Summer is indeed a quieter time on campus. Today starts the summer term here at FSU and we wish all students the best of luck in their summer classes.
We recently posted in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository more volumes of The Girl’s Own Paper, or The Girl’s Own Annual as it was eventually titled. You can browse issues from this publication geared at young British girls and teenagers from the years 1880-1893 in DigiNole. This is an ongoing digitization project so be sure to look out for “new” issues in the future. This publication is a part of the larger John MacKay Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection. Titles from that collection which have been digitized may be browsed and searched in DigiNole as well.
In 1966, a group of women, frustrated at the failure of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to recognize sex discrimination in the workplace and the failure of the conference they were attending to demand the EEOC do so, started what became the National Organization for Women (NOW). In 1971, Tallahassee gained its own NOW chapter, chartered through the national organization. Two years later in 1973, the Florida NOW state chapter was chartered to help coordinate the local chapters’ activities as well as to organize new chapters into formation. The state chapter’s records reside at the University of Florida.
As March is Women’s History Month, this week the Pepper Library is highlighting the National Organization for Women, Tallahassee Chapter records. The Tallahassee NOW papers contain official NOW correspondence, meeting minutes and agendas, reports, budgets, newsletters, and other records which chronicle the development and activities of Tallahassee NOW from its founding in 1971 until 1997. An excellent resource for studying the history of the Equal Rights Amendment in the state of Florida, the NOW material offers a firsthand glimpse into the organization’s efforts to empower and inform. This is particularly on point right now as last Wednesday, the Nevada State Legislature ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, which guarantees that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” NPR stated in an article on the ratification that the ERA “was first passed by Congress in 1972 and last approved by a state (Indiana) in 1977.” Florida has yet to ratify the ERA. The NOW records provide a look at the fight to do so in the 1970s.
Last fall,the staff of the FSU Digital Library digitized and made available online for researchers the Florida NOW Times (1974-1997). Within this statewide NOW publication, the history of the ERA and the activities of NOW chapters throughout the state can be followed over a twenty year period. Providing digital access to the newsletters was a challenge. Each newsletter needed to be reviewed to provide useful description for users to be able to browse and search these objects successfully. The DLC enlisted help from our Cataloging & Description colleagues to catalog the 211 newsletters that range from 1974 to 1997. These items cover the state chapter’s ERA fight, its yearly conferences, legislative and lobbying actions, and the many events sponsored to fight for the rights of women in Florida. You can see all the newsletters in the FSU Digital Library.
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) was a prominent, influential African American woman of her time who became an American educator, philanthropist, and civil rights activist. In 1904, Dr. Bethune created a school for African American girls in Daytona Beach, Florida known as The Daytona Beach Educational and Industrial School for girls. In 1923, the school combined with the all male Cookman Institute of Jacksonville which later became Bethune Cookman University. In 1935, Dr. Bethune cultivated and became President of multiple organizations to fight against school segregation and inadequate healthcare for black children. Her organizations consisted of the State Federation of Colored Women’s Club, the prestigious National Association of Colored Women’s Club, and the National Council of Negro Women. Dr. Bethune also served as the President of Bethune Cookman University until 1942, and later served again from 1946-1947. On April 25, 1944, she fostered the development of the United Negro College Fund which has provided scholarships for thousands of African American students, including 39 black colleges and universities.
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune profound work as an humanitarian in such a tumultuous time period in history allowed her to become one of the most eminent leaders in history. She was appointed to numerous national commissions including the Coolidge Administration’s Child Welfare Conference, the Hoover Administration’s National Commission on Child Welfare and Commission on Home Building and Home Ownership. She eventually became an advisor on minority affairs in the Roosevelt Administration, organizing two national conferences on the problematic issues that black Americans faced on a daily basis. While providing counsel to presidents and networking with America’s elite, Mary McLeod Bethune remained accessible to mentor young men and women to be great in their chosen paths academically and professionally.
Dr. Bethune, amazing strength and commitment to service pave the way for African Americans to be victorious. Her, impeccable journey truly exemplifies a line from Maya Angelou’s poem, called “Our Grandmothers” which states, “I come as one but I stand as 10,000.” She truly envisioned more for her people and stood at the forefront to use her voice as a weapon to promote change.
As Katherine previously mentioned here, our latest project in the Special Collections & Archives Division has been digitizing issues from “The Girl’s Own Annual.” A British serial intended for girls, young women and their mothers, “The Girl’s Own Annual” offers unique historical insight into the contemporary perceptions (and propaganda!) of World War I.
Overall, the tone of “The Girl’s Own Annual” is a mixture of edification and entertainment. There are articles on domestic projects (knitting patterns, sewing patterns) and serial fiction (the romances of the day!) These types of articles appear consistently in each issue. For this project, Katherine and I have focused our digitization efforts on volumes 38 and 39, which cover the period 1916-1918. Scattered between serial fiction and instructional pieces are articles that directly and obliquely reference the Great War. These articles give scholars a glimpse into the domestic attitudes toward the ongoing war–its portrayal and the propaganda.
Perceptions of the War
Articles such as, “The Women of the Army: Work that is being done in France by the capable, adaptable, cheerful contingents of our newest military service,” (vol. 39, no. 5) praises the efforts of women directly contributing to the war effort in France. Women are portrayed as supporting the war effort by performing necessary and sometimes complicated tasks. They performed the traditional secretarial and domestic duties, but the article also highlights some of the mechanical work the women perform on “aeroplanes” in need of repair.
Even the life of the Queen is touched by the war, and she actively supports the efforts of the soldiers fighting abroad. The article “The Queen’s Working Year: An unique account of Her Majesty’s activities, some of which have not hitherto been recorded,” (vol. 39 no. 7) gives an almost daily accounting of the Queen’s activities January through June 1917. These activities include paying “a visit to one of the cottagers near to condole with her on the death of a son who had laid down his life on the Front” and raising funds for “totally disabled soldiers.”
The accounts of the work of the Queen walks a fine line between inspiration and propaganda. Other articles in “The Girl’s Own Annual” are more blatant in their attempt to shape public opinion. In Vol. 39, issue 9 from 1918–after hostilities with Germany have stopped–Germany is presented as a continued threat. Writing on the “On the German Menace After the War,” the editor calls for a boycott of German goods, among other things. Through text and image, the continued threat from Germany is hammered home.
The layout of the article is striking–placed at the bottom of the page is a sketch of a sleeping baby, under which the caption reads: “We are fighting now to save the children of today from wholesale butchery at the hands of the Huns in the future.” The distrust and continued suspicion of Germany is blatant: “No matter how many treaties Germany may sign undertaking that hostilities shall end, how can we be certain that she will not continue to murder humanity wherever it is possible to do it without being actually caught in the act?” the editor rails.
It has been a pleasure to make “The Girl’s Own Annual” more accessible. It is my hope that both scholars and students will be able to gain fresh insight into the perceptions of World War I on the British homefront through this project.
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.