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New Flier for Scholars. More Content in the Catholic News Archive

A link to the new flier, A Fully-searchable open digital repository of historical Catholic news, is on the home page of the Catholic Newspapers Program. Scroll down to find the link to this downloadable, printable flier. This flier was distributed to attendees at the American Catholic Historical Association 2019 Annual Meeting in Chicago. Following a brief description, the focus is on what scholars, librarians and archivists say about their interests and use of Catholic newspapers.

Please share the flier with colleagues. And, use it in promotion to faculty and students, especially those engaged in historical research on a broad range of disciplines and topics such as school desegregation, peace, health care, and the Second Vatican Council. Content includes:

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When Did American Catholics Start Asking to Keep Christ in Christmas?

When Did American Catholics Start Asking to Keep Christ in Christmas?

While the concept to keep Christ in Christmas is not an exclusively Catholic theme it was interesting to discover by using the Catholic News Archive when the slogan started being promoted in earnest by Catholics in the United States. It seems it became a rallying cry after the Second World War. The National Catholic Welfare Conference News Service was the source that was later to become known as Catholic News Service Newsfeeds. They record in December 1949 an editorial entitled “Unholy Fraud” had caught widespread attention. 

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Beginners' Bad Luck with EAD

As a former beginner myself, I recognize that the desire to produce EAD finding aids does not immediately result in their production. Among the members of CRRA, the more prosperous institutions can support computer systems that automatically generate EAD. But even these systems require an understanding of archival theory and how it might be maintained in a way congenial to machines. And other members of CRRA have the more difficult task of producing EAD without sophisticated equipment and IT support.

CRRA developed the EAD Template to help those who have no easy way to produce valid finding aids. While it tries to make EAD as easy as possible, beginners may still have bad luck with it. When I attended the Rare Book School EAD course at the University of Virginia in 1999, I had already produced hundreds of EAD finding aids. Daniel Pitti, the teacher of the course, offered helpful criticism and mentioned several mistaken ways of thinking that he had found among beginners. When CRRA members started using the EAD Template, I found one of these typical mistakes cropping up.

Archivists preserve filing systems that grow organically as routine activities generate records. The context of a document has evidential value; the whole filing system provides evidence about how an organization or individual conducted business, and therefore evidence of values, crises, attacks, defense mechanisms, unexpected events, daily life. Descriptions of such filing systems need to represent the organic form faithfully in all of its meaningful structure and peculiar quirkiness. Since filing systems generally have a hierarchical form, finding aids must also allow for components that contain other components that may contain other components -- boxes within boxes within boxes, or files within files within files.

Thanks to our familiarity with common filing systems on computers, we should have no trouble with this concept. Typically graphical displays of the contents of a hard drive show pictures of folders, and inside them other folders, and after a number of these eventually the individual computer files. One can generally also choose to view the same structure as an outline representing this structure in a slightly different way.

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CRRA Update Summer 2015

CRRA Update
Summer 2015
(June, July, August)
please see the PDF for
the more visually rich version

In this issue:

Preview the Updated CRRA Website - Thursday, Nov. 8 at noon (eastern)

Max Tolomei and I cordially invite you to attend a sneak preview of the updated and soon-to-be-releasted CRRA website. Max and I have been working to move the CRRA website’s content into the open source content management system, Concrete5, and re-evaluating the organization and function of the website as a whole. Using Concrete5 will bring our site into the 21st century, making it possible to dynamically update content, and allowing members to easily collaborate and share project information in a variety of ways.

Before taking the site "live," we seek your input into how the site works for you and how it might be improved.

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CRRA Update March 2012

CRRA UPDATE March 2012

Happy Spring!

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Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center (PAHRC) records

Just less than 1,100 records from the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center (PAHRC) have been added to the "Portal" --

Content from the University of Dayton

Twenty-nine records from the Archives at the University of Dayton added to the "Catholic Portal" --

"Advancing Catholic Scholarship" Symposium at Duquesne Nov. 9-10


The registration deadline for this CRRA/Duquesne sponsored event is this Friday, October 15, 2011.  We are pleased that many of you have already registered for the event and if you have thought about registering, please do so now.  There is no fee to register.

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Archdiocese of Chicago

Last week a number of us visited the archives of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and I went away thoroughly impressed. Fireproof walls and doors. Systematic digitization. The implementation of retention policies. The papers of cardinals, rows and rows of baptismal records, and even the transcripts of school children. Very professional. Large. Seemingly well-equipped. Knowledgable staff. The are taking their responsibility seriously.

Progress with statistics reporting

Progress is being made when it comes to "Catholic Portal" VuFind statistics reporting.

Yesterday I broke down and re-wrote my log file import application. Instead of parsing the log, ingesting the results, and then post processing, I re-wrote the application so it does all of this in one pass. I also enhanced the program so it could take command line input. Specifically, if no arguments are supplied, then it will import yesterday's log data. Otherwise it expects two inputs: 1) a beginning date, and 2) an ending date. If given these inputs, then I can drop the entire database and re-create it almost effortlessly. The script is called, and it is now running under cron so the database gets updated daily.

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Advancing Catholic Scholarship: A Symposium at Duquesne [call for posters, details]

Dear CRRA Colleagues,

We are pleased to invite you, members of your staff, students and faculty at your institution to a symposium to be held November 9-10, 2011 at Duquesne University. Invited Catholic scholars and librarians will discuss the “state of the art” of Catholic scholarship, directions that scholarship is headed, and how libraries, archives, and member organizations support and nurture future Catholic scholars and scholarship.

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CRRA May/June 2011 Update

The May/June 2011 CRRA Update is now available at:

In this issue you will find news items regarding:

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Goals for 2011/2012 draft

At our March 30 All-members meeting in Philadelphia , we will take a look at where we've been and where we are going.  The strategic draft plan:  Goals for 2011/2012 will guide our discussion.  You can have a sneak preview here:


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Join virtually the "CRRA/ND Digital Humanities Forum" Thursday Feb. 24

Dear CRRA members and friends,

Are you interested in learning more about Catholic digital scholarship and innovations in text mining and visualization to facilitate knowledge discovery within the Catholic portal?  Please join us virtually or in person this Thursday, Feb. 24 from 1:00 to 5:00 pm EST (noon Central, 10am Pacific).  For event details, see

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Visitors' Info - February Digital Humanities Forum

Visitor Information

February 24-25, 2011 ND/CRRA Digital Humanities Forum

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Really simple movies

I have created a set of really simple movies demonstrating the features and functions of the "Catholic Portal" -- Enjoy!?

CRRA in San Diego

This is a simple annotated list of links used as an outline for a presentation to the CRRA in San Diego:

  1. CRRA website - The good ol' look & feel but wrapped around new content and functionality. ("Thank you, Eric Frierson!")
  2. Web 2.0 - All the Web 2.0 links (cite this, email this, favorite this) that did not work previously now function correctly.
  3. EAD viewer - It is now possible to view EAD files locally or from the originating institution.
  4. Item-level indexing - The content of EAD files is indexed at the item level making for finer-grained searching.
  5. PDF display - Records linking to digitized versions of books now enable a person to get the full text. Examples include content from the St. Michael's and the University of Notre Dame
  6. Text mining - After extracting the full text from the PDF documents, it is possible to apply concordancing techniques to the full text for analysis.
  7. Automated updating - The "Portal" can be updated automatically by harvesting metadata from member institutions, massaging it for the Portal, and re-indexing it on a regular basis.
  8. Use statistics - Rudimentary Web server log file analysis as well as Google Analytics reports illustrate how the Portal is being used.
  9. Blog - A running commentary on what's happening with Portal development.

Blogpost about CRRA - DePaul Univ Law Library

CRRA is getting some press ...  DePaul University Rinn Law Library for their recent blogpost “Catholic Research Resources Alliance Helps Locate Canon Law Titles”

DePaul is the CRRA's newest member and we welcome and thank you!

Catholic Portal look & feel

Thanks to the good work done by Eric Frierson of St. Edwards University, the "sandbox" of "Catholic Portal" now sports the look & feel of our public view:

screen shot

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