Behind the Scenes with UC’s Digital Archivist: Finding the Needle in the Haystack

By Eira Tansey, Digital Archivist/Records Manager

A constant challenge for digital archivists is identifying potentially sensitive material within born-digital archives. This content may be information that fits a known pattern (for example, a 3-2-4 number that likely indicates the presence of a social security number), or sensitive keywords that indicate the presence of a larger body of sensitive information (for example, the keywords “evaluation” and “candidate” in close proximity to each other may indicate the presence of an evaluation form for a possible job applicant).

Digital archivists use a number of tools to screen for potentially sensitive information. When this information is found, depending on the type of information, institutional policy, legal restrictions, and ethical issues, archivists may redact the information, destroy it, or limit access to it (either by user, or according to a certain period of time). Continue reading

Behind the Scenes with UC’s Digital Archivist: Making Sense of It All

By Eira Tansey, Digital Archivist/Records Manager

When archivists first make contact with a large group of records, they often perform some form of appraisal. You might think of appraisal as being the calling card of the much-loved PBS television show Antiques Roadshow, in which average people realize that Great Aunt Milly’s painting is a valued masterpiece – or a total dud.

Unlike appraisers, when archivists appraise something they generally aren’t assigning a monetary value, but seeking to articulate the value of the records and the information they contain. The Society of American Archivists defines (http://www2.archivists.org/glossary/terms/a/appraisal#.V2hA1jXERmM)  appraisal as:

  1. ~ 1. The process of identifying materials offered to an archives that have sufficient value to be accessioned. – 2. The process of determining the length of time records should be retained, based on legal requirements and on their current and potential usefulness. – 3. The process of determining the market value of an item; monetary appraisal.

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Behind the Scenes with UC’s Digital Archivist: Much Ado About Digital

By Eira Tansey, Digital Archivist/Records Manager

Within the archives profession, “Digital Archivist” is one of the fastest-growing job titles (http://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/provenance/vol31/iss2/5/). The Society of American Archivists offers a Digital Archives Specialist curriculum and certificate (www2.archivists.org/prof-education/das).   And library and archives conferences abound on topics of an electronic and digital nature – like Saving The Web (https://www.loc.gov/loc/kluge/news/save-web-2016.html), the Digital Library Federation (https://www.diglib.org/), and the Software Preservation Network Forum (http://www.softwarepreservationnetwork.org/spn-forum/).

So what does a digital archivist do? Every digital archivist’s responsibilities will look slightly different depending on institutional mission, priorities and resources. As the first link indicates, there isn’t even professional consensus whether a digital archivist is one who works with digitization of analog material (like paper documents and manuscripts, rare books, maps, etc), or someone who works with “born-digital” materials. In many institutions, both of those responsibilities may be within the Digital Archivist’s charge. As UC’s Digital Archivist/Records Manager, my responsibilities center on working with born-digital archives, digital preservation, and overseeing UC’s Records Management program. I also work closely with my colleagues in Digital Collections on digitization projects (http://digital.libraries.uc.edu/).

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ARB’s “50 Minutes” Series Return Next Week

By:  Kevin Grace

The Archives & Rare Books Library will usher in its 7th year of the “50 Minutes” lunchtime talks this August with “A Skeleton, Some Lions, Pigeons, and Gods! The Seldom-Noticed Art in UC Architecture.”

The talk is scheduled for Thursday, August 25, at 12 noon in 814 Blegen and as always, the “50 Minutes” presentations are very informal and conversational.  Bring your lunch, relax, ignore the clock on the wall which is invariably an hour behind (though we may climb on top of the piano beneath it and change the battery this year), and enjoy a look at the history and culture of the “hidden” campus.  Not advertised in the title, we will also be looking at semi-naked people in the architecture.

50 minute talk, August 2016

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Of Provosts and Our Past Year: A Couple of New Lists on the ARB Website

By:  Kevin Grace

ARB Annual SummaryAs part of its work in documenting the heritage and ongoing changes at the University of Cincinnati, the Archives & Rare Books Library maintains a number of useful lists on its University Archives page in addition to finding aids and exhibits, http://www.libraries.uc.edu/arb/collections/university-archives.html.  We keep up with the heritage of deans in our various colleges, http://www.libraries.uc.edu/arb/collections/university-archives/deanslist.html, as well as annual reports, the Board of Trustees, UC presidents, and campus history.

With the recent resignation of President Santa Ono, who became the new president of the University of British Columbia, there were a number of changes as Provost Beverly Davenport became UC’s interim president and CCM dean Peter Landgren became Interim Provost.  We’ve added to our lists with one of the University of Cincinnati’s provosts and chief academic officers throughout UC’s history, http://www.libraries.uc.edu/arb/collections/university-archives/provosts.html. Continue reading

Libby Holman: Fresh Painting the Town Red

By: Sydney Vollmer

Libby HolmanThe Fresh Painters Club was considered controversial due to the type of plays it put on—nothing was off-limits. Perhaps the nature of the club was influenced by the free spirits who participated. One such spirit was Libby Holman. Nineteen Twenty-three, the year the club was founded, she played the role of Violet Fields in “Fresh Paint.” Having dreams and talent too big for her hometown, she left for New York in 1924.

Born Elizabeth Holzman, her last name was changed sometime after her uncle, Ross, embezzled $1 million dollars from the stockbrokerage he owned with Libby’s father. Mr. Holzman changed the family’s name not only because of the anti-German attitudes in America at the time, but because he most likely wanted to save his kin from being attached to such an outrageous scandal, and because he needed to detach himself from the Holzman name so he could find work. This was only the first of many scandals with which Libby would be associated. Continue reading

Fresh Painters Club

By:  Sydney Vollmer

Lilaine Program CoverI’m a little late on posting a few big Shakespeare things. I promise they’re coming. In the craziness that has been finals, Kevin decided maybe I would like a little break from the Bard. (He was right.) He suggested I try painting for a little—and by that he meant looking into the Fresh Painters Club that was once a major extra-curricular at the University of Cincinnati. Conveniently, there was a history of the club that was written several decades ago. Though I don’t know who wrote it or exactly when it was penned, he or she explained the organization far better than I can. The text is as follows:

ANALYSIS OF THE FRESH PAINTER ACTIVITY

OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI.

HISTORY.

Looking backward, the Fresh Painters has developed from an old Varsity tradition. Every year during the period between 1900 and 1921, students gave a revue called “Varsity Vanities”. These revues were disconnected sets depicting the frivolities of campus life, and demonstrated singing, dancing and acting talents of undergraduates. Every spring the varsity Vanities Committee was organized and the revue was produced. Continue reading

National Women’s Month – UC’s Miriam Urban

By:  Dawn Fuller

Miriam B. Urban

Miriam B. Urban

Miriam Urban was the only female professor in the history department during the 1920s and ‘30s. During this period of common discrimination against women in higher education, she fought to get tenure. Urban earned her bachelor’s degree from UC in 1915 and her master’s degree in 1917, earning a PhD from Columbia University before joining the UC faculty in 1920. Her field was European history and though she taught at the University of Cincinnati for 33 years Urban was not promoted to full professor until 1944.
Described as wearing shapeless tweed with white blouses, along with multiple glasses strung with black ribbons around her neck, students also commented that her hair was usually in “disarray.” Despite her “hot mess” eccentricities, Urban was a delight to her students, even though she was known to kick a dozing student in the shins or thump someone on the head with a pencil. She would signal the end of the class period by snapping her girdle.
Charlotte Shockley, a 1937 graduate in English from the Liberal Arts College, wrote, “Miss Urban’s dark eyes glittered as she likened Hitler to a ‘takeoff on Groucho Marx.’” Continue reading

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