Excitement is in the air at Florida State! With the Seminoles finishing their regular season undefeated, heading to the ACC Championship Game on Saturday, and favored to play in the BCS National Championship, FSU fans have renewed pride after what some call the “Lost Decade.”
The Atlantic Coast Conference, or ACC, was created in 1953, and its charter members included Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, and Wake Forest. FSU didn’t join the conference until 1991, but immediately began to dominate the competition and have been ACC champions 13 times, making the Seminoles the most victorious team in the conference.
Championship rings have been a tradition in America since the 1920s. Because a sports team is only awarded one trophy, players, coaches, and staff are presented rings as a token of their victory. Prior to rings, teams were often given pocket watches or pins.
FSU’s Heritage Protocol is fortunate to have accessioned FSU President Sandy D’Alemberte’s championship rings from his tenure from 1994-2003. President D’Alemberte’s time as a president is synchronous to the Seminole’s reign as ACC Champs.
We here at Special Collections don’t have a crystal ball (well, on second thought, we might have one in our collection somewhere!), but sure hope that after Saturday the Seminoles have another ring to add to their collection.
Athletics at Florida State College and Florida State College for Women had always been popular, but after the inception of FSU, sports exploded. Now able to have varsity teams because of the addition of men to the student body, the Tallahassee past time of Seminole fanaticism began. In the exhibit A Century of Seasons: The History of Florida State Athletics, photos, artifacts and ephemera from FSU’s favorite sports teams are on display, as well as forgotten athletic groups like Tarpon Club, the women’s synchronized swimming club, and Gymkana, FSU’s premier gymnastics show troupe.
A Century of Seasons traces the history of FSU athletics, like the incredible growth of FSU football. The excitement was palpable in 1947 when after a 40 year hiatus, FSU hosted its first football game against the Stetson Hatters. While the first season was a dismal bust (the Seminole squad lost all five of their games), the love for football had been instilled in FSU students and Tallahassee citizens alike. It didn’t take long for Florida State football to develop into a powerhouse team: winning the Cigar Bowl in 1950, their first undefeated season in 1950, starting in the top 20 in 1971, and the decades of winning teams under the coaching of Bobby Bowden.
A Century of Seasons also highlights the illustrious career of the Tarpon Club, FSU’s oldest club. The synchronized swimming team was created in the 1920s, originally with the name Life Saving Corps. The club hosted exhibitions that would demonstrate form swimming, figure swimming, speed swimming, lifesaving techniques, diving, and canoe handling. The group adopted the name Tarpon Club in 1937, and developed into a highly-regarded club that garnered awards from national organizations, featured in Hollywood films, and eagerly anticipated water pageants. Tarpon Club disbanded in 1994 and left Florida State with a unique and well-loved history.
A Century of Seasons: The History of Florida State Athletics is open from 10am-6pm in the Strozier Exhibit Room until February 2014.
The arguably epic football rivalry between Florida State and near neighboring University of Florida has spanned over five decades. Although the first game between the two was played in November of 1958, the relationship between the schools can be traced to the first decade of the twentieth-century.
In 1905 the Florida legislature passed the Buckman Act which disbanded Tallahassee’s coeducational Florida State College. The mandate designated the Tallahassee campus as an all-female school and changed the name to Tallahassee campus to Florida State College for Women while simultaneously establishing an all-male school in Gainesville. During the next forty years the University of Florida was viewed by many students at F.S.C.W. as their counterpart and many of the students in Tallahassee supported the men’s sports teams in Gainesville.
Following the Second World War the Tallahassee campus once again became coeducational in order to accommodate returning G.I.s who were seeking a college education and the newly christened Florida State University immediately established its own football team. It took nearly a decade of negotiation to finally sanction an annual game between the Florida State Seminoles and the University of Florida Gators.
The first twenty years of competition were dominated by The Gators who achieved a nine-game long winning streak beginning in 1968 and ending in 1976. One of the most controversial showdowns took place in 1966, when a game-winning Seminole pass from the Gators’ 45-yard-line was ruled incomplete despite photographic evidence suggesting otherwise. The next day the Florida State Flambeau ran headlines announcing a Seminole win, despite the officials’ ruling.
The rivalry became increasingly heated over the following years as Florida State began to even the balance with a four-year streak from 1977 through 1980 then again from 1987 through 1990. In November of 1994 the Seminoles made an awe-inspiring comeback to tie the Gators who had led 31-3 in the fourth-quarter. In 2012 the Seminoles put an end to a six-season Gator streak. The rivalry continues this month as the 4-7 Gators meet the 11-0 Seminoles in Gainesville on November 30th.
Shock and disbelief enveloped Florida State University’s campus after President Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963. Compared to the thousands of words being printed in world newspapers, on FSU’s campus, “a silence [fell] at the first heart-tearing announcement.” Students gathered around TVs and transistor radios in their dorms, on Landis Green, at the Sweet Shop, waiting for the confirmation: “Ladies and Gentleman, the President of the United States is dead.” During station breaks from the news, “heads would bow and tears fell without hesitation.” Classes were canceled, and a memorial convocation was held, featuring musical performances and an address from Dr. Gordon W. Blackwell, University President.
