On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to adopt a resolution of independence, declaring the United States independent from Great Britain. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved.
While John Adams originally recognized July 2, 1776 as “the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America,” he envisioned future celebrations of the event. In a letter to his wife, Abigail Adams, he wrote: “It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward for ever more.”
The National Archives celebrates Independence Day with musical performances, a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence, and history-related family activities on July 4th, 2019 in Washington, DC. NARA Photo by Ted Chaffman.
As the trustee of our nation’s founding documents—the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights—the National Archives and Records Administration has a long tradition of celebrating this national holiday in a special way. This year, with museums in Washington, DC, and at the Presidential Libraries closed, the National Archives celebrates the 244th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in a new way—online.
11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. EST July 4th family programming including welcome remarks from Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, a discussion with Thomas Jefferson and other historical reenactors, including Abigail Adams, John Dunlap, and Dorothy Hancock. author Brad Meltzer and illustrator Chris Eliopoulos will talk about their Ordinary People Change the World book series.Register here .
Two hundred forty-four years ago, our founding fathers declared our independence and mutually pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. Today, as in 1776, we face fear, uncertainty, and challenges to our lives, economy, and general welfare. Throughout our history, as a nation united, we have confronted and overcome such threats. Let us continue to stay united as we strive for a more perfect – and more healthy – union.
We can often take for granted our founding documents. I encourage all of us to take time during our Independence Day celebrations to read these documents and to pause and remember the difficult choices our nation’s Founders made and the meaning of these documents today.
The Florida State College for Women, in addition to being the predecessor institution of modern-day FSU, was once one of the largest all-female centers of higher learning in the United States. From 1905 to 1947, thousands of young women from the American South attended and graduated from FSCW. These women were, generally, from affluent Southern families and were, exclusively, White. The liberal arts and professional education curricula offered by FSCW appealed to many of the ideals of the so-called “Progressive Era” of United States history, but also existed in tandem with the intense racial oppression and inequalities found throughout the post-Reconstruction South. The institution was also steeped in highly-regulated gender roles that ascribed White women a narrow set of areas in which they could study and explore professional lives beyond being wives, mothers, and “Southern belles.” As noted by the scholar Shira Birnbaum, FSCW offered new educational opportunities for women and “credentialed white women [sic] for participation in modern life” but did so “inside repressive Southern conventions of female subordination and racism” (p. 239).
This complex lattice of gendered and racial hierarchies undergirded the formation and development of FSCW, its student population, and the kinds of scholarship its students undertook. The historical records associated with FSCW, in particular the scholarly publications produced by its students, offer us a window into this world where certain classes of White women were given limited agency to pursue academic and professional development within a deeply segregated, patriarchal society.
In an effort to make this rich history more accessible to researchers, instructors, and students, FSU Libraries has begun the process of digitizing and electronically publishing theses and other academic writing produced by FSCW students. These fragile, original documents are currently held by Heritage & University Archives, and this effort is the first comprehensive, cross-departmental initiative to provide unprecedented digital access to these materials via FSU’s institutional repository, Diginole.
While progress on this project (and many others across the University) has been hampered by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, FSU Libraries has completed the first batch of 55 theses produced by FSCW students, written between 1908 to 1935. You can access these materials directly here and can sort by date to see this particular set of theses. These represent a broad array of subjects and research areas, some which do suggest deviations from the restrictive academic environment described by Birnbaum. Topics explored range from analyses of Renaissance poets to studies in entomology to sociological investigations of racial relations in early 20th century Florida. Through these works, we are offered a tremendous amount of insight into both the history of FSU as an educational institution and the greater cultural and societal roles of women in the American South. Below are a few highlights and excerpts from this initial batch of theses. We invite you to explore this fascinating collection and look forward to making more of these historic records available to all.
The University is fortunate to have access to the books and manuscripts of the Leighton Library in Dunblane. The books are included in Stirling University Library’s online library catalogue. But did you know that other, earlier catalogues of the Leighton collection also exist?
In 1683 or 1684 Archbishop Robert Leighton drew up a list of the books he intended to bequeath to Dunblane Cathedral. After his death, his nephew, Edward Lightmaker, added to the list. The original document is in the National Library of Scotland, but we now have a transcription on our website.
Another catalogue was created in 1691 by Bishop Robert Douglas, once the books were installed in the library building. The original catalogue is a manuscript in the Leighton collection, but we now have a transcription available from our website.
Bishop Douglas also listed pamphlet publications, or “sticht Peeces, viz single sermons, Litle treatisis and other Pamphlets”. We now also have a transcription of this list on our website.
These three catalogues are particularly useful for identifying Robert Leighton’s own books.
After the Leighton Library opened in 1688, the collection was augmented substantially. Later catalogues are also available. William Smellie’s 1793 catalogue is available online as a Google Book. The 1843 catalogue is a book in the Leighton Library, while the 1940 catalogue of Cameron Dinwoodie is available in Stirling University Library.
We are grateful to Gordon Willis for transcribing the three early catalogues.
This week’s #BeConnected Explore Our Campus blog looks at the Garden of Time.
The Garden of Time is a beautiful haven where all are welcome to enjoy a peaceful moment surrounded by nature, history and art.
As part of the University of Stirling’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2017, the University redeveloped an existing garden to create a new concept: a Garden of Time. Located to the east of the campus, the Garden enjoys spectacular views of Airthrey Castle, the Wallace Monument, the Ochil Hills and the prominent peak of Dumyat.
Reflecting the youthful vibrancy of the University, the Garden of Time is a place where nature meets art, whilst exploring time and memory. It’s a tranquil and inspirational place, which like the four seasons, will continually change and remain a place where everyone can visit, relax, imagine and dream new possibilities.
Landscape architects, designers and university curators have created a place of natural beauty within the campus’ historic parkland setting. The Garden features floral meadows, specimen trees, mowed lawn walkways, a walking labyrinth and unique sculptures.
Leave a memory
For anyone who has loved the University of Stirling and its beautiful setting there are opportunities to remember an event, a friend or a loved one. In addition to being a permanent recognition within the Garden, your donation will support current student projects and the ongoing development of the Garden of Time.
Recognition can be achieved through the following options:
engrave a Caithness path stone
adopt a specimen tree
support the purchase of original sculptural artworks
Kathleen Jamie, award winning poet and Professor of Poetry at the University of Stirling, was commissioned to write a poem which captures the spirit of the Garden of Time and the surrounding ancient landscape. The poem’s title is Sun to the stone
How to find the Garden of Time
Follow Hermitage Road and you’ll find the Garden of Time next to Alexander Court and opposite the Airthrey Golf Course club house. Find out more on getting around campus.
In this second installment of Library History with Heritage & University archives, we’ll be looking at the trajectory of the Library School since its reorganization in 1947. We’ll also be exploring how Special Collections & Archives has grown since its establishment in 1956.
As mentioned in our previous library history post, the School of Library Training and Service was restructured in 1947 and began offering a master’s degree. In 1967 and 1968 respectively, the school began offering doctor of philosophy degrees and advanced master’s degrees.
In 1981, the new library school building, the Louis Shores Building, was opened and the name of the program was once again changed to the School of Information. The school’s name was changed once more in 2004 to the College of Information. In 2009, the College of Information merged with the College of Communication to become the College of Communication & Information. The college now consists of three schools, the School of Information, the School of Communication, and the School of Communication Science & Disorders, offering both undergraduate and graduate courses on campus and online. The School of Information is an international leader in the iSchool movement and is the only iSchool in the state of Florida. The school offers graduate and specialist degree programs entirely online.
The department of Special Collections grew rapidly after 1953 with Louise Richardson as the head of the department, a role she would hold until her retirement in 1960. As early as 1962 Special Collections was curating and hosting exhibits using their holdings. By 1964, Special Collections holdings included the McGregor Collection of Early Americana, the Crown Collection of documents, pictures, and manuscripts, an archival collection of photographs of Florida and Floridians, an extensive rare book collection, and the Shaw “Childhood in Poetry” Collection. By this time the library was also a depository for federal documents (Report to the Director of the Libraries, 1960; Florida State University Bulletin, 1964).
