The collection is completely digitized and described! We made it!
The collection is completely digitized and described! We made it!
With a mere 30 hours remaining (!) in my internship, I can’t help but reflect (again) on how quickly this project has flown by.
In the approximately 200 hours on-site, the entire collection has been physically reprocessed and scanned; nearly 900 items have been uploaded to SDSU’s iBase; and nearly 250 items have been assigned metadata. This just leaves about 50 more items to be uploaded, and around 700 items to be assigned metadata!
During this time, I have also: gotten lost in the library countless times; been amazed by the beauty of campus; been frustrated by imperfection; been stumped when information eluded my grasp; toured the secrets of the archives; explored the build IT space; raised a fist of protest; accumulated a variety of imagery from the collection; and constantly doubted if I would ever finish this project in time.
Luckily, I was surrounded by the most wonderful group of individuals possible, who only encouraged me to press on.
So, as I begin my final days in the beauty of Love Library and sunny San Diego, I would like to conclude by offering my sincerest gratitude to everyone who has assisted with this project and helped make it a reality.
To the numerous, intelligent friends I have made: it has been a sincere pleasure making your acquaintance, and I look forward to our paths crossing again.
To the student workers who scanned nearly half the collection: if it weren’t for you, I would still be knee-deep in Box 7, crying.
To the information professionals, such as Katie Rombiles and Arel Lucas, who have given sage advice and words of wisdom: your patience is astounding, your knowledge is endless, and your assistance is calming!
To my caring and supportive supervisors, Lisa Lamont and Amanda Lanthorne: thank you for taking a chance on this Hoosier and encouraging me every step of the way.
Until next time, SCUA and Digital Collections.
One of my earlier blog posts described the dominance of the fist imagery throughout the collection; however, the collection as a whole is highly visual– every flyer, piece of newspaper, pamphlet, business card, etc., seems to have a provocative image.
Some of these images are recurring, and extended beyond a single file, folder, or even box as they are found throughout the collection, such as the peace sign…
..or the bird.
Others were made specifically for one poster, and were carefully crafted with a distinct image in mind.
Others, well, are others!
This collection never cease to amaze and intrigue me– I never know what will be hiding in the next folder!
I chose the above image to serve as the thumbnail to summarize the Radical Ephemera collection in SDSU’s database. It was one of the first things I noticed within the collection during the physical reprocessing. The simplicity and power of the image stuns me, and the unmistakable message of resistance through words is truly what the collection is about.
As I continued to scan pages and work through box after box, I was struck by how pervasive the raised fist is throughout the collection. With such a forceful and unifying symbol, both powerful and reserved, the raised fist was, and is, a rallying cry for revolutionaries. So, as I scanned away, I created a little folder to stuff full of fist imagery, in effect creating my own little collection within a collection to show how dominate the symbol truly is.
Although I could write blog posts on each of the following images, as well as their contexts, I have chosen to only lightly annotate the following mini-gallery, as the symbol speaks for itself. Please feel free to leave questions or comments below!
The Fists of Revolution
There are the simple fists…
the realistic fists…
the fists of peace…
the fists for women’s rights…
the fists of prisoners…
the fists of socialism…
and the fists that blend feminism and Aztec imagery…
I have not included every fist in this post, as many are repetitive. However, I am nearly certain that more will be discovered as the remainder of the collection is digitized. If any additional, unique fists are discovered, they will be added.
As a future information professional, I pride myself on my ability to find information. After finding the above intriguing journal, sharing a variation of my name, I decided I would perform a quick search, write a riveting blog post about my discoveries, and dash off to the weekend.
Needless to say, I was wrong.
Barring the title, year, and volume/issue number, I had very little to go on. The journal is written entirely in Spanish, and despite living in Southern California for many years, my knowledge of the language is both rudimentary and severely limited.
After combining the known elements of the journal into various search terms, yielding no results, I began thumbing through the issue, looking for clues I may have missed. I stumbled on the following:
Asociacion Latinoamericana de Mujeres
Association of Latinamerican Women
Box 5099- 163 05 SPÅNGA- SUECIA
Upon discovering that Spånga is located in Sweden and combining it with the journal title, I finally had a result. Despite the sparse metadata and the images that left much to be desired, I had a starting point. From here, it was a short leap to the WorldCat entry and HathiTrust catalog record. It took only moments for me to realize how incomplete these records are. HathiTrust describes the language as Swedish and defines a narrow date range, based solely on the copies they scanned, and WorldCat was simply vague.
These sites left me unsatisfied and more puzzled than when I had started. Why was a journal sponsored by the Association of Latin American Women being published in Sweden? Who founded the journal? Why is there so little metadata? And, most of all, who is Micaela?
Regretfully, the ending of this story is not a happy one.
After numerous searches, both online and through the single issue that resides in SCUA, I found Professor Olga Martín de Hammar. With the help of Google Translate, which is quite imperfect, I discovered she had been exiled to Sweden in 1976, and founded the publication MICAELA in 1978, which focused on women, exile, and life under dictatorships.
With regards to the appalling lack of metadata, it appears that there is simply a great deal of mystery surrounding this journal. Published in Spanish and Swedish, the journal may not have often made it’s way to America, instead residing in foreign archives.
Lastly, I am still uncertain who Micaela was. Although I have no evidence to support this claim, I strongly believe it was titled after Micaela Bastidas. Although born Spanish, Micaela supported the Peruvian Revolution for Independence in 1780, earning prestige both politically and militarily. However, the revolution weakened in 1781, and Micaela, alongside numerous revolutionaries, was captured, found guilty of treason, and executed in a gruesome fashion.
To conclude, I’m not sure where to start or end, except with a call for help. If you happen to have any information to contribute about any of the above topics or links, comment below or send me an email!
Something of no lasting significance– usually used in plural.
plural : paper items (such as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles.
After reading the above definition (source), it should come as no surprise that the collection “Radical Ephemera and Underground Publications,” poses unique digitization problems, mostly stemming from the fact that these manuscripts are ephemeral in nature.
This collection, as the name states, is composed of a wide-variety of materials, the vast majority of which were printed quickly on low-quality paper. In a hurry to post the fliers and publish the newsletters, the creators of these documents often did not care if the type set was perfectly level or if the paper was loaded correctly.
The Strike Committee, who produced the flier to the right, posted these around the SDSU campus (then San Diego State College) to gather support for a strike. The type is legible, due in large part to the persistence of the ink. However, one large problem is found at the bottom of the page. Due to the slanted type, the text, believed to say, “US out of Vietnam NOW,” and the bottom of the fist/peace image, has been eliminated from the flier due to quick and haphazard reproduction.
Additionally, as is clear in this flier and the one below, these ephemera often were treated carelessly: large creases, wrinkled edges, and folded corners are more than common throughout the collection. These can leave papers with uneven sides and cause additional problems when scanning.
The flier on the left is fading quickly, leaving much of the lettering and the peace sign in the bottom left corner nearly invisible.
With problems such as these, getting the best possible scan can prove really challenging. With the Strike Committee flier, crooked lettering means scans will look sloppy and slanted. With the Grass Roots Society flier, adjusting the coloring to make the lettering legible means inaccurately representing the color of the paper.
Deciding how far to edit images, such as to crop and rotate paper or excessively adjust exposure or color, can be challenging. Having these conversations early in the scanning process will save time, and result in a digital collection to be proud of.
The 1960’s-70’s were a time of protest around the world. Unlike previous generations, these individuals, mostly like-minded college students, were eager to change their world and had the opportunity to do so.
In America, resurgences of Feminism, the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War protests, the Labor Union struggles, and a general suspicion of both government and corporations led to countless protests and struggles across the nation. Activists were spreading their messages far and wide through leaflets, fliers, essays, underground publications, and numerous other written works, and university campuses were hotbeds of activity.
San Diego State University (then San Diego State College) was no exception, as is clearly evidenced in their collection “Radical Ephemera and Underground Publications.” Although not every flier or pamphlet made or distributed on campus was preserved, this collection is rather complete and thorough, as it presents a wide variety of views and opinions.
This summer, as a Project Archivist Intern, I will have the privilege of digitizing the collection and making it accessible online. Follow this blog to receive updates on items in the collection, the overall progress, and my personal experiences!