Category Archives: Collections

International Children’s Book Day in the DL

As we adjust to our new realities in the time of coronavirus, and we’re going stir-crazy and already bored with the books in the house, maybe it’s time for a deep dive into the children’s books of yesteryear for some new material. So, on today, International Children’s Book Day, celebrated on or near the birthday of Hans Christian Andersen each year, I would like to highlight some of the children’s literature we have in the digital library (DL) from the John Mackay Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection.

Fairy tales abound in the Shaw Collection but Cinderella has always been a personal favorite. We have several digitized but my favorite version is a hand colored Cinderella from the 1800s.

A page from Cinderella, 1800s [see original object]

The story of Cock Robin is in many of the books of the Shaw Collection. This particular spread is from a children’s book titled Cock Robin: a pretty painted toy for either girl or boy : suited to children of all ages, published in 1840.

Pages from Cock Robin, 1840 [see original object]

Alphabet, or ABC, books are also plentiful in our digital collection. This one, Goode’s instructive alphabet for children from the 1800s, uses many professions and expressions that children today would probably not recognize (a reading and history lesson in one!)

Page from Goode’s Instructive Alphabet, 1800s [see original object]

And lastly, in case you are in need of some new songs (possibly the Disney tunes are already wearing on the nerves), Silver carols: a collection of new music for district schools, high schools, seminaries, academies, colleges, juvenile conventions and the home circle from 1874 may have a new set of songs for you and your children to explore.

Trip Lightly from Silver Carols, 1874 [see original object]

These are just a few of the hundreds of titles we’ve digitized and made available in the digital library from the Shaw collection. Happy reading on this International Children’s Book Day!

A History of Extracurricular Activities at Florida State College for Women

Considering how long students have been coming through the walls of our historic university, it goes without saying that we have a rich and varied history of extracurricular, student-run activities. At Florida State University, many of these long-standing traditions and activities were established during our time as an all women institution, between 1905 and 1947. Campus-wide extracurriculars were an extremely important part of student life during this time. Students felt taking part in events with peers built pride and appreciation for their alma mater. For this year’s Women’s History Month, we’ll be looking into the early years of recreation at Florida State College for Women (FSCW): how our peers of the past made friends, garnered school spirit, and just passed the time.

Two of the earliest student organizations were the Thalian Literary Society and the Minerva Club, founded and run by our female predecessors. These organizations were formed with the goal of “enabling the girls to speak more fluently in public,” but they did much more for the student body (Talisman, April 1906, Pg. 26). They were an expressive outlet for students and encourage peer-to-peer discourse and connection.

In 1906, just one year after our transition to a women’s college, the Thalian Society and Minerva Club began publishing the first college literary periodical in the state of Florida, The Talisman. (The Book Lover’s Guide to Florida, 1992) It served as a recreational avenue for students to express their thoughts and to learn about campus happenings. The Talisman went on to become the Florida Flambeau newspaper in 1915, still run entirely by women.

From the first five years of the establishment of FSCW, our women students were establishing recreational sports teams of all kinds. By 1906 our small campus had facilities for tennis, basketball, field-hockey, croquet, a swimming pool, and a full gymnasium! (Talisman, April 1906, Pg. 30)

Student organizations are a crucial part of university life and this has been the case at our university for over 100 years! The 1910 and 1911 yearbooks from FSCW show us that students were forming all sorts of clubs for a wide variety of interests and commonalities…

Scrapbooking was an extremely common practice between students at Florida State College for Women. Here at Heritage & University Archives, we have over 30 of these student-made scrapbooks and they give us endless insight as to how they chose to spend their free time.

Scrapbook
From the Julia Pelot Scrapbook

Many of these records are available online at DigiNole. For more information about our University related collections, please contact Sandra Varry, the Heritage & University Archivist.

Florida Home Economics Association Scrapbooks

With our work on extension service scrapbooks with the Havana History and Heritage Society for Gadsden County, we took a look at our own collections and found Leon County scrapbooks for a similar period on our own shelves! The Florida Home Economics Association Records holds scrapbooks which are mostly Leon County extension service records from 1923-1966. The collection also holds the administrative records of the Association and Florida State College for Women (FSU’s predecessor) was an integral part of the instruction branch of the association.

Digitization of scrapbooks is always a challenge. The scrapbooks were dis-bound before being brought up to our studio for digitization. Dis-binding scrapbooks such as these and other similar material allows us to capture higher quality images of individual pages faster than if they were left in their original, bound state. From a preservation standpoint, this also reduces the amount of potential wear-and-tear on older items such as these can sustain during the digitization process. 