By 1973, Strozier library contained 1,150,000 volumes, 500,000 government documents, 93,000 maps, and a collection of micromaterials exceeding 700,000. In 1985, the Claude Pepper library was established as the official repository for the Claude Pepper Papers.
Between 1995 and 1996, Special Collections was relocated to its current location on the first floor of Strozier library. The Heritage Protocol program, now known as Heritage & University Archives, was established in 2001 to gather university history related documents and memorabilia.
According to the Special Collections Annual Report for 2003, Special Collections, along with the Digital Initiatives? Center, was already providing digital access to rare Florida materials. The extensive Photographic Archives collection was being used by departments all across campus.
The last installment of Library History with HUA will be focused on the satellite libraries of Florida State University: the Dirac Science Library, the Maguire Medical Library, the College of Engineering Library, the Law Research Center, the Library and Learning Center at the FSU Panama City Campus, and the Allen Music Library.
This article was written by Kacee Reguera, a student worker in Heritage & University Archives.
While the Pathfoot Building is closed, the Art Collection will each week focus on some objects of interest. You can also search our entire collection online here.
Farnell James Morrison RSA RSW (Oil, 1972)
The first curator of the Art Collection, Matilda Mitchell, tells the story that in May 1973, Tom Cottrell, first Principal of the University of Stirling, ‘came back from a visit to the RSA [Open Exhibition], all excited about this picture and died a week later so we just went and got it.’* It was the first of four by this artist to be acquired by the Art Collection.
James Morrison‘s main working areas are the lush farmland around his home in Angus (as above) and the rugged wildness of the west coast (below). His restrained palette and distinctive huge skies, usually filled with majestically shaped broad brush clouds, convey the wide spaciousness of the Scottish landscape in a particularly unmistakable style.
This painting, entitled ‘An Teallach between Ristol and Mullagragh’ (Oil on board, 1997), was donated to the Collection by the artist to mark the reconvening of the Parliament of Scotland in May 1999. An Teallach is the name of a Scottish mountain. It comes from the Gaelic “the forge”, thought to refer to the colour of the mountain, which is mainly Torridonian sandstone. Watch a short film about Morrison in the Art Collection (made as part of ‘Corridor of Dreams‘ in 2013) here.
‘Rhum and Eigg’ (Oil on board, 1983) was also generously donated to the Art Collection by the artist, and according to the date accompanying the signature – 24/vi/83 – was painted thirty seven years ago this week. It evokes very clearly the mood of a quiet, mild, cloudy June day on Scotland’s west coast.
The fourth work by James Morrison in the Collection is actually his earliest, painted not long after he finished his studies at Glasgow School of Art (1950-54) and when he was still resident in that city. ‘Winter Trees, Glasgow’ (Oil on canvas, 1956) is quite different from the three shown above. Morrison did not move over to the East coast until the 1960s, and this early work has the feel of the city with its geometric trees, undergrowth, and the suggestion of a built environment, with only a sliver of pale sky. The work came to the Collection in 1998 by way of the Scottish Arts Council bequest.
* This story was retold in the Times Ed Supplement ‘ Scottish Diary’ Friday 21st June 1974.
Although in-person meetings are preferred, the virtual format was the best way at this time to continue the Board’s work with public participation and transparency while keeping everyone safe. In order to better plan for future engagements, the Board has approved an online survey for participants to let us know what worked best on June 5, and what we can do to improve the next events that may become necessary to hold as teleconferences open to the public.
Please take this short online survey, https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PIDBvpms, to provide your feedback on the meeting. Survey responses are anonymous and should take between 5 and 7 minutes to complete. You may respond to this survey any time through July 5th. We thank you for your participation and look forward to incorporating your valuable feedback into future events.
On April 4, 1967, civil rights leader and Nobel laureate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed a gathering of more than three thousand people at New York’s Riverside Church. His talk that day, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence, was his most public, most controversial and, some historians have argued¹, his most prophetic critique of American foreign and domestic policy.
At the time of King’s speech, the Vietnam War was in its twelfth year. President Lyndon Johnson was committed to winning it through a series of escalations of the United States’ ground war and bombing missions. But rather than bringing the conflict to an end, Johnson’s combat surges between 1963 and 1967 sunk the United States deeper into the quagmire of the war. Civilian and military casualty rates rose exponentially, and news outlets around the world broadcast horrific images of the chaos and tragedy of the war.
King, who had until 1967 been restrained in his public criticism of the war, now called openly from the sanctuary of Riverside Church for an immediate end to the conflict. He asserted that the “madness” of America’s role in Vietnam was morally indefensible and unambiguously linked to what he called “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism.” The time had arrived, he told his audience, for him and his fellow clergy to break their silence and to “move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history.”
Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read: Vietnam.
He went on to say:
This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
King’s speech was denounced quickly, and not only by his usual critics. Many prominent voices in the civil rights movement and in the liberal political establishment criticized and distanced themselves from King and his assessment of the war. The New York Times ran a castigating editorial entitled, Dr. King’s Error, calling the ideas presented in his Riverside Church lecture “both wasteful and self-defeating.”² Dr. Ralph Bunche, the United Nations Under Secretary for Political Affairs and a Director of the NAACP, said of Dr. King and the speech, “Like us all, of course, he makes mistakes. Right now, I am convinced, he is making a very serious tactical error.”³
A few weeks after his speech at Riverside Church, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a guest on the Casper Citron Show, a nationally syndicated radio program which aired in New York on WQXR, WOR and WRFM. The exact date of Dr. King’s appearance on the program is not clear, though it likely took place during the week of June 19th, 1967. Mr. Citron began the interview by asking King to respond to the criticisms being leveled at him in the wake of his Riverside Church speech, and specifically to the charge that King should focus on civil rights and not involve himself in matters of war and foreign affairs. Dr. King remained steadfast in his convictions, telling Citron:
Before I became a civil rights leader I was a clergyman, and I still am. And it’s always the responsibility of a clergyman to bring to bear the great insights of our Judeo-Christian heritage on the social evils of our day, and I happen to think war is a great social evil.
The other thing is that I cannot, for the world of me, segregate my moral concern. These issues, in the final analysis, are tied together. There can be no peace ultimately without justice, and there can be no justice without peace. Therefore I must carry my moral concern to the problem of war in general and the war in Vietnam in particular.
And the other thing is that in 1964 I received the Nobel Peace Prize. And this was a commission, so to speak, for me to do more than I had ever done to try to bring the issue of peace before the conscience and before mankind in general.
So for all of these reasons I don’t feel that I’m moving out of my area but that I’m in the very area where I must be because of a deep moral concern and a deep feeling that racism and militarism and economic exploitation are all tied together.
Audio of this excerpt of Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking with Casper Citron in 1967 is available in the media player at the top of this page; the complete interview is available here. Note: The audio quality of the original recording is often distorted.
* * *
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee by a white supremacist on April 4, 1968, one year to the day from his speech at Riverside Church in New York. America’s war in Vietnam continued to escalate and expand through the administrations of both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. On April 29th of 1975, President Gerald Ford withdrew the last American forces from Vietnam in a dramatic two-day evacuation called Operation Frequent Wind. On April 30th, 1975, North Vietnamese troops captured the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon, ending the twenty year conflict with the United States. In 2008, an article in The British Medical Journal estimated that there were 3,091,000 combat and civilian casualties in Vietnam between President Harry Truman’s deployment of the US Military Assistance Advisory Group in 1955 and the fall of Saigon in 1975.
¹Peniel, Joseph, “This speech made Martin Luther King Jr. revolutionary”, CNN, 3 April 2017
²Editorial Board, “Dr. King’s Error”, New York Times, 7 April 1967
³Sibley, John, “Bunche Disputes Dr. King on Peace”, New York Times, 13 April 1967
This recording of Martin Luther King Jr. on the Casper Citron Show is a recent acquisition of the New York Public Radio Archive. It was made possible through the generosity of Christiane Citron, the host’s daughter.
This week’s #BeConnected blog looks at the sculptures of Diane Maclean.
There are three works by sculptor and environmental artist Diane Maclean on campus, and their siting and scale means that they are a familiar sight. The first of the three distinctive works to be installed at the University was Shoe. It was purchased by the Art Collection in 2002 (having already been on loan since 1995). Plume and Wing arrived in 2015, on long term loan from the artist.
Wing (Steel, 2011) is based on the skeletal structure of a bird’s wing. Although made of industrial materials, it has a look of lightness that belies its strength. Using tough industrial materials to make something as delicate as a bird’s wing may seem perverse, but the scale and durability required to stand up to being in the open in a busy public area with high winds and changeable weather led Maclean to experiment with mild steel tube and the idea of a wing just touching the ground. The sculpture is galvanised and etched. The artist adds: ‘It was exhibited in my solo exhibition ‘Bird’ at the Lead Mining Museum in the Pennines in 2011. I made 4 sculptures relating to parts of a bird and also showed large scale photos of birds in exotic habitats from my travels in Africa and South America’.
Plume (Stainless steel, 2011) is a feather, a quill, a hackle. Using coloured stainless steel means the sculpture has many variations of colour depending on the viewpoint, the weather and the time of day or season. The red coloured stainless steel from which Plume is composed is an oxide layer on the surface of the polished material. The polished sheet is dipped into a tank of clear oxide. Light entering the infinitesimally thin layer at different angles creates colour which changes when seen from different viewpoints, through red, blue, purple and gold.
Plume was also created for Diane Maclean’s ‘Bird exhibition.
Shoe (Steel and wood, 1995) was made for the Scottish Sculpture Open exhibition in 1995 which started at Kildrummy Castle, Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, (near the Scottish Sculpture Workshop which organised the exhibition), and then moved to the University of Stirling. The sculptor says that ‘ideas for the sculpture came from visiting the 13th Century ruined castle and thinking about life at that time. Fortified with round towers and a moat, the castle had been the scene of many sieges. I was conscious of my feet, walking around the ruins in sandals ‐ only bishops, princes and people of high rank would have worn stylish footwear like a sandal in those days. Somehow the two ideas came together. In the process of making a model of the sculpture, the giant sandal emerged as a tower and a bridge or ramp. I think it spans the distance in time. In fabricating Shoe I worked with a blacksmith at Tomatin near Inverness. We curved the steel sheet by feeding it through a hand‐operated machine like a mangle, then welded 15 mm tube along the edges before galvanising and etching. Galvanising gives a very durable surface and the etching gives a varied, silvery surface to the galvanised metal. The pine logs are individually bolted on.’ (Diane Maclean, 2012)
While the Pathfoot Building is closed, the Art Collection will each week focus on some objects of interest. You can also search our entire collection online here.
Setting Sun II Alberto Morrocco (Oil on canvas, 1962)
Although he lived in Dundee, Alberto Morrocco‘s Italian heritage meant that Italy was the destination for many holidays and study trips. He drew prolifically on these outings, and many of his paintings evoke scenes of the heat and vitality of a southern Mediterranean summer. Morrocco was interested in exploring colour in relation to shape and form. He was influenced early in his career by Picasso and Braque, whose work he had encountered on his travels. This looser landscape perhaps retains some of this influence. The work was donated to the Art Collection as part of the Scottish Art Council Bequest in 1998.
Morrocco was especially prolific after retiring as Head of Painting at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, in 1982, where he had worked for thirty years. The short film above shows a small sample of the variety of his oeuvre – landscapes, figures, still lifes and interiors.
In addition to all of this work, he was also described in an obituary as ‘by far the finest portrait painter of his time in Scotland’, and this dual career led Morrocco to depict a wide variety of sitters from HM The Queen Mother to the President of Iceland, and also four Principals of the University of Stirling, which awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in 1987.
In 1994, Tucker Carlson was still a year away from his position at The Weekly Standard, where he first earned his conservative credentials, and his father, Richard W. “Dick” Carlson, was on WNYC’s airwaves defending public broadcasting’s very existence.
From 1992 to 1997 Richard Carlson was the President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the congressionally created entity that, in part, allocates federal funds for public television and radio stations, including WNYC. Carlson, a Republican with experience as a newspaper publisher, ambassador, and head of Voice of America, was tasked with protecting CPB and congressional funding for public broadcasting from threats of being “zeroed out” by conservatives like Congressman Newt Gingrich, who believed public broadcasting outlets were biased against conservatives.
Joining Richard Carlson and host Alex S. Jones on a July 10, 1994 segment of On the Media were Hollywood Reporter Washington correspondent Brooks Boliek, National Public Radio Managing Editor John Dinges, and William Hoynes, author of Public Television for Sale: Media, the Market, and the Public Sphere. They spent the hour discussing controversies surrounding public broadcasting including the possible effects of corporate sponsorship on program content, the sale of licensed merchandise for shows like Sesame Street and Barney & Friends, and claims that some documentary series were biased against certain constituencies.
Although not mentioned during this segment, WNYC was going through its own trials. WNYC and its radio and television licenses were owned by the city and the Giuliani administration was discussing selling those licenses to close gaps in the city’s budget. The station’s trustees were trying to buy the licenses from the city before they were sold off by the highest bidder.
Not long after this segment aired, Richard Carlson wrote to Mayor Giuliani opposing sale of any of the licenses and threatening to reclaim from the city prior grants from CPB to WNYC in the event of sale: “U.S. taxpayers, through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, have invested $19 million in the stations over the years and are, in the best sense, part owners of them…CPB will take every available legal step to ensure that the people of this country directly benefit from the sale of an asset they helped create.”
A decade later Tucker Carlson would briefly call PBS home. Between his first foray into television at CNN and subsequent programs on MSNBC and FoxNews he hosted a 2004 PBS program, Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered, produced by WETA in Washington, D.C. Even so, it may seem like weird history to many that during the height of the Gingrich Revolution CPB and WNYC were saved from possible extinction because his father stood as a firewall protecting public broadcasting from the axes of his fellow Republicans in Congress and City Hall.
 Lenz, Lyz. “The mystery of Tucker Carlson”, Columbia Journalism Review, 2018, September 5, cjr.org. Accessed March 1, 2020.
 Behrens, Steve and Karen Everhart. “Having ‘done the job,’ Carlson with depart CPB”, Current, 1997, February 3, current.org. Accessed March 1, 2020.
 Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “About CPB”, cpb.org. Accessed March 1, 2020.
 C-SPAN. “Q&A with Richard Carlson,” 2006, April 24, c-span.org. Accessed March 1, 2020.
 deWitt, Karen. “Gingrich Foresees a World Without Public Broadcasting”, The New York Times, 1994, December 17, 9.
Seven years ago, we launched Founders Online. In partnership with the University of Virginia’s Rotunda electronic imprint and documentary edition projects, we made a freely accessible and searchable online resource for people to read the papers of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams (and family), Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison.
At the June 13, 2013, launch, some 119,000 documents were available, and today that number has grown to 183,000 documents, fully annotated, from the authoritative Founding Fathers Papers. That number will continue to grow as more documents are transcribed, annotated, and added to the database.
The modern documentary editions of the papers of these six Founders began in 1943 with the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, with the first volume appearing in 1950 using research assistance of the staff of the National Historical Publications Commission, the body that later became the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). The Commission issued a report to President Harry Truman in 1954 that recommended the comprehensive collecting, arranging, editing, and publishing of the papers of other individuals of outstanding importance to the founding of the nation. The success of the Jefferson Papers led to the launch of other projects: Adams and Franklin (1954), Hamilton (1955), Madison (1956), and Washington (1968).
The idea for a grants program was endorsed by President John Kennedy before his death in 1963 and, the following year, the Ford Foundation awarded $2 million to the Commission to use to provide the initial grant funds for the publishing of these collections as well as the documents associated with the ratification of the Constitution. Congressional appropriations began in 1965, and all six projects have received grant support. The Hamilton Papers project was completed first with the publication of its last volume in 1987, and the other five are working toward completion of authoritative print and online editions.
Every day, some 4,000 people access the site, and even during the early days of the COVID-19 health emergency, loyal readers were able to find and use the site for research on projects ranging from family genealogy to classroom use to writing books and articles. This year alone some 133 articles, from a National Law Review article “Is Treason Applied as the Founders Intended” to a Smithsonian article on George Washington’s genealogy, used documents from Founders Online as a resource.
