New Center for Mason Legacies

Undergraduate research guided by CHSS faculty and University Libraries librarian fueled the inspiration for the Memorial to the Enslaved People of George Mason.
Image: Rendering of the new memorial courtesy of Perkins & Will.

The University Libraries and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) are pleased to announce the newly established Center for Mason Legacies (CML) at George Mason University. CML will be led by George Oberle (History Librarian and faculty member in the Department of History and Art History), along with two associate directors, Wendi Manuel-Scott (professor of history, integrative studies, women and gender studies, and African and African-American Studies) and Benedict Carton (faculty member in the Department of History and Art History), and an advisory board of CHSS faculty.

This joint initiative unifies scholarly research, public history, teaching innovation, and community outreach by engaging student researchers in studying the past and present influences of the university’s namesake. Carton underscores the value of such exploration: “We are uncovering hidden histories of George Mason IV, the legal visionary, family man, and slaveowner. His life and example inform our nation’s founding concepts of liberty, justice, and property. What can we learn about his institution-building, opportunities and limitations, social and commercial networks, and what our Patriot intentionally and unintentionally imparted to America?”

CML is building and curating a significant archive of unique records generated by and about George Mason IV, his family, and their many associates. The historical coverage of this archive will span the period of the Virginia Colony through the Early Republic and Antebellum era to Jim Crow, civil rights, and the establishment of George Mason University. The pool of materials will include archaeological reports (e.g. plotting remnants of field dwellings, burial grounds, etc.); cultural artifacts; oral interviews with possible descendants of enslaved people from Gunston Hall and surrounding plantations in Virginia and Maryland; the collected testimonies of early African-American alumni remembering their experience at Mason and the meaning of their university namesake; and other sources. Building on these historical examinations, CML will look at the present and host events to facilitate critical conversations about freedom, slavery, and race in America and how we reckon with our past.

George Oberle, CML director, is enthusiastic about the prospects of engaging more university students in archival-based research and the center’s efforts in guiding and supporting historical and cultural documentation. He observes, “I love the work the center is exploring because it shows great potential to sustain years of student-driven research. Our initial experience with the Enslaved Children of George Mason (ECGM) pilot project led by Professor Manuel-Scott shows that undergraduates are excited to uncover and present histories with immediate meaning to wider audiences on campus and in communities beyond. We have not and are not defining topics. On the contrary, students are developing their interests and, in the process, broadening critical-thinking skills, for example, by conducting fieldwork in local archives. Their initiative promises to enhance the understanding of our university’s diverse, complicated, and still-unknown story.”

Wendi Manuel-Scott, who is also affiliated with the John Mitchell, Jr. Program for History, Justice, and Race at the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, is deeply committed to scholar-community partnerships. She views the new center as a means of engaging student researchers in a critical dimension of university outreach, which seeks to connect and enrich the knowledge of wider worlds. “When pursuing public history such as the Enslaved Children of George Mason research,” she reminds us, “it becomes our institutional responsibility as a public university to engage with as many people as possible on and beyond the campus. Our student-faculty-administrative research has influenced not only Mason but also those around us. That is why we are committed to making our findings accessible – both in content and format – to our university and alumni as well as to scholars everywhere such as K-12 school teachers. The center should have lasting, meaningful impact that will embrace and inspire many others.” In this vein, CML will provide opportunities for research, teaching, and engagement with Northern Virginia communities around the history of slavery and its legacies in modern society.

John Zenelis, Dean of Libraries and University Librarian, signals the vital importance of the shared goals animating the partnership of CHSS and the Libraries, “The center is a natural outcome of student success and scholarly research. I am pleased that the Libraries’ faculty and staff are both leading and supporting our university in a way that brings greater visibility to our institution’s premier academic contributions. The Libraries offer an ideal, curated repository for the center’s archive of collected materials, community records, and academic products, which will enhance administrative, faculty, and student commitments to diversifying and deepening collaborative learning at Mason.”

Ann Ardis, Dean of CHSS, notes that “this exciting new partnership between CHSS faculty and the University Libraries is bringing George Mason’s complicated legacies to digital life for a new generation of student-scholars and enabling important new dimensions of community engagement and K12 outreach. The work that Dr. Oberle, Professor Carton, and Professor Manuel-Scott and their teams of student researchers are undertaking is a great example of Mason’s trademark commitments to collaborative, project-based learning and research of consequence.”

For more about the CML’s ongoing projects and future plans, visit https://library.gmu.edu/legaciesofgeorgemason. The website showcases student analyses and projects, primary sources, and will be the home of an online academic journal promoting relevant scholarship.

Questions? Contact George Oberle, Director of the Center for Mason Legacies, at goberle@gmu.edu; or Jessica Clark, Development & Communications Officer, at jclarkw@gmu.edu.

Library Events/Workshops Status

Updated March 17, 2020

Check ’em out: Online Library Workshops March 16 – May 2

  • Research Poster Design Online
  • Zotero Online
  • Library Basics Online
  • Uncovering Conspiracy Theory
  • Level Up ENGH 302 Online
  • Using Census Data

Canceled Library Events/Workshops

  • March 17, Sharin’ of the Zines, Fenwick
  • March 19, Marchives Madness, Fenwick
  • March 20, WAC Faculty Write-In, Fenwick
  • March 24, Kaveh Akbar, Visiting Writer, Fenwick
  • March 25, Music in the Lobby, Fenwick
  • April 1, Edible Book Festival, Fenwick
  • April 6, Data Planet workshop
  • April 6, Mason Press Book Launch, Fenwick
  • April 8 + 9, Pathway Studio workshops, SciTech + Fenwick

Postponed Library Events/Workshops 

  • March 24, DiSC Research Connections, Noel Johnson presentation, Fenwick

Performing Arts and the Human Experience Exhibit

“Showing Us Our Own Face”: Performing Arts and the Human Experience is now on view through May 2020, in the Special Collection Research Center’s exhibition gallery on the second floor of Fenwick Library.

As Zelda Fichandler remarked, “the theater is capable of showing us our own face, plumbing for us the human heart, leading us to the edge of our own mind.” This exhibition celebrates the myriad faces and experiences of those who dedicate their lives to the performing arts. Through six disciplines – Opera, Ballet, Theatre, Musical Theatre, Dance, and Music – the exhibition examines the power of the performing arts, and its ability to “show us our own face.”

The exhibition features items from SCRC’s major performing arts collections (as well as some smaller collections), including documents, photographs, playbills, programs, artist books, posters, rare books, and other objects. Fascinating objects on display range from an illuminated manuscript of choral music from the 1400s to East German posters advertising opera and ballet to a braille script for “All the King’s Men” from an Arena Stage production.

In conjunction with the exhibition, an opening reception will take place on Tuesday, February 11 at 2pm in Fenwick Library, Room 2400 (Special Collections Research Center). Rick Davis, Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, will speak about the importance of performing arts, followed by a short tour of the exhibit. Light refreshments will be provided.

O’Reilly for Higher Education replaces Safari

On January 1, 2020, VIVA / Mason Libraries started a new contract for O’Reilly for Higher Education, which replaces Safari Tech Books Online.

The O’Reilly for Higher Education digital platform includes more than 38,000 book titles and more than 30,000 hours of video. Topics range from programming to IT networking to project management to graphic design to business strategy. The content includes code snippets, certification preparation materials, practice exercises, training videos, and much more. Users can search thousands of books simultaneously online. There are also proven learning paths, case studies, interactive tutorials and audio books.

O’Reilly  for Higher Education requires a login using your gmu.edu email address. Find thousands of books + videos related to IT, programming, and business. You can also browse by topic, and, save content to your playlist to access it later. Get started with this guide to using the platform.

O’Reilly Mobile App   https://www.oreilly.com/online-learning/apps.html

The O’Reilly app allows you to take your online learning with you on the go. Download as many books and videos as you would like. Start reading on one device, and pick up where you left off on another, with effortless syncing of highlights and position. Discover new content to add to your playlists. Learn during your commute, even when you can’t get a signal, with offline access. The O’Reilly app offers the full breadth of videos and books available with your O’Reilly subscription. Note: O’Reilly interactive training such as Oriole online tutorials and some Learning Paths are supported only through a web browser.

Can I use O’Reilly on my Kindle?
Amazon prevents the installation of third-party applications on its E-reader devices. Due to the nature of our business, we can only distribute content through our own apps—for more or less the same reason that Spotify songs can’t be played in iTunes, for

Can I sideload the Queue app onto my Android device or Amazon Tablet?
If your Android device cannot connect to the Google Play store, but otherwise meets the requirements for installation, you can download an APK for sideloading onto your device from this link. Please note that sideloaded apps do not automatically receive updates, so you’ll need to keep track of that yourself.

Links and other info: