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.
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.
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.
This valentine is found in the scrapbook of Florida State College for Women student Marion Laura Stine and dates to circa 1917-1921.
This valentine is found in the scrapbook of Florida State College for Women student Annie Gertrude Gilliam and dates to circa 1925-1931.
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!
Scrapbooks are one of the best time capsules an archives may hold in its collections. These books, some giant, some small, were put together with care and love by the people who were actively looking to document and save their history as it was happening. Here at FSU, we hold dozens of scrapbooks that students have put together over the years, showing what student life was like on campus but also what was happening outside of FSU in the wider world that was affecting them as they worked on their degree.
Today, I share a very different kind of scrapbook. In partnership with the Havana History & Heritage Society in Havana, Florida, we digitized and described seven large scrapbooks kept by the Home Extension Services agent in Gadsden County, Florida from 1916 until 1961. These books showcase the work of 4-H clubs and women’s groups throughout some of the toughest years this rural Florida county faced during the Great Depression and into World War II.
As a 21st century woman through and through, I marvel at the skills these children and women had to grow, preserve and produce the food, clothing and other resources they and their families needed during these years. Looking at the photos included in these books, what they called a “garden” was actually a small-scale farm. This was brought home to me especially when I found a FSU connection. It seems, in the 1930s, Florida State College for Women (FSCW), what FSU was called until 1947, often bought produce and their Thanksgiving turkeys from the Extension Services in Gadsden County. Which means, these small farms, helmed by women by the looks of it in the scrapbooks, were producing enough for themselves, their community and then some!
Take a look at these scrapbooks and some photographs that we digitized as part of this project with the Havana History & Heritage Society. I look forward to working with more community groups in our region to continue to bring to light the history and work of the people in Big Bend Region through partnerships like this one.
While many of us no longer create traditional scrapbooks and rely on digital solutions in the form of Pinterest, Facebook, and Flickr, there are still many examples from the long history of scrapbooking that need special care. At Heritage Protocol & University Archives, we use a variety of methods to preserve our large collection. We choose the best way to preserve while trying to maintain the original look and feel for the viewer.
Some scrapbooks have a multitude of types of materials that need extra consideration. In the over 100 scrapbooks created by the Florida State College for Women and FSU alumni, we have found things such as bones, hair, fabric, dolls, jewelry, flowers and other plants, along with paper based memorabilia. This scrapbook has varnished wood covers that require special handling and usually a sturdy box.
If the scrapbook is in relatively good condition (clean of obvious dirt and debris, dry, no mold, or obvious insect activity) wrapping gently, and/or boxing and storing in a cool dry place is a simple way to preserve.When tying with linen tape, we are careful not to tie so tightly that the covers or pages are damaged at the edges.
Interleaving pages containing photographs and other items with buffered or at least acid free paper can also provide stabilization. Cutting the sheet to fir the page and gently tucking it in works well.
With photographs, a properly cut piece of buffered or acid free paper can be slid under it to create a barrier between it and the paper it rests on. There is still the matter of the photo corners, but some separation is better than none.
If many additional sheets are needed, the spine of the scrapbook may not accommodate the extra pages. Scrapbooks that are too large, over-stuffed with objects (anything that exceeds the capacity of the binding) may need to be separated into parts, and either wrapped or boxed in sections to keep fragile items and brittle paper from falling apart.
For albums with pages that are falling apart or otherwise in bad condition (bugs, mold, etc.) it may be wise to document the pages through scanning, photocopying, or photographing, and then remove as many items as possible and preserve them individually. Documenting the original order and other details of the pages preserves the context of items and the overall creation of the scrapbook, especially if there are notations or other items to preserve that cannot be removed easily. One method for removing old photos from paper and magnetic pages (sticky, striped backing), very gently saw back and forth with fine, waxed dental floss.
These procedure are great tips for preserving your own scrapbooks, however removing items involves tools, patience, and a steady hand. The first rule of thumb with archival materials is to “do no harm.” If you aren’t sure what to do or aren’t comfortable with some of the more aggressive techniques, simply stabilizing your scrapbook is best (see interleaving and wrapping). If you are more daring, practice on something you aren’t attached to first.
Currently on display in the Strozier Library Exhibit Room, “That I May Remember: The Scrapbooks of Florida State College for Women (1905-1947)” is an exhibit focusing on the scrapbooks made by the students of Florida State College for Women. See our original announcement here.
Now, we are proud to present an online extension of our exhibit. The FSCW scrapbooks are rich with history and full of personality. However, one of the challenges in displaying a scrapbook in an exhibit is that it can only display one page of each scrapbook. This limitation makes it difficult to get the full depth of the scrapbook. The online portion of “That I May Remember” takes an in-depth look at six selected scrapbooks. The online exhibit includes over ninety images from each of the decades between the 1910s and the 1940s, while also providing additional history about some of the unique traditions of FSCW.
You can find the online portion of “That I May Remember” here.
And don’t forget to visit the Strozier Library Exhibit Room to see the scrapbooks in person!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Text provided by Gina Woodward
Photographs by Burt Altman, Liz Johnson, Gina Woodward, and Kat Bell
On Saturday, March 19, 2011, Florida State University Libraries Special Collections and Archives and Heritage Protocol hosted the Back-Stage Pass event for the Women for Florida State University (FSU).
The Women for FSU is an organization for women who share a passion for Florida State University. The members span multiple generations and diverse backgrounds, but they are united by the desire to support the university in whatever way they can. Members choose their level of involvement and join in activities as their schedules permit.
Over 85 women participated in the Back-Stage Pass event. As they arrived, they were greeted by Julia Zimmerman, Dean of the University Libraries. The groups were then divided up, with half of the participants visiting Heritage Protocol while the other half visited Special Collections, then switching between locations.
Sammie Morris, Associate Dean for Special Collections and Digital Initiatives, spoke to the participants about the wide variety of rare books and manuscripts available for research in Special Collections. Several examples from the collection were on display, including a signed copy of The Chimney Corner by Harriet Beecher Stowe, books on women’s rights, women in Southern literature, women’s efforts during World War I and World War II, and women’s education. The display included a 15th century handwritten and illuminated manuscript created by nuns in Venice, Italy. Additional manuscripts included letters from Helen Keller and Harriet Beecher Stowe; scrapbooks of Betty Wood McNabb, a 1930 Florida State College for Women (FSCW) alumna and pilot; and a lengthy handwritten oration on poetry delivered by Lucile Gregory at FSCW in 1911.
Dr. Christie Koontz, a faculty member in FSU’s College of Information and an expert on marketing and storytelling, served as a guest speaker at the event. Dr. Koontz read an excerpt from Lucile Gregory’s 1911 oration and talked about the serendipity of archival research, in particular how connections can be made with archival material that lead to the creation of new knowledge. The audience shared Dr. Koontz’s awe that Lucile Gregory gave her award-winning 11-page oration entirely by memory, as was the custom at FSCW at the time.
Dick Puckett, who along with Ed Franklin made up the famous Florida State University Flying Seminoles, also served as a guest speaker. The Flying Seminoles performed in Native American costumes, and had unusual baton twirling dance routines with the Marching Chiefs and at other events. He spoke about his memories of FSU and the personal items he has donated to Heritage Protocol, a university-wide organization dedicated to collecting and preserving FSU history. Visitors to Heritage Protocol were able to view historical photographs of FSU and FSCW, as well as yearbooks, documents, and memorabilia.