Monday, January 26, 2015

Archiving UNCG's Online History

"It might seem, and it often feels, as though stuff on the Web lasts forever, for better and frequently for worse: the embarrassing photograph, the regretted blog (more usually regrettable not in the way the slaughter of civilians is regrettable but in the way that bad hair is regrettable). No one believes any longer, if anyone ever did, that “if it’s on the Web it must be true,” but a lot of people do believe that if it’s on the Web it will stay on the Web. Chances are, though, that it actually won’t."

In her recent New Yorker article "The Cobweb: Can the Internet be Archived?," writer Jill Lepore explores the important work of archivists, librarians, and organizations like the Internet Archive in preserving and providing continual access to web content. Her article coincides with a concerted effort in University Archives to proactively document the University's online history. As of January 2015, UNCG is officially a partner member of  the Internet Archive's service Archive-It.

Archive-It is a subscription web archiving service from the Internet Archive that helps organizations to harvest, build, and preserve collections of digital content. With Archive-It, partner members can collect, catalog, and manage their collections of archived content with 24/7 access and full text search available for their use as well as their patrons. Content is made available through the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. Also, we in University Archives can link to archived websites using our online collection finding aids.

A screenshot of UNCG's homepage in 1997
Our web archiving work is just beginning, but already a number of key websites have been collected using the Archive-It tool. You can see the sites we've archived on our Archive-It member page. Pages captured as of January 26th include the primary website related to the 2015 search for our next Chancellor, the web-based publications of course bulletins that don't exist in print, the websites for a number of key administrative bodies on campus (Board of Trustees, Faculty Senate, and Staff Senate), and websites for a number of campus departments. In the future, we plan to archive the University's main social media accounts, websites of many student groups and organizations, and other online content related to the current work of the University.

University Archives is tasked with documenting UNCG's history, from its founding until today. Today, the University's web presence is a key part of that history. This new and exciting partnership with the Internet Archive and Archive-It helps us ensure that our current online history is as accessible to scholars as paper records from 50 or 100 years ago are.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cello Music Collection Material on Television

The Fox Business channel is airing a new television series, Strange Inheritance, which will be featuring material from the Bernard Greenhouse Cello Music Collection. The pilot episode focuses on the Greenhouse family’s inheritance of the Countess of Stanlein, the Stradivarius violoncello dating to 1707, originally owned by Nicolò Paganini. After Bernard Greenhouse passed away in 2011, it was sold for roughly $6 million.   

The Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives provided photographs of Bernard Greenhouse, as well as video footage from an oral history conducted in 2009. Strange Inheritance premieres with the tale of the inheritance of Bernard Greenhouse’s cello on Monday, January 26th at 9:00 pm on Fox Business. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Remembering the Legacy of Laszlo Varga

Bela Bartok's Sonata for Solo Violin arranged for
5 Stringed Cello by Laszlo Varga
Renowned cellist Laszlo Varga passed away December 11, 2014. Born in 1924, Varga studied at the Franz Liszt Royal Academy of Music in Budapest. After escaping the forced labor camps in Hungary during World War II, Varga immigrated to the United States, serving eleven years as the principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic. He was a featured performer and respected teacher at the Aspen, Chautauqua and Shreveport music festivals, among many others. In addition, he conducted major orchestras such as the Budapest Symphony and the San Leandro Symphony. For twenty-five years, Varga served as both director and conductor of the San Francisco State University Symphony. Among his many awards and recognitions, Varga was presented the distinguished title of "Chevalier du Violoncelle" by Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center at Indiana University in 1991.

Laszlo Varga donated his musical score collection to the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives in 2005. This impressive collection contains over fifty transcriptions for solo cello and cello ensemble, including his solo cello transcriptions of the Bach D minor and E major violin partitas and his arrangement of Strauss’ “Don Quixote, Op. 35” for cello, viola, violin, clarinet, horn, and piano. UNCG celebrated this pioneering artist’s legacy in 2007 by hosting the Laszlo Varga Cello Music Celebration. Varga is the eighth cellist represented in the UNCG Cello Music Collection, the largest single holding of cello music related literature in the world.

University Libraries is honoring the memory of this world-class performer, teacher, and arranger of cello music through the digitization of portions of his collection. The Laszlo Varga Digital Collection contains many of Varga’s unpublished manuscript arrangements, promoting his legacy to cellists worldwide.

Laszlo Varga at the UNCG Cello Music Celebration held in his honor,

Friday, December 19, 2014

History of the Student Government Association: An Exhibit

1960 SGA Election Ballot
The Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives invites students, faculty, and researchers to learn more about the history of the Student Government Association (SGA) at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) by viewing the recently installed exhibit titled “A Government of the Students, by the Students, for the Students: a history of the Student Government Association at UNCG.”

The first instances of student government at the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG) began in the 1890s when individual students, called marshals, were selected from the two literary societies along with one chief marshal. In 1910, a student council was created to act as an advisory group for student issues and was comprised of three elected officials from each class. Finally in 1914, school President Julius Foust agreed to the students proposal and officially allowed for the creation of the self-government association. This new organization consisted of four elected officers (president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer) and the elected dormitory presidents.  It was renamed the Student Government Association in 1921.

Using documents and images, the exhibit explores the evolution of the SGA and highlights  several key events. This includes the 1954 censure of the Coraddi by Chancellor Edward Kidder Graham for its publication of a drawing of a nude male and the 1973 Neo-Black Society controversy in which funding was suspended to the organization.

This exhibit will be on display in the three exhibit cases next to the Reference Desk in the main lobby of Jackson Library from December 19, 2014 – February 16, 2015.  

The Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives is open Monday through Friday, 9am until 5pm.  For questions or comments, please contact the exhibit curator, Sean Mulligan at 336-334-5763 or at

Friday, December 12, 2014

The 100th Anniversary Time Capsule: What is it and where did it move?

The 100th Anniversary Time Capsule

You may have noticed that the uniquely shaped artifact that has been located next to the Access Service desk for the last several years is no longer there! It has been moved to the second floor lobby next to the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives - an appropriate place as it is part of the University Archives Artifact Collection.

If you have not taken a close look at the item, you may not know that it is actually a time capsule. A time capsule typically contains commemorative material for access at a future date. This particular capsule was created in 1992, the 100th anniversary of the opening of the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG), to be opened in October of 2042 during the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the college.

There was a campus-wide competition held to decide who would create the 100th Anniversary Time Capsule – it was won by Robert E. (Trey) Sharp III, a senior form Winston-Salem, North Carolina, majoring in sculpture and religious studies. Sharp created a spherical ceramic container on a branch-like bronze stand that could be sealed with a bead of wax. The capsule is filled with speeches and artifacts associated with the centennial; campus photographs; and university programs and publications. Additionally, it holds material that reflected national and international events such as a piece of the Berlin Wall. After it was completed, it was moved to Jackson Library and it will reside here until it is opened in 2042.

*In January, there will be a three-part blog regarding campus time capsules in Spartan Stories. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Enhancing Access to Oral History Interviews

Thanks to a 2014-2015 award through the University Libraries' Innovation and Program Enrichment Program, we are currently working on providing access to audio and enhanced transcripts for the oral history interviews conducted as part of our African American Institutional Memory Project.

These interviews with African American alumni from the 1960s and 1970s, which typically are an hour or more in length, provide in-depth information about an interviewee’s contributions to and viewpoint on their time at WC/UNCG. Often these interviews provide valuable personal insight into history in a way that the official university records cannot. Student researchers in particular find the oral history interviews interesting, as they present a perspective that is often more relatable to them.

Currently, access to these oral histories is provided primarily through the interview transcript (the word-for-word text of the interview). Audio recordings are available on CD if requested, but access to these recordings is not provided online. The transcripts are among the highest ranked downloads from across the University Libraries’ digital collections, yet the process of finding relevant information within the transcripts is often challenging due to their lengthy nature.

With the project funds, a second-year graduate student from the Department of History is working with us to use an open-source tool (the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer, developed by the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries) to enhance access to oral history audio recordings online and time-synch the audio recordings to existing transcripts. This will allow researchers to more readily search each oral history recording for relevant information and quickly skip to certain key topics discussed in the interview.

At the conclusion of the project in June 2015, it is anticipated that at least 25 enhanced oral history audio recordings and accompanying transcripts will be made available to researchers online. We also hope to build a web exhibit that highlights some of the key stories told in these interviews.


October is Archives Month, an annual observance of the agencies and people responsible for maintaining and making available the archival and historical records of our nation, state, communities and people. As part of the month-long celebration, this blog is highlighting some of the innovative and exciting work being done in Special Collections and University Archives.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Happy Birthday Cello Music Collection!

October 23 marks the fifty-first birthday of the UNCG Cello Music Collection, the single largest holding of cello music-related materials in the world.  This unique archive, presently representing the collections of eleven cellists, was made possible by the generosity of countless donors, but founded through the support of Friends of the Libraries.

UNCG Cello Music Collection
In 1963, when Elizabeth Cowling learned that the estate of Luigi Silva was prepared to sell his library, she immediately contacted University Librarian, Charles Adams. The library is committed in its support of faculty research, but there were several risks to consider in pursuing the Silva Collection. First, the school’s cello program was not particularly strong, as the school was ordered to become coeducational only that same year, and the cello was historically a masculine instrument. Additionally, the Library to that date only held one collection of archival music (the North Carolina Holograph Collection), and the Silva collection was fifteen times the size of that one. There was no music library nor was there a music librarian on campus either. However, the greatest obstacle was the quoted price of $3000 ($1000 for Silva’s manuscripts and $2000 for the remainder of the collection), an intimidating sum for 1963.    

Charles Adams conveyed Elizabeth Cowling’s vision of a centralized repository for cello music research founded upon the renowned library of Luigi Silva before the Friends of the Library (there was only one library at this time). In terms of an investment, it was a gamble, but the Friends of the Library were persuaded by Cowling’s passion and made the purchase. Cowling and Adams brought the collection back from New York in October of 1963. 
Contract for the sale of Silva's
Collection in Cowling's hand, Oct. 23, 1963
The collection was dedicated on April 5, 1964 with a recital featuring several of Silva’s arrangements. Many donations were made in honor of Luigi Silva celebrating this event. Margery Enix, a student of Silva, donated draft notes of Vademecum, Silva’s treatise on the thumb position. Franco Colombo, head of the New York branch of the music publisher Ricordi donated several of Silva’s manuscript drafts, including the 24 Caprices of Paganini transcribed for cello by Silva, Boccherini’s Concerto in D Major No.2, and the cello and piano transcription of Boccherini’s Concerto in D Major, Op. 34. Charles Wendt, a student of Silva's, donated a manuscript of the Paganini Capriccio XIII transcribed for cello and piano and purchased Robert Crome's The Compleat Tutor for the Violoncello (ca. 1765) for the collection. Cellist Rudolf Matz provided the gift of 15 volumes from his work First Years of the Violoncello. Violoncello Society of America president JanosScholz (who was awarded an honorary doctorate from UNCG in 1981) donated a manuscript collection of anonymous 18th century cello sonatas and transcribed opera arias.

The purchasing of the Luigi Silva Collection by the Friends of the Libraries has attracted many researchers and performers to the Libraries (even Leonard Rose in 1980), but it also encouraged other cellists to donate their collections. Ten cello music collections have been donated to the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections & University Archives since that time, inspired by the purchasing of the Luigi Silva Cello Music Collection. Over the past five decades, the centralized repository for cello music research envisioned by Elizabeth Cowling has been realized and made possible by UNCG Friends of the Libraries.
Program from Dedication of the Silva Collection

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Friends of the Libraries’ dedication of the Silva Collection, we have digitized Silva’s manuscripts of Vademecum and La Tecnica Violoncellista so that musicologists and performers worldwide can benefit from this legacy.