UCLA Library Special Collections Digital Project Toolkit

March 25th, 2015

Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to announce the release of the UCLA Library Special Collections Digital Project Toolkit, available here:


UCLA Library Special Collections Digital Project Toolkit

Please share widely with your colleagues interested in digitization and digital scholarship projects!

The DPTK is designed to support digitization projects and digital scholarship projects that are initiated and managed in archives and special collections repositories, large and small. It includes detailed templates, workflows, and examples for all stages of digital projects, including:

  • Project planning (charters, selection, prioritization, cost estimate)
  • Risk assessment (guidelines and workflow, templates for risk reports and fair use statements)
  • Implementation planning (metadata guidelines and specifications, scanning specifications and procedures, metadata worksheet)
  • Web development planning (example of RFP, and templates for vendor decisions, design/aesthetic/functionality decisions, user profile templates)
  • Quality control workflow and guidelines for metadata and scanning
  • Communication/documentation tool for technical specifications
  • Assessment and evaluation tools and templates

The DPTK was created with the awareness that digitization/digital projects are collaborative efforts between archivists, digital librarians, metadata specialists, technical staff, faculty, and students, and that transparency, cooperation, and good project management are key to their ultimate success.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the many people who wrote, tested, critiqued, and revised the DPTK over its 2 year development, particularly the following staff from UCLA Library Special Collections:

  • Jasmine Jones, former Project Manager for the Los Angeles Aqueduct Digital Platform at UCLA, now the Metadata and Technical Services Archivist at Smith College
  • Gloria Gonzalez, former Digital Archivist at UCLA, now Library Strategist at Zepheira
  • Heather Briston, University Archivist at UCLA
  • Kylie Harris, former scholar at the Center for Primary Research & Training, now Assistant Information Management Officer at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
  • Amrey Mathurin, former scholar at the Center for Primary Research & Training, now Digital Projects Assistant at UCLA Library Special Collections
  • Numerous scholars in the Center for Primary Research & Training at UCLA Library Special Collections

Special thanks to the staff at the Archives of American Art—they may not know it but their Technical Documentation (available at http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/documentation) provided the inspiration for the DPTK.

The DPTK is a work in progress and we welcome your comments and questions! Please direct them to me at jcuellar@library.ucla.edu.




Jillian Cuellar

Head, Center for Primary Research & Training and Digital Initiatives
UCLA Library Special Collections
A1713 Charles E. Young Research Library
Box 951575
Los Angeles, CA  90095-1575

Visualizing the “Friends of the Los Angeles River” Collection

March 17th, 2015

This week, UCLA Library Special Collections wrapped up a months-long project to digitize the administrative records of Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR), a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring the LA River as a natural habitat and a place for recreation. Over the course of the project, not only have we made the fascinating contents of this archive available online, but we have completed a tour of the collection, which can be viewed here.

The collection is not just administrative records. From photographs, to videos of performances on the LA River, to handwritten notes from FoLAR meetings, the FoLAR records are a multimedia glimpse into the planning and passion behind the nonprofit’s many successes. The collection fills over 100 boxes, but Special Collections has made some of the most intriguing material available here.

To give our visitors a sense of the types of material available to them in the FoLAR collection, we visualized its contents. The chart below gives an overview of our digital FoLAR collection, with larger sizes representing greater amounts of material, and color representing the type of material: yellow is photographs, purple is letters, blue is documents, red is administrative records, and green is promotional materials.

Source: This visualization was created with Raw Density Design.

For those interested in what these materials are all about, we have also visualized the topics of the collection’s materials.

Source: This visualization was created with Raw Density Design.

As you might expect, the nature organization’s records are most often concerned with nature – 128 of the items pertain to nature in some way. The diagram shows FoLAR’s most pressing concerns: the restoration of nature, the return of recreation to the LA River, and community education about the river’s past and future. The variety of topics, however, also shows FoLAR’s reach: while nature is at the heart of its mission, its projects are varied, from sponsoring local artists to create art about and along the river, to organizing volunteers for trash clean-up events, to monitoring the river’s water quality. The diversity of materials in the collection reflects FoLAR’s diverse tactics for achieving its mission of making the river a healthy habitat for animals, plants, and humans.


By Allison Hegel and Tori Schmitt, FoLAR Project Team

In Memoriam: Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015

March 12th, 2015

Leonard Nimoy, Portrait Collection (PASC 204), UCLA Library Special Collections.

