Tag Archives: gloria jahoda

Meet Gloria Jahoda

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.

img_20170223_105153.jpgMy 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.

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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.

To learn more about the Gloria Jahoda Papers, the finding aid can be found here.

Gloria Jahoda

Gloria Jahoda, an author and Florida historian, was born on October 6, 1926, in Chicago, Illinois. She earned a B.A. in English in 1948 and an M.A. in Anthropology in 1950, both from Northwestern University. She retired in 1957 to write full time after teaching anthropology at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.  In 1963, she and her husband Gerald moved to Tallahassee when he accepted a teaching position at Florida State University’s School of Library Training and Service. Her non-fiction works include the The Other Florida (1967), a social and natural history of the West Florida Panhandle; Trail of Tears (1976), an account of the uprooting of Indians in the Southeast; The Road to Samarkand: Frederick Delius and His Music (1969); and The River of the Golden Ibis (1973), about the Hillsborough River. This book was named by the Society of Midland Authors as the “Best History Book” of 1973.

From Florida Collection, F316.2 J3
From Florida Collection, F316.2 J3

In honor of  Women’s History Month, I wanted to feature this author since The Other Florida, is a favorite book of mine. I read it before I lived in North Florida but read it again after I moved here, which made it all the more interesting. We have books written by her in our Florida Collection, and we also have  manuscript collections that have been either donated by her or by her husband. Included in the manuscript collections are biographical information, family and personal papers, correspondence, writings, photographs, galley proofs, and original book jacket designs.

Earlier book jacket design, Gloria Jahoda Papers, Box 317
Earlier book jacket design, Gloria Jahoda Papers, Box 317

Ms. Jahoda was president of the Tallahassee Historical Society and was elected as a registrar of the Creek Indian nation. In 1973, the Florida Senate passed a resolution honoring her for her works depicting the history and culture of Florida. In 1975, she was presented with the D.B. McKay Award by the Tampa Historical Society for her contributions to Florida history.

The last paragraph of The Other Florida ends with this: “The Other Florida’s pines will survive too, I think. Often among them I remember the person I was before I came to them and what I thought was important then, and the landscapes I have since known, and the history I have since learned, and the friends I have since made. Whatever the fates may take me in the years to come, I shall not be the same again”.