Project REVEAL: Scanned mages from American authors’ archives at the Harry Ransom Center

In Project REVEAL, The Harry Ransom Center has put scans from its collections of manuscripts, photographs, and printed texts of American authors online:

http://hrc.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/reveal#nav_top

The Writers of Project REVEAL

“The speed with brains behind it” –Royal Typewriter Ad, 1920

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 9.09.57 AMFrom The Outlook, vol. 126 (1920)

When I was reading through The Outlook the other day, this ad caught my eye. As ad copy, it hits the features as well as the benefits (thank you, Don Draper, for teaching us the difference) but it’s also fascinating for where it positions the women who did the typing.

It’s 5 o’clock. The woman in the picture is between the office boy (I’m guessing, due to his wearing knickerbockers, which a businessman wouldn’t have worn) and the desk where she’s putting down the built-in cover over her typewriter. She’s at the center of things, not the typewriter; although it’s displayed prominently below, it’s not actually shown in the narrative part of the picture, instead being linked by the gray background.

The machine is fast, certainly–the ad mentions “speed” eight times in this short amount of copy–but “the speed that counts” is “errorless speed.”

The typist herself makes this errorless speed happen, with her “sensitive fingers.” She creates “the speed with brains behind it.” It’s her brains and sensitive fingers as she operates the typewriter that create “the big steady pulse of modern business.”

There’s a delicate balance here as the ad elevates her from being just part of the machine of modern business to being a vital part of the brains (and, to judge by “big steady pulse,” its heart) that make the giant beast work.

I’ve been working recently on this rhetoric of connections between women and machines, and this is an ad that constructs the relationship in a sophisticated way. Don Draper would be proud.

Downloading and uploading graded papers to Blackboard

The new Blackboard really, really wants you to use its inline tools to grade and comment on student papers. But what if you have a system in place already, including autotext comments you’ve prepared (which won’t work inline) and don’t want to follow Blackboard’s master plan?

This is largely a bookmarking post so I won’t forget how, so please feel free to click away if you already know how to do this.

To download papers (pretty straightforward):

  1. Go to Full Grade Center.
  2. Go to the column where the assignment is.
  3. Click on the drop-down arrow and scroll down to Assignment File Download.
  4. Check “Select All Users” or “Select Ungraded” or whatever.
  5. Download these as a zip file.

Once you’ve graded them, how do you get them back on Blackboard? There is probably an easier way, but this one works.

  1. Go to Full Grade Center.
  2. Go to the Assignment Column. In the gradebox where the student attempt is, click the little drop-down arrow.
  3. Go to Attempt.
  4. In the right-hand box, where it says Feedback to Learner, click on the drop-down arrow.
  5. Underneath the Notes box, there’s your old friend the paper clip, which means that you can attach the graded file.Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 4.00.53 PM

Here’s another way, no less obscure:

  1. Go to Full Grade Center. In the Assignment column, under the arrow, click on View Grade Details.
  2. It will take you to the Grade Details Page. (If you click Attempts at this point, you’ll be back in the “Attempt” menu, as above.)
  3. Click on Edit Grade. Now, you won’t see the attachment icon here, because it’s hidden in the extended menu.

    Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 3.56.18 PM

    Figure 1. Nothing to see here, right?

  4. Click on the down arrows, though, and you’ll see the paper clip attachment icon.

    Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 3.56.35 PM

    There it is!

“No Irish need apply” a myth? No, it’s true.

nina_may_1_1863

Brooklyn Eagle, May 1, 1863. From Patrick Young’s blog post (link below).

At Easily Distracted, Timothy Burke reports the remarkable story of Rebecca Fried, a high school student at Sidwell Friends, who has disproved Professor Richard Jensen’s contention that “No Irish Need Apply” was a feverish figment of the Irish-American imagination:

Fried’s essay is a refutation of a 2002 article by the historian Richard Jensen that claimed that “No Irish Need Apply” signs were rare to nonexistent in 19th Century America, that Irish-American collective memory of such signs (and the employment discrimination they documented) was largely an invented tradition tied to more recent ideological and intersubjective needs, and that the Know-Nothings were not really nativists who advocated employment (and other) discrimination against Irish (or other) immigrants. existence of signs and ads saying “No Irish need apply,” taken as a given in many history classes, was challenged.

Fried published her findings in “No Irish Need Deny: Evidence for the Historicity
of NINA Restrictions in Advertisements and Signs”, Journal of Social History, 10:1093, 2015.

Patrick Young, who reproduces excerpts from Fried’s article and some of the many supporting ads, also includes some of the back-and-forth between Jensen and a respectful but unintimidated Fried:

Yes there were NINA newspaper ads—I was the one who found the first one—but I argued they were very rare. If a man read every job want-ad in his newspaper every week for 40 years, he would have a 50-50 chance of coming across one NINA ad in his lifetime. That’s what I called very rare—& the student called very common. Richard Jensen

. . .

