A View to Hugh meets Twenty Eleven

Joe Lee Hartley Jr. at Grandfather Mountain, NC changing admission sign

Joe Lee Hartley Jr. at entrance gate to Grandfather Mountain, N.C. changing admission sign, reflecting higher admission prices.

Today marks the debut of the third stylistic incarnation of A View to Hugh. I hope you like it! So what does this mean for you, our readers?  Beyond just the different “look-and-feel” of this new WordPress theme, “Twenty Eleven,” (more on themes later), the updated style allows for different kinds of posts than our previous themes (first “Blue Zinfindel” followed by “Atahualpa”). I’ll be experimenting with these new features for future posts.  If nothing else, the cleaner look will hopefully offer you a refreshing, easy-to-read experience.  And while we had the capability before with the previous theme, I’ve categorized the links to other websites and blogs to make them easier to find and use.  Also added are two icons for links to Facebook and Twitter to make it easier for you to share a post with your friends.  All that, and there’s no change in the admission price.  Please let me know what you think of the changes!

So why the change?  In the spirit of a “Behind-the-Scenes” post, the answer is . . .

Side note: If “library talk” is less enjoyable to you than the sound of fingernails scraping a blackboard, now would be a great time to explore previous posts and leave a comment, read one of the great essays from last year (maybe the essay that includes today’s featured photograph) and start or contribute to a discussion, or explore the online collection of Hugh Morton images!

. . . With the growing desire by library staff members to create new blogs, the library’s IT (information technology) department has become increasingly confronted by the challenges associated with maintaining the corresponding growth in the number of different WordPress themes selected by staff to design their blogs.  (Phew, that was a mouthful!)

WordPress is the software used by the UNC Library that makes these blogs possible. A WordPress theme is “a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying, unifying design for a blog.

WordPress has a rigorous schedule for version updating. Every time WordPress releases a new version of its software, Library IT staff have to check each blog theme to be sure that it works properly, and then fix what was broken.  That process was getting to be more and more cumbersome with each WordPress upgrade. The same held true when a theme creator updated a theme.

To make life simpler, Library IT initially thought that they might limit staff choices to just a handful of themes.  They eventually concluded, however, that we could select one from any of the 114 free themes supported by WordPress.com (the “hosted” flavor of WordPress where your blog is maintained on its servers; the WordPress software available for downloading onto your own computer/server is obtained from www.wordpress.org.)

At first glance, supporting any number of those 114 themes may seem like even more work.  The key to Library IT’s decision, however, is that (theoretically) by limiting our theme choice to one of those supported by WordPress.com, there is a greater likelihood that a particular theme’s code would also be updated so that it functions properly in conjunction with the underlying WordPress content management software upgrade—and thus function properly with minimal effort on our part.

So . . . if you are still following along, you may have deduced that our previous theme was not among the approved 114 themes. (There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of WordPress themes out there!)

To pick a theme that I thought would work for A View to Hugh, I used the WordPress Themes Showcase and filtered for “Art” and “Photography” and “Three-columns” . . . and didn’t see anything I liked.  More browsing lead me to “Duster,” which I really liked.  Seeing Duster made me think that using three-columns was not as important as it was when we began, because the nature of the blog has changed since processing the collection is now complete.  The need for two side columns to hold all the links closer to the top of the screen just didn’t feel as compelling, and “expanding” to two columns would allow the photographs to be displayed a bit larger (35 pixels wider) and yet still feature the written word.  A View to Hugh has always been about a dialogue between our writers, our audience, and the photographs, which is why we quickly discarded the notion of a “photoblog” in the early design stage back in 2007.

To wrap things up . . . a few days after settling on Duster, WordPress.com announced its new default theme for this year, Twenty Eleven, which they touted as an improved and enhanced version of Duster.  We made the switch . . . and now you know why A View to Hugh met Twenty Eleven in 2011.

Islands of the Pacific revisited

Hugh Morton in Manila Chinese Cemetery

Hugh Morton with camera, Manila Chinese Cemetery, Philppines, circa March 1945.

During the Memorial Day weekend, I looked online through the numerous photographs made by Hugh Morton during his tour of duty in the South Pacific during World War II as a photographer (still and moving image) with the United States Army 161st Signal Photographic Company.  The idea was to have a military post related to the holiday.  I must confess that the exercise consumed the greater portion of my holiday weekend, but it was enjoyable and educational!  It also was rewarding because my journey through the collection, using the geographical subject heading “Islands of the Pacific,” led to several corrections with some interesting new identifications.  Unfortunately it has taken some time to update the catalog records, plus some of the master scans were “M. I. A.” so I needed to rescan those negatives.  That extra work meant that this post got pushed into June—and there’s enough material to merit more than one post.

The delay turns out not to be a such bad thing, however, because significant events in the war in the South Pacific took place during the month of June 1945—particularly on Luzon that lead to the liberation of the Philippines, declared on July 5th.  Ironically it was through that country’s two national heroes from the Spanish-American War—Andrés Bonifacio, and José Rizal—that I was able to identify the actual locations depicted several photographs.

Our first stop on this virtual expedition, however, is 4,000 miles southeast of Manila: Nouméa, New Caledonia.

Noumea, New Caledonia

Nouméa with Mount Dore in the distance, New Caledonia, circa late 1943–1944.

Many of the “misidentified” images are from a batch of negatives that Morton originally labeled “Noumea, New Caledonia.”  Nouméa is the capitol of New Caledonia, a country formed from a group of islands that are more than 900 miles east of Australia.  Nouméa is located on the southwestern coast near the southern tip of a long slender island called Grande Terre and situated on a protected harbor with a small island, Ile Nou, just offshore.  In 1942 the Allies needed to relocate the center of their Pacific operations from Auckland, New Zealand to a place closer to the “front.”  New Caledonia had been a French colony since the mid 19th century, and Nouméa was significantly closer to the action.  During the summer and autumn of 1942, the United States Navy and Army constructed extensive facilities at Nouméa, and on 8 November 1942 Nouméa became the official headquarters of the Allied Commander of the South Pacific.  New Caledonia also became home to many USO performances by Bob Hope and others, which Morton photographed in 1944.

When the army shipped members of the 161st Army Signal Corp to the Pacific, including Hugh Morton sometime in late 1943 or early 1944, they likely landed first in Nouméa.  Above is a scenic photograph by Morton of Nouméa with Mount Dore in the distance, scanned from the original negative with a U.S. Army Signal Corp identification number 22-16 along the left-hand edge.  Another scan in the online collection is from a cropped print.  The snapshot photograph below, with Saint Joseph’s Cathedral in the background, is the only other positively identified view made Nouméa. The original 2.5 x 3.5-inch negative is in the Morton collection, but it has not been scanned.

Street scene, Noumea, New Caledonia

So far, these are the only two images positively identified as Nouméa.  When Elizabeth Hull processed World War II material in the Morton collection, she made a note in the finding aid alerting users that many of the images in that the batch of negatives may not be of Nouméa.  Many of those negatives can now be assigned their proper place on the map: the Philippines, where Morton’s military service concluded in the spring of 1945.  The next post (or posts) on this trip back to the South Pacific will be a reflection of Morton’s tour of duty: “island hopping” our way to the Philippines.

Worry No More: a Charlie Justice photograph revisited

An interesting revelation about a classic Hugh Morton photograph serendipitously unveiled itself last week while I was writing my previous post on the Good WILLmington Mission, which occurred mid November 1948 and stemmed from a tragic event that occurred during the final days of October of that year.  Researching issues of the Wilmington Morning Star on microfilm, I discovered a number of Morton photographs—including the one below in the November 8th edition that I recalled having seen several times before.

Photograph as published in Wilmington Morning Star 8 November 1948 page 6

The beginning of the caption reads:

IN THE CLOSING MINUTES of the Carolina-William & Mary game Saturday, about the time it was obvious that the Tar Heels could not break the 7-7 tie, here’s how the Carolina bench looked. . . .

