Jack Carlos and His Arabian Knights, May 11, 1927

Click Jack Carlos and Band – Large image to view an enlarged version of the image.

In the 1920s, Lansing residents danced to jazz bands from Michigan and across the US. These included James C. Dimmick’s Million Dollar Sunny Brook Orchestra, Nate Fry and the Gold Diggers, Wilson’s Serenaders, the Waltz Wizards, the Masqueraders, the 10 Musical Senators, and Alma Morrison and the Original Society Syncopators. Many of these bands played at the Armory, Lansing’s most popular dance venue. It was located on Michigan Avenue at Marshall Street.

This month’s images feature Jack Carlos and His Arabian Knights Orchestra, a band native to Lansing. The band’s venues included the Armory, Hotel Olds, and the Country Club. Their name typifies the orientalism that was the rage in the United States throughout the 1920s, following the enormous popularity of The Sheik (1921) with Rudolph Valentino. Lansing theatres replayed The Sheik throughout the decade along with its sequel Son of the Sheik (1926) and other exotic “desert romance” films such as Lady of the Harem (1926).

These images are part of the Leavenworth collection, a landmark acquisition for the Archives of Michigan. Taken by Leavenworth Photography in Lansing, this collection is the largest and most comprehensive historical photograph collection of Lansing in existence. An estimated 200,000 negatives trace Lansing’s history from the dirt roads of its pre-capital days through its boom into a major industrial city and automotive capital, and throughout the twentieth century. The collection is particularly strong in industrial photographs, but its true hallmark is its wide scope.

Negatives in the Leavenworth collection have been deteriorating, and work has begun to digitize the images. An exhibit of the collection will open at the Michigan Historical Center in May 2008. The Archives looks forward to sharing this exciting collection with the public and raising funds for its preservation.

Another view of Jack Carlos and His Arabian Knights (January 3, 1928)

Click Archives of Michigan to visit the Archives of Michigan home page.

Click Image of the Month Archives to access former Image of the Month pages.

Archives of Michigan
Michigan Library and Historical Center
702 W. Kalamazoo Street
Lansing, MI 48913
Phone: (517) 373-1408
E-mail: archives@michigan.gov

Written by: Lisa Sparks.


Here is an interesting article from the NYT on March 17.

Dusting Off the Archive for the Web

Visitors to the Sports Illustrated Web site will be able to check out the George Steinbrenner cover story from 1993, along with Magic Johnson in 1991 and Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra in 1964.

Published: March 17, 2008

As magazines and newspapers hunt for the new thing they need to be to thrive in the Internet era, some find that part of the answer lies in the old thing they used to be.

Sports Illustrated back issues are to go online, with covers like the 1971 Ali-Frazier fight.

Publications are rediscovering their archives, like a person learning that a hand-me-down coffee table is a valuable antique. For magazines and newspapers with long histories, especially, old material can be reborn on the Web as an inexpensive way to attract readers, advertisers and money.

Sports Illustrated, which faces fierce daily, even hourly, competition with ESPN, Yahoo Sports and others, has something its main rivals do not: a 53-year trove of articles and photos, most of it from an era when the magazine dominated the field of long-form sports writing and color sports photography.

On Thursday, the magazine will introduce the Vault, a free site within SI.com that contains all the words Sports Illustrated has ever published and many of the images, along with video and other material, in a searchable database.

SI.com already draws more than six million unique visitors each month, according to Nielsen Online (publications insist that the true numbers are much higher than Nielsen’s ratings), and executives of the magazine predict the Vault could add five million monthly readers.

“The real hidden value of this is what it does for search,” said John Squires, executive vice president of Time Inc., the Time Warner subsidiary that publishes Sports Illustrated. The move quadruples the site’s volume, he said. “We’ll have to work our way up the search algorithms over time, but eventually, someone searches Johnny Unitas, and SI.com is going to pop up.”

Many publications, including most major magazines, still offer little or no archive access online. And of those that do allow readers to look deep into their histories, many charge for it, like The Washington Post or The Atlantic Monthly, whose online archives both go back to the 19th century.

But a growing number of publications are opening their own vaults — if only partially — or dropping pay requirements, and they say it makes a big difference in attracting readers.

Industry executives say that although old articles attract less interest from advertisers than current ones, any increase matters at a time when many newspapers and magazines are struggling to hold onto print ad revenue. They say that while building an archive for readers is time-consuming, it is not prohibitively expensive — people at some major magazines gave estimates in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The material is already available, and the databases cost very little to operate.

Mark Ford, president of the Sports Illustrated Group at Time, said the Vault was expected to account for 5 percent of the magazine’s online revenue in its first year, and more in the future.

Popular Mechanics, a Hearst magazine, says about 35 percent of its online readers enter the site through a free archive that contains printed content back to the mid-1990s, and 15 percent enter through Web-only material.

The company does not share specific financial information, but James B. Meigs, editor in chief of Popular Mechanics, said, “we get good ad revenue from this traffic,” in part because it invites the reader to linger, digging more deeply into a particular topic.

Until recently, Newsweek.com opened its archives only to people who subscribed to the print magazine or who paid an online fee, and content reached back to only 2000. “All it did was limit people’s interest in even looking at our archives,” said Deidre Depke, editor of Newsweek.com.

Last fall, the magazine — part of the Washington Post Company — made its online collection of past articles free and easier to navigate, and expanded it to go back to 1990; Web traffic to the archive quadrupled. Next month, it will add articles from 1975 through 1989, and then work will begin on everything back to the magazine’s founding in 1933.

“It’s an incredibly difficult project because we have to open up old computer files of every story, correct errors, change the coding, add computer tags,” Ms. Depke said. And issues from before the digital era have to be scanned, page by page.

For two years, The New York Times allowed only print subscribers and people who paid an online fee to read its editorials and columnists or to delve into the archive. Last September, it ended the pay requirement and made most articles accessible back to the mid-19th century.

Since then, search traffic to archive pages has more than doubled, and the archives now represent 10 percent of the page views on NYTimes.com, said Diane McNulty, a spokeswoman.

Time Inc. has been ahead of this curve; two of its publications, People and Entertainment Weekly, give access to articles going back about a decade.

A few years ago, Time magazine put every issue cover and every article it had published, back to its founding in 1923, online free, though that feature is not prominent on the Web site.

Like most publications’ online archives, Time’s has few pictures, which can be more difficult to scan and store than articles, and often have thorny copyright issues. When news with a historical angle breaks, the magazine can put together a page on the subject using old and new articles, which the company says makes the archive more attractive to advertisers.

But the Sports Illustrated project, three years in the making, goes several steps further. It includes many of the magazine’s photos, along with links to related video on other sites.

The Vault’s search engine lets a reader search by athlete, coach, team, sport, decade and year. Want to see every Sports Illustrated cover with Magic Johnson, or all the articles that mentioned him in 1986? Easy.

The site also allows a reader to see high-resolution images of old issues of the magazine as it appeared in physical form, including ads, using a mouse to “turn” pages. Jeff Price, president of SI Digital, said, “We’re confident that there’s nothing else like this.”

Quietly last month we turned the Archives of Michigan EAD site on to a live server.  The initial guide for the Michigan Military Establishment is the result of a National Historical Records and Publications (NHPRC) grant titled “Thank God for Michigan” awarded in 2007.  The grant seeks to uncover time and cost effective methods of digitizing historical records and making them accessible online.

Central to the project are uploads of large amounts of digitized, original records with minimal meta data attached.  The EAD finding aid serves as the guide to the collection linking to images of individual documents (search the Second Michigan Infantry to find examples of actual documents online).  The Archives is in the process of loading all 75,000 Civil War related images from the state collection.  Follow the EAD ink in the right column to the site.

In addition to the State of Michigan Civil War materials, other EAD guides are being loaded as they are completed.  Browse the collections to see a full listing of available guides.

Special thanks to the University of Michigan for providing DLPS servers and the XPAT search engine for the project.  I will post more information as the project nears completion in 2008.

Michigan Elections Database

January 15, 2008

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

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

April 12, 2007

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

April 10, 2007

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.