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New Library Blog!

The Henry Whittemore Library Blog is moving to a new home! Check us out at


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Happy Birthday Olivia Davidson Washington

Olivia Davidson Washington small

Our Connection to Tuskegee; Olivia A. Davidson, Co-founder and Educator

Olivia A. Davidson is a celebrated alum from Framingham State’s past. Born on June 11, 1854 she lived her first years of life in Mercer County, Virginia. Her father, Elias Davidson, was a freed slave and her mother, Eliza Webb, was a free black woman. The Davidson family moved to Ironton, Ohio when Olivia was three years old. It was in Ohio that Davidson received her teaching certificate at fifteen before beginning her teaching career a year later.

Hearing of need for teachers in the southern parts of the country Davidson moved south. She taught in Spencer, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee. One of the most notable moments of her character occurred while she was in Mississippi. One of her students came down with a case of smallpox, and Davidson closed her school to personally care for the boy until he was healthy. In Memphis she was one of the original eight teachers who taught at the Clay Street School when it opened on March 13, 1874. The school was designated for children of color and was the first brick school building in Memphis. Due to controversies surrounding the principal Davidson left the school and went on to further her own education. Upon her return to Ohio she learned of an outbreak of yellow fever, and while she asked to return as a nurse for the sick, she was denied due to never having the disease herself. Instead, she went on to the Hampton Institute, now known as Hampton University, located in Virginia.

She entered the Institute in 1878. Davidson’s tuition was paid for by Lucy Hayes, the wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes. Due to her already impressive teaching career she was enrolled as a senior and graduated a year later with honors. She delivered one of ten speeches given by students on that day. During her brief time there, Davidson also garnered the interest of Mary Hemenway, a wealthy philanthropist from Boston with a very familiar name. It was Hemenway who convinced Davidson to continue in higher education by attending the Framingham Normal School.

Before moving to the North, Davidson was told that her skin was light enough she could pretend to be a white woman and enjoy the privileges thereof. Reportedly, she refused to do so because she felt no shame in her race. Instead, she wanted to honor her people and demonstrate what an African American woman could accomplish. With her head held high, and her dignity as a black woman intact, Davidson started in Framingham on September 3, 1879 at the age of 25. Mary Hemenway paid for her expenses. She graduated two years later on June 29, 1881 as one of six honors students in her class of twenty-five graduates. She held highest honors.

Through her six years of teaching before higher education and her own academic accomplishments, Olivia Davidson became a well-respected woman in the academic community. Booker T. Washington delivered a speech during her graduation from the Hampton Institute, and upon her graduation from Framingham he reached out to her about a new project he was working on—the Tuskegee Institute. Washington asked her to join him in the founding of a school for black education, and she agreed but needed a few months to regain her health. By the end of the summer of 1881 they were working together to build the school from the ground up.

Davidson’s contributions have been overshadowed by Washington’s own fame, but he has noted her accomplishments in his autobiography Up From Slavery. He wrote, “No single individual did more toward laying the foundations of the Tuskegee Institute so as to insure the successful work that been done there than Olivia A. Davidson.” She tirelessly worked as a teacher and the first Assistant Principal to bring Tuskegee into fruition. Some of her most notable work came from her fundraising efforts. Aside from local festivals where she encouraged the community to make any sort of donation they could—money, food, or even animals—Davidson also went on several trips a year to the North. She had accumulated many wealthy peers who she counted on to donate to the school; Mary Hemenway was always a happy contributor. Her fundraising successes allowed Tuskegee to secure its permanent location and grow into what it is today.

In 1886, Davidson married Booker T. Washington after his first wife, Frannie (Smith) Washington, passed away two years prior. They were married at her sister’s house in Athens, Ohio on August 11. Davidson gracefully took on the roles of wife and step mother on top of her other duties at Tuskegee. She helped raise Portia Washington as if she were her own daughter, and gave birth to Booker Jr. on May 29, 1887 and Ernest Davidson on February 6, 1889.

Olivia Davidson died that same year her second son was born. Two days after Ernest arrived, their home caught fire due to a faulty flue. The family was not harmed, but Davidson never recovered from the exposure to the morning cold. She was moved to Montgomery and then to Boston for treatment before she died on May 9, 1889 due to tuberculosis of the larynx. Her loss was felt by every person she influenced, from her family in Ohio, to her students at Tuskegee, and her friends in Framingham and Boston.

Today we honor Olivia Davidson and recognize her stunning efforts in education for people of color. She overcame illness, racism, and great financial odds to help cultivate a place to nurture the next generation at great personal cost. As students we should all aspire to have the same work ethic as Olivia Davidson, and strive to make such an impact on the world.

Ryan Toomey – English Intern 2017

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New Resource — Kanopy


The Henry Whittemore Library is happy to announce a new resource: Kanopy!

Billed as “Netflix, for colleges,” Kanopy provides streaming on-demand access to thousands of documentaries, feature and independent films, and training videos. The Whittemore Library offers Kanopy’s Economics and Gobalization, Film Studies, Foreign Language Films, Human Rights, Political Science, Psychology, Race and Class, and Sociology collections. Kanopy’s media player works on many devices and operating systems, and includes permalinks, captions, transcription, and clip/playlist creation tools.

If you have any questions about Kanopy don’t hesitate to contact the Emerging Technologies and Digital Services Librarian, Hedda Monaghan (


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Wifi Upgrades at Framingham State University

Connecting to wireless

A new way to connect to wifi has come to Framingham State University! Follow the instructions above for connecting to the wifi for faculty, staff, students, and guests!

If you are having difficulty connecting to campus wifi please contact the ITS department. 508-215-5906 or

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Shin Freedman Teaches in China


Teaching graduate Information and Library Science students as a Fulbright Scholar at a prestigious Chinese University was an enlightening experience from which I have just returned from a semester long teaching assignment.  After all the excitement of being selected as a Fulbright Scholar to China, I was full of apprehension as to the teaching experience itself. What would be an appropriate approach for teaching in my discipline?  During a semester-long teaching assignment, I learned more about myself through the role of “foreign expert” and about my students who were Chinese Information Science and Archival Management majors: how they learn and how they may become information professionals in an emerging global higher education market.

I covered topics on plagiarism, ethical use of information, citation management, research processes, database search strategies, and access to knowledge in digital information.  In addition to the teaching activities, I engaged in public lectures, seminars, and roundtable discussions on the following subjects: collegiality, mentorship, academic librarianship and professional identity, library leadership and workplace civility. I also enjoyed lecturing in a number of Chinese universities from Beijing to Nanjing to Chongqing and including traveling to Korea, all in one semester.

Being an academic librarian from a medium size comprehensive university in the USA and going to a major research-based Chinese top 10 university was an extraordinary transformation of myself as a teacher.  Developing my professional identity as an educator was something for which I had strived for a long time.  At last, I was going to have the chance to practice my lifelong dream in China in the fall of 2016 along with seven other Fulbright Scholars who arrived in China to teach and conduct research.

During the first class meeting, I reviewed the syllabus and my expectations. However it was not until the third class after I re-emphasized that I expected the students to participate as part of their grade that my students’ responses gradually became more participative. Eventually, they began to openly question and respond to one another in the class.  They were also required to write reflective journals throughout the entire semester which was another unusual practice for them.   Students’ opinions became more expressive and clearer as time passed.  They sought out each’s opinions and advice in and out of the classroom.

As the semester progressed and the students became not only more participative, but delightfully outspoken. I often rewarded them with clear verbal praise, or a high five, or a hug. This open praise was also something quite outside their comfort zone and it took them a while to get used to it. On one occasion, one of my students did such a good job that I gave her a hug after class. After a while, other students earned a hug and waited patiently for their reward. After the final class of the semester, all my students lined up and demanded to be hugged and would not let me leave until they had received their well-deserved reward. I took this as a clear sign that they had gotten the message that I wanted them to take responsibility for their learning and that I was looking forward to the day when I would welcome them to join me as professional colleagues in our newly formed global connection.

–Shin Freedman, Head of Scholarly Resources & Collections for the Henry Whittemore Library


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Library Summer Hours

Summer Hours started at the Library this week:


  • Monday through Thursday 8am-10pm
  • Friday 8am to 5pm

After August 17th, the library will be open 8-5 Monday through Friday, no weekends, until fall classes start on September 6.

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Providing Context for the Challenger Collection

The Framingham State University Digital Commons Repository recently made available a collection of images, ephemera, and documents related to the Challenger STS-51L mission and January 28, 1986 disaster available.
A research guide has been created to highlight and provide context to the collection. In addition to items from the collection the research guide includes additional primary and secondary sources. The guide was created for students, educators, or anyone interested in learning more about the Challenger STS-51L mission and disaster, the Teacher in Space Program, or Christa McAuliffe.
The Challenger STS-51L research guide can be found at:
The Challenger STS-51L Collection in the Framingham State University Digital Commons Repository can be found at:
A three part series of blog posts details the creation of the Challenger STS-51L collection:

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Money $mart Week (April 22 thru 29)

Money $mart Week (Saturday April 22nd – Saturday April 29th, 2017) is a public awareness campaign designed to help consumers to better manage their personal finances.
For more information, check out the library’s online Personal Finance Library Guide:
Subjects covered include:  getting the most for your money, budgeting, banking, college loans, cell phone contracts, credit cards, job hunting, and more!

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FSU Latinos and Baseball Community Collecting Event

If you love baseball, you are going to love this event!
Framingham State University is hosting a community collecting event to scan/photograph personal, baseball-related artifacts. In addition, attendees will shake hands with Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer Luis Tiant, view wonderful Boston Red Sox artifacts and learn their history from the Red Sox curator, and meet with representatives from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
For more information, please view our guide: If you have any questions, contact Millie Gonzalez at

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On The Research Trail

Trail, Mountain, Hiking, Mountain Road, Rural Road

When working on a research project, save yourself a lot of time and aggravation with one simple step.  Keep track of your research trail.  What is a research trail?  Think back to the story of Hansel and Gretel, and those pebbles they dropped on the ground to find the way back home.

Instead of pebbles, make notes, either on your computer or in a notebook, of the sources you have searched.  And also keep track of the search terms you have used.  This trail or log will make sure you do not repeat the same searches, and also, if you meet with a librarian or your professor for a research consultation, you can show exactly what you have completed, and the sources you have already located.  The trail notes can also help build your bibliography and footnotes later, when you are drafting your paper.

So, save yourself time, and be sure to make a trail of your research!



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