Olga Koussevitzky and the Women of the BSO

With the appointment of Doriot Anthony Dwyer as principal flutist in 1952, the Boston Symphony Orchestra began its tenure as a progressive model for the incorporation and advancement of professional female musicians.  Dwyer’s designation as first chair marked the true beginning of gender integration for the Symphony.  Later that same year, the BSO became the first American orchestra to utilize blind auditions as part of its selection process, and the number of women chosen for permanent positions began to grow.

In this January 1973 episode of WQXR’s The Listening Room, host Robert Sherman sits down with Olga Koussevitzky, wife of the late BSO conductor Serge Koussevitzky, and three Boston Symphony Orchestra members, Marylou Speaker, Darlene Gray, and Virginia Eskin, to discuss the progress made since Dwyer’s debut, as well as the obstacles that remain.  Ms. Speaker’s piano accompanist, Elizabeth Wright, joins the conversation and sums up the newest wave of issues facing professional female musicians:

“I feel that many people, not many, but some people look, if they see… women on the stage, they feel that the recital can’t possibly be as good—it’s going to be inferior—and so you have to, again, work twice as hard to convince them.”

The guests treat listeners to in-studio performances, recount their professional experiences—from remembering to take off their noisy high heels before a blind audition, to pushing back against the normalized assumption that men need paying jobs more than women—and offer up insightful perspectives on both the discrimination they encounter and their determination to persevere.

In the decades following this broadcast, the gender gap within American orchestras has been significantly reduced, thanks to revised institutional practices and the tenacity of female musicians like Speaker, Gray, Eskin, and Wright.  However, challenges to parity between men and women in the field of professional musicianship are ever-present.  Unsurprisingly, the women of the Boston Symphony Orchestra have, once again, emerged as leaders in confronting contemporary issues such as section integration and equal pay.  Robert Sherman’s closing remarks from this 1973 episode continue to echo through the efforts of the current generation of female BSO members: “We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way yet to go.”

Olga Koussevitzky and the Women of the BSO

With the appointment of Doriot Anthony Dwyer as principal flutist in 1952, the Boston Symphony Orchestra began its tenure as a progressive model for the incorporation and advancement of professional female musicians.  Dwyer’s designation as first chair marked the true beginning of gender integration for the Symphony.  Later that same year, the BSO became the first American orchestra to utilize blind auditions as part of its selection process, and the number of women chosen for permanent positions began to grow.

In this January 1973 episode of WQXR’s The Listening Room, host Robert Sherman sits down with Olga Koussevitzky, wife of the late BSO conductor Serge Koussevitzky, and three Boston Symphony Orchestra members, Marylou Speaker, Darlene Gray, and Virginia Eskin, to discuss the progress made since Dwyer’s debut, as well as the obstacles that remain.  Ms. Speaker’s piano accompanist, Elizabeth Wright, joins the conversation and sums up the newest wave of issues facing professional female musicians:

“I feel that many people, not many, but some people look, if they see… women on the stage, they feel that the recital can’t possibly be as good—it’s going to be inferior—and so you have to, again, work twice as hard to convince them.”

The guests treat listeners to in-studio performances, recount their professional experiences—from remembering to take off their noisy high heels before a blind audition, to pushing back against the normalized assumption that men need paying jobs more than women—and offer up insightful perspectives on both the discrimination they encounter and their determination to persevere.

In the decades following this broadcast, the gender gap within American orchestras has been significantly reduced, thanks to revised institutional practices and the tenacity of female musicians like Speaker, Gray, Eskin, and Wright.  However, challenges to parity between men and women in the field of professional musicianship are ever-present.  Unsurprisingly, the women of the Boston Symphony Orchestra have, once again, emerged as leaders in confronting contemporary issues such as section integration and equal pay.  Robert Sherman’s closing remarks from this 1973 episode continue to echo through the efforts of the current generation of female BSO members: “We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way yet to go.”


WNYC archives id: 80101

Amelia Earhart Welcomed at City Hall

Commemorative stamp issued in 1963.
U.S. Post Office Dept.

In May 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to pilot a nonstop solo transatlantic flight. Returning to New York on June 20th, she was roundly hailed at a succession of events around the city. Among the stops, of course, was City Hall. It was her second trip to the famous seat of municipal government. The first was in 1928 when she when she flew across the Atlantic as a passenger aboard the Friendship as the first woman passenger to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a plane. The craft, piloted by Wilmer “Bill” Stultz and Luis “Slim” Gordon, landed in South Wales.

This time, she flew solo to Europe facing the darkness and storms alone from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland in her single engine Lockheed. The day-long tributes to her feat began in New York harbor aboard the Macom, the city’s yacht for welcoming visiting dignitaries, and then proceeded to an open touring car in the Battery for a massive ticker-tape parade up Broadway.

Disembarking at City Hall before a crowd of some 5,000 well-wishers, Earhart joined Mayor Walker, Charles L. Lawrence of the Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce, and other officials on the steps of City Hall. There, WNYC’s Tommy Cowan (lower right of top photo) manned the public address system. Before a battery of microphones, Mayor Walker welcomed the aviatrix to the city.  In a somewhat tortured attempt at wit Walker spoke of the “aeronautical We” which, because of Earhart’s recent achievement, now included women. He was referring to Charles Lindbergh‘s book “We” (meaning Lindbergh and his plane) and the story of his solo flight to Europe five years earlier. The Mayor then pinned a gold medal to the lapel of Earhart’s coat, an honor that the City reserves for distinguished visitors. The modest pilot thanked the Mayor and said her trip was “just a personal gesture.” 

Thousands gathered at City Hall June 20, 1932 to see Amelia Earhart after her historic solo flight. In center are official cars entering City Hall Plaza where she was welcomed by Mayor Walker.
(AP Photo)


A riddle, wrapped in an enigma…

As I reprocess our Buildings and Grounds Collection, I occasionally find mislabeled images, like a photo of Williston Hall labeled Appleton Hall. Sometimes there are items with an incorrect description, like a set of postcards in a folder titled “Photographs”.

But sometimes I find things that are just unidentifiable. This item was in a folder of photographs!

I’m not sure exactly what this object is. My first guess was a tobacco cloth of some sort, designed to be rolled up. It might have been made from poorly-tanned leather that stiffened over time.

The back side has a cord to tie it closed, but it’s not strong. The cord is thin, with a gold-colored metallic finish, similar to the elastic cord found around a gift box. This suggests that the cord was decorative.

My current guess is that this was a cover for a small booklet, like a banquet menu or an event program. The three fragments fit together somewhat like a dust jacket for a standard book. In addition, there are discoloration marks that match across all three pieces, which helped to align them.

This looks familiar…

  • A sketch of College Hall with three front doors, and an octagonal cupola topped by a weather vane. Along the walkway, young trees stand amid the lawn.
  • A sketch of College Hall without front columns, showing trees and front walkway.

I recognized the image as one I’d seen before, and checked the usual suspects for published building pictures: Stanley King’s Consecrated Eminence (1951), Claude M. Fuess’s Amherst: The Story of A New England College (1935), and William S. Tyler’s two editions of A History of Amherst College (1873, 1895).

I found the image in Tyler’s second edition, A history of Amherst College during the administrations of its first five presidents : from 1821 to 1891.

Mystery numbers

Looking more closely at the copied image, I noticed something (else) odd. In the published image, the panels above the three doorways are blank. But in the purple printed copy, something was written on those panels!

Image of College Hall. Each door has a number above it (from left to right) 10, 32, and 3. Each door has a number above it, from left to right, 10, 32, and 3.
A printed drawing of College Hall, with unexplained numbers added to the panels above each door
The numbers 10, 32, and 3 are outlined in black for sighted readers.
The added numbers–10, 32, and 3–are outlined in black.

I read these as the numbers 10, 32, and 3. If you see something different, leave a comment! As to what they mean? Your guess is literally as good as mine. A team season record? A date with unusual formatting?

What else do we know?

  • This object probably dates between 1895 and 1905.
    • We know the earliest possible date because of its publication in Tyler’s history (1895).
    • We know the latest likely date because in 1905, College Hall was renovated and a new front portico with columns was added. Though it’s possible that the older image was reused after 1905, I don’t think it’s very likely. The added portico, as seen in the photograph below, dramatically changed the look of the building.
A portico with 6 columns graces the front of College Hall. The front of the building is shaded by several large trees in leaf.
College Hall with its new portico. Photograph by Edgar T. Scott, circa 1913.

Do you know what this mystery object is?

Or maybe what those numbers refer to?

Post a comment or send us a note if you know anything about this object or something like it. We’d love to know more.

Be Rootin’, Be Tootin’, Be Readin’: A Look Into Cowboys Across Special Collections

The Wild West has been a source for literary inspiration as long as people have lived and settled there. Special Collections and Archives hosts a variety of Wild West stories across popular mediums, including dime novels and small books.

First published in 1860, dime novels became a popular source of media for young audiences and adults alike (Cassidy, 2011). Dime novels provided cheap entertainment and were popular among Civil War soldiers as well as children, although there was quickly a rising moral panic about the contents of these inexpensive texts corrupting America’s youth. Filled with tales of cowboys, Native Americans, gold, and adventure, the dime novels were exciting and sometimes scandalous material churned out at an impressive rate. Margaret Cassidy cites an 1896 copycat train robbery by young men with a collection of “blood and thunder” dime novels stashed away in their den in her speech “Pernicious Stuff”. This robbery and other crimes like it pulled the same moral panic that video games inspired nearly a century later, as violent and dangerous media that confuses their parents and corrupts the youth.

Dime novels were often set in the heyday of Manifest Destiny, as the American government pushed settlements west, spearheaded by cavalry, wagon trains, and cowboys. Antagonists were created from individuals who stood as barriers this aim: train robbers, Native Americans. In this manner, dime novels seem to follow the narrow point of view of white men, however women are occasionally given the spotlight, as in “Fred Fearnot and the Ranch Girl Owner; And How She Held Her Own.” by Hal Standish, published in 1918.

Perusing these dime novels also allows readers to view ads and propaganda statements that reflected their times, including wartime rationing during World War I, as well as advertisements for other dime novels, as included in these 1918 dime novel advertisements. (For more information on the Dime Novels Collection, click this link.)

The Western remained to be a popular setting for stories for decades to come. The Robert M. Ervin Jr. Collection contains a wide variety of comic books, serials, and monograph that covers a multitude of genres including science fiction, fantasy, and Westerns. The Ervin Collection contains multiple Better Little Books, petite texts containing stories and illustrations involving popular characters, such as the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, and Gene Aughtry. These tiny tomes cost about fifteen cents and were popular with young readers.

“Pernicious Stuff” Nineteenth Century Media, the Children Who Loved Them, and the Adults Who Worried about Them. (2011). ETC: A Review of General Semantics68(3), 304–315. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hus&AN=64432725&site=eds-live&scope=site

Finding aid: https://archives.lib.fsu.edu/repositories/10/resources/1169

Moving Our Special Collections

We’ve been in FULL SWING with the first phase of moving our collections into their new, climate-controlled stacks. It’s involved copious sweat, a few tears, and minimal blood, but our art and architecture folios are now on designated shelving, and our Rhode Island collections are settling into their new homes.

book moving

We couldn’t have done it without tireless and meticulous help from a fantastic team from William B. Meyer. Phase two of our moving will begin in a couple of weeks – stay tuned for updates!

book moving 2

New materials available in DigiNole highlight Integration statue.

FSU alumni Doby Flowers holds up a bronze rose presented to her by sculptor W. Stanley “Sandy” Proctor (left). In the background is the integration statue and Tallahassee Mayor John Marks III. [Original Object]

A new set of photographs are now available in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository. The photographs were taken from events at Heritage Day 2004, during which a statue celebrating integration was unveiled on campus. The digitized materials also include a program and newspaper clippings.

Notable people depicted in the photographs include Doby Flowers, FSU’s first African American homecoming princess, and her brother Fred Flowers, the first black athlete to wear an FSU uniform. Other alumni from the first decade of integrated classes (1962-1982) were also in attendance, as were several FSU presidents and former Tallahassee Mayor John Marks III.

You can explore all these materials in the University Records of the Office of the Associate Vice President of University Relations.

Bernie Sanders Addresses the Socialist Party USA in 1983

I don’t remember recording this speech. But there is the cassette, with my handwriting on it from some 36 years ago. It was a New York City conference of the Socialist Party USA on September 3, 1983.

WNYC Reporter Andrea Bernstein posted a segment and synopsis of the speech three years ago on this site, which you can revisit here: SANDERS. 

I thought, however, that it would be useful, now that he is again running for the Democratic nomination for the presidency, to post the entire audio recording so that listeners may appreciate the full context, nuance, and texture of his delivery at that gathering. 

Intersession Intermission

As we gear up for Fall semester, Special Collections & Archives will be taking some time to complete projects and prepare for the coming school year. This includes the Special Collections Reading Center in Strozier Library, the Pepper Library Reading Room, and the Heritage Museum. However, we will still be available to researchers! We will be by appointment only August 5th through August 15th.

Available appointment times are from 10-12pm and from 1-4pm, Monday through Friday. To complete an Appointment Request form, please click here. In order to ensure that we can fulfill your request, please request appointments at least 24 hours in advance, and keep in mind that you must request your desired materials ahead of time as well.

Finally, please note that Special Collections & Archives will be completely closed Friday, August 16, 2019 for a division retreat. This closure will include the Pepper Library and Heritage Museum spaces.

Registration at FSU, 1958 [Original Object]

Impressive Fabrics: The Ina VanStan Printing Plates

Professor Ina VanStan examining Peruvian fabrics. (FSU Historic Photographs Collection)

Ina VanStan (1901-1989) was a Professor of Clothing and Textiles at Florida State University. Her studies focused on a variety of fabrics pre-Colombian Peru, as well as other cultural artifacts from that time.

An enhanced, flipped image of Plate 3 (Peruvian Domestic Fabrics)
01-MSS 0-333, VanStan Plates, Box 1, Item 4

The Ina VanStan Printing Plates contain twenty-three printing plates of various sizes depicting fabric patterns from Van Stan’s studies of Peruvian fabrics. The printing plates were used for producing images for VanStan’s scholarly publications. The collection’s finding aid offer’s access to VanStan’s relevant publications on artifacts such as dolls, fabric fragments, and feather ornaments; it provides a springboard for those interested in further study of ancient Peruvian culture.

