Happy Halloween from Special Collections

Happy Halloween from FSU Special Collections! The students at FSCW loved a good costume, and didn’t feel the need to wait until Halloween to dress up, often getting gussied up for class demonstrations, club initiations, or just because they wanted to have some fun. Please enjoy some photographs of FSCW students in costume!

Women in Flower Costumes (Heritage Protocol Photograph Collection, circa 1920s)
Women in Flower Costumes (Heritage Protocol Photograph Collection, circa 1920s)
Woman in Costume (Even Demonstrations) (Elizabeth and Katharine Autrey Collection, 1931-1999)
Woman in Costume (Even Demonstrations) (Elizabeth and Katharine Autrey Collection, 1931-1999)
Gladys Martin in Queen of Hearts Costume (Gladys Martin Black Collection, circa 1914-1918)
Gladys Martin in Queen of Hearts Costume (Gladys Martin Black Collection, circa 1914-1918)
Cornelia Watson, Carolyn Mims, and Joan Kennedy in Wizard of Oz Costumes at Odd Demonstration (L. Janet Wells Scrapbook, 1938-1942)
Cornelia Watson, Carolyn Mims, and Joan Kennedy in Wizard of Oz Costumes at Odd Demonstration (L. Janet Wells Scrapbook, 1938-1942)
Lucile Pyles and Catherine Goode in Costume (Mary Cobb Nelson Scrapbook, 1923-1928)
Lucile Pyles and Catherine Goode in Costume (Mary Cobb Nelson Scrapbook, 1923-1928)
Unidentified Girl in Ballet Costume (Marion Laura Stine Collection, 1917-1921)
Unidentified Girl in Ballet Costume (Marion Laura Stine Collection, 1917-1921)
Unidentified Girl in Armenian Costume (Marion Laura Stine Scrapbook, 1917-1921)
Unidentified Girl in Armenian Costume (Marion Laura Stine Scrapbook, 1917-1921)

If you like these photographs, be sure to check out our latest exhibit “That I May Remember: Scrapbooks of the Florida State College for Women 1905-1947″ in the Special Collections & Archives Gallery, open Monday-Friday 10AM-6PM.

The Spessard Holland Photograph Collection Illustrates Three Decades of Florida Political History

Newly appointed Senator Spessard Holland working at his desk in Florida
Newly-appointed Senator Spessard Holland working at his desk in Florida (1946)

The Claude Pepper Library is home to a collection of over 2,000 photographs from Spessard Holland’s long career representing Florida in the United States Senate and as its 28th governor. These images provide a glimpse into his work on behalf of the state of Florida and with many of the preeminent political figures of the 20th century.

Spessard Holland, far left, with the 24th Aero Squadron in France during World War I
Spessard Holland, far left, with the 24th Aero Squadron in France during World War I

Holland was a lifelong resident of Bartow, Florida. He was born in the central Florida town to Benjamin F. and Virginia Holland in 1892. Despite leaving several times – to Atlanta to earn a bachelor’s degree at Emory University, then to Gainesville to study Law at the University of Florida, and to France during his service in the Army Air Corps during World War I – he always returned to his hometown. He was interred in Bartow in 1971 upon his death. The earliest photographs in the series include portraits of Holland as a child and with his fellow service men while stationed in Paris. However the majority of the images, taken during his thirty years in office, are devoted to Holland’s political work.

Governor Spessard Holland visiting a base in Florida during the second World War
Governor Spessard Holland visiting a military base in Florida during World War II

During the United States involvement in World War II, Holland served as the 28th Governor of Florida. He oversaw Florida’s participation in the wartime defense effort and the development of infrastructure to support this growth. The series of photographs illustrates Holland’s term in office from Election Day in 1940 through his departure in 1945. These images document Florida’s vital work during World War II at military bases, air fields, and shipyards; as well as Holland’s work on issues of tax reform and sponsoring Florida agriculture, which would remain central policy positions throughout his career. The collection also contains several family photos taken during Holland’s term as governor. These depict Mary Groover Holland in her duties as first lady as well as informal photos of family life in the Governor’s mansion in Tallahassee and throughout Florida.

