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.


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


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.

Rare Book Conservation

George Mason University Libraries’ Special Collections & Archives (SC&A) was the proud recipient in December 2012 of an NEH Preservation Assistance grant.  Grant activities included working with a preservation consultant to assess preservation of collections here, creating a preservation plan, and prioritizing preservation actions.  We identified one important priority as working with a conservator to repair damaged rare books.  Conservation for rare books in SC&A now occurs routinely to make damaged books usable again. In the case of the 1820 Richmond imprint of the Proceedings and Debates of the Virginia State Convention of 1829-1830, our copy had a mutilated spine and the entire cover was separated from the text block as you see in the “before” photographs below. Conservation, using reversible materials and professional techniques, has resulted in a new spine created from compatibly colored and very strong Japanese paper. Meanwhile, the torn joints have been repaired, also using Japanese paper colored to match the beautiful original marbled end sheets.


Image of “Proceedings and Debates of the Virginia State Convention of 1829-1830” before conservation.


Image of “Proceedings and Debates of the Virginia State Convention of 1829-1830” after conservation.

Another, more modern book, the 1925 publication, The Building of Satellite Towns, had torn hinges. The conservator was able to save part of the original spine this time by adhering it to the spine replacement. The torn joints were repaired by replacing the old end sheets with compatibly colored, but new, acid-free end sheets. Note that the conservator saved the book seller’s stamp in the lower right hand corner of the pastedown. Working with conservators to repair books in Special Collections & Archives is part of our role as good stewards of these valuable research collections.


Image on the left shows spine damage on “The Building of Satellite Towns.” The image on the right shows the inside cover after conservation.


“The Building of Satellite Towns” spine after conservation.