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Preview archive materials related to Wallace’s posthumous novel “The Pale King”

By Alicia Dietrich

Cover of 'The Pale King' by David Foster Wallace
Cover of 'The Pale King' by David Foster Wallace
A digital preview of archive materials relating to David Foster Wallace’s posthumous novel The Pale King is now live on the Ransom Center’s website. The preview, a collaboration between the Center and publisher Little, Brown and Company, includes a series of drafts of the “Author’s Foreword,” which eventually became chapter nine of The Pale King. Michael Pietsch, Wallace’s longtime editor, provides context about the pages and elaborates on the publication of the novel.

In 2010, the Ransom Center acquired and made accessible Wallace’s archive. The archive contains manuscript materials for Wallace’s books, stories and essays, research materials, Wallace’s college and graduate school writings, juvenilia, including poems, stories and letters, teaching materials, and books. Materials for The Pale King are included in the archive but will remain with Little, Brown and Company until after the book’s publication.

On Thursday, April 15, the Ransom Center celebrates the release of The Pale King with readings from the novel by Kevin Brockmeier, Doug Dorst, Amelia Gray, and Jake Silverstein. The program will be webcast live at 7 p.m. CST.

Photo Friday

By Jennifer Tisdale

Each Friday, the Ransom Center shares photos from throughout the week that highlight a range of activities and collection holdings. We hope you enjoy these photos that reveal some of the everyday happenings at the Center.

Under Pressure Screen Printing creates custom t-shirts for members with images from the Ransom Center windows.  Photo by Pete Smith.
Under Pressure Screen Printing creates custom t-shirts for members with images from the Ransom Center windows. Photo by Pete Smith.
Members explore the 'Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century' exhibition at Wednesday’s New Member Open House. Photo by Pete Smith.
Members explore the 'Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century' exhibition at Wednesday’s New Member Open House. Photo by Pete Smith.
Ransom Center staff shared copies of David Foster Wallace's 'Infinite Jest' during its '60 Books in 60 Minutes.' Photo by Pete Smith.
Ransom Center staff shared copies of David Foster Wallace's 'Infinite Jest' during its '60 Books in 60 Minutes.' Photo by Pete Smith.
Some of the students and general public who responded to '60 Books in 60 Minutes.' Photo by Pete Smith.
Some of the students and general public who responded to '60 Books in 60 Minutes.' Photo by Pete Smith.
Meagan Samuelsen, a volunteer with costumes and personal effects, looks at John Fowles’s writing desk, complete with its contents. The desk will remain on display for at least the next two years in the Ransom Center’s Reading and Viewing Room. Photo by Pete Smith.
Meagan Samuelsen, a volunteer with costumes and personal effects, looks at John Fowles’s writing desk, complete with its contents. The desk will remain on display for at least the next two years in the Ransom Center’s Reading and Viewing Room. Photo by Pete Smith.

Final report published as part of Mellon-funded project on computer forensics and born-digital cultural heritage

By Gabriela Redwine

The report 'Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections' was recently published by the Council on Library and Information Resources
The report 'Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections' was recently published by the Council on Library and Information Resources

Computer storage media have begun to arrive in archival collections with increasing frequency over the last 20 years. Approximately 50 of the Ransom Center’s holdings contain floppy disks, CDs, or personal computers. Faced with the daunting task of capturing files from these media and making them available to researchers, archivists have begun to investigate fields such as computer science, engineering, and computer forensics for advances that may facilitate this work.

The Ransom Center recently participated in a Mellon-funded project, led by Matthew Kirschenbaum at the University of Maryland, designed to explore the convergences between computer forensics and the preservation of born-digital cultural heritage materials. Ransom Center archivist Gabriela Redwine and Richard Ovenden, associate director and keeper of special collections at the Bodleian Libraries, served as collaborators on the project, which the Library of Congress named one of the “Top 10 Digital Preservation Developments of 2010.” The resulting report, Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections, was recently published by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). In 2011, the Society of American Archivists recognized the report with a Preservation Publication Award Special Commendation.

Digital Forensics is the first publication of this length to present computer forensics to the archives and library communities. Building on the pioneering work of Jeremy Leighton John at the British Library, the report examines the relevance of forensic techniques and methodologies to archivists, curators, and others engaged in the collection and preservation of born-digital cultural heritage materials. The report considers challenges related to legacy formats, the authenticity of files, and data recovery; explores the ethical implications of implementing forensic techniques as part of an archival workflow; and concludes with recommendations and next steps. Side bars by an international group of practitioners and scholars cover topics such as diplomatics and donor agreements, offer a sample forensic workflow, provide case studies from the Bodleian and Stanford libraries, and describe “Rosetta” machines of particular use in capturing born-digital materials. Detailed appendices provide contact, pricing, and specifications information for open source and commercial forensics hardware and software.

The authors solicited feedback about an earlier draft of the report at a May 2010 symposium organized around the same topic, which brought together practitioners from archives and libraries, scholars from the humanities and computer science, and computer forensic experts from government and industry.

Photo Friday

By Jennifer Tisdale

Each Friday, the Ransom Center shares photos from throughout the week that highlight a range of activities and collection holdings. We hope you enjoy these photos that reveal some of the everyday happenings at the Center.

Inkyung Youm, a third-year graduate conservation intern at the School of Information at The University of Texas at Austin, measures the pH of an alkaline water bath for a fragmented circus poster from the Ransom Center’s performing arts collection. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Inkyung Youm, a third-year graduate conservation intern at the School of Information at The University of Texas at Austin, measures the pH of an alkaline water bath for a fragmented circus poster from the Ransom Center’s performing arts collection. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Junior Isaac Benavidez, an English major and student worker at the Ransom Center, assembles archival boxes for collection storage. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Junior Isaac Benavidez, an English major and student worker at the Ransom Center, assembles archival boxes for collection storage. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Government and German major Caren Garcia, a second year student working in the Ransom Center’s archives and visual materials cataloging department, assists with processing the Clancy Sigal papers. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Government and German major Caren Garcia, a second year student working in the Ransom Center’s archives and visual materials cataloging department, assists with processing the Clancy Sigal papers. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Photographer Anthony Maddaloni shoots an image of a plaster maquette of a bust of W. E. B. DuBois. Photo by Pete Smith.
Photographer Anthony Maddaloni shoots an image of a plaster maquette of a bust of W. E. B. DuBois. Photo by Pete Smith.
Albert Palacios, assistant to the curator of film, and Elizabeth Salazar, film collection volunteer, inspect an incoming collection of audio tapes of radio dramas from the 1950's and 60's. Photo by Pete Smith.
Albert Palacios, assistant to the curator of film, and Elizabeth Salazar, film collection volunteer, inspect an incoming collection of audio tapes of radio dramas from the 1950's and 60's. Photo by Pete Smith.