Barclay and Luhrs speak at Harvard’s Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies


Eric Luhrs presenting on the East Asia Image Collection

History Professor Paul Barclay and Director of Digital Scholarship Services Eric Luhrs were invited to participate in a workshop on “Advancing Digital Scholarship in Japanese Studies” at the prestigious Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University. Their flagship digital project, the East Asia Image Collectionserved as a catalyst for discussion and as an inspiration for new digital scholarship in the field.

The impetus for the invitation was Harvard Yenching Library’s newly acquired collection of ephemera, books, and manuscripts for Japanese-governed Manchukuo (“Manchuria”). Manchukuo, a region that consisted of China’s three northeastern provinces, existed as a state from 1932-1945 and was considered the jewel in the crown of Japanese empire. The new collection includes over 2000 items, including hundreds of postcards, board games, propaganda posters, scrapbooks, and hundreds of rare books. Barclay and Luhrs were asked to help survey the materials due to their expertise with similar materials in the EAIC.


Paul Barclay examining new archival material

Their ten years of experience in collecting, cataloging, and building the East Asia Image Collection, an open access archive of almost 6000 postcards and historical ephemera from the Japanese Empire, have made Luhrs and Barclay a valuable resource in this scholarly arena. In the course of the project they have encountered and overcome numerous complexities in terms of digitization, representation, and managing long-term access and preservation of the digital surrogates. They are well positioned to help others negotiate these hurdles and, more importantly, create the foundations not only to build new archives and collections, but also to connect these collections across institutions.

Over the course of two days, Barclay and Luhrs met both with scholars of Japanese Studies and experts in digital scholarship to discuss best practices and strategies in creating digital scholarship projects.


Paul Barclay presenting his work

During their presentation, “Growing the East Asia Image Collection over a Decade,” Director Luhrs presented on the technical, conceptual, institutional, and administrative aspects of building a world-class digital archive. Barclay explained how the EAIC has drawn volunteers, students, collaborators, and donors into the project over the years.  Barclay focused on three ongoing projects in international collaboration: the Lafayette-Showa Memorial Museum (Tokyo) project to digitize, transcribe, translate, and publish postcard-letters from Japanese families to soldiers in the Philippine Islands in 1945 and 1946; a joint venture between Lafayette and the Puli Municipal Museum in Taiwan to build a digital archive for the Taroko-Japanese War of 1914, and a partnership between Kyoto University and Lafayette College to link digital archives across the Pacific Ocean.


Kuniko McVey, Ted Bestor, and Eric Lurhs

Their second session, “From Shoebox to Online Showcase: How to build a Digital Image Collection” included fellow researchers Ted Bestor, Professor of Anthropology and Director of Harvard’s Reischauer Institute, and Kuniko McVey, Librarian of Japanese Language Materials at Yenching. Using Harvard’s new Manchukuo collection as a focus, this session was a round-table discussion of how scholars should (and shouldn’t) build digital research collections.

Finally, for the conference’s round-up session, Barclay and Luhrs moderated a discussion among thirty scholars, librarians, and technologists about the future of digital scholarship, copyright issues, and best teaching practices.

The focused nature of the conference provided the opportunity for like-minded scholars from a number of prestigious universities and institutions to share resources and solutions. Having the best and brightest of the field assembled in the same location created a unique space for a rich and productive exchange of ideas.

Barclay and Luhrs will return to Harvard in May to continue the conversation. The spring session will have a more specific focus on Harvard’s new Manchuria materials and will work to bring together the strengths of scholars and library scientists from multiple institutions in the development of a new research collection.

DHLaf students present their work at Bucknell Digital Initiatives Conference


Jethro Israel, Ian Morse, Ben Draves, Vincent DeMarco and Feevan Megersa at the Bucknell Digital Scholarship Conference.

This weekend five Lafayette students presented their work at Bucknell University’s Digital Scholarship Conference, “Collaborating Digitally: Engaging Students in Public Scholarship.” The main focus of the conference was on building new ways to connect Digital Humanities and Digital Scholarship with the student experience and on developing new frameworks for including students as meaningful collaborators on digital projects. While many of the presenters focused on students as researchers or contributors to larger projects, our students presented work of their own design.


Feevan Megersa discusses her project on Ethiopian Folktales on a panel presentation.

Feevan Megersa ’17, Ian Morse ’17, and Jethro Israel ’16 presented their work on a panel “Models of Student Engagement in DH” alongside of the Library’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities Emily McGinn. Feevan presented her project “Got Folktales?” an interactive project that maps the themes and morals of a collection of Ethiopian folktales, and Ian presented work from his Solution Based Press Freedom Project. Both projects were developed as part of the Digital Humanities Summer Scholars program. The internship was sponsored by Skillman Library and supported with funding from the Library’s Andrew W. Mellon Grant for Digital Initiatives.

Jethro discussed his history with the McDonogh Project, a digital project that tells the story of Washington Watts McDonogh and David Kinney McDonogh, two emancipated slaves who were educated at Lafayette in the 1830s. Jethro described his trajectory as he moved from a student working on a class project, to an EXCEL scholar creating and managing the data behind the digital exhibit, to developing his own research interests in relation to the larger project.


Vincent DeMarco and Ben Draves during the poster session

Vincent DeMarco ’18 and Ben Draves ’17 were a part of their own separate panel where they  presented their project Tempo of the Times, a data analysis project also developed in the Summer Scholars program that examines key features of popular music including polarity, “hotness” and danceability against economic data over time. They were also asked to present their work during the poster session during which they were able to do live demos of their interactive graphs and predictive models that anticipate future trends in music.


Ian Morse (center) answering questions at the NextGen Plenary session

Ian Morse was also given a second opportunity to present his work at the conference. He was selected as part of the NextGen Plenary session in which a panel of five early career scholars presented their work to the entire body of conference goers. Ian presented his project that used large scale text analysis to investigate press freedom violations surrounding Turkey’s Gezi Park protests. His work dovetailed perfectly with keynote speaker Micki Kaufman’s methods on text analysis on Henry Kissinger’s correspondence.

Lafayette College was well represented with one of the largest contingents of students, all of whom had produced exceptional work that set the standard for undergraduate research in the digital humanities. They showed a professionalism and dedication to their work that stands as a testament to the culture of research and intellectual curiosity at Lafayette. During the course of the conference, all of our students became valuable resources for their peers as well as to faculty and administrators hoping to replicate their same success at other institutions.

To continue to build a community of practitioners and collaborators here at Lafayette, we will be holding a general interest session Wednesday December 2 in the tech lounge (Pardee 28) from 3-5. Our students will be available to talk more about their projects and are hoping to find students interested in starting their own digital projects and collaborating with them in the future. Drop in anytime between three and five.

For more information contact Sarah Morris, Research and Instruction Librarian at