Interactive Houston Folk Music Venue Story Map

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The Woodson now has a new addition to our Story Maps. We’ve used Esri’s ArcGIS software in conjunction with their Story Map application to create a map that follows the growth and decline of Houston’s folk music scene. Included are photographs of venues, posters, video clips of people describing the places, and some live audio.

If you haven’t checked out our Story Maps on U.S. Civil War Narratives and Journals and Diaries, you are in for a visual treat.

Detritus

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To get our collections processed, we have to remove a lot of stuff. That includes switching out folders and removing rusty staples, all binder clips, paper clips, and sticky notes. Trevor, one of our summer student archivists, has been processing  the City of Bellaire historical records. Over the course of one day, he amassed this amount of material to either be recycled or thrown in the trash. At least, it’s colorful.

Spare Albums and Deserved Recognition

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A recent university archival collection yielded a large amount of LPs. Sadly, many of these are multiple copies. We have kept two for ourselves and will eventually digitize them. We’d like to offer the rest to you for free. Please email slg4@rice.edu if you are interested.

In other news, our own Amanda Focke won the Society of Southwest Archivists Distinguished Service Award. She is a long serving member, who has been active on a variety of committees, served as president, and is currently a board member. Congrats to her on such a well-deserved honor.

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Upcoming Projects

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2017 was an incredibly busy year for the Woodson. It included completing an inventory of all of our rare books, creating new online and physical exhibits, growing our fine arts and Jewish history collections, exhibiting the history of Camp Logan, placing the KTRU Rice Radio archive online, co-hosting the Houston Folk Music Archive Celebration with the Friends of Fondren Library, participating in the Oh Project collection, and helping our Fondren Fellow discover and map the hidden bits of information in our Civil War diaries.

Here’s some of what’s coming up in 2018:

  • We’re continuing our participation in the OSSArcFlow project to improve our digital preservation workflows and discoverability.
  • We’re going to be the home base for the Harvey Memories Project. This multi-institutional group will working to document the stories, images, audio, and video related to Hurricane Harvey. We will be taking the lead in digitally preserving any donated items.
  • We will be making new collections available for research from Audrey Jones Beck, Brochstein, Inc., and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston [CAMH].
  • We’ve continued to work with the Chao Center and are expecting new additions and improvements to the Houston Asian American Archive website.
  • Starting last year, we began working on our legacy media backlog. Over the past few months, the old floppies and zip disks have been preserved. Soon, our finding aids will contain descriptions of the files contained on that media.

As we complete some of the projects above and add new ones, we’ll update you on the results. Here’s to a great 2018.

Primary Source Literacy

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Recently, we taught primary source literacy skills to students in Sophia Hsu’s FWIS 191. Literature and Public Health. The students looked at newspaper clippings, photographs, fliers, and other pertinent documents to get  a sense of how members of the administration, faculty, and students viewed the event. They also heard the voices of some of the major players including Dr. William H. Masterson on his megaphone, Dr. Clark Read speaking his mind, and Bari Kaplan explaining events from a student perspective.

In the class, the students first considered the differences between primary and secondary sources, identified the subjectivity of the archival items on their tables, and extracted information from the items, like key players and power relationships.

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After these exercises, the groups looked at the primary source materials that they will be working on for the semester, which includes a few items from the McGovern Historical Center and the Woodson’s Encyclopédie and the Vince Bell collection.

If you are interested in us doing the same for your course, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Images used: “Rice University students and faculty protesting outdoors during Masterson presidency controversy, wearing “It Can’t Happen Here” signs.” (1969) Rice University: http://hdl.handle.net/1911/75392.

Disaster Recovery

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The Woodson Research Center and its collections on an off site suffered no damage from Hurricane Harvey. We sincerely hope that you and yours made it safely through the storm.

If you did suffer any damage, we are sorry. If you are dealing with recovering precious items or know someone who is, we have created a research guide filled with information and tutorials.

We are doing a little bit of disaster recovery of our own. Melissa Kean brought in damp materials from the United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston on Greenwillow St. We took the wet paper out of its binder and spread out the pages to dry.

Book Inventory Madness

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As a way to whip ourselves into shape, we’re scanning all of the barcodes on our more than 36,000 books.

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We scan the barcode with the wand. If the barcode works, then it is logged in the inventory. If not, we get an error message.

We want to make sure that all of our books:

  • have barcodes
  • the barcodes are linked to their corresponding record
  • find any other problem children

While the work has been a little slow, we’re moving along at a pretty good clip. We’ve also had a lot of help from Access Services.

KTRU Tuesdays: Major Milestones

Two major milestones have been reached.

A) Metadata has been created for all of the KTRU tapes including 2-track reels, cassette tapes, and DATs.

B) The finding aid has been updated with descriptions of each tape. Below is an example for one tape

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and another.

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Next, each of the files will have this metadata embedded into the WAV and MP3 files. That will happen over the next few weeks. After that, the files will be separated into those that can go online and those that will only be available for listening in the reading room. There are many more small steps to go, but the end result will be a large chunk of KTRU audio online.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress.

Freshmen in the Archives

This semester members of the Woodson have worked closely with professors who teach Freshman Writing Intensive Seminars (FWIS). It has been a great experience and a wonderful way to introduce new students to primary sources.

Amanda Focke helped with Sophia Hsu’s FWIS class, “Literature and Public Health.” Hsu’s students worked on archival research projects that culminated in multi-media group presentations and papers. In particular, the students worked with the human anatomy engravings in one of our most popular Enlightenment era rare books, Diderot’s Encyclopedie (published 1751-1766). This would have been one of the first scientific views of the human body published for a general audience. The students considered the following questions. How accurate is it? What did we know about the human body at that time?

Student looking at "The Psychiatric Bulletin"

Student looking at The Psychiatric Bulletin

Students also explored the journal known as the Psychiatric Bulletin: for the physician in general practice (1950s), full of dramatic illustrations, as well as the role of Rice Institute in the development of the artificial heart (late 1960s) as described in newspaper accounts. The students enjoyed the creative spark which using these fascinating primary sources gave to their writing tasks.

Norie Guthrie worked with two classes this semester: Burke Nixon’s “Medical Humanities: Literature, Medicine and the Practice of Empathy” and Dr. Andrew Klein’s “Popular Music and American Culture” course. Rice News did a wonderful write up about singer-songwriter Vince Bell visiting Nixon’s class.

For Dr. Klein’s class, singer-songwriter Richard Dobson spoke to the students about how he became a songwriter, his participation in Houston’s folk music scene, the craft of songwriting, and the current state of popular country music. The class also explored some of our collections from the Houston Folk Music Archive in an effort to understand how primary sources informed their ideas of this music scene.

As a final project, Dr. Klein’s students created websites about a specific scene and/or subculture. Two of the students made websites about the Houston folk scene and used a variety of primary and secondary sources in our collection. We can’t wait to see the results of their work.