Archiving Email at the Princeton University Archives

Changes in leadership, especially at universities, give archivists an opportunity to transfer records into the archives. Such was the case when the current Dean of the College, Valerie Smith, accepted a position as the new president of Swarthmore College, a post she will assume in just over a month. Dan Linke, the University Archivist, and I visited her office to meet with Dean Smith and her staff to inform them of our procedures for transferring office records—paper documents, as well as born digital material such as Word documents, SharePoint sites, etc. Soon into the conversation we began to discuss the prospect of email capture, a task that we had only haphazardly done in the past through preserving Microsoft Word documents used to compose memos, PDF’s generated from email applications, and printouts included within paper collections.

Pictured here is the full email header from a message in the publicly available Enron Email Dataset.

Pictured here is the full email header from a message in the publicly available Enron Email Dataset. Click image to expand.

Two compelling reasons forced us to find a way to conduct an email transfer directly from Dean Smith’s account. First, she is a pioneer at Princeton many times over; in addition to being the first black woman to earn tenure at the University, Dean Smith later served as the first director of the University’s renowned Center for African-American Studies before becoming the first black person to serve as Dean of the College. Second, we knew that the previous methods of email transfer limited access possibilities and stripped emails of their contexts, including lost attachments, missing email header information, and inefficient search capacities.

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“Princeton University Does Not Discriminate…”: African American Exclusion at Princeton

Bruce Wright applied for admission to Princeton University in the 1930s, having spent some of his childhood living in its shadow in Princeton, New Jersey. He was excited to be awarded a scholarship, and showed up in the fall ready to start as a freshman. So far as the Dean of Admissions was concerned, however, there was just one problem: Wright was black, and the Admissions Office hadn’t known that when they offered him a place among white Princetonians. Though many students who stood in line to register with Wright were not at all resistant to having him there, Dean Radcliffe Heermance (Graduate Class of 1909) decided that Princeton would not accept him as one of its own. In a later interview, Wright recalled, Heermance had told him: “If you’re trying to come here, you’re going someplace where you’re not wanted.” With no other recourse he could see, Wright went outside, sat down on his suitcase, and waited for his father to drive down from New York to pick him up.

The words lingered in Wright’s mind. “I was shattered, and I became more so as time went on,” Wright said. “For some reason I persisted in writing to Heermance to demand to know why. Was I a danger, a menace to a great university?”

This was Heermance’s answer:

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Acquiring Digital Archives in the Field at Princeton

As a digital archivist on Mudd’s Technical Services team, I spend a fair amount of my time looking at screens like the one pictured here.

results of virus scan

21st century mold

I briefly panicked when I came across this screen while processing a restricted University Archives collection last year. The information was the output of the software ClamTK, the default virus scanner for our customized Ubuntu Linux digital archives workstation that I wrote about previously. How, in a collection of nearly 7,000 files that are spread across more than 800 subfolders, was I supposed to identify, assess, and possibly remove 34 individual viruses? The theatrics of the term “threats” was, fortunately, more dramatic than the actual threats themselves: embedded links in several PDF documents that the software flagged as PUA’s, or potentially unwanted applications. I reviewed the specifics of each file, and afterwards packaged the bundle of documents for our secure storage location.

I joked with a few of my colleagues that handling digital archives might require archivists to become epidemiologists on the spot. The fortunate aspect of the above scenario was that it happened in our processing room, which means that I was able to thoroughly research the issue, weigh the considerations, and then make a decision. I could have only wished for such calm and contained circumstances two weeks ago when I went to acquire 50 gigabytes of historical materials from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered letters donated to University Archives

by: Dan Linke

With the rise of email more than 20 years ago, many have lamented the decline of the handwritten letter, but with her new book, Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing (Simon & Schuster, 2014), Nina Sankovitch has done much more than that.  Drawing on letters from across the ages, she explains why putting pen to paper can communicate much more than the thoughts and ideas on the page.

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Inspired by a cache of letters written by a Princeton undergraduate to his parents that she uncovered in the tool shed of a dilapidated New York home she bought more than a decade ago, Sankovitch originally read the letters in small batches, as a break from the toils of mothering three young children.  Years later, with her oldest son readying himself for college, Sankovitch revisited the letters and began her mediation on the important  and wide range of human connections that letters make, using the Princeton student’s letters and their discovery as the basis for the book’s first chapter.

