About the Digitization Process

Dr. Lindsey Passenger Wieck, Director of Graduate Public History, and librarian Jill J. Crane, worked with undergraduate and graduate students to digitize this archive in 2019-2020. Wieck, Crane, and Samantha (Shine) Trabucco created the digitization and metadata workflow. Glory Turnbull, Christopher Hohman, and Danielle Slaughter scanned all items in this collection using two CZUR book scanners, produced a database of the collection materials in Airtable, and generated metadata for each item. Antonio Coffee, Harold Johnson, Oscar Ortega, Gerardo Nino Pozos, Bianca-Rhae Jacquez, Claudia Sanchez, and others contributed to the metadata for this project.

Wieck added all items to DSpace, a digital repository tool, and then created a public-facing interface on Omeka-S that pulls all items from DSpace to display to the public. Wieck is seeking a place to publish the workflow and larger process used to digitize these materials to help others undertake projects of this scale while on a tight budget.

In structuring our metadata workflow, we catalogued names of people mentioned, a priority of our stakeholder, as well generating tags that highlighted key themes in this work. We also prioritized cataloguing cities and towns, geographical features like rivers, and businesses and organization that could allow later georeferencing. Using these metadata fields, along with the Omeka S module that turns metadata items into links,  makes it easy to search by location, person, or institution – an important feature because many people interested in this project are seeking histories of particular businesses, towns, or individuals. While trying to maintain a neutral stance as much as possible, the romanticization of Spanish conquest and the marginalization of Native and Hispanic peoples remained a recurring theme throughout the collection, and we tried to use topical keywords to acknowledge these themes when evident.

A recording of our OST Archive Launch that took place virtually on November 7, 2020.

We’ve also used this site to house several research projects undertaken by students and faculty. Two storymaps created by project lead Lindsey Wieck are housed here – the first maps a 1929 travelog, a type of brochure that mapped the route, providing information and advice to travelers, and the second considers how the OST romanticized Spanish heritage. Student Glory Turnbull produced a traveling exhibit that will engage the public in cities along the OST from Florida to California. Turnbull also produced a digital version of this exhibit, making it available on this site to ensure its accessibility. In addition, undergraduate and graduate students produced projects using the OST primary sources from the digitized archive to produce digital projects with St. Mary’s history professor Dr. Teresa Van Hoy, some of which will be added to the archive site over the coming months.

The digitization and interpretation of these resources will enable the integration of these primary sources in classrooms and support scholarly research for those interested in the development of auto tourism, highways, and the romanticization of Spanish heritage. The Old Spanish Trail 100 [OST 100], an organization formed in 2004 to recognize and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the OST, has been a key partner in this project, promoting our work and providing additional context in our initial research and metadata creation process.

We are grateful to the Council of Independent Colleges and the generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as the catalyst of this project. Thank you also to St. Mary's University, Humanities Texas, a Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans grant, and the St. Mary's Blume Library, SPARC, and Information Services for their support of this project.