Tag Archives: florida state college for women

Spring Fashion at FSCW

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.

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My Easter Hat, Mary Tarver Willis Photograph Collection (HP 2009-043), 1948-1951.

Continue reading Spring Fashion at FSCW

Florida County and City Histories Collection Online

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Jefferson County Florida or the Monticello Section written by Ida Meriweather.

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.

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Page from Jefferson County or the Monticello Section written by Ida Meriweather.

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.

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Page from Jefferson County or the Monticello Section written by Ida Meriweather.

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.

FSCW Student Government Bulletins are now available in the FSUDL!

Bulletin of the Student Government Association of the Florida State College for Women and Official Circular of Information of College Customs and Regulations, 1923-1924
Bulletin of the Student Government Association of the Florida State College for Women and Official Circular of Information of College Customs and Regulations, 1923-1924

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).

Marjorie Fogarty and Janie Mattison smoking cigarettes with rolled up pants, two prohibited activities (Marjorie Fogarty Lee Collection, HP 2007-014)
Marjorie Fogarty and Janie Mattison smoking cigarettes with rolled up pants, two prohibited activities (Marjorie Fogarty Lee Collection, HP 2007-014)
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!
The FSCW Student Government Bulletins can be viewed in the FSU Digital Library. To see more photographs, ephemera, and artifacts related to the history of Florida State, check out the FSU Heritage Protocol Digital Collections or like the Heritage Protocol Facebook page.

With All My Love: The Frances Isaac Letters, 1944-1947

This post was originally published February 13, 2015.

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Frances Isaac writing a letter to her fiance Herbert Dotter, ca. 1945.

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.

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Notes written on the back of a photograph, ca. 1945.

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.”

Inside of Valentine's Day Card, 1947
Inside of Valentine’s Day Card, 1947

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.

To see more photographs, ephemera, and artifacts related to the history of Florida State, check out the FSU Heritage Protocol Digital Collections or like the Heritage Protocol Facebook page.

Thanksgiving at FSCW

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Schedule of events during Thanksgiving week (1941)

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.

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Programs from Even Demonstrations
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Programs from Odd Demonstrations

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!

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Three Women in Baby Costumes (Even Demonstrations) (Betty and Katharine Autrey Collection, 1932)
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Odd Demonstration (Heritage Protocol General Photograph Collection, circa 1926-1927)

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.

Odd-Even Game (Thanksgiving) (Elizabeth and Katharine Autrey Collection, 1930)
Odd-Even Game (Thanksgiving) (Elizabeth and Katharine Autrey Collection, 1930)

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.

Various Thanksgiving Week programs
Various Thanksgiving Week programs (circa 1930-1941)

To see more photographs, ephemera, and artifacts related to the history of Florida State, check out the FSU Heritage Protocol Digital Collections or like the Heritage Protocol Facebook page.

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 Special Collections

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!

Women in Flower Costumes (Heritage Protocol Photograph Collection, circa 1920s)
Women in Flower Costumes (Heritage Protocol Photograph Collection, circa 1920s)
Woman in Costume (Even Demonstrations) (Elizabeth and Katharine Autrey Collection, 1931-1999)
Woman in Costume (Even Demonstrations) (Elizabeth and Katharine Autrey Collection, 1931-1999)
Gladys Martin in Queen of Hearts Costume (Gladys Martin Black Collection, circa 1914-1918)
Gladys Martin in Queen of Hearts Costume (Gladys Martin Black Collection, circa 1914-1918)
Cornelia Watson, Carolyn Mims, and Joan Kennedy in Wizard of Oz Costumes at Odd Demonstration (L. Janet Wells Scrapbook, 1938-1942)
Cornelia Watson, Carolyn Mims, and Joan Kennedy in Wizard of Oz Costumes at Odd Demonstration (L. Janet Wells Scrapbook, 1938-1942)
Lucile Pyles and Catherine Goode in Costume (Mary Cobb Nelson Scrapbook, 1923-1928)
Lucile Pyles and Catherine Goode in Costume (Mary Cobb Nelson Scrapbook, 1923-1928)
Unidentified Girl in Ballet Costume (Marion Laura Stine Collection, 1917-1921)
Unidentified Girl in Ballet Costume (Marion Laura Stine Collection, 1917-1921)
Unidentified Girl in Armenian Costume (Marion Laura Stine Scrapbook, 1917-1921)
Unidentified Girl in Armenian Costume (Marion Laura Stine Scrapbook, 1917-1921)

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.

