Wednesday, May 22, 2019

In Memoriam: President Emeritus William B. DeLauder

Delaware State University is grieved to announce the passing of Dr.William B. DeLauder, President Emeritus.  Dr. DeLauder served as the president of Delaware State College, later University, from 1987 until his retirement in 2003.

President DeLauder's tenure was marked by significant growth in every aspect of the campus community. This  included student enrollment, infrastructure, the addition of seven masters degree programs, fundraising, and the development of the Office of Sponsored Programs which set the university on the path towards becoming the research institution that it is today.

At the time of Dr. DeLauder's passing the archives was nearing the completion of the processing of his collection.  It is anticipated that the Office of the President - William B. DeLauder collection will be finalized and made publicly available by the end of the month.  Patrons can expect to find series related to correspondence, subjects, travel, reports and publications, meetings, and grant awards. This post will be updated when the finding aid is published online.

Please see the University's official statement: https://www.desu.edu/news/2019/05/campus-mourns-passing-former-president-william-delauder

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

MayDay! MayDay! Preservation tips for your personal records

Every May 1st the cultural heritage community (libraries, archives, and museums) evaluate their disaster plans and come together to advocate for the continued safety of our communities' valued collections.  MayDay! MayDay! Get it? Librarians have a very punny sense of humor.

In all seriousness, tragedies such as the recent fire at Notre Dame demonstrate that the unthinkable is possible.  I'd wager that the average French citizen in Paris on the morning of April 15, 2019 never dared to imagine that several hours later their nation's priceless artifacts would be threatened or lost. Although we walk through daily life without fear of disaster, threats may loom.  Even if a tragedy never strikes, it's important to be prepared. 

Toward that end, I hope that this MayDay you will take caution for your personal records and treasures. The following are some suggested steps that you can take to safeguard your papers. 
  1. If you do nothing else, remove your records from the attic or basement. These are the most hazardous places for paper materials. Records stored here are more likely to be damaged by pests or deteriorate due to significant fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Flooding or leaking roofs are also a factor. 
  2. Know where your irreplaceable records are and store them together.  In the event you have to leave your home quickly you will want personal records to be easily accessible and transportable. "Irreplaceable" documents include Passports, Social Security cards, birth certificates, deeds, insurance papers, etc.  This is in contrast to sentimental records which evoke strong emotions and have personal meaning. If you have "go-box" for records, don't weight it down with the sentimental records.
  3. Make copies and store them separately of the originals. If you have photographs or records that hold great meaning to you, consider making duplicates.  Don't store the originals and the copies together. Better yet, put geographical distance between them by sharing copies with family members.  This same principle applies to digital records.  Don't entrust all your records to one computer or external storage device.
  4. Keep records at least two (2) feet off the floor.  It is advisable to keep records out of flood-prone areas including anything lower that two feet off of a ground-floor. Four feet is better. 
  5. Label, label, label. Unfortunately, human memory is also fallible. I have innumerable photographs in the DSU archives that are unidentified and there are few people alive today who can recall the individuals or events depicted.  Although you think you know what's happening in a photograph today, tomorrow might be another story.  Preserve your personal and family history by labeling photographs and home videos. 
Hopefully these are steps that you can take today with little or no expense.  The purpose of MayDay is not to decry lack of funding or inhibitions to disaster preparedness. The purpose is to recognize that we all have steps that we can take to mitigate disaster to our treasures and ourselves. Look around.  What can you do to promote safety?

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Delaware State University Mace


The countdown to commencement is running with just ten days to go until we recognize the class of 2019. Also, shout out to the DSC class of 1969 who will be commemorating the 50 years since their graduation! 

At this moment the university is preparing the grounds, and we, the faculty, are pulling our regalia out of the closets. Among the heraldry being "spiffed up" is the university's academic mace (pictured above in 1986). 

The tradition of a ceremonial mace dates to the middle ages when the processional of a sovereign or high official would be marked by a proceeding mace-bearer. Today maces are most commonly seen in government and academic institutions.  The United States House of Representatives, for example, has a highly symbolic mace of 13 ebony rods held together by silver strands and is topped by a globus and eagle. 

