Earth Laughs in Flowers

“Earth laughs in flowers, to see her boastful boys
Earth-proud, proud of the earth which is not theirs;
Who steer the plough but cannot steer their feet
Clear of the grave.” – “Hamatreya” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

This post was written by Khalid Tamimi, Research Services Student Assistant and undergraduate in marketing. 

“Cannaceae: Canna generalis Equador,” Box 1, Page 11, Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Special Collections Research Center holds a myriad of materials that cover the flourishing world of Botany. This includes photograph collections, like the one by Kjell B. Sandved, or books like Histoire des plantes vénéneuses et suspectes de la France (The history of venomous and suspicious plants of France), Temple of Flora, and many more that we have in our catalog.

 

 

 

 

Kjell B. Sandved, Norwegian nature photographer, spent his life traveling across our green planet and capturing its versatility and beauty one frame at a time. His images capture so much detail that a mere glimpse is enough to slow down ones perception of time and get lost in a lifeless image that portrays the very essence of life itself.

 

“Bougainvillea glabra, Hawaii,” Box 1, Page 7, Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

 

As one peruses over the breathtaking photographs you can’t help but envy those who have dedicated their lives to the study and observation of nature’s finest. We as a species seem to be obsessed with beauty yet we tend to forget the ever-blooming beauty that Mother Nature is.

 

 

 

 

“Grevilla Banksii Kahili flower. Queensland Australia,” Box 1, Page 12, Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

 

 

 

Flowers are a great reminder that standing out and being different warrant celebration rather than scrutiny. As social creatures, we fixate on assimilation and  yet we often forget that beauty almost always lies in uniqueness. At first glimpse do you notice the single flower? Or the identical leaflets on either side?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Histoire des Plantes Vénéneuses et Suspectes de la France contains over 100 plant species which vary in beauty but are all poisonous. This 1798 book provides information on each plant, though written in French, describing the parts of each plant and other useful facts. L’Hellebore noir is a beautiful flower that can be found across France; also known as the Christmas rose or Helleborus Niger. Despite its misleading name this plant does not belong to the rose family rather is an evergreen perennial flowering plant in the buttercup family. Despite its aesthetic charm, this flower is actually poisonous. Touching or being near this plant can cause the burning of the eyes, mouth, and throat, coughing, and in some cases, oral ulcerations. This may be Mother Nature’s subtle reminder that just because something appears beautiful does not mean that it is harmless or good.

“L’Hellebore noir,” Bulliard, Pierre, Histoire des Plantes Vénéneuses et Suspectes de la France, QK100.F7 B85 1798, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

 

“Tulips,” Thornton, Robert John, Thorton’s Temple of Flora, QK98 .T5, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

Written in 1951, this oversize edition of Thorton’s Temple of Flora (originally Thorton published some editions in the late 18th century and early 19th century) has large, beautiful illustration of flowers, most of which are in color. The text within the book describes Thorton’s life, interests in botany and his relationship with the Darwin family. Exploring these illustrations, one can learn vital life lessons from natures finest. Not only should we all take the time to appreciate the intricacies of the natural world that we live in. Similarly, we can learn a lot about ourselves and how we coexist with other living things in this world. We can coincide peacefully together, regardless of the differences in the colors of our petals, their origins, or which way we choose to face the sun.

“The Dragon Arum,” Thornton, Robert John, Thorton’s Temple of Flora, QK98 .T5, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

 

To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. You may also e-mail us at speccoll@gmu.edu or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have questions. Appointments are not necessary to request and view collections.

Get Rec’d: The Difference Between Archiving and Records Management

This post was written by Samara Carter, University Records Manager.

Box for Records Management. The labels indicate the types of materials included in the box (i.e. prospective student sign-in sheets, payment sheets, copies of graduation lists). This photo was taken by Nick Welsh, Records Management Specialist, in the warehouse which is separate space from the SCRC stacks containing rare books and archival materials.

“I have stuff for archiving.”

The word archiving gets used interchangeably day in and day out by university offices wanting to submit records to University Archives or URM (University Records Management), both housed in Special Collections Research Center (SCRC). Sometimes departments have photographs or publications for University Archives, sometimes departments have financial documents that need to be stored for a few years before they can be destroyed. While both of our units work in tandem to oversee Masons’ records, archiving is best applied as a term when speaking about historical and/or permanent records. 

Why is that?

An archive is a repository for items that need to be maintained for an undefined period of time, generally forever. University Archives houses collections with the intention of tending to them in perpetuity for the purpose of making them available for research and posterity, including documenting the history of George Mason. URM houses public records with the intention of destroying them at a later date.

Records fall into three categories here at Mason:

  • Historical (permanent)
  • Public (permanent)
  • Public (temporary)

However, all records have a lifecycle that begin the exact same way – a document of some format or another is created and bam – a record is born! Along the lifecycle of a record, though, the path diverges towards two choices: permanent retention or destruction.

Word of the Week: Lifecycle” created by the National Archives, explaining the life cycle of records.

Once a record has reached the end of its active usefulness, a Mason department will contact University Archives or URM about “archiving” it. Historical items are gleefully claimed by our archivists whereas temporary, public items eventually make their way with approval to the URC (University Records Center). Public records are stored, rather than “archived,” at the URC and given a destruction date based on the context of use and date of the documents in question.

At University Archives and URM, we are doing our best to clear up the confusion between our respective tasks to protect against permanent items accidentally being stashed away in an area where they could meet an untimely end in a shredder.

As for those permanent public records? Currently they’re all maintained in-house with their respective departments for accessibility reasons.

For more information about Records and Information Management look here.

Samara can be reached at  scarte25@gmu.edu or  703.993.2201. Nick Welsh, Records Management Specialist, can be reached at nwelsh3@gmu.edu or 703.993.5273.

University Archives Series: Student and University Publications

This post was written by Alina Moody, undergraduate finishing her degree in creative writing. She is an OSCAR student (Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, & Research) and is a copy editor for Broadside. Alina has worked on a variety of projects for Special Collections Research Center over the last two years.

Special Collections Research Center keeps a number of materials from student and university publications dating as early as 1960. This includes everything from university pamphlets handed out during Mason Day festivals to copies of Fourth Estate’s predecessor Broadside. Recently, I have taken on the task of reorganizing and creating an inventory for the Student and University Publication collection to include any recent publications or additions to the collection. I look through each box within the collection and organize the folders inside, giving them a more accurate box number.


Once I’ve finished numbering them, I enter their information (box and folder number, name of the work or description of the materials and the year it was published) in an Excel spreadsheet to create an inventory. Once this process is complete, I will use this inventory to create a finding aid and upload it to our website so patrons can see what we have in this collection. This is a small part of our larger project to make materials within university archives more accessible as many collections still lack finding aids. Patrons will then be able to use these materials more efficiently and will begin to see how many interesting collections we have in university archives (our materials are split into manuscript collections, university archives, and rare books).

While working on this project for Special Collections, I have encountered many older publications that I never knew Mason had. One of the most interesting finds I’ve made while reorganizing, has been Mason’s Expulsion paper. Expulsion was described in its debut issue as a, “not-even-remotely-for-profit, not-even-close-to-being-political organization” to rival Mason’s established newspaper, Broadside. It lived up to its secondary title of “Mason’s Superior Underground Newspaper” through sheer witty sarcasm; it featured weekly articles that made light of George Mason University’s news, often appealing to student’s true feelings about the college experience at Mason. Expulsion ran from 1990 to May of 2006, publishing thirty-two volumes in total.

The cover of Expulsion’s 1999 April Fools issue, which features a (badly) photoshopped spread of former GMU President, Alan Merten, doing a “Merten” Klein underwear photoshoot.

Expulsion’s special Star Wars issue in May of 1999. The cover features Expulsion’s own mission to oppose, “the evil Broadside Campus Empire, led by not so evil emperor, Mertentine.”

To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. You may also e-mail us at speccoll@gmu.edu or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have questions. Appointments are not necessary to request and view collections.

Reorganizing the GMU Oral History Program Collection

This post was written by Emily Curley, our Oral History Program Coordinator.

The George Mason University Oral History Program has conducted over 200 interviews since 1999. Because we’re always adding to the collection, it’s time to reorganize the physical collection and the finding aid.

Oral History Collection, #R0122, in our closed stacks.

What we’ve done so far:

We’ve reorganized the physical collection. This included moving CD’s of oral history interviews into new boxes and arranging the individual interviews by date, rather than alphabetically. The collection increased from nine to eleven boxes and range from the late 1970’s to 2017. These histories cover a wide variety of topics including the history of George Mason University and Northern Virginia.

Our Next Steps:

  • Comparing the finding aid to the physical collection
  • Revising long abstracts and creating missing abstracts
  • Creating a new finding aid
  • Creating workflow for periodic updates of the Oral History finding aid

We will compare the finding aid to the physical collection and fill in any missing interviews. The finding aid was last updated in 2013, so there are over 50 oral histories that need to be added. After we have confirmed that all of the interviews are updated, we will check the finding aid once again and revise some of the abstracts. Some abstracts have too much information while others have too little. Our aim is to be as consistent as possible.

A box with an oral history pulled out to show what information goes on the labels.

After confirming that the abstracts are correct, I will be working with the Archives and Manuscript Librarian, Liz Beckman, to create a new finding aid, which is expected to go on our website sometime this summer.

Finally, I will create a guide for the next oral historian (who will start in September) so that they can periodically add new interviews and keep the finding aid up to date.

Links

GMU Oral History Program

Youtube

Finding Aid

Other Oral History Holdings

OMEKA Site

To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. Appointments are not necessary to request and view collections. Additionally, requests can be made to listen to oral histories in our Reading Room. Copies can also be made for a fee, which are listed on our website. Some oral histories may need to be converted to disk before they are available to patrons. For questions about oral histories, contact Emily Curley. To schedule an appointment or to request copies of an oral history, contact our Research Services Coordinator, Rebecca Bramlett.

“So, Success Attend St. Patrick’s Fist, For He’s a Saint So Clever”

For St. Patrick’s Day, we are featuring some books about the Emerald Isle!

This book includes many beautiful illustrations throughout. Some titles include “The Enchanted Lake”, “The Haunted Cellar”, and “The Legend of Knockfierna”.

Croker, Thomas Crofton, Irish Fairy Legends , DA990 .C8 1898, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

This book on the Aran Islands tells the tale of a man who stayed on the island. The three islands are located off of the western coast of Ireland. The writers poetic nature makes this book a satisfying read, full of details that make you feel you are actually there.

Synge, J.M., The Aran Islands , PR5533 .A417 1911, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

This is a folio sized book of over 600 pages, all decorated with a beautiful border, and contains footnotes and an index. It is surely a must read for anyone interested in or studying Irish history.

Mitchel, John, The History of Ireland , Folio DA910 .M145 1808, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

This last book, though we have many others in our collections, contains songs and their history. The title of this blog was taken from the song titled, “St. Patrick” in the page below in. Some other songs include, “The Shamrock”, “Whisky”, and a multitude of local songs.

Croker, Thomas Crofton, Popular Songs of Ireland , PR8860 .C7 1886, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. You may also e-mail us at speccoll@gmu.edu or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have questions. Appointments are not necessary to request and view collections.