At the 1939 New York World’s Fair, Girl Scouts of the USA had their own building, a replica of Our Chalet in Switzerland, a World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGGS) International Center. [Read more…] about 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouts of the USA
New York City
In February the New York Archivists Round Table was spotlighting the Human Rights Web Archive (HRWA), a joint initiative of Columbia University Libraries and Information Services and its Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research. As stated on the project’s site on the Internet Archive, the HRWA is “an effort to preserve and ensure access to freely available human rights resources created mainly by non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, and individuals.”
A major and invaluable undertaking, the HRWA is indicative of the recognition by major research institutions of the importance of the practice of web archiving, or capturing and preserving websites and other web-only materials for future research. Earlier in the month the Round Table had the opportunity to conduct a brief interview with Tessa Fallon, Web Collection Curator for the HRWA. Many thanks to Tessa for her insightful replies, which highlight some of the complex issues at work in the HRWA and also touch upon future directions for the project:
Q: What are your primary responsibilities as Web Collection Curator?
A: My primary responsibilities revolve around the maintenance and development of our web archive collections. This includes (but is not limited to): selecting new sites, requesting permission from site owners, sending cataloging requests to our catalogers, testing sites for technical suitability, and managing crawls of our selected sites. In addition to the HRWA (managed jointly between myself and co-curator Alex Thurman), I also manage the new Burke New York City Religions and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library web archives (both collections are in stages of development). Alex manages the Avery Architectural Library web archive, which includes sites related to historic preservation and architecture in New York City, and the University Archives collection.
Q: One of the main criteria for website inclusion in the HRWA is a perceived risk of disappearance. How do you determine that a website is at risk of disappearing?
A: This is a perennially tricky question, and we are continually refining our perception of what “at risk” means for a website. Some might argue that given the ephemerality of the web, all websites are at risk. For the HRWA, there are some criteria that are clearly defined: organizations that are at risk of persecution from hostile governments or other groups, organizations that have limited or threatened access to the internet, and sites that are static, presumably abandoned (no longer updated–in some cases, for years). In our experiences, sites may also disappear and reappear without notice, which makes at-risk difficult to gauge.
Q: Can you briefly explain the process of how a website is captured for inclusion in the archive?
A: The (very) abbreviated version of How Web Crawling Works: Sites are captured using a tool called a web crawler. A crawler can capture web content by crawling from link to link on a given site. So, if I sent a crawler to capture this blog, the crawler starting, “nyhistoryblog.com” would capture all of the content on nyhistoryblog.com at that moment in time. The crawler creates a file (called a WARC file) that is then used by a program like the Wayback Machine to show the archived site (content captured by the crawler).
Q: The HRWA website states that the project team is currently pursuing other means of making the archive available in addition to the project page on the Internet Archive. What additional means are you considering?
A: As part of the grant, we are attempting to develop a portal that would allow us to provide a local index and interface for our archived web sites. This is not yet available to the public. Portal development is spearheaded by Stephen Davis, Director of Library Digital Programs Division, programmer David Arjaniks, and web designers Erik Ryerson and Eric O’Hanlon.
If you’d like to learn more about the HRWA, check out the highly-informative FAQ section of the project site!
At the behest of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the New York City Council has proposed legislation that would eliminate the autonomy of New York City’s Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS), the agency that is responsible for the records and archival documents produced by past and present City governments. The proposed legislation (Int. 486-2011) would place the currently independent agency within the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS).
If passed, this legislation would significantly downgrade the authority of DORIS within City government and potentially put at risk its ability to preserve, protect and make accessible the intellectual legacy of one of the world’s greatest cities. A full position statement on the proposed legislation is available on the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York’s website at http://nycarchivists.org/.
Please add your name to the sign-on letter to oppose the proposed legislation, and advocate for the preservation of DORIS as an autonomous records agency, with the financial support and professional respect it deserves. The sign-on letter is located at http://nycarchivists.org/doris_petition. Every signature matters. Help New York City, as an international cultural and financial leader, and the place with the greatest variety and highest density of archives in the world, set the standard for how a democratic government preserves and makes accessible its documentary heritage.
Please join us in welcoming our latest contributor from the New York Archivists Round Table, Nick Pavlik. Nick is the archivist for the 92nd Street Y, one of New York City’s preeminent community and cultural institutions. He is responsible for the management of all records documenting the Y’s rich history, which extends back to 1874 and testifies to the Y’s vital role in serving New York’s Jewish community, as well as its important contribution to New York’s intellectual and cultural life through the presentation of talks, lectures, and performances by celebrated national and international political leaders, literary figures, musicians, and performing artists.
Nick was also a member of the project team for “Uncovering the Secrets of Brooklyn’s Nineteenth-Century Past: Creation to Consolidation,” an archival survey project at the Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) that resulted in the creation of hundreds of online descriptive records for BHS’s unique archival collections documenting several aspects of Brooklyn’s nineteenth-century history. Nick has also interned as an archivist at the American Museum of Natural History and the New York Transit Museum.
On New York History, Nick will be posting content related to the myriad activities of the Archivists Round Table as it works to cultivate collaborations among New York City’s archival repositories and foster greater public understanding of the role archivists play in preserving and providing access to the historical record.
An innovative installation approach, featuring some of the most important objects in the Brooklyn Museum collection, has been developed to create new ways of looking at art and exploring the Museum by making connections between cultures as well as objects. Scheduled to open on April 19, 2012, Connecting Cultures: A World in Brooklyn, on long-term view in the newly renovated Great Hall, near the main entrance, provides for the first time a dynamic introduction to the Museum’s extensive collections, which range from ancient Egyptian masterpieces to contemporary art, representing almost every culture around the world, both past and present.
“This remarkable cross-collection presentation, built around some of the most exceptional works in the Museum, better enables the visitor to explore the collection galleries by providing a model of how to make connections between cultures and how to better understand the ways that different peoples have addressed many of the same issues throughout time,” states Museum Director Arnold L. Lehman. “For the very first time, our visitors have the opportunity to sample the breadth and depth of our holdings as they enter the Museum.”
“Over the course of the twentieth century, the Museum collected on a grand scale, making works of art that had previously been reserved primarily for the elite available to the public. As works of art became available to the many rather than the few, their meanings often changed. Deconstructing those meanings on a basic level provides an understanding of the Brooklyn Museum’s collections as a resource for study,” comments Chief Curator Kevin L. Stayton, who has coordinated the presentation, working with the Museum’s curators.
The installation is organized around three main sections: “Connecting Places,” “Connecting People,” and ‘Connecting Things.” In viewing the juxtaposition and combination of works from different cultures around the world, the visitor will be asked to consider the importance of the idea of place to the definition of culture and the self; the ways in which people represent themselves in the works of art that help define them; and the role of objects, or things, in supporting identity, both personal and cultural.
The “Connecting Places” section presents artworks that reflect the human fascination with the physical world around us and how it relates to spirituality. The landscapes in which people live and the elements of nature that surround them deeply affect the way people see the world and how they try to understand the universe. This section includes a four-legged bowl (circa 250-600 C.E.), made in what is now Guatemala, that reveals a Mayan concept of the cosmos; an eighteenth-century cosmic diagram, made in Gujarat or Rajasthan, that presents a unique worldview; the monumental 1765 painting Our Lady of Chocharcas Under the Baldachin showing the celebration of a pilgrimage in which Lake Titicaca is almost as significant as the statue of the Virgin herself; a festival hat, probably made around Potosi in the eighteenth century, depicting a triangular mountain that might be the Cerro de Potosi, the source of the silver that enriched the area; Louis Rémy Mignon’s monumental painting Niagara (1866), which became a powerful symbol of natural resources that made their potential seem almost limitless; the renowned Century Vase made by the Union Porcelain Works of Brooklyn for display at the Centennial Exposition, in 1876, displaying native animals and scenes of progress unique to the American experience; and a contemporary work, Soundsuit by Nick Cave, that explores man’s involvement with nature.
The “Connecting People” section investigates the ways in which human beings have represented themselves in artworks, in various cultures through time. A number of the works address the journey from life to death, such as a stunning and rare Huastec stone statue that features a standing human figure on one side and a skeleton on the other. Other works include a kachina doll, in the Brooklyn Museum collection since 1904, that reflects the ways in which the human form can represent the spiritual and universal; and Gaston Lachaise’s monumental Standing Woman, a modern work that dignifies the human form and raises it to a level that reflects the humanist tradition.
The “Connecting Things” section includes works that carry particular significance to those who make and use them. Among the objects is a group of more than 100 pitchers to illustrate the many permutations of a single form; kero cups used in ritualistic ceremonies that were important to the Andean concept of reciprocity; a coffin in the form of a Nike sneaker, by Ghanaian artist Paa Joe, that reflects the importance of consumer society and global trade in the modern world; and an African staff, a symbol of authority that is the model for an African-American emancipation cane.
The installation was designed by Matthew Yokobosky, Chief Designer at the Brooklyn Museum, working together with Chief Curator Kevin Stayton, Director Arnold Lehman, and all of the Museum’s curators.
Image: Louis Rémy Mignot (American, 1831-1870)’s “Niagara, 1866”, A Gift of Arthur S. Fairchild. Courtesy the Brooklyn Museum.
Photographs by MacArthur Foundation “genius award” winner Camilo José Vergara, will be on display at the New-York Historical Society in two rotations — Harlem: The People on view through June 10 and Harlem: The Place, from June 13 through September 16. The photographs in both exhibitions, part of the original 2009 exhibition Harlem 1970-2009, explore the effervescent neighborhood of Harlem by showing the transformation of the area over the past 40 years.
The images in Harlem: The People and Harlem: The Place show streetscapes that the photographer visited repeatedly over the course of thirty-eight years, so he could create a composite, time-lapse portrait of a vibrant, world-famous neighborhood seen as a place of ongoing transformation. The series has become a living historical record of Harlem. Vergara has been photographing this vital neighborhood of New York City since 1970, and in doing so he demonstrates, with powerful “before” and “after” images, how one of New York City’s most important neighborhoods has been redefined. As such, Vergara also captures the social and cultural changes in Harlem as he returns to photograph the same street corners and storefronts year after year. He continues to photograph these locations today and writes about his process:
“For a long time I have thought of myself as more a city builder than as a photographer. I think of my images as bricks which when placed next to each other give shape and meaning to a place. I see the images of neighborhoods arranged according to time and location, each one … linking the hundreds of stories that are a place’s history. This is how photographs tell how Harlem evolved and what it gained and lost in the process.”
Selected from the artist’s archive on the Invincible Cities website, the exhibition includes a sequence of photographs showing the evolution of Harlem, its buildings and its people—from the murals that used to condemn racism to advertisements for sports cars, liquor and young rappers; from shops owned by Koreans and West Indians to corporate franchises; from an incubator for struggling churches to famous landmarked churches that attract busloads of visitors from around the world.
All of these historically compelling photographs were donated to the New-York Historical Society by Camilo José Vergara in 2009.
The Historic Districts Council (HDC), the citywide advocate for New York City’s historic neighborhoods, will host its 18th Annual Preservation Conference, “The Great Outside: Preserving Public and Private Open Spaces,” March 2-4, 2012.
“The Great Outside” will focus on significant open spaces and landscapes in New York City, including public parks, plazas, parkways, yards, planned communities and public housing. Participants will examine a variety of issues such as development history, current threats, preservation efforts and future use. Speakers will address both broad issues as well as smaller, neighborhood-based battles. Attendees will gain a strong understanding of how open space conservation and preservation works in New York City. The conference is co-sponsored by more than 200 community-based organizations from across the five boroughs.
The conference begins on the evening of Friday, March 2 with an opening reception and a keynote address, “Change, Continuity and Civic Ambition: Cultural Landscapes, Design and Historic Preservation,” by Charles A. Birnbaum, founder and president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, the country’s leading organization dedicated to increasing the public’s awareness and understanding of the importance and irreplaceable legacy of its cultural landscapes. This event will take place from 6-8pm at New York Law School, 185 West Broadway in Manhattan.
The conference continues Saturday, March 3 with two panels examining the preservation of public and private open space: distinguished speakers include author and curator Thomas Mellins; landscape architect Ken Smith; Thomas J. Campanella, Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Design at University of North Carolina; independent scholar Evan Mason, and Alexandra Wolfe of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities. The Saturday conference will also present networking opportunities where attendees will learn about the latest campaigns dealing with open space concerns across the city. The Conference will be held at Cooper Union, 41 Cooper Square, between East 6th and East 7th Streets, Manhattan.
On Sunday, March 4, HDC will host five related walking tours in a diverse group of New York City neighborhoods and sites with significant public and private open spaces, including Sunnyside and Woodside in Queens, public and private plazas of Midtown Manhattan, Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, the North Shore Greenbelt of Staten Island, and a bicycle tour of the changing waterfront of Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn. Advance reservations are required.
Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx A National Historic Landmark with a stunning array of mausoleums and world class landscape design.
Midtown’s Public Plazas See the renowned as well as little-known public plazas that dot the landscape of Midtown Manhattan. Many were designed by prominent landscape architects as public amenities.
Northshore Greenbelt of Staten Island is part of the larger green belt that makes this the second largest area of city parkland in New York.
