The Value of Digitization

One aspect of my job as an archivist at the Truman Library and Museum has been record digitization. Although this can be a tedious and repetitive task, I find it as rewarding as processing collections and writing finding aids. As a researcher, I understand the value of having online access to photographs and documents. Researchers anywhere in the world can view records online, and many archives are digitizing their holdings. Digitized records can also be shared on social media to reach a broader audience.

For example, I scanned Margaret Truman’s diary from 1941 because the Truman Library wanted her December 7th and 8th entries to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Over the past two days, the Truman Library has shared the diary pages on their social media accounts and website. As of today, 275 people have liked or shared the diary pages on Facebook and 139 people have liked or retweeted them on Twitter. This is why I find digitization so valuable. Making history accessible is a large and rewarding part of what public historians do. I was able to connect over 400 people to an important part of our past simply by scanning two documents and putting them online. Digitization may not be the most exciting task, but it is certainly an important one filled with meaning.

Center for the Study of the Korean War Collection

One collection I’ve been fortunate to help process and write the finding aid for was donated by the Center for the Study of the Korean War in Independence, Missouri. Whenever I’m not working on a specific project, I work on this massive 250+ box collection. My task has been to examine the contents of each folder and create folder titles.

After the initial survey, the curator will review the collection again and discard anything he or she determines to be of little value to researchers. In this collection, for instance, there were many webpage documents on the Korean War that originated from unreliable websites. There were also materials unrelated to the Korean War, such as articles about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. These types of materials will likely be disposed of during the next processing phase in order to make the collection more manageable and relevant to researchers. Most of what I’ve worked with has been very interesting, however. I’ve read many letters and diaries from Korean War veterans, Korean War propaganda, and other wartime materials. I’ve been working as diligently as possible to help get this collection processed and make it available to the public.

Writing the Michael Davis Papers Finding Aid

Prior to writing the finding aid for the Michael Davis Papers, I researched the collection’s contents and learned that Michael Davis was the chairman of the Committee for the Nation’s Health (CNH) during Harry Truman’s presidency. The CNH supported Truman’s national health insurance initiative and campaigned against organizations that opposed the program, such as the American Medical Association. Most of the collection contained publications, articles, press releases, and newsletters from the CNH and opposing organizations.

Once I had a thorough understanding of the collection, I began my description. First, I described the collection as a whole by summarizing the types of documents it contained and the collection’s primary subjects and themes. I also provided the historical context of the collection and explained how the collection related to Harry Truman. My series description was brief because there was only one series, the Subject File. Again, I outlined the types of documents and the subject matter of the series, along with the series’ arrangement. Lastly, I described the collection at the file unit level by listing the folder titles for each box in the collection.

There was other essential information I included in the finding aid, such as copyright information and information about the collection’s size and date span. I also needed to compose a biographical sketch of Michael Davis’s life, which proved difficult because the collection had little information about him. However, after some research in the archive, I was able to create a timeline of Michael Davis’s education and employment history. My final step was to write the HTML webpage for the finding aid using a program called Dreamweaver. As a HTML document, the finding aid was added to the Truman Library’s website where it is now available to researchers.

Link to the Michael M. Davis Papers Finding Aid

Spring Archives Intern

The Jackson County Historical Society is taking applications for a spring internship. The intern will work closely with the Archivist to process and catalog a collection. Applicant must have experience working in an archive or museum with historical collections and must be enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate history program. Please e-mail your resume to Caitlin Eckard, ceckard@jchs.org. The deadline for applications is December 15th. This is an unpaid internship position.

Caitlin Eckard

Jackson County Historical Society
Operations Manager and Archivist
816.252.7454

 

Wornall/Major House Intern & Camp Director

Educational Outreach Intern & Camp Director Wornall/Majors House Museums

About Interning at the Wornall/Majors House Museums
Are you passionate about local history or interested in learning more about local history? Would you like to experience exciting, hands-on opportunities to bring history to life for community members?

The Wornall/Majors House Museums is a non-profit that preserves and protects two of Kansas City’s most significant antebellum landmarks – the John Wornall House Museum and the Alexander Majors House Museum. The Museums engage the Kansas City community by bringing history to life through innovative, hands-on programs and experiences. The houses, both listed on the National Register of Historic Places, feature hands-on tours, field trips, summer camps, adult education programs, and more.

Our interns will experience many facets of museum management and non-profit administration. We value our interns and go the extra mile to make sure you receive a learning experience that fits your career goals.

Description

The Wornall/Majors House Museums is seeking one individual to work with our field trip and summer camp program as an unpaid intern, to transition into a paid position of Summer Camp Director. Our Educational Outreach Intern is responsible for developing new and strengthening existing relationships with local schools and community groups to bring classrooms to the Wornall and Majors Houses for spring field trips. Building on their work with educational field trips, the intern will also assist in developing our Summer Camp curriculum, registration, and marketing. A successful intern will then transition into Summer Camp Director for the summer season and is eligible for a stipend for their work with the camp program.

Responsibilities

* Foster new and existing relationships with private and public schools to bring spring field trips to the Wornall and Majors House.
* Research and reach out to community groups, such as Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops.
* Schedule field trips, handle logistical details and recommend activities to incoming schools.
* Attend and assist with field trips, as schedule permits.
* Develop Summer Camp curriculum, including but not limited to scheduling presenters, developing new activities, familiarizing themselves with existing activities, and researching new curriculum strategies.
* Assist in the management of Summer Camp registration materials, communication with parents, and seeking out marketing opportunities.
* Serve as Summer Camp Director through the summer of 2017, managing all day-to-day operations of the Museums’ Summer Camp program, which will include at least two sessions of week-long camp, and two-four sessions of day camp.
* Manage and delegate responsibilities to one-two Camp Assistants as well as multiple Junior Volunteers (aged 12+) for the duration of camp.
* Other administrative tasks as assigned.

Requirements

* Must be available through June-July for all camp-related activities: two sessions of week-long camp (M-F, 8AM-5PM) and two-four sessions of day camps (one day per session, 8AM-5PM).
* Good people skills, including comfort in speaking to a group and managing others.
* Good time management skills when creating and adhering to a schedule, with the ability to be flexible if needed.
* Must pass an NCSI background check.
* CPR/First Aid certified, or willing to obtain certification, paid for by Wornall/Majors.
* Past experience with children preferred.
* Background or interest in education, history, recreation management, or non-profit management preferred.

Details
The position of Educational Outreach Intern begins in January/February and ends in May (start date flexible). This portion of the internship is unpaid. 5-10 hours per week.

This position will transition into Summer Camp Director for June-July, eligible for a stipend of $1200. Half of the stipend will be paid at the start of the first Summer Camp session, with the last half payable upon successful completion of the final session. Approximately 100-125 hours expected in June-July, corresponding with camp sessions.

To apply, please submit your resume and cover letter to Leah Palmer at administrator@wornallmajors.org

Levels of Control

Today I would like to begin sharing the process for creating a finding aid. A finding aid is an index or description of a collection’s arrangement and contents created for researchers so they can determine whether or not a collection is worth their time. Before I describe the process of writing a finding aid, it is necessary to first explain the collection’s arrangement, which is usually described in a finding aid.

The contents of a collection have various levels of control, meaning there are various ways a collection can be grouped. The broadest grouping is the collection level, which for my collection was the Michael Davis Papers. The second broadest classification is the series level. At this level, records are organized based on their similarities in topics, functions, or document types. This is often used to divide larger collections with many boxes into manageable segments. Since the Michael Davis Papers fit into a single box, there was only one series level. A narrower grouping is the file unit or folder level which can be organized alphabetically, chronologically, topically, or by document type. For the Michael Davis Papers, the folders were separated primarily by organization. For instance, materials from the American Medical Association were in a different folder than materials from the Committee for the Nation’s Health. The narrowest level of description and arrangement is the item level, which can be arranged chronologically or alphabetically. This level consists of the individual materials in the folders. Many finding aids don’t describe on this level of detail because of a lack of time, resources, and practicality.

My finding aid described the Michael Davis Papers on each of these levels except for the item level. The descriptions varied in detail and content, depending on whether I was writing about the collection, series, or folder levels. Next time, I will go into the writing process and explain some of the content I was fortunate enough to work with.

Indians vs Cubs

Tonight is Game 6 of the World Series, and everybody is in a frenzy. Both the Indians and Cubs look to end long title droughts and make history at the same time. The Indians hold a three games to two lead on the Cubs. So far the series has been exciting and fun to watch. Watching the game Sunday I could only think about the two teams in a different setting. Both the Indians and Cubs were two of the first major league teams to bring up Negro League ball players. The Indians followed the Dodgers and brought up Larry Doby just months after Jackie Robinson. A year later they included arguably the greatest pitcher ever Satchel Paige . The Cubs then signed Ernie Banks in 1953. The three men would go on to make these teams better and establish Hall of Fame careers for themselves in the process.

Larry Doby was a young man when the Newark Eagles signed him to their ball club. Doby, just 17 at the time was a all around athlete playing baseball, basketball, and football. Doby was a major component to the Eagles. The fielder help win the 1946 World Series against the Kansas City Monarchs, and showed that youth meant nothing in this game for it was all about skills. Bill Veeck of the Indians was looking to bring a guy to the majors since 1942, and in 1947 he granted his desires. Doby earned a starting position in center field and established himself as a true ballplayer. He and Jackie Robinson kept in contact during their transition to encourage each other. Doby went on to becoming a Hall of Famer and a history maker. Doby was the first black man to be signed in the American League of baseball. Doby was a 7x All Star, World Series Champion, and 2x AL RBI Leader. His number 14 is retired in the Indians stadium.

Unlike Doby Satchel Paige was a lot older in 1947. Paige who had played in the Negro Leagues since the late 20s was already a Hall of Famer to most. Paige is regarded as the best player in Negro League history. His 6 foot 4 frame helped him on the mound day in and day out. While barn storming, Joe DiMaggio said that Paige was toughest pitcher he had ever played against. Having said all of this no one wanted to take the chance on signing him to a Major League deal. By the time Bill Veeck looked to bring Satch up he was a 44 year old man. 44 years is old in sports but it didn’t slow Paige down. Paige earned a 6-1 record in his inaugural year with the team and posted a 2.38 ERA. The combination of Paige and Doby help the Indians win the World Series in 1948. Paige went on to play until his 50’s. He is credited for being the first black ball player to be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.

Ernie Banks would follow Robinson, Doby, and Campanella. Ernie Banks played for the Kansas Monarchs where he earned a .347 batting average in 1953. That same year the Chicago Cubs called his name to join the team. Banks had an outstanding career with the Cubs, playing their for 17 years, earning 11 all star appearances, 2 NL MVPs hitting 500 homeruns, and earning the nickaname “Mr. Cub” . Banks had such a impact on the team that their is a statue outside Wrigley in his honor. Ernie Banks unfortunately passed away last year. One could only imagine the joy he would’ve had if he could see the Cubs in the Fall Classic.

The Cubs and Indians organization are who they are today because of these great men. They brought a new way to play the game , and helped their teams in the process. As we watch the World Series let’s remember Satch, Doby, and Mr. Cub. Not only were these men heros in their day but they are still to this day. They broke the barriers for today’s Cubs and Indians players so that they could enjoy the game for what it is.

 

Reprocessing a Manuscript Collection

At the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum archives, one of an archivist’s primary jobs is the processing of collections. There aren’t many new collections being donated to the Truman Library anymore, however, archivists are constantly reprocessing old collections in order to make them more accessible and to preserve their contents. I recently had the chance to reprocess a manuscript collection, the Michael M. Davis Papers.

