The famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass never knew his birth date, but he choose to celebrate it on February 14th. This year will mark his 200th birthday, and we invite you to commemorate the occasion by reading his works at the library:
In honor of the bicentennial of Douglass’s birth, the digital humanities Colored Conventions Project (CCP) will host a Douglass Day transcribe-a-thon, in which participants from all over the country can help transcribe the Freedmen’s Bureau Papers, documents that provide insight into the lives of recently freed people. The event will be hosted in conjunction with the Smithsonian Transcription Center and the National Museum of African American Culture. Join them from 9am to 12pm PST to help celebrate and memorialize African American history!
The world of firefighting is much more than masked people in uniforms running into burning buildings and rescuing scared cats from trees. While the bravery of firefighters can’t be overestimated, they also work in a complex system that requires constant training and education, a cohesive partnership with local government, extensive procedures and protocols, managerial oversight, effective communication within departments and to the public, acute familiarity with the local and regional environment, and a whole lot of administrative work. The San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) is a shining example of how people make a civil service operation run and keep people safe. All of these elements, as well as the historic and cultural aspects of the department, are why we chose it as our focus for our California Fire Departments Oral History Project.
The project was originally conceived by Sarah Wheelock, an independent researcher. She wanted to explore several major thematic areas of firefighting in California and she worked with the Oral History Center to do just that. With great sadness we learned that Sarah passed away in 2014 and thus she was unable to see the project through to completion. Taking over the project in 2016, I wanted to honor her original plan and cover the themes that she had outlined. So, I decided to embark on interviews within one department – the SFFD – to document the ways in which they have handled urban fire, climate change, diversity, technological change, and changing demographics.
The SFFD was founded in 1849 and was run by volunteers. It became a paid department, officially integrated into city government, in 1866. The 150th anniversary of the paid department was in 2016, when I was conducting interviews. Given my budget for the project, I was able to interview six people who worked with the SFFD in different capacities. I wanted to include multiple perspectives to understand the organizational, cultural, geographic, economic, and political systems of one of the oldest departments in the country.
The individuals who I interviewed were able to illustrate many of the themes that I wanted to document, and much more. Among the six people I interviewed were Chief Robert Demmons (the first and only African American chief of the SFFD who instrumental in integrating more more women and people of color into the SFFD), Bill Koenig (longtime firefighter and co-founder of Guardians of the City and the SFFD Museum), Jim Lee (also a longtime firefighter and co-founder of Guardians of the City and the SFFD Museum), Steve Nakajo (member of the SFFD Fire Commission), Lt. Anne Young (one of the first females hired), and Jonathan Baxter (longtime paramedic and current Public Information Officer).
These interviews work in concert to illustrate day-to-day operations in the stations, administrative duties, how the city of San Francisco and the department work together, the relationship between paramedics and the department, training, equipment, fire science school, the role of unions, the challenges and triumphs of integrating the departments, the public perception of the department, the role of innovation and changing technology, cultural changes in the department, challenges in fire safety particular to the geography of San Francisco, and the hopes for the future of the SFFD.
It is with great excitement that we present the California / San Francisco Fire Departments Oral History Project. I want to give a special thanks to all of the narrators for sharing their stories with me and helping me to document one of the most historically significant fire departments in our country.
This project is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Wheelock. Her California Firefighter oral histories from the 2000s will be released in early 2018.
CFP deadline December 1, 2017.
A one-week training workshop (March 25-31, 2018) at UCSC on photogrammetry for early-stage graduate students. Participants in this workshop will gain intensive hands-on experience in the techniques and processing workflow for photogrammetric recording for cultural heritage projects, presented within the context of a critical engagement in discussions of the politics of digital knowledge production. Click here for more information: ARC Photogrammetry Workshop Call UCSC.
CFP deadline January 19, 2018.
