Sneak Peek: Processing the Alexander Kouguell Papers

By Pamela Padilla 

Wondering what an archivist does? In this post, Pamela Padilla, the library’s Shirley Klein Rare Book and Manuscripts Graduate Fellow, provides a sneak peek of her work processing the Alexander Kouguell Papers. Kouguell, a world-class cellist, taught at Queens College for over 68 years and sadly passed away on October 2, 2022. He donated his papers to the Queens College Library just a couple of months ago, in August 2022. 

Most librarians will agree that archival science is an important branch of library work, but despite the deference there is often the question of what exactly an archivist does. There are many aspects to an archivists’ profession such as reference work, collections care, and management of new/existing material, but today I will be focusing on processing—an invaluable part of collections care.

This was the case with the Alexander Kouguell collection, which required extensive processing. Not every collection has these processing demands, but the Alexander Kouguell Collection is diverse not only in its content but its mediums. Music manuscripts required rehousing, documents required de-framing, and photographs required sleeving. Several scrapbooks had to be vacuumed to mitigate any risk of mold, and their contents were well worth saving. 

Dr. Kouguell’s career as a professor at Queens College began in the 1940’s and lasted over 60 years, with an additional 10 as an adjunct lecturer. His collection offers its viewer a snapshot of his life, from his honeymoon photos to his participation in Queens Colleges faculty orchestra throughout his tenure, but his extensive career as a cellist also offers a cultural snapshot of NYC throughout half a century. The preservation of his life and history serve as a reminder of the impact that can be made by a singular person. 

It’s usually the case that people unfamiliar with the profession may ask “Why rehouse anything? Aren’t the folders/envelopes/plastic slips that these materials come in enough?” and our answer to that is that they usually aren’t. Photographic negatives, photographs themselves, or oversized papers aren’t typically argued against when discussing rehousing, but even paper requires special care. Paper isn’t what it used to be and hasn’t been since the mid 19th century—its lower quality leads to an inevitable yellowing and breakdown due to acid hydrolysis, or the breaking down of the cellulose that keeps the paper together. This process threatens paper and its contents. 

The processing of collection often begins before the first object is rehoused. That is, it begins with the acquisition. An archivist ensures that their institution has an appropriate level of copyright and intellectual control through of a deed of gift. By ensuring the proper acquisition of a collection from a donor through a mutually agreed upon deed of gift (assuming the donor is one outside of the institution), an archivist has begun the processing of this collection.  

The processing of an archival collection takes time, patience, and (surprisingly enough) a bit of elbow grease. It’s how we rehouse our materials to maximize their longevity and how institutions ensure they have the intellectual control needed to make collections accessible. 

Pamela Padilla is a second-year candidate in the Dual Degree program in Library Science and History (MLS/MA), pursuing a Certificate in Archives and Preservation of Cultural Materials. Padilla is one of three graduate students participating in the Archives Fellowship Program at Queens College Library over the 2022-2023 academic year. Fellows carry out real-world projects in Special Collections and Archives, receiving stipends, mentorship, and professional development opportunities.

Library Student Survey a Success: Three Prizewinners Announced

by Max Thorn, Instruction Librarian and Carlo Minchillo, Research & Information Services Librarian

Students in front of library

The Queens College Library (QCL) cares about serving students better. That’s why we recently undertook a survey asking students about their experiences using the library. We kicked off the survey with two events in the library asking students to fill out the survey—and handed out hundreds of snacks as we talked with students! Then we emailed the survey to the campus community and kept it open for two weeks. In the end, we received 1,475 responses! It’s safe to say this represents our largest sample of student feedback in living memory. Three lucky respondents were randomly selected to each win a grand prize of $50 cash card and a bag of QC merch. Congratulations to Eden Barzvi, Hagar Masboob, and Caleb Carman!

Ask Us

As the semester draws to a close, are you having trouble with a research paper? On our “Ask Us” page you’ll find options to reach a librarian via 24/7 chat, text, email, and face-to-face appointments. Whether it’s Psychology 101 or anything in between, we have research guides to help you with your subject!

Finals are coming right up, and with it our popular 24-hour library service from December 13 at 8 a.m. until December 21 at 8 p.m.

Our sincere thanks to everyone who filled out our survey. Your feedback will help us better serve you this academic year and beyond.

Upcoming Event: Research in Praxis Discussion Series with Emily Drabinksi

The Queens College Library is co-sponsoring with the Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies a Research in Praxis Discussion Series with Emily Drabinksi, Critical Pedagogy Librarian at the CUNY Graduate Center and President-Elect of the American Library Association, who will give a talk entitled, Essential to the Public: Libraries at the End of the World. The event will take place on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 at 5pm.

RiPDS Poster FA22 Emily Drabinsk

A Queen at Queens: Her Majesty Diambi visits Queens College

On Thursday, November 17, 2022, Her Majesty Queen Diambi Kabatusuila Tshiyoyo Muata of the Democratic Republic of Congo visited Queens College campus. A CUNY alumna—she holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of Staten Island—Queen Diambi stopped by the lab of Maral Tajerian and Sebastian Alvarado (Biology) and joined a reception in her honor in the library.

Video of Her Majesty Queen Diambi Visit

Read more about the visit in The QView.

Celebrating Diversity: National Disability Employment Awareness Month

by Max Thorn, Substitute Instruction Librarian

The QC Library celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month! Led by the United States Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, this annual initiative, celebrated in October since 1945, recognizes people with disabilities as part of an inclusive workforce. The 2022 theme is “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.”

Persons of working age with a disability are unemployed at a much higher rate than persons without a disability, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They are also more likely to be employed part-time, in the service industry, or self-employed. What do scholars make of these phenomena? What do the experiences of people with disabilities say about equity (or the lack thereof) in workplaces? Or about the very ideas of productivity and work? To find out, dive into the National Disability Employment Awareness Month page in our new Disability Studies research guide.

But work is only one small part of the picture. This month also marks the publication of our research guide for Disability Studies generally. As an interdisciplinary field emerging in the late 20th-century along the lines of Gender Studies or Latino Studies, Disability Studies uses a variety of methodologies to analyze the meanings attributed to human differences, whether bodily or mental. People with disabilities have been at the forefront of both activism and scholarship that challenge the idea of what’s “normal,” and the attendant social exclusions that hide behind that idea. Especially significant have been disabled persons’ activism and theorizing around the disconnect between human beings and the built environment (think of curb cuts, ramps, elevators) in pursuit of equity for everyone. Radical scholars in disability studies have long positioned their research in the wider context of human liberation from all forms of oppression.

Here are some highlights from the Disability Studies research guide:

No Right to Be Idle: the Invention of Disability, 1840s-1930s by Sarah F. Rose
ISBN: 9781469630083
Publication Date: 2017-04-03

“During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Americans with all sorts of disabilities came to be labeled as ‘unproductive citizens.’ […] By tracing the experiences of policymakers, employers, reformers, and disabled people caught up in this epochal transition, Rose masterfully integrates disability history and labor history. She shows how people with disabilities lost access to paid work and the status of ‘worker’–a shift that relegated them and their families to poverty and second-class economic and social citizenship. This has vast consequences for debates about disability, work, poverty, and welfare in the century to come.”

Disabled People, Work and Welfare: Is Employment Really the Answer? by Chris Grover (Editor); Linda Piggott (Editor)
ISBN: 9781447318361
Publication Date: 2015-07-01

“This is the first book to challenge the concept of paid work for disabled people as a means to ‘independence’ and ‘self determination’. Recent attempts in many countries to increase the employment rates of disabled people have actually led to an erosion of financial support for many workless disabled people and their increasing stigmatisation as ‘scroungers’. Led by the disability movement’s concern with the employment choices faced by disabled people, this controversial book uses sociological and philosophical approaches, as well as international examples, to critically engage with possible alternatives to paid work.”

Crip Times: Disability, Globalization, and Resistance by Robert McRuer
ISBN: 9781479874156
Publication Date: 2018-01-16

“Contends that disability is a central but misunderstood element of global austerity politics. Broadly attentive to the political and economic shifts of the last several decades, Robert McRuer asks how disability activists, artists and social movements generate change and resist the dominant forms of globalization in an age of austerity, or ‘crip times.'”

Sex, Identity, Aesthetics by Jina B. Kim (Editor); Joshua Kupetz (Editor); Crystal Yin Lie (Editor); Cynthia Wu (Editor)
ISBN: 9780472902477
Publication Date: 2021-10-12

“‘Sex, Identity, Aesthetics: The Work of Tobin Siebers and Disability Studies’ uses Siebers’ work as a launchpad for thinking about contemporary disability studies. The editors provide an overview of Siebers’ research to show how it has contributed to humanistic understandings of ability and disability along three key axes: sex, identity, and aesthetics.”

The Disability Rights Movement by Doris Fleischer; Frieda Zames
ISBN: 9781439907443
Publication Date: 2011-06-03

“The authors provide a probing analysis of such topics as deinstitutionalization, housing, health care, assisted suicide, employment, education, new technologies, disabled veterans, and disability culture. Based on interviews with over one hundred activists, The Disability Rights Movement is a complex and compelling story of an ongoing movement that seeks to create an equitable and diverse society, inclusive of people with disabilities.”

Academic Ableism by Jay T. Dolmage
ISBN: 9780472900725
Publication Date: 2017-12-05

“Academic Ableism brings together disability studies and institutional critique to recognize the ways that disability is composed in and by higher education, and rewrites the spaces, times, and economies of disability in higher education to place disability front and center. […] Examining everything from campus accommodation processes, to architecture, to popular films about college life, Dolmage argues that disability is central to higher education, and that building more inclusive schools allows better education for all.”

The Disability Studies Reader by Lennard J. Davis (Editor)

ISBN: 9781138930223

Publication Date: 2016-11-01

“The fifth edition of The Disability Studies Reader addresses the post-identity theoretical landscape by emphasizing questions of interdependency and independence, the human-animal relationship, and issues around the construction or materiality of gender, the body, and sexuality. […] The collection addresses physical disabilities, but as always investigates issues around pain, mental disability, and invisible disabilities as well.”

Farewell to Alexandra deLuise – Associate Professor & Associate Librarian for Research & Instructional Services  

by Simone Yearwood, Interim Associate Dean & Chief Librarian

Alexandra de Luise

After 30 years of Service to Queens College, Alexandra de Luise has decided to retire.  Alexandra began working at Queens College, Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library in 1991, as the Art Librarian.  Over the years, Alexandra has played many roles serving as the Coordinator of Instruction and more recently, Coordinator of Reference and Instruction.  Her final role as the Associate Librarian for Research & Instructional Services. Alexandra oversaw Research Services operations, managing and supervising the delivery of assistance in multiple formats to students, faculty, staff, and the community. She worked collaboratively in devising best practices for research instruction to Queens College students, especially at the first-year level, and was a regular instructor to ENG110 and SEEK, and to undergraduate classes that include ENG130, EURO120, ITAL41W, and FR41W. She was an instructor for LIBR170, the Library’s three-credit research, and writing course. She has served as a mentor to many junior colleagues. 

Her areas of Collection Development included: French, Italian, and Modern Greek languages & literatures; Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, and Italian American Studies. 

During her retirement, Alexandra will finally have time to enjoy her hobbies of interest, watching an independent film, taking in an exhibit, visiting family, and keeping up with her Italian language skills. 

Congratulations, Alexandra. You deserve this next chapter in your life. Thank you for your service to the library and college. While we are happy for you, we are saddened by your departure and the loss of your stellar service to our faculty, students, staff, and library colleagues. I applaud you on a career well done! 

Treasures from Special Collections and Archives: QC Faculty and Staff Oral History Project 

By Lori Wallach, Adjunct Archivist and Queens Memory Outreach Coordinator 

One of the primary functions of a college archive is to preserve and make accessible a record of the school’s past – its institutional history. At Special Collections and Archives (SCA), we do this through a variety of collections, such as those containing yearbooks; student publications; administrative records of numerous departments, schools, and programs; and items donated by individual faculty members and alumni. Of course, our Photograph Collection, which we are in the process of digitizing, provides an especially rich documentation of the college from its very earliest days.

Over the past several years, we’ve made a concerted effort to expand another type of institutional history – our oral history collection. Through our ongoing Queens Memory partnership with the Queens Public Library, we’re able to preserve both audio and video recordings and make them easily accessible to the public. These oral history interviews provide a fascinating firsthand look into the college’s history in the words and voices of those who lived and shaped it.

In 2019, we embarked on the Retired Faculty & Staff Oral History Project, an ambitious plan with two goals: 1) to actively pursue interviews with retired QC faculty, staff and administrators, and 2) to comb through our collections and solicit donations of earlier interviews that can be formatted for online access. Dr. Dean Savage, retired professor of sociology, has been instrumental in helping us locate many of his fellow QC retirees.

An important addition to our oral history collection is a set of interviews conducted in one of Dr. Bobby Wintermute’s history classes in 2013, to commemorate Queens College’s 75th anniversary. Dr. Wintermute donated the recordings and supporting documentation to SCA, and to date, we’ve processed and made accessible nine interviews, with several more to go. We were particularly delighted to find recordings with former QC President Saul Cohen and longtime history professor Dr. Martin Pine, both of whom have since passed on.

In this clip, former QC President Saul Cohen explains how he appealed directly to then-Governor Mario Cuomo for funding to construct a new building for the Aaron Copland School of Music.

Bette Weidman
Dr. Bette Weidman Founder of Oral History at QC

Among the important interviews in our collection are those with QC’s oral history pioneer Dr. Bette Weidman; Prof. Alexander Kouguell, who taught in QC’s music program for 68 years and recently celebrated his 102nd birthday; 50-year history professor and civil rights activist Dr. Frank Warren; and former QC President James Muyskens. Our current President Frank Wu and immediate past President William Tramontano also recorded interviews as part of our COVID-19 Project.

William Sales
Dr. William Sales
Former SEEK Director

Another component of our oral history collection comes from SCA’s larger SEEK History Project, which documents the history of QC’s Percy Ellis Sutton SEEK Program from its inception in 1966. Over 15 interviews associated with the SEEK program have been conducted, and eight are fully processed, including those of former director Dr. Bill Sales, counselors Alan Townsend and Waldo Jeff, and faculty member Dr. Jessica Harris, all of whom were with the program in its earliest years. SCA recently selected two QC grad students to process additional SEEK interviews this summer. The students will be paid stipends from the department’s foundation funds.

Please do explore our full oral history collection! Catalog records for each interview, with links to the audio/video and transcripts, are located in our online archives database. If you are interested in volunteering to conduct an interview, would like to nominate someone to be interviewed, or have a previously recorded oral history to donate, please email us at qc.archives@qc.cuny.edu.

Treasures from Special Collections and Archives: Marie Maynard Daly Yearbook Photo

by Caitlin Colban-Waldron, Adjunct Archivist

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we share one of the most-requested items from QC’s Special Collections and Archives department: the 1942 yearbook photo of graduating senior Marie Daly. In the photo, her hair is set carefully and a string of pearls rests around her neck. She looks determined, gazing out of the frame. Around her on the page are a sea of white faces; at the time, few Black students were enrolled at the college. 

Marie Maynard Daly Yearbook
Marie Maynard Daly Yearbook

In 1942’s yearbook (only the second ever graduating class at QC!), each senior portrait included an accompanying paragraph describing every student. Some were cheeky, some were resolute, some were optimistic. Marie Daly’s paragraph, though, was certain:

“A Queens College Scholar and one of those elite persons on the Dean’s list, MARIE DALY has an enviable record. She is a Chemistry major and a member of the Chemical Society. In her chosen career as a laboratory technician, she bears the mark of one likely to succeed.”

Marie Maynard Daly was a biochemist and the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate in chemistry in the United States. One of three children, she was born in Queens on April 6, 1921. She started her groundbreaking educational career at Queens College as an undergraduate from 1938-1942, then earned a graduate degree in chemistry from New York University in 1944, and, finally, completed her PhD in chemistry in 1947 at Columbia University.

Daly’s professional life took her to many places: she was an instructor at Howard University, an American Cancer Society fellow at the Rockefeller Institute, a researcher and professor at Columbia and then Yeshiva University (where she retired from in 1986), and served at places like the American Heart Association and Health Research Council of New York. Her work primarily focused on the chemistry of a cell’s nucleus and how our health can be impacted at that tiny, cellular level. She did important research on the effects of cigarette smoke on the workings of lungs, sugar on the health of arteries, and discovered how cholesterol contributes to heart attacks and oxygen blockages in the circulatory system.

In 1988, she started a scholarship for minority students at Queens College who want to study science at Queens College and named it after her parents, Ivan and Helen, who instilled a love of learning in her from a young age–her father had once taken chemistry courses at Cornell University and her mother was a passionate reader. You can still apply for that scholarship today!

Marie Maynard Daly Portrait
Marie Maynard Daly Portrait

Marie Maynard Daly’s story continues to inspire researchers, students, and science lovers. SCA has received requests for more information about her from everyone from high school students to the American Chemical Society to both highlight her contributions to biochemistry and celebrates her status as a trailblazer for women and people of color alike. This senior portrait, taken at the very beginning of her exceptional career, speaks to the women who may be finding their way in the science field at Queens College even now. We’re proud to have her as an alumnus.

View Maynard’s 1942 yearbook and other digitized materials from our collections.

References:

Spangenburg, R., Moser, K., & Otfinoski, S. (Eds.). (2012). Daly, Marie Maynard (1921–2003). In African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention (pp. 54–55). Facts on File; Gale eBooks. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX2020100050/GVRL?sid=bookmark-GVRL&xid=f16885b4
Wayne, T. K. (Ed.). (2011). Daly, Marie Maynard. In American Women of Science since 1900 (Vol. 1, pp. 327–328). ABC-CLIO; Gale eBooks. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX1760500155/GVRL?sid=bookmark-GVRL&xid=8ec99f72

Electronic Resource: Art & Architecture ePortal (A&AePortal)

by Scott Davis

Access Provider: Yale University Press
Description: The Art & Architecture ePortal provides access to 286 ebooks by leading arts publishers such as the National Gallery of Art, Yale University Press, The MIT Press, and more. The collection provides access to museum catalogues, surveys, catalogues raisonnés, and artist monographs covering the history of art, architecture, decorative arts, photography, and design. A&AePortal offers high quality, zoomable, images and an array of tools for citations, annotations and note taking, and a bookshelf feature for future readings.
Format: E-books
Access Portals: OneSearch, A-Z Database list

Treasures from Special Collections and Archives: An Early Edition of Descartes’s Meditations

By Patricia Reguyal, Archives Assistant 

Considered “the founder of modern philosophy,” René Descartes is famous for the declaration, “I think, therefore I am.” (While this formulation is famous in Latin as “Cogito, ergo sum,” it was originally written in French as “Je pense, donc je suis.”) 

The SCA has Descartes’s Meditationes de Prima Philosophia. This book, as the title indicates, was first published in Latin in Paris in 1641, then updated and published again in Amsterdam in 1642. The item that the SCA has, also in Latin, was published in Amsterdam in 1685.  

Descartes made his famous argument in his first book, Discours de la Methode, which he published in 1637 and he reiterated and expounded on it in his Meditationes, his most popular book today, according to Descartes scholar Kurt Smith.  

Descartes died of a respiratory infection in 1650. His books were banned by the church in 1663. The item at the SCA was published in 1685 and, despite his early death, despite the banning, he continues to be read and discussed. Contemporary interpretations of his philosophy continue to be published in various academic journals and The Oxford Handbook of Descartes and Cartesianism, a collection of fifty essays from “an international group of leading scholars of early modern philosophy,” was published in 2019.  

The SCA copy is part of the collection that came from the old Klapper Library. It does not have the original binding but the textblock is in good condition.  

References

Smith, K. (2018). Descartes’ Life and Works. In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Archive (Winter 2018 Edition). https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2018/entries/descartes-works/
Watson, R. A. (n.d.). René Descartes. In Britannica Academic. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://academic.eb.com/levels/collegiate/article/Ren%C3%A9-Descartes/108563#article-contributors