Broadcasting the Cold War Era: Five Documents from the Craig B. Fisher Papers

Between 1945 to 1960, the number of television sets in the United States skyrocketed from an estimated ten thousand to sixty million. What was once a novelty became an integral part of everyday life for the average American. By 1960, almost ninety percent of American households had at least one television and the average person watched approximately five hours of programming each day. Television became the dominant medium for information and entertainment at the same time that Americans were engaged in the Cold War against the Soviet Union and experiencing major social and cultural transformations like the civil rights movement, second-wave feminism, the emergence of youth culture, and the environmental movement. In a time of change and uncertainty, television played an important role in shaping the political and cultural landscape.

General Electric Model 9T001 television

This General Electric Model 9T001 television from the mid-1950s is currently on display in the Mass Media & Culture meeting room.

The Craig B. Fisher papers, a recently processed addition to the Mass Media & Culture collection, documents what television was like during that pivotal era. Fisher graduated from the University of Maryland in 1954, and became an accomplished television writer, producer, and director. The collection pertains to a period of his career from 1956 to 1970 when he worked for CBS and NBC. It includes research materials, notes, outlines, proposals, scripts, budgets, press clippings, and other materials related to programs in which he was a creator or contributor. During his career, he produced television shows on a broad range of subjects, including politics, social issues, history, science, and art. This post will highlight five particularly interesting documents that are representative of the Cold War era. Continue reading

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Greetings from the Land of Postcards!

I have never worked in a library before.  Been in one, yes.  Studied in one, definitely.  Worked in one that holds invaluable documents and rare artifacts, that’d be a resounding no.  Until now.

Greece

If you had told me at the beginning of summer that my first project as a student assistant in Special Collections and University Archives would have me surrounded by boxes upon boxes of postcards, I would have laughed and asked, “What’s a postcard?”

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Digital projects using archives

#BlackLivesMatter   #SayHerName   #BringBackOurGirls   #ICANTBREATHE

Internet activism has changed the national conversation and must be taken seriously. Social media is reshaping how scholars study social movements. Is there an opportunity for archival collections to support these conversations on race and digital social justice activism? Can archival primary source materials that weren’t born digital be more effectively used alongside born-digital records in data analysis and scholarship? This semester members from the AADHum Project Team, along with our Teaching and Learning Librarian and Labor History Archivist, explored these questions to gain a broader sense of how primary resources support projects in the digital humanities.

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Exhibit: New Acquisitions in Special Collections

A new exhibit in the Maryland Room highlights recent acquisitions in Special Collections and University Archives!

Included in the display are historic postcards featuring various vacation and other unique tourist locations across the United States, dated from the 1900s -1940s.

Stop by and check out the souvenir folder postcards, which contain several postcards folded up so you didn’t have to send just one! All the postcards on display were donated to the National Trust Library Historic Postcard Collection.

The exhibit also highlights a recent donation of Arthur Rackham illustrations to the Literature & Rare Book collections. Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) was a celebrated illustrator whose work helped spark the Golden Age of Illustration from the 1880s – 1920s in Englad. Rackham is known for the whimsical and dream-like quality of his art. His work was often featured in fairy tales and children’s literature. In addition to several books, a framed illustration signed by Rackham is on display featuring a scene from the Compleat Angler, a popular book celebrating the joys of fishing.

Lastly, the exhibit features another, albeit much older, acquisition to the Literature & Rare Book collections in Special Collections and University Archives. A collection of illuminated manuscript leaves showcase the artistry of hand written and hand decorated medieval books. The leaves are dated between the mid-12th century – 16th century. They represent a variety of regions, including Italy, France, the Netherlands, England, and the Low Countries.

Visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library to explore these new treasures in Special Collections and University Archives!

Recent Accession Highlight: The Joe Uehlein Papers

West Virginia steelworkers locked out of their factory.

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Famous musicians performing at labor benefit concerts.

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The impacts of law reform, globalization, and 9/11 on labor.

As the former secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO’s Industrial Union Department and the former director of the AFL-CIO Center for Strategic Campaigns, Joe Uehlein saw it all. And researchers will soon be able to experience these events from Uehlein’s perspective now that his papers are part of the Labor Collection. Continue reading

The Illustrated Wartime Correspondence of Hendrik Willem van Loon

One of my favorite duties as a graduate assistant is working the reference desk in the Maryland Room. Having only been a part of Special Collections and University Archives for less than a year, there are still a number of collections I haven’t seen, and helping others with their research is one way that I get to learn more about our holdings. Recently, a researcher introduced me to the illustrated letters of Hendrik Willem van Loon in the Helen Sioussat papers. I was delighted by the brightly colored, whimsical illustrations van Loon drew on the envelopes he sent Sioussat, and seeing them inspired me to learn more about the two friends, both of whom were compelling historical figures I knew little about.

Illustration of a whale on an envelope by Hendrik Willem van Loon, sent via airmail to Helen Sioussat in Nassau, Bahamas

Envelope from a letter from Hendrik Willem van Loon to Helen Sioussat, February 24, 1941

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Processing the Papers of a Maryland Environmentalist, Merilyn B. Reeves

In June 2016, Merilyn B. Reeves donated a collection of personal papers and publications to the University of Maryland’s Special Collections.  Reeves was a prominent member of the environmental movement in Maryland through her involvement in the League of Women Voters. She was Vice President of the League of Women Voters of Maryland and a member of the national board, where she was in charge of the Natural Resources Portfolio. Additionally, she was President of the American? Lung Association of Maryland and on the national-level board of the American Lung Association.  She tackled environmental issues such as the clean-up of the Chesapeake Bay and the Patuxent River and the defense of the Clean Air and Safe Water Acts before Congress, where she testified on several occasions. More locally, Reeves was a member of the West Laurel Civic Association and she acted as a tour guide for the Piscataway Wastewater Treatment and Patuxent River Water Filtration plants.

Reeves photo

Merilyn B. Reeves asking a question to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance at the League of Women Voters National Convention, May 1978

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