Mittan: A Retrospective is the photographic exhibit currently on display in the Special Collections and Archives gallery space in Strozier Library. The works of J. Barry Mittan candidly capture the student experience at Florida State University in the 1960s and 1970s. As a student and photographer for numerous campus publications, including the Tally-Ho yearbook and Florida Flambeau newspaper, Mittan often photographed students at official university-sponsored events and spontaneous student gatherings alike. Through his documentation of sporting events, Greek life, protests, concerts, study sessions, socials, and so on, he was able to construct a comprehensive view of FSU student life in which individuals banded together to share a common voice in an age of social change. Mittan’s unique perspective as a student informed his photographic purpose to see the individuals among the crowd.
Please join us for a closing reception celebrating the photographic works of J. Barry Mittan tonight from 5-7pm! The reception will be held in the Special Collections Gallery on the first floor of Strozier Library. The exhibit closes on February 8th.
As previous posts have shown, the work of Special Collections & Archives staff is not confined to the walls of the library. We love being able to get out into the community, so Associate Dean of Special Collections Katie McCormick and I jumped at the chance to attend the Burns’ Supper hosted by the St. Andrew Society of Tallahassee on Saturday, January 23rd at Westminster Oaks. The Burns’ Supper is a celebration of the life and works of Scotland’s National Poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796), which was begun by Robert Burns’s friends in 1801 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of his death. It is traditionally held on or around January 25th, Burns’s birthday, and commences with the famous “Address to Haggis,” followed by the eating of haggis with tatties and neeps (mashed potatoes and turnips). It was my first time trying haggis, and, I must say, it was delicious! The evening continued with dinner, toasts and poetry recitations, and a wonderful performance of Scottish music and songs set to Burns’s poetry put on by the FSU School of Music.
FSU Special Collections & Archives has over one-hundred editions of Burns’s poetry in our John MacKay Shaw Childhood Poetry and Scottish Collections, as well as many more volumes on the history, culture, and literature of Scotland. John MacKay Shaw was a founding member of the St. Andrew Society of Tallahassee, and his impressive book collection includes the famous Kilmarnock edition of Burns’s poetry, published in Edinburgh in 1786. Each year, the St. Andrew Society of Tallahassee generously provides us with a donation to support the upkeep and development of our Scottish Collection. At this year’s Burns’ Supper, we received an extra treat when society member Ken Sinclair presented FSU Special Collections & Archives with an 1873 Edinburgh imprint of The Complete Works of Robert Burns which had been passed down in his family for several generations. We look forward to adding this book to our collections, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s Burns Night!
This blog post sources a timeline researched and compiled by Mary Kate Downing.
Happy birthday, Florida State! Can you believe that it’s only been 165 years since the Florida Legislature (then the General Assembly of the State of Florida) passed an act that led to our inception as an institution? We can’t either! …especially since only until fairly recently, it was widely accepted that FSU’s founding day was in 1857, and not 1851 as we now know. Why all the confusion? This isn’t a situation of FSU lying to get senior discount on movie tickets. Yes, FSU’s predecessor institution, the State Seminary West of the Suwannee River, didn’t open its doors until 1857, but there was a lot more going on for 6 years before its grand opening.
On January 24, 1851, the General Assembly of the State of Florida passed an act establishing two seminaries of learning, one to the east and one to the west of the Suwannee River. It wasn’t until 1854 when the Tallahassee City Council offered to pay $10,000 to finance a new school building on land owned by the city in an attempt to “bid on” being the location of the seminary west of the Suwannee, which the legislature had yet to decide. The $10,000 consisted of the value of the property, the yet-to-be-constructed building, and the remaining balance in cash. Approximately $6,000 was originally committed, with the Council promising to give the city the remaining balance if Tallahassee was determined as the location of the seminary west of the Suwannee. Later in 1854, construction on a school building began and Tallahassee’s city superintendent approached the state legislature to present the case for the seminary to be in Tallahassee. However, state officials failed to make a decision regarding the location of the seminary before the end of the legislative session.
By 1855, the newly constructed College Hall (in the area that is now Westcott Building) opens. Because of the state legislature’s lack of a decision on whether it would be one of the legislature-designated seminaries, it was not given an official name. Instead, it was alternately called “The City Seminary” and “Tallahassee Male Seminary.”
