All posts by Krystal Thomas

About Krystal Thomas

Digital Archivist at Florida State University

Archives Month in FSU Special Collections & Archives

October is American Archives Month. And while every month is Archives Month to those of us here in Special Collections & Archives, October is the month we really like to toot our own horn.

We kicked off the festivities this year with our annual takeover of the FSU Libraries twitter handle for #AskAnArchivist day which was on October 2, 2019 this year. We had a great day of discussion and sharing out information about our collections, our practices and what exactly it is we do every day in all our spaces. You can see a round-up of (most) of the tweets below. Happy Reading! [In case the tweets are not appearing in this post since technology is not always our friend, even to the digital archivist, you can view this Tweet Collection here as well.]

Scrapbooks to the Past, Gadsden County Edition

Scrapbooks are one of the best time capsules an archives may hold in its collections. These books, some giant, some small, were put together with care and love by the people who were actively looking to document and save their history as it was happening. Here at FSU, we hold dozens of scrapbooks that students have put together over the years, showing what student life was like on campus but also what was happening outside of FSU in the wider world that was affecting them as they worked on their degree.

Today, I share a very different kind of scrapbook. In partnership with the Havana History & Heritage Society in Havana, Florida, we digitized and described seven large scrapbooks kept by the Home Extension Services agent in Gadsden County, Florida from 1916 until 1961. These books showcase the work of 4-H clubs and women’s groups throughout some of the toughest years this rural Florida county faced during the Great Depression and into World War II.

A page from the 1928-1932 scrapbook. The caption reads “4-H Club Girls’ Exhibit of Canned Products. Achievement Day 1929” [See Original Scrapbook]

As a 21st century woman through and through, I marvel at the skills these children and women had to grow, preserve and produce the food, clothing and other resources they and their families needed during these years. Looking at the photos included in these books, what they called a “garden” was actually a small-scale farm. This was brought home to me especially when I found a FSU connection. It seems, in the 1930s, Florida State College for Women (FSCW), what FSU was called until 1947, often bought produce and their Thanksgiving turkeys from the Extension Services in Gadsden County. Which means, these small farms, helmed by women by the looks of it in the scrapbooks, were producing enough for themselves, their community and then some!

Take a look at these scrapbooks and some photographs that we digitized as part of this project with the Havana History & Heritage Society. I look forward to working with more community groups in our region to continue to bring to light the history and work of the people in Big Bend Region through partnerships like this one.

Summer Quiet

Summer is indeed a quieter time on campus. Today starts the summer term here at FSU and we wish all students the best of luck in their summer classes.

Title page from the Summer Holiday issue of The Girl’s Own Paper (1883). See the entire issue here.

We recently posted in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository more volumes of The Girl’s Own Paper, or The Girl’s Own Annual as it was eventually titled. You can browse issues from this publication geared at young British girls and teenagers from the years 1880-1893 in DigiNole. This is an ongoing digitization project so be sure to look out for “new” issues in the future. This publication is a part of the larger John MacKay Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection. Titles from that collection which have been digitized may be browsed and searched in DigiNole as well.

Happy Summer!

The Lord Mayor’s Show

In loading some new titles to the John MacKay Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection, I noticed an event popping up in several of the texts. The Lord Mayor’s Show, an event still held today, was a popular topic in British children’s books in the 1800s.

Pages from Lord Mayor’s Show, or, The 9th of November (1810) [see original item here]

Children’s books in this era were often used to educate and explain people, place, nature and events to children. As the first example, Lord Mayor’s show, or, The 9th of November (1810) shows. This hand-colored picture book explains all the pageantry surrounding the event as well as takes the reader through each individual event that makes up the Show.

First page of the poem, “Lord Mayor’s Show” [See original item here]

Another example shows how prominent events in children’s lives could always be used to teach a lesson. In The rose-bud: a flower in the juvenile garland, a poem entitled “Lord Mayor’s Show” shows a young boy exclaiming over all the pomp and circumstance around the traditional parade at the Lord Mayor’s Show. His parents are quick to point out it is the hard work the Lord Mayor puts in that is valued and not the gold of his carriage.

The Lord Mayor’s Show is one of the longest running events of its kind, dating back to the 16th century and still celebrated today on the same date as the young children in the 1800s would have celebrated it. Both of these examples show how children’s literature can give us a glimpse into how events have changed, or remained the same.

You can explore more books and poetry of the John MacKay Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection through DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository. We’re adding new titles to the collection often so be sure to check back!

Looking back at High School in Tallahassee 1957-1987

Since September of last year, FSU Libraries has partnered with Leon High School, Florida’s oldest continually accredited high school, to digitize their school yearbooks and newspaper and provide access to those materials through the FSU Digital Library. This has been a rewarding community partnership for the Digital Library Center and Special Collections & Archives here at FSU as it has allowed us to work closely with members of the Tallahassee community and also given those of us working on the project, many not Tallahassee natives, a unique view into the life of high schoolers in our city starting in the 1920s.

A page spread from the May 15, 1981, Leon High Life. View entire issue here

A new batch of Leon High School (LHS) newspapers was just loaded into the FSU Digital Library. This set spans from 1957 to 1987 during which our area, and the world, saw a massive amount of growth and change, especially technological change. The 1950s issues sport ads for film-based cameras, record shops, and lunch counter drug stores. Fast forward to the 1980s where cassette tapes, college radio, and computers all enter the high school parlance. Not to mention the cultural and social changes these issues record from the point of view of a high schooler. It is a truly fascinating way to look at the history of Tallahassee, Florida and beyond.

You can browse all the LHS newspaper issues here and look at the entire LHS collection here which includes 80 editions of their yearbook, The Lion’s Tale.

An Underwater View

One of the advantages to the location of Florida State University is we’re not so very far from the Gulf of Mexico. FSU first established a research facility, The Oceanographic Institute, on the gulf coast in 1949 on 25 acres on the harbor side of the peninsula that forms Alligator Harbor, about 45 miles south of Tallahassee.

FSU Marine Lab from the water (St George's Sound on the Gulf of Mexico)
FSU Marine Lab from the water (St George’s Sound on the Gulf of Mexico) See Original Image Record

The Oceanographic Institute maintained a substantial research effort throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The research conducted by the faculty and graduate students was intended to be interdisciplinary, balancing fundamental investigations of the productivity of tropical continental-shelf waters in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico with applied research on practical problems of the commercial and sport fisheries and the use of other marine resources. Various other research locations were also used over the years.

In 1966, FSU formed the Department of Oceanography on campus, and the Oceanographic Institute was closed. A new facility was built across the harbor and further to the west on land donated to Florida State University by Ed Ball, President of the St. Joe Paper Company. This facility opened in 1968 and was known as the Edward Ball Marine Laboratory. Today, it is known as the FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory. For more information on the history of the Laboratory, visit the Lab’s History webpage.

Marine Lab Boat, Seminole. See Original Image Record

Recently, Heritage & University Archives added a collection of digitized materials about the Coastal and Marine Laboratory to the FSU Digital Library. This collection includes photographs, plans, letters and other documentation collected in operating the Lab since the 1950s. The photographs, in particular, show the growth of the Lab’s operations as well as the experiences of its faculty and students at the Lab and on the water over the years. To explore this new collection, visit the Lab’s collection in the FSU Digital Library.

Recapping Archives Month at FSU

October is a special month for those us in the archives. It’s an entire month to celebrate our collections and, more importantly, our work which is often shrouded in mystery. Even for our co-workers in libraries. So, archivists have embraced American Archives Month, held every October, as a way to share what it is we do.

Visitors to our FSU Faculty & Staff Open House on October 26, 2018
Visitors to our FSU Faculty & Staff Open House on October 26, 2018

For us here in Special Collections & Archives this year, we started October by participating in #AskAnArchivist day on October 3, 2018, by staging a takeover of the FSU Libraries twitter feed, answering questions and participating in discussions that happened all over the Twittersphere. You can check out the hashtag #AskAnArchivist and the FSU Libraries twitter page to catch up on those tweets.

We had some celebration of the month here on the blog. We opened a new exhibit on protest in poetry, highlighted our Artist Book and Napoleon collections, shared a new digital collection available in our digital library, talked about our new records on FSU presidents, and looked for the spooky side of Special Collections for Halloween.

Special Collections & Archives hosted our first Open House for Archives Month this year for our faculty and staff here in FSU Libraries. We hope to grow this event in the coming years so more people on campus and in the community can come and see our collections and talk to us about our work.

Lastly, we also had our annual tradition of visiting Paul Dirac’s gravesite and cleaning the headstone. Dirac, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, retired to Tallahassee and taught at FSU while he lived here. Upon his death, his papers and collections came here to FSU and is a cornerstone collection to our History of Science materials.

Cleaning Dirac's headstone at Roselawn Cemetery, October 30, 2018
Cleaning Dirac’s headstone at Roselawn Cemetery, October 30, 2018

 

Studying the birds after a war

Our partnership with the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience has introduced me to some of the most interesting people of the Greatest Generation. I added a new one to my list this week as I loaded a set of photographs from Dr. Oliver L. Austin Jr. Students working for Dr. Annika A. Culver digitized this small set of images from the collection earlier this year for a museum in Japan. A student described them over this summer and now they are available in DigiNole (and later this year, will be available in DPLA).

Nihonbashi Takashimaya Department Store
Nihonbashi Takashimaya Department Store, 1946-1949 [original record]
Dr. Austin sounds like he was always up for an adventure. In 1931, he received Harvard University’s first Ph.D. Degree in Ornithology. As a seasoned sailor whose family owned a summer home on Cape Cod, Austin felt that he could be of service to the US Navy, and volunteered for sea duty in World War II, a somewhat unpopular posting prior to the Battle of Midway when the Japanese were still a formidable presence in the western Pacific Ocean. In 1942, when he was 39 years old, he went to naval headquarters in Boston and received his orders in late July. After three months of communications school, he was assigned to the USS Tryon, an evacuation transport, or armed hospital ship, headed for an embattled contingent of Marines in New Caledonia. Deck service was followed by duty in Admiral Bull Halsey’s communication pool and as communications officer on a gas tanker to forward bases. While in dock, he collected over 2,000 bird and bat specimens in “no man’s land” of the Pacific Theater’s roughest battles, including Tulagi and Bougainville, and even discovered two new bat species in Guadalcanal. After two years in the Navy and earning Lieutenant Commander rank, Austin was transferred to “military government school” at Princeton University to prepare him for service in the future occupations of Korea and Japan.

Dr. Oliver Austin
Dr. Oliver Austin, 1945-1952 [original record]
Dr. Austin headed the Wildlife Branch of the Fisheries Division in the Natural Resources Section (NRS) for Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) from September 4, 1946 to December 31, 1949. He was honored as one of only two members of the US Occupation of Japan who received a personal commendation for meritorious civilian service by General Douglas MacArthur. Austin implemented reforms of game laws and created wildlife sanctuaries as well as public hunting grounds to help conserve and manage Japan’s wildlife and natural resources. During his nearly four years in Japan, Austin left behind almost 1,000 well-preserved color photographic slides of postwar Japan under reconstruction. Highlights include American expatriate life, ordinary Japanese families in Tokyo and the countryside, and Japanese veterans purveying street entertainments. These sorts of images are included in the materials now available in DigiNole.

Later, in 1955 and 1956, Dr. Austin was invited to work as an Air Force scientific observer on the US Navy’s first Operation Deep Freeze, a preparatory expedition for the International Geophysical Year. In addition to his work on the expedition, Austin conducted research on Adelie and emperor penguins, skua, and seals, implementing a bird-banding project for his ornithological work.

More images from this collection are available through a project hosted by the WWII Institute and hopefully we’ll add more into DigiNole in the future.

Another season of sport at FSU begins

Cover from the media guide for Swimming & Diving, 2009-2010
Cover from the media guide for Swimming & Diving, 2009-2010. [See original object]
FSU is gearing up for another semester to start in just a few weeks. Student-athletes, however, are already back at work. The FSU Volleyball team will play its first match this Friday and the Swimming and Diving teams are back in action by mid-September. These two sports are the last of a long project for the Digital Library Center, the digitization of all the sports media guides for FSU teams that the Archives currently holds.

The sports media guide is essentially the press kit for that season’s team. It includes all the facts and figures announcers seem to effortlessly sprout out as you listen to commentary at sporting events. The Swimming/Diving Team media guides go back to the 1970s whereas the Volleyball guides start in the 1980s. Do you have media guides to help fill in the blanks in our collection? You can always donate to Heritage & University Archives to help complete the collection. Start the conversation by sending an email to lib-specialcollections@fsu.edu.

Browse all the available sports media guides in Heritage & University Archives in DigiNole and Go Noles as all our fall sports teams get back in action over the next few weeks!

Recording Destruction

The Digital Library Center has been working with the FSU Department of Anthropology for several years now to digitize the materials created at the Windover dig site. We’re nearing the light at the end of the tunnel! However, as I loaded the last of the unit excavation forms, I realized something. I had absolutely no idea what these forms were! So, I sent off an email to Dr. Geoffrey Thomas for some clarification.

To start with, and something that I have never really thought about is that Archeology, the act of excavating, is an act of destruction. If they’re doing their jobs right, at the end of the dig, the site no longer exists. So, the hundreds of forms (For the Windover dig, over 600!), called Unit Excavation Forms, are used to record exactly what the archeologists were seeing as they dug the site. The site itself is divided into squares on a grid with each square having specific coordinates within the grid. Each form then corresponds to a specific square, or as they are called, unit.

Per Dr. Thomas, Unit Excavation forms’ primary role then, is to record the process of removal, layer by layer in each unit. Each form is labeled with information like the site name/number, the coordinates of the unit, the unit number that corresponds with a location on the grid, people working on that unit, and the level (depth) of the excavation. The workers then excavate in 10cm levels (ground – 10cm below surface = level 1) and so on to 90-100 cms = level 10. Each and every artifact is recorded as it is found and the workers make sure to mark the location within the unit, depth, and type of artifacts discovered. So, the unit forms and each level gets a form, then tell us what was found and where.

A Unit Excavation Form from Lot No. 1 at Windover during the 1984 season
A Unit Excavation Form from Lot No. 1 at Windover during the 1984 season [see all forms from Lot No. 1]
You stop digging in a unit when you hit a “sterile” layer, or after you have not hit new artifacts for a few levels. You then close that unit and start on a new one. After completion of a dig, the Unit Excavation Forms can be used to reconstruct each unit so that future researchers know where certain artifacts were found and in what context they belong within the dig site.

Pretty cool right? I also asked Dr. Thomas to think about what people will be able to learn now that these forms are online. Having the forms for the Windover dig online allows researchers and people interested in archaeology to gain information on, not only the process of archaeology but the specifics of the Windover site. If someone is interested in a particular burial and would like to find out the context of the burial (for example individual 90,  a subadult with a large number of grave goods), Dr. Thomas, or the patron themselves, could look up burial 90 and have the excavation forms for that unit. This will allow Dr. Thomas and the researcher to see the position of the body and locations of each artifact in the burial, along with any pictures of the burial site if any exist. This will hopefully greatly increase the amount of interpretive power we have for examining the remains and the way they were treated at death.

Now that we know what they are, enjoy browsing through and getting a picture of the Windover site from the unit excavation forms. You will also find field notes and photographs as part of the larger Windover collection. Happy “digging”!

Note: We are in the process of digitizing and loading x-rays and photographs of burials at the Windover site. However, due to the nature of that material and NAGPRA guidelines, those materials will be in collections with restricted access. Look soon for instructions on how to apply to use these types of materials for research in DigiNole.