Holiday Break

An update on our holiday hours:

The Special Collections Research Center will be closed Thursday, December 22nd through Wednesday, January 4th, 2017 for the semester break. The Special Collections Research Center will open again on Thursday, January 5th at 10:00 am. Emails sent over the holiday break will not receive a reply until Thursday, January 5th, 2017, at the earliest.

Between January 5, 2017 and the start of the Spring semester on January 23, 2017, our hours will be 10:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. You can find our regular hours on our homepage.

We wish everyone a very happy holiday!

-The SCRC Staff

Human Rights: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

As part of Human Rights week, SCRC is sharing some items from a few of our collections that relate to either the protection of human rights or a neglect for them. The first is a report on the Virginia Council on Human Rights, which was established on August 7, 1987. The goal of the council included protecting individuals from unlawful discrimination. This report is part of the Emilie F. Miller collection which covers a vast array of topics relating to politics within Virginia. She was local activist and supporter of equal rights for women.

"Virginia Council on Human Rights." Emilie F. Miller collection, Collection # C0048, Box 07, Folder 60, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

“Virginia Council on Human Rights.” Emilie F. Miller collection, Collection # C0048, Box 07, Folder 60, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

The second item comes from the French Communist Poster collection. The poster advocates for amnesty for the political prisoners and exiles of Spain. Though it did not gain enough support to win a presidential election, the PCF supported the workers and farmers of France and fought for more social welfare programs, like higher minimum wages, better retirement conditions, better working conditions, and equal pay and also sought female support by celebrating women’s issues and equal rights.

French Communist Party poster collection #C0168, MC folder 2, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

French Communist Party poster collection #C0168, MC folder 2, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

The last item is from the East German Poster political series collection. This poster is undated but references events of 1939. The quote is taken from a Bertolt Brecht poem about the “house-painter” and who made promises of “great times to come.” Brecht went into exile at the onset of the Second World War and is famous for many of his plays.

"Aus dem Reich kommen wenig Nachrichten",East German poster collection # C0169, AE-1825, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

“Aus dem Reich kommen wenig Nachrichten”,East German poster collection # C0169, AE-1825, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

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 view collections.

Robert Clark papers and the Process of Processing

Robert (Bob) Clark was born in May 1922 in Omaha, Nebraska. He received a B.S. and M.A. while studying journalism and politics. He went on to become a Washington and White House correspondent for ABC News throughout the 1950’s and 1970’s, but continued to work for ABC until the 1990’s. Most notably, he covered and witnessed the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. Later in his life, around the 1990’s, he was a guest commentator on C-SPAN. Bob Clark passed away in December 2015.

I have been fortunate enough to process this collection in its entirety. This is something I have wanted to do for a little while now. I am currently the Research Services Assistant, which means my main tasks are to assist researchers and answer questions they have along with updating our social media sites. This role is a graduate student position here at GMU and I have worked here since August of 2015. I have been lucky enough to pick up other tasks within my position, and processing is just one of those things that I have wanted to learn more about. Since this was a small donation, it was a great collection to start with. The donors, Douglas and Sandy First, were neighbors of Robert Clark and had organized his papers into five boxes which were then given to us. My first step was to re-folder all of the papers. Some were already in folders but many papers were placed in the boxes. I took papers out of old folders and placed them into new, acid-free folders. Other papers had to be organized into smaller sections based on the subject. There ended up being so many added folders that I had to add another box.

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Empty boxes that the Robert Clark papers were in when they were donated.

Once all of the papers were in new folders, I arranged them into Hollinger boxes. Most of the documents were already organized by subject. We typically keep all papers and materials in the same order they were donated in, if we can, so that SCRC staff and researchers can better understand the context and intent of the donor or author.

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Folders from all six boxes were then reorganized into these nineteen Hollinger boxes.

All folders have the collection title, “Robert Clark”, on the top left side. The middle of the folder is left for a brief title which explains the content, date, and sometimes the sort of materials that are in each folder. The right side always lists the box number followed by the folder number. In the image below, the folder says 8.1, meaning box 8, folder 1. This makes it easy for researchers to view our finding aid and know where to look for information and which boxes to request. It also helps keep everything in order. At this point, I had a pretty good idea of the contents of these boxes. I knew that I wanted to organize them into six series: JFK assassination, Politics, Foreign relations, Domestic issues, Personal files, and ABC files. But first, an inventory had to be made.

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The boxes are then organized into series by subject. Folders are labeled with the collection name, a description of what the folder contains, and a number which lists the box and folder.

An inventory is the first step to creating a finding aid which will later be uploaded to the website for people to search. The only information required for this step is box and folder number, title, and date of materials in each folder.

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All of the information is placed into Excel to create an inventory of the materials to eventually be used for making the Finding Aid.

We currently use Archivists’ Toolkit for our collections. After the boxes are organized and the Excel inventory was created, I filled in the necessary information such as the description and container summary. I listed the six series that I thought best organized the collection and I added notes about copyright, restrictions, the donation and other details that go on our finding aids. Once that is completed, I hit the “Export EAD” button, which saves the file so it can be opened in Notetab and coded for our website. When all the coding is done, an html file is created and is made available to the public.

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Archivists’ Toolkit file for Robert Clark

The final step was to print out labels, place them on the boxes, and shelve them in our stacks with the other collections. Now the Robert Clark papers collection can be searched online, used for research, or used by SCRC staff for social media posts!

Putting labels on the new boxes before shelving.

Putting labels on the new boxes before shelving.

 

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 view collections.

Archives in [or about] Space!

In October 2016, the SCRC brought in an exciting new collection from former NASA employee Martin Sedlazek.  Sedlazek, who trained as an electrical engineer, worked for NASA in numerous capacities from the early 1960s until he retired in 1995. He collected material from the various projects he worked on, including some of the most storied efforts of the agency, such as the Apollo Program and early space station initiatives.

Apollo Configuration Management Manual, Martin Sedlazek NASA Collection, C0293, Box 6, Folder 9, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Apollo Configuration Management Manual, Martin Sedlazek NASA Collection, C0293, Box 6, Folder 9, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Researchers who use the collection can follow a particularly fascinating period in the genesis of the International Space Station dating as far back as 1969.  There is a great deal of space station related material that dates from 1984, when President Ronald Reagan “declared GO for [the] ISS [International Space Station] program”[1] The early development of the space shuttle, which allowed multi-use vehicles to take humans into space, is also well documented in reports from the early 1970s.  In an era when the United States is once again looking to take a major leap ahead through human travel to Mars in the coming decades, it is fascinating to look back and see how far we have come and what has been discussed in the last 40 years.

Special collections and archives are not the sole domain of history and English departments – while we have much to offer these disciplines, we have resources (and hope to collect more) to offer science and technology students and researchers as well.  The Harold Morowitz collection, for example, contains the papers of prominent biophysicist and Mason professor Harold Morowitz, including correspondence from James Watson, co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA.  Morowitz also corresponded and worked with astrophysicist Carl Sagan, the original host of the television program Cosmos. Stay tuned for more about our collections that are connected to STEM fields. In the meantime, we encourage students and faculty, particularly from the Volgenau School of Engineering and other related programs, to peruse the Sedlazek NASA collection’s finding aid at http://sca.gmu.edu/finding_aids/sedlazek.html, and to come check it out in person!

[1] Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, “History of the ISS project,” Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, last modified May 29, 1993, http://iss.jaxa.jp/iss/history/index_e.html.