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.

Pay for Play: 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 contoversy.

dunleavy1904At 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.



Prioritization and the National Declassification Center

In our 2014 supplemental report, Setting Priorities: An Essential Step in Transforming Declassification, the PIDB advocated 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, we believe topic-based prioritization is a viable alternative to prioritizing records simply by age and level of difficulty and effort to review.  Prioritization is one component of the overall transformation needed to sustain declassification given the growth of information across government and the dwindling resources available to agencies.

We are looking forward to participating in the upcoming NDC public forum.  This forum will focus on the topic of prioritization for improved declassification.  A member of the PIDB plans to discuss the six recommendations from our Setting Priorities supplemental report and provide comments on next steps in making topic-based prioritization a possibility in government.

The NDC completed the quality assurance review of over 351 million pages of records, commonly referred to as the “backlog,” in February 2014.  We are pleased to know the NDC is using this forum as a way to involve the public and stakeholders to improve its processes now that the “backlog” has been retired.  With this large challenge completed, there is an opportunity to rethink how the NDC and agencies operate and how they may prioritize records for declassification review so that those of most importance to the public are processed first.  We are thankful for the opportunity to begin dialog on this topic and look forward to the NDC public forum.

Please continue to follow our blog, Transforming Classification, to learn more details about our participation in the upcoming NDC public forum.

A Small Tour of Our Commonwealth Mascots!

Continuing with our tours of the Hosts & Champions Exhibition at Trinity Church, Irvine, Jocelyn Grant, one of our Exhibition Assistants, introduces some of the mascots on display.

A family favourite, mascots are now a staple of the Commonwealth Games. Starting from Mac in 1986, Glasgow 2014’s mascot was an adorable thistle that won the hearts of the city during the Games. There are however several mascots that have featured internationally as the Games has travelled across the Commonwealth. Here are a few that are currently housed in the Hosts and Champions Exhibition.

The Travels of a Fox on His Way to the Grapes

The Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection has just received the gift of a crocheted representation of Aesop’s fable “The Fox and the Grapes.”

A Seychelles Crochet, “The Fox and the Grapes,” ca. 18th C. Gift of Jacqueline Dupont, PhD 1962 FSU, to the Shaw Collection, March 2015.
A Seychelles Crochet, “The Fox and the Grapes,” ca. 18th century. Gift of Jacqueline Dupont, PhD 1962, to the Shaw Collection, March 2015.

Sometime many years ago, an industrious native of The Seychelles, a country of islands nearest to Africa in the Indian Ocean, used a crochet hook to knot this piece of fabric art. Early in the 20th century, Louise Dupont, another native of The Seychelles, immigrated to England and then to Florida. In 1938, on a return holiday to her birthplace, she obtained this piece of fabric and brought it back to the United States with her.

Detail of an illustration designed by Thomas Bewick in the 18th century, from the book Bewick’s select fables of Aesop and others . . .with wood engravings by Thomas Bewick; Longmans, Green 1878.
Detail of an illustration from the book Bewick’s select fables of Aesop and others by Thomas Bewick. London: Longmans, Green, and Co. 1878.

In the 1960s Louise was living in Plant City, Florida near her son’s family when her granddaughter, Jacqueline Dupont, came to Florida State University to study for her Doctorate. When she graduated, Jackie arranged for her family members to stay with local Tallahassee friends. She chose John and Lillian Shaw to host her Grandmere Louise. By this time, John Shaw had given his Childhood in Poetry books, including editions of Aesop’s Fables, to Florida State.

From Aesop's Fables, Coblentz and Syverson. Norwalk: C.R. Gibson Co. 1968.
From Aesop’s Fables, Coblentz and Syverson. Norwalk: C.R. Gibson Co. 1968.

Having worked closely together, Jackie and her major professor Harvye Lewis remained friends after she graduated and Harvye moved to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Her Grandmere Louise presented this piece of Seychelles crochet to Harvye in 1974 in gratitude and respect for Harvye’s mentoring and friendship with her granddaughter. Harvye had it framed and wrote a note on the back of it indicating that it “should be given to Jacqueline L. Dupont.”

When Harvye died in 1998, Jackie, recognizing that “The Fox and the Grapes” would appear often in the Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection, gave it to John Shaw’s daughter, Cathmar Prange, in whose Iowa home it hung ever since Harvye’s death.

After traveling halfway around the world and thousands more miles within the United States, this fox has been delivered to his final stop in Strozier Library’s Special Collections & Archives at Florida State. He is yet to get the grapes however.

Illustration from Aesop's Fables by Percy J. Billinghurst. Ware: Omega Books Ltd. 1984.
Illustration from Aesop’s Fables by Percy J. Billinghurst. Ware: Omega Books Ltd. 1984.

Cathmar Prange is a long time volunteer and donor to Special Collections & Archives and every winter, shares her time in helping to curate and grow her father’s, John Mackay Shaw, collection.

Team Scotland Uniforms! – A Tour of Irvine, Trinity Church

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.

After our successful preview and opening last Friday we have received some wonderful feedback from visitors to the exhibition, who have been delighted by some of the items on display, and have started contributing more things! These contributions will no doubt be incorporated and featured in future venues when this exhibition begins to tour round the country. To celebrate this and highlight some of the themes that are currently present in the unique displays for this venue, I am happy to present a small tour of the Team Scotland Uniforms!

Stay tuned for more highlights soon!

Post Post, A Sampling and Tribute to Some Classic Live Morning Music Moments

Steve Post was the antidote to an industry riddled with chronic cheerfulness. With the world going to hell in a hand basket, how could we possibly  listen to a morning radio personality who sounds like they’re smiling or even about to chuckle or laugh?  For the hard-core tsoris-laden New Yorker there was only one choice and that was Morning Music host Steve Post. His sarcasm, wit, rants, puns, droll observations and commentary with a classical playlist even made listening to fundraising perversely entertaining.

Like a lot of people, I grew up listening to Post on WBAI. There he honed his dyspepsia and futilitarian world view only to release it, fully matured (or immature as the case may be) on WNYC listeners couched in a kind of cranky poise and resonant voice that somehow made my half empty glass, half full.

What exactly was it in Steve’s live nihilist radio recipe through the 1980s and 90s that somehow girded us to face another modern day in New York City and its environs?  Could it have been the artful station identifications?

Perhaps it was his style of news delivery developed long before Howard Beale’s Network rant.

Or, maybe it was Steve’s insights into the weather?

His respect for authority?

Could it have been his keen sense of self?

Or maybe it was just the theme (Chopin’s Marzurka in C Major (Op. 24 No. 2)) and tone set at the beginning of each Morning Music program?

And just how did Steve, as he liked to say, “get away with it?” After all, he was pretty much free to say whatever entered his head, within the bounds of the law. Indeed, he retained creative control over the spoken portion of his program, a rare thing in broadcasting. Remember, this is before XM and Sirus radio, before webcasting and podcasting. In a 1996 tribute to former WNYC President Mary Perot Nichols, Post explained it this way:

After the demise of Morning Music in the wake of 9/11,  Steve went on to many more years of perfecting his art of broadcasting on The No Show, a weekly compendium of whatever was on his mind. Sadly, Steve passed away August 3, 2014 at the age of 70. He is recalled here, by Executive Producer and former Sunday Best host, Sara Fishko.

There will be a memorial for Steve this Friday evening at 6 PM at Symphony Space. For more information see: Post Memorial.

Steve, you are missed.


 Thanks to Irene Trudel and Sara Fishko for contributing some of these vital bits of Steve.

Black Lives of Amherst College: Non-Alumni Edition

I am currently putting the finishing touches on our new exhibition: Race & Rebellion at Amherst College. This exhibition explores the history of student activism and issues of race, beginning with the founding of the Anti-Slavery Society in 1833 and the “Gorham Rebellion” of 1837 through the takeover of campus buildings by black student activists in the 1970s. No exhibition on a subject as broad and complicated as race can ever claim to be truly comprehensive and all-inclusive. This exhibition focuses on recovering the deeper history of African-American lives at Amherst College between 1826 and the late 1970s; we could just as easily have mounted an entire exhibition about more recent events of the last 25 – 50 years.

Two books about Amherst’s black alumni have been published: Black Men of Amherst (1976) by Harold Wade, Jr. and Black Women of Amherst College (1999) by Mavis Campbell. Both of these books need to be revised and brought up to date. One theme in the exhibition is the recovery of black lives at the college that were not included in either published volume. In some cases, we have identified African-American students who graduated from Amherst in the 19th century who were not included in Black Men of Amherst, but there are entire categories of people who were intentionally left out of both books.

Prof Charley

The first category is that of service staff at the college. Charles Thompson, for example, was born in Portland, Maine in 1838, spent some time in Boston then worked on three long sea voyages before returning to Boston to work as a coachman. Sometime in 1856 or 1857, Charles Thompson came to work at Amherst College, where he spent the rest of his life in service.

As fraternities began to build and manage their own houses in the 1870s and 1880s, many employed black servants.

Beta-Theta-Pi - Copy

The solitary black figure at the back of this group portrait of the members of Beta Theta Pi fraternity in 1890 is identified as “Olmstead Smith ‘The Dark’” on the back of this photograph. The large feather duster in his hand emphasizes Smith’s position as the fraternity custodian.


This fraternity group portrait also includes a single African-American, Perry Roberts. Perry Roberts served as the custodian for Delta Upsilon from approximately 1882 until the early twentieth century. Delta Upsilon group photos regularly show Roberts seated front and center holding the fraternity seal.

James Denton

Although Edward Jones was the first African-American to graduate from Amherst back in 1826, it wasn’t until 1964 that the college hired its first black faculty member. Professor James Q. Denton taught mathematics and statistics at Amherst until his retirement in 2005.

Sonia Sanchez

Poet, activist, and scholar Sonia Sanchez was the first African-American woman to join the faculty at Amherst College. She arrived as a visiting assistant professor in 1972 and left for a position at Temple University in 1975.

Andrea Rushing

Professor Sanchez was soon followed by Andrea Rushing who was hired in 1974 to teach Black Studies and English. She retired in 2010.

Mavis Campbell

Mavis Campbell, author of Black Women of Amherst College, came to campus in 1976 to teach Black Studies and History. She retired in 2006.

These names and faces just scratch the surface of the multiple lives of people of color at Amherst College. In this exhibition we have chosen to focus specifically on African-American individuals, but we encourage others to use the resources of the Archives to explore other minority groups and their experiences at the college.

Always a Harding at Florida State

Mary Agnes Harding was a member of the Home Economics Club
Winnifred Harding, class of 1945

In 1938, Mary Agnes Harding transferred to FSCW from Florida Southern College. Little did she and her family know that she would be the first in line of Harding siblings to attend Florida State – her four sisters Winnie, Doris, Lena, and Lucy, and her brother Edward, would also attend Florida State over a 17 year period. From 1938 through 1955, there was always a Harding at Florida State.

Lena Harding, class of 1947

When Mary first moved to Tallahassee, she lived in an off campus house for college students. She recalled a time in winter, when it was particularly cold out, leaving a heater near the bottom of the stairs and a fire breaking out. Because the students weren’t able to go down the stairs to exit the building, they jumped out the windows or climbed onto tree limbs. Mary remembers that she jumped into a ligustrum that was just outside her window. After the fire, FSCW found room for everyone on campus, and Mary moved into Reynolds Hall. Aside from studying for her major in home economics, Mary enjoyed going to Camp Flastacowo on the weekends, and walking to see movies at the theatre with her friends.

Lucille Harding, class of 1949

The Harding family tradition of attending Florida State was carried on by Winifred (or “Winnie”) who went on to be a laboratory technician; Lena, who taught business education; Lucille (or “Lucy”), who taught physical education; Doris, the sister they all called “the brain” (Mary remarked that Doris “graduated Cum Laude – the rest of us just graduated”) worked for the U.S. Geological Survey; and Edward, the last Harding sibling to graduate from FSU studied industrial arts education.

Doris Harding, class of 1951

After graduating in 1940, Mary married Ken Galbreath, and they started a dairy farm in Fruitland Park, FL, and also taught for over 40 years. She continues to live on the farm they started with her family.

Edward Harding, class of 1955

To see more photographs, ephemera, and artifacts related to the history of Florida State, check out the FSU Heritage Protocol Digital Collections or like the Heritage Protocol Facebook page.


Sunshine Week and Open Government Progress

We are pleased to announce the Presidential appointments of Ms. Laura A. DeBonis and Mr. Solomon B. Watson, IV as members to the PIDB on March 12, 2015.  It is fitting that the newest members of the PIDB are able to participate in our executive session meeting being held today.  As we reflect on the significance of Sunshine Week and public access to Government information, we intend to use our meeting today to both review what has happened in the past year and decide on plans for the coming year.  We will take a detailed look at past year Government accomplishments to see what policymakers and practitioners have made to advance open government initiatives, particularly those committed to the transformation of the security classification system.  We will also take this opportunity to see what challenges and impediments still exist and see where we may be able to advocate for more change and modernization.

