May 5, 1970 National Student Strike

On May 5, 1970, students and faculty of Amherst College joined more than 1,250 other colleges and universities in a nationwide student strike.

00000005The May 5 strike followed on the heels of a May Day demonstration at Yale protesting the trial of the New Haven Black Panthers and the surveillance of the Black Panthers by the FBI.  As the protest grew into a national movement, the motivation for the strike expanded to include President Nixon’s recent expansion of the Vietnam War and the death of four students at a demonstration at Kent State.

DOC013-1The Amherst Student, May 4, 1970 states the three strike demands as follows:

  1. That the United States government end its systematic oppression of political dissidents and release all political prisoners, such as Bobby Seale and other members of the Black Panther Party.
  2. That the United States government cease its expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia and Laos; that it unilaterally and immediately withdraw all forces from Southeast Asia.
  3. That the universities end their complicity with the United States war machine by immediate end to defense research, ROTC, counterinsurgency research and other such programs.














The editions of the Amherst Student leading up to the strike include editorials on reasons Amherst College should participate in the national strike, letters to the editor encouraging students to resist the draft, and articles calling for Amherst faculty to suspend classes for the length of the strike.


DOC013-5The May 7, 1970 Amherst Student includes the faculty and student resolutions, including the announcement that the faculty of Amherst College had voted to suspend class for the remainder of the spring semester, stating “The Faculty of the College formally declares its support for the national movement to end the war in Indochina, to end the vilification of youth by public authorities, and to insure justice and full constitutional freedoms for Americans of all races”.


In the weeks following the suspension of classes, students organized daily talks, teach-ins, rallies, and draft counseling.  Our Moratoria Papers collection contains the Student Assembly Bulletin, a schedule of on-campus events published daily with announcements about progression of the national strike.  The Moratoria Papers also include screen-printed posters and single page sheets of information for strikers, including facts about the Vietnam War, types of tear gas used by police, medical aid advice, and a flyer titled “Pocket Lawyer” informing students of their legal rights.

00000002 00000001More information on Amherst College’s participation in the national strike of May 1970 can be found in the Moratoria Collection, General Files (Political Activity and Activism), Photographs Collection, and other sources in the Archives and Special Collections.

Double Introduction and Visual Research

As discerning blog readers may have noticed, this post was written by a brand-new staff member. Hello! My name is Angela DiVeglia, and I’m PPL’s new Curatorial Assistant.

Now that the personal introduction’s out of the way, let me introduce an awesome new weekly happening in Special Collections: Art//Archives Visual Research Hours.

These open hours will take place Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., beginning this coming Tuesday, April 28th, 2015.

Art//Archives is a time for artists, creative workers, designers, illustrators, printers, curious bibliophiles, and anyone else interested in doing visual research in our vast collections of illustrated books, manuscripts, and periodicals. These weekly hours allow time for creative exploration and special collections browsing time.

Here’s a cool postcard advertising our open research hours:


I can sense your burning question, blog readers: “Why?”

First, our collection is a fantastic and free resource for local artists and designers. We’re fortunate to be located across the street from AS220, and within vigorous spitting distance of other great arts organizations, galleries, printshops, and graphic design firms, not to mention the Rhode Island School of Design. Being situated in a city that bills itself as The Creative Capital naturally means working closely with the arts community.

Second, we know that methods of visual research often differ significantly from methods of informational research. People often come to Special Collections hoping to unearth a highly specific piece of information—say, a letter mentioning a long-ago ancestor, or a sample lunch menu from a whaling ship—while visual researchers often want to browse a broad sampling of materials in search of the surprising, the inspirational, the beautiful, or the fascinatingly strange. Serendipitous encounters generally don’t happen in collections with closed, non-browsable stacks, but we want to make that kind of discovery-based experience possible.

Third, we want to create a comfortable setting for people who may not have done much, if any, archival or historical research before. Visiting Special Collections shouldn’t feel daunting; we want to foster a time and space when one can drop in, sans appointment, to explore some of our materials. Think of it as a once-weekly, enormously extensive visual encyclopedia.

To sweeten the deal, each week we’ll pull a selection of interesting illustrated books pertaining to a loose theme. We’re also happy to pull other books related to people’s specific interests.

Now I sense your next burning question: “How can I attend the Art//Archives Visual Research Hours?”

All you have to do is come to Special Collections on a Tuesday between 10:30 and 1:00. You don’t need a scholarly recommendation; you don’t need proof of citizenship, membership, or any other type of –ship. All you need is yourself, clean hands, an ID (to register on your first visit), and a sketchbook/ camera/ laptop if you want to take notes or photos. Then you’re free to hang out in our reading room with amazing old books (and amazing fellow artists).

Hope to see you on Tuesday! This week’s theme will be ANIMALS.



Florida High

Demonstration School
Demonstration School

We are happy to announce that a new exhibit is on display in the Norwood Reading Room on the history of the Florida State University Schools, also known as Florida High.

In 1851 the Florida Legislature voted to establish two institutes of higher learning: the East and West Florida Seminary. The Legislature required the cities which would receive state funding for these seminaries to provide the infrastructure and startup money. In order to compete for the West Florida Seminary, Tallahassee built a school. Finished in 1855 and located near the present day Westcott building, the school was commonly known as the Florida Institute.

HPUA Student Assistant, Colin Behrens, works on installing exhibit
HPUA Student Assistant, Colin Behrens, works on installing exhibit

The Florida Institute was the earliest incarnation of Florida High. The Florida Institute educated both college and high school aged students. Since the Florida Institute became the West Florida Seminary in 1857, Florida High has been an integral part to the history of FSU.

In 1954 the high school department got its own building on campus, designated as the Florida State University School (FSUS or Florida High). Despite the moniker “Florida High,” FSUS was created to be a school for grade levels K-12. FSCW and FSU students in the Education program interned at Florida High until Florida High left the campus in 2001.

In an effort to make learning fun, the teachers would often assign creative projects. The students created newsletters and journals for their various clubs and classes. Florida High also had its own yearbooks: The Flahisco, which was published in the 1940’s, and the Demon’s Flame, which was published in the 50’s and 60’s.

In 2001, Florida High left the main FSU campus and moved to its own campus. Despite its change of location, Florida High maintains its close connection with FSU. Research performed by FSU faculty and graduate students largely takes place at FSUS. Research is a constant presence at FSUS, and important findings have been found in the fields of Literacy Acquisition and Mathematical Pedagogy.

Florida High jacket and pennant
Florida High jacket and pennant

The Florida High Exhibit can be viewed Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm in the Norwood Reading Room, located on the second floor of Strozier Library.

Colin Behrens is a student assistant in the Heritage Protocol & University Archives. He is currently working on a BA in Classics.

The Golden Age of the Carnegie Hall Studios

In the 1960s, a number of New York City’s historic buildings were slated for demolition. Pennsylvania Station was demolished in 1963 to much public outrage, and the original Ziegfeld Theatre followed a few years later. In 1960, Carnegie Hall was threatened with a similar fate when the planned construction of Lincoln Center put the future of the concert hall in jeopardy.

Violinist Isaac Stern’s successful campaign to save Carnegie Hall is legendary. This episode of New York: A Portrait in Sound was produced at a unique time, after the City of New York purchased Carnegie Hall as result of Stern’s 1960 campaign, but before the formation in 1965 of the New York City Landmark Commission, which would honor Carnegie Hall with protective landmark designation in 1967.

The music hall was erected in 1891, and while it was recognized as a world class concert hall, it quickly became clear to Andrew Carnegie, who financed the project, that an alternative source of income would be necessary. The two tower additions were completed in 1894 and 1896 to serve as housing and studio spaces for working artists, with the intention of bringing in additional revenue.

These studios, 170 in all, populated the hall with a lively community of artists. The towers made for a more affordable artistic lifestyle, providing a space where an artist could comfortably both live and practice their craft. There was a ballet studio, which you can hear in the above clip, neighboring an author’s club just down the hall that Mark Twain used to frequent. Painters, poets, photographers and composers lived and worked there.

You can listen to the raw interviews with tenants here, which are featured in the clip above.  

In 2007, the city began the process of eviction for the hall’s remaining studio tenants as the Carnegie Hall Corporation moved forward with plans to construct education facilities in their place, and in 2010 the last few residents – poet Elizabeth Sargent, and photographers Bill Cunningham and Editta Sherman – were displaced.

The Resnick Education Wing, which occupies the space these artists once inhabited, is in its inaugural year. Its 24 practice rooms and teaching studios opened in September of last year with the mission of cultivating young talent and their love of classical music.

Much like the famed Hotel Chelsea, also a designated landmark, the Carnegie Hall studios are no longer the mecca for great resident artists they once were, but Carnegie Hall continues to support young artists.

An Exclusive Unearthed Track by Blues Legend Reverend Gary Davis

In 1966, in the midst of the blues revival, Reverend Gary Davis was arguably at the height of his fame.  “Height” being a relative word here – the average American music fan, then or now, probably wouldn’t recognize his name. But Davis was a hugely influential figure, as evidenced by his effect on the pop and rock music of the 60s: Bob Dylan recorded one of his songs, so did Peter Paul & Mary. The Grateful Dead were big fans, and Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane still plays a lot of Davis’s songs to this day.  So the discovery in the WNYC archives of this 1966 studio visit is definitely one to take a closer look at.   

Reverend Gary Davis Live on WNYC

Reverend Gary Davis, who also recorded as Blind Gary Davis, was in fact an ordained Baptist minister (and blind), from the Piedmont region of South Carolina. He grew up playing the distinctive style of Piedmont blues and taught one of that style’s best-known figures, Blind Boy Fuller. But he moved to New York in the 50s, and for the next two decades, a series of (mostly white) guitarists beat a path to his door, to study the blues and to occasionally hear a little sermon.  Dave Van Ronk, David Bromberg, Stefan Grossman… the list of his students is long and littered with well-known folk and blues musicians.  At least one of whom confided that it was Mrs. Davis who was the more likely one to lay a little ol’ fashioned religion on you.  The good reverend seems to have preferred sharing a drink and a song.

Anyway, this 1966 in-studio performance is notable for several reasons: first, the hosts. Henrietta Yurchenco will be a familiar name to fans of the WNYC Archives; she helped bring Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, and others to a larger audience through WNYC in the early 1940s.  And the folk musician Dave Sear, who would later go on to host the long-running Folk Music Almanac on WNYC, appears here as her co-host.

And second, there are the songs.  Of the five tunes played here, two are hits; two more will be known to Davis fans; but the opener is a song that for the life of me I cannot identify, even after a Google search. 

UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: KEELE FOLK FESTIVAL Photo of Rev Gary DAVIS, Reverend Gary Davis performing at the Keele Folk Festival (Photo by Brian Shuel/Redferns)

There is very little chat – the session sounds like it has been edited with a heavy hand.  Davis launches into one of those moralizing, early gospel-tinged numbers where the different verses are actually mostly the same; usually a different first line in each verse leads to a repeat of the first verse’s conclusion.   The Carter Family did a lot of this kind of singing – a song like “Sow ‘Em On the Mountain,” for example. 

The second song is “There’s Destruction In This Land,” also known as “There’s Destruction On That Land.”  Davis had a large repertoire, and this is one of a fairly large number of tunes from the country-ragtime tradition.  Davis’s two-fingered picking technique is especially impressive in these songs. 

After that comes one of the hits, though perhaps not one associated with Rev. Gary Davis.  “You Got To Move” is a traditional blues that was popularized by Mississippi Fred McDowell, and then made famous by the Rolling Stones. 

Next is “Children of Zion.”  While the song moves along at a good clip, there’s a dark, almost ominous quality to the chord sequence.  One of the things I’ve always loved about Davis’s songs is the elliptical but ecstatic imagery he often uses.  In “The Light Of This World,” for example, he sings: “got fiery fingers/got fiery hands/when I get to heaven I’m gonna/play in the fiery band.”  Here, after wondering in the first verse where his mama went, he sings: “she’s somewhere sitting in glory”  (or in this performance, it sounds like he’s saying “she’s somewhere around in glory,” which is even more unusual and ecstatic.)

His grand finale is “Samson and Delilah” – also known as “If I Had My Way.”  Originally associated with Blind Willie Johnson, Rev. Gary Davis’s version reached a much wider audience when it was covered by Peter, Paul & Mary in 1962. 

Listening to the rough-hewn sound of Davis’s voice and his surprisingly intricate guitar technique is, for me, something that never gets old.  I learned a couple of Davis’s songs, including “The Light Of This World” and “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” from the playing of Jorma Kaukonen on one of my New Sounds Live concerts some years ago.  The former took a bit of time to work out, and I was pretty damn pleased with myself for eventually getting it.  I later told Jorma I’d figured out how to play his arrangement and he immediately said “oh, I’m almost embarrassed at how easy that one is.” 

Oh well.  We can’t all be guitar geniuses.  But listen here to a man who truly was.  

Explorers digitizing Greensboro history

By Stephen Catlett

The UNCG-Hayes-Taylor IMLS Sparks! Ignition grant has gotten off to a great start since we officially launched to the public on February 21. Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson generously agreed to help kick off our project that day, and within a week we had a select group of seven students from the Y’s Achievers program. 

These DGH Explorers (Digitizing Greensboro History) have already participated in a lively history conversation with Community Historian Linda Evans of the Greensboro Historical Museum on March 7. And since then have received training on the use of digital cameras and scanners. We started with the actual capturing of some of the Y’s own history, digitizing photographs and newspaper clippings on April 4.

Our first “In The Field” session took place last night (April 16) at the law office of local lawyer Richard Gabriel, of Gabriel Berry Weston and Wells. Mr. Gabriel’s father, George, operated two small grocery stores on East Market and East Washington Streets after 1940. Richard worked closely with his father and mother and has wonderful stories and information about East Greensboro, especially the vibrant business community as it existed before Urban Renewal destroyed it in the 1960s and 1970s. His father was well respected in the community, especially with the Bennett College students. They autographed Mr. Gabriel’s personal copies of the Bennett yearbook, thanking him for his generosity, especially in providing store credit. As one student wrote: “Without your store I would have gone hungry plenty of nights.”

We plan to capture more history in the next two months, but it has been especially gratifying working with these young students, who are very inspiring.

The New York City Landmarks Law: Saving the Past for Half Century

The Landmarks Preservation Commission was born 53 years ago this week, on April 22, 1962 with Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) member Geoffrey Platt as Chairman. However, it was not until Mayor Wagner signed the Landmarks bill into law three years later, on April 19, 1965 that the Commission became a city agency with legal authority. When Platt sat down for this interview with Seymour Siegel on WNYC’s City Close-up in November 1964, the Commission was, in Platt’s words, “purely an advisory body.”

Of course, the history behind this groundbreaking legislation—the first historic preservation law of its kind—goes back many more years. Contrary to popular belief, the preservation movement and the desire for Landmarks legislation were not born out of the destruction and rubble of the original Penn Station. As far back as 1951, Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) President Edgar I. Williams declared to the MAS membership:

“The accumulated evidence that New York’s architectural and historic monuments must be protected by direct action suggests that the Municipal Art Society take the lead in nominating structures for preservation. The controversy over Castle Clinton made many civic-minded citizens aware of the need for intelligent protection of such monuments, and more recently the destruction of the Rhinelander houses, St. Nicholas’ Church and the Ritz Carlton building have emphasized the desirability of an immediate expression of opinion on this important subject.”[1]

By 1953, through its Committee on Historic Sites, Monuments, and Structures and the work of its members, MAS assembled an Index of Architecturally Historic Buildings that it sought to preserve. The following year, MAS began to survey and document all of the buildings and structures on its Index.

Architectural historian and MAS board member Agnes Gilchrist spearheaded the project to document the MAS Index. In addition, at a board meeting in September 1955 she “advanced the suggestion of a ‘walking tour’ for the members of the Society” to educate and raise awareness about historic buildings. The first MAS walking tour occurred in 1956, the same year that the New York State Legislature passed the “Bard Act,” named after the lawyer, curmudgeon, and MAS board member, Albert S. Bard. “The Bard Act provided localities across New York State the authority they needed to regulate the built environment based on aesthetics, and was the New York State legislation that enabled the creation of a New York City Landmarks Law.”[2]

In January 1957 MAS published the first edition of New York Landmarks: Index of Architecturally Historic Structures in New York City that expanded on its 1951 list.

This eventually grew into the 1963 publication of Alan Burnham’s New York Landmarks: A Study and Index of Architecturally Notable Structures in Greater New York, published by Wesleyan University Press under the auspices of the Municipal Art Society. With the razing of Penn Station as a background, the book helped rally the preservation movement in New York City. It is also the book Platt cites and uses as a reference during the City Close-up interview.

It’s hard to remember today—with 1,347 individual landmarks, 117 interior landmarks, and 10 scenic landmarks across the five boroughs—that at the time of its passage, New York’s landmarks preservation law was a truly revolutionary concept. It would serve as a model for similar laws that were enacted around the country and forever change the way cities treat historic spaces.


[1] See Anthony Wood’s Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect A City’s Landmarks (Routledge, 2007)

[2] For more information, see the NY Preservation Archive Project.

The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014 – A Final Tour!

Our touring Hosts & Champions Exhibition will be on display at Trinity Church, Irvine, until this Friday 17th April. In this article Jocelyn Grant, one of our Exhibition Assistants, looks at the some of the exhibition items from the Commonwealth Games 2014.

This is the final tour of the series looking at the Hosts and Champions Exhibition in Irvine, Trinity Church. Each of these tours has looked to highlight some of the iconic and exciting materials from the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive that the Exhibition displays, and it would be remiss of me not to include the most recent and local of the Commonwealth Games; Glasgow 2014!

The Hosts and Champions Exhibition moves on to Carnoustie, Dundee this weekend, so if you would like to see this display before it ends, go now!

A Wigwam in Brooklyn

The neighborhood we now call Boerum Hill was once nicknamed Little Caughnawaga, for the growing Mohawk community that took up residence there. As the steel industry grew and the U.S. became a world leader in steel production in the early 20th century, Mohawk ironworkers came down to New York City from the Kahnawake Reservation just south of Montreal.  

In this episode of New York: A Portrait in Sound, you’ll hear voices of the Caughnawaga, singing a song of welcome and describing their work in the steel industry.

In the late 1800s, the Mohawk became well-regarded for their skill as ironworkers after helping build the Victoria Bridge over the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec. When the bridge opened, it was the longest railway bridge in the world, and it played a vital role in connecting Montreal to the U.S. market. The Caughnawaga Mohawk’s growing skills and desire for more work would bring them to all parts of the U.S., including Brooklyn, NY.

The Caughnawaga Mohawk frequented the now-closed Nevins Bar and Grill, which became known at The Wigwam and, just a few blocks away, they attended church service held in the Mohawk dialect at Cuyler Presbyterian Church. Grocery stores began carrying a specific brand of corn meal Caughnawaga used to make a traditional Indian bread, and bars began serving Montreal ales. The neighborhood transformed around them.

From 1920-1960, many Caughnawaga would split their time between the Reservation and Brooklyn as they took more and more construction jobs, and some still do today! Mohawk workers were fundamental in the building of such landmarks as the United Nations, Lincoln Center, the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center. After 9/11, Mohawk came to the site of Ground Zero to help clean up the fallen structures they had helped build and one Mohawk worker helped lower the beam that made the new One World Trade Center the tallest building in New York

You can read more about the Mohawks in Brooklyn here, as well as in this recent piece by WNYC reporter Stephen Nessen


NDC Outlines Prioritization Plan

On Friday, April 10, 2015, the National Declassification Center held a public forum, NDC Prioritization: What Secrets Do People Want to See? to discuss prioritization of its holdings as a way forward since the completion of the 351 million page backlog in February 2014.

The public forum featured remarks from the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, and commentary from the Director of the NDC, Sheryl Shenberger.  In her remarks, Ms. Shenberger outlined the five goals of the NDC moving forward (in no particular order):

  1. Making sure another backlog of records awaiting declassification review never accumulates at the National Archives again,
  2. Increasing public access to previously reviewed and exempted records by focusing on document-level referral review at the Interagency Referral Center,
  3. Standing up a review process for the earliest withdrawn items, particularly those withdrawn before the NDC began using a computerized data capture system in 2002,
  4. Fostering an improved and more direct relationship with researchers at the National Archives and
  5. Continuing to prioritize series of records based on researcher/government requests, the significance of the historical topic and the quality of the earlier review to provide special historical themed collections.

David Langbart, Senior Archivist, provided his thoughts on topic-based prioritization as it relates to archival processing and description.  Supervisory Archivist Martha Murphy was also a presenter, discussing how the National Archives is currently processing the remaining withheld records related to the JFK Assassination.  You can view more information about the work of the National Archives and the processing of the JFK assassination records here.

PIDB member and Acting Chair, William Leary, participated as a member of a panel discussing prioritization for declassification.  In his remarks, Mr. Leary discussed the six recommendations made by the PIDB in its 2014 supplemental report, Setting Priorities: An Essential Step in Transforming Declassification.  In this report, the PIDB advocates for a coordinated, government-wide approach to declassifying information based on those records most sought after and of most historical significance to the public.  To this end, Mr. Leary discussed the need for experts in the declassification community and requester community to work cooperatively to determine how to set priorities, acknowledging that useful models exist already, including that which drives the review of records for inclusion in the Foreign Relations of the United States series (FRUS).  He noted that ending pass/fail declassification determinations, which inevitably lead to wasteful re-reviews of records, should be a part of the adopted model for prioritization.

Mr. Leary discussed the need for improved records and information management practices.  He successfully argued that the NDC has the ability to incorporate topical declassification without compromising archival principles, including those related to provenance and the idea of original order.  Indeed, selecting topics by series as priorities is feasible, practical and in concert with archival processing.  Mr. Leary noted that this is one way, among many ways, to improve public access to high-value records, noting that agencies will need to use better risk management strategies and eliminate or severely restrict review of specific records found to have little value.  He also discussed the importance of prioritizing Presidential records as these are arguably the most complete and accurate source of information about our nation’s history and role in the world.

Mr. Leary’s remarks during the forum reflect the PIDB’s shift in focus from the quantity of records reviewed to the quality of records declassified.  Moreover, the challenges posed by electronic records and the volume of information the government now creates mean that changes in declassification processes, from a variety of standpoints, are necessary to effectively transform the system to one that is sustainable in the digital age.

To view the entire NDC public forum online, please visit  (best viewed via Chrome browser).

The panel discussion featuring Mr. Leary begins at 32:00, and Mr. Leary’s specific remarks begin at 1:17:00.

For more information about the NDC public forum and comments from the Director of the NDC, please visit the NDC blog.

Please continue to follow our blog, Transforming Classification, to learn more about the PIDB’s recommendations concerning prioritization.

Learning about the Library Profession

Dodd Hall Library, c. 1964
Dodd Hall Library, c. 1964.  See here for more information

In addition to my work as a Graduate Assistant in the Special Collections & Archives Division, I’m a full time student studying for a Master of Science in Library and Information Science at The School of Information at Florida State University.  As a Graduate Assistant, I’ve been able to apply the academic knowledge gained from my library classes to the different projects I’ve worked on as a Graduate Assistant in Special Collections & Archives.  Additionally, my work in Special Collections & Archives has given me a richer, more practical understanding of the opportunities and challenges that librarians face today.

As a graduate student, I’m gaining the knowledge needed to succeed in the library profession.  I’ve taken a number of great courses, but some of the classes that have been particularly relevant to my work in Special Collections are the following:

LIS 5703 Information Organization

This is a required course in the School of Information’s Master of Science in Information Science program, and for good reason.  After taking this course, future librarians better understand the theoretical framework for organizing and accessing information.  Much of the first half of the course focuses on the organization of various systems–such as article databases, like JSTOR, and the FSU Libraries online catalog.  Understanding how records are organized in the library catalog means that I’m better able to help Special Collections patrons find the information they need.  Sometimes patrons only have a vague idea of what they need, or a topic they’re researching and are not aware of all the resources Special Collections has to offer.  And while I might not be an expert in every area that Special Collections encompasses, as a librarian, I am able to find you the resources that that you need.

This course also introduces the concept of metadata, or “data about data.”  Understanding the administrative role that metadata plays in the access and retrieval of a resource was essential for the work I did with the Digital Library Center, in which I digitized 12 issues of The Girl’s Own Annual , and made those issues available to the broader community through FSU’s Digital Library.  You can find out more about that project from this blog post.

LIS 5472 Digital Libraries

This is an elective in the School of Information, and provides students with the guiding principles behind the construction and management of a digital library.  This course also provides students with some “hands on” experience.  Using the open source platform Omeka, students in this class create their own small-scale digital library.  There has been a lot of overlap between my classwork for Digital Libraries and the work I’ve done as a Graduate Assistant.  For my second project as a GA in Special Collections, I created an online exhibit with the platform Omeka, which can be found at

HIS 5082 Introduction to Archives

Because it is my hope to continue working in a Special Collections & Archives department after graduating, I wanted to take the opportunity to take formal coursework in archival science.  This course is offered through the History Department, and is taught at the State Archives of Florida.  My work in Special Collections & Archives provided me with a solid foundation to start with, to which this course has given me a richer understanding of the principles that guide an archivist’s work.

LIS 5511 Management of Information Collections

One major focus of this class was the Collection Development Policy, the formal document which guides a library’s collecting policies.   As a GA, one of my projects this semester has been to make an initial assessment of various rare book donations, according to FSU Special Collections & Archives procedures.  Understanding the role and purpose of a Collection Development Policy has been helpful in understanding the process for donation to cataloged item.

This is just a sample of the coursework I’ve completed for my Master of Science in Library and Information Science.  It has been a privilege to apply the knowledge I’ve gained in my classes to my work as a Special Collections & Archives Graduate Assistant.  Moreover, working as a Graduate Assistant has given me a better understanding of the practical applications of the knowledge I’ve gained.

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.

“Please let this go the rounds”: Henry Otis Dwight and the Armenians, 1893-96

On April 24 Armenians commemorate the genocide of 1915. The event is marked every year, but the centenary in 2015 has particular resonance and will be widely noted.

Even so, what happened in 1915 and the years that followed was not the first time of troubles for Armenians in Turkey. The nineteenth century had seen many massacres and had ended with several years of intense conflict now known as the “Hamidian Massacres” (named for Sultan Abdul Hamid II and the troops, mostly Kurdish, he used against the Armenians).

1898-Dwight-Harrison-Griswold-OlioSince several Amherst College missionaries were in the region for decades, the Archives and Special Collections contains many eyewitness accounts of what happened during the last years of the century. Most of the missionary accounts are in fairly obvious places, in what we think of as “missionary collections.” But there was one folder in another collection that lay quietly for many years, a folder in the Harrison Griswold Dwight Papers.

Harry Dwight (1875-1959; AC 1898) was born in Turkey to a family of missionaries but was not a missionary himself. His life was a more literary one, and his papers are filled with interesting correspondence and other writings from his career. Sometime in 1941 Harry wrote his cousin Mary W. Riggs (1873-1943) to ask for a packet of letters that had belonged to his father, Henry Otis Dwight (1843-1917), an important missionary based in Constantinople who married two of the Bliss sisters, thus linking him with our Bliss-Ward family of missionaries.

Mary_Riggs-Miss-Herald-v98Mary sent the letters to Harry Dwight with a letter saying essentially, here, take them, I can’t stand to be reminded of what happened in those awful days. Her letter was short, typed, and persuasive, but most of the letters she sent Harry were in cursive, and in faded ink at that. So for several reasons (location of letters in an unexpected collection, difficult handwriting, insufficient description), and despite Mary’s urgency, the letters seem to have remained unread and untranscribed.

Riggs-Mary-env-p1 Riggs-Mary-p2

Given the centenary of the Armenian Genocide, it seemed that the letters might prove of interest or use to people interested in Armenian and Turkish history, and it would remind us too that the Armenians were being massacred in the region well before 1915. What follows below are excerpts (long enough as it is) from the transcriptions, with pdfs to the full transcriptions and a separate pdf of the originals for anyone who wants to read the letters in full and see what the manuscripts look like. A little of the punctuation has been changed, and it would be hard to claim complete accuracy in some of the names of places and people, but the transcriptions in the pdfs are otherwise unaltered and unabridged.

Henry Otis Dwight, ca. 1875

Henry Otis Dwight, ca. 1880

It’s important to note a few things about Henry Otis Dwight, who either wrote or received the letters. Turkey was home to him – he knew how to “gad about” (as he says) and how to obtain and report information. As the letters show, he was a serious man and, I think, someone who always had in mind “the big picture.” In Dwight’s case, the big picture involved protecting his “flock” (the Armenians) and the missionaries stationed precariously across a vast empire, and he feared for the safety of both groups during conflicts. In all that transpired during the years the letters cover, Dwight’s view of the situation – and the criticisms he offered – were directly connected with the impact on his larger mission. He was evenhanded: if the reader feels insulted on one occasion, he will be soothed on another. Dwight had harsh words for Turks, Kurds, and Armenians (as well as the reporter for the New York Herald), and he was self-critical too, but he was also very willing to praise when praise was due. Although he knew high-ranking leaders on all sides, he doesn’t come across as especially political, except to use the tools of politics to help his cause when he could (and often he couldn’t). He was both eyewitness and gatherer of information from other eyewitnesses, and in these letters he reveals all he knows.


The Bliss Bible House in Constantinople, H.O.Dwight's base of operations

The Bliss Bible House in Constantinople, H.O.Dwight’s base of operations

Letter of September 30, 1895:


I went over to Pera about 11, and in coming back could see that something was astir of an unusual nature. The police swarmed in the streets and on the bridge and eyed me in a very embarrassing manner. Just then a fire broke out in Beshik-tach, and it was impossible to tell whether the excitement of the people was on account of the fire or not. While I was on the bridge the Grand Vezir, Said Pasha, came along on his way to the Porte. He had evidently waited at his house until the demonstration should have time to be broken up. Aside from the multitude of police and the unusual crowd at the head of the bridge, I could not see that any great thing was taking place. After I reached the Bible House, I was told that the demonstration had occurred, and had been attacked at Nouri Osmaniye by the troops, when about twenty Armenians had been sabred by the cavalry. Shortly after, a man came in who said that he had seen two fights between Armenians and the police at the Sublime Porte. The first was at the upper door, where the ministers enter. He saw one man carried off as if dead. Later the second fight occurred at the lower door of the Porte, and there he saw two or three fall. He thought it dangerous to linger in that region and left. After the Grand Vezir reached the Porte the police began to make arrests of Armenians. They seemed to search for arms and to seize those who had anything that could be called a weapon, if only a large pocket-knife. I went out from the Bible House rather late, to go to the steamer, and saw nothing but a rather anxious look on the faces of the people. The police were everywhere but I saw no arrests made although I went the longest way to the bridge in order to observe the signs of the atmosphere. The Turks were whispering together and the Armenians were conspicuous by their absence. Many stories were afloat about the result of the fights. The Armenians are said to have killed a Turkish major who fired upon them. Tuesday, Oct. 1. The Turks at the steamer landing at Hissar were very much occupied with secret whispering, and I thought eyed me askance as I went to the steamer. There was nothing in the paper about the affair of yesterday except a bland sort of declaration that the Armenian hamals and firemen had gathered together at two or three places in the city and had been dispersed by the police, and that under the shadow of the sultan quiet was perfect in the city. There were no Armenians on the steamer and the Armenian shops in the city were mostly shut. A general hush ruled the streets. Everyone spoke in low tones and the coffee houses were deserted. The impression was of a sultry day absolutely still before a thunderstorm. I encountered a number of Softas on the streets who looked very savage and who I observed had revolvers under their long gowns. Altogether the impression of my morning jaunt in the city was not reassuring. It was evident that the Turks are angered by the affair of yesterday and are on the lookout for more trouble, or to make it. The police are patrolling the streets but only by twos, except once in a long while a mounted patrol passes of more men.

Scutari neighborhood of the Dwight and Bliss families

Scutari neighborhood of the Dwight and Bliss families (image from the Mark Hopkins Ward Papers).

…A number of our Bible House people came to me, thinking that I could do something, to beg that I would get protection for them. They were in utter terror of their lives. They say that the Softas are going to make a general massacre, and that at the same time that the police are arresting every Armenian who has anything like a weapon they are allowing the Turkish mob to buy revolvers unmolested. I found from other sources that this was true as to the purchase of revolvers. Then came word that two of the Bible House men, one a printer and the other a hamal, had been arrested and very badly beaten. Help was wanted to secure their release, for it is rumored that they are killing the prisoners in cold blood at the Ministry of Police. A few minutes later word came that Garabed Senakirinian, one of the leading Protestants of Gedik Pasha, was arrested last night and no one knows whether he is alive or dead. He was at the new Gedik Pasha chapel when some Softas came in and ordered the people to stop working in the chapel. “We are not going to allow you to have a chapel here,” they said. Garabed Eeffendi went out and spoke to the women of the congregation who have been doing watchman’s duty there while the men were at work, telling them to go inside because the Softas looked so fierce. The Softas at once went and complained to the police that he had told the women to stone them, which was false, and the police arrested him. Happily, a Turk standing by had seen the whole performance and told the police that the Softas had lied and got him released. Shortly afterward on some threat from the Softas, the police rearrested him and sent him to prison.


All these things come to me, and everyone looks to me to right all wrongs, as if I were their father or their advocate with the powers that be. They were very bitterly disappointed when I told them that I should not go to the British Embassy to present their case because it is already known, and that I did not believe that the British fleet would necessarily be summoned at once to restore order. The feeling that the appeals of these people produces is one of terrible anxiety, for the stories are heart-rending and the possibility that I might with a clearer inspiration find some way to help them is very wearing upon the nerves. It is very much as if we were in the midst of a military campaign and oppressed with the weight that belongs to the period just before the battle begins, when no one knows just what he will have to do in the next minute. It is a little curious that I have not been disturbed by a sense of fear for ourselves.

Several of H.O. Dwight's family members with with him in Constantinople well into the 1890s: Isabella Bliss, widow of Edwin Elisha Bliss (AC 1837) with granddaughters Isabel and Helen, ca. 1895.

Several of H.O. Dwight’s family members were with him in Constantinople well into the mid-1890s: Isabella Bliss, widow of Edwin Elisha Bliss (AC 1837) with granddaughters Isabel and Helen, ca. 1895.

…Last evening a man came to the Bible House in great terror, from Donjian’s shop, to say that the police had just made a raid upon the shop as a place where arms are being sold to the Armenians. Donjian is a jeweler and curio merchant, a leading member of the Y.M.C.A. and son in law to Pastor Avedis Constantian. All the antique weapons were gathered up by the police as evidence of treason and carried off with Donjian himself to the Minstry of Police. What to do for this poor fellow was the problem and we could do nothing. We concluded that at the Ministry of Police there would be someone wise enough to see that swords from the time of the Crusades and flint-lock pistols of two or three centuries ago are not arms in the sense of the law. This morning I found that he had been released and went around to his shop on my way to the Bible House to congratulate him on his escape. He was badly frightened and nervous but thankful to get off with the loss of his goods, which had been kept by the police, to the value of £20.

…Later in the day I went over to Gedik Pasha, ostensibly to call on Mrs. Newell on the occasion of her arrival from America, but really to get a clear idea of the general situation and of theirs in particular. Just before I left the Bible House, there was a rather sharp shock of an earthquake. As soon as Mrs. Newell saw me she said, “It takes an earthquake to bring you here.” I then remembered that since the earthquakes of July 1894, when I went over to see how the ladies had passed the danger, I had been only once in their house. The three ladies were in good spirits and full of pluck. They had not seen any disposition to attack their house and felt that there would be no such attack. They had seen the Softas roaming in parties of ten or more through their street, armed with revolvers, daggers, and clubs of a uniform pattern. They had heard the horrid sound of the blows of the clubs striking on the heads of the victims in the street, which they said sounded like pistol shots, and they had comforted and helped the poor women left alone in their houses by the arrest of their men. But no harm had come near them and they were not inclined to wish any help.

…. Numbers of Armenians have asked us when the fleet will be here, and I have been obliged to tell them that I am inclined to think that the rising of the Hunchagists [Armenian revolutionaries] has made its coming now impossible unless the government ceases to show the purpose to protect the people generally from the mob. The appeals of these people for advice, the terrible nature of their position, and the utter uselessness of their hoping help from me, make a combination of influences that crush me under the sense of responsibility and impotence. I feel like crying aloud, “Oh, Lord, my burden is greater than I can bear.”

Letter of October 7, 1895:


Thursday, Oct. 10. The other day Dr. Matteosian asked me what I would advise him to do about his family who are in Biryukdere. Should they stay where they are, or should they return to their Pera home? I told him that for the moment Pera is less safe than the Bosphorus because of the tendency of the Armenians at the church of the Holy Trinity to make trouble. I told him the only way was to do as I do every day – feel the pulse of the city and so judge of dangers. He said the difficulty was to get hold of the pulse. This morning he met me on the steamer and asked me how the pulse is this morning. I told him it was less violent, but that I had not yet been to the city to find out. Just then I met Mr. Dimitrof, the Bulgarian agent here, and asked him about the situation. Dr. Matteosian listened with all his ears and understood something of how I work to get the situation every day.

Certain men I know to be well informed and to be willing to tell me what they know. One of these is Mr. Dimitroff; another is the agent of the Reuter News Agency, who gives me news and I give him items that he cannot otherwise get. Then I go among the people of all classes and hear what they have to say; their experience with the police, and with the common Turks or Armenians, and their preposterous ideas on all subjects. From this it is easy to get a general notion of how the mind of the city is acting and if there is anything that seems to have special danger in it. I take pains to learn if it is known at the Embassies. What Mr. Dimitroff told me was that yesterday afternoon Said Pasha, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, called on the Austrian Ambassador, who is Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, and asked him to get the ambassador to negotiate with the Armenians about leaving the churches and going to their homes, authorizing the Ambassador to promise that none of them should be arrested by the Turks if they leave the churches. This involves a tacit admission by the Turks that the Armenians have been driven into their present position by abuse, and that therefore they are not to be punished for refusing to submit at the order of the Government. Upon this, the ambassador held a meeting at the French Embassy and decided to undertake the negotiation. This morning early the dragomen of the six Powers were sent to the city to go to the churches and advise the people to go home, promising that they will not be molested by the police. I have not been able to learn what the result has been, but I am afraid that the effort has failed. The Hunchagists are determined to keep up the demonstration until the Turks yield consent to the reformers. Today the Hunchagists went around and informed Armenians who opened their shops that they have been fined by the revolutionary committee for doing so. Several men paid considerable amounts to save their necks from the Hunchagists. All the shopkeepers received orders to close their shops on pain of death from these same revolutionists. They commonly obey meekly for they are terrified at the fear of secret assassination.

Letters from (apparently) Armenians, probably pastors or other employees of the missions:


From Arabkir
December 28, 1895

It was a great comfort that some friends escaped the fatal massacre (Nov. 6) but the five Nalbandian brothers were taken by guile to the government house. They were bound together and shot and many others in the same manner. These have been killed and that is past but many others remain in prison hungry, naked and miserable and they have no means of comfort whatever. Call, oh call for assistance. There are women who were accustomed to dress well and adorn their persons with costly ornaments now naked and miserable hunt[ing] through the ruined buildings to collect the charred wood to sell to cover their nakedness. The churches and schools have become the refuge of many refugees who wander about from morning till evening begging and they return in the evening empty-handed, hungry, weary, cold, and almost dead and they sleep on the stones. Dear friend my eyes fill, my hand refuses to move and how can I write more?

From Keghi
December 29, 1895

I have begun to distribute the £50 which you sent. But the number of the plundered is more than 10,000 of whom 5000 are in the extremest destitution. To whom will I give this £50?

From Erzingan
December 21, 1895

I received your letter with the 15£ draft but it was impossible to cash it and so I return it to you. The only way is to send money by post. As this is the case you better send directly to Kemakh anything you decide to send there.

As to your question: As far as I have been able to find out there are 15,000 persons who are in need of bread and who cry out “bread, bread.” Some have food for a month, some for two weeks. As time passes, the destitute will greatly increase. At present we are in great fear and terror. Oh, we have become wearied with this uncertain life. Every day the fear of death is upon us. We call out, “My God, my God, has though forgotten us?” The pain of this terror is very great. To live upon the earth has become a weariness. What shall the end be? If you have a word of encouragement, write us quickly.

No. 17 [Station report: H.O. Dwight’s summary of information he has received from various stations]:



Map of The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM).

Constantinople, Feb. 15, 1896

Dear Friends,

Marsovan Station, the Western Mission, and in fact the whole mission force in Turkey is grievously smitten in the death from small pox of Miss King of Marsovan on the 1st of Feb. She was a devoted Christian, skilled to work and win souls, and the Providence which calls her away brings her associates quite as much amazement as it does pain and grief.

Ramazan [Ramadan] gives occasion for some anxiety as to the preservation of the peace. There is real danger of disturbance here also which is too serious to be ignored. But it should be borne in mind by all that the Government is now evidently doing its best to prevent any further misdeeds of the character that we all know to the extent of losing our confidence in the good intentions of those we have trusted hitherto. The Government will not now connive at any outbreaks. At BITLIS the situation is not agreeable. Calumnies against Mr. Knapp have reached a point now that leads Armenians in the villages to believe him the cause of all the troubles which have overwhelmed them. The Porte wishes to try him there on definite charges. He will probably come on here under British protection for conference with Mr. Terrell, who refuses, naturally, to admit any right to try him. At AINTAB (Jan. 30) threats of massacre are continued. The wife of the pastor at Birijik and the two girl school teachers were taken by Gov’t order under escort to Aintab and delivered safely. They saw awful things. Mr. Sanders reached OURFA safely, Miss Shattuck has had Pneumonia but its better. She writes (Jan. 29) that she feels she must stay with the stricken people there, at least [for]] a time. The slaughter at Ourfa was greater than first reported. The Protestants of the Birsjik and Roumkale region have become Muslims along with the others. At Aintab there are about 3500 destitute receiving aid. At MARASH (Jan. 28) there are over 5000 receiving aid and an expectation of 20,000 more as soon as the settlement at Zeitoun question [?] opens up that region to access. At HAJIN (Jan. 29) 1500 people are receiving aid, about half of them from outside the town. SIVAS (Feb. 5) cries for more money, having learned more fully the destitution at Gurun and other places. At CESAREA (Jan. 27) Messrs. Fowle and Wingate have visited ten villages in the Gemerek region where 1000 houses will have eaten up their last grain by the end of this month. About 75 bales of clothing sent from here have reached Cesarea, and the most part have gone on to Sivas and Harpoot. At ERZROUM Mr. Chambers is crushed under the relief work, and Mr. Mac Naughton of Smyrna goes on today to reinforce Erzroum. Dr. Andrus of MARDIN telegraphs of 10,000 destitute in the Kurdish mountains, needing £2000. Mr. Peet has telegraphed promising the money. HARPOOT (Jan. 30) has about 100,000 destitute in 200 places dependent on it. Mr. Gates says he does not get time to eat, but does not mind that, if only he can be sure that he will not be told there is no more money. Up to that date Mr. Peet has received Zt. [zolota] 14,300 for relief from abroad. Besides this, £10,000 has passed through his hands from native sources.

Letter of August 26, 1896:


An Armenian shop, probably in Harpoot ca. 1910 (image from the W.E.D.Ward Papers)

An Armenian shop, probably in Harpoot ca. 1910 (image from the W.E.D.Ward Papers)

One of our Armenian neighbors at Roumeli Hissar was in the street back of the custom house in Stamboul when the Kurds were rushing out in pursuit of the fleeing Armenians. He sprang into the shop of a Turk who hid him. Soon after a Jew also took refuge in the shop and the Turk hid him, but the mob hunted him out. The Jew begged for mercy, explaining that he was an innocent Jew, but the ruffians said that Jew or Christian he was a Giaour, and killed him. They did not find the Armenian, who came home to Hissar nearly dead with fright.

…Thursday, Aug. 27.
It is the day for my making up the local news for the Avedaper [an Armenian newspaper] today, and it seemed necessary to go to the Bible House, although I was quite sure that none of the translators or printers would be there. I have had a curious feeling all day exactly like the feeling at the beginning of every battle during the war. It is a profound desire to be somewhere else than in the disagreeable midst of disturbance. I am a coward by nature, I suppose, and am only able to be anything else by the grace of God.

…I went to meet Misses Webb and Montgomery at the train and found that the word had reached the family in spite of my negligence. So they were all there at the station before me and there was a joyful scene when the train came in for the ladies had been told at Philippopolis that 7,000 people had been killed in Cons’ple. All the trouble seems to be over for the moment and we can now count up the losses, first sending a telegram to Boston for the reassurance of our friends. The affair as a whole is the crowning infamy of the infamous reign of Abdul Hamid. For 36 hours the lowest rabble have been allowed to wreak their hate on the Armenians in all parts of the city without hindrance. Of course the folly of the revolutionists was the excuse. But the men who made the outbreak were in general allowed to escape, and the cowardly assassination of near 5,000 unarmed and defenseless people who feared the revolutionists more than the Turks do was a crime which throws into the shade entirely any folly or crime of the anarchist Armenians whom the Turkish troops could have disposed of in an hour without shedding a drop of innocent blood.

…Today I have seen family after family walking the streets weeping, barefoot, bareheaded men, women and children alike dressed only in their night garments with some dressing gown or old shawl thrown over them, these being all that is left to them of their property, and they left to seek some shelter where they can hide their shame of abject poverty and seek a beggar’s crust. The men who did these things were not men but devils. They stripped the houses and in every case destroyed with axes pianos, tables, bookcases, chairs and other property that they could not carry away. They were not content to kill with clubs, they cut to pieces with knives. I have come across more than one large stone with a bloody point that told the story of its use to crush some wretch’s skull. There was no pity, no conscience, no thought of anything but glee in the festival of gratified hate and bloodthirsty passion for gore.

…I have nothing more to say of these horrors. There are no words left in which to describe them. I feel like a sneak for being here, protected by my flag, while these poor wretches have been butchered for looking longingly at the freedom which those have who have flags of their own.

…In town I found all quiet but a terrible fear among all the people. I forgot to say that in the morning a young woman came up to me who declared that she knew the plans of the revolutionists and that a new outbreak was to take place about the middle of the afternoon, which would exceed anything yet seen in violence. She therefore begged to be allowed to move into the college premises. I gave the usual answer, that people may not come merely for fear but that if there is a real massacre commenced in Scutari they will all be received at the college. “Yes,” she said, “after we are all killed you will open the gates for us.”

…I made this journal in three copies in order to send to all the different centres of our family. But just before I went to Scutari Sunday, Mr. Terrell told me that I must destroy any papers which I did not care to have the Turks see, for a search of the houses might be made. So I tore up the two other copies and by mistake tore up clearest one. Please let this go the rounds and reach Grandma and Uncle William and Cousin Charlie as well. Let it be understood that no part of it must be given to the newspapers on any consideration whatever. We are all well and hopeful that the Hand which has been our guard hitherto will still keep us safe. But I am very glad that Isabel and Helen have not had the horrors of these days to go through.

Additional letters and pdf of originals:






The U.N. and the Challenge to Provide an International Education

When the United Nations formed in 1945, there was a lot of interest in creating an affiliated educational initiative.  Advocacy for a specialized school came from both within and without the organization, and after some debate about pedagogy, the United National Internal School (UNIS) was established in 1947.

In this episode of New York: A Portrait in Sound, you’ll hear the many voices of students as they describe their education and their relationships with their peers of other nationalities.

Two main concerns arose in the discussion of establishing a UN School; first, who would be allowed to participate? A committee of New York educators proposed to UN officials a school open not only to children of UN diplomats, but also to American children from outside the UN community. Arthur Sweetser, co-founder of a school in Geneva with similar international values, provided an alternate view based on his own experience, suggesting the school be lead under the advisement of UN parents, and that admission be limited to UN children.

The second concern regarded the mission of the school itself: would its goal be to create educated, international “citizens of the world”? Or would the school emphasize student’s cultural roots, maintaining their connection to their unique language and culture while growing up in the US? In the above clip from the 1960s, you’ll hear the headmaster and various teachers talk about the wide range of nationalities represented and the school’s focus on teaching world history.

In the end, of the approximately 1,000 children of UN officials in 1948, 70% were under the age of nine, and the UN’s private International Nursery School opened in 1947 with twenty pupils of fifteen nationalities. Today, the private International School has over 1,550 students of 125 nationalities, accepting applications from children both within and without of the UN community.


The Poetry of Sacred Song

Cover, Hymns for Little Children, 1878
Cover, Hymns for Little Children, 1878

Within the John Mackay Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection is a small but substantial sub-collection of sacred music books. From Sunday School primers to hymnals meant to be used at home, Shaw collected these as examples of what was often a child’s first introduction to poetry, hymns on Sundays.

In his bibliography which lists the Sacred Music portions of his collection, compiled in 1972, Shaw noted that “when hymns are examined without benefit of music, it becomes clear that much of the best poetry written for children, and perhaps also some of the worst, has been the production of the hymnwriters.”

Hymn, Praise to God from The Lyre, 1820s.
Hymn, Praise to God from The Lyre, 1820s.

We recently completed a digitization of 64 books from this sub-collection, culled from the 450 books listed in Shaw’s original bibliography. These books were selected for their rarity and also because no other repository found had a digital copy available currently.

These are some of the smallest materials we’ve digitized to date as well as some of the most beautiful. Hymnals were often decorated with lovely artwork and etchings, some on an incredibly small and intricate scale such as The Lyre from the 1820s, which is just shy of the same length and width as an iPhone6.

You may explore the new collection of Sacred Music books in the Florida State University Digital Library.

Do You Have What it Takes to Be a WNYC Announcer?

Remain in your seat, eyes on your own paper and print your answers neatly.

We’ve reproduced a selection of questions from the exam given to the people vying to become WNYC radio announcers back in 1948. The exam was an all-day affair. Part one was comprised of 100 multiple-choice questions that fell into four main categories: station policy, radio history, classical music, and world news. 

Test your announcer skills with the four quizzes below and let us know how you do! 

You can read more about the history of the exam itself here.

Station Policy Quiz

Station Policy (20 Questions): If you answered 15 or more correctly, consider yourself a contender for that coveted Announcer position!

Radio History Quiz

Radio History (12 Questions): If you answered 8 or more correctly, you’re a sure radio buff! I’d trust you on the board in the Master Control Room!

Classical Music Quiz

Classical Music (21 Questions): If you answered 16 or more correctly, you could be our next WQXR host!

World News Quiz

World News (9 Questions): If you answered 7 or more correctly, you’ve reached News Reporter status!

A true candidate will tally up all four quizzes.

Full Announcer Exam (All 62 Questions!): You show true dedication! Find your ranking below!

If you got at least 25 questions correct, consider yourself…

Anthony Marvin, WNYC Announcer

If you got 26-37 questions correct, consider yourself…

Lloyd Moss, WXQR Announcer

If you got 38-49 questions correct, consider yourself…

Shirley Zak Hayes, WNYC’s first woman staff announcer

If you got 50-62 questions correct, consider yourself…

Tommy Cowan, WNYC Chief Announcer

Legacy & Stories: The Samuel French Archives

This is part of an ongoing series of entries being written about the Samuel French archives at Amherst College


M. Abbott Van Nostrand served as the head of theatrical publishing company Samuel French, Inc. for an incredible thirty-eight years, from 1952 until his retirement in 1990. Early on, he realized that French’s history and output could be immensely valuable to scholars, performers, and theatrical enthusiasts.

Van Nostrand approached Amherst College (his alma mater) in 1964, offering a gift of Samuel French records and publications to the Amherst College Library. Over the next fifty years, the library accepted more than four hundred and fifty linear feet of unprocessed archival material including thousands of plays and publications, photographs, costume design illustrations, acting editions, musical scores, theatrical ephemera, and documentation of the Samuel French’s business transactions dating back to the mid 1800’s. (Take a moment to watch Mr. Van Nostrand talk about his experiences working at Samuel French in these oral history videos from 1994!)

you're the salt in my stew

Sheet music for “You’re the Cream In My Coffee” [Samuel French Company Theater Collection, Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library]

As I work on processing this collection, I will be posting updates about my findings here on this site of course, but I will also be serving a term as featured columnist for the official Samuel French blog.  To read the rest of this article and learn more about more about the work I’m doing, the types of materials included in the French archive, and interesting tidbits about archival processing (Example: where do all these boxes live? Spoiler–it’s in a decommissioned Cold War-era bunker!), head over to French’s “Breaking Character” site. And while you’re there, be sure to make a bookmark so you can follow my whole series of archive columns as new entries are posted during the next year.

Mad Men and the End of Cigarette Advertising

Remember in season four’s “Blowing Smoking” when Don bought that full page The New York Times ad, promising SCDP would no longer be in the cigarette business? It was a big deal to the agency, especially considering that in 1969, tobacco companies were the single largest product advertisers on television.¹  Listen to the above audio sample from that era, brought to you by Caviler Cigarettes.

Don’s decision may just have presaged one of the biggest changes in the ad industry at the time: the passage of the  Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, signed by Richard Nixon on April 1st, 1970, which officially banned all cigarette advertisements on radio or television.

Advertising for Benson and Hedges cigarettes in February 1970

We’ve seen Don deal with small restraints in advertising cigarettes throughout the series. In the pilot episode, researcher Dr. Greta Guttman warns him that the desire for cigarettes is actually a death wish, a notion that he throws away quite literally in the trash. In season 4, we’ve also seen Draper try to calm down Lee Garner Jr., owner of Lucky Strike cigarettes, when new restrictions banned using role models like celebrities and athletes in advertisements, for fear that it encouraged youth smoking.

As Mad Men approaches its end, critics have been wondering if the series will end on a uplifting or cynical note.  Don hasn’t stopped puffing away in the mid-season premiere, but it’s obvious that the popularity of one of the show’s central characters is coming to an end.

graph of Annual adult per capita cigarette consumption

PIDB Member William Leary to Participate in NDC Public Forum on Prioritization

We are pleased that PIDB member William (Bill) Leary will participate as a panelist at the National Declassification Center’s next public forum.

The forum’s theme is NDC Prioritization: What Secrets Do People Want to See?  This is an excellent opportunity for Mr. Leary to discuss the PIDB’s recent supplemental report, Setting Priorities: An Essential Step in Transforming Declassification, and offer commentary on the six recommendations in the report that support the need for new declassification policies that include topic-based declassification.

The forum will be held on Friday, April 10, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. in the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives Building (700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC).  We encourage you to attend the forum, which is free and open all who are interested in access to historical records(enter via the Special Events entrance on Constitution Ave and 7th street, NW).  You can find more information on the forum here.

Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero will provide opening remarks and NDC Director Sheryl Shenberger will update the public on NDC prioritization practices and ongoing declassification progress.

The forum will feature a panel of experts addressing the topic “What Secrets Do People Want to See?”  Other panelists include historians from Government agencies, researchers, and representatives from Civil Society groups.  The forum will conclude with a question and answer session.

Session highlights include:

  • An overview of the role of provenance in archival holdings processing and arrangement, by Rick Peuser, Supervisory Archivist.
  • “Approaches to Prioritization” panel discussion with experts: David Robarge, chief historian, CIA; Stephen Randolph, The Historian, Department of State; Katherine Hawkins, National Security Fellow,; Nate Jones, FOIA Coordinator, National Security Archive; William Burr, Senior Analyst, National Security Archive; and Bill Leary, Public Member, Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB).

For additional information or to submit questions in advance question, contact Don McIlwain at or (301) 837-0587.

Another tour! – Commonwealth Tartans

After opening our touring Hosts & Champions Exhibition at Trinity Church, Irvine, Jocelyn Grant, one of our Exhibition Assistants, provides a tour highlighting some of the items on display.

In the Hosts and Champions Exhibition in Irvine items from the Commonwealth Games Archive highlight the history of the Commonwealth Games internationally, and locally within Scotland. This includes some of the legacies that have been left behind by the Games, not only in buildings and facilities that the public can use, but in design as well. Today’s tour looks at the tartans that have been created for the Commonwealth Games in Scotland.

Another tour to follow soon!

New! Tickle-Me-Melvil!

Update: Happy April Fools Day!

Amherst College Archives and Special Collections is very excited to announce our newest product: the Tickle-Me-Melvil (Dewey) doll! Now you can have your very own squeezable, huggable version of this library icon!

Give your Tickle-Me-Melvil a good squeeze and he’ll say one of the following playful phrases:

Click to view slideshow.

Melvil Dewey created his famous Dewey Decimal Classification System here in the Amherst College library and we’re proud to honor his legacy today with this one-of-a-kind doll. You can too – order yours today!


Judging Books by Their Covers

Fig 1. Back cover. Leather binding, tooled in blind over wood boards, c. 1450 (BT769 .A56)

When it comes to studying the history of the book, the study of bookbinding presents a unique set of challenges to scholars. While today we might be tempted think of a book as an all-in-one package, whether we buy it in a bookstore or download it to an e-reader, historically the process of creating a book from conception, to publishing, to binding has been anything but neat and tidy. Prior to the mechanization of printing in the early nineteenth century, books were often bound years, even decades, after publication. Some books were bound by binders associated with publishing companies, some were “bespoke” by wealthy patrons according to their personal specifications, and others were shipped as unfolded, uncut sheets to be bound in distant countries. Since a book can be bound and rebound any number of times in its life, associating a bookbinding with a particular place, time, and bindery is at best a game of educated guesswork. Even so, bindings have a lot to tell us about the history of the book, and the FSU Special Collections & Archives rare books collections contain many notable examples of bookbinding materials and techniques.


Fig 2. 18th century embroidered binding with metal clasp (BR1705 .A2 V526 1547)

The most common coverings for books through the nineteenth century were those made out of animal skins, either leather or vellum.¹ One of the oldest leather bindings in our collection is on a fifteenth century Italian manuscript (fig. 1), believed to be in its original binding. Although much of the leather has worn with time, a pattern of knot-work stamps worked in blind around a filleted central panel is still visible. A manuscript like this would have taken considerable time and labor to produce, and its binding reflects its preciousness.

Leather was the material of choice for monastic and university libraries, but books owned by private (i.e. wealthy) collectors were often covered in embroidered fabrics or velvet. It is difficult to determine just how widespread the use of fabric bindings was because so many of them were not made to withstand the test of the time as well as their leather counterparts.² The embroidered binding in fig. 2 is believed to date from the eighteenth century, and it covers a 1547 Italian printed book on the lives of the Saints (Vite de Santi Padri). It is precisely these types of devotional works that were often given special coverings by their owners.

Fig 3. Paper covering on an 18th century almanac (PQ1177 .A6 1767)

On the other end of the spectrum, increased book production after the Renaissance led to a shortage of binding materials, and cheaper methods of binding came into use to meet growing demands. By the eighteenth century, simple paper wrappings had become a common cover for inexpensive pamphlets and small-format books, such as the almanac in fig. 3.³ This copy of the 1767 Almanach des Muses, a serial of French poetry published annually from the mid-eighteenth to the early nineteenth century, is comprised of seven quires with untrimmed edges sewn together and wrapped in decorated paper, which is glued to the first and last pages of the volume. The use of blue paper was often characteristic of French paper bindings.³  Unlike modern day book jackets, these paper coverings bear no relation to the text within. Since these bindings were not designed for longevity, they often do not survive intact or are removed when the books are rebound and the pages are trimmed.

The FSU Special Collections & Archives rare book collections run the gamut from medieval manuscripts bound in tooled leather with gilt edges to untrimmed almanacs wrapped in publishers’ scraps. Their value, form, and function may vary, but they all contribute to the same history. Prior to the mechanization of book production in the early 1800s, each book was constructed by hand, and, as such, each can be thought of as a miniature work of art, just waiting to be discovered.

Katherine Hoarn is a graduate assistant in Special Collections & Archives. She is working on her Master of Library and Information Science degree at Florida State University.


1. D. Pearson, English bookbinding styles 1450-1800, London, 2005, p. 20-21

2. P. Needham, Twelve centuries of bookbindings 400-1600, New York, 1979, p. 107.

3. M. Lock, Bookbinding materials and techniques 1700-1920, Toronto, 2003, p. 48.

What’s New in the National Archives Catalog: Photographs from the Battle of the Bulge

The National Archives’ Strategic Plan includes the bold initiative to digitize our analog records and make them available for online public access.

Our new digitization strategy outlines the many approaches we will use to achieve this goal, and I am proud share with you the results of some of our recent digitization work.

Recently digitized by staff in the National Archives Still Picture Branch, these stunning color photographs from the Battle of the Bulge were taken by the U.S. Army Signal Corps in St. Vith, Belgium. The photos depict the wreckage in St. Vith in the days after units of the 7th Armored Division liberated the town in January, 1945.

Wreckage in St. Vith Belgium
Wreckage in St. Vith, Belgium. National Archives Identifier 16730732

Snowsuited Soldiers Walk through the Snow Covered Streets of St. Vith, Belgium
Snowsuited Soldiers Walk through the Snow Covered Streets of St. Vith, Belgium. National Archives Identifier 16730733


American Soldiers Man a Dug-In Mortar Emplacement near St. Vith, Belgium
American Soldiers Man a Dug-In Mortar Emplacement near St. Vith, Belgium. National Archives Identifier 16730734

M-4 Sherman Tanks Lined up in a Snow Covered Field, near St. Vith, Belgium
M-4 Sherman Tanks Lined up in a Snow Covered Field, near St. Vith, Belgium. National Archives Identifier 16730735

Yanks Trudge through Snow from Humpange,Belgium to St. Vith

Yanks Trudge through Snow from Humpange,Belgium to St. Vith. National Archives Identifier 16730736

I will be featuring more digitization projects in upcoming blog posts.

More photos from the Battle of the Bulge are featured on Today’s Document Tumblr, and you can read more about “The Bloodiest Battle” in Prologue Magazine.… [ Read all ]

Sidney Farber, Chemo Crusader

As a teenager growing up in Buffalo, Sidney Farber witnessed firsthand the power and mystery of a cruel disease. When he was 15, the 1918 flu epidemic hit the city with force, and —despite precautions that included the closing of almost all public spaces— Buffalo eventually lost more than 2,500 citizens to influenza.

As an adult, Farber would go on to dedicate the bulk of his career to battling perhaps the cruelest malady of all: cancer.

Shortly after graduating from Harvard Medical School, Farber started his pathology work at Children’s Hospital in Boston, regularly examining diseased tissue under a microscope. He was so troubled by the number of autopsies he was performing on young leukemia victims that after World War II he set his sights on finding a way to successfully treat pediatric leukemia patients.

At the time, the most effective cancer treatment was surgery or radiation therapy, options which didn’t work for blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma —so virtually all leukemia patients were dying of the disease, most within a few weeks of diagnosis.

Farber was not deterred. It was well understood that leukemia was caused by immature white blood cells called blasts that arise in the bone marrow and crowd out healthy white blood cells, leaving patients unable to fight disease. He knew that folic acid, an essential vitamin, stimulated the growth and maturation of bone marrow; if he could somehow block folic acid and keep blasts from invading, he believed he could stop leukemia from becoming fatal.

A new drug called aminopterin then being tested had this folic-acid blocking ability. In November 1947, Farber and colleague Louis Diamond, MD, gave aminopterin to 16 children seriously ill with leukemia. Ten of them went into temporary remission, the first time that a drug tested as an anticancer agent had proved effective against the disease.

The results, reported in The New England Journal of Medicine in May 1948, were initially met with skepticism by many in the medical community. Over time, however, as Farber continued seeing positive results, more and more patient families began traveling to his Children’s Cancer Research Foundation clinic (today Dana-Farber Cancer Institute) for treatment.

And so, by the time Farber spoke at the New York Academy of Medicine dais on January 12, 1951 (later broadcast as a WNYC Lecture to the Laity), cancer care had entered the era of chemotherapy —treatment by drugs administered into the bloodstream— thanks in large part to his work. Rather than focus on his own success, however, Farber spends his talk recounting the work of other physician-scientists that have lead up to this point —from the 19th century cellular work of Louis Pasteur and Sydney Ringer to the fortuitous discovery during World War II that a chemical related to mustard gas used in warfare (nitrogen mustard) could help thwart cancer.

“Our discussion tonight is based upon research – most of it no older than 10 years, and as recent as this moment,” he tells the crowd. “But it is only the breakthrough which has come in these last few years. What has been accomplished is based clearly upon contributions, made through the centuries and from a variety of disciplines, by individuals and institutions scattered over the world.”

Listening to the recording of Farber’s lecture, one is reminded how far cancer treatment has come since 1951. At the time, chemotherapy could temporarily slow or stop disease, but Farber notes how the vast majority of patients were still dying. “All anti-cancer effects produced by chemical compounds are temporary in man,” he says, “with effects lasting from weeks to months – and only occasionally for periods as long as six years.”

Farber does offer hope, however, that with patience and hard work these results will continue to improve. “There will be no one V-Day when the cure of cancer will be achieved,” he says. “Progress will be achieved in spurts, with great unevenness and irregularity. . . Anti-cancer compounds are being used in daily practice now, producing effects which would have aroused intense excitement a scant five or seven years ago.”

Today the progress continues, as do the achievements. Survivorship for many cancers is now often measured in decades rather than months, and Farber’s vision has become reality.

Historical zoning maps available

We’ve made a group of zoning maps available online. These are frequently consulted by our researchers, so we’ve made them easily available to everyone.

March 1990 zoning map. Reference code PUB-: PD 2100.6.

March 1990 zoning map. Reference code PUB-: PD 2100.6.

The maps were published:

Created by the City of Vancouver Planning Department, the maps allow you to see the permitted uses of land over time. These maps are used as a first step for an environmental assessment of a site. They are also useful for those studying the history of urban planning.

Detail from March 1990 zoning map. Reference code PUB-: PD 2100.6.

Detail from March 1990 zoning map. Reference code PUB-: PD 2100.6.

Two of the maps include text explaining the zoning and its intended use.

Detail from verso of January 1998 map. Reference code PUB-: PD 2100.8-PD 2100.8.2.

Detail from verso of January 1998 map. Reference code PUB-: PD 2100.8-PD 2100.8.2.

Please let us know if you find these maps useful.

Claude Pepper and the Lend Lease Act of 1941

Committee to Defend America event flyer. Claude Pepper Papers, Series 204D.
Committee to Defend America event flyer. Claude Pepper Papers, Series 204D Box 4 Folder 17.

This year marks the 74th anniversary of the passing of the Lend Lease Bill, which allowed the sale of arms and material to the Allied Nations during the Second World War, aiding the fight against the Axis Nations until American involvement in the war helped to turn the tide fully. The President as well as like-minded Senators such as Pepper and others, knew that American involvement in the war was inevitable and that American Neutrality would last for only so long. It was to this end that President Roosevelt created the Lend Lease Act to “Further promote the defense of the United States” and it was vigorously promoted by Senator Pepper during 1940 and 1941 leading up to the act’s passage into law on March 111941 with aid lasting until September of 1945. In a press release put out on the third anniversary of the passing of Lend Lease on March 111944, Senator Pepper reflected on the benefits of its passage, which provided some $50 billion dollars in aid to Free France, Great Britain, China and the USSR:

“Secretary of War [Henry L.] Stimson has defined Lend Lease as the “program designed to hasten the day of victory by permitting us to put the weapons of victory into the hands of our allies with a flexibility based on strategic considerations.” All over the globe lend lease material and skills supplied by the United States are slowly but surely bringing the enemy to his knees preparatory to the final blow which will forever free the world from the crushing force of aggression. Everywhere that the Nazis and the Japanese are being defeated in battle, lend lease is playing a vital role.” (Claude Pepper Papers, Series 204D Box 4 Folder 17)

Telegram from Pepper to the US Senate urging aid to the Allies. Claude Pepper Papers, Series 431A.
Telegram from Pepper to the US Senate urging aid to the Allies. Claude Pepper Papers, Series 431A Box 14 Folder 18.

Up to this point, 21,000 aircraft had been furnished to the Allies along with 4,700 tanks and tank destroyers, 100,000 sub machine guns and over one million tons of steel and other metals.  Throughout the year of campaigning for the act, the young senator from Florida worked tirelessly for its eventual passage and routinely spoke at events put on by the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies. During one such speech given on June 28, 1941, just a few months after the act passed, Pepper called attention to the dire need to continue American support for its allies abroad:

“They [isolationists] are those who said there would be no war in Europe, if Roosevelt did not cause it. They are those who denounced Roosevelt when he said, at Chicago, that the aggressors must be quarantined. They are those who refused to repeal the Arms Embargo and incited Hitler to unloose the dragons of war. They are those who opposed the Selective Service Act; those who fought against the Lend Lease Bill; who have thrown every possible obstacle in the path of the President, the Congress, and the people who have thus far made some contribution to the cause of stopping Hitler.” (Claude Pepper Papers, Series 203 Box 8 Folder 4)

Pepper hung in effigy, August 22, 1940. Image courtesy of the Washington Post.
Pepper hung in effigy, August 22, 1940. Image courtesy of the Washington Post. Claude Pepper Papers, Series 205 Box 1 Folder 15.

This vocal support of Lend Lease as well as the Selective Service Act earned Pepper the dislike of groups such as the Congress of American Mothers, who, fearing that their sons would be called off to fight, gathered in front of the halls of Congress and hung the Senator in effigy. The passing of the Lend Lease Bill is widely regarded as an important piece of legislation with regard to helping shorten the Second World War, which exacted a terrible cost on the world from 1939 to 1945. To learn more about Claude Pepper’s involvement during the War Years and beyond, please visit the Claude Pepper Library online, at our Facebook page or in person from 9 AM-5 PM Monday through Friday.

Play for Pay: the “Kane Controversy” of 1902

Amherst's baseball team of 1902. Dunleavy and Kane are seen sitting together in the middle row, far right.

Amherst’s baseball team of 1902, the year of the “Kane controversy.” Dunleavy and Kane (both AC 1904) are seated together in the middle row at far right. [Athletics Collection, box OS-1, folder 8]

Today all American colleges and universities are bound by the rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regarding the amateur status of their athletes. No student-athlete may compete in a sport in which he or she received compensation elsewhere. Prior to the NCAA’s founding in 1906, rules concerning pay-for-play seem to have been adopted and enforced locally, informally, and inconsistently. Amherst’s first encounter with the issue occurred in 1901 and came to a head the following year with the so-called “Kane controversy,” which was partly responsible for Amherst’s withdrawal from the Tri-Collegiate League (Amherst, Wesleyan and Williams, now known as the “Little Three”). Let’s take a look at this controversy.

At the start of the 1902 baseball season, a new set of Tri-Collegiate League rules governing student eligibility — and more importantly, the question of how those rules should be interpreted — had the entire college in confusion and uproar. In April of the previous year, representatives of the three colleges had met in Springfield to discuss professionalism. At that meeting, one player at each of the colleges was identified as having taken money for baseball, and their eligibility was challenged. At Amherst, the player in question was an outstanding left-handed pitcher named John F. Dunleavy (AC 1904). Dunleavy had definite aspirations to play major league ball and had been touted by scouts when he played a season for Malone (N.Y.) in the Northern League.


In the spring of 1902, Amherst’s star sophomore was barred from playing because of his involvement with the Malone team, and he would never play for Amherst again. However, this did not prevent team manager Swift from hiring Dunleavy as a coach. “Dunleavy’s experience as a ball player makes him especially fitted for the position,” the Amherst Student reported on March 1 — while at the same time making him unfitted for playing. And, indeed, Dunleavy’s baseball skills were bona fide: he eventually left Amherst after his junior year and played three major-league seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, followed by a string of engagements with minor league clubs through at least 1910.Jack_Dunleavy

It might be said that the Dunleavy case was one of several that were instrumental in establishing eligibility rules regarding professionalism, at least within the Tri-Collegiate League; and it probably also had an effect on the rules set up nationally by the NCAA after 1906.

The Kane controversy, on the other hand, presented an early case study on how those rules were to be enforced.

Frank Kane (AC 1904) came to Amherst from Maine and established himself as a talented and popular athlete. He served as gymnasium director for his class and was a very effective pitcher. If his entry from the Olio yearbook is a fair indication, he was known among his Amherst classmates for a certain rustic manliness:

DOC535“What the newspapers [had] to say about him” was plenty. Controversy started brewing on April 25, 1902, when the Wesleyan members of the Tri-Collegiate League brought charges against Kane for receiving pay for playing baseball for two teams in Maine the previous summer; further, that he played under an assumed name so as to avoid detection; and also that while he had ostensibly worked in an insurance office in Waterville that summer, “eye witnesses” there never saw him actually working in the office, and that therefore there was a strong appearance that he had merely been paid to play baseball.

After examining Kane on these charges, a “Faculty Committee on Eligibility” received “affidavits” from the managers of the two teams he had played for, stating that he had not received any remuneration. It also had a letter from his employer stating that Kane “worked regularly for me as a clerk in my office during the months of July and August.” As to playing under an assumed name, the committee “found that … there was nothing in the constitution on the eligibility rules to debar a man for [this], and further that it had been frequently permitted”! Kane was acquitted of all the charges.

In the meantime, Kane continued to play ball, and very effectively indeed, as shown in the box score below of the Tri-Collegiate championship game that Williams played under protest. Kane struck out ten Williams batters.


Amherst vs. Williams, May 3, 1902.

This was how formal charges were handled under the Tri-Collegiate rules: investigated and ruled upon by a supposedly unbiased and honorable faculty committee at the defendant’s host institution. Not surprisingly, Wesleyan appealed the committee’s decision. The league scheduled a hearing in Springfield on the evening of May 9, 1902. The arguments essentially came down to circumstantial evidence, not entirely credible testimony, and a strong whiff of insincerity. By the time the parties adjourned at 1 a.m., the vote was 2-1 to declare Kane ineligible. The whole outcome was reported in great detail in a special issue of the Amherst Student of May 12:may12amay12b

Kane’s ouster from Tri-Collegiate play was, according to Amherst administrators, the last straw in what was vaguely referred to as an increasingly strained relationship with Wesleyan and Williams. At a mass meeting of students, faculty and administrators, the college decided to withdraw from the league at the end of the season. This decision not only affected baseball, but all Amherst athletic teams in the following year. Interestingly, Frank Kane was allowed to play on the team for the 1903 season, since the only rules he officially violated were those of the Tri-Collegiate League. A few years later, Amherst would be bound by much more comprehensive NCAA rules regarding pay-for-play.


Suzanne Fernando – An interview with a Queen’s Baton Bearer from Irvine

Jocelyn Grant, one of our Exhibition Assistants, interviews Suzanne Fernando, a Queen’s Baton Bearer in Irvine, Trinity Church at the Hosts and Champions Exhibition.

During one of my visits to the Hosts and Champions Exhibition to record footage for a series of tours that highlight different aspects of the exhibition, I had the delight of meeting Suzanne Fernando. Both Suzanne and her daughter were selected to be Baton Bearers during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Here is what she has to say about the experience. Additional footage has been supplied courtesy of Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Scotland.

Defining (and Challenging) the Book

The Poems of William Shakespeare from the Kelmscott Collection, published 1893
The Poems of William Shakespeare from the Kelmscott Collection, published 1893

How do you define “the book”?

What functions do books serve?

What are the essential qualities of a book?

How have these characteristics changed over time?

Those are a sample of the questions raised during the Special Collections & Archives instruction sessions for the “Introduction to the History of Text Technology” classes (ENG 3803) and the “What is a Text” class (ENG 4815).  For each class, we pull a variety of relevant materials from the Rare Books Collection, encouraging students to interact with the materials during the class session.  The visit to Special Collections is an opportunity for students to explore in-depth the specific class themes by engaging with the rare and unique materials in Special Collections & Archives.

"Venus and Adonis," from The Poems of William Shakespeare, published by the Kelmscott Press, 1893
“Venus and Adonis,” from The Poems of William Shakespeare, published by the Kelmscott Press, 1893

The concept of the codex (as seen above and left with The Poems of William Shakespeare) dominates initial discussion on the form and function of a book.  But for the “Introduction to the History of Text Technology” class, we’ve placed nineteenth century ledgers alongside Babylonian cuneiform tablets that detail temple transactions from 2350 BCE, illustrating a continuity in the function, if not form of the text (see the FSU Digital Libraryrare booksrare for more information on the Cuneiform Tablet collection).  For the “What is a Text?” class, students’ notions of what constitutes the essential characteristics of a book is challenged by materials from the Special Collections & Archives Artists’ Book Collection.

From the Artists' Book Collection, Fam-i-ly:  a Book by Rita MacDonald, for more information, see here
From the Artists’ Book Collection, Fam-i-ly: a Book by Rita MacDonald, for more information, see here

An artist’s book plays with the form and function of a book.  By reinterpreting the text, images, or the very structure of the codex, an artist’s book pushes at the boundaries of what the essential qualities of a book should be.  According to Johanna Drucker, artist and critic, the artist’s book “interrogates the conceptual or material form of the book as part of its intention, thematic interests, or production activities.”1

Many of the artists books from Special Collections & Archives abandon the structure of the codex entirely (as seen in the artist book, Fam-i-ly: a Book by Rita MacDonald, pictured right and Julie Chen’s A Guide to Higher Learning, pictured below).  Other artists books play with the connection between text, image, and structure, such as in Emily Martin’s More Slices of Pie.

Special Collections & Archives has a rich collection of artists’ books, from a portfolio containing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by Salvador Dali to books created in the last decade that expand our notions of the essential qualities of a book.  Each artist book contained in the collection is unique.  Through the artist’s interpretation of text, image, and structure, the question of how to define a book is given new meaning.

For more information about artists’ books, check out this Research Guide here.

From the  Artist's Book Collection, Julie Chen's A Guide to Higher Learning.  For more information,  see here.
Julie Chen’s A Guide to Higher Learning. From the Special Collections & Archives Artists’ Books Collection.  For more information on this book, see here.

1 As cited by Megan L. Benton, “The Book as Art,” in A Companion to the History of the Book, eds. Simon Eliot and Jonathan Rose, Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2007: pg. 505.

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.

Digitization challenges – a discussion in progress

Internet Archive book scanner | Wikimedia Commons

It has been some time since we hosted our Digitization Matters symposium, which led to our report, Shifting Gears. This event and findings from the surveys of archives and special collections in the US and Canada, and  the UK and Ireland have helped to shape our work in the OCLC Research Library Partnership for some time. However, we felt like enough time had gone by, and enough had changed that it was time for us to begin some new discussions in order to frame future work.

We often hear from library colleagues that they continue to experience challenges associated with digitization of collections, so earlier this month we hosted some discussions (via WebEx) to try to get a handle on what some of those challenges are. Prior to the conversations, we asked participants to characterize their digitization challenges, and then did some rough analysis on the responses. Challenges fell into a number of areas.

  • Rights issues (copyright, privacy)
  • Born Digital, web harvesting
  • Issues with digital asset management systems (DAMS) or institutional repositories (IR)
  • Storage and preservation
  • Metadata: Item-level description vs collection descriptions
  • Process management / workflow / shift from projects to programs
  • Selection – prioritizing users over curators and funders
  • Audio/Visual materials
  • Access: are we putting things where scholars can find them?

We opted not to include the first four issues in our initial discussion — copyright, and rights issues in general, are quite complicated (and with a group that includes people from Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand I’m not sure we could address it well). We have done quite a bit of work on born digital (and are currently investigating some areas related to web harvesting). At least for our first foray, discussions on DAMS and IRs seemed like they could have gone down a very tool-specific path. Likewise with storage and preservation. Even taking these juicy topics off the table, we still found we had plenty to chew on.

Metadata: Item-level description vs collection descriptions

Many of our discussion participants are digitizing archival collections — there is an inherent challenge in digitizing collections at the item or page level when the bulk of the description is at a collection level. People described “resistance” to costly item level description, and a desire to find an “adequate” aggregate description. On the other hand, there was an acknowledgement of the tension between keeping costs down and satisfying users who may have different expectations. A key here may be a more nuanced view of context — for correspondence, an archival approach may be fine. In other circumstances, not. Some institutions are digitizing collections (such as papyri) where the ability to describe the items is not resident in the library. How can we engage scholars to help us with this part of our work?

Process management / workflow / shift from projects to programs

Many institutions are still very much in project mode, looking to transition to programs. For those who have or are working towards digitization programs, there is a struggle to get stakeholders all on the same page: at some institutions, the content owners, metadata production unit, and technical teams seldom if ever come together; here, getting all parties together to establish shared expectations is essential. Some institutions are looking to establish workflows that will more effectively allow them to leverage patron-driven requests, while others are thinking about the implications of contributing content to aggregators like DPLA. One institution has started scanning with student employees — when students have a few minutes here or there, they can sit down at a scanning station and scan for 10-15 minutes — this leads to a steady stream of content.

Selection – prioritizing users over curators and funders

Many institutions are still operating under a model whereby curators or subject librarians feed the selection pool, either through a formal or informal process. Even in these models, it can be difficult to get input from all — there tend to be a small pool of people who engage in the process. At one institution, people who come with a digitization request are also asked to serve as “champions” and are expected to bring something to the project — contributing student hours to enhance metadata, for example. One institutions views selection as coming through three streams — donor initiated, vendor or commercial partner initiated, and initiated by the curatorial group (emphasizing that the three are not mutually exclusive). Another institution is looking at analytics and finding that curator initiated requests generate less online traffic than patron initiated requests. In a similar vein, a third institution is looking at what is being used in the reading room and considering making digitization requests based on that information. Even though people’s survey responses indicated that they would like to move selection more towards directly serving researchers needs, from the discussion I’d observe that few institutions have established models to do so.

Audio/Visual materials

As with born digital, everyone has A/V materials in their collection, and making them more accessible is a concern. A participant from one institution observed that they see key differences in interest for these formats — for example, filmmakers, not scholars, are the people who will seek out video. If there is a transcript for materials, that may impact demand. A/V projects tend to focus on at-risk materials, since costs are so high. Some institutions are beefing up their reformatting capacities, in anticipation of needing to act on these materials. If you are interested in this area, you will want to track the activities of the  (US based) Federal Agencies Audio-Visual Working Group.

Access: are we putting things where scholars can find them

For many institutions, aggregation is the name of the game, and thinking as a community about aggregating content is key: “Standalone silos don’t help users find our things.” Whether materials are in discovery repositories that are hosted by the institution or elsewhere, discoverability and user experience are concerns. One institution assigns students to search for materials via Google and in repositories. Are collections findable?

Thanks to all who took part in our discussions! I hope we’ll have more to report in the future.