This post is part of our series celebrating American Archives Month. Special Collections & Archives also did a Twitter Takeover of the @fsulibraries feed for #AskAnArchivist day so be sure to check out those conversations.
The State Archives of Florida serves as the Record Center for Florida State University, meaning they hold our non-current records according to state law, and then either destroy them or retain them if they have historic value. Before Heritage & University Archives got its start, many records made their way there that would normally have been kept on campus. Last December, the State Archives transferred 330 linear feet of records back into FSU’s custody. Included in these collections are files from various University Presidential administrations, such as Edward Conradi, Stanley Marshall, and Bernard Sliger. These records contain correspondence from various administrators and community members to the Office of the President, files on campus committees, and material from meeting with statewide groups.
Other collections we received include the files of the Office of the Executive Vice President’s Administration Files from 1973-1976, Bob E. Leach’s Speech Files, and files on several of FSU’s Doctoral Programs. These collections have been especially helpful for understanding how the university functioned at any given time, how many of our campus organizations were formed, and the progress of many campus initiatives. For example, in the Office of the President: Stanley Marshall Administrative Files, we found the university’s plan to implement Affirmative Action. Throughout the subsequent Presidents’ files, we see updates on the status of Affirmative Action on campus.
These collections are not processed but are available to the public to view. If you are interested in viewing these collections, please contact Sandra Varry the Heritage & University Archivist to arrange a visit.
The University Historian at the University of Florida recently contacted us with an interesting research request regarding Florida State College for Women. In his research, the University Historian found evidence that a woman, Mary Alexander Daiger, graduated from the University of Florida in 1920. This is odd because, in 1905, Florida passed the Buckman Act, which designated UF as the state university for male students. The same act designated FSU’s predecessor institution, Florida State College for Women, as the state university for female students. It wasn’t until 1947 that both schools became fully coeducation. Daiger was able to graduate from UF pre-coeducation because of the Summer School Act, which in 1913, brought summer courses under the control of the state university system. By design, these courses were coeducational and allowed for men and women to attend either university during the summer.
Given the shared history and similar circumstances of UF and FSU, the University Historian wondered if there was ever a male graduate of Florida State College of Women.
Heritage & University Archives staff began looking through summer issues of the student newspaper, the Florida Flambeau. While reading the articles, it became apparent that male students were definitely taking advantage of the classes offered. Staff members of the Flambeau reported on how many male students were on campus, where they were located after they were allowed to stay in the dorms and any humorous encounters that resulted from their presence. But for the most part, names of the male students weren’t listed in those articles.
During the summer issues for several years, the Flambeau listed all of the students eligible for graduation for that semester. Unfortunately, we ran into a major problem at this juncture, because the Flambeau did not list whether the student was male or female. We chose, based on name, the most likely students to be male and sent the names along to the Office of the Registrar to see if any of them did, in fact, graduate.
When the Registrar replied, we learned that our process for selecting names was as inaccurate as we thought. Some of the candidates had sorority affiliations listed on their records and so were crossed off our list. More often, the candidate for graduation did not actually graduate. However, we were able to confirm that there was at least one male graduate of Florida State College for Women: Clarence Patrick Priest. Priest earned his Masters of Arts in Education in 1938 from Florida State College for Women. He stayed on to teach at the school after his graduation.
Know of any other men who graduated from Florida State College for Women? We’d love to know about any of our other graduates. You can contact the Heritage & University Archivist at email@example.com.
Heritage & University Archives is excited to present a newly reprocessed collection: The Florida State University Historic Photograph Collection. An initial inventory, which took a project archivist roughly four months to compile, indicated that the collection included nearly half a million images in both print and negative format. Former graduate student Dave Rodriguez then spent a year organizing and reprocessing the original several small collections and new accessions into its current state. The collection is now housed in over 200 boxes in the Special Collections & Archives stacks.
The images cover a wide time span, from FSU’s earliest iteration, the Seminary West of the Suwannee River, to the present. While the photographs date back as far as the 1800s, the bulk of the material is dated between 1920s to the 1970s.
The images themselves depict every facet of life on campus, from construction and special events to students relaxing on Landis Green and action shots of athletics contests. Some notable items in the collection include prints from the Flying High Circus, Homecoming, and various theatrical performances. In addition, a series dedicated to buildings, faculty, and university presidents help give a complete view of what campus was like at any decade.
Additionally, some images from the collection have been scanned and entered into FSU’s Digital Repository, Diginole.
For more information about Heritage & University Archives and the Florida State University Historic Photograph Collection, please contact Sandra Varry at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit heritage.fsu.edu
Since its inception, Florida State University has been involved in teaching high school aged students in addition to college students. When the legislature voted in 1851 to create two institutions of higher learning in Florida, Tallahassee began to organize a bid to have one of the schools established in town.
They began by building a structure known as the Florida Institute which began holding classes in 1855. The Florida Institute was not exclusive to higher education. High school students were taught here as well. The city offered this structure, as well as a monetary incentive, to the legislature and won the bid to create the new school. The Florida Institute became the West Florida Seminary in 1857 but continued to educate high school students as well as college students.
It wasn’t until 1954 that the high school department got its own building on campus. The Florida State University School, or FSUS, was created and more commonly known as “Florida High”. The school taught children grade levels K-12. Students from FSU and FSCW Education program interned at this school as part of their studies. In 2001, Florida High moved to a different location, off of FSU’s campus. Despite the move, Florida High maintains its close connection with FSU and, especially, the College of Education.
FSU Libraries is beginning the process of digitizing the collection and the first batch of records – issues of the student newspaper The Trident – is now live in our digital library. The collection can be accessed here. Those looking to donate material to add to our Florida High Collection should contact Sandra Varry at email@example.com.
