Tag Archives: Top News

From the Philadelphia Jewish Archives: 19th Century Sister Diarists

Just as the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 was captivating visitors in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, Fannie and Amelia Allen began chronicling their social and intellectual pursuits in their diaries. The Allen sisters filled their diaries with short summaries of the day’s events and longer, introspective passages that revealed their personal ambitions and struggles to find a mate who was both desirable and an intellectual match.

Fannie Allen and Amelia J. Allen Diaries
Fannie Allen and Amelia J. Allen Diaries

In an entry dated April 20, 1876, Fannie (age 21) writes: “I am trying to school my thoughts and make myself contented with the blessings, and not wish for others, but it is hard, and it is only now and then, when I see some others not, as I think, situated happily as I am so I feel thoroughly contented. It is hard to see others happily mated, and neither Amelia or I is so, or likely to be…”. Amelia (age 22) expresses similar sentiment in a June 18, 1878 entry: “Years do not bring what I long for as every girl I suppose at my age wants – a lover whom I can respect. Times are either different now or we are hard to suit. I know not which but certain it is never have I seen the person I could care for in that light.”

Already working as a teacher, Amelia frequently writes about the challenges she experienced in the Hebrew Sunday School Society and Philadelphia Public Schools. Despite her desires, Amelia never married. She dedicated her life to education and social service. In 1885, along with other like-minded Jewish women, Amelia founded the Young Women’s Union, where under her tutelage adolescent girls learned domestic skills and in 1894 helped organize the women’s branch of the Young Men’s Hebrew Association.

Fannie Allen Diary, 1875-1885
Fannie Allen Diary, 1875-1885

As Fannie approached her late twenties, she spent less and less time recording her thoughts in her diary, but on August 25, 1884, she (age 29), made the following revelation: “I reopen this to say though I’m not married, I hope to be. It seems too wonderful. Not only do I expect to be a physician, but I hope to wed a Mr. Moses De Ford. A man who though younger than I, is my ideal in almost every particular. We were engaged Aug. 17 but expect to keep our betrothal a secret, even from my dear Mother until after I graduate and he is a physician, then as soon as he gains enough supporters, we hope to be married partners, no fear of deficient love on his side and mine.”

Nearly three years later on June 8, 1887, at the age of 32, Fannie married Moses De Ford, eight years her junior, but not before graduating from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. Fannie practiced medicine alongside her husband for over 30 years in the Kensington neighborhood, providing medical care to the immigrant population that worked in the textile mills and shipyards nearby, and advocated for better hygiene and sanitation for the working poor.

To learn more or request access to the diaries of Fannie Allen and Amelia J. Allen in the Special Collections Research Center, view the online finding aids here:
https://library.temple.edu/scrc/fannie-allen-diary
https://library.temple.edu/scrc/amelia-j-allen-diary 

–Jessica M. Lydon, Associate Archivist, SCRC

Refugee Crisis in Philadelphia, 1979 – 1980

Newspaper clippingOn Christmas Day 1979, Mr. and Mrs. John Boston of the Alleyne Memorial AME Zion Church in West Philadelphia welcomed several Vietnamese refugees into their home for dinner. Earlier in the month, some 200 refugees accepted an invitation to attend services in their church. Part of the Human Relations Program, these inclusive gestures were coordinated by the Nationalities Service Center (NSC) in cooperation with numerous neighborhood associations, churches, social service organizations, and city departments. The program aimed for community involvement in refugee resettlement. It developed out of necessity, as tensions were mounting in neighborhoods into which thousands of Southeast Asian refugees settled in just a few years.

Ongoing conflict and political upheaval in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos contributed to a worldwide refugee crisis in the late 1970s. By 1980, NSC—just one of several area refugee resettlement agencies—had resettled over 3000 Southeast Asian refugees in Philadelphia, with a commitment to settle 75 people per week going forward. NSC settled the refugees primarily in West and North Philadelphia, where apartments were available and rents were low.

Program sheet
NSC did not consult or alert West or North Philadelphia residents to the influx of refugees, nor were the residents made aware of the political circumstances of their dislocation. Refugees, many of whom were from rural areas in their countries of origin, in turn were not initially educated in the workings of life in a modern American city or the culture of the neighborhoods into which they settled. The language barrier exacerbated matters. At University City High School, existing students misconstrued an ESL program established to assist SEA students as favoritism that gave them an unfair advantage. In Walnut Hill, NSC unknowingly placed refugees in apartment buildings deemed unfit for habitation and inadvertently undermined a boycott of the Dorsett apartment building.

Refugees were reportedly harassed and robbed on the streets, neighborhood associations began to complain, and a general sense of anger and resentment permeated the neighborhoods. Several task-forces involving NSC, other resettlement agencies, assorted city and state departments, and social service organizations assembled in the city. What the media reported as racially motivated discord, NSC saw as a “human relations problem,” one that could be solved with education and community involvement.
NSC’s Human Relations Program officially ran from 1979 to 1980, organizing events and programs to bring the SEA and other refugees together with their new communities. There was a cultural performance festival held that aimed to teach refugees about American culture. It included dancing, drama, singing, and disco. A field trip to a Phillies game, a summer sports program for children, block parties, and a church social at the Mount Carmel Baptist Church were also among the program’s offerings.

Ultimately, NSC and the other task forces working on the issue found that “…public relations is of primary importance. Once informed about the refugees, most communities are receptive.” It was an important lesson to learn at the time. In addition to SEA refugees, private sponsors and settlement agencies were also contending with thousands of Cuban and Haitian refugees. In an effort to improve their ongoing resettlement work, at the conclusion of the Human Relations Project NSC planned to maintain project staff to continue hands-on community work. The Task Force on Inter-Group Crisis, of which NSC was a part, was also discussing a “comprehensive resettlement program and conflict avoidance…”.

Of the many groups involved in ameliorating the refugee resettlement crisis, the Special Collections Research Center holds the archives of the Nationalities Services Center Records, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Spruce Hill Community Association, West Philadelphia Corporation, and others.

 

–Courtney Smerz, Collection Management Archivist, SCRC

Medieval Manuscript: Pore Caitif

Pore Caitif binding
16th century binding. Pore Caitiff, [14–]. (SPC) MSS LT 085. Special Collections Research Center.
The Special Collections Research Center holds a number of medieval manuscripts of various types, including financial ledgers, notated music, a Book of Hours, and philosophical texts.

One interesting volume in the collection is a manuscript of the “Pore Caitif,” a late 14th and 15th century devotional text consisting of tracts intended for home use by the laity. The compilation of this handbook for religious instruction is most frequently attributed to English reformer John Wycliffe (1330 – 1384), and it contains approximately fourteen tracts intended to teach the reader about the Ten Commandments, the Paternoster, the Creed, and other basic aspects of Christianity. The number of Pore Caitif manuscripts in existence–more than fifty–demonstrates that this text was extremely popular during this time period.

Pore Caitif first page
First page of text. Pore Caitiff, [14–]. (SPC) MSS LT 085. Special Collections Research Center.
It is unlikely that the compiler of this instructional volume was the one to assign the title “Pore Caitif,” even though that title seems to have been used as early as the 14th century. Most likely the common title was taken from the manner in which the compiler refers to himself: “pore” being an alternate spelling of “poor,” and “caitiff” or “caitif” meaning “wretched” or “despicable.”

Temple’s Pore Caitif dates from the 14th century. It has a later binding from the 16th century, made of black Moroccan leather, and contains the bookplate of Robert R. Dearden, a 20th century Philadelphia book collector. An inscription on the last pages of the manuscript indicates that Dame Margaret Hasley, a sister in the Order of Minoresses, presented this work to another sister.

Pore Caitif last page
Last page of text. Inscription in red states that Margaret Hasley presented the volume to another sister in the Order of Minoresses. Pore Caitiff, [14–]. (SPC) MSS LT 085. Special Collections Research Center.
The volume was recently digitized for the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis project, funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and sponsored by the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL). The project aims to digitize and make available online medieval manuscripts from fifteen institutions in the Philadelphia area. Images and descriptive metadata will be released into the public domain and easily downloadable at high resolution via University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ OPenn manuscript portal. Temple is contributing over twenty manuscripts to the project.

–Katy Rawdon, Coordinator of Technical Services, SCRC

Celebrating 50 Years of the Urban Archives

The Libraries are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Urban Archives with an exhibit,  a screening, and symposium.

Walt Whitman Bridge construction, 1955
Walt Whitman Bridge construction, 1955. Photograph by Philip Taylor

In 1967, when Temple University’s history department decided  to collect the records of city organizations in order to document the history of Philadelphia from the Civil War to the present, and more generally represent the urban experience, the faculty may not have imagined how the archives would evolve.   They were interested in gathering raw material for their graduate students’ research use.  Since then the Urban Archives has evolved into the most extensive collection of 20th century Philadelphia history in the region, holding the archives of hundreds of city and regional organizations–from a few to thousands of boxes each.  And it’s holding are used not only by undergraduate and graduate students, but by high school students, scholars from all over the world, the media, documentary producers, and the general public.Octavia Hill Association Property Outline

The late sixties was something of a turning point in the study of history.  As Fred Miller, who served as director from 1973 to 1989, put it:  “The archives owes its existence to…the growth within the historical profession of the study of social history; the crisis of the cities, which led to the rise of a veritable urban research industry; and the growth of higher education, during which Temple became a major research university.” Fred arrived shortly after the administration of the archives was transferred to the Libraries (in 1972).  And he was succeeded by Margaret Jerrido, who was head of the archives from 1990 until her retirement in 2007.

Lion cubs
Lion cubs born at the Zoo, 1936

It’s striking how true the archives has stayed to its original purpose, described in the 1968 History Department press release announcing the archives as “creation of a new manuscript collection focusing on urban life and development and drawing on the Philadelphia metropolitan area since the Civil War. The collection will collect institutional and individual records which will illuminate ethnic and racial groups, social welfare, crime, education, religion, economic development, and political activity.”  Neighborhood association records became a strength, and in the early 1980s a major initiative to collect labor records increased those collections.  And the archives continues to grow, adding, in the past few years, the  archives of Occupy Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Zoo, the Weavers Way Co-op Records , and the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Associations to name a few.

Many of the earliest collections gathered in between 1967 and 1969 by the history department, the first director Phillip Benjamin, and a team of graduate students  remain the most frequently used, including the first major collection:  the records of the Housing Association of the Delaware Valley.  The Urban Archives has also become know for holding the photograph and clippings library of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin–and for being the premiere location for the study of MOVE and the MOVE bombing in 1985.MOVE

Representing the hundreds of graduate students, from Temple, Penn, Yale, Duke, and across the country and the world, who have used the archives in their work, is Matthew Countryman, whose dissertation, researched at the Urban Archives among other archives in the city, became the monograph Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia. Matthew is Associate Professor of History and the Director of the Arts and Citizenship Program at the University of Michigan, and we are also grateful to him for his work with us on our Civil Rights in a Northern City website.Case Study of a Riot

At the symposium, we are privileged to have Herb Bass, Emeritus Professor of History, with us, who was present at the creation, to tell us more about that.  Matthew Countryman, Margaret Jerrido, Ang Reidell (Education Specialist, National Archives and Records Administration-Philadelphia); Frank Hoeber;  Joe Slobodzian, a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter; and Sam Katz from  History Making Productions.  We asked the to  talk about their time with the Urban Archives and perhaps speculate where the next fifty years should take us.

–Margery N. Sly, Director, Special Collections Research Center

 

From the Philadelphia Jewish Archives: Investigating the Crucifixion of Uncle Sam

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia (JCRC) was established by B’nai B’rith in January 1939, but was originally known as the Philadelphia Anti-Defamation Council (PADC). The organization changed its name in May 1944, to better reflect its dual mission to fight anti-Semitism and organized bigotry, as well as to promote intergroup understanding and cooperation. Although the JCRC developed into an organization that worked to advance both of these goals, the earliest records show their focusfrom 1939 through the end of the Second World War was on investigating and combatting anti-Semitism.

Uncle Sam Crucifixion circular, April 1941
Uncle Sam Crucifixion circular, April 1941

Prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, conspiratorial ideas regarding Jews increasingly became intermixed with an isolationist and nativist sentiment that hoped to keep America strictly neutral in the growing conflict in Europe and Asia. A graphic example of this came to the attention of the PADC on April 17, 1941.

Initially referred to as the “new pro-Nazi circular,” correspondence shows that Maurice Fagan, executive director of the PADC, was in contact with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other groups who were investigating its appearance in Philadelphia. An ADL contact revealed that a large number of these circulars were sent to “H. L. Smith” of 2218 Pine Street by “M. Slauter” of 715 Aldine Ave., Chicago. A few days later, Fagan learned that the “Uncle Sam crucifixion circular” was the “brain child” of Newton Jenkins of Chicago and that there were reports of the circular appearing in Oregon and New York. A memorandum from April 24, described 715 Aldine Ave. as a “clearinghouse for anti-Semitic material” and connected Newton Jenkins with Elizabeth Dilling, a right-wing activist and supporter of isolationism.

American Jewish Committee report, April 27, 1941
American Jewish Committee report, April 27, 1941

An April 27 American Jewish Committee report, orchestrated by George Mintzer, details an investigation of the 715 Aldine address and the individuals associated with the case. While the address turned out to be a boarding house and M. Slauter to be a fictitious name, the investigator discovered the circular was printed by John Winter, co-owner of a Chicago printing company that had previously been investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for connections with the German American Bund, the National German-American Alliance, and other “front organizations associated with the Nazi movement.”

A second circular began appearing in May that shared the same artistic and thematic style as the first. A May 15 letter from Joseph Roos to Maurice Fagan and others, states that Gustav A. Brand was very likely the artist behind both circulars. Roos states that he knew Brand well and that Brand was a former Chicago City Treasurer who “has constantly been under fire because of his strong Nazi language.”

The Answer to the Betrayal circular, May 1941
The Answer to the Betrayal circular, May 1941

On May 29, Maurice Fagan sent a letter to the Philadelphia office of the F.B.I. with an update on the investigation into the circulars. This letter appears to be the last action taken on this case, but the records of the JCRC contain many other examples of PADC investigating and exposing cases of anti-Semitism in the Greater Philadelphia region.

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

This is the third 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 2018.

Books of Hours

First page of the calendar
First page of the calendar. Book of Hours: Use of Toul, between 1450 and 1499.

The Special Collections Research Center is fortunate to hold two Books of Hours from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in its collection. Looking at these two volumes side by side, visitors to the SCRC can see for themselves the transition from the manuscript tradition to the printing tradition during the early years of the printing press.

Books of Hours were generally created during the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries, and contain prayers dedicated to the Virgin Mary to be read throughout the day. These prayer books were intended to aid personal prayer rather than public worship in a church or cathedral. Books of Hours were enormously popular with the middle class of the day, and even today are the most common type of book or manuscript remaining from the medieval period. For more information on books of hours, see the tutorial on the Les Enluminures web site.

From the Gospel of Matthew
From the Gospel of Matthew. Ces presentes heures sont a lusaige de Ro[m]me toutes au long sans require. Ont este imprimees nouuellement a Paris.: Par Germaine Hardouyn demourant audict lieu: Entre les deux portes du Palais: A lenseigne Saincte Marguerite, [1534].
Specific content of Books of Hours varies widely. While all contain the Hours of the Virgin, some might also contain the Hours of the Cross, or certain psalms. The liturgical content of a Book of Hours is referred to as its “use,” and is typically named for the region or area where that use was common, such as “Use of Rome.”

Flight into Egypt miniature
Flight into Egypt miniature. Book of Hours: Use of Toul, between 1450 and 1499

SCRC’s manuscript book of hours is thought to be from Toul, France (Book of Hours: Use of Toul), and dates from between 1450 and 1499. It is written on parchment, which is made from animal skin, and it contains hand painted miniatures. As a manuscript, it is a unique item. The printed Book of Hours (Ces presentes heures sont a lusaige de Ro[m]me, or Book of Hours: Use of Rome), printed in Paris around 1534 by Germain Hardouyn, contains metalcuts hand painted by artist Jean Pichore. It is printed on vellum, which is a finer quality parchment made from the skin of a calf or other young animal. This volume is believed to be one of only three remaining copies of this edition.

Planetary Man
Planetary Man. Ces presentes heures sont a lusaige de Ro[m]me toutes au long sans require. Ont este imprimees nouuellement a Paris.: Par Germaine Hardouyn demourant audict lieu: Entre les deux portes du Palais: A lenseigne Saincte Marguerite, [1534].
The manuscript Book of Hours was recently digitized for Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis a Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) project, funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) . The project aims to digitize and make available online medieval manuscripts from fifteen institutions in the Philadelphia area. Images and descriptive metadata will be released into the public domain and easily downloadable at high resolution via University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ OPenn manuscript portal. Temple is contributing over twenty manuscripts to the project.

–Katy Rawdon, Coordinator of Technical Services, SCRC
With thanks to Katharine Chandler, Bryn Mawr College, for her assistance

Society Hill Playhouse’s Street Theatre

“A make-shift stage, a few actors, some stories to tell, and an audience–that’s all it took to bring the excitement of the theater to the inner city.”

Street Theatre flyer, 1969
Street Theatre flyer, with performance in the background, 1969

During the summers of 1968, 1969, and 1970, the Society Hill Playhouse (SHP) took theater to the streets of Philadelphia and Camden. SHP inaugurated its Street Theatre Program for “Better Break ’68,” a program created by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Tate’s Council on Youth Opportunity. The Better Break program collaborated with businesses, organizations, and individuals across the City to offer a variety of educational, recreational, and cultural opportunities for Philadelphia’s youth and families.

SHP’s Street Theatre was among several performing arts entertainments offered as part of Better Break. It turned a flatbed truck into a stage, which traveled to neighborhoods across the City. A deliberately integrated cast performed a series of skits that addressed tenant life and the Vietnam War, among other relevant issues of the day, and offered some upbeat musical numbers as well.

Street Theatre was reportedly well received by the neighborhoods and internationally praised. The troupe gave over 60 performances in 1969 alone, with many neighborhoods requesting the return of the truck from the previous summer. Some neighborhoods even coordinated block parties and other events around the performances. Photographs of Street Theatre were included in the U.S. Information Service’s, “Theater Now,” which was exhibited in the Near East, Far East, and North Africa. It was also featured in a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary. Rene Bonniere of the CBC, reflected in a letter to SHP co-founder, Deen Kogan, “… after touring the greater part of the United States it was one of the most interesting experiments we found dealing not only with the theater but also with human relationships.”

Street Theatre performance, 1969
Street Theatre performance, 1969

Deen Kogan and husband, Jay – both Temple graduates – launched SHP in 1959 as Philadelphia’s “off-Broadway” theatre for contemporary American and European playwrights. Gradually, it developed a niche in populist comedies, like Nunsense, and, in cooperation with the City of Philadelphia, it presented major productions city-wide. It’s other programs included the Writers Project, beginning in 1962, which was dedicated to developing new works, and the Philadelphia Youth Theatre, 1970-1983, which drew students from public, private, and parochial schools. SHP was located in the Society Hill District, housed in the historic former David Garrick Hall. The theater closed on April 1, 2016.

Deen Kogan donated the Society Hill Playhouse Records to the Special Collections Research Center in 2016.  A finding aid is available to provide more information about ithe collection.

– Courtney Smerz, Collection Management Archivist, SCRC

From the Philadelphia Jewish Archives: Ban on Blackface in the Mummers Parade

In mid-December 1963, members of the Philadelphia chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) approached Elias Myers, the city appointed director of the 1964 Mummers Parade, to demand that blackface be banned from the upcoming event. Myers announced on December 16 that the use of blackface would be prohibited, but this decision did not sit well with some Mummers and Myers soon found his home picketed by over a hundred dissenters. The city tried to reach a compromise, but a few days later the ban on black face was rescinded.

Demonstrators protest ban of blackface in Mummers parade,
Demonstrators protest ban of blackface in Mummers parade, December 19, 1963, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Photograph Collection

1963 had been a turbulent year, punctuated by imagery of police dogs and fire hoses turned on young African American protesters, church bombings, mass civil rights demonstrations, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It was in this context of activism and struggle, that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed a petition in court on December 30 seeking to have the use of blackface by the Mummers banned. The NAACP argued that permitting ridicule of a large percentage of the city’s population was unacceptable given that the parade was subsidized by taxpayers and subject to the issuance of a city permit.

At the hearing, Jules Cohen, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia (JCRC), offered this testimony, “Not too long ago, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia and other Jewish organizations were constrained to take action to end the caricaturizing of Jews on the vaudeville stage, in plays and movies. Stereotyping through the use of blackface in the Mummers Day Parade is an insult to the Negro community and offensive to Negro and white citizens alike.” Nevertheless, the court denied the petition on the basis that there was no law prohibiting the wearing of blackface and that the Mummers’ intent was not to ridicule.

Members of the Hammond Comic Club
Members of the Hammond Comic Club, 2nd and Mifflin Streets, January 3, 1964, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Photograph Collection

Due to bad weather on New Year’s Day, the Mummers Parade was postponed until January 4, which allowed tensions over the controversy to rise to alarming heights. Reports surfaced that Mummers, motivated by what they saw as an intrusion on their traditions, intended to have over 1,000 marchers wearing blackface at their parade. Meanwhile, CORE announced their intent to disrupt the march, and Police Commissioner Howard Leary was informed that he should expect demonstrators to arrive from across the Mid-Atlantic. As fears of a violent confrontation escalated, Philadelphia’s Council on Human Relations spearheaded talks on how to resolve what they feared was an impending disaster peacefully.

Officers of the JCRC participated in talks with representatives of the Greater Philadelphia Council of Churches, the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia, and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese. This resulted in a new court petition on January 2 emphasizing the threat to public safety and seeking to ban the use of blackface as well as prevent any protests at the parade. The petitioners were chosen to represent an interfaith consensus and included JCRC’s Vice-President, Fanny Goldsmith. The court issued an injunction, citing the “clear and present danger” to the city, and as a result the parade was held on January 4 without blackface or significant disruptions.

JCRC statement, January 29, 1964
Civil Liberties Committee meeting minutes, January 29, 1964. Jewish Community Relations Council Records

On January 6th, Jules Cohen wrote a report to the Council of National Jewish Agencies that stated in part:   “By New Years Eve, those of us close to the picture were convinced that rioting and disorder were inevitable. All of the ingredients for an explosion were present–an issue about which both sides felt strongly…. I am satisfied the police could not have controlled these extraordinary crowds and that granting of the injunction prevented property damage, physical harm and perhaps even some killings. Such an explosion would have set us back 100 years in civil rights and it would have done untold economic damage to the city in the loss of conventions and other business.”

Following these events there was widespread discussion in the press over the controversy and whether or not the prohibitions on both blackface and protest went too far. Indeed, the JCRC’s Civil Liberties Committee expressed mixed feelings about the outcome in a statement that both sympathized with the motivations of those involved, but also worried about the implications of a court decision that infringed on the right to protest.

–Kenneth Cleary, Project Archivist, SCRC

This is the second 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.

 

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.

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