Call for Applications for 2022-2023 Alexander N. Charters Adult Education Grants-In-Aid Program

The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) at Syracuse University Libraries is accepting applications now through January 14, 2022, for the Alexander N. Charters Adult Education Grants-in-Aid program. The grant, up to $5,000 depending on the proposal, is awarded to scholars or practitioners doing research using SCRC’s adult education collections.

Alexander N. Charters (1916-2018) was an internationally recognized American expert in the field of adult and continuing education. Syracuse University Libraries has assembled historical documents and University records, including manuscript, print, visual and media materials related to adult education since 1949. This material is known collectively as the Alexander N. Charters Library for Educators of Adults, in recognition of Dr. Charters’ efforts in promoting and expanding SCRC’s adult education holdings. Through the generosity of Dr. Charters, SCRC offers annual grants to one or more scholars or practitioners wishing to do research using SCRC’s adult education collections with the amount of the award dependent on the scope of the research outlined in the applicant’s proposal.

Details on the application process are available on the Libraries’ website at https://library.syr.edu/scrc/programs/grants.php.


Special Collections Research Center’s Newest Exhibition: “Explore and Connect”

Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center’s (SCRC) newest exhibition, “Explore and Connect: Selections from the Special Collections Research Center,” spotlights a curated selection of rare and archival materials which offer a small window into the possibilities that abound within the world of archival research. The primary sources represented in this exhibit span over 4,000 years of the human experience from the 21st century BCE to the 21st century CE and embody the diverse breadth of individual expression throughout time. Subject areas represented include broadcasting and journalism, activism and publishing, New York state history and reform, Syracuse University history and the Pan Am Flight 103/Lockerbie Air Disaster, early written and printed material, art, architecture and design, and music and recorded sound.

Engaging with SCRC’s rare and archival collections allows students, faculty, and researchers to explore and question historical evidence and testimonies while connecting with the innovative and enduring ways people have communicated, documented their experiences, and recorded personal memories throughout history. “Explore and Connect” is on display on the 6th floor of Bird Library in the main gallery and the Robert Ortwine Gallery until January 2022.

SCRC is a vibrant research and learning environment for Syracuse University students, faculty, staff, and the local and world-wide communities, providing access to Syracuse University’s world-renowned rare and archival collections and expert guidance in their use to facilitate personal discovery and the creation of new knowledge. For more information about SCRC, including open hours, collections, and services, please visit https://library.syr.edu/scrc/.


Special Collections Research Center Contributes to University of Toronto Art Museum Exhibition on Plastics

Multiple artifacts from Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center’s (SCRC) Plastics Artifact Collection are currently on display in the University of Toronto Art Museum exhibition titled, “Plastic Heart: Surface All the Way Through.” This exhibition, open from September 8 through November 20, 2021,draws on the existing work of the Synthetic Collective, an interdisciplinary collaboration of visual artists, cultural workers, and scientists based in Canada. The exhibition features data visualizations, artworks created by the Synthetic Collective in response to their research, as well as new commissions by contemporary artists from the Great Lakes Region. Also included in the exhibition are historical installations, including the artifacts on loan from SCRC, and objects that used early plastics that are now degrading, evoking questions of conservation and preservation in museum culture. This exhibition spotlights the connections between scientific and artistic methodologies and challenges the viewer to explore how arts-based approaches to thinking and working can make viable contributions to environmental science and activism.

SCRC’s Curator of Plastics and Historical Artifacts, Courtney Asztalos, will be participating in the “Plastic Heart” exhibition public programming as a member of the panel discussion “Dialogue # 3: The Plastic Conservation Conundrum: Preserving Plastics in Museum Collections and Plastics’ Durability in the Environment” on Wednesday, October 13, 6pm–7:30pm EDT. Asztalos says, “The Synthetic Collective’s groundbreaking work in their experimental exhibition “Plastic Heart: Surface All the Way Through” brings necessary awareness to the plastics lifecycle in exhibition-making, art and collections while proposing exciting alternative models and methods forward for change. I am thrilled to participate in a conversation on how plastic cultural artifacts within the context of special collections pose unique challenges and opportunities, emphasizing how SCRC’s plastics collections are rich resources for researchers and artists to investigate for activism, and unearth for the creation of new scholarship and artmaking. As a special collections curator, I am committed to bringing greater awareness to the broader public about how our collections can support innovation, change and agency within our current global plastics pollution crisis.”

“The Plastics Collection”, initially conceptualized as an umbrella term for the plastics-related collections at SCRC, serves as a research and programming resource to advance the study and understanding of plastics in modern society. These collections include manuscripts, photographs, time-based media, books, periodicals and over 5,000 plastic objects produced from the late 19th century to the present day. To learn more about the SCRC’s collections in this subject area, please visit https://library.syr.edu/scrc/collections/areas/plastics.php.

More information regarding the Plastic Heart exhibition, public programming and registration information can be found at https://artmuseum.utoronto.ca/exhibition/plastic-heart/.

Image of Courtney Asztalos, curator of Plastics and Historical Artifacts, superimposed on Plastic Heart exhibition. Image credit: Synthetic Collective


Libraries Award Grants for 2022-2023 Faculty Fellows

Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) has awarded two Faculty Fellows grants for the 2022-2023 academic year. Sarah Fuchs, Assistant Professor of Music History and Cultures in the Department of Art & Music Histories (College of Arts and Sciences), and Doug Dubois, Associate Professor in the Department of Transmedia (College of Visual and Performing Arts), have each committed to a four-week summer residency in 2022 at SCRC that includes workshops and training sessions on handling special collections materials, teaching students how to search for materials, and the logistics of designing successful assignments with rare and fragile materials. The Fellows, who applied and were selected by a committee, will use their learnings and materials from SCRC to teach new courses the following year.

Each Faculty Fellow will receive a $5,000 stipend, made possible by a generous gift from  George Bain G’06, a member of the Library Associates. “Supporting SCRC Faculty Fellows advances both faculty teaching and student scholarship and integrates Special Collections into the curriculum, a wonderful way to introduce today’s students to the riches of special collections,” said George Bain. The original funding for the SCRC Faculty Fellows Program was made possible through the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, which promotes the advancement and perpetuation of humanistic inquiry and artistic creativity by encouraging excellence in scholarship and in the performing arts, and by supporting research libraries and other institutions that transmit our cultural heritage.

Sarah Fuchs plans to further develop a regularized course by exploring and directly incorporating SCRC’s various historic sound recordings and playback machines within the teaching framework of the history of recorded sound. Doug Dubois will revise and expand a special topics course utilizing several of SCRC’s photographic collections to build a critical framework for the study and practice of portraiture.

Syracuse University Libraries’ SCRC Faculty Fellows program aims to support innovative curriculum development and foster new ideas about how to transform the role of special collections in University instruction. Each fellow receives instruction on how to provide students with a unique opportunity to handle, analyze and interpret SCRC’s primary source materials in their class, as well as ongoing course support. For more information about how to support a Faculty Fellow for the 2023-2024 year and beyond, contact Ron Thiele at rlthiele@syr.edu or 315-560-9419.


“The Art of Recovering Black History”; A Discussion with P. Gabrielle Foreman, 2021 Watson Professor

P. Gabrielle Foreman, the 2021 Jeannette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Humanities, will participate in a virtual discussion with Petrina Jackson, Director of Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, on Friday, October 22 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on the topic “Go Back and Get It: The Art of Recovering Black History.” Those interested in attending can register in advance

The conversation will be organized around relevant images of Black activism and women in the 19th century from objects in Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center. Approaching these historical materials from both sides of the desk–as an archivist and a researcher– Foreman and Jackson will examine archival silences and possibilities for uncovering and documenting Black activism over time.   

This discussion is one in a series of Syracuse University Humanities Center planned public activities for Fall 2021. Other events featuring P. Gabrielle Foreman this fall include:

Foreman has a long-standing commitment to the intersection of Black digital humanities, race, and public history. She  is co-director of the Center for Black Digital Research/#DigBlk, professor of English, African American Studies and History, and Paterno Family Chair of Liberal Arts at Pennsylvania State University. She is also founding director of The Colored Conventions Project and senior Library Fellow and affiliate faculty at The University of Delaware.

The Jeannette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Humanities was established by the Watson family to support on-campus residencies of prominent humanities scholars, writers and artists.

This year’s residency is hosted by Dorri Beam, Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of English; Joan Bryant, Associate Professor of African American Studies; Petrina Jackson, Director of the Special Collections Research Center; and Patricia Roylance, Associate Professor of English. It is supported by the Jeannette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Humanities initiative of the Syracuse University Humanities Center.


New Digital Exhibition Featuring the Story of The Syracuse 8

Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center recently released a new digital exhibition titled “A Courageous Stand: The Story of the Syracuse 8.” The Syracuse 8 was a group of Black student-athletes who boycotted the Syracuse University football program until it addressed their allegations of racism in 1970. Miscounted by the media, the Syracuse 8, comprising Greg Allen, Richard Bulls, John Godbolt, Dana “D.J.” Harrell, John Lobon, Clarence “Bucky” McGill, A. Alif Muhammad, Duane Walker, and Ron Womack, made their stand at a significant personal cost. However, they made their mark on Syracuse University history by serving as a voice for social justice. The digital exhibition is available online: https://digitalexhibits.syr.edu/syracuse8/.

Curated by University Archivist Meg Mason, “A Courageous Stand: The Story of the Syracuse 8” includes photographs, correspondence, newspapers, student protest fliers, and other documents from the Syracuse University Archives. Different perspectives and voices are included in this exhibition, including the members and allies of the Syracuse 8 as well as Chancellor John Corbally and Coach Ben Schwartzwalder.

“Fifty-one years later, sharing the story of The Syracuse 8 through these primary source materials available from the University Archives in the Special Collection Research Center provides clarity and context on the struggle of students against racism,” said Petrina Jackson, Director of Special Collections Research Center. “Looking through archives is a way to not only reflect but to understand current circumstances.”

As part of this year’s Coming Back Together reunion of Black and Latino/a alumni at Syracuse University, organizers are planning a celebration of the 51st Anniversary of the Syracuse 8 with special guests.


2021 Brodsky Series for the Advancement of Library Conservation Lecture to Feature Digital Archivist Monique Lassere

Monique Lassere, Digital Archivist at Houghton Library, Harvard University, will present at Syracuse University Libraries’ annual Brodsky Series for the Advancement of Library Conservation. Lassere’s virtual lecture, titled Translating Bits: Maintaining (Born-)Digital Heritage, will be held via Zoom on Monday, May 3 from 1:00-2:00 pm EST. The lecture will discuss born-digital preservation, a nascent but growing area of work in academic and cultural heritage institutions. Lassere will interrogate how born-digital materials and the surrogate materials that constitutes born-digital objects require a reframing of physicality to understand and initiate proper methods for long-term stewardship. This includes strategies such as information maintenance, file format migration, and emulation. All are welcome to attend the public lecture with advance registration at https://syracuseuniversity.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_UsXpI6HSTKKOy8lxBAY4Aw.

The annual Brodsky Series for the Advancement of Library Conservation is endowed through a generous gift by William J. ’65, G’ 68 and Joan Brodsky ’67, G’68 of Chicago. Beginning in 2004, the endowment has been used to sponsor programs that promote and advance knowledge of library conservation theory, practice, and application among wide audiences, both on campus and in the region. Programs typically include lectures and workshops by prominent library conservators.

In her role as Digital Archivist at Houghton Library, Harvard University’s rare books, manuscripts, and literary and performing arts archive, Monique Lassere stewards born-digital archival materials within the Manuscript Section. Her research interests include issues in software preservation, born-digital archives, and information maintenance. Prior to joining Harvard, Monique worked for the University Libraries at the University of Arizona, where she oversaw development of the Libraries’ digital preservation strategy and program, and a digital preservation startup company called Digital Bedrock, researching file formats and software obsolescence.

To request accommodations please contact Julia Chambers jschambe@syr.edu by April 26.


2022 SCRC Faculty Fellows Program Call for Proposals

The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) at Syracuse University Libraries is now accepting proposals for two Faculty Fellows who would like to provide students with an opportunity to handle, analyze, and interpret SCRC’s primary source materials in their classes. Proposal applications for the development or revision of a 3-credit course to be taught in the Fall 2022 or Spring 2023 semester from any discipline on campus are being accepted now through June 4, 2021.

The SCRC Faculty Fellows Program supports innovative curriculum development and fosters new ideas about how to transform the role of special collections in university instruction. Each fellow selected will receive a $5,000 payment, hands-on introduction to the collections, and ongoing classroom support throughout the semester. 

The Libraries is thankful to George Bain G’06, a member of the Library Associates, for his generous gift funding towards the Faculty Fellows in 2022-23. The original funding for the SCRC Faculty Fellows Program was made possible through the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, which promotes the advancement and perpetuation of humanistic inquiry and artistic creativity by encouraging excellence in scholarship and in the performing arts, and by supporting research libraries and other institutions that transmit our cultural heritage. The SU Libraries and Library Associates invite gifts to support the SCRC Faculty Fellows Program and this unique opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students at SU. Each $5000 will support a Faculty Fellow for a semester long class. Please contact Ron Thiele, Assistant Dean for Advancement for the Libraries at rlthiele@syr.edu or 315-560-9419 for more information about making a gift.


