Julian Bond and Black Popular Culture


This post is contributed by Derrais Carter (he/they), a writer, book artist, and Assistant Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona. As a William A. Elwood Fellowship recipient, Carter used his research to investigate links between Julian Bond and blaxploitation cinema.

I went in search of conspiracy. For a length of time, that I’m slightly embarrassed to admit, I have searched for information about a group of well-intentioned activists who live in my mind as a cabal. Their mission was to rid Black America of demeaning, stereotypical representations in film. They called themselves the Coalition Against Blaxploitation (CAB).

The CAB is said to have originated in 1972. Organized by Junius Griffin, the same man who coined the term blaxploitation, the CAB included activists from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).[1] Blaxploitation, Griffin’s portmanteau of “Black” and “exploitation” names Hollywood’s attempt to capitalize on the film industry’s newfound interest in targeting Black filmgoing audiences. This interest resulted from the success of early 70s films including but not limited to Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971), Shaft (1971) and Superfly (1972). While these films were monumental commercial successes, they also raised questions around the quality of Black representation in film. Enter blaxploitation. Griffin used the term critically to expose Hollywood’s investment in stereotypical representations that were psychologically damaging to Black Americans. When he introduced the term in Variety, Griffin was the head of the Hollywood NAACP. In this way, he was well-poised to work with other civil rights organizations to merge their resources toward the greater end of the film industry’s anti-Black practices.

What has long intrigued me is the shadowy and nebulous way the group seems to have operated. Given the histories and racial triumphs of the organizations involved, I wondered why the CAB isn’t more visible in archival collections or trade publications. So, casting a wide net, I ventured into the Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347 + accreations) at the Small Special Collections Library in hopes of finding incontrovertible evidence of the group’s existence. I don’t know if he was involved with them. But as a founding member of SNCC, I thought his papers might contain some information about the CAB and how they saw themselves extending SNCC’s political efforts. In the absence of a glaring piece of historical evidence, I would have settled for a letter, note, or photograph that provided insight into how the CAB operated.

I found nothing of the sort.

Slightly deterred, my curiosity never wavered. For the next few days, I abandoned my initial inquiry and allowed myself to wade in the papers and wander, folder after folder, photographing items that piqued my interest. On my final day in special collections, I packed my belongings, exited the library, and took a deep dive into the photographs I snapped while researching onsite over copious amounts of earl grey tea. I’d selected a strange amalgam of political speeches, business and personal correspondence, notes and ephemera from various events. As I read, I reviewed my folders and took notes on what might be useful for my blaxploitation research. In the process, I gained a better idea of the extent to which Bond was interested in and engaged with popular culture. In this way, the collection did not disappoint.

Three b/w photos of Julian Bond at work organizing for SNCC

In 1961, Bond left Morehouse College to join the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), becoming a prominent member of the civil rights movement and organizing sit-ins and voter registration campaigns. Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347, Box 120-121).

Below are a few excerpts from my time in the Bond papers. From these materials, another story emerges; one that takes me away from my initial inquiry yet delights me as a scholar invested in histories of Black culture. Through these documents, Bond becomes an unexpected vector in the 1970s Black popular culture landscape. With a curiosity I can’t shake I find myself asking, over and over, “Who is this guy?!”

Typewritten letter from Julian Bond letter to his brother James about Black music.

Julian Bond letter to his brother James about Black music. Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347, Box 115, Folder 5)

Personal correspondence intrigues me. I’m nosey, so I relish opportunities to read correspondence by Black artists and activists.  The significance of the communication, when viewed by a reader who is not the intended recipient can produce a host of reactions. But in this letter from Bond to his brother James, I relish the references to Black music. They give us insight into Bond’s musical taste, alerting us to the voices and sounds that filled his speakers. In this letter, Melba Moore, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith and Modern Jazz Quartet share space in his personal collection. The sounds emanating from these records, divergent and capacious, allow us to eavesdrop (in a broad historical way) and take in the tempos, grooves, and lyrics that buoyed him. And should we desire to glean the albums that overtly befit Bond the activist, then Alan Lomax’s “prison song recording” or Alan Ribback’s Movement Soul (1967) are fitting references. So, if you can “go for” songs that remind you of Bond, this letter is a great place to begin.

Typewritten letter from Julian Bond to Clarence Avant about starting Julian's music record label

Letter from Julian Bond to Clarence Avant about starting theBlack, Brown, & Beige music record label. Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347, Box 29, Folder 5)

Bond’s interest in music was also business-related. According to this letter to Clarence Avant, a.k.a. The Black Godfather, Bond was starting his own record label called Black, Brown & Beige. The name appears to be a reference to Duke Ellington’s 1943 composition. The song conveys the story of an African named Boola who is enslaved and brought to the United States. Across 20 minutes, the composition moves listeners from slavery to the emergence of the Blues. While I have yet to verify the existence of the record label, Bond’s desire to extend his activist tactics by releasing an Angela Davis record is especially interesting.

Promotional still photograph of Bond appearing on SNL

Bond’s appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1977. Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347 – Box 120).

To get a glimpse of Bond’s relationship to humor, one need only look at the documents pertaining to a roast in his honor and his 1977 appearance on Saturday Night Live. The roast materials include a program listing featured speakers, as well as Bond’s script for the event. His barbs at attendees are laced with Black historical references, political commentary, and personal history. The Saturday Night Live materials include a typed draft on his opening monologue, scripts for various segments featuring Bond, and press documents.


Typewritten press release with NBC logo

Press release for Bond’s 1977 appearance on Saturday Night Live. Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347, Box 6, Folder 22).

typewritten script

Saturday Night Live script for Julian Bond. Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347, Box 6, Folder 22).

Typewritten letter

Letter from Julian bond to Jean Carey Bond about being in the film (Greased Lightning) with Richard Pryor and Pam Grier. Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347, Box 28, Folder 1).

This letter from Bond to Jean Carey Bond is the closest I came to finding any meaningful connection between Bond and 1970s cinema. Blaxploitation was on the decline by this point, but I can’t help but wonder what conversations, jokes, arguments, and thoughts percolated between Bond, Pam Grier, Jim Hinton (a.k.a. James E. Hinton), Cleavon Little, Richard Pryor, and Melvin Van Peebles on the set of Greased Lightning (1977).

B/w photograph of Bond shaking hands with Stevie Wonder while others look on.

Julian Bond with Stevie Wonder. Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347 – Box 120).

These materials give me insight into Bond, but they also remind me that there is so much more to be considered as I examine the cultural life of blaxploitation. Yes, there are iconic films like Superfly (1972) and Blacula (1972). Additionally, there are at least 200 more films that fall under the blaxploitation banner. But, for me, the term exceeds Junius Griffin’s definition. It encapsulates a cultural moment wherein Black artists, activists, and scholars wrestled over the attention and loyalty of Black audiences. And while my time in the Bond Papers did not bring me closer to uncovering the CAB, I take solace in Bond’s musical wants, his humor, and his prismatic Black humanity.

[1] https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/blaxploitation-films

Beyond Making the Grade: Student and Life success at UVA (in 1854 and 2022)

As students approach their final exams for the Fall of 2022, Manuscript and Archives
processor Ellen Welch is pleased to share an original letter from a new acquisition of the Bennett Taylor Papers (MSS 9221), written in 1854 from a father giving advice to his son, a University of Virginia student. These letters were donated by Elizabeth Kirk Page—a descendant of the Jefferson and Randolph family—to the Small Special Collections Library in October 2018.

The letter was written by John Charles Randolph Taylor (1812-1875) to his son Bennett Taylor (1836-1898), a student in February 1854. Taylor is also a great-great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson through his mother Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph Taylor, (1817-1857). Mr. Taylor advises Bennett to engage in student learning that extends beyond test scores and grades.

I love the advice in this letter because it reminds me of how my father used to counsel me when I was a college student—telling me to savor my years of learning as if I were drinking a fine glass of wine! While we may forget a test score, we remember personal and meaningful connections with faculty, students, and academic concepts for a lifetime. As the University community nears the end of this semester, it is good to focus on those connections that can enrich your life forever.

“My dearest Boy,

I received your letter of the 10th & again your letter of the 13th. I am not

disappointed at your finding the examinations harder than you expected. I do not think

success at the University at all necessary to our future success in life. The main object

to be aimed at in after life, it seems to me, is to be good & useful & to perform faithfully

& diligently the duties which accident & your own inclination point out to you. A certain

amount of this world’s goods is necessary to every man. This amount is always attain-

able by every industrious man who does not allow himself to be led away by the temp-

tations which surround him. The mode & manner of attaining this independence

must always depend upon the circumstances of natural talent, capacity for

study, & consequent acquirement, which belong to the individual. Success at college

is often injurious because the recipient of college honors is often inclined to rest

on his [ears]! I look upon the knowledge acquired during your college life of your own

self, as not the least important result which is to be attained. It will be a great

pleasure to me, I confess, for you to graduate with credit in your different classes, &

I still hope that you will be able to do so, by using due diligence. Your after course,

in entering upon the success of life, must as you must see, depend on the

amount of knowledge which you may acquire, & the training which your mind

will receive, during the next four years, & it is most important to you to bring

out your full capacity during that time. My impression is that you ought not

to be discouraged by the late examinations, but that you ought to devote yourself

with all your powers, & systematically, to Latin, French, & Spanish, & endeavor to

make yourself a good graduate in each of these classes at the present session.

In your Greek & Mathematical classes, I would give them sufficient study to insure my

standing well in them in the recitation room and [exam], & give all my extra time to the

three first named, if I were you. If you have not written to me, write to say how

you found the examinations in French & Spanish- & also, the examination in

mathematics, when that takes places. Write to me what you think of my suggestion

about your studies…”

Your most affectionate father

J.C.R. Taylor

Bennett Taylor graduated from the University of Virginia, became a Lieutenant Colonel in the American Civil War, and survived being a prisoner at Johnson Island in Lake Erie, New York. He was a clerk for the Circuit Court, a Justice for the Peace, a Town Magistrate, an attorney, and a husband and father of six children. While he was far from being wealthy—in fact, he struggled to pay his rent—by all known accounts he had a rich and fulfilling life. The Bennett Taylor papers include letters from his grandmother Jane Hollins Randolph (1798-1871), and his great aunt Ellen Wayles Coolidge (1796-1876), granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson.

Some of the letters can also be read online created via Monticello and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

Bennett Taylor also collected autographed comments of friendship and signatures from his Kappa Alpha brothers and fellow students at the University of Virginia in an autograph album which is also in our University Archives collection (RG-30/17/1.821).

Check out the related Edgehill Randolph family collection (MSS 5533-e)—these collections give a close-up view of the attitudes and lives of people that lived in our town during another time, sharing past knowledge into our present.








Nick Biddle and the Commemorative Power of the Carte de Visite

This post contributed by Elizabeth Nosari, Nau Project Archivist at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. Her work involves processing the John L. Nau III Civil War History Collection, which includes correspondence, diaries, photographs, military records, currency, and printed materials relating to the American Civil War (1861–65).  

CDV Portrait of African-American Nicholas Biddle. MSS 16459, Gift of John L. Nau III

The Confederates took Fort Sumter following a brief and remarkably bloodless bombardment, April 12–13, 1861, that signaled the beginning of the American Civil War (1861–65). In the aftermath, on April 15, President Lincoln’s call to defend the capital was met by the First Defenders, a group of five volunteer troops from Pennsylvania.1 Among them were the Washington Artillerists from Pottsville, Pennsylvania, which included sixty-five-year-old Nicholas “Nick” Biddle (ca. 1796–1876), who served as the orderly to commanding officer Captain James Wren.2 En route to Washington, D.C., the company arrived in the city of Baltimore in Maryland, a border state, on April 18, 1861. The unarmed soldiers were met by a violent pro-Confederate mob of 2,000 that attacked them with fists, stones, bottles, and “whatever else [the mob] could reach.”3 Biddle was targeted for being a Black man in uniform, and he was reported to have been the first and most violently wounded of the First Defenders.4

When [the mob] saw Nicholas Biddle, an African American in uniform who was treated as an equal by his white comrades…. The mob closed in like “wild wolves,” Captain James Wren, Biddle’s commander, later recorded…. Salvos of bricks pried loose from the streets began to fly through the air. One struck Biddle in the head, knocking him to the ground and leaving a wound that reportedly exposed bone.5

According to historian John D. Hoptak, “Many of the Pennsylvanians present that day believed Biddle was the first man to be struck down by an enemy combatant in the Civil War.”6 Most significantly, however, Biddle, a formerly enslaved person, claimed this distinction for himself and memorialized it by commissioning a carte de visite portrait with W. R. Mortimer (Schuylkill Co., Pa.) in his hometown of Pottsville, Pennsylvania. One of these original photographs, pictured above, is held in the Small Special Collection Library’s John L. Nau III Civil War History Collection. This half-length portrait shows a relatively close-up view of Biddle seated and wearing the uniform of the Washington Artillerists with his kepi hat removed and tucked under his arm. Beneath the image, is the caption, “‘Nick Biddle,’ Of Pottsville, Pa., the first man wounded in the Great American Rebellion, ‘Baltimore, April 18, 1861.” Biddle’s portrait in uniform was radical in many ways—not least because Black men were not legally allowed to enlist in the United States military at the time it was taken in 1861.7

Like many Americans during the Civil War, Biddle chose the carte de visite to make his mark. The advent of photography in the 1840s ushered in the democratization of portraiture, removing it from the sole purview of the elite and the academy. However, early formats like the daguerreotype and ambrotype were still prohibitively expensive for most Americans and limited to a single image developed directly onto a fragile glass plate.8 In contrast, the carte de visite was an accessible, affordable, portable, and easily reproducible aide-mémoire.9 Developed in France by Adolphe-Eugene Disdéri in the 1850s, the format featured an albumen print mounted on a heavier paper the size of a standard business or visiting card.10 By 1860, “cardomania” had arrived and “3,154 Americans earned their living as photographers … [with] at least one in nearly every city and town.”11 Customers, who could purchase multiple prints at a time relatively inexpensively, needed a means of managing and displaying their collections. By 1861, photograph albums also became wildly popular and were filled with portraits of family and friends as well as “mass-produced pictures of … famous people.”12

Americans like Biddle were, for the first time, able to self-consciously create their own identities through photography, “no matter rank or race.”13 As Isidora Stankovic notes, “A single photographic image could reflect an individual’s personality, social standing, intellect—in sum; one’s being—all through the tools of pose, expression, and props.”14 The simple medium of the carte de visite was capable of conveying deeply personal intentions and values, but it was also a form of social currency and a means of commemoration and memory making meant for public consumption, something that, by Stankovic’s account, Biddle seems to have been keenly aware of:

Biddle sold copies of his image at the Great Central Fair in Philadelphia to Americans eager to add his picture to their albums, which were filled with images of the famous and their families. Indeed, a veteran recalled that “‘A photographic album [was] not considered complete in Pottsville without the picture of the man whose blood was first spilled in the beginning of the war.15

The collective importance of photographic images in the nineteenth-century public consciousness cannot be underestimated; and portraits of Black Americans were highly influential, marking a shift in the visual and political culture of the United States. Leading abolitionist and intellectual Frederick Douglass (ca. 1817–1895), a contemporary of Biddle’s, was a forerunner in his use of photographic portraiture to support the abolition movement. Douglass wrote extensively about the democratizing power of photography, and he arguably “defined himself as a free man and citizen as much through his portraits as his words.”16 As Maurice O. Wallace observes, uplifting photographic portraits in the public sphere led the way in introducing Black Americans as a “new national subject” and part of the “imagined body politic.”17 Within this wider trend, according to Wallace, Black soldiering and “the popularity and proliferation of black soldier portraits” like Biddle’s played a key role in “the genesis of African American manhood as a coherent category of civil identity and experience.”18

1 Wikipedia, s.v., “Pennsylvania First Defenders,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvania_First_Defenders, accessed October 11, 2022.
2 John D. Hoptak, “Nicholas Biddle: The Civil War’s First Blood,” HISTORYNET, October 3, 2008, https://www.historynet.com/nicholas-biddle-first-blood/, accessed October 11, 2022.
3 Hoptak, “Nicholas Biddle.”
4 Hoptak, “Nicholas Biddle.”
5 Hoptak, “Nicholas Biddle.”
6 Hoptak, “Nicholas Biddle.”
7 It was not until the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and subsequent creation of the segregated United States Colored Troops (USCT) regiments that Black men were legally allowed to fight in the Civil War. See Wikipedia, s.v., “United States Colored Troops,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Colored_Troops#The_Confiscation_Act.
8 Michael Fellman, “Foreword,” in Ronald S. Coddington, Faces of the Civil War: An Album of Union Soldiers and Their Stories (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), x.
9 My emphasis. Fellman, “Foreword,” xiii.
10 Wikipedia, s.v., “Carte de Visite,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carte_de_visite, accessed October 11, 2022.
11 Fellman, “Foreword,” xi.
12 Fellman, “Foreword,” xi.
13 My emphasis. Isidora Stankovic, “Tintype Stares and Regal Airs: Civil War Portrait Photography and Soldier Memorialization,” Military Images 33, no. 4 (Autumn 2015): 55, https://www.jstor.org/stable/24864426.
14 Stankovic, “Tintype Stares and Regal Airs,” 54.
15 Stankovic, “Tintype Stares and Regal Airs,” 56.
16 John Stauffer, “Frederick Douglass, Photography, and Imagination,” in Traveling Traditions: Nineteenth-Century Cultural Concepts and Transatlantic Intellectual Networks, ed., Erik Redling (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, Inc., 2016), 115.
17 Maurice O. Wallace, “Framing the Black Soldier: Image, Uplift, and the Duplicity of Pictures,” in Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity, eds. Maurice O. Wallace and Shawn Michelle Smith (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2012), 245.
18 My emphasis. Wallace, “Framing the Black Soldier,” 246.

Works Cited

Fellman, Michael. “Foreword.” In Ronald S. Coddington, Faces of the Civil War: An Album of Union Soldiers and Their Stories, ix–xvi. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.

Hoptak, John D. “Nicholas Biddle: The Civil War’s First Blood,” HISTORYNET, October 3, 2008.

Stankovic, Isidora. “Tintype Stares and Regal Airs: Civil War Portrait Photography and Soldier Memorialization.” Military Images 33, no. 4 (Autumn 2015): 53–57. .

Stauffer, John. “Frederick Douglass, Photography, and Imagination.” In Traveling Traditions:
Nineteenth-Century Cultural Concepts and Transatlantic Intellectual Networks, edited by Erik Redling, 113–137. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, Inc., 2016.

Wallace, Maurice O. “Framing the Black Soldier: Image, Uplift, and the Duplicity of Pictures.” In Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity, edited by Maurice O. Wallace and Shawn Michelle Smith, 244–266. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2012.

Wikipedia, s.v., “Carte de Visite.”

Wikipedia, s.v., “Pennsylvania First Defenders.

Wikipedia, s.v., “United States Colored Troops.

Folk Art Herbarium Album


Spine view of the album titled News Cuttings

Spine of the album.

Manuscripts and Archives Processor at the Small Special Collections, Ellen Welch started the Spring season with a blog about the Herbarium Pictum album with botanical illustrations honoring Virginia Garden week. Here we are at the end of summer ready to share a new acquisition that is a 20th century garden album from England, acquired from the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society, titled Folk Art Herbarium (MSS 16573). It is an album with pressed flowers, leaf and shrub cuttings and hand drawn illustrations representing the life of the creator of the album. The artist is unknown and created the album from the years 1907 to 1913.
















Side view of the album showing a span of the pages.

“The combination of artwork and pressed flowers in these pages is spectacular,” according to Ellen Welch, Manuscripts and Archives Processor.

Flip through the pages that are filled from edge to edge with these colorfully illustrated drawings showing the gardens they planted, the houses they lived in, and the people they knew. Complimenting the artwork are handwritten personal captions from the artist. See this unique album and be inspired to start your own album to share with generations to come.

First page of album

The first page of the album is full of bright colors, interesting designs, pressed plant leaves, and comments.

Below are some images of the pages along with comments from the Small Special Collections staff upon seeing the album. Special thanks to Rose Oliveira, Accessioning Archivist, for suggesting this item to share and to Whitney Buccicione, Director of Technical Services, for encouraging blogs about our collections depicting flower gardens.

detailed insert of page with a pressed flower

“I love how this album tells a story of one person’s hobby and artistic talents in the 20th century. The combination of preservation techniques and striking amateur paintings stir the imagination about this individual who so clearly had a fondness for their home and gardens. It is remarkable how the colors and textures of these plants remain today. When we receive treasures such as this, I often wonder what the author would think about people still admiring their work a century later.” ~Barbara Hatcher, Acquisitions Specialist.

page of pressed flowers

“I am really drawn to the pressed flower page. The texture is intriguing and as a visual learner, getting to see the actual flowers and leaves is so cool! The bright colors of the next image are eye catching, but the pressed flowers make me want to reach out and touch them!” Penny White, Reference Research Librarian.


Greenhouse drawing

“This beautiful album reminded me that I recently procured a beautiful blank notebook to document my summer vegetable garden, and—while my garden is bursting with lush life and absolutely, wildly fecund here at the mid-point of the summer, my notebook is just as blank as the day I brought it home. In the seasons of life (and this life of mine, now), I might eventually fill the pages of my garden album and seeing this reminds me that doing so might bring joy beyond the seasonal outdoors gardens I make or the illustrative notes I might capture—it might live well beyond me and my time to bring joy to others in worlds and times I cannot even imagine.” Holly Robertson, Exhibits Coordinator.

Drawing of stone or rock house from Streatham, England with inhabitants on the back porch.

“I am the Accessioning Archivist, and I was dazzled when I saw this collection in our intake room. It had been sitting in there a while, a casualty of the pandemic and staff turnover, waiting for someone to move it along. It was such an interesting piece, I might say magical, with so much attention paid to each page. I was happy that our Processing Archivist could do a deeper dive to learn more about it.” Rose Oliveira.

Drawing of Miss Adlam sitting by the window in a house called Fairfield Shipley.

“I love this album so much! The bright colors and intricacy in the paintings make them feel like they are bursting with life. You can tell that this was a passion project for the artist, and I am so glad we have it here so that people can still appreciate it today and possibly be inspired to create artwork of their own.” Stacey Lavender, Digital Archivist.

Specific comments about the last flowers and plants from the garden in the Spring of 1907.

The artist depiction of the the last tulip and the last plant that came out of the front garden. Spring 1907

Portrait of the artist mother during a garden party.

Molly Schwartzburg, the Curator who purchased this collection for UVA, was thrilled to acquire this imaginative album created by a non-famous person.

The collection was brought in on September 21, 2017. Come in and see the whole album. There are more illustrated pages of gardens and activities of the artist.

Juneteenth 2022: The Nansemond County Training School 1924-1970

Juneteenth was originally established to commemorate June 19, 1865, when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas heard the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation and learned that they were free. However, Juneteenth is not the only freedom celebration in the United States. For more than two hundred years, Black Americans have selected various dates—including January 1, March 3, July 5, and August 1—for the day’s local significance to the abolition of the slave trade and slavery. With the recent creation of Juneteenth as a federal and state holiday, today we’re reflecting on education as one of many ways that African Americans manifested freedom in Virginia.
— Krystal Appiah, Curator of Virginia Collections

Nansemond County Training School was the first high school for African Americans in Suffolk, Virginia in 1924. We recently received the Margaret Stephenson Collection on Nansemond County Training School (MSS 16683) which documents the work of alumni from 1998 to 2007 to preserve the school and its history—which is also their history. They made a documentary film “Living Through Our Roots” about the school which is included in the collection. Alumni also held reunions to encourage former classmates to share their memories and ephemera in the film. I have enjoyed learning about the school and the people who attended it, and I feel enriched by their personal and uplifting perspectives on life after having lived through segregation. We would like to explore this new collection with you as a celebration of Juneteenth.
— Ellen Welch, Manuscripts and Archives processor

The Nansemond County Training School grew out of a one room building named Little Fork School located on the estate of William Jackson Copeland. According to former second grade teacher Paula Dozier, Copeland envisioned providing a building site to meet the educational and cultural needs of African American children before the turn of the century. The original school was destroyed by fire; its replacement was built in 1924 and become known as the Nansemond County Training School.

Photograph of red school building

Nansemond County Training School 1924-1970

The school, with seven classrooms and one auditorium, contained an elementary and secondary school, and was one of ten Rosenwald schools in Suffolk, Virginia. The Rosenwald schools were known for their standardized floor plans which were designed to let sunlight into the classrooms in the afternoon to save money on electricity and heating. Hannibal E. Howell was its first principal from 1919 to 1961, serving for 42 years. In 1964, the name was changed to Southwestern High School and, after the racial integration of county schools, became Southwestern Intermediate School. Today it is called Southwestern Elementary School and is located next to the Nansemond County Training School (which is currently used for storage).

Headshot portrait of man in suit

Hannibel E. Howell, Principal of Nansemond County Training School 1919-1961

Nansemond County Training School graduating class of 1931

1920’s Photograph of a 4-H Club meeting on the grounds of the new school. (Courtesy of Ruby Holland Walden)

Rosenwald schools were partially funded by Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932), an American businessman, philanthropist, and part owner of Sears and Roebuck Company. Rosenwald met Booker T. Washington in 1911, and Washington encouraged Rosenwald to address the poor state of African American education in the South. In 1917, Rosenwald incorporated the Julius Rosenwald Fund to help fund schools with inadequate buildings and teaching materials. The fund required matching support from the community, parents, and local government. Nansemond County Training School received $1,500 from the Rosenwald fund, $5,000 from African American families, and $11,500 in public money.

By the time the program ended in 1932, the Rosenwald Fund had supported nearly 5,000 schools, 217 teachers’ houses, and 163 shop buildings for the education of Black students in the rural South. The documentation in the National Register of Historic Places states that the “Nansemond County Training School is an excellent example of rural southern school architecture, and the combination of public and private money and monies from the Julius Rosenwald Fund show how strongly the community wanted to be able to educate its African American population in a modern school building.”

According to an article by Phyllis Speidell in the 2008 Virginia Pilot article “Raising Funds to Restore Historic School into Heritage Center,” “Many of the Rosenwald schools have disappeared or deteriorated, while the Nansemond County Training School stands strong because it was constructed by skilled Black stonemasons living in the area.”

Ruby Walden (1921-2020; Class of 1938). Her slogan: “what I can, I ought to do. With God’s help, I will do.”

One of the school’s alumni, Ruby Walden (1921-2020; Class of 1938), recalled the struggles of those who attended the school endured just to get basic school supplies. She carried a notebook full of court documents from a court case about the segregated schools—those papers detailed everything from the disparity in library space between Black and white schools to a list of patrons who had given money to help fight the case. In the Suffolk News Herald article “Former School’s Alumni Recall Past, Look to the Future” (October 1, 2013), news editor Tracy Agnew quotes Walden: “We’ve come a long way with a whole lot of struggles,” citing how Black children had to walk to school while white children were provided with buses for transport. Walden added, “I’m proud of the school, but I’m not proud of the fact we could have had a much better education.”

In another article “What She Could, She Did” by Jimmy Laroue in the Suffolk-News Herald (December 29, 2020), Walden is interviewed by Dr. Cassandra Newby Alexander in 2008 as part of an oral history of Virginia’s appellate court. It describes the active leadership of Ruby Walden:

“As part of her legacy, Walden worked with the Suffolk-Nansemond branch of the NAACP to help start a community center and the Nansemond Community Ballpark. She also helped organize the Holland-Holy-Neck Civic League, helping increase voter participation and helped start a Legal Aid Society in Suffolk. Walden also worked with the Literacy Council and spoke personally with the Reverend. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he visited Suffolk, an event she estimated about 20,000 people attended. Walden said, “integration was the law of the land,” so they were torn between integration and their lawsuit to equalize the schools. She recalled that the “whole state started out in ‘massive resistance,’ and then it went to ‘freedom of choice,’ and then ‘assignment.”

Photograph of woman holding framed portrait.

Mae Burke holds her 1958 graduation photo from the Nansemond Training School.

In thinking of her fond memories of the school, Nansemond graduate Mae Burke (Class of 1959) said, “We don’t want to live all our lives and not leave anything for future generations. We don’t want to live here and work here and raise our children here and have nothing to show for it. I think it is a good thing to tell the history.” She and Wardell Baker (Class of 1956), president of the Heritage Center Association, hope that the school can be restored, preserving a historic African American legacy in Suffolk. He said, “This is not an African American project—it’s for the entire area, the whole community.”

Despite the hurdles and inequities of a segregated school system and society, many of the Nansemond/Southwestern alumni achieved academic and professional success, graduating from universities including New York University and Norfolk Polytechnic State University (Norfolk State University) and having professional careers as teachers, doctors, politicians, and lawyers. Our work now is to share their legacy and preserve the story of this school.

This collection was recently donated to the Small Special Collections library by Margaret Stephenson, an architectural historian who collected materials from 1988-2007 to document the effort to preserve historic Nansemond County High School. Stephenson (1942-2014) was born in Richmond, Virginia to Lucille Long Bowles (originally of Severn, North Carolina and later of Como, North Carolina). She earned a master’s degree in architectural history from the University of Virginia and worked for the City of Raleigh’s Planning Department and the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Environmental Division. The Nansemond County Training School was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 in (Holland) Suffolk, Virginia.

A Curator’s Wunderkammer: A Decade of Collecting for UVA

On the occasion of his retirement—after a decade of curatorial work at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library—David R. Whitesell departs the University of Virginia Library having made significant contributions to the collection.

Upon his arrival in 2012, David brought with him deep expertise and experience in acquisitions, bibliography, cataloging, and curation from prestigious institutions, as well as essential knowledge of the rare book and manuscript trade. The Library has benefited from David’s work and has grown in extraordinary ways, all to the betterment of teaching and research. 

Our current exhibition, A Curator’s Wunderkammer: A Decade of Collecting for the University of Virginia (on view in the First Floor Gallery of Harrison/Small through July 9, 2022) celebrates and chronicles the stories behind David’s selected acquisitions, opening the door to an insider’s perspective on the work of a curator—where curiosity is always a key to success.

Celebrating a decade’s worth of acquisitions by Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library curator David R. Whitesell on the eve of his retirement: a Wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities that illuminates UVA’s current collecting policy, the ins and outs of the unpredictable and highly competitive acquisitions process, and how curators add value to the collection, one acquisition at a time.

Since 2012 I have shared with curatorial colleagues the privilege of augmenting UVA’s truly remarkable rare book and manuscript holdings. My remit has been primarily pre-1900 materials in all formats. As I prepare to hand this responsibility to a new curator, it seems an opportune time to reflect on a decade’s worth of acquisitions. In this exhibition I offer a small selection with comments intended to illuminate UVA’s current collecting policy, the ins and outs of the unpredictable and highly competitive acquisitions process, and how curators add value to the collection, one acquisition at a time.

Even with a healthy budget, UVA curators can acquire only a tiny fraction of the material appropriate for UVA’s diverse research and teaching needs. No precise count is possible, but my purchases for UVA total approximately 15,000 items; the gifts I have helped bring in may exceed 100,000 items. This constitutes less than 2% of a collection that has been abuilding for two centuries. Still, I hope to show that the value I have added is more than negligible, even if ultimately unquantifiable.

Were my acquisitions arrayed in one massive display, they would likely perplex the beholder by their apparent randomness—more akin to a Wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities, than a considered, curated selection—until placed within the larger context of UVA’s collection. This is inevitable given the capricious process by which we acquire rare, often unique, materials—a process dependent not only on funding, but especially on knowledge, considered selection, hard work, timing (from lightning response to extreme patience), relationships, market savvy, and luck.

The small sampling on display in the exhibition has been ruthlessly pared by omitting gifts and items representing many areas in which I have collected. Despite having some topical and linear arrangement, it remains more a Wunderkammer than a coherent whole. I encourage you, then, to explore this exhibition in your own way, engaging with those curiosities which attract your gaze and, I hope, some that do not. If I have done the job well, these disparate objects will generate serendipitous connections, insights, and meanings for you, for whom we assemble our collections.

View the full exhibition catalog online here

Every day—now through mid-June—we’ll highlight one object from A Curator’s Wunderkammer on our social media channels. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram!

The exhibition will be on view through July 9, 2022 in the First Floor Gallery of Harrison/Small.


Herbarium Pictum: 2022 Historic Garden Week in Virginia

Each April, we celebrate Historic Garden Week in Virginia. Next week—April 23-30, 2022—private landscapes, public gardens, and historic sites across Virginia will offer tours showcasing our beautiful state at the peak of spring.

In this post by Manuscripts and Archives Processor Ellen Welch, you’ll enjoy just a sampling of images from our collection, Herbarium Pictum (MSS 38-618) which contains five volumes of illustrated watercolors of flowers, plants, fungi, and trees painted by Erdmann Christianus Seyffert, 1743-1757. Special thanks to Heather Moore Riser for suggesting this collection and Whitney Buccicone for the blog idea.

The illustrations are numbered and labeled with their scientific (Latin and Greek) names. The end of volume five includes an index with the names and classifications from Carl Linneaeus (1707-1778), a Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician who formalized binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. The first part of the name, the generic name, identifies the genus to which the species belongs, and the second part is the specific name of the species. The first letter of the generic name is capitalized, and the species is in lowercase. Both names are italicized. The descriptions of the plants have been added to this blog for further identification but are not part of the collection. These watercolor illustrations painted so long ago are beautifully detailed and it is our privilege to share them with you.

The five volumes of Herbarium Pictum—each in a grey paper wrapper with handwritten lettering on the spines.

Herbarium Pictum (MSS 38-618): five volumes of illustrated watercolors of flowers, plants, fungi, and trees painted by Erdmann Christianus Seyffert, 1743-1757.

Aloe americana folio triangula maculoso flore

Aloe americana folio triangula maculoso flore


Aloe americana folio triangula maculoso flore

Aloe, also written Aloë, is a genus (Asphodelacea) containing over 560 species of flowering succulent plants. The most widely known species is Aloe vera, or “true aloe” which is known for healing wounds and treating skin problems.  It is native to tropical and southern Africa, Madagascar, Jordan, and the Arabian Peninsula, as well as various islands in the Indian Ocean.



Aster minensis lyngeneora Aster minensis lyngeneora (Greek and Latin name for Star)

According to one version in Greek mythology, the aster was created by the tears of the Greek goddess, Astraea, at seeing violence on earth. She became upset and asked to be turned into a star. From the heavens, she saw what happened to earth and wept. Her tears fell to the ground and turned into star-shaped flowers. For this reason, asters were named after her. Asters provide habitat and late-season food for pollinators.


Lavatera trimestris 

Lavatera, a native flower of Spain and Syria, is in the family Malvaceae and is a cousin of hibiscus and hollyhock. It was named after 17th century Swiss botanist, J. R. Lavatera. It was referred to as Spanish Summer Mallow.





Amaranthus caudatusAmaranthus caudatus 

Also called Love-lies-bleeding, Tassell flower, and Velvet flower. Many parts of the plant, including the leaves and seeds, are edible, and are used as a source of food in India and South America. In the Victorian language of flowers, Love-lies-bleeding means hopeless love.




Impatiens balsamina Impatiens balsamina

Known also as Balsam, Garden balsam, Rose balsam, Touch-me-not or Spotted snapweed, Impatiens is a species of plant native to India and Myanmar. Juice from the leaves is used to treat warts, snakebites, rheumatism, fractures, and other ailments.




Amaryllis formosissima hexandria Amaryllis formosissima hexandria  

First known in Europe in 1593, Amaryllis are from South America according to Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778).






Hyacinthus orientalus Hyacinthus orientalus 

Hyacinthus are native to Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Israel. In the 16th century they became very popular and were imported to many European countries. The first known mention of Hyacinth is in Homer’s Iliad which dates to approximately 762 BCE.




Cereus cactus grandiflorus Cereus cactus grandiflorus

Grandiflorus means “large flowered”in Latin. Carl Linnaeus described this cactus in 1753 as the largest flowered species of cacti known. It is also called Queen of the Night.





Brassica oleraceaBrassica oleracea

Brassica oleracea is a plant species that includes many common cultivars, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, collard greens, Savoy cabbage, kohlrabi, and gai lan.





Cichorium intybusCichorium intybus

Known as chicory, it is a woody, perennial herbaceous plant of the daisy family Asteraceae, featuring bright blue flowers. It can be used as a coffee substitute and food additive.





Datura fastuosa (Devil’s Trumpet)Datura fastuosa (Devil’s Trumpet)

Datura is a poisonous, vespertine-flowering plant belonging to the family Solanacea.  Also called thornapples, jimsonweeds, devil trumpets, moonflower, devil’s weed, and hell’s bells, they have psychoactive properties, and can cause arrhythmias, fever, hallucinations, psychoses, and even death if taken internally. It has been associated with witchcraft in the western world.



Papaver somniferumPapaver somniferum

Papaver somniferum, commonly known as the opium poppy or breadseed poppy. It probably originated in the eastern Mediterranean region but is now naturalized across much of Europe and Asia.





Tulipae gesnerianae

Tulipae gesnerianae

Tulipa gesneriana, also known as the Didier’s tulip or Garden tulip, is a species of plant in the lily family. It is believed to have originated in Turkey although tulips are the national flower of Holland.





Tropaeoli minerisTropaeoli mineris

A species of flowering plant in the family Tropaeolacea, originating in the Andes from Bolivia north to Colombia. The current genus name Tropaeolum, coined by Carl Linnaeus, meaning “little trophy”(in Latin), and borrowed from Ancient Greek “trophy.”




Agaricus mucariusAgaricus mucarius

Bright red fly agaric mushroom, also known as Amanita muscaria, from northern Europe and Asia.  It can contain the psychoactive chemical compound muscarine. “No mushroom has gathered unto it more folklore and mythology than this white-spotted fairytale fungus. It may well be that Lewis Carrol had experienced the hallucinatory effects of Amanita muscaria. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice eats part of one side of a mushroom and grows shorter; a piece from the other side would make her taller.” Agaricus is a remedy for twitches, jerks, tics, cramps, and convulsions.

Morchella crassipes persoon (Thick-footed morel)Morchella crassipes persoon (Thick-footed morel)

A morel with a conic fertile portion having deep and irregular pits. The generic name Morchella is said to come from “morchel,” an old German word meaning “mushroom.” Morels are edible mushrooms appreciated worldwide for their savory flavor. They have also been used in medicines for centuries.



Thelephora hirsuta persoonThelephora hirsuta persoon

Fruit bodies of this mushroom are leathery, usually brownish at maturity, and range in shape from coral-like tufts to having distinct caps. Almost all species in the genus are thought to be inedible.





Helvella infula persoonHelvella infula persoon

Helvella is an ascomycete fungus from the genus Gyromitra which is widely distributed across Europe and North America. It normally fruits in sandy soils under coniferous trees in spring and early summer. The mushroom is an irregular brain-shaped cap that is dark brown in color. It can be poisonous, if eaten raw or not cooked properly.



Morchella patula persoonMorchella patula persoon

Morchella is a type of morel. Morels are a feature of many cuisines. Their unique flavor is prized by chefs worldwide. They have many species names which have been disputed for over a century.





Juniperus communis (tree)Juniperus communis (tree)

The common juniper is a species of small tree or shrub in the cypress (Cupressaceae) family. This evergreen conifer has the largest geographical range of any woody plant. The cones are used to flavor certain beers and gin. The word “gin” derives from an Old French word meaning “juniper.” The berries are also used in the ales of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Latvia. They have been used as medicine by many cultures including the Navajo people.







Picketing and Petitioning: Desegregation at the University of Virginia and Charlottesville Virginia in the 1960’s

This post, in celebration of Black History Month, is contributed by Archives and Manuscripts Processor Ellen Welch in the Small Special Collections Library:

While processing a new collection—the Papers of Dr. Allison Burnett (MSS 16656), a biology professor and civil rights activist at the University of Virginia in the 1950s—I found a folder full of one to two page petitions signed by UVA faculty, staff, and students encouraging the boycott of the University Theater and other Charlottesville Businesses that denied admittance to Black students, faculty, and community members. The petitions piqued my interest and sent me on a journey where I caught a glimpse of what it might be like to be a Black student at UVA in the 1950s and 1960s, during the early years of desegregation. My encounter with this collection made me want to amplify the lived experiences documented in these papers and to highlight these students who endured so much pain at our University yet ultimately became successful in their careers.

Folder of University Theatre boycott petitions

The folder of petitions from the Papers of Dr. Allison Burnett (MSS 16656) signed by UVA student and faculty and Charlottesville citizens pledging to boycott the University Theater.


Segregation, then Separate but Equal at UVA In October 1959, Edgar F. Shannon became President of the University of Virginia following the retirement of President Colgate Darden. Darden’s administration presided over the University in the tumultuous years following the 1954 United States Supreme Court ruling against segregation in schools. As noted in Trailblazing Against Tradition: The Public History of Desegregation at the University of Virginia in 1955-75, Shannon’s administration “inherited and conformed to Darden’s fear that involvement and policies too clearly or loudly spoken would create sharp criticism and angry turbulence throughout the state and in turn it would arrest the growth of the University, while bringing them adverse publicity.” According to local newspaper articles, President Darden supported an equal but separate “system of private education for the whites while maintaining schools for [Black students].”

Newspaper clipping: Darden Asks Areas to Adopt Dual Education System

Segregation, then Separate but Equal at UVA
In October 1959, Edgar F. Shannon became President of the University of Virginia following the retirement of President Colgate Darden. Darden’s administration presided over the University in the tumultuous years following the 1954 United States Supreme Court ruling against segregation in schools. As noted in Trailblazing Against Tradition: The Public History of Desegregation at the University of Virginia in 1955-75, Shannon’s administration “inherited and conformed to Darden’s fear that involvement and policies too clearly or loudly spoken would create sharp criticism and angry turbulence throughout the state and in turn it would arrest the growth of the University, while bringing them adverse publicity.”[1] According to local newspaper articles, President Darden supported an equal but separate “system of private education for the whites while maintaining schools for [Black students].”[2]

At first, Shannon—like Darden—did not support the activities of the civil rights movement at the University. In 1959, President Shannon corresponded with William L. Duren, Jr., Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, about the University admissions policy, explaining: “At present we are prevented from admitting a [Black student] to the College solely because he is a [Black student].”

He closed this letter, admitting, “I feel that I am not empowered to admit a qualified [Black student] without further instruction from the Board.”[3]

Typed letter from Edgar Shannon to Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences William Duren, November 19, 1959.

Letter from Edgar Shannon to Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences William Duren, November 19, 1959.

Integration at the University

The University’s admissions policy made it very difficult for Black students to attend any part of the University, especially the College of Arts and Sciences. Gregory Hayes Swanson LL. B, A.B., won a lawsuit against the University for admission and became the first Black student to attend UVA in 1950. As noted by Encyclopedia Virginia, although Swanson’s legal victory allowed him admittance to the law school, his time at the University was both separate and unequal:

“Swanson was not permitted to partake in all aspects of university life. He was barred from living on Grounds …and social activities were not open to him. When he wrote to university president Colgate Darden and asked if he could attend any of the “private” dance societies that were, in Swanson’s words, “an integral part of the activity of the University,” he was denied the right. Darden’s response was that the dance societies as well as other organizations were “private” and therefore open only to members. According to University of Virginia Research Archivist, Ervin L. Jordan Jr., Swanson left the school after completing only one year “due to … an overwhelming climate of racial hostility and harassment.”

Gregory H. Swanson consults with Assistant Law Dean Charles Woltz after registration at UVA on Sept. 15, 1950. University of Virginia Visual History Collection, Small Special Collections Library.

As Shannon’s term as president began in 1959 and 1960, Black students endured similar racial slurs and barriers that Swanson experienced a decade earlier. Some Black students left the University in frustration while others were determined to pursue change. Our look at the University Theatre petition highlights the activism of three Black students:

Amos Leroy “Roy” Willis

Amos Leroy “Roy” Willis challenged the University’s policy and was quietly admitted into the College of Arts in Sciences in 1960; he also was the first Black student to live on the Lawn (1961-62). He graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Harvard University. He is currently the CEO of Roy Willis and Associates Inc., a California-based real estate development consulting firm that is deeply intertwined with social justice programs.

Dr. Wesley L. Harris

Dr. Wesley L. Harris (1941-present) graduated from the University of Virginia in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering. He was the first man—Black or white—to complete the newly established Engineering Honors Program; the first Black student to join the Jefferson Literary & Debating Society; and the second Black student to live on the Lawn in 1964. Following UVA, Harris attended Princeton University, graduating with a master’s degree in Aerospace and Mechanical Sciences in 1966, and completed a doctorate in 1968. He is an American physicist currently the C.S. Draper Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has been awarded honorary doctorates by Milwaukee School of Engineering, Lane College and Old Dominion University.

Dr. Virginius Bray Thornton III (1934-2015) was the first Black graduate student to enroll in a doctoral program in History at the University; he was also a civil rights leader who, in 1960 led 140 students in a sit-down strike at the segregated Petersburg Public Library and, in 1961, led the protest at UVA’s University Theater. Dr. Thornton was a professor for over 30 years at the Massachusetts Bay Community College where he taught American, Black, and Women’s History.


Student Activists

Willis, Harris, and Thornton were active in the Charlottesville Albemarle Virginia Council on Human Relations, which promoted interracial equality in Charlottesville and the University. Harris was Council chair and invited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to speak at Old Cabell Hall to an audience of 900 people in 1963. As activists both at the University and in the Charlottesville community, they picketed local establishments including the University Theater, Buddy’s Restaurant, and the Holiday Inn because these businesses refused to admit Black people.

Virginius Thornton picketing in front of the University Theater in March 1961.

The 1961 incident that prompted petitions urging the Boycott of UVA’s University Theatre are documented in Thomas M. Hanna’s 2007 thesis: “Shut It Down, Open It Up: A History of the New Left at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville”:

“On March 1, 1961, four black students, supported by twenty-five white students, faculty members, including Dr. Allison L. Burnett, an assistant professor of biology, attempted to buy tickets from the University Theatre. They were denied entrance by theatre manager, John W. Kase, who told the group that he could not admit them under state law because the theatre had no balcony to allow for segregation.”

Petitions signed by UVA faculty committing to boycott the University Theater for refusing to admit Black students in March 1961. The first two signatures on the petition are from Thomas T. Hammond and Paul M. Gaston, long-serving UVA History professors and civil rights activists in Charlottesville.

The attempted integration of the theatre outraged the editor-in-chief Junius R. Fishburne of the University of Virginia student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily. Fishburne unwisely used his editorial power to attack the activists and their attempts to integrate the theatre; according to “Shut It Down, Open It Up,” the editorial only publicized the incident and prompted an inundation of letters for and against segregation:

“The student-faculty group began a petition calling for a boycott of the University Theatre until it opened its doors to Black students. Spurred on by Burnett, the petition garnered over 600 signatures by April 14 and was headed by Professor Dumas Malone, the Thomas Jefferson Scholar at the University. The petition was even sent to United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, an alumnus of the university law school, for his signature, but it is unclear if he ever received or responded to it.”

The campaign to integrate the Theatre languished as its management refused the activists’ demand and student interest in the boycott declined. Concerned students and faculty members turned to the University for recognition of the Jefferson Chapter of the Virginia Council on Human Relations. During the next two years, these activists joined with the city to begin a campaign for comprehensive desegregation of Charlottesville’s businesses and public accommodations.

Informal black and white photograph

Young Paul Gaston in his office

UVA Faculty Activists: Paul M. Gaston and Thomas Taylor Hammond
The petition against the University theater was signed by Paul M. Gaston, a Professor of History at the University of Virginia for 40 years (1957-1997), who studied the history of the American South as well as American Civil Rights. As a former President of the Southern Regional Council, he was well known in the Charlottesville area during the 1960s for his Civil Rights activism. Born in Fairhope, Alabama, he arrived in Charlottesville in the fall of 1957 as a junior instructor of history at UVA. He was involved in several demonstrations, most famously the 1963 sit-ins at Buddy’s Restaurant, which is remembered as one of the pivotal events leading to the desegregation of the Charlottesville area. Gaston published several books and articles on Civil Rights and affirmative action, as well as the history of the United States South. He died on June 14, 2019.

The petition against the University Theater was also signed by Thomas Taylor Hammond (1920-1993), a distinguished professor of history emeritus of the University of Virginia (1949-1991), who specialized in Russian and Slavic studies and was an active civil rights advocate. Encouraged by University of Virginia scholar, Dumas Malone, Hammond took the teaching position at the University of Virginia and for a period of 42 years, taught courses on Soviet history and Soviet foreign policy. According to the Papers of Thomas T. Hammond finding aid, “Hammond was a force for advancing racial integration” during the civil rights period in the 1950’s and 1960’s in Charlottesville, Virginia.”

Thomas Taylor Hammond

With Paul Gaston, Hammond founded the Martin Luther King Chapter of the Council on Human Relations to recruit Black students and faculty and to eliminate discrimination. Hammond also served as president of the Charlottesville Chapter of the Council on Human Relations and as a member of the Executive Committee of the local branch of the NAACP, promoting social justice in local schools, parks, and other facilities. Thomas Hammond died on February 11, 1993.

[1] http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug03/omara-alwala/Harrison/uvasixties.html

[2] President Papers (RG-2/1/2.641). Subseries 1 Box 15. Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

[3] President Papers (RG-2/1/2.641). Subseries 1 Box 5. Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

Additional Sources: 
Papers of Dr. Allison Burnett Civil Rights (MSS 16656). Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia Library.

President Papers RG-2/1/2.641 Subseries 1 Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library University of Virginia.

Hanna, Thomas M. “Shut It Down, Open It Up: A History of the New Left at the
University of Virginia, Charlottesville” Thesis Virginia Commonwealth University 2007


An Epoch of Change. A Timeline of the University 1955-1975. The Sixties

The Road to Desegregation: The University in the 1960’s” Jackson, NAACP, and Swanson.

Addison, Dan “First on the Lawn: University Honors Roy WillisVirginia Magazine, University of Virginia Alumni Association.

Wesley L. Harris” Wikipedia.

Paul M. Gaston.” Wikipedia.

In Memoriam: Historian Paul Gaston, Early Civil Rights ActivistUVA Today. June 18, 2019

A Guide to the papers of Thomas T. Hammond. Virginia Heritage.

Thomas Taylor Hammond” Wikidata.

Rare Book Cataloging Internship – Summer 2022

The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections is thrilled to announce an internship for the Summer of 2022.

Under the guidance of the Senior Special Collections Cataloging Librarian, the Rare Books Cataloging Intern will catalog a recent major acquisition of more than 400 Chinese, Japanese, and Korean rare books that comprise a focus on East Asian book history. This position plays an integral part in the discovery and access to these materials.

The intern will gain experience and knowledge in:

  • Cataloging standards (specifically DCRM(b), RDA, and AACR2) and the application of these for rare materials.
  • Knowledge of the care and handling of rare materials

This position reports to the Senior Special Collections Cataloging Librarian and will work closely with the Curator responsible for acquiring this collection. The intern will join in on department and unit meetings and participate in discussions therein. During one week of the internship, Rare Book School is graciously providing free tuition for the intern to attend the course, “The History of the Book in China” taught by Soren Edgren.

This position requires an on-campus presence while cataloging is being completed. The internship begins May 23rd and will last until August 12th (end date is negotiable). A virtual internship is possible after cataloging is complete.

Our ideal candidate is currently enrolled in a Masters’ or PhD program with a focus in library science or Chinese history. We are looking for someone with an interest in special collections cataloging and who plans on pursuing this as a career.

The full details are below:

  • Title: Rare Books Cataloging Intern, Summer 2022
  • Duration: 12 weeks (40 hours/week) with possibility for extension
  • Salary: $25/Hour
  • Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Application deadline: March 1st, 2022
  • Schedule: Monday through Friday, 8 am -5 pm


  • Bibliographic knowledge of Chinese, Japanese and Korean books
  • Familiarity with MARC, DCRMB, LC Classification and subject headings, OCLC Connexion, and  SirsiDynix Workflows
  • Cataloging background with focus in special collections cataloging preferred
  • Reading knowledge of Chinese language preferred.
  • Familiarity with Chinese history and culture, especially history and physical description of books

To apply:

Please submit your application by March 15th.

  1. Go to https://uva.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/UVAJobs
  2. Scroll down to “Job Type” on the left hand column, select “Temporary”
  3. Select Temporary Administrative Pool (Evergreen, R0000013), click “Apply”
    1. Please note that you will not see a specific temporary position for this position title but specify
  4. You will be prompted to Sign In
  5. New Users: Select Create Account
    1. Enter your email address and create a password. IMPORTANT: Please use a personal email address, you WILL NOT be able to change your email once you create an account even if your email address changes. We recommend not using a school or work email account.
    2. Select create account.

Completing Temp Application:

IMPORTANT: You will only have one chance to submit an application to a position. Please make sure everything is filled out thoroughly and to the best of your knowledge. You will not be able to go back and edit your application for a posting you have applied to.

  1. For this position, you will need to submit one document that contains a brief cover letter (no more than one page) and a resume/CV. Please include the name of this position on the first paragraph of this document.
    1. The application will pull key information from the uploaded document to be automatically filled in. However, make sure to double check that the information is entered correctly and thoroughly as you will not be able to go back and edit the application for this specific posting. It is not required to submit a resume/CV.
    2. Click ‘Next’
  2. My Information
    1. Note: The red asterisks are required information.
    2. Work Experience/Education/Resume
      1. You will not have a chance to update this information once you apply to this position. Make sure you have filled out everything thoroughly and to the best of your knowledge.
      2. Enter your work experience from the past few years. Make sure to describe your experience and skillsets with the position. Select add as needed for more positions.
    3. Education
      1. Resume/CV: option to upload a file
      2. Select Next
  3. Application Questions
    1. Additional Application Questions: This information is required, please fill out all the questions thoroughly and to the best of your knowledge.  When giving references, do not use friends or family members.
  4. Voluntary Disclosures
  5. Self-Identify
  6. Review
    1. Note: This is your last chance before submitting to make any changes to the application for this posting.

Next steps:

  1. A HR representative will contact you to confirm which position you applied for.
  2. If you are selected for the first round of interviews, you will be contacted by the Senior Rare Books Cataloging Librarian.

“Flaming Angel”: Introducing the Papers of Petra Vogt

This week we are pleased to present a guest post by English PhD student Annyston Pennington, who works as a curatorial assistant here in Special Collections. Annyston assists with many incoming collections, and we asked them to share their perspective on this fantastic new acquisition after spending several hours unpacking and inventorying its delicate contents. Thanks, Annyston!

Black and white double-exposed photograph with double exposure of a blonde woman's face in profile. She is wearing a jewelled choker and bracelets, and holding up her left thumb.

Mylar photograph of Petra Vogt by Ira Cohen, ca. 1970-1979. As a performance artist, Vogt contributed to Cohen’s body of work not as a passive subject but as a multimedia collaborator. MSS 16480, Box 6.2-3

Cracking open a binder of photographs, you meet a cool gaze, her sleek center-part and graphic eye-liner placing the portrait somewhere between 1970s fashion editorials and the beauty influencers of your Instagram feed. Her image emerges amid snapshots of skulls and children on the streets of Kathmandu, as if the world were a stage set for the dark, the fanciful, and the extreme. She is the proto-goth girl of your dreams. Within this recently acquired collection, Petra Vogt peers out, unflinching, from a time at once alien to and rhymed with our own.

A round graphic in black pen and ink with red, green, yellow, and brown additions and content below, on white paper.

Astrological chart for Petra Vogt by Alden Taylor Mann, 1974. A detailed manuscript explanation of Vogt’s alignments accompanies the chart. MSS 16480, Box 4.6

The personal archive of Petra Vogt, which covers the years 1966-1978 and was acquired during the summer of 2020, is now processed and prepared for researchers to explore. The UVA Library boasts impressive holdings in the poetry and poetics that arose in the post-war era, particularly in the voluminous Marvin Tatum Collection of Contemporary Literature. Vogt’s papers, however, shed new light on the Beat Generation from the perspective of a multidisciplinary, female interlocutor.

Vogt came of age in Berlin, Germany, developing an artistic and spiritual practice in a world effulgent with the violence, transnational movement, and creative experimentation that mark our contemporary understanding of the twentieth century. In 1962, Vogt joined The Living Theatre, an experimental theatre company, based in New York City, that performed for both American and international audiences. While touring in the United States with The Living Theatre for their performance of “Paradise Now,” Vogt met poet, photographer, and publisher Ira Cohen. One might say, the rest is history, but the papers of Petra Vogt communicate less a traceable narrative than they provide a tantalizing glimpse into the life and mind of an unsung contributor to late-Modernist art.

A page of a magazine, with the left margin torn, and a black and white photograph of a Black man with his mouth open wide, holding a white woman who is upside down with her mouth wide open, accompanied by a column of text on the right.

Magazine clipping featuring review of The Living Theatre’s production of “Paradise Now,” 1969. Petra Vogt performed in the 1968 productions of this play, which Ira Cohen attended. MSS 16480, Box 5.1

In the early 1970s, Vogt immigrated with Cohen to Nepal, where the pair linked up with other creatives and wanderers, such as Nepalese hippies Jimmy Thapa (born Saraj Prakash Thapa), Trilochan Shrestha, and other notable visitors to “Freak Street,” or Jhocchen Tole, a street in Kathmandu dubbed so for its hippie population. While in Nepal, Vogt expanded her artistic horizons from performance art into literature, visual art, and print material. While often footnoted as a “muse” for Cohen, Petra Vogt was, undoubtedly, a maker. 

A hardcover book with black endpapers lies open on a surface, open to the title page. The verso is a deep purple, and the recto holds the title information and a black and white photographic image of a man.

Title spread from  “Poems from the Cosmic Crypt,” a Bardo Matrix title, which features black and white illustrations by Vogt, 1976. Cataloging in process: record XX(8890369.1)

A hardcover book with black endpapers is open on a table. It is open to a page spread with a mounted print of a drawing on the verso, and a narrow column of verse on the recto.

An interior page spread from “Tales from the Cosmic Crypt.”


In her eleven-box archive, drawings, paintings, and collages by Vogt mingle with hand-made scrapbooks and artists’ books, modified commercial texts, and Bardo Matrix Press woodblock prints. In addition to manuscript items, Vogt’s archive includes select Bardo Matrix titles, such as Poems from the Cosmic Crypt, for which she provided pen illustrations to accompany Cohen’s poetry.

A single sheet of white paper with a printed street map in English in black ink on a pink background, with the title "Patan City" in bright blue ink.

Map of “Patan City,” featuring the Darbar Square area, in a tourist brochure for Patan, 1974. “Freak Street,” a hub for artists and hippies during Vogt’s time, falls south of Darbar Square. MSS 16480, Box 5.13

Vogt and Cohen’s lives in Nepal are documented in romantic grayscale and occasional lush color, if the term “document” can encompass both Cohen’s hallucinogenic Mylar photographs and snapshots of the local community’s domestic, public, and funerary rituals. Her papers are aesthetically shocking, even dark, with images of death and the occult filling almost every folder. But human intimacy and tenderness peek through: affectionate notes penned on the backs of polaroids; postcards conveying enigmatic epigrams and well-wishes; hand-made scrapbooks of jewel tone tissue paper hold pages self-adhered with silver leaf; torn-out magazine pages of 70s fashion and fetish gear; and even casual group portraits (with one shot guest-starring Mick Jagger). Candid and staged, curated and altered, Vogt’s archive pays homage to the oddity and beauty of the bohemian everyday, be it newspaper clippings, lotka paper prints, or pictures of Nepalese market stalls. In these papers, we see her artistic impulse to highlight the sensuality latent in such materials.

Petra Vogt’s presence persists, radiant, in her papers. The eccentricity of her biography alone makes the material worth exploring, but it is the collision of the ephemera of an individual life, lived on the outskirts and in constant motion, with the residue of conflicting identities and politics that produces a collection greater than the sum of its parts.

The text side of a commercial postcard with rippled edges, heavily soiled. Printed text is collaged onto the background, "Flaming angel / Remember that when we walk". The address is in violet ink and there are stamps.

Postcard addressed to Vogt in India, sent care of Banana Joes, 1978. Features Ira Cohen’s glyph in upper-center and reads “Flaming Angel Remember that when we walk” in cut-out print text. MSS 16480 Box 5.9

Note: Thank you to archival processor Sharon Defibaugh of Special Collections Technical Services, who processed and housed the collection and created the magnificent finding aid, all during a pandemic. To see more of the collection, we encourage you to visit our reading room or submit a reference request.