Category Archives: History News

Metadata Nerdvana

Metadata enhancement 2017 05 12Fueled by pizza, cookies, caffeine, a love of description, and the desire to expose more content about women’s history to interested users, 25 archivists, librarians, and graduate students gathered at Temple University Libraries on Friday, May 12, 2017, for a metadata enhancement event.

The Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries is concluding a one-year NEH planning grant, “In Her Own Right: Women Asserting Their Civil Rights, 1820-1920.”  This pilot  project is designed to identify and aggregate material documenting the early struggle for women’s rights in the collections of PACSCL’s members, focusing on women’s efforts to improve the lives of women, children, and families in the 19th and early 20th century, leading to passage of the 19th Amendment and suffrage for white women.  When completed, collection metadata and representative images will be accessible through a single interface–all in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary suffrage in 2020.Metadata Enhancement

Our project surveyor reviewed 45 nominated collections from 8 PACSCL institutions around themes of the woman suffrage movement, work-related rights and professional opportunities, education, civic activism, and related issues. And from those, the steering committee identified ten collections from seven institutions for the pilot interface. These collections are centered on three themes: 1) Nineteenth Century Work and Friendship Across Racial Lines, 2) Philanthropy or Self-Determination in the Progressive-Era City, and 3) Medical Women Confront Race, Professionalism, and Respectability.  Member institutions scanned content, but a tight time frame did not always allow for robust description.

The brain child of Margaret Graham, Scott Ziegler, and the InHOR project Tech Group, this metadata enhancement event was designed to add searchable data for the letters, journals, diaries, scrapbooks, publications, and pamphlets that tell the story of women working for their and other’s rights.    With the additional data, students and scholars will be able to make maps, timelines, network graphs, and other visualizations. This is an experimental approach to enhancing library records for unique items.  For students, this was a great way to get started understanding metadata and its role in visualization and digital scholarship, to meet people in the field who share these interests, and to build their resumes. For digital humanists, archivists, librarians, public historians and everyone, this was a great way to come together as a community to ensure this material is as useful as possible for us all.sign up spreadsheet

And the results, after almost 4 hours of concentrated work:

Number of items with subjects added: 94

Number of items with names added: 99

Number of items with geospatial info added: 71

Number of items with transcriptions added: 40

Thanks to all the participants for their hard work (four hours of almost silent concentration)! The results are impressive and will make the end product infinitely more useful for us all.


What in the World is a Vertical File?


1971 report about the Charrette
Charrette report, 1971

Libraries and archives often maintain what they arcanely call “vertical files,” defined by Merriam-Webster as “a collection of articles (as pamphlets and clippings) that is maintained (as in a library) to answer brief questions or to provide points of information not easily located.” Other definitions note that the items in the file are too minor to require individual cataloging. And “vertical” refers to the actual storage orientation of the file folders—upright, often in a filing cabinet.

These files are simultaneously rich and idiosyncratic in content. A user never knows what might turn up and learns to enjoy the serendipity of finding a rich file, while being resigned to the disappointment of a skinny one.

Franklin Theater Program., circa 1930
Franklin Theater Program., circa 1930

Temple University Libraries’ Special Collection Research Center maintains several such files. In the Philadelphia Jewish Archives, there are the Vertical Files on the Jewish Community of Greater Philadelphia which is an accumulation of items that document Jewish history in Philadelphia. The collection include photocopies of newspaper articles, pamphlets, family histories and genealogies, ephemeral items such as brochures, flyers and event programs and other miscellaneous materials relating to persons, places, organizations, and topical subjects. The files provide background information on cultural and historical events, businesses, and community members of the Jewish community in the Greater Philadelphia region and parts of southern New Jersey.

Russell and Sarah Conwell
Russell and Sarah Conwell

The inventory to the Temple University Archives Vertical File  was recently put on line. It documents Temple’s founder Russell Conwell and many aspects of the University’s history. The collection contains publications, pamphlets, flyers and event programs, newspaper clippings, and other materials gathered from university offices and various news sources relating to persons, places, organizations, and topical subjects that document Temple University.

We’re reviewing the Science Fiction Collection Vertical File and the Dance Collection Vertical Files and hope to have information available about their contents soon.

Archbishop Tutu at Temple, January 14, 1986
Archbishop Tutu at Temple, January 14, 1986

Are these vertical files going the way of the dinosaur? At the moment, they are often superior to any search engine—or at least as good as the staff who faithfully gather and file the items—and serve as a great starting point and resource for many topics. Did you want to know about the Temple-Community Charrette of 1970; the model UN Conference that began at Temple in 1946; what Desmond Tutu said to the Temple community when he received an honorary degree in 1986? Start with the vertical file!


–Margery Sly, Director, SCRC

Amateur Press Associations and Science Fiction Fandom

Song 'It's Eney's Fault"
“It’s Eney’s Fault.” Target: FAPA in the combozine Alexandria Trio, FAPA mailing #105, November 1963. Fantasy Amateur Press Association Publications, SCRC 256, Special Collections Research Center.

Amateur Press Associations, or APAs, began in the late nineteenth century as groups of amateur printers. The first APA was the National Amateur Press Association (NAPA), founded in 1876. The associations function by distributing “mailings” containing materials created by its members, copied (if necessary), and compiled by a central person. The   compiled submissions were mailed back out as a packet to members, along with the association’s official organ or “memberzine,” which generally lists the titles and author/editors of pages of the publications included in the mailing, a membership roster of active members, and updates and reports from the APA editor.

Science fiction APAs began in the 1937 with the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA), established by Donald A. Wollheim and John B. Michel, and quickly became integral to science fiction and comic book fandom.  Comic book fandom, especially in the 1960s and 1970s,  was largely defined by fanzines and APAs. APAs continue to thrive in the digital age, sending out their members’ creations, which include newsletters, zines, drawings, and other formats. While many APAs continue in physical form, some are now published as “e-zines” online.

Cover of Crypt of Cthulhu
Cover of Crypt of Cthulhu, EOD mailing #36, November 1981. Esoteric Order of Dagon Amateur Press Association Publications, SCRC 257, Special Collections Research Center.
Feline Mewsings cover
Cover of Feline Mewsings #30, FAPA mailing #281, November 2007. Fantasy Amateur Press Association Publications, SCRC 256, Special Collections Research Center.

Temple University Library’s Special Collections Research Center’s Fantasy Amateur Press Association Publications collection contains issues of the association’s mailings from 1963 through 2009, including its memberzine, The Fantasy Amateur.It is the longest- running APA. The Esoteric Order of Dagon Amateur Press Association (not to be confused with the occult group Esoteric Order of Dagon or the Australian zine of the same name), was established in 1973 by Roger Bryant, and is dedicated to scholarship and writing related to the author H. P. Lovecraft. The SCRC’s collection of Esoteric Order of Dagon Amateur Press Association Publications contains an almost complete run of issues of the association’s mailings from 1979 through 2009, including the APA’s memberzine, titled at various times The Cry of the Cricket and Nuclear Chaos.

Cover of The Cry of the Cricket
Cover of The Cry of the Cricket memberzine, EOD mailing #29, February 1980. Esoteric Order of Dagon Amateur Press Association Publications, SCRC 257, Special Collections Research Center.
Terrors Cover
Cover of The Cry of the Cricket memberzine, EOD mailing #36, November 1981. Esoteric Order of Dagon Amateur Press Association Publications, SCRC 257, Special Collections Research Center.












These collections of APAs complement SCRC’s other collections related to the history of science fiction fandom. In addition to files of ephemera from science fiction conventions and three fanzine collections (the Science Fiction Fanzine Collection, Sue Frank Collection of Klingon and Star Trek Fanzines, and the Women Writers Fan Fiction Collection), SCRC also holds the papers of Carlos Roy Lavender, aerospace engineer, science fiction fan, frequent convention attendee and organizer, author, founder of Midwestcon, and member of First Fandom. SCRC also hold a large number of books by and about H. P. Lovecraft, as well as the Arthur Langley Searles Collection of H. P. Lovecraft Research Files.

