Crack Team of Digitizers Preserving Music History

Do you miss those cutting-edge hip hop and rap magazines from the eighties and nineties?

Does your favorite academic library have incomplete runs of your favorite rock and folk music magazines and the pages are torn or missing?

For the past seven years, I have been on a crack team of digitizers at sister companies Reveal Digital and NA Publishing who are creating amazing collections of exact digital reproductions of important political and cultural newspapers and magazines from the nineteen fifties onward (with a few that dip into the forties). I’m the guy who figures out who the rights holders are, then researches how to contact them or their heirs and invites them to include their publications in the collections.

Our goals are to preserve these publications, which too often yellow around the edges and crumble as they age; and to make them accessible to current and future readers, for whom if it isn’t in electronic form it doesn’t exist.

Underground Press

Our premier collection was the landmark Independent Voices, which, when it is finished, will include some 1,000 underground, alternative, and literary newspapers and magazines from the fifties through the eighties, encompassing the Civil Rights and Vietnam era antiwar and liberation movements.

 

 

 

 

Rock Music Magazines

Our current series is of music magazines. The Rock collection is complete with minor exceptions, including sourcing of a few remaining issues of CREEM.

 

 

Folk Music Magazines

Folk, including Sing Out!, Broadside, People’s Songs Bulletin, and others, is smaller than Rock but scanning and digitizing continue and it is growing. We’d still like to add a few titles.

 

 

 

If you loved the music, check out the magazines in our collection that covered it:

http://mma.napubcoonline.com/
username: sales@napubco.com
password: Seeger

Hip Hop and Rap Music Magazines

Next is Hip Hop and Rap. We’re still in the crucial rights-gathering stage. Current and former hip hop and rap editors and publishers:

  • Would you like your magazine to be digitized at no cost to you?
  • Would you like to receive keyword-searchable digital files to put up on your website at no cost to you?

Then email me today at ken@azenphonypress.com and let’s talk.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Ken

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Introducing Reveal Digital’s New Underground Press Digital Platform

For the past five years, I’ve been writing a lot about Independent Voices, Reveal Digital’s keyword-searchable digital collection of underground, alternative, and literary newspapers and magazines from the fifties through the eighties (primarily sixties and seventies but significant overlap in both directions). I’ve teased interested readers by listing new titles as I obtained permission to include them in the collection. I’ve called out libraries as they’ve joined our growing team of sourcing libraries. I’ve reprinted talks that I’ve given at academic and political conferences and celebrations about the underground press and the digital collection.

It’s been a real ride.

And now, it is my pleasure to share with you Independent Voices’ new, more robust, more dynamic, more attractive, more functional platform for your enjoyment, your inspiration, and your education. [Note: Any fuzziness and blurriness that you see in the blog entry images below are factors of my attempts to reduce screen shots to fit blog space; when you visit the actual website you will see text and images that are crisp and clear.]

Feast your eyes.

We’ll begin with the Home page.

Reveal_homepage

The icon on the left is from a cover of Big Mama Rag, a feminist paper from Denver, Colorado, that published from 1972 to 1984, one of the nearly 120 feminist and lesbian papers that will be available in Independent Voices by the time we are finished uploading content sometime around January 2017. Every time you log on, you’ll get a different cover from among our over 1,000 titles that you’ll be able to access.

In the middle of the page is a brief overview of the collection and on the right, if you’re already familiar with the site and want to start searching, is our Search button. But hold on for a minute if this is your first visit. Let me take you through the rest of the site before you start your search.

The second tab is our Search tab.

Reveal_search_tab

Oh, the searches you can do, and the tricks that you can perform to make your search easier.

This brief blog entry isn’t a complete tutorial so I’m not going to hold your hand and take you step by step through every feature. Instead, I’ll refer you to the Help tab (see below).

aReveal_Help-page-001

Here you will learn how to do simple keyword searches, exact phrase searches, and Boolean searches, as well as how to apply filters to refine them. You will learn how to search over one or multiple publications, within date ranges, and within full text, comments, and tags. You will learn how to choose the number of search results you want displayed on each page, and determine whether you would like text or image previews displayed with your search results. Wildcard searches? Fuzzy searching? Optical character recognition? Proximity searching? The fun is just beginning.

The next tab, Titles, is my favorite because it is such a vast improvement over our earlier site. In our earlier site, you had no idea what the full range of uploaded titles was, so you could enter a title and not know if it would even come up. Now we present to you an alphabetical listing of our titles—but note that these are only the titles that have been uploaded. The scanning and digitizing process is still in full action mode and isn’t slated to be finished until the end of January 2017. New titles are being uploaded regularly.

Reveal_titles_tab-page-001

This above screenshot shows titles that begin with A. In addition, a number of titles from our collection of GI underground papers began with numbers so those appear above the A’s. Notice that the titles all have locks after them except for one that appears in red. The vision of Independent Voices is that it will be an open access system after we have recovered our costs, which means that, sitting in your home or your favorite restaurant or wherever you do your Internet research, you will be able to conduct a simple keyword search on our site and view every title. We aren’t there yet. While production is in process, only patrons of supporting libraries have complete access, a perk we provide supporting libraries as an incentive for them to help us reach what we call our “sales threshold,” which is the amount of funding we need to break even on this immense project.

But for those who can’t access the complete site, we have already placed a handful of titles—22 to be exact—in open access so that you can get a feel for the site and see what you’re missing. In this screenshot the GI underground paper The American Exile Newsletter is open access. A short list of others: Battle Acts, Berkeley Barb, The Rag (Austin), Bragg Briefs, Conditions, Ann Arbor Sun, Great Speckled Bird, On Our Backs.

Here is our list of libraries that have made the one-time investment to help us achieve open access according to our unique “cost recovery = open access” economic model. As someone who spent over a decade of the last century editing library journals, including Reference Services Review and Serials Review, I regularly heard librarian laments about shrinking budgets and ever-rising serials costs. “Open access” is the gold star for librarians, the alternative to the models of our competitor companies whose digital collections are priced prohibitively high for most libraries and remain behind a pay wall forever, meaning they are only accessible to patrons of those libraries that can afford it, while scholars forever have to pay to gain access to their own articles.

If your library is on this list, you’re in luck. Your thoughtful, progressive, insightful librarians have thrown their support behind the principle of open access while enabling you to do the research you need for your classes and your continuing education in women’s studies, ethnic studies, gender studies, poetry and fiction, American history, political studies, military history, and more. If your library is not on the list, tell your librarian why being able to access Independent Voices is important to you. Personal requests from patrons go a long way in helping librarians determine how to spend their scarce funds. Then contact me or have them contact me at ken.wachsberger@revealdigital.com.

Before we leave the Titles tab, I want to take you one step inside it. Here’s what you see when you click the red “American Exile Newsletter, The”:

Reveal_landingpage-page-001

We call this a landing page and every title has one. As you can see, Independent Voices has eight issues of this GI underground newspaper, which was published in Stockholm, Sweden, from March 1973 to March 1975. You can now click the icon for each issue and explore further. The landing page also was not part of our earlier website.

The next three tabs are, respectively:

  • Dates: Presently it goes back to 1950 but two titles that haven’t yet been loaded but that have their roots in the forties are Vice Versa, considered the first lesbian publication of our era, and National Guardian, the forerunner of The Guardian. It goes up to 2013 because, while our stated date range of fifties through eighties (with the two above exceptions) refers to founding dates; some of the papers continued to publish after the eighties and in fact are still publishing.
  • Libraries: We’re working with a growing team of sourcing libraries that provide us with original copies of papers to scan and digitize once we get permission from the intellectual property rights holders. This tab lists the libraries and private donors that have loaned us the titles that are already uploaded. This list will continue to grow substantially because libraries trust us to care for the materials that they send us from their non-circulating collections. We scan and digitize the issues, then return them to the libraries still in good shape because our scanners are the highest-quality, best-trained in the business. At the same time, we provide them with keyword-searchable digital files and metadata of the titles they provide to us.
  • Series: another convenient new feature. Presently it indicates that the website already includes titles from the following collections: Black American, Campus Underground, Feminist, GI Press, LGBT, and Little Magazines. Not listed yet are Latino (including our Chicano papers) and Native American, two of our growing collections for which we have obtained many permissions but that haven’t been loaded yet.

Finally, for now, accessibility is important to us. The content loaded in Independent Voices is page-image-based but we have created a text layer that is accessible to screen readers. The text is created by optical character recognition (OCR) with auto-column detection. It has not been corrected or manually tagged. The text layer is accessible both within the application at the page level (under the “Text” tab) and as downloadable PDF files, at both page and issue levels. The interface uses element labels/titles to assist screen readers in navigation.

