Tag Archives: tallahassee history

Remembering the Tallahassee Bus Boycott at 64

Today marks the 64th anniversary of the Tallahassee Bus Boycott. In the spring of 1956, Florida A&M students Wilhelmina Jakes and Carrie Patterson boarded a Tallahassee bus and took seats of their own choosing. Because these seats were in the “whites only” section of the bus, Jakes and Patterson were arrested by the Tallahassee Police Department, prompting fellow students, citizens and city leaders to take action. The two students were arrested on a Saturday. On Sunday, May 29, the area Ku Klux Klan burned a cross outside of the residence hall where Jakes and Patterson lived. By Monday the 30th, the student body of Florida A&M University convened and voted to boycott the city buses. That evening, a meeting was called by Reverend C.K. Steele to discuss the boycott and seek support from the community, thereby creating the Inter-Civic Council (ICC).

Over the course of the next seven months, the African American community of Tallahassee worked together to support themselves in making their way to work, school and religious services through a carpool service, which was eventually suspended after growing violence over the boycott. On January 1, 1957, Governor LeRoy Collins, himself a Tallahassee native, officially suspended the bus service until segregated seating was removed. However, due to poorly disguised rephrasing of the policy that included seating based on “tranquility and good order”, the bus system in Tallahassee would not truly be desegregated for another year. Those who joined Wilhelmina Jakes, Carrie Patterson and the students of Florida A&M University including Rev. Steele, Daniel Speed, and many others from the then 10,600 African-American residents of Tallahassee, were met with resistance from most white members of the Tallahassee community who felt racial segregation should remain in place.

The voices of many of the participants of the Tallahassee Bus Boycott of 1956 can be accessed through the transcripts available through the FSU Special Collections & Archives department. The Tallahassee Civil Rights Oral History Collection and the Reichelt Oral History Collection provide glimpses into this important moment in Florida, and national history, with researchers being able to read the words of Rev. Speed, King Solomon Dupont, LeRoy Collins, Daniel Speed and others. Though 64 years may feel like a long time, we are not that far removed from the events of the Bus Boycott. With racial tensions still ever present, immersing ourselves in and understanding our history can better help us plan for the future.

An unfortunate reminder of the past. A letter from Edgar S. Anderson urging FSU President Doak S. Campbell to expel any FSU Students involved with the Bus Boycott, 01/21/1957. Office of the President Papers HUA 2018-062 [see original digital object]

Behind the Scenes: Building a Digital Exhibit with Omeka

Like all of you, Covid-19 made an abrupt change to my spring semester. Thankfully, my Digital History class was mostly unaffected because the assignments were already web-based. Our final project had us create a digital exhibit using Omeka.net which is a free platform available from the Roy Rosenzweig Center for New Media. As opposed to a historical approach like my project takes, archivists and librarians sometimes use Omeka differently. Instead of creating an exhibit, they might create digital collections as an online repository for digitized materials.

This link will take you to my digital exhibit “Enslavement and Sharecropping in Tallahassee.”

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I built this exhibit based off the work I did in my internship here in Special Collections & Archives. Even with Covid-19’s disruptions to our work, education, and daily lives, we can still find alternatives like this to help our community access collections and research from home. All the primary sources featured in the exhibit come from our archival manuscript collections highlighted in the Enslavement and Sharecropping Research Guide.

What does creating an Omeka site look like? For starters, FSU Libraries has a guide on the subject. Other then setting up the site, we must decide what goes into it as objects. In this case, I wanted to interpret a wide range of primary sources that shows a narrative of how the Florida Territory introduced enslavement and how it developed over our State’s history. When we load an object into the site, we create metadata that records information about the object itself which you can see in this picture. Below is an example item addition for a sharecropping contract.

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Omeka uses the Dublin Core schema which is relatively simple. The site allows users to input the metadata into labelled text boxes, as you can see above, with the option to use HTML for simple text editing. This is where we give the object a title, describe it, tell users who created it, and provide links to digitized versions when available. We also upload a digital file so that users can look at the material being described and so that we can put it in the exhibit.

Once the objects are loaded and the metadata is created, it’s just a matter of arranging them and then writing the descriptive text for them. For this one, I created sections based on chronology: territorial Florida, Antebellum, Reconstruction, and Civil Rights.

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The exhibit sections are created from different “pages.” In a page, you use “boxes” as a tool to integrate images and text in a variety of options and styles. Within these sections, I arranged the objects chronologically with descriptive text next to each of them. Just like a physical exhibit, this is where we would provide some context on the source or tell our audience what makes it unique and valuable for research. Because this exhibit is historical, it is also where I interpret what we can learn from the primary source.

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Including extant projects like this exhibit and our Research Guides, Special Collections & Archives staff are still available for virtual reference. While our physical spaces remain closed at this time, if you have any questions about accessing our collections, you can get in touch with us via email at lib-specialcollections@fsu.edu. We also have a range of items in our Digital Library that everyone can access remotely.

Community Partner Spotlight: First Baptist Church of Tallahassee

For our second community partner spotlight, I am excited to be able to share newly available materials in the First Baptist Church of Tallahassee (FBCT) digital collection!

Once we completed digitization of the church bulletins, I met with my contacts at the Church for what they wanted to explore for digitization next. A set of photographs, programs and other historical documentation about the Church emerged. I set my contacts to the task of creating some basic description about these materials. As the subject experts, they were the best suited to the task of telling me who was in these photographs or what events they were showing and how they reflected the history of the Church. They did not disappoint! I was very pleased to be able to provide rich metadata for the new materials thanks to the hard work of my volunteer catalogers.

I was particularly happy to see this photograph from the 1940s showing a celebration held in the sanctuary of the Church for recent college graduates, many of whom were probably graduating from Florida State College for Women, FSU’s predecessor institution.

Celebration of Graduates at First Baptist Church, 1940-1950 [see original object]

Another aspect of the Church that this set of materials shares is the work of the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) and its Girls Auxiliary. Around this time of year, a new set of girls would be initiated into the Auxiliary and start their paths to becoming maidens, ladies-in-waiting, princesses and queens for the Auxiliary. It would have been a crowning achievement for these girls as they contributed to their church and local communities to earn their titles. The materials relating to the WMU and Girls Auxiliary share their work over the years to contribute widely to the Church, both locally and around the world.

Please browse all of the FBCT collection in DigiNole to explore the history of the Church, its congregation and how it fits into the wider historical picture of Tallahassee.

Behind the Scenes: Enslaved Lives in the Archives at FSU

Special Collections and Archives spent this summer contributing to two projects centered on the lives of local enslaved people. Currently, we are supporting the Tallahassee History and Human Rights Project. The first phase of this collaborative effort between the Grove Museum, Goodwood Museum & Gardens, the Tallahassee Museum, and the community seeks to better interpret the lives and experiences of the enslaved people that lived on and built the plantations at those sites.

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The Roderick Kirkpatrick Shaw Estate Division of Slaves

To support them, Special Collections & Archives identified manuscript collections, rare books, oral histories, and historic newspapers held at FSU that provide insight on African and African American lives from Territorial Florida to the Great Depression in Tallahassee and surrounding counties. We primarily found plantation records, personal papers, and business records documenting the era of enslavement and sharecropping in the Tallahassee locale. Please join these three museums for a series of tours on Saturday, September 14th that commemorate the lives and experiences of local enslaved people.

Alongside the research done for the Tallahassee History and Human Rights Project, Special Collections and Archives digitized and submitted objects to a collaborative online exhibit curated by the Association of Southeast Research Libraries (ASERL). The exhibit recognizes and commemorates the 400 years since the arrival of enslaved Africans in the United States.

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The Notebook of George Whitfield, a Slave trader in Tallahassee and Leon County. Digital version available here

The exhibit covers five periods: Colonial, American Revolution and Constitution, Antebellum, Civil War, and Twentieth Century. The digital exhibit is slated to debut on the Omeka platform in November. Our contributions, including the Whitfield Notebook to the right, have been digitized and added to our digital library, DigiNole.

Supporting these initiatives led Special Collections and Archives to question how to make our own holdings more visible and accessible. We started with the objects submitted to the ASERL Exhibit and added them to our digital library. The documents below are examples of what we identified that will be digitized in the near future. Alongside digitization, we have begun to incorporate these materials in class visits and aim to include them in research guides. As always, we encourage everyone to visit our reading room to view and work with our collections.

New additions to the digital library documenting enslavement and sharecropping include manuscript and printed sharecropping contracts, the Whitfield Notebook, and the R.F. Van Brunt General Store 1911 Day Book.

Special Collections & Archives welcomes visitors to our reading room on the first floor of Strozier Library Monday-Thursday from 10:00-6:00 and Friday from 10:00-5:30.

Looking back at High School in Tallahassee 1957-1987

Since September of last year, FSU Libraries has partnered with Leon High School, Florida’s oldest continually accredited high school, to digitize their school yearbooks and newspaper and provide access to those materials through the FSU Digital Library. This has been a rewarding community partnership for the Digital Library Center and Special Collections & Archives here at FSU as it has allowed us to work closely with members of the Tallahassee community and also given those of us working on the project, many not Tallahassee natives, a unique view into the life of high schoolers in our city starting in the 1920s.

A page spread from the May 15, 1981, Leon High Life. View entire issue here

A new batch of Leon High School (LHS) newspapers was just loaded into the FSU Digital Library. This set spans from 1957 to 1987 during which our area, and the world, saw a massive amount of growth and change, especially technological change. The 1950s issues sport ads for film-based cameras, record shops, and lunch counter drug stores. Fast forward to the 1980s where cassette tapes, college radio, and computers all enter the high school parlance. Not to mention the cultural and social changes these issues record from the point of view of a high schooler. It is a truly fascinating way to look at the history of Tallahassee, Florida and beyond.

You can browse all the LHS newspaper issues here and look at the entire LHS collection here which includes 80 editions of their yearbook, The Lion’s Tale.

Digitizing Leon High School Newspapers

In collaboration with Leon High School, we just finished digitizing the first batch of their newspapers which date from 1920-1956. As with most collaborative efforts, this was a multi-step process involving several parties and today we’re going to briefly discuss the digitization portion of this project. The goal is to have the entire Leon High Newspaper Collection digitized, loaded into DigiNole and made accessible to the community.

The first step in the process was to take a glance at what we were working with and to prep the papers for digitization. The newspapers were picked up from Leon High and delivered to Strozier Library neatly sorted and grouped by decade, with most stored in protective mylar. Considering their age, the papers themselves were in decent condition and they arrived stored in several large archival boxes.

Sorting Leon High Newspapers

Sorting Leon High Newspapers
Sorting through the Leon High Newspapers

The plan was to efficiently digitize these objects using multiple pieces of equipment at once; larger issues would be digitized with our overhead reprographic camera set up while the smaller ones would be scanned on our Epson 11000XL flatbed scanners.

In order to get started, we sorted the newspapers by size and had them distributed to their respective scanning stations. This allowed us to save time by not having to manually refocus and position our overhead IQ180 camera each time a different-sized newspaper was encountered. Leaving the camera in one position allowed for faster capture time and guaranteed each photo would be captured at the specified resolution.

IQ180 Camera Setup
IQ180 camera aiming down at a Leon High Newspaper

When photographing this sort of material, it’s important to reduce as much depth as possible. Peaks and valleys caused by folds or creases in the objects can sometimes cause problems when trying to achieve evenly-sharp focus throughout the frame. Thankfully, most of the newspapers from this first batch laid relatively flat without too many folds or bumps.

We were able to flatten the few troublesome papers by carefully utilizing a set of custom-sized glass plates. By lowering the angles of the lights and by using low-glare glass, we were able to prevent any unwanted reflections from showing up in the final images.

These problems typically don’t occur when using flatbed scanners since closing the lid does a good job of flattening most objects. The scanners also allow for even lighting across the entire object without the risk of unwanted reflections, especially with non-glossy material such as these newspapers.

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Epson 11000XL getting ready to scan

Images from the flatbed scanner were cropped and saved to our servers directly from the VueScan software while images captured with our camera setup were edited and processed with Capture One CH.

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Typical Capture One CH session

While both pieces of software are quite powerful, they both have very different features. We primarily use VueScan as a scanning/processing software, while Capture One has the added bonus of offering file management and batch processing features as well as powerful capture tools. This allows us to quickly capture hundreds of photos consecutively and apply a set of edits/crops to the entire project at once. Capture One CH also offers specialized auto-crop and batch-crop features, which can be a massive time saver.

Once the images are all processed and saved onto our servers, they move onto final steps which include quality control, metadata creation, and loading of the images into DigiNole. Once the project has been safely uploaded, we will be ready to start all over with the second batch of newspapers! These newspapers will become part of the Leon High School Collection where we already have a full set of yearbooks for our users to browse.

We are ready to start digitizing the second batch of Leon High Newspapers after the holiday break, so keep an eye out for them to show up in Diginole later in 2019!

The Bulletins of Tallahassee’s First Baptist Church

Through an ongoing collaboration with The First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, we have been working to digitize and share all of the church’s published bulletins from the 1930s through today. This collaboration is one of several FSU Libraries’ projects aimed at bringing community collections online.

The First Baptist Church’s bulletins typically consist of community updates, upcoming events, Sunday programs, and other information centered around the congregation. Each pamphlet contains photos and unique illustrations related to the events occurring at the time.

Page from The Voice of the First Baptist Church Volume 21. Number 19, October 23rd, 1986
Page from The Voice of the First Baptist Church Volume 21. Number 19, October 23rd, 1986 [See original object]
As we continue adding more material to this collection in DigiNole, visitors can gain a better understanding of what life was like in Tallahassee from the perspective of the church. The first three batches of bulletins up to 1989 are now available while those printed in the 1990s will be uploaded next month.

The bulletins are just one phase of this collaboration with The First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, so keep an eye out for future updates to see what’s coming up next.

Clifton in the Capital: Tallahassee Civic Activist” Exhibition Opening

Guests are invited to explore the life works of Clifton Van Brunt Lewis, a local activist in the Tallahassee civil rights movement who championed for equality, pushed for historic preservation and founded many of Tallahassee’s beloved cultural institutions, including LeMoyne Center for the Arts, Tallahassee Museum, and the Spring House Institute.

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Clifton and her husband George Lewis II supported student protestors during the lunch counter sit-ins and theatre demonstrations, as well as worked on interracial committees such as the Tallahassee Association for Good Government and the Tallahassee Council on Human Relations. Clifton established “The Little Gallery” in the lobby of the Lewis State Bank, showcasing both white and black artists in a rotating display. She stayed active until the very end, pushing for equal rights, environmental protection, and art and beauty for everyone.

Their family home, the Lewis Spring House, is the only residence designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright in Florida during his lifetime. It is operated by the Spring House Institute. Visit them at PreserveSpringHouse.net.

The opening reception is Thursday, April 12 from 5-7PM  in the Mary Lou Norwood Reading Room, second floor Strozier Library. Exhibit curator Lydia Nabors will give a short talk at 6:15PM.

The exhibit will be open 10AM-6PM Monday through Friday in the Norwood throughout Summer 2018.

You can also explore the exhibit online at CliftonInTheCapital.omeka.net.

The Journals of an 19th century Tallahassee Reverend

We recently added a small new set of materials to the digital collection for theSt. John’s Episcopal Church Records. Two items detail the history of the Church further. The other three are journals kept by the Reverend Doctor W.H. Carter. They document his travels and ministry in New York, Florida, and places in-between from 1855-1907. Dr. Carter was born in Brooklyn, New York, and studied at Yale University. Before his time in Tallahassee, Carter was rector of Episcopal congregations in Warwick, New York, and Daytona Beach. After some time spent traveling as a missionary, Carter was installed at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Tallahassee in June 1879. In his journal entry from June 9th, Carter noted: “wonder how I will like it.” He apparently liked it well enough, as he remained in Tallahassee until his death in 1907.

Page from Journal of W.H. Carter, 1874-1897
The page from Rev. Carter’s Journal where he notes his move to Tallahassee in 1879. [See Original Item]
During his time in Tallahassee, Carter oversaw the construction of a new church building in 1880 and continued to take his clerical work on the road to worshippers in many small towns in North Florida, asylums, and the Leon County Jail. In the 1880s he was instrumental in establishing a church building and school for the black congregation of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Tallahassee, often performing services there. Carter’s work and demeanor left a significant impression on the congregation of St. John’s; his obituary notes that “Doctor Carter’s life was an object lesson of cheerful and patient serenity. In 1950 the church annex was extensively renovated and renamed the Carter Chapel in his honor. You may see all the journals here in the digital collection as well as the other materials digitized from the St. John’s Episcopal Church Records collection.

St. John’s is the mother church of the Diocese of Florida. It was founded as a mission parish in 1829, and the church’s first building was erected in 1837. The Diocese was organized at St. John’s in 1838 and Francis Huger Rutledge, who became rector of St. John’s in 1845, was consecrated the first Bishop of Florida in 1851. The original church burned in 1879; a new church was built on the same site and consecrated in 1888, and it is still the parish’s principal place of worship.

The physical collection includes administrative records; member registries; meeting minutes of the Vestry and church circles; Bibles, Books of Common Prayer, hymnals, and other liturgical works; documentation of the history of St. John’s Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Florida; service bulletins and other periodicals; sermon transcripts; photographs; and motion pictures.

For more information about the collection, visit its finding aid.

Sources:
W.H. Carter Journal, 1874-1897, St. John’s Episcopal Church Records, Special Collections and Archives, Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee, Florida. http://purl.fcla.edu/fsu/MSS_2016-006
Stauffer, Carl. (1984). God willing: A history of St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1829-1979. Tallahassee, FL. http://fsu.catalog.fcla.edu/permalink.jsp?23FS021651363

A Look into the History of a Tallahassee Church

Page from Parish Register, 1832-1923, 1940
Page from Parish Register, 1832-1923, 1940

The St. John’s Episcopal Church Records includes administrative records; member registries; meeting minutes of the Vestry and church circles; Bibles, Books of Common Prayer, hymnals, and other liturgical works; documentation of the history of St. John’s Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Florida; service bulletins and other periodicals; sermon transcripts; photographs; and motion pictures. We recently completed digitization and making available some of the registers from the collection. These materials give you a look into parish life from 1832 to 1953. In particular, these registers track baptisms, burials and marriages in the Church over that time period.

St. John’s is the mother church of the Diocese of Florida. It was founded as a mission parish in 1829, and the church’s first building was erected in 1837. The Diocese was organized at St. John’s in 1838 and Francis Huger Rutledge, who became rector of St. John’s in 1845, was consecrated the first Bishop of Florida in 1851. The original church burned in 1879; a new church was built on the same site and consecrated in 1888, and it is still the parish’s principal place of worship.

For more information about the collection, visit its finding aid and to see the digitized materials, visit its digital collection home.