Special Collections & Archives Blog

In the 'General' Category...

Louis MacNeice in Special Collections

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 12:12 pm

macneice

Louis MacNeice, Blind Fireworks (London: Victor Gollancz, 1929)

Wake Forest University Press has recently released the American edition of Louis MacNeice‘s Collected Poems.  MacNeice’s poetry is experiencing something a renaissance, after spending several decades in the shadow of  W. H. Auden. As New York Times poetry critic David Orr observed in his review of this new collected edition,

[MacNeice's] reputation has been steadily rising for 20 years in Britain and Ireland, in part because of vigorous support from Irish writers like Edna Longley, Paul Muldoon and Derek Mahon. MacNeice’s “Collected Poems” has finally been published in the United States, where readers will now have a chance to approach this under­estimated writer on his own terms.

ZSR Special Collections holds a large collection of MacNeice first editions, including Blind Fireworks (pictured above), his first published volume of poetry. MacNeice was newly graduated from Merton College, Oxford when Blind Fireworks appeared. In his foreword the young poet explains that

I have always admired the Chinese because they invented gunpowder only to make fireworks with it. I have called this collection Blind Fireworks because they are artificial and yet random; because they go quickly through their antics against an important background, and fall and go out quickly.

MacNeice’s future career proved anything but a flash in the pan: he went on to publish over 50 volumes of poetry, plays, and criticism. ZSR Special Collections’ Louis MacNeice collection is a part of our extensive holdings in 20th century English and Irish poetry.

The Evelyn P. “Pat” Foote Papers Finding Aid is Now Complete!

Thursday, August 8, 2013 3:19 pm

Special Collections and Archives is pleased to announce that the processing of the Evelyn “Pat” Foote Collection finding aid is complete! Many thanks to Ashley Jefferson for processing the newest accessions to this collection. Wake Forest Magazine recently ran a story about Brigadier General Foote. This is a highly valuable collection for researchers and certainly a shining example of the distinguished alumni manuscript holdings in Special Collections and Archives.

Author Appearances in Special Collections

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 12:32 pm

During the first week of September, Special Collections will host appearances by two authors who have featured rare books, manuscripts, and libraries in their bestselling works of fiction. Book signings will follow each talk.  Both events are free and open to the public, and both will take place in the Special Collections and Archives Reading Room on the 6th floor of the Z. Smith Reynolds Library.

On Wednesday, September 4 at 3:30 p.m., Charlie Lovett will talk about his new novel, The Bookman’s Tale. In this story of bookish intrigue, the young Peter Byerly, becomes fascinated by the rare books world while working as a student assistant in the special collections department at his North Carolina college. Peter later becomes a rare-books dealer and comes upon a mysterious publication that may put to rest the Shakespeare authorship controversy once and for all.

Charlie is the son of Wake Forest Professor Emeritus Robert Lovett, and the Z. Smith Reynolds Library rare books collection and special collections reading room were an inspiration for his novel.

On Friday, September 6 at 3:00 p.m. we will host Deborah Harkness, author of the hugely popular All Souls trilogy.  Deborah is a featured author at the 9th annual Bookmarks Festival of Books, a free event happening in downtown Winston-Salem on Saturday, September 7. Her Wake Forest appearance is co-sponsored by Bookmarks and ZSR Library as part of the Bookmarks Authors in Schools program.

Deborah’s novels combine literature and history with a supernatural world of witches, vampires, and daemons who coexist warily with humans and with each other. A Discovery of Witches, the first book in the trilogy, introduced Diana Bishop, a history professor and reluctant witch, who discovers a mysterious alchemical manuscript while doing research in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. In Shadow of Night, Diana and her vampire cohort Matthew time-travel to Elizabethan England in an attempt to track down the origin and meaning of the manuscript.

A new exhibit will also be on view in the Special Collections Reading Room. Entitled Books in Fiction, it showcases some of the authors and books featured in Charlie Lovett and Deborah Harkness’s novels.

For more information, contact Megan Mulder at 336-758-5091 or mulder@wfu.edu.

The Max and Gertrude Hoffmann Photograph Collection Now Online!

Thursday, July 11, 2013 1:54 pm

Max and Gertrude Hoffmann

Special Collections and Archives is very pleased to announce the completion of a new digital collection of photographs! You can find the Max and Gertrude Hoffmann Photograph Collection online with our other digital collections. You may remember the completed finding aid for the Max and Gertrude Hoffmann Papers a few years back. We followed that up with digitizing the Max and Gertrude Hoffmann Music Manuscript Collection. We chose to digitize this photograph collection not only because it is visually rich, but also because we have received many reference requests for these materials many of which come from descendants of the Hoffmann Girls.

The Gertrude Hoffmann Girls

If you have a chance, look through the pictures and see that there are some pretty risque photos of what may or may not be someone’s granny. As always, our eternal gratitude to Barry, Kevin, and all of our students without whom we would not have completed this project.

Possibly someone’s grandmother? Definitely a Hoffmann girl.

Wake Forest Commencement Programs are online!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 4:53 pm

The Special Collections and Archives department is happy to announce that the Wake Forest Commencement Programs are now digitized and available online! We took our programs to UNC-Chapel Hill to be scanned as part of the Digital NC project. These are some of the most requested items in our collection and are a great help in finding graduates’ names, who spoke at commencement, what dates commencement was on, and how many people graduated in a certain year. People can now search these programs to see what the originals look like and find the information they need. While not a complete collection, we have a bulk of the programs from the early years until present. We are excited to have this group of materials available online now to further help researchers with their inquiries.

Spring 2013 Academic Archivist

Friday, May 10, 2013 2:06 pm

Special Collections and Archives is once again making news in the SAA College and University Archives Section Spring 2013 newsletter “The Academic Archivist.” In this publication we announce the completion of Clarence Herbert New and Wayne Oates’ Papers. Stay tuned for Fall 2013!

Meet Our New Director!

Monday, May 6, 2013 12:18 pm

Tanya Zanish-Belcher
Director, Special Collections & University Archivist

I am so pleased and proud to be joining the ZSR Library as Director of Special Collections & University Archivist!  My professional career path has led me here to Winston-Salem after 17 years as Head of Special Collections at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. I look forward to sharing my experiences there with Special Collections here–and to focus on sharing our collections with members of the Wake Forest campus community and broader public.  Special Collections collects the rare and unique, and it is important to recognize their importance and value, and to ensure their permanent preservation. At the same time, however, administering a Department like this requires a delicate balancing act between preservation and access.  Access can mean many things, and can include a visit to see the original, or seeing a digital version of the original online.  It is important for me as an archivist, for our audiences to realize that Special Collections has resources, not only collections but its expert staff, waiting and willing to assist with a myriad of projects!  Special Collections means Sharing, in my rare book.

As an undergraduate History major, I struggled with what career I was going to pursue, until a professor referred me to the Public History program at Wright State University.  At the time, WSU was the only university in the state of Ohio offering any kind of programming in this area, and I followed a dual archives/museum track. The moment I took my first class, I knew this was what I was meant to do with my life. Archives offers a unique opportunity to combine a number of elements–the study and comprehension of the complexity of history, the sharing of these unique resources with the public, and lastly, it requires the management of people, time, and other resources. The management component has allowed me to face the challenge of evaluating these available resources and match them with the needs to both preserve and access rare and unique materials.  Plus, working with archives provides a physical challenge as well–there are always boxes to be moved and books to reshelved, and items to be shifted.  Being an archivist for over 20 years has also helped me to see my professional career as part of a continuum, in what I can contribute to my institution–I am one of many, and my role is to ensure our collections are safe and secure for the next generation.

However, and this is the critical issue for special collections and archives, there is no point in preserving material if you do not make it available for someone to use.

For additional information in regards to previous publications and my vita, please see:
http://works.bepress.com/tanya_zanish-belcher

The Henlee Hulix Barnette Papers Finding Aid is Complete!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 9:42 am

Henlee Barnette surrounded by his papers

Special Collections and Archives is overjoyed to announce the completion of the Henlee Hulix Barnette Papers finding aid!!! This finding aid has been a long time coming and we are thrilled to have it finished.

Housed in 91 boxes and covering sixteen different series of categories, the Henlee Barnette papers cover many topics of great importance during the second half of the Twentieth Century. Barnette was a Wake Forest College alumnus, a professor of Christian Ethics at Southern Baptist Seminary, a civil rights activist, a prolific author and speaker,  a loyal husband and father, a clinical psychologist, and a political enthusiast among many other things. These topics and many others are now available for researchers accessing his personal and professional papers.

Barnette boxes processed and on the shelves

Wake Forest Special Collections and Archives took ownership of the Henlee Barnette Papers between 1993-2000. It has long been a goal of the department to fully process and make available these important papers, and we couldn’t be more excited to have reached that goal! Many thanks to all who processed the collection: Audra Eagle Yun, Vicki Johnson, and most importantly Ashley Jefferson – our Special Collections intern who has worked very diligently over the past few months to complete the project.

Finding Charles Dickens

Monday, April 29, 2013 1:44 pm

I first found Charles Dickens while at the Worrell House in 1979. I have read many of his works over the years and have enjoyed them immensely. When I started working in Special Collections & Archives, I was very excited to find out that we have some of Dickens’ works in the original parts. One of my responsibilities here in the department is the make sure everything on the shelf is cataloged. There are many titles that have been on the shelf for many years, but for some reason, were never been put into the online catalog. While doing this, I realized that the British and American literature sections were cataloged using a hybrid Library of Congress classification system. Instead of grouping titles together, everything was done chronologically. This made titles hard to find. So, starting with the British literature, I started to re-catalog using the correct Library of Congress classification system. This led me to some surprising discoveries. By far the most exciting for me were two folios that were cataloged with Charles Dickens works. These two books were by James Peller Malcolm published in 1808 & 1811. Anecdotes of the manners and customs of London: during the eighteenth century, with a review of the state of society in 1807. published in 1808 and Anecdotes of the manners and customs of London from the Roman invasion to the year 1700… published in 1811. Now these two items, while rare, wouldn’t have gotten my attention normally except for two things, one they really should have been cataloged with history titles, and two, they had two bookplates on the front inside cover, one that said Charles Dickens, and another that stated “From the library of Charles Dickens, Gadshill Place June, 1870.” These particular bookplates stated that these items were in Dickens’ library at Gadshill when he died. Wanting to know more about these titles, I started to research more about them and found out that not only had they been in Dickens library, but the one published in 1808 had been used for his novel Barnaby Rudge. In J. H. Stonehouse’s Catalogue of the Library of Charles Dickens from Gadshill published in 1935, in the entry for these titles he states: “In Vol. 2 is the plate of a charming girl, in a picturesque costume, immortalized in Barnaby Rudge, and here named in Dickens’s handwriting — “Dolly Varden”. Needless to say I was very excited to learn about this important association with Dickens works. It isn’t very often that you can trace a book’s provenance other than bookplates or knowing who gave the book, but to realize that a important author actually used these books for his research makes this discovery all that more exciting. In this case the books were listed in the online catalog, but nothing had been added that stated this association with Dickens. I guess previous catalogers thought that if they were cataloged as Dickens’ works, the association would be self-explanatory. The books were bought in 1974 for $135.00 apiece for the rare books collection. There is a note handwritten in pencil on the front inside cover of the 1808 volume that indicates that the plate number #8 is the plate when Dickens made his notation. It is possible that this was written by the book dealer where we purchased the books. The books were in pretty bad shape when I cataloged them in 2011. The 1811 volume is in better shape than the 1808 volume. The 1811 volume has a back cover that is loose, and some pages at the front that have come unbound. The 1808 volume was in much worse shape with the spine completely split and many loose pages. I sent the 1808 volume down to Craig in preservation to do some repair work. It has now been beautifully repaired and is ready for scholars in English literature as well as English social customs and history to use. I will be sending the 1811 volume down shortly. If you would like to take a look, please come up to the special collections reading room and I will be glad to show you both volumes. It is times like this that I know that I am in the right profession. Not only was I able to provide better access to our collection by cataloging the volumes correctly, but I was able to work with something that belonged to and was used by my favorite author. Most days I love what I do, but on days like the day I found these volumes I can say with a huge smile on my face that I love my job!

