Special Collections & Archives Blog

During October 2010...

Theater Actor Prints & Photographs Now Online!

Friday, October 29, 2010 7:57 am

Doris Keane in

We are proud to announce the Theater Actor Prints and Photographs Collection, representing early stage and film actors and actresses, performers, directors, and royalty from the 1880s through the 1930s. The collection includes engravings, etchings, prints, cabinet photographs, cartes de visite, and other photographic materials from England and the United States. The collection includes actors such as H.B. Irving, Fanny Davenport, Lillian Russell, and John Drew.

Images are from the Harold Seton Collection (MS578), the Harold Tedford Collection (MS580), the G. Sykes Collection (MS579), the Clarence Herbert New Papers (MS577), and the library’s collection of theater actor prints (MS581).

This collaborative project is the result of many contributors, including Rebecca Petersen, Craig Fansler, Megan Mulder, Barry Davis, Erik Mitchell, myself, and others.

Tuition in 1872

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 3:17 pm

While re-housing the William Gaston Simmons Papers, one of our students discovered this small piece of Wake Forest’s past:

This receipt from Simmons, the former Bursar, notes payment for tuition, room rent, and servant hire for Spring Term, 1872. Total cost: $3.00.

W. J. Cash Inducted into the N.C. Hall of Fame

Monday, October 25, 2010 10:53 am

Thanks to Audra for pointing this out. See the article below.

Honoring the mind of W.J. Cash
His 1941 racial treatise puts him in the N.C. Literary Hall of Fame.
By Pam Kelley, Reading Life Editor
Posted: Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010

In 1941, Charlotte’s W.J. Cash published “The Mind of the South,” a biting treatise on the culture of the South – its racial intolerance, class system, violence. A few months later in Mexico, he apparently committed suicide.

Today, with an output of that single memorable book, Cash joins four writers being inducted into the N.C. Literary Hall of Fame.

So this seems a fine time to revisit the man who lived in Church Street’s Frederick apartments, wore a battered fedora and once referred to Charlotte as “a citadel of bigotry and obscurantism, in love with Presbyterianism, Babbittry and the Duke Power Company.”

“The Mind of the South” has never gone out of print. It still gets assigned in high school and college classrooms. [ Manuscript excerpts from Mind of South.] Charlotte’s Levine Museum of the New South even displays one of its quotes. Writing about Charlotte’s participation in an early 20th-century skyscraper boom, Cash says the Queen City “had little more use for them than a hog has for a morning coat.”

“There’s a sense of resonance when I read the book – a sense of yeah, he’s right, I still see that,” says Ed Southern, executive director of the N.C. Writers’ Network.

Says Levine Museum historian Tom Hanchett: “He’s one of the great people who got the psyche, particularly of white folks, in this part of the South.”

Still, historians over the years have questioned some of Cash’s analysis and criticized his depictions of blacks and women. That’s not surprising, Wake Forest University historian Paul Escott says. “He was critical of his region, but he didn’t free himself entirely of the way people were thinking in the 1920s and ’30s.”

Cash, born in Gaffney, S.C., moved to Boiling Springs as a boy. He graduated from Wake Forest College before becoming associate editor of the defunct Charlotte News in the late 1930s.

Cash’s work pushed later historians to reassess the reactionary and racist aspects of Southern culture, Escott says. “Many things he says are correct.”

Jack Claiborne, former associate editor of The Observer, says Cash often exaggerated for effect, much like H.L. Mencken, his editor at the American Mercury.

Yet the boosterism he attributed to Charlotte still exists, Claiborne says. “That’s a product of the fact that we were told we were insignificant, and we were trying to be significant.”

Needless to say, “you’ll not find the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce offering W.J. Cash as an important Charlottean,” Claiborne says.

Cleveland County, where Cash is buried, hasn’t been eager to enshrine him either. He never made it into the Cleveland County Historical Museum Hall of Fame, though another writer, Thomas Dixon, was a charter member. Dixon wrote racist romances, including “The Clansman,” which was made into “Birth of a Nation,” a groundbreaking silent movie that portrayed the Ku Klux Klan as heroes.

In Southern Pines today, however, Cash receives a bigger award, joining literary giants such as Thomas Wolfe, Paul Green and O. Henry.

Escott is accepting the Hall of Fame award in Cash’s honor. In his remarks, he plans to quote Cash’s description of the South as a society full of “intolerance, aversion and suspicion toward new ideas, an incapacity for analysis, an inclination to act from feeling rather than from thought, (and) an exaggerated individualism and a too-narrow concept of social responsibility.”

Escott finds that quote full of significance. The South has changed. The racism and economic backwardness that stunted Cash’s society, he says, were transformed by the civil rights movement and New South prosperity.

But to what extent, he wonders, could Cash’s assessment of the South apply to our nation, as a whole, today?

Pam Kelley: pkelley@charlotteobserver.com; 704-358-5271.

See our Wilbur J. Cash Digital Collection which contains several of the works cited in the Charlotte Observer. I suspect that the quotations used came from our digital collection.

See also: The making of ‘The Mind of the South’ in the North Carolina Miscellany blog.

Need or Greed?

Friday, October 22, 2010 12:14 pm

Take a look at this vibrant poster, circa 1975, from the Energy Strategy Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina –

The artwork and its source committee were likely created as a result of the 1973 oil crisis. Take a look at the gas-guzzling hot rod and the look on the face of the full-service pump attendant!

This and much more can be found in the North Carolina Baptist Historical Collection at Z. Smith Reynolds Library.

Looking for Lanneau Pt. 1

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 5:27 pm

Finding the Seige of Wutang, 1926.

I’d like to try to build on earlier scanning work done with the Sophie Lanneau materials in order to bring into DSpace a bona fide “digital collection.” To that end I spent about an hour in the stacks today with one of our student assistants, Paige, trying to find viable content. I was especially interested in finding examples of Lanneau’s published and/or public writing because I felt it would be a good way to quickly build some context around the photographs that have already been scanned. There are hundreds of handwritten letters, which present a very long road to context and metadata.

Here is a photo and a poem I found in the already-scanned Lanneau materials. Lanneau copied down the poem written during the Communist siege of Wutang (1926), translated it and interpreted it. I find it moving how Lanneau takes pains to capture the Chinese meanings and render them fully to English readers.

Poems written by Wang Mei's father during the Siege of Wutang, page 1 of 2.

Photo among Lanneau Papers Box 4 folder 152

[New Zealand] Evening Post, Volume CXII, Issue 77, 28 September 1926, Page 9

SIEGE OF WUCHANG

CITY IN DESPERATE STRAITS,

PEKIN, 27th September. ….Wu Pei Fu continues his retreat. He is now Tegarded as a negligible quantity. The anti-Red campaign is almost solely in the hands of Sun Chuan Fang. Wuchang, besieged for twenty-seven days, holds out, but its resistance is dwindling on account of Wu Pei Fu’s retreat and inability to relieve the city. Twenty-two foreigners are unable to escape. There has been no communication with them for four days. The promise of the opposing armies to release 50,000 or 60,000 women and children has been withheld at the last moment. This is due to the defending general sheltering behind their presence, as the Beds refrain from a heavy shelling of the city, involving the slaughter of non-combatants. Meanwhile, the civilians are dying on all sides of starvation. Soldiers are commandeering the food.

The Things We Find in Our Trunks!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 4:08 pm

I unfolded one of the Hoffman posters this afternoon-wow! It was in 4 parts and takes up my entire office floor! This will be a preservation feat!

Gertrude Hoffman (1880-1955) was a well known dancer and choreographer, who was actually arrested for indecency in 1909 after dancing Salome in New York City. She danced on Broadway and in a variety of Vaudeville shows. Hoffman later developed her own troupe called The Hoffman Girls.

Gertrude Hoffman poster

Encapsulating Baptist Youth Convention photos

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 4:53 pm

Baptist Youth Convention Panoramic Photos

The ever flexible and trustworthy Brittany Newberry has been encapsulating photos. This is a process of sandwiching an flat item between two pieces of mylar. This allows patrons to see these images and not damage them or get them dirty. These Baptist Youth Convention photos are all from the 1920′s and 1930′s and were taken in North Carolina. Audra Yun dug them up from the inexhaustible treasure trove of Special Collections!

Baptist Youth Convention Panoramic Photos

Rare Book of the Month: Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley

Friday, October 8, 2010 3:53 pm

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. London: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones, 1818.

“I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.”

Mary Shelley‘s tale of the chemist Victor Frankenstein and his nameless creature is considered by many to be the first science fiction novel. The story of the brilliant but overreaching Frankenstein and his misunderstood monster has fascinated readers and critics for nearly 200 years.

The origin of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is one of the more famous stories in English literature. The 18-year-old Mary had fled to the continent with her married lover, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. They spent the summer of 1816 near Geneva, where they met the already infamous Lord Byron and his personal physician and traveling companion John William Polidori. The friends had been reading “some volumes of ghost stories, translated from the German and French” and discussing recent experiments by Erasmus Darwin and others with galvanism-the reanimation of dead tissue by electrical current-when one rainy night Byron challenged them each to come up with a ghost story. Mary was the only one to complete her story, the first version of Frankenstein.

As Mary later described it, the story came to her in a vivid waking dream:

“I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion. Frightful it must be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.”

In the preface to the 1831 edition, Mary claimed that she intended her story to be “but of a few pages… a short tale.” But Percy Shelley encouraged her to develop Frankenstein into a full-length novel and seek publication. The manuscript, completed in 1817, was first rejected by Byron’s publisher John Murray, but eventually published on January 1, 1818 by the smaller firm of Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones.

The first edition was issued in three volumes, a form that was becoming the standard for 19th century novels. Mary dedicated the book to her estranged father, the radical philosopher William Godwin.

Mary Shelley’s “hideous progeny” was immediately popular with the reading public. Imitations and dramatic adaptations appeared within a few years of the first edition.

Critical reviews were mixed. The first edition was published anonymously, which led to much speculation about the author’s identity. Even after Mary’s name appeared on the title pages of later editions some readers refused to believe that the book had been written by a young woman. Various critics have argued that Percy Shelley edited the published version of Frankenstein so substantially that he should be considered the true author. But recent studies of the earliest manuscripts, now in possession of the Bodleian Library, vindicate Mary’s assertion that “I certainly did not owe the suggestion of one incident, nor scarcely of one train of feeling, to my husband.”

A second edition of Frankenstein was published in 1831, after the death of Percy Shelley. The 1831 text was considerably altered by Mary Shelley, and until recently it was the most frequently read and reprinted version of the novel.

Wake Forest’s first edition of Frankenstein is part of the Charles H. Babcock collection.

Archival Boxes – we’re crankin’ em out!

Friday, October 8, 2010 8:22 am

Archival Boxes

Brittany Newberry has really taken to making archival boxes. This is a stack of boxes awaiting cataloging that Brittany has made in the past few weeks. These boxes protect fragile materials while making them available to patrons.

Wake Forest founder, Samuel Wait’s traveling chest and walking stick

Thursday, October 7, 2010 1:40 pm

Samuel Wait's traveling chest and walking stick

Wake Forest founder, Samuel Wait’s wood and leather traveling chest and his wooden walking stick-just a small part of the ZSR Library, Special Collections and Archives.


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