I made the digital copy you see above from the newspaper microfilm because often it is the easiest way to transcribe long captions when updating image descriptions in the online collection of Morton photographs.  With the scan in hand, I returned to the original focus of my digging expedition. Later, a quick check in the online collection located the stadium sideline scene below (without cropping),

Charlie Justice and Carl Snavely, 1948. . . but the image had the surprising title “1949 Sugar Bowl: UNC vs. Oklahoma” and its description read:

UNC All America Tailback Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice #22 talks with Head Football Coach Carl Snavely at Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, LA. Others in the picture: #66 Blocking Back Paul Rizzo, #67 Center Dan Stiegman, and #33 Blocking Back Bobby Weant. The assistant coach to Snavely’s left is line coach Max Reed; “board of directors meeting at the final bowl.”

Did you catch that? Here was a classic Morton image of Charlie Justice, long associated with his last game with UNC—the 1950 Cotton Bowl played nearly 14 months later—because of its placement the chapter “End of an Era” in Choo Choo: The Charlie Justice Story by Bob Quincy and Julian Scheer published in 1958. In their biography of Justice, Quincy and Sheer’s caption reads, “Board of directors meeting at the final bowl.” And to compound the confusion, we had a subject heading for the Cotton Bowl, but our description related to the 1949 Sugar Bowl. (Note: I’ve since corrected the description, title, and subject heading.)

Another known appearance in print of the photograph is the June 19th, 1949 issue of Holiday magazine with the caption:

All American halfback “Choo Choo” Charlie Justice has confab with Coach Carl Snavely.  Justice with another year of playing eligibility has already become one of U.N.C.’s grid immortals.

Obviously that publication also predates the 1950 Cotton Bowl.

I passed this discovery on to our contributor Jack Hilliard, who also noted that the player uniforms in this picture are definitely from 1948.  He also noticed that Snavely is wearing a dark coat in the William and Mary photograph, but in photographs of the 1949 Sugar Bowl he is wearing a lighter-tone overcoat.  So looking more closely at Snavely, I noticed that he is wearing the same tie in both photographs!  Maybe it was his favorite game-day tie during 1948, because he is also sports it in a photograph shot after defeating the University of Texas on September 25th, 1948, an undated photograph with Wake Forest coach Peahead Walker, (if you click on those links and use the zoom tool—is that the same sports coat, too?!) and a photograph made just before the 1949 Sugar Bowl.

So with new evidence in hand, we need “Worry, Worry, And More Worry” no more. The “board of directors” photograph has been relocated to its proper place on the “Justice Era” time line.

Worth 1,000 Words essays on LEARN NC

We’re very pleased to announce that nine of our Worth 1,000 Words essays are now included as part of the online educational offerings of LEARN NC, a well-respected teaching and learning resource program from the UNC School of Education. The essays are part of North Carolina History: A Digital Textbook. Here’s the description from their website:

LEARN NC’s “digital textbook” for 8th-grade North Carolina history offers a new model for teaching and learning. This “digital textbook,” designed for grade 8 and up, covers all of North Carolina history, from the arrival of the first people some 12,000 years ago to the present. Far more than a textbook, though, it’s a collection of primary sources, readings, and multimedia that you can search, select, and rearrange to meet the needs of your classroom. To build critical thinking and literacy skills, special web-based tools aid reading and model historical inquiry.

We’re thrilled to be able to get our essay authors’ work more easily into the hands of teachers and students, and want to say thanks to LEARN NC for this great collaborative opportunity!

A processor’s (concluding) perspective

Looking back at the first blog post I wrote nearly three years ago, I have admittedly mixed feelings about how the Hugh Morton processing project has proceeded, and is now wrapping up. Don’t get me wrong — when I compare these “after” pictures of the collection with the “before” shots in that first post, I feel an undeniable satisfaction, that particular archivists’ sense of triumph at having wrestled what was essentially a BIG OLD MESS into something that is organized, nicely rehoused and labeled, physically stabilized, digitized (in part), described, and accessible to the public.

Still, there is a niggling part of me that suspects, deep down, that my victory over the Morton beast is incomplete . . . that despite three years of hard work (not just mine, but also that of numerous and wonderful students and volunteers), the collection still somehow got the best of me. [Note from Stephen: the collection also got the best in Elizabeth.] In the past, I’ve left behind most of my projects/collections with a sense of closure — I had thoroughly beaten those collections into submission, and it was unlikely any processor would ever have to work on them again (or at least for a very long time). Not the case with this one! A person could devote a CAREER to the Morton Collection and still not be “finished.”

