Special Collections & Archives Blog

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Wake Up The World: An Archival Journey

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 9:04 am

Camels

Special Collections & Archives is teaming up with Global Programs & Studies (GPS) to host “Wake Up The World: An Archival Journey.”

This event will take place in the Special Collections & Archives Research Room (ZSR Room 625) on Thursday, October 23 from 4-5.

Join us as we celebrate National Archives Month and the history of Global Programs & Studies! Global Programs & Studies will give a brief program in honor of transferring their records to the University Archives. International and Study Abroad students will share about their experiences and additional information will be available.

The program begins at 4:15.  Refreshments will also be served!

Early Issues of The Wake Forest Student now on DigitalNC

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 4:51 pm

wakeforeststuden01wake-0005

We are happy to announce that the first ten years of The Wake Forest Student is now available as a digital collection via DigitalNC. Begun in 1882 by the Euzelian Society, The Wake Forest Student is a fascinating slice of Wake Forest history. Read more about the DigitalNC project in the Digital North Carolina Blog.

We plan on continuing to work with DigitalNC to have all of the issues digitized in the coming months.

Joseph Severn Watercolors

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 10:15 am

The recently completed Joseph Severn Watercolors digital collection is a beautiful addition to ZSR’s online content as well as another chapter in the story of these materials. Prompted by a researcher and Severn scholar, we have been researching the provenance of the three pencil and watercolor images and have come up with some surprising and entertaining results.

Joseph Severn (1793-1879) was an English portrait and subject artist, working primarily in Rome, Italy. A selection of his paintings can be found today in the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate Britain, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. More notably for our story, Joseph Severn was a personal friend of famous English Poet John Keats. As Keats’ doctors suggested he leave England for a warmer climate, Severn was the only of his group of acquaintances that could, or would, accompany him. Keats and Severn set sail for Rome on the Maria Crowther September 17, 1820, finally arriving in Rome mid-November, 1820. Severn lived with and nursed Keats until his death February 23, 1821. Presumably, it was aboard the Maria Crowther that Joseph Severn produced the watercolors in Special Collections and Archives holdings. Two of the three images have handwritten notations in pencil, including that these were “done on the way to Italy with Keats.” It was this clue that pushed them to the top of our digitization queue, as these materials are both unique and high in research value.

"Sandwich Bay Dorsetshire - These and previous ones done on the way to Italy with Keats"

“Sandwich Bay Dorsetshire – These and previous ones done on the way to Italy with Keats”

The only hint of provenance is a barely legible pencil notation on the back of the mounting paper that reads “Given to Maureen Watson by Arthur Severn[RJ?] son of Joseph Severn (Keats [?]) 19[2?]3″. As our researcher prompted more questions on how this came into our holdings, and who Maureen Watson was, we turned to the Lady Watson Materials series in the Charles Lee Smith finding aid. It was by looking through the Lady Watson materials that we worked backwards to see how Wake Forest acquired the Joseph Severn watercolors.

Lady Maureen Watson, wife of noted British poet Sir William Watson (1892-1935) befriended Charles Lee Smith, Wake Forest College alumnus and rare book benefactor, after she and her daughters fled Ireland to South Africa and then to Asheville, NC in fear of Hitler’s invasion. Charles Lee Smith, a successful businessman and collector of rare books and manuscripts, read of her arrival in Asheville in the Raleigh News and Observer. It was this article that prompted Charles Lee Smith to write Lady Watson a June 10, 1940 letter describing their “accidental meeting about the first of July, 1927.” He continues:

Together with my son and one of his university classmates, I was spending some days at the resorts of the English Lakes. On the day in question, we were on a tramcar en route to take a lake boat when two ladies entered the car and the boys gave them their seats. A lady in the seat behind mine said, “That was beautiful”, and I turned and thanked her for the compliment paid my boys – that lady happened to be you. You remarked that it was not customary in England for men to give women their seats. Then you added, “But in Ireland they do, and I am an Irish girl”.

The letter goes on and so does the correspondence between Lady Watson and Charles Lee Smith. It seemed that they formed a close relationship. Lady Watson eventually visited Charles Lee Smith and his wife in Raleigh. Impressed by his collection of rare and unique books and manuscripts, Lady Watson wrote a November 4th, 1940 letter to Charles Lee Smith offering him some of her prized materials.

For the last few hours – I have gathered together the enclos [sic] oddments – some of them interesting – a very few precious (to me) and am greatly daring – considering my intimacy with your English collection of literary treasures is so small – in asking that you accept them to place in such good company, posterity, will perhaps make a call for all that pertains to my much loved Poet so that even oddments may have a special value. – I am also enclosing letters which bear upon his M.S.S. and where – in these days of TERROR they are in safe keeping – for all Englands [sic] future may (and probably will) lie in this Western Hemisphere

Enclosed with this letter is a list of materials Lady Watson intended to give to Smith, including “sketches by Joseph Severn while taking Keats to Rome.” It seems as if Lady Watson was somehow acquainted with Arthur Severn, son of Joseph Severn. Included in the Charles Lee Smith papers “Lady Watson Materials” is an essay titled “The Arthur Severns’” that is referenced in the same November 4th, 1940 letter.

The short memo by myself on the Severns I thought I would publish one day in the far off future if interest in these things revives – it cast light on a few obscure things – and as we so often stay in the same house as the Severns who inherited the the Ruskin traditions and wealth – it is first hand knowledge…

It is with this letter and supporting “memo” that we find the connection between both the Severn watercolors and Charles Lee Smith, but more importantly the vague mention of a relationship between Lady Watson and Arthur Severn. The implication that they were acquainted is supported by another document in the Charles Lee Smith papers. In a single undated manuscript letter to the Editor of the Times, Joseph Severn’s son Arthur writes a story he conveyed at the opening of the Keats House at Hampstead. It is this same manuscript that includes a quick note written in pencil that reads “Written by Arthur Severn RJ. Given to MW 1925.” This and a photograph of “Mrs. Severn in Brantwood Garden, Coniston” further supports a relationship between Arthur Severn and Lady Watson and another exchange of material from Severn to Watson.

Unfortunately, documentation of how and when Lady Watson received the watercolors does not exist in our holdings. As Lady Watson left Ireland in fear of Hitler’s eventual occupation of Europe, first traveling to South Africa and later on to Asheville, North Carolina, one might assume that she did not have time, money, or resources to bring all of her papers with her on relocation. Lady Watson’s husband died with very little money, leaving Lady Watson with little means probably limiting her ability to keep all of her belongings. A Raleigh News and Observer clipping from June 9, 1940 sheds a bit more light on Lady Watson and her daughters’ departure from Ireland and eventual settling in Asheville, North Carolina.

Geraldine disappeared to make coffee while Rhona reiterated her mother’s belief that Hitler will conquer not only Britain but the whole of Europe, that the continent will henceforth be known as Germania and that the United States will be the only safe place in the world. Lady Watson further believes that Hitler will be satisfied with South Africa, and will not invade our shores. For three years in Capetown, South Africa, Lady Watson gave English lessons to German refugees, where her brother is aide to General Jan Christiaan Smuts, vice-premier of South Africa.

It is the same article that describes Sir William Watson’s hardships and eventual death in August 1935 in “near-poverty in a Sussex nursing home.” Sir William and Lady Watson’s daughters explain to the journalist their desire to make good coffee as “We must have money. We’re going to open a pie and coffee shop.” It is with this in mind that we consider the later November 4th letter offering Charles Lee Smith some of her materials for safe keeping.

Had Lady Watson held onto the Severn watercolors, it is probable that they would not have survived. A very rushed and brief postcard dated March 15, 1943 reports bad news for Lady Watson.

All our possessions burned out in 7 minutes we are pulverized in mind but it’s only onward. ____ We can go! Our love to both- Maureen Watson and Geraldine.

Luckily, the Joseph Severn Watercolors were not among Lady Watson’s possessions destroyed in the fire. Charles Lee Smith had already taken possession of these materials and was in the process of donating all of his materials to a “reputable institution.” Although Lady Watson did not know what the institution was, we now know he was speaking of Wake Forest College. In a February 3, 1942 letter to Lady Watson, Charles Lee Smith writes:

Cora and I were glad to receive your January letter concerning the Sir William Watson items, etc. which you gave me for my collection. I assure you that members of your family and all others who have proper credentials shall have access to them for all time.

Now I have a secret to confide you. I have legally donated my library and collection of letters, documents, and manuscripts to an important educational institution, which will place them in a room (suitably and finely furnished) of its fire-proof library building, to be kept perpetually as the Charles Lee Smith Unit, no item to be sold, exchanged, or given away…

I am not at liberty to say any more about this matter now, and I am confident you will personally hold in strictest confidence what I am making known to you.

Although C.L. Smith began negotiations to donate his library to Wake Forest in 1941, the presentation of the Charles Lee Smith Library did not take place until March 13, 1958. Unfortunately, Charles Lee Smith died in 1951, but did work with E.E. Folk on A Catalogue of the Library of Charles Lee Smith, published by the Wake Forest College Press in 1950.

The Joseph Severn Watercolors are a wonderful example of the exciting and unique materials in our manuscript collections. We are especially pleased that they have been digitized and available online for patrons to view and study. Enjoy!

Exhibit Grand Opening and Reception with Ken Bennett

Thursday, August 21, 2014 2:49 pm

Ken Bennett Exhibit POster

Mark you calendars for two upcoming events.

Exhibit Grand Opening, Thursday, August 28th 4:30-5:30

Stop by for cookies and punch, and see the new exhibit in Special Collections & Archives: Worth a Thousand Words: Ken Bennett’s Photographs of Z. Smith Reynolds Library

Reception with Ken Bennett, Wednesday, October 15th 4:30-6:00

Special Collections & Archives will be hosting the event with the photographer and curator, Ken Bennett. Light refreshments will be served.

Both events will take place in the Special Collections & Archives Research Room (ZSR625).

Worth a Thousand Words: Ken Bennett’s Photographs of ZSR

Friday, August 1, 2014 11:20 am

Ken Bennett Exhibit POster

Special Collections & Archives is honored to host a selection of photography from University Photographer Ken Bennett. The exhibit will be up in the Special Collections & Archives Research Room (ZSR 625) through December 31st.

Artist’s Statement:

The photographs in this exhibit all have a common theme: they include the Z. Smith Reynolds library in some way, either as the subject, the location, or the background.

On one level, I make these photographs simply as part of my job as the university staff photographer. But it goes beyond that on a personal level: the ZSR library inspires me in the way that few other places do. Rising above the campus, the cupola is a recognizable symbol of Wake Forest, visible from many locations in Winston-Salem, and it makes an excellent subject as well as a background for portraits. The interior spaces of the library, bustling with student activity, are a wonderful place to find those small, intimate moments that make candid people photography so compelling. The ZSR library is a primary center of academic and student life on campus, and as such is the first place I go looking for new photographs, or when I want inspiration.

I’m now in my eighteenth year of documenting life at Wake Forest, which provides a unique long-term perspective and the opportunity to go back to the same places many times for new photographs. One of my first successful images here was of the cupola at dusk, shot in 1997, and over the years I have been fortunate to explore changes in the library itself, as well as the students and other members of the community who inhabit it.

Please drop in Monday-Friday, 9-5 to take a look at this stunning exhibit.  Please read more about the two events planned for the exhibit.

More Processed Collections!

Thursday, July 3, 2014 2:59 pm

Special Collections and Archives has been busy this first Summer session! With the help of Kristin Weisse and Martha Fulton, we have been processing (and re-processing) lots of collections. This includes appraisal and rehousing. We are thrilled to publish finding aids for the following collections:

David L. Smiley Papers

Percival Perry Papers

Doris Walters Papers

Alliance of Baptists Records

Maya Angelou Film and Theater Collection

James M. Dunn Papers

Merrill Gray Berthrong Records

Each of these collections has a tremendous amount of research value and we are sure that with the publication of these finding aids users will now have better access to our holdings. Please take a look at these finding aids and learn a little bit more about our collections!

Religion in North Carolina Project News

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 9:55 am

Monique Swaby

The following post was written by Monique Swaby, Religion in North Carolina Project graduate assistant.

My name is Monique Swaby and I am the graduate assistant working with research and outreach for the Religion in North Carolina Project at Wake Forest University’s Department of Special Collections and Archives. I am a graduate of Smith College, 06’ and received my Master of Education from the University of Vermont, 11’. Currently I am working on my Master of Divinity at Wake Forest School of Divinity, 15’. From there I will go on to create a faith-based non-profit that focuses on spiritual formation, community service and teaching in Winston-Salem. I believe this collection will be a great resource to my current and future endeavors for community collaboration and historical knowledge. Some of my work with this project includes producing materials to highlight items in the collection, as well as offering presentations on Religion in NC and its uses to groups at WFU and its neighboring community.

The digital collection for the Religion in NC project is a collaborative effort between Duke University, UNC- Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest University. Religion in NC is federally funded through a grant provided by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and administered by the State Library of North Carolina. This project is entering its third year of funding and will continue to enhance the digital collection of religious and cultural life in North Carolina. What makes this database so special is that it is the only one of its kind. It specifically focuses on one state’s religious life where a multitude of primary resources can be found right at your fingertips through a single collection. This project has gathered primary resources through thousands of local and state-wide religious institutions such as historical foundations, churches, individuals, and library systems at Harvard University, Elon College, the Charlotte Mecklenberg Library, and our very own Wake Forest Baptist Historical Collection to name a few.

So, who exactly can utilize our digital collection and what treasures of historical data can you find? I’m glad you asked. Our collection houses materials that include conference proceedings, meeting minutes, autobiographies, newsletters, serial publications, and sermons. There is also a growing number of ephemeral works such as cookbooks, event programs, and directories. One of the most intriguing aspects of this collection are the personal stories that are recorded through letters and other materials from individual life. Anyone interested in personal, professional, or social history of religion in a vast array of communities can find these resources helpful. The collection may also appeal to anyone who is interested in how technology is being used to document our state’s rich cultural and religious history such as historians, genealogists, librarians, religious groups, teachers, and students. The Religion in NC portal can be reached through our website  or directly thought the Internet Archive hosted site. Our goal is to help preserve and transfer the cultural and religious history of our state. With your help we can continue to add to this collection as well if you have any materials you may wish to add. We hope you will enjoy this great resource for many of your personal and professional needs. History is always worth preserving and the religious life of North Carolinians is no exception. Enjoy! If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact us at Special Collections and Archives…

Read more about the Religion in North Carolina Project on their blog and collection highlights by Monique

Beneath the binding of an astronomical treatise, scraps of a Wake Forest campus publication revealed

Thursday, June 12, 2014 1:23 pm

How did a literary magazine from Wake Forest wind up in the Smithsonian Libraries’ Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology? Until recently, neither the Dibner Library nor Special Collections & Archives at Wake Forest University knew that it had.

In a post on the Smithsonian Libraries Unbound blog, Vanessa Haight Smith (Head of Smithsonian Libraries’ Preservation Services) showcases instances of printer’s waste incorporated into book bindings — including an example of printer’s waste that we can identify as the front and back covers of an issue of the Wake Forest Student, the campus’s literary magazine.

Volume 3 of the Mécanique céleste held by Smithsonian LIbraries

With its binding removed, the lining of the spine of the Mécanique céleste is revealed as scrap paper from Volume 18, Number 3 of the Wake Forest Student. Image courtesy of Smithsonian Libraries.

Book bindings often incorporated printer’s waste. Binding structures require paper, scrap paper was often leftover from the printing process, and sometimes the same shop served as both a printer and a bindery. Unlike printer’s waste used as endpapers, Smith notes, “Waste used as spine linings is only visible when books are damaged in a way that exposes what lies underneath the covering.” In this case, the front cover and first section of text of the volume were detached, so the volume was sent to the Smithsonian Libraries’ Book Conservation Lab for treatment, and there the lining of its spine was revealed. What’s unusual and fun about this instance of printer’s waste is that we can tell exactly what it is — Volume 18, Issue 3 of the Wake Forest Student. Consequently, these scraps of printer’s waste provide tantalizingly specific clues as to the book’s provenance.

The book in question is the third volume of a later edition of the Mécanique céleste by French mathematician and astronomer Pierre Simon, marquis de Laplace. (View the item record in the Smithsonian Libraries’ catalog.) The Mécanique céleste translated Newton’s Principia from English into French and re-framed the Principia‘s understanding of classical mechanics from geometry to differential calculus, raising new scientific questions in the process. This particular edition of the Mécanique céleste is an English translation from the French original and was printed in four volumes from 1829–1839. So what can the appearance of the Wake Forest Student in its binding tell us about this particular copy of the Mécanique céleste?

To find out, I turned to the complete run of the Wake Forest Student — later titled simply The Student — held by the Special Collections & Archives here at Wake Forest. (View the item record in the ZSR Library Catalog.) The date of the issue was not visible in the binding waste itself, but by consulting our collections, we can date that particular issue to December 1898 and speculate that the copy of the Mécanique céleste now held by the Dibner Library was probably re-bound around the turn of the century. We may never find out what bindery had scraps of the Wake Forest Student lying around with which to line the spine of the Mécanique céleste now held by the Dibner Library. Perhaps the same shop that printed the Wake Forest Student also bound the Mécanique céleste, and perhaps that printer-bindery was located in or near Raleigh, NC since Wake Forest College was located in Wake Forest, NC at the time. Or to entertain a more fanciful supposition, perhaps the binder of the Mécanique céleste was a Wake Forest alumnus who received the Wake Forest Student on a subscription basis.

Even without identifying the specific bindery, however, we know more than we did before. Not bad for a day’s sleuthing!

Buildings & Roads of WFU: A Student Perspective

Friday, May 16, 2014 9:26 am

Bostwick Residence Hall

Did you ever wonder who Jasper Memory was? Or want to know more about Bostwick Residence Hall? We have got the online exhibit for you!

Special Collections & Archives is excited to release Buildings & Roads of Wake Forest University: A Student Perspective on our University’s History. This project started last summer when John Walsh, Class of 2014, worked part-time in Special Collections. His charge was to research and write-up the history of how or why buildings and roads on campus were named. The result is an engaging narrative of the campus landmarks we see every day. Enthusiastically written and complemented by the photography of Ken Bennett, Special Collections & Archives hopes that students, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors all utilize this exhibit to learn more about campus and have a little fun. Many thanks to Kevin Gilbertson and his expertise for putting this online exhibit together.

Lots of New Finding Aids Online!

Friday, May 2, 2014 1:05 pm

Special Collections and Archives has been very actively processing and re-processing collections over the past months and we are pleased to share the finding aids with our public!

As part of our collections overhaul and shifting project, manuscript collections 1-11 have been reviewed, processed, and have had finding aids published:

Account Books, Fayetteville, Cumberland County, N.C. 

John Thomas Alderman Papers

John Mason Peck Letters

Walter Eugene Daniel Papers

John Berry Papers

William Phillips Biddle Papers

Issac Winston Bill of Sale to L.G. Ligen

Charles Jefferson Black Papers

Henry Nathan Blanchard Papers

Lawrence O’Bryan Branch Papers

Iverson Lewis Brookes Papers

In addition to our ongoing, systematic processing, we have also processed some collections “out of order” including:

Secrest Artists’ Series

Reverend Doctor James Irvine Murphy Papers

Arthur Samuel and Pauline P. Gillespie Papers

William Elwyn and Jessie Swann Crocker Papers

Charles Tolbert Wilkinson Papers

I recommend taking a look at the finding aids- there are some very interesting materials in these collections!


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