News from CSUMC’s Archives Program

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Mississippi River Commercial Fisherman

Mississippi River Commercial Fisherman, John Duccini, of Dubuque, Iowa. Photograph by Janet C. Gilmore, River Harvest Project, 1987

CSUMC’s archives program is in the midst of another busy year. One federally-funded project has been completed and another is in progress, there have been personnel changes, and we continue to produce online collection guides describing available folklore documentation from our region.

In the Fall 2005 issue of this newsletter, CSUMC archivist Nicole Saylor reported on the beginnings of a new project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). The project’s goal was to survey documentation from publicly funded folklore projects in the Upper Midwest and identify issues affecting the preservation and accessibility of the documentation.

CSUMC staff identified 372 National Endowment for the Arts grants that had been distributed to 136 organizations. Over the next year, Saylor surveyed, through paper and online questionnaires and site visits, documentation from projects in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin, and the western region of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Working with the region’s folklorists, Saylor selected c. 50 key collections at 12 sites to visit and describe. Her final report to the NHPRC, "Survey of Public Folklore Collections in the Upper Midwest, 2005-2006," summarizing holdings at the sites visited and exploring the preservation and access issues, is now available from the CSUMC office and will be on the CSUMC website in the near future.

A second project is in progress during 2007. Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), this project is aimed at cementing the infrastructure that supports CSUMC’s archival activities. Activities such as installing and customizing software for collection guide mark-up and transmission, participating in the upgrade of the collection guide site to more current technology, updating the archives’ portion of the CSUMC website, putting the NHRPC report online, putting in order archival collections in CSUMC custody, and producing additional tools to help folklorists and archivists work together fall under this rubric.

At the end of the NHRPC project, Nicki Saylor left the CSUMC staff. She is now the head of Digital Library Services at the University of Iowa. For calendar year 2007, Karen Baumann is on the CSUMC staff part-time working on the infrastructure grant, assisted by graduate student Mary Hoefferle. Karen is an experienced archivist who retired in 2006 from the staff of the Wisconsin Historical Society. She had worked there since 1967 and specialized in cataloging and collection descriptions like those in the collection guides. Mary has an ongoing interest in folklore and is working on her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on art education. The archives activities for this phase are led by folklorist Janet C. Gilmore.

We also are working on additional collection guides, some from information gathered by Nicki Saylor during the previous project and some for materials in CSUMC’s possession. The published guides are at . All previous guides have been reviewed and augmented where necessary, one new guide is already on the site, and an update scheduled for October will include two more. An additional 15 are in progress and slated to be done by December when the project ends.

Finally, in July CSUMC hosted a visit by archivist Andy Kolovos of the Vermont Folklife Center. His visit was part of the Preserving America's Cultural Traditions' Grammy Foundation-funded survey of public folklore organization archives. Kolovos reviewed CSUMC's archival holdings, storage conditions, links with other archives, and projects.

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