All posts by FSU Special Collections

The Travels of a Fox on His Way to the Grapes

The Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection has just received the gift of a crocheted representation of Aesop’s fable “The Fox and the Grapes.”

A Seychelles Crochet, “The Fox and the Grapes,” ca. 18th C. Gift of Jacqueline Dupont, PhD 1962 FSU, to the Shaw Collection, March 2015.
A Seychelles Crochet, “The Fox and the Grapes,” ca. 18th century. Gift of Jacqueline Dupont, PhD 1962, to the Shaw Collection, March 2015.

Sometime many years ago, an industrious native of The Seychelles, a country of islands nearest to Africa in the Indian Ocean, used a crochet hook to knot this piece of fabric art. Early in the 20th century, Louise Dupont, another native of The Seychelles, immigrated to England and then to Florida. In 1938, on a return holiday to her birthplace, she obtained this piece of fabric and brought it back to the United States with her.

Detail of an illustration designed by Thomas Bewick in the 18th century, from the book Bewick’s select fables of Aesop and others . . .with wood engravings by Thomas Bewick; Longmans, Green 1878.
Detail of an illustration from the book Bewick’s select fables of Aesop and others by Thomas Bewick. London: Longmans, Green, and Co. 1878.

In the 1960s Louise was living in Plant City, Florida near her son’s family when her granddaughter, Jacqueline Dupont, came to Florida State University to study for her Doctorate. When she graduated, Jackie arranged for her family members to stay with local Tallahassee friends. She chose John and Lillian Shaw to host her Grandmere Louise. By this time, John Shaw had given his Childhood in Poetry books, including editions of Aesop’s Fables, to Florida State.

From Aesop's Fables, Coblentz and Syverson. Norwalk: C.R. Gibson Co. 1968.
From Aesop’s Fables, Coblentz and Syverson. Norwalk: C.R. Gibson Co. 1968.

Having worked closely together, Jackie and her major professor Harvye Lewis remained friends after she graduated and Harvye moved to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Her Grandmere Louise presented this piece of Seychelles crochet to Harvye in 1974 in gratitude and respect for Harvye’s mentoring and friendship with her granddaughter. Harvye had it framed and wrote a note on the back of it indicating that it “should be given to Jacqueline L. Dupont.”

When Harvye died in 1998, Jackie, recognizing that “The Fox and the Grapes” would appear often in the Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection, gave it to John Shaw’s daughter, Cathmar Prange, in whose Iowa home it hung ever since Harvye’s death.

After traveling halfway around the world and thousands more miles within the United States, this fox has been delivered to his final stop in Strozier Library’s Special Collections & Archives at Florida State. He is yet to get the grapes however.

Illustration from Aesop's Fables by Percy J. Billinghurst. Ware: Omega Books Ltd. 1984.
Illustration from Aesop’s Fables by Percy J. Billinghurst. Ware: Omega Books Ltd. 1984.

Cathmar Prange is a long time volunteer and donor to Special Collections & Archives and every winter, shares her time in helping to curate and grow her father’s, John Mackay Shaw, collection.

Following a Mystery with One of Our Volunteers

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. She is still discovering things to this day. Here is one of her recent mysteries:

First Page from letter to Mrs. Stephen Graham from Vachel Lindsay.
First Page from letter to Mrs. Stephen Graham from Vachel Lindsay.

The John MacKay Shaw Collection at Florida State University has the manuscript for a book by Stephen Graham. It is two or three inches thick. Recently a colleague asked me the source of this manuscript, but we remain confused about its subject and whence it came. About the author, we knew little. Looking for something else a few days later, I opened the Third Supplement of Dr. Shaw’s bibliography Childhood in Poetry near the middle. Surprise! The page revealed the illustration of a letter penned by poet Vachel Lindsay to Mrs. Stephen Graham. The book that the illustration was copied from, Lindsay’s Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty, is described on the facing page of the Shaw bibliography. FSU’s library catalog revealed its call number and Special Collections staff retrieved the book from the closed stacks. The letter begins on the flyleaf and continues onto the half title page of the book. It is dated February 13, 1920 and reflects Lindsay’s memories of tramping with Graham and sharing their search for the meaning of life beside their campfires. There is no mention of anything related to the manuscript.

Second Page from letter to Mrs. Stephen Graham from Vachel Lindsay.
Second Page from letter to Mrs. Stephen Graham from Vachel Lindsay.

I was familiar with Graham’s name. In 1998, one of FSU’s English professors came into Special Collections and handed me some materials related to Stephen Graham. If the manuscript was part of this offering, it had been handed to somebody else and I never saw it until several years later. Most of these materials I received related to Graham’s leadership of a group who met in the out of doors and shared their poetry not only by reading it, but by performing it as well. These pages too shed no light on the mysterious manuscript.

Further searches of Stephen Graham in FSU’s catalog and in the John MacKay Shaw Collection Finding Aid yielded information but still did not answer my questions. I turned to the Internet. On Wikipedia, an article by Michael Hughes carries a lode of information; Graham’s whole life with titles of many books he had written about his travels all over the world. Hughes wrote this article for the love of it because he felt that Graham has not been given the attention he deserves. He mentions the long “tramps” that Graham and Lindsay shared and their mutual interest in the spiritual aspect of life. After ten years enjoying each other’s company, changes separated them, but they continued their friendship by mail until Lindsay’s death in 1930. Hughes says nothing on Wikipedia about Graham’s interest in poetry however.

Last Page from letter to Mrs. Stephen Graham from Vachel Lindsay.
Last Page from letter to Mrs. Stephen Graham from Vachel Lindsay.

Dr. Hughes remarks that late in his life Stephen Graham visited a friend in Tallahassee. Was this friend the professor who gave me the Graham materials?

Hughes has written a biography of Graham, Beyond Holy Russia: The Life and Times of Stephen Graham. I have scanned this book on line fairly thoroughly several times and have yet to find any mention of our manuscript or an expose of The Poetry Society. I remain in contact with Dr. Hughes in hopes of some avenue opening up to the manuscript.  The latest from Dr. Hughes is that the Harry Ransom Institute in Texas has a copy of it. Stay tuned!

Perhaps the manuscript was written too late in Graham’s life for him to pursue publication, so he had given it to our professor in hopes that he could arrange it. I have written to Dr. Hughes; perhaps between us we can solve the mystery of the Graham manuscript.

Sudden discovery occurs often in my work in Special Collections – far often enough to keep the interest level up and set me off on new adventures each year. The library life is an exciting one – new mystery leaping out while research lays another mystery back to rest.

Extra! Extra! Flambeau Online!

We’re pleased to announce the availability of our first group of the Florida Flambeau, the student newspaper at FSU. The issues from 1915-1930 are now available in the FSU Digital Library (FSUDL).

Detail from the January 17, 1930 Flambeau.
Detail from the January 17, 1930 Flambeau.

Each issue is fully text searchable using Advanced Search in the FSUDL as well as browsable by year and month. We hope to continue to grow this collection over the following years. A larger collection of the Florida Flambeau is currently available in the Internet Archive as well.

Many Happy Returns to the Prince of Tallahassee

On January 21, 1801, Charles Louis Napoleon Achille Murat was born to Joachim and Caroline Bonaparte Murat, Napoleon Bonaparte’s youngest sister. Through the family’s connections with the Emperor, Joachim was eventually made King of Naples, hence the Prince Murat title. Upon the Emperor’s second defeat in 1815, Achille’s father was executed and his mother fled with her children to Vienna.

Achille would emigrate to America upon his 21st birthday in 1821 and became a naturalized citizen fairly soon after, renouncing all his titles. After roaming the country, he settled in Washington DC where he happened to become friends with Richard Keith Call, Florida’s territorial delegate to Congress who told the young man of the many opportunities in the newly acquired territory.

Murat settled first in St. Augustine but later purchased his Lipona Plantation outside Tallahassee after much prodding from the Marquis de Lafayette.  Murat became involved in local politics quickly, serving as alderman and mayor until appointed postmaster in 1826, a post he held until 1838. It was also in Tallahassee that Murat met his future wife, Catherine Daingerfield Willis Gray, great grandniece of George Washington. Murat was also a part of Florida’s militia and would hold the rank of colonel for the rest of his life following the Seminole Wars.

Illustration of Murat and Emerson from A Prince In Their Midst
Illustration of Murat and Emerson from A Prince In Their Midst; The Adventurous Life of Achille Murat on the American Frontier 

A man of many interests, Murat was a writer. He, along with his fellow countryman Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote much on American culture and lifestyle during his lifetime though Murat’s writing never became as popular as Tocqueville. He also had a close friendship with Ralph Waldo Emerson whom he met in St. Augustine in 1826.

After an attempt to regain some of his family’s fortune in the July Revolution of 1830 and several unsuccessful years in New Orleans, Murat and his wife moved back in Tallahassee in the mid 1830s and Murat would remain here the rest of his life. Murat died in 1847 and is buried  in the St. John’s Episcopal Church cemetery in Tallahassee.

Recently, through the efforts of a local group, the historic marker outside the cemetery where Murat and his wife are buried was restored after mysteriously vanishing a year ago. You can read about the new marker and those who helped get it back in place on the Tallahassee Democrat’s website.


From Chaos to Order: Working with a class to create an exhibit

Posting on behalf of Katie McCormick, Associate Dean for Special Collections & Archives:

The Special Collections Research Center has an ongoing collaboration with the Museum Studies program at FSU. The Museum Object course teaches students the fundamentals of museum exhibit creation and installation. In our collaboration, students from the class are given a broad topic and guidance towards collection areas and create an exhibit from our materials. At the end of the semester they install the physical exhibit, most often in our primary exhibit room, and create an online companion exhibit.

Students begin the course with little to no knowledge of our collections and little to no experience creating exhibits. They end the course having worked through all the stages of exhibit design and installation and walk away with a new, important understanding of process and our materials.

Students work through materials to include int he exhibit.
Students work through materials to include in the exhibit.

Over the 2014 fall semester, 8 students from Amy Bowen’s Museum Object class did research on the Battle of Natural Bridge, a Civil War battle in March 1865 that FSU cadets participating in. Students were asked to find and research materials and create an exhibit that highlighted the battle itself, as well has broader themes of community, campus, veterans, and then and now.

Myself and staff from the Research Center, Digital Library Center, and Heritage Protocol worked with the students to teach them about our collections, to help them connect with the State Archives and other campus entities, to digitize and help produce the materials to be put on exhibit, and to work side by side with them during installation.

Installation Day for the exhibit
Installation Day for the exhibit
Installation Day for the exhibit
As you can see, chaotic it can be!

The magic, and immense value, of this kind of partnership is the laboratory nature of the project and the hands on engagement we can provide students. There are times when it is chaotic, when you don’t know what the end product will be, when you’re not sure there will be an end product, when communication appears to have broken down, and when the students make a last minute, last ditch effort to pull together all the parts of something totally new for them. I am always amazed by what the students see in our collections and how they chose to publicly interpret materials and events.

The Battle of Natural Bridge: Bridging Past and Present is free and open to the public Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm in the main exhibit gallery on the first floor of Strozier Library. The online exhibit can be viewed here:

A look at the finished exhibit
From chaos, comes an ordered story
The finished exhibit
The finished exhibit

The Florida Handbooks are now available in the FSU Digital Library!

Cover of The Florida Handbook 2011-2012
Cover of The Florida Handbook 2011-2012

The Florida Handbook is a comprehensive reference source and the official guide to Florida government and history, with additional information on the state’s lands, culture, economy, and people. Allen Morris, the Clerk of the Florida House from 1966-1986, first published the Handbook in 1947. Joan Morris assisted with the compilation of information and then continued updating and publishing the biennial Handbook following Allen’s death until its final print edition in 2011-2012.

The volumes in this collection represent the entire run of print volumes, spanning the years 1947-2012. Beginning with the 2014 edition, the Clerk of the Florida House is continuing the Handbook as an electronic publication with limited print copies being available as well. For more information, visit the Handbook‘s website or call or email the Office of the Clerk at (850) 717-5400,

FSU began digitization of all print versions of the Florida Handbook mid-2014 after receiving permission from Joan Morris to make them publicly available in the FSU Digital Library (FSUDL). We also worked with the Clerk of the Florida House’s office to make sure our project fit in with their plans to take the Handbook forward digitally. We’re pleased to offer these fully text searchable digital copies of the Florida Handbook through the FSUDL.

Happy Holidays!

Four unidentified students setting up outdoor Christmas decorations in front of the Westcott Building during the 1950s.
Four unidentified students setting up outdoor Christmas decorations in front of the Westcott Building during the 1950s.

We here at Florida State University’s Special Collections & Archives division would like to wish you a happy holiday season!

Our Special Collections Research Center will be available by appointment only December 22-23, 2014. Please contact Lisa Girard at (850) 645-0909 or email her at to schedule an appointment. The Norwood Reading Room and the Special Collections Exhibit Room will maintain their normal operating hours on those dates.

Special Collections & Archives division will be closed starting Wednesday, December 24th. We’ll resume normal operating hours on Monday, January 5, 2015.

The Pepper Library Reading Room will be closed starting Tuesday, December 23rd and resume normal operating hours on Monday, January 5, 2015.

We’ll see you in the new year!


Girl’s Own Annual now available in the FSUDL

Thanks to the efforts of our graduate assistants, Katherine and Rebecca, Volumes 38 and 39 of The Girl’s Own Annual is now available in the FSU Digital Library as part of our Poetry during World War I collection.

Published in Britain from 1880 until 1956, The Girl’s Own Annual, alternatively known as the Girl’s Own Paper, was a story paper catering to girls and young women. It includes serialized fiction, advice columns, current events, life and fashion tips for its readers. The issues published during World War I were titled The Girls Own Paper and Woman’s Magazine.

For more information about the collection, see Katherine’s post on Christmas in the magazine and Rebecca’s post on the effect of World War I on the paper’s contents.

This is the first serial we hope to digitize and make available as part of our Poetry during World War I collection so stay tuned for more additions in the coming year!


October is Archives Month

The Special Collections & Archives Division is celebrating American Archives Month which is celebrated every October by archivists throughout the United States.

American Archives Month is an opportunity to raise awareness among various audiences of the value of archives and archivists. These audiences may include students, scholars, policy makers, influential people within our communities, prospective donors, and the general public. It’s also a time to focus on the importance of records of enduring value and to enhance public recognition for the people and programs that are responsible for maintaining our communities’ vital historical records.

This month, Illuminations will share behind the scenes posts about what our archivists do here at FSU and how we contribute both to the success of our patrons and the FSU Libraries as a whole. We’re also participating in the Society of Florida Archivists Archive Month festivities, which this year includes an exhibit on the theme Weird Florida, celebrating all that is weird and wonderful about our state.

Let Archives Month commence!

September Scoop on Special Collections & Archives

We’re starting a new feature here on Illuminations, a monthly “Scoop” as a quick way to share what our different areas have been up to over the last month and keep you up to date and informed about what our hard working staff are up to!

Special Collections & Archives

For several months, Burt Altman, Archivist, has been engaged in a project to reprocess the Paul A.M. Dirac Papers. The work has involved shifting and reboxing his vast collection of personal and professional correspondence, calculations, articles, photographs, and travel files, as well as his late wife Margit’s papers. These materials were housed in archival boxes, many of which were underfilled, so that the folders couldn’t stand upright, and there were preservation issues with storage of photographs and several photo albums. Also, most photographs were not properly described in the finding aid, which impeded access. These activities will insure better long-term preservation and more efficient access for this extremely significant collection. To continue providing access during this project, a note was placed in the catalog record and in the finding aid informing researchers that preservation and rehousing is being done, and if materials are needed, to contact Burt or the Special Collections Reading Room. Burt is happy to report that as of the last week of September, nearly 65% of this collection has been reprocessed, and the project will be completed sometime in October.

Hannah Davis, archival assistant in HPUA, disbinds a book for better storage and access.
Hannah Davis, archival assistant in HPUA, disbinds a book for better storage and access.

Heritage Protocol & University Archives

Outreach: HPUA attended the Emeritus Coffee Chat and celebrated the 100th birthday of 1936 FSCW alumna and emeritus chemistry professor, Kitty Hoffman. We had a great time hearing stories and sharing memorabilia with alumni!

Preservation and access: We disbound two books that contained West Florida Seminary catalogs from the late 19th century and they will be digitized and added to the Digital Library. The catalogs provide a unique look at our predecessor institution, and will be an invaluable resource for researchers interested in the West Florida Seminary.

Claude Pepper Library

This month, the Claude Pepper Library brought a new collection into its stacks. In 1990, Larry Durrence was named a Visiting Professor at FSU with a full-time assignment with the Florida Tax & Budget Reform Commission (TBRC). In January 1991 he was then promoted by the Commission members from Senior Analyst to Executive Director for his remaining term with the TBRC. This past Friday the 26th, Mr. Durrence donated three boxes of material related to the work of the Commission during his time there. The collection will be processed and made available to researchers by the early spring of 2015.

The Pepper Library also hosted Dr. G. Kurt Piehler’s ‘The American GI in War and Peace in World War II” class on the 18th of September. Coming in as part of a larger tour hosted by History Liaisons Sarah Buck-Kachaluba and Bill Modrow, the history seminar class was introduced to Claude Pepper and his work during the Second World War while a member of the US Senate. The class was also able to hear an excerpt of a Pepper speech given in late June of 1941 which warned of the dangers of the Nazi threat.

Cataloging & Description

Amy Weiss, Head of Cataloging & Description, taught a workshop entitled “RDA without tears” to help put RDA coding into a practical perspective. A lot of RDA training is very theoretical in orientation, but this class was intended as a “how to” class.  Three members of the medical school library joined up for the class, as did one of the serials catalogers. We went over the basics of the RDA record in the MARC format, and we discussed “hybrid records” where some features of RDA are used in an AACR2 record.

The Authorities/Catalog Management Unit and Linda Brown in Serials finished the ASERL Documents Project. To explain, Florida State University Libraries is a member of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL). Last year, the ASERL libraries were asked to select three areas to catalog for the Centers of Excellence – an ASERL program envisioning the creation of comprehensive collections of U.S. government information from each Federal government agency. FSU’s 3 ASERL collections are Economic Development Administration (1965-) Call number is C46… approx. 400 items, Federal Security Agency (1939-1969) Call number is FS2… approx. 3,000 items and the Library of Congress Country Studies Call number is D101.22:550- approx. 316 items.

Digital Library Center

The DLC started several new projects this month. The Florida Handbook from 1947-2012 and Florida State College for Women scrapbooks were in the DLC for digitization. Image quality control continues on the Florida Flambeau images and we’ve started a pilot project for the loading and metadata creation of the issues in the FSU Digital Library. We completed the digitization of the latest batch of papers from the Paul A.M. Dirac collection which now goes into post digitization processing before loading into the FSU Digital Library. We also attended the History program mixer event hosted in the Special Collections Exhibit Room and enjoyed introducing the DLC to the faculty and students in that department.