In the early 1970’s the United States was in the midst of an energy crisis. Massive oil shortages and high prices made it clear that alternative ideas for energy production were needed and solar power was a clear front runner. The origins of the solar cell in the United States date back to inventor Charles Fritz in the 1880’s, and the first attempts at harvesting solar energy for homes, to the late 1930’s. In 1974, the State of Florida put it’s name in the ring to become the host of the National Solar Energy Research Institute.
With potential build sites in Miami and Cape Canaveral, the latter possessing the added benefit of proximity to NASA, the Florida Solar Energy Task Force, led by Robert Nabors and endorsed by Representative Pepper, felt confident. The state made it to the final rounds of the search before the final location of Golden, Colorado was settled upon, which would open in 1977. Around this same time however (1975), the Florida Solar Energy Center was established at the University of Central Florida. The Claude Pepper Papers contain a wealth of information on Florida’s efforts in the solar energy arena from the onset of the energy crisis, to the late 1980’s.
Earlier this year, “Tallahassee Solar II”, a new solar energy farm, began operating in Florida’s capitol city. Located near the Tallahassee International Airport, it provides electricity for more than 9,500 homes in the Leon County area. With the steady gains that the State of Florida continues to make in the area of solar energy expansion, it gets closer to fully realizing its nickname, “the Sunshine State.”
In the Summer of 1987, Representative Claude Pepper introduced House Resolution 2654. In it a request was made to establish a 12-member committee charged with providing recommendations to Congress for a comprehensive health care program for all Americans. In October of 1988, Pepper was appointed as the chairperson of the United States Bipartisan Commission on Comprehensive Health Care. The committee’s findings indicated that the majority of Americans were prohibited at some level from obtaining adequate health care due to the high costs associated with medical treatment, particularly for long-term and catastrophic illness.
Throughout his career, Pepper was uniquely devoted to the idea of comprehensive health care coverage. In 1937, during his first term as Senator, he co-authored legislation establishing the National Cancer Institute. Throughout the remainder of his career, he was instrumental in establishing an additional thirteen National Institutes of Health. Beginning in 1946, Pepper began efforts to muster support for the Wagner-Murray-Dingell Bill. A proposal to institute a national health care and hospital system intended to ease the hardship that America’s health care system imposed on those least able to afford it, the bill failed to gain traction or support.
For the next thirty years, the possibility of a National Health Care system continued to remain on the forefront of Pepper’s agenda. His last legislative efforts began in 1987. After the Bipartisan Commission, Pepper and his colleagues in the House began to craft what would become the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988. The bill was designed to improve acute care benefits for the elderly and disabled, which was to be phased in from 1989 to 1993.The act was meant to expand Medicare benefits to include outpatient drugs and set a cap on out of pocket medical costs. It was the first bill to significantly expand Medicare benefits since the program’s inception. Although the bill passed easily with initial support, the House and Senate repealed it a year later in response to widespread criticism over projected government costs.
Senator Pepper died in May of 1989, not seeing his goal of a national health care system achieved. Today the work toward that goal continues, and if you are interested to learn more about the history and evolution of the path toward affordable and equitable health care coverage for all Americans, the Pepper Papers, and all of our political collections, are searchable online.
Claude Pepper speaking at the Aging Subcommittee on Health Maintenance and Long Term Care hearing. Claude Pepper Papers Photo B(1397)-01.
For this blog post, I am choosing to write this from a more candid place, in hopes that people understand why change in library description is necessary. My last post talked about How to Transition on 63 Cents a Day, showing how there are outdated terms referencing Lee Krist’s identity in the catalog record. Those terms are still in the catalog record. My first post discussed how there are 0 results when you search “LGBT.” There are still zero results in Special Collections and Archives for that search. I started these posts as a way to facilitate the conversation about white supremacy in library settings, and to create some tangible ways to start addressing them.
I was initially hired by Special Collections to update the artists’ book inventory, focusing on the labeling of printmaking techniques, themes, and identities to make them more accessible. One of the first books I ever worked on was How to Transition on 63 cents a Day. I remember updating the SCA spreadsheet of search terms with every term I could think of, the first one of them was LGBT. These terms have yet to make it into the catalog record. It feels frustrating to me because I have been doing this kind of work since my first day in Special Collections, but it seems progress moves at a glacier’s pace.
Meetings are important. I understand that! I just want tangible progress, and the ability to keep track of what’s been done in this effort. In a predominately white cisgender heterosexual career and institution, meetings can often feel performative rather than action-based. So much has been written about performative allyship in the workplace when it comes to racism, feminism, and anti-queer sentiment. A recent Fortune article discusses performative allyship in workspaces, where organizations are “condemning racism through broad gestures but enabling its effects.”
We all acknowledge that prejudice is bad. We all acknowledge that we want to “get better.” But you don’t “get better,” you DO BETTER. We haven’t uplifted the community that these problems have affected, so how can we say that we’re addressing them? One of the most important parts of creating change is recognizing that no person or institution is perfect. True allyship doesn’t lie in perfection (OR POLITENESS); it lies in the ability to accept critique and take accountability, which is what I hope we can do as a division and as a library. Next week is our first meeting about this initiative, and I want to make this about ACTION, to “light a proverbial fire.”
I’m asking my division colleagues to do this “Privilege Check Game” prior to the meeting. We’d love for you to play along, and to think of one way that you can make your work more inclusive. This can be as big or as small as you want.
Privilege Check Game: Start with 10 fingers!
Put down a finger if…
…you’ve ever been called a slur?
…you’ve ever had to see the same slur you were called in a catalog record?
…you’ve searched your identity (race, gender, sexuality, etc.) and no results came up?
…you’ve ever had someone (actively) not address you by your name or pronouns at work?
…you’ve ever had your identity “explained” to you by someone not of that identity?
…you’ve ever had your identity affect how people behaved around/treated you?
…you’ve ever been anxious about your job status due to federal/state law?
…you’ve ever not spoken out in a situation for fear that you might get in trouble/people will think you’re overreacting?
…you’ve ever gotten frustrated when people use gendered language (guys, dude, sir/ma’am)?
…you’ve ever felt unwelcome in professional/academic spaces?
… you’ve ever had to switch the way you present yourself in different settings (appearance, clothes/style, language/speech, name/pronouns, etc.)
McClure’s groundbreaking work transformed our understanding of the relationship of the poet/artist to nature. He helped pioneer our thinking on ecology and illuminated the connection between human expression and the expression of all living things. While often remembered for his poetry, McClure was also a playwright, essayist, and his performance collaborations defined a new way of bringing the audience to poetry. McClure’s Meat Science Essayswas a clarion call to liberation. His play,The Beard, rocked the comfortable sensibilities of the theater-going public, leading to censorship battles and boarded-up theaters. That play would go on to win an Obie for “Best Play” and “Best Director.” His performances with musicians Ray Manzarek from The Doors and the minimalist composer Terry Riley explored the bardic tradition and brought poetry to pop culture with relentless mastery.
Rothenberg’s personal papers and book collection document the network of artists and thinkers that comprised the Beat Generation and San Francisco Renaissance movements. We are fortunate to have McClure’s official publications in our book collections, but also personal items from McClure from Rothenberg’s association with him through the years.
Michael Rothenberg first encountered a copy of McClure’s Meat Science Essays when he was seventeen in Miami Beach. He recalls, “McClure’s work was a gateway to a greater understanding of the poet in the natural world. He gave me permission to express myself in a language that was indigenous to me. He offered a kind of thinking and concern that became my path. He blew my mind.” Then, something like ten years later, Rothenberg was
introduced to McClure at Rothenberg’s orchid and bromeliad nursery in Pacifica, California. They went hiking together, shared many lunches, and almost instantly became very close friends. “I felt that we were kindred spirits,” Rothenberg remembers, “Everything that McClure had set out in his work was what I was looking for as a poet and as a mammal.”
Eventually, Rothenberg and McClure would travel to Florida together to read at the Miami Book Fair. During that trip, Rothenberg took McClure out on a tour of the Everglades, “to show him the nature that I grew up with,” Rothenberg says. It was there that McClure signed the old, tattered copy of Meat Science Essays that Rothenberg read when he was seventeen, the book that opened Rothenberg’s eyes to ecology-based writing.
McClure had a distinct writing style, and Rothenberg describes it like this: “McClure’s writing is cosmic. Open, romantic, haiku-ish, abstract, specific, concrete, and light-filled. You can hear the roar of lions, and the throbbing of a living cell in each word and breath he speaks.”
“I will miss him dearly,” Rothenberg said, “but I know that his work will inform and enlighten generations to come.”
On March 22, 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment was passed by the US Senate and sent to the states for ratification. The central idea behind the amendment is simple: all American citizens, regardless of gender, have equal rights before the law. Almost fifty years later, the amendment has still not passed, as only 35 of the 38 states necessary ratified the amendment. In 1923, the initial version of the Equal Rights Amendment was brought before the United States Congress by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman. On January 21, 1943, Senator Claude Pepper spoke before the 78th Congress on behalf of the E.R.A:
“…I feel, therefore, that the trend toward women enjoying equal rights has progressed until today they are entitled to enjoy all rights equally with all human beings, and that sex is not a sufficient line of demarcation for different rights. There may be instances where there would be a difference in duties, but that will depend upon the ability of the person or persons affected to perform the obligation required, not to their rights equally to share and to enjoy the benefits which are derived from citizenship and equality due to all.
When the Declaration of Independence was written, and those moving words that “all men are created equal” were incorporated therein, to lift the hopes and the hearts of the oppressed everywhere in the world. I do not believe that Thomas Jefferson was thinking only of mankind which happened to be masculine in sex. I think he spoke about human beings, and therefore that it is in accordance with the principles of the Declaration of Independence to say that women are born equal with men in the rights of citizenship and civil prerogatives.
I hope, therefore, that this may be the last hurdle which it will be necessary to surmount; that the race to bring equality, complete freedom, independence, and liberty for women shall at long last be won.” – Claude Pepper Papers MSS 1979-01 S. 303A B. 2 F. 8
The hurdles unfortunately continue. Since the introduction of the E.R.A, Senator Pepper’s speech, and the passage of the amendment in the Senate in March of 1972, individuals, and civic action groups such as the National Organization for Women, and the League of Women Voters, and many others have continued to champion the E.R.A.
Letter writing campaigns, marches and public awareness raising activities for the E.R.A. are well documented in the Tallahassee N.O.W. and Tallahassee League of Women Voters chapter records. The digitized newsletters of each organization provide week to week updates on the key developments with the E.R.A during the 1970s and 1980s. On January 15, 2020, Virginia’s General Assembly ratified the amendment, moving the conversation forward once more. While the future remains deeply uncertain, researchers can look to the past for inspiration.
Special Collections here at FSU holds a large collection of books on botany and herbal medicine that go as far back as the 16th century. As much as I would love to scour through the many many herbal encyclopedia we hold, I found myself more interested in the different types of flowers and plants collected and depicted through either art or scientific study that can be found in the archives.
Here is Special Collections, we have the five volumes of a collection that holds some of the most beautiful prints of flowers created in the early 1900s. This collection, titled North American Wild Flowers, includes some 400 plates illustrated by American artist and naturalist Mary Vaux Walcott and was first published in 1925 by the Smithsonian Institute.
What’s most interesting about this collection is not the images themselves, but the sweet story of how they came to be. Walcott first took interest in watercolor painting after graduating from Friends Select School, a Quaker college preparatory school. She painted wildflowers she came upon during family trips with her brother who would study and record glacier flow in drawings and photographs as part of his mineralogical studies.
This was only the start for Mary Walcott. She would go on to marry Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Charles Doolittle Walcott at the age of 54. As she traveled with her husband for his paleontology research in the Rockies and throughout Canada, Mary made watercolor illustrations of wildflowers which can now be seen in the five-volume collection held in Special Collections & Archives.
During a 10 year period, Mary would spend somewhere between three and four months in the Canadian Rockies, finding and studying the finest specimens. More often then not, these illustrations were created under “trying conditions” such as on a mountain side of high pass, and at times when a fire was necessary to warm her numb fingers and body. Despite these conditions and others, such as diffused lighting and subjects which had a lifespan seemingly too short for creating art from them, the fruits of Walcott’s labor can be seen in these immortalized specimens.
Each box volume in this collection consists of a slipcase which holds a book listing each flower, describing them in detail, and a plate of each flower beautifully detailed by Walcott’s hand.
The North American Wild Flowers Collection, can be referenced here in the library catalog. For more information please call or visit Special Collections & Archives.
Coming from a strictly public library background, at first the world of Special Collections felt just as foreign and mysterious to me as I’m sure it does to many people. Luckily, as a graduate assistant in Special Collections & Archives, I’m in exactly the right position to learn more about it every day. While it might seem obvious why some books are special — they’re often very old, or very scarce, or both — archives are a bit more elusive. As the Manuscript Archivist explained to me, archives provide contextual primary source documents to help researchers understand the environment surrounding a person or event.
My first project as a graduate assistant involved the Gloria Jahoda Collection – or rather, collections. An author whose husband taught at Florida State University, Gloria Jahoda initially donated a portion of her personal notes and manuscripts to FSU Libraries forty years ago. Some donors might offer more material to the archives after the first gift; this can happen quickly or many years later. These new items are assessed to see if they fit within the scope of the initial donation and, in many cases, added to the same collection. Sometimes, though, this doesn’t happen. When I started working with her manuscripts, Jahoda’s work was spread across seven collections, all donated at different times. I was first tasked with looking over the materials to find a major theme that might unite them into a single collection. I divided the work into new series – like smaller chapters in a single book, series help organize a collection by grouping items together based on their original purpose. I then rearranged the materials, removed duplicate publications, relabeled folders, and copied unstable materials (like old newspaper articles) onto paper that wouldn’t discolor or deteriorate. As this was happening, I learned a lot about who Gloria Jahoda was.
