UM Libraries Celebrates South Florida’s Caribbean Voices

By Sarah Block

Click the image to view all interviews online.

In his work as a corporate attorney Marlon Hill represents artists and creatives in the South Florida area seeking to build a brand. Outside of the courtroom, however, Hill is an advocate for those who are grappling with issues of identity as individuals in a new land and culture.

“I feel very strongly about helping any student who is going through a process of acclimation, assimilation, and integration,” he explains in his oral history interview at the University of Miami Special Collections as part of its new Caribbean Diaspora Oral History Project. “The success of that person and that person’s family is dependent on how those three areas of immigration are. They can make or break a family.”

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Artist Edouard Duval Carrie shared his story at Special Collections in the Caribbean Diaspora Oral History Project. Highlights from each of the oral history interviews are available on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Hill, a Miami resident originally from Jamaica, said his own struggles in the immigration process as a teenager fueled a desire for mentoring new immigrants, as early as his college years. Today he joins a growing list of South Florida community members of Caribbean origin who are telling their stories in the series sponsored by the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.

So far, more than 20 individuals, including photojournalist Carl Juste, TV Producer/host Elizabeth Guérin, and artist Edouard Duval Carrie have taken part in the series, which spans topics surrounding their various experiences and contributions to the South Florida community in such areas as art and media, education, entrepreneurship, and activism.

“Our interviewees are individuals who are actively involved in a creative blending of their immigration experience with their lives in the United States,” said Special Collections’ Manuscripts Librarian Beatrice Skokan, who led the project, at a July 13 celebration of the series that recognized its first group of participants.

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UM Libraries Manuscripts Librarian Beatrice Skokan thanks donors during the reception.

Skokan describes the series as an important initiative for Special Collections and its Caribbean Archive, which houses rare maps, books, and correspondence as well as materials that document modern life and families of the Caribbean basin. “The South Florida region, with its multiplicity of migrations, has become an ideal setting for the historical documentation of hemispheric encounters,” Skokan says. “This is about documenting the experience of people who inhabited Caribbean regions from their point of view—unedited by another’s gaze and interpretation.”

Many of the department’s most rare and historical Caribbean materials, dating back to the 1700s, were donated by some of UM’s earliest supporters, underscoring one of the region’s and the University’s enduring strengths. At his January inauguration, President Julio Frenk described a “hemispheric” aspiration as one of four defining visions for the future of the University.

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Oral history donors Marlon Hill (second from right) and Elizabeth Guérin (right) with guests at Special Collections’ Caribbean Voices reception.

The ongoing series is now accessible to students, scholars, and the general public for research on a variety of topics related to South Florida’s Caribbean diaspora. It currently features individuals of Haitian, Dominican, Bahamian, Venezuelan, Cuban, and Colombian origins, among others, with the intent of continued growth as new funding becomes available.

Interviews, which were conducted by Julio Estorino and Lucrèce Louisdhon-Louinis along with Skokan, are accessible from UM Libraries’ website. Additional oral history projects of UM Libraries include the Haitian Diaspora Oral Histories; the Cuban Heritage Collection’s Luis J. Botifoll Oral History Project and Human Rights Oral History Project; and collaborations with National Public Radio’s StoryCorps, including StoryCorps Historias and StoryCorps Military Voices Initiative (carried out with the nonprofit Warmamas), which is currently in process.

Current participants of the Caribbean Diaspora Oral History Project include:

Elizabeth Baez, Artist/Educator

Firelei Báez, Artist

Ronald Bilbao, Legislative Specialist

Lucy Canzoneri-Golden, Artist/Educator

Tiberio Castellanos, Journalist

Edouard Duval Carrié, Artist

Elizabeth Guérin, TV Producer/Host

Roberto Guzmán, Linguist/Writer

Marlon Hill, Attorney

Carl Juste, Photojournalist

Fr. Alejandro López, Priest

Gepsie Metellus, Community Leader

Francisco Portillo, Immigration Activist

María Rodriguez, Activist

Ruby Romero-Issaev, Producer/Marketing Director

Nora Sandigo, Immigration Activist

Althea “Vicki” Silvera, Archivist

Patricia Sowers, Nonprofit Director

Nixon St. Hubert (DJ Nickymix), DJ/Producer

Federico Uribe, Artist

Dr. Freddie G. Young, Educator/Community Leader

This project is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of Arts, and the State of Florida. If you are interested in learning more about this collection, or to recommend someone for this project, please call 305-284-3247.

Event photos by Mitchell Zachs.



New Project to Archive Efforts of UM’s LGBTQ+ Student Organization

By Koichi Tasa, University Archivist

tasa_headshot_largeI am currently working for the first time to archive a collection of electronic records with my colleague Laura Capell, Head of Digital Production and Electronic Archivist. The commemorable organization of focus is UM’s undergraduate LBGTQ+ group SpectrUM. We will archive messages and e-flyers documenting their organizational efforts in support of UM’s lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, queer, and questioning community.

The collection was inspired by President Frenk’s December 2015 message on campus initiatives for inclusiveness towards LGBTQ+ students. I contacted SpectrUM to join their mailing list and have continued to save electronic records for the use of future students and researchers. We will make a decision shortly on how to provide access to the collection. For the time being, you can find more information on the collection in the finding aid.

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SpectrUM, organized in 1992, has expanded on the work of The Gay Alliance, which formed in the 1970s.

Working on this collection made me wonder about earlier gay and lesbian organizations at the University. Some historical information is available in The Miami Hurricane Archive Online. There I found an article from 1985 titled “Gay Student Seeks to Inform” by Sal O’Neill. O’Neill, who was a senior at that time, wrote about an earlier group called The Gay Alliance, formed in the early-to-mid 1970s. “The Alliance had weekly rap sessions in the Alliance’s office in the Student Union. They also sponsored regular dances at the Rathskeller which were open to the public,” he writes, also noting significant challenges– “fears of exposure and violence, and the apathy that any group must contend with”–that brought about its demise. In the 1980s, students could connect in an off-campus group called the Gay and Lesbian Youth Group, which offered “emotional support and social interaction to gay men and lesbians not available elsewhere up to the age of 25.”

The Lavender Celebration 2016 was sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, Student Life, Toppel Career Center and Alumni Association.

The Lavender Celebration 2016 was sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, Student Life, Toppel Career Center and Alumni Association to recognize the accomplishments of LGBTQ graduates of the U.

This was before SpectrUM, which was organized in 1992 (under the name Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Club). Its purpose is to foster pride through education, awareness, advocacy, and social events and to support all members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. It’s remarkable to see how far this mission has come, and we look forward to the opportunity of sharing its continuation with future students and researchers.

Stay tuned for announcements about future archival efforts. In an upcoming project in February 2017 we will work with groups such as the Black Alumni Society and United Black Students to curate a full exhibition at Richter Library on UM’s black students and faculty. The exhibition will coincide with the Black Alumni Society’s First Black Graduates Project. We look forward to collaborating with these and other campus organizations to honor their accomplishments.



UM Libraries Co-Host 2016 Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) Conference

Librarians and archivists gathering for the 2016 Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) conference brought their passion for rare books, old maps, pamphlets, letters, and history in many other forms to Coral Gables for a four-day discussion on bridging collections with potential users and donors across communities.

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Special Collections Librarian Jay Sylvestre leads a tour of rare materials in an “Instameet,” bringing together RBMS participants active in promoting resources through social media. Posts from this meet up can be found on Instagram using #InstaMeetUM.

More than 400 library professionals of colleges and universities nationwide came together for the nearly 60-year-old RBMS conference, hosted this year by the University of Miami Libraries and University of Florida Smathers Libraries, from June 20 to 24, on the theme of Opening Doors to Collaboration, Outreach and Diversity.

“It’s about making sure the diversity of our communities are being reflected in our collections, and finding ways to make them more accessible to all for greater enrichment and impact,” says Cristina Favretto, head of Special Collections and a 2016 conference organizer. Several of UM’s librarians participated in conference panels and workshops, held mainly at the Biltmore Hotel and additionally on the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus.

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UM Libraries and UF Smathers Libraries hosted a reception at the Shalala Student Center on June 23.



New Library Catalog Now Live: Search, Browse, and Discover with uSearch

For the past year, UM’s nine libraries have been collaborating on a merger and migration to a new library management platform and catalog/discovery tool in order to streamline access to the University’s millions of library holdings. The new catalog, known as uSearch, went live May 19, uniting three separate catalogs from across the Coral Gables, Miller School of Medicine, and Rosenstiel campuses.

The library-wide effort was first announced to the University community in February. “Faculty and students on all campuses will be very pleased to discover that, with one search, resources from across the University’s libraries will be displayed on their screen,” said Professor of Law Sally Wise, chair of the Faculty Senate Library & Information Resources Committee and director of the Law Library.

Library users can explore uSearch from an interdisciplinary access point or focus their searches through the uSearch portals of Medical and Law libraries, which have been customized with additional search settings specific to those subject areas.

What does this mean for library users?

  • One catalog: All resources from Law, Medical (Calder, Ophthalmology, and UMH Libraries), Interdisciplinary (Richter), and the subject specialty libraries (Architecture, Business, Marine & Atmospheric Science, and Music) will be available in one catalog.
  • One search: Users will now be able to search all locally digitized/created resources from a single search field. This search includes digitized content from our distinctive collections, institutional repositories, and UM electronic theses and dissertations.
  • One login: Users will have a single means of authentication for most library resources (CaneID).*

Additionally users can look forward to enhanced communications on borrowed materials, including courtesy notices in advance of an item’s due date and loan and check-in receipts.

What do users get by logging in to the system?

While anyone may browse the catalog as a guest, signing in to the system provides users with access to a suite of services that includes:

  • the ability to request and/or place a hold on library materials
  • customize search preferences
  • save customized searches
  • save articles and catalog entries
  • add notes
  • create folders
  • export information to bibliographic software
  • receive alerts when new items are added that fit one’s search parameters, topics of interest, etc.

NOTE: Due to publisher licensing restrictions, results from some databases (e.g., Web of Science) only display if users are logged in.

Need help?

Find search tips and guidance on the use of specific uSearch features for interdisciplinary, Medical, and Law libraries:

Feedback and questions

We welcome your feedback and are grateful for your patience during this implementation process.

*Interlibrary Loan services of the Law and Medical libraries will remain independently operated by their respective departments.





This Just In: Pan Am Memories

By Yvette Yurubi

A few months ago, we were honored to have former Pan Am stewardess, Daniele Desmoulins Perez-Venero, visit us to donate some of her papers to supplement our Pan American World Airways, Inc. records and our World Wings International, Inc. records. When asked to enrich her donation with some biographical tidbits about her time in Pan Am, she shared with us a few of her fondest memories of how she began as a stewardess and her years working for the glamorous airline:

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“It had barely been two months since I had arrived in New York coming from Paris in a Norwegian cargo boat. I was 24 years old and fearless.

I arrived alone in October of 1964 with 200 dollars in my pocket, no job in sight but possessing a precious green card. I was lucky to get hired as a secretary by the Cultural Department of the French Embassy about a week after my arrival and before all my money ran out. About a month and half later when I saw an advertisement in the newspaper that Pan American World Airways was looking for stewardesses, I was ecstatic. This had always been a dream of mine! So I hurried to make an appointment for an interview and decided to miss work on that day.

After dressing up in my second-hand blue suit, white blouse, and high-heeled leather black shoes, I presented myself at the appointed time and place. The waiting room was full of anxious-looking young ladies like me. When my turn finally came to be called, I was ushered into a dark room where someone -I assume was a psychologist- started asking me questions about myself and about pictures projected on a screen. Then, I was led into a small room with a window where a panel of four friendly looking people was seated. They asked me the usual questions: why do you want to work for Pan Am, how many years of college do you have, what other languages do you speak… I answered everything to their satisfaction. Then they asked me to tell them a little about myself, so I recounted the story of my arrival in New York and also how I had managed to learn English and Spanish fluently. They seemed to be so impressed that they decided to hire me on the spot! They asked me not to tell anyone because this was not done according to their usual long procedure where they would send letters weeks after the interview to let the candidates know whether they had been accepted or not. Of course, I was flattered and left the room beaming.

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After about a month of training and after graduation, Pan Am offered us a choice of destinations for our first flight as trainees. They let me have my first choice which was New York to Paris (with a layover in Paris) and Paris to Monrovia, Africa, where we stayed for a couple of days before flying back to New York. I thought the flight to Paris was a favor to me on the company’s part. They knew how delighted my family and I would be to see each other when I arrived at the Paris Orly airport in full regalia!! And since it was January, I was wearing the same winter coat that I gave to the Special Collections Library of the University of Miami with long black leather gloves. In warm climates, we would wear short, white gloves instead. The Pan Am uniform was actually quite nice-looking. It consisted of a blue-grey gabardine suit, a short sleeves white blouse underneath, a pillbox hat as was the fashion in the sixties, black high-heeled shoes, and gloves appropriate to the season. We changed once on board the plane. We took off our jacket, hat, white blouse, and put on a smock. We also changed our shoes to low-heeled shoes. To illustrate these looks, I provided some photographs of myself in uniform and also wearing a smock inside the plane to the Special Collections Library at UM.

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In those days undergarments were mandatory. We had to wear a girdle and a full slip… and those could be checked, as well as our weight, before flying time. Our hair style could not touch the collar. We could be reported for any transgression; I remember, for example, being reported for having worn green instead of blue eye shadow on a flight.

Because Pan American Airways needed flight attendants who could speak Spanish for their Boeing 707 flights from San Francisco to Guatemala and Panama, they sent me to be based in San Francisco. I remained on the same route for several months, which was a disappointment to me because it was not my first choice. The flights to the Pacific and the Far East sounded more exciting. When my two roommates commented on their flights to exotic destinations like Tokyo, Bangkok, Singapore, Tahiti, Sydney, I could not help feeling rather envious! Finally, my turn came, and they let me fly all their other routes. Some of the countries I flew to that I remember are Japan, Thailand, Guam, England, Australia, Tahiti, and, of course, Guatemala and the Republic of Panama. We often made stops in Hawaii on our way to the Orient or Anchorage on the way to Japan. The company was so big, I never flew with the same people.

We were allowed to bid for the trips we wanted and according to our seniority we got it or not. We always stayed in the best hotels (such as The Intercontinental, Sheraton, Hilton, or other five star local hotels) and were treated like royalty. It was a dream life.

On my first vacation, in April of 1966, I invited my mother to fly around the world with me. I had kept the Pan Am itinerary papers as a souvenir, and I have given them to the Special Collections Library of the University of Miami recently, along with other papers and memorabilia.

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I had to have a valid visa for every stop the plane made along the way, even if we did not plan on staying there. This was a good precaution as we unexpectedly got loaded off in Beirut. It was a time of turmoil before the war and people were trying to get out. However, we did not regret this unscheduled stop; we were able to visit some interesting places like the ancient city of Byblos, and we ended up buying two beautiful hand-made oriental carpets at the free zone in Beirut! We were able to continue on our way the following day. This free travel was one of the wonderful perks of working as a stewardess for Pan American Airways.

I later became a purser but not for long. I got married in Panama and had to quit flying, but I am still in touch with my Pan Am family as a member of the World Wings Miami Chapter.”

These memories are now immortalized in her collection, the Daniele Desmoulins Perez-Venero papers, housed here in the Special Collections department and can be accessed by anyone who wants to relive the captivating world of Pan Am in the 1960s.



Replicating an Ancient Artifact: Exhibit Highlights 3D Printing in Action at the U

As part of the research for a current exhibit at the Lowe Art Museum, Kay Pacha: Reciprocity with the Natural World, curator Dr. Traci Ardren collaborated with Dr. William Pestle, a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology, and anthropology student Adam Sticca to gain insight on how ancient Andean people made and used the art that would help tell the story of their lives 2,000 years ago. By creating a 3D replica of one such piece, an ancient Peruvian whistling vessel, the researchers were able to carry out intensive study of the artifact’s qualities in ways that could not have been done with the fragile original.

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UM researchers used the Digital Media Lab‘s 3D printer to replicate an ancient artifact from the collection of the Lowe Art Museum.

The 3D print, created in Richter Library’s Digital Media Lab through CT scan images they provided to the lab, is now on view on the first floor of Richter Library.

“From an archaeological perspective, 3D printing capabilities allow for more intensive study of an artifact free from any destructive processes which would damage the original piece,” says Adam Sticca, a freshman in the Department of Anthropology. “In this specific case, the printed replica allowed us to more closely examine the complex structure inside the hollow base. The process took a fair amount of trial and error in order to properly print the object as a hollow structure. This printed replica serves as a shining illustration of the capabilities and applications of 3D printing technology now offered at the library.”

Kay Pacha: Reciprocity with the Natural World is on view at the Lowe Art Museum through July 2, 2016. To learn more about 3D printing, including how to use it for your projects, stop by the Digital Media Lab and sign up for a 3D printing consultation.



New Collection Celebrates and Preserves Urban Art in Florida

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A unique collection generously donated by Barbara Young in honor of her late husband, artist and teacher Robert Huff, is now available for research. The Robert Huff Collection includes a vast array of exhibit catalogs dating back from the 1980s to the present. Of interest are the sheer number and variety of exhibits that cropped up all around Miami, showcasing different artists with their own brand and identity that contributed something valuable and new to the art scene.

At the forefront of the collection is one name splayed across many of these exhibit catalogs – Robert Huff himself, a former art professor and chairman at Miami Dade College. His stunning, three-dimensional visual style was celebrated throughout the decades as a welcome presence in Miami as his use of bright colors intersects with architectural designs to create pieces that are unexpectedly harmonious in spite of their disparate elements. Segmenting lines and geometrical shapes present in many of his artworks are where these elements meet and interact to create layered images that paint an urban jungle for its audience to be lured into, inviting them to traverse deeper into the story he tried to tell in each piece.

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These catalogs serve as a celebration of his prominence and success here in Miami and will hopefully evoke the curiosity of future young artists and researchers who wish to delve deeper into his work and those of his contemporaries. We invite you all to come stop by and take a look through the exhibition catalogs to experience the way the urban art movement has shaped Miami’s cultural scene as a whole.

Capturing Florida’s local art scene is one of our key collecting areas here in Special Collections as we feel it has something unique and culturally significant to offer current and future generations. We are striving to document as much of it as possible before historical materials are lost or disappear into the ether (as so many websites do), so materials such as our newly acquired Robert Huff Collection have become crucial to our initiative to preserve Florida’s modern history with the same eclectic flair that we experience in our day-to-day lives living here in this energetic and artistically vibrant city.



Objects in the Archive: Now on Display

objectsArchive_FINAL-withBlurb_webby Sarah Block, Library Communications

The exhibition features materials that highlight how the physical characteristics of objects can provide insightful clues about the past and inform the present.

Curated by Meiyolet Méndez, interim chair of the Cuban Heritage Collection, and Dr. Martin Tsang, UM Libraries CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow in History and Area Studies, Objects in the Archive includes three-dimensional objects related to education, industry, and religion in Cuba from the Collection and outside materials. They span commodities and marketing materials from the tobacco industry, Republic-era educational memorabilia, creative works such as artist’s books from Cuba’s Vigía collective, and a rich variety of religious objects.

Tsang, a former CHC Graduate Fellow, culled religious ornaments and sculpture, many from the Lydia Cabrera Papers, that document influences of Afro-Cuban religion on the island and largely informed his own doctoral work.

“As an anthropologist I’m very interested in these material objects that remain and the inspiration, symbolism, and value that is given to and contained in these materials.” In his ethnographic fieldwork Tsang, who is also an initiated Lukumí priest, has also studied Afro-Cuban religion in both Cuba and on our doorstep through interviews and objects including religious icons and Afro-Atlantic beaded art.

“In some cases,” he explains, “objects have their own lives. A sculpture, such as that of a deity, can be as meaningful in a person’s life far beyond the concept of an inanimate object, taking on its own biography.”

One such object, a cement figure with cowrie shell features honoring the deity Elegua, is featured in the exhibition courtesy of Biscayne National Park, where it was originally found and is part of a larger religious use study that Dr. Tsang has conducted there. “The materials used and the way it’s created offer insights about origins of time and place, and broader cultural patterns and mobility.”

Objects in the Archive is on view through August 2016.