Category Archives: Collections

Information about our collections

Welcome Back, and the Papers of Theresa Ann Walker

Hello, and welcome back to Something Uncommon! I hope everybody had a nice Winter Break (and you weren’t too disappointed that we took some time off from the blog?). This week we’re back, and introducing our newest #WyattWalkerWednesday blog post! This week, we’re actually focusing on Mrs. Theresa Ann Walker, wife to Dr. Walker and activist in her own right.

One of the amazing things about the Dr. and Mrs. Wyatt T. Walker Collection is the inclusion of some of Mrs. Walker’s material. While perhaps not as well known as her husband, Mrs. Walker was nonetheless heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement and participated in several major protests. In fact, Mrs. Walker was arrested as one of the Freedom Riders during a demonstration in Jackson, Mississippi in 1961.

Some of the material Mrs. Walker included in this collection relates directly to her time in the Jackson, MS jail. Included in that material is the tin cup that Mrs. Walker was given for the five days she was held. Mrs. Walker was also able to remember the layout of the cells she was held in, including the other Freedom Riders held with her and the placement of their cots. Mrs. Walker was kind enough to donate a copy of all her notes, including the layout of the cells and a detailed timeline of her imprisonment.

Handwritten notes detailing Mrs. Walker’s time in jail

Mrs. Walker was held from June 21 until June 26. Rev. Walker was also arrested and held in Jackson, along with 15 other Freedom Riders. This was a continuation of a larger demonstration by the Freedom Riders that began in May of 1961. For more information on the Freedom Riders and their part in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, you can always check out Boatwright’s online catalog or the appropriate Wikipedia pages.

For more information concerning the Walker Collection and my progress processing it, please keep an eye on this space! And as always, check out Boatwright’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts for even more glimpses behind the scenes while we prep the collection for use.

Processing Dr. Walker’s Correspondence and Personal Papers

One of the types of materials that many archival collections have in common is correspondence. This can also be one of the most interesting things to process, depending on how prolific the donor’s friends were and what they talk about. In the case of Rev. Walker and his wife, their correspondence is incredible to work with.

For instance, take the manuscript of a play hand typed by Langston Hughes that was sent to the Walkers. This is a real piece of history, from one major 20th century figure to another. Hughes, if you are unfamiliar, is a very well known poet — you can find more on him on Wikipedia and elsewhere (or here). What makes this 1963 manuscript, entitled Jerico Jim Crow Jerico, particularly interesting is how Hughes uses black gospel music as a main pillar within the work, and the connection that creates with Rev. Walker’s own work. (If you will recall, Rev. Walker is an eminent expert on the black gospel musical tradition, with several published works on the topic.) While I have not uncovered further details of any relationship between Hughes and Rev. Walker, it might prove to be a strong topic for further research.

The Langston Hughes manuscript is hardly the only correspondence of interest in the Dr. and Mrs. Wyatt T. Walker Collection. Other items of particular note include several cards from Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, including a holiday card from Coretta dated 1970, two years after his assassination. There is correspondence from other major figures, including a dinner invitation for Desmond Tutu.

Rev. Walker is well known both for his anti-apartheid work in South Africa and his expertise on the black gospel tradition. Another, perhaps lesser known aspect of the man was his interest and skill in photography. This is highlighted in another item within Rev. Walker’s donated personal papers, a guestbook from an art exhibition of his photography in 1977 entitled “African Journal.” This helps provide a link between Walker and the community of which he was a part from a different perspective than his more well-known aspects. Luckily for us, the collection also includes plenty of slides to help showcase this different side.

There are a lot more interesting pieces I’ve found in the correspondence and personal papers, and some of them will be posted on the library’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds — make sure to check those out! I’ll also keep updating the blog on a weekly basis as I continue preparing the collection for public use and research, so keep an eye on this space for next week’s post.