Delaware State University's mace is simplistic in appearance but contains much symbolism.  It was designed and constructed in 1963 by John McCollough, an assistant professor of art education. It is reminiscent of traditional English ceremonial maces from the 14th century.  It is composted of a crowned globus to signify royal authority.  The mace is constructed from silver and wood from seven continents - ebony from Africa, lace wood from Australia, rosewood from Africa and India, mahogany from the Philippines, pear wood from Switzerland, lignum vitae from South American and walnut from North America.  The globus, or sphere represents the universe and the roles of art and science within it. The globus has a second meaning in that it is also meant to be symbolic of an atom.  The silver crown, shaped like a star at the top of the globus represents the increasing significance of the space and technology age (the mace was made in 1963 when NASA was only five years old). 

The mace was formerly carried by Dr. Ulyssess S. Washington who served as the university's grand marshal from 1953 until 2004. Thereafter, the title and the honor of bearing the mace was bestowed on Dr. Mable Renee Morrison, associate professor of music.  Dr. Morrison has been a highly respected faculty member for 57 years. On May 11, 2019 she will again lead the commencement processional just ahead of President Wilma Mishoe. 

Image result for Dr. Wilma mishoe investiture
President Wilma Mishoe holds the mace on the occasion of her investiture ceremony on December 8, 2018. 

The mace at the 1969 commencement. 
Congratulations to the class of 1969 on your golden anniversary. 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Happy National Library Week! April 7-13, 2019

Hello Friends! It's National Library Week! This year the American Library Association has chosen a theme of Libraries = Stronger Communities.  As ALA says, "Libraries are at the heart of our cities, towns, schools and campuses, providing critical resources, programs and expertise. They also provide a public space where all community members, regardless of age, culture or income level, can come together to connect and learn." Here at Delaware State University the William C. Jason Library is both the physical and intellectual intersection of campus. We are a link between science and art, social and academic, faculty and student, campus and community. We strive to serve all and we are proud to be your librarians.

In honor of Library week I thought we would take look at the history of the library and it's namesake:

The William C. Jason Library is named in honor of Delaware State University's longest serving president. President Jason's tenure, from 1895 to 1923, was punctuated by expansive growth of both the student body and campus infrastructure.  His achievement is fully appreciated with the recognition that, despite being a public school, financial support from Delaware State was initially insufficient.

In 1902 the Board of trustees approved President Jason's request to public ally raise $1,000 for campus improvements.  The president's fundraising efforts took the form of a speaking tour that resulted in 700 pledges largely received from the African American community.  While the pledges totaled $1,112, regrettably, only $533 was received.

The money was frugally applied to the construction of a chapel (left).  In lieu of hiring laborers, the professors of the industrial arts program developed courses around the chapel's construction. Additionally, bricks from the slave quarters of the Loockerman plantation were recycled to lessen the cost of materials.

By the 1920's the perpetual pattern of college-wide growth required the chapel to be converted into a library.  Further growth resulted in the construction of the current library in 1975 with an addition in 1991 (below). The early chapel structure, now known as the Thomasson Building, remains today and can be found at the end of the campus mall.
The expansion of the current William C. Jason Library in 1991. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

This month in History: March 1966 response to NAACP resolution

On February 23, 1966 the Delaware State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, issued a resolution stating "We contend that education provides the fundamental medium for the perpetuation of segregation and discrimination in our society. Delaware State College continues as this medium of injustice."  It accused DSC of "tokenisum" by virtue of the small number of white students. Furthermore, the resolution calls for the closure of Delaware State College in order to perpetuate the integration of University of Delaware which was begun in 1950.

The letter bearing the resolution was sent to DSC President Mishoe by Littleton P. Mitchell, President of the Delaware State Conference of NAACP.  Mitchell had been a member of the NAACP since he was thirteen.  In the 1930's he completed high school at Howard High and spent two years at West Chester University of Pennsylvania on an athletic scholarship. His collegiate education was cut short when he joined World War II as a flight instructor for the Tuskegee Airman.  I personally wonder how these experiences, attending a segregated high school and serving the US Army in a segregated unit, must have impacted him. Mitchell became a formidable force for the NAACP and served as a conference president for more than thirty years. Among his many accomplishments he successfully led the movement for the desegregation of Delaware hospitals.