The National Archives and the Central Intelligence Agency earned well-deserved praise for the pilot projects they spearheaded at the Center for Content Understanding (CCU). We were able to view firsthand their accomplishments when we traveled to the Applied Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin in September 2014.  Some of the technologies developed at the CCU are already in use at the CIA and are leading to improved efficiency and better reviews overall.  Still, we will continue to advocate for the adoption and use of these technologies across declassification programs in the Government, including at the National Declassification Center.  Although the records included in the pilot project are not yet publicly available, the results are an important step forward to declassification modernization.

Another open government commitment of particular interest to the PIDB is for change in the treatment of obsolete historical nuclear information.  We were excited to hear that the Department of Defense (DoD) created the Formerly Restricted Data (FRD) Working Group in response to this National Action Plan commitment and were pleased to learn that DoD made reviewing obsolete FRD information for declassification its flagship open government initiative.  Just last week, the DoD updated its website to show the eight facts it declassified through the working group process and in cooperation with the Departments of Energy and State.

Still, we believe there is more work to be done on both these important initiatives to wholly fulfill their commitments included in the Second National Action Plan for Open Government.  We urge senior leaders to increase actions, allow for wider implementation, and greater public access to the Reagan email collection and no longer sensitive nuclear information that is of historical interest.  Additionally, we hope to see agencies increasing public access to Government information of interest to the public, a focus of our Setting Priorities report to the President last year.

As Sunshine Week continues, we will comment more on open government initiatives. We want to thank the hardworking professionals who conduct declassification and access reviews at the agencies for their dedication to Government transparency and thank them for their work on behalf of the public.


How Irish Tape Saved Civilization

Besides Scotch tape of the sticky kind, those in the audio world know about Scotch audio tape. But what about Irish brand tape? Its creator, John Herbert Orr, survived a land mine and near financial ruin in order to pursue his dream: to bring audio tape technology to the United States.

It all started in late spring 1945, when thirty-five American and British men gathered in the studios of Radio Luxembourg, recently captured from German hands. The retreating Germans had willfully destroyed some of the facilities, and it had taken a few months to rebuild the station to its full capacity as one of the most powerful in Europe. Most of the men present, civilians and officers alike, had worked in war intelligence or propaganda in one fashion or another. What they witnessed that day was a stunning display of German technology: a rebuilt Magnetophon, or tape recorder, played back sound that was virtually indistinguishable from the original, with a lifelike presence far beyond what American and British recording technology allowed at the time.

Among the seventeen engineers present at that demonstration was John Herbert Orr, the son of Alabama farmers whose passion for radio and electronics had led him, through a tortuous path, to work for the Anglo-American Psychological Warfare Division. For Orr, the demonstration only confirmed his suspicion that Adolf Hitler’s speeches were often not broadcast live, but recorded using this technology. Charged with tracking Hitler’s movements, Orr had been puzzled at the speed with which Hitler had seemingly moved from the location of one broadcast speech to another. He had learned about German tape recording technology the previous year, and had strongly suspected that this was the answer. Now he was certain, and he became obsessed with the technology.

A spectacular blunder gave Orr the opportunity to put his obsession to work. Radio engineers at Radio Luxembourg, who often re-used the plentiful stock of audio tape from the studios, were broadcasting a pre-recorded speech by Eisenhower when suddenly the general’s voice faded and instead an animated voice took over the airwaves –the sound of a previously recorded Führer speech, broadcast again over the most powerful station in central Europe. This went on for several minutes before the engineers realized their gaffe; Eisenhower, none too pleased, issued an order that only new tape be used for broadcasting. Orr was the logical man to be put in charge of re-starting tape manufacturing, and consequently he learned all about the technology from German engineers –especially BASF’s Karl Pfaulmer, with whom he became friends.

During one of his research trips around Germany, Orr almost lost his life when his Jeep hit a land mine. But the accident brought an unexpected result: while recuperating in a hospital, Pfaulmer gave Orr his version of a philosopher’s stone —all the known formulas for tape manufacturing, contained in a small envelope.

Armed with all this knowledge (and some machines), John Hebert Orr returned to Alabama in late 1945 and continued to experiment with tape manufacturing. In 1949 he founded OrRadio and started selling Irish brand audio tape —a name which, naturally, incited controversy for its perceived parallels with 3M’s Scotch tape, but which Orr always claimed sprung from an Irish nurse, Molly, he befriended while at the hospital. His company was plagued by technical and financial difficulties for years, but in 1952 he hired engineer Herbert Hard, who two years later developed the “Ferro-Sheen” process.


Thanks to this process, which involves heating the tape during manufacturing (during his experiments, Hard ruined at least one of his wife’s irons), 60 years ago Irish brand tape was for a while one of the world’s finest, and sales ballooned. 1953 saw the hiring of Nathaniel Welch, whose clever advertising campaigns (including the leprechaun F. R. O’Sheen) and focus on the home “hi-fi” market also greatly helped. Sales went up 307% in two years: Orr’s dream had finally come true.

During the second half of the twentieth century the magnetic recording industry would blossom into what we have today —a world of data tape, massive servers and solid state cards (one of Orr’s original designs was a primitive magnetic disk very much like today’s hard drives). Orr would later claim that the men who developed this entire industry were all —to a man— at that fateful presentation in 1945. As for Orr himself, in 1960 Ampex Corporation of California (one of his giant competitors, along with 3M) bought his company, and he went on to pursue other technologies (including early prototypes of the 8-track). An industrial park in Opelika, Ala., is named after him –and the colorful designs of his tape boxes live on in innumerable collections.


You can hear above some Irish tape being put through its paces in a recording of a 1957 concert by WNYC’s David Randolph of Bach’s B-minor Mass–definitely some oversaturation and dropouts going on, but not bad!

Participate in the #1000pages Transcription Challenge

Calling all history enthusiasts and citizen archivists! Participate in the Transcription Challenge this week and help us meet — and surpass! — our goal of transcribing more than 1000 pages.

Join us in celebrating Sunshine Week and transcribe records in our new National Archives Catalog. We’ll be tracking our progress every day this week, so help us get to 1000 pages by Monday, March 23.
#1000pages graphic
Visit the Transcription Challenge webpage for more information. Use the hashtag #1000pages and tweet us @USNatArchives. Share with us what you discover in the records.

We have millions of pages of handwritten and typed documents that are waiting for you. Check out all of our Transcription Missions, or search for your favorite records.

You could work on transcribing more than 100 pages of the widow’s pension file for Harriet Tubman Davis or use your skills to read the difficult handwriting in the Papers of the Continental Congress.

Deposition of John Robins Regarding Hostilities at Lexington.
Transcribe this record

You can transcribe any record in the catalog by using the “View/Add Contributions” button underneath the digitized records. You’ll need to create a login to transcribe.

