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Gerald Chaudron Processing Archivist Manuscripts Division, Special Collections Department, Mississippi State University Libraries Society of Mississippi.

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Presentation on theme: "Gerald Chaudron Processing Archivist Manuscripts Division, Special Collections Department, Mississippi State University Libraries Society of Mississippi."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gerald Chaudron Processing Archivist Manuscripts Division, Special Collections Department, Mississippi State University Libraries Society of Mississippi Archivists conference, Cleveland, April 18, 2013 Visual Literacy and Archivists: How much metadata is enough?

2 Visual Image Metadata Governor and Mrs. Hugh White at Buena Vista Hotel shrimp feast.

3 Visual Image Metadata Description: Miss Hospitality contest, Governor and Mrs. Hugh White at Buena Vista Hotel shrimp feast Location: Gulfport (Miss.) Date: 1952 Digital ID: C.jpeg Collection: Rand (Clayton) papers Format (original): 1 photograph: b&w Format (digital): JPEG Subjects: Miss Hospitality (Beauty Contest: Biloxi, Miss.)Photographs; Buena Vista Hotel (Biloxi, Miss.) Photographs; African AmericansBiloxi, Miss.Photographs; White, Hugh L. (Hugh Lawson), Photographs; Dixie Guide (Newspaper: Gulfport, Miss.) Location of original: Box 30/Photographs/July 1952 Repository and copyright information Governor and Mrs. Hugh White at Buena Vista Hotel shrimp feast.

4 How much metadata is enough? Does the archivist only supply what the creator/collector provided or do we have to find more descriptive information about the image? What do users want and can we cater to all of them? Where does the archivists role in creating metadata end and the users role as researcher begin?

5 Coming to terms with photographs Visual Archives in Perspective Mind and Sight: Visual Literacy and the Archivist Reading and Researching Photographs Digitization and the Living Death of Photographs

6 Visual literacy: a definition Visual literacy is a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media. ACRL Visual Literacy Standards

7 Archivists actions impact meaning Physical separation of images from collections Digitization of images Isolation Misinterpretation Distortion

8 A picture may be worth a thousand words but some of those words could be wrong! Orie (left) and William Fugate, Hedges Station, Kentucky, August 7,

9 Visual literacy: Kaplan and Mifflin 3 Levels of Awareness: 1.Superficial - whats the picture of? 2.Concrete - whats it about? 3.Abstract - whats the context? What did the creator intend to evoke in his/her audience?

10 Visual literacy: Kaplan and Mifflin Basic Metadata Collection: Mississippi Homemakers Extension records. MSS.373 Location: Guntown (Miss.) Date: 1956 Digital ID: 373_Scrapbookp 11-1 Medium: Black & white photographic print Dimensions: 20.6 x 25.3 cm Superficial level description Two men with a herd of cows.

11 Visual literacy: Kaplan and Mifflin arm/id/24267 Concrete level Roy Beene (left) of Guntown, Miss., showing his herd of purebred Jersey cattle to state extension leader W.E. Ammons.

12 Visual literacy: Kaplan and Mifflin Abstract level With dairy cattle, Mississippi 4- H club boys and girls are helping to get their parents out of one-crop cotton farming. Roy Beene (left) of Guntown, Miss., is showing his herd of purebred Jersey cattle to state extension leader W.E. Ammons. Roy is milking his two grown cows and getting gallons of milk a day. He started out with one cow.

13 Are archivists visually literate? Wrong question Better question: Why are archivists not creating detailed descriptive metadata for every image? Answers: Images and their collections dont always provide the information Archivists dont have the resources to research every image in their collections The role of the archivist is to preserve and provide access to collections; the role of the user to research those collections

14 What descriptive metadata do users want? African-Americans waiting near Lampkin Street in Starkville, Mississippi, for the train that will take the body of Letha Gilliam Wier, second wife of Robert Wier, to her home town of Clarksdale, Mississippi. Letha G. Wier was a home demonstration agent for Oktibbeha County and died suddenly on January 9, Photograph was taken near the train depot and just off Lampkin Street and shows a partial view of the Blumenfeld and Fried wholesale grocery warehouse, as well as neighborhood houses in the background. Answer: We dont really know!

15 How much metadata is enough? It depends!

16 The archivist as detective Depends on information provided by: item collection research (if possible) To enhance metadata: process images last group like formats and same shoots look for relationships between images, e.g. locations, buildings, vehicles, people

17 Know your history Daguerreotype: ca Ambrotype: s Tintype: s Glass Negatives: s Salt Prints: ca Crayon Portraits: Cyanotypes: Albumen Prints: ca Stereoview: Lantern Slides: 1860s s Nitrocellulose Film: Safety Film: present Polyester: present Digital: present

18 Metadata aids: Format

19 Metadata aids: Format Photographer information Cartes des visiteCabinet card Hightower, Montgomery, Perkins, Castles and Stiles papers. MSS.537

20 Metadata aids: Format Photographer information Hightower, Montgomery, Perkins, Castles and Stiles papers. MSS.537

21 Metadata aids: Format Processor information Hightower, Montgomery, Perkins, Castles and Stiles papers. MSS.537 processor location processing date processing numbers

22 Metadata aids: Costume and background Rufus Ward collection.MSS.73

23 Metadata aids: Costume and background Hightower, Montgomery, Perkins, Castles and Stiles papers. MSS.537

24 Metadata aids: Costume and background Hightower, Montgomery, Perkins, Castles and Stiles papers. MSS.537

25 Finding a missing piece of descriptive metadata U.S. Steamer Baltic, Mississippi Marine Brigade, Vicksburg, Miss., circa Charles Johnson Faulk papers. MSS.514. Vicksburg, Miss. Levee and steamboats, 1864 February. Library of Congress. /

26 Putting the metadata pieces together Hightower, Montgomery, Perkins, Castles, and Stiles families papers. MSS.537 Combining format and description information can create more complete descriptive metadata Unknown young woman, undated.Dorothy Perkins (right), John M. Perkins (center) and Meta Hightower, Starkville, Miss., circa 1927.

27 How much metadata is enough? Identification number, e.g , 543-N-2 Description Location Photographer Date, e.g. 1915, , , circa 1915, 1915? Format, e.g. photograph (photoprint), contact print Format color Dimensions Primary support, e.g. paper, metal, glass Secondary support Number of copies Condition, e.g. tears, creases, foxing, stains, text, fragile Collection number Collection name Container Comments

28 Research enhances descriptive metadata W.A. Love (rear, 4 th right) and United Confederate Veterans group, Arlington House, Virginia, 1917 June 4. Drennan Love family collection.MSS.543

29 Visual literacy and metadata Archivists deal in facts make conclusions based on those facts should not interpret, suggest intent (sorry Sherlock) Users (may) interpret speculate

30 Visual Literacy and Archivists: How much metadata is enough? Sources : Joan M. Schwartz (1995), We Make Our Tools and Our Tools Make Us: Lessons from Photographs for the Practice, Politics, and Poetics of Diplomatics, Archivaria, 40 Elizabeth Kaplan and Jeffrey Mifflin (2000), Mind and Sight: Visual Literacy and the Archivist, In American Archival Studies: Readings in Theory and Practice, ed. Randall C. Jimerson, Chicago: Society of American Archivists. Joan M. Schwartz (2002), Coming to Terms with Photographs: Descriptive Standards, Linguistic Othering, and the Margins of Archivy, Archivaria, 54 Joan E. Beaudoin(2007), Visual Materials and Online Access: Issues Concerning Content Representation, Art Documentation, 26 (2) Tim Schlak (2008), Framing Photographs, Denying Archives: The Difficulty of Focusing on Archival Photographs, Archival Science, 8 (2) Margot Note (2011), Managing Image Collections: A Practical Guide, Oxford: Chandos Publishing. Paul Conway and Ricardo Punzalan (2011), Fields of Vision: Toward a New Theory of Visual Literacy for Digitized Archival Photographs, Archivaria, 71.

31 Visual Literacy and Archivists: How much metadata is enough? Gerald Chaudron PhD, CA Assistant Professor, Manuscripts Special Collections Department Mississippi State University Libraries P.O. Box 5408 Mississippi State, MS


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