More Product, Less Process: A Reassessment

I drafted the following post earlier this year and intended it to run before now, but it didn’t.  It appears today because of the terrible news that Mark Greene has died in a car accident.  I consider Mark to be the brightest archivist of my time.  He was also a dear friend with a twisted sense of humor that melded perfectly with my own.  I am near tears as I write this.

Herb Hartsook


Mark Greene

Mark Greene

In 2005, the scholarly article, “More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing,” shook the archival world.  Mark Greene and Dennis Meissner challenged the archival profession to rethink everything they do in arranging and describing collections.  The authors argued that archivists needed to re-imagine the time and attention traditionally allocated to handling each and every sheet of paper in arranging a collection, as well as the performance of expensive and time-consuming preservation work and the detailed description of archival collections.  It stands as the best known article to date written on the archival profession.

Dennis Meissner

Dennis Meissner

Greene and Meissner were persuasive in arguing that existing archival standards had resulted in universal, crippling, and ever-growing backlogs of unprocessed collections.  Their article offered a solution.  They presented a menu of options to speed up the processing and opening of collections.  Chiefly, they pointed out that collections, or series within collections, are not uniformly valuable, and that every archival collection should not automatically receive identical handling.  Adopting the strategies they advocated would result in major positive results – chiefly, making collections available much more rapidly and thus shrinking backlogs.

Greene and Meissner were pragmatists offering a solution to a real and growing problem.  Within a short time, MPLP became generally accepted as a standard for the profession.  But, their theory is occasionally abused to affirm shoddy work.  SCPC has been a prominent critic of MPLP as a tool in working with congressional collections.  We argue that the presence of sensitive and even classified documents among congressional collections requires individual inspection of much of the material we receive.

MPLPBut on March 21, 2017, SCPC opened the papers of Environmentalists, Inc., a large modern collection which we processed using MPLP standards.  Users of the collection will note its description is much less detailed than is our norm.  And the collection has not been completely refoldered.  But these rich materials are now available and being used, just as Greene and Meissner would want.

So, I write this partly an admission that I should have been more generous in my treatment of Greene and Meissner.  I won’t rehash my objections to the misapplication of MPLP standards, but I do want to celebrate the impact that creative and deep reflection, such as that shown by Mark Greene and Dennis Meissner, can have on one profession. 

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Butterfly Ballots and Hanging Chads: Our New (Old) Voting Machine

voting booth

Instructions posted inside the booth from Palm Beach County, FL

We are excited to have received a new item recently—a vintage voting machine—thanks to Dean Charles Bierbauer of the College of Information and Communication.  Close examination shows it was most recently used in Palm Beach County, Florida, during the presidential election of 2000.  Palm Beach County was the epicenter of that election’s historic recount controversy.

Bierbauer

Dean Charles Bierbauer

An incredibly close contest between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore hinged on Florida and the recount of the Florida vote.  Previously unfamiliar, but suddenly ubiquitous, was the technical vocabulary about these Palm Beach County voting machines, with their punch-card “butterfly” ballots and a tendency towards “hanging” and “pregnant” chads.  Disputes over the counting of ballots in Palm Beach County led to court challenges including Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board et al. and Bush v. Gore, both of which wound up in the Supreme Court of the United States.  The Court’s decision in the latter case ultimately allowed certification of Florida’s electoral votes for George W. Bush, giving him a narrow Electoral College victory.

(See a post about our other voting machine received from Congressman Joe Wilson’s office back in 2012.  You may have seen it on exhibit here in the Hollings Library, and even voted on it as part of our mock election this past fall!)

By Dorothy Walker

voting machine

This type of voting machine folds up into a briefcase for easy handling. We have a similar one that was donated to us several years ago by Congressman Joe Wilson.

When we opened it, we found the official sample ballot for the general election in Palm Beach County, Florida, on November 7, 2000.

The term “butterfly ballot” derived from the listing of candidates’ names on both sides of the ballot, with the ballot to be “punched” in the center. This was a brand new style of ballot for the 2000 election, designed by Palm Beach County’s supervisor of elections. Some voters reported that they found the ballot’s format confusing and that they accidentally voted for Reform candidate Pat Buchanan (#4) when they intended to vote for Democratic candidate Al Gore (#5).

