Category Archives: Events

LGBTQ+ in Rare Books and Manuscripts: A Pride Month Project Becomes a Blog Series!

Hello! My name is Gino Romero.

Gino Photo
Photo of Gino Romero (They/Them, Elle/Ellx)

I am a queer non-binary artist, researcher, and the Rare Books Assistant in Special Collections and Archives. My research deals with queerness, highlighting the erasure of queer history, primarily focusing on people of color. As an undergrad, trying to do research in this topic with no formal training in research proved to be next to impossible. I leaned on my professors for resources, but these results were not so fruitful. Later that year, we went to Special Collections and Archives to look at artists’ books and before the class started, a librarian helped us look through the catalog and find topics we were interested in. I shouted out “LGBTQ+ History!”: no results. We tried just “LGBT”: no results! We tried dozens of configurations until we found results, but even then, it wasn’t guaranteed that they would actually be of use to my research. 

As a student, it was comforting to know that it wasn’t just me, that the institution was also struggling to find these histories. But as a researcher, I was frustrated beyond reason. I wondered why it’s so hard to find these histories. Now I work in Special Collections and Archives, and I wonder what my fellow coworkers and I can do to fix this? I began asking these questions to my colleagues and decided to make it into a project.

LGBT Search
Image – “0 matching items” for “LGBT” or “LGBTQ”

We often think that libraries are neutral, that they are solely a source of information for Rainbow Pull Quotepeople to come and formulate their own opinions on the matter. Librarians are human; personal biases always creep into the work, often to the detriment of marginalized populations. Libraries are sites of power, organizing, labeling, and delivering information in ways that affect cultural beliefs and understanding on institutional, national, and even global scales. It is important that we take the time to acknowledge that power and privilege, and that the discipline evolves out of (perhaps comfortable) old practices that contribute to systems of bigotry, oppression, and white supremacy

Librarians are tasked with the role of making information discoverable and available. They have the ability to place subject headings and search terms on materials, are involved in the acquisition of materials, and even contribute to what is taught in the classroom. These factors, among many others, put libraries in a unique position of power, as gatekeepers of information. 

The project – asking my colleagues to engage with queer histories in archives

For Pride month, I tasked my fellow coworkers with taking a moment to reflect on our role in the distribution and accessibility of information relating to LGBTQ+ history. I asked them to look into our catalogs in order to find materials, to experience what it’s like to be a queer researcher in our institution. The rules for the search were to prioritize the following: 

  • LGBTQ+ people of color
  • Materials outside of the Pride Student Union collection (These institutional records don’t represent intentional acquisition, and while valuable records of queer life on campus, don’t tell the story of underrepresentation on a larger scale.)
  • Stories that do not relate to LGBTQ+ struggles/hardships (Look for stories that highlight queer joy/culture!)

I asked my colleagues to submit a write up of their findings, describing why they chose that object, and what their experience was like in the shoes of a queer researcher. I will curate these submissions and blog about them on a biweekly basis, in hopes that this conversation will continue past Pride month and help create sustainable change.

I’m happy that this Pride Month work is turning into a blog series! In addition to sharing my colleagues’ findings, I hope to interview librarians and scholars who study representation in the archives. Be sure to check out the next post (hoping for a biweekly schedule), where I plan to include some of the discovered materials and describe the challenges my colleagues reported in their search process. 

In addition to this prompt, I also sent my colleagues some LGBTQ+ resources that I would like to share here as well:

Other institutions have been researching and working towards a solution for this issue as well. UNC has created a conscious editing initiative to repair and fix any harmful/outdated language in their catalog

Whether we follow the lead of other institutions or create a new program entirely just for FSU, it is important to take the time to acknowledge the power information holds and to make sure that we are doing our part to make it accurate, available, and equitable.

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?

Remembering Senator Claude Pepper

Social Security, minimum wage, and the National Institutes of Health. These are just a few of the ways that Claude Denson Pepper left his mark on American politics. He was born in rural Alabama, the eldest of four children to Joseph and Lena Pepper, on September 8, 1900. From these humble beginnings, Pepper would come to serve the people of Florida as a U.S. Senator (1936-1950) and Representative (1963-1989). In his later years as a U.S. Representative, he was a champion of the elderly; crafting and supporting legislation that was geared toward ensuring elder Americans were allowed to age and finish their lives with care and dignity.

Claude Pepper lying in state under the Capitol Rotunda, June 12, 1989. Claude Pepper Papers Photo A(238). [see original object]

This Saturday, May 30, marks the 31st anniversary of Senator Pepper’s passing. When he died on May 30, 1989, Pepper was the eldest sitting member of Congress. He was honored by laying in state under the U.S. Capitol Rotunda for three days before making his way to Tallahassee to be laid to rest next to his wife Mildred. Special Collections & Archives honors the Senator and encourages you to visit our online resources on Pepper, including diaries, photographs and manuscript material, to better acquaint yourself with one of the most active figures of 20th Century American politics.

Congressional Record, May 31, 1989. Senator Bob Graham (D, FL.) eulogized the life and career of Senator Pepper the day after his passing and the occasion was remembered on this specially printed copy of the Congressional Record. Claude Pepper Papers, MSS 1979-01, S.305 B.66 F.8

Remembering the Tallahassee Bus Boycott at 64

Today marks the 64th anniversary of the Tallahassee Bus Boycott. In the spring of 1956, Florida A&M students Wilhelmina Jakes and Carrie Patterson boarded a Tallahassee bus and took seats of their own choosing. Because these seats were in the “whites only” section of the bus, Jakes and Patterson were arrested by the Tallahassee Police Department, prompting fellow students, citizens and city leaders to take action. The two students were arrested on a Saturday. On Sunday, May 29, the area Ku Klux Klan burned a cross outside of the residence hall where Jakes and Patterson lived. By Monday the 30th, the student body of Florida A&M University convened and voted to boycott the city buses. That evening, a meeting was called by Reverend C.K. Steele to discuss the boycott and seek support from the community, thereby creating the Inter-Civic Council (ICC).

Over the course of the next seven months, the African American community of Tallahassee worked together to support themselves in making their way to work, school and religious services through a carpool service, which was eventually suspended after growing violence over the boycott. On January 1, 1957, Governor LeRoy Collins, himself a Tallahassee native, officially suspended the bus service until segregated seating was removed. However, due to poorly disguised rephrasing of the policy that included seating based on “tranquility and good order”, the bus system in Tallahassee would not truly be desegregated for another year. Those who joined Wilhelmina Jakes, Carrie Patterson and the students of Florida A&M University including Rev. Steele, Daniel Speed, and many others from the then 10,600 African-American residents of Tallahassee, were met with resistance from most white members of the Tallahassee community who felt racial segregation should remain in place.

The voices of many of the participants of the Tallahassee Bus Boycott of 1956 can be accessed through the transcripts available through the FSU Special Collections & Archives department. The Tallahassee Civil Rights Oral History Collection and the Reichelt Oral History Collection provide glimpses into this important moment in Florida, and national history, with researchers being able to read the words of Rev. Speed, King Solomon Dupont, LeRoy Collins, Daniel Speed and others. Though 64 years may feel like a long time, we are not that far removed from the events of the Bus Boycott. With racial tensions still ever present, immersing ourselves in and understanding our history can better help us plan for the future.

An unfortunate reminder of the past. A letter from Edgar S. Anderson urging FSU President Doak S. Campbell to expel any FSU Students involved with the Bus Boycott, 01/21/1957. Office of the President Papers HUA 2018-062 [see original digital object]

Earth Day 50th Anniversary

Today, April 22 2020, is the 50th anniversary of the first celebration of Earth Day. The first Earth Day in 1970 was a major mobilizing event of inestimable historical significance. The event was such a success because it came at the right time as awareness of human effects on the balance of nature was growing. Rachel Carson’s 1962 best-selling book, Silent Spring, laid the groundwork for a growing concern over man’s negative impact on the environment. 1969 was a year rife with high-profile environmental disasters; there was a major oil spill off the coast of southern California and Ohio’s Cuyahoga river caught fire. At the end of the year, concern for the environment rivaled concern for the Vietnam War.

Senator Gaylord Nelson (Wisconsin) announced his intentions for an Earth Day event six months prior to April 1970, which was enough time for the excitement to spread and for countless groups to become involved. A wide range of participants helped to organize Earth Day events and the offerings varied from speeches, teach-ins, movies, workshops, and more. The event inspired lifelong environmentalists and lead to the formation of many new environmental groups, lobbies, and services.

Florida State University participated in the first Earth day with a series of events on Landis Green including speeches, information booths, music, and movies. The theme was “Do Not Ask For Whom the Bell Tolls, It Tolls For Thee.”

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Both photos from the April 22, 1970 edition of the Florida Flambeau. Available digitally at http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_Flambeau_04221970

The immediate effects of Earth Day were significant: the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency, the passing of the Clean Air Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. The power of Earth Day extends beyond the day itself, the momentum gained by the event leant credibility to events that followed and engendered a generation of activists.

The twentieth anniversary celebration of Earth Day in 1990 united people in countries on all seven continents in unprecedented numbers to voice their concerns for environmental issues. Whereas the 1970 celebration was a grassroots effort, the 1990 celebration was run like a political campaign with advisors and consultants and a budget 15 times larger than the original event. The worldwide turnout for Earth Day 1990 was double what the organizers expected, the event united the most participants ever concerned about a single cause. The greatest success of Earth Day 1990 was the worldwide participation and attention it brought to the environmental issues plaguing the entire world. Environmental troubles were no longer simply viewed as the problem of white Americans but as a growing global concern.

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Enter https://fsuearthday50.omeka.net/

Florida State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives and FSU Sustainable Campus are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with the launch of a digital exhibit, Earth Day 50: Environmental Activism at FSU and Beyond. This exhibit was originally curated to be installed as a physical exhibit in Strozier library, but installation was postponed due to covid-19. Changing to a digital platform allows the story of Earth Day and environmental activism at FSU to continue to be shared. Please visit https://fsuearthday50.omeka.net/to learn more about the celebration of Earth Day at FSU, in Florida, and beyond.

Sources:

Cahn, Robert, and Patricia Cahn. “Did Earth Day Change the World?” Environment 32, no. 7 (September 1990): 16–20. https://doi.org/10.1080/00139157.1990.9929039.

Rome, A. “The Genius of Earth Day.” Environmental History 15, no. 2 (2010): 194–205. doi:10.1093/envhis/emq036.

New Exhibit Coming Soon!

March 13, 2020 will be the last day to view the current exhibit in the Special Collections & Archives Exhibit room,  “A Century of Mystery and Intrigue”.

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Our new exhibit, “Earth Day 50”, will be opening in April to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day: April 22, 1970. “Earth Day 50” is a collaborative effort between FSU Sustainable Campus and Special Collections & Archives. The goal of the exhibit is to illustrate the role that prominent figures in FSU and Florida history have played in the environmental movement and highlight environmental activism here at Florida State University in the past 50 years.

Earth Day Activities
Schedule of Events at Florida State University for the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970. Florida Flambeau, April 22, 1970

Keep an eye out for more information about the opening of the new exhibit, as well as events and activities in celebration of Earth Day on campus.

Archives Month in FSU Special Collections & Archives

October is American Archives Month. And while every month is Archives Month to those of us here in Special Collections & Archives, October is the month we really like to toot our own horn.

We kicked off the festivities this year with our annual takeover of the FSU Libraries twitter handle for #AskAnArchivist day which was on October 2, 2019 this year. We had a great day of discussion and sharing out information about our collections, our practices and what exactly it is we do every day in all our spaces. You can see a round-up of (most) of the tweets below. Happy Reading! [In case the tweets are not appearing in this post since technology is not always our friend, even to the digital archivist, you can view this Tweet Collection here as well.]

#AskAnArchivist Day is tomorrow!

FSU Special Collections & Archives is once again participating in #AskAnArchivist Day, the kick-off event for American Archives Month. We’ll be taking over the FSU Libraries twitter feed (@fsulibraries) tomorrow, Wednesday, October 2, 2019 from 10am to 6pm.

How does this work? Archivists here at FSU and all over the country will take to Twitter to respond to questions tweeted with the hashtag #AskAnArchivist. No question is too silly, too small or too big. You can ask us here at FSU what the oldest item is we have, what does it mean to process a collection, do we have anything in our collections about your dissertation topic? Just tweet at us with the hashtag and we’ll answer!

Don’t be shy with us or any other archives on Twitter and be sure to ask your questions on #AskAnArchivist day!

