University Archivist Receives State Historical Publication Award for Book

hamill_book_72University Archivist Lois Hamill has been selected as the recipient of a 2013 Kentucky History Award for her book Archives for the Lay Person: a Guide to Managing Cultural Collections. The Kentucky History Awards, given by the Kentucky Historical Society, recognize outstanding achievements by historians, public history professionals, volunteers, business and civic leaders, communities, and historical organizations throughout the Commonwealth. This year’s ceremony will take place in the Old Statehouse in Frankfort on November 8th.

Having worked at a local historical society herself, Hamill knows firsthand that they often hold historically significant records, typically do not have a trained archivist on staff, and have limited resources. This awareness led the author to provide practical guidance for the most common functions for managing cultural collections      in the setting of a small or volunteer run organization. Knowing the diverse range of formats found in cultural repositories, the author presents specialized information for photographs, paper records, audio and video material, digital files and others.

Whether readers are volunteers at the local historical society, trained librarians who manage the public library local history room, museum curators at a historical property with a few archival documents, or a newly graduated archivist working alone, they will find basic archival functions are demystified in lay language with an emphasis on the practical. Chapters include pertinent additional resources.

Steely Library owns a copy of Archives for the Lay Person that is available for borrowing ( The book is available in paper and electronic form. Copies can be purchased from the publisher at

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Welcome back, NKU students!

We hope the 2013-2014 school year has gotten off to a great start for all our new and returning students! We came across a fun blog to help you answer some of college life’s most pressing questions. Hope you find as entertaining as we did!

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Records and Information Management in the University Archives

Ever wonder how a university archives decides what records to collect? As a state funded university, NKU must follow Kentucky’s records laws regarding both records retention and destruction.  These laws require employees to create, maintain and make accessible records which document the university’s functions, policies, procedures, decisions and essential transactions. In other words, state records laws ensure the permanent preservation of Northern Kentucky University’s history. Because of these laws, records and information management at NKU is similar to filing your taxes – it’s required, not optional.

The NKU Records and Information Management Program helps employees determine what records they may destroy, what they must keep, and what they must transfer to the University Archives. Employees may schedule individual consultations or group training sessions designed to help them understand Kentucky’s records laws and successfully apply the state universities’ records retention schedule. In addition to these privately scheduled trainings, a university wide training event is held annually.

This summer marked the 5th consecutive year of a university wide records and information management training event. This year’s event consisted of a “basics” training class and a door-to-door “How Can We Help You?” campaign. These office visits resulted in direct contact with over 95 offices and presented employees with the opportunity to receive immediate answers to their records management questions.  Additionally, a “How Can We Help You?” survey distributed during these visits provided valuable feedback on how campus employees manage their records and what additional training is needed.  It appears that the program is having a positive impact on campus based on these survey participants’ comments.

“… super helpful answering all my questions so we can purge old files.”

“training was very helpful. I know we have to keep these records, but it really helps to know the reasoning behind it. And what can happen if records are not kept.”

Interested in learning more about NKU’s Records & Information Management Program? Please visit us at or contact Vicki Cooper, Records and Information Manager,

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Pass the Word

Check out our guest post “Gambling, Prostitution and Collusion! Oh my!” about crime and civic reform in Newport during the 1950s and 1960s on Pass the Word’s blog at Complete the Pass the Word Challenge accompanying the post for a prize!

Pass the Word is an online discovery tool for oral history collections throughout the state of Kentucky. It makes oral history interviews easy to locate because it serves as a centralized database for collections available at over 100 Kentucky archives. Pass the Word is a project of the Kentucky Oral History Commission located at

Special Collections has contributed information for interviews from the H. Lew Wallace Newport History Collection ( We look forward to adding information about our other oral history collections on the Pass the Word discovery tool soon!

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NEH Grant Provides Free “Security in the Archives” Workshop to Tri-State

Steely Library’s Eva G. Farris Special Collections and Schlachter University Archives was recently awarded its second National Endowment for the Humanities Preservation Assistance Grant. This grant will bring an archival security specialist, Ms. Mimi Bowling, to NKU to conduct a security assessment of the Special Collections and Archives division.

For the last twenty years Ms. Bowling has co-presented a workshop on archival security nationally. She is a founding member of the Society of American Archivist’s Security Roundtable. Prior to establishing her consulting practice in 2004, she was Curator of Manuscripts at the New York Public Library for twelve years. She also worked at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University, and the National Park Service and was involved in the prosecution of archival theft cases at both places.

Thanks to the NEH funding, on Thursday May 16, 2013, Steely Library will offer a free half day workshop on security for archival collections. Taught by Ms. Bowling, this workshop is open to archivists, librarians and staff or volunteers of cultural heritage institutions throughout the region.

The workshop qualifies for two (2) Archival Recertification Credits through the Academy of Certified Archivists.”

Attendees are asked to register online at by May 14th. For questions, contact Lois Hamill, University Archivist and grant director,

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Archives hosts primary source workshop for teachers

What is a primary source? What questions can be used to analyze primary sources? How can students learn about the historical record from primary sources?

These are just a few of tharchivists led workshop participants through exercisee questions we explored in a recent Using Primary Sources in the Classroom workshop with local teachers. State and national education standards require students to use and interpret primary sources. Archives, as the major type of repository for this material, play a key role in helping teachers and students meet these goals.

The workshop, led by Lois Hamill, University Archivist, and Anne Ryckbost, Manuscript Processor, engaged teachers in hands-on activities analyzing Civil War-era documents and photographs using inquiry-based methods. The teachers learned how to guide a primary document through the steps of observation, reflection, and questioning to examine historical themes, events, and people.

Throughout the workshop, the teachers enthusiastically shared ideas and strategies for incorporating primary sources into their curriculum. The room buzzed with excitement when the teachers looked at original materials including a letter from a Civil War soldier to his wife (Cyrus Reasoner Civil War collection link), a carte de visite of confederate general E. Kirby Smith, and general orders from Camp Dennison in Cincinnati.

If you are interested in using primary sources from Special Collections to enrich your curriculum, please contact Anne Ryckbost at or Lois Hamill at

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In with the New: Recent Acquisitions in Special Collections and Archives exhibit opens

Visit the archives research room in Steely Library room 106 to get a sneak peak at new archival collections in our latest exhibit In with the New: Recent Acquisitions in Special Collections and Archives.

This exhibit takes visitors through the process of acquiring unique archival material and highlights four newly-received collections. These rich collections include art, papers, artifacts, and photographs that document a variety of themes in northern Kentucky history. The exhibit highlights the papers of Della Lewis Jones, a local African American educator; the art and family papers of Charles J. McLaughlin, an area artist and architect; research and manuscripts from Theodore H.H. Harris; and marketing materials from Louis Trauth Dairy.

The exhibit is open to the public from 1-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday in room 106 on the first floor of Steely Library. For directions and parking information, please visit For questions about the exhibit, contact Anne Ryckbost at

McLaughlin in Bruges, Belgium in 1925.

McLaughlin in Bruges, Belgium in 1925.

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