How could Leonard Nimoy have possibly known that the supporting role he accepted in 1965 on a Gene Roddenberry television pilot would shape his acting future and inspire legions of fans the world over? That a Boston born son of Ukrainian immigrants, who decided to become an actor at the age of eight, and learned his craft in the über intense Method technique, would become synonymous with a pop culture phenomenon is well, as Mr. Spock would say, “not logical.”

Leonard Simon Nimoy was born on March 26, 1931, the second son of an Orthodox Jewish family. According to the New York Times, young Leonard began acting in local community productions during grammar school, a passion he pursued through high school.i Nimoy moved to Hollywood in 1949, shortly after taking a college acting course. By 1951 he was cast in small roles in two forgettable films but making progress when his career was interrupted by two years of military service. After his discharge from the Army, Nimoy returned to California to resume his acting studies at the Pasadena Playhouse whose students included Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman. Nimoy “achieved wide visibility in the late 1950s and early 1960s on television programs like Wagon Train, Rawhide and Perry Mason.”ii Indeed, Roddenberry used examples of successful episodic dramas, especially Wagon Train,iii to devise a template for his idea of a show that would go where no producer had ever gone before.

Segment of “Spock’s Brain” script by Lee Cronin, Gene Roddenberry Star Trek Television Series (PASC 62), UCLA Library Special Collections

The character of Spock, so sensitively portrayed by Nimoy, resonated with audiences from the beginning; Nimoy survived the major casting changes between the initial pilot and the series’ debut in NBC’s prime time schedule in 1966. Nimoy brought subtlety to his portrayal as the Enterprise’s lone alien by using his life experiences to shade and shape the character; Spock’s iconic greeting was Nimoy’s contribution, inspired by memories of his religious upbringing. He brought a certain asceticism to the role, adding a philosophical mien to the rationally advanced, emotionally reticent character. Writers featured Spock prominently in the show’s plot lines. If, at first glance, Spock seemed to be the brain among all the characters, Roddenberry dubbed him “the conscience of Star Trek.” Spock was also, in a less obvious way perhaps, its heart. Journalist Virginia Hefferman noted that Spock was “the most complex member of the Enterprise crew, who was both one of the gang and a creature apart, engaged at times in a lonely struggle with his warring racial halves.”iv This made Spock – with the attendant whiff of miscegenation – a highly provocative figure to be beamed into American living rooms giving those turbulent, racially fraught times. Unfortunately, not even Nimoy’s compelling performance could keep Star Trek on the air. Plagued by low ratings, the show was cancelled after three seasons.

Cultural celebrity came later, slowly at first, then gradually cresting in a wave of tsunami sized popularity that threatened to consume Nimoy. His likeness as Spock became a distinctive brand used to sell related merchandise to children and adults. “I went through a definite identity crisis,” Nimoy wrote in a 1975 memoir titled I Am Not Spock, “the question was whether to embrace Mr. Spock or to fight the onslaught of public interest. I realize now that I really had no choice in the matter. Spock and Star Trek were very much alive and there wasn’t anything that I could do to change that.”v

Leonard Nimoy as “Spock,” Portrait Series (PASC 204), UCLA Library Special Collections

There was more to Nimoy, who died on February 27 at age 83, than Spock, of course. He had many acting roles after Star Trek‘s brief network run, including a recurring role on the long running television espionage thriller Mission: Impossible. Nimoy also enjoyed a fruitful career as a director. Among the film she made were two installments for the successful Star Trek movie franchise, and the box office hit Three Men and a Baby (1987). A renaissance man, Nimoy published books of poetry and photographs; he earned a Master’s Degree in Spanish. Still, he was indefatigably gracious towards, and appreciative of, the millions of aficionados he called trekkers. He understood their enthusiasm. “Given the choice,” he wrote, “if I had to be someone else, I would be Spock.”vi


- By Lauren Buisson, Technical Services

i. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/arts/television/leonard-nimoy-spock-of-star-trek-dies-at-83.html?_r=0
ii. ibid
iii. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek
vi. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/arts/television/leonard-nimoy-spock-of-star-trek-dies-at-83.html?_r=0
v. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-leonard-nimoy-spock-and-the-mixed-blessing-of-an-iconic-role-20150227-story.html
vi. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/arts/television/leonard-nimoy-spock-of-star-trek-dies-at-83.html?_r=0

Uncovering the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden in Special Collections

March 11th, 2015

Research Apprenticeship: Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, class visit to UCLA Library Special Collections.

This quarter, I am teaching a course in UCLA’s Digital Humanities Program titled Research Apprenticeship: Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden.* Each week, my students and I take a new approach to the Sculpture Garden, a hub of North Campus life and home to over 70 sculptures by renowned artists. We have learned about the art historical import of the works in the garden, the people responsible for designing the garden’s landscape, and the challenges of conserving outdoor sculpture, developing over the course of the quarter a deeper appreciation of the Murphy Sculpture Garden and the factors that make it such a significant part of our campus.

