Libraries is new home for Appalachian Trail Conservancy archives

FAIRFAX, VA – May 23, 2022: The George Mason University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) is pleased to announce the donation of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) collection — a significant addition to SCRC’s archival collections of national importance.

The largest donation of materials received by SCRC to date, the core of the collection contains a broad array of items, including maps, letters, trail shelter logs, legal documents, publications, internal corporate documents, and images as well as Trail ephemera, such as patches, signs, and more. Dating from prior to the ATC’s beginnings in 1925 through the present, the collection encompasses more than 850 linear feet of unprocessed materials related to the famous Appalachian Trail (A.T.) spanning the East Coast from Maine to Georgia. The materials correspondingly document the growth of the ATC from a small confederation to a volunteer-centered but fully staffed nonprofit with a unique mission and international support.

Dean of Libraries and University Librarian John Zenelis comments, “The Libraries is pleased to enter this partnership with the ATC and become the home of this remarkable collection – a significant cultural heritage collection, with great promise for research and scholarship. We are committed to ensuring that best curatorial and archival practices are applied in managing both the physical materials (and eventually digital aspects) of the collection.”

About the collection, ATC President and CEO Sandra Marra shares, “The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is proud to partner with George Mason University to ensure these important artifacts of Appalachian Trail history are preserved. Each of these items helps tell the story of the vision that set the construction of the Trail in motion, the thousands of volunteers and advocates who helped make the Trail a reality, and the continued efforts to help ensure the Trail continues to benefit us all for generations to come.”

The history of the A.T. is not only one of outdoor exploration but also of many important facets of twentieth century U.S. history. A close examination of this history quickly leads one to considerations of the conservation movement, economic developments, indigenous peoples, race relations, gender ideology, technological advances, and more.

Lynn Eaton, director of SCRC, remarks, “This is an amazing collection, reflecting a strong area of research for scholars to explore for years to come. Once we have processed, arranged, and described the materials, we look forward to welcoming students and researchers to examine them. One of SCRC’s main tenets is supporting the research and teaching mission of the university, and this collection will be no exception.” While in the ATC’s care, more than two dozen books and dissertations were derived from these archives.

As the centennial of the ATC approaches, the Libraries is investigating opportunities to support the organization and preservation of these unique and historically important items. We look forward to recognizing this vital national heritage in the future with a fully processed and accessible collection.

Full press release

New exhibition on the Cold War in American Culture

Looking Over Our Shoulder: The Cold War in American Culture is now on view in the Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) exhibition space. A corresponding digital exhibit is also available online.

High School students practice “duck and cover” technique. Oliver F. Atkins photograph collection, C0036, Box 54, Folder 118, Special Collections Research Center.

In Looking Over Our Shoulder, members of the SCRC team have selected examples from the Libraries’ special collections that illustrate aspects of American life during the Cold War from a variety of angles, through manuscripts, photographs, publications, material culture, and other items. From concerns about the spread of Communism, the threat of atomic warfare, and the Space Race to architecture, fashion, art, film, theatre, novels, and even home décor, the exhibit demonstrates the pervasiveness of the Cold War era on every aspect of American life.

With each exhibit curated by SCRC, Bob Vay (technology and exhibitions archivist) tries to link the history to the lived experience here at Mason. For Looking Over Our Shoulder, he curated a case focused on “The Cold War as A Source of Dissent at George Mason College/University” and highlighted some of the protests in the 1960s. In addition to his work in creating the corresponding digital exhibit, Vay will be sharing a series of blog posts about the current exhibition on the Special Collections Research Center blog. His introduction to the exhibit is available here, and his exploration of “The Ever Present Fear of Atomic Attack & Atomic Energy” is available here.

On Tuesday, November 16, 2021, SCRC will be partnering with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at George Mason University (Mason OLLI) to host “The Iron Curtain,” a virtual event where Professor Samuel Clowes Huneke will moderate a panel of select OLLI members regarding the history of the Iron Curtain and their individual experiences. This event is made possible by an OLLI Mason Special Project Grant awarded to the Libraries. The discussion will be recorded and added to SCRC’s Oral History Program collection.

SCRC collections are available for use by students, faculty, researchers, and others for research or instructional use. In addition to the items featured in the current exhibit, SCRC holds other related collections to the Cold War as well as many other subject areas. For more information SCRC and their collecting areas, visit their collections site.

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.

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.