This Just in: The Lewis M. Dabney, III Papers

We are proud to announce the acquisition of a major collection of the papers of Lewis M. Dabney, III, the late scholar of American literature and Professor of English at the University of Wyoming. Dr. Dabney is best known for his magisterial 2005 biography, Edmund Wilson: A Life in Literature, and a large body of scholarship on Edmund Wilson.

Lewis M. Dabney, III, undated, courtesy of Elizabeth Dabney Hochman

The UVA Library is now home to three groups of Dabney’s papers: his voluminous and meticulously prepared Wilson archives; a small set of materials documenting his book on William Faulkner, The Indians of Yoknapatawpha (1974); and a collection of papers of Dabney’s mother, Crystal Ray Ross Dabney, documenting her romantic relationship with John Dos Passos in the 1920s.

The earliest letter from Edmund Wilson to Lewis Dabney in the collection (Box 12.7). The correspondence begins with answers to Dabney’s questions about a  school periodical from Wilson’s youth, and moves on to many other topics.

Dabney’s heavily annotated copy of William Faukner’s “The Bear” (Box 19), used in his research for “The Indians of Yoknapatawpha.”

Each of these groups of materials individually has significant connections to existing collection strengths at the library: the Faulkner materials join our more than eighty archival collections related to Faulkner, and the Crystal Ross-John Dos Passos collection is an essential complement to the Papers of John Dos Passos. Edmund Wilson’s profound reach across American literary modernism means that Dabney’s research files for this project will have important links throughout the archival collections in the Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. We are grateful to Dabney’s family for choosing the University of Virginia as a home for these materials: his widow Sarah Dabney, daughter Elizabeth Dabney Hochman, and son Lewis M. Dabney IV (CLAS 1992).

An example of the tantalizing folder headings in just one box of the collection. Dabney worked with a professional archivist to organize his papers in the years leading up to his death in 2015.

Dabney’s scholarship on Edmund Wilson began while he was still a graduate student and came to know Wilson personally. It includes not just the biography but major editions of Wilson’s work, including The Portable Edmund Wilson; The Edmund Wilson Reader; The Sixties: The Last Journal, 1960-1972; and Edmund Wilson: Centennial Reflections. He also edited two Library of America volumes, Edmund Wilson: Literary Essays and Reviews of the 1920s and 30s, and Edmund Wilson: Literary Essays and Reviews of the 1930s and 40s.

File copy of a letter from Dabney to Malcolm Cowley, from an extended correspondence on the structure and contents of Dabney (ed.), “The Portable Edmund Wilson,” 1978 (Box 3.48).

Wilson looms large in the history of twentieth-century literature and culture, and it is no surprise that Dabney’s biography was the work of a lifetime. The biography will never be surpassed due to the access Dabney achieved to the living record of Wilson’s life: his files hold his communications with Wilson himself and Wilson’s friends and colleagues, including figures such as Malcolm Cowley, Donald Hall, and Lionel Trilling; also present are transcripts from his interviews with eminent literary figures such as Wilson’s one-time wife Mary McCarthy, Elizabeth Hardwick, Svetlana Alliuyeva, Isaiah Berlin, Elena Wilson, Roger Straus, and others; in some cases, cassette tapes of the original interviews are present. Much of this material remains unpublished. Dabney’s notes from the interviews offer a taste of Wilson’s dramatic romantic and literary relationships, and like the rest of the collection, offer valuable insight into the biographer’s process.

Dabney’s notes from his multi-day interview with Wilson’s friend Adelaide Walker in 1984, heavily annotated (Box 7.29)

Dabney’s notes from interview with Elizabeth Hardwick regarding Wilson and Mary McCarthy’s relationship, 1984 (7.21)

Among the materials in the collection is Dabney’s prized typescript copy of Edmund Wilson’s journals. This copy was one of two made at the request of Wilson’s longtime publisher Roger Straus since Wilson’s handwriting was apparently nearly indecipherable.  Straus gave one copy to Dabney, and the other resides with Wilson’s papers at the Beinecke Library at Yale.

The William Faulkner and Edmund Wilson portions of the collection will be made available to researchers as soon as they have been processed.

Crystal Ross and John Dos Passos

 At the time of his death, Dr. Dabney had recently completed a draft of a book on the relationship between his mother and John Dos Passos. The two were briefly engaged in the 1920s, and remained friends their entire lives. Dabney’s family are publishing the book, and once it is released this portion of the collection will become available to scholars. When that happens, we will post again to this space.

If you have questions about any portion of the Dabney papers, please contact curator Molly Schwartzburg at schwartzburg@virginia.edu

 

National Teacher Day: Ralph Cohen, Walter J. Kenan Professor of English at UVA 1968-2010

This post in celebration of National Teachers Day (May 4) was contributed by Ellen Welch, Manuscripts and Archives Processor at the Small Special Collections Library. 

The Ralph Cohen papers and New Literary History records were transferred from the University of Virginia English Department to the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library where I had the opportunity to process the collection and make them available to our patrons. The collection reveals the extraordinary knowledge of Ralph Cohen as an English professor and founder/editor of the New Literary History journal. I have thoroughly enjoyed processing the collection. One of my favorite things is that, through his papers, Ralph Cohen is still teaching anyone who uses this collection. His research notes are the barebones of his lectures and they are extremely thorough and educational. Another thing that really comes across in his papers is how much Ralph Cohen cared about individuals, about society, and how he wanted to find meaning in everything that he knew and then to share it. I would like to celebrate him on National Teacher Day!

photograph of Ralph Cohen

Ralph Cohen, Walter J. Kenan Professor of English at UVA 1968-2010

Ralph Cohen (1917-2016) taught English literature for more than sixty years including 42 years at the University of Virginia as the Walter J. Kenan, Jr. professor of English (1968-2010). He also taught at City College New York, UCLA, and James Madison University. He was born to Polish immigrant parents in Paterson, New Jersey on February 23, 1917. Dr. Cohen was a scholar of Eighteenth-Century British literature and Philosophy. He was among the most eminent critical thinkers and educators of twentieth-century America. His preternatural ability to illuminate and account for diverse positions on theory at professional conferences was legendary. His innovative concept of technology led to the establishment of the Cohen Center for the Study of Technological Humanism at James Madison University. He focused his teaching and research on criticism, genre, literary theory, and history. His celebrated transactive classroom strategies frequently attracted colleagues and devoted students to his courses. He taught and mentored many generations of students, preparing them for lives and careers as teachers and scholars. He maintained contact with many of his students and made recommendations supporting their teaching, fellowships, and tenure positions throughout their careers. Cohen was a dedicated teacher who really cared about literature and his students. This letter is an example of the kind of impact that Ralph Cohen had on one of his many students:

Letter from a student thanking Ralph Cohen (September 23, 2013)

Letter from a student thanking Ralph Cohen (September 23, 2013)

Cover of New Literary History, Spring 1973

Cover illustration for an issue of the New Literary History. The theme for this issue is Ideology and Literature. Each issue of the NLH had a theme and articles were submitted around that theme.

In addition to being a dedicated teacher, Ralph Cohen founded the international scholarly journal, New Literary History in 1969 as a new type of academic journal devoted to exploring literary and cultural questions and defining literary terms that could be debated among literary theorists. University of Virginia President, at the time, Edgar F. Shannon gave Cohen three years to make the journal successful as part of the Sesquicentennial Celebration at the University. At the end of the third year, there was no question about the success of the journal. It was the first literary journal of its kind because it was founded on the new idea that literary study could be properly pursued only through understanding its interrelations with other disciplines such as art, music, science, anthropology, religion, sociology, psychology, and philosophy. Major literary and art critics from the United States and Europe had contributed articles, including the historian Hayden White, the scientist, Stephen Jay Gould, the music critic, Leonard S. Meyer, and numerous women artists and scholars, such as Patricia Stone, Rachel Trickett, Barbara Hernstein Smith, and Joan Weber. This interdisciplinary approach to literary history also showed how literary history was helpful to understanding aspects of everyday life, culture, and society. Following this idea, Cohen created the Commonwealth Center for Literary and Cultural Change in 1988 at the University of Virginia, which he directed from 1988 to 1995. The interdisciplinary research center, Cohen wrote, “had as its primary aim the study of change and continuity in individuals and institutions in the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences.”

Autumn 1999 cover of New Literary History: Papers from the Commonwealth Center for Literary and Cultural ChangeNew Literary History is now in its fifth decade and has become an award-winning journal with its impact resonating around the globe. The journal has introduced numerous thinkers from France, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Russia, China, and elsewhere to an Anglo-American academic audience. In turn, New Literary History became the first English language literary journal to be translated into Chinese. Cohen included many diverse voices in the journal to represent more people with different perspectives. This diversity included women, minorities, and people from different cultures from many parts of the world. University of Virginia President Emeritus and University Professor John T. Casteen III, noted that the journal “has served a dual purpose: it has been both the touchstone for the community of scholars of literature within this one university and a global forum for wide-ranging scholarly discussion and debate among writers and critics in every place and of every persuasion.”

Ralph Cohen founded the Commonwealth Center for Literary and Cultural Change at the University of Virginia in 1988. He published the papers written by the Center in the New Literary History Journal. The addition of these articles made the New Literary History a quarterly journal.

Ralph was known among graduate students as one of the hardest working senior faculty, not resting on his international reputation but still racking up book after book, article after article. His students truly appreciated him. At UCLA and at the University of Virginia since 1968, Cohen attracted a following of graduate students, humorously called “Cohen-Heads” in the days of the “Cone Heads” on Saturday Night Live, to courses entitled “Genre,” “Theories of Literary History,” “Classic to Romantic,” and “Problems of Literary Theory.”

Even though Ralph Cohen was an editor of a preeminent theoretical international journal of the only one of its kind in the world, and a director of the University of Virginia Commonwealth Center for Literary and Cultural Change, Cohen considered himself first and foremost, a teacher. Ralph Cohen died on February 24, 2016 at 99 years of age. To learn more about Ralph Cohen’s legacy, view UVAToday’s In Memoriam or watch the October 14, 2010 interview at James Madison University where he talks about books and New Literary History. 

Art in Library Spaces: Warm Up America!

Gallery installation of knit and crochet squares by student organization Warm Up America

The display will be on view in Clemons Library through the Spring 2021 semester

In 2019, the UVA Library proposed a project to the Cornerstone Program to pilot an Art in Library Spaces program. The Cornerstone project team—Emerson Aviles, Kelli Martin, Jennifer Hasher, Katherine Grove, Gabriela Garcia Largen, Kate Beach, and David Sauerwein—developed a display plan for student, staff, faculty, and Charlottesville community art in Library spaces that represents the diversity of the University community. With so many Library spaces currently undergoing renovation, we are proud to have the opportunity to reimagine the feel and inclusivity of our Library.

Warm Up America students posing on Grounds with quiltWarm Up America students posing on Grounds with quiltThe Cornerstone project team explored student organizations on Grounds for potential partnership in this pilot phase. UVA’s Warm Up America organization was selected for our Spring 2021 display on the main floor of Clemons Library (check the UVA Library Status dashboard for the latest news about access and hours), and we’re excited to showcase this student talent, highlight Warm Up America’s commitment to service, and also bring color and warmth to the Clemons Library.

Warm Up America at UVA is a service-oriented student organization here on Grounds.They knit or crochet 7×9″ patches, like those featured in this display, and eventually sew the patches into blankets. In past years, their hand-knitted and crocheted blankets have been donated to local women’s shelters and homeless shelters in Charlottesville.

patchwork knitted and crochet quilt

Each year, Warm Up America at UVA pieces together the contributions of their student volunteers to create quilts that are donated to local shelters for those in need.

The patches currently on display in Clemons Library are examples of a wide variety of knitting and crocheting styles. These contributions were crafted by current and former members of Warm Up America at UVA.

mint green knitted square

To learn more about Warm Up America at UVA, visit their site or contact them via email: warm.up.america.uva@gmail.com

Are you a student organization interested in showcasing your work and helping us program this and other Library spaces? Contact Exhibitions Coordinator Holly Robertson: holly@virginia.edu

#ArchivesBlackEducation: Virginia Randolph & the Jeanes Program

We’re so excited to join the #ArchivesHashtagParty! Organized by the U.S. National Archives, the #ArchivesHashtagParty is a way for all types of archives to share their collections on social media around a fun topic. They provide a new hashtag theme each month; we bring our own collections. This month we’re celebrating #ArchivesBlackEducation: we’ve post stories from our collections about Black educators and students each Friday through February for Black History Month. Here on the blog, we’ll share longer versions of those stories with more context from our collections. 

Virginia Randolph at the Henrico County Training School, 1926.
Jackson Davis Collection of African American Photographs, uva-lib-371493

A pioneer in rural southern education for blacks during the Jim Crow Era, Virginia Estelle Randolph’s (1870-1958) career spanned over 60 years.

