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Handmade books and the Old Stile Press

14 March 2018 - 10:00am

Most of us have probably read – or at least heard of – the “Book of Revelation,” but how many have really experienced it? Working with the Old Stile Press, Natalie d’Arbeloff has created a version of the “Book of Revelation” like none other, a version that blends words and images with artisan printing to convey not only a story, but also the dark and chaotic undertone of an apocalypse.

Woman clothed in the sun

“Woman clothed in the sun,” The Revelation of St. John the Divine (Special Collections Research Center Rare Book – Vinyard (N6797.D37 A76 1999 folio)

The Revelation of St. John the Divine is a recent addition to our Vinyard Collection of artists’ books. It has more than fifteen double-page spreads printed from linocuts by d’Arbeloff, all housed like a triptych in a nod to the contents’ sacred origins.



Created in the valley of the Wye River in Wales, Revelation was constructed by Frances and Nicolas McDowall, a husband-and-wife team who spend their days pushing the traditions of private presses. They seek artists and printmakers to feature in handmade books at their Old Stile Press, and work closely with those artists to create the final product. Each project is different; a book’s binding and printing is often reflective of its contents, which range from traditional stories to the printer’s own poetry.

Some books, such as The Third Thing (also found in the Vinyard Collection), use previously published selections of text reimagined with new designs.

River mates, The Third Thing

“River Mates,” The Third Thing  (Special Collections Research Center Rare Book – Vinyard (Z232.O43 T45 2013 folio)

"Old English Riddle," The Third Thing

“Old English Riddle,” The Third Thing



This one contains selections of both poetry and prose on the topic of water, with accompanying woodcut prints by Ralph Kiggell. The Third Thing is a fantastic example of how the McDowall’s harmonize a book’s contents, binding, and printing methods. The light blue case binding pictures swimming Japanese koi fish, and Nicolas McDowall used Japanese woodblock techniques on his western press to create prints with layers of translucent color that capture the fluidity of water.

Title page, The Third Thing

Title page, The Third Thing


Our collection of artists’ books is ever-growing and teeming with innovative ways to redefine the traditional codex; the Old Stile Press is only a small introduction to the craftsmanship found hidden amongst our Special Collections.




Written by Kathryn Downing, Cataloging Specialist

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Must Love Dogs: Knitting

28 February 2018 - 10:00am

If you’ve ever had a dog, you are no doubt aware of the amount of dog hair that accumulates on your floor, furniture, and clothes. There have likely been times when you have said something along the lines of “There’s enough hair here to knit a sweater.”  Well, if you ever get the desire to gather up all of that hair for such a purpose, the Chapin-Horowitz Collection of Books on Dogs can hook you up with “Knitting with Dog Hair: A Woof-to-Warp Guide to Making Hats, Sweaters, Mittens & Much More.”


According to the authors, dog hair “produces a yarn that has a lovely ‘halo’ of fuzz, much like mohair or angora. Though not as elastic, it is even warmer than wool.” Some of the reasons they advocate for knitting with dog hair include: it’s good for the environment, it’s kind to animals, and it reinforces family values because it is a craft the whole family can participate in.

In addition to various patterns for sweaters and cardigans, the authors provide a breed-by-breed run down of dog hair.  For example, the Bullmastiff has a “lousy coat for spinning,” the English Pointer has “no spinnable coat at all,” but the English Setter provides a “fairly soft topcoat to blend.”

The authors also make a really good point, at least in my opinion: “. . . clothes made from a critter you know and love are just so much more special than clothes made from some anonymous sheep.”

As an aside, if you’re interested in needlepoint, we also have books that feature dog patterns!


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21 February 2018 - 10:00am

For many black students who attended William & Mary during the 1980s and 1990s, “Dean” was a term of endearment—a title that demanded respect because it identified the power player in their corner—and only one individual carried that distinction: Dean Carroll Hardy.

Dean Carroll Hardy

Dr. Carroll Hardy

Dr. Carroll Frances Stuart Hardy joined William & Mary in 1980, as Associate Dean of Minority Affairs (later, Multicultural Affairs and presently, the Center for Student Diversity). She later become Associate Vice President of Student Affairs in 1990, and from 1995 to 1998, she served as Associate Dean of Students. Her entire career at William & Mary, and indeed, her life outside of the school, was dedicated to fostering opportunities and spaces within which students could succeed.

During her career, Hardy established programs for students of diverse backgrounds such as the Student Transition Enrichment Program (STEP), organized the National Black Student Leadership Development Conference for college students, and founded the Hulon Willis Association, William & Mary’s African American alumni affinity group.

Many articles and interviews covering Carroll Hardy’s career and life intimated her role in increasing and retaining the number of black students at William & Mary. In 1988, The New York Times published an article titled, “Success Strategies for Minorities,” which heralded Dean Hardy’s methods of advocating for students and described her as: “a tall, black matriarchal figure who mixes sternness and tenderness in nudging her charges to perform,” and defined her role as being “central to the transformation.” In the article, Hardy stated: ”I’m honest. I’m fair. I’m a friend and I’m dependable. And they know that nothing is too bad that they can’t tell me, that I won’t help them find a way to do whatever they need. I cajole. I pray. But the thing I give them more than anything else is I believe in them. I believe they can learn, will learn and do learn.”[1]

Dr. Carroll Hardy passed away on November 27, 2012, the same year she was recognized as an Honorary Alumna of the school to which she had dedicated so much of her life. While her absence continues to be felt, her legacy at William & Mary is palpable. Beyond the accounts found in periodicals, Dean Hardy’s impact can be seen simply by walking onto the William & Mary campus. In 2016, the residential housing building formally known as Jamestown North was renamed “Hardy” in honor of Carroll Hardy’s devotion to her students. It became the first building named after an African American woman on campus. Additionally, the Carroll F. S. Hardy Scholarship Endowment was established in 2017 to commemorate and honor the former dean.

Screenwriter and producer Will Fetters once wrote, “Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.” How true this statement rings for the life and legacy of Carroll Hardy. More than in a building or in text, the significance of Dean Hardy’s life can be felt most acutely in the memories of those whose lives she impacted most. As an oral historian, I study memory and how and why certain moments and individuals stay with us long after an interaction or event passes. As part of the 50th Anniversary of African Americans in Residence Oral History Project, I have captured the memories of numerous individuals to chronicle the lived experience of African Americans at William & Mary. It is rare that the name “Dean Hardy” does not come up as a response to the question: “What mentors or advisors were particularly helpful or influential?” Time and again, interviewees smile and say, “Dean Carroll Hardy,” sometimes with a quivering voice or tear. These emotions convey Dr. Hardy’s legacy in a way that paper and brick never can. I close this post with a few “fingerprints” left by Dr. “Dean” Carroll Hardy:

Earl Granger, ‘92

“And [the STEP program] was what really introduced me to William & Mary, which ultimately framed and influenced my decision to apply a year later for admission. And I owe a lot of that credit to a woman who was here, who’s now deceased, Dr. Carroll Hardy…We used to call her Dean. And for years I had often heard of this woman, Dean, and I actually thought it was her name, not a title that’s associated with academic titles or whatever. But that’s the reason that I ultimately came to William & Mary, Dean Hardy.”

“…the other thing that Dean Hardy would often say to us is, “I need you to remember that this is your institution, so I need you to own it, and so I need you to own that experience.” And so, for her it was very much about creating student leaders and encouraging student leader development. And so that’s…I felt like I was taking advantage of those opportunities presented to me.”

“And I think she gave us the confidence. But what she did, I think she instilled in us that you’re here because you belong here, and you can do it. Now you have to apply yourself. And that’s not to say you don’t need help. It’s okay to ask for help. But do your part to ensure that you can get the help that you need. And I think that’s the one thing that sort of stuck with many of us.”


Connie Swiner, ‘81

“And then after that Dr. Carroll Hardy came to follow him, and she was everybody’s like advisor, mom, disciplinarian, whatever. And with me being, you know, in leadership, you know, it was that motivation that I talked about, I definitely wanted to interface with her about what was going on and what have you.”

