Estelle and Melvin Gelman LibraryEckles Library at the Mount Vernon CampusVirginia Science and Technology Campus Library

SCRC News and Notes

A New Exhibit: Our Future Goes to School Today

There is a new exhibit up on Omeka. It is a narrative history of American education told through images and anecdotes from the National Education Association collection held in Gelman Library. It includes pictures of teachers, students and schools throughout the 20th century, putting a face on one hundred years of public education. Though the exhibit has only a few pictures, there are tens of thousands more in the collection. If you find these images interesting, you can see more by visiting Gelman Library's Special Collections Research Center.


Diversity at GW: Students Present Research from the University Archives

Diversity at GWPlease join us on Wednesday, April 23 from 4-5:30 in Gelman Library, room 702 for a presentation by the four recipients of our first ever University Archives Diversity Research Fellowships. The students will discuss their research into the history of veterans, service workers, international students, and the Columbian Women organization at GW. Each student has spent many hours digging deep into the University Archives and interviewing individuals with stories to share. They are eager to share the unique histories of these groups and to describe how their experiences have shaped our present day GW community. Refreshments to follow.

For a preview of student Eden Orelove's work on the Columbian Women, see this recent GW Today article.

The University Archives Diversity Research Fellowships were generously funded by an Innovation in Diversity and Inclusion grant from the GW Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Local D.C. Political Papers at Special Collections Research Center

April 1, 2014 -- On this primary election day in Washington, D.C., the Special Collections Research Center would like to highlight our significant collections of local DC political papers. Whether you are researching neighborhood history, redevelopment, public health, gun control, statehood, or any other topic of interest in the recent history of Washington, you may find materials of interest within our collections of papers from D.C. City Council Members and Chairmen, dating to the beginning of Home Rule in 1974. Take a look at our finding aids for these collections, contact us with the boxes you'd like to see, and explore the history of the city through primary source documents:  David A. Clarke, Linda Cropp, John B. Duncan, Walter Fauntroy, Jim Graham, Carol Schwartz, Frank Smith, Jr., John A. Wilson, and Nadine Winter.


Interesting Find in the Collection: Transition in the NEA

Despite being an organization created by teachers, for its first century control of the National Education Association was firmly in the hands of administrators. A revolution began in local affiliates in the 1960s against the low wages, lack of job security and paternalism exercised by school boards and superintendents.  During the 1971 Constitutional Convention in Colorado these changes spread to the NEA itself. At Con-Con, as it was called, four major changes were proposed.  Most significant of these were a change to the membership rules and a change to the voting rules. Now individual states could decide if they wanted to limit membership to teachers alone at the expense of administrators. Elections of NEA officers would now be done by secret ballot to avoid intimidation. Although the new constitution was not ratified, it set the stage for changes that were adopted at the 1973 Representative Assembly.

As former NEA Executive Director Don Cameron puts it in his book The Inside Story of the Teacher Revolution in America, the NEA changed “in the blink of an eye” between 1965 and 1975. From a genteel professional association, it became an organization that embraced collective bargaining and confrontation to improve the status of educators.

More information can be found here.

March Collection of the Month: Digitized Historic Photos of the C&O Canal

Special Collections is pleased to announce a new set of digitized photographs of the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal, from the Thomas Hahn C&O Canal Collection. Come explore the canal from Georgetown to Cumberland, MD, as it looked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when it was still navigated by seasoned boatmen, jaunty day-trippers, and plodding mules. The photographs (part of our Special Collections Flickr site) include shots of Georgetown, Great Falls, Shepherdstown, the Paw Paw Tunnel, Williamsport, and Cumberland, among others. 

The C&O Canal was constructed between 1830 and 1850, paralleling the Potomac River westward from Washington. Original plans for the canal called for it to continue west all the way to Pittsburgh to join the Ohio River, a navigable route to the Mississippi, but this proved financially and logistically impossible. Canal trade declined with the growth and expansion of the B&O Railroad, and with several disastrous floods, until the canal was closed to traffic in 1924.

Thomas Hahn (1926-2007) was a professional industrial archaeologist and one of the world's foremost experts on the canal. The Thomas Hahn collection at the Special Collections Research Center at Gelman Library features 31 boxes of photographic negatives, slides and prints of the C&O Canal and other canals.

President's Medal Given to IBT's James P. Hoffa

On January 29, 2014, President Steven Knapp awarded International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa the George Washington University President's Medal, the highest honor the university president can bestow. Mr. Hoffa was first elected Teamsters General President in 1999, and was subsequently reelected in 2001, 2006 and 2011. At the award ceremony, IBT Communications Director Bret Caldwell introduced Mr. Hoffa, President Knapp read the award citation, and Mr. Hoffa made a brief acceptance speech, declaring that he had been the recipient of many awards but this was the one he felt proudest and most honored to receive. President Knapp and Mr. Hoffa both applauded the partnership between GW and the IBT in creating the Labor History Research Center as part of GW Libraries' Special Collections. Refreshments and a toast to Mr. Hoffa followed the formal event.

Photo: GW President Steven Knapp, left, and Teamsters' General President James P. Hoffa. Courtesy GW University Photographer.


Short History of the Washington Brewery at Navy Yard

Short History of the Washington Brewery at Navy YardSpecial Collections is pleased to note an interesting recent use of our map collection: to tell the story of beer in Washington. Literary journalist, independent historian, and GW Elliott School alum Garrett Peck has written a short history of the Washington Brewery at Navy Yard, making use of the map collection here.

Mr. Peck tells us, "Brewing has been a fundamental part of the history and culture of Washington, D.C. Beer was a staple, and brewing made potentially dangerous water potable. Brewers were once the second-largest employer in the city after the federal government." Peck described our map collection as wonderful and found it "neat n’ nerdy" to go through. This short history is a precursor to his new book, Capital Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in Washington, D.C., to be published in late February.

Interesting Find in the NEA Collection: Letters from Overseas Teachers

In 1947, the National Education Association created the Overseas Teacher Fund to help "wage the peace." Intended to help ease the financial burden of teachers in countries whose economies had been ravaged by war. Donations were given by individual teachers rather the organization itself, and encouraged by a speech given by soon-to-be NEA Executive Secretary William G. Carr, they donated $272,865.78 in the first year of its existence. In response, those teachers who were recipients of the money wrote thank you letters back. Those letters were collected together by the NEA and have now come to Gelman Library as part of their collection. If you are interested in viewing the books, they can be found in our catalog here and here. Please be aware that these books are stored in an offsite storage facility. If you are interested in looking at them, please contact Special Collections beforehand and let us know that you would like to see the volumes.

Letter from Mina Becker to Willard Givens in thank you

February Collection of the Month: Peter Sera Telecommunications Collection

Sera papersInterested in traveling back in time to the dawn of the satellite communication age? When commercial satellites were first launched into orbit, and users still needed manuals with instructions on how to properly answer the phone? Come check out the Peter H. Sera telecommunications collection at the Special Collections Research Center.

His collection includes 33 boxes of correspondence, conference materials, reports, and technical publications that document many telecommunications devices and technological systems produced from 1964-1986.

Still longing for more information? Look into the collections of Joseph Charyk, one of the founding directors of Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT), as well as Albert F. Murray, who helped launch the first successful underwater radio controlled torpedo and worked in developing early televisions.

History Lecture: "People Out of Place"

The Lost Promise of Civil RightsThe Teamsters Labor History Research Center was pleased to host a special guest lecture on January 14 sponsored by the GWU History Department entitled "People Out of Place: A Constitutional History of the Long 60s" by Dr. Risa Goluboff of the University of Virginia.

Dr. Goluboff focused on how U.S. vagrancy laws have been used to oppress and control marginalized people, and how challenges to those laws eventually resulted in their being struck from the books, particularly after a Supreme Court decision in 1972 declared them unconstitutional. Vagrancy laws were generally vague and addressed a person’s status rather than his or her behavior. After the laws were removed, states replaced them with more specific laws such as loitering with criminal intent or disorderly conduct. For more on Dr. Goluboff's work, check out Civil Rights Stories and The Lost Promise of Civil Rights, both available here at Gelman Library.