Travel Series: The Americas

This post was written by Tiffany Kajer Wright. “I am a grad student in the English department’s Professional Writing and Rhetoric program. If I’m not cooking, I’m probably watching a historical documentary on Netflix. I also love traveling with my husband – I’ve been to 19 countries and counting. I’m brand new to the SCRC, but I look forward to contributing more blogs in the future!”

This post is the first in a series of blogs coordinated with our Around the World in (Almost) 80 Days exhibit. We’re highlighting some of our collections and books that focus on travel and can be accessed here at the Special Collections Research Center. In this article, we’re taking a look at North and South America.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see far-flung parts of the world? Two of our collections can take you virtually anywhere. The first is the extensive Edith McChesney Ker collection of slides, scrapbooks, and other documents covering her global adventures. The second is the largely insect-focused Kjell Sandved collection, of Butterfly Alphabet fame. Both photographers are notable for capturing animal and plant life, as well as striking landscapes.

Reviewing these collections can bring the distant and exotic corners of the planet a little closer to home. This is especially true for areas of the world that are difficult to access, such as Easter Island or Angel Falls. Other places, like the Galapagos Islands or Nova Scotia, have well-traveled routes but are no less fascinating. We’ll begin this week’s journey with Easter Island.

“Easter Island-Ahu Nau Nau”, Edith McChesney Ker papers, #C0077, Box 12, Page 28, Image 4, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

The six stand in silent judgement, backs to the ocean. Their eyes are gone, but most still have their topknots. One is missing his head, and only the base remains for another. They are the Anakena Moai of Rapa Nui – Easter Island, to those outside of the South Pacific. Since 1888, it’s been a territory of Chile, and the mystery surrounding the immense statues has attracted travelers since the island was discovered. More than 800 Moai can be found on the island today, and most are easily accessible to the 80,000 tourists that stop by every year.

 

“Waterfalls: Amgel Falls World’s Highest Venezuela,” in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Box 4, Page 24, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Water tumbles over the edge of a cliff nearly three-quarters of a mile high, often shrouded by clouds. Toward the bottom, the water dissipates into a fine mist before converging into the Rio Kerepacupai Meru. This is Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world, and it sits deep in the Venezuelan jungle. Named after American pilot Jimmie Angel, the first to fly over it in 1933, the falls draw visitors from all over the world each year.

“Fernandina Marine Iguanas and Bluefoots”, Edith McChesney Ker papers, #C0077, Box 13, Page 06, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

Home to some of the most specialized wildlife in the world, the Galapagos Islands have been the location for numerous scientific surveys for centuries. When a young geologist called Charles Darwin visited in 1835, he was so inspired by the variations of birds and other animals that he wrote On the Origin of Species. Scientists and researchers continue to visit this volcanic archipelago to better understand our planet’s history and evolution. Ecuador governs the islands today and has declared them a national park, drawing over 220,000 tourists per year.

 

“Peggy’s Cover Near Halifax Nova Scotia” in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Box 4, Page 22, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Nova Scotia is a breathtaking province, with Bay of Fundy and its extreme tides on one side and the battering North Atlantic on the other. Fishermen have done very well in this part of Canada for centuries, though not without cost. More than 5,000 shipwrecks are documented in the region. Despite this historical precedent, well over 2 million tourists visit Nova Scotia each year, with the percentage of Americans steadily increasing.

Sources:

Easter Island History

Island Heritage

Easter Island Tourism

Angel Falls History

Galapagos History

Galapagos Tourism

Nova Scotia History

Nova Scotia Tourism

Our exhibition will be up until mid-August. Stop by anytime to view our materials on display. 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.

Celebrating 95 Years of the League of Women Voters

lwvfa

Special Collections & Archives is happy to announce a new exhibition in Fenwick Library’s lobby: Celebrating 95 Years of the League of Women Voters. Also coinciding with Women’s History month, this exhibition features items from the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area collection. The collection includes bulletins, pamphlets, meeting minutes, correspondence, photographs, and ephemera. More information about the collection is accessible via the finding aid.

The League of Women Voters was founded in 1920 by Carrie Chapman Catt, a leader in the women’s suffragist movement.  Maude Wood Park, another devoted suffragist, became the League’s first president.  The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization, which encourages citizens to participate actively in government by supporting the party of their choice.  It does not support individual candidates, but it does take a position on issues of a local, state, and national scale selected by the membership. The League of Women Voters has taken a particular interest in equal opportunity for women in government, child labor laws, fair housing, and affordable health care.

In Virginia, the League of Women Voters began as the Equal Suffrage League, which worked diligently for the ratification of the nineteenth amendment. The Equal Suffrage League joined the national League of Women Voters, creating a state league. The first local League in Virginia was established in Richmond, followed by chapters in Alexandria and Arlington.

The Fairfax County League was granted full League status in 1948.  To indicate that the members belong to more than one governmental jurisdiction, in 1964 the Fairfax County League became the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area.

Please visit Fenwick Library to view the exhibit through the month of March.

Voices from the FTP – a new exhibit from SC&A

We have recently installed an exhibit outside of SC&A in Fenwick Library focusing on the Federal Theatre Project titled “Voices from the FTP”. This exhibit takes the individual personal papers we have from FTP participants and integrates their story into the larger context of this government sponsored program. These may not be the most well known FTP participants but their stories are equally as interesting. Hopefully the exhibit will spark an interest in the people, productions, and experiences that transpired because of the Federal Theatre during the Great Depression across the United States.

The following blog post breaks down each of the four cases in the exhibit. Case 1 features the papers of Kate Lawson and serves as an introduction to the FTP. Case 2 focuses on the marionette units of the FTP and uses material from the Molka Reich papers and the Ralph Chessé papers. Case 3 briefly tells the story of Eda Edson and her vaudeville success Follow the Parade. Finally case 4 looks at the theme of controversy and the FTP and features Arnold Sundgaard’s play Spirochete as an example of some of the serious issues the FTP was exploring through the venue of live theater.

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On Exhibit: The 1960s

The 1960s is regarded as one of the most turbulent times in recent history. SC&A has a new exhibit that highlights elements of the dramatic changes that took place during this decade using materials from the collections. The exhibit is divided into three parts: Popular Literature, American Life, and Politics and the Cold War. There is a physical exhibit located outside the department in Fenwick Library in addition to the online version we created using Omeka software. The primary collections featured in the exhibit include: The Francis McNamara Papers, the Rare Book Collection, American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Records, the James McDonnell Transportation Collection, and the Oliver Atkins Photograph Collection.

The online exhibit can be found here: http://bit.ly/9xwTvL

On Display: Ah, Wilderness!

SC&A has put together an exhibit of materials from various productions of Eugene O’Neill’s only comedy Ah, Wilderness! On display in the A wing of Fenwick Library are photographs, playbills, scripts, production and technical notes, and other materials from Arena Stage, the Federal Theatre Project of the 1930s, and Studio Theatre productions.  The materials are part of the Theatre and Performing Arts Collections held in SC&A. The exhibit was inspired by the GMU Players and their current production of Ah, Wilderness!, directed by Howard Kurtz. The show runs through November 1st.

Image from the 1978 Arena Stage Production

Image from the 1978 Arena Stage Production

Act II, Scene I: Back room of a bar in a small hotel

Set from 1938 FTP Production in Los Angeles.  Act II, Scene I: Back room of a bar in a small hotel

Script from the 1978 Arena Stage Production with notes from director Edward Cornell

Script from the 1978 Arena Stage Production with notes from director Edward Cornell