Tag Archives: florida state college for women

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.



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.



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.)

Rabindranath Tagore Collection

Tagore picture 2Rabindranath Tagore was an eminent scholar and prolific Indian writer in the latter half of the Nineteenth-Century and first half of the Twentieth-Century.  He was born at Jorasanko, Calcutta, India on May 7, 1861.  At an early age he showed promise as a writer, specifically of poetry. Rabindranath went on to write over 3000 poems, 2000 songs (including the Indian National Anthem), 8 novels, 40 volumes of essays, and 50 plays.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913 for his most famous work Gitanjali (Song Offerings), which was published in 1910.

In 1906, Rabindranath sent his son, Rathindranath, to the University of Illinois at Urbana to study agriculture.  In 1912-1913, Rabindranath spent time himself at the University of Illinois where he became friends with Professor Arthur Seymour and his wife Mayce.  Dr. Seymour was the head of the University of Illinois’ International Studies program.  In 1926, Dr. Seymour became a professor of French at the Florida State College for Women and served as Head of the Department of Modern Foreign Languages until 1946.

In 1982, The Tagore Collection was donated to Special Collections by the estate of Marion Jewell Hay.  Marion Hay became a professor of education at Florida State College for Women in 1929 and retired from Florida State University in 1967.

Tagore letter
Letter from Rabindranath Tagore to Mayce Seymour, December 27, 1955. Box 1158, folder 2.

The majority of the correspondence in the collection is between Rabindranath and Professor Seymour and his wife, as well as other friends and family.  Also included in the collection are biographical materials related to Rabindranath’s life in India and the United States, photographs, articles, periodicals, and artwork.  To view the finding aid, click here.

Rabindranath died when he was eighty years old on August 7, 1941, at Jorasanko, Calcutta, India.  He is remembered as a poet, musician, artist, philosopher, mystic, and teacher.

“STRAY birds of summer come to my window to sing and fly away.  And yellow leaves of autumn, which have no songs, flutter and fall there with a sigh.”
Verse 1, Stray Birds by Rabindranath Tagore, translated from Bengali to English by the author,  New York: The Macmillan Company, 1916.

Annie Gertrude Gilliam: Reflections of a Student’s Life in the 1920s

Gertrude Gilliam at the Florida State College for Women campus.

Annie Gertrude Gilliam was a Florida State College for Women student, Class of 1929.  She earned her BS in education, was a member of the Young Women’s Christian Association, and a sister in Phi Mu sorority.  Heritage Protocol recently acquired her scrapbook, which documents her time as a student at FSCW, from her freshman year in 1925 through to her graduation four years later.  Gertrude, as she was known to her friends, annotated the scrapbook with her day to day thoughts and opinions, capturing both her fun-loving personality and her experiences at FSCW.

As a student, Gertrude and her friends frequently hiked in and around Tallahassee.  Those “little strolls” sometimes took her and her friends as far as nine miles!  While traversing the area, they often enjoyed chewing gum, which was strictly forbidden by the FSCW administration.  She claimed to have no idea how the gum fell into her hands.

Gertrude, always fashionable, on one of her “little strolls.”

Gertrude loved entertainment and frequently caught the latest and most popular plays, movies, and musical performances.  Her tongue-in-cheek wit was occasionally revealed in her reviews, such as after one disappointing comedy performance when she proclaimed that “no one was responsible for laughing.”  While it was customary for FSCW students to be accompanied by a chaperone when leaving campus, she and her friends sometimes attended shows without one.

Gertrude’s close friend and sophomore roommate, Dorothy Brown, had her own car that she brought to school, which was affectionately known as “the pet.”  Dorothy would take Gertrude and their other friends out on “Sunday drives,” in and around town.  The notion of the car breaking down and leaving them stranded was of some concern to Gertrude, but she never let those fears hinder their mini adventures.

Gertrude and “the gang” traveled in style thanks to Vogue, the Tallahassee shop where a girl went when she was in the mood for a new dress or shoes.  Gertrude, a fashion enthusiast, praised Vogue’s payment plan for its shoppers.  Her desirable wardrobe sometimes led to issues with roommates.  On one occasion, her friend left her a note explaining that she had borrowed her brown and red dress.  If Gertrude was upset that she had taken it and wanted it back, the note continued, her friend would be at the dentist.

Gertrude Gilliam (center) and the “Gang” getting ready for one of their Sunday drives.

Gertrude sometimes struggled with her classes and, during her freshman year, failed biology.  She always seemed to be called upon in class to provide some “unheard of date.”  Despite these setbacks, she strove for excellence and worked toward improvement in all aspects of her education.  Her college experience included organized extracurricular activities, such as YWCA and Phi Mu sorority.  She attended campus parties, where her classmates and she would dance the Charleston and eat Baby Ruth candy bars.

Annie Gertrude Gilliam’s scrapbook helps us to understand that while so much has changed since then, many similarities remain between students at Florida State University today and students 80 years ago at the Florida State College for Women.  Although the times appear so much different, Gertrude faced many of the same issues that modern day students do, such as adherence to rules and regulations and roommate problems.  As today, Gertrude pushed the edge of the envelope with the latest trends and established lifelong friendships.

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.

Inez Abernethy: Florida Female College Heroine

Born in Summerville, Arkansas in 1873, Inez Abernethy (or Abernathy) was the head of the Art Department at Florida Female College and Florida State College for Women from 1905 to 1914.  She received her training at the Art Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio and then studied in Europe from 1896 to 1898.  Between 1900 and 1903, she exhibited twice at the Salon Des Artiste Francais, and by invitation at the Academy of Fine Art in Philadelphia, and at the National Academy of Design in New York City.  At various times she taught, and the year before taking her post at Florida Female College, she was an instructor in drawing and painting at the Summer School of the South in Knoxville, Tennessee.

When she accepted the position as instructor in painting and drawing at Florida Female College in August 1905, she was informed by President Albert A. Murphree that the art equipment at the College was meager and inadequate.  As a result, Abernethy brought her own collection of casts, models, drawings and oil paintings, which were used freely by her students.

On December 22, 1906, when West Hall caught fire, Abernethy was serving as the faculty resident or matron on the second floor.  When she learned of the fire, she sounded the alarm and worked tirelessly to wake the girls and get them to safety.  Unfortunately, West Hall burned to the ground, and with it, her collection of materials in the Art Studio was also lost.

In the years after the fire, Abernethy and Murphree petitioned the State Legislature to compensate her for her losses.  In 1909, the State reimbursed Abernethy for the amount of $2,500, half of the amount that she had requested for her lost art materials.  In the same act that granted her these funds, she was recognized for her heroism during the disaster: “there being no man on the campus at the time,” because of “her efforts to save the lives of the girls sleeping in that building, [she] deliberately sacrificed her collection, which she otherwise could have saved.”

Florida State College for Women Art Class, circa 1910-1911

During her tenure at FFC and FSCW, she also served on the the Pan-Hellenic Council and as faculty sponsor for Kappa Delta Sorority.  She left the school in 1914 and moved to New York City where she went on to a successful career as an internationally acclaimed painter.  From October 1935 to January 1939, she was employed in the Easel Division of the Federal Art Project, the visual arts department of the New Deal WPA.  According to an article in a 1941 Flambeau, Abernethy was responsible for the two companion paintings, “May” and “October”, which were then on display in Reynolds Hall.  She died in New York City on January 8, 1956 and is buried at Oakland Cemetery in Warren, Arkansas.

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.