Patron’s Choice: Exploring the Gannaway/Ganaway Family Roots

This week, we are pleased to feature a guest post from researcher Brenda Fredericks. Mrs. Fredericks is an independent scholar researching her family’s genealogy. She spent number of days studying the David Molloy Gannaway Papers.

My trip to the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library on October 22, 2015 was one of great anticipation. Six months prior, I did an internet search and found that this institution had in its holdings original letters of Burrell Gannaway, a former resident of Buckingham Count, VA. This man was the enslaver of my husband’s ancestors.

These ancestors are the family of celebrated African American Photographer, King Daniel Ganaway. My husband Tim is his great-grandson. Note: The spelling of the last name differs between the slave owners and the African Americans. The slave-holding family uses Gannaway, while the African American family members use Ganaway.

I was perplexed as to how or when we would be able to make the trip to the library. Most of my time off from work is used to care for Tim, who has been a bladder cancer patient for the last two years. After visiting the website and learning there were more than 1,000 documents on the Gannaway family held at this library, I knew we had to make the trip. These letters could possibly give us a window into the world of our ancestors.

On September 29th, I was among 300-plus employees who were laid off from my company. There was severance pay attached to the lay-off. While others fretted about their disposition, I smiled. We had just been given our opportunity to come to Virginia!

The Gannaway family settled in Albemarle and Buckingham Counties in the 1700’s. They were prominent in the communities where they lived and owned quite a number of slaves. John Gannaway III and Martha Woodson Gannaway were the parents of Burrell as well as six other children.

As I set at one of the tables in the library, I knew this would be a day I would never forget. Box after box was brought out to me, containing letters, accounting records and deeds, belonging to the Gannaway family. At first my hands shook as I picked up each one. What is the likelihood that an African American in 2015 would one day hold in her hands the original documents of her ancestors’ enslavers?

The first item that caught my attention was a list of slaves.

Slave List, add call number

Slave List, David Molloy Gannaway papers. (MSS 3784). (Photo by Brenda Fredericks)

Here they were! These are our people and possibly other slaves who were related to them. Judy, America, Bob, Amy and Tom would ultimately make their way to Murfreesboro, TN where Burrell Gannaway and his married sister Mary Molloy relocated around 1814. The thought came to my mind that they were more than likely separated from family. This means that their descendants are still separated from our family to this day.

There was a value given to each slave. Although it was a reality during slavery to place a value on African Americans, my mind simply cannot process this information. Nevertheless, the names on this list were some of the same names found in Burrell Gannaway’s estate inventory when he died in 1853.

As I continued to browse through the documents, I came across accounting records that concerned a mill in Buckingham County referenced to as the Curdsville Mill. I knew about this mill from other historians’ research. Enslaved people likely supposedly built this mill, which is located on the Willis River.

Slave Hire document

Slave hire document, David Molloy Gannaway papers, ca. 1836-1840s. This document records the names of slaves being hired out to work at Curdsville Mill (MSS 3784). (Photo by Brenda Fredericks)

I also noted from this document that Woodson was also hired out to Gannaway and Parish Co. The name Parish was one I was familiar with. I knew from old newspaper articles that this family had been in business with the Gannaways in Virginia, and here was the proof.

My husband and I later drove to Curdsville and found the ruins of this mill!

Tim need last name

Tim Fredericks holding a remnant of Curdsville Mill, 2015. (Photo by Brenda Fredericks)

Remains of the mill.

Remains of Curdsville Mill, 2015.

Of course any letter that Burrell wrote is of keen interest to me.  In a March 1834 letter, he explains his political views to his brother Theodorick (Gravel Hill):

“I am for measures best for the Republic and for myself on this subject I am pointed and my mind made up. I am in favor of our union and all and every measure calculated to perpetuate the union.”

This letter along with others found at the State Library in Richmond show a transformation from an ambitious southern planter to a man beaten by illness, disease, loss of family members and bad crop seasons. He ultimately turns to his faith in God which gives him peace and hope.

Burrell Gannaway had been dead for 12 years when the Civil War ended in 1865. However, he must have left an indelible mark on his friends and business associates because they gave assistance to his former slaves. Daniel Gannaway, the grandfather of King Ganaway, purchased a merchant bond in 1872 and opened a grocery store on the town square in Murfreesboro. Remember those old Virginia business partners by the name of Parrish? They sold land to our Ganaways near the family store. King Daniel’s father and grandfather built a large family home on this land that stood there until the 1950’s.

After the war, Burrell’s congregation, First Baptist Church of Murfreesboro, sold their old church building to the former slaves to start their own church. Some of these slaves were our Ganaways. They had attended services with Burrell where he was a founding members and one of the first deacons. King Daniel’s paternal and maternal grandmothers were Church Mothers of the African American First Baptist congregation.

By no means is Burrell Gannaway the hero of this story. The man I’ve come to know in his letters would not want that credit. It is the God who Burrell wrote about and his relative Annie M. Gannaway who preserved these letters and donated them to this institution who are heroes!

Brenda Fredericks

Independent Researcher Brenda Fredericks

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Tales from Under Grounds III: Drinking and Gambling

This is the final in a series of three posts, spotlighting the mini-exhibitions of students from USEM 1580: Researching History, Fall 2015.

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Matthew Parker, First-Year Student

Matthew Parker. Photograph by Sanjay Suchak, November 17, 2015.

Matthew Parker. Photograph by Sanjay Suchak, November 17, 2015.

Alcohol and Parties at the University of Virginia

Drinking has been a part of the social scene at the University of Virginia since classes began for students in 1825. Each year new students arrive at the University of Virginia ready to learn, and party. Some believe throughout the history of the University of Virginia that drinking has been a problem and has injured its reputation. However, as shown in one of the newspaper clippings, the students of the University respect their own social culture and do not believe in the University’s infamous “drinking problem.”

Drinking, as shown in this exhibition, has both promoted and hindered the development of the University. The issue of drinking here at U.Va. has caused problems with student conduct, but also has been a persuasive promoter of the University to younger generations. From knowledge of the past, it seems certain drinking will remain a part of the University of Virginia and the current student social environment.

Journal of the Chairman of the Faculty, 1837. (RG-19/1/2.041) University of Virginia Archives The Chairman of the Faculty takes note of an event that occurred on April 4th, 1837, which involves the non-fatal shooting of a University of Virginia student. The report states a heavily intoxicated student shot another fellow student inside his dormitory. The investigation of the event unfolds throughout the following weeks, and the Chairman of the Faculty writes down every aspect of the event as it becomes uncovered. On April 11th, the investigation into the shooting found all available evidence, and the Board of Visitors penalized the students involved.

Journal of the Chairman of the Faculty, 1837. (RG-19/1/2.041)
University of Virginia Archives
The Chairman of the Faculty takes note of an event that occurred on April 4th, 1837, which involves the non-fatal shooting of a University of Virginia student. The report states a heavily intoxicated student shot another fellow student inside his dormitory. The investigation of the event unfolds throughout the following weeks, and the Chairman of the Faculty writes down every aspect of the event as it becomes uncovered. On April 11th, the investigation into the shooting found all available evidence, and the Board of Visitors penalized the students involved. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak, November 17, 2015)

“Guys Drinking.” Hot Foot Society, 1903. (RG-23/46/1.971) University of Virginia Visual History Collection This photograph shows two University of Virginia students drinking alcohol straight from handles. These students were members of a society at the University of Virginia, formally known as the Hot Foot Society. The Hot Foot Society, which began in 1902, was known for its heavy participation in drinking. After their first suspension in 1908, the Hot Foot Society decided to disband in 1911, following a prank which resulted in the expulsion of four members and one-year suspensions for another four members. In 1913, the society reincarnated itself into the IMP Society, which remains active today.

“Guys Drinking.” Hot Foot Society, 1903. (RG-23/46/1.971)
University of Virginia Visual History Collection
This photograph shows two University of Virginia students drinking alcohol straight from handles. These students were members of a society at the University of Virginia, formally known as the Hot Foot Society. The Hot Foot Society, which began in 1902, was known for its heavy participation in drinking. After their first suspension in 1908, the Hot Foot Society decided to disband in 1911, following a prank which resulted in the expulsion of four members and one-year suspensions for another four members. In 1913, the society reincarnated itself into the IMP Society, which remains active today. (Image by Digital Production Services)

Mark Illingworth. Easters T-shirt Contest Entry, 1982. (RG-23/17/3.881) University of Virginia Archives The logo shown above is one of many entries for the Easters T-shirt Contest in 1982. Easters started as a formal dance in the late 19th century, but slowly transitioned into a massive party at the University of Virginia that reached its prime in the 1970s. During the 1970s, the Easters party took place on the rugby field beside Rugby Road, known as Mad Bowl. Thousands of students would file into the field and drink. All the surrounding fraternities would participate in the party and supply a large amount of the alcohol. Many of the logos for the t-shirt contest contain depictions of alcohol in some fashion. The winning entry, however, did not depict alcohol in the illustration.

Mark Illingworth. Easters T-shirt Contest Entry, 1982. (RG-23/17/3.881)
University of Virginia Archives
The logo shown above is one of many entries for the Easters T-shirt Contest in 1982. Easters started as a formal dance in the late 19th century, but slowly transitioned into a massive party at the University of Virginia that reached its prime in the 1970s. During the 1970s, the Easters party took place on the rugby field beside Rugby Road, known as Mad Bowl. Thousands of students would file into the field and drink. All the surrounding fraternities would participate in the party and supply a large amount of the alcohol. Many of the logos for the t-shirt contest contain depictions of alcohol in some fashion. The winning entry, however, did not depict alcohol in the illustration. (Image by Penny White)

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Grant Gossage, Second-Year Student

Grant Gossage. Photograph by Sanjay Suchak, November 17, 2015.

Grant Gossage. Photograph by Sanjay Suchak, November 17, 2015.

Mrs. John King Van Renssalaer. The Devil’s Picture Book: A History of Playing Cards. New York, Dodd, Mead and Company, ca. 1890. (Z5481.V35 1890) Gift of the Stone family A storied history of playing cards presented in this book by Van Renssalaer created an aura around the act of gambling in the 19th century and beyond. The devil’s picture book depicts 18th century French, English, American, and German playing cards as artful possessions of the aristocracy. Students at the University of Virginia in the 19th century were mainly southern gentry. They wore over-the-top clothing until the uniform law. They fought to preserve their honor. They drank and chased women to impress. They gambled to reveal their wealth and to take power from others. The young men venerated the noble past of gambling that the images and text in this book exhibit. (Image by Penny White)

Mrs. John King Van Renssalaer. The Devil’s Picture Book: A History of Playing Cards. New York, Dodd, Mead and Company, ca. 1890. (Z5481.V35 1890)
Gift of the Stone family
A storied history of playing cards presented in this book by Van Renssalaer created an aura around the act of gambling in the 19th century and beyond. The devil’s picture book depicts 18th century French, English, American, and German playing cards as artful possessions of the aristocracy. Students at the University of Virginia in the 19th century were mainly southern gentry. They wore over-the-top clothing until the uniform law. They fought to preserve their honor. They drank and chased women to impress. They gambled to reveal their wealth and to take power from others. The young men venerated the noble past of gambling that the images and text in this book exhibit. (Image by Penny White)

Fauntleroy playing cards 29, Cincinnati, U.S. Playing Card Company, ca. 1890-1912 (PS1214. L554 1886) These miniature Fauntleroy 29 playing cards provide the closest example of those that students at the University of Virginia, such as William Saulsbury, would have used to gamble in locked Lawn rooms around the late-19th to early-20th century. The cards immediately draw the eyes of a viewer as the focal point of this exhibition. They are in a single word, classy. Stars and figurines adorn the bold suits on the one side, while red prints of socialites cover the other. Today, computers and cellphones offer a way for people to gamble virtually across miles of space. When these Fauntleroy cards were in circulation, Saulsbury and other university students gathered around a table, stared each other in the face, and went about taking money.

Fauntleroy playing cards 29, Cincinnati, U.S. Playing Card Company, ca. 1890-1912 (PS1214. L554 1886), (Foreground).
These miniature Fauntleroy 29 playing cards provide the closest example of those that students at the University of Virginia, such as William Saulsbury, would have used to gamble in locked Lawn rooms around the late-19th to early-20th century. The cards immediately draw the eyes of a viewer as the focal point of this exhibition. They are in a single word, classy. Stars and figurines adorn the bold suits on the one side, while red prints of socialites cover the other. Today, computers and cellphones offer a way for people to gamble virtually across miles of space. When these Fauntleroy cards were in circulation, Saulsbury and other university students gathered around a table, stared each other in the face, and went about taking money. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak, November 17, 2015)

M.L. Weems. God’s revenge against gambling: Exemplified in the miserable lives and untimely deaths of a number of persons of both sexes, who had sacrificed their health, wealth, and honour, at gaming tables. Philadelphia, ca. 1822. (A1822.W43) Around 1822, the former rector of Mount Vernon Parish, M.L. Weems wrote about the deaths of more than six individuals, which he believed was the result of gambling. His book condemns an immoral generation of gamblers as sinners before God and criminals in society. Showing a measure of empathy, Weems seeks to dissuade innocent, young people, including his son for whom he addresses the book, from falling for this temptation at gaming tables. Past the frontispiece, which depicts a deformed man on bended knee cursing cards and dice, Weems writes, “I conjure my boy to shun the gambler’s accursed trade; for its, ‘way is the way to hell, going down in the chambers of death.” (Image by Petrina Jackson)

M.L. Weems. God’s revenge against gambling: Exemplified in the miserable lives and untimely deaths of a number of persons of both sexes, who had sacrificed their health, wealth, and honour, at gaming tables. Philadelphia, ca. 1822. (A1822.W43)
Around 1822, the former rector of Mount Vernon Parish, M.L. Weems wrote about the deaths of more than six individuals, which he believed was the result of gambling. His book condemns an immoral generation of gamblers as sinners before God and criminals in society. Showing a measure of empathy, Weems seeks to dissuade innocent, young people, including his son for whom he addresses the book, from falling for this temptation at gaming tables. Past the frontispiece, which depicts a deformed man on bended knee cursing cards and dice, Weems writes, “I conjure my boy to shun the gambler’s accursed trade; for its, ‘way is the way to hell, going down in the chambers of death.” (Image by Penny White)

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On View Now: Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution

We’re pleased to announce the opening of our latest mini-exhibition,  “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution: The American Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1970,” which runs through the end of February and is part of the University’s 2016 community MLK Day celebration, “The Call to Higher Ground.” The exhibition is curated by our own Ervin Jordan, research archivist.

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Jordan writes, “The American Civil Rights Movement (1954-1970) intensely transformed American society and inspired similar movements worldwide. Its nonviolent protests and civil resistance for equal citizenship under the law enhanced African-Americans’ self-dignity and collective commitment in the face of white supremacist terrorism. Others too, were allies, martyrs and beneficiaries of this undertaking to fulfill the promises America had made on paper since 1776.”

