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This is a photograph I took of a sculpture of Nathaniel Hawthorne in Salem. When I added it to Flickr, I wanted to credit the sculptor, but I didn’t know his name. I decided to try looking this up in SIRIS, a database that I had heard about but had never tried, and I was really impressed with what I found.
Smithsonian Institution Collections Search Center — The Smithsonian provides access to much more than information about its own collections. The Inventory of American Sculpture provides authoritative information on nearly 32,000 outdoor sculptures collected from a nationwide survey known as Save Outdoor Sculpture. The information and indexing for each work is extensive and impressive.
For example, see the record for the sculpture shown here: Nathanial Hawthorne. The information includes not only the name of the sculptor, but the names of the architect, founder and fabricator, a complete description and references. The indexing is extensive, and you can click on the links in the record to find other works by the sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt, other works administered by the City of Salem’s Public Works Department, or even other works featuring novelists, canes or hats!
These databases should be really useful to people working on Flickr, Wikipedia, blogs and other personal and collaborative projects. They are also useful to librarians for reference and also for local history projects.
The Stoneham Theatre opened its tenth season in September with Studs Terkel’s The Good War : A Musical Collage of World War II. Journalist Studs Terkel was known for his oral histories that reflected the American experience in all of its variety. As they prepared for their production of The Good War, the Stoneham Theatre reached out to local veterans and recorded some of their memories. These short films are on the Stoneham Theatre’s YouTube Channel, and are a lasting record of a few members of the Greatest Generation telling their own stories.
Here’s 1941 Stoneham High School graduate Ethel LaSalle, who served in the Women’s Army Corps:
Illustrated Newspaper Supplements — The Library of Congress has added a great new set to their Flickr Commons account: cover pages from the New York Tribune illustrated supplements, beginning with the year 1909. These images are from the Chronicling America website, and each image on Flickr has a link to the image page on that site where you can use image-zooming tools or download a PDF.
These large illustrated covers provide an interesting view of historic events and everyday life. The visual format looks surprisingly modern, and, like today’s graphic novels, these illustrated newspapers provided an alternative way to look at the world. In the words of the Library of Congress: “The heavily illustrated supplement sections became the most widely read sections of the papers and provided a great opportunity to attract new customers. The daily life, art, entertainment, politics, and world events displayed in their pages captured the imagination of a curious public.”
The images on Flickr are just a small sample of what readers will find on the Chronicling America site, which includes collections of newspapers from several states.
One of the images in the Flickr collection has a local history connection for our area — it describes President William Howard Taft’s selection of a Summer White House in Beverly, Massachusetts. This is the Stetson Cottage at the site that is now Lynch Park. This house has connections to two NOBLE communities — in 1910, Marie Evans, the owner of the property, cut the house in half and sent it by barge across the harbor to Marblehead.
Stetson Cottage on Woodbury Beach — Image in the NOBLE Digital Library
The DC Public Library is using Flickr to run an interesting photography contest. Photographers choose any of the historic photographs from the DCPL Flickr Commons collection, take a new photograph of the same location, and upload it to the DC Then and Now group which the library set up for the contest. Participants can just upload the new picture and add a link to the old, stitch the old and new together, or remix the images in any way they want, encouraging creativity.
The new images must be given a Creative Commons license, which means that the library (or anyone else) will be able to use them within the generous conditions of the license. (There are four versions of the Creative Commons license on Flickr — all require attribution to the photographer, and differ in whether they restrict commercial use and allow for derivative works.)
Participants differ in how they interpret the idea of then-and-now pictures. Some entries are a totally different view of the building or object shown in the original picture, while others try to capture exactly the same view as the original.
My favorite photographs here are the ones by Flickr user tvol,Timothy Vollmer. In addition to adding his matching images to the group, he also adds a three-part image showing his process, and explains his process:
“These three-photo sets show the process I used in taking photographs for the DCPL Labs DC Then & Now group. The top photo is the original from the DCPL Commons set, which I loaded onto my iPhone so I’d know which perspective to shoot. The middle photo is the location of the original represented through Google Street View (also from iPhone). The final photo is the updated photograph I took, captured with a Nikon d90. “
Any library could do a contest like this with their historical images, whether those images are on Flickr, your website or an online digital archive. Using a Flickr group to collect the entries makes it easy for both the participants and the library, and it means that all images will be public and free for others to enjoy. Participants would only need to sign up for a free Flickr account to participate, and any Flickr user can start a group. This is a great way to engage the community in your local history collection!
Teacher Karen Bosch has an interesting post about how her students made their own National Park Trading Cards using the online Trading Card Maker. Looks like a nice project, a good way to teach the kids to gather and organize information into a concise, defined structure. The trading card format makes it easy to use them as flash cards to study and use to test each other, and they could also look good pinned up on a map or bulletin board.
This trading card toy could also work well for library projects. Students, staff or volunteers could make trading cards with photographs of various landmarks and historic places in the community. They could go out and take photographs of each site, or they could search online on Flickr and other sites for photographs. (Be sure to respect the photographers’ copyright and only use photographs with an appropriate license.) These trading cards could be printed out, or used on websites. The trading card at the left is an example of a card using a photograph of a historic house.
[See the Full Size Trading Card | See the Photograph on Flickr]