Tag Archives: events

Florida State College for Women Scrapbooks in the Archives

Mary Cobb Nelson.

Compiling scrapbooks was a popular pastime for those who attended the Florida State College for Women.    These students filled their scrapbooks with the miscellaneous items that they thought significant and representative of their day to day lives. Working in the archives, we specifically look for these ephemeral objects that people often threw away. These items, when compiled together in the form of a scrapbook, paint a historic picture of what life was like in previous years.

One of my favorites that I have had the opportunity to process was created by Mary Cobb Nelson during the mid to late 1920s. Filled with photographs, newspaper clippings, invitations, and even bridge game score cards, she kept a detailed record of what it was like to participate in groups and student events at the college. Most of the students at FSCW led active social lives and were very involved in athletics, sororities, and other types of extracurricular activities.

KD page from the 1926 Flastacowo.

Mary Cobb Nelson took great pride in being a sister in Kappa Delta sorority, and that aspect of her college life defined her more than anything else and is reflected throughout her collection. She and her sorority sisters frequently traveled to Camp Flastacowo and attended bridge games, luncheons, and even fraternity events and football games at the University of Florida.

The collection also includes photographs from her college years.  Some of her classmates had their own cameras which resulted in numerous candid photographs. These are some of the best items we can receive because they give life to the people who we are studying while processing their collections. It is, in fact, much like getting to know them personally.

Another interesting item in her collection is her 1926 Flastocowo yearbook, generously signed to her by sorority sisters on the Kappa Delta page. Affectionate inscriptions from her friends wish her “loads of love” and exemplify the type of sisterhood that surrounded Mary during her college years.

Mary Cobb Nelson and her friends at FSCW.

While this scrapbook and other items that we have provide valuable insight into her life at FSCW, Mary Cobb Nelson still remains a mysterious figure to us at the archives.  Although she was popular among her fellow students and sorority sisters and obviously made her mark on the college, we are still unable to determine if or when she graduated. We believe she had a twin sister, Rebekah, and a best friend, Winnifred Neeld, but information beyond her social involvement at the college in the 1920s is still missing from our records. Through donations and contributions, we can often recover missing pieces regarding the people who make up our archives.  It is hoped that, in time, we will learn more about the popular — but mysterious — Mary Cobb Nelson.

A book for Christina of Markyate

Christina of Markyate lived a span of sixty or so years in early twelfth century England. This Anglo-Saxon woman was born into nobility but chose a path contrary to the conventions of her inherited social class.

At some point in her young life, Theodora (“gift of God”), Christina’s birth name, found herself at a crossroads facing the reality of her times — that of not having a choice about whom she was to marry — and her own inclination toward a dedicated spiritual life sewn by the movements in her heart as she reflected on the life of the monks at the Benedictine monastery of St. Albans, which she had visited with her parents. In the end, Christina chose to make a private vow of perpetual chastity.

One of two golden clasps securing a facsimile of the St. Albans Psalter

Christina went on to thwart the rather barbaric advances of Ranulf Flambard, to whom her aunt was mistress. Fired with humiliation, Ranulf, who had become Bishop of Durham, was eager to assist Christina’s parents in securing her betrothal to a nobleman by the name of Burhed. The betrothal occurred, but consummation did not. Christina, intent on remaining faithful to her private vow and living her heart’s desire, took off and found safekeeping with a hermit. With this hermit, she lived as an anchoress, received spiritual instruction from him, and prayed the psalter for a few years, until her marriage was finally annulled.

Christina then moved to Markyate and lived as spiritual leader for a small group of women religious. St. Albans monastery, the monastery she had visited as a young girl, was nearby, and soon enough Christina became friends with its leader, Geoffrey. From her hagiographic Life, it seems she gave Geoffrey counsel in a matter, or a scheme as some might have called it at the time, which proved wise, and just what Geoffrey needed to hear. She became his go-to person thereafter for discussion on similar matters.

The esteem for which Geoffrey held for Christina may have led to the transfer of a psalter-in-production at St. Albans from a regular psalter to a special gift book for Christina. In medieval times, some Western women preferred fine garments and jewels, others psalters. Christina certainly had a taste for psalters alone.

Decorated initial, St. Albans Psalter, page 285

It is suggested by some scholars that, moved by his feelings for her, Geoffrey had a decorated letter “C” made by a different artist, perhaps one who would have understood his intentions. This specially decorated initial, with what may be an illuminator’s view of Christina and Geoffrey themselves linked to Christ, was then pasted-in at the beginning of Psalm 105 of the psalter.

