Art Hodes and The Metropolitan Revue

Jazz pianist, publisher and educator Art Hodes (1904-1993) took over hosting WNYC’s Metropolitan Revue jazz show from Ralph Berton on April 6, 1942. The weekday broadcast specialized in playing jazz records by pioneering musicians. The longer Saturday broadcasts showcased many of the same performers live in the studio. Among them: Eddie Condon, Max Kaminsky, Pee Wee Russell, Brad Gowans, Bill Davison, George Wettling, Miff Mole, Tony Parenti, Mezzrow, Red Allen, James P. Johnson, Leadbelly and Charles ‘Cow Cow’ Davenport.

Writing in the December 1972 Esquire magazine, Hodes described his year-long stint as host and disc-jockey.

Lunch is on you; so is carfare.  They do furnish the needle.  You bring your own records. But if you want the music to live you got to do somethin’ about it.  So there I am; a six-day week.[1]

Hodes would later expand on this in his 1992 memoir explaining the half-hour weekday slot and hour-long Saturday afternoon shows.

Now when I first took the show I had my little wind-up Victrola, like all the other musicians, and about twenty-five records that I always carried around, maybe a few more. Gene [Williams] and Ralph [Gleason] supplied me with records and wrote me a script, daily. All I had to do was talk. And I could play the piano too. We use Louis Armstrong’s intro to West End Blues as my theme, and usually I played myself off the air. Saturday afternoon I had guests. And in no time I had a lot of listeners, thousands of younger people, plus the players who got up in the middle of the night (1:30 in the afternoon) to give a listen. I remember Pee Wee Russell telling me, ‘I catch your show all the time. Keeps me from having to play my records.’ [2]

Hodes was spinning records other stations couldn’t or wouldn’t, including King Oliver, the Dodds brothers, Jimmie Noone, Earl Hines, Jelly Roll Morton, Jimmy Yancey, Pinetop Smith, and Fats Waller. After a few months he was comfortable and didn’t need Gleason and Williams to prepare a script for him. Still, he had a lot of help from the jazz, blues and boogie woogie legends who came to the studio as Saturday guests. The above audio is a rare sampling of the Saturday show from the Fall of 1942. It opens with Leadbelly doing the theme song Goodnight Irene from his 1940-1941 WNYC program, Folksongs of America. He follows it with Don’t You Love Your Daddy No More, Christmas is Coming, and  Fannin Street (Mr. Tom Hughes Town). Then stepping up to the mic is Gene Hall with a wonderful rendition of Pinetop Smith’s Boogie Woogie. He follows that with a portion of his own Gene Hall Blues before the aircheck cuts out.

The photograph above of Hodes with Charles ‘Cow Cow’ Davenport originally appeared with an article by music critic John S. Wilson in the progressive tabloid PM on June 8, 1942. In that piece, Wilson wrote that Davenport, who had been on the Metropolitan Revue a few days earlier, laid claim to the name ‘boogie-woogie.’ He wrote: “Blues tunes, in Cow Cow’s home, were not considered respectable. So, when he secretly knocked out a little blue stuff, he called it ‘boogie music’ in honor of a current synonym for the devil. Later, playing in honky tonks where the dancers were addicted to the scraunch, a rhumba-like step, Cow Cow referred to both the dancing and his piano accompaniment as ‘boogie-woogie.’ ” [3]  Unfortunately, performances like this didn’t last. What we now consider a typical record show with the host introducing or back-announcing a track’s album label and title was, as Hodes writes, misconstrued by the powers-that-be over WNYC.

“We have an audience we can’t count. So now the letters pour in.  I can’t answer ’em.  I have to do it over the air.  I’m mentioning, ‘This is a Decca recording; or Victor; Columbia. Well now, La Guardia (Mayor La Guardia) usually is on and off the air long before my stint.  But this one time he follows me on.  So he hears me.  And he’s mad.  ‘Get him off the air; he’s commercial.’  (He heard mention of the record labels. )  Hell, I couldn’t afford a secretary to answer all the inquiries.  And (well, he didn’t know) those records I mentioned were either my own or loaned to me.  So I was there a year before the good mayor heard me once more and there went the gig.”[4] [5]

It is unfortunate that Mayor La Guardia thought Hodes was promoting records he’d been given by the record companies like some kind of payola. Hodes wrote of the show’s demise and what he considered the paucity of listenable jazz radio at the time.

There was a lot of heat generated, and many letters poured into WNYC. All to no avail. I could resign or get fired. I slid off gracefully. But while I was there I accomplished a lot. It’s barren. If it were food, I wouldn’t eat it; if it were a book, I wouldn’t read it. Why do we settle for such trash where our ears are concerned?[6]

Before the WNYC gig went belly-up, Milton Roseman, writing in PM, called Hodes a “man with a message” and said that ever since he took on the radio show, “he has been a New York voice of the jazz cognoscenti.”[7]

Hodes went on to edit The Jazz Record for five years and play with his own band in the Chicago area for some forty years. In the 1960s he appeared in the TV series Jazz Alley and toured in Europe in the 1980s. He was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1998. Art Hodes died in 1993 at the age of 89. 


[1] Hodes, Art, “Jazz: The Sweet, Slow Comeback,” Esquire, December 1, 1972.

[2] Hodes, Art and Chadwick Hansen, Hot Man: The Life of Art Hodes, University of Illinois Press, 1992, pgs. 55-56.

[3] Wilson, John S., PM, June 8, 1942, pg.23.

[4] Hodes, Art, Esquire, December 1, 1972.

[5] The cancellation of the Metropolitan Revue wasn’t the first time Mayor La Guardia brought about the end of a WNYC program. A few years earlier ‘The Little Flower’ did not appreciate musicologist Theodor Adorno’s music appreciation series. See: Frankfurt School Theorist on WNYC in 1940.

[6] Hodes, Art, Hot Man, pg. 57.

[7] Roseman, Milton, “Just a Hot Man Playing for Kicks,” PM, February 2, 1943, pg. 19.


Degrees of Discovery: The History of Science at Florida State

FSU_HPUA_2016003_B7_F2_005The Florida State University Heritage Museum exhibit Degrees of Discovery examines the history of science at Florida State, tracking the school’s development from early educational institution to twenty-first century research facility. Since the late nineteenth century, science has served as a fundamental aspect of education at Florida State University and its predecessors. After World War II, a surplus of wartime laboratory equipment and veterans allowed FSU to meet the increasing demand for science education across the country. Early programs focusing on physical sciences laid the groundwork for the development of advanced courses in a variety of fields, including meteorology, oceanography, chemistry, and physics. The creation of innovative research facilities offered new avenues for interdisciplinary collaboration and continues to encourage scientists from around the world to take advantage of the advanced technologies offered on and around the Tallahassee campus.

The process of creating this exhibit included extensive research into both the history of the University and scientific trends throughout the past century. Though Heritage Protocol & University Archives contains a wide array of scientific photographs from the 1950s and 60s, locating a variety of primary source material to tell a cohesive narrative was a challenge. In addition, as a literature student, my scientific knowledge was sorely lacking. In order to contextualize FSU’s developments, I interviewed faculty and current students involved in the sciences to gain a wider understanding of practice and principle. Research also involved reading transcripts of oral histories, scanning negatives from laboratory photo sessions, tracking the development of honor societies, and comparing a century’s worth of course catalogs to determine how science education changed over time.


Another challenge of working with such a broad subject was that relevant items were spread throughout the collections of both HPUA and Special Collections. A newsletter published by the 1973 Speleological Society was tucked away in the Archives, for example, while a postcard donated by two alumni offered an early look at the Science Hall. Perhaps one of the most interesting finds was a set of hand-crafted lab equipment from the 1960s; as part of a chemistry class, students were responsible for creating their own glass stirring rods and tube connectors. During this time period, glassblowers on campus would even create unique, made-to-order equipment for scientists who needed a particular shape or style of instrument.

The practical side of installing the exhibit, however, limited some of our object selections. Because we cannot regulate the natural light from the large, albeit beautiful, stained glass windows in the Heritage Museum, older photographs were digitally reproduced and mounted to avoid damaging the original items. Adhering images to foam board for support and cutting them down to size was more difficult than I anticipated – straight lines and I clearly don’t get along – but with the help of the Archives Assistant, the resulting photos offered an impressive visual timeline of the school’s scientific evolution. Curating this exhibit was an incredible learning process about creative design, museum principles, and even some scientific facts. Degrees of Discovery offers visitors a glimpse into the ever-changing world of science while reminding us that the basis of discovery – curiosity, inquiry, and creativity – will always be a part of human nature.

Degrees of Discovery: The History of Science at Florida State will be on display in the Heritage Museum in Dodd Hall beginning in mid-April. The museum is open Monday-Thursday, 11AM to 4PM. An online exhibit with additional content will follow.

World War II Victories in the Desert

News from the front, is how this 1941 meeting of the Town Hall Club and Cercle Français could be characterized. With World War Two raging, a representative of the Free French fighting in Africa has come to inform American audiences about that army’s progress. After a nervous welcome from Josephine Robb Ober, Society Editor for the New York World, toastmaster Paul Phelps-Morand starts off the proceedings by railing against a “stream of Vichy agents” who have been coming to United States in order to sway public opinion. He is pleased to present, in contrast, Dr. Raoul Aglion, a representative of the French government in exile, whose talk is optimistically titled Victories in the Desert.

Dr. Aglion describes how he was fighting with French forces in Syria when the infamous armistice agreement between France and Nazi Germany was signed. He and many other soldiers immediately made their way to Egypt, offering their services to the British. He then speaks more generally of “desertions” that followed, including an anecdote about French soldiers smuggling cup after cup of gasoline past guards so as to fill the tank of a nearby airplane which they then used to cross the border into British-controlled Palestine. He describes the earliest beginnings of what later became the organized Free French Forces. He then launches into an admiring description of the tactics employed in North Africa by Field Marshal Wavell. Straying somewhat from the main thrust of his remarks, he recounts the gaffe he made in referring to the language of Malta as a dialect of Italian. He was reprimanded by a native speaker of that island who informed him that Maltese is, in fact, Phoenician. At this point, unfortunately, the recording breaks off.

Raul Aglion (d. 2004) was a lawyer and politician before the war. As the Los Angeles Times relates in its obituary:

…Aglion served as a delegate of Gen. Charles de Gaulle in the United States, where he represented the Free French government in exile. After the war, he was appointed to the French Embassy in Washington and, working with the U.S. secretary of state and others, helped coordinate postwar planning. He also participated in drafting the charter of the United Nations, and he addressed the closing session of the U.N. General Assembly in 1945 in the name of France.

Afterwards, Aglion wrote several books on the Free French. His study of the relationship between Roosevelt and de Gaulle was awarded the History Prize by the Academie Française. 

Paul Phelps-Morand is remembered today for his controversial book The Effects of His Political Life on John Milton, in which, as quoted by Milton scholar Robert Thomas Fallon, he concluded, “Though not Machiavellian in character, he could, on occasion, for the Great Cause, stoop to Machiavellian means.”

Perhaps, disparate though these men’s writings may be, we can discern a way of dealing with what must have been, for each, the central historical event of his life.

…Maltese is, in fact, a Semitic language, related to Arabic, and may indeed have come to the island, via Sicily, from Phoenicia. 


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection.

WNYC archives id: 150203
Municipal archives id: LT5700

Ready for its Closeup: The J.R. Clancy Collection

On many personal notes, this collection is cool. One, I was a theater nerd in high school and I’ll be honest, I never gave much thought to the stage rigging. This collection is changing things. Two, J.R. Clancy calls my hometown its hometown. So, I’ve enjoyed getting to work with this collection which is a very good thing because we’ll be working with it in the Digital Library Center (DLC) for a long time into the foreseeable future.

Details for Rear Wall Storage, J.R. Clancy Collection
Details for Rear Wall Storage, J.R. Clancy Collection

The J.R. Clancy stage rigging firm was established by stagehand John Clancy in Syracuse, New York, in 1885. The firm is known for innovating products and techniques for stage design including the Welch tension floor block, the automatic fire curtain, and automated stage rigging. The collection itself includes architectural and engineering drawings related to construction and renovation projects managed by the firm, including theatrical designs, drawings for standard parts, wiring diagrams, and standard assemblies for stage rigging systems. You can see the finding aid for the collection in Archon.

The collection here at Florida State University was acquired through the School of Theatre several years ago with the idea that the collection would be digitized in its entirety in the future. Due to the nature of materials, and the scope of the collection (numbering in the the tens of thousands of drawings!), we’ve been doing some major planning and thinking through the digitization project. The collection itself is still in processing which adds another challenge on top of the volume of it. So, for the moment, the collection is being digitized by patron request through the Clancy firm. The first batch of materials is now available online through this process. This set of drawings are for rigging components for the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada which is getting ready for a renovation project and wanted the original rigging plans for their upcoming work.

As we add more to this collection, we’ll be sure to highlight it here on the blog. In the meantime, the collection does have a finding aid and is available upon request in the Special Collections Research Center Reading Room.

Claude Pepper Library Presents Gov. Reubin O’Donovan Askew Papers

The Claude Pepper Library highlights the life and legacy of Reubin O’Donovan Askew.

Reubin Askew
Newspaper Clipping of Reubin Askew arriving at the Capitol Building, Claude Pepper Library Collection, Box 13, Folder 1

Reubin Askew was an American politician, who served as the 37th governor of the State of Florida from 1971-1979. During his administration, he became a tenacious advocate of tax reform, consumer protection, financial transparency, education financing, and civil rights. Most importantly, throughout Askew’s career he maintained an impeccable reputation for his integrity and loyalty to his family and all Floridians.

Reubin O. Askew, was born on September 11, 1928 in Muskogee, Oklahoma. In 1937, he and his mother moved to Pensacola, where Reubin graduated from Pensacola High School in 1946.  Later in 1946, he entered the United States Army as a paratrooper and was discharged as a Sergeant. Askew then attended college at Florida State University where he received a B.S. in Public Administration before joining the United States Air Force in 1951. Askew also served as president of FSU’s Government Association and student body president during his years at FSU. In 1951-2 he received his Masters’ degree in Public Administration from the University of Denver and Florida State University. In 1956, he received his LLB from the University of Florida. Over the course of his lifetime, Askew was granted 15 Honorary Degrees from multiple institutions.

Askew’s public official career began when he served as Assistant County Solicitor for Escambia County from 1956-1958. In 1958, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives and then to the State Senate in 1962. During his tenure in the State Senate, he served as President Pro Tempore from 1969-1970. Askew was elected Governor in 1970 and again in 1974, making him the first Governor to be elected for a second, consecutive 4-year term.

Claude Pepper Library, Reubin Askew Collection

After retiring as Governor in early 1979, Askew joined the Miami law firm of Greenberg, Traurig, Askew, Hoffman, Lipoff, Rosen and Quentell. In October of 1979, he was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary as a United States Trade Representative. In 1984, Askew became the first Floridian to run for President of the United States and in 1987 he announced his candidacy for United States Senate.

Following his political campaign activities, he and his wife, Donna Lou Askew, resided in Tallahassee, Florida, where Askew served as the Professor and Eminent Scholar Chair in Florida Government and Politics.

If you are a student or researcher, who needs primary resources on Reubin O. Askew, please feel free to come by the Claude Pepper Library to view the collection in its entirety. The collection consist of congressional correspondence during the time he served in the House of Representatives, Florida State Senate, and as Governor of Florida. The Pepper Library also has Askew’s campaign files, newspaper articles, photographs, audiovisual materials, memorabilia, and copies of speeches. A finding aid for the collection can be viewed online. The collection was donated by Reubin O’Donovan Askew in 2008.

Is Pornography a Threat to Today’s Moral Climate?

Is Pornography a Threat to Today’s Moral Climate? is the question addressed in this 1967 panel discussion. Moderator Harry Lipsig is joined by Assistant District Attorney Elliott Golden, Neil Fabricant, Legislative Director of the ACLU, and James McGuinness, a representative of the anti-pornography group Operation Yorkville. McGuinness outlines his group’s campaign against local “smut dealers” who are corrupting today’s youth. Golden, while faintly endorsing Operation Yorkville’s actions, cautions that the DA’s office is not a censor, just enforcing the law. The ACLU’s Fabricant, noting that Operation Yorkville considers his organization “Public Enemy #1,” argues for “free expression” and questions why there are only lawyers on the panel, no psychologists or psychiatrists. McGuinness’s focus is on the vulnerability of children and their susceptibility to the “deviant” practices advocated in these magazines. Fabricant feels it’s up to the parents, not the state, to protect their children. Lipsig seems determined to bring the conversation around to miniskirts, should their length be regulated? When that fails to elicit much comment (other than one panelist smirking it would depend on the size and shape of the woman in question), he points out that Roman frescoes at Pompeii depict bacchanalian orgies. Should they be suppressed? McGuinness ripostes that the viewers of those frescoes got their comeuppance via the lava of Mount Vesuvius. He then lumps lesbianism with sadism and masochism. The conversation goes from the absurd to the surreal when the four start discussing one of Charlotte Morman’s avant-garde cello performances, speculating if her playing a bowed instrument topless had any relation to the myth of Amazons cutting off one breast to better draw the bow of their weapon in combat. It is, Golden of the DA’s office confesses, “beyond my musical imagination.”

Today’s audience-driven talk radio may have a lot wrong with it but one can hear in this well-intentioned bit of buffoonery what it is reacting against: a bunch of self-appointed experts, all of the same gender, race, and class, chummily debating what is “right” for the society as a whole.

Harry Lipsig (1902-1995) was a well-known attorney, though pornography and freedom of speech issues were not his specialty. Rather, he was valued for his ability to gain large settlements for accident victims. As the New York Times recounted:

In a career that spanned six decades, Mr. Lipsig became famous for his heart-wrenching courtroom depictions of the plight of accident victims and the huge jury awards his eloquence often elicited. The total amount of the awards he won is not known, partly because many of them were sealed out-of-court settlements agreed to by rival lawyers eager to avoid the open-ended uncertainty of a Lipsig-coaxed jury verdict. As they knew, once Mr. Lipsig got wound up and started vividly describing the years, even decades, of hour-by-hour agony and day-by-day suffering faced by his clients, there was no telling how unhinged a jury might become.

Elliott Golden (1926 – 2008) went on to become Judge of the Civil Court in 1976 and then a Justice of the Supreme Court in Kings County, NY. He served on the bench until 1999.

According to the website Hacks and Flacks, Neil Fabricant:

…was the New York Civil Liberties Union legislative director, chief counsel to New York’s Environmental Protection Administration, special counsel to a New York state senate majority leader,  a  member of the graduate faculty of the business school at  Baruch College, City University of New York, where he also directed a legislative policy institute and was the editor-in-chief of a monthly magazine on New York government and politics begun by the Ford Foundation. In 1987, together with a small team of faculty and consultants, he organized The Graduate School of Political Management as an independent, degree-granting institution. In 1995, George Washington University acquired the school and he retired as president emeritus.

The Yorkville Project was founded by Father Morton A. Hill (1917-1985.) James Sullivan, in his book Seven Dirty Words, The Life and Crimes of George Carlin, tells how Hill:

…a Jesuit priest with snow-white hair…spearheaded an effort to found a local anti-pornography campaign. Then known as Operation Yorkville, Hill’s group was created as an interfaith coalition, including as rabbi and a Lutheran minister. By 1967 the neighborhood group had grown into a national organization, renamed Morality in Media.

In 2015 the group changed its name again, to The National Center on Sexual Exploitation.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection.

WNYC archives id: 8714
Municipal archives id: T2094

Commemorating the Great War

April 6, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I. As the largest repository of American World War I records, the National Archives holds a wealth of content and information documenting the U.S. experience in this conflict, including photographs, documents, audiovisual recordings, educational resources, articles, blog posts, lectures, and exhibits.

In commemoration of this event, we’ve launched a World War I research portal with the goal of creating a central space for all National Archives resources and content related to World War I for use by researchers, students and educators, and those curious about the War.

Here you will find World War I records organized by subject and topic area, including newly digitized photographs and films, references, subject guides and finding aids. Throughout the portal you can find links to more information such as articles, blog posts, genealogy resources and online exhibits from the National Archives and Presidential Libraries.

Learn more about the news, events, and exhibits happening at the National Archives related to World War I, and browse our interactive timeline of World War I events.

Educators can find World War I documents and lesson plans using our DocsTeach tool, and we invite you to engage with our extensive collection of World War I moving and still images using our Remembering WWI app.

The app allows people nationwide to contribute their own stories and play a part in the centennial commemoration of the First World War. Building on an amazing moving image and photographic archive being digitized and preserved as part of a larger Wartime Films Project, the app features thousands of rarely seen public domain images and films to encourage discovery and creative reuse.

The National Archives is leading this national collaborative effort with participation from the Library of Congress and National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, the WWI Centennial Commission, the American Association for State and Local History, and the National WWI Museum and Memorial. This mobile app project was made possible through a generous gift from an anonymous donor.

Would you like to help make records more discoverable? We’ve created special tagging and transcription missions and challenges using World War I content for our citizen archivists.

While many resources are available online for research, there are many more records to discover in National Archives research rooms across the country. We will be updating our research portal as new resources become available online. You can also consult our Catalog to browse more records, and contact the Reference Unit listed in each description for more information.

From April 4 through May 3, 2017, the National Archives is commemorating the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I with a featured document display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building. Learn more about the U.S. entry into World War I on our Prologue blog. 

Musicians’ Union Archive: graduate trainee post

‘Musical roots’: Creating a guide to family history resources in the MU Archive

The University of Stirling Archives is delighted to introduce a new graduate trainee programme supported by the Musicians’ Union which will provide hands-on experience working with the union’s extensive archive, improving access to this unique research resource. This three year project will provide an annual paid archive trainee post, each placement lasting eight weeks and including a stipend of £3,000.

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).

This year’s archive trainee will open up resources for family historians contained within the union’s records. The Musicians’ Union Archive contains a huge amount of historical information on its members. This material is of great interest to people researching their family history. However these records are scattered throughout the collection with the information being of varying detail and quality. The post holder will carry out a survey of the Archive, identifying material of genealogical interest, and create a guide to the family history resources available.

The timing of the eight week placement is flexible but we expect it to be completed before the end of July 2017.

Application information:

Please send a CV and supporting statement detailing why you are interested in the post and how it would benefit your future career to, marking your email MU Trainee 2017.

Closing date for applications is Friday 21 April 2017

Interviews will be held on Friday 28 April 2017

For further information please contact the University Archivist, Karl Magee at 01786 466619 /

The Musicians’ Union Archive provides a unique perspective on the cultural history of Britain over the last 130 years through the experiences and struggles of the musicians and performers who entertained a nation.

Digital Windover

Detail from Field Notebook at Windover, 1985
Detail from Field Notebook at Windover, 1985

In 1982, a construction crew started what was supposed to be a routine de-mucking of a small pond in preparation for road construction of Windover Way. It is located in east central Florida, about 16 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. However, in the course of the construction work, human remains were discovered. Once it was determined they were not of forensic interest, the construction company contacted Florida State University anthropology faculty to create a research proposal for the landowners.

What followed was three field seasons at Windover from 1984-86 that uncovered the remains of 168 individuals as well as other culturally significant objects from a mortuary pond dated from between 6000-5000 BC. Because of the peat and small pond nature of the site, not only skeletal material but also normally perishable organic artifacts were also discovered. Perhaps most interestingly, enough brain matter was recovered from some skulls to conduct DNA sequencing on the remains.

A partnership with the Department of Anthropology is bringing data from the Windover digs to DigiNole. We have loaded the first batch of materials which includes field notes and excavation forms from the digs. More field notes and forms will follow shortly. We’ve also working with Digital Support Services at the University of Florida to digitize x-rays of the bones found at Windover. Maps and digitized slides from the seasons will come at a later date as well.

The DLC has been excited to work on this project as it lets us continue to develop models for these sorts of “split” projects where digitization is happening both in the Department of Anthropology and the DLC, allowing each group to work in their area of expertise as well as splitting the work to move forward in a more efficient way.

For more information about the Windover site and the work done there, see Doran, G. H., & Thomas, G. P. (2015). Windover: an overview. Tagungen des landesmuseums fur vorgeschichte halle, 13, 1-19. To see the digital collection, visit DigiNole.

Spring in Special Collections

It’s finally been feeling like spring in Rhode Island this week, which has everyone feverishly thinking about crocuses and tulips, budding trees, mud puddles, and every other seasonal motif one can list.

For instance, we’ve been dreaming about soft, fuzzy chicks…


Novellus Libellus institutionum pro tyronibus. Cologne: Thomas Odendall, 1742.

And loveable, huggable bunnies.


Conference program, New England Convention of Magicians. Boston: NECM, 1947.

Phew! Yikes! Happy spring!

Hygiene and Physical Education


The class of 1877 in Barrett Gymnasium in their class uniforms holding dumbells, February 1875. In physical education classes at this time, students stood in formation and executed synchronized calisthenic routines in time to live piano music.

Archives and Special Collections is pleased to announce the newly available Department of Hygiene and Physical Education Records. This collection documents Amherst’s groundbreaking Physical Education program from its early development in 1861 to the 1930s.

Amherst’s Hygiene and Physical Education department was the first of its kind in the nation. Interest in organized exercise had been growing for decades, along with concern about the perceived ill health of college students, who were presumed to spend all their time hunched over their books. Following the deaths of two Amherst students in 1855, President Stearns began advocating for a formal department of physical education to improve the strength and stamina of the student body. This department was approved by the Trustees in 1860 and, following a brief stint by John Hooker, Edward Hitchcock, Jr. (son of the former president and graduate of the class of 1849) was appointed professor of Hygiene and Physical Education in 1861.

Cover of the program for an "exhibition in light and heavy gymnastics" held in Barrett Gymnasium on July 9, 1872

Hitchcock developed a system (later known as the “Amherst Plan”) of mandatory group calisthenics (known as light gymnastics) four days a week for all students, along with voluntary strength training (heavy gymnastics), classes in anatomy and healthy living (“hygiene” courses), and extensive measurements of all students taken throughout their college careers. These measurements were used to demonstrate the progress made by individual students and to prove the efficacy of the program as a whole.

Page of a record volume showing the compiled physical measurements for the class of 1885

Hitchcock’s passion was for the application of scientific methods to the field of strength training and health building. Anthropometry is the study of the human body using detailed measurements; this field was developing when the Amherst program started and came into its heyday in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Hitchcock was a notable figure on the national stage, writing articles and presenting at conferences about the anthropometry program at Amherst.

Cover of the Anthropometric Manual of Amherst College, 1889

In addition to collecting measurements of individual students physical size and capacity, Hitchcock and his successors also recorded extensive health histories, and gathered statistics on a variety of topics like handedness, tobacco use, and eyesight. Most concerning, from a more modern perspective, they also gathered information on students’ national and ethnic backgrounds. The use of anthropometry for measuring and promoting physical health and development was a positive face of what eventually developed into the eugenics movement and this darker aspect can be seen in places throughout the collection.


Page of record book showing a table on "Users of Tobacco" from the classes of 1865 to 1886.
Letter from Charles Davenport from the Eugenics Record Office of the Carnegie Institution to Professor Paul Phillips, June 2, 1919

In the 1890s, additional faculty joined the department, but the format of the courses and philosophy of the department didn’t start changing for a couple more decades. Eventually the mandatory daily classes were dropped along with calisthenics and hygiene courses; the measurement of students ended in the 1940s. By the late 1940s, the Physical Education department more closely resembled its modern counterpart, with courses in team sports and a focus on athletic training and coaching. This collection covers the period to 1933, the year when the department changed its name to drop the “Hygiene”, this symbolic shift was chosen as a cut-off point for the collection. More recent Physical Education records are also available in Archives & Special Collections.

Booklet on using the equipment in Pratt Gymnasium

The records of the Hygiene and Physical Education department contain a wide variety of records, from syllabi for hygiene courses and record books showing gymnasium attendance to student measurements and annual reports presented to the Board of Trustees on the department’s activities. Of particular interest are more than a dozen volumes of bound memorabilia created by Professor Hitchcock to document the history of the department, many of the items in these volumes have Hitchcock’s notes on them. Hitchcock was an avid collector (or, less kindly, a real hoarder) and his collections of college history materials formed the foundation of the current College Archives.

These records are a rich resource in many areas: not just the history of physical education, but also student health and understandings of health, the development and promotion of the study of anthropometry, constructions of masculinity, muscular Christianity, and the student experience at Amherst in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


The interior of Pratt Gymnasium in 1885. Visible in this picture is gymnastic equipment, the piano for accompanying group classes and bleachers on the balcony for public exhibitions.

Gold Coast 2018 – One Year To Go!

Today marks the start of the countdown to Gold Coast 2018, with one year to go to the Games. This morning we visited the Scottish Government building at Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, where our Hosts and Champions exhibition is currently on display to celebrate the occasion. The event provided an opportunity to meet with the Active Scotland Legacy 2014 team who have been great supporters of our Hosts and Champions project, and legacy partners Street Soccer Scotland.

Celebrating #1YTG at Hosts and Champions exhibition, Scottish Government, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh.

With another Commonwealth Games on the horizon we’re delighted with the continued interest in our Hosts & Champions exhibition, which celebrates Scotland’s contribution to the competition, with a number of additional venues across Scotland confirmed for 2017 and 2018.  For further information check our project page and updates on Twitter using #HostsandChampions

Material collected during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Over the next twelve months we will also be collecting material relating to Team Scotland, preserving a record of Scotland’s participation in the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games and the 2018 Commonwealth Games. This material will be added to our Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive, which preserves over 80 years of Scottish sporting heritage.

Material from the Edinburgh 1970 Commonwealth Games held in the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive.

Eric Bentley

Theater critic, playwright, singer and editor Eric Bentley will turn 101 later this year. Throughout his long and distinguished career, he is perhaps best known as one of the preeminent experts on Bertolt Brecht. Bentley is also known for his works of criticism, as well as his scholarship and opposition to the House Un-American Activities Committee.

We’ve pulled two interviews with him from our collections.  The first (player above) was by Eleanor Fischer, who produced reports and documentaries for the CBC in the 1960s and opened NPR’s New York city bureau in the early 1970s.

In this 1967 interview they begin by discussing the banned East German singer and poet Karl Wolf Biermann and how Bentley came to meet him. He likens Biermann to Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and says he is among a new style of poets under 30 who sing their poems and circulate the text on mimeographed sheets.  Bentley suggests he is a rebel who has not broken with communism but seeks a newer and more libertarian type of communism akin to Rosa Luxembourg. Bentley suggests that the economic situation in East Germany has improved for workers but become more repressive for intellectuals, that, in fact, the East German state is far more Stalinist than anywhere else in the east. Still Bentley believes the regime is afraid of Biermann, which is why they want to silence him. He suggests the poet and singer is ‘a sleeping beauty, waiting for his kiss’ and that his silencing is only temporary. 

Fischer and Bentley talk about the need for international publicity that acts to protect artists who are under attack from the state. If the artist or activist is forgotten, then the leadership can do away with them. Bentley argues, however, that Biermann isn’t looking to be a hero of anti-communists. He is and remains a communist who supports anti-colonial wars of national liberation. Bentley describes Biermann’s style of music as reminding him of traditional cabaret and American folk music, and sometimes classical German lieder seeps through.

The discussion turns to how Bentley got involved with Brechtian scholarship and Brecht’s politics. Fischer wants to know how and why Brecht is now popular in the United States. Bentley suggests Brecht’s anti-war themes and the war in Vietnam and ‘drift of world politics’ are factors, as well as the current climate and appearance of political satire attacking President Johnson.  Bentley talks about Brecht’s communist sympathies and criticism from critic Martin Esslin and his disagreement with Esslin. The veteran critic believes Brecht’s irony, spirit, anarchism, cynicism, biting wit, and discontent all feed into Brecht’s current popularity. He ads that the portrayal of homosexuality is also a factor.  Bentley suggests that the more modest efforts at rendering Brecht’s work have been more successful than the more established productions.

The two discuss Brecht’s reconciling his pacifism and sympathies with communism. The discussion wraps up with Bentley’s plans for the future, including a political cabaret on the upper west side of Manhattan.


In a May 31, 2000 interview with Leonard Lopate, Eric Bentley talks about a recently published compilation of his theater criticism, What is Theatre? incorporating dramatic events and reviews he wrote between 1944 and 1967.




Introduction to Instruction

As the caretakers of Special Collections, staff work diligently to preserve the integrity of materials for future researchers. This includes reducing materials’ exposure to light and preventing fluctuations in temperature and humidity within carefully controlled environments. Interaction with collections usually occurs in the Reading Room to ensure these conditions can be regulated. Sometimes, though, materials leave the Special Collections vault in order to venture into the wider world. Class instruction sessions are a way to bring collections directly into the hands of students who might otherwise never know of their existence.

Dr. Craft’s Travel in the Ancient World class studying translations of ancient texts.

Recently I led an instruction session with the Manuscript Archivist for the course Travel in the Ancient World. The class was held in the Special Collections instruction room where students observed several types of ancient texts, including cuneiform tablets, papyrus fragments, and Greek and Latin ostraka. For many students, this was their first experience with Special Collections materials; as some of the oldest items in the library, the ancient texts arguably offered one of the more dramatic introductions to our holdings. The 2,000 year old papyrus fragments, for instance, were previously used as mummy cartonnage – layers of linen or papyrus covered in plaster as part of Ancient Egyptian funerary masks. Seeing these objects up close allowed students the chance to create tangible, meaningful connections to otherwise distant ideas.

When collaborating with professors about class visits, it’s often helpful to communicate in advance so Special Collections can provide the best supporting materials for the course. In this case, a course on travel meant we wanted to highlight letters and other mobile documents. Preparing for the session involved studying translations of the materials to cultivate a selection that would match this need while also representing the collection as a whole. Class sessions offer the Special Collections instructors just as much opportunity to learn about the collection as the students – and perhaps even more so. In an effort to prepare for any questions that arise, we study the stories and context of our materials as diligently as possible. That way, if a student wants to know how our cuneiform tablets compare to the Flood Tablet, or why some ostraka were written in Latin instead of Greek, we can provide the answer.

So while teaching assistants teach and research assistants research, graduate assistants get the best of both worlds. We not only learn more about our collections every day, but we then get to teach others about the incredible histories behind our objects, hopefully inspiring students to visit us again after class lets out.

R2 Docuo una interesante solución de software de Gestión Documental en la nube

R2 Docuo una interesante solución de software de Gestión Documental en la nube

Queremos hacer una mención en este post a la solución informática R2 Docuo, un software en la nube que integra funcionalidades de gestión documental muy interesantes. Desde nuestro punto de vista, una de las virtudes de R2 Docuo, es la capacidad de proveer de un sistema de gestión de documentación e información  a […]

Consultores Documentales

Averell Harriman Reflects on Russia

“Peace with Russia depends on us,” the former ambassador and governor declares in this talk on American-Soviet relations. Speaking at a 1959 Books and Authors Luncheon to promote his book Peace with Russia, Averell Harriman reflects on his recent visit to Russia and his meetings with Khrushchev.He attempts to explain the difference between the “new” Russia of Khrushchev and that of Stalin. While both leaders were committed to world revolution, Stalin relied on the failures of capitalism to stoke the flames of revolt, whereas Khrushchev now feels the visible successes of the Soviet economy will attract like-minded leaders to emulate the communist system. Stalin felt he was the equal of Lenin, a “creator of the religion.” Khrushchev, by contrast, is “a disciple,” well-versed in Marxist-Leninist ideology but not possessed by the same messianic fervor. Instead of the Terror, there is party discipline.

Harriman disagrees with the then-fashionable Powder Keg Myth, that the Soviet Union is so rotten and volatile that a single spark will lead to its collapse. On the contrary, this patrician millionaire, businessman, veteran diplomat, and politician, seems to have a very clear-eyed grudging respect for our adversary. He admits there are lots of “gripes,” particularly about housing, but admits that people are generally accepting of the regime. Because such a tight grip is maintained on education there is no radical student class. Though the people are “brainwashed” by incessant propaganda, it is up to the United States to deal with the USSR as an equal, not feed the frenzy of anti-communism by name-calling and needlessly aggressive acts. Throughout this speech, delivered in Harriman’s much mocked hesitating monotone, one feels he is not talking down to the audience but genuinely attempting to make his points. It’s an interesting counterpoint to the Red Scare hysteria which dominated so many headlines of the day. 

Averell Harriman (1891-1986) had a career in public service that appears almost unimaginable today. Heir to enormous wealth (his father was a railroad baron), Harriman was an indifferent student noted mostly for his polo prowess when he was swept up in the idealism of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. He worked his way through a series of increasingly high-level appointments in the Roosevelt administration, eventually becoming this country’s wartime ambassador to the Soviet Union. An important figure in the Truman administration as well, he is credited (or charged) with encouraging the Truman Doctrine of containment which contributed to the Cold War. When Eisenhower came into office, Harriman surprised many by showing political ambitions. In 1954, running as “Honest Ave,”  he was elected Governor of New York. His presidential ambitions were thwarted in both 1952 and 1956 when he lost the Democratic party nomination to Adlai Stevenson. He then returned to positions of diplomatic power under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, focusing on peace missions to Southeast Asia.

The New York Times, in its obituary, notes that:

Patience, persistence, resourcefulness, a grasp of detail and a shrewd sense of how to get things done were among the qualities that helped Mr. Harriman win his high government appointments in the administrations of four Democratic Presidents – Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson and Kennedy – and to get his work done, decade after decade, with a striking degree of success. He also benefited from much hard work and, notably as Ambassador in Moscow, from an independent-mindedness that was nourished by the awareness that he did not need his salary. As he put it: ”Fortunately, I’m not dependent on my job to eat and, therefore, have a certain independence. That is a great advantage.” And there was his sheer gusto: Neither age nor shifting political winds could wither the enthusiasm of William Averell Harriman for affairs of state. His lanky, somewhat stooped figure was present in the highest councils of the nation and the world for four decades, so long that to many Americans he was the country’s superdiplomat.

As noted above, Harriman does not sound like a politician, neither hectoring nor pleading with his listeners. He does not weasel or waffle like a career State Department employee, either. There is something endearingly uncharismatic about his public persona. Despite his fantastic wealth and fascination with power, which enabled him to “bond” with such disparate types as Churchill and Stalin, he seems to have inspired an almost universal loyalty in those who served under him. Thomas W. Wilson, the Information Officer during Harriman’s stint implementing the Marshall Plan, recalls:

I did know Harriman very well and worked with him several times. I don’t know anybody who worked with him, if they could work with him, who didn’t love him. He was a man who was absolutely totally committed to what he was doing. He worked like a dog. He expected you to also, but he didn’t expect you to do anything he didn’t do himself. He was really a wonderfully effective person. Everybody felt they had to respect him.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection.

WNYC archives id: 150521
Municipal archives id: LT8896

The Florida NOW Times: Looking Back at 20 years of Women’s History

Page from a 1976 NOW in Florida newsletter.

In 1966, a group of women, frustrated at the failure of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to recognize sex discrimination in the workplace and the failure of the conference they were attending to demand the EEOC do so, started what became the National Organization for Women (NOW). In 1971, Tallahassee gained its own NOW chapter, chartered through the national organization. Two years later in 1973, the Florida NOW state chapter was chartered to help coordinate the local chapters’ activities as well as to organize new chapters into formation. The state chapter’s records reside at the University of Florida.

As March is Women’s History Month, this week the Pepper Library is highlighting the National Organization for Women, Tallahassee Chapter records. The Tallahassee NOW papers contain official NOW correspondence, meeting minutes and agendas, reports, budgets, newsletters, and other records which chronicle the development and activities of Tallahassee NOW from its founding in 1971 until 1997. An excellent resource for studying the history of the Equal Rights Amendment in the state of Florida, the NOW material offers a firsthand glimpse into the organization’s efforts to empower and inform. This is particularly on point right now as last Wednesday, the Nevada State Legislature ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, which guarantees that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” NPR stated in an article on the ratification that the ERA “was first passed by Congress in 1972 and last approved by a state (Indiana) in 1977.” Florida has yet to ratify the ERA. The NOW records provide a look at the fight to do so in the 1970s.

Page from a 1991 NOW Florida Times newsletter.

Last fall,the staff of the FSU Digital Library digitized and made available online for researchers the Florida NOW Times (1974-1997). Within this statewide NOW publication, the history of the ERA and the activities of NOW chapters throughout the state can be followed over a twenty year period. Providing digital access to the newsletters was a challenge. Each newsletter needed to be reviewed to provide useful description for users to be able to browse and search these objects successfully. The DLC enlisted help from our Cataloging & Description colleagues to catalog the 211 newsletters that range from 1974 to 1997. These items cover the state chapter’s ERA fight, its yearly conferences, legislative and lobbying actions, and the many events sponsored to fight for the rights of women in Florida. You can see all the newsletters in the FSU Digital Library.

Architectural photographs: the Art Grice fonds

We have recently made descriptions and high-resolution scans available for the photographs in the Art Grice fonds. We have also made a selection of the images available on flickr. These are high-quality images created by a professional photographer and they document views and details of some buildings in Vancouver. All of the images in the fonds are signed prints and we have included the signatures.

Houses row near Hawks Avenue East Pender Street, looking south, 1972. Reference code AM1536-: CVA 70-77.

Arthur (Art) Grice was based in North Vancouver at the time he took these photographs. These images were created in 1972 and 1973, so some of the buildings no longer exist. The row of houses shown above is one example.

Below, you can see the Birks Building on the left and the Vancouver Block on the right. The Vancouver Block has a Birks sign on top.

Birks Building and Vancouver Block, 1973. Reference code AM1536-: CVA 70-11.

The Birks Building was demolished in 1974. The Vancouver Block still stands.

The Georgia Medical-Dental building was well known for its terra cotta nurses. Below is a view of the building showing one of them.

Georgia Medical-Dental Building, Nursing Sisters statue, 1973. Reference code AM1536-: CVA 70-28.

This building was demolished in 1989.

The fonds also contains photographs of details and interiors. Here are a couple of interior views of Century House from different years.

Century House, 432 Richards Street, interior staircase, 1973. Reference code AM1536-: CVA 70-34.

Century House, 432 Richards Street, interior entranceway, 1972. Reference code AM1536-: CVA 70-35.

Some of the images in the fonds are of ordinary neighbourhood buildings, such as this corner grocery.

Kong’s Corner Store and Handy Meats, Campbell Avenue and East Georgia Street, 1972. Reference code AM1536-: CVA 70-67.

We are grateful to Art Grice for donating the copyright for these images to the City of Vancouver. Art is still an active photographer and has a personal website.

The History of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women


The History of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women, Illustrated by As Many Engravings; Exhibiting Their Principal Eccentricities and Amusements (1820) was recently added to the John MacKay Shaw Collection of Childhood in Poetry. It was published in London by prominent children’s publisher John Harris as part of “Harris’s Cabinet of Amusement and Instruction.” These little books, “printed in a superior manner upon good paper,” sold for 1 shilling and 6 pence, which made them significantly pricier than other chapbooks on the market. There are three other titles from Harris’s Cabinet of Amusement and Instruction available in the Shaw Collection:

Barbara Tuchman Argues for “History as Literature”

“Is Gibbon necessarily less of an artist in words than Dickens?” historian Barbara Tuchman asks in this 1966 talk at a Book and Author Luncheon. Proposing that the creative process is the same for historians as for poets and novelists, Tuchman objects to her work being lumped with other “non-fiction.” “I don’t feel like a non-something.” The writing of history requires imagination and sympathy. Imagination “stretches the facts” to get the deeper truth out of them, while sympathy “is essential to the understanding of motive.” Conscious that she is regarded as a “popular historian,” she defends herself against the academic charge of being an amateur, quoting the famous British author G. M. Trevelyan who advised historians to “write for the wider public.” She then turns to the book she has just published, The Proud Tower, which traces the roots of World War I, attempting to show how its gestation and eventual transformation represent a series of artistic rather than purely technical considerations.

One could argue that Tuchman protests too much over what is finally a semantic distinction: “creative writing” versus “history.” But in 1966 these barriers seem to be more firmly in place than they are now. She ends her discussion with a reference to Truman Capote’s just published In Cold Blood, a book which decisively erased the line between non-fiction and fiction. Capote’s method, she claims, “is not so new as he thinks.” She compares it to that of Herodotus and Francis Parkman.

Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989) was, in the best sense of the phrase, a popular historian. She won the Pulitzer Prize twice. Her books were often featured on the Bestseller List. This achievement is all the more extraordinary when one considers the obstacles she had to overcome. As the New York Times noted in its obituary:

She had neither an academic title nor even a graduate degree. ”It’s what saved me,” she later said. ”If I had taken a doctoral degree, it would have stifled any writing capacity.” But to be a writer was difficult, she found, simply because she was a woman. ”If a man is a writer,” she once said, ”everybody tiptoes around past the locked door of the breadwinner. But if you’re an ordinary female housewife, people say, ‘This is just something Barbara wanted to do; it’s not professional.’ ”

Tuchman’s success can be attributed in part to her strong emphasis on narrative, which she defends in this talk, and to a lively, readable style that neither talks down to the reader nor patronizes by over-simplification. Naturally, these qualities got her into trouble with professional historians, who routinely pointed out shortcomings in her research and doubted her conclusions. But her aim was not academic approval. As the Jewish Women’s Archive pointed out:

…she preferred the literary approach. She was regarded by some as more of a summarist than an explorer of fresh sources, ideas, and methods. She was not a historian’s historian; she was a layperson’s historian who made the past interesting to millions of readers. Her prescription for writing was “the writer’s object is—or should be—to hold the reader’s attention.” She visited the battle sites involved in her histories to increase realistic detail. But she chided, “historians who stuff in every item of research they have found, every shoelace and telephone call of a biographical subject, are not doing the hard work of selecting and shaping a readable story.”

Perhaps a more valid objection to this kind of work is that by keeping its eye on the “wider public” it can lose its chronological objectivity and use history more as a lens through which to see our current time. This is a weakness Washington Post critic Jonathan Yardley noticed when he reread The Proud Tower in 2009.

Living in a state of considerable wealth and privilege, she was given to rather conventional limousine-liberal political and ideological convictions and occasionally to oracular pronouncements thereof. Though clear-eyed about the Anarchists in these pages, she waxes more than a trifle misty about the socialists. Though the full import of the U.S. presence in Vietnam was far from clear as this book was written, the chapter about American imperialism unquestionably was colored by present events. When she quotes Charles Eliot Norton of Harvard — “I have been too much of an idealist about America, had set my hopes too high, had formed too fair an image of what she might become. Never had a nation such an opportunity; she was the hope of the world. Never again will any nation have her chance to raise the standard of civilization” — his thoughts clearly are her own.

Of course all history is as much about when it was written as about the time it ostensibly portrays. But the popular historian, even one as conscientious as Tuchman, will inevitably be more buffeted by the storms of the present than the cloistered, tenured professor. Tuchman’s work has become contextualized within the literature of late 20’th century, becoming “history” itself.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection.

WNYC archives id: 71336
Municipal archives id: T1741-T1742

Rare photographs of 74 of Australia’s Last Convicts

Gerard Foley
Thursday, March 23, 2017 – 18:09

Are these prison photographs the final images of Australia’s last convicts?

Western Australia was the last of the Australian colonies to receive transported convicts, the final cohort arriving in Fremantle on the Hougoumont on 9 January 1868. In recent times there has been considerable research about the lives and fate of many of the Convicts transported to WA.

Photographs of the Convicts are rare, but recently long time genealogical researchers Lorraine Clarke and Cherie Strickland explored the State Archives Collection, WA’s largest archival collection which is preserved and made accessible by the State Records Office of Western Australia. There are thousands of prisoner photographs in the collection, but what was not known was how many of these photographs depicted those Convicts who were transported to WA between 1850 and 1868. In particular they examined a 19th century Convict Register (Cons1156/R23), Fremantle Prison Registers (Cons4173), and surviving Fremantle Prisoner photographs (Cons4286) for relevant photographs of the Convicts who came to WA. Their research has been very fruitful and 74 heretofore unidentified photographs of WA Convicts have been located. Lorraine and Cherie have produced a book called Australia’s Last Convicts which contains these photographs along with short biographies of each of the Convicts depicted.

Portraying inmates in Fremantle Prison, these photographs are essentially late 19th and early 20th century equivalents of ‘mugshots’. They depict those men – only men were transported to WA – who returned to the penal system after they had served their original sentences. Age has faded some of the photographs and other original images are quite small. A few are blurry revealing that the standard of photography was not always high. Some photographs are of men standing next to a mirror, so that one image provides both a ‘front on’ and ‘side on’ mugshot. The men are quite elderly and some photographs reveal difficult, hard lives.

Dating from the late 1880s until around 1910 the images are brought together and presented in this book revealing the final collection of images of the last transported Convicts in Australia. Citing where the original photographs can be located in the State Archives Collection, there is a page entry for each man photographed, the entries also summarises the information in the registers about the crimes committed, using original terminology. Quite a few of the men are recidivists who spent much of their lives in the prison system for mainly petty crimes. Others were gaoled for more serious offences. Several of the photographed men spent a considerable amount of time in the community as reformed individuals, but returned to prison for a criminal act that occurred many years later, a crime that was very different in nature to that which originally saw them transported to Australia.

Australia’s Last Convicts is available for purchase through the Friends of Battye Library  (Inc.). To purchase download and complete an order form. The cost is $20 and there is an extra charge of $15 postage and handling. All profits go to the Friends of Battye Library (Inc.), which supports the J.S Battye Library of West Australian History and the State Archives (now known as the State Records Office of Western Australia) through its aims and activities in assisting with the acquisition, preservation and use of archival and documentary materials.

The Jacquetta Hawkes Collection, Portugal, 1949.

Remember this box discovered during recent building works?

Today’s posting comes from undergraduate Dalva Gerberon, who has been investigating. Over to you, Dalva…

I undertook the study of the Jacquetta Hawkes collection for the Archives of the Oxford Institute of Archaeology in December 2016 as a part of my fieldwork as a second year undergraduate in Archaeology and Anthropology. It was particularly exciting to be given the responsibility of these items – the arrowheads are particularly impressive, both in their aspect and in their quality. Studying the collection required spending a lot of time observing the items one by one and analysing them, which forced me to see more about them that what I could them from just one glance; eventually it led me to note important and interesting details, such as fractures, retouches, or decorations. I definitely enjoyed getting to know these objets and working out their functions and roles in the life of the inhabitants of the site.

This collection of objects was given to Jacquetta Hawkes, during a visit to Portugal in 1949. It was presented to us in three different boxes, which we ordered from 1 to 3, starting counter-clockwise from the top. Box number 1 was a long box that contained 66 flints – flakes, blades, and arrowheads – ranging from medium-sized to very small. Box number 2 was a smaller, closed card box – item n°87 of this list. It contained 20 items, 15 of them arrowheads, while the other 5 were bone tools involved in the processing of fabric. Box number 3 was a long box that contained 4 cylindrical stone items and 9 roughly rectangular fired clay items, all of unknown purpose. In addition, in also contained a plastic bag and its 10 ceramic fragments of varying size and shape. In total, the collection has 110 items, plus one extra fragment that probably comes from another item of the collection.

The collection when I started studying it

Some of the objects of the first box, especially the few arrowheads, were roughly, if not poorly, executed, and display marks of imprecise knapping. More importantly, they appear to have been made from poor-quality stone; some items were made from the outer stone (cortex), and not from the core, which would be more solid, and better to work or knap. This leads to the possibility that these were practice pieces, given to children or learners as an exercise, not to produce items for use. On the other hand, the second box contained very fine arrowheads, most of them quite small and fine, which indicates that the site was also occupied by individuals who mastered stone toolmaking techniques and could produce high-quality tools and weapons, and retouch them to enhance them. The broader range of stones used indicates that they also knew which raw material to select to optimise the quality of their tool.

Box n°2 contained an exquisite set of arrowheads

The last box posed more of a problem in terms of interpreting and analysing its objects. The nature of the cylindrical objects was uncertain as we did not know what material they were made of. We concluded that they are fossilised plant stems, broken in several pieces. Their purpose is still unsure, but the traces of use-wear that can be seen on some of them would suggest that they could have been used for grinding. The fired clay items clearly appear to be loom-weights. They were held in place by strings that went through the holes that we can see at each of their corners – some of them were elongated by the pulling action. Most interestingly, the weights are decorated with engraved lines in varying patterns.

Some of the loom-weights were decorated

The last part of the collection was the 10 pottery fragments contained in the plastic bag found in box n°3. 5 of them were glazed ceramics that we identified as the typically Roman Samian ware. Four of them were shards of fired clay pottery, and the remaining one was a bit of plaster. All of these can be identified as belonging to the Roman period, while the rest of the collection belongs to the Chalcolithic period.

This information could be particularly helpful in identifying the site of origin of these items, as both the site and precise age of these items are still unknown to us. The presence of both Samian ware and Chalcolithic tools on the site strongly suggest that it was occupied from the Copper Age until the Roman occupation, at least. In that case, it means that we are probably looking for a relatively important site. We are still working on identifying the site and time periods, as well as confirming the function of some objects of box n°3, and should soon reach satisfying conclusions.

Many thanks for all your hard work recording, photographing, and researching this material, Dalva!




The Charles Drew House


The Charles Drew House in a previous form


It is always thrilling when a single location on campus can pull together from the archival record multiple threads of Amherst’s history. In preparing for Professor Mary Hicks’s Black Studies class in research methods, we discovered the history of the Charles Drew House, a history which incorporated material from five different collections: the Fraternities Collection, the Biographical Files, The Alfred S. Romer Papers, the Building and Grounds Collection, and the Charles Drew House Photo Albums.



A 1922 article from the Springfield Union on the completion of the Phi Kappa Psi renovations

The history of the Charles Drew House begins with the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity chapter at Amherst College. Founded in 1895, the fraternity first occupied a home on Amity Street in Amherst. It purchased and remodeled in the late 1910s the mansion owned by Julius Seelye, a former president of the College. The Springfield Union touted the home’s “choicest location” in town and the justification of “as pretentious a motive as the circular porch.”

In the midst of World War II, the fraternity came close to losing its home. Amherst College administration considered prohibiting fraternities on campus. Advocates, including many alumni, convinced the trustees to preserve fraternity life with the condition that certain reforms would be made. In 1946, the trustees of Amherst College announced that fraternities would be required to remove any clause in their constitutions that discriminated against pledges based on race, ethnicity, or religion.

This momentous change challenged the national attitudes toward inclusion in fraternities. This became evident when the Amherst chapter of Phi Kappa Psi pledged Thomas Gibbs, an African American freshman, in the spring of 1948. Gibbs was a member of the track team and a class officer. A fellow Phi Kappa Psi brother described him as “quiet but not shy, and all in all, an extra special sort of fellow.” Students and alumni alike were largely in support of Gibbs joining. The Fraternities Collection in the Amherst College archives provides evidence of community opinion. However, the national organization pressured the Amherst chapter into depledging Gibbs until the fraternity had had ample time to consider the affair. In the fall of 1948, the Amherst chapter polled Amherst alumni and the Phi Kappa Psi national community and moved forward with their plan to pledge Gibbs. The story garnered news interest and the national organization – bristling at Amherst’s perceived public defiance – pulled the Amherst chapter’s charter. The chapter pledged Thomas Gibbs and became a local fraternity: Phi Alpha Psi.


A letter sent by the Amherst chapter asking for the advice and support of its alumni.


The Phi Alpha Psi entry in the Olio of 1951, the year Thomas Gibbs graduated. In his time with the fraternity he was elected president.


This March 1948 letter written by a member of the pledging committee seeks Romer’s advice on Thomas Gibbs.






The chair of the Phi Alpha Psi corporation at the time was Alfred Sherwood Romer (AC 1917), the director of Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. His papers in the Amherst College archives contain correspondence between Romer, the Phi Kappa Psi brothers, and alumni. The correspondence demonstrates a variety of opinion on the matter. Romer wrote an article, “The Color Line in Fraternities,” which was published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1949. It garnered attention. A student in Illinois read the article in her “Social Problems class” and wrote to Romer in the early 1950s, curious as to the outcome. This prompted Romer to write a postscript to the article.




This exchange between Romer and Miss D. Frederick in 1951 shed further light on the Gibbs/Phi Alpha Psi story. Click on the images to view them in closer detail, and note the secretary’s shorthand on D. Frederick’s letter to Romer.



Drew’s (r) entry in the Amherst Olio from his fourth year, 1926

Charles Drew was born in Washington, D.C., in 1904. He attended Amherst College and graduated in 1926 – afterwards he received an M.D. and a C.M. from McGill University. Charles Drew was known for his pioneering research into blood banks and the use of blood plasma. During the early years of World War II he spearheaded the collection of blood plasma as part of the “Blood for Britain” program. He also was appointed director of the first American Red Cross Blood Bank. He served for many years on the faculty of the Howard University Medical School. Tragically, Drew’s life was cut short in an automobile accident while driving with colleagues to a conference at the Tuskegee Institute. Many organizations honored Charles Drew by putting his name on elementary schools, a medical university, and residence halls at both Howard University and Amherst College.



By the mid-1960s, Phi Alpha Psi (also known as Phi Psi) had withdrawn from the fraternity system and were known for their reputation as a counter-cultural institution on campus. In the 1970s Phi Psi pushed for the house to be named after Charles Drew but the organization was denied. For more information on Phi Psi visit Amherst Reacts, a digital humanities project put together by Amherst students in 2016.


In 1984 Amherst College banned fraternities, following the resolutions laid out in the  Final Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Campus Life. The houses were transformed into dormitories and were renamed after significant members of the college community. The unofficial Charles Drew House once again pushed for an official dedication and was granted such in 1987.

Today, the Charles Drew House sponsors “events that will celebrate the achievements of black people such as Charles Drew and explore the cultures of Africa and the Diaspora at large. This house was founded as a space where members of the Amherst community can engage in intellectual debate, social activities, artistic expression, and all other endeavors, which highlight Africa and the Diaspora and the accomplishments of its diverse peoples.” (see the full constitution here)

The Charles Drew House also lives in the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, where scrapbooks and photograph albums kept by the residents of the Charles Drew House from 1986 to 2010 are held.



First Protests at the Miss America Pageant

Eleanor Fischer produced the above report on September 8, 1968 in the wake of a tumultuous Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the coincident police riot against demonstrators. Fischer references the DNC protest several times, covering all the bases: the protestors, the onlookers, the new Miss America, the new Black Miss America and the pageant’s chief representative. It was a time of ongoing cultural conflict, when both white and African-American women were struggling against the establishment as well as the male-dominated anti-war protest movement.

The pageant protest was organized by New York Radical Women, a group active in the civil rights, anti-war, and New Left movements. Garnering most of the attention at the event was the “Freedom Trash Can,” a bin in which protestors deposited false eyelashes, dish washing detergent, copies of women’s homemaker magazines and Playboy, high heels, curlers, wigs and girdles. They also threw bras into the bin. Although nothing was burned, a rumor spread that the underwear had gone up in flames and reporters promulgated the phrase “bra burners” to describe the protesters. It was no doubt seen by the meme makers as women adopting the, now iconic, image of male draft card and flag-burning anti-war demonstrators. They drew an audience of some six hundred largely unsympathetic men, a few of whom can be heard in Fischer’s report.

At her press conference, the new Miss America, Judith Anne Ford, a gymnast and trampoline champion, is noted for being “the first blonde to win the title in eleven years.” She indicated that if 18-year-old men are expected to fight and die for their country then they should have the vote. Ford also said it was okay for a “Negro” to be Miss America “as long as she’s the prettiest,” but not “just because she’s a Negro.”[1]

In contrast we hear from Saundra Williams, the first Miss Black America. She was described at the time as a 19-year-old from Philadelphia who wears her hair natural, “does African dances and helped lead a student strike at her college last spring.” Williams won over seven other competitors in a contest held four blocks from the long-running pageant as a protest to the all-white contest. She told reporters, “Miss America does not represent us because there has never been a black girl in the pageant. With my title, I can show black women that they too are beautiful.” [2]

The war in Vietnam along with the assassinations of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy combined with the evolving civil rights, student, black power and women’s movements set the context to 1968 event. With this in mind, Fischer’s closing is a bit disappointing. But to be fair, there’s nothing quite like hindsight for a clearer perspective on events which can sometimes be hard to fully fathom in the midst of historical moments. 


[1] Curtis, Charlotte, “Along With Miss America,” The New York Times, September 9, 1968, pg. 54.

[2] Klemesrud, Judy, “There’s Now Miss Black America,” The New York Times, September 9, 1968, pg. 54.

Special thanks to Elizabeth Starkey.

Exclusive Corporate Funding is provided by:


Ethical Culture Leader Algernon Black Confronts Bias and Bigotry

How can men live together on this earth? noted educator and social activist Algernon Black asks in this 1951 talk given at Cooper Union. Black, leader of The Society for Ethical Culture, starts by contrasting the ways in which we are alike and the ways in which we differ. His aim is to strike a balance between the two, based on mutual respect and understanding. Our bedrock similarities–our chromosomes, our bodies, our capacity for thought–are rooted in science, not spirituality. Yet we all possess different “rhythms,” both cultural and personal. He identifies seven levels of human relationship on an ascending scale starting at murderous intolerance, culminating in altruistic love, concluding with a plea that may sound clichéd today but perhaps did not over a half-century ago, “the need for unity with diversity.”

Turning to specifics, Black calls for desegregated schools which must, in turn, result from desegregated neighborhoods. He urges changes in curriculum, questioning why slavery is barely discussed in today’s History classes, which could in turn lead to a discussion of the day’s current race problems. Puerto Rican children should not be taught by teachers who do not speak Spanish. Teachers who teach in Harlem should know something about the community. Black is convinced that education can solve most of society’s ills. His own experiences have taught him that “man is infinitely more plastic than I ever thought.” He speaks at length about the Encampment for Citizenship program and its use of dramatic skits and role-playing as a way to confront the question of how one should respond to public displays of bigotry. He addresses anti-Semitism as well, noting that airlines and banks still do not hire Jews. While he applauds legislation to address these problems he still insists it is the responsibility of the individual who, if properly informed, will do the right thing. This belief that wisdom can be attained through the eradication of ignorance reaches its height during a question-and-answer period when he contends the A-bomb is only a threat because we have “bad human relations” with the Soviet Union.

Algernon Black (1900–1993) was a product of the belief system he came to represent. A child of immigrants, he was knocked unconscious by a public school assistant principal for a committing a minor infraction. His mother then applied for him to be granted a scholarship to the Ethical Culture School, which advocated a faith based on reason rather than God. Black, after attending Harvard, returned to the Ethical Culture and eventually took over the leadership of the society from its founder. As the New York Times notes in its obituary:

Upon the death of Dr. Adler in 1933, Mr. Black was among those most responsible for translating the movement’s message into programs to meet the crises of the Depression. And after World War II, he came to be viewed by many as emblematic of that spirit as he spoke out on social issues like equal housing opportunities or health conditions in Harlem… He headed or sat on numerous committees, panels and boards concerned with juvenile delinquency, racial discrimination and human rights.

As can he heard here, Black was a tireless speaker, hosting many talks on various radio stations. The range of his interests seems, in retrospect, remarkably prescient, addressing many problems that would only gain wider attention in the decades to come. The Ethical Culture website lists how:

…Black worked actively against discrimination in housing, chaired the Civilian Police Review Board, and participated in the Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy. In 1944, he founded the Encampment for Citizenship, a summer program for young adults with the purpose of encouraging political activism and volunteerism that sought to educate its participants about civic responsibility, participation in government, and tolerance of diversity. 

Indeed this last program, which he describes in detail during the talk, sounds like a model for many similar camps and organizations that sprang up in the 1960’s and continue to this day. The Encampment for Citizenship website speaks of how:

…Al Black was inspired by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), but thought those programs lacked diversity and didn’t explore the meaning of democracy enough for a lasting impact. The Encampment was founded on the core idea that young people can be a positive force in their communities if they develop critical thinking skills, youth activism, leadership qualities and the courage to break free from stereotypes. … The young men and women who took part in the first Encampment for Citizenship were from every part of the United States and from several other countries. White, Black, American Indian, Japanese-American and Mexican-American, North and South, Protestant, Catholic, Jew, farmer, office worker, factory worker, miner, veteran, student—all were represented. 


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection.

WNYC archives id: 150857
Municipal archives id: LT1379

Eric Zoro: WNYC’s Morning Man for 20+ Years

This piece was originally published in Wavelength, WNYC’s program guide in November, 1989 and followed a profile of NPR’s Bob Edwards.

To New York listeners, Morning Edition has always been synonymous with another name: Eric Zoro, who as news anchor has been putting together the local and state news in the predawn hours for more than a decade. This fall marks Eric’s 20th anniversary as “morning man” at WNYC.

Eric says his involvement with the news “just evolved. I’ve done everything here –traffic, weather reports, classical music.” Before he began doing the news on Morning Edition and working with WNYC’s news team, Eric was a one-man band. “I would do the morning news at 6am and then go over to City Hall, where I would tape interviews with city councilmen,” he says, adding that the current set-up suits him just fine: “Now that I’m in the studio all the time, I have more control over what I’m doing; I spend more time editing and rewriting. The news is better now because we’re able to devote more time to analysis.”

A “radio nut” since childhood, Eric got into the business shortly after he got out of the navy, when he happened to spot an advertisment for television workshops in the Yellow Pages. With the help of the GI bill, he got his first class radio license and spent several years down South working as a transmitter engineer. In Norfolk, Virginia, Eric started his own radio station literally “in a friend’s backyard.” Although the station “was an impressive hit with the listeners,” Eric had to sell out after a few years. In 1967, he came to New York, where he worked at several station “disc jockeying and doing the news” before coming to WNYC.

Eric says that his career in radio has not been without its risks. Among the mishaps that have occurred while he was on the air are an exploding microphone wire (“Thankfully someone on the other side of the studio window realized what was happening and took the helm”), a radiator that burst, and a nosebleed that obliterated his copy (“I talk my way through it: after a while you can almost repeat some stories verbatim off the top of your head”). Eric has literally put his life on the line: Once, while he was working on some wires at the Virginia station he owned, 3,000 volts passed through his body, throwing him to the floor. “Smoke was coming out of fingertips and I couldn’t talk…but I went back on the air that night.”

As news anchor, Eric says that toughest part of the job is the hours. Five days a week. Eric clocks into the WNYC newsroom at 4:30 after commuting in the dark from his home in Astoria, Queens.

Why does he do it? Partly it’s the love of radio: “The intimacy of radio is beautiful. To me, radio will always rank higher than television because no matter how powerful TV is, radio brings the message home. When you want to know what’s going on in the world or what the weather’s like, turn the radio on and in a few minutes, you’ll know. It’s a business everyone’s got their ear on.” Partly it’s the ambience of public radio: “It feels good to be giving information in a responsible way. We’re not gearing ourselves to 12- or 13-year-olds.” Most of all, says Eric, its the WNYC audience that makes his job truly rewarding. “Sometimes you think no one is listening when you’re on the air. But then, whenever I meet our listeners at fund-raisers, I’m amazed at their warmth and sincerity. They do listen. At WNYC, you connect with a real listener, not a statistic. That’s one of the tangible benefits I get from an intangible job.”


Eric Zoro left WNYC in 1991 and retired to Virginia Beach, Virginia. He passed away in 2004.

Listen here to Eric’s coverage of the Mets reception at City Hall in 1969 after they won the World Series.

Le Moniteur Update

Detail from the Front Page of Gazette Nationale ou Le Moniteur Universel, March 17, 1801

Le Moniteur Universel was a French newspaper founded in Paris under the title Gazette Nationale ou Le Moniteur Universel by Charles-Joseph Panckoucke. It was the main French newspaper during the French Revolution and was for a long time the official journal of the French government and at times a propaganda publication, especially under the Napoleonic regime. Le Moniteur had a large circulation in France and Europe, and also in America during the French Revolution.

We’ve been steadily working on digitizing the run of Le Moniteur that we hold here in Special Collections and Archives for about a year now (how time flies!). We’ve provided access to the publication through the end of 1808 in the FSU Digital Library. Our run of these papers starts with the founding of the newspaper in May of 1789. So, we’ve loaded 20 years worth of the publication or over 7300 issues! We still have quite a long way to go but we’re happy to be providing online access to a publication that supports scholarship here at FSU through the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution as well as beyond our campus.


New Book! ‘Ark of Civilization: Refugee Scholars and Oxford University 1930-1945’

We’re delighted that our edited volume Ark of Civilization: Refugee Scholars and Oxford University 1930-1945 which took up much of our time and energy last year is now OUT.

When we started researching the Jacobsthal archive at the Institute of Archaeology, we had the great pleasure of meeting a number of researchers who were also working on the histories and archives of other refugee scholars at Oxford. Coinciding with an exhibition on Jacobsthal at the Town Hall in Oxford in 2012, we held a workshop, hosted by Jas Elsner at Corpus Christi College in the (highly appropriate) Fraenkel room, named after refugee scholar Prof. Eduard Fraenkel (we later discovered Jacobsthal had been instrumental in arranging his move from Germany to Oxford).

As it turned out, the workshop was just the tip of the iceberg of uncovering history of the myriad of refugee scholars in the arts and humanities who passed through, engaged with, or eventually found refuge in Oxford.

The resulting volume is a step towards acknowledging the importance of Oxford’s role in rescuing, helping along, and sheltering refugees in the art and humanities, and the immense value they brought to Oxford in return. We were not aiming for an encyclopaedic tome on every scholar who passed through the city, though there is no doubt such a book needs to be written. Equally, there is a lack of knowledge on the history of women scholars, which will need addressing in future research. What we wanted to do through Ark of Civilization was to explore Oxford as an ‘ark of knowledge’ – a refuge, a meeting point, and a centre of thought in the arts and humanities. The contributors to the volume take up this theme, sometimes through individual refugee stories and sometimes looking at the University’s institutions, drawing on archives, oral histories and private collections.

There are important lessons to be learned by looking at the way in which a university and city – which had been, pre-war, essentially provincial, insular and self-contained (even by 1937 83% of Oxford Fellows had been undergraduates at the University) – adapted and transformed in the process of welcoming hundreds of refugee scholars and their families.

One strand that emerges is the importance of individuals on the British side, who worked incredibly hard to do the right thing against often overwhelming odds. These same individuals appear time and time again in the refugee stories, arranging money, papers, and even welcoming refugees to live with them. Their story is only alluded to, and will need looking at in much more detail.

Similarly, it was only by beginning to tell the refugee academic’s stories that we became aware of how much the university and city collectively owed and still owes them. This extraordinary group of Continental classicists, historians, artists, archaeologists, lawyers, philosophers, musicians, and philologists changed the university as transformative new ideas, courses, and institutions flooded in. This legacy still continues today.

A huge ‘thank you’ to all our contributors: Anthony Grenville, Laurence Brockliss, Philip Davies, Harold Mytum, Katharina Lorenz, David Gill, Christopher Stray, Oswyn Murray, Charmian Brinson, Marian Malet, Kate Lowe, Conrad Leyser, Fran Lloyd, Ann Rau Dawes, Rachel Dickson, Alexander Cullen, Bojan Bujic, Anna Teicher, Graham Whitaker, Anna Nyburg, and Rahel Feilchenfeldt.


Leighton Borrowers Project

Today’s blog post comes from Jill Dye, a second-year PhD student at Stirling on a SGSAH-funded Applied Research Collaboration with the University Dundee and the Library of Innerpeffray. Whilst her PhD research focuses on borrowers from the Library of Innerpeffray 1747-1854, Jill has been using the archives at Stirling to research the borrowers from the Leighton Library, Dunblane, as part of the Scottish Universities Research Collections Associate Scheme (SURCAS) Pilot.

How much can we know about ordinary individuals long since deceased? Any search usually starts with parish and census records via one of the many platforms of the thriving genealogy business. Before the first census in 1841, however, the only information you’re likely to find is birth, baptism, marriage and death. While the early censuses record addresses and occupations, such information does not give a particularly good insight into what they were like as an individual, only key places and dates. Any archive that allows us to see more than these simple facts and build a better picture of a person is therefore invaluable.


My research focuses on 18th and 19th century library borrower records, which are particularly rich in historic Perthshire. Whilst my PhD is centred on the borrower records from Innerpeffray, as part of a public outreach project I have recently been focusing on the region’s other incredible borrowing record, that of the Leighton Library at Dunblane, which is housed at the University of Stirling. Borrowing records usually give address and occupation information (far earlier than the census), but more importantly, they show how an individual interacts with the library and the types of books which they were interested in reading. These archives are invaluable not just to academics but to the family or local historian, and yet few know of their existence.

This project aims to highlight the usefulness of this resource to the wider public. The website created from the project explores the borrowings of selected Leighton Library users, using, where possible, local and family history sources to place the records of their borrowing into the wider context of their lives. These individuals range from well-known figures such as the writer John Ramsay of Ochtertyre, to a Minister from St Niniansa local Surgeon, and even a female visitor to the Dunblane Mineral Springs. In a forthcoming guest post on the website, fellow PhD Student Maxine Branagh-Miscampbell will be commenting on the borrowings of a local student. The site will also eventually include an index of names recorded in the register so that anyone researching local individuals can easily identify whether they appear in the record. The project will culminate in a display of material from the Leighton Archives followed by a short talk, free and open to the public, which will take place at the University Library on Tuesday 28 March. More details on the event are available here.

Click here for more information on accessing the Leighton Library collections at the University. For further details on the borrowers project visit

Jill Dye