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American Consumer Culture combines three vivid collections

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American Consumer Culture combines three vivid collections of documents: Market Research & American Business, 1935-1965, Trade Catalogues and the American Home, and J. Walter Thompson: Advertising America. Together, these galleries are a powerful set of sources for studying the history of consumer culture in the twentieth century – from research into consumer habits to the products produced and the advertising process by which consumer goods are marketed and sold.

  • Market Research & American Business, 1935-1965 provides a unique insight into the American consumer boom of the mid-20th century through access to the market research reports and supporting documents of Ernest Dichter; the era’s foremost consumer analyst and market research pioneer.
  • Trade Catalogues and the American Home. Trade Catalogues have been a prominent feature in commerce and manufacturing from the 18th century to today. Highly illustrated, they are an essential visual record of a variety of products and facilitate research into popular culture, material culture, social norms and attitudes, as well as the history of marketing, business and technology.
  • J. Walter Thompson: Advertising America. Advertising has had a fascinating effect on the world through its interactions with consumer culture. J. Walter Thompson: Advertising America documents these interactions via the workings of one the world’s oldest and biggest advertising agencies. The documents in this collection allow us to explore how advertising works, company culture, how decisions are made, and ultimately from this we can examine the effect that the industry may have had over wider culture and how culture interacts with advertising.

This vast collection of primary sources documents 20th-century consumer culture in the United States and offers insights into one of the most important themes of modern times. It looks at three pillars of consumer culture: market research and its psychology; the process of advertising; and the actual goods manufactured and consumed.

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by Patricia Sobczak, business and public affairs collection librarian

Image: Whatever you do…you’ll like what you’ve done!, Campbells Soup Company in American Consumer Culture, Adam Matthew

Social Welfare projects and partners grow in 2018-19

The Social Welfare History Project continues to serve the public as both an educational resource and a portal for reference questions related to the site’s materials. 

More than 1.5 million visits to the project were recorded, most of which occurred during the school year. Undergraduates, public school students and researchers accessed hundreds of different articles.

The most highly used article was “Jim Crow Laws and Racial Segregation,” which was viewed more than 44,000 times. 

Other frequently consulted entries included:

Among the new articles posted this year, two were especially noteworthy. “Your Girl and Mine” recounts the story of a lost suffrage film that played in Richmond in March 1915. This piece also uncovered the names of 17 women appearing in a well-known photograph of the Equal Suffrage League of Richmond as they promoted the film. In October, guest author Breanna Schuetz, an M. S. W. student at UNC-Greensboro, contributed an article about social worker Alan Keith-Lucas

The project’s companion site, the Social Welfare History Image Portal, expanded significantly. It welcomed four new partner institutions and added more than 150 new documents and photographs.

Four new “Discovery Sets” were created as introductions to topics for archival research. “Valuable connections between institutional collections became increasingly apparent,” said Alice W. Campbell, who manages the project. “This year, for example, Issues of The Southern Frontier (Stitt Library at Austin Seminary) and The Interracial News Service (Special Collections and Archives, VCU Libraries) greatly enhanced possibilities for study of pre-civil rights era efforts to improve race relations.”

New Partners

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s Stitt Library The Southern Frontier publication of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation. 

Tulane University Libraries, materials on job discrimination, LGBTQ activism, school desegregation, and a New Oreleans orphanage

Brandeis University – World War I posters, manuscript by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, pamphlet signed by Louis Brandeis of his famous “True Americanism” speech

Virginia Museum of History & Culture range of materials dating as early as 1866, related to emancipation, public health, suffrage, labor and LGBTQ history. 

New Discovery Sets  

  • Child Laborexamines the exploitation of children in factories and mines, and early efforts to regulate or eliminate the practice beginning around 1900.
  • The White Plague: TuberculosisAlso known as consumption or “the white death,” tuberculosis remains one of the world’s most deadly infectious diseases. This set examines the history of efforts to prevent the spread of TB through public education and improved health care facilities.
  • Annotating SuffrageUsing the non-profit browser extension, hypothes.is, this set creates a virtual discussion space around a collection of suffrage handbills in preparation for the upcoming centennial of the 19th Amendment.
  • Controlling the Vote. Rights. Registration. RepresentationLacking the power to control how people vote, the next best option for ensuring who gets elected is to control who can vote. “Controlling the Vote” looks at the complicated and contentious history of attempts to control suffrage, voter registration, and access to the polls. 

Image Portal users responded with great enthusiasm for the Discovery Set “Comics on a Mission: Educational and Public Service Comic Books.” A tweet to this set from an Eisner Award winner immediately brought more than 1,000 visitors to the site. One comic collaboration between Marvel and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, The Amazing Spider-Man vs.The Prodigy! was viewed more than 2,000 times in the past year.

Outreach and presentations 

Project manager Campbell had a busy year getting the word out about these valuable online resources and how they might be used in the classroom. Campbell was invited to speak at the NASW Pioneers luncheon at the National Woman’s Democratic Club, Washington, DC, and for the Jefferson Senior Living community in Arlington, Va. She gave numerous conference presentations and shared the Image Portal widely.

  • Teach with Stuff Unconference, Library of Congress, Washington, 
  • Digital Archives in the Commonwealth Summit. George Mason University, Fairfax, Va.
  • Virginia Library Association/College and Research Libraries, Williamsburg, Va.
  • Virginia Forum, Longwood University, Farmville, Va.
  • Museums and the Web Conference, Boston  

This outreach paid off as the number of visitors to the Image Portal doubled from the previous year, with page views exceeding 28,117 for 2018-2019. Like its companion project, analytics reveal the highest usage during week days of the school year. While efforts continue in the long process of building an audience, the climbing statistics are very encouraging.

New LGBTQ manuscript collections available for researchers

Rainbow Flag consists of six stripes, with the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet

Thanks to the work and dedication of talented summer intern Jon Faulconer, two manuscript collections documenting stories of the LGBTQ community in Richmond are now open and available for research. This work strategically aligns resources in support of VCU’s new LGBTQ Studies hiring initiative.

The Betsy Brinson collection of AIDS epidemic exhibit materials includes seven oral histories that have been digitized from their original format on audio cassette and carefully transcribed. In the oral histories, the interviewees share their experiences during the height of the AIDS epidemic in Central Virginia. Both the audio files and transcripts can be accessed online through the finding aid in ArchivesSpace.

The second collection is the Equality Virginia records, which consists of materials created and acquired by the local organization from its founding through 2008. The collection documents the administrative functions of the group, as well as its numerous outreach and advocacy initiatives aimed at securing equal rights for LGBT Virginians and their families.

The department truly appreciates all the excellent work Jon did this summer to get these collections arranged, described, and available. We all were impressed by his enthusiasm, professionalism, and diligence, and we wish him all the best as he moves forward in his pursuit of a career in the cultural heritage field. 

Access World News: New shortcuts

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Access World News has added two shortcuts: Access Business News and America’s News Magazines. These shortcuts will help you find information on small and private companies as well as niche products. This is a useful resource to consider if you think you have exhausted all the options.

Access Business News

Access Business News is good resource for regional and local business news regarding industries, markets, companies and products via business journals, news weeklies and law journals in the United States. This resource can be especially useful for business research on hard-to-find news and stories on small private companies and niche markets from local news services. Access Business News allows users to search by headline, keyword, location, company name, source and date.

America’s News Magazines

Provides access to 3,000 full-text news sources for information on people, issues and events.  This resource contains authoritative, staff written coverage of unique local news from around the country as well as national topics, specific articles, statistics, video clips, quotations, facts and analysis.  America’s News Magazines will help the business researcher locate local and regional information on new and specialized products and businesses.

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By Janet Reid, business research librarian

Image:  Creative Commons

Passport GMID: Global market information database

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Research global markets with Passport GMID.  From Euromonitor, a business intelligence company with more than 40 years of experience analyzing developed and emerging markets, Passport GMID provides in-depth analysis, statistics, surveys, and news for industries, consumer markets, and business environments all over the world. Find company and brand shares of leading companies; use dashboards and data to identify potential markets; and read full text market research reports for over 20 consumer product and services categories.

Passport Industrial research examines the industrial makeup of the 68 largest economies in the world. Each economy is broken down into 177 industries, providing cross country comparable data and analysis. Passport Industrial is our first major research effort of B2B markets. Data points include production, profitability, imports, exports, buyers, suppliers, etc. Reports are modeled after Porter’s Five Forces. In the near future, Euromonitor will be expanding its Industrial research to 20 additional countries. The added coverage will be a deeper extension of the current and well-received  Markets of the Future (MOTF) reports. The addition of these countries will bring Euromonitor’s premier research coverage to 98% of Global GDP and 91% of Global Population.

Passport Cities provides fully comparable data and in-depth analysis on 1,150 of the world’s largest cities. There are detailed reviews of 120 of the world’s major metropolitan areas. Datagraphics, opinion 1 pieces, and dashboards are also prominently featured.

