Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Archives Increases Discoverabliity

Hi Friends!

Until recently, the DSU archive suffered a lack of discoverability. The problem stemmed from the absence of any mention of the archives on the University website.  This past spring, however, the university overhauled its entire web presence including the WC Jason library landing page. As a result, the archives now has a place of prominence squarely in the center of the library's page under the heading of "Library Resources." By following the link provided thereunder, patrons are directed to the archive's very own LibGuide:
The Archive's LibGuide page.  From here patrons can access finding aids, look up archival terminology, and seek answers to commonly asked questions.
After this very exciting development, I spent a good portion of the summer working to improve the archive's previously hidden LibGuide.  More specifically, I elected to begin by overhauling the collection descriptions and revamping the linked finding aids. The process is slow-going because the work requires not just redrafting the text within the finding aid itself, but verifying or else correcting the physical arrangement of the collections described.

This is a significant challenge because as time has passed and  the collections grew quickly, the finding aids took a form more similar to an inventory and did not have the requisite scope and content, biography note, colophon and so on.This may sound like a heinous act, but believe me! Just when I thought I'd finished updating a collection, it seemed practically guaranteed that someone would approach the archives with an accession undoubtedly containing more records for the collection at hand.  This happened time and time again with the Board of Trustee records (hence the 1.5 years it took to process it) as you read last month.  You can see how it might be extremely frustrating. By the time I finished, it was time to start all over again!

NEVERTHELESS, I have begun to rectify the situation. Continuing into the new semester, I am striving to update the finding aids.  New and improved finding aids are being regularly added swing by the LibGuide often.  If there's a particular collection you want to see updated, let me know! I'll make it a priority.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Dr. Reba Hollingsworth

Delaware State University recently honored Dr. Reba Ellen Ross Hollingsworth, an alumna of both the laboratory high school and the State College for Colored Students. Dr. Reba is one of the most amazing women I know! I appreciate her most for the indelible wisdom that has informed both my personal and professional life.   During my first-ever meeting with her I immediately had the odd sensation that she was someone I did not want to disappoint.  I knew that she would expect me to use my God-given talents to the fullest and brook no excuses if I did not.

Dr. Reba is a friend to the archives and believes in the importance of understanding the history that shapes the university today and appreciating the hard work of those who came before us. Take a look at the video above and see for yourself.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Board of Trustees Records Now Fully Processed

Good news! I'm happy to announce the completion of one of my most significant projects to date. After a year and half, Board of Trustees records are now available for research!
Only a small number of the plastic bins containing Board
records that were accessioned and transferred to the archives. 

Oh so long ago, the Board records arrived at my office in more then 230 plastic bins and jumbled up with records of other university administrative offices.  I began the daunting process of separating out the records that pertained only to the Board.  Several months elapsed before even this "baby" step was completed. Finally, at the end of one year, I thought that I had finished processing the collection into neatly arranged archival boxes only to realize the infamous fourth floor closet of the Claibourne Smith Administrative Building was devoted almost entirely to Board records. Oh the horror! Imagine my disappointment when dismantling the beautifully arranged boxes to make way for such a significant accrual.Working slowly over time, it took me from January 2017 until now to organize the additional materials, weed out the duplicated items, and fill the gaps in the collection.

It seems my work was completed just in the nick of time! Or maybe it was right on schedule.  Last week I received a reference request from one of the Faculty chairs for Board materials.  Having a well organized collection enabled me to quickly and definitively conduct the requested research.

This morning I completed the final step by uploading the finding aid to the archive's online LibGuide page. I think a finished finding aid is one of the most beautiful and rewarding sights! Take a look and see for yourself: http://desu.libguides.com/ld.php?content_id=34342922 

What's next you ask? Well, there are still 68 plastic boxes left to process. And after that there are oodles of records transferred from the Jenkins dorm basement. And after that there are still records in the admin building. And after that...it never ends. Any volunteers? 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Looking for Library Director

Hello Friends! The William C. Jason Library is currently seeking a Director of Library Services.  Could that be you? Do you know someone prepared for this exciting challenge?

The university is searching for someone who will "promote a vision that combines the traditional role of the academic library with the increasing presence of information technologies in a dynamic environment.  The Director will plan and manage all aspects of library operations: budget, personnel, services, program planning, development and assessment, facilities and equipment."

To learn more please review the job vacancy announcement. http://chk.tbe.taleo.net/chk01/ats/careers/requisition.jsp?org=DESU&cws=1&rid=2313

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Archives in the Classroom

Today the archives played host to Project Success students as they embarked on a scavenger hunt through the William C. Jason Library.  In addition to exploring the computer labs and second floor services, the students were challenged to locate the archives department and identify two collections maintained by the archives. At the end of the hunt, it is hoped that the students learned to navigate the library and have a better understanding of library and tutoring services.

Faculty, if I may, allow me to encourage you to build an archives orientation into your coursework. Obviously as an archivist I am biased, but I think we can all agree that the ability to navigate and conduct original research is a cornerstone of collegiate education. I am more than happy to invite your class into the archives or else visit your classroom to give an archives orientation.  The white-glove environment is often intimidating to first time researchers when it should be more like an adventure.  If given the opportunity, I can allay these fears and give student scholars the ability to tackle original research in the university archives or any other archival repository.

As you begin to play for the next academic year, please don't hesitate to let me know how I can assist your class. Whether it's a freshmen seminar, historic methods or any other subject, I'm happy to help. Reach me at rscherry@desu.edu or 302-857-6130.

Friday, June 2, 2017

University History Through the Lens of a Secretary

Candies circa 1980 anyone? How about stenographer foot pedals or maybe an electronic address book?

We often know from our personal spaces that we put off picking up stuff until a week or more later and often only when it has become out of hand.  In a university setting "putting it off"can mean ignoring the problem area for the next decade. In the meantime, people retire and before we know it, procrastination has caused the task to be totally forgotten - as was the case when we discovered a hidden records room last summer.

This summer I'm working in a records room that wasn't totally abandoned because it continues to be accessed regularly.  However, much like my pile of mail at home, the stuff on the bottom gets ignored.  I have come to learn that this is the making of an archivist's worst nightmare or an early Christmas and sometimes it's both.

The nightmare exists in the fact that just about every university secretary ever has left behind personal artifacts that make this task about cleaning and not preserving. On the other hand, the "forgotten" nature of the room means that rewards await at the bottom of the pile. Intertwined with handwritten secretarial notes and miscellaneous purchase forms are historic admissions brochures, student handbooks, course catalogs, board of trustee minutes, presidential travel logs, and so much more. 

I am discovering a new-found appreciation for the work of secretaries. While they are not traditionally active participants in the university's decision making processes, I am finding that their presence on the fringes makes them possessors of a information-rich documents. Not only this, but the "original order" and organization they imposed on the records makes my job easier.

As I dive into the chaos, it is my hope that new discoveries are ahead.  I hope that the archives will greatly benefit from new materials and the points of view that accompany them.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Shooting for the Moon: Dr. Luna Mishoe's Quiet Past

Dr. Mishoe's very name, Luna, has taken on a new, apropos meaning in light of facts that have recently surfaced regarding his accomplishments prior to his presidency at Delaware State College.

Evidently and unbeknownst to even his family, Dr. Mishoe was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen who served in the 99th Air Force squadron. His rank was that of 1st Lieutenant and his role was photographic intelligence and communications from 1942 until 1945.

Shortly after the war, we knew that Dr. Mishoe was hired as a mathematics and physics professor at DSC from 1946 until 1948. Thereafter he departed to join the Faculty of Morgan University, earn a doctorate from New York University, and conduct research at Oxford University. What was lesser known, however,was that Dr. Mishoe conducted research at the Aberdeen Proving Ground Ballistics Research Laboratory during summer recesses from Morgan between 1952 until 1957 and as a research consultant from 1957 until 1960. Dr. Mishoe contributed mathematical equations for missile launches and satellites.

Late last week I was processing a collection of press releases dated between 1955 and 1975 and came across this release affirming Dr. Mishoe's involvement in the early space program: "Dr. Luna I. Mishoe, President, Delaware State College has accepted an invitation from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Sunday January 31, at the John. F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida, for the Apollo 14 launching." 

To read more about Dr. Mishoe, view the university's official press release: https://www.desu.edu/news/2016/12/dr-luna-mishoe-honored-original-tuskegee-airmen 

To learn about the Aberdeen Proving Ground check out Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aberdeen_Proving_Ground 

written by Joy Scherry