President Truman arriving in Florida for the dedication of Hendricks Field being greeted by Senator Spessard Holland, Senator Claude Pepper, and Governor Millard Caldwell
President Truman greeted on arrival in Florida by Senators Spessard Holland and Claude Pepper
President Lyndon Johnson at the 1964 certification of the 24th Amendment, which had been sponsored by Spessard Holland
Sponsor Spessard Holland with President Johnson at the 1964 certification of the 24th Amendment

Governor Millard Caldwell appointed Spessard Holland to the United States Senate on September 25, 1946 following the death of Charles O. Andrews. Holland was formally elected to the seat in November of that year and served four consecutive terms until his retirement in 1971. The political changes that occurred over this quarter century can be witnessed in the collection. Holland’s relationship with the each Presidential administration, working most closely with fellow Democrats Truman and Johnson, is tacit in the images. Frequent travel, a significant part of the Senator’s life, is documented in this collection. Holland would attend events throughout Florida before returning to his senatorial office in Washington D.C., as well as congressional trips to Central America and up to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

Spessard Holland meeting with Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins
Spessard Holland meeting with Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins

Holland was committed to the success of the Florida space program. The collection contains images from his frequent trips to the Florida Space Coast taken during his ten years of service on the National Aeronautical and Space Committee. These show visits to launch and training sites as well as the crowds watching the subsequent lift-off. Holland met with the crew of Apollo 11 and the Mercury 7 astronauts, receiving inscribed photographs from Gus Grissom, John Glenn, and Alan Shepard.

Senator Spessard Holland meeting with Senator Claude Pepper and Florida Democratic Representatives to discuss VA Hospitals (1949)
Senator Spessard Holland meeting with fellow Florida Democratic Congressmen to discuss VA Hospitals (1949)

Over three decades, the photographs document Spessard Holland’s close relationships with many prominent political figures in Florida, Washington, D.C., and Latin American. Perhaps the most visible of his colleagues were his corresponding Florida Senator Claude Pepper and later George Smathers. The public life of a United States congressman – attending committee meetings, visiting with constituents, luncheons with interest group, and campaign banquets – were often done in conjunction with these men and his fellow Florida representatives.

The images are only part of the Spessard Holland collection. The photographs are held at the Claude Pepper Library along with biographies on Holland’s life, personal correspondence, campaign files, Floridiana, and memorabilia. More images of Spessard Holland during his terms of office can be seen in the Claude Pepper Digital Photograph Collection.

Spessard Holland and Allen Morris looking at a photograph from Holland’s governorship from the collection given to Strozier Library in 1971
Spessard Holland and Allen Morris looking at a photograph from Holland’s governorship, part of the collection given to Strozier Library in 1971

Commemorating Paul A. M. Dirac

On October 20, 1984, Paul A.M. Dirac passed away in his adopted home of Tallahassee, Florida.

Dirac moved to Tallahassee to teach at Florida State University in 1971 after visiting in June of that year to make sure he could handle the heat of Florida’s summers. He also appreciated the faculty of the growing physics department at FSU and that his colleagues treated the Nobel Prize winner like he was simply one of their own.

Paul Dirac is pictured in his office with his last graduate student, Bruce Hellman.
Paul Dirac pictured in his office at FSU with his last graduate student, Bruce Hellman. [See Full Description]
In a 2009 Florida State Times article, former colleagues remembered the at times eccentric physicist during his time here. He loved to walk, saying it gave him time to think and appreciated his daily “commute” to his office at FSU. He was also a man who spoke only when he had something to say. Steve Edwards, Professor Emeritus, Dean of the Faculties and Deputy Provost Emeritus., Ph.D., remembered, “for 12 years I had lunch with Paul Dirac. It was very enlightening, although on some days it was perfectly all right to sit there for an hour and not say anything to each other.”

Dirac is buried at Roselawn Cemetery in Tallahassee. Memorials to his memory in his childhood home in Bristol, England and in Saint-Maurice, Switzerland where his father’s family was from, can also be visited. In 1995, a commemorative stone for Dirac was added to Westminster Abbey in London, England. It is inscribed with the Dirac Equation.

