Happy Halloween from Special Collections

Happy Halloween from FSU Special Collections! The students at FSCW loved a good costume, and didn’t feel the need to wait until Halloween to dress up, often getting gussied up for class demonstrations, club initiations, or just because they wanted to have some fun. Please enjoy some photographs of FSCW students in costume!

Women in Flower Costumes (Heritage Protocol Photograph Collection, circa 1920s)
Women in Flower Costumes (Heritage Protocol Photograph Collection, circa 1920s)
Woman in Costume (Even Demonstrations) (Elizabeth and Katharine Autrey Collection, 1931-1999)
Woman in Costume (Even Demonstrations) (Elizabeth and Katharine Autrey Collection, 1931-1999)
Gladys Martin in Queen of Hearts Costume (Gladys Martin Black Collection, circa 1914-1918)
Gladys Martin in Queen of Hearts Costume (Gladys Martin Black Collection, circa 1914-1918)
Cornelia Watson, Carolyn Mims, and Joan Kennedy in Wizard of Oz Costumes at Odd Demonstration (L. Janet Wells Scrapbook, 1938-1942)
Cornelia Watson, Carolyn Mims, and Joan Kennedy in Wizard of Oz Costumes at Odd Demonstration (L. Janet Wells Scrapbook, 1938-1942)
Lucile Pyles and Catherine Goode in Costume (Mary Cobb Nelson Scrapbook, 1923-1928)
Lucile Pyles and Catherine Goode in Costume (Mary Cobb Nelson Scrapbook, 1923-1928)
Unidentified Girl in Ballet Costume (Marion Laura Stine Collection, 1917-1921)
Unidentified Girl in Ballet Costume (Marion Laura Stine Collection, 1917-1921)
Unidentified Girl in Armenian Costume (Marion Laura Stine Scrapbook, 1917-1921)
Unidentified Girl in Armenian Costume (Marion Laura Stine Scrapbook, 1917-1921)

If you like these photographs, be sure to check out our latest exhibit “That I May Remember: Scrapbooks of the Florida State College for Women 1905-1947″ in the Special Collections & Archives Gallery, open Monday-Friday 10AM-6PM.

1964: China Joins Nuclear Club

On October 17, 1964, the world woke up to the shocking news that Communist China had tested a nuclear weapon. Codenamed “596″, the test had successfully detonated a Uranium atom bomb in the remote Lop Nur desert the day before. “In delivering a heavy blow at the imperialist United States and its lackeys, the success of China’s nuclear test lends firm support to those oppressed nations and people in their struggle for liberation”, an official communique stated.

How surprised was the U.S. administration? Although most in the Lyndon Johnson administration knew a test was more or less imminent, as late as one week earlier they were not sure of when to expect it; that summer many in the CIA had doubted it would happen before the end of the year, while the State Department had estimated an October 1 date. But to most citizens the news was shocking, in light of the American and Russian efforts on nuclear disarmament and especially the signing of the Limited-Test Ban Treaty the previous summer (although China never signed it). As you can hear in the two snippets above, President Johnson had to toe the line between disapproval and alarm.

The President’s tone may have been more than a façade. Months before and after the Chinese test, top advisers had discussed the possibility of attacking Chinese nuclear test facilities. But President Johnson seems to have sided with those suggesting a more diplomatic approach; he even disliked even the comparatively mild 1965 report from the Committee on Nuclear Proliferation (the Gilpatric Report), barring it from circulation beyond his cabinet. We should be happy that cooler heads prevailed; pulling the trigger on perceived nuclear threats has often meant trouble at other times.

Truly Horrid Books

Insitutiones chirurgicae... by Lorenz Heister, 1739.

Insitutiones chirurgicae… by Lorenz Heister, 1739.

Forget witches, goblins and ghouls, for a truly terrifying time there is nothing like a stroll through medical history.

De morbis acutis & chronocis by Caelius Aurelianus, 1709.

De morbis acutis et chronocis by Caelius Aurelianus, 1709.

For instance, perhaps you’d prefer a doctor who wasn’t nostalgic for the era of the toga-clad practitioners?

The miraculous conformist by Henry Stubbe, 1666.

The miraculous conformist by Henry Stubbe, 1666.

Perhaps “Marvailous Cures performed by the stroaking of the Hands” sounds like a euphemism you’d rather not explore further? (At least not with him.)

Opera Omnia by Thomas Willis, 1682.

Opera Omnia by Thomas Willis, 1682.

Seventeenth century brain surgery anyone?

The medical and surgical history of the war of the rebellion, United States Surgeon-General's Office, 1879.

The medical and surgical history of the war of the rebellion, United States Surgeon-General’s Office, 1879.

The civil war wasn’t a real good time to need a doctor either, although they were really trying hard and taking LOTS of notes. A+ for effort.

The medical and surgical history of the war of the rebellion, United States Surgeon-General's Office, 1879.

The medical and surgical history of the war of the rebellion, United States Surgeon-General’s Office, 1879.

A treatise of the first part of Chirurgerie by Alexander Reed, 1638.

A treatise of the first part of Chirurgerie by Alexander Reed, 1638.

Not sure whether to be more concerned about the idea of “the reunition of the parts of the bodie disjoyned” or the fact that you could still check this book out of the library in 1941.

The English house-wife by Markham Gervase, 1683.

The English house-wife by Markham Gervase, 1683.

It wasn’t just doctors undertaking questionable cures, of course. This compendium of all the knowledge necessary to be a good English house-wife in 1683 has cures for hundreds of day-to-day complaints. Say you’re pissing in bed, just drink dried kid hoof in beer four or five times a day.

The English house-wife by Markham Gervase, 1683.

The English house-wife by Markham Gervase, 1683.

Burnt your man parts? (And who hasn’t?) Linen ash in egg oyle ought to do it.

The English house-wife by Markham Gervase, 1683.

The English house-wife by Markham Gervase, 1683.

Plague, on the other hand, you’ll have to find some Dragon water for that.

An elementary compendium of physiology by Francois Magendie, 1831.

An elementary compendium of physiology by Francois Magendie, 1831.

Let’s not even discuss where they got their cadavers in 1831.

Insitutiones chirurgicae... by Lorenz Heister, 1739.

Insitutiones chirurgicae… by Lorenz Heister, 1739.

And, last but not least, the mother-lode of terrifying old medicine: this surgical manual from 1739 and its dozens of large illustrations of surgical tools and techniques. Click through to see much more detail than you really want.

Insitutiones chirurgicae... by Lorenz Heister, 1739.

Insitutiones chirurgicae… by Lorenz Heister, 1739.

Eye surgery, anyone?

Insitutiones chirurgicae... by Lorenz Heister, 1739.

Insitutiones chirurgicae… by Lorenz Heister, 1739.

What really gets me is how calm all these patients look.

Insitutiones chirurgicae... by Lorenz Heister, 1739.

Insitutiones chirurgicae… by Lorenz Heister, 1739.

I think this might be treppaning. It is certainly ALL WRONG.

Insitutiones chirurgicae... by Lorenz Heister, 1739.

Insitutiones chirurgicae… by Lorenz Heister, 1739.

Why? WHY?

Insitutiones chirurgicae... by Lorenz Heister, 1739.

Insitutiones chirurgicae… by Lorenz Heister, 1739.

What even?

Insitutiones chirurgicae... by Lorenz Heister, 1739.

Insitutiones chirurgicae… by Lorenz Heister, 1739.

Eighteenth century obstetrics. Stuff of nightmares.

Believe it or not there were a good half dozen pages of this book that were too horrible to share even here.

Observations, anatomical and physiological by Alexander Monro, 1758.

Observations, anatomical and physiological by Alexander Monro, 1758.

(tongue-out-of-cheek, these medical pioneers laid the foundation for all the wonders of hygiene, precision, and efficacy that we now enjoy. They were doing the best they could. Really…. Except maybe Mr. Hands up there…)

All these book (and many more) are available in Archives and Special Collections. Come on over and disturb yourself in living color!

Resist Much, Obey Little

Pulitzer Prize winner Galway Kinnell dies at the age of 87.

Nearly fifty years ago, Galway Kinnell read Walt Whitman’s “To the States” during a rally protesting the Vietnam War.  In 2003, on the eve of the United States invasion of Iraq, Kinnell was reminded of Whitman’s words again.    

I think particularly of his words “resist much, obey little” — don’t do what people tell you. Don’t believe what the government tells you to believe…test it against your own instincts, your own sense of what is right and what is practical and what is responsible and refuse to do what seems reckless and actually not in the interests of our own country.

To The States
To the States or any one of them, or any city of the
States, Resist
much, obey little,
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved,
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever
afterward resumes its liberty.

Galway Kinnell from the Academy of American Poets
The Walt Whitman archive

Josephine, the Talking Jeep

Some readers may remember the crime-fighting David Hasselhoff driving an artificially intelligent 1982 Pontiac Trans Am in the ’80s TV show Knight Rider and a few may even recall the ’60s sitcom with Jerry Van Dyke and his loquacious maternal 1928 Porter touring car in My Mother the Car. But, before them all was Josephine, the talking Jeep on WNYC.

During World War II WNYC was cranking out war-related programming on a full-time basis. These broadcasts included afternoon music shows made for playing over the P.A. systems of local defense plants, programs about food rationing and metal collection as well as dramas about refugees and battlefield encounters.  Echoes of War was one such series. Airing on Tuesday evenings in 1944 the show was billed as an “attempt to portray some of the background history and interesting sidelights of America’s great current struggle in the cause of freedom.”

The first radio play in the series was Come Josephine. Written by WNYC news director Mitchell Jablons, the drama takes a whimsical approach to its serious subject by having the story told from the point of view of a ‘female’ army Jeep named Josephine. She describes her relationship with “her” soldier, Joe and their various exploits fighting fascists. The production scores relatively high on the hokum meter, but is typical of the patriotic material that was broadcast at the time.

The program originally aired on WNYC, July 11, 1944. Edie Kroll played the role of Josephine and Delmar Knutzman played the American soldier Joe. The drama was produced and directed by Nathan M. Rubin.

Magician of the Week #27: Booze and Tobacco, Bergeron & Belais

This is what you look like when you mix Schlitz and wine

This is what you look like when you mix Schlitz and wine

You've got five fingers. Why would you just smoke one pipe?

You’ve got five fingers. Why would you smoke just one pipe?

Halloween is days away, so this seemed like a good time to revive our Magician of the Week series. These images are taken from M-U-M: Magic, Unity, Might magazine:

magic002 magic003

And just a reminder that if you’re still figuring out your Halloween plans, we’ll be having a good time here at the library that night. Tickets are still available.

At the Forefront of Death: Cancer in Midcentury

What was the state of cancer in mid twentieth century America? There was no “cure,” nor was there a consensus on causation; but in the mind of the American public, with its almost unwavering faith in science and medicine, cancer had shifted from being a death sentence, whispered about as the “c” word, to an often treatable disease. The mantra from public officials became “many cancers are treatable if caught early enough.”

When Dr. Leona Baumgartner, the new NYC Health Commissioner, stepped on the podium at the New York Academy of Medicine on October 26, 1954, cancer had moved up to the second leading cause of death in New York City and nationally. Death rates due to cancer had more than tripled in 50 years, but Dr. Baumgartner, expertly threading the line between reassurance and concern, assures the audience (including WNYC listeners) that the statistics provide a somewhat false impression of cancer mortality. She explains that the numerical rise is attributable to three factors: (1) better diagnosis, (2) more accurate reporting of the causes of death and (3) the conquest of most communicable diseases, which allowed a much larger proportion of the population to live into late middle age and old age —precisely the age at which many cancers strike.

By the time of this speech, cancer awareness and education were not new, having formally begun before World War I; the Second World War and the subsequent Cold War led to significant investment by the federal government in scientific and medical research (as well as a concern about the effects of radiation, but that’s another story). The best defense, it seemed, was an early offense, so public cancer control strategies focused on early detection and mass screenings. Commissioner Baumgartner saw cancer control as a four-part program: her speech focuses on the interdependency of (1) the Department of Health, (2) voluntary agencies, (3) private practice physicians and (4) educated New Yorkers. Thus it would be through mass and individual action —through agencies, professionals and people— that the dread disease could be tamed.

Widespread education was seen as a prerequisite of cancer control, so the Department of Health‘s role in this respect was threefold. It tried to educate the public, individuals and family doctors about possible cancer symptoms; to encourage individuals to get in the habit of seeing the family physician annually; and to make the family doctor aware of his important role in the process of early detection. The Department also ran three cancer detection centers: the first opened in 1947 and two more were added in 1951. Admission was restricted to women 30 years and over and men 35 years and over, who had no cancer symptoms.

Of equal importance was the support provided by voluntary agencies, particularly the New York City Cancer Committee. This organization, founded in 1926 as a local branch of the American Society for the Control of Cancer (later the American Cancer Society), focused on early detection. The Cancer Committee funded a cytological service for indigent patients in Manhattan and the Bronx. Doctors could take a Papanicolaou smear (the pap smear) in their offices and send it for analysis free of charge. The Cancer Committee funded some of the Department’s cancer detection centers as well.

Because the detection centers could only serve a fraction of the population needing annual examinations, the private practitioner’s role in cancer detection was paramount. In her speech Dr. Baumgartner reminds family physicians that they are in the best position to examine what she calls “accessible sites” —the skin, oral cavity, breast, rectum, prostate and uterus— during routine visits. “Every Doctor’s Office a Detection Clinic” was the goal of the New York City Department of Health’s cancer control program.

The final component to a successful plan of early detection, control and treatment was the patient. Dr. Baumgartner believed the plan would only work if individuals were equipped to take the first step. She did not believe in fear as a tactic but wanted to encourage all New Yorkers to take advantage of the health care resources of their city. This started with an annual visit to the family doctor’s office. An educated patient would be aware of potential symptoms related to cancer and would report them to the doctor, who, in turn, would start the process of initial testing to reach a diagnosis. According to Dr. Baumgartner, the “individual must assume personal responsibility” for his or her health and “seek care in an intelligent way.” In this regard the Health Department, in conjunction with the Cancer Committee, taught women the correct method by which to examine their own breasts monthly using films and leaflets. And long before the women’s health movement of the 1970s, the Department initiated a pilot program, in which women would prepare their own slide for a pap smear and send it to a laboratory for analysis. It was called S.O.S. – self-obtained smear. Dr. Baumgartner was clear that this was not a substitute for a visit to the doctor but may have served as an incentive to get women to make a visit. Finally, the Department also provided free kits for all interested physicians in Manhattan and the Bronx and the Cancer Committee funded the analysis of the smears at New York University - Bellevue College of Medicine and at Harlem Hospital.

Where does that leave us today in terms of cancer control? Cancer deaths are still the number two cause of death in New York City, but the death rate has declined. Perhaps more interestingly, data on cancer incidence vs. mortality show that Leona Baumgartner and other public health leaders were correct: when caught in time, the most common forms of cancer are quite treatable. Moreover, the same four prongs of cancer control are still as essential today as they were in 1954. Public health campaigns must remind us of potential symptoms; voluntary health agencies still remind us to be ever vigilant (pink is everywhere); primary care physicians, who are the only contact with the medical profession for many Americans, need to be on the lookout for these symptoms and must make recommendations for further testing and treatment when appropriate; and we, as individuals, must absorb all of this information and have a duty to ourselves to act on it.

The Baumgartner speech also provides us with a glimpse of the time when a tidal shift occurred in the focus of many health departments, from the containment of contagious diseases to the control of chronic diseases, like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. This shift has prevailed until today.

New York City, 2007-2011, rate per 100,000 people

Type of Cancer

Incidence Male

Mortality Rate Male

Incidence Female

Mortality Rate Female

Lung

65.5

44.7

43.2

26.6

Colorectal

53.5

19.6

39.5

13.5

Female breast

 

 

118.8

21.5

Prostate

161.6

23.7

 

 

Cervical

 

 

9.7

2.9

(https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/cancer/registry/vol1/v1rnyc.htm)

Norbert Wiener: The Conscientious Gadgeteer

Are we living out Norbert Wiener’s worst nightmares? Wiener, the inventor of cybernetics, is often thought of as the expansive (and partially jealous) counterpart to Claude Shannon, the reclusive, meticulous goldsmith of the mathematics behind communication theory. Indeed, although both men were the primary architects of information theory (which, among other things, allows you to reliably read these words on your screen), Wiener was far more willing to appear in public —and to publicly express his misgivings about the ways in which communications (and science in general) were being used within a human society. When he says in 1950 “The idol is the gadget and I know very great engineers who never think further than the construction of the gadget and never think of the question of the integration between the gadget and human beings in society,” is he taking a stab at the insular Claude Shannon?

Two broadcasts on WNYC from the New York Academy of Medicine are classic Wiener. Ever aware (not to say fond) of connections between apparently-disparate realms, his 1953 “lecture to the laity” expounds on causality in Newtonian physics, operational analysis, quantum mechanics, and homeostatic disruptions as a possible cause of cancer (all of this, of course, while repeatedly going off-mic —something he was famous for).

His earlier 1950 lecture is perchance an even more expansive and virtuosic gem, building a grand arc from the minutiae of anti-aircraft ballistics to automatic safety systems and to gadget worshiping. The final, grand message —that machines are really powerful, that they must be understood, and that human power should be used for “an end to which we can give a justifiable human value” is then brilliantly connected (spoiler alert!) back down to the earthy medieval notion of the wish-granting talisman, the monkey’s paw.

In the lecture Wiener also references an image from a New Yorker cartoon which shows a factory in which an assembly line of robots is building the same robots, while the two lone humans wonder what it is all about. In our cybernetic era of self-reflective echo chambers, where information begets more information with no apparent purpose or control mechanisms —not to mention gadget worshiping—, Norbert Wiener may well be turning in his grave. We can’t say he did not warn us. He may have been off-mic, but he was seldom off-target.

The Spessard Holland Photograph Collection Illustrates Three Decades of Florida Political History

Newly appointed Senator Spessard Holland working at his desk in Florida
Newly-appointed Senator Spessard Holland working at his desk in Florida (1946)

The Claude Pepper Library is home to a collection of over 2,000 photographs from Spessard Holland’s long career representing Florida in the United States Senate and as its 28th governor. These images provide a glimpse into his work on behalf of the state of Florida and with many of the preeminent political figures of the 20th century.

Spessard Holland, far left, with the 24th Aero Squadron in France during World War I
Spessard Holland, far left, with the 24th Aero Squadron in France during World War I

Holland was a lifelong resident of Bartow, Florida. He was born in the central Florida town to Benjamin F. and Virginia Holland in 1892. Despite leaving several times – to Atlanta to earn a bachelor’s degree at Emory University, then to Gainesville to study Law at the University of Florida, and to France during his service in the Army Air Corps during World War I – he always returned to his hometown. He was interred in Bartow in 1971 upon his death. The earliest photographs in the series include portraits of Holland as a child and with his fellow service men while stationed in Paris. However the majority of the images, taken during his thirty years in office, are devoted to Holland’s political work.

Governor Spessard Holland visiting a base in Florida during the second World War
Governor Spessard Holland visiting a military base in Florida during World War II

During the United States involvement in World War II, Holland served as the 28th Governor of Florida. He oversaw Florida’s participation in the wartime defense effort and the development of infrastructure to support this growth. The series of photographs illustrates Holland’s term in office from Election Day in 1940 through his departure in 1945. These images document Florida’s vital work during World War II at military bases, air fields, and shipyards; as well as Holland’s work on issues of tax reform and sponsoring Florida agriculture, which would remain central policy positions throughout his career. The collection also contains several family photos taken during Holland’s term as governor. These depict Mary Groover Holland in her duties as first lady as well as informal photos of family life in the Governor’s mansion in Tallahassee and throughout Florida.

President Truman arriving in Florida for the dedication of Hendricks Field being greeted by Senator Spessard Holland, Senator Claude Pepper, and Governor Millard Caldwell
President Truman greeted on arrival in Florida by Senators Spessard Holland and Claude Pepper
President Lyndon Johnson at the 1964 certification of the 24th Amendment, which had been sponsored by Spessard Holland
Sponsor Spessard Holland with President Johnson at the 1964 certification of the 24th Amendment

Governor Millard Caldwell appointed Spessard Holland to the United States Senate on September 25, 1946 following the death of Charles O. Andrews. Holland was formally elected to the seat in November of that year and served four consecutive terms until his retirement in 1971. The political changes that occurred over this quarter century can be witnessed in the collection. Holland’s relationship with the each Presidential administration, working most closely with fellow Democrats Truman and Johnson, is tacit in the images. Frequent travel, a significant part of the Senator’s life, is documented in this collection. Holland would attend events throughout Florida before returning to his senatorial office in Washington D.C., as well as congressional trips to Central America and up to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

Spessard Holland meeting with Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins
Spessard Holland meeting with Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins

Holland was committed to the success of the Florida space program. The collection contains images from his frequent trips to the Florida Space Coast taken during his ten years of service on the National Aeronautical and Space Committee. These show visits to launch and training sites as well as the crowds watching the subsequent lift-off. Holland met with the crew of Apollo 11 and the Mercury 7 astronauts, receiving inscribed photographs from Gus Grissom, John Glenn, and Alan Shepard.

Senator Spessard Holland meeting with Senator Claude Pepper and Florida Democratic Representatives to discuss VA Hospitals (1949)
Senator Spessard Holland meeting with fellow Florida Democratic Congressmen to discuss VA Hospitals (1949)

Over three decades, the photographs document Spessard Holland’s close relationships with many prominent political figures in Florida, Washington, D.C., and Latin American. Perhaps the most visible of his colleagues were his corresponding Florida Senator Claude Pepper and later George Smathers. The public life of a United States congressman – attending committee meetings, visiting with constituents, luncheons with interest group, and campaign banquets – were often done in conjunction with these men and his fellow Florida representatives.

The images are only part of the Spessard Holland collection. The photographs are held at the Claude Pepper Library along with biographies on Holland’s life, personal correspondence, campaign files, Floridiana, and memorabilia. More images of Spessard Holland during his terms of office can be seen in the Claude Pepper Digital Photograph Collection.

Spessard Holland and Allen Morris looking at a photograph from Holland’s governorship from the collection given to Strozier Library in 1971
Spessard Holland and Allen Morris looking at a photograph from Holland’s governorship, part of the collection given to Strozier Library in 1971

Mary Perot Nichols: Guiding WNYC’s Rebirth and Renewal – Part 1

Mary Perot Nichols, a former muckraking columnist and city editor of The Village Voice, served two separate terms as head of WNYC. Strong-willed with a no-nonsense approach to leadership, she advanced WNYC’s independence from the City of New York through the creation of the WNYC Foundation after years of fiscal cutbacks. While Nichols also launched new award-winning programming, she is perhaps best known, unfortunately, for being sabotaged by Mayor Edward Koch on the issue of ‘The John Hour.’ This occurred on October 23, 1979, when WNYC broadcast the names of men convicted of patronizing prostitutes.

The WNYC Foundation

When Ed Koch appointed Nichols to run WNYC in 1978, the stations (AM, FM & TV) were in a dismal state of affairs, both physically and economically. Taking charge during the city’s fiscal crisis and renewed calls for the sale of WNYC (a perennial appeal by station opponents and fiscal conservatives since its founding) proved to be a major challenge. Just four months into the job, Nichols was thoroughly frustrated. In a confidential 10-page memo to Koch she wrote, “I cannot hope to achieve this administration’s twin goals for WNYC–improved programming and financial self-sufficiency without a way to spend my federal and other potential grant funds quickly and creatively.”[1] She went on to attach an appendix of ‘horror stories’ and concluded, “If you want WNYC to become self-sufficient, you must give me the tools to do the job, i.e., a foundation.” [2] Despite the frustration, Nichols was both excited and challenged by WNYC, saying working at the station “was like cooking a gourmet meal while standing on a floor covered with glue.”[3] Thus came a solution that would mark the beginning of the end of WNYC’s relationship with the City of New York. The WNYC Foundation was established on August 10, 1979.[4]

New Programming

Until the foundation took root and funding started to come in Nichols and her staff initiated a number of efforts to support new programming that would expand listenership. Among these were Senior Edition, New York Considered, Morning Pro Musica (from WGBH), a storytelling festival, NPR’s new Morning Edition, and in response to the August, 1978 newspaper strike, The Sunday Papers. Teaming up with NPR and reporters from the Times, News and Post, WNYC produced a news program to fill the gap created by the walkout. The show was patterned after the Sunday newspapers, with a mixture of news and features that New Yorkers were unable to read, including local politics and the courts. It was WNYC’s first effort at national programming in partnership with NPR and the station’s first significant syndication since the 1950s when it was working closely with the National Association of Educational Broadcasters. She obtained a Ford Foundation grant to review radio programming. Nichols and her legal team also seriously looked into the leasing of television air time as a way of broadening the communications group’s revenue stream. She created a development office to bring in non-city monies for renovating the facilities and, with guidance from veteran engineer Chuck Corcoran, established WNYC’s earth station, one of fifteen for the NPR satellite system. The station’s outward identity changed as well. WNYC AM, FM and TV became known as the ‘WNYC Communications Group’ in order to distance itself from the city-bound ‘Municipal Broadcasting System.’ But just as Nichols was gaining some momentum for significant change, she was undermined by her boss.

The John Hour

It has become a part of city folklore as WNYC’s most notorious series. The truth be told, it ran only once and wasn’t an hour, but just under two minutes. The broadcast was announced by Mayor Koch and Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morganthau while Nichols was on vacation in a remote part of Nebraska and not easily reached in this pre-cell phone, pre-Internet period. They argued the airing of the names of convicted ‘Johns’ would act as a deterrent to prostitution by cutting into the demand and that this sort of mayoral dictate over programming was reasonable. For Nichols, it was a foolish bit of political grandstanding by the mayor at a time when she was wooing critical public and foundation support for the stations and needed to demonstrate to donors that WNYC was insulated from whims and abuses of City Hall. News of the pending broadcast spread like wildfire. There was a spoof on Saturday Night Live and an essay by William Safire in the New York Times comparing Ed Koch’s sense of justice with that of Ayatollah Khomeini.[5] Meanwhile, Nichols’ absence left her lieutenants fielding a cascade of calls from the press, and sadly, women who wanted to find out if their husband’s names were on the list. 

Both WMCA and The Daily News voluntarily complied with the appeal by Koch and Morganthau and publicized the names with little fanfare. But Koch himself made the broadcast controversial by effectively ordering WNYC to air it. With of all the hoopla, Nichols made a desperate attempt to make it appear that programming wasn’t being dictated by City Hall, but that WNYC was airing the segment because it was “news.” (The now infamous segment read by announcer Joe Rice below has had the surnames and addresses of individuals obscured.)

Behind the scenes, Nichols demanded Koch hold a breakfast at Gracie Mansion for the directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to assure them he wasn’t dictating programming.[6] In the end, she salvaged the $1.1 million she was hoping for from CPB[7] but lost out on a quarter-of-a-million from the Revson Foundation, a key player in the foundation community. Nichols would later say, “I had worked for two years to build the station up to this, to get this $1.1 million, and here Ed, in some stupid moment, had just about destroyed everything.”[8] NPR head Frank Mankiewicz called it “the most expensive minute and forty-five seconds in the history of public radio”[9] Soon afterward, Nichols decided to accept a job as Director of Communications for the University of Pennsylvania. The Koch Administration brought in WGBH chief John Beck as her replacement.

But that’s not the end of the story!  For more, go to Mary Perot Nichols: Guiding WNYC’s Rebirth and Renewal – Part 2

_______________________

[1] Nichols, Mary Perot, Confidential memo to Edward Koch, October 5, 1978, pg. 1. La Guardia and Wagner Archives, Edward I. Koch collection.

[2] Ibid. pg. 10.

[3] Phone conversation with Mary Daly, October 21, 2014.

[4] Nichols’ predecessor Arnold Labaton had tried to free up funding for WNYC by making the station a public benefit corporation, a move requiring legislation from Albany. Language was drafted but there were some concerns with the civil service status of employees as well as operating in a public building with equipment purchased with public funds. As a result, the effort got little traction. By the time Nichols was appointed by Koch, the station had been raising money on the air in an effort to get around some of more onerous municipal government rules. Still, there were a number of issues to address in order to keep that private money from going into the city’s byzantine financial structure.

[5] Safire, William, “The John Hour,” The New York Times, October 11, 1979, pg. A2.

[6] Reminiscences of Mary Perot Nichols, Columbia University Center for Oral History Collection (hereafter CUCOHC), pgs. 74-75.

[7] On December 2, 1979 CPB awarded WNYC a $1.1 million five-year station improvement grant. The money was earmarked for increasing the quality and variety of programming. It was the fourth and largest single grant of its kind that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting had ever given. Programs supported by these funds included: a series of live concert broadcasts; the “Broadway Radio Hour,” a thirteen-part history of the American musical theater, hosted by Dorothy Rodgers; the “WPA Writers Project;” an oral history of the 1930s federal arts program for the elderly; “O’ Aural Tradition,” a dramatization of the Tristan and El Cid myths; and the “Lonely Passion of Simple Simon,” an original opera for radio by Eric Salzman. Funds were also to be used for showcasing the work of the nation’s best independent radio producers.

[8] Reminiscences of Mary Perot Nichols, CUCOHC, pg. 75.

[9] Ibid. pg. 73.

Special thanks to Eliza Nichols, Evelyn Junge, Mary Daly and B.J. Kowalski.

Mary Perot Nichols: Guiding WNYC’s Rebirth and Renewal – Part 2

Three years pass and Mary Perot Nichols returns to helm of WNYC. John Beck’s efforts to emphasize new music over traditional classical music and Black-oriented programming on WNYC TV, among other things, did not go over well with the Koch Administration. City Hall had made a major commitment to WNYC by undertaking the renovation of its WPA-era facilities before Nichols’ departure, and that work was well under way by her return. The WNYC Foundation she jumpstarted in her first term was now bringing in a significant amount of money for a variety of special projects and programming. Here too Nichols was able to hit the ground running, with key staff and procedures in place for expanded programming.  But first, there was some old business to address.

Small Things Considered

One of the first things Nichols did when she came to WNYC in 1978 was take Ireene Wicker, ‘The Singing Lady’, off the air. She felt the show was antiquated and not reaching New York’s kids. “When I was a child I listened to The Singing Lady, and I hated her!” she said.[1] It’s true, Wicker had been doing a children’s radio broadcast since the 1930s, first on the networks and then on WNYC from the late 1950s, receiving a Peabody Award in 1961. Her approach could be considered a bit dated and Nichols had other ideas about what constituted award-winning children’s programming. Shortly after her return in 1984, she launched, Small Things Considered with just $1,500 in discretionary funds. With additional funding and development, the kids program quickly turned into a popular, fast-paced aural potpourri of games, music, call-ins, and banter between jovial hosts Cathy O’Connell and Larry Orfaly. The duo was complemented by frequent visits from characters like the Duke of Words, Z-Know the Alien, and Dr. Rita Book — all with their own peripatetic definitions, geography lessons and reading recommendations.

Small Things Considered won a Peabody and other major awards after its first year on the air but generated some heat between WNYC and NPR, prompting the show to change its name to Kids America. Distributed nationally by American Public Radio, the show was a success as the nation’s only live daily radio program for children. It ended after nearly four years on the air. Replacement funding failed to materialize, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) was no longer willing to underwrite half of the show’s budget in an increasingly competitive public radio marketplace.[2]

The Fiorello H. La Guardia Telecommunications Center

Fortunately for Nichols, the bulk of the studio renovations took place while she was in Philadelphia, sparing her the headache of ad hoc operations in the midst of major construction. What was state-of-the-art for radio in 1937 was replaced with state-of-the-art in 1985; a real sea-change going from tubes to solid state and transistors. With significant planning and support from Chuck Corcoran, Chief of Operations, and Nichols’ dedicated staff, the ribbon cutting ceremony (below) of December 11, 1985 was made possible.

Nichols oversaw the revamping of the FM schedule to emphasize live series like the “Mostly Mozart” concerts from Lincoln Center and New York Cabaret Nights, as well as existing broadcasts from the Frick Collection, the BAM Chamber Music Series, New Sounds at Merkin Hall, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Collaborations with a variety of cultural institutions resulted in special programs like “Censorship,” based on the New York Public Library’s major exhibition in 1984. Nichols brought Leonard Lopate on board in 1985. Her programming for women gained a brief funding foothold with Speaking for Ourselves, and then New Sounds began national distribution. Radio listenership spiked for both AM and FM. The FM and TV transmitters were moved to the World Trade Center by the end of 1986. The following year David Garland launched Spinning on Air.

During this period, major changes came to WNYC-TV as well, bringing it into its own, rather than being a shadow of WNET. About 18 months after Nichols’ return, Channel 31′s viewership had increased more than seven-fold from 90,000 to 698,000. By July of 1986, much of WNYC TV’s daytime air was being leased out to independent Japanese, Italian and Chinese producers aiming shows at those particular foreign language communities in the city. To be sure, it was an unusual arrangement for a public television station, but doable since Channel 31 was a commercial license.  Along with the non-for-profit WNYC Foundation, this was welcome change for the WNYC Communications Group cash flow.

WNYC’s 65th Anniversary

The station’s 65th anniversary year in 1989 provided an opportunity to really highlight some gems from the past while also revitalizing the seemingly quaint medium of radio drama. The Radio Stage debuted in April of that year, the result of a two year collaboration between WNYC and many of the city’s finest theaters. The eleven-part series featured new works by Elizabeth Swados, Wendy Wasserstein, Thomas Babe, Len Jenkin and Eric Overmyer and included Joan Allen, Victor Garber, Carol Kane and ensembles like Mambou Mines and John Houseman’s The Acting Company. 1989 also saw the hiring of Brian Lehrer as host of On The Line.

On the legal and technical side, Nichols worked closely with Execuitive Officer Evelyn Junge and Operations Chief Chuck Corcoran to get WNYC-AM to a place where it no longer had to sign off at sundown, a vestige of the longest running frequency dispute in FCC history. This included moving the transmitter to New Jersey and a frequency shift from 830 to 820 kilocycles. But perhaps more radical was the brief jolt she sent through the listening audience shortly before she left in 1990 by announcing the firing of Morning Music host Steve Post during a station fundraiser in late March. She claimed the dismissal was based on a variety of crimes, including allegations of “financial and military ties between myself and various fascist dictators.” The announcement was soon revealed to be an early April Fools Day prank, as she said Post would be restored to the air if enough listeners pledged to become members.[3]

____________________________________

[1]  Reminiscences of Mary Perot Nichols, Columbia University Center for Oral History Collection (hereafter CUCOHC), pg. 6.

[2] Yarrow, Andrew, “Children’s Radio Show is Canceled,” The New York Times, January 2, 1988, pg. 17.

[3] Andersen, Susan Heller, “Chronicle,” The New York Times, March 29, 1990, pg. B24.

Special thanks to Eliza Nichols, Evelyn Junge, Mary Daly and B.J. Kowalski.

By the Numbers

The holdings of the National Archives are vast. With more than 12 billion pages of textual records alone, it is essential that we continue to explore and employ innovative strategies to provide effective access. By understanding how you currently access our records and better understanding your unique needs, we will be better positioned to ensure your success in using the country’s records.

Women from are getting into vocational schools to learn war work
Analyzing our work.
From Record Group 208: Records of the Office of War Information, 1926 – 1951. National Archives Identifier: 535579

 

Here’s what some of our data shows:

Physical Visits:

Number of visits to all NARA facilities in FY2014: 4,163,905; up from 4,112,813 in FY13

  • Number of visits to our exhibits in FY2014: 3,451,044; up from 3,204,642 in FY13
  • Number of researcher visits to all NARA facilities in FY2014: 104,366; down from 114,096 in FY13

Number of written requests answered by all NARA offices in FY2014: 1,065,513; down from 1,132,525 in FY13

  • Number of written requests (includes fax, letter, email) received by all NARA archival offices in FY2014: 114,577; down from 122,442 in FY13
  • Number of written requests received by the St. Louis Military Personnel Records Center in FY2014: 950,936; down from 1,010,083 in FY13

Website and Online Catalog:

  • Traffic to Archives.gov: We had 31,093,042 visits from 22,869,469 visitors who viewed 86,729,808 pages, up 6% from FY13
  • Percentage of online users

[ Read all ]

Harbor Press Ephemera

Here in Archives & Special Collections we have a large and interesting collection of fine press books — that is, the work of small presses that produced, in limited numbers, books featuring design, typography, paper, ink and illustrations of the finest quality. It has been my lucky task this week to organize and catalog our wonderful collection of one of those fine printers, the Harbor Press, which operated in New York City from 1925 to 1942.  Specifically, I am working on our collection of Harbor Press ephemera — not its books, but all the flyers, greeting cards, advertisements, labels, letterheads, trade cards, bookplates, etc., which the Press produced for hundreds of commercial businesses, individuals, and, as we shall see, for itself, too.

HP-SH-1935-Book-26-EndDeviceWithPressName

The Harbor Press was the creation of two young men, John Fass and Roland Wood (AC 1920), together with his wife Elizabeth Wood. The two men had formerly worked together at the printing and publishing house of William Edwin Rudge at Mount Vernon, New York. While at Rudge, they had worked alongside renowned book designer Bruce Rogers, and it is clear that Rogers’ modernist yet classical design sensibility had a significant influence on the consistently precise, elegant, and finely crafted ornamental style for which the Harbor Press became famous. Fass was mainly responsible for the design, and Roland Wood for the printing.

John Fass (1890-1973)
Roland Wood (1897-1967)

The Harbor Press was famous for its logo featuring a seahorse. The seahorse appeared in dozens of different versions on many Harbor Press productions. Often it appeared astride an anchor — a visual homage, perhaps, to the dolphin-and-anchor device of the Aldine Press, founded by the master printer of the Italian Renaissance, Aldus Manutius.

HP-SH-1935-Book-21
HP-SH-1935-Book-15
HP-SH-1935-Book-12
HP-SH-1934-H2-5
HP-SH-1937-How-RegionalRhymes-Colophon-Ordinary
HP-SH-1926-B17
HP-SH-1926-B4
HP-SH-1931-How-NurseryRhymes-Prospectus
HP-SH-1931-H8
HP-SH-1931-H2
HP-SH-1930-L2-WithOrnaments
HP-SH-1928-N4-InTypeOrnaments
HP-SH-1928-Ir8
HP-SH-1927-L5
HP-SH-1927-Am4
HP-SH-1926-L7
HP-SH-1926-Ir8-WithStars
HP-SH-1926-Ir8
HP-SH-1926-F5
HP-SH-1926-C4a
HP-SH-1935-Book-14
HP-SH-1935-Book-16
HP-SH-1936-H8

The Harbor Press designed and printed special editions of works by famous authors for large commercial publishers like Random House and Harper and Brothers, as well as for New York’s most influential bibliophiles: the members of the Grolier Club and the Typophiles.

HP-RandomHouse-1931-Faulkner-Colophon

The Harbor Press Ephemera Collection offers a wealth of typographic loveliness and lots of mid-20th-century whimsy:

HP-TrinityAuditAle-Label
HP-HP-MiltonQuote
HP-Fass-Bookplate-1926-B4
HP-How-NurseryRhymes-Battery-Ad
HP-HP-AnnouncementOfStartup-Front
HP-HP-Beer

The collection also includes dozens of original printing plates and samples of letterpress type.

HP-SH-BlocksForPrinting

 

Fass and Wood ceased their partnership and closed the Press at the beginning of World War II. Wood pursued a career in acting, while Fass continued working as a leading book designer for leading American publishers as well as a graphic designer specializing in typography for advertising.

The finding aid to the collection will be available soon. In the meantime, enjoy this visual sampling!

The First World War: a postcard with news of Déchelette’s death

In the Institute’s archive there is an old album of postcards collected by Francis Haverfield (1860-1919). We were looking through it when we came across this poignant postcard from Salomon Reinach. Reinach confirms the news that the great archaeologist Joseph Déchelette had been killed in action.

dechelette003

Reinach writes: “Alas! it is true; Déchelette, aged 53 … insisted on going to the front and was struck dead by a shell. It is an immense … loss, but his manuscript was almost finished.”

This month marks the centenary of Déchelette’s death: he died on the 4th October 1914. He was one of the first scholars to identify the link between La Tène culture and the Celts.

dechelette004

All the Serious Artists Have Moved to the East Village

This is the third and final installment of Pan Am’s audio walking tour of New York City.  The clip features areas of the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, and Washington Square Park, and much like the two previously posted tours (Midtown and Central Park), the audio offers a lighthearted jaunt that belies the big changes these neighborhoods would face in the near future.   The guide describes the influx of artists into post-manufacturing districts like Soho, the rapidly changing ethnic enclaves of the Lower East Side, and the newly minted ”East Village”, a neighborhood that was just beginning to develop its own identify. Listen to highlights of the three neighborhoods described below and see the interactive map for the full tour.  

The Lower East Side
This section describes the recent influx of Puerto Ricans into the traditionally Jewish areas of the LES as a rather pleasant and relaxed transition.  ”Spanish and Yiddish now seem to be locked in a benevolent struggle for the right to be called the official language of the neighborhood. If there was ever a part of New York that deserved the name international melting pot, then the Lower East Side is it. This district, with its unpretentious, congested living quarters has given the city some of its most successful people in all walks of life.” 

SoHo and The Cast Iron District
Moving on from the LES, the guide takes you to the corner of West Houston and Broadway, an area that was still full of artists inhabiting the huge loft spaces and cast iron district buildings where the upscale shops of boutiques of SoHo now reside. The guide offers a rather strange suggestion that tourists should randomly knock on doors of buildings and that “the artists would welcome a visit from you, in the hope that their creations might attract your attention.”

Washington Square
Young People, Guitars, and Protest Signs —they are part of village life.  The guide describes the village as New York’s counter part of the Left Bank, despite the fact that “most of the serious artists have moved to an area now called the East Village.” 

 

There will be more than one archival screening at the Vancity Theatre this November!

This fall, the City of Vancouver Archives will present its fifth annual screening “Vancouver – A Progressive City!” at the Vancity Theatre. In recent years, our screenings have been very popular. So, for the first time this November, we will be showing multiple screenings.

In collaboration with local historian Michael Kluckner, we will be presenting new material that focuses on Vancouver from the 1930s-1960s. There will be selections from a wide range of newsreels, home movies, industrial and promotional films.

Flight attendant passing a film to a man at the airport. 1946.  Reference code: AM1184-S1-: CVA 1184-2349. Note: This photograph has been altered for promotional purposes.

Flight attendant passing a film to a man at the airport. 1946. Reference code: AM1184-S1-: CVA 1184-2349. (Note: This photograph has been altered for promotional purposes.)

Michael Kluckner will also provide historical commentary with emphasis on Vancouver’s workforce, celebrations, and the city’s commerce, heritage and culture. Some of this year’s archival highlights will include the construction of the Lions Gate Bridge, early milk delivery service, the Grey Cup and Shriners parades, and television spots reporting on the community. The screening will also feature a special cameo appearance of Vancouver’s first city archivist, Major J.S. Matthews.

Portrait of Major J.S. Matthews. 1961. Reference code: AM54-S4-: Port N941.1.

The archival films were produced with and without soundtracks. For the silent portions, renowned jazz pianist Wayne Stewart will provide live musical accompaniment. We are delighted to be working with Wayne again. His musical touches have brought to life the mood and sentiment of these historical films.

The preservation and accessibility of these archival films would not be possible if it were not for our digital conservator, Sue Bigelow. Before the screening, she will speak about the challenges behind preserving and digitizing our moving image collection.

An archives volunteer uses a shrinkage gauge to measure how much the film has shrunk over time. Film that has shrunk significantly must be handled with extra care when being digitized.

An archives volunteer uses a shrinkage gauge to measure how much the film has shrunk over time. Film that has shrunk significantly must be handled with extra care when being digitized.

In recent years, our annual screenings have sold out, and the theatre has had to turn away many hopeful theatre-goers. This year, we will hold two 2:30 matinee screenings of “Vancouver – A Progressive City!” on November 2nd and November 30th.

Man sitting on chair in front of the Orpheum Theatre ticket booth. 1934. Reference code: AM1535-: CVA 99-4674.

We have also received numerous requests to bring back screenings from previous years. So, back by popular demand, and in collaboration with Michael Kluckner and Wayne Stewart, we will be re-screening our 2012 show, “Vintage Vancouver” at 7:30 pm on November 2nd.

Check out the videos below for a preview of “Vancouver – A Progressive City” and “Vintage Vancouver”. Hope to see you there!

Norman McLaren: Umbrian angels and stereoscopic drawings

A highlight of this year’s McLaren 2014 celebrations was the screening at the Edinburgh International Film Festival of Norman McLaren’s stunning 3-D films from the early 1950s, painstakingly digitally-restored by the National Film Board of Canada. The fascinating history of these ‘lost’ films was recently told on the Canadian Animation Blog, and the films will receive another screening at MoMa in New York in November.

McLaren’s interest in the creative possibilities of stereographic art is recorded in a set of papers which were recently donated to the University of Stirling Archives by Prof. Harold Layer of San Francisco State University. Prof. Layer corresponded with McLaren in the 1970s and 1980s about his 3-D film work, these letters forming part of the collection. It also includes copies of stereoscopic drawings and paintings created by McLaren in the 1940s which Prof. Layer has documented on a very useful online resource.

Stereoscopic portrait (left and right) by Norma McLaren, 1944.

Stereoscopic portrait (left and right) by Norma McLaren, 1944.

The material also includes a set of reports and articles written by McLaren in the 1940s and 1950s, noting the new approaches offered by stereographic drawing and providing technical notes for the 3-D films he produced for the National Film Board of Canada. In 1946 McLaren wrote a proposal for the Guggenheim Museum in New York, seeking support for his research into the new field of sterographics which he defined as “the art of doing a separate drawing, painting, sculpture or mobile for each eye, which when viewed together, will synthesize a new additional dimension.”

Honeycomb, Stereoscopic painting (left and right) by Norman McLaren, c 1946.

Honeycomb, Stereoscopic painting (left and right) by Norman McLaren, c 1946.

McLaren argued that this method of drawing offered “Freedom from the physical laws of a three-dimensional world.” He went on to argue that:

“The laws of physics such as balance and gravity need not operate in this type of three-dimensional space created by stereoscopic synthesis. Apparently solid objects, heavy substances, complex structures and liquid matter may float in space, needing no support and existing by a sort of auto-suspension. The renaissance painter, with his growing awareness, gradually realized that he, on his flat surfaces, was released from such laws, and the first Umbrian angels who rose a few timid inches from the ground were soon to lead the imagination to a magnificent world of soaring form. Today’s stereographic drawings are like those Umbrian angels, for they point to a world where angels may ascend with a new magnificence into the very three-dimensional substance of space itself.” (Ref. GAA 31/F/7/2/2)

A later annotation to this document shows that many of McLaren’s plans remained unrealized. In the introduction of the paper he wrote that:

“It is my intention to go much further, and open up stereography as a creative medium. I am writing this paper on the basis of my past researches, my present conclusions, and my future plans.”

Beside the words “future plans” McLaren added an annotation in red pencil in 1980 which read “unfulfilled as yet.”

Happy American Archives Month

Beverly (MA) High School is a happening place!  Last week BHS graduate Angie Miller, an American Idol finalist visited.  And the day after, AOTUS spent the day—the first time since June of 1963!

As I said many times during the day, it was not the same Beverly High School that I left.  I was tremendously impressed with the seamless integration of technology throughout, the active participation of the students in the learning experience, and the excitement of the students hosting a visitor from Washington.

AOTUS at classroom at Beverly High School
David Ferriero visits student classrooms at Beverly High School. Photo by The Salem News

I got to visit classrooms, chop onions and garlic in a culinary arts class, and speak to hundreds of students in an afternoon assembly.  I wanted to make my time with them as meaningful as possible so suggested that we do some crowdsourcing of questions in advance.  Lots of great questions arrived which sorted neatly into four categories:  the records, the job, the institution, and personal questions.

What type of documents do you archive?  Do you read all of them? What happens if you touch an historical document?  What is your role in government?  What are your daily duties?  What is your salary?  How do you keep it all organized?  Is there very tight security in the archives?  What do you wear to work?  Have you ever … [ Read all ]

Commemorating Paul A. M. Dirac

On October 20, 1984, Paul A.M. Dirac passed away in his adopted home of Tallahassee, Florida.

Dirac moved to Tallahassee to teach at Florida State University in 1971 after visiting in June of that year to make sure he could handle the heat of Florida’s summers. He also appreciated the faculty of the growing physics department at FSU and that his colleagues treated the Nobel Prize winner like he was simply one of their own.

Paul Dirac is pictured in his office with his last graduate student, Bruce Hellman.
Paul Dirac pictured in his office at FSU with his last graduate student, Bruce Hellman. [See Full Description]

In a 2009 Florida State Times article, former colleagues remembered the at times eccentric physicist during his time here. He loved to walk, saying it gave him time to think and appreciated his daily “commute” to his office at FSU. He was also a man who spoke only when he had something to say. Steve Edwards, Professor Emeritus, Dean of the Faculties and Deputy Provost Emeritus., Ph.D., remembered, “for 12 years I had lunch with Paul Dirac. It was very enlightening, although on some days it was perfectly all right to sit there for an hour and not say anything to each other.”

Dirac is buried at Roselawn Cemetery in Tallahassee. Memorials to his memory in his childhood home in Bristol, England and in Saint-Maurice, Switzerland where his father’s family was from, can also be visited. In 1995, a commemorative stone for Dirac was added to Westminster Abbey in London, England. It is inscribed with the Dirac Equation.

Farewell to PIDB Member Martin Faga

MartinFagaPodiumFaga with Bush 41

Letter Declassifying the NRONRO Memorandum for Release

On behalf of the members of the Public Interest Declassification Board, I would like to thank our colleague, Martin Faga, for his dedicated service as he concludes his third term as a member on the PIDB.  Marty has made substantial contributions while on the PIDB, including service as the Acting Chair.  He was appointed by President George W. Bush as an inaugural member of the PIDB and was present at its first meeting on Saturday, February 25, 2006.  Marty’s advocacy for modernizing the security classification system is long-standing, from his service as Director of the National Reconnaissance Office to his service as a member of the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Secrecy.  As a member of the PIDB, he helped craft many of our recommendations, including simplifying the classification system and adopting a risk-based standard on decisions to classify information or not.  He advocated for modernization as a necessity to improve government effectiveness and as essential to build trust with our citizens and aid democratic discourse.

Marty played a critical role in efforts to expand our outreach to stakeholders and involve the public and government as we crafted and revised our recommendations to the President.  He was instrumental in writing both of the PIDB’s Reports to the President, Improving Declassification in December 2007 and Transforming the Security Classification System in November 2012.  Marty possesses a unique understanding of how secrecy affects the functioning of our government and its ability to provide timely information to others in government as well as the public, especially concerning the operation of the intelligence community and its missions critical to our nation’s security interests.  He has been a vocal advocate for the need to modernize access policies and integrate technological solutions in order to reform the security classification system for the digital era.  We have valued and benefited from Marty’s expertise and vast experience and hope he will continue to contribute to the PIDB in his new emeriti status.  On behalf of the PIDB, I thank you, Marty, for your commitment, thoughtfulness, and friendship during your service to the PIDB.  We will greatly miss you and we wish you the best both personally and professionally.

Clyde Pride!

Drama and theater have long played an important role in student life at Amherst College. Our Dramatic Activities Collection contains evidence of student and faculty performances all the way back to the early 19th century. Clyde Fitch (Class of 1886) was a major force in student theatricals, both on and off the stage, during his time at Amherst. He went on to become one of the most popular playwrights in the United States; a spectacular career that was cut short by his untimely death in 1909. On Thursday, October 23, 2014 we are holding an event in the Clyde Fitch Room in Converse Hall to celebrate the life and career of Clyde Fitch as part of LGBT History Month.

The Country Girl 1884 2

Clyde Fitch in “The Country Girl” at Amherst College, 1884.

Although we celebrate him as an icon of Queer history at Amherst, it would be inappropriate (and anachronistic) to project our modern notions of “homosexual” or “gay” onto Clyde Fitch. George Chauncy’s book Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 is extremely useful, especially since Clyde Fitch spent much of his post-Amherst life in New York City. Kim Marra’s essay “Clyde Fitch’s Too Wilde Love” (in Staging Desire: Queer Readings of American Theater History) presents clear archival evidence of Fitch’s personal relationship with Oscar Wilde, and suggests they may have been lovers. Both Chauncy and Marra point out the difficulty of recovering Queer history when faced with active efforts to conceal and destroy evidence. It is likely that more letters between Fitch and Wilde were destroyed than have survived.

Cast of "The Rivals" at Amherst College, 1885. (Fitch seated, far right)

Cast of “The Rivals” at Amherst College, 1885. (Fitch seated, far right)

What we can say for certain is that Clyde Fitch was known for his great skill in playing female roles on stage as well as for costuming other performers and decorating stage sets. The Archives is filled with photographs of Amherst men in drag, so cross-dressing should not be immediately conflated with homosexuality, but, by all accounts, Fitch’s whole character was distinctly effeminate. Writing about him in the May 1928 Amherst Graduates’ Quarterly, Chilton Powell quotes Fitch as saying: “I knew of course that every boy regarded me as a sissy; but I would rather be misunderstood than lose my independence” (162).

Clyde Fitch. ca. 1886.

Clyde Fitch. ca. 1886.

After leaving Amherst, Fitch moved to New York City where he struggled to build a literary career. During the summer months he traveled to Europe and London, where he met Oscar Wilde, likely during the summer of 1888. While abroad, Fitch fully embraced the aestheticism of Wilde and his circle. Upon his return home, Fitch wrote his first successful play about the man who defined dandyism for the nineteenth century: Beau Brummell.

"Beau Brummell" Program. Chicago, 1890.

“Beau Brummell” Program. Chicago, 1890.

“Beau Brummell” premiered at Madison Square Garden in New York City on 17 May 1890 and was an instant success. It subsequently toured the major cities of America and launched Fitch’s career as a dramatist.

Early review of "Beau Brummell" (1890)

Early review of “Beau Brummell” (1890)

Fitch wrote thirty-three original plays, twenty-three adaptations, along with a novel and a book of stories for children. At one point, five of his plays were running on Broadway simultaneously. Fitch’s friend Oscar Wilde also had a great success in 1890 with the publication of The Picture of Dorian Gray in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. Fitch’s own novel was published in Lippincott’s the following year.

Clyde Fitch. A Wave of Life. 1891.

Clyde Fitch. A Wave of Life. 1891.

Although his works are nearly forgotten today, Clyde Fitch was both a major influence on the shape of American theater and a noted celebrity until his death in 1909. This caricature of Fitch by artist Ernest Haskell gives us a glimpse into how Fitch was viewed by his contemporaries:

Clyde Fitch by Ernest Haskell.

Clyde Fitch by Ernest Haskell.

Amherst College is fortunate to have extensive holdings that document the life and works of Clyde Fitch. The Archives holds The W. Clyde Fitch Collection along with the books from his personal library. Our Clyde Pride event will be held in the Fitch Room in Converse Hall — a reproduction of the study from Fitch’s home at 113 East 40th Street in New York. The room and the collections were the gift of Clyde Fitch’s mother in 1913.

The Fitch Room, as it was in 1950.

The Fitch Room, as it was in 1950.

  • More information about Oscar Wilde and his circle is available through The British Library.
  • Letters that Clyde Fitch sent to Oscar Wilde are part of the Oscar Wilde Collection at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at UCLA.

Read All About It! Archives of the Scottish Newspaper Society come to Stirling

The University of Stirling Archives has received a new collection of material which provides a new resource for those interested in the history of the Scottish newspaper industry. The Scottish Newspaper Society is a trade organisation representing local, regional and national Scottish newspapers. Its role is to represent, protect and promote the industry. The collection includes the archives of the Society and a number of organisations it replaced / merged with over the years including the Scottish Daily Newspaper Society, the Scottish Newspapers Proprietors Association and the Scottish Newspapers Publishers Association.

Letterhead of the Scottish Daily Newspaper Society, c 1945.

Letterhead of the Scottish Daily Newspaper Society, 1940s.

The collection includes memorabilia dating back to 1915 but the earliest papers present come from the mid 1940s and detail the effect of the Second World War on the industry. The minutes of a meeting of the Scottish Newspaper Proprietors Association from 12th June 1943 begin with a statement from the Executive Committee noting that:

“For another year the meetings of the Association have been interrupted by the World War and it has been impossible to arrange for more than a one-day Conference. The improvement, however, in the Military situation raises the hope that the day when our meetings can be resumed in a fuller degree, may not be too far away.”

The war time minutes record the challenges faced by newspapers during the conflict which included loss of manpower, price and supply of newsprint, and censorship and reporting of events.

The next meeting of the Scottish Newspaper Proprietors Association, held in Edinburgh on 9th October 1943, was attended by Admiral Thomson, the Chief Censor. He reminded those present that newspapers should refrain from publishing anything that may be of value to the enemy and gave some examples of material to be avoided including:

  1. Those items which identified a unit or formation by number or which identified the location of a unit
  2. Matters relating to aircraft crashed in this country
  3. Reports of where and when an airman was missing

The extensive minutes and reports of these organisations provide information on a range of issues which concerned the newspaper industry including industrial relations, press regulation, delivery and distribution of local newspapers, advertising and circulation. The changing face of Scottish newspapers can be traced in a collection which stretches from war-time emergency to the challenges of a 21st century digital market.

Campaign against proposed rise in VAT on local and regional newspapers, 1987.

Campaign against proposed rise in VAT on local and regional newspapers, 1987.

Trinity University Special Collections and Archives 2014-10-17 10:32:00

Interested in Erotic Art? Holy art? Classic Literature?

Check out:

The Anatomy of a Book: A Barry Moser Exhibit

Come to our Opening Reception: October 30, 2014, 4:30-5:30pm to hear from the curator of this exhibit, view the exhibit, and enjoy refreshments. Learn what Moser means when he refers to himself as a “booksmith”. Read insightful quotes from the artist. Enjoy incredible illustrations.

Most of all, come and learn what makes a book, a book, in the hands of a master book artist.
If you can’t make it to the opening reception, stop by Special Collections and Archives (Library, Room 208) during our open hours, typically Monday-Friday 1:15-5pm (check this calendar for up to date hours: http://libguides.trinity.edu/archives) between now and April.
This exhibit is a celebration of the author, essayist, teacher, and illustrator, Barry Moser, most known for his engraved illustrations.  However, as you will see in this exhibit, he does so much more. He has completed works ranging from classic literature like The Scarlet Letter: A Romance to beloved children’s books such as Jump! The Adventures of Brer Rabbit to religious works like the Bible.  Come and see these amazing works (among many others!) and learn the intricacies that go into designing a Barry Moser masterpiece.
This display was made possible by the generous donation of the limited-edition Pennyroyal Caxton Bible (No. 229 of 400 copies).  This was a wonderful gift of Bruce and Suzie Kovner.

–Brandi Russell, Trinity Student (Class of 2015)

Bring out your film and video! It’s Home Movie Day 2014

Join amateur-film enthusiasts, film and video archivists, and your neighbours for Home Movie Day 2014, this Saturday, October 18 at the Hangar at the Centre for Digital Media. Home Movie Day is a free public event celebrating amateur film and video and honouring the unique contribution of home movies to our understanding of social and cultural history. Home Movie Day is a volunteer-driven international initiative, and this year, events will be held in Japan, Wales, Indonesia, and Austria, among many other countries. The Vancouver edition will be hosted by the Audio-Visual Heritage Association of British Columbia (AVBC) and the Centre for Digital Media (CDM). Check out the Facebook page!

Fun for one and all! Source: Home Movie Day, Center for Home Movies.

Fun for one and all! Source: Home Movie Day, Center for Home Movies.

Home Movie Day is a chance to find out what’s on those old reels or cassettes in your attic, chat with an archivist about care and preservation of your movies, discuss a transfer with a vendor, and share your discoveries and memories with the community, if you wish. Last year, 22 people brought in films on 8mm, Super 8, and 16mm. Among the highlights:

  • A participant brought in an 8mm film, shot on glorious Kodachrome, of his parents’ wedding in early 1960s Uganda
  • An experimental time-lapse film from the late 1970s/early 1980s wowed the audience
  • A couple celebrating their 50th year of marriage saw the film of their wedding for the first time

Below is a 1928 home movie from our motion picture film collection: Greencroft – Badminton ’28. Reference code AM1036-S10-:MI-140.

 

This year, Home Movie Day will include video as well as film! Video archivists will be on hand to assist in format identification and advise on preservation, and playback decks will be available for VHS and DV/MiniDV cassettes, popular formats in the 1980s and ’90s.

The classic SMPTE colour bars. Who else automatically hears the test tone when they see this image? Source: Denelson83, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons.

The classic SMPTE colour bars. Who else automatically hears the test tone when they see this image? Source: Denelson83, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons.

Don’t have any home movies lurking in a forgotten corner of your house? Come out and enjoy some popcorn, and see what your fellow Vancouverites have to share. The screening will include home movies from the City of Vancouver Archives’ holdings, as well as a selection of orphan films. October 18 has been proclaimed Home Movie Day in the City of Vancouver. See you there!

Home Movie day 2014 proclamation, City of Vancouver

Home Movie day 2014 proclamation, City of Vancouver

Date: Saturday, October 18, 2014

Time: 12-4pm

Place: The Hangar at the CDM, 577 Great Northern Way, Vancouver

Accepted film formats for playback: 16mm, 8mm, Super 8

Accepted video formats for playback: VHS, DV, MiniDV

My Career as a Special Collections Archivist

burtaltman

Now on the verge of retirement from Florida State University Libraries after 34 years, and as my contribution to Archives Month, I’d like to reflect on my work experience as an archivist in the Division of Special Collections and Archives. I wanted to share with you not only the unique aspects of my professional career but also describe some of the most interesting collections I’ve processed, my observations on how the field has evolved, and how I’d like to transfer these experiences and skills into my retirement. I am hoping that for my fellow FSU library colleagues and students wishing to enter the archives field that my narrative will provide an insight into not only how diversified archival work can be, but also how projects can be accomplished with limited resources, and how professional practices in archives have changed over time.

AT THE BEGINNING…….SERVING AS A CONGRESSIONAL ARCHIVIST

Because the better part of my tenure at FSU Libraries was serving as the archivist of the Claude Pepper Library, most of this story will be devoted to that work.  I arrived in Special Collections in 1981 and was originally hired as the congressional archivist to arrange, describe, and make accessible the Claude Pepper Papers.  Because of the enormous size of the collection, the Papers were housed in a separate room in Strozier Library, and I was fortunate to have a library para-professional and two student assistants to process the collection. The first 900 boxes of the collection originally arrived in 1979, but a library para-professional with little or no archival experience began to arrange the collection. Unfortunately, a portion of the collection had to be reprocessed and it took another ten years to acquire additional materials and to make it accessible.  By that time, the collection and its staff had moved to at least three different locations in Strozier.  Furthermore, in preparation for the opening of the Claude Pepper Library (originally the Mildred and Claude Pepper Library, as a tribute to the Congressman’s late wife) portions of the collection were stored in the old Post Office on Woodward Avenue and the old Dodd Hall Reading Room (now the Florida Heritage Museum) while Dodd Hall was being renovated. I moved into the new Pepper Library facilities at the Claude Pepper Center in 1997.

It was exciting to finally be in a permanent location.  I found my work at the Pepper Library most enjoyable and satisfying.  The collection was fascinating, too. Congressman Pepper served over 40 years combined in the U.S. Senate and House, and his papers truly document all the major events of the 20th Century.  I originally met Congressman Pepper and his staff several times when we were planning the original Pepper Library in Dodd Hall, and continued to work with them at the Pepper Center and with the architect who designed and built the adjoining Claude Pepper Museum.

In my earlier years working at Dodd Hall, I joined the Society of American Archivists’ (SAA) Congressional Papers Roundtable, an association that continues to this day.  Through my contacts in the early 2000s, I learned that several congressional archives were beginning to digitize their collections. After I visited some of these institutions, and fortunately with the support of the Claude Pepper Foundation and FSU Libraries, John Nemmers, my archivist colleague at Pepper, and I proposed and implemented a digitization project. Over a period of three years (2001-2003), we and several student assistants selected materials to be scanned and made available on our new Claude Pepper website. We also prepared metadata for discovery of the materials and monitored search traffic to the website on a monthly basis. To publicize the project, we also wrote an article for the American Archivist; it served as a case study about how the value of digitization projects and how online finding aids can increase the use of archival collections.

Unfortunately, because Microsoft no longer provided server support for the software client we used for digitization and access, we had to discontinue our project. About that time, the FSU Libraries developed a long-range vision to create a repository of Florida political papers, not just congressional papers but those of Florida governors and senators as well. Subsequently, we began to acquire other papers of Florida statesmen, notably the Reubin Askew Papers, and transferred other Florida political papers from Special Collections & Archives housed in Strozier.  In addition, during the early 2000s, the FSU Libraries began developing a disaster preparedness program and created a “disaster plan working group;” I served as its preservation officer.  It was a monumental task, but our preservation “team” representing all FSU Libraries contributed to the development of the plan.  It has periodically been updated since that time.

Up until the time I began processing this collection, my archival experience had been limited to arranging and describing a collection of 18th Century deeds and other land records between settlers and Indian tribes in Long Island. Before I came to FSU, I lived in Long Island and worked at a local historical society. Once I arrived here, since I was the only archivist in the FSU Libraries (known in professional circles as a “lone archivist”), I had to reach out for help to the staff at the State Archives of Florida and begin attending SAA workshops to gain experience. This really paid off when it came time to reprocess and to add more materials.  However, since the concept of “More Product, Less Process” (MPLP) for archival materials hadn’t caught on yet in the 1980s, processing work was more time-intensive because staff had been removing all the original staples from attached documents and were counting all the documents in every folder! Because I was an archival “greenhorn” when I first arrived, I continued this practice but learned from my professional peers that these kinds of tasks weren’t absolutely necessary when working with large congressional papers. So the practice stopped. And by the time MPLP came to light in the early 2000s, we no longer arranged and described these large collections down to the individual document level. Furthermore, as long as the temperature and humidity were fairly stable, we no longer saw the need to remove every staple, either.

BECOMING A MANUSCRIPTS ARCHIVIST AT STROZIER

Because there was a growing need to reduce the backlog of archives and manuscripts that were gathering in Special Collections & Archives, and since additional archivists could not be hired to process university and non-university collections due to limited resources, priorities changed and I was transferred to Strozier in 2006 as the sole Special Collections archivist.  Since that time, and with the help of a student assistant, intern, and a graduate assistant, we eliminated this backlog. I supervised the students, interns, and a graduate assistant and it was great experience, because they were fascinated by the work and I enjoyed teaching and training them in archival practices for a variety of individual, family, and organizational collections.

CHANGING TECHNOLOGY

To describe these collections through archival finding aids, many of which were created in HTML, the Digital Library Center’s digital archivist created a template to encode the finding aid using the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) standard, and content was entered in the template from older finding aids and new collections with the text editor NoteTab.  After some initial training, the staff created finding aids, through NoteTab, to all of their archives and manuscript holdings (including the Shaw Collection). To present the finding aid on the web, the Digital Library Center exported the EAD content through a stylesheet using DigiTool.  I soon learned that it was not a practical tool for creating archival finding aids. There were too many false and irrelevant search results and it was not clear where in the particular collection searched the content could be found.

As more and more Special Collections repositories began using Archon, a platform for archival description and access, Special Collections & Archives decided that Archon provided a more user-friendly way for archival staff to record descriptive information about collections and digital objects and for end-users to view, search, and browse this content through the web.

However, it soon became evident that since finding aids existed in a variety of formats (Paper, HTML, DigiTool, Archon), it was difficult to discover what we really owned. Therefore, shortly after these backlogged collections were processed, I found myself part of a team headed by our Associate Dean of Special Collections, and consisting of the digital archivist, three professionals, and our library associate.   We became engaged in a major project to locate missing collections, classify collections properly as to whether they were university or non-university materials, and consolidate smaller collections into parent collections, since they were all part of one collection. Fortunately, we have now assessed what needs to be done and are in the process of parceling out projects to complete one major goal: enable discovery of our archives and manuscripts through one venue: Archon.

FAVORITE COLLECTIONS I’VE PROCESSED

As manuscript archivist, I processed quite an interesting variety of collections.  These ranged from Antebellum Civil War Plantation Records, to Florida Railroad Company records, diaries, turpentine industry records, shipbuilding company records, FSU faculty papers, and church records.  Two in particular stand out:  the Stanley Gontarski Grove Press Research Materials and the Cinema Corporation of America Collection.

The Gontarski materials were used by Dr. Gontarski to research his forthcoming book about Barney Grove Press, and Barney Rosset, founder of Grove Press. What I found particularly intriguing, and which formed a major part of this collection, were the intelligence files Gontarski obtained from Rosset’s personal papers, compiled by various branches of American intelligence (FBI, CIA, U.S. Army Intelligence) under the Freedom of Information Act. For example, there were U.S. Department of Justice and CIA memoranda regarding pornography, offensive material, and actions taken against Grove Press for importation of the film “I Am Curious Yellow” and other films deemed offensive.

Scene from Original 1927 "King of Kings" motion picture
Scene from Original 1927 “King of Kings” motion picture

The Cinema Corporation of America Collection documents film director Cecil B. De Mille’s role in the founding of the company – based in South Florida — and its film distribution activities in later years under Vice President Alan F. Martin. Through the work of this company and Martin’s activities, DeMille’s most enduring film, “The King of Kings,” has been in constant theatrical and non-theatrical distribution since 1927. The collection is a real treasure trove for documenting American motion picture history and will have great research value for students in FSU’s College of Motion Pictures Arts. In this collection can be found such unique items as a publicity photo for the original 1927 silent “King of Kings” movie, as shown below.

LOOKING AHEAD TO THE FUTURE

Now that my career in the Division of Special Collections and Archives is coming to a close in a few short months, when I reflect on my professional work, experience in processing collections, supervising projects, and training potential archivists in this field, I intend after I retire to continue my involvement in the profession by keeping abreast of developments and technology, attending conferences, and networking with colleagues in Florida and across the nation. But more than this, my real passion is to share these insights with students through teaching archival courses, and would like to contribute towards creating an archival studies program at FSU.

These Charming Kids Tell Really Scary Stories

Kids are great at using stories to cope with frightening events in their lives.  In this audio, excerpted from WNYC’s 1979 storytelling festival, we hear some rather creative interpretations of Little Red Riding Hood and Dracula, as well a pretty decent joke about a talking skull.  Later in the episode, the theorist and scholar Brian Sutton-Smith talks about how kids often change, edit, and reinterpret stories to deal with the big and sometimes frightening matters in their lives.

Twenty five years ago, WNYC produced its first (and only) storytelling festival in New York City.  Along with live events in every borough, the station aired a week long series of programs devoted to both the story teller and the story scholar.  Unlike today’s emphasis on the genre’s more confessional or personal form, this series’ focus was more academic: each broadcast devoted itself to the origins and meaning of various oral history traditions, and the stories we hear are the kind of familiar allegoric tales meant to teach a lesson or enforce particular cultural norms.     

WNYC September 1979 Program Guide

That I May Remember: Scrapbooks from Florida State College for Women (1905-1947)

FSCW Marching Band next to Bryan Hall
FSCW Marching Band next to Bryan Hall. Photo from the Victoria J. Lewis Scrapbook (HP-2007-079)

Florida State University Special Collections & Archives Division is proud to present our Fall 2014 exhibit, “That I May Remember: Scrapbooks from Florida State College for Women (1905-1947),” which opens today in the Strozier Library Exhibit Space. This exhibit features scrapbooks from Heritage Protocol & University Archives.

The scrapbook is an expression of memories, unique to each individual. By preserving, collecting, and arranging everyday objects, the creators of scrapbooks shaped a visual narrative of their lives. “That I May Remember” explores the scrapbooks created by the students of Florida State College for Women (1905-1947). Although scrapbooks are generally created for the preservation of an individual’s memory, when taken as a whole, the FSCW scrapbook collection grants its viewers a rare insight into the history of FSCW and the women who made it was it was.  These scrapbooks tell the stories of students’ lives, school pride, friendships, and their contributions to the heritage of Florida State University.

“That I May Remember” will be open Monday-Friday from 10:00am-6:00pm in Strozier until December 1st.

Ring Around the Rosey: A Tony Schwartz Investigation

Tony Schwartz thought people should use tape recorders like cameras to capture meaningful events. Over the years he recorded more than 30,000 sound portraits of New York City life. These included cab drivers telling stories, zoo keepers feeding lions, elevator operators calling out floors and children singing nursery rhymes. The above look into a common childhood rhyme, as Schwartz found out, takes us back to a very different time and place.

For more than 30 years Schwartz produced a weekly program of sound portraits on WNYC. We recently found this broadcast in the Municipal Archives WNYC collection. The bulk of his WNYC, WBAI and Folkways tapes are now with the Library of Congress.

Declassification in Full of the 1954 Oppenheimer Hearing

The PIDB congratulates the Department of Energy’s Office of Classification Management for declassifying the complete 1954 Oppenheimer Hearing Transcript.  President Obama’s Second Open Government National Action Plan tasked Government agencies, including the Department of Energy, to systematically review and declassify historical data on nuclear activities.  The PIDB is pleased to see the Department of Energy actively working to declassify historical nuclear information and supporting the goals in the National Action Plan. According to the DOE’s OpenNet website, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) held a four-week, closed-door hearing in April and May of 1954 to determine the security clearance status of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer.  The AEC previously released a redacted form of the original transcript, In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer: Transcript of Hearing before Personnel Security Board, in 1954.  The Department of Energy has re-reviewed the nineteen volumes of transcripts and has released them in their entirety without any redactions.  For the first time, the public and historians can read and use these full transcripts and gain new insight into an aspect of U.S. Cold War and nuclear weapons policy history.   The PIDB also commends the Department of Energy for providing the public with specific information on how to view the newly declassified information and identify the previously redacted/segregated “Classified Testimony.”  This additional effort of creating a cross-reference volume entitled, “Record of Deletions” of the declassified portions will aid researchers in their understanding of the records, an important step in the support of open government and transparency.

Happy Birthday Lois Lenski!

Sketch from chapter 9 of Strawberry Girl
Sketch from chapter 9 of Strawberry Girl [See Full Description]

On October 14, 1893, Lois Lenski was born in Springfield, Ohio. She grew up and lived primarily in the midwest and northeast but because of poor health, starting in the 1940s, she often traveled to the south on doctor’s orders. In 1951, Lenski and her husband, Arthur Covey, built a house in Florida and spend increasing amounts of time in the South. It was thanks to her travels and eventual move to the American South that Lenski’s greatest works were born.

Strawberry Girl, a story about Florida Crackers in the early 1900s was inspired by Lenski’s time in Florida. An installment in a set of regional novels about children around the United States, it would win her the 1946 Newberry Medal and remains her most famous work.

The Lois Lenski Collection at Florida State University was started in the 1950s when the Libraries contacted Ms. Lenski asking for “even just a page or drawing from Strawberry Girl.” Initially, Lenski sent only two drawings but in 1958, she donated a larger collection of books, original drawings, articles and other items of interest to a Lenski or children’s literature scholar.

Lois Lenski with children at the Amos Public Library, Sidney, Ohio, 1961. [See Full Description]
Lois Lenski with children at the Amos Public Library, Sidney, Ohio, 1961. [See Full Description]

In the Spring of 2013, our Lois Lenski Collection was the focus of that semester’s Museum Object class. The course, a requirement of the Museum Studies minor at FSU, gives students a hands-on experience within the museum field. It requires the class to curate and design both a physical and online exhibit on their topic. You can view the online exhibit here.