Robinson Professor Dr. Thelma Z. Lavine – Making philosophy relevant

LavineTapes

Audio cassette recordings of philosophy lectures from the Thelma Z. Lavine papers in SC&A.

“Thelma wants to save the state,” reads a line from a humorous poem written by an unidentified schoolmate of future Robinson Professor Dr. Thelma Z. Lavine. Although the poem was written during Lavine’s college days, the words were surprisingly predictive.

Dr. Lavine did indeed work to “save the state.” She spent her career tirelessly helping students, politicians, and the general public think more cogently about philosophy and its relevance to social issues. In the early 1980s, Dr. Lavine developed a thirty-part television series, “From Socrates to Sartre,” which was broadcast first by Maryland Public Television and then nationally. The success of the series lay in Dr. Lavine’s ability to transform the often complex problems of philosophy into concepts accessible to everyday viewers. Hundreds of fan letters, now housed in the SC&A archives, attest to Dr. Lavine’s ability to communicate with people from highly varied backgrounds. She used her lecture series as the basis for her book, From Socrates to Sartre. Published in 1985, the mass market paperback is in its eighth printing today.

Throughout her life, Dr. Lavine was known for her energetic teaching style and dynamic persona. Dr. Lavine ended her professorial career at GMU, retiring in 1998, although she continued to remain in contact with the greater philosophical community.

SC&A recently processed a collection of materials generously donated to SC&A by Dr. Lavine’s estate. The collection includes correspondence, research, and writing, as well as over 300 audio cassettes. The collection is available for study in SC&A. Click here for a link to the finding aid.

The Thelma Z. Lavine papers were recently processed by Blyth McManus and Rachel Moran. Blog post by Blyth McManus.

Set models in the Federal Theatre Project personal papers

Leve_CherokeeNights

Set model by Samuel Leve for the production Cherokee Nights. The Federal Theatre Project personal papers, Box 28, Collection #C0227, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.

There are a number of recent additions to the FTP personal papers collection. The number of boxes in the collection has gone from 9 to 29 since the finding aid was originally created in October 2012. This is mainly due to a processing decision that instead of processing each collection individually we would put them all together in one larger collection. The finding aid lists the materials alphabetically by donor.

These are fun collections to look through because they contain personal items that shed light on individual experiences. Some of my favorite items from this collection include hand drawn and colored costume designs by Rhoda Rammelkamp Bolton, original poster mock ups by Anthony Velonis, and set designs by Sam Leve.

In addition to Federal Theatre Project materials, this collection also has some non-Federal Theatre Project play related documents. Images below are of a set model for the play Hand in Glove by C.K. Freeman and G. Savory. Sam Leve created the scenic design for the December 1944 to January 1945 production that opened first at the Playhouse Theatre and then continued at the Forrest Theatre both in New York City. This model is interesting because the set consists of two main scenes, an outside and an inside view of a house, that can swivel around allowing for quick transitions.

IMAG0719

Set model by Sam Leve for the December 1944 to January 1945 production of Hand in Glove. This image shows the set with the back of the house visible. The Federal Theatre Project personal papers, Box 29, Collection #C0227, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.

IMAG0720

Set model by Sam Leve for the December 1944 to January 1945 production of Hand in Glove. This image shows the set with the inside of the house visible. The Federal Theatre Project personal papers, Box 29, Collection #C0227, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.

IMAG0721

Set model by Sam Leve for the December 1944 to January 1945 production of Hand in Glove. This image shows the set from above. The Federal Theatre Project personal papers, Box 29, Collection #C0227, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.

Center for the Study of Constitutional Rights

-Michelle Page

The Center for the Study of Constitutional Rights was established in 1981 as part of the Project for the Study of Human Rights at George Mason University.  The Center examined the formation of the Bill of Rights and the ways that landmark document was influenced by George Mason of Gunston Hall.  It also coordinated an annual lecture series known as “The Legacy of George Mason,” and published these lectures through the George Mason University Press.  The lectures focused largely on the histories of states and countries that established bills of rights as well as the effects of the First Amendment.

Over the summer I had the opportunity to process records from the Center for the Study of Constitutional Rights.  These records date back from the time the Center was established in 1981 all the way to 1992.  Material in this collection includes videotapes from “The Legacy of George Mason” lecture series, photographs, address lists, audience survey forms, bibliography of human rights, organizational bill of rights, documents on advisory committees as well as a number of associations and institutional societies.  It also contains records pertaining to correspondence, grants proposals, budgets, and conferences, among other things.

While processing this collection I came across a folder containing hand drawn portraits of Supreme Court Justices Hugo Black and Felix Frankfurter from 1982.   Both these portraits were done by Oscar Berger and were provided to the Center for the Study of Constitutional Rights by The National Portrait Gallery.

R0135B07P022

Autographed sketch, drawn from life of Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black. Center for the Study of Constitutional Rights records, Box 19, Folder 5. Copyright not held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections and Archives, speccoll@gmu.edu.

R0135B07P023

Autographed sketch, drawn from life of Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. Center for the Study of Constitutional Rights records, Box 19, Folder 5. Copyright not held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections and Archives, speccoll@gmu.edu.

In addition to the above portraits I came across this photo, given to the Center by the Library of Congress, that is visually appealing and captures a piece of history.

R0135B07P021

Center for the Study of Constitutional Rights records, Collection #R0007, Box 19, Folder 11, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.

These are photos taken during the Center’s “Legacy of George Mason” lecture series in 1982 and 1983.

R0135B07P024

Photograph taken during a “Legacy of George Mason” lecture series in 1982. Center for the Study of Constitutional Rights records, Collection #R0007, Box 19, Folder 19, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.

R0135B07P025

Photograph taken during a “Legacy of George Mason” lecture series in 1983. Center for the Study of Constitutional Rights records, Collection #R0007, Box 19, Folder 20, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.

 

R0135B07P026

Photograph taken during a “Legacy of George Mason” lecture series in 1983. Center for the Study of Constitutional Rights records, Collection #R0007, Box 19, Folder 21, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.

 *Ms. Page is an archival student assistant at Special Collections & Archives and working towards her MS in Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area finding aid updated

The League of Women Voters (LWV) was founded in 1920 by Carrie Chapman Catt, a leader in the women’s suffragist movement. Its purpose is to encourage citizens to participate actively in government by supporting the party of their choice. While the LWV is a nonpartisan organization, and therefore does not support individual candidates, it does take a position on issues of a national, state, and local scale selected by the membership. In the past the LWV has garnered support for such issues as minimum wage laws, child labor laws, and equal opportunity for women in government.

I recently had the opportunity to update the finding aid for the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax area with new accessions from 2012 and 2013. Within these new accessions I noticed a folder for the Observer Corps with materials dating from 1970 to 1980. Inside the folder is an Observer’s Manual from the League of Women Voters of Michigan. I was instantly interested. What is the Observer Corps, I wondered. The graphic on the manual is of a young woman peeking from behind a notebook.

Observer’s Manual, League of Women Voters of Michigan, December 1970. League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area records, Collection #C0031, Box 72, Folder 2. Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.

Apparently members of the Observer Corps go to meetings of interest, observe the proceedings, and report back to the League through a short report that is featured in a bulletin. A position description from 1980 specifies qualifications such as: “1. Interest in government and desire to learn. 2. Ability to keep eyes and ears open and mouth shut. 3. Reliability.” According to issues of the Fairfax Voter from 2010 and 2012 it seems that the Fairfax league has restarted their Observer Corps and is looking for interested individuals.