Tag Archives: digital collections

Coming of Age in World War II: Homes Away from Home

Here’s another post promoting a new collection of materials from the Insistute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University by a student leader for the project, Gabriela Maduro.

Only thirteen years old when World War II began, Giulia Koritschoner came of age in a time of uncertainty and chaos. Despite the context in which Giulia grew up, however, the letters of the Hasterlik-Hine collection demonstrate the fact that, for those on the home front, daily life often continued on as normal. Indeed, Giulia’s correspondence throughout 1942 regularly includes cheerful greeting cards for holidays that are decorated with personalized drawings and beautiful calligraphy. These letters were sent from not only family members but also a vast array of friends and acquaintances that Giulia made throughout the war years.

A card from Heidi Wettstein to Giulia Koritschoner (original item)

Giulia’s letters to and from schoolmates portray scenes of growing up that remained largely unchanged even in times of war. This is particularly evident in Giulia’s letters to and from Margaret Wolf, a friend from Schaffhausen who evolved from sending letters complaining about disliked teachers and unbearably boring school lessons to letters that explained her fears about graduating from school and having to enter the workforce. Giulia’s own letters mirror this development, as she wrote to her family contemplating a variety of jobs, from a lab technician to a stenographer to a masseuse. Even in the midst of the war, the possibilities for the future seemed endless.

Yet, elements of the war do seep into many of the letters. Discussions of rationing figure prominently in much of Giulia’s correspondence, as Ällägg Bechtold, a school friend from Schaffhausen, described how school was let out early in the spring because of a shortage of coal to keep students warm. Margaret Wolf complained that bakeries purposely sold old bread because it was thought that individuals would consume it more slowly than fresh bread. Even the letter that Giulia’s school principal sent to her was written not on regular paper but rather on postcards that students were encouraged to fill with holiday greetings and send to soldiers in order to boost their morale.

Many of Giulia’s letters to and from her family during this time contain anxiety about Giulia’s grandfather, Paul Hasterlik, who remained behind in Vienna while the rest of the family escaped. Although attempts were made to organize his passage to the United States, these efforts ultimately proved unsuccessful, and the letters reflect concerns about everything from whether Paul was able to find food to whether he was, in fact, actively being “tormented.” Although letters from Paul contained joy about Giulia’s recovery from polio and excitement about her prospects for the future, he remained vague in descriptions of his own life, only briefly mentioning that he was forced to move to another apartment in Vienna.

Other members of Giulia’s family struggled during this time as well. Mia Hasterlik’s letters outline her difficulties finding suitable employment in New York while living in unpleasant conditions. Perhaps most dramatically, Susi Weiss, Giulia’s older sister who moved to Nairobi at the beginning of the war, describes the emotional and physical abuse to which her husband subjected her to and her overwhelming happiness at finally being free of him.
This vast array of voices and subject matter reflected in the Hasterlik-Hine collection depict a strange intersection between war and daily life that occurred for those living on the home front during World War II. Ultimately, the collection offers an invaluable glimpse of what it means to come of age in a time of war, highlighting the fears, delights, and amusements that punctuated daily life.

A discussion of these letters and letters like it from other troubled times in history will be presented at the Letters in Troubled Times: Study of Epistolary Sources conference on Friday, February 16, 2018 in Tallahassee, Florida. Please contact Dr. Suzanne Sinke at ssinke@fsu.edu about questions regarding the conference.

Dealing with Daily Life during World War II

This post is by Emily Woessner, one of two students leading the project digitizing selections from the Hasterlik-Hine Collection at the Institute of World War II and the Human Experience. More materials have been added to the digital collection and may be viewed here. The first post about this project is here.

Giulia Hasterlik was only 13 years old when her mother arranged for her to leave Vienna, Austria and travel to Switzerland to live safely without fear of Nazi persecution. Giulia was taken in by a minister’s wife named Alice Sigerist who already had a daughter of her own, Gretli Sigerist, close to Giulia’s age. Giulia lived in the small town of Schaffhausen, Switzerland for 7 years (1938 to 1946). While living in Schaffhausen, she attended an all-girls Catholic school and had many friends. However, she kept in contact with a number of her schoolmates back in Vienna. Letters from Evi Leib and Elizabeth “Lisl” Urbantischitsch, in particular, detail the lives of young girls who are dealing with such situations as crushes, boredom, school work, and prospects of the future. The girls draw pictures in their letters and used secret languages— they worry, joke, and dream just like young girls of today. Their letters to and from one another allowed them to maintain their friendships and a sense of normalcy during the war years.

