Updating the P.A.M Dirac Collection

At the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester, I began working with the Paul A. M. Dirac Collection found in the Special Collections & Archives at Florida State University. I didn’t really know what I would come across when I got started, but the photographs in this collection would end up being the very beginning of my utter fascination for the theoretical physicist.

I enjoy going to museums and reading books over studying science and math and day of the week. Maybe that’s why when I started this journey through the life of Paul Dirac I was both curious and uncertain. On an average day, I would take one box out of the stacks and start on the latest file of images. A single box could have anywhere from six to forty folders and could contain over 100 photographs. As cheesy as it sounds, each photo really does tell a story. I worked with images from the early 1900s which depicted Dirac and his family in period-appropriate dress. I saw images taken in Russia and Israel and Japan. Truly, despite the man being known for his contributions to theoretical physics, I was coming to know him for much more than that. Dirac wasn’t just a phenomenal scientist–he was a fascinating character all in his own category who traveled the world in the name of scientific discovery.

The first color images I stumbled upon in the collection. (see carnations and group photo)

The majority of the work was done through a spreadsheet where I compiled metadata for each image. Doing this not only updates the information by double checking that dates and events are accurate with a fresh pair of eyes, but it also allows for proper digitization. Organizing hundreds of photos, dealing with copyright, and learning the language of metadata has helped me in understanding how vital this work is. Although looking at these pictures and reflecting on the history behind them was one of my favorite parts of this project, understanding the importance of background work was the true takeaway. I had never truly appreciated the time and effort many individuals put in to make something on the web easily accessible for others and being able to reap the rewards of such work has helped me to understand the many layers it takes to make such content.

Snapshot image of the metadata used to digitize the collections.

After finishing my work on the Dirac Collection photographs, I moved on to his manuscripts and notes. I am still going through this work as it’s a hefty bit of information which I alone cannot decipher. Another team member is working on translating the mathematical notes which I will then compile into another document which will allow the information to be neatly transferred online for the public to view.

Before starting this project, I expected to be apathetic toward the process of having to look up and research people, places, and events in order to most accurately describe an image or document. Instead, I found that, despite what many times looked to be dull and uninspiring images, each photo had a story of its own which bled into the next and created a snapshot collection of the story of one man’s life.

Dirac’s papers now reside in Special Collections & Archives at Florida State University. You may see a complete finding aid of the collection here.

All photo credits goes to the author.

These are a few of our favourite things…

Throughout April @ARAScot are running the #Archive30 promotional campaign on Twitter. Like many other services across the UK and internationally we are delighted to join in and meet the challenge of tweeting all 30 daily topics throughout the month! Today’s theme is #FavouriteItem. Below you will will find the items chosen by our Archives & Special Collections team along with some information on how they came to make their choices.

Script for the film Drifters, 1929 (ref. G2.1.8.1)

Our John Grierson Archive holds papers relating to Drifters, his seminal 1929 documentary about North Sea fishing. They include this copy of the script where the ink has run across the page. I like to imagine that it got wet when Grierson was on board the trawlers shooting the dramatic scenes of fishermen at work

Karl Magee, University Archivist

Draft design for the national flag of Malawi (ref. MK/1/3/1/68)

I love this draft of the new national flag of Malawi as the country prepared to move away from the name Nyasaland and gained independence. By itself it serves as an insight into all the preparations a nation has to make as it forges forward on its own. Not only the tough socio-political choices but the joyous stuff too – composing a national anthem, designing the flag and naming your new country, the things that people will be proud of in the future. It sounds like a hefty task but fun too! In the context of the Peter Mackay archive, it gives you a feel for just how involved he was in the process of independence and considering all the struggles and danger that had gone before and would come after, it’s nice to be able to imagine Mackay and his colleagues sat around a table taking a rare moment away from the political strife to decide just how many rays of sunshine there were going to be on their new flag.

Rosie Al-Mulla, Archivist

1869 edition of The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott (ref. Special Reserve O 00.95 1869)

I like this book because of its local associations. The Lady of the Lake is set at Loch Kathrine in the Trossachs. This edition, bound in Maucline ware, features the Wallace Monument on the front cover and was sold at Stirling Castle as a souvenir in the nineteenth century.

Helen Beardsley, Academic Liaison Librarian

Karak, mascot of the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games (ref. CG/2/18/3)

Karak was the mascot for the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and one of the first donations made to our Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive. It featured in our original Hosts and Champions exhibition at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow during the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Without doubt it was the object I had the most problems with when it came to setting up the display due to its habit of falling over every time I closed the exhibition case. In fact if I had a pound for every time I had to re-open the case to re-set Karak I’d have a very health bank balance!

Ian Mackintosh, Hosts and Champions Exhibition Assistant

Introducing the HYMAN ShaPIRO Archive

Our archive volunteer Darren, a student at the Centre for Archives and Information Studies at the University of Dundee, introduces a new collection he has catalogued.

University of Stirling Archives

In August 2017, the family of the late Hyman Shapiro gifted
the University Archives three large plastic storage boxes containing dozens of
typed and handwritten manuscripts, research notes and published books. Hyman
Shapiro M.A (1910-1979) was a secondary school teacher of History and English
in the Glasgow locality, including Woodside Secondary School, before being
appointed head of department at Glasgow College. Away from his teaching and
writing career, Hyman ran for candidature for the Glasgow Municipal Election of
1930 for the Dennistoun Ward and it may be argued that much of his writing had
political connotations in support of the Labour Party such as Background
to revolt: a short study in the social and economic conditions that led to the
‘Radical revolt’ on Clydeside in 1820 and of the part played in that rising by
James (Perley) Wilson and the Strathaven weavers
(published in 1945) and Keir
Hardie and the Labour Party
and John Wilkes and Parliament (published in 1971).

It would be safe to say Shapiro had an appetite for
writing and was a highly regarded historian (his work being primarily focused
on secondary school History textbooks for the Then and There Series). After five books published between 1945 and 1972, the biggest of (and probably most ambitious) of
his writing projects would be The History
of the British People
(which was sadly never completed or published before
his death in 1979). From the correspondence found in the collection between
Shapiro and potential publishers, it appears he began working on this project
in 1953. So we can imagine this would have been quite a book if it had been
fully completed and published and would certainly have been a useful go to
source for your history exams!

The collection contains 33 typed manuscript chapters from the unpublished textbook along with Question and Exercises and would have been divided between two volumes, covering all bases of the historical journey of the British people from Britain’s fist inhabitants fast forwarding through the Roman Conquest, Medieval Scotland and England, the Renaissance, Britain becoming a Commonwealth, the Jacobite Rebellions ending in the Eighteenth Century, where sadly the historical journey is cut short!

It would also seem Shapiro was
a great supporter of the Labour Party, as amongst the Political material within
the archive a candidature Labour Party leaflet was discovered dated from 1930
regarding Hyman Shapiro’s political campaign for the Dennistoun Ward of Glasgow
Municipal Election, as well as a Mid Lanark Election leaflet from 1910 for

The collection complements other collections in the University Archives such as The Mitchell Penguin Books Collection, Charles Dickens, Scottish Political Archive and the Amurlee Jacobite Collection. Furthermore, it may be regarded as a useful source for staff and students teaching and studying particular disciplines such as Publishing Studies, Politics and History.

Property tax assessment maps now available

With a nod to international Records and Information Management Month, we’re pleased to announce an addition to the always-popular tax assessment records: the Assessment Division’s Property tax assessment map series is now available to researchers.

The maps appear to have been used to document information that was used by Assessment Division staff to calculate assessed property value for tax purposes. The maps consist of copies of sectional plans created by the City’s Engineering Department, which have been pasted onto board backing for strength.

The condition of the maps indicates they were heavily used by staff, and the maps contain multiple years’ worth of data.

Assessment map no. 117 – Alexandra Street to Matthews Avenue to Arbutus Street to 29th Avenue. Reference code: COV-S711: LEG2282.192. Photo: Sharon Walz

The maps are heavily annotated with property-by-property information, including:

Lot square footage information:

Assessment map no. 117 – Detail showing Blocks 28-30 and 34 of DL 526. Reference code: COV-S711: LEG2282.192. Photo: Sharon Walz

Sale prices of property transactions, often for multiple years:

Assessment map no. 117 – Detail showing part of Block 89 of DL 526. Reference code: COV-S711: LEG2282.192. Photo: Sharon Walz

And sometimes rough assessment calculations:

Assessment map no. 117 – Detail showing part of Blocks 75 and 625 of DL 526 (just south of Arbutus Street and King Edward Avenue). Reference code: COV-S711: LEG2282.192. Photo: Sharon Walz

For many of the maps, we have two versions: one containing information from ca. 1960 to the early 1970s, then a second for the last few years before the City’s responsibility for property tax assessment was transferred to the Province of British Columbia in 1977.

Coverage of the city appears to be virtually complete, though maps for some of the industrial lands adjacent to the Fraser River, especially on the west side, were not included in the transfer. As the maps do not have any naming information on them other than the map numbers, we applied our own naming convention for the sheets: using the names of delineating streets or physical features, in order of East to North to West to South.

Unfortunately, we are unable at this time to digitize this series of maps; the large majority of them require extensive conservation treatment before it would be safe to pass them through our scanner.

We hope this addition to the assessment records is useful for your research, and add another dimension to the history of the city’s development.

Dirac at FSU

It wasn’t until his later years that Paul Dirac moved to work for the University we call home. In September of 1970, after retiring from his position at Cambridge, Paul Dirac moved to Tallahassee, Florida where he was appointed to work as a visiting professor for Florida State University. He was 68 at the time and could have fully retired, but the continuation of his work may be an example of the overwhelming desire Dirac had for the field of science and quantum mechanics.

Tallahassee. Holiday Inn marquee welcoming Paul Dirac on his first visit to the city. (original image)

Prior to his appointment, in June of that same year, Dirac visited the city to test his endurance against the subtropical climate. In the end, he decided to move as Manci, his wife, preferred the weather to that of Cambridge. In 1972, Dirac took on becoming a full professor, a position which allowed him to continue active research and to pass on the knowledge he’d accumulated through the years. During his time at FSU, Dirac supervised a few graduate students, his last being Bruce Hellman who went on to become a physicist for the CIA.

Paul Dirac in his office with last graduate student, Bruce Hellman. (original image)

Tallahassee. Paul Dirac, Leopold Halpern, and two unidentified women together for an outdoor excursion. (original image)

When barking dogs weren’t ruining his walks, Dirac could be found in his spare time visiting the local lakes and sinkholes in an effort to combat the humidity and intense heat of Tallahassee. With a thermometer in hand, Dirac would systematically check the waters and, if they were above exactly 60 degrees Fahrenheit, he would go for a swim.

Dirac had no teaching responsibilities beyond his supervision of graduate students until 1973 when he agreed to give a series of lectures on the general theory of relativity. These lectures were given until 1980 and were used as the basis for his book General Theory of Relativity. He would go on to teach until his death on October 20, 1984, at the age of 82.

The work that Dirac put forth on the subject of quantum mechanics and quantum theory is still an inspiration to physicists today. Dirac’s spirit and the spirit of mathematical beauty, of which Dirac was quite enamored, still persists through science as we know it as theories, he put forward such as that of the single magnetic pole, the magnetic monopole, have not been proven but are enthusiastically looked upon as possibilities for the future of scientific discovery. Dirac’s papers can and should still be read and studied. As it was so eloquently put in The Strangest Man by Graham Farmelo, the more you read Dirac the more you understand quantum mechanics and the brilliant mind of one of the leading pioneers of the fascinating subject.


Farmelo, Graham, The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius, Faber and Faber 2009.

This used to be…

We’re excited to announce that our 2019 spring exhibition is out in the world as of today. And this time we really mean out in the world. Due to our ongoing renovation we don’t have an actual exhibition gallery, so this year’s curator, Angela DiVeglia, moved the exhibition outdoors.

Exhibition curator, Angela DiVeglia, with one of the signs.

parking lot with carsStarting today, you’ll see signs like this one out in the wild, highlighting the fact that what looks like an empty piece of the city actually might have a colorful history. For instance, this looks a pretty nondescript parking lot, right? But it wasn’t a parking lot in 1914; instead it was Melrose Park, home to baseball’s Providence Grays and their young up-and-coming pitcher, Babe Ruth. You can read all about it via the Rhode Tour app or website, where you’ll find historic images of each site.

You can learn more about the exhibition and program series on our website, where you can find a map of all the sites and links to the Rhode Tour website. Or stop by the library later this week to pick up a printed map.

As a bonus, here’s a gallery of installation photos…

adding rivets to a sign

standing by a sign
carrying a sign in town

This exhibition is part of the Year of the City programming.

Student Traditions – past (and future?)

Every so often there seems to be a rush of interest in bringing back old Amherst traditions. Perhaps alumni wish that students of today could experience gathering as a class to sing at the senior fence. Or students wonder if they are missing out on quirky old traditions that could build school spirit.

Well, today I’d like to share with you some of the lesser known student traditions and activities from the past, all candidates for reintroduction into the Amherst traditions of today!

A photograph of four students in white full-body pajamas or body suits, posed in a photography studio.

Amherst College Competitive Napping Team, 1882

Let’s start with athletics – while competitive napping was only a recognized intercollegiate sport for 7 years, Amherst had 5 champion teams during that time. This is the team from 1882; Alfred Humbrey, at left, won the final tournament round with a record breaking nap of 6 hours and 43 minutes.

A photograph of eight students in formal wear in front of a painted backdrop of Johnson Chapel. The students appear to be holding invisible flutes.

Amherst Air Flute Octet, 1886

In the musical realm, Amherst’s well known Air Flute Octet charmed campus and area concert goers for decades before dissolving during the economic depression of 1893 when air flute prices became exorbitant.

Photograph of a group of students with canes and top hats sitting on a large rock, probably from the 1880s.

Amherst On-Campus Rock Climbing Society, date unknown

The short-lived On-Campus Rock Climbing Society was dedicated to finding and climbing every rock on the Amherst campus.

The Puritan Cosplay Club, 1952

The Puritan Cosplay Club was a wildly popular student activity in the early 1950s. The group attended both Puritan Con and Colonizers Con annually along with groups from Williams, Wesleyan, Yale and many other New England colleges.

Photograph of a groups of students formally dressed holding very, very long pipes, posed around a table in a photography studio

Amherst Extreme Pipe Club, 1883

Amherst’s Extreme Pipe Club was a selective group that existed from 1882-1885. Members of the club competed fiercely to have the longest pipe, by 1885 the pipes were observed to be nearing 8 feet long. The club was disbanded by the faculty after numerous custodian complaints of puncture marks in the hallways caused by students struggling to navigate their pipes around corners and through doorways.

Photograph of a large group of young men in a variety of fashions. Most of the men are looking off the side of the picture with sultry expressions.

Summer School for Fashion Modeling, 1888

Amherst also hosted a number of summer schools in the late 1800s. In a addition to the better know Summer School for Library Economy and Sauveur Language School, there was also the Amherst Summer School for Fashion Modeling which graduated dozens of young men who went on to renown in the Paris fashion plate scene. Appearing in this image (second from left in the back row) is Ellery Huntington, Class of 1888, who was later pictured in hundreds of fashion plates out of New York.

Photograph of a large group of students fighting, surrounded at a distance by a crown of observers

Annual Student Brawl, 1925

Photograph of clusters of students rolling on the ground in fisticuffs, behind them is a crown of onlookers behind a rope.

Annual Student Brawl, 1928

The Annual Student Brawl was a beloved tradition that began in 1899 and extended into the early 1930s. On a fine spring Saturday, the president would declare it “Brawl Day” and the student body would gather on the quad or the playing fields. The president would shoot a ceremonial pistol to start the brawl; after 30 minutes, any student left standing would be declared a superior specimen of Amherst manhood and given a purple striped ribbon to be worn on his hat for the remainder of the year. The faculty and citizens of the town of Amherst would bring their families and picnic on the lawn after the brawl.

Photograph of a group of students holding a variety of implements including, an ax, paddles, boards, rope, brooms, and sticks. Students are posed in front of a house.

The Ax, Rope, Club, Paddle, and Broom Society, 1893

The Ax, Rope, Club, Paddle and Broom Society was a secret society that rivaled the many fraternities at Amherst in the 1890s. Each of the implements in the society name was central to one of the society’s rituals. Unfortunately, the details of their rituals have been lost to time so modern researchers are left guessing. We do know that the club was kicked out of seven rooming housing in the span of three years between 1892 and 1984.

Photograph of three men in top hats with guinea pig images on them, presenting a guinea pig on a tray to a fourth man in front of Johnson Chapel.

Amherst Varsity Guinea Pig Breeding Team presenting their winning guinea pig, 1951.

Last, but not least, is the Amherst Varsity Guinea Pig Breeding Team. The team competed in division 3 guinea pig breeding from 1949 to 1957. Pictured here is the guinea pig that took the team to the national championship in 1951. Numerous alumni guinea pig breeders hoped that the school’s mascot would be officially changed to the guinea pig in 2016, but were, alas, disappointed.

Happy April Fools Day!

(All of the photographs in this post are, in fact, real photographs of Amherst College students, the interpretations however… are not. For more information about Brawl Day, please see the Chapel Rush and the Flag Rush. All the other photographs are unidentified.)


Documenting the Holocaust

This is a guest post from Julianna Witt, who is an archival assistant at the Jacob Marcus Rader Center of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated from FSU in 2018 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in History and will be attending University of Illinois for a Master’s in Information Science in Fall 2019. Julianna worked on this project while at FSU’s Institute on World War II and the Human Experience.