“Yeah, she was great. She didn’t play, but she was great.”


Thomas Johnson, ‘92

“[Dr. Hardy] was by far the biggest influence on me while I was here.”

“Dean Hardy was very in tune to bringing in people that were popular at the time—people that were making a name for themselves in the African American community. And then she involved us in those roles. I remember going to the airport to pick up Giancarlo Esposito…and for me, at nineteen years old, to drive to the airport to pick up a celebrity that I had watched on shows like A Different World…it was just an amazing experience…So to have a minority administrator be in tune to bring in the things that appeal to our culture and what we did at the time was a gift that I don’t think we knew the gravity of at the time we were here.”

“She realized that she had put into place outlets for us as students here on campus and that she was looking out for us here on campus. But she also realized that we would graduate. And what was there for us to maintain that same connection when we graduated and have an affinity toward the college? So she… and a couple other people decided we needed an African American affinity group…It was a vision of hers. She set a committee in place to look for what she wanted and that’s how [The Hulon Willis Association] was born.”

[1] Joseph Berger, “Success Strategies for Minorities,” The New York Times (New York, New York), Aug. 7, 1988.

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Founders: The People Behind William & Mary

14 February 2018 - 10:00am

This year’s Charter Day marked the 325th anniversary of the founding of The College of William & Mary by William III and Mary II, the first and (to date) only joint-monarchs in British history. An exhibition in the lobby at Swem Library brings the focus to William and Mary – the people, not the university.

The exhibition features personal letters written by each of the monarchs, a lock of Queen Mary’s hair, and a book given by William to his nephew, the Duke of Gloucester, after whom Williamsburg’s DoG Street is named. Unfortunately the young duke died before his uncle, and the book remained in the royal collection. It was given to The College of William and Mary by Queen Elizabeth II during a visit in the 1950s, serving as a potent reminder of the long connection between the university and the Crown.

The Duke of Gloucester’s coat of arms in the manuscript of the statutes of the Order of the Garter given to William, Duke of Gloucester, by William III, and given to The College of William & Mary by HM Queen Elizabeth II UA Bound Volumes Collection

The Duke of Gloucester’s coat of arms in the manuscript of the statutes of the Order of the Garter given to William, Duke of Gloucester, by William III, and given to The College of William & Mary by HM Queen Elizabeth II
(UA Bound Volumes Collection)

Another item in the exhibition explains why William and Mary became joint monarchs. It is a broadside piece of propaganda designed to secure support for the regime. In 1688 Mary was the daughter of King James II of England, VII of Scotland, and was living in the Netherlands with her husband William, Prince of Orange. James had become king only three years before, but was the first Catholic monarch in more than a century, so his short reign over his mostly Protestant subjects was already contentious. When his second wife gave birth to a baby boy, ensuring that the next monarch would be a Catholic king instead of the Protestant Mary, the crisis became urgent. William was ‘invited’ to intervene, and in November of 1688 he landed in England with a Dutch army. James’s own army disintegrated or went over to William, and James himself fled to the Continent. And so a constitutional crisis began about what to do when the king had left the throne.

Broadside of reasons for crowning William and Mary as joint monarchs DA 460 R4 Rare Book

Broadside of reasons for crowning William and Mary as joint monarchs
(DA 460 R4 Rare Book)

Because of the preference for hereditary succession among the men in the special Parliament called to deal with this matter, the settlement had to involve Mary as James’s elder daughter. But William also wanted to be king, especially as he was about to bring England into a war with Louis XIV of France and needed the English army and navy. So it was that the two became joint monarchs–although executive power was vested in William as the husband, explained in what we would think rather sexist terms at the end of the broadside (left). This constitutional wrangling also explains why this university is named ‘William & Mary,’ although ‘The College of William’ or ‘The College of Mary’ probably wouldn’t have quite the same ring to it.

“Founders: The People Behind William & Mary” is on view in the Swem Library lobby during the month of February.

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The Royal Charter: Manuscript and Print

8 February 2018 - 10:00am

On February 8, 1693, the Royal Charter establishing the College of William & Mary in Virginia was written. William & Mary President James Blair brought both English and Latin versions of the twelve page document with him from the Court of William & Mary at Kensington Palace. The original copy of the charter establishing the College was lost about the time of the American Revolution. The most complete story of the Royal Charter is found in English professor Frank B. Evans’ monograph on the subject, published by the Botetourt Bibliographical Society in 1978. Professor Evans began his article with the statement: “The story of the royal Charter granted in 1693 to found the College of William and Mary would be simpler, but less interesting, were it not for the story of a document which is lost.”

The first contemporary copy acquired was discovered in a trunk in an attic at Harvard University and was given to William & Mary in 1931. Originally, it was a splendid copy of the document, however, it was badly water damaged at some point before it was given to William & Mary and is in need of conservation.

A second contemporary manuscript copy, thought to have belonged to Sir Edmund Andros (the royal governor of the colony of Virginia at the time of the founding of William & Mary) was purchased at auction in 1977. Professor Evans speculated that perhaps Ralph Wormeley, Secretary of the colony of Virginia, made this translation from Latin into English for Governor Andros. The image of its first page is used on Charter Day programs, publications, websites, etc.


First page of the Charter

The only mention of the disappearance of the original charter is an extract from the Proceedings of the Faculty for March 28, 1791. This extract was written by professor of history, Robert J. Morrison, who taught at the College from 1858-1861. The original minutes no longer exist. The extract, which is held in manuscript form at the Library of Virginia, reads as follows:

“The Society being informed by M. Bellini that the original charter of this College which is lost, was some years past seen by him in the possession of a certain Karjavina, a native of Muscovy, who declared that it was his intention to deposit the same among the archives of St. Petersburg in Russia. Resolved etc.”

Professor Evans followed his monograph on the Royal Charter with another on the relationship between Carlo Bellini, Professor of Modern Languages, and the shadowy figure of “Karjavina” who was actually Fedor Vasil’ evich Karzhavin, a Russian trader who was in Williamsburg in 1779-1780 and again in 1785-1787.

It is not known if Fedor Karzhavin took the original charter with him, but it is known that it is not in the Karzhavin papers at the Archives in St. Petersburg. There is some speculation that Bellini himself might have taken the Charter or lost track of it.

The annual celebration of Charter Day is primarily a twentieth century development, initiated by President John Stewart Bryan in 1937. Previously, Transfer Day was celebrated on August 15th. It commemorated the official transfer of the charter to the College of William & Mary and its presentation to President James Blair and the faculty on August 15, 1729.

If you are interested in reading a transcription of the Charter, please go here.

While not the first printing of the original College of William & Mary charter, the 1736 edition by William Parks of Williamsburg is the best known. The copy in the Special Collections Research Center is bound in red morocco and gold tooled in Scottish herringbone by an unknown Scottish bookbinder in Parks’ shop. It is one of three known copies. Parks, Williamsburg’s first public printer, hoped to gain favor with the College faculty by printing the Charter.  It was received as a gift from Charles H. Taylor in 1932.

Charter binding

William Parks printed edition, 1736

Both the manuscript and printed edition of the W&M Charter will be on display Charter Day, February 9th, in the main lobby of Swem Library.  The printed edition and a facsimile of the manuscript will be on display through the weekend. If you’re not able to visit in person, the Charter has been digitized.

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The Dark Side of College Life

1 February 2018 - 1:56pm

In my everlasting search for materials relating to African Americans in Special Collections, I was pointed to the 1921 edition of the Colonial Echo. Within its worn cover, there is a single page spread entitled “The Dark Side of College Life.” These are the only words. The rest of the page is filled with several black and white photographs of exactly what one might expect – black employees of the College. Their identities are unknown as the editors of the Colonial Echo did not choose to include the individuals’ names. It seemed to me that this ‘exploration’ of this so-called dark side was a little lacking.

As we enter into the second semester of the 50th Anniversary of African Americans in Residence and begin Black History month, it seems fitting to examine and celebrate the College’s history with the African American community. Full integration – where African American students lived on campus amongst their peers – did not occur until 1967. William & Mary, however, has had a relationship with African Americans since its earliest days.

List of Slaves owned by the College of William and Mary, circa 1780, UA 339

List of Slaves owned by the College of William and Mary, circa 1780, UA 339

The College purchased Nottoway Quarter, a nearby tobacco plantation, in 1718. The sale included 17 slaves. By 1777 the plantation was leased, but many of the slaves remained in the possession of the College. Slaves were an integral part of the day-to-day goings-on of William & Mary throughout the antebellum period. While records of these slaves are few and far between because of the fires the College endured in the eighteen and nineteenth centuries, a “List of Slaves Owned by the College” remains.

Where Brown Hall sits today at the corner of Prince George and North Boundary Streets once sat the Bray School. The original building can be found today at 524 Prince George Street. Between 1760 and 1765, the Bray School served as a school for free and enslaved black children, including those owned by the College.

Malachi Gardiner, University Archives Photograph Collection, UA 8

Malachi Gardiner, University Archives Photograph Collection, UA 8

Though it wasn’t until 1951 that an African American student attended William & Mary, George Greenhow considered himself to be “the only negro ever educated at William and Mary College.” Greenhow served as a janitor during the antebellum era and was taught how to read and write by a student attending the College. In return, Greenhow did the student’s laundry. Until 1951 when Hulon Willis Jr. Began his studies at William & Mary, Greenhow remained the only African American to gain an education – albeit it secondhand – from the College.

After the Civil War, the College of William & Mary closed its doors to students, but the presence of African Americans did not cease. Malachi Gardiner, a black tenant farmer, aided College President Benjamin S. Ewell in ringing the Wren bell every day. The ringing of the Wren bell served to remind the town of Williamsburg – and the nation – that William & Mary would soon reopen its doors.

Henry Billups, Fred Frechette Papers, Mss. Acc. 2000.24

Henry Billups, Fred Frechette Papers, Mss. Acc. 2000.24

Though William & Mary wouldn’t hire its first Black faculty member until the middle of the twentieth century, Henry Billups was lovingly referred to as the Professor of Boozeology. His ability to procure alcohol for staff and students during Prohibition, however, is what earned him his nickname. An employee of William & Mary from 1888-1952, Billups held many different positions. In 1935, Billups was gifted a pocket watch by the Society of the Alumni for 45 years of faithful service. Today, that watch – along with the portrait Billups was gifted upon retirement – are housed in Special Collections.

Inside of KKK flagpole ceremony program, University Archives Subject Files, UA 9

Inside of KKK flagpole ceremony program, University Archives Subject Files, UA 9

In 1926, William & Mary received one very controversial gift; a flagpole given by none other than the Ku Klux Klan. The presentation ceremony brought 5,000 individuals to campus. The College’s president at the time, President Julian A. C. Chandler, used the ceremony to denounce the work of the KKK, despite having accepted the gift. The flagpole has changed locations many times over the years. Today, Professor of English Emeritus Terry Meyers is still searching for the flagpole’s final resting place.

“Lincoln’s Job Half-Done," Marilyn Kaemmerle Collection, 1945, UA 5.058

“Lincoln’s Job Half-Done,” Marilyn Kaemmerle Collection, 1945, UA 5.058

Only six years prior to William & Mary’s first African American student, Hulon Willis Jr.’s matriculation, Marilyn Kaemmerle, the Editor in Chief of William & Mary’s Flat Hat News, was almost expelled for writing and publishing the article “Lincoln’s Job-Half Done.” In the article, Kaemmerle called for the integration of William & Mary and the legalization of interracial marriage. Though she was allowed to graduate, Kaemmerle was removed from her position with the Flat Hat. In the 1980s the Board of Visitors issued an apology to her.

Written by Mallory Walker, Mosaic Fellow.

