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

Sep 2017

  • September 27, 2017
    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.
  • September 13, 2017
    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.

Aug 2017

  • August 30, 2017
    In December 2016, David B. Wolf, a New York attorney and collector interested in John Marshall and his biography of George Washington, donated three letters that join an existing collection of John Marshall Papers (Mss.
  • August 16, 2017
    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.
  • August 9, 2017
    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.
  • August 2, 2017
    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.

Jul 2017

  • July 26, 2017
    “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.
  • July 19, 2017
    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.
  • July 5, 2017
    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.

Jun 2017

  • June 28, 2017
    Swem Library holds two editions of A grammar of the English tongue, with the arts of logick, rhetoric, poetry, &c., but it is in the earlier one, printed in 1714, that we find something unexpected and extraordinary. This volume belonged to Samuel Clark, who, according to Alumni Oxonienses by J. Foster, matriculated at St. John’s College, Oxford in 1725 at age 18, graduated BA in 1729, MA in 1733, and BD in 1738.