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.

Keeping Score: The 1981-1982 Virginia Cavaliers Men’s Basketball Team

We are very excited to share some photographs of the 1981-1982 Virginia Cavaliers Men’s basketball team transferred from the University’s Athletic department and now housed in our Small Special Collections Library. This blog post was contributed by Ellen Welch (Manuscripts and Archives Processor at the Small Special Collections Library) and her husband, Peter Welch (University of Virginia Library Information Technology Department). Both Ellen and Peter are longtime fans of UVA basketball and have attended games since the 1970s!

A contact sheet of black and white photographs from the basketball game.

A contact sheet of photographs from the December 2, 1981 UVA game against Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. There are thousands of photographs of UVA sports, events, and life from 1965 – 1973 in the photographic files of University photographer Dave Skinner / University of Virginia Printing Services Photograph File and Index (RG-5/7/2.762).

The 1981–82 University of Virginia Cavaliers Men’s basketball team—members of the Division 1 ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference)—held the top seed in the Mideast Region of the 48-team NCAA Tournament (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and made it to the Sweet Sixteen until they were upset by just two points, losing to the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB). The Mideast bracket followed with UAB losing to Louisville 75-68 and Georgetown beating Louisville 50-46. In the finals of the tournament, Georgetown lost 63-62 against UVA’s longtime rival, Dean Smith’s University of North Carolina Tar Heels. Many basketball players who later rose to national prominence were introduced that year, including UVA’s Ralph Sampson, who played for the University from 1979-1983 before going professional in the National Basketball Association (NBA); North Carolina Tar Heel and Los Angeles Laker James Worthy (“Big Game James”); Sam Perkins; and one of the greatest athletes of all time, Michael Jordan.

In the 1981-82 NCAA tournament, Curry Kirkpatrick’s article “Sweet 16 and the 32 Who Missed” describes Virginia’s win over Tennessee to get into the round of sixteen:

…Give the Cavaliers a D—D for the desire of Othell Wilson, who played on one leg and with one painful thigh bruise, and D for the determination of Ricky Stokes, who drilled the two winning free throws in Virginia’s 54-51 escape in Indianapolis from the mechanical clutches of Tennessee. Oh yes, and add another D for Ralph Sampson’s defense on Dale Ellis, who shot up the Cavaliers until Sampson shut him down. Jeff Jones suggested the move in the huddle and what it did was disrupt the Tennessee tempo—”He made Dale pull the string,” said Vol Coach Don DeVoe—wipe out a 10-point deficit and give control of the game to the Cavs. …Four straight Sampson buckets, a 51-51 tie and shortly a Virginia freeze. Stokes got a high-five from Wilson just before he went to the line for his crucial free throws.

Ricky Stokes (who clocked in at a height of 5’ 10) said, “Ralph and I have the same initials, I can use his monogrammed handkerchiefs, but not his shirts.” Ralph Sampson was the tallest player on the team (7′ 4).

The 1981-82 team had several freshman recruits—including Jimmy Miller, Tim Mullen, Dan Merrifield, and Kenny Johnson—because Jeff Lamp, Lee Raker, and Terry Gates had graduated. Mullen and Miller were solid role players for the next four years. The surprise player that season was walk-on Kenton Edelin (#30) who played good defense off the bench as a backup forward and center behind basketball star Sampson. Edelin went on to be a good role player the next two years and eventually played in the NBA. Jeff Jones was the starting point guard with Ricky Stokes backing him up and Othell Wilson was the other starting guard. They all played good defense and good team basketball. Tim Mullen started every game that year as a freshman. Craig Robinson was the other starter at forward. They won 30 games but had a disappointing loss in the NCAA tournament to UAB in the 2nd round. They had to play UAB on their home court at Birmingham so that didn’t help. Ralph Sampson averaged 15 points per game that season, which is high scoring, but only taps the potential for a guy who could dominate the game. He scored up to 30 points when he played in the NBA. Sampson declared for the NBA draft after the 1981-1982 season but ultimately decided to return for one more season with the Cavaliers. His final season was the last before the institution of the shot clock rule which kept teams from unfairly holding the ball until the last second of the game. The 3-point shot was also introduced that year in ACC games. The next year—their first year after Sampson had graduated—UVA made it to the Final Four. Go figure? Great things were to come for the Virginia Cavaliers, particularly winning the NCAA tournament in 2019 under coach Tony Bennett.

Black and white action shot photographs from contact sheet of Othell Wilson and Jim Miller shooting baskets in the game.

Left: Othell Wilson (#11) goes for a dunk with freshman forward Jim Miller(#4) assisting on the shot. Right: Wilson makes another shot. Two points! From the University of Virginia Printing Services Photograph File and Index (RG-5/7/2.762).

Shown here are scenes from a regular season game on December 2, 1981 where the UVA Wahoos (formally called the Cavaliers, but familiarly called the “Wahoos” or “Hoos”) defeated Randolph-Macon in Ashland, Virginia 82-50. The Cavaliers were coached by Terry Holland with assistant coaches Craig Littlepage and Jim Larranaga. It was star player Ralph Sampson’s sophomore year although he was not in the lineup for this game. High scorers of the 1981-82 season were Ralph Sampson (15.8 points per game), Othell Wilson (11.4), Craig Robinson (9.7), and Jeff Jones (8.2). Jeff Jones was a prolific passer and had 598 assists.

The team members consisted of:

  • Number 4 Jim Miller, forward 6’8 Freshman
  • Number 10 Craig Robinson, forward 6’8 Junior
  • Number 11 Othell Wilson, guard 6’0 Sophomore
  • Number 12 Dean Carpenter, forward/center 6’9 Senior
  • Number 14 Ricky Stokes, guard 5’10 Sophomore
  • Number 21 Jim Runcie, guard 6’1 Freshman
  • Number 24 Jeff Jones, point guard and team captain 6’4 Senior
  • Number 30 Kenton Edelin, forward 6’7 Sophomore
  • Number 32 Doug Newburg, guard 6’2 Junior
  • Number 33 Kenny Johnson, guard 6’0 Freshman
  • Number 42 Peter MacBeth, forward 6’9 Junior
  • Number 45 Tim Mullen, guard, forward 6’5 Freshman
  • Number 51 Dan Merrifield, forward 6’6 Freshman
  • Number 55 Ralph Sampson, center 7’4 Junior

UVA Basketball History:

Informal portrait of Pop Lannigan in coat outdoors.

Henry “Pop” Lannigan. Image courtesy of George Seitz.

Henry “Pop” Lannigan started the University of Virginia basketball program in 1905 and had a successful season until his death in 1930. He accumulated a dominant overall record of 254–95 (.728 winning percentage) over twenty-four seasons as the UVA head coach.







Portrait of Gus Tebell in Virginia sweater.

Gustave “Gus” Kenneth Tebell. University of Virginia Visual History Collection (prints00568).

Gustave “Gus” Kenneth Tebell was the coach from 1930 to 1951, achieving his first championship in just his second year. During his tenure, he compiled a 240–190 record, including a National Invitation Tournament berth in 1941.

After a series of coaches with more losses than wins, the Cavalier regained success under Terry Holland who began coaching in 1974. He had a winning record of 326–173. His tenure at Virginia (through 1990) also included 1981 and 1984 Final Four appearances, a 1980 National Invitation Tournament championship, Virginia’s first of three ACC Tournament championships (1976), and two ACC Coach of the Year awards. In addition to all-star Ralph Sampson, there were many great basketball players during Coach Holland’s career, including brothers Ricky and Bobby Stokes, Barry Parkhill, Marc Iaveroni, Lee Raker, John Crotty, Wally Walker, Jeff Lamp, and many others.

Black and white photograph of Coach Terry Holland and other coaches and players sitting on bench.

Coach Terry Holland (second to the left) with the Virginia Cavaliers coaching staff at the Randolph-Macon College game, December 2, 1981.

