August 2, 2008

NEWS: Preserving the Past

Digital Collections saves delicate donations from decay

by Miguel M. Morales

The digital archives for the library keeps growing.

The archives recently acquired World War II documents that include handwritten accounts by Army Lieutenant Francis R. Gerald.

Gerald details an aerial bombing operation over Emden, Germany on Dec. 11, 1943. He describes his escape from a damaged airplane, and his capture by German soldiers.

“Arrived late that night at the ‘hole’ in Frankfurt Dulag - Luft. Searched thoroughly Put in tiny cells - solitary confinement… Almost drove crazy for 6 days. Interrogated by head of German Intelligence several times. Tried scaring us into talking.”

Another of Gerald’s journal details his liberation from a German prisoner of war camp.

“APRIL 30 Woke up to find allied officers occupying Guard towers evacuated by Germans late last night. (A sight I waited year and a half to see) Plenty of excitement in camp. Rumors as usual. Col. Zemke gave talk over address system explaining the situation. I moved over to Luftwaffe officers barracks with FF Squadron. Their Barracks left in mess – had to clean up. Dozens of photos of Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, Heidrich [Heydrich], Himmler We destroyed (painted up). Red X parcels issues 3 per man. Plenty of food at last. Thinking of Jo.”

Several Western Union telegrams from the U.S. Secretary of War notify Gerald’s mother, Margaret, of his MIA status, recovery and return home.

Another project for the digital archives will feature one of a kind items from the Fashion Merchandise and Design department.

The collection includes pieces from the likes of legendary designers Coco Chanel and Christian Dior. Student made items also feature in the collection as do various costumes and uniforms.

Barry Bailey, Digital Projects Librarian, is currently working with Joan McCrillis, professor of Fashion Merchandise and Design, to catalogue and photograph the collection for display in the digital archives.

Bailey said since many of the items use delicate fabrics, may not survive much longer due to the inadequate and overloaded storage facility. Bailey said many of the garments are in an advanced state of deterioration.

The first phase of the project will focus on the department’s extensive hat collection.

The digital archives also features documents related to the founding of the college 40 years ago.

To access the digital archives here.