Monday, October 29, 2018

Class of 1993 at Homecoming

Happy 25th reunion to the class of 1993! This past Saturday, October 27, 2018 I was honored to spend a few hours with the class of 1993 in order to show them the archival items that have been preserved from their era.  I listened to their humorous anecdotes about who went before the judiciary board for disciplinary action and why, the classic "one time my roommate..." stories, and memories of sporting events.

Thank you for an enjoyable afternoon! I hope that you all enjoyed the rest of homecoming and hope to see you back on campus soon.


Friday, October 5, 2018

W. C. Jason Library Social Media

Hello Archives Friends,

The staff of the William C. Jason Library are working hard to establish new social media platforms and boost patron engagement. We've recently purchased some quality digital camera gear, and with it, we hope to better demonstrate what the Jason Library is all about. We've got exciting things planned, and we want to get the community on board. Please be sure to check out our new twitter (@dsu_library) and instagram (desulibrary) pages.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

New Exhibit Open! The Early College High School Yesterday and Today

Delaware State University has a surprisingly long history of providing high school education. Delawareans today are familiar with the Early College High School charter school founded in 2014, but this institution actually offered "preparatory" education as early as 1893.

 The education program at the State College for Colored Students initially consisted of a normal school that prepared eight-grade graduates to be elementary school teachers.  The normal course of study equipped them with an established system of “norms” or methods for instruction. After three years of pedagogy, the students were awarded a teaching certificate and given the option of pursuing a bachelor’s degree during a fourth year. The teaching candidates primarily learned how to instruct conventional disciplines, but they also explored challenges they would likely face in the field -- such as rural school management or issues of classroom heating and lighting.  

Aside from the obvious need to have a source of pupils for the teaching candidates to practice with, college administrators also realized that students were generally under-prepared to start collegiate studies.  The level of education offered to African American students in wider Delaware was deficient.  This was something that Pierre S. DuPont also knew.  As a result he funded the construction of numerous schools across Delaware, for both blacks and whites. In 1921 his generosity led to the creation of a two-room "laboratory school" on the State College for Colored Students campus.

The addition of the laboratory school drastically improved the education given to local youths and advanced the intellectual reach of students desiring to enter the SCCS.  Consequently, by 1934 the college was able to bolster its admissions requirements and become a truly collegiate institution. At this time it also phased out the Normal Course in favor of a Bachelor’s of Education degree.

The Laboratory School persisted until 1952 when it permanently closed its doors.  By this time William C. Jason High School had opened in Sussex county in addition to Howard High School in  Wilmington.

Fast forward to 2011, Delaware State University resurrected the tradition of a preparatory high school education by drafting a Delaware Department of Education charter school application.The ECHS set out to offer the opportunity for Delaware students to attain up to 60 college credits before graduating high school. DSU also intended for the ECHS to encourage students to pursue STEM fields and targeted those who would potentially become first-generation college graduates for their families.

On August 25, 2014 the ECHS officially opened its doors to 132 ninth graders. Each year since, as the inaugural class moved up, one additional grade has been added and a new ninth grade cohort was welcomed.  The 2017-2018 academic year marked the completion of the high school's growth such that all four grades, ninth through twelfth, were then represented.

The past four years have been full of a series of firsts - first homecoming, first band, first athletic teams, first prom, first graduates, and so much more. This exhibit seeks to highlight these exciting milestones in the history of the Early College High School and revel in their success.  You are welcome to visit the exhibit in the archival gallery during the library's regular hours.  See you soon!

Friday, September 21, 2018

New Acquisition: Audio of President Luna I. Mishoe's inauguration ceremony

The inaugural program, April 12, 1961
Exciting news! This morning the archives acquired an audio recording of President Luna I. Mishoe's inauguration ceremony.

His daughter and our current President, Dr. Wilma Mishoe, recently discovered the recording among her family's private collections. She was kind enough to permit the recording to be digitized and sent to the archives. Although not in possession of the original recording (it will remain with the Mishoe family), I am very excited about this treasure! For the first time ever, I was able to hear President Mishoe's voice.

The recording begins with a deep voice describing the event that's about to be recorded. "The inauguration of Luna Issac Mishoe as seventh president of Delaware State College. Place: Memorial Hall. Time: Three P.M." Organ music begins playing and is followed by the invocation.  Immediately after the college choir begins singing Holy Lord God and if I didn't know otherwise, I would swear they were professional musicians hired for the big day.  Thereafter the event proceeds with a number of speeches from dignitaries until finally President Mishoe offers his inaugural address.

The theme of Dr. Mishoe's speech is "new academic frontiers," and in it he describes the plans he has for the offerings of the college. Among them, Dr. Mishoe highlights his desire to encourage international study that goes beyond simply courses in German, Spanish, and French language. He speaks of major African languages, a study of Asian culture and broader world history.  He additionally vows the college will pursue greater study in natural sciences to include physics, chemistry, mathematics,  astronomy, meteorology, radiation biology, celestial mechanics, and much more.  He vows to construct a new science center.

With the benefit of hindsight, today, we can see that  Dr. Mishoe was successful in all of his desires. The Mishoe Science Center is a physical testament.

Stop in anytime to hear a piece of history.

*Item housed with Presidential Inaugural programs Row 10, Bay C, Shelf 5.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Anniversary of the 1968 Student Demonstrations

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of a series of student-led demonstrations that rocked Delaware State College. I could not have let the year go by without mentioning the historical moments that continue to be among those most widely discussed and debated.

Please note, as an archivist, I am predisposed to base my research in the documentary evidence of the past. Written word does not have a fallible memory. In this case, however, to rely purely on paper  would result in a one-sided story because the majority of DSU's archival records are created by administrators. In order to hear the students' voices I had to have a conversation, 50 years after the fact, with those who led and participated in the demonstrations. Because memories have faded, I was unable to find the answers to all my questions.  The following narrative is what I have pieced together, but I cannot not declare it the "gospel truth."  If you were a Delaware State University student in 1968 I would relish the opportunity to hear your accounts. You may be the key to further understanding this very complex and often confusing series of events.

In 1968 the country was in the midst of the civil rights movement.  Delaware State College students were frustrated not only by the political and social climes of the nation, but also of the college.  They sought a number of campus changes - less restrictive visitation rights between male and female dormitories, the removal of rodents from their residences, extended library hours, the development of black studies academic courses, and a greater sense of community with the citizens of Dover.

In March 1968 DSC students held a one-day boycott in support of their demands. According to newspaper articles written in the week following, 800 students skipped their 8 a.m. classes to come together in Delaware Hall.  After a brief meeting they proceeded to Grossley Hall which was at that time the administration building.  President Luna I. Mishoe (father of our current president) was abroad in Europe, but Nathaniel E. Tillman, acting academic dean, agreed to meet with the students at 10 a.m. By all accounts, the boycott was orderly and successful. The News Journal from March 23, 1968 said that both the students and administrators, "provided a textbook example ...of the most effective way to survive a demonstration." In the end, the college agreed to review and correct the rodent situation, open the library an additional two hours on weekdays, and permit visitation by women to the men's dormitories on Sunday afternoons. No disciplinary action was taken against any of the students.

After such a successful outcome it unclear why, just five days later, on March 25 the female students held a sing-in to protest their curfew. The residents of Tubman Hall, who were expected to be in their rooms by 10:00 p.m. left shortly after to gather at the MLK Student Center.  At 11:00 they left the student center and headed to the on-campus apartment of Mrs. Dorothy Harris, Dean of Students. For the next forty-five minutes they sang popular civil rights movement songs and college cheers.

It seems that this time around, the proceedings were more disruptive. Stones were thrown on Dean Harris' porch and the dormitory sign-out sheets were vandalized. Additionally, a fire started in a maintenance building at midnight. Although there was no reason to suspect foul-play, the newspapers reported the student demonstration and the fire jointly. This cast a pall over the events.

Over the course of the next several months, I do not know what the relationship between students and administrators was like.  I also don't know which of the student demands, if any, were met. I can guess however, that the students continued to face some of the same frustrations as well as some new ones. In May of 1968 it all came to a head, and this is where it can get confusing...

In 1967 DSC constructed a new student center and a men's dormitory. By the spring of 1968 neither one had as yet been named, and students had opinions on the matter.  In light of Martin Luther King's assassination in April, the students felt strongly that the student center should be named in honor of Dr. King.  They additionally wanted the dormitory to be named after Medgar Evers. They went so far as to send a written petition to President Mishoe.  Evidently he agreed with their choice and recommended to the Board of Trustees that the building be dedicated in Dr. King's name.

I can only guess that the students never received word from the board as to this decision.  I have spoken to the 1968 President of the Student Government Association and numerous other students present at the time. None of them can recall being informed.  At the same time, however, the secretaries in President Mishoe's office definitively remember ordering programs in advance of the dedication celebration which clearly stated the name of the student center.

Here's what I know happened: On May 10, 1968, President Mishoe, Governor Charles Terry, members of the Board, and other distinguished guests took to the platform to begin the dedication program.  The Governor was just about to begin his address when a rowdy, but small, group of students marched across campus chanting "Student Power!" The SGA president pushed aside the Governor proceeded to name the dormitory and student center.

Disciplinary action against the students was swift.  All the participants in the demonstration were suspended until such a time as they submitted a letter of apology. This course of action by college administrators only incited the larger student body. One week after the dedication, the student body once again occupied Grossley Hall to protest the disciplinary action and again raise the issue of library hours, dormitory visitation, the rats in their living areas, and, this time, the development of a black studies program.

When Governor Terry heard word of the secondary student demonstration he dispatched the National Guard and State Police. The National Guard  had been present in Wilmington as a result of severe rioting, but after the directive from the Governor, they quickly mobilized and relocated to Dover. Armed men with police dogs and tanks (this sounds like an exaggeration to me, but what do I know) stormed the DSC campus. Upon seeing this, the students agreed to walk peacefully to the student center where they met with President Mishoe.  Ultimately, the remainder of the semester was cancelled and the students were sent home.  Commencement was also cancelled, but it was later quietly held off campus.

In the end, the students demands were largely met including the naming of the student center and dormitory in accordance with their wishes. The students wrote their letters of apology and were allowed to return to school the following fall.  Unfortunately, Leroy Tate, the SGA president was suspended indefinitely.  A year later, President Mishoe was gracious enough to work with him to devise a way that would allow him to be readmitted to Delaware State College. Ultimately, Tate chose not to return.

In 2003 the class of 1968 returned to the campus of Delaware State University to officially hold their commencement. In 2010 when a newer student center replaced the old one, Leroy Tate was invited to join the platform party for the dedication in a jovial moment of reconciliation. Today, at nearly every alumni gathering the 1968 demonstrations continue to dominate the "remember when..." conversations.

What do you remember? Did I get it right? I'd love to hear from you! Drop me a line at  You are also welcome to come view the many archival documents pertaining to this era. I've included just a small sample below. Click on each photo to enlarge it. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Society of American Archivists Conference, August 15-18, 2018

Hello from Washington D.C.!  Last week I was privileged to be able to attend the annual Society of American Archivists conference. This was an amazing opportunity to meet and interact with 2,200 archivists and records managers! 

As individuals we met in order to learn from friends and colleagues in order to shape the future of our respective archival institutions.  However, we also came together as a professional body in order to further develop and establish the best practices of our field.

Here are just a few of things I learned:

  • There is a difference between a manager and a leader.  One is a job title and the other is a value system. If someday I become a manager, I should foster leadership from all levels of an organization.  Even a student worker can take leadership. 
  • In current trends, academic archives are coming alongside community archives in order to show them how to preserve the histories of the underrepresented groups or individuals who would not otherwise be recognized in a government or higher education repository. 
  • I need to think more critically about how undergraduates access the DSU archives.  How can the technical terms used in finding aids, er...I mean collection guides... be made clearer?  Are there changes I should make to demonstrate that my office is not purely for my uses but is also a reading room?
The conference was also a time to reconnect with old classmates and friends. We had a laid-back reception at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum where we snacked on donuts under the watchful gaze of dinosaurs, and pointed our sticky fingers at the hope diamond. We also made new friends a story hour where we regaled each other with humorous tales of our archival (mis)adventures.

At the end of it all, I came home a very tired archivist - a positive sign of a stimulated brain. I am already looking forward to the possibility of seeing my colleagues at SAA in Austin, Texas next year! 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Architectural drawings update

After a marathon session today, I am pleased to say that Phase I of the architectural drawings project is COMPLETED! 

You may remember from last month that I shared my initial work on a lengthy project to make sense of DSU's architectural drawings. Formerly, the drawings were tossed haphazardly into one of our building's basements and had been neglected for decades. After this room came onto my radar, I volunteered to use my powers of librarianship to process the drawings the same way that I would any archival collection.  It is to be hoped that when I am done, the Office of Capital Planning and Environment Sustainability will be able to utilize the drawings with greater ease.

As the project stands today, I have now gained physical control over the drawings thus completing the first phase of processing.  At the very least, I can say that each drawing has been identified by building.  Moving into Phase II tomorrow, I will begin to identify each drawing by electrical, fire systems, structural, furniture plans, etc.  All of this data will be logged into an excel spreadsheet and soon (I hope) passed onto our campus planning managers. 

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these photographs showing the very drastic improvements from those of last month.  Stay tuned for more later!

Although it still looks chaotic, these drawings are separated by building and
identified by the little blue notes. 

Look! We can now see the floor!