Jon Kay on June 8, 2011

The Greenwood Cemetery in Tell City in Perry County can boast some of the most distinctive sandstone markers in Indiana. Carved from a dark red colored stone,

these stones standout on the hillside. While walking through the graveyard, I spotted this stone signed Hinkel.This stone could have been carved by William Hinkel, a “stonemason” from Hess Darmstadt, who was listed in the 1880s census.

It is interesting to note that the ornate oak

leaves that protrude from the perimeter of the marker are very similar to the leaves that adorn St. Michael Catholic church in Cannelton. It seems reasonable to believe that Hinkel might have worked on this church or was at least inspired by this decorative trim. At the age of 34, Hinkel was drafted into the Union Army in 1863, and at that time he was already skilled as a stone mason.

Draft Role 1863

 

 

 

According to the 1880s census, Hinkel’s wife, Elizabeth was a Swiss immigrant and their eldest daughter Fredericka was “hired out” by the time she was 16 years old.  Elizabeth and William also had a 12-year daughter in 1880, who was enrolled in school in Perry County.

1880s Census, Perry County, Indiana

I would love to hear from family or community members who have more information about this talented artisan. Please contact me.

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I saw this old Quaker Meeting house in Orange County Indiana, last month on my way to Kentucky for a music festival. I judged by the Greek Revival style that the building probably dated to the 1840s or 50s, so I did a quick u-turn to explore. I discovered an old graveyard behind with several old siltstone or whetstone makers dating from the early1850s. Geologist Dick Powell, I had taught me a little about this distinctive stone once quarried in Orange County and its popular use for gravestones. However, whetstone was a primarily used as sharpening stones, which was an early Indiana export.

The durable stone produced beautiful makers, with sharp details, compared to the sandstone, limestone and marble stones of the same period. Nevertheless, whetstone, as this stone demonstrates, was prone to layers of the stone splitting or flaking away over time.

This stone carved for Joel Lindley in the 1850s shows a stylized rose as the primary motif on the marker. Some contend that the term “consort means that a couple were a common-law marriage). However, Ancestry.com shows that Joel and Mary Lindley were married in Orange County. The 1850 Census shows that Joel had two children Anna and Joseph, but there were three other adults also living in his home in French Lick: Virginia Suel (25), Alfred Hatiway (22) and George Suel (20). Joel’s wife Mary’s maiden name was Mary Ann Sewall, so probably the “Suel’s” were her relatives.

One can imagine that the single rose represents the love of the two.

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Jon Kay on June 5, 2011

I took my Indiana Folklore class to the Rose Hill cemetery in Bloomington  last week. They learned about the motifs, types of materials and the significance of some of the types of stone we researched in the cemetery. The next class meeting we used Ancestry Library Edition to research the carvers and the people buried  to see if our thoughts were the same. I selected this stone for James and Ida Banks. When I researched it, I discovered that James was a “Quarryman” from Bloomington, working in the limestone quarries. The stone probably depicts a heavenly mansion.

Rose Hill has a nice brochure for a self guided tour. I want to thank Barbara Dunbar from the Parks Department and Lou Malcomb from the IU Library for helping with our cemetery research.

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Jon Kay on May 30, 2011

While driving through Southern Indiana, I stopped at a small antique/ junk shop. in hopes of finding handmade objects that reflect the culture, aesthetics and values of  the  communities that I visit. I rummaged through boxes of several old tools, religious memorabilia (it was a historically Catholic community). In the back o t the store, I found an unusual contraption, a turnip kraut cutter. I had had turnip kraut before, as it seems to be a popular side dish in Dubois County, Indiana, where I was. I had heard several stories from locals about how turnip kraut and turtle soup were the local delicacy looks like a cross between spaghetti and sour kraut.  The cutter produces long noodle-like strands of turnips, which are pickled. Now, I am not a big “turnip” fan. My feeling is that the best part of a turnip grows above ground and I like it cooked like spinach, but, if I have to eat turnip roots, turnip kraut is the best way I have found.

While a traditional “kraut cutter” for cabbage based kraut is a board and cradle that slides the cabbage over several blades that shred the cabbage, a turnip kraut cutter is a hand-cranked utensil that turns the turnip over a segmented blade cutting it into long strings. I understand this is a traditional German dish, but I have had something very similar in a Korean restaurant.

Once while I was doing research for podcast about turtle soup, the bartender told my friends and me that a menstruating woman could not make kraut because it would not ferment correctly. I don’t know about that, but I am sure it helped many women get out of this time consuming craft, who really didn’t want to do it.

While my first instinct was to buy this artifact, I am in a “12-step” program to stop buying folk crafts and handmade tools (that I will never use). My aim is that my wife can park her car in the garage next winter.  Instead, I took a picture of the cutter to share on my blog. I would love to hear more comments about turnip kraut. Also, feel free to post your pictures and recipes.

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In this episode, I sit down and talk with my friend and fellow folklorist Jason Baird Jackson to discuss the topic of the “Creative Commons.”  Jason’s research touches upon issues of intellectual property and heritage making in native communities in the United States.  He points out that the work of the commons tries to provide a greater number of options for rights holders. So why should listener’s to the Artisan Ancestor podcast care about intellectual property rights?  Whether you are recording oral histories, writing a family history or sharing your photographs, the Creative Commons allows you to protect your work and while still making it available to the world. In this conversation, we talk about how this approach to sharing your creative and scholarly work.

In addition to being an associate professor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, he is the editor of Museum Anthropology Review, a digital journal for museum professionals and material culture scholars. He is also the author of the ethnography Yuchi Ceremonial Life.

 

 

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In this episode, I talk with Milan Opacich a National Heritage Fellow, tamburitza musician and luthier.  We discuss his life’s work of collecting artifacts, instruments and ephemera related to tamburitza in the United States. Writing for the ethnic magazine, Serb World USA, he has chronicled the history of this often-overlooked genre of music. Opacich received the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship in 2004, along such notables as Koko Taylor and Jerry Douglas. From the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery as well as the Roy Acuff Museum in Nashville, Milan has exhibited his instruments. Though well into his eighties, he continues to make tamburitzas for musicians in the Serbian and Croatian communities of Indiana’s Calumet region. While many of the old luthiers were secretive about their trade when Milan was learning, Opacich is an open and supportive teacher having taught hundreds of enthusiasts to make their own instruments.

Also in this program, Milan and I discuss our concerns about proposed changes to the National Heritage Awards in Washington DC and its potential affects to the ongoing well-being of our countries diverse cultural arts and traditions.

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Jon Kay on May 6, 2011

Studying historic needlework offers a perspective into the complex lives of women often not present in the written records of the 18th and 19th centuries. Material culture scholar Susan Schoelwer authored Connecticut Needlework: Women, Art, and Family, 1740–1840, which included pieces from the Connecticut Historical Society’s rich Collection of period needlework. In my conversation with Dr. Schoelwer, she explains how needlework from bed rugs to samplers provides a more complete accounting of the values, aesthetics and lives for women in Connecticut. Schoelwer received her Master of Arts from the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in 1978 and she completed her PhD in American studies from Yale in 1994. Today, she is a museum curator at one of the most prominent historic sites in the United States, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate.

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Jon Kay on April 30, 2011

Come to this free workshop, and I will explain four ways I know this image was taken during the Civil War. I am looking forward to teaching this workshop at the Lilly Library on

To register please call:
812-855-2452
The Lilly Library
  • Date: Saturday, May 14, 2011
  • Location: The Lilly Library on the IU Bloomington Campus
  • Time: 10:00 am-1:00 pm
  • Cost: Free to the Public
This free workshop is brought to you in part by
Traditional Arts Indiana and The Lilly Library – Indiana University Bloomington

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Jon Kay on April 30, 2011

Here is the second installment of the fieldwork Guide that Anna and I put out last year. Would love to hear back from folks who are listening to it. In this Traditional Arts Indiana video, I  discuss  tips and suggestions for conducting  fieldwork interviews for the traditional arts. I try to explain how to  how to get more complete responses to my questions rather than a yes or a no.  The overarching thing is to not be afraid of silence, ask open questions and build the relationship between you and your interviewee. Enjoy,