A light line of shading viewable near the start of the text of Psalm 105 provides evidence for the illuminated initial having been added after the book was in production. Some scholars wonder why a dedication to an important woman religious would be placed in the middle of such a book. Janet Geddes raises her own questions about it in her book, St. Albans Psalter: A Book for Christina of Markyate, on page 123.

The insertion of the pasted-in initial on page 285 is crucial to our understanding of the book. If it represents Christina, one must ask why it appears in the middle of the book, by Psalm 105 and why is it by another artist. Surely a dedicatee, a living saint, would be honored at the beginning or perhaps grandly at the end.

My “wild-goose theory” (a theory-type Ms. Geddes thanks an editor of her book for helping her rein in) goes like this: If Geoffrey was seeking to honor not the person Christina, but rather the friendship between himself and Christina by giving her a book for her private use, a book he knew she would enjoy, then the choice of dedication location would have been something personal, a place chosen for its special meaning for both giver and receiver. In the Christian tradition, Psalm 105 is a psalm that speaks of God’s inexhaustible love and about taking delight in God’s name. This delight Christina would have touched each time she prayed Psalm 105, on levels besides the obvious. For two Christian religious and one private book, Psalm 105 is by far a grand place for Geoffrey and Christina’s friendship to be celebrated.

Come check out our facsimile of Christina’s book, the St. Albans Psalter, and perhaps dream or craft your own wild-goose theory about it and the characters involved in its creation. The book is a beauty!

The first programmer

Ada Lovelace
Augusta Ada (Byron) King, Countess of Lovelace, painting by Alfred Edward Chalon

In these times where computers are nearly ubiquitous, nearly one in every household, it seems especially important to remember one of the first women of computers, Ada Lovelace.

Ada poem
One of Lord Byron's poems, regarding Ada, from the John Shaw collection

The only legitimate daughter of Lord Byron, with Anne Isabella Milbanke, she was age 9 at the time he died in the liberation of Greece. Seeking to counter any of the girl’s father’s madness in her daughter, Ada’s mother pushed her towards mathematics and science — and in turn away from poetry and the arts. She would eventually marry William King, who would go on to become the Earl of Lovelace, and they would go on to have three children.

Ada letter
Letter from Lord Byron, to his sister Augusta Leigh, regarding Ada, from the John Shaw collection

She would correspond and meet with Charles Babbage many times throughout her married life. Babbage is credited as an early creator of computers, with his Analytical Engine and his Difference Engine. With her background and continued interest in mathematics, Ada would eventually write out a method for calculating Bernoulli’s Sequence on the Analytical Engine. In the 1950s, over a hundred years after her death, it was proven that, had the Analytical Engine been built, Ada’s method would have worked. In effect, this has come to be considered the first computer program.

The US Military has named their computer language Ada after her. Also, October 18 has been named Ada Lovelace Day, in celebration of women in the maths, sciences, and technology.

17 February 1940: Eleanor Roosevelt visits FSCW

From the 23 February 1940 Florida Flambeau:

Know Government Says First Lady

Women Urged to Take Interest in Democracy

“Girls, take a vital interest in government in all its details,” Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt advised Florida State college students when she spoke on “Citizenship in a Democracy” here last Saturday.

She cautioned, “You won’t like it very much. You may think it isn’t a clean game, but we women, if we keep to our ideals, can do much to improve politics.”

Mrs. Roosevelt pointed out the great responsibility of the United States in a world at war to find the answers to some of the many problems of the day which, she said, we can only do with full realization of what the problems are. She urged her audience, especially the students, to “know the whole situation of the whole community.” She said these problems are just now being thrust on us as in the past we had a great deal of new country to settle. Now we are building a civilization. To do that we must know our community and from there go out with our minds to the state and to the nation.”

She touched on one of her favorite topics, the position of women in local and national affairs, urging them to participate in finding a solution for such national problems as health and education. To help in these problems Mrs. Roosevelt said women must study the tax problems of their local, state, and national governments as each thing we do depends on tax money.

She closed her 45-minute address by advising students “to work hard, keep an open mind, understand the problems of the whole people, and be willing to pay the price of real democracy which means being willing to see all people share in the good life which will security for all.

“If we can keep our ideals alive in the youth of this generation, I think we can safely leave the future in their hands.”

