East Asia Image Collection Adds 453 New Postcards

A postcard image among those recently added to the East Asia Image Collection.

The East Asia Image Collection (EAIC) has just added 453 picture postcards to its open-access database. These items range from “Yellow Peril” genre Russo-Japanese War cards from Europe to Japanese photo-journalism of the 1930s invasion of China. The collection also contains vistas of “Manchuria,” scenes from everyday life during wartime, and military-humor manga postcards. The EAIC is a collaboration between Paul D. Barclay, Associate Professor of History, and Digital Scholarship Services.  Visit our open-access archive digital archive including picture postcards, high-quality commercial prints, and colonial era picture books, among other unique materials.



Digital Library Developer James Griffin Presents at Digital Scholarly Editions Conference in Graz, Austria

Digital Library Developer James Griffin. Photo credit: Kylie Bailin

Digital Library Developer James Griffin. Photo credit: Kylie Bailin

Digital Library Developer James Griffin of Skillman Library Digital Scholarship Services recently presented at the Digital Scholarly Editions as Interfaces Conference hosted September 23-24 by the Centre for Information Modelling at Graz University in Austria.  At a panel on “user-oriented approaches,” James reported on his encoding and design work for the Swift Poems Project.  With faculty collaborators James Woolley, Frank Lee and Edna M. Smith Professor of English at Lafayette College, and Stephen Karian, faculty at the University of Missouri, James develops web service infrastructure supporting an ambitious digital humanities initiative to transcribe, collate, and encode a publicly accessible digital archive of the verse canon of Jonathan Swift (1667-1745).  Paul Miller, Visual Resources Curator jointly appointed in Digital Scholarship Services and Fine Arts, has also significantly contributed to the project with metadata and database expertise.  The Swift Poems Project has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and will serve as a digital companion piece to the forthcoming print edition of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jonathan Swift.

In collaboration with Dr. Woolley, James Griffin is currently developing an API (application programming interface) to collate and automate the encoding of variant poem texts according to the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) guidelines.  Text encoding is a process of structured editorial mark-up that allows scholars to create machine-readable digital editions of texts. Digital editions can be searched, queried, and interpreted based on the information the encoding scholar has embedded in the text.  In addition to his efforts developing a responsive UI (user interface) for the Swift Poems Project, James’s work connecting the project to the TEI community raises the profile and enhances the utility of the project for literary scholars and digital humanities practitioners.

To learn more about what was covered at the Digital Scholarly Editions as Interfaces Conferences, check out the conference Twitter hashtag: #DSEasInterfaces.

Postdoc Michaela Kelly Attends the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists (EAJRS) Conference in Bucharest

Michaela Kelly, the 2016-2017 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the Skillman Library, was in Bucharest, Romania from September 14-17, 2016, to present the EAIC at the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists (EAJRS). Drawing together librarians and scholars from Europe, Japan and North America, the EAJRS conference hosted 34 presentations and one resource provider workshop. The four day conference was held in the beautiful Carol I Central University Library at the University of Bucharest.


The exterior of the Carol I Central University Library, Bucharest, Romania

Michaela’s presentation, ‘Building an archive of Japanese images at Lafayette College and creating international partnerships with others,’ offered an introduction to the physical collection held at Lafayette College Special Collections, and the digital East Asia Images Collection (EAIC), supported by Lafayette College Digital Scholarship Services (DSS), that corresponds to it.  Michaela discussed the digitization process, the metadata schema used for images, and the benefits of collaboration with the Kyoto University (CIAS and Dr. Toshihiko Kishi) postcard collection and others. Audience interest centered on the OCM metadata tags and image formats. Michaela received a comment by an audience member who regularly uses the East Asia Images Collection for scholarly projects and wanted to echo its importance to the rest of the audience.


