Today on National Love Your Pet Day, Special Collections & Archives celebrates not only our own pets, but those of our collection creators as well!
Black History Month is upon us and it is time to reflect, recognize, and revere the numerous contributions that black authors have made to our society. Therefore, it is our pleasure to highlight some influential black authors (whose works we have in the stacks at Florida State University Special Collections and Archives).
- Occupation: poet, singer, activist
- Born: April 4, 1928
- Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
- Quote: “Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.”
- Famous Works: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” (1969), “And Still I Rise” (1978), “Phenomenal Women: Four Poems Celebrating Women” (1995)
- In Special Collections: “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” (1993) (Gontarski- PS3551.N464 L54 1993)
- Occupation: poet, novelist, playwright, activist
- Born: February 1, 1902
- Hometown: Joplin, Missouri
- Quote: “An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.”
- Famous Works: “I, Too” (1926), “Montage of a Dream Deferred” (1951), “The Weary Blues”(1926), “Let America be America Again” (1936)
- In Special Collections: “Shakespeare in Harlem” (1942) (Vault- PS3515.U274 S5), “Black Misery” (1969) (Gontarski- PS3515.U274 B5 1969), “The Dream Keeper and Other Poems” (1994) (Shaw- PS3515.U274 D74 1994), “One-Way Ticket” (1948) (Rare – PS3515.U274 O5), and more.
- Occupation: novelist, playwright, poet, activist
- Born: August 2, 1924
- Hometown: Harlem, New York, New York
- Quote: “It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”
- Famous Works: “The Fire Next Time” (1962), “If Beale Street Could Talk” (1974), “Go Tell It on the Mountain” (1953), “Notes of a Native Son” (1955)
- In Special Collections: “Letter from a Region in my Mind” (1962) (Rare- E185.61.B196), “School Readings by Grades” (1897) (Shaw – PE1117 .B281-B286 1897)
- Occupation: writer
- Born: August 11, 1921
- Hometown: Ithaca, New York
- Quote: “In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.”
- Famous Works: “Queen: The Story of an American Family” (1993), “Mama Flora’s Family” (1997)
- In Special Collections: “Roots” (1976) (Rare- E185.97.H24 A33), “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” (1965) (Grove- E185.97.L5 A3 1966b)
Zora Neale Hurston
- Occupation: author, anthropologist, filmmaker
- Born: January 7, 1891
- Hometown: Notasulga, Alabama
- Quote: “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”
- Famous Works: “How It Feels To Be Colored Me” (1928), “Sweat” (1926), “Mules and Men” (1935)
- In Special Collections: “Their Eyes Were Watching God” (1937) (Florida- PS3515. U789 T5 1969), “Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography” (1942) (Florida- PS3515.U789 Z5 1971), “Tell My Horse”(1938) (Florida- F1886 .H87 1938), and more.
- Occupation: novelist, essayist, book editor, professor
- Born: February 18, 1931
- Hometown: Lorain, Ohio
- Quote: “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”
- Famous Works: “Beloved” (1987), “Song of Solomon”(1977), “Sula” (1973)
- In Special Collections: “Five Poems” (2002) (Rare- oversize PS3563.O8749 A6 2002), “The Big Box” (1999) (Gontarski- PZ8.3.M836 Bi 1999), and more.
Pictured above are just a few of the pieces we have in Special Collections by these authors. (Slide 1: “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” by Maya Angelou, Slide 2-3: “Shakespeare in Harlem” by Langston Hughes and signed, Slide 4-6: “Letter from a Region in my Mind” by James Baldwin, Slides 7-9: “Five Poems” by Toni Morrison)
By no means is this an exhaustive list of the amazing black authors whose works we hold on our shelves. Here at SCA, we have a plethora of black literature including novels, poems, children’s books, and historical materials. Black History Month is the perfect time to delve into these works, so head to Special Collections in Strozier and let us know what you want to read. We look forward to seeing you here!
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.
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.”
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.
Click here to learn more about the Van Brunt Business Records.
Paisley, Clifton. “Van Brunt’s Store, Iamonia, Florida, 1902-1911.” Florida Historical Quarterly 48 (1970): 353-367.
A new digital exhibit is now available, featuring information and documents that expand on the items currently on display in at the Heritage Museum in Dodd Hall. The exhibit is titled A University in Transition: The Long Path to Integration and focuses on the role of institutional racism in delaying state university integration. It also highlights acts of resistance by students, such as John Boardman, who was expelled for his active involvement with the black Inter-Civic council during and after the Tallahassee Bus Boycott.
African American students, faculty, staff, and alumni also tell their story during the 40th anniversary of integration, for which a statue was commissioned featuring the first black graduate, athlete, and homecoming queen. The exhibit concludes with a spotlight on FSU’s first black administrator, Dr. Bob E. Leach, whose speeches inspired students for over a decade (1978-1988) and who served as a model of leadership for the university.
The exhibit also aligns with the goals of FSU’s recently established Civil Rights Institute. The interdisciplinary institute will sponsor events, speakers, publications, education, and research on civil rights and social justice. Its collections will be housed in Strozier Library and include historical African American newspapers, the Tallahassee Civil Rights Oral History collection, microfilm editions of NAACP and ACLU organizational records and the Emmett Till archives.
For more information, check out the library’s Civil Rights LibGuide.
The digital exhibit is available here: https://universityintransition.omeka.net/exhibits/show/a-university-in-transition/introduction
This is a guest-post by students Josalin Hughes and Julia Kleser, Editing, Writing, and Media majors, whose project for their Advanced Writing and Editing course this semester is to help create content highlighting portions of Special Collections holdings.
As we progress from the otherworldly and spooky atmosphere of October and deeper into the holiday spirit of November, it can be hard to let go of Halloween. After all, the exciting and haunting energy has been building since the first of the month. We hope everyone had a happy Halloween and want to introduce the work of an author near and dear to our hearts. Edward Gorey was a curious character who created spectacular—or spooktacular, rather, to stay in-season—books for children. Although not gory, as his name may suggest, some readers describe his art as “unnerving” or “creepy.” Marsha Gontarski, the researcher who compiled and donated the entire Marsha GontarskiChildren’s Literature Collection, refers to his style as “subtle and unsettling.”
Girl on Fire
One of the most well-known works, and perhaps most suitable for this recently passed holiday, is The Gashlycrumb Tinies which you can find in the Marsha Gontarski Collection. As pictured below, the poem takes on the form of a traditional alphabet-style book. Where Gorey’s version differs though, is the somewhat disturbing subject matter of each letter; from Amy to Zillah, each letter names a child who dies in a tragic, absurdor nonsensical way.
The darker tone of the poem bleeds in through the images that accompany the single-line deaths. Each illustration is inked in heavy, purposeful strokes in all black. Without the variation of color, his style relies on different textures and contrast to tell each morbid tale.
Creepy Baby and Bug Book
Even outside of The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Gorey’s other work carries this same eerie quality, one which inspired well-liked artists such as Tim Burton. Taken from his 1984 engagement calendar, An Edward Gorey Bestiary, are a few illustrations that mirror the unsettling style seen in The Gashlycrumb Tinies, with some splashes of color. Although his style may vary to include a more clean and colorful appearance, the stories he tells remain a little ghastly.
In The Bug Book, Gorey follows the lives of a family of delightfully cute and colorful bugs, and their murderous plot against the black bug who didn’t quite fit in with their lifestyle.
What makes a children’s book?
Despite the more mature themes of his illustrated poems and short stories, such as death/murder, violence, and alcoholism, his works are often regarded as being made for children. This poses a question of what makes “a children’s book,” an element explored throughout the works included in the Marsha Gontarski Collection. Do illustration-heavy works fall into the category of being “for kids,” simply due to our societal understanding that picture books are childlike in nature? Do children pay attention to the same themes and motifs that catch the eyes of adults? These questions are prevalent in the discussion around Gorey’s work, and can be asked again and again as we make our way through literature assigned to the genre of children’s books.
Two books Dr. Gontarski recommended for those examining this subject include The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettleheim and Don’t tell the Grown-ups: Subversive Children’s Literature by Alison Laurie..
Although the season of ghosts, vampires, and bogeymen has ended, the spirit of the dark and disturbed doesn’t have to. Edward Gorey has a lot of works that we were unable to include in this post—be sure to come visit them in the Special Collections Reading Room, open Monday to Thursday, 10am – 6pm, or Friday 10am – 5:30pm. The reading room is on the first floor of Strozier Library. Gorey’s books, as well as so many other works using visual elements designed for children, are available in the Marsha Gontarski Collection.
A guest post by Brianna McLean, who currently works in Special Collections and the Heritage Museum. She is a history graduate student working on her M.A. in Early Modern European History.
This semester, I have been working with our Rare Books Librarian, Rachel Duke, and learning about the Napoleon Collection here in Special Collections. As a history graduate student studying Early Modern France, this collection has been extra rewarding to examine. There are so many exciting pieces, such as Napoleon’s death mask, Eighteenth-century manuscripts, documents about France’s colonies and women during the time, newspapers, pamphlets, secondary scholarship on France, and more. The best part is that all of these items are just waiting inside Strozier Library to be examined and studied.
The Napoleon Collection is particularly strong when it comes to Napoleon’s military campaigns and works by and about prominent French Revolutionary and military figures. The collection includes works by Napoleon, Marie Antoinette, Robespierre, Marat, and more. For me, the best part of this collection are the memoirs. Memoirs are one of my favorite parts of history because you can learn so much about a person by what they wanted to portray to the public about themselves. Some of the memoirs are even digitized in E-book form, available on databases like Hathi Trust if researchers want online access as well. But FSU has our own digital repository, Diginole, and some Napoleonic manuscripts are accessible there, such as this 1772 regiment list of revenues and expenses.
In 2018, Special Collections received an incredible donation to the Napoleon Collection: the Michael La Vean Collection. This over-4000-book collection is the perfect addition to the Napoleon Collection because it adds new dimensions, such as an increase in women’s narratives. Researchers may be interested in this collection because of its emphasis on gender studies, history of sex, European naval history, military uniforms, and the history of European royalty. Currently, Special Collections is preparing to catalog the La Vean Collection to make it accessible to researchers.
When collections are donated, they are usually kept in the same order as the donor, or creator, gave them, until they can be ordered by call number. As a library and museum assistant, I feel fortunate to be able to view the collection in its original order. La Vean organized his collection topically into different subjects such as “Medieval,” “Vendee & French Civil War,” “Women General,” “Napoleon Family,” and “Naval,” among others. This semester, I am learning about this collection and figuring out the most important items and what should be cataloged first. Researchers are encouraged to visit Special Collections with any inquiries about the collection while it is being processed.
This is just a small glimpse into our French Revolution Collections. If you are interested in seeing what the Napoleon Collection has to offer, please stop by Special Collections and visit the library catalog, setting “Strozier, Napoleon Collection” as your location.
Poetry has, traditionally, served as an excellent way to remember things. The human brain just seems to better retain information that rhymes, and a rhythmic quality can bring the words to mind in an instant.
Lines that are intended to aid in memorization are called mnemonic verses, and we use them on a daily basis. Think of when you try to determine how many days are in a month: “Thirty days hath September…” Or when you consider how “neither” should be spelled: “I before E except after C…” Is that snake in your yard friend or foe? “Red on black, friend of Jack…”
There are even longer mnemonic verses for memorizing heftier material. For example, this witty little song for the history of the monarchy in England (sung to the tune of Good King Wenceslas):
Willie, Willie, Harry, Stee, Harry, Dick, John, Harry three; One, two, three Neds, Richard two Harrys four, five, six... then who? Edwards four, five, Dick the bad, Harrys twain and Ned the Lad; Mary, Bessie, James the Vain, Charlie, Charlie, James again... William and Mary, Anna Gloria, Four Georges, William and Victoria; Edward seven next, and then George the fifth in 1910; Ned the eighth soon abdicated Then George the sixth was coronated; After which Elizabeth And that's the end until her death.
- –Wikipedia, “Mnemonic verses of monarchs in England”
The little book from Special Collections that I’m sharing today is Marmaduke Multiply’s Merry Method of Making Minor Mathematicians of 1841. We have a facsimile of the work, which was a favorite among nineteenth-century schoolchildren for memorizing their numbers.
Originally published in 1816 and 1817, the book was largely popular in the UK, but it spread to the US toward the later half of the nineteenth century. The book has funny little woodcuts depicting various scenes and then a rhyming verse that helps the reader remember their times tables. Here are a few examples:
Some of the most beautiful woodcut work appears on the borders. Here is close up of the corner piece on that last one:
Finally, my favorite page shows a child holding a book just like the one the image appears in! It also mentions the bookshop that sold Marmaduke Multiply’s Merry Method of Making Minor Mathematicians, which happened to be financially linked to the publishing house that produced the book (talk about savvy marketing!):
What rhymes do you remember from childhood?
It isn’t every day we digitize a 17th-century book about pirates. A few months ago, a colleague at the University of South Florida (USF) Libraries asked if we would be able to digitize our copy of Bucaniers of America, or, a true account of the most remarkable assaults committed of late years upon the coasts of the West Indies: by the bucaniers, of Jamaica and Tortuga, both English and French : wherein are contained more especially, the unparallel’d exploits of Sir Henry Morgan, our English Jamaican hero, who sacked Puerto Rico, burnt Panama, &c. (we just don’t title books like that anymore do we?). We were happy to oblige and also excited about why USF wanted a digital copy.
They were working with The Tampa Bay History Center on a new exhibit, Treasure Seekers: Conquistadors, Pirates & Shipwrecks and while USF was providing their copy of the book for the physical exhibit, they also wanted to be able to provide access to a digital copy as well. Due to the age and binding of the volume, it was a tricky digitization project but we persevered in the end! You too can now take a look at this fascinating volume chronicling the exploits of the buccaneers that ruled the waters of the Caribbean in the 1600s which includes the very famous Captain Morgan.
Recently, while engaging in a record survey project involving the Claude Pepper papers, I discovered Pepper’s influential work in lowering hearing aid costs to improve affordability and strengthen precise hearing loss screenings among seniors.
Senator Claude Pepper was perhaps the first politician to grasp the burdens of older Americans owning hearing aids. In fact, many people that were 65 and older during his congressional service either couldn’t afford hearing aids, because their insurance didn’t cover the cost, or they were exposed to fraudulent tactics to purchase them. As sellers created the illusion that hearing aids could either physically cure hearing loss or prosthetically correct hearing loss to a state of normalcy. And, in some cases, older adults fell victim to purchasing two hearing aids for both ears when only one was necessary due to a faulty diagnosis. As a result, Claude Pepper took great pride in building awareness about hearing aids and affordability by introducing the H.R. 646 Bill on January 15, 1979, to propose a supplementary medical insurance program to aid in covering hearing aid costs and safeguard consumer abuse. The bill also pushed for hearing aid manufacturers to advertise that hearing aids could not cure or impede hearing impairments. The bill demanded that the Food and Drug Administration mandate the requirement of an audiologist examination before purchasing hearing aids under the Medicare program to secure accurate treatment. Senator Pepper fought hard for this great cause, even though Congress later decided to reject the bill.
If you would like to learn more about Claude Pepper’s work regarding hearing aid legislation, please visit the Claude Pepper Library & Museum. Materials are available for researchers and can be discovered online through the collection’s finding aid.
The following blog post was written by Special Collections & Archives staff member April Martin.
Literature with functional qualities such as pull tabs or pop-ups are often considered children’s entertainment. However, paper products with mechanical elements were originally created as tools used by adults. Religious calendars, calculation tools, and navigational aids were found in the form of a volvelle. This was a circular chart housing a rotating disc that exposed information as it was turned. Volvelles were invented during the 13th century by Matthew Paris, an English historian, artist, and Benedictine monk. De Corporis Humani Fabrica Lirbri Septem (1543), a human anatomy book, pioneered the next form of paper engineering. Andreas Vesalius designed the textbook incorporating flaps and sleeves to produce a sense of depth necessary to display accurate anatomical placement of bones, muscles, and organs.
In the late 18th century illustrated books began being printed merely for pleasure reading. The History of Little Fanny (1810) provided a new form of entertainment as the first paper-doll book with movable paper clothes. The end of the 19th century is considered to be The Golden Age of Movable Books. During this time Lothar Meggendorfer of Munich, Germany led the industry in innovative paper engineering techniques. His work introduced a single pull tab that created multiple life-like movements. Unfortunately, during World War I many German production facilities were destroyed and the demand for novelty books decreased.
International Circus, an adaption of an 1887 antique pop-up book by Lothar Meggendorfer
After a fifty year hiatus, movable books made a return. The Bookano Series, published by Giraud in the mid 1900s, produced three-dimensional structures that stood up as the page opened. Previously known as “spring ups,” the Blue Ribbon Press soon coined this kind of book “pop-up.”
The Dwindling Party by Edward Gorey with three-dimensional structures from varying perspectives.
Caldecott Medal winner Paul O. Zelinsky created one of today’s most complex movable books, Knick-Knack Paddywhack (2003). The Illustrator and his engineering partner, Andrew Baron, included over 200 moving parts. Another Zelinsky classic, Wheels on the Bus, featured turning wheels, pivoting tabs, pull tabs, and flaps. Watch the clip below to see it in action.
Pop-up and movable books are still the products of inspired artists with an ability to teach. There is no age limit to the enjoyment of a well engineered moveable book. Adults can appreciate the meticulously constructed pages while children feed their imaginations. Paper engineering will likely remain a source of creativity and entertainment in years to come due to its endless possibilities.
Keepsake Carousel is a dimensional reproduction of antique art by Ernest Nister. The dual photo is created with interwoven discs maneuvered by a ribbon pull tab.
All of the books featured in today’s post come from the Marsha Gontarski Children’s Literature Collection, which can be accessed at the FSU Special Collections & Archives Research Center.