Meet Ike

“I come from the very heart of America.” – Dwight Eisenhower, June 12, 1945

At a time when the world fought to overcome tyranny, he helped lead the course to victory as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. When our nation needed a leader, he upheld the torch of liberty as our 34th president. As a new memorial is unveiled, now is the time for us to meet Dwight David Eisenhower.

Photograph of the statues and sculptures at the Eisenhower Memorial. The statue depicts Eisenhower speaking to a group of soldiers giving the D-Day address to troops.
Eisenhower Memorial statue and sculptures, photo by the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission

An opportunity to get to know this man can be found at the newly unveiled Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, DC, and the all-new exhibits in the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas. Each site in its own way tells the story of a humble man who grew up in small-town America and became the leader of the free world.

The Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum is a 22-acre campus which includes several buildings where visitors can interact with the life of this president. Starting with the Boyhood Home, guests discover the early years of Eisenhower as he avidly read history books, played sports, and learned lessons of faith and leadership. The library building houses the documents of his administration. With more than 26 million pages and 350,000 images, researchers can explore the career of a 40+-year public servant. The 25,000 square feet of all-new exhibits located in the museum building is where visitors get to meet Ike and Mamie again…for the first time. Using NARA’s holdings, guests gain insight into the life and times of President Eisenhower. Finally, visitors can be reflective in the Place of Meditation where Eisenhower rests beside his first-born son, Doud, and his beloved wife Mamie. A true encapsulation of his life.

Photo of the Eisenhower Library Museum campus, showing a statue of Eisenhower in the middle of an emblem with the words "Champion of Peace."
Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Abilene, Kansas

The updated gallery spaces were opened in 2019. The exhibition includes many historic objects from our holdings which highlight Eisenhower’s career through the military years and into the White House. Showcased items include Ike’s West Point letterman’s sweater, the D-Day Planning Table, Soviet lunasphere, and letters related to the Crisis at Little Rock. Several new films and interactives have been added throughout the exhibit including a D-Day film using newly digitized footage from the archives.

Photograph showing the exhibit space inside the Eisenhower Library and Museum. The exhibit shows photos documenting Eisenhower's career.
Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Abilene, Kansas

In addition to facts and quotes, visitors will leave with an understanding of how his experiences made Ike the perfect candidate for Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe and the 34th President of the United States.

The Eisenhower Memorial, which opened to the public on September 18, is located at an important historical corridor in Washington, DC. The 4-acre urban memorial park is surrounded by four buildings housing institutions that were formed during the Eisenhower Administration and was designed by award-winning architect, Frank Gehry. In 2011, the National Archives hosted Frank Gehry and his collaborator, theater artist Robert Wilson in a discussion about the creation of the Eisenhower National Memorial. 

As part of the creative process, Gehry’s team visited the Eisenhower Presidential Library and drew inspiration from the campus. They also used the holdings of the Eisenhower Presidential Library to form the plans for the memorial itself. This also led to the development of online educational programs which will have a continued life through the Eisenhower Foundation. Visitors to both sites will learn lasting lessons from President Eisenhower’s life of public service.

Photograph showing the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, DC. Light reflects off the building.
Eisenhower Memorial, photo by the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission

The First Post 9/11 Phone-In: Richard Hake Sitting-in For Brian Lehrer

On September 18, 2001, The late Richard Hake sat-in for Brian Lehrer at Columbia University’s new studios at WKCR.  Just one week after the attack on the World Trade Center, WNYC was broadcasting on FM at reduced power from the Empire State Building and over WNYE (91.5 FM).

Richard spoke with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on airport security, author James Fallows on the airline industry, Robert Roach Jr. of the International Association of Machinists, and security expert and former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton as well as WNYC listeners.

Capturing Virtual FSU

When the world of FSU changed in March 2020, the website for FSU was used as one of the primary communication tools to let students, faculty, and staff know what was going on. New webpages created specifically to share information and news popped up all over and we had no idea how long those pages would exist (ah, the hopeful days of March) so Heritage & University Archives wanted to be sure to capture those pages quickly and often as they changed and morphed into new online resources for the FSU community.

Screenshot of a capture of the main FSU News feed regarding coronavirus. Captured March 13, 2020.

While FSU has had an Archive-It account for a while, we hadn’t fully implemented its use yet. Archive-It is a web archiving service that captures and preserves content on websites as well as allowing us to provide metadata and a public interface to viewing the collected webpages. COVID-19 fast-tracked me on figuring out Archive-It and how we could best use it to capture these unique webpages documenting FSU’s response to the pandemic. I worked to configure crawls of websites to capture the data we needed, set up a schedule that would be sufficient to capture changes but also not overwhelm our data allowance, and describe the sites being captured. It took me a few tries but we’ve successfully been capturing a set of COVID related FSU URLs since March.

One of the challenges of this work was some of the webpages had functionality that the web crawling just wouldn’t capture. This was due to some interactive widgets on pages or potentially some CSS choices the crawler didn’t like. I decided the content was the most important thing to capture in this case, more so than making sure the webpage looked exactly like the original. A good example of this is the International Programs Alerts page. We’re capturing this to track information about our study abroad programs but what Archive-It displays is quite different from the current site in terms of design. The content is all there though.

On the left is how Archive-It displays a capture of the International Programs Alerts page. On the right is how the site actually looks. While the content is the same, the formatting and design is not

As the pandemic dragged on and it became clear that Fall 2020 would be a unique semester, I added the online orientation site and the Fall 2020 site to my collection line-up. The Fall 2020 page, once used to track the re-opening plan recently morphed into the Stay Healthy FSU site where the community can look for current information and resources but also see the original re-opening document.

We’ll continue crawling and archiving these pages in our FSU Coronavirus Archive for future researchers until they are retired and the university community returns to “normal” operations – whatever that might look like when we get there!

Welcome to the New ClintonLibrary.Gov!

The National Archives’ Presidential Libraries and Museums preserve and provide access to the records of 14 presidential administrations. In support of this mission, we developed an ongoing program to modernize the technologies and designs that support the user experience of our Presidential Library websites. Through this program, we have updated the websites of the Hoover, Truman, Eisenhower and Nixon Presidential Libraries. 

Recently we launched an updated website for the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum. The website, which received more than 227,000 visitors over the past year, now improves access to the Clinton Presidential Library holdings by providing better performance, improving accessibility, and delivering a mobile-friendly experience. The updated website’s platform and design, based in the Drupal web content management framework, enables the Clinton Presidential Library staff to make increasing amounts of resources available online—especially while working remotely during the COVID-19 crisis.

To achieve this website redesign, staff from the National Archives’ Office of Innovation, with both web development and user experience expertise, collaborated with staff from the Clinton Presidential Library to define goals for the new website. Our user experience team first launched the project by interviewing staff of the Clinton Presidential Library to determine the necessary improvements for the updated website to facilitate their work. Next, the user experience team researched the Library’s customers—researchers, students, educators, and the general public—by analyzing user analytics, heatmaps, recordings of real users navigating the site, and top search referrals. Based on the data collected, the user experience team produced wireframes and moodboards that informed the final site design. The team also refined the website’s information architecture to improve the user experience and meet the Clinton Library staff’s needs. 

Throughout the project, the team used Agile project management development processes to deliver iterative changes focused on constant improvement. To be Agile, specific goals were outlined, defined, and distributed among team members for mutual agreement. Work on website designs and features was broken into development “sprints”—two-week periods to complete defined amounts of work. At the end of each development sprint, the resulting designs and features were demonstrated to the Clinton Presidential Library staff stakeholders for feedback which helped further refine the website.

The project to update the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum website was guided by the National Archives’ strategic goals—to Make Access Happen, Connect with Customers, Maximize NARA’s Value to the Nation, and Build our Future Through our People. By understanding the needs of the Clinton Library’s online users and staff, and leveraging the in-house expertise of our web development and user experience staff, the National Archives is providing an improved website experience for all visitors. Please visit the site, and let us know what you think!

The Road to Edinburgh (Part 2)

“Inevitably, official thoughts early turned to the time when Scotland would be granted the honour of acting as hosts. Thought was soon turned into action and resulted in Scotland pursuing the opportunity to be host to the Games more relentlessly than any other country has.”