In March of 1966, after receiving the NAACP resolution,  President Luna I. Mishoe was obviously dismayed with its message. He drafted a thirteen page special report to the Board of Trustees and painstakingly responded to every accusation Mitchell had publicly laid against Delaware State College.  His chief message was "From all evidence available to me, this College is at least 10% integrated and the chart is still moving upward.  This cannot be accurately called tokenism when most of this happened within the past THREE years...Our faculty is more than 30% integrated."

To me, what is interesting is that today's society commonly perceives the NAACP as fighting against white institutions that barred blacks. What this resolution reminds us is that the NAACP fought against all segregation. In fact, the NAACP resolution states, "It is our position that each of Delaware's institutions of higher learning is segregated...As a result, therefore, Negro and white students of both institutions continue to receive an inferior education." I don't wish to speak for Littleton Mitchell, but what I would like to think he was conveying is the idea that students of any race cannot learn from each other's experiences if they do not learn together. 



The NAACP resolution may be viewed in the Harriet R. Williams Collection; box 2; folder 5, part 2.  If you would like to study the current statistics on the make-up of the student body you may be interested in the Delaware State University Factbooks viewable at https://www.desu.edu/academics/academic-affairs/institutional-effectiveness/institutional-research-planning-analytics/fact-book

Monday, March 25, 2019

Department of Nursing Records Acquired

This month the archives acquired a substantial number of records from the nursing department. I am very pleased to say that this is a valuable and surprisingly complete acquisition. 

Up to this point in my tenure at DSU I have acquired the bulk of the archives' records from basements and abandoned closets.  Consequently, I am accustomed to working with collections that are frequently disjointed, have large gaps in data, lack provenance, or are disheveled to the point that they cannot be pieced together. I am pleased to say that in the case of the Department of Nursing records it was the quite the opposite! The records were shockingly well-ordered and made my job nearly effortless.

The nursing collection is complete in the sense that it contains a nursing degree program proposal from 1972 when the idea for a nursing course was first conceived. The development of the department through the 1970s may be clearly seen through written proposals, funding requests, and supporting documentation.  Additionally, patrons will be able to clearly trace the history of department through a large number of reports drafted for accrediting institutions and the Delaware Board of Nursing. All in all, while gaps do exist (primarily for the 1980s) they are not extensive.

I'd like to give a huge shout out to the Nursing Department for making this big step forward! The faculty and senior secretary deserve recognition for their clear appreciation for history.  Not only were the records well organized, but the department sought me out.  I did not have to cajole them into transferring records.  Rather, they were eager to contribute and recognized the benefits for all parties involved. Thank you Nursing Department!

Patrons may view the finding aid on the archive's LibGuide at https://desu.libguides.com/c.php?g=548691&p=3764808.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Delaware State College/University Yearbooks now being Digitized

Visit the digitized University Archives at: https://desu.dspacedirect.org/handle/20.500.12090/348
 I am excited to announce that the DSU archives has launched a new tool for sharing digitized content and making it just a little bit easier for long-distance patrons to access archival collections.  DSpace is a digital repository or what could be described as a virtual representation of the physical archives. Although it will take some time, the most prominent collections of the DSU archives will be digitized and made available online. 

Last month I conducted a survey of 50 constituents to learn how you, the users, might use the repository and to determine what content would be most valuable.  The overwhelming majority (90% of participants) specified that yearbooks would be the most useful collection.  As a result, I made the digitization of the yearbooks a top priority.  To date, the 1985-2007 yearbooks have been digitized and uploaded to the repository.  More are on the way! You can view them here.

Thank you to all who participated in the survey.  Please know that your input is valued and I will do my best to meet your requests.  If you didn't participate in the survey but would like to comment or offer suggestions you can do so in the comments below or email me at rscherry@desu.edu. Any feedback is welcome. 

Lastly, the archives has several gaps in the yearbook collection.  I would love to hear from you if you possess or have any information about the Statesman yearbooks listed below.  Even if you are not willing to be parted with your yearbook, would you consider loaning it so that may be digitized?
  • any Statesman made prior to 1960 except for 1947
  • 1962 Statesman
  • 1963 Statesman
  • 1964 Statesman
  • 1965 Statesman
  • 1977 Statesman
  • 1978 Statesman
  • 1984 Statesman

***3/18/2019 UPDATE: All of the yearbooks have now been digitized.  https://desu.dspacedirect.org/handle/20.500.12090/348