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Sharing Library Treasures with the World via Digital Collections

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

Have you explored USF Libraries Digital Collections lately? If you have, you know these materials are usually primary source items from Special Collections and often of historic or international relevance. They are found in searchable collections on our website, and some have been curated into online exhibitions that walk you through a contextual narrative.

7th Avenue in Ybor City, Burgert Brothers

7th Avenue in Ybor City, Burgert Brothers

The USF Libraries hold digital collections on a universe of topics, ranging from the locally-famous and indispensable Burgert Brothers photographs, to the riveting Waging Peace Darfuri Children’s Drawings, to the iconic images painted by Jacques LeMoyne de Morgues upon first European contact with Florida’s native Americans, engraved and printed by Theodor de Bry. Online exhibitions weave selected digital collections into historical contexts, thereby enhancing their meaning. The History of Minstrelsy and 500 Years of Discovering Florida were produced by students mentored by Special Collections librarian Andy Huse. The Art of the Poison Pens online exhibition was created in conjunction with an exhibition and event at the Tampa Museum of Art, and showcases the political cartoon collection of Dr. Charles Mahan. And Portraying Courage is the result of an extensive collaborative project telling Holocaust survivors’ stories in their own words, through oral histories, and through professionally-painted portraits.

Adela Gonzmart with Cesar, Casey and Richard at the piano

Adela Gonzmart with Cesar, Casey and Richard at the piano

The legacies of several families whose histories are part of the very fabric of Tampa and Florida history are housed at the USF Tampa Library as well, not only tucked away in Special Collections but increasingly made available for all to enjoy and learn from as digital collections. One of the most notable among these is the Columbia Restaurant/Gonzmart Family Collection (view photos from the collection or introduction), which depicts the history of the Hernandez and Gonzmart families and their original Columbia Restaurant, emblematic of Tampa’s Ybor City. Richard Gonzmart wasn’t certain how valuable his family’s photos would be as a digital collection but he says, “…without a doubt, it’s now preserved for generations to view and enjoy that history.” What local historians may consider a gem “…most likely would have been thrown away,” according to Gonzmart. The Gonzmarts’ reverence for local history now continues with the native-inspired menu at their new restaurant Ulele, opening soon along downtown Tampa’s waterfront.

The Francis J. Thompson collection includes a fascinating examination of a period of Irish history done as his doctoral dissertation, along with a host of other authoritative scholarly work donated by the family of the professor of Irish literature and novelist. The 1300-plus-page dissertation, “Fenianism and the Celtic Renaissance,” which would require a tremendous effort to study in person in Special Collections, can now be read online, and by multiple researchers or family members at the same time.

How do these fragile, often one-of-a-kind materials get from the safety of Special Collections to a digitized format and then onto the USF Libraries website? The labor intensive process includes more steps than you might imagine, with both expert librarians and student library employees contributing to various steps of quality assurance, scanning, correction, and cataloging. The organization and display of these collections on our website recently moved from a software solution in-house developer Richard Bernardy devised to an open-source solution developed in tandem with the University of Florida. The new website allows for greater browsing freedom, as it functions well on mobile devices and tablets.

Some might worry that presenting these collections online would lead to reduced in-person visits to Special Collections. In the case of the USF Libraries, at least it has been the opposite, with numerous patrons initially discovering collections online and then coming in person to use the physical collections.

Partner with us to bring treasures to scholars, families, and lifelong learners around the world. Contact Merrell Dickey to contribute: mdickey@usf.edu or (813) 974-1654.


Tampa’s Rebels and Revolutionaries: Looking Beyond the Gangsters and Pirates

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | 1 Comment »

Tampa is well-known for it’s sordid past of gangsters and (apparently nonexistent*) pirates. But it’s the lesser known rebels and misfits that comprise Tampa’s most colorful history.

andy-huseUSF Special Collections Librarian Andy Huse recently shared his expertise on these characters in a funny, sometimes sad, and always fascinating talk entitled, ”Tampa’s Rebels and Revolutionaries: Looking Beyond the Gangsters and Pirates.” The USF Tampa Library’s Special Collections department holds these Florida Studies collections that form the basis for these stories.

“A lot of revolutionaries tended to coalesce around Tampa, for whatever reason.” -Andy Huse, USF Special Collections Librarian

Sanfeliz with S.P. BurgertJosé Ramón Sanfeliz arrived in Ybor City from Cuba and began a career as a cigar worker — but was a revolutionary firebrand in his desire to take down management and to organize labor. Later, during the cigar workers’ Weight Strike of 1899, he returned to Cuba only to find it was far too difficult a life compared to the relatively middle-class comforts of his life in Tampa. He returned to Tampa and the once-leftist activist became ever more part of the establishment, even giving his incredible collection of hobby photographs to reactionary three-term Tampa mayor, violent strike-breaker, and local businessman D.B. McKay. His photographs of striking cigar workers’ soup kitchens remain the most vibrant images of that period of Tampa’s history.

Dr. Marcelino Arguelles was a Tampa physician who broke with his contemporaries in endorsing a medicine-free approach to health. His large clinic included a hydrotherapy bathhouse, offered massage, and housed a vegetarian restaurant, which was unheard-of at the time. Some might even say Arguelles was ahead of his time in decrying the ill effects of processed foods. His list of no-nos sounds like a contemporary nutrition article, advising patients  to avoid refined sugar, flours, and the like. By all evidence, he had enough adherents to be successful, with over 25 years in practice in an office occupying a three-story building in Ybor City.

avellanalJosé Luis Avellanal y Jimenez was the son of Concepción Jimenez and Dr. José Ramon Avellanal, a prominent Ybor City physician, co-founder of La Gaceta, and director of the Centro Español mutual aid society. Avellanal the younger began a lifetime of dangerous scientific and mystical-occult experimentation by shooting one childhood friend in the eye and testing out a homemade electric chair on another. From there, his antics only escalated, and he was eventually sent to military school in Georgia. Once he returned to Ybor City, he began a diploma mill, operated as a gynecologist with absolutely no medical training, continued as an  incorrigible ladies’ man who even pioneered consent forms for his romantic relations, and eventually had the title ‘General’ added to his name while he was in Mexico.

jimfairJim Fair was born into a wealthy Tampa family but gave up a life of luxury for one of outspoken political scrutiny and informal philanthropy through his non-discriminatory Salvation Navy for the needy, his truly open-door policy when he was somehow elected Supervisor of Elections, and his penchant for making powerful enemies as a semi-famous local gadfly. Eventually a judge sent to Fair away to the Florida State Hospital mental institution in Chattahoochee in a judgment that has, several times, been characterized as indefensible.

Frederick Weightnovel told people he met that he came from Russia, escaping a tsarist gulag by swimming across an icy river… before coming to Tampa. He also told everyone that he was a doctor, yet had no degrees to show for it. He went before the Florida medical board and they saw no reason to give him a license, however he harangued them until they eventually did so. His medical practice’s records and ledger would surely have held secrets capable of destroying Tampa society. In addition to treating rheumatism and female complaints of well-to-do Tampa residents (sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and the like), Weightnovel sold hair tonic on the side, his thick, curly locks and a full beard acting as a walking billboard for ample hair growth. Huse recounts:

 ”He would lay on his back in the surf and float like an otter. He would have a cigarette and a newspaper and a plate of oysters perched on his chest. He would float and read the paper and slurp his oysters. When he got out of the water, he would shake out his ample locks and make a spectacle that way. But that was just the beginning…”

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 1.16.31 PMFrederick Weightnovel ended up squatting in old Fort Brooke after it was decommissioned and the Seminoles were no longer  a threat. The City tried but was not able to evict him and his associates. Ultimately, in a defiant gesture, the squatters elected Weightnovel mayor of Ft Brooke, which he renamed ‘Moscow’ and attempted to operate as a secessionist state.

Weightnovel ended up orchestrating several other controversies, to which the aforementioned pale in comparison. Hear these scandalous tales in the encore presentation of the talk, which is available for viewing on YouTube.

There are many ways to further the cultural legacy of Florida Studies at the USF Tampa Library. Your contribution increases research and educational opportunities using these unique and invaluable historical treasures. Contact Merrell Dickey at (813) 974-1654 or mdickey@usf.edu to make a financial commitment to the USF Libraries.

* There is no evidence that Jose Gaspar existed, and in fact his story appears to be a legend created specifically to spur tourism and support the Gasparilla parade and event. Sorry.