Introduction to the New Archivist

staff photo of Taylor McNeilly

Staff photo of Taylor McNeilly

Hi all! I’m Taylor McNeilly, and I’m the new Processing & Reference Archivist here at the Rare Books and Special Collections division of Boatwright Memorial Library. I’d like to take a moment to tell you a little about myself and the work I will be doing here at RBSC.

I’m a New England native, having grown up in Rhode Island (the littlest state with the biggest name!), and went through my undergraduate career in western Massachusetts. I originally was a linguist by training, specializing primarily in Japanese with some minors/various levels of learning in Russian, French, and a handful of other languages. After graduating, I moved to Japan and taught English before deciding my heart resided in libraries and archives more than teaching. (I am still conversationally fluent in Japanese, however — and ASL, too!)

After returning to the US, I studied and worked at Simmons College in Boston, going through a full-time dual degree program to earn both an MLIS with an archives management concentration and a MA in History at the same time. I also worked as a professor’s assistant and, later, as the archives assistant at the college. I was also actively volunteering or interning in various archives throughout my time at Simmons, meaning that I have over 4 years of experience in my field despite only having my degrees for about half that time.

After leaving Simmons, I worked at the Congregational Library & Archives in Boston. There, I was the project manager for two separate, simultaneous, grant-funded digitization projects while also performing a variety of other responsibilities, including running the institution’s ArchivesSpace implementation and helping to develop a three-year strategic plan for the archives.

Many of these responsibilities are carrying over to my work here at RBSC, but my main priority starting out is going to be processing the Dr. and Mrs. Wyatt T. Walker Collection. You may have seen some info about the Walker Collection before now, but I’ll give you a quick refresher now.

The Rev. Dr. Wyatt T. Walker is a prominent Civil Rights figure, renowned minister, prolific author, and international expert on gospel music, the Black religious experience, and non-violent protest. Walker was also the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s chief of staff for the years 1960-1964, as well as the first full-time executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, president of a local NAACP chapter, state director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and special assistant to Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Walker was also the minister at the historic Gillfield Baptist Church in Petersburg, VA before becoming active in the Civil Rights Movement, and afterwards was the minister at Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem, NY for nearly 40 years.

RBSC acquired the Walker Collection in 2015, although that is a bit of an oversimplification. The Walker Collection’s material has been donated in various stages, with some material coming from NY while some comes from Dr. Walker’s current home in VA. Donated material has continued to come in, even as recently as earlier this month. As such, work on arranging and describing the material has had to wait until most (if not all) of the material was available.

Since we now have the majority of the material, and now that I’m here, processing of the Walker Collection can move forward! It will be closed to researchers until I can finish working on the collection as a whole, but I will be sharing the process of arrangement and description here as part of a new weekly blog series. I’ll also be posting interesting items I uncover during processing on the Boatwright Memorial Library’s Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds, so be sure to follow all our social media accounts to keep updated on what cool stuff I find!

If you have any questions about the Dr. and Mrs. Wyatt T. Walker Collection or RBSC in general, leave them in the comments below! And otherwise, I’ll see you next week for another progress update on the Walker Collection.

New Additions ~ Maritime Collections

Another Spring Semester comes to a close here on campus.  This week is the last week of classes, then finals, and the thrill of graduation weekend and summer.  This semester has brought many changes to Rare Books & Special Collections, including the opening of the new Reading Room and Classroom Annex space.  If you haven’t had a chance to see the newly remodeled spaces yet, please drop by the next time you are on campus for a tour!

In addition to new spaces, there have also been many new additions to both the rare book and the manuscript collections in Boatwright Library.  The last blog post talked about the new World War II correspondence collection, but I wanted to share also the wonderful new additions to the maritime and naval collections that have been added this spring.

Three new first editions have been added to the rare book collection, which already houses an impressive set of travel and maritime-related works.  The first new addition is a 1977 2-volume first edition of George Forster’s A Voyage Round the World, In his Britannic Majesty’s Sloop, Resolution, commanded by Capt. James Cook, during the Years 1772, 3, 4, and 5.  This set adds to our materials on both sea-faring voyages and exploration literature by adding another version of Cook’s sailings.

