Alec Finlay

For this week’s #BeConnected Explore Our Campus we are looking at artist, poet and University of Stirling alumnus Alec Finlay.

Alec returned to Stirling in 2013 as the University’s first Artist in Residence, to research the science and culture of beekeeping and create new bee-themed public sculptures for the Art Collection.

Alec was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and worked collaboratively between Stirling’s Faculties of Natural Sciences and Arts & Humanities.  He collaborated in particular with Professor Kathleen Jamie, Chair in Creative Writing and multi award-winning poet, who shares his creative interests in the natural world.

Alec Finlay said: “Stirling is renowned worldwide for its scientific bee research, particularly its work on the destructive impact of insecticides on wild bee populations so I was able to draw on this expertise and use it to inform my work”. 

Alec’s research at Stirling was wide-reaching and explored the symbolism of bees in ancient myth and philosophy, and the recurring motif of the bee in accounts of politics, economics and society. He also looked at contemporary scientific studies of bee communication, cognitive behaviour and honeycomb construction and consider bees’ relevance to a diverse range of subjects including architecture, Systems Theory, informatics and social networks.

Alec Finlay reading ‘Global Oracle’, a book-length poem, interweaving the bee-cults of the ancient world, most famously the Melissai of the Delphic oracle, with the science of apiology, bee communication, and the predominant ‘oracle’ of our era, the Navstar satellite system.

He produced a ‘creative survey’ of the UK’s bee population and translated his research into poetry and sculpture.  Together with the Art Collection’s curators he installed 21 permanent Bee Library artworks on campus. 

Bee Library on Stirling Campus (Hannah Devereux)

Bee Libraries are collections of bee-related books converted into nests for bees.   You can find them all around the University of Stirling campus, in the trees around the university loch and in Pathfoot. Constructed from a book, bamboo, wire-netting and water-proofing, each nest offers shelter for solitary bees, whose numbers are in steep decline

Art Curator Jane Cameron discusses Alec’s work on campus

The Art Collection currently has on display an exhibition of Alec’s work Mind Hive, as part of our Under Threat theme looking at the Environment. This series of exhibitions was due to close in September 2020. However, after the recent closure following the Covid-19 pandemic, a decision has been made to extend all current exhibitions to the end of December 2020.

Alec’s current project Day of Access is a powerful campaign which encourages estates to open their land to allow access for people affected by disability.  By using hill tracks and four-wheel drives, people who have never been able to immerse themselves in wild nature are driven into the heart Scotland’s beautiful wild landscape. In 2019 an exhibition of this project came to the Art Collection with the Travelling Gallery which comes to the University biannually.

“Red Hot Abolitionist”

On March 6, 2020, not long before the world changed overnight and (among other things) we began to work remotely, I heard Dan Abrams talk about his new book “John Adams Under Fire” on “Morning Joe.”  Abrams recounted how his book uses a 1770 trial transcript from legal proceedings after the Boston Massacre and referred to the transcript as an “under-appreciated document.” Willie Geist, the always-pleasant host, asked him (twice!) in astonishment, “where do you get these documents?!”

I remember that I yelled at the television (yes, I do that all the time), “IN AN ARCHIVES!!!” And I wondered why Geist asked that question because of course (right?) a reporter (or a writer, historian, biographer…) knows to check archives for material relevant to their work. Still, even if you know to check archives, it isn’t always easy to find what you want, or to be lucky enough, or have time enough, to make a serendipitous discovery.

In the Amherst College Archives, we obsess (in the nicest way) about how to make things easier to find, and how to bring them to the public’s attention — how to lead a horse (you) to water (documents). Given a limited staff, there’s only so much we can do, but we always think about ways to improve.

This blog serves that purpose. And in today’s post I want bring the Archives and Special Collections to you and share an “under-appreciated” letter.

The letter came to light as part of our ongoing survey of our holdings. One of the items on my to-do list was a scrapbook album belonging to Cornelius H. Patton, Class of 1883.  I had accessioned this volume into our collection about 15 years ago, but its importance didn’t sink in until the survey allowed me to look at it closely. I expected a scrapbook of ephemera from Patton’s college years; instead, it’s a genealogical/personal scrapbook, containing both family items from three or four generations as well as items important and specific to Cornelius (including a little of the Amherst ephemera I had anticipated). It even contains documentation of how Patton came to be interested in William Wordsworth, thus explaining the origin of a collection now at Amherst College.

Among this material there were items relating to Cornelius’s father’s experience in the Civil War.  And there was that astonishing letter I mentioned above.

The Patton family in 1857. William Weston Patton is seated at left.

The letter is from William Weston Patton (1821-1889) to his wife, Mary Boardman Smith.  Patton writes from Richmond, Virginia on April 12, 1865, ten days after Robert E. Lee evacuated his troops from the city. Patton, a confirmed abolitionist, describes the city after Confederate troops left it, and shares his joy about the Union’s victory.   Here are photographs of his letter and my transcription (please pardon the quality of the photographs, taken quickly before we evacuated our offices in mid-March).

Envelope and first page, folded, of letter. Additional photographs of letter below.

[Note that the first line, beginning with “N.B.” is in the hand of son Cornelius H. Patton].

N.B. Richmond was evacuated by Lee April 2-3

Richmond, Va. April 12th 1865.

My Dear Wife,

You notice a new style of paper, such as I have never before used for my letters, sermons, or other purposes. I picked it up amid a heap of waste Confederate material in the Custom House yesterday, and thought I would put it to good use. The lettering at the head may help you to realize (as I can scarcely do myself) where I am. I write in a room in the Powhattan House near the public square. We reached Richmond yesterday at noon. I wrote a hasty line on the [river] and sent it back by the boat. I took dinner at a restaurant kept by a colored man in the office of what was a large hotel, which is occupied now by soldiers & families. During the P.M. I walked the city till completely tired out, having first seen Asst Secy. of War Dana, and persuaded him to telegraph an order to City Point for Dr. Davies to come up, who will reach here today noon.

Richmond in its best portions is a very pleasant city, on elevated ground, with good streets, tasteful but not very costly dwellings, some shrubbery, and a fine public square with admirable statuary.

Documents found on a Richmond street by W. W. Patton.

Confederate documents cover the ground and line the ditches around the square. The business part of the city is burnt (equivalent to S. Water & Lake Sts in Chicago) and presents a sad sight. The Negroes are here in immense numbers and are overjoyed at the state of things. Negro troops are on every hand, and are greatly admired by the black inhabitants. The poor whites are very acquiescent in the change of rulers, but the upper class is sour and sullen, gloomy and subjugated.

I have picked up sundry very amusing letters on the streets written to Rebel soldiers by their sisters and sweethearts–genuine articles. I shall try today to see what can be found for the [N.W.?] Fair. Offices have been opened in various quarters of the city to supply food to the poor. Large numbers are taking the oath of allegiance.

 I went and looked at the outside of Libby Prison yesterday — an old fashioned brick building of three low stories, now crowded with Rebels, who were laughing and joking from the windows where our men were shot if they showed themselves!

Patton’s lyrics to the John Brown song.

My plans are indefinite as yet, as to my stay here. I am full of praise to God as I walk about, and sing the John Brown song perpetually.

Kiss the baby for me. Love to all the big and the little.

Your loving husband
Wm. W. Patton

The title of this post, “Red Hot Abolitionist,” comes from another letter in the scrapbook, one to William W. Patton from his brother Ludlow (standing at back in family photograph above). Ludlow refers approvingly to a mutual acquaintance (probably Rev. Charles H.A. Bulkley) as a “red hot abolitionist,” but there’s no doubt that William W. Patton was also fiery on the topic, as his “John Brown” lyrics prove.  He preached and wrote about slavery and abolitionism extensively, as I learned when researching Patton for this post, an exercise that led to multiple websites. Rather than rewriting what others have covered before, here are links to some of the sites with information about Patton:

  • Diaries of W. W. Patton at the Connecticut Historical Society:
  • “President Lincoln and the Chicago memorial of emancipation” (1887), Patton recollecting a September 1862 visit to President Lincoln to urge him to emancipate the slaves:

Finally, here are more images (poorly photographed — apologies) from the album.  Click on any image to enter the gallery.





The PIDB Invites You to a Virtual Public Meeting on June 5, 2020

The Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) will hold a virtual public meeting on Friday, June 5, 2020, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Participation in this audio conference requires registering your name and email contact information here by Midnight on Thursday, June 4, 2020. After registering, participants will receive instructions via email on how to call in to the meeting by telephone, including instructions on how to submit questions and comments.

The PIDB is hosting this public meeting to highlight their most recent work and to provide the public with the opportunity to ask questions and comment on issues related to classification and declassification policy.

Save the Date: Friday, June 5, 2020.

Time: 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Registration Required by Midnight, Thursday, June 4, 2020.

Register here by providing your name and email contact information.

After registering, you will receive instructions on how to call in to the PIDB’s virtual public meeting.


