New Digital Collection – The Talisman

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The Talisman was a student run publication that was active at Florida State College for Women (FSCW), FSU’s predecessor institution. The magazine was published quarterly by the Thalian Literary Society and the Minerva Club, the first two literary debate societies of FSCW. The first issue was published in 1906 and it ran until 1914, when it was turned into a weekly newspaper called the Florida Flambeau. As the students put it in the first ever issue of the Florida Flambeau in January 23rd, 1915, “Things happen so rapidly that once every three months makes a slow visitor.”

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The Talisman was the first college literary periodical to be published in Florida. Each issue featured student writings, editorials, campus news, and updates on all departments, including music and athletics. It included spaces for student notes and campus directories. Not only did The Talisman provide an avenue through which students could express their thoughts, it also was a way for students and surrounding communities to be informed as to the happenings of our campus.

The Talisman now exists as a time capsule for us. The writings of these students paint a picture of what student life was like in those years. We can also trace the progress and growth of our university through these publications by reading the departmental news from those early years. The Talisman can be found in DigiNole with our other publications here. If you have any questions about this collection please contact the Heritage & University Archivist, Sandra Varry, at svarry@fsu.edu.

Special Collections Escape Room Takes Mystery-Themed Exhibit to the Next Level

FSU students had a mysterious time last month at our Special Collections and Archives Escape Room. The room was open from 2:00-4:00 p.m. on September 9th during the University Libraries Open House.

Students were able to go inside our exhibit room and interact with the exhibit, “A Century of Mystery and Intrigue”, in order to solve the escape room that was built around it. This exhibit was curated by Joseph, a Special Collections & Archives Scholar-in-Residence and Guest Curator who is 12 years old.

The escape room patrons worked diligently to find the four words that would reveal the title of the unpublished manuscript of Suzette Burns, whose ghost was haunting Strozier Library and sending the message to FSU faculty, staff, and students to “PUBLISH IT.” They worked through puzzles involving messages in bottles, decks of cards, and other eerie ways that lead to them solving the mystery.

A stack of papers that all read "PUBLISH IT.", repeatedly in red ink across the page.
“Night staff report that the printers keep generating
this strange message: PUBLISH IT.”

After finally finding the title of Suzette Burns’ manuscript, students were rewarded with FSU Libraries goodie bags, as well as bragging rights for having completed the escape room with time to spare.

If you missed out on this puzzling experience, you’re in luck! Sign up here to participate in our next haunting escape room, which will take place on Tuesday, October 29th from 6:00-9:00 pm in the Strozier Library exhibit room.


Boots Thomas Digital Collection online from the FSU WWII Institute

Ernest Ivy “Boots” Thomas Jr. was born on March 10, 1924 and raised in Monticello, Florida. He served as a Platoon Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, Company E, Second Battalion, 28th Marines of the Fifth Marine Division during World War II. His collection, held by The Institute on World War II and the Human Experience, contains the letters he sent home to his mother during his time training at Parris Island, South Carolina, as well as the time he served as a drill instructor for the Marine Corps.

Through his letters, one can follow his very active and exciting time in the service, starting from his attempts to join (despite having color blindness) and leading him through to his training at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Camp Pendleton in California, Camp Tarawa in Hawaii, and eventually into the Pacific Theatre for combat in the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Ernest “Boots” Thomas postcard to his mother, Martha Thorton Thomas, September 9, 1943 [original object]

Boots Thomas was known by his comrades and leaders as a natural leader, taking a post as drill instructor early on in his military career. During the campaign for Iwo Jima, Thomas battled through the rough terrain of the island and Mt. Suribachi, taking charge after the platoon leader was wounded. Leading the platoon, he and his men successfully defended against the Japanese and raised the first American flag atop Suribachi on February 23, 1945. The subsequent second larger flag raising, for which Thomas was not present, would later be repeated and captured in the now-famous photograph from Joe Rosenthal of American Press. Thomas was killed in action on March 3, 1945, seven days before his 21st birthday, and awarded the Navy Cross for “extraordinary heroism,” along with the Purple Heart Metal and other combat-recognition awards.

This digital collection was described by FSU student Carmellina Moersch of The Institute for World War II and the Human Experience. Moersch is a senior at Florida State studying Classics, Humanities and Religion. At the Institute, she works as an Archival Assistant, processing collections and gaining important experience related to historical research, analysis, exhibit curation, and more. The Institute works diligently to preserve the photographs, letters, and artifacts of service members and their families. The Institute depends on Undergraduate and Graduate students to process collections, create finding aids, perform administrative tasks, and help further the goal of making our holdings available to researchers and scholars around the world.

To view the Boots Thomas letters in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository, visit its collection there. You can see all digital collections from the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience in DigiNole as well. For more information about the Institute and its programs, please visit its website.

Archives Month in FSU Special Collections & Archives

October is American Archives Month. And while every month is Archives Month to those of us here in Special Collections & Archives, October is the month we really like to toot our own horn.

