This post was written by Kacee Reguera, an undergraduate senior at FSU pursuing a Studio Art degree in Printmaking, Artist’s Books, and Photography. A love for art preservation and the history of our university led her to an internship with Heritage & University Archives at Special Collections.
During the summer of 2018, we received a collection of items belonging to Katherine W. Montgomery and her family. Katherine Montgomery attended Florida State College for Women from 1914 to 1918 and became heavily involved in athletics. She was on the varsity team of several sports, a member of the F-Club, and the sports editor for The Florida Flambeau. In 1920, she began teaching Physical Education at Florida State College for Women (FSCW) and spent over 30 years leading the Physical Education department. She developed curriculum for the intramural athletics program at FSCW, spearheaded the construction of a new gymnasium, and even published a book titled “Volleyball for Women”. Katherine Montgomery’s contributions to our university have proved timeless. We used this collection as an opportunity to commemorate her lasting effect on our university.
The collection contains items belonging to three generations of Montgomery family members. Katherine had two younger sisters that also attended FSCW during the 1920s. The collection includes diaries and scrapbooks belonging to each of them. These items brought to light how involved with FSCW the Montgomery family really was.
This collection was gathered over time by Edwin F. Montgomery, Katherine’s nephew. Many of the items in the collection are ephemera relating to Katherine’s passing. These items provide a much broader understanding of the impact Katherine had not only on her community, but also on individuals.
With the new items acquired from this collection and some from previously held collections, we curated an exhibit in the Norwood Reading Room at Strozier Library that forms a better understanding of Katherine’s values and ideals, as well as her contributions to Florida State College for Women and Florida State University. The exhibit features Katherine’s original mortarboard and tassel, excerpts from her diaries and notebooks, and awards she received.
The Norwood Reading Room is located on the second floor of Strozier Library and is open Monday-Thursday, 10am to 6pm and on Fridays 10am to 5:30pm. Please stop by to see the new exhibit!
The University Historian at the University of Florida recently contacted us with an interesting research request regarding Florida State College for Women. In his research, the University Historian found evidence that a woman, Mary Alexander Daiger, graduated from the University of Florida in 1920. This is odd because, in 1905, Florida passed the Buckman Act, which designated UF as the state university for male students. The same act designated FSU’s predecessor institution, Florida State College for Women, as the state university for female students. It wasn’t until 1947 that both schools became fully coeducation. Daiger was able to graduate from UF pre-coeducation because of the Summer School Act, which in 1913, brought summer courses under the control of the state university system. By design, these courses were coeducational and allowed for men and women to attend either university during the summer.
Given the shared history and similar circumstances of UF and FSU, the University Historian wondered if there was ever a male graduate of Florida State College of Women.
Heritage & University Archives staff began looking through summer issues of the student newspaper, the Florida Flambeau. While reading the articles, it became apparent that male students were definitely taking advantage of the classes offered. Staff members of the Flambeau reported on how many male students were on campus, where they were located after they were allowed to stay in the dorms and any humorous encounters that resulted from their presence. But for the most part, names of the male students weren’t listed in those articles.
During the summer issues for several years, the Flambeau listed all of the students eligible for graduation for that semester. Unfortunately, we ran into a major problem at this juncture, because the Flambeau did not list whether the student was male or female. We chose, based on name, the most likely students to be male and sent the names along to the Office of the Registrar to see if any of them did, in fact, graduate.
When the Registrar replied, we learned that our process for selecting names was as inaccurate as we thought. Some of the candidates had sorority affiliations listed on their records and so were crossed off our list. More often, the candidate for graduation did not actually graduate. However, we were able to confirm that there was at least one male graduate of Florida State College for Women: Clarence Patrick Priest. Priest earned his Masters of Arts in Education in 1938 from Florida State College for Women. He stayed on to teach at the school after his graduation.
Know of any other men who graduated from Florida State College for Women? We’d love to know about any of our other graduates. You can contact the Heritage & University Archivist at email@example.com.
Florida State: Traditions through the Eras is an exhibit that traces back some of Florida State University’s most well-known traditions through the institution’s long history. What we now know as FSU has gone through many changes over the years: beginning as the Seminary West of the Suwannee River, then the Florida State College, Florida State College for Women, and finally Florida State University. Many of the symbols and practices we know today, like the school colors or the university seal, have been carried over through these iterations, evolving with the institution itself.
The exhibit is divided into four main categories: Seals, Torches, and Owls; School Colors & Honors Societies; Music & Marching; and Camp Flastacowo & the FSU Reservation. The digital exhibit further separates the School Colors and Honors Societies into two groups. More information regarding each category can be found on their respective digital exhibit pages.
The materials in this exhibit were curated in collaboration with Women for FSU. As part of their Backstage Pass program, members get a behind-the-scenes look at how things are done at FSU. Because of this collaboration, the process of putting the exhibit together was somewhat unique: instead of researching a wide number of potential materials and only gathering a select few, we gathered a wide number of materials, from which the members would be able to pick and choose their favorites. The exhibit you see today is made up of those choices. Gathering dozens of items from all over Special Collections and Archives was quite an undertaking, but getting a glimpse into the development of FSU over its existence made it a worthwhile one.
After the event, the time came to put together a digital version of the exhibit. While the physical version is ultimately limited by space, the digital exhibit could incorporate basically every item that we had initially gathered. That being said, incorporating all of those items digitally meant a lot of digitization. Through a combination of scanning and photography, the digital exhibit now contains approximately fifty of the items gathered to reflect FSU traditions past and present.
The azaleas and dogwoods are in bloom, thunderstorms have started rolling through in the afternoon, and sunbathers and hammock dwellers have returned to their regular spots on Landis Green, which can only mean one thing: spring has arrived in Tallahassee! While the weather and native plant life hasn’t changed much in the past 70 years, fashion sure has. Take a look at some FSCW Easter styles, which in true southern fashion was all about white shoes and big hats.
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.
We are excited to announce that a set of Florida State College for Women (FSCW) Student Government Bulletins are now available in the Digital Library! Bulletins were distributed yearly to each student and outlined the rules and regulations of campus, and now provide a glimpse into the life of FSCW students throughout the early 20th century. Prior to becoming Florida State University (FSU) in 1947, the Florida State College for Women was a bastion for educating women and encouraging them to live well-rounded lives, embodying the concept of femina perfecta (the perfect woman).
The majority of the bulletins contain standard rules and practices that most students would expect nowadays, but some of the guidelines read downright draconian compared to modern standards. In a 1925-26 bulletin, the “Decorum” section states that “quiet, ladylike demeanor is expected at all times and in all places.” Students weren’t allowed to dry their hair in front of buildings, attend dances, play cards, roll down their stockings below their knees (or wear pants!), smoke, and could only pick flowers on Mondays. On Sundays, church attendance was required, and “pianos and other musical instruments are not to be played… except as on other days, fifteen minutes before and fifteen minutes after meal time.” In that span of 30 minutes, don’t even think about playing rag or jazz music!
This post was originally published February 13, 2015.
Much has been written about letters sent during World War II – movies and books chronicle the stories of undelivered correspondence found decades later, letters between young lovers parted by an ocean, advice from mothers and fathers to their sons. Last fall, Heritage Protocol and University Archives were excited to acquire a collection of letters and photographs sent by FSCW student Frances Isaac to her deployed fiance, Herbert Dotter. From 1944 through ’47, Frances “Frannie” Isaac sent hundreds of letters to her fiance who was stationed in Liberia during WWII.
Frances started school at FSCW in 1943, and worked as an attache for the press in the Florida Legislator. She was an introvert, and often expressed in her letters that she preferred the solitude of studying in the library to gossiping with her classmates. In a letter from 1944, Frances wrote that she felt “pretty disgusted with the girls,” describing how her peers would gather at the gates of campus to talk to young military personnel. Many of the letters document the mundane, recounting what she ate for dinner that night, the new dresses she’d bought, difficult homework assignments. In some letters, she would talk about the multiple health ailments she faced, like a pulled tooth she had in 1946.
The binding theme throughout all of the letters, however, was the future of their relationship. In earlier letters, Frances would gush with love for Herbert, soliloquies filled with plans for their marriage and how she felt when she thought about him. But by 1947, her letters had become increasingly antagonistic until she eventually called things off. In a letter from March 1947, Frances compared their relationship to that with her father, explaining that the unconditional love Herbert showed her reminded her of the way her father treated her: “I can’t marry you – it would be like marrying my own father.” A few letters later, with a returned engagement ring, Frances tells Herbert about how she met someone new: “we’re like two lost souls adrift in an ocean who understand the fears hopes, frustration and desires of the other.”
Unfortunately, we only have half of the narrative from this epic love story. Not much is known about Frances Isaac after she graduated from FSCW. Herbert Dotter eventually married someone else, and passed away at the age of 92 in 2009.
FSU’s campus during Thanksgiving is usually pretty quiet – students and staff are visiting their families over the break, or maybe traveling for the annual FSU vs. UF game, or others might be holed up in their dorm room and getting an early start on studying for finals. However, at FSCW, Thanksgiving week was bustling with events, which included presentations, band drills, a dance, and culminated with Florida State’s original rivalry – the annual Odd-Even basketball game. Festivities surrounding Thanksgiving became so enormously popular that college officials designated the entire week as Homecoming in 1926.
The first event, a tradition that started in 1913, was the Color Rush. At the beginning of the week, selected students would race around the school and “capture” buildings by affixing ribbons in their class colors to the highest point (and later on, the front doors, due to safety concerns). Odd class colors were red, white, and purple, and the Even classes adopted green and gold.
The fountain at Westcott was designated “Forever Odd,” because it was gift from the 1915 and 1917 classes. Similarly, the entrance arch was declared “Forever Even,” and was gifted by the classes of 1916 and 1918. The Color Rush began at the morning bell, and traditionally Dr. Ralph Bellamy would start the race not with a whistle, but his shotgun – ready, set, BOOM!
Many of the events revolved around the intense rivalry between the Odds and Evens, the groupings of the odd and even graduating classes. Each side developed their own songs, cheers, and even had their own honorary societies – Spirogira (Odd) and Esteren (Even). Elaborate student productions, called demonstrations, were held by each group, complete with costumes, musical numbers, and dancing.
