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History 479A (Spring 2021)

Course guide for History 479A (The Urbanization of American Life), Spring 2021.

Course Project

History 479A students will develop a digital exhibit focusing on San Francisco, California. The resources included on this page have been selected by the Digital Literacy Librarian for their particular relevance to the course assignment.

Recommended Digital Archives & Repositories

Following are some general search strategies – applicable to any archive or repository – to locate digital content for use in your exhibit project. The tabs to the right focus on suggested repositories, and include any strategies that are more specific to each of those websites and collections.

Place Names

Search for digital media that pertains to specific present-day and historical place names associated with San Francisco:

  • neighborhoods, buildings, civic institutions, etc.
  • geographic features such as bridges, parks, rivers, etc., and
  • infrastructure systems such as street names, buildings, public transportation, shipping and cargo,
  • events such as earthquakes, the gold rush, sports events, ceremonies, fairs, celebrations, etc.

Community Groups

Search for digital media that pertains to specific groupings of people who lived in/hear or interacted with the are over time:

  • indigenous communities,
  • immigrant or ethnic communities,
  • cultural groups and associations
  • types of occupations, and 
  • demographic groups such as women, children, etc.

Why Calisphere?

The California focus of Calisphere makes it particularly suited to the course assignment. Calisphere allows you to filer your search results on different facets such as media type (image, text, sound, etc.), and by decade, 


Discovery Tool Strategies

Filtering on Your Search Results

After entering your search term(s) on Calisphere, it can be helpful to filter your query by one or any of the following criteria. Each criteria point listed here corresponds to the same number on the screenshot below:

  1. enter or change your main search criteria in the site-wide search box,
  2. refine those initial search results by entering an additional search term in the "Search within results" box,
  3. filter your search results by the type of media item (image, text, sound, etc.), and/or
  4. filter your search results by decade.

Search Tip: There is no ability to filter on public domain items. A suggested workaround is to use the search term "public domain" in the main search box, or in the option to search within your results. While that will also retrieve items that use the term "public domain" in general item record metadata fields (like a description field that describes public domain land grants), it will also bring up any items that have the term public domain in the rights information metadata field.

 

Calisphere allows you to refine your search with an additional term, or to filter your search results by media type or decade.

 

Browsing Calisphere Exhibitions

The Exhibitions feature on Calisphere can be a useful discovery tool. Each exhibition focuses on a particular theme and curates select digital media that tell story around that theme. You can access the Exhibitions by clicking on that tab in the site-wide navigation menu (shown below with a red arrow). This brings up a random collection of exhibitions. Use the Browse All button (outlined below in the red box) to access all exhibitions.

The Exhibitions feature on Calisphere can be a useful discovery tool for identifying digital media curated around a particular theme.


Analyzing Calisphere Item Records

Pay attention to these particular sections of each Calisphere item record that you review from your search results. The numbers in this list correspond to the numbers displayed on the graphic below.

  1. A low resolution preview of the digital object, with a link to its related item record on the contributing institution's digital repository. Following that link can sometimes take you to higher resolution versions to use.
  2. The title field contains the official digital for the digital object.
  3. The date created or issued field indicates the particular date associated with the digital object.
  4. The contributing institution field identifies what particular library or archive holds the original object.
  5. The rights information field indicates if copyright applies, if the object resides in the public domain, if a Creative Commons license applies, or if the copyright status is unknown. The screenshots further down on this page show several examples.
  6. The description field provides background information about the digital object.
  7. The type and format field describe the nature of the original archival object. In this example, that original object is a black and white photograph.
  8. The bottom section of the item record displays a thumbnail feed of similar items in Calisphere.

The numbered sections on this Calisphere item record correspond to the explanations described in the above list.

 

Example: Public Domain Image

The Rights Information field on the item record for a circa 1910 photo of a winter orange grove, resides in the public domain. That field is emphasized in the image below with a purple box.

The Rights Information field on the item record for a circa 1910 photo indicates the photo resides in the public domain.

 

 

Example: Contact the Lending Institution

The Rights Information field on the item record for a historic photo of the Pio Pico Branch Library building indicates that the lending institution – in this case, the Los Angeles Public Library – must be contacted to inquire into using this image. That field is emphasized in the image below with a purple box.

The Rights Information field on this item record advises that the lending institution must be contacted to inquire into using this photo.

 

Example: Unknown Copyright Status

The Rights Information field on the item record for a photo of an early 20th century farming scene in Whittier has an unknown copyright status. That field is emphasized in the image below with a purple box.

This item record for an early 20th century photograph of Whittier indicates it has unknown copyright status.

 

Why CDNC?

The California-focus of the California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC) makes it particularly suited to the course assignment. Aside from providing valuable primary source research material, historical newspapers can be used as visual imagery in an interpretive plan and public history programming material, such as: a screenshot of a page or headline, photos and illustrations from the articles, and copies of advertisements.


Identifying Newspapers for a Particular Area

To identify historical newspapers in the CDNC for a particular location, you can generate a list of publications by California county.

  1. Click on the Browse menu item in the sit-wide menu displayed at the top of the website.
  2. Select the Counties option to display a map of all present-day California Counties.
  3. Click on the desired county from the map (in this example, Los Angeles County).

TIP: Although Pio Pico Sate Park is located in Los Angeles County, you may want to look at newspapers from neighboring counties as well.

The steps displayed here to identify newspapers for a particular California county correspond to the instructions noted above.


Filtering on Your Search Results

 

After entering your search term(s) on CDNC, it can be helpful to filter your query by one or any of the following criteria. Each criteria point listed here corresponds to the same letter on the screenshot below:

A) by newspaper publication title,

B) by news item category (article, illustration, advertisement, etc.), or

C) by publication decade and/or year.

 

After entering your search terms, it can be helpful to filter your CDNC query by publication, category, or decade.

Why Wikimedia Commons?

Wikimedia Commons is a digital media repository run by the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization behind Wikipedia. Many government institutes and cultural heritage organizations, along with individuals, contribute their collections to Wikimedia Commons to make them freely available and more discoverable.

Analyzing Wikimedia Commons Item Records

Pay attention to these particular sections of each Wikimedia Commons item record that you review from your search results. The numbers in this list correspond to the numbers displayed on the graphics below.

  1. The metadata immediately below the image describes the different sizes available for the attached image, and provides a link to each.
  2. The metadata Summary box provides a description of the attached image, the date associated with the image, a source link to the contributing institution's own item record, and the individual or organization credited with authorship (such as the photographer).
  3. The Licensing box provides rights information, indicating which Wikimedia Commons reside in the public domain (usually with an explanation), and which have a Creative Commons license applied (stating the specific license and terms).

 

Example Item Record for a Public Domain Image

For the numbered section of this item record, please refer to the explanation above.

This example public domain item record from a Wikimedia Commons search for "Whittier Narrows" has numbered sections that correspond to the explanations noted above.

 

Example Item Record for a Creative Commons Image

For the numbered section of this item record, please refer to the explanation above.

This example Creative Commons item record from a Wikimedia Commons search for "Whittier Narrows" has numbered sections that correspond to the explanations noted above.

Digitized Maps

About Sanborn Maps

Sanborn Maps were produced by the Sanborn Map Company during the 19th and 20th centuries for use by fire insurance companies in urban areas of the United States and some other countries. These details maps plotted out each structure on each street, waterways, railroads, parks, etc. These provide an excellent look back in time at a city or other urban area, and can be overlaid on top of present day maps using tools like Google Earth.

Library of Congress Collection

The Library of Congress provides free access to Sanborn Maps that <strong>reside in the public domain</strong>. Many of these have been digitized and are available online.