Thursday, December 14, 2017

Annual Christmas Letter 2017

Dear Friends,

Can you believe another year is coming to an end?! I'm not sure I even remember celebrating July 4th ...or any part of August.  Where did it all go?   For the large part of the year, time passed quickly but quietly in the archives - which is good because my personal life was often messy.  Unlike previous years there were no major construction or grant projects and so 90% of my time was engaged in archival processing (Yeah! Board of Trustee records!) and reference requests (Hooray for the documentary project completed by 302 Stories Inc!).

My biggest excitement in 2017 was a seat at the table for the library director search committee. I count myself  privileged to have played a part in shaping the future of the William C. Jason Library.  It means a lot to me to know that the university administrators value my opinion and allowed me this platform. It's too early for any big announcements yet, but after hearing from several talented candidates, I am confident that the library department has a bright future.  I can't wait to see what improvements and innovations are in store for us under new leadership in a new year.

On a personal note, I'm now the proud sister of a DSU graduate! My brother Paul graduated from DSU's aviation program last May and I am so proud of his accomplishments.  The university seems a little lonelier without him occasionally stopping by my office, but he has important grown-up work to do for the airlines.

Lastly, I wish to thank individuals who have helped to make this a wonderful year for the archives department.  At the very top of the list are the ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. who have been a tremendous help and encouragement to me! Of course I appreciate the exhibit they put together for the gallery, but beyond that I can't express how much their sage advice and kind words mean to me as a young professional. Similarly, thanks to Mike and Jeanne of 302 Stories Inc. for their friendship and business. It has been a true pleasure to work with you and see the archives materials used in new, creative ways. Thank you to all my library colleagues for standing by the archives and assisting me in growing the department! 

All in all, I hope that you, my patrons, have also had a wonderful year and wish you nothing but the best in 2018. Thank you for continuing to walk this journey with me. Much is still ahead and I can't wait to share it with you!

Merry Christmas,

Monday, December 11, 2017

Tribute to Mary Maloy Scott

The University Archives and Special Collections mourns with the family of Mrs. Mary Maloy Scott and wishes to express sincere condolence. Mrs. Scott will always be appreciated for the stalwart support she gave to the archives department and her mentorship to Delaware State University students.

When the University Archives was yet a fledgling department in 2015, Mrs. Scott was the second-ever alumni to donate personal artifacts and photographs to the archival collections.  Her actions were a testament of her faith in the future of the department and the work of myself, a first-time professional archivist.  When the archives held a grand opening ceremony a year later, my greatest joy was not in public recognition, but in proving to Mrs. Scott that her faith was not misplaced.

Mrs. Scott will always be remembered for her dedication to the education of others.  Early in my acquaintance with her, she asked me to help her identify ways in which she could build personal relationships with university students.  It pleased her to contribute financially to the university, but she also wanted to impart her extensive wisdom and life-lessons into the lives of young people.

Please know that Mrs. Scott will continue to do exactly this through the presence of her personal records within the archives.  The Mary Maloy Scott collection will forever be available to student researchers. I have no doubt that they will see a life well lived and be encouraged, because this is what I see every day.  To Mary’s family and friends, know that it will always be my privilege to be the steward of her most treasured artifacts, and I will welcome you into the archives anytime you too wish to view her scrapbooks and treasure her memory. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

2017 Barn Fire

This morning the archives reflects on the loss of the university's historic barn located at the back of the main campus. At around 7:30 p.m. last night, November 16, 2017, the barn caught fire and was ultimately destroyed when the roof collapsed.  Investigations into the cause of the fire are ongoing.

 Although it was mostly disused in recent years, the barn was one of the more historic buildings on campus.  By researching the course catalogs from 1919 and 1929, I believe that it first served as a dairy barn and was constructed some time in 1928. This makes sense given that state appropriations to the college in the later 1920s as well as the generosity of Pierre DuPont significantly increased the college's capital. Whatever the case, the 1920-1930 catalog states, "The Dairy Barn, recently constructed, is a strictly modern building in design and equipment. It is one of the most important recent additions to the Agricultural Department."

At one time, the barn held a prominent place within the college community.  This is not surprising when considering that the State College for Colored Students was founded as an 1890s land-grant institution. Agricultural studies were at its very heart.  From conversations with alumni, I know that the barn held cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals that supported the dinning services on campus. Anecdotally, the cows that lived here are forever in the memories of the athletes who shared a field with them.

An undated photograph of the Dairy Bary, possibly c. 1930.

Barn, c. 1990
Interestingly, yesterday's fire is not the first in university history.  Two in particular come to mind: The first occurred in 1968 when a steel maintenance building used to store furniture and tools totally burned. The fire happened immediately following a student "sing-in" protest. No connection between the two events was made, but the student protestors were the ones who reported the fire and moved some of the school's vehicles out of the path of the flames. The second fire in institutional memory occurred at Loockerman Hall and was a result of arson in 1979.  At the time, the building was at the center of a very public debate about whether or not it should be preserved and restored. It was proven that the blaze had been set with kerosene and had burned for sometime before the fire department was made aware.

 The loss of the barn and the very uncertainty of the facts that I researched this morning serve as a reminder that history can be lost. It is easy to take for granted that what is here today might not be there tomorrow. I must also acknowledge that institutional memory is fuzzy. The unfortunate truth is that unless information is captured in a fixed media, it is likely to be lost.

The maintenance building after the 1968 fire.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Listen to the 1977 Gospel Choir

The DSU archives is giving a HUGE shout-out to 302 Stories Inc. for converting a prized LP record to CD!

The James A. Prettyman collection is my go-to source when examining the university's material culture circa 1965 to 1980. Contained within it are college pennants, clothing, pins, various souvenirs and an LP record of the Gospel Choir from 1977.

From my first day at Delaware State University, this Gospel Choir LP frustrated me. The opportunity to hear voices from the past was always right in front of me and yet so far out of reach because of  technological and financial limitations. Aside from a VHS player, I do not have the ability to playback or convert any audiovisual media.

When the archive's 125th anniversary exhibit opened a year ago, I included the record in one of the display cases. I thought that, at the very least, it added color and intrigue, and I noted that visitors enjoyed seeing it. What I didn't expect was that one set of visitors in particular, 302 Stories Inc., a documentary film company, would be able to provide me with access to the audio.

Thanks to Jeanne and Mike who enthusiastically converted the audio, I can now play the music of Take Me There to my heart's content. Stop by the archives any time to listen to the 1977 Gospel Choir! Were you a member of the choir? Let me know! I'd love to hear your stories.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Time Capsule

Delaware State University Alumni help to bury the capsule
On September 14, 2017 Delaware State University buried a time capsule to mark the closing of the 125th anniversary celebrations.

For the next 50 years the capsule will lay beneath the flowerbeds lining the walkway to Loockerman Hall. We hope that when it is exhumed the next generation will take pride in the growth of the university over the first 125 years. We hope that they too will be able to say that this institution never stagnated and always strived for excellence.

If you would like to learn more about the capsule a video describing the contents has recently been made available and can be viewed here.

Monday, October 16, 2017

New Alpha Kappa Alpha Exhibit

Hello Archives Friends! It is my very great pleasure to announce that a new exhibit has been installed in the archives gallery.

The ladies of the Epsilon Iota Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. worked tirelessly to curate and install an exhibit that celebrates the history of their chapter and the many achievements of their members.

The artifacts found in the display include an initiation medallion of a charter member, Meeting minutes from the 1950's, articles of clothing and accessories, Boule bags, and the portraits and biographies of  many talented, local women.

This exhibit is the pinnacle of a partnership that was first formed a year ago.  I am grateful to the AKAs for their donations of historic records to the archives and their unwavering support for my work. Special thanks to Ruby Coppadge, Ernestine Adams, and Peggy Swygert for installing the exhibit.

The exhibit will be on display for the month of October.  To view it, please stop by the gallery anytime Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 4:00. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Archives Increases Discoverabliity

Hi Friends!

Until recently, the DSU archive suffered a lack of discoverability. The problem stemmed from the absence of any mention of the archives on the University website.  This past spring, however, the university overhauled its entire web presence including the WC Jason library landing page. As a result, the archives now has a place of prominence squarely in the center of the library's page under the heading of "Library Resources." By following the link provided thereunder, patrons are directed to the archive's very own LibGuide:
The Archive's LibGuide page.  From here patrons can access finding aids, look up archival terminology, and seek answers to commonly asked questions.
After this very exciting development, I spent a good portion of the summer working to improve the archive's previously hidden LibGuide.  More specifically, I elected to begin by overhauling the collection descriptions and revamping the linked finding aids. The process is slow-going because the work requires not just redrafting the text within the finding aid itself, but verifying or else correcting the physical arrangement of the collections described.

This is a significant challenge because as time has passed and  the collections grew quickly, the finding aids took a form more similar to an inventory and did not have the requisite scope and content, biography note, colophon and so on.This may sound like a heinous act, but believe me! Just when I thought I'd finished updating a collection, it seemed practically guaranteed that someone would approach the archives with an accession undoubtedly containing more records for the collection at hand.  This happened time and time again with the Board of Trustee records (hence the 1.5 years it took to process it) as you read last month.  You can see how it might be extremely frustrating. By the time I finished, it was time to start all over again!

NEVERTHELESS, I have begun to rectify the situation. Continuing into the new semester, I am striving to update the finding aids.  New and improved finding aids are being regularly added. Swing by the LibGuide often.  If there's a particular collection you want to see updated, let me know! I'll make it a priority.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Dr. Reba Hollingsworth

Delaware State University recently honored Dr. Reba Ellen Ross Hollingsworth, an alumna of both the laboratory high school and the State College for Colored Students. Dr. Reba is one of the most amazing women I know! I appreciate her most for the indelible wisdom that has informed both my personal and professional life.   During my first-ever meeting with her I immediately had the odd sensation that she was someone I did not want to disappoint.  I knew that she would expect me to use my God-given talents to the fullest and brook no excuses if I did not.

Dr. Reba is a friend to the archives and believes in the importance of understanding the history that shapes the university today and appreciating the hard work of those who came before us. Take a look at the video above and see for yourself.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Board of Trustees Records Now Fully Processed

Good news! I'm happy to announce the completion of one of my most significant projects to date. After a year and half, Board of Trustees records are now available for research!
Only a small number of the plastic bins containing Board
records that were accessioned and transferred to the archives. 

Oh so long ago, the Board records arrived at my office in more then 230 plastic bins and jumbled up with records of other university administrative offices.  I began the daunting process of separating out the records that pertained only to the Board.  Several months elapsed before even this "baby" step was completed. Finally, at the end of one year, I thought that I had finished processing the collection into neatly arranged archival boxes only to realize the infamous fourth floor closet of the Claibourne Smith Administrative Building was devoted almost entirely to Board records. Oh the horror! Imagine my disappointment when dismantling the beautifully arranged boxes to make way for such a significant accrual.Working slowly over time, it took me from January 2017 until now to organize the additional materials, weed out the duplicated items, and fill the gaps in the collection.

It seems my work was completed just in the nick of time! Or maybe it was right on schedule.  Last week I received a reference request from one of the Faculty chairs for Board materials.  Having a well organized collection enabled me to quickly and definitively conduct the requested research.

This morning I completed the final step by uploading the finding aid to the archive's online LibGuide page. I think a finished finding aid is one of the most beautiful and rewarding sights! Take a look and see for yourself: 

What's next you ask? Well, there are still 68 plastic boxes left to process. And after that there are oodles of records transferred from the Jenkins dorm basement. And after that there are still records in the admin building. And after never ends. Any volunteers? 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Looking for Library Director

Hello Friends! The William C. Jason Library is currently seeking a Director of Library Services.  Could that be you? Do you know someone prepared for this exciting challenge?

The university is searching for someone who will "promote a vision that combines the traditional role of the academic library with the increasing presence of information technologies in a dynamic environment.  The Director will plan and manage all aspects of library operations: budget, personnel, services, program planning, development and assessment, facilities and equipment."

To learn more please review the job vacancy announcement.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Archives in the Classroom

Today the archives played host to Project Success students as they embarked on a scavenger hunt through the William C. Jason Library.  In addition to exploring the computer labs and second floor services, the students were challenged to locate the archives department and identify two collections maintained by the archives. At the end of the hunt, it is hoped that the students learned to navigate the library and have a better understanding of library and tutoring services.

Faculty, if I may, allow me to encourage you to build an archives orientation into your coursework. Obviously as an archivist I am biased, but I think we can all agree that the ability to navigate and conduct original research is a cornerstone of collegiate education. I am more than happy to invite your class into the archives or else visit your classroom to give an archives orientation.  The white-glove environment is often intimidating to first time researchers when it should be more like an adventure.  If given the opportunity, I can allay these fears and give student scholars the ability to tackle original research in the university archives or any other archival repository.

As you begin to play for the next academic year, please don't hesitate to let me know how I can assist your class. Whether it's a freshmen seminar, historic methods or any other subject, I'm happy to help. Reach me at or 302-857-6130.

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: 

To learn about the Aberdeen Proving Ground check out Wikipedia: 

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!

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 more. I'm so grateful that the committee 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, and being charitable with time and money even when you may not have much yourself.

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.  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