Giulia was not the best student, a bit mischievous at times, but generally, she enjoyed her life in the small town of Schaffhausen. Although she noted that it was quite different from her middle-class upbringing in Vienna. Unfortunately, in August 1941 at 16 years old Giulia contracted poliomyelitis and was taken to Kanton Hospital in the center of Schaffhausen. She had to pause her studies at school. During this time the letters to and from her classmates served as a window to the outside world where she could escape the boredom of the hospital and maintain her friendships. At times the letters to Giulia simply wished her well and asked how she was progressing with her treatment. Other times her classmates detailed holiday trips, plans for future jobs and schooling, or fun puzzles and poems for Giulia to enjoy. These letters provided relief and laughter for Giulia during her most intense treatment.

Get Well Card sent to Giulia while she was receiving treatment for polio (original object)

It was not only school friends who wrote to Giulia at this time, though. Alice Sigerist had informed both Paul Hasterlik, Giulia’s grandfather, and Auguste Hasterlik, Giulia’s aunt, about the polio diagnosis. Paul and Auguste wrote heartfelt and uplifting letters to Giulia, but they also warned her against saying anything to her mother, Mia Hasterlik, about her condition. They feared the news would be far too upsetting for Mia and worry her unnecessarily because she was already living in New York City and would be helpless to take care of Giulia. For her part, Alice worked diligently to ensure Giulia was properly cared for and enlisted the help of her in-laws and countless doctors. In December 1941 Giulia was transferred to Insel Hospital in Bern, Switzerland where she underwent many months of treatment while continuing to receive letters from her friends and family.

When studying World War II one often forgets that people still had to contend with daily life and its unexpected occurrences. When Giulia Hasterlik fell ill with polio the war was in full swing, her family was strewn across the globe, and she was doing her best to live a normal life in Switzerland. Oftentimes all she had to keep in touch with her friends and family were these letters. They kept her relations, faith, and sanity strong despite all the hardship and uncertainty she endured as a young woman.

A discussion of these letters and letters like them from other tumultuous times in history will be presented at the Letters in Troubled Times: Study of Epistolary Sources conference happening Friday, February 16, 2018, in Tallahassee, Florida. Please contact Dr. Suzanne Sinke for questions regarding the conference.

The Emmett Till Archives expands online

Tobiasblogimage
Page from the Joseph Tobias Papers; regarding an unauthorized film about Emmett Till, 1960.

Recently, we’ve added a new collection to the Emmett Till Archives in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository. The Joseph Tobias Papers consist of the professional papers, case files, and collected publications of Tobias, an attorney based in Chicago, Illinois. The collection is regarding his representation of Mamie Till-Mobley from 1955 to 1960. Documents include case files for Mamie Bradley v. Cowles Magazines, Inc., Vernon C. Meyers, Gardner Cowles, and William Bradford Huie; correspondence on Till-Mobley’s behalf with the NAACP and motion picture studios; and subject files kept by Tobias on Till-Mobley during and after his employment by her. These primary source materials provide a compelling view into the life of Mamie Till-Mobley shortly after the murder of her son Emmett Till. For more information, see the collection’s finding aid.

The Emmett Till Archives consists of primary and secondary source material related to the life, murder, and memory of Emmett Louis Till.  Florida State University Libraries partners with the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, the Emmett Till Memory Project, and other institutions and private donors to collect, preserve, and provide access to the ongoing story of Emmett Till.  The Till Archives includes newspapers, magazines, oral histories, photographs, government records, scholarly literature, creative works, and other materials documenting the Till case and its commemoration, memorialization, and discussion in scholarship and popular culture.

If you know of materials that might be appropriate for donation to the Emmett Till Archives, please contact Associate Dean Katie McCormick at kmccormick@fsu.edu or (850) 644-6167.

Joining the Digital Public Library of America

We here at FSU are happy to have been part of the team to make the launch of the Sunshine State Digital Network (SSDN) possible. The SSDN will coordinate the work of harvesting Florida digital collections into the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). The first harvest of materials from Florida State University, Florida International University and the University of Miami is now available at dp.la.

The following is from the original press release by FSU Libraries:

Florida State University Libraries and their partners are pleased to announce the launch of the Sunshine State Digital Network (SSDN). The SSDN is part of the Digital Public Library of America and FSU is proud to be the service hub for the state of Florida. The service hub represents a community of institutions in the state which will provide their partner institutions aggregated metadata for the DPLA and offer tiered services to connect institutions of all sizes to DPLA.

The DPLA is an ever-growing national network of libraries, archives, museums, cultural heritage institutions, and volunteers that set out to provide a local impact in its communities, strengthened by a global reach. It is a free service, offering access to over 17 million items from around the globe. DPLA Network Manager Kelcy Shepherd says, “We’re so excited to welcome Sunshine State Digital Network to DPLA and to share Florida’s rich digital content alongside content of our other Hubs. We appreciate SSDN’s commitment to broadly sharing cultural heritage content with the public and to participating in the DPLA network.”

The SSDN operates on a multi-tiered hub system consisting of the main hub and regional sub-hubs. The main service hub is located at Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. The sub-hub is located in Miami, FL with responsibilities shared among the University of Miami (UM) and Florida International University (FIU).

While partnering with UM and FIU, the network will provide digital access to over 72,000 cultural heritage materials from across the state of Florida. FSU will manage all administrative aspects of the network, serve as the financial center, and submit the state’s aggregated metadata to DPLA. By submitting metadata to DPLA, it will increase the discoverability and use of our culturally rich and diverse digital collections while allowing individuals to use materials creatively, enhance their research and learning, develop new resources for teaching and discovery, and foster interdisciplinary inquiry.

You can also read the press release from DPLA here.

Leon High School Yearbooks

Yearbooks are a venerable tradition in high school. They collect and hold memories of a formative time in our lives. Yearbooks also serve as resources for research. They document trends in education, sociology, and demographics. The Digital Library Center recently partnered with Leon High School–the state’s oldest public school–to digitize and make accessible their yearbooks from 1926 to 2013.

One event you can witness through these pages is the integration of public high schools. Leon High School was integrated for the 1963-64 school year. The Leon High School Student Government Association produced this video documenting this change:

You can investigate the results yourself in the 1964 edition of The Lion’s Tale.

Leon High School has also been the home of many notable alumni. In addition to her many academic awards, actress Faye Dunaway was given the superlative “Best Personality” by her class in 1958. Many future politicians, professional athletes, and an X-Games gold medalist have spent time in the classrooms of Leon High School.

Explore these yearbooks and more at DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository.

A New Digital Collection from the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience

Special Collections & Archives is excited to be working with FSU’s Institute on World War II and the Human Experience on an extensive digitization project to bring a large set of letters into  DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository. As we add new items to the digital library from this collection, the two students in charge of the project will share information about the work and collection on the blog so here is the first post about the new collection!

The Hasterlik-Hine collection housed at the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University is a unique letter collection in terms of its depth and scope. Donated by Giulia Hine (maiden name: Hasterlik) in 2003, this collection has roughly 14,000 German and English letters spanning familiar generations from the 18th to the 21st century. In preparation for the Letters in Troubled Times: Evaluating Epistolary Sources conference set for February 16, 2018, in Tallahassee, Florida, the Institute processed a portion of the collection focusing on letters to and from Giulia in the years 1938 to 1943 and 1945 to 1948.

Page from a letter from Elizabeth ‘Lisl’ Urbantschitsch to Giulia Hasterlik, January 3, 1939.

Giulia Hine was born into a middle-upper class family in Vienna, Austria on September 30, 1925. Her father, Julius Kortischoner passed away in 1928. Before the outbreak of World War II, Mia Hasterlik-Kortischoner, Giulia’s mother, arranged for Giulia and her older half-sister, Suzanne “Susi” Wolff, to emigrate out of Vienna, Austria to escape persecution under the Nuremberg Laws which deemed the family Jewish. At 13 years old Giulia was safely housed in Switzerland where she lived with Frau Alice Sigerist and her daughter Gretli from the end of 1938 to 1946. Susi sailed to Kenya to meet and marry Robert Seemann in an arranged agreement to keep her safe. Mia stayed in Vienna, Austria for a time in order to take care of her elderly father, Paul, who decided he did not want to leave. Eventually, though, Mia left for England and then emigrated to the United States where her sister Auguste was living in New York, New York. As the family scattered all over the world they wrote hundreds of letters to and from her one another and countless friends back home.

Within the letters, one begins to see the intricacies of maintaining long-distance relationships during one of the most dangerous times in modern history. The use of self-censorship in order to avoid creating worry is apparent in letters written by all. For example, while in Switzerland Giulia contracted Poliomyelitis and yet she kept the entire ordeal from her mother until the end of the war. Susi, on a similar note, hid the details of the abuse she suffered while married to Robert. Despite the troubled times and personal struggles, the letters also reveal many small delights encountered by family members and friends such as anecdotes about pets and school trips. One gains an understanding and appreciations for the bonds of family while reading each letter, especially the heartfelt correspondence between Giulia and her grandfather, Paul. These letters serve as a testament to the strength and ingenuity of a family determined to survive and thrive.

The first set of five sets being digitized are now available in DigiNole: FSU’s digital repository. Translations of the letters are forthcoming for this first batch and will be included in each subsequent batch for the project. Stay tuned for new items in the collection over the next few months.

Hitting the Court

1986-87 Florida State University Lady Seminole Basketball Media Guide
Page from the 1986-87 Florida State University Lady Seminole Basketball Media Guide

It’s basketball season time again in college sports. The men’s Florida State University team takes to the court in their first non-exhibition game of the season this evening against the George Washington Colonials. The Lady Noles already have two wins on the books for this season!

Over the summer, we digitized and made available in the FSU Digital Library, media guides and almanacs highlighting past teams. From the first handbook in our collection featuring the 1966 men’s squad to the almanac celebrating our men’s 2012-13 ACC Championship win to the first women’s team media guide we have in our collections from the mid-1980s, these materials provide a fun and detailed look into past basketball teams here at FSU. Looking forward to watching both teams this year live up to their predecessors! To browse all the Sports Media Guides, visit the FSU Digital Library. You can limit your search to a specific sport using the terms listed under Topical Subject along the lefthand side of the screen.

2012-13 Almanac Men's FSU Basketball
Cover from the FSU Men’s Basketball 2012-13 Almanac

Anulus Nuptialis

We do quite a bit of patron-driven digitization in the Digital Library Center. A lot of it is for researchers who are unable to visit Tallahassee and we like to share these materials in DigiNole as often as possible because, as our manuscript archivist notes, if one researcher needed one, there is probably another one out there too! These sorts of requests have gotten large parts of the Admiral Leigh papers online and are the reason we’re currently working on the Sir Leon Radzinowicz papers as well. However, this one might be one of my recent favorites.

Page from Anulus Nuptialis
Page from Anulus Nuptialis

Anulus nuptialis: De amore sponsi celestis dyalogus incipit, cuiu s titulus est iste is a 1450 bound manuscript. Written in a humanistic hand by a single scribe on parchment with initials in red with gold, blue with gold and green with gold ornament, it is an unrecorded text in the form of a dialogue between Mother Scolastica and Symona and Felix, all brides of Christ, written by nuns in a convent. Ph.D. student, Rachel Duke,  here at FSU is working with this volume for her dissertation and needed high-quality reference images of the object for her work. We’re happy to be able to share out this incredibly unique work with everyone else now. I asked Rachel to share some information about the work to help people understand what it’s about. It somehow got even cooler:

It’s a dialogue, which you can see pretty clearly from the images, between Felix, Symona, and their mother Scolastica. Their lines are marked “Fe,” “Sy,” and “Ma” (for Mater). Symona and Felix are twin sisters and the biological offspring of the mother of the convent. This is during a time where a father would die and the widow and her daughters would all enter the convent.

I’m writing my dissertation about how the text demonstrates the rise of some humanist leanings in northern Italy in the 15th century, even in convent communities. Most convent literature doesn’t just have a dialogue between women, and the dialogue found here is so kind and understanding. Felix and Symona express their doubts about their ability to live up to the hefty role of brides of Christ, and Mater Scolastica repeatedly reminds them that they can find the strength within themselves to succeed in this life. It really is quite encouraging and loving. While I have a pretty good guess as to which convent this is related to (and have presented on those inklings at conferences), we don’t have a definitive answer to who these people were. Scriptoria were fairly common within convents, so there is the possibility that it was composed and even copied within a convent.

The text is in Italianate Latin, and in an extremely legible humanist hand. We can see many different colors of ink in the margins and in the decorations: (Brown, pink, purple, green, etc.). There are some locations where a space for a larger initial should have been left but the scribe likely forgot, and the letter has been squeezed in right next to it.

The book has gold brushed edges, something you can’t see in the images but is beautiful to behold in person. It is perfectly sized to fit in your hands comfortably, a little larger than the length of my hands in person.

We don’t have an exact date or location because someone has excised any information that could help us track down provenance. If you look on the first decorated folio, you can even see where someone attempted to wash out what was probably a library stamp. The colophon has an excision (actual rectangle CUT OUT from the text identifying the target audience). It is very frustrating.

We purchased this book from Laurence Claiborne Witten II, who was a pretty famous bookseller of the middle of the 20th century. He was famously involved in the sale of a likely forgery! Anulus Nuptialis might be a good starting point for a study into somewhat dubious antiquarian book sales.

Be sure to check this volume out! Even if the language isn’t familiar, the object itself is lovely to page through online.

Flambeau at your fingertips

Florida Flambeau, January 5, 1994
Front Page of the Flambeau following the 1994 Seminole football win at the Orange Bowl

It has been a long time coming to get to this point but I’m happy to announce that we have finally cataloged and completed the upload of the FSU newspaper, Florida Flambeau from 1915 to 1996. This was a massive undertaking for the Digital Library Center and we didn’t even do the scanning! Digitization of these materials was done from microfilm five years ago. The DLC staff did image clean-up and quality control and then students took over creating metadata for every single issue (easily over 10,000 issues for the 80 year period!). Kudos to all the staff and students who have worked on this project.

The Flambeau provides a fascinating look at not only the college community and its culture over these years but what was happening in and around the great Tallahassee area. Being in the capital city of the state, the Flambeau reports on state and national politics often as well as providing insight into how the college was interacting with the rest of the world. It reports on the funny moments (easily one of our most popular issue reports on streakers in 1974) to how the campus handled tragedies (an article on the Challenger tragedy in 1984 notes how hard hit teachers at FSU felt).

The added bonus of having these online? They are now fully text-searchable. Have a relative who attended, taught or worked at FSU? See if you can find their name! To best way to search all the text is to click on the Advanced Search link at the top right of the page and then make sure Search all (metadata + full text) is selected.

We’ll be looking into adding the issues starting in 1997 soon but how now, happy searching!

Finishing up the “Shoebox Papers” of Dirac

The following is the second of two posts from Dr. Kathy Clark, a professor here at FSU in the College of Education. You may see the first post here. For the past several years, she’s been involved in the digitization and description of a set of papers in the Dirac Collection that are known collectively as the “shoebox” papers. These materials are available online and will shortly benefit from enhanced description from Dr. Clark.

I should say that the “we” in this case are an incredibly bright and talented young man, Emmet Harrington, and myself. Emmet was an undergraduate honors student, who selected my project as part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) at FSU. Although his UROP commitment was only one year, Emmet continued on the project for a second year, and his work was funded by the HOMSIGMAA grant. Emmet graduated from FSU in May 2016, with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. He began the Ph.D. in mathematics program at Michigan State University in Fall 2016. Emmet’s work on the “shoebox papers” project was invaluable, and he was responsible for three key aspects of the project work.

Using substitutions to simplify polynomial equations
Using substitutions to simplify polynomial equations. From the “Shoebox Papers.”

In particular, Emmet first reviewed the scans of the original items that I identified in 2012 for their mathematical content, and this was necessary work for metadata entry. Emmet also selected interesting problems, which we would ultimately highlight and discuss during a workshop as part of the Seventh European Summer University in Copenhagen in 2014. Finally, Emmet spent a great deal of time cropping images from the original images (of the “shoebox papers” that I selected in 2012), for the purpose of focusing on particular aspects of Dirac’s mathematical doodlings found in the “shoebox papers.” We felt this was an intriguing first project for the purpose of highlighting one aspect of the Dirac Papers at FSU. For example, because of Dirac’s reputation as a Nobel prize-winning physicist, we purposefully investigated the collection for examples of pure mathematics, since Dirac first began his academic life in the field of mathematics.

Finally, Emmet and I submitted a short paper to the BSHM Bulletin: Journal of the British Society of the History of Mathematics, in which we tell the story of our work together, and in which we highlight examples from our investigation into the “shoebox papers” (Clark & Harrington, 2016).

In closing, I want to publicly express my appreciation to HOMSIGMAA’s interest in the Dirac Papers at FSU. I greatly appreciate Dr. Amy Shell-Gellasch’s encouragement to me to seek funding for this project, and for assisting me over the years as we’ve tried to accomplish what we set out to do. I am also supremely appreciative of the assistance and encouragement of Dean Julia Zimmerman, Associate Dean Katie McCormick, Digital Archivist Krystal Thomas, and Studio Manager Stuart Rochford, all of the FSU Libraries. Without them, this work would not have been possible. I am especially grateful for their patience with me, as they have waited a very long time for me to finish my part of this work so that it can be shared with the world.

References

Clark, K. M., & Harrington, E. P. (2016). The Paul A M Dirac papers at Florida State University: A search for informal mathematical investigations. British Society for the History of Mathematics Bulletin, 31(3), 205-214.