W&M Libraries Blog

A handwritten letter, dated November 18, 1840, from Ann Galt in Norfolk, Virginia to her brother William at UVA. She begins her letter by lamenting "the great loss to the college," the murder of Professor Davis.
August 28, 2019

Today's post, written by Tracy Melton '85, member of the William & Mary Libraries Board of Directors, considers the words we use to describe crime and death in archival work. Read on to learn more about a nineteenth-century fatality recounted in the Galt Papers (Mss. 78 G13). 

A summer 2019 search of the Special Collections Research Center’s manuscripts and archives database found zero “homicides” but sixty-seven “murders.”

Why the overwhelming preference for one keyword over the other? There are specific reasons—for example, the use of “murder” in the criminal...

Previous Posts

Aug 2019

Jul 2019

  • Sydney Miller. She stands in front of a white wall and smiles for the camera, hands clasped neatly at her waist. Her top is a burnt orange color, and she wears two long gold necklaces. Her hair is shoulder-length and dirty blonde.
    July 30, 2019
    Do you keep your receipts? Special Collections has a good number of receipts and these seemingly mundane documents can provide valuable insight into early Virginians’ lives.
  • The title page of The Mythology, by the abbé Banier. Volume 2. A small flower bouquet is printed below the title and author's name. There's a signature on this page: "James Thomson," with the two names separated between the "And" in the book's title.
    July 25, 2019
    L'abbé Antoine Banier and his Mythology are unique in the position they take on the historical nature of myth and legend. Banier was a proponent of euhemerism, a school of thought that claims myths, legends, and folklore all have real historical basis.
  • The northwest coast of France as illustrated on the Senex map. The newly drawn coast line is considerably different than the previous map projection. The previous coastline is outlined in black. The updated boundaries of France are colored in blue-green.
    July 18, 2019
    Joe Catanzaro explains a pivotal moment in cartography captured in our collections.
  • A close-up of Arthur Lee's pseudonym signature: "I am, Sir, your humble Servant, Philanthropos." From his 1767 "Address to Virginia General Assembly"
    July 11, 2019
    Abolition was not a radical nineteenth century idea that miraculously emerged from the political ideologies of the Age of Revolution. A 1767 address from Arthur Lee of Virginia serves as a reminder that the abolitionist movement did not have a linear trajectory, and that individuals protested slavery throughout its existence.
  • Typed letter from a Frank R. Adams, dated May 1, 1955, addressed to Mr. Dolmetsch. Adams, a contributor to Smart Set, writes about Nathan and Mencken, who he calls "the most amusing characters to work with that I have ever met" and "highly respected and
    July 3, 2019
    Before Jon Stewart ’84 and Trevor Noah, before Stephen Colbert and John Oliver and Saturday Night Live, before Tina Fey and Samantha Bee and Andrea Gibson, there was George Jean Nathan and H.L. Mencken. A slice of the Nathan/Mencken story lives in the Special Collections Research Center at Swem Library.

Jun 2019