Tag Archives: digital collections

Herschensohn’s Eulogy to 5:02: Today’s featured digital object

Pepperdine students today may know Bruce Herschensohn for his memorable appearances as a senior fellow with the School of Public Policy. Others may recall his political commentary in the media, his roles in the Nixon and Reagan administrations, or his California Senate campaigns of 1986 and 1992. However, few may know that he got his start as an award-winning documentary filmmaker.

Artwork for film "Eulogy to 5:02"

Herschensohn made numerous films for the United States Information Agency (USIA), becoming that agency’s Director of Motion Pictures and Television in 1968. Production materials related to many of these films, including scripts, storyboards, notes, correspondence, and artwork—and many of the films themselves—await discovery in our Bruce Herschensohn Collection. This online collection is an ever-growing digital surrogate for the complete Bruce Herschensohn Papers, which are among the holdings of our Special Collections and University Archives department.

In 1965, Herschensohn had the unique idea to make a film about twenty simultaneous stories going on all over the world during the course of a single minute (5:02 PM Greenwich) on an unspecified day. Each segment from locations such as London, Copenhagen, Karachi, New Delhi, Hong Kong, San Juan, Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Lagos, lasts one minute. The theme, according to Herschensohn, was to demonstrate that “we all have in common the fact that we’re alive NOW and share this common time in the world’s history.” Produced, as it was, by the USIA, the film was also designed to show how US policies were positively impacting the lives of ordinary people around the world.

Click here to browse the Herschensohn material related to Eulogy to 5:02.

Western Day: Today’s featured digital object

Student traditions at Pepperdine University have varied over the years, often reflecting the social trends of society at large. Given its relatively small size, Pepperdine has always cultivated a tight student community enthusiastic about social activities, trends, and traditions. The history of student life at Pepperdine is, therefore, also a study of U.S. popular culture and the milieu from which it arose.

Student dressed for Western Day in 1968

During its heyday on its southwestern Los Angeles campus, Pepperdine College enjoyed several annual all-school events organized by the student-run Social Committee, including the All-School Picnic, Homecoming, the Christmas Party, and the Luau. Between 1950 and 1969, one of the most anticipated all-school events was Western Day, for which students, faculty, and alumni would come to school dressed like frontiersmen, homesteaders, cowboys, and (yes) Indians. Classes would end early and the campus lawn would be transformed into the Wild West. In this photo, student Zak Johnson shows off his prize-winning Native American attire during the 1968 Western Day.

Activities centered on eating, entertainment, and sport, including barbeque, cowboy singing, and donkey races. Students that showed up in “eastern” dress (say, a jacket and tie) risked ending up in a makeshift “Wave City Jail.” Celebrity appearances included Chuck Connors from TV’s The Rifleman. The fun of Western Day was indeed inspired by the popular Westerns of cinema and television, and, like that genre, declined in the late 1960s, not surviving Pepperdine’s move to Malibu. Click here to see more photos from Western Day at Pepperdine College.

Picturesque Malibu Campus: Today’s featured digital object

Phillips Theme Tower

Recent visitors to Pepperdine University’s Malibu campus may have noticed a flurry of beautification activity, including a lot of fresh paint. As I write, our iconic Phillips Theme Tower is cocooned in tarp and scaffolding, preparing to emerge afresh for Pepperdine’s upcoming 75th anniversary. Few students, staff, or faculty would deny that the unique beauty of the Malibu campus—situated in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean—adds a special depth to their relationship with Pepperdine. Indeed, for the visionaries that brought the university to Malibu, it was this idyllic setting that inspired a “spirit of place” that opens students’ minds through a dynamic education and a sense of higher purpose.

It is in this spirit that we’ve compiled a selection of images from the University Archives Photograph Collection that offer a historical perspective on the special beauty that endows Pepperdine University in Malibu. Taken over the course of its nearly 40-year history, these photos range from scenic vistas to quiet moments in unexpected corners of campus.

As a bonus feature to Today’s Featured Digital Object, I encourage you to view this excellent student-produced documentary on the men and women who work tirelessly each day to keep the Malibu campus looking beautiful. Click here to view Behind the Beauty: A Pepperdine Worker Documentary produced by the Latino Student Association, which is available in our iTunes U podcast channel.

Pepperdine’s Spirit of Service: Today’s featured digital object

As we approach the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks this Sunday, now officially a National Day of Service and Remembrance, it seems appropriate to revisit the history of volunteerism at Pepperdine University. As a Christian university, service is the central pillar in Pepperdine’s mission to prepare students for lives of “purpose, service, and leadership.” This spirit of service is epitomized this weekend with Step Forward Day, Pepperdine’s annual day of service now in its 23rd year.

Student volunteers on the Malibu Pier, 1984

In this photo, we see Pepperdine students preparing to paint the Malibu pier, a community service project organized in 1984. We’ve compiled a selection of photos like this one from our University Archives Photograph Collection that demonstrate Pepperdine’s history of volunteerism, going all the way back to the early days of George Pepperdine College in southwestern Los Angeles. Click here to browse this compilation.

The photos in this compilation capture Pepperdine students serving their country at war, both as soldiers and as home front supporters; serving their local communities through beautification projects and disaster response; and serving children through outreach initiatives. There are also a few group photos of Pepperdine service organizations through the years (can you spot the ‘80s hairstyles?) and images from Pepperdine sponsored community service projects, such as the Foster Grandparents program. Enjoy.

The Pepperdine Rock and more: Introducing Today’s Featured Digital Object

Welcome back students, faculty, and staff! Over the summer, Pepperdine University Libraries started this twice-monthly blog designed to feature an item from our digital collections, which include a wide range of digitized rare and unique materials from our archives and special collections. Each featured digital object tells a fascinating story about Pepperdine’s history, scholarship, and mission, and some additionally shed light on the cultural heritage of the Malibu.

Disco is Dead!

For example, have you ever wondered about the origin of the brightly painted Pepperdine Rock in front of the Tyler Campus Center? This yearbook photo from 1983 reveals just how much it has grown in the intervening years. Or perhaps the giant wooden American eagle that greets visitors to Payson Library caught your eye—where did that come from? You can click here to see a complete list of our featured digital object blog entries to date, and please stay tuned to the library website for new entries every two weeks.

We also invite you to visit our Pepperdine Digital Collections directly, where you can find over 6000 digitized photographs, a complete run of the Pepperdine yearbook, student scholarship, a digital surfboard collection, and much more.

A garden for San Quentin: Today’s featured digital object

Gardening is, it must be agreed, an inherently fecund activity. In 2003, San Quentin State Prison began an experimental, rehabilitative gardening program in an attempt to improve the social climate of the prison and reduce recidivism rates. Was it effective? That’s what student Kathryn E. Waitkus sought to determine through her master’s thesis completed at Pepperdine University’s George L. Graziadio School of Business and Management. You can read the results yourself in her complete thesis, which is just one of the many scholarly works available in our Electronic Theses and Dissertations digital collection.

Inmates at work in the San Quentin garden

Waitkus, who filed her thesis in 2004, interviewed inmate program participants, an inmate control group, and prison staff before and after the garden was planted to determine varying perspectives on the expectations of stakeholders and the actual impact of the program. She found evidence that the prison garden program was beneficial to the inmates in many ways, providing a focused activity, a sense of refuge, a source of stress reduction, and a “neutral” territory in the otherwise segregated prison yard. Waitkus also evaluated the gardening program from a managerial perspective, providing recommendations for expanding the program. She remains deeply involved with the Insight Garden Program at San Quentin, and you can follow the progress of the program at her blog The Avant Gardener.

The Electronic Theses and Dissertation digital collection currently focuses on recent work from Pepperdine University’s graduate programs; however, plans are underway to digitize older theses and dissertations as well, bringing to light the long tradition of graduate level scholarship at Pepperdine University.

Friendship 7: Today’s featured digital object

As the era of the space shuttle comes to an end, today’s digital object takes us back to a milestone in the history of spaceflight. On February 20, 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth in a space capsule, circling the planet three times before safely splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean. The mission, part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Project Mercury, was called MA-6. The capsule piloted by Glenn was called Friendship 7. A documentary film by the same name captured the dramatic events of that eventful day and was released by NASA later the same year. Friendship 7, the film, showcased American achievement at the height of the space race with the Soviet Union, and remains a classic audiovisual document of the early days of human spaceflight.

Filming Friendship 7 documentary

In this photo, we see a young man astride a camera crane in the NASA mission control center filming a scene from Friendship 7 among the frenzied activities of flight controllers. The man behind the camera is Bruce Herschensohn, who also served as the film’s editor and score composer. In total, Herschensohn contributed to the production of nearly fifty films for various U.S. government agencies—but this was just one facet of a long, truly multifaceted career that traversed politics and academia.

Pepperdine University is now home to the Bruce Herschensohn Collection, which features the personal papers of this important politician, scholar, and filmmaker, including his notes, photographs, correspondence, media clippings, and other ephemera. The collection documents his professional life, including his work with the U.S. Information Agency during the 1960s, his roles in the Nixon and Reagan administrations, as a political commentator for television and radio, and as a senior fellow with Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy. You can easily search the collection for the photo above and all materials related to Friendship 7 and many other films of the period.

Betty Ford at Pepperdine: Today’s featured digital object

Betty Ford and Pearl Williams

As we say goodbye to Betty Ford, who passed away last Saturday, we remember her not just as the consummate first lady, but as a great friend of Pepperdine University. Mrs. Ford made two notable appearances at Pepperdine during her husband’s presidency. On May 19, 1975, at the height of her battle with breast cancer, Mrs. Ford made a special appearance at Pepperdine’s Foster Grandparents Day ceremony, which took place at the old Los Angeles campus. The ceremony honored 109 elderly volunteers in a federally sponsored, Pepperdine administered program that matched at-risk and developmentally challenged children with elder companions. In this photo, we see Mrs. Ford congratulating Pearl Williams, the oldest of the foster grandparents, who also celebrated her 106th birthday at the event.

Later that same year, on September 20, Betty Ford returned to Pepperdine University, this time to Malibu to accompany her husband’s dedication of the Brock House and the Firestone Fieldhouse. Notably, the great benefactor honored at this event, ambassador Leonard K. Firestone, would go on to provide the financial backing for the Betty Ford Center in 1982.

In honor of her memory, I invite you to view photographs of Betty Ford at these Pepperdine events in our University Archives digital photograph collection.

The Rock: Today’s featured digital object

Disco is Dead!

Do you recognize our beloved Pepperdine Rock? In the photograph above, which appears in the 1983 yearbook with the caption “Disco is DEAD, but the Rolling Stones live on,” the Rock is noticeably smaller and is paired with a tiny companion. In the intervening decades, the Rock has “grown” through countless coats of paint at the hands of Pepperdine University undergraduates to its current impressive size, and has emerged as one of the most persistent student traditions in Pepperdine’s history.

Situated in Adamson Plaza at a busy foot-traffic intersection, the Rock changes color and message several times a week during the academic year. Undercover of night, student groups paint the Rock anew, often surrounding it with elaborate decorations. In doing so, generations of Malibu campus students have carried on the Pepperdine College tradition of painting and decorating (and stealing) the fountain statue named Dolores that graced the heart of the old Los Angeles campus. The Rock, as Dolores’ descendent—although decidedly less anthropomorphic and a great deal harder to steal—occupies a similar place in the student experience in Malibu.

According to Pepperdine myth-history, the Rock traces its origins to one night in 1980 when members of the Sigma Epsilon fraternity hauled a 400-pound boulder to Adamson Plaza. The Rock, often called “Greek Rock,” quickly became the campus shorthand message board, providing a space for political messages, famous quotes, announcements, birthday greetings, event advertisements, and memorials (and, of course, astute commentaries on passing music fads). The tradition of building elaborate, float-like structures around the Rock began in the late 1980s. Around this time, the Rock was also (somehow) stolen and quickly returned.

You can follow the history of the Rock and other student traditions in our digitized Pepperdine Yearbook Collection, which is fully searchable and current up to 2006.

Gidget’s surfboard: Today’s featured digital object

There’s a certain corner of Payson Library, somewhere near the 19th century English literature, where the astute visitor will notice a scent in the air that seems out of place. Fiberglass and surfwax? Yes, somewhere up above in its second-floor sanctuary resides the John Mazza Collection of Historic Surfboards, a secret room populated by over thirty surfboards, the earliest of which are nearly 100 years old. A part of our Special Collections and University Archives’ Malibu Historical Collection, the surfboard display represents part of the cultural legacy of that famous coastal community.

Although the “surfboard room” (as it is informally known) can only be accessed during special occasions, you can see all of these surfboards up-close and from multiple angles in our John Mazza Historic Surfboard Collection online. One of these boards—born of balsa wood in 1951, standing 9 feet, 4 inches tall—found fame when Hollywood discovered surf culture. It’s none other than Gidget’s surfboard.

Originally a novel about his daughter’s coming-of-age in the Malibu surf, Frederick Kohner’s Gidget would do as much as the Beach Boys to popularize surfing. Picked up by Columbia Pictures in 1959, Gidget became Hollywood’s first surf film and many sequels followed, including a short-lived television series on ABC starring a young Sally Field. This surfboard was originally shaped by celebrated Southern California board-maker Dale Velzy as one of his “rope logo” balsa boards. In 1964, the board found its way onto the set of the surf film Ride the Wild Surf, where it received four coats of paint, a logo reading “Surfboards by Phil,” and was ridden by a character named Eskimo. The next year, Sally Field used the board in the Gidget television series. Field’s autograph, along with that of Dale Velzy and Kathy Kohner-Zuckerman (aka, the “real” Gidget), is visible on the board’s deck. The original Velzy logo has been exposed at the very base of the tail.