Barbara Novak is one of America’s premier art historians. Breaking into the world of American art history in the 1950s, when few professors taught the topic, Dr. Novak spent the next 40 years creating a foundation for the study of American art history through her seminal books and teaching.
Now the Helen Goodhart Altschul Professor of Art History Emerita at Barnard College and Columbia University, Novak has inspired generations of students to pursue careers in academic and museum life. Six speakers from a range of fields will offer personal stories of the wide sweep of Dr. Novak’s influence as a scholar and mentor. Dr. Novak will offer her remarks at the end of the event. Read more →
The Urban History Association held its sixth biennial conference at Columbia University, October 25-28. The final session that Sunday was a bit discombobulated as people were scurrying about trying to verify travel arrangements before Sandy hit. Read more →
In February the New York Archivists Round Table was spotlighting the Human Rights Web Archive (HRWA), a joint initiative of Columbia University Libraries and Information Services and its Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research. As stated on the project’s site on the Internet Archive, the HRWA is “an effort to preserve and ensure access to freely available human rights resources created mainly by non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, and individuals.” A major and invaluable undertaking, the HRWA is indicative of the recognition by major research institutions of the importance of the practice of web archiving, or capturing and preserving websites and other web-only materials for future research. Earlier in the month the Round Table had the opportunity to conduct a brief interview with Tessa Fallon, Web Collection Curator for the HRWA. Many thanks to Tessa for her insightful replies, which highlight some of the complex issues at work in the HRWA and also touch upon future directions for the project:
Q: What are your primary responsibilities as Web Collection Curator?
A: My primary responsibilities revolve around the maintenance and development of our web archive collections. This includes (but is not limited to): selecting new sites, requesting permission from site owners, sending cataloging requests to our catalogers, testing sites for technical suitability, and managing crawls of our selected sites. In addition to the HRWA (managed jointly between myself and co-curator Alex Thurman), I also manage the new Burke New York City Religions and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library web archives (both collections are in stages of development). Alex manages the Avery Architectural Library web archive, which includes sites related to historic preservation and architecture in New York City, and the University Archives collection.
Q: One of the main criteria for website inclusion in the HRWA is a perceived risk of disappearance. How do you determine that a website is at risk of disappearing?
A: This is a perennially tricky question, and we are continually refining our perception of what “at risk” means for a website. Some might argue that given the ephemerality of the web, all websites are at risk. For the HRWA, there are some criteria that are clearly defined: organizations that are at risk of persecution from hostile governments or other groups, organizations that have limited or threatened access to the internet, and sites that are static, presumably abandoned (no longer updated–in some cases, for years). In our experiences, sites may also disappear and reappear without notice, which makes at-risk difficult to gauge.
Q: Can you briefly explain the process of how a website is captured for inclusion in the archive?
A: The (very) abbreviated version of How Web Crawling Works: Sites are captured using a tool called a web crawler. A crawler can capture web content by crawling from link to link on a given site. So, if I sent a crawler to capture this blog, the crawler starting, “nyhistoryblog.com” would capture all of the content on nyhistoryblog.com at that moment in time. The crawler creates a file (called a WARC file) that is then used by a program like the Wayback Machine to show the archived site (content captured by the crawler).
Q: The HRWA website states that the project team is currently pursuing other means of making the archive available in addition to the project page on the Internet Archive. What additional means are you considering?
A: As part of the grant, we are attempting to develop a portal that would allow us to provide a local index and interface for our archived web sites. This is not yet available to the public. Portal development is spearheaded by Stephen Davis, Director of Library Digital Programs Division, programmer David Arjaniks, and web designers Erik Ryerson and Eric O’Hanlon.
If you’d like to learn more about the HRWA, check out the highly-informative FAQ section of the project site!
Deutsches Haus at Columbia University (420 W. 116th St., New York City) will be the location for “Cities in Revolt: The Dutch-American Atlantic, ca. 1650-1815,” a conference on the relationships between the Netherlands and (mostly North) America in the long eighteenth century, that will take place November 13th and 14th, 2009. The main conference goals are 1) to create a scholarly discussion about Dutch-American interconnections in the eighteenth century and 2) help the general public gain a fuller picture of an understudied period in Dutch-American relations. Most of the conference will consist of panels of three presenters each, a comment, and time for discussion at the end. The conference speakers and schedule is below, but more info about the conference is also available here.
The organizers invite submissions of papers for an international conference, “Cities in Revolt: The Dutch-American Atlantic, ca. 1650-1830″- to be held November 13-14, 2009, at Columbia University. Ranging from the conquest of New Amsterdam to the presidency of Martin van Buren, the conference aims to document the continuous and fruitful political exchanges that took place in the long eighteenth century between the Dutch Republic and empire on the one hand and British North America and the United States on the other. Among the key conference aims are to examine the political consequences of trans-Atlantic commercial linkages and the impact of the American Revolution on Dutch patriots. The keynote address will be given by Professor Jonathan Israel of the Institute for Advanced Study.
Papers proposed should be approximately 20 minutes in length. Submissions on any topic relevant to the conference topic and aims will be gladly accepted, however the organizers would particularly welcome submissions relating to:
Dutch Patriots in the United States in the 1790s The American Revolution in the Dutch Atlantic world New York and Amsterdam financiers in eighteenth-century politics Dutch New Yorkers and politics in the early nineteenth century
To propose a paper, please submit a 250-word abstract and a short CV via email to both firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by MONDAY, JUNE 1, 2009. Conference committee: Simon Schama (Columbia)- Karen Kupperman (NYU)- Evan Haefeli (Columbia)- Nathan Perl-Rosenthal (Columbia)- Wijnie de Groot (Columbia).
A one-day interdisciplinary conference and exhibit at the Center for Archaeology, Columbia University, New York City will be held Saturday May 23rd, 2009- abstracts are due Sunday March 22nd, 2009.
Practices, institutions and ideas centered around collections and collecting offer a fruitful area for interdisciplinary enquiry in the humanities and social sciences. Whether in the processes through which collections come to be formed, or the ways in which existing collections are experienced by a variety of publics, the impulse to collect is often key to knowing a wider world, and also knowing oneself. This conference aims to bring a wide variety of critical perspectives to bear on this topic- including anthropological, historical and art historical, literary, architectural and museological. Papers dealing with actual formal collections such as those found in galleries or museums, as well as those interested in less tangible collections – such as collections of facts, observations or ideas – are equally welcome. There are no restrictions with regard to time period, and papers are sought relating to the contemporary world, as well as the recent and ancient pasts. Papers are solicited on the following and related themes:
The temporality of gathering – how the past and future are grasped and mediated through material substances and practices
Collecting and power – how collecting sets up or maintains power differentials between collector and collected, exhibitor and exhibited
Fixing and making worlds – the bonding of materials, substances, place and people
Histories of collecting – changing modalities and definitions of the collection and of what it is to gather materials, ideas or people in place and time
Collecting as a transformative process – how collecting alters, re-presents or invents the object that is collected and the implications of such transformations
Spaces of collection and collections of spaces – the politics, poetics and meaning of the exhibition space and its architectural framing
This conference is run by graduate students affiliated with the Center for Archaeology and is organized in conjunction with an exhibit on collecting designed by students in the Museum Masters program at Columbia.
Please send a 200 word abstract along with contact information (including name, email, institution affiliation) to Matt Sanger at firstname.lastname@example.org Any questions can also be sent to this address.
With funding from the Nederlandse Taalunie, Wijne de Groot, lecturer of Dutch at Columbia University is holding a weekly workshop on Reading 17th Century Dutch Texts in Spring 2009. The workshop will be held each Thursday at during the Spring Semester. The workshop is open to all graduate students and researchers who have reading knowledge of Dutch or German. In past years there has been an eclectic mix of students interested in Dutch, early American and Art history.
Email Wijnie de Groot at wed23-AT-columbia-DOT-edu for details of the schedule and to register for the course.