Sometimes, even the University Library doesn’t know about all of the things it has in its collection.
Take the strange case of Adolf Hitler’s tax returns. While searching around for Headlines in December, I stumbled upon an odd article in London: The News, an otherwise forgettable piece that included this rather startling passage: “Hitler’s tax returns from 1924 too 1935 can be seen either in the Bavarian State Archives or the Alderman Library of the University of Virginia, USA.”
I had never heard of U.Va. possessing any of Hitler’s papers, so I queried Alderman’s nearly infallible reference desk. The librarians there know nothing of it.
Still, it seemed to be a pretty specific reference, naming not only the University, but Alderman Library specifically. So I emailed Molly Schwartzburg, a curator at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. And then I forgot about it for more than a month.
As a former history major, your faithful correspondent has enjoyed the daily feature in the Daily Progress on Civil War history. I really should bookmark this site, too: the Special Collections Library‘s “150 Years Ago Today” blog, that retells the story of the Civil War through the writings of soldiers and others, including diaries and letters.
Here’s one entry from today, written by a soldier in a Confederate quartermaster’s unit:
I have regretted that I did not send you a fuller and more
lengthy account of the late battle of Fredericksburg, since you
seem to have been interested in the brief account given. I’ve
been into town several times since I wrote to you, and witnes-
by my own senses the damage and destruction done
by the vile yankees. It seemed incredible to me upon the
affirmation of others, but I can truly state that they
did not relate the half. Words are too inadequate to
give a just and accurate account of all of their work. The
most of it was done during the first night after they
came over. Surely God visited them for it, heavily too,
on the next day. The battle field was a most horrible sight,
literally covered with dead men and horses. Although
we have had rain twice or three times, still as you walk
over the battle field you can see the stains of blood
on the ground from their dead and wounded.
I wasn’t planning on blogging about this, but I think it offers an interesting window into the whole “future of higher education” discussion.
A fourth-year student named Jacob Ericson recently posted on the Digital Curation Services blog about the responsibilities he has been given as a student worker, helping to digitize valuable and fragile holdings from Special Collections. “Many people find it astonishing that the University would hire students with little to no previous library and archival experience to work with the delicate rare materials housed in the Special Collections Library,” he writes.
According to its introductory post, it will “offer glimpses into all aspects of Special Collections here at the University of Virginia: new acquisitions, instruction, little-known collections, staff projects, exhibitions, special events, and more.”
Special Collections offers much more than old books and documents; according to its home page, it “holds more than 16 million objects including manuscripts, archival records, rare books, maps, broadsides, photographs, audio and video recordings and more.” While its stacks are not publicly accessible, patrons can request items to view in the library’s reading room.
We’ll look forward to hearing more about the collections as the blogging gets going!
Which, of course, brings us to the annual Halloween on the Lawn celebration. As always, the festivities will be held Oct. 31, from 4 to 6 p.m. The Lawn residents invite all local children (and their chaperones) for a fun evening of candy and other cool stuff before they head out to get even more candy in their neighborhoods.
William Faulkner died 50 years ago today, but lives on through the University of Virginia Library’s digital archives and the work of English professor Stephen F. Railton.
Faulkner, who made Southern culture come alive in his novels and short stories about the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, was U.Va.’s first writer-in-residence in 1957 and ’58. His lectures were recorded on the most advanced technology of the time – reel-to-reel tapes that are part of U.Va.’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.
Hear “the sound and the fury” of Faulkner’s voice here.
Adams’ speech praises the virtues of America; Lincoln justifies the Civil War and asks Congress to validate actions he took unilaterally; and Wilson speaks at Gettysburg on the 50th anniversary of that defining battle.
The story behind the Declaration of Independence, from its first printing to popular 19th-century facsimiles, is illuminated through the Albert H. Small Declaration of Independence Collection, the most comprehensive collection of letters, documents and early printings relating to the declaration and its signers. The collection traces the writing, printing and dissemination of the declaration in 1776, and subsequently, its remaking in the years after the Revolution into the American icon it is today.
Documents and letters from the signers bring to life the stories of the individuals who took great risks at that pivotal moment in American history. One was U.Va.’s founder, Thomas Jefferson. He drafted the Declaration of Independence at age 33 with help from John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, and later called it “an expression of the American mind.”
The library would like signs from Monday's rally. (Photo by Cole Geddy)
UVA Today’s Rob Seal reports:
The University of Virginia Library is compiling a record of artifacts – both digital and physical – related to the recent resignation of U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan and the response from the University community.
“The library is leading a team that will collaborate to objectively collect all of the materials related to these events,” said Bradley Daigle, the library’s director of digital curation services, who said the team is specifically looking for items that wouldn’t normally be preserved by the University’s Records Management office.
A couple of U.Va. folks are featured in a Smithsonian Channel documentary, “Jefferson’s Secret Bible,” that airs tonight at 9.
According to the Smithsonian’s description:
Relatively few people know that along with authoring the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson also compiled his own text, drawn carefully from passages extracted out of the New Testament, that he titled “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.” The book, which focused on the ethical teachings of Jesus, was a private undertaking for Jefferson and never made public in his lifetime. Now, experts at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History are meticulously conserving this fragile volume, page by brittle page. Along the way, they discover subtle hidden clues to Jefferson himself.
Why and when did pages replace scrolls? What’s an elephant folio? Who was the founder of the Blubber Head Press?
“The Oxford Companion to the Book” answers all sorts of questions you didn’t know you had, in dozens of essays and more than 5,000 entries on the evolution of books and literacy. Edited by U.Va. English professor Michael F. Suarez, director of the Rare Book School, and H.R. Woudhuysen, the two-volume set is a treasure trove for booklovers and anyone curious. It was bound to win recognition. Continue reading…