Born in May 1870, Randolph was raised in Richmond, Virginia, to formerly enslaved parents Nelson Edward Randolph and Sarah Carter Randolph. She graduated from the school previously known as the Virginia Normal School (now Armstrong High School), in Richmond at age 16. Randolph began her first teaching position in Goochland County, Virginia. A devoted educator, she was known for her tireless commitment to her students and her commitment to giving them a holistic education: “I believe in educating the hands, minds, the eyes, the feet and the soul.” Her dedication and passion for education did not go unnoticed, in 1908 Randolph became the first “Jeanes Supervising Industrial Teacher” in the South.

The Jeanes Program was established in 1907 and funded by Anna T. Jeanes, a Quaker philanthropist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The program provided funding for educators to teach both vocational and academic skills to African Americans in rural communities.

This February 1911 Issue of the National Negro School News is published by the Tuskegee Institute and is solely devoted to Jeanes Teacher Fund. Papers of the Dillard Family, MSS 9498.

In her position as a Jeanes Teacher Supervisor, she oversaw 23 elementary schools in Henrico County, Virginia. As the first Supervisor of the Jeanes Teacher program, Randolph devised an in-service training program for African American teachers and improved the curriculum of the schools she supervised. Given the autonomy to create her own program, she specifically designed industrial work and community support programs to meet the needs of the communities she served. She wrote a book documenting the success of her program called the Henrico Plan, which would later serve as a reference source for Southern schools receiving funding from the Jeanes Foundation. Randolph held this position for over 40 years, retiring in 1949.

Photograph of Virginia Randolph visiting a one room school in Henrico, County, Va (circa 1915/1941).

Virginia Randolph visiting a one room school in Henrico, County, Va (circa 1915/1941). Jackson Davis Collection of African American Photographs, uva-lib-326316

Virginia Randolph died March 16, 1958 of cardiovascular disease. In 2009, 51 years after her death, Randolph was posthumously honored by the Library of Virginia as one of their “Virginia Women in History” for her career and contributions to education.

Virginia Randolph at Dedication of New School Building. Jackson Davis Collection of African American Photographs, uva-lib-372185

Learn more about “Miss Randolph” in this 2018 Richmond Mag feature, or visit the Virginia Randolph Museum in Richmond, Virginia.

#ArchivesBlackEducation: Philena Carkin and The Jefferson School

We’re so excited to join the #ArchivesHashtagParty! Organized by the U.S. National Archives, the #ArchivesHashtagParty is a way for all types of archives to share their collections on social media around a fun topic. They provide a new hashtag theme each month; we bring our own collections. This month we’re celebrating #ArchivesBlackEducation, except we’re already bending the rules: we’ll post stories from our collections about Black educators and students each Friday through February for Black History Month. Here on the blog, we’ll share longer versions of those stories with more context from our collections. 

Carte-de-visite of Philena Carkin taken by Charlottesville photographer William Roads

Carte-de-visite of Philena Carkin taken by Charlottesville photographer William Roads

Under the auspices of the Freedmen’s Aid Society, Philena Carkin, a young white school teacher from Massachusetts, moved to Charlottesville in 1866 to teach newly freed children. Carkin worked under “Yankee School Marm” Anna Gardner who had founded the school the year before and had named it The Jefferson School. The Jefferson School initially was located in part of “an immense brick building… in an advanced state of dilapidation” on Main Street known as the “Mudwall” or Delevan building. This building had served as a Confederate hospital during the Civil War but was repurposed by the War Department as a Freedmen’s School during Reconstruction. The “Mudwall” was located behind the site of present-day First Baptist Church on Main Street, on the other side of and very close to the railroad tracks.

In her Reminiscences (MSS 11123), written 35 years after her time in Charlottesville, Carkin provides descriptions of many things, including poor treatment of freedmen and teachers by University of Virginia students:

“At one time they had a habit of climbing upon the top of the cars of the Va. Central trains that stopped at the University station. With their pockets filled with stones, as the train moved on they would throw these missiles right and left as they pleased. The train passed within a rod of our school building, and they would sometimes make a target of our windows, two or three times breaking every pane of glass in a window.”

The manuscript of the Reminiscences of Philena Carkin which resides in the Small Special Collections Library was transcribed as part of the E-Text project.

