Archives in [or about] Space!

In October 2016, the SCRC brought in an exciting new collection from former NASA employee Martin Sedlazek.  Sedlazek, who trained as an electrical engineer, worked for NASA in numerous capacities from the early 1960s until he retired in 1995. He collected material from the various projects he worked on, including some of the most storied efforts of the agency, such as the Apollo Program and early space station initiatives.

Apollo Configuration Management Manual, Martin Sedlazek NASA Collection, C0293, Box 6, Folder 9, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Apollo Configuration Management Manual, Martin Sedlazek NASA Collection, C0293, Box 6, Folder 9, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Researchers who use the collection can follow a particularly fascinating period in the genesis of the International Space Station dating as far back as 1969.  There is a great deal of space station related material that dates from 1984, when President Ronald Reagan “declared GO for [the] ISS [International Space Station] program”[1] The early development of the space shuttle, which allowed multi-use vehicles to take humans into space, is also well documented in reports from the early 1970s.  In an era when the United States is once again looking to take a major leap ahead through human travel to Mars in the coming decades, it is fascinating to look back and see how far we have come and what has been discussed in the last 40 years.

Special collections and archives are not the sole domain of history and English departments – while we have much to offer these disciplines, we have resources (and hope to collect more) to offer science and technology students and researchers as well.  The Harold Morowitz collection, for example, contains the papers of prominent biophysicist and Mason professor Harold Morowitz, including correspondence from James Watson, co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA.  Morowitz also corresponded and worked with astrophysicist Carl Sagan, the original host of the television program Cosmos. Stay tuned for more about our collections that are connected to STEM fields. In the meantime, we encourage students and faculty, particularly from the Volgenau School of Engineering and other related programs, to peruse the Sedlazek NASA collection’s finding aid at http://sca.gmu.edu/finding_aids/sedlazek.html, and to come check it out in person!

[1] Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, “History of the ISS project,” Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, last modified May 29, 1993, http://iss.jaxa.jp/iss/history/index_e.html.

Thanksgiving Holiday

An update on our holiday hours:

The Special Collections Research Center will be closed Wednesday, November 23rd through Sunday, November 27th for the Thanksgiving holiday. The Special Collections Research Center will open again on Monday, November 28th at 10:00 am.

You can find our regular Fall semester hours on our homepage.

We wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving!

-The SCRC Staff

 

 

Vietnam Moratorium “Scroll” Documents George Mason College Community’s Activism

Student representative from the George Mason College Vietnam War Moratorium Committee presents Chancellor Lorin A. Thompson with petition asking college administration to excuse members of the campus community from classes on October 15, 1969. From The Gunston Ledger, Volume 7, Number 4. October 14, 1969.

Student representative from the George Mason College Vietnam War Moratorium Committee presents Chancellor Lorin A. Thompson with a petition asking college administration to excuse members of the campus community from classes on October 15, 1969. From The Gunston Ledger, Volume 7, Number 4. October 14, 1969.

On October 10, 1969 a neatly dressed George Mason College student presented Chancellor Lorin A. Thompson with a loosely-rolled scroll of paper containing the signatures of over 600 Mason students, faculty, and staff. The document petitioned Thompson to excuse students, faculty, staff and administration from classes and college business on October 15 so that they might have the opportunity to take part in local events pertaining to the Vietnam War Moratorium.  The Moratorium was a day-long series of events held in municipalities and on college campuses across the United States and the world to call attention to, and protest the United States’ involvement in, the Vietnam War. Thompson, photographed while receiving the petition, displayed a less-than-enthusiastic reaction to the document both in his facial expressions and in his words. He insisted that the college’s obligations to the state and its citizens mandated that it remain open, and students, instructors, and staff must be present on that day. He left the matter of attending the Moratorium activities up to the individual, who would be responsible for any consequences for missing class or work.

Vietnam War Moratorium petition photographed while taped to the wall of an unidentified George Mason College building. From The Gunston Ledger, Volume 7, Number 4. October 14, 1969.

Vietnam War Moratorium Petition photographed while taped to the wall of an unidentified George Mason College building. From The Gunston Ledger, Volume 7, Number 4. October 14, 1969.