Writers of book-length studies have discovered the usefulness of the searchable database that drives Founders Online. New works such as Martha Brockenbrough’s Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary, Robert L. O’Connell’s Revolutionary: George Washington at War, Peter Stark’s Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged America’s Founding Father, and David O. Stewart, Madison’s Gift: Five Partnerships that Built America cite the website.
On C-SPAN’s Q&Ashow with Brian Lamb, David O. Stewart said, “I am a huge fan of Founders Online, which fundamentally changed my research and writing in large ways and small….Though I live in the Washington area and can get to the Library of Congress, working from home saves me two hours a day in commuting time…. Also, with Founders Online I can copy-and-paste passages that I want to quote, which reduces the donkey work of transcription and also eliminates the inevitable transcription errors. Finally, Founders Online is especially valuable in the final stages of preparing the manuscript, when you look back over your research notes and realize something about the source material that your notes don’t reveal. Is that because the source document didn’t say anything about the subject, or because your notes are lousy? Every history writer keeps a list of questions or problems like that to be addressed. With Founders Online, you can double-check those problems very readily. Convenience matters.”
In addition to historical studies and biographies of the men and women behind the documents that populate thematic studies such as Lawrence Aje and Catherine Armstrong, editors, The Many Faces of Slavery: New Perspectives on Slave Ownership and Experiences in the Americas, Corey Brettschneider’s The Oath of Office: A Guide to the Constitution for Future Presidents, and Susan Subak’s The Five-Ton Life: Carbon, America, and the Culture That May Save Us, which cites numerous letters to and from George Washington and to and from Thomas Jefferson as historical background in a book about returning to a lower-carbon footprint culture.
Teaching American History and America in Class have built lesson plans around special topics in early American history based on documents in Founders Online. It also shows up on the syllabi for courses in American history, political science, and economics at colleges and universities, including Harvard, Penn, the University of Georgia, and there’s even a website tying together the original Alexander Hamilton letters to “Hamilton,” the musical. Lin-Manuel Miranda even gave a shout out to the primary sources on Twitter.
And I am pleased with how Founders Online connects to the mission of the National Archives to provide access to the federal records in our care. At present 3,773 citations show up from a search for “National Archives” on Founders Online, and some of them have been digitized and the facsimiles added to the National Archives Catalog.
Here’s how to connect the dots: To see the handwritten letters these transcriptions are based on, you first need to identify the archives or library that holds the original. This is indicated in the source note (generally three letters) of each document located at the bottom of each document. Mouse over the code and the full name of the repository will appear.
Let’s say you are looking for the 1790 letter from Jefferson to Washington accepting the position of Secretary of State (https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-16-02-0103). At the bottom of the Founders Online transcription are these codes: RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR). “RC” = “recipient’s copy” and DNA is the National Archives, Record Group 59, Miscellaneous Letters Received.” You could then search the National Archives Catalog and find the document reproduced there.
Founders Online brings us back to the enlightened era that brought life to the American ideal, gets us as close as we can get to the “room where it happened,” through the words recorded in the collection. Browse, take a long read, be inspired again.
On the eve of World War II, a commentator on WNYC compared American racism to Nazi ideology. The broadcaster was John LaFarge, Jr., an outspoken Jesuit priest known for his candor and frankness. Today, having a radio host compare racism in the United States with fascism in Europe may not be too surprising, but on June 10, 1939 airing that idea was a radical departure from most of mainstream radio. Here is some of what he said:
Racism already has a foothold in America. During the two or three decades that immediately preceded the war of secession, and shortly after that event, racist theories singularly like those being circulated by the Nazis were propagated in this country. They were used to justify chattel slavery; and later to justify political and legal discrimination against the Negro. The influences of American racist doctrine have persisted into our day. Some of them were revived on the floor of the Senate during the filibuster on the Wagner-Van Nuys anti-lynching bill. There is enough of that mentality latent in the American people and in the American social structure to afford a rich seed-ground for European racism when it is transplanted to our shores.
LaFarge was the associate editor of America, a weekly Jesuit magazine, and the author of the 1937 book Interracial Justice: Study of Catholic Doctrine and Race Relations, in which he challenged long dominant ideas about the racial inferiority of African-Americans and condemned the notion of ‘separate but equal.’ In his WNYC broadcast LaFarge argues that although many Americans fear Nazi swastikas reaching our shores, they have failed to see the evil that is already here.
[The United States] has been manufacturing its own swastikas for the past century or more; that these swastikas can be seen visibly in so many words upon countless segregated institutions in some part of the country and invisibly woven into the prejudices and customs of millions of persons all over the country…But let us insist that if, when and by whom racism is discussed, on every platform and in every part of the country, the whole scope of racism shall be relentlessly exposed: and thus the main stress of that discussion be laid upon the group that has suffered most from practical racism in the past is suffering vastly more than any other group at present, and will continue to suffer in the future unless it keeps making itself heard and known: the Negro group in the United States.
In his prescient fifteen minute talk LaFarge warns listeners that, in order to keep Nazis from our doorsteps, we need to take a closer look at our own backyard.
Let us remind our fellow citizens that if they wish to keep racism out, they must exclude every bit and every form of it. Let Negro and white work together to bring the whole and unvarnished, undiminished truth before the American people and thus save Americans from being the victims of a delusion into which, if the present tendency goes unchecked, they may all too easily drift.
LaFarge’s commentary was part of Negro News and Views, a weekly broadcast sponsored by the National Urban League “in an effort to awaken the general public to the realization of the importance of the Negro’s cultural contribution to American life.” The program was directed by Edward Lawson, managing editor of the organization’s monthly magazine, Opportunity.
Water fountains for ‘whites and colored’ people exhibited in the Levine Museum of the New South, photographed on September 24, 2011, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
(David Wilson/Wikimedia Commons)
In 1934, LaFarge founded the Catholic Interracial Council of New York to fight racism. Similar councils spread across the country; in 1959 they joined together as the National Catholic Conference on Interracial Justice. LaFarge was also part of the 1963 March on Washington, and could be seen standing behind the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. For more on LaFarge’s lifelong efforts to combat racism see: John LaFarge, S.J. and The Unity of the Human Race.
Unfortunately, we’re not aware of any surviving recording of LaFarge’s talk. His quotes are taken from the June 17, 1939 edition of the African-American newspaper The New York Age, in an article titled “Editor of ‘America’ Says Seeds of Racism Exist in America’s Treatment of Negroes.”
This week’s #BeConnected blog looks at Scottish contemporary art and other places you can find out more about contemporary art.
Each week we have been encouraging you to look at our collections. You may have discovered an artist or artwork that you particularly like and may be interested in seeing more of a particular artist’s work. You may be no longer in Stirling, but are living near another gallery and wonder what collections they hold. Hopefully this post will point you in the direction of various sites where you can find out more.
The Art Collection at Stirling is a collection of Scottish contemporary art. The collection is one of a number of institutions around the country who collect contemporary art. We have recently contributed to a new site hosted by the Edinburgh College of Art Collecting Contemporary This site asks what does it mean to bring works of art together in a collection? What is distinctive about this or that collection? How, and indeed why, should contemporary art be collected? The site has interviewed Museum curators, private collectors and artists and posed these questions. It includes an interview with our curator Jane who considers collecting here at Stirling.
There are a number of online sites that you can look at to search collections including Art UK who have collaborated with over 3,200 British institutions to host their public collections online. All the oil paintings and sculpture that Stirling hold are available through this site. You can search by artist to find out where in the country their collections are on display.
For those of you who are interested in Scottish Contemporary Art the Generation Project might be of interest. In 2014 the National Galleries of Scotland hosted Generation: 25 years of Scottish contemporary art, The aim was to get the very best contemporary art to reach people across the country, to ensure that anyone living in or visiting Scotland in 2014 would be able to enjoy a unique and inspiring programme of exhibitions and events. The website detailing the artists involved is still available and includes many artists held within the collections at Stirling.
We do not exist in isolation and work with other museums and galleries to promote our collections. We are a member of University Museums in Scotland (UMIS). Scottish universities hold diverse and immensely rich collections of more than 1.8 million items. They comprise 32% of the country’s materials on history of science, 31% of the nation’s coins and medals, 24% of its fine art, 20% of natural science collections and 18% of its world culture collections. UMIS work together on collaborative projects and this week our Deputy Curator is beginning teaching on a joint project Capturing Lives in Scotland’s Communities. This is a nationwide Arts Awards project and alongside curators from other Universities Sarah is working with student mentors from Stirling University and pupils from around the Forth Valley to utilise our collections as inspiration for the project.
Our collections are available through our collections site which was launched last September where you can search through our artworks and collections from the University archives. This article recently published in the Art Libraries journal talks about the project to create an online catalogue for the University collections.
It seems like so long ago since we last saw you in our research rooms. We miss seeing you and helping you with your research.
The National Archives is committed to the health and safety of our staff, volunteers and the public. With the closure of our facilities, we have adjusted our operations to balance the need to conduct our mission-critical work while also adhering to safety guidelines from the federal government. National Archives staff has continued to serve the public by responding to as many inquiries as possible while working remotely.
Many of our services are available online:
The National Archives Catalog contains archival descriptions of our holdings and is the online portal to our digital records.
National Archives staff is responding to reference questions or requests for records sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and to specific units’ email addresses.
Researchers can ask—or answer—research questions on History Hub, a crowdsourced history research platform sponsored by the National Archives. Researchers can also search History Hub to see if a question has already been asked and answered.
The National Archives’ Presidential Libraries and Museums web site includes online education resources, virtual programs and exhibits, and information on conducting remote research at the 14 Libraries.
We have also been using this time to undertake projects that will have long-term benefits for public access.
National Archives staff has been working remotely to create and update finding aid data to enhance your research. Since March 16, we have added 234,139 archival descriptions and 6,477,642 digitized pages to the National Archives Catalog. Staff has also been tagging and transcribing records in the Catalog. Transcribing records, especially hand-written documents, makes these records easier to find. Since March, the number of available tags and transcriptions in the Catalog has tripled.
The Catalog now provides over 115 million digital copies of our holdings and we continue to add more every day. Sign up for our Catalog Newsletter to find out about new additions to the Catalog and projects that you can do with us. Check out our popular Record Group Explorer, a finding aid that provides visualizations of the data in our Catalog and provides simple paths into the records.
The work we are currently doing better positions us to make access happen while at the same time helping to keep you and our staff safe. Nevertheless, we understand that our remote services are not a substitute for being physically in the research room. We know you are anxious to return, and we are too.
At this point, we cannot tell you when that will be possible. We are working diligently on our plans for the gradual reopening of our facilities across the country, in consultation with our colleagues at the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. The reopening plans will be based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Office of Management and Budget, as well as information from subject matter experts from within and outside of the federal government. The reopening of each research room will occur based on our assessment of local conditions against a set of established criteria.
We are also looking at how we can promote the safety, health, and well-being of our staff, volunteers, and the public when we do reopen our facilities for research. This will mean changes to promote social distancing, changes to cleaning procedures for shared spaces and equipment, and some process changes. We will communicate with you about these changes as we get closer to reopening. After we reopen, we will provide opportunities for you to engage with us as we work to improve the researcher experience while also keeping everyone safe.
Thank you for your patience as we carry out our mission during this unprecedented time. We send our best wishes for your good health and well- being, and we look forward to the day when we can welcome you back to our facilities.
The beauty of the Sunshine State Digital Network is that there is 285,850 different pieces of content to work with. The content formats range from text to image to sound to moving image, meaning you have the option to work with many different mediums. Getting creative is the best way to approach reuse of the content in the repository, because the options of how to reuse the content are truly endless. Below are some ideas on how to reuse SSDN content.
There are many vintage photos, posters, and artwork in the repository that could be used for decorating a bedroom, a living room, or adding a touch of history to a classroom. Key words to type into the repository search when looking for content to reuse as posters include: “poster”, “playbill”, “art”, or “photo”.
Similar to making posters, you can print out content in sticker form or craft it into a button. To create a sticker or button, find an image you would like to use, crop it to the size you want it, and print it out. In order to print out a sticker, you will need special sticker printing paper. The best way to find images that can be used to create your stickers or buttons is to search using the topic. For example, if you are looking to create a button for Pride month, search “pride” in the repository search box.
Another creative way to reuse content is using the old texts and images to create crafts. When you print out the texts and images from the repository, you can cut them out and glue them into a collage or mood board. These collages can be used as a class project to represent a historic event or person. These printed out pieces can also be great as accent pieces in a scrapbook.
The possibilities of what you can do with the materials and content in the Sunshine State Digital Network repository are endless. These are just three ways to use materials from the repository. A note to keep in mind when using these materials for non-personal use is to make sure the material is out of copyright! Always check the copyright status of the material before getting creative. You can investigate if items are out of copyright by using the Copyright Genie. Go out and explore the creative possibilities in the SSDN portal at ssdn.dp.la.
In case you missed it, Providence Public Library’s Director Jack Martin sent a Message of Solidarity to the Library’s mailing list on June 5, 2020. It includes a link to a powerful Black Lives Matter reading list put together by the Library’s Info Services team, as well as a link to a list of local nonprofits doing grassroots racial justice work in our state.
Here in Special Collections, we’ve been engaging in deep thinking and extended discussions about our role in the movement for racial justice, especially given our profession’s historic location within systems of white supremacy and the overwhelming lack of diversity in our field. We certainly don’t have any answers, but we’re planning to share via social media some of our readings and the issues we’re grappling with over the coming weeks. We believe in dismantling the myth of archival neutrality and openly sharing our learning processes, and we welcome anyone who wants to engage with the issues alongside us.
While the Pathfoot Building is closed, the Art Collection will each week focus on some objects of interest. You can also search our entire collection online here.
Self Portrait I John Bellany (Watercolour 1981)
John Bellany has been described as Scotland’s greatest artist, and as, at once, a realist, expressionist and surrealist. His work was influenced by the Calvinistic coastal communities from which he came. The men in Bellany‘s family were fishermen and boat builders and many of his paintings feature portraits of the fishing community and are filled with allegory and symbolism. He painted prolifically and passionately throughout his life, at first only scraping a living, but later to international acclaim.
The above film was made at a happy time of Bellany’s life when he had remarried his beloved first wife and reached financial security, with a home in Italy. The sociable, friendly side of his nature and joy in life comes across clearly here.
When the self portrait was painted, however, in 1981, times were much harder. He was divorced from Helen (his first wife and mother of his three children) and had married Juliet Gray in 1979, but her struggles with mental illness coupled with his own with alcoholism meant that they lived the majority of their married life separated. This portrait, with its greys and yellows, with its reddened eyelids and listless stare, portrays the artist as gaunt and ill. He was only 39 but appears much older. The mood of quiet melancholy foreshadows Bellany’s brush with death later in the 1980s.
The two other works of Bellany’s in the Art Collection are completely different. A pair of works, both entitled ‘Woman of the North Sea’, were created in the mid 1990s. This motif is a familiar one, featuring often in his work of this period. One of these is a painting and the other an etching. Although the painted version also features yellow hues in the face, the effect is of sunshine and health, a complete contrast to the jaundiced self portrait. By this time the artist was reunited with Helen, he had had a successful life-saving liver transplant, and was enjoying major recognition. The tone is now playful and upbeat.
In this film made for Edinburgh Printmakers Studio in 2007 John Bellany talks about the beginnings of his interest in printing and the creative processes involved.
There are more films available on the official John Bellany website
The history of Florida State University and its predecessor institutions is ubiquitous with numerous and varied outlets for student expression. Student-run publications have been at the heart of student expression on campus since 1906, when Florida State College for Women students began Talisman. TheTalismanwas the first literary magazine published by an institution of higher learning in Florida (A Booklover’s Guide to Florida by Kevin McCarthy, 1992). In 1914, publishing of Talisman ceased publishing to make way for Florida Flambeau, a student-run newspaper published weekly. According to the first issue of the Flambeau, too much was happening on campus for news to only circulate on a quarterly basis, as it did with the Talisman.
In the early 20th century, literary magazines were influential across colleges and universities in the United States. They served as a means to not only showcase the literacy and expressiveness of students, but also to share news as to the happenings on campus. In 1926 work began on establishing a new college magazine for Florida State College for Women and the first issue was released towards the end of that year. In 1927 the magazine began being published under the name Distaff. By 1928, Distaff was being published four times a year.
The college magazine was published as Distaff until 1947, when students voted to change the name to Talaria. This name only lasted four years until 1951, when students once more opted for a name change. They held a contest and Smoke Signals won. Along with this name change, students demanded a change in the content of the magazine. Since the magazine’s founding it had focused on short stories, poetry, expression, and literacy. Students wanted a shift in content toward action and humor (Florida Flambeau, June 22, 1951).
In the 1970s, students clashed with university administration regarding censorship of Smoke Signals. They censored and prevented dissemination of several issues throughout the 1970s due to what they considered at the time “libelous” and “vulgar” materials. (Florida Flambeau, October 21, 1977)
Smoke Signals continued publishing until at least 1985, when they were still hiring writers for the magazine through the Florida Flambeau. (Florida Flambeau, Novemeber 25, 1985) The last issue of Smoke Signals in our holdings is from Winter of 1970.
Several issues of the Talaria and Smoke Signals are now available to be viewed on our digital library, DigiNole: FSU’s digital repository, and can be viewed here.
This article was written by Kacee Reguera, a student worker in Heritage & University Archives.
NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White in 1942.
(Photo by Gordon Parks/Library of Congress)
The recent unsuccessful effort to pass a national anti-lynching bill in the Senate is not new. In February 1938, a month-long Southern filibuster prevented the passage of the Wagner-Van Nuys-Gavagan Anti-Lynching Bill. The legislation was reluctantly shelved by its lead sponsors, Robert Wagner of New York and Indiana’s Frederick Van Nuys, to allow passage of a $250 million WPA budget appropriation. Two days before the Democratic Senators agreed to retreat, NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White was on WNYC advocating its passage:
Let us face the facts. What the present filibusterers are fighting for is the right to continue terrorization, not only for Negroes in the South but all of Americans everywhere; to keep them from working and organizing for better economic, educational, [and] political opportunity. It is a facile and fictitious argument to say there were only eight lynchings in 1937; in the mobs that lynched those eight were more than eight hundred persons —which means that eight hundred murderers are walking the streets of America, scot-free and completely immune from being arrested or questioned concerning their crimes.
White argued that this ‘mob rule’ was a threat to American democracy, and his ten pages of remarks were replete with horrific statistics and an overview of failed efforts to pass such legislation. (You can read Walter White’s complete broadcast statement at: WHITE).
According to a notation on the text of White’s broadcast speech, his opponent in this broadcast forum was a man named Frank Delany. However, I have not been able to find anything of what Frank Delany said in opposition to the anti-lynching bill. Or, for that matter, anything about Frank Delany.
WNYC program director Seymour N. Siegel had originally tried to get the white supremacist Senator from Misssissippi Theodore G. Bilbo to counter White; when Bilbo declined, Siegel lined up the notorious fascist Lawrence Dennis. The account is described in this NAACP memo from Roy Wilkins to Walter White.
Internal NAACP memo from Roy Wilkins to Walter White, February 9, 1938..
(NAACP Papers/Library of Congress Manuscript Division)
It’s not clear whether Walter White had rejected going on air with Lawrence Dennis or if Dennis pulled out and Frank Delany was brought in. Meanwhile, Senator Bilbo never came to the WNYC studio —but he did speak during the filibuster in all too familiar tropes:
If you succeed in the passage of this bill, you will open the floodgates of hell in the South. Raping, mobbing, lynching, race riots, and crime will be increased a thousandfold; and upon your garments and the garments of those who are responsible for the passage of the measure will be the blood of the raped and outraged daughters of Dixie, as well as the blood of the perpetrators of these crimes that the red-blooded Anglo-Saxon White Southern men will not tolerate.
It’s worth mentioning that as early as December, 1929 the NAACP’s Walter White was on WNYC for a Welfare Council panel titled ‘Investigating Lynching’. The NAACP also had a regular slot on WNYC between 1929 and 1930. See: NAACP.
Flag, announcing lynching, flown from the window of the NAACP headquarters on 69 Fifth Ave., New York City in 1936.
(NAACP Collection/Library of Congress)
On 14 July 1990, over 30,000 people gathered in Stirling to celebrate ‘A Day For Scotland’.
Held at Fallen Inch Field, this huge outdoor festival combined music, politics and family fun. Headliners such as Runrig, Hue & Cry and The Shamen were joined by folk luminaries such as Dick Gaughan and Hamish Henderson. A day of face-paint and sunshine included comedy acts, beer tents and theatre workshops, with a running theme of national pride.
Billed as ‘a Festival for Our Future’, this was a key event not only for Stirling, but in linking popular culture and politics in the campaign for a Scottish parliament. Organised by the Scottish Trades Union Congress and Stirling District Council, flyers promised ‘a positive celebration of Scottish life — which says we must decide our future — no-one else!’
The political overtones were unmissable, and raised a stir (not least with the local MP, Michael Forsyth, a Scottish Office minister in the Thatcher government). Controversy and all, the event was widely viewed as a major success, and paved the way for large pop concerts at Stirling Castle from the mid-1990s.
Please join us on 14th July 2020 at a free online event to commemorate ‘A Day for Scotland’ 30 years on. Speakers connected to the event — including punters and performers — will share their memories and reflections, and we’re very keen to hear from members of the public with stories, insights and images to share.
The Scottish Political Archive will both share some of our collections and capture some artefacts of the day. To book a place please visit our Eventbrite site.
As part of International Archives Week 2020, the International Council of Archives (ICA) has encouraged its members to consider what archives are and what they mean to researchers and society. Read on for my thoughts and a few sources on archival collections, institutions, and professionals, and what parts they play in empowering 21st century communities.
Archivists and researchers use the word archives in many different ways. At the most fundamental level, “archives” refers to the documents that archivists collect and preserve. To avoid confusion with other uses of “archives,” archivists often use terms like records, papers, series, or collection to talk about the materials in their care.
References to “an archives” are usually about an organization that collects, preserves, and provides access to such documents. Sometimes “archives” appears in the name of these units (like FSU Libraries Special Collections & Archives). Archivists use the terms archival repository or archival institution to mean the same thing. You will also hear archivists and researchers alike use “archives” to refer to a location owned and/or operated by an archival repository (“let’s go over to the archives”).
The term “archives” can encompass the entire professional field devoted to developing archivists and archival best practices. Like other professionals and academics, we form societies and conferences to exchange ideas and arrive at standards to govern our common responsibilities. Synonymous terms include archival science, archival studies, and my personal favorite (and probably most archaic), archivy. Scholars also use “the archive” to refer to higher, abstract concepts of collective cultural memory.
There is a persistent, somewhat outdated stereotype of archives as paper files. The file folder and flip-top document box have become synonymous with the archives profession and the unofficial symbols of archival collections and institutions. For a few hundred years of European-descended civilization, paper records were the norm, and modern archival practice evolved around them. Terms like “file” and “papers” are still used regularly by archivists to describe groups of documents, even if they’re not written or printed on paper. However, to characterize all archives as paper files is to ignore most of the history of human record-keeping. For thousands of years, humans recorded financial transactions and laws on clay tablets and papyrus scrolls. Throughout the twentieth century, organizational and personal archives increasingly included documentary forms such as photographs, sound recordings, motion pictures, and data, on substrates including paper, film, phonograph disc, magnetic tape, and computer diskette. In short, archival documents appear in every format that everyday documents have ever appeared.
Some formats have terrific advantages in preserving and providing access to them. When you store non-acidic paper flat in a cool, dry, dark place, it will last hundreds of years. The same is true of clay, parchment, vellum, and other substrates. Archivists call this approach benign neglect. Put it on a shelf, walk away, the document’s always there when you return. Some formats are less advantageous. Magnetic tape is becoming notorious for breaking down, and sound recordings, video, and data stored on it are in danger of eventually being lost. The same is true for different kinds of motion picture film, photo negatives, and the kind of cheap paper that makes up paperback novels, magazines, and newspapers. Avoiding this kind of “malevolent neglect” is a growing responsibility of modern archivists. Archivists take great pains to make new copies of old works on these substrates, to keep them accessible to you. A lot of these formats require technology to see and use – film projectors, VCRs, cassette decks, etc. Commercial obsolescence poses great challenges to access to a lot of twentieth century documents, and archivists must assemble a wide array of increasingly-historical devices or partner with those who do.
Digital files, increasingly a part of archival acquisitions, are a mixed blessing. Computer disks can fail over time; software becomes obsolete. But aside from that, digital documents shine when it comes to access. By their nature, they can easily be used and copied and shared with no risk to the original. Digital documents are so shareable that they’ve revolutionized how archival research services work. In fact, digitization of non-digital documents is now the preferred way to make copies for users, since the repository gets to keep a copy as well, and most 21st century users are looking to read and use documents digitally anyway.
Online access and digitization services make access possible in all kinds of exigent circumstances. As I write this in June 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has closed public buildings all over the world, including user spaces in many (if not all) archival repositories. But thanks to the amenities of digital documents, so many repositories are in effect “open” to users that ICA compiled a map of them.
Authority in a “Post-Truth” Culture
Archivists take great care to collect information about their documents. When you open a book from your local library or personal collection, the book gives you a lot of context about itself. It’s got a proper title, author credit, table of contents, preface by a celebrity du jour, all providing you important clues to the book’s content and placing it in a continuum of conversation about its topic. Many archival documents do not carry this kind of self-evidence, and it falls to archivists to aggregate and share it. We take great pride in devising useful descriptions of our documents, and especially in noting the provenance of our holdings; that is, knowing where documents have been before coming to the archives. If you know the content, creator, and subsequent owners of a document, you know quite a bit about its purpose and how it’s been used.
This kind of record-keeping makes archivists confident in speaking to the authenticity of these documents. For example, we can be confident that the Paul Dirac Papers are actually those of the renowned physicist, because we received them from Mrs. Dirac herself!
Archivists place a lot of value on accountability. When first working out how to preserve digital documents, the profession adopted the phrase “trusted digital repository” to describe institutions with good procedures. In a new century replete with “post-truth politics” and “alternative facts,” the work of archivists is designed to both encourage and withstand critical thinking and the scrutiny that comes with it.
The archivists of FSU and of the world remain committed to increasing access to our rare and unique holdings. Sometimes this is about leaps in tools and technical knowledge. Sometimes it’s about acknowledging existing shortcomings in our practice and culture that keep us from documenting and reaching out to new populations. However the times change, expect that archives will change with them.
Robert Rubero, Rory Grennan, Krystal Thomas, Sandra Varry. (2018). Challenges to Creating and Promoting a Diverse Record: Manuscripts and University Archives at Florida State Libraries. SFA Journal, 1(1). https://journals.flvc.org/sfaj/article/view/105356
On behalf of the other PIDB members, I want to thank you, the public, for participating in our virtual public meeting on Friday, June 5, 2020 via teleconference. Members would have preferred to host an in-person meeting that was more amenable for a conversation. However, we felt this was the best way to allow public participation while keeping us all safe. We had over 100 people register and dial in. An important part of our mission is outreach to all who have interest in improving the national security classification and declassification system.
We hope to continue this discussion online on our blog. Time ran out in the virtual meeting and there were still seven questions and comments in the queue. We will post all the questions and comments on this blog, beginning next week. To the degree we are able, we will also post responses.
If you were unable to submit a question or comment, or were unable to attend the virtual meeting, we invite you to continue submitting them by email to email@example.com. As was the case during the public meeting, all questions and comments will be posted anonymously.
Finally, I want to thank Judge James Baker and Trevor Morrison, the outgoing Board members who both served the Board as Chairperson, for their extraordinary service to the Board. Two former members, Adm. William Studeman and Laura DeBonis were also instrumental in drafting this report and co-led a technology working group that informed our recommendations. All four remain committed to transforming the classification and declassification system. They recognize its importance in aiding our national security and our democratic principles. We will continue to be inspired by their thoughtful insights, dedication to government service, and their collegiality.
This week’s #BeConnected Explore Our Campus looks at the artist Eduardo Paolozzi and the sculpture Forms on a Bow II which was added to the University’s collection in 1969.
Eduardo Paolozzi was a Scottish sculptor and artist. He is widely considered to be one of the pioneers of pop art. He was a collector of all manner of objects, which others might have viewed as ‘waste’, going on to incorporate them into his creations, which have been described as a homage to modern machines and technology. His studio where the majority of his artworks were developed was donated to the National Galleries of Scotland and is on permanent display in Modern Two. Installed in 1999 it provides an insight into the man and his inspiration.
Forms on a Bow II was created in 1949 whilst Paolozzi was living in Paris. During this time he was influenced by the early surrealist sculptures made by Paris-based Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti. Paolozzi always described his work as surrealist art and, while working in a wide range of media throughout his career, became more closely associated with sculpture which he believed should be inspired by popular and ethnic culture and by science.
In Forms on a Bow II ‘Paolozzi has explored Giacometti’s use of open or transparent structures, and of forms that evoke memories of organic and mechanical objects. The sharp protrusions of some of the elements strung between the two ends of the ‘bow’ suggest an interest in brutal instincts’. (Text taken from Tate website which describes the original Forms on a Bow which is very similar to this. Paolozzi made a preparatory sketch for the work, which is also in the collection of the Tate Gallery).
Forms on a Bow is on permanent display in Gallery One where it is passed by staff, students and visitors every day. This is very fitting for the work of an artist who felt that artworks should be democratic and who liked the idea of people passing his art every day on their way to work. He said that ‘”people should be able to tramp through a creation”.
Much of his artwork is in public places and this google map details the locations of 10 works of Paolozzi’s public art in the UK. Below is a short film detailing Paolozzi’s public art in London.
While the Pathfoot Building is closed, the Art Collection will each week focus on some objects of interest. You can also search our entire collection online here.
Friday 5th June is World Environment Day. This is the United Nations day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. So this week, our object(s) of the week are all abstract landscape artworks from the permanent collection, which were inspired by the environment and by the natural beauty of our surroundings.
Also today, as part of World Environment Day, the Art Collection will be highlighting works from our current series of exhibitions under the theme Under Threat: Artists Respond to the Environment. Each year, the Art Collection’s exhibitions, events and workshops are directly inspired by the research of the University. This year the focus is on the environment, and with the umbrella title ‘Under Threat’ we highlight a variety of pressing issues. Today, each hour from 9am until 5pm, we will be posting photographs and artworks on Twitter and Facebook from our Under Threat exhibitions. Click on this hashtag to see more #CultureonStirCampus
After seeing the work of the American abstract expressionists at the Venice Biennale in 1962, Alastair Michie was inspired to paint. A memorable evening spent in the company of Mark Rothko in London in the late 60s confirmed his belief in ‘the power of abstract art to touch the raw nerve of universal emotion’ (Peter Davies, Obituary in The Independent newspaper 5/5/08 ). Michie produced powerful abstract works influenced by the natural world. The above work was purchased by the Art Collection in 1967.
Duncan Shanks draws his subjects and inspiration from the countryside around his home. Strong colour and richly-applied paint chart the changing seasons and the forces imminent in nature. His works also examine the perennial tasks and practices of traditional rural life.
Well known for his bold and vibrant interpretations of the West Country landscape, David Imms takes his subject matter from those parts of the landscape which reflect literary and historical associations, such as the Dorset of Thomas Hardy, the Somerset of Coleridge and the Wiltshire of the prehistoric earthworks and stones. These are inspired by walking and drawing directly in all kinds of weather conditions, and are influenced particularly by the changing cycles of nature.
We hope you have enjoyed this brief tour of some of the abstract landscapes belonging to the University of Stirling Art Collection.
The Members are interested in hearing your comments and question and encourage you to add your voice. If you wish, you can ask that your question or comment remain anonymous. Please submit your questions or comments to the PIDB via their email address:
To facilitate discussion, you may comment or ask a question anonymously. If you would like to remain anonymous, please indicate that on your email and the staff moderator will not include it on the virtual call, or afterwards on this blog.