Since we digitized the material as individual pages instead of bound scrapbooks, we relied primarily on our overhead camera setup to complete this project. This setup utilizes an IQ180 reprographic camera system and Capture One Cultural Heritage software to create high quality, high resolution images. We digitized all material in this collection as 400 PPI (pixels per inch) TIFF images as recommended by our FSUDL Imaging Guidelines document. 

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Capturing high resolution images of individual pages using our IQ180 system

Being a tethered system, all images are automatically and instantly transferred from the camera to the computer where the Capture One software handles basic editing of the images including color correction, cropping, file naming, and exporting the final images to our internal server before being loaded into the FSU Digital Library

The Cultural Heritage version of Capture One allows us to increase the rate of image processing by providing helpful features such as auto-cropping and advanced white balance adjustments. The software also acts as a file management tool and allows us to batch-edit and export the images we’ve digitized. We use this to apply the same color and exposure settings to all pages of an item at once instead of performing the edits one-by-one on individual pages, which would take much longer to complete.  

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Screenshot of Capture One CH software showing batch editing features

The scrapbooks, once they were digitized and images ready for the digital library, were loaded into the FSU Digital Library. Please enjoy browsing these materials and the fascinating glimpse they offer into the work of the extension services in Leon County over several decades.

Celebrating Women’s History with a new digital collection

The DLC recently completed processing and started loading materials from the League of Women Voters (LWV), Tallahassee Chapter Records materials held at the Claude Pepper Library into DigiNole. The materials in this first round of digitization with the collection include the newsletters of the Tallahassee chapter from 1962-2012 as well as Study and Action guides for the national LWV agenda from 1975-1999.

The records of the League of Women Voters, Tallahassee Chapter, are comprised primarily of administrative files, publications, and subject files and document 55 years of Tallahassee League activities including the organization of conventions and meetings, coordination of league activities, and the chapter’s relationship with the League of Women Voters of the United States.

Of particular interest is the story one can find in the newsletters regarding the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in Florida. First appearing in the newsletters in 1972, it appears in every monthly newsletter throughout the 1980s including the big push to try to get it ratified before the amendment expired in 1982. The League often reminded its members that it was used to a long struggle, having been founded just before women received the right to vote in 1920 by women suffragists. Still, there is some discouragement to be found in the newsletters when, over and over again, the Florida Legislature failed to take up the ERA in any meaningful way.

This is just one of the many stories you’ll find in these materials which offer a unique look at women and politics in Tallahassee, Florida and the United States in some of our most volatile political decades. To get an idea of what you’ll find in the entire collection, please see the finding aid. To browse more of the materials digitized, please visit the collection at DigiNole: FSU’s digital repository.

Black History Month: Notable University History Collections

February is Black History month and for those interested in studying Black History at Florida State University, we thought we would highlight a few of our collection in Heritage & University Archives.

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BSU Scrapbook, 1990-2008.

Perhaps the most obvious place to look, and one of our more informative collections on the topic, is our Black Student Union collection. This collection contains items from previous organizational campaigns, financial information, and a very large scrapbook. This collection has received several additions in the past couple of years, adding to this information, and will continue to grow.

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FSU Black Guild Players in a promotional photo for the production of “The Colored Museum,” 1989.

The Florida State University Historic Photograph Collection and the Florida Flambeau/FSView Photograph Collections are some of Heritage & University Archive’s best resources for a visual history of the university. Among the photographs are images of Maxwell Courtney, FSU’s first African American graduate, and the Black Players Guild.

Boardman Letter
Letter to John Boardman from Doak Campbell, 1957.

Lastly, an important group of records for any research on campus history, are the Presidential Files. This is several different collections covering several of FSU’s Presidents and include topics related to almost every aspect of the university. An extremely important file on John Boardman is present in the Doak Campbell Administration Files detailing events surrounding Boardman’s expulsion from FSU after inviting three African American students to a Christmas Party on campus. The entire file has been digitized and is available on Diginole.

For any questions or reference help regarding these collections, you can email the Heritage & University Archivist, Sandra Varry at svarry@fsu.edu.

Vintage Valentines in the Archives

Valentine’s Day gained popularity in the United States with the introduction of mass-produced Valentines cards around the middle of the 19th century. Most of these early cards have long since disappeared, but we are fortunate to have many examples of early 20th century valentines here in Special Collections & Archives.

Aside from being a repository for manuscripts and rare books, Special Collections & Archives is also the home of the Heritage & University Archives for Florida State University and its predecessor, the Florida State College for Women (FSCW). A popular pastime for the students of FSCW was to construct scrapbooks full of precious items from their everyday lives. These scrapbooks are full of photos, articles, notes, and other ephemera that provide a snapshot into what life what like at that time. Some even contain valentine cards from the time period. 

Valentine
From the Florence Gregory Walker Collection

This valentine is found in the scrapbook of  Florida State College for Women student Florence Gregory (B.A. Sociology, 1940) and dates to circa 1931-1937.

Antique Valentine
From the Florida State University Melvene Draheim Hardee Center for Women in Higher Education Collection

This valentine is found in the personal files of Dr. Melvene Draheim Hardee. The card is from Dr. Draheim Hardee’s childhood and dates to approximately 1920.

Heart-shaped Valentine
From the Marion L. Stine Collection

This valentine is found in the scrapbook of  Florida State College for Women student Marion Laura Stine and dates to circa 1917-1921.

To My Valentine
From the Annie Gertrude Gilliam Scrapbook

This valentine is found in the scrapbook of  Florida State College for Women student  Annie Gertrude Gilliam and dates to circa 1925-1931.

My Valentine
From the Janet MacGowan West Collection

This valentine is found in the scrapbook of  Florida State College for Women student Janet MacGowan West (BS 1922) and dates to circa 1917-1954.

Wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day from Special Collections & Archives!

State of the Digital Library

In 2019, we added 11 new collections to the digital library. We also added 1,414 new books (over 71,000 pages). 6,759 images, 1,028 newspaper issues and 3,707 PDF files. All added up with all the other types of files we loaded, we added 13,760 new items in the digital library in 2019! Now, the more interesting question, what are people looking at in the digital library?

We can’t break these numbers down by year easily unfortunately so these are the top viewed items in the Digital Library as of early February 2020:

Dissertation of Paul A. M. Dirac for Ph.D. degree, Paul A.M. Dirac Collection: 20,517
Golden bells, or, Hymns for our children, multiple collections: 7,113
Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey clown college, Harrison Sayre Collection Posters: 6,463
Child’s ABC of the war, multiple collections: 4,982
Il Secolo (Milan, Italy) (newspaper object only): 3,602
Stephen Graham’s notes from travels in the Jim Crow-era South, Stephen Graham Papers: 1,875
Joyfull newes out of the new found world, Cookbooks and Herbals: 1,738
Le Moniteur universel (newspaper object only): 1,654
All about cookery, Cookbooks and Herbals: 1,371
Tallahatchie Civil Rights Driving Tour, Davis Houck Papers: 1,331

Title page from Mrs. Beeton’s All About Cookery, 1890

I separated out the most views in the Heritage & University Archives (HUA) items as those are a different set of materials with a different audience than the rest of our digital collections. In news that will surprise few, FSU football items dominate the top viewed materials with the university archives. The top viewed items in the HUA collections as of early February 2020:

Florida Flambeau (newspaper object only): 5,616
2015-16 Florida State University Fact Book: 3,606
Tally-Ho 1952, FSU Yearbook: 1,306
Dorothy Price at FSCW, Florida State College for Women Photographs: 1,289
1980-81 Florida State University Bulletin General Information: 1,072
1993 Florida State Seminoles Football Media Guide: 1,000
Vernon Fox, Criminology, FSU Historic Photographs: 956
President Campbell with Werner Baum: 895
Florida State Football Team, 1962: 845
“A Cannibal Wife” in the Zo-Imba Production, Pat Arrants Collection 1955-1958: 835

“A Cannibal Wife” in the Zo-Imba Production (don’t you wonder what is happening here?!)

Explore all the items in the FSU digital library and see what you can find!

Uncovering Local Sharecropping through a General Store: The Van Brunt Business Records

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Around thirteen miles North from downtown Tallahassee is Lake Iamonia. Families such as the Van Brunts historically developed the land around Iamonia as large cotton plantations. R.F. Van Brunt was born in 1862 and from 1902 to 1911 operated a general store and the Van Brunt plantation in the area. The collection primarily comprises store account ledgers like the 1911 Day Book on the left.

At first glance these financial ledgers may not contain anything other than store balances and goods sold. However, this collection sheds light on local sharecropping. Sharecropping was an agricultural labor system that replaced slavery following the end of the Civil War. Plantation owners used this system to keep many former enslaved people bound to their plantations to maintain their crop-driven businesses. 

