All posts by Rory Grennan

About Rory Grennan

Rory Grennan is Manuscript and Instruction Archivist at Florida State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives.

What is an Archives?

As part of International Archives Week 2020, the International Council of Archives (ICA) has encouraged its members to consider what archives are and what they mean to researchers and society. Read on for my thoughts and a few sources on archival collections, institutions, and professionals, and what parts they play in empowering 21st century communities.

Continue reading What is an Archives?

Love Your Pet Day – Means Family Home Movies

Today on National Love Your Pet Day, Special Collections & Archives celebrates not only our own pets, but those of our collection creators as well!

Dog and people at beach, 1954
Means Family and dog at beach, 1954. From MSS 2018-004, Box 9, Reel 6.

Continue reading Love Your Pet Day – Means Family Home Movies

New records from St. John’s in DigiNole

We are pleased to announce that additional records of the St. John’s Episcopal Church are now available online through DigiNole: FSU’d Digital Repository. These include records of baptisms, marriages, and burials at St. John’s throughout the 20th century, as well as early vestry minutes, detailing early church events such as establishing the site of the building and cemetery, selecting rectors, and historical practices such as renting seats in the pews. These supplement previously digitized records of church rites and the journals of Reverend W.H. Carter. Genealogists, St. John’s parishioners, and researchers of Tallahassee history will all find value in greater access to these materials.

A page from the St. John's Vestry Records, 1836-1873, discussing pew rates
A page from the St. John’s Vestry Records, 1836-1873, discussing pew rates [original object]

St. John’s is the mother church of the Diocese of Florida. It was founded as a mission parish in 1829, and the church’s first building was erected in 1837. The Diocese was organized at St. John’s in 1838 and Francis Huger Rutledge, who became rector of St. John’s in 1845, was consecrated the first Bishop of Florida in 1851. The original church burned in 1879; a new church was built on the same site and consecrated in 1888, and it is still the parish’s principal place of worship.

The physical collection includes administrative records; member registries; meeting minutes of the Vestry and church circles; Bibles, Books of Common Prayer, hymnals, and other liturgical works; documentation of the history of St. John’s Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Florida; service bulletins and other periodicals; sermon transcripts; photographs; and motion pictures.

For more information about the collection, visit its finding aid. You can also explore the digitized materials from St. John’s in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository.

Reichelt Oral History Collection

Enjoy this guest post by Special Collections Oral History Graduate Assistant Adam Hunt:

Wallace Reichelt, circa 1940
Wallace Reichelt, circa 1940

The Reichelt Oral History Collection in FSU Special Collections and Archives is a rich and unique collection of over 2,100 oral history interviews and transcripts created throughout 1969-2014. The Reichelt Oral History Program was created under Dr. Edward F. Keuchel and University President D’Alamberte in 1969 with the help of a generous endowment by Wallace Ward Reichelt. In 1996, Dr. Robin J. Sellers undertook the directorship of the program. In 1998, the Program expanded to include oral histories of veterans in various military conflicts. These interviews offer rich historical insight into various subjects including but not limited to FSU/FSCW history, Tallahassee and Florida history, the Florida Highway Patrol, World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Korean War. After the departure of Dr. Robin J. Sellers, the Director and Archivist of the Reichelt Oral History Program from FSU in 2014, FSU Libraries undertook the preservation of their oral history collection.
Continue reading Reichelt Oral History Collection

Emmett and Mamie Till, 1954

Emmett Till & the Press: The Davis Houck Papers

One of our most meaningful projects in Special Collections & Archives is the management of the Emmett Till Archives.  The Till Archives collects, preserves, and provides access to primary and secondary source material related to the life, murder, and memory of Emmett Louis Till, whose death in 1955 is significant in the history of the African-American Civil Rights Movement.  Our most comprehensive resource for researchers interested in national press coverage of the Till murder and related events is the Davis Houck Papers.

Continue reading Emmett Till & the Press: The Davis Houck Papers

“With Compliments To Our Customers’ Children”


The Louise Richardson Night Before Christmas Collection includes many instances of Clement C. Moore’s famous Christmas poem.  Today’s post highlights a publication that might easily be overlooked by Noelophiles:  a 1910 advertisement for J. Rieger & Company, the self-described “largest Mail Order Whiskey House in America.”

Continue reading “With Compliments To Our Customers’ Children”

The Miscellanies of Mr. John Shaw

Happy 119th birthday to John MacKay Shaw, founder of our Childhood in Poetry book collection and bibliophile extraordinaire.  To celebrate Mr. Shaw, and in our ongoing commemoration of 400 Years of Shakespeare, we present a Scope and Content Note for John Shaw’s papers in the style of title pages from the early hand-press era.  Mr. Shaw would surely appreciate our gesture, as the Shaw rare book collection feature works by Shakespeare along with many, many other authors.

shaw scope note

Further Reading on Mr. Shaw and his collection:

Will Eisner Week 2016

Illustration by Will Eisner. From the School Library Journal, Volume 21, Issue 2.

March 6, 2016 would have been the 99th birthday of cartoonist and writer Will Eisner (1917-2005), and once again the week surrounding it has been declared Will Eisner Week by the Eisner Family Foundation.  Will Eisner Week is an annual celebration promoting graphic novels, literacy, free speech awareness, and the legacy of Eisner. Continue reading Will Eisner Week 2016

Charles Kenzie Steele and the Tallahassee Bus Boycott

Virgil Hawkins, J. Raymond Henderson, and C.K. Steele, circa 1955. From 00/MSS 2006-013.Virgil Hawkins, J. Raymond Henderson, and C.K. Steele, circa 1955. From 00/MSS 2006-013.

Reverend Charles Kenzie (C.K.) Steele Sr. arrived in Tallahassee during a significant time in its history.  After graduating from the School of Religion at Morehouse College in 1938, and serving congregations in Montgomery, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia, Steele came to Tallahassee in 1952 as the newly-appointed pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.  Reverend Steele later rose to local and national prominence as a civil rights activist during the Tallahassee Bus Boycott of 1956. Continue reading Charles Kenzie Steele and the Tallahassee Bus Boycott

Operation Deep Freeze and the Hancock Antarctic Collection

In 1952, the International Council of Scientific Unions proposed an International Geophysical Year (IGY) (which was actually the 18 months from July 1957-December 1958).  Members of the global scientific community would coordinate their efforts in order to enhance human understanding of the Earth.  Special attention was to be given to the Antarctic continent, for which comprehensive data did not exist.  To this end, twelve nations established 36 scientific stations on the Antarctic Ice Shelf in the years leading up to the IGY.  Little America V was one of six bases established by the United States during this time.  (Four previous bases named Little America had existed in other locations on the continent, but had been discontinued.)  Logistical support for the base was delegated to the US Navy by the US Department of Defense, as Navy seaplanes had already been operating on the Antarctic continent for decades; Navy forces under Admiral Richard E. Byrd had been essential to the establishment of previous US research facilities there.

Detail of a 1955 US Navy map of Antarctica, showing the Ross Ice Shelf and the base at Little America. At the far right, lines of longitude converge at the South Pole. From the Robert E. Hancock Antarctic Collection.

The resulting Navy mission, Operation Deep Freeze, was planned in two phases, to avoid flying during the punishing Antarctic winter.  Deep Freeze I ran during the 1955-1956 austral summer, delivering equipment necessary to outfit the six research bases.  Lieutenant Commander Robert E. Hancock Jr. was a supply officer with the US Navy, and spent much of 1957 on the Ross Ice Shelf as a result of Deep Freeze II, which ran further supplies to Little America V and other bases from October 1956 to February 1957.  Hancock brought many souvenirs back from Antarctica, including photographs, Navy-issue maps and survival guides, schematics of Little America V, and coal from the volcano at Mt. Erebus.

Samples of coal collected near Mt. Erebus, Antarctica. From the Robert E. Hancock Collection.
Samples of coal collected near Mt. Erebus, Antarctica. From the Robert E. Hancock Antarctic Collection.

Later in life, Hancock collected other artifacts related to Antarctic exploration, including model ships and aircraft, an empty can of cocoa from one of Captain Robert Scott’s expeditions, even ceramic and glass penguins.  All of these items and more now reside in FSU Libraries Special Collections and Archives as the Robert E. Hancock Jr. Antarctic Collection, and are open to all researchers from the FSU community and general public.

Model ship customized to resemble the USS Atka, which served in Antarctica during the IGY. From the Robert E. Hancock Antarctic Collection.
Model ship customized to resemble the USS Atka, which served in Antarctica during the IGY. From the Robert E. Hancock Antarctic Collection.

Operation Deep Freeze and the International Geophysical Year each had lasting impact on the global community.  Cooperation among international scientists in Antarctica laid the foundation for the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, which still guarantees that no single country will claim territorial sovereignty over the Antarctic continent.  The IGY saw the first scientific satellite launches by the United States and Soviet Union, and thus the birth of the “space race” that led to the creation of NASA and the multiple agencies of the Soviet space program.  Deep Freeze has continued far beyond its initial two phases in 1955 and 1956, and today,  under the command of the US Air Force, still services military and civilian bases across Antarctica.

Architectural plot of Little America V. From the Robert E. Hancock Antarctic Collection.
Architectural plot of Little America V. From the Robert E. Hancock Antarctic Collection.

Further Reading:

Robert E. Hancock, Jr. Antarctic Collection, Special Collections, Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee, Florida.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. “The International Geophysical Year.” Accessed December 3, 2015.

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. “IGY History:  International Geophysical Year.” Accessed December 3, 2015.

Ellery D. Wallwork & Kathryn A. Wilcoxson.  Operation Deep Freeze: 50 Years of US Air Force Airlift in Antarctica, 1956-2006.  Scott Air Force Base, Illinois: Office of History, Air Mobility Command, 2006.