October is a special month for those us in the archives. It’s an entire month to celebrate our collections and, more importantly, our work which is often shrouded in mystery. Even for our co-workers in libraries. So, archivists have embraced American Archives Month, held every October, as a way to share what it is we do.
For us here in Special Collections & Archives this year, we started October by participating in #AskAnArchivist day on October 3, 2018, by staging a takeover of the FSU Libraries twitter feed, answering questions and participating in discussions that happened all over the Twittersphere. You can check out the hashtag #AskAnArchivist and the FSU Libraries twitter page to catch up on those tweets.
Special Collections & Archives hosted our first Open House for Archives Month this year for our faculty and staff here in FSU Libraries. We hope to grow this event in the coming years so more people on campus and in the community can come and see our collections and talk to us about our work.
Lastly, we also had our annual tradition of visiting Paul Dirac’s gravesite and cleaning the headstone. Dirac, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, retired to Tallahassee and taught at FSU while he lived here. Upon his death, his papers and collections came here to FSU and is a cornerstone collection to our History of Science materials.
Poetry can be a powerful tool for eliciting emotion and is frequently used to express dissent or advocate for change. FSU Special Collections & Archives’ latest exhibition, “Poetry in Protest,” explores the genres, tactics, and voices of poets that write against the existing world and imagine societal revolution.
As a means of delving into the subject, the exhibition begins with poet Michael Rothenberg’s work in developing the global event 100 Thousand Poets for Change, where poets around the world read in support of “Peace, Justice, and Sustainability.” While some of the materials on display are explicitly poetry responding to some aspect of the status quo, others are less direct in their means of protest. Poetry containing eroticism that is transgressive push back against societal norms of sex and love; works written in dialects or languages of the oppressed insist upon the existence of those voices in the world.
The selections from FSU Libraries’ Special Collections encompass nearly 2,500 years of poetical dissent, including Sappho, William Wordsworth, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, Tupac Shakur, and many more. Materials from the Michael Rothenberg Collection are on display for the first time since their recent acquisition as well.
Stop by this Fall and take a tour of some of the greatest voices of protest poetry in history through this exhibition of items from FSU’s Special Collections & Archives. This exhibit is located in the Exhibit Room on the first floor of Strozier Library. It is open Monday to Thursday, 10am to 6pm and on Fridays from 10am to 5:30pm.
The following blog post was written by Joseph, Special Collections & Archives Scholar in Residence and Guest Curator of our latest exhibit Ruffians, Scoundrels, and Buccaneers: Pirates Throughout the Ages.
My name is Joseph and I am 11 years old. I started coming to Special Collections with my mom when I was between 5 and 6 years old. My mom is a graduate student who does research and studies in Special Collections. I often come with her and read or do homework now that I am a little older. I love to read and have seen many amazing texts at Special Collections. I have even used some for research.
I have always admired the exhibits next door to Special Collections that are displayed in the exhibit room. One day earlier this year, I thought I would like to try making one. I had just finished reading a story and writing a paper about Blackbeard, so I thought, “What better than an exhibit about pirates?” I love pirates, and I’ve learned quite a bit about them, so I began working on the basics. When I had prepared some notes and drawings, I talked to Dean Katie about it. She thought that with some work, it could be a great exhibit.
That’s when the work really began. While Mr. Rory and I selected material, Ms. Hannah worked on the schedule, the jobs, and all the other basics. Then Ms. Lisa helped me with pulling books to use, while Mr. Rory and I worked on writing the captions. We also had to select material and decide what needed to be digitalized. At last, installation day arrived! Everyone worked really hard. Each person was assigned a case to assemble after deciding what part of the exhibit would be displayed in each case. Once the materials were distributed the materials had to arranged properly. Finally, the captions had to put in and Mr. Rory finished by writing the last few captions for added material.
In one of the tall cases it was decided that my Halloween pirate costume, which was handmade by my grandmother, would be displayed. Putting the exhibit together was harder than I thought it to be. It took many, many weeks of planning and lots of hard work to install, but it was well worth it. I am very happy with the results, and hope to help with many more exhibits at Special Collections.
Pirates are definitely amazing. They are known for being ruthless, dirty cutthroats that mercilessly burnt towns to the ground, driving the Royal Navy crazy. But which pirate stories are truthful, and which are fiction?
This exhibit features true accounts of historical pirates, as well as fictional stories. While fiction can be very entertaining, the truth about pirates is just as fascinating, although it’s fun to see what people imagine about pirates too! Pirates are important to Florida as well – you can learn more about the story of José Gaspar, also known as Gasparilla, who operated in the Florida waters, and Ned Buntline, who wrote pirate stories set in Florida.
We hope you now see why pirates are so awesome, and you come see all the great material in “Ruffians, Scoundrels, and Buccaneers,” selected from the holdings of FSU Special Collections & Archives and Strozier Library.
Florida State: Traditions through the Eras is an exhibit that traces back some of Florida State University’s most well-known traditions through the institution’s long history. What we now know as FSU has gone through many changes over the years: beginning as the Seminary West of the Suwannee River, then the Florida State College, Florida State College for Women, and finally Florida State University. Many of the symbols and practices we know today, like the school colors or the university seal, have been carried over through these iterations, evolving with the institution itself.
The exhibit is divided into four main categories: Seals, Torches, and Owls; School Colors & Honors Societies; Music & Marching; and Camp Flastacowo & the FSU Reservation. The digital exhibit further separates the School Colors and Honors Societies into two groups. More information regarding each category can be found on their respective digital exhibit pages.
The materials in this exhibit were curated in collaboration with Women for FSU. As part of their Backstage Pass program, members get a behind-the-scenes look at how things are done at FSU. Because of this collaboration, the process of putting the exhibit together was somewhat unique: instead of researching a wide number of potential materials and only gathering a select few, we gathered a wide number of materials, from which the members would be able to pick and choose their favorites. The exhibit you see today is made up of those choices. Gathering dozens of items from all over Special Collections and Archives was quite an undertaking, but getting a glimpse into the development of FSU over its existence made it a worthwhile one.
After the event, the time came to put together a digital version of the exhibit. While the physical version is ultimately limited by space, the digital exhibit could incorporate basically every item that we had initially gathered. That being said, incorporating all of those items digitally meant a lot of digitization. Through a combination of scanning and photography, the digital exhibit now contains approximately fifty of the items gathered to reflect FSU traditions past and present.
In the spring of 1956, after students Wilhelmina Jakes and Carrie Patterson from Florida A&M University, were arrested and jailed for refusing to leave the “whites only” section of a Tallahassee bus, the African-American community of the city rallied together to boycott the city bus service and take a stand for their civil rights and the belief that the color of their skin should not leave them subject to discrimination and fear. Those who participated in the boycott, including Rev. C.K. Steele, Daniel Speed, Jakes and Patterson and many others from the then 10,600 African-American residents of Tallahassee, were met with resistance from bigoted members of the Tallahassee community that felt racial segregation should remain the law of the land. What factors contributed to a mindset that would allow for one group to so poorly treat another?
A new exhibit now open at the Claude Pepper Library seeks to illustrate the kind of resistance that the Bus Boycott participants faced in their endeavors to secure fair and impartial treatment in a city that they too, called home. Guests are invited to visit the Claude Pepper Library and explore the exhibit on the Tallahassee Bus Boycott of 1956 which is open to the public now, through the early fall of 2018. Using primary source documents, ephemera and photographs that provide a deeper context for the events that began to take place in May of 1956, Special Collections & Archives provides a look into the social and political climate in the State of Florida leading during the time of the Bus Boycott. Guests are also able to listen to audio recordings of boycott participants and witnesses, including the Reverend C.K. Steele, Daniel Speed and Governor LeRoy Collins. The Claude Pepper Library and Museum are open Monday through Friday from 9:00AM to 5:00PM, call (850) 644-9217 or email Political Papers Archivist Robert Rubero (email@example.com) with any questions.
The Special Collections book we’re highlighting today has a very specific mission: to teach children (and perhaps, the adults reading to or with them) about the post-nuclear world, and about the need for peace. On the Wings of Peace: In Memory of Hiroshima and Nagasakiis a 1995 collection of prose, poetry, and accompanying illustrations that promotes a message of world peace by incorporating voices from communities that have been affected by the atrocities of war.
On the Wings of Peace: Writers and Illustrators Speak Out for Peace, in Memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
The introduction by compiler and editor Sheila Hamanaka lays out the historical events of August 6, 1945, aligning the victims to the reader: “In this city of 350,000 were people like you and me, and they were already suffering from the effects of war — the death of loved ones, starvation, separation” (11). Her words appear across from this harrowing illustration:
Little Boy and Fat Man
Throughout the large hardback volume, essays, personal accounts, and poetry are accompanied by both illustrations that evoke difficult emotions and photographs that portray the reality of the circumstances. Across from “Thoughts from a Nuclear Physicist,” a short essay by Michio Kaku, is Little Boy and Fat Man, a photograph by Robert Del Tredici. A young man leans casually against what must be a mock-up of the bomb, appropriately reflecting Dr. Kaku’s wise observation:
“Regrettably, our scientific skills have far outstripped the wisdom and compassion necessary to control this deadly, cosmic power. We are like spoiled infants playing with matches while floating on a swimming pool of gasoline” (25).
Marsha Gontarski Children’s Literature Collection & Visual Literacy
The volume is a compelling addition to the growing Marsha Gontarski Children’s Literature Collection, a broad collection of works mostly written and designed with children in mind. What is most fascinating about the collection is the way that Dr. Gontarski conceives of it; in her years of studying visual literacy, Dr. Gontarski has made connections between the books within her collection via the myriad ways meanings are visually communicated to children in these works. This book, which handles heavy subject matter, incorporates a mix of illustrations by different artists.
One of the stand-out poems includes illustrations by the poet.
“Sky,” by Junko Morimoto, tells the story of the atomic bombs from the perspective of a child in a village very near the drop-site. The illustrations are small and appear alongside the stanzas, as though they are part of the poetry.
This month’s Year of Poetry theme is community, and the book On the Wings of Peace considers the mission of achieving world peace through the eyes of people from different communities with different relationships to war and peace. In the case of “Sky” it is of a person who has experienced atomic fallout.
In the case of “Rabbit Foot: A Story of the Peacemaker,” the poem is from the perspective of the Iroquois people. It recounts one of the legends that accompanies the foundation of the Great League of Peace, which joined five nations at war into a larger league comprised of the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, and Seneca people (eventually, in 1722, the Tuscarora people joined as well). In the story, the Peacemaker warns of the dangers of war, illustrating his point with a story of a frog and a snake who eventually consume one another:
The snake swallowed more of the frog
the frog swallowed more of the snake
and the circle got smaller and smaller
until both of them swallowed one last time
and just like that, they both were gone.
They had eaten each other,
the Peacemaker said.
And in much the same way,
unless you give up war
and learn to live together in peace,
that also will happen to you.
— “Rabbit Foot: A Story of the Peacemaker” by Joseph Bruchac
If you’re interested in seeing how more artists respond to questions of war and peace, visit FSU’s Museum of Fine Arts to see the new exhibit, Waging Peace! There are beautiful pieces by a number of different artists, and local schools were involved in the design and installation of the exhibit.
The exhibit Waging Peace! will be up until July 6th, 2018. Don’t miss it!
Hamanaka, Sheila. On the Wings of Peace. Clarion Books, 1995.
Guests are invited to explore the life works of Clifton Van Brunt Lewis, a local activist in the Tallahassee civil rights movement who championed for equality, pushed for historic preservation and founded many of Tallahassee’s beloved cultural institutions, including LeMoyne Center for the Arts, Tallahassee Museum, and the Spring House Institute.
Clifton and her husband George Lewis II supported student protestors during the lunch counter sit-ins and theatre demonstrations, as well as worked on interracial committees such as the Tallahassee Association for Good Government and the Tallahassee Council on Human Relations. Clifton established “The Little Gallery” in the lobby of the Lewis State Bank, showcasing both white and black artists in a rotating display. She stayed active until the very end, pushing for equal rights, environmental protection, and art and beauty for everyone.
Their family home, the Lewis Spring House, is the only residence designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright in Florida during his lifetime. It is operated by the Spring House Institute. Visit them at PreserveSpringHouse.net.
The opening reception is Thursday, April 12 from 5-7PM in the Mary Lou Norwood Reading Room, second floor Strozier Library. Exhibit curator Lydia Nabors will give a short talk at 6:15PM.
The exhibit will be open 10AM-6PM Monday through Friday in the Norwood throughout Summer 2018.
In keeping with month’s theme, Poetry and Nature, I wanted to turn back to Robert Burns’ “To a Mouse,” a poem that delights and provokes upon each reread. In the poem we can see Burns’ tendency to find inspiration in the everyday; a brief encounter with nature gives him the opportunity to ruminate on the state of man and mouse alike.
FSU’s Special Collections holds an incredible number of volumes of Robert Burns poetry, as well as ephemera connected to Burns fandom. A simple search for “Robert Burns” in the catalog of Special Collections items returns 149 items, including plays, music, biographies, and pamphlets, and most of these are either in the Shaw or Scottish collections.
Likely our rarest item is our copy of the Kilmarnock Burns, the earliest printing of a collection of Burns’ works; 612 copies were printed in 1786 on a subscription basis, and was immediately successful, turning Robert Burns into a national celebrity. It is in this volume that “To a Mouse” was first printed for public consumption. Here’s a video of Dawn Steele performing the work:
We learn in the poem’s subtitle, and in the lore surrounding its inception, that the titular “Mouse” was glimpsed, “On Turning up in Her Nest with the Plough, November, 1785.”
Burns laments this action, expressing dismay that he’s caused her tiny mouse-heart to race: “O, what a pannic’s in thy breastie!” Upon the poem’s closing, however, Burns has considered the differences between himself and the “wee beastie”: while both mice and men experience the roughness and instability in life, the mouse has the advantage in not being able to either dwell on the past or anxiously anticipate the future.
Spring is here, and FSU’s campus is covered in blossoming trees, lush green leaves, and curious critters. Take some time this week to consider your relationship to the natural world around you. Do you notice the little things on your walks through campus? Do you allow, as Burns did, these external stimuli to impact your thoughts and feelings about yourself, or even to provoke poetic expression?
Robert Burns’ ability to spontaneously produce musical and poignant verse earned him the title of “Scotland’s Bard,” and ensured that his legacy would remain especially close to that nation’s people and their descendants. Special Collections & Archives’ forthcoming exhibit, “In his ‘Great Shadow’: Robert Burns’ Legacy,” opening January 22nd, explores not only the lyrical finesse that led to our remembrance of him, but especially how he is remembered.
Items created by Burns Clubs for memorial celebrations evince the long history of social responses to Burns’ greatness; drawing on the Scottish and John McKay Shaw Collections at FSU’s Special Collections & Archives, the exhibit especially highlights the tradition of Burns Suppers, which are still celebrated around the world. Like memorial celebrations, poetic homages to Burns began almost at the moment of his death. This exhibit explores these poetic echoes, from Sir Walter Scott to current Scottish poet laureate Jackie Kay. Experience firsthand the social and poetic legacies of Burns — what Keats called “his Great Shadow” — through beautiful historical items in our collections.
The exhibit is holding a soft opening starting January 22, 2018, and then will be open through the Spring semester in the Exhibit Room in Strozier Library, Monday-Thursday, 10am to 6pm and Friday 10am to 5:30pm.
An exhibition of new work by Amy Fleming, The Age of Experience: We Tell Better Stories, is coming to the Claude Pepper Museum at the Claude Pepper Center, 636 West Call Street, Tallahassee, on the campus of Florida State University. The exhibition runs from December 1, 2017, to January 19, 2018, with an opening reception December 1, 6 – 9 p.m.
The exhibition is funded by a grant from Puffin Foundation Ltd. The Puffin Foundation provides grants to artists whose work addresses social issues, or who may be excluded from mainstream opportunities due to race, gender, or social philosophy.
This exhibition works to change the narrative around the way we discuss aging by focusing attention on the many vibrant members of our elder community. Ageism is a byproduct of a hyperconsumerist mindset: the disposability of mass-produced goods, the replacement of “old” with “new” without regard to quality or continued usefulness feeds into this attitude. In The Age of Experience: We Tell Better Stories, images of mass-produced discards find new life as impossible robes and royal collars made from pump valves and vacuum tubes, pull tab rings reappear as chain mail, soda bottles form crowns and halos.
Amy has been working with members of the City of Tallahassee Senior Center to create a series of screen and relief printed portraits. Participants in the project range in age from 60 to their mid 90’s. She became interested in problems facing older adults when two family members were dismissed from their jobs when they entered their 60’s despite having excellent work records. One is still having difficulty finding full-time employment.
Amy Fleming is an Adjunct Professor of Printmaking and Print Lab Manager at Florida State University. She is the recipient of a grant from Puffin Foundation Ltd., a Robert Rauschenberg/Barrier Island Group for the Arts award, has been an Associate Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts artists residency, Artist in Residence at 621 Gallery and a Summer River Fellows Program resident artist at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia. Her work is included in public and private collections including the Jean and Alexander Heard Library at Vanderbilt University, and the Southern Graphics Council International permanent collection at Kennesaw State University.
Senator Claude Pepper, D-FL, served as chair of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Aging from 1977 through 1983. Pepper led the fight against elder abuse, established legislation to fund Alzheimer’s research and care centers, and pushed energetically against age stereotyping. One of his famous quotes is “Ageism is as odious as racism and sexism.”