Buchenwald Survivors Showing their Tattoos
Buchenwald Survivors Showing their Tattoos [original item]

This collection of photographs captures the atrocities American GI’s witnessed when they liberated and toured the various extermination and concentration camps in Europe following the end of World War II. When they discovered these camps, the American military officials ordered all nearby units to visit and tour the complexes. Some of the soldiers had cameras with them and took photographs of what they saw to send back home. While most of the photographs are from ordinary soldiers, some came from licensed military photographers. These photographs were digitized to spread awareness of what happened less than a hundred years ago in a war that many individuals have relatives that participated in. While many individuals have heard of the Holocaust and know the common terms such as “Auschwitz” and “genocide,” not all have seen the graphic photographs. 

      Never Again. One of the most well-known sayings that was created in response to the Holocaust urges humanity to help prevent genocides worldwide by spreading awareness and advocates for action in order to stop mass murder and violence before it erupts. These photographs serve as reminders of what can occur when fascism takes control. While these photographs are very graphic, they need to be available to view. If not, the remaining items are not telling the full story of what happened and thus could spread misinformation of the events. Even today with all the evidence of the Holocaust, there are still Holocaust deniers who wish to prove the Holocaust was just propaganda. The hope of this project is to spread knowledge of what happened and to give many more examples of how this did occur.

You can explore this collection in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository. Please be aware this collection does contain very graphic imagery and may not be appropriate for some audiences. You can explore other collections from the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at DigiNole here as well.

Not your garden variety police brutality: On the Media on the Abner Louima case

Reporter Mike McAlary wasn’t sure he wanted the story, and who could have blamed him? He had just come home from a chemotherapy session to combat his colon cancer —but someone (obviously a cop, judging by the insider language he used) had left an anonymous tip on McAlary’s answering machine about a horrendous crime committed by fellow officers.1

McAlary had been hoping to cut back on his newspaper duties to work on a novel, but his reaction to the tip was swift (“If you’re a reporter, you write the story. I didn’t think about being sick,” he would explain later2). So he went to Coney Island Hospital to talk to the alleged victim: Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant who had been horribly injured during a brutal sexual assault. Louima said the attack had been carried out after his arrest by police officers at Brooklyn’s 70th Precinct house; Louima’s family claimed they had reached out to media across the city, but they’d been ignored by all but New York 1 television.3

McAlary was skeptical, and so were his editors at New York Daily News —until the newspaper’s police bureau chief confirmed that Internal Affairs was looking into the incident.4 The series of columns by McAlary and Daily News headlines that followed shocked not just the city, but the entire nation, as it cast a harsh light on police brutality.

Two weeks after the arrest and assault of Louima, On the Media tried to tackle the topic of the media’s role in reporting on police misconduct, as well as how gritty television and motion picture portrayals of cops influenced both police officers and the public’s perception of them. In addition, host Alex S. Jones wanted to explore whether reporters were “too cozy with the cops”, or “mugging the police”. Joining Jones for this sometimes contentious discussion were Jim Dwyer, a colleague of McAlary’s at New York Daily News; Leo Wolinsky, an editor at The Los Angeles Times, the paper that had investigated the Rodney King police brutality case; Jannette Walls, Dean of the Howard University School of Communications; and David Durk, a former NYPD officer who, along with Frank Serpico, had exposed corruption in the department during the 1971 Knapp Commission hearings.

At the time, crime statistics in the city and across the country were dropping, and much of the credit was given to tough-on-crime leaders like New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor known for bringing down the Mafia and corrupt corporate financiers. But Dwyer believed that the mayor’s more aggressive policing policies also came with a decrease of transparency, particularly when it came to the NYPD, speculating that “if there were misdemeanors statutes for violating the public access and the freedom of information laws, Giuliani would be in jail. He routinely breaks those laws: he’s been found by courts to do that. [And] one of the areas [where] he’s most suppressed information about is police brutality.” Dwyer added that the criminalization of many nuisance crimes was leading the public, particularly African American youth, to have more interactions with the police —and the results were not pleasant.

The NYPD Blue effect

What role did popular TV shows like NYPD Blue or films like Spike Lee’s adaptation of the Richard Price novel Clockers have on the situation? Dates and Dwyer agreed that both police officers and the public were influenced by the characters portrayed in popular culture; Dates specifically believed that the self-image of African American youth were informed by it, saying that “for them that is a reality, so that violence becomes more of a way of life than what they have experienced in their own lives.” As far as their views of the police, she claimed that “it makes them very cynical about police. [They view the police as] just as bad as the criminals; the only difference is [that] they have a badge.”

Meanwhile, Wolinsky observed how the pendulum had swung in the ways police officers were portrayed, from the idealized partners of TV’s ADAM-12 in the sixties and seventies to the often ethically-challenged rogues of NYPD Blue in the nineties. He believed neither portrayal was “really real.”

For his part, Durk saw that the rogue image was embraced too often by officers, sharing that “it’s a common joke among police circles across the country: ‘You have a right to remain silent as long as you can stand the pain.’”

Wolinsky and Dwyer agreed that big city newsrooms were flooded with more alleged incidents of police misconduct than could be investigated by the media, so what Dwyer termed reports of “garden variety brutality” were “often ignored or tolerated”. So how did the Louima case end up in the headlines? Of course, the brutal sexual perversion of what was alleged arose the public’s prurient interest in itself, but Dwyer’s response was just as troubling: “I think if Louima had been killed . . . the story would probably have not have gotten this amount of coverage, because there would have been a cover account . . . by the officers implicated in this case . . . Had Louima not been alive to give testimony to the contrary, I think this story would not have been as dramatic as it was.”

Reporting on the symptom, but not the condition

Durk lamented that the focus on police brutality stemming from the Louima case was an anomaly, because “the press typically covers an event as opposed to a condition.” Despite that, he pointed out how the officer who contacted McAlary went to the media rather than Internal Affairs, because he was one of “thousands and thousands of honest cops who felt they had nowhere to go” to report misconduct.

McAlary’s reporting would eventually lead to Officer Justin Volpe receiving a sentence of 30 years without parole for his role in the assault. Another officer, Charles Schwartz, would see his conviction for the assault overturned, but would serve five years for perjury.5

In April 1998, McAlary would be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for his columns about the Louima case.6 In December of that year, the colon cancer would take his life.7

Louima reached an $8.7 million settlement from the city and the police union and settled in Florida with his wife and children to run a real estate business.8

1  Lisheron, Mark. “It’s the Story That’s Most Important”, American Journalism Review, 1998, June.


2  Lisheron, op. cit.


3  Levitt, Leonard.  NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country’s Greatest Police Force. New York: Thomas Dunne, 2009, 160-161.


4 Levitt, op. cit., 160-161.


5 Fertig, Beth and Jim O’Grady. “Twenty Years Later: The Police Assault on Abner Louima and What it Means”. WNYC.org, 2017, August 9. Accessed March 26, 2019.


6  The Pulitzer Prizes, “1998 Pulitzer Prizes: Journalism”, pulitzer.org. Accessed March 26, 2019.


7  Firestone, David.  “Mike McAlary, 41, Columnist With Swagger to Match City’s”, The New York Times, 1998, December 26, C6.


8 Fertig and O’Grady, op. cit.

“Dad, if I went to Dartmouth, do you think I’d be mugged?”

Sometime in the 1990s in Japan, the son of Washington Post Japan reporter T.R. Reid’s had just watched a one hour special on Japanese TV which highlighted the high murder rate in New Hampshire. Reid’s son was considering attending Dartmouth College, and he wondered whether attending the Ivy League school would be dangerous. “This,” the journalist thought, “is the picture of our country that comes through over there.”

That was one of the views of America, as seen through the eyes of the media overseas, expressed in a November 5, 1995 On the Media segment. Hosted by Alex S. Jones, it also included a panel with Reid, Claire Bolderson of the BBC, and Victor Fuentes, the New York correspondent of ECO-TV, a Spanish-language news service seen in Latin America.

Bolderson noted the love-hate relationship the British had with America. She said the U.S. was seen as “a violent, terrible place where everyone is going to get killed [that triggers the thought of] ‘how can anybody want to live there?’ . . . At the same time, we envy this country hugely . . . We love it and think it’s successful and prosperous and full of celebrities —and we’re completely fascinated with it.”

In 1995 the media was rife with speculation on a possible presidential run by General Colin Powell. Reid believed that America was managing diversity better than other countries and that “Colin Powell’s election would be spectacular for the image of the U.S. It would prove that diversity works.”

According to Bolderson, America was also seen as a political trendsetter; for instance, Newt Gingrich’s rise was leading European conservatives to “look to the American right” for examples of successful strategies.

Latin America’s view of the U.S., according to Fuentes, also swung between tales of racial strife and economic opportunity, with “streets paved with gold.” This led Jones to quip, “America may not be the land of milk and honey —unless you’re looking at it from Peru.”

