Top 10 Mementos of U.Va. Men’s Basketball

We are pleased to feature a guest post by Third-Year Garrett Gottesman and Fourth-Year Susan Gravatt, bloggers for The Media Studies Experience.

After a tough loss against Michigan State on Friday during the Sweet Sixteen round of this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, many Cavalier fans have been distraught. But instead of moping around, we decided to dig through the Special Collections Library to find some things that might just restore your faith in the glory that is Virginia Basketball. We may not have a basketball national championship this year, but what we do have is a 109-year old institution focused on respect, academic balance, and character. Our message is clear: win or lose, we are proud to be Hoos!

The collection at the library includes over fifty brochures, eight Sports Illustrated magazine issues, forty-three black and white negatives, three posters, thirty-nine digitized photographs from the 1910s, six autographed pictures, three signed books, and four dissertations. Here are our top ten favorite finds:

1. The Program from the 1910 Game Against VMI

(Photograph by Garrett Gottesman)

The 1910 program is complete with the rules of the game (pre-three point shots) and plans for the dance and refreshments that followed. “Those desiring to dance will kindly secure their tickets at the box office. Gentlemen, 50 cents; ladies, no charge.” (Broadside 1910z .R62. Photograph by Garrett Gottesman)

2. This Photograph of the 1912 Team

(Holsinger Studio Collection. U.Va. Digitization Services)

Check out those basketball belts! (MSS 9862. Holsinger Studio Collection. Image by U.Va. Digitization Services)

3. These Flashbacks to Simpler Stadium Seating at Mem Gym

(University of Virginia Visual History Collection)

Mem Gym was the home court for the Cavaliers from 1924 to 1965, as seen in this 1940 photograph.  (RG-30/1/10.011. University of Virginia Visual History Collection. Image by U.Va. Digitization Services)

(Image by Susan Gravatt)

Note the venue in this brochure for a game against South Carolina, 1956. (RG-27/1/1.101. Image by Susan Gravatt)

4.  Or These Memories from University Hall


Basketball games were played at the University Hall arena from 1965 to 2006, as seen in this fish-eye photo from 1972… (RG-30/1/10.011. University of Virginia Visual History Collection. Image by U.Va. Digitization Services)

(Photograph by Susan Gravatt)

And in this greeting card… (RG-27/1/1.101. Photograph by Susan Gravatt)

5. This March 1955 Sports Illustrated Article about Buzzy Wilkinson

(Photograph by Garrett Gottesman)

“At this tradition-soaked institution, where students wear coats and ties to class, basketball was long considered a kind of gauche pastime designed for the peasants in the hinterland. Buzzy Wilkinson changed all that. This year Virginia played to packed houses both at home and away.””Eyes on the Buzzer” from Sports Illustrated, March 19, 1955. (GV885 .H4 1955. Photograph by Garrett Gottesman)


The article tells the story of the spark that reignited the fire in Virginia basketball, and the number-one-recruited NBA player who decided to pursue a law degree instead. He still holds the ACC record for highest scoring average at 28.1 points per game. “Eyes on the Buzzer” from Sports Illustrated, March 19, 1955. (GV885 .H4 1955. Photograph by Garrett Gottesman)

6. The entire 1975-1976 season

(Cavalier Daily, March , 1976. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Front page of the Cavalier Daily, March 16, 1976. (Photograph by Petrina Jackson)


“The Cinderella Cavs Flirt With Destiny” – This issue of the Cavalier Daily possesses some of the only information around about that 1976 ACC Championship win from the Wahoos. It provides full details of how this underdog team came back to win it all. Going into the tournament, the Hoos were seeded six with a 4-8 record and before taking on North Carolina in the championship game, they had to “topple NC State (75-63) and Maryland (73-65), the third and second seeded conference teams.” The championship was no easy match. Five clutch free throws from Billy Langloh secured the victory over the Tar Heels (67-62)- making their first ACC win also the ‘first time that the first-place bye team lost in the finals’. “As methodical and controlled as their coach is calm and composed, the individual Cavalier’s showed in the ACC tournament that Virginia is henceforth a team to be reckoned with…” Author: Kip Croons. Pages 6 and 7 of the Cavalier Daily, March 16, 1976. (Photograph by Petrina Jackson)



