New Interns in SCRC!

The Special Collections Research Center has had many student wage employees over the years.  Undergraduate and graduate student assistants are invaluable to our archival processing and digitization projects, research services, and oral history program.  Students have also been part of our records management team.  It is safe to say that SCRC wouldn’t function the same way without them!

However, as critical as student workers are for SCRC, it’s not all about what our students can do for us.  As a special collections unit at an educational institution, a major part of our mission is to train and teach the students who work here.  Generally, SCRC has employed paid student workers, but internships for academic credit are even more focused on education than student wage jobs.  As Lisa M. Sjoberg from Concordia College notes, “the goal of internships is to create a learning-centered experience for students to engage in an authentic environment that couples theory and practice.”1  In support of this goal, SCRC is thrilled to announce a new internship program that will provide undergraduate students with course credit and with targeted education in specific areas of special collections work.

SCRC Processing Intern Zac Greenfield at work on the Vincent Callahan Collection.

To kick off our new internship initiative, two history undergraduate interns are working in SCRC for the Summer 2017 semester.  Zac Greenfield and Bill Keeler began their special collections journeys with a scavenger hunt in our closed stacks on their first day, and they have each taken to their respective projects with great enthusiasm.   Zac’s primary focus is on archival processing, and he is currently arranging and describing material collected by Vincent Callahan, a Northern Virginia politician.  Bill, meanwhile, is working in research services and is helping Research Services Coordinator Rebecca Bramlett develop primary source literacy curriculum.  Stay tuned throughout the summer, as we’ll be posting updates on Zac and Bill’s work, as well as information about future internships in SCRC for credit during the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 semesters.

1. Lisa M. Sjoberg, “Internships and High-Impact Learning in Archives,” in Management: Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections, ed. Kate Theimer (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2014), 29-30.

Summer Hours

The Special Collections Research Center’s Summer Hours will begin this Wednesday, May 17th. During the summer, the Special Collections Research Center will be open Monday through Friday from 10 am to 4:30 pm. For questions or general inquiries, please contact

We hope you enjoy your summer!


(1980s) Two Kappa Sigma fraternity members lying on the sand, next to a boom box and keg lying on top of a small hill, holding beers, from the GMU Broadsides Collection, R0135, Box 20, page 51, number 10

New Rare Books in the Spotlight

Example of four flap enclosures for rare books and pamphlets.

For a brief period Wednesday, normal activity came to a halt in the Special Collections Research Center. Our fabulous Cataloging & Metadata Librarian, Friedgard Cowan, brought down a cart packed with recently cataloged rare books from Technical Services. When a rare book is donated or acquired, it is first cataloged in Technical Services, so that it will be accessible to researchers through our online Catalog. After it’s cataloged, the rare books are brought to the Research Services Coordinator in the Special Collections Research Center, so that we may assess any preservation needs it may have before shelving it in the stacks. Books in more fragile condition require an enclosure, like a phase box or four flap folder, before being able to be shelf-ready. Once it is determined that the book is “shelf-ready,” it is shelved in our closed stacks–ready to be pulled for the researchers who need it!

Seeing the “new to us” rare books is always exciting. So here, making their Special Collections Research Center debut:

First, an addition to our Decorated Bindings Collection! Elizabethan Songs “In Honour of Love and Beautie” Collected and Illustrated by Edmund H. Garrett, published in 1891.

Elizabethan Songs “In Honour of Love and Beautie” Collected and Illustrated by Edmund H. Garrett, published in 1891, PR 1207 .G3 1891

Elizabethan Songs “In Honour of Love and Beautie” Collected and Illustrated by Edmund H. Garrett, published in 1891, PR 1207 .G3 1891

In fact, music seems to be the theme of these recently cataloged books. From 1935, we have a first edition vocal score, “Songs from Top Hat,” with words and music by Irving Berlin. Songs included in this piano-vocal score include classics like, “Cheek to Cheek,” “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails,” and “No Strings (I’m Fancy Free).”

Songs from “Top Hat”, Lyrics and Music by Irving Berlin, published 1935, M 1508 .B465 T66 1935

Finally, an early musical manuscript: plainsong!

Can you see the grotesque face in the initial below?

Vellum Manuscript Leaf from a Choir Book in Latin, produced in the late 15th/early 16th century in Italy, M2147 XVI .M4

Special Collections Research Center’s Manuscripts and Archives Librarian, Liz Beckman, admiring the vellum manuscript leaf: Vellum Manuscript Leaf from a Choir Book in Latin, produced in the late 15th/early 16th century in Italy, M2147 XVI .M4

You can find these items and many more in our rare books collection. To search the rare books collection for interesting items from our collection, search the Mason Catalog, click on “Set Limit” and limit by the location “Fenwick Special Collections.”

E-mail us at or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have any questions. Appointments are not necessary to view collections.

Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month!

Here in the Special Collections Research Center, we are honoring Women’s History Month by highlighting the collections and ephemera that document women’s contributions to American history.

Below, we have a pamphlet from the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia, dated from 1910. Here the authors connect a women’s work in the home with the broader work of cleaning up society.

Ephemera from the Rare Book Collection,”Women in the Home,” by Susan W. Fitzgerald, JK1896 .F58 1910

From the Massachusetts Woman’s Suffrage Association is the follow pamphlet, documenting the states where women had the right to vote, or a partial right to vote.

Map of United States Showing Progress of Equal Suffrage, 1915, JK1896 .M36 1915

As of 1915, women were legally allowed to vote in only a few states. The 19th Amendment would not ratified until 192o, which gave women the right to vote nationally.

Equal rights for women would remain an issue in politics even after the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Founded in 1920, the League of Women Voters is a non-partisan advocacy organization dedicated to informed and active participation in government and works to increase understanding of public policy issues.

In the Special Collections Research Center, we have the records of the League of Women Voters Fairfax, C0031. This collection contains multiple documents that outline the 1970s battle over the Equal Rights Amendment, never ratified.

Poster outlining “ERA Month,” and the importance of the Equal Rights Amendment, League of Women Voters Fairfax Collection C0031, Box 11, Folder 4, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries

In the above outline, for “ERA Month”, the authors assure its reader that “The ERA will not take women out of the home, require them to take jobs or to contribute half the financial support of their family. Rather, it would recognize for the first time the role and the contribution to the support of the family that the homemaker makes.”

To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. For rare books, search the library catalog, limiting your search to Fenwick Special Collections.

You may also e-mail us at 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.

The Swing Mikado: Gilbert and Sullivan Reinvented in 1938

Cast photo of Swing Mikado, Chicago, 1938. Federal Theatre Project photographs #C0205 Box 46, Folder 17

Here in the Special Collections Research Center, we are gearing up for #GandS2017 – our celebration of all things Gilbert and Sullivan, culminating in the opening of an exhibit of materials from the David and Annabelle Stone Gilbert and Sullivan Collection.

One of Gilbert and Sullivan’s popular comic operas is The Mikado; or, The Town of Titpu. It opened on March 14, 1885 and ran for 672 performances as a production of the famous D’Oyly Carte Opera Company.

The Mikado remains popular, and in the years since it opened, has been updated and re-imagined. In 1938, The Swing Mikado premiered in Chicago as a production of the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Theatre Project. The production was conceived and directed by Harry Minturn, with swing re-orchestrations of Sullivan’s music by Gentry Warden. First staged by an all-black company in Chicago, it became a huge hit with audiences black and white alike. It also featured a live swing orchestra. The show was later produced on Broadway to similar acclaim.

Cast photo of Swing Mikado, Chicago, 1938. Federal Theatre Project photographs #C0205 Box 46, Folder 17

The Federal Theatre Project itself was a New Deal program to fund live artistic programs during the Great Depression, one of numerous relief measures to employ artists, writers and theatre workers.