She was born in Chicago and was very proud of the fact that her first poem was published at the age of four. She liked to write on overlooked areas of Florida, including Tallahassee, which she described as being “200 miles from anywhere else.” She photographed her cats. She enjoyed classical music, especially by the English composer Frederick Delius. Her book The Road to Samarkand chronicled Delius’s life, including his time spent managing an orange plantation in Florida. She was an elected registrar of the Creek Nation. She spoke about ecology and conservation. Gloria Jahoda was bold, witty, and passionate.
What’s left behind after her death in 1980 are her books and, now, the Gloria Jahoda Papers. Visitors to Special Collections can track the development of Jahoda’s works, learn about her personal interests, and laugh at the jokes in her letters. Jahoda’s books document an interesting time in Florida’s development, and I’m proud to say I contributed to preserving her work for future research.
Spring is in the air, the sun is out and that usually means it’s time to find a body of water to sit by and enjoy since we live in Florida. One of those places you could visit this spring and summer (or anytime really) would be the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park.
This Florida State Park is home to plenty of wildlife including alligators, deer, birds, and of course the majestic manatee. There are guided water boat tours and a spring for swimming where the water is always a nice, cool temperature. Find more information about this beautiful state park here.
The park is named Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, you might wonder, “who is Edward Ball?” According to the Florida State Parks website, he was a “financier” who “purchased the property in 1934 and developed it as an attraction focusing on wildlife preservation and the surrounding habitat.” The Lodge at Wakulla Springs was built in 1937 as a guest house on the 4,000 acres Ball purchased the same year. In the 1960s’ Ball donated land to Florida State University for a marine lab which is now the Edward Ball Marine Laboratory.
Now you could be wondering, “what does any of this have to do with Claude Pepper?” The former Florida Senator and Congressman Claude Pepper and Edward Ball were like the Cady Heron and Regina George of their time, publicly civil with one another, but deplored each other in reality. Pepper writes about his relationship with Ball in his autobiography, Pepper: Eyewitness To A Century.
Ed Ball was a financier who amassed a great amount of wealth and power due to his family connections. His brother-in-law Alfred I. duPont was one of the wealthiest men in the country in the early 20th century. After duPont’s death in 1935, Ball took over control of the duPont Trust and emerged as a wealthy political dominant force in Florida in the 1940s’. Ball never ran for political office himself, but backed and tried to defeat political candidates running for office. One of those candidates he tried to defeat in the 1944 Florida Senate election and eventually succeeded in defeating was Claude Pepper in the now infamous 1950 Florida Senate election.
The history of these two men is long and extensive and I encourage any reader of this blog entry to read more on the subject. A great place to start would be Tracy E. Danese’s book, Claude Pepper & Ed Ball: Politics, Purpose, and Power published by the University Press of Florida in 2000. These two men played a great role in shaping the political history and future of Florida. I hope this blog gave you a brief summary of their relationship and intrigued you to read more about it.
Everyone enters a field of work for one reason or another. For me, pursuing a Masters of Library and Information Studies began from a desire to be an archivist, a type of information professional that is largely underrated, misunderstood, or even unheard of by the public. The mystery regarding the profession drew me in initially. Popular culture depicts archives as dark and secluded repositories with strict access restrictions guarded by a gatekeeper, hesitant to divulge any of the archives’ secrets. Think of the less-than-helpful associate in the Jedi Archives who turns Obi-Wan away in Star Wars Episode II; she might as well have shushed him while she was at it!
The reality of archives is quite the opposite. In all of my experiences, archivists are more than happy to help you in your research and want to share the collections as much as possible with the public. That’s why they collect it all. In order to do so, however, they must establish order.
In a job where creating order out of disorder is a top priority, the profession tends to attract many an OCD history buff. There’s something viscerally satisfying about organizing a dusty old mess of papers into a neat collection of documents in acid-free folders, legibly labeled for ready accessibility.
Many steps go into creating this order, however. After gaining legal custody of the documents, the archivist has to “gain intellectual control,” which is a sophisticated way of saying “learn exactly what kind of stuff is in the collection.” In order to do this, one must comb through the contents, which could take a very long time depending on how many linear feet the collection is, and create an inventory. The collection I’ve been “gaining intellectual control” of is called the Douglas and Jeannette Windham Papers, which contains the papers and publications of Douglas and Jeannette Windham, a distinguished FSU alumni couple. I’ve listed the materials that are in the collection, including personal papers, correspondence, academic articles, photographs, and professional reports. Once intellectual control is established, I can work with the archivist to determine a plan for order and begin to folder the contents into acid-free folders. A.K.A. the fun part! The kind of fun that is on par with labeling the shelves of your pantry, or color-coding your closet. (Yes, this is how I live).
The ordering continues when the boxes are stored in the stacks which are kept under strict environmental regulations in order to best preserve the archival materials from accelerated deterioration. The last step of creating order in the archives is to write the online finding aid so potential researchers can get an understanding of what is in the collection. This helps the collections get used more, which is, after all, the whole point in the first place! And there you have it: archives de-mystified.
What do archivists do all day, anyway? Look at old photos? Dust yearbooks? Take papers from one file folder and put them in another?
Those are all true to some extent, but university archivists play more roles in their community than one might think. Take a look at some of the extraordinary events during an average week in FSU Special Collections and Archives:
Thursday, October 15:
Students from the ART5928 workshop “Creating Experiences” visit the Claude Pepper Museum. Their project this semester involves creating a public event that could be held in in a museum space. The students have designed a Claude Pepper Pajama Party event and social media campaign, and today they’re walking through their ideas with Pepper Library Manager Rob Rubero.
FSU Special Collections has always considered local history one of its collecting strengths. In an effort to deepen community connections and learn more about the Tallahassee music industry, Rory Grennan and Katie McCormick attend a public appearance by influential songwriter and producer George Clinton. Aside from smiles and photo opportunities, our archivists enjoy many conversations with Clinton’s family and associates about his work and his legacy.
Friday, October 16:
Today, the Special Collections Research Center reading room has the privilege of hosting the members of the Florida State University History Club. A dozen history undergraduates attend an informational presentation by Manuscript Archivist Rory Grennan and Rare Books Librarian Kat Hoarn. Presentations and instructional sessions for students, faculty, and the public are a core part of the Special Collections mission, and occur frequently at the beginning of the school year. History Club members are excited to see 4000 years of human history laid out in documents from our collections including cuneiform tablets, a page from a Bible printed by Gutenberg, and artist books from the 21st century.
Monday, October 19:
Monday morning, archivists Sandra Varry and Krystal Thomas visit the University Registrar’s office to consult on the preservation of student transcripts on microfilm. The filmed student records see heavy use, and unfortunately enough of the film has been worn down that some records are losing information. The group discusses modern strategies such as digitization to preserve these essential historical records that document a century of higher education.
Later, Sandra Varry and division staff prepare for a new exhibit opening today in the Special Collections Exhibit Room on the first floor of Strozier Library. “Mittan: A Retrospective” celebrates the work of photographer Barry Mittan, and documents student life at FSU in the 1960s and 1970s. The exhibit was curated by graduate assistant Britt Boler and runs through January 2016.
In the afternoon, Krystal Thomas carefully reviews and uploads recently-digitized cookbooks and herbals to the FSU Digital Library. The Digital Library features digitized versions of the highlights of our collections, as chosen by Special Collections staff and our users, and new content is added regularly by archives staff.
Tuesday, October 20:
Things They Don’t Teach You In Grad School #47: Water and vinegar makes an effective, non-abrasive cleaner for a headstone.
Former FSU faculty member Paul Dirac was a giant in the fields of mathematics and quantum mechanics, and his papers are a frequently-consulted resource by researchers at FSU Libraries. Since no members of the Dirac family remain in Tallahassee, it has become the unofficial duty of our library and archives staff to visit Dirac’s grave once a year and see that it is kept clean. October 20th is the anniversary of Dirac’s death, and seems an appropriate time to visit the site. Archivists Katie McCormick, Rory Grennan, and Krystal Thomas, accompanied by library Director of Development Susan Contente and a handful of Physics Department students, scrub the headstone and plant fresh flowers this afternoon.
Wednesday, October 21:
Early this morning, archives staff notice an uncharacteristic rise in temperature in the stacks. After confirming initial impressions with a few temperature readings, contact is quickly made with library facilities staff to take steps to correct an issue with the building’s HVAC systems. Constant environmental monitoring is an important part of preserving our collections, as paper, film, and other substrates are vulnerable to fluctuations in temperature and humidity. There’s no point to collecting items that can’t be made to last! You never know what someone might need next week…