Queens College Library Acquires Barbara Rosenthal Archives

Headshot of Barbara Rosenthal
Barbara Rosenthal
Photo by Rhys Votano

The archival collection of influential cross-media artist Barbara Rosenthal ’75, “Old Master of New Media,” has been acquired by Queens College CUNY in a combined sale and donation facilitated by a generous patron. The artist’s materials are being organized and transported in stages to the newly renovated Charles and Szilvia Tanenbaum Special Collections and Archives Wing within the Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library.

Born in the Bronx, Barbara Rosenthal—no relation to the library’s namesake—studied at numerous local institutions, including the Arts Students League of New York and New York University, before completing a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. At Queens College, she earned an MFA in painting. In the decades since she graduated, she built up an international career, holding solo exhibitions and residencies across North America and Europe and winning acclaim for her distinctive photography, installations, and performance art.

“Barbara Rosenthal’s lifetime of record-keeping, notes, drafts, versions, and materials for every project in many media, plus household and moment-to-moment life-recording and professional correspondences, holds enormous value for current and future generations of artists and researchers,” said Annie Tummino, Head of Special Collections and Archives. “Her archives are revelatory of the creative process in ways unique among our archival collections.”

Watch Rosenthal speak about her work, archival collection, and the acquisition here:

 

Stories from the Civil Rights Archives: The Queens College Student Help Project of 1963

Event: Thursday, December 9, 2021, 4 – 5PM EST

Queens College is known for its involvement in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, especially the Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964. A year earlier, a lesser known, but no less important project took place, when 16 volunteers from the Queens College Student Help Project traveled to Prince Edward County, Virginia to tutor Black children who were shut out of public schools due to massive resistance to desegregation. There, they lent support to a long struggle for equal education dating back to the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954 and local, student-led activism for better schools.

In this presentation, primary sources from the archives will bring to life this important history, as documented through a year-long oral history initiative made possible by the Freda S. and J. Chester Johnson Civil Rights & Social Justice Archives Fellowship Program at the Queens College Library. Initiators/alumni of the Student Help Project will also join the event for the Q and A.

ANNIE TUMMINO is an assistant professor and head of Special Collections and Archives at the Queens College Library, where she manages over 5,000 linear feet of college records, personal papers, and rare books. She is particularly interested in preserving the social movement history of Queens College and connecting it to today’s activists and students. She received a master’s in library and information studies from Queens College in 2010 and a master’s in maritime studies from SUNY Maritime College in 2020.

VICTORIA FERNANDEZ is the museum coordinator at the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center at Queensborough Community College CUNY, where she helps develop and revise exhibition content, instruct student programming, manage library and archival collections, and facilitate interactions with their Holocaust survivor support group. She graduated from Queens College in 2021 with a dual master’s degree in history and library science (MLS/MA) after receiving a BA in history and political science from the Macaulay Honors College at QC in 2018. She has held several positions within the field of archives, most recently serving as the 2020– 2021 Freda S. and J. Chester Johnson Civil Rights and Social Justice Archives Fellow at the Queens College Department of Special Collections and Archives.

Sponsored by the Office of Institutional Advancement

Processing 2020/21: Community Reflections

Timely, online programming presented by the Queens College Library’s Special Collections and Archives in Collaboration with Queens Memory.

Scroll down to view the live stream recordings of each event. 


Art and Archives: Creativity During COVID-19

Tuesday November 16 from 4:00pm-5:30pm

How do art and archives intersect? In this roundtable discussion, participants will discuss creative projects undertaken during COVID-19, and their connections to primary sources and archival repositories. Livestreamed on https://www.facebook.com/queensmemory.

Chair: Annie Tummino, Assistant Professor, Head of Special Collections and Archives, Queens College

Panelists:

  • Edisa Weeks, Director of DELIRIOUS Dances and Acting Chair of the Queens College Department of Drama, Theatre & Dance;
  • Members of the What Will the Neighbors Say? Investigative Theatre Company, Artists-In-Residence at Queens College;
  • Joyce LeeAnn, Certified Archivist, Interdisciplinary Artist, and founder of Archival Alchemy®.

Co-sponsored by the Kupferberg Center for the Arts, the Queens College Department of Drama, Theater, and Dance, and Social Practice CUNY.


 

Surviving & Thriving: Black and Latinx Faculty, Staff, and Students on Campus

Tuesday, October 19th from 4:00pm-5:30pm

What does it take for Black and Latinx faculty, staff, and students to not only survive but thrive in higher education? Join us for a roundtable discussion and presentation of oral history clips from the archives. Livestreamed on https://www.facebook.com/queensmemory.

Co-sponsored by the Queens College SEEK Program and Black Latinx Faculty Staff Association. 

Chair: Obden Mondesir, Associate Director, Barnard Archives and Adjunct Instructor in the Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies.

Panelists:

  • Norka Blackman-Richards, Director of the Queens College Percy E. Sutton SEEK Program;
  • Marco Navarro, Lecturer in English and Director of The Writing Center, Queens College;
  • Nathaniel Smith, Director of NYC Men Teach at The City University of New York, Queens College.
  • Jessica Alejandro, Queens College Graduate student majoring in Special Education 1-6

Documenting a Pandemic: What We’ve Learned

Tuesday, October 5th from 4:00pm-5:30pm

Members of the Queens Memory Project will discuss lessons from the COVID-19 Project, and how they worked together as a team to incorporate the diverse voices of our borough and campus into the archives during this momentous period in history. Livestreamed on https://www.facebook.com/queensmemory.

Chair: Annie Tummino, Assistant Professor, Head of Special Collections and Archives, Queens College

Panelists:

  • Meral Agish, Queens Memory Community Coordinator;
  • Obden Mondesir, Associate Director of the Barnard Archives and Adjunct Instructor, Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies;
  • Dacia Metes, Queens Public Library Digital Archives Manager;
  • Jo-Ann Wong, Librarian, Queens Public Library, Hunters Point.

SCA Lightning Talk: Disruption, Transition, Adaptation

Wondering what Special Collections and Archives (SCA) has been up to during the pandemic? Check out our recorded lighting round for the New York Archives Conference, “Disruption, Transition, Adaptation: Archivists Working Under COVID-19” featuring staff, interns, and fellows associated with the department over the last year and a half. I’m very proud of our work during this time, as well as how we supported each other as a team.  

YouTube playlist

“Romaniote Memories” Digital Exhibit Launched

In 1999, photographer Vincent Giordano made an unplanned visit to the small Kehila Kedosha Janina (KKJ) synagogue on New York’s Lower East Side. He knew little about Judaism or synagogues, and even less about the Romaniote Jewish tradition of which KKJ, built in 1927, is the lone North American representative. In this he was not alone. Romaniotes are among the least known of Jewish communities. Beginning in 2001 and guided by members of the KKJ community, Giordano documented the synagogue and its religious art of the congregation using film, video, and audio. This included trips to Greece to document KKJ’s mother city of Ioannina, and its small Jewish community. 

In 2019 the Giordano family donated the archive of Vincent’s work to Queens College, where it is a major part of the Hellenic American Project and is preserved as part of the Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library’s Special Collections and Archives. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Special Collections and Archives has not yet processed the physical materials in the Vincent Giordano collection. Fortunately, we were able to use scans of Giordano’s prints and negatives to create a new online exhibit Romaniote Memories, a Jewish Journey from Ioannina, Greece to Manhattan: Photographs by Vincent Giordano.” Many of these images have never been presented in public before.

The exhibition is curated by Samuel Gruber, President of the International Survey of Jewish Monuments and designed by Annie Tummino, Head of Special Collections and Archives, Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library. The opening reception, featuring a conversation with curators, distinguished guests, and friends, will take place via Zoom on Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 5 pm (register here). 

The exhibition is sponsored by the Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library, Hellenic American Project, and Center for Jewish Studies at Queens College, as well as the International Center for Jewish Monuments, an independent non-profit organization. The Library and Center for Jewish Studies will be teaming up to offer a paid internship for a student to help process and catalog the Giordano collection during the next academic year.

Return of the Rare Books!

Did you know that the Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library is home to a collection of over 2000 rare books and manuscripts, the scope of which reflects the history of print culture over the past 600 years? Due to an unfortunate flood in the storage room where this collection was held, the materials became hazardous and were inaccessible for over a decade. Now, due to the generosity of Shirley Klein, a life-long bibliophile and loyal friend of Queens College, the entire collection has been remediated and will once again become an asset for the campus community.

Highlights of the collection include a 13th century manuscript copy of the medieval Persian poet Sa’di’s The Gulistan, 11 editions of Cervantes’ Don Quixote de la Mancha including the first edition printed in English in 1620, and three part-publications of Dickens novels including Dombey and Son (1848). There are over 600 titles of juvenile fiction from the late 19th to the first half of the 20th century, and many books autographed by the author, including some major ones, such as Graham Greene, Aldous Huxley, Virginia Woolf, Jack Kerouac, and José María Arguedas.

In December the books were taken offsite, where trained technicians used advanced HEPA vacuums, chemical treatments, and other specialized cleaning techniques to remove mold from each of the 2,500 books, rendering them safe for access. The collection was originally slated for return in April, but the library was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, on September 18th, the rare books made their triumphant return to Rosenthal, delivered to our brand-new, climate controlled storage space on nine pallets. 

Much work remains to be done to ensure that the collection is properly housed, shelved, and cataloged. For now, we celebrate the books’ return and express our gratitude to Shirley Klein for providing the library with resources needed to save the collection. Those who want a sneak peak can peruse digitized selections of more recent donations (unaffected by water damage) at https://www.jstor.org/site/queenscollegearchives/rarebooks/

New Digital Platform for Special Collections and Archives

Queens College Library is proud to launch a new digital platform for its Special Collections and Archives in partnership with the JSTOR Open Community Collections initiative. The site launches with close to 700 digital objects from our civil right collections, institutional archives, and rare books and manuscripts. The content is openly accessible on the web through JSTOR, a scholarly database used by more than 81 million scholars and students across 170 countries and territories every year. 

Working remotely this fall, Special Collections and Archives staff will catalog and upload hundreds of additional items to the site. Intern Kuba Pieczarski (funded by the Félix V. Matos Rodríguez Internship Fund) is expanding the new COVID-19 Collection documenting the experience of the Queens College community during the pandemic; Graduate Fellow Victoria Fernandez (funded by the Freda S. and J. Chester Johnson Endowment) is working with civil rights movement materials; and Archives Assistant and recent GSLIS graduate Caitlin Waldron is posting images of the campus through the decades. 

The collections benefit from JSTOR’s features and interface, including full-text search; citation management tools; filtering and faceting; content download; and sharing. Make sure to check out the site at https://www.jstor.org/site/queenscollegearchives/, including the Silhouette yearbook form 1941-2011; original photographs documenting the involvement of Queens College students in the Civil Rights Movement of the early to mid 1960s; rare manuscripts from our “Pages from the Past” collection; and the scrapbooks of Dr. Andrew Greller, Professor Emeritus of Biology.

You can learn more about the JSTOR Open Community Collections initiative at https://about.jstor.org/whats-in-jstor/open-community-collections/.

Rosenthal Library Archives Fellow & GSLIS graduate Jeanie Pai wins SAA Award

Queens College Library is proud to announce that Jeanie Pai, who served as a Graduate Fellow in Special Collections and Archives over the 2019-2020 academic year, is the 2020 recipient of the Donald Peterson Student Travel Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). As announced by SAA: 

Established in 2005, the Donald Peterson Student Travel Award supports students and recent graduates from graduate archival programs within North America to attend SAA’s Annual Meeting. The goal of the scholarship is to stimulate greater participation in the activities of SAA, such as presenting research or actively participating in an SAA-sponsored committee or section. 

Pai is a recent graduate of the Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. Her SAA poster presentation is entitled, Paper Sons of the Chinese Exclusion Era. It describes her research into the history and experiences of paper sons, and how they contributed to the shaping of Chinese American communities. Her interests lie in emerging issues of inclusion and access, particularly toward resources for disadvantaged groups that are historically misrepresented. She is committed to recognizing the gaps in collections, and exploring honest ways to preserve the history of marginalized groups, including what archival materials to collect, how it is described, and who has access to the records. Pai’s belief is that active inclusion allows archivists to create democratic spaces where people of all backgrounds have agency and representation.

A supporter of Pai states, “She is genuinely motivated by the core values of social justice, ethics, inclusion, and access and will continue to be guided by them in her career.”

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Pai is pictured (right) with Archives Fellow Tom Gubernat at the Memory Lab Bootcamp in Washington DC in January 2020. Pai and Gubernat’s Archives Fellowships in the Queens College LIbrary were funded by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

Model Minority vs. COVID-19 and #BLM

In Case You Missed It: Model Minority vs. COVID-19

On June 17, the Queens College Library partnered with the Queens Public Library to host a Queens Memory COVID-19 Project event, Model Minority vs. COVID-19: Education Through Crisis, for Asians In America.” This virtual roundtable was moderated by incoming Queens College president Frank Wu, author of Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White, and co-sponsored by the Asian/American Center at Queens College, and the Asian American/Asian Research Institute – CUNY. Panelists included Professor Joyce Moy, Executive Director of the Asian American and Asian Research Institute; Dr. Madhulika Khandelwal, Director of Asian/American Center; Dr. Vivian Louie, Director of the Asian American Studies Program and Center at Hunter College; and Dr. John Chin, Professor of Urban Policy and Planning and Director of the Graduate Urban Planning Program at Hunter College. Panelists had a fruitful discussion of the “model minority” myth, the current higher educational experience for Asians in America, racism during the pandemic, and how Asians in America can provide ally-ship and solidarity to other groups experiencing racial oppression.

The event can now be viewed on the Queens Memory streaming platform: click here!

Resource: Asian American Community Collaboration, Support and Advocacy on BLM and Killing of George Floyd

Compiled by Antony Wong, Program Coordinator, Asian American/Asian Research Institute (AAARI) City University of New York (This is not intended to be an exhaustive list)

Resources for Asian Americans Against Anti-Black Racism

  • Asian Americans Supporting the Black Community — An Explainer and Resources (link)
  • Resources for the Asian American Community on Anti-Blackness (Asian Americans Advancing Justice) (link)
  • Meet the Asian Americans helping to uproot racism in their communities (link)
  • 75 ways Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are speaking out for Black lives (link)

Organizations with Statements Regarding George Floyd/Black Lives Matter

Co-Endorsing Organizations of Movement for Black Lives (M4BL)

  • Asian Solidarity Collective
  • AAPIs for Civic Empowerment
  • Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance – APALA
  • Can’t Stop! Won’t Stop! Consulting
  • NAKASEC
  • Southeast Asian Freedom Network
  • 18 Million Rising
  • Equality Labs
  • Grassroots Asians Rising
  • Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
  • The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)
  • PICO California
  • Providence Youth Student Movement
  • HANA Center
  • Khmer Anti-deportation Advocacy Group
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago
  • Japanese American Citizens League
  • OCA-Asian American Advocates (East Bay)
  • Asian American Advocacy Fund
  • Filipino Advocates for Justice
  • MinKwon Center for Community Action
  • Asian Law Alliance
  • Asian Americans United
  • South Asian Americans Leading Together
  • APIENC (API Equality – Northern California)
  • Khmer Girls in Action
  • VietRISE
  • Oakland Asian Cultural Center
  • National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
  • CAA Chinese for Affirmative Action
  • Ahri Center
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Asian Law Caucus
  • The People’s Collective for Justice and Liberation
  • VietAID
  • National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD)
  • AZ AANHPI for Equity
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta

More about the Queens Memory COVID-19 Project

Learn more about this community archiving project and how you can contribute your stories, photographs, and videos here