Thursday, November 15, 2018

Interning at Special Collections and University Archives


For the past two months, I have been an undergraduate intern at the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA). During the summer of 2018, I was a soon-to-be senior in the Arts Administration program at UNCG. I knew I would need to complete an internship in Arts Administration for my major, so I began looking into options in the Greensboro area. I had been fascinated by Special Collections, and benefitted from the resources they provided, since I had been at UNCG. Previous experience in museums had given me an interest in historic preservation and exhibit curation. As a double major in Arts Administration and Drama, I was interested in the extensive collections of theatre materials held by SCUA, which I had gotten a chance to glimpse during a visit with a Theatre History class.

Working with the photographs.
Since SCUA appealed to so many of my areas of interest within the field of Arts Administration, I decided to reach out via email to inquire if any internships were available. I was delighted when the answer was yes, and a little back and forth later, administrators from SCUA met with me and with my Arts Administration advisor to set the parameters of my internship. As per the requirements of the Arts Administration department, my internship supervisor and I worked out an internship contract including a time frame, learning goals, and deliverable projects. It is a semester-long internship that I commit eight hours a week to. 

Due to my focus on theatre, I was assigned to a collection donated shortly before I arrived - the Livestock Playhouse and Greensboro Children’s Theatre Collection. Working on the Livestock Playhouse Collection has been a fascinating experience. The collection was donated by Barbara Britton, a veteran director who headed both theatre programs from 1971 to 2005, and contains materials from productions from the 1970s-2000s. 
An original, hand-drawn poster for 1987's production of "Mame."

One exciting element of this collection is that these materials are in multiple formats: photographs, hand-rendered sketches for posters, audio reels, slides, and more. Not all of these materials are ones I have worked with before, so learning the different ways of handling them has been a great learning experience. It also gave me a reason to be introduced to other departments within the library.

The collection contains thousands of photos, presenting difficult storage and preservation challenges, so I visited Preservation Services to in discuss options for long-term preservation and  storage. While at preservation services, we focused on the photographs and scrapbook pages. The scrapbook pages will need the most attention, as the adhesive backing begins to degrade and harm the attached photographs.

Scrapbook page for the earliest production in the collection, "The Wizard of Oz" (1971).

For help understanding the best practices and options for dealing with the abundant audiovisual materials, like audio reels and VHS tapes, I visited the Digital Projects unit, part of the Electronics Resources and Information Technologies (ERIT) department in the Library. I loved learning about the work these departments do, and from an Arts Administration perspective, getting to know how the Library’s departments are internally organized was invaluable.

Most of all, though, what I loved about this collection is seeing how one theatre grew and changed over the course of three decades, and all the lives it touched. It is an important piece of Greensboro history to preserve, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to help do so and learn more about my field in the process. The arts go beyond just performances and exhibitions – the people who preserve the records of art happening, giving us a continuum to look back on, are part of the equation too. As an Arts Administrator, seeing the whole picture of everyone and everything keeping the arts alive is important to me. My time at SCUA has helped me do this and has made me excited to look more into careers in library science in the future.

By Audrey Dubois, UNCG Arts Administration, Spring 2019

Friday, November 9, 2018

Then & Now: Photo Restoration and Creative Responses

Please take a minute to view the wonderful new exhibit in the cases at the College Avenue Entrance and in the Lobby of Jackson Library! The exhibit is a collaborative effort between Professor Amy Purcell’s ART 344: The Digital Darkroom classes (fall 2017 and 2018) and UNCG’ Special Collection and University Archives.

Professor Purcell’s art students visited Special Collections for a presentation and a “pop-up” display of vintage cameras and historic photographs. Then, they selected three photographs from the collection and three photographs from their personal resources to study, repair, and restore. With an understanding of the craft of photo restoration, they were asked to use one image as inspiration for a creative work that responded to the restoration process and/or the content of the images.


