September 2013 Archives

How did "Homecoming" start? Good Question!!

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University of Minnesota Assistant Archivist Erin George appeared in a segment on WCCO News explaining the roots of Homecoming. Watch the "Good Question" segment to see some historic photos of U of M Homecoming, find out a bit about the roots of the tradition and hear from current and former students.

1933 U of M Homecoming Prize Winning Float.jpgThe image to the left shows a prize winning Homecoming float in 1933. To explore on your own and find images from the archive, visit UMedia Archive. You can search for Homecoming, Goldy Gopher or other terms to locate images from the University of Minnesota archives or other collections at the University.

 

 

Emily Hagens is co-curator of Downton Abbey: Behind the Scenes of Health and Illness and a Ph.D. candidate in the Program in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Minnesota. Aside from Masterpiece Theater and rare books, she studies 16th century Italian domestic medicine and vernacular print and manuscript culture.

Most of us know and love Downton Abbey. The beautiful scenery, the love and money that is constantly lost and re-found, the costumes... and the gut-wrenching moments of tragedy, too, keep viewers speculating, hosting themed tea parties, and coming back to Masterpiece Theater's hit show time and again. Although I generally love the show, the historian of medicine side of me also thinks the detailed research that goes into some of the scenes most filled with tension is exciting. When Lois Hendrickson, interim curator at the Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine, offered me the opportunity to help curate this fall's exhibit Downton Abbey: Behind the Scenes of Health and Illness, I jumped at the opportunity.

DownAbbey.ExhibitPrepPhoto.Glasses.Sept2013.JPGAs a Ph.D. student in the history of medicine, I'm accustomed to research with archival sources and rare books, but this exhibit required a different kind of initial approach. Instead of beginning in the Wangensteen's extensive collections of medical books and artifacts, I began on Hulu, re-watching all three seasons of Downton. With ears and eyes tuned to medical instruments and discussions, I took notes on every instant when a character mentioned, feared, or experienced a medical event. I also spent time perusing social and news media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Buzzfeed, XOJane, and the Huffington Post for ideas about what viewers noticed most often about medicine in the show. Some instances were obvious, like the shock at the sudden presence and disappearance of Spanish Influenza. Others made fewer waves, like Mrs. Patmore's cataracts or Mrs. Hughes's breast cancer scare. Since WWI, or The Great War, was such a presence in season 2, Lois and I knew that military medicine would need to be a significant part of the exhibit.

 

Archival Emergency Planning and Response

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Tim Johnson, Curator of Special Collections and Rare Books; E. W. McDiarmid Curator of the Sherlock Holmes Collections

Anyone who has suffered a natural disaster knows the multitude of emotions connected with such an event: feelings of loss, pain, fatigue, frustration, confusion--the list is nearly endless.  Archives and libraries--and their associated staff--are no different.  At least a few of us have endured (and survived) professional lives disrupted by flood, fire, Julie Page_02.jpgearthquake, or other calamity.  Among the many questions that linger after such an event is one of paramount importance to archivists and librarians: how can we be better prepared the next time such an event comes our way.

To that end, the Libraries formed a Collections Emergency Response Team. Led by Mary Miller, the Libraries' Collection Management and Preservation Strategist, this team is engaged in updating and enhancing collections emergency response procedures for the Libraries and the Minnesota Library Access Center (administered by Minitex).  University Librarian Wendy Lougee charged the team "with assessing collections emergency preparedness in the Libraries, overseeing emergency planning, and fostering a culture of preparedness in the Libraries through strategic communication, education, and hands-on training.   In the event of an emergency involving collections, the team will provide leadership, advice, and assistance to the Libraries during the response and recovery phases." I was invited--along with nearly a dozen of my colleagues--to be a member of this team.

Hands-on training is an important part of "fostering a culture of preparedness."  In early September the team, along with other members of staff, participated in two days of exercises designed around collection damage assessment and salvage.  Our sessions were led by Julie Page, a trainer for the Western States and Territories Preservation Assistance Service (WESTPAS). Julie is the former head of the preservation department at the University of California, San Diego and now serves as a preservation consultant. In addition to her work with WESTPAS, she is a trainer for the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC) Emergency Response for Cultural Institutions program, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and a member of the American Institute for Conservation Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC CERT).

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