Making the case with Case Maker

Studying primary sources allows us to discover information about the past. A primary source might be anything from correspondence to photographs to newspapers and diaries. Primary sources are extremely useful not just for projects, but provide us a way to understand the history more deeply and personally from those that came before us.

Casemaker website homepageWhen visitors come into the Maryland Room, they use primary sources to help with their research projects.  Researchers pour over material, thinking critically about what the material is and what answers it can provide. Critical thinking and inquiry are crucial tools when conducting a research project that involves archival material and primary sources.

These sophisticated research skills are being introduced to children earlier than ever. Case Maker is one of the tools educators can use to help middle school students begin to develop their critical thinking skills. Continue reading

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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.
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One Small step for Archival Processing, One Giant Leap for the Baltimore News American Collection

For the past year and a half, student employees and volunteers in Special Collections at the University of Maryland’s Hornbake Library have been working to provide researchers with better access to the staggering amount of information contained in the Baltimore News American collection.  After the University of Maryland’s Special Collections and University Archives acquired this collection of subject and biographical photographs, newspaper articles, and microfilm approximately 30 years ago, the daunting task of preserving and processing its 1545 linear feet of materials was issued to several decades of graduate assistants and volunteers.

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Special Collections Students at Work: The Baltimore News American Photo Archives

The University of Maryland’s Special Collections & University Archives houses a particularly interesting and highly utilized acquisition in the Baltimore News American collection. Acquired 30 years ago when the News American stopped its presses for the last time, the collection contains subject and biographical photos used in the Baltimore News American family of newspapers from 1904 through 1986. The fully processed section of the collection spans close to 1600 boxes and over 660 linear feet. And that doesn’t even consider the oversize materials and extensive unprocessed boxes which bring the total number of images to possibly over 1.5 million. The numbers are certainly impressive, but you cannot get a scope for how big the collection is until you see entire walls in our archive stacks solely dedicated to the photographs.

BNAboxes_brightMaking this collection more accessible is the work of many hands, including volunteers and student employees. The work often begins by pulling a number of photos, organized in folders, from one of our unprocessed boxes. We collect information from both the folders and the images including the subject, first and last name, number of photos, and relevant dates [when the photographs were taken, or when the images were published in the newspaper]. All the while, the photos are moved into better, safer acid-free folders and boxes and entered into a database of processed images. Also, given the number of people who have processed this gargantuan collection, we take the time to proofread each other’s data entry work.

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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.

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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. http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/1679

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

ERA_NOW_UMD

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

Collections

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