As of late 2015, SFC’s audiovisual preservation and access project team has grown to include three new members! To welcome them, I will be highlighting their work through a series of posts, starting with our AV Archivist, Anne Wells.
Anne is charged with increasing access to SFC collections, old and new, through the development of item level finding aids (for reference, check out the McCabe’s Guitar Shop Collection). Currently, only 30% of SFC collections containing audiovisual materials are described through these finding aids, making the work Anne carries out extremely important to the visibility of SFC holdings. Additionally, as the primary location for streaming our digitized content, the increase in finding aids will allow us to serve more recordings to our patrons and the general public.
For this post I asked Anne to describe the type of work she is currently taking on…
As Erica mentioned, I have been primarily working with SFC’s finding aids since I began last November. These finding aids provide comprehensive overviews of SFC’s unique collections. Thus far, I have spent the majority of my time cleaning up previously made finding aids, or more specifically, EAD XML schema, to make sure they meet specific requirements necessary for the linking of streaming digital access copies. During this process I have also created a standardized language to describe SFC’s audio visual items, including consistent descriptions of format, length, playback attributes and credits, when known.
I have also been lucky enough to get my hands on some of SFC’s AMAZING collections. For instance, I processed the McCabe’s Guitar Shop Collection, which includes over 2,000 live concert recordings on ¼” open reel, audiocassette, DAT and CD. I accessioned the collection, arranged the materials chronologically by format, and created a new item level finding aid for the collection. Just to give you a sense of the large scope of the collection, here’s a cropped glance at some of the audiocassettes within the collection:
And here’s a personal favorite found in the collection:
I am now transitioning into mostly creating new SFC finding aids from scratch. I find this kind of work super rewarding, since I personally have a hand in making these collections known and available to the general public for the first time. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on these new finding aids as they become published.
Prior to Anne’s arrival, significant work was put into developing a prioritization model for SFC collections, both for digitization and description. In considering the number of variables that make a collection a high priority, a questionnaire was developed to rate collections on certain factors, including the following factors:
- Percentage of formats at risk of deterioration or obsolescence in the collection (including lacquer discs, polyester-based audiotape, and 2” Quadruplex video)
- Percentage of unique recordings in the collection
- Research value
- Previous or expected requests and use by patrons
- Previous digitization work
- Use and access restrictions
Using the questionnaire, we were able to determine a top-13 list to be prioritized for digitization and access. Fortunately, we found that a number of the collections had already seen some level of attention, so currently we are focusing on completing their digitization, while Anne polishes their finding aids.
Look out for more content in the following collections in the near future:
Southern Folk Cultural Revival Project
David and Beverly Patterson
George Hamilton IV
Guy and Candie Carawan
Goldband Recording Corporation
William R. Ferris
Be a part of our 78 rpm disc identification project!
In late 2015, the Southern Folklife Collection received a UNC Library Innovation Grant to experiment with technology-driven cataloging for more than 100,000 sound recordings.
Current estimates project that it would take catalogers approximately 45 years to research and create a standard record for each of the thousands of discs. SFC curator, Steve Weiss, proposed a pilot to speed cataloging through automation.
The idea is to take a digital photograph of printed record labels, convert the images to text using optical character recognition (OCR) software, and then combine the text and images to help with workflow, discovery, and access. Crowdsourcing tags and comments may help to add even more information to the process.
Now you can be part of the process. Help us shine a light on these rare gems by visiting our Facebook page and taking a few minutes to give us a little information. For detailed instructions and examples of the process, see our new page “78 Crowdsourcing Project“ linked to in the tabs in our header at the top of the page.
No prior cataloging experience required! All you need is a love of music and a desire to be part of the effort to help move these records out of semi-obscurity. See more details here.
Walking past the John M. Rivers Audio Studio this morning, I was surprised to hear a pig being fed coming from behind the door. I was not surprised when I learned that SFC Audio Engineer, John Loy, was preserving an open reel tape of wild sound from Tom Davenport’s documentary with Peg Leg Sam, Born For Hard Luck. We love hearing raw, wild sound, at the Southern Folklife Collection and this clip of Sam feeding his pigs is just that. “Get it you lousy bums,” he growls. From FT-324 in the Tom Davenport Papers (20025). Below you can see an image from the making of the film, including the boom operator, Kip Lornell, who may have made the recording here. I’m ready for lunch:
Pig clip from Peg Leg Sam; Davenport collection_0001
Directed by Tom Davenport and produced by Davenport Films and the Curriculum in Folklore at UNC with Daniel Patterson and Allen Tullos, Born For Hard Luck is a portrait of the last Black medicine-show performer, Arthur “Peg Leg Sam” Jackson, with brilliant harmonica songs, tales of hoboing, buck dances, and an authentic live medicine-show performance filmed at a North Carolina county fair in 1972.
In 2000, Davenport went on to create folkstreams.net, a free website that allows users to stream a massive array of documentary and ethnographic films about American folk culture, ranging in subjects from aging and agriculture to immigrant culture and music and covering all regions of the United States.
Working with folklorist Daniel Patterson and others on the Folkstreams committee, Davenport submitted a proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities and received grant funds to build a prototype. Expansion of Folkstreams.net is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, regional and state Arts and Humanities organizations, private foundations, and contributions from filmmakers, scholars, and collaborating institutions. Preservation copies of films on Folkstreams.net are part of the SFC Folkstreams.net Collection (20384).
L-R: Peg Leg Sam, Kip Lornell (with boom mic), Bruce Bastin, and Tom Davenport (with camera). University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Image Collection (P0004), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.
There is more Billy Faier and Thornton Dial coming, I promise. Please do check back, we have been pulling materials from the Billiy Faier Collection (20380) to share with you, but until next week, we thought readers and listeners might enjoy a recording by the great Philadelphia based Irish ensemble, The Four Provinces. The group was founded and led by London-born, Irish pianist Edward Lee. Lee emigrated to the United States in 1916 and quickly put together an ensemble to play the lively Philadelphia dancehall scene, he also co-founded the Irish Musician’s Union (listen to this fascinating recording of Edward Lee’s brother, Joe Lee, at the British Library Sound Archive).
Released in 1924, “Reidy Johnson Reels” and “Kitty’s Wedding”, from 78 rpm disc call number 78-16498 in the UNC Libraries catalog are a wonderful collection of dance tunes. Enjoy a musical pick-me-up on a cold Friday afternoon.
We were saddened to hear that pioneering musician, banjoist, artist, writer, raconteur, and friend of the Southern Folklife Collection, Billy Faier, passed away on January 29 in Alpine, Texas. We are preparing a longer tribute to Billy’s career with some wonderful items from the Billy Faier Collection (20380) to appear on Field Trip South later this week, but as I was looking through his papers this afternoon, I couldn’t help but fixate on one of Billy’s non-musical passions, juggling.
After mastering the skill, Billy developed a notation system, much like music tablature, to teach others juggling techniques. He called the notation system “juglature.” From folder “OP-20380/8: Juglature Notes”, I scanned a few drawings that show the earliest sketches and experimental development of “juglature” that Faier would continue to develop for the instruction books he later wrote. Like so much of my favorite folklore, I love these drawings as much for their abstract and simple beauty as the utility and complexity of the narratives embedded within. Please do revisit Field Trip South this week for more in-depth tribute (with music, of course) to the remarkable Billy Faier. Rest in peace, Billy.