From foreword to The Official History of the IXth Commonwealth Games (1970)

In our last blog post we left the campaigners working to bring the Commonwealth Games to Edinburgh reflecting on the loss of the 1966 Games to Kingston, Jamaica. The original plan of action sketched out by Willie Carmichael in 1957 had factored in a renewed campaign for 1970 if the initial approach to host the 1966 Games proved unsuccessful.

The choice of host cities for the Games were made at the bi-annual General Assemblies of the Commonwealth Games Federation. The campaign to choose the host for 1970 began at a meeting held in Tokyo in 1964 (to coincide with the Olympics), with the final vote taking place at the 1966 Kingston Games.

In 1964 the Edinburgh campaign presented a document to the Federation restating its desire to be host city for the Games in 1970. Entitled ‘Scotland Invites’ it laid out Scotland’s case:

“We are founder members of the Federation; we have taken part in each Games since the inception in 1930; and we are the only one of six countries who have taken part in every Games, who have not yet had the honour of celebrating the Games.”

From Scotland Invites, British Empire and Commonwealth Games Council for Scotland (1964)

Documents supporting Edinburgh’s bid to host the 1970 Commonwealth Games presented to meetings of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth Games Federation at Tokyo in 1964 and Kingston in 1966 (ref. WC/2/9/2)

Edinburgh faced a rival bid from Christchurch, New Zealand, the competition between the two cities recorded in a series of press cutting files collected by Willie Carmichael. Reports in the Scottish press presented Edinburgh as the favourites for 1970, with Christchurch using their bid as a rehearsal for a more serious campaign to host the 1974 competition. However, the New Zealanders rejected this assessment, arguing that it was the turn of a country in the Southern Hemisphere to host the Games.

The 1966 Games brought the final frantic round of lobbying and promotion for the rival bids as members of the Commonwealth Games Federation gathered in Kingston. The British Empire and Commonwealth Games Council for Scotland presented a bid document entitled ‘Scotland 1970’ which included detailed information on the venues and facilities to be provided for the competition along with a broader description of the city of Edinburgh.

Artists impression of the new Meadowbank athletics stadium, Edinburgh (ref. WC/2/9/2/12)

At the General Assembly of the Commonwealth Games Federation held in Kingston, Jamaica, on 7 August 1966 the vote took place to decide the host of the 1970 Games. Edinburgh was chosen as host city by 18 votes to 11.

The Edinburgh campaign team kept a souvenir of this important event. At the end of the meeting they collected together the evidence of their success and put it in an envelope marked ‘Ballot Cards – which recorded votes for Scotland at Kingston 1966.’ The voting cards and envelope now sit in an administrative file which forms part of the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive.

Voting card recording vote for Scotland to host the 1970 Commonwealth Games (ref. CG/2/9/1/2/7)

New Ancient Texts Research Guide

“What are the oldest books you have?” is a common question posed to Special Collections & Archives staff at Strozier Library. In fact, the oldest materials in the collection are not books at all but cuneiform tablets ranging in date from 2350 to 1788 BCE (4370-3808 years old). These cuneiform tablets, along with papyrus fragments and ostraka comprise the ancient texts collection in Special Collections & Archives.

In an effort to enhance remote research opportunities for students to engage with the oldest materials housed in Strozier Library, a research guide to Ancient Texts at FSU Libraries has been created by Special Collections & Archives staff.

Ancient Texts Research Guide

The Ancient Texts at FSU Libraries research guide provides links to finding aids with collections information, high-resolution photos of the objects in the digital library, and links to articles or books about the collections.

Research guides can be accessed through the tile, “Research Guides,” on the library’s main page. Special Collections & Archives currently has 11 research guides published that share information and resources on specific collections or subjects that can be accessed remotely.

While direct access to physical collections is unavailable at this time due to Covid-19, we hope to resume in-person research when it is safe to do so, and Special Collections & Archives is still available to assist you remotely with research and instruction. Please get in touch with us via email at: For a full list of our remote services, please visit our services page.

SSCI Members Embrace Need for Declassification Reform, Discuss PIDB Recommendations at Senate Hearing

The Board would like to thank Acting Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL), Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA), and members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) for their invitation to testify yesterday (September 9, 2020) at the open hearing on “Declassification Policy and Prospects for Reform.”   

At the hearing, PIDB Member John Tierney responded to questions from committee members about recommendations in the PIDB’s May 2020 Report to the President. He stressed the need for modernizing information security systems and the critical importance of sustained leadership through a senior-level Executive Agent (EA) to oversee and implement meaningful reform. In addition to Congressman Tierney, Greg Koch, the Acting Director of Information Management in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), testified in response to the SSCI’s concerns about the urgent need to improve how the Executive Branch classifies and declassifies national security information. Much of the discussion focused on the PIDB recommendation that the President designate the ODNI as the EA to coordinate the application of information technology, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, to modernize classification and declassification across the Executive Branch.

Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who is a member of the SSCI, joined the hearing to discuss the bill they are cosponsoring to modernize declassification. Their proposed “Declassification Reform Act of 2020aligns with the PIDB Report recommendations, including the recommendation to designate the ODNI as the EA for coordinating the required reforms. The Board would like to thank Senators Moran and Wyden for their continued support and attention to this crucial issue. Modernizing the classification and declassification system is important for our 21st century national security and it is important for transparency and our democracy.

Video of the entire hearing is available to view at the SSCI’s website, and from C-SPAN.  The transcript of prepared testimony submitted to the SSCI by Mr. Tierney is posted on the PIDB website.

Be Connected, Keep A Stir Diary

The new semester approaches and it’s going to be a bit different from what we’re used to here at the University of Stirling.

To help you with your mental health and wellbeing this semester, we’ve teamed up with the Chaplaincy to provide students new and returning with a diary where you can keep your thoughts and feelings, process your new environment, record your joys and capture what the University was like for you in this unprecedented time.

Diaries will be stationed at the Welcome Lounges from 12th September and we encourage students to take one for their personal use. Please be considerate of others and only take one diary each.

Inside each diary is a QR code which will take you to our project page where you can learn more about the project and where we will be creating an online resource for you to explore the amazing diaries that we keep in Archives and Special Collections. We will be updating this page throughout semester with information from the Archives and events for you to join. Keep an eye out for #StirDiary on social media for all the updates!

At the end of semester, you are able to donate your diary to the Archive where it will sit with the University’s institutional records and form a truthful and creative account of what student life was like in 2020. You absolutely don’t have to donate your diary if you don’t want to, the diary belongs to you and you can keep it, throw it away, donate it or anything else (wreck it?) as you like.

If you would like to take part in the project but you have missed the Welcome Lounges, don’t worry! Contact Rosie on or Janet on

Welcome to the University of Stirling – pick a colour!

PIDB Member John Tierney to Support Modernizing Classification and Declassification before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Tomorrow at 3:00 p.m., Live on C-SPAN

PIDB member John Tierney will testify at an open hearing on declassification policy and the prospects for reform, to be held by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) tomorrow, Wednesday, September 9, 2020, from 3:00-4:30 p.m. EST. The hearing will be shown on the SSCI’s website, and televised live on C-SPAN

SSCI members Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) have cosponsored the proposed “Declassification Reform Act of 2020,” which aligns with recommendations of the PIDB’s latest report to the President, A Vision for the Digital Age: Modernization of the U.S, National Security Classification and Declassification System (May 2020). In an Opinion-Editorial appearing today on the website Just Security, Senators Wyden and Moran present their case for legislative reform to address the challenges of outmoded systems for classification and declassification.

At the hearing tomorrow, Mr. Tierney will discuss how the PIDB recommendations present a vision for a uniform, integrated, and modernized security classification system that appropriately defends national security interests, instills confidence in the American people, and maintains sustainability in the digital environment. Mr. Greg Koch, Acting Director of the Information Management Office for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, will also testify at the hearing.

The PIDB welcomes the opportunity to speak before the SSCI and looks forward to discussing the need for reform with the Senators.

After the hearing, the PIDB will post a copy of Mr. Tierney’s prepared testimony on its website and on this blog.

Wiki loves monuments – digital skills and exploring stirling

Every year the Wikimedia Foundation runs Wiki Loves Monuments – the world’s largest photo competition. Throughout September there is a push to take good quality images of listed buildings and monuments and add them to Wiki Commons where they will be openly licensed and available for use across the world – they may end up featuring on Wikipedia pages, on Google, in research and presentations worldwide and will be entered into the UK competition where there are prizes to be had!

Below you’ll see a map covered in red and blue pins. These represent all of the listed buildings and monuments that are covered by the Wiki Loves Monuments competition, blue pins are places that already have a photograph and red pins have no photograph at all. The aim of the campaign is to turn as many red pins blue as possible, greatly enhancing the amazing bank of open knowledge across the Wikimedia platforms.

The University of Stirling sits within the black circle. The two big clusters of red pins on the map are Stirling and Bridge of Allan – right on your doorstep! We encourage you to explore your local area. Knowing your surroundings, finding hidden gems and learning about the history of the area will all help Stirling feel like home to you, whether you’re a first year or returning student.

Look at all those red dots!

Of course, this year we must be cautious and safe while taking part in this campaign and you should follow social distancing rules and all government coronavirus guidelines, such as wearing facemasks where appropriate, while you are out taking photographs. We encourage you to walk to locations you wish to photograph, or use the NextBikes which are situated on campus and in Stirling rather than take excessive public transport purely for the purposes of this project. Walking and cycling will help you to get a better sense of where everything is in relation to where you live and keeping active is beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.

Here are your NextBike points on campus where you can pick up a bike to use

We hope you’ll join us for this campaign – we have a session planned for 4-5pm on Thursday 17th September on Teams where we’ll tell you more about Wiki Loves Monuments and show you how to upload your images. Sign up to the session on Eventbrite.

If you cannot make our own University of Stirling session then Wikimedia UK have their own training session on the 21st September which you can join.

Please note that if you want your photographs to be considered for the competition prizes then they must be submitted before midnight on the 30th September. Photographs in general can be added at any time so you can carry on exploring for as long as you like!

Finally, just to add a little incentive, this year we’re having a friendly competition between the University of Stirling and the University of St Andrews students to see who can make the most edits so come along to a training session, pick up some brilliant digital skills and let’s paint the town green!

What’s the Tea?

Katie McCormick, Associate Dean

For this post, I interviewed Kate McCormick in order to get a better understanding of the dynamics of Special Collections & Archives. Katie is one of the Associate Deans and has been with SCA for about nine years now (here’s a video of Katie discussing some of our collections on C-SPAN in 2014!). As a vital part of the library, and our leader in Special Collections & Archives, I wanted to get her opinion on how the division has progressed thus far and how they plan to continue to do so in regards to diversity and inclusion. 

How would you describe FSU SCA when you first started?

“…People didn’t feel comfortable communicating [with each other]… There was one person who really wrote for the blog, and maybe it would happen once every couple of months. When I came on board, my general sense was that we were a department and a group of people with a lot of really great ideas and some fantastic materials, who had come a long way from where things has been, but who hadn’t gotten to a place to be able to organize to change more or to really work more as a team… We were definitely valued as (mostly) the fancy crown jewel group. Really all that mattered was the stuff… it didn’t matter what we were doing with it.”

How do you feel the lapse in communication affected diversity and inclusion?

“While I don’t have any direct evidence that it excluded people or helped create an environment that was exclusive, I do know that even with our staff at the time, there were times where it contributed to hostilities, frustrations, an  environment where people didn’t feel able to speak or be comfortable in…Everybody just wanted to be comfortable with the people who were just like them that it definitely created some potentially hostile environments. Looking back, I recognize what a poor job we did, as a workplace and a community truly being inclusive, and not just in ways that are immediately visible.”

How diverse was SCA when you started? 

“In Special Collections there was minimal diversity, certainly less than we have now… [For the libraries as a whole] as you go up in classification and pay, the diversity decreases. That was certainly true when I got here and that remains true.”

How would you rank SCA’s diversity and inclusion when you first started?

“…Squarely a 5, possibly in some arenas a 4. Not nothing, but I feel like no one was really thinking of it.”

And how would you describe it now?

“Maybe we’re approaching a 7, I feel like there’s been progress, but there’s still a long way to go in my opinion.”

What are some ways we can start addressing these issues? What are some tangible ways you are planning to enact?

“For me, some of the first places [is] forming the inclusive research services task force in Special Collections, pulling together a group to look at descriptive practices and applications, and what we’re doing with creating coordinated processing workflows. Putting these issues on the table from the beginning is really important… Right now because we’re primarily in an online environment, i think we have some time to negotiate and change our practices so when we are re-open to the public and people are physically coming in to the spaces, we have new forms, new trainings, people have gone through training that gives them a better sense of identity, communication, diversity.”

After my conversation with Katie, I feel optimistic about the direction we are heading in. Knowing how open Special Collections & Archives is about taking critique and trying to put it into action brought me comfort. I’m excited to see how these concerns are addressed and how the department will be putting Dynamic Inclusivity, one of Florida State University’s core values, at the forefront of their practice. I would like to give a big thank you to Katie McCormick for taking the time to do this post with me and for having these conversations!

friday art blog: Terry Frost

Black and Red on Blue
(Screenprint, A/P, 1968)

Born in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, in 1915, Terry Frost KBE RA did not become an artist until he was in his 30s. During World War II, he served in France, the Middle East and Greece, before joining the commandos. While in Crete in June 1941 he was captured and sent to various prisoner of war camps. As a prisoner at Stalag 383 in Bavaria, he met Adrian Heath who encouraged him to paint.

After the war he attended Camberwell School of Art and the St. Ives School of Art and painted his first abstract work in 1949. In 1951 he moved to Newlyn and worked as an assistant to the sculptor Barbara Hepworth. He was joined there by Roger Hilton, where they began a collaboration in collage and construction techniques. In 1960 he put on his first exhibition in the USA, in New York, and there he met many of the American abstract expressionists, including Marc Rothko who became a great friend.

Terry Frost’s career included teaching at the Bath Academy of Art, serving as Gregory Fellow at the University of Leeds, and also teaching at the Cyprus College of Art. He later became the artist in residence and Professor of Painting at the Department of Fine Art of the University of Reading.

Orange Dusk
(Lithograph, 2/75, 1970)

Frost was renowned for his use of the Cornish light, colour and shape. He became a leading exponent of abstract art and a recognised figure of the British art establishment. These two prints were purchased in the early days of the Art Collection at the beginning of the 1970s.

Terry Frost married Kathleen Clarke in 1945 and they had six children, two of whom became artists, (and another, Stephen Frost, a comedian). His grandson Luke Frost, also an artist, is shown here, speaking about his grandfather.

PIDB Sets Next Virtual Public Meeting for October 7, 2020

The Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) has scheduled its next virtual public meeting for Wednesday, October 7, 2020, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.  At the meeting, PIDB members will discuss their priorities for improving classification and declassification in the next 18 months. They will also introduce former Congressman Trey Gowdy, who was appointed on August 24, 2020, to a three-year term on the PIDB.

A full agenda, as well as information on how to pre-register, and how to submit questions and comments to the PIDB prior to the virtual meeting, will be posted soon to Transforming Classification.

The PIDB looks forward to your participation in continuing our public discussion of priorities for modernizing the classification system going forward.

Digital Collections Updates

So as we start a new academic year, we thought this would be a good time for an update on what we’ve been working on recently.

Digital collections migration:

After more than a year’s delay, the migration of our collections into a new and more user-friendly (and mobile-friendly) platform driven by the Islandora open-source content management system is in the home stretch. This has been a major undertaking and has given us the opportunity to reassess how our collections work. We hope to be live with the new platform in November. 30,000 items (over 380,000 digital images) have already been migrated.

2019-2020 Projects:

We’ve made significant progress on most of this year’s projects (see link for project descriptions), though many of these are currently not yet online pending our migration to the Islandora platform:

Grant-funded projects:

  • Temple Emanuel Project: We are working with the Public History department and a graduate student in that program. Several hundred items have already been digitized and more work is being done. We are also exploring grant options with the temple to digitize more material.
  • People Not Property: NC Slave Deeds Project: We are in the final year of this project funded by the National Archives and hope to have it online as part of the Digital Library on American Slavery late next year. We are also exploring additional funding options to continue this work.
  • Women Who Answered the Call: This project was funded by a CLIR Recordings at Risk grant. The fragile cassettes have been digitized and we are midway through the process of getting them online in the new platform.

Library-funded projects:

  • Poetas sin Fronteras: Poets Without Borders, the Scrapbooks of Dr. Ramiro Lagos: These items have been digitized and will go online when the new platform launches.
  • North Carolina Runaway Slaves Ads Project, Phase 2: Work continues on this ongoing project and over 5700 ads are now online. This second phase has involved both locating and digitizing/transcribing the ads, and we will soon triple the number of ads done in Phase One. We are also working on tighter integration of this project into the Digital Library on American Slavery.
  • PRIDE! of the Community: This ongoing project stemmed from an NEH grant two years ago and is growing to include numerous new oral history interviews and (just added) a project to digitize and display ads from LGBTQ+ bars and other businesses in the Triad during the 1980s and 1990s. We are also working with two Public History students on contextual and interpretive projects based on the digital collection.

Faculty-involved projects:

  • Black Lives Matter Collections: This is a community-based initiative to document the Black Lives Matter movement and recent demonstrations and artwork in the area. Faculty: Dr. Tara Green (African America and Diaspora Studies);  Stacey Krim, Erin Lawrimore, Dr. Rhonda Jones, David Gwynn (University Libraries).
  • Civil Rights Oral Histories: This has become multiple projects. We are working with several faculty members in the Media Studies department to make these transcribed interviews available online. November is the target. Faculty: Matt Barr, Jenida Chase, Hassan Pitts, and Michael Frierson (Media Studies); Richard Cox, Erin Lawrimore, David Gwynn (University Libraries).
  • Oral Contraceptive Ads: Working with a faculty member and a student on this project, which may be online by the end of the year. Faculty: Dr. Heather Adams (English); David Gwynn and Richard Cox (University Libraries).
  • Well-Crafted NC: Work is ongoing and we are in the second year of a UNCG P2 grant, working with a faculty member in eth Bryan School and a brewer based in Asheboro. Faculty: Erin Lawrimore, Richard Cox, David Gwynn (University Libraries), Dr. Erick Byrd (Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Hospitality, and Tourism)

New projects taken on during the pandemic:

  • City of Greensboro Scrapbooks: Huge collection of scrapbooks from the Greensboro Urban Development Department dating back to the 1940s. These items have been digitized and will go online when the new platform launches.
  • Negro Health Week Pamphlets: 1930s-1950s pamphlets published by the State of North Carolina. These items are currently being digitized and will go online when the new platform launches.
  • Clara Booth Byrd Collection: Manuscript collection. These items are currently being digitized and will go online when the new platform launches.
  • North Carolina Speaker Ban CollectionManuscript collection. These items are currently being digitized and will go online when the new platform launches.
  • Mary Dail Dixon Papers: Manuscript collection. These items are currently being digitized and will go online when the new platform launches.
  • Ruth Wade Hunter Collection: Manuscript collection. These items are currently being digitized and will go online when the new platform launches.

Projects on hold pending the pandemic:

  • Junior League of Greensboro: Much of this has already been digitized and will go online when the new platform launches.
  • UNCG Graduate School Bulletins: Much of this has already been digitized and will go online when the new platform launches. 

David Gwynn (Digitization Coordinator, me) offers kudos to Erica Rau and Kathy Howard (Digitization and Metadata Technicians); Callie Coward (Special Collections Cataloging & Digital Projects Library Technician); Charley Birkner (Technology Support Technician); and Dr. Brian Robinson (Fellow for Digital Curation and Scholarship) for their great work in very surreal circumstances over the past six months.

CORRECTION: Creative Fellowship Call for Proposals

We have an update to our last post! We’re still accepting proposals for our 2021 Creative Fellowship…

But we’ve decided to postpone both the Fellowship and our annual Exhibition & Program Series by six months due to the coronavirus. The annual exhibition will now open on October 1, 2021 (which is 13 months away, but we’re still hard at work planning!).

The new due date for Fellowship proposals is April 1, 2021. We’ve adjusted the timeline and due dates in the call for proposals accordingly.

On This Day in the Florida Flambeau, Friday, September 2, 1983

Today in 1983, a disgruntled reader sent in this letter to the editor of the Flambeau. In it, the reader describes the outcome of a trial and the potential effects that outcome will have on the City of Tallahassee.

Florida Flambeau, September 2, 1983

It is such a beautifully written letter that I still can’t tell whether or not it’s satire. Do you think the author is being serious or sarcastic? Leave a comment below telling us what you think!

Hartgrove, Meriwether, and Mattingly

The past few months have been a challenging time for archivists everywhere as we adjust to doing our work remotely. Fortunately, the materials available in Amherst College Digital Collections enable us to continue doing much of our work.

Back in February, I posted about five Black students from the 1870s and 1880s — Black Men of Amherst, 1877-1883 — and now we’re moving into the early 20th century. A small clue in The Olio has revealed another Black student that was not included in Harold Wade’s Black Men of Amherst. Robert Sinclair Hartgrove (AC 1905) was known to Wade, as was Robert Mattingly (AC 1906), but we did not know about Robert Henry Meriwether. These three appear to be the first Black students to attend Amherst in the twentieth century.

The text next to Hartgrove’s picture in the 1905 yearbook gives us a tiny glimpse into his time at Amherst. The same yearbook shows Hartgrove not just jollying the players, but playing second base for the Freshman baseball team during the 1902 season.

Freshman Baseball Team, 1902

Freshman Baseball Team, 1902

The reference to Meriwether sent me to the Amherst College Biographical Record, where I found Robert Henry Meriwether listed as a member of the Class of 1904. A little digging into the College Catalogs revealed that he belongs with the Class of 1905.

Hartgrove and Meriwether are both listed as members of the Freshman class in the 1901-02 catalog. The catalog also notes that they were both from Washington, DC and the Biographical Record indicates that they both prepped at Howard University before coming to Amherst. We find Meriwether’s name in the catalog for 1902-03, but he did not “pull through” as The Olio hopes Hartgrove will; Meriwether returned to Howard University where he earned his LLB in 1907. Hartgrove also became a lawyer, earning his JB from Boston University in 1908 and spending most of his career in Jersey City, NJ.

Mattingly was born in Louisville, KY in 1884 and prepped for Amherst at The M Street School in Washington, DC, which changed its name in 1916 to The Dunbar School. Matt Randolph (AC 2016) wrote “Remembering Dunbar: Amherst College and African-American Education in Washington, DC” for the book Amherst in the World, which includes more details of Mattingly’s life.

The Amherst College Archives and Special Collections reading room is closed to on-site researchers. However, many of our regular services are available remotely, with some modifications. Please read our Services during COVID-19 page for more information. Contact us at

Democratizing Access to our Records

The National Archives has a big, hairy audacious strategic goal to provide public access to 500 million digital copies of our records through our online Catalog by FY24. When we first announced this goal in 2010, we had less than a million digital copies in the Catalog and getting to 500 million sounded to some like a fairy tale.

The goal received a variety of reactions from people across the archival profession, our colleagues and our staff. Some were excited to work on the effort and wanted particular sets of records to be first in line to scan. Some laughed out loud at the sheer impossibility of it. Some were angry and said it was a waste of time and money. Others were fearful that digitizing the records could take their jobs away.

Graph showing the number of digital objects in the Catalog from 2010 to 2020. The graph shows an increasing line up to 100 million digital objects.

We moved ahead. Staff researched emerging technologies and tested them through pilots in order to increase our efficiency. We set up a room at our facilities in College Park to transfer our digital copies from individual hard drives to new technology from Amazon, known as snowballs.

Image of the "snowball fort" sign outside the room where digital copies were transferred from hard drives.

We worked on developing new partnership projects in order to get more records digitized. We streamlined the work in our internal digitization labs and we piloted digitization projects with staff in order to find new ways to get digital copies into the Catalog. By 2015, we had 10 million in the Catalog.

We persisted. In 2017, we added more digital objects, with their metadata, to the Catalog in a single year than we had for the preceding decade of the project. Late in 2019, we surpassed a major milestone by having more than 100 million digital copies of our records in the Catalog. And yes, it has strained our technology. The Catalog has developed growing pains, which we continue to monitor and mitigate.

We also created new finding aids that focus on digital copies of our records that are now available online: see our Record Group Explorer and our Presidential Library Explorer. So now, anyone with a smart phone or access to a computer with wifi, can view at least some of the permanent records of the U.S. Federal government without having to book a trip to Washington, D.C. or one of our other facilities around the country. The descriptions of over 95% of our records are also available through the Catalog, so even if you can’t see it immediately, you can know what records exist. And that is convenient for the millions of visitors we get each year to our website, even more so during the pandemic.

We are well on our way to 500 million digital copies in the Catalog by FY24. And yet, with over 13 billion pages of records in our holdings, we know, we have only just begun.

Lola Hayes and “Tone Pictures of the Negro in Music”

Lola Wilson Hayes (1906-2001) was a highly-regarded African-American mezzo-soprano, WNYC producer, and later, much sought after vocal teacher and coach. A Boston native, Hayes was a music graduate of Radcliffe College and studied voice with Frank Bibb at Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory. She taught briefly at a black vocational boarding school in New Jersey known as the ‘Tuskeegee of the north'[1] before embarking on a recital and show career which took her to Europe and around the United States. During World War II, she also made frequent appearances at the American Theatre Wing of the Stage Door Canteen of New York and entertained troops at USO clubs and hospitals.

Headline from The New York Age, August 12, 1944, pg. 10.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

Hayes also made time to produce a short but notable run of WNYC programs, which she hosted and performed on the home front. Her November and December 1943 broadcasts were part of a rotating half-hour time slot designated for known recitalists. She shared the late weekday afternoon slot with sopranos Marjorie Hamill, Pina La Corte, Jean Carlton, Elaine Malbin, and the Hungarian pianist Arpád Sándor. Hayes’ series, Tone Pictures of the Negro in Music, sought to highlight African-American composers and was frequently referred to as The Negro in Music.

The following outline of 1943 and 1944 broadcasts was pieced together from the WNYC Masterwork Bulletin program guide and period newspaper radio listings. Details on the 1943 programs are sparse. We know that Hayes’ last broadcast in 1943 featured the pianist William Duncan Allen (1906-1999) performing They Led My Lord Away by Roland Hayes and Good Lord Done Been Here by Hall Johnson, and a Porgy and Bess medley by George Gershwin.

Excerpt from “Behind the Mike,” November/December 1944, WNYC Masterwork Bulletin.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

The show was scheduled again in August 1944 as a 15-minute late Tuesday afternoon program and in November that year as a half-hour Wednesday evening broadcast. The August programs began with an interview of soprano Abbie Mitchell (1884-1960), the widow of composer and choral director Will Marion Cook (1869-1944). The composer and arranger Hall Johnson (1888-1970) was her studio guest the following week. The third Tuesday of the month featured pianist Jonathan Brice performing “songs of young contemporary Negro composers,” and the August shows concluded with selections from Porgy and Bess and Cameron Jones. The November broadcasts focused on the work of William Grant Still, “the art songs, spirituals and street cries” of William Lawrence, as well as the songs and spirituals of William Rhodes, lyric soprano Lillian Evanti, and baritone Harry T. Burleigh. Hayes also spent airtime on the work of neo-romantic composer and violinist Clarence Cameron White. The November 29th program considered “the musical setting of poems by Langston Hughes and reportedly included the bard himself. “Langston Hughes was guest of honor and punctuated his interview with a reading from his opera Troubled Island.”[2]

This was not the first time the poet’s work was the subject of Hayes’ broadcast. Below is a rare copy of her script from a program airing eight months earlier when she sat in for the regularly scheduled host, soprano Marjorie Hamill.

The script for Tone Pictures of the Negro in Music hosted by Lola Hayes on March 24, 1944.
(Image used with permission of Van Vecten Trust and courtesy of the Carl Van Vechten Papers Relating to African American Arts and Letters. James Weldon Johnson Collection in the Yale Collection in the Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)[3]

It is unfortunate, but it appears there are no recordings of Lola Hayes’ WNYC program. We can’t say if that’s because they weren’t recorded or, if they were, the lacquer discs have not survived. We do know that World War II-era transcription discs, in general, are less likely to have survived since most of them were cut on coated glass, rather than aluminum, to save vital metals for the war effort.

After the war, Hayes focused on voice teaching and coaching. Her students included well-known performers like Dorothy Rudd MooreHilda HarrisRaoul Abdul-RahimCarol Brice, Nadine Brewer, Elinor Harper, Lucia Hawkins, and Margaret Tynes. She was the first African-American president of the New York Singing Teachers Association (NYSTA), serving in that post from 1970-1972. In her later years, she devoted much of her time to the Lola Wilson Hayes Vocal Artists Award, which gave substantial financial aid to young professional singers worldwide.[4] 


[1] The Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth in Bordentown, New Jersey

[2] “The Listening Room,” The People’s Voice, December 2, 1944, pg. 29. The newspaper noted that the broadcast included Hall Johnson’s Mother to Son, Cecil Cohen’s Death of an Old Seaman and Florence Price’s Song to a Dark Virgin, all presumably sung by host, Lola Hayes. 

Troubled Island is an opera set in Haiti in 1791. It was composed by William Grant Still with a libretto by Langston Hughes and Verna Arvey.

[3] Page two of the script notes Langston Hughes’ grandmother was married to a veteran of the 1859 Harper’s Ferry raid led by abolitionist John Brown. Indeed, Hughes’ grandmother’s first husband was Lewis Sheridan Leary, who was one of Brown’s raiders at Harper’s Ferry. For more on the story please see: A Shawl From Harper’s Ferry.

[4] Abdul, Raoul, “Winners of the Lola Hayes Vocal Scholarship and Awards,” The New York Amsterdam News, February 8, 1992, pg. 25.

Special thanks to Valeria Martinez for research assistance.


the road to edinburgh

On the 50th anniversary of the 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games newly catalogued collections trace the long road to the first Games held in Scotland.

A handwritten note dated 10th April 1957 sits on the top of a file marked ‘Scotland for 1970 Host’. The document forms part of a series of files recording the planning, organisation and operation of the 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, the first to be held in Scotland. Written by Willie Carmichael, a key figure in Scotland’s Games history, the note sets out his plans to secure the Commonwealth Games for Scotland. He begins by noting that Scotland’s intention to host the Games was made at a meeting of Commonwealth Games Federations at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. Carmichael then proceeds to lay out the steps required to make Scotland’s case to be the host of the Games in 1966 or 1970.

Willie Carmichael

The steps which Carmichael traced out in his note can be followed through the official records and personal papers relating to the Games held in the University Archives. The recently catalogued administrative papers of Commonwealth Games Scotland for the period provide a detailed account of the long process of planning for this major event, recording in particular the close collaboration with Edinburgh Corporation which was an essential element in securing the Games for Scotland (with major new venues being required for the city to host the event).

Further details and perspectives on the road to the 1970 Games can be found in the personal papers of figures associated with Commonwealth Games Scotland also held in the University Archives including Sir Peter Heatly and Willie Carmichael himself.

The choice of host city for the 1966 Games was to be made at a meeting held at the 1962 Games in Perth, Australia. The first target on Carmichael’s plan, the Edinburgh campaign put forward its application as host city at a Federation meeting held in Rome in 1960. A series of press cutting files collected by Carmichael trace the campaigns progress from this initial declaration of intent through to the final decision made in Perth.

Documents supporting Edinburgh’s bid to host the 1966 Commonwealth Games presented to meetings of the Commonwealth Games Federation in Rome (1960) and Perth (1962), part of the Willie Carmichael Archive.

Edinburgh faced competition both within Scotland, with the press reporting a rival bid from Glasgow, and across the Commonwealth, with other nations including Jamaica, India and Southern Rhodesia expressing an interest in hosting the 1966 competition. When it came to the final decision in 1962 three cities remained in contention: Edinburgh, Kingston in Jamaica, and Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia. The first round of voting saw Salisbury eliminated. In the subsequent head-to-head vote Kingston was selected as host city for the 1966 Games by the narrowest of margins (17 votes to 16).

As Carmichael had sketched out in his 1957 plan if Edinburgh failed in its attempt to host the 1966 Games it would have another opportunity to make its case to hold the 1970 event. Carmichael and his colleagues travelled to Kingston in 1966 confident of securing the support required to bring the Games to Scotland in 1970. In our next blog we’ll look at how they succeeded in making the case for Edinburgh.

