On Saturday, September 24th, I had the wonderful opportunity to help community members learn how to preserve their family treasures. The Association of Hawaiʻi Archivists partnered with the Society of American Archivists student chapter to invite students to be presenters at this vital workshop on the west side of Oʻahu. Hawaiʻi is famous for its amazing weather. We live in paradise, however, with our subtropical climate there are unique challenges for community members wishing to preserve their papers, books, photos, and other cultural artifacts.
I was fortunate to team with three fellow classmates and SAAsc members who I have ginormous amounts of respect for: Jennifer Magdaloyo, Keala Richard, and Ellie Seaton. Together, we tackled the content of Session 1: Mālama Palapala, which covered physical environment, pests, the care of papers, books, photos, and other artifacts such as feathers, kapa, and ʻumeke/calabash. As aspiring archivists we had all studied under the wise and skillful tutelage of Deborah Dunn in LIS 619 - Preservation Management. (Keala and I were lucky enough to have Debbie for LIS 620 - Conservation Management, as well). Each of us parsed out the topics comprising our 90-minute presentation, and created all the content for our topics. The topics I selected were: pest identification and prevention, identification of types of books in the home one might preserve, and types of books commonly sold today, and photo preservation and storage. Debbie graciously agreed to help us run through the presentation, made suggestions, and then (bless her heart) she sat through it again! She was very happy with it the 2nd time around, and so was I. Having her give feedback was integral to the success of our portion of the workshop.
The audience was a mixture of different ethnicities from all over the island. They were primarily middle-aged to senior citizen, and actively took notes and asked questions throughout. It was a pleasure to be speaking at Leeward Community College, which is the CC I lived closest to (and where I started my college endeavors) back in the day! I felt really comfortable speaking to the crowd because they were really interested in learning what they could do with their possessions at home.
I found the entire experience to be very meaningful and special. We were flattered to have people ask us if we'd consider doing another workshop. Some members thanked us and let us know the community really needs workshops like these. By far, this service event required many hours of preparation, far beyond previous volunteer activities I've participated in. It was partially for that reason that this was also one of the most enjoyable, however, being told we were able to help the people who came was the best part. It was so cool to see people motivated to start preserving their own collections. Mahalo to AHA and the SAAsc for allowing me to present, and Mahalo to the community members for spending their Saturday with us and being such an awesome crowd!
Soulful Eyes: The Identification of Kalaupapa Residents in Photographs Taken by Fr. Joseph Julliote, SS.CC., 1901-1907
This afternoon I attended a public talk which shared the details of a special program sponsored by Congregation of the Sacred Hearts U.S. Province, the Hawaii Council for the Humanities, Damien and Marianne Foundation, Ka ʻOhana O' Kalaupapa and IDEA Center for the Voices of Humanity. The program entailed taking archival photographs of residents in Kalaupapa, and attempting to identify them. The Kalaupapa peninsula, located on the island of Molokaʻi, was where people afflicted with Hansen's disease were sent to live out their days. Through outreach with the community, author Anwei Law and archivist Stuart Ching, have worked through 800+ glass plate negatives, of which approximately 300 involve people. This project attempts to identify the residents captured in the images taken by Fr. Joseph Julliote, SS.CC., between 1901-1907. In addition to its cultural and historical value, the project is also a service to the residents themselves, as well as their desendants who (in some instances) had never seen a photo of their relatives before. The photos were superb, and showed residents of many different ages in an assortment of beautiful clothing poised with dignity and grace. It was unlike anything I would have imagined about Kalaupapa from the limited knowledge I had going into this.
I enjoyed hearing about the sleuthing being done -- comparing facial features as well as expressions, and knowing some of the subjects were aging in the photos, or had changes in appearance due to their illness. Anwei remarked it was easier at times to distinguish women due to their unique hairstyles, or manner of dress. She also mentioned trying to examine writing seen in a photo on a blackboard with other documented handwritings as a means of trying to identify one man, which I thought was really neat.
Access issues: Allowing glass plate negatives to be digitized: The act of digitization itself allowed access, and also made it easier to examine photos without having to handle originals. Further, the images will be catalogued and input into a database. There are questions about how much of this should be publicly accessible, and those issues are still being examined from the sound of it. I really enjoyed this talk today.
On Saturday, March 28th, 2015, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit the Scottish Rite Cathedral as a member of the Association of Hawaii Archivists. I had no idea there was a library inside this beautiful building, nor did I really know much about the cathedral, except that it was an impressive and mysterious building. Along with the cathedral itself, we also toured the Masonic Library located within. Our guide, William "Pete" Holsomback, gave an excellent and fascinating tour of the facilities, patiently fielded many questions from the group, and provided us with a lot of interesting historical info. Adding to the mystique surrounding Masons in general, we learned the group is not Scottish nor is it connected to Scotland in any way. In Hawaii, one of their most visible works, is the Shriners Hospital for Children in Honolulu. There were many interesting photographs, memorabilia, and books. They also publish some pamphlets and books of their own available for sale. Interesting to note for any library buffs out there: the library is open to the public.
I wish I'd written this post sooner, like right after the site visit, but I didn't have my website up and running at the time. I will post more photos from the day below.
Dropping Mad Library Science!
Here is where I write about everything library and archives related going on.