For our first project as graduate assistants, Katherine Hoarn and I have been given the unique opportunity to delve into the history and heritage of Florida State University. From the years 1905 – 1947, Florida State University was Florida State College for Women, one of the largest women’s colleges in the country. To explore this fascinating aspect of FSU’s past, Katherine and I are putting together an exhibit centered on the scrapbooks of the students of Florida State College for Women. In preparing for this exhibit, I’ve not only learned about proper handling of archival material, but about the heritage of Florida State University.
The first step in deciding how to approach the exhibit was to research the history of Florida State College for Women. We consulted numerous resources, but my favorites were the primary sources themselves—the scrapbooks. As historical documents, scrapbooks are special. Each scrapbook is an individual and unique combination of text, photographs and papers. They are arranged in such a way that the interests and personalities of Florida State College for Women students come through. It’s also been interesting to see some similar themes and concerns fill the pages of scrapbooks across the forty plus year span of Florida State College for Women.
It would be difficult to choose a “favorite” scrapbook. As each is unique and individual, they are all remarkable in different ways. Marion Emerett Colman’s (HP 2007-130, go here for more information) combination of scrapbook and journal gives the reader a glimpse into the triumphs and concerns of an academically minded college sophomore in 1917.
Some scrapbooks delve into current events. Alberta Lee Davis’s scrapbook devotes pages to the end of World War I. (Alberta Lee Davis’ scrapbook is currently unprocessed. This means that it hasn’t yet been assigned an accession number, the number by which Special Collections & Archives will identify the scrapbook. For the scrapbooks from Heritage Protocol & University Archives, the accession number looks like HP ####-###. This also means that a finding aid hasn’t yet been created in Archon, the database for searching through the manuscript collections in Special Collections & Archives).
The scrapbooks of Jewell Genevieve Cooper (HP 2007-089, go here for more information), with its newspaper clippings and personal photographs gives its viewer a special glimpse into the traditions of Florida State College for Women during the 1920s.
Other scrapbooks, such as that of Victoria J. Lewis (HP 2007-079, go here for more information) shows similar concerns to that of contemporary teenagers, showing us the commonalities between teenager girls at the beginning of the twentieth century and at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The past really isn’t that distant.
Finding the connections between past and present has been wonderful, as has learning more about the history of Florida State University.
“That I May Remember: The Scrapbooks of Florida State College for Women (1905-1947)” is scheduled to open October 15 – December 1 in the exhibit space in Strozier Library.
Rebecca L. Bramlett is a graduate assistant in the Special Collections & Archives Division. She is working on her Master of Library and Information Science at Florida State University.