A report on our Summer 2019 intern

Cynthia O’Neill standing ready to examine audiovisual media from the Arends Collection

Earlier this summer, University Librarian Scott Walter posted news on the start of Cynthia O’Neill’s graduate school internship.As Scott stated, we view the library as “the site for research, internships, and community projects that demonstrate our commitment to engaged learning, both for our undergraduate students and for graduate students working toward a future in library work.”

During her 150 hours in Tate Archives & Special Collections, Cynthia accomplished her internship goal of putting classroom experiences to work in a real-world environment. In the course of her time with us, Cynthia and I shared

Tulasi (left) and Cynthia stand in a row containing the Arends Collection at the completion of their work.

The largest project Cynthia undertook was conducting a preservation assessment of the media contained in the Leslie Arends Congressional Collection. She also created a framework of analysis for Special Collections Student Assistant Tulasi Jaladi (’20) as she conducted an assessment of the papers held in over 5,000 folders in this collection. Tulasi also re-boxed the collection, replacing from 80 records-storage boxes that had become acidic over time with the smaller document boxes you see on the left in their photo.

Throughout this work Cynthia and I discussed the kinds of preservation analysis resources available and how these sources could apply to the work at hand. The result of Cynthia and Tulasi’s work will guide me to the specific parts the collection, some of which is over 80 years old, that need preservation treatments. Most of the paper (the bulk of the collection) is in good condition, but the audiovisual content on older media (like 35mm film and reel-to-reel tapes) is quickly becoming inaccessible because the technology needed to play it is no longer widely available. Some of these recordings are also showing tangible signs of age-related damage. With these details, I will estimate costs of the preservation actions needed.

Cynthia’s experiences in both a museum and public library led us to interesting cross-institutional discussions about policy needs, patron types and research and staffing concerns. Her passion for material culture also resulted in a timely exhibition on the Apollo 11 moon landing. Cynthia proposed the idea based on her survey of the Congressman’s collection, which contains additional material on the Apollo program. She also reached out to a museum in the region to make a connection between us for a larger exhibition she knows they are doing in the fall. I appreciate having the opportunity to collaborate outside of academia!

The processing project Cynthia undertook for a recent donation by artist and alumna Marjorie Kouns (’79) was small enough—and had enough unique aspects to it—that we were able to dive into theory vs. practice discussions right away. There was so much variation in this personal “papers” type of collection that we could consider strategies for different types of arrangement.

Afterwards, Cynthia conducted a thorough assessment of materials and presented me with her observations and ideas about their organization and preservation needs. After I approved a final arrangement plan, I taught her how to use ArchivesSpace to make a record for the collection. To enhance our understanding of this artist’s work, Cynthia agreed to conduct an oral history interview with the donor.

One day I mentioned receiving a fairly typical-to-the-archives donation from a long-time staff member who just retired. I outlined how this would be a different collection from the artist’s. On her own initiative, Cynthia offered to assess and process this material. She readily made the transition from the concepts we discussed about arrangement for a personal collection to a professional one.

To enhance her understanding of book history, Cynthia capped off her experience by creating a tutorial on historical book construction techniques and their preservation needs. She used selections from Special Collections to provide examples of these works, and so we now have a resource to help prepare visitors about what they can expect to find in special collections, how book history relates to these specific items, and how they can interact with them to help preserve them for the future.

Exhibits: Apollo 11 at 50

astronaut with lunar test equipment

Aldrin sets up seismic test equipment. (click to enlarge)

No doubt, news outlets everywhere are noting the 50th anniversary of this milestone in human achievement. This post also commemorates the lunar landing and provides me with a chance to highlight both the work of our summer intern Cynthia O’Neill and one of the collections she’s been working on: The Leslie Arends Congressional Collection.

In a previous post, University Librarian Scott Walter profiled the range of learning experiences Cynthia is engaging in this summer. In the course of her preservation assessment on the Arends material, she found many Apollo program items, including a clipping that describes Arends as one of only three Illinoisans named on the 1.5″ silicon Goodwill disk left on the moon by the Apollo 11 astronauts.

Close-up of canceled first-issue stamps commemorating the Apollo 11 Moon landing

Close-up of President Richard Nixon and Postmaster General Winton Blount’s signatures on a commemorative print of the Earth as seen from orbit and a first-day-of-issue stamp created in 1971. The Armstrong quote printed at the bottom of the Moon photo states “…one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

That clipping, commemorative photos and stamps are on display in the John Wesley Powell Rotunda on The Ames Library’s entry level from now through August. (see a selection of images from the exhibit below)

Arends received these and items from other Apollo missions in thanks for his support of the program. A copy of the speech he gave on July 21, 1969 is part of this exhibit, too. In it he makes note of historic and contemporary global contributions that led to the success of Apollo 11. Visitors are invited to reflect on the broader implications of this achievement.

Another exhibit case just beyond the rotunda commemorates Arends’ involvement in the visit that Apollo 8 Commander Col. Frank Borman made to IWU in March 1969.

I will share more details on Cynthia’s internship in a future post, but I will add one additional benefit we gained by hosting her this summer. Cynthia’s full time work is as the Program Coordinator at the Eureka Public Library and she recently arranged a visit to her library by a museum director from Peoria. Cynthia shared her insights into the Arends collection with that person, and I am hoping we can arrange a loan of some materials from the Arends Collection for their Apollo-related exhibition this fall.

We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with others and readers should know that the Arends Collection and other materials located in Tate Archives and Special Collections are available for use by both the IWU community and the general public. So stop by the library’s first floor for a look at our Apollo exhibits M-F, 8-4 now through the end of August and let me know if you are interested in exploring this or any of our other collections!

Apollo 8 and IWU

Earth rising above the lunar horizon

Earthrise, December 24, 1968. Photo by Apollo 8 Astronaut Bill Anders. (credit: NASA)

December 21st marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Apollo 8 mission–the first manned orbit of the moon. Just three months after that on March 18, 1969, the three Apollo 8 astronauts–Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders–were awarded honorary PhDs at the 1969 Founders’ Day Convocation (the latter two in absentia). During his time on campus, Borman, who was Apollo 8’s commander, laid the cornerstone for the new Mark Evans Observatory and spoke at a luncheon for the Board of Trustees.
Towards the end of the Founders’ Day recording Borman speaks and has some pointed and interesting comments about education in direct response to the event’s main speaker William Arrowsmith, University of Texas Professor of Classics and University Professor in Arts and Letters. A March 21, 1969 Argus article (p. 15)  describes the event.
Astronaut Frank Borman and a crowd of onlookers at the Evan's Observatory dedication

A sizeable crowd watches as Frank Borman gets ready to place the time capsule in the Mark Evans Observatory. [click to enlarge]


The University made an an audio recording of the cornerstone laying at Mark Evans Observatory and the University Archivist added the sound track over three brief (and silent) home movies that were donated in 2016. One of the films shows Borman placing a time capsule in the observatory’s wall. The photo on the left shows just part of the crowd that this event drew; several other photos are available online.
The time capsule included many items that were not connected directly with the campus such as a package of space food, the Apollo 8 astronaut’s Christmas Eve tape, a road atlas, the Illinois Agricultural Association (IAA) Record and fifty-year history, and the Bloomington-Normal Phone Directory on microfilm.
In President Eckley’s remarks at the dedication, he says he intends to open the time capsule in seven years, but the University’s archival holdings do not contain evidence of that happening. With the 50th anniversary of the observatory’s dedication coming up, Physical Plant personnel are examining the building to see if the time capsule is still there.
After the dedication, Borman gave a presentation to the Board of Trustees in which he shared details of the Apollo 8 mission and displayed a great sense of humor!
The Winter 2011 IWU Magazine story “Star Attraction” offers additional details on the history of the development of this observatory.

Views of an old Bur Oak

In an article published today IWU Manager of Grounds Services Eric Nelson told the story of a campus bur oak that fell after a heavy rain. The oldest clear image found in IWU’s archival collections is in the 1929 yearbook, The Wesleyana (p. 15).

Here is a selection of other views over the years!

 

Digitized history of the Muslim Student Association

The archives continues to bring new life to old media. The latest result of this work is a brief but excellent history of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) that is now available online. It was created by the 2005 Summer Enrichment Program students who researched different student organizations and interviewed alumni. Two alumnae were part of this portion and their recordings are also available now:
Hyder Alyan,Class of 2006 and
Muneerah Maalik
,Class of 2000

Muneerah Maalik ‘00

Muneerah Maalik ‘00, co-chair of the Minority Alumni Network, led a mentoring session that paired alumni with current students. Photo from IWU Magazine, Winter 2008-09

Readers should know that the archives is always interested in working with everyone in the IWU community to make sure the history they are making here is known to the future. Contact Meg (mminer{at}iwu.edu), IWU’s archivist, to start discussing your and/or your group’s work today!

Ecology Action Center records in Special Collections

Within The Ames Library’s 4th floor department called Tate Archives & Special Collections are thousands of unique materials and all are available to benefit people in the IWU and surrounding communities.

Ecology Attention Center (EAC) Collection

Materials from the Ecology Action Center (EAC) Collection (click to enlarge).

This image shows selections from the Ecology Action Center Collection, one of a group of records about local and IWU environmental organizations. The EAC collection is comprised of 8 linear feet of administrative and non-for-profit business development information as well as historical information and publications pertaining to Operation Recycle (estab. 1971 by ISU Professor Derek McCracken) and the Ecology Action Center (EAC, estab. 1994).

The Ecology Action Center, created in and based out of Normal, Illinois, continues the education efforts of Operation Recycle which was officially disbanded in 1998, by providing the community with tours, workshops, classes, earth-camps, fairs, and many other events.

The items displayed in these posts are just a small portion of the kinds of materials found in Tate Archives & Special Collections. These collections are in a variety of languages and formats (artifact, book, manuscript, and media) and creation dates range from the 11th-21st centuries. Some collections are completely described and identified and some have yet to be thoroughly organized or examined.

Although many holdings do have a direct connection to the University, many are distinct and unrelated to the others such as the supporting materials for research on the people who created and collected the pottery and basketry items displayed in the entry level rotunda.

Curious minds seeking inspiration for creative works and original research are welcome to stop by and explore the possibilities!

 

 

 

Named places: Minor Myers, jr. Welcome Center

Minor Myers, jr.

Minor Myers, jr.. 1989

The Minor Myers, jr. Welcome Center, honoring Illinois Wesleyan’s 17th president (1989-2003), houses the Admissions Office and the Hart Career Center. Myers tenure saw the creation of the Shirk Center, the Center for Natural Sciences and The Ames Library.

Then-BOT President Craig Hart, 2003

Craig Hart, 2003

 

 

 

 

Craig C. Hart, former president of IWU’s Board of Trustees, is the Career Center’s namesake. The Welcome Center received Silver certification as a leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Green Building – the first building in Bloomington to be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Newly digitized recordings

Tate Archives & Special Collections is pleased to announce that over 170 interviews, originally recorded on audio- and microcassette, are now available in digital form. Due to privacy concerns, researchers are required to use these sources in Tate Archives & Special Collections, The Ames Library, or make special arrangements with the University’s archivist (archives@iwu.edu). Nevertheless, these unique primary sources contain valuable perspectives for people interested in 20th century America theatre and film.

The following guest post was researched and written by Archives Student Assistant Noah Jett, Class of 2020, who recently completed comprehensive descriptions of the recordings. The digitized originals were edited by Archives Student Assistant Giovanni Garcia in order to make it possible to hear a single interview subject in a single audio recording.

An analysis of the Jared Brown collection of biographical sources

Click to enlarge

Emeritus Professor Jared Brown taught theater full time at IWU from 1989-2002, and was director of the School of Theater Arts from 1989-1999. Brown has had a lifelong connection with show business. In addition to his own career as a professor, he has written multiple biographies on notable film and theater figures to positive receptions, and his father was a radio and film star who was blacklisted in the McCarthy era. These biographies  include: The Fabulous Lunts: A Biography of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, Moss Hart: A Prince of the Theatre, Zero Mostel: A Biography, and Alan J. Pakula: His Films and His Life (abstracts for all are available below). Brown chose his biographical subjects not just because they were important to theater or film, but because he felt they had been neglected in literature, and were being forgotten by the public despite their contributions.

