Category Archives: University of Richmond

Information pertaining to the University of Richmond, past or present

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.


Half Way There!

It’s June already and the construction is well on it’s way.  The reading room outside the rare book room is taking shape, as is the classroom around the corner.  Also included in this reconfiguring is an office for our new Archivist and Book Arts Studio Coordinator.  But pictures will tell you more than words at this point so here goes!


The entrance to the new reading room.






Reading Room

The bones of the reading room.  There will be tables and display shelves.


Reading Room







Class roomClassroom

And here is the classroom, first looking back toward the rare book room,  then towards the door to the workroom.

And finally the new office.  Office


May not look very exciting right now, but it will add so much to what we can do!  So this fall look for the sign on the new door and come and explore our new Uncommon space!

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.

Civil rights leader donates permanent collection to Boatwright Library

Wyatt Tee Walker, a distinguished theologian and civil rights leader, has gifted his personal collection to the University of Richmond Boatwright Memorial Library. The collection includes hundreds of historical pieces, including papers, recorded sermons and memorabilia.

Walker, who lives in Virginia, served as chief of staff to Martin Luther King Jr., executive director of the Southern Leadership Conference and special assistant for Urban Affairs to Nelson Rockefeller. He is a specialist in sacred music, cultural historian and prolific author. Walker is pastor emeritus of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem.

Significant items in this historical collection include photographs Walker took of King while they were jailed in Birmingham in 1967; numerous letters to King and others regarding civil rights issues; and journals, drawings, diagrams and notes kept by Walker’s wife Theresa, who was also active in the civil rights movement. The collection also includes books, records, awards and clothing.

“We are justly proud that we were on the right side of history and can share our experiences with the general public through this partnership with the University of Richmond,” said Walker.

“We are honored that Dr. Walker has entrusted Boatwright Memorial Library with the care of this amazing collection,” said Lynda Kachurek, head of rare books and special collections. “We expect civil rights and other historians from all over the country and world to be interested in this scholarship, as well as our faculty, staff, students and the general public.”

This special collection will be the largest under the care of Boatwright Library. It will be housed in the Galvin Rare Books Room. The collection will be catalogued and processed and is expected to be available for research beginning in late 2016.

“This collection documents a critical moment in American history,” said University of Richmond President Ronald A. Crutcher. “It will help generations of students and scholars better understand the men and women who led the Civil Rights Movement and their work for social justice. We are so grateful for Dr. Walker’s generosity and for the opportunity to bring this collection to the University library.”


Link to original press release

Faster than a Speeding Train!

Arna Wendell Bontemps

Boatwright Library recently hosted an event that was part of the Children’s Literature Association Conference. While at the library several participants toured the Galvin Rare Book Room and part of our children’s literature collection. One book garnered considerable attention: The Fast Sooner Hound by Arna Bontemps and Jack Conroy, illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton, part of our Mark Lutz Collection.

The Faster Sooner Hound

The Faster Sooner Hound

You may recognize Virginia Lee Burton’s name from Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (1939) and the Caldecott medalist The Little House (1942). But the other two authors may not be as familiar. Jack Conroy, among many other things, was a left wing writer and editor in the 30’s with ties to many writers in the Harlem Renaissance. He also worked in the Writer’s Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), collecting folk tales and oral histories. One such story was the tall tale of a dog that could outrun the fastest train. He worked with Arna Bontemps to create the book.

Arna Wendell Bontemps was born in Louisiana in 1902 to a Creole bricklayer and a schoolteacher. When he was three, his father moved the family to California after a racist attack. He was sent to the San Fernando Academy and instructed by his father to not “go up there acting colored.” Bontemps resented the effort to make him renounce his heritage. When he graduated college he took a teaching job in Harlem. He soon married and had six children doing away with his dreams of a Ph.D. in English. But he did become closely connected to the Harlem Renaissance and friends with Countee Cullen, W. E. B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, and especially Langston Hughes, with whom he frequently collaborated.

He published poems, for which he won prizes, and novels, including Black Thunder, the tale of a slave rebellion near Richmond, Virginia planned by Gabriel Prosser. He moved to Huntsville, Alabama to teach college; and finally went back to school to get a degree in library science from the University of Chicago (1943) and became a librarian at Fisk University where he worked until his retirement in 1965. Until his death in 1973, he held professorships at the University of Illinois and Yale University, and a return to Fisk as a Sooner2writer in residence.

The rare books room copy of The Fast Sooner Hound is as lovely to look at as to read. Come take a look.

Evolution of the Paperback

boni2 Continuing the Irish theme this month, we came across this book by Francis Hackett—The Story of the Irish Nation. It is a lovely book of stories of a storied land with wonderful illustrations. Not as in depth as some histories, but easily read and very informative.

But this is a situation in which the book itself is even more interesting that the content. This is a Boni Book, which was one of the precursors to the mass market paperback. Albert Boni and Horace Liveright formed B&L Books (which would eventually become Random House). They separated after only a year, and Albert began his “Little Leather Library” in 1920. The books were more a novelty than serious publications.

End papers.

His brother, Charles Boni began printing paperback books by himself in 1929 under the imprint Charles Boni Paper Books. (Reminiscences of a Cowboy by Frank Harris, Rare Book Room F596.H31). They featured wraparound covers with artwork by Rockwell Kent. And there were ornate end papers front and back. They sold by subscription at $5.00 a year for one book a month, or for 50 cents each in stores.

Title page.

Title page.

By 1930, the books became “Bonibooks” and the title pages changed to include both brothers, Albert and Charles Boni, with the date 1930, as in our featured book. These are not the quick and cheap paperbacks that began in 1939 with Pocket Books, but well-made and designed, with good paper and binding. They correspond more to what we today call trade paperbacks.

(The drawings in this book are by Harald Toksvig, not Rockwell Kent. Hackett’s wife’s name was Signe Toksvig, by the way.)

The Ides of March

The Ides of March

The ides of March or March 15th was a day of religious celebrations in ancient Rome and notoriously the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar.

In our Rare Book Room we have a copy of Thornton Wilder’s The Ides of March, a novel about Caesar told through imaginary letters and documents cleverly revealing what Caesar the man may have been like. This copy is part of The William Dew Gresham Collection. Mr. Gresham collected signed copies of great books. This copy is signed by Mr. Wilder to Mr. Gresham in 1951.

The Ides of March was published in 1948, ten years after Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, Our Town. (His The Skin of Our Teeth won the 1943 Pulitzer.) He wrote seven novels, including The Bridge of San Luis Rey which won the Pulitzer in 1928. His play The Matchmaker ran on Broadway for 486 performances from 1955-1957. It may be more familiar as it’s musical adaptation, Hello Dolly!

IMG_1004 Wilder was enormously successful in many different genres including translation, acting, opera librettos, lecturing, teaching, and film (he wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1943 psycho-thriller, Shadow of a Doubt.) His many honors include the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Book Committee’s Medal for Literature. On April 7, 1997, what would have been his 100th birthday, the US Postal Service unveiled the Thornton Wilder 32 cent stamp.

From the January 1915 Collegian–The Games We Played


You’re right, old man, when you say that the recreation hours at the College are dull and uninteresting. You cannot be censured for beating it from College in the afternoon, and hieing yourself away to the “Virginia” for a few happy restful moments with your favorite “movie” stars. But you should not be compelled to leave the campus to find diversion. There should be amusements here for you. It is miserable weather; the campus is a bottomless swamp, and you, of course, cannot enjoy out-door sports.

What you need, then, is in-door amusement. Well, perhaps this may be created. It will depend upon some man with mosquito pep to push this—not some wishy-washy fellow with no mind where his hat rests. If a “Chess and Checker Club” could be organized, under the direction of the Y. M. C. A., a number of men like yourself would not need to spend the old gentleman’s hard-earned kale in order to enjoy an afternoon.

This club could meet in the Y. M. C. A. room, in Section C of Dormitory No. 2—that is, if the Y. M. C. A. should sanction it. There would be no roll-call, no definite meeting hour. There would be pipes galore, and, if the weed-lovers should wish, several cans of the favorite tobacco. There you could loaf, chat, read, or play checkers. Anybody could belong, provided he loved the “Red and Blue.” That makes us all eligible, doesn’t it? This was suggested by a member of the Faculty, who is most interested in students and student life, as he has heretofore proven. It is an excellent idea. Do you [v]olunteer to start something? The gauntlet is at your feet.

–The Collegian, University of Richmond, No. 7.  29 January, 1915

Collegian Newspaper Archives at


The Man Who Invented Christmas


Scrooge and Marley illustration by Arthur Rackham.

Dubbed “the man who invented Christmas” by the London Times Supplement, Charles Dickens certainly captured the hearts and imagination of many generations with his wonderful novella, A Christmas Carol. Few people are not familiar with the story of the bitter old miser who through ghostly intervention comes to understand the joy of the season. You can find examples of this work in the Galvin Rare Book Room, illustrated by either Gustav Dore or Arthur Rackham.

In 1850, Dickens started his own publication—Household Words. The title was taken from Shakespeare’s Henry V’s speech, “Familiar in their Mouths as household words”. The thin publication cost two pennies with no advertisements or illustrations. With the running header, “Conducted by Charles Dickens”, the journal printed original stories and crusading social journalism. Dickens published Hard Times and A Child’s History of England in the journal along with almost 200 solo articles, stories, poems and “chips” (short satirical pieces). There were also more than 380 other contributors, 90 of whom were women like Elizabeth Gaskell. Wilke Collins, Henry Morley, and a host of unnamed writers writing in a Dickensian style filled the pages of the journal every Saturday from 1850 to 1859.

Copies of Christmas Numbers in Galvin Rare Book Room.

Copies of Christmas Numbers in Galvin Rare Book Room.

And come December, there was always a Christmas Edition with special stories and articles just for the season. Dickens contributed “The Christmas Tree” to the first “Christmas Number” followed by unattributed stories such as “Christmas in Lodgings” or “Christmas in the Navy”. By 1852, the Christmas number became “A Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire” and finally the number carried the name of the leading story in the journal. Each story and poem chronicled Victorian life with all its light and dark moments, as so much of Dickens work did.

Come by the Galvin Rare Book Room and take a look at our collection of Christmas numbers of Household Words. We guarantee it’s no humbug.