Photo of a Feather Fan from the
Ina VanStan Printing Plates
01-MSS 0-333 Box 1, Folder 1

Those interested in related materials to VanStan’s studies can find images of artifacts in the Carter Collection in FSU’s Museum of Fine Arts (MoFA).

Investigative Satirist Paul Krassner Interviewed by Steve Post

Satirist Paul Krassner passed away this past Sunday. In 2004 WNYC host Steve Post spoke with Krassner, whom he described as “a kind of counter-cultural renaissance man.” Writer, publisher editor, activist, psychedelic explorer, and concert violinist, Krassner considered himself an investigative satirist. People magazine called him the father of the underground press, while the FBI deemed him “a raving, unconfined nut.”  This program was first broadcast on June 5, 2004 as a No Show special. 

Note: Due to licensing considerations, we had to remove the commercial music used in this program. The interview, however, is faithful to the original broadcast.

New Digital Exhibit on Integration at FSU

Integration Statue
Integration Statue

A new digital exhibit is now available, featuring information and documents that expand on the items currently on display in at the Heritage Museum in Dodd Hall. The exhibit is titled A University in Transition: The Long Path to Integration and focuses on the role of institutional racism in delaying state university integration. It also highlights acts of resistance by students, such as John Boardman, who was expelled for his active involvement with the black Inter-Civic council during and after the Tallahassee Bus Boycott.

Picture of Bob Leach, Vice President for Student Affairs (1978-1988)
Bobby E. Leach, Vice President for Student Affairs (1978-1988)

African American students, faculty, staff, and alumni also tell their story during the 40th anniversary of integration, for which a statue was commissioned featuring the first black graduate, athlete, and homecoming queen. The exhibit concludes with a spotlight on FSU’s first black administrator, Dr. Bob E. Leach, whose speeches inspired students for over a decade (1978-1988) and who served as a model of leadership for the university.

The exhibit also aligns with the goals of FSU’s recently established Civil Rights Institute. The interdisciplinary institute will sponsor events, speakers, publications, education, and research on civil rights and social justice. Its collections will be housed in Strozier Library and include historical African American newspapers, the Tallahassee Civil Rights Oral History collection, microfilm editions of NAACP and ACLU organizational records and the Emmett Till archives.

For more information, check out the library’s Civil Rights LibGuide.

The digital exhibit is available here: https://universityintransition.omeka.net/exhibits/show/a-university-in-transition/introduction

Vancouver Pride and the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives photo identification project

Pride season is in
full swing in the city, including here at the City of Vancouver Archives! As a
community partner for this year’s Pride, we have had an exciting month of
sharing our LGBTQ2+ holdings at events and through new initiatives. 

First, thanks to support from the Vancouver Pride Society, we had a booth at East Side Pride on June 22nd. There, we shared just some of the 5,400 digitized photographs in the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives (BCGLA) collection, as well as information on our other LGBTQ2+ holdings. We loved meeting and hearing stories from the many community members who visited us!

Group gathered around East Side Pride Booth on June 22. Photo by Heather Gordon

We were also thrilled with the initial results of our photo identification initiative, which we launched at East Side Pride. The identification of people in photographs is an important part of completing the historical record, and has been the focus of many archives projects. Library and Archives Canada’s Project Naming, for instance, has had immense success since the early 2000s in identifying Indigenous people in archival photographs. Here at the City of Vancouver Archives, we’re reaching out to members of the LGBTQ2+ community for help in identifying people in the BCGLA collection. Of the more than 5,400 images that have been digitized, over 1,000 depict people who are currently unidentified. Identifying them will help to strengthen the collection, deepen knowledge and understanding of LGBTQ2+ history in this province, and ensure that community members’ voices and stories are heard and preserved for the future.

Intern Laura and booth visitor identifying people in a photo from International Lesbian Week, 1987. Photo by Heather Gordon

At East Side Pride,
we started this photo identification project on a small scale, with binders of
photographs. As they flipped through the images, community members at the booth
recognized themselves and their friends, and one person even found a photo that
they had taken in the 1990s! By the end of the day, we had learned about eighty
people depicted in our selection of photographs. 

We would also like to thank everyone who came out to East Side Pride and visited our booth. We’re so grateful to all those who shared their stories, looked at our photographs on display, and helped with identification. Your contributions will help us ensure that LGBTQ2+ histories are properly represented within the collection.

Individuals looking through binders at East Side Pride and identifying people in the photos. Photo by Heather Gordon

We will be attending more Pride-related events this summer, including the Vancouver Pride Week Launch and Flag Raising Event at City Hall on July 29th and the Sunset Beach Festival on August 4th. Due to the success of the identification project at East Side Pride, we will have even more photographs to share at these events! Stop by our booth to look at images of past protests, celebrations, community events, social gatherings, parades, and more – and to let us know if you recognize anyone in these photos. We look forward to meeting you there. 

East Side Pride booth interior. Photo by Heather Gordon

If you can’t make it to the Pride events, there are other ways to access our holdings.  For example, over 5,400 images from the BCGLA collection are now available online. All of these can be accessed through our online database at any time. Check out our last blog post for more information on the photograph series and its contents. You can also visit us in person at the Archives. Find our address and hours on the City of Vancouver website.

Portrait of two unidentified men (199-). Reference code: AM1675-S4-F11-: 2018-020.2832-: 2018-020.2832.3

The Lesbian and Gay Choir of Vancouver (Sept. 24, 1990). Reference code: AM1675-S4-F06-: 2018-020.2276

As part of our photo identification project, we are currently in the process of implementing an online mechanism for comments. This will allow LGBTQ2+ community members to share their knowledge about materials from our online database. As we wait for the introduction of this tool, you can view the photographs online, and if you see anyone you know or have any comments, make a note of any names, dates, or locations you recognize and send us an email at archives@vancouver.ca

Portrait of two unidentified people (198-). Reference code: AM1675-S4-F15-: 2018-020.3674

Three unidentified women (198-). Reference code: AM1675-S4-F12-: 2018-020.2900

Stay tuned on our Twitter for any updates regarding the BCGLA and our involvement with Pride. Or, send us an email to sign up for our BCGLA photo identification email list and get additional information regarding upcoming events and the future of this project.

An Intern’s Reflections

The curtains are about to fall on my time here in the Special Collections department of Randall Library at UNCW. It feels like it wasn’t that long ago that I sent the email to Miss. Rebecca that asked if I could do an internship here for the summer. That was the email that would officially begin my road towards achieving my dream of becoming an archivist. I have spent almost two months in this department honing my budding skills and gathering the professional experience that I was sorely lacking. To reach the next level from part-time grocery clerk and graduate student to the Archival version of the Jedi Padawan. Those two months have been one of the greatest experiences in my entire graduate career. 

I was like the excited, energetic little kid that was walking through an amusement park. From the first collection I processed to the last, I was journeying through and learning about a multitude of different subjects and topics that range from the theatre to environmentalism to World War II and more. You get to learn a universal amount of topics, which is one of my favorite things about the archival field. It is one of the things that attracts me to the career. From different topics to careers/fields to an individual’s personal story, I could practically learn about a host of things that come together to create our world. A world that I could access at any time either from the comfort of my office desk or taking a short stroll to the archival storage area to pull out a collection box. Overall, becoming a resident of a realm where having a detail-oriented mindset, the endless thirst for knowledge, and an unwavering passion for a field that you worked so hard to be a part of is a goal that I am now more determined than ever to see come to fruition.

