The Friendship of Dr. Wyatt T. Walker and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image of three photographs of Drs King and Walker

Left: Photo of Dr. Walker and Dr. King working together. Center: Photo of Dr. King at Birmingham Jail taken by Dr. Walker, 1967. Right: Photo of Dr. Walker at Birmingham Jail taken by Dr. King, 1967. Image taken from Let Wyatt handle this, University of Richmond Magazine.

For this week’s #WyattWalkerWednesday, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this past Monday, I want to focus on Walker and his relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I have processed some material connected to their relationship, and Wyatt’s general biography includes plenty of details about their friendship.

Walker and King first met in seminary in 1952. Although they attended different seminaries, they met through an inter-seminary organization called the Inter-Seminary Movement, hosted by Walker’s seminary, Virginia Union. King, who was the president of his student body at his seminary, Crozer, attended the organization that Walker, as president of the student body of his seminary, hosted. Afterwards, Walker was brought to King’s attention through much of the civil rights work he organized and enacted during his time in Petersburg, VA while he was pastor of Gillfield Baptist Church, including his work to desegregate diner counters and the public library. Walker also created the Petersburg Improvement Association during this time, an organization that used King’s Montgomery Improvement Association as a model.

In 1958, Walker would join King’s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In 1960, Walker left Gillfield and became King’s chief of staff – King would also take this opportunity to appoint Walker the first, full-time executive director of the SCLC, a post he would hold for 4 years. If you’ll recall last week’s post, it was during this time that Mrs. Walker, along with her husband, was jailed for 5 days as part of the Freedom Riders movement in Jackson, MS.

The late ‘50s and early ‘60s seem to be the time when Walker and King become nearly inseparable. Almost every photograph of King has Walker sitting or standing just behind or next to King, and Walker’s oral history confirms how closely they worked together. It was Walker who planned, coordinated, organized, and implemented the Birmingham Campaign, also known as Project C, a major series of protests in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s that resulted in both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and King’s perhaps most famous written work, the Letter from Birmingham Jail. This letter, which Walker hails as “the most important document of the twentieth century,” was something Walker worked on personally. According to Walker, he was “the only one in Birmingham who could understand and translate Dr. King’s chicken scratch writing.” So as lawyers smuggled King’s writings out of the jail, it was Walker who translated the text – and when his exhausted secretary fell asleep at the typewriter during one late night translation session, it was Walker who finished typing the letter.

While it was Dr. King’s 1963 efforts in Birmingham that have remained in the public consciousness for the past 50+ years, it was his return in 1967, when he voluntarily turned himself in, that Dr. Walker accompanied him. Their time in the Birmingham Jail in 1967 was the only time Dr. Walker was imprisoned alongside Dr. King, and is when Walker took the photo of King sitting and looking through the bars, and Dr. King reciprocated by taking a photograph of Dr. Walker. Both pictures are shown above.

Throughout the remainder of King’s life, Walker was a nearly ever-present figure. After King’s assassination in 1968, Coretta Scott King requested that Walker plan the funeral and homegoing service. Walker, who was at that time newly installed as the pastor of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem, flew to Atlanta to plan, organize, and implement the service, including the famous march from Ebenezer to Morehouse. Walker would later recall this as both “one of the capstones of my organizational career” and “probably the saddest day of my life.”

Overall, it is obvious that Dr. Walker and Dr. King were very close. While Dr. Walker has many other accomplishments to his name, his work with Dr. King on the Civil Rights Movement is an important part of his legacy, and his close friendship with Dr. King is equally important to understanding both his legacy and his identity.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s #WyattWalkerWednesday post! As always, you can follow the library’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts to keep updated on what’s going on with the Walker Collection and other happenings around Boatwright. Check back here next week for another #WyattWalkerWednesday post, too! We’ll see you then.

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.

Spuriouser and spuriouser, part III

Boatwright’s 1810, third edition of Lord Byron’s English Bards and Scotch Reviewers is, as its catalog record suggested it might be, a spurious edition. It was most likely produced not in 1810 but two years later and without Byron’s knowledge by his old publisher, James Cawthorn. Reading about our spurious English Bards led me, disorientingly, to three literary forgers: Cawthorn, Thomas James Wise, and George Gordon De Luna Byron, introduced here in a series of three posts that tell the story of a forgery, later verified as such by a forger, who was himself the victim of a forgery.

George Gordon De Luna Byron, a.k.a. de Gibler

While English Bards was flying out of London bookshops, its author toured Cádiz. There, according to one source, Byron met and married a Spanish countess. Returning to England two years later, Byron ignored the marriage, which at that time would have been void anyway. His secret bride, the Countess De Luna, wrote to him from her death bed some thirteen years later, informing him of the existence of their illegitimate son. In Greece and on his own death bed, Byron died before receiving the letter.

This story, which is probably untrue, comes from the man who claimed to be that son of Byron and the Spanish countess, a man who called himself, at times, Major George Gordon De Luna Byron, and, at others, de Gibler. What we know about his adult life, that he was a literary forger, and the fact that no one has corroborated his stories, makes what he wrote about his youth more than a little suspect. He may or may not have studied in Switzerland; he may or may not have lived in Virginia.

We do know he left the States for London in 1844, where he continued a letter-writing campaign to Byron’s publisher and family members. In these elegant, polished letters he laid out his relation to Byron, described his hardships, and asked for money. The year before, he even asked for an example of Byron’s autograph. “No doubt he was even then, in 1843, practising that art of imitation of Lord Byron’s handwriting which later he managed to bring to such a high degree of perfection,” wrote his biographer. For while in London de Gibler began in earnest an entirely different kind of letter-writing campaign, one in which he copied the correspondence of poets like Byron and Shelley, sometimes altering the letters with new texts, perhaps making up some himself, then slipping the letters onto the market.

Wise, the ubiquitous bibliographer of Byron, whose own stories of an upper class childhood were “probably unprovable” or “probably untrue,” tried to alert the buying public to his predecessor in forgery. In his bibliography of Byron, Wise describes a copy of the authorized second edition of English Bards, which includes an inscription purportedly from Bryon himself: “sun shining Grecianly—Lemon trees in front of the house full of fruit—damn the book!—Give me nature and two eyes opposite.” But the inscription, Wise concludes, “is not genuine. It was the work of the man de Gibler.”

Wise was not always so quick to ring the alarm, however. He relied in part on an 1872 book called the The Unpublished Letters of Lord Byron to flesh out Byron’s scandalous lifestyle for the two-volume bibliography. Seventeen of the letters are addressed to a lover, “L.,” one of which alludes to a child born out of wedlock: “the child ***** is dead, and I do not regret it, though a bastard Byron is better than no Byron.” Wise could not help but include the story.

Unfortunately The Unpublished Letters of Lord Byron was a dubious volume. Some of the letters were in fact already published, and some of them, like the letter about yet another never-before-mentioned child, were likely created by de Gibler in his campaign to gain proximity to the life and fortune of Byron. Disappointed to discover the book was not what it pretended to be, the publisher pulped all but ten copies of it before sale. One of those copies came to be owned by Harry Buxton Forman, and from Forman it changed hands to his partner, Wise. Byron experts pleaded with him to reconsider mentioning the “L.” letters in his work, but Wise insisted the letters were utterly Byronic; he salted his bibliography with them anyway.