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“His Soul is Marching On”: Artifacts from the Raid on Harpers Ferry

17 January 2018 - 10:00am

On the night of Sunday October 16, 1859, twenty-three men emerged from the woods surrounding the town of Harpers Ferry, which sits at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers in present-day West Virginia. Armed with rifles and pikes, their mission was to successfully secure the large cache of weapons kept in the town’s armory and expel the U.S. military from the area. Led by the radical abolitionist John Brown, their overarching goal was to end slavery in the South by force, arming liberated enslaved people in Virginia with rifles and arms from the armory so that they could rise up against the white planter class.

Daguerreotype of John Brown, circa 1859 Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-2472 (b&w film copy neg.)

Daguerreotype of John Brown, circa 1859 Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-2472 (b&w film copy neg.)

Brown and his followers initially took control of the armory, but were unable to contact the local enslaved people whose participation was crucial in the success of the uprising. Over the next few days, Brown’s men remained trapped in an engine house at the armory, encircled by a much larger force of federal soldiers under the command of Robert E. Lee and Virginia Militia members under the command of William Booth Taliaferro.

After a standoff, the abolitionists who were still alive or hadn’t managed to escape—John Brown among them—were arrested. John Brown was brought to Charles Town in present-day West Virginia and was sentenced to be executed on December 2, 1859.

Among the items in the William Booth Taliaferro papers at Special Collections are various formal accounts from Taliaferro leading up to Brown’s execution, as well as some more unusual items related to the conflict.

Researchers may request to view a pike that John Brown brought to the armory and had intended for use by enslaved people in enacting revolution. After Brown’s capture, the pikes and other weapons taken by Brown were siezed, and this pike in particular was given to Taliaferro as a gift.

John Brown pike, part of the William Booth Taliaferro Papers collection (Mss. 65 T15).

John Brown pike, part of the William Booth Taliaferro Papers collection (Mss. 65 T15).

The legacy of John Brown sent shockwaves through American discourse and helped ignite the Civil War. Its reverbarations are still felt today, through twenty- and twenty-first-century resistance to white supremacy. John Brown’s pike serves as a reminder of how instrumental artifacts and documents from turning points in history are crucial in developing a sense of both historical power structures and the movitations of people who challenge and create them.


Written by Daniil Eliseev, Student Apprentice.

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Christmas Behind the Scenes

20 December 2017 - 11:36am

There’s nothing like browsing through hundreds of Christmas books right after Halloween to get you in the holiday spirit. Even better is spending hours searching through every box for cookie cutters that were listed under the wrong number. Jokes aside, it was an endless pleasure to pour over colorful illustrations of Santa Claus and pick the perfect pages to display for the campus community. Every year, Special Collections puts together an exhibit of books from the Nancy H. Marshall A Visit from St. Nicholas Collection of books. Coming up with a unique theme for this yearly “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” exhibit was the toughest part until I considered what college students think about most during Finals Week (or at least what I did in college): cookies. I doubt many of you have tasted sugarplums, but the sentiment still holds. I even found the version of The Night Before Christmas that I read as a child. There’s certainly nothing better than a project that involves nostalgia and cookies.

My favorite illustration I came across. Didn’t fit with the exhibit theme, but look at the corgis!

My favorite illustration I came across. Didn’t fit with the exhibit theme, but look at the corgis!

The version of Night Before Christmas that I read as a child.

The version of Night Before Christmas that I read as a child.

(Psst! If you don’t make it to Swem in time to check out the exhibit, fear not! We have a Flickr page with images from many of our exhibits, including this one! Check it out!)


Written by Jane Snyder, Graduate Student Apprentice


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Tis the Season

6 December 2017 - 10:00am

In this month’s dog series post, we decided to focus on dog books related to the December holidays. In doing so, it became quickly apparent that while we have a small number of titles related to dogs and Christmas, we do not have titles related to Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. Our awareness of this deficiently will inform future collecting decisions. If there are specific titles you would like to suggest, please hit us up in the comments section.

In the meantime, please enjoy the covers of some of the Christmas-related dog books we currently have in our holdings.

Puppy who wanted a Boy cover

Thankfully, this book ends happily ever after.

Claude the Dog cover

Claude sweetly gives his presents to another dog who doesn’t receive gifts, because the best present of all, as far as Claude is concerned, is his human.

Twelve Dogs of ChristmasBark before Christmas cover

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