All posts by Adam Hunt

Vote!

October is coming to an end pretty soon and the National Election on November 3rd is approaching fast! The University has an important resource, FSU Votes, that may come in handy before casting a ballot. There, you can learn more about obtaining a sample ballot, tracking a mail-in ballot, safety precautions for in-person voting, your local voting site, and much more. With Noles to the Polls, students, faculty, and staff will be able to take shuttles from Traditions Parking Garage, the College of Medicine, and University Center A to early voting locations until October 30th. Make sure to vote!

Women at a voting table.
Voting Scene, Victoria J. Lewis Scrapbook, 1940-1944, Special Collections & Archives, Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee, Florida. Purl: http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/238964

Found in the Archives: The Capitol March for the Equal Rights Amendment in Tallahassee

October is American Archives Month! As an institution that works alongside and documents the local community, I wanted to highlight two collections housed in the Claude Pepper Library that illustrate local political action in our historic capitol: The National Organization of Women, Tallahassee Chapter Records and the League of Women Voters, Tallahassee Chapter Records.

The beginning of the 1980s marked a decisive moment in American Politics: the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). This amendment guaranteed that the United States and individual States would not deny or abridge the equality of rights based on sex. While Alice Paul authored the first form of this amendment in 1923, it would not be until March 22, 1972 that both the Senate and House of Representatives introduced the amendment and set the stage for future state ratifications. The National Organization of Women (NOW) led advocacy and activism efforts to convince legislatures to ratify the amendment throughout the 1970s. It fell short of the necessary number by the 1979 deadline. 

Flyer with general information about the Equal Rights Amendment Capitol March in Tallahassee on June 8, 1982.
Capital March for ERA Flyer, June 6, 1982, National Organization of Women, Tallahassee Chapter Records, Box 16, Folder 6, Florida State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives, Tallahassee, Florida.

After a successful march organized by NOW in Washington D.C., congress extended the deadline to June 30, 1982. However, the amendment was three states shy of the thirty-eight required that year. Florida was one of fifteen states that had not yet ratified the amendment. The local Tallahassee chapter of NOW organized a march on the unratified Florida capitol to take place on June 8, several weeks before the new deadline. 

Alongside NOW, the League of Women Voters (LOWV) Tallahassee Chapter, faculty from FSU and FAMU, and a breadth of other local organizations joined the march where some might have worn buttons like the ones below. This demonstration was a final push for ERA supporters to convince the Florida legislature to ratify the amendment. While the Florida House of Representatives passed the measure, the senate defeated it. Ultimately, the 1982 deadline passed without the needed ratifications. 

Three Equal Rights Amendment buttons.
ERA buttons, National Organization of Women, Tallahassee Chapter Records, Box 35, Florida State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives, Tallahassee, Florida.

Despite defeat in 1982, to this day activists push to gain the three necessary states for the ERA’s ratification. The ERA and the local chapters of NOW and LOWV are just one example of American politics documented in Special Collections & Archives. Portions of the local chapter records for both NOW and LOWV are available remotely in the Digital Library.

While direct access to physical collections is unavailable at this time due to Covid-19, we hope to resume in-person research when it is safe to do so, and Special Collections & Archives is still available to assist you remotely with research and instruction. Please get in touch with us via email at: lib-specialcollections@fsu.edu. For a full list of our remote services, please visit our services page.

Sources:

Alice Paul Institute, The Equal Rights Amendment: A Brief History , “Resources,” Equal Rights Amendment, 2018, https://www.equalrightsamendment.org/resources.

Capital March for ERA Flyer, June 6, 1982, National Organization of Women Tallahassee Chapter Records, Box 16, Folder 6, Florida State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives, Tallahassee, Florida.

ERA buttons, National Organization of Women Tallahassee Chapter Records, Box 35, Florida State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives, Tallahassee, Florida.

Participant sign-up sheet, National Organization of Women Tallahassee Chapter Records, Box 16, Folder 6, Florida State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives, Tallahassee, Florida.

Voter: League of Women Voters of Tallahassee, Florida, June, 1982, League of Women Voters, Tallahassee Chapter Records, Box 10, Folder 2, Florida State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives, Tallahassee, Florida.

Updated SCA Page in Florida History Research Guide

This post was co-authored by Jennifer Fain.

