Posts Tagged ‘archive’

Imagine having access to every textile with a simple click of your mouse.  In today’s, world accessibility is a must – correction, digital accessibility is a must.  Recently, I attended the “Fashion: Now & Then” Conference at LIM College.  During the conference, presenters and academics shared their research findings related to fashion studies and history.  Many of the topics were similar, but one in particular stood out to me based on its relevance to our course.


When beginning any research assignment an individual usually starts off with a general search.  This search could be in the physical campus library or at home via their laptop. I always begin at my laptop.  I brew a cup of hot tea; throw my hair into a messy bun, fire up my laptop and get down to business.  Unfortunately, some types of research need a hands-on approach. You must go out into the public to find and work with primary sources.  I am a bit of a research romantic.  I enjoy handling treasures from the past. I also find myself appreciating the “non-hassle” research style of the Internet.  I believe that for certain research is it necessary to work with materials in person.

Research data bases and Online Archives such as Textile Hive challenge this ideal.  Many fashion designers and researchers find inspiration from the past or world around them.  Textile Hive is an example of an integrated archival collection.  An integrated archival collection starts as a physical or digital collection and then makes a transition to encompass both the physical and digital collections characteristics.  The Textile Hive boasts that its interface provides clear search, discovery and exploration experiences for its users.  I find it difficult to believe a digital format can provide the same rich experience as visiting a physical archive. I do believe that Textile Hive fills a gap in making more textile collections accessible.  Also, sometimes a physical archive must shut its doors.  A digital archive provides a secondary outlet. It allows an archive or collection to continue.  It is important to keep collections connected to people and to other collections.


Textile Hive began in 2009 when Caleb Sayan digitized the contents of the Andrea Aranow Textile Design Collection with the hopes to reach a more extensive audience.  Textile Hive’s ultimate goal is “to find a permanent home for the physical and digital collection with an educational institution, cultural organization, or other partnership to ensure that the collection be utilized, built upon, and preserved for future generations” (http://textilehive.com/pages/the-project).  Since I am studying to become an archivist, I appreciate their goal. I appreciate their goal because it focuses both on the physical and digital collection.

One of my favorite features of Textile Hive is their search capabilities.  According to Sayan, there are over 18 different ways an individual can search their site.  As a former teacher, I like that this site caters to various learners and allows for different search techniques.  For example, you can search by: technique, material, condition, pattern, embellishment, and gender, object type, etc.  Another cool feature is that you can compare two searches on the same screen.  This feature would definitely come in handy for anyone pursuing an assignment about cultural studies.


Besides providing a digitized image, Textile Hive also provides the necessary metadata and various informational videos. The videos explore topics like the historical context of the textile.  I was impressed with the amount of visual exploration tools. Visual archiving will continue to grow as a means to promote the digital nature of today.

Fashion and textile studies can provide powerful insight into culture, gender, political studies and much more.  I found the “Fashion: Now & Then” conference to be inspirational as I continue to gather research about Mid 80s Fashion here in the East Village, NYC.  There is much more to fashion studies than meets the eye.

Please explore Textile Hive to learn more:  http://textilehive.com/

Images are from http://textilehive.com/ and my personal Instagram


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The burning of the Library of Alexandria has been one of the biggest catastrophes in archival history, being that it was the largest depository of documents and materials preserving the ancient world. In today’s media based society many worry that a simple glitch in technology or the outdating of a hardware/software system could have similar consequences. Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archives, argues that the very medium of media could actually be its saving grace.

In 1996 Kahle initiated what is now a 10 petabyte operation in the pursuit of “Universal access to all knowledge.”  Based primarily out of California, the Internet Archives relies on a host of web crawlers to continually scan the World Wide Web and collect websites, television shows, articles, and other more obscure sources of information that may one day inform its viewers.  A large part of the Internet Archives are collecting and scanning the millions of physical books to make them largely accessible to the public, the basis of their Open Library. The TV news section allows you to search their archive of television reports by keywords and date range.

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Kahle argues that by allowing the information collected in the archives to be freely accessible, they are in return extending the life expectancy of the material. He posits that it creates an active process of keeping information in use, cared for, and constantly updated. That interest in the materials will allocate interest in its preservation and reformatting. With daily visits by its users averaging at about 500,000, he has the interest to test his theory.

The mission of The Internet Archive is to prevent the destruction of knowledge through incidents such as fire destruction that hit the Library of Alexandria, as well as our own Library of Congress. It is argued that because the Internet Archive shares and duplicates its collection with other institutions, in other counties and political climates, the materials are less likely to be completely destroyed. This holds true for the suspicious that believe the fires were acts of political rebellion as well as those who simply think accidents happen. By creating multi-hosts of the archives they generate and preserve, the authority over their collection, distribution, and destruction becomes more democratized.

I am finding that the Internet Archive is very useful for finding more ‘mundane’ sources that might not be considered worthy of archiving by other institutions. The Wayback Machine is a unique program that lets you see webpages that are no longer existent, or more dated versions. They also have a large collection of videos and audio files that are licensed under creative commons or free access. There is also the Internet Memory Foundation which shares similar ideals and practices.

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Some of the difficulties lie in the fundamental nature of the archive itself, however. It is sometimes hard to sort through the large collection to find a specific material. One of the largest debates about archiving social media, for instance, is what is worth saving. While the Internet Archive take a more liberal stance on the issue, it creates bulk.

There is also the issue of copyright laws prohibiting the collection of certain materials. The Internet Archive allows any user to contact them if they believe their materials have been unlawfully obtained and posted to their site. This limits the material the Archives can distribute. It also, however, takes some of the work out of finding the material yourself and searching for copyright clearance. Knowing that it was posted on the site, gives more confidence that the material may be used again given the sites allegiance to free press.

To learn more, here is a great documentary about the Internet Archives:

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Having trouble finding archives that have the materials you need? ArchiveGrid is a great tool to use if you do not know where to begin your search! It is a free resource that allows the user access to information about different collections and finding aids that any of the participating archives have.

ArchiveGrid Homepage

ArchiveGrid became a free website in 2012, allowing researchers to use its database without subscribing to it, like it had done in the past.  The database contains over two million searchable archival collections. According to the about page on the ArchiveGrid website, it“provides access to detailed archival collection descriptions, making information available about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and other archival materials. It also provides contact information for the institution where the collections are kept.”The website is designed to recognize your current location so that it can best serve your search needs. When you receive your search results, they are ranked by both closest in proximity and the hits that best fits the phrase you searched.

ArchiveGrid is supported by the Online Computer Library Center (also known as OCLC). OCLC is an organization that connects different libraries from all over the world. OCLC also manages the infamous WorldCat, the database that Bobst Library uses to make their catalogues searchable. Like OCLC, ArchiveGrid gives archives and libraries the opportunity to share their collections with the World Wide Web, allowing them to reach out to more people than they could in the past.

For my digital archive and website, I am focusing on St. Vincent’s Medical Center, once located on Greenwich Village on W. 11th Street until its close in 2010. Since this institution is no longer open, I have been searching high and low for all sorts of documents that would be relevant for my research. ArchiveGrid was one of the major tools that I have used and has directed me to different archives that I can utilize.

The ArchiveGrid search bar is at the top right where you can enter any phrase or topic that you would like to search. When I typed in “St. Vincent’s Hospital NYC,” I received 631 results.

Search Results

The website divided its findings into a result list and a result summary. When you click on the “Result Overview” tab, it breaks down the results based on: people, groups, places, archives, archive locations and topics.

Results Overview Page

This is very useful when trying to narrow down the 631 matches that ArchiveGrid provided for me. You can conduct your search from here by choosing a specific topic. The results generated on the “Results Overview” helped me identify different topics about St. Vincent’s that I would like to focus on in my online exhibit. For example I can select the group “Catholic Church,” or the topic “Medicine and Health,” since St. Vincent’s was a Catholic medical center. I can also select narrow my search by the location of the archives.  When I click on New York, I am left with 69 results, much smaller from my first search. The different collections range from oral histories from 9/11 victims who were treated at St. Vincent’s, to the papers of doctors or an AIDS activist videotape collection. Under each collection is a description, if available and the name of the archive that the collection is located. The researcher can than click below that the link for either contact information for the archive or the finding aid for that collection. For example, the 9/11 oral histories are located at Columbia University and I am then directed to their contact us page on their website.

Contact and Collection Information

From here I can browse through their collection and determine if I need to make a visit to their library. I now know that I have the ability to include information on St. Vincent’s significant role after the events of 9/11 into my exhibit as well as any information regarding the AIDS clinic that was established at St. Vincent’s.

ArchiveGrid is a great resource to use if you are looking for archives to go to without having to visit them right away and making any unnecessary trips. It also helps you to be a more efficient researcher as you can go into any archive that you find on ArchiveGrid and know exactly which collection and even which folder you are looking for. For more information on ArchiveGrid and OCLC check out their websites!

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Since the advent of Apple’s iPhone in 2007, mobile technology has changed drastically. Natural User Interfaces, like the iPhone’s multi-touch technology, are everywhere—in the subway, our doctors’ offices, in airport terminals, and museum exhibits. Additionally, mobile technology is now seamlessly integrated into our daily lives. We use smartphone applications to choose a restaurant, take photos, read books, check movie times, find our cars, check blood sugar levels, and so much more. New applications on multiple platforms (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry) are released daily; some, like Angrybirds, become cultural phenomena, and some decay on little-visited pages in the App Store.

Just last week, on October 27, 2011, 1000 Memories released a new mobile application for the Apple iPhone, Shoebox by 1000 Memories. Similar to Historypin but without the context of a map, 1000 Memories is a online social platform for uploading, organizing, and sharing photographs, both historical and personal. And because memories come in so many shapes and sizes, 1000 Memories now also supports content in the form of audio, video, stories, documents, and quotes. 1000 Memories provides users with a tool to add dates, tags, and captions to digitized photos. 1000 Memories aims to permanently preserve digital photographs—they work with the non-profit Internet Archive and with high-performance data servers to ensure that uploaded content is never lost. Click here to learn more about this process. And with their easy to use data-export feature, users are able to download their content an unlimited number of times.

1000 Memories, the Social Network:

As a social network, 1000 Memories has become very popular. So far, they have partnered with the CBC Late Show, the Internet Archive, Livestrong, and the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation.  However, 1000 Memories is most popular among general users. With the ability to upload an unlimited amount of content and several innovative features, 1000 Memories is accessible for every user—the grandchild digitizing Grandma’s 35 mm slides (a project I’ve undertaken several times), the parent archiving the child’s milestones, or the historian organizing a photographic archive.


Shoebox: On 1000 Memories, the “Shoebox” refers to the content a user has uploaded. Because so many people keep old photographs in shoeboxes, this is a very appropriate use of the term.  Users can elect to allow friends and family members to also add to their shoeboxes, creating a shared online memory quilt.

Family Tree: Another innovative feature of 1000 Memories is Family Tree. Family Tree allows users to map their family heritage with digital photographs, documents, video, audio, etc. However, it also connects family members and their shoeboxes in one integrated location, creating a shared, visual dialogue of memories. As Historypin showcases photographs, video, and audio in the context of a geographical location, 1000 Memories showcases content within the context of connections, with both family and friends.

Click here for a sample Family Tree of Tolkien’s beloved hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. And click here for Ernest Hemingway’s Family Tree.

Shoebox, by 1000 Memories:

While 1000 Memories as a social network is a valuable tool, one of the most exciting features created by 1000 Memories is Shoebox by 1000 Memories, the smartphone application. While the app is at present only available on the iPhone, mobile developers are currently working on a version for Android. Shoebox integrates the iPhone’s camera feature as a convenient mobile scanner. Traditionally, scanning photos has been an arduous and expensive process—purchasing equipment, manually scanning hundreds or more photographs, and editing damaged and discolored photos. But with Shoebox, users can simply take a picture of an old photograph or document and upload it to their 1000 Memories profiles all through the iPhone application. And with 1000 Memories’ incorporation of Grizzly Labs edge detection and perspective-correction technology, users’ photos and documents are expertly scanned.

Shoebox, by 1000 Memories and Greenwich Village:

While Shoebox is not a practical tool for cultural institutions like Historypin is, 1000 Memories and the Shoebox mobile application is extremely useful for everyday users, especially users on a budget, because the mobile application and 1000 Memories registration is free. Find the iPhone application in the App Store. Unlike most scanning and photo editing software available, Shoebox by 1000 Memories has an extremely intuitive user interface, making digitizing photos and documents a snap for a user with any level of experience. Citizens of Greenwich Village can share their history with friends and family—tagging, comments, and interpreting their history and the history of the community. And because 1000 Memories is currently beta testing a GEDCOM file importer, users will soon be able to import files generated from Ancestry.com, Geni.com, and other genealogy websites and software.

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