The Florida State College for Women, in addition to being the predecessor institution of modern-day FSU, was once one of the largest all-female centers of higher learning in the United States. From 1905 to 1947, thousands of young women from the American South attended and graduated from FSCW. These women were, generally, from affluent Southern families and were, exclusively, White. The liberal arts and professional education curricula offered by FSCW appealed to many of the ideals of the so-called “Progressive Era” of United States history, but also existed in tandem with the intense racial oppression and inequalities found throughout the post-Reconstruction South. The institution was also steeped in highly-regulated gender roles that ascribed White women a narrow set of areas in which they could study and explore professional lives beyond being wives, mothers, and “Southern belles.” As noted by the scholar Shira Birnbaum, FSCW offered new educational opportunities for women and “credentialed white women [sic] for participation in modern life” but did so “inside repressive Southern conventions of female subordination and racism” (p. 239).
This complex lattice of gendered and racial hierarchies undergirded the formation and development of FSCW, its student population, and the kinds of scholarship its students undertook. The historical records associated with FSCW, in particular the scholarly publications produced by its students, offer us a window into this world where certain classes of White women were given limited agency to pursue academic and professional development within a deeply segregated, patriarchal society.
In an effort to make this rich history more accessible to researchers, instructors, and students, FSU Libraries has begun the process of digitizing and electronically publishing theses and other academic writing produced by FSCW students. These fragile, original documents are currently held by Heritage & University Archives, and this effort is the first comprehensive, cross-departmental initiative to provide unprecedented digital access to these materials via FSU’s institutional repository, Diginole.
While progress on this project (and many others across the University) has been hampered by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, FSU Libraries has completed the first batch of 55 theses produced by FSCW students, written between 1908 to 1935. You can access these materials directly here and can sort by date to see this particular set of theses. These represent a broad array of subjects and research areas, some which do suggest deviations from the restrictive academic environment described by Birnbaum. Topics explored range from analyses of Renaissance poets to studies in entomology to sociological investigations of racial relations in early 20th century Florida. Through these works, we are offered a tremendous amount of insight into both the history of FSU as an educational institution and the greater cultural and societal roles of women in the American South. Below are a few highlights and excerpts from this initial batch of theses. We invite you to explore this fascinating collection and look forward to making more of these historic records available to all.
The history of Florida State University and its predecessor institutions is ubiquitous with numerous and varied outlets for student expression. Student-run publications have been at the heart of student expression on campus since 1906, when Florida State College for Women students began Talisman. TheTalismanwas the first literary magazine published by an institution of higher learning in Florida (A Booklover’s Guide to Florida by Kevin McCarthy, 1992). In 1914, publishing of Talisman ceased publishing to make way for Florida Flambeau, a student-run newspaper published weekly. According to the first issue of the Flambeau, too much was happening on campus for news to only circulate on a quarterly basis, as it did with the Talisman.
In the early 20th century, literary magazines were influential across colleges and universities in the United States. They served as a means to not only showcase the literacy and expressiveness of students, but also to share news as to the happenings on campus. In 1926 work began on establishing a new college magazine for Florida State College for Women and the first issue was released towards the end of that year. In 1927 the magazine began being published under the name Distaff. By 1928, Distaff was being published four times a year.
The college magazine was published as Distaff until 1947, when students voted to change the name to Talaria. This name only lasted four years until 1951, when students once more opted for a name change. They held a contest and Smoke Signals won. Along with this name change, students demanded a change in the content of the magazine. Since the magazine’s founding it had focused on short stories, poetry, expression, and literacy. Students wanted a shift in content toward action and humor (Florida Flambeau, June 22, 1951).
In the 1970s, students clashed with university administration regarding censorship of Smoke Signals. They censored and prevented dissemination of several issues throughout the 1970s due to what they considered at the time “libelous” and “vulgar” materials. (Florida Flambeau, October 21, 1977)
Smoke Signals continued publishing until at least 1985, when they were still hiring writers for the magazine through the Florida Flambeau. (Florida Flambeau, Novemeber 25, 1985) The last issue of Smoke Signals in our holdings is from Winter of 1970.
Several issues of the Talaria and Smoke Signals are now available to be viewed on our digital library, DigiNole: FSU’s digital repository, and can be viewed here.
This article was written by Kacee Reguera, a student worker in Heritage & University Archives.
Along with First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, Leon High School (LHS) was one of our first community partners and we learned a lot on this project (what to do and not do with future community partners). Overall though, it was a rewarding experience to work with this sort of non-traditional archive and also to work in the high school environment and interact with the students while in the Media Center at Leon High.
Leon High School in Tallahassee is Florida’s oldest continually accredited high school, founded in 1871 just twenty-six years after Florida became a state. We digitized all the yearbooks along with all the issues held in the Archives Room of the school newspaper, published since 1920. Last week, the Class of 2020 had a drive-through graduation celebration, a mark of these strange times for the latest LHS graduates. So, in celebration of this year’s class, I did a deep dive into the Leon High School newspaper’s Graduation Issues over the school’s history.
The first Senior Class was celebrated on the front page of the May 28, 1920 issue of The Hill Top, the original name for the LHS school newspaper:
In 1935, the newspaper, now renamed Leon High Life, printed out the “stats” for each graduating Senior and shared some fun stories about each Senior:
Eventually, the newspaper’s title changes again to just High Life and the features to celebrate the seniors became more and more involved until starting in the 1980s, there is a special Graduation Issue of High Life that is published in late May each year to celebrate the most recent Senior class. 1981 was one of the first years a special Graduation Issue was published:
As Leon High entered the 2000s, the newspaper shifted between entire issues and special inserts in a normal issue of the paper. For the Class of 2000, a special insert celebrated seniors with both a hopeful and somewhat ominous front page:
Sadly, Leon High Life has not published an article in its online portal since mid-March of this year when schools were closed due to the COVID-19 in Tallahassee. However, the Class of 2020 hopefully is celebrating digitally through their preferred digital platforms and we here in FSU’s Special Collections & Archives wish this class in all local high schools the very best in their next adventure!
Once we completed digitization of the church bulletins, I met with my contacts at the Church for what they wanted to explore for digitization next. A set of photographs, programs and other historical documentation about the Church emerged. I set my contacts to the task of creating some basic description about these materials. As the subject experts, they were the best suited to the task of telling me who was in these photographs or what events they were showing and how they reflected the history of the Church. They did not disappoint! I was very pleased to be able to provide rich metadata for the new materials thanks to the hard work of my volunteer catalogers.
I was particularly happy to see this photograph from the 1940s showing a celebration held in the sanctuary of the Church for recent college graduates, many of whom were probably graduating from Florida State College for Women, FSU’s predecessor institution.
Another aspect of the Church that this set of materials shares is the work of the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) and its Girls Auxiliary. Around this time of year, a new set of girls would be initiated into the Auxiliary and start their paths to becoming maidens, ladies-in-waiting, princesses and queens for the Auxiliary. It would have been a crowning achievement for these girls as they contributed to their church and local communities to earn their titles. The materials relating to the WMU and Girls Auxiliary share their work over the years to contribute widely to the Church, both locally and around the world.
One of my favorite responsibilities in my work is coordinating and working with community organizations in the Tallahassee area to digitize materials they hold in their historical collections. As a public university, I feel FSU, and by extension myself, have a responsibility to help smaller community institutions who are unable, for various reasons, to digitize and provide access to these materials on their own. I have found this to be rewarding work and over the next month, I’ll be spotlighting the collections of these partners and the work I’ve been lucky enough to share with them to bring these materials online.
Havana, Florida is 30 minutes north of downtown Tallahassee and is considered by some online sources to be a suburb of Tallahassee but its residents would argue it is a distinct rural community in its own right. The Havana History & Heritage Society was established to preserve and highlight the historical assets and events that have made Havana an exceptional community in which to live, have a business, and visit. The Society’s home is in the Shade Tobacco Museum in downtown Havana.
FSU was first approached by the Society in February 2019, referred by one of our other community partners, to gauge interest in digitizing a set of scrapbooks documenting the Home Demonstration Extension Service work in Gadsden County from 1916 through the 1960s. In particular, the scrapbooks documented the work of Ms. Elise Laffitte who ran the home demonstration portion of the extension services in the county for several decades.
In 2019, FSU did digitize seven scrapbooks and a loose set of photographs from the Society which are now available online in DigiNole: FSU’s digital repository. These scrapbooks provide a fascinating look at this farming community during the World Wars and Great Depression years. It also showcases the importance of women in producing food and clothing in these communities. In the 1942-1946 scrapbook in particular, the importance of the activities of the extension services during the war effort are clear. There is also a focus on what women and children through gardening and 4-H clubs were doing for the war effort in this scrapbook which is a different perspective then we often get. There is also correspondence showing businesses went to Ms. Laffitte to find fresh produce and products they needed during the war that they could not get elsewhere but that small farms and gardens could provide at the time.
Over time though, there is a shift in interested in the home demonstration extension service. By the last scrapbook from 1960-1961, the focus has shifted from food production to soft goods like clothing and quilts. Canning is still mentioned frequently but food production does not seem to be as much of a focus for the group. The State Style Show features prominently in this later scrapbook.
This article was written by Jeffrey Henley, a graduate student who has been working with the Florida State University Historic Photograph Collection with Heritage & University Archives since September 2018.
The FSU Historic Photograph Collection in the Heritage & University Archives at Florida State University contains in excess of 250,000 images and negatives. The collection houses a number of different types of images produced from the late nineteenth century through approximately 2010. The majority of the images were produced in the 1950s and 1960s. The challenges to processing this collection generally center on the issue of its size and diversity of photographs. An issue with provenance exists due to the photographs having been collected without strict documentation. What is known, though, is the overwhelming majority of the photographs were produced by an entity within or associated with Florida State University. While the provenance of the collection is also a challenge, this issue is not at the forefront of dealing with the collection. Due to the way it had been collected over time as many different collections, it had not been organized as a coherent archival collection, but rather was kept in a variety of storage entities.
The collection was first processed to its current form in 2016. When I started to work on this collection in late September 2018, I spent a couple of weeks familiarizing myself with proper techniques for handling photographs and negatives, recognizing issues, and identifying proper storage. After that, I spent a fair amount of time learning the collection and becoming familiar with its organization. I found the collection organized into five series, each representing distinctive types of photographs and subjects. Even after working with the collection for almost eighteen months, I am still learning about the content. Once I had a grasp of how to work with the collection and what I was dealing with, the time came for me to pick up the processing of the collection where Dave Rodriguez left off in April 2018.
I began working with Series 5, which was a mixture of prints and negatives. While the contents of the remaining fourteen boxes were generally in alphabetical order by subject, they still needed to be checked to make sure they were correct and I also discovered many of the subjects had additional titles for clarification. These categories then had to be organized within sub-categories. I noticed many of the prints and negatives (not all) had additional markings to indicate some sort of numerical system that was being used by the photographer to organize them. Discovering this system made the task of putting matched prints and negatives together in the boxes. I do not know how many prints and negatives were in those fourteen boxes, however it took me about four and half to five months to reprocess them. The fourteen boxes actually expanded to fifteen boxes due to a number of prints and negatives being stuffed into storage envelopes. I rehoused each print, and occasional negative, in new storage envelopes. Series 5 was completed in late March 2019, however due to space and other pending projects, the boxes were left in place until such time I could come back to them and fully incorporate them into the collection both physically and in the finding aid. I spent the rest of the semester working on research requests and digitization projects for the Heritage & University Archives.
When I returned to Special Collections in the fall of 2019, Sandra Varry had me begin a project to assess the provenance of the collection. We knew the photographs that were already in the collection, along with those that had yet to be processed, came from a wide variety of sources, however there was no clear indication as to what sources had contributed to the entire collection. This project also included examining the provenance of the General Photograph Collection and the Alumni Association Miscellaneous Photograph Collection. The project was a precursor to the possible merging of these smaller collections into the larger FSU Historic Photograph Collection.
The Alumni Association Collection appeared to be a more unique collection than the General Photograph Collection. The decision was made to keep the Alumni Association Collection as its own entity, but Sandra decided the best course of action for the General Photograph Collection was to merge it into the Historic Photograph Collection. One issue that we had to take into consideration before moving forward was that roughly three-quarters of the photographs in the General Photograph Collection had been digitized and were part of the finding aid for the collection down to the item level.
Over the course of several weeks into October 2019, we had a number of meetings with other specialists in Special Collections to prepare to merge these collections. We received the best practices for tracking the digitized photographs as well as keeping track of updates that need to be made to the finding aid. After that, the next step was to go through the General Photograph Collection and make determinations as to where each photograph would go in the Historic Photograph Collection. This process took a bit longer than anticipated due to my misunderstanding of the numbering system used on the General Photograph Collection and the fact that I had missed over 100 photographs that were not digitized, but were still part of the collection. I then had to go back through and determine where those photographs would go. When that task was completed, it was time to begin laying out how many photographs would go into which folders and which boxes in the Historic Photograph Collection and layout a map of how the collection would look on the shelves and how much room would be needed to fit them all in, not to mention the 15 boxes that had been processed the previous spring. Creating the map of the collection took most of the rest of the fall semester.
Upon my return for the spring semester 2020, I reviewed the floor plan for the collection and received approval from Sandra to proceed with the actual merging of the collections. Over the course of the next six or seven weeks, I meticulously merged the General Photograph Collection into the Historic Photograph Collection, over 800 photographs, and accounted for each one on at least three different spreadsheets. One spreadsheet was reserved for tracking the digitized photographs, one was used to update the finding aid, and the other was a back up, in essence, to the finding aid tracker. Doing it this way slowed the process down significantly, however I thought the time was worth avoiding a serious mistake that could undo months of work.
By the second week in March 2020, the physical collection merger was complete. All that remained to be done was final review of the new finding aid and upload, turning over the new locations for the digitized photographs to the DLC team for review, and to print the new labels for the collection. It was all ready to go. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis intervened. The final few steps of the process to complete the merger and reopen the collection will have to wait until the crisis abates and campus is open once again.
When you think of Miami, you think of the beaches, the art, the South Beach area, a tourist paradise, and the rich Cuban culture. Miami is one of Florida’s most influential cities that produces many stars, politicians, and field leaders. Great things come out of Miami, however, there is one thing within the history of the city that is not so great — the Ku Klux Klan. Many people would not believe that a city like Miami had a klavern of the Ku Klux Klan, but that does not erase the history.
The Ku Klux Klan in Miami operated just as any other klavern of the Ku Klux Klan would. It thrived off of hatred, white supremacy, and oppression of others. In Miami, the klavern steadily enacted violence and fear—including lynchings, bombings and parades— starting in the early 1900s. Activities documented in the Miami-Dade Public Library digital collection on the Ku Klux Klan included baby baptism ceremonies, marches in white robes, church at The White Temple Methodist Church, going on parades, and funeral services. The collection does not include the terrorism that this klavern perpetuated in Miami.
One infamous act of terrorism that the Ku Klux Klan of Miami carried out was a raid on a gay club in Miami. On Nov. 15, 1937, nearly 200 klansmen and klanswomen stormed the club La Paloma in Miami-Dade county. While wearing their Ku Klux Klan robes, they struck fear into the community by showing up in mass, assaulting staff and performers, and demanding the club shutdown. The klan claimed that by attacking this nightclub, they were saving white, traditional families from intruding ethnic, gender, and sexuality challenges.
Often times the klavern was blamed for fragmenting the community of Miami. Marjory Stoneman Douglas reflected on the impact of the Ku Klux Klan in Miami by saying, “How could you be a community with people like that?” In her interview with the Douglas House, she recounted her encounters with seeing people lynched, tarred and feathered, and face to face altercations with the Ku Klux Klan. Though, she never wavered in her belief that the Ku Klux Klan did belong in the community. She said she liked the Coconut Grove area better than Miami because “it was a community of people who had backgrounds other than [Ku Klux Klan], and I’m quite sure there was no Ku Klux Klan in Coconut Grove.”
As Krystal Thomas at FSU Libraries notes, “libraries, archives and museums always think long and hard about how, or even if, to present this type of history in an online environment where it is hard to maintain its context and to ensure that people interacting with it understand its place in history and won’t potentially misappropriate it. However, there is no guarantee any of that would not also happen with researchers in our reading rooms or exhibit spaces. Ultimately, if they choose to, cultural heritage organizations share this information so that an accurate representation of our history is also online, however problematic that history may be to modern users. We try to use description to make sure digital objects are accurately represented and, where appropriate, include disclaimers to warn users about graphic or potentially triggering content.”
Overall, the state of Florida has a rich history, but sadly some of the history includes terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Luckily, the activity of the Ku Klux Klan in Miami dwindled with the rise of the civil rights movement in the United States of America. Learn more about civil rights related content in the Civil and Human Rights search on SSDN.DP.LA.
With our work on extension service scrapbooks with the Havana History and Heritage Society for Gadsden County, we took a look at our own collections and found Leon County scrapbooks for a similar period on our own shelves! The Florida Home Economics Association Records holds scrapbooks which are mostly Leon County extension service records from 1923-1966. The collection also holds the administrative records of the Association and Florida State College for Women (FSU’s predecessor) was an integral part of the instruction branch of the association.
Digitization of scrapbooks is always a challenge. The scrapbooks were dis-bound before being brought up to our studio for digitization. Dis-binding scrapbooks such as these and other similar material allows us to capture higher quality images of individual pages faster than if they were left in their original, bound state. From a preservation standpoint, this also reduces the amount of potential wear-and-tear on older items such as these can sustain during the digitization process.
Since we digitized the material as individual pages instead of bound scrapbooks, we relied primarily on our overhead camera setup to complete this project. This setup utilizes an IQ180 reprographic camera system and Capture One Cultural Heritage software to create high quality, high resolution images. We digitized all material in this collection as 400 PPI (pixels per inch) TIFF images as recommended by our FSUDL Imaging Guidelinesdocument.
Being a tethered system, all images are automatically and instantly transferred from the camera to the computer where the Capture One software handles basic editing of the images including color correction, cropping, file naming, and exporting the final images to our internal server before being loaded into the FSU Digital Library
The Cultural Heritage version of Capture One allows us to increase the rate of image processing by providing helpful features such as auto-cropping and advanced white balance adjustments. The software also acts as a file management tool and allows us to batch-edit and export the images we’ve digitized. We use this to apply the same color and exposure settings to all pages of an item at once instead of performing the edits one-by-one on individual pages, which would take much longer to complete.
The scrapbooks, once they were digitized and images ready for the digital library, were loaded into the FSU Digital Library. Please enjoy browsing these materials and the fascinating glimpse they offer into the work of the extension services in Leon County over several decades.
An herbal is a book containing the names and descriptions of various plants, and usually contains the effects that were associated with each one. Effects could range from a plant’s toxicity to its magical power. In the 15th century, it was common practice to publish medical journals in Latin, which was only accessible to those with wealth or nobility. In 1652, Nicholas Culpeper published one of his most notable works,The English Physician, in English, allowing those who did not read Latin to be able to practice medicine.
Culpeper’s herbal was groundbreaking for its combination of the “doctrine of signatures” with astrology. The doctrine of signatures was the idea that plants and herbs that looked like human body parts would help heal ailments that stemmed from that part. Combining this practice with astrology formed what is known as astrological herbalism. Astrological herbalists connected herbs to different signs of the zodiac. They treated specific ailments by determining what sign and planet ruled over the part of the body that needed care, and then prescribing an herb of the same astrological sign.
Culpeper’s earlier works mainly relied on written descriptions of the plants to be able to identify them. As he progressed, his herbals included more images and color, illustrating them with etchings that are then colored in with watercolors, such as the 1802 edition of his British Herbal.
The heart and blood, for example, are ruled by Leo, which is ruled by the sun, so for ailments such as anemia, the patient would be prescribed “centaury,” or centaurium erythraea. Issues like anxiety are ruled by Mercury, and depending upon your astrological sign you might be prescribed lavender as a treatment. The process goes more in depth depending on your sign and other planetary factors.
While we cannot recommend depending upon Culpeper’s prescribed treatments — medicine has come a long way in 400 years — it is fun to see what herbal applications he found for a variety of ailments. FSU Libraries Special Collections and Archives possesses seven editions of The English Physician, from the 1652 first edition up to one from 1932. Fortunately, three editions have been digitized and are available for your perusal from home!