Is this email not displaying correctly? Click here to view it in your browser.
Clarke Historical Library

April 2020

Director?s Note from Frank Boles: Working During a Pandemic

March has been an extraordinary month for almost everyone, not the least of which has been the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the operations of the Clarke Historical Library. Like the rest of the library staff, I am now working from home ?for the duration.? What that means is, in addition to the resources always available online the library?s staff is busy doing their regular jobs, with one important exception, reference. Unfortunately, to answer most reference questions that come to the library we need access to the material in the collection. I trust that people who are still sending us reference requests will understand that while we are monitoring email and messages left on the telephone, we can only create a log of inquiries to be dealt with as soon as we can return to the library itself, on campus.

But a tremendous amount of work is being accomplished, some typically done every day and some often postponed, is being undertaken. Marian Matyn, the library?s archivist, is spending time preparing finding aids to be eventually uploaded onto the internet, making collections more accessible, as well as documenting CMU?s response to COVID-19 for the University Archives. In Cataloging, records are being created for uploading into the catalog, making material discoverable in the future.

Although the Microfilm and Digitization project cannot photograph newspaper pages onto microfilm or scan new material, the unit?s staff continues to manage digitization projects with customers throughout the state, communicate with contracted vendors in three countries as well as with the Library of Congress, while also conducting quality control work, remotely, on existing scans. One example of this work will be over 70,000 newspaper pages from Paw Paw coming online at the library?s newspaper portal later this month.

Bryan Whitledge is busy continuing his work on University electronic records and records management. He is also bringing a few seconds of delight everyday with videos of pop-up books on the Clarke?s social media channels.

While reference librarian John Fierst cannot do much reference, he is working on a long-discussed project to transcribe and place online some of the John Greenleaf Whittier letters in the library?s collection. Whittier was a strident activist opposing slavery and well-known nineteenth century poet. The Whittier papers in the Clarke are both extensive and interesting.

As for myself, there are grants to be written, letters to compose, material about the current exhibit that can be drafted for eventual use on the website, and similar tasks to be done. In these stressful times, I often remind people of the great pandemic of 1918, which caused campus to close and left two members of the Central community dead. It was very, very bad, but it eventually ended. So, too will the COVID-19 pandemic we are currently enduring.

Take care and be well.

Clarke Online Research Options

Although the library building is closed and physical collections inaccessible until further notice, research into Clarke collections can still be done through our always available online resources, such as bibliographies and manuscript collection finding aids. These are found from the Material & Reference tab on our web page. CMU Digital Collections are found at this tab too, providing direct access to actual publications, documents, and images from the Clarke. Other resources listed below can also be accessed from the same Material & Reference tab.

There are bibliographies for a wide range of Michigan related topics including: African American history, children?s schoolbooks, the Civil War, the Broadside Press, international children?s books, Michigan cookbooks, Michigan local history, Native Americans, Underground Railroad and women?s history.

Do you need to know what is in our manuscript collections or whose manuscripts collections we have? The Finding Aids include searchable finding aids, or descriptive guides, to more than 530 manuscript collections.

The CMU Digital Collections include multiple, searchable digitized collections that are openly available.

For state and local history, try the nearly one million pages of Michigan newspapers digitized by Clarke and found through our Digital Collections or in Chronicling America, a database maintained by the Library of Congress. Like DigMichNews, Chronicling America is also free and includes newspapers from most states and territories.

Want to see what your dad looked like in 1970? Try not to bust your gut laughing as you peruse the CMU History collections, which include CMU publications including the Chippewa yearbook, Central Michigan Life, its predecessor Central State Life, and others.

Interested in CMU scholarship? Try the CMU Scholarly and Creative Works, which includes select dissertations and thesis, among other collections.

If you need some eye candy, try select examples of children?s books or Michigan history books, or images of Ernest Hemingway?s childhood in the Clarke Digital Collections.

A fan of the Soo Locks? Enjoy the scans of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers? glass-plate negatives of the construction and renovation of the Soo Locks.

On the Clarke homepage you can also access the Research Resources tab to view our in-depth bibliographies of primary and secondary sources on various Michigan topics.

Lastly, during the current public health emergency there are organizations and institutions allowing limited time free access to their digitized, searchable collections including JSTOR (academic journal articles) and Project MUSE (academic journal articles and books) and the National Archives and Records Administration records on Ancestry.

Welcome Laura Thompson

Laura Thompson has joined the Clarke Historical Library?s staff as our new cataloger, as well as having responsibility for cataloging music in the University Library. While new to the Clarke Historical Library, Laura has been at Central Michigan University since 2015. Prior to her new role as Cataloger and Music Librarian, she worked as a Research and Instruction Librarian in the University Library, supporting the areas of music, art & design, fashion merchandising & design, interior design, and recreation, parks, and leisure. In 2014, she received her MLS and MA in Musicology degrees from Indiana University, Bloomington (IU), where she specialized in Music Librarianship.

Her cataloging experience includes working with historical sound recording formats (78s, LPs, 45s, cassettes, reel-to-reel tapes, acetate transcription discs) and accompanying documentation at the Archives of Traditional Music at IU. She also participated in a month-long codicology (the study of codices or manuscript books written on parchment [or paper] as physical objects) and manuscript description course in Italy, titled, ?Musical Collectorship in Italy in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: A Survey of the Greggiati Collection in Ostiglia and a Model of Electronic Research Tool.? The project studied and worked with early 19th-century Italian music manuscripts (mostly Italian opera). She described these materials for inclusion in an eventual digital tool that makes possible both connecting data from different musical collections and also help scholars reconstruct how the music was gathered together and collected. She gained additional experience working with special collections materials as a student working in IU?s Lilly Library.

She is very excited to be able to put her knowledge into practice working with the collections of the Clarke Historical Library.

The Surprise and Wonder of Pop-Up Books

Clarke Historical Library social media accounts are featuring short videos of books found in our new exhibit, the Surprise and Wonder of Pop-Up Books. Every day, you can catch a glimpse of one of the items we have on display. This is a fun and engaging way to admire the ingenuity and artistry found in pop-up books from the comfort of wherever you are practicing social distancing.

Hathi Trust: Centuries of Information at Your Fingertips

From the first days of the computer age, there has been a dream of unlimited, immediate access to the information created by humanity over the centuries. Nearly 50 years after the first digital library, Project Gutenberg, we are as close to that dream as ever, thanks to Hathi Trust. Hathi Trust is the academic version of Google Books, with over 17 million digitized volumes, of which nearly seven million are in the public domain. Staff in the Clarke regularly make use of this tool and we want you to make the most of it, too. Read more on the CMU Libraries blog about Hathi Trust and find an informational video about how you might use Hathi Trust for your research.

Michigan Newspaper Database Grows

Newly added titles include late 19th and early 20th century copies of the Luce County Democrat and Newberry News (source of the illustration below), Osceola County Herald, and the Oxford Leader. These additions expand our holdings from the Upper Peninsula, mid-Michigan and Detroit metro area. The Oxford paper is an especially long continuous run (1898-2014) with over 117,000 pages. The later years include the first issues with color photography in our DigMichNews collection.