About Us

13th Annual Conference


Tuesday April 9, 2019 , 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Hogan Center  College of the Holy Cross • Worcester, MA

Click here to register for the conference.


Breakout Sessions

North Andover High School History Learning Lab:

Our Mission and Our Digital Responsibility

Brian Sheehy, History Department Coordinator, North Andover High School

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In the spring of 2018 the History Department at North Andover High School decided to create the North Andover High School History Learning Lab with the goal being to enhance the learning experience of our students through object based learning and primary source materials. We are doing this in an effort to develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of historical objects in the context of the time period and to bring history alive for our students. We encourage our teachers to visit the lab, but in an effort to extend the reach of the objects inside we have begun the process of documenting and digitizing many of the materials and objects in the lab so that they can be accessible online for our teachers (and hopefully eventually the greater public). This presentation will provide an overview of what we have created in the history lab, how we have started the digitization process of some of our materials, and our vision moving forward. In the presentation I will focus on the responsibility and opportunity history teachers have in accessing and utilizing the rich wealth of digital resources out there.

Brian Sheehy has been a teacher at North Andover High School for 12 years and is currently in his second year as history department coordinator. Brian teaches AP European History, Sports of the Past, and Sports in American Culture. He has traveled all over the country presenting and lecturing on the history of sports and its role in culture and has designed and created professional development for other teachers so that they can use and adopt sports related themes and topics into their everyday history classrooms. Finally Brian is the president of the Essex Base Ball Organization, a non-profit group that plays base ball as it was played in the 19th century.

Building a Community-Based Digital Archive: The Trials, Tribulations, and Thrills of LGBTQintheWoo.org

Joseph Cullon, Associate Teaching Professor, Humanities and Arts, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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LGBTQintheWoo.org emerged as part of a community effort to document, curate, and exhibit Worcester County’s LGBTQ past at the Worcester Historical Museum (WHM). Curators from WHM, the College of the Holy Cross, Clark University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute realized immediately that an archive needed to be built from the ground up to support a physical exhibit opening in April 2019, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Drawing upon the practices of community curation and digital archive management, the curators slowly acquired historical materials as well as community involvement and investment in the larger project. This talk explores the responsibilities, challenges and thrills of situating the project in queer archival methods, community-based collection, oral history, and critical vocabularies.

Joseph Cullon, an Associate Teaching Professor of History and Digital Humanities is a mid-career adopter of digital history practice, so this talk will highlight his own journey and learning curve as the epistemological, technological and practical challenges of LGBTQintheWoo.org push him out of his comfort zone and into publically-engaged practices.

Modeling and Viewing Three-Dimensional Artwork

Michael Gousie, Professor of Computer Science at Wheaton College (MA)

Leah NiederstadtAssistant Professor of Museum Studies, Art History, and Curator of the Permanent Collection Wheaton College (MA) 

Kate Boylan, Director of Archives & Digital Initiatives at Wheaton College (MA)

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While digitization of collections is now common practice in the museum field, thousands of objects languish in storage at academic institutions, which often lack the resources to implement comprehensive digitization programs. This is certainly true at Wheaton College (Norton, Massachusetts), home to the Beard & Weil Galleries, which mount temporary exhibitions of contemporary art, and to a collection of more than 7,000 objects. Given basic resources, it is relatively easy to photograph two-dimensional artwork and display the image on a universally available webpage or digital platform. However, when artwork is three-dimensional (3D), such as a vessel or piece of jewelry, two-dimensional images fail to provide a complete view of the object. As part of a Spring 2018 Student Interest Group (SIG) funded by Wheaton’s IMAGINE Network, students, faculty, and staff collaborated on a digitization project for Wheaton’s Permanent Collection. Specifically, we created 3D models of African objects so they can be viewed dynamically and realistically on the web.

Making these images available and accessible, complete with all relevant metadata, is where we encounter questions surrounding responsibilities in the digital age: We know how to make the images accessible, but are we doing so with pertinent historical and donor information? By virtue of including relevant metadata, are we inherently excluding key points of description? How accurately do the images represent the physical object? How do we historically and culturally contextualize these digital surrogates? How do we make them accessible to their source communities? As we continue developing and curating this project, we must remember to ask these questions.

The project has met several key goals. First, the resulting webpage allows anyone – Wheaton faculty, staff, and students, outside researchers, and the public – to view the objects without having to make an appointment with the collection’s curator or to visit campus. Second, it helps preserve the objects by reducing the need for repeated handling; in fact, the 3D models allow viewers to zoom in on the objects and see details beyond the capability of the human eye. Finally, it engaged the students in experiential and service learning and fostered interdisciplinary collaboration.