Libraries to Adopt Quartex, an Adam Matthew Digital Platform, for its Digital Collections

Syracuse University Libraries recently selected Quartex as its new platform for in-house digital collections. Quartex, designed by Adam Matthew Digital, is a flexible and responsive hosted digital asset management platform with extensive front-end capabilities that enables organizations to showcase, share and celebrate their archival materials with a global community of users. Déirdre Joyce, head of the Libraries’ Digital Library Program, led a comprehensive review of digital collection platforms before the Libraries chose Quartex. With Quartex, the Libraries will provide a more user-friendly system for students and scholars to use their’ unique digital materials. The first collections published will likely include materials from the Special Collections Research Center’s (SCRC) Plastics Collection Area, Glass Plate Negatives from the University Archives, and selections from various holdings related to Central New York social reformer and abolitionist, Gerrit Smith. Users may expect to see digital collections on the new platform by fall 2021, with a projected completion date by 2023.

Syracuse University Libraries has an established relationship with Adam Matthew Digital and, along with utilizing the Quartex digital collections platform, acquired most Adam Matthew published primary resource collections in 2020, adding a significant amount of interdisciplinary content for the Syracuse community.

“Adoption of this new platform will make it easier for Syracuse students and faculty to use our important collections in their courses and research,” said Déirdre Joyce. “In addition, we are working with the Quartex team to take advantage of innovative enhancements to their product, including greater platform accessibility, integration with third-party media players, expanding capabilities in the creation and use of transcript files for handwritten and audio-visual assets, and other practices that will enhance our digital stewardship work.”

The Libraries needed a system with an intuitive user interface, powerful tools to build and publish collection sites, and a platform that could host their diverse and complex multi-format digital objects. Using Quartex, their Digital Collections will become more discoverable and searchable thanks to improved metadata, Handwritten Text Recognition technology, and full-text searching of audio-video transcription files. The Handwritten Text Recognition functionality improves searchability of content using algorithms and artificial intelligence, marking a significant upgrade in user experience. Finally, Quartex will offer additional, multiple entry points into the world-class special collections and archival content held by SCRC – along with other locally-curated digital materials – that enhance teaching and learning.


“Harry Haft: Survivor of Auschwitz, Challenger of Rocky Marciano” Audiobook Wins AudioFile’s Earphones Award

One of Syracuse University Press and Sound Beat: Access Audio’s first audiobook collaborations  has been recognized as an Earphones Award Winner by AudioFile, the premier audiobook authority publication. The Earphones Award, given to Harry Haft: Survivor of Auschwitz, Challenger of Rocky Marciano  by Alan Scott Haft, recognizes “truly exceptional titles that excel in narrative voice and style, characterizations, suitability to audio, and enhancement of the text.”

Over the past couple of years, the Sound Beat team, part of the Special Collections Research Center, has worked with the Libraries’ Advancement staff to include longer format audio projects, like narrated journals and documentary-style pieces. Partnering with SU Press to create audiobooks was a natural progression and partnership. And through an exciting partnership with the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education, InclusiveU students form an integral part of the production team. The opportunity to produce high quality audiobooks with students from InclusiveU at the center of the experience demonstrates the impact of cross-collaborative scholarship at Syracuse University.

SU Press has been publishing vital scholarship, sharing ideas, and giving voice to important stories since 1943. They were delighted to collaborate on providing an alternate format for authors and readers. Audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment in the digital publishing industry. And they provide another medium to reach audiences and to share stories that might otherwise have not been told.

The AudioFile reviewer described Harry Haft: Survivor of Auschwitz, Challenger of Rocky Marciano  as an “… exceptional audiobook [that] proves there are still unique stories of Holocaust survival to hear. Alan Haft’s biography of his father… who used brawn and boxing skills to survive … imprisonment at Auschwitz, is one listeners will long remember. Narrator Price Waldman tells Harry’s story with a sense of rage, determination to survive, and even love, allowing the story to excel on audio in a way that print books cannot match…” (AudioFile 2021).

The book is available for purchase  through several vendors, including Apple Books, Hoopla, Libro.FM, and Audible.