Black and white illustration taken from The Gashlycrumb Tinies of a two little girls at a table, one skeletal and dead, presumably related to the large bottle atop the table. It is captioned “Z is for Zillah who drank too much gin."

Scary Books for Children?: Edward Gorey in the Marsha Gontarski Children’s Literature Collection

This is a guest-post by students Josalin Hughes and Julia Kleser, Editing, Writing, and Media majors, whose project for their Advanced Writing and Editing course this semester is to help create content highlighting portions of Special Collections holdings. 
Black and white illustration of a group of children in the shadow of a tall, skeletal man titled The Gashlycrumb Tinies.
Child-rearing, Gorey style .

As we progress from the otherworldly and spooky atmosphere of October and deeper into the holiday spirit of November, it can be hard to let go of Halloween. After all, the exciting and haunting energy has been building since the first of the month. We hope everyone had a happy Halloween and want to introduce the work of an author near and dear to our hearts. Edward Gorey was a curious character who created spectacular—or spooktacular, rather, to stay in-season—books for children. Although not gory, as his name may suggest, some readers describe his art as “unnerving” or “creepy.” Marsha Gontarski, the researcher who compiled and donated the entire Marsha GontarskiChildren’s Literature Collection, refers to his style as “subtle and unsettling.”

Girl on Fire

Black and white illustration taken from “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” of a little girl surrounded by a large flame in an otherwise dark room. It is captioned “R is for Rhoda consumed by a fire."
Rhoda on fire!

One of the most well-known works, and perhaps most suitable for this recently passed holiday, is The Gashlycrumb Tinies which you can find in the Marsha Gontarski Collection. As pictured below, the poem takes on the form of a traditional alphabet-style book. Where Gorey’s version differs though, is the somewhat disturbing subject matter of each letter; from Amy to Zillah, each letter names a child who dies in a tragic, absurdor nonsensical way.

The darker tone of the poem bleeds in through the images that accompany the single-line deaths. Each illustration is inked in heavy, purposeful strokes in all black. Without the variation of color, his style relies on different textures and contrast to tell each morbid tale.

Creepy Baby and Bug Book

Illustration taken from An Edward Gorey Bestiary (1984) of a colorful naked baby on a white polar bear skin rug against a black hatched background. It is captioned “The baby, lying meek and quiet upon the customary rug, has dreams about rampage and riot, and will grow up to be a thug."
Baby from Bestiary

Even outside of The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Gorey’s other work carries this same eerie quality, one which inspired well-liked artists such as Tim Burton. Taken from his 1984 engagement calendar, An Edward Gorey Bestiary, are a few illustrations that mirror the unsettling style seen in The Gashlycrumb Tinies, with some splashes of color. Although his style may vary to include a more clean and colorful appearance, the stories he tells remain a little ghastly.

 

Bug Book

 

In The Bug Book, Gorey follows the lives of a family of delightfully cute and colorful bugs, and their murderous plot against the black bug who didn’t quite fit in with their lifestyle.

 

 

What makes a children’s book?

Black and white illustration taken from The Gashlycrumb Tinies of a two little girls at a table, one skeletal and dead, presumably related to the large bottle atop the table. It is captioned “Z is for Zillah who drank too much gin."
More dead children.

Despite the more mature themes of his illustrated poems and short stories, such as death/murder, violence, and alcoholism, his works are often regarded as being made for children. This poses a question of what makes “a children’s book,” an element explored throughout the works included in the Marsha Gontarski Collection. Do illustration-heavy works fall into the category of being “for kids,” simply due to our societal understanding that picture books are childlike in nature? Do children pay attention to the same themes and motifs that catch the eyes of adults? These questions are prevalent in the discussion around Gorey’s work, and can be asked again and again as we make our way through literature assigned to the genre of children’s books.

Two books Dr. Gontarski recommended for those examining this subject include The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettleheim and Don’t tell the Grown-ups: Subversive Children’s Literature by Alison Laurie..

Balefully Although the season of ghosts, vampires, and bogeymen has ended, the spirit of the dark and disturbed doesn’t have to. Edward Gorey has a lot of works that we were unable to include in this post—be sure to come visit them in the Special Collections Reading Room, open Monday to Thursday, 10am – 6pm, or Friday 10am – 5:30pm. The reading room is on the first floor of Strozier Library. Gorey’s books, as well as so many other works using visual elements designed for children, are available in the Marsha Gontarski Collection.

Recapping Archives Month at FSU

October is a special month for those us in the archives. It’s an entire month to celebrate our collections and, more importantly, our work which is often shrouded in mystery. Even for our co-workers in libraries. So, archivists have embraced American Archives Month, held every October, as a way to share what it is we do.

Visitors to our FSU Faculty & Staff Open House on October 26, 2018
Visitors to our FSU Faculty & Staff Open House on October 26, 2018

For us here in Special Collections & Archives this year, we started October by participating in #AskAnArchivist day on October 3, 2018, by staging a takeover of the FSU Libraries twitter feed, answering questions and participating in discussions that happened all over the Twittersphere. You can check out the hashtag #AskAnArchivist and the FSU Libraries twitter page to catch up on those tweets.

We had some celebration of the month here on the blog. We opened a new exhibit on protest in poetry, highlighted our Artist Book and Napoleon collections, shared a new digital collection available in our digital library, talked about our new records on FSU presidents, and looked for the spooky side of Special Collections for Halloween.

Special Collections & Archives hosted our first Open House for Archives Month this year for our faculty and staff here in FSU Libraries. We hope to grow this event in the coming years so more people on campus and in the community can come and see our collections and talk to us about our work.

Lastly, we also had our annual tradition of visiting Paul Dirac’s gravesite and cleaning the headstone. Dirac, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, retired to Tallahassee and taught at FSU while he lived here. Upon his death, his papers and collections came here to FSU and is a cornerstone collection to our History of Science materials.

Cleaning Dirac's headstone at Roselawn Cemetery, October 30, 2018
Cleaning Dirac’s headstone at Roselawn Cemetery, October 30, 2018

 

Working with the Napoleon Collection

A guest post by Brianna McLean, who currently works in Special Collections and the Heritage Museum.  She is a history graduate student working on her M.A. in Early Modern European History.

This semester, I have been working with our Rare Books Librarian, Rachel Duke, and learning about the Napoleon Collection here in Special Collections.  As a history graduate student studying Early Modern France, this collection has been extra rewarding to examine.  There are so many exciting pieces, such as Napoleon’s death mask, Eighteenth-century manuscripts, documents about France’s colonies and women during the time, newspapers, pamphlets, secondary scholarship on France, and more.  The best part is that all of these items are just waiting inside Strozier Library to be examined and studied.

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Napoleon’s Death Mask

The Napoleon Collection is particularly strong when it comes to Napoleon’s military campaigns and works by and about prominent French Revolutionary and military figures.  The collection includes works by Napoleon, Marie Antoinette, Robespierre, Marat, and more.  For me, the best part of this collection are the memoirs.  Memoirs are one of my favorite parts of history because you can learn so much about a person by what they wanted to portray to the public about themselves.  Some of the memoirs are even digitized in E-book form, available on databases like Hathi Trust if researchers want online access as well. But FSU has our own digital repository, Diginole, and some Napoleonic manuscripts are accessible there, such as this 1772 regiment list of revenues and expenses.

In 2018, Special Collections received an incredible donation to the Napoleon Collection: the Michael La Vean Collection.  This over-4000-book collection is the perfect addition to the Napoleon Collection because it adds new dimensions, such as an increase in women’s narratives.  Researchers may be interested in this collection because of its emphasis on gender studies, history of sex, European naval history, military uniforms, and the history of European royalty.  Currently, Special Collections is preparing to catalog the La Vean Collection to make it accessible to researchers.

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Walking through the La Vean Collection. 

When collections are donated, they are usually kept in the same order as the donor, or creator, gave them, until they can be ordered by call number.  As a library and museum assistant, I feel fortunate to be able to view the collection in its original order.  La Vean organized his collection topically into different subjects such as “Medieval,” “Vendee & French Civil War,” “Women General,” “Napoleon Family,” and “Naval,” among others.  This semester, I am learning about this collection and figuring out the most important items and what should be cataloged first.  Researchers are encouraged to visit Special Collections with any inquiries about the collection while it is being processed.

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More La Vean spines. 

This is just a small glimpse into our French Revolution Collections. If you are interested in seeing what the Napoleon Collection has to offer, please stop by Special Collections and visit the library catalog, setting “Strozier, Napoleon Collection” as your location.

 

 

 

Ghostly Tales and Spooky Poems

One fine morning last week Tallahassee finally experienced its first yearly sign of fall (a slightly chilled breeze). You know what that means – it’s time to start chugging pumpkin spice flavored everything and devouring gratuitous amounts of candy corn! Those jack o’lanterns aren’t going to carve themselves folks, and Halloween is just around the corner. Meanwhile, we at Special Collections & Archives would like to celebrate by highlighting some of our more spooky stories and poems.

  • Fall of the House of Usher – Based on the classic Edgar Allan Poe short story of the same name, this beautiful graphic novel features the work of P. Craig Russell, an award-winning illustrator and the first openly gay, mainstream comic book artist. Comic-book fans should also check out our Will Eisner collection of comic books and graphic novels. Those who enjoy Poe (or music) may also be interested in the opera version of this story, available via Special Collections and in the Allen Music Library

Witch Poems 02 (2)

  • Witch Poems – No Halloween celebration would be complete without witches. This book highlights eighteen poems about witches, penned by various authors and accompanied by chillingly impressive illustrations from decorated artist Trina Hyman. Poetry lovers might also enjoy another book from our collection, featured as this article’s cover image, called Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep. Speaking of witches, don’t forget to check out our works on Scottish History and Witchcraft.

If these ghostly tales and spooky poems don’t scare you enough, then come on down to the Special Collections for a tour and we’ll show you our creepy clown statues. Just a fair warning – they tend to move around when no one’s looking.

 

Records Transfer from the State Archives of Florida: FSU Presidential Files

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Files transferred from the State Archives.

This post is part of our series celebrating American Archives Month. Special Collections & Archives also did a Twitter Takeover of the @fsulibraries feed for #AskAnArchivist day so be sure to check out those conversations. 

The State Archives of Florida serves as the Record Center for Florida State University, meaning they hold our non-current records according to state law, and then either destroy them or retain them if they have historic value. Before Heritage & University Archives got its start, many records made their way there that would normally have been kept on campus. Last December, the State Archives transferred 330 linear feet of records back into FSU’s custody. Included in these collections are files from various University Presidential administrations, such as Edward Conradi, Stanley Marshall, and Bernard Sliger. These records contain correspondence from various administrators and community members to the Office of the President, files on campus committees, and material from meeting with statewide groups.

box label
Florida State University Office of the President: Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte Subject Files, Box 5

Other collections we received include the files of the Office of the Executive Vice President’s Administration Files from 1973-1976, Bob E. Leach’s Speech Files, and files on several of FSU’s Doctoral Programs. These collections have been especially helpful for understanding how the university functioned at any given time, how many of our campus organizations were formed, and the progress of many campus initiatives. For example, in the Office of the President: Stanley Marshall Administrative Files, we found the university’s plan to implement Affirmative Action. Throughout the subsequent Presidents’ files, we see updates on the status of Affirmative Action on campus.

Affirmative Action
Documents found in the Florida State University Office of the President: Stanley Marshall Administration Files, Box 3

These collections are not processed but are available to the public to view. If you are interested in viewing these collections, please contact Sandra Varry the Heritage & University Archivist to arrange a visit.

Poetry in Protest, a new Exhibit in Strozier Library

Poetry in Protest

Poetry can be a powerful tool for eliciting emotion and is frequently used to express dissent or advocate for change. FSU Special Collections & Archives’ latest exhibition, “Poetry in Protest,” explores the genres, tactics, and voices of poets that write against the existing world and imagine societal revolution.

As a means of delving into the subject, the exhibition begins with poet Michael Rothenberg’s work in developing the global event 100 Thousand Poets for Change, where poets around the world read in support of “Peace, Justice, and Sustainability.” While some of the materials on display are explicitly poetry responding to some aspect of the status quo, others are less direct in their means of protest. Poetry containing eroticism that is transgressive push back against societal norms of sex and love; works written in dialects or languages of the oppressed insist upon the existence of those voices in the world.

The selections from FSU Libraries’ Special Collections encompass nearly 2,500 years of poetical dissent, including Sappho, William Wordsworth, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, Tupac Shakur, and many more. Materials from the Michael Rothenberg Collection are on display for the first time since their recent acquisition as well.

Stop by this Fall and take a tour of some of the greatest voices of protest poetry in history through this exhibition of items from FSU’s Special Collections & Archives. This exhibit is located in the Exhibit Room on the first floor of Strozier Library. It is open Monday to Thursday, 10am to 6pm and on Fridays from 10am to 5:30pm.

Girl’s Own Paper

This post is part of our series celebrating American Archives Month. Last week, Special Collections & Archives did a Twitter Takeover of the @fsulibraries feed for #AskAnArchivist day so be sure to check out those conversations. 

The Digital Library Center has been busy loading material into DigiNole, and one of the most recent additions is the Girl’s Own Paper. Written for young girls and women and published in the United Kingdom from 1880 to the 1950s, the primary content of these papers consist of educational articles, fashion advice editorials, poetry, and fictional stories. 

Though hundreds of years old, much of the content found in this collection is still relevant today. The theory and instructional methods for learning guitar, for example, haven’t changed much after all these years. Each issue also includes beautiful illustrations to accompany the textual content as seen in the lesson below.

Page from The Girl's Own Paper Volume 2, Issue 61. February 26, 1881 [See original object]
Page from The Girl’s Own Paper Volume 2, Issue 61. February 26, 1881 [See original object]
Several volumes have already been added to DigiNole and more will be uploaded until the collection is complete. The existing issues of Girl’s Own Annual and Girl’s Own Paper can be found here.

We are working hard to get the entire collection uploaded for users to access and are still early in the process of digitizing this set of material. To reduce the strain on our internal storage servers, this collection is being digitized at about 4 volumes per batch. Once a batch is successfully uploaded, we purge those images from our servers to make room for new images and we then start working on the next set of volumes.

We’ve got a long way to go, so check back often to see what new material we’re adding to this charming collection!

Artist Books Collection Continues to Grow

This post kicks off a month of posts celebrating American Archives Month. Yesterday, Special Collections & Archives did a Twitter Takeover of the @fsulibraries feed for #AskAnArchivist day so be sure to check out those conversations. 

This post is written by Melissa Quarles, Special Collections & Archives’ new graduate assistant. You’ll be hearing more from her over the next year but today she highlights our artists’ books.

For the past two years, Florida State University (FSU) has been steadily growing its collection of artists’ books, which are currently housed in Special Collections & Archives. These unique works blur the boundaries between art and literature, encouraging readers to question How Books Work and what they mean to each of us. Anne Evenhaugen, the head librarian at the Smithsonian’s American Art and Portrait Gallery Library, describes artists’ books as “a medium of artistic expression that uses the form or function of ‘book’ as inspiration. It is the artistic initiative seen in the illustration, choice of materials, creation process, layout and design that makes it an art object.” The difference between a regular book and an artist’s book is determined primarily by the creator’s intentional treatment and presentation of the materials.

A few earlier posts highlighted new and interesting artists’ books in our collection. The books we house encompass a wide range of genres, forms, and topics. We have several books that feature poetry, such as Indra’s Net by Bea Nettles. This beautifully marbled paper scroll features a poem by Grace Nettles (the artist’s mother) printed over a spider web design. Attached to the inside of the lid, a small silver bell rings to evoke the memories described in the text. The original poem, from a book called Corners, can be found in our collection as well.

Artists’ books are often multi-sensory experiences. Music for Teacups, a joint venture by Melissa Haviland and David Colagiovanni, is part of a larger project “investigating the destructive moment of a breaking piece of family tableware to highlight family dynamics, upbringing, inheritance, etiquette, and issues of class. ‘Music for Teacups’… rhythmically dissects the poetic moment of a falling and breaking teacup as it sounds during its last second as a complete object.” (description from Haviland’s website). The work consists of an accordion fold booklet of cut-outs shaped like teacups, as well as a 45rpm record of the accompanying music. However, since we have no playback equipment, patrons who wish to listen to the piece are directed to this sample video (from Colagiovanni’s website).

Many of our artists’ books offer political and social commentary or center on issues such as human rights. One such work is Bitter Chocolate by Julie Chen. The book itself is shaped like a large bar of chocolate, which unfolds like a Jacob’s ladder. Each panel is connected by magnets, so that they can be unfolded to reveal four different sides. The unique tactile and structural aspects of the piece are a staple feature of Chen’s work, but the content is equally compelling. Two of the sides narrate a story about the mythical Mayan chocolate goddess, “Cacao Woman.” The goddess rejoices in the widespread love of chocolate among humans, but also laments the chocolate industry’s reliance on forced child labor, abuse, and trafficking. The other two sides feature the author’s personal memories and experiences with chocolate, as well as facts about its production worldwide.

FSU students, alumni, visitors, and the general public are invited to visit Special Collections & Archives and check out our rich collection of artist books. Patrons may also wish to explore how to make their own art books. Many of our works include explanations of the printing and construction processes, and we even have books designed to elicit inspiration for budding artists. FSU also has its own publisher, the Small Craft Advisory Press. Other resources, articles, books, and artist websites are listed below.

Resources:

Articles/Books:

Artists:

The Bulletins of Tallahassee’s First Baptist Church

Through an ongoing collaboration with The First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, we have been working to digitize and share all of the church’s published bulletins from the 1930s through today. This collaboration is one of several FSU Libraries’ projects aimed at bringing community collections online.

The First Baptist Church’s bulletins typically consist of community updates, upcoming events, Sunday programs, and other information centered around the congregation. Each pamphlet contains photos and unique illustrations related to the events occurring at the time.

Page from The Voice of the First Baptist Church Volume 21. Number 19, October 23rd, 1986
Page from The Voice of the First Baptist Church Volume 21. Number 19, October 23rd, 1986 [See original object]
As we continue adding more material to this collection in DigiNole, visitors can gain a better understanding of what life was like in Tallahassee from the perspective of the church. The first three batches of bulletins up to 1989 are now available while those printed in the 1990s will be uploaded next month.

The bulletins are just one phase of this collaboration with The First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, so keep an eye out for future updates to see what’s coming up next.

Updating the Heritage Museum

A guest post by Brianna McLean, currently working with Heritage & University Archives on exhibit development.

Dodd Hall Library, ca. 1920s (Jewell Genevieve Cooper Scrapbook, 1924-1930).  http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/1925009
Dodd Hall Library, ca. 1920s (Jewell Genevieve Cooper Scrapbook, 1924-1930). http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/1925009

Starting with the institution’s inception as the Seminary West of the Suwannee River in 1851, a new exhibit I’ve been working on for the Heritage Museum follows the timeline of Florida State University through important historic milestones: the Civil War; Florida State College and Florida State College for Women (FSCW); the World Wars; Integration and the Civil Rights Movement; the rapid development through the end of the 20th Century; and today.

If you are new to campus and have not had a chance to stop by the Heritage Museum in Dodd Hall, it is a quiet place to study, read, and relax during your busy week. The museum is the location of the original library for FSU, which makes it the perfect location on campus to learn about FSU’s history and enjoy the gorgeous Collegiate Gothic architecture and iconic stained glass. This building functioned as FSU’s library from its construction in 1923 until Robert Manning Strozier Library was built in 1956. Dr. William George Dodd was born in 1874 and served as an English professor of the Florida State College for Women and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1910-1944. He contributed greatly to FSU, including publishing History of West Florida Seminary in 1952.

Dodd Hall Library, 1964 (FSU Historical Photographs Collection). http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/124370
Dodd Hall Library, 1964 (FSU Historical Photographs Collection). http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/124370

As a researcher for this new exhibit, I had the pleasure of learning all about FSU and all the people who made it possible to attend school here today. As a student at FSU since 2012, first as an undergraduate and now as a graduate student, I thought that I knew a great deal about FSU’s history. After combing through numerous books, articles, documents, and photographs, I realized there are so many hidden gems to be found in our history. Some of my favorite stories include the origin of garnet and gold, the traditions of the women of FSCW, the history of protest on our campus, and our relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. One of the most comprehensive collections on FSU’s history is the FSU Historical Photograph Collection, from which most of the images in the exhibit will come. Some of the best secondary resources include the works of Dr. William Dodd, Mike Rashotte, Robin Sellers, Gerald Ensley, and Dr. Jennifer Koslow.

Dodd Hall Today, taken with my phone.
Dodd Hall Today, taken with my phone.

Interested in donating to the Heritage Fund or materials to the Archive? Please contact Heritage & University Archivist, Sandra Varry.

Heritage Museum Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10am-4pm. For up-to-date museum and library hours, please visit, https://fsu.libcal.com/hours/.