Upon completion of his books, Jared Brown designated Illinois Wesleyan University’s Special Collections as the repository for all of his research materials. The sources are primarily original interviews with people who knew or worked with the research subjects, including actors, directors, writers, and producers from multiple generations of Hollywood. Also included are correspondences, broadcast interviews, and recorded performances. These materials possess a wealth of knowledge on their subjects, and would be beneficial to researchers, or to anyone interested in seeing firsthand the process of researching a comprehensive biography. These sources contain all descriptive information that was provided to the library, as well as descriptive notes on the content created during a 2018 collection analysis by this author.

Abstracts of the four books created with the research material available in Tate Archives & Special Collections:

In Moss Hart: A Prince of the Theatre, Brown explores the life and career of theatre director and playwright Moss Hart. Hart was known for his long time partnership with George S. Kaufman, who wrote many of his plays. Hart’s biggest success and surviving legacy was his direction of the original My Fair Lady in 1956, which played for over seven years and won Hart a Tony award for best director. He also wrote scripts for films, such as A Star is born and Gentleman’s Agreement. Moss Hart: A Prince of the Theatre is one of the foremost biographies on Hart, and the only one listed on Hart’s Wikipedia page.

In The Fabulous Lunts, Brown recounts the glamorous lives of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, two of the original superstars of show business who are widely regarded as the best acting duo in the 20th century American theater. The Lunts are known for their incredible stagecraft and acting technique, and Brown explores in detail how this is the result of their hard work and dedication. Despite their stardom, and their reputation for class and elegance, the Lunts resided in a country home in Genesee Depot in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, Alfred Lunt having attended nearby Carroll College. The Fabulous Lunts is a comprehensive biography of the duo, discussing both their exceptional talent in the theater and the personalities that left them so fondly remembered by everyone who knew them.

Zero Mostel: A Biography is an attempt to pin down the truth about Samuel “Zero” Mostel, an actor, comedian, and artist most well known for being the original “Tevye” in Fiddler on the Roof. Described as irreverent, boisterous, and exuberant, Mostel was a polarizing figure who garnered strong feelings from everyone who knew him. Mostel had a tendency towards storytelling and exaggerations, but Jared Brown sifted through story after story until his book represented the closest thing to the truth as could be found. Mostel was also a victim of the McCarthy era blacklisting, but he is one of the few who survived, and even went on to have a greater career afterwards.

Alan J. Pakula: His Films and his Life is an extensive insight into the life of a talented and influential, but widely forgotten director. Pakula’s notable films include his “paranoia trilogy”: Klute, The Parallax View, and All the President’s Men, for which he won an academy award. He also directed Sophie’s Choice, and produced To Kill a Mockingbird. Pakula died tragically in a traffic collision in 1998, and was fondly remembered by all who knew him as a deeply intelligent and caring man. In this biography, Jared Brown discusses Pakula’s life and how he came to have such keen psychological insights, as well as how his directing career could be so successful yet so largely forgotten.

Riley Jackson’s Script Collection

Image

A recent archives researcher helped shed light on a mysterious collection of books in IWU’s Special Collections. Why do we have a set of scripts from radio and TV mystery series that were produced on the West Coast?

We now know to thank Riley Jackson’s (’38) work in radio and television for donating more

1948 Suspense episode

A 1948 Suspense episode (click to enlarge)

than five year’s worth of the original scripts for the Suspense radio series, as well as the screenplays for the entire series of The Front Page Detective. These scripts and screenplays contain unique details about the production of these series, such as the actors, air time and dress rehearsal times, as well as directions related to the cuing, staging, and camera angles. Several of the Suspense scripts and all of The Front Page Detective screenplays are rare. Illinois Wesleyan is one of the few locations in the United States known to hold copies. Some recordings of these productions are available through the Internet Archive.

The following guest post was researched and written by Archives Student Assistant Katharine Teykl, Class of 2019.

