Competition for Top Dog from the Archives: Round One

At last, it’s time to begin the Cats and Dogs from the Archives competition! Before you vote, please review the Rules post and remember that we’re doing this to benefit the Cleveland Animal Protective League. If you’re voting, you need to donate.

Voting for this round will remain open until 5 pm EST on Sunday, August 2. Below you will see 8 brackets with 16 dogs competing. (To see a larger version of any image, click on it.) The post that follows this one will have the brackets for the 16 competing cats. Round Two is scheduled to kick off on Monday, August 3.

Many thanks to all our valiant dog and cat competitors, including the many who were submitted but were not selected. To give them a chance to shine in the spotlight, they will all be featured on the Dogs From the Archives and Cats from the Archives Tumblr blogs over the coming weeks.

If you have any questions about the rules, please post a comment on the Rules post or send me a message. And now, vote, vote, vote, like a baby stoat! And give generously!


Dogs & Cats from the Archives to benefit the Cleveland Animal Protective League: The Rules

Ok, in the next posts we’ll be kicking off the first round of the Dogs & Cats from the Archives competition, and I know you’re all champing at the bit (to use a horse metaphor) to start voting, but first let’s go over the rules.

1) While we’re all having fun here, the purpose is to raise money for the good work of the Cleveland Animal Protective League. Since the Society of American Archivists is meeting in Cleveland this year, Caryn Radick has spearheaded plans to find ways that the archival community could give back to help local animals in need. This is one of them. So, we ask you to make a donation of at least $1 for every vote you make in this competition. How you do that is up to you, and this is all on the honor system. You can donate $100 and vote 100 times. You can donate $50 and have 50 people in your office vote. You can donate $31 and vote once in each of the brackets over the next few weeks. You can donate at the beginning, and “spend” your votes in the weeks to come, or you can keep track of all your votes and donate appropriately at the end. You can make a donation of an item the shelter needs and then vote according to the dollar value of your gift. Please be honest and generous. We’re trying to help animals and the people who help them. Don’t cheat.

2) There are several ways you can donate:

  • Go to this link on the APL website (“Make a One Time Donation”) and do it online
  • Send the APL a check, made out to Cleveland Animal Protective League or the Cleveland APL, and mail it to: Cleveland Animal Protective League, 1729 Willey Avenue, Cleveland,  OH  44113
  • Buy something from the APL Amazon wishlist and it will be shipped directly to them
  • Buy something from their wishlist and bring it with you to the SAA meeting in Cleveland. There will be a collection point at the meeting–probably in the registration area–but that will be confirmed closer to the meeting

3) Whenever and however you donate, please contact Caryn ( to let her know what you gave. This is the only way we can keep track of how much money this campaign is raising, and we’d kind of like to be able to know how successful we’ve been, as well as track information that will help us plan for possible ventures in future years. (Your name will be kept confidential, although you’re welcome and encouraged to talk about donating!)

4) This will work in a “March Madness” style bracket system. So we’re starting out with 32 animals–16 cats and 16 dogs competing in 16 brackets. Working up to the start of the SAA meeting we’ll be narrowing it down to 16 animals, then 8, then 4 and then ultimately the final two: top cat vs. top dog. The final battle will take place during the week of the SAA meeting, with the winner announced on Saturday, August 22.

5) You can vote more than once for any animal in any bracket. You will also be able to track how the voting is going over the course of the competition, so if you’re really pulling for one animal, you can keep voting for him or her and try to put your favorite over the top. But remember, if you vote, you should pay up accordingly.

6)You are welcome to help promote this competition to your colleagues, friends, and patrons, but please make it clear that while it looks free to vote (and it technically is), they should make donations accordingly.

7) While SAA is assisting us in promoting this fundraising effort, this is not formally associated with SAA. So if there’s anything you don’t like about it, don’t blame them. If you have any questions or concerns, please leave a comment below or contact Caryn or me (

Our thanks to Amy Schindler, who also has helped in narrowing down the voluminous and adorable pictures of animals submitted by a wide range of archival institutions.

Testing, testing

This is a test. I’m trying out the polling options that I hope we’ll be using for the Cats & Dogs From the Archives contest that will launch this weekend. If you see this, please take a look at the two polls below and vote in them. Try voting more than once (maybe twice, but don’t go crazy). Let me know what you think of how it works. I don’t have unlimited options, but some things are configurable. I think we should let people see the results, don’t you?

Note if you want to see a bigger version of the image, just click on it.

There are two test polls below. Please keep scrolling down to vote in both of them.

New test:

Spontaneous Scholarships 2015: 41 recipients, 111 donors!

