By Chad King
The Truman Library acquires many of their documents and artifacts as gifts from individuals and organizations. Some donations have come in the form of scrapbooks that admirers of President Truman kept over the years. I have been assigned to preserve their contents and make them a part of the Truman Scrapbook collection. Newspaper clippings make up a large portion of all of the scrapbooks I have worked with so far. While newspaper articles are widely available, the scrapbooks can tell an unintended story to a researcher that goes well past its contents. For example: One scrapbook contained clippings reporting on the death of Franklin Roosevelt and articles retrospectively questioning his health. This could lead one to assume that the creator of this scrapbook was equally suspicious of FDR’s health leading up until his death. Due to their corrosive nature of newspaper, and its wide availability (microfilm, etc.), I had each clipping scanned for preservation, and if the clip wasn’t acid free I had to be disposed. If this isn’t done, it could risk damaging other items as seen below.
By Chad King
Speaking of Scrapbooks, I got to work with a new one today that was very interesting. To my surprise, I discovered that the museum has a large photo collection of his 1948 presidential campaign. I was assigned to scan and identify many images from this collection to make available online. Arguably one of the greatest upsets in electoral history, President Truman ended up defeating his opponent Governor Thomas Dewey against heavy odds. The photos in the scrapbook reveal in many ways how Truman made his victory possible. Truman traveled all across the United States and visited towns and cities that were not used to seeing a presidential candidate, and his appearances attracted large crowds. The constant traveling and campaigning enabled Truman to connect with the people and it assuredly helped seal their vote. Many of the photos were just pictures of ordinary people gathering to see the president. The photos assembled in this collection can let a person see what Truman saw with his own eyes as he was on the campaign trail.
By Chad King
The Truman Library does more than archival work. It’s also a museum that houses permanent and temporary exhibits viewable to the public. Exhibits are a way to make history come alive to an audience, in which they can see firsthand the artifacts used by Truman or his family during their lifetime. The museum will oftentimes bring in temporary collections that examine other historical periods that may fall outside of the Truman era. Just recently, the museum opened their new exhibit called: “Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Pin Collection.” Madeleine Albright served as the first female Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, and she was known for the pins she would wear on her lapels. The Library’s website states that she wore the pins “to communicate a message or a mood during her diplomatic tenure.” More information on this temporary exhibit can be found here.
By Chad King
Today I scanned a small portion of a larger collection of President Truman’s papers. This collection consisted of Truman’s speeches from his first senate campaign of 1934. At first glance, the collection seemed like a bunch of typed copies of his speeches, but as I glanced through the collection, I found that Truman edited many of them with his own hand. This showed that Truman was hands-on in the editing process and has a strong say in what information he felt was important to the electorate. At one point, Truman completely rewrote the conclusion to a speech before it was delivered to the public as seen below.
By Autumn Neal
In my last two posts I talked about the issues I ran into trying to make a video and navigating Apple products as a PC user. Over the past couple months, though, I have found a lot of things about my iPhone that I love and am so grateful to have discovered. One of those things is the amazing voice to text feature. Sometimes it seems like I can’t type fast enough before the great idea that I had disappears. One day I was messing around with my phone while working on the main text for the Edgar Snow Project and ended up using the voice to text feature to copy some quotes into Google Docs. Then I copied the text from my PC’s browser and pasted it into Word. It made the process so much easier. Let’s be honest though, the technology is not perfect and comes up with some very strange things. In one sentence, it wrote out “where I was” as “Rose”. Maybe I slur. The feature was good for this project because I was copying some quotes from Edgar Snow’s memoir to include in the exhibit. It is pretty difficult to type and hold a book open at the same time, so being able to simply read the passage and then use copy and paste saved me from a lot of frustration. It seems simple but over the past month I have used it for almost all of my writing projects. I just wish I had discovered it sooner than two months before graduation. There’s always Grad School.
By Autumn Neal
I may be late to the party on this one, but it is possible to get iMovie (or any new app) if you are running an older iOS. All you have to do is buy it from a different device and then download the app from “purchased apps”. As I said before, I am a PC user so this information may be common knowledge to Mac users, but I didn’t know this was possible and definitely did not want to update my old iPad to iOS8. As soon as I solved that issue, I was finally able to start some real work on the Edgar Snow Project introduction video. It was surprisingly easy to make a nice looking video and even easier to add and edit an audio track. I’ve never used iMovie and without this internship it may have been a while until I did. I feel more confident now that I have this experience because I think small abilities like this make you more marketable. I follow a lot of institutions on Twitter and Facebook and realize that social media and technology are more important than ever in public history and museum world. The ability to make simple videos goes far beyond this project and can be applied in a variety of career situations.
By Autumn R. Neal
This week I want to talk about the differences between academic writing and writing for a website or exhibit. I feel like this has one of the most difficult parts of this internship. The past four years of my education have given me a habit of writing in a certain way which includes more formal language, quotations, and citations. Writing for this website is different because I’m not riding for a professor to read a paper. Instead, I’m writing for an audience who may not have any scholarly interests on the topic. This means that I had to get rid of all the citations and quotations and use different language that is not so academic and rigid. The text has to read more like a novel instead of an essay and has to be interesting for someone who doesn’t want to sit down and read an academic paper.
Like I said, my education so far has taught me to write in a certain way and this project has challenged me to change how I write. I kept thinking in terms of introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions. I really needed to be focusing on a narrative and telling a story. This is especially difficult for the script for a video that’s going to play at the beginning of the website. I need to give an overview of Snow’s life in a matter of minutes in a video that would just grab someone’s interest enough to make them want to go browse the site. It has been challenging trying to decide which things to discuss in the video and how to discuss them. I imagine that this is one of the challenges a lot of people face when they change from academic work to public history work. On the other hand, I am always up for something that is going to make me work so it has been a lot of fun trying to figure out how to speak to a different audience.
By Autumn Neal
The Edgar Snow Symposium was held here in Kansas City the weekend of October 16-18. The initial goal was to launch edgarsnowproject.org at the symposium so I aimed to have it completed by October 16th. I did the final edits the night of the 15th and the site was presented on the 17th. I didn’t attend the symposium so, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see any reactions to it.
That’s where this project is different from anything else that I’ve done in my academic career. The papers that I’ve written have only been seen by the faculty or GTA’s who were in charge of the course or other classmates in cases where you post to a forum. This project isn’t just something that was going to be read, graded, and then put away to be forgotten about. This is a website that is going to be online forever or at least it will be available for people to see a lot longer than, say, a term paper would be. I felt a lot of pressure to create a quality product because I knew that a lot of people were going to be seeing the site and that some of these people were going to know a lot of things about Edgar Snow and his life.
I see this as a positive challenge though, because now I have experience creating something that fits into the bigger picture of my career as opposed to just receiving a grade for a course. I feel like I have a better understanding of what it will be like once I start working in my career. Knowing that other people will be seeing your work forces you to work in a different way. Because of this, I now think that all students should do at least one internship so that they can see what it’s like to know that your work will be seen by a wider audience.