Social Security, minimum wage, and the National Institutes of Health. These are just a few of the ways that Claude Denson Pepper left his mark on American politics. He was born in rural Alabama, the eldest of four children to Joseph and Lena Pepper, on September 8, 1900. From these humble beginnings, Pepper would come to serve the people of Florida as a U.S. Senator (1936-1950) and Representative (1963-1989). In his later years as a U.S. Representative, he was a champion of the elderly; crafting and supporting legislation that was geared toward ensuring elder Americans were allowed to age and finish their lives with care and dignity.
This Saturday, May 30, marks the 31st anniversary of Senator Pepper’s passing. When he died on May 30, 1989, Pepper was the eldest sitting member of Congress. He was honored by laying in state under the U.S. Capitol Rotunda for three days before making his way to Tallahassee to be laid to rest next to his wife Mildred. Special Collections & Archives honors the Senator and encourages you to visit our online resources on Pepper, including diaries, photographs and manuscript material, to better acquaint yourself with one of the most active figures of 20th Century American politics.
Like all of you, Covid-19 made an abrupt change to my spring semester. Thankfully, my Digital History class was mostly unaffected because the assignments were already web-based. Our final project had us create a digital exhibit using Omeka.net which is a free platform available from the Roy Rosenzweig Center for New Media. As opposed to a historical approach like my project takes, archivists and librarians sometimes use Omeka differently. Instead of creating an exhibit, they might create digital collections as an online repository for digitized materials.
I built this exhibit based off the work I did in my internship here in Special Collections & Archives. Even with Covid-19’s disruptions to our work, education, and daily lives, we can still find alternatives like this to help our community access collections and research from home. All the primary sources featured in the exhibit come from our archival manuscript collections highlighted in the Enslavement and Sharecropping Research Guide.
What does creating an Omeka site look like? For starters, FSU Libraries has a guide on the subject. Other then setting up the site, we must decide what goes into it as objects. In this case, I wanted to interpret a wide range of primary sources that shows a narrative of how the Florida Territory introduced enslavement and how it developed over our State’s history. When we load an object into the site, we create metadata that records information about the object itself which you can see in this picture. Below is an example item addition for a sharecropping contract.
Omeka uses the Dublin Core schema which is relatively simple. The site allows users to input the metadata into labelled text boxes, as you can see above, with the option to use HTML for simple text editing. This is where we give the object a title, describe it, tell users who created it, and provide links to digitized versions when available. We also upload a digital file so that users can look at the material being described and so that we can put it in the exhibit.
Once the objects are loaded and the metadata is created, it’s just a matter of arranging them and then writing the descriptive text for them. For this one, I created sections based on chronology: territorial Florida, Antebellum, Reconstruction, and Civil Rights.
The exhibit sections are created from different “pages.” In a page, you use “boxes” as a tool to integrate images and text in a variety of options and styles. Within these sections, I arranged the objects chronologically with descriptive text next to each of them. Just like a physical exhibit, this is where we would provide some context on the source or tell our audience what makes it unique and valuable for research. Because this exhibit is historical, it is also where I interpret what we can learn from the primary source.
Including extant projects like this exhibit and our Research Guides, Special Collections & Archives staff are still available for virtual reference. While our physical spaces remain closed at this time, if you have any questions about accessing our collections, you can get in touch with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also have a range of items in our Digital Library that everyone can access remotely.
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.
Around thirteen miles North from downtown Tallahassee is Lake Iamonia. Families such as the Van Brunts historically developed the land around Iamonia as large cotton plantations. R.F. Van Brunt was born in 1862 and from 1902 to 1911 operated a general store and the Van Brunt plantation in the area. The collection primarily comprises store account ledgers like the 1911 Day Book on the left.
At first glance these financial ledgers may not contain anything other than store balances and goods sold. However, this collection sheds light on local sharecropping. Sharecropping was an agricultural labor system that replaced slavery following the end of the Civil War. Plantation owners used this system to keep many former enslaved people bound to their plantations to maintain their crop-driven businesses.
Sharecropping contracts, like the one below found in one of the Van Brunt store ledgers contracting Randall Hayes, leased land to the sharecropper to cultivate a cash crop. At a specified date, the sharecropper had to produce the contracted quantity of which they kept a portion.
The Van Brunt store ledgers help us understand the economics of sharecropping. The country store in Iamonia is one example of how credit networks drove sharecropping. At the beginning of the agricultural year, sharecroppers bought their seeds and supplies on credit. The store often supplied individuals for months at a time without receiving payment. Near the date on their contracts, sharecroppers paid their store account in several ways.
The entry for September 16th affirms that five individuals received a balance on their store account for labor “by hauling seed.”
While they could pay cash if they had it, sharecroppers paid their store balance down with agricultural goods as well. The entry from October 6th reveals that customers paid their store accounts down “by cotton.” Because they paid rent on farmland, and sometimes store balances, in cotton, local sharecroppers often settled their debt with the plantation owner and store during the harvest season.
Infrequent opportunities to settle accounts with plantation owners, natural disruptions, and crop failures meant that sharecropping easily became a cycle of debt that trapped African Americans on the same plantations that enslaved them or their parents.
We invite members of the FSU community and the general public to access our collections in our reading room on the first floor of Strozier Library Monday-Thursday from 10:00-6:00 and Friday from 10:00-5:30.
Special Collections & Archives wants to share some updates on our work surfacing and highlighting collections documenting local enslavement and sharecropping. Collaborating with the Tallahassee History and Human Rights Project in their creation of the Invisible Lives Tours produced a list of our archival materials that we wanted to make more visible and accessible to researchers and the general public. What followed was the creation of a research guide solely devoted to gathering our primary sources of Enslavement and Sharecropping in Florida in one place.
