Uptown Theater

Exterior of Uptown Theater, April 7, 1972
Exterior of Uptown Theater, April 7, 1972, Philadelphia Daily News, Sam Psoras, Photographer

The Uptown Theater, located at 2240 North Broad Street, opened on February 16, 1929. The five-story Art Deco theater was designed by the noted architectural firm Magaziner, Eberhard and Harris, and featured a terracotta façade, high ceilings, stain-glass windows, plush carpets and velvet seats. The theater was originally owned by the Stanley Theater/Warner Brothers chain, and movie-goers included wealthy industrialists and working-class immigrant families that resided along the bustling North Broad Street corridor.

In the decades following the Great Depression, with the collapse of Philadelphia’s manufacturing base, and rising unemployment and crime, many white residents moved out of Philadelphia and into the suburbs. By the 1950s, North Philadelphia had become the center of African American culture as the Black population grew significantly due to migration from southern states, and the pervasive practice of housing discrimination that limited the mobility of many African Americans to inner city neighborhoods.

Theater mogul Samuel H. Stiefel purchased the Uptown Theatre in 1951, where he promoted live rhythm and blues, gospel, and soul music shows that targeted African American audiences. The theater became a pivotal player along with the Apollo Theater in New York, the Howard Theater in Washington, DC, and Regal Theater in Chicago, on the “Chitlin Circuit.” This nationwide network of performance venues helped to advance the careers of Black singers, musicians, and comedians in the era of Jim Crow and racial discrimination at white mainstream entertainment spots.

newspaper clipping
Public Ledger, February 10, 1929

In its heyday, the Uptown featured performances by Ray Charles, James Brown, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson Five, Patti Labelle, and the Temptations, to name a few. Comedians such as Redd Fox and Flip Wilson also performed at the Uptown Theater. The theater hosted amateur nights where local artists could compete for prizes. The Uptown was also unique in that it had its own house band. The longest tenured band director, Sam Reed, led the band from 1963 to 1971.

From 1957 to 1972, WDAS personality and civil rights activist Georgie Woods produced the groundbreaking shows at the Uptown and played a key role in the economic growth of the neighborhood as theatregoers shopped and dined in the surrounding businesses. Georgie Woods also organized “Freedom Shows” held at the Uptown. The money raised from these events funded various civil rights organizations and causes.

newspaper clipping
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 13, 1962

The Uptown Theater closed in 1978 due to continued neighborhood decline following the riots, “white flight,” and changes in the music industry. It was used as a church in the 1980s before storm damage and neglect forced the building to close in 1991. In 2001, the Uptown Entertainment and Development Corporation (UEDC) headed by the late Linda Richardson purchased the building. In the years following UEDC’s acquisition, they secured funding from private and public resources , beginning renovations on the building to include a theater, technology center, artist lofts, and office space. In 2019, the Uptown commemorated its 90th anniversary by relighting the marque. The organization envisioned that the Uptown would serve as a hub for the cultural and economic regrowth of the neighborhood, and play an important role in the ongoing revitalization of the North Broad Street corridor. The Uptown is scheduled to reopen sometime in 2022.

The Uptown Theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

–Brenda Galloway-Wright, Associate Archivist, Special Collections Research Center

Students and Community Engagement

The SpExplore Eastern North Philadelphia bannerecial Collections Research Center (SCRC) is pleased to present our latest faculty and student exhibit collaboration, Explore Eastern North (Philadelphia), a display of posters created by students in Associate Professor of Planning and Community Development Lynn Mandarano’s Community Development Workshop course in the Tyler School of Art and Architecture. This course is a capstone class for the Community Development major and the work displayed in this exhibit is the culmination of three years of work with the community partner, Asociacion Puertorriquenos en Marcha (APM).

After an initial orientation, where the entire class received an introduction to the SCRC and learned about finding and using archival materials, a smaller group of students, tasked with historical research of sites in the neighborhood, made several return visits to the SCRC reading room.Baker Bowl poster

Eventually, the students focused their efforts on sites in three areas: Lehigh Avenue, North 5th Street, and Germantown Avenue. SCRC collections used were photographs from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and items from our Urban Archives pamphlet collection.

These teams also conducted research at Taller Puertorriqueño, a community organization based in North Philadelphia that uses art and cultural programming to promote development within its community and the Puerto Rican and Latino Diaspora. In addition to archival research, students conducted neighborhood walkthroughs and interviewed community members to identify sites of historic significance.  

Lehigh Avenue walking tour mapAnother group of students tasked, with creating posters and graphics, received training and technical assistance from the Library’s Loretta C. Duckworth Scholars Studio to produce the eye-catching graphics and posters utilizing some of the materials located by the archival research teams.  A selection of those items from the SCRC are also on display, next to the posters that they inspired. 

Posters created by the students and a selection of photographs, pamphlets, and other related materials from the SCRC will be on display on the first floor of Charles Library in the main lobby throughout late January 2022.  

–Josue’ Hurtado, Coordinator of Public Services and Outreach, SCRC

The Church of the Advocate

Church of the Advocate Interior, 1953
Church of the Advocate interior, 1953

The George W. South Memorial Church of the Advocate was built between 1887 and 1897, honoring a Philadelphia merchant and civic leader. Noted church architect Charles M. Burns (1838-1922) designed the impressive structure in the Gothic Revival style, adorned with intricate stone carvings, flying buttresses, and striking stained glass windows. The church compound located at 18th and Diamond Streets in North Philadelphia included a chapel, parish house, clergy residence and baptistery.

 

Front of Church of the Advocate, 1979
Church of the Advocate, 1979

From its founding, the church leaders believed that religion should be “free for all time” and eliminated the widespread practice during that period of renting pews. This action made it possible for parishioners to attend services regardless of financial or social status. The church also provided missionary services to a growing middle and working-class immigrant community that lived and worked in the surrounding neighborhood. During the 1950s, the evolving social and economic factors in Philadelphia would eventually lead to a change in the church’s social mandate to address the needs of a previously white but now predominantly African American community in North Philadelphia.

 

Rev. Paul M. Washington, 1969
Rev. Paul M. Washington, 1969

Paul M. Washington served as rector for the Church of the Advocate from 1962 until his retirement in 1989. Under his leadership, the church played a significant role in the civil rights movement in Philadelphia. The church hosted major events including the Third National Conference on Black Power in 1968, the Black Panther Party Convention in 1970, and the rally to raise money for the Angela Davis Defense Fund in 1971. The church also offered a variety of social services and outreach programs to the surrounding neighborhood including The Advocate Café (soup kitchen) established in 1983 to provide meals and coordinate the distribution of gently used clothing to those in need.


In support of women’s rights, the Church of the Advocate hosted the ordination of the first eleven women deacons into the Episcopal Church priesthood on July 29, 1974. Episcopalian leadership mounted a challenge to the legitimacy of the ordination which ultimately failed under worldwide public scrutiny and mounting pressure from women’s advocacy groups. The ordination of women priests was approved at the denomination’s General Convention in 1976. Barbara Harris who served as a senior warden at the Church of the Advocate during that historic service would eventually become the first woman consecrated as a bishop in the Anglican Communion in 1989

Ordination of women priests, 1974
Ordination of women priests, 1974


Between 1973 and 1976, Reverend Washington commissioned local Black artists Walter Edmonds and Richard Watson to paint fourteen murals installed in the main sanctuary. These murals depict scenes from slavery to the civil rights movement and offered a connection between biblical themes and the Black experience in Africa and America.


The church building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, and designated a National Historic Landmark on June 19, 1996.

Church of the Advocate remains a showpiece of architectural design with a legacy of social activism amid the ever-changing landscape of North Philadelphia communities.

–Brenda Galloway-Wright, Associate Archivist, Special Collections Research Center

Photographs from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Photograph Collection, SCRC, digital.library.temple.edu

Creating Art in Quarantine: Temple University Libraries’ 2020 Mail Art Call: Summer Exhibit Opens in Charles Library

mail art image
“Luchando Contra Covid-19” by Sabela Baña, Spain

 

In 2020, Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) issued an open call for quarantine mail art to document this unprecedented time. We received 381 submissions from 158 artists from around the world. Mail artists, representing 25 countries and 24 of the United States including Puerto Rico, sent hundreds of pieces of art through international and domestic postal services to Temple’s campus over the course of the summer of 2020. The submissions, many in the traditional postcard format and employing elements of mixed media and collage art, directly reflect our shared experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic through images of masks, healthcare workers, the virus itself, and through references to sickness and social distancing. Some are overtly political while others are abstract expressions of the artists’ personal experience of quarantine. The submissions are on exhibit in Charles Library this summer, and some are being featured on the SCRC’s social media accounts as well.

What is Mail Art?

The term Mail Art was used as early as 1971 to describe a genre of art that had been making its way through the art world for over a decade. In the 1950s, American artist Ray Johnson (1927-1995) began mailing small drawings, collages, and prints to constituents in the art world, including his close friends, mild acquaintances, and even non-acquaintances such as artists, gallery owners, and curators. Through this form of correspondence art, a network of mail artists formed who utilized the postal system as part of the art-making process, embracing and often pushing the boundaries of that system. Artists would embellish the envelopes with drawings, rubber stamps, and collages, and some would manipulate the addresses with creative phonetics. Others experimented with the shipping container by using unconventional materials for postcards and envelopes. The physical apparatus of traditional correspondence became a playground for these artists. Opposing the mainstream art world, mail artists adhered to egalitarian principles. Their exhibitions were not juried, all submissions were accepted, and no fees were required of the artist for entry.exhibit case   image

The Call Goes Out in May 2020

In Spring 2020, Jill Luedke, Temple’s Art and Architecture Librarian, noted the reemerging popularity of mail art during the COVID-19 pandemic. She suggested that we do a new call for mail art that would create a unique record of the first summer of the pandemic when people around the world were in quarantines or lockdowns and officials were urging everyone to stay at home, wear masks, and socially distance. We announced the open call for quarantine mail art on May 18, 2020, and it ran until Labor Day, September 7, 2020. There were no limitations on medium or content. We just asked that submissions be in the mail art genre, specifically small scale works of art sent through the postal service. The call was open to all ages, all artistic abilities, Temple community members, and the general public.

exhibit caseAll submissions will be added to a new collection within the Special Collections Research Center’s existing Mail Art collections and made available in the SCRC for future educational and research use, including publication. Artists were asked to consider applying a CC-BY license to their submissions to facilitate long term access and use, but it was not required. We initially planned to exhibit submissions in late Fall 2020 around the Libraries’ planned programming theme of “Interruption,” but the exhibit was subsequently delayed until this summer. The call was publicized through social media, reaching out to local artists, and by submitting information about the open call to websites dedicated to mail art.

Temple, Tyler, and Mail Art

This is not Temple’s first mail art call, and the submissions sent to Temple Libraries this past summer join an existing mail art collection housed in the Special Collections Research Center. The original Mail Art Collection was built as a result of two separate calls for entries for mail art exhibitions in 1980 at Temple University. The Spring 1980 call was part of a class project with Tyler School of Art faculty Bilgé Friedlander and her students. Later in 1980, Friedlander invited Paley Library to participate, resulting in an exhibit in February 1981. The collection contains over 230 separately posted pieces of mail from over 170 artists, not counting anonymous contributions. All of the Mail Art collections, including the collection formed by the 2020 call, will be available for research use in the SCRC and will be used in instruction and outreach for years to come.

The Mail Art Exhibition Ethos

mail art image
Anonymous artist, New Mexico

The only standard policy for mail artists, informally agreed upon within the community, relates to the required exhibition of materials received in a mail art call, whether they are sent to an individual mail artist or to an institution. The rules for mail art shows are 1) no fees 2) no jury 3) all works are displayed, and 4) the exhibit must be documented, usually in a list of exhibited artists distributed to participants after the exhibit. Accordingly, we are exhibiting every piece of physical mail art that we could in the exhibit space on the 1st floor of Charles Library, and any work that is not able to be shown due to space restrictions will be featured on the Special Collections Research Center’s social media accounts. This exhibit was curated by staff members of Temple University Libraries’ SCRC: Kimberly Tully, Curator of Rare Books, and Ann Mosher, Bibliographic Assistant II, with assistance from Jill E. Luedke, Art and Architecture Librarian. A list of exhibited artists will be made available online shortly and upon request. Please send inquiries to scrc@temple.edu.

-Kimberly Tully, Librarian and Curator of Rare Books, SCRC

Burk Mansion

Burk Mansion 1945
“Symbolizing the end of the mansion era here,” December 29, 1945, Evening Bulletin photograph
1945-12-29

The Burk Mansion, 1500 North Broad Street, was constructed in 1907 by business magnate Alfred E. Burk. The Italian Renaissance Revival style mansion is one of the last of the surviving historic houses in Philadelphia built by wealthy industrialists during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The grand structure embodies an era of prosperity and grandeur along the once affluent North Broad Street thoroughfare.
The Burk family immigrated to the United States from Germany, settling in Philadelphia in 1854. Alfred was one of eight children born to David and Charlotte Reinman Burk. Alfred and his older brothers Charles and Henry founded Burk Brothers and Company, which manufactured and distributed glazed kid leather goods worldwide. He shared ownership with his brother Louis of the Garden Pier in Atlantic City and served as Vice-President of the Atlantic City Steel Pier Company. Burk was also involved in the political arena becoming a Pennsylvania delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1920. Burk died on May 13, 1921. He never married and willed his estate to his surviving sisters Louise and Minnie who resided in the home until 1942.


Burk Mansion was designed by Simon and Bassett, one of the most prestigious architectural firms in Philadelphia at the time, and constructed by John Gill and Company. The Mansion cost $256,000 to build (about 1.7 million in today’s dollars). The three-story building contained 27 rooms, and 7 bathrooms, and included a carriage house and garage that surrounded a beautiful enclosed outdoor garden space. On the eastern end of the property, Burk constructed a conservatory with and indoor garden and suite for the gardener. The large plate-glass windows on the conservatory allowed the public to admire the garden from the street. Like so many industrialists of his time, Burk presented an ostentatious display of his wealth and social status to those around him.

Burk Mansion living room
“The living room of the home of the late Alfred E. Burk at Broad and Jefferson sts. now is the office of a union’s president.” December 29, 1945, Evening Bulletin photograph

 

The Upholsterers International Union of North America (UIU) purchased the Burk Mansion in 1945 to serve as its headquarters for union operations. The UIU was organized in Chicago, Illinois in 1892, and represented workers employed in the upholstered furniture, wood furniture, bedding, burial casket, and canvas products industries and related crafts and trades. The UIU became affiliated with the American Federation of Labor in 1900. A split in the union rank and file over ideology and mission led to the formation of the United Furniture Workers of America in 1937. Despite this set back the UIU continued to move forward expanding its ranks from 20,000 members in 1937 to 30,000 members in 1940. Early union membership was comprised mostly of Jewish and Italian skilled workers. In 1955, the AFL merger with the Congress of Industrial Workers to form the AFL-CIO helped diversify the union base to include more Africans American and other minorities. By the 1970s, the UIU had roughly 60,000 members organized in 176 locals in the United States. In October 1985, the union merged with the United Steelworkers of America.

women making casket linings
UIU workers making casket interiors, 1950s, UIU Photograph Collection

The UIU’s renovations to the building included the installation of offices, an elevator, and an air conditioning system. A three-story addition was constructed on the north side of the property in 1953. However, by 1970 the UIU had outgrown the confines of the mansion as it shifted its organizing activities to the southern states following relocation of most of the furniture jobs.

union workers making gun covers
Union Workers Making Gun Covers at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, March 1960, UIU Photograph Collection


Temple University purchased Burk Mansion from UIU in September 1970 for $375, 000 and repurposed the property to use as a day care center and offices for the School of Social Administration and the Center for Social Policy and Community Development. The building was abandoned following a fire in the mid-1990s, and officially closed in 1995.  The Philadelphia Historic Commission endorsed the property as a historic site in January 1971, and it was included in the American Buildings Survey of the Library of Congress in July 1973.

To learn more about Upholsterer’s International Union of North America, view the following finding aids for collections found in the Special Collections Research Center.

Upholsterers International Union of North America Photograph Collection
Benjamin W. Barkas Papers

–Brenda Galloway-Wright, Associate Archivist

Muslim Manuscripts

Illuminated Frontispiece, 18th century
Polychrome and gold illuminated frontispiece (f. 1v). al-Qurʼān Manuscript, [Turkey?], [18th century], SCRC 447

The Special Collections Research Center holds four Islamic manuscripts, recently digitized as part of the consortial project Manuscripts of the Muslim World. The project is funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), and aims to digitize and make available online Islamic manuscripts and paintings from several institutions in the Philadelphia region and in New York. Materials digitized as part of the project include manuscripts in Arabic and Persian, along with examples of Coptic, Samaritan, Syriac, Turkish, and Berber.

The process for cataloging and digitizing Temple’s four manuscripts was extremely collaborative. First, three Temple Libraries staff, Katy Rawdon, Kimberly Tully, and Matthew Ducmanas, attended an afternoon workshop, Introduction to Islamic Manuscripts for Librarians, held by Kelly Tuttle at the University of Pennsylvania, which covered the basics of understanding this wide-ranging and complex manuscript tradition.

Image of Prophet Muhammad's mosque, circa 1801
Prophet Muhammad’s mosque (f. 16v). Jazūlī, Muḥammad ibn Sulaymān. Dalāʼil al-khayrāt Manuscript, [Egypt], [1801], SCRC 441

Katy created catalog records for the four manuscripts, with review by Kim and Matt. Due to COVID- and staffing-related issues, Temple was unable to digitize the volumes in house, but Mitch Fraas, Senior Curator the University of Pennsylvania’s Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, offered their services. After digitization, Kelly reviewed the catalog records, comparing them to the digital images, and suggested corrections and additions before adding them to the Manuscripts of the Muslim World digital collection. Michael Carroll, Bibliographic Assistant III in Temple’s Metadata & Digitization Services Department, added the images to Temple’s own digital collection.

Illuminated headpiece, 1681
Illuminated headpiece (f. 1v). Anqirāwī, Shujāʻ ibn Nūr Allāh, Ḥall al-mushkilāt Manuscript, [Turkey?], 1681, SCRC 448



The result of this collaboration is that, despite the challenges brought by the past year, Temple’s four Islamic manuscripts are now available online. These include an early 19th century manuscript copy of Muḥammad ibn Sulaymān al-Jazūlī’s famous collection of prayers and devotions to the Prophet Muḥammad; an 18th century Qurʼān, possibly Turkish; a 17th century Hanafi treatise on Islamic inheritance law titled Ḥall al-mushkilāt, and a 19th century Arabic manuscript of a Muslim religious treatise on prayer titled Hādhā kitāb munyat al-muṣallī.

All images and descriptive metadata for manuscripts in the Manuscripts of the Muslim World project are released into the public domain with easily downloadable at high resolution via University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ OPenn manuscript portal. SCRC’s digitized manuscripts for the project have also been added to Temple Libraries’ Digital Collections.


–Katy Rawdon, Coordinator of Technical Services, SCRC

In Memoriam: Tom Whitehead

Whitehead at podiumTemple University Libraries mourns the loss of Thomas Whitehead, who worked for 45 years to  grow the extraordinary archives and special collections held by the Libraries today. 

Tom’s long and distinguished career in special collections librarianship began at Syracuse University, where he served in the Rare Book Department, first as cataloger and then as bibliographer. A native of Jamestown, New York, Tom received his BA from Bucknell University with a major in history and a minor in mathematics. He received his MLS from Syracuse University, where he also spent time as a lecturer in the School of Library Science, teaching a graduate course entitled “The Library and the Adult Reader.”

On August 14, 1967, little more than a year after Paley Library opened, Tom came to Temple as Rare Book Librarian.  Through the years, Tom’s titles changed but his passion for rare books and manuscripts remained constant. Over the course of five decades, he acquired amazing additions to special collections, ranging from a stunning William Morris Kelmscott Chaucer, to illuminated manuscripts, to a wonderful Holinshed’s Chronicle. One of his final endeavors was completion of an extraordinary lithographic manual collection, including an 1818 edition of Aloys Senefelder’s classic work on lithography, considered one of the most important books published in the nineteenth century.

Whitehead in rare book vault
Tom Whitehead with the Kelmscott Chaucer, 1986

Tom  brought many wonderful manuscript collections to Temple ranging from the literary papers of poet Lyn Lifshin, to the records of the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Task Force, to the papers of Father Paul Washington and the papers of Franklin Littell, a father of  American Holocaust Studies. Other significant collections expanded by Tom include the Contemporary Culture Collection; the Science Fiction and Fantasy Collection; printing, publishing, and bookselling collections; and the list goes on and on. One of Tom’s lasting legacies is our Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Collection. Temple is the home of this incomparable resource documenting 20th century Philadelphia because of Tom’s single-handed efforts to save the material and house the archives here.

Starting in 1968, Tom was active in the Philobiblon Club of Philadelphia, serving as its secretary and on its board.  As collector with wide reaching interests and a printer, “Amber Beetle Press,”  he had a natural affinity with the Philobiblon members who are collectors, dealers, and curators. 

Tom also served as Temple’s representative to the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) from the organization’s inception in 1985 until 2006. He retired as Senior Curator for Rare Books and Literary Manuscripts in January 2013.  His retirement occasioned donations to the collections in his honor, and SCRC again plans to acquire an appropriate item dedicated to his memory.

Tom made an indelible impact on our special collections and the scholars and researchers who use them–a legacy that will continue to benefit future generations. 

–Margery Sly, Director, Special Collections Research Center 


Around North Philadelphia : Progress Plaza

Progress PlazaProgress Plaza is the oldest shopping center owned and controlled by African-Americans in the United States. The two-million-dollar development located in the 1500 Block of North Broad Street opened in 1968, and was a dream realized by civil rights leader Reverend Leon Howard Sullivan and members of the Zion Baptist Church in North Philadelphia. Throughout its more than 50-year history Progress Plaza remains a shining example of the power of self-help through community investment, job training, and entrepreneurship.

Reverend Leon Howard Sullivan became pastor of Zion Baptist Church located at Broad and Venango Streets in 1950. From his pulpit Sullivan organized social and economic initiatives designed to uplift the lives of African-Americans and other disadvantaged groups, including the “selective patronage” campaign which boycotted Philadelphia area businesses that followed discriminatory hiring practices; the creation of the job training program Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC); and the 10-36 Investment Plan.OIC classroom

Rev. Sullivan believed that both social and economic activism must exist to address inequality in America. On Sunday, June 15, 1962, he introduced his “10-36 Plan” to his church parishioners. He asked his members to invest 10 dollars per month for 36 months. The Plan generated much support, receiving 200 membership donations in one day. The Plan would eventually grow to include more than 3,000 shareholders. The 10-36 Plan established two organizations, Zion Non-Profit Charitable Trust (ZNPCT) and Zion Investment Associates (ZIA), which became Progress Investment Associates (PIA) in 1977. With $400,000 dollars in investor’s money and a negotiated deal with the Philadelphia Council for Community Development (PCCD) and the Redevelopment Authority to secure land on Broad Street, PIA received a loan from First Pennsylvania Bank to start construction of Progress Plaza.

Rev. Sullivan at dedication
Reverend Leon Sullivan at dedication

The dedication ceremony for Progress Plaza took place on October 27, 1968, and nearly 10,000 people attended the historic event. The Plaza officially opened on November 19, 1968, and leased space to nine African-American small businesses and six white owned establishments, including an A&P Supermarket. The large-scale project created numerous construction jobs for graduates from the OIC Training Program and, under a negotiated contract, the chain store tenants at the Plaza agreed to offer managerial opportunities to African American applicants. The ZNPCT also secured funding from the U. S. Department of Commerce, the U. S. Department of Labor, and the Ford Foundation to establish at Progress Plaza the Entrepreneurial Development Training Center to instruct 200 African Americans annually on how to start and manage new businesses.

The Plaza attracted many national figures. In 1968, Presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon toured the facility as part of his campaign to encourage “Black Capitalism.” President Barrack Obama held a campaign rally there in 2008, and Michelle Obama visited Fresh Grocer at Progress Plaza to promote her “Let’s Move” campaign in 2010.

Progress Plaza struggled to survive amid the urban unrest and mass exodus of businesses and population from blighted areas of Philadelphia to the suburbs. After the SuperFresh Market at the Plaza closed in 1999, it would be 10 years before PIA brought in Fresh Grocer to anchor a 22-million-dollar renovation and expansion of the Plaza. The Plaza was later renamed Sullivan Progress Plaza in honor of Sullivan who died in 2001.Women shopping

In September 2016, the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission (PHMC) erected a historical marker on Broad Street to acknowledge Progress Plaza and its founder Reverend Leon Howard Sullivan’s contribution to this nation’s history.

Progress Plaza celebrated its 50th anniversary on October 27, 2018. It remains a symbol of economic resilience and pride in the surrounding North Philadelphia community.

To learn more about Reverend Sullivan and his work worldwide, view the following finding aids found in the Special Collections Research Center.
https://library.temple.edu/finding_aids/opportunities-industrialization-centers-of-america
https://library.temple.edu/finding_aids/opportunities-industrialization-centers-international
https://library.temple.edu/finding_aids/international-council-for-equality-of-opportunity-principles

– Brenda Galloway-Wright, Associate Archivist, SCRC



Celebrating Woman Suffrage

Suffragists outside the White House, 1917
Suffragists demonstrating outside White House, 1917

Today we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the  U. S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote.

Long before August 18, 1920, when the woman suffrage movement brought about the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, women were making themselves heard in a variety of ways that broadly transformed the American experience. The Greater Philadelphia region has a strong tradition of women’s initiatives to expand their rights and opportunities through political participation, education, work, property-holding, and cultural activities. The region’s archives reflect Philadelphia’s Quaker origins and the Quaker traditions of women’s equality and outspokenness; the city’s role as a center for African-American politics and culture; and the development of institutions such as the world’s first medical college for women, among many other topics.

Taken together, these collections demonstrate that the campaign for woman suffrage did not happen in a vacuum, but was the result of decades of women of all kinds moving out of the home and into the schools and workplaces of the nation.Suffragettes

In Her Own Right: Women Asserting Their Civil Rights, 1820-1920, showcases Philadelphia-area collections highlighting women’s struggle leading to the passage of the 19th Amendment.  In Her Own Right is multi-phase project organized by members of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL), with generous funding from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the Council on LIbrary and Information Resources, the New Century Trust, and the Delmas Foundation.
 
Mildred Lillian Ennis , Class of 1919, Frederick Douglass Memorial Hospital and Training School
Participating organizations are digitizing and describing content which is uploaded regularly to the database.  Visit http://www.inherownright.org/ to start exploring that content–which will grow to at least 150,000 frames before the project concludes in Spring 2021.

 

–In Her Own Right project team

Call for Quarantine Mail Art

Mail art flyer, 2020Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) has issued an open call for quarantine mail art. We’re collaborating with our Learning & Research Services colleague, Art and Architecture Librarian Jill Luedke, who has worked closely with the SCRC’s existing Mail Art Collection.  She noticed the reemerging popularity of mail art during the COVID-19 pandemic and suggested that we do a new call for mail art to help document this unprecedented time.

What is Mail Art?

The term mail art was used as early as 1971 to describe a genre of art that had been making its way through the art world for over a decade. In the late 1950s, American artist Ray Johnson began mailing small drawings, collages, and prints to constituents in the art world, including his close friends, mild acquaintances, and even non-acquaintances such as artists, gallery owners, and curators. Through this correspondence, a network of mail artists formed who utilized the postal system as part of the art making process, embracing and often pushing the boundaries of that system. Artists would embellish the envelopes with drawings, rubber stamps, and collages; some manipulated the addresses with creative phonetics. Others experimented with the shipping container by using unconventional materials for postcards and envelopes. In opposition to the mainstream art world, mail artists adhered to egalitarian principles. Their exhibitions were not juried, all submissions were accepted, and no fees were required of the artist for entry.

Mail Art in the SCRC’s Contemporary Culture Collection

1980 mail art solicitation postcardForty years ago Temple University issued its first mail art call for submissions, and the mail art collection began. The original collection was built as a result of two separate calls for entries for Mail Art exhibitions in 1980 at Temple. The Spring 1980 call was part of a class project with Tyler School of Art faculty Bilge Friedlander and her students. Later in 1980, Friedlander invited Paley Library to participate, resulting in an exhibit in February 1981. The collection, now housed in the Special Collections Research Center, contains over 230 separately posted pieces of mail from over 170 artists, not counting anonymous contributions.  Contributors sent pieces from all over the United States, and there are even some international pieces. A selection of the SCRC’s mail art was exhibited in a Spring 2017 exhibit in Paley Library.
Mail art image
We announced the current open call for quarantine mail art on May 18, 2020, and it will run until Labor Day, September 7, 2020. There are no limitations on medium or content; we just ask that submissions be in the mail art genre, specifically small scale works of art sent through the postal service. The call is open to all ages, all artistic abilities, Temple community members, and the general public. All submissions will be added to the Special Collections Research Center’s Mail Art Collection and made available in the SCRC for future educational and research use, including publication. Artists are asked to consider applying a CC-BY license to facilitate long term access and use, but it is not required. We will exhibit submissions in late Fall 2020 in Charles Library around the theme of “Interruption.” 

Mail art EnvelopePlease send your mail art to:
SCRC, Charles Library
Temple University
1900 N. 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122

We look forward to seeing your submissions!

-Jill Luedke, Art and Architecture Librarian, and Kimberly Tully, Curator of Rare Books