Microfilm digitization

Discussion in 'Fencing Discussion' started by Ancientepee, Jul 22, 2012.

  1. Ancientepee

    Ancientepee Podium

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    The archives of the FIE were destroyed during WWII. This has resulted in serious gaps in our understanding of how the sport of fencing developed prior to WWII. About a year ago, while researching Olympic fencing results, I found out that the NY Public Library had the issues of Fechter Zeitung from 1931 to 1938 on microfilm. This was the monthly magazine of the German fencing federation prior to WWII.

    While most of the articles are about fencing competitions in Germany, there are also articles about fencing in the 1932 and 1936 Olympics as well as the European and World Championships during those years. I even came across a fairly long article about a women's team from the United States that fenced a match in Germany against a German team.

    If these issues were available in digital form, they would be a valuable research tool for learning about fencing during this time period. The NY Public Library told me that I could pay to have them make a copy but the copy would be as a reel of 35mm microfilm, they don't supply digital copies. I contacted a friend in the German fencing federation and he told me that doesn't know of any digitalized version of these issues and is not even sure if they have a microfilm copy or even the original paper issues.

    So I paid the NY Public Library to make a copy and am now reaching out to the readers of this post to see if anyone can help me in three areas:

    1) There seem to be a few companies on the web that will digitalize microfilm. Has anyone had experience with any of these firms and can recommend (or unrecommend) any of them?

    2) The magazine used that horrible font known as Fraktur which is difficult even for present-day Germans to read. I've been told that there are firms which will also scan documents and convert them from one font to another. Can anyone provide information about this?

    3) If the font conversion cannot be done or isn't done well, it would be helpful if an OCR process could be run against the original text so that searches can be done for words or names. Does anyone have knowledge as to whether there are OCR programs out there that can recognize Fraktur?
     
  2. mfp

    mfp Podium

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    The BSB (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek / Bavarian State Library) is digitizing a million plus titles from their collection in a partnership with Google. I'd imagine the BSB would have a lot of experience with Fraktur.

    http://www.bsb-muenchen.de/Mass-Digitisation-within-the-F.1842+M57d0acf4f16.0.html

    And the IMK OCR'ed 200+ years of the Neue Z├╝rcher Zeitung and its various typefaces from 35-mm film:

    http://www.abbyy.com/Default.aspx?DN=b33ccb55-bb99-4701-8f53-7df1229145d4
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2012
  3. mfp

    mfp Podium

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    Also looks like there are issues of Fechter-Zeitung in the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek's Leipzig location:

    http://d-nb.info/013454641
     
  4. Ancientepee

    Ancientepee Podium

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    Thanks for the leads. I am somewhat confused by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek's catalog entry. I seem to recall that when I looked at the microfilm copies that I got, the October 1934 issue had a title page that said that it was volume 1 number 1 but the catalog is referring to issues from 1924 to 1934. It might be that there was a title change to/from Fechter Zeitung from/to Deutsche Fechter Zeitung. At any rate, it looks like it's paper copies that they have and so I should continue investigating digitalization.
     
  5. Ancientepee

    Ancientepee Podium

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    Oops. On second thought I think it was a 1931 issue that was volume 1 number 1, though that seems to make things more confusing.
     
  6. mfp

    mfp Podium

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    Looks like ...

    1913 - 1914, main title "Deutsche Fechter-Zeitung"
    Not published again until 1920
    1920 - 1923, main title "Deutsche Fechter-Zeitung"
    1924 - 1934, main title "Fechter-Zeitung"
    1934 - 1943 main title back to "Deutsche Fechter-Zeitung"​

    Some catalog entries list everything from 1913 till 1943. Other listings differentiate between the two main titles used.

    Some other libraries with holdings:

    http://www.worldcat.org/title/deuts...-fechten/oclc/614177507&referer=brief_results

    Demo versions for MacOs and Windows Fraktur capable OCR programs are available through the abbyy.com site. They also have a "cloud" (i.e. web) based version. Per page OCR license pricing is listed on the site. I'd think they'd likely be able to direct you to service companies capable of scanning 35 mm film as input to their software.
     
  7. K O'N

    K O'N Podium

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    I asked a librarian friend, who said:

    ****************

    I would talk to OCLC. They have a reputable digitization service:

    http://www.oclc.org/contentdm/about/Backstage-Digitization-Services.pdf

    OCLC is the 800 pound gorilla of the library world. If there is anyone
    who has experience digitizing unusual old documents, it's somebody at
    OCLC. The interesting question is whether you can talk to the right
    person without struggling. The right person is doubtless in some
    sub-basement of the OCLC complex in Columbus, OH, and is muttering to
    herself about there being too much daylight streaming from the third
    floor, as she pushes her gray hair out of her face and scolds the
    assistant gnomes about bringing their tea too close to the manuscripts.

    ****************

    Not sure if that's a better idea than the German source you already got, though.

    K O'N
     
  8. Ancientepee

    Ancientepee Podium

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    I can check to see if the magazine did change its name in 1934 the next time I can sneak my microfilm back in the library and use their microfilm readers. But further action on this project will probably have to wait a while because I'm leaving for London on Saturday. Thanks to everyone for the help so far, I now no longer have such a pessimistic outlook as to its eventual completion.
     
  9. CyrusPatel

    CyrusPatel Rookie

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    Have a look at www.scanmicrofim.com
    We provide digitization from microfilms.
    Let me know if you need any further information
    I am available at [email protected] or +91 9821029787
    Thanks & Regards
    Cyrus
     
  10. Robbenbaby

    Robbenbaby Rookie

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    Sorry that I'm digging out this old thread again. I wrote several articles in the German wikipedia about fencers from the first half of the 20th century. Hence, access to the "Deutsche Fechter-Zeitung" would be extremely helpful. Did you ever manage to digitalize your microfilm? Since I'm able to read blackletter fonts without bigger problems, even a version which is not converted to antiqua would help.
     
  11. jdude97

    jdude97 Podium

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    Thanks for digging up this old thread as it allows me to thank ancient epee once again for all the hard work he does preserving the history of our sport.
     
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  12. Ancientepee

    Ancientepee Podium

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    The New York Public Library gave me the name of the company that they often use to digitize their microfilms. In March of this year I took the copy of the microfilm that the NYPL made for me to them and paid to have the 1931-1938 issues digitized. They did not do OCR on the Fraktur text. I took a copy of the digitized files to the Junior/Cadet World Championships in Verona in April and told Sven Ressel, the Sportdirektor of the Deutscher Fechter-Bund, about them and he gave me his email address. When I got back to the US, I created a dropbox for the issues and sent a link to him. I never got any acknowledgement from him or any indication that the DFB has made use of the issues. If you give me an email address, I can give you access to the dropbox.

    It's actually rather a strange coincidence that you contacted me now. My latest project has been to generate a list of everyone who won a senior individual or team US national fencing championship with basic bio info: date/place of birth/death. The 1927 woman's foil individual champion of the US was a fencer named Stephanie Stern but I could find no further mention of her in US fencing literature. This weekend, I searched newspaper archives and found a brief article that said that she had been undefeated in winning that championship and had been a multiple-medalist in the German national championships.

    With that additional information, I was able to track down that her name was Stephanie Johanna Stern. She was born on 20 March 1901 in Offenbach, GER. She won the very first German national fencing championship for women in 1923 and repeated as champion in 1924 with second place being won by the 14-year old Helene Mayer. The following year Mayer won and Stern was second. Stern was Jewish, so in 1926 she came to the US and stayed with relatives in Philadelphia. After winning the US Championship, she briefly returned to Germany (perhaps to see if conditions had changed) but emigrated to the US in October 1927. She married a Jewish German engineer named Phillip Hans Walter Oppenheimer here in the US in 1927. They had a daughter named Edith in 1929 and a son named Paul in 1930, They became US citizens in 1938. She died in Centereach, NY, on 20 July 1996. Her daughter left her mother's fencing scrapbook to the Center for Jewish History in NYC who digitized it. It contains almost exclusively clippings from her German fencing and so you'll find even more information about German fencing in the 1920s there. There's also additional information about her in the Center for Jewish History's online archive:
    http://digital.cjh.org/view/action/.../action/nmets.do?&DELIVERY_RULE_ID=2&divType=

    On about the tenth page of that archive there's a good picture of her that was in a US newspaper after she won the US championship.

     
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  13. Strytllr

    Strytllr DE Bracket

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    that link gives me a "session timeout" message. can you resend the link?
     
  14. Ancientepee

    Ancientepee Podium

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    Their home page is: https://www.cjh.org/
    On the top of the home page is a search box. If you put "Stephanie Oppenheimer" in that box and hit ENTER, you should get to this page:
    upload_2018-9-11_11-21-25.png

    The collection of papers that Edith donated is the first collection listed. Getting to the actual scrapbook is not easy because most of the links you'll find on most of the pages just bring you back to this page. I finally found the digital diary by clicking on "Details". That brought up this page:
    upload_2018-9-11_11-32-12.png

    In the "Links" box on the top right-hand corner, click on "Digital form". That brings up a page titled "Guide to the Oppenheimer Stern Family Collection 1909-2002". Ignore all of the tempting links that you see and scroll to the bottom of the page where there's a section titled "Container List" and click on the "Scrapbook" link:
    upload_2018-9-11_11-38-47.png

    That should get you to the page with links to the 65 pages of the digitized scrapbook. Note that after marrying, she conformed to the standards of those days, dropped "Stern", and used the name "Stephanie Oppenheimer" from then on.
     
  15. Strytllr

    Strytllr DE Bracket

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    Whew! thanks!! I had been clicking all those tempting links and getting no where. haha!
     
  16. Robbenbaby

    Robbenbaby Rookie

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    thank you for the detailed answer. I'm sorry that you did'nt get any acknowledgements from the DFB. It is really disappointing how badly the German fencing federation is organized.

    You got a PM with my e-mail address. I'll answer in more detail in the evening.
     
  17. Ancientepee

    Ancientepee Podium

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    This was one of the most non-intuitive sites I've ever visited. Someone must have told the developer(s) that links are good and so just about everything was made into a link. But since they couldn't figure out what it should be a link to, they make them links back to a previous page. I think that it took me about an hour to finally get to the scrapbook and I lost count of the number of times that I got back to either the first or second page.

    As far as I can tell, Stern stopped fencing once she got married. Since I was interested only in her birth/death info, I ended up getting those from genealogical sites rather than the scrapbook. Apparently she never competed in the Olympics or European Championships (as the World Championships were called at that time). Germany was barred from the 1920 and 1924 Olympics as an aggressor nation in WW I and Women's Foil wasn't added to the European Championships until 1929. She didn't medal in any US Championship after the one that she won. There's brief mention of her in the January 1928 issue of Die Frauen Illustrierte article about Helene Mayer.
     

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  18. Robbenbaby

    Robbenbaby Rookie

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    Same for me :D Sometimes I suspect that these databases are confusing on purpose. The information about Stefanie Stern is very interesting. I wrote the article in the German Wikipedia about her a few years ago (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stefanie_Stern), but was not aware that she emigrated to the United States. It will be difficult to use this material though, since the date and name of the collected newspaper-articles are often not documented. You might be interested in the article about her German Club in the Fechtsport Magazine 4/2013 (http://www.fechten.org/fileadmin/dokumente/Fechtsport-Magazin/fechtsport_magazin_4_2013.pdf, p. 20ff). She won two times the German Championship (1923/1924) and was runner-up in 1925.Other prominent German fencers who emigrated where Helene Mayer, Hans Halberstadt, and Robert Sommer. Halberstadt founded a fencing club in San Francisco, Sommer died 1957 in New York, Mayer returned to Germany and died in 1953 in Heidelberg. On the other hand, many successful German fencers were member of the SS.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  19. Ancientepee

    Ancientepee Podium

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    You might also find some information about German fencers in the 1921-1939 issues of L'Escrime et le Tir but those issues have not been run through OCR and so must be searched manually.
    http://escrime-institut-ffe.fr/inde...riques/190-l-escrime-et-le-tir-de-1921-a-1939

    If you are interested in other historical information about fencing, let me know. I will have to send most of that via email because the files are bigger than the 1MB limit that Fencing.Net puts on attachments. Some examples:
    Olympic placements of the 4,123 fencers who have competed in the Olympics
    Results of the 3,473 fencers who have won a individual or team medal at the veteran, senior, junior, or cadet World Championships since 1921
    I have pictures of 2,847 of the 4,123 Olympic fencers and so might have a photo of a fencer that you are missing
    I have images of ship registers, US citizen applications, and death notices for both Stephanie Stern and her husband if there's some other information about them that you're looking for.
     
  20. Strytllr

    Strytllr DE Bracket

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    I wish i could read more of the german and italian newpaper articles in that scrapbook. But honestly, from a history perspective, I really enjoyed reading her husbands (Philipp Oppenheimer) diary records. The musings of a young German Jewish man during WWI and immediately following seemed oddly resonant.
     

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