George Tsutakawa, fountain sculpture proposal sketch for Obos 69, from University Archives Record Series 640, UCLA Library Special Collections.

Ralph Cornell, North Campus Court Detail View, from University Archives Record Series 640, UCLA Library Special Collections.

One of our most illuminating meetings took place at UCLA Library Special Collections, where Head of Processing Projects Megan Fraser and Project Archivist Jasmine Jones introduced us to the wealth of materials in their files. Drawing from a variety of different collections, Megan and Jasmine uncovered a treasure trove of resources that added a new dimension to what my students had previously learned in lectures and readings. Highlights included a proposal sketch of George Tsutakawa’s fountain sculpture Obos 69, signed by the artist, original plans for and drawings of the garden by the landscape design firm Cornell, Bridgers and Troller, and photos of the Sculpture Garden from its construction in the mid-1960s. For my students to be able to see and hold these documents of the garden’s history was an exciting opportunity, and I was not surprised to see how clearly their visit to Special Collections impacted their research projects. Being exposed to this archive of primary resources helped them to understand the forces behind the Sculpture Garden’s evolution from an idea conceived by UCLA chancellor Franklin D. Murphy in 1960 to the vital space that UCLA students stroll through and congregate today.

*The works in the Murphy Sculpture Garden are in the collection of the Hammer Museum, where I am a staff member.


By Philip Leers, Project Manager for Digital Initiatives, Hammer Museum


The Many Faces of Philanthropy in the 1950s

March 4th, 2015

Do you ever wonder what the local Southern California women’s philanthropic organizations were up to in the 1950s? Then look no further than the Los Angeles Times Society Page negatives in the LA Times Photo Collection here at UCLA Special Collections.

Almost every week, the newspaper would report on and take pictures of the numerous Auxiliaries and their fundraising plans, events and recruitment.

In 1953, the newly founded Volunteer League of San Fernando Valley (still an active organization today) hosted a poolside luncheon to welcome new members.

Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, Negative 82057

The Times also reported on a meeting of the Pasadena Needlework Guild where they planned the schedule of fall activities, even testing to see how many garments would fit into each member’s car for delivery to the their different events.

Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, Negative 82058

Among the many galas and benefit events thrown throughout the year in Los Angeles, in June of 1953, the Junior League (founded in 1926 and still thriving 70 years later) hosted a Just for Fun Party with a travel theme.

Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, Negative 82074

These stories and photos of Women’s Auxiliaries are a major part of this collection, and reflect on the importance of charity work in 1950s Los Angeles. It is interesting to compare these features to the Los Angeles Times Society section today, which focuses primarily on celebrity fundraisers.

What do you think about this emphasis on the detailed documentation of women’s philanthropic work in the 1950s compared to today’s coverage? Is it overkill, or an important historic document of the period?


By Jen O’Leary

The Social History of Food in Dante: A New Ahmanson Fellow at Work in Library Special Collections

March 3rd, 2015

Danielle Callegari, Spring 2015 Ahmanson Research Fellow

Library Special Collections is pleased to welcome Danielle Callegari as an Ahmanson Research Fellow for Spring 2015. The Ahmanson Fellowships are made possible through the generosity of the Ahmanson Foundation, UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and UCLA Library Special Collections. They support research in the medieval and Renaissance book and manuscript collections of the UCLA Library, including the Ahmanson-Murphy Aldine Collection, the Ahmanson-Murphy Early Italian Printing Collection, the Elmer Belt Library of Vinciana, the Orsini Family Papers, the Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts Collection, the Richard and Mary Rouse Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts and Early Printed Books, and the Medieval and Renaissance Arabic and Persian Medical Manuscripts.

Danielle received her Ph.D. in Italian Literature from New York University in 2014, having completed a dissertation on nutritional language and consumption in Dante. Her research interests include medieval Italian literature and material culture, world history of food and foodways, and medieval and early modern European women’s writing and religiosity. Her recent publications include the co-translation of the works of Diodata Malvasia, Writings on the Sisters of San Luca and their Miraculous Madonna (Toronto, CRRS; Tempe, AZ, CMRS, 2015), with Shannon McHugh; the co-edited essay collection by John Freccero, In Dante’s Wake: Reading from Medieval to Modern in the Augustinian Tradition (Fordham, 2015), with Melissa Swain; and her essay “The Danger of Digestion: Assimilation and Growth in Purgatorio 21-25″ in Dante and Heterodoxy: The Temptations of 13th Century Thought, ed. Maria Luisa Ardizzone (Cambridge, 2014).

She comes to the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies as an Ahmanson Fellow in Spring 2015 to work in the UCLA Library Special Collections. While in residence at UCLA she is consulting medieval and early modern medical treatises, dietary regimens, and histories of food and eating, especially those focused on wine and water consumption. This research will be the foundation for a chapter in her forthcoming book, tentatively entitled Crumbs from the Table: The Social History of Food in Dante, an examination of food items in the works of Dante and his contemporaries that will contextualize edibles and eating rituals in the Mediterranean of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and reconsider their representations in the literature of the period.

Afro Mexicans in Early Los Angeles: Exhibit Postscript

February 26th, 2015

This blog posting follows the flash exhibit Afro Mexicans in Early Los Angeles.

Photograph of the Reyes Family. Courtesy of the Miriam Matthews Photographic Collection, UCLA Library Special Collections

Arriving in Los Angeles shortly after the city’s settlement was Juan Francisco Reyes, a mulatto soldier from Zapotlán el Grande in Jalisco. He was both the first Black and the first Hispanic alcalde (or mayor) of Los Angeles from 1793 to 1795. Francisco Reyes was also the Spanish Crown’s first land grantee and the original grantee of the San Fernando Rancho – now the San Fernando Valley. Pictured (above from left) are his great-grandchildren: Margarita, Isidro, Jr., Francisca and Mariá Antonia Villa de Reyes, widow of Ysidro, Sr. who was grandson of Juan Francisco Reyes.

There were many familial intersections among these Californio (descendents of the pobladores or settlers) families. Mariá Antonia Villa de Reyes was the granddaughter of Mariá Rita Quinteros Valdez de Villa whose father was Ls Quintero, one of the pobladores. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ceded California to the United States in 1849. An appeal was then filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852 patenting the 4,449-acre land grant to Mariá Rita Valdez de Villa. The land grant was known as Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas and encompassed the modern-day city of Beverly Hills and the areas of Coldwater and Benedict Canyons. As late as the 1920s a cottage, which was part of the Rancho Rodeo, stood on the corner of Alpine Avenue and Sunset Boulevard.

Ysidro Reyes, Sr., grandson of Juan Francisco Reyes. Photograph courtesy of the Miriam Matthews Photographic Collection, UCLA Library Special Collections

Refugio Reyes de Roberts, great-granddaughter of Juan Francisco Reyes, c. 1870s. Photograph courtesy of the Miriam Matthews Photographic Collection, UCLA Library Special Collections

Photograph of Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas. Courtesy of the Ana Begue Packman Collection, UCLA Library Special Collections.

Among the areas of my own research is the history and culture of Afro-Mexicans. In 2010 I was contacted by Terri de la Pena who is retired from the UCLA College of Letters and Science. Her cousin, Joseph “Joe” Peyton, had researched his family history extensively. Joe’s 6th Great Grandfather was Luis Manuel Quintero, 5th Great Grandfather Juan Francisco Reyes and 4th Great Grandmother Mariá Rita Quinteros Valdez de Villa – all prominent in local history. In one of my articles I referenced Joe’s ancestors. Joe needed research clues for finding his 7th Great Grandparents. Additionally, Joe had not be able to locate any artifacts or images of his ancestors. Happily, I have been able to refer him to relevant images such as those in this blog post.

Terri’s genealogy is equally fascinating as well. She is descended from the Marquez family of Santa Monica who came there in 1839. In 2014 her cousin Ernest Marquez donated a collection of early photographs of Santa Monica and Los Angeles to the Huntington Library. In an interesting aside, Terri, a writer, donated materials related to her first and second novels to LSC as part of the Mazer Collection. Terri is in the process of writing a book on her genealogy.

Photograph of Miriam Matthews, 1981. Courtesy of Charles Matthews.

Miriam Matthews was the first Black professionally trained librarian to be hired in California. A preeminent historian of Los Angeles and Californian African American History, she was a tireless advocate of educating the public about California’s diversity from its beginnings. In 1981, on occasion of the city’s Bicentennial year, a plaque honoring the 44 founders of the City of Los Angeles was placed in the placita of El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park. Each member of the 11 families are listed by name, race, sex, and age from the official Spanish Census of 1781.

Read more on Afro-Mexicans in early Los Angeles:

African-Americans and the Early Pueblo of Los Angeles
L.A.’s African Settlers
Damany, M. Fisher, Discovering Early California Afro-Latino Presence / Heyday Books, 2010.

By Alva Stevenson, Program Coordinator

And the Oscar goes to…

February 24th, 2015

Birdman wins Oscar for Best Picture!

If you missed the Birdman exhibit in this year’s series of flash exhibits on the eight films nominated for Best Picture, here’s a second chance to see it. In honor of Birdman’s win, the exhibit, curated by archivist Lori Dedeyan, will be on view again this week. Stop by to see how Alejandro Iñárritu’s film is connected to Special Collections materials that include Mahler songs, early editions of Don Quijote, and volumes of Carver and Tolstoy from Susan Sontag’s library.


The Illustrated Body: Printing, Anatomy, and Art in the Renaissance

February 19th, 2015

Engraving print portrait of Aldus Manutius

In the second half of the fifteenth century, in the years following the invention of printing with movable type, and the appearance of the earliest printed books, printers began looking for ways to enhance and beautify their texts with illustrations.  An ideal means of printing images in books turned out to be the carved woodblock, traditionally used to print textiles. Woodcuts are so compatible with letterpress printing because both are relief processes, in which only the raised printing surfaces of drawings or letters are inked, the non-printing areas having been cut away.  Thus, once an image had been carved into a woodblock, and the block had been assembled into a page along with lines of type, and locked in a chase, both text and image could be printed together.

Printers now found new purposes for woodcuts, which at first had been used in a limited way primarily for playing cards and single-leaf portraits of saints.  They illustrated devotional texts and Bibles to teach and inspire the faithful, who could identify more easily with the divine through the power of images, and it is not surprising that the first woodcut-illustrated book printed in Italy was Cardinal Torquemada’s Meditationes, printed by Ulrich Han in Rome in 1467. 

With the waning of the Middle Ages and the development of the new humanistic spirit came new types of books and new readers.  Woodcut book illustration began to flourish around 1475: woodcut images appeared in books of popular fables such as Aesop’s Fables, not only to beautify the page, but also to amuse the reader, and underscore the moral lesson of the tale.  Woodcuts served as mnemonic aids and helped to create memory systems and memory places, as in Publicius’ Ars oratoria. They filled the pages of instructional manuals, mathematical and scientific texts, guidebooks, and architectural treatises; and brought to life the texts of classic authors such as Ovid, Virgil and Livy, as well as the many early editions of Dante. The popularity of woodcuts continued through most of the 16th century, until printers turned to engravings in response to a demand for greater precision and detail.

This exhibit was mounted in conjunction with “The Illustrated Body: Printing, Anatomy, and Art in the Renaissance,” an international symposium held at UCLA on February 27-28, 2015 to celebrate the 500th anniversaries of the death of the great scholar-printer Aldus Manutius, and the birth of Andreas Vesalius, father of modern anatomy. 

The books displayed here have been drawn from Library Special Collections’ extensive holdings of Renaissance books, including the great Ahmanson-Murphy Aldine Collection, the Ahmanson-Murphy Early Italian Printing Collection, the Elmer Belt Library of Vinciana, the John A. Benjamin Collection of Medical History, and History and Special Collections for the Sciences.  These “illustrated bodies” document the changing face of woodcut illustrated books over the course of almost one hundred years, and represent a great variety of styles, ranging from the blunt woodcuts of Aesop done in a popular folk style, and the mysterious line drawings of Aldus’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, to the magnificently-detailed anatomical woodcuts of Vesalius’ Fabrica.

Portrait of Vesalius from De humani corporis fabrica

The exhibit was curated by librarians Russell Johnson and Jane Carpenter. Karen Konnect of konnectDesign created the design elements; Octavio Olvera designed and executed the exhibit installation; and Cindy Newsome provided planning assistance and administrative coordination. 

Pet Pictures Before Instagram

February 18th, 2015

Before LolCats, Grumpy Cat and family dog Instagram accounts, how did people get their fix of adorable animals? In Southern California, the Los Angeles Times filled the need for pet pictures through Features run throughout the year.

In September 1953, the LA Times ran a layout on National Dog Week, highlighting Paul Shelton’s new family member adopted from the Ann Street Animal Shelter.

Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, Negative 83205

A profile on Great Dane Alexis von Essen and his heroism award ran in 1953, after he alerted his family to a house fire, allowing them to escape.

Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, Negative 83205

We certainly can’t forget the Pet Show at Polytechnic Elementary School in Pasadena in April 1953, when Bert Walker entered the competition with his pet goat.

Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, Negative 81107

These are only a few of the thousands of family pets, stray animals and zoological mischief featured in the LA Times and UCLA Library Special Collections’ Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive is lucky enough to hold the negatives.

By Jen O’Leary