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

Monday, March 27, 2017

NEH Feature

Hello Everybody!

Happy Spring! It's been some time since I last gave you an update regarding the progress of the archives. The year 2017 started out fairly quiet because the grant projects were concluded, and the archives is settled pretty well into the new exhibit and storage space. In fact, I felt a little like one of the many critters hibernating for winter.  I stayed close to the collections and spent most of my efforts processing in my office.

But I'm on the move again and will soon have many more activities to report! For now, I thought I'd pass along a link to a National Endowment for the Humanities feature. Today the NEH published the following article about the photograph preservation project started under the first generation of archivists, Emily and Cale, and completed last spring by Dan and myself.

I take significant pride in the work that was done on this project.  I think there is yet some way to go before the project can be declared totally done and the finding aids finished. Nevertheless, the processed photographic collections have proven to be invaluable to the campus community and the public.

Thank you to the NEH for featuring the University Archives!

https://www.neh.gov/divisions/preservation/featured-project/50-states-preservation-delaware-state-university-in-dover-delaware

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Founder's Day 2017 and the Time Capsule

Hello Everybody!

Our celebration of the 125th year continues with the annual Founder's Day ceremony.  Join us on February 9th at 11:00 am as we gather in the theater of the Education and Humanities to remember the day the university first opened to students on February 2, 1892.

This year we will be preparing a new time capsule for burial at the conclusion of the 125th year. Guests will have the opportunity to view and touch the historically significant contents of the capsule as well as hear presentations by esteemed educators and administrators.

This event is free and open to the public! I hope to see you there!


Monday, January 23, 2017

Starting an Oral History Program

Dr. Reba Hollingsworth '49
In summer 2016, the DSU archives was invited by a group of stellar alumni to join the DSU Legacy Committee whose purpose is to disseminate the stories of university history through a variety of platforms - the university website, exhibits, alumni events, and an oral history program. I'm so grateful to the committee who counts it their primary objective to increase the outreach of the archives and encourage alumni to donate their personal records.

I'm pleased to announce that the legacy committee and I have initiated an oral history program! We are on a mission to film some of our most respected and senior alumni in order to capture their memories and personal experiences at the State College for Colored Students, Delaware State College, and of course Delaware State University. 

To date, we have filmed interviews with three individuals who graduated from SCCS in the 1940's. All three, Dr. Cora Selby '40, Mrs. Courtney Stevenson '44, and Dr. Reba Hollingsworth '49, are remarkable women who are so very generous, kindhearted, well-spoken and intelligent. 

In sharing their stories, these women were able to look back on rich, full lives with pride and recall so many achievements.  What I appreciated the most was that their accomplishments had nothing to do with fame, glory, or riches.  Instead, they were proud of life lessons learned from hard work - how to use a household dryer instead of sending clothes to the dry cleaner, or being charitable with time and money even when you may not have much to offer.

If you'd like to gain some of this wisdom, hear funny stories, and learn about DSU history, come to the archives to view the oral histories.  Additionally, this is an ongoing project so we've got a long list of interviews still ahead. Do you or someone you know have stories to share about Delaware State University? Let us know!

 Written by Joy Scherry