The exhibit cases by the Reference Desk reflect how the role of photography has changed during UNCG’s 125-year history and how their position as students connects them to the university’s past.  Several students used photographs from the Dr. Anna Gove Collection. Dr. Gove was the second campus physician and an amateur photographer, who used her camera to document the college, the community of Greensboro, and her time with the Red Cross in France during World War I.



In one piece, a bombed-out cathedral is modified to include menacing clouds in the background. In a work by Alexis Brunnert, a fragment of a family photograph has been restored and colorized and, in another piece, Maryam Alamoudi changed places with the unknown woman in a tintype from Special Collections.  Kaiya Bitner’s grandmother’s walk on a beach offered inspiration to transform her into a flower fairy inspired by the infamous Cottingley fairies, and Johnny Nguyen overlays textile textures and colors as fabrics of today into an image of Duncan McIver with his students (ca. 1895). These works show an amazing range of talent, from digitally “restoring” historic images to adapting photographs in very surprising ways!


In the large case at the College Avenue entrance, Lean Bishop celebrates how the diversity of the student population defines UNCG today in her “I am UNCG” piece. The exhibit case also features an adapted image of Julia Alexander sitting on the same rock (plus many coats of paint) with sorority sisters from the 1970’s, as well as a piece by Anthony Carter that redefines the columns of the library entrance as flames of knowledge. Especially effective was the incorporation of student Peter No’s modern truck and car next to the bombed-out cathedral in France that Anna Gove photographed during the war. In another striking work, Sarah Tatum visually traces the evolution of the camera.


Please stop by both cases and see this stunning exhibit!



Friday, June 29, 2018

Nancy Drew – Girl Detective and Cultural Icon

If you have not had a chance to get by the Nancy Drew exhibit in the Jackson Library Lobby – please do so!

Perhaps more than any other book series, the Nancy Drew mysteries have captured the hearts and imagination of generations of young adults. First published in the 1930s, the books featured the adventures of the independent, plucky daughter of widowed attorney Carson Drew. With her best pals Beth Marvin and George Fayne in tow, Nancy Drew constantly finds herself in the middle of thrilling mysteries which were inevitably solved by the last chapter. The first three books were published in April 1930 and The Secret of the Old ClockThe Hidden Staircase, and The Mystery of Lilac Inn were immediate successes. By the seventh installment, Ned Nickerson is introduced as Nancy’s love interest, often tagging along on her adventures.

Nancy Drew Exhibit!

Originally penned by Mildred Benson under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene, later volumes were ghostwritten by various other authors, keeping a relatively consistent style. Through the many decades of publication, Nancy and her friends saw numerous updates. In the first books, Nancy sported pearls and pumps and drove a “roadster.” By the 2000s, her look was modernized and she drove a hybrid electric car and handily used her cell phone for quick calls and information queries. These updates have been reflected not only in the style of the characters, but also the framework of the books. In 2003, publishers Simon & Schuster concluded the format of the original series and featured her character in the new series, Girl Detective. By 2013, the publishers again changed the format of the books into The Dairies, further updating the character and her adventures.

The enduring worldwide appeal of Nancy Drew has been a result of engaging plot-lines and characters, as well as the successful marketing of the brand through the decades. Lunch boxes, cookbooks, games, and paper dolls have kept the characters active and relevant. This exhibit reflects the popularity of the Nancy Drew franchise by incorporating books and artifacts from the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

New LSTA Grant!

We're pleased to announce that UNC Greensboro University Libraries was awarded a 2018-2019 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) EZ grant. The grant provides $14,416 to support one year of work to research and develop a statewide archival processing service. This service would provide smaller cultural heritage institutions with assistance in arranging and describing their archival collections, thereby providing researchers with greater access to collections often considered “hidden.” University Archivist Erin Lawrimore wrote the successful application and will serve as the grant's principal investigator.

Through this grant, a steering committee will be formed to explore the most effective ways of providing these services as well as the scope of the future service. Guidelines to be developed through this initial project include an application process and rubric for prioritization of service requests from institutions, best practices for archival arrangement and description completed through the service, and a workflow for ingesting and sharing finding aids from institutions. Additionally, online training modules in archival management will be created to ensure that institutions benefiting from the service will be prepared to manage and provide access to their archival collections after the processing service concludes.