These then were spurious texts cited in a bibliography, which is now cited in the catalog records of spurious books. From the time I began cataloging our copy of English Bards it seemed there was a compromised book under every rock turned. Like all catalogers I stuck to a principal of representation when working with English Bards, representing the book as it represented itself, that is, transcribing things like year and edition from the title page. But in the case of English Bards, representation isn’t enough when telling our students and faculty exactly what we have. A second, more challenging principal, accuracy, instructs catalogers to give extra information correcting any ambiguous or misleading statements. To correct my description of English Bards I reached for reference sources. All confirmed that our edition was spurious, but they also surrounded it with a parade of nineteenth century fraud. With each step in my reading trust gave way and the lesson was repeated: a book is not always what it says it is, a title page can lie to you.


Ehrsam, Theodore G. Major Byron: The Incredible Career of a Literary Forger. Charles S. Boesen, 1951.

Barker, Nicolas and John Collins. A Sequel to An Enquiry into the Nature of Certain Nineteenth Century Pamphlets by John Carter and Graham Pollard: the Forgeries of H. Buxton Forman and T.J. Wise Re-examined. Scolar Press, 1983.

Wise, Thomas James. A Bibliography of the Writings in Verse and Prose of George Gordon Noel, Baron Byron. Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1972.

Partington, Wilfred. Thomas J. Wise in the Original Cloth: the Life and Record of the Forger of the Nineteenth-century Pamphlets. Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1974.

Lord Byron on his Death-bed from Wikimedia Commons.

Photograph of inscription from Wise, Thomas James. A Bibliography of the Writings in Verse and Prose of George Gordon Noel, Baron Byron. Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1972.

Spuriouser and spuriouser, part II

Boatwright’s 1810, third edition of Lord Byron’s English Bards and Scotch Reviewers is, as its catalog record suggested it might be, a spurious edition. It was most likely produced not in 1810 but two years later and without Byron’s knowledge by his old publisher, James Cawthorn. Reading about our spurious English Bards led me, disorientingly, to three literary forgers: Cawthorn, Thomas James Wise, and George Gordon De Luna Byron, introduced here in a series of three posts that tell the story of a forgery, later verified as such by a forger, who was himself the victim of a forgery.

Thomas James Wise

Thomas James Wise is the bibliographer most often cited in catalog records for English Bards. The same record that suggested our 1810 third edition “may be spurious” also referenced Wise’s two-volume study, A Bibliography of the Writings in Verse and Prose of George Gordon Noel, Baron Byron, which details at length eight spurious reprints of the English Bards third edition.

John Carter, a book dealer then in his late-twenties, recognized the Byron bibliography as authoritative when it was published in 1933. Writing for the Times Literary Supplement, he called it “a contribution to its subject of such magnitude and importance as no additions or corrections can sensibly affect.” However, while Carter could not offer any additions or corrections, he did list “certain points and queries.” It was due to these substantial if polite criticisms that Carter decided later that year not to call on the proud Wise, then in his mid-seventies, to discuss a personal project. He sent his research partner, Graham Pollard, in his place.

Pollard and Carter

Pollard, another young book dealer, visited Wise in his London home on the 14th of October. There, he summarized his and Carter’s investigation into the origin of several purportedly first-edition pamphlets that had come onto the market at the turn of the century, titles like “To Be Read at Dusk” by Charles Dickens and Brother and Sister by George Eliot. After analyzing the paper and typefaces used in the pamphlets Carter and Pollard had concluded they were fakes. And since many of them had been bought and vouched for by Wise, they wanted to know if he could account for the discrepancies. They also wanted to know, although they couldn’t explicitly ask, if Wise himself was the forger.

He was. In 1886 Wise had the printer Richard Clay use newly available printing technology to create a facsimile of a Robert Browning first edition for the Browning Society. Facsimile printing taught Wise and fellow bibliographer Harry Buxton Forman how easy it was to make new books look like old books. Together Wise and Forman, working with a witting or unwitting Clay, forged at least 100 pamphlets until around 1900. But instead of meticulously duplicating existing editions, Wise and Forman created their own, backdated editions of known poems and simply called them “first editions.” Half the battle then was not only inventing the edition but inventing the story that would support its origin. In the case of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese, published in 1850, Wise peddled a story in which the poet was persuaded by her husband to first print the sonnets privately. Wise claimed he had acquired that 1847 private printing when in fact he and Forman had created it decades later.

Although Wise and Forman’s fakes circulated until the early 30s, there was already a cloud developing over them in the late 1890s: an American dealer in 1898 referred to an “uneasy feeling” and “grave suspicions” about the pamphlets. It was enough of a cloud for Wise to soon cease production of the forgeries. The laugh was with him until 1934, when Carter and Pollard published the result of their investigation, An Enquiry into the Nature of Certain Nineteenth Century Pamphlets. Without direct evidence, their book did not outright accuse Wise of being the forger, but it did nevertheless coolly and ironically place all the available evidence at his doorstep. Irrefutable proof came in 1945, eight years after Wise’s death, when some well-preserved notes between Wise and Forman were finally made public.

And so, after learning from a bibliography about the details of Cawthorn’s forgeries, I discovered the bibliographer himself was a forger. Like Cawthorn, Wise worked from an existing relationship with a printer to take advantage of a demand in the market (though in Wise’s case, there has been speculation about other, less rational motivations—mischief, power, fetishism). Wise even used the bibliographies he wrote to authenticate his forgeries, bibliographies of Swinburne and Ruskin for example.

I hesitated: did Wise use his Byron bibliography to prop up his own Byron forgery? Luckily, I did not see Byron’s name in a list of Wise and Forman’s works; matters then were not complicated by a spurious spurious edition, that is, a Wise fake pretending to be a Cawthorn fake. But my object lesson in the untrustworthiness of books continued. While the discussion of English Bards was free of Wise’s own illicit collaborations, other parts of the bibliography were indeed tainted by the work of another forger altogether.

Next: George Gordon De Luna Byron


Carter, John. “Notes on the Bibliography of Byron.” The Times Literary Supplement. 27 April, 1933.

MacDonald, Dwight. “The First Editions of T.J. Wise.” The New Yorker, 10 November 1963, pp. 168-205.

Photograph of Wise from Wikimedia Commons.

Photograph of Pollard and Carter and of Daily Herald headline from: Carter, John and Graham Pollard. An Enquiry into the Nature of Certain Nineteenth Century Pamphlets. 2nd ed. Edited by Nicolas Barker and Joan Collins, Scolar Press, 1983.

Spuriouser and spuriouser, part I

Boatwright holds a copy of Lord Byron’s English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. “A satire,” it says on the title page, “third edition…printed for James Cawthorn…1810.”

As a cataloger for Rare Books & Special Collections, I set out to record everything I knew about our copy of English Bards: the edition, the publisher, the names on the bookplates. I began by looking for a catalog record that I could build on from among the millions of records shared between libraries. But the record that best matched the details of our copy—third edition, 1810, 85 pages—contained a phrase I had never seen in a record before: “may be spurious.”

Spurious books, I found, are books “printed without the knowledge or consent of the author.” Produced behind the author’s back, they can often be forgeries or piracies. Knowing this, I suddenly wasn’t sure which edition of English Bards we actually had. Was it the third? Was it not? And if I couldn’t trust the details on the title page, what could I trust?

Answering these questions led me to three literary forgers: James Cawthorn, Thomas James Wise, and George Gordon De Luna Byron, introduced here in a series of three posts that tell the story of a forgery, later verified as such by a forger, who was himself the victim of a forgery.

James Cawthorn

Byron began his verse satire, then called British Bards, while a student at Cambridge, but it took on new life and purpose when the Edinburgh Review humiliatingly panned his first book, Hours of Idleness. “As an author,” he wrote, “I am cut to atoms.” His revenge on the critics, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, was published in London in 1809. It sold through four editions in two years.

