Archival Description Group Wins National Award

The University Library’s Archival Description Working Group has won another award for its efforts in finding new ways to deliver information about our collections to our users. The Society of American Archivists will present the C.F.W Coker Award to the group in August for findingaids.princeton.edu, the University Library’s interface for descriptions of Princeton archives and manuscript collections. Society of American Archivists Logo The Coker Award “recognizes finding aids, finding aid systems, innovative development in archival description, or descriptive tools that enable archivists to produce more effective finding aids. To merit consideration for the award, nominees must set national standards, represent a model for archives description, or otherwise have a substantial impact on national descriptive practice.” It is awarded to archives throughout North America; previous winners include the Archivists’ Toolkit project, the Online Archives of California, and the working group that developed Encoded Archival Description.

The Award Committee noted that the team at Princeton “created a complete user experience of the Princeton University collections that is elegant in its outward simplicity and robust in its search capabilities. . . . The site is, in short, a triumph of innovative descriptive practice.” Maureen Callahan, John Delaney, Shaun Ellis, Regine Heberlein, Dan Santamaria, Jon Stroop, and Don Thornbury serve on the Working Group. The site also builds on descriptive data created by many staff involved with aggressive processing and data conversion projects over the last seven years.

The site was publicly released last September. The group was also awarded the Mid Atlantic Regional Archives Conference’s Finding Aid Award in April. As always, our biggest reward is the use of the finding aids, and the material they describe, by our patrons, but it’s great to receive recognition for all the effort that went into developing the site.

Princeton wins MARAC Finding Aid Award

We are very pleased to announce that the Princeton University Library’s Archival Description working group has been awarded the 2012 Frederic M. Miller Finding Aid Award by the Mid Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC). The award recognizes outstanding finding aids and finding aid systems in the Mid Atlantic region. Submissions are evaluated in the areas of content, design, innovation, and adherence to descriptive standards.

Main Page for the new finding aids site

Main Page for the new finding aids site

Princeton’s archival description working group includes two Mudd staff members: Maureen Callahan and Dan Santamaria, who serves as chair of the group. Former Mudd staff member Regine Heberlein is also a key member of the group, as are Don Thornbury and John Delaney from Firestone Library’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections and Jon Stroop and Shaun Ellis of the library’s digital initiatives group.

The group was awarded first prize in the 2012 competition for findingaids.princeton.edu, the redesigned finding aids interface for descriptions of Princeton’s archives and manuscripts collections. The new interface was the result of more than a year of close collaboration between Department of Rare Books and Special Collections and Digital Initiatives staff. The site contains descriptions of all of the archival and manuscript collections held at Princeton and includes a number of innovations including:

Images of the collection in the context of the finding aid

Images of the collection in the context of the finding aid

• Delivery of images of actual collections material directly from the finding aid interface

Contents lists that are sortable by title, date, or physical location in the collection

Enhanced topic features, listing collections related to our collecting strengths

• Better options for users to contact the library and connect with each other, including “Ask a Question” buttons for reference requests and commenting features for users wishing to request a description enhancement or share information within their own social networks

• Automated requesting of collections material from all contents lists

• Direct access to components of collections (often boxes and folders) from search results and Faceting and browsing options from search results.

In addition to the work of the team that developed the finding aids site, it should be noted the site is built on data created by dozens of library staff over the last several years. The innovations described above would not be possible without the work of these staff members in processing and describing our collections.

The award comes with a small monetary prize, which will be donated to a small historical society in New Jersey. While use of the finding aids by our patrons is our biggest reward, it’s great to receive recognition for the hard work that went into developing the site. Congratulations to everyone involved!

American Civil Liberties Union Records Processing Completed

The Mudd Library is pleased to announce that the final two series of the third subgroup of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) records have been processed, and that the entire collection has been addressed is now available to the public. These materials join ACLU records long held at the Mudd Library: The Roger Baldwin Years, 1917–1950 and American Civil Liberties Union Records 1947–1995. As a whole, this collection documents the civil liberties organization’s work in areas including civil rights, children and women’s rights, freedom of speech (and all First Amendment questions), due process, the right to privacy, and church-state separation issues, and this third subgroup covers the years between 1975 and 2000 predominantly. The records are of vital historical and cultural importance to the nation, and we are grateful that the work on these records was supported by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Founded in 1920, the ACLU’s mission is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” The group has been integral in myriad landmark court cases since its inception, and the collection of new materials housed at Mudd consists, notably, of records from the Reproductive Freedom Project, the Women’s Rights Project, the Robert Bork Supreme Court nomination hearings, the Iran-Contra affair, and Texas v. Johnson (the 1990 flag-burning case). The newly available records also include over 300 boxes from the ACLU’s Southern Regional office, which handled many important civil rights cases

Adriane Hanson, who managed the processing of the new ACLU materials, began in June 2010, and with the help of several Princeton students, she inventoried and processed 2,500 linear, the single largest and fastest processing project in Mudd Library’s history. Mudd Library’s entire ACLU collection, which is its largest and most used, now spans about 4,200 linear feet.

