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Featured Collection: George Pennell Collection of Circus Ephemera, Photographs, and Papers

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 9:17 am

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.

Clarence Herbert New Collection announced in Archival Outllook

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 1:04 pm

CHN Archival Outlook

In the November-December 2012 issue of The Society of American Archivists publication, Archival Outlook it was announced that the Clarence Herbert New (1862-1933) Collection had been processed. Now, the world knows. New was a prolific writer and world traveler. The C. H. New Collection is very rich with albums of photographs, coats of arms, maps from around the world, scrapbooks of world voyages and of course New’s writings in The Blue Book and Free Lances in Diplomacy. The finding aid may be explored here.

What Are You Working On?

Thursday, January 24, 2013 1:23 pm

Tessa and Bill working in the digitization lab

 

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!

The Helen Barnette series is complete!

Friday, November 2, 2012 1:39 pm

Helen Barnette

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.

RG11.1, Audio Recordings: Reel to Reels Processing is Complete!

Friday, November 2, 2012 10:50 am

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.

Box 16 of 26

Audio Recordings in the stacks

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!

The amazing Charles

Featured Collection: Gertrude Stein and Conference Press

Thursday, October 25, 2012 3:17 pm

This post was written by Sarah Appleby, Graduate Student in English and student employee in Special Collections and Archives. Thanks, Sarah!

Stein in Richmond, VA 1934

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)

Front page from original typescript

From edited galley proofs

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)

Layout art

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.

Ward Ritchie painting

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.

From 1940 prospectus

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).

Manuscript fragments

Theatre program

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!

The Wayne E. Oates Papers processing is complete!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 12:03 pm

Special Collections and Archives is pleased to announce the completion of the Wayne E. Oates papers. Thanks to the hard work of Cindy Good and Sarah Appleby, this 14 linear foot collection has been arranged and described, and the finding aid can be seen here. This collection contains the professional and personal papers, sermons, correspondence, and works from other authors compiled by Wayne Oates. Professional papers include lectures, outlines, presentations, bibliographies, research notes, and manuscripts of articles relating to the field of pastoral care and counseling.

ABOUT WAYNE OATES

Wayne Oates (1917-1999) produced an extensive, pioneering body of work and research in the field of pastoral care and counseling. Oates developed the “trialogue” form of pastoral counseling, described as a conversation between the person being counseled, the counselor, and the Holy Spirit. He is also responsible for coining the term “workaholic”.

Born into a rural community of Greenville, SC, Wayne Oates grew up in poverty. Abandoned by his father, he began working alongside his mother at the cotton mills at a young age. At 14, he was recognized as exceptional and chosen to serve as a page in the United States Senate. He would go on to pursue much more education; he was a graduate of Mars Hill Junior College and Wake Forest University, and received his Ph.D. in Psychology of Religion from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He served as a pastor in churches in North Carolina and Kentucky.

In 1974, Oates joined the faculty at the University of Louisville Medical School. Combining his knowledge of theology and behavioral science, his role at the school helped medical students learn how to incorporate the spiritual needs of their patients in a clinical setting. Noted for his great compassion and ability to empathize, Wayne Oates mentored and encouraged numerous people in healing positions. In 1984 the American Psychiatric Association honored him with the Oskar Pfister Award for his contributions to the relationship between religion and psychiatry.

He and his wife, Pauline, were residents of Louisville, KY until his death in 1999.

Featured Collection: Fries Woolen Mill Diary (MS39)

Monday, August 6, 2012 12:32 pm

The Fries Woolen Mill Diary is story within a story. Two men are responsible for this one folder “collection” being a part of the WFU archives, Francis Levin Fries and Wallace Barger Goebel. Separated by almost one hundred years, Fries was instrumental in the creation of the original diary and Goebel is responsible for the copy within our collection. The diary is a wealth of information about Salem as a mill and textile town.

http://www.digitalforsyth.org/photos/7492

[The following is transcribed from what we believe is Goebel's narrative and research on Fries and the diary]

Francis Levin Fries was born October 17, 1812, in Salem, NC. He was the eldest child of John Christian William Fries and Johanna Elizabeth, maiden name Nissen. He was educated in the boys’ school of Salem, and then at Nazareth Hall, in Nazareth, PA. In 1836 the Salem Cotton Manufacturing Company was organized in Salem, and Mr. Fries was employed as its Agent. Though without and previous experience whatever, he went North, studied cotton mill machinery, bought what was needed, shipped it to Salem, installed it, and ran the mill for nearly four years.

In the fall of 1839 Francis Fries began to make plans for a small wool-mill, to be conducted on his own account. Fortunately for the historian, it was then still the rule in Salme that the new enterprises must have the approval of the Aufseher Cellegium, and therefore the Minutes of that Board, furnish interesting information concerning the preliminaries. On Oct. 25, 1839, the Minutes of the Collegium recorded that Francis Fries and his father, William Fries, were planning to build a small woolen mill on a  lot back of William Fries’s home-place, that is on the west side of what is now South Liberty (then Salt) street. Members of the Collegium were favorably inclined, but a few days later the neighbors entered a protest, basing it on their fear of the smoke from the steam-engine, and because he planned to use slave labor in the mill. On Nov. 21st the Collegium had a conference with Mr. Fries, in which these objections were freely discussed. Fries agreed to build his factory on an out-lot at the corner of the new Shallowford Street and Salt Street, thereby removing the smoke from the center of town. There was a rule in Salem dating from the action of the Congregation Council in February, 1820, that no slave might be taught a “trade or profession” that is a handicraft of any kind, no matter whether the slave belonged to the ma teaching him or was hired from another. This applied only to the residents in the town of Salem, and from the wording of the resolution was evidently intended to prevent competition with the white artisans of the community. In the conference with Fries in 1839, the Collegium concluded that it would not be teaching a slave a trade to let him run a machine, and therefore would not establish a dangerous precedent. It was noted that Fries did not expect to establish a large factory, because not a great deal of suitable wool was raised in the State, so not many slaves would be employed there, and he promised to give bond that if the slaves made trouble, he would send them away, and if in the course of years the factory became a nuisance he would give it up. The Collegium met again on the following day and decided that as the weaving would be done on William Fries’ farm, outside the town, the men running the machines would rate a “day laborers”, and so no precedent would be established.

The lease system still prevailed in Salem, and on Feb. 3, 1840, a Lease was signed,  giving Fries possession of a lot on the north-west corner of what are now Brookstown Avenue and South Liberty Street. As the factory developed this lot proved to be too small, and adjacent land was added several times.

From the beginning Mr. Fries was assisted in the wool mill by his younger brother Henry w. Fries, who became a partner in the business in March, 1846. Among the papers of the firm of F. & H. Fries there is a small mill diary, beginning abruptly on April 13, 1840 and setting forth the details of what was virtually a pioneer enterprise. It presents a vivid picture of the industry, tireless energy, and versatility of the owner; and of his treatment of his slaves, his “boys”, of whom he expected readiness to follow his lead in work, but for who he would close the mill when the weather was right for a rabbit hunt, or when a circus was in town.

During the Civil War the Fries Mill was run for the government, making the “Confederate Gray” cloth used for the soldiers. When the war opened, Mr. Fries was in poor health, and died in August, 1863. His brother ran the mill until the sons of Mr. Fries grew to maturity, the name continued unchanged. Henry W. Fries never married, and remained head of the firm until his death in November, 1902, at the age of seventy seven.

After the Civil War, Henry W. Fries helped a number of the slaves formerly belonging to the family to buy homes of their own. Some remained in the employ of the firm, or individual members thereof, until death, although in the wool mill they were largely replaced by white labor.

http://www.digitalforsyth.org/photos/9614

The original Fries Woolen Mill Diary is part of the Francis Levin Fries Papers, 1850-1925 held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Wallace Barger Goebel graduated from Wake Forest in 1925 and published A History of Manufactures in North Carolina Before 1860 in 1926, the same years handwritten on the title page of his transcribed diary. It can be deduced that the transcription and accompanying summarized biographical and historical note at the beginning of WFU’s copy of the diary was part of Goebel’s book research.

Described as the “Lady’s Man” in the Howler’s Prophecy for the Class of 1925, Goebel became an author, a professor of history and political science, and an archivist at the U.S. National Archives and Records Service. Although Goebel’s papers were acquired by the Archives in 1988, it is believed that the Fries Woolen Mill Diary (MS39) has been in the collection since the late 1920′s. Goebel has made a lasting impression on Wake Forest. He not only provided the Archives with this account of Winston-Salem history and his own personal papers, he also has a scholarship fund established in his name here at Wake Forest. The Wallace Barger Goebel Scholarship is based on ability and need, with first preference to a student interested in literature, second preference to a student interested in history, and third preference to a student enrolled in the premedical program.

The Henlee H. Barnette correspondence series finding aid is online!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 4:57 pm

Special Collections and Archives is pleased to announce that the first segment of the Henlee H. Barnette papers finding aid is now online! The correspondence series of the Barnette papers fills 27 boxes, and spans the years 1943-1996. It gives great insight to Dr. Barnette’s life while he was a student, father, minister, professor, and social activist. Some correspondents of note include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Olin Binkley, John Claypool, John Howard Griffin, Elton Trueblood and Millard Fuller.

Henlee Hulix Barnette was a 1940 graduate of Wake Forest College who became a professor, Baptist minister, and outspoken advocate for social change. One of the most progressive Baptists of his time, Barnette worked to advance the civil rights movement, spoke out adamantly against the Vietnam war, and spent some of his early years of ministry in one of the most dangerous areas of inner-city Louisville, living in and serving the people of the Haymarket neighborhood.

Vicki and Rebecca will continue to process the other parts of the collection, and announcements will be made when new series have been added to the finding aid. This is such a rich collection of materials that researchers will find great insight and information in this first section of correspondence, as well as additional series that are to come.

See the finding aid here: Henlee Barnette Papers (MS 474)

The Clarence Herbert New and Robert Warrington New Papers finding aid is now available online!

Thursday, June 28, 2012 3:53 pm

Special Collections and and Archives is thrilled to announce that the Clarence Herbert New and Robert Warrington New papers have been processed! You are able to access the finding aid online and explore the extensive and varied collecting habits of both Clarence and his son Robert. The Clarence Herbert New collection of Theater actor cabinet cards is a large portion of the digital project  Theater Actor Prints and Photograph Collection. In addition to cabinet photographs, C.H. and Robert New collectively contributed over 120 boxes (over 100 linear feet) of materials consisting of manuscripts, film posters, travel photographs, maps, scrapbooks, research materials, correspondence, art, and prints. It is well worth taking a look at the finding aid to simply read the biographical note on C.H. New. He led a very interesting life that included around the world travel, shipwrecks, and losing his arm to a bear in a New York City zoo! Not to mention his fame as the writer of “Diplomatic Free Lance,” which some critics have called the longest novel ever written. This is a tremendously interesting collection and we hope that researchers find the New’s appreciation for collecting and asset to their research.


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