‘Scotland Invites’, title page to document supporting Edinburgh’s bid to host the 1966 Commonwealth Games (Willie Carmichael Archive).

friday art blog: kate downie

Nanbei by Kate Downie
(Oil on canvas, 2013)

During a series of visits to China a few years ago, Kate Downie was brought into contact with traditional ink painting techniques, and also with the China of today. There she encountered the contrasts and meeting points between the epic industrial and epic romantic landscapes: the motorways, rivers, cityscapes and geology – all of which she absorbed and reflected on in a series of oil and ink paintings. As Kate creates studies for her paintings in situ, she is very much immersed in the landscapes that she is responding to and reflecting on.

The artwork shown above, ‘Nanbei’, which was purchased by the Art Collection in 2013, tackles similar themes to Downie’s Scottish based work, reflecting both her interest in the urban landscape and also the edges where land meets water. Here we encounter both aspects within a new setting – an industrial Chinese landscape set by the edge of a vast river. Downie is also obsessed with bridges. As well as the bridge that appears in this image, seemingly supported by trees that follow its line, the space depicted forms an unseen bridge between two worlds and two extremes, between epic natural and epic industrial forms. In this imagined landscape, north meets south (Nanbei literally means North South) and mountains meet skyscrapers; here both natural and industrial structures dominate the landscape. This juxtaposition is one of the aspects of China that impressed the artist and inspired the resulting work.

After purchasing this work by Kate Downie, the Art Collection invited her to be one of three exhibiting artists in its exhibition ‘Reflections of the East’ in 2015 (the other two artists were Fanny Lam Christie and Emma Scott Smith). All artists had links to China, and ‘Nanbei’ was central to the display of works in the Crush Hall that Kate had entitled ‘Shared Vision’.

Temple Bridge
(Monoprint, 2015)

Kate Downie studied Fine Art at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen and has held artists’ residencies in the USA and Europe. She has exhibited widely and has also taught and directed major art projects. In 2010 Kate Downie travelled to Beijing and Shanghai to work with ink painting masters and she has since returned there several times, slowly building a lasting relationship with Chinese culture. On a recent visit she learned how to carve seals from soapstone, and these red stamps can now be seen on all of her work, including on her print ‘Temple Bridge’ above, which was purchased by the Collection at the end of the exhibition.

Kate Downie recently gave an interesting online talk about her work and life in lockdown. It was organised by The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh which is currently holding an exhibition entitled ‘Modern Masters Women‘ featuring many women artists. Watch Kate Downie’s talk below:

Telling Untold Stories Through the Emmett Till Archives

Detail of a newspaper clipping from the Joseph Tobias Papers, MSS 2017-002

Friday August 28th marks the 65th anniversary of the abduction and murder of Emmett Till. Till’s murder is regarded as a significant catalyst for the mid-century African-American Civil Rights Movement. Calls for justice for Till still drive national conversations about racism and oppression in the United States.

In 2015, Florida State University (FSU) Libraries Special Collections & Archives established the Emmett Till Archives in collaboration with Emmett Till scholar Davis Houck, filmmaker Keith Beauchamp, and author Devery Anderson. Since then, we have continued to build robust research collections of primary and secondary sources related to the life, murder, and commemoration of Emmett Till. We invite researchers from around the world, from any age group, to explore these collections and ask questions. It is through research and exploration of original, primary resources that Till’s story can be best understood and that truth can be shared.

“Mamie had a little boy…”, from the Wright Family Interview, Keith Beauchamp Audiovisual Recordings, MSS 2015-016
FSU Special Collections & Archives.

As noted in our Emmett Till birthday post this year, an interview with Emmett Till’s family, conducted by civil rights filmmaker Keith Beauchamp in 2018, is now available through the FSU Digital Library in two parts. Willie Wright, Thelma Wright Edwards, and Wilma Wright Edwards were kind enough to share their perspectives with Beauchamp and in a panel presentation at the FSU Libraries Heritage Museum that Spring. Soon after this writing, original audio and video files from the interview will be also be available to any visitor, researcher, or aspiring documentary filmmaker through the FSU Digital Library.

Emmett Till, 1954
Emmett Till, December 1954. Image from the Davis Houck Papers

A presentation by a Till scholar in 2019 led to renewed contact with and a valuable donation from FSU alum Steve Whitaker, who in a way was the earliest contributor to Emmett Till research at FSU. His seminal 1963 master’s thesis, completed right here at Florida State University, is still the earliest known scholarly work on the kidnapping and murder of Till, and was influential on many subsequent retellings of the story. The Till Archives recently received a few personal items from Whitaker documenting life in mid-century Mississippi, as well as a small library of books on Till, Mississippi law, and other topics that can give researchers valuable context for his thesis and the larger Till story.

In the future, the newly-founded Emmett Till Lecture and Archives Fund will ensure further opportunities to commemorate Till through events and collection development. FSU Libraries will continue to partner with Till’s family, the Emmett Till Memory Project, Emmett Till Interpretive Center, the Emmett Till Project, the FSU Civil Rights Institute, and other institutions and private donors to collect, preserve and provide access to the ongoing story of Emmett Till.

Sources and Further Reading

FSU Libraries. Emmett Till Archives Research Guide.

Wright Family Interview, Keith Beauchamp Audiovisual Recordings, MSS 2015-016, Special Collections & Archives, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida.
Interview Part I:
Interview Part II:

Former Congressman Trey Gowdy Appointed to the PIDB

On August 24, 2020, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) appointed former Congressman Harold W. “Trey” Gowdy, III as a member of the Public Interest Declassification Board. Mr. Gowdy served four terms in Congress, representing his hometown of Spartansburg in South Carolina’s 4th congressional district. The Board members and staff welcome Mr. Gowdy and look forward to working with him in continuing efforts to modernize and improve how the Federal Government classifies and declassifies sensitive information.

Mr. Gowdy was appointed by the Minority Leader McCarthy on August 24, 2020. He is serving his first three-year term on the Board. His appointment was announced on August 25, 2020 in the Congressional Record

Tracey Sterne

In November of 1981, an item appeared in The New York Times -and it seemed all of us in New York (and elsewhere) who were interested in music, radio, and culture in general, saw it: 

“Teresa Sterne,” it read, “who in 14 years helped build the Nonesuch Record label into one of the most distinguished and innovative in the recording industry, will be named Director of Music Programming at WNYC radio next month.” The piece went on to promise that Ms. Sterne, under WNYC’s management, would be creating “new kinds of programming -including some innovative approaches to new music and a series of live music programs.” 

This was incredible news. Sterne, by this time, was a true cultural legend. She was known not only for those 14 years she’d spent building Nonesuch, a remarkably smart, serious, and daring record label —but also for how it had all ended, with her sudden dismissal from that label by Elektra, its parent company (whose own parent company was Warner Communications), two years earlier. The widely publicized outrage over her termination from Nonesuch included passionate letters of protest from the likes of Leonard Bernstein, Elliott Carter, Aaron Copland —only the alphabetical beginning of a long list of notable musicians, critics and journalists who saw her firing as a sharp blow to excellence and diversity in music. But the dismissal stood. 

By coincidence, only three weeks before the news of her hiring broke, I had applied for a job as a part-time music-host at WNYC. Steve Post, a colleague whom I’d met while doing some producing and on-air work at New York’s decidedly non-profit Pacifica station, WBAI, had come over from there to WNYC, a year before, to do the weekday morning music and news program. “Fishko,” he said to me, “they need someone on the weekends -and I think they want a woman.” My day job of longstanding was as a freelance film editor, but I wanted to keep my hand in the radio world. Weekends would be perfect. In two interviews with executives at WNYC, I had failed to impress. But now I could feel hopeful about making a connection to Ms. Sterne, who was a music person, as was I. 

Soon after her tenure began, I threw together a sample tape and got it to her through a contact on the inside. And she said, simply: Yeah, let’s give her a chance. And so it began. 

Tracey—the name she was called by all friends and colleagues — seemed, immediately, to be a fascinating, controversial character: she was uniquely qualified to do the work at hand, but at the same time she was a fish out of water. She was un-corporate, not inclined to be polite to the young executives upstairs, and not at all enamored of current trends or audience research. For this we dearly loved her, those of us on the air. She cared how the station sounded, how the music connected, how the information about the music surrounded it. Her preoccupations seemed, even then, to be of the Old School. But she was also fiercely modern in her attitude toward the music, unafraid to mix styles and periods, admiring of new music, up on every instrumentalist and conductor and composer, young, old, avant-garde, traditional. And she had her own emphatic and impeccable taste. Always the best, that was her motto —whatever it is, if it’s great, or even just extremely good, it will distinguish itself and find its audience, she felt. 

Tracey Sterne, age 13, rehearsing for a Tchaikovsky concerto performance at WNYC in March 1940.
(Finkelstein/WNYC Archive Collections)

She had developed her ear and her convictions, as it turned out, as a musician, having been a piano prodigy who performed at Madison Square Garden at age 12. She went on to a debut with the New York Philharmonic, gave concerts at Lewisohn Stadium and the Brooklyn Museum, and so on. I could relate. Though my gifts were not nearly at her level, I, too, had been a dedicated, early pianist and I, too, had looked later for other ways to use what I’d learned at the piano keyboard. And our birthdays were on the same date in March. So, despite being at least a couple of decades apart in age, we bonded. 

Tracey’s tenure at WNYC was fruitful, though not long. As she had at Nonesuch, she embraced ambitious and adventurous music programming. She encouraged some of the on-air personalities to express themselves about the music, to “personalize” the air, to some degree. That was also happening in special programs launched shortly before she arrived as part of a New Music initiative, with John Schaefer and Tim Page presenting a range of music way beyond the standard classical fare. And because of Tracey’s deep history and contacts in the New York music business, she forged partnerships with music institutions and found ways to work live performances by individual musicians and chamber groups into the programming. She helped me carve out a segment on air for something we called Great Collaborations, a simple and very flexible idea of hers that spread out to every area of music and made a nice framework for some observations about musical style and history. She loved to talk (sometimes to a fault) and brainstorm about ways to enliven the idea of classical music on the radio, not something all that many people were thinking about, then. 

But management found her difficult, slow and entirely too perfectionistic. She found management difficult, slow and entirely too superficial. And after a short time, maybe a year, she packed up her sneakers —essential for navigating the unforgiving marble floors in that old place— and left the long, dusty hallways of the Municipal Building. 

After that, I occasionally visited Tracey’s house in Brooklyn for events which I can only refer to as “musicales.” Her residence was on the Upper West Side, but this family house was treated as a country place, she’d go on the weekends. She’d have people over, they’d play piano, and sing, and it might be William Bolcom and Joan Morris, or some other notables, spending a musical and social afternoon. Later, she and I produced a big, New York concert together for the 300th birthday of Domenico Scarlatti –which exact date fell on a Saturday in 1985. “Scarlatti Saturday,” we called it, with endless phone-calling, musician-wrangling and fundraising needed for months to get it off the ground.  The concert itself, much of which was also broadcast on WNYC, went on for many hours, with appearances by some of the finest pianists and harpsichordists in town and out, lines all up and down Broadway to get into Symphony Space.  Throughout, Tracey was her incorruptible self — and a brilliant organizer, writer, thinker, planner, and impossibly driven producing-partner. 

I should make clear, however, that for all her knowledge and perfectionistic, obsessive behavior, she was never the cliche of the driven, lonely careerist -or whatever other cliche you might want to choose. She was a warm, haimish person with friends all over the world, friends made mostly through music. A case in point: the “Scarlatti Saturday” event was produced by the two of us on a shoestring. And Tracey, being Tracey, she insisted that we provide full musical and performance information in printed programs, offered free to all audience members, and of course accurate to the last comma. How to assure this? She quite naturally charmed and befriended the printer — who wound up practically donating the costly programs to the event. By the time we were finished she was making him batches of her famous rum balls and he was giving us additional, corrected pages —at no extra charge. It was not a calculated maneuver -it was just how she did things. 

You just had to love and respect her for the life force, the intelligence, the excellence and even the temperament she displayed at every turn. Sometimes even now, after her death many years ago at 73 from ALS, I still feel Tracey Sterne’s high standards hanging over me —in the friendliest possible way.


Sara Fishko hosts WNYC’s culture series, Fishko Files.

Heroes Work Here

The National Archives is home to an abundance of remarkable records that chronicle and celebrate the rich history of our nation. It is a privilege to be Archivist of the United States—to be the custodian of our most treasured documents and the head of an agency with such a unique and rewarding mission. But it is my greatest privilege to work with such an accomplished and dedicated staff—the real treasures of the National Archives go home at night.

Today I want to recognize and thank the mission-essential staff of NARA’s National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). Like all NARA offices, the NPRC closed in late March to protect its workforce and patrons from the spread of the pandemic and comply with local government movement orders. While modern military records are available electronically and can be referenced remotely, the majority of NPRC’s holdings and reference activity involve paper records that can be accessed only by on-site staff. Furthermore, these records are often needed to support veterans and their families with urgent matters such as medical emergencies, homeless veterans seeking shelter, and funeral services for deceased veterans.

Concerned about the impact a disruption in service would have on veterans and their families, over 150 staff voluntarily set aside concerns for their personal welfare and regularly reported to the office throughout the period of closure to respond to these types of urgent requests. These exceptional staff were pioneers in the development of alternative work processes to incorporate social distancing and other protective measures to ensure a safe work environment while providing this critical service.

National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) building in St. Louis

The Center is now in Phase One of a gradual re-opening, allowing for additional on-site staff.  The same group that stepped up during the period of closure continues to report to the office and are now joined by additional staff volunteers, enabling them to also respond to requests supporting employment opportunities and home loan guaranty benefits. There are now over 200 staff supporting on-site reference services on a rotational basis. Together they have responded to over 32,000 requests since the facility closed in late March. More than half of these requests supported funeral honors for deceased veterans.

With each passing day we are a day closer to the pandemic being behind us. Though it may seem far off, there will come a time when Covid-19 is no longer the threat that it is today, and the Pandemic of 2020 will be discussed in the context of history. When that time comes, the mission essential staff of NPRC will be able to look back with pride and know that during this unprecedented crisis, when their country most needed them, they looked beyond their personal well-being to serve others in the best way they were able.

As Archivist of the United States, I applaud you for your commitment to the important work of the National Archives, and as a Navy veteran whose service records are held at NPRC, I thank you for your unwavering support to America’s veterans.

Contribute to the FSU Community COVID 19 Project

Masks Sign, contributed by Lorraine Mon, view this item in the digital library here

Students, faculty, and alumni! Heritage & University Archives is collecting stories and experiences from the FSU community during COVID-19.

University life during a pandemic will be studied by future scholars. During this pandemic, we have received requests surrounding the 1918 Flu Pandemic. Unfortunately, not many documents describing these experiences survive in the archive. 

To create a rich record of life in these unique times we are asking the FSU Community to contribute their thoughts, experiences, plans, and photographs to the archive.

Working from Home, contributed by Shaundra Lee, view this time in the digital library here

How did COVID-19 affect your summer? Tell us about your plans for fall. How did COVID-19 change your plans for classes? Upload photographs of your dorm rooms or your work from home set ups.

If you’d like to see examples of what people have already contributed, please see the collection on Diginole.

You can add your story to the project here.

2021 Creative Fellowship – Call for Proposals


PPL is now accepting proposals for our 2021 Creative Fellowship! We’re looking for an artist working in illustration or two-dimensional artwork to create new work related to the theme of our 2021 exhibition, Tomboys.

View the full call for proposals, including application instructions, here. The application deadline is October 1, 2020 April 1, 2021*.

*This deadline has shifted since we originally posted this call for proposals! The 2021 Fellowship, and the Exhibition & Program Series, have both been shifted forward by six months due to the coronavirus. Updated deadlines and timeline in the call for proposals!

Friday art blog: still life in the collection

Welcome to our new regular blog slot, the ‘Friday Art Blog’. We look forward to your continued company over the next weeks and months.
You can return to the Art Collection website here, and search our entire permanent collection here.

Pears by Jack Knox
(Oil on board, 1973)

This week we are taking a look at some of the still life works of art in the permanent collection.

