Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Out of Sight" by Pittau and Gervais

By Christa Clare
The Clarke Historical Library received a new children’s book that is really interesting. 

Did you know that you can tell a male and female giraffe by looking at the top of their horns? (The top of a male giraffe’s  horns are bald but the top of the females horns are fuzzy.) Or that a beaver’s front teeth never stop growing?  Or that pigs are very good swimmers? Or that a kangaroo cannot move backward? 

All of these interesting animal facts can be found in our newest children’s book titled Out of Sight by Bernadette Gervais and Francesco Pittau.  It is a gorgeous lift-the-flap book.  It is written for Kindergarten through grade 2, but you will find that children and adults alike find it very entertaining and educational!

Stop in and take a look at this fun book in the Clarke Library soon!

Monday, May 23, 2011

One Old Book and One Brief Moment

By Tanya Fox

I recently cataloged a book from 1701 which is the oldest book I’ve ever cataloged. As I perused the book for specific information needed for cataloging, I found myself thinking about this book that was over 300 years old. The pages were worn. The print was unusual. The cover was soft and smooth. This book allowed me to hold history in my hands and for a moment think about people and events from a much earlier period of time. 

The book’s title was Anglia Libera : or the Limitation and Succession of the Crown of England Explain’d and Asserted by Jo[hn] Toland. I did not have the luxury of reading the book to find out Toland’s ideas.  Instead, in the short time I had the book, I thought about the ephemeral nature of life.  I was reminded that some material items will outlive me but even this specific book would one day disintegrate. 

This small, antique volume gave me pause to wonder and reminded me that people and events come and go.  It reminded me that things fade away.  It reminded me that nothing lasts forever.  Marcus Aurelius once said “All is ephemeral, fame and the famous as well.”  One small book from 1701, that I didn’t completely read, was for a moment a reason for me to contemplate my own brief time in history. 

Come find one brief moment or lose yourself in longer periods of thought with the books you will find at the Clarke Historical Library.  One old book and one brief moment equals a walk with history.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Today's Electronic Records Issues for University Archivists

By Marian Matyn

I recently attended the SAA (Society of American Archivists) Electronic Records (ER) Records Workshop in Rhode Island. I thought the workshop was very informative and interesting. I learned all kinds of fun phrases like hash, checksums, password crackers, TRODS, CERP, and “endowing a terabyte.” Now I understand them. There are so many issues that have to be considered with electronic records: time, temporariness of the records and formats, and the impact of quickly changing technology. Archivists now have to deal with deleted files which aren't really deleted and could be illegal, and we need to run forensic analysis to discover these “hidden records.” All the different types of ERs at universities now have to be considered by archivists, including websites, metadata, intranets, emails, and videos, and postings on Blackboard, YouTube, and Facebook. Archivists must also consider involved access and security issues, including the ability to copy and change or prevent changes to records, and the staff time and costs involved.

A couple of important questions arise when making decisions about ERs.  Are all of these university electronic formats really records?  How do state laws and university description of a record says affects what we must define as a record? Our current, voluntary record retention schedule at CMU defines a university record as "all records, regardless of their form, prepared, owned, used, retained by, or in the possession of an individual in the performance of an official function of the university."   Obviously, records generated by students, staff, faculty or the public in an unofficial capacity do not meet CMU’s definition of record.  Let’s be clear: ERs are not permanent in any format, and they are a part of our lives now.  Archivists and their archives are going to have to begin to seriously deal with the plethora of ER issues and ERs themselves soon if they haven’t already.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Clarke Student Assistant Hannah Jenkins Wins Library Scholarship

By Susan Powers

The Clarke Historical Library is proud to announce that one of our Reading Room student assistants, Hannah Jenkins, is one of two recipients of the first annual Central Michigan University Library Student Employee Scholarship for the upcoming 2011-2012 school year. The scholarship was funded by the generous donations of library staff members during the 2010 Annual University Campaign.

Hannah is studying anthropology and history, and is in the museum studies program here at Central Michigan University. She has been working at the Clarke Historical Library for four years. This summer she is completing an internship at the Historical Society of Michigan. Congratulations Hannah!

John Cumming Isabella County Historical Preservation Award Winners Announced

By Frank Boles

Jack R. Westbrook of Mt. Pleasant and Mary Sue Sazima of Shepherd were recently recognized for their contributions to local history by being awarded the John Cumming Isabella County Historical Preservation Award.

Jack Westbrook was recognized for his many publications documenting both Mt. Pleasant and Isabella County. Mr. Westbrook, the retired editor of the Michigan Oil and Gas News, has published eight books about the county, including,

•    Anointed with Oil  by C. John Miller; as told to Jack R. Westbrook
•    The Big Picture Book of Mt. Pleasant Michigan: Yesteryears to 2010
•    Central Michigan University 
•    Isabella County, 1859 – 2009
•    Michigan Oil and Gas (2006)
•    Michigan Oil & Gas News 60th Anniversary Photo Review : A Pictorial Chronicle of Michigan Petroleum Exploration and Production History from Beginnings to 1993
•    Mount Pleasant: Then and Now
•    Mount Pleasant; Yesterday's School Kids of Isabella County: a Photographic History of Rural One-Room Schools in Isabella County, Michigan (co-authored with Sherry Sponseller.)

Mary Sue Sazima, better known as Sue Sazima, was recognized posthumously for her pioneering work with the Shepherd Area Historical Society. For many years the Coe Township librarian, Ms. Sazima helped organize and served as the first president of the Shepherd Area Historical Society.  Ms. Sazima tirelessly worked to promote, advance, and assist the Society.  Her death in 2009 was deeply felt within the historical society and the community it serves.

The John Cumming Isabella County Historical Preservation Award was first presented in 2009 as part of the Isabella County sesquicentennial celebration. It recognizes individuals who have made exemplary contributions to preserving, recording, or disseminating the history of Isabella County. The award is made possible by a coalition of local historical organizations. This year the selection committee included representatives from the Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, the Mt. Pleasant Area Historical Society, and the Shepherd Area Historical Society.

The awards were presented On Tuesday April 19 at the regular meeting of the Isabella County Board of Commissioners.

Monday, May 9, 2011

History Major - Really?

By John Fierst

Cynthia Engerson, who is working in the archival processing room with Marian Matyn, is a third year history major and a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the History Honors Club. She began her career at CMU majoring in health fitness but switched majors in her sophomore year. I first had a chance to talk with Cynthia when she asked me to be on a panel that Phi Alpha Theta was putting together. When I asked the reason for switching majors, she said that the passion wasn’t there for her first major but that she had always had a strong interest in history, colonial American history in particular. 

The purpose of the panel she was helping to put together was to discuss graduate school requirements for history students. On April 7th at 8:00 p.m. in Powers Hall, members of Phi Alpha Theta and a panel consisting of myself and three other professors—Jay Martin, Eric Johnson, and Greg Smith—met and discussed the pleasures and the pitfalls of pursuing a graduate degree in history. The discussion lasted two hours. Each of the panelists had followed a very different path to graduate study. When I talked with Cynthia later, she reported the students had been pleased, even inspired, by the turns the discussion had taken. That was quite a compliment. Most helpful to her were the life stories the panelists told, which suggested there wasn’t one right path to graduate school and that you should not apply to graduate school before you are ready. 

I realized I had gotten a lot out of the discussion also. Today, when there is such emphasis on the practical side of education,  it is wonderful to listen to students’ talk about the love they have for the subjects they study. Switching her major, Cynthia related, was one of the most difficult choices she had ever confronted. It is the kind of decision that takes courage. But it’s also the kind of choice many of us later in life regret never having made.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

CMU History Minute: Flag Rush

By Susan Powers

Image from the 1924 Flag Rush, Central Normal Life
Back when CMU was Central Normal School, the student council organized events that set one class against another in fierce competition. The student council hoped these events would encourage school spirit and inter-class rivalry. One such competition was known as the Flag Rush.

In the early 1920s, the Flag Rush took place in the fall, with freshman and sophomore men battling for the possession of a small flag that had been secured to a pole. The student council each year would supply a telephone pole for the event, which would be set into the ground in a field. The “defenders,” usually the sophomores, would place their flag up on the pole at a height of no more than fifteen feet. The “defenders” would then arrange themselves around the pole, while the “attackers,” usually the freshmen, had fifteen minutes to do all that they could do to steal the flag from the pole. Bleachers were set up around the spectacle for the cheering fans.

During this time, freshman males at Central had to wear green caps called “pots” on their head all year. Freshman females had to wear green ribbons. According to early Flag Rush tradition, if the freshman men won the competition they would no longer have to wear their green “pots,” so winning the Flag Rush held a great reward for them. The Frosh would paint their faces green in preparation for the battle.

The student council published the rule for the contest in the October 8, 1924 edition of Central Normal Life. Some of the rules included:

1.    Flag rush to be held annually during the fall term.
   (a)    Sophomores to have the choice of defense or attack if they are outnumbered by ten men or more. In any other case the student council shall decide.
   (b)    Pole to be provided by the student council and to be a telephone pole not less than six inches in diameter.
   (c)    If either class interferes in any way with the pole before the rush they shall be declared losers.
   (d)    Defenders of the pole shall provide the flag.
      1.    It may be of any description but shall at least measure 18” by 24”.
      2.    The flag [is] to be fastened on the outside of the pole at a point not more than fifteen feet from the ground.
      3.    The flag shall be fastened to the pole in such a way that a pull of ten pounds shall remove it.

5.    Time –
   (a)    Rush to be continued for fifteen minutes
6.    Winner –
   (a)    The winner shall be declared as follows:
      1.    If the defenders are successful in the defense (protection) of the flag for fifteen minutes they shall be declared winners.
      2.    If the attackers succeed in taking the flag down during the fifteen minutes they shall be declared winners.

The first annual student council Flag Rush took place in 1923, with the sophomores winning.

In 1924, the freshman outnumbered the sophomores two to one, and won the competition. The picture shown here captured the frenzy of that year’s event.

Clarke Historical Library serves as the archives for Central Michigan University. Thousands of items are available for patrons to use for researching CMU’s history. To see what is available in the Clarke, search the Libraries’ online catalog Centra.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Trains: A Pop-Up Railroad Book

By Tanya Fox

Whether you are young or old, if you have a fondness for children’s books the Clarke Historical Library is the place to visit. A part of our children’s collection consists of toy and moveable books including pop-up books. One recent addition to the Clarke is a pop-up book called Trains: a Pop-Up Railroad Book written by Robert Crowther and published by Candlewick Press (2006). Learn about the fastest and longest train cars. Find out the difference between a Pullman train car and a double decker train car. Read about the challenges of building tracks through mountains and over rivers. Manipulate the pull tabs to move trains along the tracks. Open up the train windows and peek inside!

Once you finish with the pop-up book, use the Clarke to investigate other children’s books. If you are a train buff, we have many items dealing with the history of the railroads, specifically in Michigan. Start your journey with Trains: a Pop-Up Railroad Book and continue on the adventure with the marvels of the Clarke Historical Library in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.