2016 Video History Project -1944 Alumna – Ethel Cavanaugh McMahon

Since Framingham State Normal School opened its doors in 1939 Framingham has been a destination for thousands of students who want to become teachers. One such student, from the class of 1944, revisited the Framingham campus this past week to share her own experiences from her time enrolled here.Cavanaugh Ethel reduced

Ethel Cavanaugh, now Ethel McMahon, is an alum from the days when Framingham State was a Teacher’s College. She was enrolled in the Vocational Household Arts program here, which prepared students for teaching positions in Vocational schools. Though she was a commuter, she was one of the many students who lived, for a small portion of her school days, in the no longer standing Vocational House. This house was once located at the end of State Street, by the train tracks, where Maple parking lot can now be found. Living there for a certain number of weeks and taking on different assigned tasks to keep the house in order was a requirement for these Vocational students.

When Ethel recently came to Framingham to share her memories about school, she brought with her a photo album with a collection of photographs taken during her years at Framingham. Ethel is a graduate of the class of 1944 and attended Framingham State during the years of World War II. This fact is evident from her class yearbook, which features full-page advertisements for War Bonds and a message from the class of 1945 that reads, “We came in with the war, we hope the war goes out with us.” Ethel’s stories about this significant era in history reflected the times. She recalled a memory of a train full of American soldiers, all standing in open boxcars, passing by the vocational house, and waving at the students as they went. She also remembered a time when many of her teachers were drafted into the war and had to leave their positions at the College. These men were honored in the 1944 yearbook, which was also dedicated to Lieutenant Edward Gilday, a beloved music teacher at Framingham State who served in the war. Ethel’s recounting of her time here provides a new picture of how much the world has changed since the 1940s, and it also reveals the great strides this small school has taken through the years.

Alumni interviews such as this one are part of the Video Histories project, a collaborative effort between the Communications Department and the University’s Library Director and Archivist. For this project, various alumni are returning to Framingham in order to share their key memories from when they were enrolled here, whether these are good or bad, regarding studies or social events, or about friends or faculty. On camera, they each share a record of what they remember best from their time here. These digital accounts will be available through the digital repository in the future, as more video interviews are conducted.

ECM Cropped

When Ethel returned to the Special Collections room in the Henry Whittemore Library, she looked through an old, leather-bound photo album which had been taken out of the archives so that a history student could use it in her research. To everyone’s surprise, some of the same images that Ethel had in her own album were in this one as well, each with a handwritten note about who was featured in each of the pictures and what was occurring at the time it was taken.3rd Group Jan-March 1941 resizeda

Now in her nineties, Ethel’s most memorable days as a Framingham State student are far in the past. However, her experiences here remain a lasting part of Framingham State history decades later. With the pictures of Ethel and her classmates in the archives, and now her enlightening interview, students will continue to learn from her experiences for years to come.

Written By,

2016 English Intern

Rebecca Waitt

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Did You Know? 163 Years in Framingham: From Normal Hall to West Hall

 

Part 1: The First Residents

 

Normal Hall

 

When the first State Normal School was relocated to Framingham Massachusetts in 1853, there were limited living accommodations available for students. It was not until 1869 that Normal Hall, the first dormitory here at Framingham, opened its doors to the first class of “boarding students.” These first residents of Framingham faced new opportunities as well as challenges, and their living situations were ones that today’s Framingham State University residents might be appalled by.

As the oldest state supported institution for teacher training in the United States, Framingham State University has a diverse history with thousands of alumni who have walked through our campus. During the initial years at Framingham, when the school had less than a hundred students enrolled, Normal Hall was the only dorm available for resident students.

Henrietta Graves a student of the class of 1884, recalls the rough experience of living in this dorm. “The last of the double beds was banished from Normal Hall in my day,” she states. “Many a night [had] I lain awake trying to keep from sliding over the outer edge of one while my roommate slept peacefully on the continental divide in the middle. The joy of the new single bed with good springs and a level mattress remains with me yet.” Though, to today’s residents, the very idea of sharing a bed with one’s roommate at FSU might seem like a scene from a nightmare, it was the reality for the earliest students. If that is not enough to make anyone appreciate modern times, it should also be noted that the Normal Hall dormitory was not only home for these students, but it was also home to the principal of the school and some of these students’ teachers.

 

Normal Hall dorm

Courtesy of Framingham State University Archives

Another resident student, referred to only as Mrs. Brockway, a graduate of the class of 1871, describes living in Normal Hall, “when water had to be brought in barrels and our baths were limited to one per week in three inches of water, when the guaranteed heating apparatus proved altogether inadequate, so that in cold weather we put on our coats when we dressed in the morning and kept them on until we went to bed at night.” She also remembers times when the lights “went out all over the house and [students] huddled together in the corridors with the few little oil lamps we were able to procure.” Crocker Hall was the next dorm to be constructed; in 1886. It was at first home for students and teachers, but later became the center for Household Arts. This building, after a fire, a hurricane, and a great deal of reconstruction, currently still stands on campus. What were once dorms for students are now office spaces used by FSU faculty.

Normal Hall dormitory, on the other hand, was eventually destroyed on February 13, 1914, in a fire ignited by a defective fireplace chimney in the principal’s quarters. What was left of the building was completely demolished in 1919 so that Horace Mann Hall could be constructed. This second dorm still stands on campus to this day, and remains a home for resident students.

As Framingham State University’s newest dorm, West Hall, nears its fall, 2016 completion date, the differences between this new building and the first dormitory on FSU property become striking. The new dorm has six stories and can comfortably house 315 residents. There is currently enough space for more than 1770 students to live on campus in one of FSU’s many dorms (not yet including West Hall). Comparatively, when Normal

 

Student Dorm

  

Hall only had three floors and housed less than seventy residents at any time. In Fact, the class of 1905 only had 63 students in total, and not all of these were “boarding students.”

 

Though “living on the hill” at FSU has become an entirely different experience for today’s students, times were not all bad back in the early 20th century. Things were simpler; the Framingham campus was mostly farmland and was referred to as “bare hill,” students could get to personally know their classmates and communicate regularly with their teachers, and school was only a two year endeavor. However, the women that attended Framingham State Normal School were still creating history by bravely making unexpected choices for this era. During these days, not as many girls continued their education after high school as do now. This was a time when “Serge bloomers, serge blouses and high collars, and long black stockings” were the style, a time when “the average citizen scoffed at the idea of [it] being necessary to teach teachers.” These first students at Framingham were defying expectations by continuing their studies. From Normal Hall to West Hall, this goal remains a constant. However, luckily for them, FSU residents can now continue to learn in much more comfortable environment than they might have in the past.

Written By,

2016 English Intern

Rebecca Waitt

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Library Spotlight – Barbara Slavin

barbara_slavin

“Barbara had a whole lifetime of experience before becoming a librarian and started to learn the trade at a time when profession was already insisting on digital competency.   She’s a social media maven – Twitter, Flickr and AudioBoom,  to name a few, and especially enjoys guiding students through the maze of  information, electronic and hard copy,  they have to navigate to complete their assignment and research papers.   She walks to work (weather permitting), loves dogs, good coffee and coffee shop debates.

Her only complaint about her job is that not enough students ask her questions!”

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The Creation of the Challenger Collection, Pt. 3

This is the last of a three part series describing the creation of the Challenger collection, a project to digitize and make available primary source materials related to the Space Shuttle Challenger and the disaster that occurred on January 28, 1986.

The collection can be accessed here.

 

The final step in creating the Challenger collection was to upload the material to the repository.  We first needed to create the appropriate structures on the repository to hold the material.  Each type of material required a slightly different structure.  Once the structures were created we began to make the material available to the public.

Our repository is hierarchical.  The Challenger collection is under the larger heading of “Centers” (for the Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Challenger Center for Education and Teaching Excellence.  Other headings include, for example, the Henry Whittemore Library, and the Academic Affairs Office.  The Challenger collections itself is broken down into two categories, called series.  We created one series for the images and one series for everything else, which we titled “Documents”.  The Document series was further broken down into three series: Correspondence, Ephemera, and Reports.

There were two methods to upload the items to the repository: individual or batch.  Individual uploading involved fewer steps but was more time consuming.  We chose this method for the correspondence, of which there were three, and the governmental reports, of which there were two.  The second method, a batch upload, allowed for multiple items to be sent to the repository at once, but required more steps.  The first step was to store the material where it could be downloaded to the repository (in contrast to the individual method, where the material could be uploaded directly, the batch-uploaded material needed to be hosted elsewhere.  We chose Dropbox for this purpose).  The next step was to download a spreadsheet specifically created for the task of a batch-upload, populate it appropriately, and re-upload the spreadsheet to the repository.  If all was done correctly a confirmation email would arrive once the material was successfully sent to the repository.

In order to make sure the material is findable to the public, we had to ensure the correct metadata was associated with each item.  Unfortunately the batch-upload method was not very efficient for doing this.  While the batch-upload spreadsheet contained cells for metadata, with larger sets of files it became difficult to associate the correct metadata with each file.  For this reason we chose to individually add the appropriate metadata to each batch-uploaded item after it had been posted to the repository.  The process of adding metadata was time consuming but indispensable to a functioning repository.

 

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Humans (not robots) digitize newspapers

Here at the library’s Digital Commons team, we are building a digital version of The Gatepost student newspaper collection. (The print version lives in our Archives and Special Collections, as always.)

Doesn’t Google do that?

No. Actually, humans put newspapers on the internet. Sure, we use computers and cameras, and lots of software tools. But overall, the process of digitization is more manual than automatic. It involves a lot of planning and prioritizing as a team.

Human eyeballs, hands, and good judgement are required every step of the way.

Essentially, we are stitching together searchable PDF documents of each issue from hundreds of scanned images, organizing them, adding background information, and finally serving documents up on the internet, such that Google can crawl and index them, and users can find what they want.

We will publish the finished product on our repository website, DigitalCommons@Framingham, so that anyone can search the FSU student newspaper back issues for names and events of the past. We plan to roll out a decade or two of the paper at a time: the Thirties, the Forties, etc. For each volume, we will highlight some notable campus events, personalities, or artwork on the website so that the high points don’t get lost among the dozens of issues.

 

What’s the benefit of digitizing newspapers?

We can never quite anticipate who might find our treasures useful, but we believe that open access to our collections will enrich intellectual and artistic work of the future. It’s vital for us to share the collection to anyone with an internet connection and an interest in the content.  I hope that the digital newspaper archives will be valuable to all sorts of users.

Possible users of the collection:

  • Explorers of the history of journalism, teacher education, and 20th century collegiate life
  • Nostalgia-seekers
  • Current campus group officers who want to read up on the group’s past adventures, successes, and follies
  • Genealogists and descendants of Framingham community members

 

We look forward to sharing our history with you! We will keep you updated with more Gatepost digitization news as it happens.

 

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Remembering Challenger: 30 Years (and 73 Seconds) Later – The Christa McAuliffe Collection at Framingham State University

In 1984, when Ronald Regan announced that the first citizen to go to space would be “one of America’s finest: a teacher,” Christa McAuliffe was teaching social studies at Concord High School. She was one of the 11,500 applicants reviewed by NASA, but after rigorous tests and examinations, she was chosen to be the first teacher to fly into space.

On her application to NASA Christa wrote, “I watched the Space Age begin and I would like to participate.” With a teacher making the journey into space, NASA hoped to revive public interest in the space program, an interest that had never faded from Christa’s own thoughts. Space-bound and ready to teach the first lessons from the skies, Christa was an example for teachers, children, and hopeful dreamers all across the United States.

Christa’s passion continues to be an inspiration to incoming students at FSU, not only those attending the University, many with the hope of becoming teachers in the future, but also the visitors who stop by to experience the possibilities of space travel and the thrills of science at the Christa McAuliffe Center

Here at Framingham State University, the Christa McAuliffe collection in the Archives and Special Collections, donated by Christa’s mother, Grace Corrigan, also remains a great source of motivation for students and researchers.

The majority of the collection features photographs and a large number of personal letters; many of these letters were written to the family of Christa McAuliffe with thoughts of sympathy and concern following the 1986 Space Challenger tragedy. The collection also features information collected from the McAuliffe center regarding the work they have been conducting for the past 21 years.

A few other letters amongst the collection were written by Christa herself; in one such letter, a young Christa writes about a visit to the Boston Museum of Science. The highlight of this trip involved a show at the planetarium; as the lights went off, “suddenly the stars and the moon came out.” With her eyes turned skyward, Christa was ready for adventures in space.

The McAuliffe Center, dedicated to keeping Christa’s memory and goals alive, as well as the collection here at FSU, reveal the immediate and lasting impact of Christa’s passionate dedication to teaching and lifelong learning. As we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Space Challenger disaster this week, and celebrate Christa’s personal goals driven by her own message that “we all have to dream,” we learn by her example that there are greater possibilities made by taking risks and looking forward.

Written by Rebecca Waitt
English Intern 2016

 

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The Creation of the Challenger Collection, Pt. 1

This is the first of a three part series describing the creation of the Challenger collection, a project to digitize and make available primary source materials related to the Space Shuttle Challenger and the disaster that occurred on January 28, 1986.

The collection can be accessed here.

 

The process of creating any collection begins with curation.  In the case of the Challenger collection most of the heavy lifting had been done for us already.  Because Christa McAuliffe is an alumna of Framingham State our archives and special collections departments have a trove of primary source materials relating to many aspects of her life.  Our goal is to create a collection that focuses specifically on the Challenger disaster and the lives of the astronauts involved.  We are in a fortunate position to have the physical materials concerning Christa already processed and cataloged.  Our first step was to select which material we planned to digitize for inclusion in our collection.

We combed through the hundreds of photographs in the library’s collection, selecting 53 images appropriate for our project.  We eliminated photographs for a number of reasons, such as poor quality or the inclusion of a visually similar image.  We also eliminated photographs due to ethical considerations; for example, we did not think it appropriate to include images of the explosion itself, or of the wreckage salvaged during the recovery process.

In addition to photographs we also have a large collection of ephemera related to Christa’s training and the launch.  We’ve chosen to include parking passes, press kits, personal guest lists, as well as three personal letters written by Christa while she was training at the Johnson Space Center.  The selection process for these materials was straightforward as most of the items pertained directly to the launch.  We selected only the letters Christa wrote while training.

The final items we’ve chosen to include in the collection are two congressional reports written about the Challenger.  The first report was published by the Senate Committee on Science and Technology on June 9, 1986 and is commonly referred to as the Rogers Commission Report.  The second report, Investigation of the Challenger Accident was published by the House of Representatives on October 26, 1986, and is a detailed investigation into the cause of the accident.  As both of these reports were published by the U.S. government they are in the public domain.

With the items for the collection selected we turned to the process of digitization.

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