Presentations underway at the Carol I Central University Library at the University of Bucharest

Other topics covered at the conference included the international exchange of librarians between institutions, virtual archives used by scholars, and specific resource introductions: HathiTrust, the National Diet Library Digital Collections, JACAR, Rekihaku’s Metaresource, and a host of others. There was also a roundtable presentation led by Akio Yasue on the conservation and preservation of Japanese library materials in Europe.

One of the many beautiful kuchie prints

One of the many beautiful kuchie prints on display

The EAJRS and University of Bucharest hosts began the conference by spotlighting their University of Bucharest undergraduate Japanese singing group and offered the opportunity to visit a kuchie print exhibit, curated by Ioan Colta of the Romanian Complexul Muzeal Arad, and a showing of ukiyoe prints at the Romanian Academy Library. The 80+ conference participants also attended at dinner gathering at a traditional Romanian restaurant where regional dance and music was on display.

-Michaela Kelly

DSS announces the launch of the Easton Library Company Database

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The Easton Library Company project began as an archival project with Associate Professor of English Chris Phillips’ discovery of a set of 18th century library ledgers at the Easton Area Public Library. The ledgers held the detailed records of the patrons of the Easton Library Company, the town’s original subscription library, and presented a bevy of data regarding the reading habits, community relationships, and family structures of Easton society. Yet this information was contained in fragile, aging ledger books accessible only to local residents.

Phillips, in collaboration with Digital Scholarship Services, began the enormous task of digitizing and transcribing these records with the help of a team of Excel Scholars: Gavin Jones ’14, Elena Principato ’15, Julia Campbell ’15, Cat Miller ’16, Eric Bockol ’16, Venita O’Hanlon ’16, and Sean Cavanagh ’16. Their hard work in deciphering 18th century librarian short hand and in researching local history forms the backbone of this project.

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Sample ledger page from the Easton Library Company

The long hours of work and analysis has now culminated in the launch of the Easton Library Company Database. Users can now browse through the ledgers digitized in high-resolution images and explore the reading habits of some of Easton’s most influential residents. The page images are linked to transcriptions that users can read alongside of the original page views.

The information collected from these transcriptions forms the basis for the database. Visitors can also sort the contents of the database through a number of facets including book title, author name, and borrower name allowing a user to see who see who read a particular book, or all the books a particular person read. These same facets can be used to create visualizations of the data that reveal the patterns of reading and lending, and eventually the connections between community members. As more information is added to the database these visualizations will give users a glimpse into the social fabric of early Easton.

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Data visualization of top four authors in the database

To create these tools and visualizations, DSS has made major improvements to the methods for entering new information into the database. Streamlining and refining the entry forms allows for easier data collection, and most importantly, they help to ensure the accuracy and standardization of new information, which then provides for better search results for the user.

The Easton Library Company Database is continually evolving and new data and new features will continue to be added to the site alongside of new research and information about the collection as it becomes available.

Explore the project at elc.lafayette.edu.

For more information on starting a digital project with DSS or applying for an internship opportunity contact us at digital@lafayette.edu , or call (610) 330-5796.

New DHLaf Call for Proposals


The Digital Humanities Steering Committee is pleased to announce its latest call for proposals.

View Full Call for Proposals.


This semester we’re offering three options. First, we will support professional development related to digital humanities. This support includes travel to conferences or workshops, as well as trips to archives or digital centers in support of digital research projects. We are also happy to support those looking to acquire new skills in the digital humanities and will fund trips to intensive workshops like DHSi and HILT or fees for online courses. Open Call

Second we are continuing our DH in the Classroom program this term. We are offering a $2000 stipend to any instructor who would like to add a digital assignment or project to their class. Digital Scholarship Services (DSS) will help you structure the assignment, identify the most useful methods or tools for achieving your objectives and provide any in class training or workshops you may need for your students. Previous projects have included online exhibits of religious iconography, digital publishing, statistical analysis of text, and the creation of interactive timelines and maps from archival material. Read more about some of these projects in our previous postDue Nov. 20

Finally we’re offering a new option DH Collaboration Across the Curriculum. Similar to the DH in the Classroom grant, this version seeks instructors who are willing to pair their classes across disciplines. This collaboration could mean using a large set of data that one class visualizes in graphs and tables while the other class provides historical or analytical context. It could also mean identifying a large research question that two classes can approach from different angles. Using a client based approach, both classes could identify a need for a particular product, service, or solution. One class could work on developing a prototype while the other works on market research or  historical analysis of the need for this new service or product. We are looking for collaboration broadly defined but one in which both classes benefit from the insights, knowledge, and perspective of the other. Grants of $2000 per instructor will be awarded and DSS will provide guidance and support in the creation of this collaboration. Due Nov. 20

View Full Call for Proposals.

Please contact Emily McGinn, Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities (mcginne@lafayette.edu) for consultation before submitting a proposal. To apply for any of these grants, please fill out our online form.


“Mapping Memories” Book Release Celebrates Easton History

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Students Julianna Vuotto ’17, Marcus Vilme ’17, Kamani Christian ’17, and Dawit Blackwell ’17 check out the latest edition of  “Remembering the Taylor School and 4th and Lehigh Neighborhood.” 

Professor Andrea Smith’s “Rebuilding Shattered Worlds through Recollection” (A&S 244) class gave a special presentation of their final project at the Sigal Museum. This semester, the class contributed to the ongoing digital public history project “Lebanese Town,” and have been busy interviewing local residents and collecting photographs and memorabilia from former residents of Easton’s Lebanese neighborhood that was lost to urban renewal in the 1960s. The students were able to share their work with the contributors in a collected edition of their stories.


Julie Vuotto ’17 presents her chapter 

The book is a compilation of research conducted across several years and two semesters of student research. This year’s class was able to draw on the previous class’s research to create multi-faceted chapters and to expand the earlier research. Their additions include a chapter on the Italian-American residents, additional sections to chapters on the African-American experience, childhood, and a chapter on home remedies and cures handed down from the old world, and the class’ favorite new chapter, “Consumption in Yesteryear” that brings together all of the stories of the specialty food like the local lemon ice and boiled peanuts and the various ‘mom and pop shops’ that populated the neighborhood. These are the moments in the interviews where the residents’ memories are clear and marked by a joyous nostalgia for their childhood.

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Easton resident and project contributor Sonja Shaheen

This enthusiastic nostalgia was evident in yesterday’s presentation. As each image appeared on the screen, the audience delighted in seeing their own photos included in the project. Every image sparked a renewed discussion of the content, with each person reconstructing the story told in the photo from their memories. All of the contributors got to take home a copy of the book signed by the student authors.

The book is the first stage of the larger Lebanese Town digital project. Since many of the residents are now in their 70s and 80s, they felt that a book would be a better medium for sharing this work with their families. The larger digital project is currently under development with Digital Scholarship Services. Professor Smith has been working closely with DSS’ Visual Resources Curator Paul Miller to collect, scan, and catalogue all of the materials the students have collected. These photos and stories will then be pinned to the digitized map of Easton from 1919 before this section of town was razed, to create a holistic view of the neighborhood. To learn more about the project visit our previous post.

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1919 map of Lebanese Town

For the students this process has been a unique experience, one that made them feel closer to their new home in Easton and that has fostered great relationships between the students and the residents. “I’ve never worked on a project like this,” says Marcus Vilme ’17. “It’s a great feeling to know that my work is now part of something bigger than my class. Unlike a term paper that will get read maybe once or twice, this project has contributed to something that the whole community benefits from.” The residents’ excitement in seeing their own stories preserved and their appreciation for the students’ hard work was a better reward than any grade.

For more information on starting a digital project with DSS or applying for an internship opportunity contact us at digital@lafayette.edu, or call (610) 330-5796.

Lafayette participates in Keystone DH Transcribathon

As part of the Keystone Digital Humanities consortium, Skillman Library’s Digital Scholarship Services participated in a virtual transcribathon along with nine other colleges and universities from the area including Muhlenberg, Lehigh, Bucknell, and University of Pennsylvania. With a great turnout of 10 contributors over the course of the event including five undergraduates and several librarians, the team was able to transcribe 125 new records, all while building a community of DH practitioners on campus and connecting with our colleagues across the state.


Transcribathon participants working on ELC pages

Our group chose to transcribe ledger records from our Easton Library Company project. On hand for the event were Professor Chris Phillips, the primary researcher on the ELC project, Diane Shaw from Lafayette’s Special Collections, and a number of undergraduate students interested in working on digital humanities projects. The ledgers contain the loan records from the Easton Library in the early 1800s. The goal of transcribing these ledgers is to gain insight into the reading practices of 19th century readers and to learn more about Easton’s local history. (To learn more about the project read our previous post on the ELC.)

As the students would find out, transcribing the pages involved not simply transferring the handwritten records into type, but also required lessons in 19th century librarian short hand, research into complex book titles, and a bit of forensic investigation. After the first few successful entries, it was easy to get lost in the world of early Easton, finding names of residents that now appear on street signs and building, and discovering long forgotten novels. Correctly deciphering an entry started to bring out the competitive spirit in the participants and by the end of the night everyone had fun engaging in some biblio detective work.

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Example of a ledger page from 1823

The event lasted three hours with similar transcription efforts happening simultaneously across all of the the participating campuses connected via Google Hangout. The Keystone DH group designed this initiative based on a transcribathon event at the Folger Shakespeare Library in December. The Folger event lasted for 12 hours with 35 participants transcribing and encoding manuscript pages for inclusion in the Early Modern Manuscripts Online project. This event, though shorter in duration, was an experiment in fostering a broader community and connecting like-minded scholars and researchers all of whom are working on long term digital humanities projects.


Sample ledger facsimile, relational data table, and network graph visualization.

The data collected at the event will be added to the ELC’s quickly expanding relational database and the Transcribathon also gave us the opportunity to test a new data entry interface that Digital Scholarship Services has created. Working closely with the students engaged on the project, DSS developers James Griffin and Thom Goodnow have built forms designed to the specific needs of the ELC and the feedback from the Transcribathon will be used to refine these tools even further.  Once complete, this project will allow users to investigate and visualize this data on their own and discover new relationships between readers, lenders, and the community. For us the feedback, as well as the data recorded, are invaluable in advancing the project and we look forward to more opportunities to collaborate with the Keystone community in the future.

For more information on starting a digital project with DSS or applying for an internship opportunity contact us at digital@lafayette.edu , or call (610) 330-5796.


Professor Andrea Smith and DSS capture Easton history in community “scan-a-thon”

Easton residents joined students from Professor Andrea Smith’s Social Memory class to contribute to the ongoing digital public history project “Lebanese Town.” Together with DSS’s Visual Resources Curator Paul Miller, Smith and her students collected and scanned photographs, post cards, and memorabilia from the Easton community. The project aims to reconstruct Easton’s Lebanese neighborhood that was lost to urban renewal in the 1960s. The materials collected today will be added to the growing archive that seeks to preserve the memory of this eclectic, diverse neighborhood.


Professor Smith and students from her Social Memory class set up their materials.

Professor Smith has been working on this project in her classes since 2008 and with her students she has compiled the stories into a book that the contributors help to edit and add to over time. The project has now grown into a digital project where these stories, images and photographs will be included on an interactive map. To learn more about the larger project see our previous post about our latest digital humanities projects.

This week’s event was the second “scan-a-thon” Professor Smith has held to help collect local materials. Over the years she has amassed a mailing list of residents who once lived in Lebanese Town who now often attend events not only to bring additional materials for the collection but to reminisce about their time together in the neighborhood.


Students record a contributor’s story and catalog her photos for Paul Miller to digitize.

