This is a pretend kicker

Digital library preserves, shares history, scholarly works

This is a pretend subhead (I would not use both a kicker and a subhead)

By Clara Cox, communications director for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

The Digital Library and Archives (DLA) at Virginia Tech is a consolidation of the University Libraries’ Scholarly Communications Project and Special Collections Department. For more than a dozen years, DLA has tested new forms of scholarly communications and digitized, preserved, and provided access to primary historical research materials.

Since 1995, DLA has collaborated with Digital Imaging to make historic and unique primary resources in Special Collections available online. DLA adapts to the changing landscape of the digital world and impacts the university’s intellectual life.

Grants have contributed to several advances in scholarly communications. For example, in 2004 the Library of Congress began supporting the MetaArchive of Southern Digital Culture with $1.4 million. This collaborative preservation initiative with five other southeastern research universities is part of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program.

In 2000, NEH awarded $250,000 to a collaborative effort including the University of Virginia and other statewide research libraries’ special collections. They established Virginia Heritage, an online database of detailed guides to unique primary source materials in their libraries.

Examples of archived images are the 1920’s VPI football player, the women with quilts from the Earl Palmer collection, and the Merrimac train from Col. Harry Temple’s collection. Palmer was a renowned photographer of Appalachian culture. Temple was a decorated veteran of World War II and the Korean War who researched and published the history of the cadet corps at Virginia Tech.

Visit The Digital Library and Archives at Virginia Tech.

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The legendary horses arrived with Columbus and Cortez. Columbus left his on the Caribbean islands. Cortez brought 32 to conquer Mexico, and these and later imports multiplied to thousands. In 1680, the Pueblo Indians revolted and stole the horses. From New Mexico, the horses were rapidly traded north. By the time Lewis and Clark headed west, the horse culture had advanced. “The Mandan villages on the Missouri River, where Lewis and Clark spent the winter, represented the largest metropolitan area in North America. It was trade and horses that made that possible,” says Sponenberg. “The explorers reported seeing horses with Spanish brands.”

The Spanish influence extended up to the Carolinas and all across the Gulf Coast, as well as throughout the West. “The Choctaws were one of the tribes displaced from Mississippi, and they took their livestock with them,” Sponenberg says.

In Oklahoma, he met Gilbert and Bertha Jones. “They lived in the mountains and saved a lot of the horses there and also had a lot of the Southwest bloodlines from when they lived in New Mexico.”

That began Sponenberg’s informal education on colonial Spanish horses. He stayed connected with the conservation efforts throughout his college career and after coming to Virginia Tech in 1981.

He has collaborated with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy since 1978, and with Iberian researchers since the early 1990s. Sponenberg developed strategies for saving rare breeds, and has published widely to document rare populations and how to save them.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) contacts him to identify Spanish-type horses in wild herds to help the bureau conserve the horses. The work has taken him to Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Arizona. His task has been to evaluate the overall conformation of the horses and to assure that good candidate populations follow up with detailed bloodtyping or DNA typing by colleague Gus Cothran at Texas A&M. They have never disagreed.

As a result, several new strains of horses have been added to the conservation effort. “Equally important, several strains have been excluded,” which also helps conserve the bloodlines, Sponenberg says.

Through the years, he has maintained friendships in Oklahoma, and as a result became owner of a Choctaw horse. In 1994, a stallion from southeast Oklahoma ended up in Giles County, which is a few miles down the road from Blacksburg. “He is a fairly short horse so the owner was going to geld him.”

Fortunately, the folks in Oklahoma heard about it first and called Sponenberg to save Icktinicki -- which is Omaha for “Spirit of a good joke.”

This image from the Digital Library is of a 1920s Virginia Tech football player. Note the lack of proper head protection back in the day. View the football photo at a larger size.

In this thumbnail photo, taken by renowned photographer Col. Somebody, women of Appalachia pose with their handmade quilts. You can view the complete photo at a larger size.

This thumbnail is a portion of a 1924 photo of the Merrimac train passing through its namesake community in Virginia. You can view the complete photo at a larger size.

link to website of the Virginia Tech Office of the Vice President for Research link to Virginia Tech home page