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Jon Kay on April 29, 2011

Master Drummer Dr. Djo Bi to Perform this Sunday

Dr. Djo Bi Simon Irie is a master drummer from the village of Bangofla in Côte d’Ivoire. He began drumming at the age of five with his family of Guro musicians and dancers in West Africa. By his teens he launched a musical career that has taken him throughout much of the world. His extraordinary talent and skill have led him to be recognized as “the Doctor,” as he melds traditional Ivorian rhythms with original and innovative sounds on the djembe. This Sunday, May 1, he will perform in a special free concert at Max’s Place in Bloomington at 2 p.m.

Dr. Djo Bi leads a drumming and dance school based in Bloomington, which incorporates the Bangofla Music Ensemble, the school’s student troupe; as well as Asafo, the band led by Dr. Djo Bi himself. The performance will feature both groups, and public participation is welcomed and encouraged. The show will offer something for everyone, for those content to listen and watch, or get up and dance. Audience members will join others around the world as they experience the virtuosic drumming, magnetic personality, and irresistible smile of Dr. Djo Bi for themselves.

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Jon Kay on April 28, 2011

The first installment of a series of videos that I did with Anna Batcheller and Suzanne Godby Ingalsbe at Traditional Arts Indiana. I will post the others in the weeks to come. This clip talks about thinking about and preparing to do a folklore or oral history interview.

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Jon Kay on April 25, 2011

In this episode I talk with Yang Cai about his research work doing 3-D scanning of gravestones and rock art. This new technology allows scholars to reveal information and patters thought lost to the ages by setting a laser line on a stone and measuring the refraction of this line, which allows the researchers to measure depth and reveal patters that might not be noticeable to the naked eye. A Senior Systems Scientist at CyLab, Dr. Cai is founder of Visual Intelligence Studio at Carnegie Mellon University.  He is also a dedicated artist and stone carver, which has attracted him to scanning both historical and prehistorical stone carvings.  Since Dr. Cai’s professional research interests include image understanding and ambient intelligence, he married his interest in in stone carving with his science to produce a useful tool and system, which he hopes will be made available to the public some day. While his 3D scanning does reveal faded data, he cautions that in order for this system to work some residual data must be present. This caution coupled with the recent escalation of erosion and damage to many stones  from acid rain, makes this avenue of great interest to me as a material culture scholar and gravestone enthusiasts. 

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Jon Kay on April 22, 2011

Robert Tarule makes reproductions of 17th Century joined furniture. In his book The Artisan of Ipswich, he crafts a story that centers around a chest made by Thomas Dennis  in the Massachusetts village of Ipswich in the mid 1600s. Robert narrates Dennis’ use of tools, techniques and styles.  In this interview, I talk with Tarule about the connection between making objects and understanding historical processes and contexts.  The author also talks about his work at Plimoth Plantation where he was the Curator of Mechanick Arts before he retired.

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In this free workshop, I put on my hat as a Historic Photograph Researcher and  teach participants how to identify the various types of historic photographs and how to care for them. As an avid student of vernacular images, I will share tips and tricks for reading and better understanding old photographs. Participants are encouraged to bring family and local images to discuss and analyze at the workshop. I will cover the tools used to identify photographic materials, discuss the various formats of old images, and share images from his collection of historic images.

 

To register please call:
812-855-2452
The Lilly Library
  • Date: Saturday, May 14, 2011
  • Location: The Lilly Library on the IU Bloomington Campus
  • Time: 10:00 am-1:00 pm
  • Cost: Free to the Public
This free workshop is brought to you in part by
Traditional Arts Indiana and The Lilly Library – Indiana University Bloomington

 

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Jon Kay on April 15, 2011

A few weeks ago, my 93 year old grandmother sent me to the basement to look for an old stoneware jar that she wanted to show me. While I didn’t find the jar I found a “shuckin peg” in an old basket. I recognized the tool as a necessary tool for shucking or removing the husk from field corn. I had seen these tools before, but this one was homemade. I took it upstairs and showed it to my grandmother (Granny Axsom), and I asked what it was. She replied, Oh that’s grandpa’s shuckin’ peg. As I sat there, she told me how her grandfather use to make them for my grandfather when “Pappy” was young. Pap was a champion corn shucker and Granny’s grandpa always had him compete in shucking his corn. She recalled how even in his old age, he would make these tools for family and friends. Today, I have the shuckin peg in my office to remind me how a simple object can reveal a story or a part of history. Had I not showed the peg to Granny, I would never have known this about this special relationship between my grandfather and his grandfather-in-law in Southern Indiana.

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Maureen Taylor, the “Photo Detective” is a genealogist and photo researcher who helps researchers unlock mysteries from the past. From the PBS series Ancestors to the popular magazine Martha Stewart Living, this photo researchers has helped others recognize the importance of family photographs and encouraged them to preserve and annotate their family collections. Maureen is the author of several practical books on photographic images and the history surrounding them. She writes articles for several popular magazines and is currently a contributing editor for Family Tree Magazine.

Maureen’s most recent book, Finding the Civil War presents portraits and pictures from Civil War years and encourages readers to discover their own families stories from this decisive moment in history.  She is also working on a a follow up text to her work The Last Muster, which explores the images and stories of people from the Revolutionary War.

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An Emmy Award-winning archival image researcher, Rich Remsberg assists documentary film makers locate the necessary archival footage and still photos that they need to visually tell their stories.  From scouring collection at the National Archive to tracking down rare one of a kind materials held in personal and family collections, he prides himself on uncovering images, even the most ardent scholars have never seen.
He is also the author of the new book, based upon images from the Farm Security Administration (FSA) Archive, Hard Luck Blues. The book pulls together an amazing collection of images featuring musicians recorded by the FSA in the 1930s.  He is also the curator of “Found in the Archives” an NPR series that features archival films, and found images uncovered by Rich.  His work can be found online at Atlas Films.

 

 

 

Rich Remsberg of www.atlasfilms.org

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Jon Kay on March 25, 2011

 

Folklorist Tim Tangherlini

Folklorist Tim Tangherlini employs a research approach he calls, “computational folkloristics” which uses data-mining to reveal new information, once thought lost to the past. He deploys computers to plot, compare, store and assist in the analysis of data from various archival holdings from around the world. His method places historical individuals in richer cultural, social and behavioral context than can be done from just reading the information contained in decontextualized documents. This episode represents a departure for the Artisan Ancestors Podcast in that we look at the narrative aspects of expressive culture from the past, rather than focusing on material culture. I chose to do this impart because I think that Tim’s approach could be applied to material culture studies, and that it provides another approach at learning about the creative lives of people from the past.

 

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An Indian-head pot by Sara Ayers (Image Courtesy of Stephen Criswell).

In this final installment of our series on Catawba Pottery in South Carolina, I talk with Stephen Criswell a folklorist and director of the Native American Studies program at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster. Much of his work focuses on conducting oral history with Catawba potters and tradition bearers who work to conserve the Catawba language and culture. He discusses his program and how it came into existence. He also talks about the projects that he and his students have worked on in collaboration with the Catawba Indian Nations. ( There are some issues right now with my feed, which is keeping this episode from linking to Itunes. Until I get it resolved with my host, it might only be available from the website; Sorry).

A double horse-head pot by Earl Robbins (Image courtesy of Stephen Criswell).

 

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Native American Studies Archive

Brent Burgin is the archivist and director of the Native American Studies Archives at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster, an institution that holds one of the largest and most impressive collection of Catawba  pottery.  He has worked with scholars such as Thomas Blumer and Stephen Criswell to help preserve and archive important documents and artifacts about Southeastern Pottery Traditions. The Archive at USC Lancaster  helps raise awareness and improve access to information about the South Carolina’s rich Native American cultures and their histories.

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Jon Kay on February 25, 2011

Georgia Harris, Catawba Potter

In this episode, we start to explore pottery produced by artisans from the Catawba Nation in South Carolina. This is part one of a three part series on this age old art.  In part one of our exploration of this earthenware tradition.  I talk with Bill Harris, a Catawba potter who learned to make this soft Native American redware from his grandmother Georgia Harris. He talks about his grandmother, who was recognized with a National Heritage Fellowship in 1996. Bill explains that his Catawba genealogy can be traced through pottery and the artisans who kept this skill in continual practice for thousands of years. In the follow-up podcasts I will interview an archivist and a researcher, who have worked to study this beautiful and distinctive art form, and are working to raise awareness and understanding about this ancient craft.

Bill Harris, Catawba Potter

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Jon Kay on February 25, 2011

I am teaching a workshop this weekend on the Identification, Care and Handling of Historic Photographs. I am not an expert in this area, but I am a firm believer that the only way to really learn something is to teach it. So as I was pulling together information of the workshop I started thinking that some of these simple tips might be of interest to my readers. So I am going to share a few of them over the next few weeks.

If you are like I use to be, most of your photographs are shoved in envelopes, stuffed in boxes or maybe mounted in albums. You know that your not taking care of them but the cost and time just seems insurmountable. Well, here is a simple first step to get you started on the process. Make some archival sleeves for your images. Be sure to use archival paper that is both acid/ligin free. You should be able to order this at a paper supply or archival store. You then cut and folk the paper as the diagram above and below shows.  Make sure you start each sheet by placing the photograph in the middle of the sheet and folding it so each sleeve fits the size of the photograph. Good luck with taming that box of images. I will share some other tips in the weeks to come.

 


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Jon Kay on February 21, 2011

Photograph of Leonard Todd in front of the Edgefield County Courthouse by Brook Facey.

What would you do if you found out that your ancestors were slaveholders who owned one of the most talented folk potters in South Carolina? When Leonard Todd found himself in this situation, he committed himself to a six-year journey of discovery about the Life and work of an enslaved artisan named Dave.  In this episode, I talk with Leonard about his research and his book. He shares how he collected oral histories, combed through family papers and studied pots while researching his book, Carolina Clay: The Life and Legend of the Slave Potter, Dave.

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Jon Kay on February 7, 2011

A couple of months ago, I did an interview with Jennifer Core of the Tennessee Sampler Survey. She just emailed me to let me know that the Survey as part of their exhibition at James K. Polk Home, Middle Tennessee Samplers: “This My Name Shall Ever Havethey have announced a symposium. A list of scheduled events and information on the symposium is posted to the left. The registration deadline for the symposium is Tues., Feb. 15, 2011.

A gallery guide has been published in conjunction with the exhibit and is available through the Polk Home. To order, call (931) 388-2354 or email jameskpolk@bellsouth.net. The total mail order cost is $5.00 is for international orders, $4.50 within the United States, or $4.76 for Tennessee residents. Price includes shipping and handling and applicable taxes (TN residents only).

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Jon Kay on January 26, 2011

In this episode, I talk with Curt  Witcher, the Senior Manager for Special Collections at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His work includes leading The Genealogy Center, which is a world-class research center for family and local history research.In this interview, Curt and I discuss general research strategies in using the Center’s collections and resources. As well as the benefits and shortcoming in using internet databases and other digital resources. This useful conversation included  Curt’s hearty invitation for researchers to make use of the library’s holding and to consult with his dedicated team of librarians, genealogists and assistants, who have a strong public service ethic.

Curt Witcher is a member of the Genealogy Committee of the American Library Association, a past chair of the association’s History Section, a former president of both the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society, and the founding president of the Indiana Genealogical Society.  He was honored in May of 2007 with the National Genealogical Society’s P. William Filby award for outstanding, life-time contributions to genealogical librarianship.

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In this episode I talk with Brandt Zipp a young pottery scholar, who grew up around antique American stoneware in his family’s  antique auction business, The Crocker Farm, Inc. Zipp shares his research findings, as well as his techniques for discovering important information about free African American artisans working in New York, prior to 1850. He discusses his techniques for triangulating census records, city directories and material objects to reveal hidden stories of American stoneware potters.

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Jon Kay on January 18, 2011


In this episode we talk with Sherrie Davidson a quilt research, who recently completed her book, the [amazon_link id=”1551097680″ target=”_blank” ]Quilts of Prince Edward Island[/amazon_link]. We talk with her about the quilt survey and subsequent archival research she did to trace the origins and development of this traditional art. She shares how she tracked down a maritime quilt from 1810, and chronicled the story of an artisan who was an early settler of this Canadian island.

  • Host: Jon Kay
  • Guest Sherrie Davidson
  • Music: Martin Simpson (www.martinsimpson.com)

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Jon Kay on January 4, 2011

My students often ask me what is the best scanner? I usually reply that it depends on how it is going to be used. My research takes me into the field to do interviews with people who want to share photographs, newspaper clippings and other documents with me.  I try not to borrow objects or documents from people, because I don’t want to be responsible if anything should happen to the materials.  Therefore, I need a scanner that is very portable and unobtrusive. Several years ago, I started using a Canon LIDE scanner. I have worn a couple of these inexpensive scanners out over the years (I can be pretty rough on my field equipment).

I like the Canon, because it is thin, portable and is USB powered. I can setup my laptop and scanner at someone’s kitchen table or in the barn and quickly scan a few documents without worrying about clutter or power.  While these are not the scanners I would recommend for an archive, they seem to be the best scanner for the money for anyone doing field research. Genealogist, scrap-bookers and local historians are sure to enjoy the flexibility that the Canon LIDE scanner provides.

[amazon_link id=”B003VQR1UC” target=”_blank” ]Canon CanoScan LiDE110 Color Image Scanner (4507B002)[/amazon_link]

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Jon Kay on December 30, 2010

Carson MM200 Pocket Microscope

I find pocket microscopes like the  Carson MM-200 Pocket Microscope to be a necessary tool in my work with historical photographs.  This inexpensive scope combined with the information and photo samples available at the www.graphicatlas.org, help me to identify historic photographic materials and processes. Being able to recognize a photographs support material, binding and surface characteristics are essential for accurately dating and caring for a historic photographic prints. While the material of old images might look similar to the naked eye, under 60X microscope, the conservator or researcher can see the crackled surface of an old albumen print or notice that the Collodion  baryta layer blocks  the paper fibers.

www.GraphicAtlas.org

The Graphic Atlas is an excellent web-resource that list various pre-photographic, photographic and photo-mechanical processes used. The site includes formats ranging from woodblocks prints and tintypes to Polaroids and ink-jet prints, which helps to make sense of the materiality of photographs and other printing formats.

While I tend to be more interested in the cultural and historic information that can be gleaned from old photographs, I have to admit that i find the quasi-scientific side of photo analysis to be fun and interesting as well. As a scholar working in the digital humanities, I feel like I should embrace both.

[amazon_link id=”B000P8AUMU” target=”_blank” ]Carson MM-200 Carson Micromax LED 60X-100X LED Lighted Pocket Microscope[/amazon_link]

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Jon Kay on December 29, 2010

dropboxSafeguarding your research data and having access to your materials when you need them are imperatives for anyone doing genealogical or historical research, which is why I use Dropbox to backup and sync my files to my various computers.  Offsite data storage helps prevent data loss from unforeseen issues such as theft and hardware failure. The best part of using Dropbox is that they give you 2 Gigs of storage for free, and they currently offer additional storage space when you refer others to use their service. I currently have 16 gigs of space to store audio, photographs and text files that I am processing. This means I can have access to my data, anyplace I have an internet connection.

In additional to the benefits of offsite storage, Dropbox allows you to share your files and folders with others. So it provides easy data transfer to family and friend. Say you have digitized several photographs or have an oral history recording you want to share with someone. Just invite them to share your folder and they can access whatever you put in that folder. This is also useful for those of you like me and do not have the internet at home.  Even offline you have a Dropbox folder on your computer. Drag copies into your folder and Dropbox make updates to those files when you go back online. I see this as a must have for scholars and researchers.

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