The PIDB staff will also monitor this email account during the meeting in case there are new questions or comments.
Following the conclusion of the meeting, the members hope to continue the conversation on their blog. Look for a follow up post next week!
The PIDB Members look forward to your participation tomorrow!
Special Collections & Archives staff condemn racism and systemic brutality in all its forms. We grieve the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbury, Tony McDade, and David McAtee, and other lost lives. We recognize their deaths as a part of our nation’s long history of marginalization, disenfranchisement, violence, and oppression.
As Special Collections & Archives, our goal is to connect students, faculty, researchers, and the community to primary resources. We support active learning, engagement, and critical thinking. We seek to provide the materials that illuminate contexts and history. We collect and preserve cultural memories, historical documents, and organizational records. We remain committed to our core professional values of social responsibility, diversity, accountability, responsible custody, and trust.
We must also recognize that the structures of archives and special collections are rooted in practices informed by white supremacy and racism. We have a continuing responsibility to face systemic and historic racism, to reflect on how our professional practices and standards are shaped by white, heterosexual dominance, and how those practices contribute to hiding and, often, damaging the lives of Black Americans, Indigenous peoples, People of Color, and LGBTQ people. We reaffirm our commitment to do the work needed to dismantle those structures and practices. We commit to listening, to learning, and to creating just and equitable practices.
We reaffirm our commitment to connect all people to historical materials and to support critical discussion and thinking. Justice often comes from the analysis and interrogation of the historical record. We commit to working with communities to ensure that diverse perspectives and histories are represented, preserved, and shared. We commit to the effort it takes to ensure that all people feel welcome.
We commit to diversity, inclusion, and equity in all aspects of our work. We understand that we must both confront racism and discrimination, implicit and explicit, head on and that that work is not only talking about slavery and violence. We recognize the power, resilience, innovations, and contributions of Black Americans, Indigenous peoples, People of Color, and LGBTQ people. We commit to sharing and preserving that history not as an afterthought but as core to the history of our university, our community, our nation, and our world.
FSU’s President, John Thrasher, expressed our belief that “[i]t is important during these tumultuous times that we reaffirm the values that we, as a university, hold most dear – respect, civility, and diversity and inclusion – as well as our commitment to justice and equality.” Our work to develop truly diverse and inclusive collections, practices, and spaces cannot be done in isolation. We welcome dialogue and invite community feedback. We can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Along with First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, Leon High School (LHS) was one of our first community partners and we learned a lot on this project (what to do and not do with future community partners). Overall though, it was a rewarding experience to work with this sort of non-traditional archive and also to work in the high school environment and interact with the students while in the Media Center at Leon High.
Leon High School in Tallahassee is Florida’s oldest continually accredited high school, founded in 1871 just twenty-six years after Florida became a state. We digitized all the yearbooks along with all the issues held in the Archives Room of the school newspaper, published since 1920. Last week, the Class of 2020 had a drive-through graduation celebration, a mark of these strange times for the latest LHS graduates. So, in celebration of this year’s class, I did a deep dive into the Leon High School newspaper’s Graduation Issues over the school’s history.
The first Senior Class was celebrated on the front page of the May 28, 1920 issue of The Hill Top, the original name for the LHS school newspaper:
In 1935, the newspaper, now renamed Leon High Life, printed out the “stats” for each graduating Senior and shared some fun stories about each Senior:
Eventually, the newspaper’s title changes again to just High Life and the features to celebrate the seniors became more and more involved until starting in the 1980s, there is a special Graduation Issue of High Life that is published in late May each year to celebrate the most recent Senior class. 1981 was one of the first years a special Graduation Issue was published:
As Leon High entered the 2000s, the newspaper shifted between entire issues and special inserts in a normal issue of the paper. For the Class of 2000, a special insert celebrated seniors with both a hopeful and somewhat ominous front page:
Sadly, Leon High Life has not published an article in its online portal since mid-March of this year when schools were closed due to the COVID-19 in Tallahassee. However, the Class of 2020 hopefully is celebrating digitally through their preferred digital platforms and we here in FSU’s Special Collections & Archives wish this class in all local high schools the very best in their next adventure!
We believe there is a critical need to modernize this system to move from the analog to the digital age by deploying advanced technology and by upgrading outdated paper-based policies and practices.
The report first urges that the President designate a cabinet-level Executive Agent (EA) to oversee modernization. We believe this designation will facilitate the policy changes and their implementation. The EA would be responsible for orchestrating interagency coordination and overseeing implementation, including the application of technologies that allow for more effective and efficient classification and declassification.
The PIDB’s Vision of how a future modernized classification and declassification system would work:
Through a “federated enterprise-level, systems-of-systems approach to declassification,” and by
Replacing antiquated but still widely-used paper-based processes with “cutting-edge Information Technology, telecommunications innovation, and systems development.”
In recommending the designation of an EA and an Executive Committee with appropriate authorities to transform the security classification system, the PIDB developed critical strategic policy changes required for implementing its Vision:
Organize the national security declassification community into a National Declassification System (NDS), operating as “a system-of-systems enterprise to streamline and modernize classification and declassification policies, processes, and technologies;” and
Grant oversight responsibility to the National Declassification Center (NDC) for implementing the NDS system-of-systems approach by working with the Executive Committee and original classification authorities.
Our report emphasizes the critical need for the acquisition and deployment of advanced technologies in classification and declassification processes. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Cloud storage offer effective solutions that will support the rapid growth in digital information. The PIDB Vision stresses the importance of the EA, the NDC, and agencies working with the private sector, highlighting the importance of research and development efforts to aid successful deployment and implementation.
In addition to strategic changes, our report also recommends near-term improvements that could have an immediate impact on reforming and improving the classification and declassification system. These recommendations include:
Directing the Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Secretary of Energy to develop a unified or joint plan to assist the Archivist of the United States in modernizing the systems in use across agencies for the management of classified records, including electronic records;
Deploying technology to support classification and declassification automation;
Implementing secure information technology connectivity between and among all agencies managing classified information, specifically including the National Archives, which manages the NDC and classified records of the Presidential Libraries;
Empowering the NDC to design and implement a process to solicit, evaluate, prioritize and sponsor topics for declassification Government-wide, in consultation with the public and Government agencies;
Developing a new model for accurately measuring national security classification activities across Government, including all costs associated with classification and declassification; and
Simplifying and streamlining the classification system and deciding how to adopt a two-tiered classification system.
For the full report, along with our previous reports to the President, is available on our website.
We invite you to attend a virtual public meeting this Friday, June 5, at 11:00 a.m. You may register to attend here. After registering, participants will receive instructions via email on how to dial into the meeting by telephone and how to submit questions and comments.
Modernizing how the Government manages its secrets is a national security imperative. The current system, designed 70-years ago to keep papers secret under lock and key, cannot keep pace and manage the volume of digital data and information that the Government creates on classified systems. It is also ill-suited for today’s many asymmetrical threats. Current declassification processes are manual and paper-based. They will not work on large volumes of digital information. Without radical policy changes and the adoption of advanced technology, the declassification system is poised to fail.
When we began work on this project almost four years ago, there was widespread agreement inside and outside Government that the current system was too old, did not fully support national security operations, cost too much, and does not function effectively in the digital environment. Despite agreement that change is necessary, the Government has not taken any concrete actions to modernize the system. Even as the Government is adopting new policies to facilitate the use of technology and then applying advanced technologies in other business areas, it has not invested in or planned for a new classification and declassification system.
The recommendations in our report are designed to serve as a blueprint on how to modernize the classification and declassification system. We included two overarching themes, each with recommendations on how to modernize this system: strategic policy changes and strategic technology changes. We also included near-term recommendations that could have an immediate impact. All our recommendations support a necessary paradigm shift to move from manual policies and processes to digital ones that fully support 21st century national security threats and missions.
We invite you to attend a virtual public meeting this Friday, June 5, at 11:00 a.m. You can register to attend here. After registering, participants will receive instructions via email on how to call in to the meeting by telephone and how to submit questions and comments.