We kicked off the festivities this year with our annual takeover of the FSU Libraries twitter handle for #AskAnArchivist day which was on October 2, 2019 this year. We had a great day of discussion and sharing out information about our collections, our practices and what exactly it is we do every day in all our spaces. You can see a round-up of (most) of the tweets below. Happy Reading! [In case the tweets are not appearing in this post since technology is not always our friend, even to the digital archivist, you can view this Tweet Collection here as well.]

#AskAnArchivist Day is tomorrow!

FSU Special Collections & Archives is once again participating in #AskAnArchivist Day, the kick-off event for American Archives Month. We’ll be taking over the FSU Libraries twitter feed (@fsulibraries) tomorrow, Wednesday, October 2, 2019 from 10am to 6pm.

How does this work? Archivists here at FSU and all over the country will take to Twitter to respond to questions tweeted with the hashtag #AskAnArchivist. No question is too silly, too small or too big. You can ask us here at FSU what the oldest item is we have, what does it mean to process a collection, do we have anything in our collections about your dissertation topic? Just tweet at us with the hashtag and we’ll answer!

Don’t be shy with us or any other archives on Twitter and be sure to ask your questions on #AskAnArchivist day!

Behind the Scenes: Enslaved Lives in the Archives at FSU

Special Collections and Archives spent this summer contributing to two projects centered on the lives of local enslaved people. Currently, we are supporting the Tallahassee History and Human Rights Project. The first phase of this collaborative effort between the Grove Museum, Goodwood Museum & Gardens, the Tallahassee Museum, and the community seeks to better interpret the lives and experiences of the enslaved people that lived on and built the plantations at those sites.

RKS_Division_of_Slaves1
The Roderick Kirkpatrick Shaw Estate Division of Slaves

To support them, Special Collections & Archives identified manuscript collections, rare books, oral histories, and historic newspapers held at FSU that provide insight on African and African American lives from Territorial Florida to the Great Depression in Tallahassee and surrounding counties. We primarily found plantation records, personal papers, and business records documenting the era of enslavement and sharecropping in the Tallahassee locale. Please join these three museums for a series of tours on Saturday, September 14th that commemorate the lives and experiences of local enslaved people.

Alongside the research done for the Tallahassee History and Human Rights Project, Special Collections and Archives digitized and submitted objects to a collaborative online exhibit curated by the Association of Southeast Research Libraries (ASERL). The exhibit recognizes and commemorates the 400 years since the arrival of enslaved Africans in the United States.

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The Notebook of George Whitfield, a Slave trader in Tallahassee and Leon County. Digital version available here

The exhibit covers five periods: Colonial, American Revolution and Constitution, Antebellum, Civil War, and Twentieth Century. The digital exhibit is slated to debut on the Omeka platform in November. Our contributions, including the Whitfield Notebook to the right, have been digitized and added to our digital library, DigiNole.

Supporting these initiatives led Special Collections and Archives to question how to make our own holdings more visible and accessible. We started with the objects submitted to the ASERL Exhibit and added them to our digital library. The documents below are examples of what we identified that will be digitized in the near future. Alongside digitization, we have begun to incorporate these materials in class visits and aim to include them in research guides. As always, we encourage everyone to visit our reading room to view and work with our collections.

New additions to the digital library documenting enslavement and sharecropping include manuscript and printed sharecropping contracts, the Whitfield Notebook, and the R.F. Van Brunt General Store 1911 Day Book.

Special Collections & Archives welcomes visitors to our reading room on the first floor of Strozier Library Monday-Thursday from 10:00-6:00 and Friday from 10:00-5:30.

Scrapbooks to the Past, Gadsden County Edition

Scrapbooks are one of the best time capsules an archives may hold in its collections. These books, some giant, some small, were put together with care and love by the people who were actively looking to document and save their history as it was happening. Here at FSU, we hold dozens of scrapbooks that students have put together over the years, showing what student life was like on campus but also what was happening outside of FSU in the wider world that was affecting them as they worked on their degree.

Today, I share a very different kind of scrapbook. In partnership with the Havana History & Heritage Society in Havana, Florida, we digitized and described seven large scrapbooks kept by the Home Extension Services agent in Gadsden County, Florida from 1916 until 1961. These books showcase the work of 4-H clubs and women’s groups throughout some of the toughest years this rural Florida county faced during the Great Depression and into World War II.

A page from the 1928-1932 scrapbook. The caption reads “4-H Club Girls’ Exhibit of Canned Products. Achievement Day 1929” [See Original Scrapbook]

As a 21st century woman through and through, I marvel at the skills these children and women had to grow, preserve and produce the food, clothing and other resources they and their families needed during these years. Looking at the photos included in these books, what they called a “garden” was actually a small-scale farm. This was brought home to me especially when I found a FSU connection. It seems, in the 1930s, Florida State College for Women (FSCW), what FSU was called until 1947, often bought produce and their Thanksgiving turkeys from the Extension Services in Gadsden County. Which means, these small farms, helmed by women by the looks of it in the scrapbooks, were producing enough for themselves, their community and then some!

Take a look at these scrapbooks and some photographs that we digitized as part of this project with the Havana History & Heritage Society. I look forward to working with more community groups in our region to continue to bring to light the history and work of the people in Big Bend Region through partnerships like this one.

A Century of Mystery and Intrigue

The following blog post was written by Joseph, Special Collections & Archives Scholar-in-Residence and Guest Curator of our latest exhibit A Century of Mystery and Intrigue.

The poster for the exhibit was drawn by the curator. Can you spot all the mystery-related references?

I really enjoyed putting together the exhibit last summer on pirates, so I started thinking about a possible new exhibit topic. The original idea I came up with was related to trains, which then became the mystery genre. I believed that Special Collections & Archives would have extensive material related to it. Also, the mystery genre could open up other possibilities, such as the videos on the multi-media screen and a scavenger hunt, which has a fun prize.

In doing research, I discovered that Special Collections & Archives did indeed have many different materials to exhibit. I found books such as The Secret of the Everglades by Bessie Marchant, Inspector French and the Starvel Tragedy by Freeman Wills Croft, The Hardy Boys by Frank W. Dixon, and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes book The Hound of the Baskervilles. I also found press books such as the one for Murders in the Rue Morgue.

In this exhibit, there are many different subjects, among which are young detectives, classic detective novels, mystery in cinema, and mystery comic books. There is also a scavenger hunt featured in the exhibit as well as small clips from mystery movies.

I read lots of mystery books on my own time, and a couple of my favorite series are The Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown. I also watch some detective movies. Two of my favorites are Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman and Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm

I have received lots of help and guidance from the Special Collections team, as well as lots of support for my ideas, and I couldn’t have done this exhibit without them. I hope you enjoy the exhibit!

Joseph posing with his poster.

A Century of Mystery and Intrigue is now on display in the Special Collections Exhibit Room. It can be viewed Monday-Thursday from 10am-6pm and Friday from 10am-5:30pm. It will be open through Fall 2019.

Be Rootin’, Be Tootin’, Be Readin’: A Look Into Cowboys Across Special Collections

The Wild West has been a source for literary inspiration as long as people have lived and settled there. Special Collections and Archives hosts a variety of Wild West stories across popular mediums, including dime novels and small books.

First published in 1860, dime novels became a popular source of media for young audiences and adults alike (Cassidy, 2011). Dime novels provided cheap entertainment and were popular among Civil War soldiers as well as children, although there was quickly a rising moral panic about the contents of these inexpensive texts corrupting America’s youth. Filled with tales of cowboys, Native Americans, gold, and adventure, the dime novels were exciting and sometimes scandalous material churned out at an impressive rate. Margaret Cassidy cites an 1896 copycat train robbery by young men with a collection of “blood and thunder” dime novels stashed away in their den in her speech “Pernicious Stuff”. This robbery and other crimes like it pulled the same moral panic that video games inspired nearly a century later, as violent and dangerous media that confuses their parents and corrupts the youth.

Dime novels were often set in the heyday of Manifest Destiny, as the American government pushed settlements west, spearheaded by cavalry, wagon trains, and cowboys. Antagonists were created from individuals who stood as barriers this aim: train robbers, Native Americans. In this manner, dime novels seem to follow the narrow point of view of white men, however women are occasionally given the spotlight, as in “Fred Fearnot and the Ranch Girl Owner; And How She Held Her Own.” by Hal Standish, published in 1918.

Perusing these dime novels also allows readers to view ads and propaganda statements that reflected their times, including wartime rationing during World War I, as well as advertisements for other dime novels, as included in these 1918 dime novel advertisements. (For more information on the Dime Novels Collection, click this link.)

The Western remained to be a popular setting for stories for decades to come. The Robert M. Ervin Jr. Collection contains a wide variety of comic books, serials, and monograph that covers a multitude of genres including science fiction, fantasy, and Westerns. The Ervin Collection contains multiple Better Little Books, petite texts containing stories and illustrations involving popular characters, such as the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, and Gene Aughtry. These tiny tomes cost about fifteen cents and were popular with young readers.

References:
“Pernicious Stuff” Nineteenth Century Media, the Children Who Loved Them, and the Adults Who Worried about Them. (2011). ETC: A Review of General Semantics68(3), 304–315. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hus&AN=64432725&site=eds-live&scope=site

Finding aid: https://archives.lib.fsu.edu/repositories/10/resources/1169

New materials available in DigiNole highlight Integration statue.

FSU alumni Doby Flowers holds up a bronze rose presented to her by sculptor W. Stanley “Sandy” Proctor (left). In the background is the integration statue and Tallahassee Mayor John Marks III. [Original Object]

A new set of photographs are now available in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository. The photographs were taken from events at Heritage Day 2004, during which a statue celebrating integration was unveiled on campus. The digitized materials also include a program and newspaper clippings.

Notable people depicted in the photographs include Doby Flowers, FSU’s first African American homecoming princess, and her brother Fred Flowers, the first black athlete to wear an FSU uniform. Other alumni from the first decade of integrated classes (1962-1982) were also in attendance, as were several FSU presidents and former Tallahassee Mayor John Marks III.

You can explore all these materials in the University Records of the Office of the Associate Vice President of University Relations.