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Jack Bass Papers Opening to Researchers!

Mary Clare Johnson

Mary Clare Johnson

As SCPC prepares to open the papers of journalist and historian Jack Bass, Mary Clare Johnson reflects on her experience in completing the arrangement and description of his papers.  As our Senior Graduate Assistant, she was entrusted with completing a project I began in the 1990s.  While the soon-to-open collection represents the vast bulk of his papers, we receive regular additions documenting Jack’s current interests and activities.  Thanks to the Schuyler L. and Yvonne Moore Endowment, Mary Clare, who graduated this past Saturday, will continue working with us while she seeks her first full-time professional position.  We know she will have a successful career.  ~HJH


Jack Bass

Jack Bass at the typewriter

We are pleased to announce the opening for research of the Jack Bass Collection. An exhibit in the Brittain Gallery of the Hollings Library celebrates Bass’s life and accomplishments.

Jack Bass is a prolific author, journalist, oral historian, and professor. He has obtained national recognition for his research and works on the American South, particularly in the areas of politics and civil rights. He has received such awards as South Carolina Journalist of the Year in 1968 and 1972 and the South Carolina Governor’s Award in the Humanities in 2011. Some of the colleges and universities at which Bass has taught include the University of South Carolina, University of Mississippi, and College of Charleston. As a newspaperman, he worked for The News and Courier and The Charlotte Observer among others. He has written numerous articles relating to government, race, and politics in South Carolina and other Southern states.

Bass and Carter

Bass with President Jimmy Carter, 1978

Bass has authored and co-authored a total of eight books including The Orangeburg Massacre (1970), Ol’ Strom: An Unauthorized Biography of Strom Thurmond (1998), and Taming the Storm: The Life and Times of Frank M. Johnson, Jr. and the South’s Fight Over Civil Rights (1993), with the latter winning the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. As an oral historian, Bass has interviewed notable figures, including Bill Clinton, U.S. Congressman James Clyburn, and South Carolina Governor Richard Riley.

Bass and Dupree

Bass with his wife, well-known author, chef, and cooking show host Nathalie Dupree

His papers, c. 1936 to 2017, chiefly consist of materials documenting Bass’s work in researching and writing his books and articles. Other materials relate to Bass’s academic career at various institutions and his 1978 run for Congress.

Democratic candidate Bass attempted to unseat four-term Republican congressman Floyd Spence, who represented South Carolina’s Second Congressional District. One of his supporters wrote, “Your campaign seems to be only a natural progression from the compassion and concern that was always evident in your writing… I was inspired by your work and it’s quite heartening to see someone testing heart-felt convictions in public life.” Bass won the Democratic primary, but lost the general election to Spence.

Contributed by Mary Clare Johnson, Graduate Assistant (now graduate!)

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Collection Open! Environmentalists, Inc.

We are pleased to announce that the Environmentalists, Inc. Papers are available for research. The task of processing the collection was challenging, yet rewarding, for me. During my involvement, I learned a great deal about and gained appreciation for environmental activism and justice. We arranged and described the collection using a modified More Product, Less Process (MPLP) approach in order to expedite its availability. This means that some parts of the collection have only been processed to the subseries level, instead of the more detailed folder level to which we normally process collections.

Barnwell nuclear plant

Barnwell Nuclear Fuel Plant

Environmentalists, Inc. (E.I.) is a small, non-profit, grassroots organization dedicated to protecting the environment. It was founded in South Carolina in February 1972 in response to the planned construction of the Barnwell Nuclear Fuel Plant. Built to process spent nuclear fuel from commercial power reactors, the plant was never used for this purpose, and instead was used briefly for research and development programs. E.I.’s efforts to prevent the plant’s construction had directed national attention to the hazards of nuclear waste, and eventually led to the decommissioning the plant in 1997-1998.

