Last summer, I had the opportunity to create a collection on the Internet Archive for the George Brown College Archives to provide online access to recently digitized college newsletters, student newspapers, annual reports, yearbooks, and images. I had been interested in creating a collection on the Internet Archive for a while, so this was a great learning opportunity for me. The Internet Archive does not have the most straight forward directions on how to upload content and create collections. This presented a challenge for me when starting the collection. I decided to produced a guide to using the Internet Archive to assist future contributors to the George Brown College Archives Collection and to provide a reference for myself when developing the collection. See below for this guide.

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As I have previously mentioned, I am currently researching, analyzing, and annotating documents for ALPHA Education’s Digital Archive Project as a volunteer. For this project, I was asked to discuss the content and broader historical context of each document.  Annotations are also expected to connect documents to APLHA Education’s mission, which is to foster awareness of Asia’s World War II history to further the values of justice, reconciliation, and peace. The following is a copy of my annotation for a declassified Biological Warfare (BW) Report written 28 June 1945 that investigates the Japanese use of BW in Changteh, Hunan Province, China. The attack, which took place on 4 November 1941, occurred when a low flying Japanese bomber plane dropped plague infected grains of rice and particles under the veil of heavy fog.  This document was declassified by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on 14 August 2009.

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“Once it’s on the internet, it’s there forever.” That is the popular sentiment. But what happens when web data has been altered or deleted, how do we access the original data? Recently, there was public outcry in response to the removal of several pages from the official White House website by the Trump administration. Pages on LGBTQ, civil rights, and climate changes were removed within moments of President Trump’s inauguration. This erasure was particularly alarming for many people because it indicated the new administration’s sentiment towards minorities and the environment. Many people also believed these pages were perminately deleted and its data could never be accessed again. However, these web pages were in fact migrated to an archived version of Obama’s administration website.  Even though the web data was migrated, its swift removal from the White House website reminded me that valuable information can easily be removed from public access. As users have the ability to alter and delete web data, data itself is rather fragile and transient.

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I recently started volunteering for an educational non-governmental organization (NGO) called ALPHA Education. ALPHA Education works to promote awareness of the events of World War II in Asia to foster reconciliation, dialogue, and cross-cultural understanding. In part, this is achieved through providing educational resources and lesson guides that can be used by teachers and students. To add to these resources, ALPHA Education recently launched their Digital Archive Project to transcribe and digitize a large collection of primary sources related to World War II atrocities in Asia. These sources take the form of documentary images, videos, official correspondences, interrogations, and personal testimonies. As a volunteer for this project, I have been tasked with researching, contextualizing, and annotating primary sources in the collection. This will serve as a general summary for the digital collection, which will provide an educational resource for individuals investigating the experiences of civilians, soldiers, and prisoners of war in World War II in Asia.

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I am currently volunteering for the Multicultural History Society of Ontario (MHSO) as an archival assistant. The MHSO archives is currently going through their collection to create in depth archival descriptions to provide researchers with a broader selection of keywords when searching for areas of interest. As a volunteer, I was asked to asist in the development of archival descriptions by summarizing collections of ethnic publications in microfilm, which will then be used as the basis of for their final discriptions. I was instructed to arrange each summary into subject matters ranging from political events and notable people, to cultural events and religions. As of now, I have summarized the African Speaks and Black Liberation News publications which were dated between the 1960s-1970s. As these publications were directed towards the African Canadian community, I was interested in going through them to see how important events and individuals were being discussed within the Black community at that time.

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Increasingly, historical documents and resources are being digitized, making massive amounts of data available online. In turn, this historical data has become an important source for public historians and researchers looking to uncover historical narratives and voices. Crowdsourcing labour is an important means for public historians and institutions to effectively produce access to historical data online. Crowdsourcing, which can be defined as  an “online, distributed problem-solving and production model,” is a way for institutions and public historians to harness the collective knowledge of online communities to serve specific project goals. Among many successful crowdsourcing projects, Wikipedia demonstrates what collaborative knowledge can accomplish. As Jason A. Heppler and Gabriel K. Wolfenstein explained, Wikipedia is a platform where “the project leaders are providing the space, but it is the community which defines both scope and content.”

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This summer, I was fortunate enough to volunteer for the Bytown Museum in their collections department. There, I was tasked with numbering and transcribing a collection of 600 post cards which were sent as correspondence between the Lockmasters of the Rideau Canal locks, and the Superintending Engineer of the Rideau Canal Office in Ottawa. These post cards, which were dated from 1879 to 1963, provided valuable insight into the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the Rideau Canal locks. As the city of Ottawa relied on these locks for settlement and economic development during this time, the Lockmasters focused their correspondence on highlighting their lock station’s suitability for navigation.

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Wget is a Tool for Downloading Internet Sources

The purpose of this Programming Historian Exercise was to help me get a sense of how to use wget to download a specific set of files, and how to download internet sources by creating a mirror of an entire website. For this exercise I decided to complete the section: “Step Two: Learning about the Structure of Wget – Downloading a Specific Set of Files.” In this exercise I ran wget through the command line to download the papers located in the active history website under the “features” tab. I was introduced to a series of useful commands for wget:

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