Pre game!

Gearing up for my first year of A Day in the Life of Digital Humanities. The need for collaboration is already kicking in as I think about my schedule for tomorrow. Pretty sure I saw lots of mentions of collaboration in participants’ definitions and descriptions of digital humanities.

I’m working on what I want to say tomorrow to students at Philadelphia’s Central High School. I’m participating in Women’s Day and get to talk to a classroom full of teenagers. I plan to talk about archives, primary sources and technology and introduce them to some historical women, including former slave Eliza Grier who received a medical degree at Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1897. I also want to tell them about a Philadelphia-based event where women medical students were jeered out of an all-male lecture hall at Pennsylvania Hospital. Things have changed for women and I wonder how this event will be perceived by the students.

Post #2

Going for the straightforward titling here, akin to how I tend to title fine art photographs also: untitled #1; location #3, etc.

My 18 of March, Day of DH was active and I had uncharacteristically little time sitting at my computer. Was definitely easier to tweet short updates than upload images and actual blog posts so I’m going to use my visuals and tweets as notes and create a few post-March 18 entries today and tomorrow. I admit to being somewhat handicapped in that I don’t have a data-ready handheld (shocking! maybe next year) so am currently tethered to the computer for documenting.

2010-03-18, 10am: Central High School, 30+ students from the class of 271

At Drexel, one of our current initiatives (and financial support pursuits) is to expand our user base to include middle and high school students. We expect to do this primarily through web access that will reach students everywhere but want to begin the process with local students. Our venture includes working with students, teachers and digital humanities professionals to investigate how to make these materials most useful and engaging. March 18 happened to coincide with Women’s Day at Central High School here in Philadelphia. Central is a public academic magnet school, meaning it draws students from around the city interested in a strong academic program. Central has an interesting and unique history rooted in being the 2nd-oldest public high school in the country. For Women’s Day, women speakers come and talk with classes about something related to women – this is especially important at Central, where the school has only been co-ed for 25 years of its 171 year history. I wanted to share with the students my passion for history, archival resources and technology, and introduce them to a few of the personalities from our collections.

At Central High School in Philadelphia for Women's Day, showing the first known photograph made in the United States, actually of Central's original institution, Philadelphia High School, 1839.

Digital collection and online access, showing original materials on Eliza Grier, emancipated slave and degreed woman physician, this portrait ca. 1896.

Preservation - talked first about digital preservation, then backwards to physical, including acid-free foldering.

Was lucky to have a talented and willing student to capture the class. Thanks, R!

2010-03-18, 12:00 – capturing Paracelsus

Not that Paracelsus could ever be captured and contained but we are working on a grant proposal to digitize our 200 volume collection of Paracelsus and Paracelsian works. This collection belonged to Constantine Hering, one of the founders of Hahnemann University (a predecessor of Drexel U College of Medicine, aka Hahnemann Medical school, etc.) and is one of the three major Paracelsus collections in the United States.

Wanting to include some visuals of the material in the proposal, we chose a few pages that showed the marginalia this collection is noted for and some later works that included drawings. In the busi-ness of the day I neglected to shoot and show the camera we use for this kind of capture, but it’s a PhaseOne P30 on a copystand.

Camera image on the monitor. Whoops, where's the camera?

Sample page #1: Modus pharmacandi. Durch den Hocherfarnen Herren Theoprastume Paracelsum. Koln 1562Sample page #2. Verzeichniss einer Sammlung von Bildnissen, frossten-theils beruhmter Aerzte. Von T. C. Moehsen. 1771.

Verzeichniss einer Sammlung von Bildnissen, frossten-theils beruhmter Aerzte. Von T. C. Moehsen. 1771.

Sample page #3. Marginalia author not known at the moment.

2010-03-18, 14:30 – Archivists en masse…

Mid-afternoon found me preparing for a professional meeting of regional archivists, the Delaware Valley Archivists’ Group (DVAG).

Definitely not all archivists would consider themselves active in the digital humanities but many do – I’d love to open this discussion among the regional professionals and see the range of perspectives. (I almost did this at our meeting but didn’t think it was the right place/time.)  I see web access and digitization as crucial to expanding who uses historic resources and how, as well as a platform for building on, interpreting and sharing the history.  As a keeper of historic materials it’s my responsibility to see that the materials are not only preserved but as widely accessible as possible. Many DVAG members are actively executing this concept as evidenced in the DVAG wire of member blog posts.

The meeting began with a business meeting of the DVAG Planning Committee followed by a general membership meeting in the form of a reception, a few remarks and a tour of our new facility. While the focus of the meeting was not digital humanities, in the archives field the digital world can’t be ignored.

Viewing materials related to Hahnemann University and homeopathic medicine, including some of the volumes from Constantine Hering's Paracelsus collection.

We did show off our digital camera set up, complete with how easy it is to capture bound and/or oversize materials. The camera was purchased and the lab outfitted with support from the Connelly Foundation.

Brand new digital lab area

Phase One P30 and copystand