James Farmer Lectures Group


James Farmer was a Civil Rights leader and founder of the Congress of Racial Equality, who taught at Mary Washington College (now University of Mary Washington) from 1984 to 1998. Thirteen reflection lectures were filmed by a local news channel WNVT-TV Channel 53. Under the guidance of Dr. Jeffrey McClurken in the University of Mary Washington Adventures in Digital History 2012 seminar Laura Donahue, Michelle Martz, Kelsey Matthews, and Caitlin Murphy will be constructing a digital archive for the James Farmer Lectures.

As of today, WNVT-TV is dissolved and belongs to a larger media conglomerate based out of Washington DC. Carolyn Parsons, from UMW Special Collections, is looking into the correspondence between UMW and the WNVT-TV for the dates lectures were filmed and the copyright information. We are missing videos of the first four lectures, which Carolyn Parsons is also searching for in the archives. Since WNVT-TV have signed over the copyright to the University of Mary Washington, it is unlikely that they will be able to help locate missing lectures. These are the lectures that we will edit, upload, transcribe, and summarize for a digital archives website.


Section I – Mission Statement

With this project, our goal is to create an archival website focusing on the lectures of James Farmer. While we will likely incorporate an ‘About James Farmer’ section of our website, our aim is to create a project that fully presents the recorded lectures we have of James Farmer. We wish to present Farmer in his own words, so we will be presenting the footage of the lectures in full as well as presenting shorter clips of the videos that will show some of his most important reflections.


Section II – Overall Structure


– WordPress Website-JamesFarmerLectures

– Providing audio of the lectures through SoundCloud

– Streaming of the video lectures – Looking into Vimeo

– Transcripts of the lectures – Kelsey has transcribed lectures 1-5, and she is currently working on 6-13

– Summaries of each lecture

-Clips of lectures- in order to make the website more accessible to a wider audience, we plan to create small clips of lectures and content we find most important and relevant to Farmer himself.

– Video Trailer – Once we upload all of the necessary audio and video of James Farmer’s 13 lectures, we want to create our own as a means of attracting viewers and promoting our lectures.


Lecture Audio Stats

Lecture 1: 25:05

Lecture 2: 24:50

Lecture 3: 27:40

Lecture 4: 27:15

Lecture 5: 27:39

Lecture 6: 23:27

Lecture 7: 25:36

Lecture 8: 26:52

Lecture 9: 24:45

Lecture 10: 24:45

Lecture 11: 27:50

Lecture 12: 25:40

Lecture 13: 31:35

Collectively: 5 hours 42 minutes 59 seconds



Section III – Tools and Preparatory Work

The tools we plan to use include:

iMovie and Adobe Premiere- We will use these tools to help us edit and clean up the video footage we have of Farmer. Additionally, these tools will help in the creation of the trailer.

Vimeo- Pending permission from the site, we plan to upload the videos to Vimeo and use it to host the lectures directly on our site. In the case that permission is not given, we will either split the lectures into smaller sections and host through Youtube or another hosting site.

WordPress- Caitlin has already created a rough draft of a site on Word Press and we plan to use Word Press as the host of our digital archive on James Farmer’s thirteen “final reflections”. In the videos, the TV station refers to the videos as final reflections, although they appear to be given in a lecture type setting. From there we plan to figure out the best way to present the information, focusing on font types and color schemes, as well as how to organize the information we have.

Assorted Word Press Plugins- While we are not entirely certain that we will be using plug-ins, we will consider them after experimentation to see which plug-ins would best serve our purposes and our target audience.

SoundCloud-We plan to provide audio of the lectures through SoundCloud, making them accessible to a larger audience. Also, because of the small size of the audio files, it is possible that we will be able to host them directly on our website itself.

The preparatory work we have done includes:

Starting work on the transcripts

Research on Farmer

Listening and watching the lectures in order to gain a fuller understanding of both Farmer and the content. From this, we decided that a digital archive is the best way to present this information, as we want it to remain as true to Farmer’s own words as possible.

We have also been in communication with Tim O’Donnell as well as Jim Groom, who have provided us with information on the lectures as well as answering our seemingly unending questions. Both have also given us audio and the video of the currently digitized lectures. We all have audio files of the 13 lectures on our home computers and have also downloaded the videos of lectures 5 to 13 to the computer in the Digital Media Lab via hard drive transfer


Section IV – Division  of Labor

We will divide our project into four major sections:

1) Manager of the Website – Laura Donahue will be in charge of running the website. She will make aesthetic decisions in regards to website layout and design, and will be in charge of organizing the videos, text, and audio sent to them in an easily search-able way. She will be writing our about page, etc, as well as proofreading the transcribers work.

2) Video Editor – Caitlin Murphy and Michelle Martz will be editing/managing existing James Farmer lecture videos; they will be linking video and audio, trying to clean up the digitized video, and helping uploading video to hosting website. Finally, they will edit a special highlights trailer together. This trailer will introduce the viewer to the website and present interesting sections of the lectures.

3)Transcriber – Kelsey Matthews will be transcribing the audio for all of the lectures, which will be posted on the website. She will also help the Video Editors upload video to our video hosting service, and will manage and upload the audio to Sound Cloud.


These positions are variable and subject to change based on time required for each position. Should it prove necessary, anyone who has finished or has less work than anyone else will help complete the other tasks assigned so as to increase our likelihood of success.   


Section V- Special Challenges

Special Challenges we face include:

1) iTunes U: While the school has an iTunes U account, the server that hosts it is apparently down and may not be fixed until the end of the semester.

2) Vimeo Video Hosting: Because we have the copyright signed over to us, it is still unclear whether Vimeo can be used as a host or not. As of now, we are planning to upload to Vimeo. However, we will keep copies of all files uploaded to Vimeo in case there are problems later with hosting there. This way, the videos can be uploaded to a different hosting site as needed.

3) The Missing Videos: We are missing the video for lectures 1 to 4. They are not located in the Mary Washington Archives, and it is unclear where they are being kept at this time. We do however have the audio for those lectures.

a) If we find the content, it is possible we still might not be able to do anything with it. The tapes are apparently in very poor condition, and would most likely need to be professionally digitized, which would require funding.

4) Poor Quality of Video: Many of the videos that are digitized are of poor quality, as a result of the poor condition of the VHS tapes the videos were initially stored on. Several videos have tracking issues (“tracking” appears at the bottom of the screen), have audio quality issues, and often are extremely pixelated and/or are slightly discolored. The challenge we face here is whether or not the footage is bad enough quality that it needs to be re-digitized. If it is in such bad shape that re-digitization is necessary, that raises a number of other questions – will be possible to try to re-digitize the content ourselves, or will that need to be outsourced? If it needs to be outsourced, that would require funding.


Section VI- Milestones

Friday, February 17:

Revision of Group Contract due.


Thursday, February 23:

First presentation of progress to the class; 10-15 minutes in length.


Video – Begin looking through and video and assessing the quality of the footage we have.


Transcription number five completed.


Thursday, March 1:

Short presentation on progress to the class; 3-5 minutes in length.


Friday, March 2:

Video – Full assessment done of the videos and audios we have. This will help determine which videos, specifically, might need to be re-digitized.


Monday, March 12:

Transcription- All transcripts will be rough drafted and the peer review process will start.


Website – create a functioning, detailed skeleton of the website, with a focus on appearance, organization, and tags.


Text Website Rough Draft- Summaries, About Page, Acknowledgments, Copyright


Video – Begin uploading video, and (if necessary) begin re-digitizing existing, poor quality footage.


Thursday, March 15:

10-15 minute progress report to the class.


Friday, March 19:

Video – all video will be uploaded (barring any unexpected issues with Vimeo or copyright)


Thursday, March 22:

Short, 3-5 minute quick update to the class on the status of our project.


Thursday, March 29:

10-15 minute progress report given in class.


Friday, March 30:

Transcription – the transcripts will be finalized and converted into PDF files to allow the audience to download and view the transcripts, according to their needs.


If we determine that video needs to be re-digitized, and that we are capable of doing that re-digitization, all re-digitization must be finished by this date.


All short story clips will be posted online, and will begin to be integrated into the website itself.


Thursday, April 5:

3-5 minute short progress report on our website.


Thursday, April 12:

Finished Trailer, uploaded to youtube.


Progress presentation to the class; 10-15 minutes in length.


Final Look Over – Check Website for last minute fixes.


Tuesday, April 16:

Send Complete Project to Professor McClurken for review before the final due date.


Thursday, April 19:

Short presentation in class about the end product of our website


Tuesday, April 24 – Final Project due

One thought on “James Farmer Lectures Group

  1. Pingback: Defending my Contract | Michelle Martz's Digital History 2012 Blog

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