If you ever wrote a letter to Neil Armstrong it's probably now archived at Purdue University. The first man on the moon saved over 70,000 pieces of personal correspondence, and that probably includes that letter you wrote in late July 1969 when you were in the 2nd grade.
Sifting through decades of publications, oral history and archival records, Michael Kmet sets the record straight on numerous aspects Star Trek: TOS production history lore. Was "Spock's Brain" originally conceived as a comedy episode? Did Roddenberry write the lyrics to the theme song as a cash grab? Which of the Mercury Seven did Roddenberry try to get as guest stars? [more inside]
The Texas Tech Vietnam Center and Archive "collects and preserves the documentary record of the Vietnam War, and supports and encourages research and education regarding all aspects of the American Vietnam Experience." It includes vast sections of digitized material, including audio, video, maps, as well as all manner of documents. [more inside]
The SFMTA has published excerpts of their photo archives from donated collections, spanning the post-1906 earthquake period all the way up to modern times. [more inside]
Two friends and artists separately found troves of photos by the same photographer, documenting the drag balls of the 1950s and 1960s in Kansas City. [more inside]
Welcome to a tumblr of wonders. Special Collections, archives, and libraries have many wonderful items, but getting to them all can be a bit like trying to walk into Mordor, unless you have unlimited time and grants. But now, thanks to Tumblr, you too can explore collections around the world, and one of the best comes to us from the University of Iowa. Want a Hamlet quote on a miniature book that unfolds into a tiny Globe Theatre? Of course you do. Actual flying squirrels? Adventure with Alice! Get close to illuminations? Catch a glimpse of hipster frames circa 1504? More awesome librar* tumblrs inside. [more inside]
Most of America's silent films are lost forever, according to the newly released Library of Congress report The Survival of American Silent Feature Films: 1912–1929. (You can look up the ones that survive in this handy database). [more inside]
For over a year, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has been digitizing old photos from its far-reaching library and putting them on a Tumblr called The Digs. [more inside]
wwwtxt.org: "In 1995, commercialization, a swelling population, and the multimedia revolution began to shape Web 1.0 and the modern Internet. 1988–94 represent the final years of a much smaller, non-commercial, and text-dominated Internet. / The users of this era were not only programmers, physicists, and university residents—they were also tinkerers, early-adopters, whiz kids, and nerds. Their conversations and documents—valiantly preserved by digital archivists—are fractured across numerous services, increasingly offline-only, and incredibly voluminous (100GB+). / wwwtxt digs deep and resurrects the voices of these digital pioneers as unedited, compelling, and insightful 140-character excerpts." [more inside]
The Memory of the Netherlands is an image library making available the online collections of museums, archives and libraries. The library provides access to images from the collections of more than one hundred institutions and includes photographs, sculptures, paintings, bronzes, pottery, modern art, drawings, stamps, posters and newspaper clippings. In addition there are also video and sound recordings to see and listen to. The Memory of the Netherlands offers an historic overview of images from exceptional collections, organized by subject to provide easy accessSearch 833928 objects from 133 collections from 100 institutions.
The Spectator Archive was announced today, with searchable, browsable content of the weekly U.K. (conservative-leaning) magazine, from 1828 through 2008. [more inside]
"I think about what has kept me here at the National Archives for all this time. It couldn’t be the bone-wearying monotony of shuffling heavy cartons of records from here to there...No, there’s something else that gets me in the door every morning. Fasteners." A brief survey of various paper clips and their ilk encountered by employees at the National Archives. [more inside]
Reel 2 Real: Sound at the Pitt Rivers Museum is a digitization project that is taking the archival field recordings of the Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford University's museum of ethnography and anthropology), digitizing them, and placing them online with Soundcloud. [more inside]
Daguerreotype portraits were made by the model posing (often with head fixed in place with a clamp to keep it still the few minutes required) before an exposed light-sensitive silvered copper plate, which was then developed by mercury fumes and fixed with salts. This fixing however was far from permanent – like the people they captured the images too were subject to change and decay. They were extremely sensitive to scratches, dust, hair, etc, and particularly the rubbing of the glass cover if the glue holding it in place deteriorated. As well as rubbing, the glass itself can also deteriorate and bubbles of solvent explode upon the image.
BBC's Letter From America archives replenished by Newquay man. Most not kept by the BBC. Amazing piece of radio in and of itself. [previously].
Ephemeral New York 'chronicles an ever-changing, constantly reinvented city through photos, newspaper archives, and other scraps and artifacts that have been edged into New York’s collective remainder bin.' [more inside]
It's one of the best-known photographs in US history, but the fearless steelworkers dining al fresco in "Lunch Atop a Skyscraper" have remained anonymous in the 80 years since it was taken. A new documentary. Men At Lunch, tells the story of the photo and identifies two of its subjects for the first time.
