of 1907.

Working as a student worker at special collections, I have scanned and created metadata for many photographs from the University of Arizona Photograph Collection. My first project at Special collections was to pick 70 photographs from the UA photograph collection. Once I picked the photographs, I had to scanned the items and create the metadata for them. I chose photographs that were taken during 20th century and are music photographs. This is a photograph I scanned for that collection of The University of Arizona Men’s Glee Club of 1907.

University of Arizona Photograph Collection. “The University of Arizona Men’s Glee Club of 1907” School of Music and Dance, Special Collections.  

It is a great feeling to digitize these images, bringing online will get access to many patrons. Photographs like these need to be known to learn more about the history of the University of Arizona. I enjoy looking at photographs taken from the early 20th century. The studio photographs are my favorite. This is a great quality photograph for the time it was taken. This photograph showcases the UA men’s Glee Club, they are sitting down in formal wear. This is a nice photograph to look at, it shows the history of UA music department and student life on campus.  

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Exhibits: Digital and Physical

My recent work has involved working on exhibits, both digital and physical. For the past few weeks, I’ve been preparing to upload files to Omeka so that these materials can be available in online exhibits. This particular exhibit includes photographs and manuscripts relating to Empire Ranch. I have been downloading old files, scanning files that are missing from our database, editing file names, creating metadata, and formatting the information so that the upload will be successful. It has been interesting to learn about a new platform that I haven’t worked with before, and my coworkers and supervisors have been providing great instruction on how to begin the process. I look forward to continuing this work so that these materials will be more accessible. 

Below is a photograph from the Empire Ranch collection, depicting Harry Heffner branding a cow. 

Additionally, I’ve begun to work on a pop-up exhibit relating to University of Arizona history. I decided to comb through materials relating to UA performing arts. Special Collections has a vast range of materials, such as photographs, programs, newspaper articles, and scrapbooks, depicting performances by or at the University of Arizona. Some materials I found particularly interesting relate to Broadway shows playing at Centennial Hall, the department of theater arts, the department of music and dance, and the UA opera theater. I am excited to research these materials and highlight them in an upcoming exhibit. 

Below is a photograph of a production performed by the department of theater arts. 

Library Shelfie Day!

A “shelfie” is not just a cute play on words, I recently explained to my sister as I asked her to select my “best shelfie” photo (seriously, she gets very upset when I post terrible photos of myself!). I went on to explain that “Shelfie Day” occurs on the fourth Wednesday in January every year. Book lovers across the country (and really, the world) can take a photo with them next to a library shelf. The shelf could be random, it could be a shelf they want to read from, or it may be where they go to find the best books!

I took several different photos and decided that this is the photo I’d like to share with you. This is what I would call a “preview shelf” — Black History Month starts on February 1st. The books on this shelf largely deal with buffalo soldiers and black warriorhood, which only encompasses a very small selection of African American literature worthy of reading during Black History Month.

I will also be randomly selecting one book from this shelf to review in February. So consider this just a brief teaser of what is to come this year on our various social media platforms.

Mary Jeffries Bruce and the Sunday Evening Forum

Welcome back to campus everyone! I hope you’re having a good start to the semester and enjoying the cold weather (I’m from the valley, this is cold for me.)

Since I got back to work this year, I’ve been going through the collections to find materials for various projects, but while I’ve been doing this, I’ve stumbled across many interesting collections and items. One of which is the Mary Jeffries Bruce and the Sunday Evening Forum collection (MS 472).

Mary Jeffries Bruce was the program chairman for a small Young Adult Discussion Group in Tucson that became known as the Sunday Evening Forum. For about 40 years, Mary Jeffries Bruce invited political leaders, authors, famous entertainers, and other well-known people to speak or perform on a given topic at the University of Arizona. Some well-known names include Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Morris and Stewart Udall.

The collection contains several scrapbooks with photos, newspaper articles, and correspondence about the guest speakers and their contributions to the forum. I’ve really enjoyed looking at this collection because of the wide variety of speakers and their chosen topics. Mary Jeffries Bruce was able to gather so many prominent figures and provide Tucson residents with interesting and engaging performances. The scrapbooks are a testament to her ability to educate and engage her community and I am excited to keep exploring the collection!

My journey into Special Collections begins!

My first full week working as an intern in the UA Special Collections has been extremely educational and fulfilling! The learning curve for doing the actual survey work is interesting and definitely keeps me on my toes. As Fleur and I have started the test run of performing the survey, we have found the need to adjust not only the submission form options, but also guidelines on how we consider different issues, such as small collections and the manner of their housing or finding papers slumping in their folder despite the box seeming to adequately house the materials. Even within the short period it’s curious to see how my standards for grading the physicality of the materials has altered. At first a large portion of paper seemed to be in poor physical condition, but with the increase of materials I am experiencing and Fleur’s examples and guidance, I feel like I am getting a better handle on what is actually poor and what is not. While the work is not hard, there is a lot to consider and pay attention to. So much in fact, I can hardly remember the details of a collection soon after I have completed the survey of it. I know time and experience will increase my comfort levels, so I am not too worried about it. It’s kind of cool to have this work cart with all the materials I need to complete the survey. I was excited when I found a random screw on the floor that I was able to add to my jar!

