SDR Deposit of the Week: Ferguson Grand Jury, 100 years of INS annual reports, and the historic Moynihan Report

March 1, 2015
Mr. James R. (Librarian) Jacobs

Hands Up Don't Shoot Ferguson protestsStanford bibliographers have long needed a tool to collect, preserve and give access to born-digital documents and publications that fall within scope of their collecting areas. For the last several years, we have been using a tool to collect Everyday Electronic Materials (EEMS). However, the EEMs system has some technical and workflow constraints that do not meet our growing needs.

Kris Kasianovitz and I have now begun expanding our born-digital government information collections using Stanford Digital Repository (SDR) Online Deposit. This tool allows for multi-piece files and in general has a lower barrier to use than the EEMs tool (though it still requires copyright clearance and I loved the EEMs tool because of the bookmarklet in the browser!).

While we're in the piloting phase, I was asked to post my experiences with self-deposit to date and describe a little about how we're thinking of using the tool in the government information world. Without further ado, here are three recent documents we've successfully uploaded to the SDR that are now available via SearchWorks.

1) The Negro family, the case for national action AKA the Moynihan Report. This document came to me from a recent New Yorker article "Don’t Be Like That: Does black culture need to be reformed?" by Kelefa Sanneh. The article, a book review of a new anthology called “The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth,” contextualized the sociology and cultural history of being black in America, describing in detail the ground-breaking work of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, trained as a sociologist and well known later as the liberal Senator from NY. As Sanneh notes, the Moynihan Report -- which was originally printed in a run of 100 with 99 of them locked in a vault -- was leaked to the press causing the Johnson administration to release the entire document. Moynihan's overarching theme was “the deterioration of the Negro family” and he called for a national program to “strengthen the Negro family.”

2) Annual Report of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. This one started out as a research consultation. A student wanted to analyze this report over the 100+ years that it's been published. She found that the Immigration and Naturalization Service had digitized their historic run, but for some reason had taken the link down from their site and not restored it for over 2 weeks. I contacted INS and got the digitized documents restored, then downloaded them, deposited them in SDR and had the purl added to our bibliographic record. The added benefit to collecting this digital annual report is that it makes it easier for future users to access this important annual report chock full of important statistics -- our paper collection is shelved in several different areas of the US documents collection as INS has shifted around over the years (causing its call# to change over time) among different agencies from Treasury (call# T21.1:) to Labor (call# L3.1: and L6.1:) to Justice (call# J21.1:) to Homeland Security (call# HS4.200).

3) Documents from the Ferguson Grand Jury. Ferguson has been in the news over the last year because of the fatal shooting of African American youth Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson and the ensuing protests it sparked. This important historic series of 105 Missouri state documents from the Grand Jury were released via Freedom of Information requests from CNN. Some of our government information colleagues around the country wondered online how to collect and preserve these documents for posterity and future researchers. Luckily, SUL is one library able to collect and preserve historically important born-digital government documents.

The overwhelming majority of state, local, US and international government documents these days are born-digital. Kris and I continue to look for ways to maintain and expand SUL's documents collections. Self-deposit will no doubt be one strategy among several (including Web archiving, LOCKSS and future initiatives) as we serve the information needs of current and future Stanford faculty, students and researchers.