You will be happy, very happy indeed, to know that the John B. Gage Audio Omeka site is finally completed. As I write this, I am imagining thunderous applause filling up the room. I look up, just like John Gage did at his inauguration ceremony of 1940, and I see the people on the balcony rising to their feet. They are smiling, laughing, hollering . . . everything is in slow motion.
They are cheering for me and you, John Gage. Their cheers, caught by the KMBC microphone, set in vinyl, saved by you and your family over the years, saved by the Marr Sound Archives, and now finding a new life in the digital platform of Roy Rosenzweig’s Omeka site. The journey is confounding, and it is surely not over.
As you navigate the site there are a couple things to keep in mind. These audio samplings are mere samplings and represent a much vaster collection of recordings that you can find at the Marr Sound Archives. While ironing has been attempted, there are still some wrinkles within the site most obvious of which is the fact that clicking on the John B. Gage picture at the top of the page will take one back to the UMKC University site. Try to stay within the lines of navigation located on the right. Also, I know I can include more text for better context.
Otherwise, it has been fun. Let me know what you think! I will look for you at the American Royal, standing next to Ruth Hussey eating barbeque.
Hello friends. I realize that I never explained the extensive planning process I went through for the John B. Gage Omeka site. Before I created an account, I caught wind that I was supposed to draw out a map of how I wanted to organize the materials of my “exhibit.” Because Omeka is geared towards archivists, librarians, and historians, the idea of an exhibit is an important one, as the site encourages people to approach it as they would a room with walls. This method of visualization helps create a concrete system of organization. After compiling a list of audio files, potential photographs, and commentary, I drew out this diagram of how I envisioned the site looking:
I have continued to stay pretty true to my original conception, but like I mentioned in my last post, I have severely cut down on the amount of audio I will feature. Taking the time to envision the site before I started uploading a bunch of files has really helped me to stay focused. It can be a little daunting when one is suddenly immersed in twenty, thirty, forty items that all require their unique bibliographic and metadata information. These pictures, although rough, were important to lessening the amount of stress I experienced while creating my beautiful exhibit. More to come soon!
Well, well, well…I have been working with Omeka for a couple weeks now and I am starting to get the hang of it. Omeka allows one to get as deep, or as surface-level, as they like, and with my lack of html skills, I am barely scratching the surface. This is okay though, because despite my lackluster skills, I am still able to create a pretty slick and user-friendly site. I have mostly been learning through online video tutorials, as well as good old-fashioned trial and error. I was pleased when I was able to utilize my dormant Photoshop skills in creating a homepage image. This is what I came up with.
What do you think? The picture is courtesy of Colin Gage, John B. Gage’s grandson, and the font was discovered online at one of the many free font junctions. It is called Urania Czech and transports one directly to the 1940s…I have realized that I did not need as many sound clips as I originally planned. I am using about 20 one-minute clips out of the 40 original ones I had created. It just made more sense, and I did not want to overwhelm you, my time-conscious cyberspace aficionado and Kansas City political history audio treasure hunter. Yes, I wanted to go light on you. I imagine the next time I post, I will have the site up and running. Cross your fingers! I have included an advertisement audio clip that I will not be using in the John B. Gage Omeka site, but that I get a kick out of. Modern Design! Enjoy!
Now that the archiving process of the John B. Gage collection is complete, and digital audio files have been made and stored on Missouri University’s server, it is time to move on to a new phase of the project—the public history phase.
Using a free and open source site called Omeka, I will be showcasing the John B. Gage collection online. Omeka is a product of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media and it encourages historians, scholars, archivists, and librarians to publish their work with ease. The product and the ideas behind it are pretty incredible, and I am excited to discover its possibilities!
My current task, and what I have been working on for the past week or so, is to pinpoint the sound clips that will be the most intriguing and representative of the collection. Considering the hours upon hours of material, this is a bit overwhelming. It is slowly coming together, though, and I hope to be uploading material onto the Omeka site very soon.
“Aerial View of City from City Hall, 1942” – Image is from the L.P. Cookingham Photo Collection at LaBudde Special Collections
In addition to the original collection, I will be supplementing the material with pertinent sound bytes from the Arthur B. Church KMBC collection, as well as including images taken mostly from the LaBudde Special Collections at UMKC. This project should give researchers a good taste of what audio they can find on John B. Gage, while also giving casual explorers an interesting insight into Kansas City history.
The first items that got digitized and handed back to me were two cassette tapes entitled “Recollections.” Recorded in the 1960s, “Recollections” consists of an elderly John Gage recalling his childhood and family life in Kansas City. Apparently read from a manuscript, Gage’s lawyer-like delivery conjures up scenes of Civil War era Kansas City and the lively development of the early metropolis. It was fascinating to hear about Colonel Thomas H. Swope, guerrilla warfare, and the wild celebrations that occurred upon the completion of the Missouri-Pacific railroad and the Hannibal Bridge connection. Here is an audio clip from the story Gage’s father told him about the completion of the Missouri-Pacific railroad.
Equipped with a laptop, notebook, and headphones, I have immersed myself in the fascinating stories of “Recollections.” The goal of the finding aid I am creating is to strike a balance between enough information and too much information. This balance will enable researchers, and anyone else who may be interested, to assess the importance of the audio without having to listen all the way through. In the meantime, Marr Archives will store the hard copies of the John B. Gage collection, while the digital archival copies will be stored in the larger Missouri University server.
My name is Kelly Hangauer. I am a senior at UMKC and I will be graduating with a History B.A. and German Studies minor in May 2015. This semester I am embarking on an archiving internship that will focus on the John B. Gage collection. So you know, John Gage was the mayor of Kansas City from 1940-1946 and was a part of the reform movement that “cleaned up” local government after years of economic and political misrule under Tom Pendergast. Housed in the Marr Sound Archives, Gage’s collection of records, cassettes, and reel-to-reel tape will hopefully offer greater insight into this important time in Kansas City history.
The second I walked into the Marr Sound Archives, I knew I had made the right decision. Inconspicuously placed in the bottom floor of the Miller Nichols Library, the Marr Archives is a gold mine; its contents include hundreds of thousands of recordings of popular and obscure music, government programs, radio broadcasts, oral histories…the list goes on.
My first task was to organize, label, and systematize the random collection of records that were in John B. Gage’s box. Some of these records included glass disks that were beginning to weather, along with 6 and 10 inch records that were lacking identification. Using Excel, I set up an organizational process from which the records could be digitized. Numbers were assigned, descriptions were made, and fresh new sleeves were marked.
The mysterious records were then transformed into a digital format. Scott, the sound engineer, let me observe his process. His space is reminiscent of a recording studio and contains multiple types of reel-to-reel players and record players. After finding the appropriate stylus, Scott let the records roll as we discussed the sonic surprises he has encountered over the years.
Now that the collection is getting organized, the next step will be to listen.