The World of Tomorrow, Today: Remembering the New York World’s Fair of 1939-1940

In April 1939, the New York Zoological Society (NYZS) presented their Zoological Wonders pavilion to the public at the very first New York World’s Fair. The 1939-40 Fair brought highlights from the New York Zoological Park in the Bronx and the New York Aquarium in Manhattan to Flushing Meadows in Queens. In this month’s post from our NHPRC grant project, we are presenting a selection of materials unearthed from records from the NYZOs Corporation, a former NYZS subsidiary created to coordinate the Society’s participation in the 1939-1940 World’s Fair. Fairfield Osborn Jr., the Secretary of the Society’s Executive Committee at the time, managed that participation in his last task before becoming the Society’s President in 1940. As such, the World’s Fair materials illustrate the beginning of a new era at NYZS.
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Getting Data Out Of Its Floppy Cage

Our FC5025 controller connected to the TEAC FD-55GFR 5.25″ floppy disk drive.

The new year and holidays brought with it gifts and offerings for our legacy digital project!

Upon returning from our holiday break, we were greeted with the arrival of our TEAC FD-55GFR 5.25″ floppy disk drive along with Device Side Data’s FC5025 USB 5.25″ floppy controller.

We decided on purchasing a 5.25″ floppy disk drive of off Amazon and a FC5025 controller. The FC5025 controller is essentially a circuit board that liaises between your legacy 5.25″ floppy drive and a modern computer running a contemporary operating system. These two components are the essential building blocks to getting data off of 5.25″ floppy through disk imaging because they interface between an older, circa-1981 floppy disk drive and a modern computer. Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities’ (MITH) Vintage Computer site does an excellent job of breaking down the FC5025’s connections and instructions for imaging floppies. The card comes with drivers to enable connections to Windows (98, 7, 8, XP), Mac (OS X), and Linux operating systems.
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In the voices of animals

The vast majority of the documents in the WCS Archives are written by people speaking as themselves.  They may be speaking as representatives for a larger collective, such as the Society, or a professional organization, or even–in the cases of some Congressional testimony transcripts–as representatives for the zoo profession as a whole.  Every now and then, however, we come across examples of people speaking not in their own voices, but in those of animals.
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NYZS at the Rock

Excerpt from Mark Finston's article, “Towers Over Rockefeller Plaza: Huge tree finds its places in the sun” published in the Newark Star-Ledger on December 2, 1969. Text reads: “When last year's Christmas tree was hoisted, a small owl, which had apparently been living in the tree, and which had not emerged during the long ride from Canada, let out a screech. The owl was donated to the Bronx Zoo. No such animal life was discovered in this year's tree...”  From a clippings file titled "Birds, 1969". Scanned from WCS Archives Collection 2032.

At this time of year one may ask the question: “What do the New York Zoological Society (NYZS) and Rockefeller Center have in common?” As it turns out, the Society and this long-standing New York City gathering place and holiday beacon have a historical relationship–with a festive flavor. Continue reading

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Cultivating the Wild

“Generations are growing up without any natural contact with wild creatures; a new public opinion concerning wildlife and wild environment is arising unfettered and unguided by fact or experience. Except at the Zoo, the opportunities to know or even become interested in wild creatures are largely vicarious ones for many city dwellers. The opinions of these people will shape the future of wild lands and wild creatures.” -William G. Conway. General Director, 1966-1999. New York Zoological Society. (Gathering of Animals. William Bridges. 1974. Page 500.)

Frequently here at WCS Archives, I find myself reflecting on public experiences and encounters with the natural world, and the challenges of conveying rural and field perspectives and experiences in an urban context.  It is particularly true on Wednesdays, when admission to the zoo is free, and streams of families, teams of teens, as well as school groups with tethered young potential zoologists, naturalists, and conservationists come to visit, many for the first time. Continue reading

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Turning on, Booting up and Jacking In

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Caroline Gil here, Digital Project Archivist for the Leon-Levy Foundation-funded Legacy Digital Media Project at the Wildlife Conservation Society. My initial weeks here at the WCS Archives have consisted of inventorying, assessing, and developing an all-encompassing, forensically sound plan for imaging and conserving approximately 1,000 pieces of digital media. For this pilot project, WCS Processing Archivist Leilani Dawson selected pieces of removable media, including optical, magnetic and spinning disk hard drives, which encompass about 393 3.5” floppy disks, 390 pieces of either CDs and DVDs (in all their configurations, i.e. CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD +R etc), 46 Mini-DV video tapes, and half a dozen external hard drivesreally cool looking, heavy ones circa the early aughts. Continue reading

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NEH Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections Grant Project Complete

As we reported back in August 2015, the WCS Archives received a Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  We’re pleased now to report the completion of the project, in which we developed a Conceptual Preservation Design Plan for a new WCS Archives space.  Situated in the Bronx Zoo’s Heads and Horns Building, this space would include a large collections storage area to provide safe, sustainable preservation conditions for our historical materials, proper fhich we currently lack) to host those consulting the collections as well as classes and small lectures, and a small exhibition area to showcase WCS’s historical treasures to invited audiences.  Continue reading

Society Letterhead: Press Releases, 1938-1979

2032_pressrelease_nyzs_1970_2This is the fourth blog post in our series on graphic design in letterhead.

For this post, we will be showcasing examples of design found in letterhead of press releases closer to home, from the Society as a whole, as well as releases from the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium.  Continue reading

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WCS Archives Awarded Grant from the Leon Levy Foundation

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We’re very excited to start work on a one-year project funded by the Leon Levy Foundation [LLF] to ingest and process our legacy digital removable media!  This project builds directly on the success of last year’s National Digital Stewardship Residency [NDSR] Project.  However, while that work focused on electronic records that are just now being transferred to the Archives, the LLF project will allow us to work with digital materials that had been previously transferred to the Archives as part of predominantly paper-based collections. Continue reading

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