Riley Jackson 1936

Riley Jackson, Freshman Class photo, 1936 Wesleyana

Riley Jackson came to Illinois Wesleyan in 1935. Although he never graduated from Illinois Wesleyan, he is considered a member of the class of 1938. He was actively involved in campus activities, particularly with the radio station and the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity (1936 Wesleyana, p. 123). One of the most distinguished roles he took on at Illinois Wesleyan was radio announcer for the 1937 Homecoming program, which included the Homecoming parade and football game (Argus, p. 1, Sept. 29, 1937). After leaving Illinois Wesleyan, he took a position at WJBC radio, located in Bloomington, IL, as a radio announcer (Argus, p. 3, October 17, 1939). In 1938, he left WJBC and began working for WIND, a Christian-based radio station located in Chicago (Argus, p. 1, April 6, 1938). There, he took on the role of radio engineer, working behind the scenes. This experience would serve him later, as he took on various roles in production and management for different media companies.

Margaret Reeser Jackson, 1936

Margaret Reeser Jackson, Freshman Class, 1936 Wesleyana

In 1951, Jackson and his wife Margaret (nee Reeser) ’37 moved to North Hollywood, California. There, he became the radio and television manager for Cecil & Presbrey (IWU Bulletin, p. 11, Aug. 1954). In this role, he supervised the production for several radio and television series. Many of the series that he helped to produce and supervise dealt with suspense, mystery, unexplained phenomena, and science fiction. Among the most well-known were Suspense, an immensely popular radio mystery series on CBS, and The Front Page Detective television series, which ran from 1951 until 1953 on the DuMont Television Network. After The Front Page Detective finished its run in 1953, Jackson worked in the film industry in Hollywood, serving as the executive producer for films such as Storm over the Pacific (1960) and Mill of the Stone Woman (1960), and serving as the post-production supervisor on the US version of King Kong Escapes (1967) and dialogue supervisor for the US version of The War of the Gargantuas (1966). (compiled from information on Jackson’s IMDB page, https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0413979/).

Despite living and working on the West Coast, the Jacksons returned to Illinois Wesleyan on multiple occasions, maintaining a close connection with their alma mater. On their visits, they took interest in various student activities, such as the Spotlight Alley Theatre, run by the Illinois Wesleyan School of Theatre Arts, in addition to attending dinner at the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house (IWU Bulletin, p. 15, Aug. 1956 and Argus, p. 3, Dec. 6, 1938, respectively).

As radio productions become all but extinct, looking at these scripts and early TV screen plays provides an interesting look into the history of popular culture and a fresh perspective on the ways in which Americans engaged with the media available to them at the time. Anyone interested in viewing the scripts for the Suspense radio series or The Front Page Detective should come up to the archives (The Ames Library, 4th floor). You never know what sort of mystery could be waiting inside!

Two “new” alumni interviews

Last summer a diligent student assistant started evaluating our analog audiovisual recordings. Old media formats deteriorate or sometimes becomes unplayable just because the machines are no longer available. Before that happens we want to make sure we transfer content into new formats that are not media-dependent. Thanks to funding from the library we have started to digitize these selections.

The two interviews linked below were conducted by Development Officer Yvonne Jones in 1999 for the Minority Alumni Research Project. More information on the project is available in archives Record Groups 4-3/1/9 and 12- 2/1/3.

We don’t have transcripts for them yet but I’ve created robust abstracts and added links to related material whenever possible. Enjoy!

Edelbert Rodgers, Class of 1933, during a campus visit in 2001

Rodgers during a campus visit in 2001

 

Edelbert Rodgers, Class of 1933

This photo of Rodgers should be familiar to anyone who has visited Hansen Student Center. Dr. Rodgers is part of the mural that’s behind the information desk!

He was a Sociology major at IWU and in a previous blog post I provided links to campus news sources he appeared in. Rodgers earned a Ph.D. in Psychology at New York University and had a career in both private practice and teaching.

 

 

 

Below are two photos of Luther Bedford, Class of 1959. Bedford was a Physical Education major who lettered three times in varsity football and was also on the track team. After graduation he taught at Marshall High School, Chicago, IL and was Athletic Director for 33 of his 40 year tenure.

Luther Bedford in football uniform

Bedford in the 1958 Wesleyana

Luther Bedford receiving diplomma from President Eckley in 1959

Bedford in 1960 Wesleyana