Save the Date: From Antarctica to Zimbabwe on October 23!

As we approach autumn, catalogers in the Special Collections Processing Center turn our thoughts (with glee) to our annual Archives Month Philly Event.
This year, we are extremely excited to present:

From Antarctica to Zimbabwe:
Around the World with Archives, Books and Codices
In the words of Emily Dickson, “There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away.” But why stop at books?  Add atlases, letters, travel diaries, photo albums, sketchbooks, souvenirs, posters, ocean liner menus, and the armchair travel possibilities are endless.  Take a voyage through the far-flung geographical corners of our collections; the catalogers of the Kislak Center will be your guides!

October 23, 5 to 6:30 pm
Class of 78 Orrery Pavilion
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, sixth floor
(please bring photo id for entry into Library)
Free and Open to the Public! All are Welcome!

http://www.library.upenn.edu/about/exhibits-events/archivesmonth19

An appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia

Earlier this year, we acquired the Monument Lab records … a fairly small, but truly powerful collection largely documenting a project that asks, “what is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia?”  There are 45,000 answers in this collection, but more than that, this collection answers other questions: Who are Philadelphians? Of what are we proud?  What do we want to change?  And what makes us and this city unique?

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A daughter’s love–Helen Weiss’s courage and empathy

Sometimes, right from the opening of a box, I know that I am going to love a collection–and that was the case with the Frank Weise collection of Helen Weiss material.  This small collection packed a quick punch–as I peered in the box, I saw letters (always a favorite of mine), some music by Weiss and music-y ephemera, and some mysterious memorial material.  It was the memorial material that piqued my interest almost immediately–I kept thinking that I was reading things wrong because Helen died in 1948 when she was only 28 … adding to puzzle was the very vague description of the cause of her death (“an accident of the slightest kind, occasioned the initiation of the evil (disease) that caused us to lose her”) in an obituary written by Carlos Raygada (box 1, folder 11).

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Penn Work Study Students: Job opportunity in the Special Collections Processing Center!

Archival Assistant: LGBT Center Papers

The archival assistant will efficiently process the archive of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center of the University of Pennsylvania in order to make it accessible for researchers. Following archival standards, the archival assistant will arrange the collection in logical and user-friendly order, will describe the material in a finding aid using a collections management database, assess material for conservation or preservation needs, and will house the collection in archival boxes and folders. The Archival assistant will also promote use of the collection through social media.

This is a 300-hour position, with the possibility of extension.

Required:
• Interest in the history of the LGBT Center at the University of Pennsylvania and in gender studies
• Interest in history, primary sources, and archival material, as well as an interest in making collections available for research.
• Facility in the use of computer applications.
• Ability to work both independently and with others in a collaborative work environment.
• Strong oral and written communication skills.
• Willingness to take direction and constructive criticism relating to finding aids, blog posts, and other work products
• Willingness to write blog posts about the LGBT Center collection and the work performed in the Special Collection Processing Center and to contribute to the Kislak Center’s Instagram account.

Desired:
• Experience processing archival collections or using them as a researcher.
• Coursework in historical methods, archival studies, and/or metadata standards
• Reading at least one Romance language
• Undergraduate degree preferred, but not required

Lifetime(s) of work

One hears of a “labor of love” and a “lifetime of work” pretty frequently, but one truly sees its meaning in the Gordon A. Wilson notes and papers relating to the works of William Romaine Newbold.  It all starts with Aristotle!  William Romaine Newbold was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who lectured on philosophy and worked extensively translating Aristotle’s Metaphysics. According to the long history of the translations, before his death in 1926, Newbold handed over his work to one of his students Hartley Burr Alexander. Alexander proceeded to work on the manuscript with one of his students, Gordon A. Wilson, until his death in 1939. And then, Wilson worked with the manuscripts until his death in 1974. In case you are worried, I don’t think it was the manuscript that finished off any of the scholars mentioned above.

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Service and Suspicion in the Clement and Sophie Winston Papers

[Written by Rive Cadwallader. This was the last collection she processed before graduating from the University of Pennsylvania.  Congratulations, Rive!]

