“We have that here?!”: Students Meet Special Collections at the Libraries’ Welcome Fest

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Sept. 30, 2022, noon
SCRC tabled at Welcome Fest, highlighting the full range of resources, services and spaces available to students.
person wearing gray sweater, another person with long hair wearing face mask, standing behind table with materials under glass display and in front of glass display case

Dane Flansburgh, Assistant Archivist, and Michele Combs, Lead Archivist, greet students and answer their questions.

by Jana Rosinski, Instruction and Education Librarian, Special Collections Research Center (SCRC)

At the beginning of the month, SCRC tabled at Welcome Fest—the Libraries’ fall semester kickoff event that highlights the full range of resources, services and spaces available to students. Representing SCRC were not only staff, but for the first time, materials from our collections. Nearly 400 students stopped by to check out pieces of SU history and the student experience through the class of 1922’s Onondagan yearbook, a 1960s cheerleader sweater, and a freshman beanie from the class of 1957 from the University Archives. Beyond the scope of SU, students were presented with a sampling of the types of materials held within special collections by way of a 19th century miniature book the size of a stamp; a photograph album of portraits of some members of the Black community in Civil War-era Detroit; Audre Lorde’s poetry chapbook Cables to rage; an interesting example of an illustrated book binding that was a popular souvenir among tourists visiting Florence, Italy; and several pages from an undated, original research paper handwritten by Albert Einstein, “Uber rotationssymmetrische stationare Gravitationsfelder”.

A closer look at some of the items featured:

mini book between fingers

The Daily Text Book, published around 1840, is an example of publications known as “Thumb Bibles”; portable and convenient, this tiny book of several Bible passages could be carried in the pocket and used for daily meditation.

detroit album; Black man wearing jacket and tie with mustache

The Detroit Photograph Album, from around 1865, features 20 albumen portrait photographs. This photograph is from a photographer’s studio in Grand Circus Park, a prominent district in the city of Detroit that connects the theatre district with the financial district; it was established in 1850 as part of the city’s reconstruction after the Great Fire of 1805.

einstein manuscript in german handwriting

Page 4 of the 11-page Einstein Manuscript in the Albert Einstein Collection features text and calculations, including this large crossed-out section; original research for "Uber rotationssymmetrishe stationare Gravitationsfelder" ("On Rotationally Symmetric Stationary Gravitational Fields").

drawing of woman with breasts exposed, basket on head, child holding onto her leg

The front cover of Francesco Lelli, Le favole. Livorno, Carlo Giorgi for Antonio Santini, 1766. These Italian lace-cased bindings were common in the 16th-18th century. This binding was likely made in the early 20th century by the Florentine bookbinding workshop of Giulio Giannini and Son; founded in 1856, the shop is still active.

Meg Mason posing next to orange block s sweater and behind table with materials from archives

University Archivist Meg Mason poses with the cheerleading sweater while talking with students about the significance of documenting their own student experience.

SCRC table with staff sitting behind collections materials in glass cases

From left to right: Jana Rosinski, Instruction & Education Librarian; Julia Dudley, Access Services Supervisor; Ivayla Roleva-Peneva, Media Preservation Archivist; and Jim O’Connor, Sound Beat Producer, all joyful for the chance to connect students with collections.

Amidst conversations about the value of having access to primary sources for academic and creative endeavors, inquiries into our Sound Beat audio program, were “literal jaw drops” at the opportunity to engage with such a range of histories present on one small table. SCRC is happy to report that these weren’t just in-passing encounters; since Welcome Fest, students have been visiting the 6th floor of Bird Library to check out our exhibitions and set up appointments to spend time with our collections and their own curiosities.

students dig for pins at table with handout materials in library

Students dig for a collectible SCRC button featuring images from some of our collection materials representing sci-fi and pulp literature, the Black Arts Movement, rare, illustrated children’s books, industrial designed home-goods of the mid-20th century, medieval manuscripts, and LP covers.

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