The process of creating a 3D model of artwork entails several steps. The first is to coordinate with collections staff to access the object. This process can take some time depending on institutional policies and resources. Next, we create digital images of the object from numerous angles. To do this, our students constructed a turntable connected to a small motor to rotate the object at a slow, constant rate. A digital camera then records a 360 degree video of the object as it turns. OpenCV software is used to extract hundreds of still photographs from the video, representing the object as seen from almost any angle. The next step is to convert these images into a 3D model using photogrammetry techniques. Software generates thousands of points with known x (horizontal) and y (vertical) coordinates. The points from one image are matched with points in the same location on the object on another image. Coordinates are mapped [or plotted] with all points that overlap in neighboring images. By using triangulation techniques, the z coordinate, or depth, is calculated, yielding a 3D point. When all of the points are triangulated, a 3D “point cloud” is formed. Once converted to a 3D mesh, which means that all of the points are connected to form a surface, software generates a file of this 3D mesh, along with files that detail the colors and textures that each area of the mesh should represent. Together, these files define the 3D model, which can then be viewed on a traditional browser using software such as RealityCapture and Online 3D Viewer.

Our students created a webpage that incorporates this software, allowing viewers to interact with the artwork in three dimensions. The objects are rendered in fine detail and their color and texture closely match the original artifact. Users can use a mouse or touchscreen to zoom in or out and to rotate the object easily in any direction, thereby allowing views at any angle/orientation. Furthermore, the 3D model files are stored in a standard format used by virtual reality (VR) software. Thus, our models can be viewed in virtual 3D, providing an even more realistic experience.

Such projects provide hands-on, object-based and curatorial learning for our students and enhance collaboration across disciplines and between faculty, staff, and students. They also allow artwork to be accessed by wider audiences and help preserve it physically and digitally. Ultimately, we would like this project — especially the 3D models, related 2D images, and object information — and similar forms of scholarship to be harvested by platforms such as the Digital Commonwealth and DPLA.

Michael Gousie is a Professor of Computer Science at Wheaton College (MA), where he has taught for 21 years. He earned an MS in computer science from the University of New Hampshire and a PhD in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His dissertation work was in three-dimensional terrain reconstruction and geographic information systems (GIS). Besides topics in GIS, his current research interests are in developing novel methods for the visualization of multivariate data. But mostly he goes skiing.

Leah Niederstadt is an Assistant Professor of Museum Studies, Art History, and is Curator of the Permanent Collection at Wheaton College (MA). She earned both an M.Phil and D.Phil from the University of Oxford, and a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Michigan. Leah is an anthropologist by training; her research focuses on contemporary expressive culture in Ethiopia, where she has conducted fieldwork since 2000, and on the management and use of academic collections.

Kate Boylan is the Director of Archives & Digital Initiatives at Wheaton College (MA), serving as both a technology specialist and teaching partner. She is responsible for conceiving, planning and implementing projects to digitize and preserve the unique materials and scholarship of Wheaton, including initiatives for research data management; faculty, student and collaborative publication; digital preservation; and asset management.

Words with Friends: Digital Preservation Peer Assessment

Becky Geller, Preservation Services team, Northeast Document Conservation Center

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Are you responsible for preserving your digital collections and ensuring that they will survive for future generations to access? We all recognize the need to preserve digital materials--and that planning and implementing a digital preservation program is a complex undertaking. You can determine your next steps toward preserving these materials by learning about digital preservation assessment and sharing knowledge with your community of practice. A Digital Preservation Peer Assessment can help document the decision making process and benchmark the rationales behind your policies and activities with your colleagues in the field.

In this session, you will gain an understanding of the challenges of digital preservation and the ways that assessment can make those challenges more manageable. We will describe how a digital preservation assessment works and acquaint you with the newly-released, freely-available Digital Preservation Peer Assessment Framework by trying it out!

Experiential Element: Peer Assessment Exercise – Pairs of participants will interview each other using the Digital Preservation Peer Assessment Framework provided by NEDCC.

Becky Geller joined the Preservation Services team at NEDCC in 2018, and provides preservation information and outreach, including assessments, consultations, training programs, and disaster assistance. She is a Certified Archivist and has nearly ten years of experience in public libraries, having previously held positions at the Denver Public Library. Last summer, she attended the Digital Preservation Assessment Training Institute and began conducting Digital Preservation Assessments, as well as learned the framework for Digital Preservation Peer-Assessment. These projects are presented by NEDCC in partnership with LYRASIS, supported by an NEH grant for a Digital Preservation Assessment Training program.

Rights Statements as Essential Practice

Kyle K. Courtney, Copyright Advisor, Harvard University, Harvard Library Office for Scholarly Communication.   

Tom Lingner, Customer Service Manager, Harvard Library’s Imaging Services department. 

Emily KilcerScholarly Communication Librarian, University at Albany

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Digitization in libraries and cultural institutions has become a routine and recognized value-added activity. By digitizing our unique content, these now-online works are more easily discovered and manipulated, lending themselves to new, innovative uses.

As standard as it is to extend access to and share our wealth of content in this way, a persistent weakness in this process has been our silence on, or inaccurate, incomplete, or opaque rights statements for this work. As a result, we are delivering content to researchers who are unclear as to how they can make use of and reuse our collections.

One might ask, is it our role or responsibility to provide this information to our users? We believe that, yes: we need to do better.

With the release of RightsStatements.org in April 2016, and SAA’s Guide to Implementing Rights Statements from RightsStatements.org in December 2016, a standardized path for managing rights statements has been proposed. We will discuss the statements, addressing potential areas for localized fine-tuning; identify the risks and rewards of naming the rights status of work in digital collections metadata; and discuss ways to empower our community to assign these designations.

Examining known use cases of early adoption, including University of Miami, Duke, Penn State, and Washington University, we find examples of institutions that are willing to engage with the challenge of disambiguating past practice from best practice to embolden their users. We believe these test cases serve as a proof of concept that this effort can, and must, be made.

Kyle K. Courtney is the Copyright Advisor for Harvard University, working out of the Harvard Library Office for Scholarly Communication. He works closely with Harvard Library to establish a culture of shared understanding of copyright issues among Harvard staff, faculty, and students. His work at Harvard also includes a role as the copyright and information policy advisor for HarvardX. His “Copyright First Responders” initiative was profiled in Library Journal, and he was named a National Academic Library Mover & Shaker in 2015. In 2014, he co-founded Fair Use Week, now an international celebration sponsored annually by over 100 universities, libraries, and other institutions.

Tom Lingner is the Customer Service Manager for Harvard Library’s Imaging Services department. His unit serves scholars and researchers from around the world, and tackling copyright and usage questions is a part of the daily routine. Before coming to Harvard, Tom spent 20 years as a freelance architectural and museum photographer in and around Boston, with a couple summers as a teaching photographer on an archaeological dig site in Tuscany thrown in for good measure. He was a French major at Beloit College, he commutes year-round by bicycle, and is co-author of a daily blog reviewing the NYT crossword puzzle.

Emily Kilcer is the Scholarly Communication Librarian at the University at Albany where she is helping to nurture a culture and services in support of open access efforts on campus. Before joining UAlbany Emily spent several years at Harvard's Office for Scholarly Communication on projects that supported outreach and education around copyright, licensing, open access, and electronic theses and dissertations.

Caring for Your Distant Researcher:

Establishing Connection and Trust in the Digital Age

Olga Umansky, Archivist and Librarian, Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute 

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My presentation will focus on the work with remote archival researchers: authors, historians, biographers, and college professors who cannot travel to our archives for various reasons and have to rely on our reference services, scans, and shared audio files. How do we establish connection and mutual trust and become caregivers and active research participants without face-to-face interaction? How do we navigate the balance between transparency and restrictions, protect confidential and sensitive materials, respect copyrights all while relying on data sharing sites, emails, and a delegated research? How do we engage researchers in creation of our collective memory, encouraging them share their findings with others?

I manage a relatively small special archive pertaining to the history of psychoanalysis in Boston and New England. Our manuscript collections include personal papers of early members, some of them students of Freud who fled Vienna and came to Boston after the Nazi invasion, historic and administrative records of our own society and several other organizations engaged in psychoanalytic studies of children and adults, portraits, photographs, sound and video recordings of psychoanalytic lectures and Oral Histories. I specifically would like to point out our Oral History materials, because they are a good example of records, not only preserved, but actively and radically created by both archivists and researchers. Our collection of Oral History Transcripts of interview and workshops of the American Psychoanalytic Association is extremely popular and often used by researchers in Austria, Germany, England, Australia, Japan, Canada and everywhere in the United States. Taking these materials as an example, I would like to outline the best practices our archive adopted in caring for distant researchers:

1. Asking for a letter of intent by email. Informal letters work too, keeping the language straight and simple for foreign researchers (I will give an example of an email exchange with the researcher in Germany)

2. Following-up with a phone call when research is complicated (I will give an example of a recent work with an Australian researcher writing a dissertation and looking for a missing archive)

3. Know your restrictions and copyrights and explain them upfront (I will give an example of our work with a lawyer to understand the copyright provisions of Oral Histories and share how I advise researchers on obtaining proper permissions from various Trusts and Estates)

4. Inform researchers of your fees up and request a confirmation that they can and will pay. Give estimates. Create a hassle-free online payment system and make sure it works outside of the US (examples of systems we used, such as PayPal and DonorPerfect, fee structure, problems, etc.)

5. Following up and staying in touch with your researcher. We treat them as colleagues and collaborators and they give back! (I will give examples of recent researchers who deposited their own dissertations, books, photographs, and interviews to our archives). Our library features a “Books we helped publish” shelf.

Olga Umansky, M.L.S., is an archivist and librarian at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute responsible for an operation of the psychoanalytic library and archives, Meet the Author events, historic publications, database subscriptions and special research projects. For over a decade, Olga has led many archival initiatives, including the migration of finding aids to the XML format, digitization of audio and photo collections, curation of WGBH video recordings, facilitation of archival exhibits and development of document delivery services. Olga is one of the authors of “Grete Bibring: A Culinary Biography” (BPSI, 2015) and “Sanford Gifford, 1918-2013" (American Imago, 2017) and a member of the History, Library and Archives Committee of the American Psychoanalytic Association, Society of American Archivists (SAA), and New England Archivists (NEA). Her previous careers included electronic publishing at Wolters Kluwer and radio journalism in Ukraine. She is a graduate of the Simmons College School of Library and Information Science.

Visualizing W. E. B. Du Bois: Bringing Archives into the Digital Age

Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Center, UMass Amherst
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Even since before his death in 1963, W. E. B. Du Bois’s ideas and scholarship have been of great significance to historians and citizens interested in the history of race relations, civil rights, and socioeconomic equality. His significance resonates into our own, often troubled, times and for this reason, the W. E. B. Du Bois Papers, and related collections, continue to have a great value to faculty, staff, and community members in the Amherst area. We must, however, ask the question: how does an archive engage a new generation of researchers and scholars entrenched in digital scholarship? One way to do this is through a visualization process that builds on the existing collection at UMass, Amherst and that appeals to scholars from across the globe. The W. E. B. Du Bois Library is engaged in the building of a Virtual Reality tour of the W. E. B. Du Bois Boyhood Homesite, a seamless connection to the rich Du Bois digital archive. In the VR studio, visitors virtually walk inside Du Bois’s boyhood home, hear his voice, look at the Housatonic River as he would have seen it, and view three-dimensional objects found in archaeological excavations. Visualization techniques such as these provide exciting new ways to bring the archive to life.

Whitney Battle-Baptiste, a native of the Bronx, New York, is a scholar and activist who sees the classroom and the campus as a space to engage contemporary issues with a sensibility of the past. Her academic training is in history and historical archaeology. Her research is primarily focused on how the intersection of race, gender, class and sexuality look through an archaeological lens. Her work ranges from interpreting captive African domestic spaces at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage Plantation, to the early history of school segregation in Boston at the Abiel Smith School on Beacon Hill, to the W. E. B. Du Bois Homesite (or House of the Black Burghardts) in Great Barrington, Mass., or the complexities of creating a community-driven heritage tourist site at Millars Plantation, on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera – her ability to translate material culture and artifacts into complex interpretations of African American domestic life has made her a pioneer in her field. Her first book, Black Feminist Archaeology (Left Coast Press, 2011), outlines the basic tenets of Black feminist thought and research for archaeologists and shows how it can be used to improve contemporary historical archaeology as a whole. At the moment, she is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and serves as the Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Center at UMass Amherst. Whitney holds a B.A. in History/Secondary Education, Virginia State University, an M.A. in History, The College of William & Mary, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin, African Diaspora Program in Anthropology.

Copyright and Intellectual Property Law: Q&A with An Expert

Michael Melford, Of counsel to Frieze, Cramer, Rosen & Huber LLP, IP consultant, Hurwit & Associates

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In this session, attorney Mike Melford will answer legal questions concerning copyright and intellectual property. Come prepared with questions regarding your specific collection, or just request clarification on specific areas in copyright law.

Michael Melford advises clients throughout the world in the fields of entertainment, publishing, advertising, and the arts. He concentrates on protection of intellectual property rights, including copyrights and trademarks, and on transactions involving the exploitation of creative works. He has written music for motion picture soundtracks and produced record albums, winning a Grammy. He is of counsel to the firm of Frieze, Cramer, Rosen & Huber LLP and consults on IP matters for clients of Hurwit & Associates, legal counsel for philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. He is a cum laude graduate of Boston College Law School.

Hyperlocal Histories and Digital Storytelling: Encouraging Creative, Collaborative, and Responsible Uses of Digital Collections

Jim McGrath, Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Public HumanitiesBrown University‘s John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Providence, RI

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Drawing on experiences working on Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive and on digital initiatives at Brown University’s John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, this session documents where people are using digital collections in projects and public programming, why we should anticipate and support a variety of uses of materials (exhibits, podcasts, social media), and where we can encourage best practices in project development and long-term preservation.

Jim McGrath is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Public Humanities at Brown University, where he teaches graduate-level courses and supports a range of digital initiatives. He received his Ph.D in English from Northeastern University, where he was Project Co-Director of Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive. He is on Twitter @JimMc_Grath.

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