“Collaborating Digitally:” Alena Principato ’15, DSS’ Eric Luhrs, and Professor Chris Phillips present the Easton Library Company Project at Bucknell


Eric Luhrs, Chris Phillips, and Alena Principato at the Bucknell Digital Scholarship Conference

EXCEL student Alena Principato ’15 presented her work on the Easton Library Company Project alongside project creators Professor Chris Phillips of the English department and Eric Luhrs, Director of Skillman Library’s Digital Scholarship Services team, at the first annual Bucknell Digital Scholarship Conference this week.

The conference “Collaborating Digitally: Engaging Students in Faculty Research,” was sponsored by Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA. It brought together a wide range of digital scholars focused on expanding digital projects into the classroom and into the research profiles of both graduate and undergraduate students.

Together the three presented on the panel “Old Records, New Questions, New Collaborations” where Alena was able to share her story as a contributor to the ELC, a project that includes digitizing and transcribing the lending records of the Easton Library Company from 1811-1862. These ledgers contain unique insights into the reading practices of 19th century readers as well as into the local Easton community of the era. From the students’ transcriptions, the DSS team has taken this data and transformed it into a relational database. 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.

Alena has been active with the project under Professor Phillips’ guidance since her arrival at Lafayette as a freshman. Now three years later, she is an expert on transcribing the records and has trained several other EXCEL students and worked directly with DSS to streamline the transcription process.


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

The panel also included the team’s colleagues Professor of Public History Kyle Roberts and undergrad Evan Thompson ’15 from Loyola University in Chicago. Their work on the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project explores the history of Loyola’s original library  collection and parallels that of the ELC. Their presentation provided an additional model for integrating faculty scholarship into the undergraduate experience.

To foster student faculty collaborations like this one and to encourage the inclusion of digital methodologies into student research, the Digital Humanities Steering Committee has opened a call for proposals that includes funding for EXCEL students like Alena and for integrating DH methods in the classroom. For more information visit the steering committee’s website at sites.lafayette.edu/dhlaf.

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 Paul Barclay and the East Asia Image Collection on the World Stage

Today History Professor Paul Barclay presents his paper “Playing the Race Card in Japanese Governed Taiwan – Anthropometric Photographs as ‘Shape-Shifting Jokers’” at the European Association of Japanese Studies’ International Conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

The paper stems from Barclay’s interest in the visual history of the Japanese empire with a particular focus on mass-produced ephemera. As the general editor of the East Asia Image Collection, developed in partnership with Eric Luhrs, Director of the Library’s Digital Scholarship program, Barclay has amassed a collection of over 5,000 digitized items including postcards, stereographic prints, photographs, and several other media types.

His presentation traces the material history of a single photograph. The image, taken by Japanese ethnologist-photographer Mori Ushinosuke, is an anthropometric portrait of a Taiwanese woman, Paazeh Naheh. Barclay argues that the heavy reproduction of Paazeh’s portrait and the shifting contexts of that image, from a lantern slide, to an ethnographic object of study, to a picture postcard, reveal more than the typical concerns of imperialist discourses and racist essentialism often associated with anthropometric materials. Instead, this image functions as a “shape-shifting joker,” refusing a stable symbolic function. Because the portrait appeared in a broad spectrum of venues and was utilized for a range of agendas, some of which ran counter to the imperial narratives about Taiwan and its people, it subverts the possibility for a monolithic interpretation


Images of Paazeh Naheh in the EAIC

The conference brings together scholars in Japanese history and culture with the aim of fostering an international exchange of ideas. Barclay will present his work alongside colleagues from both Japan and the United States on the panel “Photography in Twentieth Century Japan: Imaging Self and Other.” The presentation is part of his larger project, a book-length study on the history of Japanese-Taiwan Indigenous Peoples relations from 1873 to 1945.

Barclay’s work illustrates the value of the East Asia Image Collection in opening new avenues of investigation for scholars worldwide. The faceted discovery interface allows users to create virtual image sets of items that meet specific criteria while the ability to identify precise relationships between seemingly disparate items aids in the recognition of patterns of production, imagery, and context, making the EAIC a powerful and innovative resource in the field.

To learn more about Professor Barclay’s work and the EAIC visit the collection at: http://digital.lafayette.edu/collections/eastasia.

Connect with this project on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EastAsiaImageCollection

or follow the latest from Professor Barclay on his new EAIC blog: http://sites.lafayette.edu/eastasia/

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.