Monthly Archives: October 2012

Oct. 31, 2012 – Landon and Riddell; Plug-ins and JPG v. PNG

I had more success this week than the week before, technologically.  I also met my objectives on the research front.  I began looking through the Fred Landon book, Ontario’s African-Canadian Heritage: Collected Writings by Fred Landon, 1918-1967.  I decided to start with the earliest article in the book, published in 1918, entitled “The History of the Wilberforce Refugee Colony in Middlesex County.”  I noticed two things.  First, some of the articles had no endnote references.  For example, articles published in the London Free Press did not use endnotes.  However, articles published in The Journal of Negro History did use endnotes.  Second, my early impression is that the content and tone of this 1918 article is consistent with the content and tone of Benjamin Drew’s accounts in his 1856 book, A north-side view of slavery: The refugee; or, The narratives of fugitive slaves in Canada related by themselves.

I also was successful in finding an article by Justice William Renwick Riddell.  It is entitled “The Slave in Upper Canada,” and was published in The Journal of Negro History in 1919.  I have not yet read it, but hope it will reveal more about Canada’s continued support for Blacks (or lack of it) from a legal perspective.

In my previous blog, I mentioned that by installing the Doc Viewer plug-in on my exhibit, I was able to view a picture.  That reminded me of something in my notes from the Cohen and Rosenzweig article on presenting digital history on the web.  Not only had I made a note to include the Doc Viewer plug-in, but also to include the Simple Pages and the Exhibit Builder plug-ins.  So, throwing caution to the wind, I installed both and quickly created a new Simple Page, a collection, an exhibit, a section and a page within the section.  It was a bit unclear to me initially how all these objects relate to each other, but I have arrived at what I think is the right set of relationships.  See below…

But despite all of this new stuff in my exhibit, my picture was still showing up buried at the bottom to the Item screen.  The Omeka help desk advised me that my picture should not be JPG format but rather GIF or TIF or PNG.  It took me a while to figure out how to save my picture as PNG, but once done and uploaded to the site, it opened perfectly above the caption and text on my new exhibit page.  I added another picture of a map, just to test out the new method, and it is now there too.

So this coming week I will see if I can organize all this new material a bit better.  I will also continue to review the Fred Landon book and try to also look at the Justice Riddell article.

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Oct. 24, 2012 – Landon, Photographs, and Riddell

This week I continued to push forward with both my research and my exhibit creation.  The latter was a bit frustrating but for the former, I was able to obtain a copy of the book of Fred Landon writings.  As I mentioned last week, Fred Landon is considered to be a pioneer in the study of Black History in Canada.  He had a wide-ranging career as a journalist, librarian and archivist, but it may have been his early work as a sailor on the Great Lakes lake ships that gave him an interest in working class people, and the Black community.  He obtained a Master’s degree in history at the age of thirty-nine, and was president or chairman of several local, provincial and national historical societies through his life.  He became the first vice-President of the University of Western Ontario in 1946, at age sixty-six, and a year later the first Dean of Graduate Studies.  Upon retirement he was given honorary doctorates of letters from Western, and of laws, from McMaster University.  Through the book of his writings, entitled Ontario’s African-Canadian Heritage: Collected Writings by Fred Landon, 1918-1967, I hope to get a better understanding of the evolution of Black history in Canada through the early and middle part of the twentieth century.

I also made progress, as planned, on my exhibit.  I found a very interesting photograph of the first volunteer military corps in British Columbia, called the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps.  Interestingly, this first corps, which existed from 1861-1865, was made up of Black volunteers.  It was commonly known as the African Rifles.  Being in the public domain, I was able to go ahead and post it to my exhibit.  However, it took quite awhile, numerous tries and several emails to the Omeka help desk, before I realized that I needed a document viewing plug-in module to enable the picture to show up in the exhibition space.  I also added some background text and filled in some of the background data, but the picture still doesn’t appear on the main page.  It seems to me that it should be the first thing you see.  As it is now you must click on the ‘more’ button and then scroll all the way to the bottom to see the picture.

So that will be a job for this week.  I will figure out how to make my picture appear on the main page.  I will also start to review the Fred Landon book.  From my early reading of this book, it seems that there was another historian working closely with Landon on the same subject of Ontario Black history: namely, Justice William Renwick Riddell.  I will spend some time this week looking for good source material by him.  This Justice Riddell ‘find’ is noteworthy for two reasons: 1) there are not very many historians of Black history during this middle period, and 2) the Canadian legal perspective concerning Black Canadians was supportive of Blacks in the mid-nineteenth century and led to some precedent-setting court cases.  I will be interested to see if the Canadian courts continued to be supportive of the Black community on into the twentieth century.

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Oct. 17, 2012 – Bibliography and Exhibit Launched

With my Project Proposal finished and submitted, I have turned my attention to the real research and the exhibit.   I spent time this week working on a bibliography of sources, and also got the exhibit site launched.

I have divided the bibliography into three categories:  the early works up to 1920, the period between 1920 and 1960, and publications post-1960.  I may end up changing those groupings but will have to do more work to see what the major changes were and when they happened.  My sense is that there is early documentation that was recorded while slavery in the U.S. was still in effect.  As well, in the decades following Emancipation, people tended to record the narratives of former slaves and free blacks living in Canada.  And my initial sense of it is that only some decades later did historians begin to examine Black history from a more detached perspective.  This was also the period that Social History became popular.  I came across a historian named Fred Landon who is considered the originator of the study of Black history in Canada.  He was born in London Ontario, and wrote many journal articles through the twentieth century.   Karolyn Smardz Frost and a number of others have recently published a book compiling Fred Landon’s work.  I chose to begin the third segment in 1960, thinking that changes in historical interpretation may have occurred along the 1960s Black civil rights movement, although perhaps that should start in the 1950s.  My bibliographical search for publications seems like it could become a bit endless, but I am going to continue for a while and see if the same names start to crop up over and over.  That is happening a bit already.  I also need to look for more publications pre-1970.

Also this week I went back to the Omeka site and looked at their tutorial as well as a selection of samples they provided.  With that information, and the notes I had taken from the Cohen and Rosenzweig book, I was able to create the beginnings of an exhibit.  It is called – for lack of a more creative title: “Black History in Canada.”  At least people won’t be confused as to what it is about.  So far it only has a description.

So over the next week, I will aim to look at more sources for my bibliography and especially works from the pre-1970 period.  And I think I would like to try to find a picture that I can post on my exhibit.  I will likely post something for which the copyright restrictions have expired so that I don’t have to worry about permissions.

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Oct. 10, 2012 – Project Proposal Done and Exhibition Samples Examined

Over the past week I managed to get my Project Proposal finished and will submit it today.  I know it’s coming in a bit early but it’s technically due on the same day as a grant application, so things are piling up a bit.  I also had a look at the two links you sent me, Professor Graham.  The one with the sample online exhibits was interesting to see, just to get an idea of what other people have done.  I especially liked the New Steel Navy exhibition.  I might go for something like that.  I like its mix of pictures and interesting text narrative.  Is that the sort of thing you were thinking of?  I also looked at the Q&A site and found a number of good questions about Omeka.

One of the links mentioned that the Omeka site has a tutorial and I think that will be my next step.  I have some ideas now on what I want the exhibit to be like, so I’m getting ready to try setting something up.  One thing I’m not sure about is the limits on Omeka.Net.  It seems to me I recall that I can only have four pages, but I’m not sure what constitutes a ‘page.’

Over the past few weeks while I’ve been working on my Project Proposal, as well as my grant proposal and doing some other research, I’ve come across some documents that look like they could provide some good places to start on my research survey/historiography.  I’ve been saving them for further examination and possible inclusion in this project.

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Oct. 3, 2012 – Project Proposal and Omeka

In my third week I made good progress on a couple of things.  I continued to work on my Project Proposal, adding some historical background by way of an introduction.  I expect to have it ready for submission on October 15.  I also created my Omeka account but have not yet begun creating a website.  I decided to read up a bit on website design and noticed that Omeka recommended Daniel Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig’s book Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web.  This was the same book that Professor Graham recommended so I have been going through it and getting some ideas about design and copyright.

It seems that copyrights may become an issue for this project since I have no budget to pay for them, and will have to limit myself to trying to get free permissions.  It seems that copyrights are a complicated business, including what requires a copyright and what just needs a citation.

I also had a problem with this post.  In fact, this is the second time I’ve written this.  I tried to publish the same post before and it disappeared.  This time I will keep at copy before pressing “Publish Post” so I won’t have to type it all out again.  Not sure what happened to the last one.

Professor Graham also posted a comment recently suggesting I look at a couple of other things, and I intend to do that this week, as well as to finalize the Project Proposal.

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