After the speech, Mrs. Roosevelt was escorted to the home of Mrs. Frank D. Moor, president of the Alumnae association, for a dinner party. Guests at the dinner party included President Edward Conradi, Mrs. Ernest Ekermeyer, Mrs. Charles O. Andrews and Mrs. Fred P. Cone. After dinner Mrs. Roosevelt left by car for Jacksonville.

Mrs. Moor, Marjorie Jessup, and Katherine Graham escorted Mrs. Roosevelt to the stage. Mortar Board members and the 1939 and 1940 usher committee members served in the auditorium.

The college auditorium was filled to capacity for the occasion and hundreds of other students and townspeople packed the gymnasium and the Augusta Conradi theater, where public address systems were installed to carry the address.

The Flying Lady

Last year in March, when preparing for The Women For FSU event, I became familiar with the Betty Wood McNabb Collection and was intrigued by it.  In celebration of Women’s History Month I thought it was a perfect time to highlight an extraordinary woman and this collection.  The collection of memorabilia from her life and career includes scrapbooks from 1950-1989, appointment books, flight logs, daily diaries, medals, pins, and charms.  The scrapbooks include photographs, correspondence, cards, letters, certificates she received, and articles and poems written by her.

Betty Wood McNabb was born on August 5, 1909 in Spring Lake, Michigan.  She attended Florida State College for Women and received her B.A. in History in 1930. She went on to receive an M.A. in History from the University of California.   She and her husband, Harold McNabb, both served in World War II efforts, volunteering for the Albany (Georgia) Civilian Defense Corps and the Red Cross Motor Corps.Little Red Hen article

Betty enlisted in the military in October 1944 and her basic training was at Fort Ogelthorpe, Georgia Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.  She graduated in December 1944 as a WAC Private.  As a Sergeant in 1945, she wanted to go overseas, but WAC married members were not permitted to travel.  She then went to work at Albany Putney Hospital and progressed in her career as a Medical Records Specialist.  When the state of Georgia hired her as a consultant to set up a statewide Medical Record System she traveled from hospital to hospital and enjoyed the driving.

ListBetty had always dreamed of learning to fly and began lessons in 1951 at age 42. She bought a plane after three weeks of lessons, and joined the Ninety-Nines, an organization for women pilots  founded by Amelia Earhart.  Betty began writing for various newspapers, and published a book, Medical Record Procedures in Small Hospitals, in 1954.  She joined the Civil Air Patrol and became a Major in 1958.  She attended the Air War College, and in 1964 she became the first female officer to receive a diploma.  She was a pilot for the Coast Guard Auxiliary from 1969 to 1991.  Betty flew until she was 82 years old, when her deteriorating vision caused her to hang up her wings.

It is clear in looking through the scrapbooks that she lived a full, interesting and adventuresome life while making great strides in women’s aviation history.

Civil Air PatrolBetty with plane standing

Dickens 1812-2012: Dr. John Fenstermaker Lecture 2/29

Charles Dickens is one of the most important writers in English Literary History. Our celebration of his bicentenary in February 2012, presented in collaboration with the FSU English Department, continues on the evening of February 29th with the second of two public lectures, sponsored by the Friends of FSU Libraries and the History of Text Technologies program. Dr. John Fenstermaker (Professor Emeritus, English) will deliver a lecture entitled, “Charles Dickens: ‘It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas.'” Alongside the lecture, there will be an exhibition of nineteenth-century Dickensiana from Strozier Library’s Special Collections. All are welcome.

Dickens 1812-2012: Dr. Paul Fyfe Lecture 2/15

Charles Dickens is one of the most important writers in English Literary History. In celebration of his bicentenary in February 2012, Florida State University’s Department of English, in collaboration with Strozier Library’s Special Collections, is delighted to announce a pair of lectures on Dickens and his work by eminent FSU scholars. The two public lectures, sponsored by the Friends of FSU Libraries and the History of Text Technologies program, will take place on 15th February (Dr. Paul Fyfe) and 29th February (Professor John Fenstermaker) in the Library. Alongside these lectures, there will be an exhibition of nineteenth-century Dickensiana from Strozier Library’s Special Collections. All are welcome.

– text courtesy Dr. Elaine Treharne, English/History of Text Technologies

Ex Libris White Glove Fundraiser December 1, 2011

Harrison Sayre Circus Collection Event

Julia Zimmerman, Dean of Florida State University Libraries, and the Ex Libris Special Collections Committee cordially invite you to Soar into the Big Top: FSU Libraries Sayre Circus Collection. Support FSU Special Collections by joining us at A La Provence on the evening of December 1 for this very special event.  Attendees will enjoy a white glove examination of selections from the Sayre Circus Collection, a presentation by FSU Flying High Circus Director Chad Mathews,  and a five-course dinner with wine pairings.

