Denman Fink as UM Professor

Denman Fink (1880-1956) is often remembered as the artist and illustrator who left an important legacy through the designs he created for George Merrick’s real estate projects in Coral Gables during the 1920s. But he was also a highly regarded educator of art and architecture at the University of Miami, from the founding of the University in 1926 until his retirement in 1952. Since the University of Miami was always an integral part of Merrick’s planned community, Fink, a board member of the consulting architects of Coral Gables, was involved with the University from its inception.

Professor Fink first appeared as Consultant in Architecture in the 1929 Ibis.

The University Archives holds original materials by Denman Fink in the University of Miami Campus Architecture Collection. Fink created the iconic promotional poster entitled Keep the World Coming to Florida, Build the University of Miami, and the collection also includes artistic renderings and preliminary studies for the campus, many never realized, as well as lesser-known architectural drawings of the Solomon G. Merrick Building, campus dormitories, studio apartments, a research lab, and a stadium. A portrait of President Ashe painted by Fink, and the master’s thesis “Denman Fink: Dream Coordinator to George Merrick and the Development of Coral Gables, Florida,” represent other important items that are available for research.

View of the exhibition on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.

These materials complement The Life and Art of Denman Finke, an exhibition currently on view at the Coral Gables Museum. University Archives partnered with the museum and provided a number of digitized items for their exhibit.

Trustee Julian S. Eaton commissioned the Ashe portrait in honor of the University’s 25th Anniversary in 1951.

Now On View – Our New Exhibition “We Were Pioneers”

Entrance view of the exhibition “We Were Pioneers.”

The University Archives is pleased to announce a new exhibition “We Were Pioneers” for the African American History Month to honor the University of Miami’s African-American Students, Faculty, and Administrators of the 1960s and 1970s.

Front wall of the exhibition space honors 12 student UTrailbrazers.

The exhibition features publications, images, memorabilia, and other artifacts from the University Archives’s collection in 9 exhibition cases and surrounding walls on the first floor of the Otto G. Richter Library. You will be able to find out University of Miami’s desegregation history, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic visit to the University, United Black Students, first African-American athletes, first African-American faculty and administrators, local resources on diversity, and so on in the exhibits. This exhibition also showcases Richter’s Special Collections’ materials on Miami’s desegregation and civil rights movement history.

We will create an online version of this exhibition shortly so that future faculty and students can research the materials and resources we put together for the exhibition. Also, we hope this exhibition will inspire our fellow colleagues as well as former and current Canes to archive with us.

Have you thought U’s centennial celebration is only 8 years away? We hope we will be able to curate a monumental exhibition to celebrate the U’s centennial jubilee with historical materials from all the schools, departments, and student groups of the University.

Rear wall of the exhibition space honors UTrailbrazer faculty and administrators.

The rich contents of “Malaika,” published by the United Black Students in the 1970s and 1980s, made possible for us to curate the exhibition.

Current Exhibition Extended Through July


We just received approval by Dean Charles Eckman to extend our current exhibition “The Pan American University: The Original Spirit of the U Lives On” through July 2016, so that the participants of the RBMS Conference could see it when they visit the Otto G. Richter Library in late June.

FYI, RBMS stands for Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, which is a division of the American Library Association. This year the group meets in Miami from June 21 to 24 at the Biltmore Hotel for various programs. Please go to the link below for further information about the conference.


We appreciate very much the opportunity to display University of Miami’s history as well as University Archives’ collections for the attendees of the Conference.

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.”

Pan American University: The Original Spirit of the U Lives On

By David Colbus, Senior in the College of Arts and Sciences
Student Assistant, University Archives

Throughout last fall, the University Archives worked to curate and install the Pan American University: The Original Spirit of the U Lives On exhibit on Richter Library’s first floor. This was the first exhibit I encountered as a new University Archives assistant. To introduce me to the Archives’ work and purpose, my supervisor Marcia Heath gave me a tour of the recently completed display. The exhibit celebrates Pan Americanism, the University’s 90 years of history, and the new president, Dr. Julio Frenk. Beyond teaching me about my new role in the Archives, this exhibit educated me on the University’s history, and how that history informs the institution it is today.