The guide aims to promote and support historical and genealogical research in Tallahassee and surrounding counties. In the guide you can find relevant manuscript collections, rare books, and oral histories available on-site and/or digitally. To find Special Collections research guides, navigate to the FSU Libraries home page, click on “Research Guides,” select “By Group,” and then select the drop-down menu “Special Collections.”
From that body of material, we digitized and submitted objects for inclusion in the Association of Southeast Research Libraries’ (ASERL) “Enslaved People in the Southeast” collaborative exhibit that debuted November 4th. The exhibit commemorates the 400 years that have passed since enslaved Africans were first sold in the English colonies in 1619 marking the beginning of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
FSU and thirty-five other institutions offered a range of primary sources including “photos, letters, bills of sale, emancipation documents, insurance and taxation documents, and maps indicating segregation zones.” With this breadth of archival primary sources, “Enslaved People in the Southeast” seeks to show the social complexity of enslavement and its legacy across sharecropping, Jim Crow, and segregation.
To access our collections, we invite members of the FSU community and the general public to our reading room on the first floor of Strozier Library Monday-Thursday from 10:00-6:00 and Friday from 10:00-5:30. We also encourage those interested to browse our digital library, DigiNole.
It isn’t every day we digitize a 17th-century book about pirates. A few months ago, a colleague at the University of South Florida (USF) Libraries asked if we would be able to digitize our copy of Bucaniers of America, or, a true account of the most remarkable assaults committed of late years upon the coasts of the West Indies: by the bucaniers, of Jamaica and Tortuga, both English and French : wherein are contained more especially, the unparallel’d exploits of Sir Henry Morgan, our English Jamaican hero, who sacked Puerto Rico, burnt Panama, &c. (we just don’t title books like that anymore do we?). We were happy to oblige and also excited about why USF wanted a digital copy.
They were working with The Tampa Bay History Center on a new exhibit, Treasure Seekers: Conquistadors, Pirates & Shipwrecks and while USF was providing their copy of the book for the physical exhibit, they also wanted to be able to provide access to a digital copy as well. Due to the age and binding of the volume, it was a tricky digitization project but we persevered in the end! You too can now take a look at this fascinating volume chronicling the exploits of the buccaneers that ruled the waters of the Caribbean in the 1600s which includes the very famous Captain Morgan.
The College of Nursing at Florida State University has a significant history. Recently, Heritage & University Archives received a new accession from the College that illustrates when the College played a key role in being prepared for a nuclear catastrophe on American soil.
The newspaper clipping presented is from the spring of 1961, describing a “disaster drill” in an event of a plane crash and was given to the College by alumna Judith Butler White. White writes that this article describes the beginning of the implementation of the “worst-case scenario” preparation instated by President John F. Kennedy during the Cold War and that the Florida State University nursing students were part of this preparation plan. She recalls that a “Radiation Sign” and a “Location of Campus Assignment” in case of a nuclear disaster, was always hanging on her door in her room in Dorman Hall.
In October 1962, President Kennedy was informed by aircraft spies that Soviet nuclear missiles were placed within Cuba, sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis. Not only were crisis plans in an event of a nuclear disaster methodically and rapidly developed, the nursing students in the state of Florida were being trained within their programs for emergency care in an event of a nuclear attack within Florida.
Although most of America views the Cuban Missile Crisis as a tragedy that never occurred, White stated that the reality of a nuclear attack was very much a possibility and the State of Florida would have actual drills for its nursing students to aid the masses of victims if such a crisis did occur. In the article, it refers to nursing students collaborating in a “disaster drill” for a plane crash, when in reality they were being prepped for the first nuclear war that the world had ever experienced.
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.
The Florida County and City Histories Collection comprises two boxes of essays written by students at the Florida State College for Women in 1922 and 1923. These essays consist of research into the history and culture of certain cities and counties across the state of Florida from Dade County, to Jacksonville, to Pensacola. The essays provide an interesting glimpse into the methods of 1920s academic writing, whereby papers were researched without the convenience of the Internet and were written by hand, absent of formatting, style guides, and citations. This collection is now digitized and available through the FSU Digital Library.
In order to digitally scan the Florida County and City Histories Collection the ties and brads that bound the essays together had to carefully and meticulously be removed so as not to damage the nearly century-old documents. This practice, the delicate removal of hardware and binding materials, is part of a process aptly called processing, in which the archivist takes steps to ensure the preservation of the archival documents.
Once the ties and hardware were removed from the essays the individual pages were ready to be digitized. In the cultural heritage field, we use a fancy word called digitization to refer to the digital photographing or scanning and online presentation of physical materials. In this case, the records were scanned on a state-of-the-art flatbed scanner (which is worth more than my car) in order to capture high quality images in a short amount of time.
In order to provide access to the images of the essays online, one of the most important steps of digitization is collecting and organizing the metadata. Metadata, in my opinion, is a scary word that refers to the abstract concept of information about information. In all reality, metadata is the set of data that describes a piece of information. In this case the piece of information is the essay and the data describing it includes details such as the language it was written in and size of the paper. After organizing the metadata into a spreadsheet it is then converted into a code, presumably by means of magic or sorcery, by the Metadata Librarian.
The last step of digitization is to gather up all the metadata code and the digital images into a queue that is uploaded onto the Digital Library’s server and arranged according to the instructions in the code. Because the magical code tells all the little bits of information how to look and how to behave, the text and images appear in a way that is ergonomically and aesthetically pleasing to the viewer.
And that’s the behind the scenes of the digitization process. Check out the Florida County and City Histories to evaluate for yourselves!
Britt Boler is currently the graduate assistant for FSU’s Special Collections & Archives division.