👋 Announcing Collections as Data Cohort 1 👋

Earlier this year Collections as Data: Part to Whole was awarded $750,000 by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. $600,000 of this award will be regranted, across two cohorts, to foster development of models that support collections as data implementation and use. Today we announce the formation of cohort 1.

The six projects in cohort 1 come from a range of institutional contexts, grounded by a desire to re-imagine roles and services so that we and users can explore the potential of collections as data. In addition to using regranted funds to pursue their projects, teams will engage in joint developmental activities that culminate in a public facing forum and the release of a series of open resources that aim to advance collections as data work across the cultural heritage community.

Collections as Data: Redefining Creators, Users, and Stewards of the Charles “Teenie” Harris Photographic Archival Collection

Carnegie Museum of Art

Dominique Luster, Charlene Foggie-Barnett, Ed Motznik, Samantha Ticknor

This project seeks to build upon the rich history of the Teenie Harris archival collection and develop new opportunities for computer-generated creation and computational manipulation of collection metadata that is both produced and used by the African American community and the Carnegie Museum of Art. This project aims to develop and document the service and use capabilities and limitations of machine learning, text parsing, and computer vision technologies to make meaningful contributions to archival metadata. The public facing deliverables will combine the notion of creators and users of the Harris data and will result in a suite of web-based in-gallery interactives that have the functionality of engagement with and contribution to the collection as data.

On the Books: Jim Crow and Algorithms of Resistance

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Nathan Kelber, María R. Estorino, Amanda Henley, Matt Jansen, Lorin Bruckner, Sarah Carrier, William Sturkey

On the Books: Jim Crow and Algorithms of Resistance will create the most complete list of North Carolina Jim/Jane Crow laws (1877-1965) since Civil Rights pioneer Pauli Murray’s States’ Laws on Race and Color (1951) by using machine learning to analyze a corpus of more than one hundred years of North Carolina public, private, and local session laws from the end of the Civil War through the Civil Rights Movement (1865-1968). The project is inspired by current conversations about algorithmic bias, big data, and race in the work of authors such as Safiya Noble, Virginia Eubanks, and Cathy O’Neil. The results of this research will be shared in a plain-text corpus, a website for educators and researchers, a white paper, a code repository, a methods workshop at a Triangle Digital Humanities Institute, a Carolina K-12 teacher workshop, and a future library conference.

The Native American Educational Services College Digital Library Project

Northwestern University

Josh Honn, Kelly Wisecup, John Dorr, Dorene Wiese

The Native American Educational Services (NAES) College Digital Library Project is a metadata and meta-data project situated in Native American & Indigenous Studies and Library & Information Science that seeks to form a process and pedagogy around the data curation of at-risk community-based research collections, in our case an urban American Indian college open from 1974-2005. Working in collaboration with Native community organizations, Northwestern University librarians and faculty will curate data from digitized NAES College library catalog cards, create a digital humanities website presenting context for the data, and write a white paper examining issues of data sovereignty. The project seeks to circulate ethical, sustainable data curation processes for multiple fields and institutions, especially those collaborating with Native nations and organizations.

From Collection Records to Data Layers: A Critical Experiment in Collaborative Practice

University of Pittsburgh

Tyrica Terry Kapral, Aaron Brenner, Matthew J. Lavin

From Collection Records to Data Layers: A Critical Experiment in Collaborative Practice aims to develop effective strategies for enriching existing library-generated collections data through research-driven and critically interpretive layers of additional data that are conducive to computational use. The project team will collaborate with library partners and undergraduate scholars in the English Department to create enrichment data layers that extend the catalog data for a diverse array of materials held by the University of Pittsburgh Library System—specifically, serials (e.g., journals, magazines, newspapers, newsletters) and ephemera (e.g., broadsides, flyers, cartoons) that reflect the perspectives of African Americans, American Labor Unionists, American left-wing organizations, feminists, and the LGBTQ community. The project will yield actionable datasets and reproducible workflows for creating and sharing collections-based data layers, while teaching computationally minded data stewardship practices and fostering scholarly engagement with collections produced by marginalized and underrepresented groups.

Linking Lost Jazz Shrines Project

Weeksville Heritage

Obden Mondesir, Zakiya Collier, Cristina Pattuelli

The Linking Jazz Shrine Project seeks to apply linked open data principles to our Weeksville Lost Jazz Shrines of Brooklyn Oral history collection. This collection was part of a 2008 research project that documented Central Brooklyn’s cultural legacy of jazz history between the 1930s and 1960s. By applying linked open data, we plan to make these collections and the connections they provide more discoverable to jazz researchers that would benefit from a significant collection about Central Brooklyn’s nearly lost jazz culture.

Uncovering Health History: Transcribing and Publishing Early Twentieth-Century Tuberculosis Patient Records as Data

University of Denver

Kim Pham, Kevin Clair, Jack Maness, Jeanne Abrams, Fernando Reyes, Jeff Rynhart, Alice Tarrant

This project will use handwritten text recognition (HTR) to create transcriptions of records that have been unavailable through traditional OCR processes from the Jewish Consumptives’ Relief Society, a tuberculosis sanatorium located in Denver from 1904 to 1954. These records represent a valuable archive of primary source materials regarding the treatment history of tuberculosis in the early 20th century and the history of primarily Jewish and Eastern European immigration to Denver during the same time period. We intend to develop capacity in services and infrastructure to support and use HTR technologies in our regular workflow to produce collections as data and to contribute to the emerging HTR technology ecosystem.

Be on the lookout for the cohort 1 summative forum in January 2020. This forum will be livestreamed and recorded. If you are interested in submitting proposal to cohort 2, the call for proposals will open August 2019.

For now, please join us in congratulating these teams!

Thomas Padilla (University of Nevada Las Vegas)

Hannah Scates Kettler (University of Iowa)

Laurie Allen (University of Pennsylvania)

Stewart Varner (University of Pennsylvania)

Code of Conduct

All project activity, both in person and online, aims to foster a welcoming and inclusive experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, nationality, or political beliefs. Harassment of participants will not be tolerated in any form. Harassment includes any behavior that participants find intimidating, hostile or offensive. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Please contact any member of the project team if you have concerns.