My Career as a Special Collections Archivist

burtaltman

Now on the verge of retirement from Florida State University Libraries after 34 years, and as my contribution to Archives Month, I’d like to reflect on my work experience as an archivist in the Division of Special Collections and Archives. I wanted to share with you not only the unique aspects of my professional career but also describe some of the most interesting collections I’ve processed, my observations on how the field has evolved, and how I’d like to transfer these experiences and skills into my retirement. I am hoping that for my fellow FSU library colleagues and students wishing to enter the archives field that my narrative will provide an insight into not only how diversified archival work can be, but also how projects can be accomplished with limited resources, and how professional practices in archives have changed over time.

AT THE BEGINNING…….SERVING AS A CONGRESSIONAL ARCHIVIST

Because the better part of my tenure at FSU Libraries was serving as the archivist of the Claude Pepper Library, most of this story will be devoted to that work.  I arrived in Special Collections in 1981 and was originally hired as the congressional archivist to arrange, describe, and make accessible the Claude Pepper Papers.  Because of the enormous size of the collection, the Papers were housed in a separate room in Strozier Library, and I was fortunate to have a library para-professional and two student assistants to process the collection. The first 900 boxes of the collection originally arrived in 1979, but a library para-professional with little or no archival experience began to arrange the collection. Unfortunately, a portion of the collection had to be reprocessed and it took another ten years to acquire additional materials and to make it accessible.  By that time, the collection and its staff had moved to at least three different locations in Strozier.  Furthermore, in preparation for the opening of the Claude Pepper Library (originally the Mildred and Claude Pepper Library, as a tribute to the Congressman’s late wife) portions of the collection were stored in the old Post Office on Woodward Avenue and the old Dodd Hall Reading Room (now the Florida Heritage Museum) while Dodd Hall was being renovated. I moved into the new Pepper Library facilities at the Claude Pepper Center in 1997.

It was exciting to finally be in a permanent location.  I found my work at the Pepper Library most enjoyable and satisfying.  The collection was fascinating, too. Congressman Pepper served over 40 years combined in the U.S. Senate and House, and his papers truly document all the major events of the 20th Century.  I originally met Congressman Pepper and his staff several times when we were planning the original Pepper Library in Dodd Hall, and continued to work with them at the Pepper Center and with the architect who designed and built the adjoining Claude Pepper Museum.

In my earlier years working at Dodd Hall, I joined the Society of American Archivists’ (SAA) Congressional Papers Roundtable, an association that continues to this day.  Through my contacts in the early 2000s, I learned that several congressional archives were beginning to digitize their collections. After I visited some of these institutions, and fortunately with the support of the Claude Pepper Foundation and FSU Libraries, John Nemmers, my archivist colleague at Pepper, and I proposed and implemented a digitization project. Over a period of three years (2001-2003), we and several student assistants selected materials to be scanned and made available on our new Claude Pepper website. We also prepared metadata for discovery of the materials and monitored search traffic to the website on a monthly basis. To publicize the project, we also wrote an article for the American Archivist; it served as a case study about how the value of digitization projects and how online finding aids can increase the use of archival collections.

Unfortunately, because Microsoft no longer provided server support for the software client we used for digitization and access, we had to discontinue our project. About that time, the FSU Libraries developed a long-range vision to create a repository of Florida political papers, not just congressional papers but those of Florida governors and senators as well. Subsequently, we began to acquire other papers of Florida statesmen, notably the Reubin Askew Papers, and transferred other Florida political papers from Special Collections & Archives housed in Strozier.  In addition, during the early 2000s, the FSU Libraries began developing a disaster preparedness program and created a “disaster plan working group;” I served as its preservation officer.  It was a monumental task, but our preservation “team” representing all FSU Libraries contributed to the development of the plan.  It has periodically been updated since that time.

Up until the time I began processing this collection, my archival experience had been limited to arranging and describing a collection of 18th Century deeds and other land records between settlers and Indian tribes in Long Island. Before I came to FSU, I lived in Long Island and worked at a local historical society. Once I arrived here, since I was the only archivist in the FSU Libraries (known in professional circles as a “lone archivist”), I had to reach out for help to the staff at the State Archives of Florida and begin attending SAA workshops to gain experience. This really paid off when it came time to reprocess and to add more materials.  However, since the concept of “More Product, Less Process” (MPLP) for archival materials hadn’t caught on yet in the 1980s, processing work was more time-intensive because staff had been removing all the original staples from attached documents and were counting all the documents in every folder! Because I was an archival “greenhorn” when I first arrived, I continued this practice but learned from my professional peers that these kinds of tasks weren’t absolutely necessary when working with large congressional papers. So the practice stopped. And by the time MPLP came to light in the early 2000s, we no longer arranged and described these large collections down to the individual document level. Furthermore, as long as the temperature and humidity were fairly stable, we no longer saw the need to remove every staple, either.

