Special Collections & Archives Blog

In the 'General' Category...

Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indian, by George Catlin (1841)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 9:24 am

Book-making now-a-days, is done for money-making; and he who takes the Indian for his theme, and cannot go and see him, finds a poverty in his matter that naturally begets error, by grasping at every little tale that is brought or fabricated by their enemies. Such books are standards, because they are made for white man’s reading only; and herald the character of a people who never can disprove them. They answer the purpose for which they are written; and the poor Indian who has no redress, stands stigmatised and branded, as a murderous wretch and beast.

If the system of book-making and newspaper printing were in operation in the Indian country awhile, to herald the iniquities and horrible barbarities of white men in these Western regions, which now are sure to be overlooked; I venture to say, that chapters would soon be printed, which would sicken the reader to his heart, and set up the Indian, a fair and tolerable man.

George Catlin, Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indian (1841) vol. II, p. 8-9

catlin color front

Frontispiece to Catlin’s Letters and Notes. This image is from a late 19th-century edition featuring color lithograph illustrations.

(more…)

Preserving Indentures from the Dalton Family Papers

Friday, April 10, 2015 11:28 am

Dalton indenture 1806

The Dalton Family Papers include materials from several generations of this family from Stokes County, NC. The Dalton Family papers are frequently used by our patrons in Special Collections. I recently encapsulated about 200 indentures in polyester (mylar) from this collection. Encapsulating a document involves creating two identically sized sheets of polyester which are attached on several sides and provide a safe and transparent enclosure for each document. The indentures are often hand-written and many times are signed with an X instead of a signature. These indentures often have a homemade or hand-drawn seal attached to the document. The wording of each indenture usually begins in a similar way as the document above: “This indenture made this twentieth day of October in the Year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred six between Thomas Graham Senior and the State of North Carolina and the County of Stokes.”

dalton_indenture04

The indenture above is for Alexander Boles in 1795. This indenture shows Boles’ X and the words “his mark” in lieu of his signature and also has a paper seal affixed. An indenture was a legal contract between two parties. Indentures could be for property, labor or other service. The Dalton Family papers primarily have indentures for property.

dalton_indenture01

The indenture above from 1797 between William Martin and the State of North Carolina shows the beautiful handwriting on many indentures in the Dalton Papers.

dalton_indenture03

Surveys, such as this one from 1779 in Surry County, were often attached to an indenture to show the exact location of the property.

dalton_indenture02

The indenture above from 1796, also has an attached survey. Interestingly, this indenture was paid for in Shillings, and at the bottom the indenture mentions it was signed in Raleigh “in the XXIst (21st) year of our independence.”

The Dalton Family papers have many more documents and materials that are fascinating to research and study.

Poetry Month: A Celebration of W. B. Yeats

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 2:48 pm

yeats autograph

ZSR Special Collections & Archives will celebrate Poetry Month on Thursday, April 16 with a special Library Lecture event. In coordination with the current Special Collections exhibit, W.B. Yeats and his Books, Dr. Jeff Holdridge of the Wake Forest English Department will give a talk entitled “The Sterner Eye:  Yeats and the Inhuman.”

The lecture will take place at 3:30 p.m. in the Special Collections & Archives reading room (ZSR 625). Light refreshments will be served, and representatives from the Wake Forest University Press will be on hand offering books for sale.

Participants will also have the opportunity to view the Special Collections exhibit, which showcases materials from Wake Forest’s extensive Yeats collections, including many first editions, books inscribed by Yeats, and Dun Emer/Cuala Press imprints.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Megan Mulder at 336.758.5091 or mulder@wfu.edu.

W. B. Yeats and his Books

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 12:14 pm

2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of William Butler Yeats, one of the most important and influential literary figures of the 20th century. In celebration of the Yeats sesquicentennial, Z. Smith Reynolds Library’s Special Collections department has opened an exhibit of materials from its extensive Yeats collection.

February 2015 – August 2015
Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections & Archives (Room 625)
Curated by Megan Mulder

William Butler Yeats was born in Dublin on 13 June 1865, the oldest of four children in an Anglo-Irish family. Though he spent much of his childhood in London, Yeats always identified as Irish. He devoted much of his life to promoting and sustaining a distinctively Irish literary tradition. During a career that spanned more than 50 years and included a 1923 Nobel Prize for literature, Yeats published more than 100 works of poetry, drama, and prose. His interests were wide-ranging and his devotion to his art was all-consuming. By the time he died in 1939, Yeats was a towering figure in the world of English literature.

yeats byzantium

Yeats’s “Sailing to Byzantium,” from October Blast (Cuala Press, 1927). ZSR Library Special Collections.

Yeats was deeply interested and involved in the design of his publications. As the son of an artist he was acutely aware of the interplay of his text with the material and visual aspects of his books. ZSR Library’s exhibit traces Yeats’s life and career through the changing designs of his publications. Included are many examples of Yeats titles from the Dun Emer Press (later renamed the Cuala Press), a small hand-press establishment run by Yeats’s sister Elizabeth. Also on exhibit are books designed and illustrated by Althea Gyles and Thomas Sturge Moore, Abbey Theatre publications, and other materials representing all aspects of Yeats’s long career.

yeats tower dust jacket

Dust jacket design by Thomas Sturge Moore for Yeats’s The Tower, from ZSR Special Collections

On April 16, 2015 the ZSR Library Lecture Series will celebrate the Yeats exhibit and poetry month with a talk by Dr. Jefferson Holdridge of the Wake Forest English department. This event will take place at 3:30 p.m. in the Special Collections & Archives reading room (ZSR 625).

The W. B. Yeats and his Books exhibit will remain on display through July 2015. The exhibit can be viewed at any time during Special Collections & Archives regular hours of 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., or after hours by appointment. For more information, please contact the Special Collections & Archives department.

Preservation Training From Our Friends at UNCG

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 12:00 pm

We go to training for a variety of reasons, but often because you may have good basic skills, but need to get to another level. You need someone at a higher skill level to show you the ‘tricks’ that will help you excel and help your work rise to a higher level of accomplishment.

Clamping corner repairs
Isabella Baltar and Preservation Student Assistant, Lauren Peirish

On Friday, February 13, 2015, Isabella Baltar, from UNCG spent the day training me and my student assistants. Isabella holds degrees from two universities in Brazil; a BA in Museology from Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro and an MA in Art History from Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro. She also spent 6 years working under Don Etherington at the Etherington Conservation Center in Browns Summit, NC.

Applying Japanese paper to repair the broken internal hinge

Repairing a broken internal hinge

Isabella and I worked exclusively on Special Collections books bound in leather. We have so many leather bound books that have loose boards and bad joints, that it seemed the best use of our time. We covered may topics such as the use of Klucel-G (a leather consolidant) and SC6000 (a leather wax). We worked on reattaching loose internal joints on books using Japanese paper. Isabella also led me through the steps of restoring damaged head-caps and damaged corners of the books. This process involved creating a Japanese paper support on the corner of the board. Then a papier mache-like form is created from shreds of twine to reconstitute the missing portion of the book cover. This form is pressed and allowed to dry, after which, it is toned with either acrylics or gouache to match the leather on the cover. After the toning is completed, it is hard to tell where the work begins and ends. This technique is commonly used by book conservators and one that we can use in our lab.

Head-cap reconstruction

Repairing a missing head-cap

We used rice starch paste and PVA adhesive to repair missing pieces of our books. The first step is to attach a piece of Japanese paper on which you build back the shape of the missing piece. To do this, we shredded jute twine and added paste to recreate the missing shape.

Rebuilding loss area of book cover corner

We then let this piece dry, covered it with Japanese paper and clamped it between pieces of binders board to dry.

Repaired corners drying under clamps

After the repair dried, we used acrylic and gouache paint to tone the repair and match it to the color of the surrounding leather. We even tried to replicate the gold tooling on the leather. The final product is quite presentable and will last indefinitely.

Finished and toned corner repair

The work we did was very helpful and I am very appreciative of the training I received from Isabella Baltar. Thank you UNCG Preservation for lending Isabella for a day to help us out. We are better equipped because of this experience.

Martin Luther King, Jr. at Wake Forest

Thursday, January 15, 2015 4:18 pm

[O]n Thursday, October 11, 1962, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke in Wait Chapel at Wake Forest College as part of the College Union Lecture Series.[i]  This was not the first time a black person had spoken on the campus, but it was the first time a black man had been invited to speak after the College had officially integrated.  Much social and political action on the part of the students and some faculty had brought the College to this rhetorical moment — a black civil rights leader speaking in Wait Chapel. [i] Old Gold & Black, October 15, 1962.

So begins Susan Faust and John Llewellyn’s short article “Prelude to a Dream” analyzing King’s Wait Chapel speech and placing it in the context of desegregation and activism at Wake Forest at the time. One must consider the climate of the campus, the South, and the country in the early 1960’s when Dr. King spoke in Wait Chapel to understand how significant this event was. Wake Forest College had only just admitted Ed Reynolds (’64), the first black graduate of the college, in the Fall of 1962. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s visit to campus so quickly after this monumental change to the campus culture only reinforced the transformation of the time.

Special Collections and Archives has an audio copy of this significant address in our holdings. Prior to the now famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. King used some of the same language and phrasing he later used in that historic speech in his address at Wait Chapel. Due to the nature of the copyright restrictions on these materials, patrons are required to listen to the audio, and read the transcript, in the Special Collections & Archives Research Room (ZSR 625). The finding aid is available online for researchers to view. We recommend making an appointment in Special Collections & Archives to come in and listen to the audio recording. Special Collections & Archives is honored to care for and provide access to such an important piece in Wake Forest’s history.

For additional information on what was happening on the campus at the time, you can search the Old Gold & Black Archives or peruse the “Faces of Courage” website for a timeline of events surrounding Wake Forest’s integration and Dr. King’s visit. In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Wake Forest University is joining up with Winston-Salem State University and other community groups to host the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 2015 Celebration. We hope you can participate, celebrate, or volunteer at some of the events for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

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!

Artist’s Talk with Ken Bennett, University Photographer

Friday, October 10, 2014 2:42 pm

ken-bennett-heading

Mark your calendars! Special Collections & Archives is hosting an Artist’s Talk with University Photographer Ken Bennett on Wednesday, October 15th from 4:15-5:30.

As part of the “Worth a Thousand Words: Ken Bennett’s Photographs of ZSR” exhibit in Special Collections and Archives (Room 625, Z. Smith Reynolds Library), University Photographer Ken Bennett will share about his experiences documenting the Wake Forest campus. Light refreshments will be served.

The program will begin at 4:30. All are welcome to attend.

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!


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