Digital Collections Unit
by Sonia Kahn from the Bancroft Digital Collections Unit.
Berkeley is known for its world-renowned professors. Just walking through the campus today you can spot parking spaces reserved for Nobel laureates. Of course, this is hardly a new phenomenon at Berkeley, which has had prominent faculty on its staff for decades. Perhaps one of the most distinguished members to grace the Berkeley faculty, and one with a fascinating history to boot, was a professor in the mathematics department named Alfred Tarski.Alfred Tajtelbaum (who would later change his last name to the more Polish sounding Tarski) was born January 14, 1901 in Warsaw, Poland. He was born to Polish Jewish parents but would later convert to Roman Catholicism due to the discriminatory hiring practices of Polish universities in the interwar period.
In 1918, Tarski began his academic career, entering the University of Warsaw. He studied mathematics under prominent logicians and philosophers of the time. In 1924, Tarski graduated with a Ph.D., becoming the youngest person to obtain a doctorate from the University of Warsaw. Between 1924 and 1939, Tarski worked intermittent positions at the University of Warsaw, but mostly made a living by teaching math to secondary school students. This was actually a common practice in Europe prior to the Second World War as university positions tended to pay poorly. Meanwhile, as he taught the basics to teenagers, he wrote various papers and books, earning himself an international reputation as a mathematical logician and for his ideas on truth, which the current writer will not attempt to summarize here because they are well beyond her.
In 1939 Tarski was invited to attend the Unity of Science Congress in September, held at Harvard University. In August 1939, Tarski boarded a ship bound for the United States. It would be the last ship to leave Poland before Nazi forces invaded the country on September 1, igniting World War Two. He left behind a wife and two children in Warsaw who he would not see again until 1946.
Effectively exiled in the US, Tarski worked at various research institutions including Harvard, before settling on the world’s best research university: UC Berkeley. In 1942 he joined Berkeley’s mathematics department, and was eventually tenured in 1945 before being awarded a full professorship in 1948. In 1946 his wife and two children, who had all survived the devastation of the war, joined Tarski in California.
Tarski stayed on at Berkeley, helping to create an esteemed graduate program in logic, until 1968 when he retired, becoming a professor emeritus. However, he remained devoted to Berkeley and students even in retirement, continuing to teach until 1973, and supervising doctoral theses until his death in 1983.
Today the Bancroft Library maintains a collection of materials relating to Tarski’s tenure as a mathematician at UC Berkeley. Among them are personal documents of Tarski’s, from his Polish passport, to a dinner menu saved from his sailing voyage to the US in 1939.
Digital reproductions of selected items are available: Alfred Tarski papers (BANC MSS 84/69 c)
by Sonia Kahn from the Bancroft Digital Collections Unit.
“We pray the God of mercy to deliver us from our present Calamity if it be his Holy will,” wrote Patrick Breen on New Year’s Day 1847. In the midst of a snow storm, with provisions running short and several members of his party already dead from starvation, Calamity was not an overstatement.
Breen was a member of the now infamous Donner Party. An Irish immigrant, he had set out with his wife and seven children to make their way westward from Illinois to the California sunshine. The Breens composed just one family in the group of 87 people to make the trek led by George Donner and James Reed. Only 48 would survive the ordeal.The Donner Party set out from Springfield, Illinois in the spring of 1846, expecting to arrive in California by late summer. Their downfall, however, came with an idea from an Ohio lawyer named Lansford Hastings. Hastings was convinced he could come up with a faster route to California than the standard voyage which involved traversing Wyoming, the southern border of Idaho, and northern Nevada. He devised a cutoff that diverged from the typical route, sending the party south into Utah (rather than north into Idaho) and rejoining the original path in Nevada. The shortcut backfired as the voyage through Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake desert expended more time and energy than originally planned. Many wagons, oxen, and livestock were lost in the Salt Flats, and by the time the Donner Party reached California in late October they were weeks behind schedule and running low on food and supplies.
Calamity struck the Donner Party while in the Sierra Nevadas. Stuck in the first blizzard of the season, the party was unable to continue the journey. The blizzard, unfortunately, was not a quick setback but the harbinger of a terrible winter to come.
Patrick Breen began recording in his diary on November 20, 1846. “It continueing [SIC] to snow all the time we were here we now have killed most part of our cattle having to stay here untill [SIC] next spring & live on poor beef without bread or salt,” wrote Breen. “Poor beef” would hardly seem such a terrible meal when a few weeks later the party had resorted to eating animal hides. The situation deteriorated even further, and as members of the party perished, Breen described how other members thought about, or claimed to have engaged in, cannibalism. When one woman mentioned that she was considering consuming a dead comrade out of desperation, Breen quite simply wrote “It is distressing.” Such bare simplicity perfectly describes the feeling one is faced with in reading the trials of the Donner Party.
On February 19, 1847 the first rescue party arrived bringing a few provisions. The relief team of men from California took with them 21 members of the party, but the Breen family was left behind. 170 years ago today, on March 1, 1847, Breen made the last entry in his diary which recounts the arrival of the second relief team. This second rescue team guided 14 people, including the Breen family, to safety in Sutter’s Fort, California. A third relief team later rescued all the remaining children of the Donner Party but was forced to leave behind five stragglers. By the time the fourth team arrived, only one man was still alive.
The history of the Donner Party and the epics detailed in Breen’s diary are a reminder of the lengths to which people once went to reach this golden state, and the sunny days we often take for granted.
The Bancroft Library maintains the original Breen diary and has digitized the journal.
View the collection: Patrick Breen Diary (BANC MSS C-E 176)
by Jacob Dickerman from the Bancroft Digital Collections Unit.
76 years ago, on December 7, the Japanese military attacked Pearl Harbor military base. The next day, the United States declared war against Japan. Following the attacks and declaration of war, hostilities were high, as many Americans vilified and mistrusted their fellow Japanese American citizens. Of course, the vilification and mistrust were unfounded.
Two months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the “Munson Report,” an intelligence report commissioned by the State Department, concluded that there was no question of loyalty to the U.S. among the majority of Japanese Americans and that they posed no threat to the nation’s security. Despite such exculpatory reports and a lack of cause for suspicion or detainment, the FBI, as soon as December 7, 1941, began arresting Japanese American community leaders, totaling 1,291 arrests in just two days.
Today, this seems unfathomable, but hostility toward Japanese Americans had been a long-established and prominent issue, socially and politically. On October 11, 1906, the San Francisco–San Francisco–Board of Education passed a measure to segregate children of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean descent from the rest of the student population. (President Theodore Roosevelt called the measure “wicked absurdity.”) In 1908, Japan and the U.S. made a “Gentlemen’s Agreement” to end migration of Japanese laborers to the U.S. In 1913, California passed the Alien Land Law, prohibiting those ineligible for citizenship from owning (and, later, leasing) land; at the time, all Japanese immigrants were considered ineligible for citizenship.
As it turned out, the draconian laws against Japanese immigrants, who mainly labored in agriculture, were neither followed nor enforced too heavily. Unfortunately, the relative leniency drew resentment from labor unions, statewide, as the population of Japanese Americans steadily increased. This intensified the presence and influence of anti-immigrant interests and politicians in government, contributing to the height of tensions when Pearl Harbor was attacked.
On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized military authorities to exclude civilians from any area, without trial or hearing. This was effectively aimed at Japanese Americans on the West Coast. In March of that year, the Wartime Civil Control Administration established the first Assembly Centers (detainment camps, or “concentration camps,” in FDR’s words), where they detained about 92,000 persons of Japanese ancestry. The count would eventually increase to 120,000 persons, when the permanent camps were established by the War Relocation Authority, in May 1942.
In January of 1943, the War Department announced the formation of a segregated unit of Japanese American soldiers. Soon after, on February 1, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was activated at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. During seizures, arrests, and the unconstitutional detainment of tens of thousands of Japanese Americans, thousands were wounded, killed, or went missing in action while serving the nation in the 442nd RCT. Though President Obama awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to Japanese-American World War II veterans, in 2010, the nation failed to express appreciation to the same Japanese Americans during the war.
A year after forming the 442nd RCT, the U.S. reversed its policy on excluding Japanese Americans from the draft and reinstated it, requiring men in the internment camps to serve. Hundreds refused to serve in the same military that oversaw the indefinite incarceration of their friends and families. Most of these men were imprisoned for resisting the draft. In 1947, President Truman pardoned 63 draft resisters imprisoned in 1944. The 63 were detainees at Heart Mountain, a concentration camp in Wyoming, who organized an effort to challenge the legality of their detainment by refusing to show for their physical examinations.
The last camp left, Tule Lake “Segregation Center,” closed on March 20, 1946. Though the Truman administration sent a friendlier message to Japanese Americans, the nation was slow to learn from the crimes committed against its own citizens. Only in 1980 did Congress formally begin to question the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066, that which granted the military the liberty to take liberties away from other Americans.
Commenting on the possibility of the government’s legally detaining Americans without due process, the late Justice Antonin Scalia said, “You are kidding yourself if you think the same thing would not happen again.” The nation should prove him wrong.
The Bancroft Library maintains a collection of over 7000 photographs from the War Relocation Authority.
by Sonia Kahn from the Bancroft Digital Collections Unit.
Today the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, known to locals as just the Bay Bridge, is an essential part of many Bay Area commuters’ daily routine, but a mere 80 years ago the bridge many now take for granted as just one more part of their traffic-filled commute did not exist. On November 12, 2016, the Bay Bridge celebrated its 80th birthday, having officially opened to the public on that date in 1936. Today the Bay Bridge is oft overshadowed by its 6 month younger brother, the Golden Gate Bridge, as an iconic sign of San Francisco. But since the 1930s the Bay Bridge has played an essential role in bridging the gap between the East Bay and San Francisco.
It’s impossible. That was what many critics charged at those who explained they wanted to build a bridge across the San Francisco Bay. The idea to construct a bridge connecting Oakland to San Francisco had been around since the 1870s but saw no real progress until the administration of President Herbert Hoover, when the Reconstruction Finance Corporation agreed to purchase bonds to help fund construction which were to be paid back with tolls. But was building such a bridge really possible? In some places, the Bay was more than 100 feet deep, and on top of that, construction would have to take into consideration the threat of an earthquake. Interestingly, engineers planning for the bridge were more concerned with the threat brought about by high winds which could affect the bridge’s integrity.
Ground was broken for the bridge on July 9, 1933, and was welcomed with celebration. The United States Navy Band played at the event, and an air acrobatic left a trail of smoke between Oakland and Rincon Hill where the bridge would connect the East Bay to San Francisco. Celebration was well warranted. The feat of engineering was constructed in just three years, sixth months ahead of schedule! At a total cost of $77 million, the Bay Bridge was an engineering marvel which spanned more than 10,000 feet and was the longest bridge of its kind when it was completed.On November 12, 1936 the Bay Bridge officially opened. Four days of celebration followed the grand opening but it was not long before the Bridge was overwhelmed. By the end of 1936, the Bay Bridge saw traffic beyond the figures predicted for a decade later. Low tolls on the Bridge saw many previous ferry users jumping ship to cross the expanse on the newly constructed bridge instead.
From its opening until 1952, cars were not the only passengers on the Bay Bridge. The two-decker bridge saw cars traveling in both directions up top while trains and trucks traveled in both directions on the lower deck. In 1952 trains were scrapped, and in 1958 the upper deck was reconfigured to handle five lanes of westbound traffic as the lower deck accepted passengers headed for Oakland.
Since the 1950s the Bay Bridge has seen many developments. HOV lanes were added for high-occupancy vehicles, and the 1970s saw a decrease and eventual elimination of tolls for these vehicles. A metering system to regulate vehicles entering the bridge was also added which reduced traffic accidents by 15%. In 1989, the infamous Loma Prieta earthquake caused a portion of the upper deck of the Bay Bridge’s eastern span to collapse, proving that the structure was still susceptible to particularly strong tremors despite its strong moorings. This led to retrofitting procedures on the bridge. Most recently a new eastern span was built and was opened to the public in September 2013 after a decade of construction.
Today the Bay Bridge sees more than 102 million vehicles a year cross its decks, more than 11 times the number it carried in its first year. So perhaps next time you cross the Bay Bridge take a minute to appreciate the 80-year-old engineering marvel that makes crossing the Bay a breeze-if you don’t get stuck in the Bay Area traffic!
The Bancroft Library maintains a collection of over 1,100 photographs from the construction of the Bay Bridge.
This post comes from Sonia Kahn, one of our student employees who has been digging into some of our favorite digital collections. Today we discuss voting!
With the possibility of a female president now a real possibility, it’s hard to imagine that less than 100 years ago, all women did not have the right to vote in the United States. Many students across the nation now memorize the infamous 19th Amendment, passed in 1920, as granting American women the right to vote. But in fact many women to the west of the Mississippi had gained the right to vote long before their East Coast sisters joined them in 1920. At the beginning of 1920, women had already achieved full equality in suffrage in 15 states, and partial suffrage in another 20, leaving only 12 states where women were completely left out of the voting process. Indeed, here in California, women have had the right to vote since 1911, when the Golden State joined a total of five other Western states in granting women the full right to vote in all elections.California was not the first state to give women the right to vote. That title belongs to Wyoming, which granted full suffrage to its citizens in 1869 while still a territory. Wyoming was followed by the likes of Utah, Colorado, and Idaho, all giving women the right to vote in the 19th century. California had also attempted to pass equal suffrage before the turn of the century but the motion failed. Today the Bay Area is considered a progressive stronghold but in 1896 it was actually San Francisco and Alameda counties that crippled the suffrage attempt that year. Strong business interests, particularly the producers and sellers of alcohol, virulently opposed female suffrage, convinced that women with their conservative mindsets would vote for prohibition. All hope was not lost, however, and Californian suffragettes and their allies would try again 15 years later.
With the memory of defeat ever present, California suffragettes implemented a new strategy when the topic of equal suffrage came up for a vote once more. Recalling that business had a strong hold on the state’s major cities, supporters of equal suffrage targeted voters in rural and southern California. To get the word out they used traditional tactics such as handing out more than 90,000 “Votes for Women” buttons and distributing three million pieces of promotional literature across southern California alone. But the suffragettes did more than put up posters and hand out buttons. They also pasted their message on billboards and often used electric signs, relaying their message with a spark.
October 10, 1911, was the day of reckoning in which allies of equal suffrage would see if their efforts bore fruit. Again both San Francisco and Alameda counties voted down the measure, and suffrage passed by just a hair in Los Angeles, to the dismay of many suffragettes. But all was not lost, and the tide began to turn as votes from California’s rural districts were tallied. When the final tally was made, equal suffrage had just barely come out on top with a miraculously small margin of just 3,587 votes, out of a total 246,487 ballots cast.
Today in California 73% of eligible adults are registered to vote, but just 43% of those adults turned out for the November 2014 election, a record low. This is a significant decrease from 2012 in which 72% of registered voters turned out to the polls.
One-hundred five years ago, fewer than 4,000 people were pivotal in changing the course of California history. Had they not voted, women in California might have had to wait another nine years to have their voices heard. To the women in California in 1911, a handful of votes were essential in advancing civil rights for thousands, proving that your vote truly does matter.
Check out the collection here: https://calisphere.org/collections/11601/
Today’s blog post comes to us from Sonia Kahn, one of the student employees in the Digital Collections Unit. Sonia has been digging into some of our favorite digital collections and writing posts to highlight some of the fabulous digitized material from the Bancroft collections.
With Halloween just around the corner, many of us have chocolate on our mind, and some of you may have already dipped into the sugary arsenal meant for potential trick or treaters. But having a sweet tooth isn’t a seasonal event and many of us crave chocolate year-round, especially here in the Bay Area, where tourists from all over the world flock to Ghirardelli Square to sample the offerings of one of San Francisco’s most famous companies.
But the Ghirardelli chocolate company’s history stretches back much farther than the 1964 opening of now iconic Ghirardelli Square. Did you know that the Bancroft Library is home to a Ghirardelli company photo album that contains 56 photographs of the chocolate making process? This short and sweet collection includes photos dating from 1882 to the early 1920s.The Ghirardelli company’s story began in 1849, when Italian immigrant Domenico “Domingo” Ghirardelli, hoping to prosper from the excitement over the California Gold Rush, set sail for California and established a general store in Stockton to serve the local miners. In 1852, Ghirardelli opened a confectionary store in San Francisco, and by 1893 success led the company to purchase a building and move manufacturing to the current site of Ghirardelli Square. In 1923, the brightly illuminated Ghirardelli sign, which still shines today and has become synonymous with San Francisco, was revealed to the world. In the 1960s, manufacturing was once again relocated, this time just slightly southeast of San Francisco to San Leandro. The old manufacturing site was purchased by a couple of affluent San Franciscans who worried that Ghirardelli Square might be torn down in the midst of urban redevelopment. In November 1964, Ghirardelli Square was reopened as the dining and retail site it is today, and in 1982 the site received National Historic Register status to ensure its preservation for the future.
