Coming Full Circle: iSchool Alumna Shares Experience Working on Newly Released Memoir

This article was written by Hanya Noussier, Development Intern at CCI.

Elaine Crepeau HeadshotAdventurous success stories of FSU College of Communication and Information alumni are endless. Elaine Crepeau (’73, M.S. Library Science, ’72, B.A.), an alumna of the School of Information, is no different. Crepeau took on a new adventure to edit the memoir titled, J. Blanton Belk: it’s an unfinished world, and it’s still in the making…

Crepeau has had a lengthy and diverse career of 47 years as a professional librarian, archivist, and information consultant both in the United States and Japan. She has spent the past five years working on the memoir of J. Blanton Belk, the founder of Up with People, a nonprofit organization he started in 1965.

A visionary who believes in the power of positive change and uniting people through‌ music, volunteerism, and travel, Belk saw “the ability of young people to do what governments had failed to do: to walk across borders, see beyond race, and build bridges of understanding between people.” Each member of the Up with People program traveled with a cast to perform music about peace through understanding while exploring new places and bonding with host families around the world.

Crepeau had her first experience with Up with People in 1968 after seeing the show in Sarasota, Florida. Her family hosted two cast members from Tanzania and Ohio, and they invited her to attend the Up with People Festival in Fort Slocum, New York. Soon after applying, she was contacted about working the switchboard since she was working part-time as a GTE long distance operator while attending Manatee Junior College. She was asked to apply for the national cast and her response was, “I love the message, but I have no performing arts talent!” While Crepeau may not have been a singer, she was accepted as a tutor for Up with People High School that July. Three weeks later, she left with Cast 68C for a year on the road that would take her to 14 states across America and to Canada, Belgium and France.

An idea is always a spark of a decision we decide to take, let’s see what sparked her interest in researching and editing Mr. Belk’s memoir.

Nathan Kafka, an Up with People alumnus, hosts a web series called “Re-live It Live” that explores the program’s musical history. During a recent interview with Kafka, Crepeau recounted her experience working on Belk’s memoir.

“I really came on board as the researcher in December 2015, after Mr. Belk’s biographer passed away the year prior,” said Crepeau. “At that time, as the Up with People archivist, I was doing research at the University of Arizona Special Collections, where the Up with People Archives is housed. So, I have been involved in some capacity since December 2015.”

Crepeau usually went to the Up with People Archives four days a week and that continued through early 2020. “Someone asked how many hours I had worked on the entire project—at that point in 2018 it was 656 hours, in a year and half’s time,” she said. “It’s been more since then, especially when I began editing the manuscript.”

Being detail-oriented, Crepeau wrote to the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress to request materials from three different manuscript collections, totaling 40 boxes. She recalls, “We spent almost three days freezing in the Manuscript Division since they keep the temperature at 55 degrees. Thanks to the invaluable help from FSU CCI’s Director of Development, Mafé Brooks, and Jenn Gifford, a fellow UWP alumna, we were very successful, in the end.”

Crepeau’s experience and diligence together makes her an asset wherever she goes. J. Blanton Belk’s memoir was successfully published August 21, 2020. For additional information about the book visit