Coach Tony Bennett became head basketball coach at UVA in 2009 and led the Cavaliers to their first NCAA Tournament Championship in 2019. Bennett came to Charlottesville after spending the previous three seasons as the head coach at Washington State, where he was the 2007 National Coach of the Year. Bennett was named one of the 2011 Summit League’s (formerly the Mid-Continent Conference) Top 30 Distinguished Contributors for the league’s first 30 years at the Division I level. In January of 2016, Bennett was part of the Summitt League’s inaugural Hall of Fame class.  Bennett is a three-time recipient of the Henry Iba Award, two-time Naismith College Coach of the Year, two-time AP Coach of the Year, and four-time ACC Coach of the Year. He was named to a list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune magazine. By 2019, Bennett was a three-time National Coach of the Year. This year, he enters his 13th year as the Dean and Markel Families Men’s Head Basketball Coach at the University of Virginia. As of the 2021-22 season, Virginia has had ten consecutive winning conference seasons, the longest active streak among ACC programs.

Photograph of Tony Bennett with championship game basketball net.

Tony Bennett, Dean and Markel Families Men’s Basketball Head Coach. (Photo by Matt Riley, UVA Athletics)

Tonight—November 9, 2021— the Virginia Cavaliers Men’s basketball team opens their season with a game against Navy at John Paul Jones Arena. We hope to see you there!


Ala-Birmingham, Louisville get by Sampson, Breuer” Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. March 19, 1982. p. 24.

1981–82 Virginia Cavaliers men’s basketball team, Wikipedia. Retrieved 9/27/2021.

Martin, Steve, “UAB Blazers slay giant Virginia”. Tuscaloosa News. (Alabama). March 19, 1982. p. 12.

 Wilson, Austin,  “UAB stuns Virginia with 68-66 triumph”. Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. Associated Press. March 19, 1982, p. 10

Jeff Jones Basketball, Wikipedia. Retrieved 9/28/2021.

Wysong, David, “The Game Michael Jordan Changed Everyone’s Perception of Him” Tweet and Facebook, March 29, 2020

Teel, David, “Victory over UNC elevates UVA’s Bennett into rare company“. Richmond Times-Dispatch, February 13, 2021. Note that the article mentions it was the second-longest at the time, before Duke failed to achieve a winning record in that season

Tony Bennett, Dean and Markel Families Men’s Head Basketball Coach. Virginia Sports.

Payne, Terrence, “Tony Bennett signs a seven-year deal with Virginia.” NBC Sports Jun 3, 2014.

In Memoriam: Albert H. Small

We at the UVA Library were saddened to hear of the death of Albert H. Small, former UVA Board of Visitors member, longtime benefactor of the Library, and namesake along with his wife Shirley of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. He was 95 years old.

Albert H. Small in the stairwell of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library in 2004, the year the library opened.

Albert H. Small in the stairwell of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library in 2004, the year the library opened.

Small served in the United States Navy during World War II and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1946 with a degree in chemical engineering. After this he began his long and successful professional career as a real estate developer, along with an equally notable career as a collector and philanthropist. His major collecting interest was in American history, and his philanthropic contributions of time, resources, and expertise were enormous.

Albert Small was much more than simply a namesake of the Small Special Collections Library. He gave generously to the library’s construction, but he also lobbied relentlessly on the University’s behalf when the plans to erect a new building first got underway. Former University Librarian Karin Wittenborg, who worked closely with Small as the new library was being conceived, praised his determination, noting that “Albert was an avid and persuasive advocate for a new Special Collections library when few others believed it would be built. If not for Albert’s commitment and support, it would not be here today.” University Librarian John Unsworth agreed, adding that “it could never have been done without Albert’s vision and industry.” And in addition to his central role in the creation of the physical building, Small donated to the new library the Albert H. Small Declaration of Independence Collection, the most comprehensive holding of its kind related to the Declaration of Independence.

Photograph of documents on display in the Declaration of Independence Gallery

Reproductions of John Dunlap’s broadsides on display in the Declaration of Independence Gallery. As Curator David Whitesell notes, “Thomas Jefferson famously directed that his tombstone list only three of his many achievements. The Small Special Collections Library holds the archive for one: the University of Virginia. Hence we are profoundly grateful to Albert Small for entrusting to us his pre-eminent collection on a second: the Declaration of Independence.”

The Albert H. Small Declaration of Independence Collection includes letters, documents, and early printings related to the Declaration and its fifty-six signers, including a number of letters written by the signers. A much larger number of broadsides and newspaper printings of the Declaration and a series of later printings reveal how the document became iconic as an expression of the rights and freedoms cherished by Americans. It also includes an early printed facsimile of the official engrossed copy of the Declaration, commissioned for engraving by John Quincy Adams, as well as the engraving itself, presented to the Marquis de Lafayette in recognition of his service during the Revolution and hanging in the Marquis’ bedchamber when he died. And it features the jewel of the collection, the Albert Small copy of the Dunlap Broadside, printed by John Dunlap of Philadelphia just hours after the final text was approved by Congress. The Albert Small copy is among the finest surviving examples of a Dunlap Broadside, and almost certainly belonged to George Washington. Highlights of the collection are on permanent display in the Declaration of Independence Gallery in the Small Special Collections Library. The pleasure his Declaration collection brought to the public is vividly recorded in the thousands of grateful comments inscribed in the Declaration Gallery visitors’ book.

Nineteeth and twentieth century trade catalogs from the Albert Small Trade Catalog Collection

From the Albert H. Small American Trade Catalogs Collection— this amazingly well-preserved set of commercial publications reveals fascinating details of daily life and business practices of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In December 2014 Albert Small donated to the Library a second magnificent collection: 3,400 American trade catalogs dating back to 1839. Formed over several decades of assiduous and imaginative collecting, the Albert H. Small American Trade Catalogs Collection is among the richest and most diverse of its kind. Its holdings document almost every conceivable aspect of American manufacturing, commerce, and consumption. These ephemeral and very rare documents are invaluable to UVA faculty and students in many disciplines as they seek to understand the artifacts of our past and study the world that they occupied.

Not only did Albert Small work tirelessly and give generously to realize the Library’s long-held dream of a world-class, purpose-built facility to house its priceless rare book and manuscript collections, and not only did he donate among the most priceless and rare of those collections, but once the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library opened in 2004, he remained deeply engaged with and committed to its mission. Library staff fondly remember his impromptu visits whenever business brought him to Grounds. Once he appeared just as an out-of-town group arrived to view his Declaration of Independence collection; the group was thrilled when Small himself graciously offered a guided tour! He was also instrumental in arranging for many distinguished guests to visit the library and view its remarkable holdings.

As noted above, Albert Small’s contributions to the Library, as varied and important as they were, are only a drop in the ocean of his philanthropy. His contributions to institutions preserving American arts, culture, and history were numerous and tireless. Those institutions include George Washington University, the National Gallery of Art, the National Archives Foundation, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Library of Congress, the National Symphony Orchestra, and many more. His awards were also numerous, including The National Humanities medal, given to him by President Barack Obama in 2009. Even at UVA, Small’s generosity was not limited to the Library, and the Small Special Collections building is not the only building on Grounds that bears his name — he also supported the renovation that created the Engineering School’s Albert H. Small Building.

Portrait of Albert H. Small in the Small Special Collections Library

Portrait of Albert H. Small currently on display in his namesake library.

Albert H. Small will be remembered at the University and beyond not only for his passion and devotion to history, but for his dedication to sharing that passion with others and collecting and preserving important resources for the education and edification of future generations. His desire to share the treasures of his Declaration collection with students and scholars made that collection an invaluable resource for teaching and learning at the University and beyond, and the prestige it lent our special collections became a catalyst for other collectors to donate related materials. We are all truly indebted to Albert Small’s vision and generosity and to the legacy he built.


Read Albert Small’s obituary in The Washington Post



Welcome Katie Rojas, our new Archival Processing and Discovery Supervisor!

Today we welcome Katie Rojas, our new Archival Processing and Discovery Supervisor. Katie joins the Special Collections Technical Services team and is responsible for the workflows associated with archival accessioning and processing. 

In her own words:

I hold a BA in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin and earned my MLIS with a concentration in Archives from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Previously, I was the Manuscripts Archivist at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the Archivist for the City of San Antonio Municipal Archives. I’ve lived my entire life in Texas until now, so my move to Virginia is an exciting new adventure! I love animals, hiking, running, gardening, cross-stitching, art, music, Halloween, and reading.

What was your first ever job with books or libraries?

I was a student library assistant at my high school library. I helped with circulation and reshelving and did a lot of shelf reading, which I actually enjoyed. This was one of the many early clues that I was destined for a career in libraries, though I didn’t figure that out until a few years later.

What was the first thing you collected as a child? What do you collect now? (oh, c’mon, admit it).

My answer is the same for both questions: Books! I’ve pared down several times over the years but I know I’ll always continue to acquire them, no matter how hard I try to stop myself.

Hopefully you’ve been roaming Grounds and Charlottesville a bit since your arrival. What’s your favorite new discovery other than Special Collections?

I love the gardens. I haven’t explored all of them yet, but I especially like that many of them produce edible fruit! I’m also fond of the ginkgo trees on Grounds.

Tell us what excites you about your job?

I’m excited about working with the team in Special Collections Technical Services to do reparative descriptive work. I consider myself an activist-archivist and feel strongly about the need for better representation in archives. I also really enjoy creating policies and workflows that make our work more efficient and more supportive of our patrons’ research needs.

Tell us something about Special Collections or UVA that is different from what you expected.

I’m getting used to saying “on Grounds” instead of “on campus.” I also wasn’t expecting the presence of secret societies. It’s intriguing to see their symbols painted on steps and other places!

If you could be locked in any library or museum for a weekend, with the freedom to roam, enjoy, and study to your heart’s content, which one would you choose?

Museo Frida Kahlo: Frida’s famous blue house in Coyoacán, which was turned into a museum by her husband, Diego Rivera, at Frida’s request. It not only contains Frida’s furniture and garden but also exhibits artwork and her fabulous clothing. I have been a Frida fan since I was a teenager. I even named one of my cats Frida!

Senator Carter Glass 1858-1946: The Good and the Bad

This post was contributed by Ellen Welch, Manuscripts and Archives Processor with reparative comments from Whitney Buccicone, Director of Technical Services and edits by Katie Rojas, Archival Processing and Discovery Supervisor, all staff of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

Note: Many years ago, the Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia Library was fortunate to receive the papers of Senator Carter Glass, a Virginia politician for fifty years with international and presidential influence. His papers were recently reprocessed so that banking legislation could be kept together in one series and legislation and political content could be separated, allowing researchers to identify these parts of the collection more easily (revised finding aid now available). It is a large collection of 283 document boxes containing his original correspondence, legislative drafts, printed bills, newspaper clippings, and speeches. In reprocessing the collection, it has been fascinating to gain a glimpse of some of the major events in the nineteenth and twentieth century history through his eyes. This was sometimes daunting and illuminating at the same time.

Carter Glass sitting for portrait

Carter Glass 1858-1946 (Courtesy U.S. Senate Historical Office)

Carter Glass (January 4, 1858 – May 28, 1946) was born in Lynchburg, Virginia to Robert Henry Glass and Augusta Elizabeth Christian. He became one of the longest serving politicians of his time—Senator of Virginia from 1920 to 1946, nominee for President of the United States in 1924—and successfully drafted and oversaw passage of some of the hardest fought and heroic banking legislation in history: the Federal Reserve Act (1913) and the Glass-Steagall Act (1932). However, he also helped to create the racist 1902 Virginia Constitution that disenfranchised the Black vote in Virginia.

Carter Glass was a small but raucous country boy. Older boys in the neighborhood thought that they could pick on him because of his size, but he would fight them off with stones—they quickly learned to leave him alone. He earned the life-long nickname of Pluck because he refused to be bullied. Glass was a white child of privilege, and it was during this time that the foundation of Glass’s racism was built and was further cemented when his childhood was suddenly cut short by the outbreak of the Civil War. He had to quit school and apprentice at his father’s newspaper to help his family. The Civil War and Reconstruction period had a profound effect on Glass, shaping his early political views based on his memories that outsiders and African Americans were taking over the state of Virginia and responsible for its impoverished conditions. In typical Glass verbiage, the young boy claimed he was going to grow up and shoot “dadgum” Yankees.

Carter Glass setting type for newspaper

Carter Glass, publisher of the Lynchburg Daily Advance

Newspaper Career 
From a young age, Carter Glass wanted to become a reporter for his father’s newspaper. At age thirteen, he apprenticed for the newspaper and read books from his father’s library to augment his formal education. Glass had an impressive vocabulary which he used to his advantage throughout his career. Father and son shared the same political thinking but worked at different newspapers, often sparring with each other on specific issues much to the entertainment of the local Lynchburg public. One day his father stormed into his son’s office after reading an offensive article in the newspaper, saying “Where did you get that?” Young Glass responded that he kept a scrapbook. “You wrote that about three years ago.” His father turned and stomped out of the office, snorting as he went, “I have no respect for a person who keeps a scrapbook.”

Scan of Official Ballot, General Election with Carter Glass on ballot

Voting ballot for Senator Carter Glass

Political Career 
Following his success in the newspaper business, Carter Glass turned his attentions to politics. After hearing a speech by William Jennings Bryan in 1896, he was moved by Bryan’s oration and felt called to enter politics as a delegate in the 1901-1902 Virginia Constitutional Convention. He was a strong supporter of fiscal conservatism and states’ rights. A Southern Democrat, a Jeffersonian, and a supporter of segregation and Jim Crow laws, Glass served as a United States Senator from Lynchburg, Virginia starting in 1920 and was re-elected every term (running mostly unopposed) until his death in 1946. Many of his supporters have said that, at 5 foot 4 inches tall, his speeches and political prowess made him seem larger than life. Glass is described as having a ready wit, a combative personality, and a caustic tongue that spared no feelings—yet he was easily offended by any criticism of his positions, and often responded vindictively and meanly. Carter Glass thrived under the support of President Woodrow Wilson, but felt challenged under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was opposed to many of Roosevelt’s policies and needed to balance his convictions with diplomacy to preserve his relationship with the President.

Virginia Constitutional Convention 1901-1902

Pamphlet from Virginia Constitutional Convention 1901-1902

While Carter Glass is well-known for his banking reforms, it is not as well publicized that, as a member of the Virginia State Senate from 1899-1902, he led the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1901-1902 that produced the Virginia Constitution of 1902 and placed severe new restrictions on voter eligibility—specifically targeting African Americans voters. The Virginia Constitution of 1902 instituted a poll tax and a literacy test to determine voter eligibility.

When questioned as to whether these measures were potentially discriminatory, Glass exclaimed, “Discrimination! Why that is exactly what we propose. To remove every [African American] voter who can be gotten rid of, legally, without materially impairing the numerical strength of the white electorate.”

Indeed, the number of African Americans Virginians qualified to vote dropped from 147,000 to 21,000 immediately— and until the 1965 Voting Rights Act, discriminatory practices such as the poll tax and literacy tests continued in Virginia and other southern states.

Banking legislation
Glass was appointed Chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency in 1913. He played a major role in the establishment of the U.S. financial regulatory system, which was strongly supported by Woodrow Wilson. Their goal was to remove power from the bankers and place it in a separate agency to supervise the banks. His influence is reflected in the current structure of the Federal Reserve System today, which consists of twelve regional Reserve Banks and the Board of Governors in Washington, D. C.

Glass believed that the bankers kept finding ways around the banking legislation—and that this is what caused the stock market crash in 1929. After the crash, Glass-Steagall legislation focused on more bank regulation, separating investment banking firms and commercial banks and creating the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation).