1975-1976 Basketball Yearbook. Kevin Moore exemplified the era with his short shorts and Afro. This yearbook also includes the schedule for the 1976 season that would carry the Hoos to their ACC Championship win. (GV882 .V5. Photograph by Garrett Gottesman)

(Photograph by Garrett Gottesman)

1975-1976 Basketball Yearbook. (GV882 .V5. Photograph by Garrett Gottesman)

7. The Reign of Ralph Sampson

His first. (Image by Petrina Jackson)

Towering over opponents at 7’4”, Ralph Sampson was a lot to love. He was one of the most heavily recruited college and professional athletes of the time and brought unprecedented character to the courts. This is one of six Sports Illustrated magazines whose covers Sampson graced; in it, the writers speculated on the unclear future of this towering 7’4” freshman. (GV885.43 .V57 K45 1979. Image by Petrina Jackson)

(GV885 .43 .V57 K568 1980. Image by Petrina Jackson)

This is the story of three basketball stars who chose to stay in school rather than move on to the NBA after highly successful underclassmen seasons. There is a focus on Sampson’s overcoming of criticisms, particularly by frustrated NBA recruiters looking to draft their top pick and famed sports journalist Howard Cossell who claimed that “The University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson’s School has a 7’4″ kid at the fifth grade level.” (GV885 .43 .V57 K568 1980. Image by Petrina Jackson)

[Image by Digitization Services]

Autographed photograph of Ralph Sampson. (RG-30/1/10.011. Image by U.Va. Digitization Services.)

 8. Just, the whole Corks and Curls Photograph Archive

(Photograph by Garrett Gottesman)

This endless stack of high quality images from the 1970’s editions of Corks and Curls is nothing short of addicting.  You simply can’t find anything this good online. Check out those Converses! (RG-23/48/1.841. Photograph by Garrett Gottesman)

9. This, Um, Cool Poster From The 1990 Season?

(Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

Nothing says intensity quite like grown men walking out of the smoke with their hands on their hips. If this doesn’t make you nostalgic for the 90’s, what will? (Poster 1980.U57. Photograph by Petrina Jackson)

10. This moment.

ACC CHAMPS! Cavaliers Down Duke to Win ACC Tournament Title and Regular Season Crown. This photo was taken at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, March 2014. (Photograph by Matt Riley)

ACC CHAMPS! Cavaliers Down Duke to Win ACC Tournament Title and Regular Season Crown. This photo was taken at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, March 2014. (Photograph by Matt Riley)

This year’s Cavaliers were nothing short of amazing. We had 30 overall wins, 16 conference wins, 15 home wins, the first regular season championship since 2007, the first ACC Championship since 1976, and the first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 1995. Long story short, the 2014 team was extraordinary and one that will forever be remembered in history.

Go Hoos!

The Media Studies Experience: Restoration Ball Throughout the Decades

We are pleased to feature a guest post by Susan Gravatt, Fourth-Year Media Studies major/Religious Studies minor and blogger for The Media Studies Experience.

Saturday, March 22, 2014, from 9pm to midnight on Peabody Lawn, students will come together for the 51st Annual Restoration Ball. Each $25 ticket enables students and alumni of the University of Virginia to support the restoration of the Rotunda.

Just as the Rotunda has seen numerous changes and renovations in the past, the Restoration Ball itself has evolved in unusual and surprising ways since it began in the 1960s. In sifting through materials at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, I had the unique opportunity to step back in time and follow the history of this grand occasion.

(Photograph by Susan Gravatt)

One of the many posters from the Restoration Ball Ephemera collection, 1981. (LD5680 .R87 R47. Photograph by Susan Gravatt)

I’m not sure exactly when I first heard about this year’s Restoration Ball, but I do know that I found out about it through the now-standard event invitation service that Facebook provides. While posters certainly may be on Grounds (though I have personally not seen any), the Restoration Ball ephemera collection includes a series of posters from the 1960s to the 1980s. Some of the posters feature photographs of the Rotunda while others, like the one above, showcase a drawing or sketch.

Part of me is somewhat sad that these posters are not more abundant today. As I flipped through and photographed these older relics in Special Collections, I couldn’t help but wonder what materials will enter the library to mark the 51st event? Will Special Collections print a screenshot of the Restoration Ball website or the Facebook event? There is a certain nostalgia or romanticism that this poster and the others like it evoke, but checking out the online information about this year’s ball doesn’t have the same effect. Having the ability to hold a poster in my own hands made an event prior to my own birth come to life for me.

(Image by U.Va. Digitization Services)

Restoration Ball in the Rotunda, May 15, 1965 (RG-30/1/10.011. University of Virginia Image by U.Va. Digitization Services)

Before my visit to Special Collections, I did not realize that the Restoration Ball took place in many different locations throughout the years. As the image above shows, many of the earlier balls were actually held in the Rotunda!  According to the primary sources I consulted, by the 1980s, there was a permanent move away from the Rotunda and to Newcomb Ballroom, Peabody Lawn, and other larger, open spaces across Grounds that could accommodate a growing student body. Although I am excited to attend the event myself tomorrow evening, I must say that I am envious of those who danced in the Rotunda. For now, I’ll have to live vicariously through this photograph of past students who enjoyed that luxury. But what I wouldn’t give to have attended the ball in 1965…

Restoration Ball Dance Booklet (Photograph by Susan Gravatt)

A dance request booklet for Restoration Ball guests. (LD5680 .R87 R47. Photograph by Susan Gravatt)

Inside of dance request booklet.

Inside of dance request booklet. (LD5680 .R87 R47. Photograph by Susan Gravatt)

Although I spent almost an hour combing through the various articles and objects in the ephemera collection, the dance request booklet is, perhaps, my favorite find. Because tomorrow night’s Restoration Ball will be my first, I’m not entirely sure what to expect. However, I suspect I will not make song or dance requests to a deejay or live band by writing them down in a booklet. This nifty item enabled guests in the past to do just that.

My research on the Restoration Ball this week left me feeling the way that I do many times after leaving Special Collections. I always wonder how much students would enjoy this rich resource if they really understood the depths of its archives. Special Collections is not a building full of artifacts but rather a home for treasures that gives students a taste of both the history of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia.

Special Collections makes history real and exciting because it enables me to put my student experience in a broader context. I am attending the Restoration Ball in 2014, yes, but I am becoming part of a tradition that has spanned for decades. Special Collections documents these histories and activities that are intrinsic and central to the core of student life at the University of Virginia.

But if dancing and Restoration Balls aren’t your thing, I guarantee that if you spent time in Special Collections, you would discover surprising parallels between the past and your time and interests at U.Va., and beyond.

My research in Special Collections gave me one more reason to get excited about my first Restoration Ball and the 51st for the University of Virginia, tomorrow night.



The Media Studies Experience: An Afternoon with Willa Cather

We are pleased to feature a guest post by Emily Caldwell, Fourth-Year English major/Media Studies minor and blogger for The Media Studies Experience.

In my second year at UVa, I took Professor Stephen Raillton’s class on Modern American Authors. We read everything from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Richard Wright, but one author I was unfamiliar with up until this point was Willa Cather. That semester, I read her novel O Pioneers! and absolutely fell in love with her storytelling and writing style.

Bust of Willa Cather (Photograph by Emily Caldwell)

Paul Swan, plaster bust of Willa Cather in the Special Collections Reading Room (MSS 10560. Photograph by Emily Caldwell)

A few days ago, I spent the afternoon in the U.Va. Special Collections with some of Cather’s personal items including signed photographs, manuscripts, and letters. It’s safe to say that I fell in love with her even more.

Willa Cather's signature from her letter to (Emily Caldwell)

Willa Cather’s signature from her letter to the Head of the English Department at Mount Saint Mary’s College, February 7, 1940. (MSS 6494. Emily Caldwell)

Envelope and letter of Willa Cather to the Head of the Mount Saint Mary's , February 7, 1940. (Photograph by Emily Caldwell)

Envelope and letter of Willa Cather to the Head of the English Department at Mount Saint Mary’s College, February 7, 1940. (MSS 6494. Photograph by Emily Caldwell)

First of all, the woman can make me laugh. In a letter dated February 7, 1940, to the head of the English Department at Mount Saint Mary’s College in Maryland, Cather defends her  religious beliefs, after having apparently received a letter from a student at the college, and instructs him, through the professor, to not believe everything he reads. Cather addresses the letter, “Dear Sir,” and then says, “I hope you will pardon me for addressing you without knowing your name, but I feel sure that you could handle this rather blustering boy better than I.” I could not help but chuckle to myself in the middle of the library’s dead silent reading room. Apparently this “blustering boy” had read somewhere in a book that Cather was a Roman Catholic convert, judging by her obvious praise of the Church throughout her literature. Although Cather claims that the Roman Catholic Church is “certainly the greatest spiritual power this world has ever known,” she claims that the “answer is very simple” and she is “an Episcopalian because [her] mother and father were, and that Church is home to [her].” Not only did she scold the so-called “blustering boy,” but she requested that slips of paper explaining the facts of her beliefs be put in every copy of Vernon Loggins’s I Hear America, which claimed Cather was a convert to the Roman Catholic Church. From this particular correspondence, it is clear that Cather was not only a sassy and particular woman, but truly dedicated to her religion, and I find both traits admirable.  

The next treasure I found in this collection was a letter from Cather to a Mrs. Ackroyed dated May 16, 1941. Out of all of the things I looked at from this collection, this was my favorite artifact because of the way Cather fondly reflects on her childhood home in Virginia. I was first referred to this letter after looking at a photograph of that home, in Willow Shade, VA.

Cather's childhood home in Willow Shade, VA, n.d. (MSS 6494. Photograph by Emily Caldwell.)

Cather’s childhood home in Willow Shade, VA, n.d. (MSS 6494. Photograph by Emily Caldwell.)

I thought it was peculiar that there was a blue circle around one of the windows on the house. After reading the letter, I found out some interesting facts about Cather’s childhood. In the beginning of the letter, Cather writes, “Your letter has awakened many pleasant memories. Your grandmother, Mary Ann Anderson, was a very special favorite of mine when I was a little girl of five to eight years old and lived in Willow Shade on the Northwestern Turnpike.” Cather continues to explain that when she would get sick as a little girl, she would “watch out of the front windows, hoping to see Mrs. Anderson coming down the road” because her family “usually sent some word to her when [she] was sick, because she was so tactful and understanding with a child.” I then made the connection to the photograph, on which Cather had actually circled the front window she used to sit at to watch for Mrs. Anderson. She recalls, “I several times walked up that beautiful Hollow Road, up to Timber Ridge, to see her in her little house where she lived all alone, and where she was as happy as the day was long.”

Cather then goes on in the letter to talk about her Aunt Marjorie, who she used to visit back in Virginia after her family moved out west to Nebraska. She writes, “I used to always spend many hours with Marjorie in the…sunny kitchen or on the shady back porch. She liked to talk about the old times in Virginia.” As I was reading the letter,  I felt the emotions and nostalgia she poured into this letter. She writes that she wished to “have the croup again” and she “could watch out of one of those windows at Willow Shade and see Mrs. Anderson coming briskly around the turn of the road.”

When I first started digging into this collection of Willa Cather’s artifacts and materials, I thought I would read into some of her personal relationships and see some interesting photographs. However, I never expected to read a touching letter reflecting on her childhood, and how much she wished she could be a child in Virginia again with the people who shaped her life so much. It is a very special moment and feeling to read one of the most brilliant authors I have ever read gush about their time spent in Virginia, my home state and the place where I, too, spent many magical years as a child, learning about the world. I never believed I could relate to Willa Cather so much, and I feel even more honored than ever to go to the University of Virginia, and call Virginia my home state.

Double-signed photograph of Willa Cather, n.d. (Photograph by Emily Caldwell)

Double-signed photograph of Willa Cather, n.d. (MSS 6494. Photograph by Emily Caldwell)  

Detail of Willa Cather photograph, n.d. (Emily Caldwell)

Detail of Willa Cather’s signature on her photograph, n.d. (MSS 6494. Emily Caldwell)

Permission was granted courtesy of Willa Cather’s estate to use quotations from her unpublished letters.

The Media Studies Experience: U.Va.’s Beta Bridge

We are pleased to feature a guest post by Garrett Gottesman, who is a Third-Year, double-majoring in Media Studies and American Studies with a concentration in Social Reform, and a blogger for The Media Studies Experience.

Because I’ve seen messages and artwork come and go almost daily on Beta Bridge over the past three years, oftentimes the words and their meaning are lost on me. But this week, Beta Bridge grabbed my attention and made me momentarily put my day on pause.

Beta Bridge, February 2014 (Photograph by Garrett Gottesman)

Beta Bridge painted in support of Venezuelan protests, February 21, 2014. (Photograph by Garrett Gottesman)

Having followed the news coverage of the political unrest in Venezuela, this visual demonstration arranged by Venezuelan students at U.Va. instantly caught and held my attention. This dramatic appeal resonated with me as images of violence and brutality still lingered in my head from the news the night before. Second-Year Student Henrique Sosa, who is from Venezuela and is a leader of U.Va. students demonstrating support for Venezuela, said that their mission is to increase consciousness about the crisis amongst students and also to send strength to the Venezuelans whose voices are being silenced by the oppressive regime.

(Screen shot taken by Garrett Gottesman)

An example of U.Va. student support for the Venezuelan protests is this picture, which has reached an audience of over 700,000 Venezuelans after it was retweeted by prominent Venezuelan reporter Miguel Henrique Otero, February 23, 2014. (Screen shot taken by Garrett Gottesman)

In addition to accomplishing this mission though, the message also left me questioning the history of Beta Bridge as I realized that I knew so little about it.

Paintings on the bridge commemorating students who have recently died, or the “Hoos for Hokies” message after the Virginia Tech shootings are some of the most memorable Beta messages that resonate with the student body. But largely, the free billboard space is filled with birthday wishes and CIO (student group) advertisements. These more common messages go unnoticed; however, the sanctity of this outlet of expression is worth defending.

Filled with curiosity of the bridge’s history, I visited Special Collections. There, I found dozens of pictures of the bridge over the last 20 years, as well as two Cavalier Daily articles from the 1980s that illustrated Beta’s history and importance.

University of Virginia Beta Bridge, 1969. (RG-30/1/10.11. University of Virginia Visual History Collection. Image by Digitization Services.)

University of Virginia Beta Bridge, 1969. (RG-30/1/10.11. University of Virginia Visual History Collection. Image by Digitization Services.)

The March 11, 1981 Cavalier Daily article, “Beta: It’s More Than Just a Bridge” explains the history of the bridge. The original wooden bridge was built in 1855 by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company, who owned the railroad below, but it wasn’t until the 1960’s that painting it became such a part of U.Va. culture. As a matter of fact, it was illegal to paint it before this time, and the marks seldom on it, which were usually sports scores, were done under the cover of the night.

This tradition blossomed though, and, by the 1980s, the bridge was painted up to five times a day. Reaffirming my sentiments, the Cavalier Daily articles noted how important this outlet of student expression was. In the September 22, 1986 article entitled “Beta Bridge: Layers of University Tradition Live on Rugby,” former professor Raymond Bice explained, “Once in a while someone paints something that raises eyebrows. But really it’s a harmless activity that is very valuable.” Although the instances that he is talking about are ones like the John Lennon memorial that stayed up for ten days, this act still holds value today as some students use it to reach beyond the University community. The bridge poses as a cornerstone for the symbolic value of student voice, and even though it can often be pointless fun, sometimes its impact leaves a lasting mark on those who see it.

The Media Studies Experience: The Cavalier Daily and Black Culture Week

We are pleased to feature a guest post by Susan Gravatt, Fourth-Year Media Studies major/Religious Studies minor and blogger for The Media Studies Experience.

Turn back the clock 40 years, and an edition of The Cavalier Daily appears quite differently from the predominantly online publication that it is today. However, its attention to particular facets of student life is surprisingly similar. Diversity, a regular topic of discussion that I have heard throughout my four years at the University of Virginia, receives a handful of nods in a February edition of the student newspaper from 1974.

I could have spent days mulling through the Special Collections archives of the newspaper that date back to the 1890s. However, I especially wanted to see the paper’s emphasis on race in the 1970s, since universities nationwide were still acclimating to integration.

Black Culture Week appears in an edition of the publication from February 8, 1974. That year marked the Black Student Alliance’s (BSA) 4th annual week-long celebration of encouraging “awareness of the black persons within the University community.” The BSA brought gospel choirs, concerts, and the “Black Ball” to Grounds. A student chairman for the BSA exclaimed Black Culture Week was “the highlight of the year for black students.”

(Photograph by Susan Gravatt.)

Anderson, Francine and Rosemary Cooney. “Black Culture Week: Week Offers Exposure to Black Experience.” Cavalier Daily, February 8, 1974. (Newspaper VA UVa CD. Photograph by Susan Gravatt)

Fast-forward to the present, and The Cav Daily still has a vested interest in covering issues of race within the student body. But now, there may be a slightly bleaker picture. Just on Valentine’s Day of this past year, Jared Fogel, an opinion columnist for The Cav Daily wrote,

Since…. 1996, University minority percentages have stagnated. According to 2012-2013 statistics, 28.3 percent, or around 6,000, of the over 21,000 students that attend the University are minorities. This does not quite measure up to the around 36 percent of minorities that live in Virginia or the 37 percent of minorities that live in the U.S.” Although The Cavalier Daily is addressing concerns for not just blacks but all racial minorities, the paper’s writers continue to hope to educate and inform their fellow students regarding issues of race and what they mean for the entire University.

After flipping through the 1974 paper, though, I asked myself, “What happened to Black Culture Week?” As far as I could find from the BSA website, the University did not hold a similar event in 2014, though these festivities did take place last February.

Do any readers recall Black Culture Week celebrations during the 1970s? How did they shape student life, for the week and beyond?

Cavalier Daily (Photograph by Susan Gravatt.)

“BSA Sponsors Mandrill Concert.” Cavalier Daily, February 8, 1974. Mandrill is an American band formed in New York in 1968. The band’s music fuses funk with Latin, salsa, rock, blues and soul.  (Newspaper VA UVa CD. Photograph by Susan Gravatt.)


The Media Studies Experience: Plantation Tales and Seeds of Change

We are pleased to feature a guest post by Emily Caldwell, Fourth-Year English major/Media Studies minor and blogger for The Media Studies Experience.

Although I have not spent an extensive time studying Uncle Tom’s Cabin throughout my academic career or my current course on the literature of the South, in the class, we briefly touched on the cultural significance this work had in sculpting the perception of race and racial relations in American society during the late nineteenth century.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or Life Among the Lowly is an American anti-slavery novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe published in 1852. And yes, I was lucky enough to hold a first edition. The novel was a best-selling book in the 19th-century and is credited with fueling the abolitionist movement in the United States throughout the 1850’s.

Cover of the first edition, first issue of Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1852.

Cover of volume 1 of the first edition, first issue of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1852. (PS2954 .U5 1852b v.1-2. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Photograph by Emily Caldwell)

Cover detail of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Cover detail of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. (PS2954 .U5 1852b v.1-2. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Photograph by Emily Caldwell.)

Spine of the first edition, first issue of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Spine of the first edition, first issue of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. (PS2954 .U5 1852b v.1-2. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Photograph by Emily Caldwell.)

Being the English Literature book nerd that I am, while I sat holding this text, I thought about how powerful a piece of literature can be as an agent of social change. However, as I looked through the crinkled and age-spotted pages, I noticed many startling passages. Since I’m currently studying Southern Literature, these classic examples racial discourses in America are fascinating to me, and I love studying how these perceptions have changed over time. In the case of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, although the novel was meant to be a force for anti-slavery, itl unfortunately introduced and reinforced many black stereotypes including “mammy,” “pickaninny,” and even “Uncle Tom” himself, who is portrayed as the faithful servant who remains loyal to his master despite his endured suffering as a slave.

Title page image from volume 1 of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Title page image from volume 1 of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. (PS2954 .U5 1852b v.1-2. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Photograph by Emily Caldwell.)

However, I also found many promising excerpts that indicated an undertone of great social change on the horizon. In the preface of the novel, Stowe writes,

The object of these sketches is to awaken sympathy and feeling for the African race, as they exist among us; to show their wrongs and sorrows, under a system so necessarily cruel and unjust as to defeat and do away the good effects of all that can be attempted for them, by their best friends, under it.

I found it interesting that Stowe does not outright condemn the South for these wrongdoings, but instead said, “…Both North and South have been guilty before God; and the Christian church has a heavy account to answer.” Although these words may be familiar to those who have studied the text, it is the fact that this single book, the best-selling book, second only to the Bible when it was published, is a vehicle that planted the seeds for a great shift in American society change. Even Abraham Lincoln joked that Stowe and her revolutionary ideas fueled the Civil War.

As a native Virginian (a designation some might argue today is not truly “southern”), I feel a sense of pride when it comes to where I come from. In my Southern Literature course, we discussed how there is almost a longing for an ideal south that was never really there. There is a sense of pride in what the south represents, yet also a sense of embarrassment and shame for what hateful crimes and prejudices its culture harbored in America. I believe that Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a prime example of cultural and literary history that not only began a discourse about the corrupted sociology of the South, but also reinforced disturbing, harmful and misrepresented stereotypes of African American culture that still resonate in our culture today. Although there are some aspects of our country’s history that we would rather overlook or erase altogether, they still compose our own American story.

I feel honored as a student of U.Va. to have access to first-edition copies of some of the most influential texts in the English language and Southern Literature. Literature and physical books themselves are often overlooked as important agents of exchanged thoughts and ideologies, and I can’t help but wonder where our country would be without this and other published plantation tales.

Title page detail of Uncle Tom's Cabin. ( PS2954 .U5 1852b v.1-2. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Photograph by Emily Caldwell)

Title page detail of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. (PS2954 .U5 1852b v.1-2. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature. Photograph by Emily Caldwell.)

The Media Studies Experience: Let the Experience Begin!

When I received a message from VQR Web Editor Jane Friedman, inquiring if Special Collections would be interested in having a group of students from her spring semester  Media Studies class, Digital Media and Publishing contribute content to our social media, I jumped at the chance.  As a result, Special Collections has gained four enthusiastic, smart, and social media savvy undergraduates, who will share with you many of the fantastic finds they encounter while researching Under Grounds.

The Special

Pictured from left to right: Professor Jane Friedman, and students Emily Caldwell, Garrett Gottesman, Ali Sutherland, and Susan Gravatt.

Allow them to introduce themselves!

Emily Caldwell

My name is Emily Caldwell, and I am a Fourth Year in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia. I will graduate this May with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Minor in Media Studies. Outside of my academic studies at the University, I am also a marketing and publicity intern at the University of Virginia Press and have worked there for about a year now. As a typical student with a Liberal Arts Major, I am still unsure of exactly where I will be or what I will be doing after graduation (if anyone is looking to hire an English major who is highly analytical with exceptional written and oral communication skills, let me know). In all seriousness, I am very interested in pursuing a career in the Media or Publishing Industries.

I chose to be in the Special Collections group as part of a semester-long project for my digital media and publishing course because I believe this library, as a whole, is a buried treasure chest, so to speak. It is a resource “hidden” in plain view of U.Va. students, and therefore extremely underutilized. I would love to uncover some of many gems located at Special Collections and make them known to my fellow Wahoos with the hope that they, too, will fully take advantage of the rich history that U.Va. has to offer. As an English Literature/Book Nerd, I am most interested in delving into the University’s literary treasures. I want to examine everything from the papers of William Faulkner, my personal favorite writer, to Walt Whitman’s manuscripts. I am not only deeply fond of these historical texts as literature, but I am fascinated and intrigued by the physical representation of these artifacts and how they lend themselves as historical vehicles.

However, on an even more personal level, I am a Virginian born and raised in Salem, which is about two hours southwest of Charlottesville. I have grown up learning the rich history of my native state, and it is one of the main reasons I chose to attend the University of Virginia. Although not all of the history of Virginia, or the University itself, is pretty or admirable, it is still my history, your history, here for us to discover. The ground we walk on at U.Va. is full of this history, and I mean that literally because a large part of the Special Collections Library is located underground. I look forward to unearthing everything beautiful, terrible, fascinating, honorable, and tragic that has made the University of Virginia the institution it is today.

Emily Caldwell

Photograph of Emily Caldwell, 2012.

Garrett Gottesman

My name is Garrett Gottesman, and I am a Third Year at U.Va. I am currently double majoring in Media Studies and American Studies, in which I am pursuing a concentration in Social Reform. When I heard about the opportunity to do digital media publicity for the Special Collections Library, I knew that it was the perfect opportunity for me. Since being admitted to U.Va., I have been obsessed with its history. I am looking forward to looking at material culture from the University, and I am specifically interested in the Civil War, the Civil Rights Era, and modern pop culture as they pertain to U.Va. This obsession with U.Va. is somewhat ironic when you consider the fact that I am from Austin, Texas and grew up with no information about the University.

As a proud Texan living in Virginia, I am currently learning what it means to have withdrawals from quality Tex-Mex and Barbecue. That being said, I am enjoying the chance to try out the local cuisine and remaining open to the idea that I may not move back to Texas immediately after graduation.

Right now I am still juggling a million career ideas as I get closer and closer to my fourth year. However, my career choice of the week is to do Marketing and Communications for a global nonprofit. I love finding any excuse I can to help others even if it means annihilating what little free time I have. This is most true when my Madison House “little sib” convinces me to come help him with his math homework or when friends ask me to do favors for them. I know how to say no, but I prefer to instead just say yes and roll with it.
I am a passionate explorer and have traveled to over thirty countries on six of seven continents around the world. My most recent adventure was on the 50th anniversary voyage of Semester at Sea which took me to 17 countries along the Atlantic Ocean in 115 days. I am obsessed with the movie Elf, and I could not live with out Swedish Fish. I also have the coolest dog in the world. He is a basset hound named Elvis. Here is the link to his facebook profile.

Garrett Gottesman in front of the Special Collections vault, 2014. (Photograph by Petrina Jackson).

Garrett Gottesman in front of the Special Collections vault, 2014. (Photograph by Petrina Jackson).

Susan Gravatt

My name is Susan Gravatt, and I’m a Fourth Year Media Studies major and Religious Studies minor at the University of Virginia in the College of Arts & Sciences. Since my fourth semester at U.Va., I’ve worked at WTJU 91.1 FM in Charlottesville, Virginia, as an intern, producer, and now a co-host for the station’s public affairs program, Soundboard. I also work with U.Va.’s new student radio station, WTJX, and am an outreach coordinator who builds student involvement through our site, which you can find at: When I’m not at WTJU, you might find me practicing with U.Va.’s salsa club or University Baptist’s collegiate choir, Jubilate.

After graduation, my biggest goal currently is to… have a job! I am currently embarking upon the Notorious Job Hunt and hope to find work in the Northern Virginia area or in Charlottesville. In a perfect world, I would continue to do some sort of creative work in the radio industry, but we will see where that takes me.

Until graduation and the Real World, though, I am enjoying my final semester at U.Va. and looking forward to working in the Special Collection Library. After visiting it a few times as a First Year for a project, I realized how many treasures are buried here and wanted to share them with others online. In the coming weeks, I plan to explore and write about U.Va. and some of the lesser-known stories about Grounds.

Keep checking back, as our team will be bringing you some pretty cool content and posts in the next few months!

Susan Gravatt

Photograph of Susan Gravatt

Ali Sutherland

My name is Ali, and I am from Grundy,Virginia (it’s where West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia meet). I’m a Fourth Year Government major, Media Studies minor, and have many, many, many interests.  I sing, play guitar, and craft A LOT.  I’m a sister of Sigma Delta Tau and am OBSESSED with social media. My dream job would be to either have a record deal or to do social media for a fashion label.  I’m really into history and antiques, so working with the Special Collections Library is going to be super fun.  The guys from Pawn Stars would love it here…

Note: Ali will be contributing to our social media via Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.  Be sure to follow us and see what fun treasures she finds.

Ali Sutherland

Photograph of Ali Sutherland by Nicholle Goodnight, 2013.

Look out for The Media Studies Experience coming at you all semester long!