By Christie Lutz, New Jersey Regional Studies Librarian and Head of Public Services
Happy New Year from Special Collections and University Archives. In early 2021, we are reflecting on the fact that that 2020 was a difficult and challenging year for so many. Like most of our colleagues in archives and special collections around the country, and indeed around the world, Special Collections and University Archives (SC/UA) faculty and staff have had to redirect our efforts to increase remote services. In summer and fall 2020, we scrambled to enhance access to digital materials, offer Zoom research consultations, and provide remote classroom instruction. We probably made more PDF copies of materials for researchers than any year to date!
While we look forward to the day we can reopen our reading room to researchers near and far, we continue to provide research support, instruction, and information for enjoyment and edification as our faculty and staff work (primarily) remotely. To that end, we’d like to share a few highlights of the work we have been doing to support Rutgers faculty, students, and staff; researchers around the state of New Jersey; and students and scholars from all corners of the world.
We are excited to share a new digital resource, “Special Collections and University Archives Primary Source Highlights,” a site that makes accessible a trove of images we have scanned for researchers over the years. The site also features images from an ongoing project to scan the Sinclair New Jersey Postcard Collection. While “Primary Source Highlights” is still in its infancy, we are adding images regularly, so we encourage you to check back periodically.
“Primary Source Highlights” will be included in the SC/UA Digital Resources Guide we created in the fall. This guide continues to serve as a one-stop-shop for centralized, easy access to SC/UA’s digitized resources.
During the fall semester, we started a project to revamp and update the content of our subject guides. These guides serve as a useful gateway to our collection strengths, and are a particularly good resource for students looking for paper topics, or to see what materials SC/UA holds on a particular topic.
The New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project is continuing to digitize historical New Jersey Newspapers for inclusion in the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America website. Recent additions include the Gloucester County Democrat (1878-1912), Morris County Chronicle (1877-1914), Pleasantville Weekly Press (1892-1911) and The Pleasantville Press (1912-1914).
The NJ Digital Newspaper Project blog provides further information about the project and links to all NJ newspapers digitized to date. These newspapers have been digitized as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Reference and Instruction
We will continue to provide instructional support this spring. If you’re looking for resources for your course, or would like a curator or archivist to provide instruction for your class, feel free to send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org and your request will be directed to the appropriate faculty or staff member. For general requests or questions, feel free to contact Christie Lutz, New Jersey Regional Studies Librarian and Head of Public Services at email@example.com.
Looking for a quick way to introduce your students to the mission and work of SC/UA, or add a video to your Canvas course? We’ve compiled our videos, including a brief overview of SC/UA aimed at undergraduate students, and a couple of fun quizzes which in one spot. Check out https://libguides.rutgers.edu/scuavideos
You can always write to our reference account at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and scanning requests. We are continuing to waive our reproduction fees this semester.
Exhibits and Events
2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) granting women the right to vote. Explore our most recent exhibition, On Account of Sex: The Struggle for Women’s Suffrage in Middlesex County or listen to a talk by Ann D. Gordon, “Bringing the Story Home: Agitating for Woman Suffrage in New Jersey.”
Photographer and author Barbara Mensch delivered the 34th annual Louis Faugères Bishop III lecture, “In the Shadow of Genius: The Brooklyn Bridge and Its Creators,” in November, 2020. Mensch was inspired by SC/UA’s Roebling collection to create her recent book by the same name (Fordham University Press, 2018).
What else is happening?
We’re starting to roll out a new look and feel to our finding aids, via ArchivesSpace, a platform that will provide easier searching of our manuscript collections and a uniform look and feel.
Along with the rest of Rutgers University Libraries, we are developing a new website that will be more user-friendly and feature updated content.
You can always check the SC/UA website and social media feeds (links in the column to the right, plus the New Brunswick Music Scene Archive on Facebook) for the latest news, events, and changes in operating status and/or services.