The readings have also been extremely informative for this learning process. I am excited to learn more about the whole process of creating the exhibit. I plan on learning how to use the finding aid over the weekend so that I can find an interesting subject in which to create my exhibit plan. I am not so worried about the actual work to be done, just about my inexperience with the collection. But again, all of this will come with time. I look forward to the rest of the semester and am ready to get working!

UA Communications- The Print Life

Since I started at the Special Collections, I’ve been working my way through the University of Arizona Communications boxes. This is an unprocessed collection that came from the Communications department and it contains University records from the late 70s to the early 2000s. I would say that most of the material comes from the 90s. It is pretty fascinating to see what was happening around the U 30 plus years ago. 

After I surveyed the collection and wrote down what was contained in each box, it was time to start organizing and processing the collection! So for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been going through faculty photos, negatives, and slides. One thing that sticks out to me is how fashion has evolved over time. These faculty photos are a bit of a time warp in regards to what people were wearing, how they did their hair, etc. 

Pictured is Yetta Goodman from the College of Education, dated 1995. Wearing a houndstooth dress with oversized glasses and a long metal necklace. 

The University photographers often took multiple shots of faculty and then carefully selected the best one. They would mark on the proofs with a red wax pen, crossing out the photos that they didn’t want and then circling or framing the shot chosen for publication. There was a lot of care in how faculty was presented, and you can tell in this photo. Goodman is faced towards the camera, smile on her face with a unique backdrop that I’m assuming was near her office or department. I was a high school teacher before coming here for my masters, and all I got for a faculty photo was one shot possibly with my hair askew. I would discover the “damage” only at the end of the year when the yearbook came out. I wish John Florence or Lori Stiles had been taking my staff photos! You can see their process a little bit below. 

Pictured is Robert Haag, dated 1991. He’s wearing a collared shirt. His hair is long with bangs and layers cut in. It is styled curly. He is looking at a small rock. 

Here’s another example of a faculty headshot. Pictured here is Kari McBride from the Women’s Studies Department. Dated 1998. Wearing long dangly earrings, with a fluffy pixie cut and a pinafore dress. Short haircuts were definitely ‘in’! I noticed quite a few female faculty members with pixie haircuts or chin length hair. 

Pictured here is a field trip to the Golder Dam in 1981. Edgar McCullough (pointing) and his Geoscience students. McCullough is wearing cutoff  shorts with long white socks and sneakers. On the far left of the photo is an unnamed student wearing a denim shirt, denim pants, and if you look closely, you can see that he’s also wearing a leather forehead headband over his long hair. 

It has been so fun going through all of the faculty photos and seeing how fashion has changed with the times and how the University handled the optics and marketing that went with publishing these photographs. This collection has over 100 boxes, so it will take time to process and create finding aids for each of these boxes. Hopefully this collection and all of its delightful decades of fashion will be available for viewing by the summer or early next fall!

UA Communications – The AV Life

One of the first projects I started working on at Special Collections is inventorying a large Audio Visual collection from the UA Office of University Communications. In 2007, we accessioned 89 boxes full of various AV formats, with most of the material being from the 80s and 90s. Going into this project, I knew almost nothing about obsolete AV media, or what the UA Communications Department was doing in the 80s and 90s. Okay, I actually knew nothing about that. Now, almost 70 boxes and 1500 items later, I consider myself to be an expert on…..recorder tabs! No seriously, as part of AV preservation, I was tasked with popping off the recording tabs on Betacams and U-matics. At first, I would pile them on my desk or just throw them away after every item, but now I keep them in a mug on my desk. It works as both convenient storage and an excellent visual of just how many video cassettes I’ve worked with. 

Although I do enjoy popping off the satisfying little pieces of plastic, I’ve also had the experience of seeing what the UA Communications Department was up to forty years ago. Interesting items I’ve come across are some Betacams labeled “Babies can add!” and “UA Professors, Teachers Funny Business, Tape 1”. Another was an audio cassette titled “Rats in Space – Atrophy, Interview”. I’m curious to learn what exactly those descriptions entail; did they interview the rat, or did it atrophy in space? 

Another unexpectedly fun thing I’ve encountered is the various colors a video cassette can be. Most are typically black and red, but I’ve run into some more aesthetic palettes. My favorite has to be the lavender colored BetacamSP!

       Caramel/Tan VHS Tape

  Navy Blue BetacamSP   

Lavender BetacamSP

Overall, I have had a lot of fun going through these boxes and learning more about AV material and the University of Arizona in general. I feel like I have a glimpse of UA’s past where the current scientific happenings, collegiate ceremonies, and staff profiles are detailed before me. I’m excited to discover more within this collection and whatever else I run into at Special Collections.

Final Thoughts on the Miner’s Story Project

Between getting married and trying to navigate multiple obsolete materials in this collection, this semester was a challenging one for me.

The upside being, I saw what I had learned in my Community archives class is an upcoming idea that has begun to be embraced by more and more archives. Oral history, interviews, heritage and memory projects, serving as a means of allowing the public to create records that document their own stories, rather than allowing their stories to be written for them. I wasn’t able to completely survey all of the content, but what I did see was pretty interesting. I was able to piece together the story of the collection – over the course of about five or so years, Reed collected oral histories from the people that worked in the San Manuel and Bisbee Mines. I’d highly recommend checking out the YouTube channel that is still up.

The main difficulty with the collection was the CDs, CDs and more CDs! Every time I thought I was done, there turned out to be more of them. In the end, there ended up being nearly 600 total – which boggles the mind. Though I accessioned all of them, besides the titular clues, I have no idea what could be contained in those little disks. The other challenge was the unnamed, digitally ancient hard drives. Lisa mentioned she believed the collection to be cursed, because we came up against roadblocks each time we attempted to access the digital content! I can’t say I believe in curses, but to say that we experienced “technical difficulties” in trying to view the contents is an understatement. Unless the necessary equipment is acquired, I don’t see how their mysteries will be solved, but I can see how it would be difficult to handle larger collections that are similar to this one.

It really hammered home one of the main factors that impacts digital preservation – the evolution of digital media. Even in the last decade, digital media has changed dramatically and seems to do so at a more and more rapid pace than the last. This poses a particular problem for archivists, because even tech that is twenty years old is difficult to preserve, because it is already obsolete. Another upside to this experience is, I would love to pursue this particular issue more – there needs to be a practical solution where we aren’t just playing catch-up all the time!

Although I didn’t get to completely witness all of the content, I hope that the next person who works on this collection will have better luck completing it than I did. I also got another crack at ArchiveSpace, my old nemesis. It doesn’t seem as scary as it did when I started, although XML still strikes fear into my heart. I hope you all had better luck than I did.

UofA Women’s Basketball Exhibit

For the month of November I installed an exhibit in the Special Collections reading room. It looks at the history of the University of Arizona Women’s basketball team. It features items from 1911 to 2010, these items can be found in the Mary Roby collection (MS 553) and University of Arizona Athletics Collection (MS 64). Also included, is a book written by Katie Frey titled From Wildkittens to Wildcats: Women’s Sports at the University of Arizona.

This exhibit provides information describing how the women’s basketball team originally had players in 1911 but was not considered a sport at the University until 1921. It also includes a pamphlet depicting the journey of the women’s basketball team from 1899 until 1988 and players who have records for the seasons they played here at the University.

Cards, cards, cards

I just finished sorting through all of Joy Harjo’s cards — birthday cards, Mother’s Day cards, Christmas and New Years’ cards, Valentine’s Day cards, Thank You cards from friends, family, and fans, graduation cards — if Joy Harjo received a card she kept it. It was a momentous task to sort these cards into stacks and piles but, after two long weeks, they are now sorted and will be easier for researchers to find when they want to explore these materials.

There are some interesting take-aways here. First, we have definitely changed as a society. I am not sure that we still give out cards for all seasons. I have, personally, never received a Halloween card. I was genuinely surprised to find several within this collection. Thanksgiving, Easter, etc., all have cards represented here. I’ll also admit that when I receive birthday cards, I keep them for perhaps a few months but eventually they wind up in the trash (I’m genuinely sorry to everyone who has sent me one).

Many of these cards are simply gorgeous! I was genuinely happy to find duplicate cards (same covers, but written by different people) because it meant this card was ‘trending’ during a certain season/year. Inside of the cards, there are some great notes and comments that are worthy of reading if you’re interested at getting a true, personal story about Joy Harjo. The “thank you” cards are particularly heartwarming. As someone who raises peafowl, I was also quite interested in this stunner….

Not the most realistic peacock interpretation (he looks like he has the head of a German Beauty Homer… look it up, you won’t regret it!) but there’s something completely unique about this card.

This all begs the question… do you remember cards that used to make music when you opened them? Surely those cards, which dominated the 1990s, no longer work. Technical obsolescence. Dead batteries. Poor design. Discarded. But if you watch this fun video below, you’re going to be genuinely surprised!

This was a great revelation. I was so excited to find an audio-card that is still working in this collection! I now promise not to open it constantly and wear out the remaining shelf life it has.