New Issue: Information & Culture

Volume 58, Issue 1 (April 2023)

Present and Past: the Relevance of Information History
Laura Skouvig

This article contributes to the ongoing conversation about information history. The article argues for reformulating and pinpointing legitimacy and relevance as core issues characterizing information history and for drawing on theoretical input from historical disciplines such as conceptual history and microhistory. Different notions about history reflect how the individual historian approaches information as an object for historical scrutiny which ultimately allows for multiple research strategies. Information history also deals with traditional history topics such as structures vs. actors, change vs. continuity, and context. The article argues for seeing information history as histories of information.

This Copyright Kills Fascists: Debunking the Mythology Surrounding Woody Guthrie, “This Land is Your Land,” and the Public Domain
Dr. Jason Lee Guthrie

Advocates of an expanded public domain and less restrictive copyright policies have made Woody Guthrie a cause célèbre for their point of view. Meditations on his artistic persona are used to support their argument, as is a direct quote about copyright that is cited with surprising frequency despite lacking proper citation. This research locates the source for Guthrie’s copyright quote and corrects several false assumptions about its meaning as well as about Guthrie’s wider copyright activities. For proponents of public domain expansion that have mythologized Guthrie, this research thoroughly debunks that myth.

Federal Support For The Development Of Speech Synthesis Technologies: A Case Study Of The Kurzweil Reading Machine
Sarah A. Bell

This case study situates an early text-to-speech computer developed for blind persons, the Kurzweil Reading Machine (KRM), within a broader history of speech synthesis technologies. Though typically no more than a footnote in the technical history of speech synthesis, I show that the KRM was still a powerful symbol of innovation that reveals how disability can be used as a pretext for funding technology development. I argue that various boosters held the KRM up as a symbol of technological solutionism that promised to fully enroll blind people into the US political economy. However, the success of the KRM as a symbol belies its technical flaws, the federal subsidies needed to bring it to fruition, and the structural barriers to its use that were elided by its utopian promise.

Care and Feeding for the Computer: Imagining Machines’ Preventive Care and Medicine
Rachel Plotnick

This article investigates how computing discourses, including user guides, news articles, and advertisements, urged personal computer users in the 1970s and 80s to preventively care for their devices. Through hygiene recommendations related to eating, drinking, and dusting, these discourses warned that computers’ “health” depended upon humans. Importantly, they interpreted care as individual responsibility by putting the onus on users to behave properly. Within this frame, such texts described repairs as unfortunate medical interventions resulting from neglect. The piece argues that computing discourses have historically defined “care” and “repair” in opposition, as acts of doting prevention and undesirable intervention respectively.

An Introduction to Dr. Husam Khalaf’s “The Cultural Genocide of the Iraqi and Jewish Archives and International Responsibility”
translated and edited by Amanda Raquel Dorval

This is an Arabic-to-English translation of Dr. Husam Abdul Ameer Khalaf’s article “The Cultural Genocide of the Iraqi and Jewish Archives and International Responsibility.” Khalaf contends that the loss of Iraqi archives after Saddam Hussein’s fall and subsequent US Occupation in 2003 was cultural genocide. The first part of the article focuses on the losses suffered by official archives, national archives, the Ba’ath party archives, and the Iraqi-Jewish Archive. The second discussion examines the international laws governing the protection of cultural heritage and the extent to which the US-led Multinational Force was responsible for the loss of Iraqi archives.

Trusted Eye: Post-World War II Adventures of a Fearless Art Advocate by Claudia Fontaine Chidester (review)

A fascinating book, rich in archivalia, anecdotes, and insight, Trusted Eye documents the life and career of Virginia Fontaine (né Hammersmith, 1915-1991), “one of the most important promotors of art among the members of the American occupation forces” in immediate post-Second World War Germany.