Clement and Sophie Winston were, in their own estimation, “not politically active individuals”. Both were engaged in service to their country -Clement as an economic analyst at the Bureau of the Budget and Sophie as a volunteer arts instructor with the American Red Cross- yet they “never joined any groups pushing particular causes.” The couple took road trips, wrote poetry, and sent handmade birthday cards to their friends. However, their respectable vocations, political neutrality, and typical middle-class lifestyle were not sufficient to protect the Winstons from suspicion under what Clement described as the “present condition of hysteria” that pervaded the United States during the Cold War. Clement’s position at the Bureau of the Budget subjected him to scrutiny under the Executive Order 9835, signed by President Truman in 1947, which required ‘loyalty checks’ for all federal employees to ensure “maximum protection… against infiltration of disloyal persons.” The Loyalty Board initially determined that Clement held “associations with particular individuals” whose political affiliations were in question, but by December 1952, it ultimately resolved that there was “no reasonable doubt” as to Clement’s “loyalty to the government of the United States.” Clement’s correspondence from this period reveals that the process of this investigation and hearing was intensely stressful and unsettling for him. He wrote to a friend, after his hearing,

“My emotions are terribly disturbed. It seems as if I have suffered a great, great loss. It seems as if someone near and dear to me, someone who was a part of me, were forever and irretrievably lost. I feel so broken and so ashamed.”

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A New Year Resolution from Clement Winston

There are no words to describe how much I love Clement Winston, budget analyst, artist, author, family man, and account keeper.  His papers are both informative and delightful–and happily, we have received a few additions that will be added to the collection this year.

In the meantime, for those of you who may be struggling with your new year’s resolutions as well as any left-over weight gain from the holidays, perhaps you (as I have) will take comfort in Clem’s words of wisdom.

Happy New Year, friends!

Santa … a powerful parental tool for more than 100 years!

I recently completed working on the Harold Dies papers and they are almost entirely related to Theodore Dreiser’s literary estate and the Dreiser Trust.  However, as is the case with many archival collections, I found a few unexpected treasures buried inside envelopes and tucked into folders.  The Dreiser and Dies family trees rival the Biddles when it comes to complexity.  Lots of cousins, lots of siblings, lots of complications.  But this little story below has to do with Theodore Dreiser’s brother Paul Dresser, his sister Emma, and Emma’s two children, George and Gertrude.

Paul Dresser was a singer, songwriter, and actor, in addition to a well-intentioned uncle. It appears that his nephew, George, was a bit on the naughty side … there are several letters written in which Uncle Paul instructs George on good behavior, which includes going to church (EVERY Sunday) and not giving his parents trouble.  It appears that George didn’t listen to Uncle Paul, so, as December rolled around, Uncle Paul did what so many adults faced with naughty kids do: he threatened him with … SANTA CLAUS. Who knew that was a thing as far back as 1903?

Uncle Paul wrote a few delightful letters to his sister Emma and her children, George and Gertrude who in 1903 would have been about 11 and 9 respectively.  In this letter, dated December 5, Paul writes to Gertrude in response to a letter in which she appears to have tattled on George.  He writes,  “I am really surprised at George.  I thought he was a pretty good boy–but from what you say it seems he is not. Well, all I can say is that Santa Claus called on me last night and wanted to know all about you and George.”

The letter ends with a note: “Tell Geo. to behave or Santa will make trouble.  I love this … usually Santa punishes passive aggressively by not bringing gifts, but here … he is going to make trouble!  There is no evidence as to whether Uncle Paul’s threats worked and George decided to be good until December 25.  Sadly for George and Gertrude (and his sister, Emma, to whom he wrote a number of encouraging as well as instructive letters about the children’s behavior), Paul died only three years later and was not around to keep all of them on their toes.

Despite the humor of the contents of these letters, it is easy to see the family’s dynamics, even in just a few pencil-scrawled words.  Paul was Emma’s older brother by six years and his protectiveness of her is evident in every single letter … the message to her kids is that they should always treat her well and make life as easy as possible for her.  His message to his sister is that she should make the kids treat her well and do their part to make her life easier.  The letters are lovely reminders of how family members look out for each other … and how they use any tools at hand to promote their cause.

 

Best Wishes to Students during Finals!

Every time we step outside our office, just now, we can feel the pressure and stress on our dedicated, smart, and awesome student body as they are busily studying and preparing for their final exams and madly writing papers.

So, the catalogers of Penn’s Kislak Special Collections Processing Center send you an encouraging message (painted on silk)  from Mamie A. Jones, a young Philadelphian who we believe was probably a student at Friends’ Central School in the 1870s.  Her sketchbook holds a number of similarly beautiful drawings that she did during the early 1880s.

Good luck, students, at Penn and in schools, colleges, and universities everywhere!