The Google Cultural Institute is the portal for an effort to digitally preserve and present vital historical information using the latest web technologies. Highlights include the World Wonders Project, a geographical tour of UNESCO Heritage sites; Google Art Project (previously), curating 50,000 years of human cultural expression; the Palace of Versailles in 3D and a digital archive of the Dead Sea Scrolls (previously)
UC Santa Cruz announced today the launch of the Grateful Dead Archive Online. It contains over 25,000 digitized items - posters & photographs, audio & video, t-shirts, envelope art... you can even contribute your own content.
For more than two years, scholars and imaging scientists have been using advanced scanning techniques to recover the mostly illegible contents of an 1871 field diary kept by the British explorer David Livingstone in Africa. Low on paper and ink, the explorer had resorted to writing on newspaper sheets, with ink made from berries, and over time the original document had become almost impossible to read. Now the team has unveiled an online “multispectral critical edition” with images, transcriptions, and relevant notes, making Livingstone’s first-person account accessible again. They’ve also created a “Livingstone Spectral Images Archive” to give anyone who wants it direct access to the images, transcriptions, and metadata the project has created, no strings attached. Almost everything in both the edition and the archive comes with a Creative Commons license that allows the contents to be reused with attribution. [more inside]
The diaries of Queen Victoria, totaling 47,000 pages and running from the age of 13 until her death, have been digitized. The site will be free to UK users, but open access for the rest of the world only runs through the end of June.
"At a time when most old films were still protected by copyright and studios were urging the FBI to prosecute individuals owning copyrighted films, movie collecting was a largely underground and somewhat dangerous activity." In 1977, for example, a 20 year old film collector was visited by the FBI. The agents, posing as fellow collectors, entered his home and seized his collection. His case wasn't unique. Even the stars — most famously, Roddy McDowall — were subject to the legal wrath of the very studios they worked for. Still, some collectors got away with it (including one J. D. Salinger). [more inside]
The U.S. National Archives today released the returns from the 1940 national census, providing an invaluable resource to historians and genealogists. At the moment, you'll need to know the particular address you want to see--the records are not yet searchable by name. A companion project seeks to fix that by enlisting your help in a crowdsourced project to index the census data. However, if you're looking for a New York address, you can use this clever site from the New York Public Library to look someone up in the 1940 phone book. (FYI, the site seems to be running a bit sluggishly under first-day load, so you may need to be patient.)
The Nelson Mandela Digital Archive has gone live. The archive organizes Mandela’s papers chronologically and thematically. You can jump into sections covering his Early Life, Prison Years, and Presidential Years, or explore his extensive book collections and work with youngsters or see his first recorded interview from 1961. (via)
"Most of the filmmakers surveyed...were not aware of the perishable nature of digital content or how short its unmanaged lifespan is." After the Motion Picture Academy's release last month of "The Digital Dilemma 2," a warning aimed at independent filmmakers and nonprofit archives, cinematographer John Bailey talks with one of the report's authors about the perils of data migration ("It’s not unreasonable to say that the term "digital preservation" is an oxymoron") and the need to educate filmmakers who are so "enamored with the perceived benefits of digital image capture and workflow" that they fail to realize preservation concerns start to appear almost immediately after their work is completed. Film professor David Bordwell covers the report in a detailed post about preserving "born-digital" films, sixth in his "Pandora's Digital Box" series about the worldwide conversion to digital projection, with lots of good links at the bottom.
"This site is a catalogue raisonné of the art of Utagawa Kuniyoshi. It contains over 5,000 images, counting multi-sheet compositions as single images. An undertaking such as this can never be considered complete..." An archive of the work of Utagawa Kuniyoshi, a 19th century print maker from Japan. Some highlights include sumo wrestlers, triptychs from Genji, the Zodiac, and Tanuki having fun (slightly NSFW). [Via Pink Tentacle.] [more inside]
Today Cambridge University offered a complete free digital archive of the personal papers of Sir Isaac Newton, including the Principa Mathematica and his first published research paper. The archives join a number of efforts to open original works of scientific greatness to the world:
- Charles Darwin's entire personal library, complete with annotations and handwritten marginalia, digitized, indexed, and searchable, part of the Biodiversity Heritage Library (previously)
- Mapping The Republic of Letters and Electronic Enlightenment, wonderful sites showing the communication and social connections of Enlightenment writers.
The history of Toronto in photos is 90 some odd posts linked to provide a thematically organized visual overview. The vast majority of the photographs featured derive from the Toronto Archives. Should you be interested in a less visually oriented take on Toronto history, there is also the Nostalgia Tripping series, which was designed to be a bit more about storytelling than just the photos.
"Once more we're starting to look forward to Christmas. Whilst the shops are advertising all the material things we can look foward to, we're despatching enjoyment in the form of music - treasures from Christmases gone by." - musical advent calendars from the Norwegian Institute for Recorded Sound.