“Pan American University: The Original Spirit of the U Lives On,” located on the first floor of the Otto G. Richter Library, features historical materials dating back to UM’s founding years. Photo by Andrew Innerarity.

The exhibit tells us that “Before there were University of Miami students or faculty, defined programs, or even a single building, the enduring concept of UM as the Pan American University had taken form.” Congressman William Jennings Bryan dreamed up this concept, one George Merrick and other founding members of the University strongly shared. Merrick envisioned a “university of our own tropical America…to supply that definite unfilled need of a cultural contact by university facilities with all of Latin America.” This Pan American University would invite cultural and academic exchange across all the Americas. This ideal informed the University’s earliest programs, research focuses, and even the University’s original architectural design. Victor and Rafael Belaúnde were specifically recruited to teach Latin American history and economics, and their establishment of the University’s Hispanic American Studies and Hispanic American Institute set the stage for many of today’s Hispanic-focused programs. The University of Miami also maintained close academic contact with the University of Havana through its early years to facilitate the academic exchange that Pan Americanism called for.


Photo featured in the exhibition of UM drama students outside of the capitol building in Havana, Cuba, c. 1950s, from the University Archives.

University Archivist Koichi Tasa came up with the vision for the exhibit and served as its chief curator, culling records from the Office of the President Records as well as visual materials from the UM Historical Photograph Collection and UM Campus Architecture Collection, among others from the University Archives.  “It’s a great occasion to showcase our collections and knowledge about UM’s history,” Tasa said.

Archives specialist Marcia Heath worked with Tasa in research for the exhibit, and supervised the Archives’ assistants in their tasks. “We have an opportunity to start and frame important discussions about history, culture, and diversity in our community,” Heath said. “This resource encourages students to broaden their horizons.”

The exhibit was a collaborative effort within the UM Libraries and beyond: Beatrice Skokan and Yvette Yurubi from the Special Collections department and Meiyolet Mendez from the Cuban Heritage Collection researched and provided materials on topics such as the founding of Coral Gables and friendship between UM and the University of Havana. The Library Communications team provided editorial and promotional assistance for the exhibition. They also worked with local artist and UM alum Alex Vahan (Cushy Gigs, Inc.) in the creation of an eye-catching photographic collage surrounding the exhibition space.

Archives’ student assistants Jodiann Heron, Davin Stencil, Cody Andreoni, Sabrina Anand, and I located and researched materials for the exhibit. “What I really like is learning so much about the University. Every single day you learn something different,” Heron said. When I looked through the display cases, I remember being amazed by the complexity and importance of the exhibit. Yes, the exhibit focuses on the cornerstone idea of Pan Americanism and the University of Miami’s close ties to Latin America, following through the University’s creation and history, as well as into the modern day. However, it also locates one of the University’s greatest strengths, our diversity, within that original idea of Pan Americanism. It shows how the University’s devotion to broader understandings of cultural acceptance, of diversity, of peace and equality, stem from this one idea.


Local artist and UM alum Alex Vahan (Cushy Gigs, Inc.) created the historical wall design for the exhibition space using digitized archival materials. Photo by Andrew Innerarity.

This exhibit represents the University Archives in capacity and purpose, and represents its role they could play for the future. Looking forward to 2025, the University will be celebrating its 100th anniversary. The University Archives will play an integral role of this celebration, showing the growth and evolution of our University from the ideals that it was founded upon. I hope that all of the University of Miami, every department and office, helps us in this endeavor. “If anyone in the University wants to celebrate their anniversary, the Archives are here to work with them,” Tasa said. When the centennial celebrations arrive, everyone at this university, everyone who has contributed to its achievements and shaped its reputation, deserve to be celebrated as a part of that history, so that their efforts and accomplishments are remembered, and their spirit and ideals are passed on for those to come.

The exhibition “The Pan American University: The Original Spirit of the U Lives On” is on view on the first floor of Otto G. Richter Library through May 2016.

University of Miami’s First Campus

anastasia building

In coordination with the current Richter exhibition “This Space, This Place,” the University Archives is offering a mini exhibition titled “University of Miami’s First Campus” at the Special Collections Reading Room on the 8th floor of the library.

The featured item in the case is an appraisal report of the university properties from 1953. It contains a detailed map of Coral Gables that pinpoints the original location of the first campus of the university at the University Drive and Riviera Drive. The Anastasia Building was located there, which served as the home for administrative offices and classrooms of the University of Miami from 1926 through the late 1960s.

After the devastating hurricane of 1926 passed over South Florida, University officials knew that they would never be able to finish the Merrick Building and open on time, so they set their sights on the Anastasia Building, which was originally planned as a hotel but construction had been halted for lack of funds. The University leased the building and quickly installed room dividers to make the building function as a school. The building thus became known as the “Cardboard College.”

We hope this exhibition is going to be a good introduction for new students and employees to our collections and the university’s history and heritage.

exhibition case

Research on Diversity

Diversity is a very important research subject for us. The question keeps coming back several times a year with slightly different angles depending on who is asking for what kind of research project.

The publication we use most is a history book “The University of Miami: A Golden Anniversary History, 1926-1976” written by Dr. Charlton W. Tebeau, 1904-2000, who was a professor at the UM, Chairman of the History Department, and a prominent historian of Florida. The chapter 12 of the book “Desegregation, Integration, and Minority” provides a perfect overview of the subject with many interesting historical facts and images.

Title page of the book "The University of Miami: A Golden Anniversary History, 1926-1976"

Title page of the book “The University of Miami: A Golden Anniversary History, 1926-1976”

The University of Miami: A Golden Anniversary History, 1926-1976 in Richter’s Online Catalog

The Miami Hurricane, May 13, 1966 front page

The Miami Hurricane, May 13, 1966 front page

The Miami Hurricane is also an excellent source for news and events on the subject. You could read articles on student protests on campus. Martin Luther King was invited to the University for a lecture in 1966.

The Miami Hurricane Archive Online, May 17, 1968 article on student protest

The Miami Hurricane Archive Online, May 13, 1966 article on Dr. King visited the university

Benjamin Hooks, NAACP Executive Director, speaking at Black Culture Week

Benjamin Hooks, NAACP Executive Director, speaking at Black Culture Week

The UM Historical Photograph Collection can offer you effective visual images related to the subject, such as Dr. King’s memorial service held on campus in spring 1968 and the Black Culture Week held on campus in the 1970s.

Historical images taken at the Black Culture Week in the 1970s

List of black facluty found in the 1974-75 Malaika Handbook

List of black facluty found in the 1974-75 Malaika Handbook

Also, we hold a collection titled “Malaika” published in the 1970s and 1980s by the United Black Students of the university. I used this collection recently for a patron who was looking for pictures of black faculty in the past. We would love to archive additional materials like this one if available.

Malaika, handbook written by and for the Black Students and faculty of the University of Miami, 1972-1985

Richter's exhibition Truth Marches On

Richter’s exhibition Truth Marches On

Lastly, we would like to tell you we were proud to be a part of the research and exhibition effort for the Black History Month Exhibition held at the library for the first time this year. Please go to the link below for the subjects and exhibits presented at the exhibition. This wonderful website was created by my colleague Natapol Phensiriphand, Information Specialist, Education & Outreach department.

Themes and exhibits presented at Richter’s Black Heritage Month Exhibiton

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.


Hidden Collection Becomes a Digital Treasure

the carrell

The Carrell: Journal of the Friends of the University of Miami Library was published from 1960 to 1996 to promote Richter Library and its notable special collections.  It featured articles, poetry, and artwork by a range of contributors including Clark Mixon Emery , Theodore Bolton, Charlton Tebeau and many others.  The entire run of the journal was digitized in 2012 to commemorate Richter’s golden anniversary.

The Friends of the University of Miami Library, now called the Friends of the University of Miami Libraries, is a library support organization founded in 1960 by a group of University of Miami faculty, alumni, and community leaders.  The Friends play a vital role in supporting programs, securing gifts, and funding projects for the Libraries.  The first president was the renowned Everglades preservationist and author Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Digitization of rare and unique special collections has been one of the major initiatives of the University of Miami Libraries in the last decade.  It takes a library-wide collaboration assisted by Richter departments in preservation, digitization, metadata, and digital repository.  In the last few short years, the University Archives has made accessible The Miami Hurricane Archive Online and the University of Miami Historical Photograph Collection, which are among the most popular digital collections Richter offers.

Please go to the link below to browse and research the collection.