Henry J. Van Lennep (AC 1837) Sketches and Papers

Henry John Van Lennep (AC 1837), a noted 19th-century Christian minister, missionary, writer and educator, was born in Smyrna (present-day Izmir, Turkey) in 1815. In 1830 he was sent to the United States for his education.  After graduating from Amherst College in 1837, he was ordained a Congregational minister in 1839.
Photograph of Henry J. Van Lennep. Albumen print on card mount.
He served as a missionary with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions for twenty-nine years beginning in 1840, in Smyrna (1840-44 and 1863-69), Constantinople (1844-54), and Tocat (1854-56). Van Lennep traveled extensively throughout the region of western Asia and Egypt.

After losing his sight from cataract in 1869, he returned to the United States.  Van Lennep was proficient in numerous languages and was also a skillful artist, sketching (in pencil or pen and ink) scenes from his extensive travels.
Many of his drawings appeared in published works, which include The Oriental Album: Twenty Illustrations, in Oil Colors, of the People and Scenery of Turkey, with an Explanatory and Descriptive Text (1862); Travels in Little-known Parts of Asia Minor: with Illustrations of Biblical Literature and Researches in Archaeology (1870); and Bible Lands: their Modern Customs and Manners Illustrative of Scripture (1875).  He also executed several drawings for Professor Edward Hitchcock, including his Geology of Massachusetts (1841) and Illustrations of Surface Geology (1860).
The bulk of the collection of the Henry J. Van Lennep (AC 1837) Sketches and Papers consists of pencil sketches and watercolors of scenery, people and artifacts, chiefly Turkish but also some American. In addition, a small amount of personal papers include passports related to his travel as a missionary in Turkey, a notebook of sermons written by Van Lennep in Armenian, and portrait photographs.
Through collaboration between the Archives & Special Collections, Digital Programs, and Metadata the entire collection of Henry J. Van Lennep (AC 1837) Sketches and Papers has been digitized and is accessible through the Amherst College Digital Collections.
Henry J. Van Lennep watercolor sketch of a Constantinople street.

Truman Library Ground-breaking Ceremony

The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, MO, is undergoing a year-long renovation that will result in a new Truman permanent exhibition, new amenities for visitors, and enhanced educational and community programming.

Yesterday, I joined Missouri Governor Mike Parson, Missouri State Senator John Rizzo, Clifton Truman Daniel (President Truman’s oldest grandson), and Library Director Kurt Graham for a ceremonial ground-breaking to mark the beginning of this major renovation and expansion project.

Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero speaks at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Harry S. Truman Library’s renovation. (Courtesy photo by Lacey Helmig, Truman Library Institute)

64 years ago, on the 8th of May in 1955, Harry S. Truman himself stuck a shovel in the ground here to launch the construction of this, our third Presidential Library in the National Archives family of presidential libraries.

When Franklin Roosevelt dedicated the first of these libraries in Hyde Park, New York, he articulated a vision for these institutions that very much guides our work to this day. He said:

“It seems to me that the dedication of a library is in itself an act of faith. To bring together the records of the past and to house them in buildings where they will be preserved for the use of men and women in the future, a Nation must believe in three things. It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. And it must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgment in creating their own future.”   

That belief in the capacity of our people to learn from the past is what drives us in our work.  At a time when studies show us that 60% of U.S. citizens would flunk the U.S. citizenship test, that 25% of Americans don’t know that Freedom of Speech is protected under the First Amendment, fewer than 50% can name a single Supreme Court justice, yet 2/3 of Americans know at least one American Idol judge, and nearly 2/3 of Americans cannot name all three branches of government, yet 3 out of 4 can name all three Stooges—at a time like this the work of the Presidential Libraries is critical to the future of our democracy.

This library has led the way in using the records of this president’s administration to teach students how our government works. The White House Decision Center, pioneered here and now standard in other Presidential Libraries, provides an experiential and collaborative learning experience for sixth through 12 graders. Students assume the roles of President Truman’s cabinet members, have access to all the intelligence that the cabinet did through facsimiles from our records, and deal with the real issues before the President during his administration—ending the war with Japan, addressing postwar Civil Rights in the Armed Forces, reacting to the Soviet blockade of Berlin, and responding to the Communist invasion of South Korea.

Students learn how their government works, the three branches of government, checks and balances, rights and responsibilities.  

I am extremely proud of our work here and am grateful to the Truman Institute Board and staff, my staff, and the many generous donors to this renovation project. And I think Harry S. Truman would be very pleased with our efforts. In a 1959 letter to a donor he said:

“It is my ambition to make the Library a center for the study of the Presidency…This Republic of ours is unique in the history of government and if the young people coming along in the future generations do not understand it and appreciate what they have, it will go the way of the Judges of Israel, the City State of Greece, the Great Roman Republic and the Dutch Republic.”

Thank you, Mr. President!

Harry S. Truman at Groundbreaking for Truman Library, 5/8/1955. National Archives Identifier 6789287

Behind the Scenes: Enslaved Lives in the Archives at FSU

Special Collections and Archives spent this summer contributing to two projects centered on the lives of local enslaved people. Currently, we are supporting the Tallahassee History and Human Rights Project. The first phase of this collaborative effort between the Grove Museum, Goodwood Museum & Gardens, the Tallahassee Museum, and the community seeks to better interpret the lives and experiences of the enslaved people that lived on and built the plantations at those sites.

The Roderick Kirkpatrick Shaw Estate Division of Slaves

To support them, Special Collections & Archives identified manuscript collections, rare books, oral histories, and historic newspapers held at FSU that provide insight on African and African American lives from Territorial Florida to the Great Depression in Tallahassee and surrounding counties. We primarily found plantation records, personal papers, and business records documenting the era of enslavement and sharecropping in the Tallahassee locale. Please join these three museums for a series of tours on Saturday, September 14th that commemorate the lives and experiences of local enslaved people.

Alongside the research done for the Tallahassee History and Human Rights Project, Special Collections and Archives digitized and submitted objects to a collaborative online exhibit curated by the Association of Southeast Research Libraries (ASERL). The exhibit recognizes and commemorates the 400 years since the arrival of enslaved Africans in the United States.

The Notebook of George Whitfield, a Slave trader in Tallahassee and Leon County. Digital version available here

The exhibit covers five periods: Colonial, American Revolution and Constitution, Antebellum, Civil War, and Twentieth Century. The digital exhibit is slated to debut on the Omeka platform in November. Our contributions, including the Whitfield Notebook to the right, have been digitized and added to our digital library, DigiNole.

Supporting these initiatives led Special Collections and Archives to question how to make our own holdings more visible and accessible. We started with the objects submitted to the ASERL Exhibit and added them to our digital library. The documents below are examples of what we identified that will be digitized in the near future. Alongside digitization, we have begun to incorporate these materials in class visits and aim to include them in research guides. As always, we encourage everyone to visit our reading room to view and work with our collections.

New additions to the digital library documenting enslavement and sharecropping include manuscript and printed sharecropping contracts, the Whitfield Notebook, and the R.F. Van Brunt General Store 1911 Day Book.

Special Collections & Archives welcomes visitors to our reading room on the first floor of Strozier Library Monday-Thursday from 10:00-6:00 and Friday from 10:00-5:30.

Scrapbooks to the Past, Gadsden County Edition

Scrapbooks are one of the best time capsules an archives may hold in its collections. These books, some giant, some small, were put together with care and love by the people who were actively looking to document and save their history as it was happening. Here at FSU, we hold dozens of scrapbooks that students have put together over the years, showing what student life was like on campus but also what was happening outside of FSU in the wider world that was affecting them as they worked on their degree.

Today, I share a very different kind of scrapbook. In partnership with the Havana History & Heritage Society in Havana, Florida, we digitized and described seven large scrapbooks kept by the Home Extension Services agent in Gadsden County, Florida from 1916 until 1961. These books showcase the work of 4-H clubs and women’s groups throughout some of the toughest years this rural Florida county faced during the Great Depression and into World War II.

A page from the 1928-1932 scrapbook. The caption reads “4-H Club Girls’ Exhibit of Canned Products. Achievement Day 1929” [See Original Scrapbook]

As a 21st century woman through and through, I marvel at the skills these children and women had to grow, preserve and produce the food, clothing and other resources they and their families needed during these years. Looking at the photos included in these books, what they called a “garden” was actually a small-scale farm. This was brought home to me especially when I found a FSU connection. It seems, in the 1930s, Florida State College for Women (FSCW), what FSU was called until 1947, often bought produce and their Thanksgiving turkeys from the Extension Services in Gadsden County. Which means, these small farms, helmed by women by the looks of it in the scrapbooks, were producing enough for themselves, their community and then some!

Take a look at these scrapbooks and some photographs that we digitized as part of this project with the Havana History & Heritage Society. I look forward to working with more community groups in our region to continue to bring to light the history and work of the people in Big Bend Region through partnerships like this one.

Stein Gertrude Stein to Lecture Lecture

“In the fall of 1934, Gertrude Stein arrived in America to much buzz about “Gertrude Stein.” Her photo appeared on the cover of Time magazine following the blockbuster success of her accessible and witty The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933). Journalists and a film crew waited at the dock to document Stein’s arrival. Her name appeared in lights in Times Square. Receptions were held in her honor. She enjoyed tea at the White House with Eleanor Roosevelt and dinner in Beverly Hills with Charlie Chaplin. She received the key to her hometown city of San Francisco. Fans and skeptics filled lecture halls across the United States to hear her Lectures in America. A two-month lecture tour turned into seven. Everywhere she went Gertrude Stein made headline news.”

Kirsch, Sharon J. “Gertrude Stein Delivers.” Rhetoric Review, vol. 31, no. 3, 2012, pp. 254–270.

One of Stein’s stops on her “Lectures in America” tour was Amherst College.

From the Amherst Student, January 7, 1935:




Stein gave her lecture on January 9, 1935, as reported in The Amherst Student for January 10, 1935:



Sharon Kirsch describes Stein’s tour of the United States as a public relations triumph — Stein achieved a tremendous degree of celebrity and name recognition even though the majority of those who attended her public lectures had likely never read any of her work. Stein herself later commented on that celebrity in Everybody’s Autobiography (1937):

“It was very nice being a celebrity a real celebrity who can decide who they want to meet and say so and they come or do not come as you want them. I never imagined that would happen to me to be a celebrity like that but it did and when it did I liked it.”

In addition to the coverage in The Amherst Student, we hold other traces of Stein’s visit in the Archives & Special Collections. We hold three letters and a postcard from Stein to Amherst President Stanley King; Stein and Alice B. Toklas both inscribed a copy of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (New York, 1933) for King upon their visit:

ABT tp.jpg

ABT inscription.jpg

Since the arrival of Ted Baird’s diaries in the Archives, we now regularly consult them to see if he commented on campus events. Gertrude Stein’s visit, and the dinner at President King’s home afterward, are recorded in this brief entry from January 9, 1935:

TB diary.jpg

Fortunately, Baird’s handwriting is more legible than Stein’s. Anyone interested in attempting to decipher the letters Stein sent to Stanley King is welcome to visit the Archives & Special Collections to see what other details from her visit can be recovered.

Concert Singer Harry T. Burleigh Performs at City Hall

Henry Thacker Burleigh (1866–1949), was an African-American classical composer, arranger, and singer known for his rich baritone voice. He is also noted for being a key contributor in the development and dissemination of the African-American spiritual.  And through his published musical arrangements, set in a western classical style, Burleigh played a significant role in introducing African-American spirituals into the standard repertoire of the concert and recital hall.

On April 2, 1944 Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia welcomed Burleigh to City Hall to perform on the Mayor’s weekly program Talk to the People over WNYC. The Mayor introduced Burleigh:

We have a distinguished visitor here in the office today, an old friend of mine, Harry Thacker Burleigh, famed American composer. To him is due in a great measure the credit of a place among musical classics of spirituals which have become recognized as typically American. It is his arrangement of ‘Deep River’ which is now sung all over the world, and of the spiritual, ‘Were You There?’ – you remember that, ‘Were You There When They Crucified Our Lord’ – that have brought these spirituals to the front wherever music is appreciated, and everyone knows ‘Little Mother of Mine,’ made famous by John McCormack, all over the world.

Maestro Burleigh was born in 1866 and came to New York in 1892. He has sung at St. George’s Church here in Manhattan. For 49 consecutive years, on Palm Sunday, he has sung the immortal “The Palms’ by Faure, at St. George’s Church. Maestro Burleigh, won’t you close this program by singing ‘The Palms’ for us?

As you will hear, Burleigh graciously obliged. 

Burleigh played a significant role in the development of American art song, composing more than 200 works in the genre. He was also the first African-American composer celebrated for his concert songs as well as for his adaptations of African-American spirituals. He died at age 82 in 1949. More than 2,000 people paid their respects at his funeral. 

 Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives.



Houdini’s Little Brother: The Keeper of His Secrets

Theo Hardeen in 1916.
(J. Willis Sayre Collection of Theatrical Photographs/Wikimedia Commons)

On July 3, 1939, Theo Hardeen, the sibling and heir to the secrets of the great escape artist Harry Houdini, came to the WNYC studio. In a scripted interview, Hardeen talked about working closely with his brother but said he would take Houdini’s secrets to the grave. It was a statement that was not entirely true. While he reportedly burned most of Houdini’s papers, the illusionist’s library of magic and spiritualism was left to the Library of Congress. In this brief interview, Hardeen reveals little, only outlining the basic principles of magic. Following Harry Houdini’s death in 1926, Hardeen toured the vaudeville circuit performing many of his and his brother’s escape routines. His appearance on WNYC’s The Voice of the Theatre is mainly due to his role in Olsen and Johnson’s Broadway musical review Hellzapoppin.Hardeen was born Ferencz Deszo Weisz in Hungary on March 4, 1876. He was Harry Houdini’s younger sibling and was first called Deshi, then Dash. Immigration officers in New York City changed the Weisz family name to Weiss and Ferencz’s became Theodore. Later he changed it once more and became Theodore Hardeen. So named, Hardeen became established as an escape artist in his own right and the heir to his brother’s secrets.

Hardeen poster Triangle Poster Printing Co., circa 1931.
(Library of Congress)

According to the Library of Congress, Hardeen actively promoted himself as the heir to his brother’s magic, and always remained ‘the brother of Houdini.’ Although he was commonly referred to as ‘the handcuff king,’ Theo Hardeen could never quite compete with the dramatic and creative efforts of his older sibling. After entertaining troops during World War II, he died in 1945.The Voice of the Theatre was launched on June 12, 1939. The program was a short-lived experiment by the League of New York Theatres for promoting their productions with short interviews, show gossip and news. Based on newspaper radio listings, it appears to have continued through the end of September 1939. This broadcast, however, is the only known surviving example of the show. Along with the interview are general theater announcements and personnel changes on productions as well as a touch of gossip about Lillian Hellman’s new house and Katherine Hepburn’s limousine, driver, and bodyguard. 

Show host Ezra McIntosh in 1931.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

In this broadcast the genial host Ezra McIntosh also answers a series of listener questions followed by “a brief memory picture” of music from Babes in Toyland and several other plays. McIntosh began his career with  NBC in the early 1930s. His tenure at WNYC appears to have been brief, although he can be heard introducing the distinguished guests at the dedication ceremony for WNYC’s WPA murals in August 1939. McIntosh also spent time with WKNY in Kingston, New York, and WWNC in Ashville, North Carolina. In 1947 he reportedly directed an NBC program starring the blind pianist Alec Templeton.

An undated poster for a Theo Hardeen performance.
(Library of Congress)

A Century of Mystery and Intrigue

The following blog post was written by Joseph, Special Collections & Archives Scholar-in-Residence and Guest Curator of our latest exhibit A Century of Mystery and Intrigue.

The poster for the exhibit was drawn by the curator. Can you spot all the mystery-related references?

I really enjoyed putting together the exhibit last summer on pirates, so I started thinking about a possible new exhibit topic. The original idea I came up with was related to trains, which then became the mystery genre. I believed that Special Collections & Archives would have extensive material related to it. Also, the mystery genre could open up other possibilities, such as the videos on the multi-media screen and a scavenger hunt, which has a fun prize.

In doing research, I discovered that Special Collections & Archives did indeed have many different materials to exhibit. I found books such as The Secret of the Everglades by Bessie Marchant, Inspector French and the Starvel Tragedy by Freeman Wills Croft, The Hardy Boys by Frank W. Dixon, and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes book The Hound of the Baskervilles. I also found press books such as the one for Murders in the Rue Morgue.

In this exhibit, there are many different subjects, among which are young detectives, classic detective novels, mystery in cinema, and mystery comic books. There is also a scavenger hunt featured in the exhibit as well as small clips from mystery movies.

I read lots of mystery books on my own time, and a couple of my favorite series are The Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown. I also watch some detective movies. Two of my favorites are Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman and Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm

I have received lots of help and guidance from the Special Collections team, as well as lots of support for my ideas, and I couldn’t have done this exhibit without them. I hope you enjoy the exhibit!

Joseph posing with his poster.

A Century of Mystery and Intrigue is now on display in the Special Collections Exhibit Room. It can be viewed Monday-Thursday from 10am-6pm and Friday from 10am-5:30pm. It will be open through Fall 2019.

Musicians’ Union Archive Trainee Report

During the summer of 2019 Lorna Keddie, a graduate of the University of Stirling in Heritage and Tourism undertook a traineeship in the University Archives funded by the Musicians’ Union. Here she writes about her work improving access to this unique resource.

For the past six weeks, I’ve been delving deep into the Musicians’ Union archives to begin the project of digitising the Musician, the magazine of the Musicians’ Union. This project intends to further improve access to this collection for researchers who use the resource for a variety of projects and members of the public, who use the resource to research their family history.

The Musician was first published and distributed to members of the Musicians’ Union in October 1950; consequently, this is where my journey digitising this resource began. At the start of the project I began arranging each issue into numerical order and selecting the best copies of each issue, which was quite challenging in the case of the early magazines as time hasn’t been the kindest to them. Once the best were selected I could begin prepping for digitisation; involving numbering individual pages with a unique reference and cataloguing the titles of articles and names of authors. Once all the preparation was complete I could begin the all-important task of scanning!

Musician covers from 1954, 1957, 1967 and 1970 highlighting some of the issues the Union and its members faced.

While cataloguing the contents of the Musician, I gained a real sense of the hard work and energy the Union exerted to ensure musicians were granted fair pay and working conditions and were protected from threats to the profession including, “Talkies” (films with sound), service bands, recorded music and pirate radio stations. I found it extremely fascinating to see the changes in the contents, style and layout of the magazine throughout the decades and the reflection of the problems and threats musicians’ faced included on the covers.

A sample of Musician covers from 1950 to 1991 showing the change in style and format.

In addition to digitising the first 25 years of the Musician, I prepared and digitised leaflets and promotional materials produced by the Union dating from 1906 to 2016. Furthermore, I numbered and arranged a selection Union Membership cards dating from 1916 to the present day, including a few familiar names, for example, the members of rock Band Status Quo. I found it remarkable the Union was still using a stamp system to pay membership fees and only moved towards a system that involved paying by direct debit in the early 1990s.

An example of a union membership card from 1920.

In the final week of my traineeship I began the process of preparing the next 25 years of the Musician for digitisation; to open up this resource even further in the future!

Lorna Keddie

Digitization priorities, 2019-2020

The Digital Projects Priorities Team met on 7 August 2019 and approved the following projects for 2019-2020:

New projects:

Grant-funded digitization:

  • Women Who Answered the Call: Digitizing the Oral Histories of Women who Served in the U.S. Military and the American Red Cross:
    Digitize and preserve at-risk audiovisual materials (303 audiocasettes, 6 open-reel audiotapes, and 1 VHS videotape) that are part of the Women Veterans Historical Project. Funded via a CLIR Recordings at Risk Grant (Beth Ann Koelsch and David Gwynn)
Library-funded digitization:
  • Public Domain Cello Scores and Journals: The project would include the digitization of public domain scores and a set of journals from the Cello Music Collection (Stacey Krim).
  • UNCG Dance Theses, 1951-1978:
    This proposal seeks to digitize a collection of Dance theses created by UNCG students between 1951 and 1978. These unique materials exist only in physical copies at this time, and they were not included in a previous retrospective thesis and dissertation digitization project due to considerations including size and accompanying materials (Anna Craft).
  • Poetas sin Fronteras: Poets Without Borders, the Scrapbooks of Dr. Ramiro Lagos:
    The proposed project is to digitize a series of scrapbooks and photograph albums documenting the life and career of Dr. Ramiro Lagos, a professor emeritus of poetry in the Romance Languages Department at UNCG, to facilitate access online and to return some of the physical items back to the donor (Patrick Dollar).
  • Digitizing of Home Economics Material in UNCG LIbrary Stacks:
    Digitize pre-1923 home economics items, ranging from cookbooks to books about household arithmetic, which are housed in the stacks (Callie Coward and Erica Rau).

Faculty research projects:

  • Civil Rights Oral Histories:
    Pilot project to make available interviews conducted by Matthew Barr (Media Studies) as part of a documentary project using OHMS (Oral History Metadata Synchronizer) and the Omeka platform. This will serve as a proof of concept for an upcoming grant application that will involve collaboration between the University Libraries and Media Studies.

Community outreach projects:

  • Temple Emmanuel Project:
    Support Temple Emmanuel in a grant application to digitize newsletters by providing set-up support and hosting for the materials.

Continuing/ongoing projects:

Grant-funded digitization:

  • People Not Property: NC Slave Deeds Project:
    Year 2 of an NHPRC-funded project to digitize and transcrive scale deeds from 26 North Carolina counties. Collaborative endeavor between the UNCG University Libraries, North Carolina Division of Archives and Records, and North Carolina Registers of Deeds among others.

Library-funded digitization:

Faculty research projects:

  • Oral Contraceptive Ads:
    Support digitization and hosting of a research project for Dr, Heather Adams (English) via a UNCG Libraries Digital Partners Grant.
  • Well-Crafted NC:
    Support digitization and hosting a of a project by Erin Lawrimore, Richard Cox, David Gwynn (all UNCG Libraries) and Dr. Erick Byrd (Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Hospitality & Tourism) supported by a P2 Grant from the UNCG Office of Community Engagement.
  • PRIDE! of the Community:
    Support continuation of a project by Stacey Krim, Partick Dollar, and David Gwynn (UNCG Libraries), initially funded through an NEH grant to document the Triad’s LGBTQ+ community
  • TriadHistory.org:
    Continue efforts to expand web presence and community events via a collaborative local history collective of Triad cultural heritage institutions. UNCG representatives are David Gwynn (chair) and Erin Lawrimore.

Community outreach projects:

Infrastructure projects:

  • Islandora Migration:
    Complete migration of digital content to a new platform,

Call for Proposals: 2020 Creative Fellowship

Providence Public Library is now accepting applications for our 2020 Creative Fellowship.


The 2020 Creative Fellow will create new, original work in the field of music or sound related to the topic of Journalism, as part of the Library’s 2020 exhibition and program series tentatively titled “The King Is Dead.”

arcade newsboys

Learn more about our annual Creative Fellowship and the work of past Fellows, or read the full call for proposals.

Proposals must be submitted by October 1, 2019.

Long Before C-SPAN, WNYC was Airing the Legislative Process

The 1938-1939 WNYC City Council programs were the first time in history that the proceedings of an entire legislative session were broadcast to the electorate. Letters to the station called the broadcasts instructive, entertaining, exciting, and a step forward in good government. A WNYC postcard survey determined that a million New Yorkers tuned each week to hear the New York Council session. A bevy of civics groups endorsed the broadcasts with the Women’s City Club calling them, “the best education for citizenship.” The Times gushed it was, “one of the best shows in the city, appealing in equal degree to the studio audience in City Hall and the radio audience over WNYC.”[1]

The previous Aldermanic meetings generally had ten to twenty people in the visitor’s gallery. The newly broadcast City Council meetings were now generating “500 to 600 persons who waited patiently in line for admission to the overcrowded councilmanic chamber.”[2] The city’s paper of record reported:

At times the Council broadcasts became so amusing that people left their radios and flocked to City Hall to see the fun. Borough President James J. Lyons of the Bronx even suggested formally that the proceedings be put on permanent records for their amusement value.[3]

That notion was echoed by comedian Eddie Cantor, who quipped to Mayor La Guardia that he was interested in getting recordings of an unusually long and embarrassing meeting to use during his act. The entertainer stipulated, however, that he reserved the right not to use anything too funny. The Mayor responded:

1938 Telegram from Mayor La Guardia to Comedian Eddie Cantor regarding copies of WNYC City Council broadcasts.
(Courtesy of NYC Municipal Archives)

The Council broadcasts began in a somewhat unexpected way. On January 1, 1938, the newly adopted City charter brought the City Council into existence, and WNYC broadcast the opening ceremonies. “The discussion became so interesting, however, that I ordered the continuation of the broadcast,” wrote WNYC Director Seymour N. Siegel.[4] The Council was scheduled to recess in June, but particular circumstances required an extension through July. WNYC asked listeners over the air if they wanted the meetings to be broadcast for the extra month. The announcement, made just once, generated 1,337 letters asking for the continuation. Station management reported, “In an analysis of these letters by a survey group connected with a prominent eastern university, it was determined that over 80% of the writers believed the Council broadcasts to be among the most important educational features on the air.”[5] Upon reflection years later, one observer described it as “the logical extension of the modern method of reporting a legislative session.”

Overnight in the City of New York, thousands of housewives, business people and others who listened to the radio during the day, had the welcome relief of an interesting, useful radio broadcast of their own government in action to take the place of the usual soap opera which pervaded the air at that hour. No Hooper rating is available, but judging from the thousands of letters and postcards which deluged Station WNYC when the Democratic majority threatened to cut off the broadcasts, it is fair to say that several hundred thousand citizens listened in daily. In fact, the city received several lucrative offers from private sponsors for the exclusive privilege of broadcasting the Council sessions.[6]

The broadcasts continued “gavel-to-gavel,” without editing or censorship, for two years. Then, without explanation or justification, Democrats, in opposition to the Republican La Guardia administration, pushed through a resolution prohibiting broadcast equipment on the chamber floor and put the kibosh on the freewheeling transmission.  

On the day of the vote (January 16, 1940) WNYC’s Chief Engineer Isaac Brimberg arrived at the City Council Chamber with his equipment and was politely, but firmly, refused entry by the legislative body’s sergeant-at-arms. The stormy two-hour debate that followed, no doubt, would have been great radio. Instead WNYC broadcast a luncheon for Finnish war relief from the Hotel Commodore. It was a poor substitute, and little solace for our civic-minded listeners.

Yet during the debate, the Democratic majority refused to explain why they opposed the broadcast of Council proceedings. Only Councilman Walter R. Hart of Brooklyn provided a clue.

If the old Board of Aldermen had taken 135 years to make fools of themselves, the Council had accomplished the same result in two years…I tuned in on a couple of those broadcasts last year and what I heard made me blush. And when a former Alderman blushes — that’s something.[7]

New York City Council President Newbold Morris.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

Council President Newbold Morris meanwhile displayed a stack of letters from citizens lauding the Council broadcasts as “educational,” “entertaining,” and demanding that they continue. He read one from a WNYC listener stating, “If the councilmen are ashamed of themselves, all they have to do is to shut up.” [8] Days earlier, Morris argued, “If we had broadcasting equipment in Congress and the Legislature, in a very short time. I think you would have a new Congress and Legislature.”[9] The Council President’s effort to keep the broadcasts was valiant, but sadly, unsuccessful. Thus, this pre-C-SPAN experiment in radio vérité came to an end.

You can listen to a rare surviving example of a council debate from March 8, 1938 above: The NYC Council debate on a resolution to investigate WNYC. Some of the accents are classic!

And why, you may ask, did they want to investigate WNYC? Please see: Communist Propaganda or Capitalist Commercial? A 1930s WNYC Broadcast is Mired in Controversy.


[1] “Council to Debate Broadcasts Today,” The New York Times, January 16, 1940, pg. 25. 

[2] Belous, Charles, Faith in Fusion, Vantage Press, 1951, pg. 57.

[3] “City Radio May Lose Most Popular Program; Council Democrats Move to End Broadcasts,” The New York Times, January 5, 1940, pg. 16.  

[4] Goldman, Ralph M., The Future Catches Up, iUniverse, 2002, p. 29.

[5] WNYC Masterwork Bulletin, January 1939. pg. 2.

[6] Ibid., Belous, pgs. 56-57.

[7] “WNYC Broadcasts Banned by Council,” The New York Times, January 17, 1940, pg. 27.

[8] “Council Tories Ban Radio Broadcasts of Proceedings,” Daily Worker, January 17, 1940, pg. 4. 

[9] “Penalties Urged in the Wagner Act,” The New York Times, January 14, 1940, pg. 7.


Audio courtesy of the New York City Municipal Archives.


Olga Koussevitzky and the Women of the BSO

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

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

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

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

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

Olga Koussevitzky and the Women of the BSO

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

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

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

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

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


WNYC archives id: 80101

Amelia Earhart Welcomed at City Hall

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

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

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

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

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


A riddle, wrapped in an enigma…

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

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

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

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

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

This looks familiar…

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

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

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

Mystery numbers

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

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

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

What else do we know?

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

Do you know what this mystery object is?

Or maybe what those numbers refer to?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moving Our Special Collections

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

book moving

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

book moving 2

New materials available in DigiNole highlight Integration statue.

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

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

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

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

Bernie Sanders Addresses the Socialist Party USA in 1983

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

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

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

Intersession Intermission

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

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

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

Registration at FSU, 1958 [Original Object]

Impressive Fabrics: The Ina VanStan Printing Plates

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

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

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

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

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

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

Investigative Satirist Paul Krassner Interviewed by Steve Post

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

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

New Digital Exhibit on Integration at FSU

Integration Statue
Integration Statue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

East Side Pride booth interior. Photo by Heather Gordon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Intern’s Reflections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog Category: 

Apollo 11: One Giant Leap for Mankind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating the Start of Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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