‘Still life’ (or ‘nature morte’ as it is also widely known) refers to the depiction of mostly inanimate subject matter. It has been a part of art from the very earliest days, from thousands of years ago in Ancient Egypt, found also on the walls in 1st century Pompeii, and featured in illuminated medieval manuscripts. During the Renaissance, when it began to gain recognition as a genre in its own right, it was adapted for religious purposes. Dutch golden age artists in particular, in the early 17th century, depicted objects which had a symbolic significance. The still life became a moralising meditation on the brevity of life. and the vanity of the acquisition of possessions. But, with urbanization and the rise of a middle class with money to spend, it also became fashionable simply as a celebration of those possessions – in paintings of rare flowers or sumptuous food-laden table tops with expensive silverware and the best china.

The still life has remained a popular feature through many modern art movements. Artists might use it as an exercise in technique (much cheaper than a live model), as a study in colour, form, or light and shade, or as a meditation in order to express a deeper mood. Or indeed all of these.

The works collected by the University of Stirling Art Collection over the past fifty years reflect its continuing popularity amongst artists and art connoisseurs alike.

Bouteille et Fruits by Henri Hayden
(Lilthograph, 75/75, 1968)

In the modern era the still life featured in the post impressionist art of Van Gogh, Cezanne and Picasso. Henri Hayden trained in Warsaw, but moved to Paris in 1907 where Cezanne and Cubism were influences. From 1922 he rejected this aesthetic and developed a more figurative manner, but later in life there were signs of a return to a sub-cubist mannerism in his work, and as a result the landscapes and still lifes of his last 20 years became both more simplified and more definitely composed than the previous period, with an elegant calligraphy. They combine a new richness of colour with lyrical melancholy. Meditation and purity of vision mark the painter’s last years.

Black Lace by Anne Redpath
(Gouache, 1951)

Anne Redpath is best known for her still lifes and interiors, often with added textural interest, and also with the slightly forward-tilted table top, of which this painting is a good example. Although this work is largely monochrome it retains the fascination the artist had in fabric and textiles – the depiction of the lace is enhanced by the restrained palette.

Untitled still life by Euan Heng
(Linocut, 1/5, 1974)

While Euan Heng’s work is contemporary in practice his imagery is not always contemporary in origin. He has long been influenced by Italian iconography, medieval paintings and frescoes.

Origin of a rose by Ceri Richards
(Lithograph, 30/70, 1967)

In Ceri Richards’ work there is a constant recurrence of visual symbols and motifs always associated with the mythic cycles of nature and life. These symbols include rock formations, plant forms, sun, moon and seed-pods, leaf and flower. These themes refer to the cycle of human life and its transience within the landscape of earth.

Still Life, Summer by Elizabeth Blackadder
(Oil on canvas, 1963)

This is a typical example of one of Elizabeth Blackadder’s ‘flattened’ still life paintings, with no perspective. Works such as this retain the form of the table, with the top raised to give the fullest view.

Broken Cast by David Donaldson
(Oil on canvas , 1975)

David Donaldson was well known for his still lifes and landscape paintings as well as literary, biblical and allegorical subjects.

Flowers for Fanny by William MacTaggart
Oil on board, 1954

William MacTaggart typically painted landscapes, seascapes and still lifes featuring vases of flowers. These flowers, for his wife, Fanny Aavatsmark, are unusual for not being poppies, his most commonly painted flower.

Cake by Fiona Watson
(Digital print, 18/25, 2009)

We end this blog post with one of the most popular still lifes in the collection. This depiction of Scottish classic the Tunnock’s teacake is a modern take on the still life. It is a firm favourite whenever it is on display.

Image by Julie Howden

Solar Energy: A Brief Look Back

In the early 1970’s the United States was in the midst of an energy crisis. Massive oil shortages and high prices made it clear that alternative ideas for energy production were needed and solar power was a clear front runner. The origins of the solar cell in the United States date back to inventor Charles Fritz in the 1880’s, and the first attempts at harvesting solar energy for homes, to the late 1930’s. In 1974, the State of Florida put it’s name in the ring to become the host of the National Solar Energy Research Institute.

Site proposal for the National Solar Energy Research Institute. Claude Pepper Papers S. 301 B. 502 F. 4

With potential build sites in Miami and Cape Canaveral, the latter possessing the added benefit of proximity to NASA, the Florida Solar Energy Task Force, led by Robert Nabors and endorsed by Representative Pepper, felt confident. The state made it to the final rounds of the search before the final location of Golden, Colorado was settled upon, which would open in 1977. Around this same time however (1975), the Florida Solar Energy Center was established at the University of Central Florida. The Claude Pepper Papers contain a wealth of information on Florida’s efforts in the solar energy arena from the onset of the energy crisis, to the late 1980’s.

Carbon copy of correspondence between Claude Pepper and Robert L. Nabors regarding the Cape Canaveral proposed site for the National Solar Research Institute. Claude Pepper Papers S. 301 B. 502 F. 4

Earlier this year, “Tallahassee Solar II”, a new solar energy farm, began operating in Florida’s capitol city.  Located near the Tallahassee International Airport, it provides electricity for more than 9,500 homes in the Leon County area. With the steady gains that the State of Florida continues to make in the area of solar energy expansion, it gets closer to fully realizing its nickname, “the Sunshine State.”

(C)istory Lesson

Our next submission is from Rachel Duke, our Rare Books Librarian, who has been with Special collections for two years. This project was primarily geared towards full-time faculty and staff, so I chose to highlight her contribution to see what a full-time faculty’s experience would be like looking through the catalog.

Frontispiece and Title Page, Salome, 1894. Image from

The item she chose was Salome, originally written in French by Oscar Wilde, then translated into English, as her object. While this book does not explicitly identify as a “Queer Text,” Wilde has become canonized in queer historical literature. In the first edition of the book, there is even a dedication to his lover, Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas, who helped with the translation. While there are documented historical examples of what we would refer to today as “queerness,” (queer meaning non-straight) there is still no demarcation of his queerness anywhere in the catalog record. Although the author is not necessarily unpacking his own queer experiences in the text, “both [Salome’s] author and its legacy participate strongly in queer history” as Duke states in her submission. 

Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas

Even though Wilde was in a queer relationship with Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas, and has been accepted into the Queer canon, why doesn’t his catalog record reflect that history? Well, a few factors come into play. One of the main ones is an aversion to retroactively labeling historical figures. Since we cannot confirm which modern label would fit Wilde, we can’t necessarily outright label him as gay. How would a queer researcher like me go about finding authors and artists from the past who are connected with queer history?

It is important to acknowledge LGBTQ+ erasure when discussing this topic. Since the LGBTQ+ community has historically been marginalized, documentation of queerness is hard to come by because:

  • People did not collect, and even actively erased, Queer and Trans Histories.
  • LGBTQ+ history has been passed down primarily as an oral tradition. 
  • Historically, we cannot confirm which labels people would have identified with.
  • Language and social conventions change over time.

So while we view and know someone to be queer, since it is not in official documentation we have no “proof.” On the other hand, in some cultures, gay relations were socially acceptable. For example, in the Middle Ages, there was a legislatively approved form of same-sex marriage, known as affrèrement. This example is clearly labeled as *gay* in related library-based description because it was codified that way in the historical record. By contrast, Shakespeare’s sonnets, which (arguably) use queer motifs and themes, are not labeled as “queer” or “gay.” Does queer content mean we retroactively label the AUTHOR queer? Does the implication of queerness mean we should make the text discoverable under queer search terms?

Cartoon depicting Oscar Wilde’s visit to San Francisco. By George Frederick Keller – The Wasp, March 31, 1882.

Personally, I see both sides. As someone who is queer, I would not want a random person trying to retroactively label me as something I don’t identify with. On the other hand, as a queer researcher, I find it vital to have access to that information. Although they might not have been seen as queer in their time period, their experiences speak to queer history. Identities and people will change, which is completely normal, but as a group that has experienced erasure of their history, it is important to acknowledge all examples of historical queerness as a proof that LGBTQ+ individuals have existed throughout time. How do we responsibly and ethically go about making historical queerness discoverable in our finding aids and catalogs?

Click Here to see some more historical figures you might not have known were LGBTQ+.