This year the CBC Massey Lectures celebrates fifty years with bestselling author, essayist, cultural observer, and famed New Yorker contributor Adam Gopnik. His subject is winter - the season, the space, the cycle. Gopnik takes us on an intimate tour of the artists, poets, composers, writers, explorers, scientists, and thinkers, who helped shape a new and modern idea of winter. Listen to Winter: Five Windows on the Season Streaming files for this years lecture will be available until Friday, November 18. [more inside]
'“The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975“ is an incredible documentary with an equally incredible story behind it. The film is constructed entirely from hundreds of hours of archival footage of the black power movement, footage that’s not just rare, but unseen; it was shot by a Swedish news crew in the 1960s and 1970s, then left untouched in a Swedish TV station’s cellar for 30 years, where it was discovered by documentary filmmaker Göran Hugo Olsson.' [more inside]
Anyone who was anyone in the literary world of 1920s New York signed the door of Frank Shay's Christopher Street bookshop. The door is now in the collection of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, and they'd like your help identifying the remaining unknown signatures.
The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable. The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study. More on the Declaration: full transcript and ultra-high-resolution scan, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft, the little-known royal rebuttal, a thorough history of the parchment itself, a peek at the archival process, a reading of the document by the people of NPR and by a group of prominent actors, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation, Slate's Twitter summaries, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers.
The Newspaper Map: browse thousands of local, regional and national newspapers from around the world, based on geographical location. Filter and translate languages, see newspaper archives back to the early 19th century, and find fourth estate Twitter and YouTube feeds. A mobile version is also available. via
"Collections wrap bare objects with cultural identity." Smithsonian archivist turned assemblage artist Tracy Hicks finds the seam between two things I didn't think were related -- dispassionate taxonomy and artistic whims. You can catch Hicks' installation at the American Association of Museums conference showing his interpretation of the future of museums (if by "future" you mean a Lovecraftian dystopia.) [more inside]
Bill Blackbeard, founder of the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art, passed away March 10. The Comics Journal calls him "without question or quibble the only absolutely indispensable figure in the history of comics scholarship for the last quarter century." [more inside]
Ryan Richardson maintains several different and somewhat esoteric archives, including the entire five-issue run of the controversialish 70s teen groupie magazine Star, and a collection of covers from pulpy gay and lesbian novels from the 50s and 60s. [more inside]
Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero announced today that Thomas Lowry, a long-time Lincoln researcher from Woodbridge, VA, confessed on January 12, 2011, to altering an Abraham Lincoln Presidential pardon that is part of the permanent records of the U.S. National Archives.
To mark the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's inauguration, the JFK Library has unveiled a new digital archive containing 200,000 pages; 300 reels of audio tape, containing more than 1,245 individual recordings of telephone calls, speeches and meetings; 300 museum artifacts; 72 reels of film; and 1,500 photos.
Photos from the Los Angeles Times Archives from Shirley Temple to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
A great gift for the archivist and/or audiophile in your life! Just in time for the holidays, donate NOW only $60 to preserve for posterity the controversial, the scandalous, the quixotic, the Springsteen-ian, the timeless classics, plus many, many more wax cylinder recordings from UCSB's Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project. [more inside]
More than 1000 diaries kept by surgeons of Britain's Royal Navy between 1793 and 1800 have been cataloged by the National Archives, and are now available for public study. [more inside]
Docs Teach, a new website from the National Archives, offers teachers access to more than 3,000 digitized documents from NARA's collections, along with classroom activities using them. It's the latest in a series of efforts under the recently appointed Archivist of the United States David Ferriero to enhance the agency's presence on the web. (via) [more inside]
This Summer’s Sexiest Images From Saturn. From a billion miles away, the Cassini spacecraft continues to send spectacular images of Saturn and its moons. Cassini has been flying since 1997 and arrived at Saturn in 2004 after flybys of Earth, Venus and Jupiter. Its mission was originally slated to end in 2008, but it got its first 27 month extension to witness Saturn’s equinox. This year, it was given another life extension until 2017 to keep exploring until Saturn’s northern hemisphere summer solstice. [previously] [more inside]
Sounds from Tomorrow's World: Sun Ra and the Chicago Years, 1946-1961 is an exhibition drawn from the collections of the University of Chicago's Chicago Jazz Archive.
30 objects, 40 audio and videocassettes, and 1,425 photographs, among them a Polaroid snapshot of Terry Fox’s artificial leg - Douglas Coupland submits his personal objects to the University of British Columbia. [more inside]
The Story of Dynamite (1925) and The Story of Gasoline (1924): two unusual silent films from the enormously varied and fascinating PublicResource.org's youtube channel. [more inside]
An archive of (nearly) every 120 Minutes (and its successor Subterranean) playlist. The 120 Minutes archive includes playlists for 585 episodes of MTV's seminal alternative rock show and its successor, Subterranean, spanning 1986-2007. The archive includes links to video search for each track played, interviews with those behind the program, a history of its development and demise, and the full video of the series finale. Looking at some of the early episodes, should be enough to crush you under a wave of nostalgia and longing for the days when MTV was what it says on the tin.