Sunnyside, Woodside and Beyond. This tour highlights a variety of significant landscapes including the early garden style housing of Sunnyside and the public housing in nearby Woodside.
Williamsburg and Greenpoint Waterfront Bicycle along this changing face of Brooklyn and learn about the large new waterfront towers, public parks and plans for the future.
HDC will offer several pre-conference programs with content related to open space issues. On February 5 at 8:30am at 232 East 11th Street, Andy Wiley-Schwartz, assistant commissioner of the city Department of Transportation, will present new and affordable pedestrian spaces created from underutilized street segments through the DOT Public Program. Both of these programs are free to the public.
Fees: March 2 Opening Night Reception and Keynote Address: $35, $30 Friends of HDC, Students & Seniors; March 3 Conference: $25, $15 for Friends of HDC & Seniors, Free for students with valid ID; March 4 Walking Tours: $25. Reservations are necessary for all programs.
For more information or to register for the Conference go to www.hdc.org or call (212) 614-9107.
The 18th Annual Preservation Conference is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City council and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support is provided by Councilmembers Inez Dickens, Daniel Garodnick, Stephen Levin and Rosie Mendez.
The conference is also co-sponsored by the New York Chapter, American Society of Landscape Architects and more than 200 Neighborhood Partner organizations.
Photo: Statue of George Washington (by Henry Kirke Brown, 1856) in the middle of Fourth Avenue at 14th Street, circa 1870; the statue was later moved to the center of Union Square Park. Courtesy Wikipedia.
The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen of the City of New York, founded in 1785, continues to pay tribute to the art of craftsmanship, with five monthly lectures scheduled from January through May. The Artisan Lecture Series promotes the work and art of skilled craftsmen to assist in ensuring their unique knowledge is understood and carried forth for future generations. The Lecture Series is curated by General Society member, Jean Wiart, known for his many contributions to ornamental metalwork.
At her March 13 lecture Master Weaver Artisan, New York History contributor and Master Weaver Rabbit Goody, will lecture on the work of her weaving studio, Thistle Hill Weavers, a small mill modeled after the trade shops of the 19th century.
Goody has been in the weaving trade for over 35 years as a hand weaver, as a museum educator, and as a weaver and designer in her own small weaving mill. Her study of historic textiles and history of technology combine to allow her to weave reproductions using traditional methods and transitional technology.
You can see the work of Thistle Hill Weavers at many historic sites around the country, including George Washington’s Mount Vernon; Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello; The Henry Ford Museum; Harper’s Ferry National Park, Harper’s Ferry West Virginia; Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Akron, Ohio, Rock Hall, Lawrence, NY; The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown NY; Martin Van Buren’s home in Kinderhook, NY, and Valley Forge National Historic Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Thistle Hill also weaves for the film industry and has been a major contributor to over 50 films including John Adams, Road to Perdition, The Narnia series, Master and Commander, Life, The Prestige, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, Beowulf and the movie Lincoln.
“The art of craftsmanship and the skill of craftsmen have always been celebrated and rewarded over the centuries,” curator Jean Wiart said. “At the General Society, we want to assure that this special mastery for creating beautiful objects will survive down through the years and continue to be rewarded and prized.”
Other artisans in the lecture series will include Miriam Ellner, Verre Eglomisé Artisan, April 10; and Gregory Muller, Master Stone Mosaic Artisan, May 8. Lectures are scheduled for 6:p.m. in The Library at 20 West 44th Street, New York City. More information can be found online.
The Frick Collection has announced that in the fall of 2013, it will be the final venue of an American tour of paintings from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague. This prestigious Dutch museum, which has not lent a large body of works from its holdings in nearly thirty years, is undergoing an extensive two-year renovation that makes this opportunity possible. Between January 2013 and January 2014, the Mauritshuis will send thirty-five paintings to the United States, following two stops at Japanese institutions.
The American exhibition opens next winter at de Young/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, traveling on to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta for the summer of 2013. A smaller selection of ten masterpieces will be on view at The Frick Collection in New York from October 22, 2013, through January 12, 2014. Among the works going on tour are the famous Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer and The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius, neither of which will have been seen by American audiences in ten years.
Illustration: Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), Girl with a Pearl Earring, c. 1665, oil on canvas, 44.5 x 39 cm, Mauritshuis, The Hague.
Columbia University Press has announced the publication of The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011, edited by Hilary Ballon, which includes more than 150 illustrations and a gatefold of the original plan. The book accompanies the exhibit of the same name which just opened at the Museum of the City of New York. [Read more…] about The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan