Unearthing Fiction: Creative Writing Inspired by UVA’s Archive

This week we are pleased to share a guest post from Nichole LeFebvre. Nichole is a Poe/Faulkner Fellow at the University of Virginia, where she teaches creative writing. Her poems can be found in Prairie Schooner and Barrelhouse and recent prose in Lit Hub, Paper Darts, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn. She is the Nonfiction Editor of Meridian: A Semi-Annual and is at work on a memoir.

Researchers may have met Nichole at Special Collections, where she used to work as a graduate student assistant in the Reference department. Now, she’s using that experience to incorporate original materials into her creative writing instruction.

Working at Special Collections, I’d often find myself in awe. Researchers would carry diaries and ledgers to the reference desk, pointing out their surprising finds. Reading Faulkner’s grocery list, I’d wonder about his carbo-loading: “breadsticks, bread, breakfast bread.” I’d show students how to aim a black light at a seemingly blank book. One afternoon, a librarian grinned and said, “Have you seen the bone fragment from the Revolutionary War?”

When I had the chance to design a themed writing workshop, I knew exactly where to go: down the spiral staircase, under the skylights. How many stories hid, waiting latent, below our feet?

Fourth-year Halley Townsend recalls the first time she held an artifact: “There’s something immutable in the feeling of touching history that can be gleaned nowhere else.” And that’s exactly right: in fiction, we focus on creating sensory-rich scenes for the reader. Students in my class, “Unearthing Fiction,” were able to feel that texture first-hand, noticing minor details otherwise forgotten with time.

“Being an engineer, I preferred to look at objects that were manmade and complex,” says Daryn Govender, hailing all the way from New Zealand. For his stories, he studied a field compass from World War II as well as a New Tyme Edison light bulb, patented in 1881. Because these objects are catalogued without specific historical context—letters or diary entries from their owners—Govender felt “allowed to write more freely, unconstrained by a pre-existent scenario or background story.”

Of our first visit to Special Collections, second-year Caroline Bohra writes, “My mind started to race thinking of all the people who could have come in contact with these objects. I could not help but wonder what made these specific objects so special that they had been chosen to be saved and preserved? And what modern artifacts would be deemed important enough to be studied years from now?”

The travel scrapbook of Nina Withers Halsey, 1895, inspired Alexander O’Connor to write about a self-taught American teenager who meets and impresses the Shahzada Nasrulla Khan with her knowledge of tenuous British-Afghan relations (MSS 10719-b). Photograph by Alexander O’Connor.

How archives shape history was on our mind, all semester. Fiction is likewise political: whose stories are told, and therefore remembered? Third-year Hunter Wilson wondered how to write “historical women, on the one hand acknowledging that women often lacked basic rights, while on the other, respecting the character.” She decided to set her first story in 17th Century Scotland, inspired by the ballad of the Outlandish Knight. The twist? It’s the princess who uncovers the dreamy knight’s murder plot. “I wanted Isabel to act accurately in her historical context, but also give voice to the likely frustrations that came with her place in history.”

Fourth-year Matin Sharifzadeh enjoyed the depth of creative control he had over his work. “When we would go down into the library, the artifacts weren’t there for us to write about. They were there for us to create a world.” And like history itself, those worlds weren’t always pretty: the rope used in the hanging of a Charlottesville mayor inspired Sharifzadeh to write “a psychological thriller involving a mentally ill serial killer in the late 19th Century.”

Students faced, first-hand, the challenges of writing historical fiction. First-year Julia Medina found an embroidered handkerchief “depicting a group of children and a school teacher from the early 20th century.” This morphed into her story of an exploitative school for gifted children. But she couldn’t have her characters talking in today’s slang. To research the nuances of 1940s speech, Medina found “a collection of letters than an ordinary military man wrote to his wife.” These “seemingly mundane letters” allowed her to imagine “what he felt, how he talked, and where he’d been.”

Some details will remain buried with time, unless you, dear reader, can read this handwriting.  Elizabeth Oakes-Smith’s diary, 1861 (MSS 38-707-a). Photograph by Veronica Sirotic.

The question of historical accuracy recurred throughout the semester. How do we earn a reader’s trust when we aren’t historians, we’re writers?

The answer? More reading, more research, and a deep personal connection to the material. Second-year Veronica Sirotic pored over radical feminist and music magazines from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, inspired by not only the articles, but the advertisements, as well. A few students returned to the feminist periodical The Monthly Extract including first-year Megan Lee, who tried to get into the mindset of both a feminist and her “tolerant husband,” digging up manuscript boxes of period photographs to build images of these characters, in her head.

Students realized when they were most curious, most personally engaged, their own fiction was at its strongest. Caroline Bohra found a children’s book from 1927 and was “struck by a sort of nostalgic happiness,” changing her initial character’s personality as she researched real-life author Christopher Morley, who “believed in the magic of childhood and instilled that in his children, specifically Louise Morley Cochrane, who went on to produce a children’s television series, following in her father’s footsteps, as well as work directly for Eleanor Roosevelt.”

Finding patterns across time was another an important way in. First-year Alexander O’Connor was struck by former Secretary of State John Hay’s life story. “Two out of the three Presidents he worked for, Abraham Lincoln and William McKinley, were assassinated while he worked for them, and the third, Theodore Roosevelt, experienced an assassination attempt but lived. Coincidence? I think not!”

The class also sought guidance from UVa’s own Jane Alison, Professor and Director of Creative Writing. Students read Alison’s Ovid translations and a section of her novel The Love-Artist, curious how she was able to write from the point of view of the ancient poet. Alison explained her range of primary and secondary sources, as well as her trip to Rome, to see and imagine how the ruins once looked. She placed herself inside the poet’s shoes, inside his head, tried to imagine how he saw and described the world around him.

Alison urged the students to recognize the overlap between historical fiction and memoir, a comment that struck Veronica Sirotic as especially true: “We have the power to shape history to our liking.” Alexander O’Connor, agreed, noting that even “memoir is a retelling of history through the author’s lens.”

“‘Unearthing’ means to dig up, to discover, to recover in an active sense,” writes Halley Townsend. “Throughout the semester, that definition has aligned more and more with my creative writing; I feel like I’m discovering or rediscovering something that was already there in my mind.”

All semester long these students uncovered and re-imagined artifacts into fiction, resulting in eighteen riveting short stories. Whether setting their work in the distant past, or today’s world, they used history to deepen the story’s emotional content and lasting impact—looking forward, while looking back.

“I took this image from a couple’s autobiography about their circumnavigation in the early 1920s,” writes student Halley Townsend. “Based on this picture, I wanted to imagine their relationship. What kind of relationship survives on a small boat during stressful circumstances?”
(G440 .V8 1923).

Thank you, Nichole, for sharing your students’
marvelous insights with us.

Patron’s Choice: Readers Reading Hannah Foster’s The Coquette

This week, we are pleased to feature a guest post from Amanda Stuckey, who visited the collections earlier this year as a Lillian Gary Taylor Fellow in American Literature Mary and David Harrison Institute

In an undated (ca. early 20th-century) letter tucked into the first edition of Hannah Foster’s bestselling novel The Coquette (1797) in the Small Library, reader Robert Taylor questions the judgment of the novel’s heroine. Taylor writes that he perused the story of Eliza Wharton, found it “interesting reading,” and even shed a tear or two when he reached the novel’s final lines consisting of the unfortunate protagonist’s epitaph. Yet, Taylor notes, even as he mingled his tears “with those shed upon the tombstone of the ill-fated Eliza; and observe her age as inscribed therein, I am constrained to contend that she was old enough to know better.”

Even though “the book” seems to have all but disappeared in an age of digital reproduction and online catalogues, as contemporary readers we nonetheless exist in a world saturated with text. So much text to be scrolled, contemplated, “liked,” re-tweeted, or simply ignored, that the line between “seeing” text and “reading” it can become unclear. Yet the act of requesting and opening a book like The Coquette from a library that so values the material and physical presence of words, of texts, reminds us that we are here to read. Only seventeen first editions of The Coquette remain, and like many first editions, UVA’s copy has an aura surrounding it; carefully lifting it out of the box cut to fit its exact dimensions, an eager reader might wonder how many other people like Taylor have lifted the unassuming, dulled brown cover to turn tenderly through the weathered but still-sturdy pages. How many others have read on those very pages the story, over two centuries old, of Eliza Wharton, who struggles on the marriage market during the years after the nation-defining struggle of the American Revolution.

The custom box holding the library's copy of the first edition of The Coquette (Taylor 1797 . F68 C6). Photograph by Molly Schwartzburg

The custom box holding the library’s copy of the first edition of The Coquette (Taylor 1797 . F68 C6). Photograph by Molly Schwartzburg

Eliza, an unmarried woman from Connecticut, finds herself caught between two suitors: the rational, respectable Reverend Boyer and the dashing but reprehensible Major Sanford. Just as Eliza’s friends – and her readers – think she is going to make the “right” decision and accept Boyer’s hand in marriage, he catches her in compromising circumstances (by late eighteenth-century standards, at least) in a secluded garden with Sanford. Boyer rescinds his marriage proposal, and by the end of the novel Eliza finds herself pregnant, close to death, and all but abandoned by Sanford, the seducing rake who never planned to marry her in the first place. The catch to which reader Robert Taylor referred? Eliza was thirty-seven when she became pregnant and subsequently died, seemingly bereft of the innocence, virtue, and education that almost four decades of sound friendship and parental guidance sought to instill in her. Eliza’s fatal carelessness in her choice of suitors seemed, to Taylor at least, befitting of a younger woman, one less familiar with the treacherous wiles of men. Indeed, Eliza Wharton could have been mother of her fictional contemporary Charlotte Temple, whose similar fate of seduction, pregnancy, and death at the ripe age of fifteen was the subject of another bestselling novel of the late eighteenth century. “Old enough to know better,” perhaps, Eliza nonetheless is doomed from the novel’s start. Even Foster’s title, a reference to behavior that eighteenth-century audiences associated with flirtatiousness, promiscuity, and an inability to commit, seems to belie the years Eliza had to walk a straight course.

Whenever I read The Coquette, I find myself frustrate–not with Eliza’s seeming inability to make the “right” decision between two men of completely opposite character, but more so with the fact that even now, ten years after I first read the novel, I still read it with a sense of dread, with the feeling that if she’d just settle down with Boyer, she might have a shot at making it out of the novel alive. The genre of seduction fiction into which The Coquette falls is a supremely predictable one, and Eliza is perhaps its most famous example. Each time I read the novel I ask myself, how can I possibly read this differently? How can I assign new meaning to Eliza’s doomed thirty-seven years? What more can I say about her all-too-certain fate, a fate that even Eliza seems to sense as the novel comes to a close?

With those questions in mind, I pondered each of the novel’s 242 pages, seeking answers and new clarity. It was not until I reached very last page that I sat up a little straighter in my chair, pulled out of my contemplations by three simple characters in ink:

The final two pages of "The Coquette," which include a rendering of the text on Eliza's gravestone.

The final two pages of “The Coquette,” which include a rendering of the text on Eliza’s gravestone. Photograph by Molly Schwartzburg



A detailed image showing where a reader has edited Eliza's age from 37 to 27. Photograph by Molly Schwartzburg

A detailed image showing where a reader has edited Eliza’s age from 37 to 27. Photograph by Molly Schwartzburg

Twenty-seven? One reader felt so convinced that a woman of thirty-seven could not possibly have fallen victim to one man’s practiced, seductive wiles that this reader had to “correct” the official record of Eliza’s age? So convinced that this reader not only altered Eliza’s epitaph but also felt the need to write it again, to underline it, in case we had any doubt that thirty-seven is way too old to be hanging out in gardens with a known libertine.

Whenever I teach an early American work of fiction, one that is likely digitized through my institution’s library or other vast internet repository, I encourage my students to seek out a physical copy of the book, preferably a first or early edition, housed in a nearby archive or in their university’s own special collections. If we’re lucky, the university’s special collections library will have a first edition, and I ask students to first read a digitized or contemporary scholarly edition of the work and to think about the experience of reading in their present moment. Then students venture out to their special collections library to request a first or early edition of the same novel, to gently lift the cover softened by wear, to delicately turn the pulpy yellowed pages, and to imagine what it might have meant to be reading this work in, say, 1797. Afterward, they write up a brief comparison of the two reading experiences, discussing what surprised them or caught their attention in reading the same book two different ways. These assignments repeatedly demonstrate to me the importance of paying attention to the experience of reading, an experience that today can take so many forms that we almost don’t even notice that we’re reading something when we’re reading it. These assignments have taught my students and me that the experience of reading means different thing to different people, and that we bring our own frames of reference to the text each time we read a book. There is a saying attributed to a Greek philosopher that you can’t step into the same river twice, and the archive continually shows my students and me that you can’t always step into the same book twice. It is different each time we read it, and often that difference comes not from the answers we demand from the book but from the way we let the book speak to us.

And, as it turned out, I’d been asking the wrong questions. I needed to start not with “I” the reader, but with a broader sense of readership, of a recognition that this novel, though it has ridden high crests and low troughs of popularity throughout its life, nonetheless has been read for over two hundred years. The solitary figure of the reader – the “I” – shrinks before The Coquette’s well-worn pages in recognition of just how many fingers have turned them. From the copy in Small Special Collections, modified so minimally yet so insistently, I find myself asking questions that start not with “I” but with how. How have people read this novel? How might previous ways of reading this novel change, affect, influence, the way we read –not just this novel but any text, any book, periodical, or blog? These interjections from the past into our present invite us to look at a familiar text differently, and moreover they invite us to consider the act of reading itself. In a world saturated with multimedia text, the physical presence of the book makes us aware that we’re reading.

That’s what these two numbers, three inked characters, did when I finished up the first edition of The Coquette in Small Special Collections. They spoke to me, caught me off guard, even in the final, oh-so-predictable (I thought) words of the novel. They made me envision another person holding that volume, made me wonder about someone so certain that Eliza just had to be twenty-seven, while I had paid at best scant attention to her age. I have other questions for this novel and its reader(s) – why, for example, was it Eliza’s responsibility to “know better?” For that matter, is thirty-seven really old? Why aren’t we talking about how old Sanford is here? But more important, once I turned the final page, was the way in which this volume – with Robert Taylor’s enclosed letter and the marginalia of an unknown reader – generated these questions from a book I had stepped into once again, a book made almost entirely new thanks to the readings of other readers.

Thanks, Amanda, for sharing your reading room “aha” moment with the blog!


Researching the 1918 Flu Epidemic in Virginia

In 1918, a new strain of influenza swept around the world. Before it was done, it had killed approximately 30 million people. In the United States at least 750,000 died in only a few months—the equivalent today of almost 2.5 million.  When the epidemic arrived in Virginia, 25% to 30% of the population caught the virus and thousands died, including six U.Va. students and a nationally known faculty member.

Addeane Caelleigh is researching the epidemic in Virginia.  When she retired recently from the School of Medicine, she immediately began work in archives and libraries, including the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library and the Historical Collections archive in the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library.  “I’ve long been interested in how communities respond in extreme situations, such as natural disasters and epidemics,” she explained.

Addeane uncovered emotionally powerful manuscripts here in Special Collections, including handwritten letters about family experiences with the disease and official documents about U.Va.’s response to the crisis. She also found a photograph of George F. Ferguson, M.D., an African-American physician in Charlottesville who cared for many during the epidemic.


Dr. George F. Ferguson poses with his children in this family portrait by Charlottesville photographer Rufus Holsinger taken a few years after the flu crisis, in 1922. (MSS 9862, available online).

Notably, Addeane is among the first researchers to have the opportunity to view a UVA Hospital admissions ledger for 1915-1919, where she can track the diagnoses—and deaths—of patients from around the region.


On the left are diagnosis entries in the hospital ledger from 1917, before the influenza outbreak. On the right, an entry from 1918, showing starkly the epidemic’s impact on the community.

Until recently researchers could not use the ledger because of restrictions imposed by the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), which protects the confidentiality of patient information. In 2014, Congress allowed an exception for historical research, and Ms. Caelleigh has collected invaluable data about hospital patients with influenza, helping to expand understanding the epidemic in Virginia. Studying issues of the Daily Progress, which is available digitally through UVA Libraries, enables her to reveal details of the community’s responses.

Overall, her research is building a picture of both the epidemic and the community’s responses. “Interestingly, as deadly as the epidemic was locally and nationally, it seems to have dropped out of sight in local memory,” she noted. Her research adds an important understanding of how a major event can unite a community.

Mining the Ores of Breece D’J Pancake’s Life and Works

This week’s post is contributed by two visiting undergraduate researchers, Megan Flanery and Hunter Walsh, who traveled all the way from Southern Georgia University to examine our Breece D’J Pancake manuscript collection. They represent a growing demographic of Special Collections researchers, and one that we value deeply here at UVA: undergraduates with an understanding of the importance and value of archival research. Thank you, Megan and Hunter, for sharing your experience with us here on the blog!


My colleague, Hunter Walsh, and I are both fourth-year undergraduate students at Georgia Southern University, and we will be graduating in the fall of this year. We were first introduced to Breece Pancake’s short story collection in 2014, when we studied his text under the direction of Dr. Olivia Carr Edenfield during her course on the American short story. Although we approach Pancake’s fiction from very different angles, both Mr. Walsh and I will present our undergraduate capstone projects on Pancake’s work. Our archival work at The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library has broadened our understanding of Pancake’s short, yet accomplished life. Our ultimate goal is to shed light on Breece Pancake, an under-appreciated Appalachian author, and we hope to bring new perspectives to the limited critical conversation that surrounds his fiction.

, Megan Flanery is 21 years old and currently a senior at Georgia Southern University. Here, she will earn a BA in English with a minor in Philosophy, and she plans to continue her studies by attending graduate school at East Carolina University. The focus of her scholarship is American literature, particularly that of the twentieth century. She enjoys reading the works of authors such as Sherwood Anderson, Ernest Hemingway, J.D. Salinger, Eudora Welty, Raymond Carver, Cormac McCarthy and, especially, Breece Pancake.

Originally from Michigan but now a Georgia resident, Megan Flanery is 21 years old and currently a senior at Georgia Southern University. Here, she will earn a BA in English with a minor in Philosophy, and she plans to continue her studies by attending graduate school at East Carolina University. The focus of her scholarship is American literature, particularly that of the twentieth century. She enjoys reading the works of authors such as Sherwood Anderson, Ernest Hemingway, J.D. Salinger, Eudora Welty, Raymond Carver, Cormac McCarthy and, especially, Breece Pancake.


Megan and I uncovered a countless amount of material. We found family photographs, postcards, interviews, and even personal letters from and to Breece Pancake. For me, these are all extremely interesting artifacts and sources that have really molded my study of Pancake’s work. The material I recovered has shed new light on his personal life and his relationships. Since I am interested in the family unit in Breece Pancake’s short fiction, this research has really opened up my reading. Breece’s biographical accounts of his life and his own admission to incorporating true elements into his writing offered even more insight into the familial relations in his writing. This was my first time doing archival research and I cannot thank the University of Virginia and Professor John Casey enough for allowing me this opportunity. The staff at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library were friendly and a tremendous support as well.

Hunter Walsh is an English major and Writing minor. He hails from Bristol, Virginia and is recipient of the 2015 Powell Award for Fiction Writing. His paper, “The Family in the Life and Works of Breece D’J Pancake,” examines the life and writings of Breece D’J Pancake. It documents Pancake’s personal experience with family and isolation, while highlighting these themes, via his experiences and perceptions, in his short fiction.

Hunter Walsh is an English major and Writing minor. He hails from Bristol, Virginia and is recipient of the 2015 Powell Award for Fiction Writing. His paper, “The Family in the Life and Works of Breece D’J Pancake,” examines the life and writings of Breece D’J Pancake. It documents Pancake’s personal experience with family and isolation, while highlighting these themes, via his experiences and perceptions, in his short fiction.

One of the most useful documents we unearthed is a catalog of the real sites and locations that have been included in Pancake’s work, written by his mother, Helen Frazier Pancake:

Box 1 of MSS10975-e, folder 5, holds a document titled “The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake – Locations and Sites,” written by Helen Pancake, Breece’s mother. The various sites, of which Pancake was well-acquainted, reveal how Pancake weaved his own memories into his fiction.

“The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake – Locations and Sites,” written by Helen Pancake, Breece’s mother. The various sites, with which Pancake was well-acquainted, reveal how Pancake weaved his own memories into his fiction. (MSS 10975-e 1.5)

My thesis is centered on memory and the negative effects of rumination and obsessive nostalgia; therefore, my research on Pancake’s own life has been crucial to understanding the ways in which memories affected him. His last letter, written to his major professor, Dr. John Casey, is filled with memories that Pancake was fixated upon:

Box 1 of MSS10975-a, folder 5, holds Breece Pancake’s last piece of correspondence. Shown here is the signature line, where he thanks the recipient, UVA’s Henry Hoynes Professor of Creative Writing John Casey. In the body of tje letter, he lists the various dates of the significant, yet traumatic, events that weighed on him. Two weeks after this letter was composed, Breece took his own life.









Although our study of Pancake’s life was dejecting at times, it allowed us both to appreciate Breece Pancake as a person, and not just as a writer. For now, our findings will be applied to some aspects of his fiction to highlight Pancake’s vexing themes; however, I plan to use this wealth of information to compose eventually a book-length study of Pancake’s life and works.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slave List, add call number

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

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

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

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

Slave Hire document

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

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

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

Tim need last name

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

Remains of the mill.

Remains of Curdsville Mill, 2015.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brenda Fredericks

Independent Researcher Brenda Fredericks

Glimpses of Lafcadio Hearn in Virginia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Draft illustration for “Re-Echo.”


Page proof for “Re-Echo.”

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

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

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

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

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

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


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




Finding Humanity in the Past

This week, we are pleased to feature a guest post by Gayle Jessup White, who is a Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies Fellow for 2014. Ms. White researched the collections of Thomas Jefferson, the Edgehill Randolph family, and the Nicholas family while at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

It was jarring to read.  “Dear Sir:” began the 1814 letter from P. Randolph (possibly Peyton Randolph, son of U.S. Attorney General Edmund Randolph, acting Virginia governor from 1811–1812, and cousin of Thomas Jefferson) written to Wilson Cary Nicholas, 19th governor of Virginia and Jefferson in-law:

“I beg leave to enquire of you what disposition you intend to make of William? If you do not wish to keep him, I am anxious to have him sold, in order to meet the note … which will shortly become due…I would thank you to employ some one to sell him immediately… Be so good as to let me hear from you on that subject.”

The polite exchange between the two white southern patricians left me feeling sick as I read about William, the enslaved man whose life meant little more to them than settling a financial obligation. I bristled while contemplating that both white men, public servants of a fledgling democracy, founded on the proclamation that “all men are created equal,” held in the balance a black man’s future, a man who would probably die a slave, as would his children, and grandchildren. My twenty-first-century mind couldn’t wrap itself around his nineteenth-century condition. Yet, I held in my hand this letter, a letter that’s part of the University of Virginia Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library’s rich archive about Jeffersonian history.

I spent long happy days at the Small Special Collections, poring over letters, official documents, old photos, even examining locks of Thomas Jefferson’s hair, in search of my own family’s ties to Jefferson and his extended family. Oral history, fragmented documentation, and DNA testing indicate that my African American family is directly descended from Thomas Jefferson and his wife Martha. Research points to my great-grandmother Rachael Robinson having several children with Jefferson’s great-great-grandson Moncure Robinson Taylor shortly after the Civil War. It’s a relationship that seems to have begun when the couple was young and appears to have lasted decades. Perhaps they bonded during and after the harrowing years of the war. Whatever the case, I have come to believe theirs was a love relationship, one that brought me to U.Va. to learn more about them and the times in which they lived.

An Account of Slaves, n.d. (MSS 5533. Image by Petrina Jackson)

An Account of Slaves, n.d. (MSS 5533. Papers of the Randolph Family of Edgehill and Wilson Cary Nicholas. Gift of  Misses Margaret and Olivia Taylor and Mrs. Mary Mann Moyer. Image by Petrina Jackson)

What I found was a record of lives interrupted and altered by disease, early deaths, war, and chattel slavery. And while I felt resentment and bitterness toward the people who owned William and others who wrote dismissively of their enslaved people, I also found myself captivated by and at times sympathetic to the tragedy of their lives. For example, Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph, wife of Thomas Jefferson’s grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph and my great-great-great-grandmother, lost five of her 13 children.

Portrait of Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph, n.d. (MSS 5533-c. Additional Papers of the Randolph Family of Edgehill on deposit from Steven M. Moyer. Image by Petrina Jackson)

Portrait of Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph, n.d. (MSS 5533-c. Additional Papers of the Randolph Family of Edgehill on deposit from Steven M. Moyer. Image by Petrina Jackson)

The Civil War shattered her life–she and her family were, after all, on the wrong side of history. Still, I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for her as I read the words of this November 15, 1870 letter from her to her cousin Mary:

“You have probably heard from others, dearest Mary of Lewis, I fear almost desperate state of health, caused by taking cold last December which he never got rid of which has brought him to a most alarming state…

I feel that I am teetering on the brink of the grave, & that I haven’t strength to struggle on any longer that the agony of seeing another dear child die is more than I can bear – it is the greatest of all sorrows for a mother… to stand by the death bed of a child & my children are so good that it makes it so hard to see them die.”

Detail of copy of letter from Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph to her cousin Mary, November 15, 1870. (MSS 9828. Image by Petrina Jackson)

Detail of copy of letter from Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph to her cousin Mary, 15 November 1870. (MSS 9828-a. Additional Papers of the Randolph-Nicholas Family. Image by Petrina Jackson)

Jane Randolph died two months later, struck down by the news that her youngest child Lewis, the one whose life-threatening illness had her “teetering” at the grave, would soon succumb to “consumption.” How could I not feel for her–I, too, am a mother.

Yet this woman, my ancestor, owned slaves, some of whom may have been my ancestors as well. Jane’s former enslaved people were said to have wept at her gravesite. I too wept as I read her plaintive letter, one of many she had written and that are housed at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.  For me, Jane’s letters gave her a humanity that history had stolen. Poor William and other enslaved people will never have theirs restored.

Gayle Jessup White at Fellows Forum, Berkeley Room, Jefferson Library, September 6, 2014.

Gayle Jessup White at the Fellows Forum, Berkeley Room, Jefferson Library at Monticello, 26 August 2014.

Patron’s Choice: Massive Resistance and Harry F. Byrd

This week we are pleased to feature a guest post by researcher Dr. Candace Epps-Robertson, who teaches in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, & American Cultures at Michigan State University. Dr. Epps-Robertson worked with our collections remotely, requesting digital images of materials, mostly from the voluminous papers of Senator Harry Flood Byrd.

As a scholar of rhetoric during the Civil Rights Movement the questions that guide most of my research are usually quite simple: How were arguments made and how did they circulate? These questions drive my work in the area of Virginia’s Massive Resistance period. My research into this bleak moment of Virginia’s history comes as a result of my work on Prince Edward County, Virginia’s five-year public school closures in resistance to Brown vs Board of Education (1954). While Massive Resistance, on the books at least, subsided after 1959, Prince Edward persisted through the refusal to integrate public schools. To better understand how local leaders were able to close schools I trace and examine how segregationists introduced discourse to strengthen connections and mobilize efforts for an audience supportive of the notion that the preservation of segregation was a civic duty. One of the architects of the discourse of Massive Resistance was Senator Harry Flood Byrd whose papers exist in The Albert and Shirley Small Collections.

The late Senator Byrd had a thirty-three year political term in the Commonwealth, serving as governor from 1926 until 1930 and senator from 1933 until 1965. In many ways his position on segregation was no different from that of other supporters; however the power base he held in Virginia’s government secured him a larger audience. My quest to understand the history, context, and arguments made by Byrd brought me to this archive.

Thus far, my research in Byrd’s papers has all been done remotely. As a researcher whose work depends quite heavily on archival work, working entirely from digital copies from U.Va.’s Special Collections was a new adventure for me. I enjoy both the physical hunt for documents as well as the serendipity of the archive, but the detailed finding aid, and helpful assistance of the library’s staff, has made the long-distance research move with ease.

One of the many documents that has helped me understand Byrd’s means of crafting arguments is his April 28, 1961 press release on Prince Edward. In response to Attorney General Kennedy’s attempt to stop state funding being used for tuition assistance for White students to attend segregationists academies Byrd uses this moment to praise Prince Edward as a “gallant” county “fighting against great odds to protect a principle it believes to be right.” He continues by portraying Prince Edward, and Virginia, as victims, citing that Kennedy’s proposal was an “attempt to punish an entire State because the action of one county displease the U.S. Attorney General.”

Harry Flood Byrd's press release regarding  the "intervention by the Attorney General of the United States in the Prince Edward County School District" (MSS 9700. Images by U.Va. Library Digitization Services)

Harry Flood Byrd’s press release regarding the “intervention by the Attorney General of the United States in the Prince Edward County School District” (MSS 9700, Papers of Harry Flood Byrd. Images by U.Va. Library Digitization Services)

Detail of Byrd's press release.

Detail from Byrd’s press release.

While Byrd holds Prince Edward up as a model community for its demonstration, he simultaneously paints the entire Commonwealth as a victim at the hands of an intrusive federal government. Byrd’s press release continues with a somewhat ironic warning against bitterness in what he sees as being a struggle for unity: “Such action will sow the seeds of intense bitterness throughout Virginia and the South when unity is needed as rarely before.” This document, like many of Byrd’s speeches, press releases, and correspondence, serves as a means for helping us to understand both the history and discourse of Massive Resistance. The language was as much about maintaining state’s rights as it was demonstrating the resilience needed to protect the South’s way of life at all costs.

Detail from Byrd's press release.

Detail from Byrd’s press release.

When I’m asked why I devote research to a moment in our nation’s history that is so painful and ugly my response is simple: We must understand how race has operated historically through language and having access to archival sources is paramount to this. If we understand how racist discourse has functioned and if we continue to trace how it morphs, we can better prepare ourselves to dismantle and challenge the discourse of race. Archives, especially those with strong digital components and support, can aid us in our quest to dissect words and movements over long distances so that our struggle doesn’t have to be limited by travel funding or leaving campus on a research sojourn across the country.

Detail from the closing page of an anti-integration pamphlet also used by Professor Epps-Robertson in her research (Broadside 747. Image by U.Va. Libraries Digitization Services)

Detail from the closing page of an anti-integration pamphlet also used by Professor Epps-Robertson in her research. (Broadside 747. Image by U.Va. Libraries Digitization Services)


Patron’s Choice: The United States Camel Cavalry…yes, you read that right!

This week, we are pleased to feature a guest post from researcher Maria A. Windell, Assistant Professor of English at Ball State University. Dr. Windell visited Special Collections a few months ago to work on an article entitled  “Military, Diplomatic, and Novel Imperial Imaginaries: Literary History and the Writings of David Dixon Porter,” about Civil War hero Admiral David Dixon Porter.  It is drawn from a larger project on the Porter family and nineteenth-century literary history. While she was here, Maria found one particularly intriguing artifact that she generously agreed to share with us.

In March of 1855, Congress appropriated $30,000 for the purchase of…camels. The Army was hoping to find a more reliable and cost-effective way of navigating the American Southwest, as the broad swaths of territory gained just seven years before in the U.S.-Mexican War had proven difficult for horses to travel. Looking for a creative solution to these issues, the Army and Congress began to consider how camels might be adapted for transportation and perhaps even combat purposes in the United States.

A camel as illustrated in the 1857 "Report of the Secretary of War..."(UC 350 . U5 1857. Bequest of Paul Mellon. Image by University of Virginia Library Digitization Services.)

A camel as illustrated in the “Report of the Secretary of War…respecting the Purchase of Camels for the Purposes of Military Transportation” (Washington: A.O.P.Nelson, 1857). (UC 350 . U5 1857. Bequest of Paul Mellon. Image by University of Virginia Library Digitization Services.)

Secretary of War Jefferson Davis (yes, future president of the Confederacy) tapped Major Henry Wayne of the Army to head an expedition to purchase camels for use in the U.S.; Wayne had long been interested in incorporating camels into the Army’s supply chain. Davis and Wayne then chose Lieutenant David Dixon Porter of the Navy to captain the Supply, the ship that would sail the camels from the Middle East to Indianola, Texas. Porter’s brother-in-law, Gwinn Harris Heap, who had lived in Tunis for many years, accompanied the expedition as, among other things, its resident illustrator.

The expedition set out in 1855, and returned to Texas with thirty-four camels (including two calves born at sea) eleven months later. While the expedition was thus successful, the camel experiment ultimately failed. While the camels adapted quite nicely to the southwestern climate and landscape, Americans—and their horses—were unable to accept the aroma and mannerisms of their new four-legged companions. More importantly, the Civil War arrived, drawing interest and funding from the experiment. Some of the camels were sold to circuses and zoos, some were sold to private individuals, and some escaped into the desert (Texans reported encountering feral camels even into the twentieth century).

Camels being loaded for transport, as illustrated in the report. (Image by University of Virginia Digitization Services)

Camels being loaded for transport, as illustrated in the report. (Image by University of Virginia Digitization Services)

While the expedition failed to yield a permanent “Camel Corps,” it did yield a fairly comprehensive governmental report. At the request of Congress, Davis published a volume on the experiment with the rather utilitarian title Report of the Secretary of War, Communicating, In Compliance with a Resolution of the Senate of February 2, 1857, Information Respecting the Purchase of Camels for the Purposes of Military Transportation. The report is mostly a series of dispatches from Major Wayne and Lieutenant Porter; a number of Heap’s illustrations are included, as are the entries into the Supply’s log for the trip back to the U.S. Wayne also submitted lengthy excerpts and translations from various tomes on the camel, and Davis incorporated these into the report as well. There are certainly some entertaining events and illustrations to be found in the approximately 240-page report, but much of the volume is filled with mundane dispatches and camel arcana.

Title page of the report. (UC 350 .U5 1857. Bequest of Paul Mellon. Image by University of Virginia Library Digitization Services.)

Title page of the report. (UC 350 .U5 1857. Bequest of Paul Mellon. Image by University of Virginia Library Digitization Services.)

In some ways, the publication of this 1857 report might be seen as the end of the expedition (the experiment took several years to peter out). Yet the report is in some ways also the beginning of the story of the camel event—it demonstrates how the experiment became a narrative of national interest before becoming a forgotten element of the national past. And the particular copy of the report held in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia demonstrates this in a particularly vivid way: it bears an inscription showing the volume to have been gifted. While it was quite common for novels, poetry, and story collections to be gifted during the nineteenth century, the gifting of a War Department report published for congressional use was certainly not the norm.

The inscription in UVa's copy of the report. (Image by University of Virginia Library Digitization Services.)

The inscription in UVa’s copy of the report. (Image by University of Virginia Library Digitization Services.)

The inscription in UVa’s copy of Davis’s Report reveals that such was the unusual fate of this particular volume. At the time of the report’s publication, John P. Hale was a United States Senator from New Hampshire. Sarah J. Christie was the daughter of an attorney Hale had practiced law with in Dover, NH, years before. At the time he gifted the volume to Christie in 1857, Hale had likely long been married to Lucy Lambert (the Hales’ daughter, Lucy Lambert Hale, was engaged to John Wilkes Booth at the time of Lincoln’s assassination in 1865). While the inscription does not then necessarily imply a romantic gift, it does reveal that Hale believed Christie would be intrigued by the report.

Hale’s gifting of the report on the camel expedition to Christie demonstrates the appeal of the expedition for Americans further removed from political and military duties. As the volume is clean of Christie’s—or any other—marginalia, there is no way to judge of her reaction to the report. Nevertheless, Hale clearly assumed it had enough interesting content to offset its overall tedium: accounts of Tuscany, Tunis, and the Crimea; of slight diplomatic rows with Turkey and Egypt over substandard gifted camels (the insult!); and of the birthing of calves while at sea. The possibility of baby camels certainly captured the imagination of the staff at Harper’s Weekly, which (prematurely) declared the camel experiment a success before noting, “The Secretary of War, Mr. Jefferson Davis, has not yet had the pleasure of presenting to the people a native camel.[. . .] It is, perhaps, indiscreet to attempt to be precise in promising the advent of little humpbacked strangers; but we can assure the public that the hopes of the Department are very high and confident.”

Baby camels, as illustrated in the report. (Image by University of Virginia Digitization Services.)

Baby camels, as illustrated in the report. (Image by University of Virginia Digitization Services.)

While the camel expedition and experiment may have captivated nineteenth-century Americans, it faded into a largely forgotten event—overshadowed in national memory, as it was at the time, by the enormity of the Civil War. The volume held in Special Collections, however, attests not only to the strange and interesting event’s occurrence, but also to the remarkable interest it generated—even inspiring the gifting of a governmental report initially published for congressional use.