News from the Archives
Charles Babbage Institute
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Outreach and Instruction
Once again, the Fall semester has brought students to the CBI Archives. The Social Issues in Computing Collection continues to attract an increasing number of researchers and classes. Two large sections of students came to CBI from the HST course “Ethics in Science and Technology.” Their goal was to examine both positive and negative perspectives on automation in the 20th century, and broader social anxieties in regards to computing. Students looked at materials from the Social Issues collection, as well as materials from the National Bureau of Standards, the Control Data Corporation Records, and the Edmund Berkeley Papers. The Control Data and Berkeley collections also provided key resources for a different class examining computing in the Cold War. Additionally, a group of Honors students from a class called “The Future” are investigating matters of gender, faith, and artificial intelligence.


The enthusiasm demonstrated by instructors and students over these topics and the materials CBI has collected to support their research is exciting. I have been able to spend some time investigating them myself and made presentations to other audiences this fall. CBI was the first unit in the University Libraries Department of Archives and Special Collections to present in the 2014-2015 First Fridays series. This year’s theme is “Contested Spaces: Power in the Archives.” My presentation was titled, “No Singular Expression: Hidden Diversity in the History of Computing.” In it I looked at computing, the history of computing, and archives that document the history of computing as three distinct but connected spaces where some communities receive greater representation and exert greater control than others. I was also able to further explore 20th century controversies over automation in a paper entitled, “Debates on Automation in the 20th Century: Interpreting New Sources at CBI,” at the 2014 SHOT SIGCIS workshop.


These opportunities to present to students and other communities are all contributing to a larger research and writing project I have embarked on, inspired by the Social Issues collection. In order to concentrate on this work I will be taking a leave of absence for three months this winter, January through March.


Ian Lewenstein returns to CBI as Archives Assistant
CBI is fortunate to welcome back to the fold Ian Lewenstein as the Archives Assistant for a six-month assignment. Ian started his latest position in October 2014 and will be with CBI through March 2015. Some of you may have worked with Ian before. He was a student assistant during his undergraduate career at the University of Minnesota. When he graduated in May 2013 we were able to keep him on through the summer for the completion of a special collection management project. Ian brings to his current position a great deal of experience working with CBI’s collections and an academic background in history. If you get an opportunity to visit CBI or have occasion to call on our reference services from your home state or country, I know that you will be in good hands with Ian supporting your research.

R. Arvid Nelsen

 


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