I had nothing to do with arranging the collection, which had already been arranged, and therefore skipped steps that would normally occur during processing, such as researching and surveying the collection or enacting a processing plan. My first task was to stamp every document page with a stamp to signify the Truman Library’s ownership. I believe this is done to protect the collection from theft. I then began reprocessing the collection by focusing on preservation methods. This can be arduous, but also very crucial. I carefully examined every page for major tears, rusty staples, acidic paper, and folded pages. I replaced rusty staples with new ones or paperclips and unfolded pages that were folded. The next step was to photocopy original documents with tears and acidic pages and replace them with the photocopies. The damaged originals are stored in a parallel folder for preservation. I won’t go into every detail for determining which documents need to be photocopied and replaced, but they are numerous and can make your head spin. Every time I became confident that I had mastered the preservation methods, I would either discover a mistake or learn about a new rule I was unaware of. It took over ten hours to finish preserving a single box, which demonstrates how much work is devoted to preservation. My final task was to write the finding aid for the collection, which I look forward to sharing next time.

Link

On October 6, 2006 the great Buck O’Neil passed away. Buck was a pillar in the Kansas City community and was one of Negro League baseball’s best products. Now ten years later, Kansas City law officials , MoDot, and the Negro League Museum decided to honor the man by naming a bridge after him. The bridge is located on highway 169 crossing over the Missouri River. This was known as the “Broadway Bridge” but now its name is the John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil memorial bridge. As I sat at the ceremony I thought about the legacy and impact Mr. O’Neil had on the different people in this community and the baseball community. People from all walks of life came and spoke on his behalf. Politicians, former Major League players, community activist, and writers all spoke candid and respectfully on Mr. O’Neil’s behalf. Many felt remorse that Buck was never inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame. Most of the people were older in age so they remembered Buck. I’ve only read books and heard his name come up in Negro League baseball conversation. After the ceremony I took it upon myself to look up Buck O’Neil and learn more about him.

John Jordan O’Neil was born in Carabelle Florida on November 13, 1911. Growing up in the rural South O’Neil lived through the racial caste Jim Crow system. Because of the racial laws of the South Buck was denied high school education in his town so he went to go live with a uncle in Jacksonville where he could attend school. Buck attended high school and even took a few college courses during his years in Jacksonville. Buck found a love for baseball at a young age. In 1934, he stated playing semi-professional ball where they “barnstormed” against other major league teams in exhibition games. Buck played well and in 1937 he was signed to the Negro League Memphis Red Sox.  A year after playing with the Red Sox he was signed to play for the Kansas City Monarchs. From 1937-1955 Buck had a career .288 batting average and five .300 plus batting seasons. He was selected to four East vs West Negro League All-Star games and he played in two Negro World Series winning one in 1942. Buck served in the Navy in World II from 1943-45.

Buck went on to become the manager for the Kansas City Monarchs for eight seasons, winning two league titles. After the Negro Leagues ended Buck became the first African American scout for a major league team. He was a scout for the Chicago Cubs where he sought out lots of great talent. In 1962, O’Neil became the first African American manager in the Major Leagues. He is credited with signing Hall of Fame Lou Brock to his first signing deal. O’Neil is also credited with the career of Ernie Banks. After Buck’s Cubs tenure he became a scout for the Royals and soon retired from the game. Buck is one of the founders of the Negro League Baseball Museum which opened in 1990. His first hand experience in the league gives the museum its true nature of the league. Buck is remembered as a great baseball player and manager but he’s also remembered as a statesman of Negro League baseball and a great man of the people. He deserves this honor and we should continue to have events and memorials in his honor.

Busy, Busy, Busy

It’s been a busy two weeks at the American Royal. The week of September 19th we welcomed over 5,600 students and teachers to our School Tours and Youth Rodeo event and that Saturday we held a standing-room-only ProRodeo. That week a lot of my time was spent on School Tours acting as a lead for registration and welcome.

Last week I spent most of my time debriefing School Tours. Answering questions like what improvements can be made for next year? How did we handle certain situations? What adjustments did we make as the week went on? Now that the biggest education event of the year is over, I can really focus on reworking our Royal Scholar application process.

This week I will be composing the actual application and figuring out what will be the best format. Should it be a fillable PDF document or should we use an online based form through Formstack. Many of our applicants will be familiar with a web-based application, but we are limited in how many questions we can ask and what kind of questions we can ask.