Sharecropping contracts, like the one below found in one of the Van Brunt store ledgers contracting Randall Hayes, leased land to the sharecropper to cultivate a cash crop. At a specified date, the sharecropper had to produce the contracted quantity of which they kept a portion. VanBrunt04

The Van Brunt store ledgers help us understand the economics of sharecropping. The country store in Iamonia is one example of how credit networks drove sharecropping. At the beginning of the agricultural year, sharecroppers bought their seeds and supplies on credit. The store often supplied individuals for months at a time without receiving payment. Near the date on their contracts, sharecroppers paid their store account in several ways.

The entry for September 16th affirms that five individuals received a balance on their store account for labor “by hauling seed.”

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While they could pay cash if they had it, sharecroppers paid their store balance down with agricultural goods as well. The entry from October 6th reveals that customers paid their store accounts down “by cotton.” Because they paid rent on farmland, and sometimes store balances, in cotton, local sharecroppers often settled their debt with the plantation owner and store during the harvest season.

Infrequent opportunities to settle accounts with plantation owners, natural disruptions, and crop failures meant that sharecropping easily became a cycle of debt that trapped African Americans on the same plantations that enslaved them or their parents.

We invite members of the FSU community and the general public to access our collections in our reading room on the first floor of Strozier Library Monday-Thursday from 10:00-6:00 and Friday from 10:00-5:30.

The 1911 Day Book and Sharecropping Contracts are also available for viewing in our digital library, DigiNole.

Click here to learn more about the Van Brunt Business Records.

Further Reading:

Paisley, Clifton. “Van Brunt’s Store, Iamonia, Florida, 1902-1911.” Florida Historical Quarterly 48 (1970): 353-367.

Enslaved Lives in the Archives at FSU- Research Guide and ASERL Exhibit Update

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A list of enslaved people that George Whitfield of Tallahassee owned as of 1862. [Original Object]

Special Collections & Archives wants to share some updates on our work surfacing and highlighting collections documenting local enslavement and sharecropping. Collaborating with the Tallahassee History and Human Rights Project in their creation of the Invisible Lives Tours produced a list of our archival materials that we wanted to make more visible and accessible to researchers and the general public. What followed was the creation of a research guide solely devoted to gathering our primary sources of Enslavement and Sharecropping in Florida in one place.

The guide aims to promote and support historical and genealogical research in Tallahassee and surrounding counties. In the guide you can find relevant manuscript collections, rare books, and oral histories available on-site and/or digitally. To find Special Collections research guides, navigate to the FSU Libraries home page, click on “Research Guides,” select “By Group,” and then select the drop-down menu “Special Collections.”

From that body of material, we digitized and submitted objects for inclusion in the Association of Southeast Research Libraries’ (ASERL) “Enslaved People in the Southeast” collaborative exhibit that debuted November 4th. The exhibit commemorates the 400 years that have passed since enslaved Africans were first sold in the English colonies in 1619 marking the beginning of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

FSU and thirty-five other institutions offered a range of primary sources including “photos, letters, bills of sale, emancipation documents, insurance and taxation documents, and maps indicating segregation zones.” With this breadth of archival primary sources, “Enslaved People in the Southeast” seeks to show the social complexity of enslavement and its legacy across sharecropping, Jim Crow, and segregation. 

To access our collections, we invite members of the FSU community and the general public to our reading room on the first floor of Strozier Library Monday-Thursday from 10:00-6:00 and Friday from 10:00-5:30. We also encourage those interested to browse our digital library, DigiNole.

New Digital Collection – The Talisman

may 1909 (1)

The Talisman was a student run publication that was active at Florida State College for Women (FSCW), FSU’s predecessor institution. The magazine was published quarterly by the Thalian Literary Society and the Minerva Club, the first two literary debate societies of FSCW. The first issue was published in 1906 and it ran until 1914, when it was turned into a weekly newspaper called the Florida Flambeau. As the students put it in the first ever issue of the Florida Flambeau in January 23rd, 1915, “Things happen so rapidly that once every three months makes a slow visitor.”

may 1909 (2)

The Talisman was the first college literary periodical to be published in Florida. Each issue featured student writings, editorials, campus news, and updates on all departments, including music and athletics. It included spaces for student notes and campus directories. Not only did The Talisman provide an avenue through which students could express their thoughts, it also was a way for students and surrounding communities to be informed as to the happenings of our campus.

The Talisman now exists as a time capsule for us. The writings of these students paint a picture of what student life was like in those years. We can also trace the progress and growth of our university through these publications by reading the departmental news from those early years. The Talisman can be found in DigiNole with our other publications here. If you have any questions about this collection please contact the Heritage & University Archivist, Sandra Varry, at svarry@fsu.edu.