Tag Archives: history

Earth Day 50th Anniversary

Today, April 22 2020, is the 50th anniversary of the first celebration of Earth Day. The first Earth Day in 1970 was a major mobilizing event of inestimable historical significance. The event was such a success because it came at the right time as awareness of human effects on the balance of nature was growing. Rachel Carson’s 1962 best-selling book, Silent Spring, laid the groundwork for a growing concern over man’s negative impact on the environment. 1969 was a year rife with high-profile environmental disasters; there was a major oil spill off the coast of southern California and Ohio’s Cuyahoga river caught fire. At the end of the year, concern for the environment rivaled concern for the Vietnam War.

Senator Gaylord Nelson (Wisconsin) announced his intentions for an Earth Day event six months prior to April 1970, which was enough time for the excitement to spread and for countless groups to become involved. A wide range of participants helped to organize Earth Day events and the offerings varied from speeches, teach-ins, movies, workshops, and more. The event inspired lifelong environmentalists and lead to the formation of many new environmental groups, lobbies, and services.

Florida State University participated in the first Earth day with a series of events on Landis Green including speeches, information booths, music, and movies. The theme was “Do Not Ask For Whom the Bell Tolls, It Tolls For Thee.”

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Both photos from the April 22, 1970 edition of the Florida Flambeau. Available digitally at http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_Flambeau_04221970

The immediate effects of Earth Day were significant: the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency, the passing of the Clean Air Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. The power of Earth Day extends beyond the day itself, the momentum gained by the event leant credibility to events that followed and engendered a generation of activists.

The twentieth anniversary celebration of Earth Day in 1990 united people in countries on all seven continents in unprecedented numbers to voice their concerns for environmental issues. Whereas the 1970 celebration was a grassroots effort, the 1990 celebration was run like a political campaign with advisors and consultants and a budget 15 times larger than the original event. The worldwide turnout for Earth Day 1990 was double what the organizers expected, the event united the most participants ever concerned about a single cause. The greatest success of Earth Day 1990 was the worldwide participation and attention it brought to the environmental issues plaguing the entire world. Environmental troubles were no longer simply viewed as the problem of white Americans but as a growing global concern.

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Enter https://fsuearthday50.omeka.net/

Florida State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives and FSU Sustainable Campus are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with the launch of a digital exhibit, Earth Day 50: Environmental Activism at FSU and Beyond. This exhibit was originally curated to be installed as a physical exhibit in Strozier library, but installation was postponed due to covid-19. Changing to a digital platform allows the story of Earth Day and environmental activism at FSU to continue to be shared. Please visit https://fsuearthday50.omeka.net/to learn more about the celebration of Earth Day at FSU, in Florida, and beyond.

Sources:

Cahn, Robert, and Patricia Cahn. “Did Earth Day Change the World?” Environment 32, no. 7 (September 1990): 16–20. https://doi.org/10.1080/00139157.1990.9929039.

Rome, A. “The Genius of Earth Day.” Environmental History 15, no. 2 (2010): 194–205. doi:10.1093/envhis/emq036.

New Exhibit Coming Soon!

March 13, 2020 will be the last day to view the current exhibit in the Special Collections & Archives Exhibit room,  “A Century of Mystery and Intrigue”.

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Our new exhibit, “Earth Day 50”, will be opening in April to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day: April 22, 1970. “Earth Day 50” is a collaborative effort between FSU Sustainable Campus and Special Collections & Archives. The goal of the exhibit is to illustrate the role that prominent figures in FSU and Florida history have played in the environmental movement and highlight environmental activism here at Florida State University in the past 50 years.

Earth Day Activities
Schedule of Events at Florida State University for the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970. Florida Flambeau, April 22, 1970

Keep an eye out for more information about the opening of the new exhibit, as well as events and activities in celebration of Earth Day on campus.

Vintage Valentines in the Archives

Valentine’s Day gained popularity in the United States with the introduction of mass-produced Valentines cards around the middle of the 19th century. Most of these early cards have long since disappeared, but we are fortunate to have many examples of early 20th century valentines here in Special Collections & Archives.

Aside from being a repository for manuscripts and rare books, Special Collections & Archives is also the home of the Heritage & University Archives for Florida State University and its predecessor, the Florida State College for Women (FSCW). A popular pastime for the students of FSCW was to construct scrapbooks full of precious items from their everyday lives. These scrapbooks are full of photos, articles, notes, and other ephemera that provide a snapshot into what life what like at that time. Some even contain valentine cards from the time period. 

Valentine
From the Florence Gregory Walker Collection

This valentine is found in the scrapbook of  Florida State College for Women student Florence Gregory (B.A. Sociology, 1940) and dates to circa 1931-1937.

Antique Valentine
From the Florida State University Melvene Draheim Hardee Center for Women in Higher Education Collection

This valentine is found in the personal files of Dr. Melvene Draheim Hardee. The card is from Dr. Draheim Hardee’s childhood and dates to approximately 1920.

Heart-shaped Valentine
From the Marion L. Stine Collection

This valentine is found in the scrapbook of  Florida State College for Women student Marion Laura Stine and dates to circa 1917-1921.

To My Valentine
From the Annie Gertrude Gilliam Scrapbook

This valentine is found in the scrapbook of  Florida State College for Women student  Annie Gertrude Gilliam and dates to circa 1925-1931.

My Valentine
From the Janet MacGowan West Collection

This valentine is found in the scrapbook of  Florida State College for Women student Janet MacGowan West (BS 1922) and dates to circa 1917-1954.

Wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day from Special Collections & Archives!

Poetic Activism and Ruby Dee

Glowchild, and other Poems, published in 1972, is an anthology of works by black poets on the subjects of “nature, passion, politics, hope, peace, freedom, and other topics, gathered primarily with the inner-city youth in mind” (Catalog Description). The included poems were selected by Ruby Dee, poet, playwright, actress, journalist, and lifelong activist.

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Glowchild, and other Poems

Nature and Poetry

To choose a poem to highlight in this collection is difficult, as they are all worth reading, but following this Year of Poetry month’s theme, Nature and Poetry, we’ll focus on two poems that consider an aspect of nature and use that image to reflect on some of the complexities of human experience. Both poets were high school students. 

I LOVE…

I love, the birds that sing to me in the 
Birth of morning. 
I love, the cold clear water on my skin to wake
My rested face.
I love, walking briskly through the clean 
Crisp noon air. 
I love, to see people being
People together. 
I love, to see love being loved
Don't you?
--- LaVerne Davis, New Rochelle H.S.

“ESCAPE”

Have you ever watched a fly trying to get out a window?
It yearns for the sunshine on its back, and lost freedom. 
It goes back and forth trying to get out. 
Maybe it's trying to tell US something. 
Should WE also try to get out, 
Get back to the outdoors, 
Escape from the prison called civilization?
To where a man is free and doesn't die from 9-5. 
Where he's not boxed in by responsibility. 
Yes, maybe WE also should be looking for the space in the window to Escape.
--- Robert Kaufmann, Albert Leonard Jr. H.S.

In Dee’s introduction to the collection, she stresses the importance of these poems:

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From Dee’s Introduction

American Negro Theater

The anthology is a poetic continuation of Dee’s activist work, and its target audience of “inner-city youth” is near and dear to Dee’s own experience growing up in Harlem in the 30s and 40s. She began her acting career with the American Negro Theater (ANT), a group founded in 1940 when Abram Hill and Frederick O’Neal approached librarians of the Harlem Branch of the New York Public Library system; the librarians offered the group the use of their basement stage and a game-changing theater troupe arose. Eventually, along with Ruby Dee, actors Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte came out of the American Negro Theater. ANT worked to write and produce theater that was thoughtful and radical.

The goals of the American Negro Theater were:

  1. To develop a permanent acting company trained in the arts and crafts of the theatre that also reflected the special gifts, talents, and attributes of African Americans.
  2. To produce plays that honestly and with integrity interpreted, illuminated, and criticized contemporary black life and the concerns of black people.
  3. To maintain an affiliation with, and provide leadership for, other black theatre groups throughout the nation.
  4. To utilize its resources to develop racial pride in the theatre, rather than racial apathy.

(from Wikipedia)

 

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1962 Photo of Dee by Carl Van Vechten, Van Vechten Collection at Library of Congress

Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee is likely best known for her role in the stage and film productions of A Raisin in the Sun, which made its Broadway debut in 1959. Dee played Ruth Younger, the wife and mother of the impoverished Younger family. She became quite famous and popular, but never shied away from participation in political activism, leading her to be blacklisted and harshly criticized at several points in her career.

It is difficult to capture the breadth of Dee’s accomplishments in this space. To learn more about her amazing life and career, you can read a memorial piece, written just after her death, here.

Here is a video of Ruby Dee appearing on the Dick Cavett show in 1970, around the time that she began collecting poems for production in Glowchild, and other Poems.

 Glowchild, and other Poems is a beautiful anthology, filled with poems by young black people writing about their experiences with the harsh realities of life. It’s disappointing to discover that the book was banned in libraries across the states. Dee carefully curated the anthology to incorporate poems that would be useful to young people who identified with the experiences of the writers; to take away access to that experience — and most of these bans took place in public school libraries — is a crime.


Sources:

Rux, Carl Hancock. “Ruby Dee: 1922-2014.” American Theatre, no. 7, 2014, p. 20.

Smith, Jessie Carney and Lean’tin L. Bracks. Black Women of the Harlem Renaissance Era. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014.

 

FSU facts at your fingertips

Have you ever wondered what the average salary of an FSU professor was in 1961? ($8,940). Have you ever been curious to know how many full-time students were enrolled in 1995? (23,950).fsu-factbook.png

This information and much more is available in the FSU Fact Books now available on DigiNole. There’s a wealth of data in these documents from budgetary breakdowns and property valuations to organizational charts and enrollment statistics.

There’s something for everyone in these documents. History buffs can track the administration and governance of the university. Data enthusiasts have huge sets of information they can use track educational and budgetary trends. Many issues also demonstrate the important role alumni play in the success of the university.

All fact books from 1960 to the present are available to explore.