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.

Intersession Intermission

As we gear up for Fall semester, Special Collections & Archives will be taking some time to complete projects and prepare for the coming school year. This includes the Special Collections Reading Center in Strozier Library, the Pepper Library Reading Room, and the Heritage Museum. However, we will still be available to researchers! We will be by appointment only August 5th through August 15th.

Available appointment times are from 10-12pm and from 1-4pm, Monday through Friday. To complete an Appointment Request form, please click here. In order to ensure that we can fulfill your request, please request appointments at least 24 hours in advance, and keep in mind that you must request your desired materials ahead of time as well.

Finally, please note that Special Collections & Archives will be completely closed Friday, August 16, 2019 for a division retreat. This closure will include the Pepper Library and Heritage Museum spaces.

Registration at FSU, 1958 [Original Object]

Impressive Fabrics: The Ina VanStan Printing Plates

Professor Ina VanStan examining Peruvian fabrics. (FSU Historic Photographs Collection)

Ina VanStan (1901-1989) was a Professor of Clothing and Textiles at Florida State University. Her studies focused on a variety of fabrics pre-Colombian Peru, as well as other cultural artifacts from that time.

An enhanced, flipped image of Plate 3 (Peruvian Domestic Fabrics)
01-MSS 0-333, VanStan Plates, Box 1, Item 4

The Ina VanStan Printing Plates contain twenty-three printing plates of various sizes depicting fabric patterns from Van Stan’s studies of Peruvian fabrics. The printing plates were used for producing images for VanStan’s scholarly publications. The collection’s finding aid offer’s access to VanStan’s relevant publications on artifacts such as dolls, fabric fragments, and feather ornaments; it provides a springboard for those interested in further study of ancient Peruvian culture.

Photo of a Feather Fan from the
Ina VanStan Printing Plates
01-MSS 0-333 Box 1, Folder 1

Those interested in related materials to VanStan’s studies can find images of artifacts in the Carter Collection in FSU’s Museum of Fine Arts (MoFA).

New Digital Exhibit on Integration at FSU

Integration Statue
Integration Statue

A new digital exhibit is now available, featuring information and documents that expand on the items currently on display in at the Heritage Museum in Dodd Hall. The exhibit is titled A University in Transition: The Long Path to Integration and focuses on the role of institutional racism in delaying state university integration. It also highlights acts of resistance by students, such as John Boardman, who was expelled for his active involvement with the black Inter-Civic council during and after the Tallahassee Bus Boycott.

Picture of Bob Leach, Vice President for Student Affairs (1978-1988)
Bobby E. Leach, Vice President for Student Affairs (1978-1988)

African American students, faculty, staff, and alumni also tell their story during the 40th anniversary of integration, for which a statue was commissioned featuring the first black graduate, athlete, and homecoming queen. The exhibit concludes with a spotlight on FSU’s first black administrator, Dr. Bob E. Leach, whose speeches inspired students for over a decade (1978-1988) and who served as a model of leadership for the university.

The exhibit also aligns with the goals of FSU’s recently established Civil Rights Institute. The interdisciplinary institute will sponsor events, speakers, publications, education, and research on civil rights and social justice. Its collections will be housed in Strozier Library and include historical African American newspapers, the Tallahassee Civil Rights Oral History collection, microfilm editions of NAACP and ACLU organizational records and the Emmett Till archives.

For more information, check out the library’s Civil Rights LibGuide.

The digital exhibit is available here: https://universityintransition.omeka.net/exhibits/show/a-university-in-transition/introduction

Celebrating the Start of Summer

We recently completed digitization of the newspaper from Leon High School here in Tallahassee. Started in the 1920s, the paper has gone through several name changes to end up at Leon High Life today. Our recent additions to the newspaper started in 1988 and bring us up to the end of Spring 2019. To write this update, I took a look at the newspapers published just at the end of the school year.

As a school publication, there are few to no issues published beyond the beginning of June. These papers are the last hurrah for the seniors, celebrating the next steps for those leaving, looking back at the year of academics and athletics.

2001-2002 Sports Year in Review spread [original item]

They also used these issues to talk about what they’d loved and hated that year, making these issues time capsules to what the kids thought was cool at the time.

Spread from the May 31, 1988 High Life Graduation Issue [original item]

But they were also looking forward to their summer and looking at what would be on deck to go see, hear, and do for their last few months of freedom if they were Seniors or just looking forward to the break if there was more high school ahead of them.

What students were looking forward to in the summer of 1992 [original item]

You can explore the entire run of the Leon High Newspaper for a unique look at life in Tallahassee from a high schooler’s perspective from the 1920s up to 2019.

One Giant Leap: Remembering the Apollo 11 Mission 50 years later

The Apollo 11 mission, commissioned by President Kennedy in 1961, sought to “perform a crewed lunar landing and return to earth” (nasa.gov). It was the first mission of its kind and dramatically changed the landscape of the Space Race in the 1960s and 1970s. The Space Race was an ongoing contest between the United States and the Soviet Union, where each country sought to outshine the other. With the Apollo 11 mission, however, the Space Race reached its apex, for on July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 crew landed on the moon and planted the United States Flag on the lunar surface. 

AS 11 Neil Armstrong
Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, inside the Lunar Module (LM) while the LM rested on the lunar surface. Photo comes from the Spessard Holland Papers, MSS 1976-005.

To commemorate and memorialize this momentous occasion, the Claude Pepper Library will be hosting an exhibit on the Apollo 11 mission from July 16 to December 16, 2019. We will have on display numerous photographs, correspondence, and other materials related to the mission including a large photograph of Astronaut Buzz Aldrin standing next to the American flag planted on the moon’s surface. The exhibit will consist of three thematic parts: earlier space programs in Florida, materials relating to the Apollo 11 landing, and FSU’s reaction to the landing. Sample materials selected include photos of the crew with Florida governors and legislators, the poster for the mission, and additional correspondence about the impact of the mission on Florida’s cultural memory.

AS 11 Buzz Aldrin on moon
Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, walking near the Lunar Module during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity. Photo comes from Spessard Holland Papers, MSS 1976-05.

More importantly, the Apollo 11 mission strikes near to the hearts of many Floridians. Launched from Cape Kennedy in Cape Canaveral, the mission has become a major part of our cultural identity as Floridians and as Americans. Throughout the country this year, festivities and celebrations are occurring to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch. According to nasa.gov, almost 650 million people heard Armstrong utter those famous words “…one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” And these words have stayed with us, are woven into our cultural fabric. We should be proud of this achievement; on the 50th anniversary of the launch, let us celebrate this momentous occasion in American history.

The images in this post come from the Spessard Holland Collection. To learn more about this collection, please see its finding aid.

The exhibit is available in the Claude Pepper Library which is open Monday-Friday, 9am to 5pm.

NASA AS 11 Photo of Earth
Most of Africa and portions of Europe and Asia can be seen in this spectacular photograph taken from the Apollo 11 spacecraft during its translunar coast toward the moon. Photos comes from Spessard Holland Papers, MSS 1976-05.

Godby High Yearbooks Online

FSU Libraries continues to partner with local organizations to bring the history of our region online and available for research. Today’s new digital collection comes from a local high school, Godby High School. Opened in 1966, it officially became a school for grades 9-12 in 1968, graduating its first class in 1970. Much younger than the other high school we’ve partnered with in the past, Leon High School, Godby brings another perspective to student and family life in Tallahassee from the mid-1960s up to the 2018 yearbook.

Spread from the 1975 Godby High Cougar [original item]

You can explore more yearbooks from Godby High here. Yearbooks from 1969 to 2018 are available to browse and search.

A Holiday in the Sun

Florida State University is closed Thursday, July 4 and Friday, July 5 in observance of the 4th of July holiday. We in Special Collections & Archives are off to enjoy our long weekend in the Florida sun. We’ll resume our normal operating schedule on Monday, July 8 (without too bad a sunburn we hope)

Girl at the Beach, Donald DeGraffenreid Pickett Collection, 1958-1959 (Accession No. HP-2008-010) [original image]

A Uniting Flame: Looking Back on the 50th Anniversary of the Westcott Fire


Fire at the Westcott Building – Florida State University. 1969. Black & white photonegative. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/11165>.

An iconic structure of Florida State’s campus, the gothic-styled Westcott Building was once threatened by a massive blaze on April 27, 1969. The fire started in the roof above the fourth floor, spreading beneath the sheetrock ceiling and causing intense damage throughout the fourth floor. The Westcott Building housed the University’s administration as well as the art department at the time and attention turned to not only saving the building and human lives, but the innumerable valuable documents and pieces of art stored within the structure.

As the April 28, 1969 edition of the Florida Flambeau notes, the art department was deemed a total loss but a painting by Reubens valued at $30,000 dollars, as well as work by FSU faculty member Dr. Karl Zerbe, valued at $50,000 were safely extracted from the inferno by brave students. Florida Flambeau editor Sam Miller details some of the more memorable moments from the scene:

“After the fire was out, students again poured in to try to salvage the paintings from the third floor. Perhaps the first comic relief of the evening came when two students carried out a bigger-than-life painting of a psychedelic nude.”

Miller, sam. “Differences forgotten in crisis: Everyone ‘Really pulled together.’ Florida flambeau. April 28, 1969. p1.
Students and staff alike banded together to save documents and other objects from the flames. 1969. FSU Digital Libraries, Heritage and University Archives. <http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/3163787>

For those interested in taking a step into the University’s past, we invite you to view the linked 13 minute video that includes a variety of moments from FSU in 1969, including the Westcott Fire (skip ahead to 3:25). You can check it out here.