James B. Seligman

The letters were composed by James B. Seligman, Class of 1912. According to his Nassau Herald entry, “Jimmie” grew up in New York City, was a member of Clio, studied economics, and hoped to go into banking.  He was also Jewish (“Hebrew” in the parlance of the day), just one of five such students in a class of almost 300.  He became an independent stockbroker and a member of the New York Stock Exchange where he was a floor trader.  The February 22, 1941 New Yorker called him “one of the wittiest men on the Floor.”

That wit is reflected in his surviving letters.  Some excerpts that Sankovitch highlights in her book:

“I am getting a good college education, developing like a film, apologizing to the grass every time I step on it, scrambling like an egg, yelling like a bear, telling the upperclassmen to go to @#$ …”

 “I am once more sorry to say, with tears in my nose, and with shaking toes, etc that I didn’t pass French…Thanking you again for your kind applause, I will close as Le Student Francais.”

“Chapel was great. I never laughed so much in my life.”

And in answering what he called the “ponderous interrogations” sent by his mother: “my diet consists principally of food.  My health is fine.”

He also wrote of his classes – “Woodrow Wilson lectures to us in Jurisprudence – It is a treat to listen to him speak.”

Now Sankovitch has donated Seligman’s correspondence, consisting of about 100 letters and postcards, to the Princeton University Archives, and they will join those of other students in the Student Correspondence and Writings Collection (AC334). This collection, along with a number of others, contains the correspondence of about two dozen students ranging over three centuries, and collectively it provides insights into Princeton undergraduate life that can be found nowhere else.  The earliest letters date from 1768 and the most recent is a collection of printed emails from a member of the Class of 1997.

Keen New Addition: Photo Album Purchase Contains Rare Images of Woodrow Wilson

by Dan Linke

img_016With more than 600 books on Woodrow Wilson, including Scott Berg’s recent autobiography, is there anything new about Woodrow Wilson? With the acquisition of the photo album of Paul Edward Keen *15, the answer is yes.

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His photo album contains a dozen images of Wilson’s 1913 inauguration and his 1915 return to campus to vote, as well as many more campus and local scenes that he took while studying at the Princeton Theological Seminary (1912-16) and Princeton University (MA1915).

About half the album contains photographs that Keen took elsewhere such as Philadelphia and Antietam, but the latter half is filled with images of the town of Princeton and the campuses of the University and Seminary.  In one 1915 photograph Wilson’s black mourning armband is visible on his upper left arm; Edith, his wife of 29 years, died in August 1914.

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Born in Yorkana, Pennsylvania in 1888, after graduation from the Seminary, Keen was ordained in the United Evangelical Church and led the congregation in Wrightsville, PA, before becoming a Bible professor at Allbright College (his undergraduate alma mater) in 1924.  Starting in 1928, he taught at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Napersville, Illinois, until his death in 1958.

Here are just 14 images found within the album:

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The album was purchased, in part, with funds provided by the Goreff/Neuwirth Charitable Trust in honor of Danielle van Jaarsveld, Class of 1995.

 

New Accession: Atomic-bombed Roof Tiles from Hiroshima University

The University Archives was recently given the honor and responsibility of providing a home for seven roof tiles that sustained damage in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945.  The roof tiles were collected in a river bed near ground zero of the atomic bomb explosion.

3 of the 7 tiles.

3 of the 7 tiles.

Along with the roof tiles, the donation includes photographs of the location where the tiles were recovered; booklets and pamphlets on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and documents related to the artifacts.

Hiroshima University was decimated in the atomic bomb attack— most of its students and faculty members perished and its buildings were demolished.  In the post-war period, Hiroshima University’s president Tatsuo Morito reached out to universities world-wide to help to renew the institution by sending books for its library and saplings to bring its grounds back to life.

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Princeton was among the schools that responded in 1951 by providing both a book for the library’s collection and a monetary donation for the purchase of a native tree for the campus; and now, in celebration of its 80th anniversary, Hiroshima University is reciprocating by donating these artifacts.

