The Letters of Katherine Anne Porter Now Available Online!

We are proud to announce a new online resource exploring the life and work American author Katherine Anne Porter is now available!

Katherine Anne Porter: Correspondence from the Archives, 1912-1977  provides access to digitized correspondence written by Porter, whose literary archives is held in Special Collections and University Archives in Hornbake Library. Previously, researchers interested in reading her letters visited the Maryland Room (the reading room for special collections and University Archives) in person or requested photocopies/scans of the materials. Now, users have instant access to approximately 3800 items of her correspondence, which have been digitized and made accessible online, via a searchable and browsable database .

This online resource is the result of an extensive digitization project in the Libraries. The Katherine Anne Porter Correspondence Project is an ongoing collaboration between the University of Maryland Libraries Special Collections and University Archives and Digital System and Stewardship units, supported by a grant from the Katherine Anne Porter Literary Trust. 

Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980) is known primarily for her short stories and novel, Ship of Fools. She was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1966 for The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter. She lived a rich life, traveling across the United States and abroad while writing both fiction and nonfiction. Her correspondence highlights her interests in writing, travel, politics, and current events, as well as documenting her private life and career.

Katherine Anne Porter: Correspondence from the Archives, 1912-1977  offers a glimpse into her bustling life and career, providing background information and historical context for both Porter enthusiasts and those unfamiliar with her work.

Along with images of Porter throughout her life, users can explore details of Porter’s life by decade, as well as by the places she lived and visited, both in the US and abroad. These glimpses into her biography reveal fascinating aspects of her life. For example, did you know Katherine Anne Porter contracted the Spanish Influenza while working as a reporter in Denver? That she lived in Berlin during the rise of the Nazi Party? Did you know Porter lived in College Park, MD? And she lived in Washington D.C. at the time of the Kennedy inauguration?

Visit Katherine Anne Porter: Correspondence from the Archives, 1912-1977 and discover more!

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Celebrating Black Authors and Poets in Special Collections

To celebrate Black History Month, a new exhibit is on display in Hornbake Library highlighting black authors and poets from our literary collections in Special Collections and University Archives!

On display are landmark 20th century literary works by Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Alex Haley, W.E.B. DuBois, Chester Himes, John A. Williams , and Richard Wright. Also included in the exhibit is poetry by Langston Hughes, Lucille Clifton, and Ted Joans.

Ranging from signed first editions (Invisible Man, Ellison) to popular trade paperback editions (If He Hollers Let Him Go, Himes), these titles offer a glimpse into the wide variety of African American literature and poetry in our collections.

Also on display is a rare edition of Negro Anthology, edited by activist Nancy Cunard. Published in 1934, Negro Anthology is a collection of poetry, historical studies, music, and other writings documenting Black culture of the era. Artists represented in the book include Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston.

Visit Hornbake Library to view these impressive works of literature in person, or visit us online to explore more titles in our literary collections.

Have any questions? Contact us!

Collection Highlight: The Labor Heritage Foundation


John Handcox performing with Mike Honey. 0115-LBR, Box 14, Folder 26.

The Labor Heritage Foundation (LHF), an Allied Group of the AFL-CIO, was founded in 1983 by Joe Glazer, Joe Uehlein, and Saul Schniderman. The non-profit strives to promote labor activism through a combination of music, arts, and culture. Donated to the University of Maryland in 2016, the LHF records document decades of labor activities and events including: correspondence with leaders in the labor movement like Pete Seeger and Archie Green, administrative documents, songbooks, photographs, and audiovisual materials.

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Navigating Archival Collections

As we prepare to say goodbye to ArchivesUM, we look toward the future and how much better searching will be using our new Archival Collections database. Our previous blog post explored why we decided to adopt a new database for managing our finding aids. This post will provide tips for successful navigation within the new Archival Collections database.

Welcome to Archival Collections. The homepage provides some background on what users can expect to find using this search and helpful tips on how to request desired material for use.

Archival collections homepage
Archival collections homepage

Searching is super simple and results to keyword searches much improved. Advanced search is already included on the main page, but simple keyword search will yield great results.

On the results page, you will see individual items, folders, digital material or collections, related to your search term. Use the filters on the right hand side of the screen to limit your results by date, type or choose another filter. For more information or to find answers to frequently asked questions, visit our Archival Collections help page.

Archival Collections search results page
Archival Collections search results page

Once you find something that you would like to view, click the “Request” button in the top right column of the item record to view the box, and click “Request” again to import the information into your Special Collections Account.

Archival Collections item page
Archival Collections item page
Archival Collections box list page
Archival Collections box list page

Returning users will be prompted to login. If you are a new user, you will need to set up an account.

