About the AAEC Editorial Cartoon Digital Collection
| Image Capture & Standards
| Descriptive Data
& Access Issues
The AAEC Editorial Cartoon Digital Collection project will
result in the creation of an Internet-accessible, fully searchable database
of digitized versions of original editorial artworks by more than 300 artists
from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The cartoons date from 1782 to
1980, though the bulk of the collection was created since 1960. In executing
this effort, The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries seek to: 1)
enhance access to primary source material, 2) preserve original materials
by creating digital surrogates, and 3) create learning opportunities for remote
For researchers and students, editorial cartoons
provide a caricature of social and political thought in the past. Cartoons
survive as an art form and as journalism. They present educators with engaging
and effective instructional resources. As a part of its Editorial Cartoon
Collection, the University Libraries hold more than 6,500 examples of this
format. Originally prepared for newspapers, magazines, and in some cases television,
the cartoons address a spectrum of topics ranging from presidential elections
to high school sports. The collection presents artistic commentary on the
Civil Rights Movement, Watergate, and the Vietnam War. Some of the artwork
reflects changes in American social and political attitudes. A pro-segregation
cartoon from the early 1960s, for example, depicts a civil rights worker peering
from behind bars that spell out "white power." Other cartoons seem almost
timeless, lampooning government bureaucracy, taxes, and political corruption.
Since the fall of 2000, USM Libraries Special Collections has been working
to make their editorial cartoon collection available online. Approximately
600 cartoons have now been digitized and will soon be available through this
Website and USM Libraries' Digital Media Archive.
Image Capture & Standards
Digital Lab staff is using a professional-quality camera to capture the
images for this project. It is a single-lens reflex Nikon D1 with a 17-35mm
Nikkor lens (f/2.8), and a 2.74 megapixel CCD (36-bit). The camera is set
up on a microfilming stand adapted for this use and attached directly to a
500 mHz Pentium III computer with a firewire cable.
Two sets of images result from the digitization process. Though the primary
goal of the Lab is to provide electronic access to records, an off-line master
set of images is created in anticipation of future needs and changing standards.
The cartoon masters are captured in 24-bit color at 600 dpi. They are saved
in uncompressed TIF file format, the industry standard. The access images,
derived from the masters, are 24-bit JPEG compressed images, 72 dpi.
The Dublin Core metadata standard is used for digitization projects. The metadata
describes the various characteristics of each file, including its format,
source from which the image was derived, relation to other sources, and rights
management information. The metadata identifies each file's size, type, compression,
and resolution. It includes user-searchable characteristics such as creator
and subjects covered.
The Special Collections Digital Lab will employ the Hyperion Digital Media
Archive product by Sirsi Corporation as the database software for file management,
searching, and browsing. The database will be Internet accessible to a worldwide
Staff will make decisions regarding long-term storage of digital files with
an understanding that no electronic media currently available presents an
ideal solution; none can be considered of "archival quality." As a result,
they will communicate awareness that there is a need for a continuing schedule
of reformatting to new media as the old becomes obsolete or otherwise endangered.
USM will employ optical disks to store the archival masters of digital items
and magnetic drives to store the much smaller access-quality derivatives.
For the source material itself, the imaging process is an opportunity to evaluate
collections regarding traditional, physical preservation needs.
Ownership and Access Issues
In addressing ownership and access issues, the Lab incorporates a multi-layered
approach to rights management. Each descriptive record includes rights management
metadata. The digital archive presents its derivative access images in a lower-resolution
view quality, insufficient for print reproduction for publication. The Lab
will provide copies of master images only upon special request.
Avoiding technological methods that restrict user access to primary source
material, the project participants have implemented a process which includes
identifying potential copyright holders, opening a channel of communication
with affected individuals, and providing contextual information. The process
is as follows:
1. An annotated list of rights holders was created.
2. Using Internet and other reference sources, as many of these
individuals as possible were located.
3. Rights holders were contacted, offered information about
the project, and asked for permission to include materials under specific
4. A copyright statement is attached to each item in the digital
archive to inform users and discourage infringement.
5. Names of remaining individuals will be posted to the Web
site. The list will be accompanied by a statement requesting that they contact
the project coordinator.
6. If any individuals with a valid copyright or privacy claim
object to the digital provision of access to their materials, the materials
will be removed from the Web site.