A Life in Letters: Katherine Anne Porter Digitization Continues!

We are excited to be back in action, kicking off phase 4 of the Katherine Anne Porter correspondence digitization project! Porter was an award winning author best known for her short stories, including Pale Horse, Pale Rider and her full length novel Ship of Fools. In 1966 Porter donated her literary archive to Special Collections at the University of Maryland, where a room was created in her honor. Now housed on the first floor of Hornbake Library, the Katherine Anne Porter room showcases book, photos, furniture, and memorabilia collected during her life.

Katherine Anne Porter talking with R. Lee Hornbake at the dedication of the original Katherine Anne Porter room in McKeldin library, May 15, 1968
Continue reading

The Visual Culture of Labor in the 1930s: A Visit to the George Meany Labor Archive

On February 8 and 10, 2022, the twelve students in ARTH488D: Mining the Visual Culture of the Great Depression visited the University of Maryland’s Special Collections to explore 1930s materials from the George Meany Labor Archive. Students leafed through folders of original documents and photographs, and worked together to select and analyze a key primary source of their choosing. Our goal was to ask what we could learn from these materials– especially their visual form–about how people experienced the economic crisis and labor struggles of the Depression era. Please enjoy our explorations below!

“No Help Wanted”

This cartoon from a periodical clipping from 1931 in the midst of the Great Depression, shows a man looking at a sign that reads “NO HELP WANTED”. He appears to be sad and dejected. A connection between the viewer and the figure in the image can be made by the way they are both reading the sign at the same time. The figure’s back is turned, directing the viewer’s eyes to the message, while also noticing his posture which shows emotions of dejection, tiredness, and worry. This item creates feelings of sympathy and sadness for the figure and feelings of wanting to help and support him. This image appears to be reproduced in a magazine or pamphlet of sorts to encourage workers to take action in protest for better working conditions, job opportunities, wages, and so much more. We believe this image was intended to resonate with people affected by the crash of the Great Depression. Having the opportunity to look at this primary source allows us to further understand the struggles that working and lower-class citizens endured during a time period of limited jobs and low pay. #GreatDeressionVisualCulture #NoHelpWanted #RouseHimToAction

–Jessica and John

Continue reading

New Exhibit: A Tale of Fine Wenches: the Women of The Ladies’ Almanack

“Now this be a Tale of as fine a Wench as ever wet the bed…”

Ladies Almanack, 1928

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are celebrating Djuna Barnes’ female focused comedic satire Ladies Almanack

Ladies Almanack was published in 1928 while Barnes was living as an expatriate writer/artist in Paris. She originally wrote it to entertain her partner Thelma Wood, who had been hospitalized. As such, the bawdy humor and absurdist parody almanac is full of inside jokes and references to Barnes’ and Wood’s lesbian (with the exception of Mina Loy) social circle of fellow modernist writers, artists, socialites, and literary women. 

A new exhibit in Hornbake Library A Tale of Fine Wenches: the Women of The Ladies’ Almanack puts the spotlight on Djuna Barnes and the real women who inspired uproarious drama within Ladies Almanack.  On display are a selection of items from the Djuna Barnes papers, including books, photographs, and correspondence that explores the relationships between these women, varying from platonic to romantic. 

Ladies Almanack features a plethora of particularly scandalous women, whose unique vices reference various women, including Natalie Clifford Barney, Mina Loy, Jane Heap, Margaret Anderon, and Gertrude Stein. Characters also appear based on Romaine Brooks, Janet Flanner, Solita Solano, Elisabeth de Gramont, and Dolly Wilde. Together, these women represent a thriving literary and artistic community living in Paris during the 1920s and 1930s.

These women often met at Natalie Clifford Barney’s Parisian salon, which at the time was a popular place among writers and authors to discuss literature and art. Barnes characterizes Barney’s Almanack persona as an aged proprietor of the feminine arts, emphasizing her role as a mentor to the many women who visited her salon. Among these women, Djuna Barnes and Thelma Wood, and Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap were romantically involved. Barnes and Wood’s tumultuous decade-long relationship inspired Barnes’ novel Nightwood, and Anderson and Heap co-edited The Little Review, a literary magazine infamous for featuring works by prominent modernist writers and the first appearance of James Joyce’s Ulysses in a serial format. 

To explore more, visit  Special Collections and University Archives in Hornbake Library to view the Djuna Barnes papers and works by other modernist writers.  

If you have more questions about items in Hornbake’s collections contact us!

“Get Out the Vote” Spotlight – National Organization for Women

The purpose of NOW is to take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.

The National Organization for Women’s 1966 Statement of Purpose

National Organization for Women (NOW) was formed in 1966 as an organization focused directly on advancing women’s rights. It was and remains the most visible second-wave feminist organization, and it represents the first independent American women’s movement since the women’s suffrage movement at the beginning of the 20th century.
 
Twenty-eight women co-founded NOW, including well-known feminists like Shirley Chisholm, Betty Friedan, and Pauli Murray. Their original statement of purpose, written by Friedan and Murray, declared that “the time has come to confront, with concrete action, the conditions that now prevent women from enjoying the equality of opportunity and freedom of choice which is their right, as individual Americans, and as human beings.” Today, their platform also addresses  voting rights. They argue that women are disproportionately affected by voter suppression and work to get feminist candidates elected to office.

Explore the records of the National Organization for Women, Maryland Chapter in Special Collections and University Archives in Hornbake Library.

At the heart of the Special Collections & University Archives exhibit Get Out the Vote: Suffrage and Disenfranchisement in America are advocates and grassroots organizations who have fought for expanding the right to vote. Their individual and collective voices have driven major changes to American voting rights, moving the nation closer to the ideal of “one person, one vote.”

Visit the Maryland Room Exhibit Gallery in Hornbake Library to view the exhibit Get Out the Vote: Suffrage and Disenfranchisement in America or explore the exhibit online.

Degrees of Change: Student Activist History at UMD

Student activism has shaped university and campus life at the University of Maryland, College Park. The University Archives at Hornbake Library preserves and actively collects objects that give us a window into the important history of student activism and the individuals involved in these movements. 

Please enjoy this student assistant video project that highlights several notable moments in UMD student activist history and provides important reminders for those conducting their own archival research!

Investigating Archival Narratives: Student Activism at the University of Maryland

Digitizing the AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department records

In May 2021, Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) began a three year grant project with Georgia State University’s Southern Labor Archive – “Advancing Workers Rights in the American South: Digitizing the Records of the AFL-CIO’s Civil Rights Division.”

SCUA will digitize and make accessible online approximately 45 linear feet (or 20-25%) from the AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department records (listed below), as well as 20 – 16mm films from the AFL-CIO Labor Film collection.  Georgia State University’s Special Collections & Archives will be digitizing 119 linear feet and some audio recordings from the Records from the AFL-CIO’s Southern Area Director’s Office Civil Rights Division for online access.  This project is supported by a Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  For more details about the grant award visit CLIR’s list of 2020 funded projects and the University of Maryland Libraries’ announcement.

Continue reading

What’s in a place name? Exploring the history of Piscataway Park and Accokeek Creek Site

Before European settlers invaded their lands in the seventeenth century, Indigenous communities of different sizes, languages, and cultures existed throughout present-day Maryland. Algonquian peoples, including the Piscataway, Conoy, and Mattaponi tribes, lived and traveled along the Potomac River, from the Chesapeake Bay to present-day Washington, D.C., including in nearby Accokeek, Maryland. Early travel accounts of white colonizers, like the journals and maps of Captain John Smith, identify geographic names that designated the Native peoples, cultures, and languages of those places. Many of these Indigenous words, such as Chesapeake, Patapsco, and Wicomico, still mark the landscape today. Accokeek, for example, derives its name from the Algonquian word for “at the edge of the hill,” and the neighboring Potomac River is named for the Patawomeck tribe that lived along the waterway’s southern bank.

Black and white photo of entrance sign: "Moyaone Reserve." A forest of trees is behind the sign and an unpaved road lays before it.
Entrance to Moyaone Reserve, circa 1957

Just as Native place names endure, so do Native communities and sites of their local cultural heritage and historical significance. Accokeek, Maryland is home to Piscataway Park, named after the local Piscataway tribe and divided into seven areas, including the Moyaone Reserve, a present-day residential community. In 1922, husband and wife Henry and Alice Ferguson purchased the land upon which Moyaone Reserve rests as a rural getaway from their daily lives in Washington, D.C. Interested in the history of the land, the Fergusons initiated archaeological digs beginning in the 1930s. These digs unearthed evidence of Indigenous presence in the area extending back thousands of years and gave the area its name. Moyaone (pronounced Moy-own) translates to “home place” and was an important village of the local Piscataway tribe, which John Smith visited in 1608 and is believed to have been situated near the present-day Moyaone Reserve.

Black and white aerial photo of the Moyaone Reserve mid-excavation, circa 1936. The land is mostly untouched except for a crescent strip that appears to have been stripped and excavated.
Aerial view of Moyaone excavation site, 1936
Continue reading

Featured collection: Filipino American Community Archives

The Rita M. Cacas Filipino American Community Archives documents significant historic events related to the transition of United States’ occupation of the Philippines (1898-1946) to the country’s independence, including Filipino military and government service. Unlike the west coast Filipino immigrants (primarily farmers, laborers, cannery workers) during the first half of the twentieth century, D.C. area Filipino immigrants worked for the U.S. government and the military serving in World Wars I and II, and for federal or local government and educational agencies. This collection is important in depicting the lives of first and second-generation Filipino-American immigrants and how their families developed. The collection demonstrates Washington, D.C., Filipino ties and fluidity of movement to the Philippines, to other areas of the country, and to the Washington, D.C. area. The individuals portrayed in this collection are the Filipinos who eventually created a community in the D.C metro area before the immigration reform of the 1960s and the completion of the Beltway in 1964.

This collection also is also beginning to document succeeding generations of Filipino Americans. After immigration laws relaxed in 1965, the next large wave of Filipinos began arriving and settling in the D.C. . Their stories are very different from the early Filipino immigrants in D.C. who were U.S. colonial and federal civilian government workers, taxi cab drivers, and WWII soldiers who fought under the American flag.

Explore the Filipino American Community Archives collection finding aid

Mr. and Mrs. Panganiban with two other men outside Manila House, 1944

What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextual information may also be included.

Featured collection: Children’s Television Workshop records

The Children’s Television Workshop (CTW) records document the founding and organization of CTW, as well as the public television programming that they produced and distributed. Included are administrative reports and correspondence, program files, research articles and data, press clippings and notices, international programming files, and the files of the Community Education Services.

CTW, now known as Sesame Workshop, was conceptualized as a television program that would promote early childhood education, especially for low0income families. Two years later, in 1968, CTW was officially founded. With support from several organizations, including the United States Office of Education, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Ford Foundation, and NET, among others. In 1968, Cooney also managed to recruit Jim Henson and his puppets for their help on their new program Sesame Street, which debuted in November 1969 and continues on air today.

CTW debuted several subsequent programs including The Electric CompanyFeelin’ GoodThe Best of Families3-2-1 Contact, and Square One TV, among others. In 2000, CTW officially changed its name to the Sesame Workshop which today continues with the mission to “help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.”

Explore the Children’s Television Workshop records finding aid


What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextual information may also be included.

Celebrating American Archives Month with Maryland & Historical Collections

October is American Archives Month, a month-long celebration of historic documents and records and the people that make them available for use. In Maryland & Historical Collections (MDHC), we know that people give our collections purpose. These people include the subjects represented in our collections, the students and researchers who use our materials in person and virtually, and the staff and volunteers who innovate ways of sharing Maryland history and culture with the public.

I recently spoke with two MDHC student assistants, Susannah Holliday and Matt LaRoche, to learn their thoughts on archives and the work they contribute to Special Collections and University Archives. Susannah is a graduate student in the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program, and Matt is a graduate student in the dual History and Library Science (HiLS) program. Working in MDHC gives them opportunities to apply what they learn in their classes to the everyday practices of a real archive. As the archivists of the future, Susannah and Matt offer great insight into the value of the historic record and the possibilities that exist when more people are involved in archives.

Susannah Holliday (left) and Matt LaRoche (right) stand outside on UMD's campus, each maneuvering a dolly stacked with several records boxes.
Archives everywhere! Susannah Holliday (left) and Matt LaRoche (right) transport archival materials across campus to their new home at Hornbake Library.
Continue reading