In that first post, I wrote:

Since I began working on the collection . . . I have had regular moments of crisis during which I become nearly paralyzed by all the challenges associated with and possible approaches to this project. How do you impose order on chaos, while respecting what few pockets of order do exist? How do you decide what to digitize, and when? How do you balance the needs and interests of the many people who will use this collection with the preservation needs of the material itself?

I’m not sure that we ever found firm answers to these questions, or that we ever really will. But the answer we have to go with is, “we do our best.” And that’s what we did!

  • We digitized, described, and made available online more than 7,500 images in the Hugh Morton Digital Collection
  • We organized the collection into nine series by subject, and described everything in detail in the collection’s finding aid, and linked it up to the digital collection at the subseries level
  • We tracked our progress and highlighted special topics/images in this blog, and built upon it through the Worth 1,000 Words essay project

And what of the future, you ask? First and foremost, A View to Hugh will continue! North Carolina Collection Photographic Archivist Stephen Fletcher will be taking over primary author and editorial duties, but I will likely contribute now and again. We may not post as often as we have for the past three years, but there’s just too much fascinating, beautiful, relevant stuff in this collection — we simply must share!

I’ll be moving on to other collections here in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, but will still be around and completing a few remaining Morton-related clean-up tasks. Morton Collection-related inquiries should be directed to Stephen; information about reproductions is available on the NCCPA Requesting Reproductions page.

Until next time,

–Elizabeth Hull

All nine series now available!

It’s been a while since I announced an update to the finding aid for the Hugh Morton collection . . . but that’s because I’ve been saving up until I could reveal ALL of the remaining series at once. (Not intentionally, actually — it just kind of worked out that way). So yes, this means that almost all* of the Morton collection is now open and available for research!

Of greatest interest to many will be the Sports Series (series 6), which contains the absolute gold mine that is Hugh Morton’s UNC basketball photography. Morton took an amazing 30,000 photographs of UNC basketball, dating from the beginning of his time as a UNC undergrad in 1939 through the early 2000s (see left). We worked hard and very carefully to process this portion of the collection, knowing how popular these would be. Along the way, we digitized about 1300 of them, which (in case you need a reminder) are available online in the Hugh Morton digital collection. (Big props to our volunteer Jack Hilliard, who did the vast majority of the description/identification for these — talk about a “citizen archivist“!).

But let’s not overlook the other sports (football, golf, and hang gliding, to name a few), or series 7 through 9 — World War II (7);  Places, Non-North Carolina and Unidentified (8); and Documents & Objects (9). Go to the newly updated finding aid for detailed descriptions of these materials.

*Yes, unfortunately, we’re not quite done yet. There’s still a good deal of cleaning up left to do, inserting stray items into series, adding the film, video, and audio materials, the oversize prints, etc. Not at all helpful is the fact that as I was doing a “victory lap” around the stacks the other day, I came upon a previously overlooked (and quite large) box of negatives — a tangled mess of hundreds of rolls of film, representing lots of different subjects and time periods. SIGH. Wish me luck.

A “wee bit” of Scotland in NC

“Brawny athletes, delicate dancers, noisy bagpipe band parades, rocking Celtic music and a spectacular highland setting makes this colorful celebration of Scottish culture the ‘best’ highland games in America . . .” (or so says the visitnc.com website).

The 55th Annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games were held this past weekend in MacRae Meadows, at the base of Grandfather. The continuing popularity of the Grandfather Games is perhaps the most visible indication of a long history of Scottish settlement and the continuing influence of Scottish culture in the North Carolina Mountains. In our latest Worth 1,000 Words essay entitled Scottish Heritage at Linville, anthropologist CELESTE RAY explores these traditions and the role of the Morton family in attempting to maintain them. (Did you know, for example, that Hugh Morton’s mother and brother Julian began the development of “Invershiel,” a replica 16th-century Scottish village in Linville?). Read Ray’s essay to find out more.

And finally, for those of you in the Wilmington area, I’d like to offer one last reminder of our Worth 1,000 Words event this coming Monday. Details below; hope to see you there!

Monday, July 19, 5:30 p.m.
New Hanover County Public Library, NorthEast Branch, Wilmington
Information: Paige Owens, powens@nhcgov.com, (910) 798-6327
Speakers:

New essay, and upcoming events!

