Category Archives: Western Regional Archives

Housing 220 Drawings from a Black Mountain College Student

[This post was written by Kate Vukovich, conservation technician for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Don Page, a young man wearing glasses, sits at a vertical loom, weaving. The picture is taken through the warp threads of the loom.

Figure 1. Don Page, a young man wearing glasses, sits at a vertical loom, weaving. The picture is taken through the warp threads of the loom.

Black Mountain College was an experimental liberal arts college in Western North Carolina, active from 1933-1957. One of its students was Don Page, who went on to become an architect, graphic and interior designer, and artist. The Western Regional Archives (WRA) has a collection (PC.1924) of his drawing studies and textile designs from his time at Black Mountain College, 1936-1942. These drawings are done in mixed media, mostly on paper (with a couple on wood) and were stored in folders organized by genre, but needed new housing to stabilize them. Because many of the materials used to make the drawings are friable—pencil, ink, charcoal, pastels, and other similar media—placing many drawings together without interleaving had led to smudging and media wearing off onto adjacent drawings.

A collage of six images of varying sizes and genres from the collection. Three are studies of violins, two are flowers, and one is an abstract color study on wood.

Figure 2. A collage of six images of varying sizes and genres from the collection. Three are studies of violins, two are flowers, and one is an abstract color study on wood.

Ultimately, we decided on making sink mats to accommodate groups of 5-10 drawings, which remained sorted by genre as they had originally been. Sink mats are a type of mat

Figure 2. A collage of six images of varying sizes and genres from the collection. Three are studies of violins, two are flowers, and one is an abstract color study on wood.

Figure 2. A collage of six images of varying sizes and genres from the collection. Three are studies of violins, two are flowers, and one is an abstract color study on wood.

that allows for the pressure of the cover of the mat, and anything that might rest on top of the mat, to rest on the material of the mat and rather than on the items themselves. It also allows for storing multiple items or thicker works than a traditional window mat.   Because many of these drawings were made with friable media like charcoal and pencil, it was important to make sure that they wouldn’t wear on each other any more than they already had. We chose to use PhotoTex paper as interleaving between each drawing. PhotoTex is designed to be ultra-smooth to not abrade photographic materials, textiles, and works on paper. Its smoothness means there’s little friction for it to pick up friable media.

We constructed the mats out of archival quality corrugated cardboard, making hinges on two sides so the drawings could be removed easily, and making a cover out of heavyweight cardstock. This was hinged to the mat with linen tape. While the mat base and cover were cut to a standard size, each mat is custom-fit to the drawings within (you can see the differences in the sizes of the drawings in the images below!).

Figure 4. Two completed sink mats of the same size are placed next to each other. One holds a small set of drawings (about 9 inches by 12 inches) and the other a large set (about 19 by 23 inches), demonstrating how mats are custom built to different drawings.

Figure 4. Two completed sink mats of the same size are placed next to each other. One holds a small set of drawings (about 9 inches by 12 inches) and the other a large set (about 19 by 23 inches), demonstrating how mats are custom built to different drawings.

The completed mats—with interleaved drawings inside—are put in boxes for convenience and additional protection. Forty-eight sink mats were made for about 220 items.

Figure 5. Five boxes are stacked on a table. The top box’s lid is removed, so the contents (the completed sink mats) are visible. A ruler is included for scale: the boxes are 25 inches by 32 inches.

Figure 5. Five boxes are stacked on a table. The top box’s lid is removed, so the contents (the completed sink mats) are visible. A ruler is included for scale: the boxes are 25 inches by 32 inches.

The WRA finding aid for the Don Page Collection is here. If you want to learn more about Black Mountain College, check out the NCPedia article, the NC Archives Digital Black Mountain College Collection, and the WRA finding aids of the Black Mountain College collections.

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Treasures of Carolina: Pictogram Letter from Black Mountain College

PC_BMCPP_Blaine_Lorna_Rhebus_Letter_1941_001

Letter, 1942. Black Mountain College Project Papers, Western Regional Archives

 The first Wednesday of each month features a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.

 Black Mountain College operated from 1933 to 1957 in Black Mountain, N.C. and attracted leading artists, both in in this country and abroad, to their faculty including painter Robert Rauschenberg, composer John Cage, choreographer and dancer Merce Cunningham, sculptor Ruth Asawa, architect Buckminster Fuller, and artists Joseph and Anni Albers.

This first page excerpt is part of a four-page letter written by Lorna Blaine (later Halper), an artist who attended the college.  She wrote to her parents around 1942 using pictograms. Part of the excerpt reads, “Dear Mother and Dad, I really do not know how to thank you enough for the wonderful trip to Boca Grande. It even started off well on the train, that snappy Silver Meteor. Then all the tennis and swimming and sunbathing and loafing and food etc. Gosh but everything was so marvelous!”

 

Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition

Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our North Carolina Digital Collections in hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials. For the month of August our theme is school.

Erwin_Straus_Black_Mountain_College_faculty_19381945

Erwin Straus at Black Mountain College. BMC Research Project. Series VII (Visual Materials). Box 91. Folder:North Carolina Division of Archives and History – Straus, Erwin.

Erwin Straus, a German-American philosopher and psychologist, taught at Black Mountain College from 1938 through 1945.  A German refugee fleeing from the growing anti-Semitism promulgated through Hitler’s rise to power, Erwin Straus and his wife, Gertrud (who also taught at Black Mountain College) were part of the growing population of refugee faculty.

Faculty_meeting_Black_Mountain_College

A faculty meeting at Black Mountain College. From left to right: Robert Wunsch, Josef Albers, Heinrich Jalowetz, Theodore Dreier, Erwin Straus, unknown, Lawrence Kocher. Black Mountain College Records. Photographs. Folder 83.1.

With an emphasis in phenomenology (philosophical study of experience and consciousness) and neurology, Straus taught such courses as, “The Psychology of the Human World” and “Nicomachean Ethics.”  Erwin Straus was considered to be a serious teacher, a seeming rarity at Black Mountain College where professors were often known by their first or nicknames.  He was described by one student as, “… serious, humorless and on the extreme conservative side.”  Despite the somewhat reserved views held about him by the student population, he was influential in pioneering a holistic approach to medicine, treating the mind and body as a whole rather than just the individual symptoms.  Author of numerous books and articles, Straus’ works includes Language and Language Disturbances and On Obsession: A Clinical and Methodological Study.

Students Stun with WRA Commercial

Congratulations to the winning team in the 2016 UNCA Management Class 357 Ad Competition – Gaelle Wolff, Tammy Walsh, Alex Swendsen, and David Robertson worked to create a really amazing commercial promoting the Western Regional Archives!

This year the UNCA marketing professor, Dr. Cole, had his students create commercials focusing on regional historical and cultural sites.  The groups chose which entity they wanted to work with and lucky for the WRA, Gaelle, Tammy, Alex and David chose our facility for their project.

The group met with WRA staff for a tour and quick overview of the branch and resources and then hit the ground running.  They started discussions with the archivists on how to best showcase the archives and wanted to make sure it was inviting so that more folks commercial picwould come and explore the resources.   The students selected a variety of documents and images to best reflect the WRA but also to give the allusion of the passage of time.  All of the images and documents featured in the thirty second spot came from the WRA collections and the students did the scanning, storyboard, set up the time lapse video of the building, all on their own.  Their creative concept to have the commercial advance from black and white to color to show evolution of time and documents definitely won us over and we weren’t the only ones.

A local advertising company judged the final projects for the class and the WRA group spot won the top honor!  We now have a really cool introductory commercial we can use for social media, as introductions to presentations, and so much more.  The Western Regional Archives couldn’t be more proud of the final product and are grateful to UNCA, Dr. Cole, and Tammy, Gaelle, Alex and David for their hard work and helping us achieve better outreach and audience.

Check out the the Award-winning Archives Ad here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEyA3kyBa0k&feature=youtu.be 

World War I Era Parades

[This blog post comes from Sarah Downing, archivist at the Western Regional Archives]

Parade, Asheville, NC, 1918Between 1917 and 1919 Asheville hosted a number of parades to raise money for the war effort and to bolster public sentiment and patriotism.  Record-breaking crowds assembled to watch the processions.  The Western Regional Archives recently received a donation of photographs documenting at least two of these events.

Four days after President Wilson declared war on Germany, 25,000 people lined city streets on April 10, 1917 to watch a succession 5000-strong that was followed by a mass meeting featuring patriotic songs sung by Metropolitan opera star William Wade Hinshaw.

On May 20, 1918, approximately 7,000 people participated in a parade held in conjunction with the Red Cross’s Second War Drive. It was reported that the marchers moved at a quick pace and the entire procession took less than an hour.  With a national goal of $100 million, Buncombe County’s portion to collect was $32,000, nearly 2/3 of which was raised at the rally that followed. According to the Asheville Citizen, “practically every organization in the city and county was represented in the procession, from two or three representatives to several hundreds, all entering into the spirit of the occasion with enthusiasm.”

Parade, Asheville, NC, 1918The War Savings Parade, a “monster patriotic demonstration,” was held Saturday June 22, 1918. No motorized vehicles were allowed in order to save gas.  In addition to military marchers were policemen, nurses, soldiers stationed at Kenilworth (some carried stretchers as a poignant reminder of those in the trenches in Europe), the Asheville Reserve Infantry, the Rotary Club and groups of the Central Labor Union. Industries of the Biltmore Estate were represented by marchers carrying pitch forks, hoes and rakes. Dairy workers carried bottles of milk. At the conclusion, a concert was given at Pack Square by the 31-piece Camp Wadsworth band from Spartanburg, South Carolina.

September 27, 1918 was the day of the Liberty Loan Parade.  The Asheville Chapter of the American Red Cross had a large representation since local organizations had been so supportive of the Red Cross. All participants were asked to display an American flag, no matter how small.

Asheville mayor J.F. Rankin declared a holiday on April 29, 1919 for the opening day of the drive for the Victory Liberty Loan.  Medical detachments including nurses, bands, ambulances and mounted staff from both Azalea and Kenilworth hospitals marched with the Asheville Reserve Infantry, Red Cross Canteen workers and 350 tannery men from Hans Rees & Sons.

Parade, Asheville, NC, 1918

Patriotic parades were also held in Hendersonville, Waynesville, Hickory, and towns across North Carolina and America.

“Extra! Extra! Learn all about It” Workshop at the Western Office to Feature Online Newspapers

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Cultural Resources press release – you can find other news related to NC Cultural Resources here.]

Western Carolinian issue Nov. 6, 1821ASHEVILLE, N.C – Did you ever wonder what was going on in the headlines on the day you were born? Do you want to uncover history from primary resources? Would you like to learn about newspaper collections available online and how to use and use them? The Western Regional Archives is offering a special workshop Extra! Extra! Learn All About It! that will explore some useful databases for accessing online newspapers. The hour-long program on Tuesday, February 16th from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. is suitable for researchers, teachers, students, genealogists and those interested in gaining an insight into where to start when researching and is free and open to the public. Participants are asked to bring suggested topics of interest that will be investigated during the workshop.

Extra! Extra! Learn All About It! will be conducted by archivist, Sarah Downing of the Western Regional Archives. A certified North Carolina librarian, Downing has been with the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources for over 20 years, and joined the staff at the Western Office a year ago. She enjoys helping patrons fulfill their research requests and conducting historical research with old newspapers. Sarah honed her skills while writing several books for The History Press and wanted to share what she has learned.

The Western Office of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources is located at 176 Riceville Road, Asheville, N.C.  For additional information, please call (828) 296-7230, email sarah.downing@ncdcr.gov, or visit http://www.ncdcr.gov/westernoffice.

 

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources 

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C.  Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, the State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the Natural Heritage Program. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.

Photographs, Maps, and Blueprints Added to the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Digital Collection at NCDC!

8063rd M.A.S.H., Korea, 1952 (Call no. PC.2014)

8063rd M.A.S.H., Korea, 1952 (Call no. PC.2014)

To create the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Digital Collection, part of North Carolina Digital Collections, we have drawn material from over 50 records series and collections held by the State Archives of North Carolina including: State Agency Records, Private Collections, Photograph Collections, Organization Records, General Assembly Records, and Map Collections. The third of three installments of the STEM Digital Collection is now available, and includes items from the following private and photograph collections:

Dr. William Thornton on Space Shuttle Challenger, 1983 (Call no. PC.2054)

Dr. William Thornton on Space Shuttle Challenger, 1983 (Call no. PC.2054)

  • Albert Barden Negative Collection (N.53)
  • Carolina Power and Light Co. Photograph Collection (PhC.68)
  • George Marion Cooper Photograph Collection (PhC.41)
  • William Thornton Collection (PC.2054)
  • Fessenden, Reginald A., Papers (PC.1140)
  • General Negative Collection. Audio Visual Materials Photographic Collections (MARS Id: 4 (Record Group))
  • George Alton Stewart Collection (PC.1752.1-2)
  • Museum of Art Record Group. Black Mountain College Research Project. Visual Materials (MARS Id: 61.12.8 (Sub Series))
  • North Carolina Colony and State Maps (MC.150)
  • North Carolina Maps. Individual Watercourses (MC.167)
  • Olsen Associates (Consulting Engineers) Photograph Collection (PhC.47)
  • Robert C. Ruiz Papers (PC.2014)

    Corn grown with and without Corn Till Nitrogen Irrigation, circa 1973 (Call no. PhC68.1.219.1-34)

    Corn, circa 1973 (Call no. PhC68.1.219.1-34)

  • W. “Bud” White Southern Bell Telephone Company Photograph Collection (PhC.157)

To search for additional STEM resources at the State Archives of North Carolina, visit our MARS online catalog.

To learn more about Science, Technology, and Innovation in North Carolina, check out this list of articles that can be found at NCpedia.

To learn more about Scientists and Inventors in North Carolina, check out this list of biographies that can be found at NCpedia.

Transatlantic Radio Sending Station Circuit, 1906 (Call no. PC.1140.32)

Transatlantic Radio Sending Station Circuit, 1906 (Call no. PC.1140.32)

Free Dental Clinic, Davidson, N.C., 1923 (Call no. PhC.41)

Free Dental Clinic, Davidson, N.C., 1923 (Call no. PhC.41)