Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection
Indiana University Archives / Digital Library Program
Seeing the Color of America: Digitizing the Charles Cushman Collection
The Indiana University Digital Library Program proposes digitizing and offering on the World Wide Web nearly 18,000 Kodachrome slides that comprise the majority of the lifework of Charles Weever Cushman (1896-1972), a remarkable amateur photographer. The project will accomplish two goals: first, it will preserve and digitize an astonishing collection of vernacular color photography from a time when most images were black and white; and second, the project will provide a model for building a database from which to create a finding aid. Smaller museums, historical societies, and public libraries that may own similar collections of unsorted, uncataloged materials-and have no expertise in creating electronic systems to organize them-will be able to refer to the Cushman Project model for assistance in creating a database that can be used to generate Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aids.
For more than fifty years, from 1917 through 1969, Mr. Cushman photographed an amazing cross section of American life. From Indiana farmlands to New York City street scenes, from the mansions of the best-known Chicago figures to the storefronts of modest shopkeepers, Mr. Cushman observed American life with a keen eye and captured it with startling immediacy in Kodachrome. His work is skillfully composed and socially revealing. Indeed, much of Cushman's subject matter parallels that documented by the Farm Security Administration (FSA), which is now famous for its images of Depression-era farm families. Mr. Cushman's interest in poverty, industry, urban life and other facets of the American social and economic landscape is evidenced throughout his work: his photographs demonstrate a sustained interest in themes traditionally associated with the FSA and other social documentary photography. And, because Mr. Cushman was a pioneer in the use of Kodachrome (beginning to use the film only two years after it was introduced to the market in 1936), Indiana University's Cushman Collection is probably the most extensive color record of civilian life during the years of World War II.
Mr. Cushman bequeathed his vast collection to Indiana University in 1972. The slides, neatly packed and labeled, remained in the suitcases in which they were delivered until a university archivist discovered them in late 1999. Although Mr. Cushman's earliest work is black and white, the Indiana University digital project will focus on the color slides. Digitizing them and presenting them on the World Wide Web will make these valuable images available to a national audience of social historians, documentarians, historic preservationists, and the general public.
To provide access to the collection, Indiana University Digital Library team will create a relational database that will be used to generate an (EAD) finding aid, permitting users to search the collection by location, date, and keywords within the captions that Mr. Cushman wrote for each photograph. The finding aid for the Cushman collection will be enhanced with the addition of subject terms from the Library of Congress's Thesaurus for Graphic Materials. Our goal is to streamline the workflow for creating the EAD finding aid by using a database for entry of the various sources of data which will eventually go into the finding aid. We will make this database model available to other institutions to adapt to their own EAD applications.
Indiana University has substantial experience in digitization, having received a National Leadership Grant in 1998 to digitize the university's multimedia materials pertaining to master songwriter Hoagy Carmichael. The collection of Cushman photographs, however, provides a groundbreaking opportunity to research and pilot-test methods of color restoration and to build a database from scratch. Additionally, the sheer size, age, and quality of the collection offers an experienced digital library team the opportunity to advance the knowledge of preserving Kodachrome slides and to offer recommendations and standards for their digitization.
Think of the photographic images you've seen of American life in the 1940s. Black and white photos of farmhands and gritty industrial sites. Intimate character studies of crinkly-eyed veterans. Children splashing in water on a hot summer day.
Now imagine these images infused with color: rich, vibrant, and concentrated. Purple chairs and dusty red tractors. Steel blue work shirts and green shadows. Our collective memory of the middle of the twentieth century is formed primarily by black and white images. To view color images of this period is both startling and thrilling.
Indiana University recently discovered a collection of such images, all carefully documented but hidden in the Indiana University Archives for the past 23 years. Few people even knew of the collection's existence until late-fall 1999, when a university archivist opened the suitcases in which the photographs were stored. Revealing far more than America in the 1940s, the 18,000 Kodachrome photographs document the keen observations of a single photographer from1938 to 1969. Photographed by Indiana University alumnus Charles Cushman, the images provide IU an exceptional opportunity to preserve what is probably the most extensive color record of civilian life during the years of World War II in existence. "This is the kind of thing historians dream about," writes a senior fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center and professor of fine arts at Indiana University. Ten representative images are attached to this document, and an additional selection is digitized on the World Wide Web.
The Charles Cushman collection mirrors the tradition of significant amateur or modest commercial photographers who contribute to the canon of serious photography. Jacob Riis's record of tenement life in New York's slums became the very foundation of social documentary photography. Other examples of important contributions of vernacular photography include Charles Van Schaick's glass plate negatives of the town of Black River Falls, Wisconsin, from 1890 to 1910 (the photos used in Michael Lesy's Wisconsin Death Trip, 1973) and Arnold Genthe's pictorialist efforts in San Francisco's Chinatown that remain the principal visual record of that community before the 1906 earthquake (Genthe, 1984).
The collection provides a tremendous contribution to the resources available for a variety of academic and popular interests. Scholars' use of photographs by Lewis Hine, the Farm Security Administration, and other documenters have shown the invaluable contribution the intentional or accidental visual record has made to the study of disciplines including social, economic, and architectural history.
Charles W. Cushman, who graduated from Indiana University in 1917, bequeathed to the university some of his photographic equipment, his notebooks, and his entire collection of photographs, shot between 1917 and 1969. Upon Mr. Cushman's death in 1972, most of his photographs were sent to the University Archives and placed in storage. Mr. Cushman's widow, Elizabeth, donated to the University in 1989 additional photographic equipment and some photographs shot in the late 1960s. The Indiana University Foundation gave them to the School of Journalism, where they remained until fall 1999, when they were reunited with the rest of the collection at the University Archives.
The earliest photographs in the collection consist of approximately 1,400 black-and-white photographs that Mr. Cushman stored in albums. However, the most startling and significant aspect of his work relates to the photographs he began shooting in 1938, two years after the introduction of Kodachrome (Wilhelm, 1993, 20). Between 1938 and 1969 Mr. Cushman shot nearly 18,000 Kodachrome slides, documenting his travels throughout the United States and Mexico and, to some extent, countries in the Middle East and Europe. His legacy is a remarkable photographic document of American social history in the twentieth century. Where other works of this nature and caliber each focus on one community during a narrow period, Charles Cushman's slides cover thirty years, in color, including a time when most photographers were working in black and white. Although the black and white photographs are of high quality, the most significant portion of the collection is the color slides, due to the size of the collection, the rarity of early color, and the urgency to preserve these images. Most have suffered no damage. However, the earliest slides, shot in 1938 and 1939, have color-shifted to magenta. We will explore ways to color-correct these slides during digitization.
The combined virtues of this collection-subject, scope, format, documentation, preservation, and quality-make it a truly unique collection worthy of attention and presentation to scholarly and general audiences.
Subject: The collection represents the broad issues of social and economic history, including urban life, recreation, labor, transportation, and counter culture, as well as materials that will be of interest to architectural historians. Additionally, there are a number of specific subjects, individuals, and themes that will be useful to researchers of various disciplines, including a large number of botanical photographs and the Ringling Brothers Circus.
While he had clear areas of interest, Mr. Cushman's photography seems to have been driven primarily by his curiosity. Across a thirty-year period, his subjects are extensive and diverse. For instance, he photographed buildings he found interesting-sometimes with residents, other times without-and included in his caption information exact addresses and often descriptions of the buildings as well as the ethnicity of its occupants. He lived in Chicago for many years, and his photographs of buildings range from the mansions of the best known Chicago figures to the slums of Maxwell Street. He did the same in New Orleans, the Lower East Side of Manhattan, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Mobile, Atlanta, Nashville, St. Louis, other cities, river towns, and rural areas. Some of the situations are historically valuable because of their insight to everyday life. Others record notable specific events, such as the aftermath of a 1950 collision of a street car with a gasoline tanker that resulted in policy changes, construction of emergency exits, and other reforms.
Scope: Although there have been many important contributions of vernacular photography to the visual record, virtually all have focused on individual communities during a relatively narrow period of time. The Cushman Collection is significant in that it is an epic sweep of the continental United States (as well as parts of Mexico, Europe, and the Middle East) over a thirty-year period.
Format: Mr. Cushman began using Kodachrome film in 1938 and he continued to photograph with it until 1969. Thus, the collection is notable for Mr. Cushman's early adoption of Kodachrome, which he never abandoned for lesser-quality color slide film. According to Wilhelm (1993), "Kodachrome film is still the only transparency film that remains totally free of yellowish stain formation during long-term storage" (21). Mr. Cushman photographed in color at a time when most professionals and amateurs were shooting in black and white. It is probable that many of his photographs are the only known record of certain subjects.
Documentation: Mr. Cushman made extremely meticulous notes as to location, caption, exposure, frame sequence, and other data. His notebooks are included with his slides. He also recorded captions in the notebooks and on the cardboard slide mounts. His captions range from identification of the city or a person's name to more elaborate descriptions such as, "Two Negro women read the mail near Mansanto chemical plant at Anniston, Ala" or "Monday wash in a dust storm in Mexican section at South El Paso, Texas. Dec. 31, 1951." There is a number, date, and location for each slide.
Preservation: Mr. Cushman always used the highest quality materials: a Contax camera with Zeiss lenses and Kodachrome film, the most archival (in dark storage) color transparency film that has ever existed. These images have been kept in dark storage for nearly their entire life.
Quality: We do not know what sort of photographic education Mr. Cushman received. However, there is an artfulness to his photographic eye that innocently references a number of cultivated photographers and photographic traditions. Mr. Cushman's wife described him as a "shrewd individual and a sharp evaluator of people." This shrewdness shows in his pictures, both in his selection of subject and in his compositional inclusion of context. He maintained and developed his own unique visual sensibilities, but his images bear different degrees of formal resemblance to those by such noted photographers as Robert Frank, Wright Morris, William Albert Allard, Minor White, Paul Strand, Helen Levitt, David Plowden, Walter Rosenblum, Walker Evans, and the photographers of the Farm Security Administration.
Perhaps the strongest comparison to be made, though, is to the French photographer, Eugene Atget. Like Atget, Cushman worked in obscurity, discovered by the larger world only after his death. Despite their moods of objective anonymity, both men's images deeply convey lyrical and formal senses of time and place. Through different stylistic leanings they were drawn to the same sense of the ordinary in their subject matter: street scenes, for example, or buildings marked for demolition, or public meeting places. Cushman's combination of artistry and imagery reflects that of Atget at the very root of its character. A selection of Atget's images can be seen at the George Eastman House Archive: http://www.geh.org/fm/atget/htmlsrc/
It is difficult to anticipate the demand for the Cushman slides in digital form, as they have been in storage and unviewed for 30 years. However, virtually every scholar and photographer to whom we have shown a selection of Mr. Cushman's slides has been enthusiastic about their relevance to teaching and scholarship in any number of disciplines, including, but not restricted to, the history of photography, the cultural history of the United States, the history of vernacular architecture, and the history of industrial architecture. Mr. Cushman's photographs have further interest because they document in color people, places, and events that have heretofore been seen only or primarily in black and white.
There are collections available on the Web that are similar to the Cushman collection in certain components. However, none has all of the features of this unique collection. The three most closely related public collections are all part of the Library of Congress' American Memory site:
These three online collections share similarities with the Cushman Collection, but they are also different. The Detroit Publishing Company collection offers the same epic scope of subject matter. However, the Detroit Publishing Company photographs are commercial and thus they depict an Americana that is idealized and often staged. This collection also represents the work-for-hire of a staff of photographers, including the well-known landscape photographer, William Henry Jackson.
We do not know the origins of it, but Charles Cushman had the eye of a concerned social documentary photographer, in the tradition of the Photo League and the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Much of Cushman's subject matter parallels that of the FSA. His interest in poverty, industry, the urban environment, and other facets of the American social and economic landscape are recurrent throughout his work. His photographs show an interest in and concern for poverty, social organization, manual and mechanized labor, substandard housing, and other themes traditionally associated with the FSA and other social documentary photography.
Again, there are several important differences. Although they were created for governmental rather than commercial purposes, the FSA photos were still taken by professional photographers working on assignments with certain editorial goals. Most of the color photographs in the FSA-OWI collection are from the Office of War Information portion of the collection and concern the war and the war effort, as do virtually all color photographs from this time. While war-effort photographs are a part of the Cushman collection, of greater significance is his extensive color record of civilian life during World War II, which may be the largest in existence.
Among significant vernacular documentary photographers, perhaps the most similar online collection is that of Theodor Horydczak, an Eastern European immigrant whose life and work paralleled Cushman's in many respects. They were approximately the same age (Horydczak c.1890-1971, Cushman 1896-1972); both amateur photographers who worked alone and out of a personal interest. They shot similar subject matter and left behind roughly the same number of photographs. However, where Horydczak worked primarily in a pictorial style, Cushman had a more natural documentary approach, stylistically more related to Robert Frank, Paul Strand, or William Albert Allard. While both photographers seem to have been concerned with the subject matter of their photographs, Cushman also took meticulous notes, recording routinely place, date, exposure, ethnicity of subjects, and often names, times, and relevant personal histories.