Remembering Senator Claude Pepper

Social Security, minimum wage, and the National Institutes of Health. These are just a few of the ways that Claude Denson Pepper left his mark on American politics. He was born in rural Alabama, the eldest of four children to Joseph and Lena Pepper, on September 8, 1900. From these humble beginnings, Pepper would come to serve the people of Florida as a U.S. Senator (1936-1950) and Representative (1963-1989). In his later years as a U.S. Representative, he was a champion of the elderly; crafting and supporting legislation that was geared toward ensuring elder Americans were allowed to age and finish their lives with care and dignity.

Claude Pepper lying in state under the Capitol Rotunda, June 12, 1989. Claude Pepper Papers Photo A(238). [see original object]

This Saturday, May 30, marks the 31st anniversary of Senator Pepper’s passing. When he died on May 30, 1989, Pepper was the eldest sitting member of Congress. He was honored by laying in state under the U.S. Capitol Rotunda for three days before making his way to Tallahassee to be laid to rest next to his wife Mildred. Special Collections & Archives honors the Senator and encourages you to visit our online resources on Pepper, including diaries, photographs and manuscript material, to better acquaint yourself with one of the most active figures of 20th Century American politics.

Congressional Record, May 31, 1989. Senator Bob Graham (D, FL.) eulogized the life and career of Senator Pepper the day after his passing and the occasion was remembered on this specially printed copy of the Congressional Record. Claude Pepper Papers, MSS 1979-01, S.305 B.66 F.8

Public Radio’s First Program Distribution Network is Born at WNYC

WNYC Director Seymour N. Siegel in the 1950s.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

Public radio’s first program distribution network began in the fall of 1949. That’s when the director of New York’s municipal station WNYC, Seymour N. Siegel, made five sets of recordings of The New York Herald Tribune Forum and distributed them to twenty-two (National Association of Educational Broadcasters) NAEB member stations. Dubbed the ‘bicycle network,’ the new distribution system was thus formalized.[1] The plan was for tapes to move from east to west at one-week intervals. Once broadcast, a tape was mailed to the next station, and so on across the country. This arrangement required a significant amount of planning and scheduling by Terry Linder, WNYC’s network tape coordinator.

By February 1950, the NAEB via WNYC offered half-a-dozen educational stations copies of the Lowell Institute Cooperative Broadcasting Council[2] documentary series We Human Beings, dramatizing everyday problems that people face. A Long Life, a series of talks on medical topics came next, followed by Great Themes From the Great Hall, a series derived from WNYC broadcasts of the The Cooper Union Forum. These shows were soon joined by Freedom Sings, U.S. Army Band concerts recorded in Washington, D.C., BBC dramas and WNYC’s Music for the Connoisseur, hosted and produced by David Randolph. Cooper Union and The New York Herald Tribune underwrote some of the costs.


The idea for educational radio network programming with distribution by shortwave had been promoted by Mayor La Guardia and WNYC director Morris S. Novik as early as 1937. There had also been discussions of program delivery by transcription disc in 1939. But the real catalyst for network program distribution came out of the University of Illinois’ 1949 Allerton House Seminar on educational broadcasting. Before the meeting concluded, the gathering of thirty, mostly college-based, stations recommended “a central service for sharing programs, by tape or transcription, and a long-range plan for an educational network and a well-financed program producing center.”[3] 


1950 U.S. postage stamp.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

Siegel had attended the seminar. He was also flush with postage stamps, as much as nine thousand dollars’ worth. This was a result of subscribers to the Masterwork Bulletin, the station’s program guide, paying for their annual twenty-cent subscriptions with stamps. The law required, however, that the stamps could only be used for postage. A light bulb appeared over Siegel’s head, and he realized he could use the stamps to mail tapes around the country and launch a distribution network.[4]


With Seymour Siegel’s leadership and a dedicated WNYC staff, the effort became a real exchange service supplying content to educational broadcasters across the country. But keeping the network going was a significant challenge. By mid-April Siegel wrote the following to NAEB President Richard Hull:

Trying to keep half-a-dozen Indian Clubs in the air at one time is not an easy job. The thing has taken tremendous resources in personnel and money. I have virtually exhausted our telegram code in the current budget, just trying to get some of our brethren a fast and firm answer. Mrs. Linder has been devoting almost all of her time trying to keep this Network functioning.[5]

 Hull tried to remain encouraging.

I’m very much intrigued and pleased with the response the network is getting and I hope very soon that we have financing so can underwrite you a little more and you don’t have to bust your own neck and your staff to keep it going.[6]

By the second Allerton House gathering in July 1950, Siegel reported that WNYC was now supplying a network of thirty NAEB stations. NAEB President Hull wrote the organization’s officers and directors praising Siegel’s efforts.

The whole project marks a departure for American radio which is completely new and which Neal Morrison of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation hailed publicly at the Seminar as ‘the most stimulating development in radio on the North American continent.'[7]

May 23, 1950, the NAEB distribution hub at WNYC makes page one of Radio Daily.
(NAEB Collection/Wisconsin Historical Society)

It was high praise, but Siegel made clear at the Allerton meeting that the whole operation at WNYC was a bit precarious. It depended largely on his efforts while he was on-call as a commander in the Navy reserves. He also noted criticism stemming from his role as the sole decision-maker for the network’s content: indeed, some ‘feathers got ruffled’ when an offered series got turned down. Additionally, some material quickly became dated due to the nature of the ‘bicycle’ distribution chain. These issues prompted NAEB president Hull to appoint an interim committee to review Siegel’s program selections as well as what the organization’s membership had to offer in the way of future shows.

The University of Illinois, Indiana University, and Purdue meanwhile offered to provide a permanent home for the program network.[8] However, Illinois stood out since it was willing to get funding for duplicating equipment, so that the same program could be released simultaneously to as many as fifty stations rather than the current ‘bicycle’ arrangement with tapes moving incrementally from station to station. In January 1951, the Division of Communications of the University of Illinois assumed custodianship of the network in Gregory Hall on the Urbana campus.

The tape network’s pivotal first year demonstrated need that outstripped WNYC’s ability to cover the resources required to make it work. Additionally, archive documents indicate that by the second Allerton conference, responsibility for the network had become a burden Sy Siegel was anxious to unload. Still, it was his willingness to ‘take the plunge’ that birthed the nation’s first public radio program network, based on the belief that radio used only for entertainment and the selling of merchandise was a serious waste of a significant national resource. For Siegel and members of the NAEB, radio broadcasting was a critical instrument for disseminating information, cultural experiences, opinions, and discussions, –and essential for solving contemporary problems.


[1] Hill, Harold, The National Association for Educational Broadcasters: A History, NAEB, Urbana, IL, October, 1954, pg. 42.

[2] The Lowell Institute Cooperative Broadcasting Council was an adult media education group whose members included, the Lowell Institute, Harvard University, Boston University, Tufts University, MIT, and Northeastern University, 

[3] Howard, Jon R., Evolution of an educational radio program service network in the United States: a history of network 1914-1971, Masters Thesis, Kansas State University, 1987.

[4] Ibid, pg. 62. This postage story is based on a Corporation for Public Broadcasting oral history with former WNYC staffer Jerrold Sandler recorded in 1978. While the account may be true and a charming bit of public radio folklore, it appears the Siegel still had plenty of stamps left after nearly eight months of the NAEB tape network. Billboard reported in its August 12, 1950 edition he had $15,000 worth he wanted to unload. The piece was headlined: “Anybody Want to Buy 15G in Stamps? WNYC’s Got ‘Em.”

[5] Siegel, Seymour N., letter to Richard Hull, Director of WOI in Ames, Iowa, April 18, 1950, National Association of Educational Broadcasters Records at the Wisconsin Historical Society as part of “Unlocking the Airwaves: Revitalizing an Early Public and Educational Radio Collection.” 

[6] Hull, Richard, letter to Seymour N. Siegel, May 24,1950. National Association of Educational Broadcasters Records at the Wisconsin Historical Society as part of “Unlocking the Airwaves: Revitalizing an Early Public and Educational Radio Collection.” 

[7] Hull, Richard, Memorandum, “NAEB Network and Allerton House Meeting,” July 28, 1950, National Association of Educational Broadcasters Records at the Wisconsin Historical Society as part of “Unlocking the Airwaves: Revitalizing an Early Public and Educational Radio Collection.” 

[8] Ibid.


object of the week

While the Pathfoot Building is closed, the Art Collection will each week focus on an object of interest. You can also search our entire collection online here.

Janka Malkowska
(Woodcut A/P)

The University Art Collection owns several prints by Polish artist Janka Malkowska. Born in in the early 20th century, and an artist from very early on, she had to go through quite a number of experiences and adventures before she settled in Scotland and became a print maker.

Janina (‘Janka’) E. Malkowska was born in Warsaw where she began her studies in art at the academy, later going to Vienna to do a graphic and fine arts degree at the Vienna Kunstgewerbe. Her longing then was for ”big decorative art – large-scale work!”.

The Village Party (Woodcut 2/6. Detail)
Generously donated by John McDougle

Back in Poland she married Wladyslaw Malkowski –they had known each other since childhood – but two months later the Nazis invaded and the couple were separated. During the German occupation, Janka hid in the mountains. There she discovered the ancient Polish folk art of woodcarving – she cut her designs out with a knife and printed them by hand using the back of a spoon. She also worked for the Polish underground: under cover of darkness she would walk the mountain trails, taking messages from one village to the next. This was an extremely dangerous undertaking – had she been caught she would have been executed. During the war her brother was killed while flying over Germany for the RAF and her parents also died. She found out however that her husband had escaped from a prisoner of war camp and was with the British and the American armies advancing towards Berlin.

Playtime (Woodcut, 3/24)

As the Nazis were retreating and the Russians drawing near she took her knapsack (she was always a great walker) and went west, spending eight days and nights on a cattle train with false German papers until by some miracle she got off the train and found her husband. She later exhibited her prints in Germany as a Polish Displaced Person. Because he spoke good English, her husband got to London and was sent to the Polish settlement in Inveraray. She joined him and by 1947 they were living in Edinburgh where her daughter was born. Later both became teachers at the Queen Victoria School in Dunblane.

Morning Sun (Screenprint,1/8, 1979)

Janka Malkowska joined Glasgow Print Studio in the early 1970s. She liked it as ”a great place with a special atmosphere”and she was much loved there as a colourful figure. A retrospective exhibition of her work was held there in 1993. Even at eighty five Malkowska worked big, hacking her vibrant woodcuts out of large planks of wood. In retirement she tried other print mediums like silkscreen but to the end woodcut remained her favourite. 

Our Cats (Woodcut, 6/10, 1968)

The day before she died she was still printing her art work on her own printing press. She really was a warrior of a woman who had experienced life to the full.

(Information in this text is based on an obituary printed in the Glasgow Herald in November 1997, with additional details provided by Josefina de Unamuno and Janka’s daughter Ania to both of whom many thanks).  

Remembering the Tallahassee Bus Boycott at 64

Today marks the 64th anniversary of the Tallahassee Bus Boycott. In the spring of 1956, Florida A&M students Wilhelmina Jakes and Carrie Patterson boarded a Tallahassee bus and took seats of their own choosing. Because these seats were in the “whites only” section of the bus, Jakes and Patterson were arrested by the Tallahassee Police Department, prompting fellow students, citizens and city leaders to take action. The two students were arrested on a Saturday. On Sunday, May 29, the area Ku Klux Klan burned a cross outside of the residence hall where Jakes and Patterson lived. By Monday the 30th, the student body of Florida A&M University convened and voted to boycott the city buses. That evening, a meeting was called by Reverend C.K. Steele to discuss the boycott and seek support from the community, thereby creating the Inter-Civic Council (ICC).

Over the course of the next seven months, the African American community of Tallahassee worked together to support themselves in making their way to work, school and religious services through a carpool service, which was eventually suspended after growing violence over the boycott. On January 1, 1957, Governor LeRoy Collins, himself a Tallahassee native, officially suspended the bus service until segregated seating was removed. However, due to poorly disguised rephrasing of the policy that included seating based on “tranquility and good order”, the bus system in Tallahassee would not truly be desegregated for another year. Those who joined Wilhelmina Jakes, Carrie Patterson and the students of Florida A&M University including Rev. Steele, Daniel Speed, and many others from the then 10,600 African-American residents of Tallahassee, were met with resistance from most white members of the Tallahassee community who felt racial segregation should remain in place.

The voices of many of the participants of the Tallahassee Bus Boycott of 1956 can be accessed through the transcripts available through the FSU Special Collections & Archives department. The Tallahassee Civil Rights Oral History Collection and the Reichelt Oral History Collection provide glimpses into this important moment in Florida, and national history, with researchers being able to read the words of Rev. Speed, King Solomon Dupont, LeRoy Collins, Daniel Speed and others. Though 64 years may feel like a long time, we are not that far removed from the events of the Bus Boycott. With racial tensions still ever present, immersing ourselves in and understanding our history can better help us plan for the future.

An unfortunate reminder of the past. A letter from Edgar S. Anderson urging FSU President Doak S. Campbell to expel any FSU Students involved with the Bus Boycott, 01/21/1957. Office of the President Papers HUA 2018-062 [see original digital object]

Opportunity for School Pupils to Gain Arts Award

Capturing Lives in Scotland’s Communities – an Arts Award Explore Project

#CapturingLives2020: Helping ‘paint a picture’ of Scotland’s communities in Covid

Are you between 11-18 years old and looking for something to do this summer? Why not join our ‘Capturing Lives in Scotland’s Communities’ project and learn new skills, make new friends and gain an Arts Award Explore Qualification?

What does life look like for young people in different communities across Scotland? How do we capture different aspects of life happening in our communities? No doubt you’ll have heard that we’re ‘living though history’ at the moment. How do we create an archive for the future of what our lives are like right now?

The Arts Award Explore programme, open to all young people aged 11 to 18. The programme brings together collections materials and expertise from five different University Museums in Scotland:

University of Aberdeen

University of Dundee

University of Edinburgh

Glasgow School of Art

University of Stirling

Each week will explore a different theme and medium of art, including photography, oral histories, landscape painting and public art. All instruction videos and resources will be posted online and you can work through them at your own pace. But we’ll also put you into groups of 6 or 7 people and have weekly discussion group sessions. You’ll be with the same people throughout the course so you can get to know each other well. Don’t worry, if you want to be in the same group as a friend, we can arrange that too.

Participants will get the chance to work with current students at the universities. Every participant on the project will be assigned a student mentor who will join your discussion groups and help you complete the assigned activities. Everyone who completes the assigned activities will be awarded an Arts Award Explore qualification.

The programme will run from 15th June to 24th July.  Don’t worry if you have to miss a week or two for holidays you can always catch up.  When it is possible again to do so, we’d like to display some of the work you create in a pop up exhibition at the University campuses.

No previous artistic experience necessary.  The deadline for signing up is Monday 8th June.  For further information and to sign up

Mary and Elizabeth by Jacqueline Donachie

This week’s #BeConnected Explore Our Campus looks at Mary and Elizabeth by Jacqueline Donachie.

Stirling University Art Collection

Mary and Elizabeth was purchased for the Art Colllection in 2017 with assistance from the National Fund for Acquisitions. It is now installed outside the Pathfoot Building on campus. The sculpture explores the relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots which is outlined in the document below.

Our Curator Jane talks about Mary and Elizabeth
Artist Jacqueline Donachie talks about the inspiration behind Mary and Elizabeth

Jacqueline Donachie is an award-winning Scottish artist. She is based in Glasgow and has forged an international reputation for a socially-engaged art practice that is rooted in an exploration of individual, family and collective identity and the structures, platforms and spaces (both actual and conceptual) through which it is constructed and supported. Her work encompasses sculpture, installations, photographs, films, drawings and performance and is research-based, collaborative and participatory. Below she talks about her working practice and the inspiration behind her work.

Jacqueline Donachie talks about her work for GENERATION: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland.

Jacqueline has been a great supporter of the Art Collection and in 2019 she acted as Adjudicator for the Grand Final of ARTiculation Prize Scotland which is hosted annually at the University of Stirling. Below she is pictured in front of Elizabeth with the 2019 finalists.

Library History with Heritage & University Archives

The history of the Libraries at Florida State University traces back over 100 years to our beginnings as the West Florida Seminary. In the 1880s, students had access to both a reference library, housed in College Hall, and a more expansive “university library,” which was located off-campus. The first librarian for the university, J.A. Arbuckle, was appointed in 1897.

By 1903, University administration wanted the library to be “the center of college life.” New librarian Mary A. Apthorpe was appointed, and critical changes began transforming the library under her lead (1903-1904 Florida State College Catalogue) . The library offerings were expanded and items began being catalogued according to the Dewey Decimal System.

In 1911 the new Main Building, which is now Westcott, was completed and the library was moved. The library saw extensive growth and four different librarians during its time in the Main Building between 1911 and 1924. According to the 1914-15 course catalog, the library held over 8,500 volumes and was circulating over 600 books a month. (1914-1945 Florida State College for Women Catalogue) By 1923, the library held over 16,000 volumes. (1923 Florida State College for Women Catalogue)

As library holdings and services continued to grow, the university recognized the need for a dedicated library building. Work began on the new space, that is now Dodd Hall, in 1924. This building served as the library for Florida State College for Women and then for Florida State University until Strozier Library was built in 1956.

The Library, undated,

The new library opened to students towards the end of 1924, and Louise Richardson was hired as the university librarian, a role she would hold until 1953. Along with being the librarian, Richardson also created curriculum for and taught the first library science courses offered by Florida State College for Women. In 1926 “Library Science” became its own instruction area, composed of two classes: Library Methods and Advanced Library Methods. In 1929, Etta Lane Matthews was hired as the first professor of Library Science.

From 1935 Flastacowo,

By June 1930, the Department of Library Science was officially established and had nine faculty and seven courses. The department had also received American Library Association accreditation to properly qualify students as librarians.

From the 1929 course catalog,

As the university continued to expand their course offerings and enrollment steadily rose, the Department of Library Science was restructured in 1946 to offer a major in Library Science. In 1947, the department was renamed to the School of Library Training and Service and was established as a professional school offering a master’s degree. This was Florida’s first nationally accredited professional school for the training of librarians (President’s Report 1954).

Library science students studying, circa 1950s,

The new library building, now known as Strozier, opened in 1956. Between 1956 and 1958, major reorganization and expansion took place within the library. The Department of Special Collections was created during these years with the goal to “preserve and make available to scholars rare books and historical documents of Florida”. (President’s report 1956-1958

Excerpt from the President’s Report, 1954 – 1958,

This excerpt from the 1954-58 President’s Report describes some of the amenities offered by the new library. It also makes clear that from the opening of the new library, university officials recognized a need for even more space. The addition mentioned in the last sentence of the excerpt became a reality in 1967, when the library was expanded to include a 5-story annex.

In the next installments of Library History with HUA, we’ll explore how the Department of Special Collections transformed and grew after its inception in 1956. We’ll also trace the next steps for the Department of Library Training and Service, or “The Library School” as it was referenced in the President’s Report, after 1947 and how it became the online degree program it is today.

B is for baking

Throughout May, ARA Scotland are hosting their popular #ArchiveZ Twitter campaign which sees archive services from across Scotland, the wider UK and Ireland and even further afield internationally, post highlights from their collections and outreach programmes themed around a letter of the alphabet. We’re still early days in the campaign and currently on the letter B. We couldn’t possibly let ‘B’ go by without mentioning baking – that ubiquitous (if the eternal lack of four is anything to go by!) lockdown pursuit!

While we might not let you eat cake in our reading room on a normal day, our archive has plenty of instructional material on baking. Our NHS Forth Valley Archive holds a whole host of material relating to fundraising efforts to support construction of the new Falkirk & District Royal Infirmary in the 1920s. We have posters advertising bazaars, tea dances, singing and music and even a parade of cars! And yes, you guessed it – bake sales galore! But how will we ever know what cakes the bakers might have sold there? Why, through the Grangemouth Cookery Book, of course!

Some of the amazing fundraising efforts from the 1920s are evidenced by these wonderful posters

The 1925 baking hive mind

In 1925, recipes sent in from all over the UK – and even a few from further afield! Sandkaaker, anyone? – were compiled into this wonderful cookery book which was sold for one shilling and sixpence, ‘an effort on behalf of the Falkirk & District Infirmary Appeal Fund’. The recipe book includes savoury chapters on pies, soups, chutneys and jellies as well as pages dedicated to all kinds of desserts. And sure, who isn’t intrigued as to what Red Monkey is, let alone how to make it, but we couldn’t possibly resist the lure of all that cake!

In November 2019, the University Archives and Special Collections challenged colleagues across Information Services to recreate recipes from the cakes section of the Grangemouth Cookery Book. We selected a short list of cakes for our colleagues to choose from – mostly to ensure that they didn’t end up needing ingredients from brands that don’t exist anymore! Once recipes were distributed, there were a whole host of other difficulties to overcome – how hot is a ‘sharp’ oven? Or rather, how hot would it have been in 1925? Instructions for recipes assumed a fair amount of knowledge that some of our more novice IS bakers didn’t have! And how much is a ‘dash’ of lemon juice anyway? Does ‘sugar’ mean granulated, caster, icing? And speaking of icing, can I just add some to this cake, it sounds a little dry? (NO! Follow that recipe!) We had chocolate cake, apple cake, date cakes that didn’t need any baking, gluten free cross tarts, a fruit cake whose ingredients you had to decipher from Bible references (is my Bible definitely the same as a 1925 Bible?), some surprisingly modern sounding doughtnuts and so much gingerbread that we had to have a bake off just for them!

But no matter how worried our bakers were, we had the most magnificent bake sale to show for all their hard work. Not a scrap of cake was left at the end of the day, not even from the failed first attempt one of our bakers brought in alongside her successful second attempt to give us a laugh – even that flat specimen was wolfed down with some homemade orange curd and cream!

A Grand Bake Sale indeed!

If the coronavirus pandemic has shed any insight into the human psyche or social history, it has demonstrated that baking (and particularly bread) is still utterly ingrained (pun intended, why not?) in us as a comforting practise and compiling a recipe book to raise funds is far from being antiquated.

In fact, a member of retired University of Stirling staff who attended our Grangemouth Cookery Book Bake Sale in November was reminded of a recipe book that the University’s Airthrey Gardens Group compiled in the 1988 to raise money for keeping our beautiful campus gardens well looked after. Her copy of this recipe book ‘Teatime at Airthrey’ was generously donated to the University’s own Archive collection and may well one day be the subject of a second archive cake sale!

Baking seems to be one of those pursuits where although amazing new recipes and tricks are being developed all the time, we still love to go back to old, old recipes and keep memories alive with it too. How many of us still make our great grandmother’s Christmas cake recipe? Or keep a handwritten recipe card from that friend who makes the best gooey brownies? Recipes and memories of food are things that we treasure all of our lives in a way that doesn’t apply to many things we experience. We’d love to hear about those recipes or cook books that have been passed down the generations or shared across your own. And why not head to History Begins At Home for some ideas on how to get a conversation going with family and friends about their favourite food memories?

When the recipe says whisk for 20 minutes, you can be sure our amazing Repository Librarian will whisk for 20 minutes!

Object of the week

While the Pathfoot Building is closed, the Art Collection will each week focus on an object of interest. You can also search our entire collection online here.

Cool Interior – A Rememberance
Robin Philipson
(Oil on canvas, 1974)

Robin Philipson was first inspired to paint churches after visiting French cathedrals – especially Amiens – whilst on annual holidays there in the 1950s. Early works focused on the grandeur of cathedral exteriors, but soon his interest shifted inside, to the glow of light produced by sun shining through coloured stained glass. Philipson painted several rose window paintings, of which this is a particularly fine example.

It was presented to the University Chaplaincy in May 1974, created specifically for this location, and was gifted by the artist in memory of Tom Cottrell, the first Principal of the University, who had died suddenly in post in 1973. The many facets of the painting symbolised to the artist the piece-by-piece creation of the University and this also represents his appreciation and affection for Tom Cottrell.

There are two further works of Philipson’s in the permanent collection. The painting shown below, purchased for the brand new Art Collection in 1967, is entitled ‘Martyr’.

Martyr (Oil on canvas, 1966)

Philipson had lost his first wife Brenda Ellis Mark at the age of only thirty seven to a brain tumour in 1960, and many of his works during the following years speak of grief and a sombre sadness. Unlike most of his close contemporaries who were abstract artists, Philipson was never quite able to desert the motif in his work, and was unusual in using expressionism to mirror human experience in this way. Although this painting initially looks like a fully abstract canvas, divided into sections of pure colour, on closer inspection the figure of the martyr can be found in the dark grey panel towards the left of the canvas. Head bowed and body dejected, he seems no longer to be able to bear even his own weight.

Burning (Watercolour, 1963)

Philipson produced several different series of paintings, and during the 1960s one of these themes was burning. This small, dramatic watercolour also includes a rose window, as well as the suggestion of something burning in the foreground. The vigorous handling of the paint, almost scratched onto the paper, implies violence, and yet the use of watercolour gives a quieter feel to the background than was apparent in his oil paintings.

Robin Philipson was a significant and influential presence on the Scottish Art Scene for more than three decades. He had numerous commitments as Head of School of Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh College of Art, and in his 50s was President of the Royal Scottish Academy, but he was above all a practising painter, ranking as one of the most distinguished and prolific artists of the Edinburgh School.

Community Partner: Godby High School

My favorite thing about being the social media manager for the Sunshine State Digital Network is getting to look through the content of the repository. There is a wide variety of trends, current events, and life styles preserved by the materials that are contributed to the Sunshine State Digital Network. One of my favorite collections are the yearbooks contributed by Godby High School, which includes all of their yearbooks since the year 1969. As a fan of current events and trends, I decided to look through the oldest and newest yearbooks to see how time has changed Godby High School.

One of the most noticeable changes that has happened at Godby High School is the change in hair and fashion style. Back in 1969 and 1970, teachers wore their hair high and styled. Today, the range of teacher hair styles vary more because there is a greater diversity among the teacher population and because modern hair styles have changed for women.

An example of the hairstyles teachers used to wear back in 1969.

Another noticeable change in the year books is that current yearbooks feature more student centered articles than the early Godby yearbooks. While looking through the 2019 yearbook, I noticed many student highlight articles written for student athletes, students in clubs, and students who excel academically. These articles have added more content and length to the yearbooks. It gives a look into the year the students had and creates a type of time capsule to that specific year. Examples of these articles include highlights of the programs within the school, sports highlights, and highlights about school events.

An example of an article highlighting what the campus is doing.

The Godby High School yearbooks are student made and great ways of viewing into the lives of past and present high school students. They can be found in the Sunshine State Digital network repository under the Godby High School contributor link.

ISOO’s NISP to hold Teleconference on Cost Collection Tomorrow (May 19, 2020)

On Tuesday, May 19, 2020, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., ISOO’s National Industrial Security Program (NISP) will hold an interagency meeting by teleconference to discuss NISP cost collection.  The discussion will be led by ISOO Associate Director Greg Pannoni, and will include representatives of the Department of Defense, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The ISOO Overview will post a meeting summary on Friday, May 22, 2020.

Behind the Scenes: Building a Digital Exhibit with Omeka

Like all of you, Covid-19 made an abrupt change to my spring semester. Thankfully, my Digital History class was mostly unaffected because the assignments were already web-based. Our final project had us create a digital exhibit using which is a free platform available from the Roy Rosenzweig Center for New Media. As opposed to a historical approach like my project takes, archivists and librarians sometimes use Omeka differently. Instead of creating an exhibit, they might create digital collections as an online repository for digitized materials.

This link will take you to my digital exhibit “Enslavement and Sharecropping in Tallahassee.”


I built this exhibit based off the work I did in my internship here in Special Collections & Archives. Even with Covid-19’s disruptions to our work, education, and daily lives, we can still find alternatives like this to help our community access collections and research from home. All the primary sources featured in the exhibit come from our archival manuscript collections highlighted in the Enslavement and Sharecropping Research Guide.

What does creating an Omeka site look like? For starters, FSU Libraries has a guide on the subject. Other then setting up the site, we must decide what goes into it as objects. In this case, I wanted to interpret a wide range of primary sources that shows a narrative of how the Florida Territory introduced enslavement and how it developed over our State’s history. When we load an object into the site, we create metadata that records information about the object itself which you can see in this picture. Below is an example item addition for a sharecropping contract.


Omeka uses the Dublin Core schema which is relatively simple. The site allows users to input the metadata into labelled text boxes, as you can see above, with the option to use HTML for simple text editing. This is where we give the object a title, describe it, tell users who created it, and provide links to digitized versions when available. We also upload a digital file so that users can look at the material being described and so that we can put it in the exhibit.

Once the objects are loaded and the metadata is created, it’s just a matter of arranging them and then writing the descriptive text for them. For this one, I created sections based on chronology: territorial Florida, Antebellum, Reconstruction, and Civil Rights.

Click to view slideshow.

The exhibit sections are created from different “pages.” In a page, you use “boxes” as a tool to integrate images and text in a variety of options and styles. Within these sections, I arranged the objects chronologically with descriptive text next to each of them. Just like a physical exhibit, this is where we would provide some context on the source or tell our audience what makes it unique and valuable for research. Because this exhibit is historical, it is also where I interpret what we can learn from the primary source.


Including extant projects like this exhibit and our Research Guides, Special Collections & Archives staff are still available for virtual reference. While our physical spaces remain closed at this time, if you have any questions about accessing our collections, you can get in touch with us via email at We also have a range of items in our Digital Library that everyone can access remotely.

Nostalgia by Hironori Katagiri

This week’s #BeConnected Explore Our Campus looks at Nostalgia by Hironori Katagiri. This sculpture is located at the bottom of Pathfoot Drive on campus.

This work is one of 14 works by Hironori Katagiri on campus. “Nostalgia” was made while Katagiri was artist in residence at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop in Lumsden as part of the Japan 2001 Festival.

The sculpture explores plays with the physicality and character of the natural stone as a vessel to contain and remember human memories and experiences.

One block of red granite rock was split into over 40 pieces, which is irreversible. Katagiri then reformed the pieces back together to form the original block. Visually it looks a smilar shape but it is inextricably altered by this experience- the same way that we are altered by the life experiences that we live through.

Sarah talks (in windy conditions) about Nostalgia by Hironori Katagiri

Artists Hironori Katagiri and Kate Thomson talk about their working practice and how they feel about their artworks being on the University campus.

Nostalgia has also been the inspiration for creative writing pieces undertaken by the Stirling students. The short story The Memory Stone was created by Stirling student Frances Ainslie.

You can also download a copy of our Japanese Sculpture Tour which show the location of Hironori Katagiri’s artworks on campus,

1974 Jeffrey Steele

For this week’s #Brigincolour we are focussing on Peziza by Jeffrey Steele which was added to the Art Collection in 1974. Jeffrey Steele (born 3rd July 1931) is an abstract painter. He grew up in Cardiff, Wales, and studied at local art schools.

During the 1950s he experimented with representational styles. In Paris in 1959 he encountered the work of geometric abstractionists such as Victor Vasarely and Max Bill, and adopted a lifelong abstract approach.

Jeffrey Steele’s work in the 1960s was two-dimensional and two-tonal, and explored the idea of space and how we conceive space. For eight years he worked only in black and white and was associated with the Op art movement.

Op art, short for optical art, is a style of visual art that uses optical illusions. Op art works are abstract, with many better known pieces created in black and white. Typically, they give the viewer the impression of movement, hidden images, flashing and vibrating patterns, or of swelling or warping.

The Art Collection’s Peziza was created in 1965 and Jeffrey explained his work as ‘visual black and white impressions based upon a series of lines of length which increase in mathematical progression’. He was interested not only in the creation of a sense of space within artworks, but was also interested in how an audience responds to art and the way in which they move in the space around an artwork in order to gain different perspectives.

This artwork currently hangs in the A-B Corridor in the Pathfoot Building, In our collections we also have another work by Steele Syntagma SG13 which was added to the collection a year earlier in 1973.

Collaborate, Innovate, Learn

Difficult times demand innovative thinking. In March, the National Archives began closing buildings around the country in order to protect our staff and public from the pandemic. NARA staff members were plunged into a world where the work to support the mission of the agency became fully digital. In response, NARA quickly created a wide variety of new training programs for staff. Within the first week of remote working, NARA developed new staff training for a variety of digital projects.

Many of the charts you may have seen lately have been depressingly grave regarding the virus. Here’s a chart that shows NARA’s work over the past few weeks and the increase is actually great news. 

Our community management team is providing training for NARA remote workers and the public that supports NARA’s goal of Making Access Happen through tagging and transcribing records in the Catalog. By transcribing records, especially hand-written documents, we are enabling the search engine to find those records more easily. Tagging also supports better search results by providing data about the records for the search engine to find. 

National Archives Catalog image of a Mathew Brady Civil War photograph showing user contributed tags.

The response to this training has resulted in a tripling of tags and transcriptions, which makes finding specific records easier for researchers. 

National Archives Catalog image showing user contributed transcription of handwritten World War I Division Record.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to quickly move to 100% remote work projects and NARA staff have been rising to the challenge. This is just one example of NARA staff living our values to collaborate, innovate and learn. NARA staff are busy on a wide variety of digital projects in support of the mission of the agency. Stay tuned for more!

Community Partner Spotlight: First Baptist Church of Tallahassee

For our second community partner spotlight, I am excited to be able to share newly available materials in the First Baptist Church of Tallahassee (FBCT) digital collection!

Once we completed digitization of the church bulletins, I met with my contacts at the Church for what they wanted to explore for digitization next. A set of photographs, programs and other historical documentation about the Church emerged. I set my contacts to the task of creating some basic description about these materials. As the subject experts, they were the best suited to the task of telling me who was in these photographs or what events they were showing and how they reflected the history of the Church. They did not disappoint! I was very pleased to be able to provide rich metadata for the new materials thanks to the hard work of my volunteer catalogers.

I was particularly happy to see this photograph from the 1940s showing a celebration held in the sanctuary of the Church for recent college graduates, many of whom were probably graduating from Florida State College for Women, FSU’s predecessor institution.

Celebration of Graduates at First Baptist Church, 1940-1950 [see original object]

Another aspect of the Church that this set of materials shares is the work of the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) and its Girls Auxiliary. Around this time of year, a new set of girls would be initiated into the Auxiliary and start their paths to becoming maidens, ladies-in-waiting, princesses and queens for the Auxiliary. It would have been a crowning achievement for these girls as they contributed to their church and local communities to earn their titles. The materials relating to the WMU and Girls Auxiliary share their work over the years to contribute widely to the Church, both locally and around the world.

Please browse all of the FBCT collection in DigiNole to explore the history of the Church, its congregation and how it fits into the wider historical picture of Tallahassee.

Gena Branscombe

Composer and conductor Gena Branscombe (1881-1977) was a prominent figure in New York City’s musical life from 1910 till her death. Her passion for composing, performing and being a mentor and leader for American women composers formed the very essence of this remarkable musician. Although she later fell into obscurity, today there is a resurgent interest in her romantic music and inspired life.

Branscombe composed 150 art songs sung by famous singers of her day, and her chamber music and choral works were performed across the country. Her women’s chorus, The Branscombe Choral, gave yearly concerts at the Broadway Tabernacle Church and at Town Hall, sang at the first United Nations and on radio broadcasts, and presented Christmas concerts for commuters at Grand Central and Pennsylvania stations.

Branscombe was married to John Ferguson Tenney and was mother to four daughters. Over one hundred years ago, multi-tasking was part of her daily routine.

In 1940 Branscombe’s dramatic oratorio, Pilgrims of Destiny (above) aired over WNYC with the help of the station’s WPA-funded concert orchestra. But this large-scale work had already been played throughout America since its publication in the 1920s. After drifting from public awareness, an April 2019 revival performance at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts brought the work into the 21st century; once again Branscombe’s patriotic work told America’s story through the eyes of the Mayflower’s passengers. 

The work had its roots in 1919, a year of agonizing loss and new life for Branscombe as she nursed her husband and three daughters through the influenza pandemic. Betty, her radiant three year old daughter, succumbed to the illness in January; in June, Gena gave birth to her fourth daughter, Beatrice. 

Branscombe composed Pilgrims of Destiny while dealing with emotions ranging from the depths of mourning to the joy of new life. The oratorio was a family endeavor, with her husband encouraging his wife to return to her emotional outlet – creating music. Tenney served as her editor, typist and research assistant: he combed the Mayflower’s logs for passenger details and studied accounts of the voyage. 

The text of the oratorio follows events on board the Mayflower on November 9 and 10, 1620. A storm swells; sailors boast of their life at sea; a brother and sister sing a tender duet. Children sing while playing games remembered from their homeland. A mournful women’s chorus questions why children and the sick may not survive. Will God hear their pleas? Finally, land is sighted and the work ends with a ringing chorus of thankful jubilation to God. The pilgrims are convinced that their new country shall be a temple filled with brotherhood, faith, and love.

Pilgrims of Destiny received many accolades. The Daughters of the American Revolution recognized the work for its patriotic subject matter, while in 1928 the National League of American Pen Women awarded Pilgrims of Destiny its Best Composition award; and when the 1929 convention of the National Federation of Music Clubs took place in Plymouth, Massachusetts, it naturally included  a performance of the oratorio. Later that year the famed Boston music publisher Oliver Ditson published Pilgrims of Destiny for its acclaimed musical excellence and subject matter. This year, the newly edited orchestral and piano/vocal scores will be republished. 

Branscombe conducted Pilgrims of Destiny for the 1940 WNYC broadcast, augmenting her Branscombe Choral with additional singers, soloists and the WNYC Concert Orchestra. It was the work’s last performance of the 20th Century. 

My personal connection to the work happened several years ago, when I came across lacquer disc recordings of the broadcast in Branscombe’s collection at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.  As I listened to the WNYC announcer recount the story and characters of Scene V, he said “Dorothy Bradford, sung by Ellen Repp, cries out in anguish that she will never again see her little son left behind in Holland.” Ellen Repp had been my voice teacher in the early 1980s, long before I knew who Gena Branscombe was. Repp died in 1999, the year I discovered Branscombe’s music. We never had the opportunity to discuss her work with the composer.

For more information on Branscombe’s life and work please go to: The Gena Branscombe Project.

The author of this piece may be reached via: Kathleen Shimeta.

The Branscombe Chorale performing March 15, 1949 under the direction of Gena Branscombe and broadcast over WNYC. Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives.

Student Volunteers Required

Would you like to make a difference to the lives of young people in Scotland?

We’re looking for current students to volunteer as mentors on our ‘Capturing Lives in Scotland’s Communities’ project.

The project aims to bring together young people aged 8 – 18 from across Scotland to explore and document life in their own communities in 2020 by creating art in response to art and archival material held in university collections. We are seeking current students to act as mentors to the discussion groups to help introduce participants to life at University.

Person requirement

  • Able to commit to a maximum of 3.5 hours per week between 8th June and 17th July
  • Be an enthusiastic, confident communicator who is able to enthuse others
  • Have previous experience working with young people
  • Have previous experience in one or more art forms (desirable)
  • Have previous experience of using Microsoft Teams (desirable)

Successful Applicants will be required to attend two Training Sessions

Introduction to the project: Wednesday 27th May, 10am to 12pm or Thursday 28th May, 2.30pm to 4.30pm

Child protection and safeguarding: Wednesday 3rd June, 11am to 12pm or Thursday 4th June, 2.30pm to 3.30pm

To Apply

Further details of the project can be found in the downloadable document

If you would like to apply to volunteer, please email Sarah  a copy of your current CV and a statement of up to 300 words detailing how you meet the person requirements. Please also indicate which training sessions you would be able to attend. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions you may have.

Application deadline: Friday 22nd  May

The Musician online

This week our #BeConnected video tour comes from the University Archives who are going to guide you around a new addition to our Culture on Campus website.

Our new website provides an opportunity for us to share digitised content from our collections with researchers, an increasingly important resource during the current coronavirus lockdown. The University Archives has added a full set of digitised copies of The Musician, the magazine of the Musicians’ Union covering the years 1950 to 1975 to the website. This video provides further information on the magazine and how to access this new research resource:

Beneath the sometimes dry writing style and seriousness of a trade union journal, The Musician is an invaluable and unique account of what it was like to be a musician working in the UK during the second half of the twentieth century. It covers all the big social and political issues of the period from a singular – but otherwise under documented perspective – that of the musician. Crucially for researchers it does this to a level of detail that is unavailable elsewhere, allowing for the creation of new and more compelling histories of the profession and industries surrounding it. 

John Williamson, author of Players’ Work Time – A Social History of the Musicians’ Union.

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

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, to carry out the digitisation of the The Musician. You can read her report on the project here.

Community Partner Spotlight: Havana History & Heritage Society

One of my favorite responsibilities in my work is coordinating and working with community organizations in the Tallahassee area to digitize materials they hold in their historical collections. As a public university, I feel FSU, and by extension myself, have a responsibility to help smaller community institutions who are unable, for various reasons, to digitize and provide access to these materials on their own. I have found this to be rewarding work and over the next month, I’ll be spotlighting the collections of these partners and the work I’ve been lucky enough to share with them to bring these materials online.

Havana, Florida is 30 minutes north of downtown Tallahassee and is considered by some online sources to be a suburb of Tallahassee but its residents would argue it is a distinct rural community in its own right. The Havana History & Heritage Society was established to preserve and highlight the historical assets and events that have made Havana an exceptional community in which to live, have a business, and visit. The Society’s home is in the Shade Tobacco Museum in downtown Havana.

FSU was first approached by the Society in February 2019, referred by one of our other community partners, to gauge interest in digitizing a set of scrapbooks documenting the Home Demonstration Extension Service work in Gadsden County from 1916 through the 1960s. In particular, the scrapbooks documented the work of Ms. Elise Laffitte who ran the home demonstration portion of the extension services in the county for several decades.

Ms. Laffitte at work in the home demonstration office, Gadsden County [see original item in scrapbook]

In 2019, FSU did digitize seven scrapbooks and a loose set of photographs from the Society which are now available online in DigiNole: FSU’s digital repository. These scrapbooks provide a fascinating look at this farming community during the World Wars and Great Depression years. It also showcases the importance of women in producing food and clothing in these communities. In the 1942-1946 scrapbook in particular, the importance of the activities of the extension services during the war effort are clear. There is also a focus on what women and children through gardening and 4-H clubs were doing for the war effort in this scrapbook which is a different perspective then we often get. There is also correspondence showing businesses went to Ms. Laffitte to find fresh produce and products they needed during the war that they could not get elsewhere but that small farms and gardens could provide at the time.

Newspaper articles taped into the 1942-1946 scrapbook [see original pages in scrapbook]

Over time though, there is a shift in interested in the home demonstration extension service. By the last scrapbook from 1960-1961, the focus has shifted from food production to soft goods like clothing and quilts. Canning is still mentioned frequently but food production does not seem to be as much of a focus for the group. The State Style Show features prominently in this later scrapbook.

Page from the 1960-1961 scrapbook showing some of the State Style Show winners [see original page in scrapbook]

We look forward to our next project with the Havana History & Heritage Society later this year and encourage you to browse all of the Society’s collection available online.

Object of the week

While the Pathfoot Building is closed, the Art Collection will each week focus on an object of interest. You can also search our entire collection online here.

Oyster Catchers (3 pieces)
Helen Denerley
(Scrap and found metal, 2007)

In 2007 in the Crush Hall in the Pathfoot Building, plans were being made for a major exhibition of Willie Rodger‘s work. During the early stages, it was decided to include several artistic Rodger family members, alongside Willie himself, in this display, and in addition the courtyard just off the Crush Hall was chosen for a special overhaul. One of Willie’s sons Guy redesigned this space as a wheelchair-accessible gravel garden.

Guy Rodger’s courtyard design in 2007 just after planting

Oyster catchers are wading birds, with distinctive black and white plumage and long orange beaks. Every spring, several pairs arrive on the University of Stirling campus where they build their nests and raise their chicks on the ground on pebbles or rocks. During the design and construction stage of this courtyard, a pair of these birds started to build a nest there, in the new gravel, halting progress for several weeks***(see below for an update).

Serendipitously, the Art Curator Jane Cameron discovered that leading wildlife artist Helen Denerley had created some Oyster catchers from scrap metal, and three sculptures were purchased to be placed in the newly created garden.

And Robin Rodger, another of Willie’s sons, wrote a poem, for the new space.

Photo by Grace Cameron

The Oyster catcher courtyard now flourishes with beautiful grasses, flowers and climbers, providing a restful sanctuary for students and staff…

Birdbath by Lotte Glob
(kindly loaned by Maggie Inall in memory of her husband,
Dr. Inall, a surgeon at Stirling Royal Infirmary).

…except when the birds return to nest.
Then the doors remain closed to the public, and peace reigns for a while, until the birds have flown.

Oyster catcher parents and their chicks filmed
from the Art Collection office window in May 2019

We hope that they are enjoying their space undisturbed in this unusual spring.

We are grateful to Alison Campbell for giving us more details from this time.
Here is the text of an email she sent to the Terry Wogan show on Radio 2 in Spring 2007:

“Yesterday I went on an outing to Stirling University to see the gems of their art collection, and indeed the paintings and the sculptures, displayed as they are in the main concourse of one of the teaching buildings, are beautiful and inspirational.
Most popular exhibit of the day, however, was in a small courtyard which was supposed to be undergoing re-landscaping.
A single-minded and bolshie oyster-catcher has decided that the pebbled path is the best location for sitting tight on her eggs, and therefore entry is barred and all work has stopped till mid-June when the chicks will be fledged”.

Alison tells us that one of the chicks when it hatched was named Terry…and that the Art Collection got three more mentions on the radio during the course of that year.

Popup Exhibits Celebrate Women’s Suffrage Centennial

The National Archives, in partnership with the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission (WSCC), is providing 2,500 free Rightfully Hers popup displays to cultural institutions nationwide in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and women’s constitutional right to vote. 

While many of our institutions remain closed due to COVID-19, we are grateful for the opportunity to share these displays, making them available to you when our communities begin to reopen.

The ratification of the 19th Amendment was a landmark moment in American history that dramatically changed the electorate. It enshrined in the United States Constitution fuller citizenship for women and a more expansive democracy for the nation. This popup display contains simple messages about the expansion of the vote to millions of women, before and after the 19th amendment, and its impact today. An educational tool for teaching about American government, the engaging and interpretative display is lightweight, easy to set-up, and requires no tools or walls. Organizations or venues interested in ordering a popup display can sign up here by June 27 or send questions to

Rightfully Hers popup exhibit

The holdings of the National Archives include extensive documentation of the struggle for Women’s Suffrage. Rightfully Hers explores the history of the ratification of the 19th Amendment and the state of voting rights before and after the women’s suffrage movement. In 2019, the National Archives delivered 1,600 of these popups to numerous venues. This partnership between the National Archives and WSCC will make the information available to many more communities this year and beyond. Through the Rightfully Hers popup displays, we can bring engaging and invaluable content from these materials to communities across the country.

The National Archives’ Rightfully Hers popup display is presented by the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, Unilever, Pivotal Ventures, Carl M. Freeman Foundation in honor of Virginia Allen Freeman, AARP, Denise Gwyn Ferguson, and the National Archives Foundation.

1985 – John Houston

This Thursday, to tie in with ‘Brig in Colour‘, we are showcasing this work by John Houston, purchased for the Art Collection in the year 1985.

Dark Sunset V
John Houston OBE RSA
(Screenprint 1/1)

Houston took his inspiration from the East Coast of Scotland. His style was expressionist, painting landscapes, seascapes, still-life and the human form in oil and watercolour, using strong colours to evoke atmosphere and changing weather and light. John Houston’s work was also inspired by his passion for jazz, and this can clearly be imagined when looking at this piece. Another similar example is the print shown below, also owned by the Art Collection.

Bass Rock, Dusk (Lithograph, 7/35, 1973)

One of the most distinguished painters of the post-war Scottish school, John Houston was born in Buckhaven, Fife, and in fact played football for Dundee United (and Scotland under 21s) until his career was halted by a knee injury. He then attended Edinburgh College of Art where his contemporaries included David Michie and Alan Davie (an acomplished jazz musician). After graduating he began teaching at ECA, and remained till his retirement in 1989, while also working as a prolific painter.

Dusk (Oil on canvas, 1971)

John Houston was married to Dame Elizabeth Blackadder, whose work is also in the University collection, and in 2012 a joint exhibition entitled ‘Journeys from Home I Journeys Together’ was organised by the Art Collection, and The Park Gallery, Falkirk.
Copies of the catalogues are available here

Read more about Brig in Colour on Twitter here #brigincolour

History of the Nursing Program at FSU

May 6th is Nurses Day!

Florida State College for Women (FSCW) began a precursor to the current Nursing Program in 1936. A B.S. in Nursing was available through the School of Home Economics. Students in this program worked closely with local hospitals to receive the necessary nursing training, while also taking more traditionally liberal arts classes at FSCW.

Nursing Instructor Teaching Her Students
Nursing Instructor Teaching Her Students, circa 1950s. [see item in digital library]

In 1949, FSU created a separate College of Nursing, which was the second collegiate nursing program established in the state of Florida, and appointed Ms. Vivian M. Duxbury as Dean. The first class admitted in 1950 and was made up of 25 young women. The classes continued to be made up of small groups of primarily female students for many years, even though it was introduced after the university became coed in 1947. This was primarily due to the stereotype of nursing being a woman’s job and becoming a doctor was strictly for men. This meant that there were no male professors or doctors to teach the female students. Therefore, the college utilized women who had obtained their nursing degree from elsewhere or had experience/training from past wars to teach the women.

1960s College of Nursing Class Photo
1960s College of Nursing Class Photo. [see item in digital library]

In 1958 Florida State’s nursing baccalaureate program became the first in Florida to receive national accreditation by the National League for Nursing. It was only 1 out of less than 100 in the entire nation to become accredited. This was a great accomplishment for FSU. Due to the newfound distinction of the nursing program, it was able to grow at a much faster rate than before. In 1975 the school of nursing was finally granted their own building on campus, Vivian M Duxbury Hall, and by 1976 1,871 students had graduated from the nursing program at FSU.

Black and White Photos of Nursing Instruments
Black & White Photos of Nursing Instruments. [see item in digital library]

In 1985, the school of nursing was able to offer a masters program for students pursuing higher degrees in nursing. By 2006, the school of nursing officially changed its name from School of Nursing to College of Nursing.

The College of Nursing is constantly improving, adapting, and pursuing high reaching goals. It is now ranked among the top one hundred universities in the nation and one of the most selective majors at FSU with only 80 applicants accepted in the fall and over 300 applicants applying. In the end, the College of Nursing’s prestige continues to add to FSU’s reputation as one of the top twenty public universities in the nation.

Held in Heritage & University Archives, are the records and memorabilia of the College of Nursing. This collection consists of papers, ephemera, and photographs that document the history and activities of the college from its development in 1948 through 2014. Included are records from the deans, the graduate nursing program, various faculty committees, student organizations (Student Nurses Association and Sigma Theta Tau), and the Legacy Project, as well as materials created for special events such as pinning and graduation ceremonies, homecoming events, conferences, and presentations. A detailed inventory is located here.

King and Queen by Nick Evans

Every Monday as part of #BeConnected we are exploring an artwork, area or feature of the University campus. This week we are looking at King and Queen by Nick Evans.

King and Queen is located just outside the Pathfoot Building (E corridor outside courtyard, halfway up the building). The sculpture was purchased by the Art Collection in 2012 with match funding from the National Fund for Acquisitions.

At the Art Collection we are always keen to inspire creativity and encourage individual responses to our artworks. In 2016 we embarked on a collaborative project with former MRes Creative Writing student (and current PhD student) Janine Mitchell, the School of Education and a variety of writers, including a previous cohort of MLitt Creative Writing Students, These writers were invited to submit creative responses to our sculptures and amongst the creative responses was the poem below aimed at young learners inspired by King and Queen,

Kings and Queens by Janine Mitchell

I’ve heard of richard and william and henry

queen anne and lizzie, victoria and mary

their carriages, servants and posh jewellery

but these aren’t the monarchs that matter to me

The King of the Herrings and King Dragonflies

The Queen Triggerfish with her blue-patterned eyes

The Winged Queen Black Ant and Queen Butterflies

The King of Saxony Bird of Paradise

King Vultures, Kingcroakers and King Cormorants

Queen Bumblebees, Dragonflies, Termites and Ants

The Dashing King Penguin dressed up for romance

The King Rail that runs with a chicken-like prance

The Queen Parrotfish with her jewels and her crown

And Kingfishers: Malachite, Pied, White and Brown

King Cobras that build a leaf nest on the ground

The Seven-Striped Queen Snake not easily found

These Kings of the Jungles and Mountains and Seas

These Queens of the Skies and the Rivers and Trees

The Scaled and the Feathered, the Giant, the Wee

Now these are the Monarchs that matter to me.

The publication below is used every year by students of the Initial Teacher Education programme to introduce young learners to the sculptures on the campus and to encourage active and creative engagement with these pieces. It is also be made available for use by educators, schools, students, families and the wider community.

We hope that you will be inspired by the poetry and short stories in the collection to produce your own works of art. We hope that you will share these works with us and with others.

Scottish Political Archive Launch New Crowdsourcing Campaign

The Scottish Political Archive are looking for volunteers to help with a new crowdsourcing project to fully transcribe and index their 2014 Independence Referendum Collection.

This project is jointly led by Dr Chiara Bonacchi (University of Stirling) and the Scottish Political Archive (Sarah Bromage), in collaboration with the UCL Institute of Archaeology, The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, and the British Museum. The associated researcher developing and managing crowdsourcing activities is Dr Elisa Broccoli.

MicroPasts is a free and open-source, crowdsourcing platform which supports online mass creation, enhancement and analysis of open data in archaeology, history and heritage. It aims to build collaborations between heritage institutions and citizens to study the human past together. MicroPasts was established in 2013 with seed-funding from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and has continued running ever since with input from some of its co-founders (Prof. Andrew Bevan, UCL, Daniel Pett, Fitzwilliam Museum, Dr Chiara Bonacchi, University of Stirling, Dr Jennifer Wexler, British Museum).

Dr Chiara Bonacchi said “This is an important activity to ensure that smaller heritage organisations like the Scottish Political Archive can continue engaging audiences during this difficult period of lockdown and in the immediate aftermath. Through this digitisation project, in particular, we hope to create data that will unlock new research on the political uses of heritage in the context of the 2014 Referendum.”

Dr Elisa Broccoli said  “We developed a first crowdsourcing application to transcribe leaflets from the Scottish Political Archive. We will follow it up with a photo-tagging application to publicly index photographs from the 2014 Referendum campaign and facilitate searches for specific people, places, objects. We are asking volunteer contributors to help with these tasks”

Archivist Sarah Bromage said “The Scottish Political Archive actively collected Yes and No campaign materials for the 2014 Independence Referendum.  We wanted  to find out what was happening at grass roots level in local communities; effectively what was being put through people’s doors, distributed at campaign stalls and displayed in shop and home windows. We ended up with nearly 3,000 photographs and many, many leaflets.  This new project allows us to make this collection fully accessible to researchers around the world”

Link to the transcription application: 

For more information on the Scottish Political Archive 

For more information on the Micropasts

At Home with the Collections Management Team

On March 23rd, our student employees returned to work from Spring Break, but not to the library. Due to the campus shut down because of COVID-19, our staff started working from home. Remote work is an interesting conundrum to figure out when 90% of your work exists in the physical realm. Our collections management team are in charge of reshelving and paging materials, preparing books for shipment to Cataloging, rehousing new materials, and everything else in between. Since the shut down, our staff have shifted to working on projects in ArchivesSpace, metadata remediation, and lots and lots of webinars and training. This situation has been difficult for everyone to navigate, but this group of students has demonstrated tremendous resilience. As part of their work, we asked for them to write about their experiences in working from home.


I never imagined working from home before the pandemic started. I really enjoyed the work I did at Special Collections so I am heartbroken, but grateful. At the library, I’d probably be reshelving books with my coworkers or listening to podcasts to keep me company. Working from home doesn’t feel the same. As much as I love my roommate, being with the same person for days on end feels a tad exhausting; especially since I can’t talk to them about my work. When I’m working on ArchivesSpace, my mind starts to spiral thinking about all the things that I wasn’t able to do. 

I was supposed to graduate on Saturday. I had already picked out my outfits according to the days I’d be at work. I’ll never get to finish cataloging my stack of books. I’ll never be able to get closure of saying goodbye to my coworkers. I miss the rush of having a schedule. I miss walking up the Civic Center parking lot and hiking that mile up to the library. 

Zoom meetings became something to look forward to. Monday OPS meetings helped me remember the days of the week.  It was the bit of normalcy that I needed during this time. I’d get happy solely when people said my name. Although these meetings were short, it was nice to see people’s faces and laugh about Animal Crossing. Now that I’m graduating, I feel sad that my life will change once again. No more Zoom meetings or Teams messages. I’ll miss my life before but I’ll always remember how happy I was when I was working at Special Collections. 


My experience working from home, while not ideal, has been nice in some ways. I am someone who prefers structure, but I really can’t complain about sitting on my couch in my pajamas and doing work (although, the world is missing out on seeing me in some seriously cute work outfits). The work I’ve been doing has also been somewhat different. I’ve been working on reorganizing collections in our ArchivesSpace database which is not too out of the ordinary, but I’ve also taken the opportunity to learn more about librarianship through various webinars and trainings. While the experience is challenging and frustrating, I truly think that we will come out of this with a better understanding of how we can use technology to enhance the library experience. Already we are coming up with creative ways to keep our patrons engaged and I think that some of the ideas that have sprung from this will continue to help us post-quarantine. Other than that, I will say that my dog is not the best coworker and my roommate can be distracting, but I’m also happy to have their company. Of course I miss everyone in SCA, but I’m glad we are all taking the proper precautions to stay safe and healthy. If we do it right, we’ll be back to the library in no time! Until then, I’ll enjoy my morning coffee and bagel from home.


Working from home was difficult at first, but I managed to make a structured schedule of my own. I was able to access a lot of resources that helped me understand the ArchivesSpace database, especially in top container management. There were also training resources that I was able to obtain about digital learning and other online classes to educate myself as much as I can. Zoom meetings both inside and outside of work were also something I looked forward to with the lack of human interaction I was having. This experience also made me realize how much I love working with people in person and how much I miss my co-workers!

Nevertheless, working from home still gave me more insight into technology and the best ways to utilize it while working from home. In addition to school work and Special Collections, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family and spending time with my dog Leo! I hope we will all be back in the fall and continue with our regular routines.


At first, I thought working from home wouldn’t be so bad but after a week or so I definitely felt the differences. Specifically, most of my routines regarding exercise and meal prepping have stalled so it has been a challenge to restart. But I’m slowly building them back up. Even though some exercise routines have slacked I have found some time to start learning the piano, drawing for fun, and trying to improve my solve time with the Rubik’s Cube. So far, my average solve time for the Rubik’s Cube is about 50 seconds but by the time the stay-at-home order is finished (whenever that happens) I’d like to have an average solve time of about 30 seconds. I’ve played the piano here and there but now I have the time to try and learn more scales and chords.

Even though working from home was a challenge at first, I’ve found it easier to optimise the work that I do have, and work on my ability to focus for longer periods of time. I’ve grown to miss in-person interactions with people but I’ve learned to settle for just hearing or seeing people through a computer screen! Hopefully, I will be able to see my co-workers in the near future!


I’ve always been someone who loves creating a weekly schedule, but never has it been more important to do so then now. I’ve caught myself  once or twice not filling out my planner and boy, let me tell you, that was a nightmare! Additionally, while having my cat and dog with me and eating wherever and whenever I want has come as a pleasant addition to my everyday life, the hands-on, face-to-face work I did when campus was still open is something I now can’t wait to get back to.

Not everything has been doom and gloom. While in quarantine, the first thing I did was finish some preservation boxes I’d pre-measured to bring home. This work was one of my favorite things to do in Special Collections, so I really can’t wait to get back into it. I’ve also worked on a number of digitization projects which is awesome as I get to see so much of the content I’m currently away from. It also serves as a decent relaxer as I can crank this work out in a decent amount of time with few hiccups. Something I’ve taken away from this experience is how important it is to have options. I have taken advantage of this time to educate myself and enrolled in an online course which is teaching me about creating a digital cultural heritage community. Learning new things is one of my favorite pastimes, so what better way than to find a course geared toward my intended career path? This course is really helping me to stay sane through this transition and I’m optimistic that it will give me additional knowledge about the field of library sciences that will help me as I graduate and move on to graduate school. I’m glad I get to see everyone’s faces at least once a week and I have hope that we’ll get back to our normal routines soon. Until then, I’ll continue to work as hard as I can to contribute to everything that is thrown at me. Cheers!

Scenes from working at home