Tales from Under Grounds II: Pastimes, Play Time, Illustration, and Literature

This is the second in a series of four blog posts, spotlighting the mini-exhibitions of fall semester 2014 students from USEM 1570: Researching History.  The following is the abridged version of the students’ final projects, featured at their outreach program, Tales from Under Grounds II.

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Regina Chung, First-Year Student

Regina Chung

Photograph of Regina Chung by Sanjay Suchak, November 18, 2014.

Monticello Music

Thomas Jefferson declared that music “is the favorite passion of my soul, and fortune has cast my lot in a country where it is in a state of deplorable barbarism.” Jefferson practiced the violin three hours a day and would later share his love for music with his wife, Martha, and then his daughters. He would not only spread this passion among his family, but also as a political tool that would lead to wide popularity with his lively campaign songs.

Using scrapbooks, notebooks, music programs, political campaign songs, and newsclippings, this exhibition displays the passion Jefferson held for music in his personal and work life.

This scrapbook of 18th century songs, ballads, and cantatas were collected by Thomas Jefferson and his family. There are 95 titles in this volume from Jefferson's distinct music collection.

Thomas Jefferson’s Scrapbook of Sheet Music. This scrapbook of 18th century songs, ballads, and cantatas were collected by Thomas Jefferson and his family. There are 95 titles in this volume from Jefferson’s distinct music collection. (A 1723-90 .J4 no. 1. Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History)

 

TJ Newsclipping

Newsclipping of a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to his daughter Martha “Patsy” Jefferson, n.d. After Jefferson’s wife’s death, he strongly enforced music upon his eldest daughter, Martha (“Patsy”). In this reprinted letter, he encourages her to continue to learn new music. (MSS 6696. Thomas Jefferson Foundation)

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Lily Davis

Lily Davis

Photograph of Lily Davis by Sanjay Suchak, November 18, 2014.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

 Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was a 19th-century American author. He is known as a “romancer,” examining the inner nature of man, and as a “realist,” using literature to articulate the flaws in American society. Many of his stories have a common theme of probing human nature and criticizing culture. In his books, he examines and scrutinizes Puritan society, which points back to his long line of Puritan ancestors.

The photograph of Hawthorne with his signature across the bottom was taken around the time he wrote The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables, pieces of literature that are still read and loved today. The Scarlet Letter, probably Hawthorne’s most well-known book, provides insight to his Puritan background. The House of Seven Gables was published shortly after The Scarlet Letter and is also set in 19th century New England. Centuries later, Hawthorne is still considered a great American author.

Title page of The Scarlet Letter

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1850. The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850, tells the story of Hester Prynne and her illegitimate child Pearl in Puritan society. This novel was inspired by Hawthorne’s strict Puritan background. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great grandfather, John Hathorne (1641-1717), lived in Salem, Massachusetts and was a prominent judge in the Salem witch trials. Nathaniel Hawthorne eventually added the “w” in his true family name of “Hathorne” (changing it to “Hawthorne”) to distinguish himself from his ancestors. In reading the Scarlet Letter, it is obvious that his writing points to his background.(A 1850 H39 S3. Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History)

Signed Carte de Visite of Nathaniel Hawthorne, ca. 1850s. (MSS 6249. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature)

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Mary Elder, First-Year Student

Mary Elder

Mary Elder discusses her exhibition with visitors, November 18, 2014. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak)

Games of American Children in the Victorian Era

The Victorian Era is viewed as a time of rapid development and change, and it is easy to overlook the role of children in this era. Many of people’s ideas come from films such as A Christmas Carol, and characters such as the grandmother of American Girl’s Samantha, but much can be learned by looking at the toys and games that children enjoyed during this time.

Games and stories can often reveal the values of the time they were played, and Victorian Era games frequently had educational value, or intended to teach moral lessons. Other times, they were simply to keep children occupied quietly. Outdoor and recreational activities were also encouraged to allow children to run and play, but were sometimes limited to boys as many still held the belief that girls should be quiet and dainty.

These games can tell a story as they give us a glimpse into the lives of the younger generation in the late 19th-century. Many of the games and concepts might be familiar to people today and can show the continuity in children’s attitudes toward fun and perpetuity of childhood pleasures.

Toy Catalogue

Selchow & Righter, New York, Manufacturers and Wholesale Dealers in Games and Toys, 1894-1895.  This trade catalog for toys and games provides images, cost, and descriptions of the games. Frequently sold by dozens, costs vary greatly, but many are in the $7-$10 range. Many items, such as the church and blocks, have religious associations, while others, such as the Spelling Boards and reading cabinet, are educational. Many items, such as a ring toss, dolls, toy pianos, and air rifles, would be familiar to children today. (TS199 .A5 T62 no.16. Albert H. Small American Trade Catalogs Collection)

Ruhig Blut Game

Ruhig Blut. New York: Dr. Richter’s Publishing House, 1899. This puzzle, whose name in English is “Be Quiet,” has instructions in German, English, and several other language. It resembles what is now known by many as a Tangram, and the small shaped masonry pieces could be combined in a variety of ways to create pictures. (Lindemann 05868. The McGehee Miniature Book Collection)

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Grace Kim, First-Year Student

Grace Kim

Grace Kim talks to Rare Book Cataloger Gayle Cooper about her exhibition, November 18, 2014. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak)

John Tenniel: An Illustrator with a Punch

Originally, John Tenniel was a classic artist who created oil paintings for the Royal Academy. Dissatisfied, he left to join the illustration world. In 1850, he found a position at the British political magazine Punch, where he would work for fifty years. Citizens soon recognized his drawings, and his work at the magazine would soon allow for other illustrating opportunities. He drew for Thomas Moore’s oriental romance novel, Lalla Rookh, which was considered to contain his best illustrations. He was also the illustrator for The Arabian Nights edition, created by the engravers the Dalziel brothers. Tenniel would constantly go to the Dalziel brothers for the engraving of his drawings.

Tenniel preferred not to use real life models to help him form his illustrations. Instead, he claimed that he could draw anything through the use of memory. This may have helped him when he worked with Lewis Carroll, otherwise known as Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, to create Alice’s fantastical world.

In 1893, John Tenniel became knighted for his work in political cartoons and illustrations. After he retired from Punch about a decade later, he would not take on any other projects.

Illustrations from Alice in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Illus. by John Tenniel. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1866. Most well known for his work with Lewis Carroll, Tenniel includes forty-two of his illustrations in this first American edition. Originally, Carroll wanted to draw the illustrations himself; however, a friend, Thomas Combe, suggested a professional illustrator instead. Lewis Carroll wanted no one other than John Tenniel. His work at Punch led the surreal author to become a big fan. In this particular book, the color marking comes from the original owner, Alice Huff Johnston. (PR4611 .A7 1866. Gift of Clement Dixon Johnston)

Note from Tenniel to Ponny

Note from John Tenniel to Ponny, ca. 1869. Sir John Tenniel reflects on his own reputation in a note to his friend, Ponny, stating, “You say my name is as good as a bank note – I wish you could prove it.” (MSS 6693-a. Gift of Clement Dixon Johnston)

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This Just In: Mapping with Movable Types

This week we feature an acquisition made many years ago, but one whose true significance was discovered only this month. The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library has long possessed a copy of Tableaux historiques & topographiques, ou Relations exactes et impartiales des trois événemens mémorables qui terminèrent la campagne de 1796 sur le Rhin (Basel: Chrétien de Mechel, 1798). Although lacking several plates, the U.Va. copy retains what turns out to be the key plate: a large folding map captioned “Retraite de Bavière en France … 26 Octobre 1796.”

“Retraite de Bavière en France … 26 Octobre 1796,” from Tableaux historiques & topographiques, ou Relations exactes et impartiales des trois événemens mémorables qui terminèrent la campagne de 1796 sur le Rhin (Basel: Chrétien de Mechel, 1798).   (DC220.8 .T3 1798)

“Retraite de Bavière en France … 26 Octobre 1796,” from Tableaux historiques & topographiques, ou Relations exactes et impartiales des trois événemens mémorables qui terminèrent la campagne de 1796 sur le Rhin (Basel: Chrétien de Mechel, 1798). (DC220.8 .T3 1798)

This plate is one of the few known examples of a map set entirely from movable types. Everything—text, borders, and topographic features—has been set by hand using a variety of text fonts as well as a specially designed cartographic font (here heightened with red and greenish-blue hand-coloring).

The map, "composed with movable types," bears the imprint of G[uillaume, i.e. Wilhelm] Haas, the Basel [Switzerland] typefounder who cut and cast the special cartographic font.

The map, “composed with movable types,” bears the imprint of G[uillaume, i.e. Wilhelm] Haas, the Basel [Switzerland] typefounder who cut and cast the special cartographic font.

Until the later 18th century, maps were printed in one of two ways: either from a relief block (typically a woodcut, with all non-printing areas cut away from the block’s top surface); or from an intaglio plate (typically an engraving, with the map’s lines cut into the surface of a copper plate). The same could be said for nearly all pre-1800 book illustrations, that is, they were produced using a limited repertoire of relief and intaglio processes—chiefly woodcut, wood engraving, engraving, etching, and mezzotint—rather than being set (like text) using fonts of metal type.

A detail showing the special symbols used to denote towns of various sizes, mountainous areas, rivers, roads &c. Note especially the tiny gaps (printing as white lines) between, e.g. the types used to set the meandering rivers.

A detail showing the special symbols used to denote towns of various sizes, mountainous areas, rivers, roads &c. Note especially the tiny gaps (printing as white lines) between, e.g., the types used to set the meandering rivers.

In the early 1770s, August Gottlieb Preuschen of Karlsruhe, Germany, invented an alternative to the printing of maps from engraved copper plates: a 21-character cartographic type font. Preuschen’s idea was realized through the technical skill of Wilhelm Haas, a typefounder in Basel, Switzerland, who perfected and cast the cartographic font and, in 1776, published the first map composed entirely from movable types. Over the next two decades, Haas continued to refine and expand his cartographic font until it contained at least 139 different characters, or “sorts.” These were special symbols, not letters, including 24 designed for depicting streams and rivers, 17 for borders, 14 for roads, 31 for charting military movements, 15 for human habitations, 6 for mountains and forests, and 32 for coastlines. All told, Haas employed his proprietary font to publish approximately two dozen typographic maps, including the “Retraite de Bavière en France … 26 Octobre 1796.”

Note how the outline of Lake Constance is formed using separate pieces of type, each consisting of multiple horizontal lines; many of the pieces probably were individually filed down to create custom shapes. The bluish tint and red highlighting were hand-applied.

Note how the outline of Lake Constance is formed using separate pieces of type, each consisting of multiple horizontal lines; many of the pieces probably were individually filed down to create custom shapes. The bluish tint and red highlighting were hand-applied.

In setting these maps, Haas’s compositors worked from manuscript maps drawn on gridded paper. By breaking the complex cartographic image into small units, the compositors were better able to translate the image into small blocks of type metal. In doing so they faced two principal problems. First, the twists and turns of rivers and roads could be approximated but not rendered exactly, as could be done through engraving. Second, great care was needed to “lock up” these disparate assemblages of movable types so that they would not shift during printing. Type fonts are designed so that each sort has the same height, or “body size.” As long as each horizontal row of movable type contains sorts of the same height, a page consisting of several thousand small rectangles of metal type will “lock up” easily. Because Haas’s cartographic font contained sorts with a range of body sizes, which could not be arranged into uniform rows, it was necessary to painstakingly add filler material to the irregular gaps between types. In essence, the process was more like assembling a mosaic than setting type.

Haas's cartographic font contained types in at least five different widths for setting rivers and streams--note how some rivers progressively narrow in width. Rivers follow a meandering course, though their paths look more representational than accurate--a major limitation of Haas's font.

Haas’s cartographic font contained types in at least five different widths for setting rivers and streams–note how some rivers progressively narrow in width. Rivers follow a meandering course, though their paths look more representational than accurate–a major limitation of Haas’s font.

In principle, Haas’s cartographic font could claim several advantages over copperplate engraving: maps could be prepared more quickly, revision was easier, and unlimited impressions could be taken. But decided disadvantages remained for the prospective map publisher: only a limited level of accuracy could be achieved, and a large initial investment would be necessary to purchase the requisite types. Soon, however, the invention of lithography (and later, wax engraving) gave cartographers a far easier method for reproducing maps accurately, and Haas’s font was never adopted by other map publishers.

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Tales from Under Grounds II: Plato, Darwin, Early Medical Practices, and Peaceful Protests

This is the first in a series of four posts, spotlighting the mini-exhibitions of students from USEM 1570: Researching History, Fall 2014.

