Word of the Week: orphan work

 

 

n. An orphan work is still in copyright but the work’s creator or their representative cannot be found. In this case, digitizing can be iffy because a relative might come knocking and wondering why you are sharing their copyrighted materials. However, some universities agreed to make orphan works available, saying that fair use of orphan works will help scholars and the public.

 

 

Men of Soul: W.E.B. Du Bois and Charles Eastman

This is a photo of Charles Eastman's "Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains," one of the many literary works by Charles Eastman in Amherst's Kim Wait-Eisenberg Collection in Archives and Special Collections.
This is a photo of Charles Eastman’s “Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains,” one of the many literary works by Charles Eastman in Amherst’s Kim Wait-Eisenberg Collection in Archives and Special Collections.

The Kim-Wait Eisenberg Collection, the newest component of Amherst College’s Archives and Special Collections, is indeed a comprehensive collection of literary works from the Native American past, admirable for both its chronological and thematic breadth. However, when we walk into a collection of Native American books, what do we expect to find? In the American imagination, Native American history and experiences in the United States have centered so deeply on the relationship between Native American people and European settlers. This Eurocentric focus can come at the expense of other considerations in Native American Studies, such as the historic relationships between Native Americans and other ethnic minorities.

Continue reading Men of Soul: W.E.B. Du Bois and Charles Eastman

Maps on Maps on Maps

Out of the different forms of data visualization that my fellow interns and I have begun to explore, geographic information systems (GIS) or mapping tools have remained one of the most interesting options to me. And for good reason. First off, as a tool for displaying information, maps and mapped data in general begin to shape a story about your data. Put another way, your data really has a chance to saying something once it’s been mapped. For example, trends and outliers within lotted publication addresses from pre-20th century Native American books will reveal themselves and because you’re looking at an image/display, perhaps an interactive (clickable, zoomable) one, that info sticks in your brain more. And we’re all about that here. Continue reading Maps on Maps on Maps

Meeting with the Antiquarian Fellows

   This week the DS interns met with five of the AAS (that’s American Antiquarian Society) Fellows, who are here to dip into the Kim-Wait Eisenberg collection. Each fellow’s focus ranges from more recent books in the collection to works from the 1820s by William Apess (who changed the spelling of his surname from “Apes”). Their consensus on the KWcollection is that the KWE is one of the largest collections of its kind, and as some of the first eyes looking it over for potential scholarship, we should feel free to use its size (approximately 1,300 volumes) to talk about Native American literature as a whole.

AAS american antiquarian society logo

   Our project might begin with the literature that escapes simplified timelines of Native literature. While some scholars stillpoint to the watershed in Native literature following House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday (1968), the AAS fellows pointed to other turning points in Native authorship and Native involvement in printed material, both in the 1800s and the 1920s. Written works by Native writers stand for a history that predates the admittedly Pulitzer-Prize-winning House Made of Dawn, something that the modern-day community can use to situate narratives of Native literature. While we begin to focus our internship on project proposals, one of our goals will be to represent the breadth and variety of works by Native writers since our two-hundred-and-forty-three year old printing of a speech by Samson Occom.

dawn-208279

The Strengths and Limits of “Google Squids”

The beginning of this week, I headed to the nearby University of Massachusetts Amherst for a NERCOMP conference! I know it sounds like NERD-COMP! To be fair, we were all kind of geeking out about data and other techie stuff all day though…Anyway, during the data visualization workshop that we attended, I spent a good chunk of the exploratory “sandbox” period evaluating Google Fusion tables. What’s really cool about Google Fusion Tables is that you can take data from spreadsheet columns or CSV files, and create quick visualizations. In particular, I tackled the Network Graph feature. According to Google, “this type of visualization illuminates relationships between entities. Entities are displayed as round nodes and lines show the relationships between them.”

Continue reading The Strengths and Limits of “Google Squids”

Word of the Week: ingest

 

vb. to take in, to absorb

In libraries and archives, this verb does duty far past the usual descriptions of victuals. For example, you might hear someone say some records need to be “ingested into the collection” without a trace of hilarity.

 
It makes me wonder how useful this word might be in other, broader senses – “I want to ingest this vocabulary before I leave for Brazil.”

 

 

Tech + Text

 

What makes a DH/DS project work or splutter out depends partly on the wedding of digital tool and project materials. With the wrong combination, the whole project can go awry. This week we took the time to consider how the KWE Native American book collection might cooperate with one of the tools we’ve “sandboxed” to get a feel for.

  • ArcGIS. After completing a four-day, twelve-hour workshop in ArcGIS, we got a feel for the capabilities of importing census data, using different map projections, and layering on features like rivers or elevation data. In theory, this could provide a way to look at the KWE, perhaps using locales mentioned in the texts or mapping out the publishing houses over the decades. Continue reading Tech + Text

How in the World?

How do we, everyone working on this project, talk about the KWE Native American books collection as a whole? What sort of project and what kind of tools could make something that speaks to the whole collection? For some reason, I’m particularly interested in broad questions of place concerning these Native American books- How for instance would we present geographic- info on where these authors are from or where their books were published-in a meaningful and accessible way?

Continue reading How in the World?

The C Word

It’s my first week or so as an intern with the digital scholarship program and I’m already confused. And it’s not just because I’m still learning how digitization software works, or what exactly that mysterious word metadata means, or even how I’m supposed to answer the question what is the digital humanities? Maybe more so than confused, I’m conflicted. I’m conflicted because of the position that I’m in, at the time that I’m in it.

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Word of the Week: 245

In the language of libraries, MARC, 245 is the code for a title.

So if you’re looking through MARC records, full of indecipherable numbers and their corresponding entries, you might see 245 A wrinkle in time

MARC was created in the ’60s (“Machine Readable Coding) so it is quite dated nowadays, but it sticks around because it’s still doing the trick for libraries and has been the standard in the US since the ’70s.