Signed, Sealed, Delivered letters donated to University Archives

by: Dan Linke

With the rise of email more than 20 years ago, many have lamented the decline of the handwritten letter, but with her new book, Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing (Simon & Schuster, 2014), Nina Sankovitch has done much more than that.  Drawing on letters from across the ages, she explains why putting pen to paper can communicate much more than the thoughts and ideas on the page.

signedsealeddelivered

Inspired by a cache of letters written by a Princeton undergraduate to his parents that she uncovered in the tool shed of a dilapidated New York home she bought more than a decade ago, Sankovitch originally read the letters in small batches, as a break from the toils of mothering three young children.  Years later, with her oldest son readying himself for college, Sankovitch revisited the letters and began her mediation on the important  and wide range of human connections that letters make, using the Princeton student’s letters and their discovery as the basis for the book’s first chapter.

James B. Seligman

The letters were composed by James B. Seligman, Class of 1912. According to his Nassau Herald entry, “Jimmie” grew up in New York City, was a member of Clio, studied economics, and hoped to go into banking.  He was also Jewish (“Hebrew” in the parlance of the day), just one of five such students in a class of almost 300.  He became an independent stockbroker and a member of the New York Stock Exchange where he was a floor trader.  The February 22, 1941 New Yorker called him “one of the wittiest men on the Floor.”

That wit is reflected in his surviving letters.  Some excerpts that Sankovitch highlights in her book:

“I am getting a good college education, developing like a film, apologizing to the grass every time I step on it, scrambling like an egg, yelling like a bear, telling the upperclassmen to go to @#$ …”

 “I am once more sorry to say, with tears in my nose, and with shaking toes, etc that I didn’t pass French…Thanking you again for your kind applause, I will close as Le Student Francais.”

“Chapel was great. I never laughed so much in my life.”

And in answering what he called the “ponderous interrogations” sent by his mother: “my diet consists principally of food.  My health is fine.”

He also wrote of his classes – “Woodrow Wilson lectures to us in Jurisprudence – It is a treat to listen to him speak.”

Now Sankovitch has donated Seligman’s correspondence, consisting of about 100 letters and postcards, to the Princeton University Archives, and they will join those of other students in the Student Correspondence and Writings Collection (AC334). This collection, along with a number of others, contains the correspondence of about two dozen students ranging over three centuries, and collectively it provides insights into Princeton undergraduate life that can be found nowhere else.  The earliest letters date from 1768 and the most recent is a collection of printed emails from a member of the Class of 1997.

New Accession: Atomic-bombed Roof Tiles from Hiroshima University

The University Archives was recently given the honor and responsibility of providing a home for seven roof tiles that sustained damage in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945.  The roof tiles were collected in a river bed near ground zero of the atomic bomb explosion.

3 of the 7 tiles.

3 of the 7 tiles.

Along with the roof tiles, the donation includes photographs of the location where the tiles were recovered; booklets and pamphlets on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and documents related to the artifacts.

Hiroshima University was decimated in the atomic bomb attack— most of its students and faculty members perished and its buildings were demolished.  In the post-war period, Hiroshima University’s president Tatsuo Morito reached out to universities world-wide to help to renew the institution by sending books for its library and saplings to bring its grounds back to life.

IMG_0012IMG_0011

Princeton was among the schools that responded in 1951 by providing both a book for the library’s collection and a monetary donation for the purchase of a native tree for the campus; and now, in celebration of its 80th anniversary, Hiroshima University is reciprocating by donating these artifacts.

The roof tiles are distributed by Hiroshima University’s Association for Sending Atomic-bombed Roof Tiles in order to perpetuate awareness of the devastating effects of the atomic bombings in Japan, and to oppose the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons.  In a letter that accompanies the donation, Toshimasa Asahara, President of Hiroshima University, explains:

The threat of nuclear weapons still exists in many areas of the world.  It is our earnest desire, however, that the pain and sadness experienced in Hiroshima not be re-created anywhere else in the world.

This wish is not only the wish of those of us living today but represents the silent voices of the 240,000 Hiroshima citizens who perished from the atomic bomb.  We believe it is also the will of others such as yourselves who will work together with us to build a peaceful future for the world.

