This summer, a group of faculty at University of Houston achieved Badge 1: Foundations of Digital Humanities (DH) Project Development, a component of the inaugural Micro-credential in the DH program. Led by UH Libraries and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Data Science Institute (HPE DSI), the micro-credential represents the educational element of the joint Digital Humanities Core (DHC) initiative.
The program was designed to address scholarship priorities at UH by researchers, for researchers.
“The DHC is part of the University’s investment in expanded infrastructure for interdisciplinary research – in particular, for research that addresses timely and complex societal problems,” said Taylor Davis-Van Atta, head of Research Services at UH Libraries. “The curriculum incorporates strategies around project planning and development, understanding data collection and management processes, and issues of labor and funding in a methodical way, while taking into consideration the particular context of a researcher, and recognizing there are different timescales, incentive structures, and disciplinary norms in play.”
Tenure-track or promotion-eligible non-tenure track faculty interested in building and securing funding for a public or digital humanities project completed Badge 1 with a plan and proposal in place.
“As researchers, we know our best strength is our relationship to the research we do,” said Linda García Merchant, PhD, public humanities data librarian. “Faculty have amazing ideas for projects—content development is never an issue. What our micro-credential program does for researchers is scaffold the practice of DH into planning and funding the three phases of project development: discovery, prototyping, and production, giving researchers a manageable approach to DH scholarship.”
“This partnership between the Libraries and the HPE Data Science Institute has been very productive and satisfying and also shows the value of having a core facility in DH,” said Claudia Neuhauser, PhD, interim vice chancellor/vice president for research and director of HPE DSI. “The testimonies of the participants of our summer micro-credential program clearly show the value of this structured program to give our researchers the tools to effectively develop and carry out research projects in the DH.”
For Melody Yunzi Li, PhD, assistant professor in Chinese Studies at UH, the program helped to boost her project, which examines anti-Asian racism during the pandemic in 2021 using Storymap as a technological and educational tool. Being a part of the micro-credential cohort inspired Professor Li to think about DH on a new level, through readings, group discussions, and public lectures on relevant topics.
“I am honored to be part of the first cohort,” Li said. “Linda and her team are very knowledgeable in building the DH projects/program and this is a great start to a fantastic institutional program. It’s important to build a DH infrastructure for the school.”
The micro-credential program in DH fills a critical need for incorporating tech into research and teaching, particularly its structure of continued support throughout the journey.
David Mazella, associate professor in the department of English, immediately applied to the program when he learned it was open, inspired by the prospect of direction and support to move his project forward. It’s a study of authors, genres, and events depicted through English-language texts published in three British Atlantic cities, London, Edinburgh, and Philadelphia, within the target year.
“My project has been in progress for several years, and I’ve used successive teams of undergrads and library experts to help build up the datasets and visuals grounding one peer-reviewed article, with others in progress,” Mazella said. “Building datasets and interpreting data generally requires a PI directing a team, often a team of student researchers, as well as specific expertise (e.g., visualizations, data wrangling, website construction) unlikely to be found in a single individual.”
The micro-credential in DH program is essential to bring scalability and efficiency to the pursuit of DH projects such as this, and subsequently, recognition of high-impact work and funding support.
“The micro-credential program is important because UH, like most schools, needs to be able to make DH research and teaching, which is importantly collaborative, multidisciplinary and problem-driven, work at a larger and more sustainable scale,” Mazella noted.
Jo McIntosh, a PhD candidate in literature, lauded the program for its collegial structure. “After days two and three of ideation and data management planning, I had a structure and timeline for my integrated literature and DH dissertation, including with whom to meet and what to ask for and share in those meetings,” she said. “That crystallized over the following two days, and in Week 2, I felt both a sense of confidence about the meaningfulness of my dissertation project and confidence that I can apply for external funding.”
McIntosh, whose project involves the first digital-born critical edition of the first known text of its kind written and published by a woman in English, Mary Wroth’s The First Part of the Countess of Montgomery’s Urania, was pleasantly surprised by the wealth of applicable knowledge and continued access to DH guidance she received from Badge 1. “Grants were a magical unknown that I thought I might get a chance to learn about—someday,” she shared. “However, the access to software, grant application learning and support plus the follow-up appointments with Dr. García Merchant are elements of choosing UH to do my doctoral work that I did not anticipate.”
A pilot plan for customized micro-credential in DH programs for classes of graduate students will begin in fall 2023, and classes of undergraduate students will begin in spring 2024.
“The training will prepare students to assume places within project teams and contribute not only to a particular project but to the broader cohorts of scholars who are emerging from this program at all levels,” said Davis-Van Atta. “The DHC will also be introducing new resourcing and programming targeted at infrastructural and project support over the course of this academic year.”
