Michigan Elections Database

With Michigan’s primary right around the corner, the Department of History, Arts and Libraries today announced the availability of Michigan’s Precinct Results Databases online at www.michiganelections.org. The Precinct Results Databases – used to certify and distribute the official results of each election – were created by the Michigan Bureau of Elections, Department of State, and recently transferred to the Archives of Michigan for permanent preservation.

“The preservation of Michigan’s history and the assurance that there will be an accurate, accessible record of the political process is a tremendous responsibility and a great gift to current and future generations,” said HAL Director William Anderson. “As Michigan gets into the full swing of this election year, interest in information like this will certainly climb.”

The Archives of Michigan (in collaboration with the San Diego Supercomputer Center) converted the data from its original format into a search engine for public access. This work was conducted as part of the Persistent Archives Testbed (PAT) Project that was funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The PAT project was a multi-state initiative to investigate new and effective methods of preserving electronic data as the original technology becomes obsolete.

State Archivist Mark Harvey said that data for 1992 through 2004 is available online and can be searched by year, county, office, city and township. In addition, he noted that GIS maps (showing color-coded counties according to party majority) were developed for statewide offices to represent voting trends. Data for 1970 through 1990 is not searchable, because the metadata needed to translate the data codes has been lost over time. However, the data can be downloaded by researchers who are interested in trying to interpret the data themselves. Additional information about this data and the PAT Project is available at http://www.sdsc.edu/PAT.

“This is a valuable research tool for anyone with an interest in Michigan elections,” said Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land. “I’m grateful to the Department of History, Arts and Libraries for its work to make this important data accessible to the public through the convenience of the Internet.”

The Archives of Michigan is part of the Michigan Historical Center, an agency within the Department of History, Arts and Libraries. HAL is dedicated to strengthening the economy and enriching the quality of life for Michigan residents by providing access to information, preserving and promoting Michigan’s heritage and fostering cultural creativity. The department also includes the Library of Michigan, the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Michigan Film Office.

Written by Casey Kremers, HAL Communications Office, 1/14/07

Council of State Archivists

I have recently been working with other state archivists and their staff on the issue of providing online access to primary resources. Many states have been approached by vendors (Ancestry.com, iArchives and Genealogical Society of Utah to name a few) interested in developing a business relationship to provide online access to original documents. The Council of State Archivists created a task force, the Online Content Providers Task Force, to deal with the issues surrounding such relationships. The result is a statement of intent, guidelines and issues to consider while working on any digitization project. You may access the online statement at: www.statearchivists.org

If you have any questions about the statement please contact me directly at the Archives of Michigan.

Archives on the Radio

Archives on the Radio
I’ve noted before that our staff has written some local history articles for

Lansing’s City Pulse newspaper. These have prompted a couple local
radio interviews.

This Friday, April 13th, archivist Robert Garrett will be on the Jack Ebling Show from about
6:20 – 6:30. The show can be heard on Lansing A.M. Radio Station 1320
(Call letters WILS). The subject is Lansing’s African-American
neighborhoods. The interview was prompted by this City Pulse article.

(I don’t know if you can pick it up outside of Lansing.)

Last October, Bob did a radio interview on the history of trolleys in
Lansing. Since then, Lansing has adopted a modern “trolley” line between Lansing and East Lansing.

The interview was for the City Pulse’s radio show (broadcast on the MSU
student station.). You can now access that interview online. If you
fast-forward about-third of the way in (after the interview with Lansing
Mayor Virg Bernero), then you can hear Bob. You’ll need Quicktime or
something equivalent to access it. With that in mind, here’s the link.

Google Patent Search

Patents Search.

I realize it is hard to keep up with Google’s new beta products, but I thought I would share this in case you haven’t seen it. Google Patents is a simplified patent search either by keyword or by patent number. I give a workshop on researching the history of residential homes and businesses and I try to mention the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office site (uspto.gov). However, the Google site is easier to use.

I have found the patent search useful when I have stumbled across gadgets in our attic, garage and basement. At our latest house, there is a music box screwed to base of our entry door. It was quite a mystery until I took it apart, found the patent number and ran it at uspto.gov. It turned out to be a children’s furniture music box that could be screwed to a crib or rocking chair. The original owners were members of the U.S. Music Box Society, it was screwed to the front door because it played the tune “Bless this House.” Mystery solved. Have a great day.

Baseball and Michigan History

“For, lo winter is past
The rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of birds is come,
And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land”
-Song of Solomon.

Each year, the announcer Ernie Harwell started the Tiger baseball season with this verse. It was a right of Spring–as is baseball itself. There probably isn’t a better sport for archivists than baseball. Statistics, records, history. It’s all right there. Here are a few updates provided by the Archives of Michigan staff:

First, there’s our April Image of the Month. We spotlight the Detroit Tigers’ 1945 season. Click here for this feature

If you enjoy our baseball images, then you might consider sending one as an E-Postcard. The E-Postcard page also provides links to current and past baseball Image of the Month pages. You can find all this here

I also have a note that’s not baseball-related, but still very good news to some. We’ve updated our Naturalization Records Index page by adding indexes for Barry and Genesee Counties. Naturalization indexes are now available online for a total of thirty-one Michigan counties (An additional number are available in the Archives reading room.). You can access the online naturalization indexes here

All these features can also be accessed through the Archives of Michigan home page: www.michigan.gov/archivesofmi

Archives of Michigan reaches out to the arts

Getting back into the swing of things…

Greetings from the Archives of Michigan. Yes, I am still here plugging away. We finished an extremely busy fall which included over 20 Family History Month programs in October and a flurry of grant writing. We capped the Fall season with a music concert titled “Shout Sister Shout” a tribute to 30’s and 40’s Jazz standards. The highly acclaimed band Steppin’ In It performed the show with singer-songwriter Rachael Davis; local artist Jen Sygit opened the show. Thank you to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs for sponsoring the show with a generous grant.

Why music? A colleague once chided me for trying to mix the terms “archives” and “fun.” Music ties in so perfectly with the burgeoning concept of cultural heritage or cultural tourism–which like it or not–is our new mantra. Music has the potential to stir emotions about people, places, and days past. These are the same terms we use when describing history.

And it is fun.

The concert brought about 85 people to the Michigan Historical Center, about 50 had never been to the Center before. We ran a power point of historic images above the stage that garnered many questions and comments. Not huge numbers but mission accomplished nonetheless.

For the past year I have been working on the finer points of a “Michigan Heritage Collection.” The focus is Michigan Artists from original manuscripts to music scores to comic art. While some may argue that these types of materials have little research value, I would counter that it is an issue of relevance. The more we can show the importance of documentation in various parts of our life the more relevance our institutions and collections will have.

Let’s face it, many people see historic documents as nothing more than an aesthetic novelty or money making venture on Antiques Roadshow or Ebay (ever been to Bennigan’s?). Or historians see the arts (music and movies!) as inaccurate or too sentimental.

I am not suggesting we substitute academic rigors for movie night or a sing along. But, if I host a concert or film that has 50 new visitors and can talk to them about our facilities and expose them to our collections, I would want to do a concert every week (ok, maybe every month–lots of work).

If Woody Guthrie’s song about the 1913 Italian Hall disaster in Calumet, MI makes someone curious about the details of that fateful Christmas Eve or John Sayles’ “Matewan” makes someone curious about labor history, I say “great!” and don’t worry about what others might think. The arts spark our imagination. The materials in our collections fuel our curiosity. So give yourself a break, sometimes it is ok to watch the movie before you read the book.

Check out the band Steppin’ In It’s website at: www.steppininit.com or www.jensygit.com They have free audio streams. Another great Michigan artist is Sufjan Stevens.

Jen warms up the crowd

Steppin’ In It knocks out the standards.

One last request. If you read this, post a comment. Writing a blog is a two way street. It helps build community when we talk about issues whether we agree or not.

Internet Public Library

If you ever look at RefDesk.com you might be interested in today’s “Site of the Day” it is none other than the Internet Public Library. Of particular interest is the Archives section under the Arts and Humanities. There is a listing for all of the state’s official archives: http://www.ipl.org/div/subject/browse/hum03.00.00/ and more.

It began out of the University of Michigan School of Information and is gathering new partners. Check it out, spread the word!

Memory Miner Software

Good morning. Just a quick post to talk about a few websites I was told about recently. The first is really a software program called “Memory Miner”(www.memoryminer.com) This is currently a Mac-only beta program. But watch the Quicktime demo, it does some very interesting things with photos and timelines.

Second, is the search engine “retrievr” (http://labs.systemone.at/retrievr/). This allows users to sketch the shape of what you want to search–you draw it–no text. The idea is very exciting, however, the execution is somewhat lacking. Try it out, see what you think. At this time, it only searches images on Flickr.com, a free photo sharing website.

Finally, the beta e-commerce site www.Etsy.com uses some unusual search methods for products. Sometimes the small shops are the only ones to be bold enough to share new ideas. What’s this to do with archives? It is exciting to see how technology interfaces (or how it does not) with historic records. It also is interesting as we think about new and improved avenues of access to our collections. (thanks to U of M SI student Cathie Tosach for the heads-up on these sites).

Really Simple

I finally figured out how to get an RSS (“Really Simple Syndication”) feed for the blog (if you are interested in background on RSS start here) . For those of you who haven’t used this, it is a way to get automatic updates when I post new content to the site. If you need help getting started, let me know. You can use these feeds:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/ TheAnecdotalArchivist



You can use a number of readers including Google, GatorNews, FreeReader http://www.feedreader.com, or Pluck http://www.pluck.com/index.html among others. I have also changed the settings to allow non-members leave comments. So please, comment away!.