Meet your Education Committee Chair: Josh Hager

With our new slate of officers assuming their positions today, I'm resuming our interviews with the Executive Board. Stay tuned for more installments in the future.

What jobs have you had in the archival realm?

Josh Hager photo

For the past five years plus, I have served as Reference Archivist at the State Archives of North Carolina, where I split my time between helping visiting researchers in our Search Room and answering time-sensitive reference queries dealing with legal issues. I started at the State Archives of North Carolina in February 2014 as a Processing Assistant in the Correspondence Unit that handles all remote reference queries.

While I was attending graduate school, I worked as a Digital Production Assistant at Duke University on the Content, Context, and Capacity Project for digitizing the Long Civil Rights Movement. I also worked as a Reference Assistant at North Carolina State University's Special Collections Research Center. I got my start in archives as an undergraduate Student Assistant in Reference and Technical Services at Duke University's Rubenstein Library (then known as the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library).

What is your educational background?

I hold a BA in History and French Studies from Duke University, an MA in Public History (Archival Management concentration) from North Carolina State University, and an MS in Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My archival research has focused on increasing the efficacy of social media outreach. I was fortunate enough to have an abridged version of my thesis, which discussed social media outreach in archival institutions, published in American Archivist in 2015 as the winner of the Pease Award for Outstanding Writing by a Graduate Student.

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?

The most important part of my job is my role as the staff specialist for providing transcripts of defunct post-secondary schools. Under North Carolina law, the State Archives of North Carolina is the agency responsible for maintaining these crucial transcripts in the event no other agency can fulfill that role. As of April 2019, we have records for more than 80 closed schools. In a manner of speaking, I act as the de facto registrar for all of those schools' former students who need transcripts for returning to school or obtaining employment.

My favorite part of my job is any chance I get to conduct tours and instruction sessions. I occasionally have the chance to lead tour groups when they visit the Archives and it's always a joy to see people get so excited about the materials that I work with every day. When high school and college classes visit from nearby institutions, I relish the opportunity to provide hands-on training in primary sources while curating selections of materials on a wide range of historical and other academic subjects. Outreach is my professional passion, so any chance I get to help with our outreach efforts is always a most rewarding experience.

Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.

I'm proud of our institutional efforts over the past several years to live up to our mission as the repository for all citizens of North Carolina. Whether it's our digitization of African-American education records, our expansion of the oral history program to include such persons as any North Carolinian who has served in the military and women who "changed the world" as part of a state government initiative, or our collaborative efforts with varied groups and institutions across the state, I'm happy to see the State Archives taking active steps towards inclusion and diverse presences in the collections and outreach efforts. I look forward to our next steps on this important journey as we continue to live up to the adage that every record tells someone's story.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?

During your education, take as many technical classes as you can as electronic records provide so many exciting and difficult challenges across their life-cycle from creation to access. On the flip side, if you want to specialize in reference, subject knowledge is critical. Don't be afraid of pursuing two Master's Degrees, one in Information Science and one in an academic subject, to round out your schooling.

More so than education, however, is to simply go "out there" and find a repository where you can get hands-on experience. Whether you process a collection, create an exhibit, or scan records, you're gaining the skills that you need to hit the ground running in your archival career.

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?

In archival literature, especially as a reference and outreach specialist, I've always followed Randall Jimerson's model of the Archives as a space both sacred in its mission yet by its nature accessible to all. He describes Archives as a cross between a temple of cultural memory, a "prison of control," and a diner with the most expansive menu of knowledge available. I think that mix of maintaining reverence of materials while ensuring accessibility to knowledge, along with the acknowledgment that we must challenge the "prison of control" mentality rather than enable any mindset that feels that archives are cordoned off from most people, most informs my professional outlook.

I've also been fortunate to have so many wonderful teachers and professionals from which to learn the trade. Dick Lankford, Winston Atkins, Helen Tibbo and others taught me classes which provided me with the intellectual framework to pursue my archival career. Listing every professional who has mentored me in some way would take some time. However, I should single out Elizabeth Dunn at Rubenstein Library for seeing that I was a student assistant who wanted to pursue this field as my career and helped me along that path; Jennifer Baker, formerly of NC State and now at Rubenstein, who taught me how to run a reading room and showed me the determination to answer every query as thoroughly as possible; and all of the archivists at the State Archives who have been my valued colleagues over the past five years plus and are always generous with their time and advice.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?

I am honored to take on the role of Education Committee Chair. I will work with the Education Committee and the rest of the Executive Board to continue the great work that Stephanie Bennett and the members of the Committee have completed over the past two years. I look forward to offering new workshops on topics that span all facets of archival work. I'm also looking for innovative ways to provide educational opportunities to archivists at all types of institutions, such as webinars and smaller workshops in cities across the state. I'm always looking for new great ideas! Once again, thanks to all the members of SNCA who have provided me with this privilege to serve the archivists of North Carolina!

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Student Spotlight: Bennett Chapman

Hello, my name is Bennett Chapman. I am close to completing the MSIS program at UNC Chapel Hill where I am pursuing a concentration in archives and records management. I have worked at Campbell University since August 2018; since January 2015, I have worked in Special Collections at NCSU, where I completed my bachelors degree in 2016. I would like to highlight two projects on which I have worked while at Campbell.

letter in L.H. Campbell Papers

Processing, Digitizing and Describing the Leslie Hartwell Campbell Papers

Zeutschel in use

While working at Campbell University since August, I have processed, scanned, and created metadata for the L.H. Campbell Papers. I was hired via a grant from Campbell University to scan the papers of the longest serving president and son of the founder, Leslie Hartwell Campbell. I work in Carrie Rich Hall which, although it is right next to Wiggins Memorial Library, has felt far away from everything else. The setting that I work in is a small room with a large overhead scanner, a Zeutschel 12000 planetary scanner. So far I have been able to scan the contents of three Hollinger boxes worth of correspondence from the 1930s. These records largely relate to the death of James Archibald Campbell, condolences to his son and family, and the subsequent selection of Leslie Hartwell Campbell as president of Campbell College. However, I have also attempted to discern the content of more miscellaneous letters. Metadata is a vital part of a digitization initiative, and from the first day I started to scan materials, I was thinking about what descriptive metadata would be useful for this collection. Often it is a very difficult and time consuming task to skim a letter and attempt to condense its contents into a singular theme. When possible, I have grouped correspondence that has similar subjects, which is often already sorted in such a way, by giving the same subject and general description. While I had prior experience in creating metadata, this project has allowed me to explore several key elements of Dublin Core in much more depth.

The General College Curriculum Requirements Project

This January I was invited to participate in a working group of other librarians who were interested in designing an exhibit for the fall that would highlight general graduation requirements at Campbell over time. I mined course catalogs from 1926-2013 for the general requirements and recorded data on the number of credit hours required for each category of courses. The result was a spreadsheet that I used to explain the history of general educational requirements at Campbell from junior college to university. It has the potential to be used to generate a data visualization of changes over time to the number of hours required for English, history, math, and all other required courses.

Conclusion

I have enjoyed my time here at Campbell University, and I am looking forward to continuing processing, scanning, creating metadata for, and uploading the L.H. Campbell Papers. I feel that by taking on this digitization project--beginning with scanning itself, through creating descriptive metadata, and finishing with uploading files to CONTENTdm--I have been able to see and comprehend the whole picture of what digitization is in the real world. I have also greatly appreciated the opportunity to participate in a collaborative project with other librarians that will result in an exhibit.

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Archival Advocacy at Home: Preparing & Messaging for Visiting District Congressional Offices

This webinar highlights the upcoming advocacy work of the Council of State Archivists, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, the Society of American Archivists, and the Regional Archival Associations Consortium. Grant programs through NHPRC, IMLS, and NEH are critical to the operations of archives and libraries. North Carolina is a key state with some Congressional members instrumental in both appropriations and oversight. In this preparatory webinar presenters will discuss the basics of a Congressional office visit, messaging ideas, and offer other practical advice for contacting your Representative or Senator.

Thursday, April 18, 2019 | 2:00pm Eastern | Register Now

Speakers
Sarah Koonts, State Archivist, North Carolina State Archives
Jim Corridan, Chairperson, Joint Working Group on Issues & Awareness

Archives are often easy targets for losing federal funding and assistance - but it doesn’t need to be that way! Many times, simply advocating for and educating your elected representatives and their staff about the vital role of archives and the value of archival collections can turn ambivalence or hostility into loyal support!

Later this month and into early May, archivists around the country will be visiting their local Congressional District offices to advocate on behalf of federal funding for archives. These visits are a follow-up to last August’s successful “Archives on the Hill” event, sponsored by the Council of State Archivists (CoSA), the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA), the Regional Archival Associations Consortium (RAAC), and the Society of American Archivists (SAA).

This webinar and subsequent office visits come at a perfect time: just before Congress begins mark-ups and hearings on the President’s budget bill – a budget submission that cuts many federal programs that are vital to archives, including the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), as well as zero-budgeting and slating for closing the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Now is the time for us to raise our voices in support of federal funding for archives!

To prepare for this webinar and your Congressional office visits, please see our Advocacy Guide. Attendees of this webinar will walk from this presentation feeling better prepared with the information and tools necessary for a successful visit!

A recording of this webinar will be available on CoSA’s YouTube channel, SAA’s online course portal (see “On-Demand Events"), and NAGARA’s Advocacy Page.

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New book by SNCA member

Sarah Downing, archivist at Western Regional Archives in Asheville, has written a new book, Chronicles of the Outer Banks: Fish Tales and Salty Gales (The History Press, April 2019). In addition to 30 stories covering the coast, the book includes photographs from several North Carolina repositories including State Archives of North Carolina, Outer Banks History Center, the North Carolina Collection at Wilson Library,  and the North Carolina Museum of History.

cover of Chronicles of the Outer Banks
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The Transformations of Autism lecture at Laupus Library

As part of the Ruth and John Moskop History of Medicine Lecture Series, the Medical History Interest Group invites you to attend “The Transformations of Autism,” sponsored by Dan Shingleton. This lecture, presented by Jeffrey P. Baker, MD, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics and History; Director, Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, and History of Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Evelyn Fike Laupus Gallery, fourth floor Laupus Library.

Historians have generally described autism as a syndrome that was “discovered” in 1943, remained a rare categorical diagnosis through the 1970s, and then was expanded into a “spectrum” in the 1980s. This talk will argue instead that the meaning and boundaries of autism have been contested from the beginning. It will explore how debates over autism intertwined with those over schizophrenia and intellectual disability, and how race, class, and education played into the diagnosis in complex ways that would make the diagnosis more visible in some populations than others.

Dr. Jeffrey Baker is Professor of Pediatrics and History at Duke University School of Medicine, where he serves as Director of the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, and History of Medicine. He has practiced for over 25 years as a general pediatrician with a focus on children with autism and special needs. He directed the Duke Children’s Autism Clinic for two years and remains actively engaged with Duke’s Center for Autism and Brain Development providing a medical home for this population. Dr. Baker’s publications have also centered on child health, most notably the history of neonatal medicine, vaccine controversies, and autism. He has taught a wide variety of historical topics to undergraduate and health profession students, including the history of medical ethics, disability, and race in medicine.

This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.

The lecture will also feature a pop-up display.

For directions and parking information, visit: https://hsl.ecu.edu/about/directions/

Lectures may be video recorded. For the presentation schedule and an archive of our previous recordings, visit: https://hsl.ecu.edu/events/mhig-lectures/

Optional RSVP on Facebook here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/417185075712435/

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U-Boat, Right Ahead!

Contributed by Travis Souther

Did you know a German U-Boat once sailed up the Cape Fear River right into the port of Wilmington? The U-117 was launched in December 1917 and commissioned into the Imperial Germany Navy on March 28, 1918. During its first four months at war, the ship sank 20 vessels and damaged 4 others.

postcard of U-117

Thankfully, when the German submarine entered the port of Wilmington it was not on a mission of ill-intent. The vessel’s first four months at war were its only four months at war.

The submarine was surrendered to the victorious Allies on November 21, 1918, 10 days after the armistice ending World War I. In the weeks that followed, the United States expressed an interest in obtaining a number of Germans subs as prizes of war to serve as floating exhibits for a Victory Bond Campaign. In March 1919, the U-117 became one of six subs given to the United States. The vessel was transported back to the United States and opened to the public for the enjoyment of tourists, photographers, reporters, and military and civilian engineers.

Sailing up and down the East Coast, the U-117 made ports of call in Philadelphia, PA; Wilmington, DE; Charleston, SC; Wilmington, NC; Norfolk, VA; Baltimore, MD; Annapolis, MD; and finally Washington, DC. The postcard images seen here show the submarine tied up along docks in Wilmington, NC. Prominent signs on the sub’s conning tower display posters for the Victory Bond Campaign.

On June 21, 1921, the submarine was anchored 50 nautical miles off Cape Charles, VA and used by naval aircraft for target practice. The submarine went to a watery grave within 7 minutes.

postcard of U-117
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Michelle Francis Scholarship Awarded

The Development Committee is happy to announce that Finley Turner has been awarded the Michelle Francis Scholarship. This award covers costs associated with attending the annual conference for archive professionals who may not otherwise attend.

Finley Turner is a recent MLIS graduate from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She currently works in two positions as an archives technician at UNCG helping to clean up metadata from migration projects and as an archives assistant at Wake Forest University performing a variety of duties from reference to creating finding aids.

Ms. Turner is participating in the presentation "What a Tangled Web We Weave: Two Data Migration Projects at UNC Greensboro" at this year's conference in Wilmington.

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New hire at ECU’s Joyner Library

Contributed by Alston Cobourn

photo of Patrick Cash

East Carolina University’s Joyner Library is pleased to welcome new Assistant University Archivist Patrick Cash.  Patrick previously worked at Mars Hill University outside Asheville, North Carolina.  He earned his undergraduate degree there before earning a Master’s Degree in History at East Tennessee State University.  He then returned to Mars Hill to work in their Special Collections department and teach History, including an Introduction to Oral History course.  Patrick’s enthusiasm and expertise have been a huge benefit to the department since he began working at ECU in January. You can contact Patrick at cashpa18@ecu.edu.

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Scurvy Dog

Contributed by Kelly Spring

[This is the 4th in a series -- see also the 1st and 2nd and 3rd installments about ECU's migration to ArchivesSpace.]

When our manuscript container list database showed signs of Roman numerals mixed with numbers, duplicate boxes, sub-sub-series, container lists that start with box #3, and, I’m not kidding, an entire series devoted to "Empty Photo Albums" (really?!?), we knew we needed to go straight to the naval surgeon. 

Enter our Lead Programmer and months of painstaking work. It was immediately apparent that updating the container lists from EAD would have required replacing the whole record and breaking accession links. Importing the container lists from our local database into AT and pushing the AT-AS migration tool was considered. However, in testing that method the migration would run for hours before producing results. Blimey!

So, the Lead Programmer tested the Harvard Excel import template’s ability to handle hierarchy, instance types, and date strings with multiple dates (of which there were thousands).  He ran reports to assess the number and scale of issues, often conversing with the migration team on the value of retaining data as-is. This, too, ended up not being the most viable option for our migration.

Ultimately, our Lead Programmer studied the AS database schema while the migration team created and updated test records directly in AS to illustrate structure, allowing him to work backward to the migration code. He developed a console application that restructured the container lists from our local database, wiped existing AS container lists, and generated a ship-load of SQL commands that were saved and then run to insert the container lists into AS. As the team worked on running the script, we checked to see that we implemented series properly, handled boxes spanning across series correctly, and checked the accuracy of merged container lists for partially processed collections. We had a surgical scare when we thought that the top container relationships flatlined and went missing. Thankfully, though, a full re-index was all it took to bring them back from the brink.

Now that the container lists are in AS, it’s back to data cleanup and quality control for this crew. We’ve identified 50 collections (out of about 2,000) that came out of SQL surgery with known errors such as duplicate box and folder instances. Currently, a sub-team is looking at data mapping for the resource descriptions, consulting our online collection guides to validate the container lists against AS, and double checking the physical material for numbering discrepancies. Our sails might be shortened, but we’ve replenished our stock of vitamin C and will soon be able to haul wind towards our digital objects.

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2019 SNCA Election Results

The results are in! The new 2019-2020 Executive Committee Members are as follows:

President: Dawne Howard Lucas

Vice President/Programming Chair: Chrystal Carpenter

Education Committee Chairperson: Joshua Hager

Electronic Resources Chairperson: Anna Peitzman

Development Committee Chairperson: Hugh O'Connor

Membership Committee Chairperson: Thomas Flynn

Secretary: Erin Allsop

The new Board members will begin their positions on May 1, 2019. Many thanks to the Nominating Committee members Katie Howell, Kathelene McCarty Smith, Matthew Peek, and Rebecca Petersen May (chair).

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