In 1856, the ball got rolling as the City Council of Tallahassee (hereafter referred to as the Board of Trustees of the Florida Institute) met and designated “The City Seminary” as the “Florida Institute.” It also indicated that “government of the institution or seminary shall be under the direction of a president” and decided that “a preparatory school will be established in connection with the academic or collegiate department of the institute.” It is established that one of the president’s duties will be to publish a “Catalogue Course of Studies” for the institution. Later in 1856, William (W.Y.) Peyton, previously principal of The City Seminary, is unanimously elected by the Board of Trustees of the Florida Institute as first president of the Institute.
By late 1856, the General Assembly passed legislation declaring that “the Seminary to be located West of the Suwannee River be, and the same is hereby located at the City of Tallahassee in the County of Leon.” There were several conditions that must be granted for this to occur – “the proper and authorized conveyance of said Lot and College edifice thereon be made to the City of Tallahassee to the Board of Education,” that Tallahassee “guarantee to said Board of Education the payment of the sum of two thousand dollars per annum forever, to be expended in the education of the youth of said City, in such manner and on such terms as shall be agreed between the corporate authorities of said City and the Board of Education,” and that Tallahassee “shall pay to the Board of Education as much money in cash as shall be found necessary after a valuation of the Lot and College edifice aforesaid, to complete the sum of ten thousand dollars.”
With all of the requirements fulfilled, the State Seminary West of the Suwannee River was allowed to open its doors and so began FSU’s long history.
The Florida County and City Histories Collection comprises two boxes of essays written by students at the Florida State College for Women in 1922 and 1923. These essays consist of research into the history and culture of certain cities and counties across the state of Florida from Dade County, to Jacksonville, to Pensacola. The essays provide an interesting glimpse into the methods of 1920s academic writing, whereby papers were researched without the convenience of the Internet and were written by hand, absent of formatting, style guides, and citations. This collection is now digitized and available through the FSU Digital Library.
In order to digitally scan the Florida County and City Histories Collection the ties and brads that bound the essays together had to carefully and meticulously be removed so as not to damage the nearly century-old documents. This practice, the delicate removal of hardware and binding materials, is part of a process aptly called processing, in which the archivist takes steps to ensure the preservation of the archival documents.
Once the ties and hardware were removed from the essays the individual pages were ready to be digitized. In the cultural heritage field, we use a fancy word called digitization to refer to the digital photographing or scanning and online presentation of physical materials. In this case, the records were scanned on a state-of-the-art flatbed scanner (which is worth more than my car) in order to capture high quality images in a short amount of time.
In order to provide access to the images of the essays online, one of the most important steps of digitization is collecting and organizing the metadata. Metadata, in my opinion, is a scary word that refers to the abstract concept of information about information. In all reality, metadata is the set of data that describes a piece of information. In this case the piece of information is the essay and the data describing it includes details such as the language it was written in and size of the paper. After organizing the metadata into a spreadsheet it is then converted into a code, presumably by means of magic or sorcery, by the Metadata Librarian.
The last step of digitization is to gather up all the metadata code and the digital images into a queue that is uploaded onto the Digital Library’s server and arranged according to the instructions in the code. Because the magical code tells all the little bits of information how to look and how to behave, the text and images appear in a way that is ergonomically and aesthetically pleasing to the viewer.
And that’s the behind the scenes of the digitization process. Check out the Florida County and City Histories to evaluate for yourselves!
Britt Boler is currently the graduate assistant for FSU’s Special Collections & Archives division.
After the successful transport and unloading of the Marsha Gontarski Children’s Literature Collection, I began the process of creating an inventory of all the books in the collection — an excel spreadsheet that is currently at 300 entries and steadily growing. This spreadsheet will serve not only as a record of all the books received in the donation but also as a place to keep track of all the categorizations, ephemera, and notes that came with the collection.
For each book, I am recording the title, author, illustrator, publisher, date of publication, and category/subject, as well as any notes about articles, book reviews, and author/illustrator signatures included in the books. Newspaper clippings and publisher’s press releases laid in need to be removed in order to prevent acidic inks and papers from causing damage to the books, but making notes of where everything came from on the spreadsheet will allow us to go back and link books and archival materials where they are relevant to understanding the collection.
The real, searchable, catalog entries for each book will be created by our Cataloging and Description Department in the next stage of the accessioning journey. The inventory spreadsheet is informal in that it does not use any of the standard languages that our catalogers use to improve information accessibility, but it will be important to us in understanding and thus promoting the collection to potential researchers.
While spreadsheet creation and data entry may not seem like the most thrilling line of work, going through this collection book by book has been a lot of fun. The real challenge is not stopping to read each book along the way. Some of the highlights I have come across so far include works by well-known illustrators like Patricia Polacco, Victoria Chess, Molly Bang, Trina Schart Hyman, and James Marshall. Many of these works are signed, often with delightful little drawings, like the one by James Marshall pictured above. There are also many different versions of “Little Red Riding Hood” in the collection – classic versions, modern retellings, foreign language editions, and even highly abstract interpretations like the French edition (shown above left) illustrated by Warja Lavater. The same story is told each time – but the way the stories are written, illustrated, and published offer telling clues about the cultures and times in which they were produced.
‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through our section
We were ready to work on a festive collection.
Many boxes of books (and this part makes it fun),
Each with the same poem. You all know which one.
The boxes were nestled all snug in their cart,
Holding old books and rare books and books filled with art,
Toy books with sleigh bells that jingled a tune,
Plus archival items, including a spoon.
And we catalogers, as a matter of course,
Had settled our brains to describe each resource.
Each one was related, but each was unique,
And our records must help people find what they seek.
But no cataloger would let that disturb her,
Remembering concepts that she learned from FRBR.
When faced with this “Night Before Christmas” incursion,
We would deal with each item, no matter which version.
Now, pop-ups! now, postcards! now, stamps for the mail!
On, parody versions! on, versions in Braille!
Whether titles be missing or typeface be small,
Now catalog! catalog! catalog all!
And, as our work on these books we’re completing,
We send you our very best seasonal greeting
For a year of discoveries wherever you look:
Happy holidays, all, and to all a good book.
While many of us no longer create traditional scrapbooks and rely on digital solutions in the form of Pinterest, Facebook, and Flickr, there are still many examples from the long history of scrapbooking that need special care. At Heritage Protocol & University Archives, we use a variety of methods to preserve our large collection. We choose the best way to preserve while trying to maintain the original look and feel for the viewer.
Some scrapbooks have a multitude of types of materials that need extra consideration. In the over 100 scrapbooks created by the Florida State College for Women and FSU alumni, we have found things such as bones, hair, fabric, dolls, jewelry, flowers and other plants, along with paper based memorabilia. This scrapbook has varnished wood covers that require special handling and usually a sturdy box.
If the scrapbook is in relatively good condition (clean of obvious dirt and debris, dry, no mold, or obvious insect activity) wrapping gently, and/or boxing and storing in a cool dry place is a simple way to preserve.When tying with linen tape, we are careful not to tie so tightly that the covers or pages are damaged at the edges.
Interleaving pages containing photographs and other items with buffered or at least acid free paper can also provide stabilization. Cutting the sheet to fir the page and gently tucking it in works well.
With photographs, a properly cut piece of buffered or acid free paper can be slid under it to create a barrier between it and the paper it rests on. There is still the matter of the photo corners, but some separation is better than none.
If many additional sheets are needed, the spine of the scrapbook may not accommodate the extra pages. Scrapbooks that are too large, over-stuffed with objects (anything that exceeds the capacity of the binding) may need to be separated into parts, and either wrapped or boxed in sections to keep fragile items and brittle paper from falling apart.
For albums with pages that are falling apart or otherwise in bad condition (bugs, mold, etc.) it may be wise to document the pages through scanning, photocopying, or photographing, and then remove as many items as possible and preserve them individually. Documenting the original order and other details of the pages preserves the context of items and the overall creation of the scrapbook, especially if there are notations or other items to preserve that cannot be removed easily. One method for removing old photos from paper and magnetic pages (sticky, striped backing), very gently saw back and forth with fine, waxed dental floss.
These procedure are great tips for preserving your own scrapbooks, however removing items involves tools, patience, and a steady hand. The first rule of thumb with archival materials is to “do no harm.” If you aren’t sure what to do or aren’t comfortable with some of the more aggressive techniques, simply stabilizing your scrapbook is best (see interleaving and wrapping). If you are more daring, practice on something you aren’t attached to first.
As FSU students were finishing up their final papers for the semester, at Complex Cataloging we were working on a group of theses and dissertations written by FSU students long ago. Our project involved almost 600 digitized works from graduate and undergraduate students, most of them written between 1920 and 1979. Electronic theses and dissertations are popular items for researchers: as of December 10, 2015, 1,974,053 titles in this category have been downloaded from the institutional repository. We wanted to create records that would make our digitized theses and dissertations available to anyone who needed them.
These student works are windows into the past, giving us a look at a world that no longer exists – a world where the cutting edge of school technology involved typewriting classes and film reels, where many teachers were not allowed to attend the theater, play cards, or dance.
Some of the works that we cataloged were written by teachers and librarians who were already working in the field while finishing their degrees. They wrote about the tensions and problems they had seen in their own schools and communities.
Other works included personal details from contemporary authors that are available nowhere else.
To help make these theses and dissertations part of the Digital Library, we had to come up with a way of creating records for the electronic works based on their print versions. First, an automated process was used to gather the catalog records as a batch. Then, the Complex Cataloging team, along with Amy Weiss, Head of Cataloging and Description, updated and enhanced the catalog records in WorldCat and FSU’s catalog. The records now contain information that will allow researchers to find them in a number of ways, and to know from reading each record whether that work is the one they want. Next, Annie Glerum, Head of Complex Cataloging, developed an XSLT program that was custom tailored for this project, using more updated XPath functions than other similar programs, to transform them into the format used by the Digital Library. Once these records are added to the Digital Library, researchers will have access to these fascinating student works that not only tell us about our history, but also make a contribution to scholarship in many fields.
In 1952, the International Council of Scientific Unions proposed an International Geophysical Year (IGY) (which was actually the 18 months from July 1957-December 1958). Members of the global scientific community would coordinate their efforts in order to enhance human understanding of the Earth. Special attention was to be given to the Antarctic continent, for which comprehensive data did not exist. To this end, twelve nations established 36 scientific stations on the Antarctic Ice Shelf in the years leading up to the IGY. Little America V was one of six bases established by the United States during this time. (Four previous bases named Little America had existed in other locations on the continent, but had been discontinued.) Logistical support for the base was delegated to the US Navy by the US Department of Defense, as Navy seaplanes had already been operating on the Antarctic continent for decades; Navy forces under Admiral Richard E. Byrd had been essential to the establishment of previous US research facilities there.
The resulting Navy mission, Operation Deep Freeze, was planned in two phases, to avoid flying during the punishing Antarctic winter. Deep Freeze I ran during the 1955-1956 austral summer, delivering equipment necessary to outfit the six research bases. Lieutenant Commander Robert E. Hancock Jr. was a supply officer with the US Navy, and spent much of 1957 on the Ross Ice Shelf as a result of Deep Freeze II, which ran further supplies to Little America V and other bases from October 1956 to February 1957. Hancock brought many souvenirs back from Antarctica, including photographs, Navy-issue maps and survival guides, schematics of Little America V, and coal from the volcano at Mt. Erebus.
Operation Deep Freeze and the International Geophysical Year each had lasting impact on the global community. Cooperation among international scientists in Antarctica laid the foundation for the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, which still guarantees that no single country will claim territorial sovereignty over the Antarctic continent. The IGY saw the first scientific satellite launches by the United States and Soviet Union, and thus the birth of the “space race” that led to the creation of NASA and the multiple agencies of the Soviet space program. Deep Freeze has continued far beyond its initial two phases in 1955 and 1956, and today, under the command of the US Air Force, still services military and civilian bases across Antarctica.
So, the title is more akin to Halloween than the newly arrived holiday season but this new digital collection fits the saying.
70 herbals and cookbooks have been added to the FSU Digital Library over the last month.
Herbals, which describe the appearance of medicinal plants, tell how to gather, prepare, preserve and store them. These books contribute to the work of physicians, pharmacists and botanists by providing data about the indication and dosage of these plants. Elizabethan literature is filled with references to herbal lore, herbs and their uses, herb gardens, and manners and customs associated with herbs and their use. Thus herbals can provide a vivid background of life in times past.
An interest in cookbooks and household management is a legacy from FSU’s earliest years as a women’s college. Cookbooks are held in our Rare Book, Florida and Scottish collections. The oldest in our cookbook collection is from 1622 Venice.
These books are pulled from various collections housed in Special Collections & Archives but are presented as a single collection in the FSUDL as they often would have been used in tandem by the women of the household to feed and keep healthy their families.
Please explore the collection – maybe you’ll find a recipe for a holiday meal to remember (or the secret recipe for treating warts from the 16th century).