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By Patricia Sobczak, business and public affairs collections librarian

Image: Creative Commons

Creativity professor seeks inspiration

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Inspiration and creativity are not bound by disciplines. Libraries provide a crossroads for the exchange of ideas and exploration of materials across subject matters. That thinking brought Berwyn Hung, who teaches creativity, and his students to James Branch Cabell Library.

“Students are very much in their own bubble,” says Hung. “They need as much outside exposure to things that can influence and inspire them as possible.” A professor of creative brand management at the VCU Brandcenter, a two-year portfolio school in advertising and communication, Hung is also a book artist.

He brought a dozen students to Special Collections and Archives, where they explored items–book art, comic arts and other materials– from the collection. “They really seemed to love what they saw. The art direction students [saw] different ways to think about how to create visuals for the ads and for branding. Even the writers got really inspired. I definitely will bring more students back.” VCU’s Book Art Collection is a teaching collection. “It is for touching and experiencing and learning from.”   

Librarians Pattie Sobczak and Bettina Peacemaker talked with Hung about his path from printmaker to book artist to faculty member and how he finds that creative spark.

What was your journey to the Brandcenter?
I have a BFA in printmaking and book arts from the University of Georgia and then an MFA from the University of the Arts at Philadelphia.  After grad school, I found I had this love for teaching. I ended up in Atlanta at The Creative Circus and The Portfolio Center, both two-year portfolio schools. They wanted me to teach about the creative process, but also production, how to make things, make things look real and make things look better than they were. That was my path into design and advertising.

I taught for 14 or 15 years before I got to the Brandcenter. Through that time, I’ve evolved myself. I’ve had my own letterpress business. I was doing my own artwork. I was also teaching people how to run a press from beginning to end. It’s my fourth year at VCU. Brandcenter students sometimes ask me what I did before I came here, but I never actually went to school for what they are going to school for. I tell them, you find your passion and you find where that takes you, and you just never know where that’s going to end up.

What is your creative process as an artist?
As a child I got bored easily and was always looking for the next thing when I mastered something; I liked to take things apart and modify them. (My nickname was the “modifier”.)
With my creative process, early on a lot of it was dealing with a lot of internal questions. I dealt a lot with family, growing up as a second-generation American and self-identity. I co-wrote a piece with an Italian-American friend, where we both wrote about our second generation experience, and there was one line that still resonates with me from that writing: I am a tourist in the country of my ancestry and a foreigner in the country of my birth.

Then, I started to think about more communications, how people look at the world. I was trying to look at the world and figure out why does something work the way it does. Do we do things just because we’ve always done things that way and don’t want change? Or, do we do things that way because it’s the right thing to do and the correct way to do it? I’m always challenging my assumptions and some of that comes out in my artwork and that definitely comes out in my teaching.

How do you approach teaching?
I push my students to challenge their assumptions and to think differently. I love teaching people in different disciplines. When students get outside their comfort zone they can come up with anything and the most interesting ideas come out of that.

I give my students a lot of projects that are very conceptual in nature. My job is to challenge their minds and the way that they think. I can help them with their skills, of course, but I prefer to push their minds and then as they work on it help them with their individual skills and bring their vision into reality.

How do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in observation, in identifying the “why.” I’ve always challenged not just society’s conceptions but my own conceptions of things. Whenever I’m exposed to something new, it starts a crazy new thought process, and sometimes that turns into art.

As a book artist and a teacher of communication in the digital age, what is next?
So, how do we look at what is the future of publications, specifically, and how do we still assign value to something that you have to pay for yet we feel like we get information freely or cheaply most of the time. There’s so many things you can do in an electronic world that adds so many different levels or layers of interaction but yet there is very deep emotional connection to paper and the words on the page that this generation still holds on to. But I think it might be a matter of time for the generations coming up to have that same appreciation. … The mass production of books may slow down but the beauty of the book as an object, as something beyond just words, will become more revered.

I went through a period of challenging what is an artist book. Does it have to be in codex form? Does it have to be true to the word book? When I was exploring it, I was thinking more about the book as figurative passing on of knowledge or ideas from one generation to the next and how does that take form.

Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library works with community groups, students and faculty members from all disciplines. The department’s staff collaborates with instructors to incorporate materials tied to courses or objectives to inspire innovation, creativity or raise cultural awareness. Holdings include the nationally significant Book Art and Comic Arts Collections, both popular sources for teaching, research, and inspiration. Contact: Yuki Hibben, assistant head and curator of books and art, Special Collections and Archives, (804) 828-8837.

