All posts by lisaplayfsu

Be Rootin’, Be Tootin’, Be Readin’: A Look Into Cowboys Across Special Collections

The Wild West has been a source for literary inspiration as long as people have lived and settled there. Special Collections and Archives hosts a variety of Wild West stories across popular mediums, including dime novels and small books.

First published in 1860, dime novels became a popular source of media for young audiences and adults alike (Cassidy, 2011). Dime novels provided cheap entertainment and were popular among Civil War soldiers as well as children, although there was quickly a rising moral panic about the contents of these inexpensive texts corrupting America’s youth. Filled with tales of cowboys, Native Americans, gold, and adventure, the dime novels were exciting and sometimes scandalous material churned out at an impressive rate. Margaret Cassidy cites an 1896 copycat train robbery by young men with a collection of “blood and thunder” dime novels stashed away in their den in her speech “Pernicious Stuff”. This robbery and other crimes like it pulled the same moral panic that video games inspired nearly a century later, as violent and dangerous media that confuses their parents and corrupts the youth.

Dime novels were often set in the heyday of Manifest Destiny, as the American government pushed settlements west, spearheaded by cavalry, wagon trains, and cowboys. Antagonists were created from individuals who stood as barriers this aim: train robbers, Native Americans. In this manner, dime novels seem to follow the narrow point of view of white men, however women are occasionally given the spotlight, as in “Fred Fearnot and the Ranch Girl Owner; And How She Held Her Own.” by Hal Standish, published in 1918.

Perusing these dime novels also allows readers to view ads and propaganda statements that reflected their times, including wartime rationing during World War I, as well as advertisements for other dime novels, as included in these 1918 dime novel advertisements. (For more information on the Dime Novels Collection, click this link.)

The Western remained to be a popular setting for stories for decades to come. The Robert M. Ervin Jr. Collection contains a wide variety of comic books, serials, and monograph that covers a multitude of genres including science fiction, fantasy, and Westerns. The Ervin Collection contains multiple Better Little Books, petite texts containing stories and illustrations involving popular characters, such as the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, and Gene Aughtry. These tiny tomes cost about fifteen cents and were popular with young readers.

References:
“Pernicious Stuff” Nineteenth Century Media, the Children Who Loved Them, and the Adults Who Worried about Them. (2011). ETC: A Review of General Semantics68(3), 304–315. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hus&AN=64432725&site=eds-live&scope=site

Finding aid: https://archives.lib.fsu.edu/repositories/10/resources/1169

Impressive Fabrics: The Ina VanStan Printing Plates

Professor Ina VanStan examining Peruvian fabrics. (FSU Historic Photographs Collection)

Ina VanStan (1901-1989) was a Professor of Clothing and Textiles at Florida State University. Her studies focused on a variety of fabrics pre-Colombian Peru, as well as other cultural artifacts from that time.

An enhanced, flipped image of Plate 3 (Peruvian Domestic Fabrics)
01-MSS 0-333, VanStan Plates, Box 1, Item 4

The Ina VanStan Printing Plates contain twenty-three printing plates of various sizes depicting fabric patterns from Van Stan’s studies of Peruvian fabrics. The printing plates were used for producing images for VanStan’s scholarly publications. The collection’s finding aid offer’s access to VanStan’s relevant publications on artifacts such as dolls, fabric fragments, and feather ornaments; it provides a springboard for those interested in further study of ancient Peruvian culture.

Photo of a Feather Fan from the
Ina VanStan Printing Plates
01-MSS 0-333 Box 1, Folder 1

Those interested in related materials to VanStan’s studies can find images of artifacts in the Carter Collection in FSU’s Museum of Fine Arts (MoFA).

A Uniting Flame: Looking Back on the 50th Anniversary of the Westcott Fire


Fire at the Westcott Building – Florida State University. 1969. Black & white photonegative. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/11165>.

An iconic structure of Florida State’s campus, the gothic-styled Westcott Building was once threatened by a massive blaze on April 27, 1969. The fire started in the roof above the fourth floor, spreading beneath the sheetrock ceiling and causing intense damage throughout the fourth floor. The Westcott Building housed the University’s administration as well as the art department at the time and attention turned to not only saving the building and human lives, but the innumerable valuable documents and pieces of art stored within the structure.

As the April 28, 1969 edition of the Florida Flambeau notes, the art department was deemed a total loss but a painting by Reubens valued at $30,000 dollars, as well as work by FSU faculty member Dr. Karl Zerbe, valued at $50,000 were safely extracted from the inferno by brave students. Florida Flambeau editor Sam Miller details some of the more memorable moments from the scene:

“After the fire was out, students again poured in to try to salvage the paintings from the third floor. Perhaps the first comic relief of the evening came when two students carried out a bigger-than-life painting of a psychedelic nude.”

Miller, sam. “Differences forgotten in crisis: Everyone ‘Really pulled together.’ Florida flambeau. April 28, 1969. p1.
Students and staff alike banded together to save documents and other objects from the flames. 1969. FSU Digital Libraries, Heritage and University Archives. <http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/3163787>

For those interested in taking a step into the University’s past, we invite you to view the linked 13 minute video that includes a variety of moments from FSU in 1969, including the Westcott Fire (skip ahead to 3:25). You can check it out here.

Ikebana Insights with the Katherine Wallick Collection

Are you intrigued with the delicate art of Japanese flower arrangement? So was Katherine Wallick, the treasurer of Virginia Peninsula Chapter of Ikebana International from 1972-1973. Wallick took a variety of workshops for her craft, including workshops with Ellie O’Brien in 1970 as well as Jackie Kramer of Holland. Researchers can track Wallick’s progress as an ikebana student through the diagrams and notes in her workshop notebooks, as well as a vast collection of her photographs, magazines, and books on the topic. The images below detail a few items from the collection’s holdings.


Katherine Wallick’s Ikebana Workshop Notebook, 1970
Katherine Wallick Ikebana Collection
01 MSS 2008-020

Katherine Wallick writes notes to herself on Japanese phonetics in this personal ikebana study notebook, dated from 1970-1972.

I-ke-ba-na (Ee-kay-bah-nah)

A- ah

E- A as in ape (or eh)

i – ee as in “eek”

o- o as in Bow

u- u as in super

Below this phonetic breakdown is a note about the Sogetsu school of ikebana. There are many schools of ikebana, each following its own philosophy of design and style.


Ikebana International Magazine bound into one book, 1974-1977
Katherine Wallick Ikebana Collection
01 MSS 2008-020

This bound compendium of Ikebana International Magazine contains issues from 1974-1977. The pages displayed here are from Issue 47 contain images and descriptions of the materials and containers used in each arrangement, as well as a critical description of the arrangements pictured.


Katherine Wallick’s Ikebana Workshop Notebook, undated
Katherine Wallick Ikebana Collection
01 MSS 2008-020

This second notebook page contains a preliminary sketch of the “basic upright style” ikebana arrangement that Wallick was learning about. The angle at which certain plant elements (such as flowers, leaves, or stems) lean at is of utmost importance in ikebana arrangements. One can note the system by which Wallick identified the different elements in her arrangements (perhaps as instructed so by her teacher) by comparing this page with the other notebook on display.

You can explore the contents of the collection online here: https://archives.lib.fsu.edu/repositories/4/resources/510. If you would like to see these exciting objects in person, please visit the Special Collections Reading Room, Monday to Friday 10 am to 6 pm.

State of Cinema: The Richard Alan Nelson Collection

Florida has long played host to the production of films and television series, from seminal horror film Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954, parts of which were filmed in our very own Wakulla Springs!) to the current production of Bad Boys for Life (currently filming in Miami and slated for a 2020 release). The Richard Alan Nelson Collection contains documents detailing film production in various Florida cities, movie posters, motion picture companies, publicity stills of actors and actresses, and film law.

The collection even features a folder (7, in Box 922) of what the cinema scene looked like in Tallahassee at the time of Nelson’s dissertation work, the late 1970s. In a preserved volume of New Look, a local entertainment magazine, journalist Rick Oppenheim described local cinemas struggling to keep their doors open, paying “90% of their box office receipts (with house operations skimmed off the top) to a tight-fisted [film] distributor for the rental of a first-run film”, leading to cinemas holding on to blockbuster films like Star Wars (which were highly expensive to rent) for months on end, and less likely to gamble on new films which may hurt their bottom line.

