Category Archives: Personal

Denunciation during WW2: A Family Story

My aunt seems to be finding the most amazing documents hidden in garages and caves. First, she found my great-grandfather’s WW1 diary. Now, she has found denunciation letters a neighbor of my paternal grandmother had sent to the Germans in 1944. These letters are copies Gustave, my great-grandfather, obtained after an unknown person intercepted the letters and gave them to him. Angry and upset (for good reasons), my great-grandfather then filed a lawsuit against the neighbour. According to my grandmother and her sister, the neighbour was deprived of their civil rights and went to prison for a month a two.

I am including the two letters here, both in French. The claims were pretty ridiculous. The neighbor seemed upset because my grandmother’s brothers had joined the French police and were seemingly rooting for the Brits to arrive in Paris. They were also supposedly getting car advantages. These letters are just one more sad example of denunciations happening during WW2, denunciations often based on jealousy and pettiness.

Denunciation Letter written in 1944
Denunciation Letter
Denunciation Letter from 1944
Denunciation Letter
Typed Denunciation Letters
Typed Denunciation Letters

WWI Diary of Albert Huet: New Features

I have been redesigning the “WWI Diary of Albert Huet” project for the past few weeks and I am happy to announce the following new features:

  • A biography in English of Albert and some information about the project and the diary.
  • Information about the translation project that was led by Dr. Lynn E. Palermo from Susquehanna University and completed in June 2018.
  • The diary which now features for each page: the image, the transcription, the standardized French text, and the English translation. Users can easily navigate from tab to tab. Each image is linked to the original file in the University of Florida’s Digital Collections. At the bottom of each page, you can find links to the previous and next pages of the diary. There is also now a list of all the pages of the diary, should users want to navigate to a very specific page.
  • The additional documents related to Albert’s life in the army now feature two photos taken by my aunt of Albert’s two “croix de guerre”.

My goal was to make the diary more useful to scholars, students, and the broader public in general. I am so thankful to my family for letting me digitize all of these documents and sharing them with the world.

Hurricane donations for Puerto Rico at UF

Important message from the University of Florida Center for Latin American Studies.

Greetings All,
Thank you so much for all your donations so far. We have received word from the Coalition of Immokalee workers that they have had an overwhelming amount of support and are not in need of the supplies that we have collected. So that is good news on that front.
In light of that we will be redirecting supplies to help with relief efforts in Puerto Rico to help them with recovery from the immense devastation suffered at the hands of Hurricane Maria. Some elements of this you may or may not know but the White House has yet to decide if they will send monetary aid to the island. Also Puerto Rico is not allowed to receive aid or shipments from countries outside of the United States due to the Jones Act which requires that all shipments to Puerto Rico have to go through a United States port and be delivered on a United States ship. The White House has also declined to suspend this rule despite the immense need on the island and offers from other countries to support.
That being said we really need to come together and help the people of Puerto Rico even more because of the precarious situation they find themselves in as a colonized island of the United States.
We will be collecting for the next two weeks optimistically and if needs continue beyond that. Below are some of the things we need as well as different drop-off locations on UF campus.
· Bottled Water · Toothpaste/Toothbrush · Deodorant · Bar Soap · Children’s Clothes · Baby Formula · Baby Food · Cat/Dog Food · Lighters · Diapers · Baby wipes · Bug spray · Underwear · Socks · Tarps · Non-perishable or canned foods · Feminine hygiene products · Hand Sanitizer · Trash Bags · Batteries · Flash Lights · Sunscreen
Drop off locations include are:
UF Graduate Assistants United Office – Yon 224 Tuesday and Thursday 2-4 PM and Wednesday from 1:30 to 3:30 PM.
Center for Latin American Studies – 3rd Floor Grinter Hall, 8 AM to NOON and 1 PM to 5 PM
Center for African Studies at the University of Florida (MDP Office) – Grinter 470 from 9 AM to 5 PM
La Salita in the Reitz Union Office from 9 AM to 7 PM
Please share this post and help bring in much needed donations!

Saying No in Academia

I can’t tell you how many times I have started my day thinking that if someone were to ask me to be part of a new project or to join a committee I would (and should) say “no.” And usually, that very same day (there must be some cosmic thing going on), someone asks me these exact things. And how do I respond? You guessed it: “Yes”.
So why can’t I say “no”? I say “no” all the time in my personal life and I have no problem with that. But when it comes to my job, several things fight in my head. First, I am convinced that if I don’t join the committee on reevaluating the color of a particular flyer (I am making that one up by the way) or if I am not part of this new project that looks at rebuilding our library underground (again, making it up), then I will be missing out on something great, on networking possibilities, but perhaps more importantly, that I will be denied tenure.
Yes, in my head, I somehow convince myself that saying “no” to yet another thing when I am already burning out from all the work I have will somehow be the reason why I will be denied tenure. Nevermind the fact that I am a hardworking woman who excels at her job (yes, totally flattering myself here) and that being granted tenure depends on so much more than one extra project or committee. Because in my head, I worry that saying “no” might mean passing on a great opportunity and destroy my dreams of being tenured.
But that’s not all. Another reason why I can’t seem to say “no” is because I feel that I am never doing enough. Yes, I am overwhelmed. Yes, I am currently reaching the maximum of my multi-tasking abilities. Yes, I am working on several articles, book chapters, projects, and even a book! But I always feel like I am never doing enough, like my colleagues do so much more than me and therefore that I should do more. This is so unhealthy and so untrue. But it does not matter because the little voice in my head tells me I need to do more, more, more!
I guess the first step is to recognize and admit the problem. The second step will be to learn how to say “no” and not immediately regret it or worry that it might affect my career. This is yet another way in which I am learning to care for myself and my well-being. It won’t be easy but I already feel slightly better writing about this.

Self-Care in Academia: A Follow-Up

I wrote my post, Living with Alopecia: On Self-Care in Academia, because I felt it was important for me to share my story. Academia can make you feel so lonely and insecure, to the point that you try to hide your mental and physical issues from everyone for fear of appearing weak. But you know what? Sharing openly what you are going through, well that’s being strong and powerful.
I received so many messages of friends, colleagues, people I had never met, who are going through similar issues, sharing with me how stress has affected their lives, and thanking me for writing my post. You are welcome and thanks to everyone for being so open as well. I am not alone, you are not alone, and together we can strive to take better care of ourselves.
I also received a few suggestions on how to deal with stress-related issues. For instance, some make sure to sleep for 8-9 hours a night while others focus on having hard limits to their work day and leaving work out the door once home. Some don’t work on the weekends and instead focus on their families, outside activities, activism, etc… Others practice yoga or meditate every night before going to bed. Personally, I went back to working out a few times a week (I really like the free videos at Popsugar) and to cooking. I have also started this membership at a spa where I can either get a massage or a facial every month. I LOVE this. And my cat is the queen of being relaxed so I try to follow her example! Everyone is different so find something that works for YOU.
Am I cured all of a sudden? No. I have not become the least stressed person in the universe. And my hair has not regrown magically yet either. But I do enjoy my work and my life more. I am less bothered by the little things over which I have no control. I am happier. While I still suffer from the imposter syndrome and I am still a stressed-out person, I do find I am making progress towards a better work-life balance. So thanks “Alopecia on my head” because you helped me realize how important taking care of myself is.

Living with Alopecia: On Self-Care in Academia

I have debated about writing this blog post. But as many articles have been published of late on self-care in academia (see Raul Pacheco-Vega’s article or Eva Lantsoght’s piece ), I thought it was time for me to share my story. Why now? Because last night, as I was pulling my hair into a ponytail, I realized one of my holes was back.
But first, let’s go back to December 2014, as I am getting ready for my defense and chatting with my hairdresser. See, I wanted to look pretty for my defense, or at least have pretty hair because frankly, I looked like a hot mess. I was having trouble sleeping, I had big stomach aches, and I was highly irritable. I am a naturally stressed person but combining finishing the dissertation while being on the job market, that was more than I could handle. Going to the hairdresser was usually a very relaxing moment. What’s better than being pampered? But that day, my hairdresser looked at my hair and had a concerned look on her face. She asked me if I had seen any changes with my hair. I had not. She then told me, as delicately as possible, that I had two holes in my scalp, two big areas that were completely naked, smooth, no hair at all. Luckily, she said immediately, they are hidden by my hair so you can’t see them. Yes, I guess I am lucky!
I tried not to think about these holes during my defense but as soon as this was over, I went to the doctor. The verdict was clear: I was suffering from alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is a type of hair loss that happens when your immune system attacks hair follicles by mistake, clumps of hair fall out and you usually end up with smooth, round hairless patches on the scalp or other areas of the body.  This can be caused by stress and there is no treatment. All you can do is wait until the hair grows back. It usually does, but it may take months.
That diagnosis was like a shock to me. Yes, I could not see the holes, but I could feel them. I knew they were there. I could not attach my hair because people would notice them. I could not stand to touch my scalp while washing my hair because I hated feeling the smooth, hairless spots. But most importantly, I realized that these past few months, these past few years, I had not taken care of myself. I had let stress take over my life. It was a wake up call. I needed to change. I had to, if I did not want to lose more hair.
Now, I wish it were that simple. Change does not happen overnight, and it was hard for me to take care of myself while actively looking for a job. But I started working out more, which helped a little bit with my sleeping issues, and I started sharing more of my fears with my family and my husband. Talking helped as well. Nevertheless, more holes appeared. It took me a while, but I learned to live with them.
As the first two holes started to disappear, two new appeared but about a year and a half in, all seemed ok again. My hair was growing back, I had found a a great job with amazing supportive colleagues, I was happy.  Until yesterday.
I called my husband and asked him to look at my scalp. I knew there was a new hole but I could not see it. I needed him to look and take a picture. I had to see. And there it was, a big hairless, smooth circle, at the exact same place it was back in December 2014. My husband also found another one but told me hair was starting to grow back there.  But it did not matter. I started crying. I thought I was doing good. Yes, I have been very stressed these past weeks but I go to yoga once a week and I got a massage last weekend, isn’t that enough? Well, my body is sending me a clear message: no that’s not enough.
So here I am, back to square one.  I was not taking good care of my body and my mind and I was trying to ignore it. But once again, my body is here to remind me that self-care is important. While publishing articles, working on a book, submitting grant applications are important in academia (and for my job), I am more important than that.
That’s why this post is more a way for me to hold myself accountable. I know that I will live with alopecia all my life, until maybe someone finds a cure.  I also know that I can’t let stress rule my life. I can’t let anxiety rule my nights. I can’t keep on having to ask my husband, tears in my eyes, to check how many hairless patches I have on my scalp. It’s time for a change, it’s time for self-care, it’s time to put myself first. I am not exactly sure how to do that, but I’ll figure it out. I have the support of my husband, my family, my friends, and that’s what matters. Until then, I guess I won’t put my hair into a ponytail.

