Woman’s collection speaks for 300 years of women’s history

Only one collection description out of the 14,506 added today to ArchiveGrid belongs to Pennsylvania State University-Harrisburg. It’s the Alice Marshall Women’s History Collection, ca. 1546-1997, one of two collections in the school’s archives and special collections.

This one collection, described by an 83-page PDF finding aid, puts the school on the map, so to speak, in terms of being considered one of the largest research collections of a private owner on women’s history in the United States. Penn State acquired it in 1991 and some of the approximately 11,000 materials are still being cataloged.

Praise for the value this 238 cubic-foot collection has for women’s history scholars should start with an understanding of Alice K. Marshall of Harrisburg – who amassed these materials for 50 years – and her lifelong research of 16th to 20th-century women’s history.

Alice Kahler Marshall, according to the finding aid, started after her year as a World War II Army servicewoman to note contradictions between women’s realities and stereotypes of women’s behavior. Career-wise, Marshall worked briefly as a reporter for the Washington Post newspaper. During her later years in Harrisburg, where she and her husband lived and raised four children, she wrote and gave presentations about women’s history using much of what was in her collection. But for 20 years until she retired in 1981, she held prestigious positions with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

After that her collecting increased. In 1987, she won Pennsylvania‘s Award for Service to Women. An article that year in the Philadelphia Inquirer featuring Marshall said, “Part of her enjoyment in collecting has been her sense that she is helping to rescue women’s history from oblivion.” (Baker, Deborah. “Woman‘s Collection Fills a Historic-Female-Gap.” Philadelphia Inquirer. March 27, 1987.) Marshall was a fascinating woman with a fascinating collection.

With that, let’s look at what was in her trove.

Advertising trade cards. Postcards and Valentines. Broadsides. Graphics. Hand-colored fashion plates. Journals. Letters. Manuscripts. Newspapers. Magazines and Serials. Photographs. 105 Posters. More than 7,000 pieces of sheet music. More than 6,000 early 20th-century picture postcards. More than 7,000 books and pamphlets. Buttons, badges and pins. And more.

Page 81 of the finding aid is especially worthwhile to read because it lists Marshall’s publications and presentations.

We also welcome three other new ArchiveGrid contributors, whose collections add richness to those who discover them through the 1,694,393 WorldCat bibliographic records (the ones marked as archival materials, which get into ArchiveGrid) and finding aids now searchable in our system.

Suffolk University

Arkansas History Commission

Brethren Historical Library and Archives

Archives in the News, 4/27/2012

Queens Library’s archives, located in the system’s central library in Jamaica, NY, celebrated its centennial on April 25 with local preservationists and others.

Democratic strategist Garry South, whose work has influenced major California political races for decades, donated his archive to University of California Los Angeles and will become UCLA Library’s Garry South Collection of Political Research.

The Folger Shakespeare Library, where Shakespearean actress Lynn Redgrave once served on the Board of Governors, acquired Redgrave’s archive of materials about her and her family of actors and actresses.

What got digitized, 4/27/2012

New York City municipal archivists put 870,000 images of New York City into an online database that launched April 24. The various types of black and white and color photographs date from 1853 to the 2000s, but most come from the 1980s.

Volunteers are digitizing Nebraska’s 75,790 homestead records at the National Archives, which is finishing the third year of digitizing, indexing, and putting online all 821,890 homestead certificates – generated by the Homestead Act of 1862 – from 30 states. Nebraska’s were selected as the first to be processed and are expected to be completed in about a year.

Diaries at Duke University, written by British and American women who traveled in the 1800s and 1900s throughout the United States and the world. Finding aids for the collections at Duke containing diaries can also be found in ArchiveGrid by using “diary” as a search term, and narrowing the search by location to Duke.

Special collections head shares lessons learned from Facebook project

As social media becomes a more widely used tool to achieve the goal of connecting students to special collections and archival materials in academic libraries, how well – and how correctly – a platform like Facebook is used can make or break that goal.

In an article about how to use Facebook to highlight history, the head of special collections at the University of Nevada, Reno, shares her story about a project she launched to connect students to local history with Facebook profiles of alumni from a century ago. It was in response to a proposal last year to close special collections because it received lower traffic than other areas of the library. After Facebook profiles were created and enriched with materials from the school’s special collections, Facebook shut them down, citing violation of the site’s Terms of Service.

This story does have a happy ending. The alums are back online as Facebook pages under a new page for UNR’s special collections. And some social media wisdom was learned. ArchiveGrid can also help bring more people to history, by being able to search the school’s finding aids describing collections containing some materials Facebook visitors get to see, and more.

Archives, special collections researchers invited to take online survey

At OCLC Research, we constantly want to know: How do researchers find materials in archives and special collections? How do they share information about what they find with others?

During the next month, we will ask researchers directly these important questions and more. Through an online survey, we will ask how researchers discover these types of resources, how they share information on how they are used, and about other aspects of the research cycle.

The survey will be available at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/W8MKXP9 through May 25, and it includes the chance for those completing it to win an Amazon gift card.

What we learn will help us improve ArchiveGrid by refreshing our understanding about how researchers discover and share information about materials in special collections. Focus groups and user studies carried out by RLG in 2004 helped us build ArchiveGrid, and we are looking for new data to help us improve that system. Our findings and how they relate to ArchiveGrid will also be presented at the RBMS conference in June.

How can you help?

If you are willing to distribute information about the survey on our behalf to your affiliated researchers, you could use the following text in your notice:

OCLC Research wants to know how researchers (you) use special collections. Complete this survey and be entered in a chance to win an Amazon Gift Card!

Please visit http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/W8MKXP9 to answer some questions about how you find – and find out about – websites and other research resources. The information you provide will help OCLC Research make it easier to discover materials in special collections.

Thank you!

Archives in the News, 4/23/2012

The Grateful Dead Archive in the McHenry Library at University of California Santa Cruz opens June 29, following phases of processing after the band in 2008 donated its archive to the UC school.

April 20 commemorated the 100th anniversary of when Fenway Park opened for the Boston Red Sox. That times well with the completion of a digitization project at Boston Public Library of thousands of its 20th century Red Sox and Fenway Park photographs. See those photographs, along with BPL’s other digitized images from 1872-1972 of other Boston-area ballparks, arenas, and stadiums, here.

Safe from southern California fires, the archives of T.C. Boyle is now at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, expanding its holdings of papers of 20th and 21st century novelists.

Florida International University has acquired a collection of thousands of books, letters, photographs, and other primary source materials relating to Cuba and Cuban genealogy, collected by Felix Enrique Hurtado de Mendoza. Hurtado, a Cuban native until 1960, amassed the collection in about four decades, including more than 5,000 volumes of books on Cuban genealogy.

Archives in the news – 4/3/2012

Here are recent headlines featuring ArchiveGrid contributors:

A story in The Desert Sun is about an endowment from NASA to help a University of California, Riverside astronomy professor archive photographs of galaxies the Hubble Space Telescope took in the last decade. Launched in 1990, the Hubble in 2002 got a new lens that amplifies its renowned deep-space images. Astronomers have been better able to study the age and dimensions of galaxies and the archive will be a data bank for future researchers.

The Ithaca Journal featured the Eastern Wine and Grape Archive at Cornell University, which functions both as a collection about the East Coast wine industry and as a program to document wine production and consumption in the United States. Established in 1998, the collection contains documents, records, marketing collateral, and ephemera from wineries and vineyards dating back to the 19th century.

After the U.S. National Archives on Monday released the 1940 census on a government website, the Washington Post ran an Associated Press story about how the website slowed within hours due to unexpectedly high traffic and triggered a need for immediate action to improve the site’s performance. Updates are being posted on the site, and an investigation into the issue continues at msnbc.com.