This grant is made possible by funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (IMLS grant number LS-00-18-0034-18).

Monday, May 14, 2018

University Archives and the McIver Building Cornerstone Time Capsule

On Friday, April 27, 2018, UNC Greensboro broke ground on its new Nursing and Instructional Building. The new 180,000-square-foot facility was made possible thanks to state funds from the Connect NC Bond, which was passed by North Carolina voters in the spring of 2016. The $105 million building is slated to open in the summer of 2020.

Chancellor Blackwell sealing the cornerstone, 1959
The new structure will sit on a site that has held a number of campus buildings over UNCG's 125 years. Most recently, the site was home to the McIver Building, which was demolished earlier this semester. Prior to demolition, a time capsule that had been placed in the McIver Building's cornerstone on October 5, 1959 was removed.

On Friday, April 20, 2018, the small copper box that served as the time capsule was opened. Sadly, the time capsule contents did not fare well against the ravages of the environment and time. Water damage and mold covered all of the materials, making them unsalvageable.

Fortunately, because the materials in the time capsule were not unique (most being published materials), the overwhelming majority of these items can be found in University Archives. Many are available for viewing online. Additional items not in University Archives can be accessed through various newspaper databases available to those with a UNCG login.

You can view the virtual version of the McIver Building Cornerstone Time Capsule here.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Organizing a Choreographed Life


Jan Van Dyke was one of the most prolific and well-known faculty members in the UNCG Department of Dance. Van Dyke had a long history with UNCG, beginning in 1989 when she received a doctorate in education.
Jan Van Dyke, ca. 1970s.
Van Dyke donated her personal and professional papers to the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives in 2014-2015. The papers were processed and made available to the public in 2017. They afford a unique glance into a life dedicated to dance.

The Jan Van Dyke Papers contain materials related to Van Dyke's personal life and professional career as a dancer, teacher, and administrator. The collection contains Van Dyke's choreography, correspondence, faculty materials, teaching materials, photographs, newspaper clippings, and video recordings. Van Dyke’s materials reach back to her earliest childhood years in the 1940s and 1950s – from a child ration book to programs and photographs from early dance recitals.

You can view the finding aid here, which gives a detailed description of the contents of the collection. 

Van Dyke (right) performing in a dance production, ca. 1950s.
Van Dyke was born in Washington, D.C., on April 15, 1941, but spent much of her early youth in Germany. From an early age, much of her energy was spent focused on dance. She attended high school in Virginia, taking dance lessons at the Washington School of Ballet.

Van Dyke earned a bachelor's degree in dance from the University of Wisconsin in 1963 and a master's degree in dance education from George Washington University. Van Dyke’s student materials, including an interesting essay on witchcraft, are included in the collection.

Most interesting, perhaps, are Van Dyke’s personal letters – to family, friends, and romantic interests. In them, Van Dyke lays out her own personal struggles to break into the dance world in New York City, the Midwest, and Washington, D.C. She is amazingly frank and forthright in her letters – expressing her feelings about the difficulties facing women in dance in the 1970s, her personal challenges, and her intense joy for life.

Van Dyke's life history is documented in her personal letters and extensive newspaper clippings, photographs, fliers, programs, and video recordings. A large portion of the materials in her collection are related to various dance groups that Van Dyke helped form, including the John Gamble/Jan Van Dyke Dance Group, Jan Van Dyke and Dancers, and the Jan Van Dyke Dance Group. These materials include original choreography, general files, photographs, fliers, programs, video recordings, and other ephemera.
First page of choreography for Van Dyke's "Spike," 1982.

While all of Van Dyke’s career is documented, another substantial portion of her collection is comprised of materials related to her time at UNCG.

