Category Archives: History News

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

 

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Memory Lane table
2019

Every year, the Ginsburg Health Sciences Library is pleased to work with the Lewis Katz School of Medicine (LKSOM) to create a display for their Alumni Weekend. Entitled A Walk Down Memory Lane, this two-table display features enlarged images from the ‘landmark’ reunion years — those experiencing their 25th and 50th reunions. Library staff create this display using the resources available through Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) and their online digitized library of yearbooks. The yearbook for LKSOM, The Skull, is available to browse online all the way back to 1925! Ginsburg Library staff download high-quality images of landmark years that are posted on display boards for alumni to view. In addition we bring print copies of the yearbook, in 5-year increments, going back 60 years, from the library’s print collection.

Medical students, 1970
from 1970 Skull

This year, everything changed due to COVID-19. LKSOM’s Alumni Weekend was originally scheduled for the weekend of May 1-2, 2020. When it was canceled to adhere to social distancing guidelines, library and alumni staff brainstormed the idea of moving the yearbook highlights online. Staff at the Ginsburg Library worked together to create a website, which features the landmark 50th and 25th year reunions. We curated representative photos from the SCRC digital yearbook collection linking directly to the yearbook and the history for each class.

Another page directs viewers to digital copies of The Skull in increments of five years for the last 60 years. 

Cover of 1980 Skull

Although alumni cannot be together in person to celebrate this year, we hope that the work done by these three units helped to create a virtual trip down memory lane!

Class does the wave
The class of 1995 does The Wave



–Courtney Eger and Jenny Pierce
Ginsburg Health Sciences LIbrary

Alumni Resources for Reunion Weekend and Beyond!

A virtual welcome to all Temple University alumni!

We offer these resources to help celebrate your time at TU, jog your reminiscences, settle wagers, and reinforce memories those great times on campus.

Enjoy these digitized resources on the Libraries’ website:

Aerial view of Temple campus, 1960
Aerial view of campus, 1960


Temple History in Photographs  features faculty, staff, building, event, and other images of campus (and founder Russell Conwell’s life) 

 

 

 

1980 Templar coverTemple Yearbooks includes undergraduate yearbooks, volumes from other campuses, and books published by the professional schools, 1900 – present.

 

 

 

 

 

and coming soon, we will start adding runs of Temple News.  Temple News masthead 2001

 

To see how the Ginsburg Health Sciences Library uses these resources to celebrate reunions at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, take A Walk Down Memory Lane.

–Temple University Archives in the Special Collections Research Center

Instruction Transitions in the SCRC: New Opportunities and Challenges

Alice Price’s Text + Image Course

When the new Charles Library opened in August 2019, the librarians and archivists who do instruction using the Special Collections Research Center collections were perhaps most excited about the new classroom adjacent to the department (Multipurpose Room 113). In the SCRC’s old space in Paley Library, instruction classes  were almost always conducted in the reading room, which was never an ideal situation.

In the new classroom in Charles, which accommodates around 40 people comfortably, we are able to welcome faculty and students without disturbing our individual researchers in the reading room. In addition, the new classroom space has movable tables and chairs which allows for a variety of setups for display of materials and seating during classes. Standard classroom technology in the form of a projection system and a large screen were also a major upgrade to our existing instruction infrastructure. And, finally, an overhead document or “eye in the sky” camera that enables instructors to project images of physical materials, a page of a rare volume or an archival document in real time, was installed this spring to complete the instructional technology in the space.

Alyssa Piro’s Artist Book, Zines and Independent Publishing Course

The first class held in the new space in Charles was Alyssa Piro’s Artist Books, Zines and Independent Publishing (ARTU 2351) on September 10, 2019. The class was co-facilitated by Kimberly Tully, Curator of Rare Books in the SCRC, and Jill Luedke, Art and Architecture Librarian in Learning and Research Services. The plan for the class was an online introduction to zine culture, copyright, and Creative Commons using the screen and projection system, and then students were invited to browse a selection of zines from the SCRC displayed on the tables in the physical space. This collaboration between librarians to provide both context for class-specific materials and access to the materials themselves has been made much easier in the new classroom.

Throughout the 2019-2020 academic year, the SCRC continued to welcome back returning classes and welcome new faculty and students from a variety of academic departments, including History, English, Photography, Printmaking, Art History, Political Science, Criminal Justice, Latin, Intellectual Heritage, Latin American Studies, Geography and Urban Studies, Journalism, Media Studies, Sociology, and Dance. We also continued to welcome classes from area institutions such as the University of the Arts , Bryn Mawr College, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Liv Raddatz, Philadelphia Mosaic class

Depending on the nature of the course and the learning objective for the visit, SCRC instructors were able to use technology seamlessly to introduce students to the SCRC and how to access materials and, through the department website, the Libraries’ catalog, finding aids, and digital collections. Instructors were also able to display materials in a variety of different room configurations to facilitate student hands-on assignments and engagement. The concept of a “humanities laboratory” came alive again in the SCRC classroom this year in Charles.

Amanda D’Amico’s 2D Foundation Principles Course

The importance of the new space is reflected in use statistics.  During the fall 2019 semester, we welcomed  59 instruction sessions, each individually tailored to the courses’ syllabi and the instructors’ needs.  In the shortened Spring 2020 semester, we offered 39 sessions before mid-March.

The new dedicated classroom in Charles Library has transformed the Special Collections Research Center’s instructional services, but with new opportunities come new challenges. In March 2020, when all classes at Temple moved to online instruction amidst the COVID-19 pandemic response, many of our scheduled class visits for the final weeks of classes were cancelled or altered. We were able to assist some faculty and students in wrapping up their on-site research in the final weeks of on-campus instruction. And in at least two instances since mid-March, SCRC instructors have maintained their commitment to primary source  literacy by presenting SCRC materials during a class session over Zoom and by interacting with students and faculty in Canvas. While we look forward to connecting students and faculty with our collections in a physical space once again soon, SCRC staff are also exploring how we will continue to adapt. Like many special collections repositories, we  have  some digital collections to draw upon to support both individual research and online instruction, and SCRC public services and instruction staff continue to be available to answer remote research questions and assist in online instruction. Please contact us at scrc@temple.edu for more information.

-Kimberly Tully
Curator of Rare Books

National Submarine Day

 

Sailors on deck of submarine
Submarine Day, 1960

Did you know April 11 is celebrated as Submarine Day?   In 2020, we salute the day as the 120th anniversary of the United States’  purchase of  its first commissioned submarine in 1900, the USS Holland. The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin snapped this image at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard’s memorial service highlighting the day in 1960.

You can hop on deck of a real submarine, the USS Becuna, docked at Philadelphia’s Independence Seaport Museum. Designated in 1986 as a National Historic Landmark for its service in WWII and part of the Independence Seaport Museum’s Historic Ship Zone since 1996, USS Becuna continues to be a popular tourist attraction for the city.

Submarine docking at marinaThe Philadelphia Evening Bulletin captured this image as the Becuna was moved into Penn’s Landing Marina as a new tourist attraction on June 22, 1976.

The SCRC holds many other images of this historic submarine

–Ann Mosher, BA II, SCRC

Making the Renaissance Manuscript

Page with excised coat of armsThe Special Collections Research Center is very pleased to announce the opening of Making the Renaissance Manuscript: Discoveries from Philadelphia Libraries, an exhibition at the University of Pennsylvania.  It features a manuscript from Temple’s Harry  C. Cochran History of Business Collection, built by a Temple business school faculty member.  Temple is one of nine regional lenders to this exhibition of eighty-eight items.

Our item is included in the “Politics, Economics, and the Merchant Class” section of the exhibition–and in the stunning exhibition catalog which accompanies it.   In addition, Curator Nick Herman’s blog provides additional context and information.   A codex in Italian, created by Giorgio de Lorenzo Chiarini (circa 1400-     ), “Tracta di mercantie et usanze di paesi (Book of Trade and Customs of Countries),” Florence, Italy, 1481, the manuscript is  a “commercial manual for the Renaissance merchant.” It features the “types of goods available in a large number of cities, as well as the units of measure and coinage used, their denominations, and their exchanges rates with principal domestic currencies.”  sample page

The exhibit, and its sister exhibit, Reflections on Medieval Life, soon to open at the Free Library of Philadelphia, are a celebration of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries’  Council on Library and Information Resources  Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis project, It supported digitization and enhanced cataloging of medieval and renaissance manuscripts throughout the region–including 43 from Temple.  The Free Lbrary exhibition will feature two additional items from Temple’s Cochran collection–more on that soon.

–Margery N. Sly, Director, SCRC

 

 

From the Philadelphia Jewish Archives: The Sea Captain’s House and the Mysterious Marble Heist

Philadelphia paper manufacturer, Leon J. Perelman started collecting mechanical penny banks in 1958 after visiting a hobby show in Fort Madison, Iowa. Eventually, he amassed over 3,000 banks, tin and cast iron toys produced from the late 1860s through the 1910s. First patented in 1865, mechanical penny banks were designed to encourage children to save money by providing entertainment and amusement with one or more mechanical actions when a penny was deposited in the slot for safekeeping. Perelman’s collection was considered the largest private collection of antique toys in the world by some estimates. In addition to penny banks, Perelman’s collection also featured cap pistols, dolls, cast iron vehicles such as fire engines and stage coaches, and a reference library containing patent papers on mechanical banks. Although there is no mention in the official collection guide, the museum also contained antique glass and agate marbles.

Boys playing with toys

Nathanial McDaniel (left) and Chris Cherubini (right) play with mechanical bank at Cayuga Federal Savings and Loan Association, 11th and Market Streets Branch, 1964Perelman initially used his Merion, Pa., home to display his antique toys, erecting an addition in 1962 to accommodate his growing collection and offer public museum hours. In a 1967 agreement with the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, Perelman purchased the historic Abercrombie House near the corner of 2nd and Spruce Streets to create a new museum space. The four-story brick house, named for Royal Navy officer Captain James Abercrombie who purchased the site in 1758 and built the home shortly thereafter, was considered one of the largest Colonial- era homes in the city. The Philadelphia Historical Commission designated the property to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 1957. Perelman’s restoration of the building was part and parcel of the mid-twentieth century urban renewal taking place in Society Hill and other neighborhoods throughout the city. Renovations took two years at a cost of $300,000, with John Frederick Lloyd serving as the architect. The new Perelman Antique Toy Museum celebrated its grand opening in January 1969 with the Director of the United States Mint Eva Adams and Mayor of Philadelphia James H. J. Tate in attendance.

Perelman Antique Toy Museum brochure, undated
Perelman Antique Toy Museum brochure, undated

For nearly twenty years, the Perelman Antique Toy Museum amused children and adults alike, but on August 5, 1988, Perelman lost his marbles in a smash and grab job that would close the museum forever. Although the local press did not report on the museum heist in the days immediately following the robbery, Maine Antique Digest was able to interview museum curator, Michael Tritz about the day’s events. According to Tritz, he was preparing to open the museum for the day, when the thieves entered the museum, bound and gagged him, and forced him into a restroom. He recounted “I heard one of them upstairs hammering at the display cases. I thought he was getting into all of them . . . but all he could break was the case with marbles in it on the third floor.” The 5/8″ thick bulletproof glass foiled their attempt to steal any of Perelman’s coveted mechanical penny banks. Tritz estimated one of the thieves spent about 45 minutes trying to break the display cases while the other watched the door. Perelman shuttered the museum the day after the robbery. It wasn’t until The Philadelphia Inquirer published a piece on August 31, declaring the “Toy museum is no more,” that antique toy enthusiasts and museum goers learned about the robbery. There is no evidence the thieves were ever caught or the marbles recovered. Within a few weeks, Perelman sold the estimated $3 million toy collection to New York-based art and toy dealer, Alexander Acevedo who dissolved the collection in a series of invitation-only sales to collectors and dealers.

Letter to Leon Perelman regarding museum closing, October 22, 1988
Letter to Leon Perelman regarding museum closing, October 22, 1988

Perelman’s papers, including records related to the operation of the Perelman Antique Museum, and his term as Dropsie University president are now available for research use in the Special Collections Research Center.

Jessica M. Lydon, Associate Archivist, SCRC

From the Philadelphia Jewish Archives: WWII Troops Put on a Show

Joseph L. Pollock in costume as Dr. Quilton J. Foss, 1945
Joseph L. Pollock in costume as Dr. Quilton J. Foss, 1945

Joseph L. Pollock was a social studies teacher, principal, and administrator for the Philadelphia School District from 1947 until his retirement in 1984. In the 1960s, Pollock worked for the Philadelphia Board of Education, first as assistant to the president of the Board of Public Education, and then as director of informational services, a new division formed to improve effective citizen and community participation in school affairs and serve as a resource center and dissemination agency for school information. In addition to his classroom teaching activities, Pollock also wrote and produced radio and television programs for the Philadelphia School District’s Division of Radio-Television Education in the 1950s.

A few years before his foray into the education sphere, while serving in the United States Army, and shortly after V-E Day (May 8, 1945), Pollock co-wrote a burlesque production of Bizet’s opera Carmen with fellow soldier Fredd Wayne  Originally intended as a three-day regimental show at the town hall in Tauberbischofsheim, Germany, in June 1945, the performance was so well received by soldiers and military personnel, that the Special Services Division booked the troupe for a tour that lasted eight months, ending in January 1946. Performances were held in Heidelberg, Wiesbaden, Berlin, Bremen, Brussels, Paris, Rome, Vienna, and Nuremberg, among other places. The show’s 142 performances were witnessed by more than 250,000 troops and civilians in post-war Europe.

Exterior of Walhalla Theater, Wiesbaden, July 1945
Exterior of Walhalla Theater, Wiesbaden, July 1945

The original cast of G.I. Carmen consisted of 44 combat veterans from the 253rd Regiment, 63rd Infantry Division. Wayne was tasked with playing the lead role. Pollock initially played the role of Dr. Quilton J. Floss, a character parodying Milton Cross, an American radio announcer best known for his New York’s Metropolitan Opera House broadcasts. Pollock would later serve as company manager. Costumes for the production were obtained from the Scala Theater in Berlin and music provided by a thirteen piece band directed by jazz guitarist Marty Faloon. The bawdy comedy was done in the style of Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson’s Hellzapoppin, a gag-filled musical revue that ran on Broadway between 1938 and 1941.

Tophat Tales, October 21, 1945
Tophat Tales, October 21, 1945

Throughout the run of the show, articles and reviews in numerous GI, military, and civilian newspapers lauded the quality of the production. A day after G.I. Carmen arrived at Camp Tophat’s Paramount Theater in Antwerp, Belgium, the following rave review appeared in Tophat Tales:  “…Wayne and Pollock have caught the GI humour of a [Bill] Mauldin and transplanted it to the stage with a maximum of wit, originality, and the sure-fire knowledge of the likes of a soldier audience.”

Pollock’s papers, including records related to his work as an educator, his World War II military service, and the production of G.I. Carmen are now available for research in the Special Collections Research Center.

Jessica M. Lydon

Associate Archivist, SCRC

From the Philadelphia Jewish Archives: Substance Use Disorder Awareness and the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia

JACS pamphletFor years, there was a widely held belief amongst many members of the Jewish community that Jews were immune from alcoholism and addiction. According to Rabbi Abraham Twerski, a psychiatrist specializing in substance use disorder, “Any other diagnosis [was] acceptable…even schizophrenia.” This belief became untenable in the 1970s as more and more afflicted Jews could no longer be ignored. Some within the community sought to bring to light the pervasive denial while removing the damaging stigma associated with substance abuse. At the forefront was Dr. Twerski. He spoke publicly, advocated for the revision of the 12-step recovery model to fit Judaism, and founded the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in 1972. More advocates joined the fight not long after. In 1980, a group consisting of recovering Jews and their families called Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others (JACS) formed in New Yok City. The group dedicated itself to encouraging and assisting Jews suffering from substance use disorder and their families while promoting knowledge and understanding of the disease as it involved the Jewish community.

Around the same time in Philadelphia, members of the Jewish Family and Children’s Agency, the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia, and other community leaders formed the Chemical Dependence Task Force. While the task force was able to plan and execute some amount of recovery programming and education, the group was only able to meet periodically due to their primary responsibilities. Sensing the need for an organization dedicated solely to promoting substance use disorder education and recovery in the Jewish community, task force members, along with other recovery community representatives, united to form the Philadelphia branch of Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others. While initially associated with the NYC branch, Philadelphia JACS became their own entity by incorporating in August 1984. Philadelphia’s mission remained similar to NYC’s JACS programs including raising awareness through the media; offering yearly retreats to bring the afflicted and their families together; and starting AA, NA, and Al-Anon meetings in synagogues around the area.

Addiction and Jews conference flierFrom its inception, JACS shared strong ties to the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia. The Board of Rabbis provided office space as well as material, logistical, and programming support. But beyond support for JACS, perhaps the Board of Rabbis’ most significant contribution to the recovery community was the co-sponsoring and coordination of the 2nd National Conference on Addiction and Jews in 1987. After the success of the first conference in New York in 1986, the Council of Jewish Federations asked the Board of Rabbis “to convene and coordinate the next national conference to be housed in Philadelphia.” The title of the conference was “Addiction and Jews: Its Impact on the Individual, The Family, and the Community.” The programming cast a wide net and was considered a step forward for the Philadelphia recovery community.

To learn more about Board of Rabbis’ records collection, contact Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center at scrc@temple.edu or visit https://library.temple.edu/collections/5

Casey Babcock

–Project Archivist, SCRC

 

Where’s SCRC?

Charles construction July 2019It’s been a long time since you’ve heard from us in the Special Collections Research Center…because of our move to the new Charles Library.

Boxes stored in the boxbotIn the interim, we’ve learned how to use the “Boxbot” and loaded over 12,000 boxes into it. We’ve shifted over 5000 feet of materials into the Library Depository. And we’re hoping to start moving the final 7000 feet of materials, including the contents of the rare book vault, into basement storage in Charles in early August.

We’ve been answering your questions as best we can, given the periodic inaccessibility of parts of the collection.  Thanks to so many of you who are waiting patiently for us to reopen and answer your questions or who have changed your research schedule to allow for our closure.  Thanks, too, to our patient donors who have held collections until we are ready to receive them this fall.

Now is the time for faculty members who want to schedule instruction sessions with us to start sending us those requests.  We very much look forward to hosting you in our new instruction room and working with you and your students.

SCRC reading room
SCRC reading room

Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with questions:  215-204-8257 or scrc@temple.edu .  We look forward to serving you in our new space in late August/early September.

–SCRC staff