BECOMING A MANUSCRIPTS ARCHIVIST AT STROZIER

Because there was a growing need to reduce the backlog of archives and manuscripts that were gathering in Special Collections & Archives, and since additional archivists could not be hired to process university and non-university collections due to limited resources, priorities changed and I was transferred to Strozier in 2006 as the sole Special Collections archivist.  Since that time, and with the help of a student assistant, intern, and a graduate assistant, we eliminated this backlog. I supervised the students, interns, and a graduate assistant and it was great experience, because they were fascinated by the work and I enjoyed teaching and training them in archival practices for a variety of individual, family, and organizational collections.

CHANGING TECHNOLOGY

To describe these collections through archival finding aids, many of which were created in HTML, the Digital Library Center’s digital archivist created a template to encode the finding aid using the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) standard, and content was entered in the template from older finding aids and new collections with the text editor NoteTab.  After some initial training, the staff created finding aids, through NoteTab, to all of their archives and manuscript holdings (including the Shaw Collection). To present the finding aid on the web, the Digital Library Center exported the EAD content through a stylesheet using DigiTool.  I soon learned that it was not a practical tool for creating archival finding aids. There were too many false and irrelevant search results and it was not clear where in the particular collection searched the content could be found.

As more and more Special Collections repositories began using Archon, a platform for archival description and access, Special Collections & Archives decided that Archon provided a more user-friendly way for archival staff to record descriptive information about collections and digital objects and for end-users to view, search, and browse this content through the web.

However, it soon became evident that since finding aids existed in a variety of formats (Paper, HTML, DigiTool, Archon), it was difficult to discover what we really owned. Therefore, shortly after these backlogged collections were processed, I found myself part of a team headed by our Associate Dean of Special Collections, and consisting of the digital archivist, three professionals, and our library associate.   We became engaged in a major project to locate missing collections, classify collections properly as to whether they were university or non-university materials, and consolidate smaller collections into parent collections, since they were all part of one collection. Fortunately, we have now assessed what needs to be done and are in the process of parceling out projects to complete one major goal: enable discovery of our archives and manuscripts through one venue: Archon.

FAVORITE COLLECTIONS I’VE PROCESSED

As manuscript archivist, I processed quite an interesting variety of collections.  These ranged from Antebellum Civil War Plantation Records, to Florida Railroad Company records, diaries, turpentine industry records, shipbuilding company records, FSU faculty papers, and church records.  Two in particular stand out:  the Stanley Gontarski Grove Press Research Materials and the Cinema Corporation of America Collection.

The Gontarski materials were used by Dr. Gontarski to research his forthcoming book about Barney Grove Press, and Barney Rosset, founder of Grove Press. What I found particularly intriguing, and which formed a major part of this collection, were the intelligence files Gontarski obtained from Rosset’s personal papers, compiled by various branches of American intelligence (FBI, CIA, U.S. Army Intelligence) under the Freedom of Information Act. For example, there were U.S. Department of Justice and CIA memoranda regarding pornography, offensive material, and actions taken against Grove Press for importation of the film “I Am Curious Yellow” and other films deemed offensive.

Scene from Original 1927 "King of Kings" motion picture
Scene from Original 1927 “King of Kings” motion picture

The Cinema Corporation of America Collection documents film director Cecil B. De Mille’s role in the founding of the company – based in South Florida — and its film distribution activities in later years under Vice President Alan F. Martin. Through the work of this company and Martin’s activities, DeMille’s most enduring film, “The King of Kings,” has been in constant theatrical and non-theatrical distribution since 1927. The collection is a real treasure trove for documenting American motion picture history and will have great research value for students in FSU’s College of Motion Pictures Arts. In this collection can be found such unique items as a publicity photo for the original 1927 silent “King of Kings” movie, as shown below.