Since it’s Sunshine Week, it’s a great time to work on transcribing declassified records we have online.  You’ll see a classification and declassification markings, along with evidence of important historical events.  … [ Read all ]

Third wave of BC Sugar records now available

We are pleased to announce the public release of the third batch of records from the British Columbia Sugar Refining Company fonds (BC Sugar), donated to the Archives in 2011 by Lantic Inc.

The records of BC Sugar document the activities of Vancouver’s first large-scale industrial operation that was not a sawmill or related to the railways. The company continues to operate its historic refinery on Vancouver’s waterfront to this day.

This third release focuses on the holdings of the BC Sugar Museum, founded as a unit at BC Sugar in the mid-1970s. This release predominantly consists of photographs that document the full range of activities at BC Sugar and its Canadian subsidiaries, the life of the Rogers family, and other sugar refineries in Canada, including:

  • photographs documenting construction and renovations at the refineries in Vancouver; Raymond, Taber, and Picture Butte, Alberta and Fort Garry, Manitoba; and photographs of staff and operations in the refineries;
  • photographs acquired from and about the Rogers family;
  • material displayed by the BC Sugar Museum at their purpose-built display rooms at the Vancouver refinery; and
  • small additions to a number of non-photographic records series.

We hope to make most of the photographs available online later this year; for now they are available only in their original format in the Archives’ reading room.

Finds in this third release of records include photographs from the Rogers family, many of them documenting the family’s active social life. These photographs, acquired by the BC Sugar Museum, complement the many photographs in the Rogers family fonds (AM1368).

B.T. [Benjamin Tingley] Rogers and Margaret swimming; Reference code: AM1592-1-S2-F08 : 2011-092.3807.

B.T. [Benjamin Tingley] Rogers and Margaret swimming; Reference code: AM1592-1-S2-F08 : 2011-092.3807.

In the 1940s, BC Sugar embarked on a twenty-year reconstruction program, replacing or expanding many of the original structures at the refinery. These projects are well documented in this release, which includes a large body of progress photographs.

Construction of new office building: framing second floor; Reference code AM1592-1-S2-F06: 2011-092.1976.

Construction of new office building: framing second floor; Reference code AM1592-1-S2-F06: 2011-092.1976.

A variety of photographs which document the staff of the Vancouver and other refineries, both at work and at play, are included in this release. This release includes a number of photographs of staff picnics and other social events, as well as staff at work in the refinery.

Women workers in cube department; Reference code: AM1592-1-S2-F01 : 2011-092.0467.

Women workers in cube department; Reference code: AM1592-1-S2-F01 : 2011-092.0467.

Additions to the fonds will be released over time as the records are processed. These later additions will include the company’s extensive collection of sugar-related publications and periodicals, more architectural drawings of the various refineries and small additions to various records and photograph series. Stay tuned for further information!

The City of Vancouver Archives would like to thank Lantic Inc. for its financial support for the archival processing of the BC Sugar fonds, which has made it possible for the Archives to make these records available to the public at this time.

Lantic corporate logo



Maps of the Caribbean

The Florida State University Digital Library (FSUDL) has been a contributing member of the Digital Library of the Caribbean (DLOC) since its formation in 2004. Since then, the FSUDL has uploaded historic and rare maps of the islands to DLOC. These maps were created by some of the world’s most talented cartographers and explorers and our oldest map, created by Abraham Ortelius, dates all the way back to 1584.

Abraham Ortelius’ map, Pervviae avriferæ regionis typvs

The FSU Digital Library Center was asked by DLOC to contribute to the collection by selecting and photographing some of the unique maps held here in Special Collections & Archives at Florida State University. The intention was to expand the scope and geographic area of the existing DLOC collection and, once the maps were uploaded to the Digital Library, they would be made viewable to the public. The availability of these digital images will help reduce the wear-and-tear caused by repeated handling of these fragile maps.

Carte du Golphe du Mexique et des isles Antilles

In addition to adding more maps to the collection, the Digital Library Center at FSU decided to re-photograph its previously digitized maps that were originally captured on a now-obsolete piece of scanning equipment. The updated images were photographed by a more powerful overhead, medium-format camera and lighting kit which ensured the maps were digitized at a higher resolution. Now these high-quality images in the collection accurately represent the true detail and colors of these works of art.

Phase One overhead camera and map of Trinidad
Phase One overhead camera and map of Trinidad
Closeup of Trinidad map
Closeup of Trinidad map










Most of the maps in FSU’s previous contribution consisted mainly of the West Indies, Eastern Caribbean, Cuba and the Bahamas. However, the Digital Library Center has since included some areas of the Western Caribbean as well as parts of Central and South America.

Artwork detail on Kaarte van de Golf van Mexico
Artwork detail on Kaarte van de Golf van Mexico

Some of the images in the Caribbean Maps collection display detailed drawings, etchings and engravings printed with vibrant colors. Other maps are equipped with informative, color-coded keys that show which countries controlled the islands at the time. In these maps, each island is painted according to the colors in the key.

Color key showing ownership
Color key showing ownership

To view the maps in our Caribbean Collection, click here. To view other FSUDL material, including historic books, photographs and ephemera, head over to the Florida State University Digital Library.

Stuart Rochford is the Digital Library Center manager at FSU and has worked with Strozier Library since 2011. He graduated from FSU with a BFA in graphic design and is currently working on his Master’s Degree in Library Science.

The Public Interest Declassification Board commemorates James Madison’s birthday and Sunshine Week

Sunshine Week is an annual initiative designed to raise awareness of the importance of citizen access to Government information.  This commemoration coincides with National Freedom of Information Day and James Madison’s birthday (March 16).

We reaffirm the principle that an Open Government is essential in our democracy.  An informed citizenry, actively participating in debating and discussing the actions of its government leaders, is only possible when they have all necessary access to government information.  In December, we issued our supplemental report, Setting Priorities: An Essential Step in Transforming Declassification, as an aid to government policymakers and practitioners.  This report provided six recommendations to support improved declassification policies.  The recommendations focused on prioritizing declassification to those records that are most sought-after by the public and those records that are historically significant and of interest to policy makers, citizens, historians and researchers.

We continue to advocate for new policies to implement an improved declassification system.  These new policies are necessary as government information generation increases.  We believe that technological solutions offer the only answer to the long-term challenge of managing this exponential growth of information across government.  There remains an ever-increasing amount of government records and digital information inaccessible to the public.  Prioritization will set-up this information for a public access review, but providing real access will require automated workflow tools, advanced search and retrieval capabilities, and content understanding technologies if we want to seriously amend the system and increase declassification to an acceptable level.

In 2015, the PIDB intends to focus on learning more about these technologies and how they can be used to increase and improve declassification.  The PIDB will continue advocating for their testing and implementation at the National Declassification Center and at agencies.  We have long-supported the idea that modernization requires the adoption of these technologies.  We look forward to working with the Security Classification Reform Committee, agencies and the public to advance our mutual goal of reforming our policies and practices for today’s digital age.



The Hosts and Champions Exhibition Preview!

Hosts and Champions Podium

The Hosts and Champions Podium

As we prepare to open our touring Hosts & Champions exhibition at Trinity Church, Irvine, to the public this Friday, Jocelyn Grant, one of our Exhibition Assistants, provides a re-cap of the opening preview. 

For Commonwealth Day on Monday, a preview of the Hosts and Champions Exhibition went ahead before its full opening this Friday.


Our medal display

After several weeks of arranging the displays, creating additional iPad materials and the preparation of captions, the preview was opened by a few notable speakers:

  • Lesley Forsyth – Cultural development manager for North Ayrshire Council welcomed and introduced the exhibition and each guest
  • Margaret Burgess – Minister for housing and welfare, MSP for Cunninghame South
  • Michael Cavanagh – Chair of Commonwealth Games Scotland
  • The baton bearers from North Ayrshire Suzanne Fernando and her daughter shared their experience of carrying the baton for Glasgow 2014, and why they were chosen
  • Joan Sturgeon – The provost, North Ayrshire Council rounded off the speeches by officially opening the exhibition

Kuala Lumpur Uniforms


The opening preview on Monday 9th March


The opening preview on Monday 9th March

The exhibition will now be open every Monday, Friday and Saturday between 10am to 4pm in Trinity Church, Bridgegate, Irvine, starting this Friday 13th. The exhibition will run from March 13 to April 17.

This is the first venue of the Hosts and Champions touring exhibition, and after Irvine this show will travel to:

Carnoustie – April 20th – May 25th

Back to Stirling to the MacRobert Centre – July 20th – September 7th

Dalkeith – September 14th – October 26th

Dumfries – October 26th – November 30th

Stranraer December 7th – 28th


Some unique banners created from Glasgow 2014 flags and signs by members of the North Ayrshire community

So if you cannot make it through to see the exhibition in Irvine, watch out for it visiting a town near you, as more venues and tour stops are still being arranged. Up to date information about the tour can be found here and on the University of Stirling Archives twitter, with #Hostsandchampions.



Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.: Has the Constitution Outlived Its Usefulness?

It was a momentous time in our country’s history when the Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. delivered a talk about the United States Constitution at the New York Public Library on October 6, 1987. Not only was it the year in which the nation celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Constitution’s existence, but it was also a period when Ronald Reagan’s presidency was testing the integrity of the cherished document. The ongoing revelations of the Iran-Contra affair were the back drop for Schlesinger’s remarks.

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. was the former speechwriter for Adlai Stevenson who left a professorship at Harvard in 1961 to become an adviser to President John F. Kennedy. Schlesinger found a teachable moment in the Reagan Administration’s scheme to covertly trade weapons with Iran in return for the release of American hostages and to fund the Contras, the anti-Socialist rebels in Nicaragua. He noted that the clandestine presidential provision of aid to the Contras violated a law recently enacted by Congress and proved wrong those who claimed the Executive Branch had grown too weak. Furthermore, Schlesinger saw the scandal as a stark reminder of the wisdom of the Constitution’s Framers, who understood the fundamental importance of separation of powers between three co-equal branches of our national government. The Congressional inquiries and the Federal Court trials that shed light and imposed punishment on Contra-gate operatives served to block, albeit imperfectly, Executive overreach.

Schlesinger says the Framers wanted a strong central government but also knew that checks and balances were needed to preclude any president from becoming too strong. Alexander Hamilton, for instance, forcefully argued against granting a president arbitrary power to rush into conflict with other nations. Congress, vested with the exclusive power to establish armed forces and make war, was meant to have equal power with the president in guiding foreign policy. What this means, according to Schlesinger, is that decisions about war and peace are not to be made hastily; they must be made within the framework of discussion and deliberations between the president and Congress.

“It is a delusion to think that on matters of foreign policy the president is better informed than Congress,” Schlesinger asserts. He has firsthand knowledge of the type of blunders a president can make when deciding foreign policy from within a bubble: Schlesinger attended the 1961 meetings JFK held with the Armed Forces Joint Chiefs as they planned the infamous, covert Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. To his profound regret, the historian did not raise objections at these meetings, which led to one of America’s greatest military and foreign policy fiascoes.

Schlesinger does see uses for covert action. (Indeed, as an analyst just after World War II for the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the Central Intelligence Agency, he worked closely with America’s first Spymaster, William Casey). But he emphasizes that “there should be a presumption against Executive secrecy”: Schlesinger believes a president who operates in secret subverts our Constitution — the oldest in the world — by creating an imperial Executive Branch. His acclaimed book, The Imperial Presidency, analyzes the furtive methods President Richard Nixon relied upon to abuse power and undercut the Constitution. Unfortunately, the tactics developed by the Nixon Administration formed a template for the Reagan Administration.

The author of numerous books about American Liberalism in the 20th Century as embodied in the administrations of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and JFK, Schlesinger says that truly effective presidents know what needs to be done and are able to make their case to Congress and, thus, the American people. In his view, Reagan and his advisers decided that their landslide second term victory entitled them to act in secrecy. The Administration came to believe that it was “the savior of the world.” Quoting JFK, Schlesinger notes a wise president must understand that “we are not omnipresent or omnipotent [and there] . . . cannot be an American solution to every world problem.”

While Schlesinger states “the Constitution can’t guarantee against presidential incompetency or stupidity,” this unabashed liberal believes Americans should be proud of how the checks and balances built into our much admired system of government blocked further secret excesses by Reagan. “What better way to celebrate the Constitution’s Bicentennial?”

Remembering New York City’s Roving Cinema

One of the amazing things about New York City’s Cinemobile program was that it operated all year round.  Unlike the seemingly endless outdoor screenings that take place here in the summer, the Cinemoble showed movies all winter long in a converted, and presumably unheated, school bus. 

Operating from 1966 to 1971, the bus showed mostly children’s movies but staff also offered art activities and reading programs. This audio is taken from a 1971 WNYC special report and includes interviews with two Cinemobile employees at a time when the program was ending due to budget cuts. 


New York City's Cinemobile 1968
New York City's Cinemobile 1968



OCLC Research Library Partnership, making a difference: part 2

I previously shared the story of Keio University, who benefited from attending our 2013 partner meeting — I wanted to share two more “member stories” which have roots in the OCLC Research Library Partnership.

OCLC member stories are being highlighted on the OCLC web page — there are many other interesting and dare I say inspiring stories shared there, so go check them out.

Ronald Gordon (AC 1965) and Oliphant Press


Back in October, Peter wrote about our Harbor Press ephemera collection.  Today, I’m spotlighting another collection of fine books, these designed by master printer Ronald Gordon, Amherst class of 1965.

While a student at Amherst College, Ronald Gordon studied the craft of printing and bookmaking with artist and print-maker Leonard Baskin and printer Harold McGrath.  Gordon interned at Baskin’s Gehenna Press in Northampton, Mass and as part of his senior honors thesis, Gordon designed and printed Jubilate Agno: Part One under The Apiary Press, Smith College’s student publication imprint.



Gordon designed the first two issues of Amherst student publication Paideia and Sam Ellenport ’65 served as Assistant Editor of the publication.  Ellenport went on to become a master bookbinder and founder of Harcourt Bindery.

Shortly after graduating from Amherst College, Ellenport and Gordon established Oliphant Press as a private press in New York City.  Oliphant’s first imprint in 1966 was Encounter by fellow Amherst alum Michael Blick (’65).

Maurice Sendak illustration from  Fortunia ; a tale by Mme. D’Aulnoy

Maurice Sendak illustration from Fortunia; a tale by Mme. D’Aulnoy

Initially publishing mostly limited run chapbooks of poetry, the press later expanded to become a commercial printer. The Oliphant Press printed first editions of works by such writers as Samuel Beckett, Ray Bradbury and John Updike, with illustrations by artists such as Leonard Baskin, Edward Gorey, and Maurice Sendak.  (Personal note: Those last three are my dream team of artists.)

Some highlights from our collection of Gordon’s work:

The naming of cats / T. S. Eliot. 1968


New Year Blues / Allen Ginsberg. 1972

The Hopper House at Truro / Lawrence Ferlinghetti. 1997
The London scene : five essays / by Virginia Woolf. 1975
Medusa : a portrait / H.P. Lovecraft. 1975

Beginning in 1974, Gordon co-published several books with Frank Hallman, including Fitz-James O’Brien’s What Was It? with illustrations by Leonard Baskin, and Fortunia by Mme. D’Aulnoy with illustrations by Maurice Sendak.

What was it? / by Fitz-James O’Brien. 1974

Fortunia ; a tale by Mme. D’Aulnoy. 1974

1979. Ray Bradbury: Beyond 1984

Beyond 1984 / Ray Bradbury. 1979

Ronald Gordon continues to provide high-quality design and print work outside of the Oliphant imprint.  One such undertaking was Gordon’s work designing half of the titles of fine press limited edition books produced by William Targ under the famous Targ Editions imprint.  His work with the Targ Editions includes Three illuminations in the life of an American author by John Updike and Ray Bradbury’s Beyond 1984.

Beyond 1984 / Ray Bradbury. 1979

A nearly comprehensive collection of the Oliphant Press’s publications is held in the Amherst College Library and the Archives & Special Collections holds the Ronald Gordon (AC 1965) Oliphant Press Materials Collection.

Beginning to End / Samuel Beckett. 1988

West Florida Seminary Cadets at the Battle of Natural Bridge

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Natural Bridge, we are re-posting an entry that was originally published on March 6th, 2013 by Eddie Woodward.

Almost from its inception, there had been a military and cadet component at West Florida Seminary (1851-1901), predecessor to Florida State University. With the commencement of the Civil War in 1861, this aspect of the school’s curriculum increased in importance, so much so that the State Legislature proposed changing the name of the institution to the Florida Collegiate and Military Institute. Throughout the War, the students served as something of a home guard, occasionally guarding Union prisoners of war and always on call in the event of a Federal threat to the capitol. In early March 1865, that threat was realized when word came that a Union fleet had landed troops on the Gulf coast at the St. Marks lighthouse with the probable intention of capturing the capitol in Tallahassee.

West Florida Seminary Cadet Corps, circa 1880s
West Florida Seminary Cadet Corps, circa 1880s

The invading forces, commanded by Brigadier General John Newton, moved northward from the coast, hoping to cross the St. Marks River at Newport and attack St. Marks from the rear. Local militia was called out to delay the Union advance, and among those were cadets from West Florida Seminary. At noon on March 5, the cadet corps assembled at the school and marched to the state capitol where they were enlisted and sworn into Confederate service. The cadet’s principal, Captain Valentine M. Johnson then led them to the Tallahassee train station for their journey southward to meet the invaders. Johnson was a veteran and had served honorably in the Confederate Army until 1863 when he was forced to resign for health reasons. It is nearly impossible to accurately determine the number of cadets that participated in the campaign. However, reasonable estimates put the number at around twenty-five, with their known ages ranging from eleven to eighteen. At the train station, Johnson filtered out those cadets, mostly the youngest of the corps, that would not participate. Others were left behind to continue their home guard duties and to man fortifications as a last line of the capitol’s defense.

VMI Cadet Photograph of Valentine Mason Johnson, circa 1860
VMI Cadet Photograph of Valentine Mason Johnson, circa 1860

The cadets and other Confederate troops boarded a train in Tallahassee which carried them south to Wakulla Station on the St. Marks Railroad. From there, they marched six miles to the small village of Newport. There, in the late afternoon on March 5, they joined forces with a portion of Lieutenant Colonel George Washington Scott’s 5th Florida Cavalry Battalion and a small contingent of Confederate marines and militia. Scott’s men had skirmished with the Federal troops the previous day, gradually falling back from the East River Bridge toward Newport. It was at that bridge that the Union forces hoped to cross the St. Marks River, enabling them to move against St. Marks and perhaps Tallahassee. At Newport, the cadets occupied a line of breastworks running parallel to the river along its west bank. From there, they commanded the approaches to the East River Bridge, which Scott’s men had partially burned. Federal troops on the opposite side of the river still hoped to force their way across and a skirmish soon developed. By nightfall, the firing diminished, and everyone waited in their positions to see if the Federals would resume the conflict the next morning. It was in those trenches on the banks of the St. Marks River that the young cadets from the West Florida Seminary received their baptism of fire.

