Special Event on Nov 16: The Iron Curtain

On Tuesday, November 16, Mason Libraries and Mason OLLI (the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at George Mason University) will host “The Iron Curtain,” a virtual event, from 3:30-5 p.m. This event is open to the Mason community, but registration is required – please register here to reserve your spot, and a Zoom link will be sent to you prior to the event.

A panel of selected OLLI members will discuss the pivotal years of the Cold War and their pervasive influence on American culture. The panel will be moderated by Samuel Clowes Huneke, assistant professor in the Department of History & Art History at Mason. The event will be recorded and added to the Special Collections Research Center’s (SCRC) Oral History Program collection.

“The Iron Curtain” marks the fifth annual special oral history collaboration between SCRC and OLLI. The program is funded by a Special Project Grant awarded to the University Libraries by OLLI Mason.

An associated exhibition, Looking Over Our Shoulder: The Cold War in American Culture, is now on view in the Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) exhibition space on the second floor of the Fenwick Library on Mason’s Fairfax campus. A corresponding digital exhibit is also available online. Read more here.

Tell your COVID-19 Story

Share your voice with SCRC’s latest project – the COVID-19 Mason Community Impact Project.

The George Mason University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC), home of Mason’s Oral History Program and the University Archives, is actively documenting the COVID-19 impact on the Mason community by archiving materials related to the university’s communications and the broader community experience.

One facet of this endeavor is collecting community stories via the COVID-19 Mason Community Impact Project – an effort to preserve the thoughts and experiences of George Mason University students, faculty, staff, alumni and surrounding community members during this difficult period. Preserving these experiences – as reflective of the time in which we live – is a core tenet of the SCRC. SCRC faculty and staff, with the assistance of Web Applications and Services Librarian Andrew Stevens, have designed the project to allow for text, video, and other media submissions.

Bob Vay, Technology and Exhibitions Archivist, reflects, “As archivists it is not just our job but our passion to preserve resources that help explain our past to people in the future. A university, or any institution for that matter, is defined by the people that belong to it. We are finding out this semester just how strong a university we are in the efforts of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The coronavirus pandemic has been one of the most challenging, if not the most challenging issue with which the Mason community has ever had to deal. It has changed the way we educate, learn, interact with each other, and interact with our local and global communities as members of the Mason Nation.”

The development of the project was a team effort in SCRC, whose members are all invested in the documentation and preservation of historical and cultural moments, and who want to ensure that the collection of stories and reflections received represent the diversity of experiences. Liz Beckman, Manuscripts and Archives Librarian, remarks, “We want to make sure that the diverse voices of the Mason community are represented in the University Archives. Everyone is experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects in a unique way, and we have the opportunity right now to document the variety of experiences of students, faculty, staff, and alumni in the midst of a time that will have a lasting effect on our world.”

Vay continues, “While faculty, students, and staff come and go, the university will continue to be a fixture in higher education for many years to come. Many years down the road, this unfortunate situation will be just a memory. Old newspaper articles, video clips, documentary films, and our fading memories will serve as the sources of information about this wide-reaching crisis. Recording our thoughts about this situation today is one way we can assure that people who come after us will understand what we experienced.”

Community members are invited to help in this endeavor by preserving a record of their personal experiences regarding the COVID-19 Crisis, whether in words, images, videos, or other media via this form. Questions? Please contact the Special Collections Research Center at speccoll@gmu.edu.

Celebrate Archives Month

October is Archives Month, and our Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) has multiple opportunities for you to learn and celebrate with them.

Archives Month Information Session, Wednesday, October 2, 1-4pm, Johnson Center, Kiosk C: Stop by and chat with someone from the Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center about archives and special collections. SCRC will be available to answer any questions you have about archives – or research – and how we can help. We will also have general information about our collections with particular research value.

Archives Fair, Wednesday, October 9, 2-4pm, Fenwick 2001: Come and speak to various local archival repositories about their collections, historical resources, and potential internships. Participating organizations, in addition to SCRC, include: Virginia Room (Fairfax County Public Library), Fairfax Circuit Court Historical Records Center, Thomas Balch Library, Local History and Special Collections (Alexandria Library), Truban Archives (Shenandoah County Library), Center for Local History (Arlington Public Library), Louise Archer Elementary School Archives and Historic Vienna, Inc., Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (REMIX), Virginia Commonwealth University Special Collections and Archives. 

Archives Month Open House, Thursday, October 31, 12-3pm, Fenwick 2400 (SCRC Seminar Room): Join Special Collections Research Center for a fun-filled event to celebrate the end of Archives Month. We will display some of our coolest materials related to “Book Arts,” this year’s Archives Month theme. We will be dressing in costume – so feel free to dress up too! Light food and refreshments will be served (away from the materials, of course!).

Exhibit Discussion & Reception: Before and Beyond 1968

Join us on Thursday, January 31 from 3:30 –  5 p.m. for an exhibit discussion and reception for  “Before and Beyond 1968: Three Civil Rights Movements in America” in 2400 Fenwick Library. Activities include an exhibit tour; talks by exhibit curators, and comments by Dr. Spencer Crew, Robinson Professor.

This exhibition, through sometimes plain (and often painful) documents, attempts to illuminate aspects of three civil rights movements: African American, Women, and LGBTQ+. The items in the cases are from the holdings of the George Mason University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center. The displayed pieces were created between the 19th through 21st century, and originate primarily in the United States.

Every movement has multiples arguments and ways to inform about a shared code of beliefs or values. Photographs educate and, sometimes, inspire one to action. Reports present researched facts. Letters reveal personal opinions. Plays and books interpret past and present realities, or anticipate future ones. The actions of people – of our fellow citizens – reflects the times in which they lived, their individual challenges, the choices made, their perspectives and vision for the future. Although incomplete, this exhibit is an invitation to more deeply examine the long, slow march of civil rights history in the United States.

“Before and Beyond 1968” is curated by Lynn Eaton (Director, Special Collections Research Center) and Bob Vay (Digital Collections and Exhibition Archivist, Special Collections Research Center). Consultation provided by Spencer Crew (Robinson Professor of African American and Public History). The exhibition will be on display through January 2019.


Special Event on Nov 13: Civil Rights Memories + Moments

Please join us for “Memories + Moments 1968: The Local Civil Rights Movement” on Tuesday, November 13 at 3:30pm in Fenwick Library 2001.

A panel from Mason’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) – Bob Coffin, Bob Frye, Marguerite Johnson, and Jeremy Remson – will focus on the pivotal year 1968 and share their individual, first-hand experiences at civil rights events in Northern Virginia and the DC area.

The panel will be moderated by Zach Schrag, Professor of History, Department of History & Art History at Mason. The event will be recorded and added to our Special Collection Research Center’s (SCRC) Oral History Program collection.

Following the panel discussion, all attendees are invited to remain for a reception and visit to SCRC’s current exhibition – Before and Beyond 1968: Three Civil Rights Movements in America.