LOOKING AHEAD TO THE FUTURE

Now that my career in the Division of Special Collections and Archives is coming to a close in a few short months, when I reflect on my professional work, experience in processing collections, supervising projects, and training potential archivists in this field, I intend after I retire to continue my involvement in the profession by keeping abreast of developments and technology, attending conferences, and networking with colleagues in Florida and across the nation. But more than this, my real passion is to share these insights with students through teaching archival courses, and would like to contribute towards creating an archival studies program at FSU.

That I May Remember: Scrapbooks from Florida State College for Women (1905-1947)

FSCW Marching Band next to Bryan Hall
FSCW Marching Band next to Bryan Hall. Photo from the Victoria J. Lewis Scrapbook (HP-2007-079)

Florida State University Special Collections & Archives Division is proud to present our Fall 2014 exhibit, “That I May Remember: Scrapbooks from Florida State College for Women (1905-1947),” which opens today in the Strozier Library Exhibit Space. This exhibit features scrapbooks from Heritage Protocol & University Archives.

The scrapbook is an expression of memories, unique to each individual. By preserving, collecting, and arranging everyday objects, the creators of scrapbooks shaped a visual narrative of their lives. “That I May Remember” explores the scrapbooks created by the students of Florida State College for Women (1905-1947). Although scrapbooks are generally created for the preservation of an individual’s memory, when taken as a whole, the FSCW scrapbook collection grants its viewers a rare insight into the history of FSCW and the women who made it was it was.  These scrapbooks tell the stories of students’ lives, school pride, friendships, and their contributions to the heritage of Florida State University.

“That I May Remember” will be open Monday-Friday from 10:00am-6:00pm in Strozier until December 1st.

Happy Birthday Lois Lenski!

Sketch from chapter 9 of Strawberry Girl
Sketch from chapter 9 of Strawberry Girl [See Full Description]
On October 14, 1893, Lois Lenski was born in Springfield, Ohio. She grew up and lived primarily in the midwest and northeast but because of poor health, starting in the 1940s, she often traveled to the south on doctor’s orders. In 1951, Lenski and her husband, Arthur Covey, built a house in Florida and spend increasing amounts of time in the South. It was thanks to her travels and eventual move to the American South that Lenski’s greatest works were born.

Strawberry Girl, a story about Florida Crackers in the early 1900s was inspired by Lenski’s time in Florida. An installment in a set of regional novels about children around the United States, it would win her the 1946 Newberry Medal and remains her most famous work.

The Lois Lenski Collection at Florida State University was started in the 1950s when the Libraries contacted Ms. Lenski asking for “even just a page or drawing from Strawberry Girl.” Initially, Lenski sent only two drawings but in 1958, she donated a larger collection of books, original drawings, articles and other items of interest to a Lenski or children’s literature scholar.

Lois Lenski with children at the Amos Public Library, Sidney, Ohio, 1961. [See Full Description]
Lois Lenski with children at the Amos Public Library, Sidney, Ohio, 1961. [See Full Description]
In the Spring of 2013, our Lois Lenski Collection was the focus of that semester’s Museum Object class. The course, a requirement of the Museum Studies minor at FSU, gives students a hands-on experience within the museum field. It requires the class to curate and design both a physical and online exhibit on their topic. You can view the online exhibit here.

You have the best job ever! A week in the life of a University Archivist

As a University Archivist, each day brings unique challenges, and every day is different. What most people don’t realize are the variety of duties, responsibilities, and actions that take place to keep everything moving forward to acquire, preserve, and provide access to Florida State’s historical collections. In the course of a week, a multitude of activities take place.

FSCW-ScrapbookExhibit-5x7_Page_1Outreach is one of my main duties, and at the top of the list this week is printing and mounting all of the visual components, and then staging everything for our upcoming exhibit on Florida State College for Women’s Scrapbooks. For this project I also get to supervise and mentor two great graduate assistants, work on a postcard, reception, and logistics for all of that. Giving presentations and instruction to support classes on campus is another outreach activity. I presented on using our finding aids database Archon, how to find materials in the FSU Digital Library, and the important aspects of creating oral histories to ensure their long-term preservation and access. Students will make appointments and come in to meet with me and to look at primary resources for their projects. Their topic is FSU students and their experiences, right up our alley! I also spend time on ideas and posts for Facebook, and writing blog posts like these to get the word out about what we do.

view
First summer in new president’s house. Dr. Doak S. Campbell and Mrs. Edna Simmons Campbell, 1948

Every week I receive multiple requests for materials, most often images for use on the web, in print, and for events. The bulk of the requests I receive are from other departments on campus, especially administration. For example, University Communications contacted us to provide historic images for the President’s House that we will scan and provide for them to print. We have provided images for the scoreboard at Doak Campbell Stadium, for galas, for the newspaper, for student projects, and for local media outlets.

