Special Collections & Archives Blog

In the 'General' Category...

Why Use the Baptist Collection?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 4:00 pm

“In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.”

-Alex Haley

When people see boxes of old papers, black and white photos, and especially reels of microfilm, many of them assume that no one would want to use these types of materials because they are 1. old, 2. not online, 3. sometimes difficult to read, and 4. on microfilm. Why would anyone want to spend time trying to decipher a name written in a book over 200 years ago? Who needs to know what church someone attended after the Civil War? Who cares when a church started? What difference does it make if a church moved from one town to another in the 1900′s?

People may be surprized to know that the NC Baptist Collection is one of our most frequently used collections, with researchers requesting its materials on almost a daily basis. Many divinity school students use the collection, as well as undergraduates in history, religion and sociology classes. Faculty from WFU as well as other schools have spent many hours with Baptist materials as they write books, dissertations and articles. And genealogical researchers make up a large portion of our users, devoting much time to reading church records, histories, clippings files and manuscript collections. These researchers come to find answers, to find connections, to discover their own histories. Using these resources in the NC Baptist collection can help people find the missing part of their stories, the missing link to a distant connection. And yes, that is important. Just in the past 3 months, we’ve had genealogists from Wisconsin, Tennessee, Georgia and even California who have made trips here to use our Baptist materials.

Dr. Phil Neighbors, who came from California to research with us, shared his thoughts about using the collection. He wrote:

“The Dutchman Creek Baptist Church, now named the Eaton Baptist Church, in Davie County, North Carolina was founded in November of 1772. My 5th Great Grandfather, Ebenezer Fairchild, was a charter member and the first clerk of the church. My family and I discovered that the original records of the church were located in the special collections section of the library at Wake Forest University. When we visited this summer, we were thrilled to see the handwriting of our 5th Great Grandfather. Thank you for taking care of such a precious document.”

Dr. Phil Neighbors
Pastor of Valley Baptist Church
Bakersfield, California

While he was here, some of his relatives were even able to travel over from Raleigh and other areas to see the records as well. It was a family reunion, precipitated by the Baptist collection! They all had a wonderful time sharing stories and information about their families, and even posed for a picture.

Dr. Neighbors and relatives

Dr. Neighbors and relatives

(The picture is of Chris Fairchild (back row, left) and her father (seated), Ed Anderson (middle, back row) and Phil Neighbors. All of us are direct descendants of Ebenezer Fairchild.)

We are glad that we had the records for Eaton Baptist Church that gave Dr. Neighbors and his relatives a direct link to their ancestor. Seeing Ebenezer Fairchild’s handwriting and touching the book that he actually wrote in connected them to him in a special way. This is one reason that we keep the materials that we do. Many times we have the only item that helps a person “live on”, the only evidence of a person’s existence. Being able to help people find this information is one of the highlights of our jobs in Special Collections.

***Special Collections is also happy to share a new finding aid that is available for Baptist materials. The Baptist State Convention of NC Scrapbooks and VBS Materials collection was recently donated to us by the main office in Raleigh. The materials reflect the conferences, training sessions, planning and day-to-day workings of the office as well as Bible School materials, clinics and statistics. See the full finding aid at this link: BSCNC Scrapbooks and VBS Materials

Deconstructing Book Repair

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 3:03 pm

Comedies and Tragedies

Many books come into Preservation with a broken joint or torn internal hinge, which makes the repair needed easy to see. Sometimes, one might see the repairs of a prior bookbinder. This was the case when I began work on Comedies and Tragedies, by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, printed in 1647. Small tabs of vellum with a cursive script on each one had been attached to the spine (I assume to help hold the cover board on securely). These vellum tabs were obviously cut from a sheet of vellum used for another purpose and were now being re-purposed. In addition, 2 strips of printed paper were also sewn onto the edge of the spine created a flange (again, I assume for more secure board attachment). I think this underscores how valuable unused pieces of paper, vellum or leather were to early binders. They used everything they could in order for there to be almost no waste.

In an article by Barbara Rhodes , 18th and 19th Century European and American Paper Binding Structures: A Case Study of Paper Bindings in the American Museum of Natural History Library, she mentions these spine linings using “printers waste.” Rhodes states that in a survey of the American Museum of Natural History collection, 63% of spines were lined with printers waste. In this collection, the earliest book lined with printers waste dated from 1759 and Rhodes states this practice became common by 1830.

I am currently doing a folio review in our Special Collections and this practice really teaches you about the collection: the content and the condition. I enjoy this meditative practice which involves examining and measuring each folio (approximately 15″ or taller) in the collection. This review will identify preservation needs as well as space requirements.

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.


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