For more information on this collection, please visit its finding aid. If you’d like to visit Special Collections and explore the documents in person, we welcome visitors Monday to Friday, 10 am to 6 pm.

“Field Flowers,” a bouquet of poetry from Eugene Field

Long known as the “Poet of Childhood,” Eugene Field is famous for his satirical and whimsical poems that evoke dreams, mischief, and romance. One of his most well-known poems “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” conjures images of the three eponymous sailors casting nets for stars in a crystal-brilliant sea in a child’s dream. 

All night long their nets they threw 
   To the stars in the twinkling foam— 
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe, 
   Bringing the fishermen home; 
‘T was all so pretty a sail it seemed 
   As if it could not be, 
And some folks thought ‘t was a dream they ‘d dreamed 
   Of sailing that beautiful sea— 
   But I shall name you the fishermen three: 
                     Wynken, 
                     Blynken, 
                     And Nod.1

Field continued his lighthearted and fantastic poems continued to be published after his early death in 1895, at the age of 45. The posthumously published “Field Flowers”  (1896) continues this streak of the magical in the pastoral “Cornish Lullaby”.  

Out on the mountain over the town, 
All night long, all night long, 
The trolls go up and the trolls go down, 
Bearing their packs and crooning a song; 
And this is the song the hill-folk croon, 
As they trudge in the light of the misty moon,– 
This is ever their dolorous tune: 
“Gold, gold! ever more gold,– 
Bright red gold for dearie!” 
 
Deep in the hill the yeoman delves 
All night long, all night long; 
None but the peering, furtive elves 
See his toil and hear his song; 
Merrily ever the cavern rings 
As merrily ever his pick he swings, 
And merrily ever this song he sings: 
“Gold, gold! ever more gold,– 
Bright red gold for dearie!” 
 
Mother is rocking thy lowly bed 
All night long, all night long, 
Happy to smooth thy curly head 
And to hold thy hand and to sing her song; 
‘T is not of the hill-folk, dwarfed and old, 
Nor the song of the yeoman, stanch and bold, 
And the burden it beareth is not of gold; 
But it’s “Love, love!–nothing but love,– 
Mother’s love for dearie!” 

As a popular poet of his time, Field’s work was commented in other publications, such as the article “Some Current Literature” by Van Der Dater in the journal Bradley, His Book (1897).

If Field’s poetic works intrigue you, you can further explore the digitized copy of “Field Flowers” at the Special Collections Research Center at Strozier Library or here at the FSU Digital Library.

  1. “Field, Eugene. Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” from “The Golden Book of Poetry” (1947), Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42920/wynken-blynken-and-nod; originally published in “Trumpet and Drum” (1892). 

Everglades National Park Commission Papers

Dew in the morning, NPSphoto, G.Gardner
Dew in the morning, NPSphoto, G.Gardner

In our current climate of growing environmental concern, the condition and protection of national parks has become a recurring part of our 24-hour news cycle. Everglades National Park is Florida’s most famous national park and is as central to the state’s identity as its famous beaches. According to the National Park Foundation, over one million visitors from all parts of the globe visit Everglades National Park every year. The park has also been lauded as a World Heritage Site, as well as an International Biosphere Reserve and a Wetland of International Importance. But how did the Everglades go from millions of acres of unprotected swampland to one of the United States’ most important and unique protected natural spaces?

Through the power of bureaucracy, of course!

As August Burghard, Chairman of the Everglades National Park Commission, notes in a 1946 letter, “To The Property Owners Within the Everglades National Park Area”, “The Everglades National Park is not a new thing. It had its beginning in 1929 when the Florida legislature passed an Act providing for the acquisition of the park lands and property in Dade, Monroe, and Collier Counties for the purpose of conveying the same to the United States Government to be used as a National Park.” The letter further details the reasons for the creation of the Everglades National Park and the Commission’s duty in acquiring land by donation to achieve this end. This letter, as well as the minutes from the first meeting of the Everglades National Park Commission are available for viewing in the Special Collections Reading Room. If you would like to dive into some of the earliest history of Florida’s most famous national park, you can start your journey here