The exhibition is on e-Veritas

In University Archives, cheerleaders from another era sport an M rather than the now-familiar U.

Southern Suns and Sky Blue Water Showcases Student Life Over the Decades

University of Miami Libraries University Archives’ exhibition, Southern Suns and Sky Blue Water, is on display through January 2014 at the Otto G. Richter Library, and features photographs, fanfare, memorabilia, and publications that reflect student life at the University during the 1960s, 1980s, and early 2000s.

“There is a vibrant history here at UM,” says Koichi Tasa, University archivist and the exhibition’s lead curator. He notes that the exhibition’s title, the first line of the University’s Alma Mater, alludes to the timeless backdrop that unifies University athletics, student activities, and campus events across many generations.

Among the exhibition’s ’60s generation mementos is a vintage photograph of soul music pioneer Ray Charles performing at the UM Homecoming Concert in 1963, just two years after the University officially desegregated the campus. Research Services Supervisor Marcia Heath, a curator of the exhibition, said that Charles’s performance was a catalyst in raising morale among the student body during the racially charged period.

“These materials really show us where we’re coming from…how far we’ve come,” she said, also referring to the transformation in the University’s physical campus. One 1962 photograph of the Richter Library shows the completion of the main floors and stacks addition, which earned a design award by Florida Architect in 1964. The library now houses a print collection of more than four million volumes.

The exhibition, also curated by Education and Outreach Librarian William Jacobs and Special Collections Research Assistant Steve Hersh, includes IBIS yearbook spreads chronicling the evolution of traditions like Carni Gras, where students in the ’60s and ’80s strutted in high gear to embrace the Carnival spirit.

The exhibition even houses traditional fanfare such as a dink, once-required headgear freshmen sported until Miami’s first touchdown, and then tossed into the air. “Like the world, the University is changing daily,” said Cynthia Cochran, director of alumni programs. “The opportunity to visit some artifacts from those periods only enriches [alumni’s] visit back to campus, for some of whom it has been 50 years.”

Since he started at the University Archives in 2007, Tasa has worked closely with the UM Alumni Association. In 2010 artist Jacobina Trump created a mural at the Alumni Center, inspired by collection materials, conveying an unchanging horizon over the many generations to walk the campus. Like the exhibition, it also bears the words Southern Suns and Sky Blue Water. “Those words hit home for us all,” Tasa said.

Posted on 06 December 2013

Playing History Detective

Last week, I researched the origin of Beaux Arts Festival of Art, which is a well-know annul outdoor art event on the Coral Gables Campus. The organizer has created a beautiful website, which describes the organization, the event, and its history. Yet, a researcher contacted us looking for original materials on the first Festival took place in 1952.

I was able to find a Miami Herald article dated May 4, 1952 on the first Beaux Arts Festival in the Beaux Arts Scrapbooks. I also found several images on 1952 Clothesline Art Sale in the Historical Photograph Collection. (contact sheet and negatives only available, please see the image below).

The only information available for the images is the caption “Clothesline Art Sale” and the year 1952 written in pencil on the back of the contact sheet. We cannot identify the names of the artists or customers in the images. But, this is still a wonderful discovery for me.