Saving some old pictures

My mother, using the old image-cropping tool of scissors, cut up a bunch of one-of-a-kind photos and made a collage, using some kind of adhesive that no longer holds—that’s kind of a good thing, because they just come apart without tearing the edges of photos under them. One picture at the bottom edge didn’t make it, and I don’t know what it was or when it fell out.



This grouping contains, among others, the only photo I’ve ever seen with me and my father in the same picture, so I’ve decided it’s time to get them all apart and scanned (maybe not those ones of me in the teen years). Then what should I do? Should I put the originals back in this arrangement in a frame? Or should I store them in a photo box? I kind of like things to be used rather than hidden away in boxes, even if it leads to their demise, so I’m leaning toward putting it all back together, once the scanning is done. Maybe I can even find another picture to fill in that empty spot, some embarrassing picture of my brother, for example.

A few of the photos can be seen on the 1951 page, showing some of the people talked about in the letters from Korea.

A Lovely Display of Letters

At least to an academic, this digital collection of “The John McCoy Family Papers” at the Dartmouth College Library is lovely. View the documents and letters from this page:

Here’s a nice example of what I find so inviting in the display. The transcription on the left is clear and easy to read, without too many interruptions except where words are illegible. The actual letter image is available on the right in a nice viewer that does not allow readers to copy or download the document, to prevent distribution. I don’t think I’ll ever have the skills or resources to do something like that (you never know), but this would be a nice format in which to display my letters once transcribed. I’ve heard (I have connections) that the collection will eventually offer a toggle to the full TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) markup, something I’d like to learn in my coding adventures.

Dartmouth Library Document Collection Display
Dartmouth Library Document Collection Page Display

Remaining Letters

It just occurred to me that all the letters will be scanned soon and out of the envelopes in which they’ve resided for 70 years, unfolded, filed into folders and placed in a file cabinet, recorded in a database, soon to be fully read and transcribed. Occasionally I read snippets as I scan and discovered in one of the earliest letters that Ruth had an idea to make a scrapbook, which explained the stack of returned letters that she had written. Those envelopes have never been opened, but will be soon. I guess I am fulfilling that mid-century idea of a scrapbook as a digital object befitting this next century.

So, I think I should take some photos of the letters that remain in their envelopes, because it certainly feels like a milestone. I’ll keep returning to this post with more photos as the stacks dwindle down to that last one.

12 June–I’m done with 1942. Just the remaining letters from 1944-45, and then the unopened stack of my mother’s letters that were returned for her scrapbook. And no, that’s not a tin of 70 yr. old tobacco–it’s a tin of marbles.

unexpected treasure

Sometimes you find unexpected items folded in with the letters when you first remove them for scanning. Today I found a snipping of a poem from a newspaper, with just a simple note of “I like this. Do You?” It was a sentimental poem, unsigned, about people living apart and not sharing the same experiences, mostly of nature, waiting to experience them “hand in hand.”

Then in the letter dated August 27, 1942, there was this sketch of Walt by an unnamed guy in his platoon, although the sketch is signed by what looks like J. Blatt. It looks pretty good compared to photos I’ve seen. Unlike photographs, this is interesting in that it captures a moment as perceived by an artist, not a camera.


what’s the difference between a preface, an introduction, and a foreword?

Photo Dec 18, 10 15 19 AM I’m doing a presentation for faculty in January at the annual Faculty Colloquium at the college where I work, and this time I’m not presenting in my role of instructional technologist, but just as another scholar. The colloquium theme this year is Imagine the Future: Inspired by the Present, Informed by the Past, so this project fits in nicely. My presentation is titled “The Letters Project: Documenting and Preserving the Past with Mobile and Web-Based Technologies.”

I knew I wouldn’t be done with the project–HA–not even nearly done, but I wanted to have some pieces of all the eventual parts to demonstrate how technology can aid in a task that began with dusty, yellowed, seventy year old letters. I’ll be showing how a blog can be used to document a project, whether a faculty research project, a collaborative course project, or an individual student research project. Then I’ll be showing how database software, in my case Bento, on both the iPad and computer can help organize and make sense of all the pertinent facts of each letter, from basic information like dates and postmarks, to letter topics and keywords. And I’ll be showing how Dropbox lets me access my files anywhere–I’m sure you could similarly work with Google Drive to store images and scans of letters, as well as transcriptions that could be performed right in Google. I’m scanning to high quality PDFs and transcribing in Microsoft Word.

Finally, I want to show how it can all be put together in book form with iBooks Author, so even though I am still scanning, I have a few letters transcribed and a lot of ideas for putting a book together. I’ve had to learn about parts of a book, hence this post’s title, as well as about the limitations in the iBooks Author software to name parts. I find that some things can be rearranged, like chapters and sections, but not pages; pages are attached to chapters or sections for good. So, my current scheme looks like it has too many sections, but it is all starting to make sense as I get used to it. I will probably make a mind map of my organization to keep me on track, and the ability to preview your book in iBooks is a big help in seeing what others will see. I hope some faculty in attendance are inspired to try their own hand at bookmaking.

So what’s the difference between a preface, an introduction, and a foreword? Most agree that a foreword is written by someone else (preferably well-known) to tell people why they should read the book. The preface is similar, but written by the author and talks about how the book came into being. An introduction, like an introduction in an essay, is part of the text of the book, part of the subject matter and where you draw the reader in and present your argument or purpose. Here are a few sources:

Writers and Editors: Preface, foreword, or introduction

Kunz on Publishing: Foreword Vs. Preface Vs. Introduction