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FSU 101: Intro to Florida State History

August 25, 2014

Have you ever wondered about the long and storied history of Florida’s oldest university and how it came to be known as Florida State University? Well, you’re in luck – welcome to FSU 101: Intro to Florida State History, and class is now in session.

1851 – The Florida Legislature votes to establish two seminaries of higher education, which led to the establishment of the West Florida Seminary in Tallahassee.

West Florida Seminary Seal

West Florida Seminary Seal

1858 – The West Florida Seminary absorbs the Tallahassee Female Academy (formerly the Misses Bates School) and the institution becomes coeducational.

1861-65 – During the Civil War, formal military training began at the seminary and it was briefly renamed The Florida Military and Collegiate Institute. Cadets from the institute defeated Union forces at the Battle of Natural Bridge on March 6, 1865, and because of this victory, the FSU Army ROTC is one of four in the United States permitted to display a battle streamer.

1883 – 1901 – This period was a time of great transition for the West Florida Seminary. In 1883, the West Florida Seminary became part of Florida University (the first state university in Florida), and became the institution’s Literary College. In 1885, the university was briefly recognized by the Florida Legislature as the University of Florida (yes, you read that right!), but the name was repealed in 1903 and transferred to the former Florida Agricultural College. In 1901, the university was reorganized into Florida State College.

Florida State College Seal

Florida State College Seal

Florida State College for Women Seal

Florida State College for Women Seal

1905 – The Buckman Act goes into effect and segregates all universities in Florida by race and gender. The Florida State College is briefly called the Florida Female College, before being officially titled the Florida State College for Women in 1909. FSCW was the pinnacle of women’s education in the south during this period, and by 1933 had grown to be the third largest women’s college in the United States.

1946-47 – With the influx of soldiers returning from WWII and the G.I. Bill going into effect, the Tallahassee Branch of University of Florida opened on the campus of FSCW. Male students were housed in barracks at Dale Mabry Field, west of Tallahassee, and bussed into campus. This area became known as West Campus, and later became the location of the Tallahassee Community College. In 1947, the two schools officially merged and became the Florida State University.

Florida State University Seal, 1947

Florida State University Seal, 1947

1947 – With the inclusion of men to the student body, FSU now has varsity sports teams and needs a mascot. Final potential mascots included the Crackers, Statesmen, Tarpons, and Fighting Warriors, but eventually students chose to adopt the Seminoles.

There you have it – a very brief crash course in the long history of Florida State University. To see more photographs, ephemera, and artifacts related to the history of Florida State, check out the FSU Heritage Protocol Digital Collections or like the Heritage Protocol Facebook page.

Happy Birthday Paul Dirac!

August 8, 2014

Born on August 8, 1902, Paul A. M. Dirac would go on to be a Nobel Prize winning physicist, sharing the prize with Edwin Schrödinger in 1933 for their work in atomic theory. Dirac’s work over his academic career at Cambridge and later at Florida State University was in quantum mechanics. His Dirac Equation, which describes the behavior of fermions and predicted the existence of antimatter, was among his many contributions to the field over his lifetime. In 1971, he moved to Tallahassee, Florida to work at Florida State University. He died in Tallahassee on October 20, 1984.

His papers now reside in Special Collections & Archives at Florida State University. You may see a complete finding aid of the collection here. Among his papers are his early works in mathematics, his handwritten dissertation on quantum mechanics and other drafts of his publications along with family papers and photographs. Special Collections also holds the Dirac Equation as written out on the chalkboard by Dirac himself. We’re currently working on a re-housing project and several digitization projects with the Dirac papers. A small portion of the Dirac Papers are already available in the Florida State University Digital Library.

Look for more on his collection and life on this blog as we complete more digitization projects with his collection. In the meantime, a very happy birthday to Dr. Dirac!

The FSU Digital Library Presents: Club Downunder Posters!

August 8, 2014

Since the 1970s, in the heart of FSU’s main campus, Club Downunder (CDU) has been entertaining FSU students with its eclectic range of live performances, including rock shows, comedy acts, and other recreational events.

David Rañon, coordinator of Union Productions and Club Downunder, recently donated 316 event posters to Heritage Protocol and University Archives at Strozier Library. These posters range from the years 1998 to 2013 and showcase local talents such as Look Mexico and more internationally-renowned bands like Of Montreal, Jimmy Eat World and Rilo Kiley.

The collection consists of promotional posters provided by the touring bands as well as original designs by FSU students and staff, most of which were displayed around campus and in the windows of CDU.













These posters were digitized in high resolution by the Digital Library Center staff in Strozier Library using a combination of flatbed scanners and specialized, overhead camera equipment for the larger prints. To view the posters and their metadata (concert dates and supporting artist information included) please visit the collection at the Digital Library, Club Downunder Poster Collection.

Please note the posters are set to display alphabetically by default. If you’re interested in seeing them sorted by date, click here.

For more information about Club Downunder and Union Productions, including upcoming concerts and events, please go to their website or check out their more active Facebook page for updates.

Stuart Rochford is the Digital Library Center Studio manager at FSU and has worked with Strozier Library since 2011. He graduated from FSU with a BFA in graphic design and is currently working on his Master’s Degree in Library Science.

Poetry in the Great War

August 4, 2014

Today is the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. To mark the occasion, we’re pleased to announce a new collection of books from the John Mackay Shaw Childhood in Poetry collection published during World War I are now available in the FSU Digital Library.

These 32 books were chosen from the larger subject guide to World War I poetry created for the Shaw collection. That bibliography covers 360 poetry books and young adult magazines produced in Great Britain and North America during World War I, many focused on trying to explain to children the conflict and how they could help the war effort in their country.

Today’s reader does not often know most of the poetry collected here but these books offer a unique glimpse into this extraordinary period of history. The Shaw Collection mostly focuses on the experience of childhood through poetry and prose but the books collected surrounding this era by Shaw are wide ranging in their voices. The Child’s ABC of the War explains to British children the words they would be hearing as the conflict escalated and tried to reassure them that Britain would stand tall. Other books included were written on the front by young men like Robert W. Sterling who never returned home. There is poetry written by women left to man the home front and childhood stories turned into propaganda for the war effort.

We hope to add more unique materials from the Shaw Collection to this collection in the coming months as we continue to mark the World War I Centennial.


New Digital Collection: Cuneiform Tablets

June 19, 2014

The Florida State University Digital Library now shares a selection of the cuneiform tablets held by the Florida State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives.

In 1922, Dr. Josiah Bethea Game (1869-1935) negotiated the purchase of twenty-five tablets for the Florida State College for Women (FSCW). The tablets range in size from one to two square inches, and are square, rounded and cone shaped. The tablets were found by archeologist Dr. Edgar J. Banks (1866 –1945)  while excavating in Babylonia (present-day Iraq) for the University of Chicago in 1903-1904. The ancient inscribed Babylonian clay tablets illustrate the oldest of writings and were are mostly temple records and business documents dating from over 4000 years ago.

Among the cuneiform artifacts are a ritual tablet from Warka dated 2100 BC; a memorandum from Senkereh, the ancient Larsa, 22 BC; a temple record, sealed with the royal seal of the King of Ur of the Chaldees, 2350 BC; sun-dried business contract, 220 BC; sun-dried exercise tablet, 2200 BC; butchers bill for four sheep, 2150 BC; a votive cone, King of Amanu, from the temple of the goddess Ishtar, which he built in the royal residence of his kingdom 2100 BC; a tax bill, 2350 BC; and a business contract dated in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign.

This selection of our cuneiform collection was digitized and translated as part of a project in 2008 and now join the growing digital collections in the FSUDL!

Heritage Protocol marks the passing of Dr. J. Stanley Marshall

June 9, 2014

Heritage Protocol and our entire community is saddened to learn of the passing of former Florida State University President and Trustee Dr. J. Stanley Marshall, who died earlier today, June 8, at the age of 91. From Garnett Stokes, Interim President, Florida State University: Dr. Marshall leaves a truly remarkable legacy. Following his service in World War II, he became an educator and statewide leader in higher education, earning an international reputation for his work in reashaping the education of science teachers. As an entreprenuer, Dr. Marshall lived an engaged life of excellence and integrity; and our faculty, staff and students are grateful for his leadership and influence on the Florida State University campus, as well as our city and state. While serving as Florida State’s ninth president, from June 1969 to August 1976, Florida State was known as the “Berkeley of the South” as student protests and faculty dissension placed the institution in the national spotlight. Notwithstanding the social and political upheaval of the time, he thoughtfully guided the university with a policy of “firmness coupled with fairness.” Because of this policy, campus protests resulted in arrests, rather than violence or casualties. In his 2006 book “The Tumultuous Sixties: Campus Unrest and Student Life at a Southern University” (Sentry Press), Dr. Marshall recounted how he was able to maintain order on the Florida State campus, while respecting the rights of free speech and assembly. Dr. Marshall joined our faculty in 1958 as head of the Department of Science Education, and adjunct professor of physics. He established the department of science education and programs to educate secondary school teachers in the sciences, and went on to become the associate dean of Florida State’s College of Education in 1965. In 1967, he was appointed dean of the college. Consulting widely in science education, principally in the Middle East, Dr. Marshall gained an international reputation for his work in reshaping science teacher education programs. He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and served on that organization’s Commission on Science Education. Dr. Marshall was co-author of a widely used series of science textbooks for the elementary grades published by Scott Foresman. He was the Founding Editor of “The Journal of Research in Science Teaching” and served as an advisor to Encyclopedia Britannica Films, the National Science Foundation, and to the U. S. Department of Education. He served as President of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, Southern Region. By Presidential appointment, Dr. Marshall served for five years on the Secretary of the Navy’s Advisory Board on Naval Education and Training, as well as serving as an advisor to the Secretary of the Army for on-campus Army ROTC programs. He served as a member of the Board of Regents of The National Library of Medicine, and was a Fellow of The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), where he served on the AAAS Commission on Science Education. Dr. Marshall remained active in higher education following his retirement as Florida State president in 1976. He founded The James Madison Institute in 1987 and served as its President and CEO from 1987 to 2000. For many years thereafter he continued as Senior Scholar, publisher of the Institute’s quarterly Journal, and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors. Later accomplishments include serving on the Bethune Cookman University Board of Trustees beginning in 1994, and concluding at the end of his four-year term as chairman in 2001. He also served on the Florida State University Board of Trustees from 2002 to 2005, and the Florida Board of Governors from 2005 to 2012. He later founded Sonitrol, a Tallahasee-based company that provides electronic security and fire protection for businesses and homes in the area. As a member of the community, he served on numerous commissions and boards, including the Florida Commission on Cabinet Reform in 1995, and the Florida Constitution Revision Commission in 1997-1998. In addition, he served on the boards of the Tallahassee Memorial Regional Medical Center and the Tallahassee Area Chamber of Commerce, and received the latter’s Lifetime Leadership Award. Dr. Marshall’s contributions to science teacher education and higher education are countless; and equally immeasurable is his legacy as a genuine “Renaissance Man” – a global reputation that was shaped by his extraordinary intellect and standing as a champion of objectivity and fairness. Our thoughts are with his wife, Shirley, their five children, and 13 grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on Monday, June 16 at 11 a.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church in Tallahassee.Dr. J Stanley Marshall circa 1967

Seashells, Societies & Scandals: Illustrated Marine Zoological Books of the 19th Century

June 6, 2014

Here in Tallahassee summer is in full swing with high temperatures already hitting the 90s.  In honor of the arrival of beach-going, sea shell-collecting days, the staff at Florida State University’s Special Collections & Archives invites you to explore the weird, wonderful and occasionally scandalous world of 19th century marine zoology.

FSU’s rare books collection contains numerous illustrated zoological and botanical works including a large selection of illustrated conchological texts and a nearly complete collection of publications from the Linnean Society and The Ray Society.  We picked three especially interesting and “beachy” books to feature in this special summer-themed post.  So, break out your sunscreen and prepare to brush up on your knowledge of marine zoology!

We begin with a foray into the sordid world of illustrated conchologies. For readers who may be unfamiliar with the term, conchology is the study of mollusk shells.

The Conchologist’s First Book
By Edgar Allan Poe, 1839

Cover of The Conchologist's First Book

Cover of The Conchologist’s First Book

The Conchologist’s First Book was originally published in 1839 and was the only work attributed to Edgar Allan Poe to be published in a second edition during his lifetime.

Poe, who was down on his luck and in financial straits at the time, was commissioned by the American naturalist Thomas Wyatt to write an introduction and lend his name to a revised edition of his Manual of Conchology.  Despite Poe’s assertion that he edited, revised and arranged the text in close cooperation with the original author, controversy arose over claims that the book violated copyright law and charges of plagiarism were bandied about.  Poe became so concerned with the damage the accusation might do to his reputation that he threatened to pursue legal action. Meanwhile, Wyatt’s own Manual of Conchology was likewise criticized for having borrowed heavily from Captain Thomas Brown’s The Conchologist’s Textbook which was published in Glasgow in 1837.1

This first edition of The Conchologist’s First Book features the original uncolored illustrations which appeared in color in the second edition, published in 1840.

Illustrations of  The Fossil Conchology of Great Britain and Ireland : with the description and localities of all the species
By Captain Thomas Brown, 1849

Plate 64

The second featured book comes from the very same Captain Thomas Brown of the Poe-Wyatt conchological controversy.  Illustrations of The Fossil Conchology of Great Britain and Ireland was published in 1849 and contains 98 superbly illustrated pages drawn by Brown himself.  Among Brown’s claims to Victorian naturalist fame are his membership in the Linnean Society, his presidency of the Physical Society and the honor of having a species of sea snail named after him.

A Monograph of the British Naked-Eyed Medusae: with Figures of all the Species
By Edward Forbes, 1848


Plate 9


With the final featured book we move away from mollusk shells and into deeper waters, so to speak.  A Monograph of the British Naked-Eyed Medusae is number 12 of a series of texts published by the Ray Society.  The Ray Society was established in 1844 with the expressed object of “the promotion of Natural History by the printing of original works in Zoology and Botany…”2  Unlike similar societies of the period, The Ray Society specifically sought to publish works of scientific merit that were unlikely to be commercially profitable and therefore unlikely to appear in print.  A Monograph of the British Naked-Eye Medusae is one of many fascinating and beautifully illustrated volumes in the Ray Society’s long list of publications which also includes Charles Darwin’s A Monograph of the Sub-class Cirripedia: with Figures of all the Species and William Buckler’s Larvae of British Butterflies and Moths.

These beautiful and interesting books are part of a large collection of illustrated Natural History books to be discovered in Florida State University’s special collections.


1. Lienhard, John D., Poe’s Conchology. retrived 4 June 2013 from

2. Curle, Richard. The Ray Society: A Bibliographical History. London: Printed for the Ray Society; sold by Quaritch, 1954.


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