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National Archives Innovation Hub, U.S. History, and You (2016 Feb. 10)


Welcome to the National Archives Welcome to the National Archives Know Your Records Program. My name is Andrea Bassing Matney. We are broadcasting live from the National Archives Building in Washington DC. We are so pleased that you have joined us today. Before we begin, there are a few tips I’d like to share with you. For those of you
watching online we will accept your questions and read them to the presenter
for you. We just ask that you use the chat feature on this webpage. You will
also find several hyperlinks to the presentation slides, a hand out, and live
captioning. For today’s presentation our presenter is Dina Herbert. She will
introduce the Innovation Hub and it’s exciting developments, explain how the
public can help us innovate and also scan federal documents to add to the
National Archives Catalog. Ms. Herbert is the coordinator for the Innovation Hub at
the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC. She was
previously the librarian for the Iraqi Jewish Archive Project at the National
Archives and has held positions at the Jewish Theological Seminary Library in
New York and the Johns Hopkins University SAIS Library in Washington
DC. Ms. Herbert has a B.A. in Ancient Studies from Columbia University and both a BA and an MA in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Semetic Languages from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She received her MLS from the
University of Maryland. She lives with her husband and young daughter in
Northern Virginia. And now for our presentation on National Archives
Innovation Hub, U.S. History, and You. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in
welcoming our presenter, Dina Herbert. Thanks. Ok we are on the first slide. Good afternoon, I’m Dina Herbert and I’m the coordinator of the Innovation Hub. I’ve been working in the
Hub for just about 11 months and we’ve been doing a lot in that time. So this is the
entrance to the Innovation Hub here at the National Archives in Washington DC. So
what is the mission of the Innovation Hub? We are a new project from the Office of
Innovation that is striving to work on innovative ways to move the agency
forward by working with the public and the staff. So what that boils down to is
many different projects and we’re primarily focusing on three of them in the first year that we’ve been open. The first is citizen scanning, the second is transcription and tagging, and our third is a Wikipedia
pop-up exhibit and Wikipedia editing. So those are the three main things that I’m
going to be talking about with you today. The first is our Citizen Scanning
Project. Citizens like yourselves can come to the National Archives in DC and
scan records to upload to our catalog. We can also in the space accommodate events like scanathons if we wanted. And hopefully we’re going to be planning
some of the future. Our scanning room is a research room. It is monitored by research services staff and follows the exact same policies as all research rooms within all National Archives buildings. So,
no food, no drink, no bags are allowed in the space and so on. You do also need a researcher card to
enter the space. The same as you would for any of the other research rooms throughout the Archives. So, why are we doing this scanning project? We are striving to make
access happen. In the summer of 2014, in Prologue, the Archivist of the United
States David Ferriero had wrote: the National Archives’ commitment to
open government is clear in our mission. We drive drive openness, cultivate public
participation, and strengthen our nation’s democracy through public access to high-value records. In the 21st century, access means digital access. For many, if a record isn’t online it simply doesn’t exist. So we are scanning to make
access happen which is one of our four strategic goals. We are innovating the
way that we are moving the agency forward through this digitization project. And
this is just one of many digitization projects that we have at the Archives. We
still have our digitization labs. We are still working with partners like
Ancestry and FamilySearch and we’re just starting to work on other opportunities
with citizen scanners. So our Citizen Scanning Project. We’re asking
researchers to commit to at least a file’s worth of material, rather than
individual items. And the reason we’re doing this is it’s better for a catalog
upload. Doing an item by item upload would just, we just don’t have the staff
time for it and it would make our catalog a little disjointed. If we can
have one complete file unit up there that our citizens have scanned, it makes
for a much easier, searchable, much easier and searchable experience. So we are also
encouraging, so researchers can take home a copy of the scans immediately and we will add a copy of the images to
our catalog. So if you’re joining us in The Hub, we hope that you bring a USB or
you can email documents to yourself emailed the JPEGs that you’ve scanned to yourself. We have 12 scanners for citizen archivists to use, including two
overhead Zeutschel scanners which can accommodate things that cannot, documents that cannot be put flat down on a scanner. And this is a new way to connect with
our researchers and it helps us put our collection online. You also get the
bragging rights to all of your friends and family that what you have
scanned is now accessible worldwide and for everybody on our catalog, you can go
home and download PDF after its put online, share with your family and
friends at holidays, and then be a part of us, part of our joint effort and
our catalog. Also remember that this is free, you don’t have to bring in your
own scanner, you don’t have to take photos with your camera or your cell
phone. You don’t have to pay for xerox copies, you can use our
equipment for free. So what have we done so far? We have been pretty busy since we
opened in July of 2015 so just about seven months ago, we have scanned a total of 28,000 pages from 1500 files. These were documents that were previously not
scanned, not available online, only available here in DC. So if you’re
joining us on YouTube wherever you are you can now access most of these records. We are currently scanning a small number of series we’re only scanning compiled
military service records, pension files, bounty land files, and carded medical
records. So we’re just getting our feet wet since
we’ve opened, these are nice, easy files to find files there are not as many
preservation issues, they are pretty heavily requested for
genealogists and other researchers. So we want to get a handle on what we’re
doing and hopefully in the near future we are going to open it up to more material, so stay tuned for that. We also have what we’re calling the “Box of the Month,” so each
month we have several ready to go boxes for you to join us and scan. Let’s say you are down in DC, and you don’t know what you’re interested in scanning but you do
want to be part of the National Archives catalog, you do want to help scan and put
material online, or you’re here waiting for a pull at the research rooms. Maybe
you’re a federal employee working downtown or another employee working downtown and you’re here on your lunch break and are just excited to be a part of our history. We have ready to go material and you don’t necessarily even
have to commit to an entire file. You can start something and somebody else will
finish it for you which is not the case when you do your regular research and
scanning. Right now we’re working on Compiled Military Service Records from
the War of 1812, and we’ve put a fair number online already and we have a lot to go. The files are short, they’re easy, they’re fun to do, so if you’re just curious
about scanning if you want to get your feet wet also, the Box of the Month is an
excellent place to start and we’re hoping to continue rotating
through more of the Compiled Military Service Records from 1812 and other
document boxes and other files as we continue to add more series to the
Innovation Hub. So, what have we found so far? We found
some pretty interesting documents. The first is, we have found, this was just a
few weeks ago by staff member here at the National Archives. A tintype was
found in a pension file for Randall Nash from Record Group 15, and on our one of our National Archives blog for Rediscovering Black History, our
staff member did a post on this. Randall Nash’s unit was first designated as the fourth Regiment Colored Infantry of
Missouri volunteers, and was soon renamed to the 68th United States
Colored Troops infantry. So his pension file with actually listed under Randall Talbot, which was an alias. The tintype was used to identify him because no one knew Nash
by any other name in his infantry unit. The use of aliases make it difficult
for surviving family members to collect pensions when they’re filing these files
with the government. In several cases former enslaved black men who served
during the Civil War would use an alias to prevent recapture, or take on a
free name. And so this was written up by our staff member Jessie for the blog
post and it shows you the kind of stuff that we can find in the National
Archives records, and what we’re finding in the Hub. The picture found for
William Strong from Record Group 94 was also found. This was in a compiled military service record, this was from the first file scanned in the Hub. Finding photographs is always fun. They’re also letters that are found These are two letters from
Christopher Columbus from also the 68th US Colored Troops Infantry Regiment to his
wife. We’ll often in the pension files find letters to identify the connection from the pension requester, so these were love letters it’s sort of
hard to read, I had to shrink down the images. I promise online the images are much clearer, but they’re these lovely love letters, and we found a few
of these so there’s a lot of opportunities to find some fun
stuff when you’re scanning in the Hub. So, who should be using the Innovation Hub scanning room here at the Archives? We encourage all researchers who are in
DC and interested in free scanning. Remember, this is free. You don’t have to
bring anything, you don’t have to pay for your copies. I will give the caveat again
that you have to you at least do a file’s worth of material and understand that our
scanners are not super fast. This isn’t like pulling out your smartphone and
taking, click click click click click. The tradeoff though is the images you
take on your smartphone are pretty crummy when you look at them later. Your camera might be good but our
scanners are better. So the images are going to be crisp and clear, and that’s because we’re adding them to the Catalog. We’re not putting it in crummy photos, we’re putting in really high quality photos for other researchers to
download and be able to really look at high quality JPEG image. So
if you’re interested in contributing to our catalog and you’re working
through some of these series that we’re working on now, this is a great
opportunity for you. Anyone can also come and contribute to
the Box of the Month and again we hope to bring in more groups, more series into
the Hub soon so just, we’ll keep you all updated when we start bringing in more. Right now we are physically located here in Washington DC, which means that
unless you are physically here you cannot use this aspect of the Hub. Perhaps in the future we’ll be able to roll out more innovative ways throughout
the National Archives throughout the country to work on more opportunities for citizen scanning. So we’ll see how this project goes and see
what we do in the future. We also have we have the scanning room and we also
have a meeting area, which is where we do some of our other projects like tagging and transcription and Wikipedia and other things which I’m
going to talk about. So we have a meeting area which is intended for the staff and the public to host events. This isn’t just a regular old conference room
this is a way to look at what we’re doing our records and why we’re doing it
and think of innovative cutting-edge ways to engage with our customers and
engage with our records. We also encourage people to come and tag and transcribe. We have wifi, we have our own separate wifi from the research room so
you can come and use our bandwidth and tag and transcribe records, and edit Wikipedia articles and so on. So
what have we done in the meeting space. We’ve had a whole bunch of different
types of events and just a couple of them, we’ve had a Wikipedia editathon, which I’ll talk about in a little bit, we have had SNAC, which is Social Networks and Archival Context, a cooperative program hosted by NARA we
had their kickoff meeting, and these are just some images from the meeting that
we had. During the Wikimedia conference in October of 2015 we had the
Hub open as a hacking space, we’ve had meetings with Wikipedia and government
and other organizations have come other collaborations, we’ve had meetings
with Google Cultural Institute and the History Hub and other projects that
we’re working on the Office of Innovation. And what is on the horizon? We have a
couple of exciting things. DPLA, the Digital Public Library of America, is
going to be hosting their DPLAfest here in Washington DC. The National
Archives is one of the locations where we’re going to be having some sessions
and those sessions are going to be held in the Innovation Hub. We’re working with
GenFed, which was formerly the National Institute of Genealogical Research (NIGER), and they’re going to be holding their annual conference here in the Hub in the summer and
everybody take out your pens and pencils and mark your calendars or pull out your
smartphone calendars, Friday, March 11 we’re having another Wikipedia editathon and
Friday, April 8th we’re having our first transcribathon, which is a perfect
segue to talk about tagging and transcription. So why are we tagging
and transcribing our records? Tags and transcription are indexed on the catalog
and it makes things more searchable it allows us to interact both ways both
researchers can interact with our records and our records can interact
with researchers and connect with researchers in a
different way than just a static piece of paper or electronic email. It’s part of
our strategic goal again to Make Access Happen, to Connect With Customers.
Again, in the Hub we have two public PCs available that are earmarked just for
tagging and transcription. Again, April 8 we’re planning our first transcribathon. And this is not only going to be in person we’re also going
to be having the virtual transcribathon happen at the same time so I’m just
starting to work on the plans for that so stay tuned for more. I hope this is
not the first time you’re seeing our this part of our catalog for tagging in
transcription, let me pull up the mouse so I can can sort of show you. Over here with
this first you can see over here that much of this has been tagged and
transcribed these little blue arrows show what has been tagged and
transcribed and you can always click on them, and when you’re ready to view or
add contributions you select this. You do need to log in to the catalog but
creating a log-in is free, it’s easy, it’s pretty quick. So the next page you’d see for
tagging and transcription is this and you go ahead and select either a tag or
you can select transcribe you go ahead and you’d edit and then you can
add in you can add your transcription you’re gonna be prompted to save your
work which you should do often and there’s a lot of ways to improve, if
something is already been transcribed you can go ahead and double-check, we
have no we had to make sure that things are are spelled correctly and that there
is because there’s so much handwriting which is one of the reasons we need to
do transcription we can’t catalog, we can’t, these things are handwriting isn’t
machine-readable so if you want to make it searchable you have to transcribe it
things that are typed are often machine readable but anything handwritten which
is a big part of our records, you do need to transcribe and for many people certain cursive is difficult to read, certain handwritings are difficult to read so if you’re a really good handwriting
expert go ahead and check out some of these. People leave question marks where
they don’t know what it says, so go ahead and add in what you see and help make our catalog better and more people can find the records that they need. So
this is our Wikipedia space in the Innovation Hub. We’re continuing our
collaboration with Wikipedia here at the Archives and the Wikipedia space is a
physical learning space intended to promote understanding of Wikipedia and
Wikimedia projects and cultural institutions. So this installation, the Innovation Hub installation is the first prototype of a project developed
by Professor Andrew Leh of American University and he received funding for
this from the Knight Foundation. We’re hosting it as part of our
Wikipedia engagement, we’re hoping that the pilot is being
staged in the Hub in the hope that it that experiencers at the National Archives
site can help creators understand how what this prototype can do and how it can be replicated in other spaces like libraries and archives and
museums, universities, classrooms and so on to spread digital literacy of public
information. So the Wikipedia collaboration we have, the Archives has hosted several
editathons for Wikipedia we had our first a editahon in the Innovation Hub in December we had 26 participants on a Friday which we were pretty excited about for our first event, and we
made 68 edits to 45 Wikipedia articles, so we’re
hoping to do these pretty frequently. The next one is going to be again Friday
March 11 and our topic is going to be Women in the Military for Women’s History
Month. And again you don’t have to be in DC to participate in these events
there are plenty of opportunities to participate virtually and what we’ll
probably be doing when we have any speakers or you know topics of
conversation is doing either a Google Hangout or Google Chat so that anybody
anywhere can participate. This is our website, again please take out your
pens and write down or copy this copy this URL down archives [dot] gov
[slash] innovation [dash] hub. And you can keep apprised of what we’re doing there’s a great video produced by the
staff here about Wikipedia and the Wikipedia edithon that we did and our
connection and our collaboration with Wikipedia. You can find out about events
and other projects that are going on in the Hub through our website. So what can you do
for us? And I just want to start by apologizing I just noticed this image was not the one that I wanted if you are local and in DC
come stop by and see Miss USA. This is the original poster and we got
our staff here to sort of play with it a little bit make a little fun and it says
“Innovation waits at your fingertips, keep ’em innovating Miss USA.” So please
stop by and see our Miss Innovation in the Hub because she is going to inspire you to
do lots of great things in the Innovation Hub and throughout the
Archives. So stop by to scan, to transcribe, to tag
and again except for the scanning everything we’re doing is virtual so you
don’t have to be in DC to participate in the Innovation Hub. Our hours for the
physical location though are Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, our scanning room has slightly different hours, we are open from 10 to 5 everyday except
Wednesday when we’re open from 1 to 5. And we do that to process the scans
that you’re producing. We have some other partnerships that we’re working on one and we just started a partnership with a DC organization
called Latino Tech, which is a community for coders in the DC-area, for Latino coders in the DC-area and we’re just starting a partnership with
them to work on some hacking of our records and other ways that they can
help us innovate around our records and our processes. If you have any ideas we’d
love to hear them. This is how this is how we innovate by talking to talking to
our researchers talking to our staff talking to the users of the archives and
figuring out great ways that we can work together so connect with me, stop by, and
you can reach me at InnovationHub [at] NARA [dot] gov, on social media you can follow our hashtag #ArchivesInnovHub and there’s so many possibilities that
I’m excited to work with everybody for both people who are located in the DC area and our partners throughout the country. So thank you very much and
I’ll be happy to take any questions. Thank you again for those of us watching
online you can now submit your questions to us via the chat feature on YouTube. I invite anybody here in the room with us to make their way down to the
microphones in the aisles and that way we can capture your question and everyone else
can hear it. And it looks like we do have a question in the room. Yes thank you for
the presentation. You said you were inspired by Ancestry and FamilySearch
cause I know they have the public help them to digitize some of their records. What are you working with them or you just inspired by them?>>If I used the word
inspired that was not the right word We are continuing our partnerships
with Ancestry and FamilySearch. This is just a different avenue for
digitization so we have all of these different ways to get records online. We
have our digitization department and labs in the Archives we have our
partnerships with FamilySearch and Ancestry and now we’re looking at new
ways for citizens to become partners with us. So we’re continuing, we are not stepping on their toes, we we are working working in parallel with them. We’re not ending our partnership by
any means we’re you know continuing to just get more material online. So there might be a possibility that we can do some of the work and the Hub or with other, as just a space for Ancestry or FamilySearch but others in the Office of Innovation would know more about those possibilities. We’re just another parallel avenue for digitization. And how do you decide which files to scan is it everything in the Archives or just certain files?>>Again we’re just
starting with certain series of these Compiled Military Service Records, pension files, bounty land records, and
carded medical records. These are pretty heavily requested items. Many
genealogists use them for finding their family history. Because we are asking researchers to commit to at least a files worth of
material, these were a very good way a good group of series to start
with. The files are pretty easily defined So usually an envelope is a file or a group
of carded medical records are a file and in other series the file can
be a little squidgier, so this was a good way to start with that. Things that have been digitized are not being brought down to the Hub, or things that
partner projects are going to be digitizing from the series are not being
brought down to the Hub because we have these agreements with the partner
projects. When a researcher comes to the National Archives and they were request their
material, if it’s from these series, members of the Research Services staff will say, do
you want to look at them in our Research Room, or do you want to go down to the Hub and scan them? Or a researcher can say I’m interested in these three pension files from my
ancestors, can I scan them in the Hub? And the answer is going to be probably yes. So that’s how we’re getting records down to the Hub and our Box of the Month are just sort of ready to go in the Hub.>>Thank you.>>Thanks.>>Thank you so much Dina, that was great answers. I’m going to step up here with you It looks like we don’t have any questions
from our online audience. Thank you for participating. You mentioned several
editathons coming up, so if you have any questions that you didn’t get
to ask I encourage you to use the email address you provided InnovationHub [at] NARA [dot] gov. I’d also like to put in a plug for one of our co-workers are one of our upcoming
programs on March 29th is Updates to the National Archives with Jason Clingerman who works here as an Archives Specialist and he’ll demonstrate recent updates to National Archives catalog and how can use it to further your research
using that online too. So again that’s March 29th Thank you so much, are there any other
questions before we end our program? I just thought of one for you. Are there any age requirements for people who come into the Innovation Hub?>>So the only age requirement is the same age requirement as the research firms which
I believe you have to be 14 years old to get a researcher card so if you’re
planning on doing scanning would need to meet that requirement we haven’t thought about other age requirement so I think anybody is
welcome if you’re under 14 and are interested in coming down to our space
for tagging and transportation we can probably accommodate you. But you do
have to be over 14, 14 and over to scan.>>Okay thank you very much. So this
concludes today’s Know your Records Program. Thank you for attending again
this program will remain online on YouTube along with the presentation
slides, the hand out and soon have the transcript available as well. Thank you
for attending.>>Thank you

Stephen Childs

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