Lightning Birds: An Aeroecology of the Airwaves by Jacob Smith (review)

Jacob Smith’s Lightning Birds: An Aeroecology of the Airwaves is an accessible work about an esoteric topic—the “aerosphere” as a contact point between birds and radio broadcasts. Smith traces an overlapping history of ornithology and radio, transforming a whimsical observation about the sky into a persuasive and often entertaining case for thinking about media technologies ecologically, in relation to animals and earthly processes.

Cut/Copy/Paste: Fragments from the History of Bookwork by Whitney Trettien (review)

With the rapid development of book history as a discipline, recent work has focused on breaking down the book’s elements, forms, genres, and agents into discrete units for close study; zooming in on titlepages, frontispieces and indices, for example, or singling out exceptional publishers, illustrators, and binders. Whitney Trettien’s new book and digital project is a much-needed step back that explores how these delineations obscure the messy world of “bookwork”.

Useful Objects: Museums, Science, and Literature in Nineteenth-Century America by Reed Gochberg (review)

In Useful Objects: Museums, Science, and Literature in Nineteenth-Century America, Reed Gochberg offers an engaging analysis of informational institutions during a period of change across the nineteenth-century. Gochberg, whose background is in American literature and culture, draws from a variety of sources, including children’s literature, travel guides, and newspaper advertisements, in order to show the breadth of nineteenth-century people thinking and writing about collection and presentation practices related to the newly conceptualized exhibition and research space.

Data Lives: How Data are Made and Shape our World by Rob Kitchin (review)

As we become more swaddled by data in our everyday lives, it becomes almost impossible to fully comprehend its impact and potential outcomes in the future. In Data Lives, Rob Kitchin takes a novel approach to examine a complex topic that is data. Instead of choosing a traditional academic writing style, Kitchin blends fictional and personal stories to explain how data are produced, processed and interpreted, as well as the consequences of these actions.

Index, A History of the: A Bookish Adventure from Medieval Manuscripts to the Digital Age by Dennis Duncan (review)

More often than not, today’s book indexes are afterthoughts. Typeset at the last second lest the pagination shift, squeezed into narrow columns, and tucked into the back of the book, the index is an unassuming, if obligatory, part of your average non-fiction text. Taken for granted as long as it does its job, the index tends to draw attention only where it fails, missing or mislabeled entries sending readers on a wild goose chase through the pages. While the index is certainly a crucial piece of information technology, it is more than a mere tool; it is a site of comedy and controversy, of poetry and wit. Or so Dennis Duncan, a lecturer in English at University College London, argues in Index, A History of the: A Bookish Adventure from Medieval Manuscripts to the Digital Age.

A Time to Gather: Archives and the Control of Jewish Culture by Jason Lustig (review)

What does it mean for the marginalized and the persecuted to control their data, and thus shape their destiny? In his book, A Time to Gather: Archives and the Control of Jewish Culture, Jason Lustig explores this very twenty-first-century question through the lens of the history of twentieth-century Jewish archives.

Call for contributions: Interfaces

Call for contributions: Interfaces (volume 52, 2024)

Bibliophilia: Book Matters

In December 2024, the bilingual online journal Interfaces will issue a volume on the relation between the book, its materials and the lifeforms of the non-human world. It welcomes papers (in English or in French) showcasing the book as ecomedia that can be explored from the perspective of ecocritical intermediality. The theme of this volume will also reflect the environmental and ecocritical turn in art history, and it may prompt theoretical forays into media archaeology. The papers can cover a wide variety of sources, such as single editions or book series, publishers’ and suppliers’ archives, librarian’s catalogues and book artists’ writings. Book historians and print scholars, specialists of ecocriticism and environmental history, plant studies and animal studies, of craft and material culture, word-and-image studies and literature, are invited to submit papers on the following topics of discussion:

– Ambivalence of the book as archive of the living world

– Affordances, textuality and physicality

– Networks and ecosystems

Deadlines for submission: please send an abstract (500 words, in English or in French) and a biobibliographical note to before 1st September 2023. If accepted, the completed papers will have to be submitted by 29th February 2024. All submitted articles should follow the journal’s guidelines and stylesheet: and they will be double-blind peer reviewed. The final version of the accepted papers will have to be delivered by 1st September 2024.