During her time with the Department of Dance at UNCG, she taught a variety of courses, including technique, choreography, repertory, career management, and dance administration. In addition to teaching, Van Dyke also worked as a producer, administrator, and artist. Her choreography has been used by a variety of groups, ranging from the Washington Ballet to students at the Western Australian Academy for the Performing Arts in Perth.

Her work was supported by multiple outside agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the California Arts Council, and the D.C. Commission on the Arts and the Humanities.
Van Dyke also founded and directed the dance company Dance Project, which is responsible for the NC Dance Festival, Van Dyke Dance Group, and School at City Arts.

Van Dyke received a North Carolina Choreography Fellowship, and was a 1993 Fulbright Scholar. She has earned numerous accolades in her field, including: North Carolina Choreography Fellowship, 1993 Fulbright Scholar, North Carolina Dance Alliance Annual Award 2001, 2008 Dance Teacher Award for Higher Education from Dance Teacher Magazine, and the Betty Cone Medal of Arts Award in 2011. UNCG awarded Van Dyke the Gladys Strawn Bullard Award for leadership and service in 2010.

Van Dyke's collection is important for researchers who are interested in studying the history of dance in the United States and North Carolina. Researchers may find Van Dyke's collection particularly interesting if studying the intersection of gender and dance in the 20th century. Van Dyke's own research, writing, and choreography often dealt with gender and dance, so the materials in her collection reflect her interest.

Finally, Van Dyke was a large part of the history of UNCG. Researchers who want to track the changes in dance studies at the University will certainly encounter names that are peppered throughout the collection - Van Dyke, Gamble, Stinson, and more. Van Dyke's collection is unique because it documents her time at UNCG -- as a student, adjunct professor, full professor, and department head. 

Van Dyke passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer in July 2015.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

A Well Crafted NC Update

After a very successful launch event on April 14th at Little Brother Brewing in Downtown Greensboro, the Well Crafted NC project continues to grow. The project, which began in Fall 2017 thanks to a University Libraries Innovation and Enrichment Grant, will be expanding its documentation scope to cover the craft beer and brewing industry across North Carolina. Between 2010 and 2017, North Carolina saw the number of independent craft breweries in the state skyrocket by 445% (from 45 in 2010 to 245 in 2017). In 2016, the craft beer industry had a $2.042 billion impact on the economy (ranked 10th in the country). During this new phase of growth, Well Crafted NC will focus on collecting more oral history interviews with brewers and brewery owners in our state. The project will also continue collecting and digitizing historical records from North Carolina breweries.

An image from the Well Crafted NC launch event
Additionally, one the project leaders - University Archivist Erin Lawrimore - recently received a Faculty First Summer Scholarship Support Award from UNC Greensboro's Office of Research and Engagement. This award will support a series of oral history interviews with women brewers and brewery owners in North Carolina. This project will ensure that the voices of the women in the industry are heard, that their stories are recorded in their own words, and that they are included as a vital piece of the history of beer and brewing in our state.

The Well Crafted NC team has expanded the project's outreach and educational components as well. In addition to the launch event, Well Crafted NC did pop up exhibits at the Biere de Femme festival as well as at the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce's April Coffee and Conversation event. They will also be doing an exhibit on June 2nd at the Beer City Festival in Asheville. The project leaders recently were interviewed on the local podcast Gate City Chatter. Fox 8 News also did a feature piece on the project and the history of beer and brewing in Downtown Greensboro. Other coverage includes a front-page article in the Greensboro News & Record as well as articles in Winston-Salem Monthly, Greensboro 1808, and Western North Carolina Woman magazine.
A promotional photo from Natty Greene's,
from the Well Crafted NC collection

Well Crafted NC is a project of the UNC Greensboro University Libraries. The project coordinators are Richard Cox (Digital Technology Consultant, ERIT), David Gwynn (Digital Projects Coordinator, ERIT), and Erin Lawrimore (University Archivist, SCUA). To keep informed about the new developments with the project, you can follow Well Crafted on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. To learn how you can support the growth of the Well Crafted NC project, please see www.wellcraftednc.com/support.