Hacienda del Sol shelter

Raised in Appalachian West Virginia, and inspired by her mother’s belief in the power of education, Nancy Baker rose above the roots of poverty and into an academic career. Dr. Baker earned a PhD from Tulane University in 1989, joined New Mexico State University that same year, and authored numerous scholarly works about law and government in the United States, including two non-fiction titles on the office of U.S. Attorney General –– Conflicting Loyalties: Law and Politics in the Attorney General’s Office, 1789-1990, and General Ashcroft: Attorney at War. A Professor Emeritus with multiple academic honors, including two national teaching awards, Dr. Baker is a recipient of the Westhafer Award for Excellence in Teaching. 

Dr. Baker helped establish “Hacienda del Sol,” a shelter for women and children located on the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope campus. Although the non-profit organization struggled financially and eventually closed in 2006, its history remains an important blueprint of the competing demands necessary to fund and maintain the day-to-day operational growth of homeless shelter services. 

A 2004 Internet Archive post from MVCH’s then homepage shares Hacienda del Sol’s mission statement, which read:

Assist families and women to become stable and self-sufficient by providing housing, support and guidance in a positive environment that promotes lasting change.

In support of higher education for non-traditional women, Dr. Baker created the “Over the Rainbow” scholarship, a Spring-Board fund with Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico. In 2015, to increase awareness and outreach efforts for those experiencing homelessness, Dr. Baker became a Development Committee member with the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope. 

Now a retired Mystery novelist writing under the name N.V. Baker, the book Vanished was published in 2016.

Dr. Baker concludes the following highlight clip with thoughtful insight about unsheltered men in Las Cruces, and the eventual creation of Camp Hope.



Narrator Nancy Baker

Hope Stories 05 –– 1h 35m duration. Recorded 15 June 2018 at NMSU Public History Seminar Room, Breland Hall 258.

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History Notes

Branigan Cultural Center in Downtown Las Cruces, New Mexico

Branigan Cultural Center presents History Notes Thursdays at 1 pm.  The museum is located at 501 North Main Street in Downtown Las Cruces, New Mexico.

In introduction of Hope Stories, on September 13th, 2018, my History Notes talk and dialogue encourages thoughtful consideration of charity in Las Cruces, and the origins of today’s Mesilla Valley Community of Hope.

Like all History Notes events, Branigan Cultural Center entrance is free.

Hope Stories History Notes pdf Poster

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Las Vegas, Nevada’s CARE Complex

Glenn Trowbridge was born in St. Albans, West Virginia, and lived in Las Vegas, Nevada for over forty years. With service in the United States Air Force, study in psychology at San Diego State University and business administration at National University, Trowbridge became director of human resources in Clark County, Nevada from 1979 to 2001.

Trowbridge worked for a domestic violence non-profit organization called Safe Nest, served as Republican member of the Nevada Assembly from 2014 to 2016, and later became volunteer executive director of the north Las Vegas CARE Complex.

Originally an unsanctioned “Street feeder” program –– today discouraged and considered an unwelcome distinction of well-intentioned “Do-gooders” –– a group of advocates evolved their agenda, raised funds to purchase an abandoned drug house, and renovated the building into the Crisis Assistance Relief Effort or CARE Complex. Resources for those experiencing homelessness include a clothing closet, internet access computers, lockers to store belongings, a city bus-pass program, and services to re-establish important birth certificate and driver’s license identification documents. 

In 2017, the City of Las Vegas approved the “Corridor of Hope” project on Foremaster Lane and North Las Vegas Boulevard, located within immediate area of CARE Complex and other homeless services. 

With an intentional consolidated service area similar to Mesilla Valley Community of Hope, and modeled after San Antonio, Texas’ “Haven for Hope,” the “Courtyard” outreach approach seeks to create greater access to temporary housing, medical care, counseling, legal aid, and employment resources in conjunction with CARE Complex services.



