October 30, 2020

UMW Libraries’ Special Collections & University Archives Interviewed on WVTF

UMW librarians Angie Kemp, Carolyn Parsons and Sarah Appleby are assembling a COVID archive for future students and historians.

UMW librarians Angie Kemp, Carolyn Parsons and Sarah Appleby are assembling a COVID archive for future students and historians.

UMW Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives team was recently interviewed by WVTF Radio IQ, an NPR affiliate, about their new initiative, Call to Contribute. The librarians are compiling an archive of COVID-19-related content.

When the school year ends, many teachers and staff take a break, but at the University of Mary Washington, three librarians are busier than ever – creating an archive that will tell the story of COVID-19 on campus. 

As head of UMW’s Special Collections and University Archive, Carolyn Parsons understands how present day documents become history. Read more.

UMW Libraries’ Collection Captures COVID-19 History

Reference Librarian Peter Catlin planned to get married in Virginia Beach in May. But the state’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order canceling public gatherings put a kink in his wedding plans. Instead, after many attempts, the couple got special permission from Fredericksburg’s clerk of circuit court, who married them on the sidewalk outside the city courthouse. The […]

UMW Libraries’ Collection Captures COVID-19 History

UMW Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives team is collecting and digitizing a variety of COVID-19 related materials, from diaries to photos to social media posts. Anna Billingsley, associate vice president for University Relations, submitted a screenshot of her personal blog, “Coronavirus Captivity,” chronicling her experiences working remotely and living during the pandemic.

UMW Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives team is collecting and digitizing a variety of COVID-19 related materials, from diaries to photos to social media posts. Anna Billingsley, associate vice president for University Relations, submitted a screenshot of her personal blog, “Coronavirus Captivity,” chronicling her experiences working remotely and living during the pandemic.

Reference Librarian Peter Catlin was set to get married in Virginia Beach in May. But the state’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order canceling public gatherings put a kink in his wedding plans. Instead, after many attempts, the couple got special permission from Fredericksburg’s clerk of circuit court, who married them on the sidewalk outside the city courthouse.

The nuptials marked the beginning of a life together and, when Catlin typed up his story, something else – a special UMW Libraries initiative named Call to Contribute. “It was a very cool start to the project,” said Records Coordinator Sarah Appleby ’06.

The University’s archiving team likes to dig deep in the past, but its mission is also to gather current experiences so future historians can better understand today. To do that, they are asking the UMW community to help create a record of what lives look like in these days of quarantine, remote learning, hand-sewn masks and Zoom meetings.

“We see history happening, and we have to do something to make sure that doesn’t just go away,” Appleby said of the effort.

The team – Carolyn Parsons ’83, head of Special Collections and University Archives; Angie Kemp ’11, digital resources librarian; and Appleby – will collect and digitize a variety of COVID-19 related materials, from diaries and blogs to artwork and photography. They encourage anyone affiliated with Mary Washington to contribute. Read more.

Contribute COVID-19 Stories to Special Collections and University Archives

Archival materials detailing the University of Mary Washington’s history are used in many research projects. Photo provided by Simpson Library.

Archival materials detailing the University of Mary Washington’s history are used in many research projects. Photo provided by Simpson Library.

Today, we are all finding our way through a crisis that future students and scholars will be studying in the years ahead. We know that it is important to preserve as much of the record as possible for future researchers. Staff in Special Collections and University Archives are archiving the University’s response to COVID-19. However, there are important materials that we cannot collect without your help: individual stories. If you’re a UMW community member and have been keeping a record of these events and how they’ve impacted your life, please consider donating them to University Archives in the future. If you haven’t, please consider this a call to write and help us document this unprecedented global crisis. Read more.

Parsons Participates in Digital Archives Summit

Carolyn Parsons, Head of Special Collections and University Archives, recently presented “Preserving Virginia’s Local Architectural Legacies: A Case Study” at the Digital Archives in the Commonwealth Summit at the University of Virginia. The conference explored present, past, and ongoing digital archives projects as well as practical and theoretical issues regarding the convergence of archival practice, scholarly research, and pedagogy. Parsons’ presentation focused on the digitization of UMW’s campus blueprints and architectural drawings by Charles M. Robinson and his understudy and successor, J. Binford Walford funded by The Community Foundation.

UMW Libraries Aid in Digitizing Mary Washington’s Will

UMW Libraries recently partnered with the Fredericksburg Circuit Court Archives and the Washington Heritage Museums to digitize Mary Ball Washington’s 1789 will. This historic document is part of the collections of the Fredericksburg Circuit Court Archives and has been carefully preserved for future researchers but until now had not been digitized.

Anne Darron, Executive Director of the Washington Heritage Museums and UMW alum, inquired with Special Collections and University Archives staff about obtaining a high-quality scan of the will for the local Mary Washington House. The Library’s overhead Cobra V-Cradle scanner in the Digital Archiving Lab was the right equipment for the job, as it allows for high-resolution scanning of fragile bound books and documents up to 18 x 24 inches. Digital Resources Librarian Suzanne Chase scanned the will, providing staff at the Washington Heritage Museums and the Fredericksburg Circuit Court Archives with high-resolution images that they can use in exhibits and printed materials without having to repeatedly handle the original document.

The Digital Archiving Lab enables UMW Libraries to work with faculty and students to create scholarly digital projects and to assist local cultural heritage institutions in digitizing their historic treasures. Scanning Mary Washington’s last will and testament was a project of special significance to us at UMW.

Librarians Participate in MARAC Conference

Suzanne Huffman, digital resources librarian, and Katherine Perdue, assistant systems librarian, presented at the recent Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) in Roanoke. Their session, The Interactive Experience: Exploring Technologies for Creating Touchscreen Exhibits, focused on their experiences in creating and managing interactive exhibits, describing useful tools, open-source products, implementation strategies and assessment techniques. Carolyn Parsons, university archivist, served on the conference’s Program Committee.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) promotes communication and learning among professionals interested in archives, current digital initiatives and preservation of historic and cultural resources.