With these qualities that will help mold me into the archivist that I want to be, I processed three collections in total with a “go get them, wake up, get up, get out there” attitude. The very first collection that I got to work with and process was the Steve E. Cooper Collection, who is a resident playwright who mainly wrote scripts that focus on LGBT rights. This collection was made up of ten scripts in total, which includes the Lambda Series, Aladdin, Think of Me in January, etc. It was both a fun and exciting first collection to ease me into the world of archiving. 

The second collection that I got to process was a bit of a doozy, which put my attention-to-detail mindset to the test. It was the Lena Ritter Papers. She was an environmental activist who relentlessly worked hard to protect the coast of North Carolina, including Stump Sound and Permuda Island. I was meticulous in making sure that all of those newspaper clippings, letters, copies, etc. were where they were supposed to be. I’ll admit, there were times where I was becoming a bit paranoid in making sure that this collection was not only chronologically arranged, but also in making sure that it was virtually clean of rusty staples and paper clippings. I can definitely say with confidence that this is the collection that I learned the most about archival work from. 

Finally, the last collection that I processed was probably my favorite collection out of the three that I got to work with. It was the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company Collection, which is a collection that tells the story of a Wilmington shipyard that was built for the purpose of building naval war ships for World War II. Not only did it include a historical document that was written up in 1945, a map, and two printing plates, but it also includes a variety of photographs that are of the shipyard, as well. Among these photographs were photos of the different ships that the NCSC built, which includes the Zebulon B. Vance. This ship was not only the first ship to be launched from the shipyard, but was also christened by Alice Broughton, who was the wife of North Carolina Governor, Joseph Melville Broughton. I also got to put the skills to use I learned from obtaining my history degree by conducting a lot of research for the historical background notes for this collection, which was a lot of fun. It was like doing journalism work to uncover the truth.  The truth can’t hide for long when this future archivist is on the case!

All three of these collections come together to create that coveted professional experience that I have so desperately been looking for. An experience that has both enhanced and given skills that will prove to be valuable allies in my quest to acquire the Holy Grail that is an archiving career. Of these skills, the ones that I am the most happy to learn are the ability to work with different archival technologies and the ability to familiarize myself with different arrangements that are used to organize collections physically and logically. For the latter, what I mean by that is that there is a big difference between arranging collections physically for storage and arranging them in a digital setting that allows researchers to specifically find what they are looking for. I learned this from processing the Ritter Collection. I was struggling to grasp this at first, but after I took my time and exercised patience, I eventually understood this skill.

That was one of the challenges that I faced in this internship. Like everything else in life, there is no such thing as a completely smooth road. You will encounter a few speed bumps or potholes along the way, which is what I did. The biggest challenges that faced me in this internship were maintaining a “patience is a virtue” attitude and swallowing my pride to ask for assistance for what I perceived to be issues that I felt I should have been able to resolve myself. I have a perfectionist mindset, which means that everything I do in a job has to be absolutely perfect. There can be no room for mistakes. If I make even one slip up, no matter how big or small that slip up may be, then I criticize myself. To say that I have high expectations of myself would be an understatement.

The way I handled it is that I keep remembering the fact that I am only human. I am supposed to make mistakes, which help me become a better archivist. There are going to be instances where I am not going to know how to resolve every issue. There is no such thing as an individual who virtually knows everything. Therefore, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. When you ask somebody for help, you are also helping the researcher who is looking for information, as well. It hurts the researcher when you do not ask for assistance from your fellow archivists. Overall, I took it slow and got in the mindset to ask for help when I needed, which was how I overcame the challenges that came up during the internship.

These challenges did not put a damper on my perception of both this internship and libraries as a whole. Before I even began this internship, my initial perception was that the library is an information powerhouse that allows researchers to not only look for information in peace, but also to meet up with their fellow colleagues to exchange ideas. This internship not only bolstered that perception, but it has also changed it a little bit, as well. Now I perceive libraries as a community center where not only different departments can come together to exchange ideas, but also the entire town as a whole. There are almost no rooms in a library that are isolated in a back corner and hidden from the public. There were a couple of instances where I witnessed a few guests visit the Special Collections department to look through the vast treasure of collections that the department has. That further proves that both the Special Collections department and the library as a whole aim to continue fostering a strong relationship with the community that they reside in. It has made me want to be a part of that effort

Ultimately, I had a wonderful and enrichening experience here in the Special Collections department. I was finally able to put the knowledge that I have been gaining from my master’s program to practical use, which is one of the things that I am most happy about. I was able to create and build connections here that will last long after I leave. This will be an experience that will be a great resource for me to glean from as I eventually begin an archiving career of my own. It will also be an experience that I will never forget. I would like to thank both Miss. Rebecca Baugnon and Miss. Nicole Yatsonsky for taking me on as an intern in Special Collections. I also would like to thank everybody on campus, as well as the community of Wilmington, for showing me that awesome Seahawk hospitality. Thank you everybody and enjoy the rest of not just this summer, but the rest of the year, as well.

Blog Category: 

Apollo 11: One Giant Leap for Mankind

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to land a man on the Moon before the end of the decade, striking a responsive chord with the American people. The Apollo program was created to meet this goal, and on July 20, 1969, astronauts of the Apollo 11 Mission became the first humans to land and set foot on the Moon. 

Apollo 11 Mission image – Astronaut Edwin Aldrin walks near the Lunar Module. National Archives Identifier 16685140

The Moon landing was a stunning achievement that commanded world attention, and thanks to newly discovered film holdings at the National Archives and a digitization partnership with filmmakers, an enriched perspective of the Apollo 11 mission is shown in the recently released documentary, Apollo 11.

The documentary features previously unseen large format film footage and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings from the National Archives, allowing viewers to experience the perspectives of the astronauts, the Mission Control team, and the millions of spectators on the ground. The film showcases the days and hours in 1969 when American astronauts took “a giant leap for mankind” into the future.

National Archives staff in the Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch and the Motion Picture Preservation Lab, as well as staff in various other offices across the agency, were critical in enabling the access and digitization of these holdings. 

As part of our recent Archivist’s Achievement Awards ceremony, Todd Douglas Miller, director of the Apollo 11 documentary film, offered his thanks to National Archives staff for making this film possible:

My kudos extend to Dan Rooney, Chief of the Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch, and our teams at the National Archives for locating, identifying, and sharing this astounding footage. Their contributions to the Apollo 11 documentary underscore the importance of our mission. By preserving and making accessible these film reels, they have given the world an unprecedented and breathtaking glimpse of this historic milestone.

Learn more about the newly uncovered Apollo 11 holdings at the National Archives and how the partnership project enabled the digitization, preservation, and access of the records in this video:

Celebrating the Start of Summer

We recently completed digitization of the newspaper from Leon High School here in Tallahassee. Started in the 1920s, the paper has gone through several name changes to end up at Leon High Life today. Our recent additions to the newspaper started in 1988 and bring us up to the end of Spring 2019. To write this update, I took a look at the newspapers published just at the end of the school year.

As a school publication, there are few to no issues published beyond the beginning of June. These papers are the last hurrah for the seniors, celebrating the next steps for those leaving, looking back at the year of academics and athletics.

2001-2002 Sports Year in Review spread [original item]

They also used these issues to talk about what they’d loved and hated that year, making these issues time capsules to what the kids thought was cool at the time.

Spread from the May 31, 1988 High Life Graduation Issue [original item]

But they were also looking forward to their summer and looking at what would be on deck to go see, hear, and do for their last few months of freedom if they were Seniors or just looking forward to the break if there was more high school ahead of them.

What students were looking forward to in the summer of 1992 [original item]

You can explore the entire run of the Leon High Newspaper for a unique look at life in Tallahassee from a high schooler’s perspective from the 1920s up to 2019.

One Giant Leap: Remembering the Apollo 11 Mission 50 years later

The Apollo 11 mission, commissioned by President Kennedy in 1961, sought to “perform a crewed lunar landing and return to earth” (nasa.gov). It was the first mission of its kind and dramatically changed the landscape of the Space Race in the 1960s and 1970s. The Space Race was an ongoing contest between the United States and the Soviet Union, where each country sought to outshine the other. With the Apollo 11 mission, however, the Space Race reached its apex, for on July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 crew landed on the moon and planted the United States Flag on the lunar surface. 

AS 11 Neil Armstrong
Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, inside the Lunar Module (LM) while the LM rested on the lunar surface. Photo comes from the Spessard Holland Papers, MSS 1976-005.

To commemorate and memorialize this momentous occasion, the Claude Pepper Library will be hosting an exhibit on the Apollo 11 mission from July 16 to December 16, 2019. We will have on display numerous photographs, correspondence, and other materials related to the mission including a large photograph of Astronaut Buzz Aldrin standing next to the American flag planted on the moon’s surface. The exhibit will consist of three thematic parts: earlier space programs in Florida, materials relating to the Apollo 11 landing, and FSU’s reaction to the landing. Sample materials selected include photos of the crew with Florida governors and legislators, the poster for the mission, and additional correspondence about the impact of the mission on Florida’s cultural memory.

AS 11 Buzz Aldrin on moon
Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, walking near the Lunar Module during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity. Photo comes from Spessard Holland Papers, MSS 1976-05.

More importantly, the Apollo 11 mission strikes near to the hearts of many Floridians. Launched from Cape Kennedy in Cape Canaveral, the mission has become a major part of our cultural identity as Floridians and as Americans. Throughout the country this year, festivities and celebrations are occurring to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch. According to nasa.gov, almost 650 million people heard Armstrong utter those famous words “…one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” And these words have stayed with us, are woven into our cultural fabric. We should be proud of this achievement; on the 50th anniversary of the launch, let us celebrate this momentous occasion in American history.

The images in this post come from the Spessard Holland Collection. To learn more about this collection, please see its finding aid.

The exhibit is available in the Claude Pepper Library which is open Monday-Friday, 9am to 5pm.

NASA AS 11 Photo of Earth
Most of Africa and portions of Europe and Asia can be seen in this spectacular photograph taken from the Apollo 11 spacecraft during its translunar coast toward the moon. Photos comes from Spessard Holland Papers, MSS 1976-05.

Beyond Fusion: Larry Coryell on WQXR

Larry Coryell’s name is nearly synonymous with jazz fusion, and understandably so.  The late guitarist’s contributions to the development of the jazz-rock idiom were foundational, particularly his work in the 1960s with the Gary Burton Quartet and with the proto-fusion band The Free Spirits.  His own 1970 album, Spaces (Vanguard), is often cited as a watershed recording that defined the jazz fusion genre.

But Larry Coryell’s musical interests extended well beyond the intersection of mainstream jazz and rock and roll. In 1976, after the breakup of his dynamic fusion band, The Eleventh House, Coryell began shifting his creative focus away from jazz fusion to explore a larger, more eclectic stylistic palette. The work in his post-fusion career often synthesized the musical languages of an array of seemingly disparate cultures: Indian classical, blues, flamenco, Western classical, country western, and the dance forms of Latin America, as well as jazz and rock.  And his pared down, acoustic solo and small ensemble work of that time is considered by some to be his finest. Jazz critic David R. Adler wrote, “To hear Coryell at his best… was to really hear him, i.e., in more stripped-down and intimate settings. His duo collaborations and solo 6- and 12-string acoustic work remains some of the most inspired and imaginative in the annals of modern guitar.”¹

…one of the more astounding moments, I think, in our Listening Room. –WQXR’s Robert Sherman

On May 8th, 1985, Larry Coryell was a guest on WQXR’s program The Listening Room. Coryell treated host Robert Sherman and his radio audience to a live in-studio performance of his composition for solo guitar, “Improvisation on Bolero.”  Coryell, performing on an acoustic Ovation Adamas 12-string, transformed Maurice Ravel’s staple of the orchestral repertoire into a dazzling showpiece for unaccompanied guitar. The breadth of Larry Coryell’s diverse musical influences, his genius for blurring the boundaries between genres, and his legendary virtuosity are all on full display in his WQXR appearence. Robert Sherman called Coryell’s performance, “one of the more astounding moments, I think, in our Listening Room.”

Larry Coryell’s performance of “Improvisation on Bolero” and excerpts from his conversation with Robert Sherman are available in the media player at the top of this page.  The full episode of The Listening Room from May 8th, 1985 is available here.


¹Adler, David R., Jazz-Rock Icon Larry Coryell Dies at 73, The Village Voice, 23-February-2017

Godby High Yearbooks Online

FSU Libraries continues to partner with local organizations to bring the history of our region online and available for research. Today’s new digital collection comes from a local high school, Godby High School. Opened in 1966, it officially became a school for grades 9-12 in 1968, graduating its first class in 1970. Much younger than the other high school we’ve partnered with in the past, Leon High School, Godby brings another perspective to student and family life in Tallahassee from the mid-1960s up to the 2018 yearbook.

Spread from the 1975 Godby High Cougar [original item]

You can explore more yearbooks from Godby High here. Yearbooks from 1969 to 2018 are available to browse and search.

Making Access Happen in the Digital Era

This is a story about valuing the hard work that has come before us and thinking innovatively about how we can share that hard work in new ways, using new and emerging digital platforms.  Back in 2006, we launched a short feature on our website, which we called Today’s Document. We featured a particular document from the Archives, to provide a bit of history in a bite-sized chunk. These were documents that had been scanned by staff for education, exhibits, or researchers. The feature was popular with the staff and the public. We continue to run it on our intranet at the National Archives. 

In 2011, we started thinking about the usefulness of mobile apps and developed content based on our web feature for a Today’s Document Mobile App for iOS and Android.  We learned a great deal from creating those apps and we began looking at other platforms that might attract users to our content.

We launched Today’s Document on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook later that same year.

We were thrilled that by 2013, Today’s Document was reaching over 100,000 followers on Tumblr.

Tumblr turned out to be the perfect platform for Today’s Document named to Time‘s top 30 Tumblrs for 2013.  We had Tumblr visiting the National Archives for a Federal Tumblr meetup in 2014. Today’s Document was featured in DigitalGov’s “Tumblr for Feds” Webinar and NARA’s Today’s Document staff attended the “Tumblr Goes to the White House” Q&A session at the White House in 2014.

While this was happening, our staff noticed that the documents that we turned into GIFs received the most attention. Our staff taught themselves the basics of GIF-making and away we went. Today’s Document was featured in DigitalGov’s “Essentials of Animated GIFs for Public Services” Webinar in 2015, the same year we went over 200,000 followers on Tumblr.

In 2016, Today’s Document was featured at DPLAfest’s “Advanced GIF Making Techniques” Webinar.

Here is Darren Cole, one of the driving staff behind Today’s Document, describing our work at that time:

Later in 2016,  we looked at yet another new platform, GIPHY, and we launched the National Archives GIPHY channel, using GIFs we had created for Today’s Document. 

Our GIPHY channel was featured in a DigitalGov blog post, as well as multiple news sources, including the New York Times, Washingtonian magazine, the Huffington Post, Popular Science, Endgadget, and more through 2016.

Today’s Document now has  over 50,000 Twitter followers and 36,000 Facebook followers.  We have been featured on Tumblr’s “Radar” over 28 times and currently have over 250,000 followers on the Tumblr platform.  The amazing number comes from our National Archives channel on GIPHY, which has reached over 1.2 billion views. 

Thanks to the innovative thinking of staff, we have provided access to our records to people around the world who may never come to archives.gov or the National Archives.   The staff combined their knowledge of new and emerging digital platforms with the rich content of the Archives. This has resulted in making access happen  in places and in numbers we have never seen before.  What will we think of next?

BC Gay and Lesbian Archives photographs now online!

Thanks to funding from the National Heritage Digitization Strategy (NHDS), we are happy to announce that over 5,400 photographs from the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives (BCGLA) collection are now available online in time for Pride.

Fantasy and Freedom, Diana Rose does Diana Ross (1990’s). Reference code: AM1675-S4-F15-: 2018-020.3712

The BCGLA Photograph series contains about 7,500 photographs. There are a few photographs that date from as early as the 1890’s and continue until 2014. The photographs are arranged under file titles that reflect their subject matter.  Ron Dutton, who collected and maintained the collection for decades before donating it to the Archives, provided access to the photographs through this arrangement and we have maintained his order. The file titles include:  theatre, comedy, performance arts, dance, writers, artists, musicians, portraits, politicians, female impersonation, Stonewall Festival, HIV/AIDS, the Vancouver AIDS Memorial, political activism, Gay Games III, nightclubs, Vancouver Lesbian Connection, Vancouver Gay and Lesbian Community Centre, Vancouver Prime Timers, youth groups, leather community, First Nations, sports, Hiking Club, businesses, LGBTQ2+ community organizations, Vancouver Pride Festival and the Victoria Pride Festival.

Here are just a few examples:

Billiards at the Chinese Cultural Centre, Gay Games (Aug. 1990). Reference code: AM1675-S4-F27-: 2018-020.5652

Square dancing event (1990’s). Reference code: AM1675-S4-F03-: 2018-020.2104

Betty Baxter at Stonewall Festival, Vancouver (1992). AM1675-S4-F09-: 2018-020.2640

Act up demonstration (Aug. 2, 1990). Reference code: AM1675-S4-F19-: 2018-020.4042

Many of the photographs were donated to the BCGLA with no accompanying information or captions. Over the next few months we will be at Pride events seeking input to identify individuals and events depicted in the photographs. In the meantime if you see someone you know in any of the photographs or remember the date(s) and/or locations please email us with the name(s) and links to the individual images and we will update the descriptions.

Unidentified Artist beside displayed artwork (1990’s). Reference code: AM1675-S4-F05-: 2018-020.2224

Unidentified drag performer (1980’s). Reference code: AM1675-S4-F17-: 2018-020.3860

Women’s video night during International Lesbian Week (Feb. 25, 1992). Reference code: AM1675-S4-F25-: 2018-020.5276

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

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

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

A Holiday in the Sun

Florida State University is closed Thursday, July 4 and Friday, July 5 in observance of the 4th of July holiday. We in Special Collections & Archives are off to enjoy our long weekend in the Florida sun. We’ll resume our normal operating schedule on Monday, July 8 (without too bad a sunburn we hope)

Girl at the Beach, Donald DeGraffenreid Pickett Collection, 1958-1959 (Accession No. HP-2008-010) [original image]

Join us for July 4th at the National Archives!

This year, the National Archives celebrates the 243rd anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence with special events in Washington, DC, and at Presidential Libraries nationwide.

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence, declaring the United States independent from Great Britain. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved. On August 2, 1776, delegates began to sign the engrossed Declaration of Independence penned by Timothy Matlack. For a detailed history of the founding document, be sure to read “The Declaration of Independence: A History” on Archives.gov.

As the trustee of our nation’s founding documents—the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights—the National Archives and Records Administration is a natural place to celebrate this national holiday.

July 4th celebrations on the steps of the National Archives in Washington, DC

Kick off your July 4th celebrations now with the #archivesjuly4 social media campaign. Wherever you are on July 4th, share your celebrations on social media using the hashtag #ArchivesJuly4. See more on National Archives News, which features many ways you can celebrate Independence Day with us in Washington, DC, and at our Presidential Libraries. All of the Presidential Libraries will be open to the public on July 4th.

For those of you in Washington, DC this July 4, stop by Constitution Avenue at 10 a.m. for a Declaration of Independence Reading Ceremony, then head inside for family activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you can’t come in person to Washington, DC, join our celebration through YouTube, and on the US National Archives Facebook page. 

Visitors view the Declaration of Independence in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC

We can often take our founding documents for granted. 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.

I wish you all a safe and happy Independence Day!

A Uniting Flame: Looking Back on the 50th Anniversary of the Westcott Fire

Fire at the Westcott Building – Florida State University. 1969. Black & white photonegative. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/11165>.

An iconic structure of Florida State’s campus, the gothic-styled Westcott Building was once threatened by a massive blaze on April 27, 1969. The fire started in the roof above the fourth floor, spreading beneath the sheetrock ceiling and causing intense damage throughout the fourth floor. The Westcott Building housed the University’s administration as well as the art department at the time and attention turned to not only saving the building and human lives, but the innumerable valuable documents and pieces of art stored within the structure.

As the April 28, 1969 edition of the Florida Flambeau notes, the art department was deemed a total loss but a painting by Reubens valued at $30,000 dollars, as well as work by FSU faculty member Dr. Karl Zerbe, valued at $50,000 were safely extracted from the inferno by brave students. Florida Flambeau editor Sam Miller details some of the more memorable moments from the scene:

“After the fire was out, students again poured in to try to salvage the paintings from the third floor. Perhaps the first comic relief of the evening came when two students carried out a bigger-than-life painting of a psychedelic nude.”

Miller, sam. “Differences forgotten in crisis: Everyone ‘Really pulled together.’ Florida flambeau. April 28, 1969. p1.

Students and staff alike banded together to save documents and other objects from the flames. 1969. FSU Digital Libraries, Heritage and University Archives. <http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/3163787>

For those interested in taking a step into the University’s past, we invite you to view the linked 13 minute video that includes a variety of moments from FSU in 1969, including the Westcott Fire (skip ahead to 3:25). You can check it out here.

New Archives Reading room

The Campus Central project is now well underway, transforming the centre of the university around Queens Court. As a result of the building works our archives reading room has moved to a new temporary home for the duration of the project in room S10 (lower library corridor).

Please note the new reading room is not accessed through the main library entrance. Access is via a path at the loch end of the Andrew Miller building to a new temporary entrance to the S library corridor. Keep an eye out for our ARCHI’VE EXPLORED signage which will direct you to the reading room (and staff at the Library reception desk will also be happy to help).

The opening hours of the reading room from July 2019 onwards will be 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm, Monday to Friday. During the Campus Central works material will have to be ordered in advance of your visit by emailing us at archives@stir.ac.uk

Follow the ARCHI’VE trail…

A reduced service will be in operation through July 2019 as we settle into our new surroundings.

Eubie Blake and the Keys to the Kingdom of Ragtime

This show is part of a three-hour marathon interview of the legendary rag-timer. Eubie was not only a brilliant talker but easily the oldest guest ever on this show. He was born in the 1870s.Eubie was sprightly, agile, very healthy, and able to climb four flights of stairs with some ease. He was a spellbinding talker in the 19th-century style when speech was the primary entertainment in America. Eubie could initiate the way other people talked too. That was part of his range of virtuoso conversation. He could recreate whole dialogues between people with his uncanny mimicry.Eubie lived in Bed-Sty in a large house typical of the architecture of 19th century residential Brooklyn.  He came from a mixed working-class neighborhood in Baltimore. As a child, he often played with white kids. As part of the demi-monde world of show business even when he was a teenager, he worked everywhere. He was a very worldly man who would have felt insulted if somebody thought him to be of a bottom class or a provincial. He thought little of what he called “slumming.”    Eubie attended many classical concerts with Lucky Roberts, another great pianist, who also wasn’t from a bottom class and while playing the piano made a fortune in real estate. Eubie was also a friend of Willie the Lion Smith. It’s hardly a surprise that he and Noble Sissle, wrote the songs for Shuffling Along, the first Black musical that presented rounded characters of color who had mature emotions, we’re not one step from the cotton fields.     When an adult Eubie went through the arduous Schlesinger Musical Method and studied at NYU.My feeling was the Eubie came from that first generation of Black people who were out to prove from Reconstruction Days they were as good as anybody. It’s a ruling premise one can find in many African-Americans of his time including Jack Johnson, Scott Joplin. James Reese Europe and so on. Since he was from Baltimore and moved to New York, he never experienced Jim Crow head-on in all directions all that much. Of course, once is enough. It made him different from younger people of color, many of whom were familiar with subtle ways they could be disdained or dismissed.Besides that, Eubie was a genius, one of a group with an ad hoc license to make their own rules.One is going to get a very different sense of Eubie from these tapes than they might have had they seen him publicly. Eubie, like Louis Armstrong, was a performer who often gave the audience what they wanted. That’s why both of them were at the top of their profession. If one listens to Louis Armstrong tape made in his Queens home, one is going to see a different Louis Armstrong than the one who was in front of an audience. That was true with Eubie.Beneath his accommodating exterior, Eubie was a fiercely proud man who knew who he was and wanted to be honored for it. That didn’t stop him from being an excellent listener. One time he asked me to play the piano for him. I refused. I  didn’t want to be embarrassed by my lack of craft compared to him. He was sincerely nonplussed by my refusal.   Somebody ought to revive his complex rags. They are ambitious, in strange keys and reach into classical music for a style that aims to be an American music using folk forms for extended excursions, a direction taken up later more famously by Duke Ellington.    


WNYC archives id: 85307

“Come and play with us”: Children in the Bowles-Hoar Family Papers

Come and play with us…forever…and ever…and ever…

First, the obvious: archives tend to contain papers about adults.  Because that fact is a given, we may not stop to wonder about it.  It really couldn’t be otherwise, since children don’t tend to create and accumulate “papers,” except maybe the kind that get taped to the front of refrigerators, then maybe stashed in a drawer and eventually, regretfully, thrown out.  There are certainly collections here or there whose main subjects are children, but those are few by comparison to those in which the focus is on adults.

But children appear in collections anyway, most particularly in family papers.  As I’ve been processing the Bowles-Hoar Family Papers, I’ve noticed a lot of material related to children, most of it from members of families in the collection, a little of it from close friends or just acquaintances.  In this post, we’ll look at some of these children, including children who appear without names or other clear ways to identify them.  Apart from public records (birth, death, census, etc., where you’d need at least a name), some of these children may have no documentation other than what’s here, and our small, unique patch of record is all there is for “proof of life.”

The first child to catch my attention (and haunt me during evenings and weekends) was little Mary Bowles Foote. Ironically (from the archival point of view), Mary herself has no documentation in the collection, no doubt because her death as a toddler meant that she didn’t leave anything behind. I only know about Mary because I started to chart the families represented in the collection and stumbled across her existence while focused on her mother, Julia.

As I pieced Mary’s story together, the significance of her short life and early death became clear. I learned that Mary was the granddaughter of Samuel Bowles II, the founder of the “Springfield Republican” newspaper, and the daughter of his eldest child, Julia. Julia appears once in George Merriam’s biography of her brother (the most famous Sam Bowles) in Merriam’s description of her parents’ trip with their infant daughter “up the river in a flat-boat…bringing a hand-printing press and some scanty furnishings” from Hartford to Springfield, where her father started his paper in September 1824. Little more is known about Julia other than that she attended Springfield’s “Old High School” and subsequently married a fellow student named Adonijah Foote (sometimes Foot), whose family was related to Julia’s sister-in-law Mary Bowles. Foote studied to be an engineer, and his first jobs included work on the Connecticut River railroad and the Holyoke canals.  Adonijah and Julia then moved to New Jersey, where he probably worked on the Central Railroad of New Jersey, which was still under construction at that time. Their baby daughter Mary went with them, something we only know because of an announcement in the “Republican” of her death from dysentery in New Jersey on August 17, 1851.  New Jersey newspapers show that the incidence of deaths from dysentery in the region had doubled in the month of Mary’s death, and the toddler probably died within two weeks of the first signs of illness. Julia then returned to Springfield with the body so that it might be buried in the relatively new Springfield Cemetery.  During this time Julia also fell ill from dysentery. On August 29, she died too. By this time, her father had caught it, and less than two weeks later, on September 8, he died too. The family must’ve been stunned at this triple loss.  If they understood anything about contagious illnesses, they must’ve feared more consequences, since at this point the extended family — three generations — all lived together on Union Street in Springfield.  In this way, little Mary’s illness and death had rippling consequences for the family and their newspaper — not only were three family members dead within a month, but Samuel Bowles III was now the head of the newspaper much earlier than he would have anticipated.  The stresses on him were enormous.

I visited the Springfield Cemetery recently but found no marker for Mary. An old cemetery plan indicates that she was known in the family as Minnie and that she was buried next to her mother, whose small, flat marker was barely visible when I visited.

At left, a section of the Bowles plot plan. At right, Julia’s stone. It reads: “Julia Bowles Foot/ [Wife?] Adonijah Foot/ Aug. 29, 1851/ Aged 27 Yrs.” There may be additional text at the top that is too worn to read.


