Thursday, March 31, 2016

Photographic Collections Update

Written by Dan DelViscio

Since I began working at Delaware State University, my primary project has been the processing of the Public Relations and Alumni Affairs Photograph Collections. Both collections depict people, places, and events at DSU in a variety of formats including photographs, negatives, slides, and proof sheets. It has been my task to catalog, house, and preserve these records so that researchers may have access to DSU’s visual history.

Both collections were presented to me in half processed states with some of the materials already housed and cataloged in archival boxes and the rest in largely unorganized banker’s boxes. My task was to rehouse the materials in more favorable conditions. This entailed placing them in polyester sleeves (see picture to the left), organizing them into acid free folders, and finally relegating them to acid free archival document boxes.

I also surveyed the existing collection to make sure the folders inside were properly spaced. Unfortunately, the collection needed a great deal of reorganizing and rehousing. Many of the photographs were not placed in protective sleeves and in many of the boxes the folders had slouched to create planar distortion (see example to the right). This phenomenon can result when there are not enough folders in a box to support each other and the contents begin to sag and curl over time.

In addition to rehousing all of the records I updated the existing finding aid for the collection. A finding aid is a tool record custodians create to inform researchers about the contents, provenance, and size of the collection. They tell researchers where the collection came from, what kind of materials are in the collection, and provide an inventory of each box to help researchers locate specific records.

It’s been a long tedious process to organize all these photographs, but through that process I’ve gained a better understanding of DSU’s history and a better insight into the trials and triumphs of the institution.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

March Madness

Written by Dan DelViscio

It’s March Madness month with all the college basketball teams squaring off to see who will come out on top.

That got me thinking about how we came up with the term of “March Madness.” I started doing some research and found that the phrase originated in Illinois in 1908 to describe the enthusiasm surrounding the state-wide high school basketball tournaments. "March Madness" was first coined by Henry V. Porter, who began his career as a teacher and coach at Athens High School in central Illinois.1

In 2005 the DSU men's basketball team appeared in their first NCAA tournament, but unfortunately that appearance was against Duke University. The game was held at the Charlotte Coliseum in North Carolina with the Duke Blue Devils as the #1 seed and the Delaware State Hornets the #16 seed.2 Despite the loss, DSU Coach Greg Jackson was quoted saying, “It's still a loss, but I think what these kids did tonight says a lot about our conference. I think this game sent a message to the country that you have to deal with Delaware State University. I'm proud of my kids.”

Let us know who you are rooting for in the up-coming matchups! Coming from Philadelphia, I’ll be keeping an eye on Villanova, Saint Joseph, and Temple to see how they do.

1. "March Madness History." March Madness History. Accessed March 16, 2016.

2. "NCAA® March Madness®: Duke vs. Delaware State." Accessed March 16, 2016.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Donating to the Archives

Dear DSU Alumni,

It is nearly spring!  The season officially begins on March 20, but here on the DSU campus spring has already sprung. The trees are blooming, the tulips are popping up, and the grass is green.  Last week the campus facilities team cleaned and refreshed the grounds while our students celebrated spring break.  This can only mean one thing.  It’s time for spring cleaning!

Alumni, as you brave the recesses of your garage, closets, or maybe even your attic (eek!), you are likely to encounter items from your college heydays.  Have you considered donating them to Delaware State University?

The University Archives utilizes the records and artifacts gifted by alumni to support the further growth of the university.   Alumni records are used in a diversity of manners which currently include marketing initiatives, public programming and exhibits, in support of student research, and in a forthcoming coffee table book.

I have personally met many of you, and I know that you possess a wealth of information about this university and local community.  I have heard your amazing stories!  I am asking you to now consider sharing your tangible records with me.  I am confident that many of you have sports apparel, photographs, event programs, news clippings, personal correspondence with classmates, scrapbooks, and so much more.  Will you consider gifting these items to the archives?

I promise to properly care for them.  Your items will become a collection that bears your name and is accompanied by a research guide that tells your story.  Additionally, your collection will be preserved in acid-free boxes and stored in a controlled environment.

The most cherished items in the university archives do not come from the Board of Trustees, presidents, or faculty.  They come from former students who made this school home.  Please call me at 302-857-6130 or email me at to learn more.

Men relaxing in the T-building c. 1960. This photograph was donated
to the archives by alumnae Eula Maloy Oliver in 2015.