By Patricia Sobczak, business and public affairs collections librarian, and Bettina Peacemaker, assistant head, academic outreach and business research librarian

Image: VCU Libraries

Times Digital Archive: Every page & article since 1785

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VCU Libraries provides access to a vast resource of historical and contemporary information via the Times Digital Archive.  Recording centuries of British and world history, culture, politics and business, The Times (London) was established in 1785, and is the oldest daily newspaper in continuous publication. The Times Digital Archive is an online, full-text facsimile of more than 200 years of The Times, providing searchable access to every page of every issue from 1785. This access represents 1.4 million pages, nearly 70,000 issues and more than 11 million individual articles.

From this wealth of information, researchers have an unparalleled opportunity to search and view historical and contemporary journalism and images of human events. Read by both world leaders and the general public, The Times has offered readers in-depth, award-winning and objective coverage of world events since its creation. The user interface facilitates quick searches as well as detailed research, browsing for discovery and download options.

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By Kevin Farley, humanities collections librarian

Image: Waymarking.com

Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Isles

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Advancing our understanding of the history and present of women’s contributions to the literary, cultural and political life of Great Britain, VCU Libraries provides access to the landmark database, Orlando:  Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present. Orlando exemplifies digital humanities’ efforts to broaden access to little known or studied texts, provide historical and cultural context for authors and their works and inspire transformative ways of reading and understanding women’s literary engagement with their readers and the world through writing. Created at Cambridge University, Orlando is designed with a “unique structure and searchability,” encouraging researchers “to examine its information and critical comment in a wide range of configurations and to re-form this in new and creative ways. Orlando is open to the serendipities of productive browsing,” and fosters in-depth research through cultural, biographical, and textual discovery. More than 1,300 writers are included, and approximately 30,000 items are available for discovery–a growing list of authors and texts. Orlando will greatly enhance teaching and research at VCU, and foster a dynamic and innovative reading experience.

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By Kevin Farley, humanities collections librarian

Image:  “A Woman Seated at an Organ (or Writing Desk),” Yale University Art Gallery, public domain.

Coloribus: Advertising archive from 1969 to today

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Coloribus Advertising Archive is the largest global archive of commercial advertising around. It contains over 2 million historic advertisements and continuously adds more than 1,000 in addition each day. Coloribus allows users to go through advertisements all around the world to reference.

Browse through advertisements released by companies ranging from Ikea to Adidas. You will find all media and advertising modes, from bill boards, print ads, TV, radio, cinema, public promotion, to viral social media and online. When matched with a specific ad, users are able to download high resolution media files with an unlimited number of views and downloads. Find and search the full credits and description for the advertisement.

It allows users to learn advertising brands and styles without having to sort through hundreds of thousands of ads. With one click, anyone can find a particular ad in just seconds. There are advertisements dating back to 1969.

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By Katlyn Pierre, public relations intern. For more information about this resource or others

Image: Coloribus Advertising Archive

 

Race and Violence Research: Charting the Literature

For much of the 20th century, librarians fielding questions relevant to the topic of race and violence guided researchers to historical and general social science resources.

Scholars found articles about people, court cases, or events in databases like America: History and Life, or Sociological Abstracts. Primary evidence might be most easily found in newspapers, and court records. Photographic records, personal and agency records, newsreels, and video have long been available, but until large-scale digitization efforts were underway,  these were not readily accessible outside of individual archives.

In 2016, the range and number of resources on race and violence, and their ease of access, looks quite different.

It’s possible to create quick searches that reveal compelling patterns of growth and change in disciplinary topic treatment. A sophisticated multi-disciplinary database, like Web of Science, allows a search that offers evidence for expanding perspectives. Comparing decades, and using a search on “race OR racial” and “violence”, an effort identifies:

  • 1970-1979, 11 scholarly articles;
  • 1980-1989, 18 scholarly articles;
  • 1990-1999, 381 scholarly articles;
  • 2000-2009, 1,003 scholarly articles.

By the latest half decade, from 2010-2015, the same search identified 1,386 scholarly articles.

This exercise reveals the information explosion in research. But, these sorts of carefully constructed searches can offer evidence to help us  quantify, and pinpoint these “explosions” in a field.  What may be more intriguing, if not entirely surprising, is that while the 11 articles from 1970-1980 spanned across four broad disciplinary areas, notably sociology and ethnic studies, by the most current five years, the 1,386  identified articles spanned 50 broad research areas. These 50 include predictable disciplines like history, psychology and urban studies, but also include research in fields like substance abuse, anthropology and international relations. The largest current disciplinary area for this research appears to be in criminal penology, with emerging  research in areas as diverse as surgery and linguistics.

Today, librarians will want  to understand more about your interests in race and violence to recommend additional databases, but here are some starting suggestions:

Because Web of Science is also a citation-tracing database, it is possible to reveal author connections, disciplinary crossovers and persistence of research findings through citation analysis. This sort of search in Web of Science can quickly identify leading and new scholars in a field like race and violence, or other areas. For help with crafting a search in Web of Science that can reveal a quick picture of growth in disciplines relevant to topics that interest you, contact Sara Williams, liaison to African American Studies.

By Sara Williams, Head, Academic Outreach

Image: Black Panther Demonstration, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 1970, Black Studies Center

HeinOnline: Legal materials from the colonies forward

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VCU Libraries subscribes to HeinOnline, a searchable image-based database of legal research materials. What makes acquisition of this database exciting is its depth and its application to so many different disciplines and areas of study. While HeinOnline is an excellent resource for researchers looking for articles on legal issues of any kind, the collections have applicability to anyone studying history, political science, public policy and administration, homeland security, criminal justice, international relations, or any topic which involves those subjects.

At the heart of the database is the law journal collection which includes more than 2,000 publications, each provided from its first issue to the latest, subject to moving-wall restrictions. The historical collection of state statutes provides superseded statutes for all 50 states, some dating as far back as 1717.

The same “from inception” coverage, with various cut-off dates, applies to the Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Reports, and many other collections. Having older versions of laws and regulations is of great benefit for those researching the evolution of statutory and regulatory coverage of certain topics.

A few examples will provide an indication of how deep the collections are. The U.S. Treaties and Agreements Library contains not only all U.S. treaties, but also books and other texts such as Great European Treaties of the Nineteenth Century (1918), History of the Five Indian Nations of Canada (1755), and treaty guides and indexes such as Hertslet’s Commercial Treaties: A Complete Collection (Vols. 1-31). Foreign Relations of the United States covers every administration from Lincoln through Carter and also includes historical texts such as Trescot’s Diplomatic History of the Administration of Washington and Adams (1857) among many others. The U.S. Congressional Documents collection includes the Congressional Record (and its predecessors) from the 1st Congress to current, as well as Congressional Budget Office documents from 1976 to present, and what appears to be all of the unclassified Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports. Finally,the Session Laws collection for Virginia covers 1661-2013, thus extending our access significantly backward from December, 1861, the date of the first print volume in our collection.

Each page of every document has a permanent link. Click on the link icon to display the permanent link that can then be placed anywhere.

The combination of WestlawNext and HeinOnline provides access to legal, regulatory, and Congressional information from colonial times to the present day.

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By Marilyn Scott, education research librarian

Image: Creative Commons

Berg Fashion Library: World fashion index

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Fashion lovers everywhere can be in-tune with fashion statements throughout history with the Berg Fashion Library.

The resource provides integrated text and image content from the 1600s to today in the form of e-books, reference works and more. It provides in-depth information on various bodies, garments and styles of fashion. The database also allows users to be matched with references and articles.

Browse through various dress, individuals and textiles throughout history. Berg Fashion Library allows users to get matched with scholarly fashion articles on everything from “Afro Hairstyle” to “The Fabric of Fabrication.” Get lost in the world of silks and calico while browsing through the site. Whether one’s interest is new world or old school, Berg has options. Discover how Tibet influences fashion in  “Archaeological Evidence: Tibet” or turn up hundreds of hits on Christian Dior.

Berg Fashion Library allows users to explore by time and place. Search for fashion from Oceania to Central America. There are articles about some of the iconic fashion items in the world from the sari to the kimono.

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By Katlyn Pierre, public relations intern. For more information about this resource or others

Image: Berg Fashion Library

iPOLL: Comprehensive U.S. data from 1935 to today

iPoll (2)

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Drawn from every major polling organization in the United States, iPOLL offers comprehensive and up-to-date national and some international public opinion poll data. With more than 650,000 questions and answers dating to 1935, users can find public opinions on a variety of topics.

The database offers useful search features, including keyword, topic, organization and dates and also searching within a set of question results. iPOLL contains polling data on public policy issues ranging from elections to social security to religious status.

Special note may be made of the Topics at a Glance feature. Users may choose from a variety of topics found in the headlines, utilizing the pre-populated datasets, charts and issue briefs to get a quick overview of public opinion.

iPool is managed by The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, currently located at the University of Connecticut. According to its website: “It is one of the world’s leading archives of social science data, specializing in data from public opinion surveys. The Center’s mission is to collect, preserve, and disseminate public opinion data; to serve as a resource to help improve the practice of survey research; and to broaden the understanding of public opinion through the use of survey data in the United States and abroad. Founded in 1947, the Roper Center holds data ranging from the 1930s, when survey research was in its infancy, to the present. Its collection now includes over 22,000 datasets and adds hundreds more each year. In total, the archive contains responses from millions of individuals on a vast range of topics. …  The Roper Center has a strong presence in the public opinion community and maintains cooperative relationships with other archives around the world. Its Board of Directors contains representatives from both academic and commercial public opinion research.”

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Image: Creative Commons

by Nia Rodgers

British Periodicals: Hundreds of 17th-20th century titles

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VCU Libraries expanded its British Periodicals series with the acquisition of British Periodicals I and III. This series consists of facsimile page images and searchable text for nearly 500 periodicals published between the 17th and 20th centuries. Topics covered include politics, science, history, literary and creative arts, archaeology and popular culture.

British Periodicals I is the foundation of the series, some 160 journals that comprised the Early British Periodicals microfilm collection. This collection covers topics such as politics, science, history, literary and creative arts, archaeology and popular culture. Titles in this series include the Athenaeum, the Scottish Review and the London Journal.

British Periodicals III extends the scope of the series into the first half of the 20th century. This collection contains illustrated periodicals known as the “Great Eight” in British publishing. These popular periodicals covered news, art, photography and literature of the era. Titles in this series include Britannia and Eve, The Sketch, and The Tatler. Images are in full color when present in the original.

These additions join British Periodicals II, a collection dedicated to the arts, in VCU Libraries electronic resources. Material from these collections is available to download either as PDFs or JPEG images.

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By Emily Davis Winthrop, arts collections librarian

Image: Graphic The Tatler; Jul 9, 1930; 117, 1515; British Periodicals pg. 75

Kanopy: Try new video streaming service

Kanopy News

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VCU Libraries introduces a trial of Kanopy, one of the largest, educational streaming video services, providing access to more than 26,000 documentaries, feature films, shorts and more.

The VCU academic community is invited to use the service, which VCU Libraries has licensed,  during the trial period (through October 14) and provide feedback to inform a purchase decision. Your feedback about research and teaching use of this new resource by you and your students is valuable, so please let us know what you think.

Included are many of the libraries’ most circulated DVD and VHS titles: Still Killing Us Softly 4; La Jetee; The National Parks; Race, the Power of Illusion; A House Divided; Rome, Open City; Apted’s Up series; Crude, the Real Price of Oil; Graduating Peter; Recovering Bodies; Art & Copy.

Collections include:

  • Feature and international films from: Criterion/Janus Films, New Day Films, First Run Features, Media Education Foundation, Kino Lorber Education, Flicker Alley (silent film classics), Film Movement
  • Documentaries from: Media Education Foundation, Green Planet Films, Roland Collection, Michael Blackwood, PBS, BBC, California Newsreel, Documentary Educational Resources, Psychotherapy.net  

Access the Kanopy interface from Trial Databases. Soon, individual titles will be added within VCU Libraries Search. Kanopy features include closed captioning, tools for links, social media and embedding players. Create an account to save clips and playlists. Explore through searching, browsing and recommendations, then refine through the subject, date, language and other limiters at the bottom, left of the interface.

By Nell Chenault, Film and Performing Arts Research Librarian

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Image: Kanopy Streaming

History in Your Hands: A digitized Dickinson letter

Emily_DickinsonFinding aid

A 17-word letter from poet Emily Dickinson to a neighbor is now widely available to researchers through a new “History in Your Hands” exhibit in the online VCU Libraries Gallery.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) lived most of her life in the family home in Amherst, Mass. She lived quietly. While often identified as a recluse, Dickinson kept close relations through correspondence, which often included poems.

The VCU Libraries letter was written to Mrs. Henry F. (Adelaide Spencer) Hills, the wife of  a businessman. The Hills family had their summer home in Amherst. Adelaide was a frequent correspondent with her neighbor, Emily. After Mrs. Hills’ death in 1910, the letter passed into the hands of her children, specifically her daughter Susan Clapp Hills Skillings, and then to Susan’s heirs. The letter was purchased for the VCU Libraries in 1972 by The James Branch Cabell Library Associates Board. It is the only Dickinson letter VCU Libraries holds.

Like much of Dickinson’s correspondence, this letter is a brief note, written in pencil. Thomas H. Johnson, who published the authoritative work of Dickinson letters, identifies this as letter #614 with a possible publication date of 1879. Prior to the letter’s recent digitization and online publication, it was known only to scholars through transcriptions. Because of its fragility, access to the letter is restricted. Permission to view the original must be granted by the head of Special Collections and Archives. Inquire at the reading room desk or send an email to libjbcsca@vcu.edu.

If you’re interested in learning more about the poet and her work, the Emily Dickinson Museum offers many resources related to Emily Dickinson and to Dickinson scholarship. The two major collections for Emily Dickinson’s manuscripts and family papers are Amherst College and Harvard University.

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About the History in Your Hands series of exhibits:

Every archival collection holds a story. Manuscripts and artifacts bear witness to past events, but only a careful researcher can piece together the facts of history and reveal the narrative within the collection. VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives houses many fascinating primary source materials that wait for inquisitive minds to study them. History in Your Hands exhibits present featured manuscript collections that we believe merit further research. Only when you take “history in your hands” can you begin the process that will allow the full story to be shared.

If you have any questions or comments regarding these materials or this exhibition, please contact the Special Collections and Archives staff in James Branch Cabell Library.

Finding aid

Image:  Emily Dickinson. Daguerreotype. ca. 1847 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. This image is in the public domain. Amherst College Archives & Special Collections is the home of the original.

Creative Catalysts: VCU Arts Librarians

VCU Arts Librarians

Nell Chenault, Emily Davis Winthrop and Carla-Mae Crookendale can help you create, teach and find inspiration. Each of them brings a love and appreciation of the arts, related educational credentials and librarian savvy to their roles in VCU’s creative community.

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Nell Chenault, Film and Performing Arts Research Librarian

Schools and Departments Served: Cinema, Dance, Music, Photo/Film, Theatre, Art Foundation, MATX and Film Studies

Expertise/education

  • BA, English, University of Virginia
  • MLIS, Catholic University of America
  • Former Media Librarian and Head, Media and Reserves, VCU Libraries

Areas of interest

  • Intellectual property for media is always an interesting puzzle.
  • My interests are shifting toward intellectual rights in the global information commons. These rights issues impact us as both media and information producers and consumers.
  • Documentaries

What do you like most about what you do?

Media artist Nam June Paik described his work as “archeology of the present” with the goal of circulating ideas, digging them up from the ruin of the past to understand the present. He characterized his work as “priviledged.” I have experienced this through witnessing the works of the VCU community and sharing my knowledge and the VCU Libraries’ resources to help faculty and students reach their vision and come to new understanding.

What currently has your attention?

At home, I have been sorting and moving my large vinyl and CD collections, revisiting old favorites and playing overlooked recordings.

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Carla-Mae Crookendale, Visual Arts Research Librarian

Schools and Departments Served: Art Education, Art History, Communication Arts, Craft/Material Studies, Fashion Design, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Kinetic Imaging, Painting and Printmaking, Sculpture and Extended Media, Art Foundation, MATX

Expertise/education

  • BFA, Metals and Jewelry/Art History minor, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
  • MFA, Fashion, SCAD
  • MLIS, Valdosta State University
  • Costume shop manager and adjunct faculty, Theater Department, Belhaven College
  • Adjunct faculty, Metals and Jewelry Department, SCAD
  • Reference Librarian, SCAD

Areas of interest

  • Visual literacy, the ability to find, make and ethically use images and visual media.
  • User experience, helping library users have effective and enjoyable experiences in physical and virtual library spaces.
  • Design for good, how design can be used in innovative ways to make the world a better and more beautiful place.

What do you like most about what you do?
Working with creative people in a dynamic and diverse environment, constantly learning and being inspired.

What currently has your attention?
A terrific art, design and visual culture blog called Colossal http://www.thisiscolossal.com/. It’s a great way to discover new artists, and ranges from the quirky (Turn Boring Vegetables into Spaceships and Racecars with Le FabShop’s 3D-Printable ‘Open Toys’) to the whimsical (Artist JeeYoung Lee Converts Her Tiny Studio Into Absurdly Elaborate Non-Digital Dreamscapes) to the awe-inspiring (An Expansive Swirling Snow Drawing Atop a Frozen Lake by Sonja Hinrichsen).

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Emily Davis Winthrop, Arts Collection Librarian

Schools and Departments served: Collection development for the School of the Arts, with the exception of Music. Kevin Farley, PhD., Humanities Collections Librarian, handles collection development for Music.

Education and Expertise

  • BA, Art History, VCU
  • MA, Art History, VCU
  • PhD candidate, Art History (expected Spring 2015), VCU
  • Major field: 19th and early-20th century European art
  • Minor Field: Colonial Latin American art
  • Instructor, VCU Art History department and VCU Glasgow Artists and Writers Workshop

Areas of Interest

  • Epistemology. The core of being a bibliographer is to constantly examine the field of knowledge. What foundations and theoretical frameworks are necessary to make art, to understand art and to teach art?
  • Gender theory and theories of design. My own research focuses on issues of gender in art and theories of design and decorative arts circa 1900. My dissertation, “The Female Nude in Art Nouveau: Allegories of Modernity” looks at the ways in which the nude conveyed a message of modernism and how the form helped to destabilize the categories of fine and decorative art.