See the Atomic-bombed Roof Tiles from Hiroshima University Finding Aid

 

 

 

 

 

Mudd Manuscript Library Annual Report: Fiscal Year 2012

Mudd Manuscript Library Annual Report, FY2012

 

Summary

The staff at Mudd Library had a very successful year in 2012 with notable highlights that include:

  • Prepared for the launch of Aeon on July 1, 2012.  This required significant work from both public and technical services staff.
  • Significant work done to upgrade access tools, in particular a new finding aids site launched in beta, and other work done to prepare for integration of EAD data into Primo.
  • ACLU project completed, with almost 2,500 linear feet of records described as part of NHPRC-funded processing project.
  • In addition to ACLU, 1,800 linear feet of other policy and archives materials described, including the Harold Medina Papers.
  • The Daily Princetonian digitization completed, with the years 1876-2002 now online.
  • Dissertation submission procedure altered to provide full-text, online access via OIT’s DataSpace.
  • Hosted IMLS intern Brenda Tindal
  • Continued high level of use of collections, both in-house and remote, with great degree of patron satisfaction, with PDF requests surpassing paper copies.

Major Activities

Public Services

In the past year, the staff of the Mudd Manuscript Library served 1,686 patrons, 211 of whom had visited Mudd prior to FY12 and 678 who were new researchers. We circulated 8,531 items (2,761 University Archives boxes/items, 5,812 Public Policy Papers boxes/items, 34 Gest rare books and 14 other items). For more on particular collections used, see Appendix A: Most used Archives and Policy collections in FY2012.

Staff also filled 354 photocopy orders totaling 39,431 pages, of which 265 orders were delivered as PDF files totaling 27,338 pages and 89 orders were fulfilled on paper, totaling 12,093 pages, so a PDF continues to be the preferred method for the majority of our users.  Scanning continues to be the default method by which we provide images for patrons and last year we filled 90 orders for 266 scans.

We responded to over 1,900 pieces of correspondence (including 882 pertaining to the University Archives and 403 to the Public Policy Papers; 16 requests for permission to quote) which arrived as follows: 1,317 e-mail; 111 telephone; 23 surface mail and 1 via fax.  Individual correspondence totals:  Maureen Callahan, 64; Christa Cleeton, 7; John DeLooper, 15; Kate Dundon, 20; Lynn Durgin, 108; Dave Gillespie, 9; Adriane Hanson, 81; Dan Linke, 207; Christie Lutz, 184; Christie  Peterson, 88; Amanda Pike, 340; Dan Santamaria, 27; Brenda Tindal, 18; Kristen Turner, 35; Helene van Rossum, 5; Rosalba Recchia, 82.   The staff also responded to more than 500 brief telephone calls.

Collectively, the staff worked with 9 different classes relating to junior papers and other research/writing projects with a total of approximately 115 attendees.

In addition, a large number of visitors took advantage of Mudd’s digital camera program as 279 patrons photographed 6,419 items from our collections, totaling 73,338 images.

John DeLooper left Mudd in September to accept a reference librarian position, and in early December, Christa Cleeton joined the Mudd staff as the new SCAIV for public services (front desk position). Christa, who had previously worked at Firestone, quickly and efficiently assumed the duties of the position, from greeting and registering patrons to overseeing student workers to carrying out special projects for Dan Linke. Significantly, Christa became the coordinator for Mudd’s social media efforts, responsible for our blogs, Facebook page and Twitter feed, all of which she has energetically attended to. She has been attending the University’s Social Media SPIN meetings, and working directly with the University’s director of social media to implement best practices and draw more attention to our social media output. Christa also assisted Lisbeth Dennis in creating a Facebook page for RBSC.

The biggest change in Mudd’s public services operations this year was the implementation of the Aeon circulation management system, done in conjunction with the rest of RBSC. All Mudd staff attended training sessions in January, with Lutz, Pike and Cleeton participating in extra training and numerous meetings regarding implementation, use, and workflow issues. Full implementation took several months, but in June we conducted preliminary tests of the system, and starting in July, began using the system.  Lutz, Pike and Cleeton worked to alert current and future Mudd researchers to the changes through our website, social media outlets, and in exchanges with patrons. Both experienced and new Mudd users have been quite receptive to the new system and particularly appreciate that they can submit requests for materials prior to their arrival at Mudd. While there was some concern among staff that we must first send researchers to the Access Office in Firestone to obtain Special Collections identification cards, we have not heard many patron complaints over the need to make this extra stop. However, this stop is a temporary measure until Mudd obtains the hardware and software necessary to create the ID cards here at Mudd.

