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Minstrelsy and Blackface in African American History

Friday, June 8th, 2012 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

“This is part of our history and a lot of times history is ugly.”

A chance conversation during a Special Collections visit with her Theory of History class led USF student Simone Sanders to discover USF Libraries’ Bank of America Black American Music Collection. For the senior majoring in history, the materials struck a nerve. Sanders (USF ’12) has long had a deep interest in African American history, and was already well-versed on the history of minstrelsy when she and Special Collections Assistant Librarian Andy Huse began collaborating on a digital exhibition chronicling its development and social context from the 1830s to the 1920s.

Student Simone Sanders and Librarian Andy Huse collaborate on the History of Minstrelsy exhibition

Blind Tom Wiggins

Minstrelsy in America, for all of its frivolous humor and popularity, was an exploitative form of musical theater that exaggerated real-life black circumstances and reinforced dangerous stereotypes during the 19th and 20th centuries. An embodiment of extremes represented in the often-sordid history of the genre, Blind Tom Wiggins was born a slave and purported to be developmentally disabled but was clearly a compositional genius, writing his first piece – Rain Storm – at the age of five. One of the highest grossing composers of the time, his masters exploited him to make a fortune in touring performances, eventually stealing him from his mother. After emancipation, some performers were able to improve their lot through performing in blackface. With few options for making a living, the public’s demand for blackface and minstrel performances was a potential source of income for newly-freed African Americans, who gradually began to replace the white performers in blackface. As the tide changed in the later era of the ‘New Negro,’ Bert Williams and George Walker were able to take what was developed as a racist, oppressive form of entertainment and turn it into a successful theater company with progressive messages.

Bert Williams

While some items in the Bank of America Black American Music Collection are shocking, representing negative stereotypes that the US mainstream in that era accepted and celebrated but which can be deeply offensive in 2012, co-curator Simone Sanders says, “…minstrelsy is a forgotten part of American entertainment. People start with jazz as the ‘first’ American art form, but this comes before jazz. This is part of our history and a lot of times history is ugly.”

In addition to this collection of rare and historic sheet music, the Library’s African American History Collections include the Armwood Family Papers; the papers of Dr. Robert W. Saunders, Field Secretary for the Florida NAACP, and his wife Helen; and the Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida Oral Histories .

Contact The USF Libraries Development Office to support student involvement and digitization of library collections for broad use.

Genocide Under the Ottoman Empire

Monday, May 7th, 2012 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

Dr. Suny speaks to a packed Grace Allen Room

In April, the USF Libraries Holocaust and Genocide Studies Center welcomed historian Ronald Grigor Suny for its second Armenian Studies event in six months. Turnout was exceptional, with a standing-room-only crowd in attendance.

Suny explored a variety of historic justifications for and ramifications of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923) as well as killing and deportations of Greeks, Arabs, Assyrians, and others, under the Ottoman Empire. He spoke of first-hand research conducted during numerous visits to Turkey over a 20-year period. During visits to Kurdistan, he spoke with Kurds regarding their historic memory of and, sometimes, participation in the Genocide, having been bribed and coerced by its orchestrators. Most importantly, Suny described a relationship between the marginalization of the Kurdish population in present-day Turkey and the denial of the Armenian Genocide, suggesting that if the Turkish government were to acknowledge the Genocide, removing the ‘national security’ implications it uses as justification now, it would remove a tenet of their justification for failing to grant Kurdistan autonomy.

The talk also related what Dr. Suny sees as hopeful steps, from large, unimpeded demonstrations taking place in Turkey, and his own Workshop for Armenian/Turkish Scholarship (WATS) collaborations, where Turkish and Armenian scholars come together to explore the essential truths of the Armenian Genocide.

“Dr. Suny explained in a highly convincing manner how the reluctance of the current Turkish government to admit to the Armenian genocide was linked to the current Turkish-Kurdish conflict in Eastern Anatolia,” said USF History Professor Kees Boterbloem. “He pointed out, encouragingly, that this denial, a standard adhered to by all of Turkey’s governments since the 1920s, may have had its day.”

The audience discussion that followed the talk raised interesting questions about France and Turkey and admission to the European Union, and an understanding of the difference between the official Turkish government line and the feelings of the Turkish populace.

The USF Libraries Holocaust and Genocide Studies Center wishes to express gratitude to the USF History Department and Golfo Alexopoulos for their sponsorship of this important event.

The Armenian Studies collection at the USF Tampa Library continues to grow, with the acquisition of materials in a wide range of languages. Please contact The USF Libraries Development Office to learn how you can support this initiative.

A Family Shares Its Stories with USF and The World

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

“…it’s not too late and every story matters, not just for the traditional reasons of preventing (genocide) in the future but it matters because this is a human being who had this experience”

-USF Communication Doctoral Candidate Chris Patti

Many years ago, USF Professor of Secondary Education Joan Kaywell invited Young Adult Literature author Edward Bloor to come speak to her son’s church youth group. It was a visit that began a collegial friendship between Young Adult literature advocate Kaywell and the central Florida-based author. Shortly thereafter, having founded the Hipple Collection of Young Adult Literature within the USF Tampa Library’s Special Collections Department, Kaywell asked Bloor to donate his advance readers, signed first editions, and original manuscripts to the Hipple Collection.

Author Edward Bloor with wife Pamela

Much as Edward Bloor shares stories to help young adults grapple with change and growth in their lives, his mother-in-law also had a story to tell. In 2011, Bloor and his wife, Pamela, came to to the USF Tampa Library to tour the Hipple Collection. During lunch that day with USF Libraries Director of Special and Digital Collections Mark I. Greenberg and Libraries Development Director Merrell Dickey, the conversation turned to the Libraries’ other collection initiatives, including the Holocaust Survivors Oral History Project developed in partnership with USF Professor of Communication and Sociology Carolyn Ellis and her graduate students. Pamela Bloor mentioned that, as a child, her mother had escaped the Nazis as part of the Kindertransport rescue movement. Dr. Greenberg asked whether her mother, Elisabeth Dixon, might like to give an oral history for the project. Indeed, she did.

Holocaust Survivor Elisabeth Dixon

In June, Edward and Pamela Bloor, Pamela’s mother Elisabeth Dixon, and her friend Bill Hunter made the journey to USF for Ms. Dixon to record her nearly four-hour story (listen to it here). For Ed Bloor, it was a wonderful day his family will always remember; they felt like “royalty for a day… It was an honor being asked by Joan to donate my materials to the Hipple Collection and to know that my papers will be preserved somewhere. We feel the same about my mother-in-law’s story. Before, it was just a story. Now, it’s part of recorded history. It gives you a sense of immortality.”

Communication Student Chris Patti

Ms. Dixon’s oral history interview was conducted by Professor Ellis’s student Chris Patti, a Communication doctoral candidate and McKnight Fellow. Patti has conducted several Holocaust survivor interviews, experiences which are meaningful for him as well. “This is the twilight of being able to work with individuals who’ve understood this experience first hand — it’s not too late and every story matters, not just for the traditional reasons of preventing it in the future but it matters because this is a human being who had this experience. And, while there are people that don’t want to talk about their experiences, the people in this project have all seemed to find meaning in the process of having these conversations – feeling that their experience isn’t totally lost already.” Many of his interviewees, but especially Elisabeth Dixon, “seem to be inspired by the fact that their stories are important to subsequent generations.”

Even Pamela Bloor knew her mother better after her story had been shared. “It was very moving for me to sit in the USF facilities and listen to my mother describe her incredible experiences,” said Bloor. “I learned some things that day that I hadn’t heard before. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity.”

Contact The USF Libraries Development Office to advance these and other student success and research efforts.

Historic Ybor City Collections Draw Researcher to USF Libraries

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

The USF Tampa Library’s Special Collections department holds some fascinating items. That, you probably know. You may not know, however, what researchers actually do with the historical records, photographs, and newspapers there. We sat down with UNC Chapel Hill doctoral student Sarah McNamara to learn how she is using the Ybor City collections for her master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation research.

UNC Graduate Student Sarah McNamara was drawn to Special Collections for her thesis and disseration research

Born and raised in Tampa, Sarah has always nurtured an interest in Tampa’s role in history. While working on a paper on Ybor City as an undergraduate at the University of Florida, a professor referred her to the USF Libraries Florida Studies Center within the USF Tampa Library’s Special Collections Department. This initial exploration of local history led to a deep dive into the archives. In her graduate work, McNamara uses records from Ybor City’s mutual aid societies, digitized copies of La Gaceta newspaper, and photographs of striking workers in weaving together her thesis on women’s activism and incorporation into the international Popular Front movement. Her research seeks to show that these activities were more than mere labor strikes or communist movements, that they were, in fact, the beginnings of the civil rights movement.

Says McNamara, “Using the Special Collections at USF is essentially going straight to the source. It’s a fantastic archive with an immense amount of local materials, but combining the available information from the Centros, newspapers, and oral histories with government records, Works Progress Administration reports, and other items that connect the city to larger policies and broader events makes it come alive in new ways.” Sarah credits Assistant Librarian Andy Huse with facilitating her research with his knowledge of the collections and willingness to help when she must work remotely due to her University of North Carolina coursework.

Investment in the USF Libraries Florida Studies Center’s collections enhances research opportunities for students like Sarah. Additionally, your support of graduate assistantships and research fellowships enables USF students to gain valuable experience working with the collections, which contributes to successful careers.

Contact The USF Libraries Development Office to advance these and other student success and research efforts.

USF Libraries Scholarships and Fellowships: Investing in Student Success

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

Supporting student success is the USF Libraries’ number one priority. The USF Tampa Library awarded $8,500 in scholarships in 2011, to 10 deserving students. These scholarships are made possible through the generous support of our donors, including friends, alumni, faculty, staff, perhaps even you, who have invested in scholarships through the USF Libraries to support student learning and research.

2011 USF Libraries Scholarship Recipients, with Dean Garrison: (front row) Meagan Albin (Junior; Elementary Education; Sociology minor), Nicholas Hernandez (Freshman; Double major: Biomedical Sciences & Psychology), and Raechel Canipe (Junior; Psychology; Sociology minor) Back row: Skyler Ketchum (Freshman; Architecture), Usman Ahmad (Freshman; Engineering), Alexander Peterson (Freshman; Geology), and Michael Isaacs (Junior; Accounting).

Help us make more students’ dreams of success come true by contacting the USF Libraries Development Office to make a contribution. Supporting student success is achieved in many ways. In addition to scholarships, you can make a difference by enhancing one of our endowments in support of student assistantships and research fellowships in these areas, including the Riordan Fellowship.

2009 USF Libraries Scholarship Recipients and facilitators: Stacy Holman Jones (asst. professor), Darcy Webber, Diana Hurlburt, Seunjoo Park, Dennis J. Smith, Cenia M. Tamo Meza, Larry Heilos (committee), Paula Lezama Romero, donor Ruth Coleman, Donna Menendez

Contact us to make a financial contribution to these and other student success efforts:
The USF Libraries Development Office

Armenian Studies Event Explores Ethics, National Security, Genocide

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

Taner Akçam

The USF Libraries Holocaust & Genocide Studies Center continued our ongoing effort to raise public awareness and encourage the teaching of tolerance with the presentation of the second annual Armenian Studies Symposium on November 4th, 2011. Free and open to the public, attendees filled the Grace Allen Room to capacity, even standing in adjacent rooms to listen in.

Respected Armenian Genocide studies scholar Taner Akçam gave a keynote talk on the Turkish government’s justification for suppressing free speech in the name of national security, a practice with far-reaching implications, from classrooms to contemporary international relations. Akçam‘s talk was followed by a panel discussion featuring USF scholars Edward Kissi, Rachel May, and Steven C. Roach comparing the Turkish situation to the US treatment of Native Americans and it’s long period of slavery, and other genocides around the world throughout history. Were you not able to attend? Watch a video of the November 4th event here.

Edward Kissi, Steven C. Roach, Rachel May

The Armenian Studies event was one in a series of public events the USF Holocaust & Genocide Studies Center has hosted with the aim of calling attention to the intolerant behaviors that have led to genocides and crimes against humanity, in hopes of preventing future genocides and hate crimes. USF Holocaust and genocide studies librarian Musa Olaka relates how the Armenian programming fits into the bigger picture: “The Armenian Studies initiative provides resources and inroads for USF faculty and students to engage in critical study of comparative genocide, genocide denial, and the fight against genocidal ideology around the world.”

In addition to print media coverage in the Maddux Report and the Armenian press, the event was reported on by WMNF radio, 88.5. Listen to the in-depth radio report.

Do you want to support education, programming and collections that can help create a better world?

Contact us to advance these and other efforts: The USF Libraries Development Office.

Top Young Adult Literature Authors on the Hipple Collection

Thursday, October 6th, 2011 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

Tammar Stein:

“The Hipple Collection is a testament to the power that young adult literature holds over every passionate reader.  It’s during that crucial, awkward, intense time of adolescents when we truly discover the power that books hold in our lives. To honor and preserve the progression of thousands of YA books from manuscript to ARC to various published editions is both amazing and necessary.”

Isamu Fukui:

“During my brief visit to the Hipple Collection at USF I had the great pleasure of witnessing an extraordinary undertaking in literary preservation. As an author, I was touched by how earnestly the collection highlights the personal aspect of the writing process. Unlike Minerva from the forehead of Jupiter, no work of literature emerges spontaneously from its creator, fully formed. These texts are the product of painstaking human effort, and the Hipple Collection endeavors not only to preserve them in the most nascent form available, but to capture that personal touch of the author which all too easily becomes lost in the mass market.”

Ben Mikaelsen:

“I want to express what a treasure has been created with the Hipple Collection.  Most important is the vision it has taken to compile this wonderful collection of manuscripts that would otherwise have been lost to time.”

Adrian Fogelin:

“The Hipple Collection is an impressive and growing repository for first editions, manuscripts and ephemera from the always quirky process of producing novels for young readers.  It is a fitting monument to the life of Ted Hipple and a testament to the determination and persuasive powers of Dr. Joan Kaywell.  Because she is such a friend to writers of YA and middle-grade fiction we are happy to add our work (both finished product and rarely-seen drafts) to the collection. My recent first-time visit to the collection made me proud to be included in what is quickly becoming a
great primary source for the study of fiction for young readers.”

Edward Bloor:

“The Hipple Collection has quickly established itself as the east coast’s top repository for young adult lit. They have editions of my books that even I don’t have!”

Greg Neri:

“As far as I’m concerned, the Hipple Collection is the most comprehensive collection of signed first editions and original manuscripts of American teen fiction in the U.S.  I’m proud to have my archives housed there.”

How Does Young Adult Literature Save Lives?

Thursday, September 29th, 2011 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

Joan Kaywell with undergrad YA Literature researcher Courtney Pollard

“I believe that young adult literature saves lives, and I am living proof of that.”

~USF Professor Joan Kaywell

USF Professor of Secondary Education Joan Kaywell knows what a powerful life raft young adult books can be for teens and tweens in emotional turmoil. She credits the genre for rescuing her from a troubled childhood by channeling her desire for escape into a form of emotional therapy and, ultimately, a productive and prestigious career.

Kaywell, a leading expert on young adult literature and the founder of the USF Libraries Hipple Collection of Young Adult Literature, began the Hipple Collection in 2007 with a gift of 333 books, most of them first-editions signed by their authors. She had collected the books over decades for her now-adult sons.

Many young adults find solace, companionship, and self-acceptance through these books, but the books often have a short life cycle since they usually only have one print run. Professor Kaywell wanted to create a place where this literature could be collected and preserved for ongoing use and research. In creating the Hipple Collection within USF Libraries Special Collections, she was able to pay tribute to her mentor and role model Ted Hipple, who devoted much of his career and life to young adult literature.

Since its founding, the Hipple Collection has grown to include well over 2,000 autographed volumes and original author manuscripts, thanks to donations from Kaywell and her sons, the Assembly for Literature on Adolescents (ALAN), authors, and recent funding from donor Dore Beach, the Disney Book Group, and other donors, to support the Children’s and Young Adult Literature Collection Fund. Titles range from the iconic works of Judy Blume and S.E. Hinton to the typescript for 19-year-old Isamu Fukui’s latest novel. The collection is used largely by those who simply want to read these books, but also for research purposes. USF senior Courtney Pollard used many of these titles in a research project comparing characteristics of popular (think “Twilight” and the “Harry Potter” series) with more critically acclaimed young adult literature (listen to the WUSF story here). In addition, Professor Kaywell works with secondary school teachers in an effort to connect teens to the literature that can prove so valuable to them.

Beyond its research, reading, and teaching value, the Hipple Collection serves as a definitive archive of young adult literature for future generations of readers and scholars. As author Edward Bloor notes, “The Hipple Collection has quickly established itself as the east coast’s top repository for young adult lit. They have editions of my books that even I don’t have!” Young adult literature author Greg Neri sums it up: “As far as I’m concerned, the Hipple Collection is the most comprehensive collection of signed first editions and original manuscripts of American teen fiction in the U.S.  I’m proud to have my archives housed there.”

See what other young adult literature authors have to say about the USF Libraries Hipple Collection of Young Adult Literature.

USF Subject Librarians: Opening Doors

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off

Education Librarian Susie Ariew with Graduate Student Megan Cross

For graduate students, navigating the vast sea of research literature can be intimidating.
Because resources are spread among many publishers, it can be difficult to find the information needed to complete a project. That’s where our subject librarians come in. Experts in finding information in a given field of study, they open doors to learning for USF graduate and undergrad students while saving them time and sparing them frustration.

Megan Cross is an elementary school teacher studying for her master’s degree in education so she can become a better teacher. Midway through a research project on handwriting development in one of her first grade students, she realized some of her findings suggested a change of direction. Recalling how helpful USF Tampa Library education librarian Susan Ariew had been in the past, she contacted her again. Susan didn’t have any appointment slots available, but carved out some time to help Megan through this turning point in her research. Ariew made Megan feel like her need was of utmost priority. “She was there, ready, and more than willing to help guide me through a complicated research process,” said Megan.

Librarian Ariew showed Megan how to accurately filter research databases to find just what she needed. What was the outcome? Megan completed her research project with an A grade on the resulting paper. Her professor, Jenifer Schneider, thought Megan’s paper was good enough to be published in an academic journal. What’s more, as a result of this deep immersion in her subject, Megan is considering going on to pursue a Ph. D. She credits education librarian Susan Ariew for helping focus her interest enough to let her realize her potential.

What made you want to become a Librarian?

Susan Ariew: “I was an English teacher for many years, and then I was the education librarian at the University of Virginia, before we moved to Tampa. I love working with people in education. I’m passionate about what they’re doing – research to improve education – and I know what a difference educators make.”

What do you like best about being a part of the USF Libraries?

Susan Ariew: “I meet so many great students at USF and I love working with them. It makes you feel so good that you’ve contributed to their work. I love my job!”

Thanks to generous donors like you, the USF Libraries continue to make students’ dreams come true, even in the face of state budget cuts. With your continued support, we will foster student achievement campus-wide.

To discuss how you can make a financial contribution to our efforts, contact the USF Libraries Development office here or by calling (813) 974-4433 .


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