Our new hosting platform is Veridian. Here is what Veridian wrote on their website concerning their compliance with web accessibility guidelines:

Veridian is used by many government/public institutions that need to conform to local or international web accessibility guidelines, and as such it has been carefully designed to comply. Veridian has been chosen by the American Foundation for the Blind as a platform for their Helen Keller Archives, partly due to Veridian’s strong commitment to supporting web accessibility, and removing barriers preventing access to websites by people with disabilities.

And that’s my fifty-cent tour of Independent Voices. Now it’s your turn. Search by series or by title or just do a random search and enjoy what you find. If your favorite publication from the period is missing drop me an email at ken.wachsberger@revealdigital.com. It may simply not yet have been uploaded. Then again, I may have been unable so far to obtain permission. My biggest challenge is finding rights holders. Your help in locating them for me can bring your favorite titles into the collection.

Thanks in advance for your help and your support. If you like what you see and you are excited about the potential, please consider a tax-deductible financial donation to the library or libraries of your choice earmarked to fund their support of Independent Voices. If you don’t know who to contact there, let me connect you with their collection officers. Whatever we’ve done so far, however many newspapers and magazines we’ve already digitized, we can do much more with your help.

 

 

Hitchhiking to the Revolution: A Hitchhiker’s Tale from the Seventies

Last month I posted the talk that I gave at the “Women’s History in the Digital World 2015” conference at Bryn Mawr College. Given the narrow scope of the conference, women’s studies, the scope of my talk was limited to the feminist and lesbian underground papers. The week after, I spoke at Left Forum 2015. There, the scope was “the political Left”—including national, international, any topic at all. So, my talk, adapted from two previous talks and reproduced below, was on the broader definition of the underground press, beyond the women’s papers, beyond the thread that begins with the Los Angeles Free Press. All of the definitions need to be known, their stories celebrated and shared widely especially with the current and future generations of activists, our intergenerational peers.

* * *

Emily, Ken, and Ernestine Hemingway hitchhiking in Austin, Texas, 1978. From wedding invitation. Caption: "Emily and Ken are finally getting hitched"

Emily, Ken, and Ernestine Hemingway hitchhiking in Austin, Texas, 1978. From wedding invitation. Caption: “Emily and Ken are finally getting hitched”

In the late sixties and throughout the seventies, I was a hitchhiker. I hitchhiked not only around town but to all ends of the country. Everywhere I went, I met folks who either were on their local underground newspapers or read one on a regular basis.

I met ex-cons working on Penal Digest International, a prisoners’ rights paper in Iowa City. I hitchhiked to a women’s liberation march in DC with five women from Lansing who all read Her-self, a women’s paper out of Ann Arbor. In 1972, I hitchhiked to Madison and stayed with a staffer for their paper, Takeover, who I met through their local crash pad file, and I helped the local Yippies organize a Smoke-In. Later, after they bailed me out of jail following a street demonstration, I drove down to Miami with them to organize against the Democrats and Republicans, who both held their nominating conventions there that summer. While there I contributed a piece to the Daily Planet and worked with the Underground Press Syndicate. Everywhere I went, I met gays and lesbians who tried to convert me to their agenda, which was basically “Live and let live.” They had their favorite papers that emerged after the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969, including Gay Liberator in Detroit, Gay Sunshine in San Francisco, and Fag Rag in Boston.

In my foreword to the first edition of Voices from the Underground I wrote:

The period was a vision as much as a reality. It was a time of experimentation. We made mistakes and learned from them. In the beginning, men attacked sexism while women typed their articles. In the end, women founded the feminist and lesbian press and men learned that it was okay to cry. For all its faults, the sixties was a magical period. A time warp opened up and those who stepped inside glimpsed the new paradigm that brought together the best visions of the visionaries and showed us, on a small scale, how to make them work. On the pages of the underground press, writers tried to reduce the vision to the written word and apply the strategies to a larger scale. Those who were touched remain touched.

It was a fleeting vision for sure. We were offered the fruits of so many liberation movements to harvest that it’s no mystery why there was a return to the land. But not everybody embraced the changes. The period divided and traumatized our country like no period since the civil war.

By the time the war ended, activists of the antiwar movement had turned inward and embraced the Me Decade. Meanwhile, the country swung dramatically to the right. Vietnam was pretty much written out of public discourse. Few high school or college courses studied it honestly.

By 1993, when I published the first edition of Voices from the Underground, my anthology of underground press histories as written by key people on each of the papers, we were living in Reagan’s America. The country had shifted so dramatically to the right, veterans of the antiwar movement, who were now having children and looking for career jobs, were scared to talk about their experiences, even with their kids, even though they had proudly been part of the broadest, most diverse antiwar movement in the history of our country. Those who wrote their stories with me displayed courage.

Voices from the Underground, first edition, volume 1

Voices from the Underground, first edition, volume 1

Today the underground press is becoming better known, though it has not nearly reached the level of recognition that accurate history requires. Scholars like John McMillian (Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America) and James Lewes (Protest and Survive: Underground GI Newspapers during the Vietnam War) are writing dissertations on it and publishing them. James, in fact, is the world expert on the GI underground press as well as a major supporter of Independent Voices, the underground press digital project that I’m talking about here. Young librarians like Suzanne Parenti Sink (from Florida Atlantic University) and Laurie Charnigo (from Jacksonville State University) are compiling major collections for their libraries and speaking about the underground press at conferences.

So what was the underground press?

The underground press was the independent, non-corporate, antiwar alternative to the corporate press of the Civil Rights and Vietnam eras. The traditional history of the underground press focuses on the Los Angeles Free Press, which was founded in 1964, as being the first underground paper of what was known as the counterculture. It might have been.

But in my vision and based on my work, I’ve expanded the term to include the papers of the liberation movements, whose roots go back earlier. Major gay and lesbian papers came out of the fifties: ONE, Mattachine Review, The Ladder. The first lesbian paper of our era, Vice Versa, goes back even further, to 1947. Important black papers also pre-dated the Free Press. The Student Voice, the paper of SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee), began publishing in 1960. Freedomways, founded by W.E.B. Du Bois and others, began the next year. Paul Robeson founded his paper, Freedom, during the Korean War.

All of these papers already are or will be, by the way, in Independent Voices.

But these papers were sporadic. After the Free Press, and thanks to the advanced technology of offset printing, underground papers in tabloid format focusing on the antiwar movement and the emerging counterculture and its related liberation movements flourished. They were found everywhere you looked: on campus and off, in urban, suburban, rural, ghetto, barrio, and other communities in every state of the Union and in countries around the world. They represented the gay, lesbian, feminist, black, Native American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Asian American, prisoners’ rights, military, New Age, socialist, anarchist, psychedelic, high school, senior citizen, rank and file, Southern consciousness, and other alternative voices of the day. They spoke to their own unique audiences. But they were united against the war.

Many of them were members of Underground Press Syndicate, the first nationwide network of underground papers from the sixties and seventies.

The underground press was such a major, all-encompassing part of my life in the early seventies that I still find it hard to believe that not everyone knows about its role in ending the war. But today when I talk about it with young folks who are the age now that we were then, who I call our intergenerational peers, I get blank stares.

It’s no surprise. Students today still are seldom taught the truth about the Vietnam War. History classes too often still gloss over it while ignoring the role of the antiwar movement in bringing it to an end. Journalism classes still traditionally ignore or downplay the place of the underground press in the history of journalism.

Today, political blogs have taken up the tradition that we carried on in the fifties through the eighties but most young bloggers themselves have no idea of their political roots. One of the best sites, in my opinion, is Daily Kos. “Kos” is Markos Moulitsas, who founded it. So I wrote to Markos and asked him to write a foreword to volume 1 of my series as a way to link our generations. I sent him a few sample chapters. He wrote back to me and said, “Ken, I’d love to but—I have to admit—I don’t know anything about the underground press.” I said, “I know that, Markos. I read your last book. You don’t even mention it.”

But I wasn’t criticizing Markos. He’s a college graduate, even has a law degree. But he never learned about the underground press. I told him that’s why I wrote to him. I said I wanted him to write from the perspective of someone who had just discovered his own political predecessor. He agreed and he wrote a remarkable piece.

When the first edition of Voices was coming out, Art Levin, who was the general manager of Michigan State University’s State News during the time I wrote for Joint Issue, the Lansing-area underground paper, wrote:

The period of the late sixties and early seventies was a high water mark for American journalism. For the first time in American history, the vision of Justices Holmes and Brandeis blossomed and bore fruit. A multitude of voices, the essence of democracy, resounded through the land providing a compelling alternative against the stifling banality of the establishment press. What this nation had during the Vietnam War was exactly what the founding fathers understood the press to be all about when they wrote the First Amendment.

Since those days, it’s been a personal mission of mine, I admit, to make sure that that history is not forgotten and to educate others on how they can learn more about it to prevent future Vietnams from happening. So it was a karmic blessing when I was approached by Jeff Moyer one day five years back to lead the effort to digitize underground, alternative, and literary papers from the fifties through the eighties.