Exploring Our Cultural History

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

There are many treasures in USF Tampa Library Special Collections that carry with them interesting and well-documented histories. But what of those whose origins are less well known? What can we learn about those objects? Students in Pamela Merrill Brekka’s History of Visual Arts classes make an effort to unearth their stories with the USF @TaCHe (USF Tampa Cultural Heritage database) project, working with the expert facilitation of Special Collections librarian Andy Huse.

Fulfilling USFs unique and rigorous requirements for Foundations of Knowledge and Learning Core Curriculum classes, the USF @TaCHe project students are conducting original research on a host of collections in Special Collections. Objects used in the project include historic maps of Florida, the USF Libraries collection of original Jacques LeMoyne engravings of European settlers’ first encounters with native Floridians, early editions of the USF Oracle, historic photographs of Florida, and Tampa cigar labels. Thanks in part to research courses like this one, use of Special Collections has nearly tripled when compared to past years.


History of Visual Arts students work in the Special Collections reading room

Dr. Brekka’s ultimate aim with the USF @TaCHe project is to create a searchable database of locally relevant historical objects, making the assignment more meaningful and longer lasting than a typical introductory level art history project. The curatorial files that students prepare for the course include photos, written analysis, images of comparative works, and scholarly citations for further study.

The objects are evaluated within a broad context. Fine arts major Yolianne Hubert studied a Brillante cigar box label. She was unable to find any information directly pertaining to the label’s history but performed an analysis of the marketing effectiveness of the design and it’s symbolism, which included Nike in a chariot pulled by four tigers. Psychology major Freeman Gerhardt took the approach of analyzing antiwar sentiment evident throughout the 1972 Aegean USF Yearbook within the larger social context of that time.


Brillante cigar box label, one of the objects being studied by students in the class

Student Pietro Mendonça found the project not only interesting, but helpful in developing his research and writing skills. Pietro says it “…was a great opportunity to learn more about the history of Tampa though the objects and artworks in USF’s Special Collections. The most interesting part was developing the contextual analysis for the chosen object, in my case a photograph of Tampa’s Skyline in 1925, and making the connections to New York City, the local and national economy, a Category 4 hurricane 1921, and even Florida’s first housing bubble collapse in 1925.”

Be a part of the lasting cultural legacy that provides enriching student experiences by supporting Special Collections. There are a variety of ways to contribute at all levels of giving. Contact Merrell Dickey at (813) 974-1654 or mdickey@usf.edu.


What Does the Library Mean to USF Students?

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

“It was very impressive that students felt strongly enough about the importance of the library to their academic lives that they stood up and spoke out.

How many other things are cut in tight budget times that you don’t hear so much as a whimper about?”

~The Honorable Jan Platt, longtime Hillsborough County Commissioner and USF Libraries donor

A 24-5 sit-out organizer addresses the crowd

A 24-5 sit-out organizer addresses the crowd. Photo by student Briana Luis.

This August, when USF students returned to school, they got the news that the Library’s heavily-used 24-hour-a-day, 5-day-a-week operating schedule would cease as a result of funding cuts. The Library was slated to close at midnight and open at 7:30 am during the week. The news did not sit well with the thousands of students who rely on overnight hours to accomplish their schoolwork.

Melissa Garzon, student organizer

Melissa Garzon, student organizer

Immediately, a Facebook group was begun to discuss strategies for getting those overnight hours back. Late-night sit-outs were planned so that students could show their support for the Library hours while studying out in front of the building. A letter-writing campaign to USF President Judy Genshaft was orchestrated. The driving force organizing these actions was sophomore sociology major Melissa Garzon. Speaking to her motivation and swiftness, Garzon said, “I knew that, for change to happen, someone had to speak out. Someone had to start something — and no one was. The Facebook group was the quickest way to get students involved.” Garzon sent press releases to local media outlets, which involved the larger community in the story and even led to national press coverage.

While USF administrators and Student Government worked toward a solution for keeping the Library open overnight during the current academic year, students of all stripes shared their passion for the USF Tampa Library:

USF Biomedical Sciences major David Lee

USF Biomedical Sciences major David Lee

Sophomore biomedical sciences major David Lee works until 9:00 PM almost every night, so the Library’s evening and overnight hours were especially important to him. “I’m taking three science courses as well as my other classes so having the library available to me helps immensely, whether I have to print out worksheets… or just need a place to concentrate for exams after work.”

