Digitized negatives from the Broadside photograph collection now available!

Archives Assistant Ignacio Bracamonte reflects on the Broadside scanning project and picks an image to share from the recently digitized, and now available online, box 7.

I was very excited to start this new project that Special Collections & Archives offered last semester. It has been over six months since my co-worker Liz and I started with the digitization of Broadside’s collection of photographs. I personally believe that working here, has involved me into George Mason more than ever. I am exposed to hundreds of images every day, where I witness the university’s development, history, important events, and even everyday life photos that were taken by students like me; the members of Broadside, George Mason’s student newspaper.

While  working at Special Collections & Archives, I have familiarized myself with many of Mason’s personalities and it is very easy for me to recognize them throughout the images: the faculty and staff members, the students, and the members of different organizations. After a while, you get a sense of affection to these personages and you can’t wait to know what happens next.

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Rubenstein, Michele J. Opening of North Campus Broadside Office 5. October 14, 1973. George Mason University Broadside photograph collection, Collection #R0135, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.

This is one of my favorite photographs, where Jay Caine, director of Broadside, is inaugurating the newspaper’s North Campus office. Next to his colleagues, Jay Caine is about to cut the ribbon and establish a new office for George Mason’s student newspaper. This is a very symbolic image because it represents the beginning of Broadside. Even though the photograph was taken on October 14th of 1973, the newspaper endures and remains apart of the student experience at George Mason today.

Ignacio is currently scanning negatives from the Broadside photograph collection. The first box (box 7 in the collection) of over 900 digitized images are now available online. For more on the history of the student newspaper at Mason see the student newspaper exhibit blog post or visit the exhibit on the second floor of Fenwick Library until late April 2014.

Mary E. Fox photograph collection

In honor of Women’s History Month I thought it would be appropriate to share a collection of photographs taken by, and mostly of, women from the 1940s. The Mary Elsie Fox photograph collection documents Fox’s, and her friends’, personal lives in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. during the 1940s, at a time when she was working at the newly opened Pentagon. The collection consists of 423 photographs and one document from a discarded photo album that was found by George Mason University staff and was donated to the University Special Collections and Archives in 2006. The images in the collection date from 1935 to 1959. The entire collection has been scanned and is available as a digital collection.

Screenshot from the Mary Elsie Fox digital collection.

Screenshot from the Mary Elsie Fox digital collection.

The Fox collection is an excellent example of vernacular photography. It was created for personal use and with no artistic aspirations. In many of the photographs Fox and her friends are featured socializing and posing in or near Washington D.C.. Some of the images were also taken in Norway and other geographic locations in the United States and Europe that Fox herself may not have visited since she is not as visible in these photographs. As a collection, some of the images could have been taken by Fox, though it is difficult to know for certain, but all of them were collected, stored, and used by her. Many of the images are identified by writing on their verso indicating dates, names, and places, but there are also many that are not identified in any way. Some of the handwriting differs indicating that Fox was not the only one writing descriptions and that she may have received photographs from friends as gifts. These photographs serve as evidence of average people who chose to photograph themselves for their own enjoyment, posterity, and memory. Today they exist removed from their original function and may provide useful information for researchers about how people lived and recorded their existence at a certain time and place in history.

Screenshot of the Mary E. Fox photograph collection on Tumblr

Screenshot of the Mary E. Fox photograph collection on Tumblr.

Last fall, for the course HIST 696: Clio Wired: An Introduction to History and New Media at George Mason University, I created a digital project on Tumblr using photographs from the Fox collection. This site breaks down the photographs by dates into piles that can be shuffled through. Click on the image above to visit the site.

Student newspaper exhibit now on view!

advertSpecial Collections & Archives is happy to announce a new exhibit is on display in Fenwick Library featuring materials from the University Archives. The exhibit is divided into two parts: What’s in a Name? and Broadside Images in Context. This exhibit draws on materials from the George Mason University Broadside photograph collection and issues of The Gunston Ledger, Broadside, and Fourth Estate student newspapers.

