Bob Bersson Papers, 1981-2017 *JMU Faculty Papers*

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Summary Information

Repository:
Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University
Creator:
Robert Bersson (Bob)
Title:
Bob Bersson Papers
Collection No.:
SC 0272
Date:
1981-2017
Extent:
4 boxes, 3 VHS, 31 audiocassettes, 2 3.5" floppy disks, 1.22 Cubic Feet
Language of the Material:
English
Abstract:
The Bob Bersson Papers, 1981-2017, are comprised of documents and media related to Bersson's work as a community activist in Harrisonburg, and professor of art at James Madison University. It contains Bersson's professional papers, material related to the Citizens for Downtown organization, Taxpayers against Golf Spending (TAGS), WMRA's "Our Little Radio Show," and images of downtown Harrisonburg and JMU Campus.

Preferred Citation

[identification of item], [box#, folder #], Bob Bersson Papers, 1981-2017, SC 0272, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

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Bio/Historical Note

Bob Bersson was a professor of Art at James Madison University from 1983 until his retirement in 2003. He taught modern and contemporary art history, art criticism, aesthetics, and art appreciation. He wrote two art history/art appreciation text books: "Worlds of Art," published by Mayfield in 1991, and "Responding to Art," published by McGraw-Hill in 2004. Bersson founded the Interfaith Initiative for Peace and Justice in Harrisonburg, and remains active in local interfaith activities. In 2016, Bersson served as visiting Jewish Scholar for the Center for Interfaith Engagement at Eastern Mennonite University.

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Scope and Content

The collection is comprised of documents and media related to Robert Bersson's work as an art professor at JMU and community organizer in Harrisonburg, Virginia. It is arranged into four series: Citizens for Downtown (CFD) in Harrisonburg, Taxpayers against Golf Spending (TAGS), WMRA "Our Little Radio Show," and Professional Papers.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged into 4 series:

Series 1: Citizens for Downtown (CFD), 1989-2017

Subseries 1: Administrative Files, 1989-2017

Subseries 2: Subject Files, 1989-2017

Series 2: Taxpayers against Golf Spending (TAGS), 1992-2002

Series 3: WMRA "Our Little Radio Show," 1987-1988

Series 4: Professional Papers, 1991-2004

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection open to research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).

Acquisition Information

Items were donated by Bob Bersson in five separate accessions between 2014 and 2018.

Processing Information

Duplicate copies of materials were discarded. Newspaper clippings related to the JMU Faculty and restructuring were returned to donor. A large number of 3.5 inch floppy discs and zip discs which contain drafts of Bersson's two books, "Worlds of Art," published by Mayfield Publishing Company in 1991, and "Responding to Art: Form, Content and Context," published by McGraw Hill in 2003, as well as other academic work, were returned to the donor.

Cassette tapes containing WMRA recordings of "Our Little Radio Show" were digitized and returned to the donor. In January 2019, 770+ slides from Series 1: Citizens for Downtown (CFD), 1989-2017 were inventoried, photographed, and rehoused. The original slide cases, slide boxes, and slide carousels were photographed and discarded.

Location

Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

880 Madison DriveMSC 1704Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807library-special@jmu.eduURL: https://www.lib.jmu.edu/special/

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Related Materials

Related Materials

Common Ground Records, 1983-2000, SC 0126, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

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Index Terms

Genre and Form

  • Membership lists
  • Reports
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Floppy Discs
  • Color slides
  • Slides (photographs)
  • VHS
  • Maps (documents)
  • Newspaper clippings

Personal Name

  • Robert Bersson (Bob)

Subject

  • Art -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- United States
  • Art appreciation -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- United States
  • Religions -- Relations
  • Community organizations -- Virginia -- Harrisonburg
  • Citizens' associations -- Virginia -- Harrisonburg
  • Social action -- Virginia -- Harrisonburg
  • James Madison University. Department of Art
  • James Madison University. School of Art and Art History
  • James Madison University. School of Art

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Collection Inventory

Series 1: Citizens for Downtown, 1989–2017

Arrangement

Arranged into two subseries: Administrative Files, 1989-2017, arranged chronologically, and Subject Files, 1989-2017, arranged alphabetically.

The Citizens for Downtown files contain meeting minutes, correspondence, financial reports, newspaper clippings, speeches, membership information, advertisements, and slides related to the historic preservation and revitalization of downtown Harrisonburg. A summary of the history of CFD and the Blacks Run clean-up and restoration project, written by Bob Bersson, can be found in Box 1:8.

The series contains 771 slides with images of Harrisonburg, James Madison University, Rockingham County, and other locales in Virginia and the Northeast. Specific locations include images of downtown Harrisonburg, Hillandale Park, Black's Run, Purcell Park, and JMU buildings and campus. One slide container was labelled, "Good Models for Downtown Development," and contained images of Charlottesville, Roanoke, Richmond, Alexandria, among other locales. Another slide case was labelled, JMU Architecture, 1909-2003.

The series also contains three VHS tapes with interviews of Bersson related to Harrisonburg downtown revitalization, as well as two 3.5 inch floppy discs labelled, "Citizens for Downtown."

Subseries 1: Administrative Files, 1989–2017

Title/Description Instances
Prehistory of Citizens for Downtown, 1981-1989, undated Box 1 Folder 1
Citizens for Downtown Documents 1, 1989, undated Box 1 Folder 2
Bob Bersson Notebook, 1989–1990
Citizens for Downtown Documents 2, 1990 Box 1 Folder 3
Citizens for Downtown Documents 3, 1991 Box 1 Folder 4
Citizens for Downtown Documents 4, 1992–1994 Box 1 Folder 5
Citizens for Downtown Documents 5, 1995–2000 Box 1 Folder 6
Citizens for Downtown Documents 6, 2004, 2006 Box 1 Folder 7
Citizens for Downtown Narrative and Blacks Run Clean-up Narratives, 2014, 2017 Box 1 Folder 8
Citizens for Downtown Documents 7, undated Media Cabinet 1 3.5 Floppy Disk SC0272-FL3-001
Citizens for Downtown Documents 8, undated Media Cabinet 1 3.5 Floppy Disk SC0272-FL3-002

Subseries 2: Subject Files, 1989–2017

Title/Description Instances
Architectural Awards, 1990-2002, undated Box 1 Folder 9
Blacks Run Restoration Project Documents, 1989–2003 Box 1 Folder 10
Blacks Run Restoration Project Photos, ca. 1992 Box 1 Folder 11
Blacks Run Restoration Project Newspaper Clippings, 1990–2017 Box 1 Folder 12
Fridays on the Square, 1992–2013 Box 1 Folder 13
Gallery Walk, 1989–1990 Box 1 Folder 14
Downtown revitalization, WHSV TV, ca. 1981 Media Cabinet 1 VHS SC0272-VHS-001
Identity Crisis, WVPT, September 7, 1989 Media Cabinet 1 VHS SC0272-VHS-002
Citizens for Downtown on TV3 News, 1989 Media Cabinet 1 VHS SC0272-VHS-003
Slides of Downtown Harrisonburg, Blacks Run, and JMU campus, c. 1981-2005

The box contains 781 slides with images taken by and compiled by Bob Bersson. The slides depict buildings in downtown Harrisonburg; the Blacks Run River area; Hillendale Park, Harrisonburg; JMU campus and buildings; Bridgewater, Dayton, Citizens for Downtown activities; and various historic districts in northern Virginia, Charlottesville, Boston, Maryland, and other locales. A complete inventory of the slides is available upon request.

Box 4

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Series 2: Taxpayers Against Golf Spending (TAGS), 1992-2002

Arrangement

Arranged chronologically.

TAGS is comprised reports, memos, maps, studies, advertisements, newspaper clippings, correspondence, and audio recordings related to a campaign against the Harrisonburg City Council's plans to build a municipal golf course in the Hillandale Park in Harrisonburg. The organization eventually formed the Citizens of Harrisonburg Advocating New Government for the Electorate (CHANGE) in 2000, who endorsed three candidates for city council -- Dorn Peterson, Carolyn Frank, and Joe Fitzgerald – all of whom were elected in May 2000. Three audiocassettes contain interviews with individuals in 2002 regarding their involvement with TAGS.

Title/Description Instances
Harrisonburg Golf Course Feasability study, 1992 box 2 Folder 1
Studies and Reports by City of Harrisonburg, 1994–2000 box 2 Folder 2
Advertisements, 1999 box 2 Folder 3
Correspondence, 1999 box 2 Folder 4
Financial Analysis of Golf Course, 1999 box 2 Folder 5
Newspaper clippings, 1999 box 2 Folder 6
Correspondence, 2000 box 2 Folder 7
Newspaper clippings, 2000 box 2 Folder 8
CHANGE Campaign Material, 2000 box 3 Folder 1
CHANGE Documents, 2000–2002 box 3 Folder 2
Ben Fordney recording , May 17, 2002 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SC0272-CS-030
Warren Dillenbeck recording, May 19, 2002 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SC0272-CS-029
Carolyn Frank recording, May 27, 2002 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SC0272-CS-031

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Series 3: WMRA - Our Little Radio Show, 1987–1988

The series, "Our Little Radio Show," contains documents and audio recordints related to a variety show co-founded by Bersson in 1987, and hosted at JMU. Audio cassettes with episodes of the show have been digitized and returned to Bersson.

Title/Description Instances
Our Little Radio Show Documents, 1987 Box 3 Folder 3
Our Little Radio Show Documents, March 3, 1987, undated

Comprised of photographs of a document with a list of Our Little Radio Show programs and dates, and an image of the article, "Show Prepares for Airwaves: 'Our Little Radio Show' Runs Through its Paces," Daily News Record, March 3, 1987.

Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
April '87 Fundraiser with Our Little Radio Show excerpts, April 1, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Dominion Express, Mother's Day Show, May 10, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Joyce Breeden and Steve Parks, May 17, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Nick Whitmer, Mel and Karen Lee, May 24, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Rick Richardson & Steve Edick, May 31, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Crooked Run String Band, June 7, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Klezmer, Musikante, June 14, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Klezmer, Musikante, June 14, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Belzona Blues Revue, June 21, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show Windfall History, June 28, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Roy Bookbinder, July 12, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Mandelay, July 19, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Wanda Hardy and the Hardy Boys, August 2, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Gary Green and Rick Harris, August 9, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Philips and Glick and George Craft, August 16, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Steve Speakman, October 4, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Reverand Billy C. Wertz (partial), October 25, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Joyce Breeden; Our Front Porch with Nancy Griffith, November 15, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show, Christmas Show with Boffo, December 20, 1987 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Robin and Linda Williams, January 17, 1988 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Michael Geddes, February 7, 1988 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Cabin Fever, Valentines Day (Side A), February 14, 1988 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with John D'Earth and Robert Jospe, February 21, 1988 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Peter and Debby Hunter, February 28, 1988 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Eddie Adcock, March 6, 1988 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Joyce Breeden, Steve Parks and Two-Gun Terry, March 13, 1988 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Wanda and the White Boys, March 27, 1988 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Windfall, April 10, 1988 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Kirk Edwards, April 17, 1988 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001
Our Little Radio Show with Heartland, May 1, 1988 Digital-materials SC0272-SET-001

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Series 4: Professional Papers, 1991–2004

Professional Papers contain the papers and media created by Bersson during his tenure as a professor of Art at James Madison University. There are two folders contain documents related to significant and controversial restructuring under the Carrier Administration in 1993. Files include comments made by President Carrier during a JMU Faculty Senate Meeting in October 14, 1993, as well as other articles and reports related to faculty governance and structure.

Title/Description Instances
AAUP Committee Documents, 1993 Box 3 Folder 4
Faculty Senate Documents, 1993–2007 Box 3 Folder 5

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