Happy Halloween!

Take a look at Halloween in Florida through the years!

Pam Maneeratana displays her carved pumpkins: Tallahassee, Florida (1987)

Pam Maneeratana displays her carved pumpkins: Tallahassee, Florida (1987)

Local restaurateur Pam Maneeratana displays three intricately crafted pumpkins carved using a technique called Kae-Sa-Luk, a 700 year-old art carving method from Thailand.

Pine Crest School student carving a Halloween pumpkin: Fort Lauderdale, Florida (1966 or 1967)

Pine Crest School student carving a Halloween pumpkin: Fort Lauderdale, Florida (1966 or 1967)

Photographer Roy Erickson chronicled life in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from the late 1960s to the early 1980s.

Leslie Dughi dressed as a witch for Halloween in Tallahassee, Florida (1972)

Leslie Dughi dressed as a witch for Halloween in Tallahassee, Florida (1972)

Photographer Donn Dughi grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida. This is his daughter, Leslie.

Charles and Annette Witherington in Halloween costumes: Orlando, Florida (ca. 1932)

Charles and Annette Witherington in Halloween costumes: Orlando, Florida (ca. 1932)

 

Florida and the Civil War (October 1862)

Bluff Naked

Florida faced three avenues of invasion during the Civil War: the Apalachicola River, the St. Marks River, and the St. Johns River. Although the state obviously comprised much more land than the territory along those three waterways, geographic, economic, and political factors made the rest of the state, with the exception of the naval bases at Key West and Pensacola, largely irrelevant to Union strategy. The vast majority of Florida’s population (slave and free), agricultural production, and political power resided in North Florida, which was the only section of the state contiguous to the Confederacy. Of the three strategic rivers, only the St. Johns River played a central role in the Union’s campaign in the state: Federal forces never tried to drive up the Apalachicola, and when they finally marched up the St. Marks in March 1865, in a campaign that ended in a Confederate victory at Natural Bridge, the war was nearly over.

The St. Johns was vital to the Union’s Florida strategy. If the Federals controlled the river, they could raid at will into the Confederate interior and use the river as a protective barrier for control of the land to the east. Behind this barrier, they could potentially begin the political reconstruction of Florida by securing and organizing the large number of Unionists in the area. A secure Northeast Florida would also serve as a magnet for escaped slaves, many of whom would eventually enlist in the Union army.

Preventing these possibilities made control of the St. Johns equally important for its Confederate defenders. One key to preventing a Union march up the River—the St. Johns is one of the few rivers in North America that flows north—was control of St. John’s Bluff. The bluff was located on the approach to Jacksonville, six miles from the mouth of the St. Johns, and was the highest point along the river.  Artillery on the bluff would make it extremely difficult for ships to pass upstream. However, with Confederate defenses in disarray following the Union’s first occupation of Jacksonville in March 1862, Union gunboats stationed at Mayport operated up and down the St. Johns. The gunboats were magnets for escaped slaves, who flocked to the river in search of the vessels and passage to freedom. Slave owners along the St. Johns demanded the Confederate government take immediate action to stop the exodus.

St. Johns Bluff

St. Johns Bluff

Brigadier General Joseph Finegan, the Confederate commander in east Florida, was determined to fortify St. Johns Bluff and end the Union raids. He had few resources at his disposal, however. When he assumed command in April 1862, most Confederate forces were removed from Florida to meet the crisis brought on by Federal victories in Tennessee. With only a handful of troops, Finegan set out to strengthen his forces with local volunteers and launched a wide-ranging campaign to find arms, especially artillery, for his units. By September 1862 he had found enough artillery to fortify St. Johns Bluff, where Confederate troops used slave labor to construct their defenses.

Confederate Brigadier General Joseph Finegan

Confederate Brigadier General Joseph Finegan

The Confederates opened fire on the first Union gunboat to approach the fortified bluff on September 11. Taken by surprise, the U.S.S. Uncas, soon joined by the U.S.S. Patroon, bombarded the Rebels but failed to destroy the position. On September 17, three more Union gunboats arrived to reinforce the two vessels and launch a renewed bombardment. It soon became apparent that naval force alone would not drive the Confederates off the bluff. The Union dispatched over 800 troops to Florida from its units along the South Carolina coast. These troops arrived at Mayport on October 1. The next day, the Union troops landed and began a march around towards the rear of the Confederate position.

Meanwhile, the Confederate commander on the bluff, Colonel Charles F. Hopkins, was in a panic. He believed that 5,000, not 800, Yankees were preparing to assault his defenses. Faced with continued bombardment from the Union gunboats and the prospect of an overwhelming Union force attacking from the rear, Hopkins decided he must abandon the position.  Disgusted with the prospect of retreat before he had even encountered the enemy, Captain Winston Stephens, one of the Confederate officers at the bluff, believed the position was strong enough to withstand any Yankee assault and reckoned his men “could kill four to one in these woods.” Colonel Hopkins was not so optimistic. He ordered his men to retreat from the bluff on the night of October 2-3. The Federals then occupied the position and captured all the Rebel cannon in the process—Hopkins had failed to ensure that the guns were spiked or blown up.

Winston Stephens: Welaka, Florida

Winston Stephens: Welaka, Florida

The Confederate retreat from St. Johns Bluff was a humiliating defeat. The Federals reoccupied Jacksonville on October 3, and their gunboats once again steamed unmolested up the river. General Finegan called Hopkins’ retreat a “gross military blunder” but Hopkins, who demanded a court martial to defend his actions, argued that the position was indefensible due to the lack of men and material available to his command. The court martial exonerated Hopkins, who, although excoriated in the Confederate press, was less to blame for Florida‘s weakness than the Confederate government, which had removed the men and material necessary for the state’s defense.

The Stephens quote is found in Daniel L. Schafer’s Thunder on the River: The Civil War in Northeast Florida, University Press of Florida (2005). Most of Stephens’ extensive wartime correspondence with his wife, Octavia, is published in Rose Cottage Chronicles: Civil War Letters of the Bryant-Stephens Families of North Florida (University Press of Florida, 1998).

 

Koreshan Unity Collection (Part Seven)

The Koreshan Unity Collection: An Inside Look into Processing a Large Archival Collection (Part Seven)

What should be saved?

Archivists grapple with this day in and day out. The question of what to save, commonly referred to as appraisal, is arguably the most challenging archival issue in the profession. However, the archivist is not the first to determine the long-term value of records; that role, knowingly or not, belongs to the creator.

The materials within the Koreshan Unity Collection tell much about the focus of the Unity and show that they attributed long-term value to surprising quantities and types of materials. The collection provides a glimpse into the structure of the group and shows relationships and themes between members.

Often, records are saved in order to document some sort of transaction; they offer proof of an event or an agreement. The Koreshan Unity’s administrative records are evidence of their business dealings both within their settlement at Estero, Florida, and relating to other ventures across the United States. Along with the typical receipts, tax records, and payroll records, the administrative records also include documentation of the origins of the Koreshan Unity and the emphasis its members and leaders placed on organizational structure and clear lines of authority from the Unity’s beginnings. Foundational documents such as a printed 1896 Constitutions of the Koreshan Unity and its Departments (below) are evidence of this focus on organizational structure.

1896 Constitutions of the Koreshan Unity and its Departments

1896 Constitutions of the Koreshan Unity and its Departments

 

The Unity’s focus on organizational structure continued after Cyrus Teed’s death, as evidenced by this “General classification and assignment of duties” from about 1909 (below).

General classification and assignment of duties (ca. 1909)

General classification and assignment of duties (ca. 1909)

The manuscript starts, “General classification and assignment of duties for the Edification, Assistance and Guidance of all Members of the Ecclesia or Home. Ecclesia is a Greek word signifying congregation, and as used in this connection, would embrace all those who have entered into communistic relation and have accepted Cyrus as their Shepherd and Messiah, and the authority He established as having the legal and moral right to regulate the conduct of the membership…”

Part Six of this series alluded to unexpected findings within the administrative and operational records. While most records align themselves with the function that they were created to document, it’s the unexpected items that provide archivists with the most entertainment and, in some cases, surprising insight. Here, then, is our first installment of:

They Saved What!?

Silver certificates found folded up within a Koreshan Store receipt (1959)

Silver certificates found folded up within a Koreshan Store receipt (1959)

 

Meat packaging filed with receipts

Meat packaging filed with receipts

 

Dry-cleaning receipts

Dry-cleaning receipts

Are these items in the collection because the Koreshans were meticulous record keepers? Because of a general consensus to save everything? Quite possibly it’s a combination of both. From the outset, the Koreshan Unity recognized the importance of maintaining their records to ensure long-term access and even designated members to carry out that responsibility. The size and contents of the collection are testament to that role.

As the community dwindled in the years after Teed’s death, responsibility for the Unity’s survival fell on a very small group of remaining members. It is likely that limited staff leaned towards saving everything to avoid the risk of throwing out important records. The plethora of receipts held members accountable for money spent from the communal treasury down to the last penny. While their historical value to the collection might seem less obvious than that of some other administrative records, these individual items explain daily operations of the Koreshan Unity and show the uniqueness of their administrative functions beyond what is expected.

Happy Birthday Charles Atkins (October 23, 1944)

Sir Charles Atkins, also known as Professor of the Blues, has been letting us know that “the blues is alright” since he first sat down at the communal piano in his dorm at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine. Atkins is a notable performer, recording artist and teacher. He’s toured the country and shared the stage with multiple groups including the D and B Romeos, who he joined at the School for the Deaf and the Blind, and the Blues Boys. When he’s not playing out live or in the studio, the Professor of the Blues teaches the Blues Lab at Florida State University. In addition to teaching at FSU, Atkins also participated in the Florida Folklife Apprenticeship Program (1995-96). Charles Atkins was awarded the Florida Folk Heritage Award in 2002 for his musical accomplishments and willingness to share his knowledge and experience with others.

In honor of his birthday, please enjoy two selections from Sir Charles Atkins’ appearances at the Florida Folk Festival:

“Key to the Highway”

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Download: MP3
More Info: Catalog Record, Where the Palm Trees Shake at Night: Blues Music from the Florida Folklife Collection

“Little Run-A-Round”

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Download: MP3
More Info: Catalog Record

For more information about his life, upcoming performances and discography, visit the Charles Atkins homepage at http://www.downhomebluesband.com

Graf Zeppelin

May 6, 2012, was the 75th anniversary of the Hindenburg disaster. The Hindenburg’s sister ships Graf Zeppelin (LZ-127) and USS Los Angeles (originally LZ-129) were also built by the German Zeppelin company. On October 23, 1933, Miami welcomed the Graf Zeppelin. The Graf Zeppelin also shared several German crew members with the Hindenburg, one of whom died in the Hindenburg disaster.

Arrival of Graf Zeppelin: Miami (October 23, 1933)

Arrival of Graf Zeppelin: Miami (October 23, 1933)

Mayor E.G. Sewell welcomes the crew of Graf Zeppelin (October 23, 1933)

Mayor E.G. Sewell welcomes the crew of Graf Zeppelin (October 23, 1933)

Airship Los Angeles over Miami (1925)

Airship Los Angeles over Miami (1925)

Temari

Temari is the traditional Japanese art of decorating spheres by winding and lacing colored threads in intricate patterns around a core ball. These Temari were made by master folk artist Kazuko Law and her daughter Chieri Esposito. They were photographed in 1985 in Gulf Breeze, Florida.

Temari made by Chieri Esposito and Kazuko Law: Gulf Breeze, Florida (April 1985)

Temari made by Chieri Esposito and Kazuko Law: Gulf Breeze, Florida (April 1985)

Temari made by Chieri Esposito and Kazuko Law: Gulf Breeze, Florida (April 1985)

Temari made by Chieri Esposito and Kazuko Law: Gulf Breeze, Florida (April 1985)

Temari made by Chieri Esposito and Kazuko Law: Gulf Breeze, Florida (April 1985)

An Archivist’s View, Part Two

By Bethanie

Hello, again! Earlier this week I discussed my thoughts and experiences as a student of archives and as an archivist.  This time I’d like to move from past experience to a discussion of the archives profession as I see it today.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to pursue a career in the archival field.  In the midst of economic and budget issues, archives have downsized in order to survive. Today, many archives are run by a single person. These archivists, commonly referred to as lone arrangers, take on all archival responsibilities.  They are responsible for acquisition, appraisal, arrangement, description, preservation and access. The lone arranger advocates both for their repository in order to promote use and to maintain proper security of their archival holdings.  Here at the State Archives of Florida, we’re fortunate to have multiple archivists that work towards these goals.  

R. A. Gray Building, home of the State Archives of Florida, Tallahassee

R. A. Gray Building, home of the State Archives of Florida, Tallahassee

Although staffing is a common concern, the role of the archive within society remains strong.  This is particularly apparent in the continual shift to digital.  Our culture’s increased awareness and participation in the digital sector is changing the process of records creation, storage and long-term access. In this sense, technology serves as a catalyst for constantly evolving archival operations.  Archivists have a commitment to preserve all mediums of recorded and collected information that they accession.  Technological advances constantly challenge the archivist’s ability to adapt to change. New mediums call for new means of preservation.  However, these advances also promote the archive within society through online dissemination and access. Technology connects the archive to a larger community.

I’m constantly reminded of these concepts here at the State Archives of Florida. I believe that Florida Memory is a prime example of the bond between the archive and technology.  Through the digitization and web design efforts of the Florida Memory team, the State Archives brings centuries old documents into the digital age.  The myriad online collections, coupled with the use of educational resources and social media, provide outreach far beyond what was possible pre-internet.

That being said, this shift does not negate the traditional archival collection and access methods. If anything I think it calls for an even more firm foundation within arrangement, description and collection management. The digital age expands our responsibilities as archivists.  Each format expands existing preservation concerns. File migration of born digital records, format and software obsolescence, and digital metadata programs will join the storage and environmental concerns of existing collections.

Now I find myself back at my elevator speech, so here it goes.  Archivists protect the historical and public records of the institution in which they work. These record groups are as varied as the archives that house them where they act as evidence of past events. By following professional guidelines and best practices we ensure their long-term preservation, appropriate arrangement, and availability for future users.  To quote Theodore R. Schellenberg’s The Management of Archives, “Use is the end of all archival effort.”  I agree with Schellenberg.  While we work at all stages, the final goal of an archivist is to provide proper access.  It both justifies and validates our continued existence.

Theodore R. Schellenberg, The Management of Archives, quoted in Mark A. Greene, “The Power of Archives: Archivists’ Values and the Value in the Postmodern Age,” The American Archivist 72 (Spring/Summer 2009): 33.

An Archivist’s View, Part One

By Bethanie

In the spirit of American Archives Month, we’ve decided to discuss the role of the archivist in a personal fashion.  That being said, a brief introduction is in order.  As you can tell from above, my name is Bethanie.  My presence on Florida Memory up to this point is with the series of blog posts on the Koreshan Collection.  I work at the State Archives as a Project Archivist where my main responsibility is arranging and describing the aforementioned collection.

Each archivist comes to the field in a different way.  Some seek out the profession directly while others happen upon it. On the whole, I identify most with the former rather than the latter method. What follows are my thoughts, opinions, and experiences as an archivist; my metaphorical archival soap-box. 

A portion of the Koreshan Collection

A portion of the Koreshan Collection

So, what is an archivist? Or, more importantly in terms of this post, what does it mean to be one? One of the first bits of advice I was given when I started as a student in an archival education program was the importance of an archivist elevator speech. In other words, a 20 second speech designed to explain and justify my role as an archivist to anyone who asked.  Fast forward two years, and I’m still working on it.  I suppose part of my problem is in my inability to condense my thoughts.  A much easier, though longer, way for me to explain begins with my experience.

I decided I wanted to be an archivist while at my internship for my history degree. I worked in a historical society in Western Pennsylvania where I transcribed correspondence written by a member of an expedition to the North Pole.  I enjoyed learning about the early 20th century through one man’s life in letters.  Needless to say, I was hooked.

Next step: master’s degree.  Fortunately, I lived within an hour of a university where an archives specialization in the Library and Information Science program was offered.  Thus began my archival education.

Theories and best practices, arguments and discussions.  Debates over Sir Hilary Jenkinson and Theodore R. Schellenberg.  Functional analysis vs. Macroappraisal vs. Documentation Strategy vs. countless other approaches to appraisal. Drills on provenance, original order, and a determination to always, always respect des fonds.   I, along with my classmates, spent many months in a theoretical think tank. After a long class of discussing a topic ad nauseum, we’d eventually come to the same question: why?

Enter, experience.  While interning at a university archive and participating in collaborative projects with a local museum, the endless discussions started to make sense. Their relevancy beyond the classroom became apparent as we applied best practice and theory to the task at hand. 

As a project archivist I draw from my education and that of fellow archivists daily.  It’s a constant back-and-forth activity.  There seems to be a divide between a concentration on theory and on the reality of everyday archival operations. I think the truth of the archival profession is somewhere in between. While theory and practice are necessary in the archival sphere, theory requires experience in order to be fully appreciated. Of course, that’s just my point of view!

Stay tuned later this week for my thoughts on the archives profession today!