Special Collections & Archives Blog

In the 'General' Category...

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou (1969)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 12:39 pm

angelou dust jacket

Dust jacket from first edition of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ZSR Special Collections

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) never intended to write an autobiography. In 1968 she was active in the civil rights movement and had a busy and successful career as a poet, playwright, performer, and educator. A recent project–  writing, producing, and hosting the PBS series Blacks, Blues, Black– had brought her to California, where she met Jules and Judy Feiffer. The Feiffers, immediately taken with Angelou’s fascinating history and storytelling flair, contacted Random House editor Robert Loomis. With help from James Baldwin, Loomis persuaded the initially reluctant Angelou to write a memoir. The result was Angelou’s most widely read book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

angelou title page

First edition title page, ZSR Special Collections

Published in 1969, the book chronicles Angelou’s life from the age of three, when she and her brother Bailey were sent to live with their paternal grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas.

angelou dust jacket flap 1

angelou dust jacket flap 2

Dust jacket description from the first edition of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ZSR Special Collections

The book ends with Maya becoming a mother at age 16. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is dedicated to her son, Guy Johnson.

angelou dedication page

Dedication page from the first edition of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ZSR Special Collections

The book was a critical and popular success, and it brought Angelou to the attention of national media as an important new voice in American literature.

Angelou eventually wrote five more autobiographical works.

angelou autobiographies

Three of Angelou’s later autobiographical works, ZSR Special Collections

She also continued to write poetry, dramatic works, and screenplays. In 1978 Angelou worked on an adaptation of  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings for the CBS television movie version of her memoir.

angelou algonquin notes

Maya Angelou’s introductory notes for the screenplay of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, on Algonquin Hotel stationery. From the Maya Angelou Film and Theater Collection, ZSR Library Special Collections and Archives.

angelou caged bird script MS

An early draft of the screenplay for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. From the Maya Angelou Film and Theater Collection, ZSR Library Special Collections and Archives.

In 1982 Maya Angelou accepted the position of Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.  A beloved and influential presence on the Wake Forest campus,  Angelou made numerous appearances in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library. The Rare Books Collection holds a comprehensive collection of her works. And in 2001 Angelou donated to the library an extensive collection of manuscript materials relating to her career in the performing arts. The Maya Angelou Film and Theater Collection now resides in ZSR’s Special Collections and Archives. Materials relating to Angelou’s literary career are housed at the Shomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library.

angelou inscription

Inscription by Maya Angelou from ZSR Special Collections’ first edition of The Heart of a Woman.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings has never been out of print since its first publication nearly 50 years ago. The book has inspired countless readers with its story of resilience in the face of adversity. Angelou herself, in a 1990 interview with George Plimpton, commented that

There is, I hope, a thesis in my work: we may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. That sounds goody-two-shoes, I know, but I believe that a diamond is the result of extreme pressure and time. Less time is crystal. Less than that is coal. Less than that is fossilized leaves. Less than that it’s just plain dirt. In all my work, in the movies I write, the lyrics, the poetry, the prose, the essays, I am saying that we may encounter many defeats—maybe it’s imperative that we encounter the defeats—but we are much stronger than we appear to be and maybe much better than we allow ourselves to be.

Maya Angelou touched many lives and played many roles during her 86 years. But her first love was language, and her literary works, Caged Bird foremost among them, are the durable gemstones that will be her legacy for future generations.

Grant Funding Supports Research at ZSR Special Collections and Archives

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 1:27 pm

Applications are now being accepted for 2014-15 Special Collections and Archives research grants. The Provost’s Grant for Library Research and the ZSR Travel Grants provide financial support for visiting researchers who wish to use Wake Forest’s manuscripts, rare books, or archival collections.

Since its inception in 2009, the ZSR Special Collections and Archives grants program has brought researchers from all over the world to the Wake Forest campus. Recent recipients of Provost’s Grants include Dr. Edward Blum, San Diego State University; Dr. Wendy Raphael Roberts, University at Albany SUNY; Dr. Saverio Giovacchini, University of Maryland at College Park; and Dr. Alan Libert, University of Newcastle, Australia.

The ZSR research grants have an obvious benefit for the researchers who receive financial support. But the program also has a lasting impact on the Wake Forest community, as the visiting scholars share their projects and discoveries while on campus. Although many of our grant recipients are college and university faculty, our researchers have also included students, journalists, authors, and documentary filmmakers. We welcome applications from researchers whose projects make creative use of our special collections and archival resources.

For more information about the library research grants, please contact Megan Mulder, Special Collections Librarian, at mulder@wfu.edu or 336-758-5091.

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.

Bianca Artom Collection Finding Aid

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 1:00 pm

A new finding aid is available for the Bianca Artom Collection. Mrs. Artom and her husband, Dr. Camillo Artom, fled fascist Italy in 1939. They came to Wake Forest, NC where he had been hired as chair of the biochemistry department at Wake Forest College Medical School. He was a world-renowned chemist whose study of lipid metabolism,  atherosclerosis, and the effect of phosphorus in the body was ground-breaking. They moved to Winston-Salem in 1941 when the medical school relocated to partner with North Carolina Baptist Hospital.  Dr. Artom retired in 1961 and died in 1970. Casa Artom was named in honor of the Artoms, and in 1975, Bianca began teaching Italian language and literature at Wake Forest. She taught until 1990, and also served as the summer director for the Casa Artom study abroad program for many years before she died in 1994. The finding aid for her collection is at this link: Bianca Artom Collection.

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!

New Finding Aid

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 2:25 pm

A new finding aid is available from Special Collections for the Baptist Women in Ministry of North Carolina Collection. This group has existed since 1984, and helps to support and connect Baptist women in North Carolina who serve in a ministerial capacity. This collection has materials documenting the beginning of the group, as well as those from following years which show how it has grown and changed. Photos, audio interviews, and newsletters show the rich history of the people who have been and still are involved, as well as the projects, ministries and efforts that they have been part of over the years. For more details, you can see finding aid here: Baptist Women in Ministry of North Carolina.

The ABC’s of Special Collections and Archives: D is for…

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 1:28 pm

D is for…

Dolmen Press

Dolmen Press Collection

Founded in 1951 by Liam Miller and his wife Josephine Brown, the press operated in Dublin until Miller’s death in 1987. It was founded as a way to provide a publishing outlet for Irish poetry. It heavily featured the work of Irish artists. The scope of the press grew to include prose literature by Irish authors as well as a broad range of critical works about Irish literature and theater.

The founder, Liam Miller, was born April 24, 1924 in Mountrath, Ireland. He was educated in Ireland at Ballyfin College and University College Dublin, where he studied architecture.  In addition to his role with the Dolmen Press, Miller was very active in the Dublin community. An avid philatelist, he served for many years on the Irish Department of Posts and Telegraphs’ Philatelic Advisory Committee. Passionate about live theater, Miller helped revive the Abbey Theatre and the Abbey’s Peacock Theatre. He became director of the Lantern Theatre, and frequently used his architectural skills to design and create sets for the Lantern’s productions. An authority on Yeats and Irish theater, he wrote and spoke frequently on these topics.

Dolmen Press Collection

This collection consists of information relating to the publications and printing jobs of the Dolmen Press, the administrative and financial documents of its operation, and the design work and personal papers of Liam Miller. For more on the Dolmen Press and its founder, Liam Miller, check out the Dolmen Press finding aid and visit the Special Collections and Archives research room for a more in depth look at the this extensive collection.

D is also for…Duke Tobacco Company Cigarette Cards

In the late 19th century, colorful cigarette cards were an ideal way to advertise the use of tobacco, an increasingly popular and widespread diversion in the U.S. The earliest cards using single images dated from 1877. Over time as popularity escalated, series of images were produced to promote the sale of cards to collectors and traders. Cartophily, or the hobby of collecting cards, was born.