Download the complete call for contributions here…

Contact Info: 

Sophie Aymes (guest editor):

New Issue: Manuscript and Text Cultures

Vol. 2 No. 1 (2023): Navigating the text: textual articulation and division in pre-modern cultures
(open access)

Editorial article

Introduction: navigating complex texts from pre-modern cultures in the digital age
Yegor Grebnev, Lesley Smith


Navigating early Chinese daybook divination manuals
Christopher J. Foster

Structuring astral science: a Demotic astrological manual from Graeco-Roman Egypt (Berlin, Egyptian Museum, P. Berlin 8345)
Andreas Winkler

A trilingual sales contract on papyrus from Roman Arabia (P.Yadin I 22)
Michael Zellmann-Rohrer

The page architecture of a deluxe Arabic dictionary from Islamic Spain
Umberto Bongianino

Legally binding: the textual layout of a copper-plate grant from South Asia
Francesco Bianchini

The Karlevi runestone
Heather O’Donoghue

Cambridge, Trinity College, MS B.5.4, folio 135v: the Psalms, with commentary by Peter Lombard
Lesley Smith

Reading Ancient Maya hieroglyphic books
Christian Prager

MS Parma, Biblioteca Palatina, Parm. 3852: a meeting point for a medieval Ethiopian king-usurper with modern pro-Italian actors
Nafisa Valieva

Call for Editorial Board Members: Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania Project

The Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania project is seeking Editorial Board members to assist in ongoing efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) on its sites and within its editorial operations. For additional project and application details, see below. If interested, contact Bernadette A. Lear (, Affiliate Faculty of the PACFTB and Administrator of the Maps initiative, no later than Friday, July 14th, 2023.

The Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania is a digital humanities project and reference source developed and maintained by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book (PACFTB, a state affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book) within the Education Library at Penn State’s University Park campus. It currently consists of a database of approximately 1,000 biographies of literary and cultural figures who are connected to Pennsylvania, about 300 feature articles concerning Pennsylvania cultural history topics, plus a Literary Heritage Map, a Cultural Heritage Map, and other maps that present similar information geospatially. Elementary and secondary curricula are being developed to encourage educational use of the sites. For more information, see our About page.

Inspired by a paper-based map from the 1950s and significantly expanded 10-20 years ago, our existing biographies and feature articles were primarily developed as course-related writing assignments for Penn State and Lock Haven University undergraduate students. After undertaking significant content assessments in 2021/2022, however, we have redeveloped our Inclusion Guidelines for Biographies and Inclusion Guidelines for Feature Articles to center diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). We now prioritize new content about women, people of color, and other historically excluded/underrepresented groups. Also, we are revising older content to be more culturally aware and informative. Thus, we seek additional Editorial Board members with personal or professional experiences, community connections, and/or academic knowledge that can assist us in attaining our current purpose of representing all geographic locations and demographic groups that have contributed to Pennsylvania’s literary and cultural heritage. We especially welcome Editorial Board members who will empower and equip others who choose to work with us, and who will help us identify and correct editorial procedures that contain systemic biases or otherwise hinder the project’s development.