These meetings give the students a unique view into Easton’s past as they get to hear stories of the town as it was decades ago. The contributors tell them how amazing the bread was at Leone’s Bakery, and recount old world remedies like curing whooping cough with kerosene or a headache with potato slices. Moreover, they remember Lebanese Town fondly as a close-knit community of friends and neighbors. As the residents talk, the networks and fibers of the community begin to emerge. With so many stories already collected, this term’s students are able to start pulling these threads together writing chapters that focus on shared experiences that can now be told from multiple perspectives. The latest version of the book will be presented to the contributors at a special event at the Sigal Museum on May 7th.

As this growing archive is made digitally accessible, this local history will reach a new audience of both contemporary Easton residents and the Lafayette community of students. Once launched, users will be able to add their own items to the map creating a rich exhibit for the entire Easton community.

For more information on starting a digital project with DSS or applying for an internship opportunity contact us at digital@lafayette.edu, or call (610) 330-5796.


East Asia Image Collection Fosters International Collaboration

Since its launch in 2007, the East Asia Image Collection (EAIC) has garnered international attention with its open access collection of over 5000 postcards, photographs and ephemera tracing the visual history of the Japanese Empire. The collection is curated by Lafayette history professor Paul Barclay and Director of Skillman Library’s Digital Scholarship Services, Eric Luhrs. The success of the collection has brought attention to the fact that though these physical materials are plentiful, particularly in Japan, access to them has been difficult for researchers.


Eric Luhrs and Paul Barclay with new EAIC materials

This month Barclay and Luhrs met with a team at Kyoto University with the aim of connecting their complementary collection of materials to Lafayette’s as a model for creating cross-institutional archival collections. Connecting databases and archives across national borders will allow users to search multiple collections at once and gain access to a much wider set of materials.


Kishi Toshihiko, Eric Luhrs, Paul Barclay and Shoichiro Hara at Kyoto University’s Center for Integrated Area Studies

Luhrs joined Barclay at Kyoto University, where Barclay has been working as a visiting researcher this year, to discuss the logistics of a new collection at the Center for Integrated Area Studies and to work with their team to discuss the architecture necessary to link the two collections. The result of the meeting was a truly collaborative project. “We decided to build a pilot database with 139 of our records and about an equal number of theirs,” explains Barclay. “Having both teams in the same room enabled us to hammer out some of the key components of this project including translation, cataloging methods, and modes of development.” With the combination of these resources, the project is now moving forward and Barclay and Luhrs will present their initial findings in August to an international audience at a Digital Scholarship workshop held at Harvard University.

Expanding the reach of the EAIC even further, Barclay and Luhrs also met with Directors Matsuo and Watanabe of the Showa Memorial Museum in Tokyo. Matsuo visited Lafayette earlier this year and expressed interest in a set of Kodachrome slides from the Gerald & Rella Warner Japan Slide Collection and in the diaries and photos of Lafayette alum Robert Trout (’34) who was a medical supplies officer in Japan from 1945-46. Both of these collections are currently held in Lafayette’s Special Collections and digital versions of these items will now be included in a permanent exhibit as well as in the Showa’s spring exhibit, which draws an average of 12,000 visitors every April.


Paul Barclay and Eric Luhrs with Matsuo Kiminari and Watanabe Kazuhiro, of the Showa Memorial Museum

The Showa team will, in turn, lend their expertise with the transcription of a set of handwritten letters sent from the families of Japanese soldiers interred in American prison camps in the Philippines after World War II. This material was donated by Lafayette alum Brett Doyle (’10) and his family and is currently housed in Lafayette’s Special Collections.

As a whole, this trip has been an incredibly rich opportunity not only to boost Lafayette’s profile in Asia and increase the research audience for the EAIC, but also to build lasting modes of international cooperation that will continue to foster innovative research.


For more information about this project or on starting a new digital project with DSS  contact us at digital@lafayette.edu, or call (610) 330-5796.

New Digital Humanities Projects at Lafayette

The Mellon Digital Humanities Steering Committee has issued a new call for digital humanities proposals in conjunction with Skillman Library and DSS. The proposal offers funding for those looking to incorporate digital scholarship in the classroom, as well as those looking to invest time in learning digital humanities methodologies and tools. For more information about this program visit the Mellon DH Steering Committee’s site or view the full call.

This call follows last year’s Summer Fellowship Program, the results of which are now under development with DSS including Anthropology Professor Andrea Smith’s “Mapping and Memories: Easton’s Lebanese Neighborhood,” and Engineering Studies Professor Benjamin Cohen’s “Pure Food Project.” Both of these projects serve as innovative examples of how digital tools can help in the discovery of new kinds of research questions.

Pure Food Project

Professor Cohen’s project uses a geographic information system (GIS) to examine and map food adulteration in the context of rapidly expanding food supply-chains, enabled by growing railroad and steamship networks in the late 19th century. The project’s mapping component focuses on two aspects of the growing spatial separation of consumers from their food supplies. The first charts the growth of the production of specific adulterants, for example cottonseed oil, which was mixed with olive oil and lard as a low cost substitute. Such production locations are displayed alongside concurrent maps of related themes, such as the continental growth of cotton production in the United States, and expanding global trade patterns. The second, still in development, will provide a geographic visualization of published information about food adulteration. This genre of literature ranged from sensational journalism to professional treatises informed by the growing scientific knowledge of chemistry and nutrition. The aim of this GIS application is to map both the publication of a selection of books on this subject, as well as to map the locations of adulteration incidents as reported from within these texts.

Prototype GIS mapping application for Benjamin Cohen’s Pure Food project.

The maps for this project were created in partnership with John Clark, DSS’ Data Visualization & GIS Librarian. Working with Professor Cohen and his EXCEL Student Matt Plishka ’15, Clark has transformed the data tables collected from historical sources into geospatial datasets, which can be ingested into our digital repository and displayed online in an interactive mapping interface.

This project marks a new digital landscape for DSS and showcases a new mapping platform that will eventually be made available to other Lafayette researchers as well. “Both Benjamin’s and Andrea’s projects extend the current repository to include geospatial information,” explains Eric Luhrs, director of DSS. “Now that this infrastructure is in place, we’ll be able to create similar mapped environments for future projects.”

Mapping and Memories: Easton’s Lebanese Neighborhood

In addition to utilizing this mapped environment, Andrea’s project also includes an element of crowdsourcing. Begun in 2007 as field work with her students, the project examines the demolition of Easton’s “Syrian Town” a once a thriving multi-ethnic community destroyed when over 800 homes were torn down under the auspices of urban renewal in the 1960s. Though the wounds of this destruction are still felt by many of the former residents, now in their 70s and 80s, there is no archive, no public display that marks its existence.

Smith has been working with her students to preserve the memory of this unique space through an oral history project that collects the residents’ photographs and stories. With help from Paul Miller, Digital Production Manager for DSS, Smith and her students held “Scan-a-thons” with local residents. The team scanned and collected hundreds of photos and memorabilia for residents helping them preserve their family memories and helping to build a digital collection.


Prototype map-based crowdsourcing application for Andrea Smith’s Lebanese Town project.

With funding from the Mellon grant, she is able to share her findings even more broadly. The new application developed by DSS uses a base map made from Easton Area Public Library insurance maps dated 1919, when the Lebanese neighborhood still existed, to geo-reference the images and stories Smith has collected.  Smith and her team will then pin stories and images to the map virtually recreating the neighborhood and its culture. The next step of the project will include the functionality for residents to upload and share their own stories and photos adding to Andrea’s existing collection.

The Mellon Digital Humanities Steering Committee is now accepting applications for this year’s program. If you would like to submit a proposal please submit your application here.

For more information on starting a digital project with DSS or applying for an internship opportunity contact us at digital@lafayette.edu, or call (610) 330-5796.