American Archives Month 2020 Recap

FSU Special Collections & Archives celebrated American Archives Month throughout the month of October by hosting events and sharing interesting items from our collection.

We kicked off the month with a takeover of FSU Libraries social media on October 7th for “Ask an Archivist Day.” FSU SCA staff answered questions on Instagram about how to organize and store family items, what the oldest item in our collection is, questions about FSU’s history, how to become an archivist, and more! The entire takeover is available as a highlight titled “Ask Archivists” on the FSU Libraries Instagram. On Twitter, staff engaged with other institutions participating in #AskAnArchivist by sharing interesting items from our collection and talking about what we do. All of the threads are available on the FSU Libraries Twitter page.

Here on the blog we shared a variety of posts related to our archival work in special collections.

Slides from “Archive of Me” by Kacee R.

Thanks for celebrating American Archives Month 2020 with everyone at

FSU Special Collections & Archives!

“Archive of Me” by Jennifer F.

This post is the second part of our “Archive of Me” series for American Archives Month. Earlier this month Kacee kicked us off with a post about her collections of slides inherited from her grandmother. Below, I will be talking about a few of the things that have ended up in my own personal archive.

Perhaps rather odd for an archivist, I don’t tend to hang onto a whole lot of stuff. I have a box for administrative papers, and then the one pictured above for more personal items. It is both super archival and super organized, as you can see. I suppose I should be rather ashamed that I haven’t upgraded to an archival box and other acid free materials yet! This box is a mix of letters, cards, and small keepsake items that have made it through several moves and several purges or decluttering projects.

A paper heart, handmade from linen for my papermaking class in grad school.
A paper heart, handmade from linen for my papermaking class in grad school.
My number from the very first 5k I ever ran.
My number from the very first 5k I ever ran.
A ticket from the 2012 football National Championship.
A ticket from the 2012 football National Championship.

I picked the items above in particular to show the variety of materials I have held on to over the years. Why have I held on to them? I think that all of these items represent accomplishment to me in some way. Immersing myself in a craft like papermaking, pushing myself to do something I never thought I would be able to like a 5k. Even the ticket represents traveling to a new place for a new experience – a great one, at that. Bottom line, these all have incredible sentimental value to me, and I expect I’ll keep them around for a long time to come.

What about you? What would you put in your own personal archive? Comment down below to let us know!

Slow and Steady

Progress is slow, but steady. I’m happy to say that in the time that I started this blog series, active steps have definitely been taken towards working on diversity and inclusion in FSU Special Collections & Archives discovery tools.

Gay Farm Workers in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador. (Click the image to go to our digital library!)

The main projects that we are working on right now are:

  • The Conscious Editing Initiative 
  • The Inclusive Research Services Task Force
  • LGBTQ+ Resource Guide

The Conscious Editing Initiative is focusing on systematically reviewing our catalog and examining the language used to describe different peoples. The goal of this work is to make sure that these stories are both discoverable and accurate in labeling so that they may be more accessible to people looking for them. With this we are also able to accurately assess how diverse the stacks themselves truly are and determine what gaps are in our collections and the best ways to either fill those gaps or find resources that we may direct people towards.

The Inclusive Research Services Task Force is a recently formed group that charged with analyzing our internal structure and finding ways we can improve, specifically as they relate to public services. They are rewriting policies in order to ensure that they reflect the needs of the diverse student body that populates FSU, as well as rethinking onboarding training and ways to ensure the faculty and staff are meeting Florida State’s standard of dynamic inclusiveness.

Florida Flambeau, June 28, 1979. (Click the image to go to our digital library!)

The LGBTQ+ Resource guide will be an online site that anyone will have access to. This guide was created in order to provide self education and on-campus resources about/for LGBTQ+ identities. The guide will include pronoun etiquette, do’s and don’ts, queer and trans histories, terminology, and other resources in order to make self education easier for those who may not be informed about LGBTQ+ topics. It will also include templates for students to communicate about their identities, resources on campus, and even links to faculty that are safezone allies.

Overall, there is definitely progress. It’s great to see these topics discussed more within the library, but it’s even better to see the change happen. I’m very excited and hopeful about the direction FSU SCA is going in with regards to diversity and inclusion. I hope we sustain this momentum!

FSU Special Collections & Archives Presents: The Great Rare Books Bake Off

With the holiday season fast approaching, the FSU Special Collections & Archives division is challenging the FSU community (and beyond!) to try a recipe from our collection of rare books, manuscripts, and heritage materials. The FSU Special Collections & Archives Great Rare Books Bake Off will take place the entire month of November and consist of weekly themes correlating to different courses of a meal. Throughout the month, SCA staff are inviting the community to try the recipes and post their results to social media utilizing the hashtags #thegreatrarebooksbakeoff and #fsuspecialcollections.


FSU Special Collections & Archives has drawn inspiration from the inaugural Great Rare Books Bake Off of July 2020 originated by the special collections libraries and archives of Monash University and Penn State University.

How to participate:

  1. Choose a recipe from our selections posted weekly
  2. Attempt the recipe
  3. Take a picture and post it to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtags #thegreatrarebooksbakeoff and #fsuspecialcollections

Recipes from the collection will be posted Monday each week. SCA staff will post their successes (or failures) as well as highlight posts shared on social media.

Cooking resources available in FSU Special Collections & Archives

A portion of the SCA cookbook collection is available in the Cookbooks and Herbals collection in the FSU digital library. An interest in cookbooks and household management is a legacy from FSU’s earliest years as a women’s college. The oldest book in our cookbook collection is from 1622 Venice.

A sample of cookbooks available in the digital library

  1. All about cookery: a collection of practical recipes arranged in alphabetical order By Isabella Beeton (1890)
  2. The queen-like closet, or, Rich cabinet By Hannah Wooley (1675)
  3. The book of household management By Isabella Beeton (1861)
  4. A collection of recipes for the use of special diet kitchens in military hospitals By Annie Wittenmyer (1864)
  5. Housekeeping in the blue grass: A new and practical cookbook: containing nearly a thousand recipes …By the Presbyterian Church Missionary Society of Paris Kentucky (1879)
  6. The art of cookery made plain and easy By Hannah Glasse (1751)

Hand-copied recipes, as well as menus and other ephemera from social gatherings, events, and restaurants can be found in the scrapbook collection of FSU Heritage & University Archives.

Lemon Tart

In honor of the recipes shared for the bake off between Penn State and Monash University, I tried Penn State’s recipe for a lemon tart. The recipe is originally from a handwritten cookbook of British recipes compiled between 1770 and 1846.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This recipe is delicious! The crust is flaky and the filling is tart and not overly sweet. -Kristin Hagaman

Our next post will be November 2nd, sharing recipes for cocktails and mocktails. We look forward to cooking with you!


October is coming to an end pretty soon and the National Election on November 3rd is approaching fast! The University has an important resource, FSU Votes, that may come in handy before casting a ballot. There, you can learn more about obtaining a sample ballot, tracking a mail-in ballot, safety precautions for in-person voting, your local voting site, and much more. With Noles to the Polls, students, faculty, and staff will be able to take shuttles from Traditions Parking Garage, the College of Medicine, and University Center A to early voting locations until October 30th. Make sure to vote!

Women at a voting table.
Voting Scene, Victoria J. Lewis Scrapbook, 1940-1944, Special Collections & Archives, Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee, Florida. Purl:

Sun City

Recently, we digitized the Sun City Development and Motion Picture Studio Plat Map Sheets for use in a class which led me to look into…what are these exactly? I uncovered a fascinating story of the brother of Cleveland railroad barons and a Georgia inventor who, a decade apart, tried to bring Hollywood to Florida.

One of the maps of Sun City. See original object.

During the 1920s, Florida experienced a land boom. Florida’s population was growing four times faster than any other state, spurred by the abolition of income and inheritance taxes and an active road-building program. Sun City, original name Ross, was located near present-day Ruskin, in Hillsborough County, and was one of many boom towns at the time in the state.

Herbert C. Van Swearingen, who made his living in real estate in Cleveland, Ohio, was the chief developer of Sun City. Herbert was the forgotten brother of two of Ohio’s biggest railroad barons, Oris and Mantis Van Swearingen. Sun City was his attempt to make a name for himself outside of his brothers’ shadows. The 500-acre Sun City Motion Picture Studio was constructed in late 1925 and built in the Spanish-Moor style with business offices, a projection room, a carpentry room, and 20 dressing rooms. Unlike any other studio, it offered a visitors gallery where Sun City residents and tourists could watch motion picture stars work. Initially, Sun City was successful. Land sales hit $2 million. The emerging city soon had a small number of residences as well as a school, hotel, theater, church, city hall, and power plant. Two short movies were filmed in the state-of-the-art studio.

However, by early 1926, the real estate speculation bubble in the state burst. Also, per usual in Florida, a hurricane hit, creating damage that further drove away seasonal visitors and tourism from the city. Land sales dried up, and Sun City Holding Co. fell into debt and was dissolved. Herbert filed for bankruptcy and returned to his family in Cleveland. Herbert’s brothers helped cover his losses and persuaded Herbert to retire from business. On July 4, 1932, all of Sun City was auctioned at the Hillsborough County Courthouse. Orlando businessman W.W. Staplen bought the land and dismantled the movie studio. He sold the bricks for $1,500. What was left quickly became a ghost town.

In the late 1930s, the next person tried to entice Hollywood to what was left of Sun City. J.T. Fleming, a developer and inventor from Georgia who went broke during the land boom in Florida and lost everything except 500 acres in southern Hillsborough County, bought special masters deeds to Sun City for $100. Fleming believed that the land would be worth millions as a moviemaking destination and resurrected the idea of a city where filmmakers and actors would live among regular residents. However, Fleming became increasingly involved in legal battles and this second try at an East Coast Hollywood never got off the ground. After years of continuous legal challenges, Fleming was ruled insane in 1953, incarcerated for 19 months, and finally had his rights restored by a Fulton County (GA) court. When Fleming died in January 1968, Hillsborough County reclaimed his 500 acres of land near present-day Ruskin for unpaid taxes.

Today, the land that Sun City once stood on is largely a mobile home park situated among industrial sites, fish farms, orchards, and scrapyards. The power plant that was built still stands on Route 41 and if you compare Google Maps to the original maps in our collection, you’ll see the names of movie stars are still on the roads. In fact, side by side, you see that where a movie studio once stood, there is simply woods.

Comparison of the 1925 urban plan for Sun City with an image from Google Maps showing Ruskin, Florida today


Raponi, Richard. Herbert C. Van Sweringen House, Cleveland Historical app.

Sun City,,

Sun City Development and Motion Picture Studio Plat Map Sheets, Special Collections & Archives, Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee, Florida. Accessed October 16, 2020.

“Archive of Me” by Kacee R.

During this American Archives Month, here at Special Collections & Archives we have been having discussions about items that would go in our personal collections- any documents, images, or objects we’ve held on to for a long time that we would want future archivists to keep in our collection.

This was a difficult question for me because I am an avid collector- of coins, VHS tapes, vinyl records, and vintage cameras, to name a few. I decided to turn to items I’ve acquired related to my family. 

This is the box my grandmother kept everything in. Pictured on the right are some of the slides and both handheld slide viewers.

This little box of film slides is one of the few of my grandmother’s belongings that stayed in the family. When I received the box, it was filled to the brim with film slides in no particular order. Also inside the box were two handheld slide viewers.

This is what it looks like inside the slide viewers. The one on the left is actually a keychain with an image glued into it. The larger slide viewer, on the right, lets you insert different slides.

In order to ensure the longevity of the slides, I transferred them to acid-free slide protectors. Despite this, I still kept the box and baggies she used to organize the slides and everything is stored together.

I would definitely want this object to be included in my archive. It speaks volumes about my grandmother’s tendency to record and store information. It also serves as a window into my own family, as well as into a time long gone.

Is there anything you know you would want archivists to keep in your Archive of You? Leave a comment and let us know!

Maggie Kuhn, Claude Pepper and the Repeal of Mandatory Retirement

“Some persons dodder at 30, others at 80, and some pass through life without “doddering” at all. Our concern should be with competency, not age, race, sex or religion” – Representative Claude Pepper, 1986

There was a time for many professions in the United States when a person’s 65th birthday signaled the end of their working days. During the 1960’s and 70’s, approximately 40 to 50% of the American workforce were covered by compulsory retirement laws. These laws were amended in 1978 and raised the age to 70, but in February of 1986, legislation was introduced by Claude Pepper (who was 86 at the time) to ensure these policies would no longer endure in the United States. This weekend marked the 34th anniversary of the passage of the Age Discrimination in Employment Amendments. The amendments removed, with very few exceptions, the previously mandated retirement age allowing the majority of Americans to work as long in their chosen career as they were able to.

Maggie Kuhn and Claude Pepper speaking with each other and co-hosts Hugh Downs (left) and Frank Blair (far left) on the television show “Over Easy” in September of 1980. The discussion was titled “Growing Older: The Next 20 Years.”

From the political side of the aisle, Pepper was considered by many to be a champion of the rights of elder Americans. Maggie Kuhn, the founder of the Gray Panthers, was also a champion for those same Americans. It was due in no small part to her lobbying efforts that the retirement age amendments of 1978 were successfully passed. She believed that young and old adults should be integrated in social justice movements, often underscoring this by saying “Every one of us is growing older.” In the 1970’s and 80’s it was not uncommon to see Pepper and Kuhn working together to promote the legislation and ideals that worked toward this integration.

A letter from Mr. & Mrs. Julius Gordon of Miami, Florida to Rep. Pepper. In it, Mrs. Gordon details her following of Pepper and Kuhn in their efforts for elder Americans.

Speaking a few days after the amendments were signed into law on October 31st, Claude Pepper remarked that “this bill means that for millions of elderly Americans, the blessings of a 70th birthday will not become a death sentence against their working lives. This new las is an important step in guaranteeing the elderly of this nation a fundamental civil right – the right to work as long as they are willing and able.”

A cartoon from the 1980’s by artist Jerry Barrett. Pepper was often depicted as a champion of the elderly in popular media.

Found in the Archives: The Capitol March for the Equal Rights Amendment in Tallahassee

October is American Archives Month! As an institution that works alongside and documents the local community, I wanted to highlight two collections housed in the Claude Pepper Library that illustrate local political action in our historic capitol: The National Organization of Women, Tallahassee Chapter Records and the League of Women Voters, Tallahassee Chapter Records.

The beginning of the 1980s marked a decisive moment in American Politics: the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). This amendment guaranteed that the United States and individual States would not deny or abridge the equality of rights based on sex. While Alice Paul authored the first form of this amendment in 1923, it would not be until March 22, 1972 that both the Senate and House of Representatives introduced the amendment and set the stage for future state ratifications. The National Organization of Women (NOW) led advocacy and activism efforts to convince legislatures to ratify the amendment throughout the 1970s. It fell short of the necessary number by the 1979 deadline. 

Flyer with general information about the Equal Rights Amendment Capitol March in Tallahassee on June 8, 1982.
Capital March for ERA Flyer, June 6, 1982, National Organization of Women, Tallahassee Chapter Records, Box 16, Folder 6, Florida State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives, Tallahassee, Florida.

After a successful march organized by NOW in Washington D.C., congress extended the deadline to June 30, 1982. However, the amendment was three states shy of the thirty-eight required that year. Florida was one of fifteen states that had not yet ratified the amendment. The local Tallahassee chapter of NOW organized a march on the unratified Florida capitol to take place on June 8, several weeks before the new deadline. 

Alongside NOW, the League of Women Voters (LOWV) Tallahassee Chapter, faculty from FSU and FAMU, and a breadth of other local organizations joined the march where some might have worn buttons like the ones below. This demonstration was a final push for ERA supporters to convince the Florida legislature to ratify the amendment. While the Florida House of Representatives passed the measure, the senate defeated it. Ultimately, the 1982 deadline passed without the needed ratifications. 

Three Equal Rights Amendment buttons.
ERA buttons, National Organization of Women, Tallahassee Chapter Records, Box 35, Florida State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives, Tallahassee, Florida.

Despite defeat in 1982, to this day activists push to gain the three necessary states for the ERA’s ratification. The ERA and the local chapters of NOW and LOWV are just one example of American politics documented in Special Collections & Archives. Portions of the local chapter records for both NOW and LOWV are available remotely in the Digital Library.

While direct access to physical collections is unavailable at this time due to Covid-19, we hope to resume in-person research when it is safe to do so, and Special Collections & Archives is still available to assist you remotely with research and instruction. Please get in touch with us via email at: For a full list of our remote services, please visit our services page.


Alice Paul Institute, The Equal Rights Amendment: A Brief History , “Resources,” Equal Rights Amendment, 2018,

Capital March for ERA Flyer, June 6, 1982, National Organization of Women Tallahassee Chapter Records, Box 16, Folder 6, Florida State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives, Tallahassee, Florida.

ERA buttons, National Organization of Women Tallahassee Chapter Records, Box 35, Florida State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives, Tallahassee, Florida.

Participant sign-up sheet, National Organization of Women Tallahassee Chapter Records, Box 16, Folder 6, Florida State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives, Tallahassee, Florida.

Voter: League of Women Voters of Tallahassee, Florida, June, 1982, League of Women Voters, Tallahassee Chapter Records, Box 10, Folder 2, Florida State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives, Tallahassee, Florida.

Archival Profile: The Life and Times of a Preservation Librarian

In honor of American Archives Month, get to know our Preservation Librarian, Hannah Davis!

Hannah Davis,
Preservation Librarian

Hannah Davis first started working for Special Collections & Archives at FSU in 2013 as a graduate assistant, pursuing a Master’s degree in Library and Information Studies. Over the next five years years, she would hold other titles like Heritage & University Archives Assistant and Research Services Coordinator. But in January of 2018, Hannah was hired as Preservation Librarian, a faculty role that was newly re-vitalized after being vacant for several years. Within her first year on the job, Hannah had prepped our collections for hurricane Michael and begun to coordinate a move of many thousands of linear feet of collections material from one storage site to another. The large projects have only continued since then, often involving hefty doses of mold or other preservation concerns.

But what exactly does a preservation librarian do? What has Hannah’s experience been on the job? Last week I took some time to interview Hannah to get more insight. Keep scrolling to learn more!

Tell us who you are, your title, and what work you do with FSU Special Collections and Archives?

My name is Hannah Wiatt Davis and I am the Preservation Librarian with SCA. I oversee the preservation activities in SCA, which includes collections management, environmental monitoring, and working with various Library entities to keep SCA materials safe in perpetuity.

How did you first get interested in archives?

I had a really transformative experience while visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame when I was in high school. I’ve never been a particularly big country music fan, but the museum was so interesting and I started to put together the pieces of how archives and museums connect people with history they don’t even know to ask about. The experience stuck in the back of my mind throughout college and after graduation, growing each day, until one morning I woke up and said: “I think I want to be an archivist.”

Below are some photos Hannah took from that fateful trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame:

What common misunderstandings about your work would you like to dispel?

One thing I try to impress on new visitors to Special Collections is that these materials are here for their use, whatever the use may be. While my job as Preservation Librarian requires me to create and enforce policies that ensure the safety of SCA’s materials, I also uphold the ethics of our profession which includes providing equitable access to everyone. So, if someone comes in to the reading room and asks if they can see the oldest thing in SCA, my response is “absolutely.”

Pictured here, Hannah is working on rehousing our collection of Papyrus fragments.

What’s your favorite item or collection of items in FSU SCA? Why?

Hands down, the Frances Isaac Letters. It’s a collection of letters from an FSCW student during WWII. I even wrote a blog post about them long ago. This collection has everything: love, drama, vintage stationery.

What is your craziest preservation experience?

I was working with a campus department to assess the inventory of a room full of 16mm film reels – I’m talking floor to ceiling shelving full of film canisters. A majority of the films exhibited vinegar syndrome, a process where the chemicals in the film start to break down. When this type of degradation happens, the film starts to put off a vinegar smell, as well as starts to shrink and become brittle. The whole room reeked as if it were full of pickles. A lot of the film was suffering from other preservation problems, like sticky shed and mold. It was just a gross process all around.

An example of one of the reels Hannah assessed.

What is the most relatable preservation meme you have seen recently?

I don’t know if I’d call it a meme, but there was an exchange on Twitter about this incredibly gross and beyond-preservation film reel… you just have to see it.

More mold! Here, Hannah is using a vacuum to safely remove mold spores.

A huge thank you to Hannah for participating in this interview for American Archives Month. Have any more questions for Hannah or about archives in general? Comment them down below!

%d bloggers like this: