OCLC Research Library Partnership, making a difference

keioI’m very pleased (and excited!) to share this story with you, because we always love to hear how our work makes a difference. After attending a 2013 OCLC Research Library Partnership meeting at Yale University, librarians from Keio University Library in Tokyo changed the way they handle special collections as a result of what they learned.

Keio University’s Mita Media Center Manager Hideyuki Seki, Chief Executive Shigehiko Kazama and University Librarian Shunsaku Tamura attended Past Forward! Meeting Stakeholder Needs in 21st Century Special Collections, which focused on new ways to provide researchers with access to special collections. Before attending the meeting, staff at Keio University Library were very protective of their rare books, focusing primarily on preservation and limiting access to them. But throughout the Past Forward! meeting, they heard other librarians talk about the benefits they experienced from providing their students and faculty access their special collections, and they saw firsthand how Yale University’s Beinecke Library provides access to and beautifully displays its books. This led to a profound change in the way Keio University Library thinks about its special collections. As a result, Keio implemented changes to strike a balance between outreach and preservation. The library now encourage access to its rare books and special collections, which not only gives students and faculty a positive experience but directly contributes to the university’s scholarly mission.

Hideyuki Seki shared his story with Program Officer Jennifer Schaffner; you can watch it below. Thanks to Seki-san and to Keio colleagues for being willing to share this story — it can be difficult to recognize when you need to change practices and even more challenging to make changes so I applaud their courage in sharing. And thanks to Jen for asking Seki-san to tell the story.

If you have a story to share about out the Partnership has impacted you or your institution, please get in touch!

New in the public domain 2015

On January 1st, the copyright expired for some of our holdings: they are now in the public domain in Canada. Digital materials are no longer restricted to being viewed only at the Archives, but are available online to all. Here’s a quick look at some of the digital objects that have become easier to view and re-use.


Tattooed man pulling on rope, by Clixby Watson, 1950s. Reference code AM1562-: 72-633

Charles “Clixby” Watson was a British painter and illustrator. We don’t know if this was a work of imagination or modelled from life or why this was created.

Melanope, by Alexander Paterson, 19-. Reference code AM1562-: 72-476

Melanope, by Alexander Paterson, 19-. Reference code AM1562-: 72-476

The Melanope was launched in 1876 and sailed as a windjammer until 1906, when it was damaged on its way to Washington State. It was converted to a barge and sold to Canadian Pacific Railway, where it was used as a coal ship into the 1940s.

The return of the prophet of the Squamish, Maisie Armytage-Moore, 1942

The return of the prophet of the Squamish, Maisie Armytage-Moore, 1942

Maisie Armytage-Moore, also known as Maisie Hurley and Maisie Murphy, was a local activist for First Nations’ rights from the 1940s until her death in 1964. Born in Wales, she was not aboriginal herself. She founded and published The Native Voice newspaper. See this Vancouver Sun post for more on her colourful life.

This is just a small selection of the items which have recently come into the public domain.

Alone and without Nonsense

On January 29, 1888, Edward Lear quietly passed away with only a servant by his side. A lifelong nomad, Lear was often alone as he hunted for new painting grounds. He was first and foremost a landscape artist and spend a good deal of his life wandering the Italian countryside in search of a new view to paint.

Detail from a letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, 1884
Detail from a letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, 1884

His Book of Nonsense, a result of trying to entertain the children of one of his patrons, would be his greatest achievement however. First published in 1846, it led to dozens of editions and re-imagings by other authors and artists over the years as well as Lear himself who revisited the “nonsenses” as he called them in the 1860s and 1870s. It also was one of the first publication instances of the limerick. The Learian Limerick was named in Lear’s honor to specify the style Lear used in composing the short poems to accompany his character sketches.

In 1884, Lear contracted bronchitis and never fully recovered from it for the rest of his life. His health continued to deteriorate until his death in 1888 in San Remo, Italy, the closest place to a home the wandering poet and painter ever knew.

We have many of Lear’s Nonsense books in our digital library as well as a set of letters from Lear to one of his many patrons, all part of our John MacKay Shaw Childhood in Poetry collection.

Ariel Dorfman: Exile and Disappearance

With a voice that is gentle yet insistent and relentless in its search for truth, Ariel Dorfman describes his and every caring person’s obligation to not forget those secretly killed by totalitarian regimes. In this 1988 talk interspersed with poems, the Chilean-American novelist, playwright, essayist and poet asks us to remember “the remote dead . . . those whom we can hardly remember, who can’t speak anymore.” Dorfman’s experience of loss is immediate and intimate: many of his friends were murdered during the regime of Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator.

In this forty-five minute recording, Dorfman uses several short, carefully crafted poems to try to capture the brutal abstract and solitary experience of the dead and the dreadful feeling of loss felt by the living. He reads his poem “Hope”, a plangent tale of parents seeking word of a lost son, who find surreal solace from reports of him screaming in pain while being tortured in jail; such news means he may still be alive. In “Corncake”, the poet weaves a vignette of despair – a mother stolen from her family who is now remembered by a kettle on the stove. In “Nuptial” a lover converses with his missing spouse telling her “in my dream you scream and I can’t make you stop.”

Dorfman seems fated to have become a leading voice for the souls of desaparecidos, those who have been “disappeared” for speaking out against brutal dictatorships. Born May 6, 1942 in Buenos Aries — the son of Eastern European Jews who fled Hitler’s Europe at the outbreak of World War II — he spent his early years in the United States, where his father taught economics. In 1954, the family moved to Chile, where he studied literature at the Universidad de Chile and achieved early acclaim criticizing North America’s influence on Latin American culture. In 1970, Salvador Allende, then the democratically elected Socialist president of Chile, appointed Dorfman to his cabinet as Cultural Adviser.

On September 10, 1973, the night before General Pinochet launched his infamous coup, Dorfman unknowingly switched shifts at the presidential palace with his good friend, Claudio Jimeno. His friend was murdered along with Allende by Pinochet henchmen. Spared death, Dorfman fled Chile with his young family, traveling to Paris, Amsterdam and, finally, the United States. During his exile and continuing upon his periodic returns to Chile before and after the reemergence of democracy there, Dorfman has been on a mission to bear witness, to use words to bring back those who have been denied by political evil their time and space in life.

In works like his play Death and the Maiden and novels such as Hard Rain, Widows, and The Last Song of Manuel Sendero, Dorfman explores how a state extends control over its people by imposing death. He notes that Hitler first perfected the technique of making people disappear for political reasons, transporting victims to distant death sites so that their graves could not become a rallying point or memorial. By keeping corpses hidden, the repressors deny the bereaved an object for mourning, extending sorrow into an endless process. This technique was perversely refined in numerous Latin American countries such as Uruguay, Argentina, Guatemala, Honduras, and, of course, Chile. The refinement: citizens were disappeared not by an occupying force, but by their own state. In Chile, the state’s efforts to extend control went beyond death. Thus, when a village found that thirteen of its men were executed and their bodies dumped in a mine, the government sealed the mine to prevent it from becoming a grieving place.

But Dorfman insists that the mind can go where the body cannot. So while a repressive state may be able to destroy thousands of its people, it is not able to destroy the imagination of the living who remain tied to a nostalgia connected to the past. Dorfman believes that it falls to writers like himself to make the future possible by creating the words that allow the dead to speak even to those who are yet to be born.


Note: The Ariel Dorfman talk was originally presented at the Celeste Bartos Forum of the New York Public Library on April 14, 1988 and broadcast as part of the Voices at the NYPL series over WNYC on April 4, 1993. The talk is followed by a short documentary report (twelve minutes) describing the various organizations that now exist in the world to assist those who have experienced the loss of loved ones at the hands of totalitarian regimes or have survived politically imposed torture and exile.

Digging the Blizzard of ’47

Christmas Day 1947 brought the biggest snowstorm in New York City’s history up to that time (only surpassed in 2006), unexpectedly dumping over 26 inches of snow in Central Park and paralyzing the Long Island Railroad. A few months later, reporters acting out the Inner Circle’s annual lampooning of the city’s administration were able to look back on the event with levity. Listen to two snippets above: a version of “winter wonderland” describing the blizzard, and a skit featuring a stranded Long Island commuter.

As it turned out, the blizzard would turn out to be the least of Mayor O’Dwyer’s worries.

The Paul Baker Experience: Embarking

There are a lot of reasons to love working in Special C., not the least of which is digging up old photos of your professors and sharing them with your friends (Nice hair, 1990s Tim Francis!). I thought that over the course of three and a half years here, I had dug up and poured over every piece of information about my beloved theatre department that the university had retained here. Imagine my surprise when I learned that we have been housing a collection of papers from Paul Baker(Wow, right?!). Okay, maybe you don’t know who Paul Baker is, so my surprise is difficult for you to imagine. 
Some context: Paul Baker was a theatre teacher, who came to Trinity from Baylor in 1963 after the Baptist university closed his production of Long Day’s Journey into Night. His move was more of a return, since he graduated from Trinity’s Waxahachie campus in 1932. What little I already knew about him was colored by the vague sense of reverence with which members of the current faculty occasionally mention “the Baker years,” but I knew that he had essentially established the theatre department at Trinity by bringing along all eleven members of his Baylor staff and that he had designed Trinity’s Theatre One, which preceded the Stieren Theatre that we all know and love. This collection was big news for me, promising an insight I’d never had. If I’d been making a little “Ancestry.com” hobby of the archives’ theatre records, this was one big green leaf. 
Having forced Megan to stop everything and take me to the boxes, I selected one at random and opened it. The first photo inside was a picture of Paul Baker huddled over a script with Charles Laughton (Google him). My nerdy heart exploded.

 Most of the materials need some TLC if they’re going to last.

Much better! (And safer!)
So here we are a few months later, and I’m up to my elbows in Paul Baker. Though there are numerous press releases dated from his time at Trinity and some information about the architecture of his theatre here, the bulk of the collection dates earlier, detailing the development of his theatre program at Baylor and at the Dallas Theatre Center, where he served as founding artistic director.

I’m looking forward to many surprises. The cursory glance I took at the papers was not enough to get a real idea of the exciting things I know are there. The first real delight was a “Campus Sketchbook”—kind of like a tiny yearbook–from Waxahachie in 1931! Who knows how many of those are still floating around in the world? Then I must admit I was a little moved. See, that’s the other thing to love about working in Special C. There is something especially personal—even intimate—about searching through and caring for people’s papers and photographs. I can’t wait to get to know Paul Baker better over the course of the semester, and I’m hoping that when everything’s processed, the rest of our campus community can get to know him better too. 
Paul Baker’s Papers should be processed and ready for visitors by the end of the Spring 2015 semester.
–Kate Cuellar, Class of 2015

Shirley Chisholm Declares She is a Candidate for President

As a rule, it’s probably not the best thing to begin a political speech by defining yourself by what you’re not. But that’s just what Brooklyn Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm did 43 years ago today when she announced she was running for the Presidency on the Democratic line. She said she was not the candidate of black America, “although black and proud,” and not the candidate of the women’s movement, “although a woman and equally proud.” But there was no denying the obviousness of this historic moment. Shirley Chisholm was indeed the nation’s first African-American Congresswoman and the first African-American from a major political party to run for the presidency.

The announcement location could also be characterized by what it was not. It was not in a smoky political back room, nor from the podium of a glitzy hotel ballroom, but from the stage of a parochial school auditorium in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Still, it was totally in character with the outspoken former teacher who was idealistic and well ahead of her time as she sought “to repudiate the ridiculous notion that the American people will not vote for a qualified candidate simply because he is not white or because she is not a male.”

Shirley Chisholm was born Anita St. Hill on November 20, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York. She was the oldest of four daughters of a factory laborer from Guyana and a seamstress from Barbados. For part of her childhood, she lived in Barbados on her maternal grandparents’ farm, receiving a British education. Later she attended public schools in Brooklyn and went to Brooklyn College on a scholarship, graduating cum laude with a B.A. in sociology in 1946. From 1946 to 1953, Chisholm worked as a nursery school teacher and then as the director of two daycare centers. She married Conrad Q. Chisholm, a private investigator, in 1949. Three years later she earned an M.A. in early childhood education from Columbia University. Chisholm served as an educational consultant for New York City’s Division of Day Care from 1959 to 1964. In 1964, she was elected to the New York state legislature and was the second African–American woman to serve in Albany. She was first elected to Congress in 1968.

For more on Chisholm’s career and legacy see: CHISHOLM.


More New Acquisitions in Native American Literature

Christmas came early to the Archives & Special Collections when we received two boxes of books by Native American authors from Amherst College alumnus Peter Webb (Class of 1974) just before we closed up shop for our holiday break. There are many exciting items in this very generous gift, including copies of some of Charles Eastman’s books in their original dust jackets, but this item eclipses all the others:

Samson Occom. A Sermon... (1772)

Samson Occom. A Sermon… (1772)

Hmmm…a piece of an old newspaper?

Samson Occom. A Sermon... (1772)

Samson Occom. A Sermon… (1772)

Someone used the first page of the October 14, 1783 issue of the Connecticut Courant and Weekly Intelligencer to make a protective cover for their copy of the 1772 first edition of Samson Occom’s Sermon. Not only are we delighted to now hold a true first printing of this important work, but that wrapper tells us that just over a decade after it was printed, someone thought it was worth wrapping up for a little extra protection. Most likely that person was in the vicinity of Hartford, CT, but it’s almost impossible to be certain — newspapers certainly traveled far and wide, and the only certainty about the date the Courant was sewn to the Sermon is no earlier than October 1783.

I am at the start of a more extensive research project into the publishing history of this sermon and its many reprintings, which I will report on in the months ahead. For now, it brings me great bibliographical pleasure to see these search results in our online catalog:

Occom Catalog

In addition to the generosity of our alumni, we also depend on the wonderful world of the antiquarian book trade to build our collections. This week it was Tom Congalton of Between the Covers Rare Books who called an amazingly rare item to our attention: The Experience of George A. Spywood.

The Experience of George A. Spywood.

The Experience of George A. Spywood.

As you can see from the cover, this pamphlet was printed to raise money to save George A. Spywood’s house. One reason I love booksellers so much is that they often save us a lot of work by doing extensive research about their books. Here is a very helpful excerpt about this item:

“Spywood happily pursued the sailor’s trade until after several voyages his friend, the captain, took ill and died. He later renounced his vices and took to the ministry after a vision. In 1844 he was given the pastorship of the Colored M.E. Church of Hartford, Connecticut, and took an active part in precipitating the schism of the A.M.E. Zionists from the Weslyans. It is possible that Spywood stressed his Native American heritage over his African for the purposes of this pamphlet, anticipating more sympathy if he hid his African ancestry. Perhaps most likely he was of mixed Native American and African ancestry. Carter G. Woodson references him as a Bishop in the Zionist faction in his study The Negro Church without referring to his ethnicity, and he is mentioned in several other histories of the Church. OCLC locates a single copy with the above publishing information, but this issue appears complete (collating 1-28pp., with separate wrappers) and contains no printing information. While we obviously have a vested interest in establishing the precedence of this version of the pamphlet, we strongly conclude that this copy has the feel of fulfilling the object of a mendicant pamphlet, and is likely both earlier than the 1843 version, and may indeed be unique. In any event it is rare.”

And here is the first page of the memoir:

Spywood 2

I had a brief conversation with Native Studies professor Lisa Brooks earlier this morning and her reaction is that Spywood’s specificity regarding his tribal ancestry — naming the “Marshpee” and the “Pumham” — suggests he is being honest about that heritage. False claims of Indigenous ancestry are usually more vague. Lisa’s other comment was that we may very well be able to track down Spywood’s descendants, or some traces of them.

This book will soon be added to our online catalog and we will also add it to our queue for digitization.

A Political Odyssey Begins: Claude Pepper’s first month in office

From an early age, Claude Pepper possessed the desire to serve in public office and as a nine year old boy, once carved his name into a tree along with the title ‘U.S. Senator’ underneath. Close to thirty years later, Pepper would realize his lifelong dream after successfully gaining a senate seat during the mid term elections of 1936, where he became and would remain a strong supporter of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies.

From the Claude Pepper Papers; source unknown.

On January 3, 1937, Pepper and his new bride, Mildred arrived in the nation’s capital after spending their honeymoon in Havana, Cuba. That night, the young senator wrote in his diary:

“Mildred and I arrived from our honeymoon 1 A.M. or thereabout and to Wardman Park [hotel] to the bedroom suite we had obtained until our apartment was ready. So here we are, a young bride and groom and young Senator and Senatress in the Capital. We have lots of hard work. No doubt many heartaches ahead of us; but I hope our stay shall be as long as we like it and we shall be able to do a good job and at the same time find our lives here stimulating and challenging. No more thrilling time to be here.”

A newly wed Claude and Mildred Pepper depart Miami for their honeymoon to Havana, Cuba on December 31, 1936.
The Peppers, honeymoon bound on December 31, 1936.


Claude would not have to wait long for his predictions to come true. On January 5, 1937, Claude Pepper was officially sworn in for his first term in office alongside fellow Florida Senator Charles O. Andrews.

From left to right, Claude Pepper and Charles O. Andrews are sworn in to office by Vice President John Nance Garner, January 5, 1937.
From left to right, Claude Pepper and Charles O. Andrews are sworn in to office by Vice President John Nance.

The bulk of his first month in office was spent becoming acquainted with his new surroundings on Capital Hill, meeting fellow Senate and House colleagues and moving into more permanent living quarters near DuPont Circle. From his arrival in Washington, Pepper was determined to make a name for himself among his peers and on February 4, 1937 successfully proposed his first of many bills, this one allowing for a harbor dredging project to commence in Port St. Joe, Florida. Just a few weeks later, Claude would break precedent for freshman senators and speak on the senate floor, an act which brought his formidable oratory skills to the attention of President Roosevelt, who would come to lean on Claude to be his mouthpiece for New Deal Legislation in the south. Senator Pepper would also go on to become a strong supporter of the newly created Social Security Act and the chief architect of the Lend Lease Bill, all the while continuing to become one of the more dynamic figures in national politics during the late 1930’s.

From Oxfam to the Archive: how to bind a lantern slide

Volunteers are AMAZING. Recently, we have been working on the Ashmolean Museum’s lantern slide collection, and their volunteers have been helping to clean and catalogue the slides. One of the team presented us with this – a purchase from the Headington Oxfam charity shop, where she also volunteers:

Lantern Slide Binding Strip box

It’s a box of lantern slide binding strips! Lantern slides are made up of the image sandwiched between two thin plates of glass. The glass sheets are held together by the binding strips which seal the edges and keep the whole object secure:

Anonymous Photographer  Calton Hill, Edinburgh The Department of the History of Art, Oxford

Most photographers made up their own lantern slides at home using these special strips. Here’s what they look like inside the box:

Inside the box: pristine!

Inside the box: pristine!

Reading the instructions, it turns out that applying the strips must have been a fiddly and time consuming job. You needed tweezers, a bowl of hot water, blotting paper and lots of patience. On the other hand there was no TV or internet, so what better way to spend the evening than to settle down with a pile of binding strips and a pair of tweezers?

Wet the binder both sides by holding one end with tweezers and plunging the whole binder very quickly through a dish of hot water, drawing it out quickly over the edge in such a way as to scrape off excess water from the sticky side.

Lay binder, cement uppermost, on a blotter, allow a minute to become ‘tacky.’ Pick up a slide and cover glass and press one edge firmly to a length of binder, being careful to see that the width of the binder projects equally on each side of the slide; then rub down the projecting portions on to the front and back respectively of the slide.

Continue with the remaining three sides in a similar manner, and having completed the slide allow to dry out and set.

We’ll let you know what happens if we find a moment to repair any of our damaged slides. Anyone got any blotting paper?

Work Placements in Conservation 2015

Kat Saunt and Erika Freyr have just started working in the University Archives. They are assisting Elizabeth Yamada in the Wellcome Trust funded project to conserve the records of the Royal Scottish National Hospital.

Kat and Erika in the conservation room

Kat and Erika in the conservation room

The work placements have been designed for recent graduates or those about to apply for courses in conservation. They are intended to provide valuable experience of working in an archive on a large scale project in an academic environment.

Folded application

Folded application

The work requires a very high level of manual dexterity due to the degraded condition of the paper records. Each case file has to be carefully unfolded by hand before being flattened and cleaned, so that crucial repairs can be done. The aim is to stabilise the documents so that they can be safely handled by researchers and archivists.

One difficult aspect of this project is the sheer volume of paper to be treated over just ten weeks. This time constraint means that objects are treated according to their condition, and not all damage will be addressed. The goal in archive conservation is to protect the integrity of the data on each object rather than treating the aesthetics. This means that treatment is limited to dry cleaning and mending of tears. More extensive repairs, washing or alkalising can be done at a later stage if necessary, but would be beyond the remit of a project such as this.

Flattened applications
Flattened applications

Time management and allocation of resources is a constant consideration. For example, with a limited supply of pressing boards, some boxes of files are being cleaned while others are still flattening, so it is important to be mindful of the order in which the work is completed.


Rusted paper fasteners

Rusted paper fasteners

Almost all of the case files were held together with metal fixings which rust. Rust causes a chemical reaction in the paper which destroys the structural integrity of the sheet. Each fixing must therefore be removed, which is a delicate and time consuming task. (If fixings are necessary, brass is ideal. Please keep your future conservators in mind as you file!)


Once flattened, the sheets are cleaned using a latex chemical sponge. Dirt adheres to the latex better than to the paper and so it is lifted away without the need for abrasion. This is much gentler than using an eraser and much more effective than using a brush, giving the best cleaning result with the least risk to the very brittle paper.

Conservation tools

Conservation tools

The next step will be to start the process of repairing and rehousing the cleaned paper files. This will be the subject for a later blog.

Many Happy Returns to the Prince of Tallahassee

On January 21, 1801, Charles Louis Napoleon Achille Murat was born to Joachim and Caroline Bonaparte Murat, Napoleon Bonaparte’s youngest sister. Through the family’s connections with the Emperor, Joachim was eventually made King of Naples, hence the Prince Murat title. Upon the Emperor’s second defeat in 1815, Achille’s father was executed and his mother fled with her children to Vienna.

Achille would emigrate to America upon his 21st birthday in 1821 and became a naturalized citizen fairly soon after, renouncing all his titles. After roaming the country, he settled in Washington DC where he happened to become friends with Richard Keith Call, Florida’s territorial delegate to Congress who told the young man of the many opportunities in the newly acquired territory.

Murat settled first in St. Augustine but later purchased his Lipona Plantation outside Tallahassee after much prodding from the Marquis de Lafayette.  Murat became involved in local politics quickly, serving as alderman and mayor until appointed postmaster in 1826, a post he held until 1838. It was also in Tallahassee that Murat met his future wife, Catherine Daingerfield Willis Gray, great grandniece of George Washington. Murat was also a part of Florida’s militia and would hold the rank of colonel for the rest of his life following the Seminole Wars.

Illustration of Murat and Emerson from A Prince In Their Midst
Illustration of Murat and Emerson from A Prince In Their Midst; The Adventurous Life of Achille Murat on the American Frontier 

A man of many interests, Murat was a writer. He, along with his fellow countryman Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote much on American culture and lifestyle during his lifetime though Murat’s writing never became as popular as Tocqueville. He also had a close friendship with Ralph Waldo Emerson whom he met in St. Augustine in 1826.

After an attempt to regain some of his family’s fortune in the July Revolution of 1830 and several unsuccessful years in New Orleans, Murat and his wife moved back in Tallahassee in the mid 1830s and Murat would remain here the rest of his life. Murat died in 1847 and is buried  in the St. John’s Episcopal Church cemetery in Tallahassee.

Recently, through the efforts of a local group, the historic marker outside the cemetery where Murat and his wife are buried was restored after mysteriously vanishing a year ago. You can read about the new marker and those who helped get it back in place on the Tallahassee Democrat’s website.


WNYC and the NYPD: In Search of Criminals

WNYC, the city-owned and operated station, maintained a good relationship with the New York City Police Department, serving early on as part of its communications apparatus for locating both criminals and missing persons. In fact, WNYC continued the progress initiated by WLAW, the police department’s first fully functional broadcast facility, operating between September, 1922 and August, 1924.[1].

Radio Bloodhound

In fact, long before Fox’s America’s Most Wanted and the FBI enlisting of the national media to apprehend The Ten Most Wanted List, the NYPD used WNYC to help track down criminals. In January, 1925, magazine writer James C. Young described it this way:

“The mission of WNYC is not always entertainment or instruction. It has a grim purpose, in part. Every night at 7:30 and 10:30 a man in a blue coat and prominent brass buttons sits down at the microphone. ‘WNYC broadcast,’ he says, ‘for the New York Police Department. General alarm for Harry Martin, age 30, 5 ft. 6 in. tall, weight about 140 pounds. Dark face with bold features and frowning eyes. Has a slight limp. Dangerous man. Escaped from Welfare Island early today. Believed traveling west.’ The listener rather catches his breath at such use of radio. It is an eerie thing–this pursuit of a man by air. An observer wonders what chance there will be of detecting Harry Martin among all the other men in the country of that general appearance. But his speculations are cut short by a new description, which the officer is spreading far and wide. This time another man is wanted. And presently it is another, until the department has sent out the particulars of some twelve or fifteen men whom the law demands.” [2]

The writer claimed the programming worked and that “no quicker method is known to criminal procedure, and it has the power of drama.” Similarly, he added, stolen automobiles were tracked down and missing persons found. [3]

As late as December 1994, WNYC, the NYPD and the New York City Police Foundation were planning a regular half-hour show to broadcast the mug shots and criminal records of accused murderers, thieves and violators of parole and probation over WNYC-TV, Channel 31. The program was scheduled for weeknights and offered viewers rewards of up to $1,000 for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of suspects. [4]

Police Booth & Station House Communications

In June, 1925 The Christian Science Monitor reported on a soon-to-debut special police frequency using WNYC “to light a signal light at any police station or booth in the city,…all of them simultaneously or…in any number of selected precincts at once.” The paper explained, “the signaling is accomplished by sending dot and dash combinations of musical tone over the wavelength…The radio police alarm system is believed to mark an advance in rapid communication for the prevention of crime and the arrest of criminals…” [5]  The Bell Labs-developed system (pictured above in part) became a model for other departments. It was described in great detail in the October, 1926 Bell technical journal, which noted the NYPD planned to “equip the precinct houses and police booths located  in various parts of the city with receiving sets with which they could listen in on communications from the headquarters station WNYC.”[6]

Cooperation between WNYC and the NYPD extended to various public relations and community-oriented programs as well. These included Pals of the P.A.L. a youth variety show and a singing safety policeman on The Police Safety Program, a show for younger children. The police and WNYC also worked closely on most issues around civil defense and on Election Day with the communications involved with the release of polling returns through the police department’s facilities.  


[1] Jaker, Bill, Frank Sulek and Peter Kanze, The Airwaves of New York, “WLAW,” McFarland & Company, 1998,  pg. 109.

[2] Young, James C., “Radio-Voice of the City,” Radio Broadcast, Vol. 6, No. 3., January, 1925, p.446. Editor’s Note: WNYC was among the earliest, but the not the first. Our research indicates Municipal station WRR in Dallas, Texas was the first licensed radio station to be used by the police to capture suspected outlaws.

[3] Ibid.

[4] “N.Y.P.D. Blue” is about to face some new competition — from the N.Y.P.D. itself,” The New York Times, December 21, 1994. 

[5] “Radio Police Signal Perfected, Christian Science Monitor, June 5, 1925, p.12.

[6] Anderson, S.E., “Radio Signaling System for the New York Police Department,” The Bell System Technical Journal, October, 1926, pg. 529.

WNYC and the NYPD Agree, Don’t Run Away from Home!

It should come as no surprise that as a city-owned and operated station, WNYC maintained a good relationship with the New York City Police Department, serving early on as part of its communications apparatus for locating missing persons. In fact, the Missing Persons Alarms or reports are among the oldest of WNYC’s regularly broadcast features, beginning with the launch of the station in July, 1924. The NYPD Missing Persons Bureau was then only six years old and under the direction of Captain John H. Ayers (1897-1943). Initially, the programs were nothing more than the names and descriptions of people who had disappeared and were sought by friends and relatives. Said Ayers:

“When the detective rings off, I direct that a radio broadcast regarding Bennett’s disappearance be made through Municipal Broadcasting Station WNYC. We give a complete description of the missing man; his age, height, weight, color of his hair, eyes, the clothing he wore, his teeth, scars, birthmarks.”[1]

WNYC Missing Persons Alarm, December 2, 1931.

Later, the broadcasts included short ‘sermons’ or homilies about why it is unwise to run away from home and the like, written by the announcing officers themselves. Profiling the reports in 1940, New York Sun writer Samuel Kaufman got a bit hyperbolic when he described the daily five-minute program as “packed with more drama, pathos and human interest than many stations present in a full day’s broadcast.”[2]

From 1934 to 1943, the NYPD Missing Persons Bureau was headed up by Captain John G. Stein (1879-1972), who, following in Ayres’ footsteps, also broadcast regularly from WNYC in “a clear flexible voice” radio experts called “ideal for broadcasting.”[3] Within a year of taking command of the bureau, Stein took the show from five to fifteen minutes daily and brought in four additional detectives who first had to pass an audition and reportedly opened each program with “the wail of a police siren.”[4] Among the new reader-detectives was George L. O’Connor, profiled by writer and veteran newspaperman Joseph Mitchell.

“…Every weekend throughout the winter he goes swimming among the ice floes and grapefruit rinds in the surf at Coney Island; he is in fact, President of the Icebergs Athletic Club. He writes sentimental poetry. He used to be a tap dancer with a Primrose and Dockstader minstrel show, and at 48 is still able to make a lot of noise with his shoes. ‘However,’ he said today, ‘I think my most important accomplishment is my Missing Persons human interest broadcast. I am a keen student of psychology, and I take these stories from the original files, stories of broken home ties, and broadcast them over WNYC, the municipal broadcasting station, at 1 P.M. on Sundays. I write a poem about each case and finish up with that, and I feel the broadcast is an important police service…’ ”[5]

Stein wrote the broadcasts brought in many tips and responses, including word from the missing themselves, who knew to tune in “on the

chance of hearing themselves described, then ‘phone in and complain if they weren’t.”[6]  The progressive tabloid PM noted that a lot of women listened  to Captain Stein over WNYC.  Because of this, Stein explained he would not broadcast the name and description of missing young women until several days had passed, at the risk of soiling a girl’s reputation.

“Why should everybody in Flatbush know Mabel wasn’t home last night? Suppose a year from now Mabel gets married. Say she married Harry. They put it in the papers. The neighbors read about it. Should they be able to discuss with each other, ‘I wonder if Harry knows about that night Mabel didn’t come home? It was on the radio. I heard it myself! Most of these things are only overnight disappearances. Girls around 16, the foolish age, when they think they know everything. Women, women!” [7]

The Missing Persons broadcasts were highlighted with the opening of the station’s new WPA-built studios on October 23, 1937. In the day’s featured radio drama, The Voice of the People, Mayor La Guardia and other officials played themselves as they extolled the virtues of the city’s radio station through a series of vignettes. In one dramatized segment a boy listener complains to his father that WNYC is boring, “No movie stars or nothin’. “  His father, however, points out the excitement inherent in the daily Missing Persons Report direct from police headquarters. “There’s material for a dozen novels, and all true stories, too,” says the father before he describes one case solved with WNYC’s help that segues to the drama. [8] Even Time Magazine recognized the broadcast’s effectiveness in helping to find runaway girls in the big city, noting, “an appreciable few went home in response to the Bureau’s famed daily five minutes of missing persons alarms over ‘New York City’s Own Station,’ WNYC, kindly father of this sort of broadcasting…”[9] 

After what appears to be a brief hiatus, the missing person reports were reintroduced in March, 1956 with five-minute bulletins four times a week. A WNYC press release referred to the broadcasts as ‘missing persons alarms,’ that “will expedite the location of many amnesia cases, runaway youngsters and others who are reported lost by their worried families.”[10] Below, courtesy of the Municipal Archives, is the inaugural broadcast for the renewed bulletins.

At this writing it is not clear when this ‘renewed’ Missing Persons report came to an end, but the station cited the broadcasts in a submission to the FCC as late as 1982, saying, “WNYC maintains a permanent remote facility at the Police Department’s Missing Persons Bureau. On a regular basis, as it has for over 40 years, the station reports information therefrom at 1:50 PM. Finding persons as a result of the broadcasts has had noteworthy results.”[11]

Nevertheless, cooperation between the city-owned WNYC and the NYPD was part of the station’s DNA and extended to various public relations and community-oriented programs. Among the police-sponsored shows were Pals of the P.A.L. a youth variety show and a singing safety policeman  on The Police Safety Program, a show for younger children. The police and WNYC also worked closely on most issues around civil defense and on Election Day with the communications involved with the release of polling returns through the police department’s facilities. 


[1] Ayers, John H., and Carol Bird, Missing Men, The Story of the Missing Persons Bureau of the New York Police Department, 1932, pg.15. The screenplay for the 1933 film Bureau of Missing Persons, starring Bette Davis, was adapted from this book. 

[2] Kaufman, Samuel, “Drama in Capsule Form,” The New York Sun, 1940.

[3] Livingston, Armstrong, and John G. Stein, The Murdered and the Missing, Stephen-Paul Publishers, New York, 1947, pg. 66.

[4] “To Hunt Missing by Radio,” The New York Times, September 22, 1935, pg. N11.

[5] Mitchell, Joseph, The New York World Telegram,  May 9, 1936

[6]  Livingston, Armstrong, and Capt. John G. Stein, pg. 103.

[7] Ager, Cecelia, “The Missing Girl’s Best Friend,” PM, May 4, 1942, pg. 22.

[8] Original WNYC script for The Voice of the People, October 23, 1937 

[9] Time Magazine, February 27, 1939.

[10] WNYC Press Release, March 1, 1956.

[11] Federal Communications Commission Reports, Volume 91, Second Series, October 1982-April 1983,  Application for Special Service Authorization, Docket # 11227, September 23, 1982, pg. 773.

Coretta Scott King Reflects on Martin Luther King Jr., His Philosophy and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

In November, 1961, reporter Eleanor Fischer went to Atlanta, Georgia to interview Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his wife Coretta Scott King (1927-2006) and his father, Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. for her CBC documentary portrait of Atlanta released the following year. The audio presented here is from Fischer’s original raw field recording and has not previously been released in this form.

Mrs. King begins by talking about her family background, upbringing and education as well as how she met Dr. King when they were both in school in Boston. She spoke of their both wanting to return to the South to give back to the community although she would have preferred to spend more time in school. She explained that her husband felt he could serve humanity best through the ministry and that she was impressed by him. Initially, they shared a quiet year prior to the beginning of the Montgomery bus boycott, at which point she had just given birth to their first child.

Mrs. King describes in some detail the beginning of the boycott and her husband’s role in it. She says the philosophy of non-violence evolved as things went along. Being a Christian minister, he was well versed in it, but it took a bit to get people to accept the theory and practice.  She explains that they did so first out of their respect for the movement leadership, suggesting a deeper meaning came later. They came, she believes, to understand that civil disobedience is not passive and that it “takes more courage to stand up to the assault than to fight back.”

Mrs. King says it’s difficult to say why the movement’s strategy worked in Montgomery and not in other places. But she speculates that there are periods in history when the time, situation and individuals on hand provide the right catalyst for change. She refers to boycott as a “new reawakening for whites in the South” that in the end brought about “respect for the Negro.” Fischer asks her to reflect on the day her home was bombed and her husband’s continued calls for a non-violent response.


Special thanks to Elizabeth Starkey.

Newest Additions to ACDC

Our digital collections are growing with regular ingests of digitized material from the Archives & Special Collections.  Past highlighted ingests have included our Emily Dickinson manuscripts, selections from the Younghee Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection, material from the Doshisha Collection, Amherst College Olios and Catalogs, and more.

This month marks the addition of the William E. Barton Walt Whitman Collection and more of the Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Collection.


Edward Hitchcock


Walt Whitman










Series 8 of the Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Collection, now accessible in ACDC, contains more than a dozen distinct images of Hitchcock, in a range of formats including engravings, lithographs, and albumen prints. Many of the portraits were taken for yearly Class Albums compiled for the students at Amherst College. All the images are of Hitchcock as an adult.


Series 8 also includes snapshots of Hitchcock’s family homes and a photograph of Hitchcock’s gravestone.


Photo Album

There is also one photograph album which includes identified photographs of Edward and Orra White Hitchcock and some immediate family members.


The William E. Barton Walt Whitman Collection contains prints, photographs, post cards, and correspondence.













The Walt Whitman Collection also includes original prose manuscripts and galley proofs collected by William E. Barton (1861 – 1930).














These digitized items and more from the Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Collection and the William E. Barton Walt Whitman Collection can be found in the Amherst College Digital Collections, and of course the originals are located in the Archives & Special Collections.

Dr. Fred L Standley 1932-2014

Photo courtesy of the Tallahassee Democrat files.
Photo courtesy of the Tallahassee Democrat files.

It is with a heavy heart that we learn about the passing of FSU Professor Emeritus Dr. Fred Standley. Dr.  Standley, the Daisy Flory Parker Professor Emeritus in English, taught at FSU for 50 years until his retirement in 2013. His academic pursuits specialized in both British literature and works of African-American writers, and taught a popular course on banned books that was originally developed for FSU’s London program. His banned books course led to the tradition of the annual banned books read-out, where students and faculty members read aloud passages from previously banned books at Strozier Library.

Fred Standley’s involvement at FSU extended beyond the classroom. Dr. Standley served as chair of the English department from 1973 to 1982, and again from 1997 to 1999. He is credited with ushering the program into the modern era, and connected faculty members with opportunities for book contracts and conference presentations. He also served as the president of FSU’s Faculty Senate for two terms, chaired the search committee in 1976 (which led to the hire of Bernie Sliger), president of the friends of the Library (1989-1995; 2006-2008), and director of land acquisition from 1989-1994.

Dr. Standley’s accomplishments and contributions didn’t go unacknowledged. The Distinguished Service Professor Award (2003), the Friends of Strozier Library Distinguished Service Award (2006), and the FSU Torch Award (2013) are few among the many honors he received while at FSU. Awards have also been created in his honor, including the Fred L. Standley Award for Outstanding Teacher and the Friends of Strozier Library Fred L. Standley Award for the Academic Librarian of the Year. The Fred L. Standley Award “honors an outstanding faculty member within the University Libraries at the Florida State University for significant contributions to campus, state, national and/or international research librarianship and library development.”

A celebration of Fred L. Standley’s life will be held at FSU at a later date.

Pacific National Exhibition photographs are now online

Thanks to funding from the British Columbia History Digitization Program, we’ve recently completed a project to digitize over eight thousand images from the Pacific National Exhibition fonds that you can easily view and re-use. In addition, we’ve digitized another 874 images that are under copyright to other parties, but which can be viewed at the Archives. The dates range from 1914 to 1980.

2 people sharing a hot dog

Man and woman eating foot-long hotdogs from P.N.E. Gayway concession stand, 1953. Photographer unknown. Reference code AM281-S8-: CVA 180-2219.

These photographs were either created for the P.N.E. or collected by the P.N.E. staff. They document a wide variety of activities at the fair, including rides, displays, competitions and performances.

Colour photo of chair lift over grounds

Women on Sky Glider chair lift, 1971. Photographer Bob Tipple. Reference code AM281-S8-: CVA 180-6891.

Many buildings on the site are shown, including:

The Fair was a showcase for new products and technology over the years.

dispaly on dial telephones

B.C. Telephone Co. exhibit on how to use the dial telephone, 1940. Photographer unknown. Reference code AM281-S8-: CVA 180-0876.

There are images showing other uses of Hastings Park, such as horse and car racing, auto shows, and hockey games.

Goalie in action

Claude Evans of the Vancouver Canucks, on-ice portrait, circa 1961. Photographer unknown. Reference code AM281-S8-: CVA 180-4031.

cars on track, with spectators nearby

Motor car race at Hastings Park racetrack, 1919. Photographer unknown. Reference code AM281-S8-: CVA 180-5087.

There are a few images that show Japanese Canadians living at Hastings Park before being transported to internment camps in B.C.’s interior.

Forum filled with cots

Men’s dormitory in Forum building, Building K, during Japanese Canadian internment and relocation, 1942. Photographer unknown. Reference code AM281-S8-: CVA 180-3541.

We have put a small selection of images on flickr as a sample. We’ve mentioned before that these images were on a big screen at the Fair this year. Watch for them again in the future!

This digitization project was made possible by funding from the British Columbia History Digitization Program at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia.

Irving K. Barber Learning Centre logo

From Chaos to Order: Working with a class to create an exhibit

Posting on behalf of Katie McCormick, Associate Dean for Special Collections & Archives:

The Special Collections Research Center has an ongoing collaboration with the Museum Studies program at FSU. The Museum Object course teaches students the fundamentals of museum exhibit creation and installation. In our collaboration, students from the class are given a broad topic and guidance towards collection areas and create an exhibit from our materials. At the end of the semester they install the physical exhibit, most often in our primary exhibit room, and create an online companion exhibit.

Students begin the course with little to no knowledge of our collections and little to no experience creating exhibits. They end the course having worked through all the stages of exhibit design and installation and walk away with a new, important understanding of process and our materials.

Students work through materials to include int he exhibit.
Students work through materials to include in the exhibit.

Over the 2014 fall semester, 8 students from Amy Bowen’s Museum Object class did research on the Battle of Natural Bridge, a Civil War battle in March 1865 that FSU cadets participating in. Students were asked to find and research materials and create an exhibit that highlighted the battle itself, as well has broader themes of community, campus, veterans, and then and now.

Myself and staff from the Research Center, Digital Library Center, and Heritage Protocol worked with the students to teach them about our collections, to help them connect with the State Archives and other campus entities, to digitize and help produce the materials to be put on exhibit, and to work side by side with them during installation.

Installation Day for the exhibit
Installation Day for the exhibit
Installation Day for the exhibit
As you can see, chaotic it can be!

The magic, and immense value, of this kind of partnership is the laboratory nature of the project and the hands on engagement we can provide students. There are times when it is chaotic, when you don’t know what the end product will be, when you’re not sure there will be an end product, when communication appears to have broken down, and when the students make a last minute, last ditch effort to pull together all the parts of something totally new for them. I am always amazed by what the students see in our collections and how they chose to publicly interpret materials and events.

The Battle of Natural Bridge: Bridging Past and Present is free and open to the public Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm in the main exhibit gallery on the first floor of Strozier Library. The online exhibit can be viewed here: http://naturalbridge150.omeka.net/

A look at the finished exhibit
From chaos, comes an ordered story
The finished exhibit
The finished exhibit

Those Dusty Archives

It’s true, we do occasionally find valuable things in less than wholesome places like damp basements, forgotten crawl spaces and blistering hot attic corners. But I would venture a guess that 96% of the time we are neither digging up nor dusting off aural relics, like some prospecting Indiana Jones of the library desk set.

Believe it or not, a great many of our choicest bits of the past are cataloged (to one degree or another) and neatly arranged by format in a well-lit, temperature-humidity controlled room with compact moveable shelving. There is no dirt, no shovels, nor pick axes. There is a little dust, but there is a little dust just about everywhere. And there may be a faint scent of vinegar from degrading acetate tape or some stale bit of off-gassing from vintage lacquer discs.

By and large, it is our task to make these materials knowable and accessible, not to keep them hidden. (Reminder, Producers you can access the catalog). Still, (sigh) people love that image, a gritty romantic cliché of discovery really: The crusading archivist in the jungle of his/her own collection wearing a tan fedora with white cotton gloves, carrying a pack of acid-free record sleeves in pursuit of sonic treasures to be rescued from oblivion. Okay, I will not disabuse you of the stereotype. Give me a musty, crumbling sepia-toned box of broadcast recordings and I will gladly plumb its depths.

The Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. Reflects on His Son, Atlanta and the Movement for Civil Rights

In November, 1961, reporter Eleanor Fischer went to Atlanta, Georgia to interview Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his wife Coretta Scott King and his father, The Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. (1899-1984) for a CBC documentary portrait of Atlanta released the following year. The audio presented here is from Fischer’s original raw field recording and has not previously been released in this form.

Reverend King says he and his wife taught their children to aim high in life and that his son Martin, in turn, taught him to temper his approach to life. That, in fact, he said, “he’s been a lot of help to me,” and “taken some of the fight out of me.” This is not to say that Rev. King, Sr. is any less passionate about the cause for civil rights but that the non-violent philosophy and strategy espoused by his son is the “correct path.”  It is this approach that, he says, has brought about a transition for many people who hated Dr. King, now praising him.

Fischer asks whether some whites praise Dr. King because they see him as moderate. His father, however, believes there is no more militant voice in the South now than Martin Luther King, Jr.  But again, militant in a non-violent way. Fischer and King, Sr. discuss the 1961 election and Kennedy’s overtly political move to get King out of jail and the role that may have played in the campaign. King, Sr. also describes an Atlanta now markedly different from the Atlanta of the past, the end of lynching and the rise of a “Negro” middle-class in Atlanta that, with exceptions, is not anxious to challenge the status quo for fear of reprisal. But, King, Sr. says, “change is coming and we have to accept it.” He believes there are enough liberal whites in Atlanta to move the city past token integration. He knows his son must carry on with the civil rights movement. At the time, however, as a father, he worries about the strain and demands on his son.


The Reverend Martin Luther King Sr became leader of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta in March 1931 in the midst of the Great Depression. The church was struggling financially, but King organized membership and fundraising drives that restored the church’s coffers. King was the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church for four decades, wielding great influence in the black community and earning respect from many in the white community.


Special thanks to Elizabeth Starkey.

William Leary To Be Reappointed to the PIDB

President Obama announced yesterday afternoon his intention to nominate William Leary to serve a second three-year term on the PIDB.  The members are pleased to learn of his reappointment and we are looking forward to his continued help in advocating for transforming the national security classification system.  Before his retirement from Government service as the Senior Director for Records Access and Management at the National Security Council, Bill was instrumental in assisting us as we developed recommendations to improve declassification.  After his retirement, the President nominated him to serve as a member of the PIDB.  Bill helped us fulfill the President’s request that we study the classification system and make recommendations on its modernization.  Most recently, Bill led our effort to highlight and make additional reforms to the way our Government declassifies information.  This supplemental report, Setting Priorities: An Essential Step in Transforming Declassification, recognizes the need for the Government to target its declassification efforts on information of most interest to the public.

Bill is a key member of our Board and we look forward to working with him as he begins his second term.  Congratulations Bill!

UNCG begins work on IMLS Sparks!Ignition Grant project

Work has begun on a new collaborative project involving the Digital Projects Unit of the University Libraries at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the Hayes-Taylor YMCA. The Digital Projects Unit has been awarded a 2014-2015 IMLS Sparks! Ignition Grant for Libraries and will manage this $23,522 grant in partnership with the Hayes-Taylor YMCA and their Achievers Program.

The youth at the Hayes-Taylor YMCA will participate in discussions on local history and digital photography, learn the proper handling of historical and archival materials, and will visit area libraries and archives. These young DGHi (Digitizing Greensboro Historical information) Explorers will be taught to use flatbed scanners and digital cameras as document “scanners.”

Teamed with YMCA mentors, the youths will go into homes and organizations in the community to discover and reproduce hidden historical documents with digital cameras. The completion of questionnaires will permit the UNCG Libraries to place the material online. There will also be significant public outreach, including a “community history scanning day” held at the new Hayes-Taylor YMCA, and a capstone display of some of items and information discovered during the course of the project.

Project staff at University Libraries include Digital Projects Coordinator David Gwynn as project director, J. Stephen Catlett as project manager. Felton Foushee, Achievers Director at Hayes-Taylor YMCA, will coordinate the DGHi Explorers.

The Florida Handbooks are now available in the FSU Digital Library!

Cover of The Florida Handbook 2011-2012
Cover of The Florida Handbook 2011-2012

The Florida Handbook is a comprehensive reference source and the official guide to Florida government and history, with additional information on the state’s lands, culture, economy, and people. Allen Morris, the Clerk of the Florida House from 1966-1986, first published the Handbook in 1947. Joan Morris assisted with the compilation of information and then continued updating and publishing the biennial Handbook following Allen’s death until its final print edition in 2011-2012.

The volumes in this collection represent the entire run of print volumes, spanning the years 1947-2012. Beginning with the 2014 edition, the Clerk of the Florida House is continuing the Handbook as an electronic publication with limited print copies being available as well. For more information, visit the Handbook‘s website or call or email the Office of the Clerk at (850) 717-5400, officeoftheclerk@myfloridagouse.gov.

FSU began digitization of all print versions of the Florida Handbook mid-2014 after receiving permission from Joan Morris to make them publicly available in the FSU Digital Library (FSUDL). We also worked with the Clerk of the Florida House’s office to make sure our project fit in with their plans to take the Handbook forward digitally. We’re pleased to offer these fully text searchable digital copies of the Florida Handbook through the FSUDL.

The Asian Religions Collection


In the past few months, the Cataloging and Description department work tirelessly to liberate a large collection of foreign print materials from Remote Storage to their proper library homes. The collection, known as the Asian Religions Collection, includes books and other print materials written in Tibetan, Sanskrit, Hindi, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. While this collection has been in FSU’s possession since 2008, it was fully cataloged and made available to university patrons as of December 23, 2014.


In order to settle part of a national debt, India paid the United States in books and other print materials. These items were then acquired by the Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions. Eventually, the books found a new home at the University of Virginia. UV evaluated the collection and kept a portion of the materials. The remaining 25,000 items were purchased at $2 a piece by FSU in 2008.

Unloading the ARC books into RS2.

After the collection was purchased by FSU, it was delivered to the Remote Storage 2 (RS2) facility. Together, led by Amy Weiss, Head of Cataloging and Description, and Roy Ziegler, Associate Dean for Collection Development, the staff unloaded two full semi-trucks of books. In order to fit the massive collection in RS2, the boxes of books were piled around the sides of RS2, waiting to be cataloged and shelved.

Library of Congress catalog card.

Of the 25,000 books, nearly 13,000 books were labeled as English language materials. After being reviewed, more than 6,000 of these books were cataloged and shelved in the Strozier library.  Following the English books were the Sanskrit and Tibetan Petcha books. Since this part of the collection was considered to be a priority, the department decided to dedicate three months of cataloging to it. The entire staff work tirelessly on the Petcha until it was completed. With the priority materials cataloged, the remaining items remained in RS2.

Some books were small… and others were huge!

Beginning the Collection

Due to the delicate condition and complex languages of the materials, the collection required a great deal of time and hard work. With all the other priority projects handled by Cataloging and Description, the Asian Religions Collection remained in Remote Storage 2, waiting to be assessed and cataloged. Once the department hired Complex Cataloging Specialist Dominique Bortmas, Cataloging Associate Elizabeth Richey, and ARC Cataloger Stephanie Truex, Cataloging and Description was finally prepared to focus on this massive collection. Once an inventory was taken, the books were transported from RS2 to their new temporary home at 711 Madison Street where they waited to be cataloged. The staff organized the books by language and began to devise a plan to make the collection available to the public as soon as possible.

Cataloging the Collection
As with any material, the cataloging process is very precise and detail oriented; this is particularly true for the complex materials in the Asian Religions Collection. Catalogers must personally analyze each item, then find or create a machine readable record. A call number, notes, and Library of Congress subject headings are just a few of the fields needing to be included in the records. This allows the material to appear in the library catalog where it can be discovered.
WP_20141015_016 WP_20141118_008 WP_20141211_006 WP_20141118_007
In addition to these usual obstacles of cataloging, the staff also faced additional challenges. For Amy Weiss, Head of Cataloging and Description, the main obstacle was finding the time and resources to catalog the 25,000 items in the collection. Yearly, the department catalogs about 15,000 items. Finding the time to balance the usual cataloging with an additional collection of 25,000 was not easy. However, thanks to a dedicated staff equipped with catalog cards and a workflow guide, the department was able to finally tackle the collection. Refusing to sacrifice speed for quality, the department decided to dedicate 25% of each staff member’s time to cataloging the ARC books. Catalogers Stephanie Truex and Elizabeth Richey devoted most of their time to completing the collection, while the rest of the staff also significantly contributed.

Once the staff began cataloging the the collection, they discovered that the language barrier often made it difficult to locate and create catalog records. While many stackof the books had old Library of Congress catalog cards in them that made it easier to search for records, not all of the books included this extra bit of helpful information. Catalogers had to rely on their research skills and newly acquired transliteration skills just to locate a record. Even if a record was located, it had to be upgraded. The records were outdated, and needed to be edited in order to meet current cataloging standards.

The collection is now completed, with the exception of the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean (CJK) languages materials. Nearly 200 items remain since they present additional language and translation issues. CJK librarian, Yue Li, is currently focusing on this fraction of the collection.

The ARC project is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the behind the scenes Cataloging department. Through their team work and efficient procedures, the collection, with the exception of the CJK materials, is now available to be checked-out by FSU students and faculty.

November 2014 Vancity Theatre show now on YouTube

As we have before, we’ve put the video portion of last year’s Vancity screening on our YouTube channel. This does not include projected snipes, pre-screening presentations, Michael Kluckner’s commentary or Wayne Stewart’s keyboard accompaniment.

Here are the three sections of the show, and the films featured:

Vancouver at Work

First Narrows Bridge Construction (1938), excerpts
AM1487-: 2012-091.01

Jersey Farms milk delivery (c. 1940), excerpts
AM1275-S1-: MI-10

Use of milk products (c. 1940), excerpts
AM1275-S1-: MI-12

Reservoirs in the Sky (c. 1956), excerpts
AM1466-: MI-21

One Lump or Two (c. 1961), excerpts
AM1592-1-S3: 2011-092.0535

On the spot zoo story (1953), excerpts
VPK-S652-: MI-113

The Morning Show (1963), excerpts
VPK-S652-: MI-114

Stratford Hotel Fire (c. 1968), excerpts
COV-S667-: MI-176


Shriners parade (1951)
AM1443-: MI-15

Grey Cup parade (1955)
AM1443-: MI-18

Start of PNE Parade (1958), excerpt
AM1487-: MI-219

A City Celebrates (1961), excerpts
AM1487-: 2013-020.09

Vancouver Promoted

Vancouver Marches On (1936-39), excerpts
AM1487-: 2013-020.02 to 2013-020.05

Most Lovely Country – British Columbia (1958)
AM1487-: 2013-020.06

We hope to see you at our 2015 show!

Digital collections update

The fall semester was a busy one as we completed or continued work on several projects:

Performing arts collections:

Our digital cello music presence has grown dramatically in the past few months as we added over six thousand pages of manuscript materials and other selections from the following physical collections:

Local history collections:

Following the successful launch last year of Textiles, Teachers, and Troops, we have added a considerable amount of newly-digitized material on the history of Greensboro, primarily as part of two collections:

  • Postwar Urban Renewal and Planning in Greensboro: A collection of  more than four thousand pages of documents illustrating the drmatic changes (some good and some bad) that took place as the result of redevelopment activities in Greensboro following World War II. This project is a collaborative effort between the University Libraries, the Greensboro Public Library, and the Greensboro Historical Museum.
  • Records of the Fisher Park Neighborhood Association: Approximately four thousand pages of materials documenting the establishment and growth of Greensboro’s first historic district. These materials were digitized in part through a grant from the City of Greensboro’s Building Better Communities program.
UNCG collections:
Another big addition has been the Campus Theatre Productions Collection held by the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA), with neraly five thousand pages of documents pertaining to plays and other productions performed on campus between 1897 and 1963.
We have also nearly completed digitization of most of the scrapbooks held in SCUA’s manuscript collections; this project follows a three-year project in which we digitized scrapbooks held as part of the University Archives.
Last but not least, we have finalized the digitization and display of the Robert Watson Papers and the Randall Jarrell Papers.
Redesigned/enhanced collections:
One of our most significant achievements this semester has been the migration of Civil Rights Greensboro and the Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project onto the CONTENTdm server platform, which will allow increased search and discovery options and allow us to integrate those collections into Worldcat and the Digital Public Library of America.
Still to come:
Still in progress this year are additions to the Home Economics Pamphlets collection, the Lois Lenski Juvenile Literature Collection, and a pilot project to digitize items from the Anna Gove Papers. And later this year, we will begin the bulk of the work on an IMLS-funded local history project with the Hayes Taylor YMCA Digital Explorers project. More later on these projects!

Twelfth Night, 1907

Twelfth Night program coverI hope that Sarah Werner at the Folger Shakespeare Library believes that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Her blog post in The Collation yesterday inspired me to share these images and reviews from the production of Twelfth Night staged by Amherst College students in March and April of 1907.

You can see the originals on display for a bit longer in our current exhibit, Shakespeare’s Desk. As always, click on the images to see larger versions.

The cast in all their glory

The cast in all their glory

Cast list from program

Cast list from program

Below is a review from the March 23, 1907 issue of The Amherst Student. On the second page, note the additional short article that lists all of the places the Dramatics association would be performing the play in the coming weeks, including: “After the Easter trip, the cast will appear at Greenfield April 17th, Brattleboro, Vt., April 24th, Walpole April 29th and Wellesley April 27th. Performances will also be given the last of April at Springfield, Easthampton and the Academy of Music, Northampton. and the first part of May there will be presentations at Hartford, New Britain, Worcester, Ware and Chicopee.”



Further information about “the Easter trip” performances in various Connecticut, New York, and even Pennsylvania towns appeared in the April 13, 1907 issue:



The cast picture in the program

The cast picture in the program

‘Every Man For Himself’: In 1961, This Is How the NYPD Trained Cops to Handle Violent Criminals

This is a four minute tape from an early 1960s radio series called New York: A Portrait in Sound.  The series captures the everyday lives of New Yorkers and contains interviews with everyone from nighttime taxi drivers and zoo security guards to East River scuba divers. This particular episode highlights NYPD’s new recruit training from 1961.

The tape explains the two-pronged approach the police academy takes to facilitate good police-work. On one hand, classroom training and peaceful conflict resolution is emphasized; on the other, officers learn to rely on brute physical force.

It’s this second method where the interviewed officers are unusually candid. Judo instructor and Sergeant Pete King says, “We’re not trying to make black belts…we have no rules, this is strictly guerrilla warfare when you’re out there.  There’s no rules…it’s every man for himself once it starts.”

The Man Without a City

At the close of 1949 New York City was facing a serious water shortage. Previously, at this time of year, residents could depend on 253 billion gallons of water from Catskills and Croton reservoirs. But Gotham at mid-century was running dry with a reserve of only 100 billion gallons.  Newspapers, radio and television were enlisted in a massive region-wide water conservation campaign. This drama was just one of many public service efforts made by WNYC at year’s end to save water.

With a slight tip of the hat to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the tale of Jeremiah P. Driftwood and his leaky faucet unfolds. It might also be said that this is a drama with the moral: “be careful what you wish for, you might get it…” The impatient Mr. Driftwood is visited by some civic-minded ectoplasm that admonishes him to turn off the faucet he’s left running. He is told there is a shortage but he refuses to cooperate. In fact, he wishes he had nothing to do with the city and his wish is granted. Poor Jeremiah then finds himself in one of those Hitchcockian spirals where he can’t accomplish anything, since everything he needs to do depends on some municipal government, law, code, or regulation. His trash won’t be picked up by the Sanitation Department; the subway turnstile won’t turn for him because it is regulated by the transportation department; the taxi’s meter won’t run because the driver reports to the hack bureau, etc, etc…

The last straw comes when Driftwood discovers he can’t get a marriage license without the city’s help. He awakens from this nightmare and immediately turns off the dripping faucet. Suddenly, all is right with the world, well mostly. Performances were by: Jim Bose, Anne Toviak, Arthur Anderson, Ed Latimer and Ruth Last. The script was written by Lou Drobkin and Felix Leon and directed by George Wallach.

Audio courtesy of NYC Municipal Archives.