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



Tales from Under Grounds II: Pastimes, Play Time, Illustration, and Literature

This is the second in a series of four blog posts, spotlighting the mini-exhibitions of fall semester 2014 students from USEM 1570: Researching History.  The following is the abridged version of the students’ final projects, featured at their outreach program, Tales from Under Grounds II.


Regina Chung, First-Year Student

Regina Chung

Photograph of Regina Chung by Sanjay Suchak, November 18, 2014.

Monticello Music

Thomas Jefferson declared that music “is the favorite passion of my soul, and fortune has cast my lot in a country where it is in a state of deplorable barbarism.” Jefferson practiced the violin three hours a day and would later share his love for music with his wife, Martha, and then his daughters. He would not only spread this passion among his family, but also as a political tool that would lead to wide popularity with his lively campaign songs.

Using scrapbooks, notebooks, music programs, political campaign songs, and newsclippings, this exhibition displays the passion Jefferson held for music in his personal and work life.

This scrapbook of 18th century songs, ballads, and cantatas were collected by Thomas Jefferson and his family. There are 95 titles in this volume from Jefferson's distinct music collection.

Thomas Jefferson’s Scrapbook of Sheet Music. This scrapbook of 18th century songs, ballads, and cantatas were collected by Thomas Jefferson and his family. There are 95 titles in this volume from Jefferson’s distinct music collection. (A 1723-90 .J4 no. 1. Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History)


TJ Newsclipping

Newsclipping of a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to his daughter Martha “Patsy” Jefferson, n.d. After Jefferson’s wife’s death, he strongly enforced music upon his eldest daughter, Martha (“Patsy”). In this reprinted letter, he encourages her to continue to learn new music. (MSS 6696. Thomas Jefferson Foundation)


Lily Davis

Lily Davis

Photograph of Lily Davis by Sanjay Suchak, November 18, 2014.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

 Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was a 19th-century American author. He is known as a “romancer,” examining the inner nature of man, and as a “realist,” using literature to articulate the flaws in American society. Many of his stories have a common theme of probing human nature and criticizing culture. In his books, he examines and scrutinizes Puritan society, which points back to his long line of Puritan ancestors.

The photograph of Hawthorne with his signature across the bottom was taken around the time he wrote The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables, pieces of literature that are still read and loved today. The Scarlet Letter, probably Hawthorne’s most well-known book, provides insight to his Puritan background. The House of Seven Gables was published shortly after The Scarlet Letter and is also set in 19th century New England. Centuries later, Hawthorne is still considered a great American author.

Title page of The Scarlet Letter

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1850. The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850, tells the story of Hester Prynne and her illegitimate child Pearl in Puritan society. This novel was inspired by Hawthorne’s strict Puritan background. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great grandfather, John Hathorne (1641-1717), lived in Salem, Massachusetts and was a prominent judge in the Salem witch trials. Nathaniel Hawthorne eventually added the “w” in his true family name of “Hathorne” (changing it to “Hawthorne”) to distinguish himself from his ancestors. In reading the Scarlet Letter, it is obvious that his writing points to his background.(A 1850 H39 S3. Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History)

Signed Carte de Visite of Nathaniel Hawthorne, ca. 1850s. (MSS 6249. Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature)


Mary Elder, First-Year Student

Mary Elder

Mary Elder discusses her exhibition with visitors, November 18, 2014. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak)

Games of American Children in the Victorian Era

The Victorian Era is viewed as a time of rapid development and change, and it is easy to overlook the role of children in this era. Many of people’s ideas come from films such as A Christmas Carol, and characters such as the grandmother of American Girl’s Samantha, but much can be learned by looking at the toys and games that children enjoyed during this time.

Games and stories can often reveal the values of the time they were played, and Victorian Era games frequently had educational value, or intended to teach moral lessons. Other times, they were simply to keep children occupied quietly. Outdoor and recreational activities were also encouraged to allow children to run and play, but were sometimes limited to boys as many still held the belief that girls should be quiet and dainty.

These games can tell a story as they give us a glimpse into the lives of the younger generation in the late 19th-century. Many of the games and concepts might be familiar to people today and can show the continuity in children’s attitudes toward fun and perpetuity of childhood pleasures.

Toy Catalogue

Selchow & Righter, New York, Manufacturers and Wholesale Dealers in Games and Toys, 1894-1895.  This trade catalog for toys and games provides images, cost, and descriptions of the games. Frequently sold by dozens, costs vary greatly, but many are in the $7-$10 range. Many items, such as the church and blocks, have religious associations, while others, such as the Spelling Boards and reading cabinet, are educational. Many items, such as a ring toss, dolls, toy pianos, and air rifles, would be familiar to children today. (TS199 .A5 T62 no.16. Albert H. Small American Trade Catalogs Collection)

Ruhig Blut Game

Ruhig Blut. New York: Dr. Richter’s Publishing House, 1899. This puzzle, whose name in English is “Be Quiet,” has instructions in German, English, and several other language. It resembles what is now known by many as a Tangram, and the small shaped masonry pieces could be combined in a variety of ways to create pictures. (Lindemann 05868. The McGehee Miniature Book Collection)


Grace Kim, First-Year Student

Grace Kim

Grace Kim talks to Rare Book Cataloger Gayle Cooper about her exhibition, November 18, 2014. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak)

John Tenniel: An Illustrator with a Punch

Originally, John Tenniel was a classic artist who created oil paintings for the Royal Academy. Dissatisfied, he left to join the illustration world. In 1850, he found a position at the British political magazine Punch, where he would work for fifty years. Citizens soon recognized his drawings, and his work at the magazine would soon allow for other illustrating opportunities. He drew for Thomas Moore’s oriental romance novel, Lalla Rookh, which was considered to contain his best illustrations. He was also the illustrator for The Arabian Nights edition, created by the engravers the Dalziel brothers. Tenniel would constantly go to the Dalziel brothers for the engraving of his drawings.

Tenniel preferred not to use real life models to help him form his illustrations. Instead, he claimed that he could draw anything through the use of memory. This may have helped him when he worked with Lewis Carroll, otherwise known as Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, to create Alice’s fantastical world.

In 1893, John Tenniel became knighted for his work in political cartoons and illustrations. After he retired from Punch about a decade later, he would not take on any other projects.

Illustrations from Alice in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Illus. by John Tenniel. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1866. Most well known for his work with Lewis Carroll, Tenniel includes forty-two of his illustrations in this first American edition. Originally, Carroll wanted to draw the illustrations himself; however, a friend, Thomas Combe, suggested a professional illustrator instead. Lewis Carroll wanted no one other than John Tenniel. His work at Punch led the surreal author to become a big fan. In this particular book, the color marking comes from the original owner, Alice Huff Johnston. (PR4611 .A7 1866. Gift of Clement Dixon Johnston)

Note from Tenniel to Ponny

Note from John Tenniel to Ponny, ca. 1869. Sir John Tenniel reflects on his own reputation in a note to his friend, Ponny, stating, “You say my name is as good as a bank note – I wish you could prove it.” (MSS 6693-a. Gift of Clement Dixon Johnston)

Sugar High: A Curator’s Halloween Musings

In the throes of a pleasant candy-corn headache the other day, I wondered what we should post to the blog in celebration of tomorrow’s big holiday. What does the library hold related to candy, I wondered? So I opened Virgo, put on my headphones and hit play. On deck was the Flaming Lips’ cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Research always benefits from an apt soundtrack, and this over-the-top techno-celebration suited my purposes.

With a list of possible items in hand, I wandered the stacks, wishing I had a stash of Junior Mints in my pocket for this journey (but never fear, even Junior Mints cannot tempt me to break our no-food-in-the-stacks rule). Among the treasures I discovered, one in particular made my tastebuds buzz: a turn-of-the-century trade catalogue of the Savage Bros. Co., a Chicago manufacturer of candy-making machines since 1855 (They’re still in business today!). Enjoy the following selection of images (preferably while consuming something terribly bad for you) and have a happy Halloween!


Ah, pulled taffy. Who hasn’t enjoyed the unique pleasure of stumbling across one of these machines in action in an olde candy shoppe in a seafront or mountain resort area?  Truly, only the Zamboni exceeds it in mesmeric power. Note the manufacturer name on the image here: perhaps Savage Bros. distributed this east-coast product to the Midwestern market.


Fruit-drop candy machinery is well-represented in the catalog, and this example clearly reveals the production method. Sugary goodness goes in on the left as the two rolls turn, popping out shaped candies on the other side, which roll down the plank, cooling as they go. Yum.


This alphabet fruit-drop roller mechanism is DIVINE! What bibliophile wouldn’t want to receive a gift of a bag of alphabet candies?


Few things are as creepy as baby dolls that have the faces of adults. But I think maybe baby candy with this problem is creepier.


The catalog makes me want to take up candy-making. These tiny creatures would make wonderful Halloween treats, especially if they were made in a creepy brownish-green. Deeeeee-licious!


There was even a fruit-drop mold for the Yellow Kid, a popular cartoon character of the period. Seventy-five of this odd little figure could be rolled out of a pound of sugary goodness.


Hundreds of fruit-drop patterns were available to the Savage Co.’s customers, including odd ones like this Washington Hatchet. Somehow, I can’t quite imagine wanting to suck on a hatchet blade. But now that I think of it, there would be something very halloweeny about it, wouldn’t there? Puts a whole new twist on the whole razor-blade Halloween paranoia…


Speaking of blades, all sorts of candy-making hand tools are available in the catalog, alongside large and small industrial machines.


These lovely “plaster paris starch moulds” resulted in highly detailed shaped bonbons. No candy corn shape, alas. Savage only offered molds for an entire ear of corn.


Some products feature factory workers for scale. Here, a woman places pans of chocolate candies in a cooling cabinet; a block of ice is visible in the open door on the left. Maybe I’ll dress as her for Halloween next year.

Blogger’s note: all images  have been shamelessly cropped and altered for full sugar-high effect. No images are left unscathed. To view the book in its original condition, request TS199 .A5 H4 no. 24 in the Special Collections reading room. As always, please wash your hands of all candy residue before entering the reading room.




Tales from Under Grounds: Alcohol, Marijuana, Insanity, and Ads

This is the first in a series of four posts, spotlighting the mini-exhibitions of students from USEM 1570: Researching History.

Last fall semester, I had the pleasure of teaching USEM 1570: Researching History, a course I designed with the purpose of introducing undergraduates to the wonderful, yet painstaking world of primary source research.  Sixteen undergraduates took on the challenge of the class and for a semester were immersed in searching for, finding, and evaluating the wealth of materials in Special Collections.  Their final assignment was to create a mini-exhibition, telling a particular story with only five items of varying formats. After creating the exhibitions, they presented them at their outreach program, Tales from Under Grounds. The program was a success!  I wish everyone could have been there to see their great work.

USEM students due mock presentations of their mini-exhibitions in preparation for Tales from Under Grounds.

USEM student Adam Hawes does a practice presentation of his mini-exhibition as his classmates look on.

For those who could not make it, I present to you the second best thing: Tales from Under Grounds in its abridged version as captured in each student’s own words.

Note: only two selections per student are shown.


Jenna Parker, First-Year Student

Photograph of Jenna Parker by Sanjay Suchak, 19 November 2013.

Photograph of Jenna Parker by Sanjay Suchak, 19 November 2013.

Bottoms Up: Drinking in America in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries

Despite the various Temperance Movements in the United States in the 19th century, drinking was always a very popular part of American society, and attempts to curb the American cultural trait of drinking just popularized the habit even more.  It was not an uncommon practice for drinking to start at breakfast and for children to drink as well.

This display showcases a unique recipe for beer from Thomas Jefferson, a cookbook with numerous recipes for alcoholic beverages, a musical score from a popular drinking song, Charles Dickens’ liquor flask, and alcohol trade catalogs.  These items serve to demonstrate how commonplace drinking was in American culture and society at a time when drinking was both expected and discouraged.

Charles Dicken's flask

Charles Dickens’s Glass Liquor Flask. This glass spirit flask is the one that the famous British author Charles Dickens carried with him while he was traveling in the United States. (MSS 10562. Image by Digitization Services)

A note from Charles Dickens to

A note from Charles Dickens to his sister-in-law and housekeeper Georgina Hogarth with household instructions, which was included with the flask. (MSS 10562. Image by Digitization Services)

(MSS 10562. Image by Digitization Services)

A note from Georgina Hogarth certifying the authenticity of the flask.(MSS 10562. Image by Digitization Services)


These trade catalogs are from around 1887-1914, and advertise liquor from Heller Bros., the “Oldest, Largest, Leading, and most Prompt Mail Order Liquor Merchants and Wholesale Beer Agents in the South”. The company was based in the city of Bristol, VA-TN. (TS199 .A5 A6 no. 01. Albert H. Small American Trade Catalogs Collection. Image by Petrina Jackson)


Aaron Clyman, First-Year Student

Photograph of Aaron Clyman by Sanjay Suchak, 19 November 2013.

Photograph of Aaron Clyman by Sanjay Suchak, 19 November 2013.

Cannabis Calumny in Capitalist America

This exhibit focuses on the relationship between the United States and the plant cannabis. This includes, the more commonly known form, marijuana, and industrial hemp, which are quite different despite being legally lumped together. The majority of the items in the exhibit regard misinformation that the public has been given regarding this political issue.

The main focus of these items should be the various scientific aspects because, as this is a highly factual issue, they must be held in the highest regard. Inside many items there are scientific studies, complete or partial, which have unanimous conclusions contrary to general notions on the matter. In this lies the true issue, people making decisions on misinformation, which inevitably leads to the misinformed policy seen today.

Pot Art

Pot Art by stone mountain, published by Apocrypha Books, 1970. This book is a collection of newspaper clippings, magazine articles, photos, comics, surveys, and more all regarding Cannabis and it’s accompanying culture. The majority of these serve to be informational or entertaining, all in all creating a complete collection. (HV5822 .M3 S86 1970. Marvin Tatum Collection of Contemporary Literature. Image by Petrina Jackson)

Cover of

Cover of The Marijuana Convictionby Richard Bonnie and Charles Whitebread II, published by the University Press of Virginia, 1974. This book discusses the relationship that Cannabis and the United States have had throughout the country’s history. Inside is a report from NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) which gives a full synopsis Cannabis and its use, including user stereotypes, side effects, genetic damage, addiction, the gateway theory, and criminal implications. (HV5822 .M3 B66. Image by Petrina Jackson)


Megan Strait, First-Year Student

Photograph of Megan Strait by Sanjay Suchak, 19 November 2013.

Photograph of Megan Strait by Sanjay Suchak, 19 November 2013.

“Who’s Loony Now?”

The scandalous story of John (a.k.a Archie) Armstrong Chaloner’s false commitment to Bloomingdale, an insane asylum in New York, is a tumultuous tale. In 1893, Archie envisioned a textile mill town in North Carolina that he christened Roanoke Rapids.  He drafted his siblings, especially his younger brother, Winty, to invest in the town. Winty, who was originally excited about the idea, felt that Archie’s spending was out of control.  So, when Archie came forward with his self-proclaimed ability to tap into his unconscious (the “X-Faculty”), Winty took the opportunity to lure him to New York where he was unfairly tried, declared insane, and institutionalized.

After four years, Archie escaped from the asylum and returned to New York to press charges. Archie petitioned the Supreme Court, won the case and was awarded $30,000, however “the judge immediately halved the award.”  The win was what was important to him—his family surrendered the property they’d taken from him, and he was more or less able to rebuild his life.

Portrait of

Portrait of J. A. Chaloner by Rufus Holsinger, 1918.  Chaloner’s hair and position’s semblance to Napoleon is no coincidence—Chaloner believed that he bore a great likeness to Napoleon.  He was a huge fan of the infamous ruler—paintings and busts of Napoleon were spread throughout his estate, and it was his image that Chaloner assumed when under the influence of the X-Faculty. (MSS 9862. Holsinger Studio Collection. Image by Digitization Services)

(Image by Petrina Jackson)

Letter from Mary Elizabeth Breen to Archie, 1901. Breen congratulates Archie on his escape from Bloomingdale.  She says that she had a friend who was falsely committed to Bloomingdale as well.  She also sends a four-leaf clover to wish his new book, The X-Faculty, which explained his self-proclaimed mental abilities, success. (MSS 38-394-e. Gift of George Worthington. Image by Petrina Jackson)


Amelia Garcia, First-Year Student

Amelia Garcia (right) talks to English graduate student and Special Collections employee about an advertisement from the 1950s, 19 November 2013. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak)

Amelia Garcia (right) talks to English graduate student and Special Collections employee about an advertisement from the 1950s, 19 November 2013. (Photograph by Sanjay Suchak)

Advertising to Americans: The 1950s

The 1950s was characterized as the decade of consumerism as the prosperous postwar economy served as a hotbed for advertisers. Upon analyzing the advertisements showcased in Esquire, The Saturday Evening Post, Life, and Ladies’ Home Journal, one can get a sense for how idealized life was like in the 50s. Overlapping themes in these periodicals’ ads include: wholesome family values, established women’s roles, smoking popularity, and a fascination with air travel.

Advertising during this period reflected a conscious return to traditional family values. The idea of a domesticated woman was also prevalent in 1950s advertising as most female-directed ads were for food, household appliances, beauty, or children’s products. During this time period, tobacco companies fought to yield the highest profit since smoking was cool, cheap, and socially acceptable. Americans were also mesmerized by commercial flying. Marketers capitalized on this to sell anything from shoes to club memberships, using the catchy term, the “Jet Age.”

Note: Students had the option of creating a digital story for Tales from Under Grounds, and Amelia, alone, chose it.  Check out her amazing digital story on Advertising to Americans: The 1950s: