A new virtual exhibition of items from University Libraries Special Collections and University Archives related to Cathy O’Neil’s book Weapons of Math Destruction is now available. In her book, O’Neil presents arguments for how algorithms increasingly control critical functions in our lives and the danger of increasing our dependence on these flawed algorithms. While much of the material in Special Collections and University Archives cannot speak to the issues with present day algorithms, what these collections can help us understand are the “historical data sets” that drive our cultural implicit biases and shape the algorithms we encounter everyday. These items allow us to explore the ways that bias has historically played a role in upholding inequitable systems. Explore material from our collection related to higher education, hiring and employment, credit, insurance, and advertising by visiting the new virtual exhibition Weapons of Math Destruction in the Archives.
Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction was selected as the 2020-2021 First Year Book.
Today is my 50th day at my parents’ house in South Carolina. It’s my 50th day away from my friends, classmates, professors, roommates, and coworkers; my fifth week of online classes and teleworking. What was once a drastic change of pace has become a new normal, but I still haven’t adjusted to my indoor, isolated, stressful lifestyle. Assignments are harder and harder to turn in on time. Work is slower, less inspiring. Reaching out to loved ones–more important to my mental health now than ever–is increasingly taxing.
“I try to be grateful everyday.”
I am in an extremely privileged position, all things considered, and I try to be grateful every day. I have a comfortable place to live, loving family members to interact with, enough food, a job, and fulfilling classwork. I have a plethora of craft supplies to keep me busy and creative. If I have all of this, why can’t I work at my usual pace? Why am I so tired? Why, after weeks of practice, am I still so bad at InDesign? Nearly all of my undergrad friends are facing similar challenges, but that doesn’t make it any easier to come to terms with my failure to adapt to this situation. I want to be motivated, so why do I prioritize tending to my lavender plant over my assigned reading?
We, too, have enjoyed countless hours of trying to get our favorite villagers, catching fish and bugs (and tarantula hunting), gathering materials, crafting, and building towards that ultimate rush of achieving a 5-star island.
As the nostalgia for campus and being surrounded by fellow Terps has hit us, we began experimenting with adding images that represent UMD to our islands.
Studying primary sources allows us to discover information about the past. A primary source might be anything from correspondence to photographs to newspapers and diaries. Primary sources are extremely useful not just for projects, but provide us a way to understand the history more deeply and personally from those that came before us.
When visitors come into the Maryland Room, they use primary sources to help with their research projects. Researchers pour over material, thinking criticallyabout what the material is and what answers it can provide. Critical thinking and inquiry are crucial tools when conducting a research project that involves archival material and primary sources.
These sophisticated research skills are being introduced to children earlier than ever. Case Maker is one of the tools educators can use to help middle school students begin to develop their critical thinking skills. Continue reading →
This blog post and its accompanying exhibit in the main lobby of McKeldin Library chronicle the ongoing student activism at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) to create a culture that actively works to prevent power-based violence and support survivors of sexual assault.
Though sexual assault was not part of the public discourse at UMD prior to the 1970s, examples from the 1950s and 1960s highlight how sexual assault and rape culture impacted student life. This Associated Women Students Revised Dress Code from 1968 highlights the way that women were seen as responsible for the treatment they received based on their personal appearance, and how accepted standards of behavior based on gender roles often reinforced and obscured rape culture. Strict limitations on women’s conduct and dress connect to an ideal of purity and serve to prevent women from having sexual contact before marriage. Women were often blamed for any unwanted contact if they did not abide by these codes. Ideas like these often reinforce the idea that rape is result of the behavior or appearance of the victim, rather than the actions of the perpetrator. It is also important to note that these stark distinctions between men and women can often erase the fact that a person of any gender can be sexually assaulted.
Last semester we received a request to develop a tour for students in MATH107. At first glance, this seemed like an unlikely fit for our education program. The instructor explained that her students were mostly arts, humanities, and social science majors and we quickly understood how this collaboration could be a great opportunity to reach out to these students.
I worked with the curators of our collections to identify material. Course topics included:
…data analysis, equations, systems of equations, inequalities, elementary linear programming, Venn diagrams, counting, basic probability, permutations, combinations, tree diagrams, standard normal and normal distributions…includes problem solving and decision making in economics, management, and social sciences.
Curators recommended a great deal of material that I had no idea existed within out stacks! This was truly a hidden collection.
Material fell into four thematic sets, including early books on mathematics, educational resources, workplace tools, and discussions of gender and mathematics. Explore the resources used for the class below and, no matter your topic, reach out to us to explore potential educational opportunities. You might be surprised what we can find related to your topics.
The University of Maryland Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives would like to invite you to join us for Afternoon Tea at our Annual Open House on October 15th between 2-4pm.
Special Collections and University Archives is home to a number of collections that capture the complex history of immigration to the United States. This year, we hope to engage in conversations with you about these objects and this history.
Driven by the passion of faculty, staff and students across University of Maryland’s schools and colleges, the Year of Immigration programming strives to increase awareness about immigration, global migration and refugees and to use that education to foster a more diverse and inclusive community.
To participate, drop by anytime during the event. We can’t wait to share a cup with you.
Special Collections & University Archives, in collaboration with the LGBT Equity Center, will be conducting short interviews and gathering stories that reflect on and share the experience of being LGBTQ+ on campus or in the community! These will be preserved and added to the University Archives. Interested in sharing yours?
The University of Maryland’s Special Collections & University Archives houses a particularly interesting and highly utilized acquisition in the Baltimore News American collection. Acquired 30 years ago when the News American stopped its presses for the last time, the collection contains subject and biographical photos used in the Baltimore News American family of newspapers from 1904 through 1986. The fully processed section of the collection spans close to 1600 boxes and over 660 linear feet. And that doesn’t even consider the oversize materials and extensive unprocessed boxes which bring the total number of images to possibly over 1.5 million. The numbers are certainly impressive, but you cannot get a scope for how big the collection is until you see entire walls in our archive stacks solely dedicated to the photographs.
Making this collection more accessible is the work of many hands, including volunteers and student employees. The work often begins by pulling a number of photos, organized in folders, from one of our unprocessed boxes. We collect information from both the folders and the images including the subject, first and last name, number of photos, and relevant dates [when the photographs were taken, or when the images were published in the newspaper]. All the while, the photos are moved into better, safer acid-free folders and boxes and entered into a database of processed images. Also, given the number of people who have processed this gargantuan collection, we take the time to proofread each other’s data entry work.