Pencil drawing by Philena Carkin of the floorplan of the school and teachers’ living quarters from “Reminiscences of my Life and Work among the Freedmen of Charlottesville, Virginia, from March 1st 1866 to July 1st 1875. Vol. 1”

 

#ArchivesHashtagParty: Mary Carr Greer & the Albemarle Training School

We’re so excited to join the #ArchivesHashtagParty! Organized by the U.S. National Archives, the #ArchivesHashtagParty is a way for all types of archives to share their collections on social media around a fun topic. They provide a new hashtag theme each month; we bring our own collections. This month we’re celebrating #ArchivesBlackEducation, except we’re already bending the rules: we’ll post stories from our collections about Black educators and students each Friday through February for Black History Month. Here on the blog, we’ll share longer versions of those stories with more context from our collections. 

Albemarle Training School (ATS) was an industrial school for African American children. As noted in this excerpt from a history of ATS, Black families were hungry for this rare educational opportunity.

 Albemarle Training School Building

Albemarle Training School Building (MSS10176-F)

Albemarle Training School excerpt

Albemarle Training School excerpt

Mary Carr Greer in the first ATS yearbook (1948).

Mary Carr Greer in the first ATS yearbook (1948).

Mary Carr Greer was the daughter of Hugh and Texie Mae Hawkins Carr, farmers whose land now forms part of Ivy Creek Natural Area. Greer taught domestic science at ATS for 15 years. Greer then served as ATS principal from 1931 until 1950. During her tenure, she introduced an academic curriculum, transforming ATS from a vocational school to the first four-year high school for African Americans in County.

These images of Black student life in Albemarle are from the 1948 yearbook, ATS’s first in the Papers of the Greer-Carr Family (MSS 10176)

 

 

Albemarle Training School Library and Typing Class

Albemarle Training School Library and Typing Class

Upper class students

Upper class students

First, second, and third grade classes

First, second, and third grade classes

Albemarle Training School Quartets

Albemarle Training School Quartets

 

 

 

#ArchivesBlackEducation: Benjamin Franklin Yancey

We’re so excited to join the #ArchivesHashtagParty! Organized by the U.S. National Archives, the #ArchivesHashtagParty is a way for all types of archives to share their collections on social media around a fun topic. They provide a new hashtag theme each month; we bring our own collections. This month we’re celebrating #ArchivesBlackEducation, except we’re already bending the rules: we’ll post stories from our collections about Black educators and students each Friday through February for Black History Month. Here on the blog, we’ll share longer versions of those stories with more context from our collections. 

Photo of portrait of BF Yancey, courtesy of Dave Johnson

Born in Howardsville, Virginia to parents Spencer and Fannie Brown Yancey on October 15, 1870, Benjamin Franklin Yancey, (1870-1915) was an African American educator and community leader who founded the Esmont Colored School in 1915.

Yancey graduated from what is now Hampton University and returned to Albemarle County to teach school. Yancey eventually obtained a teaching position in Esmont, Virginia, a small village approximately 10 miles from his birthplace.

Benjamin F. Yancey’s daily register for 1906-1907.

Benjamin F. Yancey’s daily register for 1906-1907. The register includes students’ names, ages, and attendance along with some expense information.

Unflagging in his desire to improve the learning conditions of his “scholars,” Yancey spearheaded a group of community members to create the “Educational Board of Esmont” in 1907. The board’s mission was “to foster the cause of education and establish a better school.” Over the next eight years, Yancey and the board worked tirelessly to bring this dream to fruition. Eight years later the dream was realized, and the Esmont Colored School opened.

Benjamin Yancey died July 19, 1915.

 

 

 

Benjamin F. Yancey’s 1914 Virginia Teaching Certificate

Benjamin F. Yancey’s 1914 Virginia Teaching Certificate

Benjamin Yancey died July 19, 1915.

Benjamin F. Yancey's 1911 contract with Albemarle County for teaching

Benjamin F. Yancey’s 1911 contract with Albemarle County for teaching “five school months” at county school “No. 27” for a salary of $25 per school month; 3 holidays are noted: Christmas Day, Lee’s birthday, Arbor Day.

The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library holds the Papers of the Yancey Family (MSS 11599,-a)

 

 

Four Festive Seasons: Kwanzaa

Four notable annual winter festivals with similar secular and religious origins often coincide in December. Today, we celebrate a comparatively new holiday, Kwanzaa (1966 A. D.)—or “First Fruits,” a week-long celebration of African and African-American cultural heritage.

