Special Collections and Archives blog

August 30, 2016
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Saying Goodbye to the “Fred Harvey: Branding the Southwest” Exhibit

Saying Goodbye to the “Fred Harvey: Branding the Southwest” Exhibit

This time last year, we were sweating the details on completing and putting into place what would turn out to be one of the most influential exhibits ever. “Fred Harvey: Branding the Southwest”  was built out of Cline Library, Special Collections and Archives most used collection and so it was well due the honor of being the focus of an exhibit. Our Elizabeth and P.T. Reilly intern, Ofelia Zepeda (University of Arizona, SIRLS, Knowledge River cohort member) did a magnificent job of teasing out the often complex storylines of the Fred Harvey Company’s history into very digestible parts for display in our modest exhibit space and then expanding that content for the web version of the exhibit.

Along the way across the past year we place satellite versions of the exhibit in the Flagstaff Public Library, the Flagstaff Visitors’ Center, The 1899 restaurant on campus, and in our own Scholars’ Corner Coffee shop. We did three First Friday Art Walks to celebrate the closing of the previous exhibit done around the images of Flagstaff photographer John Running, and to hint towards the Fred Harvey exhibit; the opening of the Fred Harvey Exhibit and then the celebration of the release of the Fred Harvey inspired Seven Stages beer from Mother Road Brewery. We held two exhibit openings, one for donors and one public event that also featured a great panel discussion comprised of Allen Naille, Allan Affeldt, Stephan Fried (author of Appetite for America), and Dr. Wanda Costen of NAU’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. We hosted a showing of Katrina Parks’ 2013 film Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound. We hosted a variety of groups who came to tour the exhibits, plus hosted a number of NAU classes who used the exhibit as part of their class activities. We even discovered that there were what we might term Fred Harvey groupies called “Fred Heads”!

Yes, this exhibit was a lot of work for lots of people, but well worth it in the end, and it was lots of fun.

The best part of the whole process however are the great partners we worked with across this past year. They include: The Flagstaff Arts Council, Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau/Flagstaff Visitors Center, Flagstaff Public Library, Grand Canyon National Parks Lodges, the Harvey Girls of Winslow, La Posada Hotel, Old Trails Museum, Mother Road Brewery, the NAU School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, and the 1899 Bar and Grill. We also received support (of many types) and encouragement from a whole host of people way too numerous to mention here (but you can see them here).


The exhibit will come down, quietly,  Tuesday, September 6th (early before we open…) to make way for some touch-ups before the next exhibit is put in place. Watch this space!


July 6, 2016
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Introducing SCA’s new Collections Manager!

Introducing SCA’s new Collections Manager!

Special Collections and Archives (SCA) is thrilled to have Kelly Phillips join the department in the role of Collections Manager. This is a brand new position for SCA and one that has been needed for many years. This vital position was created after a rigorous departmental analysis revealed a need to better document incoming and outgoing materials (gifts, loans etc.) Furthermore, the analysis revealed that the department needed to centralize the monitoring and management of the collections storage environment as a broader component of preservation at the library. Finally, this role frees up duties presently undertaken by others in SCA responsible for other functions.

Kelly Phillips working with ArchivesSpace

Kelly Phillips working with ArchivesSpace


What specific tasks are associated with collections management you ask? On any given day, Kelly could …

  • Work with donors and university transferees (staff/faculty) with documenting new acquisitions
  • Form a vital part of SCA’s acquisitions committee
  • Populate a secure database (ArchivesSpace) with comprehensive donor information and associated gifts, both past and present
  • Address rights management (copyright, ownership) concerns prior to the physical transfer of materials
  • Collaborate with other SCA staff with reappraisal of existing holdings
  • Monitor the physical and virtual storage locations of SCA materials to mitigate loss
    • Record temperature/relative humidity and potential threats from insects and implement improvements
  • In an effort to improve digital preservation, collaborate with SCA’s Digital Access Librarian to tackle recommendations from the department’s recent Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification (TRAC) process
  • Help SCA develop policies and procedures around preservation, collections management, and access policies (to name a few)
  • Respond to reference queries from the NAU and broader research community

Kelly can be reached by contacting us at Special Collections and Archives.

Welcome Kelly!

April 18, 2016
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Announcing the 2016 Elizabeth M and PT Reilly Intern – Alexandra Morris

Announcing the 2016 Elizabeth M and PT Reilly Intern – Alexandra Morris

The Cline Library and Special Collections and Archives would like to introduce the 2016 Elizabeth M. and PT Reilly Summer Intern, Ms. Alexandra Morris. Alix is 2015 University of Akron graduate (go Zips!) and a current NAU public history student . She brings a wealth of experience and insight to the Special Collections and Archives, both from her experience and education. By way of introduction, she volunteered to answer a few question we posed her that we thought might introduce her to the Cline Library and beyond…
Alix 2
Tell us a little bit about your background?
I was born and raised in a tiny rural township outside of Cleveland, Ohio. I discovered a passion for history through visits to museums, and decided to make history my major in college. In 2015, I graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts, and was accepted into the graduate history program at Northern Arizona University. My focus is the American West with a secondary emphasis in public history.
Why did you apply for this internship and what do you hope to gain from it?
I applied for this internship because I was excited by the prospect to create an exhibit that celebrates the 50th anniversary of NAU becoming a university. I wanted to be involved with bringing this story to life in a way that would interest and inspire viewers. I hope to gain skills in all aspects of exhibit development, but especially in interpreting history for different audiences.
What skills and experience do you bring to this internship that will help you be successful?
Organization and time management are two very important skills that I bring to this internship. I have technical skills including HTML coding and photo editing, as well as a creative eye. I have a number of experiences that will help me in this internship, including working on the Louie’s Legacy Mountain Campus QR Code project, which is a virtual exhibit exploring the history of Northern Arizona University buildings. I have also worked on a variety of exhibits, including scanning and then selecting and transcribing Civil War quartermaster documents to be featured on Summit Memory, a website celebrating Summit County, Ohio history. I researched a collection of almost 300 antique dolls for a historical society, and then photographed them and created a book detailing their history and historical significance. I have also created several mini exhibits for classes. I am looking forward to developing the skills in exhibit creation that I have started to build.
Alix 1
How do you see this internship supporting your student success and future career goals?
This internship is a fantastic opportunity for me to build skills in my field, to create professional relationships, and to work on a project that is directly related to the kind of work I hope to do in the future. My career goal is to interpret history for a public audience through creation of exhibits or public education, and this internship gives me a valuable opportunity to learn and develop the skills necessary to be successful in my chosen field.
What aspect of Northern Arizona University history most interests you?
While there are many different aspects of Northern Arizona University history I find interesting, I think the most fascinating is how students and alumni have created, developed, and interpreted their experiences at NAU. From starting and maintaining traditions over the years, writing letters to newspapers, protesting, and creating a sense of community through clubs, organizations and athletics, among many other outlets, students have helped shape the University and the meaning of their place within it. I think this is the most interesting aspect because this sense of meaning helps create what NAU is, and what it means to people to belong here.
You’re relatively new to NAU and Flagstaff, so what aspect of Flagstaff will you be looking forward to this summer?
I am very much looking forward to hiking and mountain biking. It is exciting to be in a place where I can walk out my door and be on a trail within minutes.
Dog or cat?
Cat. Although I like the idea of dogs, they are a little too high-maintenance for grad life.
Alix 3
We’re so excited to have Alix with us this summer as the Reilly internship.  She’ll be developing the story for our exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the institution as a university, which we all know occurred on May 1, 1966.
Please join me in welcoming Alix to Special Collections and Archives and the Cline Library. She’s in the department frequently for the Louie’s Legacy project, so if you see her, say hello!
Thanks, Alix!

April 15, 2016
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Archive Ale

Archive Ale


…..Perhaps it happened because we began the planning conversation around our current exhibit “Fred Harvey: Branding the Southwest” at Mother Road Brewery. Maybe it was because Michael Marquess of Mother Road Brewery likes using the old historic images from our Digital Archives for some of his beer labels. Or, it could have been because of the W. Dean Fausett paintings in our Fred Harvey Collection- the Seven Stages of Drunkenness. Who knows?

W. Dean Fausett, “Verbose” MS 280 Ser. 6 Box 1

The results however will be revealed formally on May 6th at Mother Road Brewery when Michael reveals the “Seven Stages” beer, in a special 7-pack box during the May First Friday Art Walk from 6-9. Each 7 pack will include 16 oz. cans with all seven individual images of W. Dean Fausett’s Seven Stages of Drunkeness.

W. Dean Fausett “Jacose” MS 280 Ser. 6 Box 1

The story of the exhibit, and the beer is long and tangled, but it goes something like this:

We had gone to Mother Road on that fateful day back in the Fall of 2014 to talk with a former archives compatriot about how we might be able to weave our various Grand Canyon and river-runner collections to tell a story based on the linear geography of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River into an exhibit for 2015-16. Maybe it was because only one member of our party had beer, but the idea didn’t gel and that particular exhibit concept simply failed to come into being.

W. Dean Fausett “Amicose” MS 280 Ser. 6 Box 1

Later, in looking at use statistics, we discovered our most requested manuscript collection was our MS 280- the Fred Harvey Collection. The collection had more than 300 pulls over the last 8 years, and some was for a notable author who wrote a NYT bestseller on the Harvey Company. The exhibit was born!

Fausett, W. Dean “Vamose” MS 280 Ser. 6 Box 1

This lead us into a period of rediscovery- experiencing almost like for the first time all the great stuff in the collection: menus (with great imagery) from Harvey establishments from Ohio to Hawaii; scripts from the 1947 Harvey Girls movie; recipes; promotional material; visitor registers from the El Tovar (which included inscriptions from Zane and Dolly Gray), and those great Fausett paintings which had been commissioned by Mary Colter (in her role as architect/interior designer for the Fred  Harvey Company) for the bar in the El Tovar at Grand Canyon. We began sharing these discoveries with users, donors, and people interested in how the exhibit might look. Mr. Marquess had come by for a tour and we popped open the box with the paintings and the beer idea was hatched.

W. Dean Fausett “Bellicose” MS 280 Ser. 6 Box 1

Mr. Marquess chose the beer that he was going to brew (in a 900 gallon batch), and the labelling and packaging ideas began to flow. Along the way, another Fred Harvey exhibit partner: Grand Canyon Lodges got involved giving the beer not only a sense of history- but also a place to be sold. The beer is now ultimately meant to be made available via the restaurants, bars and gift shops at the Canyon. The different parties (now including NAU, Grand Canyon Lodges and the Mother Road Brewery) managed through the execution of their own unique needs and wants, to extend the beers’ schedule, but it will arrive just in time for Summer! Along the way, a lot of great detail was brought to the final product: the beer itself, the name of the beer, the wonderful label design and the great box design. Even better, part of the proceeds from the sale of the beer will flow back to the archives to support our collections and operations.

W. Dean Smith “Lachrymose” MS 280 Ser. 6 Box 1

So, look for a return of Fred Harvey-iana to Mother Road Brewery on May 6, check out Archive Ale, and if you haven’t yet visited to exhibit, plan to stop in. The exhibit will be up through August. Meanwhile-follow this blog for developing news of our next exhibit!

W. Dean Smith “Comatose” MS 280 Ser. 6 Box 1


March 21, 2016
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Special Collections and Archives Student Assistant Profile – Danielle Dlugajczyk

Special Collections and Archives Student Assistant Profile – Danielle Dlugajczyk


Hi, my name is Danielle Dlugajczyk. I am a senior at Northern Arizona University and I am majoring in English with an emphasis in Literature.

How Long Have You Been Working at Special Collections and Archives?

I have been working in the Special Collections and Archives Department of Cline Library for three full years.

What Does Your Job as a Student Assistant Entail?

As a student worker in SCA I have three important jobs: paging books and other material for patrons, re-shelving all material that was requested during the work day, and digitizing material for online access.

What Collections Have You Worked On?

The one collection that may be considered my career project at SCA is President Clara Lovett’s Presidential Papers. I have spent most of my time working on labeling, foldering, and boxing her collection, as well as updating the EAD guide that can be found on Arizona Archives Online. The best “find” in her collection were the speeches of her predecessor, President Eugene Hughes. He spoke on several occasions about MLK day, which before 1993 was not recognized by Arizona as a Holiday. Besides Lovett’s Presidential Papers, I have worked with the Commencement Programs for NAU, the Athletics Collection, and the Student Organizations collection. In a way, I have more experience with the university archives collections than Colorado Plateau collections.

What’s the Most Interesting Collection or Item You’ve Come across Since You Worked in SCA and Why Did It Pique Your Curiosity?

One of my favorite projects dealt with the Robert Fronske Photograph Collection. I was tasked with finding photographs pertaining to NAU that could potentially be used in a Repeat Photography history class. The collection is one of the bigger photograph collections in the NAU Archives—I think I spent a good three or four months sifting through the photographs, finding several pictures that told their own stories about the history of NAU.

Working at Cline Library has also given me opportunities to work with Arizona Historical Society— through interning at Riordan Mansion and being an archivist intern, processing the Melick Collection. All of these experiences have taught me just how important preservation of history is. When I came to work at Cline, I did not expect to love the work done in the Archives; however, I have come to appreciate what archivist do for the public. Although I do not plan on becoming an archivist myself, I plan to become a public librarian.

What Are Your Plans following Graduation?

After I graduate this year, I will go on a mission for 18 months through my church. I am hoping to gain some much needed cultural experience outside of the United States.

How Has Your Work in the Library and Special Collections and Archives Prepared You for Your Post-baccalaureate Plans?

When I come back, I will apply to several graduate programs that deal with Library and Information Sciences. I hope to one day be working at a public library as a children’s area manager. I look forward to my future career goals and I thank the SCA staff for working with me to develop skills that will hopefully increase my ability to reach those goals.

Danielle, from all of us at Special Collections and Archives, we would like to thank you for the amazing work you do and wish you the best with your future endeavors. We would also like to thank you for the delicious treats you bring to work!

January 6, 2016
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Elizabeth M and PT Reilly Internship Announcement

Elizabeth M and PT Reilly Internship Announcement

Changing the Entrance Sign to Campus from Arizona State College to Northern Arizona University, May 1, 1966. NAU.ARC.1966-1-1

Changing the Entrance Sign to Campus from Arizona State College to Northern Arizona University, May 1, 1966. NAU.ARC.1966-1-1

Northern Arizona University

Cline Library

Archival Internship Announcement

Summer 2016 Reilly Internship

The Cline Library at Northern Arizona University invites applications for The Elizabeth M. and P.T. Reilly Internship.

The 2016 Reilly intern works closely with Cline Library’s Special Collections and Archives staff to develop physical and virtual exhibits celebrating the institution’s 50th anniversary as a university. The library is seeking a highly motivated and organized student to serve as the curator of the exhibit. The intern will draw on the vast and rich resources housed in the University Archives, which are part of Special Collections and Archives.

Northern Arizona University was founded as Northern Arizona Normal School in 1899 in the then small northern Arizona town of Flagstaff. It opened its doors with two faculty (one of whom was the president) and 13 students. The institution grew over the next 67 years and became a university on May 1, 1966. The last fifty years have seen unprecedented development as an institution of higher learning and physical campus growth. Currently the university student population is nearly 26,000 residential and online students.

The University Archives contain over 2 million items, including photographs, oral histories, moving images, reports, correspondence, yearbooks and academic catalogs, student newspapers, and other publications. The records document the following areas: presidential tenures, administrative records, athletics, staff and faculty, and student organizations and activities. Some resources can be accessed through the Arizona Archives Online, as well as the digital NAU Archives collection.

Duties and Opportunities: The 2016 Reilly intern assumes primary responsibility for the virtual (web-based) exhibit.  The intern provides significant support for development of the physical exhibit, from its interpretive text to design and fabrication.

The internship offers the opportunity to gain practical experience in:

  • Research
    • Synthesis of primary and published sources
  • Exhibit Planning (team-based project management)
    • Storyline development and content interpretation
    • Web page design, creation, and digital storytelling
  • Public speaking (presentation to library staff upon completion of the internship)

The Reilly intern is scheduled 40 hours per week for ten consecutive weeks. The successful candidate will select a preferred ten-week block between June 6 – August 19, 2016.  The workweek schedule offers some flexibility.

Stipend and Housing:  $4,500 (no benefits included) total.  The Reilly intern is paid in bi-weekly installments to reach the total of $4,500.  On-campus housing is subject to availability.   For more information, please consult http://nau.edu/Residence-Life/Housing-Options/Summer-Housing/. Renting a room in the community is also a possibility. The successful candidate must be willing to relocate to Flagstaff for ten weeks and underwrite his or her own food, lodging, transportation to work, and parking.

Qualifications:  The preferred candidate will be a graduate student in information science or museum studies working toward a career in a library, museum, or archives setting. Graduate students should be currently part of a program with an anticipated completion date of August 2016 or later.  Undergraduate (junior or senior) applied indigenous studies, geography, history, and anthropology students are also encouraged to apply.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities Required:

  • Strong ability to write creatively while employing advanced research skills
  • Strong communication skills (oral and written)
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Familiarity with archival practice
  • Basic experience with Microsoft Office products
  • Basic understanding of Web design
  • Familiarity with video and audio software tools, HTML editing, web-responsive tools such as Bootstrap, and the Adobe Design Premium software suite

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities Preferred:

  • Knowledge of Colorado Plateau and Southwest history
  • Demonstrated success working with visual materials and creating exhibits using archival material
  • Knowledge of higher education institutions from an administrative and student perspective.

Application Deadline:  February 12, 2016.  To apply, submit the following documents as a single .pdf to:  Peter Runge, NAU Cline Library, Box 6022, Flagstaff, AZ  86011-6022:

  • Letter of application addressing your qualifications
  • Résumé or vita
  • Copy of current transcript
  • A writing sample in the form of a 250-word historical sketch of a personal life event
  • Names and contact information for three references

For more information, contact Peter Runge via email at peter.runge@nau.edu or phone at (928) 523-6502.
The mission of Cline Library’s Special Collections and Archives Department is to collect, preserve, and make available archival materials that document the history and development of the Colorado Plateau.  Interdisciplinary in nature, the collections include 12 million manuscripts, 1 million photographs, 55,000 books, 2,000 maps, and 1,300 oral histories.  Learn more at http://nau.edu/library/archives .

Northern Arizona University has a student population of about 26,000 at its main campus in Flagstaff and at over 30 sites across the state.

Committed to a diverse and civil working and learning environment, NAU has earned a solid reputation as a university with all the features of a large institution but with a personal touch, with a faculty and staff dedicated to each student’s success. All faculty members are expected to promote student learning and help students achieve academic outcomes.

While our emphasis is undergraduate education, we offer a wide range of graduate programs and research. Our institution has carefully integrated on-campus education with distance learning, forming seamless avenues for students to earn degrees.

Flagstaff has a population of about 67,000, rich in cultural diversity. Located at the base of the majestic San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff is 140 miles north of Phoenix at intersection of Interstate 17 and Interstate 40.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply.

January 5, 2016
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Archives and Instruction

Archives and Instruction

Happy New Year to all.


Group of young students, probably part of the Northern Arizona Normal School’s Training School program [1922]

This past year Special Collections and Archives at Northern Arizona University has embarked on a little experiment involving class instruction and the use of primary source materials. To that end we began partnering with willing faculty to introduce their students to our manuscript and University archives collections; their respective finding aids online in Arizona Archives Online (AAO), and material we have digitized and made available via our digital archives.

The instruction sessions took several forms. Some were highly targeted reflecting focused research for papers that well matched our collecting focus (the human and natural history of the Colorado Plateau), others were built around assignments for specific regional topics, while others were more episodic and task-based, somewhat experimental, or better, experiential. We really tried to move away from simply showing students “old stuff from the archives”, to assignments that had students assess what it was they were presented with- whether that was material they had found searching AAO, or representative material selected by the instructors (often with our input) that students evaluated individually or in groups. We also began throwing the doors to our collection storage areas so that smaller students/tour groups could actually see the organization and extensive nature of our collections.

Some numbing statistical information:

In all we did 42 instruction sessions across 2015, 10 in the Spring semester and 32 in the Fall. We dealt with 24 individual faculty (or instruction/event organizers, as some of these were community or non-NAU events), and 862 students (229 Spring, 633 Fall). Of the events, 11 were for non-Northern Arizona University groups (Coconino Community College [4], Prescott College [1], Old Trails Museum [1], Soroptimists [1], Winslow Rotary[1], Flagstaff High School AP History [1], and Howard University [1]).

Academic areas and departments represented include: History [8], Environmental Studies [1], Native American Studies [1], Honors [5], English [4], Humanities [2], Communications [6] and Education [2]. The courses ran the gamut from high school level through graduate 700 level.

These sessions lasted on average an hour (the range was from 40 minutes up to 3 hours), and required at least one hour for planning, meaning the time investment on the part of Special Collections was on the order of 84-108 hours over the course of the year.

So what did we learn from all this?

First, that those courses and areas of studies that we might assume would be our primary partners (like History) are certainly important, but they are not by any means exclusive. We partnered with a wide academic array of faculty to create useful and interesting assignments around primary source material.

Second, there is a high degree of interest in primary source materials outside of the university that needs to be and should be served. Some of these groups are logical academic partnerships while others reflected interest in our current public exhibit (Fred Harvey: Branding the Southwest) or other local interests, and these sessions are frankly useful at several levels (archives promotion, and cultivating potential donors and collections as an example) aside from fulfilling some level academic or research interest.

Third, while it would be inappropriate to link archival instruction sessions to increased use as being causational at this point, our use statistics were up by 2% for the 2015 year over 2014. Is that significant given the numbers above? I don’t know that there is an easy answer to that.

Fourth- and most importantly, our instruction sessions did have significant impacts on student academic success. While almost entirely anecdotal, what we heard from faculty and students is all about what they learned about research, and about their research topics. One class was so enthused, they asked that their capstone presentations be made in Special Collections- and that turned into a remarkable afternoon. Certainly much of what students told us fell into that “I didn’t know this material existed” category, but others also reported being launched into new research and interest areas which may impact their academic careers at NAU because of their encounters with primary sources. Similarly, faculty are finding ways to support their classes using primary source materials in ways we normally (as archivists) would not think of that deals more with exposure to unique materials than finding specific application of their information. These new partnerships and SCA’s supporting role in class instruction are enhancing both the student experience, but also our own reference and retrieval skills.

Lastly, this has been fun. Lots of fun. Special Collections has been front and center for a number of classes, and that really has impacted our desk traffic and interactions with students. We answered their enthusiastic questions; we placed unique material into peoples’ hands and we got to talk about archival, research and preservation issues and theory. This has been as good for us as for the students and their faculty.

It may not seem like much, but what we have done is moved deliberately from being a passive service unit towards being an active one. We can’t say where this leads or whether it is sustainable (I got four instruction requests for the Spring 2016 semester while composing this), but it has invigorated Special Collections and our users. Active IS better.

December 24, 2015
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

Belknap family Christmas Card, December 1950. NAU.PH.

Belknap family Christmas Card, December 1950. Photo courtesy of the Bill Belknap Collection, NAU.PH.

Happy Holidays from all of us at the Cline Library and Special Collections and Archives!

Thank you to all the faculty, staff, and students who made 2015 such a wonderful and memorable year for us. See you in the New Year.

 Christmas card from the Kolbs with the scene of a storm over Grand Canyon.  Photo courtesy of the Kolb Collection, NAU.PH.568.10114.

Holiday greeting card from Emery and Blanche Kolb with the scene of a storm over Grand Canyon. Photo courtesy of the Kolb Collection, NAU.PH.568.10114.


December 9, 2015
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on History 498C and Stories from the Colorado Plateau

History 498C and Stories from the Colorado Plateau

HIS498c flyer

Special Collections and Archives is dedicated to supporting faculty and students in many ways. We support student success, critical thinking, and advanced research skills by working with faculty to integrate primary source content and research into their course curriculum. This past semester (fall 2015) Special Collections and Archives partnered with 13 faculty teaching 16 different courses from three colleges (CAL, SBS, CFENS). In total, we worked with over 600 students this semester! Perhaps our most closely with was History 498C, the History department capstone course.

Special Collections and Archives was honored to partner with Linda Sargent Wood’s History 498c this semester. Dr. Sargent Wood brought her students to the department at the beginning of the semester to meet with archivist Sean Evans. Mr. Evans provided her students with an overview of the department, our collecting focus (human and natural history of the Colorado Plateau), and primary source research strategies and tools. The History 498c students worked with Dr. Sargent Wood and Mr. Evans to identify subjects within the department’s holdings to examine for their capstone projects. Over the course of the semester, the students spent time in the department reviewing finding aids, examining content from collections, and coalescing their analysis into their final projects and papers.

As a culminating event, Special Collections and Archives hosted History 498C’s final research projects and presentations in the department on Thursday afternoon. The students shared their research and discoveries through posters, displays, or websites that showcased their thesis statement, argument, methodology, and findings. Several of the students made presentations to an audience composed of parents, friends, faculty members, the staff of SCA, and library administration. Each student did an impressive job with their research, writing, posters, and presentations. The topics covered were diverse and touched on several cornerstone collections from our holdings. For example, Navajo trading posts, cultural appropriation on Route 66, mining on the Navajo Nation, missionaries on the Navajo Nation, veterans, Mormon women’s rights in the 19th century, the mysterious disappearance of Glen and Bessie Hyde, campus unrest at ASC/NAU, the Harvey Girls, the growth of NAU’s campus, dams in the region, the lumber industry in Flagstaff, and the history of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

photo 8 photo 1 photo 3 photo 4

We want to acknowledge and thank the students for their effort, passion for history, and the enthusiasm they brought throughout the semester and during the final presentations. We also want to thank Dr. Linda Sargent Wood for partnering with us and letting us be part of the final presentations.

If other faculty and instructors are interested in learning more about our holdings and how we might be able to support your courses, please contact us at special.collections@nau.edu or 523-5551. We have an instruction page on our website that provides additional information for faculty interested in partnering with Special Collections and Archives to support their courses.

November 23, 2015
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Thanksgiving in the Archives

Thanksgiving in the Archives

For many, this week is shorter on work and lengthier on planning for/experiencing Thanksgiving. Whether it be through the gathering of friends and family, a game of football, shopping (in store/online), or binge-watching a newly-discovered television program, this is meant to be a time to unwind and gear up for December.

In recognition of Thanksgiving, Special Collections and Archives (SCA) would like to answer the fictional (but perhaps soon to be realized) research question: “What do you have here about Thanksgiving and such?”

To answer this question, we have to first pose a followup question about a time frame that is of interest to our patron. While information related to pre-colonial (thus ‘written’) cultures in the Southwest is sparse, it is nonetheless important to acknowledge that indigenous people have lived here for thousands of years and were not documenting themselves using media (paper, photography, film) that colonial society introduced and with which we have now become accustomed. Colonial history in the Southwest is comparatively recent on a global scale, beginning with Spanish exploration in the 1530s; Mexican independence from Spain in the 1810s; American acquisition of the territory of Arizona in 1848; and finally Arizona statehood in 1912. Considering Thanksgiving in the United States hails back to the Pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock in 1620, most documentation related to celebrating the holiday between 1621 and 1848 will reside elsewhere and mostly with repositories on the east coast that document the history of the American colonies. It is also worth noting that photography as a medium had just been born in 1839 with the advent of daguerreotype technology, which would open up many new and exciting ways of conveying information.

Briefly, SCA has primary source material that describes the celebration of Thanksgiving from the mid-to-late-19th century to present, with the vast majority covering life in the mid-20th century to present. Start your search for digitized content at our main page here.


Letters to Samuel E. Day, Sr., from Dan Mitchell [constructed title], 1908. MS.89: Day Family Collection.

Thanksgiving Day 1986 Our Lady of Guadalupe, Father Dobrowski. NAU.PH.2013.11.1.50. Our Lady of Guadalupe Church Collection.

Thanksgiving Day, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Father Dobrowski, 1986. NAU.PH.2013.11.1.50. Our Lady of Guadalupe Church Collection.

Our fictional patron may ask about written or oral primary source accounts of Thanksgiving in the Southwest and for that several interesting results can be found. Numerous audio and video files document oral histories in which narrators discuss Thanksgiving, either personally or factually. Many of these speakers were featured as part of the Flagstaff Public Library Oral History Project (1975-77) or were recorded as part of SCA’s 1998-2000 United Indian Traders Association Collection. Willie Coin (in 1975) describes his perspective on the holiday as a Hopi person and wonders why its significance has faded away so much. In 1976, Kathryn Rucker reminisced about the amount of family time involved with Thanksgiving as compared to Christmas. In 1980, Myrna Hillyard recalls being asked to speak about the Apache and their first Thanksgiving. In 1999, Mary Bailey described how she would cook Thanksgiving dinner for the Navajo and that they would refer to it as “Little Christmas.” In 2000, Colina Yazzie remembers her mother’s recollection of giving birth to her on Thanksgiving day. In 2008, Nat White discussed a-then yearly “Turkey Trot” that took place at Buffalo Park in Flagstaff.

While digitized content is a great beginning to our patron’s search on such a broad topic, it would also be very helpful to do a search at Arizona Archives Online for any material that may not have been digitized. A simple search for the word “Thanksgiving” among SCA’s collections reveal 13 unique collections in our repository that cover myriad related subjects. Our patron, upon review of these finding guides, may request that a series of boxes and folders be pulled in order to review their contents for relevance.

Of course, a robust search strategy would not be complete without a review of any publications (published books etc.) on the topic of Thanksgiving that are found through the library’s main catalog.

We hope that these search strategies can be applied successfully across a range of topics of interest to our patrons. We enjoy the challenge of–and being engaged with–finding new and exciting historic information that is being interpreted and disseminated in multiple ways in archival repositories across the world.

Happy Thanksgiving from SCA!