50 YEARS AGO:  Maryland Responds to Floods in Italy

Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Maryland Libraries is home to political collections such as the Spiro T. Agnew papers, the Theodore R. McKeldin papers, the Daniel Brewster papers, and the Hervey Machen papers, which contain information and interesting perspectives on local, national, and international events. One such event documented in these four collections is the effort of Marylanders to assist in the relief of Italians flooded out of their homes fifty years ago this month. In early November 1966, much of north-central Italy was inundated by flood waters. As many as 300 people may have been killed, up to 50,000 farm animals were drowned, and countless shops and buildings destroyed (1). Refugees sought shelter in makeshift housing. The cities of Florence and Venice were especially hard hit. Devastatingly, the great concentration of art, architecture, and cultural heritage found in Florence was subjected to flood waters that reached 22 feet high in some places. The National Library of Florence was underwater. Astride the Arno River, the Ponte Vecchio, which dates back 2300 years to Roman times, had been badly damaged.

mdhc-blog-on-italian-flood-relief-1966

The Baltimore News American collection includes photographs of the Italian floods of 1966. Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

The response to the 1966 flood in Florence was decidedly international, as Americans Continue reading

Presidential Campaigns – Through the Candidates’ Eyes

Think the current presidential election campaign has been unusual?  The new exhibit in the Maryland Room of Hornbake Library explores some of the strange techniques that presidential candidates have used to appeal to voters across much of American history. Candidates (or their spokespeople) have spread serious ideas and spurious notions; built interest from specific demographics of people; sought the support of parties and coalitions of parties; and deployed advertising to increase public visibility and name recognition.

The documents and artifacts in this exhibit date from the 1830s to the 1980s, and are drawn from a variety of collections available for research in the Maryland Room. These include the Spiro T. Agnew papers, the James Bruce papers, the Joseph Tydings papers, the archives of the National Organization for Women (Maryland Chapter), the Rare Books collection, and the Marylandia collection.

Items of particular interest, perhaps, are the autograph letter signed by Senator John F. Kennedy after his nomination by the Democratic Party in 1960, and two official White House photographs, which separately depict Vice President Spiro T. Agnew and President Ronald Reagan. But, then again, there’s the 1932 poster for Franklin D. Roosevelt which promoted “Beer Instead of Taxes.”

Visit these and more in the Maryland Room through the end of October.

AFL-CIO Archives now available at UMD

The George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive is the largest single donation to the University Libraries and complements other labor-related collections in our libraries. To find out more about related labor collections in Special Collections, please view Collections By Subject: Labor In America.

The AFL-CIO Archive consists of approximately 40 million documents and other material that will help researchers better understand pivotal social movements in this country, including those to gain rights for women, children and minorities.AFL-CIO boxes

The Current list of re-opened record groups from the George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive:

RG1:      Office of the President

  • RG1-010              Office of the President.  Rosa Lee Guard Papers, 1904-1927
  • RG1-011              Office of the President.  Samuel Gompers’ Copy Books, 1907 1924
  • RG1-012              Office of the President.  Correspondence with Politicians, 1908‑1944
  • RG1-013              Office of the President.  Samuel Gompers and Woodrow Wilson
  • RG1-015              Office of the President.  William Green Papers, 1888, 1909 1952
  • RG1-019              Office of the President.  President’s Files, William Green, 1869-1955
  • RG1-023              Office of the President.  President’s Files, William Green, 1940‑1952
  • RG1-026              Office of the President.  George Meany Papers, 1935-1960
  • RG1-027              Office of the President.  President’s Files, George Meany, 1947-1960
  • RG1-028              Office of the President.  Merger Files, State and Local Central Bodies, 1955‑1962
  • RG1-038              Office of the President.  George Meany Files, 1940-1980
  • RG1-039              Office of the President.  AFL-CIO Joint Minimum Wage Committee, 1954-1960
  • RG1-040              Office of the President.  AFL Cornerstone Papers, 1881-1916
  • RG1-041              Office of the President.  Jurisdiction Books, 1890-1978

RG2:      Secretary-Treasurer’s Office

  • RG2-001              Secretary Treasurer’s Office.  Gabriel Edmonston Papers, 1881 1912
  • RG2-002              Secretary Treasurer’s Office.  Frank Morrison’s Letterbooks, 1904 1925
  • RG2-003              Secretary‑Treasurer’s Office.  Frank Morrison, 1911‑1914
  • RG2-006              Office of the Secretary‑Treasurer.  Secretary‑ Treasurer’s Files, George Meany, 1940‑1953
  • RG2-007              Office of the Secretary‑Treasurer.  Secretary‑ Treasurer’s Files:  William F. Schnitzler, 1952‑1980
  • RG2-009              Secretary‑Treasurer’s Office.  AFL Account Books, 1887‑1925
  • RG2-010              Secretary‑Treasurer’s Office.  AFL, AFL‑CIO Charter Books, 1891‑1966

AFL-CIO boxesRG4:      Executive Council

  • RG4-004              Executive Council.  Correspondence, Minutes, Vote Books, 1891 1954
  • RG4-005              Executive Council.  Samuel Gompers Memorial Committee, 1924‑1936
  • RG4-006              Executive Council.  AFL CIO Executive Council Minutes, 1955 1969
  • RG4-008              American Federation of Labor.  Executive Council Minutes, 1893-1955
  • RG4-009              Congress of Industrial Organization.  Executive Board.  Proceedings, 1942-1955

RG5:     Office of the General Council

  • RG5-001              Office of the General Council.  Lawyers Coordinating Committee Oral History Project

RG9:      Civil Rights Department

  • RG9-001              Civil Rights Department.  AFL Records, 1943 1955; CIO Committee to Abolish Discrimination, 1948 1950; AFL CIO Director’s Files, 1956 1967
  • RG9-002              Civil Rights Department.  Discrimination Case Files, 1947 1984

RG13:   Research Department

George Meany

George Meany

  • RG13-001           Research Department.  Boris Shishkin Papers, 1918, 1927-1971
  • RG13‑002          Research Department.  Staff Files, Frank Fernbach, 1942 1968
  • RG13‑003          Research Department.  Staff Files, Nat Goldfinger, 1947‑1966
  • RG13‑004          CIO Research Department.  Staff Files, Everett Kassalow, 1947-1951
  • RG13 005            Research Department.  Director’s Files, Stanley H. Ruttenberg, 1946-1964
  • RG13‑006          Economic Research Department.  Office of Wage and Industrial Relations Records. Anne Draper Files, 1963‑1994
  • RG13-007           Research Department.  Convention Files, 1953

RG18:   International Affairs Department

  • RG18‑001          International Affairs Department.  Country Files, 1945‑1971
  • RG18‑002          CIO International Affairs Department.  Director’s Files, Michael Ross, 1945‑1955
  • RG18‑003          International Affairs Department.  Jay Lovestone Files, 1939 1974
  • RG18‑004          Affairs Department.  Irving Brown Files, 1943‑1989
  • RG18‑005          Affairs Department.  Staff Files:  George Delaney’s Files, 1921-1957
  • RG18‑007          International Affairs Department.  International Labor Organizations Activities, 1946-1985
  • RG18‑008          International Affairs Department.  AFL Advisors to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, 1944-1952
  • RG18‑009          International Affairs Department.  Staff Files:  Serafino Romualdi’s Files, 1945-1961
  • RG18‑010          International Affairs Department.  Country Files, 1969-1981.

RG20:  Information Department

  • RG20-001           Information Department.  Major News Publications of the CIO, AFL, and AFL-CIO, 1894-1996
  • RG20-002           Information Department.  CIO Union News Service, 1936-1950

RG95:   Private Donations

  • RG95-001           Morris S. Novik Papers, 1940 1989
  • RG95-002           Vanni Buscemi Montana Collection, 1925 1991
  • RG95-003           Virginia Tehas Oral Interview
  • RG95-004           Trades Union Congress Papers, 1942-1943
  • RG95-005           United Labor Policy Committee, 1950-1951
  • RG95-006           William Baillie Baird Papers, 1886-1927
  • RG95-007           Private Donations.  Lane Kirkland Papers, 1863-1998
  • RG95-008           Larry Rogin Papers, 1926-1988

RG96:   Still Images

  • RG96-001           Photographic Prints
  • RG96-003           Photographic Slides
  • RG96-004           Morris B. Schnapper Collection

The Revolution: French Pamphlets Illuminating the Past

Can’t get enough of French culture? Check out the French Pamphlets from the 1788-1804 Revolution, and the project that’s making them even more available to you.

Les Miserables movie poster

Click the image to visit the IMDB page for the 2012 movie Les Misérables.

Fiction provides an incredible lens through which readers can relate to events from the past. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway’s performances in the 2012 hit Les Misérables brought the famous musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel into pop culture. Some readers may imagine the French Revolution (which started over 40 years before Hugo’s student barricade) based on a popular high-school text: A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. Stories like these touch the heart and provide a personal experience of history that high-school textbooks just can’t achieve.

However, primary source materials also provide insightful perspective from the point of view of people who experienced the era first-hand. Take the French Pamphlets, a collection of publications during the French Revolution (June 1788 – December 1804). Students and researchers from fields like sociology, linguistics, government and politics, even art and design, benefit from studying documents that everyday people shared then like Internet memes are shared today.

Now, a collaboration of departments at the University of Maryland are working from a collection of 12,000 French pamphlets to make them more accessible to students and researchers.

Learn more about the incredible project at this page.

Read about the grants and partnerships that allowed this project to happen.

 

 

William Morris: A Rebel of His Time

Sitting at the welcome desk in Hornbake Library puts me right in front of our exquisitely designed William Morris exhibit, which opened at the beginning of September. Aesthetic quality aside, I did not have the slightest clue as to who William Morris actually was. So I decided that the only reasonable decision would be to find out exactly who this guy was and how he contributed to society. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that William Morris was a rebel of his generation and in simpler terms, a pretty cool dude.

Morris was born in England in 1834 and raised in a wealthy family. He was a child who was incredibly spoiled by his parents who lavished him with extravagant gifts. Around the age of nine, he became the lucky recipient of a pony and a suit of armor. Morris, in addition to his fiscal wealth, was also very intelligent. He was reading novels at the age of four and attended Oxford at the age of nineteen. When he was seventeen, Morris began to receive a generous allowance of 900 £ a year from his family fortune, which equates to $114,000.00 in today’s money. To me and probably a lot of other people, it sounds like Morris was living the dream.

However, Morris was a remarkably independently principled individual who rejected the values of the Victorian class system. Growing up in the Victorian Era, Morris was a part of the upper class that was born into money. One could not acquire wealth through individual strengths such as intelligence, hardwork, and perseverance. A family legacy of wealth and success dating years and years back was the only route to a life of the utmost privilege. In an impressive demonstration of autonomy, Morris became an advocate for socialism, a far cry from the principles he had been exposed to throughout his youth. Morris wrote various books about socialism and was the founder of the Socialist League, which dealt with equality, workers’ rights, and anti-war movements. He also fraternized with other famous socialists who joined the Socialist League, such as Eleanor Marx, Karl Marx’s daughter. Without much success, Morris often tried to persuade his rich friends to join the socialist movement. Morris also participated in protests for the freedom to publish pro-socialism texts and was actually arrested on more than one occasion.

Morris often felt that he belonged in another time period, much like many young people of today wish they were born in the 1960s. He was fascinated with the medieval way of life. The art, labor, and writings of the Middle Ages influenced much of his fantasy literature. Morris is considered the father of the fantasy literary genre, and has been cited as a major influence upon fellow authors J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. So next time you crack open a Game of Thrones novel or decide to sit down for a Harry Potter marathon, thank William Morris.

If you need someone interesting to focus on for a class project (Morris was active in politics, literature, and architecture), come visit the William Morris exhibit! Hornbake Library also has poetry and books written by Morris. Or, if you have an awkward gap between classes and want something better to do than wander through cyberspace, come visit our exhibit. You won’t be disappointed.

For more information on William Morris, visit:
http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/morris/wmbio.html

For more information on Hornbake Library’s William Morris exhibit, visit:
http://www.lib.umd.edu/williammorris/index.html

Tracey G.

Current Events: What do Ben Affleck and Special Collections have in common?

While holding a hymnal in one hand, President Jimmy Carter holds his left hand in front of his face as he prays with the families of the American hostages in Tehran on November 15, 1979 during an afternoon interfaith service at Washington’s National Cathedral. (UPI Photo/Tim Murphy/Files)
Read about it: http://www.upi.com/Audio/Year_in_Review/Events-of-1979/Iranian-Hostage-Crisis/12311692377023-2/

One of my projects at the Special Collections has been labeling and recording data from  reel-to-reel tapes in the WAMU-FM archive. While this may not sound like the most fascinating job (unless you REALLY love Excel?), the collection itself is incredible. A few weeks ago, I found some reels labeled “Hostage Crisis Report” and “Hostage News Conference” dated 1979.

This is one of the moments when you feel the past speaking to you. As new tragedies emerge, and our nation considers how to handle the latest international events, we can expect many charged discussions about freedom of speech, media, and politics. For example, news sources are portraying the anti-Islamic film as a “US-Made” film; do we feel this is an accurate representation? How does our national right to free speech translate to an international platform like the World Wide Web? How have we handled such situations before, and how will that influence us moving forward? What events shaped the current crisis, and how do we understand them?

Photo from the movie "Argo"It is more important than ever to inform ourselves about not just current events, but historical events that impact our present. Before the death of our ambassador, I had planned to write about historical politics in modern day entertainment, connecting the Hostage Crisis tapes in the archives to Ben Affleck’s upcoming film Argo. But now it seems that this film and UMD Libraries have something more important in common than just interest in a time period. While the former is a means for inspiring the public to learn more about a certain event, the Special Collections exists to create the informed individual, someone who can interpret the data recorded from the past to shape our future in a knowledgeable way. In that sphere of creating an informed citizenry, entertainment and special collections sometimes successfully collide–as I believe this example demonstrates.

What is your opinion? How do you inform yourself about current events? What resources have you used to shape your knowledge of freedom of speech on the WWW and international politics? What other examples of political entertainment exist, and are they successful at informing the public, or inspiring the public to search for information?

Sarah Espinosa, Student Assistant at the Special Collections