Friday, December 17, 2010

Penn State Holiday Quiz 2010

Blue Band at halftime in 1952
The Penn State Blue Band, "green" report cards and Shields Building are all part of the 2010 edition of the annual Penn State holiday quiz, a 12-question challenge from the office of University Relations.

We get questions just like these at the reference desk every day -- test your Nittany knowledge by taking the quiz here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tim Babcock's First Podcast for the Fred Waring Archives

Follow the link to I-Tunes University, wherein Tim shares an excerpt from one of Fred Waring's classic Christmas-themed television shows!

Friday, November 19, 2010

New exhibit: “Selections from the Allison-Shelley Collection”

Special Collections Library
Through January 24, 2011

The Allison-Shelley Collection of German Literature in Translation, which was bequeathed to the University Libraries in 1972 by the late Professor Philip Allison Shelley, provides opportunities for the study of the literary and cultural influences of the German-speaking nations of Europe on England and the United States. The exhibition features highlights from the collection’s strengths in children’s literature and fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, German toys and games made for export, early appearances of the Christmas tree, and documentation of the lives and traditions of Pennsylvania Germans.

Of special interest are items from a recent gift to Rare Books and Manuscripts of nearly 300 editions and translations of Struwwelpeter, a 19th-century children’s tale by Heinrich Hoffmann, which has delighted children on both sides of the Atlantic for 165 years. Struwwelpeter, whose title character is a boy who does not groom himself properly, is a highly exaggerated morality tale in which badly behaved children come to bad ends.  Hoffmann (1809–1894), a German psychiatrist, wrote and illustrated the book for his own children.

Since its first publication in 1845, the book has been popular with children throughout Europe and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. (In English the character is sometimes known as “Slovenly Peter” or “Shock-Headed Peter.”) The story has inspired many political parodies, including Struwwelhitler, published in 1941. There are also a great number of imitators, including variations for girls (such as Struwwelpaula) and even animal versions.

The new collection is the generous gift of Marion Herzog-Hoinkis of Frankfurt, Germany, whose late husband, Gerhard Hertz Herzog, was the director of the Struwwelpeter Museum in Frankfurt am Main. The Herzog collection contains editions that were published during Heinrich Hoffmann’s lifetime, but there are also dozens of 20th-century editions and translations, including many in regional German dialects. The gift nearly doubles the size of the Struwwelpeter holdings of the Allison-Shelley Collection. A major exhibition on Struwwelpeter will be held in the spring of 2012.

For more information about the exhibition or the Allison-Shelley Collection, contact Sandra Stelts by email ( or phone (814-863-5388).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Taking Our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives" released Oct. 2010

"This report provides the detailed findings from a 2009 OCLC Research survey of 275 institutions across the U.S. and Canada to determine norms across the community and to provide data to support decision making and priority setting."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Everything You Wanted to Know About Penn State History - Now You Can Ask"

Monday Oct. 11 2:30-3:30 Mann Assembly Room

When were the first classes in computer science offered at Penn State? Who was Penn State's first astronaut? Did Donald Bellisario (creator of Magnum, P.I., Quantum Leap, JAG, NCIS) really graduate from Penn State?  Who is James Beaver and why is the stadium named for him? Isn't Waring Hall named for Fred Waring? What does it mean to be a Land Grant College? Why doesn't University Park appear on a GPS system? Was the 1940 PSU vs. Navy track meet moved to State College from Annapolis to prevent African-American runner Barney Ewell from competing at the Naval Academy?

Jackie Esposito, University Archivist, will provide the answers to these questions and more.  Don't forget to bring your questions about Penn State history.

Bring Your Refillable Mug
Refreshments will be served.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Two New Resources Showcase African-American Achievements at Penn State

Members of the "Mighty Gamma Nu" chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, Penn State's first predominantly African-American fraternity, in 1948. 

Penn State held a Black Alumni Reunion on September 10, and the University Archives contributed to two projects celebrating this event.

A website entitled “African-American Chronicles, Black History at Penn State,” can be viewed at The website was put together by Penn State Public Broadcasting and also includes contributions from the Office of Educational Equity, the Africana Research Center, the Penn State Alumni Association, the Department of African and African American Studies, and the Black Alumni Reunion Committee.

An exhibition entitled “The Divine Nine: Celebrating Diversity at Penn State,” will be on display at the Hintz Family Alumni Center until December 31, 2010. The Divine Nine includes fraternities Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Phi Beta Sigma, and Iota Phi Theta; and sororities Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, and Sigma Gamma Rho. More information about the exhibit can be found at

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Penn State Libraries' Open House, Sept. 14 &15, 10am-6pm

Every year the libraries host a big extravaganza of an open house to greet new students and introduce them to our numerous, varied and fascinating resources! You can find out more about open house, including watching a short video, here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Irving Louis Horowitz-Transaction Publishers Archives goes online

Excerpt from the official press release:

Few, if any, archival resources can claim as complete and wide-ranging a documentary record for American academic publishing in the social sciences over the past half century than the Irving Louis Horowitz-Transaction Publishers Archives, 1939-2009. According to William L. Joyce, Penn State's Dorothy Foehr Huck chair and head of special collections, "This archive of well over 100 cubic feet of materials documents the expansion of social science research and publication from the 1960s into the first decade of the 21st century as it also illustrates the widening focus of the social sciences on important public policy issues."

View the collection at:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Joseph Priestley Collection Digitized

The newest name on the list of the Libraries’ digitized collections is Joseph Priestley, the 18th-century English clergyman, political theorist, radical thinker, and physical scientist who played pivotal roles in the invention of ecosystem science, the founding of the Unitarian Church, and the intellectual development of the U.S. Best known as the scientist who discovered oxygen, he also made major contributions in the fields of education and philosophy. The digital site displays Priestley's correspondence with Josiah Wedgwood and others; two holograph drafts of his memoirs, his Last Will and Testament, an account book, his Birmingham Library card, and his property inventory. In addition to the papers, the digitized collection contains a unique item: the Priestley Memorial Scrapbook, compiled in 1875 and containing mounted photographs of posed groups of the scientists in attendance in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, at a celebration known as the Centennial of Chemistry, which was the first important gathering of chemists held in the United States. The group later became known as the American Chemical Society.

Consult the site at

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Special Collections Contributes to Bloomsbury Artists Exhibition

Twenty-eight items from the holdings of Rare Books and Manuscripts are currently on display at the Palmer Museum of Art in the exhibition “A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections,” on display through September 26, 2010. Among the materials on loan from Special Collections are letters by Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, and Roger Fry. Also included is a selection of books by the Bloomsbury literati with cover art and illustrations designed by their artist colleagues such as Vanessa Bell.  Published by the Hogarth Press, these volumes augment the exhibition’s exploration of the relationship between art and literature in this group of 20th-century moderns.

For more information about the Bloomsbury exhibition, see

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Corsets and Cameras: Photography, Bicycling, and the New Woman in Turn-of-the-Century America"

A gallery talk by Miranda Hofelt, Ph.D. candidate, the University of Chicago, and lecturer at the Art Institute of Chicago

Thursday, September 2, 1010 at 4:30pm
Foster Auditorium (Paterno Library, first floor)

The talk will be held in conjunction with a new exhibition in the Heinz K. and Bridget A. Henisch Photo-History Collection Exhibition Room, 201A Pattee Library. The exhibition includes photographs, postcards, books, periodicals, advertisements, and other original documents that highlight the advent of the New Woman onto the American scene in the 1890s. Young, active, fashionable, adventurous, and often unescorted, the so-called New Woman took advantage of the mobility, freedom, and independence offered by the cycling and camera crazes that swept the American scene at the end of the 19th century. Special topics in Miranda Hofelt's lecture include the technological debut of the safety bicycle and the hand-held Kodak camera; representations of the New Woman in advertising to sell the equipment and gear developed by manufacturers; parodies of the New Woman that underscored the danger of leaving their "proper" homes by going awheel and Kodaking; and the interrelationship of the New Woman, cycling, and photography as symbols of liberty and modernity. The lecture is free and open to the public.

The items in the exhibition were selected from the holdings of the Henisch Photo-History Collection and Rare Books and Manuscripts by guest curator Miranda Hofelt, who was co-curator of a recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, "Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage" and co-author of an exhibition catalog of the same title. She has taught courses at the University of Chicago and the University of Pittsburgh.

The Henisch Photo-History Collection Exhibition Room is located off the Paterno Family Humanities Reading Room and is accessible to the public during the hours of operation of the University Libraries. The exhibition will be on display through December 31, 2010.

Friday, August 20, 2010

New websites for Special Collections and all Penn State Libraries

Penn State University Libraries have launched a new website, based on extensive usability testing and user feedback, and meant to make services and resources more accessible and discoverable to students, faculty and staff.

At the same time, Special Collections needed to migrate dozens of projects done over the past decade into the new content management system. We used the opportunity to make our top-level pages more attractive, and hopefully better organized for our users. In addition, we added an online tutorial and tour.

We're still working out a few kinks here and there, but if you are interested, please take a look and tell us what you think! We'll be doing user studies later in the fall semester.

Friday, July 2, 2010

University Archives Exhibit, "Back in the Day: Student Traditions at Penn State"

This very entertaining exhibit will be on display June 1–September 20, 2010, in The Eberly Family Special Collections Library, 104 Paterno Library. Exhibit hours are Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. (closed July 5).

Read more (and see more images) at the Penn State Alumni Library website.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Online Exhibit: Selections from the F.S. Lincoln Photograph Collection

The F.S. Lincoln photograph collection from our Historical Collections and Labor Archives unit contains approximately 10,000 original negatives and proof prints. During the course of his forty-year career in commercial photography, Lincoln (1894-1976) established himself as one of the most influential and widely respected architectural photographers in America. This collection was donated in 1973, after Lincoln’s retirement to Centre Hall (Pa.).

“Selections from the Fay S. Lincoln Photograph Collection” features views of 1930s Manhattan and New York Harbor, Lincoln’s travels in France, and sculpture by the Japanese artist Isamu Noguchi. The physical exhibit will be on display at the Hintz Family Alumni Center, on Penn State’s University Park campus, from June 9–September 8, 2010. Click here for the online version of the exhibit.

For more information, contact James Quigel at 814-863-3181.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Medieval Society Event

From Sandy Stelts, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts:
Please join us for an event organized by student members of the Penn
State Medieval Society on Thursday, April 29, from 4:30 to 6:00 in the
Mann Assembly Room. The students will mount a temporary exhibition of
medieval manuscripts and facsimiles from the holdings of Rare Books
and Manuscripts.

At 5:00 Professor Jeanne Krochalis of Penn State New Kensington will
talk about the evolution of medieval Latin palaeography and scripts,
using examples from the items on display.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Archivist of the United States is now a blogger.

David Ferriero (Fair-ree-o) is th 10th Archivist of the United States. He now blogs at AOTUS: Collector in Chief.  (Subtitle:The Archivist’s Take on Transparency, Collaboration, and Participation at the National Archives). His most recent post is on NASA's new online project, "Be a Martian". Check it out!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Penn State Special Collections on the Web

I just recently realized that I have not used this blog to spread the word about our new Finding Aid Search Page.

[You can click the link above, or from our departmental website look under the left-hand navigation bar for "Search Collections".]

For those who aren't big users of archival terminology, Richard Pearce-Moses' handy Glossary defines a finding aid as:

n. ~ 1. A tool that facilitates discovery of information within a collection of records. – 2. A description of records that gives the repository physical and intellectual control over the materials and that assists users to gain access to and understand the materials.

You can search the finding aid titles only, or full text. It ain't perfect, foks, but it's a darn sight better than nothing! (We are currently generating HTML finding aids from our in-house database, but I'm hoping we'll get a new database and EAD finding aids in the near-ish future.)

In addition to this handy new search page, I'd also like to spread the word about some of our digital collections. Thanks to the hard-working staff of the University Archives, we're able to answer many  reference questions by simply referring our patrons to the digital versions of the Penn student newspaper (the Collegian) the Penn State yearbook (LaVie), and blueprints of campus buildings.

But the University Archives isn't the only Special Collections unit putting collections on the Web. The Historical Collections and Labor Archives unit has posted audio excerpts from oral histories and air war video footage from the 8th Air Force Collection; and the Rare Books and Manuscripts unit has created an online exhibit of Pennsylvania German Broadsides and Fraktur.

(These are just a few selections from Penn State University Libraries' digital content, more of which can be found here.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Radio Park Elementary Students Visit Special Collections!

University Archivist Jackie Esposito and other Special Collections staff, including Jeanette Eisenhart, Robyn Dyke, Paul Karwacki, Ann Holt, and Katelynd Bucher, welcomed two groups of visitors from Radio Park Elementary, 1st and 2nd graders, on Thursday, March 18 and Friday, March 19.

The groups arrived in the morning, gathered in the Mann Assembly Room, proceeded through a brief State College History overview, took a tour of Special Collections, then created their own "State College is My Home Town" poster to take home with them. Their adventure concluded with a visit to the stuffed Nittany Lion in the Library lobby, and on Friday with a surprise visit from the Nittany Lion mascot!

Jackie believes that "you can never start raising a good archivist too young". I believe that the following pictures will add some much-needed cuteness to your day!

Friday, March 5, 2010

"Ten Commandments for Special Collections Librarians in the Digital Age" by Jackie Dooley

This article, printed in the Spring 2009 issue of RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage, made my heart swell with gratitude at many points.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Penn State Audio-Visual Collections

Today the awesome team of Paul Dzyak, Eileen Akin, Paul Karwacki, and Emily Esposito delivered a highly educational presentation on the audio-visual materials in the Penn State University Archives.

Did you know that PSUA houses approximately 34,000 audio items and 26,500 moving images? Audio formats vary from discs to cassettes to tapes to digital; and moving image formats vary from videotape to film to digital. Many of these items can be found in the Fred Waring Archive and Intercollegiate Athletics collection, but A/V items can also be found in collections from WPSU, Public Information, and others.

