Farmer Timeline

Posted in Digital History on March 19th, 2008 by Colin

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you with the finished James Farmer Timeline (barring any unexpected developments or overall layout changes that probably won’t occur).

Some recent changes include:

  1. I cropped the header of Farmer some more and uploaded it separately to
  2. After I asked a few of my friends from outside class to look at it, I edited the labels for the timeline events so that they now match the titles. Our labels from before made sense to us (like awards03), but not to anyone visiting the site.
  3. I followed Dr. McClurken’s suggestion and added an event for the first honorary doctorate that Farmer received, but provided the page on the UMW website where visitors can see all 22 doctorates.
  4. I also added links below the header to make it easier to navigate.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, Laura may add a few pictures of the awards in Farmer’s old office by the end of the week, but because we don’t know how they might turn out because we have some formatting and size issues, it’s safe to say that everything we have right now is staying. We might not be adding much, if anything.

Again, you can see the timeline here.

If you have any questions or comments, leave them here. If we need to debug anything, let us know.

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Contract Changes

Posted in Digital History on March 13th, 2008 by Colin

Mary made a good point last night about the deadlines we had on our original contract. Originally, our group was trying to cast a very wide net for material on James Farmer’s life, but what we kept running into was copyright issues. I believe that we recognized that almost from the outset and understood that we would have to work within the context of the preexisting copyrights to do our project that way.

But then we realized that the timeframe for doing that was too long to fit into one semester. Drafting permission letters, then mailing them, then waiting for a response could take 6 weeks or more, especially if we contacted one of the major copyright holders like Getty Images or UPI. We started working with what we had access to and could get quick permission for, which mostly included stuff in the UMW Archives and the Free-Lance Star.

This morning we made some updates to our contract that reflect this that I think everyone in our group agrees with. In most cases not involving copyright (which doesn’t really apply anymore), we are actually ahead of schedule for where we wanted to be at this point in the semester. Laura has a good start with uploading pictures, Mary has done a lot with the Bullet articles, I have nearly finished the timeline, and Nikole has done a lot of work in the UMW archives. Even our website is looking a lot like how we want it to look in the final version, so our updated contract pushes us to have more from the sources that we have.

We chose to keep our next deadline, which is the finished timeline next week. I think that that won’t be a problem on my end. We may talk about it a little more then run it by Dr. McClurken.

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UMW Archive Media

Posted in Digital History on February 26th, 2008 by Colin

Nikole and I are back in the UMW archives today, where we split up what we were looking at.

There’s some very good media on Farmer, where we can at least get a few quotes, but some of the stuff we have is UMW copyright or public domain. Nikole and I talked about emailing Jerry to start digitizing this stuff.

  1. James Farmer Tribute and Statue Unveiling, 4/20/2001. This is a video of Andrew Young, a former student, speaking for about 2 minutes, and then his daughter unveils the bust.
  2. Dr. James Farmer in the Senate of Virginia (DVD), 2/27/1998. This also has a much longer VHS, but the DVD is about 20 minutes and has several people speaking about James Farmer. They eventually lead him to the podium where he talks for a few minutes. All the remarks are very good, and I think if we digitized this we could split them up.
  3. James Farmer’s Speech to the Federal Election Commission, Washington, DC, 4/4/1994. This is fantastic because he’s still speaking relatively effortlessly, and it sounds like he’s just giving his typical speech that he gave on normal speaking engagements. He tells the coke story, the theater story, and several others. It’s long, but again, we could break this up into smaller clips.
  4. James Farmer Memorial Tribute, Dodd Auditorium, 9/1/1999. This is basically a mashup on VHS with A LOT of pictures. We have no idea if we can use them, but we can find out. It also came with a CD of a gospel choir singing, which is probably what they played along with the VHS in Dodd.

Bullet Articles and Timeline

Posted in Digital History on February 22nd, 2008 by Colin

This afternoon, Laura, Mary and I met in the library and went over the microfilm reels of the Bullet from the 80’s and 90’s while James Farmer was a professor here. It was interesting to see how the Bullet staff always turned to Dr. Farmer whenever there was news relating to civil rights, which I think underscored his prominence.

Since we have so many articles and Tim wants us to transcribe some of them, we developed a point system that rates each article based on if it has pictures of Farmer and how good the quotes are. 1’s are the best, 3’s the worst. We did about half of the articles before I had to go, but Laura and Mary are still there right now.

The timeline is also going to get some more attention this weekend. We decided to also add dates from the civil rights movement in general in order to place Farmer’s life in the context of other national and world events. I’m going to tackle that aspect, and I will also read part 6 of Lay Bare the Heart thanks to Mary’s suggestion that that part of the book has a lot of events worthy of the timeline.

I’m also going to work on embedding the timeline somewhere permanently, probably the group blog. I’m worried that wordpress won’t let me input the HTML, but I honestly feel that I am making this a bigger deal than it actually is.