Ruth Thomas

Ruth Thomas testifying at a hearing on the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Station, 1984

Comprised of fewer than 100 members, E.I. has worked for many years to combat the promotion of nuclear power without adequate attention to its risks and weaknesses and to assist individuals and organizations in ensuring a healthy environment in South Carolina. The group has been involved in many appeals and lawsuits to prevent projects that threaten the environment and public health. The driving force behind the organization has been Ruth Sackett Thomas (b. 1920), a former art teacher and draftswoman. Thomas has served in many different roles in E.I., including founding member, legal assistant, researcher, and president.

The papers date from 1946 to 2015 and consist largely of legal and topical materials. Legal materials pertain to the many lawsuits and other legal proceedings in which E.I. was involved or took an interest. Topical materials reflect the extensive research the organization conducted on nuclear and hazardous waste. The collection also includes administrative and financial records, as well as environmental publications produced by various organizations.

Contributed by Mary Clare Johnson, Graduate Assistant

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A Time to Break Silence: Dr. Martin Luther King Speaks in Opposition the Vietnam War

MLK

Dr. King speaking at Riverside Church in New York City

Tuesday, April 4, is the 40th anniversary of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.”  The nearly hour long speech was delivered at New York City’s Riverside Church to a crowd of approximately 3,000.  King was assassinated one year to the day after this major speech opposing the nation’s involvement in the war in Vietnam.

He began by saying his conscience required him to stand up and speak against the “madness of Vietnam,” — despite people urging him to stay focused on Civil Rights and amid accusations of communist leanings

Dr. King speaks to the press outside New York’s Riverside Church
(Photo by Gene Kappock/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

King declared that there was a common link being formed between the civil rights and peace movements.  He proposed that the United States stop all bombing of North and South Vietnam; declare a unilateral truce in the hope that it would lead to peace talks; set a date for withdrawal of all troops from Vietnam; and give the National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) a role in negotiations. 

I encourage you to listen to King’s speech.  It is available on YouTube.  I had thought to include a few select quotes to show his power and eloquence, but gave up.  There was too much rich material to isolate a few sentences.  Listen and you will be rewarded with a memorable experience.     

Herb Hartsook

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In Memoriam: Charles D. “Pug” Ravenel

Pug Ravenel

Campaign flyer, 1974

Charles D. “Pug” Ravenel (1938-2017) passed away Saturday after battling cancer.  A small memorial exhibit is on display at the entrance to the Hollings Library through the end of April.  SCPC is honored to preserve Ravenel’s papers, five feet of material chiefly documenting his 1974 campaign for governor.  Just last year, his brother Hal recorded an insightful oral history interview focused on that race. 

Pug Ravenel forever changed the nature of political campaigning in South Carolina in his 1974 run for governor.  In the crowded Democratic primary to succeed Governor John West, the charismatic Ravenel surprised pundits by winning over more established public servants.  The Charleston native’s campaign recalled John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential race.  Running as an outsider on a platform of change, and showcasing his young family, Ravenel’s innovative style, charismatic manner, and effective use of television reinvigorated the political system

Pug Ravenel

Campaign flyer, 1974

and excited a new generation of voters. 

As then-U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings noted, “Pug is the best thing that ever happened to our party.  We were dying.  He brought in fresh faces and fresh ideas.” 

Ultimately, Ravenel was ruled ineligible due to a residency issue and Republican James B. Edwards won election over the late Democratic substitute, Bryan Dorn

Political scientist Don Fowler recalled that Ravenel “brought to the South Carolina arena a vigor, perspective, intelligence, and charisma which we have rarely seen.”

Pug Ravenel family

Pug Ravenel, his wife Mollie, and their family, 1974

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Happy 75th Birthday to Lloyd Hendricks

Lloyd Hendricks

Lloyd Hendricks

On Sunday, Lloyd Hendricks celebrates his 75th birthday.  We hope it is a grand and memorable occasion.

I first met Lloyd and his wife Susan at a library event in 2011.  It wasn’t an SCPC event and I was just mingling.  I started a conversation with this attractive couple and, on hearing what I do, Lloyd modestly mentioned that he had served in the General Assembly.  My note on our meeting, written the next day for my calendar, proved absolutely accurate:

He is the embodiment of the citizen legislator.  He served, accomplished some things, then voluntarily left the legislature to return to the public sector.     

Lloyd Hendricks

SC Representative Hendricks was named Legislator of the Year in 1984 by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, and in 1985 by the Greenville News.

Many special collections repositories, like our own South Caroliniana Library, receive numerous collections serendipitously.  You give a public talk and often, afterwards, one or more folks come up and offer you a rich collection, perhaps Civil War letters preserved by their family.  That is not the way SCPC typically works.  We generally identify potential donors and reach out and solicit their papers.  Lloyd Hendricks was that rare example where we received a wonderful collection purely through this chance conversation.

A banker, Hendricks served in the South Carolina House from 1977 to 1987.  His collection documents that service and his long tenure, 1986 to 2012, leading the South Carolina Bankers Association.  The collection is particularly important in documenting a critical industry during a time of great change.

In reflecting on his good friend, Dick Riley recalled,

[H]e had many outstanding characteristics but the one thing that distinguished him from a lot of the other legislators was his credibility. You’ve heard the ad, ‘when EF Hutton speaks everyone listens’; that was Lloyd Hendricks, because when he spoke, people had confidence, one, that he knew what he was talking about, [and two] that he was speaking from a point of integrity and honesty.

Working with Lloyd has been an absolute delight.  He has become a strong supporter of USC Libraries and currently serves as President of the Libraries’ Ex Libris Society

Lloyd – Happy Birthday!  Thank you for the example you set and for all that you do!   

Herb Hartsook  

Lloyd Hendricks cartoon

Join other SCPC supporters!

South Carolina Political Collections Endowment Fund

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Former SCPC Grad Assistant Makes Good! Congratulations, Debbie Davendonis-Todd

grads at SCPC

Debbie (right) inventories a collection with fellow SCPC grad assistants.

SCPC alumna Debbie Davendonis-Todd has just been named the Director of Baylor University’s W.R. Poage Legislative Library.  The Poage is a leading repository of Congressional and political material, well-known for its outreach, its programming, and its collections, including those of Texas political legends Congressman Chet Edwards, Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, and Congressman Bob Poage.  Poage served in Congress for over 40 years.

We are proud to say that SCPC played a role in Debbie’s entry into the world of political papers.  While pursuing her Master’s in Library Science at USC, Debbie worked with us as a graduate assistant, from 2008 to 2010.  She worked on a variety of processing projects, from the Ernest F. Hollings papers to the collections of the Republican Party of SC, Flynn Harrell, Environmentalists, Inc., and Jack Bass.  The Bass collection will open for research later this year.

Debbie with SCPC Associate Director Dorothy Walker at the dedication of the Hollings Library in 2010

One of her most significant contributions was William Jennings Bryan Dorn: In His Own Words, an online collection of digital audio highlighting some of the legendary orator’s most compelling public speaking.

Debbie was a natural at processing and outreach, a key member of SCPC’s staff, and a cheerful, capable presence in the workroom.  After graduating from USC in 2010, Debbie worked as a project archivist at the University of Florida before moving on to Baylor in 2012.  We are pleased to see her ascending to her current position—but not surprised, as we always knew she had star potential!  Congratulations, Debbie!

Debbie Todd

In her office, March 2017

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A Towering Legacy: Remembering Bryan Dorn

Bryan Dorn

Bryan Dorn campaigning from the back of a pickup truck

William Jennings Bryan Dorn has been on my mind lately.  In truth, I think of Mr. Dorn often.  I got to know him well, late in his life.  He made a big impression.

Bryan Dorn was born for politics.  He entered the arena as a very young man, served in the state legislature and then for twenty years in Congress.  He ended his public service in a role perfect for his nature and abilities – four years chairing the state Democratic Party.  Champion of veterans and the textile industry, his name is familiar to many today as the namesake of Columbia’s Veterans Administration hospital.

This week we approved a small Dorn Research Award for a young PhD candidate at Cambridge.  USC’s Dorn Endowment supports graduate assistantships with SCPC as well as the awards program.  The latter provides awards of up to $1,000 to scholars drawn to Columbia to study SCPC collections, and these researchers are reimbursed for travel, lodging, copying, etc.  Many of the best repositories offer such awards.  Over the years, each recipient has excited us during their visit — both about their research topic and in the shared excitement as they mine our collections for nuggets of fact and insight.  We are looking forward to the visit of this young woman later this summer.

Dorn at VA hospital

Congressman Dorn visiting patients at a Veterans hospital; he was a staunch supporter of American veterans.

Our experience in raising the endowment proved some fund raising principles, but disproved another.  It is often said that once a politician retires from office, their fund raising potential dies.  Mr. Dorn proved an exception to that rule.  When we set out to raise the endowment we looked for volunteers to help us.  Volunteers are crucial to much of what we do and nowhere more needed than in our efforts to raise money.  Dorn relative Steve Griffith and textile association leader Jerry Beasley became the primary drivers of our effort.  They appreciated that the old textile families would remember Mr. Dorn’s heroic efforts on behalf of their industry.  Within about a year, the endowment stood at over $75,000.

1974 primaries in SC

Cartoon depicting the crowded field in the 1974 primaries
(Walt Lardner)

But that wasn’t the only thing that has made me think of Mr. Dorn.  In 1974, Dorn decided to seek the office of Governor, foregoing certain reelection to Congress.  He became a key player in one of the most memorable gubernatorial elections in South Carolina history.  1974 saw a large Democratic primary field and our first statewide Republican primary.  USC holds the papers of six of those candidates – Democrats Dorn, “Pug” Ravenel, John Bolt Culbertson, and Nick Zeigler, and Republicans Jim Edwards and retired Vietnam War commander William Westmoreland, the latter’s papers at the Caroliniana.

Ravenel

Oral history narrator Hal Ravenel (right) with his brother Pug and President Jimmy Carter

Earlier this week we mounted the transcript of my oral history interview with Pug’s brother.  Hal Ravenel was a key campaign aide and wanted his reflections on record.  He proved a superb narrator and I found the interview inspiring.  Also, Associate Director Dorothy Walker is finishing her long project arranging and describing the papers of former governor and U.S. Secretary of Education Dick Riley.  And in reviewing her excellent work, I have been thinking of Mr. Dorn’s strong selfless support of Riley in the 1978 campaign that elected Riley governor.

One of the great perks of this job is that I get to meet many of the movers and shakers in South Carolina government.  I become close to some of these men and women and those relationships are richly rewarding on a variety of levels.  I find many to be inspirational.

I was lucky to get to know Bryan Dorn, and hope readers might like to learn a bit more about him through his collection description and the four hours of his speeches that are available in our digitized selection, Dorn: In His Own Words.

Herb Hartsook

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Revitalizing Wikipedia Pages

wiki campbell

Original Campbell page

For the past month, SCPC has been continuing our work to improve the Wikipedia pages of our donors, as detailed in our earlier blog post.  For the first phase of the project, we have been uploading photos of our donors that have Wikipedia pages and adding them in where appropriate.  Sometimes, the effect has been to replace a low-resolution photo with a high-res color one.  Other times, we have been adding images to pages where one did not exist before.

wiki campbell

New primary photo on Campbell page

One example is former Governor Carroll Campbell’s page.  Campbell was Governor from 1987-1995, and there should naturally be a number of color photographs from this time.  Instead, the page only had a single, black and white photograph for the lead image.  We uploaded our own color portrait as well as a few other images to add to the page itself.  In the text of the page, where it talks about Gov. Campbell’s response to Hurricane Hugo in 1989, we decided to add a photo of Campbell touring the wreckage caused by the storm.  While changes like these are small, they improve the overall quality of the articles and hopefully will be more engaging to the readers.

wiki Campbell

Post-Hugo photo now in the body of the text

We’ve learned a few lessons as well.  For one thing, it is not enough to simply upload some photos you have copyright to.  Using Wikipedia’s submissions ticket system (OTRS) you have to tag the photos with the {{OTRS pending}} marker, then send an email to the OTRS team with your copyright information; else, you risk the photos being deleted while waiting for a site volunteer to approve them (as I learned the hard way…). 

Another thing we learned is that once the photos are uploaded, you cannot delete or edit the name easily.  Forever will the photo for William Jennings Bryan Dorn be titled “W.B. Bryan Dorn” on the uploads page.

The full list of people whose lead pictures have been added or changed using photos from our collection is below:

By Zach Johnson

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