Throughout the year, we received accolades from patrons for the quality and efficiency of the reference services we provided.

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New Public Policy Accessions: May – June 2011

There’s a scene in a documentary about the French philosopher Jacques Derrida where Derrida visits UC Irvine (where he had donated his personal papers). The philosopher, going through the rows of newly-processed collections, comments that the gray archival boxes on the shelves look like little gravestones.

For someone whose best-known axiom was that "there is nothing outside the text," and who was very concerned about who has "authority" over the archive, perhaps it was somewhat distressing for Derrida to see his texts buried away in folders, boxes, shelves and behind locked doors.

It’s easy to understand this concern. In some ways, archival records are by their nature "dead" — they have been given to the archives because they’re no longer used in the course of daily business. And it’s true that most institutions keep these materials tucked away in closed stacks.

On the other hand, from my point of view as someone who processes new accessions as they come to Mudd, collections are constantly growing, re-interpreted by new context and new evidence, and given new life through the research and reference process. We care for collections so that they may find new life — all of our core activities, as an institution, are to serve researcher needs in their synthesis and analysis of the past.

In May and June of this year, most of our accessions were additions to collections we already hold — in some cases, this was an instance of a donor finding or having created additional material that rounds out our collections. In most cases, new additions to an archival collections are an opportunity to re-examine the existing collection from a new point of view.

We hope that this will be the case with our newest additions. Here is a list of what we received in May and June:

[ML.2011.015] Photocopy of Douglas Linder Article
[ML.2011.016] Photographs and correspondence to William H. Kellenberger from John Foster Dulles
[ML.2011.017] Women’s World Banking Records
[ML.2011.019] Chalmers Benedict Wood Papers
[ML.2011.021] George S. McGovern Photographs and Letters
[ML.2011.022] Marten van Heuven Writings and Correspondence
[ML.2011.023] Woodrow Wilson Letter
[ML.2011.025] Kennett Love Papers

New Public Policy Accessions: July 2010 – March 2011

One of Mudd’s newest accessions, the Kristen Timothy Papers, finds itself in good company with other Mudd collections documenting individuals who have had profound influence in the United Nations, including the papers of Margaret Snyder, Regional Advisor of the

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa; Henry R. Labouisse, Director of UNRWA and Executive Director of UNICEF; David A. Morse, Director-General of the ILO; and many other luminaries.

Timothy organized the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. The conference addressed enduring inequalities for women and girls across the world. Timothy was instrumental in outlining the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which were adopted by consensus on 15 September 1995.

Timothy’s records include audio-visual materials (much of which is available online), records regarding the creation of the platform for action, materials created in preparation for and during the conference, and a series of Timothy’s research records on the history of the global women’s movement.

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New Accessions: April-June 2010

The Mudd Manuscript Library received 12 public policy accessions and 30 University Archives accessions between April and June 2010.

The public policy collections received significant additions to the American Civil Liberties Union Records and the Council on Foreign Relations Records. In addition, a wonderful surprise was the receipt of Woodrow Wilson’s and Edith Bolling Galt’s marriage license, 1915. The item was donated by Mr. Barry C. Keenan of Granville, OH, who also confessed to having caused the green ink stain on the document as a ten-year-old.

Wilson marriage license

On the University Archives side, the Library received the papers of two important Princeton figures– Dr. Carl. A. Fields and Dean Mathey.
Educator and advocate of minority education, Dr. Carl A. Fields was assistant dean of student aid at Princeton University and later served in various other leadership positions outside the University. The Carl A. Fields Papers consist of correspondence, reports, research material on race relations and minority education, handwritten notes, project proposals, and other papers that document his life and active career. An online finding aid for this collection is available at: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/5138jd936.
Dean Mathey, Class of 1912, was a member of the Board of Trustees and an ardent supporter of the University. The collection documents Mathey’s familial relationships, his service to Princeton, his tennis career and other activities from his undergraduate days to the end of his life. A finding aid is for this collection is in process.
The following is a complete list of materials that were accessioned between April and June of 2010. As always, if you would like additional information about these materials, please contact us through our general email account at mudd@princeton.edu.

