Recently in Social Welfare History Archives Category

Camping on the Farm

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By Linnea Anderson, Archivist, Social Welfare History Archives


One of the most enjoyable aspects of teaching with archival collections is participating in the students' discovery process as they uncover unexpected documents and stories in the archives. It is a chance for staff as well as students to gain new insights about collections.

While preparing materials for an honors seminar on Summer Camps, I discovered Minnie Walker, the "camp cow," in the Hartley House records at the Social Welfare History Archives. Hartley Farm camp in Towaco, New Jersey was the summer camp for children from Hartley House settlement in the "Hell's Kitchen" neighborhood on Manhattan's West Side. Settlements such as Hartley house served as community centers for urban neighborhoods with large immigrant populations. Among many other services, they offered recreational activities and stressed the importance of exercise and the natural environment for children raised in an urban setting. Many settlements sent children to summer camp - often at property provided by a donor. 

Minnie Walker Certificate of Registration.jpg

In addition to being a charming peek at the history of camping, the story of the Hartley Farm cows is also a wonderful example of how much information can be gleaned from only a few documents. The Hartley House records include two registry forms for Holstein cows at the camp. The first is a certificate of registry from The Holstein-Friesian Association of America for a cow named Minnie Walker. Minnie's sire was the illustriously named Sir Hengerveld Prilly Walker and her dam was listed as Minnie Abbekerk 2nd. She was born in December, 1915; purchased for the camp from W. S. Phillips of Huntsville, New Jersey; and registered in May, 1919. Using the diagram provided on the back of the registry form, someone carefully drew Minnie's markings in blue ink.

"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.

Students Make Creative Use of Archival Collection

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by Linnea Anderson, Archivist, Social Welfare History Archives

Archives and Special Collections staff work with numerous graduate and undergraduate classes during a semester. One of the classes that regularly use the archives is Organizational Approaches to Youth Development taught by Professor Jennifer Skuza from the Center for Youth Development. Lindsey Cacich Samples, a student in this class wrote a blog entry reflecting on her experience using a collection in the Social Welare history Archives. Lindsey and her class partner, Genta Hayes, did an historical research project using records of the National Florence Crittenton Mission maternity homes for single mothers. Inspired by the documents, they wrote a script and delivered a dramatic interpretation about the Crittenton Homes for their class project.


A little over a year ago, I was in a class that culminated in a final project involving research in the Andersen archives. On an October evening, our class was given an orientation by Andersen staff as we perused some sample boxes of archives from youth serving organizations of the past. Unfamiliar and overwhelmed by the number of choices, my partner and I finally stumbled upon an organization that struck a chord with us. The Florence Crittenton Mission was a home for unwed mothers, providing them a safe place to stay, where they wouldn't be scorned by their community, and where they learned job and life skills to support their young family. After honing in on a topic, we asked to view a number of boxes from the archives. A full day at the library skimming over the contents of the boxes and we were able to narrow down our search- we were interested in the early years of the budding organization with a goal to find as much evidence to the client's experience in the homes as possible. There was a lot of information that discussed what services the homes provided the women, but it was more of a stretch to find the voices of the women they served in their archives.

Dietrick.jpgThe University of Minnesota Libraries has hired archivist Katherine Dietrick to oversee the Nathan and Theresa Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives (UMJA). Dietrick most recently was an assistant archivist at the Whitney Museum of American Art and an archivist at the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in New York City.

"I am thrilled to join the team at the Andersen Library, especially at such an exciting time for the UMJA. " said Ms. Dietrick. "Now that the remaining portions of the collection have been transferred, reuniting all of the materials in one place, the strength of the collection is even more evident. I look forward to promoting the collection, both within the University and to the community at large, shining a light on the dynamic materials."

The Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest completed the transfer of all of its historical documents to the University of Minnesota Libraries in 2012, creating a major research collection on Jewish history, communities, religion, and culture in the Upper Midwest.

Professor Carol Tilley, whose extensive research into the history of comic book censorship included sources from Archives and Special Collections at the University of Minnesota, has discovered that a key figure behind the move to censor comics falsifiedCCA_Announcement1.JPG his data about the impact of comics on youth. 

Professor Tilley is an Assistant Professor in The Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Using Frederic Wertham's papers in the Library of Congress, Professor Tilley discovered inconsistences and misinformation in Wertham's cases studies and notes for his infamous book about the "evils" of comics, Seduction of the Innocent. (For more on her research, click here.)

Prior to her visit to the Library of Congress, Professor Tilley visited the University of Minnesota to use the records of the Child Study Association of America.  The records contain files documenting how the Association was caught up in Wertham's comics "witch hunt" and the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency Hearings in 1954. The Comics Code Authority, rules for industry self-censorship, was formed within CCA_Accouncement2.JPGmonths of the hearings.

Finding information on comics in the Social Welfare History Archives is a wonderful example of discovering the unexpected in Archives and Special Collections.  Many collections reflect the diverse activities and interests of the people and organizations that created them and often contain a new discovery or surprise for those who really "dig" beneath the surface. Researchers often make creative use of these sources to study topics and issues far different from the original purpose for which they were created.  


12-12 shemaylookclean.jpgThe current exhibit in the Andersen Library gallery grew out of my conversations with ASC Exhibit Design Specialist, Darren Terpstra, about parallels between current cultural attitudes towards sexuality and sex education and the themes documented in the American Social Health Association records. We had several of those short, brainstorming conversations that often happen between ASC staff in the hallways at Andersen Library and decided to produce an exhibit that brought these issues together. For over two years, we nursed our "pet project" to raise awareness about current sexual health issues while showcasing the work of the American Social Health Association (ASHA).

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Social Welfare History Archives category.

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