Scrapbooks: the Original Social Media

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.

 

Facebook

Laura Quayle Benson Scrapbook Autograph Page
Autograph page from the Laura Quayle Benson Scrapbook, 1917-1919 (HP-2007-041)

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.

 

Annie Gertrude Gilliam Scrapbook Page
A page from the Annie Gertrude Gilliam Scrapbook, 1925-1931 (HP-2007-121)

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.

 

Instagram

Jewell Genevieve Cooper Scrapbook Page
A page from the Jewell Genevieve Cooper Scrapbook, 1924-1930 (HP-2007-089)

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.

Getting to Know FSCW

For our first project as graduate assistants, Katherine Hoarn and I have been given the unique opportunity to delve into the history and heritage of Florida State University.  From the years 1905 – 1947, Florida State University was Florida State College for Women, one of the largest women’s colleges in the country.  To explore this fascinating aspect of FSU’s past, Katherine and I are putting together an exhibit centered on the scrapbooks of the students of Florida State College for Women. In preparing for this exhibit, I’ve not only learned about proper handling of archival material, but about the heritage of Florida State University.

From the Scrapbook of Jewell Genevieve Cooper, c. 1925 (HP 2007-089)
From the Scrapbook of Jewell Genevieve Cooper, 1925 (HP 2007-089).  See full description here

The first step in deciding how to approach the exhibit was to research the history of Florida State College for Women.  We consulted numerous resources, but my favorites were the primary sources themselves—the scrapbooks. As historical documents, scrapbooks are special.  Each scrapbook is an individual and unique combination of text, photographs and papers.  They are arranged in such a way that the interests and personalities of Florida State College for Women students come through.  It’s also been interesting to see some similar themes and concerns fill the pages of scrapbooks across the forty plus year span of Florida State College for Women.

It would be difficult to choose a “favorite” scrapbook.  As each is unique and individual, they are all remarkable in different ways.  Marion Emerett Colman’s (HP 2007-130, go here for more information) combination of scrapbook and journal gives the reader a glimpse into the triumphs and concerns of an academically minded college sophomore in 1917.

Some scrapbooks delve into current events.  Alberta Lee Davis’s scrapbook devotes pages to the end of World War I.  (Alberta Lee Davis’ scrapbook is currently unprocessed.  This means that it hasn’t yet been assigned an accession number, the number by which Special Collections & Archives will identify the scrapbook.  For the scrapbooks from Heritage Protocol & University Archives, the accession number looks like HP ####-###.  This also means that a finding aid hasn’t yet been created in Archon, the database for searching through the manuscript collections in Special Collections & Archives).

From the scrapbook of Victoria J. Lewis, c. 1940-1944 (HP 2007-079).
From the scrapbook of Victoria J. Lewis, c. 1940-1944 (HP 2007-079). See full description here

The scrapbooks of Jewell Genevieve Cooper (HP 2007-089, go here for more information), with its newspaper clippings and personal photographs gives its viewer a special glimpse into the traditions of Florida State College for Women during the 1920s.

Other scrapbooks, such as that of Victoria J. Lewis (HP 2007-079, go here for more information) shows similar concerns to that of contemporary teenagers, showing us the commonalities between teenager girls at the beginning of the twentieth century and at the beginning of the twenty-first century.  The past really isn’t that distant.

Finding the connections between past and present has been wonderful, as has learning more about the history of Florida State University.

“That I May Remember: The Scrapbooks of Florida State College for Women (1905-1947)” is scheduled to open October 15 – December 1 in the exhibit space in Strozier Library.

Rebecca L. Bramlett is a graduate assistant in the Special Collections & Archives Division.  She is working on her Master of Library and Information Science at Florida State University.  

A Century of Seasons: Early FSU Sports History

Florida State University’s Special Collections presents A Century of Seasons: The History of Florida State Athletics.  Visitors are invited to explore the history of Florida State athletics, which spans over ten decades, from the turn of the century to the modern day.  Beginning in 1905 and ending in 1947 Tallahassee’s campus was a women’s college, then known as Florida State Women’s College (F.S.C.W.).  These forty-years were marked by energetic school spirit, enthusiastic intramural rivalries and vibrant traditions.   A Century of Seasons highlights this age of intramural competition between Odd and Even classes with images, documents and artifacts.

F.S.C.W. intramural teams compete in a basketball game as fans watch from the sidelines.
F.S.C.W.’s 1914 intramural basketball teams compete as fans watch from the sidelines.

Basketball was phenomenally popular during the F.S.W.C years and, arguably, the most anticipated event of the year was the Thanksgiving Day competition.  Photographs of the game and the athletes tell the story of this highly anticipated event and the women who competed in it.  The exhibit also includes photographs and artifacts documenting minor and non-traditional sports played on campus over this period, including archery and an aquatic sport known as prelo.  Wooden dumbbells from the early twentieth century have survived and are displayed next to an image of the tumbling class putting them to use.

A collection of student scrapbooks, which contain unique photographs and ephemera from sporting events and provide a fascinating look at the way athletics, affected the daily lives of students.  Each of the scrapbooks displayed portrays the personality of its owner and the collected photographs, newspaper clippings and ephemera with the scrapbooks shows a unique perspective on the athletes and fans who attended the university when it was yet young.

A Century of Seasons: The History of Florida State Athletics is open from 10am-6pm in the Strozier Exhibit Room until February 2014.

FSCW Traditions – Color Rush

Bryan Hall decorated with Odd Team colors, circa 1917-1921. (Marion Laura Stine Collection, 1917-1921.)
Bryan Hall decorated with Odd Team colors, circa 1917-1921. (Marion Laura Stine Collection, 1917-1921.)

Held on the morning preceding the annual Florida State College for Women’s Thanksgiving Day basketball game, Color Rush first made its campus appearance around 1917. Color Rush was a series of races, by Odd and Even members, in which each team attempted to “capture” campus buildings by affixing their team’s colors to the highest point. The two squads tried to one-up the other, so much so that poles with red, white, and purple or green and gold ribbons extended beyond the rooftops. Later, for safety reasons, the colors were attached to the front doors of major campus buildings and other landmarks. Color Rush officially began with the morning bell, signaling the runners to race out of their dormitory rooms to tag the Administration Building, the Education Building, the dormitories, and other designated target points.

In 1919, it was decreed that the fountain, a gift from the classes of 1915 and 1917, was “forever Odd,” and from then on, only Odd colors of red, purple, and white would adorn it. The entrance arch and brick piers, or main gates, presented to the college by the classes of 1916 and 1918, were declared “forever Even” and reserved for only green and gold from then on. Evens decorated the Dining Hall in even numbered years, and Odds in odd numbered years. As for the other buildings, the possession of the structure was determined by the runner from the side that first touched it.

In 1921, the rules were changed again: from then on, each team selected a runner that lined up in front of Business Manager, John G. Kellum’s house at the corner of Copeland Street and College Avenue, just outside the main gates. From there, the runners raced to the campus buildings where official judges determined the winner. After the objectives were secured for the team, other members helped with the decorating of the buildings. Traditionally, Dr. Ralph Bellamy was the official starter for the Color Rush race for the Administration Building. Instead of using a whistle to start the race, he used his shotgun, with “On your mark, get set.” BOOM! After the event, the campus was said to be radiant with color.

Color Rush, November 25, 1925. (Carolyne Doyle Richardson Scrapbook, circa 1926.)
Color Rush, November 25, 1925. (Carolyne Doyle Richardson Scrapbook, circa 1925-1926.)