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The exhibit’s 24 items on display comprise letters, newsletters, photographs, poetry and reports; special items of interest include:

  • A 1960 NAACP voting rights comic book
  • Alex Haley’s 1963 interview of Malcolm X
  • A 1969 Black Panther Party coloring book
  • A 1976 Julian Bond for President bumper sticker
  • An inscribed copy of Coretta Scott King’s published memoirs

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One of the exhibition’s three display cases features the life and career of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., charismatic leader of the Civil Rights Movement and “a drum major for justice and peace” in his letters and publications.

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Please stop by for a visit!

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Tales from Under Grounds III: Biblical Art and The Architecture of Monticello

This is the second in a series of three posts, spotlighting the mini-exhibitions of students from USEM 1580: Researching History, Fall 2015.

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Carolyn Ours, Second-Year Student

Carolyn Ours. Photograph by Sanjay Suchak, November 17, 2015.

Carolyn Ours. Photograph by Sanjay Suchak, November 17, 2015.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time”: Biblical Art and Typography Through the Ages”

This collection of Bibles and Bible fragments spans the time frame from the 12th century to the 21st in an attempt to examine the evolution in graphical and typographical interpretations of the world’s bestselling book. While ample commercial copies are available for sale, this fact has not led to the complete disappearance of rare and artistic interpretations that are consistent with the painstaking early editions of the text. Certain elements persist throughout time, specifically colored rubric text and initial letters. Additionally, most Bibles remain printed in two columns to conserve space and make the layout more conducive to the printing of poetry.

Images can have a profound effect on one’s understanding of the Bible by enabling the reader to create concrete mental images and aiding in the conceptualization of abstract concepts. On the other hand, the absence of images allows the reader to formulate their own understanding in accordance with their worldview. Evolving technology has allowed artists to promote understanding of the text in an ever-changing media landscape.

The hieroglyphick Bible : or Select passages in the Old and New Testaments, represented with emblematical figures, for the amusement of youth: designed chiefly to familiarize tender age, in a pleasing and diverting manner with early ideas of the Holy Scriptures. To which are subjoined, a short account of the lives of the evangelists, and other pieces. 4th Ed. Hartford: Silas Andrus, 1825. (BS560 .A3 1825) Gift of Mrs. René Müller In his “Hieroglyphick Bible”, published in 1825, Silas Andrus introduces the nation’s youth to both reading and Scripture by replacing words with detailed images—a technique called rebus. The almost five hundred representations were carved by hand, and display a range of topics ranging from the abstract (God, prosperity, and death) to the concrete (men, children, and the Crucifix). Earlier copies originated in England before the popular style made its way to the United States. Andrus’ work contains selections from both Testaments, with decorative border work and footnote-style text indicating the meaning of each image in context.

“The Hieroglyphick Bible: or Select passages in the Old and New Testaments, represented with emblematical figures, for the amusement of youth: designed chiefly to familiarize tender age, in a pleasing and diverting manner with early ideas of the Holy Scriptures. To which are subjoined, a short account of the lives of the evangelists, and other pieces.” 4th Ed. Hartford: Silas Andrus, 1825. (BS560 .A3 1825). Gift of Mrs. René Müller
In his “Hieroglyphick Bible,” published in 1825, Silas Andrus introduces the nation’s youth to both reading and Scripture by replacing words with detailed images—a technique called rebus. The almost five hundred representations were carved by hand, and display a range of topics ranging from the abstract (God, prosperity, and death) to the concrete (men, children, and the Crucifix). Earlier copies originated in England before the popular style made its way to the United States. Andrus’ work contains selections from both Testaments, with decorative border work and footnote-style text indicating the meaning of each image in context. (Image by Penny White)

Image of Jesus and child from The Holy Bible: containing all the books of the Old and New Testaments. North Hatfield, Mass: Pennyroyal Caxton Press, 1999. (BS185 1999 .N67) The Pennyroyal Caxton Bible, published in 1999, is the first fully illustrated Bible in almost a century. Artist Barry Moser worked full time over the course of three-and-a-half years to hand carve the 233 incredibly lifelike and distinct images, working mostly from live models and creating an everyman visualization of the text, particularly unnerving in its realistic depiction of malicious figures, including Satan. His inspiration for Jesus, a chef at a local restaurant, is a significant variation from previous hyper-Anglicized depictions of Christ. The book maintains long-standing traditions in printing red rubrics of the words “God”, “Christ”, and “Amen” at the beginning and end of each Testament. The Bible maintains the two column tradition, fitting images and text into a consistent space throughout both volumes. (Image by Penny White)

“Jesus Rabboni” from “The Holy Bible: containing all the books of the Old and New Testaments.” North Hatfield, Mass: Pennyroyal Caxton Press, 1999. (BS185 1999 .N67)
The Pennyroyal Caxton Bible, published in 1999, is the first fully illustrated Bible in almost a century. Artist Barry Moser worked full time over the course of three-and-a-half years to hand carve the 233 incredibly lifelike and distinct images, working mostly from live models and creating an everyman visualization of the text, particularly unnerving in its realistic depiction of malicious figures, including Satan. His inspiration for Jesus, a chef at a local restaurant, is a significant variation from previous hyper-Anglicized depictions of Christ. The book maintains long-standing traditions in printing red rubrics of the words “God”, “Christ”, and “Amen” at the beginning and end of each Testament. The Bible maintains the two column tradition, fitting images and text into a consistent space throughout both volumes. (Image by Penny White)

Holy Bible. London: MACK: AMC, 2013. (N7433.4 .B77 H65 2013) Purchased from the Agelasto Family Library Fund, 2013/2014 While its outer appearance is no more remarkable than a Bible from a hotel nightstand, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin’s Holy Bible pushes the envelope in graphical interpretations of the sacred text. Influenced by the Philosophy conveyed in Israeli scholar Adi Ophir’s “Divine Violence”, the pair selected images from the London Archive of Modern Conflict to impose over the standard printed text. They use red underlining to highlight specific phrases that correlate to the images, forgoing captions and instead permitting the reader to draw their own conclusions. Images of war, destruction, hatred, sexuality, nature, and death juxtapose the sanctity of the book with its frequently violent and destructive themes, emphasizing Ophir’s argument that God is manifested in the modern world through government and catastrophe. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak)

“Holy Bible.” London: MACK: AMC, 2013. (N7433.4 .B77 H65 2013)
Purchased from the Agelasto Family Library Fund, 2013/2014
While its outer appearance is no more remarkable than a Bible from a hotel nightstand, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin’s Holy Bible pushes the envelope in graphical interpretations of the sacred text. Influenced by the Philosophy conveyed in Israeli scholar Adi Ophir’s “Divine Violence”, the pair selected images from the London Archive of Modern Conflict to impose over the standard printed text. They use red underlining to highlight specific phrases that correlate to the images, forgoing captions and instead permitting the reader to draw their own conclusions. Images of war, destruction, hatred, sexuality, nature, and death juxtapose the sanctity of the book with its frequently violent and destructive themes, emphasizing Ophir’s argument that God is manifested in the modern world through government and catastrophe. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak)

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Tallulah Tepper, First-Year Student

Tallulah Tepper. Photograph by Sanjay Suchak, November 17, 2015.

Tallulah Tepper. Photograph by Sanjay Suchak, November 17, 2015.

The Architecture of Monticello

Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello, is a historical site with much architectural significance. Known widely as one of Jefferson’s greatest accomplishments, Monticello, completed in the early 1800s takes inspiration from European buildings. Additionally, Jefferson’s architecture inspired other buildings across the nation, and similar architecture can be found at the University of Virginia.

Monticello and Jefferson go hand in hand. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “architecture is my delight!” The estate allows one to truly understand Jefferson, his attention to excellence and detail, and his love of culture and worldliness.

Overall, this exhibit allows insight into how Jefferson thought, planned, and designed, and proves where ideas from Monticello came from and how and why Monticello is still so significant today.

Gibbs, James. A Book of Architecture: Containing Designs of Buildings and Ornaments. London: S.n., 1728. (NA2620.G5 1728) Acquired from Architecture laboratory fee fund. Thomas Jefferson had inspiration from multiple European influences, James Gibbs being one of them. In this house-plan, one can draw clear correlations between the architecture of Monticello and Gibbs’ drawing. Perhaps the lesser known inspiration of Jefferson, Gibbs drew plans for houses and churches alike. Pictured here is a house upon an estate. Jefferson was a great fan of European architecture, traveling throughout Europe, especially France and London, finding ideas for his Monticello. (Image by Penny White)

Gibbs, James. “A Book of Architecture: Containing Designs of Buildings and Ornaments.” London: S.n., 1728. (NA2620.G5 1728).  Acquired from Architecture laboratory fee fund.
Thomas Jefferson had inspiration from multiple European influences, James Gibbs being one of them. In this house-plan, one can draw clear correlations between the architecture of Monticello and Gibbs’ drawing. Perhaps the lesser known inspiration of Jefferson, Gibbs drew plans for houses and churches alike. Pictured here is a house upon an estate. Jefferson was a great fan of European architecture, traveling throughout Europe, especially France and London, finding ideas for his Monticello. (Image by Penny White)

Jefferson, Thomas. Early Sketch Of Monticello. 1769. MSS 5385-ae). Thomas Jefferson Foundation This sketch of Monticello was drawn by Thomas Jefferson himself circa 1769, before the actual creation of the Estate. This was Jefferson’s first sketch, and while it does clearly resemble Monticello today, the building was designed and redesigned multiple times before its completion in the early 1800s. Mr. Jefferson’s attention to detail even in an early sketch and clear vision with European influences provides insight into what Jefferson was aspiring toward as Monticello was constructed.

Jefferson, Thomas. Early Sketch Of Monticello. 1769. MSS 5385-ae). Thomas Jefferson Foundation
This sketch of Monticello was drawn by Thomas Jefferson himself circa 1769, before the actual creation of the Estate. This was Jefferson’s first sketch, and while it does clearly resemble Monticello today, the building was designed and redesigned multiple times before its completion in the early 1800s. Mr. Jefferson’s attention to detail even in an early sketch and clear vision with European influences provides insight into what Jefferson was aspiring toward as Monticello was constructed. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak)

Radevsky, Anton, and Pavel Popov. Architecture Pop-up Book. New York, NY: Universe, 2004. (NA202 .R24 2004) Minor Fund, 2004/2005. This pop up book contains many three dimensional replicas of famous architectural sites. On the page shown, a pop up Palladio and a pop up Monticello are included. Setting the three dimensional models next to each other, although small in scale, one can see the similarities between the two. It is clear that Jefferson’s Monticello took inspiration from Palladio, and the model also provides insight into the differences between the two. Overall, this small but accurate 3-D model allows one to experience Monticello as more than just a picture. That which does not appear simply on the page quite literally jumps off of it to show a more detailed artistic description of the building, dimensions, and shape of Monticello. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak)

Radevsky, Anton, and Pavel Popov. “Architecture Pop-up Book.” New York, NY: Universe, 2004. (NA202 .R24 2004). Minor Fund, 2004/2005.
This pop up book contains many three dimensional replicas of famous architectural sites. On the page shown, a pop up Palladio and a pop up Monticello are included. Setting the three dimensional models next to each other, although small in scale, one can see the similarities between the two. It is clear that Jefferson’s Monticello took inspiration from Palladio, and the model also provides insight into the differences between the two. Overall, this small but accurate 3-D model allows one to experience Monticello as more than just a picture. That which does not appear simply on the page quite literally jumps off of it to show a more detailed artistic description of the building, dimensions, and shape of Monticello. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak)

 

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…And to all a Good Night! —that means you, John Boy

The holidays are upon us! As we watch the students head home, the weather cool (well…not as much as we might like), and twinkling lights appear all over town, we are adding to the holiday mood with a special post from Reference Coordinator Regina “Ms. Claus” Rush. Enjoy, and be sure to check our website for holiday hours in the next couple of weeks. Thanks for the movie recommendation, Regina!

Inquire of any of my colleagues at Special Collections Library and they will attest that I govern my life by the Golden Rule. No, not that Golden Rule. I follow the Golden Rule according to Ebenezer Scrooge. Allow me to clarify further: not the Bah-Humbug Scrooge, but the kinder-gentler-post-three-ghostly-visitations Scrooge. His Golden Rule reads, “I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all year!”

Throughout the year, my colleagues can count on me to daily mention a Christmas movie, sing a verse or two from a favorite Christmas carol, or contemplate my plans for the coming year’s Christmas tree themes for my home. These are ways that I keep the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future at bay. So when asked by my colleague Molly Schwartzburg to write a post highlighting an item from our collection pertaining to Christmas, quicker than “Jack Frost can nibble at your nose,” I. WAS. ON. IT!

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Regina, at right, with fellow snow fan and Reference Coordinator Anne Causey. They both wish that the claim made on this Reading Room holiday decoration was TRUE!

Shortly after I began looking into the Small Library’s treasure troves, I was delighted to discover that we hold a small but rich collection of Virginia native Earl Hamner Jr., an Emmy-winning television writer and director during the 1970’s and 80’s. The collection includes a first edition of Hamner’s 1970 novel, The Homecoming: A Novel about Spencer’s Mountain, the final shooting script for the 1971 film The Homecoming: A Christmas Story and television scripts for three mid-1970s episodes of The Waltons.

Earl Hamner, Jr. The Homecoming: A Novel about Spencer's Mountain.

Earl Hamner, Jr. The Homecoming: A Novel about Spencer’s Mountain. (PS3558 .A456 H6 1970). The novel’s epigraph reads, “It is remembered in my family that Christmas Eve of 1933 my father was late arriving home. That, along with the love he and my mother bestowed upon their eight red-headed offspring, is fact. The rest is fiction.”

The novel, drawn from Hamner’s childhood experiences growing up in Schuyler, Virginia during the Great Depression, was the impetus for the film. Originally aired on CBS on December 19, 1971, the movie was so popular that it spun off a series, “The Waltons’, which aired on CBS in September 1972 and became wildly popular, lasting nine seasons.

Final Shooting Script of The Homecoming

Cover of the Final Shooting Script for the Lorimar Productions film “The Homecoming” (MSS 10380,-a,-b)

The Homecoming movie

DVD of the movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, by Earl Hamner, Jr.

The final draft of of The Waltons television script

Cover of the television script for an episode of “The Waltons.” This is the revised final draft of episode #188015, “The Fighter” by Andy White (MSS 10380,-a,-b)

Christmas fans like myself know that the film that started the Waltons’ phenomenon is a holiday must-see. Included in the final script of the 1971 film ‘The Homecoming’ is a section entitled “Notes from the Author”:

[The] Christmas Season and Christmas has become a nightmare for most people. The packed stores, the enraged crowds, the stalled traffic and money worries that are common to our audience for the most part produce a national insanity. Yet underneath there is a pathetic wish that they can really experience something, maybe “The Christmas Spirit” something that no other time provides.

This holiday classic is a great start toward achieving that “Something.” So, shut out the madness of the holiday hustle and bustle. Pour yourself a BIG glass of egg-nog, get comfortable in your favorite chair and lose yourself in this wonderful coming-of-age Christmas classic. By the film’s end, I guarantee you will feel all warm and fuzzy inside (though that BIG glass of rum-infused egg nog may be partly responsible!). Wishing my colleagues and all the loyal readers of ‘Notes from Under Grounds’ a very safe and happy Holiday!

“Good Night, Penny”

“Good Night, Edward”

Good Night, David”

“Good Night, Heather and Gayle”

“Good Night George, Petrina, and Molly”

“Good Night E.J., Sharon, Ellen, Barbara, Jane…………”

Good Night, “Notes from Under Grounds” Readers!

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Glimpses of Lafcadio Hearn in Virginia

This week we are pleased to share a guest post by Rodger Steele Williamson, who is a professor at the University of Kitakyushu, Japan. Professor Williamson spent several months over the last year working in the Lafcadio Hearn collection in the Barrett Library of American Literature. Professor Williamson was a cheerful and vibrant addition to our community during his time here and we miss him (and his pastry-chef wife’s delectable and elegant treats, delivered at impressive intervals to the staff break room!).

In Japan the names Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) or Koizumi Yakumo, his name after adoption into his Japanese wife’s family register, are synonymous with ghost stories or nostalgic and exotic tales of Japanese cultural heritage. Today Hearn is renowned by the Japanese public for his advocacy, respect, and praise for what he viewed as refined and even superior cultural traits of Japanese culture and society that disappeared with the rapid modernization that characterized the Meiji Era (1868-1912). If one mentions him to locals in the two major American cities (Cincinnati and New Orleans) that he called home for a total of almost twenty years, you most likely get a blank stare.

Outside of most academic circles Hearn is relatively unknown in a country he called home for nearly twice as long as Japan. His many publications on Japan (all of which may be found at the University of Virginia) had been the cornerstone of any American studies on Japan until he was essentially blacklisted due to Japanese use of his writings as propaganda during World War II; also damaging was the fact that he took Japanese citizenship to protect his family at a time when marrying a non-citizen would have meant his wife’s loss of rights as a Japanese.

In contrast to the United States, Hearn studies thrive in Japan, where numerous books, mostly in Japanese, continue to be written about his life and works. Interestingly, there are many Japanese who do not even realize that all of Hearn’s works are available in English and are widely available online for free, making them great resources for English-language classroom readings.

A longtime resident of Japan, I was, in fact, introduced to Hearn in Virginia, by my history professor at the University of Richmond: around that time there were several new publications related to the centennial of Hearn’s arrival in Japan (1890). That led to research in the Hearn holdings in the Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Liteature at U.Va. and then graduate studies in Japan. I had the great privilege of writing my dissertation at Kumamoto University, where Hearn taught at the Higher Middle School from 1891 to 1894. I am fortunate to have come full circle with an investigation of Hearn’s Irish and American roots (even though he was never an American citizen).

Clifton Waller Barrett (1901-1991), 1920 alumnus of the University of Virginia, wrote in 1983 that, “In 1939 I made a decision that brought about a radical change in my life. I decided to amass a comprehensive collection of American Literature.” Writing on the occasion of a U.Va. Library exhibition of his Hearn collection, he stated, “One writer who stood out in this group was Lafcadio Hearn. His amazing originality, combined with the unusual beauty and quality of his writing had won praise from discriminating critics; however, in the years of World War II and the decade following he was neglected.”  During his lifetime Lafcadio Hearn never mentioned any personal connections with Virginia or the University of Virginia but scholars of Hearn owe much gratitude to the pursuits of Clifton Waller Barrett in building “a representative collection of Hearn’s printed works and manuscripts most particularly.” One might say it is now the greatest depository of Hearn related materials and original manuscripts in the world.

I was glad to return recently for an in-depth study of the Hearn collection, and have reflected during that time on its strengths and its history as a collection. It is  important to realize the dedication of family and scholars responsible for some of the Barrett collection’s core Hearn materials. Hearn’s eldest son, Kazuo Hearn Koizumi, writes about his attempt to save his father’s papers in his essay “On War’s Futility,” published in the collection Re-Echo in 1957:

During World War II I was afraid that Father’s treasured manuscripts would be burned in an incendiary bomb attack. I divided his mementos into three packages, two of which I left with friends. I kept one packet. One package my friend stored in a warehouse which was burned; the other package was stolen.

Once the war was over he dug out his package and while airing out the papers “in the sunbeams, under the bright, blue, peaceful, autumn sky in which there were no more air raids, the memories of the dear old days of my childhood returned to heart.” It was his hope that the papers could be published in some form;  his book and the works of numerous others greatly benefited from this labor of love. Most of the papers and notebooks from the bundle are now easily accessed in the Barrett Reading Room in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. The original manuscripts of Re-Echo are perfectly preserved there along with all the artwork that Hearn’s son painstakingly took out as clippings from the notebooks for the publication.

Hearn’s early notebook draft material for “Re-Echo.” (MSS 6101)

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Draft illustration for “Re-Echo.”

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Page proof for “Re-Echo.”

Another contributor to whom much is owed is P.D. Perkins, who compiled and published a comprehensive bibliography of Hearn in 1934 during the commemorations of the thirtieth anniversary of Hearn’s passing. Perkins also saved some of Hearn’s rarest–and most politically forceful–work from destruction. In a letter to Barrett, he describes how, at his own personal risk, he traveled to Japan and “spent two weeks in September 1941 three months before the start of World War II going over the files of the [Japan Chronicle] newspaper for 1894-95,” when Hearn wrote for hte paper.  If not for his actions all would have been lost: “the file of the Chronicle from which I obtained these articles was destroyed during the bombing of Kobe during the war. To the best of my knowledge there is now no file of the Chronicle in existence.” Perkins was unable to publish these pieces and they remain in the Hearn collection at Virginia as a a set of typescripts.

In these typescripts, Hearn uses his unusual position to critique foreign views of both Japanese and Western culture. Writing in 1895 to Atlantic Monthly editor Horace Scudder, Hearn states, “The difference between myself and other writers on Japan is simply that I have become practically a Japanese – in all but knowledge of language; while other writers remain foreigners, looking from outside at riddles which cannot be read except from the inside.” From this vantage point, Hearn condemned what he thought to be predominating social and racial biases among foreign residents in Japan. In a notable unpublished Chronicle article from August 1895, Hearn advocates for the rights of religious minorities:

The majority have no more right to say that the minority shall be voiceless than the minority have the right to compel the majority to accept their view. It is indeed a proof of how very little the civilization of the nineteenth century has advanced in certain respects beyond that of the Middle Age.

In an editorial of October 1885, he writes on racism that “Race hatred itself [is] based on a sort of perverted emotionalism….Certainly it is clear that it is the growth of intellectuality that we must look for [in] the elimination of race hatreds and the spread of a sane cosmopolitanism.”

Hearn believed that his opinions did not sit well with some expat readers in Japan. After leaving Kobe for Tokyo he would write in a letter, “I have long been a subject of persecution in Japan . . . The matter appears to have been managed by a humble clique of English officials, with the aid of the religious bodies.” With this in mind, we can only speculate why these particular articles were not originally chosen for publications. Some of them might have been viewed as too controversial for their anti-western sentiments. In any case a great debt is owed to P.D. Perkins for saving them and then Mr. Barrett for adding them to his collection.

A key strength of the Hearn collection is in its breadth, as may be seen in the library’s own description of the collection: “three hundred letters, some of them to Ernest Fenollosa and to Japanese friends, twenty-five groups of manuscripts, including those of Kwaidan and the description of feudal customs, Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, over thirty notebooks, and innumerable periodical appearances and translations.” The essayist Guy Davenport, writing for a U.Va. exhibition on Hearn, noted the voluminous presence of “variant bindings, later editions, periodical printings, translations, [and] inscribed association copies.” It holds a true wealth of resources for a visiting Hearn scholar.

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Lafcadio Hearn was virtually always photographed in profile, with his right side visible. This was due to a disfiguring scar caused by an accident in his youth. The injury was not attended to quickly enough, causing him to lose the sight of the left eye: his cornea was completely transformed into a white scar. His right, uninjured eye was so myopic that, even with lenses, he could scarcely see clearly beyond six inches from his nose. This 1898 image shows Hearn facing the camera much more directly than other photographs. (MSS 6101)

 

 

 

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Tales from Under Grounds III: Circuses and Light

This is the first in a series of three posts, spotlighting the mini-exhibitions of students from USEM 1580: Researching History, Fall 2015.

This semester marks the third time I have taught the University Seminar course Researching History. The course gives first- and second-year students the opportunity to immerse themselves in primary source research. During the class, my students had to navigate through the rich array of research materials held in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library and share what they learned in one-on-one sessions with their friends and family. Also, they each interviewed an author, who had used Special Collections materials to write his or her book. In their final projects, the students employed all of the skills that they had learned in the class to curate and present mini-exhibitions at their outreach program, Tales from Under Grounds III. U.Va’s new Provost Thomas C. Katsouleas even stopped by to see their impressive work. Students created their mini-exhibitions by illustrating a particular story with only seven special collections items of varying formats.

For those who could not make it to Tales from Under Grounds III, I present to you the second best thing: Tales from Under Grounds III in its abridged version as captured in each student’s own words.

Note: only three selections per student are shown.

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Mary Grace Milam, First-Year Student

Photograph of Mary Grace Milam by Sanjay Suchak, November 17, 2015.

Photograph of Mary Grace Milam by Sanjay Suchak, November 17, 2015.

Barnum’s Big Top

The Barnum and Bailey Circus is one of the most famous circuses in history. It’s proprietor, Phineas Taylor Barnum initially created a museum holding the world’s first aquarium and featured the world’s human oddities and his famous hoaxes. He later contracted with James Anthony Bailey to create the famous traveling circus.

Some of the most notable attractions were Tom Thumb, Chang and Eng, the Siamese Twins, and Jumbo the Elephant. Most of these acts are no longer a part of any circus routine. Slavery and racism were still prevalent in the 19th century, which shaped how the public accepted these acts. Barnum’s human acts were marketed as “freaks,” and exploited them for profit. However the success of the acts allowed some of the performers to end their circus careers quite wealthy. Barnum wrote, “Unless a man enters upon the vocation intended for him by nature, and best suited to his peculiar genius, he cannot succeed.” Was circus employment the designated vocation for these people? The acts were very lucrative for some performers, yet at the same time exploitative.

Barnum, P. T, and Sarah J Burke. P.T. Barnum's Circus, Museum and Menagerie. New York: White & Allen, 1888. (PZ10.3 .B266 Ci 1888). Gift of Mr. & Mrs. W.B. Murphy This children’s book, written by P.T. Barnum, takes the reader on a tour of P.T. Barnum’s Circus and Menagerie. Some of the famous oddities include General Tom Thumb, the “Skye Terrier Family,” and the White Elephant.

Barnum, P. T, and Sarah J Burke. P.T. Barnum’s Circus, Museum and Menagerie. New York: White & Allen, 1888. (PZ10.3 .B266 Ci 1888). Gift of Mr. & Mrs. W.B. Murphy
This children’s book, written by P.T. Barnum, takes the reader on a tour of P.T. Barnum’s Circus and Menagerie. Some of the famous oddities include General Tom Thumb, the “Skye Terrier Family,” and the White Elephant. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak, November 17, 2015)

Carte de visite of Tom Thumb from the Photograph Album of Cullen and Graham Family. (MSS 14198). Here is an image of Tom Thumb, a dwarf or little person who was a very popular act in Barnum’s circus. Tom Thumb, originally Charles Stratton, was hired as a young boy to the circus. During his act Tom sang songs or dressed up like characters such as cupid or Napoleon Bonaparte. After his circus career Tom married a woman, who was a dwarf, and they lived quite comfortably.

Carte de visite of Tom Thumb from the Photograph Album of Cullen and Graham Family. (MSS 14198).
Here is an image of Tom Thumb, a dwarf or little person, who was a very popular act in Barnum’s circus. Tom Thumb, originally Charles Stratton, was hired as a young boy to the circus. During his act, Tom sang songs or dressed up like characters such as cupid or Napoleon Bonaparte. After his circus career Tom married a woman who was a dwarf, and they lived quite comfortably. (Image by Petrina Jackson, December 3, 2015)

Siamese Twins for ... Day Only. New York: J. M. Elliott, Printer, n.d. (Broadside 870). This advertisement is for the famous Siamese twins Chang and Eng. They were a part of Barnum’s museum for a short six weeks. They exhibited themselves throughout much of their early life and were quite successful throughout the nineteenth century. In their later years they married and settled down in North Carolina on a plantation they owned.

Siamese Twins for … Day Only. New York: J. M. Elliott, Printer, n.d. (Broadside 870).
This advertisement is for the famous Siamese twins Chang and Eng. They were a part of Barnum’s museum for a short six weeks. They exhibited themselves throughout much of their early life and were quite successful throughout the nineteenth century. In their later years, they married and settled down in North Carolina on a plantation they owned. (Image by Petrina Jackson, December 3, 2015)

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Joseph Tran, First-Year Student

Photograph of Joseph Tran by Sanjay Suchak (November 17, 2015)

Photograph of Joseph Tran by Sanjay Suchak (November 17, 2015)

Consumer Use of Artificial Light circa 20th Century

This exhibition is largely based on the use of artificially created light from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. This time period was highlighted by the increasing use of light bulbs in virtually every setting to illuminate the darkness. The inspiration that founded this collection can be seen as the greatest light bulb of our time, the Sun.

These items are not contemporary, but they are rather broad in the sense that light is a fundamental need that will always be of use to all people. They will portray the creative manipulation of light to change human perception.

Message from the President of the United States, accompanied with a report upon the subject of the light-houses ordered to be built by the act of third of March, 1821 (A 1821 .U56b no.5) From the executive papers with U.S. Pres. Monroe. Message… to both houses of Congress… 1st session, 17th Congress, Dec. 5, 1821 This report outlines the necessity of lighthouses to be built nearby to the shores by President Monroe. These would illuminate the night sky and allow for sailors and captains to be able to navigate toward land with relative ease. In 1821, these lighthouses would have used a flame lamp of oils that slowly burned over the course of the night, and they were unlike modern lighthouse in that they did not revolve around with mirrors and lenses.

Message from the President of the United States, accompanied with a report upon the subject of the light-houses ordered to be built by the act of third of March, 1821 (A 1821 .U56b no.5)
From the executive papers with U.S. Pres. Monroe. Message… to both houses of Congress… 1st session, 17th Congress, Dec. 5, 1821
This report outlines the necessity of lighthouses to be built nearby to the shores by President Monroe. These would illuminate the night sky and allow sailors and captains to be able to navigate toward land with relative ease. In 1821, these lighthouses would have used a flame lamp of oils that slowly burned over the course of the night, and they were unlike modern lighthouses in that they did not revolve around with mirrors and lenses. (Image by Petrina Jackson, December 3, 2015)

Jackson Davis with camera and an unidentified man (MSS3072, 3072a) Jackson Davis Collection of African American Photographs A photograph taken in 1915 illustrates the use of a camera widely available to the general consumer, which was most likely a Kodak. Cameras at the time would have already started using film and shutters to capture an image. Film is able to retain an image because chemically, it is made with a substance that reacts when struck with a light, namely a flash. The camera revolutionized the way events and people are remembered from a sketch or drawing to a photograph capturing every detail.

Jackson Davis with camera and an unidentified man, 1915. (MSS3072, 3072a). Jackson Davis Collection of African American Photographs
This photograph illustrates the use of a camera widely available to the general consumer, which was most likely a Kodak. Cameras at the time would have already started using film and shutters to capture an image. Film is able to retain an image because, chemically, it is made with a substance that reacts when struck with a light, namely a flash. The camera revolutionized the way events and people are remembered from a sketch or drawing to a photograph capturing every detail. (Image by Digital Production Services)

Reed, Justin James. 2013. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Horses Think Press, 2012. (N7433.4.R424 T8 2012) Purchased from the Agelasto Family Library Fund, 2012/2013 This interesting piece by Justin James Reed is a bit deceptive as its pages seem to be completely blank to the naked eye. But, with the aid of an ultraviolet flashlight, the true images begin to appear visible. This self-published book includes many abstract images, from forest scenery to statues of people. This item fits in this collection because it shows how creative manipulation of light can be used even in small things to produce interesting effects.

Reed, Justin James. 2013. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Horses Think Press, 2012. (N7433.4.R424 T8 2012). Purchased from the Agelasto Family Library Fund, 2012/2013
This interesting piece by Justin James Reed is a bit deceptive as its pages seem to be completely blank to the naked eye. With the aid of an ultraviolet flashlight, the true images begin to appear visible. This self-published book includes many abstract images, from forest scenery to statues of people. This item fits in this exhibition because it shows how creative manipulation of light can be used artistically to produce interesting effects. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak, November 17, 2015)

 

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Exhibition Prep Special: Translating Shakespeare’s Sonnets into…Morse Code?

This week we are pleased to feature the third guest blog post from graduate curatorial assistant Kelly Fleming, who will be sharing selected treats from our upcoming exhibition, “Shakespeare by the Book,” over the coming months. The exhibition opens February 22, 2016.

Most readers of Shakespeare’s sonnets associate his poetry with love. In films and literary works of all kinds, Shakespeare’s sonnets are quoted and used to confirm the love between two people. Sonnet 116 (“Let me not to the marriage of true minds”) is probably one of the most popular readings on the wedding circuit. As much as Shakespeare’s sonnets are about love, time is more likely to be the subject of the poet’s meditations. The first seventeen—“the procreation sonnets”—urge a young man to make much of time, to get married, and to procreate so that he can live forever through his children. Many of the sonnets after 17 continue to address, to personify, and to apostrophize time, as these first lines illustrate: “Against that time, if ever that time come” (Sonnet 49); “That time of year thou mayst in me behold” (Sonnet 73); “No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change” (Sonnet 123).

Knowing the sonnets’ preoccupation with time, I completely “nerded out” when I discovered that someone had turned Shakespeare’s sonnets into a watch. My own scholarship has nothing to do with Shakespeare, but every time Molly, our curator here at Special Collections, mentioned the watch to me, I would get so excited that I would say in a high-pitched voice, “But Shakespeare’s sonnets are all about time!” I cannot imagine a more perfect way to represent his sonnets than a watch.

Pictured here is the watch with the instructional booklet open to the title page.

Pictured here is the watch with the instructional booklet open to the title page.

The Sonnets Watch Book is book inside a watch; it is a watch that ticks out Shakespeare’s sonnet 18 (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”) and sonnet 130 (“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun…”) in Morse code. It was dreamed up and built by three Seattle teenagers (credited on the watch as “Alex, Clara, and Nicholas”) and published by miniature-book publisher and technologist Robert Orndorff (who happens to be the father of two of the makers). Only eighteenth copies of The Sonnets Watch Book are in existence and number eighteen will appear in our exhibition. Bright lights flicker out the letters and punctuation marks of each sonnet. Even though I can’t understand Morse code, there is something incredibly moving about watching the lights change and knowing that Shakespeare’s words are still slowly being repeated throughout time.

Here is an image of the watch as it ticks out one of Shakespeare's sonnets in Morse code.

Here is an image of the watch as it ticks out one of Shakespeare’s sonnets in Morse code.

Last week, I spent a full hour close reading Shakespeare’s Sonnet 65 and talking about time with my ENGL 3810 students. We were stuck on the following lines for a while:

O, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out
Against the wreckful siege of battering days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?

Shakespeare’s answer to this question is his sonnet. Unlike the sea, stone, or shining metals, his “black ink” may be able to withstand the rages of time. His “black ink” will continue to “shine bright” and tell of his love. As my students will tell you, this is exactly what happened. We spent twenty-five minutes of our class on four lines because his “black ink” does still “shine bright” in the history of literature.

Imagine, then, an object that literalizes the hope, the wish of this sonnet. Shakespeare’s words, his “black ink,” actually “[shining] bright” in little yellow, green, and red blinking lights on the face of a watch.

Now, who is excited?

Click on the link below for a video of the watch in action and proof that Shakespeare’s sonnets are now more portable than ever before. The Sonnets Watchbook will be on view—alive and ticking—in “Shakespeare by the Book: Four Centuries of Printing, Editing, and Publishing,” which runs February 22-December 2016 at the University of Virginia Library. 

Oh, and in case you are wondering about the history of literature translated into code, perhaps you would like to see Monty Python’s take on the topic. They  start with Wuthering Heights and go on from there…make sure to stay to the end!:

 

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Exhibition Prep Special: Searching for Shakespeare in Booksellers’ Records

This week we are pleased to feature the second guest blog post from graduate curatorial assistant Kelly Fleming, who will be sharing selected treats from our upcoming exhibition, “Shakespeare by the Book,” over the coming months. The exhibition opens February 22, 2016.

My first two weeks at Special Collections were spent hoisting hulking ledgers from the stacks and placing them gently onto cradles to investigate whether two early booksellers in Virginia sold Shakespeare. After the first day, I found my legs covered in wisps of binding and my hands stained with “red rot” from the ledgers’ leather bindings. Thank goodness for gloves.

Here's what my gloves looked like after several ledgers. Imagine what my bare hands looked like before I put them on.

Here’s what my gloves looked like after several ledgers. Imagine what my bare hands looked like before I put them on.

I combed through the account books of Bell & Co., a printer in Alexandria, Virginia active in the nineteenth century and the Virginia Gazette, a newspaper and printer active in Williamsburg, Virginia in the eighteenth century. My eyes sought any spelling variation of the name “Shakespeare” amidst endless purchases of envelopes and paper. Despite our modern perception that Shakespeare’s works are “classics” and that he is a father of the English language, his place in the literary canon was yet to be defined in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As my findings attest, Virginians chose to read a myriad of other things more frequently than Shakespeare.

Only one copy of Shakespeare was sold by the Virginia Gazette in the years 1750–1752 and 1764–1766. Even though David Garrick was busily working to increase the popularity of Shakespeare in London at this time, the colonies seem to have been a step behind. Since Williamsburg was home to the Virginia legislature and the College of William & Mary, it is not surprising that the books sold by the Virginia Gazette were largely educational: Latin grammar textbooks, dictionaries, and religious texts like the Book of Common Prayer. Despite the fact that Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (a book the Virginia Gazette also sold) marks Shakespeare’s works as the first usage of many English words, students were not studying Shakespeare. The education system in the eighteenth century trained students (that is to say, young men) in what they considered the “classics”: philosophical and literary texts from ancient Greece and Rome. When students did read literary texts in English, it seems that they read English epics, which use classical elements to describe contemporary England. The epic works of Milton, Dryden, and Pope, for example, appear numerous times in the accounts of the Virginia Gazette. In addition to English epics, we find our copy of Shakespeare alongside another genre excluded from the education system: the novel. In the ledger in our exhibition, we find popular English novels such as Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa and Tobias Smollett’s Roderick Random.

Page of Virginia Gazette Day Book showing the purchase of Theobald's edition of Shakespeare (MSS 467)

Page of Virginia Gazette Day Book showing a purchase of Theobald’s edition of Shakespeare (MSS 467)

Joseph Hutchings purchased 8 volumes of of Shakespeare "for [his] self" (MSS 467).

The Virginia Gazette records show Joseph Hutchings purchasing 8 volumes of Shakespeare “for [him] self” (MSS 467).

Alongside Shakespeare in the Virginia Gazette Daybook, I found a recorded purchase of two of Samuel Richardson's novels, "Clarissa: Or, the History of a Young Lady" (1747-8) and "The History of Sir Charles Grandison" (1753).

Alongside Shakespeare in the Virginia Gazette records are two of Samuel Richardson’s novels, “Clarissa: Or, the History of a Young Lady” (1747-8) and “The History of Sir Charles Grandison” (1753). (MSS 467)

 

Alongside Shakespeare in the Virginia Gazette records are many educational texts such as Lilly's Latin Grammar. (MSS 467)

Alongside Shakespeare in the Virginia Gazette records are many educational texts such as Lilly’s Latin Grammar. (MSS 467)

Thanks largely to new performances of Shakespeare plays, Garrick’s Shakespeare Jubilee, and new editions of Shakespeare works in the eighteenth century, Shakespeare’s words come alive by the nineteenth century. The accounts of Bell & Co. reflect this increasing popularity. I found seven copies of Shakespeare sold at Bell & Co. over the course of the nineteenth century (1809–1899). The specific ledger we are using in the exhibition shows Shakespeare alongside Susanna Rowson’s novel Charlotte Temple, Wordsworth, Cooper’s Virgil, and the Bible.

Bell & Co. sold Shakespeare for "6.50" (MSS 2989).

Bell & Co. sold Shakespeare for “6.50.” Different types of currency were in use in the colonies at this time. Without further research, all we can tell from this record is that it is expensive and suggests that the reader bought a multi-volume set (MSS 2989).

On the same page, Bell & Co. recorded the purchase of Susanna Rowson's novel "Charlotte Temple" and two grammar books.

On the same page as Shakespeare, Bell & Co. recorded the purchase of Susanna Rowson’s novel “Charlotte Temple” and two grammar books. (MSS 2989)

Finally, in the twentieth century, Shakespeare begins to be studied and to be studied as a father of the English language. Today, Shakespeare is probably the most often memorized, most often recited English author in schools. I still can recite the famous speech of Titania’s from A Midsummer’s Night Dream that I memorized in the tenth grade and that begins “Set your heart at rest.” But as the exhibition at the Special Collections Library will show us in February, our hearts do anything but rest when we hear the heartbeat of Shakespeare’s iambs, even four hundred years after his death.

 

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On View Now: American Broadsides to 1860

This week’s feature is a post by George Riser, Collections and Instruction Assistant for the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

American Broadsides to 1860 features 72 broadsides—almost exclusively American and dating prior to 1860—drawn from the holdings of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. Arrayed in six sections—Proclamations, Political, Military, Goods and Services, Town and Country, and Literary Arts—these examples attest to the broadside’s varied content and breadth of function, while offering a fascinating account of life in early America. They also complement what is perhaps the most significant of all American broadsides: the “Dunlap Broadside” (first printing of the Declaration of Independence) on view in the adjacent Declaration Gallery.” Text by David Whitesell from the exhibition’s introductory panel.

One case of the exhibition American Broadsides to 1860. Photograph by Petrina Jackson.

One case of the exhibition American Broadsides to 1860. Photograph by Petrina Jackson.

The following is a sampling of what you will find in each of the exhibition’s sections.

The earliest broadside on display is found in the “Proclamations” section. “By the King. A Proclamation for the Suppressing a Rebellion Lately Raised Within the Plantation of Virginia,” is King Charles II’s 1676 response to Nathaniel Bacon’s rebellion, which was raging in the fledgling Virginia colony.

Detail of By the King. (fill in). Photograph by Petrina Jackson.

Detail of Charles II (1630-1685). By the King. A Proclamation for the Suppressing a Rebellion Lately Raised Within the Plantation of Virginia. London: Assigns of John Bill and Christopher Barker, 1676. (Broadside 1676 .G744 S63). Photograph by Petrina Jackson.

In the “Military” category, “Boston, 26th of June, 1775,” features a first-hand account, printed just nine days after the Battle of Bunker Hill, offering a somewhat rosy view of the catastrophic attempt to dislodge 1,200 colonial troops who had taken up positions in the hills surrounding Boston.

Boston. Photograph by Petrina Jackson

Boston, 26th of June, 1775. [Boston: John Howe, 1775] (Broadside 1775 .B67). Photograph by Petrina Jackson

In the “Political” section, the “Declaration of the Anti-slavery Convention, 1833,” calls for the formation of a national anti-slavery society—henceforth to be known as the American Anti-Slavery Society—and lists the names of delegates from ten states.

Detail of Declaration of the Anti-slavery Convention. [Philadelphia] : Merrihew & Gunn, [1833] (Broadside .W54 Z99 1833). Photograph by Petrina Jackson.. Photograph by Petrina Jackson.

The “Farm and Country” category features an 1828 broadside advertising a Gander Pull outside of Petersburg, Virginia. A Gander Pull involves the hanging of a neck-greased goose upside down from a scaffold, whereby well-lubricated participants attempt to decapitate the bird as they ride past at full gallop. The event also featured a fish dinner and a barbecue.

Gander Pull. Photograph by Petrina

Gary, Rich[ar]d. Gander Pull. Petersburg [Va.]: Old Dominion Office, [1828] (Broadside 1828 .G27). Photograph by Petrina

Two University of Virginia broadsides are found in the “Goods and Services” section: “Explanations, of the Ground Plan of the University of Virginia,” printed in Charlottesville in 1824. This broadside, printed to accompany Peter Maverick’s 1822 engraved “Plan of the University,” describes the pavilions, locations of the hotels, and the placement of the Rotunda, as well as the general layout of the only partly completed university Grounds. The 1825 program, “University of Virginia. This Institution Was Opened on the 5th Day of March, 1825,” was used to draft the text of the program for the second session of 1826. The first line—“This institution was opened on the 5th day of 1825”—is crossed out and changed in manuscript to read, “will commence its next session on the 1st day of February, 1826.” Other alterations indicate changes made for the second session.

University of Virginia. Photograph by Petrina Jackson.

University of Virginia. This Institution Was Opened on the 5th Day of March, 1825 … [Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1825?] (Broadside 1825 .U65).. Photograph by Petrina Jackson.

In the “Literary” section don’t miss, “Theatre. On Friday Evening, September 15th, Will be Presented the Grand Operatical Romance of The Forty Thieves.” This 1809 announcement for a performance at the Park Theatre in New York features appearances by both of Edgar Allan Poe’s parents, eight months after his birth. In this dramatization of Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves, Mr. [David] Poe appears as the 1st Robber, Mrs. [Elizabeth] Poe as the clever slave girl, Morgiana.

Forty Thieves. Photograph by Petrina Jackson

Theatre. On Friday Evening, September 15th, Will be Presented the Grand Operatical Romance of The Forty Thieves. [New York: New Theatre, 1809] (PS2630.5 .T54 1809). Photograph by Petrina Jackson

In addition, there are 64 other fascinating broadsides on display, each offering a unique and varied look at American culture in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The exhibition may be viewed in the barrel-vaulted hallway on the first floor of the Harrision/Small building, just outside of the Albert and Shirley Small Declaration Gallery.

 

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