February 2014 Archives

Student Staff Interviews

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By Mary Blissenbach, Student Supervisor

In Archives and Special Collections, we hire a number of student employees to help in many ways. Student staff work in the Reading Room as a Reading Room monitor to assist researchers as needed. They help to communicate questions researchers may have to the Collecting unit staff. Student staff may also work in our Information Registration desk in 219 helping first time researchers. When they are working in these areas they may have projects from any of the ASC Collecting Units. Student staff may also work within one of the ASC Collecting units to help with paging materials from the stack area, shelving materials when researchers are finished, and helping with data entry for the unit. As you can see, our student staff plays a vital role in the functioning of Archives and Special Collections. This spring we will be losing four of our wonderful student staff due to graduation. I took some time to find out more about them and also find out how working in Archives and Special Collections may have impacted their college experience.

Interview with Lindsey Geyer
Lindsey.jpgLindsey is one of our star student staff that will be graduating this spring. I sat down with her for a short interview to find out more about her.

Name and how long you have worked in Archives and Special Collections ASC?
Lindsey Geyer, I have worked here for about three and a half years. I started during my second semester of freshman year, and never looked back!

What ASC units have you worked for in your time here?
I have staffed the Reading Room and Information/Registration desk, as well as work projects for Children's Literature Research Collections CLRC. I have also done projects for various units including SWHA, UMJA, YMCA to name a few.

Do you have a favorite memory of working in ASC?

An Evening with Steve Berry

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By Dr. Marguerite Ragnow, Curator, James Ford Bell Library

Join us for an evening with bestselling author and historical preservationist, Steve Berry, as he shares his writing and research process. A reception and book-signing follow the talk.

Wednesday, Feb 26, 7:00 p.m., Coffman Memorial Union Theater, University of Minnesota east bank campus.


Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of "The Lincoln Myth," "The King's Deception," "The Columbus Affair," "The Jefferson Key," "The Emperor's Tomb," "The Paris Vendetta," "The Charlemagne Pursuit," "The Venetian Betrayal," "The Alexandria Link," "The Templar Legacy," "The Third Secret," "The Romanov Prophecy," and "The Amber Room."

His books have been translated into 40 languages with 17 million copies in 51 countries. They consistently appear in the top echelon of The New York Times, USA Today, and Indie bestseller lists.

History lies at the heart of every Berry novel. It's his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have crossed the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners, and their popular writers workshops. To date, more than 2,000 students have attended those workshops.

In 2012 and 2013 Steve's devotion to historic preservation was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve its spokesperson for National Preservation Week. Among his other honors is the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award; the 2013 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award given by Poets & Writers; the 2013 Anne Frank Human Writes Award; and the Silver Bullet, bestowed in 2013 by International Thriller Writers for his philanthropic work.

Tickets: $5 for U of M students; $10 for Friends of the U of M Libraries/Associates of the James Ford Bell Library; $15 general public.

Tickets available online at z.umn.edu/libtix and by phone at 612-624-2345.

This event is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Libraries in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the James Ford Bell Library.

"Downton Abbey: Behind the Scenes of Health and Illness"

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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 MinnesotaAside from Masterpiece Theater and rare books, she studies 16th century Italian domestic medicine and vernacular print and manuscript culture.

Downton Abbey Poster.JPG

After a long wait, season 4 of Downton finally reappeared on PBS at the beginning of January! Lois Hendrickson and I, co-curators of the Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine's current exhibit Downton Abbey: Behind the Scenes of Health and Illness, have been continuing our conversation about Downton and health. The war over, the family seemed quite settled again, however Matthew's fatal car crash at the end of season 3 foreshadowed significant shifts in the way the Abbey's characters would view the world and each other. The subtle medical concerns the characters continue to deal with reflect these newfound nuances. Unlike the bombastic and brutal problems of seasons one through three, The Great War, Spanish Influenza, and Sybil's eclampsia, this season has so far presented issues that reveal the impact that early twentieth-century society had on the way people dealt with their health.

Lady Edith has become a more significant and substantial character and many medical questions have revolved around her. Edith's love and editor, Mr. Gregson, has a wife in a mental institution. Although viewers have not yet met this character, it is interesting to think about the legal status of insane people in early 20th-century England. According to A Practical Treatise on the Law of Marriage and Divorce by Leonard Shelford (1841), "The subsequent insanity of a person who was of sound mind at the time of the marriage, does not avoid it, (n) nor release the parties from the duties of their marriage vow." (163) Gregson decides to become a German citizen, giving him new legal avenues to rid himself of his wife in hopes of being with Edith.

Sir Arthur and the Olympic Games

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

The Sherlock Holmes Collections publishes a quarterly newsletter for Friends of the Holmes Collections. On a regular basis we publish articles focusing on items held in the collection (or found elsewhere in the University Libraries) that bear on Mr. Holmes or his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that were published fifty or one hundred years ago. Once or twice a year I create a new list of books or periodical articles to consider for our "50 Years Ago" and "100 Years Ago" columns and share this list with our volunteer editor, Julie McKuras, and Friends president, Dr. Richard Sveum. Julie and Dick meet with me nearly every week to plan the next issue of the newsletter or discuss other matters related to the collections. This last Monday, during our weekly meeting, we came across a short piece written by Sir Arthur and published a century ago that was timely and too good to pass up.

Doyle skiing.jpgIn 1914--ten years before the first Winter Olympic Games--Heath, Cranton & Ousely, Ltd. of Fleet Lane, London published a book by Frederick Annesley Michael (F. A. M.) Webster entitled The Evolution of the Olympic Games, 1829 B.C.--1914 A.D. Webster--a javelin champion, Olympic coach, and author--was the honorary secretary of the Amateur Field Events Association. He recruited the President of this same organization, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to write a preface to the book. The introduction was written by His Grace the Duke of Somerset, Chairman of the British Olympic Council. (If this sounds a bit like Chariots of Fire, there is a connection: Webster knew and worked with Evelyn Aubrey Montague who ran steeplechase in the 1924 Paris Olympics--and who was depicted in the movie by actor Nicholas Farrell.)

"Let the materials speak to you."

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Elizabeth Vocasek (M.Ed. in Youth Development Leadership, 2013) contributed this blog entry about using sources in the Social Welfare History Archives and Kautz Family YMCA Archives for a class project for the Organizational Approaches to Youth Development course in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota. Her entry reflects on the challenges and inspirations of her time at the archives. She also reveals how her experiences using the archival collections influenced her when preparing her M.Ed. degree portfolio. Inspired by her archival research to reflect on the "artifacts" of her time at the University, she framed her portfolio as an historical narrative and retraced her steps through the degree program by looking at various artifacts that were produced over the course of her studies at the University. Her essay is a wonderful example of how the impact of using archival sources spreads beyond the classroom setting.

Linnea M. Anderson, Interim Archivist, Social Welfare History Archives

By Elizabeth Vocasek, .Ed. in Youth Development Leadership 2013


            As I entered the Andersen Library Reading Room a little over a year ago with nothing but my pencil, notebook, and the instructions to look for something related to youthwork within the Social Welfare History Archives, I felt more than a little bit daunted.  I stared at the boxes full of reports, photos, memos, pamphlets, flyers, and books, and I thought back to the advice I had received: Let the materials speak to you.  So, I started digging, sorting, scouring, trying to make sense of it all.  Yet, after what felt like hours, days, years of rummaging through folders and boxes looking for an ambiguous something, the only "speaking" I heard was not from the materials, rather from my project partner as we exasperatedly whispered across the table clueless as to what we were supposed to be finding.

            Yet, as all things eventually do, the project slowly but surely began to take form.  The bits, pieces, memos and reports that had originally seemed stale and pointless began to weave together into a vibrant story that neither my project partner nor I could validate nor discredit.  Though at first we felt confident that we had truly found something real and concrete, we eventually began to question that which we were finding.  Moreover, we began to question that which we weren't finding.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2014 listed from newest to oldest.

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