A/V materials must be carefully preserved in a cool, dark space, and we have a special room featuring a controlled environment and movable shelves in which to keep them. These items also require specific (often outmoded) equipment to enable patron use, which is why we have an A/V room equipped with not only a DVD player, but VHS, U-matic , and reel-to-reel players as well.

PSUA staff have been working steadily for several years to get all A/V items digitized, however, this is a slow process (conversion is done in real-time), and due to specialized equipment needs and a shortage of staff time, sometimes we do have to utilize outside vendors, which can be quite expensive. For example, the average cost to convert just one 16mm reel to DVD ranges from $200 to $300.

The PSUA audio-visual team referred us to 3 websites for further information on the preservation and digitization of A/V materials:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Steven Herb To Discuss Lynd Ward on March 24

Great news! Because severe winter weather may have prevented some of you from attending his February 10 talk about the influence of Lynd Ward's work on the development of graphic novels and on the mid-20th Century revolution in children’s literature in the United States-- Steven Herb has agreed to give another talk on March 24, at 4:30 p.m. in the Mann Assembly Room, 103 Paterno Library, University Park.  

Presentation on Archival Arrangement and Description

I just discovered, which will let me share with you the PowerPoint I've been delivering for my library colleagues on archival arrangement and description. Apparently you can also record yourself and upload the audio file, so I'll have to experiment with that soon.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Howard Zinn (1922-2010)

Howard Zinn, historian and author of The People's History of the United States, passed away yesterday.

In his honor, I am linking to one of his speeches, "Secrecy, Archives, and the Public Interest."

An excerpt:

I have only two proposals for archivists: One, that they engage in a campaign to open all government documents to the public. If there are rare exceptions, let the burden of proof be on those who claim them, not as now on the citizen who wants information. And two, that they take the trouble to compile a whole new world of documentary material, about the lives, desires, needs, of ordinary people. Both of these proposals are in keeping with the spirit of democracy, which demands that the population know what the government is doing, and that the condition, the grievances, the will of the underclasses become a force in the nation.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fred Waring Collection Podcast

The first podcast of the Fred Waring Collection is available for your listening pleasure on iTunes!

Simply open iTunes, choose iTunes Store and type Fred Waring in the search box.

Cursor down to the bottom of the page and you will be able to click on the Podcast.

If you have any trouble finding it, let me know. Feel free to give me your comments and suggestions. I will be posting a new Podcast every month.


Storyteller Without Words—An Early Graphic Novelist

Original gouache illustration for The Biggest Bear, which won the Caldecott Medal in 1953 as the best illustrated children’s book in the United States.

"Storyteller without Words," an exhibit of Lynd Ward's work, is on display January 11 to May 7, 2010, in The Special Collections Library, 104 Paterno Library.

Ward (1905–1985) created his first graphic novel, Gods’ Man: A Novel in Woodcuts in 1929. This was also the first novel-length story told in wood engravings to be published in the United States. The exhibit includes prints from Ward’s graphic novels, original illustrations for his children’s books The Silver Pony and The Biggest Bear, as well as the original woodblocks for Ward’s 1934 illustrations for Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus.

Recent gifts of the work of Ward to Penn State University Libraries' Rare Books and Manuscripts are from Robin Ward Savage, daughter of the late Lynd Ward; her sister, Nanda Ward; and other members of the Ward family. This body of work enhances the Libraries' already strong holdings in fine printing, printmaking techniques, children’s books, graphic novels, and original artwork for illustrated books.

The exhibit is open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m, and Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On February 10, at 4:30 pm in the Mann Assembly Room, 103 Paterno Library, University Park, Steven Herb will speak about the influence of Lynd Ward’s work on the development of graphic novels and on the mid-20th Century revolution in children’s literature in the United States. Dr. Herb is head of the Education and Behavioral Sciences Library at Penn State and director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book in Library of Congress sponsored in Pennsylvania by Penn State University Libraries. The talk is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Sandra Stelts, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, (814-863-5388).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Archival Haiku!

Haiku—a Japanese poetry form using five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables—was a featured segment in the “Archives After Hours: The Light, Literary, and Lascivious Side of Archives” session at “Sustainable Archives: AUSTIN 2009."

Click the link above to read more than 50 haiku written by archivists about our profession.

"The Preservation of Born-Digital Literary Archives" by Ben Goldman


"What becomes apparent after reviewing the literature on digital preservation and personal archives is not that we lack the technical processes or expertise to maintain the growing universe of digital documents, but that doing so: a) requires far more advanced skills than are currently possessed by many practicing archivists, and b) necessarily has an impact on the authenticity of a document."

Click on the title (above) to access the full article.