Monday, May 21, 2018

Laws Hall Time Capsule

Big Day, Today! A small gathering of administrators and contractors met this morning to remove a time capsule from the cornerstone of Laws Hall.  After resting behind the wall for 56, the contents were finally revealed.

It was  tough work to crack open the soldered-shut box, but it served to build the anticipation.
      "If the ghost of Lydia Laws comes out I'm gone," someone joked. Turning to me, "I like you so I might save you."
      "As long as it's not bones, I"m good," said another.
      "Yeah, right! It's the campus turtle or something."
      "There's a snake in there!"

But of course the findings were a lot more mundane. No snakes, bones, or ghosts. Found within was an Echo publication, Hornet newspaper, commencement program, Baccalaureate program, course catalog, and a program for the dedication of Laws Hall. While I'm disappointed by the lack of trinkets or personal notes, I had a good day. The excitement was a reminder of why I love my job.  From one day to the next, I never know what adventure may come.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Lights Out at Laws Hall

Tomorrow afternoon from 1:00 to 3:00, we will be saying goodbye to a much loved residential hall. Laws Hall, constructed in 1962, is slated to be demolished this summer to make room for a new dormitory. You are invited to join us for this last opportunity to enter the building and to take a trip down memory lane. Refreshments will be served.  Hope to see you there!

Yesterday, I, as the archivist, scavenged the building to transfer a few last treasures. Among them are a portrait of Lydia P. Laws,, the "Lovely Ladies of Laws Hall" welcome sign that hung over the entryway, a key box with building keys, RA log books, and a small amount of records. Do you have records or photographs of Laws hall? I would love to meet with you tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Honorary Degrees

Congratulations to the class of May 2018! As commencement draws closer, I want to pause to consider the part of the ceremony frequently overlooked by excited graduates and their parents - the conferring of honorary degrees.

As a guest speaker draws to a close, the anticipation is palpable. But before the unending line of graduates can snake up the walkway to receive their degrees, the President must first honor the speaker or distinguished guests with an honorary degree.

What is an honorary degree? Most commonly, it is a doctorate degree awarded to someone who, although he or she has not completed the requisite coursework and assignments, has sufficient field experience to rival a formal education. The degree may also be awarded to someone who commands significant respect within the university community, such as emeritus faculty. The degree is typically referred to as a Doctorate of Humane Letters.

Here at Delaware State University, we have awarded honorary degrees to individuals from all walks of life. They include political dignitaries such as former Vice President Joe Biden, Benjamin Carson, or John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor, the President of the Republic of Ghana. Our past honorees also include cultural titans such as Queen Latifah and Bill Cosby. Check out the list of known recipients below.
The 1985 speaker, Mayor Marion Barry, Jr., arrives by
helicopter from Washington D.C., May 19, 1985

1961: Martin Jenkins
1962: Sterling McMurrin
1963: Thomas Carroll; Walter Aiken
1964: Elbert Carvel; Julius Thomas; Logan Wilson
1965: Leland Hayward; James Nabrit
1966 Robert Weaver
1967 Stuart Udall; Bishop John D. Bright; Reverend Henry Herndon; Dr. Maurice Thomasson, Acting president of DSC
1968: Jack Robinson; William Ryan; Leon Sullivan; Asa Randolph; John McDowell
1969: Herman M. Holloway; Ercell Watson
Mayor Marion Barry, Jr. and entourage
1970: Harriet Williams; King Cheek; Harold Keller; James Baker; Jerome Holland, President of DSC
1971: John W. Lord; William McElroy; Norman Wilder
1972: Sister Mary Elise; James Cheek
1973: Barbara Jordan; Beatrice Henry
1974: Earl Jackson; Barbara Sizemore
1975: Maynard Jackson; Daniel James
1976: Carl Rowan
1977: Pierre DuPont; Walton Simpson; Paul Weatherly
1978: Julian Bond; W.R. Wynder, DSC faculty; William G. Dix, DSC staff
1979: Parren J. Mitchell; James C. Hardcastle, DSC Trustee
1980: Mary Frances Berry
1981: Nicholas H. Rodriguez; Ulysses S. Washington, Jr., DSC Faculty
1982: Walter Faunteroy
1983: Samuel R. Pierece, Jr.
1984: Terrel H. Bell; Crawford J. Carroll; John Robert Price (Posthumous), DSC faculty
1985: Marion Barry, Jr.; James Hazell Williams
1986: Michael N. Castle, Governor of Delaware; Louis L. Redding; Al O. Plant, Jr.
1987: Dr. Luna I. Mishoe; William Granville; Cora N. Selby, DSC Trustee
1988: John Lewis
1989: William H. Gray III, Mr. William H. Davis
1990: Juanita Kidd Stout, PA supreme court; Arthur E. Bragg, DSC Professor Emeritus
1991: A. Richard Barros, DE attorney
1992: Endsley P. Fairman, DE philanthropist
1994: Thomas Richard Carper, DE Governor
1995: Susan Taylor
1996: Benjamin S. Carson, M.d.
1997: Charles M. Cawley, MBNA America Bank
1998: Nikki Giovanni, poet; Dr. Billy Taylor, jazz historian; Edward Loper Sr., artist
1999: Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., J.D.
2000: Dr. Bertice Berry
2001: Dr. William H. Cosby, Sr.; Clifford Benjamin Brown (Posthumous)
2002: Dr. Dorothy Irene Height
2003: Joseph R. Biden, Jr. US Senator
2005: James H. Gilliam Sr., President of Wilmington Housing Inc.
2006: Nathan Hayward III, DelDOT
2008: Clark Kent Ervin, J.D., Homeland Security
2011: Jeff Johnson, investigative journalist
2012: Warren Brown, CakeLove founder
2015: Ann Rosenberg, Global SAP University Alliances; John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana
2016: Joseph R. Biden, Vice President of the United States; Johnny C. Taylor Jr., Thurgood Marshall College Fund
2017: Lisa Blunt, US House of Representatives; Steve Ewig, Executive Officer of Wade Ford Dealership
2018: James McBride, writer

Friday, April 27, 2018

Look who I found at MARAC

On April 12-15, I attended the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  It's always a pleasure to see my former supervisors, classmates, and colleagues.  This time there was a pleasant surprise. Jasmine Smith, our IMLS intern, is all grown-up and has a job of her own. I took the opportunity to get to know more about her new career at the Library Company of Philadelphia. 

