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Must Love Dogs: Journal of a Neglected Bulldog

11 October 2017 - 10:00am

You may recall from our first series blog post that the Special Collections Research Center holds the second largest collection of books on dogs in the United States.

Today’s blog post highlights one of our many titles, Journal of a Neglected Bulldog by Barbara Blair, published in 1911 by George W. Jacobs & Co. of Philadelphia.

Front Cover, The Journal of a Neglected Bulldog

The Nov. 25, 1911 issue of The Publisher’s Weekly states that “In this book the ‘author’ – a most observant bulldog – relates some of his experiences, comments upon life as he sees it, moralizes upon the human weaknesses and frailties revealed in mankind, and incidentally exposes the love affairs of his master and a certain young lady named Mildred.”  The bulldog – Little Slam – even dedicates the book to “Cats I have Chased.”

Dedication Page

The book also features several illustrations by Eugene A. Furman.

Illustration Illustration2 Inside Illustration and Title Page

If you’re curious to know how the book ends, it is available to read anytime the Special Collections Research Center is open.

The post Must Love Dogs: Journal of a Neglected Bulldog appeared first on An Acquired Taste - Swem Library Special Collections Blog.

Mourning Lincoln

27 September 2017 - 10:00am

In reviewing boxes labeled as “unprocessed ephemera,” a colleague and I came across something really cool.  It is a tiny image of Abraham Lincoln framed in copper.

Lincoln Image

The donor of this item, Mr. L. Muse, sent a letter to the Lincoln Memorial in 1960, inquiring about the piece, stating it was included in a collection of papers belonging to the wife of General George McClellan.

Lincoln Letter 1 Lincoln Letter 2









The letter was answered by James T. Hickey, Curator of the Lincoln Collection at the Illinois State Historical Library.  He replied that based on Muse’s description, it was probably part of a mourning badge, worn during Lincoln’s funeral.  Mourning badges consisted of a small, framed image of the President that was attached to black ribbons and worn either pinned or as an armband. While our framed image is missing its ribbon, it remains in excellent condition.

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Get ready! National #AskAnArchivistDay is Next Week!

27 September 2017 - 10:00am

Have you ever wished you could have all of your archives-related questions answered by an archivist? Well you’re in luck! October 4, 2017 is national Ask an Archivist Day, sponsored by the Society of American Archivists. Our University Archivist, Kim Sims, will be ready to respond to your questions! Just add @SwemSCRC and #AskAnArchivist to your tweet on October 4. We can’t wait to hear what you’re wondering!

SAA’s Ask an Archivist Day logo, 2017

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Must Love Dogs

13 September 2017 - 10:00am

If you’ve ever visited the Special Collections Research Center, you may have learned that we hold the second largest collection of books about dogs in the United States, second only to the American Kennel Club. I love dogs and thought it would be fun to write a series of blog posts highlighting the dog book collection. This brief introduction to the collection will be the first.

Peter Chapin bookplate

Peter Chapin bookplate

The collection began with the donation of over 3,000 volumes and a modest endowment by Howard M. Chapin in 1937, officially establishing the Peter Chapin Collection of Books on Dogs. Peter Chapin was Howard’s cocker spaniel, whose picture is on the collection’s bookplate. In 1988, the collection grew by over 6,000 volumes with the donation of Murray and Shirley G. Horowitz’s collection of dog books. The addition of this collection resulted in what we now refer to as the Chapin-Horowitz Collection of Cynogetica. This is an evolving collection, with new additions added each year.

Peter Chapin

Peter Chapin

Stay tuned for more!

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SCRC’s John Marshall Letters Document Writing of George Washington’s Biography

30 August 2017 - 10:00am

In December 2016, the Special Collections Research Center acquired three letters that join an existing collection of John Marshall Papers (Mss. 39.1 M34). Two of the letters were written and signed by John Marshall and the third is from George Washington’s nephew, Bushrod Washington, to Tobias Lear at Mount Vernon. The letters document John Marshall’s writing of the biography of George Washington, of which the SCRC has a first edition copy. Recent scholarship suggests that writing the biography was an honor for which Tobias Lear, in particular, passionately vied and one that ultimately eluded him (see Ray Brighton, The Checkered Career of Tobias Lear).


Bushrod Washington, who studied under George Wythe at William & Mary, and who was President Washington’s closest relative, was left responsible for all of his uncle’s military, civil, and private papers after Washington’s death. Yet Tobias Lear was present at George Washington’s death and upheld his promise to George Washington to sort his presidential papers. The two men, it seems, were both in a position to claim some authority for using Washington’s papers to pen a definitive biography of the nation’s first president. Yet Bushrod took it upon himself to determine who would author the work, and Tobias later faced suspicion of destroying some of Washington’s papers.[1]


In Bushrod’s letter to Tobias Lear, dated June 13th, 1800, he mentions that he is “extremely anxious to see this work [Washington’s biography] commenced & finished as well upon your account as my own….But as pecuniary considerations are less operative with me than many others, I cannot be otherwise than very nice in selecting a proper person to be the author. As soon as I hear from these gentlemen & have made a decision respecting them I will inform you.” One can only imagine Tobias’s feelings about Bushrod being the decision maker, as Tobias had served as George Washington’s executive secretary, tutor to Martha Washington’s grandchildren, and “was integrated into the Washington household both during and after the presidency.”[2] Though Bushrod Washington had encouraged the writing of a biography, and Tobias Lear was eager to complete the task, John Marshall agreed to write it and Bushrod allowed Marshall to take temporary possession of many of the president’s papers while he worked on the biography.[3]


The other two letters are from John Marshall to Henry Lee and John L. Lawrence, two men who had written to him about the biography after its publication. His letter to Henry Lee provides clarifications and specifications about various details in his biography of George Washington. Likewise, in his letter to Lawrence, Marshall thanks the man for providing insight and information on “the small body of militia assembled near Jamaica in Long Island in August 1776” and General Woodhull’s involvement in the battle. Marshall states that “it is to me matter for deep concern and self reproach that the Biographer of Washington should, from whatever cause, have misstated the part performed by any individual in the war of our revolution. Accuracy of detail ought to have been, and was, among my primary objects.”


As part of the Marshall Papers collection, these documents join letters between the Chief Justice and his family, with one of the highlights being his book of law notes. Among his notes is his doodle of his beloved’s name, Polly Ambler. The volume is currently on exhibit at the National Constitution Center.

[1] J. Dennis Robinson, “The Rise and Fall of Tobias Lear” [a “condensed version of The Checkered Career of Tobias Lear by Ray Brighton], Seacoast NH,

[2] Meredith Eliassen, “Tobias Lear,” George Washington’s Mount Vernon,

[3] Maria Kimberly, “George Washington’s Papers,” George Washington’s Mount Vernon,

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“The Looted Book”

16 August 2017 - 10:00am

Institutional knowledge is an awesome thing and something that is often taken for granted and/or overlooked. I recently learned a cool story surrounding one of the rare books housed in Special Collections, thanks to former Dean of W&M Libraries, Nancy Marshall.

During the War of 1812, Peter Wilson, the surgeon aboard the British ship Moselle, looted the medical textbook, An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolæ Vaccinæ, a Disease Discovered in Some of the Western Counties of England, Particularly Gloucestershire, and Known by the Name of the Cow Pox, by Edward Jenner, M.D., from Denbigh Plantation in Newport News.

An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolæ Vaccinæ, a Disease Discovered in Some of the Western Counties of England, Particularly Gloucestershire, and Known by the Name of the Cow Pox, by Edward Jenner, M.D. (1802)

An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolæ Vaccinæ, a Disease Discovered in Some of the Western Counties of England, Particularly Gloucestershire, and Known by the Name of the Cow Pox, by Edward Jenner, M.D. (1802)

The significance of this book is that it focuses on vaccination, which at that time was a very new cure for smallpox. The volume was passed down through Wilson’s family, ultimately coming into the possession of his great-granddaughter, who lived in New Zealand. The book was acquired from her by a New Zealand physician. Historian, author, and friend to W&M Libraries, Spotswood H. Jones of Gloucester, spent two decades researching the history of the book and ultimately discovered its New Zealand location. Pox Book Pages

Upon learning that Library Dean Nancy Marshall would be traveling to New Zealand in October 1990, Jones, who named the volume “The Looted Book,” reached out to the owner and asked if he might be willing to return the book to its homeland, via Marshall. He agreed. Since its return to Virginia, the volume has resided in the Special Collections Research Center in Swem Library.

For more information about “The Looted Book,” please read the William & Mary News article from December 1990 (page 5), found here:

Pox Book Page Image

Illustration of pox symptoms.

Pox Book Title Page

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Mosaic Intern’s Work Offers Glimpse of Artistic Text

9 August 2017 - 10:00am

What do Indiana Jones and the Content Services Mosaic Intern have in common? We both spend our days searching for historical treasure: in my case that involves paging through old texts—often plain or even dirty in appearance—researching their autographs and marginalia, and mining valuable snippets of the lives of people important to both our local and national history. Occasionally, I do have the opportunity to handle a book whose cover reflects its treasure inside, like the Canon Missae ad Usum Episcorum, ac Praelatorum Solemniter, vel Private Celebrantium (1755), donated by Ralph H. Wark and Patrick Hayes.

Full-bound in red morocco with gilt tooling, blind stamping, and gilt design.

Full-bound in red morocco with gilt tooling, blind stamping, and gilt design.

The Canon Missae, or Canon of the Mass, is part of the Roman Missal, the liturgical text for the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Catholic Church. This edition, as was common until the the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), is written wholly in Ecclesiastical Latin.

In addition to the text are engraved vignettes and full-page illustrations, rich with sacred and allegorical scenes.

Detail of vignette signed “M. Beylbrouck sculp[it].”

Detail of vignette signed “M. Beylbrouck sculp[it].”

For example, the vignette to the left depicts the authority of the Catholic Church as given by God. Underneath the wings of the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, rest two female figures who appear to be a double allegorical representation of the Catholic Church or papacy. Veiled, the woman on the left shows the Church as the bride of Christ. She holds a cross as well as a chalice and host, signifying the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. The woman on the right rests her hand on an anchor, a symbol of the Church’s authority. At the center of the vignette, directly beneath the Holy Spirit, lies the papal insignia.

Most of the full-page engravings were signed by a woman, Suor [Sister] Isabella Piccini. Elisabetta Piccini (1644-1734), who later took the name Isabella when she entered the Convent of Santa Croce, learned her artistic skill from her father, Giacomo, a Venetian engraver. She contributed engravings to many liturgical books, biographies of saints, and prayer manuals published in Venice. (Although one may find it strange that Suor Isabella’s work predates this book, it was not uncommon for plates of engravings to be reused in printings.)

 Suor Isabella P[iccini] f[ecit].

Bottom left-hand corner: Suor Isabella P[iccini] f[ecit].

In the image seen here on the right, Suor Isabella masterfully depicts the Seventh Station of the Cross: Jesus falls the second time. Take time to look at each individual. With the halo drawing the viewer’s eyes to Jesus’s face at the center of the engraving, one sees sweat and tears and exhaustion. Follow Christ’s eyesight to the woman in the bottom left-hand corner staring back worriedly. Look at the cloth she is holding, which bears the face of Jesus. The imagery identifies the woman as Veronica. Let your eyes roam over the expressions of the soldiers. Suor Isabella leaves no doubt as to what each person is feeling in that moment.

I could go on—this article barely scratches the surface of the magnificence of this Canon Missae—but I think this is something you should see in person. Bonus: Swem Library holds two other editions! Come discover these breathtaking treasures yourself at Special Collections.

Written by Olivia Jameson, Mosaic Intern

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Instruction in Special Collections: A Closer Look at SCRC’s Recent Acquisitions

2 August 2017 - 10:00am

With a goal of not only collecting and preserving texts and objects for future generations, the Special Collections Research Center is devoted to acquiring books and artifacts that can benefit instruction at William & Mary. Chinese scrolls, facsimiles of medieval texts, and a replica of Dead Sea scrolls are just a few examples of items in the SCRC that faculty have frequently used in their teaching. The SCRC recently acquired copies of two important historical texts, and Professor Jeremy Pope provides insight on how exciting and useful these works are for both faculty and student use:

These two 19th-century series that Swem has purchased both capture moments of exceptional importance in the history of Western perception of Africa, and they will be centerpieces in the upper-level lecture course that I have taught for the past eight years, “HIST 320: Nubia Americana: An African Kingdom in American Thought, 1627-present.”

The volumes published by Frédéric Cailliaud in 1826-1827 are from the infancy of European exploration into the interior of the African continent, long before the advent of scientific archaeological excavation. At that time, Western knowledge of the African past was heavily dependent upon the fragmentary testimony of ancient Greek and Roman authors who had never traveled south of Egypt—men like Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, and Pliny the Elder. Authors like Pliny perceived the more distant reaches of Africa as realms of monstrous abnormality, while others like Diodorus traced the roots of ancient Egyptian civilization to an even more ancient “Ethiopia”—the term Greeks used to refer to the vast territory south of Egypt, including especially the region of Sudan that scholars today call “Nubia.” Diodorus’s text was widely debated in early modern Europe and America, motivating several European explorers to lose their lives in search of Meroe, the ancient capital city of Ethiopia as recorded in Greek texts. At the end of a long and dangerous voyage in 1822, Frédéric Cailliaud became the first Westerner in modern times to visit and document the ruins of ancient Meroe, and he was so overcome with emotion that he started weeping uncontrollably at first sight of them. In the past, I have had to resign myself to merely telling my students about Cailliaud’s discovery, but thanks to Swem’s recent purchase I can now show students the artful, sepia-tone and hand-painted volumes that Cailliaud published upon his return to announce his discovery—including a rare, tipped-in letter signed in Cailliaud’s own hand!

The volumes published by Richard Lepsius in 1849-1859 cut in a very different direction. Following in the wake of explorers like Cailliaud, Lepsius organized a research expedition into Egypt and “Ethiopia” (Nubia), but unlike so many of his predecessors, Lepsius was trained in the new discipline of Egyptology and could therefore translate the ancient hieroglyphic writing inscribed upon the monuments at Meroe. As a result, he reached a very different conclusion: Lepsius claimed that Diodorus’s account had been wrong, and that the visible monuments and inscriptions in Nubia were instead the result of Egyptian culture diffusing into the south. Lepsius’s pronouncements would not be the final word on the subject, but they had a deep impact upon scholarly and public opinion for more than a century. Moreover, Lepsius’s project was generously funded by the Prussian government, so that he was able to use the new and expensive techniques of chromolithography to promote his findings in sumptuous, full-color prints and detailed maps on truly enormous folio pages. The volumes are entitled Denkmaeler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien (Monuments from Egypt and Ethiopia), but, because of their size and expense, they are equally monuments of 19th-century Prussian nationalism in a European competition for global scientific leadership. It is nearly impossible to find a complete set for purchase today, so Swem has instead acquired faithful reprints that my students will examine during the course. Instead of showing them mere PowerPoint images, I can now let the students experience the materiality of these books as monuments in their own right.

Image from Permalink Denkmaeler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien

Image from Lepsius’s Denkmaeler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien

Cailliaud, Voyage a Méroé

Cailliaud, Voyage a Méroé

Cailliaud's tipped-in letter with signature

Cailliaud’s tipped-in letter with signature

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Work at SCRC Involves More than Books: An Intern’s Perspective

26 July 2017 - 10:00am

“You work at the library? So, do you put books away and stuff?”

Er – no.

While our vast collection of books is one of the astonishing things that I love about Earl Gregg Swem Library, on a normal day I am usually sliding between computer screens, meetings, and the occasional trip to the Daily Grind.

I enjoy the ‘Burg’s sweltering summer heat while staying cool in Special Collections. As one of the four undergraduate Mosaic Summer Interns, I have been partnered with my mentor Carmen Bolt, W&M Libraries’ Oral Historian. We’ve worked together to research, prepare, and conduct oral histories, which is a neat way of saying we audio- and visually-record people’s unique stories about William & Mary; so far these individuals have included alumni and faculty.

I’ve also gotten the chance to work in different departments of the library: I have helped curate an exhibit in the library for the 50th anniversary of African Americans in residence, and I even took a class with fellow students and faculty, creating a mural for the 50th!

This internship has given me a chance to learn many skills and open my eyes to see librarianship in a new way. Being in spaces surrounded by the history and narratives of others–and learning more about how we present these memories–has all allowed me to create a more complete view of my Self Design Interdisciplinary major: Digital Storytelling. I’m so glad I took this opportunity and worked with such a wonderful and supportive team! Swem Library will forever be a home inside of my green and gold home!

Written by Mosaic Intern Azana Carr

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An Intern’s Experience in Special Collections

19 July 2017 - 1:37pm

From the warm and welcoming reading room to the frigid ground floor stacks, the Special Collections Research Center offers a wealth of historical resources, right at the heart of campus. I am grateful to have the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes look at the SCRC and explore many of its treasures this summer through Swem Library’s Mosaic Internship Program.

As an intern in William & Mary Libraries’ External Relations Office, I am writing several articles that will be featured in the W&M Libraries’ biennial report, slated to come out this December. While working on these articles, I have talked with many members of the W&M community, including the SCRC’s Oral Historian Carmen Bolt, Music Librarian Kathleen DeLaurenti, and the new Vice Chair of the W&M Libraries Board of Directors, John Johnson. Between juggling the various other assigned writing projects, I have examined many collections in the SCRC as I work on a story about W&M alumni collectors who have donated their collections to the university.

I knew working on the article would be a lengthy project, not only because it would take time to get in touch with several alumni and interview them, but also because I wanted to familiarize myself with their collections beforehand. Over the past several weeks I have taken many trips to the SCRC to look at a variety of collections: documents signed by 17th– and 18th– century Virginian governors, film posters from the 1930s-1970s, and American almanacs published during the Revolutionary War, to name a few.