Student Shanah Pitilon contrasts the library with her dorm room and social environs: “The library has this environment of stillness and concentration that surpasses any other location on campus… So, for me, the library is an intellectual sanctuary where I can get away from the temptations of college life, tune out all distractions, and really concentrate on my studies.”

Applied Linguistics graduate student Stephen Lindhorst

Applied Linguistics graduate student Stephen Lindhorst

Graduate students demonstrated their passion for the Library as well. Applied Linguistics student Stephen Lindhorst said, “…the Library is essential for my success.  My research would be impossible without the numerous journals, articles, and e-books that are made available through the great efforts taken by the Library.  Instead of paying around $49.95 for an article, I can access the same article at no additional cost from the comfort of my own home.  In addition, the new scanners match well with my needs as a mobile student by allowing me to scan sections of the materials for use in my course to carry with me on my phone or laptop.”

Before long, a resolution was reached that allowed the USF Tampa Library to stay open during those cherished overnight hours. Even still, students continued to reflect on what that access meant to them:

Exuberant about the return of the Library’s 24/5 hours, David Lee posted on the Facebook group’s page: “Pretty sure I demolished my bio exam tonight! Stayed at the lib till 3 last night and managed to get a majority of my homework for the next few days as well as a decent amount of studying done!”

Shanah Pitilon posted: “With two exams and two papers coming up this week for me, I think the reinstatement of the 24/5 hours came just in time! I wanted to participate in the sit-outs and such, but never did… So I just wanted to thank everyone who DID help fight to get 24/5 back..” 

Let’s continue to make the USF Tampa Library the place where all USF students can achieve academic success. Contact Merrell Dickey at (813) 974-1654 or mdickey@usf.edu to support student success initiatives in the Library.


The USF Libraries Oral History Program

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

Survivor Sam Schryver during an oral history interview with Ellen Klein

Holocaust survivor Sam Schryver during an oral history interview with Ellen Klein

The USF Libraries are home to a wide-ranging landscape of stories told in the first person that are most appropriately called ‘oral histories.’ From the culinary, environmental, and sports history of Florida to the incredible tales of World War II Holocaust survivors and concentration camp liberators, the program’s three collection areas provide one-of-a-kind materials for scholars exploring a variety of local, national, and international issues.

The USF Libraries Oral History Program creates and shares these original interviews using state-of-the-art digital technologies. Few libraries in the world produce and showcase their oral history materials with comparable access. Through streaming audio and printable transcripts, listeners around the world can mine this rich learning resource with three areas of emphasis: urban development and sustainability; Holocaust, genocide, and crimes against humanity; and culture and identity.

Two of the most popular oral history collections in the USF Libraries program are the community-focused Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida Oral Histories and the Holocaust Survivors Oral History Project, whose stories relate moving accounts from local residents that hold relevance worldwide.

Otis R. Anthony

Otis R. Anthony

The Otis R. Anthony oral histories were primarily recorded between 1977 and 1978 as part of the Black History of Tampa Project, sponsored by the Tampa Urban League and the Hillsborough County Museum, under the direction of community activist Otis R. Anthony. In 1994, Anthony donated the collection to the USF Department of Anthropology, to support its Central Avenue Legacies Project. The Department of Anthropology conducted additional interviews, focusing primarily on Central Avenue and the Afro-Cuban community. Listen here.

The Holocaust Survivors Oral History Project was begun by USF Department of Communication Professor Carolyn Ellis and her graduate students, in collaboration with the USF Tampa Library and the Florida Holocaust Museum. This growing collection of oral histories documents the memories of Holocaust survivors now living in the Tampa Bay area. Listen here or watch selected videotaped interviews here.

Jane Duncan records an oral history interview

Jane Duncan records an oral history interview

Each oral history collection is a time-intensive labor of love, requiring many hours of student and staff time to digitize, transcribe, and process the recordings, in addition to the initial research and investment on the part of the interviewers. As a result, archival-quality collections are carefully organized and preserved for current and future generations of researchers and curious minds.

Experience history first hand by listening to some of these oral histories, then contact Merrell Dickey at (813) 974-1654 or mdickey@usf.edu to support the oral history program, and benefit students and community alike.

Rewarding Exceptional Undergraduate Student Researchers

Friday, June 14th, 2013 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

Among the many benefits of giving to USF Libraries programs that directly support students is the opportunity to meet the deserving students who benefit from your donation and understand just how it supports their intellectual and career development.

Undergraduate researcher Olivia Means with USF Libraries donor and Director of Academic Services Nancy Cunningham

Undergraduate researcher Olivia Means with USF Libraries donor and Director of Academic Services Nancy Cunningham

“Good research begins not only with an idea but also an understanding of what has gone before.  Navigating, evaluating, and applying the knowledge contained in scholarly literature is a challenge for even the most seasoned researchers.”

-Nancy Cunningham, library donor and director of academic services for the USF Libraries

Nancy Cunningham, director of academic services for the USF Libraries, recently made a financial gift to establish an award for the best use of the research literature by an undergraduate researcher. Open to application from students accepted to participate in the Office for Undergraduate Research’s annual Undergraduate Research and Arts Colloquium, it recognizes a sophisticated and comprehensive use of scholarly literature and library archives. USF biology major Olivia Means won this year’s award for her investigation into the historical role the USF Florida Mental Health Institute (FMHI) played in children’s mental health advocacy.

Olivia was mentored by USF librarian Tomaro Taylor and worked with primary source materials, which are an important part of the research process, as well as scholarly literature. Of working with Olivia, Tomaro says, “Olivia was incredibly motivated and a joy to work with. She had done some fascinating background preparation that I hadn’t anticipated a student would do. It was a great experience working with her because she put forth so much genuine effort.” Olivia has quickly become an accomplished researcher during her studies at USF, and participated in FMHI’s Summer Research Institute in 2012. The resulting project, “Barriers to Seeking Help for Mental Health Issues in Women Ages 22-64” was published in the Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences and accepted for the poster session at the 7th International Conference on Social Work in Health and Mental health this summer in Los Angeles. Olivia is active as a Sunday school teacher and tutor to children in the community and is applying to medical school this summer.

“This was one of the most rewarding experiences… I’ve never had the opportunity to meet someone who was a direct beneficiary of a donation, shake her hand, meet her mother… this is exactly what I wanted. I could not think of a better use of my money… This is the best money I’ve ever spent.”

-Nancy Cunningham

What is a modest gift to a donor can achieve so much in support of a hardworking undergraduate student. Consider a gift in support of this fund, so that students like Olivia are given a chance to be UNSTOPPABLE. Where else can you see your money go so far? To make a contribution, contact Merrell Dickey at (813) 974-1654 or mdickey@usf.edu.

State of the Art Teaching with Turn of the Century Collections

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

Adnan Campara, Stephen Strenges, and Beryl Johnson focused on the Detective Nick Carter series of Dime Novels for their research projectAdnan Campara, Stephen Strenges, and Beryl Johnson focused on the Detective Nick Carter series of Dime Novels for their research project

Adnan Campara, Stephen Strenges, and Beryl Johnson focused on the Detective Nick Carter series of Dime Novels for their research project. Their instructor, Dr. Cynthia Patterson, is third from the left.

Great things happen through collaboration at the USF Tampa Library. This spring semester, Special and Digital Collections department, the Office for Undergraduate Research, and USF Associate Professor of English Cynthia Patterson worked together to provide a rich research experience to Dr. Patterson’s undergraduate class.

Patterson initially became aware of the USF Libraries extensive collection of dime novels while completing her cultural studies Ph.D. at George Mason University, where a colleague’s dissertation focused on dime novels for women. Dr. Patterson anticipated using the collection one day in a class, but the traditional USF English department curriculum offered few opportunities to integrate historic collections such as the dime novels. She finally found an ideal opportunity to work with the collection while designing her Spring 2013 LIT 3301 Cultural Studies course.

Employing a sophisticated understanding of pedagogical theory gleaned from her Master’s degree in Education, Dr. Patterson created a meaningful experience for the class. They were introduced to the material through critical and contextual secondary sources — primarily articles from the library’s electronic database subscriptions. The students then dug in to the historic primary source materials in the Dime Novels collection. Dr. Patterson designed the course not only to give the mix of juniors and seniors in the class a worthwhile research experience, but also to equip them with technological skills that would be of value in the workplace.

Jennifer Delio, Clayton Prather and Vincent Euliano present their research on Science Fiction in Dime Novels at the USF Office for Undergraduate Research Colloquium

Jennifer Delio, Clayton Prather and Vincent Euliano present their research on Science Fiction in Dime Novels at the USF Office for Undergraduate Research Colloquium

In order for the project to proceed unfettered by technological limitations, she applied for and received an Office of Undergraduate Research CREATTE grant (Creating Research Experiences and Activities Through Teaching Enhancement). The grant allowed Dr. Patterson to purchase handheld scanners for the class to digitize as-yet unscanned materials pertinent to their particular project, to establish an instructor-level Omeka account, and to enlist USF Libraries Special and Digital Collections graduate assistant Kimberly Nordon to facilitate the technological aspect of the assignment. Digitizing elements of the dime novels for their projects also meant that materials not yet available to library patrons in a digital format could now be displayed online, in effect doubling the utility of the process. Special Collections Librarian Melanie Griffin was ‘embedded’ with the class in order to teach them how to conduct research in Special Collections, and how to handle and digitize the fragile materials they would be working with.

A number of students in the class said that the process of researching their topic and creating the online exhibition was such a valuable lesson in hands-on research that they wished they’d had the experience earlier in their studies. There is a  generalization that the current generation is overwhelmingly tech savvy but it turns out that only select students in the class possessed such skills. So it was a fitting complement to the research assignment that an aim of the class was teaching workplace skills such as online file sharing and collaboration on online projects such as their project websites. Graduate assistant Kimberly Nordon taught the students to use hand-scanners to digitize the materials as well as to organize the ultimate form the exhibitions would take — a website using the Omeka platform that the USF Libraries uses to publish its curated exhibitions.

Two of the student groups in the class were accepted to present at the USF Office for Undergraduate Research Colloquium. Jennifer Delio, Vincent Euliano, and Clayton Prather participated in a poster session, presenting their work exploring science fiction and technology in dime novels; Adnan Campara, Beryl Johnson, and Stephen Strenges presented their work on the Nick Carter dime novel detective series. The two other groups in the class focused on sports and adventure themes in dime novels, respectively. Collaborations such as these showcase the powerful potential for academic growth when library resources and programs receive direct funding. Contact Merrell Dickey at (813) 974-1654 or mdickey@usf.edu to support projects that directly benefit student learning and real world skills.

USF Honors College Class Discovers 500 Years of Florida History in the USF Tampa Library

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

“It should be required viewing by all in Florida.”

-the Honorable E.J. Salcines

A desire to introduce his USF Honors College major works/major issues class to the historic treasures of Special Collections  led Andy Huse to devise a semester-long project that would provide them with a hands-on research experience. Huse, a USF Tampa Library Special Collections assistant librarian and USF Honors College instructor, knew from past projects that first-hand research can be a transformative experience for undergraduates. Having an intimate familiarity with the library’s Florida Studies collections, he knew that this would be fertile ground for a range of research projects and that the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Florida by Ponce de Leon was approaching.

USF Honors College students in the Spring 2012 research colloquium

Instructor Andy Huse (back row, left) with his USF Honors College students in the Spring 2012 research colloquium

The class of 11 students approached the assignment with great interest, choosing wide-ranging topics from the initial discovery of Florida 500 years ago to the development of professional sports in the state throughout the past 100 years. Anthropology major Jessica Alleyn spent several days a week in Special Collections, digging through 30 boxes of primary source material such as tuberculosis bonds and yellow fever immunity cards in order to piece together meaning for her extensive history of infectious disease and mosquito control in the state.

Senior Mary Elizabeth Weigel focused on Florida archaeology — from Jacques LeMoyne’s depictions of early habitats to the actual unearthing of sites around Crystal River, an apparent focal point of pre-Columbian Native American ceremony and commerce. Archaeological discovery in Florida is unique in that many sites are located under water offshore and in rivers, sometimes preserved in porous limestone formations.

The Florida Studies collections at the USF Tampa Library have many champions. Among them are retired District Court Judge E.J. Salcines. Of this project, Salcines says,

“This unique and timely online project is a well-done introduction to Florida history using 21st century technology.  It should be required viewing by all in Florida.  This is the 500th anniversary of the European encounter with La Florida (1513-2013) that spread throughout North America.  It was the start of Florida’s 3 major industries:  cattle; citrus; and tourism; plus Christianity in America starting in our Florida missions.  Bravo! to Andy Huse and his team of researchers.”

Experience the online exhibition “500 Years of Discovering Florida” for yourself, then contact Merrell Dickey at (813) 974-1654 or mdickey@usf.edu to support student research of this kind.


Click to visit the online exhibition “500 Years of Discovering Florida”


Tampa Bay History Maker Invests in Student Historian’s Success

Thursday, March 21st, 2013 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

Jan Platt. USF Libraries donor, longtime Hillsborough County Commissioner and public servant

Jan Platt, longtime Hillsborough County Commissioner, and USF Libraries donor

A passion for helping students grow inspired longtime Tampa-Hillsborough elected official Jan Platt to give to the USF Libraries. Mrs. Platt characterizes her direct support of learning as “…a brilliant new way of giving. You’re giving to an individual, rather than to put your name on a wall, and giving them the opportunity to grow.”   Justin M. White is glad she understands the importance of her contribution. As the recipient of the Jan Platt Graduate Student Assistantship in Special & Digital Collections, Justin gets valuable experience working in Special Collections that he otherwise would not.

“Most of the things I do here, I do before I learn about them in class.”

-Graduate student and Special Collections assistant Justin White

Justin has already earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history. Now pursuing his master’s in library and information science at USF, he aims to become a public historian or archivist. He characterizes his work in Special Collections as ideal preparation for his chosen career. ”Most of the things I do here, I do before I learn about them in class,” says White. Justin is currently processing the donated papers of hydrogeologist Garald G. Parker. Known as the “Father of Florida groundwater hydrology,” Parker contributed much to the understanding of the Floridan and Biscayne aquifers underlying the state. He recently worked with the papers of Bernard H. Kendrick, a fiction author known for his insightful blind detective character Duncan McLain, and those of former Lieutenant Governor Tom Adams.

Justin White, recipient of the Jan Platt Graduate Student Assistantship, discusses his work with the position's benefactor

Justin White, recipient of the Jan Platt Graduate Student Assistantship, discusses his work with the position’s benefactor

“This is a brilliant new way of giving. You’re giving to an individual
…and giving them the opportunity to grow.”

-USF Libraries benefactor Jan Platt

The USF Libraries offer a host of graduate assistantships and fellowships, from environmental sustainability and mapping to Holocaust and genocide studies, all of which offer opportunities for giving. Jan Platt appreciates that, “with this particular type of giving, the donor has an opportunity to see an individual grow as a result of the gift.” Which student program would you like to support? To fund a graduate student for a year of hands-on experience, contact Merrell Dickey at (813) 974-1654 or mdickey@usf.edu.

Remembering the Holocaust: Empathy and Historical Memory

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | 1 Comment »

In late 2012, the USF Libraries Holocaust and Genocide Studies Center welcomed scholar Rachel Baum for the first in a series of Jack Chester Foundation Symposia in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. The symposia and related educational programming were made possible by a grant from the Foundation.

Dr. Rachel Baum leads Florida educators in a workshop on teaching empathy in the classroom

Dr. Rachel Baum leads Florida educators in a workshop on teaching empathy in the classroom

Dr. Baum, a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin, led two events during her visit. The first was an interactive workshop for educators, which focused on teaching the holocaust with empathetic perspectives in the classroom. Baum also gave a public lecture in the evening, focusing on subsequent generations’ ways of remembering the Holocaust. The talk added a layer of nuance to how we consider historical memory, suggesting that stories told out of context, in a museum, may not resonate as well as in-situ or in-context historical reminders that tie struggles of the past to contemporary life.

Watch Dr. Rachel Baum's lecture now, online

Click to watch Dr. Rachel Baum’s lecture online

The USF Libraries Holocaust and Genocide Studies Center relates these experiences to current and future generations through first-hand oral history testimonials and meaningful programming. To make your contribution to understanding, scholarship, and public policy contact Merrell Dickey at (813) 974-1654 or mdickey@usf.edu.


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