The UH Institutional Repository will be undergoing a routine upgrade from August 14-18, 2023. During this time, works in the repository will still be accessible for viewing and download, but no new content will be added to the repository.
Full functionality, including the ability to add content to the repository, will be restored once the migration has concluded.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the Libraries at firstname.lastname@example.org.
University of Houston Libraries and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Data Science Institute (HPE DSI) are thrilled to announce the inaugural Micro-credential in the Digital Humanities program, part of the joint Digital Humanities Core (DHC) initiative.
The Digital Humanities Core facility welcomes applications from any tenure-track or promotion-eligible non-tenure track faculty interested in building a public or digital humanities project, and securing funding to launch that project. No prior experience is required but seats are limited. Applications are due on May 22, 2023.
Successful applicants will engage strategies around:
- Digital project ideation and planning
- Project, data, and labor management
- Process development
- Successful grant proposal strategies
Participants commit to attending workshops June 5 – 16, 2023 held virtually and in person at the Digital Research Commons in MD Anderson Library and the HPE DSI Visualization Theater.
For more details, please contact email@example.com.
Preserving Houston’s LGBTQ Broadcast History: The Gulf Coast LGBT Radio and Television Digitization Project
The following post was contributed by Bethany Scott, head of Preservation and Reformatting, and Emily Vinson, preservation coordinator.
In 2020, the Gulf Coast LGBT Radio and Television Digitization Project was launched with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Program. The project’s mission is to digitize, preserve, and grant access to thousands of hours of Houston’s LGBTQ broadcast history, including recordings that had not been publicly available since their initial broadcast.
Thanks to community partnerships, this project has successfully digitized all materials included in the grant, resulting in over 3,500 unique digital files. Among these files are the long-running radio program After Hours, episodes of radio series Wilde ‘n’ Stein and Lesbian & Gay Voices, among other radio programs, and 48 episodes of TV Montrose, a cable newsmagazine documenting life in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood from 1998-1999.
We are excited to announce that all episodes of TV Montrose have been published in the UH Libraries Audio/Video Repository. Within these episodes, researchers will find bygone sites of Montrose, interviews with local political figures such as Mayor Lee P. Brown, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, then-city councilperson Annise Parker, and information about local arts, health, and social events that affected the LGBTQ community.
Additionally, several years of After Hours are now available on the AV Repository, with more to come. Styled as a late-night “queer variety show,” After Hours features “music, news, chat, risqué antics, gossip, and above all, activism.” The show’s content varies from interviews with LGBTQ musicians to coverage of the March on Washington and frank discussions around gender and identity.
To ensure equitable access to these materials and promote the use of the collection, all digitized materials have been transcribed, with searchable PDFs available through the AV Repository platform. Moving forward, the project team will continue to work on transcription and descriptive work, and they plan to create an online exhibit to contextualize and highlight these historically significant materials.
The Gulf Coast LGBT Radio and Television Digitization Project is an important resource for preserving and sharing the history of Houston’s LGBTQ community. With its extensive collection of digitized materials, the project offers a unique opportunity to learn about the experiences and contributions of LGBTQ individuals and communities in Houston. We encourage everyone to explore the digitized materials and learn more about this important part of Houston’s history.
A new collection, the Diana Foundation Oral Histories, is now accessible online at the UH Libraries Audio/Video Repository.
Through the Diana Foundation Oral History project, UH Libraries collected interviews with key members and past presidents of The Diana Foundation, America’s oldest continuously-running LGBTQ+ organization. The Diana Foundation is focused on assisting and supporting the needs of the gay community by fundraising on behalf of worthwhile civic, charitable, and educational endeavors. The interviews in this collection record the life experiences of notable Dianas, as well as their many insights on The Diana Foundation in the context of the LGBTQ+ community, the city of Houston, and beyond.
The collection features items from The Diana Foundation Records found in UH Libraries Special Collections.
A new collection, the Pecan-Shellers’ Strike Documents, is now accessible online at UH Digital Collections.
Featuring 119 items from the Gov. James V. Allred Papers, found in UH Libraries Special Collections, the Pecan-Shellers’ Strike Documents collection describes labor activism of Hispanic women. As described by the Handbook of Texas, “On January 31, 1938, nearly 12,000 San Antonio pecan shellers, mostly Hispanic women, walked off their jobs.” The strike, led initially by Emma B. Tenayuca, lasted for three months and was marked by hundreds of arrests. “At Governor James Allred’s urging, the Texas Industrial Commission investigated possible violations of civil rights in San Antonio and found the police interference with the right of peaceful assembly to be unjustified.”
The materials in this collection have frequently been used for teaching in English department courses. The digital collection facilitates use of the materials in face-to-face, hybrid, or asynchronous instruction sessions.
Explore the collection with these notable items:
A student-curated digital exhibit featuring materials related to DJ Screw is available online.
From Coast to Coast: A Tour of DJ Screw’s Record Collection was created by Jenna Goodrich as part of a Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH) project.
“This project has given me a glimpse of the steps in the process of creating an exhibit, and has taught me about what all goes into archival work,” Goodrich, a senior Honors College political science major, said. “This experience is invaluable.”
Goodrich, who is interested in archival and librarian work, selected items from the archives of UH Libraries Special Collections’ Houston Hip Hop Research Collection, particularly from the DJ Screw Sound Recordings comprising over 1600 of the artist’s personal albums and singles.
In working with primary sources, Goodrich learned what curating an exhibit involves. “You have to creatively piece together a story and a theme based off of what you have,” she said. “I learned about the wide array of materials that are considered primary sources. I was working with vinyl records, a unique type of source that opened my eyes to types of media that can be used for research.”
The online exhibit and the collection it represents offer viewers a deep look at DJ Screw and the milieu in which he created mixtapes. “The DJ Screw collection tells us about the diversity and wide scope of influence of both Houston hip hop and DJ Screw himself,” Goodrich said. “Screw had records from artists across the United States and used many different types of music to create his tapes. The vast amount of records from Houston-based hip hop artists sheds light on the entrepreneurial spirit of the artists.”
Based on her experience, Goodrich offers advice to other UH undergrads who may be interested in doing a research project. “I would suggest everyone try to do at least one research project before graduating,” she said. “Put your heart into the work so you can look back on your project and be proud of it when it comes time to apply for other fellowships or jobs. Create deadlines with your mentor and be in close contact with them to ground your project and give you structure. Have a vision of the end product in mind.”
University of Houston Libraries projects in digital humanities are being offered through Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH), a year-long introductory research experience for undergraduates in humanities disciplines.
The UH REACH program is supported by the Cougar Initiative to Engage and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards (OURMA). REACH connects students to existing UH digital humanities projects and allows them to develop research skills through mentored, first-hand scholarly inquiry and through participation in OURMA research programming.
REACH participants receive a $1,500 scholarship split between the fall and spring semesters in the program, and will present their research at Undergraduate Research Day in April 2023.
Projects significantly connected to UH Libraries’ collections and expertise include Making the History of UH Student Group Afro Americans for Black Liberation (AABL) Available Online, Sharing Stories from 1977, OER Textbook: Be a Tech Advanced Cultural Learner, Triumph and Tragedy in the Bayou City’s Civil Rights Era, Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Program, and SYRIOS.
Sophomores, juniors, and seniors are invited to apply by September 7.
University of Houston Libraries is pleased to announce Santi Thompson as the associate dean for Research and Student Engagement (RASE), effective June 1.
The newly created position is designed to provide strategic leadership in building a collaborative and integrated approach to library specialties, one that promotes the teaching and research mission of the University.
“Santi Thompson is a highly regarded leader effectively leading robust research initiatives in academic library settings,” said Athena N. Jackson, dean of UH Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair. “He brings distinctive experience and an exceptionally collaborative spirit that will further strengthen the Libraries’ impact on information access, teaching, and research. I’m thrilled that he has accepted this new role.”
RASE is a recently created portfolio within the new intentional restructure of UH Libraries. The portfolio includes Information and Access Services, Research Services, and Teaching and Learning. As associate dean, Thompson will advance the University’s research goals by partnering with faculty, staff, and students across the research and learning lifecycle; advocate for the effective application of enterprise-wide services across the Libraries; and provide leadership in the enhancement of learning and research spaces and information literacy efforts for undergraduate and graduate programs, and co-curricular learning experiences in support of student success.
“The RASE associate dean role presents a variety of collaborative opportunities to optimize the Libraries’ services and expertise in teaching, research, and access to needed information and resources,” Thompson said. “I am excited to work alongside talented colleagues at UH Libraries to create diverse and enriching experiences for students, faculty, and staff to learn, create, and connect with one another.”
In his prior role as head of Research Services, Thompson was integral in positioning the Libraries to support expansion of research productivity at the University, and continues to provide significant contributions in the development of research support services. Thompson developed policies and workflows for the digital components of scholarly communications, including digital research support and digital repositories. Under his direction and with support from the UH Division of Research and Office of the Provost, UH Libraries launched the Digital Research Commons (DRC) in 2018, a facility dedicated to the production of digital research projects and instruction on digital research methodologies. Thompson has been instrumental in the creation of the Libraries’ digital collection development policy and in the development of the Libraries’ future digital asset management system. He was also involved in the development of a digital preservation policy and the selection of a digital preservation tool; and collaborated with several Libraries departments on the Cougar Research Open Access Repositories (Cougar ROAR). In 2020, Thompson was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Eva Digital Research Endowed Library Professorship, an appointment which enables the Libraries to expand its services in the emerging areas of digital research, data preservation and accessibility, and scholarly communication.