–Katy Rawdon, Coordinator of Technical Services, SCRC. With thanks to Michael Rawdon, brother and former APA contributor.

From the Philadelphia Jewish Archives: Police Squad Thwarts Tolerance Raiders

Bureau of Police complaint report excerpt, March 16, 1939
Bureau of Police complaint report excerpt, March 16, 1939

On March 14, 1939, Detective Sergeant Jacob H. Gomborow assigned six detectives from the Philadelphia Bureau of Police’s radical squad to attend a meeting organized by the Committee for Racial and Religious Tolerance held at the West Philadelphia branch of the YMCA at 52nd and Sansom Streets. The committee was an interfaith group sponsored by well-known clergy and politicians including Daniel A. Poling, Rufus M. Jones, C. Davis Matt, and Francis J. Myers. Prior to the meeting, Gomborow had received information that a group of Nazis were planning to infiltrate the tolerance gathering and instructed detectives to sit in the audience to monitor the meeting for any disturbances. The detectives witnessed a number of persons heckling the speakers, making slanderous remarks against Jews, and nailing anti-Semitic literature and posters to the walls. One of those men, William J. Rigney, stood up repeatedly during the meeting, interrupting the speaker, proclaiming that “Hitler is right in what he is doing to the Jews” and “it is the Jews own fault.” The meeting was abruptly adjourned as a result of the disorder caused by these men. As they left, the detectives observed these same men distributing leaflets promoting racial and religious hatred and pasting anti-Jewish stickers on cars and store windows in the surrounding neighborhood.

Blissard flier
“Attention, American Gentiles!” flier issued by Thomas Blissard Sr., March 1939

Detectives arrested eleven of the “Nazi strong armers” who were subsequently charged with inciting a riot. In the early morning hours of March 15, three others were arrested at City Hall, including Thomas A. Blisard, Jr. and Joseph A. Gallagher, while they were attempting to secure the release of those arrested outside the tolerance meeting. Joseph A. Gallagher, chairman of the Anti-Communist Society of Philadelphia, a group founded by the West Philadelphia High School teacher and Nazi sympathizer Bessie “Two Gun” Burchett, protested the arrests, claiming they were a “frame-up.” Gallagher also denied the literature found in his car, which included copies of the Father Charles E. Coughlin publication Social Justice, was anti-Semitic propaganda. Thomas A. Blisard, Jr. (aka Blissard or Blizzard) and his family were well known in the community and to police as rabid anti-Communists and self-described Coughlinites. At the time, Blisard was chairman of the Philadelphia Committee for the Defense of Constitutional Rights, a group originally formed to protest against the radio station WDAS. The station had dropped Father Coughlin’s broadcasts when he refused to provide advance scripts of his addresses. Blisard’s father made use of tolerance meeting arrests to further their cause, printing and circulating fliers publicizing the “persecution of gentiles” suffered at the hands of an “organized gang of Jews.”

Recently prepared for research use, the Jacob H. Gomborow Papers, housed in Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, document Gomborow’s activities as an officer and detective in Philadelphia’s Bureau of Police, responsible for leading the bureau’s radical squad in their investigations of anti-Semitic, subversive, and radical groups in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. View the online finding aid or catalog record to learn more about the Jacob H. Gomborow Papers or to request access to the collection in the SCRC reading room on the ground floor of Paley Library.

Jessica M. Lydon, Associate Archivist, SCRC

Friendly Visits

Women and children of League St., 1899
Women and children of League St., 1899

The Octavia Hill Association was incorporated in 1896 to improve working class housing conditions through the sympathetic management of dwellings which it purchased and renovated. The association’s activities were modeled after the work in London of Octavia Hill, with whom one of its founders, Helen Parrish, had studied. Helen Parrish who served as secretary for the association, kept a diary in 1888, and created correspondence, notes, reports, and other publications describing the associations’ work, (1888-1943).  The OHA archives are housed at Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center.

Parrish Diary Cover
Parrish Diary

Parrish’s 1888 diaries (in three volumes) were recently digitized and describe her “friendly visits” to OHA’s  tenants.  In common with other social welfare activists of the era, Parrish and other agency staff members believed that part of their role was to police tenants’  behavior.

Dr. Christina Larocco who surveyed the collection as part of the In Her Own Right grant project, notes:  “It is rare for historical figures to lay out their thoughts, influences, and goals so explicitly. Helen Parrish emerges as a figure as complex and compelling as Jane Addams, one whose life and work encapsulate the central paradox of Progressivism as both altruistic and coercive. This collection adds new evidence to the perennial debate over which characteristic more fundamentally describes this movement. Moreover, these papers reveal Philadelphia to be a city as important to Progressive reform as New York and Chicago, not only within the U.S.but also as a hub in the transatlantic circulation of Progressive ideas.”

In addition to the diaries, many of the images in the OHA archives have been digitized, illustrating housing interiors and exteriors before and after renovations, court yards, and street scenes around Philadelphia.

Children outside property owned by OHA, 1920
Children outside property owned by OHA, 1920

Additional material from the Octavia Hill Association archives is in the process of being digitized and will be available both through Temple Libraries and through a pilot site “In Her Own Right:  Women Asserting Their Civil Rights, 1820-1920,”  being built as a part of a NEH planning grant received by the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries which looks toward commemorating the 100th anniversary of women receiving the vote in 2020.

–Margery N. Sly, Director, SCRC


“We Ought to Have Our Fences Up”: Nativism and Xenophobia in the Progressive Era

An immigrant couple and their children., circa 1910
An immigrant couple and their children., circa 1910. Philadelphia Jewish Archives photograph collection

As early as the 1890s, immigration bills with provisions for literacy tests were introduced in Congress as legislative measures to control the influx of immigrants into America. On several occasions these proposed literacy tests were passed by both houses of Congress, only to be vetoed later by the President.  In 1897, for example, Grover Cleveland rejected a proposed literacy law on the basis it was “unnecessarily harsh and oppressive.”

Beginning in 1907, the United States Immigration Commission, under the leadership of Vermont Senator William Paul Dillingham began its work to address the growing nationalist concerns over the ever increasing numbers of immigrants (over 1 million annually between 1905 and 1907) arriving each year. The Dillingham Commission completed its work in 1911 and concluded that immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe posed a serious threat to American society and culture and should therefore be greatly reduced. It further called for regulation of the “kind” or “type” of immigrants admitted to the U.S.

Dillingham bill
Dillingham Bill (S. 3175), March 1, 1912, Louis Edward Levy Family Papers

The Dillingham Commission’s work was part and parcel of a wave of xenophobic and nativist sentiment in the early twentieth century, which saw numerous immigration restriction bills introduced to Congress with measures that included not only literacy tests, but also head taxes and specification of “barred” or “undesirable” immigrants by geographic and ethnic origin, physical and mental health status, and socioeconomic means. As the twentieth century unfolded, this nativist sentiment drove a progression of severely restrictive immigration legislation.

William Howard Taft vetoed a 1913 bill including a literacy test, as did Woodrow Wilson in 1915, asserting that “it excludes those to whom opportunities of elementary education have been denied without regard to their character, their purposes, or their natural capacity.” Wilson vetoed a restrictive immigration bill containing a literacy test provision for the second time in 1916; however Congress was successful in overriding that veto.   On August 17, 1916, in support of the bill, Republican Senator William E. Borah of Idaho stated “we ought to have our fences up and be thoroughly prepared to protect those in this country who will be brought into competition with the hordes of people who will come here.”

The Immigration Act of 1917 enacted the literacy test as law and expanded the list of “undesirables” barred from entering the country including all persons originating from a geographic area termed the “Asiatic Barred Zone,” a region that included much of East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Letter to Congressman Moore
Letter to Congressman J. Hampton Moore, February 28, 1912, Louis Edward Levy Family Papers

Many individuals and organizations engaged in debates on immigration as this legislation was introduced, including Louis Edward Levy, a prominent figure of Philadelphia’s Jewish community. Levy spoke out against the literacy test as a prerequisite to entry into the United States. He did so both as a private individual and as President of the Association for the Protection of Jewish Immigrants, in published writing and in speeches and testimony. Recently prepared for research use, the Maxwell Whiteman Collection of Louis Edward Levy Family Papers, housed in Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, includes some of these writings, extensive correspondence, and accounts of speeches that Levy gave on the subject.

The Levy Family Papers document the activities of Louis Edward Levy, the Association for the Protection of Jewish Immigrants, and other local and national immigrant aid societies and their efforts to mobilize and coordinate collective action against immigration restriction in favor of more liberal immigration policies. To use the Levy Family Papers, request materials from the finding aid  for use in the SCRC Reading Room in Paley Library, or view a digitized selection of files from the papers.

Anastasia Chiu, Resident Librarian
Jessica M. Lydon, Associate Archivist, SCRC

“A Free and Modern Zoo for Philadelphia”

Lion cubs
Lion cubs born at the Zoo, 1936

One of the notable aspects of the Philadelphia Zoo  (the Zoological Society of Philadelphia) archives in Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, is its rich photographic materials, which include approximately 200 lantern slides dating from 1880 to 1936, used to help educate and advance the mission of the Zoo.  Some of these slides were featured in a presentation at the Wagner Free Institute’s Annual Lantern Slide Salon, on October 13, 2016.

Gorilla cage
Old Gorilla Cage, circa 1920

The earliest lantern slides depict the nineteenth-century Zoo, its buildings, grounds, and animal attractions, while the slides from the 1930s document both scientific advancement and a push for change in animal housing.  Breeding and collecting remained in the forefront, great strides were made in nutrition, and the iron-barred cages of the  nineteenth century began to disappear, as new, natural, open-air habitats were constructed.

Making “zoocakes” in the commissary, circa 1935

Later slides document the Zoo’s Penrose Research Laboratory which made early strides in the study and prevention of diseases effecting animals in captivity, and the lab’s pioneering work in nutrition. The Zoo discovered that disease, early mortality, and low fertility affecting the animals was directly linked to nutritional deficiency. To combat this, the Penrose Lab developed the Philadelphia Zoocake, which was “a mineral and vitamin rich concoction…” formulated from corn meal, ground meat, ground vegetables, eggs, fat, molasses, salt, and baking powder. By 1936, the Zoo tested its new dietary program, including the zoocake, and saw dramatically increased general health. Greater fertility and diminished mortality rates were also noted. In fact, some of the animals went on to break records in terms of longevity in captivity.

Unloading groceries
Unloading groceries with orangutan, circa 1935
Beaver Pond
New Beaver Pond, constructed by the WPA, 1935

In addition to the strides in nutrition, labor provided by Depression-era federal work relief programs kept things moving forward in other areas. In the 1930s,  workers for the Works Progress Administration repaired the buildings and grounds, helping to advance how the Zoo housed and exhibited animals. Where barred cages and cell-like enclosures were the norm for the nineteenth century zoo, the twentieth century zoo sought to remove the bars and to create habitats that resembled the animals’ natural environments. This offered better living space for the animals and more thrilling exhibitions for visitors.

Monkey Island
View of Monkey Island, constructed by the WPA, 1935

In 1936, the Citizens Committee for a Free and Modern Zoo was formed to ascertain public interest in the Zoo and campaign for public funding to make the Zoo a free attraction and finance continued improvements. The committee used images from other zoos’ more modern animal exhibits to excite the public about the proposed changes at the Philadelphia Zoo. Such images were coupled with pictures of caged animals under tag line, “Iron Bars a Prison Make,” to underscore the need for this important change in zoo-keeping practices. While the ground work was laid in the 1930s, it wasn’t until after World War II that the city answered the call and appropriated one million dollars to help the Zoo realize its vision.

— Courtney Smerz, SCRC Collection Management Archivist


From the Philadelphia Jewish Archives: “The Levittown Problem”

On August 13, 1957, William and Daisy Myers and their three children, an African American family, moved into the all-white community of Levittown, Pennsylvania, and shortly thereafter found themselves confronted by angry residents displeased with their arrival. Large crowds gathered during the day and hurled insults towards the home, while at night, cars drove by flashing their lights and honking their horns. The situation escalated over the course of eight days, with rocks being thrown through the windows of the Myers’ home and another stone knocking a local police officer unconscious. In response, the Pennsylvania State Police were sent to Levittown to restore order, where they would remain for nearly two months before a semblance of calm returned.

Crowd protests, August 1957
Crowd protests first black family moving into Levittown, August 17, 1957, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Photograph Collection


The events in Levittown attracted the attention of the national press and a wide range of civic and religious organizations that shared a common mission to combat prejudice and discrimination. One of these organizations was Philadelphia’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), which frequently worked to promote fairness and equal opportunity in housing for African Americans throughout Philadelphia. The JCRC would not take a direct role in events taking place in Levittown, but correspondence between JCRC executive director Maurice Fagan, and several other regional Jewish organizations, demonstrates the level of interest they shared. On October 18, Stephen Remsen, the director of the Philadelphia based Jewish Labor Committee, wrote to Fagan saying, “The pressures of time and the fact that my Levittown file is at home preparing itself for some more speeches to everybody and his brother make it difficult for me to do justice to your request.”

The apparent request was for an account of the role of Levittown’s Jews in response to the unrest. The letter praises the activities of the local Jewish Community Council, which worked in cooperation with Protestant and Quaker groups to actively support the rights of the Myers.  Remsen notes that there were some “individual” Jews who were either neutral or opposed to the racial integration of their community, yet also stresses that he could find no evidence that any Jew took part in any of the protests or acts of mob violence. Perhaps the most interesting comments in the letter come when Remsen expresses concern to Fagan about the way Jews are sometimes perceived and how this could influence events in Levittown.

Remsen writes: “If there was any problem, it was the identification of the Myers move-in as a Negro-Jewish-Quaker movement and cause. While the Rabbi and all the others of Jewish faith who were in this fight tried to remain in the background, it was impossible to do this. I am convinced that the enemy – smelling one Jew in the community – would have played the anti-Semitic game even if that one Jew did nothing but study the Torah.”

Letter to Fagan, 1957
Letter to JCRC executive director Maurice Fagan, October 18, 1957

Fred Grossman, director of the regional Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, also wrote to Fagan on October 18 about his assessment of events in Levittown. Grossman describes some of the harassment endured by the Myers family and their supporters over the previous weeks and similarly lauds the work of Jewish groups, despite, “reports of anti-Semitic comments and instances of hostility from non-Jewish neighbors previously friendly or at least indifferent.”   Grossman also makes it clear that Jewish support for racial integration was not universal, and, in terms that are a bit more stark than Remsen’s, says that, “Although there are many Jews who are strongly opposed to integration and who resent the Myers, few if any of these agree with the violence or the attrition techniques aimed at driving the Myers out.”

Following these letters, Fagan submitted a report on October 23, 1957, to the JCRC board of directors that outlined what he saw as four key reasons why Jews had a stake in Levittown: “(1) the family which sold the home [to Myers] is Jewish; (2) the friendly family next door is Jewish; (3) organized Jewish groups and synagogues were called upon to make a public stand; and (4) Levitt of Levittown is Jewish.”

Levittown Problem report, 195
“The Levittown Problem and the Jewish Community” report, October 23, 1957

A local group, the Levittown Citizens Committee, took the lead in organizing support for the Myers and appealing for peace in their community. Comprised of Levittown residents, as well as local rabbis, Protestant ministers, and members of the Society of Friends, the group lent direct support to the embattled Myers and campaigned against the racism on their streets. Before it was over, the Myers and their friends would endure numerous forms of intimidation, including the burning of several crosses and the painting of “KKK” on the home of Myers’ Jewish neighbor. For several weeks, a vacant house situated next to the Myers’ home was occupied by members of the Levittown Betterment Committee–a hastily organized group that wanted to preserve Levittown’s whiteness. This vacant house was used as a rallying point for the demonstrators, which featured a Confederate flag flying above and the loud broadcast of songs, such as “Old Man River” and “Dixie.”

Eventually, William and Daisy Myers appealed to the Pennsylvania State Attorney General and charges were filed against members of the Levittown Betterment Committee, followed by a court ordered injunction issued on October 23, 1957–the same day as Fagan’s report. Records show that the JCRC was ready to lend aid if called upon, but no such request came from Levittown’s Jewish community, which had no formal relationship with their organization. The JCRC’s board of directors issued formal resolutions of commendation to both the Levittown Citizens Committee and the Levittown Jewish Community Council on December 20, 1957. Their commendation to the Levittown Jewish Community Council read, in part:

“The Philadelphia Jewish Community Relations Council notes with pride and gratification the courage, dignity and integrity with which the Jewish Community of Levittown, in the main under the leadership of the Levittown Jewish Community Council, expressed its regard for human dignity and democracy when the Myers family was threatened by mob harassment and violence.”

Letter to Levittown community, 1957
Letter to Levittown Jewish Community Council, December 20, 195

The events that took place in Levittown, Pennsylvania, are a small chapter in the larger story of American’s struggle over civil rights, but in many ways it represents themes that would reverberate in numerous communities across the country. While not all Jews took up the fight against segregation, in many cases American Jews could be found either on the front lines or working to support the efforts of those who were.

Additional photographs of crowds protesting the Meyers’ family move to Levittown, PA, can be found in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin photograph collection.

To learn more about the Levittown communities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, see Suzanne Lashner Dadyanim’s essay on The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia’s website.

–Kenneth Cleary, Project Archivist, Philadelphia Jewish Archives Collection, SCRC

This is the first post of an occasional series highlighting the work of Philadelphia’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). The records of the JCRC, housed in Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, are currently being processed and will be available for research in early 2018.

Publishing Poetry and Prose: A Faculty and Student-Curated Exhibition

Codex Infernum
–by student Duncan R. Copeland

In Fall 2015, the Special Collections Research Center partnered with Richard Orodenker and his Intellectual Heritage class to exhibit commonplace books created by the students alongside examples of commonplace books and related materials from the SCRC. This year, we are happy to continue our faculty and student exhibit collaborations with an exciting display of poetry and prose chapbooks created by students in Kathryn Ioanata’s Honors Creative Acts class.

–by student Keri Klinges

The term chapbook is used to describe the printed literature of two distinct moments in the history of printing in the West. In Europe in the early modern period, a chapbook referred to the cheaply printed and simply illustrated popular literature distributed widely and often sold by travelling booksellers called chapmen. These pamphlets contained abbreviated texts, such as fairy and folk tales, ballads, histories, or moral tracts. In the modern context, chapbooks refer to publications of shorter length, 40-50 pages or less, that are simply bound. They often contain either poetry or prose on a single theme or subject.

During the Spring 2016 semester, Professor Ioanata brought her Honors Creative Acts (ENG 926) students to the SCRC to see a selection of modern chapbooks from our various print collections, including the Contemporary Culture Collection and the Rachel Blau DuPlessis collection. Professor Ionata describes the connection between the visit and the students’ final projects: “This assignment asked students to take their best writing from the semester, revise it, and arrange it artfully into a chapbook. In working on this project, rather than a simple portfolio of work typed on plain paper and stapled together, it became necessary for students to consider the book as a work of art. Using the chapbooks in the Special Collections Research Center as an example, I encouraged students to think about not only their writing itself, but its placement on the page, in the book, and the aesthetics of the book itself.”

Student Nick Stanovick with Professor Kathryn Ionata
Student Nick Stanovick with Professor Kathryn Ionata

Special collections and archival materials are regularly used by students as inspiration for their own creative endeavors. Featuring these student projects in our library exhibits demonstrates the impact that the Libraries’ resources and instructional outreach can have on student success. The exhibit process also creates opportunities for faculty, student, and staff collaboration. Professor Ionata and Nick Stanovick, a student in the class, both participated in the selection of materials for the exhibit, including determining which page(s) of each chapbook would be featured.

Many of the chapbooks created by the students, featuring their own prose and poetry writing, and a selection of chapbooks from the SCRC will be on display on the first floor of Paley Library in the main lobby throughout the fall semester.

–Kim Tully, Curator of Rare Books, SCRC


Cervantes: The Man Who Invented Fiction

Cervantes Portrait, London, 1738
Cervantes portrait from Cervantes, Miguel de. Vida y Hechos del Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de La Mancha. London: J. and R. Tonson, 1738.

This year, 2016, marks the 400th anniversary of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes’s death, and worldwide celebrations of  his life and work abound. On Monday, September 26, 2016, at noon in Paley Library Lecture Hall, Temple University Libraries’ is co-sponsoring a lecture by William Egginton, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University, with Temple’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Dr. Egginton will be speaking about Miguel de Cervantes and how his Don Quixote radically changed the nature of literature and created a new way of viewing the world. Egginton recently published The Man Who Invented Fiction: How Cervantes Ushered in the Modern World.  (New York, NY:  Bloomsbury, 2016).

To quote from the publisher’s description of Egginton’s book:   “… Don Quixote went on to sell more copies than any other book beside the Bible, making its author, Miguel de Cervantes, the single most-read author in human history. Cervantes did more than just publish a bestseller…. He invented a way of writing. This book is about how Cervantes came to create what we now call fiction, and how fiction changed the world.   The Man Who Invented Fiction explores Cervantes’s life and the world he lived in, showing how his influences converged in his work, and how his work–especially Don Quixote–radically changed the nature of literature and created a new way of viewing the world. Finally, it explains how that worldview went on to infiltrate art, politics, and science, and how the world today would be unimaginable without it.”

from: Cervantes, Miguel de. Don Quixote de La Mancha. Illustrated by Tony Johannot. London: J.J. Dubochet & Co., 1838.
Don Quixote from: Cervantes, Miguel de. Don Quixote de La Mancha. Illustrated by Tony Johannot. London: J.J. Dubochet & Co., 1838.

This semester the Libraries’ is also featuring a mini-exhibit of illustrated editions of Cervantes’s works, published between the 17th and 20th centuries, held by the  Special Collections Research Center.  This exhibit, on Paley Library’s mezzanine, includes a true gem in the printing history of Don Quixote, the first edition of the work published in England in Spanish. This London edition, printed by J. and R. Tonson in 1738, features over sixty copperplate engravings and includes the first known portrait of Cervantes, based on the author’s own self-description. Other highlights include a 19th century edition with the dramatic depictions of the tale by French illustrator Gustave Doré and more abstract 20th century interpretations of the hero and his world.

Special thanks go to Dr. José M. Pereiro Otero, Associate Professor in Temple’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese, for providing the narrative for the display.

The originals of all of the books featured in the exhibit will be on display in the SCRC’s Reading Room on the ground floor of Paley library after the Dr. Egginton’s noon lecture on Monday, September 26.  The lecture, and the reception and open house following, all are free and open to the public.


–Kimberly Tully, curator of rare books, Special Collections Research Center