Wading into Broadside’s Snapshots of the Smoky ’70s

This post was written by Greg Campbell, a former newspaper journalist and GAO analysts. He is nearing completion of a master’s degree in history with a focus on military history and the western United States at George Mason University. He is rounding out his skills as a historian through work at the Special Collections Research Center. Greg joined SCRC in March and has been working on digitizing images from our Broadside Photograph collection.

One of the striking things captured in the Broadside photo collection is that there used to be whole lot of smoking going on around here. In the 1970s, before second-hand smoke was harmful, photos of meetings sometimes show an ashtray in the center of the table and lots of people lighting up indoors. Striking, too, is a cigarette brand’s sponsorship of a women’s tennis tournament on campus. As the ad slogan said, we really have come a long way, baby.  The photo collection also includes a couple shots of tennis champion Billie Jean King practicing at GMU; she is a subject of the new movie, “Battle of the Sexes.”

The era of ashtrays on the table and indoor smoking. George Mason University Broadside photograph collection, R0135, Box 29, Page 19, Image 06, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

In addition to capturing evidence of the unlamented demise of gargantuan lapels and ties three times the current width, the photos show a variety of ancient technologies. For example, a Broadside photographer shot students, one smoking, playing the new computer game Pong, which was encased in a massive cabinet befitting such a wondrous miracle of modern technology.  Other shots show a story being written on an IBM Selectric typewriter for the campus newspaper, and class registration being carried out via the exchange of paperwork. No fun there.

A miracle of modern technology–the computer game Pong hits campus. George Mason University Broadside photograph collection, R0135, Box 29, Page 03, Image 06, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

The technology that produced the photo images is also a throwback to a different time—the laborious pre-digital photography era. The photo process used to go something like this for student photographers:  Buy 50 feet of black-and-white Tri-X film. Place it (in total darkness) in a bulk loader. Load each roll of film. Trim with scissors. Shoot the film, hoping you’d hit the right exposure and shutter speed. Develop the film by (in total darkness) cracking open each roll of film and winding it onto a stainless steel reel. Place that in a stainless steel canister with a lid. Add chemicals. Agitate at timed intervals. Dry the negatives. Cut up the negatives into groups of five and insert them in plastic sleeves. Print a contact sheet of positive images. Study with a magnifying loupe.  Pick an image. Place the negative in an enlarger. Pluck out photo paper (in total darkness) and place it in an enlarger.  Project the image on paper, sometimes dodging and burning to lighten or darken the image. Put photo paper in developing solution for a timed bath and then in fixing solution. Dry the print, and voila! The raw material has been produced for another multi-step process leading to publication.

A man playing the guitar and harmonica. George Mason University Broadside photograph collection, R0135, Box 29, Page 30, Image 33, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

The Special Collections Research Center is digitizing what are mostly masses of black and white negatives held in plastic sleeves in three-ring clamshell albums.  These include what were essentially the outtakes of the photographers’ efforts—the shots that never made it into the newspaper. For some of the students, it is clear the learning experience is underway.  There are some technical hiccups in the body of work—things a student photographer might not know until that moment of truth came in the darkroom. Others clearly had a photographer’s eye combined with technical skills and produced some excellent photos. All of them provide a snapshot of the past.

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.

Charles Magnus, Patriotic Civil War Propaganda Printmaker

This post was written by Leanne Fortney, who began working with us in March as a Graduate Student Assistant within Research Services. Her main responsibilities are safeguarding our materials and assisting patrons with their research needs. She is a mother of two working on her MA in Art History with an interest in U.S. modern art between World War I and World War II. 

Northern Virginia Civil War images, #C0150 folder 2, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

In the United States, the Civil War created such a great demand for patriotic propaganda. Printmakers, such as Charles Magnus, produced over a thousand illustrations within the course of the war. This entire Northern Virginia Civil War images collection consists of nearly 200 images on various historical subjects in a variety of formats, including wood engravings, steel engravings, lithographs, chromolithographs, maps, and manuscripts from three periodicals: The Illustrated London News, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, and Harper’s Weekly. Most of the images depict battles and maps of the Civil War. The maps include the cities of Arlington and Alexandria and the counties of Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William. Columbia Pike, Chain Bridge, Long Bridge, the Little River Turnpike, Centreville and Manassas all existed at the time of the Civil War and all of them are represented or referenced in these images.

Northern Virginia Civil War images, #C0150 folder 2, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Magnus’s Civil War illustrations depicted scenes of civil war camps, battles, and portraits of military officials, but he specialized primarily in decorative patriotic stationary such as cards and envelopes. Although pictorial images comprise the majority of the collection, there are also numerous maps, most of which were produced by lithography. A number were produced for military purposes and employed by both the North and South alike. Maps made during the Civil War were often exceedingly accurate; their usefulness carried on into the twentieth century. Magnus’s lithograph series entitled, “Bird’s Eye View of Alexandria, Va”, are illustrated on well-preserved envelopes that are no larger than 3 inches by 5 inches and include a few that are hand colored! In 1798, German inventor, Alois Senefelder, created an innovated and revolutionary printmaking process that is now known as lithography. Lithography allows for artists to produce an unlimited set of images. This enabled Magnus to keep up with the high demands for his patriotic illustrations.

Illustrations like these have been created and used by the public to highlight news events, political satire, coverage of wars, marriages, and even celebrity (like Kings, Queens, Popes, etc.) outings. The practice of creating woodblock prints has been around since at least 220 C.E. with the Han Dynasty. Eventually, through the use of removable type and the invention of the printing press, artists were able to distribute their images over an even larger population.

Northern Virginia Civil War images, #C0150 folder 2, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Northern Virginia Civil War images, #C0150 folder 2, 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 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.

George Mason University’s Earliest Video Footage, Part 2

This post is Part 2 of 2 parts. Part 1 can be read here.

George Mason College, Fairfax Campus, ca. 1965. Photograph is from the George Mason University Photograph Collection.

 

 

Fairfax, Virginia George Mason College’s New Home in 1964

Once moved from its original location in Bailey’s Crossroads, George Mason College would now operate out of it’s new quarters in Fairfax.

The first four buildings were quite spartan in design, appearance, amenities (with the exception of the air conditioning), and name.  Each would have two levels and a basement which doubled as a fallout shelter.  The exteriors were to be of red brick with white vinyl-coated concrete columns.  The buildings would hold a total of four lecture rooms, four labs, half a dozen classrooms, administrative and faculty offices, library, bookstore, dining, and locker rooms for physical education.  Their names would be taken from the points of the compass: North, South, East, and West.

As completion of the campus at Fairfax approached excitement began to grow.  College functions once taking place in and around Bailey’s Crossroads shifted to its new adopted home in Fairfax. Instead of the Alexandria Episcopal Seminary, the 1964 Final Day Exercises took place in the Fairfax Town Hall on June 8.  New college director Robert Reid, who assumed the directorship from the retiring John Finley on January 1, 1964, brought groups both large and small by the construction site for tours. One such group, the Fairfax City Chamber of Commerce, presented Reid and the college with the Chamber’s first ever honorary membership during the last week of July.  (The Virginian, Friday July 31, 1964).

The Collage at Fairfax officially opened on Monday, September 14 to 356 registered students.  The original faculty consisted of 7 full and 18 part-time instructors. Though the weather on that day was a pleasant seventy-five degrees, Mason’s new director, Dr. Robert Reid, could not help but point out to the Fairfax Times that Mason was the only College in the Washington area that was fully air conditioned (Fairfax Times, Friday 9/18/64, p.13).  Perhaps the most sorely missed amenities were food service and a lounge for the students and faculty.  During the first week vending machines were hastily set up in a study hall.  Mason would later set up an actual dining hall, the Ordinary, in the South Building. The Ordinary would remain there until Student Union I was built in 1974.

Though the university has added about 450 acres and over 100 buildings to the Fairfax campus, the original four still stand and are still in use today.

The Video

The original 16 mm film was approximately 12 minutes long, and unlike that of the move from Bailey’s Crossroads,  contained audio.  In this film George Mason College Director, Robert Reid, gives the above mentioned tour of the nearly-finished campus to the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce during the last week of April 1964. He is presented with an honorary membership by members of the Chamber, and later an announcer interviews tour group members,  including Dr. Reid.

Some Still Images from the Video

Still image from the film showing members of the tour group enter the East Building during the July 1964 tour. In the background are the South (today known as Krug) Building at left, the Quadrangle. and the West Building at upper right.

Student members of the tour group gather in the lobby of the North Building (now known as Finley) in this still image from the film.

Director, Robert H. Reid (at right in dark suit) receives an honorary membership in the Greater Fairfax Chamber of Commerce from Chamber representative, Robert Parcels (at left). Still image from the film.

Tour group continues down the walkway past the West Building (at right) into the breezeway of the South (now known as Krug) Building. Still image from the film.

Director Reid is interviewed by an announcer simply known as "Ed". Still image from the film.

Segments from the Video

Please click here to view a 59-second segment from the tour portion of the  video.

Please click here to view a 1-minute 55-second segment from the interview portion of the  video.


George Mason University’s Earliest Video Footage, Part 1

George Mason College Bailey's Crossroads Campus 1964 from the south

George Mason College Bailey's Crossroads Campus, 1964. Photograph is from the Richard M. Sparks Photograph Collection.


This post is Part 1 of 2 parts. Part 2 can be read here.

Bailey’s Crossroads, George Mason’s First Campus

During the summer of 1957 University of Virginia President Colgate W. Darden announced the University’s temporary leasing of an old elementary school building at Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia.  This building  would house the newly created University College of the University of Virginia until a permanent location could be chosen and suitable facilities constructed. In early August of 1957 the Bailey’s Crossroads location was occupied, and classes began on September 23 with an initial enrollment of 17. With John Norville Gibson Finley as Director, Bailey’s served as the home of the college, later renamed George Mason College in January 1960, until August 1964.

The former Bailey’s Crossroads Elementary School located at 5836 Columbia Pike was a well-used eight-room elementary school constructed in 1922 of red brick. In 1955, a new, larger elementary school was constructed nearby, and “Old Bailey’s” was abandoned. The lower level had four classrooms – two were used as science labs, and the other two as lecture rooms by the school’s new tenant. On the upper level, three rooms comprised the library. The last served as an additional lecture room. The library was staffed by librarians from the local public library who worked there after-hours, and former occupants of Bailey’s have characterized the building’s climate control as “hot in the summer and cold in the winter.”

Space for other collegiate pursuits was always at a premium. Bailey’s lacked a room that could house more than 30 persons comfortably.  As a result college functions, such as assemblies, meetings, dances, and Final Day Exercises (graduation) were held at locations nearby, such as the Bailey’s Crossroads Fire Department , the Alexandria Episcopal Seminary, and local hotels and churches.  Athletic events, which were never more than a pick-up or faculty vs. student game, took place either on the dirt field adjacent to the building which doubled as overflow parking or on the fields of local schools, such as Glen Forest Elementary School, which was located one-half mile to the north.

In August 1964, Mason’s new campus at Fairfax was nearing completion.  Local mover Craig Van Lines of Oakton was hired to move furniture, scientific equipment, books, and other materials from the Bailey’s Crossroads building to the new Fairfax campus on August 23-24. The building would never be occupied again and was finally demolished in 1970.

Former Bailey's Crossroads Campus building, 1968. Photo is from the George Mason University Photograph Collection http://sca.gmu.edu/finding_aids/gmuphotos.html

Former Bailey's Crossroads Campus building, 1968. Photograph is from the George Mason University Photograph Collection.

 

The Films

In 2003 a 16mm film in our holdings labeled “Dedication Film – November 1964” along with  another entitled “Moving Out of Bailey’s Crossroads” were taken to a northern Virginia vendor to be cleaned and have their contents transferred to digital files. When we received the digital recordings, we discovered that the recording from the “Dedication Film” can was not the Fairfax Campus dedication of November 12, 1964.  It actually was a 12-minute video of  a tour of the nearly-completed Fairfax campus given by Director of  George Mason College, Robert H. Reid earlier in July 1964.  This film will be detailed in Part Two of this post.  The “Moving Out of Baileys Crossroads”  film yielded 4 minutes of footage from the late-August packing and moving from the Bailey’s campus.  Stills and a short segment from this film can be seen below.

Flim cannister containing 16mm film shot in 1964

Film canister which contained 16mm film of George Mason College, Bailey's Crossroads Campus shot in 1964. Canister is mis-labeled "Dedication Film - November, 1964." It actually contained footage from a tour of the nearly completed Fairfax campus. Photograph by the author.

 

 


Some Still Images from the Video

Bailey's Campus with moving trucks

Bailey's Crossroads building with moving vans, August 1964. Still image from the film.

Moving out the chemistry lab, Bailey's, August 1964.

Packing instruments in the the chemistry lab, Bailey's, August 1964. At left is chemistry professor, Dr. Hyman Feinstein. Still image from the film.

Packing books from basement storage. August 1964.

Packing books from the library's basement storage, August 1964. Still image from the film.

Preparing to move "George Mason College" sign.

Preparing to move the "George Mason College" sign, August 1964. Still image from the film.

Craig Movers van leaves Bailey's building and heads toward Va. Route 7.

Craig Movers van leaves Bailey's building and heads toward Va. Route 7. August 1964. Still image from the film.

 

Segment from the Video

Please click here to view a 54-second segment from the video.

Part 2 of this post will deal with the content from the other film, the one incorrectly identified as “Dedication Film.”