The second new first edition account is a 1779 first edition of A Voyage to New Guinea, and the Moluccas, from Balambangan: including an account of Magindano, Sooloo, and other islands; and illustrated with thirty copperplates. Performed in the Tartar galley, belonging to the Honourable East India company, during the years 1774, 1775, and 1776 to which is added, a Vocabulary of the Magindano Tongue.  This account was written by one of the most experienced ship captains and documents social and cultural life as well as maps, panoramas, coastal charts, genealogy, and a English to Magindano and Papua vocabulary.

The third new addition to the rare book maritime collection is the 1802 first edition travel account of a woman traveler through the Crimea and Black Sea regions.  The book is written in the form of letters by Maria Guthrie, and translated and edited by her husband, Matthew Guthrie.  Her letters document her varied encounters during her travels, including a whirling dervish ceremony and a letter concerning Jews in the Crimean region.

Three new manuscript maritime collections have also been added to the Boatwright Library archival materials.  The largest of the three documents the work of U.S. Naval Commander Horace Elmer, who had an illustrious naval career including heading the department of seamanship at the U.S. Naval Academy from 1883 to 1886.  His last service included organizing and commanding the Mosquito Fleet, including the inner coast defense of the Atlantic and Gulf States during the Spanish-American War.  The archival collection includes journals from his time at the naval academy and a number of ship’s logs which include precise technical sketches including the engines of the U.S.S. Monitor. There are also several scrapbooks including one from his daughter, Edith Elmer Wood, which contains images of family, the Naval Academy, and the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Two smaller manuscript items have been added as well. The first item is the journal of Edward Reavely, Quartermaster First Class serving on the U.S.S. Chester in 1917.  As a destroyer, the Chester was active during World War I as an escort between Gibraltar and Britain.  The second item is the private journal of Edward Paul Duffy, a printer on board the U.S. flagship Trenton, written in 1881.  While on board, Duffy printed the twice-monthly Trenton Herald and served as a special correspondent to the Baltimore Sun.  His journal documents his print work, the weather, and trips off the ship as well.

Each of these new additions bring new stories of explorations, travel, and sea voyages just waiting to be discovered.

Other People’s Mail

Working with archival material allows the researcher opportunities to learn about different places and other times.  Photographs of long-vanished buildings or reports of events long over are reminders of things no longer present.  But perhaps the most immediate, and occasionally the most poignant, way to immerse yourself into a different world is through reading other people’s mail.

Stacks of World War II letters

World War II Correspondence

Archival collections often contain a variety of correspondence, including business communications, official statements, organizational announcements, and academic inquiries.  For many researchers, however, it is personal correspondence that best brings the past to life.  When reading mail sent years or even centuries ago, one can’t help but try to fill in the gaps, to hunt for clues in deciphering the stories behind the penned or penciled words, seeking the individuals who wrote or received the letters.  Recently, the Rare Books & Special Collections division of Boatwright Memorial Library purchased a collection of more than 700 letters, the majority of them written during World War II.  The collection is a compilation of several different sets of correspondence.  Although connected by the time period, these different sets offer a view into the lives of many individuals, each with their own story to tell.

For example, one set of about 100 letters written on U.S. Navy letterhead share the story of a young couple named Paul and Charlotte.  Paul wrote almost daily between March and July 1944, and through his letters, readers come to know a bit about life in the Navy, the challenges of planning a wedding via correspondence, and enough of a hint about Charlotte’s world to spark curiosity.  A bit of research uncovered that Charlotte and her family were Jewish immigrants to the United States, having left Germany in 1934.

The largest set of correspondence in the collection are the approximately 250 letters written by George Orlikowski to his girlfriend, and later his wife, Mary Zyla Orlikowski, which cover the time between July 1942 and March 1945.  In addition to learning much about both of their lives, many of the envelopes and stationary are humorous by themselves.