By the time the fifth edition was printed and ready to sell, however, Byron saw the poem as a burden to his new, literary friendships: “I can only say that it was written when I was very young and very angry.” He called for the suppression of all existing copies. But public demand ran high. In 1814 his publisher, James Cawthorn, offered Byron 400 guineas for the right to sell the fifth edition copies; again, Byron refused. Meanwhile, pirated copies were selling well. They had Cawthorn’s name on them; some said “third” or “fourth” edition. But they were not printed in the original run of third and fourth editions, and at no point did Byron consent to their publishing. “I have to inform you that the First Edition of the ‘English Bards’ has been pirated in Ireland,” wrote Cawthorn to Byron. “I have a copy of the pirated edition.”

Long after both Byron and Cawthorn had died bibliographers attempted to sort through this “inextricable tangle” of spurious English Bards editions. They noted, for instance, that some copies of the 1810 third edition bore watermarks with dates after 1810. Reading this, I took up a flashlight, aimed it behind a leaf in our copy, and found exactly the kind of watermarks these bibliographers referred to. Our “1810” English Bards was printed on paper that did not exist until 1812. We had one of the many “poor counterfeits, at the best, of Cawthorn’s work.”

Who was making such poor counterfeits of Cawthorn’s work? Some at the time felt it was Cawthorn himself. In 1816 Byron’s new publisher obtained an injunction against Cawthorn, preventing him from ever again printing English Bards. Over a century later, renowned bibliographer Thomas James Wise flatly rejected Cawthorn’s theory of Irish forgers. “No Irish edition that will fit this date is known,” Wise wrote. “There can be but little doubt that the ‘information’ given by Cawthorn to Byron was invented by him, and was concocted with the object of diverting attention from the spurious editions he was himself producing.”

As another bibliographer put it, Cawthorn was “both dishonest and sloppy.” To continue reaping profits from Byron’s popular work, Cawthorn put the already-printed fifth edition in title pages that said “fourth,” and it was likely he that made new editions misleadingly labelled “third”—one copy of which I had in my hands. And the injunction did not stop him. “In 1819 (and perhaps even later),” wrote Wise, “he was still printing and circulating unauthorised editions of the Satire. The laugh was with him after all.”

Next: Thomas James Wise


“‘Let Satire Be My Song’: Byron’s English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers. Harvard,

Byron, George Gordon Byron. English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. James Cawthorn, 1810 [1812-?].

Wise, Thomas James. A Bibliography of the Writings in Verse and Prose of George Gordon Noel, Baron Byron. Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1972.

Byron, George Gordon Byron. The Works of Lord Byron. Edited by Ernest Hartley Coleridge. John Murray, 1905.

MacAlister, J.Y.W., editor. The Library: A Quarterly Review of Bibliography and Library Lore. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner and Co., Ltd., 1900.

Randolph, Francis Lewis. Studies for a Byron Bibliography. Sutter House, 1979.

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.

New Spaces!

Construction is finished, and we are so pleased with our brand new spaces.  During the past six months, our space on Level B1 of Boatwright Memorial Library has slowly been taking shape.  We’ve watched with eager anticipation as the new reading room and the new classroom were created.

new reading room

New reading room

Our new reading room space is designed for research use.  The glassed-in room showcases the beautiful hardwood floor and the new custom shelving.  With the new room come new procedures, too, as now all materials will be brought to the researcher.  Although we will miss having researchers in the actual rare book room, the new spaces allow for much better environmental controls for the collection.

The new classroom is equally beautiful.  It has flexible table designs to accommodate seminar-style or lecture-style classes or to allow for exploring large oversized documents like Japanese scrolls.  The large monitor provides much-needed internet access as well as display options, increasing the possibilities for classroom instruction in the space.  The first few classes we’ve held there this semester have given the space rave reviews, and we look forward to hosting many more in the years ahead.

new classroom

The new classroom space

We hope you’ll come visit our new spaces in person!  For Spring Semester 2017, the reading room is open Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from 1:00 – 4:30 p.m. or by appointment.