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/.


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.


Special Collections Research Center Launches Latin American 45s Digital Collection

Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC), working in partnership with the Digital Library Program (DLP), recently launched the Belfer Latin American 45s Digital Collection. The digital collection will eventually provide access to over 12,000 recordings that date from the 1950s to the early-1960s and include many rare and little-known issues on small independent record labels from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Mexico, the United States, and elsewhere.

This major digitization project to preserve and make accessible this unique collection began in 2017 as an early partnership with the Libraries’ newly launched DLP. As a result, images of record labels and covers in the collection, as well as basic descriptions of the recordings, are now publicly available online. New images and audio files will be added to the collection on an ongoing basis as recordings are digitized over the next several years.

Primarily sourced from 45-rpm discs, the digital collection encompasses a wide range of musical genres, including merengue, bolero, guaracha, cha cha, Pachanga, mambo, and others. It also includes a large selection of salsa recordings from the 1970s, reflecting the origins and development of that musical genre. Recordings were selected from The Bell Brothers Collection of Latin American and Caribbean Recordings, which is housed within  the Special Collections Research Center. Max and Joseph Bell, the owners of Bell Music Box, a New York City record store, were avid collectors of Latin and Caribbean Music. In 1963, Syracuse University acquired the entire inventory of the Bell Music Box store. The acquisition constitutes the bulk of Latin American 45-rpm discs in SCRC’s Belfer Audio Archive.

The digitization was also made possible by several generous financial gifts, such as those from Elias Savada, for sound digitization and preservation.

“One of our greatest priorities as stewards of the rare and unique materials that comprise Special Collections Research Center is preservation. Our other priority is making these collections accessible,” said Petrina Jackson, Director of Special Collections Research Center. “We are delighted to be able to provide access to sound recordings through this digital collection to researchers and our SU community.”

For more information, watch the Libraries’ virtual event recording that outlines the process of creating the Latin American 45s Digital Collection.


SCRC Receives Grant to Process Forrest J. Ackerman Papers

The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation is providing Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) with a $17,000 grant to process the Forrest J. Ackerman Papers. Forrest J. Ackerman was a popular American science fiction author, editor, agent, collector, and fan. His papers include correspondence from 1930 to 1967 and includes fan mail; communications with other writers including Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Andre Norton, and others; and correspondence with book and film companies.

“This is especially gratifying to receive good news at such a difficult time,” said David Seaman, Dean of Syracuse University Libraries and University Librarian. “We thank The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation for their support of our world-class Special Collections, and the faculty and students who benefit from them daily.”

“This grant will help SCRC process this popular collection and provide broader access to researchers globally,” said Petrina Jackson, Director of the Special Collections Research Center. “SCRC benefits greatly from foundations and private donors that enable us to ensure resources like the Forrest J. Ackerman Papers are accessible for wider communities and long into the future.”


Orange Central 2019: What’s Happening at the Libraries?

A photo of the Syracuse University campus with a cursive text overlay that reads "Welcome Home"

Registration is now open for Orange Central 2019, Syracuse University’s annual homecoming and reunion weekend, September 12-15. Throughout the weekend, Syracuse University Libraries will be hosting a multitude of unique events for the Orange community to enjoy:

Friday, September 13

  • 9:30-10:00am or 4:30-5:00pm – 150 Years of Tradition at Syracuse University Exhibition Tour*
    • Bird Library, Special Collections Research Center, 6th Floor
    • Featuring a wide selection of photographs, printed materials, textiles and other memorabilia from the University archives, this exhibition showcases the traditions that unite the University, including the number 44 and the color orange. Join University archivist and exhibition curator Meg Mason for a guided tour. (*Note that as of 6/7/19, the 9:30am time slot is full. Please see other tour time slot options on Friday and Saturday.)
    • Program cost: No charge
  • 10:00am-noon – Innovation Breakfast of Champions
    • Bird Library, Blackstone LaunchPad, 1st Floor, Suite 120
    • Did you ever pitch a product or an idea in an entrepreneurship competition while an SU student? Work on an innovation or student venture? Have you launched something since graduating? Join us in SU’s Innovation Hub in Bird Library to catch up and to get a sneak preview of the next crop of SU innovators.
    • Program cost: No charge; includes buffet breakfast
  • 2:30-3:15 or 3:30-4:15pm  – Preserving Your Orange Memories: A Preservation Fair
    • Bird Library, Special Collections Research Center, 6th Floor
    • Wondering how to preserve your freshman beanie, old photos, videotapes or yearbooks for years to come? Learn how to care for and preserve personal collections, especially your Syracuse University-related memorabilia. Please note: Libraries staff cannot provide preservation treatment or appraisals for items brought to the fair.
    • Program cost: No charge
  • 2:30-3:15 or 3:30-4:15pm  – Funding the Future
    • Bird Library, Blackstone LaunchPad, 1st Floor, Suite 120
    • Josh Aviv ’15, G’17, founder of SparkCharge, hosts an interactive fireside chat focused on emerging sustainable startup trends and creative funding opportunities for entrepreneurs. Co-hosted by the Blackstone LaunchPad, the School of Information Studies and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
    • Program cost: No charge
  • 4:00-5:30pm  – Forever Orange: The Story of Syracuse University
    • Bird Library, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, 1st Floor, Room 114
    • Join Rick Burton ’80 and Scott Pitoniak ’77, authors of Forever Orange, a book commemorating Syracuse University’s 150th anniversary, for a fascinating look at the diverse people, places and events that have helped Syracuse become an internationally renowned research university. Hear from the authors and take the opportunity to purchase the book (with a special 25% discount) and have them sign it. Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) will be provided.
    • Program cost: No charge

Saturday, September 14

  • 9:00-10:30am – 150th Campus Past and Present Walking Tour
    • Bird Library, Special Collections Research Center, 6th Floor
    • Learn about our past at the Special Collections Research Center exhibition, 150 Years of Tradition at Syracuse University; meet the University archivist; and then explore campus during a walking tour led by student guides from the Office of Admissions’ U100 group. The weather in Syracuse can be fickle, so check the forecast, dress appropriately and wear comfortable shoes—the tour will go on, rain or shine! Please follow the directions in the registration form if you require golf cart transportation.
    • Program cost: No charge
  • 10:00-10:30, 10:45-11:15, or 11:30-12:00 – 150 Years of Tradition at Syracuse University Exhibition Tour
    • Bird Library, Special Collections Research Center, 6th Floor
    • Featuring a wide selection of photographs, printed materials, textiles and other memorabilia from the University archives, this exhibition showcases the traditions that unite the University, including the number 44 and the color orange. Join University archivist and exhibition curator Meg Mason for a guided tour. (*Note that as of 6/7/19, the 9:30am time slot is full. Please see other tour time slot options on Friday and Saturday.)
    • Program cost: No charge
  • 10:30-11:30am – Bringing Don Waful’s POW Journal to Life
    • Bird Library, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, 1st Floor, Room 114
    • A look behind the scenes of a unique audio project from Sound Beat, the popular public radio program from the Syracuse University Libraries. Host Brett Barry ’98, G’13 narrates selections from the World War II POW journal of Don Waful ’37, G’39 interspersed with present-day commentary from Mr. Waful himself, nearly 80 years later! Q&A to follow.
    • Program cost: No charge
  • 12:30-2:00pm – Libraries Former Employees Lunch*
    • Bird Library, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, 1st Floor, Room 114
    • Have you ever worked in the SU Libraries system, either professionally or while an SU student? We welcome you back to the Libraries for a celebratory lunch for an afternoon of networking and conversation!
    • Program cost: No charge; includes refreshments

Please note that registration is required for all Orange Central events. For a full list of campus-wide events or to register, please visit: cusecommunity.syr.edu.


New Director of Special Collections Research Center Joins Libraries

Petrina Jackson is Syracuse University Libraries’ new Director of the Special Collections Research Center, effective June 3, 2019.  She comes to the SU Libraries from Iowa State University, where she was Head of Special Collections and University Archives since 2016, and before that was Head of Instruction and Outreach at the University of Virginia’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, and Senior Assistant Archivist for the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections at Cornell.

“I am so excited to join SU Libraries and work with the fantastic staff of the Special Collections Research Center,” says Ms. Jackson, “and to building the SCRC’s distinguished collections and support for scholarship and teaching. I look forward to our work ahead.” David Seaman, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian, adds “we are delighted to have Petrina bring her expertise, energy, and engagement to the SU Libraries, and I’ll look forward to seeing the SCRC continue to develop into a major university resource for faculty and students alike.”

Petrina Jackson holds a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh, an MA in English from Iowa State University and a BA in English from the University of Toledo, and is well known nationally, being active in both the Society of American Archivists and the American Library Association’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Section.