Q: What is your new job? 

A: My job is divided into two roles: reference librarian and specialist of African American history.  My role as a reference librarian is to staff the reading room and answer general questions either via email, in person, or over the phone, whereas my role as the specialist is to answer complex questions relating to African American history.  It is also my responsibility to page and shelve materials used by readers; familiarize new readers and fellows on how to use WolfPAC, fill out call slips, explain reading room procedures, and suggest research materials. I also manage the Facebook page for the program in African American history and assist with blog posts. 

Q: What is your favorite part of working for the Library Company?

A: I am constantly surrounded by highly education scholars who are working towards future publications. I enjoy this aspect about my job because it allows me to increase my knowledge on subjects that I am unfamiliar with or have a different perspective on. 

Q: Are there any interesting collections that you've worked with so far? 

A: The Amy Matilda Cassey album is my favorite collection at the moment. Amy Matilda Cassey was a very prominent African American, middle-class woman who was involved with the anti-slavery movement in Philadelphia. Her friendship album dates from 1833 until 1856 and has signatures from activists and abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Robert Purvis and more.  This is an important document because it describes how life was for middle class African American men and women during a time of segregation. 

Best of luck to you, Jasmine! 

Some links of interest: 

Monday, April 16, 2018

All my ducks in a row

For this one, bright, shining moment, I get to say that I have all my ducks in a row... but only because I have literal ducks in a row. Today the archives received a donation of ten waterfowl decoys created by Mr. Douglas A. Gibson '50.

Mr. Gibson has practiced his art form for more than 30 years and has received recognition at the Canadian Art Exposition and the Nur Temple. He has additionally been showcased at the Eastern Waterfowl Festival and the Ward Brothers Foundations' Best in the World Competition, both of which are "by invitation only" events. In 2004, he was invited to be the Delaware representative for waterfowl carving at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington, D.C. When one sees his beautifully hand carved and painted birds, there's no question why.

Mr. Gibson holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Arts from Delaware State College and a Master of Science degree in School Administration from the University of Delaware. He taught Architectural Design at Delaware Technical & Community College for more than 20 years. He is known for his design of the Delaware Agricultural Museum and several churches in Delaware and Maryland.

The decoys will be made available for viewing and research.  The birds depicted are:

  • Mallard Drake, 2018
  • Canada Goose, 2016
  • Bald Pate Widgeon, 2004
  • Canvas Back Drake, 2008
  • Shoveler, 1993
  • Scaup Blue-Bill, 2001
  • Mallard Hen
  • Carolina Wood Duck, 2014
  • Green Wing Teal-Drake, 2008
  • Green Wing Teal-Hen, 2013

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Prettyman Family collection now fully processed

Hey Y'all! Check out the Prettyman Family collection finding aid!

The Prettymans are a legacy family who have been in attendance at Delaware State University for more than three generations.  In 2011 Noble W. Prettyman donated a collection of records and artifacts saved by his paternal grandmother, Effie Aiken Prettyman (class of 1913), his mother Katherine Deshields Prettyman (class of 1933), and brother, James A. Prettyman (class of 1969). Although the collection has received some processing treatments in the past, I gave it some needed TLC.

The collection is unique by virtue of the fact that items from the 1910s can be compared to the 1960s and beyond. Here one can research a family's shared past and yet see differences in their experiences. The collection can also be distinguished from others at the DSU Archives because it contains a significant number of three-dimensional artifacts. Within the collection are found vintage clothing, promotional buttons, event programs, and photograph albums.

Personally, I am most fascinated by an album of created by Katherine Deshields Prettyman between 1917 and 1930. The majority of photographs within show happy students posing on the campus of the State College for Colored Students. I love the fashions. If it were not for the clothing, I could imagine these people were on the campus today. For me, it is fun to see a picture of two girls standing on the steps of Conrad hall (above) and know that  I can go stand in the same place.

The Prettyman Family collection is available for public research and can be viewed in the William C. Jason Library between 8 and 4 Monday through Friday.  You are always welcome!
The first pages of Katherine DeShields Prettyman's photo album contains notations about the subject matter of the photographs. So often today, historic photographs are not labeled and it's impossible to know who or what is pictured. I'm glad she took time to record these memories.  

Thursday, March 8, 2018

International Women's Day 2018

In honor of International Women's Day I'd like to share an editorial entitled "The Evolution of Woman,"written by Cecie E. Parker, the librarian of the State College for Colored Students.  Ms. Parker's editorial appeared in The Echo from April 13, 1910.  As a woman in possession of a bachelors and masters degree, and as an employee of Higher Education, I'm grateful to the women who came before me. I salute those who courageously stepped forward to earn and defend a woman's right to higher education.  More specifically, thank you to Ms. Parker, my librarian kinswoman. 

"The college woman of today has exploded many old theories regarding higher education for her sex...And while she had a long and up hill fight against the deep seated prejudice for equal opportunities, yet she has proved that the increased advantages of the present century, have made her not less but more normal, sensible, lovable and essentially feminine." - Cecie E. Parker in 1910.