Tuesday, January 02, 2001

UC puts art online

By Ben Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Alice M. Cornell and Linda D. Newman
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        Your term paper is due. Open the book. Find the assigned painting. Mark the good stuff in excerpts from the artist's letters and diaries.

        Take a few notes. Start writing.

        You know the drill.

        University of Cincinnati librarian Linda Newman has created software to ease those burdens by pulling together all of the historical source material and building a digital collection.

On-screen protection
               It brings materials to researchers, all in one place, and protects archive materials from repeated handling.

  www.ucdp.uc.edu or (888) 297-3799.
        Ms. Newman's software breakthrough, CUrator, features UC's collections of early 19th-century paintings of American Indians by George Catlin and James Otto Lewis.

        Hoping to make the prized images available without the risks associated with researchers repeatedly handling historic materials, Alice M. Cornell, UC's head archivist and editor in chief of the new UC Digital Press, chose George Catlin: The Printed Works as UC Digital Press' inaugural project.

        Catlin did more than 600 portraits and scenes of rituals, hunting and daily life from more than 50 tribes between 1830 and 1838, Ms. Cornell said.

        UC's CD-ROM set includes all of the images and text from his four major publications as well as lithographs and prints, publications, maps where Catlin painted, bibliographies, scholarly introductions and tutorials, — all on a two-CD set first released in 1998.

More on the way
               Since then, Ms. Newman has refined the software with CUrator to create a synergy of images and associated texts at the push of a button. UC Digital Press has reissued Catlin with CUrator, free to anyone who returns an earlier edition.

        The UC Digital Press has now published a second CD set, this one presenting a complete edition of James Otto Lewis.

        Ms. Cornell's next project involves a third UC collection of paintings of 19th-century Indians, McKenney & Hall's History of the Indian Tribes of North America: The First Issue.

        “We went to a lot of trouble to catalog the individual objects in an image,” Ms. Cornell said.

        For instance, if you ask CUrator about “pipes,” the computer screen fills with thumbnail images of every painting in which a pipe is pictured. Punch another button and CUrator flags references to pipes in the painters' writings.

        In the same way, CUrator will identify every painting of a given tribe or every one done at a certain place.


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