Alongside Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, and Christmas, these diverse festive holidays evoke time-honored universal values through feasts, gift-giving, decorations, worship, and music. This presentation of select festival holdings in the University of Virginia’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library is curated by Reference Librarian Regina Rush with contributions by Research Archivist Ervin Jordan and will continue over the holiday season to rekindle treasured holiday memories—and optimism—during these stressful times.

Kwanzaa Is A Way of Life That We Celebrate!, is the creation of Amos Kennedy, a renowned African American printer, book artist and paper maker. Kennedy is most noted for using his printed posters as a medium to voice his social and political commentary. This beautifully adorned 56 x 76 mm miniature book is crafted in an accordion style fold with African Kente cloth covering each board.

The text is flanked on each side by Ghanaian Adinkra symbols of the Akan People. To the left of the text is the Adinkra symbol Bese Saka, which translates as “a sack of cola nuts” and represents abundance, wealth and unity.  The cola nut was a major cash crop in Ghana before cocoa became the main cash crop. The heart-like Sankofa symbol on the right is from the Twi language of Ghana and translates as “go back and get it,” reminding us of the past as a guiding force in planning the future.

Amos Kennedy, Kwanzaa Is A Way of Life That We Celebrate! York, AL: Amos Kennedy, 2000. 
McGehee Miniature Book Collection in the Small Special Collections Library (McGehee 00899)

 

 

 

Four Festive Seasons: Christmas

Four notable annual winter festivals with similar secular and religious origins often coincide in December. Today, we celebrate Christmas (336 A. D.) which commemorates the Nativity of Christ and is probably the world’s most celebrated event.

Alongside Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, and Kwanza, these diverse festive holidays evoke time-honored universal values through feasts, gift-giving, decorations, worship, and music. This presentation of select festival holdings in the University of Virginia’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library is curated by Reference Librarian Regina Rush with contributions by Research Archivist Ervin Jordan and will continue over the holiday season to rekindle treasured holiday memories—and optimism—during these stressful times.

Christmas Eve

Although unsure of its exact origin, food historians agree eggnog originated from the British medieval drink “posset,” a hot milky ale. Eggnog has become an American cultural culinary staple for the Christmas holiday seasons since it was brought to the colonies in the 1700s. Search online for “eggnog recipes” and the results will exceed 18 million hits! Ranging from alcoholic and non-alcoholic to a cooked eggnog recipe, the basic ingredients include some variant of the following: milk, cream, sugar, whipped eggs whites, and egg yolk.

Real Egg-Nog From Ice Cream recipe

Ice cream in egg-nog?!

This printed recipe for “Real Eggnog from Ice Cream” was laid in a 1926 edition of The Physiology of Taste, or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. First published in France in 1825, this classic work on all things gastronomical examines the intersections of food and culture. Brillat-Savarin’s wisdom and witticisms regarding food and its importance in society still resonates with modern gastronomes of today, which brings us back to the egg-nog and ice cream recipe. Was it worthy to share such a sacred space in this canon of gastronomy? Try it and see!

Recipe for Real Egg-Nog from Ice Cream

This clipping was found in the 1926 edition of The Physiology of Taste, or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.

“To Make Real Egg-Nog from Ice Cream” a clipping found in The Physiology of Taste, or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1926.(TX637 .B86 1926)
Gift of Clarence Wagener

A Christmas Carol

Some of the traditions and festivities of Christmas as we know it today would not be celebrated without the influence of our British cousins across the pond. Sir Henry Cole invented the Christmas card in 1843, and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert popularized decorating Christmas trees in homes during the holiday season. And, of course, it goes without saying that Christmas is synonymous with Charles Dickens!

The culture that surrounds the Christmas holiday today is a direct correlation with his 1843 classic A Christmas Carol: family-centric holiday feasts, decking the halls, and even Ebenezer Scrooge’s promise to “honour Christmas in my heart and keep it all the year.”

In 1983, the Small Special Collections Library acquired a small collection of Charles Dickens miscellany (MSS 10562). The collection includes a liquor flask used by Dickens when he toured America, correspondence, and a portable desk, both pictured below. Our holdings also include several editions of the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol.

 

Charles Dickens' portable writing desk

Charles Dickens’ writing desk and quill

Charles Dickens' flask

This Liquor Flask was used by Charles Dickens during his travels in the United States

Charles Dickens began writing A Christmas Carol October 1843. It was published December 19, 1843. A Christmas Carol , 1843. First edition 1st issue, with original covers (E 1843 .D53)

Written by children’s book author Mary Packard, this Advent calendar was created around the Christmas classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Housed in a pictorial glazed paper fold-out “book,” this Advent collection of miniature Christmas ornaments are meant to be read one per day. The 24 booklets follow the chronology of Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey from “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner” to a man who “knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”

Mary Packard. Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Story Book Set & Advent Calendar. New York: Workman Publishing, 1995. (McGehee 05770 no.1/24)
The McGehee Miniature Book Collection

A Christmas Carol, an advent calendar of miniature books (cover)

From the McGehee Miniature Book Collection, this book’s cover folds out to reveal 24 booklets and as Advent calendar journey of Ebenezer Scrooge.

A Christmas Carol, an advent calendar of miniature books (interior)

Inside the book, 24 miniatures follow the chronology of Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey from “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner” to a man who “knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”

Good Night, John-Boy

The Small Special Collections Library holds a small but rich collection of the late Earl Hamner Jr.’s archives. A Virginia native and Emmy-winning television writer and director during the 1970s and 1980s, Hamner’s collection includes a first edition of his 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. The novel, drawn from Hamner’s childhood experiences growing up in Schuyler, Virginia during the Great Depression, was the impetus for the film. Originally airing 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.

Earl Hamner, The Homecoming, 1971, Typescript (MSS 10380) and “Waltons” Television Scripts, 1975 (MSS 10380-b).

First page of film script for "The Homecoming" DVD of the movie "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story,"

 

Four Festive Seasons: Winter Solstice

Four notable annual winter festivals with similar secular and religious origins often coincide in December. Today, we celebrate Winter Solstice (10,000 BCE), also known as Midwinter, has been observed by a variety of cultures throughout much of recorded history.

Alongside Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanza, these diverse festive holidays evoke time-honored universal values through feasts, gift-giving, decorations, worship, and music. This presentation of select festival holdings in the University of Virginia’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library is curated by Reference Librarian Regina Rush with contributions by Research Archivist Ervin Jordan and will continue over the holiday season to rekindle treasured holiday memories—and optimism—during these stressful times.

Winter Solstice

In 1927, British publisher Faber and Gwyer (later Faber and Faber) introduced a series of illustrated poetry poems written by various major authors and illustrated by prominent artists of the period. Contributors to The Ariel Poems series include Thomas Hardy, T.S. Eliot, and Edith Sitwell. T.S. Eliot’s 1927 poem Journey of the Magi was number eight in this series and written shortly after his conversion to Anglo-Catholicism. Marketed as Christmas cards, each pamphlet featured a writer who wrote about Christmas or a seasonal theme. Published in two series, the first run consists of 38 pamphlets published between 1927-1931; the second series was published in 1954 with only 8 issues.

The Winter Solstice (cover)

Cover of The Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice, written by poet Harold Monro and illustrated by poet/artist David Jones was the thirteenth of the first Ariel Poems series. This poem’s four stanzas are accompanied by two illustrations: a black and white illustration on the cover; another in color. The shadings of black around the perimeter of the color illustration represent the long bleak winter days to come. The center of the drawing embodies the warmth and celebratory “eat, drink, and be merry” overtone that follows a successful harvest. Images of a burning yule log and the gathering of wood and other provisions hint at the needed preparations to survive the cold months ahead. The streaming rays of sun in the background let the revelers know warmer and more fruitful days will follow this midwinter night.

Interior illustration, The Winter Solstice

The poem is accompanied by an illustration by David Jones. Like solstice, the dark and long, bleak winter scenes are juxtaposed by warm and celebratory “eat, drink, and be merry” overtones that follow a successful harvest. A burning yule log and the gathering wood and other provisions hint at the needed preparations to survive the cold months ahead.

The Winter Solstice, a poem by Harold Monro

Marketed as Christmas cards, each pamphlet in The Ariel Poems featured a writer who wrote about Christmas or a seasonal theme. Harold Monro wrote The Winter Solstice, published in 1928.

 

Harold Monroe with drawings by David Jones, The Winter Solstice, number 13 in The Ariel Poems. London, Faber & Gwyer Limited, 1928. (PR6025 .O35 W54 1928)
From The Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature