Announcing our 2020 Creative Fellow

We’re delighted to announce PPL’s new Creative Fellow: Kelly Eriksen, a Providence-based multimedia artist with a background in glass and an interest in “how the things that we interact with every day can be viewed as materials with which we can work and play.”


Over the coming 8 months, Kelly will do research in our Special Collections and design a sound installation related to the topic of journalism as part of our 2020 exhibition and program series.

We love that Kelly’s work is both conceptual and interactive, and we’re so excited to see what she creates!

Archives Month in FSU Special Collections & Archives

October is American Archives Month. And while every month is Archives Month to those of us here in Special Collections & Archives, October is the month we really like to toot our own horn.

We kicked off the festivities this year with our annual takeover of the FSU Libraries twitter handle for #AskAnArchivist day which was on October 2, 2019 this year. We had a great day of discussion and sharing out information about our collections, our practices and what exactly it is we do every day in all our spaces. You can see a round-up of (most) of the tweets below. Happy Reading! [In case the tweets are not appearing in this post since technology is not always our friend, even to the digital archivist, you can view this Tweet Collection here as well.]

BCGLA Video and Audio now online!

The Archives is very happy to announce that over 150 audio and video files from the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives (BCGLA) are now available online. This could not have been possible without the funding received from the National Heritage Digitization Strategy (NHDS).

GIF comprised of stills from various BCGLA videotapes.

The BCGLA Audiovisual Recordings series consists of 43 audio tapes and 93 video tapes. The audio recordings include show tapes for drag performances at B.J.’s Club, various interviews for Angles, and Gay Games III coverage. The video recordings consist of drag events; fashion shows; made for television documentaries and specials; the Little Sister’s 2000 trial; and footage from various Pride Parades.

A selection of audio and video tapes from the BCGLA. Photograph by Kristy Waller

A large number of the video tapes contain footage of various drag events from the early 1990s until the late 2000s. These include Coronation Balls, fundraisers, out of town shows, campaign shows, pageants, and Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society events. This is an incredible and unique collection of Vancouver drag history. The tapes feature amazing performances by individuals such as Wanda Fuca, Paige Turner, ted northe, Mama Karen, Imelda Mae Santos, Diana Rose, Ms. Adrian, Iris, Myria Le Noir, John Taylor, Willie Taylor, Sumi Sashay, Tara Nova, Crema, Joan-E, Byron Longclaws and many more.

GIF comprised of stills from various drag performances from the BCGLA.


the posters and photographs that are digitized in-house, audiovisual materials are
sent to be digitized by a trusted, experienced third-party vendor. The audio is
digitized to and stored as uncompressed Broadcast Wave (.wav) files with a bit
depth of 24 and a sample rate of 96 kHz. Videotapes are digitized to
uncompressed 10-bit files and are transcoded to both an open-source
preservation format and an access format. Many of the BCGLA video tapes were
recorded using the LP (long play) VHS mode resulting in some 4-6 hour files. The
digitized files nearly filled four 4TB drives. Once the files are backed up,
they need to be checked to ensure the quality of the transfers, to establish
that the content matches the title and that any additional descriptive
information is documented to make searching easier once the files are online.

The Archives relies on open source software called QCTools developed by the Bay Area Video Coalition and MediaArea to check video materials. The software allows the archivist performing the quality checks to visually check the videos without having to watch every second in real time. With a collection such as the BCGLA that has over 180 hours of footage, this saves us time and ensures that the best digital copy can be preserved.

Below is a screenshot of the QCTools interface showing YDiff, UDiff and VDiff filters. Each frame from the video is shown at the bottom. The “Diff” filters subtract the Y, U and V values for two successive frames and display the result. A very large spike in the graph may indicate a problem with the video.

Screenshot of the QCTools interface showing YDiff, UDiff and VDiff filters.

The archivist checking the files looks for artifacts (errors or anomalies in the video), and determines if these artifacts exist on the physical tape or were introduced through digitization. If you are interested in the types of artifacts we look for, you can check out this great resource called the AV Artifact Atlas.

Screenshot of QCTools Preview Window using the field view.

QC Tools preview window allows for spot checking and manual analysis using a
variety of filters. The archivist can inspect particular frames using the field
view (shown above) to look for video head clogs and other artifacts. In
addition to using QCTools, the archivist also watches 2 minutes at the
beginning, middle and end of the recording to ensure that there are no glitches
with the file or audio sync issues.


were testing the smaller, access version of the files in QCTools, but even
those could be over 6GB for one file. Because some of these files were so
large, we were having issues loading the files into QCTools. Playback in
QCTools was uneven and the program would sometimes crash even before the file
was fully loaded. We needed to provide more memory and processing power to the

City’s Technology Services Department created a virtual machine (a software-based computer which we
accessed through the City’s internal network) and we tested the performance of
QCTools on 3 files with increasing resources. We also switched operating
systems, from using the Windows version of QCTools to the Ubuntu Linux version.
As the amount of memory and the number of processing cores increased, it became
faster to load the files into the program. For example, one 3.8GB file took 164
minutes to load in the Windows environment and 87 minutes to load in a VM with
similar resources. By the end of the test, it took about 30 minutes to load. When
we had 8 processing cores and 16GB of memory, we stopped testing and completed
the file checking. Playback became smoother and a large file would not crash
the program. The work of checking these files went by much faster. Once all the
files were checked, the virtual machine was repurposed for another use.

Once the files were checked, they were processed through our digital preservation system, Archivematica, which automatically uploads access versions to the descriptions in our online database.


and use of most of the AV, as with the posters and photographs in the BCGLA collection,
is allowed for fair dealing purposes. We have noted the
copyright owner when possible. Further information may be available through the
Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

For more information about the BCGLA see
our previous blog posts regarding the donation
and its subject files
, periodicals,
and photographs.

This project was realized as part of
the National Heritage Digitization Strategy of Canada thanks to the generous
support of a private donor. / Ce projet a été réalizé dans le cadre de La
Stratégie de numérisation du patrimoine documentaire du Canada grâce à un don
généreaux d’un donateur privé.

WQXR: A Call Letter Primer

New York’s classical music station is WQXR, and, if you’ve listened to it during a station break, you know its programming is also transmitted by WQXW in Westchester.  But what about WQXQ, W59NY, W2XQR, and W2XR?

W2XR Founder, John V. L. Hogan.
(WQXR Archive Collections)

It all began in 1929 with the last, which actually started out as a television station – well, an experimental television station.  It was run by John V. L. Hogan in a lab in space shared with a garage in Long Island City, with an antenna on the roof.[i]  TV requires both pictures and sounds, and in 1929 those were transmitted either consecutively or on two different stations.  Hogan’s stations operated at frequencies well above the AM-radio band.[ii]

In 1933, the Federal Radio Commission authorized double-bandwidth radio stations just above the AM band, and the first was licensed to Hogan’s W2XR. W was the designation commonly used for stations in the eastern part of the U.S.; 2 was the designation for the New York and New Jersey zone; X was experimental, which characterized television in those days; and R was the first letter of Hogan’s company, Radio Pictures.

Hogan played classical music records on the sound station when he was transmitting still images (radio facsimile), and some radio listeners were able to pick up those transmissions.[iii]  Seeking a larger audience, Hogan sent his engineers to businesses in the neighborhood to adjust their radios so they could tune in W2XR.  Taking advantage of the double-bandwidth station, Hogan was able to transmit high fidelity and got special transcription recordings that were of higher quality than the usual fare. 

Eventually, the sound broadcasting took over from the television.  W2XR went from a 50-watt transmitter in 1929 to 250-watt in 1934, and, when it became a commercial radio station in 1936, 1,000-watt.  What should the commercial station be called?  Q rhymes with 2, and, when written in cursive script, even looks like 2, and it’s the first letter of quality.  WQXR was born, but the changing call signs weren’t done.

WQXR’s initial double-bandwidth channel allowed high-fidelity transmission but not freedom from interference.  For the latter, Edwin Armstrong developed FM.  But where could Armstrong get high-fidelity content?  From WQXR, of course! 

A special, equalized, high-fidelity telephone line was run from WQXR’s studio (in Manhattan) to Armstrong’s station in Alpine, New Jersey, for the world’s first regularly scheduled FM broadcast on July 18, 1939.[iv]  Armstrong returned the favor by lending WQXR an FM transmitter so it could begin transmitting as W2XQR on November 26 of the same year.[v]

When FM became a commercially authorized service in 1941, the call sign changed to W59NY, and, when the rules changed again in 1943, it became WQXQ.  Finally, in 1948, the FM version became WQXR.



[i] Bill Jaker, Frank Sulek, & Peter Kanze, The Airwaves of New York: Illustrated Histories of 156 AM Stations in the Metropolitan Area, 1921-1996, Jefferson, NC, and London: McFarland, 1998, p. 169

[ii] “Early Television Stations,” Early Television Museum <>

[iii] Christopher H. Sterling, editor, Encyclopedia of Radio 3-Volume Set, New York and London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2003, p. 2582

[iv] Jaker, et al., p. 170

[v] Sterling, p. 2583

Scottish Political ARCHIve Crowdfunder

The Scottish Political Archive have launched a new crowdfunding project to raise money to support the production of a graphic history of the Scottish Parliament.  The Scottish Parliament: A Graphic History will draw on the collections of the Scottish Political Archive to tell the story of the Scottish Parliament and the resulting graphic novel will be distributed freely to all public libraries and secondary schools in Scotland.

Process sketches from Scottish Parliament: A Graphic History

We asked graphic artist Jules Scheele to come up with some sample images and above is some of the sample artwork they provided using our collections as inspiration.

To support the project

#AskAnArchivist Day is tomorrow!

FSU Special Collections & Archives is once again participating in #AskAnArchivist Day, the kick-off event for American Archives Month. We’ll be taking over the FSU Libraries twitter feed (@fsulibraries) tomorrow, Wednesday, October 2, 2019 from 10am to 6pm.

How does this work? Archivists here at FSU and all over the country will take to Twitter to respond to questions tweeted with the hashtag #AskAnArchivist. No question is too silly, too small or too big. You can ask us here at FSU what the oldest item is we have, what does it mean to process a collection, do we have anything in our collections about your dissertation topic? Just tweet at us with the hashtag and we’ll answer!

Don’t be shy with us or any other archives on Twitter and be sure to ask your questions on #AskAnArchivist day!

Iron Work Detailing of Houses in Marpole

Thanks to local resident Flora Thompson, the Archives received a donation of over 400 photographs documenting the wrought-iron work and decorative designs of Vancouver residences. Thompson took these photographs from 1995 to 2003 and the images highlight a unique aspect and era of Vancouver building design. This same design aesthetic is reflected in Vancouver homes from a certain era beyond that of the Marpole neighbourhood.

Great star-like iron work on this house on Hudson Street. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.165

Iron work for the stairs, entryway, and front windows. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.348.1

Cattail pattern on this Osler Street house. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.147

Although some site locations are unidentified, most of the houses are described by their street address. The collection of over 400 photographs includes views of houses, close-up shots of house entryways showing iron work designs, as well as street views capturing other houses and buildings. These photographs may be of interest to researchers examining property and neighbourhood histories as many of the homes shown have since been demolished.

7843 Osler Street house and lawn decorations. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.148

A more unusual shape of a hand rail. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.339.2

Attention readers: please feel free to contact the Archives if you are able to identify any of the houses as the Archives would be interested in adding to the descriptive information to help make these records more discoverable.

Beautiful spring flowers around the step railing leading up to the house at 8279 Hudson Street. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.178

The shadow across the wall creates an effect of a third hand rail on this house. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.141

Iron waves decorate this house’s railings on West 64th Avenue. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.278

Cats snoozing on the front steps at 7623 French Street. Reference code: AM1603-F1-: 2012-016.213

A small grouping of this collection has been also put up as a Flickr set – enjoy!

Reminder and Researchers

A quick reminder: applications for our 2020 Creative Fellowship are due this coming Tuesday, October 1st.

Now that you’ve been reminded, we’re excited to tell you that Special Collections materials are (mostly) moved into their new homes in our renovated, climate-controlled stacks!!! (The news is exciting enough to merit some rule-breaking punctuation.) We have twelve fancy air conditioning units that control and monitor temperature, air distribution, and humidity, keeping our books happy and stable.

Now that we’ve moved, we’re able to take classes and researchers on a limited basis (due to space considerations during the ongoing renovation). Get in touch if you’d like to make an appointment!

The Norfolk Charitable Trust collections have arrived!

This guest post was written by this summer’s Norfolk Charitable Trust Intern, Elliott Hadwin (AC 2019).

Before archivists can get collections ready for use by researchers, they have to get the collections ready for themselves! This summer, as the Norfolk Charitable Trust Intern, I undertook two projects to help prepare eight new collections ready for processing by the Norfolk Charitable Trust Transition Archivist, Jess Dampier: preliminary research and physical assessment. The goal of doing this kind of work before processing is to help the archivist get oriented in the collection and contextualize the materials, but before I get to my work with the collections, let me tell you a little bit about the collections themselves.

In the winter of 2018, the archives received a generous donation from the Norfolk Charitable Trust of eight new collections:

  • Henry P. Kendall Archive,
  • Evelyn Louise Kendall Archive,
  • Henry W. Kendall General Archive,
  • Henry W. Kendall Nobel Prize Archive,
  • Henry W. Kendall Photographic Archive,
  • John P. Kendall Archive,
  • Kendall Company Archive,
  • and the Kendall-Plimpton Genealogical Archive

All together, that’s about 150 linear feet of materials on or about the Kendall family. For a better idea of the size of that, that’s about 150 banker’s boxes. It seemed like a lot to me at first, especially because there’s such a wide range of topics covered! The Kendall family has always been very active in everything from business to philanthropy to the arts, and quite a bit of that is represented here. Henry P. Kendall (Amherst College Class of 1899) bought a failing textile mill in the early 1900’s and turned it into the multinational Kendall Company, an important supplier of medical textiles, primarily bandages during the first and second World War. His wife, Evelyn, was a Canadian born nurse and artist, as well as an avid collector of art, shell art, South Caroliniana, whaling memorabilia, dolls, and early aeronautic memorabilia (primarily ballooning). Their older son Henry W. (Amherst College Class of 1950) was a Nobel Prize winning physicist as well as an expert outdoorsman and photographer. Their other son, John P. (Amherst College Class of 1951), was a businessman with the Kendall Company until it was acquired by Colgate-Palmolive in the 1970’s, as well as an important figure in Hampshire College history (but more on that later!).

 With the preliminary research, one of the main goals was to get a better sense of the people who created the collections; what it would’ve been like for them to live in that time period, what kind of work (professional or personal) they did, what their hobbies and interests were, etc. Since the Kendall collections have a good amount of personal materials (photographs, memorabilia, correspondence, etc.) it was great to turn to the collections themselves for this context but simply because of the cumulative size of the collections and the long history of the Kendall family, there were lots of other rabbit holes to go down. One of the first challenges for me was to wrap my head around all the members of the family. To get started, I made a very rough family tree – but the Kendall family has been in New England for centuries and for a while it was almost more confusing than before!

But as I started to learn more about the individual family members, they each began to take shape and it became easier to keep them all straight in my head. Something I had not expected was how strongly the Kendalls have been connected to the Connecticut River Valley. Although many members of the family have been Amherst graduates, it became apparent as I researched more that their connections went way deeper than just Amherst College. For example, I’d seen a few references throughout my research to John P. being an important early supporter of Hampshire College, but never anything about the exact nature of that, so I took a trip to Hampshire to look at their archival records of the college’s founding. John P.’s interest in Hampshire might have been sparked, at least in part, because of his personal connection to his cousin Amherst College President Calvin H. Plimpton and his college friend Charles Longsworth who was Hampshire’s founding Vice President. But he also obviously supported the college’s founding principles: he had provided some input on The Making of a College, and starting in 1975 served as the chairman of the Board of Trustees. According to the student newspaper Climax, he became chairman during a particularly tumultuous time in Hampshire’s history, when students were regularly protesting the Board of Trustees because of changes to financial aid and other dissatisfaction on campus.


Climax, January 14, 1975, from the Hampshire College Archives

In addition, many of the women in the family attended Mount Holyoke College: Clara Idella Plimpton (Henry P.’s mother) was class of 1871, Helen Idella Kendall (Henry P.’s sister) was class of 1900, and Helen Louise Kendall (Henry P.’s daughter) was class of 1951. And even before that, Henry P.’s grandmother, Priscilla Guild Lewis Plimpton, was one of Mary Lyon’s first students at Wheaton Seminary before Lyon went on to found Mount Holyoke College. Especially because none of these women are very heavily represented in our Kendall collections, I decided to make a trip to Mount Holyoke’s archives to collection biographical information and look at the Kendall Papers. While researching there, I learned that Clara Idella Plimpton is also credited with being the first woman to spend her junior year of college abroad. Clara Idella went on to marry Henry Lucien Kendall, but was widowed at a young age and raised Henry P. and his sister by herself on the Plimpton family farm in Walpole, MA.

The Kendall family connection to Walpole was also a strong one, and I ended up making a trip to visit the Walpole Historical Society. They had also received a donation from the Norfolk Charitable Trust, mostly concerning the Plimptons’ side of the family, and I was able to get a better sense of where materials related to our collections are kept. For example, they had the originals of some things we only had copies of, and vice versa.

While all of the research was going on, I was also working on physical assessments with the Norfolk Charitable Trust Transition Archivist, Jess Dampier. Like the preliminary research, a part of the physical assessments is just to get acquainted with the materials. Since these collections had already been worked on by an archivist at the Norfolk Charitable Trust, they came to our archives in relatively good shape. Since I’m just starting out working in archives, I thought it was really helpful to see the choices a previous archivist had made about housing, arrangement, etc. and try to understand why those choices were made. Sometimes, however, the questions we were asking ourselves were very basic “what is this?”, for example with Henry W.’s scientific materials that we received.

Another “what is this?” moment happened with a clear, plastic pyramid that had been given to Henry W. to commemorate a diving expedition. What I initially thought was a piece of coral inside turned out to be a Styrofoam cup that had been crushed under the pressure when it was taken down to their diving depth. I also really enjoyed looking at Evelyn’s doll miniatures, just because I was surprised by how intricate they are!

The other part of the physical assessment though is to find and address any immediate preservation issues. Thankfully, the issues we ran into most often (understuffed boxes and non-archival housing, for example) can be fixed by re-housing the materials. We did, however, find some mold on some leather materials and some film reels with vinegar syndrome. For now, these items will be placed in cold storage to stop the spread the leather’s mold and the films’ degradation.

box 57 2

Box 57 of the Henry W. Kendall General Archive. The items with mold damage have been isolated for now, but will be put in cold storage soon. Other plastic bags in there are non-archival and will eventually need to be removed or replaced.

In the end, the whole range of Kendall collections ended up getting a color-coded makeover!

After the research and the physical assessment, it’s much easier to work with the materials without getting mixing up the family members or the boxes themselves. Hopefully, the preliminary research will not only help Jess with processing the collections, but also help visitors as they use the Kendall collections to conduct their own research.

Special thanks to John and Sue Anderson at the Walpole Historical Society for hosting me for the day, and to Emily Moran at Hampshire College for helping me access their archival records. And a huge thank you to the staff at Amherst College Archives and Special Collections for supporting this internship!

National Sporting heritage day 2019

The University of Stirling Archives is delighted to be hosting a visit from members of the Scottish Ex-Boxers Association to celebrate National Sporting Heritage Day 2019. An annual event, National Sporting Heritage Day aims to raise awareness of sporting heritage, encourage new audiences to experience sporting collections and work with sporting organisations to recognise and celebrate their heritage.

The event will take place on Sunday 29th September from 1pm to 4pm in the University Library and will include a small display of sporting memorabilia relating to the history of Scottish boxing. Guests of honour will include Olympic gold medallist Dick McTaggart and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Charlie Kane.

There is an opportunity for staff and students of the university to find out more about our work with the Scottish Ex-Boxers Association and our wider sporting heritage collections on Monday 30th September from 1pm to 4pm.

We will also be announcing some exciting news on National Sporting Heritage Day relating to a major new project to collect and preserve Scotland’s boxing heritage – more details coming soon!

Sporting Heritage in partnership with generous funding from Art Fund, are proud to support community sporting heritage activity across the UK through a programme of locally focussed projects in celebration of National Sporting Heritage Day. Follow the action at #NSHD2019.

WNYC Keeps on Truck’n: Nearly a Century of ‘Mobile Units’

Mary Whalen riding in model truck at the city’s Silver Jubilee celebration at Grand Central Palace in June, 1923.
(Radio News/WNYC Archive Collections)

The first ‘WNYC truck’ actually appeared a year before the station went on air during the City’s Silver Jubilee exposition in June 1923. Held at Grand Central Palace, the expo marked 25 years of borough unification which made New York City geographically as we know it. Here, Commissioner Grover A. Whalen, among his many duties, promoted the nascent city radio station. Meanwhile, his daughter Mary drove about the expo in her own miniature mobile radio truck advertising the city’s plans for the station that would become WNYC. A booth at the show demonstrated the need for a city radio station and what it would provide. For more details, see New York City’s Silver Jubilee: The Plan and Promise of WNYC in 1923.

A view inside WNYC’s first public address radio truck in 1924. (Eugene de Salignac/NYC Municipal Archives

WNYC’s first real truck is featured above. It held no broadcast equipment and was used solely as a mobile public address system at locations around the city. By the station’s second year on the air, a newer mobile unit had replaced the ‘wagon.’ It’s seen below just two days after the Independence Day celebrations at City Hall where engineers were packing up gear.

The WNYC truck in front of City Hall, July 6, 1926.
(Eugene de Salignac/NYC Municipal Archives)

By the mid-1930s the Federal Works Progress Administration was beginning to have a significant influence over just about every aspect of WNYC. This included music and drama programming, plans for new studios decorated with Federal Art Program murals and a state-of-the-art transmitter site. I suspect that there was probably some federal money that also went into the station’s new 100-watt public address truck arriving in 1937. It was so impressive that Communication & Broadcast Engineering magazine ran a three-page feature on it. Author Aaron Nadell wrote of engineers Isaac Brimberg and William Pitkin’s design:

The WNYC truck by Leo Garel in 1939.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

Flexibility of operation, to meet the varied requirements of the municipal authorities, constituted one important feature of the design. Another is duplication of equipment to avoid any possibility of an embarrassing breakdown during some conspicuously public occasion.

The truck itself is a 1937 Chevrolet, streamlined, and finished in aluminum with fenders and wheels of ultramarine blue…two-tone lettering. The flag of the city flies from the central staff. The number 810 at the rear of the body shows the frequency of Station W.N.Y.C.”[1]

The truck (pictured below) was used for broadcasting and reporting from park concerts, parades, and public celebrations. Its first use was in connection with the formal opening of the elevated west side highway for automobile traffic. The truck’s microphones and loudspeakers broadcast the speeches of the city officials. Afterward, it participated in the parade of vehicles that followed the cutting of the ribbon stretched across the new roadway. The truck also relayed the ceremony via shortwave to the station for general broadcast.

WNYC’s new 100-watt public address system truck in 1937.
(Photo courtesy of the New York City Municipal Archives)

White police officers lead an unidentified black man past the WNYC sound truck with chain handcuff on wrist, from the scene of the Harlem riot in New York City, Aug. 2, 1943.
(AP Photo)

This vehicle was also used during the Harlem riot of August 1943. Mayor La Guardia sent the unit uptown to help quell violence and looting that followed the wounding of an African-American soldier by a white police officer. The Mayor, along with religious and civic leaders, rode in the sound truck as it drove through Harlem, addressing residents directly from the street. They sought to dispel a rumor that the soldier had been killed and called on residents to return to their homes and remain calm.


But it seems that this swanky Chevy was not the mobile unit WNYC newsman Dick Pack got for covering the celebration of Howard Hughes’ return from an around-the-world flight in 1938.


Ours was not a super-duper streamlined bus like NBC’s; the WNYC so-called mobile broadcasting unit was a small battered truck, the kind usually used by neighborhood stores for deliveries. Atop the slightly sloping roof of the truck was a tall antenna pole, and inside was the shortwave relay transmitter. The only real vantage point for announcers was atop the slanting roof. And there was nowhere to hold on except to a corner of a roof loudspeaker. You couldn’t latch on to the antenna pole, because that was charged, and you’d get a nasty shock if you did…We never expected that once the Hughes cars left City Hall, the procession’s pace would change. This time, the moment the cars started the escorting motorcycles jazzed into full speed, the official autos did the same — and our little truck had to follow. Sirens wailing, the cavalcade sped uptown at well over 50 miles per hour. And there we were on top of that blankety truck, clinging on for life. [2]

Fortunately, Pack and his crew survived the Hughes coverage unscathed, at least physically. Although he was told afterward their work north of 14th Street was never heard because of the limits of the shortwave relay at the time.

WNYC’s mobile unit at Times Square during Eisenhower Day celebrations in June 1945.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

The mobile units (shown at right and below) look similar to the kind of delivery trucks made by Mack and International Harvester at the time, but we’ve yet to confirm just what make and models these were. If you’ve got some ideas, please let us know. Nevertheless, photos and audio reveal these units were used at least through 1945 for crucial coverage of VE Day activities in May, General Eisenhower’s triumphant return from Europe in June, VJ Day celebrations in August and the Admiral Nimitz Day parade two months later.

WNYC mobile unit on 5th Avenue in front of the New York Public Library following a home front and armed forces parade, June 13, 1942.
(WNYC Archives, Henry Wei Collection)

This 1958 photo of our truck at Times Square (bottom of shot) gives a rare view of the yellow and green color scheme.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

By 1950 and into the ’60s, with the Cold War in full swing, WNYC’s civil defense role expanded –and with it, its fleet of vehicles. They were used for public address and for two-way mobile communications. Public address installations numbered more than 500 annually, ranging from the dedication of new buildings to outdoor concerts in the parks and other venues. A great many of these required engineers to load up vehicles such as those shown below with equipment for recording and remote broadcast. The 1956 station Annual Report noted the following:

The constant communication readiness of all WNYC mobile units continued to prove of inestimable value. This outstanding service was dramatically demonstrated in August when the WNYC mobile unit played a key role at the dockside in bringing together families with the returning survivors of the Andrea Doria disaster. [3]

Below is audio of the mobile unit reporting from the fire of the U.S.S. Constellation at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on December 19, 1960. (Courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives)

WNYC civil defense sound trucks in Central Park in the 1950s.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

WNYC’s Dodge van in front of City Hall in the late 1960s.
(Alfred Tropea/WNYC Archive Collections)

By the late 1960s forward, use of WNYC’s mobile unit narrowed. There was no longer a call for civil defense applications, public address and shortwave relay back to the studio. The priority then, as now, is primarily for transporting audio equipment to and from distant locations for event and concert recording or where there is already a high-quality transmission line installed for live remotes.

The WNYC van in 2008
(Amy Pearl/WNYC)

The vehicles used from 1924 through the 1950s were the most visually appealing and their role, under the city ownership, more diverse. Afterward, they were pretty standard, practical, and a canvas for budding graffiti artists. Today, the WNYC/WQXR mobile unit or van is well branded. And it continues in the tradition of ferrying producers, engineers, and equipment to concert venues and event sites all over the metropolitan area.

WNYC’s van today!
(Amy Pearl/WNYC)

Two more examples of reporting from the WNYC mobile units:

1) Mike Jablons reporting from Pier 90 on the arrival of returning troops from Europe, June 20, 1945. (Note – sound quality is a bit rough). (Mike Jablon Collection/WNYC Archives)

2) An unnamed WNYC reporter at a fire on Pier 20 at the foot of Chambers Street, January 1, 1954. (Courtesy of NYC Municipal Archives)


[1] Nadell, Aaron, “WNYC’s 100 Watt P-A Truck,” Communication and Broadcast Engineering, May 1937. pg. 5.

[2] Pack, Dick, “Life with WNYC,” Variety, January 4, 1950, pg. 103.

[3] WNYC Annual Report for 1956.

And last, but certainly not least, this truck is currently used by the NYPR engineering team to reach transmitter sites that are off the beaten path.

WNYC’s most recent truck.
(WNYC Engineering/WNYC Archive Collections)


Sam Price plays “Mayor La Guardia Jumps”

I believe this is a recording of Sam Price performing his new jazz piano suite, Mayor La Guardia Jumps before a capacity audience at New York City Center, May 13, 1945.  The other voice heard on the recording is probably performer and band leader Eddie Condon. Condon and Price are referring to the fact that the Mayor’s term of office ends December 31, 1945.

The recording was found on a transcription disc with Mayor La Guardia from May 7, 1945 making a pre-VE-Day announcement over WNYC to the residents of New York.

Samuel Blythe Price (1908-1992) was a noted a boogie-woogie, jazz and jump blues pianist and bandleader. He was in the WNYC studio during the 2nd annual American Music Festival in February 1941 with Leadbelly, Albert Ammons, and Meade Lux Lewis. See: AMF 1941.


New Video Wall: Seasons

As summer turns over into autumn, we present a new video wall show in keeping with this theme: Seasons: Vancouver through the year.

Seed bed preparation, 1908. Reference code: AM505-S1-: CVA 660-688

The Archives’ holdings have a delightful number of photographs that relate to various seasonal celebrations and activities, which was the seed of inspiration for this video wall show. It begins with spring, moving through summer and autumn, and finishes with winter. The viewer will be treated to photographs of gardening, track and field races, soccer matches, lazy days at the beach, wedding celebrations, regattas, groups hiking, Thanksgiving feasts, children in costume for Halloween, and skiers eyeing up slopes. The earliest image showcased is the gathering of a crowd celebrating Dominion Day in 1878, with the most recent image over a hundred years later depicting crowds celebrating Chinese New Year in 1987.

Chinese Students’ Athletic Association soccer team, ~1925. Reference code: AM1108-S4-: CVA 689-66

Swimmers at English Bay, ~1929. Reference code: AM1535-: CVA 99-2471

The video wall shows can be viewed in the Archives’ gallery space, or in the City Hall rotunda across from the elevators. You can also view them on YouTube.

Tribute: Cokie Roberts

We’ve pulled two segment with Cokie Roberts done with Brian Lehrer in 2015 and 2016.

2015: (audio above) Cokie Roberts talks about the women of Washington, from the Civil War era up to Hillary Clinton.

2016: (audio below) NPR commentator Cokie Roberts discusses her new book about the influence of women in the founding of America.

Museum Of World Cultures Internship

My name is Paige Hoeflich and I am a senior here at UNCW, double majoring in Anthropology and Communication Studies. I am originally from Maryland but moved to North Carolina in 2016 for school. Shortly after beginning my freshmen year, I uncovered my passion for culture and exploring cross-cultural interactions. During my time here, I have had the opportunity to study abroad, meet a ton of interesting people, complete a DIS research project on student adaptability and success, and grow both professionally and personally. My time here at UNCW has been packed full of many amazing experiences and opportunities, with my internship in the Museum of World Cultures being my current adventure! 

While completing this internship I will research and uncover information about groups of artifacts from the Ancient Mesoamerica region, which will be used to expand and supplement existing records. The first set of artifacts I am working with are from ancient Veracruz, the home of the Totonac people.


Currently I am researching and composing short excerpts that will be integrated into an online exhibit at the end of internship. The three artifacts that I am currently working with are a hollow smiling figure, a warrior that also doubles as a ceremonial whistle, and a seated figure with smooth black detailing signifying it was most likely used for sacrificial purposes.


The above artifacts range from 400-700 C.E. and provide a glimpse into the cultural practices of an ancient people. Handling these artifacts is a privilege, and I aim to enhance their history and accessibility, so other people can have the same opportunity to explore the history of the Veracruz region.

This internship will help me to develop technical skills in museum registration and curation practices and provide exposure to a professional work environment before graduation. In the future I hope to work in a field that combines the skills I have learned from both my Anthropology and Communication classes. This internship provides me with the opportunity to combine both of my majors while learning new skills in a field I have never explored before. Above all else, my internship is a learning experience that will provide me with the tools and technical know-how necessary to operate as a professional in the business world. 



Map images retrieved from:

Photos taken by Paige Hoeflich



Digital Preservation Framework Released for Public Comment

Today NARA is releasing the entirety of our digital preservation framework for public comment. This digital preservation framework consists of our approach to determining risks faced by electronic files, and our plans for preserving different types of file formats. The public is encouraged to join the discussion, September 16 through November 1, 2019, on GitHub.

Photograph of World’s First Computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator. National Archives Identifier 594262

The National Archives 2018–2022 Strategic Plan embraces a vision that ensures ongoing access to extraordinary volumes of government informa­tion to bring greater meaning to the American experience. Digital preservation is critical to this work, as evidenced by the June 2019 direction (M-19-21, Transition to Electronic Records) to Federal agencies to transition business processes and record keeping to a fully electronic environment and to end the National Archives’ acceptance of paper records by December 31, 2022.

We’re in the process of shifting the entire government off of paper and to all electronic record-keeping, and we play a major role in helping the agencies get to that point. Our new strategic plan is the roadmap; by putting records management and digital preservation at the forefront of our priorities, we will help drive greater efficiency and effectiveness while making the Federal government more responsive to the American people. 

Our digital preservation subject matter experts, led by Director of Digital Preservation Leslie Johnston, have been hard at work to prepare the National Archives for this change. They have formalized a set of documents that describe how we identify risks to digital files and prioritize them for action, and created specific plans for the preservation of these many file formats.

The release of the digital preservation framework allows NARA staff, our agency stakeholders, the public, and experts in the archival and preservation fields to weigh in and assist us in creating the standard for digital preservation in the Federal government. We are also ensuring that our process for identifying and mitigating risk in the electronic records that we preserve and make accessible is as transparent as possible.

The documents are available at:

Please use the Issues feature to leave comments or questions, or to start a discussion. The matrix and plans will be open for comment until November 1, 2019. After that time, National Archives staff will take all the feedback and update the matrix and plans, incorporating the comments. Then final versions will be publicly released, and updated on an ongoing basis in response to changing risks and new technologies and formats.

Country and Western Music with Dorothy Horstman

“Hello, Country fans…,” was Dorothy A. Horstman’s (1930-1999) welcome to listeners to Country and Western Music on WNYC in the 1970s. At the time, the weekly half-hour slot was the only outlet for the genre in the New York metropolitan area. Admitting the show was a significant departure from the station’s regular classical fare, A.M. Program Manager Richard Pyatt told Billboard it was the station’s aim to “to introduce a new musical sound to those listeners who have never experienced this art form.”[1] 

Horstman’s first program (May 23, 1972) sampled selections from the 50-year history of country, ranging from Vernon Dalhart to Charley Pride. For the next five years her broadcasts demonstrated a lively, yet scholarly, approach by tracing the history and influence of the genre, and drawing on primary research from her rich collection of oral history interviews. Typically, the programs were devoted to individual artists, composers, or themes, and included her own keen commentary and insight. Among them, for example, a two-part roundup of ‘Grand Ole Opry’ performers from its beginnings in 1925, a profile of Jimmie Rodgers, tracing his influence to the modern day, and interviews with legendary performers like Loretta Lynn, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Hank Snow, and Roy Acuff.

Prior to her WNYC broadcasts, Horstman had been a songwriter and country music journalist writing for Country Song Roundup and Country Music, as well as being an associate editor of Country Music Star Life. Born in Georgia and raised in Louisiana, she attended the University of Texas at Austin in the 1950s and was trained as a registered nurse. In 1959 Horstman married and would later make her home in New York City. Her interest in songwriting gave way to a more methodical approach to research in country and western music in general. Beginning in 1954 until her passing in 1999, she conducted hundreds of ground-breaking interviews with the leading artists and performers of the genre and was meticulous in her research on country and western music ballads and their origins.[2] 

Dorothy Horstman’s pioneering research resulted in the publication of the definitive Sing Your Heart Out, Country Boy in 1975. The work is a collection of lyrics to more than 360 country songs, along with comments by the artist or composer explaining how each song was written. Prior to her death in September 1999, she completed her work on the encyclopedic America’s Best Loved Country Songs. The book covers more than 3,200 classic country music songs from the genre’s earliest roots to the end of 1989. It was posthumously published.

Note: I’m afraid the above audio is just the intro and outro to Dorothy Horstman’s first program. The amount of copyrighted music precludes us from posting the entire program.

____________________________________[1] “NYC’s Municipal Station Adds Country Segment,” Billboard, June 10, 1972. pg. 60.

[2] Smithsonian Institution, Guide to the Dorothy Horstman Oral History Field and Radio Show Recordings. 



A Quick update: BCGLA photo identification

With LGBTQ2+ history month in October right around the corner, it is a perfect time to look toward the future of the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives photo identification project. With East Side Pride, the Pride Proclamation, and the Sunset Beach Festival, it was a busy summer for the Archives and we are excited for what the coming months will hold. Photo identification and community engagement are ongoing processes, and we have some exciting things planned for the fall to ensure that there is continued work being done with the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives. For now, we have a couple important announcements regarding the project.

Our busy booth at the Sunset Beach Festival. Photo by Heather Gordon

We are pleased to announce that our online tool for photo identification is up and running and can now be accessed here. This online mechanism provides instructions for how to browse and search the photos on the Archives’ website as well as tools to supply information and comments. Photo identification is fundamental for developing historical research on LGBTQ2+ history in BC as well as being important for the access, remembrance, and sharing of these photos within the community. We are hoping that this tool allows people to more actively engage with the BCGLA photo collection and have an accessible way to share their knowledge.

A visitor identifying people in our binders. Photo by Heather Gordon

We are also in the
process of organizing a formal photo identification event later this fall. We
will be putting on a large scale version of what we had at our Pride booths
with even more binders and digital copies of the photos. We are excited for the
future of the BCGLA and would love to hear from you if you have any insights on
potential groups or organizations that would be interested in attending photo
identification events or would like to be in touch with the Archives team.

If you would like to
get more information on the photo identification tool or events, please feel
free to send us an email at You can also stay tuned on both
Facebook and Twitter for updates regarding
this event and other BCGLA news.

Henry J. Van Lennep (AC 1837) Sketches and Papers

Henry John Van Lennep (AC 1837), a noted 19th-century Christian minister, missionary, writer and educator, was born in Smyrna (present-day Izmir, Turkey) in 1815. In 1830 he was sent to the United States for his education.  After graduating from Amherst College in 1837, he was ordained a Congregational minister in 1839.
Photograph of Henry J. Van Lennep. Albumen print on card mount.
He served as a missionary with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions for twenty-nine years beginning in 1840, in Smyrna (1840-44 and 1863-69), Constantinople (1844-54), and Tocat (1854-56). Van Lennep traveled extensively throughout the region of western Asia and Egypt.

After losing his sight from cataract in 1869, he returned to the United States.  Van Lennep was proficient in numerous languages and was also a skillful artist, sketching (in pencil or pen and ink) scenes from his extensive travels.
Many of his drawings appeared in published works, which include The Oriental Album: Twenty Illustrations, in Oil Colors, of the People and Scenery of Turkey, with an Explanatory and Descriptive Text (1862); Travels in Little-known Parts of Asia Minor: with Illustrations of Biblical Literature and Researches in Archaeology (1870); and Bible Lands: their Modern Customs and Manners Illustrative of Scripture (1875).  He also executed several drawings for Professor Edward Hitchcock, including his Geology of Massachusetts (1841) and Illustrations of Surface Geology (1860).
The bulk of the collection of the Henry J. Van Lennep (AC 1837) Sketches and Papers consists of pencil sketches and watercolors of scenery, people and artifacts, chiefly Turkish but also some American. In addition, a small amount of personal papers include passports related to his travel as a missionary in Turkey, a notebook of sermons written by Van Lennep in Armenian, and portrait photographs.
Through collaboration between the Archives & Special Collections, Digital Programs, and Metadata the entire collection of Henry J. Van Lennep (AC 1837) Sketches and Papers has been digitized and is accessible through the Amherst College Digital Collections.
Henry J. Van Lennep watercolor sketch of a Constantinople street.

Truman Library Ground-breaking Ceremony

The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, MO, is undergoing a year-long renovation that will result in a new Truman permanent exhibition, new amenities for visitors, and enhanced educational and community programming.

Yesterday, I joined Missouri Governor Mike Parson, Missouri State Senator John Rizzo, Clifton Truman Daniel (President Truman’s oldest grandson), and Library Director Kurt Graham for a ceremonial ground-breaking to mark the beginning of this major renovation and expansion project.

Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero speaks at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Harry S. Truman Library’s renovation. (Courtesy photo by Lacey Helmig, Truman Library Institute)

64 years ago, on the 8th of May in 1955, Harry S. Truman himself stuck a shovel in the ground here to launch the construction of this, our third Presidential Library in the National Archives family of presidential libraries.

When Franklin Roosevelt dedicated the first of these libraries in Hyde Park, New York, he articulated a vision for these institutions that very much guides our work to this day. He said:

“It seems to me that the dedication of a library is in itself an act of faith. To bring together the records of the past and to house them in buildings where they will be preserved for the use of men and women in the future, a Nation must believe in three things. It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. And it must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgment in creating their own future.”   

That belief in the capacity of our people to learn from the past is what drives us in our work.  At a time when studies show us that 60% of U.S. citizens would flunk the U.S. citizenship test, that 25% of Americans don’t know that Freedom of Speech is protected under the First Amendment, fewer than 50% can name a single Supreme Court justice, yet 2/3 of Americans know at least one American Idol judge, and nearly 2/3 of Americans cannot name all three branches of government, yet 3 out of 4 can name all three Stooges—at a time like this the work of the Presidential Libraries is critical to the future of our democracy.

This library has led the way in using the records of this president’s administration to teach students how our government works. The White House Decision Center, pioneered here and now standard in other Presidential Libraries, provides an experiential and collaborative learning experience for sixth through 12 graders. Students assume the roles of President Truman’s cabinet members, have access to all the intelligence that the cabinet did through facsimiles from our records, and deal with the real issues before the President during his administration—ending the war with Japan, addressing postwar Civil Rights in the Armed Forces, reacting to the Soviet blockade of Berlin, and responding to the Communist invasion of South Korea.

Students learn how their government works, the three branches of government, checks and balances, rights and responsibilities.  

I am extremely proud of our work here and am grateful to the Truman Institute Board and staff, my staff, and the many generous donors to this renovation project. And I think Harry S. Truman would be very pleased with our efforts. In a 1959 letter to a donor he said:

“It is my ambition to make the Library a center for the study of the Presidency…This Republic of ours is unique in the history of government and if the young people coming along in the future generations do not understand it and appreciate what they have, it will go the way of the Judges of Israel, the City State of Greece, the Great Roman Republic and the Dutch Republic.”

Thank you, Mr. President!

Harry S. Truman at Groundbreaking for Truman Library, 5/8/1955. National Archives Identifier 6789287

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.

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.

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.

Scrapbooks to the Past, Gadsden County Edition

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.

A page from the 1928-1932 scrapbook. The caption reads “4-H Club Girls’ Exhibit of Canned Products. Achievement Day 1929” [See Original Scrapbook]

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.

Stein Gertrude Stein to Lecture Lecture

“In the fall of 1934, Gertrude Stein arrived in America to much buzz about “Gertrude Stein.” Her photo appeared on the cover of Time magazine following the blockbuster success of her accessible and witty The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933). Journalists and a film crew waited at the dock to document Stein’s arrival. Her name appeared in lights in Times Square. Receptions were held in her honor. She enjoyed tea at the White House with Eleanor Roosevelt and dinner in Beverly Hills with Charlie Chaplin. She received the key to her hometown city of San Francisco. Fans and skeptics filled lecture halls across the United States to hear her Lectures in America. A two-month lecture tour turned into seven. Everywhere she went Gertrude Stein made headline news.”

Kirsch, Sharon J. “Gertrude Stein Delivers.” Rhetoric Review, vol. 31, no. 3, 2012, pp. 254–270.

One of Stein’s stops on her “Lectures in America” tour was Amherst College.

From the Amherst Student, January 7, 1935:




Stein gave her lecture on January 9, 1935, as reported in The Amherst Student for January 10, 1935:



Sharon Kirsch describes Stein’s tour of the United States as a public relations triumph — Stein achieved a tremendous degree of celebrity and name recognition even though the majority of those who attended her public lectures had likely never read any of her work. Stein herself later commented on that celebrity in Everybody’s Autobiography (1937):

“It was very nice being a celebrity a real celebrity who can decide who they want to meet and say so and they come or do not come as you want them. I never imagined that would happen to me to be a celebrity like that but it did and when it did I liked it.”

In addition to the coverage in The Amherst Student, we hold other traces of Stein’s visit in the Archives & Special Collections. We hold three letters and a postcard from Stein to Amherst President Stanley King; Stein and Alice B. Toklas both inscribed a copy of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (New York, 1933) for King upon their visit:

ABT tp.jpg

ABT inscription.jpg

Since the arrival of Ted Baird’s diaries in the Archives, we now regularly consult them to see if he commented on campus events. Gertrude Stein’s visit, and the dinner at President King’s home afterward, are recorded in this brief entry from January 9, 1935:

TB diary.jpg

Fortunately, Baird’s handwriting is more legible than Stein’s. Anyone interested in attempting to decipher the letters Stein sent to Stanley King is welcome to visit the Archives & Special Collections to see what other details from her visit can be recovered.

Concert Singer Harry T. Burleigh Performs at City Hall

Henry Thacker Burleigh (1866–1949), was an African-American classical composer, arranger, and singer known for his rich baritone voice. He is also noted for being a key contributor in the development and dissemination of the African-American spiritual.  And through his published musical arrangements, set in a western classical style, Burleigh played a significant role in introducing African-American spirituals into the standard repertoire of the concert and recital hall.

On April 2, 1944 Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia welcomed Burleigh to City Hall to perform on the Mayor’s weekly program Talk to the People over WNYC. The Mayor introduced Burleigh:

We have a distinguished visitor here in the office today, an old friend of mine, Harry Thacker Burleigh, famed American composer. To him is due in a great measure the credit of a place among musical classics of spirituals which have become recognized as typically American. It is his arrangement of ‘Deep River’ which is now sung all over the world, and of the spiritual, ‘Were You There?’ – you remember that, ‘Were You There When They Crucified Our Lord’ – that have brought these spirituals to the front wherever music is appreciated, and everyone knows ‘Little Mother of Mine,’ made famous by John McCormack, all over the world.

Maestro Burleigh was born in 1866 and came to New York in 1892. He has sung at St. George’s Church here in Manhattan. For 49 consecutive years, on Palm Sunday, he has sung the immortal “The Palms’ by Faure, at St. George’s Church. Maestro Burleigh, won’t you close this program by singing ‘The Palms’ for us?

As you will hear, Burleigh graciously obliged. 

Burleigh played a significant role in the development of American art song, composing more than 200 works in the genre. He was also the first African-American composer celebrated for his concert songs as well as for his adaptations of African-American spirituals. He died at age 82 in 1949. More than 2,000 people paid their respects at his funeral. 

 Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives.



Houdini’s Little Brother: The Keeper of His Secrets

Theo Hardeen in 1916.
(J. Willis Sayre Collection of Theatrical Photographs/Wikimedia Commons)

On July 3, 1939, Theo Hardeen, the sibling and heir to the secrets of the great escape artist Harry Houdini, came to the WNYC studio. In a scripted interview, Hardeen talked about working closely with his brother but said he would take Houdini’s secrets to the grave. It was a statement that was not entirely true. While he reportedly burned most of Houdini’s papers, the illusionist’s library of magic and spiritualism was left to the Library of Congress. In this brief interview, Hardeen reveals little, only outlining the basic principles of magic. Following Harry Houdini’s death in 1926, Hardeen toured the vaudeville circuit performing many of his and his brother’s escape routines. His appearance on WNYC’s The Voice of the Theatre is mainly due to his role in Olsen and Johnson’s Broadway musical review Hellzapoppin.Hardeen was born Ferencz Deszo Weisz in Hungary on March 4, 1876. He was Harry Houdini’s younger sibling and was first called Deshi, then Dash. Immigration officers in New York City changed the Weisz family name to Weiss and Ferencz’s became Theodore. Later he changed it once more and became Theodore Hardeen. So named, Hardeen became established as an escape artist in his own right and the heir to his brother’s secrets.

Hardeen poster Triangle Poster Printing Co., circa 1931.
(Library of Congress)

According to the Library of Congress, Hardeen actively promoted himself as the heir to his brother’s magic, and always remained ‘the brother of Houdini.’ Although he was commonly referred to as ‘the handcuff king,’ Theo Hardeen could never quite compete with the dramatic and creative efforts of his older sibling. After entertaining troops during World War II, he died in 1945.The Voice of the Theatre was launched on June 12, 1939. The program was a short-lived experiment by the League of New York Theatres for promoting their productions with short interviews, show gossip and news. Based on newspaper radio listings, it appears to have continued through the end of September 1939. This broadcast, however, is the only known surviving example of the show. Along with the interview are general theater announcements and personnel changes on productions as well as a touch of gossip about Lillian Hellman’s new house and Katherine Hepburn’s limousine, driver, and bodyguard. 

Show host Ezra McIntosh in 1931.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

In this broadcast the genial host Ezra McIntosh also answers a series of listener questions followed by “a brief memory picture” of music from Babes in Toyland and several other plays. McIntosh began his career with  NBC in the early 1930s. His tenure at WNYC appears to have been brief, although he can be heard introducing the distinguished guests at the dedication ceremony for WNYC’s WPA murals in August 1939. McIntosh also spent time with WKNY in Kingston, New York, and WWNC in Ashville, North Carolina. In 1947 he reportedly directed an NBC program starring the blind pianist Alec Templeton.

An undated poster for a Theo Hardeen performance.
(Library of Congress)

A Century of Mystery and Intrigue

The following blog post was written by Joseph, Special Collections & Archives Scholar-in-Residence and Guest Curator of our latest exhibit A Century of Mystery and Intrigue.

The poster for the exhibit was drawn by the curator. Can you spot all the mystery-related references?

I really enjoyed putting together the exhibit last summer on pirates, so I started thinking about a possible new exhibit topic. The original idea I came up with was related to trains, which then became the mystery genre. I believed that Special Collections & Archives would have extensive material related to it. Also, the mystery genre could open up other possibilities, such as the videos on the multi-media screen and a scavenger hunt, which has a fun prize.

In doing research, I discovered that Special Collections & Archives did indeed have many different materials to exhibit. I found books such as The Secret of the Everglades by Bessie Marchant, Inspector French and the Starvel Tragedy by Freeman Wills Croft, The Hardy Boys by Frank W. Dixon, and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes book The Hound of the Baskervilles. I also found press books such as the one for Murders in the Rue Morgue.

In this exhibit, there are many different subjects, among which are young detectives, classic detective novels, mystery in cinema, and mystery comic books. There is also a scavenger hunt featured in the exhibit as well as small clips from mystery movies.

I read lots of mystery books on my own time, and a couple of my favorite series are The Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown. I also watch some detective movies. Two of my favorites are Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman and Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm

I have received lots of help and guidance from the Special Collections team, as well as lots of support for my ideas, and I couldn’t have done this exhibit without them. I hope you enjoy the exhibit!

Joseph posing with his poster.

A Century of Mystery and Intrigue is now on display in the Special Collections Exhibit Room. It can be viewed Monday-Thursday from 10am-6pm and Friday from 10am-5:30pm. It will be open through Fall 2019.

Musicians’ Union Archive Trainee Report

During the summer of 2019 Lorna Keddie, a graduate of the University of Stirling in Heritage and Tourism undertook a traineeship in the University Archives funded by the Musicians’ Union. Here she writes about her work improving access to this unique resource.

For the past six weeks, I’ve been delving deep into the Musicians’ Union archives to begin the project of digitising the Musician, the magazine of the Musicians’ Union. This project intends to further improve access to this collection for researchers who use the resource for a variety of projects and members of the public, who use the resource to research their family history.

The Musician was first published and distributed to members of the Musicians’ Union in October 1950; consequently, this is where my journey digitising this resource began. At the start of the project I began arranging each issue into numerical order and selecting the best copies of each issue, which was quite challenging in the case of the early magazines as time hasn’t been the kindest to them. Once the best were selected I could begin prepping for digitisation; involving numbering individual pages with a unique reference and cataloguing the titles of articles and names of authors. Once all the preparation was complete I could begin the all-important task of scanning!

Musician covers from 1954, 1957, 1967 and 1970 highlighting some of the issues the Union and its members faced.

While cataloguing the contents of the Musician, I gained a real sense of the hard work and energy the Union exerted to ensure musicians were granted fair pay and working conditions and were protected from threats to the profession including, “Talkies” (films with sound), service bands, recorded music and pirate radio stations. I found it extremely fascinating to see the changes in the contents, style and layout of the magazine throughout the decades and the reflection of the problems and threats musicians’ faced included on the covers.

A sample of Musician covers from 1950 to 1991 showing the change in style and format.

In addition to digitising the first 25 years of the Musician, I prepared and digitised leaflets and promotional materials produced by the Union dating from 1906 to 2016. Furthermore, I numbered and arranged a selection Union Membership cards dating from 1916 to the present day, including a few familiar names, for example, the members of rock Band Status Quo. I found it remarkable the Union was still using a stamp system to pay membership fees and only moved towards a system that involved paying by direct debit in the early 1990s.

An example of a union membership card from 1920.

In the final week of my traineeship I began the process of preparing the next 25 years of the Musician for digitisation; to open up this resource even further in the future!

Lorna Keddie

Digitization priorities, 2019-2020

The Digital Projects Priorities Team met on 7 August 2019 and approved the following projects for 2019-2020:

New projects:

Grant-funded digitization:

  • Women Who Answered the Call: Digitizing the Oral Histories of Women who Served in the U.S. Military and the American Red Cross:
    Digitize and preserve at-risk audiovisual materials (303 audiocasettes, 6 open-reel audiotapes, and 1 VHS videotape) that are part of the Women Veterans Historical Project. Funded via a CLIR Recordings at Risk Grant (Beth Ann Koelsch and David Gwynn)
Library-funded digitization:
  • Public Domain Cello Scores and Journals: The project would include the digitization of public domain scores and a set of journals from the Cello Music Collection (Stacey Krim).
  • UNCG Dance Theses, 1951-1978:
    This proposal seeks to digitize a collection of Dance theses created by UNCG students between 1951 and 1978. These unique materials exist only in physical copies at this time, and they were not included in a previous retrospective thesis and dissertation digitization project due to considerations including size and accompanying materials (Anna Craft).
  • Poetas sin Fronteras: Poets Without Borders, the Scrapbooks of Dr. Ramiro Lagos:
    The proposed project is to digitize a series of scrapbooks and photograph albums documenting the life and career of Dr. Ramiro Lagos, a professor emeritus of poetry in the Romance Languages Department at UNCG, to facilitate access online and to return some of the physical items back to the donor (Patrick Dollar).
  • Digitizing of Home Economics Material in UNCG LIbrary Stacks:
    Digitize pre-1923 home economics items, ranging from cookbooks to books about household arithmetic, which are housed in the stacks (Callie Coward and Erica Rau).

Faculty research projects:

  • Civil Rights Oral Histories:
    Pilot project to make available interviews conducted by Matthew Barr (Media Studies) as part of a documentary project using OHMS (Oral History Metadata Synchronizer) and the Omeka platform. This will serve as a proof of concept for an upcoming grant application that will involve collaboration between the University Libraries and Media Studies.

Community outreach projects:

  • Temple Emmanuel Project:
    Support Temple Emmanuel in a grant application to digitize newsletters by providing set-up support and hosting for the materials.

Continuing/ongoing projects:

Grant-funded digitization:

  • People Not Property: NC Slave Deeds Project:
    Year 2 of an NHPRC-funded project to digitize and transcrive scale deeds from 26 North Carolina counties. Collaborative endeavor between the UNCG University Libraries, North Carolina Division of Archives and Records, and North Carolina Registers of Deeds among others.

Library-funded digitization:

Faculty research projects:

  • Oral Contraceptive Ads:
    Support digitization and hosting of a research project for Dr, Heather Adams (English) via a UNCG Libraries Digital Partners Grant.
  • Well-Crafted NC:
    Support digitization and hosting a of a project by Erin Lawrimore, Richard Cox, David Gwynn (all UNCG Libraries) and Dr. Erick Byrd (Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Hospitality & Tourism) supported by a P2 Grant from the UNCG Office of Community Engagement.
  • PRIDE! of the Community:
    Support continuation of a project by Stacey Krim, Partick Dollar, and David Gwynn (UNCG Libraries), initially funded through an NEH grant to document the Triad’s LGBTQ+ community
    Continue efforts to expand web presence and community events via a collaborative local history collective of Triad cultural heritage institutions. UNCG representatives are David Gwynn (chair) and Erin Lawrimore.

Community outreach projects:

Infrastructure projects:

  • Islandora Migration:
    Complete migration of digital content to a new platform,

Call for Proposals: 2020 Creative Fellowship

Providence Public Library is now accepting applications for our 2020 Creative Fellowship.


The 2020 Creative Fellow will create new, original work in the field of music or sound related to the topic of Journalism, as part of the Library’s 2020 exhibition and program series tentatively titled “The King Is Dead.”

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Learn more about our annual Creative Fellowship and the work of past Fellows, or read the full call for proposals.

Proposals must be submitted by October 1, 2019.