All posts by Jill Katte Vermillion

Images of the Protestant Family

Learning the Christian WayIn our March build, we collaborated with Duke’s Divinity School Library to republish a collection entitled Images of mainline Protestant children and families in the U.S., which features articles and advertising images of children and families in the U.S. from Protestant-supported or targeted magazines.

The collection includes images depicting family size and health, articles and advertisements on scientific nutrition, and other images directly related to scientific progress and domesticity. Also included are images depicting families in Protestant mission settings. Content for the collection was selected by Dr. Amy Laura Hall and Andrew Keck in the Duke Divinity School.

We acknowledge the generous support of the ATLA/ATS Cooperative Digital Resources Initiative (CDRI), funded by the Luce Foundation, and the Valparaiso Child in Religion and Ethics Program, funded by the Lilly Foundation.

The collection is also part of the American Theological Library Association and the Association of Theological Schools Cooperative Digital Resources Initiative.

Building the Broadsides Collection: A Large-Scale Digitization Approach

I’m happy to report that work on the Broadsides and Ephemera Collection has begun! The source content for this project is an artificial collection in Duke’s Special Collections Library, dated 1790-1940. Truly an interdisciplinary collection, it includes materials related to political campaigns, politics, theater, dance, museum exhibitions, advertising, travel, expositions, and military campaigns, and it presents historical perspectives on race relations, gender, and religion. On many items, you can still see holes in the upper corners from the original posting of the signs and flyers.

Aside from past processing decisions that brought this artificial collection together in the first place, we will do no selection before digitization. Our goal is to digitize ALL of the content (roughly 5,000 items) and to use it as an example of an “open-ended” digital collection. If we aquire additional broadsides and posters, they can be digitized and added to this collection on an ongoing basis.

We also consider this project as digitization of a hidden collection: the early broadsides and posters are a significant, but underutilized resource. Continue reading Building the Broadsides Collection: A Large-Scale Digitization Approach

Visions and Designs from Bloomsbury

This month, we published a small collection of Bloomsbury Group-related materials in Manuscripts and Woodcuts: Visions and Designs from Bloomsbury. It features a handwritten, manuscript draft of Elizabeth and Essex by Lytton Strachey and a collection of woodcut illustrations by Roger Fry, as well as letters and book covers. This collection accompanies a Duke University Libraries exhibit on the Bloomsbury Group entitled “‘How Full of Life Those Days Seemed’: New Approaches to Art, Literature, Sexuality, and Society in Bloomsbury” that is part of a year-long celebration at Duke, Vision and Design: A Year of Bloomsbury,

William Emerson Strong Photo Album

Also published in the October 2008 build, the William Emerson Strong Photo Album contains 200 cartes-de-visite (card photographs) mostly published in the mid-1860s. Subjects include officers in the Confederate Army and Navy, officials in the Confederate government, famous Confederate wives, and other notable figures of the Confederacy. Sixty-four photographs can be attributed to noted Civil War photographer Mathew Brady, with nine photographs issued by Brady himself and 55 issued by E. & H. T. Anthony & Co., a photograph marketing firm that acquired the Brady negatives in 1865.

As of December 2008, the digital collection includes the cartes-de-visite images; we plan to add images of the photo album pages in 2009.

Michael Francis Blake Photographs

One of the five collections we published in our October build was the Michael Francis Blake Photographs digital collection. The collection features 117 photographs of men, women, and children taken between 1912-1934 by Michael Francis Blake, who opened one of the first African-American photography studios in Charleston, S.C. The images come from photographic album entitled “Portraits of Members,” which might have been used by clients in the studio to select the backdrop and props they wanted in their photographs.

Americans in the Land of Lenin

We’re excited to announce the publication of the digital collection, Americans in the Land of Lenin: Documentary Photographs of Early Soviet Russia, 1919-1930. This collection of photographs of daily life in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is drawn from the personal papers of Robert L. Eichelberger and Frank Whitson Fetter, two ordinary Americans who found themselves in an extraordinary place and time. Both men left unique photos of their encounter with ordinary individuals of the self-proclaimed first socialist country in the world. Their images of life in the Soviet provinces between the World Wars reveal an agrarian, multi-ethnic country, still reeling under the impact of the revolutionary forces unleashed at the beginning of the 20th-century. This collection complements the resources in the University of Michigan’s Polar Bear Expedition Digital Collections.

Erik Zitser, the sponsor of this digitization project, published a longer description of the Eichelberger photos in his article: Images of the Russian Civil War in Siberia in the Robert L. Eichelberger Collection at Duke University Libraries.

Please feel free to leave feedback and suggestions for this collection in the comments.

Vica Nazi Propaganda Comics

Vica Defie l'Oncle Sam cover

The Vica Nazi Propaganda Comics is one of the collections we published in our October build. According to, Duke University’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library holds the only copies of this comic in the United States. The Nazi-controlled government in France produced the Vica comic during World War II as a propaganda tool against the Allied forces. The digital collection features the three published issues of the comic: Vica au Paradis de l’U.R.S.S, Vica contre le service secret anglais, and Vica défie l’Oncle Sam (representing the Allied forces: USSR, England, and US). The comics could support research in multiple disciplines, such as World War II history, French language and culture, popular media, comic arts, and propaganda.

We’d love to get feedback on this collection in the comments.

Keeping coordinated

Little Katie Chewing Tobacco, Duke Digital Collections

Will’s introduction of himself and of “megadata” inspired me to do an introduction, too. I’m Jill Katte, Coordinator of the Digital Collections Program in the Duke University Libraries. The Digital Collections Program currently focuses primarily on digitizing and publishing on-line our unique manuscripts, rare books, documentary photographs, historic advertisements, popular music, and much more, primarily from Duke’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library and University Archives (where I worked from 2002-2007). My main role is to move these digitization projects from the idea phase all the way through to completion. I serve as a planner, project manager, liaison, communicator, negotiator, and cheerleader.

Most of the digital collection project ideas come from curators, but some have been submitted by Duke faculty, staff, and visiting scholars. I collaborate with these folks to develop their ideas into project proposals. Once the proposals get approved, production of the digital collections is accomplished by a cross-functional group called the digital collections implementation team. Team members represent several departments in the Duke University Libraries: Mike Adamo and Brian Davis (Digital Production Center), Noah Huffman (RBMSCL), Rich Murray (Metadata & Cataloging), Will Sexton (Information Systems), Sean Aery and Tom Crichlow (Digital Projects), and me (Collections Services). It is truly a dream-team, and I’m so lucky to be a part of it.

New Digital Collections website and discovery system

I am pleased to announce that the new Digital Collections website and discovery system are live:

The success of this project would not have been possible without the hard work and outstanding abilities of Will Sexton and Sean Aery. I would also like to thank Tom Crichlow and Sarah Kahn for their excellent work migrating web-based content into the CMS and for re-designing the digital collections home pages.

The new site includes the following digital collections migrated from the Dynaweb system: Ad*Access, Emergence of Advertising in America, Historic American Sheet Music, Medicine and Madison Avenue, William Gedney Photographs and Writings, and the Guido Mazzoni Pamphlet Collection. In the coming months, all of our existing digitized collections, as well as new collections, will be added into this system.

The Digital Collections site will continue to evolve based on user feedback. We have received valuable comments from you about making the new site as effective and user-friendly as possible, and we welcome additional feedback. We also are working with the Digital Projects Dept. to conduct a formal usability test of the new interface this spring.

Stay tuned for updates on progress, upcoming digital collections, and a revised digital collections proposal process.