The first alumnus I reached out to was Barry Martin, a 1959 graduate who initially donated manuscripts to the W&M History Department before later donating a large collection of books on the American Revolution to the SCRC. When I interviewed him on the phone, he was delighted to recall his experiences as a young collector and student at W&M. Martin had been interested in the American Revolution from a young age, leading to his first purchase at age 13 of a document featuring John Quincy Adams’s signature. Reflecting on his time as a W&M student, Martin recalled that the campus library was much smaller, as it was located at what is now Tucker Hall. Martin also spoke of his American history professors with great admiration, reminding me of the importance of educators (like professors and librarians) in telling and preserving the stories of our past for future students.

I also had the pleasure of viewing a collection of lantern slides and stereoviews donated by 1971 alumnus, Kelvin Ramsey. I had never heard of a stereoview before, and was intrigued to find out that it is an instrument used to create a 3D illusion. Ramsey’s slide and stereoview collection features a wide variety of images, including Virginia landmarks, tobacco farms, and even Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt. Ramsey, a geologist, has visited just about every county and corner in Virginia, and his collection reflects his admiration for Virginia history and culture.

I look forward to hearing about the experiences of the other alumni I have yet to interview. As I continue to talk with more and more people from the W&M community, a common thread among these narratives becomes clear: Virginia is our home. Not only a home to W&M, but a home to a revolutionary spirit that I hope will live on for centuries to come. It has been exciting for me to take a firsthand look at these documentations of history, and I hope that others who have the opportunity to visit the SCRC feel as engaged and inspired by its collections as I do. As I reflect on my time at this internship, I have realized a newfound appreciation for the SCRC’s efforts to preserve and document Virginia history. And as a native Virginian, I am proud to call Virginia my home, sweet home.

Written by Alea Al-Aghbari, Mosaic Intern

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“[T]o be published in the usual places”: The proclamation of William and Mary as King and Queen

5 July 2017 - 10:00am

What is the difference between printing and publishing?

This is perhaps something many of us don’t think about, but there is a difference. After all, we now speak of things being published on the internet, so there is not an inherent relationship between print and publication, at least not anymore. Two documents from the Thomas G. and Louise Rowe Pullen collection perfectly illustrate how important news was published in the past, and they do so with reference to the process by which our own William and Mary went from being Prince and Princess of Orange to King and Queen.

Thomas G. and Louise Rowe Pullen Collection, MS 65 P96, Box I, Folder 3

Thomas G. and Louise Rowe Pullen Collection, MS 65 P96, Box I, Folder 3

In November of 1688, William, Prince of Orange, landed an army in England to confront his father-in-law and uncle, James II of England, VII of Scotland. The Catholic James had become deeply unpopular, and many thought he was a danger both to Parliament and to Protestantism. James fled the country, and debates began about what should happen. Should he be succeeded by his daughter, Mary, or by her husband? In the end, the Convention Parliament that had been called to resolve the crisis offered the crown jointly to William and Mary, making them the only joint monarchs in English history.

Thomas G. and Louise Rowe Pullen Collection, MS 65 P96, Box I, Folder 3 [detail]

Thomas G. and Louise Rowe Pullen Collection, MS 65 P96, Box I, Folder 3 [detail]

These documents show how that decision became public knowledge. On one hand we have the printed declaration, explaining how and why the decision has been taken, and proclaiming William and Mary King and Queen of England, France and Ireland. Yet that document has been altered by someone writing on it, which tells us that all of this was publicly proclaimed before the printed text was posted:

“This was proclaimed solemnly on Wensday the 13th of Febry 1688 about 11 a clock in the forenoon at Whitehall Gate by the Herald in the presence of the Lds & Commons, and immediately after within Temple bar, in Cheapside, and at the R. Exchange. The Ld Mayr Recorder & Aldermen being also present at the three last places with the said Lords & Commons”

These were all public places – the Palace of Whitehall in the City of Westminster, and several locations in the City of London – a ceremonial gate, a major market, and the stock exchange. So the first news was published vocally, and in the presence of a lot of important men.

Thomas G. and Louise Rowe Pullen Collection, MS 65 P96, Box I, Folder 3

Thomas G. and Louise Rowe Pullen Collection, MS 65 P96, Box I, Folder 3

The next stage was the publication of the printed text. A document from the same collection, signed by the members of the Privy Council, is the order to post printed proclamations like the one discussed above. The document was to be “published in the usual places” so that it could be read as well as heard, and everyone should then know that William and Mary were now the King and Queen.

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