Thompson has authored and produced numerous peer-reviewed publications and presentations and has been invited to present his work at international venues. He has represented the profession and the University through leadership roles with the Digital Library Federation (DLF), the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS), and the Texas Digital Library (TDL). In 2018-2019 he served as an inaugural DLF Futures Fellow. He is the principal investigator for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)-funded “Digital Content Reuse Assessment Framework Toolkit (D-CRAFT)” grant project and the co-principal investigator for the IMLS-funded “Bridge2Hyku Toolkit: Developing Migration Strategies for Hyku.” He previously served as the principal investigator for the IMLS-funded “Developing a Framework for Measuring Reuse of Digital Objects.”
University of Houston Libraries welcomes Linda García Merchant, PhD as the new public humanities data librarian.
Please describe your role at UH Libraries and talk about some of your professional goals.
My role is to coordinate public humanities data initiatives and technology infrastructure to meet the needs of our University of Houston (UH) research community. This coordination is supported by a partnership between the UH Libraries and the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Data Science Institute (HPE DSI). I am housed in UH Libraries Research Services alongside my accomplished data science and digital humanities (DH) colleagues.
My goal is to help researchers interested in exploring and articulating the humanities through digital methods, to create deliverables that both accomplish and exceed expectations. We are at a time where our UH community wants the opportunity to apply a rhetorical rigor to traditional and non-traditional forms of scholarship. When creating projects with a digital humanities-driven component, students and faculty see their own research questions generating new and unexpected insights. For example, writing about some aspect of James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room can also inform a Google mapping project of 1950s Paris as seen through the eyes of the book’s protagonist, visualizing a subtler form of isolation and distance that became apparent to the researcher producing both the essay and the Google map. Digital humanities projects allow for a robust, ongoing conversation between content, researchers, and related digital ephemera.
Please share a bit about your background and interests. How do these inspire and shape your approach in digital humanities?
For the last 14 years I’ve been a part of a national oral history project called the Chicana por mi Raza Digital Memory Collective (CPMR) documenting second wave Chicana Latina feminists with Dr. Maria Cotera of the University of Texas at Austin. CPMR is a post-custodial resource that to date has collected 150 oral history interviews, and over 15,000 photos, documents and ephemera. It is the largest collection of Chicana feminist materials in the United States and (we suspect) in the world. In 2007 I produced and directed a 90-minute documentary on Las Mujeres de la Caucus Chicana/The Women of the Chicana Caucus about the women of the National Women’s Political Caucus. It is this project that led to working with Maria on CPMR. Maria and I share a personal stake in this work—our mothers are a significant part of this legacy. My mom is Ruth “Rhea” Mojica Hammer, the first Latina to run for congressional office in the State of Illinois, then elected first vice chairperson of the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1973, ultimately serving as a presidentially-appointed commissioner to the International Women’s Year, National Women’s Conference in Houston in 1977. Maria’s mother is a foremother of Chicana feminist thought, Martha P. Cotera, author of Diosa y hembra: The history and heritage of Chicanas in the US, and Chicana Feminist. It was the realization that their contributions to this American history narrative was missing, that put both Maria and myself on this path to recover and reclaim their voices and the hundreds of Chicanas and Latinas working on civil and women’s rights during the 60s, 70s and 80s.
The work I do as an educator and founder of an oral history project and as a digital humanities practitioner and scholar is about the joy in the process and production of knowledge. As an active member of a cultural community, there is the responsibility to cultivate and produce these recovered narratives. There is also an obligation to sustain those resources through an engagement with the next generation of research communities to produce a shared understanding of these resources and their importance.
What are one or two ideas you’d like the community to know about digital humanities?
Digital humanities is not difficult to execute, if there is a good plan in place to do so. Planning and building a community to produce digital scholarship engages the researcher and technologists in the ongoing dialogue necessary to imagine, shape, and create deliverables that successfully and rigorously articulate the research question.
DH is happening all around us and this has become especially apparent in the last two years as DH has been a method used to respond and support the educational resources needed for the classroom, our libraries, and our homes. Access to sites, materials, and the ways to interpret and produce them is at the heart of what DH is and will remain—a method to reimagine the considerations and generative nature of knowledge production as scholarship in digital forms.