Archives

THE FILM LIBRARIANS CONFERENCE

This post is going to be different from the majority of posts on this blog – we don’t usually discuss things using personal pronouns or even really identify ourselves. The archives is supposed to be the focus of the blog. However, I (Wendi) plan on telling you all about an amazing conference I went to in Los Angeles called Documenting Cinema: Film Librarians Conference 2019, and to do so, I need to talk like me.

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My dumb face not caring that my face looks dumb.

I first heard about the conference from a classmate at Syracuse University, where I am getting my MLIS. My classmate works, in some capacity, for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She encouraged the class to apply for a travel grant to attend this year’s conference, and, having a deep love of cinema (especially the Golden Age of Hollywood), I immediately memorized the website. I ended up winning one of the travel grants, meaning my travel to and from Los Angeles was paid for, as was the attendance fee for the entire conference.

 

The Film Librarians Conference (FLC) was held over the course of three days at the Academy’s Pickford Center for Motion Picture Studies in Hollywood, CA. The conference itself lasted two days, followed by one day of optional tours. Every session was fascinating and taught me something about archival techniques or practices, film history, and current projects from archivists, museums, libraries, and guilds around the world. Although every session is memorable, there were four that I wanted to highlight. These sessions either helped me identify paths to follow in TML’s archival journey, were just super cool, or both.

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Also super cool? This view down a hallway at the Pickford Center.

Of Pigs and Pixie Dust: Tailoring Descriptive Vocabularies for Disney Animation Artwork

In this session, the presenter explained the process by which the Walt Disney Animation Research Library created a list of terms to use for organizing, cataloging, and identifying items. There were two main categories: work type and keyword. I was fascinated to learn what other practices were out there, as TML doesn’t have any system as comprehensive or refined yet. We’re definitely not there yet, but I’m hoping we’ll be making some headway soon. This presentation gave me ideas on how to approach naming conventions, something I was admittedly stuck on.

 

Providing Access to Media Related Collections: Dictabelts, Posters, and Paperwork

We got to hear actual dictabelt recordings from Rod Serling in this session! I wrote this in my notes and I’ll repeat it here: SO COOL. The process to digitize these recordings is expensive and, if the items have not been maintained properly, difficult or impossible. We also learned about the digitization of movie posters. I saw what happens when items were not stored properly, were folded or bent, or held together with paperclips. I shudder to think of how many items we have in our archives that are combined with paperclips or identified with post-it notes. The first thing I did when I got back to work was start advocating for the expulsion of paperclips in favor of sheets of interleaving and clamshell boxes, both of which we have, neither of which we use to the fullest.

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This picture is small but mighty.

Archiving, Advocacy, and Collaborations: Preserving Guild Histories

Four different unions described their collections, archival methods, and collaborative efforts to continue preserving their history. It was very cool to see perspectives from different entities, how they differed and how they were the same.

Filmmakers Roundtable Discussion

This was another great opportunity to hear different perspectives from five people who work in different areas of filmmaking: production design, still photography, composing, and costume design. Unfortunately, one of the participants was unable to make it to the conference, but the remaining five did a great job at explaining their processes and systems! It was interesting to hear how each one maintains a personal work archive (and if they’re even allowed to!). We also had showings of library-related movies: I watched The Music Man, sang to every song, and laughed along with the rest of the audience. It was a singular movie-going experience that I want to replicate again and again.

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An impossibly blue sky above the Margaret Herrick Library.

Tour: Margaret Herrick Library and Paramount Pictures Studio

The last day I signed up for a tour of the Margaret Herrick Library, the host of the FLC, and Paramount Pictures. We were given the chance to wander around, look at everything they had out, and asking employees a bunch of archives-related questions. I saw where and how their items were stored, got to ask about their periodicals and archival boxes, and took way too many pictures. I used up all the space on my phone, but it was worth it. Then I had to delete photos to make space for the Paramount Pictures tour. I didn’t really need those pictures from my sister’s wedding, right?

 

After the library, we went to Paramount Pictures. We got a tour of the lots and their archives. I learned about the types of projects they work on, and got to see some of the items in different stages of cataloging and preservation. We went into one of the film vaults where they keep every version (I repeat, EVERY version) of a movie or show – theatrical cut, director’s cut, shortened-for-tv cuts, foreign language cuts… It’s staggering. After I found Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I was content to go on to the next room. We went through several rooms that housed memorabilia from films (props, costumes, jewelry) as well as photographs, musical scores (including the score for the horse head scene from The Godfather), ads, periodicals, etc., and we learned about what each member of the staff does, their major projects, and their favorite parts of the job.

I am so lucky to have had the chance to see these pieces and hear these stories – Attending the Film Librarians Conference was one of the highlights of my year (maybe of my life) and I am so eager to start putting some of my new knowledge to good use!

 

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THE CUMMINS FAMILY

 

The Archives holds a wealth of information about Centenary University, and any trip into the Archives storage produces fascinating pieces of historical value. Several of these pieces were donated by prominent New Jersey family, the Cummins.

cummins030Dr. George Wyckoff Cummins was born in Vienna, New Jersey and graduated from Centenary Collegiate Institute’s college prep course in 1881. From there he attended the Yale School of Medicine and later, the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He practiced medicine in Belvidere and specialized in the treatment of hay fever, asthma, and allergic diseases. A physician, surgeon, inventor, and research scientist, he authored many books on history, chemistry, and archaeology. Some of his works are in the library’s Special Collections Room.

cummins028Mrs. Annie Blair Titman Cummins attended Centenary Collegiate Institute in the academic program between 1881 – 1882, and in a special studies program for music from 1888 – 1891. She studied pipe organ, piano, and harmony. She was a member of several organist associations and served as organist for many years in local churches. She was also very devoted to the study of history and genealogy, compiling 423 volumes of 41,000 tombstone records from local cemeteries. She was the Organizing Regent of the General William Maxwell Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and was one of the greatest authorities of local history.

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Mrs. Cummins at the organ

Dr. and Mrs. Cummins were married in 1890, and lived in Belvidere, New Jersey. After the death of her husband in 1942, Mrs Cummins donated an organ to Centenary in his memory.  Mrs. Cummins donated several items to Centenary during the last decade of her life, and in her will left many possessions, buildings, and plots of land to the school. Some of the items were displayed in The Cummins Museum Room in the newly built Taylor Memorial Library. The collection was dissolved in 1980 and some of the items sold, but many still remain in the library’s archives.

A list of titles by and about the Cummins Family:

Cummins, George Wyckoff. History of Warren County New Jersey. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911. Print.

– – -. History of Warren County New Jersey. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911. Print.

Records of the Cummins, Addis, and Carhart Families of Warren County, NJ. N.p.: n.p., 1942. Print.

* Titman Cummins, Annie Blair. Bible Records, Warren County, N.J. Vol. 1 N.p.: n.p., 1941. Print. 2 copies.

– – -. Cummins-Titman and Allied Families: Genealogical and Biographical. Hartford: States Historical Company, Inc., 1946. Print.

– – -. Diary of a trip to Europe in 1909 by Margaret E. Roseberry Titman and Annie Blair Titman Cummins.

* Wycoff Cummins, G. Churches of Warren County, N.J. Vol. 3. N.p.: n.p., 1944. Print. 3 copies.

* – – -. Historical Articles of Warren County N.J. Vol. 2. N.p.: n.p., 1943. Print. 2 copies.

* – – -. Organization of General William Maxwell Chapter D.A.R and Markers Placed. Vol. 31. N.p.: n.p., 1945. Print. 3 copies.

* – – -. Post Offices in the United States in 1819. Comp. Annie Blair Titman Cummins. N.p.: n.p., 1945.  Print. 2 copies.

 

SO THIS IS CENTENARY

The archives staff has been working on digitizing many projects, including Ellen P. Kratz’s booklet “So This is Centenary”. Ellen P. Kratz, more often known as Pat, was a freshman at Centenary in the Fall of 1959. She was very involved in Centenary activities; she played on the freshman softball team and became the art editor for the student newspaper Spilled Ink.

In a rare collaboration between Spilled Ink and the Hack (Centenary’s yearbook), Pat put her art skills to use when she created her cartoon flip book “So This is Centenary”. Pat’s booklet was created in order to help raise funds for Centenary’s next improvement project, a new swimming pool.

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Pat Kratz (left) and two others with President Seay.

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Students showing President Seay their collaboration.

The book was well received by President Dr. Seay, who stated that “If you like to laugh, read ‘So this is Centenary.’ ”  1000 copies were ordered, each being sold for $1.50. The following September, plans were made to build an additional wing onto the Reeves Student Union.

Plans to start renovation on the Denman gym and swimming pool were set to begin in November of 1962 and were not completed until February of 1964.

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The new wing cost $475,000 with an additional $125,000 in construction.

Kratz ended up getting married the next year and left Centenary to start her new life. The library is very lucky to have this small piece of history left behind by Ellen P. Kratz.

CURRENT ARCHIVES PROJECTS

The library archives staff have been working on digitizing collections in the archives. Recently, our archives intern has been working on creating a digital edition of a book originally printed in the 1950s.

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Printing Press in the Archives

The humorous print book is called “So This is Centenary” and while it may be small, it offers a significant look into the life of a Centenary student in the 1950s. Each page features an illustration of a scene these students encountered.

To create the digital booklet, the library archives is using a replica printing press. Many steps have been taken to recreate the book in the most efficient way possible. The original plates, which have been stored in the Archives, are rolled with ink and passed through the press to transfer the image onto a piece of archival paper. The archives intern printed two copies of each plate: one will be scanned for a digital record while the other is going to be used to remake the booklet. The culmination of this project will be a display using the reprints and a digital presentation of the booklet.

CURRENT LIBRARY PROJECTS

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The fall color of the Japanese Zelkova.

The library staff has been working on a project to update Trees of Centenary, a 1990s dendrological* survey done by Dr. Lewis Parrish, the former department head of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at Centenary.

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The tree cataloger and photographer consult the original Trees of Centenary.

Parrish’s book is a compilation of every tree on the Centenary campus, but that information is over twenty years old. The archives staff have taken on the task of updating Trees of Centenary to reflect the  foliage of the current campus. So far, the project has created an inventory of all trees on the north side of campus, including most of the trees listed in Dr. Parrish’s book. The south side of campus will be more challenging as there was no survey done of these trees, and complete identification will have to be done from scratch.

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An excerpt from the rough draft map of the Jefferson Lawn, south side.

How is this task being accomplished? First, every tree in Trees of Centenary was listed and separated by location. The campus was broken down into sections, and each section was given its own hand-drawn map. Then, staff members took the book and the maps and made, well, a mess (see the rough draft map at right). Each tree was numbered, plotted, and matched to a tree from the book. This proved to be difficult because some of the trees mentioned in the 1990s survey are now gone, claimed by disease or death, and new trees have been planted since the survey’s publication.

Realizing a more orderly system was needed, the rough draft map from each portion was input into excel spreadsheets, which became the basis of our new interactive map!

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The fall color of the Green Ash.

This map shows the location of each tree and includes a description and photos, just like the original Trees of Centenary. 

There is still much to be done, and the library hopes to have the entire campus cataloged by Spring 2017. During the winter all the evergreens will be recorded while the remaining deciduous trees will be classified in Spring 2017. Staff will also be taking pictures of the trees in each season. This year’s fall color went by too quickly, but there’s always next year!

*Dendrological: adj., Having to do with the botanical study of trees and other woody plants.