Alison Stankrauff, Joseph Sipocz, And George Garner 2015-05-22 12:40:16
The St. Joseph County Public Library (SJCPL) in South Bend, Indiana, and Indiana University South Bend (IUSB) Archives have significant original primary sources that tell the story of African Americans in St. Joseph County. Together, these collections provide a stronger, more complete documentation of this history than any can tell alone. To present a unified digital collection online for researchers and the general public—and to offer the opportunity for the community to add complementary materials in the future—we opted to digitize documents, photographs, and newspapers and launch a website together. Digitizing the materials provides greater access to our collections, while simultaneously allowing preservation and storage of the original documents. Launching Michiana Memory The initial catalyst for the collaboration between SJCPL and IUSB came about in early 2014 when the SJCPL administration approved a Local and Family History Services staff request for a hosted subscription to CONTENTdm. By April of that year, Joseph Sipocz and the Local and Family History Services staff had learned the basics of creating digital objects, roughed out collection ideas, and prepared scanning and metadata guidelines. SJCPL Librarian Barbara Wallace, with Library Assistant Greta Fisher, took the lead in preparing metadata templates, mapping out content workflows, and documenting best practice scanning guidelines. The first items were ready for uploading in April, and on August 1 the site formally launched with a dedicated URL (http://michianamemory.sjcpl.org/) and more than two hundred compound objects ready for viewing. Taking a cue from Indiana Memory—a collaborative effort to provide access to primary sources relating to Indiana’s history and culture—the site was named Michiana Memory. Michiana is the St. Joseph River basin, and includes three counties in Indiana and two counties in Michigan. Michiana Memory includes the following collections: St. Joseph County Maps & Atlases, Civil Rights and African American History, Arts and Architecture, Postcards, High School Yearbooks, Local History, and Colfax and the Civil War. Sipocz wanted to fill out the Civil Rights and African American History collection and reached out to IUSB Archivist Alison Stankrauff and Tours and Collections Coordinator George Garner at the Civil Rights Heritage Center at the Natatorium to collaborate on a unified collection. To fund the collaboration, we applied for a 2014 LSTA Indiana Memory Digitization Grant. The Technical Plan and Usage Upon approval of the LSTA Memory Digitization Grant, we used the $10,000 in grant money to hire three part-time student grant workers. The grant workers scanned the materials, created master images, cropped the images, and derived JPEG files for uploading into CONTENTdm. They began scanning at the start of fall semester 2014, and the work will be completed before the end of June 2015. Stankrauff administered the grant and supervised the student workers, Sipocz oversaw the process of working with CONTENTdm, and Garner worked with the IUSB archival collections and coordinated plans for the formal collection launch at the center. SJCPL gathers usage data for Michiana Memory. Google Analytics tracks page views, sessions, and items shared, printed, or downloaded. We are also documenting collection-level usage statistics and storage and item counts through the CONTENTdm software. By mid-November the site was available through Indiana Memory and submitted for inclusion in the Digital Public Library of America. The Civil Rights and African American History Collection At the end of February 2015, with scanning nearly complete and more than half of the objects uploaded, the collection included 228 compound objects with 1,100 pages of content. The materials in the Civil Rights and African American History Collection tell the story of the African American community in St. Joseph County. Our earliest title is Review of the South Bend Fugitive Slave Case, Tried in 1849, ’50, and ’51. Another title, The Negro in South Bend from 1922, serves as an excellent summary to that point, coming on the crest of the Great Migration, as waves of African Americans traveled north looking for peace and prosperity. The collection also features publications and photographs from local clubs and organizations that illustrate the African Americans’ lives in the county, as well as significant archival collections from community Civil Rights leaders. The database also will include The Reformer, an African American newspaper that was published from 1967 until the end of 1971. It covers the transition as the Civil Rights 1960s gave way to the 1970s era of school reorganizations and community activism. It also provides a unique opportunity to let the community tell its own story. The Collection Launch Events We celebrated the formal collection launch at IUSB’s Natatorium—a part of the Civil Rights Heritage Center—on February 3. Garner worked on press releases and served as master of ceremonies for our events. Speaker Dr. Nicole Etcheson, Alexander M. Bracken Professor of History from Ball State University, presented highlights from her research on African American soldiers during the Civil War and Indiana’s attitudes toward abolition, fugitive slave laws, and the Emancipation Proclamation. The lecture was followed by an evening reception. At least sixty attendees braved the snow and cold to hear speakers, which included administrators from both SJCPL and IUSB, key members of the local African American community, and Etcheson. Before the program, attendees took the opportunity to explore the Civil Rights and African American History collection bookmarked on seven laptops. With guidance from us, the public eagerly searched the database and identified friends, family, and community leaders among the pages. In addition, there has been a great amount of publicity for the project. We appeared on Experience Michiana, a show on a public television station (WNIT) that focuses on local events. The South Bend Tribune and the IUSB student newspaper, The Preface, have interviewed us and featured the reception and the Michiana Memory site. The project also has been featured in articles, including SAA’s Archivists and Archives of Color Roundtable newsletter, Indiana Genealogical Society’s Indiana Genealogist, and the South Bend Area Genealogical Society’s newsletter. * * * We have applied for a 2015 LSTA grant through IMLS to continue the work of this project, and we’re committed to making this as representative and useful a resource as it can be. The Reverend Buford Gordon wrote a famous sermon titled The Quest of Restless Souls. SJCPL has the only known original 1922 printing of it, and now it can be shared with the world.
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