What’s in a Name? explores the history of the student newspaper at Mason from 1963 to the present by focusing on the name changes of the paper. The newspaper that represents the student voice at Mason has always picked its name carefully. It has changed names three times: The Gunston Ledger (1963-1969), Broadside (1969-2013), and Fourth Estate (2013-present). The second part of the exhibit investigates the Broadside student newspaper in detail, looking at photographs taken by Broadside staff. Thanks to a donation from the Office of Student Media of thousands of negatives taken by Broadside photographers, Special Collections & Archives now has a vast pool of images that accompany our collection of student newspapers. Displaying both the newspapers and the photographs provides a deeper look into how the Mason student body has changed over time.

This exhibit was inspired by the recent donation of negatives by Broadside photographers from the Office of Student Media and looks in equal measure to the future as to the past. The changes undergone in the format and scope of the student newspaper since 1963 are only glimpsed at in this exhibit, but hopefully it demonstrates how important the student newspaper is as an historical source. Today there are many changes happening in publishing as society transitions to digital media from the printed word. With the recent name change from Broadside to Fourth Estate I was curious what previous Fourth Estate editor Colleen Wilson had to say about the future of the student newspaper. She provided this quote for the exhibit:

“A college newspaper has a unique monopoly on their market, and in turn, a unique challenge. Especially in the internet age, content must be highly engaging and modern while still addressing critical issues. By drawing inspiration from publications like Buzzfeed to use gifs and videos along with traditional text to tell important stories about the Board of Visitors or Mason parking, Fourth Estate can stay relevant and interesting to a very distracted community of readers. Innovation, both in content, platform and execution is key to a successful model for Fourth Estate.”

What’s in a Name? and Broadside Photographs in Context will be on view in Fenwick Library (Wing A and C on the second floor) until April.

 

Scenes from Behind the Wall: Images of East Germany, 1989-1990

In late December 1989 two young men, Page Chichester and Helmut Brinkmann, were drinking and watching a soccer match on television in the city of Bonn in what was then called West Germany.  Brinkmann suddenly suggested that they tour East Germany, beginning the next day.  The two stayed up all night planning their hastily-conceived trip.  At Noon on December 29th the two took off in a Volkswagen van carrying cameras, film, and very few provisions.

Photographers Page Chichester (left) and Helmut Brinkmann (right) at the Berlin Wall during their eight-day trip to East Germany. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries, speccoll@gmu.edu.

Photographers Page Chichester (left) and Helmut Brinkmann (right) at the Berlin Wall during their eight-day trip to East Germany. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries, speccoll@gmu.edu.

Just about a month earlier the Berlin Wall, the main symbol of the division of the two Germanys had begun to fall.  Ironically, this event came just a few short months after the German Democratic Republic celebrated its fortieth anniversary as a communist state.  The festivities included a guest appearance by none other than the leader of the communist world himself, Mikhail Gorbechev.  By late December, however, curious people began to move cautiously between the two countries, being extremely careful not to arouse the suspicion of the Stasi, the State Security Police of the crumbling, but still-functioning GDR.

A Stasi guard poses for a photo in Dresden. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries, speccoll@gmu.edu.

A Stasi guard poses for a photo in Dresden. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries, speccoll@gmu.edu.

Chichester and Brinkmann spent eight days touring East Germany.  The two visited Erfurt, Jena, Dresden, Leipzig, Bitterfeld, Connewitz, Berlin, and other surrounding locales before returning west to Bonn on January 5, 1990.  Speaking to people and photographing the architecture, industry, transportation, and people of the east, they got a first-hand look at the conditions in that part of the Iron Curtain in the period between the fall of the Wall and reunification in October 1990.

A young boy plays in the rubble of a demolished housing project in Connewitz. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections & Archives,  George Mason University Libraries, speccoll@gmu.edu.

A young boy plays in the rubble of a demolished housing project in Connewitz. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries, speccoll@gmu.edu.

The “Scenes from Behind the Wall: Images of East Germany, 1989/90″ exhibit collection contains 53 framed photographs and supporting documentation for the exhibit “Scenes from Behind the Wall: Images of East Germany, 1989/90″ that traveled throughout Virginia as part of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Statewide Exhibition Program from 1995 through 2009.  The finding aid for this collection can be accessed here.   A digitized collection of the images can be found at this link.