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Timeline Updated

Posted in Digital History on February 16th, 2008 by Colin

As we agreed on Thursday, I went into GoogleDocs this afternoon and edited our final timeline to include the dates we had from our previous timeline.

You all may notice that there are not as many dates on this one as the other one. I decided not to add dates that said “James Farmer Graduates College” since we already have timespans for his college career. I assume anyone looking at the finished dynamic timeline in Simile would figure out that he graduated college.

Also, I changed the categories for “Politician” and “Activist” to reflect our contract, so they are now all “Political Activist.” However, I left the labels as activist01, activist02, etc, regardless of if they were from politics or not.

The published version is here.


Washington Post Articles

Posted in Digital History on February 12th, 2008 by Colin

So, going off what we talked about today in class, I went to a potential primary source, the Washington Post, to see what they had on James Farmer. Here’s what I’ve discovered about Washington Post articles: there are plenty; however, getting access to them might not be possible.

I didn’t know that to read the archives on the Post website means that you have to pay like the New York Times, which isn’t feasible (the prices are ridiculous). Now, I know that we can go around this in academic databases like LexusNexus, but we will still run into the problem of copyright. All the articles are copyright The Washington Post Company. At least we know who to write to for them, not that that was rocket science to figure out, but I’m skeptical that they will let us use them since they usually charge money for them. Additionally, academic databses like LexusNexus, for example, also don’t include the pictures that the paper runs with the articles, so I don’t know how we’d get around that either.

Sorry, team. It’s not technically impossible, but it will be hard.

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Final(?) Tools

Posted in Digital History on February 7th, 2008 by Colin

I thought that today was extremely productive for our group. Our contract discussions really helped us begin to flesh out what we’re doing and gave us a plan of action. The big thing was we really locked down what tools we want to use. I realized that our discussion went really well but we never spelled it out in our Google Doc, so I just went back and edited it a little while ago. The big tools we want to focus on are the ones that have been getting a lot of attention: omeka, GoogleDocs, simile, windows movie maker, and wordpress. First, however, we are all reading assigned chapters of James Farmer’s autobiography, Lay Bare the Heart, to look for quotes and general insights into the man that we are studying. I have chapters 8 and 9.

In order to give us a place to start compiling all of this, today in class we also started our own James Farmer Project blog, but we’re running it in super stealth mode right now while we do the research. If nothing else, it let will let us test how we might display the finished project, and guarantees that our project will at least have a home somewhere.

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Farmer Final Exhibit

Posted in Digital History on February 6th, 2008 by Colin

I want to go ahead and ask an open question about what we’re doing. After we found out on Tuesday that our final projects are going to be built into the actual UMW website, we started talking in our GoogleDocs about what tools we are going to use.

We are really partial to simile, windows movie maker, and omeka so far for building the exhibit, but how are we going to incorporate them together within the same website? We could have different sections, but can omeka’s themes be incorporated into the existing layout?

I ask now so we can get more out of tomorrow, because I think the answer could affect our contract.

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James Farmer Digital Presence

Posted in Digital History on January 22nd, 2008 by Colin

Now that it’s time to start thinking about our actual projects, I have a few things to share about our James Farmer Project.

Firstly, I just want to make sure that my group knows that I won’t be in class on Thursday. I have a conference I’m going to for the UMW Model UN this weekend and we leave Thursday. I mentioned it today in class to you guys, but here is another reminder. Dr. O’Donnell had a presentation tonight at 6pm in the Red Room of the Woodard Campus Center on James Farmer. I had class at 6 but went by later to introduce myself. I look forward to getting started on this.

So, after doing the assigned readings from Cohen and Rosenzweig for this week, I feel a little bit better about our options for organizing an online exhibit about James Farmer. I know a little bit of HTML, mostly text formatting, tables, and the basic body and head tags, but that was not going to get us very far. However, I think that the Omeka software that we were introduced to today in class would help us to go a long way in putting documents on the web (not by mere coincidence I’m sure). Also, Cohen and Rosenzweig mentioned that Firefox has HTML editors, so I found some that I recommend (especially SeaMonkey). Therefore, some combination of Omeka, some old-fashioned HTML, and maybe a web editor like the one in SeaMonkey would be really helpful. When in doubt, Microsoft Word also lets users save documents as web pages.

As far as what sort of exhibit we will have and where we will host it, I am assuming that Dr. O’Donnell and Dr. McClurken have their own ideas about that. We first need to know what sort of documents we are dealing with in the UMW Archive that have not already been digitized. Then we can decide how to present them.

On a related note, Cohen and Rosenzweig recommend looking at other examples of historians doing similar projects. There are a couple good ones that involve Farmer, including a documentary by New Hampshire Public Television called You Don’t Have to Ride JIM CROW!, the Greensboro Voices, and the James L. Farmer Home Page.