Today’s first order of business is to proclaim the availability of our newest Worth 1,000 Words essay, written by plant ecologist ALAN S. WEAKLEY and entitled Hugh Morton and North Carolina’s Native Plants (one of which can be seen at left). Weakley, Curator of the University of North Carolina Herbarium, a department of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, brings a unique perspective to our essay project as a scientist who worked closely with Hugh Morton on projects related to plant conservation at Grandfather Mountain. Please take a few minutes to read and respond to Weakley’s reflections.

Secondly, and speaking of Worth 1,000 Words, we’d like to announce two upcoming Morton Collection events, FREE and open to the public, to be held in Wilmington on July 19 and Boone on August 10. Further details available on the Library News and Events blog here. If you’re in the area, we hope you’ll take this opportunity to come say hi to those of us who work on the collection, as well as to hear from and chat with some of our essay authors. See you there!

New series available, plus a semi-fun photo-related activity

Imagine my excitement when I went to the cnn.com homepage a few weeks ago and saw an article entitled “Connecting the past to the present tougher than it looks.” This is a story from CNN’s iReport feature, where they “outsource” their reporting to regular folks — CNN assigned their iReporters to try their hand at a neat, low-tech photography technique that involves lining up historic photos with the same current-day scene. (There’s a great Flickr group devoted to this practice, called “Looking Into the Past” — however, some of these people are obviously cheating with Photoshop).

Let me back up for a minute to make two BIG behind-the-scenes announcements: 1) the Grandfather Mountain and UNC-Chapel Hill series (Series 4 and 5) of the Morton collection are now available online and open for research; and 2) the digital collection has reached (and rocketed past) 5,000 items.

In honor of these developments (particularly the availability of the UNC-CH photos), Sam and I decided to try our hand at the “lining-up” trick, right here on campus: we printed out a few of Hugh Morton’s photos from when he was a student here (1939-1942), and went out with the digital camera. As you can see from the results below, it is indeed “tougher than it looks”! (Especially when it’s windy outside).

Here we are attempting to situate a Morton photo of a group of unidentified gentlemen (UNC faculty?) standing on the front steps of Wilson Library (view the original here). Close, but no cigar. . . finding the exact right spot and angle to successfully line up the print with the real world is quite difficult, and you also look and feel ridiculous as you fumble around for that perfect perspective.

Equally poorly-aligned is this portrait of a wild group of hooligans posing on the steps of South Building. If anyone knows what’s going on here, please fill us in… the original can be viewed in much greater detail here. (I assume this gathering is World War II-related, because one of said hooligans is holding a button that reads “To Hell with Hitler”).

We did a little better, but not much, with this Morton portrait of 1941-1942 UNC senior Frances Bonkemeyer, publicity chair for the YWCA and member of the UNC Coed Senate (see the original here).

So to sum up, let me first reiterate that Series 4 (Grandfather Mountain) and Series 5 (UNC-Chapel Hill) are now included in the online finding aid and available for research! And, the Hugh Morton digital collection contains more than 5,400 items!

We hope our little exercise inspires you to try “linking the past with the present” using historic photos. Send us your results if you do.

New essay, new look

eleanor_thumbFirst and foremost, we’re thrilled to announce the availability of the second essay in our Worth 1,000 Words series: it’s by former University Archivist Janis Holder and is entitled Covering the Beat: The University in the WWII Era. Please read, enjoy, share, and comment!

Secondly, you may have noticed that “A View to Hugh” has gotten a bit of a makeover! We’ve upgraded to a new “theme” in WordPress, but tried to maintain much of the original look, feel and functionality. The most pressing reason for this upgrade was to better accommodate our essays, which you will see now occupy their own section of the V2H website. The essays are now posted as their own pages, rather than as traditional posts.

For those of you who might be missing the old V2H look, you should also know that our original WordPress theme was “orphaned” and had become out-of-date and cumbersome to use. Our new theme is sleeker, much more functional, and allows for larger images and neat widgets like the new Digital Collection RSS feed in the right sidebar, which allows you to peruse recent additions to the ever-expanding Hugh Morton Digital Collection. It was time for a change, and we hope you find it one for the better.