Last semester, I taught USEM 1570: Researching History for the second time. The course gives first-year students the opportunity to learn about and immerse themselves in primary source research. For most undergraduates, archival research is scary stuff. However, my students bravely navigated through the rich array of research materials held in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, sharing what they learned with friends, family, and the general public. Sharing what they learned was most evident in their final assignment, curating a mini-exhibition. The mini-exhibition had to illustrate a particular story with only five items of varying formats. After creating the exhibitions, these budding researchers  presented them at their outreach program, Tales from Under Grounds II.

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

Note: only two selections per student are shown.

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Maryknoll Hemingway, First-Year Student

Maryknoll Hemingway

Photograph of Maryknoll Hemingway by Sanjay Suchak, November 18, 2014.

Plato at U.Va.

Known for his philosophies on political science, the soul, and love, the ancient Greek Plato is one of the most infamous men of world history. At the Albert and Shirley Small Collections Library at the University of Virginia, there is material on the works and reviews of Plato and his ideas and theories. Of the works presented here are translations of two works of Plato, a letter appraisal, and a review by Thomas Jefferson.

In this collection, reviewers negatively and positively respond to Plato’s philosophies, most suggesting, such as Author Samuel Goodrich, that Plato was at the “highest point, in the search after divine knowledge which has ever been attained, without the direct aid of inspiration.” In contrast, Jefferson, stated that “[Plato’s] dialogues are libels on Socrates.” Accompanied by two compositions and a brief biography, this exhibition shows Plato’s works and reviews of his philosophies as one of the world’s most famous men of all time.

Jefferson, Thomas. Jefferson on Plato. Roanoke, Virginia: Stone Printing & Manufacturing Company, 1941. (B393 .J4 1941) Thomas Jefferson wrote a review on Plato’s infamous The Republic of Plato and, it is apparent that he was not particularly impressed by the writings of Plato. This brief and concise five page review provides Jefferson’s raw opinion of Plato’s ideals. Similar pamphlets were printed, totaling 600 copies. This one in particular was privately printed for John Wyllie, early curator of rare books and manuscripts at the University of Virginia.

Jefferson, Thomas. Jefferson on Plato. Roanoke, Virginia: Stone Printing & Manufacturing Company, 1941. Thomas Jefferson wrote a review on Plato’s “The Republic of Plato,” and it is apparent that he was not particularly impressed by the writings of Plato. This brief and concise five page review provides Jefferson’s raw opinion of Plato’s ideals. Similar pamphlets were printed, totaling 600 copies. This one in particular was privately printed for John Wyllie, early curator of rare books and manuscripts at the University of Virginia. (B393 .J4 1941)

 

Baron Alfred Tennyson, Letter to Benjamin Jowett, May 4, 1858 (MSS 10499) This is a handwritten letter from Alfred Tennyson to Benjamin Jowett, featuring a picture of Tennyson. In this letter, Tennyson praises the works of Plato and thanks his correspondence, Jowett, for the copies and recommendation of the books. In Tennyson’s opinion, he is “unworthy” of reading Plato’s pieces, but asks Jowett for page numbers as references to key points, and possible favorite sections of the books.

Baron Alfred Tennyson, Letter to Benjamin Jowett, May 4, 1858.
This is a handwritten letter from Alfred Tennyson to Benjamin Jowett, featuring a picture of Tennyson. In this letter, Tennyson praises the works of Plato and thanks Jowett for copies and recommendation of books. In Tennyson’s opinion, he [Tennyson] is “unworthy” of reading Plato’s pieces, but asks Jowett for page numbers as references to key points, and possible favorite sections of the books. (MSS 10499)

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Josh Huttler, First-Year Student

Josh Huttler

Photograph of Josh Huttler by Sanjay Suchak, November 18, 2014.

Monkey-Man or Genius: The Development of Charles Darwin’s Evolutionist Theories and Public Response

Throughout the nineteenth century, Charles Darwin was one of the principle contributors to the theory of evolution. Following his expeditions on the H.M.S Beagle, Darwin produced one of the most influential and controversial texts of the era: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.

In this collection of artifacts, a Conrad Martens watercolor of the H.M.S Beagle and a first edition copy of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species reflect the development of Darwinian evolutionist thought. Further, several cartoons from British periodicals, a magazine describing religious responses, and an obituary released after Darwin’s death illustrate the mixed public reactions to Darwin’s work. Several of these items refer to one of Darwin’s most contentious and publicized ideas— the concept that man and monkey share a common ancestor.

Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. London: John Murray, 1859.  (QH365 .O2 1859) Gift of Colonel J.R. Fox Published almost twenty years after The Voyage of the Beagle, this first edition copy of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species set the foundation for new evolutionist theory. Amongst other important topics, this text outlines the theories of natural selection and species variation while building on the ideas of his evolutionist predecessors.

Darwin, Charles. “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” London: John Murray, 1859.
Published almost twenty years after The Voyage of the Beagle, this first edition copy of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” set the foundation for new evolutionist theory. Amongst other important topics, this text outlines the theories of natural selection and species variation while building on the ideas of his evolutionist predecessors. (QH365 .O2 1859. Gift of Colonel J. R. Fox)

Martens, Conrad. Terra Del Fuego: H.M.S. Beagle Under the Land, ca. 1834.  (MSS 3314)  Paul Victorius Evolution Collection This watercolor of the H.M.S. Beagle reflects the ship landing in Tierra Del Fuego, a South American archipelago. Darwin developed many of his early evolutionist theories during his almost five-year expedition on this ship. Darwin discusses some of his findings from the expedition in his book The Voyage of the Beagle.

Martens, Conrad. Terra Del Fuego: H.M.S. Beagle Under the Land, ca. 1834.
This watercolor of the H.M.S. Beagle reflects the ship landing in Tierra Del Fuego, a South American archipelago. Darwin developed many of his early evolutionist theories during his almost five-year expedition on this ship. Darwin discusses some of his findings from the expedition in his book The Voyage of the Beagle. (MSS 3314. Paul Victorius Evolution Collection)

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Sierra Teate, First-Year Student

Sierra Teate

Photograph of Sierra Teate discussing her mini-exhibition with library staff, November 18, 2014. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak)

What Was Medicine Really Like During the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century in Charlottesville, Virginia?

Everyone knows medicine has come a long way since the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, but just how different were practices and philosophies then? Despite substantial discoveries that had been made hundreds of years before, much more progress needed to be made.

The sources displayed here give a first hand look at how doctors and upcoming doctors in Charlottesville, Virginia viewed their profession as well as how they diagnosed and treated their patients. It is obvious that many of their practices are foreign to us today. For example, now at the University of Virginia, students do not pose for a picture with cadavers. Hospital receipts are printed on very different paper. Some remedies doctors used are definitely frowned upon now. Yet, we still of course have many similarities with this generation of medical professionals. They record their patients’ symptoms, speak at medical events, and vaccinate children. A great deal can be learned about the evolution of medicine from this collection. Beyond being simply fascinating, the history of medicine is important to keep in mind for the future.

Frank Carr's Journal and Commonplace Book, 1810-1838 (MSS 15444)  C. Venable Minor Endowment Fund, 2012/2013. This is the personal journal of Frank Carr, which includes a register of vaccinations during May, 1814 and an extensive description of a man’s case of hydrophobia.

Frank Carr’s Journal and Commonplace Book, 1810-1838.
This is the personal journal of Frank Carr, which includes a register of vaccinations during May, 1814 and an extensive description of a man’s case of hydrophobia. (MSS 15444. C. Venable Minor Endowment Fund, 2012/2013)

 

 Photograph of U.Va. Medical Students, The Sixth Club. Facsimile.  (RG-30/1/10.011) University of Virginia Visual History Collection This picture taken in 1899 shows University of Virginia medical students posing with cadavers they have been studying.


Photograph of U.Va. Medical Students, The Sixth Club, 1899.
This picture shows University of Virginia medical students posing with cadavers they have been studying. (RG-30/1/10.011. University of Virginia Visual History Collection. Image by University of Virginia Digitization Services)

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Nick Kumleben, First-Year Student

Nick Kumleben

Nick Kumleben discusses his mini-exhibition with visitors, November 18, 2014. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak)

Peaceful Protest in the 20th Century: from Cape Town to Charlottesville

This exhibition tracks the development of ideas and forms of peaceful protest in the 20th century, beginning with Mohandas Gandhi’s campaigns in South Africa and India, moving on to document the civil rights campaigns in 1950s and 1960s America, to the more recent South African and international protests against apartheid. It aims to give the viewer a sense of the development of peaceful protest as a political and social tool, the demographics that took part and its eventual success, or lack of, in changing the course of 20th-century history. It is particularly interesting to observe the difference and the evolution in terms of how the movements were commemorated, both by those who attended and those who chronicled it in print.

The focus on South Africa also allows us to consider the changing political landscape of that country, especially the dynamic of internal protest first gaining external coverage, then a previously local protest movement expanding to become an international phenomenon in an increasingly globalized world.

The Indian Opinion, Souvenir of the Passive Resistance Movement in South Africa, 1906-1914. Phoenix, Natal, South Africa, 1914.  (DT763 .S88 1914) Gift of R. Smith Simpson Featured is a commemorative edition of the Indian Opinion magazine celebrating the passive resistance campaign spearheaded by Mohandas Gandhi in South Africa from 1906-1914, resulting in the eventual repeal of pass laws for the Indian population. This campaign was where Gandhi developed his idea of satyagraha, or devotion to the truth through the form of nonviolent protest.

The Indian Opinion, Souvenir of the Passive Resistance Movement in South Africa, 1906-1914. Phoenix, Natal, South Africa, 1914. Featured is a commemorative edition of the “Indian Opinion” magazine, celebrating the passive resistance campaign spearheaded by Mohandas Gandhi in South Africa from 1906-1914, resulting in the eventual repeal of pass laws for the Indian population. This campaign was where Gandhi developed his idea of satyagraha, or devotion to the truth through the form of nonviolent protest. (DT763 .S88 1914. Gift of R. Smith Simpson)

 

Atcheson Laughlin Hench. Anti-Apartheid Rally. Photograph, 1987 (RG-30/1/10.011) University of Virginia Visual History Collection This photograph, taken in 1987, depicts University of Virginia law students in the McIntire Amphitheatre, peacefully protesting the racially divisive apartheid system in South Africa. Hench, a University professor since 1922, was also a keen chronicler of University life through photography and many of his pictures remain in the University’s Visual History Collection. The apartheid government would begin the process of handover to a democratic system three years later in 1990.

Paula Windridge. Photograph of Anti-Apartheid Rally, 1987.
This photograph depicts University of Virginia law students in the McIntire Amphitheatre, peacefully protesting the racially divisive apartheid system in South Africa. The apartheid government would begin the process of handover to a democratic system three years later in 1990. (RG-30/1/10.011. University of Virginia Visual History Collection. Image by University of Virginia Digitization Services)

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William Blake, Visionary

A new exhibition, “William Blake, Visionary / Envisioning William Blake,” is now on view in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library’s 1st floor exhibition gallery. William Blake (1757-1827) died in obscurity, the genius of his visionary art only imperfectly comprehended by an appreciative few. Nearly two centuries later, however, Blake is universally recognized as one of England’s greatest artists and poets. This two-part exhibition begins by briefly outlining selected aspects of his life and art. The second half traces the fascinating process by which later generations have rediscovered Blake, gathered and disseminated his rare and widely dispersed work, and sought to envision this visionary artist.

Part I of the exhibition: "William Blake, Visionary."

Part I of the exhibition: “William Blake, Visionary.”

The exhibition draws primarily from the Sandra Elizabeth Olivier and Raymond Danowski Reference Collection of William Blake, a magnificent gift to the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library received in 2010. Its 275 titles in some 400 volumes have remedied a long-standing weakness in our formidable holdings of 18th- and 19th-century British literature. Internationally renowned for having formed an exceptionally comprehensive collection of 20th-century English and American poetry, Raymond Danowski also built an impressive collection of works by and about William Blake. We are deeply grateful to the Danowskis for designating U.Va. as its permanent home, and for continuing to augment the collection.

The engraved frontispiece and title page to Robert Blair, The Grave: a poem (London: T. Bensley for R. H. Cromek, 1808), illustrated by William Blake. The portrait of Blake at the age of 48 was engraved after a painting by Thomas Phillips.

The engraved frontispiece and title page to Robert Blair, The Grave: a poem (London: T. Bensley for R. H. Cromek, 1808), illustrated by William Blake. The portrait of Blake at the age of 48 was engraved after a painting by Thomas Phillips.

Few of Blake’s contemporaries displayed genius as wide-ranging as his. Although mostly self-taught, Blake was admired for his outstanding poetic gifts. Yet because his verse was self-published in a small number of copies, it was little read during his lifetime. As an artist, Blake was an innovative master of several media: engraving, etching, wood engraving, drawing, watercolor, and tempera painting. He was best known in his own day as an engraver and etcher of book illustrations, in particular for his designs to Edward Young’s Night thoughts (1797) and Robert Blair’s The grave (1808). Perhaps Blake’s greatest achievement as an engraver was his Illustrations of the Book of Job (1826), though like many of his publications, it was not a commercial success.

Frontispiece to William Blake's illuminated book, Europe: A Prophecy (1794), reproduced from the 1969 facsimile edition printed by the Trianon Press for the William Blake Trust.

Frontispiece to William Blake’s illuminated book, Europe: A Prophecy (1794), reproduced from the 1969 facsimile edition printed by the Trianon Press for the William Blake Trust.

It was in the so-called “illuminated books” that Blake found an ideal medium for his singular genius. Blake’s intense spiritual life—what some contemporaries considered madness—found expression in verse and unforgettable images which Blake drew in reverse on copper plates, etched in relief, printed in colors, and then hand-illuminated with watercolor, paint, even gold leaf. It was a process under his complete artistic control, a process which empowered him to publish copies on demand. Sadly, demand proved to be slight.

Part II of the exhibition: "Envisioning William Blake."

Part II of the exhibition: “Envisioning William Blake.”

Part of the fascination of William Blake is the process by which he has steadily, but unevenly, risen from obscurity to universal fame. Though his literary and artistic output was not overlarge, many have found something irresistible within its singularity and diversity. So it was with the Pre-Raphaelites, who admired Blake’s verse and his uncompromising artistic vision in the face of prolonged adversity. Later audiences have warmed to his brilliant images, his mysticism, and the challenge of comprehending the abstruse philosophy enshrined in Blake’s illuminated books.

Home page of the William Blake Archive (www.blakearchive.org), a comprehensive online resource for Blake studies. A pioneering effort in the digital humanities, the website was launched in 1996. U.Va.'s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) has provided substantial technical assistance for the site since 1993.

Home page of the William Blake Archive (www.blakearchive.org), a comprehensive online resource for Blake studies. A pioneering effort in the digital humanities, the website was launched in 1996. U.Va.’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) has provided significant technical assistance for the site since 1993.

Blake has long been a magnet for scholars who, over the past 150 years, have made substantial progress in solving the puzzles presented by his life and art. Despite a paucity of primary sources, we now know far more about Blake’s life and his innovative artistic methods. Through the labors of Sir Geoffrey Keynes and others, it is likely that nearly all extant copies of Blake’s illuminated books, as well as his drawings, watercolors, paintings, and commercial engravings, have been located and cataloged. Many of these are now accessible in faithful color facsimiles. A multitude of scholars have delineated Blake’s philosophy and debated its meaning. And through advances in the digital humanities—particularly those made at U.Va. over the past two decades—we now have, in the William Blake Archive and other online resources, powerful tools for envisioning Blake in ever new ways.

The exhibition, which is open Monday-Thursday 9 a.m.-9 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (with occasional exceptions), will remain on view through May 3.

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Really Getting One’s Hands Dirty in the Archives: An Historian of Science Turns Archivist for a Semester

This week, we are pleased to feature a guest post by Professor of History and Mathematics Karen V. H. Parshall. It is hard to express just how grateful we are for Professor Parshall’s exceptional generosity in volunteering to process the Gordon T. Whyburn Papers over the past several months. She has been a fixture in the back corner of the reading room, surrounded by boxes, and it was a bit sad when she finished the project because she’s been such a joy of a colleague. We asked if she’d be willing to share some of her observations on her experience with the blog.

In the course of my research toward a new book project on the history of American mathematics between the two World Wars, I needed to consult the collection of the influential American mathematician, Gordon T. Whyburn, which I knew had been deposited in UVa’s Department of Special Collections.  On searching the online catalogue, though, I found a puzzling remark.  The collection was in eleven “cubics.”  Scratching my head, I e-mailed Heather Riser, Head of Reference and Research Services in Special Collections and my friend and colleague, to ask her what that meant exactly.  I could almost hear the sigh in her reply: “It means that the collection has not been processed and is currently in eleven very large, uncatalogued boxes.”

After spending two days literally going through each box just to get a sense of what was there, I realized that the collection contained some amazing material and represented a resource key to my ongoing research.  The only problem was … how to use it in its unorganized state?  Thinking on that question for a couple of days, I, not without more than some trepidation, approached Heather with a disclaimer and a proposition.  The disclaimer?  I am definitely not a professional archivist, but I am a professional and seasoned user of archives.  The proposition? Would Special Collections consider allowing me full access to the collection for a semester to put order into it and to make at least a first draft of a finding guide?  After just a couple of days, the answer came back as “yes!”

Professor Parshall hard at work. Not only did she organize all the materials, she rehoused the entire collection, replacing dusty old file folders and boxes with fresh archival ones.

Professor Parshall hard at work. Not only did she organize all the materials, she rehoused the entire collection, replacing dusty old file folders and boxes with fresh archival ones. (Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

What an interesting mess I confronted, yet what intense satisfaction I felt throughout the semester as I not only brought, little by little, order to chaos but also found an historian’s treasure trove! As I discovered, the Whyburn Papers open a fascinating window on the mechanics of creating a research department of mathematics from scratch and on the motivations for doing so in the South and in the depths of the Depression of the 1930s.  Only archives have the potential to answer such thorny questions, and I am indeed lucky that the professional archivists in Special Collections trusted this amateur with the task of opening up the rich Whyburn collection.

Karen Parshall, Honorary Archival Processor Extraordinaire.

Karen Parshall, Honorary Archival Processor Extraordinaire.

 

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This Just In: We Welcome The Day of Doom!

Today’s post actually concerns an important acquisition made nearly two years ago. At that time the item was too fragile for reader use. But after extensive conservation treatment, it is now ready and available. Please join us in welcoming to our shelves Michael Wigglesworth’s celebrated didactic poem, The day of doom!

The title page to Michael Wigglesworth's The Day of Doom (Boston, 1701). It is bound, as issued, following the second edition of Wigglesworth's other verse collection, Meat Out of the Eater (Boston, 1689).

The title page to Michael Wigglesworth’s The Day of Doom (Boston, 1701). It is bound, as issued, following the second edition of Wigglesworth’s other verse collection, Meat Out of the Eater (Boston, 1689).

The day of doom, a quintessentially Puritan poem of over 200 eight-line stanzas vividly describing Judgment Day and the torments awaiting sinners in Hell, was the first book of poetry printed in the American Colonies and the first American bestseller. Its author, Michael Wigglesworth, graduated from Harvard in 1651 and served the town of Malden, Mass., as minister and physician. The day of doom is the foundation of any collection of early American literature, yet it is also one of the legendary rarities of early American printing. Only one fragmentary copy survives of the first edition, printed in Cambridge, Mass., ca. 1662, and only four fragmentary copies of the second edition of 1666. For the past century the Boston, 1715 edition (there is a copy at U.Va. in the Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History) has been what booksellers term the “earliest obtainable edition,” that is, the earliest one could still hope to find a copy of.

Wigglesworth explains (and the popularity of his Day of Doom proves) why a stanza of verse is worth more than the proverbial thousand words of sermon.

Wigglesworth explains (and the popularity of his Day of Doom proves) why a stanza of verse is worth more than the proverbial thousand words of sermon.

Two years ago a previously unrecorded copy of the Boston, 1701 edition—the third printed in America—unexpectedly surfaced. It is the eighth known copy, and one of only three that are complete. Passed down from generation to generation in one New England family for three centuries, it was acquired by a bookseller who immediately gave U.Va. first refusal. The offer could not be refused, for U.Va.’s otherwise superlative American literature collection has notable gaps in its Colonial-era holdings. This acquisition, purchased on the McGregor Endowment, Library Associates, and Robert and Virginia Tunstall Trust Funds, significantly remedies that weakness.

A portion of Wigglesworth's vivid verse description of the torments awaiting sinners in Hell.

A portion of Wigglesworth’s vivid verse description of the torments awaiting sinners in Hell.

The volume actually contains two works bound together: the 1701 Day of doom (Boston: Printed by B. Green, and J. Allen, for Benjamin Eliot), and the second edition (Boston: Printed by R. P[ierce] for John Usher, 1689) of Wigglesworth’s only other book of poetry, Meat out of the eater or meditations concerning the necessity, end, and usefulness of afflictions unto Gods children, of which this is only the sixth known copy. This newly discovered copy is especially important because it proves what bibliographers have long suspected: that the 1689 work was reissued in 1701 with a new printing of the Day of doom to form a volume containing Wigglesworth’s collected works.

An opening from Meat Out of the Eater, showing a bit of textual loss and some of the marginal mends made to virtually every leaf.

An opening from Meat Out of the Eater, showing a bit of textual loss and some of the marginal mends made to virtually every leaf.

When received, the volume lacked two leaves and portions of others and was in very fragile state, with marginal tears to virtually every leaf. The blind-tooled calf binding, probably done in Boston shortly after publication, was quite worn, and a previous owner had crudely repaired the original sewing. Several generations of owners had added their signatures to the book. Clearly the volume had been read so frequently as to nearly wear it out. All in all, a very evocative object, but one that was too fragile to use. But because this unexpected opportunity would almost certainly be the only chance we would ever have to obtain a copy of either of these exceptionally rare works in any condition, we decided to acquire it.

At left is the volume's original blind-tooled calf binding. At right is the volume in its new calf binding by U.Va. Library conservator Eliza Giligan, copying the original style and structure.

At left is the volume’s original blind-tooled calf binding. At right is the volume in its new calf binding by U.Va. Library conservator Eliza Giligan, copying the original style and structure.

In order to preserve the volume and make it available for research, teaching, and exhibition, the U.Va. Library’s conservator, Eliza Gilligan, undertook a thorough conservation treatment, now successfully completed. First, the original binding and sewing were thoroughly documented. Then the binding was carefully removed (it will be retained permanently for research purposes); the text leaves carefully washed, deacidified, and mended with Japanese tissue; the textblock reassembled and resewn; and a new calf binding, tooled like the original, added. Now nearly as good as new, the book can be handled safely and will inform many future generations of readers about the Day of Doom!

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Collecting History in Real Time

As early as November 21st, a spontaneous display of notes, supporting rape survivors and expressing grief and anger, began appearing at the entrance of Peabody Hall, home of the Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Admissions. The display was the result of the controversial Rolling Stone article, “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA” by Sabrina Rubin Erdely.

Display of Notes on the doors of Peabody Hall, 10 December 2014. (Photograph taken by Edward Gaynor.).

Display of notes on the doors of Peabody Hall, 10 December 2014. (Photograph by Edward Gaynor)

Staff at special collections and archives across the country, including the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, have become increasingly active in collecting material, ephemeral and otherwise, born out of crises that have rocked their communities. These records–be they notes, flowers, posters, photographs, poems, press releases, online articles, etc.–help to document and provide insight into the actions, reactions, and  emotions of the people, institutions, and their associated communities as they are impacted by each wave of the event. We know from experience that our own students and faculty are deeply interested in researching events from the university’s past, distant and recent alike, and we want to ensure that we can provide future generations with a rich record of our present.

During U.Va. finals week, the Dean of Admissions contacted Library Administration, who in turn contacted Special Collections staff, to start the process of removing the notes for permanent preservation. On Wednesday of finals week, Librarian for Virginiana and University Archives Edward Gaynor and Rare Books Cataloger Gayle Cooper removed the notes and other ephemera from the doors and brought them to Special Collections.

To get the materials researcher-ready, staff had to answer questions, like “How do you preserve it?” and “How do you capture something so ephemeral?” The first step was to temporarily house them by sticking them to archival folders.

Notes from Peabody Hall door, temporarily housed on archival folders, 10 December 2014. (Photograph by Edward Gaynor)

Notes from the Peabody Hall door, temporarily housed on archival folders, 10 December 2014. (Photograph by Edward Gaynor)

The second step was to consult Library Conservator Eliza Gilligan for guidance in permanently housing and treating the items. She suggested transferring the notes to pieces of archival mat board cut to the size of our standard document box, and then shelving them in the University Archives. She recommended methyl cellulose as the adhesive and determined that placing each piece of mat board in a labelled folder would best support later scanning, display, and researcher use. What about the flowers? They will be freeze-dried in the Preservation Department’s freezer.

Now that the preservation and housing methods have been decided upon, our manuscripts and archival processing staff will begin arranging and describing the notes so that they will be fully processed and accessible to the public spring semester 2015.

***

Do you have fliers, posters, signs, or other materials related to the current events surrounding sexual violence at U.Va.? If so, please consider donating them to Special Collections. Just drop them by the reference desk, or contact Edward Gaynor at efg2f@virginia.edu.

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On View Now: “At the Front: World War I Series Books for Girls”

We are so pleased to announce our newest mini-exhibition, curated by Susan Swicegood, Wolfe Docent in the Harrison Institute. Susan is a fourth year student in the Master of Teaching program at the Curry School of Education. Her joint undergraduate major is in English. So, it was no surprise when, upon beginning to learn about the collections here with curator and supervisor Molly Schwartzburg, she gravitated towards a project involving the marvelous Arthur P. and Christopher P. Young Collection of World War I Juvenile Series Books. We’ll give you a sneak peek at the show below, with selections from the exhibition’s text.

“At the Front: World War I Series Books for Girls”

Detail of cover art from Martha Trent, “Alice Blythe Somewhere in England: A War Time Story,” illustrated by Charles L. Wrenn (New York: Barse & Hopkins Publishers, 1918)(PZ9 .Y67 no. 474)

After the Great War began in 1914, and even more so after the United States became involved in 1917, many children experienced the war through characters in series books. While some girl protagonists “do their bit” on the home front through food drives and benefit concerts, many leave for the front themselves.

From ***

Detail of cover art from Aline Harvard, “Captain Lucy in France” (Philadelphia: The Penn Publishing Company, 1919). (PZ9 .Y67 no. 246)

These teenage characters—ranging in age from twelve to seventeen—dutifully serve as nurses in the Red Cross, drive ambulances, rescue lost soldiers, and uncover German spies.

Detail of frontispiece from Martha Trent, “Alice Blythe Somewhere in England: A War Time Story,” illustrated by Charles L. Wrenn (New York: Barse & Hopkins Publishers, 1918)(PZ9 .Y67 no 474)

The popularity of these books with American youth is undeniable, and with such far-fetched and fantastical adventures, girls could imagine the part they could play in gaining victory. In an almost propagandistic way, these books sold the war to young women as a chance to leave their homes and fight alongside the boys. Yet though the characters show an amazing degree of agency at the front, they return after the war’s end to the docile, domestic spaces they had left behind. Invariably, the heroine manages to find—or rescue—a fiancé along the way.

This exhibition will remain on view until the end of February, 2015.

A sneak preview of some of the items on display.

A sneak preview of some of the items on display.

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The Book in Tibet

U.Va. has long been a world leader in advancing our understanding of the Western book through bibliographical scholarship. Happily, U.Va.’s considerable bibliographical expertise is now being applied more broadly, as scholars take an increasing interest in adapting the techniques of descriptive and analytical bibliography to the Islamic and Asian book.

A page from an 18th-century manuscript copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The text is written in alternating gold and silver ink. The blue-black lacquered paper was created by applying a lacquer made of yak-skin glue, animal brains, and soot, which was then burnished to create an appropriate writing surface.   (MSS 14259)

A page from an 18th-century manuscript copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The text is written in alternating gold and silver ink. The blue-black lacquered paper was created by applying a lacquer made of yak-skin glue, animal brains, and soot, which was then burnished to create an appropriate writing surface. (MSS 14259)

That interest is particularly intense right now than in the field of Tibetan studies. On November 6-8, U.Va. hosted an international Symposium on the Tibetan Book, at which many of the world’s leading scholars explored the benefits of applying bibliographical methods to the study of Tibetan books and manuscripts. Organized by doctoral students in U.Va.’s Department of Religious Studies, with financial support from the Jefferson Trust and the Buckner W. Clay Endowment, the symposium also attracted speakers and participants from several other academic departments, Rare Book School, and the U.Va. Library.

Symposium papers ranged from an analysis of scripts in the 9th- and 10th-century manuscripts found at Dunhuang to the archiving of Tibetan websites. Despite the considerable hurdles scholars face in accessing Tibetan books and manuscripts, there was a palpable feeling of excitement among symposium attendees, as the time now seems right for making major advances in the field.

A page from a xylographic printing of The Wish-Fulfilling King of Power, a work by the Fifth Dalai Lama published at the government printing house in Lhasa in the late 7th century.

A page from a xylographic printing of The Wish-Fulfilling King of Power, a work by the Fifth Dalai Lama published at the government printing house in Lhasa in the late 17th century.

Of particular value was a workshop, led by Jim Canary, conservator at Indiana University’s Lilly Library, in which participants made Tibetan paper literally from scratch: boiling the raw ingredients (the inner bark of a woody plant ubiquitous in Tibet), pounding the fibers into mush, constructing a simple paper mold, forming the sheets, and then drying them; following which participants printed in the Tibetan manner: inking woodblocks, applying paper, and transferring the image by rubbing.

In conjunction with the Symposium on the Tibetan Book, the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library is pleased to host an exhibition, “The Book in Tibet,” featuring Tibetan books and manuscripts from the U.Va. Library’s extensive holdings. Curated by Ben Nourse, with assistance from Natasha Mikles and Christie Kilby, “The Book in Tibet” surveys four centuries of Tibetan book production through examples of Tibetan manuscripts, woodblock-printed books, and modern imprints. “The Book in Tibet” will remain on view in our first floor exhibition space through December 2014.

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This Just In: New in the McGregor Library

Every autumn the U.Va. Library hosts the annual Tracy W. and Katherine W. McGregor Distinguished Lecture in American History. This year the speaker was Edward L. Ayers, President of the University of Richmond and formerly professor of history at U.Va., who on October 28 delivered a brilliant talk on “The Shape of the American Civil War.” October is also the month during which we compile a listing of books and manuscripts added over the past year to the Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History. Here are a few highlights.

Increase Mather's notes for a Thanksgiving day sermon, December 2, 1718

Increase Mather’s notes for a Thanksgiving day sermon, December 2, 1718

Manuscripts by the Puritan minister Increase Mather are of great rarity, hence we were delighted to acquire these notes for a sermon, “Thanksgiving throughout ye province,” delivered in Boston on December 2, 1718. Written when Mather was 79, these notes confirm contemporary accounts of his working methods. After decades of experience, Mather no longer needed to write out sermons in full; rather, he preached from memory after sketching out sermons in notes such as these, which he carried to the pulpit as a memory aid. What makes this acquisition even more special is that it had once resided in the celebrated Mather collection formed by a descendant, William G. Mather. When Tracy McGregor purchased Mather’s collection in 1935, he permitted Mather to retain a few items, including this manuscript. Now that it was once again available, we promptly reunited it with the Mather Collection after, coincidentally, a 79-year absence.

Woodcut of a Sioux Indian "queen" from Der Reisen der Capitaine Lewis und clarke ... (Lebanon, Pa., 1811)   (A 1811 .T73)

Woodcut of a Sioux Indian “queen” from Der Reisen der Capitaine Lewis und Clarke … (Lebanon, Pa., 1811) (A 1811 .T73)

Perhaps the year’s most gratifying acquisition has been Die Reisen der Capitaine Lewis und Clarke, which had long been on our desiderata list.  Given that Meriwether Lewis and Thomas Jefferson both had deep Charlottesville roots, we have long been interested in the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Thanks to the McGregor Library, U.Va. has a superb collection of primary printed sources relating to the expedition. The only significant lacuna was this very rare work—a gap now filled. Lewis and Clark returned home in 1806, but publication of the official expedition report was delayed until 1814. Meanwhile the public’s intense interest in the expedition and what it found out west was whetted piecemeal by expedition participants’s published memoirs, newspaper articles, and the like. In 1809 an unauthorized account, culled from published sources, was issued in Philadelphia under the title, The Travels of Capts. Lewis & Clarke. Two years later this abridged German translation helped spread news of the expedition to the Mid-Atlantic’s substantial German-American population. Included are four full-page woodcut Indian portraits copied from the Philadelphia edition.

Public lands in Illinois: January 17, 1839 ... [Vandalia, Ill., 1839]   (A 1839 .I55)

Public lands in Illinois: January 17, 1839 … [Vandalia, Ill., 1839] (A 1839 .I55)

This unprepossessing (and very rare) three-page Illinois state document, Public lands in Illinois: January 17, 1839, might not seem of much interest. However, it takes pride of place as item #1 in the standard bibliography of Abraham Lincoln’s writings, being his first separate publication. Then a 29-year-old Illinois state legislator, Lincoln urges that Illinois borrow $5 million to purchase the 20 million acres of state land then held by the federal government. Income from land sales would fund the state’s ambitious program of public works while simultaneously paying off the loan. The resolution was approved, but Illinois’s senators and congressmen were unable to secure passage in Congress of the requisite federal law.

Augustus Q. Walton [i.e. Virgil Stewart], A history of the detection, conviction, life and designs of John A. Murel ... (New York, 1839)   (A 1839 .W26)

Augustus Q. Walton [i.e. Virgil Stewart], A history of the detection, conviction, life and designs of John A. Murel … (New York, 1839) (A 1839 .W26)

A livelier read is this very rare popular biography of one of early America’s most notorious bandits. Born in Virginia ca. 1806, John Murel (or Murrell) grew up in Tennessee, where he and his brothers pursued lives of crime. Murel’s gang was most active along the Natchez Trace—the trail winding southwest from Nashville down to Natchez on the Mississippi River. His criminal activities all but ended in 1835 when Murel began a ten-year jail term, but his legend was just beginning. The chief trial witness, one Virgil Stewart, promptly published under a pseudonym this sensationalist (and mostly fictional) biography, in which he identified Murel as head of a 455-member “mystic clan” masterminding a national slave insurrection planned for December 25, 1835. Stewart’s warning was widely believed in the South and provoked a series of deadly vigilante actions. Murel’s legend lives on in such venues as Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, short stories by Jorge Luis Borges and Eudora Welty, and even a Hollywood western starring Humphrey Bogart.

William Wells Brown, A lecture delievred before the Female Anti-Slavery Society of Salem ... Nov. 14, 1847 ... (Boston, 1847)   (A 1847 .B74)

William Wells Brown, A lecture delivered before the Female Anti-Slavery Society of Salem … Nov. 14, 1847 … (Boston, 1847) (A 1847 .B74)

A lecture delivered before the Female Anti-Slavery Society of Salem at Lyceum Hall, Nov. 14, 1847 is the second published work by William Wells Brown, one of the most prominent African Americans of the 19th century (and the subject of a newly published biography). Born into slavery in 1814, Brown escaped to Ohio in 1834 and soon joined the abolitionist movement. In 1847, shortly before delivering this impassioned lecture, Brown published an autobiography, which for a time made him as prominent a figure in abolitionist circles as Frederick Douglass. Brown was in England when the Fugitive Slave Act was passed in 1850, and he remained abroad rather than return and risk capture. There, in 1853, he published what is considered the first novel written by an African American, Clotel. Brown eventually returned to Boston, where he was prominent in its African American community and published several more books.

Robert A. Slaney's account of a Richmond, Va. slave auction, from his Short journal of a visit to Canada and the states of America, in 1860 (London, 1861)   (A 1861 .S53)

Robert A. Slaney’s account of a Richmond, Va. slave auction, from his Short journal of a visit to Canada and the states of America, in 1860 (London, 1861) (A 1861 .S53)

A new addition to the McGregor Library’s comprehensive collection of American travel narratives is this fascinating and candid diary kept by Robert A. Slaney, a member of Parliament, while traveling in the entourage of the 18-year-old Prince of Wales during his 1860 American tour. From Boston the prince traveled to Niagara and then to Detroit, where Slaney found the residents to be “all pale, none fat. How is this? … Detroit is laid out with noble, wide streets … there are many nice villas, as of retired or rich persons, in and about this flourishing town.” In Chicago they witnessed a torchlight procession supporting Abraham Lincoln’s presidential bid. From St. Louis the party journeyed overland by train to Washington, DC, which they explored at length. President Buchanan’s White House reception for the prince was somewhat disappointing: “No refreshments but two large bowls of punch.” Perhaps of greatest interest is Slaney’s disapproving account of the slave auctions he witnessed in Richmond, Va., which reflects his liberal leanings. Indeed, this rare work was one of the first printed at the Victoria Press, established by English women’s rights advocate Emily Faithfull and entirely staffed by women.

The grant of the Venezuelian Emigration Company, with full explanation of their laudable object ... [St. Louis?, 1866]   (A 1866 .G73)

The grant of the Venezuelian Emigration Company, with full explanation of their laudable object … [St. Louis?, 1866] (A 1866 .G73)

The grant of the Venezuelian Emigration Company is the only recorded copy of a fascinating prospectus, distributed by a New Orleans real estate agency, promoting emigration to Venezuela. Immediately after the Civil War, Henry M. Price of Scottsville, Va. (just south of Charlottesville) secured from Venezuelan officials a grant of 2400 square miles. There he hoped “to provide a home for those in the South, that had the foresight enough to see, could not remain in their old homes, under the domination and rule of their heartless victors.” Unreconstructed Southerners who bought company shares would receive a substantial land grant and promises of greater freedoms than they expected under Reconstruction. The first 50 settlers claimed their land in 1867, and dozens more soon followed, but the expatriate colony shut down in 1869.

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