BU Digital Collections Curator Named DPLA Community Representative

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) homepage

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) homepage

We are excited to announce that Eric Ames, our Curator of Digital Collections, has been named to the second class of community representatives for the Digital Public Library of America! The DPLA announced the appointments on their blog today. Eric joins five other CR’s in the state of Texas and 200 others across the country as frontline representatives for the work being done by the DPLA.

The announcement was posted to the DPLA’s blog this morning, and we’re happy to pass along the word. You can find an interactive map listing all 200 CR’s by location on the DPLA site as well.

Eric Ames was appointed a community representative for DPLA on May 15, 2014.

Eric Ames was appointed a community representative for DPLA on May 15, 2014.

 

About the DPLA

The goal of the DPLA is to bring “different viewpoints, experiences, and collections together in a single platform and portal, providing open and coherent access to our society’s digitized cultural heritage.” Building on work done by groups like the Library of Congress, HathiTrust, and the Internet Archive, the DPLA works to bring the growing number of digital collections around the country into a single, unified search platform. Imagine being able to find thousands of results for a single word search – like Waco, for instance – drawn from multiple sources around the country, all in one place. That’s the power of the DPLA.

We’re still exploring all the ways which Baylor – and our own impressive Digital Collections – can help further the work of the DPLA. For now, we’re excited to see how Eric’s work as a CR will expose the DPLA’s work (and Baylor’s own materials) to the world.



Learn more about the DPLA at their website – http://dp.la.

Browning Day 2014

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The members of the Browning Letters Project gather for a tour of the RDC (from left): Roberta Rodriquez (BU), Anna Sander (Balliol, Ofxord), Ian Graham (Wellesley), Fiona Godber (Balliol), Darryl Stuhr (BU), Eric Ames (BU) and Allyson Riley (BU)

Several members of the DPG team were privileged to present at the Armstrong Browning Library’s annual Browning Day celebration this week. The event, held on Robert Browning’s birthday every year, celebrates the life, legacy and impact of the poet’s work and features receptions, guest speakers and more.

Assistant Director Darryl Stuhr and Curator of Digital Collections Eric Ames joined Ian Graham of Wellesley College and Anna Sander and Fiona Godber from Balliol College at Oxford (UK) to present an update on the Browning Letters Project. Longtime blog readers will remember that Baylor and Wellesley teamed up more than three years ago to bring a substantial collection of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s correspondence online via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections. Recently, we’ve been excited to welcome Balliol to the project. Their collection of letters will be digitized on-site in England and the digital files transmitted to Texas for inclusion in the project. This phase will take place over the next several months and represents the first international additions to the growing corpus of letters.

The team was also able to announced that the University of Texas at Austin will be added letters from their holdings to the project in the coming months as well, bringing the total number of project partners to five, with a combined collection totaling more than 5,000 letters between them.

Check out the photos of the event below and if you haven’t done so already, check out the Browning Letters Project today!

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Darryl Stuhr (click to enlarge)

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Darryl Stuhr

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Ian Graham

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Ian Graham

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Anna Sander and Fiona Godber

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Anna Sander and Fiona Godber

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Eric Ames

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Eric Ames

Frozen in Greenland, Celebrating in Green and Gold: WWII Hero Clint Best’s Baylor Ties

A B-17E Flying Fortress in flight, 1942. Image via Wikimedia, courtesy the U.S. Air Force.

 

If you were to flip to page 40 of the 1948 “Round Up” – Baylor’s annual yearbook – you’d find the entry for senior accounting major Alfred Clinton “Clint” Best. Aside from a notation that he was a member of Alpha Chi and hailed from Waco, you’d have no reason to guess the man with the avuncular face and slicked-down dark hair was a man who spent nearly five months trapped in the punishing landscape of a harsh Greenland winter after the B-17 he was riding in crashed while on a perilous rescue mission to save the crew of a downed military transport plane. His story of survival against very long odds has two happy endings: his physical survival and the achievement of graduating magna cum laude from Baylor University.

A McLennan County Boy’s Nightmare On The Ice Cap

On February 18, 1942, 25-year-old Clint best enlisted in the U.S. Army at Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia. He rose through the ranks to master sergeant in the Army Air Forces. He was stationed at a remote outpost in Greenland called Bluie West One when word came of a downed U.S. transport plane. A C-53 Skytrooper en route to Europe had crashed on the Greenland ice cap in snowstorm conditions, and volunteers were needed to aid in the search. Best volunteered and joined the crew of a B-17 so new it didn’t have a flashy nickname: it was still referred to by PN9E, its serial number.

During the rescue flight, the B-17 encountered dangerous flying conditions of its own and crashed onto the ice cap. All nine men aboard survived the initial crash, but over the course of the next five months, the men would endure the loss of fellow crew members, deprivations, punishing weather conditions and psychological torment few will ever experience, let alone survive.

The story of these heroes’ time on the ice – and the ensuing search for the remains of yet another downed aircraft related to the search for the C-53 – are detailed in Mitchell Zuckoff’s excellent book, Frozen In Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II. A gripping read from start to finish, it’s only in the closing pages of the epilogue that Best’s ties to Baylor are revealed.

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Best’s military photograph from Mitchell Zuckoff’s site for his book, “Frozen in Time”

 

A Hero Comes Home

The story of the downed B-17’s plight would make a minor splash in the worldwide press after the search and rescue mission was complete, but larger stories that broke during the latter years of the war would push it from the headlines. Like so many of his contemporaries at the close of hostilities, Best returned to his hometown and enrolled in Baylor University as an accounting major. He completed his coursework and walked the stage with the rest of the class of 1948.

Befitting his humble nature, it is difficult to find traces of Best in the digital collections materials related to his years at Baylor, aside from his photo in the 1948 yearbook as a member of Alpha Chi and finding his name in a list of Dean’s List honorees printed in the Lariat. Best apparently passed through Baylor without earning any press coverage for his experiences in the war. He went on to have a 35-year career at Dow Chemical and was active in his community. He died in 2002 and was buried in Waco’s Oakwood Cemetery.

 

Clint Best's entry from the 1948 "Round Up" entry

Clint Best’s entry from the 1948 “Round Up”

 

Headline from October 15, 1946 "Lariat" article listing Best as a Dean's List honoree

Headline from October 15, 1946 “Lariat” article listing Best as a Dean’s List honoree

 

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Article listing new inductees into Alpha Chi, from the February 18, 1948 “Lariat”

 

Best (circled) as part of the membership of Alpha Chi, 1948 "Round Up"

Best (circled) as part of the membership of Alpha Chi, 1948 “Round Up”

 

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Best’s grave marker at Oakwood Cemetery in Waco

 

To learn more about Best’s experiences in Greenland, check out Zuckoff’s Frozen In Time. It is an excellently written and researched account of the harrowing experiences these American heroes experienced during five months trapped in a frozen hellscape that one rescuer described as a “mother that eats its children.” Given the very low probability of surviving a single day, let alone hundreds, Best’s triumph and eventual graduation from Baylor is a story of epic proportions, and Zuckoff tells it extremely well.


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To order Zuckoff’s book, visit Amazon.com. Read a report on the Greenland rescues from the U.S. Coast Guard here.  See more digital collections at the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections site. Questions? Comments? Leave them below, or email digitalcollectionsinfo[at]baylor[dot]edu.