Archive for October, 2009

Middleton Library Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Friday, October 23rd, 2009
Middleton Library, c. 1960, illustration by Ben Looney.

Middleton Library, c. 1960, illustration by Ben Looney.

The LSU community celebrated the dedication of a new library on October 23, 1959.  To help mark the anniversary of this momentous occasion, LSU Libraries Special Collections has mounted  the mini-exhibition Troy H. Middleton Library: 50 Years of Service to LSU, now on display in Hill Memorial Library’s lecture hall.  The exhibition features the architects’ rendering, images of the library’s construction, and a pen and ink drawing of the completed library.  Also included are a narrative and photographs on the life of Troy H. Middleton for whom the library was renamed in 1979, and a brief history of technological change in the library.

Constructed  between April 1956 and August 1958, the LSU Library was designed by the architectural firm Bodman, Murrell & Smith and opened in September 1958.  According to a contemporary press release, the new library contained enough steel to build 1600 cars and enough concrete to build a three-foot-wide sidewalk from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.  Images on display give a glimpse at various phases of construction, from reinforcing the foundation to erecting the steel skeleton to assembling the stacks.  A pen-and-ink drawing by Ben Earl Looney shows the exterior of the completed structure, ca. 1960.

Troy H. Middleton became almost synonymous with LSU during his service to the University.  As a major in the U.S. Army, Middleton arrived on campus in 1930 to become commandant of ROTC cadets.  Middleton also served as assistant vice president of the University in the wake of the “University Scandals” in 1939 and comptroller until the end of 1941.  During the Second World War, Middleton ably served as a division and corps commander in the invasion of Sicily and Italy in 1943, the post-D-Day thrust through France and Belgium, in 1944, and as defender of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944-1945.  Middleton returned to service at LSU after the war as comptroller and in 1951, the Board of Supervisors elected him president of the University, an office he held until 1962. It was largely through Middleton’s efforts that the new library became a reality.  The library was officially named the Troy H. Middleton Library in 1979 after Middleton’s death.

Technological change in the library—covering the  evolution of both search techniques and material format—is illustrated in the display as well.  B. F. French’s five-volume Historical Collections of Louisiana is used to show the transitions from  card catalog to online catalog,  and from printed volumes to microfiche to CD-ROM and finally to web-only resources.

The exhibition runs through December 23, 2009.

More activities and exhibitions commemorating the 50th anniversary of the library’s dedication are taking place in Middleton Library. Visit for details.

LSU Photographs and more on La Digital Library

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

The LSU Libraries Special Collections has recently added the University Archives Digital Collections to the LOUISiana Digital Library.  Consisting of the University Archives Photograph Collection and the University Archives Printed Materials Collection, these materials provide a rich look into the University’s past.

Cadet Band group portrait 1912

Cadet band group portrait 1912

Items include photographs of buildings, the campuses, students and student life, athletic teams, bands, faculty and administrators, clubs, classes, and laboratories.  Also included are printed materials such as programs from anniversaries and commemorative events, promotional brochures, campus maps and plans, sheet music, and a seismogram.  More items will be added to both collections over time.

The University Archives Photograph Collection currently consists of 662 images dating from 1862 through 1936, focusing primarily on the period from 1885 to 1925. These include athletics (football, baseball, tennis, track and field, fencing, basketball, and playing fields) from 1894 to 1936; classes, classrooms, and laboratories (biology, bookkeeping, chemistry, entomology, zoology, veterinary science, English, drafting, civil engineering) from c. 1890 to 1936; graduating classes from 1871 to 1906; individual students and student groups from 1862 to 1918; faculty and administrators from 1862 to 1916; the Audubon Sugar School from 1887 to 1907; cadet life (drill, cadet bands, rifle and artillery firing) from 1890 to 1916; and the buildings and grounds of the downtown campus from 1887 to 1925.

Currently consisting of twenty items, the University Archives Printed Materials Collection includes programs commemorating campus events from LSU’s “semi-centennial” (fiftieth anniversary) in 1910, the dedication of the present campus in 1926, the fiftieth anniversary of coeducation at LSU (1956), Centennial events in 1959-1960, and April 30th at LSU: A Bicentennial Convocation Observing the 50th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Present Campus in 1976.  Also included are maps of the downtown campus from 1895 to 1908, maps of Williams Plantation (the land that became LSU’s present campus) from 1920 and University property in 1940, plans of the quadrangle from 1936 and 1975, a planimetric (horizontal features only without regard for topography) map of campus created in 1958, and a topographical survey of the Mississippi River created by the LSU Department of Civil Engineering in 1909. Other items include sheet music entitled L.S.U. Semi-Centennial Waltz composed for LSU’s fiftieth anniversary in 1910, promotional brochures entitled Louisiana State University Views and Activities 1936,

This is LSU

This is LSU

This Is LSU (1959), and a seismogram registering ground movement on October 8, 1988 caused by the cheering crowd after LSU’s game-winning score against Auburn in the “earthquake game” in Tiger Stadium.

The photographs can be searched by keyword and by such topics as athletics, cadet life, clubs and student activities, and college presidents and faculty, as well as by colleges and departments and campus buildings.  The printed materials are searchable by keyword.

Both collections can be viewed at:

Chords of Memory Symposium at Hill Memorial Library

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

archives_month_flyerIn recognition of 2009 American Archives Month, the staff of the Special Collections Department at Louisiana State University will host an afternoon symposium on Thursday October 29, 2009, from 3-5 p.m.  Chords of Memory: Archives at Hill and Beyond, will feature a panel of community scholars and writers discussing the role of archives and historical records in their professional and creative pursuits.  The panel includes Dr. J. Michael Desmond, Mary Ann Sternberg, Dr. Suzanne Marchand, and Dr. Richard White, followed by a Q&A session and refreshments.  The symposium will be held in the Hill Memorial Library Lecture Hall in Baton Rouge.

Desmond will describe his use of archival resources at Hill Memorial Library Special Collections for a recently completed architectural survey project of the original LSU campus, sponsored by the Getty Foundation.  Sternberg, the author of Winding Through Time: The Forgotten History and Present-Day Peril of Bayou Manchac (2007) and Along the River Road: Past and Present on Louisiana’s Historic Byway (2001), will offer a perspective on the non-professional uses of archives in popular historical research.  Marchand, author of German Orientalism in the Age of Empire (2009), will offer insights into conducting research at European archives repositories.  White, author of books on Huey Long, Theodore Roosevelt, and the forthcoming Will Rogers, A Political Biography (2010), will discuss archives and the writing of biography.

American Archives Month is a collaborative effort by professional organizations and repositories around the nation to highlight the importance of records of enduring value. Please join Special Collections in celebrating the American record and the often unheralded efforts to preserve our cultural resources and historical legacy at the national, state, and local levels.

For more information on the symposium, contact Brad Wiles at 225.578.7714 or

What Endures

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

The Williams Center for Oral History is launching its first podcast, “What Endures.” The first episode, “Politics and a Pulitzer” highlights the mission of the Williams Center and focuses on our namesake, Dr. T. Harry Williams.

Subsequent podcasts will be posted approximately every two weeks. Upcoming episodes are “Sin and Smoke: Stories of Our State” and “‘We Watched it All Wash Away:’ Oral Histories of Flood and Storm Survivors.” Additional podcasts will feature Louisiana’s struggle with civil rights, university history, women’s history in education, and Louisiana’s WWII veterans. The director will also interview professionals in the field of oral history along with some of the Center’s partners about their projects.

Please join us and enjoy!

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