The project will provide a model for owners of other visual resource collections to assist them in the creation of electronic finding aids. The Cushman collection is unusual in its level of documentation, with information recorded in notebooks and on the slide mounts themselves. However, no true finding aid exists. For the project we will be creating an electronic finding aid in Encoded Archival Description (EAD) format. The EAD standard has not been widely adopted by the visual resources community, and in the process of applying the standard in this project, we will encode dates, geographic and personal names, and subject headings, that will allow for very sophisticated searching of this large collection. This project will demonstrate how EAD can be applied to an archival slide collection and answer questions about its suitability for this purpose.
Relatively speaking, the photographic and historical fields are still in the early stages of recognizing the importance of amateur and vernacular photography. While such projects as Michael Lesy's Wisconsin Death Trip (New York, Pantheon Books, 1973) and Genthe's Photographs of San Francisco's Old Chinatown (New York : Dover Publications, 1984) have opened doors and laid foundation, this is an area of study still in its infancy. Putting this collection on-line will help the role of amateur photography develop and mature in crucial ways and make a fresh and extremely important contribution to the canon of photography.
The Cushman Collection may comprise the largest collection of Kodachrome slides spanning 1938-1969 in the world. Certainly, it will be the largest non-commercial Kodachrome collection on the Web covering these years. In a listserv posting, Stephen Miller of Duke University stated that the recently-launched William Gedney Web site "represents possibly the largest catalog of an individual photographer's life and work available on the Internet today" (January 24, 2000, email@example.com"). The Gedney site (http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/gedney/) includes 9,400 photographs, while the Cushman site will include nearly 18,000 photographs. In addition to the size of the collection, it is notable for the breadth of its subject matter and the quality of the photographer's work.
The project will allow Indiana University to explore issues related to the digital preservation of Kodachrome slides. While Kodachrome is the most stable format for color slides when stored properly, it deteriorates when projected (Wilhelm, 1993, 3). Our goal is to digitize the slides, then place them in cold storage. We have found no other project that provides archival treatment of Kodachrome. The collection is also notable for the percentage of slides that remain in their original cardboard binders. Less than 1,200 of the nearly 18,000 slides are in glass mounts; the rest remain in their cardboard binders and most of them are in excellent condition.
This project's presence on the Web will likely introduce to a new audience the importance of vernacular photography and serve as a prototype for other institutions, particularly local historical societies and other smaller institutions to investigate, evaluate, articulate, and present amateur photographic collections relevant to their missions and holdings.
The project team will design and implement a database for recording metadata of the Cushman collection. This same database model will be used to document the entire photograph collection of the Indiana University Archives which consists of over 250,000 photographs. As with the database for the Cushman project, the resulting database will be converted to EAD format and made searchable over the Web. Use of a relational database to improve the ease of entry and editing of EAD metadata is relatively unique, and information on the database model, as well as the scripts used for generation of EAD from the database, will be made available via the project Web site. Potential users will be notified when this information is available via listservs and appropriate newsletters. The project will also contribute knowledge about the application of EAD to visual resources. There are questions in the museum community about the ability of EAD to offer users the desired level of specificity they require when searching collections of visual resources. Our usability testing will specifically address these issues. We will disseminate the results of this work through conference presentations and publications.
The Cushman Project will accomplish two goals. First, it will preserve and digitize nearly 18,000 Kodachrome slides, shot between 1938 and 1969. The slides shot in 1938 and early 1939 have experienced color deterioration, due to the processing that Kodak used at the time. The processing was later changed to prevent this occurrence. We will pilot test methods of color restoration here at IU in preparation for outsourcing the digitization of the slides. Second, the project will streamline the workflow for creating the EAD finding aid by using a database for entry of the various sources of data which will eventually go into the finding aid: Cushman's notebooks, Cushman's notations on the slide mounts, and subject terms assigned by catalogers. This database model will be made available to other institutions to adapt to their own EAD applications.
The Cushman Project is a collaboration of two units within Indiana University, with overall direction provided by the Digital Library Program, and contributions from the IU School of Fine Arts. The project will be jointly managed by staff from the Digital Library Program and the University Archives. Kristine Brancolini, Acting Director, Digital Library Program, will serve as project director. Jon Dunn, Manager of Operations and Software Development, Digital Library Program, and Philip Bantin, University Archivist, will serve as co-project managers. Eileen Fry, Slide Librarian, School of Fine Arts, will provide preservation assistance on the project. Additional individuals responsible for specific activities are identified throughout this proposal. For a complete list of personnel, both permanent staff and temporary staff, please see budget attachments.
