Enjoy this guest post by Special Collections Oral History Graduate Assistant Adam Hunt:
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→
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.
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.”
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.
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→
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→
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.
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.
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.
The political causes and effects of war are well-documented by scholars and politicians, but the details of life during wartime are the provenance of the fighters on the ground, in the air, and at sea. Throughout recorded time, soldiers have shared their stories, told with humor, pathos, hope, and pride. In honor of Veterans Day, library staff have assembled a new exhibit, “War Stories,” featuring veterans’ experiences in their own words from across 2,000 years of human history.
What do archivists do all day, anyway? Look at old photos? Dust yearbooks? Take papers from one file folder and put them in another?
Those are all true to some extent, but university archivists play more roles in their community than one might think. Take a look at some of the extraordinary events during an average week in FSU Special Collections and Archives:
Thursday, October 15:
Students from the ART5928 workshop “Creating Experiences” visit the Claude Pepper Museum. Their project this semester involves creating a public event that could be held in in a museum space. The students have designed a Claude Pepper Pajama Party event and social media campaign, and today they’re walking through their ideas with Pepper Library Manager Rob Rubero.
FSU Special Collections has always considered local history one of its collecting strengths. In an effort to deepen community connections and learn more about the Tallahassee music industry, Rory Grennan and Katie McCormick attend a public appearance by influential songwriter and producer George Clinton. Aside from smiles and photo opportunities, our archivists enjoy many conversations with Clinton’s family and associates about his work and his legacy.
Friday, October 16:
Today, the Special Collections Research Center reading room has the privilege of hosting the members of the Florida State University History Club. A dozen history undergraduates attend an informational presentation by Manuscript Archivist Rory Grennan and Rare Books Librarian Kat Hoarn. Presentations and instructional sessions for students, faculty, and the public are a core part of the Special Collections mission, and occur frequently at the beginning of the school year. History Club members are excited to see 4000 years of human history laid out in documents from our collections including cuneiform tablets, a page from a Bible printed by Gutenberg, and artist books from the 21st century.
Monday, October 19:
Monday morning, archivists Sandra Varry and Krystal Thomas visit the University Registrar’s office to consult on the preservation of student transcripts on microfilm. The filmed student records see heavy use, and unfortunately enough of the film has been worn down that some records are losing information. The group discusses modern strategies such as digitization to preserve these essential historical records that document a century of higher education.
Later, Sandra Varry and division staff prepare for a new exhibit opening today in the Special Collections Exhibit Room on the first floor of Strozier Library. “Mittan: A Retrospective” celebrates the work of photographer Barry Mittan, and documents student life at FSU in the 1960s and 1970s. The exhibit was curated by graduate assistant Britt Boler and runs through January 2016.
In the afternoon, Krystal Thomas carefully reviews and uploads recently-digitized cookbooks and herbals to the FSU Digital Library. The Digital Library features digitized versions of the highlights of our collections, as chosen by Special Collections staff and our users, and new content is added regularly by archives staff.
Tuesday, October 20:
Things They Don’t Teach You In Grad School #47: Water and vinegar makes an effective, non-abrasive cleaner for a headstone.
Former FSU faculty member Paul Dirac was a giant in the fields of mathematics and quantum mechanics, and his papers are a frequently-consulted resource by researchers at FSU Libraries. Since no members of the Dirac family remain in Tallahassee, it has become the unofficial duty of our library and archives staff to visit Dirac’s grave once a year and see that it is kept clean. October 20th is the anniversary of Dirac’s death, and seems an appropriate time to visit the site. Archivists Katie McCormick, Rory Grennan, and Krystal Thomas, accompanied by library Director of Development Susan Contente and a handful of Physics Department students, scrub the headstone and plant fresh flowers this afternoon.
Wednesday, October 21:
Early this morning, archives staff notice an uncharacteristic rise in temperature in the stacks. After confirming initial impressions with a few temperature readings, contact is quickly made with library facilities staff to take steps to correct an issue with the building’s HVAC systems. Constant environmental monitoring is an important part of preserving our collections, as paper, film, and other substrates are vulnerable to fluctuations in temperature and humidity. There’s no point to collecting items that can’t be made to last! You never know what someone might need next week…
October 1, 2015 is #AskAnArchivist Day! Archivists around the country, including those in FSU Libraries Special Collections, will take to Twitter to answer your questions about any and all things archival. The day-long event, sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, will give you the opportunity to connect directly with archivists at FSU—and around the country—to ask questions, get information, or just satisfy your curiosity.
What questions can be asked?
Archivists participating in #AskAnArchivist Day are eager to respond to any and all questions you have about archives and archival work.
No question is too casual . . .
What’s your favorite thing you’ve come across in your collections?
If your archives had a soundtrack, what songs would be on it?
What do archivists talk about around the water cooler?
. . . or too practical!
What should I do to be sure that my emails won’t get lost?
How do you decide which donated items to keep?
How can I get my students more interested in using archives for projects?
How does it work?
#AskAnArchivist Day is open to everyone—all you need is a Twitter account. To participate, just tweet a question and include the hashtag #AskAnArchivist in your tweet. Your question will be seen instantly by archivists around the country who are standing by to respond directly to you. Have a question specifically for FSU Special Collections ?Include @FSULibrary with your question. We will be answering questions live on Twitter from 10 am to 2 pm on October 1st; questions we don’t get to will be saved and answered on this blog next week.
Don’t have a question? Use the #AskAnArchivist hashtag to follow the action! Search Twitter for #AskAnArchivist and follow along as questions and answers are shared.
Get those questions ready, and we’ll see you on Twitter!