World War II letter

Letter from George to Mary with code for salutations

In one letter written in December 1944, George offers a secret code to Mary so that she can know where he is at in the Pacific after he sails without the censor catching on to them; he indicated he would change which salutation he uses in his letters to her to identify his location. Even after more than 70 years, the letters still carry the scent of his cigarette smoke.

Perhaps the most intriguing series of correspondence in this collection are the variety of letters sent to Dorothy “Dot” Raynham, a female college student, by a variety of soldiers between 1942 and 1944. With at least fourteen different men writing her from nearly all branches of the military, these letters offer glimpses of military life as well as life on the home front for at least one college student and her family.  Whether it is a bomber pilot wistfully recalling their dance to a Glenn Miller tune or a sailor encouraging her in her schoolwork, the range of correspondents suggests there may be an interesting story about this particular moment in her life.

Reading other people’s mail in the archives offers a glimpse into the past, one way to bring history alive, for researchers of all types, including University of Richmond students.  This collection has already been utilized in several classes, including a Weekend College session doing hands-on history and a first-year seminar exploring a life in letters.  Materials from this collection as well as correspondence from other collections is currently on exhibit on the first floor of Boatwright Library through the end of April.

What’s in the Pot?

Cookbooks as we know them began as handwritten manuscripts of trial and error, what worked and what didn’t. The first printed cookbook appeared in 1470, but most cooks relied on their mother’s or their cook’s hard won receipts.cook1

Cookbooks can also tell us something about the society and ecomonics of the time. Where eggs and fresh milk were plenty and refrigeration a thing of the future.

In our Special Collections we have many cookbooks dating back to the 17th century. But it is in a fairly new cookbook, Famous Recipes from Old Virginia (1941) that we find some recipes from well-known cooks.

“Thos. Jefferson’s Recipe for Ice Cream

2 quarts of ‘good’ cream

½ pound sugar

6 yolks eggs

Mix yolks and sugar. Heat cream (with vanilla) until near boiling point, the pour it gently into the egg mixture. Stir well, and heat again to near boiling, stirring constantly; strain and when cool, freeze.”

Some recipes almost need translations!

“Martha Washington’s Crab Soup Recipe

Throw into boiling water fifteen crabs that are alive and kicking. When done pick meat up fine. Have ready a broth made of two quarts of water in which you have boiled until done one pound of middling meat, to this add crab meat. Heat two cups of rich milk and stir in well beaten yolks of two eggs. Pour into boiling crab soup, but do not let it come to a boil any more. Cook five minutes. Season with salt and hot pepper and serve from hot tureen.”

The Washington Wedding Cake with its pound and a half of butter, 10 cups of flour, pound and a half of sugar and 18 eggs, is shocking, and then you get to the part about baking for three and a half to four hours! Ah, the good old days!

 

The Marguerite Roberts Collection

Amid the books, maps, and journals collected the Galvin Rare Book Room, there are also a number of manuscript collections. You won’t find these in the catalog yet, but they will be there soon. One such collection is that of Dr. Marguerite Roberts, long time English professor, and Dean of Westhampton College. Dr. Roberts was a well-known Thomas Hardy scholar and spent much of her professional life researching and studying the author and his works.

Primarily interested in his theatrical works, her master’s thesis was an in depth study of his play in verse, The Dynasts. Hardy himself described this work as “an epic-drama of the war with Napoleon, in three parts, nineteen acts and one hundred and thirty scenes”. She also studied

Mrs. Hardy's Letters to Dr. Roberts

Mrs. Hardy’s Letters to Dr. Roberts

his stage version of Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and wrote Tess and the Theater, followed by Hardy’s Poetic Drama and the Theater. Her last work was a study of the influence of Hardy’s second wife, Florence, on Hardy and his circle of friends and colleagues who frequented his home at Max Gate, Florence Hardy and the Max Gate Circle.

In doing her exhaustive research for these books and articles, Dr. Roberts wrote many letters to Hardy’s literary executor, actors, directors, and most notably, Mrs. Hardy herself. Interestingly, these contacts led to a lifetime of letters, holiday cards, overnight visits, and gifts.

And there is one item in the files that is not attributed to anyone, but most likely is Dr. Roberts’ watercolor of Stonehenge, which plays largely in Tess of the

Sketch of Stonehenge

Sketch of Stonehenge

D’Urbervilles, with a quote from the book on the back. A woman of many talents on a subject of endless interest.

 

The Heavy Hands Of Mice and Men

Many factors go into making a book rare and/or valuable.  The book’s age, how many copies still exist, who owned it, and so on.  One very common criterion is whether or not the book is a “First Edition”, the first printing of the book.  Well, it is possible to narrow this down even more.  You can have a “first printing” of a book, and a “first state” of the book.

miceA first printing is pretty obvious.  It is the first printing of the book.  But a particularly popular book may have many printings.  A first state printing, means that at some time during this first printing, a change was made somewhere in the book–an error corrected, something omitted added, and so on.

Such was the case with John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.  During the first printing of this controversial classic, a line describing Lennie was changed in the first chapter.  It originally read “His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely and only moved because the heavy hands were pendula.”  Whether it was the obscure word or questionable spelling, it was decided to mice2remove the last nine words and reset the page.  There is also a problem with a page number later that was fixed. However 2, 500 uncorrected pages had already run through and were subsequently bound and sold; the first state of the first printing.

When rare book dealers talk about Of Mice and Men, they are quick to note whether their copy contains the “pendula” line and the dot between the two eights on page 88.  It adds considerably to the value and scarcity of the book.  The copy in the Galvin Rare Book Room is a first state printing in excellent condition, part of the Mark Lutz Collection.  Lennie would be so proud.

Designing Romeo and Juliet

Oliver Messel

Oliver Messel

In 1936, MGM created a lavish production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet starring Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard. To design the sets and costumes, the studio called on English artist and premier stage designer Oliver Messel.  He was well down for his masks for Diaghilev’s ballet, and for several revues and musicals in London, and Tony award winning designs for Broadway.  He worked on several movies, other than Romeo and Juliet, earning an Academy Award Nomination for Suddenly Last Summer in 1959.

Dust jacket design.

Dust jacket design.

After the film came out, the New York times selected it as one of the “Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made.”  Later in 1936, a book containing the complete play was published, illustrated with Messel’s costume and set designs.  The Galvin Rare Book Room has a copy signed by Mr. Messel. (Part of the Mark Lutz  Collection.) There are gorgeously drawn costume designs, and ethereal set designs, many in color, right alongside the bard’s lovely poetry.  Worth stopping by to take a look.

Messel4

The Real Haunts of Virginia

vghostsIt wouldn’t be October without a few ghosts and ghouls creeping around, and various “haunted houses” popping up in shopping malls to frighten us. Not surprisingly, Virginia claims quite a few legitimately haunted houses, and woods, according to Marguerite du Pont Lee. In her book, Virginia Ghosts (Galvin Rare Book Room F 227 .L48), she relates eye witness accounts such as the ghost of Aquia Church, in Stafford County.  A woman was murdered in the church, sometime in the early 1800’s, and her body was hidden in the belfry. Her ghost has been reported by many, walking the aisles of the church at midnight.

On Leigh Street in Downtown Richmond, stands the Hawes homestead. Many reports tell of a small lady dressed in gray gliding along the second floor hall only to disappear through a closed

Aquia Church, Stafford County.

Aquia Church, Stafford County.

door. And Matthews County contains the Old House haunted woods where from as early as 1798 there have been reports of the ghosts of pirates, murdered royalists, and officers and men of British General Cornwallis’s army, seen roaming through the trees.

Mrs. Lee signed her book, dedicating it to the Marion Garnett Ryland Virginiana Collection in 1932. Underneath her inscription she wrote:

            Spirits from brighter stars draw near

            When camps are lit, and fires burn clear.

            With gentle touch, and loving look

            Bless them for me, my little book.

Come down to the Rare Book Room and take a look and Virginia Ghosts, and some of our other chilling reads. If you dare.