For more information, read the Princeton Alumni Weekly’s article on these new records.

Redesigned Finding Aids Site Now Live

The Finding Aids site for Princeton University Library’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections has been completely overhauled and enhanced with many new features to make it easier to search through our holdings.

We officially released the site on September 4:  http://findingaids.princeton.edu

Main Page for the new finding aids site

Main Page for the new finding aids site

 

(The previous finding aid site will remain available until September 28 at the following URL: http://findingaids.princeton.edu/classic/)

There are many features and enhancements related to the new interface; a few are listed below. One of the most prominent features is the ability to view images of archival material directly from the finding aids:

“Thumbnail View” of image browsing feature in the new finding aid interface.

Selected Site Features:

• Delivery of images directly from the finding aid interface
• Greatly improved relevancy rankings from search results
• Advanced faceting and browsing options from search results
• Contents lists that are sortable by title, date, or physical location in the collection
• A more modular display of the finding aids – users will not be required to navigate several hundred page documents on the web (but can view the entire finding aid as a single page if they prefer)
• Enhanced topic features
• Better options for users to contact the library and connect with each other, including an “Ask a Question” (for reference requests) and a commenting feature for users wishing to request an enhancement to the description or discuss the content of the collection.
• Ability to place online requests to view material in our reading rooms.
• A much cleaner, and more modern, look and feel.

Several instructional videos which provide information on using the site are available online. We will be adding to the videos in the coming months. General help topics are also available, via the Special Collections Research Account Website.

A number of Department of Rare Books and Special Collections staff, including Maureen Callahan, John Delaney, Regine Heberlein, Dan Santamaria, and Don Thornbury, collaborated with Jon Stroop and Shaun Ellis of the Library’s Digital Initiatives Group in order to develop the new interface. It builds on descriptive data created by dozens of staff involved with aggressive processing and data conversion projects over the last seven years. We’re very proud of the results and think it is one of the most advanced archival access systems available anywhere.

We welcome your comments and questions through the “site feedback” link which is at the top of every page or the commenting feature available on finding aids themselves. We hope you’ll use the finding aids as much as possible in your work and we look forward to your feedback.

Additional ACLU Collections Available

aclu-logo-23841307_std1

There are now 3 more American Civil Liberties Union finding aids available online and accessible to the public:

Series 2: Project Files
The Project Files series contains the records of twelve of the ACLU’s projects, which each addressed an area of civil liberties violations. Project records typically consist of case files, research files, project publicity correspondence. The best documented projects are the Children’s Rights Project Women’s Rights Project, to a lesser extent the Arts Censorship Project, Capital Punishment Project, Reproductive Freedom Project.
Series 3: Subject Files
The Subject Files series contains articles, reports, court documents, and other materials collected by the ACLU during the course of their work. The main subjects are drugs, homelessness, and Supreme Court nominations, largely of Robert Bork. Other significant subjects in the series include campaign finance, discrimination, environmental equity and racism, school pension plans, state constitutions, and welfare.
Series 4: Legal Case Files
The Legal Case Files series documents the ACLU’s involvement in litigation, ranging from files collected on cases for research purposes to records of cases they were significantly involved in. The records include documents filed with the court, correspondence, lawyer’s notes, depositions and expert testimony, transcripts of the trials, newspaper clippings, and research materials on the background of the case and legal precedent.
The Legal Case Files series contains records about over 1,500 cases, with the majority being files collected on non-ACLU cases for research on the broad range of civil liberties which the ACLU investigates. Common subjects include the separation of church and state, public education, racial and sexual discrimination, injustice in the legal system, illegal surveillance and search, and protecting the freedom of speech and expression, as well as politics and voting, information access and privacy, fair employment and health care practices, and immigration. Cases which are particularly well documented include Carlos Rivera v. John Rowland about the public defender system in Connecticut and three cases about public education: Brown v. Board of Education, Charlet v. Legislature of Louisiana, and Harper v. Hunt.

For more information about the ACLU collections check out our recent post:
http://blogs.princeton.edu/mudd/2012/03/american-civil-liberties-union-records-new-series-available.html

-Adriane Hanson

American Civil Liberties Union Records: First New Series Available

aclu-logo-23841307_std1
Researchers can start using some newly open American Civil Liberties Union Records ahead of schedule!

Series 1: Organizational Matters is now open for research by using the following finding aid. http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/x346d492c

This series is part of an ongoing two-year project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to process 2,500 linear feet of ACLU records, largely from 1970 to 2000. Each series will be made available as processing is completed, with the entire project scheduled to end on July 1, 2012. Look for Series 2: Project Files and Series 3: Subject Files to be made available in April.

Series 1: Organizational Matters documents the inner workings of the ACLU. These records take you behind the scenes as individuals at the national office, regional offices, and affiliates negotiate the ACLU’s official position on emerging civil liberties issues. Executive Director Ira Glasser’s papers shed light into the complicated management of one of the nation’s preeminent civil liberties organizations. Within the correspondence, meeting minutes, and position papers, you can see the ACLU shape strategies to try cases, combat restrictive legislation, and mobilize public opinion to support the ACLU’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. At 472 linear feet, this series holds a wealth of potential for anyone looking at a late 20th century civil liberties issue or the U.S. policy-making process.

The public is welcome to visit the Mudd Library to conduct research within these materials. For more information on the ACLU collections, search our finding aids, and you can always get help by emailing us at mudd@princeton.edu.

–Adriane Hanson

Guide to Princeton-Related Theater Collections Now Online

Theater001
Princeton students in The Honorable Julius Caesar, the 1892-1893 Triangle Club production. From AC122 Triangle Club Records box 93.

From Triangle and Intime to the Princeton Mime Company, Quipfire!, and many more, all collections in the Princeton University Archives related to campus theater groups and venues are now described online and available for research in the Mudd Manuscript Library.

A guide outlining 28 different collections about theater at Princeton is also now available online. While intended to be thorough, the libguide is not exhaustive, and additions are welcome.

Carl A. Fields papers now available for research

ABC
Paul C. Williams, Dr. Carl A. Fields, and A. Deane Buchanan at the first dinner banquet of Princeton’s Association of Black Collegians (May 22, 1968)

The papers of educator and advocate of minority education Dr. Carl A. Fields are now available for research at Princeton University’s Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. Carl Fields became the first African American to hold a high-ranking position at an Ivy League school when he was appointed the Assistant Director of Student Aid and then later the Assistant Dean of the College at Princeton University. Throughout his tenure Fields began and directed several innovative programs aimed at the retention of African American and other students of color, including the Family Sponsors program that introduced students to an African American family within the Princeton community. In 1967 Fields helped coordinate the first Negro Undergraduate Conference with the new Association of Black Collegians organization on campus, which brought together black students from forty-one predominately-white universities. Fields also established the Frederick Douglass Award after attending the 1968 Princeton commencement exercises, which had the largest number of black students receiving a diploma in the history of the University.

Continue reading

Kennan and Forrestal papers processing project completed

Princeton University’s Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library has completed a one-year project to process the papers of George Kennan and James Forrestal, two Princeton alumni who were important figures in shaping U.S. policy at the inception of the Cold War.

George F. Kennan, U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia, is greeted by Marshal Josip Broz Tito. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson, looks on. Circa 1962-1963. Source: George F. Kennan Papers, Box 184, Folder 14.

Kennan, a diplomat and historian, is best known for writing the “Long Telegram” and the subsequent “X” article in Foreign Affairs in which he advocated for a new course in U.S.-Soviet relations that became known as “containment.” Kennan, a 1925 Princeton graduate, was involved in diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union throughout most of his distinguished career in the U.S. Foreign Service. As a historian at the Institute for Advanced Study, he studied modern Russian and European history and became an important critic of American foreign policy. His papers document his entire career.

Continue reading

Radioactive Manhattan Project Records and Archival Serendipity

Early this year, staff from the University’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), in preparing for the move to the new chemistry building, found a filing cabinet in the Frick Laboratory (currently home of the Chemistry Department) containing material related to Princeton’s involvement with the Manhattan Project. (While the common perception of the Manhattan Project is that it was physicists doing the work, a great part of the effort involved chemists too.) Many of the documents were labeled as classified, though some were stamped with Declassified stamps from the 1950s. EHS Director Garth Walters sought advice from the General Counsel’s office and Val Fitch (emeritus professor who worked in Los Alamos during the war). Fitch did not believe any of the documents were still classified, but until that was definitively determined, the General Counsel’s office suggested that a more secure place be found for the cabinet, and hence a call to the Mudd Library in March.

Continue reading