George Mason College was not known for news-making protests or acts of civil disobedience during the Vietnam War era. Nearly all 1,890 George Mason students lived at home in their quiet suburban neighborhoods, most of them hailing from families with military or civil service backgrounds. Though students spoke their mind about the war regularly in the student newspaper, The Gunston Ledger, there had only been a handful of isolated incidences of antiwar activities at Mason. These were limited to symbolic draft card burnings and teach-ins, involving a few Mason students and faculty. The Vietnam War Moratorium movement of October 1969 marked a high point in activism at George Mason College. Just under one-third of the entire student body, faculty, and staff played a part in this movement-even if it was as small as putting a name to a piece of paper.

Box containing Moratorium Petition. From the George Mason University Office of the President records, 1949-2004 #R0019.

Box containing Vietnam War Moratorium Petition. From the George Mason University Office of the President records, 1949-2004 #R0019.

While working in our collections storage area in SCRC, the author came across a map storage box with a label reading: “Petition (Anti-Vietnam War) 1969”.  It was opened, and the 12-foot-by-16-inch manuscript was carefully unrolled for a few photographs before gently re-boxing it. The document still bears the masking tape that was used to attach it to a wall of one of the six campus buildings that comprised George Mason College in 1969.  Attached to the bottom of the document is a memorandum of October 3, 1969 from Mike Baker, the president of the Student Government, acknowledging that the body had voted 8 to 3 to endorse the Vietnam Moratorium. Student, faculty, and staff signatures grace the manuscript, which, when unrolled, bears a slight resemblance to the scroll containing Jack Kerouac’s original manuscript to On the Road.

The Vietnam Moratorium Scroll opened up in the SCRC collections storage area. The document is over 12 feet long. From the George Mason University Office of the President records, 1949-2004 #R0019.

The Vietnam Moratorium Petition opened up in the SCRC collections storage area. The document is over 12 feet long. From the George Mason University Office of the President records, 1949-2004 #R0019.

Moratorium Petition. From the George Mason University Office of the President records, 1949-2004 #R0019.

Top part of the Moratorium Petition. From the George Mason University Office of the President records, 1949-2004 #R0019.

It appears that this document itself played a relatively minor role in the larger Moratorium movement, judging by the small amount of newspaper space (a few sentences in two small articles) dedicated to it. The Moratorium events and corresponding editorial commentary received major coverage in the student paper for weeks afterwards.  But the scroll has survived as an artifact to help tell the story of this brief moment in the institution’s history, and it enables us to take a little trip into the past and understand what was important those who were here nearly 50 years ago.  Discoveries like this one help illustrate the value of archives and the archives professionals who preserve them.

The document is part of George Mason University Office of the President records, 1949-2004 #R0019.

New Exhibit in SCRC! Celebrating “Nobelity”: Thirty Years Later

 

Dr. James Buchanan is seen here at a reception given in his honor at George Mason University. George Mason University photograph collection Box 16, Folder 6.

Dr. James Buchanan is seen here at a reception
given in his honor at George Mason University.
George Mason University photograph collection
Box 16, Folder 6.

Celebrating “Nobelity”: Thirty Years Later

On the morning of October 16, 1986 Dr. James M. Buchanan received a phone call from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences informing him that he had been selected as the winner of the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

It had been nearly fifty years since he had begun his academic career as a student at a small college in Tennessee, and now, a faculty member at George Mason University, Buchanan had been selected for the most prestigious award given to a scholar.

Some years after being awarded the Nobel Prize, Dr. Buchanan shared his thoughts on the award in an essay entitled “Notes on Nobelity”. The essay became a chapter in his 1992 autobiography, Better than Plowing. A man who came from a humble background, Buchanan felt slightly uncomfortable with the status conferred upon him by this honor.  He believed that he was not an elite academic, and he found it gratifying that he was put in a position to represent the “outsider” and “great unwashed scattered throughout the academic boondocks”.[1]

This exhibition, Celebrating “Nobelity”: Thirty Years Later,  features materials from various collections as part of the George Mason University Archives.  Materials also come from the newly-acquired James M. Buchanan Papers.  It traces the life and work of one of George Mason University’s most renowned scholars, Dr. James M. Buchanan. The exhibition can be viewed in the SCRC Exhibitions area and runs through December.

[1] James M. Buchanan, Better than Plowing (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).

 

 

 

SCRC Open House

Special Collections Research Center will be having an open house on September 7, 2016, 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM and September 8, 2016, 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM. Faculty, staff, students, alumni, and members of the public are all invited to stop by and learn about our collections, how you can use our materials, and how to search finding aids. A number of our materials will be placed in our seminar room for individuals to view. There will also be light refreshments.

 

For questions, please contact speccoll@gmu.edu or visit our website, sca.gmu.edu.