Special Collections Research Center to Receive Onondaga Historical Association 2020 Medal Award

The Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center will receive the Onondaga Historical Association’s (OHA) 2020 Medal Award at a virtual event on Thursday, November 12.  The OHA Medal Award is the organization’s highest honor for contributions made to the cause of preserving and interpreting Onondaga County’s collective heritage. The award is being received by SU Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) this year as the University celebrates its sesquicentennial anniversary.

The history of Onondaga County and Syracuse University are inextricably connected. SU Libraries is dedicated to advancing the University’s teaching, learning, and research mission. An important component of that is preserving and interpreting the incredible assets within the Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center. During the University’s sesquicentennial year, SCRC staff created several exhibitions and related programming to help spotlight different areas of the University’s 150-year history and provided extensive reference support to campus constituents to help prepare for the University’s anniversary celebration. “Receiving this award in SU’s anniversary year affirms the extraordinary effort SCRC staff have put into acquiring, preserving, interpreting, and providing access to our magnificent collections throughout the years. We are committed to this standard of excellence and to promote an even wider array of stories and programs to engage a more inclusive audience,” stated Petrina Jackson, Director of the Special Collections Research Center.

“Our artifacts enable the University and Central New York communities, and researchers and historians globally, to pursue new knowledge through historical materials,” said David Seaman, Dean of Syracuse University Libraries and University Librarian. “Our Special Collections Research Center has had the opportunity to collaborate with OHA on numerous projects over the years that require our collective resources of archival materials. The University’s collections, like materials from Archimedes Russell, the founder of King and King Architects, or Gerrit Smith, one of the most important figures in the anti-slavery movement, are housed within Special Collections. But these artifacts are essential to the greater community’s history of architecture and abolitionism. In that way, we are symbiotic.”

The Award Ceremony, historically a breakfast, is taking place as a one-day virtual event on November 12. For tickets or more information, visit https://www.cnyhistory.org/oha-medal/.


Special Collections Research Center Exhibits Online

Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center has recently published three online exhibitions that feature the University’s history, leaders, and libraries.  The three online exhibitions are available for public viewing and include:

All three digital exhibits are part of the Libraries’ continuing commemoration of Syracuse University’s sesquicentennial.


“At Home with Warren Kimble” Audio Production

Syracuse University Libraries’ Sound Beat: Access Audio produced a casual but sophisticated audio documentary featuring Warren Kimble ’57 (College of Visual and Performing Arts), America’s “best-known living folk artist.” The audio documentary was released for free access via the Sound Beat: Access Audio website at “At Home with Warren Kimble.”

In “At Home with Warren Kimble,” Warren and his wife and business partner, Lorraine, share their passion for art and their small-town community of Brandon, Vermont. Warren also shares his enthusiasm around memories cheerleading for Syracuse University, including Jim Brown and the Cotton Bowl, and the professor he remembers every time he mixes colors.

The audio documentary was produced by Syracuse University Libraries’ Sound Beat: Access Audio team. Sound Beat is a daily, 90-second radio show highlighting the holdings of the Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive. Belfer is part of Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center and is one of the largest sound archives in the United States. Each Sound Beat episode focuses on one particular recording from the Archive and provides a back story detailing its place in recording history. Sound Beat: Access Audio features long-form audio projects including audio books, interviews, narrated journals, and documentary-style storytelling that highlights the experiences of iconic Syracuse University community members. Sound Beat: Access Audio projects have included collaboration with students, faculty, staff, and administration from partners across the Syracuse University campus. Inclusion and the student experience are at the forefront of Sound Beat: Access Audio’s mission. Through an exciting partnership with the Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education’s InclusiveU, students form an integral part of the Sound Beat: Access Audio team in all aspects of production, working with Libraries staff to develop their research, writing, and editing skills.

3 students posing with alumnus Warren Kimble
Sound Beat: Access Audio student producers at Bird Library, 2019. From from left to right: Ian Coe (InclusiveU), Warren Kimble ’57 (VPA), Tyler Youngman ’19 (iSchool), David Ross (InclusiveU)

Virtual Event on Digital Library Program and Special Collections Research Center: Building the Latin American 45s Collection

Syracuse University Libraries’ Digital Library Program will host a virtual event on Wednesday, September 23 at 4 p.m. EST to discuss how it is partnering with the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) to build the Latin American 45s digital collection. Through cross-department partnerships, the Digital Library Program is providing campus access to the University’s unique digital offerings while promoting their innovative reuse and exploration through teaching and learning.

This virtual event will highlight the challenges around the digital stewardship of rare and unique materials and share examples of current projects, including a multi-year effort to digitize, describe, and preserve the Bell Brothers Collection of Latin American and Caribbean Recordings, due to be released for the campus community as a stand-alone digital collection through a newly designed portal in Fall 2020. The virtual event will include a behind-the-scenes look at SCRC’s Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive, home to the first studio ever designed solely for audio preservation.

The Digital Library Program comprises an interdisciplinary team of professionals from across the Libraries who come together to commit their time and talent in spearheading a variety of digital initiatives that spotlight the richness of the Libraries’ myriad collections and enhance the Libraries’ campus partnerships.

This program is the first in a series about the Digital Library Program and how it engages with partners and colleagues to bring the University’s hidden, unique content into the digital light. The program is open to the public. Advance registration is required by emailing libevent@syr.edu with your name and email. The Zoom link will be sent to registered attendees the day prior.


Special Collections Research Center Reading Room Closure and Available Services for Fall 2020

As a result of the COVID-19 health emergency, the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) at Syracuse University Libraries has suspended Reading Room operations for all users during the Fall 2020 semester. The SCRC Reading Room is the onsite access point for collection material within Special Collections, Belfer Audio Archive, Pan Am 103 Archives, and University Archives.

In lieu of our temporary Reading Room closure, SCRC is pleased to offer expanded remote services for current Syracuse University students, faculty, and staff. These services will entail more in-depth research, expanding the amount of time dedicated to each inquiry and providing more direct assistance in identifying relevant materials in our collections. SCRC will also make virtual research consultations available for those interested in pursuing their own in-depth research in our collections when our Reading Room reopens. Expanded complimentary duplication services for current University students, faculty, and staff to support instruction, coursework, and research will be offered during this time.

SCRC will be offering virtual only instruction sessions, in line with the general SU Libraries instruction program, and will prioritize the use of online collections. For further information about current instruction options, please contact us at scrcinstruction@syr.edu.

Please note that SCRC has implemented new staffing and materials handling procedures for the health and safety of our staff as a result of the COVID-19 health emergency, which have necessarily extended processing times for most reference, duplication, and instruction requests.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.

For more information about the Special Collections Research Center, our collections, or current services please contact scrc@syr.edu.


Libraries Acknowledges Gift for Robert Ortwine Gallery

Robert (Bob) Ortwine ’72 loved intellectual pursuits, and libraries in particular, and felt most comfortable reading and learning about politics, economics, and sociology. When the time came to honor his beloved brother’s memory, it seemed like the perfect fit for Syracuse University Libraries to receive a gift from Bruce A. Ortwine ’75 to create the Robert Ortwine Gallery Endowed Support Fund. The Robert Ortwine Gallery is currently located on the 6th floor of Bird Library and is used as Special Collections Research Center’s exhibition gallery.

The gift has contributed to Special Collections Research Center’s curation of several exhibitions in the space, most recently the “150 Years of Tradition at Syracuse University,”  reflecting on the University’s history and “We Remember Them: The Legacy of Pan Am Flight 103”  commemorating on the 30th anniversary of the tragedy. “These exhibitions that draw from Special Collections’ University Archives are more than an opportunity for reflection for our campus; they represent new learning for our students through the study of artifacts on display,” said Petrina Jackson, Director of Special Collections Research Center.

Bob Ortwine graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. During his time at SU, Bob spent two summers taking courses in England and Russia (then the Soviet Union). After working for a year at SU,  Bob relocated to Alabama where he earned a master’s in public administration at the University of Alabama and became a devoted, life-long follower of college football. Bob then pursued a career in the insurance industry, where he held positions with several companies, including the Chubb and Continental Insurance Companies, moving from Atlanta to Upstate New York (Rochester) to New Jersey and, finally, to San Antonio, Texas. In 1990, Bob joined the Peace Corps, which took him to Poland, where for more than four years  he lived and worked to aid in that country’s post-Soviet Union economic development. After returning to the U.S., Bob lived in Miami and New Jersey, and then moved to Washington, D.C., where he earned a second master’s degree in international affairs at Georgetown University. Ever the traveler and scholar, Bob eventually moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he lived in semi-retirement while also teaching classes at a local elementary school. He died prematurely in June 2010, and his family sought a way to honor his legacy.

“We are extremely grateful to Bruce Ortwine for memorializing his brother with the creation of the Robert Ortwine Gallery Endowed Support Fund,” said David Seaman, Dean of Syracuse University Libraries and University Librarian. “The gift toward the Gallery sounds perfectly suited to Bob’s love of travels and learning. To paraphrase the author Catherynne M. Valente, ‘He sounds like someone who spent a lot of time in libraries, which are the best sorts of people.’”

“Bob would have loved the Gallery space because of its promotion of intellectual curiosity and discussion,” said his brother Bruce Ortwine. “I am happy that his interests in life continue in the Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University Libraries.”


Libraries Announce 2020 Faculty Fellows

Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) announces two 2020 Faculty Fellows grant recipients: Joan Bryant, associate professor in African American Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Kathryn Everly, professor of Language, Literature and Linguistics in the College of Arts and Sciences. Each recipient has committed to a four-week summer residency in 2021 at SCRC that includes a number of 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 teach their new courses the following year and will each receive a $5,000 stipend.

Joan Bryant will focus on developing an upper level course on American freedom that fully integrates archival research with student analysis of sources about the experiences of antebellum free people of color, freed people contending with emancipation, and reformers navigating Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow. Kathryn Everly will develop a course that analyzes the Spanish Civil War and its impact on literary, cinematic, political, and artistic works through investigating political and personal papers, as well as the Harold Jones’ collection of works from Salvador Dali.  

Kathryn Everly
Kathryn Everly, professor of Language, Literature and Linguistics in the College of Arts and Sciences
Joan Bryant
Joan Bryant, associate professor in African American Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences

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. The original funding for the SCRC Faculty Fellows Program was made possible through the generosity of 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 cultural heritage.

“The Special Collections Research Center Faculty Fellowship creates an ideal situation for faculty to partner with special collections librarians and archivists for an invaluable undergraduate learning experience. Due to on-campus circumstances this year around the Covid-19 pandemic, the work of our two selected fellows will be postponed until next summer. We appreciate Joan’s and Kathryn’s flexibility with their plans,” said Petrina D. Jackson, director of SCRC. “We’ve witnessed with previous faculty fellows the value for undergraduate students to deeply explore primary source research, learn how to critically analyze a document or artifact, and be exposed to spectacular rare and unique materials. Student participation in these courses elevates their work and engages them in impactful ways.”


Documenting COVID-19

The University Archives in the Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University Libraries is actively working to document the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Syracuse University. They are seeking to collect and preserve the personal responses of University students, faculty, and staff and are reaching out to the University community for contributions.

To learn more about the project and donate digital materials, the campus community is invited to visit the University Archives’ COVID-19 project page. The University Archives is accepting journal and diary entries, emails, photographs, videos, audio recordings, social media posts, and other digital documentation. Materials should document remote learning and work, displacement from student housing, social distancing, self-quarantine, and/or the overall impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on donors.

Wondering how to document your own experience? Students could write or record themselves talking about their experiences with remote learning, including reflections from seniors sharing their feelings about finishing their studies during a pandemic. University staff could take photos of their workspaces at home and document how they transitioned to remote work. Faculty members could share their own challenges and triumphs in pivoting to teaching online. The University Archives is interested in collecting materials that document a variety of perspectives about the pandemic.

Digital content can be submitted via the University Archives’ COVID-19 project page. Members of the University community interested in donating physical materials should contact Meg Mason, University Archivist, mamaso02@syr.edu.


A Legacy of Leadership: The Chancellors and Presidents of Syracuse University Digital Exhibition

As part of our continuing commemorations of Syracuse University’s sesquicentennial, Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center has released “A Legacy of Leadership: The Chancellors and Presidents of Syracuse University” digital exhibition. This online exhibition mirrors and expands upon the physical exhibition that has been on display on the first floor of Bird Library since September 2019. It is a companion to our marquee sesquicentennial digital exhibition “150 Years of Tradition at Syracuse University.”

Curated by Pan Am 103 Archivist and Assistant University Archivist Vanessa St. Oegger-Menn, “A Legacy of Leadership” includes documents and photographs from the Syracuse University Archives. From Alexander Winchell to Kent Syverud, this digital exhibition examines how each of the 12 individuals who have held the University’s highest office have helped to shape the institution over the past 150 years.

Photo Image: Photograph of Chancellor James Roscoe Day speaking at Commencement in Archbold Gymnasium, 1916. Syracuse University Photograph Collection, University Archives


2020 SCRC Faculty Fellows Program Deadline Extended

The Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University Libraries (SCRC) has extended the proposal deadline to April 17, 2020 at 5 p.m. 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.

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. Proposal applications for the development or revision of a 3-credit course to be taught in the Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 semester from any discipline on campus are currently being accepted.