The slides and accompanying notebooks have been stored in boxes for the past 30 years. Most of the slide mounts are in good condition. However, some of the slides are mounted between glass and the tape holding the glass together has become detached. Prior to digitizing the slides, the glass mounted slides will be transferred to archival plastic mounts. Following digitization, all slides will be transferred to acid-free boxes. Indiana University has received funding to build an off-site library facility, which will include cold storage for film and slides. The Cushman Collection will reside in this facility when it opens (scheduled for 2002). The plans for preservation treatment of the collection will be informed by the chapter on color slide collections in Henry Wilhelm's book, The Permanence and Care of Color Photographs: Traditional and Digital Color Prints, Color Negatives, Slides, and Motion Pictures (1993) and Kodak's recommendations, based upon their research. The earliest slides, those dating from 1938 and 1939 have a magenta cast because of the controlled-diffusion bleach that Kodak used in its processing at that time. This is common to slides of the first several years of Kodachrome. These materials are documents of this developing process, crucial to the history of Kodachrome. However, the content of the images is also important and digitization will provide a means of some color restoration without affecting the originals.
Once the notebooks have been transcribed for creation of the finding aid and digitized as page images, they will be housed in acid-free folders with the slides.
Staff: Eileen Fry, Slide Librarian, IU School of Fine Arts, will plan the preservation treatment of the slides and the notebooks, and Brad Cook, Photograph Curator, University Archives, will supervise the work. Ms. Fry created the DIDO Image Data Bank http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/collections/dido/ and has participated in the development of the VRA Core metadata standard.
Ownership and Copyright Issues: The Cushman Collection is the property of Indiana University. The University Archives has a deed of gift signed by Elizabeth Cushman, dated November 21, 1999, transferring “whatever rights he/she may own in the content of the materials” to the Trustees of Indiana University (See attachments).
Production Process: The digital conversion of the Cushman collection slides will be performed by an outside vendor. The slides will be digitized using a slide scanner or high resolution digital camera (depending on vendor selected) and written to CD-R by the vendor for delivery to Indiana University. We have investigated suitable vendors for this work and have received cost estimates from several reputable parties. Final vendor selection will occur through an RFP process according to standard university purchasing procedures.
Formats: The vendor selected for the project will be instructed to create high resolution (3000 pixels/side) 24-bit color uncompressed TIFF files from each slide (based on NARA Guidelines for Digitizing Archival Materials for Electronic Access). Please see attachments for a table of image file formats and resolutions.
In-House Production: All quality control will be performed in-house. As digital files arrive from the vendor, Digital Library Program staff will examine at least 10% of the images from each batch for basic quality parameters specified in the RFP. If problems are found, the vendor will be requested to redo the scan, or the entire batch if rejected images amount to more than 1% of the batch. JPEG thumbnail, reference, and full-screen derivative images will be created as the images are received.
In addition, in-house staff will transcribe Mr. Cushman's notebooks and the captions written on the slide mounts into a database for use in the generation of the EAD-encoded finding aid for the collection. This work will be performed by staff of the Library Electronic Text Resource Service (LETRS), a unit of the Digital Library Program.
Once the database and finding aid have been created, Digital Media and Image Center staff will digitize the pages in Mr. Cushman's notebooks, using a digital camera to retain the color of the text. Mr. Cushman used color pencils in many of the entries. The page images will be presented on the Web site, providing context and complementary information for users.
Structure of Intellectual Access: Intellectual access to the collection will be provided through a collection-level MARC record and an online finding aid. The item-level finding aid will be created in Encoded Archival Description (EAD) format, using version 1.0 of the EAD document type definition (DTD), maintained by the Library of Congress and the Society of American Archivists.
Mr. Cushman kept notebooks describing each slide in the collection, and also noted information on the slide binders themselves. Student hourly staff in the Digital Library Program will copy the information from these notebooks into a database, recording at least three data points recorded for each image: identification number, date, and caption. Then, student hourly staff in the University Archives will compare each slide with the database, first noting its existence, and then adding to the database any additional information Cushman may have written on the slide binder.