Special Collections & Archives is pleased to announce our new and improved page on the Florida History research guide. One of our major projects this summer in light of Covid-19 and the need for expanded online services has been to update our presence on FSU Library research guides to better connect patrons with our materials remotely.

The Florida History guide is overseen by Humanities librarian, Adam Beauchamp, who will be working on updating the rest of it in the future. Research guides can be accessed through the tile, “Research Guides,” on the library’s main page. To navigate to our updated page on the Florida History guide (pictured below), select the “Florida History in the FSU Libraries Special Collections & Archives” tab via the left-hand navigation bar in the research guide.

Our new page on the Florida History research guide!
Our new page on the Florida History research guide!

What were the improvements we have made to the page? We updated an introduction to Special Collections & Archives’ holdings and spaces, as well as information on our databases and how to search them. The main addition to this page is a break-down of our resources by topical subject areas within Florida History. The first section gives introductory information on how to use the resources listed as well as other places on the page to learn more about our searchable databases. Scroll down the page to explore different subjects represented in our collections. Alternatively, there are links that directly jump to each subject. The topics we have highlighted are Early Florida, Florida Industry & Agriculture, Tallahassee History, The Civil War in Florida, and Florida Politics. 

Photograph of Saturn V Moon Rocket.
Photograph of the Saturn V Moon Rocket from the Claude Pepper Papers.

The sections explain how and where to find materials like the above photograph of the Saturn V Moon Rocket across different searchable databases like ArchivesSpace, the Library Catalog, and the Digital Library. We included links and examples of digital collections, finding aids, and Library of Congress Subject Headings as starting points for research. There are also suggestions for how to develop keyword searches at the bottom of the page. 

Be on the lookout for more blog posts as we continue to unveil updated pages and guides for the Fall semester. And, of course, make sure to check out our new page on the Florida History guide! While direct access to physical collections is unavailable at this time due to Covid-19, we hope to resume in-person research when it is safe to do so, and Special Collections & Archives is still available to assist you remotely with research and instruction. Please get in touch with us via email at: lib-specialcollections@fsu.edu. For a full list of our remote services, please visit our services page.

Behind the Scenes: Building a Digital Exhibit with Omeka

Like all of you, Covid-19 made an abrupt change to my spring semester. Thankfully, my Digital History class was mostly unaffected because the assignments were already web-based. Our final project had us create a digital exhibit using Omeka.net which is a free platform available from the Roy Rosenzweig Center for New Media. As opposed to a historical approach like my project takes, archivists and librarians sometimes use Omeka differently. Instead of creating an exhibit, they might create digital collections as an online repository for digitized materials.

This link will take you to my digital exhibit “Enslavement and Sharecropping in Tallahassee.”

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I built this exhibit based off the work I did in my internship here in Special Collections & Archives. Even with Covid-19’s disruptions to our work, education, and daily lives, we can still find alternatives like this to help our community access collections and research from home. All the primary sources featured in the exhibit come from our archival manuscript collections highlighted in the Enslavement and Sharecropping Research Guide.

What does creating an Omeka site look like? For starters, FSU Libraries has a guide on the subject. Other then setting up the site, we must decide what goes into it as objects. In this case, I wanted to interpret a wide range of primary sources that shows a narrative of how the Florida Territory introduced enslavement and how it developed over our State’s history. When we load an object into the site, we create metadata that records information about the object itself which you can see in this picture. Below is an example item addition for a sharecropping contract.

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Omeka uses the Dublin Core schema which is relatively simple. The site allows users to input the metadata into labelled text boxes, as you can see above, with the option to use HTML for simple text editing. This is where we give the object a title, describe it, tell users who created it, and provide links to digitized versions when available. We also upload a digital file so that users can look at the material being described and so that we can put it in the exhibit.

Once the objects are loaded and the metadata is created, it’s just a matter of arranging them and then writing the descriptive text for them. For this one, I created sections based on chronology: territorial Florida, Antebellum, Reconstruction, and Civil Rights.

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The exhibit sections are created from different “pages.” In a page, you use “boxes” as a tool to integrate images and text in a variety of options and styles. Within these sections, I arranged the objects chronologically with descriptive text next to each of them. Just like a physical exhibit, this is where we would provide some context on the source or tell our audience what makes it unique and valuable for research. Because this exhibit is historical, it is also where I interpret what we can learn from the primary source.

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Including extant projects like this exhibit and our Research Guides, Special Collections & Archives staff are still available for virtual reference. While our physical spaces remain closed at this time, if you have any questions about accessing our collections, you can get in touch with us via email at lib-specialcollections@fsu.edu. We also have a range of items in our Digital Library that everyone can access remotely.

Uncovering Local Sharecropping through a General Store: The Van Brunt Business Records

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Around thirteen miles North from downtown Tallahassee is Lake Iamonia. Families such as the Van Brunts historically developed the land around Iamonia as large cotton plantations. R.F. Van Brunt was born in 1862 and from 1902 to 1911 operated a general store and the Van Brunt plantation in the area. The collection primarily comprises store account ledgers like the 1911 Day Book on the left.

At first glance these financial ledgers may not contain anything other than store balances and goods sold. However, this collection sheds light on local sharecropping. Sharecropping was an agricultural labor system that replaced slavery following the end of the Civil War. Plantation owners used this system to keep many former enslaved people bound to their plantations to maintain their crop-driven businesses. 

Sharecropping contracts, like the one below found in one of the Van Brunt store ledgers contracting Randall Hayes, leased land to the sharecropper to cultivate a cash crop. At a specified date, the sharecropper had to produce the contracted quantity of which they kept a portion. VanBrunt04

The Van Brunt store ledgers help us understand the economics of sharecropping. The country store in Iamonia is one example of how credit networks drove sharecropping. At the beginning of the agricultural year, sharecroppers bought their seeds and supplies on credit. The store often supplied individuals for months at a time without receiving payment. Near the date on their contracts, sharecroppers paid their store account in several ways.

The entry for September 16th affirms that five individuals received a balance on their store account for labor “by hauling seed.”

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While they could pay cash if they had it, sharecroppers paid their store balance down with agricultural goods as well. The entry from October 6th reveals that customers paid their store accounts down “by cotton.” Because they paid rent on farmland, and sometimes store balances, in cotton, local sharecroppers often settled their debt with the plantation owner and store during the harvest season.

Infrequent opportunities to settle accounts with plantation owners, natural disruptions, and crop failures meant that sharecropping easily became a cycle of debt that trapped African Americans on the same plantations that enslaved them or their parents.

We invite members of the FSU community and the general public to access our collections in our reading room on the first floor of Strozier Library Monday-Thursday from 10:00-6:00 and Friday from 10:00-5:30.

The 1911 Day Book and Sharecropping Contracts are also available for viewing in our digital library, DigiNole.

Click here to learn more about the Van Brunt Business Records.

Further Reading:

Paisley, Clifton. “Van Brunt’s Store, Iamonia, Florida, 1902-1911.” Florida Historical Quarterly 48 (1970): 353-367.

Enslaved Lives in the Archives at FSU- Research Guide and ASERL Exhibit Update

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A list of enslaved people that George Whitfield of Tallahassee owned as of 1862. [Original Object]

Special Collections & Archives wants to share some updates on our work surfacing and highlighting collections documenting local enslavement and sharecropping. Collaborating with the Tallahassee History and Human Rights Project in their creation of the Invisible Lives Tours produced a list of our archival materials that we wanted to make more visible and accessible to researchers and the general public. What followed was the creation of a research guide solely devoted to gathering our primary sources of Enslavement and Sharecropping in Florida in one place.

The guide aims to promote and support historical and genealogical research in Tallahassee and surrounding counties. In the guide you can find relevant manuscript collections, rare books, and oral histories available on-site and/or digitally. To find Special Collections research guides, navigate to the FSU Libraries home page, click on “Research Guides,” select “By Group,” and then select the drop-down menu “Special Collections.”

From that body of material, we digitized and submitted objects for inclusion in the Association of Southeast Research Libraries’ (ASERL) “Enslaved People in the Southeast” collaborative exhibit that debuted November 4th. The exhibit commemorates the 400 years that have passed since enslaved Africans were first sold in the English colonies in 1619 marking the beginning of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

FSU and thirty-five other institutions offered a range of primary sources including “photos, letters, bills of sale, emancipation documents, insurance and taxation documents, and maps indicating segregation zones.” With this breadth of archival primary sources, “Enslaved People in the Southeast” seeks to show the social complexity of enslavement and its legacy across sharecropping, Jim Crow, and segregation. 

To access our collections, we invite members of the FSU community and the general public 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. We also encourage those interested to browse our digital library, DigiNole.

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.

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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.