Celebrating the Start of Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond Fusion: Larry Coryell on WQXR

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

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

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

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

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


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

Godby High Yearbooks Online

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

Spread from the 1975 Godby High Cougar [original item]

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

Making Access Happen in the Digital Era

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BC Gay and Lesbian Archives photographs now online!

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

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

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

Here are just a few examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Holiday in the Sun

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

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

Join us for July 4th at the National Archives!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can often take our founding documents for granted. I encourage all of us to take time during our Independence Day celebrations to read these documents and to pause and remember the difficult choices our nation’s Founders made and the meaning of these documents today.

I wish you all a safe and happy Independence Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Archives Reading room

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

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

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

Follow the ARCHI’VE trail…

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

Eubie Blake and the Keys to the Kingdom of Ragtime

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


WNYC archives id: 85307

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

“Hello, Danny.”

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Roger Sherman Hoar in 1888.

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


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

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

Filling in the gaps…

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

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

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

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

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

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

19th Annual Archivist’s Achievement Awards

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

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

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

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

Renovation Update and a Giant Bat

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

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

Renovation stairwell

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

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


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

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

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



A summer of Pride with the City of Vancouver Archives

The Archives is very excited to be a community partner for Pride this year, and would like to thank the Vancouver Pride Society who has invited us to several events throughout the summer! First up, we will be at East Side Pride at Grandview Park from 11am to 6pm on Saturday June 22. There, we will be sharing some records and other materials from the LGBTQ2+ community’s past. We look forward to meeting the community outside the Archives’ walls and talking more about our holdings.

Dyke pride march, Feb. 22, 1992. Reference Code: AM1675-S4-F23-: 2018-020.4593

Our booth will have a selection of photos from past events, protests, and demonstrations, many of which took place in East Vancouver in the 1980s and 1990s. These demonstrations of solidarity, visibility, and strength were critical for the LGBTQ2+ community, and laid the foundations for present and future celebrations and resistance. We acquire LGBTQ2+ materials to preserve these stories for future generations, and ensure that BC and Vancouver queer histories are remembered and understood. Our presence at East Side Pride is part of our goal to make these records accessible to the public.

B.C. gay and lesbian conference committee, Apr. 1988. Reference Code: AM1675-S4-F23-: 2018-020.4766

Please visit our booth to find out more about our holdings related to LGBTQ2+ history, including the Richard Dopson fonds and the Malcolm F. Crane Pride Archives. Thanks to the 2018 donation by collector and community member Ron Dutton, the City of Vancouver Archives also holds the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives (BCGLA). This is a large and diverse collection of materials, including a range of textual, visual, and audio records from the LGBTQ2+ community tracing back as early as the 1940s. As well, funding from the National Heritage Digitization Strategy has meant that we have been scanning thousands of items so they can be accessible through our online database. So far, we have scanned 1900 posters, which can be viewed and downloaded from our website, and photographs will be available online soon. Audiovisual materials are currently being digitized and will be available online by the end of August.

Dykes on the Drive: dyke march, Feb. 24, 1991. Reference Code: AM1675-S4-F22-: 2018-020.4480-: 2018-020.4480.17

Alongside the digitization project, we are seeking community help to identify people and events that have remained unidentified in our holdings. This will help us to recognize community members’ involvement in and contributions to LGBTQ2+ history, as well as ensure that we are accurately and fully representing the records. If you are interested in helping us to identify people and events, we will have some photographs at East Side Pride and we’d love to hear from you. We will also be expanding the photo identification project throughout the summer and fall, so stay tuned.

Stonewall Fest 95, 1995. Reference Code: AM1675-S4-F18-: 2018-020.4006

For now, come visit us at East Side Pride on 22 June, look at photos from the community’s history, share what you know with us, and get more information on our project! If you aren’t able to join us, we will also be at the Sunset Beach Festival following the Pride Parade on August 4th. Check our blog and Twitter for updates for what else we have planned this summer.

Pride Day parade, Aug. 1990. Reference Code: AM1675-S4-F27-: 2018-020.5688


Ikebana Insights with the Katherine Wallick Collection

Are you intrigued with the delicate art of Japanese flower arrangement? So was Katherine Wallick, the treasurer of Virginia Peninsula Chapter of Ikebana International from 1972-1973. Wallick took a variety of workshops for her craft, including workshops with Ellie O’Brien in 1970 as well as Jackie Kramer of Holland. Researchers can track Wallick’s progress as an ikebana student through the diagrams and notes in her workshop notebooks, as well as a vast collection of her photographs, magazines, and books on the topic. The images below detail a few items from the collection’s holdings.