The EAD Finding Aid for the Cushman Collection will be enhanced with the addition of subject terms from the Library of Congress's Thesaurus for Graphic Materials (TGM) for topical, genre, and physical characteristics. In addition, access to geographical information will provided to the highest specificity known (country, state, region, county, city, neighborhood, street, address, etc.). Access to information on time will also be provided as specifically as possible (year, month, day, time of day, season, holiday, event, etc.).
The database will also be used during the digitization process to record structural and administrative metadata about the digital images as they are received from the imaging vendor. The EAD finding aid will also be generated from the database.
Users will be able to browse the finding aid, or search it using keywords, or by geographic or personal names, dates and subject headings. The search will retrieve entries from the finding aid, which will be linked to the digital objects.
Links from Access Aids to Digital Reproductions: Each photograph will be accessible by a Persistent Uniform Resource Locator (PURL). The PURL will point to a Web page containing the screen version of the image along with any accompanying metadata. PURLs will also be created that point directly to the thumbnail images so that these images may be incorporated into the results screen from a search of the finding aid.
The EAD-encoded finding aid will provide a link to the digital version of each item. Objects will be given SGML entity names and referenced using EAD's <dao> digital archival object element. An entity file will associate these names with the unique PURLs that point to the actual objects.
Staff: Perry Willett, Director of the Library Electronic Text Resource Services (LETRS) and Philip Bantin, University Archivist, will be responsible for the creation of the EAD-encoded finding aid, based upon transcriptions of Mr. Cushman's notebooks and captions written on slide mounts (when the notebooks are incomplete).
Jackie Byrd, Cataloger and Metadata Specialist, created the descriptive metadata plans for all Digital Library Program projects to date. She is using the Library of Congress's Thesaurus for Graphic Materials (TGM) to enhance the existing finding aid to provide improved subject access to Indiana University's Hohenberger collection. Digitizing the historic Hoehenberger photographs is an ongoing project of the IU Digital Library Program.
Nergiz Cagiltay, Digital Library Programmer, will provide database assistance and programming for the project.
Ongoing World Wide Web access for the digitized collection will be provided by Indiana University. All images and structural/administrative metadata will be stored in the Digital Library Program's IBM Digital Library system, running on an existing IBM RS/6000 server. This server was granted to IU by IBM in 1997 via IBM's Shared University Research (SUR) program. Loading of images and delivery of Web access to images will be provided via Java-based software tools already developed by Indiana University with the support of a previous IMLS National Leadership Grant for the Hoagy Carmichael Collection. The EAD item-level finding aid for the collection will be stored and made available using OpenText version 5 software, also presently installed at IU.
As described earlier, each item will be assigned a PURL in order to provide a persistent name for that item, masking the actual URLs used to address the items on the IBM DL server. These PURLs will be supported by a local PURL resolver at Indiana University.
A collection-level MARC record for the entire collection will be provided, containing a PURL in the 856 field which resolves to the address of the top-level HTML page for the collection. This record will be contributed to OCLC.
Indiana University has experience in mounting large digital collections on the WWW and providing sustained support for network access to these collections. For Internet access to those collections, please visit the Collections home page for the IU Digital Library Program http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/collections/. The most similar project undertaken by the IU Digital Library Program is The Frank M. Hohenberger Photograph Collection http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/collections/lilly/hohenberger/index.html. This Web site includes the complete finding aid for approximately 8,500 photographs housed in Indiana University's Lilly Library and a selection of 500 digital images. The Hohenberger collection successfully uses a technical plan very similar to that proposed for the Cushman project, with images stored in IBM Digital Library accompanied by an EAD finding aid. We will be adding to the collection of digital images and enhancing the Hohenberger Web site throughout the coming year. The goal is to digitize all 8,500 photographs. Another related project is The Hoagy Carmichael Collection http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/collections/hoagy/index.html, which presents the university's multimedia collections related to the life and work of songwriter Hoagy Carmichael. This IMLS-funded project includes the digitization of approximately 1,000 photographs, color and black and white. To browse these photographs, select the "Browse" option on the home page, then click on "Photographs." A third related IU digital initiative is the DIDO Image Bank http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/collections/dido/, dedicated to the storage of low resolution (72 dpi) images from the Fine Arts Slide Library collection of over 320,000 images. Encompassing the full breadth of art historical periods and media, the Image Bank contains some 11,000 images from the collection.
Most of the staff who worked on the Hohenberger project and the technical aspects of the Carmichael project will be responsible for the Cushman Collection. Perry Willett is General Editor of the Victorian Women Writers Project, a collection of SGML-encoded texts created and mounted on the WWW at Indiana University (http://www.indiana.edu/~letrs/vwwp/) He created the EAD-encoded finding aids for the Hohenberger and the Carmichael projects. John Walsh, Electronic Text Specialist, will supervise creation of the database that will be used to generate the EAD-encoded finding aid. He will also do the PERL programming for the finding aid. Jon Dunn is responsible for the development and operation of Variations, a collection of CD-quality digital audio recordings accessible on the network in the Indiana University School of Music Library http://www.music.indiana.edu/variations/. He is managing the technical aspects of the Hohenberger and Carmichael projects and will perform the same function for the Cushman Project. Rich Remsberg, Visual Resources Specialist, will oversee the quality control of the digitized images. He will establish evaluative criteria for each image, train student staff to do the work, and supervise their work. Mr. Remsberg is a documentary photographer and author, with an interest in vernacular photography.
IU recently implemented an integrated massive data storage system http://www.indiana.edu/~dssg/ based on the HPSS (High Performance Storage System) software developed by IBM and several US government laboratories http://www5.clearlake.ibm.com/ and IBM and StorageTek tape and robotic tape silo technologies. This centrally managed system is intended to provide a data storage infrastructure for the entire university that supports the storage requirements of both administrative and academic systems and users, including digital libraries. Plans are underway to provide mirroring capability between tape silos at Bloomington and Indianapolis sites for purposes of disaster recovery. We intend to use the HPSS system to store copies of archival digital image files in the Cushman collection, in addition to retaining the CD-R discs provided by the imaging vendor. Access versions of files will be stored on disk on IU Digital Library Program (DLP) servers, under management of IBM Digital Library server software presently installed at IU, and will be routinely backed up onto tape.
Our most reliable means of digital preservation has been a combination of routine content copying (to preserve against media decay), and periodic content conversion, as part of the equipment or application upgrade cycle (to preserve against hardware or software obsolescence). These practices will be routinely employed for digital content in the Cushman collection.
The Digital Library Program (DLP) at Indiana University is supported with lifecycle equipment replacement funds of $250,000/year dedicated to DL servers, storage systems and related software. These funds are provided to the DLP as part of IU's Information Technology Strategic Plan and will be used to maintain and upgrade the storage systems used for this project.
Creation of the Charles W. Cushman Web site will be coordinated by the Digital Media and Image Center (DMIC) staff, working with IU's Usability Lab. The DMIC staff has experience working with the University's usability consulting services staff on the Hoagy Carmichael Project. The university consultant will advise the Web design team throughout the process, selecting appropriate user-centered activities to help guide design and evaluation. The consultant will guide the Web developer in planning, conducting and interpreting the results of user-centered activities. This work will involve four phases: pre-design; conceptual design and prototyping; implementation; and evaluation. The evaluation will involve work with all user groups, including post-secondary students from a variety of disciplines, scholars from a variety of disciplines, and members of the general public.
Staff: Aaron Reichert, Digital Media Specialist, will develop the Web site and coordinate the evaluation of the site. He will be working with IU's Usability Consulting Services staff. Mr. Reichert led the design effort for the Hoagy Carmichael Project and has created other Web sites for the Digital Library Program, including the Frank M. Hohenberger Photograph Collection site http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/collections/lilly/hohenberger/
In addition to the photographs, the Web site will include a biographical essay about Charles Cushman and two essays about his work. The biographical essay about Mr. Cushman will be written by the Philip Bantin, University Archivist, based upon documentation that accompanies the photographs and an interview with Elizabeth Cushman, who resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The other two essays will be commissioned from scholars, one of photographic history and one of American cultural history.
The Cushman Project will contribute to knowledge about visual resources-their organization, retrieval, preservation, and digitization. Cushman's meticulous documentation provides the framework for creating a database management system and a detailed finding aid as well as offering an exceptional early Kodachrome slide collection on the World Wide Web. Libraries, museums, and archives will have access to a model for creating similar resources to provide access to their own image collections.
Lesy, Michael. Wisconsin Death Trip. New York: Pantheon Books, 1973.
Genthe, Arnold. Genthe's Photographs of San Francisco's Old Chinatown. New York : Dover Publications, 1984.
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Last updated: Tuesday, June 19, 2007 04:30:18