Narrator Glenn Trowbridge

Hope Stories 04 –– 1h 36m duration. Recorded 19 April 2018 at the CARE Complex, 200 Foremaster Lane, Las Vegas, Nevada.

CARE Complex entrance; photo by Mat Ellis

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Saint Luke’s Health Clinic

 James Sassak was born in Pontiac, Michigan, moved to Las Cruces in 1986, and later attended college in Orlando, Florida. Sassak returned to Las Cruces after a 2011 winter storm known as the “Deep Freeze” threatened health conditions for both housed and unhoused people of the region.

With organizational support to help establish Camp Hope on Mesilla Valley Community of Hope Campus, and recover from personal experiences of homelessness, Sassak eventually became a Peer Support Specialist with Saint Luke’s Health Clinic. Peer Support Specialists work to strengthen relationships of trust by connecting Hope Campus clients to relevant resources, programs, and caseworkers.

An advocate for military veterans, Sassak and others proposed that mobile, rent-to-own “Tiny Homes” be built to increase shelter options for homeless veterans. To promote awareness, the Las Cruces Veteran’s Theater Foundation produced stage plays about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), drug and alcohol abuse recovery programs, and the destigmatization of being identified as “Homeless.”

With Sassak’s help, the Veteran’s Theater addressed the problem of illegal “Spice,” a deadly synthetic marijuana substance sometimes made available to minors through distribution by underground smoke shops.

In addition to Jail Diversion or “Homeless Court” programs on the Hope Campus, Sassak advocates for the consolidated services model to increase coordinated communications between the criminal justice system and City of Las Cruces resources, hospitals, and non-profit organizations working in unison to provide help.

Saint Luke’s Health Clinic, now called Amador Health Center, supports the core mission values of Compassion, Accountability, Respect, Excellence, and Service.



Narrator James Sassak

Hope Stories 03 –– 1h 42m duration. Recorded 29 March 2018 at Jardin de Los Niños La Paz Room on the Hope Campus.

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Jardin de Los Niños

Audrey Hardman-Hartley was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, raised in El Paso, Texas and Hilo, Hawaii, and returned to Las Cruces to attend New Mexico State University.

Twenty six years after completing a master’s degree, and following a career in the medical field, Hardman-Hartley again returned to NMSU to study Early Childhood Education and serve as Executive Director of Jardin de Los Niños from 2014-2018. A lifelong volunteer who has committed time to the board of directors for Las Cruces Public School and March of Dimes, Hardman-Hartley also fundraised for Camino de Vida Center for HIV Services’ events.

Recipient of the 2018 John Paul Taylor Social Justice Award, in this interview Hardman-Hartley advocates for children’s literacy through the Dogs Who Read program, the practice of therapeutic intervention developmental screening at Jardin de Los Niños, and increased need for Early Childhood Education in New Mexico. 

To outline 2018 health and human service resources available to children aged eighteen and under on Mesilla Valley Community of Hope campus, Hardman-Hartley speaks about collaboration with Amador Health Center to open a pediatric clinic located at Jardin de Los Niños. Because best practices that concern young children remain stringent and subjected to continuous oversight from the State of New Mexico, the level of security at Jardin de Los Niños allows for respite and calmness unlike other spaces on the Hope campus.

While many people may be surprised that children are present in this setting, Jardin de Los Niños provides a vital function to parents and children experiencing homeless by allowing the time, space, and appropriate resources to recover from family hardships unseen by most.



Narrator Audrey Hardman-Hartley

Hope Stories 02 –– 1h 37m duration. Recorded 9 March 2018 at Jardin de Los Niños La Paz Room on the Hope Campus.

Jardin Front
Jardin de Los Niños on the Hope Campus

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The Great Conversation

Randy Harris was born on Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington, studied history, social science, and communication, and worked in agriculture, media, energy conservation, and entrepreneurial creativity.

In 2010, Harris engaged Las Cruces citizens to participate in a series of civil and informed community dialogues called The Great Conversation. To focus on the homeless situation happening on-the-ground prior to City of Las Cruces legally sanctioned overnight camping, Mesilla Valley Community of Hope (MVCH) asked Harris to coordinate and facilitate The Great Conversation with those experiencing homelessness.

A way to negotiate the needs of the homeless community through respectful dialog, and to make available timely opportunities to access local services, MVCH clients, and residents living temporarily at Camp Hope, meet to discuss a range of topics such as transitional housing programs, on-site options for healthcare, and reliable sources of food. Each Tuesday morning at 10 o’clock, The Great Conversation begins with an orientation session for those new to Camp Hope, a MVCH staff attended exchange of information and discussion about the progress of individuals seeking permanent housing opportunities.

In this March 2nd, 2018 interview, Harris spoke about 2011 origins of Camp Hope on the Hope campus, the importance of community dialogue to support collaborative problem-solving, and approaches to limiting short-term symptoms and long-term causes of homelessness. Since 2010, The Great Conversation has hosted approximately 1,500 dialogues in the Las Cruces community.



Narrator Randy Harris

Hope Stories 01 –– 1h 30m duration. Recorded 2 March 2018 at Jardin de Los Niños La Paz Room on the Hope Campus.  

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Research Questions –– Public History

Can the American home and workplace become sensible, inclusive, and accessible to human beings without recourse from bad credit, zombie debt, and the historical threat of cyclical individual and familia poverty?

How do individuals, small groups, and municipal organizations apply ethical methods and means to synthesize public health resource?

How can communities creatively approach legibility and self awareness campaigns to make available services more viable, and thereby increase access to localized healthcare?

Can sustainable living arrangements between individual citizens and city, county, and state support systems address New Mexico’s current and future needs?

In conjunction with the importance of self-care, vital mental health corridors of crisis intervention, and resources for domestic violence –– can individual cities in New Mexico overcome the historical distinction of the fiftieth poorest state through coordinated approaches to sustainable health care?

Can New Mexicans feed, clothe, and house those experiencing poverty, homelessness, and hunger in both rural and urban environments?

The American workplace, with the home as nearby as possible, cries out for reasonable and sustainable functions of livability.  Clear and commonplace human-systems understanding may help more people without over-stressing service providers.  More easily accessed safety corridors of healthcare services, longterm housing assistance programs, and beneficial employer relationships with educational opportunities work toward maintaining equitable prosperity.

What benefits can community gardens offer to home-owners, renters, and the homeless?

Can homes be constructed with communal labor, supplies, and sustainable maintenance into the future?

How does mental health and wellbeing play a role in attaining sufficient workforce income to pay for a home or a monthly rent payment?

Is homelessness dependent on the circumstances of the individuals and their families, or due in part to the conditions of the state?

How does the Consolidated Services Model help transition clients toward opportunities of housing, healthcare, and food security?

Finally, what causes and symptoms create poverty, homelessness, and hunger in New Mexico, and does state social services provide for the needs of both rural and urban New Mexicans?

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Hope Stories Narrator Questions

Sunset from White Sands National Park

Questions design general outlines and intentions for the Hope Stories project, a working guideline to consider how a single interview might progress.

The Hope Stories Questions list seeks rapport with potential narrators, greater access of memory recall, and to prepare for the day of the interview. Individual questions change with each narrator’s background, field of specialization, and according to the personal story each narrator chooses to share. Suggested subjects, personal events, and specific questions for conversation are always encouraged.

For more information about working together, and developing questions for the story you would most like to tell, Contact me by phone or email.    

All recordings begin with a short introduction which details interview location, date, and anyone who may be present other than the narrator and the interviewer. In addition to the digital-file name of the recording, the interview begins when the narrator states:

Full name
Location considered hometown 
Current role or recent advocacy at Mesilla Valley Community of Hope


Will you share a story about growing up

Where did you go to school –– What career did you imagine for yourself

Talk about highlights of your personal biography before Mesilla Valley Community of Hope –– Education, Travel, Business, Volunteerism

Talk about the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope and Doña Ana County services that matter most to your work

Hope Stories

What is your perspective on finding and keeping long-term employment in Las Cruces

How did you first experience what today is commonly called a “tent-city” or “homeless youth” or “soup-kitchen” or “health clinic” or “food pantry”

Discuss differences between sanctioned and unsanctioned tent-cities

How can community support help or hinder success for the homeless

Talk about the benefits of transitional housing programs like Tents-to-Rents––            Complications

Discuss some of the challenges of maintaining health when experiencing homelessness

Which clinical services and healthcare programs help the homeless to access food and shelter

Hope New Mexico

Tell me about services and resources outside Camp Hope that work –– those that do not

How do access services to public housing differ throughout the State of New Mexico and the City of Las Cruces

What is your knowledge of poverty and hunger in rural areas of the state

Have you worked with Community of Hope clients from New Mexico Colonias

What is your knowledge about New Mexico’s transition between the traditional federal Food Stamp Program and today’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

In your experience, have programs like New Mexico’s use of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) helped avoid homelessness

Hope Work

How do City, State or Federal funding programs play a role in your work

Can you talk about specific city or state institutional challenges of helping people who are living at Camp Hope

Discuss some of the challenges of maintaining health when experiencing homelessness

Which clinical services and healthcare access programs help the homeless access food and shelter

Are soup kitchens vital to the homeless community

Hope Care

In your own daily and weekly routine, what methods of self-care work best

What programs are you aware of that help to alleviate the stress that can occur for those working to help the homeless

Are there employer, city, or state systems which support your healthcare

Do you have a retirement program as part of your work

Hope Future

Do future programs show promise to help the homeless in Las Cruces

Name three of the most valuable contributions or levels of support, not present today, that would help the homeless in Las Cruces immediately

How do you envision the future of the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope

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Mesilla Valley Community of Hope Stories

Doña Ana County New Mexico

This project explores human rights, access to services, and city resources as seen through the experiences of staff, community advocates, and city officials at Mesilla Valley Community of Hope (MVCH).  The New Mexico State University Public History based project seeks to document those who have worked to mitigate community issues including yet not limited to:

  • Poverty
  • Homelessness
  • Child Hunger
  • Public Health

My intention as interviewer at Mesilla Valley Community of Hope:

To collect oral history interviews of MVCH staff, advocates, and city officials who have contributed to the ongoing success of the community. Interviews are limited to 120 minutes, held in agreed upon and pre-scheduled settings, and voluntary.

To participate in the project, all potential narrators must be a current MVCH staff member or volunteer, or an approved community advocate whose work has directly contributed to the success of the five collaborating organizations located on the

Hope Campus:

Should time permit, MVCH contributing sponsors may be considered for short, 30 minute or less interviews outlining participation to the community.

Additional interviews may be considered for other contributing organizations in the area, such as the Las Cruces Gospel Rescue Mission and the NMSU Aggie Cupboard; however, the core of the project’s focus highlights the Hope Campus.

As a potential narrator, please review the following declaration of research documents which includes the required Informed Consent signature pages. A specific set of potential interviewee questions will be made available soon.

Please contact David Lee with any questions, thoughts, or comments.

Thank you for your kindness and patience in consideration of the Hope Stories project.

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Podcasts ‘R’ Us?

Podcasts pose challenges beyond the historical applications of analog oral history methodology.  Pre-interview etiquette, in-depth narrator research, closely monitored sound recording levels and interviewing techniques all continue to be valuable skills of born-digital oral history collection; however, as the Oral History in the Liberal Arts website points out: Choosing a Digital Tool to Visualize, Oraganize, and Publish Interview Collections is an important consideration at all stages of project development.  As every seasoned sound editor knows from too little planning too late: the sooner the better.

Douglas Boyd’s Survey of Oral History Podcasts —like most things Dr. Boyd has endeavored to share on the internet — is an invaluable link for those under the impression that widespread podcasting use has passed its prime on the internet.

It should be clear that both professional and amateur historians have access to the tools of podcasting.  As we progress into the future of New Mexico, like many other states, remember that such access is often dependent on digital literacy and Wi-Fi availability initiatives in rural and underserved areas.  It should not be a surprise that not everyone under the sun has access to the internet.  To learn more about broadband internet service in New Mexico, check out the New Mexico Broadband Map from the Office of Broadband & Geospatial Initiatives. 

Rising legions of storytellers, such as Humans of New York, continue to redefine oral history as a medium of the people.  Closer to home, Humans of New Mexico follows this lead with its own brand of community based public history.

Regardless my own lone-wolf tendencies, Oral History, like podcasting, truly works best from a collaborative, interdisciplinary, and open source approach.  It is crucial to credit everyone involved on a project, and especially to remember that positive workflow is contagious to future success.

Another insight: keep in mind that your own success may influence others to adopt certain aspects of your work— this is a good thing.  Use your workflow magic, or lose it.

Workflow is one of the most challenging aspects of collection and preservation of oral history recordings.  In order to develop a connection intended audiences, consider and plan how to display your interviews for others to listen to online.

One last note in time for America’s most contested holiday of privileged class leisure, the Story Corps Great Thanksgiving Listen explores oral history and podcasting on a macro level experience.  Despite recent reports of sound and production worker unionization after complaints of inadequate compensation, it is difficult to criticize Story Corps without recognizing its potential to democratize public history access, and to show how everyday people can record and document their own story.

Regardless postproduction funding and community support,  everyone should have access to oral history, podcasting, and storytelling from the heart.

Good Luck!

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NMSU Summer Archive Internship

Los Poblanos Open Space, September 2014

In the archive, avoid to-do “which” lists that include any list of chores, errands, or projects that cannot be processed by real human beings.  In the archive, and its companion library system, any number of misfortune, pitfall, or researcher led ghost-chase jeopardizes archivists who cannot work collaboratively to solve problems.  Simply — in the university archive — too many projects risk disaster without clear staff communication.

The lonely call of the shoestring budget; ever-dreaded project pushback hype (don’t believe it); monsoon season water leakage across your beloved collections’ corners; lost processing time and unforeseen side-projects; low, absent, even nonexistent staff morale across the institution: such mechanisms limit human health and conducive productivity (forget project production) and further risks academically fabricated curmudgeons of the house repository variety.

The worst-of-all list includes poorly communicated objectives and a lack of basic operational instructions. Avoid neglectful guidance practices for work-study employees, ambiguous internship tasks and goals, and generalized absences of diversified staff character and the project engagements important to the archive.  Does your university archive TO-DO list extend well into the future? Of course it does! We are archivists.

In the archive, today’s professionals debate, negotiate, and press forward to define what archival and collection management practices mean and, likewise, how the community responds.  Does your archive suffer unreasonably from a staffing, funding, or identity slump — ask yourself: how does the community support or hinder the workflow whereby the archive hopes to collect and organize itself.

Do your archive holdings generate a local or regional memory, perhaps a single geographic area, cultural perspective or favorite folklore inquiry such as Billy the Kid?  Who currently uses the archive, and why should researchers and patrons be interested in the collection of materials behind your research room walls?

These questions, and more, depend on the archivist’s message and methodologies shown through good policy, and met with staff driven information about the resources and materials available for research room display.  What holdings draw-on and share historic value for the community?

How can the archive relate to the present day, and whose story does the archive tell, and why, where, what, when, and who described these stories?  If these questions are not obvious: hire a library and archives public relations contractor immediately.

What more!  Where does the archive display itself: the front room, the first floor library display case, the swap-meet or versatile yet cumbersome pop-up storyboard-on-tour?  Francis Blouin reminds us that “historians usually come to the archive intending to tell a story or substantiate an interpretation.” Like it or not, the present day archive belongs to the user seeking information about the contents of a collection believed to be relevant.  That said, like the library, there are policies which archive users must follow in order to heighten their own respectful research experience.

Does your archive provide a clear message and accessible points of reference which help researchers to this outcome of success?  If the answer is no, your archive has problems.

        territory of the Summer archives

In the archive — of my perspective — the need for processing of accessioned material thrives when balanced between human labor, work-time, and the community’s desire to use research rooms vigorously, numerously, and responsibly.

The New Mexico State University Archives, located at Branson Library, holds the Rio Grande Historical Collection (RGHC) with public access on the 4th floor at the Caroline E. Stras Research Room, open Monday through Friday 9 AM – 4 PM during regular Fall and Spring semester.

A July 2017 article in the Las Cruces Bulletin details NMSU Archives department head Dennis Daily’s outreach and collaboration with “10 other historical repositories … to highlight the work they do to preserve local history and culture.”  NMSU Archives houses local memory through the Amador Family papers, the New Mexico Irrigation information, and New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, to name only a few.

The RGHC Information File features annotated description of these holdings while the RGHC Subject Index provides alphabetical listing of collection content.  The NMSU Library Digital Collections allow students and community patrons online access to past university activities, historical photographs and publications, in addition to helpful library guides which present sometimes distinctive, sometimes interconnected, histories of NMSU status as a Land Grant University.

The opportunity of the archives internship helped form many new projects, and further serves to codify much of my past archival experience. For example, collaboration with university staff during collection workflow and applied box and folder level processing techniques — digital management of audio recorded material especially — which, in turn, drives my fascination for collecting and describing the objects and intellectual property of the past and present.

My intention is to work with archivists within the field, and to make oral history collections, curations, and well preserved born-digital sound narratives.

This effort includes Public History and patron awareness of the archive as a place much more than a repository of papers, historical media formats, and ancestral community objects.  I believe explicitly that the function of the university archive should be to provide physical and digital open-access, well preserved records and papers, and Special Collection displays representative of NMSU students, staff, and alumni, and especially the widely diverse Las Cruces and southern New Mexico communities.

        processing + accessioning

This summer’s internship projects combined traditional categories of archival processing with slightly more modern enterprises of audio-tape to digital-conversion of oral history interviews.  The accessioned Aubrey L. Dunn Papers seek folder level description.  The Herman B. Weisner Papers comprise, in part, oral histories recorded on reel-to-reel tape, converted to audio tape, and now carefully converted a final time to WAV file format.

Dunn Papers processing will result in a finding aid in Rocky Mountain Online Archive (RMOA).  My primary task includes a short review of each box, and a ten-to-twenty word description of each folder.  This information is then entered into an old fashioned (hopefully soon retired) Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to await further review.  Data is then edited into what Archives Space calls, rather than a Finding Aid, a Resource Record.

A guidebook to my work, the Beinecke Processing Manual chaperones all levels of the archival process.  Likewise, Archives Space is soon capable of uploading a newer RMOA website, a promising development to bring collaborative, problem solving joy to librarians and archivists once NMSU Library user database migrate early in 2018.  An Archives Space webinar calls the process a “model in transition,” which quests to deliver higher patron access, and student engagement with NMSU libraries, archives, and special collections.

With a sure foot in both worlds, NMSU Library Specialist Jennifer Chavez introduced Archives Space, a web application for archives Information Management Systems (IMS) which seeks to categorize collection holdings.  As RMOA updates its online presence, Archives Space fills the gap between the physical past and digital present.  Its origins with the Archivists Toolkit, and container (box) management philosophy supported through Lyrasis, Archives Space holds the current title of preferred software for the next generation of archivists.  An obvious reason for this clear support: attention to Describing Archives Content Standard (DACS) and the claim of capable content migration from classic format standards such as EAD, EAC, MARCXML, MODS, and Dublin Core.

By offering to provide a macro appraisal of NMSU holdings, Jennifer works with Archives Space to migrate already existing collection data into Primo, the NMSU Library’s new user database.  These tools and collaborations, and more, are sure to be a part of my student employee position this fall semester in the archive.

         into the future archives

Present technologies do not remove the work (our energy-consumed human labor) necessary to provide physical access to the items available in the collection.  A noticeable difference between Dunn and Weisner collections ― because the Dunn Papers are currently accessioned without a linkable finding aid, the Weisner Papers present a good example of the future Archives Space resource record.

The purpose of a finding aid, according to the Society for American Archivists, is to create a records’ description for best practice activities and to promote “physical and intellectual control over the materials [and] assist users to gain access to and understand the materials.”  Without a finding aid or resource record, how will your patrons discover the archive collection?

Since NMSU archives seek to maintain a digitized workflow for analog cassette tapes to the digital WAV format, the opportunity exists to learn more about processes which rescue sound materials from technical obsolescence, the audio slave’s dreaded result of outdated media losing the ability to be recovered due to damage, missing status, or a lack of technological means for digitization to take place.  For instance, without a workable reel-to-reel player, audio holdings risk oblivion should they not be attended to by archives’ staff or, alternatively, outsourced to expensive private vendors.

A helpful guide to understanding this process, The Digitization of Audio Tapes – Technical Bulletin No. 30 (link now broken) detailed numerous potential by which analog and digital incompatibility complicated recovery of antiquated recordings.  Here at NMSU archives, and with help from campus Instructional Media Services (IMS – a local campus acronym), Herman Weisner reel-to-reel tapes may soon be available thanks to the initiative to develop workflow conversion methods and future practice.

My 2017-2018 internship works with archive materials through the above established traditional methods i.e. box processing and audio file preservation, yet also in a closely knit schedule (Thursday recordings) of oral history throughout New Mexico.

Especially important to me, a Las Cruces community project to identify and record the people and organizations who advocate for those experiencing poverty, homelessness, and hunger in New Mexico.

Now a full year of writing, researching, and preparing to voice the project to the community, Fall & Spring presents the opportunity to begin the initial recordings of narrator Historias and Narratives of New Mexico.

As I conclude my Summer Internship, and continue my experience as a part-time employee, a few questions about NMSU archival practice remain; namely, available documentation of current processing guidelines, such as More Product, Less Processing (MPLP), and archives’ staff interest to survey itself about institutional practices and university archives policy.

In light of changing technology, another important insight to research further: archives recommendations to accession born-digital audio recordings into the collection.  For instance, should oral historians solicit NMSU archives to house digital files, what criteria need occur for a successful project to unfold?

From earlier this Summer at a NMSU archives sponsored workshop: does the archive plan to implement WESTPAS, a disaster recovery network of archivists and library professionals who seek to limit the disaster and recovery impacts of natural and manmade damage to archival materials?  Perhaps establishing a communication network of “first to call” documents, or even a helpful Lib Guide, could help to prevent future threat to the physical integrity of NMSU and Branson library collections.

These ideas, and many more in mind, Fall semester guarantees processing engagement, archival scholarship, and — in the archive — the welcomed pace of Las Cruces

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Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS)

The Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) allows historians to display recorded spoken narrative alongside accompanied transcribed material on a single webpage. Many of the steps necessary to complete this process involve a moderate degree of digital literacy; however, patience and careful study of program requirements has the potential to develop a general understanding for novice computer users.  The goal of OHMS should be clear to all users: to create greater access and insight to oral history practice currently in-use over the internet.

My enthusiasm to learn, to use, and to help others create access to synchronized recordings online, emerged from the desire to innovate necessary oral history interviewing skills combined with active post-production of a single recording from start to finish.  The field of oral history continues to advance, and gain new practitioners, thanks in part to born-digital technical capabilities.  Upgrades to technology and independent tool-kit contents does not change best practice standards by which each historian is obliged to consider as ethical framework.  On the contrary, it is my belief that technical hardware and software programs, including OHMS, should never be a distraction to narrators during or after the recording process. In a few words: an interviewer’s technical workflow need not include the narrator.

All practitioners of oral history collection should be familiar with the many steps necessary to conduct a single interview.  In projects which call for a great number of narrators to contribute, a demand for exceptional individual knowledge and applicable start to finish processes is recommended.  At the homepage, OHMS provides an abundance of tutorials, trainings, and documentations on how to use the software, making a small workshop format possible for future classroom use.

A helpful OHMS FAQ page covers basic beginning information need, the OHMS application itself, and the resulting OHMS viewer.  Through established workflow collaborations, and independent practitioner approach to post-production display, projects seeking to offer synchronized oral history transcripts online can benefit from OHMS.

For many, OHMS may appear to be a novelty of the internet’s market for shared content. This view ignores the multitude of open-access capabilities that future historians will surely incorporate into their own practice.  That said, interviewers risk a limited potential of their work’s meaning should they choose to rely on the work of post-production in terms of someone else’s responsibility.  OHMS clearly supports the revitalized interest of oral history through today’s digital humanities community and, likewise, should not sidetrack historians from a solid best practice methodology.

With this in mind, I would classify OHMS as a promising response to the needs of today’s historians, anthropologists, even journalists, who interview, record, and research using oral history narratives.  Like many disciplines which require such involved processes, as mentioned, careful study and knowledgeable practice can help to mitigate obstacles and produce results for projects big and small.

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Posted in Las Cruces, Sound

Painting Winter

While listening to music from the room next door, Painter Enrique Harrison talks about moving to Cedro, New Mexico in 1981. A life long artist, Enrique shares a story about gathering wood and water in wintery Tijeras canyon, mud plastering the oldest house in Cedro, and painting retablos by kerosene lamp and candle light during cold winters.

Recorded at Albuquerque 25 November 2015 in the artist’s studio.

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Alabama Grove

Narrator Margaret Pool speaks about Pleasant Grove, Alabama school fairs and musicals during the Fall and Summer, family football and listening-in via transistor radio, and travel throughout the United States, including Knoxville, Tennessee seeking wild blueberry in the Great Smoky Mountains.

A visual artist, collector of postcards, and an avid reader, Margaret shares memories of the stresses of academia, reading literature late-night, and watching home movie theater outdoors with grandparents.


Recorded at Albuquerque 13 October 2015 ABC Special Collections Library.

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Posted in Albuquerque

NMSU Public History

January 2017 begins anew with a Public History master’s program at New Mexico State University located in Las Cruces.  My accepted admission Statement of Purpose outlines my initiative to record, catalog, and present narrative research on Poverty, Homelessness, and Child Hunger in New Mexico borderlands.

Founded in 1983, the Public History department at New Mexico State houses many potential avenues of research, including a revisit since my time at CF&I Archives to the Rocky Mountain Online Archive.

The Public History Library Guide links browsers to resources such as Las Vegas, Nevada based: Southwest Oral History Association.

At NMSU, a 1997 project called Preserving Community/Cuentos del Varrio (an Oral History Manual) taught oral history methods to alternative teaching and learning teens at Gadsden High’s Panther Achievement Center (PAC). The result features rural New Mexico heritage narrative recordings that helped students to learn history of the United States to foster open dialog and collective memory of southern New Mexico and West Texas communities.

Information about this direction will update here at the NMSU Record blogroll, created to feature highlight clips of narrators who research, make connections, and work to alleviate New Mexico’s cycle of poverty, homelessness, and child hunger.

Potential collaborators who are available in Las Cruces and on the New Mexico State University campus are welcome to contact me.

At this time, I hope to begin seeking potential narrators March 2017.


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Posted in Las Cruces
Las Cruces 2018
David Lee

David Lee

creates public history sound recordings, seeks reasonable workflow, and dreams of longterm digital preservation.

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