West Florida Seminary Seal
West Florida Seminary Seal

To administer Heritage Protocol & University Archives requires quite a few meetings with groups inside and outside of the libraries. Meetings this week include those to discuss how our Special Collections & Archives reading room operates, how the libraries support scholarly communications, and how the University Archives will preserve all of FSU’s historic seals and logos.I also meet with other departments on campus about transferring their records to the University Archives, which acts as the official repository for FSU.

 

OctoberArchivesMonthFlorida

Professional roles often cross over, and as President of the Society of Florida Archivists, my goal is  to support the profession by collaborating with other archivist across the state and providing support to new professionals. In addition to my duties as FSU, organizing and planning activities for Archives Month this October, and our annual meeting next May in Miami, I stay busy, but also connected to other archivists and institutions across the state which in turn enhances my abilities at FSU. I also participate in different committees and activities related to the Society of American Archivists.

This is one week, and certainly not all that I do as an archivist, but it certainly goes beyond sitting in a dusty room sifting through boxes of old papers (I like doing that too). The collections we have are rich and full of the evidence of the people who created them illustrating FSU over time, including faculty, staff, and students. When I explain to people what an archivist is and what I do here at Heritage Protocol & University Archives, they often exclaim, “You have the best job ever!”

Yes, yes I do.

 

Farewell, Renegade V

This past weekend at the FSU vs. Wake Forest football game, one of FSU’s most beloved members was honored with a retirement ceremony. While he doesn’t play football or coach athletes, he is known for his tireless training and impeccable composure on the field. I’m talking about none other than Renegade V, the fifth horse bestowed with one of Florida State’s most prestigious titles. Renegade V’s last performance was at the 2013 BCS National Championship, but has since lost vision in his right eye due to a medical condition. Renegade V has been performing with Chief Osceola since 2000.

renegade1
Renegade IV’s Retirement Ceremony, 2000. Photo by Ryals Lee.

The Renegade Program was started in 1978 by Bill Durham, 25 years after he originally proposed the the idea for the 1962 FSU Homecoming. His vision for a lone Chief Osceola mounted atop a leopard appaloosa, galloping onto the field and planting a flaming spear before kickoff picked up traction after he approached new head football coach, Bobby Bowden, in 1976. Coach Bowden loved the idea and after securing permission from the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Chief Osceola and Renegade premiered at the 1978 Oklahoma State game. Jim Kidder, the first student to assume the role of Chief Osceola, described the selection process as secretive – he didn’t even know what he was auditioning for until he won the position, saying that “they tried to keep it a secret as long as they could.

The Renegade Program is truly a family affair. Since its inception, Bill Durham and his wife Patty both had a hand in training  Chief Osceola and Renegade. In 2002, Bill Durham passed the reins of the program to his son Allen, who had previously been Chief Osceola from 1992-1994. Since the 70s, the Durhams have truly established one of college football’s most beloved traditions.

planting_of_the_spear
Chief Osceola and Renegade V plant the spear at the 2013 BCS National Championship. GIF courtesy SB Nation and ESPN.

 

Check  back for photos of Renegade V’s Retirement Ceremony!

Scrapbooks: the Original Social Media

The Special Collections & Archives graduate assistants, Rebecca L. Bramlett and I, are busy preparing for the opening of our exhibit next Wednesday, October 15th. “That I May Remember: the Scrapbooks of Florida State College for Women (1905-1947)” showcases many of the scrapbooks from the Heritage Protocol & University Archives’ collections and explores the scrapbook as a means of communication, focusing on the themes of school spirit, friendship, and creating self. With each scrapbook we opened, Rebecca and I were struck by the way the unique personalities of the women of FSCW jumped off the pages at us. As a whole, the FSCW scrapbooks provide an invaluable insight into what student life was like at one of the largest women’s colleges in the country – a college with rigorous academics, zealous sporting traditions, vibrant community life, and even secret societies. Individually, they present a visual narrative of each student’s college journey, as seen through her own eyes. Which got me thinking… As a means of creating and communicating self, the FSCW scrapbooks operate in much the same way that popular forms of social media do for students today.

 

Facebook

Laura Quayle Benson Scrapbook Autograph Page
Autograph page from the Laura Quayle Benson Scrapbook, 1917-1919 (HP-2007-041)

Wall posts, friends, messages, memes, event invitations, and “likes” – these conventions are not reserved for the twenty-first century. Many of the FSCW scrapbooks, like Laura Quayle Benson’s (pictured right), contain autograph pages signed by the scrapbook creator’s friends. Like a Facebook wall, these pages list a person’s friends along with personal notes from each of them. Some of the notes seem to be the generic words of a passing acquaintance (“With best wishes”), while others are rich with suggestions of inside jokes (“I love Laura ‘heaps’ – I wonder if (?) does?”). The scrapbooks are full of other forms of communication between friends and family – letters, notes, calling cards, package slips, greeting cards, and telegrams. Invitations to join sports teams, honor societies, and sororities are given pride of place as signs of belonging to a group, and collections of event programs read like a personal news feed of where each girl was on a given date. Flipping through the FSCW scrapbooks is a bit like scrolling through each girl’s Facebook wall. It gives one a sense of who she was at a certain point in her life – who she was friends with, what she did, what her interests were – even if the deeper, more personal meanings of the scrapbooks are sometimes obscured from the outside observer.

 

Annie Gertrude Gilliam Scrapbook Page
A page from the Annie Gertrude Gilliam Scrapbook, 1925-1931 (HP-2007-121)

Tumblr and Pinterest

Creating a scrapbook is an act of curation – carefully selecting texts and images and arranging them in a meaningful way. Although the creators of scrapbooks manipulate physical objects, users of sites like Pinterest and Tumblr use digital media to create collections of text, image, video, and sound meant to express something of themselves. The scrapbook of Annie Gertrude Gilliam (pictured left) contains many excellent examples of well-curated pages. Her clippings from advertisements, theater bills, and magazines are carefully arranged and replete with lively commentary (“A real knock out,” “Exciting and thrilling to the end”). These pages speak of a timeless need to organize our thoughts, express ourselves visually, and voice our opinions, whether in a private scrapbook or a public webpage.

 

Instagram

Jewell Genevieve Cooper Scrapbook Page
A page from the Jewell Genevieve Cooper Scrapbook, 1924-1930 (HP-2007-089)

Photographs are a common feature of almost all of the FSCW scrapbooks, and many of these photos include captions written by the scrapbook’s creator, such as those by Jewell Genevieve Cooper (pictured right). Photos in scrapbooks are, in a sense, “tagged” by the scrapbook creator. Jewell Genevieve Cooper’s “tags” tell us what the photos are of (an Odd-Even baseball game, one of FSCW’s wildly popular inter-school rivalries) and who is in them. These social layers added to photographs in scrapbooks are similar to the tags and descriptions users add to photos in social media sites like Instagram. Even though a picture says a thousand words, we can’t seem to resist adding our own words anyway.

 

The FSCW scrapbooks give a unique window into student life as told by the students themselves. While the scrapbooks present plenty of cataloging and preservation challenges for archivists, they are at least physical objects that can be stored and displayed as such. Students today are also telling their own stories, but they are doing so through social media sites like Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram. How these stories will be preserved and shared with future generations remains to be seen and is a question beyond the scope of this blog post. In the meantime, “That I May Remember: the Scrapbooks of Florida State College for Women (1905-1947)” will be on display in the Strozier Library Exhibit Space from October 15th through December 1st.

Katherine Hoarn is a graduate assistant in Special Collections & Archives. She is working on her Master of Library and Information Science degree at Florida State University.

October is Archives Month

The Special Collections & Archives Division is celebrating American Archives Month which is celebrated every October by archivists throughout the United States.

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.

This month, Illuminations will share behind the scenes posts about what our archivists do here at FSU and how we contribute both to the success of our patrons and the FSU Libraries as a whole. We’re also participating in the Society of Florida Archivists Archive Month festivities, which this year includes an exhibit on the theme Weird Florida, celebrating all that is weird and wonderful about our state.

Let Archives Month commence!