Duke Cigarette Cards Collection

The early success of cigarette cards led many companies to adopt this new advertising method. Subjects ranged from U.S. Presidents to cowboys to baseball. With the use of color lithography and mechanized printing, mass production of the cards was possible. The digital images in this collection represent cigarette cards dating from 1888. One series, “Terrors of America,” depicts young boys in various pursuits. Another series, “Shadows,” depicts a variety of people with caricatures in their shadows. The cards were issued as advertisement for Duke Brothers and Company, Durham, N.C., and packed in Duke’s cigarettes. For more information on these cigarette cards see the finding aid for the Duke Tobacco Company Cigarette Cards and visit the Special Collections and Archives research room to view them.
Duke Cigarette Cards Collection

 

And D is for…Le terze rime di Dante

photo 1

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) or simply known as Dante, was a major Italian poet. He is known for his work The Divine Comedy and is known as il Sommo Poeta (The Supreme Poet) in Italy and is considered the Father of the Italian Language. The rare books collection’s copy of Le terze rime di Dante was published in 1502 in Italian. It was published in Venice by Aldus Manutius or Aldo Manuzio, who founded the Aldine Press. It’s the first small format edition of Dante, all earlier editions are in folio. This copy has bookplates of John Ruskin, F. Hayward Joyce, and John Saks and the label of William Salloch on back free endpaper. To look at and see more of Dante’s works please visit the Special Collections and Archives research room. You can learn more about Dante, Minutius, and Aldine Press by reading a post by Megan from last year.

Le terze rime di Dante

Get ecstatic for E…

This ABC’s of Special Collections blog post was written by student assistant Brittany Newberry.

Hoffmann Collection in the News

Thursday, March 13, 2014 3:49 pm

The Gertrude and Max Hoffmann Collection is enjoying the limelight once again. An article by ZSR Special Collections Librarian Megan Mulder about the collection is featured in the Winter 2014 issue of Performance!, the publication of the Performing Arts Section of the Society of American Archivists.

The entire publication is available in PDF format here.  Don’t miss the cover photo of Max, Gertrude, and their photogenic cat!

Gertrude Hoffmann was a dancer, choreographer, and manager of her own dance troupe;  her husband Max was a ragtime composer and musician. Their papers, now part of ZSR’s Special Collections, include music manuscripts, photographs, posters, correspondence, and other materials– many of which are now available as digital collections. The Performance! article describes the Hoffmanns’ colorful careers in early 20th century vaudeville and on international tours, and also explains how the collection came to reside at Wake Forest.

For more information about the Hoffmann papers at ZSR Library, please contact Special Collections and Archives.

“Finding A Piece of History” in Wake Forest Magazine

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 11:08 am

We are so excited about the story published in Wake Forest Magazine on Friday! Read all about our discovery of a Philomathesian banner and our plans for it in the future in Kerry King’s article “Finding A Piece of History.”

A Northern Christmas, by Rockwell Kent (1941)

Thursday, December 5, 2013 4:34 pm

A Northern Christmas, by Rockwell Kent, was an American Artists Group gift book for 1941

A Northern Christmas by Rockwell Kent was an American Artists Group gift book for 1941

American artist Rockwell Kent spent Christmas 1918 in a small cabin on an island off the south coast of Alaska. More than twenty years later he recalled the experience in words and woodcut illustrations in a holiday gift book titled A Northern Christmas.

Title page from A Northern Christmas

Title page from A Northern Christmas

The small book was published by the American Artists Group, an organization founded in 1935 for the purpose of providing art for the masses and, in the process, creating a market for artists to earn a living during the difficult years of the Depression. Many prominent artists were members, including Edward Hopper, John Sloan, Thomas Hart Benton, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Max Weber, and Eugene Speicher. The American Artists Group published small monographs and offered unsigned engravings, lithographs, and woodcut prints for sale at very affordable prices. But the group was perhaps best  known for its yearly offerings of Christmas cards designed by its artists. In 1941 they also began a series of small holiday gift books, of which A Northern Christmas was the first.

Frontispiece illustration from A Northern Christmas

Frontispiece illustration from A Northern Christmas

Let it snow or rain and grow dark at midday! The better shall be our good Christmas cheer within. This is the true Christmas land. The day should be dark, the house further overshadowed by the woods, tall and black. And there in the midst of that somber, dreadful gloom the Christmas tree should blaze in glory unrivaled by moon or sun or star.

Rockwell Kent, A Northern Christmas

Cover from American Artists Group Illustrated Monograph no. 2

Cover from American Artists Group Illustrated Monograph no. 2

Rockwell Kent (1882-1971) was born and educated in New York. His first art teacher was William Merritt Chase; later he studied with Abbott Handerson Thayer, Robert Henri, and Kenneth Hayes Miller.  Kent also trained as an architectural draftsman and was an accomplished carpenter. He worked in a variety of artistic media, but he is best known for his prints and for his many illustrations for classic literary works like Candide, Leaves of Grass, The Canterbury Tales, and, perhaps most famously, Moby Dick.

Rockwell Kent's famous dust jacket design for Moby Dick (Random House trade edition, 1930)

Rockwell Kent’s famous dust jacket design for Moby Dick (Random House trade edition, 1930)

Kent also wrote and illustrated several of his own books, many of them memoirs of his extensive travels. He often sought out remote areas of untouched wilderness for artistic inspiration. In 1918-19 he spent several months in Alaska with his young son (also named Rockwell).  The resulting book, called Wilderness, was published by G. P. Putnam in 1920.

Cover illustration for Rockwell Kent's Wilderness (1920)

Cover illustration for Rockwell Kent’s Wilderness (1920)

The south coast of the mainland of Alaska is a wilderness of spruce-clad mountains whose outlying, isolated peaks are islands. On one of these we lived, a father and his eight-year-old son. . . . the man in pursuit of his profession, the boy in pursuit of what of education lay in doing things, and both in that pursuit of happiness which, with whatever right, is still what every living creature wants. . . .

Of the fullness of the days–fullness of work and thought, of play, of little happenings, of uneventful peace–we kept record. That record is a book: its name is WILDERNESS. From WILDERNESS these notes about a happy Christmas in the north are drawn.

A Northern Christmas

The Rockwell Kent Papers in the Archives of American Art include extensive correspondence between Kent and Samuel Golden of the American Artists Group. In the 1941 correspondence they discuss all aspects of the production of A Northern Christmas, beginning with the necessity of getting permission from G. P. Putnam for the use of excerpts and illustrations from Wilderness. The publisher at first demanded a rather steep fee but became more reasonable after a “sharply worded letter” from Kent. In the end, Kent insisted that Putnam’s cooperation should be acknowledged in the colophon of A Northern Christmas.

Colophon from A Northern Christmas

Colophon from A Northern Christmas

A Northern Christmas  consisted mostly of excerpts from Wilderness, along with an introduction and a few new illustrations.

From A Northern Christmas

From A Northern Christmas

For Rockwell Kent, the wilderness idyll was a welcome respite from the materialism of the modern world. In the excerpts chosen for A Northern Christmas, Kent describes, in words and pictures, the spare and simple Christmas that he and his son celebrated with their landlord, an old Swedish homesteader named Olson.  The presents are few– young Rockwell receives a pocket knife, some old National Geographic magazines, and a broken fountain pen, but he “sits on the bed looking at the things as if they were the most wonderful gifts.” The holiday proves all the more memorable for its minimalism.

Christmas menu from A Northern Christmas

Christmas menu from A Northern Christmas

The food is good and plentiful, the night is long, only the Christmas candles are short-lived and we extinguish them to save them for another time. Finally, as the night deepens, Olson leaves us amid mutual expressions of delight in one another’s friendship, and Rockwell and I tumble into bed.

A Northern Christmas

Rockwell Kent wrote and illustrated a very different gift book for the American Artists Group the next year. The 1942 book, called On Earth Peace, is a rather bleak wartime fable about a Jazz Age princess humbled by loss and privation.

Cover illustration for On Earth Peace, Rockwell Kent's gift book for 1942

Cover illustration for On Earth Peace, Rockwell Kent’s gift book for 1942

Kent’s popularity as an artist waned somewhat after the war. His style fell out of fashion in the age of abstract expressionism, and his ongoing involvement in  socialist causes aroused suspicion in the Red-baiting 1950s. At one point Kent’s passport was revoked, and he sued to have it reinstated. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually ruled in his favor, a landmark decision that made it more difficult for the government to curtail a citizen’s right to travel.  Kent continued to work for progressive causes and tried to promote improved relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Typed letter to Lynwood Giacomini, signed by Rockwell Kent

Typed letter to Lynwood Giacomini, signed by Rockwell Kent

The items pictured here are all held by ZSR Library’s Special Collections. The library has a sizeable collection of Rockwell Kent books, most of them previously owned by publisher Lynwood Giacomini, whose collection of American literature was purchased by the library in 1976. Giacomini kept up a friendly correspondence with many authors, and his collection includes a few typed letters from Rockwell Kent.


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