Editorial Board members’ duties are as follows:

  • Assist PACFTB faculty and staff in reviewing incoming submissions pertaining to one’s assigned areas of expertise.
  • Assist PACFTB faculty and staff in identifying and prioritizing cultural and literary topics, categories, and biographies to be added to the project.
  • Identify potential authors within one’s geographic and other communities; communicate the project’s purpose, priorities, and procedures to them; and assist PACFTB faculty and staff in reviewing authors’ contributions to the project.
  • Assist authors in using primary and secondary information sources pertaining to one’s assigned areas of expertise.
  • Notify PACFTB faculty and staff of, and assist with, opportunities to promote the project to educators, librarians, historical society and museum employees, and other potential users within one’s assigned areas of expertise.
  • Assist in assessing and evaluating the Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps project’s websites and advise PACFTB faculty and staff about opportunities for enhancement.
  • Review inclusion criteria, style guides, and other project documentation and advise PACFTB faculty and staff about necessary or desirable revisions.
  • Attend meetings (held virtually, approximately once per month) and assist with other aspects of the project upon request of the project’s administrator (Bernadette A. Lear) 
  • Maintain one’s knowledge of Pennsylvania culture, history, literature, populations, and scholarship by engaging in relevant educational activities or professional development opportunities. 

We are seeking at least 3 new Editorial Board members this year. New members will serve staggered terms of 2 or 3 years (August 1, 2023-July 31, 2025, or August 1, 2023-July 31, 2026), with the possibility of reappointment for additional 2-year terms. Each member will be assigned several Pennsylvania counties contiguous to their location or research interests; chronological periods; populations; and/or subject areas of expertise (such as African American History). 

If interested, contact Bernadette A. Lear (, Affiliate Faculty of the PACFTB, no later than Friday, July 14th. Please include a brief statement indicating your background related to DEI, History, Humanities, Geography, Literature, development/review of reference sources, editorial work, and other topics related to the project. Also, please indicate which Pennsylvania counties, major cities, chronological periods, topics, and populations are of greatest interest to you. As currently configured, the project’s websites highlight:

  • Cultural Subjects:  Activism, Art and Design, Athletics, Business, Education, Entertainment, Law and Politics, Medicine, Military, Religion, and Science
  • Cultural Periods: Before 1600, 1600-1775, 1775-1800, 1800-1865, 1865-1900, 1900-1945, 1945-present
  • Literary Genres: Children’s, Fiction, Young Adult, Graphic/Comic, Journalism, Nonfiction, Oral Tradition, and Screenwriting/Playwriting
  • Literary Periods: Before 1600, Colonial, Revolutionary, Romanticism, Realism, Modernism, and Contemporary

We look forward to hearing from you!

Bernadette A. Lear

Affiliate Faculty, Pennsylvania Center for the Book 

Contact Info: 

Bernadette A. Lear

Affiliate Faculty and Project Administrator

Literary and Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Center for the Book  |  717-948-6360

New/Recent Publications


Archiving Cultures, Heritage, Community and the Making of Records and Memory, by Jeannette A. Bastian (Routledge, March 2023).

The Sunday Paper: A Media History. 
Paul S. Moore, Sandra Gabriele. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2022

Moroccan Other-Archives: History and Citizenship after State Violence
Brahim El Guabli (Fordham University Press, 2023)


Kaspar Beelen, Jon Lawrence, Daniel C S Wilson, David Beavan, Bias and representativeness in digitized newspaper collections: Introducing the environmental scan, Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, Volume 38, Issue 1, April 2023, Pages 1–22,

Lucia Giagnolini, Marilena Daquino, Francesca Mambelli, Francesca Tomasi, Exploratory methods for relation discovery in archival data, Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, Volume 38, Issue 1, April 2023, Pages 111–126,

Patricia Martin-Rodilla, Cesar Gonzalez-Perez, Same text, same discourse? Empirical validation of a discourse analysis methodology for cultural heritage, Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, Volume 38, Issue 1, April 2023, Pages 224–239,

Ana Roeschley, “Symbiosis or friction: Understanding participant motivations for information sharing and institutional goals in participatory archive initiatives,” Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 2023.

Menhour, H., Şahin, H. B., Sarıkaya, R. N., Aktaş, M., Sağlam, R., Ekinci, E., & Eken, S. (2023). Searchable Turkish OCRed historical newspaper collection 1928–1942. Journal of Information Science49(2), 335–347.