Scholars from a wide range of fields are invited to submit proposals for research projects investigating Ed Ruscha’s “Streets of Los Angeles” archive—including, but not limited to digital humanities, cultural geography, architecture, art history, photography, and visual culture. Interdisciplinary approaches and team-based projects are particularly encouraged. Selected researchers would collaborate with Getty Research Institute (GRI) staff as part of a larger research-technology project, which seeks to digitize and make publicly-accessible a portion of the archive in innovative ways. The goal is to publish resulting scholarship at the close of the project. For more details, click here.
CFP deadline Janurary 5, 2018.
This Getty Foundation supported workshop will support interdisciplinary teams focused on the hard questions of Digital Art History as a discipline, a set of methods, and a host of technical and institutional challenges and opportunities.
Participants will gather from June 4-16, 2018 in Venice, Italy at Venice International University, with follow-up activities taking place over the course of the 2018-19 academic year, and leading into a follow-on gathering in Summer of 2019 that will operate as a writing and digital publication workshop, building upon work done over the course of the year by the project teams and in collaboration with our wider network.
CFP deadline January 16, 2018.
Digital Humanities Advancement Grants (DHAG) support digital projects throughout their lifecycles, from early start-up phases through implementation and long-term sustainability. Experimentation, reuse, and extensibility are hallmarks of this grant category, leading to innovative work that can scale to enhance research, teaching, and public programming in the humanities.
This program is offered twice per year. Proposals are welcome for digital initiatives in any area of the humanities.
- Demystifying HathiTrust metadata
- Fair use, copyright, and non-consumptive research
- HathiTrust development, news, and updates
- Digital pedagogy and text analysis curricula
- Scholarly tools and methods for text analysis
- Corpus creation
- Early registration price of $100 through November 29, 2017.
- Standard price of $150 begins on November 30, 2017.
Whether you are looking to create a companion website for your book or a full-scale digital project, this workshop series is designed to get you up and running with the user-friendly, open source web publishing platforms Scalar, WordPress, Omeka and Drupal.
- All platforms are easily managed right through your web browser.
- No programming or coding knowledge is required.
- Options for hosting will be covered.
- Technology workshops will be hands-on; bring a laptop if you can.
This series is designed for faculty, graduate students, and staff in the Humanities and Social Sciences and is open to any member of the UC Berkeley community. Register at bit.ly/dp-berk
WordPress for Easy and Attractive Websites
Thursday, April 20, 4-5pm
Academic Innovation Studio, Dwinelle Hall 117 (Level D)
In this hands-on workshop, we will learn the basics of creating a WordPress site, a web-based platform good for blogs, scholarly portfolios, and websites. By the end of the workshop, you will know how to post content, embed images and video, customize themes and appearance, and work with plugins.
Omeka for Digital Collections and Exhibits
Wednesday, April 26, 1-2pm
D-Lab, 350 Barrows Hall
Omeka is ideal for creating and displaying an online collection or exhibit composed of many digital items. If you have a bunch of digital images, scans, and files around a certain theme or project, and you would like to organize, describe, and showcase these files, Omeka may be a good fit for you. In this hands-on workshop, we will learn how to add and describe items in Omeka, the basics of the Dublin Core metadata schema, and how to create webpages with the Simple Pages plugin.
Copyright and Fair Use for Digital Projects
Thursday, April 27, 11-12noon
D-Lab, 350 Barrows Hall
This training will help you navigate the copyright, fair use, and usage rights of including third-party content in your digital project. Whether you seek to embed video from other sources for analysis, post material you scanned from a visit to the archives, add images, upload documents, or more, understanding the basics of copyright and discovering a workflow for answering copyright-related digital scholarship questions will make you more confident in your publication. We will also provide an overview of your intellectual property rights as a creator and ways to license your own work.
Designing in Drupal
Friday, April 28, 11-12noon
Academic Innovation Studio, Dwinelle Hall 117 (Level D)
Drupal is a powerful open source content management system that provides a flexible platform for developing web-based digital research projects. This workshop will cover the basics of how Drupal works, how you can create templates for storing your research materials, and how you can organize, display, and analyze those materials. Drupal is a good choice for many kinds of projects, including websites and projects underpinned by a database.
Scalar for Multimedia Digital Projects
Tuesday, May 2, 5-6pm
Berkeley Center for New Media Commons, 340 Moffitt
Developed by the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture, Scalar is a web platform designed especially for multimedia digital projects and for multimedia academic texts. Like WordPress, it is easy to create content, but it is distinguished by multiple ways of navigating through a project, annotation and metadata features, and image and video options. Choose it to develop born digital projects and books, or as a companion site for traditional scholarship. In this hands-on workshop, we’ll learn how to create a Scalar project, create pages and media, add metadata and annotations, and define paths.
Register at bit.ly/dp-berk
A collection of digitized texts marks the start of a research project — or does it?
For many social sciences and humanities researchers, creating searchable, editable, and machine-readable digital texts out of heaps of paper in archival boxes or from books painstakingly sourced from overlooked corners of the library can be a tedious, time-consuming process.
Scholars using traditional methodologies may find it advantageous to have a digital copy of their source material, if only to be able to more easily search through it. For anyone who wants to use computational methods and tools, converting print sources to digital text is a prerequisite. The process of converting an image of scanned text to digital text involves Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. New developments in campus services are providing additional options for researchers who wish to prepare their texts this way.
What resources does UC Berkeley offer to convert scans to digital text?
- For basic needs, try the Library’s scanners.
- For documents with complex layouts or for additional language support, ABBYY FineReader with Berkeley’s OCR virtual desktop is a solution.
- Finally, Tesseract can handle large scale OCR projects.
Books and simple documents: library scanners with OCR software
All of the UC Berkeley libraries, including the Main (Gardner) Stacks, have at least one Scannx scanner station with built-in OCR software. This software automatically identifies and splits apart pages when you’re scanning a book, and it performs OCR on any text it can identify. You can save your results as a “Searchable PDF” (with embedded OCR output) or as a Microsoft Word document, or you can save page images as TIFF, JPEG, or PDF files (omitting digitized text). For book scanning or simple document scanning, the library scanners can take you from analog to digital in a single step.
Complex layouts or language support: ABBYY FineReader and Berkeley Research Computing’s OCR virtual desktop
If your source material has a complex layout (like irregular columns, embedded images, and/or tables that you want to continue to edit as tables) or uses a non-Latin alphabet, ABBYY FineReader OCR may get you better OCR results. FineReader supports Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, and Thai, among other languages.
On campus, FineReader is available on computers in the D-Lab (350 Barrows). From off campus, the OCR virtual research desktop provided through Berkeley Research Computing’s AEoD service (Analytic Environments on Demand, pronounced “A-odd”) allows users to log into a virtual Windows environment from their own laptop or desktop computer anywhere there’s an internet connection. If you’re visiting an archive and aren’t sure that your image capture setup is getting good enough results to use as OCR input, you can log into the OCR virtual research desktop and try out a couple samples, then refine your process as needed. You can also work on your OCR project from home, or on nights and weekends when campus buildings are closed. To use the OCR virtual research desktop, sign up for access at http://research-it.berkeley.edu/ocr.
FineReader is not generally recommended for very large numbers of PDFs because each conversion must be started by hand. However, if you don’t need to differentiate the origin of your various source PDFs (e.g., if your text analysis will treat all text as part of a single corpus, and it doesn’t matter which of the million PDFs any particular bit of text originally came from), you might be able to use FineReader by creating one or more “mega-PDFs” that combine tens or hundreds of source PDFs and letting it run over a long period of time. At a certain point, however, Tesseract might be a better choice.
OCR at scale: Tesseract on the Savio high-performance compute cluster
If you have thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of PDFs to OCR, a high-powered, automated solution is usually best. One such option is the open source OCR engine Tesseract. Research IT has installed Tesseract in a container that you can use on the Savio high performance computing (HPC) cluster. For researchers who are less comfortable with the command line, there is also a Jupyter notebook available that provides the necessary commands and “human-readable” documentation, in a form that you can run on the cluster. Any tenure-track faculty member is eligible for a Faculty Computing Allowance for using Savio. For graduate students, talk to your advisor about signing up for an allowance and receiving access.