Carter Glass on the cover of Time Magazine

Carter Glass on the cover of Time Magazine (June 9, 1924)

His banking reforms earned him gratitude across the country, landing him on the cover of Time magazine twice, and many universities bestowed him with honorary degrees. Glass had a way of speaking out of one side of his mouth; after he successfully fought for the Federal Reserve Act, President Woodrow Wilson marveled at what Glass would be able to do using both sides of his mouth!

In 1918, President Wilson appointed Glass Secretary of the Treasury, where he marketed Victory Liberty Loans for World War I debts.  He was also a representative for the peace talks after World War I and was determined to keep loans out of negotiations.

Photograph of Carter Glass with poster for Victory Loan program: "Bring Them Home"

Photograph of Carter Glass with poster for Victory Loan program: “Bring Them Home.” (Library of Congress: Harris & Ewing Collection)

Glass had suffered from ill health throughout his life, and usually walked on tip toes because he believed that would help with his indigestion. He was often so ill that he travelled between the hospital and Capitol Hill to stay ahead of the fight on banking legislation. He died in his hotel apartment in Washington, D.C. on May 28, 1946. History remembers Carter Glass as the Father of the Federal Reserve Act, but today we also consider his role in the 1902 Virginia Constitution that disenfranchised every black voter in the state. Historian J. Douglas Smith cites him as “the architect of disenfranchisement in the Old Dominion.” In the late 1920s, Harvard University named their business school, Glass Hall, after his achievements in banking, but in 2020 they changed the name to Cash House for James Cash, the first African American tenured professor at Harvard.

Carter Glass was the one of the most influential politicians of his time, yet at the beginning of his young life, he noted, “after the fullest deliberation I have cheerfully concluded that I was not cut out for a politician.” At 88 years of age, he still refused to retire from the Senate even though he had not attended the Senate floor proceedings for years. At many points during his political career he claimed that he would have been happy to stay at home on his farm, buying his jersey cattle, and yet he never gave up his public service until death took it from him on May 28,1946.

For more information about Carter Glass:


Juneteenth in Virginia: Keeping the Celebration Going

We mark Juneteenth 2021 with this guest post from Daniel Bachman, Madison County artist and independent scholar interested in the folk histories of the Virginia experience.  

Photograph of Emancipation Day in Richmond, VA April 3, 1905: African Americans walking en masse in street parade

Photograph “Emancipation Day, Richmond, VA April 3, 1905” / 37.102.P.018421 from the Detroit Publishing Company Collection, Collections of Henry Ford.

 Although we now celebrate Juneteenth as Emancipation Day, historically, black Virginians honored April 3 & 9. Local historian Bessida Cauthorne White writes, “April 3, 1865, was the day that the City of Richmond fell to the Union Army, a military operation brought about largely through the efforts of African-American troops. April 9 was Emancipation Day in Lynchburg and in King William County, marking Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865.” In 1866, Richmond designated April 3 as Emancipation Day, which remained a major holiday for black Virginians in the city until they were suppressed during the Jim Crow era.

Tappahannock, however, held a large annual Third of April celebration through the mid-1950s. White writes, “A typical Third of April began with a parade through the streets of Tappahannock…Following the parade and a lunch break, the festivities resumed with a formal program in the Essex County Courthouse. There was always an inspirational featured speaker…Some of the older residents remember that a play was given on the evening of the Third of April during the early part of the twentieth century.” Local residents recalled that the annual celebration in Tappahannock was “our day, the one time that we took over the town.'”

“The fact that Black folk were able to keep the celebration going through the rise of Jim Crow, through the Great Depression, and through two world wars says much for the tenacity and perseverance of the African-American citizens of the area, and should not go unnoticed. It is ironic that a celebration that marked the fall of the City of Richmond was sustained in Tappahannock, but not in Richmond.”


-Bessida Cauthorne White, “History of the Third of April Emancipation Celebration in Essex County, Virginia,” Middle Peninsula African-American Genealogical & Historical Society, 1994.





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crystal Ross and John Dos Passos

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

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


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

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

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

photograph of Ralph Cohen

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

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

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

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

Cover of New Literary History, Spring 1973

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

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

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

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

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

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