SCUA News

Special Collections and University Archives

Preserving the Past for the Future

by Audrey Sage

The Preservation department of the Special Collections and University Archives manages the care and maintenance of the various collections.  This ranges from minor repair and stabilization of the circulating collections to extensive conservation treatments for our rare books and manuscripts.  As the research and lending library landscapes evolve and change, the development of special collections has expanded. The value of primary resources for research and learning has grown. The development of digitization to broaden the accessibility of these items and the information they contain has become a vital and exciting resource. The viewing and handling of special collections items, sometimes dating back four hundred years provides a sense of awe and appreciation for the handcrafted and carefully constructed volumes that have survived those many years.  Our job further protects and preserves these historical artifacts to provide the experience, the information and maintain the object’s integrity for centuries to come.

The Special Collections unit recently received a generous donation from historian and friend of Jackson Library, Norman Smith. This gift is a unique volume of the Book of Hours, from the third quarter of the 15th century.  It is believed to have been made for the Use of Rome. The ranking of the patron saint of Paris with the more generally revered Steven and Eligius suggests that the book was made in Paris, but not necessarily for local use. It is scribed in Latin using a gothic textura script in brown ink on vellum pages. The volume has a notation on the inner flyleaf noting the current calf cover binding and marble endpapers are from 1801. 

This book of hours includes 24 miniatures with three quarter borders in blue and red grounds with white tracery and gold fillers. These miniatures show occupations and figures representing the signs of the Zodiac. 

Vellum is a unique and durable writing surface prepared from calfskin. It is cleaned, bleached and stretched. On this page, you can see where the scribe has used the side of the skin that still shows the pores on the surface.

There are 10 large miniature in arched compartments whose subjects are: St. John, The Annunciation, The Crucifixion, The Pentecost, The Nativity, The Annunciation to the Shepherds, The Adoration of the Magi, The Presentation in the Temple, The Flight into Egypt and The Coronation of the Virgin.

This front hinge had worn and the cover had pulled away from the volume.  We were able to surface clean the pages, cover, and spine, create a new Japanese paper hollow to reinforce the spine and reattach the cover.  A paper hinge mend was attached and decorated with coordinating pigments to blend the repair.

A custom built clamshell enclosure was constructed to house this beautiful volume, preserving it for the future and making it more secure for usage as a teaching and instructional resource.

RARE BOOKS

Final proof of Morris Cox’s unpublished collage novel, March Demon (1938)

Morris Cox as an artist defies simple definition. While he trained as a commercial artist, during his lifetime he was a sculptor, puppeteer, print maker, and a book artist as well. Born in 1903, Cox was too young to join the effort in World War I and too old to join for World War II. Such experiences shaped his world view. Because of the variety of his artwork and explorative qualities of his techniques, he is often compared to William Blake.

UNCG holds the largest collection of Morris Cox / Gogmagog Press works outside of the United Kingdom. Out of our holdings, at least two are unique to UNCG: the printing blocks and proof for The Lost Fisherman: a child’s story and Graphic Yardarm. This final proof of March Demon joins that group of unique holdings.

SCUA uses Cox’s works in instructional settings, such as Book Arts, Modern Art, and Printmaking classes. More recently, we’ve incorporated his works into English classes where the students are focusing on narrative works and how a book’s form can affect the readers’ experience. 

First edition, signed, of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (1982)

Few works resonate worldwide in the way that Alice Walker’s The Color Purple did when it was published and later dramatized. Walker presents the universal tale of survival and eventual escape from degradation and brutality with such specificity to the early 20th century Deep South that those who live there have to reassess their relationship with presumed societal norms. 

We were presented with the opportunity to add a signed first edition of this title to SCUA’s Woman’s Collection where it continues the legacy of works by Phillis Wheatley, Harriet Jacobs, Frances Harper, Pauline Hopkins, and Toni Morrison, amongst others.

These works are incorporated into SCUA’s instructional outreach through class sessions, such as Black Women Writers, American History, and narrative writing.

Facsimile of Die Kreuzritterbibel/The Morgan Crusader Bible/Le Bible des Crusades (1998)

Facsimiles continue to hold value in the era of digitization. The Morgan Crusader Bible, as a printed facsimile, collects the dispersed leaves of a 46-page manuscript of Old Testament illustrations, possibly commissioned by Louis IX of France and produced in Paris ca. 1250. The majority of the leaves are housed in the Morgan Library, yet two leaves reside in the collection at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and another leaf is in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The act of printing this facsimile required the collaboration of three major research institutions.