Diulio, M. de la P., Gardey, J. C., Gomez, A. F., & Garrido, A. (2023). Usability of data-oriented user interfaces for cultural heritage: A systematic mapping study. Journal of Information Science49(2), 359–372.

He, Y., & Chen, Z. (2023). Mass aesthetic changes in the context of the development of world museums. Journal of Information Science, 49(2), 519–528.

Pacios, A. R., & Martínez-Cardama, S. (2023). Transparency in Spanish archive and library websites: A comparative study. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science55(1), 99–110.

Tyagi, S. (2023). Preservation and conservation of indigenous manuscripts. IFLA Journal49(1), 143–156.

Li, Rankang, et al. “Text Detection Model for Historical Documents Using CNN and MSER,” Journal of Database Management (JDM) 34, no.1: 1-23.


Robert C. Schwaller, ed. African Maroons in Sixteenth-Century Panama: A History in Documents. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2021. xvii + 285 pp. $34.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8061-6933-0.
Reviewed by Daniel Nemser (University of Michigan)

New Issue: Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals

Volume 19 Issue 1, March 2023

The Legacy of Welsh Botanist Jessie Gwendoline O’Callaghan (née Insole; 1882–1932)
Michael Statham, Heather Pardoe, Vanessa Cunningham

New Life for a Legacy: The La Verne Historical Society and Inman Conety’s 1938 International Truck
Benjamin Jenkins, Sherry Best

“Impressive Miniature Scenes Full of Life and Humour”: The Interpretation of Netsuke at the Museum Folkwang 2010 to 2021
Ryan Nutting

Preservation of Audiovisual Collections at Albert Ilemobade Library, Federal University of Technology Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria
Oluwole Ejiwoye Rasaki, Adeola Oyebisi Egbedokun, Akeem Adedayo Adedimeji

“Of War Tanks and Military Memorabilia”: A Look at the Conservation of Military Collections at the Zimbabwe Military Museum (ZMM)
Simbarashe Shadreck Chitima, Amos Zevure

Book Review: Narratives of (Dis)Enfranchisement: Reckoning with the History of Libraries and the Black and African American Experience and Narratives of (Dis)Engagement: Exploring Black and African American Students’ Experiences in Libraries
Katharine Chandler

Book Review: A Cultural Arsenal for Democracy: The World War II Work of U.S. Museums
Alexa Cummins

Book Review: Metadata for Digital Collections, A How-To-Do-It Manual
Susan A. Barrett

CFP: 2023 Dress and Body Association Conference

Though not archives-specific, this CFP mentions museums.

The Dress and Body Association invites submissions for the organization’s fourth annual conference, which will be held on November 4-5, 2023. Consistent with our long-term goals for inclusivity and sustainability, all activities will be 100% online, including keynote speaker(s), research presentations, and opportunities for virtual networking.

Visit the DBA website——to learn more about this organization and consider becoming a member.

Climate Change: Implications for Dress and the Body

For English speakers, there are two major definitions of “climate” as a noun:

  1. The characteristic weather conditions of a country or region
  2. The attitudes or conditions prevailing among a body of people

Curiously, we use the term “climate change” primarily (if not exclusively) in connection with deteriorating environmental conditions. Yet human bodies and dress are also… and have always been… impacted by changing “attitudes or conditions.” What changes happening today are having the greatest or most pertinent impacts? How are these changes affecting different “bodies of people” (societies, cultures, organizations, communities, etc.)?

Proposals for a paper or a virtual roundtable discussion on any topic related to dress and the body will be considered, but those related to this year’s theme are most likely to be accepted. Changing “attitudes and conditions” may include but are not limited to:

  • Technological innovations (e.g. AI-generated dress/bodies, biodegradable/fungal dress, biomimicry)
  • Politics and political activism (e.g. bodies of intersectional solidarity)
  • Circumstances of violence, conflict, and migration
  • The physical environment and attitudes about it (e.g. consequences and adaptations to anthropogenic climate change)
  • Cultural standards and ideals of beauty (e.g. “sexy” bodies or “healthy” bodies)
  • Implementation (or revision) of laws and dress codes (e.g. reproductive rights, gender diversity, labor rights)
  • Changes in education that impact future artists, designers, creators, and inventors
  • Changes in industries (fashion, theater, advertising, healthcare, media, museums, etc.)

Both beginning and advanced scholars are welcome. Abstracts should be 200-300 words. Presenters do not need to submit a paper before the conference. Depending on the number of submissions and the time zones of presenters, each person should have approximately 20 minutes to speak with discussion at the end of each panel.

Although we welcome scholars, educators, and activists from any country, the language of the conference will be English. We will consider a panel in an alternative language if there is sufficient interest from a group of scholars. Abstracts must be written in English and should be drawn from original research; we ask that presenters not simply recycle papers given at other conferences. Pre-recorded presentations are allowed, but presenters must join the Zoom meeting to hear the other speakers on the panel and participate in the discussion in real time.

For best consideration, please submit your abstract by July 1, 2023. All submissions will be read by at least two reviewers in a single-blind review process. Authors can expect letters of acceptance by mid-August.

Registration through the DBA website will be required for access to the online platform. Donations are welcome, but not required to participate. The recommended donation is 20 USD for students and early-career scholars, 50 USD for mid-career and senior scholars.

To submit an abstract:
To register for the conference:

The Dress and Body Association is registered as a non-profit organization (501(c)(3)) in the state of Indiana (United States). Donations are tax-deductible.

Dress & Body Association |

CFP: SAA Women’s Collections Section Meeting

The Women’s Collections Section (WCS) of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) are seeking panel proposals and presentations for the WCS section meeting to be held June 20, 2023 at 1PM CST/2PM EST!

This year we are seeking proposals that focus on creative strategies and innovative means repositories are using to highlight stories of women and gender non-conforming individuals. This call extends to repositories that may fall outside traditional bounds and collections that are not traditionally seen as being “women’s collections.”

We especially invite proposals that highlight stories of Queer and Trans individuals and people of color. Please email your proposal to

Proposals will be reviewed by the WCS section steering committee. They will be prioritizing proposals that intentionally address critical and anti-oppressive research and practices.

The deadline for all proposals is Friday, May 19, 2023. Notifications will be sent out by Monday, May 29, 2023.

Feel free to email the WCS co-chairs at with any questions or concerns!

Call for Reviewers: Studies in Oral History

Contributors interested in submitting a review to our journal Studies in Oral History are asked to notify our new reviews editor Gwyn McClelland by 15 May 2023.

We accept a wide range of reviews including reviews of podcasts, online oral history records or exhibitions.

So if you’re interested, please send an email with your contact details and the subject for review to You just need to express interest by 15 May not submit the review by that date.

For further information about our journal requirements please consult the Guidelines for Contributors and Style Guide.

New Issue: Archival Issues

The newest issue of the Midwest Archives Conference’s journal, Archival Issues, is now available! This issue (42.1) includes three full-length articles and seven publication reviews.

The entire issue can be viewed online in MAC’s open access repository:…

Featured Articles:

“Amplifying Civil Rights Collections with Oral Histories: A Collaboration with Alumni at Queens College, City University of New York” by Annie Tummino and Victoria Fernandez 

“Understanding History, Building Trust, and Sharing Appraisal Authority: Engaging Underrepresented Student Groups through Culture Centers” by Jessica Ballard and Cara Bertram 

“Situating Community Archives Along the Continuum of Community-Engaged Archival Praxis: Autonomy, Independence, and the Archival Impulse” by Lindsay Kistler Mattock and Aiden M. Bettine

Thank you to the authors, reviewers, editors, and others whose excellent work made this issue possible.

Best regards,

Brandon T. Pieczko

Archival Issues Editorial Board Chair