New Exhibit for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

This blog post and its accompanying exhibit in the main lobby of McKeldin Library chronicle the ongoing student activism at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) to create a culture that actively works to prevent power-based violence and support survivors of sexual assault.

Though sexual assault was not part of the public discourse at UMD prior to the 1970s, examples from the 1950s and 1960s highlight how sexual assault and rape culture impacted student life. This Associated Women Students Revised Dress Code from 1968 highlights the way that women were seen as responsible for the treatment they received based on their personal appearance, and how accepted standards of behavior based on gender roles often reinforced and obscured rape culture. Strict limitations on women’s conduct and dress connect to an ideal of purity and serve to prevent women from having sexual contact before marriage. Women were often blamed for any unwanted contact if they did not abide by these codes. Ideas like these often reinforce the idea that rape is result of the behavior or appearance of the victim, rather than the actions of the perpetrator. It is also important to note that these stark distinctions between men and women can often erase the fact that a person of any gender can be sexually assaulted.

Report from the Association of Women Students
Association of Women Students — Reports, 1954-1964. Division of Student Affairs records, 5.1.4. Special Collections and University Archives. University of Maryland Libraries.

During the 1970s, with the emergence of the women’s liberation movement, there was an upsurge in student organizing around sexual assault. Considered to be the third peak of sexual violence activism, the 1970s included the first anti-rape efforts on campus. This third peak built off of the first (late 1800s) and second (1940s-50s) peaks of activism led by black women, such as Lucy Smith and Ida B. Wells in the late 1800’s and Rosa Parks and Recy Taylor in the 1940s and 1950s. In the 1970s, UMD students worked to create a campus Rape Crisis Center, a Women’s Center, and a Women’s Information Center in collaboration with partners across campus. Student activists have been participating in rallies like Take Back the Night since the 1970s and the Clothesline Project since the 1990s

The “300 March Against Rape” article from the Diamondback reports on UMD’s first Take Back the Night march, which the campus Women’s Center organized in November, 1979. In 1980, the Student Government Association bought and began distributing rape whistles, along with “rape-prevention literature,” in response to the rapes of two women during the Fall 1979 semester. It was suggested that those taking the whistles make a 50 cent donation. Several campus advocates, including a member of the Women’s Center, criticized the effort and suggested that the money could have been spent more strategically to raise awareness about rape prevention, as opposed to risk reduction strategies, like rape whistles, which put responsibility on individuals to prevent sexual assault from happening to them, inadvertently supporting victim-blaming ideology. Since the 1980’s a conscious effort by activists has shifted sexual assault prevention away from putting responsibility on people to prevent assault from happening to them, and now focuses on consent and bystander intervention education.

Article 300 march against rape from the Diamondback
The Diamondback. (November 9, 1979). Special Collections and University Archives. University of Maryland Libraries.
Image of student Sharon Cohen with a box of rape whistles
Student Sharon Cohen shows box of rape whistles at McKeldin Library, 1980.

During the 1990s and 2000s, the dialog on campus turned toward addressing the multiplicity of survivors’ experiences. The Black Explosion article from 2000, reporting on their most recent Take Back the Night, highlights an understanding that the experiences of individuals who have been sexually assaulted and the activists involved are not monolithic.

Community Takes Back the Night headline in Black Explosion from 2000
Black Explosion. (April 27, 2000). Special Collections and University Archives. University of Maryland Libraries.

Due to the continued efforts of student activists, the university created several offices to address power-based violence. In 2002, UMD created The Office of the Victim Advocate, its first office on campus office dedicated to responding to power-based violence. Since then, evolutions in office structure, including the development of a peer program, the creation of a Victim Assistance Fund, a growing staff, and the merging of offices focused on Advocacy and Prevention, has culminated in the Campus Advocates Respond and Educate (CARE) to Stop Violence office. CARE provides free, confidential advocacy and therapy services to primary and secondary survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, and sexual harassment, while simultaneously empowering the campus community to prevent power-based violence through educational presentations, events, and outreach activities. Most recently in 2017, continued student advocacy and cultural and political attention resulted in the creation of the Sexual Assault Prevention Committee, a multi-disciplinary committee of students, faculty, and staff dedicated to coordinating sexual assault prevention efforts on campus.

CARE to Stop Violence service desk

There have been significant changes in how students and administration understand and respond to sexual assault over the past 40 years. When this dialog began, prevention often focused on risk-reduction strategies, like improved lighting and rape whistles. These initiatives place responsibility on individuals to protect themselves, rather than trying to prevent assault in the first place. Today, CARE focuses on providing support services for survivors and educating the campus community on consent and bystander intervention. Focus is also moving toward including the multiple identities and experiences of survivors, rather than framing sexual assault as a women’s issue, which has excluded and silenced many survivors over the years.

Currently, in what is considered the fourth peak of sexual violence activism, the cultural reckoning with the immensity of sexual violence has been overwhelming. As students continue to experience sexual assault at UMD, many survivors choose not to report because of the fears of reliving or extending their trauma. However, changing policy and increased education around sexual assault are bringing more people into the conversation and many members of our campus community continue to dedicate themselves to shifting the culture.

by Clare Kuntz Balcer and Charlotte Sheffield

If you would like to speak to an advocate or want to know more about CARE’s advocacy and therapy services, visit the CARE office in the Health Center Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm (no appointment necessary) or call or text the 24/7 CARE Crisis Cell at (301) 741-3442.

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Offensive content in our collections

Since the revelation of Governor Ralph Northam’s offensive yearbook photos a few weeks ago, many have taken time to dig into their own University’s historical yearbooks to see if they also contained offensive and racist imagery. Due to libraries’ efforts to provide free and publicly accessible digital versions of material online, it didn’t take researchers long to find these histories in their alma mater’s past.

Academic librarians are actively communicating with each other, seeking advice so that we foster access to these materials, and the offensive language and imagery, in responsible ways. Historical material can contain images and language that illustrates racist or hateful attitudes toward people of color, people identifying as LBGTQ, people with disabilities or people from other marginalized communities. These images and language are offensive, and sometimes traumatizing, especially for those who have experienced violence, acts of hate, or microagressions in their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

Here at the University of Maryland, our librarians believe in the importance of facilitating the dissemination of knowledge and information, providing a broad view of the University’s history. We seek to be transparent about our digitization choices and practices. Digitization has allowed increased access and discovery of our collections and our campus’ history.  It is not our wish to hide anything from our collections. We know offensive material is there, and we want these records to be to used for research. Our collections enable all of us to engage in more truthful conversations about this history.

We encourage you to use our online collections or to visit us in person to see material that is not yet available online.

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.

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

LGBTQIA Terps Share Their Stories

LGBToralHistoryQuestions2018

Oral history questionnaire for the video project

October 11th marked the 30th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, a yearly event that celebrates individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community who have “come out” to the people in their lives.

Special Collections and University Archives had the pleasure of sponsoring the UMD Pride Alliance event, “What’s Your Story?,” where students, faculty, and staff volunteered to create video testimonies of their own coming out stories. In addition to sharing their own “coming out” stories, interviewees also talked about their experiences at the University of Maryland, and how they’ve been able to develop their own communities on campus.

The video project, a concept created by UMD student Maria Aragon, is an extension of our LGBTQ Oral History Project, which began in April 2018. The project seeks to capture the history of LGBTQIA students, faculty, staff and alumni at the University of Maryland.


 

Post by Ashleigh Coren, Special Collections Librarian for Teaching and Learning

Join us for afternoon tea

The University of Maryland Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives would like to invite you to join us for Afternoon Tea at our Annual Open House on October 15th between 2-4pm.

Special Collections and University Archives is home to a number of collections that capture the complex history of immigration to the United States. This year, we hope to engage in conversations with you about these objects and this history.

Driven by the passion of faculty, staff and students across University of Maryland’s schools and colleges, the Year of Immigration programming strives to increase awareness about immigration, global migration and refugees and to use that education to foster a more diverse and inclusive community.

To participate, drop by anytime during the event. We can’t wait to share a cup with you.

Join us for an afternoon tea at our fall open house on Monday, October 15th from 2-4pm in the first floor lobby of Hornakbe Library North

An invitation to our annual open house

Speak Your Truth

Join us for a very special event as we celebrate Pride Month!

 

Speak Your Truth

The LGBTQ Oral History Project

April 12 & 19
3:00 – 6:00pm
LGBT Equity Center
2218, Marie Mount Hall

RSVP at go.umd.edu/queertruth

Special Collections & University Archives, in collaboration with the LGBT Equity Center, will be conducting short interviews and gathering stories that reflect on and share the experience of being LGBTQ+ on campus or in the community! These will be preserved and added to the University Archives. Interested in sharing yours?

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