Medieval Manuscripts at ZSR, Part 1

Friday, March 8, 2013 1:58 pm

This week I attended  the third annual “Understanding the Medieval Book” symposium at the University of South Carolina. It was my first time attending this seminar, which is organized by Dr. Scott Gwara of the USC English department and held in USC Library’s Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. This year’s seminar was led by Dr. Eric Johnson, Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts at Ohio State University. Participants included teaching faculty, librarians, and students from various academic institutions. During the two-day symposium Eric described in detail the physical and textual features of medieval manuscripts, with a focus on religious texts. We learned about how manuscript books were created– from the making of parchment, to the scriptorium, to the bindery– and how they were used by their original owners. We also talked a lot about ways to use medieval books and fragments in the college (and even K-12) classroom.

ZSR’s Rare Books Collection does not have an extensive collection of medieval manuscripts. We have five manuscript codices (bound volumes) which I believe date from the late 14th/early 15th centuries. All are religious works in Latin. We also have a few manuscript fragments taken from larger works.

The image above is a page from one of ZSR’s manuscript codices. It is probably Italian (though the text is of course in Latin) and has many typical features of a manuscript from the 14th century. The red and blue ornamentation is not just decorative. Rubrication in medieval manuscripts served as a sort of punctuation, orienting the reader to line breaks and different sections in the text. Marginal notes and symbols, like the manicule (pointing finger), could be used to highlight important passages, add text or commentary, or correct errors in the text.

This very small New Testament manuscript from our collection is an example of the trend for “pocket Bibles” which began in the 12th century.

Most medieval manuscripts were written on parchment (also called vellum), which was specially prepared animal skin, usually goat, sheep or calf. Parchment was durable but very expensive, so bookmakers on a budget often made do with lower-quality skins. These might have uneven pigmentation, holes, or other flaws. The image above is a detail from another of ZSR’s manuscript books. The right margin shows a tear in the parchment, which was at one point repaired by sewing up the hole with thread.

Manuscript production in Europe fell off rapidly with the invention of printing from moveable type in the mid-1400s. Manuscript books were sometimes disbound and the parchment sheets put to other uses. One typical use was in the bindings of other books. Above is a manuscript page pasted inside the cover of a volume of the works of Horace, printed in Venice in 1490. Below, a page from a manuscript missal covers the outer binding of a 1532 Basel imprint.


Though the ZSR medieval manuscripts collection is not large, it gets a lot of use. I show the books to many medieval and Renaissance history and literature classes, and my History of the Book class uses the manuscripts extensively. And of course I pull them out every time someone asks the ever-popular “What’s your oldest book?” question. My goal in attending the USC symposium was to learn more about medieval manuscripts so that I could use them more effectively in teaching and so that I could create catalog records for our codices, which are currently undocumented. I definitely learned a lot, and I met some terrific medievalists. In fact, Dr. Gwara from USC and Dr. Jo Koster from Winthrop University have volunteered to make a site visit to ZSR next week, to look at our manuscripts and help me identify and describe them in detail. So check back for part 2 of this post, in which we’ll learn everything we ever wanted to know about medieval manuscripts at ZSR!


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