Heard Libraries reflect on archival digitization successes, offer increased access

The Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries prioritized the digitization of a limited number of special archival collections during the 2021–22 fiscal year to ensure their accessibility for research and preservation in perpetuity. In addition to the work of creating digital surrogates from the collections, the Heard Libraries are adding metadata to make all digitized objects searchable and findable through the web. These rare and unique materials are being preserved according to best archival practices. The libraries are proud to showcase the following digitization efforts and look forward to more faculty, students and scholars engaging with these archives.

Vanderbilt Television News Archive

The world’s most extensive and complete archive of television news, Vanderbilt’s Television News Archive contains news broadcasts of the national networks since Aug. 5, 1968. ​By increasing the accessiblity of this news media archive, the initiative makes it possible for researchers and the public alike to dig deeper into the impact, agency and evolution of the broadcast media as a key form of free speech. The Heard Libraries are using machine learning to transcribe, transform and index existing and newly acquired collections of television news.

Lamar Alexander Papers

In 2011, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander donated his personal papers and correspondence from his years as Tennessee governor to the libraries. A decade later, Alexander donated his personal papers from his time as U.S. secretary of education, his years as a United States senator, and his run for the presidency. This year, the libraries digitized audio visual materials from the Lamar Alexander Papers.

Yusef Abdul Lateef and Dizzy Gillespie: NMAAM collaborations

Yusef Abdul Lateef was a Grammy Award-winning composer, performer, recording artist, author, visual artist, educator, philosopher and influential cultural force. John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie is best known for his improvisational skills, significant contributions to Afro-Cuban jazz, and important advancements in the bebop style of jazz. In collaboration with the National Museum of African American Music, Vanderbilt acquired Yusef Abdul Lateef’s archive and a collection from Dizzy Gillespie, which provide important documentation on the evolution of jazz. Audio visual materials in the collections are being digitized this summer.

Reverend James M. Lawson, Jr. Papers

Vanderbilt’s Special Collections and University Archives is fortunate to house the papers of the Rev. James M. Lawson Jr., including letters from his incarceration as a conscientious objector, his expulsion from Vanderbilt University over his role in organizing the Nashville sit-ins, and his subsequent leadership in the nation’s civil rights movement. Archivists are working closely with Lawson Institute faculty and the donor to make these collections widely accessible.

Vanderbilt Hustler

Published since 1888, the Vanderbilt Hustler is Vanderbilt’s oldest student newspaper. Initially published by the Calumet Club and then by the Vanderbilt Athletic Association, the newspaper since 1917 has been published by students under supervision of a publication board, now known as Vanderbilt Student Communications, Inc.(VSC). Archivists worked with VSC to archive digital files of the Hustler, which documents the thoughts and actions of students, faculty and administration throughout the institution’s history.

Latin American Collections

Vanderbilt’s Colombian history and culture collection is one of the largest and most wide-ranging in the United States, with materials grouped into three categories: broadsides (1825–1972), pamphlets and novenas (1785–1969), and programs (1819–1914). The Delia Zapata Olivella collection, Manuel Zapata Olivella collection, and J. Leon Helguera pamphlet collection are among the collections at Vanderbilt with the greatest international demand.

John Seigenthaler Papers

John L. Seigenthaler was a prominent figure in Tennessee social and political history, longtime editor and publisher of The Tennessean newspaper, and lifelong First Amendment activist. The libraries digitized previously unprocessable audio visual materials from Seigenthaler’s papers, which document his life and work, with all other videos to be digitized as requested by scholars.

“The success of these projects speaks to the ability and responsibility of the Heard Libraries to collect, preserve and make accessible important materials for the Vanderbilt and broader international research communities,” Hilary Craiglow, acting university librarian, said.