Special Collections and Archives is pleased to announce that the David K. Jackson finding aid is now available! Donated by David K. Jackson to ZSR in 1986, this collection complements a larger collection of his materials located at Duke University. Jackson was a scholar and an Edgar Allan Poe enthusiast, something that is clearly reflected in our holdings of his papers. Thanks to Brittany Newberry, a student assistant and aspiring archivist, for completing this project!
This Featured Collection was written by Paige Horton, a student assistant in Special Collections and Archives.
The George Pennell Collection of circus ephemera, photographs, and other materials is an intriguing collection made of a compilation of legal documents, personal letters, pictures, and memorabilia from his time working as an attorney with various circus and carnival companies. Special Collections was gifted the collection from George Pennell’s son, Timothy Pennell, in late 2007.
George Pennell graduated with a degree in law from Wake Forest College and later was a member of the Board of Trustees. His son Timothy Pennell followed in his father’s footsteps. At Wake Forest , Timothy graduated with a B.S. 1955 and a M.D. in 1960. After graduation he went on to work as a surgeon at the Bowman Gray School of Medicine.
George Pennell’s life as an attorney working in the amusement industry had him juggling multiple vocations. Primarily, he was the attorney for owners and their shows. However, Pennell was also hired by circus and carnival companies to “procure some acts which they desire to contract and pay a flat rate.” He organized big fairs with multiple circus companies: “I have had 2 phone calls from two of the Big Shows tentatively wanting Asheville for the coming fall…I am reorganizing this Fair with a new corporate setup,” (Nov. 28, 1950). He also had the “Power of Attorney for rental purposes on the Lot” (Feb. 14, 1951) which allowed the circus to rent land out for the duration of their performances from local owners.
It was obvious to everyone that Pennell loved his job. He admits this to a friend in a personal letter joking, “if I didn’t enjoy being around show people I certainly would never accept employment.” It is also evident that the people Pennell worked for appreciated him just as much. In 1965 Pennell received a certificate of appreciation from Jack Smith (managing director) and Alex Irwin (chairman of the board) of Robbins Bros Circus for “your contribution and service in the furtherance of the outdoor circus industry.”
While the collection is primarily about Pennell’s life as an attorney, it also sheds light on the amusement industry in the mid 20th century. The collection contains a multitude of pictures and circus books giving a well-rounded view of the industry. And, as can be expected with a collection about the circus, there are several entertaining photos of the so-called “assistant freaks,” and a letter explaining the “circus slang.”
The collection also gives an inside look at some of the big name circus’ today, namely Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus. At the time Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey’s show, The Greatest Show on Earth, may or may not have been the greatest show in the world but it was most definitely the largest. According to the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus website, The Greatest Show on Earth consisted of “100 double-length railroad cars and 1,200 employees…[it] was arguably the largest traveling amusement enterprise up to that time.”
Pennell did work with the company for well over a decade. The collection sheds insight into Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus route book, management, and legal contracts. The documents show both the overwhelming success of their show The Greatest Show on Earth and the decline. Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey gave their last tented performance on July 16th, 1956. The collection has a copy of the newspaper clipping the details the ending. In it John Ringling North, head of the circus, says “the tented circus as it now exists is, in my opinion, a thing of the past.” The shut-down was prompted by the audience’s changing tastes but also by “labor troubles, bad weather, and rising costs.”
The George Pennell Collection is a well-rounded collection that has great research potential for Wake Forest students, staff, and faculty. To access the collection students can view the finding aid to get a brief overview or make an appointment with Special Collection to view the collection.
It is with great excitement that we share this “What Are You Working On?” Tessa and Bill are both working on digitizing and creating metadata for the University Archives Photograph Collection (RG10.1). This photograph collection is extremely valuable in content ranging from the Old Campus to modern events. The provenance and organization of this collection are rather unclear, making digitization and online searchability even more desirable. We have only just begun this project, so stay tuned for updates and releases. Thanks to Tessa, Bill, and all of the student assistants who make our work possible!
Special Collections is happy to announce a new exhibit in the small case in the atrium. The exhibit highlights the Samuel and Sally Wait Collection and shows examples of their letters from Wait. It also includes Samuel’s walking stick and reading glasses. Take a look when you get a chance!
Although the Charles Lee Smith papers have had a finding aid online, it has not been complete. Well, it is now! We have added 3 additional boxes and an over-sized folder to the former collection. Many of you may know of Charles Lee Smith from the Charles Lee Smith Library (the books that are housed in the “Rare Book Reading Room”) but we also have some of his correspondence, scrapbooks, printed materials, and clippings.
Take a look at the finding aid!
You may remember another post about Henlee Barnette’s Correspondence series being complete. Well, we have now updated the finding aid to include his second wife, Helen Barnette’s (née Poarch), papers. Henlee Barnette’s first wife died, leaving him with two young sons. He later married Helen and they added a girl and boy to the family.
Helen Barnette is well represented in the previously processed correspondence of her husband, but her series of materials illustrates her achievements in education. She was a well educated and well respected member of the Baptist community. Her series will be an asset to researchers.
Special Collections and Archives is excited to announce the completion of the inventory and finding aid for RG11.1, Audio Recordings: Reel to Reels. This collection consists of over 500 recordings that sometimes take up to five reels per title. This is a massive collection.
Now that we have a comprehensive list and description of what is actually in this Record Group (RG) we can move forward with ways to access the content. We have sent out a small group of reels to be digitized, but it is only a drop in the bucket.
Focusing mainly on the 1960s through 1980s the Audio Recordings provide a glimpse of what was happening on campus during these times of tremendous change. This is a great asset to the University record and we look forward to completing finding aids for all of the audio recording formats in our holdings.
None of this could be possible without the hard work of our student employee Charles, who transcribed paper finding aids and arranged each of the reels. Thanks to Charles!
This post was written by Sarah Appleby, Graduate Student in English and student employee in Special Collections and Archives. Thanks, Sarah!
The material in this collection comes from collaboration between influential writer, Gertrude Stein, and the professional endeavors of three young men at a fledgling press. Conference Press was founded in the 1930s by UCLA students Hal Levy, Gilbert A. Harrison, and William Bayard Okie, who formed the press after meeting writer William Saroyan. In their own words, from a 1940 prospectus:
Once upon a time there were three young college boys who liked the way William Saroyan wrote. So one day they left the campus of the University of California at Los Angeles and drove across town to a Hollywood studio where Saroyan was “writing for pictures.”
Saroyan was very cordial and for a half an hour the four young men (Saroyan was but a couple of years older than his admirers) talked about William Saroyan,writing in general, and the prospects for the U.C.L.A football team. Soon the talk switched to publishing, and before anyone was quite sure what had happened thethree college boys had formed a publishing house and Saroyan had agreed to give them enough stories to make a book.
The Conference Press was born. And Saroyan, bored with Hollywood, was going to have another book published.
A few hectic weeks followed. Saroyan, as the first of four Conference Press vice-presidents (there was no president), helped read galley proofs in the print shop, ate ice cream pie at the nearby drugstore, and sang baritone in the quartet of embryonic publishers they drove home in the early mornings. The three college boy publishers, starting from scratch with absolutely no knowledge of the publishing business, soon found themselves learning by the fast and sometimes bitter method of first-hand, first-time experience.
That first meeting in Saroyan’s office was on November 12. On December 12 the book was in the bookstores, ready to be sold.
That first book was really just a collegiate lark. Now we are out of college,working on our second book, and planning the ones to follow. (CP)
Gilbert Harrison corresponded with Gertrude Stein beginning in 1933—he would continue to do so until her death in 1946—and met her in Pasadena during her 1934-35 tour of America. In 1937, Harrison visited Stein and Alice B. Toklas in Paris. This relationship resulted in the 1940 Conference Press publication of Stein’s work, What are Masterpieces? The young men proudly announce their “new and important” book:
This book is important because it brings into print for the first time the famous Oxford-Cambridge lectures of Miss Stein—Composition as Explanation, An American and France, and What are Masterpieces.
These lectures present, clearly and positively, her aesthetic theories and the basic philosophy underlying her experimental work.
The lectures are supplemented by several illustrative examples of Miss Stein’s creative work—the poem Precosilla, the pen-portraits, Edith Sitwell and Jean Cocteau, a play, A Saint in Seven, from her early period, and a play, Identity, from her most recent period.
Here, at last, is a book which shows that her work has been consistent and logical, that her contribution to American literary thought is strikingly profound. (CP)
That publication is the cornerstone of the collection. The Conference Press collection tells the story of a book and how it was envisioned, edited, constructed, advertised, sold, and received. Featured among the items in the publishers’ archive are the original typescript prepared in part by Alice B. Toklas, galley proofs corrected in Stein’s hand, and preliminary layouts and sketches for the book by designer Ward Richie, himself a prominent figure in Southern California fine printing.
A two-page, handwritten letter from Gertrude Stein praises the publication: “Really and truly it is a quite perfect book.” (Stein’s handwriting is, however, exceedingly difficult to read at times, so proceed with caution). Also found within collection are several pages of purchase orders and correspondence to the gentlemen of Conference Press. The young press published What are Masterpieces? not long after their first book, William Saroyan’s Three Times Three (the “stories” Saroyan gave them to publish while they were still students), and the two works were offered for purchase simultaneously to distributors and interested parties. One could pre-order a copy of Stein’s book for $2; $2.50 once it hit the shelves.
Additionally, the collection houses some miscellaneous Stein ephemera, such as manuscript notes written on the title pages of detective stories, bibliography notes by Robert Bartlett Haas with additions and corrections in Stein’s hand, and theatre programs from productions of Yes is for a Very Young Man, 4 Saints in 3 Acts, and The Mother of Us All (the programs of which are, on their own, interesting and worthwhile artifacts that feature period-specific advertising and marketing).
There are also several copies of articles written by Stein for diverse publications such as The Psychological Review, Cosmopolitan, Saturday Evening Post, and the New York Times, as well as general clippings, reviews, and a few photographs. Throughout, the collection helps provide fascinating insight into both Gertrude Stein’s writing process and product, and a publisher’s endeavors, from inception to publication and reception.
Take a look at the finding aid for the collection!
This is one of our amazing student assistants, Charles. This is Charles’ second year working in Special Collections and we are lucky to have him on our team. Charles is working on a very large project to process the reel to reel collection and publish an Archivists’ Toolkit finding aid. RG11.1 Audio Recordings, Tapes [Reel to Reels] is housed in approximately 40 linear feet of boxes, containing over 500 recordings (some up to 5 tapes per recording). The inventory and finding aid is a first step towards eventual digitization. You would be surprised by some of the speakers that have spoken on this campus: Malcolm Mudderidge, Peter Jennings, Timothy Leary and Dr. Sidney Cohen, Betty Ford, and Elie Weisel to name a few. We thank Charles for all of his hard work and look forward to the finished finding aid.
Documenting Diversity: Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives’ Initiative for Creating a Well-rounded University Record at Wake Forest
This article is cross posted on the Library Gazette.
In celebration of National Archives Month and North Carolina’s Archives Week (October 22-28), ZSR’s Special Collections and Archives is reaching out to invite departments and student groups across campus to deposit their paper and electronic documents in the University Archives. We particularly encourage submissions from groups underrepresented in the Archives, such as WFU’s ethnic minority, LGBTQ, and international communities. We want to identify, locate, secure, and make accessible these important and at-risk historical records.
The Documenting Diversity initiative seeks to raise awareness of the importance of preserving the historical records, especially of under-represented groups. We will provide consultations and guidelines for the transfer of non-current records to the Archives.
Documenting Diversity kicks off with an Archives open house event in the Special Collections Reading Room from 4-5 pm on October 25th. Members of the WFU community will have the opportunity to see the University Archives, drop off materials, view some collections already housed in the archives, and discuss the future of a more inclusive and well-rounded University record. Light refreshments will be served. Participating departments and organizations include
- The Office of Multicultural Affairs
- The Office of Diversity and Inclusion
- The LGBTQ Center
- The Department of Women’s and Gender Studies
- Student Government
We encourage all interested individuals and groups to attend the Archives open house and to contribute appropriate materials to the University Archives. Visit the PDC website to register for the event. Please send questions to Rebecca Petersen firstname.lastname@example.org.