Presenting the StoryCorps-Warmamas Community Archive

By Patricia Sowers, Director of Warmamas

storycorps-blog_logoThe Afghanistan-Iraq war is described as our country’s longest war. From 2001 to 2014, over 2.5 million men and women were deployed, most of them to war zones. Multiple deployments were not uncommon. Most of those deployed said goodbye to a mother.

Saying goodbye to a son or daughter leaving for war has never been easy. It matters little if it is a first or last deployment—a mother’s anguish is the same. I, too, had to say goodbye to my own son when he announced that he was being sent to the Middle East in a diplomatic capacity. For six years, I lived in secret fear. Eventually I realized that my own feelings of foreboding were dwarfed by what mothers with children in direct combat were experiencing. Their voices were rarely heard and yet were an essential part of our ongoing national narrative on the gravitas of war. There was a need for a place where these women could share their experiences. Warmamas was created out of this need.

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Patricia Sowers (center), Director of Warmamas, converses with StoryCorps-Warmamas oral history donors at Special Collections.

None of us were prepared for the kinds of stories we heard. They were beautiful, they were painful, they were inspiring. Some were tragic. They all told a story of strength. There was a story about a mother who takes to bed for three days when her son tells her he has joined the Marines; the mother who sends her second son off to war but refuses to let her third one go; the mother who talks about developing patience when there is no letter for months; the school-teacher whose son returns with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and yet shows a determination to get well that she never expected; the mother talking by phone to her son in Afghanistan and suddenly hearing a bomb explode as his camp is attacked; another mother determined to fly to Kabul when she hears her son is injured; the mother who called an admiral at the Pentagon to complain that her son hadn’t written for six months; the mother who doesn’t cry as her daughter leaves for Iraq so as not to upset her. There are many stories about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how one mother has struggled with her son’s suicide by creating a foundation to help other at-risk veterans.

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An oral history interview is conducted at Special Collections for the StoryCorps-Warmamas Community Archive. Photo courtesy of Patricia Sowers.

Many mothers expressed surprise that anyone would be remotely interested in their experiences. They have come to understand, however, that their stories have value and are part of the larger story of war and peace and that perhaps one day a stranger or even a grandchild would want to listen.

Warmamas is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) founded in Coral Gables by Gail Ruiz, local artist and attorney, Philip Busey, UF agronomist and political activist and myself, an English teacher at Miami Dade College and hand-wringing mother. Warmamas began by filming, documenting and publishing mothers’ stories and later partnered with the University of Miami and StoryCorps in 2014 and 2015 as part of the Military Voices Initiative which focused on veterans and their families. The veteran narratives are stored at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC and are also—along with the Warmamas’ mother interviews—part of UM Special Collections’ StoryCorps-Warmamas Community Archive.

We are presently interviewing mothers of veterans of all wars. Most interviews are videotaped in the mother’s home. Audio recordings of veterans of any war can be done at the veteran’s home or at the studio in Richter Library.

For more information, please contact:

Patricia Figueroa Sowers, Director
Warmamas
Email: pfsowers@bellsouth.net
Phone: 305-461-5193

You can also watch her full oral history interview here.



Curate Your Own Identity at the ID Project

 

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This pop-up exhibition is a platform for exploring identity through art and the written word.

The ID Project opened on October 27 at the Lowe Art Museum as a pop-up exhibition and experimental space that encourages visitors to reflect on and explore notions of identity. The exhibition encompasses a display of identity-centric artists’ books and zines for purchase and browsing, with a focus on questions such as: Who am I? Who are you? Who are we?

The ID Project is the result of a unique partnership with the Lowe, co-curated and co-created by Jill Deupi, Beaux Arts Director and Chief Curator of the Lowe; Cristina Favretto, Head of Special Collections at University of Miami Libraries; and Amanda Keeley, Founder of EXILE Books, and occupies the space of the Lowe’s former Store.

During the opening on October 27, guests engaged in a variety of activities to “curate their identities,” including:
• Making and decorating a 3D paper mask with different materials
• Using mirrors to study their reflection and draw their self-portrait
• Creating and sharing a 10-line bio-poem with friends, other guests, or….just for them
• Using a special app to develop their own personal musical beat on an iPad
• Placing color beads in vessels to express reactions to six selected artworks in the Lowe
Writing Class Radio, who was on hand to facilitate writing true stories about personal identity

On view through April 2017, The ID Project will be accompanied by a series of “identity salons” that invite visitors to tackle this fundamental concept from a wide range of angles, including gender, sex, culture, race, age, and socio-economic status. In addition, special programs will address the theme of identity, and complement the Lowe’s dynamic exhibitions currently on view, all of which speak to the notion of identity and Walt Whitman’s truism: “We contain multitudes.” The schedule of salons and programs will be announced.

“Identity shapes our lives, both independent and collective,” says Jill Deupi, Beaux Arts Director and Chief Curator of the Lowe. The ID Project provides an exciting platform for expressing ideas about how we define ourselves and how we see others, and serves as a flexible viewing and making space for education, enrichment, and enjoyment,” she adds.

The ID Project is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the State of Florida.



Join Us for GIS Day

The University of Miami Libraries and Department of Geography will present a series of workshops and discussions on November 16 demonstrating the real-world applications of geographic information systems (GIS). Sessions will take place at the Otto G. Richter Library from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and are free and open to the public. Learn more »





New Directions Conference Explores Cuban Heritage Collection Treasures

By Bárbara Gutiérrez, UM News

Lydia Cabrera was the Margaret Mead of Cuba. The Havana-born, Paris-educated anthropologist and literary figure was an authority on Santería and other Afro-Cuban religions, earning the trust and respect of its practitioners.

Cabrera, who died in Miami in 1991, left a precious treasure trove to the University of Miami Libraries’ Cuban Heritage Collection that served as the centerpiece for the first discussion at the New Directions in Cuban Studies Conference held October 20 and 21 at the Donna E. Shalala Center.

The conference, sponsored by the CHC and the Miami Institute for the Americas (MIA), highlighted the works of top academics, many of whom have used the CHC for research.

In its second rendition, New Directions featured 21 scholars who presented their research papers on topics ranging from “Making Ends Meet: Women’s Small-Scale, Home based Informal Employment in Post-Soviet Cuba” to “The Symbolic Century XIX in Cuban Literature after 1959.”

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to host this event and showcase the work of emerging scholars in Cuban studies,” said Dean of Libraries Charles Eckman in his welcoming remarks. “This event represents our essential mission as a library, that of supporting education and personal development through research, collaboration, and inspiring discussion.”

Felicia Knaul, director of MIA, also welcomed the audience, saying that she found the CHC to be a space that “evokes leadership and thought around key issues.” She added that the University and MIA have a “commitment to identify ways that through academia, learning and policy discussions ways can be found that lead to peace, to knowledge and better access for the many in our world to economic development here and in the future.”

During the first panel, three scholars presented “The Ontology of Lydia Cabrera’s Archive: Sexuality and the Spirit” by delving into how the noted ethnographer explored and developed images of queer, feminist, and non-traditional roles in her writings about Santeria, the African religion brought over to Cuba by African slaves.

Sarah Piña, a doctoral candidate at University of Houston who studied the Lydia Cabrera Papers as a Goizueta fellow at CHC, said that although Cabrera never openly revealed her identity as a feminist or a lesbian, she was drawn to issues of the marginalized of Cuba society, such as blacks and queer elements within the Santeria religion, a religion that gave access to the LGBTQ communities.

There was ample evidence of this in her books, including the seminal El Monte and Yemayá y Ochun, said Piña. Cabrera also kept many notebooks on the role of women Santeras.

Cabrera also seemed to have a great identification with Yemayá, the mother goddess, who was said to protect homosexuals, Piña explained. In Cabrera’s personal papers, documents, diaries, and even recipe cards, she often wrote the name of the deity in the margins. She also often used the name jicotea (turtle), even signing letters to friends with the name Jicotea Lydia. The jicotea is one of very few animals who have an androgynous nature, said Piña.

Martin Tsang, a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Miami Libraries, offered a bold take on the Afro-Cuban orisha, or deity, Inle, considered both a wise medical healer and a protector of the queer.

In the Santeria religion, Inle is associated with the Catholic saint San Rafael, whose feast falls on October 24. Tsang pointed out that Cabrera wrote in El Monte about a group of lesbian santeras who had Inle as their patron deity. On his feast day, they would burn a straw fish (one of his symbols) in his honor and sell “tortillas de San Rafael” on the streets around Havana’s La Loma del Angel neighborhood. Tsang believes that the term tortillera, commonly used by Cubans to describe lesbians, may have stemmed from that practice.

The two-day conference, last held in 2014, was attended by about 300 people and concluded with a special event at HistoryMiami Museum. Dean Eckman noted that financial support for the conference came in large part from the 1-year-old Goizueta Graduate Research Fellows Program.



Goizueta Fellows: In Their Own Words

Throughout the 2016-2017 academic year the Cuban Heritage Collection is welcoming ten emerging scholars into the Goizueta Foundation Graduate Fellowships Program. We are proud to introduce each of our 2016-2017 Goizueta Fellows throughout the course of the program.
Our sixth fellow of the series, Samuel Finesurrey, will discuss his work in a CHC Research Colloquium on Wednesday, November 2, 3 p.m., at CHC’s Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion. All are welcome to attend this presentation.

About Samuel Finesurrey

Goizueta Fellow Samuel Finesurrey

Goizueta Fellow Samuel Finesurrey is pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

New Jersey native Samuel Finesurrey has always loved history. He attended University of Wisconsin as an undergrad and previously worked as a high school teaching Intern in New York City.

What university/program are you from?

I’m a Ph.D. student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

What are you working on?

My dissertation is on Cuba’s Anglo-American Colony during the 1950s.

What do you expect to find at CHC?

The CHC is home to wonderful collections of Anglo-American-run cultural institutions, Anglo-American-managed corporations, and donations from members of the Anglo-American community.

How can we learn more about your research?

I will be talking about my project in a CHC Research Colloquium* on November 2, 3 p.m., at the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion. You can contact me at finesurrey@gmail.com.

*Colloquia are free and open to the public. Contact us at chc@miami.edu for more information.



“Pink Powder” Exhibition Now On View

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Silueta Works in Iowa, Ana Mendieta, 1976, on view at Richter Library. The photograph is part of Mendieta’s series depicting her silhouettes created from the earth over time.

September 20 – November 1, 2016
Otto G. Richter Library, 2nd floor

Featuring works by Tracey Emin, Naomi Fisher, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Ana Mendieta, and Susanne Winterling

Pink Powder, an exhibition of renowned works owned by the de la Cruz Collection is now on view at Richter Library. The exhibition brings together a group of artists whose work addresses the female form and identity.

Imagery varying from the quiet and ponderous, to the raw and rebellious, subvert the traditional role of the female muse within the canons of art history, literature, and popular culture.

From the “earth-body” work of Cuban-American artist, Ana Mendieta, to the drawings of female bodies as plants by Miami artist, Naomi Fisher; and from the confessional work of British artists, Tracey Emin and Sam Taylor-Johnson, to the autobiographical work of Berlin-based artist, Susanne Winterling; the artists in this exhibition address the female body with an unapologetic intensity and encourage a conversation on the healing power of the visual arts.

This exhibition is organized by the de la Cruz Collection in collaboration with the the Libraries and Miami Institute for the Americas with contributions by the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Lowe Art Museum in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Frost School of Music on the occasion of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 2016.

 



Pink Powder: Commemorating Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Pink Powder, an exhibit of renowned works from the de la Cruz Collection, is now on display at the Richter Library.

On the eve of Breast Cancer Awareness Month coming up in October, Dr. Felicia Marie Knaul, director of the University of Miami Institute for the Americas, has a message for the many women around the world who have been confronted with the devastating disease.

A breast cancer survivor, Knaul spoke alongside her husband, UM President Julio Frenk, on Tuesday evening about stigmas that surround cancer, specifically in treatment, and the need to empower those who are facing it, at the opening of Pink Powder, an exhibition on view at the Otto G. Richter Library.

“The beauty of women is not specific to our exterior,” Knaul said during a reception held in the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, her words echoing a unifying message in a series of works owned by the de la Cruz Collection and brought to UM through a collaboration of the Libraries and Miami Institute for the Americas with contributions by the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Lowe Art Museum in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Frost School of Music.

Knaul was inspired to initiate the installment in part from her own experience in battling breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 2007.

“One of the biggest obstacles in being able to detect and treat women’s cancers, particularly breast cancer, is this tremendous fear of what it will do to our bodies. We are afraid of abandonment. We are afraid of disfigurement,” she said at the event.

The exhibition includes works in various forms related to the female body and identity, from the “earth-body” work of Cuban-American pioneer performance artist Ana Mendieta to the drawings of female bodies as plants by Miami native Naomi Fisher, and from the confessional work of British artist Tracy Emin to the autobiographical video of Berlin-based artist Susanne Winterling.

Pink Powder is a group of artists that are trying to address the woman’s body, through a woman’s form,” said Rosa de la Cruz, co-founder of the de la Cruz Collection. “And here you have artists from Ana Mendieta, the performing artist, to the work of Tracy Emin, which is totally autobiographical, and you see how these women are encouraging us to have a conversation on the healing power of the visual arts.”

President Julio Frenk said the exhibition reflects an aspect of work at the University and within the University of Miami Institute for the Americas related to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. “Breast cancer affects people of all socioeconomic groups and all countries of the world. There’s the emotional connection to the system, that is actually life threatening if it is not treated correctly,” Frenk said. “The arts are a vehicle to derive meaning from the human experience. And that’s why this exhibit is so powerful.”

On view in the library through the month of October, the exhibition is an initiative of the University’s Galleries, Libraries, and Museums (GLAM) sector, which supports collaboration between libraries and museums as rich repositories of ideas, objects, and insights into how we think, who we are, and the stories we tell. “We are proud to host this powerful series of works by female artists,” said Chuck Eckman, dean of the University of Miami Libraries.

The event closed with a performance on keyboard by Justina Shandler, a graduate student and songwriter in the Frost School, inspired by a family friend’s battle with cancer. From Shandler’s Easy to Be Afraid:

Pick up your head, pick up your pencil
Get out of bed, get in the light 
Pick up some bread and you can break it with a friend 
Pick up your friend and hold her tight
Pick up all the stardust you can find in your life



New Exhibit Explores Gender and Social Justice in Vintage Board Games

By Yvette Yurubi, Reference Assistant, Special Collections

Long before video games came along, board games dominated as a common pastime for adults and kids. With their 2-D platforms, simple narratives, and easy, straightforward objectives, they were a hit among friends, during parties and family gatherings. So what can we learn today from this historic national pastime?

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What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls (1966), players vie to be first in becoming a “career girl.”

After Special Collections recently acquired a series of vintage board games, UGrow Fellow Ellen Davies created a display highlighting what games can tell us about social issues and attitudes in mainstream culture. Without the many bells and whistles virtually transporting players to worlds beyond, these games used more simple tactics to entertain, meanwhile reflecting the ideals of the time. In games from the 1960s and 1970s, we are transported to a time when even the concept of equality, regardless of gender or race, was still making its way into many parts of society.

What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls, for instance, is a game where players must roll the dice, move around the board, and collect career, personality, and subject cards in order to obtain their “dream job.” The game only offers to women six very limiting jobs to choose from: model, airline hostess, ballet dancer, actress, teacher, and nurse. Notably absent are many STEM-based jobs aside from nursing, jobs in the military, and hard-labor jobs, and the game comes equipped with set-backs where a modeling career is out of a player’s reach due to them being overweight or being unattractive. It presents a singular view in which women are highly valued for their looks and behavior rather than their education, intellect, and abilities.

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Male career options highlighted in What Shall I Be? The Exciting Career Game for Boys.

It’s notable that the boy’s version of the game does also offer careers that would be considered traditional for men alongside an array of educational possibilities: law school – statesman; graduate school – scientist; college – athlete; medical school – doctor; technical school – engineer; and flight school – astronaut. However, the absence of careers like steward, model, or dancer also shows a limited perception where men aren’t granted much freedom to pursue anything that doesn’t fall within long-stemming societal views of masculinity.

While these games might be taken at face value, it’s also possible that the creators wanted to use them to make social commentary by highlighting the blatant lack of equality. Woman & Man: The Classic Confrontation furthers this idea by encouraging players to take on the role of the opposite gender and experience “life” through their lenses. The goal of the game is to gather 100 status quo points, though those who choose to play as women can only start with a range of 5-40 points and a position as an assistant while those who play as men, start the game with 36-60 points and a managerial position. The lack of gender equality is exhibited from the onset, illustrating the harder struggle women have had to endure to even stand on an even playing field with men.

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Woman & Man: The Classic Confrontation (1970s) encourages players to experience life through the lens of the opposite sex.

In the wake of growing awareness of social issues and the expanding and rapidly evolving concepts of gender and sexuality, these games seem laughably outdated and politically incorrect. However, aside from their novelty, they do provide an opportunity to open up a dialogue about how casual sexism and restricted gender roles once dominated the social consciousness of the past and how they continue to be an issue today that everyone is struggling to transform and reinvent so that future generations do not have to be so confined in what role they feel they should have to fulfill in order to be accepted into society. We eagerly invite you all to venture to the 8th floor and join us with your friends to share in the experience of these vintage games which are now on exhibit.



Libraries Receives Grant to Digitize Pan Am Archive

Prepare to soar through iconic 20th-century history.

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Pan American World Airways Bermuda Clipper, a Sikorsky S-42 flying boat, as it arrives in Bermuda, 1937.

University of Miami Special Collections is gearing up for a project to put over 100,000 items in the Pan Am archive online thanks to a digitization grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

In May the NHPRC announced the grant, one of five awarded nationwide, for Special Collections to digitize the items in the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records collection. The archival collection—one of the University of Miami’s most popular and extensive—houses historical Pan Am brochures, newsletters, periodicals, annual reports, timetables, and many other records documenting the iconic company’s 60-plus years of operation.

“This is an opportunity to provide unprecedented access to Pan Am’s history, operations, and business culture,” says Sarah Shreeves, UM Libraries Associate Dean for Digital Strategies. “We thank the NHPRC for helping us make this extensive series available for researchers at any time of day and from anywhere in the world.”

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The Pacific by Clipper, 1947.

The 1.5-year project, which begins in October, will include the digitization of 60 boxes of printed materials and publications (known as the “printed materials series”) spanning from 1930 to 1991, which is almost the entire lifetime of the company, and covering all of the geographic areas serviced by the airline.

The digitization efforts build on a previous NHPRC-funded project completed in 2014 to organize the collection in its entirety—all 1,500 boxes of administrative, legal, financial, technical, and promotional materials as well as internal publications, photographs, audiovisual material, and graphic material. Online tools for researching the collection are available on the mini-website Cleared to Land.

“The project will continue our efforts to maximize the impact of the collection as a research resource,” says Beatrice Skokan, Manuscripts Librarian at Special Collections, who worked with head of Digital Production and principal investigator Laura Capell to secure the grant.

Once the printed series is digitized, the archive will be fully text searchable and available to the public free of charge.