UC Libraries closed Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 6

All UC Libraries locations are closed Monday, Sept. 6 for Labor Day. The Libraries will reopen as scheduled Tuesday, Sept. 7.

Have a safe and relaxing holiday.

And for more information on labor, check out the exhibit Working for a Living, featuring the University of Cincinnati’s Archives and Rare Books Library labor collections.

working graphic

Read Source, the online newsletter, to learn about the news, events, people and happenings in UC Libraries

sourceRead Source, the online newsletter, to learn about the news, events, people and happenings in UC Libraries.

In this issue of Source, Dean Xuemao Wang takes time to reflect as work begins to transition back on campus and we showcase UC Libraries innovation and impact during the pandemic. In addition to articles highlighting collections such as Albert Sabin’s papers and Obed Wilson’s library, this issue also marks the commemoration of the first national Juneteenth holiday and features an interview with the authors of the recent University of Cincinnati Press book, Bicycling Through Paradise. As our 19th year of publication comes to a close, we feature a retrospective of past covers and a look back at the 2009 Edible Books event.

Read these articles, as well as past issues, on the website. To receive Source via e-mail, contact melissa.norris@uc.edu to be added to the mailing list.

 

Documenting COVID-19 in University Archives

At the Archives and Rare Books Library, we recently began using Archive-It to preserve important university websites. The average life span of a webpage is between 44 and 100 days. Web pages are notoriously fragile documents, and many of the web resources we take for granted are at risk of disappearing.

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, we are using Archive-It to capture various UC domain webpages dedicated to the pandemic’s impact on the university community. This kind of rapid response web archiving will ensure we preserve a historical record of this monumental event at UC for future researchers. You can currently view the UC COVID-19 website archive, which is being updated on a daily basis.

So far, we have collected several gigabytes of data, and over 20 websites, including each college’s COVID-19 page. Since some pages update more frequently than other, we schedule crawls (i.e. the process of archiving a webpage) of pages like https://www.uc.edu/publichealth.html on a more frequent basis in order to capture all of the changes.

The Archives and Rare Books Library is not the only archival repository documenting the experience of COVID-19. Dozens of other institutions, including many other Ohio college and university archives, are also collecting and preserving this fast-moving event. One of the largest COVID-19 collections so far is a collaboration between the International Internet Preservation Consortium and Archive-It, which has now collected more than 2,763 websites in 30 languages about the worldwide response to the pandemic.

There has been growing interest over the last several years in developing ethical frameworks around documenting crises within the archives profession. In response, the Society of American Archivists created a Tragedy Response Initiative Task Force that has developed a comprehensive set of guidelines based on archivists’ professional ethics and values. Previous examples of online archiving projects of crises and traumatic events include the September 11 Digital Archive, Hurricane Katrina Digital Memory Bank, and Documenting Ferguson. Given the global reach of COVID-19 and the advances in web archiving and digital projects, the pandemic is likely to become one of the most well-documented global events in recent history.

Would you like to suggest a website that we should include in our COVID-19 UC web archive? Please email us to suggest new UC sites to preserve in our COVID-19 web archives. Please note that at this time, we are currently only crawling public-facing webpages directly related to the UC community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

The Benjamin Gettler Papers Processing Project Now Complete

By:  Alex Temple, Benjamin Gettler Papers Project Archivist

The Benjamin Gettler papers processing project has come to a close, but I wanted to write one more entry about efforts to ensure the lasting usability of the collection.  As I’ve explored and processed the collection, I found a broad range of material making up the scope and content.  Each item in the collection is important, but some items can actually harm others, and storage methods that work for one item will not necessarily work for another.  Therefore, each item has been assessed for it’s individual preservation needs, including how to store it so it would not affect the safety of the rest of the collection.

Jellybeans from President Reagan's desk in the Gettler collectionRegarding the paper documents, some are emails printed from an inkjet or laser printer as recently as 2013, while other documents are stock certificates dating back to the 1890s.  Regardless of their age, generally all paper-based objects need to be housed in a stable and protective environment, such as acid-free folders, and stored in a room with a relative humidity of 30-50% and temperature between 35-65°F, all of which the University of Cincinnati Archives & Rare Books Library provides.

Of course, not everything was as straightforward as placing into a new, preservation-quality folder.  I have written previously about items Gettler had taken from his visit with President Reagan at the White House, largely about some jellybeans.  Miraculously, these jellybeans had survived for nearly 40 years.  To make their longevity less of a miracle and more of a science, we deferred to The Preservation Lab, a joint lab of the University of Cincinnati Libraries and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  They vacuum-sealed the jellybeans, and brilliantly constructed a box for them that allowed them to be displayed alongside a note from Ben’s wife Dee.  The candy is now protected from being squashed, chewed on, or getting wet.  And just as importantly, the rest of collection is less likely to be adversely affected by the composition of the jellybeans, such as sugars and dyes. Continue reading

Read Source to learn more about the news, events, people and happenings in UC Libraries.

sourceRead Source, the online newsletter, to learn more about the news, events, people and happenings in UC Libraries.

In this issue of Source, Dean Xuemao Wang writes about his new role as vice provost for digital scholarship, which ties in with the article Introducing the Research @ Data Services Team.

The Libraries special collections are featured prominently in this issue with news of an exciting, surprise gift to the Neil Armstrong Commemorative Archives, promotion of a lecture series celebrating the digitization of the Albert B. Sabin Research Notebooks, and an announcement of a new UC exhibit featuring the Special Collections of four UC Libraries.

This fall brings new faces and new publications from the University of Cincinnati Press, along with the conclusion of the university’s Bicentennial celebration, which university archivist and head of the Archives and Rare Books Library Kevin Grace uses as the occasion to recount a gift from William A. Procter that was instrumental to the libraries.

Lastly, we announce that the Cecil Striker Society Annual Lecture is now our first fully endowed annual lecture.

Read these articles, as well as past issues, on the web at http://libapps.libraries.uc.edu/source/ and via e-mail. To receive Source via e-mail, contact melissa.norris@uc.edu to be added to the mailing list.

Benjamin Gettler and the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees

By:  Alex Temple, Benjamin Gettler Papers Project Archivist

I’ve mentioned before that Benjamin Gettler served on the Board of Trustees for the University of Cincinnati, but I haven’t really talked about how he got there or what that means.  In short, the Board of Trustees is the governing body of the University of Cincinnati.  There are 11 members total, who are recommended by the Ohio State Senate and appointed by the Governor of Ohio.  Among other responsibilities, they select and appoint the university president, set the university budget, and grant all degrees from the university.  The trustees set the framework for students’ experience at the University of Cincinnati, as they also are responsible for setting the tuition and approving university rules, curricula, and programs.  Gettler himself was key to the creation of the Judaic Studies Department.

Gettler was first recommended as a trustee to Governor George Voinovich by legislator Stanley Aronoff in October of 1992.  Aronoff lauded Gettler’s commitment to the Republican Party (Voinovich was a Republican governor) and business prowess, but it wasn’t until November of 1993 after a second recommendation from Bob Taft, that Voinovich would finally appoint Gettler.  Taft’s recommendation better highlighted Gettler’s qualifications as both a University of Cincinnati alumnus and significant donor.  Taft also praised his experience in law, finance, community service, and business in addition to his supportive activities with the Republican Party in local, state, and national issues.  He also put his own reputation on the line by making the recommendation out of personal familiarity with Gettler. Continue reading

The Kennedy Letter

By: Alex Temple, Gettler Project Archivist

I’ve been lost in the archives, and finally found my way out!  I’ve actually been taking some time to look at the collection as a whole, and have been eager to get back into looking at some of the contents at a closer level.  One piece which caught my attention early on was a letter from none other than Robert F. Kennedy, from 1957.  I’ve been excited to dig into this and learn more about the people in the letter and circumstances surrounding it.

Letter from Robert F. Kennedy to Benjamin Gettler regarding the Hoffa case

Continue reading

Benjamin Gettler papers – Update on Progress

By:  Alex Temple, Gettler Project Archivist

I recently finished taking a complete inventory on Benjamin Gettler’s papers.  It’s been really interesting unpacking folders from such an ambitious and involved person.  The collection largely stems from his involvement in various organizations from 1960-2003, notably the Cincinnati Transit Company, S.O.R.T.A./Metro, American Controlled Industries (ACI), the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), and the University of Cincinnati.  There is also a large collection of political correspondence with letters dating as far back as 1959 (with Robert F. Kennedy), through 2012.

The bulk of the time spent so far has been going through each item in Mr. Gettler’s correspondence, which contains approximately 1000 items.  Every piece has been examined for a sender, recipient, date, subject, and format.  That was a lot of reading!  It’s been interesting to read Mr. Gettler’s interests come through in his political correspondence, as well as seeing the often-contentious battles regarding S.O.R.T.A.’s operations.  I must admit, it’s been hard to stop examining the documents and start writing about them. Continue reading

Jelly Beans and Politics

By:  Alex Temple, Benjamin Gettler Papers Project Archivist

I’m currently working through Benjamin Gettler’s political work, and have just finished the first of six folders on his political correspondence.  So far I’ve identified 150 items, representing approximately 30 years of his work, views, correspondence, and recognition.  Largely, Gettler placed his energy into the Republican party, notably towards the Reagan/Bush campaigns.  His campaign aid for politicians earned him various accolades, such as an honorary address to the House of Representatives from Representative Brad Wenstrup; invitations to Inaugural Balls for Ohio Governor Bob Taft and President Ronald Reagan, and an invitation to visit the White House in 1982.

White House InvitationWhite House Invitation Continue reading

The Benjamin Gettler Papers: An Introduction to Cincinnati’s New Public Transit

By:  Alex Temple, Gettler Project Archivist

Book on the Cincinnati Transit CompanyFor the past several months, work has continued on processing the Benjamin Gettler Papers donated to the Archives & Rare Books Library.  Gettler was a notable lawyer, businessman, and civic activist in Cincinnati, an international philanthropist, and a former member of the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees.  I’ve been fascinated by the amount of public transit-related history in this collection.  An often over-looked part of urban history is transportation infrastructure.  Public transportation records can tell us not only where people lived, worked, and played, but also the routes taken and who the routes served.  They can also provide insight into how, where, or why neighborhoods changed over time.

Cincinnati’s public transportation, as we recognize it today, really began in 1873 when several horse-drawn tram systems merged to form the Cincinnati Consolidated Railway Company.  Nearly a decade later, it was renamed the Cincinnati Street Railway Company (Gettler, 2012).  It remained the Cincinnati Street Railway Company until 1952, after the company had fully transitioned from rail to rubber-tire service, becoming the Cincinnati Transit Company.

Gettler himself was a prominent figure in Cincinnati’s transit history, as his involvement started slightly before the switch from streetcars to buses and through the sale of the Cincinnati Transit Company to the City of Cincinnati, forming the South Ohio Regional Transit Association (S.O.R.T.A.), and finally serving on the S.O.R.T.A. board beginning in 2003.  A good deal of the collection in the Benjamin Gettler Papers comes from his involvement in public transportation, including items such as meeting minutes from the board of directors.  One in particular which I found exciting to study was the meeting minutes from the board of directors from 1952 to 1954. Continue reading