Things have been a little more hectic for me than usual, but at last I’m happy to share the good news about this year’s Spontaneous Scholarships. 111 lovely people donated a total of $9,659, allowing 19 students and 22 “regular” members to receive funds to pay for their registrations for the SAA Annual Meeting. With these 41 new scholarship winners, your donations have helped a total of 190 people over the past five years.

With each year it’s great to see more people also stepping in help encourage and support donations. This year we had two matching pledges–one person gave $5 for every donation in the first week and another pledged to match all donations made in the final week. I am sure both of these generous offers sparked some people to give–both early and late in the campaign! I also think that this year’s book raffle for donors helped generate a few additional contributions. Thanks again to  Michelle Caswell, Sami Norling, Aaron Purcell, Caryn Radick, Kathleen Roe, and Tanya Zanish-Belcher for their donations of books (and a journal) for the raffle!

As always, I know from the messages I see from both people who received scholarships and those who did not how grateful they are for the generosity of the donors, who make these opportunities possible. Through the scholarships we’re able to give our colleagues a little bit of help when they need it, and also show that there is a community of professionals who care. It’s a pleasure for me to be able to provide one way to channel that community’s good will. Thank you to all of this year’s donors, and to those who’ve given in the past. Looking forward to seeing everyone (who can make it) in Cleveland!

Your Cats & Dogs from the Archives can help the Cleveland Animal Protective League!

Knowing how much archivists love their own cats, dogs, and other pets, our colleague Caryn Radick decided to explore ways our community could help a local animal shelter in conjunction with the SAA annual meeting in Cleveland this August. In addition to onsite opportunities to help, Caryn and I have teamed up to host a virtual battle royale between your cats and dogs from the archives!

On or about July 24 we’ll launch a March Madness style competition, in which your donations to the Cleveland Animal Protective League will allow you to vote for your favorite images of cats and dogs from the archives. We’ll start out with a “sweet 16” and by the week before the SAA meeting it will be down to the top cat and top dog battling it out for supremacy, with the winner announced on August 21. We’ll follow up with more information about how you can vote, but for now we need you to send in the best images of dogs and cats your collections have to offer.  Please send an image or a link (with no copyright restrictions, please) to kate.theimer [@] no later than Wednesday, July 22. We’ll do the hard work of selecting the final animals for the competition, and then announce how you can support your favorites, and more importantly, support the great work of the Cleveland Animal Protective League!


1) Yes, you can send in more than one image. But please try to have only cats or dogs in each. We’re all in favor of inter-species fraternization, but not for this competition!

2) Submissions from outside the U.S. are welcomed.

3) Please provide an appropriate credit line for your image.

4) What about other animals, you ask? If this goes well, next year may see the top dog or cat take on all comers! So save your pictures of goats, horses, birds, and other remarkable creatures for next time.

With one week left for Spontaneous Scholarships–dollar for dollar matching pledge just received!

With just one week left to throw your name in the hat for a Spontaneous Scholarship this year, I was feeling a bit down because so far donations have also been down. We’ve got 50 people asking for help this year (more “regulars” than students, for the first time), and donations are a little over a third of what we had at the end of last year’s campaign. However, a Very Generous Donor has stepped forward and pledged to match dollar for dollar all contributions made in this final week!

So, if you’ve been procrastinating, this should help you overcome your problem. Give now and your donation will be doubled. Bless, you Very Generous Donor.

And, as always, if you need help, please ask for it. I hope we will see a surge of cash & checks, and so be able to assist even more people this year. More information about applying and giving are available back on this post.

I also want to thank the Generous Donor who helped get the ball rolling during the first week. S/he pledged to give $5 for every donation made during that week, and so thanks to the 36 of you who gave in early June and raised an additional $180 to give away!

Scholarship donors eligible to enter book raffle

What archivist (or archivist in training) would pass up the chance for a free book?

If you donate $20 or more to the Spontaneous Scholarships you can have a chance to win one of these fantastic books:

To enter, when you make your donation also tell me which book (or books) you’d most like to receive. After all the donations are in, I’ll pick names out of the donor raffle hat and let you know if you’ve gotten lucky. (If you send your donation by check, please provide me with an email address as well.)

Many thanks to Michelle Caswell, Sami Norling, Aaron Purcell, Caryn Radick, Kathleen Roe, and Tanya Zanish-Belcher, who generously donated books (and a journal) to the cause.

Spontaneous Scholarships 2015: How to give, how to apply

Yes, it’s the fifth year of this wonderful (and SAA-award winning) crowdfunding effort to help our fellow archivists and archives students attend the Society of American Archivists annual meeting. In the past four years you’ve helped 149 people–86 of them students–and I know how grateful all of them were for your donations.

The rules are the same as in previous years, but look for a follow-up post about how your donation can give you a chance to win a fabulous dining room suite a fabulous new archives-related book!

What is this about?

We’re giving money to people to fund their registration for the SAA Annual Meeting in Cleveland. Rather than pay for full travel or lodging for just a few people, I try to give a little bit of help to as many people as possible. This effort has no formal affiliation with SAA. Your donations are not tax deductible. It’s simple. You send me money. I give it all away within a few weeks to colleagues who need it.  Over the past four years, you’ve given over $30,000 and helped almost 150 fellow archivists and future archivists. It’s simple, but it works.

How you can help

If you want to give, you have several options, outlined below. My preference is for checks because that means PayPal transaction fees aren’t deducted from your donation, but I know it’s easier to click and donate while you’re thinking of it, so by all means, click and donate if that’s easier for you. Here are your options:

  • Pay by check– email me (info [@] or my regular email if you have it) or leave a comment (for which you must supply an email). I will reply with a mailing address. Or if you are an SAA, MARAC, or MAC member, you can look up my address in their member directories.
  • Pay via PayPal–click on the “Donate” button at top right of the sidebar.
  • Pay via credit card–send me an email, and I’ll send you an invoice using PayPal.

Give as much as you feel you can. Every little bit helps. Don’t feel like whatever you can afford to give isn’t enough. But if you’re fortunate enough to be in a comfortable position, please give generously.

Special early-bird incentive: A generous donor will give an additional $5 for every donation received or post-marked during the first week of the campaign. So act no later than June 9 and your donation can have an extra benefit!

This year, people making donations of $20 or more can enter a raffle to win a new copy of a archives-related book. See follow-up post for details.

How to put your name in the hat for scholarship

If you need help funding your SAA Annual Meeting registration, please send a message to info [@] providing your name, and whether you will be registering for the conference as a student or regular SAA member (note, you must be an SAA member to be eligible). All requests must be received by midnight on Tuesday, June 30. I will draw names out of a hat and notify the lucky people no later than Monday, July 6. This will allow you to register by the early-bird deadline of July 15. Once you forward me the confirmation of your registration, I will send you a reimbursement via check or PayPal.

So, all you need to do to apply is email me with the information listed above.That’s it. It’s on the honor system. Don’t ask unless you need, but if you need, go ahead and ask. This isn’t just for students and new archivists, it’s for everybody who needs a little help.

EDIT: Sorry, I thought I’d included this but it got dropped when I was revising the post. If you have received a scholarship in the past you are not eligible to receive another one. We want to spread the opportunities around. 

Which is why I’m asking you now to give, if you can. And why I’ll keep asking until July 1. Please share this through your own networks, as I will do shamelessly. And if you need some help, throw your name into the virtual hat!


What’s the best book about archives you’ve read lately?

I asked that question on Twitter and Facebook and here are the responses:


Big Data – A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance

Extensible Processing for Archives and Special Collections: Reducing Processing Backlogs

Ephemeral Material: Queering the Archive

The Boundaries of the Literary Archive: Reclamation and and Representation

Collecting, Curating, and Researching Writers’ Libraries: A Handbook

Dust: The Archive and Cultural History 

Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India 

Big Pharma 

Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art 

Microfilm: A History, 1839-1900

Paper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala 

Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder

King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa 

The Newton Papers: The Strange and True Odyssey of Newton’s Manuscripts 

The Hermit of Peking: The hidden life of Sir Edmund Backhouse (“he starts Bodlian Library with counterfeit books and archives from Chinese Imperial Court…”)

Epistolophilia: Writing the Life of Ona Simaite

Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace: Explorations in Canadian Women’s Archives

and of course

Archives Power: Memory, Accountability, and Social Justice

Any other recommendations?


New suggestions:

All this Stuff: Archiving the Artist

Paper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents

If you like this list, you might want to check out this older post, when we throwing out possibilities for the archivists’ book club. Lots of good ones there too.




Examples of archival & special collections being used for current scientific purposes?

Perhaps inspired by the fantastic session on the recent CLIR Hidden Collections Symposium featuring uses of scientists’ field books (including the Smithsonian’s Field Book Project), I’m interested in hearing about examples of archival and special collections materials being used to support current scientific research. “Current scientific research” can be framed broadly–really anything interesting that’s not history, fiction, art, etc. If you’ve got an example, even an anecdotal one, please share in a comment or send me a message, if you’d prefer. I expect the people of Twitter will be contributing as well–the Royal Bank of Scotland Archives already has: