Ask the Archivist: What does the Seal of the University mean?

The Miami Hurricane, August 5. 1966 article on UM's New Seal

The Miami Hurricane, August 5. 1966 article on UM’s New Seal

Last week, an alumnae contacted me to find out the meaning of the palm tree and the sun in the University Seal. My immediate guess was they stand for subtropical weather and year round sunshine of Miami, but I was wrong! They represent “tree of knowledge” and “sun of wisdom” according to a trusted historical resource of the University.

How did I find the answer? I searched The Miami Hurricane Archive Online with keywords “seal,” “palm,” and “sun,” and I was able to find the answer right away. Please click here to read the full article about the meaning of the Great Seal.

Instruction for Usage of the University Seal

Usage of the University Seal is restricted. source: http://www6.miami.edu/umidentity/logos.html



Research Assistance for the Miller School of Medicine’s Anniversary Video

First Graduation Ceremony for the 26 students of the School of Medicine took place on June 11, 1956 at Dinner Key Auditorium.

First Graduation Ceremony for the 26 students of the School of Medicine took place on June 11, 1956 at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Coconut Grove. University of Miami Historical Photograph Collection

Our predecessors provided research assistance for the Miller School of Medicine’s golden anniversary commemorative publication “A Tradition of Caring: Discovery, Knowledge, and Healing” published in 2003. 12 years later, we assisted two colleagues from the Medical Development Office in December 2015 and January 2016 research our materials on their first graduating class of 1956.

Last week, we received an email from the colleagues informing that they finished creating a video titled “Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Graduation of the Class of 1956.” Please go to the link below to watch the video. The moving video makes us proud to be part of the University of Miami, and the archivists and the librarians at the University of Miami Libraries hope that the school will continue archiving with us to celebrate their anniversaries and achievements in the future.

Video Presentation “Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Graduation of the Class of 1956”
(*University Archives received the Office’s permission to share the video with our patrons.)

1956 IBIS and Commencement Program

1956 Ibis yearbook and June 11, 1956 Commencement Program are a few examples of the materials available on the subject at the Archives. The UM Office of the President Records and the School of Medicine Records provide in-depth historical information on the School. We can also offer excellent collection of historical images from the UM Historical Photograph Collections (1920s to 1970s) and the UM University Communications Collection (1980s to 2000s)

Miller School of Medicine's golden anniversary publication "A Tradition of Caring: Discovery, Knowledge, and Healing" published in 2003

Miller School of Medicine’s golden anniversary publication “A Tradition of Caring: Discovery, Knowledge, and Healing” published in 2003



Archivist behind “The University of Miami: A Golden Anniversary History, 1926-1976”

Plaque dedicated to Helen L Wilson

Plaque dedicated to Helen L Wilson

Written by David Colbus
Senior, College of Arts and Sciences and Student Assistant, the University Archives

The other day, the University Archivist, Koichi Tasa, showed me a picture of a plaque found on the ground by the Spirit Tree. The quote says “Helen Louis Wilson, assistant to three U.M. presidents and an archivist for the Richter Library.” Mr. Tasa and my supervisor Mrs. Marcia Heath have never heard of her name before. Who is this woman, what was her role in the Archives, and why is an important symbol of the University dedicated to her? With all the research skills of a University Archives assistant, I set to find out.

First, I accessed the University Archives webpage through the library website. Using these public records including The Miami Hurricane Archive Online, the Ibis Yearbooks, the Veritas newsletter, and the Historical Photographs collection, I searched for Helen Louis Wilson. After failing to find a single mention of Helen Louis Wilson, I tried again but without her middle name and found my first hit. The Jan. 15, 1960 Miami Hurricane briefly mentions her as a secretary for Dean Dr. James M. Godard. Sadly, the remaining references to Helen Wilson in the Hurricane were in connection to her death in 1991. I did find out, however, that she worked full time from 1944 to 1952, and that she gathered information for Charlton W. Tebeau’s book University of Miami: A Golden Anniversary History, which remains an invaluable resource used in the University Archives to this day.

I found even more information on Helen Wilson and her work within the Veritas newsletter. In 1962, President Pearson thanked her for her involvement in the United Fund Campaign. In 1981, she supported search committees to replace vacancies in Administration. In 1980 and 1981, Helen Wilson posted witty historical facts about the University in a Veritas column called “Those were the days”. And in 1991, her obituary explained that Helen Wilson worked as an administrative assistant to Presidents Bowman Foster Ashe, Jay F. W Pearson, and Henry King Stanford. She retired in 1982, but continued to work part time in the Richter Library’s archives, processing and maintaining the presidential files.

*Click here to read Ms. Wilson’s column “Those were the days..” found in Veritas (February 2, 1981, page 4).

*Click here to read her obituary in Veritas (September 1991, page 10).

By sheer chance, I discovered booklets from the Spirit Tree’s dedication while pulling materials for a visitor. It memorialized Wilson, reaffirming all that I discovered in my research, and added this: “In the words of people who knew her… she wanted to do what she could do and give what she could give to future generations of the University.” I hope that my work at the Archives has done the same.

Spirit Tree and the plaque dedicated to Helen L. Wilson

Spirit Tree and the plaque dedicated to Helen L. Wilson

Brochure of the Spirit Tree Dedication, Page 1

Bochure of the Spirit Tree Dedication, Page 1

Brochure of the Spirit Tree Dedication, Page 2Bochure of the Spirit Tree Dedication, Page 2[/caption]



Research Assistance for Library Research Scholars

Aerial View of the Orange Bowl, 1964, The UM Historical Photograph Collection

Aerial View of the Orange Bowl, 1964, The UM Historical Photograph Collection

Richter Library started a new innovative program “Library Research Scholars” this academic year, which offers UM’s undergraduate students a unique, librarian faculty-mentored learning experience involving a deep and active engagement with the University of Miami Libraries’ research collections and service programs.

Library Research Scholars Program
2015-16 Library Research Scholars

Although none of the seven scholars picked university history as their research subject, we have been able to assist four of them with our collections and expertise. For the two research scholars who researched on the Orange Bowl, the best resource is available at the Special Collections. However, the Office of the President Records can provide unique materials about early history and UM’s involvement in the legendary bowl game. We do not have computer skills to help the scholar who has been developing a campus walking tour app, but she also needed historical content, such as UM buildings and landmarks as well as images for the program. The fourth scholar did not need UM’s historical resources, but I was asked to assist him with my knowledge of Japanese history and art as well as Richter’s collection on Japanese subjects. We are also offering exhibition assistance for the the scholars who will curate exhibitions later this summer.

Through this engaging program, we hope more faculty and students of the University will discover that historical resources of the University of Miami can be excellent research and teaching material on subjects, such as local history, architecture, diversity, social movements, Cuban exiles and their experience in the U.S., and origin of cultural institutions in Miami.

Water Skiers on Lake Osceola, 1930, UM Historical Photograph Collection

Water Skiers on Lake Osceola, 1930, UM Historical Photograph Collection



UM Historical Materials Showcased at Inauguration 2016

Written by Koichi Tasa and Sarah Block

Staff and student assistants at the University Archives recently caught a glimpse of the enormous effort in producing large-scale events when they assisted in planning the celebration of President Frenk’s inauguration, which took place during the last week of January 2016.

The University Archives, which houses  a vast expanse of records documenting the history of the University of Miami, provided research and exhibition assistance for the “Firsts at UM” event on January 27 in the Newman Alumni Center as well as the inaugural ceremony, which was held on January 29 at the Bank United Center.

Koichi Tasa says December to January was the busiest time in the decade he has served as University Archivist. “In these months, we gained valuable experience through collaboration with colleagues outside of the UM Libraries,” Tasa said. “We were proud to help bring UM history to life through the materials we preserve.”

President Frenk holding the Second Ceremonial Mace of the UM.

President Frenk holding the Second Ceremonial Mace of the UM. Photo Courtesy of University Communications.

Working with the Office of the President, University Communications, and other University departments, Tasa and his staff culled information as well as artifacts, including more than 300 high-resolution images for a video that aired at the event and past inaugural addresses and programs from three previous inauguration ceremonies.

The department’s materials were also featured in an exhibit at “Firsts at UM,” in which President Frenk and UM historian and author Arva Moore Parks discussed key moments throughout the 90-year history of the U. Guests, including several pioneers and trailblazers, viewed and engaged with prized memorabilia such as the second commencement mace of the University and the commencement cap and gown worn by the first University president Ashe. Official portraits of the former five UM presidents, also housed by the Archives, were on display.

“Inauguration 2016 was an opportunity, in addition to showcasing our collections and services, to take an active part in the history as it’s being made,” Tasa says. “An unexpected benefit from this experience was that we got to learn more about our wonderful colleagues, who are already proposing ideas for the U’s centennial celebration in 2026.”

In order to assist in facilitating these ideas, Tasa says the University Archives plans to reach out to more schools, departments, and student groups to archive their organizational history. “We believe that such efforts would be a tremendous help for the next historian to write a new book about the University of Miami at the centennial anniversary.”