Another Mary– Mary Dwight Bowles, called Mamie — provides a lighter note. This Mary was the daughter of Samuel Bowles III and his wife Mary Schermerhorn.  Little Mary is the Bowles child Emily Dickinson referred to as “Minor ‘Mary’,” to whom she promised “a Butterfly with a vest like a Turk…”  Mary was born in 1854 and was the third of seven surviving Bowles children.   As you might expect, the older children helped out with the younger ones.  On the right side of this note from early 1862, Mary anticipates a few chores in connection with her newborn brother Charles Allen Bowles:

Three unidentified children — two girls who seem to be twins and a younger boy, presumably their brother — appear in a daguerreotype and a pair of ambrotypes. Over the course of my work on the Bowles-Hoar papers, I have yet to come across twins in either family. The only twins I know of that have some connection to the collection are twins Fanny and Annie Stebbins, born in 1855 and friends and next-door neighbors to the Bowles family on Crescent Hill, but I’m not sure their dates work, and the brother isn’t “right” either.  I keep all these names and images in mind in case something pops into place someday and I suddenly know for certain who they are. But whoever these children are, I love their little faces, especially the slightly furrowed brow on the girl at right. Is she concentrating on staying still or is she irritated at the photographer? She looks ferocious — I like to imagine she grew up to be a terror.

These same children appear in ambrotypes taken a year or two later.  In both images, you can see that the boy has a distinctive nose that could help identify him if he appears in other photographs.  Here, though, the girls remind me a bit of the Grady girls in “The Shining,” just because I’m programmed to associate “twin girls” with those famous characters.  Maybe the boy’s name will turn out to be Danny.

“Hello, Danny.”

“Come and play with us, Danny.” The spectral Grady girls from “The Shining.” In the novel by Stephen King the girls were not twins.

Beth Hoar Bowles appears as a child in several images. Beth is the main collector of the Bowles-Hoar papers, the first person who inherited, gathered, and preserved the materials from both the Bowles and Hoar families. She’s very well documented in the collection from her birth in 1854 to her death in 1924.  Here she is as a young child in striped socks.  As the person who would inherit the responsibility for all the family papers, she looks appropriately sober.

Beth’s sons also figure prominently in the papers. Her older son, Samuel Bowles V, was a rather tragic figure who struggled from an early age against his inherited obligation to run the “Springfield Republican,” and her younger son, Sherman, distanced himself from the paper for a while but ultimately became a major figure in the company and — even better, in my view — the temporary publisher of “Cat-Man Comics.”  Here are the boys at about the age of their mother, above.  Poor little Sam already feels the pressure of living up to expectations:

“Samuel in Mama’s bonnet and boa” (circa 1888) and Sherman (1892).


Beth Bowles was an active figure in her community and, judging by what survived, she must’ve conducted an enormous correspondence. Among the correspondence she saved — most of it from family and close friends — there is a single sheet from a boy named Fayette Corey. At the bottom of the sheet, Beth has added an explanatory note.

“My dear Mrs. Bowles, I like my pencils and I am using them. Thank you for bringing them. Sincerely yours, Fayette Corey, 1180 Riverdale St.” Beth has added, “Small boy, run over by hay cart, I met at the hospital, July 1911.”

Beth’s added note is confirmed by newspaper evidence. That Beth kept Fayette’s note and handed it down among her papers shows us how much his situation moved her. Fayette probably didn’t leave much of a paper trail since he didn’t live long enough to create one — an obituary from the summer of 1919 shows that he died of enteritis at 13. So his single note above might be all there is.

To conclude on a happier note, we have Beth’s nephew Roger Sherman Hoar, the son of her brother Sherman and his wife Mary Butterick Hoar.  Roger looks like he was an eager child, straining to get out of his carriage and take on the world.

Roger Sherman Hoar in 1888.

In addition to letters to Beth from an adult Roger (who became Attorney General of Massachusetts and a science fiction writer), the papers contain two entertaining notes from young Roger. The first note entreats–and threatens–Roger’s Aunt Carrie (Beth’s sister, nicknamed Pussy) for his chocolates.


The second note is to his cousin Samuel (Beth’s boy, above), reporting the birth of calves in the neighboring Prichard’s barn in Concord. I love this boy. Can’t you just feel his excitement? He has no need of mere exclamation points to show his enthusiasm, he has BLOCK LETTERS.

There are many more children, identified and unidentified, in the Bowles-Hoar Family Papers, each one with a story of their own. The papers should be fully processed sometime next year. Come and play with us. Meet the children.

Filling in the gaps…

Thanks to a generous grant from the #StirlingFund we are currently preparing our collection of the first twenty five years of Brig, the university’s student newspaper, for digitisation. This phase of the project includes the checking, numbering and listing of over 150 issues of the paper prior to being sent out to TownsWeb Archiving, a company who specialise in archive digitisation.

While checking through our run of Brig we’ve noticed a few gaps in the collection which we hope our alumni can help us to fill. We are looking for copies of the following issues:

  • April 1978 (Vol. 9, No. 4)
  • September / October 1978 (Vol. 10, No. 1)
  • October 1984

If you can help us to fill these gaps please send your copies to: Karl Magee, University Archivist, University Library, University Of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA.

The cover of our copy of the March 1987 issue of Brig is also slightly the worse for wear, if you have a copy in better condition we’d love to include it!

Have you got a better copy of this issue of Brig we can use in our #StirlingFund digitisation project?

19th Annual Archivist’s Achievement Awards

Last week I hosted our annual Archivist’s Achievement Awards Ceremony, an event I look forward to each year. This ceremony is important to me and gives me the opportunity to highlight the achievements of our staff across the National Archives. But more importantly, it gives me the chance to say thank you. Incredible work happens at this agency every single day, and I am so proud of your accomplishments each and every day.

This past year, we’ve released more than 34,000 documents from the John F. Kennedy Assassination Collection, remediated 23,000 records for mold, helped veterans by eliminating a nearly 300,000 records backlog, reviewed 860,000 pages of records and digitized in-house 51,000 pages related to Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s work, and supported one another during the partial Government shutdown. And these are just a few examples! You can learn more about these incredible accomplishments in the awards program.

During the ceremony, we once again gave our customers a chance to sing the praises of our employees. Almost every day I receive comments praising the work of NARA staff. We were able to incorporate some of these statements into the awards program to hear directly from the people who benefit from the great work that we do:

The Archivist’s Achievement Awards recognizes our colleagues who dedicate their time and talents to make the National Archives a great place to work. We recognize colleagues who went above and beyond expectations and succeeded in ways not intended. Thank you for your service.

Renovation Update and a Giant Bat

“Hey, Special Collections Librarians,” we can hear you thinking, “where have you been?”

Renovation has been kicking into high gear over here at the Providence Public Library.

Renovation stairwell

Workers create an open stairwell through the building’s many floors.

We’ve been cleaning and packing materials in preparation for our move into newly-renovated, climate-controlled stacks. We’ve vacuumed many of our books with a special HEPA vacuum to clean them before they’re loaded onto carts, and we’ve been setting shelves to hold our materials in their new space. Delicate items are getting wrapped, and Jordan has been making a Herculean effort to track every book’s current and future location through color-coded spreadsheets and maps. Everything is topsy-turvy (but in a collections-preserving manner, don’t worry).


Part of this space will eventually be our new exhibition gallery.

We’re not taking research requests or appointments at the moment, as most of our collections are inaccessible. We’re hoping to have completed the move by late July or August; we’ll post an update on this blog and on our social media once we’re taking new reference questions and research appointments. In the meantime, you can always check the PPL website for updates about the building transformation, or visit our colleagues at the Rhode Island State Archives, Providence City Archives, Rhode Island Historical Society, and other awesome local institutions for all of your research needs.

To tide you over for the next month or two, here’s an exciting illustration of a giant bat soaring above a cathedral (taken from a children’s book about animals called On Four Feet):