A Portrait in Courage at the Norwood Reading Room

This post was written by Kacee Reguera, an undergraduate senior at FSU pursuing a Studio Art degree in Printmaking, Artist’s Books, and Photography. A love for art preservation and the history of our university led her to an internship with Heritage & University Archives at Special Collections.

During the summer of 2018, we received a collection of items belonging to Katherine W.  Montgomery and her family. Katherine Montgomery attended Florida State College for Women from 1914 to 1918 and became heavily involved in athletics. She was on the varsity team of several sports, a member of the F-Club, and the sports editor for The Florida Flambeau. In 1920, she began teaching Physical Education at Florida State College for Women (FSCW) and spent over 30 years leading the Physical Education department. She developed curriculum for the intramural athletics program at FSCW, spearheaded the construction of a new gymnasium, and even published a book titled “Volleyball for Women”. Katherine Montgomery’s contributions to our university have proved timeless. We used this collection as an opportunity to commemorate her lasting effect on our university.

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Note from Katherine’s Diary

The collection contains items belonging to three generations of Montgomery family members. Katherine had two younger sisters that also attended FSCW during the 1920s. The collection includes diaries and scrapbooks belonging to each of them. These items brought to light how involved with FSCW the Montgomery family really was.

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Page from Katherine’s Diary

scrapbook page
Page from Anne Montgomery’s Scrapbook

This collection was gathered over time by Edwin F. Montgomery, Katherine’s nephew. Many of the items in the collection are ephemera relating to Katherine’s passing. These items provide a much broader understanding of the impact Katherine had not only on her community, but also on individuals.

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Telefax from Dr. Grace Fox to Edwin F. Montgomery

With the new items acquired from this collection and some from previously held collections, we curated an exhibit in the Norwood Reading Room at Strozier Library that forms a better understanding of Katherine’s values and ideals, as well as her contributions to Florida State College for Women and Florida State University. The exhibit features Katherine’s original mortarboard and tassel, excerpts from her diaries and notebooks, and awards she received.

The Norwood Reading Room is located on the second floor of Strozier Library and is open Monday-Thursday, 10am to 6pm and on Fridays 10am to 5:30pm. Please stop by to see the new exhibit!

Exploring the Alicia Korenman Graphic Novels Collection (1983-2007)

Will Eisner Week kicked off on March 1st, so it’s a great time to remind library users of the rich graphic novel and comics resources available in Special Collections & Archives. If you’re wondering who Will Eisner is and why he gets his own week, you can check out SCA Manuscript Archivist Rory Grennan’s brief and informative essay on Eisner’s contribution to comic books here. Florida State University boasts multiple collections with emphases on comic books and graphic novels, including the Robert M. Ervin Jr. Collection[ and the Alicia Korenman Graphic Novels Collection.

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Tripodologia Felina, no. 1, 1992 in the Alicia Korenman Graphic Novels Collection

            The Alicia Korenman Graphic Novels Collection is a diverse collection of media, including comic books and strips, graphic novels, zines, books, as well as DVDs and VHS tapes. As detailed in the collection’s finding aid, Korenman’s interest in how women were portrayed by the comic book industry began in the 1990s. She discovered that alternative and small press comic book publishers tendered stories based on everyday experiences and emotions, as well as the female experience.

            The contents of the collection run the gamut from classic Archie comics from the 1990s to Japanese manga, including a manga adaptation of the popular anime Cowboy Bebop, as well as a robust assortment of zines. What’s a zine? A zine, according to the Barnard Zine Library, is “short for fanzine or magazine, […] a DIY subculture self-publication, usually made on paper and reproduced with a photocopier or a printer.” While several zines are in English, at least two titles are also in Spanish, including Tripodologia Felina, no. 1 (published in 1992 by Producciones Balazo) and Asi Pasan los Dias/Escuadron Rescate (written and published by Matt Madden and Jessica Abel, published in 1998). The self-published and small-scale nature of zines complements Korenman’s interest in more personal stories.

These zines are only the tip of the iceberg and we at Special Collections & Archives encourage students, faculty, and members of the public to check out the collection, and our other resources at any time!

For those interested in Eisner Week activities, there are two events happening in the Bradley Reading Room in Strozier Library from March 1-7:

March 5: Graphic Novel Literacy Panel –  https://www.facebook.com/events/424490508306147/

March 7: A Conversation with Will Eisner- https://www.facebook.com/events/298756474133249/

Post written by Lisa Play.