All posts by FSU Special Collections

The End of a “Nightmare”: Experiences in the Aftermath of World War II

Continuing their work promoting a new collection of materials from the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University by a student leader for the project, Gabriela Maduro.

As World War II came to an end in 1945, individuals across the globe celebrated the cessation of one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. Yet, for many people, the end of the war did not necessarily mean a return to normal life. The letters of the Hasterlik-Hine Collection provide a nuanced first-hand account of the tumultuous period following the end of the war, chronicling the story of a family that had to cope with not only the loss of family members and friends but also, perhaps most significantly, the loss of a homeland.

Letter from Mia Hasterlik to Giulia Koritschoner, August 16, 1945
Mia Hasterlik writes about the joys of V-J day in New York City to her daughter. August 16, 1945 [original item]
Letters from Mia Hasterlik to her daughter, Giulia Koritschoner, highlight the joy with which the end of the war was received in the United States, expressing disbelief at the fact that “this nightmare is really past, that it’s over,” and expressing excitement at a future that was “spreading more beautiful in front of our eyes.” Mia described the jubilation with which VE Day (Victory in Europe) and VJ Day (Victory over Japan) were celebrated in New York, where “all the people [were] happy and drunk and all the soldiers and sailors [were] out of their minds. All the girls got kissed, everybody had lipstick on their faces, thousands of tons of paper, which people had thrown out their windows.”

Underlying the joy of these letters, however, was a lingering sense of sadness and loss. Mia lamented the “heavy, irreplaceable loss” of her father, Paul Hasterlik, who died at Theresienstadt in 1944. While Giulia expressed nostalgia for the Vienna that she was forced to flee from at the beginning of the war, Mia instead stated, “I have no yearning whatsoever for Vienna, could never return. Because of… all the crimes which they carried out with their ‘Golden Viennese Hearts.’” Much of the correspondence during this time also highlights the desperate search for missing family members and friends that took place after the war. Mia, in particular, made frantic attempts to find Boni, an old family friend who had stayed behind in Vienna with Paul, and Ellen Christansen, a childhood friend of Giulia’s who was also forced to remain in Vienna.

Letter from Mia Hasterlik to Giulia Koritschoner, June 23, 1945
A page from a letter to Giulia Koritschoner from her mother. June 23, 1945, [original item]
Yet, the letters of the Hasterlik-Hine Collection also highlight the essential truth that, even in times of dramatic change or loss, daily life must still continue on much in the same way. Many of the letters between Giulia and Mia include discussions of the various suitors that Giulia encountered during her time living in Switzerland. These individuals range from a suitor named Pernal “Franz” Francois who served in the Polish Army to a Viennese man named Gustav Stux who had fallen in love with Giulia despite the fact that he was already in his fifties. Mia frequently reminded Giulia of the respectable family that she belonged to and urged her to keep values of honor and propriety in mind.

The Hasterlik-Hine Collection offers a fascinating glimpse into the aftermath of World War II, as experienced by individuals who lived in countries spanning from Switzerland to the United States. While the fighting ended in 1945, many families still struggled with the death, separation, and upheaval created by the war for years after its official conclusion.

A discussion of these letters and letters like it from other troubled times in history will be presented at the Letters in Troubled Times: Evaluation of Epistolary Sources conference on Friday, February 16, 2018, in Tallahassee, Florida. Please contact Dr. Suzanne Sinke about questions regarding the conference.

In his “Great Shadow”: Robert Burns’ Legacy

Robert Burns’ ability to spontaneously produce musical and poignant verse earned him the title of “Scotland’s Bard,” and ensured that his legacy would remain especially close to that nation’s people and their descendants. Special Collections & Archives’ forthcoming exhibit, “In his ‘Great Shadow’: Robert Burns’ Legacy,” opening January 22nd, explores not only the lyrical finesse that led to our remembrance of him, but especially how he is remembered.

Portrait_of_Robert_Burns_Ayr_Scotland
Portrait of Robert Burns by Detroit Publishing Company [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Items created by Burns Clubs for memorial celebrations evince the long history of social responses to Burns’ greatness; drawing on the Scottish and John McKay Shaw Collections at FSU’s Special Collections & Archives, the exhibit especially highlights the tradition of Burns Suppers, which are still celebrated around the world. Like memorial celebrations, poetic homages to Burns began almost at the moment of his death. This exhibit explores these poetic echoes, from Sir Walter Scott to current Scottish poet laureate Jackie Kay. Experience firsthand the social and poetic legacies of Burns — what Keats called “his Great Shadow” — through beautiful historical items in our collections.