Katherine Wallick’s Ikebana Workshop Notebook, 1970
Katherine Wallick Ikebana Collection
01 MSS 2008-020

Katherine Wallick writes notes to herself on Japanese phonetics in this personal ikebana study notebook, dated from 1970-1972.

I-ke-ba-na (Ee-kay-bah-nah)

A- ah

E- A as in ape (or eh)

i – ee as in “eek”

o- o as in Bow

u- u as in super

Below this phonetic breakdown is a note about the Sogetsu school of ikebana. There are many schools of ikebana, each following its own philosophy of design and style.

Ikebana International Magazine bound into one book, 1974-1977
Katherine Wallick Ikebana Collection
01 MSS 2008-020

This bound compendium of Ikebana International Magazine contains issues from 1974-1977. The pages displayed here are from Issue 47 contain images and descriptions of the materials and containers used in each arrangement, as well as a critical description of the arrangements pictured.

Katherine Wallick’s Ikebana Workshop Notebook, undated
Katherine Wallick Ikebana Collection
01 MSS 2008-020

This second notebook page contains a preliminary sketch of the “basic upright style” ikebana arrangement that Wallick was learning about. The angle at which certain plant elements (such as flowers, leaves, or stems) lean at is of utmost importance in ikebana arrangements. One can note the system by which Wallick identified the different elements in her arrangements (perhaps as instructed so by her teacher) by comparing this page with the other notebook on display.

You can explore the contents of the collection online here: https://archives.lib.fsu.edu/repositories/4/resources/510. If you would like to see these exciting objects in person, please visit the Special Collections Reading Room, Monday to Friday 10 am to 6 pm.

Paralympic Torch Relay photographs now available

We are pleased to announce that we have added another large set of VANOC photographs to our online database, this time from the Paralympic Torch Relay (PTR). VANOC photographers captured over 12,000 images of the PTR, and this series is the “selected photographs” – i.e., the few images chosen by VANOC, from the thousands taken, for its own promotional uses or distribution to its partners and sponsors.

Executive Director and CEO of the Four Host First Nations Tewanee Joseph lights the Paralympic cauldron for the first time in Vancouver, BC. Reference code: AM1550-S10-F60-:

The PTR visited twelve communities over ten days between March 3-12, 2010:

  • Day 1 – Wed. Mar. 3, 2010 – Ottawa, Ont.
  • Day 2 – Thu. Mar. 4, 2010 – Quebec City, Que.
  • Day 3 – Fri. Mar. 5, 2010 – Toronto, Ont.
  • Day 4 – Sat. Mar. 6, 2010 – Esquimalt and Victoria, BC
  • Day 5 – Sun. Mar. 7, 2010 – Squamish, BC
  • Day 6 – Mon. Mar. 8, 2010 – Whistler, BC
  • Day 7 – Tue. Mar. 9, 2010 – Lytton and Hope, BC
  • Day 8 – Wed. Mar 10, 2010 – Maple Ridge and Vancouver (Riley Park), BC
  • Day 9 – Thu. Mar. 11, 2010 – Vancouver and the University of British Columbia, BC
  • Day 10 – Fr. Mar 12, 2010 – Vancouver, BC

Flame Creation in Squamish, BC. Reference code: AM1550-S10-F21-:

Each day had a similar structure, beginning with a flame creation ceremony conducted by members from the First Nation territory that the relay was being conducted on that day. The relay was held in conjunction with a community celebration event featuring local entertainers and speakers. Most relays had between fifteen and fifty torchbearers. The final relay was a 24 hour event held in Vancouver that involved 292 torchbearers.

Torchbearer Rick Hansen high fives the crowd he passes with the flame in Victoria, BC. Reference code: AM1550-S10-F14-:

The presentation of this series is somewhat different from the two other torch relay series we made available in the past year. The directory structure for the source files provided by VANOC was not organized as consistently as those for the Olympic Torch Relay (OTR). Fortunately, image files were only present in the bottommost folders in the directory tree, so we were able to flatten the overall structure and name the files (in the archival, not IT, sense) based on the folder titles present in the directory structure. As was the case with the OTR images, many images were accompanied by descriptive metadata embedded in the digital file that we were able to extract and use as the titles. Unlike the two OTR series, there is some duplication of images across the series. The duplicate images were kept; some may have different titles, depending on the descriptive metadata present in the source file.

Torchbearer Kirsten Sharp carries the flame across the Peak2Peak Gondola onto Whistler Mountain. Reference code: AM1550-S10-F28-:

Processing the OTR and PTR photographs has been a useful exercise for us, helping us to better refine our workflows for processing born-digital material. Among the reasons that these records were identified for processing was that the files were relatively homogeneous in terms of size and file format, and that the organization of them was relatively straightforward. Moving forward, we will apply the lessons learned from this project to making more diverse and problematic sets of records from VANOC and other born-digital holdings available in the coming months.

In the meantime, please enjoy this latest release; here are some of our favourites:

Fire on Victoria Island, Ottawa, with Parliament Hill in the background. Reference code: AM1550-S10-F01-:

Torchbearer Shelley Gautier. Reference code: AM1550-S10-F07-:

Torchbearer Rick Hansen (R) passes the flame to Torchbearer Shannon Langevin (L) in Victoria. Reference code: AM1550-S10-F16-:

Torchbearer Hayley Mooney (L) passes the flame to Torchbearer Peter Lawless (R) in Victoria. Reference code: AM1550-S10-F14-:

Torchbearer Beverley Toy. Reference code: AM1550-S10-F23-:

Skwxwú7mesh man carries the lantern in a canoe in Squamish. Reference code: AM1550-S10-F24-:

Torchbearer 48 Roberto Luongo lights the cauldron at Vancouver’s 24 hour event. Reference code: AM1550-S10-F59-:

Torchbearer 291 passing the flame from HMCS Orca to torchbearer 292 aboard a boat. Reference code: AM1550-S10-F65-:

For more information regarding our work to make VANOC’s born-digital records available, please read our posts regarding the Olympic Torchbearer photographs and the Olympic Torch Relay highlight photographs.

Remembering President Emeritus Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte

Sandy D’Alemberte

With the passing of President Emeritus Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte we would like to take a moment to reflect on his life and his contributions. He has had considerable impact on Florida State, serving the university since 1984 and teaching through this past spring, as well as the political and legal fields.

D’Alemberte was a Tallahassee native, his childhood home was located just across the street from the capitol building. His grandfather attended the Seminary West of the Suwannee River and his mother attended Florida State College for Women, both predecessor institutions to Florida State University. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of the South and his Juris Doctor from the University of Florida.

D’Alemberte was well known in the law community for his work helping underserved populations and for his commitment to human rights. He served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1966 to 1972 and as President for the American Bar Association from 1991 until 1992. His work in the legal field won him numerous awards from the Florida Bar Foundation Medal of Honor in 1987 to the Florida Academy of Criminal Defense Lawyers Annual Criminal Justice award in 1993 to an Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for his work allowing in allowing electronic journalists access to court proceedings.

D’Alemberte greets Seminole Ambassador President Glenn Hill, November 18, 1993

He served as the fourth dean of the Law School from 1984 to 1989 and President of the University from 1994 until 2003. He established a public pro bono requirement for FSU Law School students, a rarity at the time. He was instrumental in developing Florida State University’s College of Medicine which graduated its first class in 2001, and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory was established during his tenure. He led a campus wide beautification project which resulted in the renovation of the College of Law’s Village Green and the Heritage Museum’s renovation. He was honored with his own commemorative window in the museum in 2017.

d'alemberte window
D’Alemberte dedicated window. Located within the FSU Heritage Museum.

Visitation for family and friends will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. this evening in the D’Alemberte Rotunda at the FSU College of Law.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, June 5th at 2pm in Ruby Diamond Concert Hall. Both are open to the public. The Heritage Museum will remain open until 5pm on Wednesday to allow visitors to view D’Alemberte’s window.

Several unprocessed collections of D’Alemberte’s papers are housed in Heritage & University Archives and the Claude Pepper Library. Included are administrative files from his time as President of the University and his files from his time as Dean of the College of Law. For more information on our collections, please contact Heritage & University Archivist, Sandra Varry at svarry@fsu.edu.

Life on a Plantation: A Diary

Dyer diary

On July 8th, 1862, Ebenezer Porter Dyer Jr. (Amherst College Class of 1861) received an urgent letter from the Boston Educational Committee asking him to sail the next day from New York City “to go to Port Royal, S.C. as Superintendent of Plantations”. It turns out the letter Dyer received was wrong (once he arrived in New York, he found the ship wasn’t scheduled to set sail for several days) but Dyer still left his home in Massachusetts that night to embark on a year of living in South Carolina during the Civil War.

The year that Dyer spent in South Carolina is detailed in his diary, which I recently rediscovered along with some of Dyer’s short stories and journals while working with 19th century alumni materials.  His diary gives a glimpse into his life from 1862-1863, while he worked as a Northern relief worker in the South during the Civil War. In the first entry, Dyer tells us about his frantic departure for New York, sailing to South Carolina through a Union blockade, arriving at the plantation and quartering Union soldiers there, and his observations of religious life on the plantation. But after his hectic arrival, things seem to calm down for Dyer, and his diary turns more towards social calls with other New Englanders living in the South, being constantly tormented by mosquitoes, and the boredom of being stuck inside because of heavy rain with no books to read.

As Superintendent of Plantations, Dyer mostly taught and preached, with some administrative duties, like payroll for freedmen who remained on the plantation. This was all part of the Boston Educational Commission’s mission as a relief organization to aid “persons released from slavery in the course of the war for the union”. The Boston Educational Commission would eventually expand its efforts and become the New England Freedman’s Aid Society, but at the time Dyer left for Port Royal the Boston Educational Committee primarily sent teachers and clothing to South Carolina.

It’s not clear from Dyer’s diary how or why he ended up teaching for the Boston Educational Committee. From the “First annual report of the educational commission for freedmen”, it seems like he probably applied and that there was a lot competition, but it’s also unclear why he was asked to leave in July (not February like the other teachers) and on such short notice. It would be interesting to know what made Dryer so passionate that he was happy to leave at a moment’s notice, or if the emphasis on service during his time at Amherst College influenced that at all. But either way, Dyer’s diary gives us an Amherst alum’s perspective on the South during the Civil war, and new information about what Amherst alumni were doing during that era.

The First annual report of the educational commission for freedmen used above is Collection Reference Number GLC06232.15 at The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. All copyright belongs to The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

For more information on the Boston Educational Commission’s activities, check out the New England Freedman’s Aid Society Records (digitized) from the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Castro Archaeological Site Collection

The Digital Library Center (DLC) recently uploaded a new set of material to the Castro Archaeological Site Collection in DigiNole! The most recent additions to this collection contain comprehensive notes, drawings, and analysis of the Castro archeological site in Leon County. More information on this collaboration between the DLC and FSU’s Department of Anthropology can be found on our previous post from August 2018.

Feature Inventory Form - Castro Site
Feature Inventory Form – Castro Site [original object]

In addition to preserving important details about the excavation of the Castro site, digitizing and uploading this collection to DigiNole gives visitors a glimpse into the day-to-day operations of both professional and student archeologists.

Though this marks the end of digitization of the Castro material, our collaborative efforts with the Department of Anthropology will continue. Keep an eye out for more updates as we continue to add more archaeological content to DigiNole!

New Intern in Special Collections

Greetings and salutations. Please allow me this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Gavin Nelson. I am an intern doing a summer internship here at UNCW as part of a course I am taking in my university’s master’s program. Before I began my adventure into the world of libraries, I went to Western Carolina University for four years. It was there that I got a Bachelors  of Science in History, as well as two minors in Japanese and Business Law. I chose history as my field  of specialty because I have always been fascinated with the past, which I believe can play a tremendous role in helping us forge a great future. It is also like reading through one big storybook that is filled with tales of adventure, excitement, and more.  Specifically, my favorite subjects of history include Asian history, European history, and Military history.

After I graduated from WCU, I decided that I want to use that degree to become a “gatekeeper of information,” as my dad put it. I felt a desire to work with a vast variety of data and information for the purpose of sharing wonderful and amazing stories with my community. Towards that end, I officially made the decision to open the door and step through into the world of library and information studies. I began my journey towards my destiny by entering a master’s program that is offered by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Not only have I been in the program since 2018, but I also just finished my third semester of the program. I officially have only one more semester left before I graduate with a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies. It won’t be long before I can say the iconic line that Howard Wolowitz from Big Bang Theory said, which was “I have a master’s degree!” With that degree, I plan to go into the field of archiving, which is the dream career that I am diligently working towards.  This internship is going to help me get that coveted professional experience that will help achieve that dream.

Outside of my studies, I do have some favorite pastime activities that help me  relax and reenergize. My most favorite activities to partake in are playing video-games, watching crime documentaries and crime shows, and watching video-game let’s plays and streams on YouTube.  I think of them as a temporary escape from reality whenever I need to get rid of stress and unwind. 

For this internship, there are some goals, both personal and professional, that I would like to accomplish. The goals that I am aiming to accomplish are the following:

Professional Goals:

  1. Digitization. I would like to really learn about the process of digitizing archival materials and sharing them in the cyber realm. I strongly believe that technology is going to have a major impact on how archives are going to be run. I would like to get ahead of it and learn these technological skills now so that I won’t be playing catch-up later.
  2. Acquire professional experience working with archival materials.  I would like to get experience acquiring, processing, arranging, preserving, and sharing archival materials. It is actually one of the big reasons why I am doing this internship. Up until this point, I have yet to gain any library experience. This internship will be a tremendous help in accomplishing this goal.
  3. Explore the relationship that the archives department has with the rest of the academic community. I am thinking about working in an academic library, and I am interested in seeing for myself how the Special Collections department interacts with the academic community.

Personal Goals:

  1. Finally acquire some real library experience. As I previously mentioned, I have yet to accumulate any ounce of library experience. I recently tried to apply for a library job, but that didn’t go through. It was mainly because I wasn’t exposed to customer service, which involves working with my community. I was determined to do something about it. I decided to get a part-time job at my local grocery store, which involves interacting with the public on a daily basis.  That is the job that I currently have now, but it is not the dream job that I want to have. This internship will give me that much-needed experience that will help me land that dream job.
  2. Have fun! I personally believe that if you want to be successful at any job that you do, you have to have fun. You need to be happy! Joyful!  Enthusiastic! Have a “Boot-Scooting Boogie” attitude that makes others laugh and want to join in on the fun and excitement! At my current job, I always try to have fun and party like a wild, party animal! It is what makes my guest love me! It was how I earned the title of Employee of the Month. Overall, I am making it my mission to not only do my absolute best in this internship, but also to have big, bang, boogey woogey fun at the same time! Also, I am going to try to look good while doing it in my blue suede shoes!

All of the goals that I have listed are representatives of what I am hoping to gain from this awesome experience. I want to be exposed to the amusement park that is archives. I want to go on all of the gentle and thrill rides that make up the archival department. Afterwards, I want to share the awesome time that I have at this amusement park with everyone else. Personally, that is what I believe archives are all about.  Archivists acquire a wide variety of stories and experience them for themselves. Afterwards, they share this experience with their community and invite them to come experience these stories, as well.  That is what I would like to do when I eventually begin my future library career. That is what I am hoping to learn and experience through this internship. Each of the goals that I have listed will give me the tools that I need to get the most fun and experience out of the rollercoaster that will not just be this internship, but also my future library career as well.

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Tetris in the Vault: Using storage space efficiently

As we noted in a previous post, after more than four decades of service, the James Skitt Matthews building in Vanier Park has reached its full capacity and we are preparing to move to a larger space where we can continue to serve the public for many years to come. Part of this preparation involves inventorying the holdings and housing or rehousing them as needed to ensure they can safely travel. One challenging side effect of this work is that when records are housed in sturdy, supportive containers, they take up more room. That’s a problem when the vault is already full. The solution is kind of like playing Tetris. This post gives you an idea of how we play the game, every day.

Retro Tetris. Retrieved from https://www.freepik.com/premium-vector/brick-retro-tetris-game_3786227.htm

Our oversize bound volumes that do not fit into a standard archival quality storage box are stored unboxed, side by side on open shelves. When these volumes are housed in sturdy new storage boxes, the space they occupy almost doubles! To maximize the use of our space we try to consolidate volumes depending on their type and size. Once we decide which types of boxes are best suited for the specific volumes, and how many will be used, we often find ourselves reorganizing the volumes and shelving itself in order to optimize the box distribution, often at a new location.

A good example of this game of archival Tetris is the housing of City Engineer’s reports that date from 1906 to 1959. We were faced with five shelves of bound volumes of a similar depth and height but ranging in width from 1.5” to 7.5”.

Unboxed City Engineer’s reports on their original shelving bay. Photo by Paola Merkins

To house them properly, we decided to use a clamshell-style box that comes in 3” and 5” depths and a two-piece 8″ depth flat box. The deeper two-piece box has a bottom and lid which makes its outer dimensions a little bigger than the two shallower clamshell boxes. While the shallower boxes can sit on a shelf side by side, the deeper boxes have to be combined with the shallow ones in order to fit side by side.

Only one deep box fits on a shelf, but it can be combined with two shallower boxes. Photos by Heather Gordon

This bay had 20 volumes that needed 8” deep boxes, and because these deep boxes are not usually stacked on top of one another (to make retrieval for researchers more efficient), we could only return eight of the 20 large volumes, when boxed, to this bay. Not the best use of available space.

Fortunately, the Board of Works minute books, a series consisting mostly of a large number of narrower bound volumes and located on a bay across the aisle from the City Engineer’s reports, were ready to be housed as well. By using these two bays we calculated that we would be able to accommodate most of the volumes in roughly the same location, only needing additional space for a few large volumes.

Unboxed Board of Works minute books on their original shelving bay. Photo by Paola Merkins

We began the relocation with the City Engineer’s reports. Because we knew we needed additional space to store all the volumes, we identified a few shelves that would accommodate the overflow boxes and relocated them first.

The empty spaces on these two bays allowed us to relocate some of the larger the volumes first (right). Photo by Paola Merkins

With the large volumes off the first bay, we were able to redistribute and add enough shelves to accommodate the large 8” boxes. Once the shelving was set up, the rehoused volumes were assigned new locations there.

Shelving on first bay now arranged to fit one large volume per shelf. Photo by Paola Merkins

By working on both bays at the same time we were able to create enough “swing” space to start filling in the empty shelves with the newly boxed volumes. We did this by alternating the pulls between bays and meticulously tracked the location of each volume throughout the process to ensure that it could be found at any time if requested by a researcher.

These two images depict how both bays were being worked at simultaneously. Photo by Paola Merkins

Eventually all the volumes from both bays were rehoused and our database updated to reflect their new locations.

City Engineer’s reports and Board of Works minute books in their new locations. Photo by Paola Merkins

Another kind of Tetris challenge is created as the holdings are inventoried and box contents more appropriately re-housed. This results in gaps on the shelves that quickly become the new home for newly-boxed bound volumes.

Rehoused volumes are seen here in shelving space that was created during the inventory process. Photo by Paola Merkins

And a key part of the game is staking out territory. Shelves in the vault are truly coveted real estate!

Reserved sign

We are now 64% finished boxing oversized bound volumes, and are starting work on housing rolled drawings. We will keep you updated as the conservation team tackles other challenges in the Pre-move project.

State of Cinema: The Richard Alan Nelson Collection

Florida has long played host to the production of films and television series, from seminal horror film Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954, parts of which were filmed in our very own Wakulla Springs!) to the current production of Bad Boys for Life (currently filming in Miami and slated for a 2020 release). The Richard Alan Nelson Collection contains documents detailing film production in various Florida cities, movie posters, motion picture companies, publicity stills of actors and actresses, and film law.

The collection even features a folder (7, in Box 922) of what the cinema scene looked like in Tallahassee at the time of Nelson’s dissertation work, the late 1970s. In a preserved volume of New Look, a local entertainment magazine, journalist Rick Oppenheim described local cinemas struggling to keep their doors open, paying “90% of their box office receipts (with house operations skimmed off the top) to a tight-fisted [film] distributor for the rental of a first-run film”, leading to cinemas holding on to blockbuster films like Star Wars (which were highly expensive to rent) for months on end, and less likely to gamble on new films which may hurt their bottom line.

For more information on this collection, please visit its finding aid. If you’d like to visit Special Collections and explore the documents in person, we welcome visitors Monday to Friday, 10 am to 6 pm.

Wild Nights

Every new film that tells a story about Emily Dickinson seems to stir up a new round of questions about her life and writing. In 2016 it was A Quiet Passion, directed by Terence Davies and starring Cynthia Nixon as the adult Dickinson; in 2019 it’s Wild Nights with Emily (2018) directed by Madeleine Olnek with Molly Shannon playing Dickinson. While we normally steer clear of debates about the accuracy and merits of fictional portrayals of Dickinson, a recent interview with Molly Shannon calls for some clarification of the facts.Shannon on Today

In this televised interview that aired in early April 2019, Molly Shannon makes the following claim around the 1:05 mark:

It’s really cool … there were these erasures found in her work through spectrographic technology where they can find all this stuff about great historical figures…

While a single interview on a morning talk show may not seem like much, we want to correct the record to state that none of the Emily Dickinson manuscripts held at Amherst College have undergone any sort of analysis via “spectrographic technology” or any kind of imaging beyond a visible-spectrum flatbed scanner.

Amherst College launched Amherst College Digital Collections in the fall of 2012 and made full-color scans of all of our Dickinson manuscripts freely available online in early January 2013.


At that time, our goal was to make these manuscript images as widely accessible as possible. People interested in Dickinson’s life and poetry no longer had to trust the word of scholars with the resources and expertise to visit the special collections at Amherst and Harvard; they could see the manuscripts for themselves.

The first facsimile of a Dickinson manuscript we have been able to locate is the “Fac-simile of ‘Renunciation,’ by Emily Dickinson” that appeared at the front of Poems: Second Series edited by Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas Wentworth Higginson and published by Roberts Brothers of Boston in 1891.

ED 1891

Prior to the widespread adoption of digital photography in the early 21st century, producing photographic facsimiles of important manuscripts was far more difficult. Ralph Franklin’s 1981 two-volume set The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson was a major achievement of editorial scholarship and facsimile publication.

ED Franklin

The reproductive technologies of the time made it cost-prohibitive to publish the facsimile images in full color, but these black and white images were a great leap forward.

Today anyone with an internet connection can see a better quality image of this same manuscript via ACDC: https://acdc.amherst.edu/explore/asc:15595/asc:15597


Within ACDC, users can download their own copy of the image or use the built-in tools to zoom in and rotate the image. As much of an improvement as these color scans are, there is more work to be done. First, it’s important to recognize that these scans were created before Amherst College had established a formal Digital Programs department with dedicated imaging professionals. The Archives & Special Collections staff used a standard flatbed scanner that captures only visible-spectrum light to create 600dpi master files back in 2008-2009. These same master files are what is in ACDC today.

In the meantime, advances in imaging manuscripts have been going on all around us. Perhaps the most famous example of using new technology to recover a lost text is the Archimedes Palimpsest. As described on their website:

The Multispectral Imaging of the Archimedes palimpsest was undertaken by Keith Knox, of the Boeing Corporation based in Maui, William A. Christens-Barry of Equipoise Imaging LLC, and Roger Easton, Professor of Imaging Science at RIT. … To explain multispectral imaging, we must make a short digression into electromagnetic radiation…

Those interested in the science of multispectral imaging can find out much more on the Archimedes Palimpsest site, but the point is that such imaging is complex and requires carefully calibrated equipment to produce reliable results.

Perhaps no facility better captures the excitement of using new technologies to study the material culture of the past than the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage at Yale University. This Yale news story about their work on their “Vinland Map” describes some of the imaging techniques and technologies that were not available just 10 or 15 years ago: Yale putting high-tech tests to its controversial Vinland Map.

We don’t mean to fault a Hollywood actress for not knowing the full details of the history of the digitization of Dickinson manuscripts; she is not a professional scholar of Dickinson or material culture. We do feel the need to state, for the public record, that none of Amherst’s Dickinson manuscripts have undergone multispectral imaging of the sort now available at Yale.

While Amherst does not have the capacity to do the sort of imaging done at the Yale IPCH, technical details of their processes are readily available online: https://digitalcollections.wordpress.amherst.edu/about/ As interest in the deeper physical features of Dickinson’s manuscripts gains public attention, we have begun exploring ways we might use the newest technologies to improve our scans to better serve the public.

Rightfully Hers exhibit now open

The National Archives launched our newest exhibit, Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote, last week at the Lawrence O’Brien Gallery of the museum in Washington, DC.

Most Americans consider the ability to vote fundamental to the enjoyment of full citizenship. American women, however, were long denied that right. In 1920, American democracy dramatically expanded when the newly ratified 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibited the states from denying the vote on the basis of sex. This landmark voting rights victory was made possible by decades of suffragists’ persistent political engagement, and yet it is just one critical milestone in women’s battle for the vote.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote looks beyond suffrage parades and protests to the often overlooked story behind this landmark moment in American history. This fuller retelling of the struggle for women’s voting rights illustrates the dynamic involvement of American women across the spectrum of race, ethnicity and class to reveal what it really takes to win the vote for one half of the people.   

A view of the Rightfully Hers exhibit gallery. Photo by National Archives photographer Jeff Reed.

This exhibit highlights hard-won victories that stemmed from the woman suffrage movement. But it also reminds modern-day citizens of their responsibilities and encourages all to be ‘election ready’ and exercise the right to vote. As home to some of the most important records from the woman suffrage story, including the 19th amendment, the National Archives is uniquely positioned to create a powerful educational experience that relates the fuller story of the struggle to make the vote a reality for all women.

Several years in the planning stages, Rightfully Hers includes more than 90 original records including documents, photographs, artifacts, and audio and video recordings that connect to important historic milestones in the women’s struggle to gain the vote. Exhibit curator Corrine Porter dedicated the past two years creating an exhibit that includes the artifacts and documents we believed would best tell this story.

Curator Corinne Porter gives a tour of the Rightfully Hers exhibit. Photo by National Archives photographer Jeff Reed.

The National Archives will also host a range of public and education programs, including lectures, panel discussions, and other special events centered on the 19th Amendment and powerful women and their roles in our nation and its history. For a full list of future scheduled events, see the National Archives Calendar of Events.

The exhibit is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, through January 3, 2021. Admission is free.

For more information, visit https://museum.archives.gov/rightfully-hers-american-women-and-vote

Temporary Closure of Archives Reading Room

Please note that the archives reading room will be closed from Monday 17 to Friday 28 June 2019. This closure is to facilitate the move of our services to a temporary location in the S corridor of the University Library for the duration of the Campus Central project building works.

The archives reading room will re-open in its new location in room S10 on Monday 1 July 2019.

If you require access to material from our collections during this closure period please contact us at archives@stir.ac.uk

The Campus Central project will create a newly refurbished Atrium space, a new three-storey building at the heart of the campus , and a landscaped, pedestrian-friendly Queen’s Court offering students, staff and visitors a host of new study and social spaces.

Building work on the Campus Central project is due to be completed in the 2020/21 academic year.

Exhibition Curator’s Talk May 22nd at Bell Street Chapel

Have you taken a look at our current digital exhibition about Providence’s vacant spaces, or visited any of the locations on the tour to see the signs?


Exhibition curator Angela DiVeglia will be giving a talk on Wednesday, May 22nd in the lower level of the Bell Street Chapel from 6:00 – 7:30 pm. (Did you know that the park next to Bell Street Chapel used to be a convent?)

The evening will begin with a short presentation where Angela will show highlights from the exhibition, discuss her research and curatorial process, and answer questions from the audience. The second half of the event will consist of an optional interactive workshop with drawing and writing prompts to encourage audience members to engage with vacant and open spaces from their day-to-day lives or from their memories.

Learn more and register for the event here!


New records from St. John’s in DigiNole

We are pleased to announce that additional records of the St. John’s Episcopal Church are now available online through DigiNole: FSU’d Digital Repository. These include records of baptisms, marriages, and burials at St. John’s throughout the 20th century, as well as early vestry minutes, detailing early church events such as establishing the site of the building and cemetery, selecting rectors, and historical practices such as renting seats in the pews. These supplement previously digitized records of church rites and the journals of Reverend W.H. Carter. Genealogists, St. John’s parishioners, and researchers of Tallahassee history will all find value in greater access to these materials.

A page from the St. John's Vestry Records, 1836-1873, discussing pew rates
A page from the St. John’s Vestry Records, 1836-1873, discussing pew rates [original object]

St. John’s is the mother church of the Diocese of Florida. It was founded as a mission parish in 1829, and the church’s first building was erected in 1837. The Diocese was organized at St. John’s in 1838 and Francis Huger Rutledge, who became rector of St. John’s in 1845, was consecrated the first Bishop of Florida in 1851. The original church burned in 1879; a new church was built on the same site and consecrated in 1888, and it is still the parish’s principal place of worship.

The physical collection includes administrative records; member registries; meeting minutes of the Vestry and church circles; Bibles, Books of Common Prayer, hymnals, and other liturgical works; documentation of the history of St. John’s Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Florida; service bulletins and other periodicals; sermon transcripts; photographs; and motion pictures.

For more information about the collection, visit its finding aid. You can also explore the digitized materials from St. John’s in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository.

Musicians’ Union Archive Trainee Post

The University of Stirling Archives is delighted to offer a six week trainee post funded by the Musicians’ Union to work on their extensive archive, improving access to this unique research resource.

Since its transfer to the University of Stirling Archives in 2009 the Musicians’ Union Archive has been one of our most used collections with researchers from around the UK (and further afield) using the collection for a wide variety of research projects. The archive also receives a large amount of enquiries from members of the public engaged in family history research whose relatives were professional musicians. In 2016 a new history of the Union was published which has generated further interest in the collection (Cloonan, M. & Williamson, J., Players’ Work Time – A Social History of the Musicians’ Union, Manchester University Press).

The Archive Trainee will work on a project to digitise The Musician, the magazine of the Musicians’ Union, which began publication in 1950. They will prepare the items for digitisation, carry out the digitisation of the material and assist in the publication and promotion of this new resource.

Application information:

  • Please send a CV and supporting statement detailing why you are interested in the post and how it would benefit your future career to karl.magee@stir.ac.uk marking your email MU Trainee 2019
  • Closing date for applications is 5 June 2019
  • Interviews will be held during the week beginning 17 June 2019
  • The timing of this project is flexible but we expect it to be completed during the summer of 2019
  • The salary for this 6 week fixed term post is fixed to the University pay scale at Grade 4 SP 14 (£20,836)

Further information, including a full job description, is available here.

To discuss the post please contact Karl Magee, University Archivist, at 01786 466619 / karl.magee@stir.ac.uk