Albert Huet: Fiche Matricule

La fiche matricule d’Albert Huet est consultable sur le site des archives départementales de l’Orne: registre par année de recrutement (classe 1917), bureau d’Alençon, registre matricule n°816 (vue 546). J’ai beau vouloir mettre le lien direct de la page, cela ne semble malheureusement pas marcher.
On découvre par exemple son signalement (nez rectiligne, visage ovale, front vertical) mais surtout, on apprend le détail de ses services et mutations diverses. Albert a d’abord été affecté au 102 ème R.I le 7 janvier 1916 (au front dans la Marne – bois d’ Hauzy et Main de Massiges) puis est passé au 124ème R.I (dans la Somme début 1917, vers Ablaincourt puis secteur de Verdun) et au 363ème R.I le 26 juin 1917. C’est au sein de ce régiment qu’il recevra sa citation le 20 avril 1918. A noter que des mutineries ont touché son régiment en 1917 et sont remontés jusqu’à l’échelle divisionnaire. Il se trouve dans l’Aisne, Marne puis en Champagne en 1918. Si ce document officiel explique qu’Albert tombe malade en octobre 1918, laissant croire à la grippe espagnole qui fait rage à cette période, la realité est bien différente: Albert a en effet été touché par une attaque aux gaz / son masque avait été percé par des éclats (obus ?) et donc inefficace. Enfin, il sera “affecté spécial” comme wagonnier à la gare d’Argenteuil. Son affectation à la gare d’Argenteuil marquera la suite de sa vie : il entre à la Compagnie des Chemins de Fer de l’Etat (à l’époque on embauche à tour de bras pour compenser les pertes en effectifs de la guerre) et deviendra Chef de Train. Il restera définitivement à Argenteuil, après avoir épousé la soeur d’un de ses camarades de régiment.

Fiche Matricule d’Albert Huet

Issues in Humanities Data Sharing

I would like to share with you the gist of the presentation I gave to the National Federation of Advanced Information Services 2016 Humanities Roundtable in Atlanta in September 2016.
For this talk, I focused on one of the biggest barriers to humanities data sharing: fear. Fear can take many forms, but the one I wanted to discuss was the fear of not getting credit.
This fear of not getting credit is what framed my talk. First, I explained how this fear has impacted, and in some cases inhibited, my work as a digital humanist. Second, I discussed how I have tried to overcome this fear. Third and finally, I discussed how, as a liaison librarian, I am trying to help faculty and graduate students overcome their own fears of not getting credit for their work.
Fear as a Digital Humanist
First, it is important for me to point out that the fear of not getting credit has prevented me from sharing more information as part of my digital humanities project, Mapping Decadence. Where did this fear originate and why did I become afraid of putting too much information on my website?
The fear was instilled in me at the very beginning of graduate school, years before I started developing my project. Some faculty members made it clear that publishing articles was the most important thing I could do to advance my career. While my digital project was interesting and “trendy”—and thus an asset on the job market—what mattered more were the articles I could base on this project. As such, when I started working on my DH mapping project, I was advised not to put too much information online. Doing so, I was warned, might enable other scholars to steal my work (and thus prevent me from getting my articles in print).
Retrospectively, I should have realized that making my research available online would only enhance my profile and help me on the job market. And so it did.
Just as importantly, sharing my research allows me to fulfill my original goal for Mapping Decadence. The reason I wanted to create a DH project in the first place was to be able to share my work/data with everyone who has internet access. I don’t believe our research should only be only accessible to a happy few.
What are the steps I have taken to try to overcome my fear of not getting credit? (spoiler alert: I still worry about not getting credit)