The exhibit is holding a soft opening starting January 22, 2018, and then will be open through the Spring semester in the Exhibit Room in Strozier Library, Monday-Thursday, 10am to 6pm and Friday 10am to 5:30pm.

Happy Holidays from FSU Special Collections

All of us here in Special Collections & Archives wish you and your family a safe and wonderful holiday season!

The cover from Dear Santa Claus: charming holiday stories for boys and girls, 1901 (original item).

We have a series of children’s books in the Shaw collection that was published especially for children at the holidays in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This cover comes from one of our favorites which includes one of the most famous Christmas poems, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”

Our hours are a bit different over the next few weeks so here are our altered hours through January 8, 2018:

  • We’ll be open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, December 18 and 19, 2017.
  • We’ll be available by appointment on Wednesday and Thursday, December 20 and 21, 2017. To schedule an appointment, email lib-specialcollections@fsu.edu or call (850) 644-3271.
  • We’ll be closed starting Friday, December 22, 2017 until Tuesday, January 2, 2018
  • We’ll be open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. starting Tuesday, January 2, 2018 through Friday, January 5, 2018.
  • we’ll resume our normal operating hours on Monday, January 8, 2018

Coming of Age in World War II: Homes Away from Home

Here’s another post promoting a new collection of materials from the Insistute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University by a student leader for the project, Gabriela Maduro.

Only thirteen years old when World War II began, Giulia Koritschoner came of age in a time of uncertainty and chaos. Despite the context in which Giulia grew up, however, the letters of the Hasterlik-Hine collection demonstrate the fact that, for those on the home front, daily life often continued on as normal. Indeed, Giulia’s correspondence throughout 1942 regularly includes cheerful greeting cards for holidays that are decorated with personalized drawings and beautiful calligraphy. These letters were sent from not only family members but also a vast array of friends and acquaintances that Giulia made throughout the war years.

A card from Heidi Wettstein to Giulia Koritschoner (original item)

Giulia’s letters to and from schoolmates portray scenes of growing up that remained largely unchanged even in times of war. This is particularly evident in Giulia’s letters to and from Margaret Wolf, a friend from Schaffhausen who evolved from sending letters complaining about disliked teachers and unbearably boring school lessons to letters that explained her fears about graduating from school and having to enter the workforce. Giulia’s own letters mirror this development, as she wrote to her family contemplating a variety of jobs, from a lab technician to a stenographer to a masseuse. Even in the midst of the war, the possibilities for the future seemed endless.

Yet, elements of the war do seep into many of the letters. Discussions of rationing figure prominently in much of Giulia’s correspondence, as Ällägg Bechtold, a school friend from Schaffhausen, described how school was let out early in the spring because of a shortage of coal to keep students warm. Margaret Wolf complained that bakeries purposely sold old bread because it was thought that individuals would consume it more slowly than fresh bread. Even the letter that Giulia’s school principal sent to her was written not on regular paper but rather on postcards that students were encouraged to fill with holiday greetings and send to soldiers in order to boost their morale.

Many of Giulia’s letters to and from her family during this time contain anxiety about Giulia’s grandfather, Paul Hasterlik, who remained behind in Vienna while the rest of the family escaped. Although attempts were made to organize his passage to the United States, these efforts ultimately proved unsuccessful, and the letters reflect concerns about everything from whether Paul was able to find food to whether he was, in fact, actively being “tormented.” Although letters from Paul contained joy about Giulia’s recovery from polio and excitement about her prospects for the future, he remained vague in descriptions of his own life, only briefly mentioning that he was forced to move to another apartment in Vienna.

Other members of Giulia’s family struggled during this time as well. Mia Hasterlik’s letters outline her difficulties finding suitable employment in New York while living in unpleasant conditions. Perhaps most dramatically, Susi Weiss, Giulia’s older sister who moved to Nairobi at the beginning of the war, describes the emotional and physical abuse to which her husband subjected her to and her overwhelming happiness at finally being free of him.
This vast array of voices and subject matter reflected in the Hasterlik-Hine collection depict a strange intersection between war and daily life that occurred for those living on the home front during World War II. Ultimately, the collection offers an invaluable glimpse of what it means to come of age in a time of war, highlighting the fears, delights, and amusements that punctuated daily life.

A discussion of these letters and letters like it from other troubled times in history will be presented at the Letters in Troubled Times: Study of Epistolary Sources conference on Friday, February 16, 2018 in Tallahassee, Florida. Please contact Dr. Suzanne Sinke at ssinke@fsu.edu about questions regarding the conference.

Dealing with Daily Life during World War II

This post is by Emily Woessner, one of two students leading the project digitizing selections from the Hasterlik-Hine Collection at the Institute of World War II and the Human Experience. More materials have been added to the digital collection and may be viewed here. The first post about this project is here.

Giulia Hasterlik was only 13 years old when her mother arranged for her to leave Vienna, Austria and travel to Switzerland to live safely without fear of Nazi persecution. Giulia was taken in by a minister’s wife named Alice Sigerist who already had a daughter of her own, Gretli Sigerist, close to Giulia’s age. Giulia lived in the small town of Schaffhausen, Switzerland for 7 years (1938 to 1946). While living in Schaffhausen, she attended an all-girls Catholic school and had many friends. However, she kept in contact with a number of her schoolmates back in Vienna. Letters from Evi Leib and Elizabeth “Lisl” Urbantischitsch, in particular, detail the lives of young girls who are dealing with such situations as crushes, boredom, school work, and prospects of the future. The girls draw pictures in their letters and used secret languages— they worry, joke, and dream just like young girls of today. Their letters to and from one another allowed them to maintain their friendships and a sense of normalcy during the war years.

Giulia was not the best student, a bit mischievous at times, but generally, she enjoyed her life in the small town of Schaffhausen. Although she noted that it was quite different from her middle-class upbringing in Vienna. Unfortunately, in August 1941 at 16 years old Giulia contracted poliomyelitis and was taken to Kanton Hospital in the center of Schaffhausen. She had to pause her studies at school. During this time the letters to and from her classmates served as a window to the outside world where she could escape the boredom of the hospital and maintain her friendships. At times the letters to Giulia simply wished her well and asked how she was progressing with her treatment. Other times her classmates detailed holiday trips, plans for future jobs and schooling, or fun puzzles and poems for Giulia to enjoy. These letters provided relief and laughter for Giulia during her most intense treatment.

Get Well Card sent to Giulia while she was receiving treatment for polio (original object)

It was not only school friends who wrote to Giulia at this time, though. Alice Sigerist had informed both Paul Hasterlik, Giulia’s grandfather, and Auguste Hasterlik, Giulia’s aunt, about the polio diagnosis. Paul and Auguste wrote heartfelt and uplifting letters to Giulia, but they also warned her against saying anything to her mother, Mia Hasterlik, about her condition. They feared the news would be far too upsetting for Mia and worry her unnecessarily because she was already living in New York City and would be helpless to take care of Giulia. For her part, Alice worked diligently to ensure Giulia was properly cared for and enlisted the help of her in-laws and countless doctors. In December 1941 Giulia was transferred to Insel Hospital in Bern, Switzerland where she underwent many months of treatment while continuing to receive letters from her friends and family.

When studying World War II one often forgets that people still had to contend with daily life and its unexpected occurrences. When Giulia Hasterlik fell ill with polio the war was in full swing, her family was strewn across the globe, and she was doing her best to live a normal life in Switzerland. Oftentimes all she had to keep in touch with her friends and family were these letters. They kept her relations, faith, and sanity strong despite all the hardship and uncertainty she endured as a young woman.

A discussion of these letters and letters like them from other tumultuous times in history will be presented at the Letters in Troubled Times: Study of Epistolary Sources conference happening Friday, February 16, 2018, in Tallahassee, Florida. Please contact Dr. Suzanne Sinke for questions regarding the conference.

Joining the Digital Public Library of America

We here at FSU are happy to have been part of the team to make the launch of the Sunshine State Digital Network (SSDN) possible. The SSDN will coordinate the work of harvesting Florida digital collections into the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). The first harvest of materials from Florida State University, Florida International University and the University of Miami is now available at dp.la.

The following is from the original press release by FSU Libraries:

Florida State University Libraries and their partners are pleased to announce the launch of the Sunshine State Digital Network (SSDN). The SSDN is part of the Digital Public Library of America and FSU is proud to be the service hub for the state of Florida. The service hub represents a community of institutions in the state which will provide their partner institutions aggregated metadata for the DPLA and offer tiered services to connect institutions of all sizes to DPLA.

The DPLA is an ever-growing national network of libraries, archives, museums, cultural heritage institutions, and volunteers that set out to provide a local impact in its communities, strengthened by a global reach. It is a free service, offering access to over 17 million items from around the globe. DPLA Network Manager Kelcy Shepherd says, “We’re so excited to welcome Sunshine State Digital Network to DPLA and to share Florida’s rich digital content alongside content of our other Hubs. We appreciate SSDN’s commitment to broadly sharing cultural heritage content with the public and to participating in the DPLA network.”

The SSDN operates on a multi-tiered hub system consisting of the main hub and regional sub-hubs. The main service hub is located at Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. The sub-hub is located in Miami, FL with responsibilities shared among the University of Miami (UM) and Florida International University (FIU).

While partnering with UM and FIU, the network will provide digital access to over 72,000 cultural heritage materials from across the state of Florida. FSU will manage all administrative aspects of the network, serve as the financial center, and submit the state’s aggregated metadata to DPLA. By submitting metadata to DPLA, it will increase the discoverability and use of our culturally rich and diverse digital collections while allowing individuals to use materials creatively, enhance their research and learning, develop new resources for teaching and discovery, and foster interdisciplinary inquiry.

You can also read the press release from DPLA here.

The Age of Experience: We Tell Better Stories

CyndaSM
Work from the new exhibition

An exhibition of new work by Amy Fleming, The Age of Experience: We Tell Better Stories, is coming to the Claude Pepper Museum at the Claude Pepper Center, 636 West Call Street, Tallahassee, on the campus of Florida State University. The exhibition runs from December 1, 2017, to January 19, 2018, with an opening reception December 1, 6 – 9 p.m.

The exhibition is funded by a grant from Puffin Foundation Ltd. The Puffin Foundation provides grants to artists whose work addresses social issues, or who may be excluded from mainstream opportunities due to race, gender, or social philosophy.

This exhibition works to change the narrative around the way we discuss aging by focusing attention on the many vibrant members of our elder community. Ageism is a byproduct of a hyperconsumerist mindset: the disposability of mass-produced goods, the replacement of “old” with “new” without regard to quality or continued usefulness feeds into this attitude. In The Age of Experience: We Tell Better Stories, images of mass-produced discards find new life as impossible robes and royal collars made from pump valves and vacuum tubes, pull tab rings reappear as chain mail, soda bottles form crowns and halos.

Amy has been working with members of the City of Tallahassee Senior Center to create a series of screen and relief printed portraits. Participants in the project range in age from 60 to their mid 90’s. She became interested in problems facing older adults when two family members were dismissed from their jobs when they entered their 60’s despite having excellent work records. One is still having difficulty finding full-time employment.

Amy Fleming is an Adjunct Professor of Printmaking and Print Lab Manager at Florida State University. She is the recipient of a grant from Puffin Foundation Ltd., a Robert Rauschenberg/Barrier Island Group for the Arts award, has been an Associate Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts artists residency, Artist in Residence at 621 Gallery and a Summer River Fellows Program resident artist at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia. Her work is included in public and private collections including the Jean and Alexander Heard Library at Vanderbilt University, and the Southern Graphics Council International permanent collection at Kennesaw State University.

Senator Claude Pepper, D-FL, served as chair of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Aging from 1977 through 1983. Pepper led the fight against elder abuse, established legislation to fund Alzheimer’s research and care centers, and pushed energetically against age stereotyping. One of his famous quotes is “Ageism is as odious as racism and sexism.”

For more information on the exhibition, please contact Amy Fleming at ajfleming@fsu.edu and visit her website at www.amyflemingstudio.com.

The Claude Pepper Center Museum is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. To 5 p.m.
For holiday closing information, please check http://claudepeppercenter.fsu.edu/contact/.

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving in the Suwannee Room
Thanksgiving in the Suwannee Room, 1941

From all of us here at FSU Special Collection & Archives, we wish you and your family a safe and lovely Thanksgiving holiday.

Special Collections & Archives will close at 11:30am on Wednesday, November 22 and remain closed Thursday and Friday, November 23 and 24. We will return to our normal operating hours on Monday, November 27. For up to date information about the Libraries’ hours, visit the Hours page on the website.

A New Digital Collection from the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience

Special Collections & Archives is excited to be working with FSU’s Institute on World War II and the Human Experience on an extensive digitization project to bring a large set of letters into  DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository. As we add new items to the digital library from this collection, the two students in charge of the project will share information about the work and collection on the blog so here is the first post about the new collection!

The Hasterlik-Hine collection housed at the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University is a unique letter collection in terms of its depth and scope. Donated by Giulia Hine (maiden name: Hasterlik) in 2003, this collection has roughly 14,000 German and English letters spanning familiar generations from the 18th to the 21st century. In preparation for the Letters in Troubled Times: Evaluating Epistolary Sources conference set for February 16, 2018, in Tallahassee, Florida, the Institute processed a portion of the collection focusing on letters to and from Giulia in the years 1938 to 1943 and 1945 to 1948.

Page from a letter from Elizabeth ‘Lisl’ Urbantschitsch to Giulia Hasterlik, January 3, 1939.

Giulia Hine was born into a middle-upper class family in Vienna, Austria on September 30, 1925. Her father, Julius Kortischoner passed away in 1928. Before the outbreak of World War II, Mia Hasterlik-Kortischoner, Giulia’s mother, arranged for Giulia and her older half-sister, Suzanne “Susi” Wolff, to emigrate out of Vienna, Austria to escape persecution under the Nuremberg Laws which deemed the family Jewish. At 13 years old Giulia was safely housed in Switzerland where she lived with Frau Alice Sigerist and her daughter Gretli from the end of 1938 to 1946. Susi sailed to Kenya to meet and marry Robert Seemann in an arranged agreement to keep her safe. Mia stayed in Vienna, Austria for a time in order to take care of her elderly father, Paul, who decided he did not want to leave. Eventually, though, Mia left for England and then emigrated to the United States where her sister Auguste was living in New York, New York. As the family scattered all over the world they wrote hundreds of letters to and from her one another and countless friends back home.

Within the letters, one begins to see the intricacies of maintaining long-distance relationships during one of the most dangerous times in modern history. The use of self-censorship in order to avoid creating worry is apparent in letters written by all. For example, while in Switzerland Giulia contracted Poliomyelitis and yet she kept the entire ordeal from her mother until the end of the war. Susi, on a similar note, hid the details of the abuse she suffered while married to Robert. Despite the troubled times and personal struggles, the letters also reveal many small delights encountered by family members and friends such as anecdotes about pets and school trips. One gains an understanding and appreciations for the bonds of family while reading each letter, especially the heartfelt correspondence between Giulia and her grandfather, Paul. These letters serve as a testament to the strength and ingenuity of a family determined to survive and thrive.

The first set of five sets being digitized are now available in DigiNole: FSU’s digital repository. Translations of the letters are forthcoming for this first batch and will be included in each subsequent batch for the project. Stay tuned for new items in the collection over the next few months.

Deep-C Joins the Digital Library

One of our brilliant student workers just finished describing a born-digital collection for the University Archives. We’ll let her tell you more!

My name is Meg Barrett, and I’m a junior studying Art History and French. I started working as a Special Collections & Archives assistant last summer. So far, I’ve had the opportunity to work on some really interesting projects. Most recently, I finished creating the metadata for the Deep-C Consortium papers.

The Deep-C (Deep Sea to Coast Connectivity in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico) Consortium was a four-year, interdisciplinary study of deep sea to coast connectivity in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. The study, which began in 2011, investigated the environmental consequences of petroleum hydrocarbon release in the deep Gulf on living marine resources and ecosystem health. Deep-C examined the geomorphologic, hydrologic, and biogeochemical settings that influence the distribution and fate of the oil and dispersants released during the Deepwater Horizon (DwH) accident, and used the resulting data for model studies that support improved responses to possible future incidents. You can still visit the study’s website for more information as well.

As somebody who enjoys studying arts and languages, the idea of going through the Deep-C files, which are focused on scientific research, felt very out of my comfort zone. However, as I began sorting through the posters, images, and graphs from the study, I found the information presented so interesting. I really enjoyed the project, and I’m happy to have had the chance to work on it!

 

DeepC_Poster
One of the posters in the Deep-C Consortium collection. See the original object here.