Building a Repository for Access to Historic Resources

March 9, 2016

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The Archives is building a digital asset management system (DAMS). When completed, the DAMS will showcase historic materials from the collections, such as photographs, publications, and other materials that have been digitized for staff and public use. The system will allow users to search and remotely access materials.

The DAMS will be built using open-source components. Islandora is an open source framework comprised of Drupal (content display), Solr (indexing and searching), and Fedora (digital object repository).

The DAMS project priorities include:
• Historic photographs
• Annual Reports
• Research Reports
• Anniversary Publications
• Event Programs

When finished, the DAMS will provide open access to a variety of unique resources and historic information.

To learn more about the City of Hope Archives contact Susan Yates, Archives Program Manager, at syates@coh.org or Jennifer Miller, Digitization Archivist, at jennmiller@coh.org.


Archives FAQ: What is fixity, and why should I be checking it?

February 1, 2016

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File fixity refers to the property of a digital file being fixed, or unchanged. In other words, fixity means the file’s bitstream (1s and 0s) have not changed over time.

Fixity checking allows you to identify corrupted digital files, and replace them with a copy from a backup.

The most widely used tools for generating fixity information are checksums. A checksum is a count of the number of bits in a digital file.

To check fixity:
• Generate a checksum (using CRC, MD5, or various SHA algorithms)
• Record that checksum
• Re-generate it periodically over time (if the value stays the same, your file has not changed)

The upshot of collecting and checking fixity information:
• Replace corrupt digital files
• Monitor hardware degradation
• Document provenance of digital materials

To learn more about preserving digital records or the City of Hope Archives contact Susan Yates, Archives Program Manager, at syates@coh.org or Jennifer Miller, Digitization Archivist, at jennmiller@coh.org.


Archives FAQ: Transferring Records to the Archives

January 4, 2016

Transferring records to the Archives ensures that your office is part of our institution’s history. Records eligible for transfer are those which are no longer active, but are considered to have permanent historical value.

The types of records that have permanent historical value include:

• Reports of research projects
• Biographical information of staff and faculty
• Governance documents such as charters, by-laws, mission and vision statements, policy and procedure manuals
• Published materials created by City of Hope or by individual offices including reports, newsletters, bulletins, catalogs, directories
• Records of committees, councils, boards, departments and other groups including minutes and agendas
• Audio-visual materials including photographs, slides, films, audio and video that document the history of the institution
• Maps, prints, and architectural drawings documenting physical changes and plant development

The Archives staff works closely with donors to identify materials of research interest.

Please do not send records to the Archives without first consulting with the Archives staff.

To learn more about the City of Hope Archives or to make an appointment, contact Susan Yates at syates@coh.org.


Archives FAQ: Reformatting Fragile Images

December 1, 2015

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Reformatting (or duplication) plays an important role in the preservation of historic materials by protecting one-of-a-kind originals from handling. A digital copy may someday be the only record of an image that deteriorates over time.

This original black & white photograph was recently donated to the Archives. It measures 11×14 inches, and depicts members of the San Francisco Auxiliary, including Rose Coleman Farb (seated in the front row, with the basket in front of her), who served as the secretary of the auxiliary.

There are some predictable signs of deterioration that can be seen in this photo that aid archivists in identifying photographic prints. This includes silver mirroring, which appears as a metallic deposit or sheen on the surface of the image. This type of deterioration can occur on any photograph containing silver as the final image material, and is commonly seen in gelatin silver prints like this one.

The identification of early photographic processes is a unique and specialized skill set. To practice these skills, I recently attended a workshop taught by photo conservator Gawain Weaver. I would highly recommend this workshop to anyone interested in the preservation of photographic print collections (http://gawainweaver.com/workshops/).

To learn more about the preservation of photographs or the City of Hope Archives contact Susan Yates, Archives Program Manager, at syates@coh.org or Jennifer Miller, Digitization Archivist, at jennmiller@coh.org.


Archives FAQ: Unidentified Images

November 13, 2015

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The City of Hope Archives historic photograph collections comprise thousands of images. Regrettably, many of these photos are sent to the archives with very little identifying information. This being the case, archivists use the evidence that is available to them in order to accurately convey the historic significance of an image.

For example, this photograph of a lab technician was found in the Medical Arts department files without any identifying information. Nevertheless, there are a few significant clues to its origins.

First, the format of the negative is 4×5 sheet film. Sheet film is a large format photographic film supplied on individual sheets, rather than rolls. Additionally, sheet film has notches cut into one side. These notch patterns, or notch codes, enables film type identification. The notch code of this image identifies it as Kodak Royal Pan Film 4141, black & white film. This film was manufactured by Eastman Kodak in the early 1950’s, and was widely used in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

While archivists often do not have as much specific information as they would like to have about the historic materials in their collections, they favor evidence-based information over folklore.

To learn more about the City of Hope Archives contact Susan Yates, Archives Program Manager, at syates@coh.org or Jennifer Miller, Digitization Archivist, at jennmiller@coh.org.


It’s Archives Month!

October 21, 2015

2015-CA-Archives-Month-Poster-WEBEvery October organizations across the nation sponsor programs that support and promote the management and preservation of our historical heritage. California is one of many states that produce a poster showcasing images and documents in their collections. This year, the poster celebrates the 165th anniversary of statehood. Represented in the poster seen here are the 1849 state constitution title page (in English), the state constitution proclamation page (in Spanish) and the first law enacted in 1850 establishing the state’s Public Archives.

Archives, special collections and historical societies as well as other organizations throughout the state serve as repositories of permanent, unique and irreplaceable material. The City of Hope Archives serves as its institutional repository. Its collections include historic photographs, publications, documents and much more. Examples of the types of materials we provide include biographical information related to scientists and staff, photographs that document the history of the institution and historic materials related to buildings and grounds.

To learn more or to make an appointment contact Susan Yates, Archives Program Manager, at syates@coh.org or Jennifer Miller, Digitization Archivist, at jennmiller@coh.org.

 


Celebrate Electronic Records Day – October 10, 2015

October 5, 2015

Electronic Records Day, sponsored by the Council of State Archivists (CoSA), highlights the importance of appropriate management of electronic records.

Here are the facts:

  • Electronic files are more fragile than paper records
  • Digital storage media have limited life spans
  • Hardware and software changes may keep you from accessing files

This being the case, the long-term survival of electronic records requires attention and planning.

Experts recommend:

  • Checking your digital files at least once a year to make sure you can read them
  • Copying and migrating your electronic files to a newer media every 3 to 5 years
  • Converting files created with obsolete software to newer formats

The takeaway message here is that electronic files can become unreadable surprisingly quickly. As a result, proactive management will be required to avoid catastrophic loss.

To learn more about preserving digital records or the City of Hope Archives contact Susan Yates, Archives Program Manager, at syates@coh.org or Jennifer Miller, Digitization Archivist, at jennmiller@coh.org.