No matter how large or small your OCR project is, UC Berkeley has the perfect tool for you in scanning equipment, ABBYY FineReader, or Tesseract. Happy converting!
Related Event: From Sources to Data: Using OCR in the Classroom
March 16, 2017
10:30am to 12:00pm
Open to: All faculty, graduate students, and staff
Quinn Dombrowski, Research IT quinnd [at] berkeley.edu
Online since 1997, Gallica remains one of the major digital libraries available for free on the Internet. With more than 12 million high-resolution digital objects from the collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF) as well as from hundreds of partner institutions, it includes books, journals, newspapers, manuscripts, maps, images, audio files, and more. The illustration above “Ça, mon enfant, c’est du pain.. [That, my child, is bread…]” by Fernand-Louis Gottlob was published in one of the first issues of the weekly satirical magazine L’Assiette au beurre (1901-1936) which is also held in print at UC Berkeley. Committed to the ever-evolving needs of its user community, Gallica’s social media outlets include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and even a BnF app.
Text mining, the process of computationally analyzing large swaths of natural language texts, can illuminate patterns and trends in literature, journalism, and other forms of textual culture that are sometimes discernible only at scale, and it’s an important digital humanities method. If text mining interests you, then finding the right tool — whether you turn to an entry-level system like Voyant or master a programming language like Python — is only a part of the solution. Your analyses are only as strong as the texts you’re working with, after all, and finding authoritative text corpora can sometimes be difficult due to paywalls and licensing restrictions. The good news is the UC Berkeley Libraries offer a range of text corpora for you to analyze, and we can help you get your hands on things we don’t already have access to.
The first step in your exploration should be the library’s Text Mining Guide, which lists text corpora that are either publicly accessible (e.g., the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America newspaper collection) or are available to UCB faculty, students, and staff (e.g., JSTOR Data for Research). The content of these sources are available in a variety of formats: you may be able to download the texts in bulk, use an API, or make use of a content provider’s in-platform tools. In other cases (e.g., ProQuest Historical Newspapers), the library may be able to arrange access upon request. While the scope of the corpora we have access to is wide, we are particularly strong in newspaper collections, pre-20th century English literature collections, and scholarly texts.
What happens if the library doesn’t have what you need? We regularly facilitate the acquisition of text corpora upon request, and you can always email your subject librarian with specific requests or questions. The library will deal with licensing questions so you don’t have to, and we’ll work with you to figure out the best way to make the texts available for your work, often with the help of our friends in the D-Lab or Research IT . We also offer the Data Acquisition and Access Program to provide special funding for one-time data set purchases, including text corpora. Your requests and suggestions help the library develop our collection, making text mining easier for the next researcher who comes along.
- Unless explicitly stated, our contracts for most Library databases and library resources (e.g., Scopus, Project MUSE) don’t allow for bulk download. Please avoid web scraping licensed library resources on your own: content providers realize what is happening pretty quickly, and they react by shutting down access for our entire campus. Ask your subject librarian for help instead.
- Keep in mind that many of the vendors themselves are limited in how, and how much access, they can provide to a particular resource, based on their own contractual agreements. It’s not uncommon for specific contemporary newspapers and journals to be unavailable for analysis at scale, even when library funding for access may be available.
- Library Text Mining Guide
- Library Data Acquisition and Access Program
- D-Lab Computational Text Analysis Working Group
- D-Lab Learn Python Working Group
Stacy Reardon and Cody Hennesy
Contact us at sreardon [at] berkeley.edu; chennesy [at] berkeley.edu
Opening the Conversation About DH Project Preservation
By Rachael G. Samberg & Stacy Reardon
After intensive research, hard work, and maybe even fundraising, you launch your digital humanities (DH) project into the world. Researchers anywhere have instant access to your web app, digital archive, data set, or project website. But what will happen to your scholarly output in five years? In twenty-five? What happens if you change institutions, or institutional priorities shift? Will your digital project be updated or forced to close up shop? Who should ensure that your project remains available to researchers? Which departments should guide long-term sustainability of your research? Continue reading “Digital Humanities for Tomorrow”