What do you like most about what you do? 

You become very myopic in graduate school, I enjoy the breadth and variety that comes with collection development.

What currently has your attention?
Formats. From electronic books and online catalogue raisonnés to 16mm and half-inch video reels, the arts have a variety of necessary formats all with their own issues.

Image: 

Medicovan: VCU new publications

Medicovan
Medicovan, the monthly newsletter for the MCV Campus from 1948-73 has now been added to the digital collection VCU News Publications. This collection also includes VCU Today, VCU Voice, VCU News, and UniverCity News–all of which were official university news sources.

According to the Digital Collection’s website, in the years following World War II, the administration of the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) sought to enhance communication among its growing faculty and staff through the publication of a monthly newsletter. The publication first appeared in February of 1948 under the masthead “Name Me, Please!” Ann Blanton, secretary in the St. Philip Hospital administrator’s office, won the naming contest with her suggestion of The Medicovan. For the next 25 years. Medicovan carried announcements, administrative messages, personnel updates, and news from the hospitals, departments, schools and other units at MCV. Following the creation of Virginia Commonwealth University in 1968, the Medicovan broadened its scope to include news of people and events on the Academic Campus of VCU. With the appearance of the new University newsletter, VCU Today, in May of 1972, the Medicovan was phased out.
The VCU News Publications collection contains a wealth of information on the University’s past. In addition to news stories, feature articles and event calendars, there are hundreds of images of campus life and of former students, staff, faculty and administrators. What might be most significant is the wide range of University reports that were published. Departments and schools also submitted articles and other news items of interest to the University community. Letters to the editor, editorials, and formal messages from deans and presidents are examples of some of the content found in this digitized collection.

The print issues of The Medicovan are housed in Special Collections and Archives at the Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences on the MCV campus. VCU Today, VCU Voice, UniverCity New and VCU News are available in Special Collections and Archives departments on both campuses.

Find It

Chick Larsen Papers: Samples of clippings, pieces and tools

The Chick Larsen Papers give a local perspective to VCU Libraries’ expansive Comic Arts Collection with a look at the life and methods of an award-winning cartoonist.

From 1950 to 1954, Carl E. “Chick” Larsen (1923-1991) studied commercial art at Richmond Professional Institute (RPI), the forerunner of VCU. He later became an editorial cartoonist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where he worked for more than 35 years. One of his best-known creations was a color comic strip about a newspaper carrier. “Carrier-Toons” ran in newspapers nationwide from 1979-1984.

The collection documents Larsen’s career as a professional artist. Samples of his work include clippings of “Carrier-Toons,” some of his student work and pieces he created for various clients. It also contains some of Larsen’s art supplies–the X-ACTO knives and India ink that were common tools of the trade from the 1950s to 1980s. These pieces offer a look at the way cartoons were made in the pre-digital era.

To view the Chick Larsen Papers, visit Special Collections and Archives on the fourth floor of James Branch Cabell Library.

Image: Portrait of Chick Larson, 1978. Special Collections and Archives, VCU Libraries

Billy DeBeck’s Office Door: Cultural stereotypes of Appalachia

VCU Libraries has an extensive Comic Arts Collection. But it also has a few items that are not in the book or comic book format — like the office door of pioneering cartoonist Billy DeBeck, featuring an oil painting of one of his most beloved characters.

William Morgan DeBeck, 1890-1942, was a giant in the comic strip art form. To readers in the Jazz Age and Depression era, his characters were as beloved as Superman, Peanuts and Doonesbury became to later generations. Dialogue from Barney Google became part of the cultural syntax. Catchphrases from his strips included: “Horsefeathers!” “Heebie-jeebies,” “Jeepers Creepers!” “Bus’ Mah Britches!” and “Time’s a’wastin’!” DeBeck invented the moniker “Google” for his character. DeBeck’s personal papers and other materials provide insight into American cultural stereotypes of Appalachia.

Like many illustrators and cartoonists, DeBeck didn’t confine his art to paper; he painted Barney Google and his equine sidekick, Spark Plug, right, on his office door. The door was donated to Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library by DeBeck’s former secretary.

To see the door, visit Special Collections and Archives at Cabell Library.

Image: Special Collections and Archives, VCU Libraries