“My radical solution is that we consider women human beings”

On January 7, 1997, The New York Times published an op-ed piece by Gloria Steinem titled “Hollywood Cleans Up Hustler” that protested the Oliver Stone-produced and Milos Forman-directed biopic The People vs. Larry Flynt. Steinem wondered whether Stone or Forman would have made a film that lionized a publisher who distributed photos of abused animals, rather than one who degraded women, as she felt they had done in their film version of Flynt’s First Amendment scuffle with Jerry Falwell.1

Less than two weeks later, Steinem spent an hour with On the Media to discuss her protest against the critically acclaimed film, which she called “profoundly dishonest.” The show also heard from callers, some of whom defended Flynt and the film.  

Steinem disapproved of the film’s portrayal of Flynt as a champion of the First Amendment. Her take on those who did not share her assessment was classic Steinem: “You and I can stand up and say anything critical about the president . . . about multinationals . . . about public smoking . . . [and] about all kinds of things and nobody tells us we’re hostile . . . [or] that we’re damaging the First Amendment; yet, uniquely, when we speak against pornography, that’s very often the case.”


1 Steinem, Gloria, “Hollywood Cleans Up Hustler”, The New York Times, January 7, 1997.

1925-1933: The Years That Count

Paul Dirac lecturing at blackboard, Iowa City, Iowa. (original image)

There is no question as to whether Paul Dirac was a great scientist. From his keen eye for mathematical beauties to his contributions as a pioneer in quantum mechanics, one can only argue that Dirac was anything but ordinary.

peak was between the years of 1925 and 1933. Despite being only one of many
theoreticians who aided in the discovery of quantum mechanics, Dirac’s
contribution was entirely special. He created a clear vision for quantum mechanics
as it became a new branch of science and as Freeman Dyson puts it, “His great
discoveries were like exquisitely carved marble statues falling out of the sky,
one after another” (Farmelo 428).

Paul Dirac with W. Heisenberg (with newspaper) in street. (original image)

During this time, Dirac held an 1851 Research Fellowship from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 which allowed him to fund his research for the next three years. He also made close connections with theoretical physicist and quantum mechanics pioneer Werner Heisenberg starting in 1925, which would start a fifty-year friendship. At the young age of 24, Dirac completed his Ph.D. and produced the first thesis on quantum mechanics ever to be produced.

Unlike other quantum theoreticians, whose papers were hard on the eyes and imperfectly formed, Dirac’s book The Principles of Quantum Mechanics gave this new field a fine, polished look. He presented quantum mechanics as if it were a work of art—and to him it most surely was. In 1933, Dirac was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics alongside Erwin Schrödinger for “the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory” which arose from his years of research.

Despite being somewhat of an unknown face in a scientific community where intellectual giants such as Einstein and Darwin are most remembered, Dirac can be “counted as one of the greatest of all scientist” because the notions which were put forth by him are still being developed and continue to contribute to modern thinking (429). Today, scientists can smash together particles at high energies. They have created a huge particle accelerator at CERN which can recreate the conditions of the universe to within a millionth of a millionth of a second of the beginning of time. Dirac acted as a stepping stone for the scientific community by taking the position of a co-discoverer and by authoring the action-principle formulation of quantum mechanics.


Farmelo, Graham, The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius, Faber and Faber 2009.

Paul Yee photographs and audio recordings now available

A few years ago we were delighted to receive the personal papers of author and historian Paul Yee. Yee is one of the founders of the Pender Guy Radio Collective and the author of numerous books for children as well as Saltwater City: An Illustrated History of the Chinese in Vancouver. His records were made available for research in 2014, and, thanks to funding from the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives in 2017 and 2018, we were able to digitize all the photographs in the Paul Yee fonds and now have them available online.

Exterior of Wing Hing Dry Goods, unit block East Pender, April 1981. Reference code: AM1523-S6-F72-: 2008-010.0490

The photographs in the fonds total about 3,700. Many of them come from Yee’s family and his own work, however some were given to Yee from families during interviews and research and Yee kept them as part of his records. About half the photographs form a single photograph series, while the rest are mixed with textual records in files throughout the fonds.

Many of the photographs document the activities of businesses and community organizations such as the Chinese Cultural Centre in Vancouver and the Pender Guy Radio Collective. There are also many photographs showing festivals and various Chinatown neighbourhoods and buildings across Canada.

A Pender Guy volunteer at an on-air broadcast from Strathcona Community Centre, ca. 1978. Reference code: AM1523-S6-F12-: 2008-010.0994

Chinese Cultural Centre volunteer and child at Mid-Summer Festival, Strathcona Community Centre grounds, 1977. Reference code: AM1523-S6-F08-: 2008-010.3863

200 block East Pender Street, looking west, March 1979. Reference code: AM1523-S6-F70-: 2008-010.0450

There are also many family photographs documenting Yee family holidays and showing immediate family members, including his Aunt Lillian and Uncle Foon Wong, and their close friends.

Hand coloured portrait of Lillian (Ho) Wong, ca. 1912. Reference code: AM1523-S5-1-: 2008-010.4347

Lillian Ho Wong, Vernon Yee and Paul Yee (1961). Reference code: AM1523-S5-1-F019-: 2008-010.3787

In addition to being an activist and writer, Yee was also an archivist and public servant, working first at the City of Vancouver Archives and then the Archives of Ontario. His personal records therefore reflect some of his work caring for the records of others. Here he is in front of his office at the AO.

Paul Yee at the door to his office at the Archives of Ontario, ca. 1990. Reference code: AM1523-S6-F75-: 2008-010.0565

And here he catches our Digital Conservator Sue Bigelow at work in the vault at CVA in 1986. Sue is still here today!

Conservator Sue Bigelow working in the stacks at the City of Vancouver Archives, 1986. Reference code: AM1523-S6-F23-: 2008-010.1378

Additionally, we have finished digitizing and uploading Yee’s 1977/1978 and 1987 oral history interviews with Chinese Canadian seniors and community members. These recordings are now online as well. Here is one example where Dick Yip recalls his youth and young adulthood in early 20th century Chinatown.

The audio recordings are a rich resource that provide details and stories about the people and places that are central to the history of Vancouver’s Chinatown.

We hope you enjoy searching and experiencing these newly available resources.

The Birth of a Cable News Nation: On the Media on the debut of Fox News

Bitter rival billionaire media moguls with titanic egos…A politically ambitious mayor…Deals and double deals…The birth of Fox News played out like an epic Tom Wolfe satire come to life, and was the topic of discussion for an October 13, 1996 segment of On the Media.

Fox News was a late entrant to the newly-waged cable news war: MSNBC, a collaboration between NBC News and Microsoft, had first aired as a cable news competitor to CNN three months earlier. But when News Corp Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch finally got his entry on the air on October 7, 1996, it could not be seen by 1.1 million New York City cable subscribers.1

Why could the majority of New York City cable subscribers not see Fox News unless they were strolling past the FNC studio windows in Midtown Manhattan? As television critic Eric Mink explained in a column for the New York Daily News (a competitor to Murdoch’s New York Post): “Toss a dart at the Time Warner/Fox News Channel dispute, and hit a hypocrite…” 2

Time Warner had merged with Ted Turner’s Turner Broadcasting System in 1995. As part of the Federal Trade Commission approval of the merger, Time Warner, which operated Time Warner Cable, the leading cable provider in New York City, had to allow access to another cable news channel to compete with CNN.1

Digital cable and its vastly broader bandwidth was still years away, so providers had a finite set of stations to allot (as lamented in the 1992 Bruce Springsteen single “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)”). In the case of Time Warner Cable, there were 75 channels and nothin’ for Fox News to be on: Time Warner had already given one to slot MSNBC when it launched to replace NBC’s America’s Talking channel. Murdoch was willing to overpay for access (reportedly $10 per subscriber.) He thought he’d made a deal with Time Warner to carry Fox News, but Time Warner changed its mind, citing its previous agreement with NBC. 3

That’s when New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani entered the picture. Murdoch’s Post had endorsed Giuliani’s candidacy and defended his administration’s policies after his election; Giuliani’s then-wife, Donna Hanover, was an on-air personality for the local Fox station’s newscast. Since Time Warner would not give Fox News a slot, the city floated the idea of using one of the city’s five public access Crosswalks channels to show Fox News. Adding to the mix of conflicting interests was that Time Warner Cable’s franchise agreement with the city was up for renewal in 1998 —but that did not keep Time Warner from suing to keep the city from giving a Crosswalks channel to Fox. Then, Murdoch threatened to move the Fox News studios and their reported 14,075 jobs out of the city. Since MSNBC’s studios were across the Hudson in Secaucus, and CNN was headquartered in Atlanta, Giuliani pitched support for Fox as the Big Apple job creator of the three channels. 3, 4

Not lost on anyone was the disdain Murdoch and Turner had for each other. Turner had branded Murdoch a “schlockmeister” and compared him to “the late Führer” 1, and as television critic Marvin Kitman joked during a September 29 segment of On the Media, “Murdoch wanted a cable news network because he feels CNN is a left wing organization and it’s under the influence of Ted Turner and Hanoi Jane, as he still calls Jane Fonda…” (Turner and Fonda were married then.)

Pundits wondered what Fox News meant when it promoted itself as “fair and balanced”.5 Would it hew conservative as the front and editorial pages of Murdoch’s Post did, or would it end up in the middle-of-the-political-road, as Kitman was predicting? On the Media panelist Mike Schneider, a Fox News anchor, said he thought the channel made clear delineations between its news and opinion programming.

Was there really an audience for two, let alone three, all-news cable channels? Were there enough advertising dollars for all of them? Panelists Elizabeth Lesly, media editor of Businessweek, and Mark Jurkowitz, ombudsman of The Boston Globe, and Mink, as well as many experts, were skeptical. A few weeks earlier Kitman had quipped, “It’s not going to be very widely seen. That’s one of the major problems with Fox News…In some cities you’ll be able to pick it up on your toaster and electric toothbrush.”

While these initial questions and controversies continued to swirl, later OTM segments would follow the fighting as the first volleys of the great cable news war were fired.


1 Young, Steve. “Fox News takes on CNN”. money.cnn.com, 1996, October 7.


2 Mink, Eric. “Fox-TW spat full of phony baloney lotsa hot air in this fight, but viewers are out in the cold”, New York Daily News, 1996, October 10.


3 Landler, Mark. “Giuliani pressures Time Warner to transmit a Fox channel”, The New York Times, 1996, October 4.


4 Levy, Clifford J.  “An old friend called Giuliani, and New York’s cable clash was on“, The New York Times, 1996, November 4


5 Mifflin, Lawrie. “At the new Fox News Channel, the buzzword is fairness, separating news from bias”, The New York Times, 1996, October 7.

Everglades National Park Commission Papers

Dew in the morning, NPSphoto, G.Gardner
Dew in the morning, NPSphoto, G.Gardner

In our current climate of growing environmental concern, the
condition and protection of national parks has become a recurring part of our
24-hour news cycle. Everglades National Park is Florida’s most famous national
park and is as central to the state’s identity as its famous beaches. According
to the
Park Foundation
, over one million visitors from all parts of the globe
visit Everglades National Park every year. The park has also been lauded as a
World Heritage Site, as well as an International Biosphere Reserve and a Wetland
of International Importance. But how did the Everglades go from millions of
acres of unprotected swampland to one of the United States’ most important and
unique protected natural spaces?

Through the power of bureaucracy, of course!

As August Burghard, Chairman of the Everglades National Park Commission, notes in a 1946 letter, “To The Property Owners Within the Everglades National Park Area”, “The Everglades National Park is not a new thing. It had its beginning in 1929 when the Florida legislature passed an Act providing for the acquisition of the park lands and property in Dade, Monroe, and Collier Counties for the purpose of conveying the same to the United States Government to be used as a National Park.” The letter further details the reasons for the creation of the Everglades National Park and the Commission’s duty in acquiring land by donation to achieve this end. This letter, as well as the minutes from the first meeting of the Everglades National Park Commission are available for viewing in the Special Collections Reading Room. If you would like to dive into some of the earliest history of Florida’s most famous national park, you can start your journey here

William E. Barton Collection of Walt Whitman Materials

The William E. Barton Collection of Walt Whitman Materials was compiled by Barton and gifted to the Amherst College Archives by his grandson Randall Barton (AC 1937) in 1968.

A head-and-shoulders portrait of Walt Whitman facing front by photographer George C. Cox, mounted on gray paper. Whitman's signature is on the mount beneath the portrait.

Portrait of Walt Whitman by photographer George C. Cox, Box 1 Folder 30A

William Eleazar Barton (1861-1930) was an American Congregational minister, lecturer, teacher, and author. He was born in Sublette, Illinois in 1861 to Jacob and Helen (Methven) Barton. After becoming ordained in 1885, Barton married Esther Treat Bushnell and became a missionary in Robbins, Tennessee. Barton served as minister in Robbins, Tennessee, then Oak Park, Illinois until his retirement in 1924. Barton died in Brooklyn, New York in 1930.


 Walt Whitman notes on consciousnes, Box 1 Folder 7

In addition to his role as a Congregational minister, Barton wrote and published numerous books. While most known for his extensive research on Abraham Lincoln, Barton appears to have collected these Walt Whitman manuscripts and related materials, perhaps while conducting research for his 1928 published volume Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman.


 Walt Whitman unidentified pros, Box 1 Folder 10

The collection contains a small assortment of Whitman manuscripts, portraits, and various printed material. The collection also contains few items created by William E. Barton, including research notes, transcriptions, photostatic copies, and correspondence.


Army hospitals and cases: memoranda at the time, 1863-‘6, Box 1 Folder 1

More information about another item from this collection, John Burroughs’s autograph manuscript of “Flight of the Eagle” with emendations by Walt Whitman, can be found in this past blog post: https://consecratedeminence.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/1606/


John Burroughs, “Flight of the Eagle”

The final version of “Flight of the Eagle” was published as the last essay in John Burroughs’s Birds and poets (New York : Hurd and Houghton, 1877). This manuscript has been separated from the collection and cataloged: https://fcaw.library.umass.edu/F/?func=direct&doc_number=012465161&doc_library=FCL01.

A finding aid for the William E. Barton Collection of Walt Whitman Materials is available.  Much of this collection has been digitized and is available in the Amherst College Digital Collections.

A Portrait in Courage at the Norwood Reading Room

This post was written by Kacee Reguera, an undergraduate senior at FSU pursuing a Studio Art degree in Printmaking, Artist’s Books, and Photography. A love for art preservation and the history of our university led her to an internship with Heritage & University Archives at Special Collections.

During the summer of 2018, we received a collection of items belonging to Katherine W.  Montgomery and her family. Katherine Montgomery attended Florida State College for Women from 1914 to 1918 and became heavily involved in athletics. She was on the varsity team of several sports, a member of the F-Club, and the sports editor for The Florida Flambeau. In 1920, she began teaching Physical Education at Florida State College for Women (FSCW) and spent over 30 years leading the Physical Education department. She developed curriculum for the intramural athletics program at FSCW, spearheaded the construction of a new gymnasium, and even published a book titled “Volleyball for Women”. Katherine Montgomery’s contributions to our university have proved timeless. We used this collection as an opportunity to commemorate her lasting effect on our university.

1 red rose
Note from Katherine’s Diary

The collection contains items belonging to three generations of Montgomery family members. Katherine had two younger sisters that also attended FSCW during the 1920s. The collection includes diaries and scrapbooks belonging to each of them. These items brought to light how involved with FSCW the Montgomery family really was.

diary poem
Page from Katherine’s Diary

scrapbook page
Page from Anne Montgomery’s Scrapbook

This collection was gathered over time by Edwin F. Montgomery, Katherine’s nephew. Many of the items in the collection are ephemera relating to Katherine’s passing. These items provide a much broader understanding of the impact Katherine had not only on her community, but also on individuals.

Telefax from Dr. Grace Fox to Edwin F. Montgomery

With the new items acquired from this collection and some from previously held collections, we curated an exhibit in the Norwood Reading Room at Strozier Library that forms a better understanding of Katherine’s values and ideals, as well as her contributions to Florida State College for Women and Florida State University. The exhibit features Katherine’s original mortarboard and tassel, excerpts from her diaries and notebooks, and awards she received.

The Norwood Reading Room is located on the second floor of Strozier Library and is open Monday-Thursday, 10am to 6pm and on Fridays 10am to 5:30pm. Please stop by to see the new exhibit!

Happy Sunshine Week 2019!

Each year, Sunshine Week honors and promotes a dialogue about the importance of open government and access to information—values that are central to the mission of the National Archives and Records Administration.

I can’t think of a better place to be celebrating Sunshine Week than here at the National Archives, because we not only contribute, but serve as a leader in open government. This year’s celebration of information access began with an event on Monday, March 11, where I was fortunate to host a special one-on-one conversation with Beryl A. Howell, Chief Justice of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Our discussion on the role of the Freedom of Information Act, open government, transparency, and the legal landscape was sponsored by the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS).

Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell, U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, and Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero discuss open government and the legal landscape at Sunshine Week events on March 11, 2019, at the National Archives in Washington, DC. (National Archives photo by Martha Murphy)

Other highlights of the day included opening remarks by U.S. Senator John Cornyn of Texas, and closing remarks by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Both lawmakers have had a role in the evolution of FOIA and shared their views on its role in an open and accessible government. We also hosted a discussion panel, moderated by Thomas M. Susman, Director of Governmental Affairs for the American Bar Association and Founding President of the D.C. Open Government Coalition, looking at “OGIS @ 10: Past/Present/Future.” A second panel, moderated by Jason Baron, Of Counsel, Information Governance and eDiscovery Group, Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP, explored the topic “Looking into the Crystal Ball: How Will Electronic Recordkeeping in Government Agencies Change over the Next 10 Years?”

More information about this event and participants is available on our Sunshine Week website. My conversation with Judge Howell, as well as the other panels and discussions from the event are now available to watch on the National Archives YouTube channel.

Throughout Sunshine Week, the National Archives is also sponsoring a special citizen archivist mission focusing on transcription of two historically important civil rights cases held at the National Archives at Atlanta: Browder V. Gayle, which contains documents resulting from a Federal court suit that challenged segregation within Montgomery, Alabama’s public transportation system, and Williams V. Wallace, a lawsuit that was pivotal in inspiring Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Citizen Archivist Dashboard offers more information on how to engage in the transcription challenge.

You can find other events throughout the government celebrating Sunshine Week 2019 on the Sunshine Week’s Event Calendar. To learn more about OGIS’s work, visit their web page or follow the FOIA Ombudsman blog.

At the fulcrum of history: Katharine Graham on On the Media

Watergate. The Pentagon Papers. The Washington Post and its trailblazing publisher Katharine Graham were key players in uncovering these history-shaping stories.

Graham recalled her courageous stands during a February 9, 1997 On the Media interview, describing the background behind some of the stories that shook the nation. A self-described “doormat wife”, Graham took over leadership of the paper after her husband committed suicide in 1963 and led it as it became a nationally recognized paper of record.1 Her role in the Pentagon Papers conflict was depicted in Steven Spielberg’s 2017 film The Post, which earned Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Graham.2

Graham was also the force behind young reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and executive editor Ben Bradlee in their pursuit of the Watergate break-in story that led to the resignation of Richard Nixon.1 During cases like these, she put herself at great risk of losing the paper and her freedom in pursuit of the truth.

Graham was with On the Media for the publication of her brutally honest autobiography Personal History and discussed her decisions during the Pentagon Papers and Watergate periods, as well as how, during her years at the helm, she led The Washington Post to become a well respected source for groundbreaking reporting.

1 “Katharine Graham”. The New York Times, 2001, July 18, A22.

2 Morgan, David. Oscars 2018: Best Actress nominees. CBS News, 2018, March 4.

Remembering “Remembering Vietnam”

Our exhibit commemorating the Vietnam War closed last week after a 15-month run in our Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery. We used the records in our holdings as well as interviews with historians, American and Vietnamese military and civilians to describe twelve critical episodes in the Vietnam War from Truman Sides with France (1946-53) to the Fall of Saigon in 1975.

Remembering Vietnam exhibit. Photo by National Archives photographer Jeff Reed.

The title of the exhibit comes from an important book by the Vietnamese-American writer, Viet Thanh Nguyen—Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War—in which he reminds us that wars are fought twice, once on the battlefield and once in memory.

That message was clearly reinforced in 15 months of programming supporting the exhibit, thousands of tourists visiting the exhibit, Wounded Warrior visits, Honor Flight participants, school groups, family groups, Vietnam Veterans and their

In the Gallery, we provided an opportunity for visitors to reflect on what they had seen and heard and leave us their thoughts:

“We are a family of Vietnamese refugees, here because of the war.”

“My dad lost his leg and got mean after the war.”

“When I was a young girl, I remember my mother baking
cookies, packing them and sending them to my uncle in Vietnam.”

“My dad died of Agent Orange.”

“My father served from 69-70.  My whole childhood and his entire adult life
was marked by personal, emotional and medical trauma from his service.  Let us never repeat that.”

“My grandpa is MIA from the Vietnam War and it
harshly affected my grandmother.”

“My mom, along with her 3 siblings and her
parents, fled Vietnam 2 days before the Fall of Saigon.”

As a Vietnam Vet, this was an important 15 months to me personally. I often wandered into the exhibit to see who was there, how they were interacting and reacting to the materials we had chosen, and listened in to the hushed conversations—parents explaining to their children, Vietnam Vets comparing notes, lots of tears on every visit. 

We were lucky to have the North Carolina Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association with us twice—with three choppers from the war sited on our Constitution Avenue lawn.  They drew the curious and the informed. They shared their stories and reminded those of us who returned how lucky we were.

Members of the North Carolina Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association talk to visitors on the Constitution Avenue lawn of the National Archives. Photo by Jeff Reed.

I am forever grateful to our exhibit curator, Alice Kamps, and a dedicated and creative exhibits and programming staff for executing such a quality experience and commemoration. And to our National Archives Foundation for their financial and spiritual support!

Early on the morning after the exhibit closed and just before deinstallation began, I had my last walk through. It was a powerfully emotional experience, as it was during my first walk through before the exhibit opened. Proud of what we accomplished!

Looking back at High School in Tallahassee 1957-1987

Since September of last year, FSU Libraries has partnered with Leon High School, Florida’s oldest continually accredited high school, to digitize their school yearbooks and newspaper and provide access to those materials through the FSU Digital Library. This has been a rewarding community partnership for the Digital Library Center and Special Collections & Archives here at FSU as it has allowed us to work closely with members of the Tallahassee community and also given those of us working on the project, many not Tallahassee natives, a unique view into the life of high schoolers in our city starting in the 1920s.

A page spread from the May 15, 1981, Leon High Life. View entire issue here

A new batch of Leon High School (LHS) newspapers was just loaded into the FSU Digital Library. This set spans from 1957 to 1987 during which our area, and the world, saw a massive amount of growth and change, especially technological change. The 1950s issues sport ads for film-based cameras, record shops, and lunch counter drug stores. Fast forward to the 1980s where cassette tapes, college radio, and computers all enter the high school parlance. Not to mention the cultural and social changes these issues record from the point of view of a high schooler. It is a truly fascinating way to look at the history of Tallahassee, Florida and beyond.

You can browse all the LHS newspaper issues here and look at the entire LHS collection here which includes 80 editions of their yearbook, The Lion’s Tale.

Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote

Today’s post comes from Debra
Steidel Wall, Deputy Archivist of the United States.

Almost 100 years ago, the United States House and Senate passed the proposed 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
A little over a year later the 36th
state – Tennessee – ratified it
, and the new amendment prohibiting the
states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of
the United States on the basis of sex became law.

Photograph of Suffrage Parade, 1913. National Archives Identifier 593561

Here at the National Archives we are making plans to commemorate this important anniversary.

The cornerstone of our celebration is a new exhibit, Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote. It will run in our Lawrence O’Brien Gallery at our building in Washington, DC, from May 10, 2019, through January 3, 2021. The exhibit commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment by looking beyond suffrage parades and protests to the often-overlooked story behind the landmark moment in American history. This fuller retelling of the struggle for women’s voting rights uses our records to
illustrate the dynamic involvement of American women across the spectrum of race, ethnicity, and class to reveal what it really took to win the vote for one half of the people.

This exhibit will be complemented by a traveling exhibit called One Half of the People: Advancing Equality for Women; pop-up exhibits for schools and other venues; a range of public programs and education programs; an active social media campaign; and robust digital engagement activities on our web sites and other platforms.

We’ve put together a group of staff from around the country to coordinate NARA’s activities relating to the commemoration. One of the things we will explore is how to
acknowledge the complicated and painful reality of a suffrage movement that abandoned women of color.

In addition, I’m proud to represent the National Archives as a member of the Congressional Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission.  The commission was established by Congress in 2017 “to ensure a suitable observance of the centennial of the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States providing for women’s suffrage.” The Commission recently held a public meeting at the National Archives in Washington, and is working on exciting ideas for the

Women Marching in Suffragette Parade, Washington, DC. National Archives Identifier 24520426

One of the special things about working in an archives is the opportunity to see original records in the course of your work. Recently, I had the chance to view the original 19th Amendment. I reflected on how this unassuming-looking document, many messy decades in the making, empowered millions of women to step closer to equality in all aspects of American life, and, how, the records we hold at the National Archives reflect that journey.

BC Gay and Lesbian Archives Posters Now Available Online!

We are very pleased to announce that all 1,936 posters in the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives (BCGLA) collection are now available online, thanks to funding from the National Heritage Digitization Strategy (NHDS). The B.C. Gay and Lesbian Archives Audiovisual and Graphic Material Digitization Project was chosen as one of 21 national projects that received funding from the NHDS late last year. This funding, made possible thanks to the generous support of a private donor, allows cultural heritage institutions and organizations to digitize and make accessible Canadian documentary heritage materials. The Archives received $71,388 to digitize, describe and provide online access to almost 2,000 posters, 5,400 photographs, and over 200 video and audio recordings from the BCGLA dating back as far as the 1940s.

Celebration ’90 poster, 1990. Reference code: AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.1394


The digitization project began by re-housing, describing and digitizing the posters series. With a grand total of 1,936 posters, the collection represents a broad range of events and is an interesting example of the history of graphic design in Vancouver.

International Women’s Day poster, 1988.
Reference code: AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.0811

The posters were used to promote various events including health campaigns, demonstrations, activism, club activities and recruitment, pageants, arts events, theatre and dance shows organized by and for LGBTQ2+ communities in Vancouver and British Columbia. Here is just a small sample of the breadth of subject matter in the posters digitized as part of this project:

Persons with AIDS Coalition benefit poster, 1987. Reference code: AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.1454

Vancouver Gay Games poster, 1984. Reference code: AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.1696

Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society poster, 1995. Reference code: AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.1438

Dogwood Monarchist Society poster, 1988. Reference code: AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.1642

Out on the screen poster, 1993. Reference code: AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.1770

Reproduction and use of the posters 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.


Many of the posters are printed using the halftone technique, which uses dots to create an image.

Detail showing halftone dot pattern. Reference code AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.1853

If the dot pattern has not been digitized with a high enough resolution, then some strange patterns will appear on the digitized image. We have digitized the halftone posters so that our master TIFF files do not show any strange patterns when viewed at 100%. Some of the JPG files seen online could show some patterns depending on the resolution of the monitor or the browser used to view them.

Here are some examples of the patterns produced.

Detail from a lower resolution scan (400ppi) of “HeartLand : the landscape of the soul”. The various crosshatch patterns are not on the original poster. Reference code AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.0842

Detail from a higher resolution scan (600ppi) of “HeartLand : the landscape of the soul”. Reference code AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.0842

Detail from a lower resolution scan (400ppi) of “Hoarse Raven Theatre presents Hedwig and the Angry Inch”. Note the horizontal yellow lines in the face. Reference code AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.0856

Detail from a higher resolution scan (600ppi) of “Hoarse Raven Theatre presents Hedwig and the Angry Inch”. Reference code AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.0856

Detail from a lower resolution scan (400ppi) of “British Columbia Persons with AIDS Society : I have HIV. It’s complicated. We need to talk about it : prevention at BCPWA”. Note the brown diagonal lines. The image is produced from a pattern of lines rather than dots. Reference code AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.0860

Detail from a higher resolution scan (600ppi) of “British Columbia Persons with AIDS Society : I have HIV. It’s complicated. We need to talk about it : prevention at BCPWA”. Reference code AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.0860

Detail from a lower resolution scan (400ppi) of “Home again by David Blue”. Note the brown diagonal lines. Reference code AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.1585

Detail from a higher resolution scan (600ppi) of “Home again by David Blue”. Reference code AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.1585

Detail from a lower resolution scan (400ppi) of “Coronation ’86 : our jaded ways : a state of mind”. Note the brown diagonal lines. Reference code AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.1807

Detail from a higher resolution scan (600ppi) of “Coronation ’86 : our jaded ways : a state of mind”. Reference code AM1675-S3-: 2018-020.1807

We aim to have the BCGLA photographs and audiovisual materials available online by the end of August. For more information about the BCGLA itself, please refer to our previous blog posts announcing the donation and availability of the subject files and the availability of the periodicals, as well as coverage by the Star and Outlook TV (at the 11:10 mark).

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.

Paul Dirac: Early Adulthood and the Start of a Scientific Career

Paul Dirac formal portrait, wearing academic cap and gown. (original image)

Paul Dirac’s record was almost flawless as an undergraduate. In three years, Dirac nearly managed to be at the top of his class in all subjects, the only flaw being a single Strength of Materials course where he ranked second. After receiving his engineering degree at the young age of nineteen, Dirac went on to Cambridge where he pursued a degree in mathematics.

While Dirac was studying and moving forward in his academics, his older brother Felix had settled in Birmingham working in a machine-testing factory. Charles Dirac had supported Paul in his education, going so far as to give him the money necessary to be sure of solvency in Cambridge. However, Charles Dirac had refused Felix his desire to study medicine as he wished. Felix earned little money as a factory worker and was unhappy with how his life was turning out.

Bristol. Florence Dirac at the grave of son Felix. (original image)

In early January of 1925, Felix left his job, stopped writing to his parents and sister, and began living from his savings. A few months later, in March, Paul Dirac received a letter at Cambridge from his aunt Nell. Felix had committed suicide. Dirac’s feelings about this occurrence are unknown, however, after returning home to his family for a short time, it appears that Dirac went back to work as usual.

is speculated that the plummet of Dirac’s productivity in the following months
was due to grief. Dirac’s focus was also making a shift during these years of study
as he was transitioning from working on solvable problems to looking for new,
fundamental research problems. In October of 1925, Dirac entered his last year
of postgraduate studies. During this year was when Dirac first set out the mathematical
basis of quantum theory parallel to the classical theory. Dirac came up with a
theory which sought to describe the behavior of all quantum particles in all circumstances
throughout all of time.

Only a month later, Dirac had finished writing his paper titled, “Fundamental Equations of Quantum Mechanics”. On December 1st, the same day a historical non-aggression pact between France, Germany, and Belgium called the Treaty of Locarno was signed, Dirac’s paper was published by the Royal Society. This marked the start of when Dirac became recognized in the scientific community. Though part of his results had already been discovered by German physicist and mathematician Max Born, Dirac had become a part of a collection of mathematicians and scientists which sought to crystallize quantum mechanics into a complete theory. A year later, in June of 1926, Dirac would pursue a Ph.D. where he would become the first to write a thesis on matters of quantum mechanics.   


Farmelo, Graham, The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius, Faber and Faber 2009.

Triad History Day, April 6

Triad History Day
Saturday, April 6, 2019
10AM through 3PM
Greensboro History Museum

Join us for the first annual Triad History Day on Saturday, April 6, 2019, from 10AM until 3PM, at the Greensboro History Museum (130 Summit Ave, Greensboro, NC 27401).

Triad History Day is a one-day public festival focused on Triad history, both the stories and the people who preserve them. The event will feature a “history hall” with displays from history organizations, a series of lightning round talks focused on local history, as well as booths focused on oral history, preservation advice, and digitization of community materials.

History Hall:

Visitors can learn more about local archives, museums, libraries, and other historical organizations in the “history hall.” Participating institutions include representation from all over the Triad. See the complete participating institution list below.

A series of short talks about local Triad history will take place throughout the day, with speakers announced in late March.

Digitization Station:

Visitors with photographs or other records that help document Triad history can bring materials to the scanning station at Triad History Day. There, archivists will scan the materials for inclusion in UNC Greensboro’s community history portal. Visitors will also receive a copy of the scan.

Oral History Booth:

An oral history booth will allow participants the opportunity to record a 15-minute interview about an interesting story related to the Triad region. Interviews may involve two friends having a conversation, a family member interviewing a family member, or an individual being interviewed by a UNCG graduate students serving as an oral history facilitator. Interviews would be made available through the TriadHistory.org digital collection portal.

List of participating institutions:

  • African American Genealogical Society
  • Alamance Battlegound
  • American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame Foundation
  • Belk Library, Elon University
  • Blandwood/Preservation Greensboro
  • Bluford Library, NC A&T State University
  • Charlotte Hawkins Brown
  • Digital Collections, University Libraries, UNG Greensboro
  • Green Book Project, NC African American Heritage Commission
  • Greensboro History Museum
  • Greensboro Public Library
  • Guilford County Register of Deeds
  • High Point Museum
  • Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Greensboro
  • Holgate Library, Bennett College
  • Mendenhall Homeplace of Historic Jamestown Society
  • Moravian Archives
  • North Carolina Collection, Forsyth County Public Library
  • O’Kelly Library, Winston-Salem State University
  • People Not Property, UNC Greensboro
  • PRIDE of the Community, UNC Greensboro
  • Quaker Archives, Guilford College
  • Well Crafted, UNC Greensboro
  • ZSR Library, Wake Forest University

Facebook event details

Exploring the Alicia Korenman Graphic Novels Collection (1983-2007)

Will Eisner Week kicked off on March 1st, so it’s a great time to remind library users of the rich graphic novel and comics resources available in Special Collections & Archives. If you’re wondering who Will Eisner is and why he gets his own week, you can check out SCA Manuscript Archivist Rory Grennan’s brief and informative essay on Eisner’s contribution to comic books here. Florida State University boasts multiple collections with emphases on comic books and graphic novels, including the Robert M. Ervin Jr. Collection[ and the Alicia Korenman Graphic Novels Collection.

Cover art from
Tripodologia Felina, no. 1, 1992 in the Alicia Korenman Graphic Novels Collection

            The Alicia Korenman Graphic Novels Collection is a diverse collection of media, including comic books and strips, graphic novels, zines, books, as well as DVDs and VHS tapes. As detailed in the collection’s finding aid, Korenman’s interest in how women were portrayed by the comic book industry began in the 1990s. She discovered that alternative and small press comic book publishers tendered stories based on everyday experiences and emotions, as well as the female experience.

contents of the collection run the gamut from classic Archie comics from the
1990s to Japanese manga, including a manga adaptation of the popular anime
Cowboy Bebop, as well as a robust assortment of zines. What’s a zine? A zine, according to the Barnard Zine
, is “short for fanzine or magazine, […] a DIY subculture
self-publication, usually made on paper and reproduced with a photocopier or a
printer.” While several zines are in English, at least two titles are also in
Spanish, including Tripodologia Felina, no. 1 (published in 1992 by Producciones
Balazo) and Asi Pasan los Dias/Escuadron Rescate (written and published by Matt
Madden and Jessica Abel, published in 1998). The self-published and small-scale
nature of zines complements Korenman’s interest in more personal stories.

These zines are only the tip of the iceberg and we at
Special Collections & Archives encourage students, faculty, and members of
the public to check out the collection, and our other resources at any time!

For those interested in Eisner Week activities, there are two events happening in the Bradley Reading Room in Strozier Library from March 1-7:

March 5: Graphic Novel Literacy Panel –  https://www.facebook.com/events/424490508306147/

March 7: A Conversation with Will Eisner- https://www.facebook.com/events/298756474133249/

Post written by Lisa Play.

City Makes the Case for Public Broadcasting

WNYC went on the air for the first time on July 8, 1924 at 570 kc (kilocycles). It was a plumb spot on the dial, the first station on the AM band. So it was no surprise that WNYC’s control over such a desirable frequency would be challenged if those running the station were not vigilant. Radio, after all, was the ascendant media platform of its day and competition for a finite number of frequencies was keen. WMCA owner Donald Flamm sought the coveted location and argued that WNYC was not adequately utilizing this slim portion of the radio spectrum. 

On November 11, 1928, the Federal Radio Commission (FRC, the FCC’s predecessor agency) granted WMCA approval to use 570 kc, thus forcing WNYC into a time-sharing arrangement. Though not uncommon at the time, the compact proved to be fraught, and by July 1929, Flamm filed a complaint with the government maintaining that WNYC frequently delayed “signing off, thus destroying the promptness and regularity of WMCA’s broadcasting schedule.” A protracted battle for control of the valuable frequency followed, and then, on April 30, 1932, the FRC ruled that WNYC had to give up 570 kc and move up the dial to 810 kc.

Led by City Corporation Counsel Arthur J. W. Hilly, (pictured above), the City of New York appealed the decision, countering WMCA’s claims and arguing that “the need of the people for municipal services is greater than their need of more commercial broadcasting.”  An abstract of Hilly’s brief to the FRC follows in which he passionately makes the case for public broadcasting. It was originally published in Education By Radio, the monthly newsletter of the National Committee for Education by Radio in its August 18, 1932 edition. 

Abstract of a 1932 legal brief before the Federal Radio Commission by WNYC defending its use of the 570 kc frequency by NYC Corporation Counsel Arthur J. W. Hilly. pg.1
(Education By Radio, August 18, 1932/Media History Digital Library)


Abstract of a 1932 legal brief before the Federal Radio Commission by WNYC defending its use of the 570 kc frequency by NYC Corporation Counsel Arthur J. W. Hilly. pg.2
(Education By Radio, August 18, 1932/Media History Digital Library)


Abstract of a 1932 legal brief before the Federal Radio Commission by WNYC defending its use of the 570 kc frequency by NYC Corporation Counsel Arthur J. W. Hilly. pg.3
(Education By Radio, August 18, 1932/Media History Digital Library)

However, Hilly’s effort failed: the appeals court refused to rule on the issue of commercial versus non-commercial interests, and ordered the frequency shift had to take place on June 5, 1933 —thus setting the stage for a whole new struggle between WNYC and WCCO in Minneapolis. But that’s another blog piece to be written.   

Rabbi Says: Giving Women the Vote Will Mean the End of War!

Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage pin. (LSE Library/Wikimedia Commons)

Rabbi S. Stephen Wise was a founding member of the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage, an American group formed in 1910. Within a few years the membership organization had acquired some reputable movers and shakers of the day, including the philosopher John Dewey, progressive publisher Oswald Garrison Villard, author Max Eastman, journalist George Creel and banker/philanthropist George Foster Peabody.

The organization’s charter stated: “the purpose of this league shall be to express approval of the movement of women to attain the full suffrage in this country, and to aid them in their efforts toward that end by public appearances in behalf of the cause, by the circulation of literature, the holding of meetings, and in such other ways as from time to time seem desirable.”

With that goal in mind, members marched, held fundraisers, wrote editorials, gave speeches, lobbied legislators, represented suffragists in court, and yes, even produced a phonograph recording calling for a woman’s right to vote.

1915 Pathe’ recording by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise.
(A. Lanset Collection)

The flip side of this rare 1915 record has the voice of Gertrude Foster Brown, head of the New York State Women’s Suffrage Association. You can read about her and hear what she had to say at: Listen to a 101-Year-Old Clarion Call for Women’s Suffrage Preserved in Shellac.


Special thanks to Daniel Sbardella for his expert sonic extraction from the vertically cut grooves at 80 rpm.


Like a fish trying to imagine what reality would be like without water

Technology has led children to be narcissistic, distracted, and unable to focus.1, 2, 3 Those are all criticisms of the 21st century’s connected digital world. But before the age of smartphones, YouTube, text messaging, and social media, the same claims were made about television.

On the eve of TV-Turnoff Week 1996, On the Media delved into the consequences of America’s addiction to television. Alex S. Jones hosted a panel that consisted of Henry Lebalme, executive director of TV-Free America, the group behind TV-Turnoff Week (now Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood); Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism, sociology, and communications at Columbia University; and Michael Kettenring, a veteran television news executive.  

By 1996 television was a mature medium that had long been in the majority of American households: Ninety percent of U.S. households had a television in 1960, and by 1996 that number was near total saturation.4 Lebalme quoted statistics from Nielsen Media Research reporting that the average American was watching four hours of television a day, which translated to 60 full days per year and nine years of solid TV viewing by the time a person turned 65. He thought TV viewing had replaced healthier activities like conversation, family interaction, and physical exercise.

Kettering, the television executive, pointed out that, when used properly, the medium did have positive aspects: “More than ever in the history of humankind we are an informed nation and for the first time… peoples across the globe have an opportunity to reach each other, reach out to each other, learn about each other…we really do have the power to build a global village.” He added that, unfortunately, “Television in general has made us a materialistic culture, desensitized us, made us unprincipled, passive-aggressive, kept us adolescent…We almost literally have become a country of empty suits.”

Kettering also wondered about the changes in students that Gitlin might ascribe to the influence of television. Gitlin said many of his students’ attitudes followed the guidelines of “don’t tell us anything too complicated. Don’t make us read anything too complicated. Don’t make us write an essay. We want to do multiple choice. Don’t make me sit and respond to an argument. Let me come up with a snappy rebuttal.”

How much had television overwhelmed American society? Gitlin mused: “It’s incredibly hard to imagine what America would be without television. It’s sort of like fish trying to imagine what reality would be like without water.”

As society’s addiction has turned to immersion in digital devices in the 21st century, TV-Turnoff Week has become Screen-Free Week, celebrated April 29-May 5, 2019. You might find it ironic that the event has a website: screenfree.org.


1 Taylor, Jim. “Are Media Creating a Generation of Narcissists?” Psychology Today, 23 October, 2012.

2Taylor, Jim. “How Technology is Changing the Way Children Think and Focus”. Psychology Today, 4 December, 2012.

3Taylor, Jim. “Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Multitaskers”. Psychology Today, 19 December, 2012.

4 Gorman, Bill. “US Television Households by Season”. TV By the Numbers, 28 August, 2007.

Catalogue updates – February 2019

Lise Summers
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 – 16:31

Long term users of our catalogue will know that we moved to a new system in August 2015.  Like all systems, the software is constantly updating and improving, and we have been working with our providers to get our system upgraded from AtoM 2.0 to 2.4.  Four years is a long time to wait for an upgrade so the sailing hasn’t been as smooth as we would have liked, but the time is right and we are moving the catalogue to the new system over the Labor Day long weekend.

This means that you will be unable to request items online as of 4:30 Wednesday, 27 February; however, you can still request them by phone (08) 9427 3600 or via our email accounts sro@sro.wa.gov.au for public clients and govloans@sro.wa.gov.au for government loans. You can still view the catalogue, just not make any requests.

The reason for this restriction is so that we have a fixed version to clone to the new system. Once the cloning is done and we are sure it is all working properly, we’ll quietly close the old version and change the url to the new one. No need for you to do anything, and any bookmarks you may have for reference should still work.

Some of the new features include increased filters for listing results incuding by start or end date (most useful at series level), and an improved Advanced Search feature. You’ll also be able to save items to a clipboard for export as a csv file.

To learn more about these features and refresh your knowledge of the system, why not come to our forthcoming Lunchtime Seminar, “From A-Z: referencing and research at the SRO”, on March 20 February.  We’ll be talking about the catalogue and also about using the online referencing software Zotero.