This work represents another form of collaboration between the English Department and SCUA. At the end of the 2019/2020 fiscal year, funds were available for this purchase if both departments combined their monies. While the actual purchase occurred during the Stay at Home order given during the Spring Semester, University Libraries and English Department personnel could track this tome’s journey from the bookseller’s location in San Marino to Greensboro, NC. Special Collections’ copy is one of 80 reserved copies, numbered in Roman numerals: XLIX.

MANUSCRIPTS

Black Lives Matter murals by Greensboro artist, Amari Brown

Amari Brown was one of the artists who contributed their talent to the plywood murals on Elm Street in Greensboro, NC during the George Floyd-BLM Protests. His work will be photographed as part of the UNCG Triad Black Lives Matter Protest Collection and is available for viewing physically in the archives: http://libcdm1.uncg.edu/cdm/blm

Cello cover of Willem Willeke (1879-1950)

This cello cover is an olive green, velvet fabric, embroidered with beads and an applique of the first 6 bars of Beethoven Sonata in A Major, Op. 69. It is donated to the UNCG Cello Music Collection by cellist Douglas B. Moore, who was gifted the item by Mrs. Sally Willeke, Willem Willeke’s widow. Born in the Netherlands, Willeke began his musical studies at the Royal Conservatory in Rotterdam.

A child prodigy, when he was 14 years old, Willeke played the Brahms Cello Sonata with the composer at piano, and also performed all of the Brahms’ chamber music with the composer, as well. Although he was a very talented musician, he chose to become a medical doctor, studying medicine at universities in Bonn and Vienna. However, violinist Joseph Joachim encouraged him to devote his life to music, and Willeke followed the advice, changing his career path. During his career as a cellist, Willeke performed Edvard Grieg’s Cello Sonata with the composer during a European tour. He also performed Strauss’ Cello Sonata with Strauss during a tour in the United States. He served as a conductor with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, the Leipzig Philharmonic, and the Chautauqua Orchestra. Willeke was principal cellist of the Vienna Opera House in the early 1900s, and immigrated to the US to become cellist of the Kneisel Quartet in New York. He founded the Elshucco Trio, which was known as one of the best trios of its time. As an American citizen, during WWII, Willeke served as an intelligence agent in Europe. Willeke was a noted teacher, serving on the faculty of Juilliard.

A collection of vintage women’s dresses donated by UNCG Library and Information Science professor, Dr. James V. Carmichael

Dr. Carmichael’s donation includes many dresses, vintage costume jewelry, and purses.

The Katherine M. Dunlap Papers

This collection features material relating to Dunlap’s time in the Girl Scouts, beginning in the 1960s, including correspondence and programs about Girl Scout events, two small tapestries of the chalet of the World Association of Girl Guides and Scouts, and Girl Scout recipe booklets. We promise that no Girl Scout cookies were donated or exchanged as part of the collection.

The scrapbooks of Mary Dail Dixon

Mary Dail Dixon was the first student to enroll in our school. Originally from Greene County, NC, she was the first student to register at State Normal and Industrial School (now UNC Greensboro) in 1892. She earned her teaching certificate in 1894, and after graduating, moved to Raleigh, NC, and dedicated her life to being “the perfect farm wife.” Mary’s focus on being a self sufficient wife and mother of seven children led to become a highly successful cake-baking entrepreneur, frequently interviewed for her advice in the local newspaper.

UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES

University Commemorative Plate donated by Tammie Ledford

A 1966 Green Class Jacket and Skirt and a WC Notebook Donated by Wilma McKeown Baynes

1937 Etching of the Alumnae House donated by Ann Disosway Cowper

UNCG T-Shirts donated by Erin Lawrimore

WOMEN VETERANS HISTORICAL PROJECT

Unknown Spanish American War Nurse’s Photograph Album, circa 1898

American Female nurses served in the Spanish-American War to fill the shortage created by a lack of male nurses and in 1898, the U.S. Army Nurse Corps was established as part of the Surgeon General’s office. This image is of four Native American nuns of the Congregation of American Sisters of Fort Pierre, South Dakota, who served as nurses at Camp Cuba Libre near Jacksonville, Florida.

