A Word from the Roberts Library: Summertime, with a Dose of Gratitude
At the risk of repeating an internet meme, lately I’ve been thinking about all the things I have to be grateful about. I have a job I love, I’m crazy about the people I work with, my family is healthy. During COVID, CALS has been able to both help our community and keep staff and patrons safe. After fifteen months, I recently got to visit some family. Learning how to use Zoom has meant that I get to see, at least on a screen, other very far-flung family members—when we can figure out the time zone differences. We’re staying in closer touch than we have in years.
Here at the CALS Roberts Library, we keep finding great ways to offer services and enhance our collections. This spring we had an excellent intern who provided remarkable genealogical research for us. He helped to physically rearrange some materials, and, as a special bonus, he transcribed twenty letters from the Jared C. Martin family papers, which will increase their research value; it seems some younger researchers have trouble reading the cursive writing.
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Public History program has also provided us with outstanding graduate assistants over the years. They’ve become part of the Roberts Library family. We look forward to greeting our new GA in August! I’m very grateful for the opportunity to use the Roberts Library as a hands-on laboratory for public history.
I’m pleased that we can keep providing virtual programs and have been able to record and archive most of them so you can watch them on our YouTube channel. We’ll keep offering programs virtually in the future, but we do plan for in-person presentations starting in September. Watch RobertsLibrary.org for more information.
Some of the most significant materials in the CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies archives are in the Rosalie Santine Gould–Mabel Jamison Vogel Collection. In 2010, Mrs. Rosalie Gould of McGehee donated her remarkable collection of artwork and other materials from the World War II–era Japanese American internment camp at Rohwer, Arkansas, to the CALS Butler Center. There were ten such incarceration centers around the country, most in the western United States. Two were in Arkansas, at Jerome and Rohwer.
The collection includes several hundred paintings and other works of art produced by U.S. citizens of Japanese descent who were interned during World War II. The art had been created in the camp under the tutelage of Rohwer high school art teacher Mabel “Jamie” Jamison Vogel, who collected her students’ art and then saved it in the years following the war. Vogel became a champion of preserving materials from the camp and its story, and she passed the torch to her good friend Rosalie Gould.
Gould was named in Vogel’s will as the recipient of the entire collection, which includes hundreds of documents and photographs dealing with the camps’ schools, the “town” government, and the experiences of many of the people who lived there. A particularly important feature of the collection is a set of 185 handwritten autobiographies of high school student internees dating from 1942. The collection is also noteworthy because the camp sent several hundred men to Europe as part of the U.S. Army’s famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which is said by many to have been the most highly decorated American combat unit of World War II. Newsletters and other documents attest to the pride internees at Rohwer took in the service these men offered their country.
I’m grateful that in recent months we have once again hosted numerous visitors who have special connection to the camps. Many were actually incarcerated there; others are descendants of those who were held in the camps. Our staff learns as much or more from these visitors as the visitors do from us. It’s truly living history.
I’m grateful for all the CALS staff who keep our doors open, our patrons satisfied, our social media relevant, and our communications clear.
Finally, I’m thankful for all of you who are reading this. You have supported our efforts for years and have helped us understand how we can help the community in return.
With deep gratitude,
By Glenn Whaley, manager of the CALS Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History & Art