In 2012 the Ghirardelli company celebrated its 160th anniversary, and today Ghirardelli Square continues to beckon to tourists and locals alike with its tantalizing sweets. The history of the Ghirardelli company is just one of the many collections on California’s cultural heritage that the Bancroft is working to preserve.
Check out the collection here: https://calisphere.org/collections/8416/
by Randal Brandt (Head of Cataloging)
Acquired via a recent transfer from the Main Library stacks is a complete set of the “Collection des mémoires rélatifs à la Révolution française.” Compiled and edited by St.-Albin Berville and François Berrière and published by Baudouin frères in Paris, 1820-1827, these 53 volumes provide first-hand accounts of the French Revolution by members of the aristocracy whose lives were upended by the events of 1789-1799. Among the memoirs in the set are recollections of the life of Marie-Antoinette written her lady-in-waiting Jeanne-Louise-Henriette Campan, accounts of Louis XVI’s flight to Varennes in 1791, and eyewitness testimony of the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789.
The set was originally from the personal library of Professor H. Morse Stephens (1857-1919), who was instrumental in the acquisition of the Bancroft Library by the University of California (and for whom Stephens Hall is named), and many of the volumes still bear his bookplate.
Title page and map from http://oskicat.berkeley.edu/record=b13809670~S6
All volumes in set are cataloged in OskiCat
by Kate Tasker (Digital Archivist, Bancroft Library) and Jay Boncodin (Library Computer Infrastructure Services)
In July 2015, the Bancroft Library’s Digital Collections Unit received an intriguing message from UC Berkeley Assistant Professor Alex Saum-Pascual, who teaches in the Spanish and Portuguese Department and with the Berkeley Center for New Media. Alex and her colleague Élika Ortega, a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Kansas, were working on a Digital Humanities project for electronic literature, and wanted to read a groundbreaking book they had checked out of the UC Berkeley Library. The book was written by Stuart Moulthrop and is titled Victory Garden. But this “book” was actually a hypertext novel (now a classic in the genre) — and it was stored on a 3.5” floppy disk from 1991.
Alex had heard about the digital forensics work happening at the Bancroft Library. She wanted to know if we could help her read the disk so she could use the novel in her new undergraduate course, and in a collaborative exhibit called “No Legacy: Literatura electrónica (NL || LE)” (opening March 11, 2016 in Doe Library). We were excited to help out with such a cool project, and enlisted Jay Boncodin (a retro-tech enthusiast) from Library Computer Infrastructure Services (LCIS) to investigate this “retro” technology.
The initial plan was to make a copy of the floppy, to be read and displayed on an old Mac Color Classic. The software booklet included with the floppy disk listed instructions for installing the “Storyspace” software on Macintosh computers, so this seemed like a good sign.
Our first step was to make an exact bit-for-bit forensic copy of the original disk as a back up, which would allow us to experiment without risking damage to the original. The Digital Collections Unit routinely works with the Library Systems Office to create disk images of older computer media like 3.5” floppies to support preservation and processing activities, so this was familiar territory. We created a disk image using the free FTK Imager program and an external 3.5” floppy disk drive with a USB connector.
Next, all we had to do was copy the disk image to a new blank 3.5” floppy, insert into a floppy disk drive, and voila! We’d have access to a recovered 25-year-old eBook.
…Except the floppy disk drive couldn’t read the floppy, on any of the Macs we tried.
We backed up a step to ensure that nothing had gone wrong with the disk imaging process. We were able to view a list of the floppy disk contents in the FTK Imager program, and extracted copies of the original files for good measure. The file list looked very much like one from a Windows-based program, and we also recognized an executable file (with the .exe extension) which would be familiar to anyone who’s ever downloaded and installed Windows software.
After double-checking the catalog record we realized that despite the documentation this “Macintosh” disk was actually formatted for PCs, so it definitely was not going to run on a Mac.
Switching gears (and operating systems), we then attempted to read the disk on a machine running Windows 7 – but encountered an error stating the program would only run on a 32-bit operating system. Luckily Jay had an image of a 32-bit Windows OS handy, so we could test it out.
It took a couple of tries, but we finally were able to read the disk on the 32-bit OS. Victory!
From there it was an eas(ier) task to copy the software files and install the program.
Jay scrounged up a motherboard with a 3.5” floppy drive controller and built a custom PC with an internal 3.5” floppy drive, which runs the 32-bit Windows operating system. After Victory Garden was installed on this PC, it was handed off to Dave Wong (LCIS) who conducted the finishing touches of locking down the operating system to ensure that visitors cannot tamper with it.
The machine has just been installed in the Brown Gallery of Doe Library and is housed in a beautiful wood enclosure designed by students in Stephanie F. Lie’s Fall 2016 seminar “New Media 290-003: Archive, Install, Restore” at the Berkeley Center for New Media.
Since one of the themes of the No Legacy: Literatura electrónica project is the challenge of electronic literature preservation, it seems fitting that the recovery of the floppy disk data was not exactly a straightforward process! Success depended on collaboration with people across the UC Berkeley campus, including Alex and her Digital Humanities team, the Berkeley Center for New Media, Library Computer Infrastructure Services, Doe Library staff, and the Bancroft Library’s Digital Collections Unit.
We’re excited to see the final display, and hope you’ll check it out yourself in the Bernice Layne Brown Gallery in Doe Library. The exhibit runs from March 11 – September 2, 2016.
For more information, visit http://nolegacy.berkeley.edu/.
The Bancroft Library University of California Berkeley
SPRING ARCHIVAL INTERNSHIP 2016
Come use your digital curation and metadata skills to help the Bancroft process born-digital archival collections!
Who is Eligible to Apply
Graduate students currently attending an ALA accredited library and information science program who have taken coursework in archival administration and/or digital libraries.
Please note: our apologies, but this internship does not meet SJSU iSchool credit requirements at this time.
Born-Digital Processing Internship Duties
The Born-Digital Processing Intern will be involved with all aspects of digital collections work, including inventory control of digital accessions, collection appraisal, processing, description, preservation, and provisioning for access. Under the supervision of the Digital Archivist, the intern will analyze the status of a born-digital manuscript or photograph collection and propose and carry out a processing plan to arrange and provide access to the collection. The intern will gain experience in appraisal, arrangement, and description of born-digital materials. She/he will use digital forensics software and hardware to work with disk images and execute processes to identify duplicate files and sensitive/confidential material. The intern will create an access copy of the collection and, if necessary, normalize access files to a standard format. The intern will generate an EAD-encoded finding aid in The Bancroft Library’s instance of ArchivesSpace for presentation on the Online Archive of California (OAC). All work will occur in the Bancroft Technical Services Department, and interns will attend relevant staff meetings.
15 weeks (minimum 135 hours), January 28 – May 16, 2016 (dates are somewhat flexible). 1-2 days per week.
NOTE: The internship is not funded, however, it is possible to arrange for course credit for the internship. Interns will be responsible for living expenses related to the internship (housing, transportation, food, etc.).
The competitive selection process is based on an evaluation of the following application materials:
Cover letter & Resume
Current graduate school transcript (unofficial)
Photocopy of driver’s license (proof of residency if out-of-state school)
Letter of recommendation from a graduate school faculty member
Sample of the applicant’s academic writing or a completed finding aid
All application materials must be received by Friday, December 18, 2015, and either mailed to:
Head of Digital Collections
The Bancroft Library
University of California Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720.
or emailed to melings [at], with “Born Digital Processing Internship” in the subject line.
Selected candidates will be notified of decisions by January 8, 2016.
October 10, 2015 is Electronic Records Day – a perfect opportunity to remind ourselves of both the value and the vulnerability of electronic records. If you can’t remember the last time you backed up your digital files, read on for some quick tips on how to preserve your personal digital archive!
The Council of State Archivists (CoSA) established Electronic Records Day four years ago to raise awareness in our workplaces and communities about the critical importance of electronic records. While most of us depend daily on instant access to our email, documents, audio-visual files, and social media accounts, not everyone is aware of how fragile that access really is. Essential information can be easily lost if accounts are shut down, files become corrupted, or hard drives crash. The good news is there are steps you can take to ensure that your files are preserved for you to use, and for long-term historical research.
Check out CoSA’s Survival Strategies for Personal Digital Records (some great tips include “Focus on your most important files,” “Organize your files by giving individual documents descriptive file names,” and “Organize [digital images] as you create them”).
The Bancroft Library’s Digital Collections Unit is dedicated to preserving digital information of long-term significance. You can greatly contribute to these efforts by helping to manage your own electronic legacy, so please take a few minutes this weekend to back up your files (or organize some of those iPhone photos!) Together, we can take good care of our shared digital history.