Photo Album and Scrapbook of Air-WAC Officer Thelma Eaton , circa 1944

Thelma Eaton was an officer in the U.S. Women’s Army Corps who served in the Army Air Force. These images are of fellow Air WACs during basic training in Daytona Beach, Florida in 1943.

By Jessica Dame

As part of its ongoing work to document the history of UNCG, University Archives has been archiving campus websites since 2015. Following the University’s early announcements and response regarding the monitoring of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in March 2020, the University Archives began archiving the University’s COVID-19 related web content.

Shortly thereafter, Archive-It, a web archiving service for collecting and accessing cultural heritage on the web, presented the COVID-19 Web Archiving Special Campaign. This campaign was an opportunity for subscription holders (and new potential subscribers) to expand their web archiving data to archive their institutional and community COVID-19 related web content. The data expansion provided an opportunity to archive COVID-19 resources and responses, and capture a snapshot in time of how entities responded and communicated with their communities during the pandemic.

After receiving the Archive-It data expansion, the Triad COVID-19 Collection was born. The scope of the collection included web content (websites, web pages, born-digital documents, and social media) created by county government, schools and universities, non-profit organizations, and community initiatives. Possible topics included COVID-19 origins, information about the spread of infection, regional or local containment efforts, and a variety of aspects that affected communities (medical, economic, social, etc.). Selection of web content was a group effort among SCUA in which many volunteered their time to research potential web content to include one county at a time.

Due to the urgent nature of the collection, web content was immediately evaluated for scope and archived as early as mid-May. Some collection content was archived monthly, while others were archived only once (including YouTube videos and born-digital documents). It was not until after selected content was captured that the University Archives began to reach out to creators and site-owners regarding permissions. The University Archives employed an “opt-out” approach, notifying site-owners about the collection and the crawls so that they may decline to be included if they preferred.

Currently the Triad COVID-19 Collection includes 149 unique pieces of web content. A highlight from the collection captures the importance of web archiving. Project Mask WS was a mask sewing initiative in Winston-Salem created in response to the pandemic. According to the Project Mask WS website, they are a group of 1000+ volunteers who create masks for medical personnel and front line workers who could not obtain n95 masks. The website features an introduction to the project, images, and examples of their impact, but it expired sometime in mid-July. The group’s online presence is now exclusively on Facebook. While the initiative lives on, without web archiving, the origins of this project are potentially lost.

The Triad COVD-19 Collection aims to capture how the Triad community is using and experiencing the web during the global pandemic.

by Mark Schumacher

I came to work as a reference librarian at UNCG in the summer of 1978. My background was French literature, and as a graduate student in Buffalo, I had worked in a university library, but with little experience with special collections.  As I was settling into my work, I began to learn early about the resources in our Special Collection department, including the Girls Books in Series and the American Trade Binding collections. When I learned that there were many items we were looking for in these two sets, I asked if there was a list of books that were needed or sought after. Having those lists was very helpful and I still have a copy of the Girls Books list, which I consult when bidding or buying on eBay.

Mark Schumacher

One of the finest, or amazing, moments in the search for girls series items came many years ago, in a Corning, New York bookstore, which focused on series books, for both boys and girls.  I found about 25-30 items we needed, which came to about $400!!  Since then I have found items the library wanted in scores of places. I bought a book from a woman in Birmingham, Alabama, back in the 1990’s, and surprisingly she invited me to come visit her. I went and took some books I thought she might like, and we traded a number of volumes.

The series in this collection vary a lot, from well-known titles like Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins, which we have practically completed,  to The Blue Grass Seminary Girls, which is made up of four books all published in 1916. It is always great to come across an item that the collection needs. My latest find is “Our Little Hungarian Cousin,” one in a set of 85 titles!

Our Little Hungarian Cousin, Mary F. Nixon-Roulet

My interest in the binding collection began many years ago, after I saw an exhibit in the Reading Room. I had not known much about the subject nor the various book cover designers. Seeing how striking these books were, I quickly became interested in tracking down items we were looking to add to our collection. As I learned about designers, I found the work of Amy Sacker (1872-1965) both fascinating and little studied. Then I came across an article by Anne O’Donnell and later I found her Master’s thesis on Amy’s work. Although I have found and donated books designed by Margaret Armstrong, Sarah Whitman, Bertha Stuart (I have found 19 covers that she did), and others, my major focus has been on Amy Sacker.

Tracking down information on her work as a binding designer, a book illustrator and a bookplate artist, led me to encounter two interesting people.  Linda Belfield, from New Jersey, who had found a portrait done by Amy Sacker at a yard sale, called me to ask if it might be a forgery. She sent me a photo and it seemed to be fine. In fact, I have a photo of a 1949 art show Amy did for a Boston gallery, with Amy looking it over. [See below] Incredibly, a few days later, Linda, incredibly kind, gave me the portrait.  You can see it at    http://www.amysacker.net/documents/Portrait.htm 

I have since given it to the Special Collections department, where it will hang in the Reading Room.

Amy Sacker at Boston art show, 1949

The other person I met was Fran Rogers, a grand-niece of Amy Sacker. She had seen my website and got in touch. After emailing back and forth, she invited me to come visit her in Tennessee. I took some items to give to her and she had lots of information about her great-aunt, including correspondence from Amy’s later life and bookplates Amy designed for family members [see http://amysacker.net/documents/sackerbookplates.htm]. Fran also provided the 1949 photo seen above, taken in the Vose Gallery, which had opened in the mid-19th century.  She very kindly gave me a number of her items for my collection and my research.

Manders, Elwyn Barron

Given my interest in bindings, I came across a few designers we had not known about. Charlotte Harding (1873-1951) was also an illustrator, as was Mabel Betsy Hill (b. 1877). Ralph Fletcher Seymour (1876-1966) also ran the Alderbrink Press in Chicago for many years. A blog article about these designers, with images of their covers, can be seen at

http://uncgbindingsandbeyond.blogspot.com/2016/06/new-finds-guest-post-by-mark-schumacher.html#more

I have donated some other items: a limited edition of a 1903 Oscar Wilde play and some material from the author Nick Bantock, whom I got to know long ago, due to our similar interest in stamp collecting. I shall continue to look for items like these that we want in our collections. It is an exciting activity, and I really enjoy it.

by Patrick Dollar

Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) has an extensive student worker, intern/practicum, and volunteer student worker program. Although the volunteer program has been temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, the department continues to employ 6-10 student workers and supervise several interns.

Our students work on a variety of important projects, such as arranging and describing archival collections, processing rare books, and completing preservation work on both library and Special Collections materials. Students work with all departmental collections, including University Archives, Manuscripts, Rare Books, and the Women Veterans Historical Project.

Student workers, interns, and volunteers are the unsung heroes of the archives! They are often on the front lines of archival work, doing a number of necessary but time-consuming tasks; therefore, we plan to recognize them in each SCUA newsletter!

Student Spotlight: Liz Konopka

Liz is working with Stacey Krim and Patrick Dollar in the Manuscripts section. Liz is working on a large collection – over 200 hundred boxes of the United Way of Greater Greensboro Records. Liz’s work processing the collection and creating a collection inventory is critical, particularly as the United Way plans to utilize their collections for anniversary celebrations in 2021. Liz has also been helping to file materials in the extensive collection of Home Economics Pamphlets, working through materials that the Libraries’ catalogers have worked on from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Student Spotlight: Lea Shumaker (in her own words!)

My name is Lea Shumaker, and I work for Beth Ann Koelsch in the Women Veterans Historical Project. I am currently working with various scrapbooks from the collection that date back to World War II. Many of these scrapbooks feature photographs taken in various parts of the world as women were deployed by the U.S. military. Through these scrapbooks we can get a glimpse of what life was like for these women. I am going through and collecting descriptive data from these scrapbooks, which will make the scrapbooks “findable” by researchers.

Student Spotlight: Ivy Wallace

Ivy Wallace works in the Preservation Services department constructing and binding music scores in endless formats for the Harold Schiffman Music Library. Ivy skillfully provides preservation treatment and care for the Jackson Library circulating collections, by mending pages, repairing damaged books, replacing worn covers, and breathing new life into well-loved and important volumes.

Student Spotlight: Shelbi Webb

Shelbi is working with Sean Mulligan in the University Archives section. She has been crucial in processing departmental records and helping us gain greater physical control over our collections. Shelbi has been working hard this semester in the archives assisting in processing University Archives materials. Her first processed collection was the Department of Geography, Environment, and Stability Records which was 2.5 linear feet and span from 1960 to 2013 (link to finding aid). Currently, she is working to arrange and describe the records of the Department of Public Health Education. Additionally, Shelbi has been helping to sort and file folders from the extensive collection of Home Economics Pamphlets.

Hinshaw and Dollar earn DAS Certificates

SCUA is very proud to announce that Patrick Dollar and Scott Hinshaw have both earned the Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) Certificate from the Society of American Archivists.

The DAS Certificate requires passing prescribed coursework and a comprehensive examination.


“Building Partnerships for Student Success” grant received

Kathelene McCarty Smith, Interim Head of the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, received a LSTA grant in the amount of $68,882.94 for the project “Building Partnerships for Student Success.

The project is a partnership with the State Library of North Carolina which will provide educators with the opportunity to attend workshops and learn how to effectively find and evaluate primary sources and incorporate their use in the classroom.


Carolyn Shankle recounts ghostly campus tales

Carolyn Shankle told spooky tales of haunted UNCG for the 2020 edition of #GhostboroTales . Listen to the story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FhPY2t04xE


Student Snapshots

by Patrick Dollar

Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) has an extensive student worker, intern/practicum, and volunteer student worker program. Although the volunteer program has been temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, the department continues to employ 6-10 student workers and supervise several interns.

Our students work on a variety of important projects, such as arranging and describing archival collections, processing rare books, and completing preservation work on both library and Special Collections materials. Students work with all departmental collections, including University Archives, Manuscripts, Rare Books, and the Women Veterans Historical Project.

Student workers, interns, and volunteers are the unsung heroes of the archives! They are often on the front lines of archival work, doing a number of necessary but time-consuming tasks; therefore, we plan to recognize them in each SCUA newsletter!

Student Spotlight: Liz Konopka

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is LizKonopka-1-768x1024.jpg

Liz is working with Stacey Krim and Patrick Dollar in the Manuscripts section. Liz is working on a large collection – over 200 hundred boxes of the United Way of Greater Greensboro Records. Liz’s work processing the collection and creating a collection inventory is critical, particularly as the United Way plans to utilize their collections for anniversary celebrations in 2021. Liz has also been helping to file materials in the extensive collection of Home Economics Pamphlets, working through materials that the Libraries’ catalogers have worked on from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Student Spotlight: Lea Shumaker (in her own words!)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Lea-1-1-768x1024.jpg

My name is Lea Shumaker, and I work for Beth Ann Koelsch in the Women Veterans Historical Project. I am currently working with various scrapbooks from the collection that date back to World War II. Many of these scrapbooks feature photographs taken in various parts of the world as women were deployed by the U.S. military. Through these scrapbooks we can get a glimpse of what life was like for these women. I am going through and collecting descriptive data from these scrapbooks, which will make the scrapbooks “findable” by researchers.

Student Spotlight: Ivy Wallace

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IvyWallace-768x1024.jpg

Ivy Wallace works in the Preservation Services department constructing and binding music scores in endless formats for the Harold Schiffman Music Library. Ivy skillfully provides preservation treatment and care for the Jackson Library circulating collections, by mending pages, repairing damaged books, replacing worn covers, and breathing new life into well-loved and important volumes.

Student Spotlight: Shelbi Webb

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ShelbiWebb-1024x768.jpg

Shelbi is working with Sean Mulligan in the University Archives section. She has been crucial in processing departmental records and helping us gain greater physical control over our collections. Shelbi has been working hard this semester in the archives assisting in processing University Archives materials. Her first processed collection was the Department of Geography, Environment, and Sustainability Records which was 2.5 linear feet and span from 1960 to 2013 (link to finding aid). Currently, she is working to arrange and describe the records of the Department of Public Health Education. Additionally, Shelbi has been helping to sort and file folders from the extensive collection of Home Economics Pamphlets.

by Erin Lawrimore

As with all other work at UNCG (and elsewhere), our instructional work in SCUA has adapted to current restrictions in place to stem the spread of COVID-19. We are unable to host class visits in our reading room, thus limiting our ability to provide students with the ability to physically handle materials in our collection during instructional sessions. But we view our instructional work as critical to our overall mission in SCUA, and this work has continued – in new or adapted ways – throughout Fall 2020.

In early June, we were contacted by Dr. Lisa Levenstein, Director of UNCG’s Center for Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, about a graduate-level course she was planning for Fall that would focus on the history of women and sport in the United States. Our University Archives contains a significant amount of material related to the history of physical education and sport on our campus, and we frequently work with faculty across campus to help students better understand the historical importance of activity, sport, and fitness in UNCG’s curriculum and in other campus programs. In these sessions, we typically introduce students to this history through a presentation as well as a “pop up” exhibit of interesting and important items that help illustrate the story.

In these sessions, students are often particularly enthralled by these items – particularly the historic gym suits in our collection. Seeing a black wool gym suit from the early 1900s in person helps personalize the history we are sharing. Unfortunately, COVID restrictions meant that we were unable to open the reading room and allow the class to see these fascinating materials in person. So, with Dr. Levenstein’s class in mind, we needed to figure out how we might provide both the informational content typically provided in our “history of physical education and sport” presentation and an adapted sense of the physicality of our collection holdings in an online instructional session. 

To do this, I adapted my existing presentation about the history of campus physical education and sport to include significantly more photographs, both digitized photographs from our collection and photographs of the historic gym suits we hold. Additionally, I incorporated more descriptive language into my talk to help students understand the physical elements of the materials that could not adequately be conveyed in an online setting. For example, I talked not about the activities but about the gym suits and how they feel. Finally, I sought to personalize the virtual presentation by searching our oral history collection for interview quotes from former faculty and alumni who spoke about elements of physical activity on campus.

I delivered this instructional session to the 10 graduate students in Dr. Levenstein’s course on September 21st via Zoom. After the presentation, we had a robust discussion of UNCG’s history, the history of women’s health and fitness, and my own past experience working as a woman in a major college athletics department (a career before graduate school and a career transition to archival enterprise). After the session Dr. Levenstein wrote to express her thanks for my presentation, saying “I was watching the students and they were totally hooked, thanks to the engaging way that you presented the materials and the insight you brought to the conversation. I’m sad we couldn’t visit the archives in person as I had originally hoped, but you more than made up for it.”

This course is one of many that we have adapted for Fall 2020. We anticipate that by the end of this semester, SCUA faculty and staff will have taught over 50 instructional sessions for both undergraduate and graduate courses across the curriculum. Personally, my work to adapt this presentation to an online setting will prove particularly helpful as I continue to adapt my own course (an undergraduate Honors College course focused on UNCG history and digital storytelling) to an online setting for Spring 2021. While our instructional practice – and indeed much of our work as archivists – is often centered around providing students with a hands-on research experience, these online instructional sessions continue to allow us to make an impact on student success through instruction while also providing us with the skills and knowledge needed to effectively grow our practice in the online environment.

by Beth Ann Koelsch

The first Women Veterans Historical Project Annual Women Veterans Luncheon in 1997 predated the founding of the Project in 1998.  For over two decades the WVHP has brought women veterans and their supporters together to honor the service of women who served in the United States armed forces and the American Red Cross; to serve as an educational forum about women veterans; to engage the veteran community at UNCG and Greensboro; and to highlight the work of the WVHP and its ongoing oral history project.

COVID-19 made it impossible to gather in person this year. Instead, the 23rd Annual Women Veterans Luncheon moved online. Over 70 participants joined via the Zoom platform. After a few moments of technical difficulties, the participants saw videos created by the all-female Triad A Cappella Connection group featuring their vocal arrangements of the “Star Spangled Banner” and an Armed Forces Medley. Participants were welcomed virtually by the UNCG Chancellor Franklin Gilliam, Jr. and the Dean of the University Libraries Michael Crumpton.

As a way to bring the materials in the collections alive, SCUA staff, faculty, and veterans Barb Kucharczyk and Glenda Schillinger read aloud letters written by service women from World War II to the War on Terror.

The keynote speaker, Army Reserve Captain and the CEO of the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) Deshauna Barber, discussed her work for SWAN and the organization’s current advocacy initiatives. She also tapped into her motivational speaker skills to offer the challenge to find inner resilience by finding “happiness in uncertainty.” Ms. Barber stayed to answer questions about SWAN’s current legislative priorities.

After the official program, participants were invited to join in on an informal conversation with the curator and each other.

Although no lunches were actually served, the program was a success! Hopefully, we can all meet again in person in 2021. You can watch a recording of the program here:  https://youtu.be/y82bvCElfDE

The Violoncello Society of New York is very pleased to announce the donation of its extensive archive to the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections & University Archives at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Included in the VCS archive are additional materials from the American Cello Council dating back to the 1930’s. VCS President, Kate Dillingham states, “It is a wonderful moment in the society’s history for the archive to have a permanent home. Our long legacy of cello playing and musical culture in the United States is now available for cellists and cello enthusiasts throughout the world to experience through photographs, documents, programs, and memorabilia. I look forward to working with Stacey Krim to feature items of interest from the archive for all to enjoy.”

It is the mission of the Violoncello Society of New York (VCS) to promote the art of cello playing in the United States, provide a common meeting ground for professional and amateur cellists, promote interest in the cello as a solo instrument, provide opportunity of performances for artist and composer, develop a broader and more mature understanding of the art of the cello, and further the members’ artistic development. VCS organizes and hosts events that enrich the community and advance the art of cello playing. Among the membership, past and present, is some of the greatest cello-talent in the United States and worldwide. The collection includes the business papers of the society, correspondence, and recordings dating back to the organization’s founding in 1956. The collection is now part of the UNCG Cello Music Collection, which is dedicated to acquiring, preserving, and making accessible cello music collections for research and learning. The UNCG Cello Music Collection contains the archives of two past presidents of the society, János Scholz and Bernard Greenhouse, and past vice-president, Nicholas Anderson. The VCS is now open to researchers by appointment for the 2020 Fall semester. If you are interested in accessing this collection or learning more about the UNCG Cello Music Collection, please contact Stacey Krim (srkrim@uncg.edu).
 

 

 

Natalie Branson, a second-year graduate student working on an M.A. in History with a concentration in Museum Studies, researched and developed an online exhibit focused on the work of the Women’s Association for the Betterment of Public Schoolhouses, an organization of women advocating for public education in North Carolina in the first quarter of the 20th century.

You can see Natalie’s wonderful exhibit here: http://uncglibraries.com/wabps/exhibits/show/wabps. We also asked Natalie to write a reflection of her time working on this project. You can find that reflection below.

Natalie’s work is reflective of the outstanding caliber of students we have at UNC Greensboro. She demonstrated curiosity, self-motivation, and determination – even when the COVID-19 pandemic make everything more chaotic. We in SCUA are always excited for the opportunity to work with our undergraduate and graduate students and to guide them in their research and learning. We thank Natalie for her excellent work this semester!

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A Reflection on My Capstone Experience 
by Natalie Branson, M.A. in History with concentration in Museum Studies Candidate, 2020

My capstone project has been one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Creating my exhibit with the University Archives has allowed me to take control of a project, from start to finish, for the first time as a public historian. I was empowered to tackle challenges on my own, to determine the narrative that I wanted to tell, and to design the exhibit around what I found to be important. When I began this project in August of 2019, I had never worked in an archive, digitized materials, or created a digital exhibit. Now, in April of 2020, I have gained new skills and experience in archival work, curation, and content creation.

When I met with Erin in August, I was handed the Women’s Betterment Association Collection from the University Archives and given the instructions to create a digital exhibit for the University’s website. The original plan for my exhibit was to tell the story of the Women’s Association for the Betterment of Public Schoolhouses (WABPS), the subject and source of the collection I was digitizing. It was my understanding that the WABPS were an organization created by and for women who were interested in improving the state of public education in North Carolina. As I continued searching through the documents from the WABPS, I found that the organization was nothing like I had expected. This ultimately changed the course of my exhibit, as I continued to discover new and conflicting information. To begin, the reach of the WABPS was far beyond what I had presumed. The original 200 women who began the WABPS in Greensboro quickly disseminated into nearly 100 Local and County Associations, with over 1,000 members, spread across North Carolina. In addition, I found the organization to be more radical that I expected, in that they allowed men to pay to be involved in the WABPS but their “honorary” membership afforded them no vote in the Association’s elections and no say in the purpose or direction of the WABPS. Sue Hollowell, the president of the State Association in Greensboro, at one point quipped about the men’s “honorary” membership, “taxation without representation, if you please.” While they were radical in some regards, they were more predictable in others.

The WABPS operated between 1902 and 1918, in the heart of the Jim Crow South. While I worked to craft the narrative of my exhibit, I grappled with interpreting the implicit prejudice in the Association’s documents. I learned early on that the organization was exclusive to white women (and later white men), as it was stated explicitly in the WABPS Constitution. I was content, at that point, to make that fact clear in the exhibit and move on; however, as I continued through the documents, the narrative continued to become more complicated. I could find no official documents from the Association that stated explicitly that the WABPS excluded black schools from their work, as I had originally assumed. More often than not, their language was vague, using phrases such as “all of God’s children” and “every child” to describe those affected by their work. By December, I was once again ready to write off their language as having implicit prejudice; I had no evidence that the WABPS worked with or for black children.

 When I returned to the archives after winter break, I found reports from the presidents of several County Associations which I hadn’t seen before. Mary Taylor Moore, the recording secretary for the State Association in Greensboro, created them to have a better understanding of the work that the County Associations were doing. The question that intrigued me the most asked, “How many schools in your county have been affected by the work of the Association?” In many cases, the response was just a number: “nine” or “two.” However, some responses were more specific. Some responders used the qualifier “white” to describe the schools affected, but a few responded that “colored” schools in their county had been affected by the Association’s work as well. This was surprising to me, as it was the first time that I had evidence of “Betterment work” in black schools.

After this discovery, I added two new pages to my digital exhibit: “Race and Education” and “Gender in the Progressive Era.” The former expanded the discussion (raised on the first page) on North Carolina Governor Charles Aycock and his racist education policies at the turn of the century. It also introduced the organization’s complicated relationship with race and the difficulties of interpreting historical documents. The latter page, “Gender in the Progressive Era,” addressed the question: how radical were they really? The women certainly had progressive methods of running their organization, but their original goal of “beautifying” school houses and grounds seemed superficial, fitting within the traditional gender roles prescribed to them. The women were challenging the male-dominated sphere of public school administration but they subscribed to contemporaneous notions about class and race.

When the text was written and the photos, documents, and metadata were entered into Omeka, my digital exhibit finally came together. Luckily, Erin Lawrimore (my supervisor and University Archivist) and I had decided to front-load my work for this semester so the project was wrapping up just as COVID-19 shut everything down.

This process has taught me a great deal about public history. Most importantly, I have come to trust my own instincts and accept not having an answer. In the past, I have mulled over a problem and tried my best to solve it despite knowing that there was no good solution. Rather than accept that and move on, I would find a way to avoid addressing the problem altogether. After my capstone experience, I have found a new appreciation for accepting that I don’t have all the answers; I only have what is presented to me. It is not my place to decide what the women of the WABPS were thinking or what they meant in their documents, I can only disseminate that information within the social and political context that I understand.

As I reflect on my work over the last eight months, I believe that nothing summarizes it better than the evolution of my project title. In September, I titled my project, “The Women’s Betterment Association: A Digital Exploration of a Radical Group of Women.” The exhibit was going to present the radical and inspiring story of the WABPS; how the “Betterment workers” of North Carolina challenged the status quo. When I presented at the Digital Humanities Collaborative Institute in March, however, I titled my project, “A Complicated Group of Women: A Digital Exploration of the Women’s Association for the Betterment of Public Schoolhouses.” My exhibit now tells the story of the incredible work that these women did, the lengths they went to in order to achieve their goals, and the standard they set for public schools in North Carolina. It also tells the story of a racist and elitist governor, the poor state of North Carolina’s public schools at the turn of the century, and how segregation and systemic oppression left black students behind. The women of the WABPS were not radical, but they were not conservative: they were complicated, and I had to accept that. I accepted that I did not know the extent to which they were involved in improving black schools or the extent to which they embraced the (white) feminist movement. The narrative of my exhibit changed between September and April, but only for the better. I challenged myself with new questions to try to answer and a new story to tell the public, and I am incredibly grateful to have experienced this process.

 
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