We are saddened to hear of Dr. Nancy Marcus’ passing this last Monday.
Dr. Marcus served at FSU in several roles for 30 years. During her tenure, she served as the director of the Marine Laboratory, chair of the Department of Oceanography, and as Dean of the Graduate School from 2005 until her retirement in 2017. Dr. Marcus was named a Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor in 2001, the highest honor that FSU faculty can award one of their own. Dr. Marcus noted that this award was important to her because it not only recognized her contributions in research and teaching, but also her service to the university.
A pioneer in the field of Oceanography when there were few women in the field, Dr. Marcus worked her entire career to promote diversity in FSU and especially the STEM fields so that others would be allowed the same opportunities to have a rewarding career. She served as the director for FSU women in Math, Science and Engineering to promote women in STEM fields and took every opportunity to advance the cause of women in these disciplines. She even gave up a chance to pursue her own research on copepods (a type of crustacean) to focus in on the advancement of women.
Heritage & University Archives recently acquired a collection of materials from Dr. Marcus regarding the Task Force on Women’s Faculty Salaries, a task force that she participated in. Those interested in learning more about Dr. Marcus and the collection should contact Heritage & University Archives by emailing Sandra Varry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog post is an updated version of a previous post by Hannah Wiatt Davis which can be found here.
Happy 167th Birthday, Florida State University! In 1851, the first steps were taken by the Florida Legislature (then the General Assembly of the State of Florida) to create the institution we now know as Florida State University. However, it wasn’t until recently that 1851 was accepted as the founding date. Previously, FSU had used 1857, when the State Seminary West of the Suwannee River, the predecessor institution of FSU, first opened its doors. However, the 1857 date isn’t entirely accurate. The process of starting the school began long before students were allowed to study here.
On January 24, 1851, the General Assembly of the State of Florida passed an act establishing two seminaries of learning, one to the east and one to the west of the Suwannee River. It wasn’t until 1854 when the Tallahassee City Council offered to pay $10,000 to finance a new school building on land owned by the city in an attempt to “bid on” being the location of the seminary west of the Suwannee, which the legislature had yet to decide. The $10,000 consisted of the value of the property, the yet-to-be-constructed building, and the remaining balance in cash. Approximately $6,000 was originally committed, with the Council promising to give the city the remaining balance if Tallahassee was determined as the final location. Later in 1854, construction on a school building began and Tallahassee’s city superintendent approached the state legislature to present the case for the seminary to be in Tallahassee. However, state officials failed to make a decision regarding the location of the seminary before the end of the legislative session.
By 1855, the newly constructed building, which was often described as “the handsomest edifice” in Tallahassee, was ready for students. Because of the state legislature’s lack of a decision on whether it would be one of the legislature-designated seminaries, it was not given an official name. Instead, it was alternately called “The City Seminary” and “Tallahassee Male Seminary.”
In 1856, the ball got rolling as the City Council of Tallahassee (hereafter referred to as the Board of Trustees of the Florida Institute) met and designated “The City Seminary” as the “Florida Institute.” It also indicated that “government of the institution or seminary shall be under the direction of a president” and decided that “a preparatory school will be established in connection with the academic or collegiate department of the institute.” It was established that one of the president’s duties would be to publish a “Catalogue Course of Studies” for the institution. Later in 1856, William (W.Y.) Peyton, previously principal of The City Seminary, was unanimously elected by the Board of Trustees of the Florida Institute as the first president of the Institute.
By late 1856, the General Assembly passed legislation declaring that “the Seminary to be located West of the Suwannee River be, and the same is hereby located at the City of Tallahassee in the County of Leon.” There were several conditions that needed to be granted for this to occur – “the proper and authorized conveyance of said Lot and College edifice thereon be made to the City of Tallahassee to the Board of Education,” that Tallahassee “guarantee to said Board of Education the payment of the sum of two thousand dollars per annum forever, to be expended in the education of the youth of said City, in such manner and on such terms as shall be agreed between the corporate authorities of said City and the Board of Education,” and that Tallahassee “shall pay to the Board of Education as much money in cash as shall be found necessary after a valuation of the Lot and College edifice aforesaid, to complete the sum of ten thousand dollars.”
With all of the requirements fulfilled, the State Seminary West of the Suwannee River was allowed to open its doors and so began FSU’s long history.
Dr. George Fraser Black, a librarian for the New York Public Library and later the Associate Director of the Scottish National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh, was a distinguished researcher who was active in the late 1800s until his retirement in 1931. During this time, he researched and published on several topics, most notably Scottish history. His works include a history of Scottish Clans, several bibliographies on Scottish history, and an examination of the Romani language.
Much of Dr. Black’s research is devoted to looking at how modern Scotland formed and the influence of the Scottish people. A huge topic of interest within the realm of Scottish history was the poet Robert Burns. Among the materials are copies of Burns’s work, photo references, and images inspired by Burns’s poems.
Dr. Black compiled most of his research in a series of scrapbooks that included newspaper articles, photocopied book excerpts, and handwritten notes that he found relevant. The collection contains over 30 of these scrapbooks on a variety of topics from folklore to the history of Scottish Clans arranged alphabetically. Perhaps his most intriguing research involved witchcraft. Seven of the scrapbooks in the collection contains detailed information on trials, rumors, and myths surrounding witches and mythical creatures. These scrapbooks hold newspaper articles detailing witchcraft trials as late as the 1920s in the United States while also covering famous accounts from the Spanish Inquisition.
This collection is currently still being processed by the Special Collections & Archives team, but it will be available for the public to view soon.