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New Accessions: January through March 2010, Part II

In January, the University Archives acquired a lecture notebook penned by Elijah Rosengrant (1776-1832). The notebook was written in the spring of 1791 for John Witherspoon’s course "Lectures on Moral Philosophy." The significance of the notebook derives not only from its documentation of President Witherspoon as a faculty lecturer and of the pedagogical technique of the college in the 18th century, but also from the fact that Elijah Rosengrant was not enrolled as a student in the College of New Jersey (as Princeton was then known). In fact, Rosengrant was a student of Queen’s College (now Rutgers University), Class of 1791, in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

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New Accessions: January through March 2010, Part I

The Mudd Manuscript Library received 8 public policy accessions and 31 University Archives accessions between January and March 2010.

In January, the Library purchased a rare pamphlet written in Yiddish supporting Woodrow Wilson’s bid for reelection 1917. The pamphlet is one of only a handful of Yiddish-language Wilsoniana known to exist (accession number ML.2010.003).

Wilson%20Pamphlet

In addition, in March the Library purchased a personal notebook by James Forrestal containing records of meetings and conversations as well as Forrestal’s thoughts on current events for the year 1949. The notebook, which is typed but contains a number of handwritten items, seamlessly complements Mudd’s prior holdings of Forrestal’s diaries. It is especially noteworthy because Forrestal was in the habit of typing even his personal notes, making this one of the scarce examples of Forrestal’s handwriting (accession number ML.2010.008).

Forrestal%20Notebook

Coming soon in New Accessions, Part II will be an accessions highlight from the University Archives– the Elijah Rosengrant Lecture Notebook, 1791.

The following is a complete list of materials that were accessioned between January through March 2010. As always, if you would like additional information about these materials, please contact us through our general email account mudd@princeton.edu.

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New Accessions: October – December 2009

The Mudd Manuscript Library received seven public policy accessions and 31 University Archives accessions between October and December 2009.

One of the highlights is an architectural rendering of Commencement Hall (now called Alexander Hall) that was published in American Architect and Building News on December 12, 1891. The rendering was created prior to the building’s construction, which began in 1892, in accordance with architect William A. Potter’s design.

First occupied in 1894, Alexander Hall was built to accommodate commencement exercises and other large gatherings. Today, the Romanesque-style structure is one of Princeton’s most recognizable buildings and it is home to the Richardson Auditorium concert hall.

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Commencement Hall, architectural rendering, 1891, AR.2009.111.

The following is a complete list of materials that were accessioned between October and December of 2009. As always, if you would like additional information about these materials, please contact us through our general email account mudd@princeton.edu.

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New Accessions: July through September 2009

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The accessions from this period include the results of a 30th Reunion Survey of the Class of ’76 [AR.2009.060]. This accession is one of a growing number of materials that come to the University Archives solely in digital format. Some digital accessions are born-digital (items that originated in digital format) and some are digitized by donors before arriving at the archives. They come to the archives in variety of ways: on a storage media such as CDs, DVDs, or external hard drives, or they are simply emailed to us as a file attachment.

The Mudd Manuscript Library is continually working to find effective ways to deliver digital content to patrons. Many of our digital accessions are made available to the public by linking them directly to our online finding aids. The 30th Reunion Survey Results for the Class of ’76, for example, is linked to the Class Records finding aid in the contents list under “Class of 1976″ (see illustration above). Another example of born-digital materials that are accessible through an online finding aid are the Tiger Family Hockey Newsletters. A recent addition to our Public Policy Papers holdings, the World Press Freedom Committee Records, included nearly 1.5 gigabytes of files sent to us on a 4 gigabyte flash drive. Though the records are not fully processed, the electronic files are available via the online finding aid for the collection thanks to an agreement with World Press Freedom Committee.

The following is a complete list of materials that were accessioned July through September this year. As always, anyone interested in additional information about these materials should contact the library through our general email account mudd@princeton.edu.

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