UH Libraries News

Announcing Micro-credential in Digital Humanities

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 dhcf@uh.edu.

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.

New Digital Collection: Diana Foundation Oral Histories

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. 

New Digital Collection: Pecan-Shellers’ Strike Documents

A new collection, the Pecan-Shellers’ Strike Documents, is now accessible online at UH Digital Collections.

new digital collection pecan shellers' strike documents

Pecan-Shellers’ Strike Documents from Gov. James V. Allred Papers

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: 

New Online Exhibit Features DJ Screw Recordings

A student-curated digital exhibit featuring materials related to DJ Screw is available online.

DJ Screw and his record collection

DJ Screw and his record collection

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.”

Connecting Undergrads to Humanities Research

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.

Two projects from the 2021-2022 academic year included research drawing from UH Libraries’ collections related to the Houston GLBT Political Caucus and DJ Screw sound recordings.

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors are invited to apply by September 7.

Thompson Appointed Associate Dean for Research and Student Engagement

Santi Thompson

Santi Thompson

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.”

New Public Humanities Data Librarian

Linda García Merchant

Linda García Merchant

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.

Grad Students Make Discoveries in Digital Research

Recently, five graduate students worked with members of University of Houston Libraries Digital Research Commons (DRC) to develop digital components of their dissertations. The students were selected by application to attend the Spring 2022 Digital Research Institute, a multi-day intensive experience aimed at building the foundational skills and knowledge needed to initiate and develop a piece of digital research. Each participant chosen for the Institute was awarded a $500 scholarship, provided by the UH Graduate School and UH Libraries, to assist in furthering their projects.

“I applied to the Digital Research Institute seeking help in defining background information for the question of how diversity in engineering has changed over time,” said Kristin L. Schaefer, P.E., a mechanical engineering PhD candidate whose research focuses on the persistence of women in engineering. “I was interested in data-mining the graduation data reported to the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) from 1998 to present to determine if there are any trends in how graduation has changed in the various disciplines and between different ethnicities, since we typically see infographics that simply discuss male/female B.S. degrees, ethnic distribution, or discipline distribution for a particular year, rather than exploring the trends with a longitudinal and intersectional view.”

Schaefer is the first graduate student to research this topic under Engineering Education (ENED) with Dr. Jerrod A. Henderson. The Digital Research Institute provided a new perspective to Schaefer’s work.

“I was able to think more critically about the message that I want to present in the introduction to my thesis, and I’m now inspired to further explore alternate methods to share the data,” Schaefer said. “I am encouraged that the things I’ve learned may uncover unexpected themes.”

Olusegun Babalola is a PhD candidate in industrial/organizational psychology whose work focuses on individual career interests and how they affect perceived career opportunities and choices. Using a sample of low- to medium-skilled youth from South Africa, Babalola is testing a well-known theory of vocational interests, Holland’s (1985) model which may hold utility for career counseling, recruitment, and selection in less developed parts of the world.

“This study focuses on lower skilled individuals,” Babalola said, “and I am testing the structural and predictive validity of the model for this sample while considering the broader context of a less structured economic and labor market than is typically studied.”

Over the course of the Institute, Babalola developed new ideas for research productivity. “I was introduced to numerous useful visualization tools that will undoubtedly help me in communicating my research in an interesting and impactful way to both academic and wider audiences,” Babalola said. “Also, I gained data management and analysis skills which will make the initial stages of my data cleaning process smoother, quicker, and much more insightful in the future.”

Michelle N. Martinez is a doctoral student in clinical psychology with a focus in neuropsychology. She is conducting research on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) in Hispanic and Latin American populations, specifically the relationship between perceived discrimination, stress, and cognition in a heterogeneous sample of Puerto Ricans. 

“Prior research within my lab with Hispanic and Latin American community members from the Houston metro area has demonstrated that research and results need to be presented in a way that is more accessible and easily digestible by a range of community members,” Martinez said. “I can leverage the digital research methods I have learned, such as data visualization and use of data management tools, to help facilitate this goal and assist with disseminating my results.”

Danielle Llaneza, who is in her second year of a PhD program in counseling health, and Lucia Lopez-Hisijos, a first-year PhD student in political science, also participated in the Digital Research Institute.

“The experience of working with the researchers is always exciting,” said Reid Boehm, research data management librarian and lead instructor. “This cohort had exceptional projects that led to a lot of positive experimentation and discoveries throughout the week.”

“This was a remarkable cohort of researchers—a complete joy to work with,” said Taylor Davis-Van Atta, director of the DRC and the lead organizer of the Institute. “We hope to continue working with each of these researchers as they progress through their programs and future phases of their dissertation work.”

The Digital Research Institute is offered twice annually and is intended for graduate and professional students who are in the beginning phases of a piece of digital research, using computational tools that will form the basis of an article or a part of their thesis or dissertation. Digital research is defined here as the use of computational tools to produce new knowledge, and selection for the Institute is weighted toward applicants working at the intersection of traditional disciplines or who are applying digital methods to traditional modes of inquiry.

The Digital Research Commons exists to encourage and facilitate interdisciplinary research and build communities of practice around modern digital research methodologies. DRC staff members partner with faculty and students in the humanities, social sciences, and experimental sciences on digital research projects of all sizes, from the earliest stages of formulating a research question to publication and beyond. Contact the DRC.

Research Services Offered at UH Libraries

Undergraduate Research Day was held at MD Anderson Library recently, featuring the work of UH undergraduates who have participated in independent research and faculty-mentored projects over the past year. UH Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards, in collaboration with the Honors College, coordinates the annual event with support from the Office of the Provost and Division of Research.

UH librarians were in attendance to highlight a variety of research services open to all UH scholars. UH librarians are available to assist at any stage of the research process, including:

  • scoping a research project
  • conducting literature reviews
  • finding and analyzing data
  • sharing and publishing research
  • learning about research methods and tools in the Digital Research Commons

Contact libteach@uh.edu to set up a research consultation or drc@uh.edu to learn more about research methods and tools.