Special Collections Account login screen
Special Collections Account login screen

Once you have imported everything into your account, you will select the first group of up to 15 items or boxes that you would like to view in our reading room and schedule the date of your visit. Material can be requested on site, but it is recommended that you request material in advance of your visit in case it needs to be pre-screened or retrieved from Severn Library. Material can be placed on hold and quickly retrieved upon your arrival, allowing you to get right to your research.

Special Collections Account unsubmitted requests screen
Special Collections Account unsubmitted requests screen

For more information about any of these topics visit our Archival Collections help page.

The Knapp Papers: Citizen Involvement in the Giles-Johnson Case

Racial injustice in the state of Maryland has a long, painful history. This semester, while working as a student assistant for Special Collections, I processed the Harold A. and Barbara B. Knapp papers. This archival collection sheds light on an example of this difficult history and demonstrates that everyday citizens can play a role in challenging racially-motivated law enforcement and legal decisions.

The Harold A. and Barbara B. Knapp papers document a white couple’s involvement with the Giles-Johnson Defense Committee. This volunteer group of about sixty Montgomery County citizens worked for the defense of James and John Giles and Joseph Johnson, three African-American men accused of raping a white, teenaged girl in 1961. The Knapp papers were donated by Barbara Knapp in May 2018, and complement an existing collection at UMD, the Giles-Johnson Defense Committee records. The Knapp papers collection is useful for researchers studying race relations in Maryland, sexual assault cases, and capital punishment.  The collection also provides important documentation on civil rights, citizen action, and community activism.

giles image

John Giles (left) and James Giles (right) at the Maryland Penitentiary in December 1963. Harold A. and Barbara B. Knapp papers.

The collection includes correspondence, reports, notes, legal documents, clippings, a scrapbook, and audio recordings related to the Knapps’ involvement with the Giles-Johnson case.  I rehoused the materials in acid-free folders, removed metal fasteners, and separated newspaper clippings from other papers with acid-free paper. After establishing physical control over the collection, I arranged the materials into four series: working files, Giles-Johnson legal documents, related cases, and audio recordings. I then creating a finding aid for the collection with a Historical Note, Scope and Contents Note, and series descriptions. The finding aid for the Knapp papers will eventually be available online.

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Mathematics in the stacks

Last semester we received a request to develop a tour for students in MATH107. At first glance, this seemed like an unlikely fit for our education program. The instructor explained that her students were mostly arts, humanities, and social science majors and we quickly understood how this collaboration could be a great opportunity to reach out to these students.

I worked with the curators of our collections to identify material. Course topics included:

…data analysis, equations, systems of equations, inequalities, elementary linear programming, Venn diagrams, counting, basic probability, permutations, combinations, tree diagrams, standard normal and normal distributions…includes problem solving and decision making in economics, management, and social sciences.

Curators recommended a great deal of material that I had no idea existed within out stacks! This was truly a hidden collection.

Material fell into four thematic sets, including early books on mathematics, educational resources, workplace tools, and discussions of gender and mathematics. Explore the resources used for the class below and, no matter your topic, reach out to us to explore potential educational opportunities. You might be surprised what we can find related to your topics.

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Introducing new archival collection search!

We have some exciting news to share in Special Collections! After years of work behind the scenes, we are rolling out a new database to help you conduct research using our archival collections.

For the last 11 years, we have used a tool called ArchivesUM to provide access to our archival finding aids. The time has come to say goodbye to ArchivesUM. We are rolling out a new product, called ArchivesSpace, to help improve our user experience, database search-ability, information organization and indexing of our finding aids. ArchivesSpace is a an open source web application used by many other academic libraries for managing archives information.

ArchivesSpace helps us to move away form static, single-page finding aids to a dynamic database that will allow users to easily search by keyword, dates, names, and other useful terms. Users will be able to locate relevant collections, series, folders, and items returned in each search. We will outline more about features and tips over the coming weeks, so follow our blog to learn more.

Our staff has been working with ArchivesSpace for several years, using the back end system to help us organize information about our collections and prepare for the time when we were able to move forward with a new and improved public interface. We have been working with a group of librarians and technicians, both within the UMD Libraries and across the country, to continue to improve the system.

We are excited to announce that we will officially switch to our new discovery system January 28th. To see the upcoming changes, you can use the new Beta site link. More changes are still to come, and we would appreciate your help making those final changes. Please send us feedback as you use this new tool and help us make it even better.  

ArchivesSpace homepage screen shot from December 19, 2018
Beta site for the new finding aid database, official launch date is January 28, 2019