All posts by FSU Special Collections

Summer Report

A look at what a student worker has been up to in Special Collections & Archives this summer

My name is Meg Barrett and I started working with Special Collections and Archives at the beginning of the summer. When I found out that I was going to be working on digitally archiving old pictures from the College of Nursing and the French Napoleonic newspaper Le Moniteur, I was ecstatic. I’m currently a sophomore, majoring in Art History and minoring in French, so old photographs and French newspapers are exactly the sort of things that I love.

Because I am working on two different projects, I generally spend the first half of the week in the Research Center Reading Room and the second half in the Digital Library Center (DLC). In the reading room, I go through and catalogue the volumes of Le Moniteur. On my first day, I started with papers from the year 1792, and I finished the summer with papers from the year 1800. I think it’s amazing to be able to say that I’ve gone through over 2,000 newspapers from the 18th century! In the DLC, I have boxes of photographs in file folders, and my job is to scan the pictures onto the computer, type up information about them into a metadata spreadsheet, and then upload them onto DigiNole so that people anywhere can access them. The dates of the photos range from the 1950s to today, and seeing things from pinning ceremony traditions and headshot styles transition from then to now is such an interesting thing.

School of Nursing Pinning Ceremony; April 29, 1988 http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_HPUA_2014111_B42_F4_4_004
School of Nursing Pinning Ceremony; April 29, 1988 

Working in Special Collections has been such a wonderful experience: what I’ve been doing has been interesting, the people have been so kind and helpful, and I enjoy it every day. When I found out that I got the job a few months ago, I couldn’t believe it. It’s now the end of the summer, and I will continue working on these projects, and I still can’t believe it!

Celebrating Independence Day

American Flag Behind Westcott Building, ca. 1940-1944
American Flag Behind Westcott Building, ca. 1940-1944 (FSU Digital Library)

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Special Collections & Archives is closed in observance of the holiday but will back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow morning.

Making Some Digital Stereograph Magic

Please welcome Micah Vandegrift and Sarah Stanley from the Office of Digital Research and Scholarship (DRS) here at FSU for a guest post on a project we have worked closely with them to bring to the FSU Digital Library.

One of the best things about working in what we’re calling “digital scholarship” is the chance to collaborate with scholars on unique projects. Several years ago, one such project walked in the door of our special collections research center. Jennifer Pride, a doctoral candidate in Art History, was the fortunate recipient of the late Courtauld Professor John House’s vast collection of stereoscopes, which she decided to donate to the Department of Art History. Several of our librarians and archivists met with Jennifer and decided on a course of action.

The primary goal of the project is to build an online collection of the material, allowing scholars and the public to enjoy and learn from it. Jennifer had learned the late professor’s collection strategy and organization, and had already begun scanning some images for her own research. After an initial meeting with Matthew Miguez, our metadata librarian, Jennifer completed the description of about 700 images. The physical materials were then transferred to our Digital Library Center, where Stuart Rochford, Studio Manager, processed and digitized the stereographs. These digitized versions were then loaded and made publicly available through the FSU Digital Library.

This is where the newly-formed Office of Digital Research and Scholarship comes in. One of our areas of interest is the creative reuse of digital collections. We often talk about digital scholarship as being the layer of context, visualization, or analysis that sits on top of a collection of material. Based on the uniqueness of this type of photography, and the collection’s distinct place in space and time, we decided to quickly attempt a “proof of concept” project with a few items.

The NYPL (New York Public Library) Lab’s Stereogranimator was a perfect first test. This tool was designed to take stereographs, two images, and allow you, the (re)user, to mash the images together in creative ways. We GIF-ized a few and 3D-ified some others as you can see below. Fun with history and the internet!

Another activity often done with geographic/culturally recognizable objects is finding a way to place them back in their location. HistoryPin is a tool built on Google Street View that allows the (re)user to “drop a pin,” like a historical photograph, directly where the thing existed once upon a time. So, we took stereogranimated images (not the best quality) and placed a few of them around Paris.

As proof of concepts, both of these show that the John House Stereograph collection is deeply useful and has great potential for further study. We plan to continue to work with Jennifer and other Art Historians to explore the stories and patterns that emerge from this digitally re-presented collection. What would you do with 1400 digitized 3D stereographs of Paris from the 1850’s to early 1900s?!

Rest in Peace Professor

Yesterday was the 31st anniversary of Paul Dirac’s death. As has become tradition, faculty and staff from the FSU Libraries, where we hold the physicist’s papers, and students from the Physics departments visit Dirac’s grave to clean it and plant flowers. Learn more about this in a post later this week but for now, we honor Professor Dirac.

Headstone of Paul and Margit Dirac in Roselawn Cemetery, Tallahassee.
Headstone of Paul and Margit Dirac in Roselawn Cemetery, Tallahassee.

A Storifyed #AskAnArchivist Round-Up

Special Collections & Archives had a great time taking over the FSU Libraries twitter feed for #AskAnArchivist day. We enjoyed getting to answer questions and also share information about our collections and our work in the various areas of the division. We had so much fun in fact that we decided to Storify the experience. Check out the link below for highlights from our conversations on #AskAnArchivist day and keep checking back here for more information as we celebrate American Archives Month!

FSU’s #AskAnArchivist Day Storifyed!

Heritage Protocol & University Archives 101

Heritage Protocol & University Archives (HPUA), housed in Special Collections & Archives at Florida State University Libraries, maintains the official repository of university historical records. The archive holds publications, records, photographs, audio-visual, and other material in physical or digital form created by or about Florida State University. We also archive the student experience through the acquisition and preservation of materials created or acquired by alumni while they were students at the university.

Greetings from Florida State College for Women, see full description here.
Greetings from Florida State College for Women, see full description here.

Our staff consists of Heritage Protocol & University Archivist Sandra Varry and Archives Assistant Hannah Davis. We are also fortunate to have Graduate Assistant Britt Boler with us for the fall.

Our mission is to preserve and share the history of FSU with everyone – our FSU community and the public at large. We have a great time posting photos and interesting tidbits on our Facebook page and interacting with our fans as well as attending events on and off campus to promote HPUA. We provide images and information to news and media outlets as well as to researchers. On campus an important job we have is to provide not only historical records preservation for official records, but to provide that material to the university for everything from reports or events, or to help staff do research for projects. Factual data for administrative purposes is important, but we also get to do things like help celebrate the 100th birthday of an alumnus and participate in campus events.

1927 Faculty Baseball Team. See full description here.
1927 Faculty Baseball Team. See full description here.

We receive photographs, scrapbooks, and everything you can imagine from loyal fans, alumni, and their families from all over the world. The actual items come from all periods of time across our 164 year history. The combined knowledge base of student and university created records plus our professional archival staff makes us the place to come for Florida State History! All HPUA digital collections can be seen in the FSU Digital Library.

FSU Heritage Museum, Dodd Hall.
FSU Heritage Museum, Dodd Hall.

HPUA also oversees the Heritage Museum in Dodd Hall. The museum is open Monday – Thursday, 11AM – 4PM during the fall semester for both quiet study and museum visitors. Please visit our site for more information and to plan a visit.

Establishing the Emmett Till Research Archives

till17276966[1] copyThe Florida State University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives Division and Professor Davis W. Houck are delighted to announce the establishment of what will become the foremost research collection on the life and death of Emmett Till, an African-American teenager whose murder in Mississippi in 1955 sparked protest in the South.

Till’s death helped galvanize the civil rights movement in America, and Friday, August 28, 2015 marks the 60th anniversary of his murder. Till, 14, was kidnapped, beaten and shot after he allegedly flirted with a white woman.

We are truly humbled and honored to be working with scholars and researchers such as Davis Houck, Devery Anderson, and Keith Beauchamp are donating their research materials to FSU and are willing to share their important work with generations to come.

“We’re very excited for this project because there is just simply nothing like it,” said Houck, a faculty member in the College of Communication and Information who authored Emmett Till and the Mississippi Press. “We’ve spent 20 years accumulating this material, most of which involved travel to Mississippi and archives around the South. It’s long past due that we had a ‘one-stop-archive’ for all things Emmett Till, and with this collection, we’ll finally have that.”

The collection will feature newspaper coverage from the Till murder trial and court proceedings by domestic and international press, and materials from FBI investigations, court records and interview transcripts.

Author Devery Anderson will contribute a comprehensive collection of newspaper articles, genealogical work, interview transcriptions and obscure magazine articles used to write his recently released book, Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement. Anderson’s research not only tells the story of the Till case as it unfolded in 1955, but follows the case to the present day, incorporating the FBI’s investigation and source materials, including a complete trial transcript.

Interviews and oral histories gathered by filmmaker Keith Beauchamp for his Emmy-nominated documentary, The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till, will also comprise part of the archive. Beauchamp’s research was pivotal in convincing the FBI to re-open the case in 2004 — an investigation that resulted in more than 8,000 pages of important material.

These materials from some of the nation’s foremost Emmett Till researchers will be a great addition to our archives and an outstanding resource for students, researchers and civil rights historians worldwide.

Welcome to FSU!

Or welcome back as the case may be!

We here at Special Collections & Archives are wishing all new and returning students a safe and successful fall semester!

Glad registration is online now? Here's a look at registration for new classes in Fall 1958.
Glad registration is online now? Here’s a look at registration for new classes in Fall 1958. See original photograph here.

Our Research Center Reading Room and Norwood Reading Room have returned to their normal semester hours in Strozier Library. We’re open Monday-Thursday, 10AM to 6PM and on Fridays from 10AM to 5:30PM.

Wonder what Special Collections & Archives can do for you? Over the next two weeks, we’ll be highlighting our collections and services here on our blog to introduce you to what we do and have here in our division.

Happy Fall everyone!

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave

ROTC members in the 1960s with the American flag.
ROTC members in the 1960s with the American flag. Original Object is in the FSUDL.

Special Collections & Archives will be closed today, July 3rd in observance of Independence Day. We will resume normal operating hours on Monday, July 6th.

All of us here wish you a safe and happy holiday!

A Birthday Letter to John MacKay Shaw: Poet, Book Collector, Scholar, and Lover of Children

Hi Pop! Happy Birthday!! You’ll never guess what I’ve been up to since your 100th birthday. Imitating you, that’s what, or at least trying to. But there’s no way I will ever have your gift of gab, your great love of children, or your extraordinary management skills. You described your books; I’m describing your papers. That much I can do. I made descriptive lists of all those articles, photographs, correspondence, autographed materials and other things you collected that complement the books — over 120 boxes of items. Our archivist Burt and his students, you knew him, I think, they developed a finding aid based on my lists. As FSU’s catalog leads the scholar to the books, the finding aid leads him to these complementary materials.

Your collection has grown from the original 5000+ books you gave to Florida State University when you and the books moved to Tallahassee in 1960.   You added many more while you were here, and the library has continued to add books ever since you left us in 1984. You produced eleven volumes of a bibliography of your collection and a keyword index to the poems. We now have an estimated 22,000 books.

Remember how it started. You wrote by hand inscriptions in two books you gave Mom and me on our first Christmas together: Poems for Peter by Lysbeth Boyd Borie and The Little Mother Goose, collected and illustrated by Jessie Wilcox Smith:

To Mother and Cathmar

 For Christmas nineteen twenty eight
Rhymes for my sweethearts, small and great
Some old, the others up-to-date.

 Pledge to learn well, and I for mine,
For Christmas nineteen twenty-nine,
Will pledge a present much more fine.

 Father

After Christmas 1928, my brother Bruce joined us. Every evening, even before you arrived home after work, he and I were clamoring for your attention.

"Snow!"  A fabric picture designed and appliqued by your granddaughter Meg Prange in 2008. illustrating  your poem "Headlights Shine."
“Snow!” A fabric picture designed and appliqued by your granddaughter Meg Prange in 2008, illustrating your poem “Headlights Shine.”

You would pull us up onto your lap and our nightly poetry reading, reciting and singing, would begin. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Child’s Garden of Verses for a start, but those poems were about other children. We wanted poems about us. You promised to write them, but only if we told you what to write about. We could do that!

Connie, me and Bruce at Gramma’s house on Samson Street in Philadelphia, 1933
Connie, me and Bruce at Gramma’s house on Sanson Street in Philadelphia, 1933.

You gave each of us, and our cousin Connie too, a black leather binder to hold the copies you typed of the poems you wrote for the three of us between 1930 and 1937. In 1933, you began gathering the poems of each year to be printed in booklets that you sent to your friends as Christmas greetings. I recall how surprised and pleased you were years later when one of the The Friends of Florida State University Libraries told you the poems should be published. When you said you didn’t want anything to do with that process, she took it upon herself to select some of your poems and saw to it that they were published in 1967 as The Things I Want: Poems for Two Children. It was so popular that it went into a second printing, and then Zumpin’ followed with more poems a few years later. We still fill requests for those books every now and then.

By 1938 Bruce and I had lost interest in poetry. How very disappointed you must have been, but you never let on, and we had become too busy with our friends to notice. I did notice though that you were spending lots of time sitting in our big wing chair in the evenings, reading small pamphlets. Little did I know then that they were book dealers’ catalogs, or that the pencil you always held loosely cross-wise between your lips was being used to make checkmarks on the pages. The number of books in our den began to increase, then the number of shelves increased. More books kept appearing to fill the bookcases in our living room. Then I went away to college.

John MacKay Shaw in his study.
John MacKay Shaw in his study.

Within the next ten years, you and Mom moved into New York City. Then retirement from AT&T loomed for you. You had been frustrated in your search of libraries and universities around the country where you and your books would be happy.   You and Mom were visiting us one summer when my friend Jackie stopped by — remember? She suggested her alma mater FSU might be a good repository for your books. Then she followed up that suggestion by writing a letter to the head of the library recommending you and your collection. That did it.

And here you are. And I am here too. Every winter I am having the best of times living with Jackie in our Florida home and working in your collection with the special people here who administer it.

That pledge you made in 1928? You kept it your whole life and FSU Libraries continues to fulfill it. Thank you, Pop, with love and best wishes on your 118th birthday, from Cathmar.

Cathmar Prange is the daughter of John MacKay Shaw, the donor and curator for the childhood in poetry collection that bears his name in Special Collections & Archives. Every winter, Cathmar volunteers to continue organizing and curating her father’s collection and has been doing so for 18 years.