Student Spotlight: Instruction & Outreach GA Edie Sandler

IMG_3915_1It is a leisurely summer weekend following my freshman year at UCLA, and I’ve got my fencing  gear packed in the back of my boyfriend’s 1986 Volvo, and four hours until practice. Just enough time to warrant spending 20-something dollars for a visitor’s ticket to the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA. The grounds are breathtaking and perfectly manicured; the reputation of its art collection peerless and the architecture of the library and museum impressive. But nothing compared to the moment I walked into the library and spotted the vault.  The vault door looks like something out of a bank, cracked open just far enough for the curious to get a glimpse inside.  I was hooked.

Years later, I am now married to the boyfriend with the 1986 Volvo, though the Volvo is long gone and I now live and work in the DC area. Though I miss being able to visit the Huntington Library, I am thrilled to be working as Graduate Assistant for Instruction and Outreach in Special Collections and University Archives at Hornbake Library, especially because it doesn’t cost me 20-something dollars to come to work every day. There might be a perception that the job of a librarian is boring and repetitive, but I can now confirm that that is not necessarily the case.

My main project has been the Alice 150 Years and Counting exhibit. The exhibit team and I began with a rough plan of how we wanted to organize the exhibit, which evolved into outreach and social media plans and a year-long timeline. Over the course of that year, I helped flesh out the details, working with my fellow co-curator, the collectors, the designer, and a team of library staff and student interns.  I learned how to use Photoshop to manipulate digitized images and design captions, signs and all kinds of ephemera. I edited caption, panel, and other text countless times. I compiled facts and quotes and scheduled them on social media, wrote blog posts, designed lobby screens, wrote a press release, and more. I used the phrase “fall down the rabbit hole” so many times, I thought I may have fallen down some kind of rabbit hole myself.

Was I relieved when the exhibit finally opened in October? A little. I felt like I understood a little bit better what it’s like to see your baby all grown up and going to college. But there is still work to be done with Alice. I’m working on getting the online exhibit up now, and soon a catalog will follow.

I also get to flex my teaching muscles as part of my GA-ship. I’ve worked closely with our Instruction and Outreach Coordinator to develop lesson plans and pull material for undergraduate classes who come to Hornbake to learn about what we do and how they can use our resources for their research. One of my favorite classes was a Shakespeare course that was interested in comparing early editions of Shakespeare. Watching the class get excited about early 17th and 18th century Shakespearean literature got my heart all a-flutter.

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Every day of my job is different and I love it. I feel like a dragon sitting on a treasure trove of books, papers and other archival odds and ends. But in my story, I welcome the hero into my treasure-trove, where he finds all the other heroes of past journeys reading animatedly. That is what I believe is the responsibility of a Special Collections. Not only to allow people to come share in the treasure, but to reach out and show them that what we have and what we can do is priceless beyond measure.


Women’s History Month: Defining “Normal” Pt.II

Just in case you can’t visit the display in Hornbake Library, Defining “Normal,” here are some of the items we’re featuring to celebrate Women’s History Month!

“Single Blessedness”

Does marriage define a normal woman? Clara Barton never married, but she accomplished great things that have inspired both men and women alike. At the same time, women who look forward to marriage and raising families may face scorn and discrimination, both from the workplace, society, and other feminists.

Clara Barton, 2nd from the left, at Clara Barton House in Cabin John, Maryland. From the Clara Barton Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Clara Barton, 2nd from the left, at Clara Barton House in Cabin John, Maryland. From the Clara Barton Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Clara Barton

Do you think Clara Barton, the American Red Cross founder known as the “Angel of the Battlefield,” is “trapped by so-called single blessedness?” (Single Girl, Dr. Brown).

  • Barton established the first free public school in Bordentown, New Jersey
  • She served as a clerk in the U.S. Patent Office, one of the first regularly appointed female civil servants
  • Until Clara Barton, women were not allowed in hospitals or on battlefields; she provided aid and supplies on 16 battlefields

Associated Women Students

The self-governing body of women students called the Associated Women Students formed between 1953 and 1954. The purpose of the association was to

 “establish and enforce standards of conduct for women students; sponsor cultural and social activities; coordinate women’s activities on campus; and promote the development of leadership, good scholarship, and self-responsibility among the co-eds.”

A 1961 Bridal Fair sponsored by the Associated Women Students, documented in the scrapbooks, includes a list of fashions for the bride marrying a professional man (click for PDF of the Bridal Fashion Show). For example,

SO YOU’RE GOING TO MARRY AN ENGINEER! (…..wear yella for that fella!)

Would this be “normal” for a woman now? What judgments and stereotypes might the Associated Women Students have to face today?

The 1961 Scrapbook of the Associated Women Students, featuring pages about their Bridal Fair on April 18th.

The 1961 Scrapbook of the Associated Women Students, featuring pages about their Bridal Fair on April 18th.

International Women’s Day Resources from UMD Libraries

Each month, the Special Collections displays rare, unique items from our collection that resonate with present-day events. On March 1st through March 31, 2013, visit the Maryland Room on the 1st floor of Hornbake Library and delve deeper into women’s history. We’ll also provide online tools, resources, and information about our displays and women’s history every Wednesday and Sunday this month.

Our display honors International Women’s Day on March 8th.

The exhibit “Taking a Leading Role” offers a sampling of items drawn from Library of American Broadcasting collections. The photo depicts Martha Brooks.

University of Maryland Libraries Resources for the student or researcher of women’s history

Women’s history and the struggle for equality covers a broad spectrum of issues, events, and individuals. To support International Women’s Day and students or researchers of women’s history, here is a list of some online resources (exhibits, collections, and subject guides) available from the Special Collections and other University of Maryland Libraries. If you run into a resource only accessible to University of Maryland researchers, and you need access to something in these guides, we welcome you to contact us for more information.

Online Exhibits

Taking a Leading Role: Women in Broadcasting History

Women on the Border: Maryland Perspectives of the Civil War

Nancy Drew and Friends: Girls’ Series Books Rediscovered


The Maryland Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment, May 1986. Image may be under copyright.


Are you interested in the individual voices of women? Are you searching for organizations in history that represented women’s communities or rights?

Here is a list of finding aids for materials at the Special Collections. Some of these items are digitized and available online through Digital Collections (online items will be noted in the finding aids).

You can also search Digital Collections using the terms “woman,” “women,” “women’s rights,” and similar key terms for images and finding aids from our collections.

Subject Guides

These guides provide tips and resources for researching women’s history. Some guides relate to a specific class, but may also have useful resources for your studies.

Women & the American Civil War

Women in Maryland

Women’s Studies Research Guide

Women in the Media

Introduction to Women’s Studies: Women and Society

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies

Maryland Genealogy

World’s Fair Collection Now in Hornbake

An important collection has moved across campus and is now available at the Maryland Room, in Hornbake Library’s Special Collections. You can visit us anytime during our open hours to learn more about the history of the World’s Fair. If you want to take a look before you visit, you can browse the digital version of the collection. Below is a description of what can be found in this collection.

The World’s Fair Collection contains nearly 1,700 non-book items including photographs, stereographs, prints, illustrations, scrapbooks, sheet music, periodicals, maps, pamphlets, and memorabilia, as well as many artifacts, such as trade cards, tickets, exhibitor entry forms, postcards, menus, souvenir ribbons and scarves, and a stereograph viewer.

Represented fairs range from the 1851 London exhibition through the present, although the collection’s holdings are strongest for the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial exhibition, the 1893 Chicago Exposition, the U.S. fairs (as a whole), and Paris fairs (as a group).

The World’s Fair Collection also includes numerous books on international expositions. Its holdings are strongest for the fairs held in Paris (as a group), the Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851, and the Chicago World Columbian Exposition of 1893.

Crystal Palace, North Transept, London 1851

New Mass Media guides available

The Special Collections staff have been hard at work creating new ways for you to discover our unique archival and manuscript collections. To see the latest additions to our database of archival finding aids, visit ArchivesUM. You can search for the finding aids in two ways.

Use the drop down list under “Subject” to select guides related to particular topics. Our new categories include:

There were also a number of Mass Media collections added to the Women’s History subject category.

To see all new Mass Media guides, select “Mass Media and Culture” from the drop down list under “Collection Area”.

Testudo visits the Special Collections!

We were thrilled to have Testudo (the University of Maryland mascot) recently visit us in Special Collections! We had a lot of fun teaching him about researching primary sources, online finding tools at UMD, and the many collections available for research. He decided to create a Flickr photo-guide for using the Special Collections. Visit it at and let us know if it helps you too!

Picture of Testudo in the Special Collections