Jeff was the former head of the digitizing department at ProQuest. With a partner, he bought out the department and founded IDC, Image Data Conversion. But on his own he also started Reveal Digital because he had an idea for an economic model that would create wondrous keyword-searchable digital collections in a way that was friendly to library budgets and would end up with the collections going into open access, the holy grail for librarians. The first collection he wanted to create was of underground newspapers. He approached me after discovering the first edition of Voices from the Underground at the library of Eastern Michigan University, where I used to teach. He brought me on board as a consultant and not long after that he hired me full time.

What attracted me to the project, besides the opportunity to expand my knowledge of the underground press, was Jeff’s economic model, what he calls “cost recovery = open access.” Basically, we promote upcoming projects to libraries through our crowd-funding website, where we describe each project, explain its significance, lay out the proposed contents as well as the sourcing libraries, and list the line-item expenses. Then we invite libraries to make non-binding commitments to purchase the collection but we don’t yet invoice them. When we have enough commitments to recover the costs, what we call our “sales threshold,” we go into full production, including rights gathering, sourcing from libraries, and scanning and digitizing.

Projects that are looking for funding include

Libraries pay according to a tiered structure but it amounts to about 20% of what they would pay one of the larger digital publishing companies for a comparable project that the company would keep behind a pay wall forever. Those libraries that support us have immediate access to the evolving collection while it is in development. Soon after it is completed, it goes into open access where even those libraries that didn’t support it have access to it. Meanwhile we’ll be working on other projects with the same model. No library pays for every collection but everyone benefits from every collection.

This is a righteous model that deserves library and foundation support. In an earlier life I worked for many years as managing editor of Reference Services Review and Serials Review, two journals that were read widely by reference librarians and serials librarians. I read countless articles and heard countless librarian laments about rising costs and decreasing budgets. But I also remembered the community feeling that librarians shared. The focus was always on increasing and facilitating user access. Usually it was the larger libraries that made the big investments and then the benefits would trickle down to the smaller libraries. With Reveal’s tiered structure, everyone can help.

With Independent Voices, the underground press collection, we’re still looking for funding but we are already actively working on it because we wanted to get one live collection out into the public. Our goal was to get over 1,000 titles. We already have more than that including some 120 women’s papers, 130 literary magazines—what were known as “little” magazines back then, some 20 gay papers, 60 minority papers, over 100 campus, community, high school, and other underground and alternative newspapers, 900 papers published by and for members of the military in all branches of the service, and even 4 papers published by the FBI to sow dissension in the Movement.

Reveal Digital's Independent Voices digital collection

Reveal Digital’s Independent Voices digital collection

So far we’re about 40% of the way to being fully funded. We could include a lot more titles, and we would like to, if we had the funding.

We’re working with a growing team of libraries that are sending us original papers from their collections that we scan and digitize and then return safely to them along with keyword-searchable digital files and metadata of the papers that we scan.

Our goal is to upload a million pages of exact keyword-searchable digital reproductions by the end of January 2017. So far we have uploaded about 250,000 pages. Currently the collection is accessible only to patrons of our supporting libraries. After we reach our sales threshold, we’ll go into open access, which is the vision. However, libraries can make the files that we send them accessible immediately.

So this is where we are now.

In the sixties, we of the antiwar movement discovered philosopher George Santayana, who said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Yippie Abbie Hoffman added, “The only way to support a revolution is to make your own.” So we studied the first wave of feminism from the 1800s, the anarchists at the turn of the last century, the union struggles of the thirties, and much more, while we created and wrote about our present.

We’re still out there, organizing and teaching and keeping our visions alive. But as a generation we’ve peaked. Those of you who are college age and recently beyond, it’s your turn now to lead the struggle that we carried on from generations before us.

Our two generations and our struggles are intimately connected. In my generation, we flooded the colleges for at least two reasons: tuition was low and staying in college gave you a 2-S draft deferment. While we were in the college atmosphere, we learned how to think logically and critically, we met with other thinkers, and we organized to end a vicious war. It was the spawning ground for gender, minority, environmental, and other liberation movements. The underground press absorbed our thoughts and preserved them for you to study and critique.

The right has waged a relentless war against education since then—and make no mistake they want you to be either dumb and mindless—apparently truth is liberal—or so in debt you are a slave to your job, which, thanks to them, pays less and provides fewer benefits. So they have actively and enthusiastically waged war on public schools, attacked teachers’ unions, and cut aid for higher education.

The issues that we raised, the struggles we fought, were analyzed and documented in the pages of the underground and alternative press. Some of it was pretty crazy. One night I dropped acid with a fellow staffer and we went to a revival meeting to hear Leighton Ford, the son-in-law of Billy Graham. I took voracious notes—there was speed in the acid. On the way back, I read aloud some of what I wrote and my friend thought it was funny so I published my notes and called the article “I Dropped Acid and Saw God.” Another article I wrote was about a game a couple of my friends made up where they followed police cars and tried to not get busted. I called the article “Got One on the Pig-O-Scope.” I was attacked for being irresponsible because high schoolers read our paper. I was.

"I Dropped Acid and Saw God," from Joint Issue 3:16 (10/30/72)

“I Dropped Acid and Saw God,” from Joint Issue 3:16 (10/30/72)

But we also attacked the government’s atrocities in Vietnam and other countries and connected them to injustices at home as we worked to create a peace community. Your battle, one of them, is to take back the schools and colleges by ensuring the right to a decent, low-cost education that leads to a good job. Join the movement to eliminate student debt. If we can wipe bank debts clean and give billionaires tax breaks, we can wipe student debts clean also.

Today we’re doing okay on some of the social issues that emerged back then: gay rights, legalized marijuana, health care. Public awareness is starting to turn the corner on the environment and the Middle East. We’re getting trounced, but raising awareness, on women’s rights, immigrant rights, voting rights. Economically we’ve got our work cut out for us with union rights, student tuition, the wealth gap, campaign finance laws, expanding Social Security. There are other issues, and they’re all connected. Learn how. Don’t accept simplistic solutions that pit potential allies against each other. And don’t give in to despair.

We made lots of mistakes back when but we made some brilliant analyses, changed the world, and had fun. We quoted the words of anarchist Emma Goldman, who said, “A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.” Stew Albert, who was one of the legendary founders of the Yippies, said to me one day words that I have never forgotten. He said, “We can’t lose. We’re having too much fun.” It was summer 1972 in Miami Beach, where the Democrats and Republicans were holding their presidential conventions. We were at that moment on our way to the Yippie Puke-In.

Study this period. There has never been a more exciting, outrageous, mythological, liberating, artistic, magical period in our country’s history.

Begin by scouring the pages of the underground press.

Challenge everything you learn, including everything I just said.

Then create your own myths.

Opening the Information Vault: Preserving, Digitizing, and Funding the International Women’s History Periodical Archive

I was honored to have as one of my co-panelists at Bryn Mawr College’s “Women’s History in the Digital World 2015” conference the most important feminist archivist of the sixties and seventies as well as the founder of Women’s History Month and so much more: Laura X.

In her talk, which appears here in this guest blog, edited for publication, Laura talks about the rediscovery of International Women’s Day, which then led to the creation of the central archive of the women’s movement from 1968 to 1974, and the founding of both Women’s History Month in 1969 and the Women’s History Library. Previous to 1969, she was a Head Start teacher in New York and a CORE picket captain and then active in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement in 1964 as well as the emerging peace and women’s movements.

LauraX_17832414558_ff1262072a_z

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Ken, you are my hero for this digitizing of our early movement materials and your Voices from the Underground Series, including our chapter on It Aint Me Babe, the first U.S. national Women’s Liberation newspaper. I am so happy to be involved with the ingathering of feminist and lesbian periodicals for digitizing.

Ken asked me to tell our historical origin pre-story for the International Women’s History Periodical Archive. (Women’s Liberation Movement publications included the note “This publication is on file at the International Women’s History Periodical Archive” and our address, which caused other publications from 40 countries to place themselves on file in our archive as well.)

I’ll start with the strike that was inspired by Russian women in 1917, the discovery of which inspired me to help organize a demonstration in Berkeley for International Women’s Day on March 8, 1969, and to begin to build the idea of Women’s History Month around March 8. Our Women’s History Library, which maintained the International archive of our movement from 1968 to 1974, took a quantum leap forward from the national publicity as a result of that Berkeley demonstration. There had been no such demonstration for IWD in the U.S. since 1947. By the next year, 1970, there were Women’s Liberation events in 30 cities around the world for March 8.

So, to begin: Back in late 1968, I saw the 1929 Soviet film The End of St. Petersburg by Vsevolod Pudovkin. The women’s demonstration in St. Petersburg on February 23, 1917 for “bread, peace and land” is clearly the spark that ignited the strike for the Putilov factory workers. Their strike toppled the rule of the czars within four days of the women’s protest. What is not known, partly due to the confusion of the use of another calendar system by the Eastern church, is that their February 23 was March 8 on the Western calendar; the Bolshevik women who organized the demonstration over the protests of their male comrades were in fact deliberately celebrating International Women’s Day, which had been declared seven years earlier.