Map of Natural Bridge from the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion (State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/143922)
Map of Natural Bridge from the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion (State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/143922)

Newton, frustrated in his efforts to cross the St. Marks River at Newport, learned of another crossing upriver at Natural Bridge. At that location, the St. Marks River ran underground for a short distance, creating a natural crossing point. In anticipation of such a move, the Confederate General William Miller positioned Scott’s cavalry at Natural Bridge with orders to delay a crossing until reinforcements could arrive. At dawn on March 6, a battle erupted with the Federal forces unable to force their way across the span. The cadets were soon ordered out of their entrenchments at the East River Bridge and marched along the Old Plank Road to reinforce Scott’s men at Natural Bridge. One mile from the battlefield, two cadets peeled off to aid the wounded at a field hospital. The rest continued on, all the while the sounds of cannon and musket fire growing louder.

When they reached the battlefield, the cadets were positioned near the center of the Confederate line, a giant crescent enveloping the Natural Bridge. There they immediately dug trenches to protect them from enemy fire and were instructed not to fire unless a charge was made on an adjoining Confederate battery. In these early stages, the battle was primarily an artillery engagement and the cadets could do little more than wait it out with the rest of the defenders. All attempts by the Federal troops to cross at Natural Bridge were stymied with heavy losses. The worst fighting occurred in front of the Confederate line in a dense hammock that covered the crossing. The cadets were not heavily involved in this action but remained under constant artillery and musket fire. Cadet Lieutenant Byrd Coles credits the Seminary’s teachers on the battlefield with the safety of the cadets: “no doubt many of the cadets would have been struck if our teachers had not watched us constantly and made us keep behind cover.”

With the arrival of reinforcements, the Confederate troops counterattacked, charging across the bridge and driving the Federal troops a short distance. At this instance, the Union General Newton, realizing that Natural Bridge, like the East River Bridge at Newport, was too heavily defended to cross, ordered a retreat back to the St. Marks lighthouse and the protection of the Federal fleet. The cadets were then ordered to return to Newport to guard against another attempted crossing there. However, the Federal forces had had enough, and the cadets’ active duty had come to an end.

Confederate General William Miller (State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/28524)
Confederate General William Miller (State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/28524)

The Confederate victory against the Federal invasion was complete. Confederate casualties numbered three killed and twenty-three wounded (three mortally), with Federal losses totaling 148. The cadets from West Florida Seminary suffered no casualties. With the battle won, some of the cadets returned to Tallahassee, while others remained at Newport where they guarded two Confederate deserters that had crossed over to the Federal army and had been captured during the campaign. After the cadets witnessed their trial and execution, they escorted a group of around twenty-five Federal prisoners of war back to Tallahassee. On their return to Tallahassee, the cadets were welcomed as conquering heroes. A ceremony was held in the State House of Representatives chamber of the state capitol, where the cadets were presented with a company flag. Cadet Hunter Pope accepted the flag in the name of his comrades. It is uncertain what became of the flag, and it is thought that it returned with the cadets to the Seminary and was probably taken by Federal troops when they occupied Tallahassee after the War.

The Confederate victory at the Battle of Natural Bridge had no effect on the outcome of the War, and in less than a month, Robert E. Lee would surrender the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. The terms of Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender of the Army of Tennessee seventeen days later, included the surrender of Confederate troops in Florida as well. On May 10, Federal troops under the command of Brigadier General Edward McCook took possession of Tallahassee. The Federal army captured and paroled approximately 8,000 Confederate soldiers, including twenty-four cadets. It is thought that some of the cadets simply returned home after the surrender and before being formally paroled.

Natural Bridge Battlefield State Monument (State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/29939)
Natural Bridge Battlefield State Monument (State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/29939)

Tallahasseeans fondly remembered the service provided by the West Florida Seminary cadets. Beginning in 1885, the state of Florida granted pensions to Confederate veterans, and two years later, they were also extended to home guard units, which included the cadets. Sixteen former cadets applied for pensions, while several others endorsed the applications of their comrades. The Tallahassee chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy issued Southern Crosses of Honor to the former cadets who applied for the award, and they received tributes as “The Youngest of the Young Who Wore the Gray.” That phrase, forever associated with their participation in the battle, is inscribed on a monument at Natural Bridge Battlefield, which is today a state park.

As a result of the cadet/students participation in the engagement, on February 28, 1957, the FSU Army and Air Force ROTC units were officially presented with battle streamers by Governor LeRoy Collins in a ceremony at Doak Campbell stadium. Today the Florida State University Reserve Officers’ Training Corps detachment is permitted to fly a battle streamer as a result of the School’s participation in the action at Natural Bridge. It is one of only three colleges and universities in the United States which is permitted to do so. In the 1990s, the campus ROTC Building was renamed the Harper-Johnson Building in honor of Captain Valentine M. Johnson and a twentieth century Air Force ROTC graduate who rose to the rank of general.

naturalbridgeexhibitRecently, the Museum Objects course installed an exhibit in Strozier Library commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Natural Bridge, and will is open until late March. There is also a digital companion to the exhibit which can be viewed at http://naturalbridge150.omeka.net/.

For a fuller account of the battle, see David J. Coles,  “Florida’s Seed Corn: The History of the West Florida Seminary During the Civil War,” Florida Historical Quarterly 77, no. 3 (Winter 1999): 283-319.

Happy Belated Texas Independence Day (March 2nd)!

It’s time for our March blog post, so I have crawled out of the dark recesses of the archives to bring you a selection of books on Texas Independence to commemorate Texas Independence Day which was on March 2nd!   Several of our collections have a nice swath of different books and materials on Texas history—especially about the Alamo, to no one’s surprise.  While I didn’t pull out any of those, (how can I pick between “The Alamo” and “The Fall of the Alamo”?) I did find a few firsthand accounts of Texas at the time of its revolution which, if you’re anything like me, you will find more engaging than ten books about the battle at San Jacinto.

But first, since this is about independence, we cannot forget to mention the document asserting such a concept.  The Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence is a thorough series of biographies for each man who signed the declaration back in 1836.  If you’re looking to go a little beyond Sam Houston, you might like to take a look at this book.  Also of interest might be The Men Who Made Texas Free, an older book on the same subject.

If you’d like to read about the whole thing from beginning to end, but not out of a textbook, then I would suggest checking out our signed copy of Texas Independence by Andrew Jackson Houston, the son of the famous Sam Houston.  Obviously a biased report on the subject, but a rare and interesting version to peruse.

Now, I know I promised firsthand accounts, so here they are.  First, I have two books from men who traveled from Austria and Germany to Texas and found themselves fighting in the revolution.  The first is Memoirs of George B. Erath.  Erath recounts how his draft-dodging in Austria and thirst for something new and far away led him to Texas, and how his job surveying land led him to fighting Comanches and then in the Battle at San Jacinto, and even past that to the time of the Civil War.  Often I believe we forget that not all of the men in Texas were originally American or Mexican.  The other, With Milam and Fannin, tells a similar tale of the German Harman Ehrenberg, who joined the Greys, a volunteer militia from New Orleans who fought alongside the Texans.  These firsthand accounts of the fighting provide a more human look into what it was like to be among those fighting for independence.

If you’re looking for someone a little more famous, then we do have a copy of The Life of Colonel David Crockett, an autobiography/diary which follows Davy Crockett from his youth all the way up to just before his death at the Alamo, tied up by an epilogue of sorts from the editor.  Unfortunately, I could find no official record of his supposed quote “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas,” but it is an interesting read all the same.

As before, I like to save my favorite find for last, so here’s a little something I pulled off the shelf on accident and knew I had to include.  It’s titled The General’s Tight Pants and no, it’s not a romance novel about Sam Houston, though for a brief moment I had to wonder.  It is two letters sent from Edward Warren, a man from Maine who was on a trip in Texas in the winter of 1836, right before the signing of the declaration.  His letters include a description of Sam Houston, whom he met, and explain that his pants were much too wet and too small—which I find to be a strange detail to include in a letter to your father, and yet, I know I would have said the same.  The most fascinating bit about these letters, besides the idea that a man from Maine would up and decide to just check Texas out for no clear reason, is that he very nearly avoided being in San Antonio at the Battle at the Alamo.  Had his party not changed routes at the last minute, he may well have been killed there by the Mexican forces.  It’s the sort of thing that makes you think, what if?

Of course, we have a lot more about the Texan Revolution (so many books about the Alamo! So many!) in our Beretta and Beretta-Nicholson collections, so if you’d like to check any of them out, come on by Special Collections any weekday during the school year between 1:15 and 5pm.  We hope to see you here!

–Darcie Marquardt, Class of 2016

Whisperings and Musings: Fan Mail from 1937

In 1937, WNYC’s popular Sunday morning program was dedicated to the “shut-ins” of New York City. Whisperings and Musings spoke to those who were bound to the home or hospitalized and in need of a little entertainment, a word of cheer, and of course, “greetings upon the celebration of birthdays and anniversaries.” Many listeners sent in their own poems about forgotten love, historical events, boyhood memories, and even about how cars were going too fast on the streets in the 1930s.

From the About Page in the program notebook:

Whisperings and Musings - Fan Mail About Page

Station chief, Commissioner Frederick Kracke, reached out to fellow Commissioner of Hospitals, Dr. Sigismund Goldwater, to promote the radio show in various hospitals.

Whisperings and Musings - Fan Mail Commissioner Letter

Most listeners wrote they were pleased with the various poems read or the singers featured on the show. Among the most requested performers were: Dorothy Wood, Connie Alba, and the Chordsters. Who were they? We’re looking into it.

Whisperings and Musings - Speed on the Streets Poem

While most letters praised the show, helping the lonely find solace with the radio program, some were displeased, like this letter from David:

Whisperings and Musings - Fan Mail May 9, 1937

David was dissatisfied with the way the song “Old Man River” was played on air. “Now I think that the song should never have been allowed to be played in such a manner. The song should be played in the original and only way, and records of the song can still be obtained!”

Some letters pleaded with program producer J. Berger to be given the opportunity to perform on the show, like this butcher who really just needed to catch a break:

Whisperings and Musings - Fan Mail Butcher Letter

This is just a brief glimpse of the many letters sent to Whisperings and Musings. Although there are no extant broadcast copies of the show, these letters do help provide the reader with a sense of program and what it meant to its listeners in 1937.

To see more fan mail, check out the Whisperings and Musings Tumblr Page!

WNYC holds together through WWII

In 1944, a number of radiomen from our station went to serve in the US armed forces. The Transmitter was a newsletter, edited by WNYC employee Mike Jablons, that connected those former newsmen serving in the war with their colleagues still working at the station in New York. At the time, WNYC was still owned by the city and was stationed in the historic Municipal Building at 1 Centre Street in lower Manhattan. The Transmitter featured some recurring columns including ”Patch Chords”, “The Mailbag”, and ”Behind the Mike”, which Jablons wrote himself. 

The newsletter is littered with humor (often with sexist overtones) and generally tries to keep it light, while informing readers of deaths, marriages, adventures and incidents within the WNYC community. “The Mailbag” consisted of letters addressed to the station from those abroad. The radiomen tell of their training, trials and travails, but mostly of how much they missed their radio home and “that lady atop the Municipal Building”.

The newsletter was forbidden by the government to publish the addresses of those abroad in the newsletter itself, as some locations were confidential, so Jablons would personally connect those in the service with the addresses of their fellows in arms if they wished to correspond with each other.

Some of the highlights mentioned in the newsletter are a fire that broke out in the Municipal Building, election night, D-Day, and WNYC’s 20th Anniversary. But mostly it’s WNYC trying to hold its community together in “this war-torn world” with news of even the smallest happenings at home, as humdrum as what color they’re painting the office and some sass over a broken water cooler. Also, Jablons flips the power switch in the Master Control room and takes us off the air for 15 seconds!

We’ve created a page where you can read through all of the issues of “The Transmitter” that we have from 1944, graciously donated to the WNYC Archives by Edward & Rhoda Goldberger. You can read an excerpt of a letter from Edward himself in this post.

What Lies Below New York’s East River, and the Diver Who Braved its Depths

If one looks deep enough, the murky waters of the East River can offer up some unusual treasures.  Deep water divers have exhumed everything from murder weapons and shipwrecks to dead bodies and – yes - runaway circus giraffes.

From the 1950s to the 1970s, Barney Sweeney was one such diver. In his 30 year long career, Sweeney recovered items both strange and mundane, and he shares some of his most interesting stories in this episode of New York: a Portrait in Sound.  

Sweeney would make headlines with some of his finds, like the time he found a diamond worth $25,000.

Recovering Jewelry

Sweeney also frequented the pages of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Tugboats beware!

Below you can hear Sweeney discuss the dead bodies he’s resurfaced, and the death of his father, who was also a professional diver. You can read an article here about an 8-year-old boy Sweeney found in 1957 who had drowned in the Hudson River. He also briefly discusses his diving gear, which you can learn more about here.

Resurfacing Dead Bodies


Sweeney graces the Brooklyn Daily Eagle again in 1957, looking for a sunken freight car.

Towards the end of Sweeney’s career, many of the jobs done by independent divers were already being usurped by machinery. He tells the interviewer that there are only 3 or 4 other New York independent divers still working today (this tape is most likely from the early 1960s). But the profession has never quite died out; the NYPD has their own scuba division, ecologists probe the river for life and pollution levels, and enthusiasts like the Coney Island River Rats explore some of our most toxic waterways seemingly just for the fun of it.