I also have to respectfully disagree with your numerical calculation. I explain why at page 25 of the article, which is a brief response to your points. Briefly, if the man in your example read the Sun newspaper, he would have read at least 15 male-directed NINA ads in a single year, plus any female-directed ones, plus any from other sources. Thanks again for this. I respect you and your work.
Rebecca Fried

Burke has a nuanced post that discusses the implications for historians, but on an individual (and non-historian) level, I’ll be using this in English 372 this fall not only to illustrate the issue of anti-Irish prejudice, which we discuss in a broader context of racism and xenophobia, but also to highlight the importance of questioning theories and returning to the evidence even when, or especially when, an idea is taken as given.

MLA Approaches to Teaching the Works of Jack London available soon

approachesThe new MLA volume Approaches to Teaching the Works of Jack London, edited by Kenneth Brandt and Jeanne Campbell Reesman, should be available soon; Amazon.com lists the publication date as August 1.  http://www.amazon.com/Approaches-Teaching-Works-London-Literature/dp/1603291431

I have an essay on teaching “Samuel” as regional literature in the volume and will update with a full table of contents later.

Workflow for Research Archives

cropped-410px-the_house_of_mirth_page_of_original_manuscript_edith_wharton1.jpgSome good recent  posts talk about how to organize your workflow for working in a research archive.

From 2013, Dan Royles on Digital Workflows for the archive at ProfHacker:

http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/digital-workflows-for-the-archives/53505

Jessica Parr at Early Americanists: http://earlyamericanists.com/2015/07/07/making-the-most-of-your-time-in-the-archives-research-technology/?

Both these posts list some good apps as part of the discussion, so check them out.

Since I just returned from a trip to a research archive, here are a few tips, not entirely digital, that I wish I’d thought of earlier.

1. Keep a research log so you know what materials you were working with and when. I used to keep this on a yellow pad (in pencil of course) but have mostly switched to a Word document. It’s in two parts:

One part of the log–the part I still keep on paper–is the list of what boxes I ordered; when I ordered them and the date I ordered them for, since they have to be ordered in advance; and when I returned them. It was just plain easier to see this on a paper pad with returned materials crossed out.

The main part is a running list in a Word document of what I am looking at during the visit: which folders and boxes, generally informal notes about what I’m finding, etc.  Since I had been to this archive before, I was able to look at the log I recorded last time, which saved time when reading the folders.

2. Keep a transcription and notes page for each box as you’re working on it. For some of these, a transcription or notation already existed from the previous visit; I just had to photograph the materials.

This may seem obvious, but when you get home, you may not–in fact, probably won’t–remember whether you looked at Folder 754 and not 755 unless you write it down.  You’ll wonder (or I have), “Did I skip this one, or did it not have anything useful for the project?” Taking a moment to note your impressions will save frustration in the long run. I also wrote down whether I photographed a folder or not.

3. Photograph all the things.  Again, it seems obvious, but it’s a lot faster to photograph items than to read them, especially if you’re short on time.  When in doubt, take a picture.

If you don’t develop a record-keeping system, though, you’ll be lost.

Both Royles and Parr suggest using your phone and TurboScan to record images.  I tried TurboScan but ended up using a camera instead, despite the TurboScan benefits.  Why?

  1. TurboScan was slower than a camera, which may be because I have an older iPhone.
  2. The images weren’t as sharp as I needed (especially for pencil marks).
  3. It would take more time to type in the filenames on the phone’s tiny screen, email the images to myself or upload them to Dropbox, etc., than I wanted to spend.

Using the camera let me take sharp images, which I then downloaded in batches.

4. Organize the photographs to match the archive’s box & folder scheme . After downloading a batch of photos to the Macbook, I moved them immediately from Dropbox’s Camera Uploads folder to Folders named for the box & folder numbers I was working on.  I could then rename the files at leisure, if necessary, which I’ve done some of since I returned from the trip.

Most of them have names like DSCN205-ew to jsmith 25-11-27 pg1.jpg for the first page of a letter from Edith Wharton to John Hugh-Smith written November 25, 1927, for example. Sometimes I make a notation about the work (Ethan Frome, House of Mirth). It’s not searchable, but I can find things in the folders by using the transcription and notes page.

folder example

The collection, box number, and folder number are all right in the picture.

5. Updated to add: put identifying information in the picture. It’s immensely helpful to have the box and folder number right in the image itself.  I used to write these on a piece of paper and then photograph the paper along with the document until I realized (finally!) that if I took a picture with the document top or side near the tab of the folder itself, that information would appear in the picture with no need to write the information on  a piece of paper. If I now lose track of where an image came from, there’s the box and folder number, right in the picture.

I want to keep refining the processes, so there might be an update post in the future. For example, I have premium Evernote, Zotero, iAnnotate, etc. but haven’t used them effectively for archive purposes, as Royles and Parr have done. For now, I’m happy to have the materials and to know that I can find things.

Frank Norris Studies and the Dreiser Newsletter now available online

Some years back, for the Howells Society site and the Frank Norris page, I compiled a list of Frank Norris Studies even though it was unfortunately not available.

Now it is!

Here’s the link to the complete run of Frank Norris Studies:

http://franknorrissociety.org/frank-norris-studies-1986-2004/

And here’s the link to the Dreiser Newsletter.There’s also an index.

http://www.dreisersociety.org/the-dreiser-newsletter.html

I will be the Frank Norris and Theodore Dreiser pages to reflect two good new resources,