Confirmation Testimony of New U.S. Space Force Commander Reiterates Concerns about Over-classification in Space, Calls for Review

On his way to becoming the new Commander of the U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM), Lt. Gen. James Dickinson discussed the problem of over-classification in space operations at his confirmation hearing on July 28, 2020, before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In his testimony, Lt. Gen. Dickinson called for “a review of classification for collection data to ensure widest dissemination possible to the war fighter in a timely fashion.”

Dickinson explained that the over-classification of space information leads to the duplication of space systems, the lack of integration of space capabilities and training, and a critical lack of knowledge about specific space threats across U.S. operational forces. Similar concerns about over-classification in space have been raised since December 2019 by current and former Department of Defense (DOD) officials, including Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Barbara Barrett, and former Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command and Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work.

USSPACECOM relies heavily on information collected and prepared by both the Intelligence Community (IC) and the combatant commands to support the mission of protecting and defending national security in space. Effective space defense relies on the collection, processing, and sharing of highly classified information that includes valuable sensor data, satellite communications, and navigation signals for a diverse set of end users. Over-classification of this information, which is strictly regulated by security controls, stymies the performance of Government engineers and contractors developing new technologies on a broad range of projects, and endangers warfighters.

Leaders across the DOD and the IC struggle with the existing classification system that protects, but also inhibits the proper sharing of sensitive information. Many from within the Government now call for a comprehensive review of the classification system to improve the timely dissemination for the operational support of warfighters. These demands echo recommendations the Public Interest Declassification Board has long advocated for the modernization of classification and declassification as a means of cutting costs, aligning the digital business practices of Federal agencies, and combatting over-classification to ensure a credible system for protecting national security information.

Outdated and excessively costly, the current method for classifying and declassifying national security information remains unsustainable in the digital information age. As all media become fully digital, analog technology and paper records become practically inaccessible and dysfunctional. The costs of the security classification system are staggering (reported to be an estimated $18.39 billion in FY 2017), yet resources for declassification remain woefully underfunded, while over-classification and the declassification backlog give rise to leaks and inadvertent disclosures that damage national security imperatives.

By continuing to unnecessarily classify information without timely declassification and a strategic transformation of the Government information system, the volume and diversity of records inaccessible to policymakers and the public will only continue to increase. Current practices diminish public confidence in the security classification system, impede appropriate information-sharing within the Government, and diminish the open discussion of our national history that is so fundamental to the democratic process. Yet, the Government still struggles to increase transparency and to demystify its classified activities.

In January this year, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten called for cleaning up the Pentagon’s classification process, noting that “we’re just so overclassified it’s ridiculous, just unbelievably ridiculous.” Crucial reforms to the system will need to include a tightening of definitions and greater specificity for categories requiring protection in the first place. Some measure of constraint on the system will be necessary to combat over-classification, a topic which requires broader study and more clearly defined outcomes to reverse the trend of excessive secrecy. Over-classification manifested in excessive secrecy remains and will likely continue to pose a serious challenge to appropriate information sharing and control. The benefits of sharing classified information with properly cleared users outweighs the perceived detriments of inappropriate distribution. Classification need no longer be the default selection to ensure national security interests are adequately protected.

1938 WNYC Clock Radio Alarm

Jack Bruce Mercer’s clock radio alarm as drawn by Leo Garel for the WNYC Masterwork Bulletin.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

Letter to WNYC director Morris S. Novik

Mill Lane

Bronx, N.Y.C. 

October 27, 1938 


The radio, as far as I am concerned, is WNYC. 

I work on the night shift, 4-12, in an ice plant.

At seven in the morning my alarm clock is rigged so that instead of a horrible ringing, the Sunrise Symphony switches on. (Want the patent fellow music lovers?)

So there I lie in bed, a working man enjoying a millionaire’s comfort. By eight I’m ready for breakfast and the morning paper. At nine, another hour of good music. And so I am well fortified for a new day!


Jack Bruce Mercer

P.S. Please send me the Masterwork Booklet.  

According to a news release issued a week-a-half later by the office of Mayor La Guardia, ​Morris Novik passed Mercer’s diagram (pictured above) on to ​WNYC’s Chief Engineer Isaac Brimberg who put the Rube Goldberg-like design to the test. It worked!

Sunrise Symphony was the station’s daily morning program of recorded classical music. The Masterwork Booklet, ​which Mercer requests in the postscript of his letter, was actually The Masterwork Bulletin, WNYC’s program guide.

Special thanks to the New York City Municipal Archives and to the La Guardia and Wagner Archives, La Guardia Community College/The City University of New York.





ODNI, NGA Officials Tout Modernization During the Current Pandemic

At an industry-sponsored webinar on Wednesday, August 12, officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the National Geospatial Agency (NGA) discussed how during the current COVID-19 pandemic their agencies: “innovate and deploy new technologies and methodologies to drive digital transformation for efficiency and cost savings.

La’Naia Jones, acting Chief Information Officer for the Intelligence Community (ICCIO) in the ODNI, emphasized that the application of ODNI’s 2019 Cyber Implementation Plan, and lessons learned over seven years since the ODNI decided to invest in Cloud technologies, have reduced costs through the integration of IT services and process automation across the IC to “do more with less.” She acknowledged that manual processes put a drag on workflows, noting that this became especially obvious as the IC transitioned to performing as much telework as possible under the pandemic lockdown. Jones explained that the ODNI is uniquely positioned to leverage modernization through a common infrastructure and federated approach across the 17 IC agencies.  This allows for flexibility in adapting specific technologies to the needs of each IC agency for automation and processing unstructured data.

NGA’s Associate CIO Mark Chatelain explained that flexibility in implementing technological solutions for specific tasks have allowed the NGA to go from having only a few employees working remotely before March 15, to now having almost its entire workforce work remotely.  Less than 10 percent of NGA employees work on site. He emphasized the role of NGA’s agile business processes in rapidly adapting to support the NGA in deploying a remote topographic platform at the unclassified level within the first week of the pandemic lockdown.

As highlighted in these presentations, the IC’s rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic was aided by their modernization plans.  They deployed advanced technologies for remote access and collaboration, shifting away from manual processes that were either inefficient or impossible to perform remotely.  IC adoption of automation, and the ability to efficiently and effectively process unstructured data, illustrate how the IC is cutting costs through digital transformation— a strategy that the Public Interest Declassification Board has long recommended for improving classification and declassification across the Federal Government. Modernization during the current pandemic further amplifies why the ODNI is uniquely positioned to serve as the Executive Agent for designing and implementing a transformed security classification system that leverages ODNI success in leading implementation of the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise.

The response to COVID-19 provides an opportunity to accelerate the specific adaptation of new technologies for the digital transformation of classification and declassification. In the public interest, the Board will continue to study the implications of best practices and innovations in the IC driven by the ongoing public health emergency.


the friday art blog:The Mackenzie sisters

After the Pathfoot Building was shut in late March, the Art Collection began to produce several blog posts every week, which aimed at providing a broader and deeper insight into our collections, and into the history of the University. Now that lockdown is starting to ease, we will be turning this into one regular weekly blog slot – the new ‘Friday Art Blog’ – and we look forward to your continued company over the next weeks and months. Remember that you can now search our entire collection here.

Vase with poppies by Winifred McKenzie
(Oil on canvas, 1984)

This week we are looking at the paintings of the McKenzie sisters in the Collection.

In 2015, the Art Collection received an unexpected letter from a solicitor in St Andrew’s stating that the late Sydney Aylwin Clark had bequeathed five pictures to the Collection. As it turned out, these paintings were by two sisters called McKenzie – Winifred (1905-2001) and Alison (1907-1982) – and Aylwin Clark (as she was known) had been their friend and biographer.
No explanation was given as to why these works were to come to Stirling, but apparently Ms Clark had decided that the Art Collection would be a worthy recipient.

Carnbee Church by Alison McKenzie
(Watercolour on paper, 1953)

In 1990 Sydney Aylwin Clark had written a biography about her friends entitled ‘The McKenzie Sisters: The Lives and Art of Winifred and Alison McKenzie’ with a foreword by David McClure, and this provides a fascinating account of their joint lives.

Winifred and Alison McKenzie were born in the first decade of the 20th Century in Bombay, where their father worked in the family sawmill business (though he had originally trained as an architect at Glasgow School of Art in the 1880s, where he was a contemporary and friend of Charles Rennie Mackintosh). The family moved back to Scotland when the girls were still young and in 1923 Winifred enrolled in Drawing & Painting classes at Glasgow School of Art, where the lecturer Chica MacNab introduced her to the art of woodcuts. Alison followed shortly after and became one of the leading students in Design & Textiles. They completed their art training together at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London. While living in the capital in the 1930s, Winifred was elected a member of the National Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers, and she was also a member of the Society of Wood Engravers.

Corfu Cliffs by Alison McKenzie
(Acrylic on board, 1976)

In 1940 the family moved back to Scotland, to live in St Andrews, where they joined the artist Annabel Kidston in running a series of art classes for the allied forces stationed in the town during the war. Run under the auspices of the Committee for Education for the Forces, the classes proved extremely popular, particularly with the Polish soldiers, whose work was exhibited in 1944 at the National Gallery in Edinburgh
Winifred joined the staff of Dundee College of Art in 1944, to teach wood engraving and composition. Alison joined her two years later on a job-share basis when their mother fell ill. They were popular and successful teachers, but their mother’s declining health forced them to resign from the College in 1957, to care for her full-time. The wood engraving course was taken over by Jozef Sekalski, another Polish artist who twice escaped from Nazi imprisonment during his attempts to reach Britain. 

“The two McKenzie sisters have lived close together throughout their lives, and as engravers each has a remarkable quality though in matters of individuality they are surprisingly different. The handling of light in Winifred’s engraving is the flood source, breaking through the arboreal colander. Her engraving technique is that of the painter. Alison’s handling of light is the beam source, illuminating a world of solids, a sculptural concept expressing solidity, security and order. Her engraving is remarkable for its economy and precision.”

– A History of British Wood Engraving by Albert Garrett 1978

Untitled and undated painting by Winifred McKenzie
(Oil on canvas)

The above painting is probably this one, referred to in Aylwin Clark’s biography:

‘From Ovronnaz [Rhone Valley, Switzerland] they walked up the valley as the sun came out, which provided Winifred with a dramatic image, made up of retreating storm clouds, grey glacier, varied light on the different planes of the mountain sides and in the foreground, green fields and a clump of trees, brilliantly illuminated. She worked it up later in their St Andrews studio – a perfect example of ’emotion recollected in tranquility’”

‘The McKenzie Sisters’ by Sydney Aylwin Clark, page 108

Chateauneuf-du-Pape by Winifred McKenzie
(Oil on canvas, 1992)

Aylwin Clark in her book describes how Winifred, in old age, enjoyed trips abroad, discovering France with the Friends of the RSA: ‘Looking from her cabin, she was thrilled with the light on Chateauneuf-du-Pape, with the brilliant blue of the bow wave in the foreground’.

The front cover of the biography, with a woodcut by Winifred McKenzie

Catastrophic Health Care: A Goal Not Met

In the Summer of 1987, Representative Claude Pepper introduced House Resolution 2654. In it a request was made to establish a 12-member committee charged with providing recommendations to Congress for a comprehensive health care program for all Americans. In October of 1988, Pepper was appointed as the chairperson of the United States Bipartisan Commission on Comprehensive Health Care. The committee’s findings indicated that the majority of Americans were prohibited at some level from obtaining adequate health care due to the high costs associated with medical treatment, particularly for long-term and catastrophic illness.  

Throughout his career, Pepper was uniquely devoted to the idea of comprehensive health care coverage. In 1937, during his first term as Senator, he co-authored legislation establishing the National Cancer Institute. Throughout the remainder of his career, he was instrumental in establishing an additional thirteen National Institutes of Health. Beginning in 1946, Pepper began efforts to muster support for the Wagner-Murray-Dingell Bill. A proposal to institute a national health care and hospital system intended to ease the hardship that America’s health care system imposed on those least able to afford it, the bill failed to gain traction or support.

For the next thirty years, the possibility of a National Health Care system continued to remain on the forefront of Pepper’s agenda. His last legislative efforts began in 1987. After the Bipartisan Commission, Pepper and his colleagues in the House began to craft what would become the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988. The bill was designed to improve acute care benefits for the elderly and disabled, which was to be phased in from 1989 to 1993.The act was meant to expand Medicare benefits to include outpatient drugs and set a cap on out of pocket medical costs. It was the first bill to significantly expand Medicare benefits since the program’s inception. Although the bill passed easily with initial support, the House and Senate repealed it a year later in response to widespread criticism over projected government costs.

Senator Pepper died in May of 1989, not seeing his goal of a national health care system achieved. Today the work toward that goal continues, and if you are interested to learn more about the history and evolution of the path toward affordable and equitable health care coverage for all Americans, the Pepper Papers, and all of our political collections, are searchable online.

Claude Pepper speaking at the Aging Subcommittee on Health Maintenance and Long Term Care hearing. Claude Pepper Papers Photo B(1397)-01.

Updated SCA Page in Florida History Research Guide

This post was co-authored by Jennifer Fain.

Special Collections & Archives is pleased to announce our new and improved page on the Florida History research guide. One of our major projects this summer in light of Covid-19 and the need for expanded online services has been to update our presence on FSU Library research guides to better connect patrons with our materials remotely.

The Florida History guide is overseen by Humanities librarian, Adam Beauchamp, who will be working on updating the rest of it in the future. Research guides can be accessed through the tile, “Research Guides,” on the library’s main page. To navigate to our updated page on the Florida History guide (pictured below), select the “Florida History in the FSU Libraries Special Collections & Archives” tab via the left-hand navigation bar in the research guide.

Our new page on the Florida History research guide!
Our new page on the Florida History research guide!

What were the improvements we have made to the page? We updated an introduction to Special Collections & Archives’ holdings and spaces, as well as information on our databases and how to search them. The main addition to this page is a break-down of our resources by topical subject areas within Florida History. The first section gives introductory information on how to use the resources listed as well as other places on the page to learn more about our searchable databases. Scroll down the page to explore different subjects represented in our collections. Alternatively, there are links that directly jump to each subject. The topics we have highlighted are Early Florida, Florida Industry & Agriculture, Tallahassee History, The Civil War in Florida, and Florida Politics. 

Photograph of Saturn V Moon Rocket.
Photograph of the Saturn V Moon Rocket from the Claude Pepper Papers.

The sections explain how and where to find materials like the above photograph of the Saturn V Moon Rocket across different searchable databases like ArchivesSpace, the Library Catalog, and the Digital Library. We included links and examples of digital collections, finding aids, and Library of Congress Subject Headings as starting points for research. There are also suggestions for how to develop keyword searches at the bottom of the page. 

Be on the lookout for more blog posts as we continue to unveil updated pages and guides for the Fall semester. And, of course, make sure to check out our new page on the Florida History guide! 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.

The J D Fergusson memorial collection at Stirling

This week’s #BeConnected Explore Our Campus looks at the collection of paintings of Scottish colourist J D Fergusson (1874-1961) in the Art Collection.

Self Portrait
(OIl on board, 1907)

In 1968 the brand new University of Stirling was fortunate to be presented with a collection of 14 paintings by the eminent Scottish painter John Duncan Fergusson. The ‘J D Fergusson Memorial Collection’ was gifted by the artist’s widow Margaret Morris, as a mark of her friendship with Tom Cottrell, the University’s first Principal, and her excitement at the inauguration of a great new adventure in Scottish education.

J D Fergusson was a principal artist in the group now known as the Scottish Colourists, which combined French Impressionist techniques with Scottish themes to produce outstanding works in the early 20th Century. The collection of fourteen of Fergusson’s paintings at Stirling was chosen to represent all periods of his life from his very early Bazaar in Tangiers (c. 1897) to A Bridge on the Kelvin (1942). It contains some of his finest work and includes the seminal painting Rhythm (1911). This blog post focusses on just some of these works. They can be viewed in full here.

Bazaar in Tangiers
(Oil on canvas, 1897)

The first of four children, J D Fergusson was born in Leith in 1874. After the Royal High School, the idea of being a naval surgeon appealed briefly, but Fergusson soon realised that his vocation was to paint. Art studies in Edinburgh became too rigid for him however and, resolving to teach himself, he started to travel. Around 1897 he went to Southern Spain and Morocco. In his works of this time he acknowledged the influence of Arthur Melville who had made similar painting excursions ten years earlier. As can be seen above in ‘Bazaar in Tangiers’, his oil paintings of this time are loosely worked, with a restrained palette.

He started to spend time in France, meeting fellow artists and studying at the Louvre, deeply impressed by the Impressionist paintings in the Salle Caillebotte. During these years the strongest influence on Fergusson was his friend S J Peploe whom he had met in the late 1890s.

(Oil on canvas, 1910)

In 1907 Fergusson moved to Paris and began to fully embrace the new era. During the first years of the new century, the city was a ferment of ideas in art, literature, philosophy, music and dance. Here, he was a contemporary of Picasso and was influenced by such artists as Cezanne, Monet and Matisse and the intense colour of the Fauvists such as Derain. This painting deploys fauvist use of colour to delineate form, and gains energy from the unpainted areas of canvas and the set of the shoulder axis.

Red Shawl
(Oil on canvas, 1908)

He also painted the many friends he made during this time. In this portrait of the American writer and critic Elizabeth Dryden, colour is used descriptively on form, whilst the background is a decorative surface of diminuished perspectival depth. This painting was exhibited in the Paris Salon d’Automne in 1909.

(Oil on canvas, 1911)

‘Rhythm’ was a key modernist concept, based on the philosophy of Henri Bergson, and this painting is perhaps Fergusson’s first modernist masterpiece. The young John Middleton Murry met Fergusson in 1910 and remembered ‘one word in all our strange discussions – the word ‘rhythm’. We never made any attempt to define it….for F. it was the essential quality in a painting or a sculpture; and since it was at that moment that the Russian Ballet first came to Western Europe….dancing was obviously linked, by rhythm, with the plastic arts’. Middleton Murry subsequently founded a literary magazine with Rhythm as the title, and Fergusson became art editor – a design based on this painting was used as the cover design. The painting itself shows a proud healthy Eve-like woman, complete with apple, though she seems more self-assertive than alluring or guilty. The figure is static but dynamic, poised to leap. Tension is introduced by the juxtaposition of verticals with more fluid lines, and movement through the shape and colour of her body and of the tree and drapes which surround her. Rhythm was first exhibited in Paris, at the Salon d’Automne, in 1911.

Portsmouth Docks
(Oil on canvas, 1918)

In 1914, with the outbreak of the First World War, Fergusson returned to live in London. This is one of a series of paintings which portray life in the naval dockyard at Portsmouth. The painting shows a dramatic viewpoint with strong verticals and a large destroyer’s bow. Energy not war creates the focal point. It was clearly influenced by the Vorticist movement. It has been claimed in the past that Fergusson was an official war artist, but apparently this was not the case. He was merely given permission by the Admiralty to visit the docks ‘to gather impressions for painting a picture’.

In Glen Isla
(Oil on canvas, 1923)

Painted after a tour of the Scottish Highlands in 1922, this picture illustrates a debt to Paul Cezanne and in its architectural approach to landscape heralds a new maturity in Fergusson’s art. It is a good example of a dialogue between colours and planes, created at a time when the artist was concerned with the problems of development of a shape within the many shapes of a composition. Many of the paintings from this trip were shown at his first major Scottish Exhibitions at the Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh and at Alexander Reid’s Gallery in Glasgow.

Bathers, Noon
(Oil on canvas, 1937)

After the war ended, Fergusson began to visit France regularly again, settling with Margaret Morris in the south in the late Twenties. The colour and subject matter that he found there informed his painting and sculpture for the rest of his career.

A Bridge on the Kelvin
(Oil on canvas, 1942)

In 1939 with the outbreak of the Second World War the couple returned to Britain, setting up home in Glasgow, and Fergusson became actively involved with the New Scottish Art Group. This picture was painted near their flat on Clouston Street. The refracted light and rich, sonorous colour is similar to a late Monet with a softer touch.

J D Fergusson is regarded as the most versatile and experimental of the quartet of
Scottish painters known as the Colourists (along with Samuel Peploe, Francis Cadell
and Leslie Hunter). The work of the group remains highly influential to this day.

‘Everyone in Scotland should refuse to have anything to do with black or dirty and dingy colours, and insist on clean colours in everything. I remember when I was young any colour was considered a sign of vulgarity. Greys and blacks were the only colours for people of taste and refinement. Good pictures had to be black, grey, brown or drab. Well! let’s forget it, and insist on things in Scotland being of colour that makes for and associates itself with light, hopefulness, health and happiness.’

J.D.Fergusson in Modern Scottish Painting (pub. William MacLellan, Glasgow 1943)

This is a short film about J D Fergusson which was made to coincide with a major Scottish Colourist exhibition in Edinburgh 2013/14.

The University Art Collection has recently re-published a catalogue of these works with added accompanying essays. ‘Colour, Light, Freedom: Fergusson at Stirling’ can be purchased in the Pathfoot Building Crush Hall for £5, or ordered online here.

All images copyright The Fergusson Gallery, Perth

object of the week

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

Michael Tyzack (1933-2007)
(Emulsion on board, 1962)

Born in Sheffield, Michael Tyzack studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. In 1956 he won a French Government Scholarship that allowed him to travel to Paris and Menton, where his work began to show a tendency towards abstraction and the influence of Cezanne. In 1965 he won first prize in the prestigious John Moores’ Liverpool Exhibition and continued to exhibit at prominent galleries and museums in the UK and America during the 1960s and 1970s, while also working as a professional jazz trumpeter.

Two works by this artist were purchased for the brand new University Art Collection in 1967 from the Richard Demarco Gallery in Edinburgh. The works collected in that period for the new University were by contemporary artists, in keeping with its modernist architecture. They were displayed around the Pathfoot Building, making art and culture part of the everyday experience at the University.

Albinoni’s Screen
(Acrylic on cotton, 1964)

In 1971 Tyzack took up a short teaching post in Iowa – originally planning to stay only one year. However, he and his family decided to remain in America after he was offered the post of Professor of Fine Arts at the College of Charleston, where he lived until his death in 2007.
He was one of the most distinguished British abstract painters to have settled in the United States in the last half-century. As a teacher he became a revered mentor for many young artists.

The DLC in the times of COVID

A long time ago, in March 2020, when we all had such hopes that closing the library was a temporary measure, the Digital Library Center (DLC) started to think about how it could support remote research and instruction during the rest of the spring semester. Fast forward to August 2020, and the DLC is now firmly engaged in on-demand digitization for patrons as well as a fully developed instructional support digitization work stream that is digitizing and fast tracking description to get materials into the digital library for fall classes. We’ve faced a lot of challenges during the last few months, the least of which at times has been a pandemic, but I think the DLC is headed in new and exciting directions.

Illuminated manuscript Leaf from a Book of Hours
Leaf from a Book of Hours, 1465, see original object

First of all, the challenges. One, a global pandemic but this one the DLC has navigated (cross all the fingers) really well so far. The DLC was closed from mid-March through early May. We returned to work on a rotation schedule which is working well. Another challenge was the retirement of a long time employee (we miss you Giesele!) which means the DLC is down a staff member. We’re also not actually *in* the DLC right now. Due to construction on the 2nd floor of Strozier Library, we’re in temporary digs until mid-September. This limits what equipment we have to do digitization right now. Bonus square on 2020 bingo? We’re also prepping for a platform migration for our digital library because why do one thing at a time when you can do ALL the things at the same time!

So, what are we doing to meet these challenges? The open position in the DLC is being reviewed currently and hopefully, we’ll be able to move forward with it before the end of the year. While we are limited in terms of our temporary space, we’re making it work and creating a “wait list” for projects to do once we’re back in the DLC. We’re proactively communicating with those on the wait list and so far, everyone is working with us on delayed delivery dates. We’re also working with our Special Collections & Archives Instruction Group on digitization needs and created guidelines to help instruction liaisons understand when the DLC might not be needed to meet their needs. We’re also planning and prepping for our upcoming migration and getting ourselves ready for if the digital library might need to be offline for a time during our move into the new and improved platform.

Even through all that, we’ve managed to get a lot of new materials up in the digital library since May. Some of this material was already digitized prior to our shutdown in March but was waiting on description for loading into the digital library. Thanks to the need for remote work, and the increased number of staff looking for it, we got a lot of waiting materials off the list and into the digital library. We’ve continued to add new materials online as we’ve digitized on campus and worked on description and loading remotely.

The cover of The Black Voice: June 1977. Volume I. Number II.

We added several university publications this spring and summer. Smoke Signals and Talaria (highlighted in a blog post earlier this year), Athanor, Black Insight, Black Voice (see the full issue highlighted at the side here), and Affirmative Action Quarterly were all added to the University Publications digital collection. We completed loading several more years’ worth of issues to the ongoing project to make the full run of Il Secolo available online. Continuing our partnership with community organizations, we also added new materials to both the Leon High School and First Baptist Church of Tallahassee collections.

Just this past month, we also added new video footage from an interview with Wright Family members to the Emmett Till Archives, shared our first submissions to the FSU COVID-19 Community Experience Project and loaded our first big batch of Instructional Support materials. The instructional materials are scattered through several collections in the digital library but include some of SCA’s “greatest hits” such as our chained book and our signed first edition of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species as well as many of our Book of Hours leaves.

As we head into the Fall, the DLC is trying to be prepared for whatever 2020 might throw our way next but we feel confident we’re moving in the right direction and continuing to support our faculty, staff and students!

Light. A. Fire.

For this blog post, I am choosing to write this from a more candid place, in hopes that people understand why change in library description is necessary. My last post talked about How to Transition on 63 Cents a Day, showing how there are outdated terms referencing Lee Krist’s identity in the catalog record. Those terms are still in the catalog record. My first post discussed how there are 0 results when you search “LGBT.” There are still zero results in Special Collections and Archives for that search. I started these posts as a way to facilitate the conversation about white supremacy in library settings, and to create some tangible ways to start addressing them. 

I was initially hired by Special Collections to update the artists’ book inventory, focusing on the labeling of printmaking techniques, themes, and identities to make them more accessible. One of the first books I ever worked on was How to Transition on 63 cents a Day. I remember updating the SCA spreadsheet of search terms with every term I could think of, the first one of them was LGBT. These terms have yet to make it into the catalog record. It feels frustrating to me because I have been doing this kind of work since my first day in Special Collections, but it seems progress moves at a glacier’s pace.

Tackling systemic issues within universities and other similar institutions sometimes feels impossible. Contacting the right people, organizing multiple meetings to discuss an action plan, finding the resources to do so, etc. etc. etc. and all while following “proper protocol.” Following bureaucratic etiquette, more times than not, perpetuates a mess of red tape that always ensnares progress for marginalized communities.

Meetings are important. I understand that! I just want tangible progress, and the ability to keep track of what’s been done in this effort. In a predominately white cisgender heterosexual career and institution, meetings can often feel performative rather than action-based. So much has been written about performative allyship in the workplace when it comes to racism, feminism, and anti-queer sentiment.  A recent Fortune article discusses performative allyship in workspaces, where organizations are “condemning racism through broad gestures but enabling its effects.” 

We all acknowledge that prejudice is bad. We all acknowledge that we want to “get better.” But you don’t “get better,” you DO BETTER. We haven’t uplifted the community that these problems have affected, so how can we say that we’re addressing them? One of the most important parts of creating change is recognizing that no person or institution is perfect. True allyship doesn’t lie in perfection (OR POLITENESS); it lies in the ability to accept critique and take accountability, which is what I hope we can do as a division and as a library. Next week is our first meeting about this initiative, and I want to make this about ACTION, to “light a proverbial fire.” 

I’m asking my division colleagues to do this “Privilege Check Game” prior to the meeting. We’d love for you to play along, and to think of one way that you can make your work more inclusive. This can be as big or as small as you want. 

Privilege Check Game: Start with 10 fingers!

Put down a finger if…

…you’ve ever been called a slur?

…you’ve ever had to see the same slur you were called in a catalog record?

…you’ve searched your identity (race, gender, sexuality, etc.) and no results came up?

…you’ve ever had someone (actively) not address you by your name or pronouns at work?

…you’ve ever had your identity “explained” to you by someone not of that identity? 

…you’ve ever had your identity affect how people behaved around/treated you?

…you’ve ever been anxious about your job status due to federal/state law?

…you’ve ever not spoken out in a situation for fear that you might get in trouble/people will think you’re overreacting?

…you’ve ever gotten frustrated when people use gendered language (guys, dude, sir/ma’am)?

…you’ve ever felt unwelcome in professional/academic spaces?

… you’ve ever had to switch the way you present yourself in different settings (appearance, clothes/style, language/speech, name/pronouns, etc.)

Inspiration for game:

art at the university: the early days

This week’s #BeConnected Explore Our Campus looks at the first years of art at the University of Stirling.

An exhibition of Francis Davison’s collages in the MacRobert Gallery in 1971

The tradition of collecting art at the University of Stirling goes back to its founding in 1967. It was decided from the start that one per cent of the capital cost of new buildings should be made available for works of art, to improve the internal and external environment.

An Art Committee was formed and this made decisions about these early purchases, taking advice from art experts in Scotland at the time. Douglas Hall, first Keeper of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, was invited to join this committee and he encouraged the University to develop an art policy and to purchase and exhibit notable works. This was felt to be especially important as no other such major art collection existed locally. Click here to see a short film about the beginnings of the collection.

In these early days, site-specific works were commissioned and an excellent example of this is the wall-mounted steel sculptural panel by Mary Martin which was originally designed for the Pathfoot Dining Room, where it can be seen above during the 1971 graduation ceremony. It now hangs in the Crush Hall – you can read more about the piece here.‌

Major works were also borrowed, such as Barbara Hepworth‘s iconic sculpture ‘Figure (Archaean)’ (shown above) which came on permanent loan from the Scottish Arts Council, was subsequently gifted, and has remained in the same Pathfoot courtyard ever since.

‘Cadmium and Light Red’ by Patrick Heron
(Oil on canvas, 1967)
Purchased from the Waddington Galleries, London, for the new Art Collection in 1967

Works were acquired chiefly from galleries such as the Waddington in London, the Compass Gallery in Glasgow and the Richard Demarco Gallery in Edinburgh. The fine works collected in that period were by contemporary artists, in keeping with the modernist architecture of the Pathfoot Building.  They included paintings by Patrick Heron, Sir Robin Philipson, Michael Tyzack and Jon Schueler and sculptures by Eduardo Paolozzi and Justin Knowles. Along with the major gift of 14 paintings by eminent Scottish Colourist J D Fergusson, these were displayed around the Pathfoot Building, making art and culture part of the everyday experience at the University. This was the stated aim of the first Prinicipal Tom Cottrell, who, although a scientist, was also a knowledgeable art connoisseur who believed that artworks should be accessible to all. These early acquisitions perfectly expressed the spirit of the age and Tom Cottrell’s confident hopes for the new University. As Douglas Hall recalled in 2011 ‘ Abstract art held the field. All right, the art we bought in those few years could shock.  But it was a visual shock, not a moral one.  People missed the old themes, and were dazzled by the bright colours and vivid shapes.  These were just what Principal Cottrell wanted.’

‘Albinoni’s Screen’ by Michael Tyzack
(Acrylic on cotton, 1964)
Purchased from the Richard Demarco Gallery for the new Art Collection in 1967

The commissioning and purchasing of artworks however was only part of the art story at Stirling. Students and staff in the late 1960s and early 1970s also had the opportunity to listen to an annual art lecture given by an expert art critic and accompanied by a major exhibition, and there was a constantly changing, rich and varied programme of temporary exhibitions, which were organised by Matilda Mitchell, the first art curator.

At first pictures were hung in Pathfoot around the spacious main concourse and A corridor, with the long-since disappeared ‘J Lounge’ upstairs being used for smaller exhibitions of local artists. Sometimes the works were for sale (the Collection also acquired works in this way), and there were also touring exhibitions from the Scottish Arts Council eg drawings by Albrecht Durer, and paintings by Joan Eardley. Exhibitions organised by Stirling also sometimes subsequently went on tour to other locations in the UK.

From 1971 onwards, there was a specially allocated gallery space (see photo above) in the newly built MacRobert Centre, and as Matilda Mitchell recalls, the many exhibitions were not restricted to that space but also ‘crept into the foyer, indeed into the small foyer on the way in to the little theatre, along the walls to the café and eventually outside into the grounds’. 

Several catalogues and price lists have survived from these early days. The Art Collection purchased the work below – ‘Plum Tree I’ – from this Duncan Shanks exhibition at the MacRobert Gallery in 1973.

‘Plum Tree I’ by Duncan Shanks
(Watercolour and chalk)

Temporary exhibitions did not always consist of pictures. Matilda Mitchell recalls one more unusual show:

For some six months, large boxes of about 4ft x 3ft, filled with local earth, occupied two or three of the car parking spaces outside Garden Cottage.  This became one of the centre points of the Mark Boyle show. He always worked with his wife Joan Hills as collaborator but when his two children grew up they all worked together and the exhibitions became the Boyle Family exhibitions.  What grew in these boxes was just what was already in the soil and what the wind brought.  Wild flowers flourished and when we brought the boxes into the Gallery, they flourished better still and the spiders were able greatly to increase their webs.  As you would expect, going into an art gallery, we put in our ‘art viewing’ lenses and suddenly nature’s casual offerings became objects of great natural beauty and fascination.
They also replicated several large sections of London pavements in resin, complete with slabs, kerbs, gutters, cigarette butts, in one a discarded trainer, and assorted pleasing rubbish. With art gallery lenses firmly in place, these too became images of compelling interest.  But could we see clearly enough to purchase?  I am afraid not. They were expensive.  It was a wonderful show.

Matilda Mitchell speaking at The Principal’s Art Lecture in 2007

 As well as these temporary exhibitions, staff and students were also given the opportunity to purchase good quality fine art prints when London Graphic Arts set up shop in the J lounge. For two years running (1968 and 69), over £1000 worth of pictures were sold in three days. The Art Collection enjoyed a 10% commission on sales, which also helped to fill the walls of the staff offices and lectures rooms. The Victor Vasarely print below was purchased for the Collection at the first of these sales.

‘Composition’ by Victor Vasarely
(Screenprint, 94/175, 1968)

As the permanent collection grew, works were displayed in the new University buildings as they were completed. Below, a work entitled ‘Frosted Window’ by Barbara Balmer (purchased in 1973) is seen hanging in the staff room, in Cottrell.

Not all art initiatives were successful however. A scheme to offer framed prints on loan to students for their rooms was abandoned due to lack of interest.

This student seems to have preferred Led Zeppelin.
Art Curator Jane Cameron discusses the history and architecture of the macrobert Arts Centre on campus.

“WNYC Mobilizes For Harlem Emergency”

On the evening of August 1, 1943, a riot in Harlem reportedly began after a white policeman shot and wounded an African-American soldier who had been charged by the officer with interfering in the arrest of a black woman in the lobby of a hotel on West 126th Street. (The audio above dates from August 1). City officials and Harlem civic leaders used WNYC to help quell the violence that followed.   

Bystanders gather to look over a pile of merchandise scattered over the sidewalk in front of a pawnshop at 145th Street and Eighth Avenue, August 2, 1943, an aftermath of Harlem disorders.
(AP Photo)

False rumors that the soldier was killed by the officer spread rapidly and provoked an outburst of window smashing, fires, overturning of cars, and attacks on police. Property damage was estimated at as much as $5 million (1943 dollars). Five hundred people were arrested for rioting, looting, and assault. Five people were killed, and 400 were wounded. The rioting was noted, at the time, as the most violent disturbance in Harlem’s history. 

Mayor La Guardia with educator Dr. Max Yergan and union leader Ferdinand Smith near the scene of disorder, August 2, 1943.
(International News Photo/WNYC Archive Collections)

Mayor La Guardia imposed a curfew, and 8,000 National Guardsmen were ordered on standby. Leaders of the NAACP, National Urban League, and Councilman Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., praised the police response and said the disturbance was not a race riot but the result of “criminal hoodlum elements.” Powell, who would become the neighborhood’s  Congressman from 1945-1967, blamed the riot on poor economic conditions and “a blind smoldering and unorganized resentment against Jim Crow treatment of Negro men in the armed forces and the unusual high rents and cost of living forced upon the Negroes of Harlem.”[1] 

WNYC, the lead station of the city-owned Municipal Broadcasting System, an agency reporting directly to the Mayor, was enlisted in the effort to bring peace to Harlem. A leading goal was to make sure everyone knew the soldier was alive. They also sought to make the Mayor’s message, and that of community leaders urging residents to return to the safety of their homes, available to other stations and throughout the streets of Harlem. This was station director Morris Novik‘s official account.



WNYC News Release on Harlem emergency, page 4, August, 1943.
(Vertical files/NYC Municipal Archives)

Mayor F. H. La Guardia’s August 2, 1943 broadcast over WNYC.

The progressive and ad-free tabloid PM ran the following piece on August 3, 1943 on the incident that ignited the violence.

From the tabloid PM’s August 3, 1943 coverage of the disturbances in Harlem.
(WNYC Archive Collections)

While the newspaper highlighted Mayor La Guardia’s emphasis that the disturbance was not a “race riot,” in the sense of blacks fighting whites, “the incidence and underlying causes of the outbreak, however, were racial.” Indeed, white-owned businesses (particularly pawnshops and groceries) were targeted in the uprising as the residents of Harlem were all too aware of the contrast between the touted ideals of America and the reality of their daily lives. Their often dire social and economic conditions, especially the job and housing discrimination, revealed the nation’s thin veneer of ‘freedom and democracy.’ The author Ralph Ellison covered the riot for the New York Post[2] and described the rioting largely as revenge. 


In the distance there suddenly came the sound of a voice speaking over a loud speaker. Soon we saw a WNYC truck approaching. The speaker, speaking in the name of the Negro Neighborhood Victory Committee, asked the people to return to their homes. He assured them that the soldier had not been killed, and that Mayor La Guardia had promised that fair judgement would be done. The crowd applauded and cheered, then returned to its looting activities…In talking with the people along the sidewalks, I get the impression that they were giving way to resentment over the price of food and other necessities, police brutality, and the general indignities borne by Negro soldiers.[3]


Ellison would revisit the riot as fiction in the final chapter of his 1952 novel, Invisible Man.


‘I tell you they mad over what happen to that young fellow, what’s his name…’

We were passing a building now and I heard a voice calling frantically, ‘Colored store! Colored store!’ ‘Then put up a sign, motherfouler,’ a voice said. ‘You probably as rotten as the others.’ ‘Listen at the bastard. For one time in his life he’s glad to be colored,’ Scofield said. ‘Colored store,’ the voice went on automatically.[4]


The prejudice suffered by African-Americans at the hands of a nearly all-white police force made the struggle against systemic bigotry worse. And the imposed sacrifices of domestic wartime rationing to support America’s military –a military intent on keeping in step with Jim Crow segregation, was more salt in the wound. PM quoted NAACP executive secretary Walter White as saying, “The mistreatment of Negro soldiers is a terribly sore point with Negroes. This is the beginning of the trouble. Had it been a Negro civilian, however prominent, who was shot, there would have been no riot.”[5]


In 1943 Yale sociologist Harold Orlansky concluded the riot was protest against the property and authority used to oppress the people of Harlem.[6]
(WNYC Archive Collections)

The Harlem riot came at a vulnerable time, the mid-point of the United States’ involvement in World War II. The event in New York was also not an isolated incident but followed in the wake of the Los Angeles ‘Zoot Suit Riots’ and race-related disturbances in other American cities that summer. The upheavals threatened morale and cohesiveness on the home front when the country was bogged down in two different theaters of war. Mayor La Guardia and other leaders were keen to do whatever was necessary to ‘keep a lid’ on African-American dissatisfaction and complaints, in light of the critical role played by minority units in supporting white combat troops on the front lines of a strictly segregated military. 


Only a few months earlier, WNYC and other New York stations aired the series, Unity at Home, Victory Abroad, a program urging city residents to take tolerance and unity to heart because prejudice undermines America’s efforts to win the war. At the time, many African-Americans saw this cooperation with the war effort, both on the home front and in the military, as a proving ground for which their loyalty and willingness to carry on would bring rewards in the post-war period with greater freedoms and less discrimination. The war ended in victory for America and its allied forces in 1945 but, as history has shown, victory’s promised rewards for African-Americans were few. And seventy-five years after America helped vanquish injustice in Europe and Japan, its fight at home for civil, social, and economic rights rages on. 


[1] “Delany and Powell Find High Prices Incite Negroes,” The New York Sun, August 2, 1943, pg. 1. 

[2] During World War II the New York Post was a liberal newspaper owned by Dorothy Schiff. 

[3] Ellison, Ralph, “All of Harlem Was Awake,” New York Post, August 2, 1943, reprinted in Reporting Civil Rights, Part One: American Journalism 1941-1963, The Library of America, 2003, pgs. 50-51. 

[4] Ellison, Ralph, Invisible Man, Vintage Books edition 1972, pg. 529.

[5] Stewart, Kenneth, “Dewey Orders State Guard to Stand By; Riots Leave Harlem Stores in Shambles,” PM, August 3, 1943, pg. 3.

[6] Harold Orlansky’s 29-page 1943 study was published in New York by Social Analysis, “a group which seeks to apply the techniques of social anthropology to studies of the contemporary American scene.” It is an important piece of work that approaches the event from a holistic perspective. Among the aspects worth noting is his description of the national and local African-American press as “agreeing almost unanimously with the white press’s analysis” of the disturbance. Only the Amsterdam News and the People’s Voice, wrote Orlansky, “made an attempt to point out underlying causes.” (Page 4 of the study).

Special thanks to NYPR’s Senior Archivist Daniel Sbardella and to the New York City Municipal Archives vertical files for the WNYC News Release and audio. 

Excerpt from “Behind the Mike,” September/October 1943, WNYC Masterwork Bulletin,
(WNYC Archive Collections)









What We Heard at the Virtual Public Meeting

The Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) held its first virtual meeting last month. The members used this occasion to publicly release their 2020 Report to the President, A Vision for the Digital Age: Modernization of the U.S. National Security Classification and Declassification System. They invited comments and discussion of their recommendations. During the meeting Steven Aftergood, of the “Secrecy News” blog sponsored by the Federation of American Scientists, served as commentator and provided his views on the recommendations, including the recommendation for the President to appoint a Cabinet head as the Executive Agent responsible for coordinating new policies and applying technologies to improve performance goals in classification and declassification across the Executive branch.

In addition to addressing the need to coordinate policies and the application of technology in managing the explosive volume of classified digital data, participants in the virtual public meeting discussed:

  • designating the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) as the Executive Agent to coordinate the modernization of classification and declassification across the Federal Government;
  • developing new metrics and measures for understanding how the government creates, uses, stores and works with all information in the digital space, including the actual line item costs of classification and declassification across agencies;
  • applying Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies already in use at agencies in mission-focused areas to support specific performance goals in classification and declassification;
  • simplifying classification into a two-tiered system;
  • prioritizing topics of public interest for potential declassification; and
  • expanding the focus on individual instances to develop a broader consensus on questions of overclassification;

The PIDB looks forward to continuing discussions with the public and with stakeholders inside and outside of government. There is consensus that the current system is failing. The recommendations in this report aim to help Government modernize the classification and declassification system.


Object of the week

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

2 Stainless Steel Forms with White
Justin Knowles
(Steel, 1969)

The art object from the permanent collection that we are focusing on this week is this striking sculpture by Justin Knowles. Situated on the side of the small loch by the MacRobert Centre, on one side steel and the other painted white, it was commissioned for this location by the University Art Collection in 1970, enabled by the donation of £500 from the British Steel Corporation.

A University press release of the time states that ‘the sculpture was created utilising a technique normally applied to aircraft manufacture instead of welding: the stainless steel was resin-bonded to an alloy honeycomb frame. This method reduces the weight of the structure and eliminates the danger of surface distortion whilst ensuring that it can sustain structural stresses. Although resin-bonding has been extensively used in the aircraft industry, it is the first time that the technique has been adopted for sculpture.’

Born in Exeter, Justin Knowles was encouraged to take up art by school teachers but discouraged by his father. He tried a number of other careers before visiting New York in 1965 and deciding to take up art properly at the age of 30. Though he lacked formal training he enjoyed success immediately, and quickly established an impressive reputation as a boldly inventive painter. Using a limited range of acrylic colours straight from the pot, he produced shaped canvases and free-standing shapes.

‘These were not painted sculptures; they remained paintings, the paint working across the physical form rather than following it’.

Obituary, David Buckman, April 2004 The Independent

This sculpture was commissioned for the brand new University campus during that period. W J Strachan (1984) explained that white was added ‘to help the eye to separate the rising columns of his sculpture ‘Steel Forms’ at the University of Southampton, whereas here, it is added to harmonise with the white building and make an agreeable contrast with the green lawn.’
At the press conference held to mark the handing over of the sculpture, Dr Tom Cottrell, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: “We feel we have a duty to staff and students to provide an environment in which the arts play a full part….we feel that it is important in our comparatively rural setting that we should provide some of the things which students take for granted in say Glasgow or London. And the artist said: “Stirling University is exceptional in its ready appreciation of the functions of arts as part of the environment.”

Tragically, a studio fire in 1973 destroyed most of Justin Knowles’ work, and he would not exhibit again until the 1990s. His final years were successful again, and Winchester and Exeter cathedrals commissioned sculptures.

‘D. Yellow’ by Justin Knowles
(Screenprint, A/P, 1971)

A special series of four prints (originally published by the artist in 1968) was made by Justin Knowles in 1971, to commemorate the installation of his sculpture on campus. These were presented to four key persons involved in the beginnings of the new University which had been founded in 1967.

A. Black, C. Red and D. Yellow were given respectively to Douglas Hall, (first Keeper of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and member of the University art committee), Tom Cottrell (first Principal of the University), and John Richards (Architect of the Pathfoot Building). These three have subsequently been gifted to the Art Collection. The whereabouts of the fourth print (B. Black) is unknown.

Commemorating the 19th Amendment Centennial

Today’s post comes from Debra Steidel Wall, Deputy Archivist of the United States and Commissioner on the Congressional Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission.

As the home of the 19th Amendment, the National Archives invites you to join our virtual commemoration of the centennial of the Constitutional amendment that guaranteed that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

House Joint Resolution 1 proposing the 19th amendment to the states. National Archives Identifier 596314

This August, we will explore the complex story of the struggle for women’s suffrage, leading up to and beyond the certification of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920. The campaign for women’s suffrage was long, difficult, and often dramatic. The National Archives holds the records that help tell this story, including petitions, legislation, court cases, and more. 

Join us online as we highlight records from our holdings and examine the fight for women’s voting rights through virtual public programs for all ages.

Visit our 19th Amendment Centennial Events page to view and sign up for a full schedule of events, programs and activities. We will be adding more events and providing links as they become available.

Photograph of a Suffrage Parade in New York City. National Archives Identifier 593556

You can also visit the Women’s Rights page for a wide variety of women’s rights topics, stories from our exhibit, Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote, and a chance to participate in tagging and transcription missions on records related to women’s rights

Finally, from August 18 to 26, the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, and many Presidential Libraries across the country will light up in purple and gold, the colors of the suffrage movement, from sunset to dawn. This lighting is part of the nationwide Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission (WSCC) Forward Into Light Campaign, named in honor of the historic suffrage slogan, “Forward through the Darkness, Into the Light.” I am proud to represent the National Archives on this Commission, which also offers a full month of commemorative activities. 

Employees across the National Archives have been planning this commemoration for more than a year. I’m thankful for their hard work and for their resourcefulness and creativity in developing an exciting observance of this landmark event as our own current public health events changed around us. 

We are honored to be the home of the 19th Amendment and to commemorate its 100th anniversary with the American people.

Michael McClure: In Memoriam

A black and white photograph of four men against the backdrop of a wall and a door. The photo style is relaxed and candid.
Robbie Robertson, Michael McClure, Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg in the alley behind City Lights Books, San Francisco, 1965.

On May 4th of this year, one of the great geniuses of poetry and the arts passed away, and we wanted to take a moment here to commemorate his passing. Michael McClure helped launch the counterculture Beat generation alongside Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Philip Whalen, and Diane Di Prima, and is also associated with The San Francisco Renaissance school of poetry along with Kenneth Rexroth, Jack Spicer, Robin Blaser, Joanne Kyger, David Meltzer, and Robert Duncan, his mentor at San Francisco State. 

A tan book cover with a black spine, with alternating color text on the cover: Touching the Edge (burgundy, very large), Michael McClure (Black, Very large), Dharma Devotions from the Hummingbird Sangha (Burgundy, smaller). Text is under an image that appears to be a hand arising out of some kind of script or inky shape.
Cover for Touching the Edge by Michael McClure

McClure’s groundbreaking work transformed our understanding of the relationship of the poet/artist to nature. He helped pioneer our thinking on ecology and illuminated the connection between human expression and the expression of all living things. While often remembered for his poetry, McClure was also a playwright, essayist, and his performance collaborations defined a new way of bringing the audience to poetry. McClure’s Meat Science Essays was a clarion call to liberation. His play, The Beard, rocked the comfortable sensibilities of the theater-going public, leading to censorship battles and boarded-up theaters. That play would go on to win an Obie for “Best Play” and “Best Director.” His performances with musicians Ray Manzarek from The Doors and the minimalist composer Terry Riley explored the bardic tradition and brought poetry to pop culture with relentless mastery. 

FSU Special Collections and Archives is fortunate to hold materials, both in our rare books and manuscript collections, that chronicle the life of Michael McClure through his close relationship with Michael Rothenberg, FSU Libraries Poet-in-Residence.

Two men seated in a bookstore. One, Michael Rothenberg, has his arm around the other, Michael McClure. Rothenberg looks directly at the camera while McClure is examining a book in his lap.
Michael R. and Michael M. in recent years.

Rothenberg’s personal papers and book collection document the network of artists and thinkers that comprised the Beat Generation and San Francisco Renaissance movements. We are fortunate to have McClure’s official publications in our book collections, but also personal items from McClure from Rothenberg’s association with him through the years.


michael bromeliad
A Bromeliad named after Rothenberg from his time working at the nursery in Pacifica.

Michael Rothenberg first encountered a copy of McClure’s Meat Science Essays when he was seventeen in Miami Beach. He recalls, “McClure’s work was a gateway to a greater understanding of the poet in the natural world. He gave me permission to express myself in a language that was indigenous to me. He offered a kind of thinking and concern that became my path. He blew my mind.” Then, something like ten years later, Rothenberg was 

Cover of The Mammals by McClure

introduced to McClure at Rothenberg’s orchid and bromeliad nursery in Pacifica, CaliforniaThey went hiking together, shared many lunches, and almost instantly became very close friends. “I felt that we were kindred spirits,” Rothenberg remembers, “Everything that McClure had set out in his work was what I was looking for as a poet and as a mammal.”





Click to view slideshow.

Meat Science Essays Inscription

Eventually, Rothenberg and McClure would travel to Florida together to read at the Miami Book Fair. During that trip, Rothenberg took McClure out on a tour of the Everglades, “to show him the nature that I grew up with,” Rothenberg says. It was there that McClure signed the old, tattered copy of Meat Science Essays that Rothenberg read when he was seventeen, the book that opened Rothenberg’s eyes to ecology-based writing. 




Click to view slideshow.

McClure had a distinct writing style, and Rothenberg describes it like this: “McClure’s writing is cosmic. Open, romantic, haiku-ish, abstract, specific, concrete, and light-filled. You can hear the roar of lions, and the throbbing of a living cell in each word and breath he speaks.” 

“I will miss him dearly,” Rothenberg said, “but I know that his work will inform and enlighten generations to come.”



More reading on Michael McClure’s legacy: 

McClure Bibliography:

“The Flame Is Ours”, Michael McClure correspondence with Stan Brakhage ,edited by Christopher Luna…/Luna_McClu…/THE_FLAME_IS_OURS.pdf ,

“Engraving of Snakes”, a chapbook by Michael McClure with illustrations by Nancy Victoria Davis,


A special thank you to Michael Rothenberg for participating in writing this blog post, and for sharing his personal memories of Michael McClure. 

Garden Cottage

This week’s #BeConnected Explore Our Campus looks at a little known part of the campus which played a very important role in the University’s history, Garden Cottage. Garden Cottage is located near Airthrey Castle beside Gardens and Grounds at the University.

Prior to the University being established in 1967 the Airthey Estate where the University stands had been in various hands. The owner who had the single greatest impact on the present landscape was Robert Haldane, who between 1787 and 1798 created the loch, employed Thomas White (Senior) to assist with the designed landscape, and built Airthrey Castle.

During this time most of the estate were laid out as parkland, but to the north of the Castle there was a more intimate area, containing the practical supporting buildings upon which the smooth running of the household depended. These included an icehouse, stables and offices, Ivy cottage and Garden Cottage.

Garden Cottage was contained within a walled garden and would have been appreciated from the Estate East Drive. The character of the bricks in the surviving walls of the walled garden suggest a late 18th or early 19th century date. Originally it would have been fitted with glasshouses along the north wall.

Gardeners Magazine described the garden in 1842 as “perfect as regards culture and neatness and the abundance and fine quality of fruit”. The position of this cottage within the walled garden was carefully chosen, and its front elevation included an elegant porch. The building still contains some 18th century joinery and fireplaces

In 1965 when the new University was established Garden Cottage took on new importance and became the epicentre of the new University as home of the first University offices. Its use was short lived as by 1966 there were 27 members of staff which proved to be too much for it and adjacent Ivy Cottage.

However, during this brief period of use those who came to the University remember visiting these offices. The first Curator of the Art Collection Matilda Mitchell recalls that the original idea for an Art Collection began in Garden Cottage with a conversation with Principal Tom Cottrell.

When we first moved into Garden Cottage, my boss and hero said “Matilda, better fill up the place with pictures: try the Scottish Arts Council”.  After a very civilised lunch in Edinburgh with the director, I brought back paintings and prints (artists’ prints) for our walls. 

Public Lecture, Matilda Mitchell, 2007

The memories of those who worked in the University have been captured by the Stirling University Retired Staff Association and you can listen to former staff including Curator Matilda Mitchell recalling their experiences of life at the new University.

Garden Cottage is no longer in use. However, the Art Collection aspires to gain funding to restore the building to its former glory to be used as an artist and writers retreat.

Curator Jane Cameron discusses the history of Garden Cottage

Birthday Wishes For Emmett Till

Saturday will mark what would have been Emmett Till’s 79th birthday. Conversation and scholarship around Emmett Till and his place in the mid-century American Civil Right Movement usually focuses on his 1955 kidnapping, murder, and the ensuing trial, and rightfully so. But today, to commemorate the anniversary of his birth, FSU Special Collections & Archives shares here some primary sources documenting his abbreviated life.

Emmett Louis Till was born on July 25, 1941, at Cook County Hospital, Chicago, Illinois, to Mamie Till. He was named for his father Louis and his mother’s uncle, Emmett Carthan. Till was rarely called “Emmett” by family; he was frequently nicknamed “Bobo” or “Bo”. In 2018, Mamie’s cousin Thelma Wright Edwards reminisced with filmmaker Keith Beauchamp about Till’s birth, his nickname, and helping take care of young Emmett:

“Mamie had a little boy…”, from the Wright Family Interview, Beauchamp Recordings,
FSU Special Collections & Archives.

In 1947, relatives moved from Money, Mississippi to live next-door to Till and his mother in Argo, Illinois. Till’s second cousin Wheeler Parker Jr. was of a similar age and they became good friends. Parker and other family members shared their memories of young Emmett with Beauchamp for the 2005 documentary The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till (Parker’s interview is featured at about 1:42):

On December 27, 1954, a family friend took photos of Emmett and Mamie, with Emmett sporting new clothes he had received as Christmas presents that year. These are the last known images of Till before his lynching, and have played a key part in court proceedings and publications ever since.

We can only speculate as to what the next sixty-five years of Emmett Till’s life would have brought, had he come back from his trip to Mississippi in 1955, or never gone at all. Author Devery Anderson offered this passage about Till’s aspirations in his 2005 book Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement:

“Like most kids, Emmett thought about his future, and he talked about becoming a motorcycle cop or a professional baseball player. He had dreams of building his grandmother a new church and even talked of joining the air force after he heard that a boy could sign up at sixteen with a parent’s permission.”

In 2018, Mamie Till’s cousin Willie Wright told Beauchamp that, upon his joining the US Army in 1955, Till told him “I wish I was old enough, I’d go too.”

Which dream would have come true? All of them? None of them? No one can say, which is of course the deepest wound when children are taken from us – the loss of a life’s potential, sixty-five birthday wishes that were never made.

This weekend presents many opportunities for one to commemorate of Emmett Till. If you mark the occasion by attending events like this one, or reviewing American civil rights history, we invite you to remember Till the boy as well as Till the historical figure, and consider what might have been.

Sources and Further Reading

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

Devery Anderson. (2015). Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.

Keith Beauchamp (director). (2005). The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till [motion picture]. USA: Velocity/Thinkfilm.

Florida State University Digital Library. Emmett Till Archives.

Emmett Till Interpretive Center, Sumner, Mississippi.

Emmett Till Memory Project.

New York Public Library Schomburg Center For Research In Black Culture. Emmett Till Project.

Florida State University Libraries. Emmett Till Archives [research guide].

object of the week

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

Large Green, Swiss
John Hoyland
(Lithograph, 8/75, 1968)

John Hoyland‘s art used simple shapes, high-key colour and, later, texture and the movement of paint to evoke a world of emotion and imagination. He disliked the ‘abstract’ label and described himself as ‘a painter’.

Small Grey, Swiss
Lithograph, A/P, 1968

Born in Sheffield, John Hoyland was one of Britain’s leading abstract painters. He studied at Sheffield School of Art and at the Royal Academy. From the early 1960s onwards he achieved international recognition for a body of work that eliminates literal depiction of the observed world.

Oil on canvas, 1970

Hoyland’s early works were identified by their date of completion. This painting was purchased for the new Art Collection from the Waddington Galleries in London.
Novelist William Boyd, a great admirer and collector of Hoyland’s work, calls such pieces ‘a pure visual delight’, and adds that his ‘large canvases of the 1960s prove that, as a colourist working in abstraction, Hoyland is unmatched. Between the early 1960s and the early 1970s, he produced work of tremendous ambition and audacity, with an impact that is almost palpable, and that should finally prompt a posthumous recognition that he is a modern British master – one of the great abstract painters of the 20th century.’ (William Boyd’s 2015 Guardian article can be read here)

Reds, Greens
(Screenprint, 1969)

After several works had been purchased from the Waddington Galleries by the new University of Stirling, Leslie Waddington made a generous donation of several prints, including those shown here, to the Art Collection. Matilda Mitchell, the first art curator, explained that ‘it was because we were keen to buy pictures, to show pictures and to build up a collection, that we were given these’.

‘If John Hoyland hadn’t existed, it would have been necessary to have invented him….’ Watch a 1977 BBC Arena film about the artist here…

In Memoriam: Katherine “Kitty” Blood Hoffman

From the 1934 Flastacowo. View the digital item here

We are saddened to hear of the passing of Katherine “Kitty” Blood Hoffman. Hoffman has had a relationship with Florida State University and its predecessor institutions since the 1930s. She was a student, a professor, and an administrator during her time with the University and continued to be active after her retirement.

Katherine Blood Hoffman began attending Florida State College for Women in the 1930s, and graduated in 1936 with a degree in bacteriology. During her time at FSCW, Hoffman became president of the College Government Association and became a member of several student organizations, including Phi Beta Kappa, Esteren, and Mortar Board.

Hoffman graduated from Columbia University in 1938 with a master’s degree. She began working as faculty at Florida State College for Women in 1940 and became a professor of chemistry in 1973. From 1967 to 1970 Hoffman served as the Dean of Women for Florida State University. She also served as the president of the Faculty Senate from 1980 to 1982. She retired from teaching in 1984 and the Katherine B. Hoffman Teaching Laboratory was dedicated in her honor. In 2007, she was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Science.

Graduation photograph, 1936

After retiring Hoffman served as a board member for the FSU Alumni Association and trustee for the FSU Foundation. She also serves as chairwoman of the Emeritus Alumni Society and co-chairwoman of FSU’s Sesquicentennial Celebration.

Hoffman and her husband established a major scholarship in chemistry, the $100,000 Katherine Blood Hoffman Endowed Scholarship in Chemistry. Hoffman also created the Katherine Blood Hoffman Endowed Lectureship in Environmental Chemistry Fund, the Hank and Prescott Hoffman Fund for Biological Research Conducted Toward Preserving the Wakulla River, the Katherine Blood Hoffman Symposia in the Liberal Arts Fund, the Katherine Blood Hoffman Scholarship Fund in Chemistry, and an Alumni Center Fund.

Katherine Hoffman paved the way for women in the sciences and set up many lasting initiatives to better science and the FSU community. She will be greatly missed.

From the 1934 Flastacowo. View the digital item here
From the 1936 Flastacowo. View the digital item here

TRANSforming the Stacks

This post is one of a series..png

***Trigger Warning: trans slurs/derogatory terms***


Kacee Reguera (she/her/hers)


Our first submission is from Kacee Reguera, a recently-graduated student worker, who has been with Special collections for 2 years. While this project was geared towards the full-time staff, I chose to highlight her contribution first because I’m happy to see this conversation being engaged with by everyone in the community. Getting students involved in this process ensures that the conversation continues in the next generation of professionals.



The object she found is How to Transition on 63 Cents a Day by Lee Krist, which is an unbound letterpress-printed artists’ book by a transgender man that describes the author’s transition and coming out story through postcards addressed to his mother and other ephemera. It is a very intimate story meant to bring us into his gender and family experience in a personal way. When students interact with it, they report feeling as though they’re digging through a collection of personal memories, like an act of voyeurism. This book was published in 2013, making it fairly recent.


Video Excerpt of How to Transition on 63 Cents a Day by Lee Krist, 2013

Though How to Transition on 63 Cents a Day is an amazing book that is well designed and a beautifully told story, and I’m excited for the opportunity to share the text here, it does not qualify for the challenge I initially raised. This project is geared towards highlighting queer and trans BIPOC voices, which are sorely lacking in FSU Special Collections and Archives. Kacee’s efforts to provide an example, though not exactly what I was looking for, both demonstrates this lack and creates an opportunity to explore problems in subject headings for these materials. 

Keeping in mind that this is a queer and trans-focused project, it is important that we also recognize history. Black and Latinx trans women were at the forefront of the fight for queer rights. Aside from throwing the first brick, which is still a point of contention, BIPOC trans individuals were at the apex of the queer rights movement and that is something that all institutions must acknowledge and recognize when collecting these histories. As FSU’s Pride Union was founded the same year as the start of the Stonewall Riots, I feel that this holds especially true for us. Out of the three titles that appear when you search the term “transgender,” none of them are by queer or trans people of color. Equitability and accessibility must be taken into consideration at all library levels, from acquisitions to cataloging.

Reina Gossett: Historical Erasure as Violence from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

How to Transition on 63 Cents a Day is a great text and has been very useful in giving some insight into the trans experience. Many in our library commonly pick it when they want LGBTQ+ related materials. However, when I looked at the catalog record for it, I discovered outdated and now offensive terms are found in the “Subjects, general” section of the entry. I don’t have a libraries degree (yet), and I have only been working with Special Collections for a year, but it blew my mind that these derogatory terms made it into a catalog record for a book published this decade. After ranting to my roommate for 30 minutes on the impact of white supremacy in library settings, I wanted to know where these terms came from. 

In order to unpack these issues, a little background is needed, and I thought I’d share what I discovered in the process of my research. 


Subject Headings for How to Transition on 63 cents a Day

In an attempt to standardize the organization and classification of information, the Library of Congress developed a list of terms to be referenced and used when creating records for materials. This list is one of the banks that institutions may pull search terms from when intaking materials into their system. Terms were chosen based on what they thought the ‘average patron’ would search to find materials about a certain topic… 

Take a guess what the ‘average patron’ looked like to these information gatekeepers. Search headings for identity groups were, it seems, determined by what they thought a cisgender heterosexual affluent white christian male would search to find it. The record for How to Transition on 60 Cents a Day is evidence of this historical practice. The thing that’s particularly cruel about this is queer and trans people (or any marginalized person for that matter) has to comb through slurs and strife to even look at their own history.

Click here for the article I referenced for this section.


Just because a subject heading exists does not mean institutions are required to adhere to them. Cataloging decisions and methodologies are governed by best practices, but the ultimate decision lies within the jurisdiction of the institution. In the next blog post in this series, I will be exploring current/best practices and the ways they perpetuate outdated/derogatory terminology. I especially want to take a look at copy cataloging as a practice, and how we can/will intervene when a copied record contains terminology that needs to be addressed.

Quick queer and trans history:

A quick overview of queer history:

A cursory overview of trans history:


How to Transition

The Campus as Inspiration

Explore Our Campus this week looks at the campus and University collections as the inspiration for new works of art, music, sound and writing.

No one who spends any time at Stirling does not stop every so often and appreciate the beautiful surroundings. The Art Collection are committed to finding new ways for visitors to engage with art and the natural environment at the University. This week’s blog looks at several projects which have drawn on the campus and collections as inspiration

During the course of the 50th anniversary year in 2017 Suzy Angus and Janieann Macracken spent the year recording the sounds of Pathfoot building. The resulting sound installation reflected the architecture and fabric of the Pathfoot building as well as the people who work and study within.  

Loch Bridge by 2017 artist in residence Alan Dimmick

In the same year photographer Alan Dimmick was the Art Collection’s Photographer in Residence. His remit was to capture a ‘Portrait of the Campus’, exploring the unique natural, built and human environment of the University. Whilst the University archives and Art Collection held a collection of fine photographs from the early days of the University in the 1960s and ‘70s, relatively little had been done to document and explore the changing physical and human landscape of the campus in recent decades.  Alan’s residency contributed to redressing this balance.

Ally Wallace was artist in residence at the University in 2017. He spent two days a week at the Pathfoot Building for six months, making work that focused on the building – its Modernist architecture, art collection, relationship to surrounding picturesque parkland and its occupants. His exhibition Low-Rise High-Function at the University showcased work created during his residency. The Art Collection acquired two pieces Pathfoot Roof Ladders and Hanging Mobile from this time for our permanent collection.

Bertoia chairs were bought for every University office in 1967. There are several on public display in the Pathfoot Building. Film created by Ally Wallace during his residency at Stirling

The Pathfoot Building has been the location for the creation of other works including a series of still motion photo montages, which are part of the Red Shoes project (a Get Scotland Dancing activity run in conjunction with the Macrobert Arts centre). Three works including Pathfoot 2 below were added to the Art Collection in 2013. They are the work of Brian Hartley who studied illustration at Glasgow School of Art (1992-95) and is a Glasgow based artist whose multi-disciplinary work combines visual art and design, theatre and dance and extensive work in arts education.

Pathfoot 2 by Brian Hartley. University of Stirling Art Collection
Art Collection Curator Jane Cameron talks about the Loch Bridge which she loves architecturally and is inspired by

The Art Collection is regularly used by staff and students as inspiration for the creation of creative writing, art and music. We annually host the Pathfoot Project working in conjunction with the M.Litt in Creative Writing at Stirling who create wriiten pieces inspired by our exhibitions. This work is performed at our annual open day which also showcases musical compositions by students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

During lockdown our campus and collections have continued to inspire. We have been working with University Museums in Scotland (UMIS) on a joint project Capturing Lives in Scotland’s Communities. This project is particularly targeted at those from more disadvantaged areas throughout Scotland, encouraging them to explore their local communities using different forms of art. The 110 participants come from regions across Scotland, from the Borders all the way to the Orkney Islands. Participants have used the collections as inspiration, learnt new art skills and are working towards an Arts Award Explore qualification.

This week our #CapturingLives2020 project is exploring the medium of public art. Designed to be a creative and aesthetic…

Posted by UMIS on Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Last week’ theme was Public Art and Archaean by Barbara Hepworth was one of the featured public art pieces used to start pupils thinking how to create their own pieces of public art.

John Lewis at the March on Washington

John Lewis speaking April 16, 1964.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Congressman John Lewis (1940-2020) was with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders for the landmark March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963. Lewis was then chair of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) when he spoke these words at the Lincoln Memorial.

We march today for jobs and freedom, but we have nothing to be proud of. For hundreds and thousands of our brothers are not here. For they are receiving starvation wages, or no wages at all. While we stand here, there are sharecroppers in the Delta of Mississippi who are out in the fields working for less than three dollars a day. While we stand here there are students in jail on trumped-up charges. Our brother James Farmer, along with many others, is also in jail. We come here today with a great sense of misgiving.

It is true that we support the administration’s civil rights bill. We support it with great reservations, however.  Unless Title III is put in this bill, there is nothing to protect the young children and old women who must face police dogs and fire hoses in the South while they engage in peaceful demonstrations. In its present form, this bill will not protect the citizens of Danville, Virginia, who must live in constant fear of a police state. It will not protect the hundreds and thousands of people that have been arrested on trumped charges. What about the three young men, SNCC field secretaries in Americus, Georgia, who face the death penalty for engaging in peaceful protest?

As it stands now, the voting section of this bill will not help the thousands of black people who want to vote. It will not help the citizens of Mississippi, of Alabama and Georgia, who are qualified to vote, but lack a sixth-grade education.“One man, one vote” is the African cry. It is ours too. It must be ours!

We must have legislation that will protect the Mississippi sharecropper who is put off of his farm because he dares to register to vote. We need a bill that will provide for the homeless and starving people of this nation. We need a bill that will ensure the equality of a maid who earns five dollars a week in a home of a family whose total income is $100,000 a year. We must have a good FEPC bill.

My friends, let us not forget that we are involved in a serious social revolution. By and large, American politics is dominated by politicians who build their careers on immoral compromises and ally themselves with open forms of political, economic, and social exploitation. There are exceptions, of course.  We salute those. But what political leader can stand up and say, “My party is the party of principles”? For the party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?

Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march in the streets of Birmingham? Where is the political party that will protect the citizens of Albany, Georgia? Do you know that in Albany, Georgia, nine of our leaders have been indicted, not by the Dixiecrats, but by the federal government for peaceful protest? But what did the federal government do when Albany’s deputy sheriff beat Attorney C.B. King and left him half-dead? What did the federal government do when local police officials kicked and assaulted the pregnant wife of Slater King, and she lost her baby?

To those who have said, “Be patient and wait,” we must say that we cannot be patient. We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now! We do not want to go to jail. But we will go to jail if this is the price we must pay for love, brotherhood, and true peace.

I appeal to all of you to get into this great revolution that is sweeping this nation. Get in and stay in the streets of every city, every village and hamlet of this nation until true freedom comes, until the revolution of 1776 is complete. We must get in this revolution and complete the revolution. For in the Delta in Mississippi, in southwest Georgia, in the Black Belt of Alabama, in Harlem, in Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and all over this nation, the black masses are on the march for jobs and freedom.

They’re talking about slow down and stop. We will not stop. All of the forces of Eastland, Barnett, Wallace, and Thurmond will not stop this revolution. If we do not get meaningful legislation out of this Congress, the time will come when we will not confine our marching to Washington. We will march through the South; through the streets of Jackson, through the streets of Danville, through the streets of Cambridge, through the streets of Birmingham.  But we will march with the spirit of love and with the spirit of dignity that we have shown here today.

By the force of our demands, our determination, and our numbers, we shall splinter the segregated South into a thousand pieces and put them together in the image of God and democracy. We must say: “Wake up America! Wake up!” For we cannot stop, and we will not and cannot be patient.


Note: The above transcript of the our audio sourced from the National Archives/Voice of America broadcast, however, does not include the reported last paragraph of Lewis’ speech as well as a small portion of material from the third to last paragraph when compared to the text provided by University of Maryland’s Voices of Democracy Project: The U.S. Oratory Project.


Object of the week

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

Venice Window
Elizabeth Blackadder DBE RA RSA
(Oil on canvas, mid 1960s)

Elizabeth Blackadder is famous as the first woman artist to be elected to both the Royal Academy and the Royal Scottish Academy, and she has long been a friend of the University of Stirling’s Art Collection. We have acquired her works over a period of nearly 40 years through generous bequests, purchases and as gifts from the artist herself. Today we look at three of her still lifes in the Collection.
Elizabeth Blackadder first visited Venice in 1954, on a Carnegie Travelling Scholarship. As well as Venice and Brindisi in Italy she also visited Yugoslavia, then Athens and Thessaloniki in Greece. It was not practical for her to paint in oils during these scholarship travels and she mainly used brush, pen and ink. The painting above is likely to have been inspired by her visit to Venice, but was executed later. As with many of Blackadder’s still life works, the table featured here to the left is tilted almost vertically towards the viewer. Perspective though is regained as ones gaze turns to the colourful riches of Venice, glimpsed through the window. In the following short film Blackadder talks about a more recent trip to Venice, which inspired some print making.

There are two further large still lifes in the Art Collection at Stirling.

Still Life, Summer
Oil on canvas, 1963

This work is a typical example of one of Elizabeth Blackadder’s ‘flattened’ paintings. ‘The implied space of abstract painting, without conventional pictorial structure, allowed her, using an almost empty canvas or sheet of paper, to assemble a variety of objects in a free and seemingly random association. These representational elements provide a schema, but the painting is a poem built around them with its own internal logic’ (Duncan MacMillan in ‘Scottish Art 1460-1990’). Works such as this retain the form of the table, with the top raised to give the fullest view. Blackadder later dispensed with this method, using the surface of the canvas itself as the field on which objects appear. Here she is moving towards this, and only a suggestion of the table can be seen, with a definite tonal change on the left and right sides, indicating the edge of a table and a suggestion of a tablecloth edge at the bottom of the canvas. In fact the artist seems to have ensured that she has signed the work on the solid table, rather than on the draping fabric below. The objects here include a black coffee pot, which appears in a number of works of this period, a pair of clogs, a painted Easter egg and a coffee grinder. The objects featured in Blackadder’s still lifes of this time tend to reflect objects collected on travels – “an eclectic array of objects [which speak of her] fascination with the exotic” (Annabel Macmillan)

Still Life with Japanese Waterflower
Oil on canvas, 1973/4

The title here only gives a hint, but as Elizabeth Blackadder reveals in the following film, after she and her husband John Houston visited an exhibition of Japanese art they developed a great interest in this country, which they visited several times. Blackadder gathered Japanese artefacts, including a kimono, which appear in her paintings.

In 2012 the University of Stirling Art Collection held an exhibition entitled ‘Journeys Together’ which celebrated the 80th birthday of Elizabeth Blackadder and her creative relationship with her late husband John Houston. This exhibition was held in conjunction with the exhibition ‘Journeys from Home’ which ran at The Park Gallery in Falkirk (Blackadder’s birthplace). You can obtain a catalogue from these exhibitions by clicking here.

PIDB Posts Transcript of Virtual Public Meeting, Responds to Public Questions

The agenda and transcript of the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) Virtual Public Meeting held on June 5, 2020, is now available online here: PIDB Meetings – 2020.  The teleconference began an important discussion about the PIDB’s 2020 Report to the President, A Vision for the Digital Age: Modernization of the U.S. National Security Classification and Declassification System. To continue this discussion, and other topics of interest, the PIDB encourages you to post comments below, or by email to:

During the virtual meeting, PIDB members addressed several questions from the public. However, time did not allow responses to all questions received.  The following are the remaining questions that were not answered during the meeting:

  1. In advocating for a two-tier system (getting rid of confidential) to better align with how systems work, does the Board also advocate getting rid of SCI or SAP?

No, the Board does not advocate eliminating SCI or SAP when changing to a two-tiered classification system.  Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) and special access programs (SAPs) are types of controlled access programs and not a classification level.  Information at any classification level may exist within an SCI control system or contain SAP information.

  1. Why does the PIDB prefer a “cherry picked” topic-based approach to declassification as opposed to respecting records provenance and advocating for the prioritization for the review and declassification of specific “high interest” records series?

The Board sees the need to balance the declassification of “high interest” records series with topic-based prioritization which aims to target the records and information most sought-after by the public.  The Board also recognizes that while declassification of series of records is necessary for some classified textual records, declassification processes require modernization. The Board recognizes that traditional archival principles and practices for textual records no longer work in the electronic environment where metadata standards, Cloud storage, and access permissions/security are critical. Declassification processes must also modernize – moving from a textual-based analog system to one capable of dealing with large volumes of born digital classified records.

  1. Is there any consideration given to enabling researcher submission of electronic MDR appeals directly to NARA on electronic media (USB drive, etc.)?

The Board sees no objection to a researcher being able to submit an MDR request or appeal electronically.  NARA and the ISCAP accepts MDR requests or appeals electronically via email. There are likely security issues for accepting requests via a USB drive.

  1. Will the Public be able to learn what records are undergoing declassification reviews and the results?  Will there be changes in how the public accesses the declassified records?  The primary means of access are through the websites of agencies and presidential libraries or visiting the College Park National Archives or the presidential libraries.  Will these websites be greatly expanded?  With respect to College Park, massive numbers of permanent, classified records 25 years old and older are not even there although the retention periods have long expired.  For example, it holds very few records of the CIA, NSA, DIA, JCS, and FBI – a limited number are at the Washington National Records Center but the vast majority are at the agencies themselves.  Who will review these and how will the public access the declassified records?

The National Declassification Center at the National Archives is responsible for coordinating declassification reviews of records and currently lists record series prioritized for declassification on its website: The NDC is also responsible for reviewed classified Presidential records and materials for declassification. The National Archives is responsible for maintaining and updating its online catalog, including both series of records available for research as well as digital images for select records. The National Archives invites public comment on its blogs, including those related to public access. For records not yet in NARA’s legal custody, agencies are required to conduct declassification reviews.  In the new system we envision in our report, an Executive Committee led by the Director of National Intelligence and comprised of agencies, would offer implementation guidance for prioritizing declassification reviews that will allow improved access.



Sports take us out of ourselves

The Passing Hour, the magazine of the Stirling District Asylum which was published from 1901 up until the First World War, is a mine of information on life at the asylum. Side by side with the serialised stories written by staff and patients alike, are the reports of dances, theatre troupes and entertainers coming from all over the UK to put on a show for the patients, congratulations to staff as they pass their proficiency exams and almost unfailingly something about sport at the institution.

From The Passing Hour, we can tell that SDA had a full sporting calendar with cricket and bowling clubs which played all summer and football and the odd billiards tournament during the winter time. There’s even a passing mention of winter hockey in 1906 though it doesn’t crop up again. Did they abandon hockey? Or was The Passing Hour short of a hockey correspondent? For while we do dutifully receive a list of football fixtures and results every season there is rarely an additional comment on that sport; a billiards report might briefly dwell on handicaps and bowling tends to venture no further than an account of the annual opening of the green. But cricket. Cricket was the sport, cricket was the enthusiasm. That is, if the four page reports of the season, the team photographs and the occasional ‘cricket issue’ are anything to go by!

An amiable start to the summer of 1906

We can gather from the many reports and from the names of players which cannot be found in our admission registers that the teams were most often comprised of staff members. That patients were primarily spectators seems to be made clear in a report made by a patient in the April-May-June 1911 issue on the games day held in celebration of the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary:

Among the means for the amelioration of the mentally afflicted, rational, innocent amusement hold a prominent, if subordinate, place. The high pressure of modern life, its dangerous intricacies, the tendency to forget the calls of Nature in the pursuit of gold or even in one’s avocation, oft-times results in the breakdown both of bodily and mental health. To sit for a long time in a room is at least monotonous, and for the young to be compelled to sit long with only those of mature years becomes irksome. Sports, such as we enjoyed, take us for the time out of ourselves, and our very applause of successful performances affords a natural outlet for animal spirits.”

However, it would be incorrect to say that patients never took part at all. It seems from this report on batting averages from the September-October 1906 issue that patients made it onto the SDA Cricket Club team and for a most successful season.


Aside from team sports that played year in, year out, there were the occasional sports days where we know that both staff and patients took part in their droves. As mentioned above, one such day was in celebration of the 1911 coronation and another day which is recounted in The Passing Hour is put on in 1913 simply due to donations from ‘grateful friends of recovered patients’ making it financially possible. At both, the festivities centre around races divided into every category you could think of: Male Staff, Male Patients, Female Staff, Female Patients, Married vs Single Male Staff, Old Women Patients, Young Boys (under 10), you name it!

The variety of races is also prodigious, though our favourite has to be the Blind Wheelbarrow race from 1913 where the competitor is blindfolded and has a guide sitting in their wheelbarrow to direct their course of travel.

Races from 1913 and photographs from the Coronation Games in 1911

The fixtures lists always make for an interesting read, with SDA playing teams from other asylums (there is one fleeting mention of an inter-asylum championship) such as Royal Edinburgh, Dundee, Perth District, Woodilee and Gartloch, with whom SDA seemed to have a friendly rivalry and firmly established annual home and away games for both the cricket and the football, referred to as ‘the events of the football season’. Beyond this, it is also clear that SDA played a wide range of teams that were not comprised of asylum staff, many local names appear on the fixtures lists for both football and cricket with the SDA football team even playing the Edinburgh Civil Service and the Edinburgh University First XI in a particularly strong season in 1913 (the first and only year that the football team photo appears in The Passing Hour). Some team names suggest at being hospital teams – Stirling Victoria who play SDA at cricket was surely a team from Stirling’s Victoria Convalescent Home? Some are a little harder to place – is Haddington a local team or a team attached to Haddington District Lunatic Asylum? Or perhaps a bit of both as we do know the sometime captain of SDA’s cricket team Dr Anderson also played for Stirling County Cricket Club and even represented Scotland in International Matches against the West Indies in 1906. Undoubtedly, SDA played a broad range of opponents in both sports and all were welcome. A 1909 issue mentions a cricket match with the West of Scotland where Australian players were attempting to come over from Ireland to play.

Sadly the First World War not only eventually halts the printing of The Passing Hour in 1917 but it puts a stop to sports at SDA. Many of the fit and able male staff leave to fight for King and country while nurses and doctors leave to administer to the troops and The Passing Hour is, instead, filled with news of these men and women with letters both from the front and from staff home on leave. In 1915, it is reported that Dr Chisholm has managed to rustle up enough folk for just two teams to play each other at cricket and bowling on Saturdays but this is all that’s left in The Passing Hour of SDA’s previous enthusiasm for sports.

Nevertheless, we do have accounts of staff still playing regular matches against other hospitals in the 1980s and an oral history project conducted by Scotspeak in 1998 with patients and staff at SDA – then named Bellsdyke – shows that patients still ran in races and football and cricket were still played regularly – there’s even a mention of badminton!

A rare photo of the SDA football team
From 1910-1914 the 3rd of the quarterly issues of the Passing Hour was a special ‘cricket issue’

But where does the fellow at wicket come in I should like to know, particularly with those fast erratic bowlers who send a ball in as if it were a shot from a gatling-gun. Take me for example. I want to play cricket, and my girl wants me to play. She says it’s such a nice, manly, athletic game. But, I give you my word, after these few weeks’ play, I am blue spots all over. As if I had been painted like one of my own early ancestors, and had only succeeded in washing it off in patches.

Vol. XIII, No. 2, April-May-June 1913

Botany: one of FSU’s longest taught subjects

Florida Flambeau, May 24, 1929. View object in the digital library here

Botany was one of the first hard science majors offered at the Florida State College for Women. It was established in 1916 with Alban Stewart as the professor at the time. The classes were made up of only a few students, up to 10 a semester, due to a lack of interest in the subject.

In 1929, a club was established under the name: Primitive and Botanical Order of Ronales. Membership to this club was only available to botany majors. The club started off with only 8 members, the total of women involved in the major at that time. The Primitive and Botanical Order of Ronales was founded by Dr. Hurman Kurz who was known for his studies of traditional Native American ways of identifying and distinguishing flora and fauna.

Botany Field Trip, circa 1920s. View object in the digital library here

Dr. Kurz organized a yearly field trip to the Apalachicola area. This field trip was exclusively for the senior members of the Primitive and Botanical Order of Ronales. On this trip Dr. Kurz would teach the members how to identify the flora and fauna using Native American traditions.

Under Dr. Kurz, the botany department was able to have a laboratory/greenhouse dedicated to botany. There, students were able to conduct experiments such as growing seedless tomatoes, research, and gardening. They were also able to examine fossils that were either found by students or donated to the department.

Florida Flambeau, December 6, 1946. View object in the digital library here
Students studying cacti in a greenshouse, circa 1950s. View object in the digital library here

During World War 2, more job specific classes were added to the class registry, allowing for students to be more prepared to enter into the workforce after college. These classes were usually centered around jobs that were in high demand and relevant to the war effort. In 1942, more botany courses were added to the register due to the Pure Seed Law Enactment of 1939. This federal enactment required seeds to be correctly identified, pure in composition, and properly packaged. Since more classes were added, it allowed for the botany major to grow in size.

Students taking notes in a greenhouse, circa 1950s. View object in the digital library here

As of 2020, Botany is still a major offered in the biological sciences department. It is now referred to as “the field of Plant Sciences”. This major “broadly includes the study of photosynthetic organisms, especially plants and algae. It prepares students to make important contributions to the world in the areas of agriculture, food security, natural resource management, sustainability, policy, and many others.”

This article was written by Aya Saludo, a student worker in Heritage & University Archives.

Recipes from the Repository

Manual Del Cocinero Criollo

Whether you are an advanced chef in the kitchen or a beginner just starting out, you can always use more inspiration and recipes. The Sunshine State Digital Network repository is an excellent place to go to find new inspiration. The recipes in the repository range from Spanish traditional food to stereotypical mid-century jello mold salads.

The Sunshine State Digital Network repository is an excellent resource for planning your next dinner party. Here are the recipes I would choose for hosting a multiple course dinner party.

To start the night off on the right foot, I found an excellent drink recipe. Here is a recipe for an Original Daiquiri created by Jennings Cox. The ingredients of this 6 serving recipe include 6 lemons, 6 teaspoons of sugar, 6 cups of Bacardi Rum, 2 cups of mineral water, and ice. This recipe was not provided in a cook book in the repository, but instead was alone. Make sure while you search the repository to not skip over the non-published recipes!

Now that the drinks have been served, it is time to move on to the first portion of the night. Most of the books within the repository do not break up into segments of the meal as modern day cook books do. Most books within the repository are broken up into ingredient type. That being said, I chose a soup out of the book “The American practical cookery-book, or, Housekeeping made easy, pleasant, and economical in all its departments.” The soup I chose was the lobster soup, but there are plenty of other soup options within that cook book.

The main course of any dinner party is important. The guests await it, most hosts spend much time preparing it, and it is the main dish. There are an abundance of options in the repository for a main dish, however the one I would serve if I hosted a dinner party comes from the book, “The frugal housekeeper’s kitchen companion: or, Guide to economical cookery : … dedicated to those American housewives who are not ashamed of economy.” I would choose to create a stewed beef and I believe the recipe down below is a very traditional and savory version of that.

The only way to end any dinner party is to finish off the night with a dessert. For my dessert at my fake dinner party, I would choose to make what the book“All about cookery: a collection of practical recipes arranged in alphabetical order” calls “common cake.” This book has many different cake and pudding recipes, but this is the most standard by modern standards.

Overall, there is an abundance of options you can choose from while planning a dinner party using only cook books from the repository. Most of the books I used were from the late 1800’s, however there are my more books from a more recent time period. I urge you to explore the books listed above to find more recipes than the few included in this article because you will find many more delicious recipes to serve yourself and others.

The Pathfoot Building

This week’s #BeConnected Explore Our Campus looks at the history of the Pathfoot Building, home to the Art Collection and the first building on the left as you enter campus.

The University of Stirling was built on 330 acres of land within the grounds of Airthrey Estate, beneath the Ochil Hills two miles from Stirling itself and close to the Bridge of Allan. The campus was the first new university to be built in Scotland for almost 400 years. This followed the Robbins Report (1963), drawn up by Lord Robbins, who recommended an expansion of universities across the UK, and became the University’s first Chancellor in 1968.

Stirling was selected from a shortlist that included Falkirk and Perth, with the Pathfoot Building being built in the first phase of a thoroughly modern development. Constructed in 1967, it was the first building to be completed on the new campus and is now a listed building.  With its wide-open spaces giving a countrified feel, the landscape surrounding the University already provided a natural canvas. Though Lord Robbins recalled he had reservations when he visited the campus during the initial building stages.

I was overcome by the beauty of the setting… the most enchanting setting for a campus anywhere in the island. But the first piles of the Pathfoot Building were being dug. There was much mud about. It was very messy and as I looked around I could not repress the thought, Can it be that I have become Chancellor of a University which is going to ruin this marvellous landscape?

No reflection could have been more inappropriate. The Pathfoot Building has won world-wide commendations as an outstanding exhibition of what the best of modern architecture can do if it pays attention to the nature of the setting.

Lord Robbins speaking at the opening of the Pathfoot Building in 1967

The Pathfoot Building is shown in the top left with subsequent construction work underway

In keeping with the liberal sensibilities of the era, the Art Collection was initiated from the start, with the University’s founding Principal Tom Cottrell insisting that art ‘should be part of everyday life on campus.’ With work displayed in the Pathfoot building’s iconic Crush Hall and the surrounding courtyards, the Art Collection has played a vital role in University life ever since.

Courtyard in the Pathfoot Building showing Archaean by Barbara Hepworth

As well as the Crush Hall, the building itself originally housed lecture theatres, offices and classrooms, while extensions in 1979 to house a tropical aquarium and in 1987 for a virology unit saw it widen its remit. The Pathfoot building itself is a work of art, with international conservation organisation DoCoMomo recognising it in 1993 as one of sixty key Scottish monuments of the post-war era. It was also voted as one of Prospect magazine’s 100 best modern Scottish buildings, and now has Category A listed status.  

Even though the Pathfoot Building has been altered and extended over the years, the spirit of the original design remains, and is appreciated by those who visit, study and work there. Alongside the offices and lecture theatres, Pathfoot is a public art space, displaying the University’s permanent art collection as well as a series of temporary exhibitions in its main concourse and corridors, the large Crush Hall and some of its seventeen courtyards.

You can also view Stirling student Pierre Engelhard’s interactive video of the Pathfoot building and its artworks.

In the 50th anniversary year Ally Wallace was the Art Collection’s Artist in residence. Ally created films about the Pathfoot building including this one by our curator Jane Cameron.

Our Curator Jane talks about the effect that the architecture of Pathfoot has on those who work and study in the building

Details of Ally’s residency and more films can be found on his website

object of the week

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

Schueler: o/c 374.

Night Sky: Magda
Jon Schueler (1916-1992)
Oil on canvas, 1973

Jon Schueler painted a series of ‘women in the sky’ works, which related to significant women from the artist’s life. The ‘Magda’ in the title of this painting is Magda Salvesen whom Schueler had first met in Edinburgh in 1970. She was to become his partner for the rest of his life. Another work in this series, ‘Night Sky: Bunty’, also in the collection, is shown below. These two works are of a significant size, and are a permanent feature in the Pathfoot Building, hanging high up in the Crush Hall.

Night Sky: Bunty
Oil on canvas, 1973
Schueler: o/c 375.

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Jon Schueler came rather late to art, working first as a journalist, and after WWII as a teacher of literature. During the war he was with the US Airforce and the experience of extreme danger while navigating a B17 flying fortress, sitting in the clear plexiglas nose of the plane, surrounded by sky, was to have a powerful hold over Schueler for the rest of his life. Vivid descriptions of the Scottish Highlands too, related to him by Bunty Challis with whom he had an affair in wartime London (and whose name he used in the title of the painting above), similarly fired his imagination. After the war, he started part time art classes while working in San Francisco and he was influenced by Clyfford Still who was pivotal in Schueler’s decision to move to New York in 1951. Here he established himself as one of the ‘second generation’ of Abstract Expressionists (following on from Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock etc). In 1957-8 he fulfilled his long-held dream to visit Scotland, staying in Mallaig for the winter and from 1970 onwards he kept a permanent base there, at Romasaig, visiting regularly, and exhibiting successfully in Edinburgh and in the US.

Red in a Night Sky IV
Lithograph, 4/20, 1971
lith 71-4 (4/20)

An extremely prolific artist, who also continued to write throughout his life, Schueler’s main passions, reflected in his work, were for women and nature:
‘When I speak of nature, I’m speaking of the sky…and when I think of the sky, I think of the Scottish sky over Mallaig’.

The following one-hour film conversation unfortunately has poor sound quality, but it is worth trying, as the discussion about the life and creative process of this important artist is an interesting one.

This was filmed during the 2016 Jon Schueler centenary celebrations in Scotland, in which the University of Stirling Art Collection took part, hosting a major exhibition entitled ‘Speaking of the Sky’.

All images © Jon Schueler Estate