Text provided by Gina Woodward
Photographs by Burt Altman, Liz Johnson, Gina Woodward, and Kat Bell
On Saturday, March 19, 2011, Florida State University Libraries Special Collections and Archives and Heritage Protocol hosted the Back-Stage Pass event for the Women for Florida State University (FSU).
The Women for FSU is an organization for women who share a passion for Florida State University. The members span multiple generations and diverse backgrounds, but they are united by the desire to support the university in whatever way they can. Members choose their level of involvement and join in activities as their schedules permit.
Over 85 women participated in the Back-Stage Pass event. As they arrived, they were greeted by Julia Zimmerman, Dean of the University Libraries. The groups were then divided up, with half of the participants visiting Heritage Protocol while the other half visited Special Collections, then switching between locations.
Sammie Morris, Associate Dean for Special Collections and Digital Initiatives, spoke to the participants about the wide variety of rare books and manuscripts available for research in Special Collections. Several examples from the collection were on display, including a signed copy of The Chimney Corner by Harriet Beecher Stowe, books on women’s rights, women in Southern literature, women’s efforts during World War I and World War II, and women’s education. The display included a 15th century handwritten and illuminated manuscript created by nuns in Venice, Italy. Additional manuscripts included letters from Helen Keller and Harriet Beecher Stowe; scrapbooks of Betty Wood McNabb, a 1930 Florida State College for Women (FSCW) alumna and pilot; and a lengthy handwritten oration on poetry delivered by Lucile Gregory at FSCW in 1911.
Dr. Christie Koontz, a faculty member in FSU’s College of Information and an expert on marketing and storytelling, served as a guest speaker at the event. Dr. Koontz read an excerpt from Lucile Gregory’s 1911 oration and talked about the serendipity of archival research, in particular how connections can be made with archival material that lead to the creation of new knowledge. The audience shared Dr. Koontz’s awe that Lucile Gregory gave her award-winning 11-page oration entirely by memory, as was the custom at FSCW at the time.
Dick Puckett, who along with Ed Franklin made up the famous Florida State University Flying Seminoles, also served as a guest speaker. The Flying Seminoles performed in Native American costumes, and had unusual baton twirling dance routines with the Marching Chiefs and at other events. He spoke about his memories of FSU and the personal items he has donated to Heritage Protocol, a university-wide organization dedicated to collecting and preserving FSU history. Visitors to Heritage Protocol were able to view historical photographs of FSU and FSCW, as well as yearbooks, documents, and memorabilia.