  • I listened to colleagues and collaborators who told me that my project would be greatly enhanced by sharing more information. These individuals include:
    • Kathy Weimer (Head of Kelley Center for Government Information, Data, and Geospatial Services at Rice University) during a GIS workshop for the international DH conference in Sydney, Australia;
    • Miriam Posner (DH program coordinator at UCLA)’s students who reviewed my project for a class (I found these reviews by chance when googling my website);
    • Paige Morgan, DH librarian at the University of Miami.
  • In each case, my reviewers consistently informed me that I needed to share more data.
    • Some of the information that I was encouraged to share has or will be easy to add to the project. These modifications include noting the sources of my data and adding legends to my maps.
    • Nevertheless, there are others kinds of information my reviewers asked me to share that will pose greater challenges – not least because of my deeply-instilled fears. These include sharing my analyses/results. This kind of modification to the project remains a roadblock, as I am on the TT and I need to publish an analysis of my data in article form for tenure.

Dealing with others’ fears as a liaison librarian
Finally, as a liaison librarian, I have tried to help faculty and graduate students overcome their fear of not getting credit. Let me start by sharing a little anecdote: I met a professor once who explained that s/he only presents papers that have already been accepted for publications because s/he does not want their research stolen. I am sure we all know someone who does this kind of thing. But I have to say, this is so far from the way I see and do things that, as a liaison librarian and a scholar, I have been actively working to help others deal with their fears.
This is why I believe that “education” is the keyword here. The first step I take is talking about the advantages of putting one’s work online (enhancing one’s scholarly profile, earning colleagues’ goodwill, etc.). The second step I take is reminding scholars that there are large and important aspects of their work that they can share without revealing their conclusions or endangering their publications.
What are my strategies to provide education that would help scholars overcome their fears?

  • Educate colleagues about the Institutional Repository (IR@UF where I work for instance). Many people believe that, simply because they’ve published an article on a topic, it is now widely available to others. Introducing colleagues to the IR thus helps acquaint them with larger research accessibility issues while directing them to institutional resources that will help put their work before a wider audience.
  • Provide education through Digital Humanities working groups: help organize talks and invite speakers who have experience in the digital world, promote the events to my patrons and incite them to attend the talks/workshops, etc.
  • Use examples that show colleagues how sharing data can result in positive career outcomes. Rather than seeing data sharing as an invitation to data theft, I want scholars to view data sharing as a way to boost one’s profile, attach one’s name to a project, and advance other scholars’ work in the process. The benefits of sharing thus far outweigh possible risks.

This is not to say these strategies always work. It can be hard to get meetings with faculty to discuss IR/DH/data and it is much easier when this is done on a 1-on-1 basis. But little by little, my hope is that humanities scholars will overcome their fear and see the benefits of data sharing.

On the Job Market? Listen to NPR's Embedded

On my way to work this morning, I was listening to NPR’s new podcast, Embedded. One episode in particular, The League, struck me. As I was listening to the story of two basketball players whose dream was to play for the NBA but who had to play for the D-League in the meantime, I could not help but think of my years on the academic job market. Just like everyone on the job market, these players want the job of their dreams, a job that will also pay them what they are worth. When they are not picked up they go to the D-League, where players can be paid as low as 13,000 dollars (it reminded me so much of adjuncting). They work hard to prove to everyone that they deserve to be in the NBA, just like we work hard to prove we deserve a tenure track position: we are amazing teachers, we publish, we serve on committees, and yet, so often the tenure track position is unreachable. And then an agent from the NBA calls the players. Could it be happening? Could it be that they have finally been noticed and that their dream is going to become reality after many years of hard work? Probably not. It’s just like getting a Skype interview and then you hear nothing for months or when you make it to the on-campus part but you are not the one chosen (“You were great, but we went with someone else”). Just like us, academics, these athletes have hope, get excited, and despite being severely disappointed, never give up.

Thank You. Merci.

I just wanted to take a few minutes to thank everyone who has accessed, shared, or used the World War I diary of my great-grandfather Albert Huet. Since February, it has been viewed more than 1,700 times. I can’t believe it. And neither can my grandfather, who is amazed that his dad’s story would be interesting to so many people.
In an effort to further enhance the project, I would now like to know how colleagues are using Albert Huet’s diary. I’m therefore requesting that anyone who has used the diary in her/his research or teaching to let me know (hhuet at how it has helped you. I’m eager to learn about your experience and to link your projects/assignments/articles/books on my website.
Merci d’avance.