While on the surface a quiet, reserved Navy veteran from New England, Harrison Sayre (1913-2005) also had an alter ego that loved the spectacle of the Big Top. For nearly all of his adult life, Sayre visited the circus whenever he could and fastidiously photographed and collected artifacts of all that he experienced. As a member of the Circus Fans of America, he traveled to see circuses in places as far away as Australia, Russia, and Hawaii.

The Harrison Sayre Circus Collection contains approximately 8,000 photographs, including 8″ x 10″ autographs, snapshots, slides, and negatives, as well as circus programs, posters, and other circus memorabilia collected from circuses attended mostly in the mid-Atlantic region during the second half of the 20th century. As a collection, many of the photographs offer a comprehensive study of circus performer costume design and production style. The collection also includes over 300 books consisting of signed autobiographies, biographies, and circus histories.

Date: December 1, 2011  6:30-9:00
Event Registration: $75 per person, $140 per couple
Attire: Business casual
Venue: A La Provence
1415 Timberlane Road
Tallahassee, FL

RSVP by November 28 to Sabine Butler by email at snbutler@fsu.edu or by telephone at (850) 644-1437.

John M. Shaw event

Childhood in Poetry books by John Mackay Shaw
Childhood in Poetry books by John MacKay Shaw

On Thursday, March 17, Florida State University Libraries Special Collections and Archives hosted an event highlighting the John M. Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection. On display were works by Robert Burns, Dr. Seuss, Lewis Carroll, A.A. Milne, and many others.

Over 40 people were in attendance at the event, with appetizers provided by A  La Provence. Speakers for the event included Julia Zimmerman, Dean of the FSU Libraries; Fred Standley, Professor Emeritus of FSU’s Department of English; Cathmar Prange, daughter of John M. Shaw; and James Birchfield, Curator of Rare Books at University of Kentucky Libraries.

Prior to Dr. Birchfield’s remarks, Doris Henderson, President of the St. Andrew Society of Tallahassee, presented a gift of $2,000 to benefit the Shaw Collection. John M. Shaw served as the first president of Tallahassee’s St. Andrew Society, and the Society has been a long-time supporter of the Shaw Collection.

Following his remarks, Dr. Birchfield presented to Special Collections an original handwritten poem by John Henry Eaton, Territorial Governor of Florida. This 1834 manuscript is comprised of six lines of verse composed for a young lady’s album. It will become part of the Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection.

Available below is a selection of photos from the event. The collection will continue to be featured in the Special Collections Exhibit Room on the first floor of Strozier Library until April 15.

Maurice Sendack Collection
Maurice Sendack Collection

Various Children's Titles
Various Children’s Titles

Pied Piper of Hamelin Collection
The Pied Piper of Hamelin Collection

Zilpha Underwood, Liz Johnson, and Sammie Morris of University Libraries
Zilpha Underwood, Liz Johnson, and Sammie Morris of University Libraries

Doris Henderson examines some of the exhibit
Doris Henderson, of the St. Andrew’s Society, examines some of the exhibit

Some of the event crowd mingles
Some of the event crowd mingles

Group preparing to enter the Special Collections Exhibit Room
Group preparing to enter the Special Collections Exhibit Room

The guest book
The guest book

Doris Henderson speaks to the group
Doris Henderson speaks to the group

The group listens to one of the speakers at the Shaw event
The group listens to one of the speakers at the Shaw event

Cathmar Prange prepares to speak to the group
Cathmar Prange, daughter of John Shaw, prepares to speak to the group

Cathmar Prange speaks at the exhibit
Cathmar Prange speaks at the exhibit

James Birchfield, Curator of Rare Books for University of Kentucky Library, speaks to the group
James Birchfield, Curator of Rare Books at University of Kentucky Libraries, speaks to the group

The crowd listens attentively to James Birchfield's speech
The crowd listens attentively to James Birchfield’s speech

The four speakers
The four speakers: Fred Standley, James Birchfield, Cathmar Prange, and Julia Zimmerman

A guest views part of the collection
A guest views part of the collection

Gina Woodward, Mafe Brooks, and Sammie Morris
Gina Woodward, Mafe Brooks, and Sammie Morris pose with the exhibit sign

Julia Zimmerman and Sammie Morris
Julia Zimmerman and Sammie Morris pose before the exhibit

The crowd mingles around the appetizers table
The crowd mingles around the appetizers table