Although by 1969 I had considered myself a socialist for thirteen years, had been immersed in Left politics in New York and Berkeley, and had been to the Soviet Union twice to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary in 1967, I still did not learn until late 1968 that International Women’s Day was based on a U.S. event that took place on March 8, 1908. It had been celebrated big time in the Socialist countries around the world, but by 1969 in the USSR it had deteriorated into something like Mother’s Day in the U.S. where women are given flowers, and the day was ignored here.

In November 1968 I called for U.S. celebrations of IWD in a review of The End of St. Petersburg for the UC Berkeley newspaper The Daily Californian. I had just been told by Noel Ignatin, a socialist active in Chicago, about the Russian women inspiring the 1917 strike by demanding an end to World War I as well as bread and land. He also told me that the Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen in 1910 had declared March 8 to be International Working Women’s Day in a motion made by Clara Zetkin, a German Communist, and seconded by Lenin, the Russian Bolshevik (majority) party leader whose triumphant return from exile was made possible by the so-called February Revolution of 1917, the one begun by women on March 8 on the Western calendar. I believe his source was Isaac Deutscher’s The Unfinished Revolution: Russia, 1917-1967.

But what really ignited me was that once again American history had been stolen from us. I had just recently been angry about discovering that May Day, the enormous international socialist event on May 1, commemorated the Haymarket Square massacre of the workers in Chicago who were struggling for an eight-hour day in 1881. Noel told me that the resolution for International Women’s Day in 1910 was to commemorate a demonstration in New York in 1908 of garment workers who were demanding an end to sweatshops and to child labor, and also the right to vote.

The part about the vote intrigued me because women on the Left as late as 1969 were being hooted down and dismissed as bourgeois whenever we demanded our rights as women—indeed as human beings. And Leftist men were perpetuating the myth that no one in the working class wanted any women’s rights, including the right to vote. I had been collecting mimeographed manifestos and letters to the editors of the Leftist press about many such outrages by men in the antiwar and Civil Rights movements for six months or more in order to try to recapture my sanity after having been battered and nearly killed by my own comrade and lover. (He had been a child prodigy violinist and was by then a revolutionary poet. We met demonstrating in Puerto Rico against the U.S. invasion of Santo Domingo. The grief over the loss of that relationship and my fright over how it ended seemed insurmountable until I discovered the rising up of women in all the movements of the sixties.)

In January/February 1969 I was invited to a little party of sociology professors to show the mimeos and pamphlets to Pauline Bart, who was considering teaching a Women’s Studies course, the first at UC Berkeley. As we were being introduced, everyone’s favorite male radical professor, David Matza, whose courage had been demonstrated on the Third World Strike picket lines on campus, overheard us, and before I could speak he told Pauline not to bother teaching such a course, because there was not enough about women to fill a quarter course. That betrayal knocked me into the orbit of the pure fury of those heady days. In three days I pestered friends everywhere and pulled together a list of 1,000 women in world history: politics, the arts and sciences.

I had had the immense privilege of going to girls’ schools and a women’s college. It was only in my last year in college, at UC Berkeley, that I discovered that not everybody knew that women could do everything! I nailed the list to Professor Matza’s door (in homage to Luther) and went in search of a local women’s liberation group through the father of one of its members.

Bill Mandel had a show on the Soviet Union on Pacifica Radio that I started listening to in 1960 in New York, though it originated from Pacifica’s mother station in Berkeley. He regularly read from the Soviet press on International Women’s Day. His daughter, Phyllis, a long-time activist, took me to the Berkeley Women’s Liberation group, which then organized the first street demonstration about International Women’s Day since 1947 in the U.S. Many of us dressed up as women in history from my list. I was a cross between Alexandra Kollontai, the Bolshevik feminist, and Isadora Duncan, the American woman who lived for a time in Russia and transformed the world of dance away from the confines of the ballet.

Liberation News Service picked up the story from a San Francisco paper about our parade in Berkeley and its sources from my list. The publicity from their article caused people from this and many other countries to begin to send me everything imaginable about women in history, including information about their own family members. People also came to visit from around the country, and to volunteer. Ten thousand copies of the list, by now called the HERSTORY SYNOPSIS, were sold within a few short years. Five thousand people have volunteered here.

We put out the only national women’s liberation newsletter from April to December 1969, SPAZM: the Sophia Perovskaya and Andrei Zhelyabov Memorial Society for Peoples’ Freedom through Women’s Liberation. Sophia and Andrei were lovers. She was the 16-year-old daughter of the governor of St. Petersburg and the two of them assassinated the czar in 1881. I was not comfortable about assassinations as a political tactic, having just lived through several in the sixties:  John Kennedy, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy.

But I liked the part about the comrade-lovers, and the rebellious adolescent daughter of a powerful man. The name was also in the style of rock groups, but the last part of it fully embodied my philosophy for peoples’ freedom, which I still hold today. By January 1970 we had to put SPAZM into newsprint as it was too unwieldy as a zine. Other people wanted to do a paper, too, so It Aint Me Babe, the first national newspaper of the U.S. Women’s Liberation Movement, was born. (People from off our backs called me to pick my brain for their name, which ended up being a combination of the quote from the Grimke sisters about getting our brothers off our necks and revulsion at the quote attributed to Stokely Carmichael about the position of women in SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee) being prone and silent. Their paper came out only a few weeks later, the first national feminist paper to emerge from the East Coast.)

There were many other firsts from the Women’s History Library:

  • the anthology Masculine/Feminine in 1969 with all the great manifestos;
  • The Women’s Songbook;
  • Female Artists Past and Present: Films by and/or about Women Internationally, Past and Present;
  • Bibliography on Rape; and
  • Women and Religion Bibliography.

Most lasting are the microfilms of the records of our movement: nearly one million documents now available through the National Women’s History Project in Santa Rosa, California (707-636-2888; nwhp1980@gmail.com).

Besides handling the distribution of our library’s resources, the people at National Women’s History Project have carried on the ideas we had when we founded our library beyond our wildest dreams, including their idea and work making Congress declare March as Women’s History Month. They also have put up the fabulous website for all of the celebrations in 1998 for the 150th anniversary of the Women’s Rights Movement in the U.S.

My archive features documents, media, and other materials collected over the last fifty years. The collection pertains to the Civil Rights movement, the women’s movement, and a wide array of precursors and overlapping social movements from the second half of the twentieth century, with special emphasis on the women’s movement, including references to my own successful state-by-state campaign to abolish the legal privilege and exemption for marital and date rape. The presence of my materials in the Laura X Social Movements Archives most directly addresses the need to “understand the moral and ethical values of a diverse society and understand that many courses of action are guided by value judgments about the way things ought to be ….”

The important reservoirs of tens of thousands of documents from local, national, and international sources that constitute the Laura X Social Movements Archives have been carefully preserved and maintained for historical research and presentation. The collection is derived from my participation in an extensive array of social movements, including the anti-nuke, peace, Civil Rights, Free Speech, women’s rights, and environmental movements; my life in St. Louis and beyond; the organizations I founded; the materials I produced for my organizing work around the country; materials produced by other organizations that I collected for posterity; and smaller collections donated to me.

The staff and volunteers of the Laura X Institute (see text of informational flyer below) are currently engaged in sorting, cataloging, and assigning “finding aids” to the 580 boxes of materials, in order to keep them vibrant, accessible, and available for researchers, curators, film makers, and other interested parties. Once finished, the Institute’s archive will be a resource for students, professors, historians, film documentarians, museums, exhibitions, high school teachers, activists, and other members of the general public.

Our prior collection, covering up to 1974, was converted to microfilm and the master microfilm donated in 1989 by the Women’s History Research Center (WHRC) to the National Women’s History Project (NWHP). Since 1974 the microfilm copies have been distributed through NWHP and WHRC, now currently through Primary Source Media/Cengage Learning to some 450 libraries in fourteen countries so far.

We recently were displaced after the Missouri legislature removed funding to the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Many programs were cut, including our archives. So it is vital now that we get this project finished. We are experiencing many challenges in maintaining our collection of over 500 boxes. We also have to raise funding to rent our rooms near Harris-Stowe State University and St. Louis University. Museum-quality storage is expensive; HVAC systems, filtration, and proper shelving all come at high costs. Accessibility to our documents also is challenging; right now we can’t afford the price of digitizing all of our work and the equipment needed for it, which is why we are reaching out to other sources of funding. We would like our collection to be fully cataloged first so we can then get the large donation to digitize. Even cataloging our collection is costly and time consuming for only a few individuals.

If our collection were being funded under the Reveal Digital model, they would put it up on their crowd-funding website; once we had the support from libraries, we would go into production. No library pays a lot and yet every library benefits. My archives could be invaluable to courses in women’s history, the environment, the social movements of the sixties and seventies, and many others. The collaboration between libraries and archives is important; as we step into a more digitally focused age, the importance of these documents and publications becomes more apparent for researchers.

We are not trying to recreate history, but learn from it.

* * *

[Following is the text of the flyer from the Laura X World Institute and Archives]

 

                   

Legacy and Learning of Social Justice Movements

JOIN US TO SAVE 47* YEARS OF FEMINIST HISTORY

 MEET THE CHALLENGE: Raise funds, find homes, send your favorite interns, and even swing by St. Louis to be inspired.

BACKGROUND HISTORY

The legendary Women’s History Library, created by pioneer feminist Laura X with a mostly-volunteer staff, gathered nearly a million documents on the changing lives of women from 1968-1974, including the only comprehensive records of our movement, nationally and internationally. The library divided the archives into three collections for microfilm publishing: HERSTORY (90 reels of 821 serial titles: 20,000 issues of journals, newspapers, and newsletters from 40 countries); WOMEN’S HEALTH/MENTAL HEALTH (14 reels) and WOMEN AND LAW (40 reels covering Education, Politics, Employment, Abortion, Family, Rape, Prison, Prostitution, etc).

This historic treasure, described by the American Library Association as “the most comprehensive record of any social protest movement” is now available on microfilm in nearly 500 libraries in 14 countries. These microfilms can be purchased from the National Women’s History Project (707-636-2888), the great group that convinced Congress to make National Women’s History Month official. (The Week was approved in 1981 and the Month was recognized in 1987.)

Once the first stage of the Women’s History Library’s work was accomplished—the preservation of the first part of the woman’s liberation movement until 1974—Laura X, again with volunteers, founded the National Clearinghouse on Marital and Date Rape in 1978. Documents and papers from numerous women’s movement groups and individuals continued to flow in despite the Library’s announced 1974 end of collecting, while Laura X accumulated more material from her own work on rape.

The University of Illinois took over many of the Clearinghouse resources in 1985, but Laura X continued until 1993, when she succeeded in making marital and date rape a crime in all 50 states.

THE PROBLEM—Without You

For proper preservation of perishable materials, an apartment was rented for storage where room temperature, humidity, pesticide use, and other factors could be controlled. Laura finally gave up the non-profit in 2000. She has now spent over 41 years trying to stop the flow of materials to her while searching for funding and institutions to take over the materials!

Temporarily the bulk of the materials since 74’ were housed at the University of Missouri-St. Louis but, the legislature of Missouri cut $4 million dollars worth of project and program funding including ours. We moved to a strategic storefront next to Harris-Stowe State University and St. Louis University to be available to researchers and interns.

The papers, approximately 580 boxes, must be sorted still!

THE SOLUTION—With You

You will seek to find repositories for the remainder, with all the energy and brains you can muster!

Your tax-deductible donations and grants for the work of the Institute and archives as well as those for interns and digitizing may be sent to:

Website: lauraxinstitute.org   Email: laurax@sbcglobal.net

*PS. It should be noted that, as a social activist since her student days in the Sixties, thousands of documents from other social movements are also available.

The Laura X – Laura Rand Orthwein, Jr. World Institute is the teaching arm of Laura’s new nonprofit, Laura’s Social Movements Archives, which feature documents and other materials collected by Laura and so many others, over the last fifty years since the Free Speech Movement.

We have moved into a new location and would love any advice on lighting, archival materials, and digitizing equipment to use.

 

 

 

Redirecting Library Budgets in Support of Open Access

In my last post I reproduced the talk that I gave at the “Women’s History in the Digital World 2015” conference that was held at Bryn Mawr College on May 21-22. Today I am honored to publish the talk given by one of my fellow panelists, Andrée Rathemacher, head of acquisitions at University of Rhode Island. If you are a librarian or anyone interested in how library dollars are spent, especially why so few dollars are being spent on books nowadays, you will find this guest blog to be a major eye opener.

Andrée Rathemacher at Rhode Island Library Association conference, May 28, 2015. (c) 2015 Dhana Whiteing

Andrée Rathemacher at Rhode Island Library Association conference, May 28, 2015. (c) 2015 Dhana Whiteing

Introduction

As my introduction noted, I’m the head of acquisitions at the University of Rhode Island Libraries. It is the Acquisitions Unit that expends the library’s annual materials budget of about $4 million. I’ve been in this role since 2009; before that, from 2003 to 2009, I was the serials librarian, managing the library’s thousands of print and online journal subscriptions.

Perhaps it is this personal involvement with channeling $4 million a year to various publishers that has turned me into an open access advocate.

Before I tell my story, let me share with you a definition of open access from open access leader Peter Suber, philosophy scholar and current director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication. Suber provides this definition: “Open-access or OA literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.”

Thus, open access removes price barriers (like subscription fees and licensing fees), and open access removes permissions barriers (that is, restrictions on how material can be reused).

We’ll return to this definition later.

What I’m going to share with you today is the story of how I came to support open access and to believe that libraries should show their support of open access with their collection dollars.

 Scene One — Journal Cancellations

I started working as an academic librarian in November 1995. Not too many months after I started my job, the library embarked upon what was one in a long series of serials cancellations: In 1996 we canceled 169 titles that cost $216,000.

Incidentally, I was assigned as liaison to departments in the College of Business Administration, and in this role I was expected to meet with each department chairperson and share with them the list of journal titles in their area that the library did not plan on renewing. During the meeting with the chair of the Accounting Department, a senior accounting professor sitting in on the meeting began yelling at me in a classic case of shooting the messenger. After several minutes of this, I decided that I’d had enough, so I got up to leave. This faculty member followed me down the hall, shouting, “You come back here, young lady. I’m not finished talking to you.” Eyes straight ahead, I continued my walk back to the library and went straight to the office of our collection manager, where I promptly burst into tears and told him I was never going to go back to the College of Business ever again. He started laughing. It was a formative experience.

Such cuts had been commonplace, and they kept coming.

  • There had been cuts in 1976 (683 titles), 1983 (142 titles), 1988 (210 titles), 1991 (906 titles), and 1994 (131 titles).
  • After the tears incident, there followed more cuts in 1998 (237 titles), 1999 (196 titles), and 2003 (274 titles).

Then, after the financial crisis, in 2008 and 2009 (two years in a row), we cut a total of 1,212 titles worth $646,000.

This time, as serials librarian, these were my cuts. I was the one responsible for carrying them out.

Hey, after the fact, I even got two book chapters published on the topic.

Though it did occur to me that someday when I looked back on my professional career and how I made my mark, however small, it was kind of bleak that because of these circumstances the expertise I had developed was “how to cancel stuff.” (Incidentally, my next article, co-authored with a colleague with whom I led a project to dispose of almost a mile of bound periodicals from the library collection in order to make room for a “learning commons,” revealed my expertise in “how to throw stuff out.” Not the most inspiring legacy.)

This experience of journal cancellations was not unique to the University of Rhode Island. As many of you have probably heard, price increases for journals have far outpaced the rate of inflation since the mid-1980s. From 1986 to 2012, the cost of library materials in general has risen 322%. Continuing resources (that is, serials) have increased by 456%! During this time period, the general rate of inflation measured by the CPI only rose 109%.

In concrete terms, this means that in 2015 URI pays (in rounded numbers):

  • $106,000 for journals published by Sage;
  • $118,000 for journals published by Springer, now “Springer Nature” following Springer’s recent acquisition of Macmillan Science and Education).

Add to that

  • $36,000 for a small handful of journals published by Nature;
  • $85,000 for journals published by Taylor and Francis;
  • $283,000 for journals published by Wiley;
  • $77,000 for journals from the American Chemical Society;

And, everyone’s favorite…

  • $703,000 for journals published by Elsevier.

To name a few examples.

Together, expenditures on journal subscriptions make up 66% of our materials budget. If you include journals plus other subscription-based electronic resources, the total climbs to 85%. This leaves just 15% for books and media.

This is typical (actually, a little worse than typical).

According to statistics from the Association of Research Libraries (which represents the largest academic libraries in North America), in 2011-2012 expenditures on ongoing resources of all kinds comprised, on average, 69% of total library materials expenditures.

Where is all this money going? Of course there are legitimate costs to publishing, but, in the case of journals, most of the work (writing articles, editing, peer reviewing) is done by academics on a voluntary basis. Much of the staggering prices of these resources go, quite simply, to publisher profit.

For example:

For those of us not so into business, is this even high? Yes, it is high.

For comparison:

So why is this relevant, other than illustrating how I became an open access advocate?

Why is it relevant to you, women’s history scholars, who don’t deal all that much with journals, especially expensive science journals?

It is relevant because this is where all the money in libraries is locked up. This is money that is not available for books, for primary source databases, for humanities materials, for innovative new services.

 Scene Two — New Forms of Digital Scholarship

Ryan Cordell is an assistant professor of English at Northeastern University and a digital humanist. One of his areas of study is viral texts in nineteenth-century newspapers. I heard him speak about his research at a workshop for librarians in April 2013.

In the nineteenth century, newspapers and periodicals published short works of fiction, poetry, and other prose. At that time, before modern copyright law, it was common for editors to reprint these texts, originally published elsewhere. The texts moved around the country through this network, resulting in a shared print culture.

Cordell’s research seeks to identify these shared texts, to examine which were reprinted and why, and to map how they traveled and changed as they passed from publication to publication. Cordell’s primary source for his research is the Library of Congress’s website Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. The site contains the full text and page images of many American newspapers between 1836 and 1922.

Cordell and his colleague David Smith, a professor of computer and information science, “scraped” the full text of all newspapers published before 1860 in Chronicling America and performed a computational analysis using algorithms they developed to identify matching texts. Thus far, the team has identified thousands of viral texts, including minor pieces by major authors that were far more influential than previously realized. They have also mashed up their data with other open data to reveal connections between viral texts and the expansion of railroads, the establishment of political boundaries, and local population characteristics.

Yet, according to Cordell, there are “glaring holes” in his research. His data includes no content from Massachusetts—and Boston was a major publishing center of the time. There is also very little available to him from New York or Philadelphia, also vital to the period. He lacks this content because it is locked up in commercial databases of archival newspaper content, such as those published by Gale, Readex, and ProQuest. Although his institution subscribes to a number of these databases, the ability to download the text for analysis (which his research requires) is not available.

Hearing Ryan speak that day really deepened my understanding of the need for open access.

Remember that the definition of open access refers to material that is not just free to read, without cost, but free to re-use.

Ryan found that innovative re-use of the content of these databases was either not possible at all, or was possible only by special arrangement, under limited conditions, for a financial cost.

Even though many of the sources in archival, primary-source databases are themselves in the public domain, once the content is digitized, vendors assert intellectual property rights over it and sell it for a profit. Thus, they are not readily willing to openly release the full text.

Due to pressure from libraries, some vendors of primary-source databases are beginning to include text and data-mining rights in their licenses with libraries. (Gale was the first in a license pioneered by Darby Orcutt at North Carolina State University.) But this is still awkward, involving hard drives arriving in the mail and very bad quality OCR, as scholar Paul Fyfe at NC State has discovered. And still, these arrangements, when available, are only available to researchers at institutions that subscribe to a given resource.

So, open access is not only for journals; and it is not only to make sure that material is “free to read.” Open access applies to all types of scholarly materials, and re-use is a very important component.

This is why an open access model like Reveal Digital, as Ken outlined, is so important.

And it is important now, since even a casual perusal of the websites of Adam Matthew, Alexander Street Press, EBSCO, Gale, ProQuest, and Readex shows that they are working with libraries and other cultural heritage institutions to create newly digitized archival collections at a prolific rate. In fact, a 2015 press release from ProQuest boasted that, in 2014, the company digitized approximately 12 million pages of historical documents.

What Can Libraries Do?

Among the core values of librarianship are access to information, facilitating education and lifelong learning, social responsibility, and the public good. Open access aligns with all of these values. In fact, there are an increasing number of opportunities for libraries to support open access initiatives through crowd-funding and other models.

Here are the open access initiatives that we’ve supported so far at the University of Rhode Island:

  • January 2014: SCOAP3, Cost: $364. SCOAP3 is a worldwide initiative coordinated by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, that converted key journals in the field of high-energy physics to open access. SCOAP3 centrally pays the article charges for articles in these journals from a common fund to which libraries contribute.
  • January 2014: Knowledge Unlatched Pilot Collection, Cost: $1,196. This is a collection of 28 newly published, open access e-books in the humanities and social sciences from 13 well-known publishers; 297 libraries from 24 countries shared the cost of publishing these titles. As of April 2015, the titles had been downloaded almost 30,000 times from around the world.
  • March 2014: Reveal Digital, Independent Voices, Cost: $10,250.
  • October 2014: Reveal Digital, SNCC Archive, Cost: $4,000 (pledge).
  • October 2014: Reveal Digital, Liberation News Service Archive, Cost: $735 (pledge).
  • October 2014: Reveal Digital, Highlander Folk School Archive, Cost: $3,250 (pledge).
  • February 2015: Open Library of Humanities, Cost: $1,000 per year for 5 years. Open-access, peer-reviewed journal and book platform for the humanities funded by an international consortium of libraries.

As you can see, these costs are not at all expensive in comparison to overall library materials budgets and the costs of many library subscriptions. I encourage you to speak with your campus librarians and press them to support these and similar open access initiatives. And to remember that all open access is connected: whether for sciences or humanities, journals or books, or archives. Because OA in any of these areas has the potential to free up money in support of OA in another. And the more examples we have of successful OA initiatives, the easier it will be to advance open access publishing models in the future.

But, of course, open access is not just, or even primarily, about saving money. Initially, it might even cost more or require hard decisions about what to support or no longer to support.

Open access is primarily about enhancing access to scholarly content and enabling creative re-use.

So, I advocate for taking some portion of library budgets that currently are used to purchase the products of legacy, closed-access publishers in order to facilitate open access to scholarship and unique primary source material through new publishing models.

In Conclusion

I believe that librarians need to resist the enclosure of the scholarly and cultural commons that is the inevitable outcome of the traditional publication model and actively participate in experiments that seek alternatives.

Preserving Radical Voices from the Civil Rights and Vietnam Eras

If you plan to attend the “Left Forum 2015” conference at John Jay College in New York this weekend, please plan to attend the panel “Digitizing Our Radical Past … Affordably,” which will be held Saturday from 5:10-7 p.m.. I will be talking about the underground press digital project that I have been working on for the past four years. Fellow panelists include Thai Jones, curator for American History at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and Kathie Sarachild, founding member of the pioneering feminist group the Redstockings.

LeftForum2015_masthead_4

 Overview of Panel

This panel is about the work that Reveal Digital has been doing for the past four years to digitize underground, alternative, and literary newspapers and magazines from the fifties through the eighties as a way to preserve our radical and literary past and make it accessible to the current and future generations of activists, scholars, and writers. It’s no secret among academics that young scholars today look first and primarily to the Internet for sources of information and may be totally unaware of the vast treasures that await them in the back shelves of special collections libraries. Digitizing these treasures is a first step toward making them accessible.

But digitizing alone isn’t enough to ensure accessibility, especially if the resulting digital collections are priced beyond the reaches of academic libraries, which are the primary purchasers of these collections. This is the predicament that libraries face under the traditional economic model employed by traditional publishing companies, which offer digital collections at prices so high that only a small number of libraries can purchase them ever and therefore only their clients have access to them ever. In addition, researchers increasingly want the ability to text-mine digitized content, which requires access to the entire full-text corpus of digitized collections, something that is typically unavailable under the traditional publication model due to intellectual property concerns.

Meanwhile, library budgets strain to keep up with rising prices for print and digital collections.

Reveal Digital has entered this arena with a unique new library crowd-funding model that offers a cost-effective way for libraries to fund the digitization of special collections without trading away their digital rights, a common practice under more traditional “publishing” models. Once a project’s crowd-funding goal is achieved, the content is made open access, resulting in free access to all.

The goal of the work described above—that we call Independent Voices—is to digitize three-quarters of a million pages of underground, alternative, and literary newspapers and magazines from the fifties through the eighties by the end of January 2017. To date, we have uploaded some 250,000 pages. Our motivations are two-fold: to preserve the most important writings of our generation, which are now hidden in dark shelves of special collections libraries and beginning to yellow and crumble with age; and to make them available to current and future generations of scholars and activists.

We originally aimed to include a thousand publications in the collection but we already have surpassed that number. Our collection so far includes approximately 120 feminist and lesbian papers, 130 literary magazines, 600 military underground papers, and 180 campus, community, high school, gay, minority, prisoners’ rights, and other underground and alternative papers that have either already been or are in the process of being scanned and digitized. We even have 4 papers published by the FBI to sow dissension in the Movement.

With each paper, we are creating an exact keyword-searchable digital reproduction of every page.

RevealDigital_page

This work couldn’t be done without the immense help of a growing team of sourcing libraries that loan us original copies of these papers from their collections after we clear permission from the intellectual property rights holders. Libraries that are on board already include Duke, Northwestern, University of Wisconsin, Michigan State University, Georgia State University, University of Texas-Austin (UT-Austin), University of Buffalo, University of Washington, New York University, Bowling Green State University, University of Kansas, University of Arkansas at Little Rock (Sequoyah National Research Center), University of California-San Diego (UCSD), Oberlin College, University of Connecticut, and California Historical Society. It is not uncommon that for some titles no single library owns a complete run. In those cases, we patch together complete runs from our sourcing libraries that have partial collections. This ability to create aggregate collections is another advantage of digitizing.

Independent Voices is the first collection to be funded through Reveal Digital’s library crowd-funding model. Beyond the Independent Voices project, we are working with SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) to create a SNCC Digital Archive, with Highlander Folk School to digitize their papers from its founding through the Civil Rights era, and with Liberation News Service, the AP-UPI of the underground press, to create a collection that includes their photos and news packets. Other projects are in the conceptual stage.

In the tradition of Kickstarter, Reveal Digital has created a crowd-funding website at http://revealdigital.com/ . There, we introduce every new project that is under consideration, lay out the individual costs to create the site, reduce the total cost to a per-library cost based on a tiered pricing structure (approximately 20 percent of what libraries would pay a typical digitizing company for a similar collection), and ask for non-binding commitments of support. Once the total of commitments reaches the cost-recovery threshold, we begin the permission-clearance phase.

Libraries that fund any one collection receive early access to that collection, free MARC records, COUNTER compliant usage metrics, and full support for mass text downloading, as well as initial consideration for ideas to make their own collections more widely available through the cost recovery = open access economic model, without giving up ownership of the resulting digital files.

Libraries have a long tradition of working together for the greater good of the broader library community. In that same tradition, no library is expected to support every Reveal Digital project but every library will have access to every project once they become open access. Thus, libraries supporting this unique new approach to funding the digitization of special collections ensure that access to important cultural material is free and available to all.

You can learn more at http://voices.revealdigital.com/voices. Because we aren’t yet open access, you can only view the papers on that site if you have access to one of our supporting libraries. However, you can still review a sample of our work at our demo site, http://demo.revealdigital.com/voices.

 Panel of Presenters

  • Chair: Ken Wachsberger
  • Ken Wachsberger will give an overview of what the underground/alternative press was, focusing not on the countercultural history that begins with the Los Angeles Free Press but rather the broader, more diverse history that goes back to the forties and includes also minority papers, GLBT papers, women’s papers, and more. He will talk about the origins of the Reveal Digital Independent Voices collection and its current status. He will introduce and explain the cost recovery = open access economic model and introduce upcoming projects and Reveal’s crowd-funding website.
  • Thai Jones, Herbert H. Lehman Curator for American History at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library, has worked in a number of ways to expand access to Columbia’s archival materials. He will talk about the political significance of open access, especially in relation to critical and authentic teaching and learning.
  • Kathie Sarachild, a founding member of the Redstockings, one of the most important feminist groups of the sixties and seventies and today a grassroots, activist “think tank,” will talk about the challenges the Redstockings have had in maintaining their Women’s Liberation Archives for Action and raising funds to have it cataloged, microfilmed, and digitized for a wider public, as the group continues to organize, mobilize, and develop and disseminate radical feminist ideas.

 Bios

Ken Wachsberger is an internationally known author, editor, and speaker as well as a renowned expert on the Vietnam era underground and alternative press. Ken is a book contract advisor with the National Writers Union and a frequent lecturer on the topics of contracts and copyright. He is the former editor or managing editor of several peer-reviewed publications from Pierian Press and MCB University Press. During his tenure as Contracts and Copyright Manager with Reveal Digital, Ken has led the drive to identify and obtain permission for over 1,200 underground, alternative, and literary newspapers and magazines from the fifties through the eighties to be part of Reveal’s Independent Voices digital project.

Thai Jones is the Herbert H. Lehman Curator for U.S. History at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library. He is the author of two books: More Powerful Than Dynamite: Radicals, Plutocrats, Progressives, and New York’s Year of Anarchy (Bloomsbury, 2014), and A Radical Line: From the Labor Movement to the Weather Underground, One Family’s Century of Conscience (Free Press, 2004). Jones is currently working on a new book on the labor movement and the environment in a Nevada boomtown. Tentatively entitled, Boomtown: Dreams, Greed, Destruction, and the Fall of the Old West, it is under contract with Harvard University Press, with an expected publication date of Fall 2016.

Kathie Sarachild is a pioneer of the women’s movement of the sixties and seventies. She took part in the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer as a volunteer with SNCC and joined the female liberation movement in1967, working with New York Radical Women, for whose organizing she developed the slogan “sisterhood is powerful” and the program for “consciousness-raising.” She was one of four women to hang the “Women’s Liberation” banner inside Convention Hall at the 1968 protest of the Miss America Pageant. Sarachild was a founding member of the Redstockings, one of the most important feminist groups of the period. She was an author of the Redstockings’ “Principles” and “Manifesto” in 1969, and an editor and contributor to the 1975 Redstockings anthology Feminist Revolution, which was later reprinted by Random House in a censored edition. Redstockings today is a new kind of grassroots, activist “think tank,” started by Redstockings’ veterans for defending and advancing the women’s liberation agenda. Sarachild is director of the Redstockings Archive for Action, http://www.redstockings.org, which was started in 1989 to make the formative and radical 1960’s experience of the movement more widely available for study by current and future feminist activists.

Preserving Women’s Voices from the Civil Rights and Vietnam Eras

If you plan to attend the “Women’s History in the Digital World 2015” conference at Bryn Mawr College this Thursday and Friday, May 21-22, please plan to attend the panel “Feminist and Lesbian Periodicals in the Digital Age … Rebroadcasting Our Voices,” which will be held Friday from 1:30 to 3. I will be talking about the underground press digital project that I have been working on for the past four years. Fellow panelists include Julie Enszer, Andrée Rathemacher, and the legendary feminist archivist Laura X.

Overview of Panel

This panel is about the work that Reveal Digital has been doing for the past four years to digitize important feminist and lesbian archives as a way to preserve women’s history and make it accessible to the current and future generations of activists. It’s no secret among academics that young scholars today look first and primarily to the Internet for sources of information and may be totally unaware of the vast treasures that await them in the back shelves of special collections libraries. Digitizing these treasures is a first step toward making them accessible.

But digitizing alone isn’t enough to ensure accessibility, especially if the resulting digital collections are priced beyond the reaches of academic libraries, which are the primary purchasers of these collections. This is the predicament that libraries face under the traditional economic model employed by traditional publishing companies, which offer digital collections at prices so high that only a small number of libraries can purchase them ever and therefore only their clients have access to them ever. In addition, researchers increasingly want the ability to text-mine digitized content, which requires access to the entire full-text corpus of digitized collections, something that is typically unavailable under the traditional publication model due to intellectual property concerns.

Meanwhile, library budgets strain to keep up with rising prices for print and digital collections.

Reveal Digital has entered this arena with a unique new economic model called “cost recovery = open access.” Briefly, what we promise is to sell any one collection only until we have earned back enough money to recoup our expenses and salaries and then, after a brief period of exclusivity for those libraries that buy into it, we make that product open access, which means it will be freely available to anyone through simple Internet searching and the full-text content will be available for text mining.

The work described above to digitize women’s papers is part of a larger project—that we call Independent Voices—to digitize a million pages of underground, alternative, and literary newspapers and magazines from the fifties through the eighties by the end of January 2017. Our motivations are two-fold: to preserve the most important writings of our generation, which are now hidden in dark shelves of special collections libraries and beginning to yellow and crumble with age; and to make them available to current and future generations of scholars and activists.

We originally aimed to include a thousand publications in the collection but we already have surpassed that number. In addition to the approximately 120 feminist and lesbian papers included so far (see list below following bios), we also have some 130 literary magazines, 600 military underground papers, and 190 campus, community, high school, gay, minority, prisoners’ rights, and other underground and alternative papers. We even have 4 papers published by the FBI to sow dissension in the Movement.

With each paper, we are creating an exact keyword-searchable digital reproduction of every page. So far we’ve uploaded over 250,000 pages. Our goal is to digitize and upload at least three-quarters of a million pages by the end of January 2017 and to go into open access soon after that.

This work couldn’t be done without the immense help of a growing team of sourcing libraries that loan us original copies of these papers from their collections after we clear permission from the intellectual property rights holders. Libraries that are on board already include Duke, Northwestern, University of Wisconsin, Michigan State University, Georgia State University, University of Texas-Austin (UT-Austin), University of Buffalo, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, University of Washington, New York University, Bowling Green State University, University of Kansas, University of Arkansas at Little Rock (Sequoyah National Research Center), William Way LGBT Center, University of California-San Diego (UCSD), and University of Illinois, Chicago Public Library, University of Michigan, Oberlin College, University of Connecticut, and California Historical Society. It is not uncommon that for some titles no single library owns a complete run. In those cases, we patch together complete runs from our sourcing libraries that have partial collections. This ability to create aggregate collections is another advantage of digitizing.

Our sourcing libraries receive from us keyword-searchable digital files and the metadata of all titles that they share with us, to do with as they wish, including making them searchable through their websites. We reimburse them for all shipping and handling costs.

Independent Voices is the first collection to be funded through Reveal Digital’s cost recovery = open access model. Beyond the Independent Voices project, we are working with SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) to create a SNCC Digital Archive, with Highlander Folk School to digitize their papers from its founding through the Civil Rights era, and with Liberation News Service, the AP-UPI of the underground press, to create a collection that includes their photos and news packets. Other projects are in the conceptual stage.

In the tradition of Kickstarter, Reveal Digital has created a crowd-funding website at http://revealdigital.com/ . There, we introduce every new project that is under consideration, lay out the individual costs to create the site, reduce the total cost to a per-library cost based on a tiered pricing structure (approximately 20 percent of what libraries would pay a typical digitizing company for a similar collection), and ask for non-binding commitments of support. Once the total of commitments reaches the cost-recovery threshold, we begin the permission-clearance phase.

Libraries that fund any one collection receive early access to that collection, free MARC records, COUNTER compliant usage metrics, and full support for mass text downloading, as well as initial consideration for ideas to make their own collections more widely available through the cost recovery = open access economic model, without giving up ownership of the resulting digital files.

Libraries have a long tradition of working together for the greater good of the broader library community. In that same tradition, no library is expected to support every Reveal Digital project but every library will have access to every project once they become open access. Thus, libraries supporting this unique new approach to funding the digitization of special collections ensure that access to important cultural material is free and available to all.

You can learn more at http://voices.revealdigital.com/voices. Because we aren’t yet open access, you can only view the papers on that site if you have access to one of our supporting libraries. However, you can still review a sample of our work at our demo site, http://demo.revealdigital.com/voices.

Panel of presenters:      

  • Julie R. Enszer: Chair/Comment
  •  Ken Wachsberger will introduce and explain the cost recovery = open access economic model—how it works, why it is needed, why it is important for libraries to support it— for digitizing library and other special collections with a focus on the Independent Voices collection of feminist and lesbian papers. He will introduce some of the upcoming projects and the crowd-funding site.
  • Laura X is known far and wide for her extensive archives that document the women’s movement of the late-1960s and early 1970s. This material has been cataloged and microfilmed but is not keyword-searchable. Subsequent materials from Laura’s archives have not yet even been cataloged and are not easily accessible despite their immense value to researchers. Laura will talk about the challenges she has had in maintaining her collection, storing the 600 hardcopy boxes, raising funds to have her collection cataloged and then digitized, and how Reveal Digital’s cost recovery = open access economic model could bring her that funding.
  •  Andrée Rathemacher, acquisitions librarian at the University of Rhode Island, advocates for the University Libraries’ support of several collaborative open access initiatives including Reveal Digital. She will talk about her commitment to open access as well as the reasons why it is crucial that libraries channel their resources to support and facilitate open access to scholarship and unique primary source materials.

Bios:

Julie R Enszer is a poet and Visiting Assistant Scholar, Department of Women’s Studies, at University of Maryland. Her scholarship is at the intersection of U.S. history and literature with particular attention to twentieth century U.S. feminist and lesbian histories, literatures, and cultures. By examining lesbian print culture with the tools of history and literary studies, she reconsiders histories of the Women’s Liberation Movement and gay liberation. Her book manuscript, A Fine Bind: Lesbian-Feminist Publishing from 1969 through 2009, tells stories of a dozen lesbian-feminist publishers to consider the meaning of the theoretical and political formations of lesbian-feminism, separatism, and cultural feminism. Enszer is the author of two collections of poetry, Sisterhood (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2013) and Handmade Love (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2010). She is editor of Milk & Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2011). Milk & Honey was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Poetry. She is the editor of Sinister Wisdom, a multicultural lesbian literary and art journal, and a regular book reviewer for the Lambda Book Report and Calyx.

Ken Wachsberger is an internationally known author, editor, and speaker as well as a renowned expert on the Vietnam era underground and alternative press. Ken is a book contract advisor with the National Writers Union and a frequent lecturer on the topics of contracts and copyright. He is the former editor or managing editor of several peer-reviewed publications from Pierian Press and MCB University Press. During his tenure as Contracts and Copyright Manager with Reveal Digital, Ken has led the drive to identify and obtain permission for over 1,200 underground, alternative, and literary newspapers and magazines from the fifties through the eighties to be part of Reveal’s Independent Voices digital project, including some 120 feminist and lesbian papers.

Laura X began collecting first political materials in 1964 as part of her activist archivist work during the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, and then primarily literature on women and women’s health and legal issues starting in 1968. Two years later she founded the Women’s History Research Center, which maintained the International Women’s History Archive, an internationally recognized collection of periodicals, pamphlets, songs, leaflets, and other materials that document the women’s movement of the late-1960s until July 1974. Laura published SPAZM, the only national women’s liberation newsletter from April through December 1969; and was an original member of It Aint Me Babe, the first national newspaper of the Women’s Liberation Movement. She founded the National Clearinghouse on Marital and Date Rape in 1978 and the next year led the successful campaign to criminalize marital rape in California. She served as consultant coordinator to campaigns that by 1993 successfully eradicated exemptions from prosecution for marital, date, and cohabitation rape in the remaining 44 states (there were five before California). Last year she founded the Laura X Institute http://www.lauraxinstitute.org/ to house her Social Movements Archives from the women’s movement and overlapping social movements, which she has never stopped collecting.

Andrée J. Rathemacher is Professor and Head of Acquisitions in the University Libraries at the University of Rhode Island, where she manages the materials budget of approximately $4 million. An advocate of open access and scholarly communication reform, she chaired the University’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Open Access in 2012-2013 and played an instrumental role in the passage of an open access policy by the University of Rhode Island faculty. She currently serves as the Faculty Senate Designate for the URI Open Access Policy. In 2013-2014 she initiated the creation of the URI Open Access Fund and is the fund administrator. She advocates for the University Libraries’ support of collaborative open access initiatives such as SCOAP3, Knowledge Unlatched, Reveal Digital, and the Open Library of Humanities. She is currently Co-Chair of the ACRL New England Chapter Scholarly Communications Special Interest Group.

Feminist and Lesbian Papers Already in the Digital Collection

13th Moon, Aegis; Ain’t I a Woman (Iowa City); Amazon; Amazon Quarterly: A Lesbian Feminist Arts Journal; And Aint I a Woman (Seattle); Aphra; B.A.D. (Big Apple Dyke) News; BattleActs; Big Mama Rag; Black Belt Woman: The Magazine for Women in the Martial Arts and Self Defense; Black Maria; Black Woman’s Voice; Branching Out; Bread & Roses; Chrysalis, Common Lives/Lesbian Lives; Conditions; Connexions: An International Women’s Quarterly; Country Women; CWLU News: Newsletter of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union (and three papers associated with CWLU: Womankind, Blazing Star, and Secret Storm); Dayton Women’s Liberation Newsletter, Distaff; Dyke, A Quarterly; Dykes & Gorgons; Echo of Sappho, Everywoman; The Eye; Female Studies Series; Feminary; Feminist Alliance Against Rape; Feminist Art Journal, Feminist Bookstore News/Feminist Bookstore Newsletter; Feminist Voice; Feminist Women’s Health Center Newsletter; From the Ground Up: A Seattle Feminist Newspaper; The Furies; Heresies: A Feminist Journal on Arts and Politics; Her-self; HOT WIRE: The Journal of Women’s Music and Culture; Houston Breakthrough: Where Women Are News; Hysteria; IKON; It Aint Me Babe; Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, Killer Dyke; KNOW; The Ladder; Lady Unique Inclination of the Night; Lavender Vision; Lavender Woman; Lesbian Connection; The Lesbian Insider/Inside Her/Inciter; Lesbian News; Lesbian Tide; Lilith; Marin Women’s Newsletter/News Journal; The Matriarchist; Matrices; Media Report to Women; Meeting Ground; Mom’s Apple Pie; Motive (feminist issue, lesbian issue); National Communication Network for the Elimination of Violence against Women, New Directions for Women; New Women’s Times; New York Radical Feminists Newsletter; Newsreport; No More Fun and Games: A Journal of Female Liberation; Notes from the [First/Second/Third]Year; off our backs; On Our Backs; Paid My Dues, Pandora, Quest/a feminist quarterly; Radical Chick; The Second Page, Second Wave: A Magazine for the New Feminism; Sinister Wisdom; Sojourner; SPAZM; The Spokeswoman; Tell-a-Woman; Tooth and Nail; Tribad; Triple Jeopardy; Union W.A.G.E., Up From Under, Voices of the Women’s Liberation Movement; WomaNews; Woman’s World; WomanSpirit; Women: A Journal of Liberation; Women and Art; Women and Their Bodies/Our Bodies Ourselves; Women in Print Newsletter; Women Organizing; Women’s News…For a Change; The Women’s Page; and Women’s Press. Also to be included is the groundbreaking paper “a kind of memo” (later published in Liberation as “Sex and Caste”), written by Mary King and Casey Hayden.