Tuesday, January 31, 2012

African American History Month: A Selection of Image Resources

February is African American History Month. To celebrate we have assembled a selection of sites that feature images related to African American history. Know of other significant collections? Please share in the comments.

The African-American Mosaic
A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History & Culture. "This exhibit marks the publication of The African-American Mosaic: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History and Culture…" Covers colonization, abolition, migrations, and the WPA.

African-American Odyssey
From the Library of Congress' African-American collections, this online exhibition includes links to Frederick Douglass Papers; Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s; Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938; From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1822-1909; and Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860.

African Mosaic: Celebrating a Decade of Collecting
"This exhibition pays tribute to the extraordinary variety of individual works of art that come into the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art as gifts or purchases. Together, these artworks represent 10 years of building a permanent collection that embodies the diversity and outstanding quality of Africa’s arts."

The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record
From the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and University of Virginia. "The 1,280 images in this collection have been selected from a wide range of sources, most of them dating from the period of slavery. This collection is envisioned as a tool and a resource that can be used by teachers, researchers, students, and the general public - in brief, anyone interested in the experiences of Africans who were enslaved and transported to the Americas and the lives of their descendants in the slave societies of the New World."

Digital Durham
From Duke University. "Digital Durham website offers students, teachers, and researchers a range of primary sources with which they can investigate the economic, social, cultural, and political history of a post-bellum southern community... The new materials on Digital Durham touch on over 600 topics including African American business enterprise, the emergence of textiles, tobacco production and marketing, child labor, prohibition, evangelical revivalism, nineteenth-century medical practices, women's experience of childbirth, and public and private education."

Digital Schomburg Images of African Americans from the 19th Century
From the New York Public Library. "The images selected for presentation in this database are drawn primarily from 21 discreet collections at the Schomburg Center: sixteen personal, organizational and photographers' collections, many of which are complemented by substantial bodies of letters, diaries, minutes and other textual documents; four collections representing examples of the various presentation formats common to nineteenth century portrait and genre photography; and a collection of wood engravings from the illustrated U.S. press of the nineteenth century"

 Images of African-American Slavery and Freedom
From the Collections of the Library of Congress. "This year's theme "African Americans and the Civil War" honors the efforts of people of African descent to destroy slavery and inaugurate universal freedom in the United States. The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society."

Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs
From the University of Virginia Library. "Jackson Davis, an educational reformer and amateur photographer, took nearly 6,000 photographs of African American schools, teachers and students throughout the Southeastern United States. His photographs -- most intended to demonstrate the wretched conditions of African American schools in the south and to show how they could be improved -- provide a unique view of southern education during the first half of the twentieth century."

Pictures of African Americans During World War II
From the National Archives. These images "illustrate African-American participation in World War II. The pictures were selected from the holdings of the Still Picture Branch (NNSP) of the National Archives and Records Administration. The majority of the pictures were chosen from the records of the Army Signal Corps in Record Group (RG) 111, the Department of the Navy in RG 80, the Coast Guard in RG 26, the Marine Corps in RG 127, and the Office of War Information in RG 208."

Through the Lens of Time: Images of African Americans from the Cook Collection
From Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries. "Digital collection of over 250 images of African Americans dating from the nineteenth and early twentieth century, selected from the George and Huestis Cook Photograph Collection at the Valentine Richmond History Center. The digitally scanned images on this site are of prints from glass plate negatives or film negatives taken by George S. Cook (1819-1902) and Huestes P. Cook (1868-1951), primarily in the Richmond and Central Virginia area. The Cook Collection consists of over 10,000 negatives taken from the 1860s to the 1930s in Virginia and the Carolinas."

Image: Clay, Edward Williams, America / E.W.C., c1841. From Images of African-American Slavery and Freedom.

Monday, January 30, 2012

What Happened to Google's Advanced Image Search?

A couple of people have remarked to me lately that they can no longer find Google's Advanced Image Search feature. Google is known for its clean design, and they have also been working toward a more consistent user experience across their various services. In keeping with these principles they recently simplified their image search interface.

Take heart; you can still get there from here. Go to the Image Search page and look for the gear icon in the upper right corner. VoilĂ ! All of the options are still there: Image size, aspect ratio, type of image, source of image, color in image, usage rights, file type, and region.

FOLLOW UP: Sigh... Not long after I posted this, Google tweaked the Image Search page once more. Now you must enter a search term first, then look for the gear icon. Clean design, yes, but not exactly intuitive.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Why have Wikipedia, Craigslist, and so many other sites gone dark today? Why is there so much controversy about SOPA and PIPA? Many people feel that  protecting intellectual property is important, but that these anti-piracy bills would amount to censorship with drastic consequences for the Internet as we know it today. Can we come up with better solutions to the problems? Take a little time today to learn more about SOPA and PIPA, and contact your senator if what you learn concerns you.

Proposed legislation:
Learn more:
Take action:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education from ACRL

The ubiquity of images and visual media -- together with their great power to persuade, contextualize, engage, and illustrate -- underscore the importance of visual literacy today. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), which published its Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education over a decade ago, recently released its visual complement: Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. These standards define visual literacy as "a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media."

Relevant to studies in any discipline, these standards aim to provide educators with "an intellectual framework and structure to facilitate the development of skills and competencies required for students to engage with images in an academic environment, and critically use and produce visual media throughout their professional lives."

Detailed performance indicators and learning outcomes expand on each of the following seven standards:
  1. The visually literate student determines the nature and extent of the visual materials needed.
  2. The visually literate student finds and accesses needed images and visual media effectively and efficiently.
  3. The visually literate student interprets and analyzes the meanings of images and visual media.
  4. The visually literate student evaluates images and their sources.
  5. The visually literate student uses images and visual media effectively.
  6. The visually literate student designs and creates meaningful images and visual media.
  7. The visually literate student understands many of the ethical, legal, social, and economic issues surrounding the creation and use of images and visual media, and accesses and uses visual materials ethically.
Of course, these issues are the bread and butter of visual artists and art historians in academia; after all, this is what you do. However, the standards note that "visual literacy education is typically a collaborative endeavor, involving faculty, librarians, curators, archivists, visual resources professionals, and learning technologists." There are many ways that the VRC can support your students in pursuit of each of these standards. These include, but are not limited to, help with:
  • identifying a variety of image sources, materials, and types;
  • finding and accessing images and visual media effectively and efficiently;
  • retrieving or reproducing the needed image using appropriate technologies or systems (e.g., download functions, copy and paste, scanning, cameras);
  • making judgments about the reliability and accuracy of image sources;
  • using technology effectively to work with images;
  • using a variety of tools and technologies to produce images and visual media;
  • understanding many of the ethical, legal, social, and economic issues surrounding images and visual media (including intellectual property, copyright, and fair use).
We look forward to discussing ways that we can support your teaching in pursuit of these goals. Drop us a line!

Image: Michael Coghlan (mikecogh), Buddha with Swastika, 2011, available from Flickr under a Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.