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 speccoll@gmu.edu 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.

Ok…So we found THIS during Rare Book Inventory.

Wie die Ostmark ihre Befreiung erlebte. Adolf Hitler und sein Weg zu Grossdeutschland, 1940. Book is in Special Collections Research Center, Rare Books, DB 96 .H63.

We are in the midst of doing an inventory or our rare books collection in SCRC. While working in the folio section, a colleague and I stumbled upon this disturbing yet intriguing volume.  Wie die Ostmark ihre Befreiung Erlebte: Adolf Hitler und sein Weg zu Grossdeutschland (How Austria Experienced its Liberation: Adolf Hitler and his Route to Greater Germany) tells the story of the early years of Adolph Hitler, Nazism, and the Third Reich.  This time period, from Hitler’s birth up to the Anschluss, or annexation of Austria in 1938, might be considered “the good years” for people sympathetic to the Nazis’ cause.  Luckily for the rest of the world, things went downhill for the Nazi’s in the years after that.


Title page to Wie die Ostmark ihre Befreiung erlebte. Adolf Hitler und sein Weg zu Grossdeutschland. This page, and others throughout the book appear to have been made to resemble woodcuts.



Published in 1940, Wie die Ostmark ihre Befreiung Erlebte has over 300 illustrations. The majority of them are small tipped-in reproductions of original black and white photographs, each 2 inches by 2.5 inches. This gives it the look of a sticker-collection book. The rest of the illustrations are larger printed photographs and drawings that resemble woodcuts.

The typeface used in Wie die Ostmark ihre Befreiung Erlebte is the old Fraktur, which originated in the 16th century. Ironically, one year later Hitler banned the use of this font (which was used in both this book and on the cover of Hitler’s earlier work, Mein Kampf) claiming it was a Jewish font  since it was often seen on Judaic printed materials.  

This page shows images of Hitler’s parents and boyhood home, as well as other buildings relevant to his young years.

While Wie die Ostmark ihre Befreiung Erlebte probably was intended to be a sort of celebratory “coffee table book” in 1940’s Germany, it now serves as a visible reminder of the dangers of allowing individuals with sinister motivations to attain positions of power.













Pages of Wie die Ostmark ihre Befreiung Erlebte use the Fraktur typeface. Fraktur was banned one year after the publication of this book.

Reorganizing the GMU Oral History Program Collection

This post was written by Emily Curley, our Oral History Program Coordinator.

The George Mason University Oral History Program has conducted over 200 interviews since 1999. Because we’re always adding to the collection, it’s time to reorganize the physical collection and the finding aid.

Oral History Collection, #R0122, in our closed stacks.

What we’ve done so far:

We’ve reorganized the physical collection. This included moving CD’s of oral history interviews into new boxes and arranging the individual interviews by date, rather than alphabetically. The collection increased from nine to eleven boxes and range from the late 1970’s to 2017. These histories cover a wide variety of topics including the history of George Mason University and Northern Virginia.

Our Next Steps:

  • Comparing the finding aid to the physical collection
  • Revising long abstracts and creating missing abstracts
  • Creating a new finding aid
  • Creating workflow for periodic updates of the Oral History finding aid

We will compare the finding aid to the physical collection and fill in any missing interviews. The finding aid was last updated in 2013, so there are over 50 oral histories that need to be added. After we have confirmed that all of the interviews are updated, we will check the finding aid once again and revise some of the abstracts. Some abstracts have too much information while others have too little. Our aim is to be as consistent as possible.

A box with an oral history pulled out to show what information goes on the labels.

After confirming that the abstracts are correct, I will be working with the Archives and Manuscript Librarian, Liz Beckman, to create a new finding aid, which is expected to go on our website sometime this summer.

Finally, I will create a guide for the next oral historian (who will start in September) so that they can periodically add new interviews and keep the finding aid up to date.


GMU Oral History Program


Finding Aid

Other Oral History Holdings


To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. Appointments are not necessary to request and view collections. Additionally, requests can be made to listen to oral histories in our Reading Room. Copies can also be made for a fee, which are listed on our website. Some oral histories may need to be converted to disk before they are available to patrons. For questions about oral histories, contact Emily Curley. To schedule an appointment or to request copies of an oral history, contact our Research Services Coordinator, Rebecca Bramlett.

“So, Success Attend St. Patrick’s Fist, For He’s a Saint So Clever”

For St. Patrick’s Day, we are featuring some books about the Emerald Isle!

This book includes many beautiful illustrations throughout. Some titles include “The Enchanted Lake”, “The Haunted Cellar”, and “The Legend of Knockfierna”.

Croker, Thomas Crofton, Irish Fairy Legends , DA990 .C8 1898, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

This book on the Aran Islands tells the tale of a man who stayed on the island. The three islands are located off of the western coast of Ireland. The writers poetic nature makes this book a satisfying read, full of details that make you feel you are actually there.

Synge, J.M., The Aran Islands , PR5533 .A417 1911, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

This is a folio sized book of over 600 pages, all decorated with a beautiful border, and contains footnotes and an index. It is surely a must read for anyone interested in or studying Irish history.

Mitchel, John, The History of Ireland , Folio DA910 .M145 1808, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

This last book, though we have many others in our collections, contains songs and their history. The title of this blog was taken from the song titled, “St. Patrick” in the page below in. Some other songs include, “The Shamrock”, “Whisky”, and a multitude of local songs.

Croker, Thomas Crofton, Popular Songs of Ireland , PR8860 .C7 1886, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. You may also e-mail us at speccoll@gmu.edu 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.


George Mason University Mentioned in the Film Hidden Figures

When was the last time you heard George Mason University mentioned in a major motion picture? For this author, never. But in the 2016 film Hidden Figures, which was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Picture, George Mason University found its way into the script during a memorable part of the film.  The reference to Mason was made by Janelle Monae in her portrayal of Mary Jackson, a NASA engineer and one of three African-American women who played key roles in the early development of the United States’ space program.

Janelle Monae as Mary Jackson in “Hidden Figures” Twentieth Century Fox Studios. Screenshot from video clip accessed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aiWlZJ6Pfg on 8 Mar 2016.

During the scene Mary Jackson is standing before a judge in a Hampton, Virginia courtroom to ask permission to attend night school classes in graduate-level math and physics sponsored by the University of Virginia and held in the then-whites-only Hampton High School.  When the judge informs her that segregation is the law in Virginia, and that an African American woman attending a white school is unheard of, Jackson pleads with him:

“Your Honor, you of all people should understand the importance of being first…You were the first in your family to serve in the  armed forces. U.S. Navy. The first to attend university.  George Mason… Your Honor, of all the cases you will hear today, which one will matter in a hundred years? Which one will you make the first?”

While the scene in the movie takes place sometime in 1961, as a later reference in the scene to Alan B. Shepard implies, we know that Mary Jackson actually attended the classes several years earlier and completed the program in 1958. A 1961 reference to George Mason University would have been a bit premature.  Mason was known as George Mason College (it became George Mason University in April of 1972), was a two-year community college, and had only been in operation for four years by 1961. So, it is highly unlikely that this jurist would have just finished his work at George Mason and became a high-ranking judge.

Nevertheless, it was gratifying to see that the writers of the film chose George Mason as the institution for the judge to have attended. This might spur some interesting reference inquiries in the future!