Iowa Digital Library Category

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Love & war

Over on the Twitter account for the Libraries’ Civil War transcription crowdsourcing project, we’re taking a break from our Black History Month tweets to highlight some Valentine’s Day content, such as Albert Cross’s 1862 diary entry indicating a conflicted relationship with the holiday: “I wish the mail would come as this is Valentine’s Day. I am expecting some valentines though I can’t say I crave any.” By the next day, this ambivalence appears to have cleared up after the arrival of — spoiler alert! — the expected valentines from a not-so-secret admirer: “Yesterday I received two valentines whitch was very Interesting Indeed. I have a very good idea who they came from and I shall call on them in a few evenings and talk to them about the matter.”

James B. Weaver’s 1861 love letter to his wife is no less passionate for having been written on September 3rd rather than February 14th — romantic excerpt below, lovingly transcribed by our crowdsourcing volunteers:

James B. Weaver letter to wife, 1861 | Civil War Diaries and Letters

James B. Weaver letter to wife, 1861 | Civil War Diaries and Letters

…I am now writing by Candlelight, & I would be the happiest man living could I get one sweet kiss from you this night. Darling you will pardon me won’t you for writing you so much about my love for you, for I really do not feel like writing about anything else. I think of you all the time. You are constantly in my mind. O darling how much good it does my very soul to prove true to such a true woman as you are. I pledge you my word before God that I am all yours and that I would rather die at once than prove unfaithful to you. I always thought that you had more attractions for me than any woman I ever saw long yes years before I married you, but now I know you, and indeed you are tenfold more woman than I ever imagined you in my love dreams. God love you my own true, honorable, highminded wife. Darling you know that I am a man of very, very strong passions, but I pledge you my honor & my very soul before God that I am all yours, every whit. You are mine thank God. O what a [pinnacle?] love is. I am happy in loving you…

[he goes on for two more pages]

Skipping ahead a few wars, our Valentine’s slideshow linked below features a cherubic Stalin and Hitler among more familiar symbols of love:

XOXO, The Libraries: romantic artifacts from our research collections

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Dickens’ bicentenary

Self portrait with Charles Dickens, by James Louis Steg, 1964 | University of Iowa Museum of Art

Self portrait with Charles Dickens, by James Louis Steg, 1964 | University of Iowa Museum of Art

Today the University will be marking the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth with a presentation hosted by the Obermann humanities center. Along with lectures on Dickens by UI and community experts, the event will feature selections from the Libraries’ Dickensiana holdings, including some of the correspondence digitized for our Leigh Hunt Letters collection:

Charles Dickens correspondence, 1842-1870 | Leigh Hunt Letters

Charles Dickens letter to Leigh Hunt, May 24, 1844 | Leigh Hunt Letters

Charles Dickens letter to Leigh Hunt, May 24, 1844 | Leigh Hunt Letters

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‘Hawkeye’ yearbook, documenting 100 years of UI history, now online in Iowa Digital Library

The University of Iowa Libraries has recently completed a project to digitize the entire run of Hawkeye yearbooks, comprising more than 38,000 pages documenting UI history from 1892 to 1992. The digital collection, with its vast assortment of yearbook photographs and illustrations enhanced by full-text search functionality, is available at http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/yearbooks.

University Archivist David McCartney said the yearbooks are the go-to source for many, if not most, reference questions concerning twentieth century campus life. Online access makes it an even richer resource for alumni and the general public.

The yearbooks are the latest addition to the Iowa Digital Library, http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu, which features more than 450,000 digital objects created from the holdings of the UI Libraries and its campus partners. Included are illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, fine art, political cartoons, scholarly works, audio and video recordings, and more.

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DSPH Pecha-Kucha! October 26

The Digital Studio for the Public Humanities – DSPH – invites you to attend  “DSPH Pecha-Kucha!,” our first public event , on Wednesday, October 26 – from 5 to 6:30 pm at the DLS | DSPH space in the northwest corner of the The University of Iowa Main Library on the ground floor.

We’ll have a half dozen or so pecha-kucha presentations [six minute and forty second PowerPoint presentations of twenty slides displayed for twenty seconds each] showcasing a range of public digital humanities projects on campus.

We hope to have a spirited mix of faculty, staff, grads and undergrads, and community members in the house.

Following the more formal part of the event, we’ll have some hang-out time to allow for more informal public digital humanities conversation. We hope you can attend and we encourage you to invite others for whom this might be of interest.

Popcorn and pop will be served.

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Iowa Digital Library adds interactive collection of Madurese folk tales

The University of Iowa Libraries and a UI linguistics scholar have taken an important step toward preserving the culture of an often overlooked Indonesian ethnic group while at the same time opening worldwide access for students and scholars interested in delving deeper into the study of the Madurese language and culture.

William Davies, UI professor of linguistics and one of the world’s leading scholars on Madurese language, has completed the Madurese Storytellers digital collection, which features storytellers from the Island of Madura telling traditional stories along with accompanying English or Indonesian subtitles.

Davies and Surachman Dimyati, a professor at Universitas Terbuka in Jakarta and a UI alumnus, recorded native storytellers performing “carèta ra’yat Madhurâ,” traditional Madurese folk tales and historical narratives. These creation tales, tales of the introduction of Islam to the island, and love stories shed light on the historical and cultural development of the Madurese.

The Madurese are indigenous to Madura, a small island located a few miles off the northeast coast of Java, the main Indonesian island (with a population of more than 100 million.) Government census figures from 2005 put the Madurese population at roughly 7 million, while other estimates range up to 15 million. Regardless of the precise number, the Madurese language is the fourth most widely spoken language in Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world. Despite this, the Madurese language and people are not widely studied, in large part due to negative stereotyping by the ethnic majority groups in the country.

This lack of study of the Madurese and their language has left little textual material available to scholars or even to the Madurese people themselves. What exists of original Madurese folk and historical narratives are largely disparate manuscripts held by some individuals or in small collections at regional museums throughout Madurese-speaking areas.

The new digital archive includes an interactive interface to allow the Madurese videos to be viewed with English and Indonesian subtitles. Verbatim transcripts can also be viewed in English, Indonesian, Madurese, and morpheme-by-morpheme glosses used for linguistic analysis. The project is ongoing and as more narratives are recorded and transcribed, they will be added to the collection.

As is the case with folk tales from any tradition, tales can give insights into the roles of men and women, the social hierarchy in society at large, the behavioral expectations for children, values, belief systems, anxieties and fears, and much more that was considered important in society.

The historical narratives not only help keep the language and culture of the Madurese vital, but the video and accompanying text in the electronic archive make these primary source materials directly accessible to scholars in the U.S. and internationally. Researchers in linguistics and across the humanities will benefit from the availability of these unique materials. This multimedia archive embraces new methods of scholarly communication by creating and delivering a resource that would not be possible through traditional publishing modes.

This project has been funded by a generous grant from the Toyota Foundation, as well as the US Department of Education (through a Fulbright-Hays award) and several UI programs. Institutional support in Indonesia has come from Universitas Kristen Petra in Surabaya and Universitas Atma Jaya in Jakarta, as well as Kementerian Negara Riset dan Teknologi and Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia.

Davies’ project was a UI Libraries’ Creative Scholarship Innovation Award winner in 2010, which provided modest support for a graduate assistant and included a project team of librarians and technologists.

The video and transcriptions are the latest edition to the Iowa Digital Library, which features more than 400,000 digital objects created from the holdings of the UI Libraries and its campus partners. Included are illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, fine art, political cartoons, scholarly works, audio and video recordings, and more. The UI Libraries is a staunch supporter of new forms of scholarly publishing, digital humanities, data curation, and open/linked data.

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Civil War crowdsourcing project goes viral

Woo, hoo! We’ve been slashdotted.

This is when a popular website (in this case, Reddit.com, an enormous online community where contributors share web content that others may find interesting, enlightening, etc.) links to a smaller site (in this case, our Civil War Diaries transcription project) causing a huge influx of web traffic that overwhelms the site.

Despite the temporary collateral damage caused to the rest of the Iowa Digital Library, we love that the site is getting so much attention. Our staff is busily upping the RAM on the server and doing all they can to accommodate this onslaught of traffic. (One administrator describes the effort as putting a bandaid on a large flesh wound.) Today we’ve had more than 15,000 visits and more than 30,000 page views as of 3 p.m., where typically we might have 1,000. As someone Haiku’d in the Reddit comments:

Reddit the giant
Wants to pet the small website
Squishes it instead

Transcription is an expensive and laborious process, but the Internet allows us to experiment with “crowdsourcing,” or collaborative transcription of manuscript materials, in which members of the general public with time and interest conduct the transcription. We were inspired by crowd-sourcing efforts like Zooniverse, which enlists “citizen scientists” to help transcribe historic data. But unlike such well-heeled efforts, we lacked a stock of computer programmers or specialized software to manage the job. Instead, we opted for the experimental, low-tech route. Our crack webmaster wrote some PHP code that pulled diary pages into the transcription site, she added a form and some navigation, and just like that the site was born. It’s a homegrown solution that requires staff members to check the transcriptions for accuracy and add them manually to the digital collection.

The end result? A more useful and user-friendly resource, allowing full-text searching of the diary entries, along with easier browsing and reading. Now that an actual crowd has found our crowdsourcing project, we’re well on our way to making this goal a reality.

Nicole Saylor
Head, Digital Library Services

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Stradivari Quartet recordings now available online

Forty-four years after its first public performance, the Stradivari String Quartet now has audio recordings from 1963-1996 publicly available in the Iowa Digital Library at http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/strad.

The collection is part of the Iowa Sounds Digital Collection, a growing digital repository of audio recordings that documents the musical and cultural heritage of the University of Iowa community.

The quartet made its first public performance with the Stradivarius instruments on May 19, 1967 in Macbride Auditorium in Iowa City.  The Iowa Quartet informally announced its name change on July 21 1969 at the International Music Camp in North Dakota, beginning the concert as the Iowa String Quartet, and ending as the Stradivari String Quartet.

The Quartet takes its name from a set of instruments known as the “Paganini Strads,” which were on loan to them from the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C beginning in April 1967. After five years of tours and performances with them, the instruments were returned in the summer of 1972. The Iowa/Stradivari String Quartet was the teaching quartet in residence at the University of Iowa until 1996 when the newly formed Maia Quartet became the new quartet in residence. 

Personnel for the Stradivari String Quartet included:  Violin I – Allen Ohmes; Violin II – John Ferrell, Don Haines; Viola – William Preucil; Cello – Joel Krosnick, Charles Wendt.  Joel Krosknick appears on the earliest recordings from 1964-1966, but was not a member of the quartet when they changed their name to Stradivari.

The online collection was created between October of 2009 and March of 2011 by the University of Iowa Libraries from digitized cassettes and reels from the Rita Benton Music Library collection.

This collection of recordings is the latest edition to the Iowa Digital Library, which features more than 400,000 digital objects created from the holdings of The University of Iowa Libraries and its campus partners. Included are illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, fine art, political cartoons, scholarly works, and more. The University of Iowa Libraries is a strong supporter of new forms of scholarly publishing, digital humanities, data curation, and open/linked data.

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Digital Collection of Portraits in Conversation with Felix de la Concha

The University of Iowa Libraries is pleased to announce the launch of its latest digital collection, Félix de la Concha’s Portraits in Conversation— http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/felixdelaconcha .

De la Concha is a painter who creates multidimensional portrayals of his subjects while conducting and recording interviews about their life, work, and views on art. The collection features Spanish-language interviews with some of the leading cultural figures in Spain, as well as English-language interviews recorded in the U.S., including with writers at The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.

Spanish-born de la Concha studied at the Facultad de Bellas Artes in Madrid, where he was awarded the prestigious Prix de Rome. His work has been exhibited in museums around the world, with solo exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States. De la Concha lives in Madrid and Iowa City with his wife, poet and University of Iowa professor Ana Merino. The two are close collaborators, with Merino frequently drawing upon de la Concha’s work in her scholarship on the choreography of storytelling.

In 2005 de la Concha embarked on a project to record his portrait sittings with writers and artists. “This series started as a kind of experiment: I wanted to see what kind of portrait would come about if, while I was painting the model, the focus was kept on conversation, and the model’s pose was constrained for only two hours,” he explains. “Each portrait was an unpredictable adventure, both in its conversation and in the painting that resulted.”  In 2007 de la Concha began a similar project creating portraits of Holocaust survivors. He has exhibited these works at museums such as the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Madrid and the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College.

This collection of de la Concha’s interviews and portraits is the latest edition to the Iowa Digital Library ( http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu ), which features more than 300,000 digital objects created from the holdings of The University of Iowa Libraries and its campus partners. Included are illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, fine art, political cartoons, scholarly works, and more. The University of Iowa Libraries is a staunch supporter of new forms of scholarly publishing, digital humanities, data curation, and open/linked data.

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Iowa Geological Survey Annual Reports online

The University of Iowa Libraries has recently posted the Iowa Geological Survey Annual Report (1893-1941) online.  The annual reports contain information on the topography and geological formations of all of Iowa’s counties, assessments of Iowa’s mineral resources, and reports on Iowa’s water resources.  Whether being used to grow crops in the field, livestock in the pasture, or to harvest minerals from the ground, the physical environment of Iowa has been the lifeblood of Iowa’s economy.  These reports were the first detailed, organized reports on the geology and natural history of Iowa and sometimes included other information like the plant species of the time.  

We anticipate this material will be most useful to educators and other individuals in Iowa and surrounding states.  This digital collection features the full volumes, complete with scans of both the color and the oversized plates.  Some images in this publication may be of lower quality, but there is a collection of exceptional photographs of many parts of Iowa by one of IGSAR’s frequent authors (and former State Geologist), Samuel Calvin.

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New University of Iowa web resource maps the decline of a great American city

An interactive web project presenting a visualization of the political and social factors that led to the decline of one of America’s greatest cities has been released.

Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City ( http://mappingdecline.lib.uiowa.edu )  represents University of Iowa History Professor Colin Gordon’s examination of how white flight, discriminatory zoning laws, and other factors resulted in the residential segregation that led to the decline of St. Louis’s urban core. The site combines conventional archival research with digital mapping technology and digitized historic artifacts to show users how a multitude of factors shaped the city over time.  The project builds on Gordon’s book by the same name published in 2008 by PennPress.

Enhanced by census data, property records, historical maps, and other primary source documents such as pamphlets, photographs, and city plans, the online maps tell the familiar story of urban decline in a new and compelling way.

The site is among the first in a growing collection of digital humanities projects hosted by the University of Iowa Libraries ( http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/dls/projects.html ). Funded in part by an Arts and Humanities Initiative grant from the UI Office of the Vice President for Research, the project involved input from GIS specialists, web programmers, and librarians from across the Iowa campus.