Blackwell acknowledged the difficulty for students being away from home during this time and tried to bring perspective to the event especially to the age group that had connected with President Kennedy in a way they had not connected with a president before: “There can be no question but that the late President caught up the enthusiasm of the young with his warm personality, the brightness of his mind, and his love for sports and the out-of-doors. He carried them forward with the vigor of his thinking which matched his vibrant personality.” Blackwell ended by challenging both students and faculty to carry forward Kennedy’s ideals, “As students and as teachers of new generations, let us move with firm resolve to replace fanaticism with tolerance and prejudice with understanding, so that each of us may retrieve from these tragic days something of personal significance and lasting value that this community, this state, this nation – yes, even this world, will become truly a better place in which to live.” [excerpts from The Selected Addresses of Gordon W. Blackwell, The Florida State University, 1965.]
Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A capable and dynamic leader, as well as the first and only Catholic president to date, Kennedy was a symbol of the change that had begun to come over the United States during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Beloved by millions across the country, he could stir crowds to a frenzy simply by being in front of them, recalled Senator Claude Pepper in his autobiography, Eyewitness to a Century. After learning of President Kennedy’s assassination while at lunch with Mildred Pepper at the Democratic Club in Washington D.C., a stunned Pepper wrote in his diary:
Below is the typed entry pulled from Senator Pepper’s diary transcripts:
Later, Pepper would go on the air via a Miami radio station, WIOD, to inform his constituency of the tragic events of the day:
To the always traumatic experience of losing a world leader there was in the death of President Kennedy the added shock of assassination. Having witnessed firsthand the pain that the nation felt in the wake of the death of FDR, Pepper was all too familiar with the feelings of loss that his fellow Americans were enduring. Both Pepper and Kennedy saw eye to eye on many issues facing the nation including Civil Rights, elder care and the rights of the poor and disenfranchised, issues that Claude Pepper would continue to fight for until the end of his career in 1989. In addition to the images shown above, the Claude Pepper Library and Museum also holds further correspondence, ephemeral items and photographs relating to President Kennedy as well as those of the six other presidents that Pepper served under during his years in office.
The Claude Pepper Library and Museum is open Monday through Friday from 9am-5pm. For further details please contact Robert Rubero at (850)644-9217.
The Special Collections and Archives Division is celebrating American Archives Month by showcasing unique archival items that document Florida’s history in our Reading Room at Strozier Library. We’re also collaborating with other Florida archival repositories in creating an online exhibit comprising digitized materials from our collections and from others around the state.
American Archives Month is an opportunity to raise awareness among various audiences of the value of archives and archivists. These audiences may include students, scholars, policy makers, influential people within our communities, prospective donors, and the general public. It’s also a time to focus on the importance of records of enduring value and to enhance public recognition for the people and programs that are responsible for maintaining our communities’ vital historical records.
Florida State University Libraries Special Collections and Archives announce additions to the collection of the papers of Nobel Prize winner Paul A.M. Dirac — the father of modern physics. In May, his daughter, Monica Dirac donated new materials that will offer researchers further insight into the scope of Dirac’s life and work.
The new materials, most of which are from the early part of Dirac’s career, consist of family documents and professional papers, including letters, family photos, postcards, travel books, souvenirs, brochures, published materials, conference and event information, and legal documents.
The correspondence, especially that between Dirac and his wife Margit, discuss his travels, his career and colleagues, and their courtship. Other items, including postcards and travel brochures, document Dirac’s travel throughout the United Kingdom and United States as well as more exotic destinations. He visited Hungary, Margit’s homeland, often, as well as Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. He also made a few trips to the Soviet Union and Japan.
Dirac at a conference in Israel, 1979
This addition to the Paul A. M. Dirac Papers also includes a variety of materials relating to both Dirac’s death in 1984 and events that occurred after his death. In addition to condolence letters written to Margit, there are obituaries and articles about his life from newspapers and magazines all over the world. There is also information about conferences held and awards given in his honor, for example the Dirac Medal awarded by the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, and documentation of the opening of the Dirac Science Library here at FSU in 1989. These materials help to illustrate the lasting impact Paul Dirac had both at Florida State and in the international physics community as a whole.
Paul Dirac and his daughter, Mary, in Stonybrook, NY, 1966
Dirac’s legacy lives on as students and faculty work in the Dirac Science Library and pass by his statue on campus. Despite being world-renowned for his work in physics, Dirac led a “rather opaque life,” according Graham Farmelo, author of “The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac.” With the addition of these personal and professional papers to FSU Libraries Special Collections, researchers, biographers and scholars will have new avenues of insight into Dirac’s mind and work.
The new materials will be processed, preserved, and made available as a part of the existing Paul A.M. Dirac Papers at Florida State University. For more information on Paul Dirac and his papers, see the finding aid for the collection here.