The roof tiles are distributed by Hiroshima University’s Association for Sending Atomic-bombed Roof Tiles in order to perpetuate awareness of the devastating effects of the atomic bombings in Japan, and to oppose the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons.  In a letter that accompanies the donation, Toshimasa Asahara, President of Hiroshima University, explains:

The threat of nuclear weapons still exists in many areas of the world.  It is our earnest desire, however, that the pain and sadness experienced in Hiroshima not be re-created anywhere else in the world.

This wish is not only the wish of those of us living today but represents the silent voices of the 240,000 Hiroshima citizens who perished from the atomic bomb.  We believe it is also the will of others such as yourselves who will work together with us to build a peaceful future for the world.

See the Atomic-bombed Roof Tiles from Hiroshima University Finding Aid

 

 

 

 

 

Fidel Castro visits Princeton University

Daily Princetonian photo of Castro on Washington Street.

In 1959, not even three months after he came to power, Fidel Castro was invited to speak to a small group of undergraduate students and faculty members of the Woodrow Wilson School. In a recent donation to the University Archives, we received some key items related to Castro’s visit, including this letter of invitation.

Letter sent to Castro. March 5, 1959

This telegram response to the initial letter is also part of the donation, which was added to the American Whig-Cliosophic Society Records.

Ultimately, Castro did accept the invitation and spoke for the Woodrow Wilson School’s Special Program in American Civilization. Admission to the program was by invitation only, and it was held in Wilson Hall, now known as Corwin Hall.

These materials were donated by Ambassador Paul D. Taylor ’60 and include a carbon copy of three pages of notes of excerpts from Castro’s speech taken by Taylor.

The rest of Castro’s visit included a tour of campus with President Goheen ’40 as well as being the guest of honor at the Present Day Club in town.

During his visit, Castro stayed in the home of Mr. & Mrs. Roland T. Ely ’46. Below is a piece of biographical information that is included in the Historical Subject Files: Box 309, Folder 20.

If you would like to learn more about Castro’s visit, please search the digitized archives of The Daily Princetonian.

The following links are just two of the articles related to Castro’s visit.

Castro Violates Security Regulations

The Story Behind Castro’s Visit

There is also this piece in the Princeton Alumni Weekly online edition.

Mudd Manuscript Library Annual Report: Fiscal Year 2012

Mudd Manuscript Library Annual Report, FY2012

 

Summary

The staff at Mudd Library had a very successful year in 2012 with notable highlights that include:

  • Prepared for the launch of Aeon on July 1, 2012.  This required significant work from both public and technical services staff.
  • Significant work done to upgrade access tools, in particular a new finding aids site launched in beta, and other work done to prepare for integration of EAD data into Primo.
  • ACLU project completed, with almost 2,500 linear feet of records described as part of NHPRC-funded processing project.
  • In addition to ACLU, 1,800 linear feet of other policy and archives materials described, including the Harold Medina Papers.
  • The Daily Princetonian digitization completed, with the years 1876-2002 now online.
  • Dissertation submission procedure altered to provide full-text, online access via OIT’s DataSpace.
  • Hosted IMLS intern Brenda Tindal
  • Continued high level of use of collections, both in-house and remote, with great degree of patron satisfaction, with PDF requests surpassing paper copies.

Major Activities

Public Services

In the past year, the staff of the Mudd Manuscript Library served 1,686 patrons, 211 of whom had visited Mudd prior to FY12 and 678 who were new researchers. We circulated 8,531 items (2,761 University Archives boxes/items, 5,812 Public Policy Papers boxes/items, 34 Gest rare books and 14 other items). For more on particular collections used, see Appendix A: Most used Archives and Policy collections in FY2012.

Staff also filled 354 photocopy orders totaling 39,431 pages, of which 265 orders were delivered as PDF files totaling 27,338 pages and 89 orders were fulfilled on paper, totaling 12,093 pages, so a PDF continues to be the preferred method for the majority of our users.  Scanning continues to be the default method by which we provide images for patrons and last year we filled 90 orders for 266 scans.

We responded to over 1,900 pieces of correspondence (including 882 pertaining to the University Archives and 403 to the Public Policy Papers; 16 requests for permission to quote) which arrived as follows: 1,317 e-mail; 111 telephone; 23 surface mail and 1 via fax.  Individual correspondence totals:  Maureen Callahan, 64; Christa Cleeton, 7; John DeLooper, 15; Kate Dundon, 20; Lynn Durgin, 108; Dave Gillespie, 9; Adriane Hanson, 81; Dan Linke, 207; Christie Lutz, 184; Christie  Peterson, 88; Amanda Pike, 340; Dan Santamaria, 27; Brenda Tindal, 18; Kristen Turner, 35; Helene van Rossum, 5; Rosalba Recchia, 82.   The staff also responded to more than 500 brief telephone calls.

Collectively, the staff worked with 9 different classes relating to junior papers and other research/writing projects with a total of approximately 115 attendees.

In addition, a large number of visitors took advantage of Mudd’s digital camera program as 279 patrons photographed 6,419 items from our collections, totaling 73,338 images.

John DeLooper left Mudd in September to accept a reference librarian position, and in early December, Christa Cleeton joined the Mudd staff as the new SCAIV for public services (front desk position). Christa, who had previously worked at Firestone, quickly and efficiently assumed the duties of the position, from greeting and registering patrons to overseeing student workers to carrying out special projects for Dan Linke. Significantly, Christa became the coordinator for Mudd’s social media efforts, responsible for our blogs, Facebook page and Twitter feed, all of which she has energetically attended to. She has been attending the University’s Social Media SPIN meetings, and working directly with the University’s director of social media to implement best practices and draw more attention to our social media output. Christa also assisted Lisbeth Dennis in creating a Facebook page for RBSC.

The biggest change in Mudd’s public services operations this year was the implementation of the Aeon circulation management system, done in conjunction with the rest of RBSC. All Mudd staff attended training sessions in January, with Lutz, Pike and Cleeton participating in extra training and numerous meetings regarding implementation, use, and workflow issues. Full implementation took several months, but in June we conducted preliminary tests of the system, and starting in July, began using the system.  Lutz, Pike and Cleeton worked to alert current and future Mudd researchers to the changes through our website, social media outlets, and in exchanges with patrons. Both experienced and new Mudd users have been quite receptive to the new system and particularly appreciate that they can submit requests for materials prior to their arrival at Mudd. While there was some concern among staff that we must first send researchers to the Access Office in Firestone to obtain Special Collections identification cards, we have not heard many patron complaints over the need to make this extra stop. However, this stop is a temporary measure until Mudd obtains the hardware and software necessary to create the ID cards here at Mudd.

Throughout the year, we received accolades from patrons for the quality and efficiency of the reference services we provided.

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Annual Report 2011: Collection and Financial Development

As a continuation of our series on our 2011 Annual Report, please see a description of our work in Collection and Financial Development:

  • See the entries on accessioning Public Policy Papers and University Archives for collections of note acquired in this fiscal year. In addition, during the past year gift agreements were signed with Edward Djerejian (who served as Ambassador to both Syria and Israel) and James Hoge (the outgoing editor of Foreign Affairs), though no documents were delivered during the fiscal year.
  • Linke finished raising money for the digitization of the Daily Princetonian, with over a quarter of a million dollars accrued for this project.
  • The James Baker Oral History Project completed seven additional interviews with Susan Baker, Edward Djerejian, Francoise Djerjian, Marlin Fitzwater, John Major, John Sununu, and Robert Zoellick.
Stay tuned for further discussion of our 2011 work involving exhibitions, public relations, and goals for fiscal year 2012.

Annual Report 2011: Major Activities in Accessioning of University Archives

As a continuation of our series on our 2011 Annual Report, please see a description of major activities in accessioning of University Archives:

In FY11, the University Archives accessioned 162 collections or items, a total 185.11 linear feet of records. Highlights include:
All accessions received in FY2011 have been formally accessioned, but description of University Archives accessions fell several months behind in 2011 due to staffing levels. We have developed a plan that will allow for the description of all 2011 University Archives accessions by fall 2011.
Lynn Durgin also created a greatly expanded section on the Mudd website regarding transfers and donations to the University Archives including new inventory templates.
Stay tuned for further discussion of our 2011 work involving other technical services activities, digital projects, records management, collection development, exhibitions, and more.