This week I wrapped up my internship by finishing scanning the Alexandria Cantonment book. It’s easy to see how the book might be a valuable resource to a military historian or genealogist, since the photos are very clear and well-labeled. I enjoyed some of the narration in the book as well, such as the history of the camp bakery.
I also did some more transcription for several documents in the Ochs collection on Tuesday, when I wasn’t able to get into the building.
Overall, this has been a great experience. I’ve enjoyed working with the collections here, learning from Mark, and getting hands-on experience with archival preservation, both on- and offline.
This week I put finishing touches on the online exhibit, and Mark made it public. It was really exciting to see all my hard work come together and to be able to share it with friends and family, as well as with my faculty advisor, who said it looked wonderful.
Since I still have several hours left in the internship, I began scanning a book called the Autobiography of Alexandria Cantonment, a yearbook-type chronicle of a WWI camp in Alexandria, Louisiana. There are some short histories and descriptions, alongside page after page of photographs of soldiers and staff at the camp. There’s a ton of content to scan, and I hope I’ll be able to complete it by the time my internship ends.
I finally finished the finding aid for the Race and Segregation collection! It’s so satisfying to finally see it completed and to have one less thing on my to-do list. It’s been a crazy week preparing for finals and balancing my work and school schedule, but thankfully it’s starting to wrap up nicely.
For my last week at the library I’m going to continue to tie up the loose ends for the digitization of the race and segregation collection. I only have about fifty more files to upload to the website.
As those who have been reading my blog likely know, I’ve come across a lot of sources related to lynchings in the US that have been eye opening for me. But the thousands who lost their lives to mob violence are finally getting a memorial. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is opening today (04/26) in Montgomery, AL.
The memorial looks beautiful, and has an accompanying museum which documents the lives of the people killed and the historical factors that allowed such violence to occur. The structure contains 800 monuments, representing every county in the US where lynchings occurred, and each contains the names of all the victims.
I’m really glad that something has been made to honor the people who had their lives cut short. I’m also glad that the museum acknowledges the effects of slavery that most schools overlook, like the degradation, the loss of humanity, the pain and anguish it caused for generations.
I hope I can go and see it someday. You can check out the new museum site below!
This week I kept working on the finding aid. I’m about a quarter of the way through now. The documents I’ve come across this week are mostly dealing with the horrors of lynching in the 1920s. Reading some of these actually makes my stomach turn.
I keep reading stories about people getting dragged from their homes at night, getting shot, burned alive. I knew that lynchings were bad, but I never realized how bad. In school they overlook the worst cases, and I was so shocked reading some of these cases that people brought to Wilson’s cabinet.
The worst one is where a local police department turned over a black prisoner to a mob, who then burned the man alive. The governor of Mississippi claimed that he didn’t have any way to stop it, and that he couldn’t call in the national guard. The thing that disgust me the most is the fact that the local law enforcement didn’t even try to uphold the rights of their prisoner. They just willingly turned him over to this horrid mob.
I’m certainly learning a lot that I didn’t know by working on this project. While a lot of the documents I’m thumbing through are kind of depressing, I think it’s good to learn about these things so that people don’t romanticize the past. I’m definitely glad that I live in the time I do now. With all the problems in the world and in our country, especially regarding race relations, we’ve made great strides away from the atrocities of our past. Hopefully we’ll continue to learn and become better over the decades.
This week I continued working on the finding aid for the Race and Segregation collection, and sorting through the digitized files. I’m about halfway through it now. Unfortunately, I’m finding way more files that were never uploaded than I’d hoped. I’ve at least made all the metadata for them so that it’ll be easier to upload them later.
On my work from home day I continued working on the finding aid, and adding more items to the list.
This week I completed my draft of the exhibit and was able to go over it with Mark. He said it was pretty much in line with what he was looking for but gave me a few suggestions for editing and wanted me to refine the way I sourced information at the bottom of each page.
I focused on this during editing, offering thumbnail images that would link readers to other documents where they could read more, in addition to providing a text link to the collection for each soldier. I also thought it would be great to add a “The rest of the story” section at the bottom of each page with a sentence narrating what happened after the focus of the exhibit. I did some general editing as well.
I wish these posts could be a bit more interesting for you, the reader’s sake. But this week I once again delved into making a finding aid for the race and segregation collection, while checking to see if things have been uploaded to the site.
The files I’m looking at this week are interesting at least, even if the subject matter is gruesome. The section I’ve been thumbing through this week has had to do with lynchings and race riots that occurred during Wilson’s presidency. The details are pretty horrible; people getting dragged from their homes, set upon by mobs and burned alive, and more things that turn one’s stomach.
As horrible as all those things are though, I think the worst thing is the reaction of the Justice Department when citizens brought pleas for them to them to do something. Time and time again, the Attorney General said that it was the responsibility of the states to resolve these issues, and that he had no jurisdiction. Essentially, he was saying it wasn’t his problem.
It’s a very dark chapter in this country’s history. Reading through these stories leave a sour taste in my mouth and a heavy pit in my stomach. The indignation and anger I feel that these people never received justice, not from the Justice Department and certainly not from their state and local governments, can be overpowering at times.
Wilson finally made a public statement denouncing the violence against African-Americans, but it was too little too late. So many had already been violently killed at that point, and a statement isn’t the same as actual legal change.
Hopefully I get through this section soon and get to something slightly less depressing. Luckily, I have plenty of podcasts about the crazy lives of others to keep my spirits up and the time passing.
This week I continued working on creating a finding aid for the race and segregation collection. The project is coming along, little by little. Although, I am hitting some snags along the way.
It seems like the collection wasn’t uploaded in its entirety after all. I’m finding several files that were never put up for public access, or files that have pages missing. Once I finish the library guide, I’ll turn my focus to uploading anything that was never put up.
Another issue I’ll have to deal with though is the labeling of the files. I’ve run into several files where they’ve been uploaded to the site, but under the wrong identifier, which has caused quite a headache when trying to find a page. This is another problem I’ll troubleshoot as I go through the process.
Even though this is a tiring project, at least I’m doing something helpful by correcting any mistakes that were made. It’ll be satisfying to finally have it completed, and correctly. If anything, this project has shown me just how important it is to have coherence and organization whenever passing projects on.
This week I had the exciting job of putting together everything I’ve learned into an online exhibit.
For now, I’m focusing on learning how to use the Exhibit Builder plugin in Omeka and creating a draft of the exhibit so I can get further feedback from Mark.
Exhibit Builder was a little tricky to learn; like the rest of Omeka, it’s not really intuitive. However, I got in a lot of good troubleshooting practice and learned how to update the plugin when it isn’t working correctly as well as how to navigate Omeka tutorials and help forums–all useful experience.
I currently have three exhibit pages, one for each soldier whose scrapbook I’ve digitized, each representing a different place for American soldiers during the war (training camps, the front, and non-combat work). I’m mixing quotations with images to help readers experience each soldier’s story.
It was especially satisfying to pull together materials from the Ochs collection to create an overarching narrative that shows how he developed as a person and how his attitude toward not fighting matured. There are also some good “slice of life” quotes as he describes the war happening around Paris. I was excited to find photos of the “Big Bertha” gun he mentions at one point in one of the other online collections, so I’m including those pictures in the page so readers can see what he was talking about.
There’s still one more page left, plus the introduction to the exhibit, before I can call it a full draft, so I will work on finishing those early next week.