Nothing was more popular than the Odds vs. Evens basketball game. This event, one of the few times that women at the school could participate in athletic competition (as FSCW officials did not think competitive sports were ladylike), became so popular that in 1924 Katherine Montgomery added a volleyball game to the day’s activities. Thanksgiving activities culminated with a dinner on Thursday night. Admission to the dinner cost about $1 for students, and was an elaborate feast that was enjoyed by all.
We here at FSU Special Collections & Archives wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday. We will be closed Thursday, November 27 and Friday, November 28. We resume our normal operating hours on December 1.
Happy Halloween from FSU Special Collections! The students at FSCW loved a good costume, and didn’t feel the need to wait until Halloween to dress up, often getting gussied up for class demonstrations, club initiations, or just because they wanted to have some fun. Please enjoy some photographs of FSCW students in costume!
If you like these photographs, be sure to check out our latest exhibit “That I May Remember: Scrapbooks of the Florida State College for Women 1905-1947” in the Special Collections & Archives Gallery, open Monday-Friday 10AM-6PM.
The Special Collections & Archives graduate assistants, Rebecca L. Bramlett and I, are busy preparing for the opening of our exhibit next Wednesday, October 15th. “That I May Remember: the Scrapbooks of Florida State College for Women (1905-1947)” showcases many of the scrapbooks from the Heritage Protocol & University Archives’ collections and explores the scrapbook as a means of communication, focusing on the themes of school spirit, friendship, and creating self. With each scrapbook we opened, Rebecca and I were struck by the way the unique personalities of the women of FSCW jumped off the pages at us. As a whole, the FSCW scrapbooks provide an invaluable insight into what student life was like at one of the largest women’s colleges in the country – a college with rigorous academics, zealous sporting traditions, vibrant community life, and even secret societies. Individually, they present a visual narrative of each student’s college journey, as seen through her own eyes. Which got me thinking… As a means of creating and communicating self, the FSCW scrapbooks operate in much the same way that popular forms of social media do for students today.
Wall posts, friends, messages, memes, event invitations, and “likes” – these conventions are not reserved for the twenty-first century. Many of the FSCW scrapbooks, like Laura Quayle Benson’s (pictured right), contain autograph pages signed by the scrapbook creator’s friends. Like a Facebook wall, these pages list a person’s friends along with personal notes from each of them. Some of the notes seem to be the generic words of a passing acquaintance (“With best wishes”), while others are rich with suggestions of inside jokes (“I love Laura ‘heaps’ – I wonder if (?) does?”). The scrapbooks are full of other forms of communication between friends and family – letters, notes, calling cards, package slips, greeting cards, and telegrams. Invitations to join sports teams, honor societies, and sororities are given pride of place as signs of belonging to a group, and collections of event programs read like a personal news feed of where each girl was on a given date. Flipping through the FSCW scrapbooks is a bit like scrolling through each girl’s Facebook wall. It gives one a sense of who she was at a certain point in her life – who she was friends with, what she did, what her interests were – even if the deeper, more personal meanings of the scrapbooks are sometimes obscured from the outside observer.
Tumblr and Pinterest
Creating a scrapbook is an act of curation – carefully selecting texts and images and arranging them in a meaningful way. Although the creators of scrapbooks manipulate physical objects, users of sites like Pinterest and Tumblr use digital media to create collections of text, image, video, and sound meant to express something of themselves. The scrapbook of Annie Gertrude Gilliam (pictured left) contains many excellent examples of well-curated pages. Her clippings from advertisements, theater bills, and magazines are carefully arranged and replete with lively commentary (“A real knock out,” “Exciting and thrilling to the end”). These pages speak of a timeless need to organize our thoughts, express ourselves visually, and voice our opinions, whether in a private scrapbook or a public webpage.
Photographs are a common feature of almost all of the FSCW scrapbooks, and many of these photos include captions written by the scrapbook’s creator, such as those by Jewell Genevieve Cooper (pictured right). Photos in scrapbooks are, in a sense, “tagged” by the scrapbook creator. Jewell Genevieve Cooper’s “tags” tell us what the photos are of (an Odd-Even baseball game, one of FSCW’s wildly popular inter-school rivalries) and who is in them. These social layers added to photographs in scrapbooks are similar to the tags and descriptions users add to photos in social media sites like Instagram. Even though a picture says a thousand words, we can’t seem to resist adding our own words anyway.
The FSCW scrapbooks give a unique window into student life as told by the students themselves. While the scrapbooks present plenty of cataloging and preservation challenges for archivists, they are at least physical objects that can be stored and displayed as such. Students today are also telling their own stories, but they are doing so through social media sites like Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram. How these stories will be preserved and shared with future generations remains to be seen and is a question beyond the scope of this blog post. In the meantime, “That I May Remember: the Scrapbooks of Florida State College for Women (1905-1947)” will be on display in the Strozier Library Exhibit Space from October 15th through December 1st.
Katherine Hoarn is a graduate assistant in Special Collections & Archives. She is working on her Master of Library and Information Science degree at Florida State University.