Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Top 5 Scariest Items in Special Collections and University Archives

As one may imagine, in our department's efforts to preserve unique and historical research, we happen upon certain...  unsettling items. Whether these items are morbid or gruesome, they have a home here, and we cherish them.

On this Halloween, Special Collections and Archives shares with you the top 5 scariest items in the collection. Click here to cast your vote for the creepiest item.

1) The Death Mask of Charles Duncan McIver

One of the creepiest items in the University Archives Collection is the death mask of Charles Duncan McIver, the founder and first president of the State Normal and Industrial School (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro). On September 17, 1906, McIver was traveling on the campaign train of William Jennings Bryan when he suffered a stroke and died at the age of 46. Created by Wells L. Brewer, the death mask is a three-dimensional mold of McIver's face, made soon after his death. The McIver statues on the UNCG campus and at the State Capitol in Raleigh were constructed using this mask.

2) Blades, William. Enemies of Books. London: Trübner & Co., 1880

Special Collections purchased the first edition of Blades’ Enemies of Books in August of 1997 from the bookseller California Collectibles. Unexpectedly, the bookseller chose to send a [thankfully dead] book enemy with the purchase. The enclosed note reads:

THE Book worm

aka “Silver fish”

aka Lepisma saccharina

The above catch weighing in at ¼ gram, was
landed at California Collectible Books July 20
1995 by the store’s manager. Bait used was an
1888 edition of Harper’s Magazine. Said the
conquering hero – who happened to find the dead bug’s
carcass lodged into the old books binding -
“This one won’t be gnawing up and more books!”
A Bookman’s cry of victory.

Blades, both a scholar and a bibliophile, recognized books’ enemies in multiple forms: fire, water, gas and heat, dust and neglect, ignorance, the bookworm, other vermin, bookbinders, and even collectors. Of books themselves he writes:

An old book, whatever its subject or internal merits, is truly a portion of the national history; we may imitate it and print it in facsimile, but we can never exactly reproduce it; and as an historical document it should be carefully preserved.

Along with preserving the historical document that is Blades’ book, we also preserve the bookseller’s documented catch.

3) Parry, John. 1854. The Ploughboy's Polka. Philadelphia (188 Chesnut St., Philadelphia): Lee & Walker.

Although any randomly selected Rachmaninov piece from our archival music collections would be terrifying, this lithograph from a score in the Janos Scholz Music Collection is the stuff of nightmares. There is nothing intrinsic to this piece of music explaining why this caricature looks like it wants to eat your soul, but the longer you look at him, the worst it becomes. This may explain why there are only four libraries (including UNCG) in the world with this item in their collection.  

4) "Skull of My Kitty" from the Scrapbook of Margaret C. Moore

Any random manuscript collection can yield unusual items, but this fragment of a cat skull  in the Margaret Catherine Moore Papers, 1913-1982 is impressively eerie. Well, to be honest, the note below the bone fragment reading, "skull of my kitty," is what makes it creepy. We suspect it is from one of her dissection classes.

Margaret Catherine Moore (1913-1975) was a Woman's College alumna, nurse and nurse educator after whom the UNCG School of Nursing building is named. Moore enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps in May 1944. In 1949, Moore took a position as Instructor of Medical-Surgical Nursing at the Winchester Hospital before moving on to become the Administrator and Director of Nurses at the Warren Memorial Hospital in 1951.

5. "Dead Man's Boots" from the Helen Bolling Potts Papers (Women Veterans Collection)

Helen Bolling Potts was a "Donut Dolly" during WWII. The Donut Dollies were women working with the Red Cross who were responsible for boosting the morale of wartime soldiers long separated from their girlfriends and wives. It was critical that these women not only be cheerful in personality, but also attractively dressed.

While working in the Red Cross Clubmobile providing refreshments to soldiers, Potts' stylish shoes were ruined. The commander of the regiment on to which Potts was attached ordered his assistant to fetch a pair of boots from the room in which the items of dead soldiers were stored. Potts continued working that day, bolstering the morale of soldiers while wearing the boots of a dead one.

Bonus Features

Alma and Spencer Garlow Doll Collection: An American Family — 1630 to 1900

The dolls in the collection were created ca. 1962 by doll maker Helen Bullard (1902-1996) and carved from horse chestnut wood. Ms. Bullard named this collection of dolls “An American Family — 1630 to 1900.” She created nine generations of couples dating from 1630 to 1900. Each couple is shown at their age of marriage wearing their Sunday-best clothes and identifies their station in life. In 1985 Mrs. Alma Garlow, Woman's College (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro) Class of 1934, loaned the dolls to The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) School of Home Economics.

Intending to represent the ideal of an American family, it is difficult to determine which is scarier--the dolls or the artist's interpretation of the perfect household.

Photograph Album from the Clara Fredere Sullivan Collection (Women Veterans Collection)

Clara Releder Fredere Sullivan served in the US Army as a nurse during WWI. During this time, packs of small postcards were sold as commemorative souvenirs to troops and support staff stationed in Europe. These pictures sometimes depicted some of the more disturbing, candid shots from the war front. The men laying down in the above photos as not sleeping; they are dead German soldiers.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Celebrating North Carolina Archives Week

This week -- October 21-27 -- is North Carolina Archives Week, an annual, week-long observance of the agencies and people responsible for maintaining and making available the archival and historical records of our nation, state, communities and people. The Archives Week theme for 2013 is "Home Grown! A Celebration of N.C. Food Culture and History."

Preserving food during World War I
To celebrate, SCUA has developed an exhibit in Jackson Library featuring images, publications, and other archival materials related to culinary history. Stop by the large exhibit case at the library's College Avenue entrance through the end of October to see historic images from the campus's dairy farm, home economics department, dining halls, and more!

You can also read excerpts from Tea-Kettle Talk, a 1924 cookbook published by the Alumnae Association of the North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG), on the Spartan Stories blog.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The George Darden Music Collection

George Darden
The Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) is pleased to announce the donation of an extensive opera and piano music collection by the distinguished pianist and conductor, George Darden. The new George Darden Music Collection enhances the University Libraries’ support of student learning in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, and provides an exceptional archival music resource to researchers worldwide. It includes nearly 200 annotated scores, 22 monographs, and an impressive collection of signed photographs and tear sheets from the Metropolitan Opera.

George Darden’s 1963 debut featured a solo piano performance with the Savannah Symphony. After studying under pianist, Carlisle Floyd, and mezzo-soprano, Elena Nikolaidi, at Florida State University, Darden established himself in the Texas Opera Theatre and the Houston Grand Opera in major projections such as Il Barbiere di Sivilia and Of Mice and Men. In 1985, he began his collaboration with the Metropolitan Opera, providing piano and music preparation for major works by Mozart, Verdi, and Rossini. Darden is acclaimed as the authority in productions of Porgy and Bess, having directed the musical preparation for 165 performances.

George Darden’s reputation for expertise in piano and vocal music preparation contributed to his collaboration with the biggest names in opera. He has been heard as the piano behind some of the most famous performances by soprano Renée Fleming, including Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, Dvorak’s Rusalka, and Massenet’s Manon. Additionally, he accompanied such celebrated vocalists as Marilyn Horne, Kiri Te Kanawa, and Sir Thomas Allen. George Darden’s friend, Plácido Domingo, has said, “If I was singing or conducting, I always hear in your playing the weight, feeling, and colors from the orchestra.”

The George Darden Collection is marked by its documentation of these artistic collaborations, featuring the original, thoroughly annotated scores employed for the productions. Notable items include Darden’s annotated copies of Porgy and Bess and Of Mice and Men. In addition to the performance notes, many of the scores and books are signed by the stars of the productions, such as a cast-signed score of Fledermaus and a collection of specially bound works of Carlisle Floyd, many of which are inscribed by Floyd to Darden.

Mr. Darden retired from the Metropolitan Opera in 2006, having been credited with musical preparation for five operas televised on PBS’s Emmy Award-winning The Metropolitan Presents series. He is recorded on several labels, including RCA. George Darden was awarded South Carolina’s Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian award for lifetime service to the state and nation, in 2000. This award is included with the collection, as well as a framed photograph of Darden receiving the award from South Carolina governor Jim Hodges.

Among the most visually stunning items within the collection are a series of performance photographs, signed tear sheets, and letters framed in gilt, chronicling George Darden’s performance history while at the Met. Displayed within this portion of the collection are the official Metropolitan Opera performance photographs with opening night tear sheets, frequently signed by the stars of the production. Prominent gems are a framed and signed photograph of Sergei Rachmaninov, and a signed photograph and manuscript piece by Frtiz Kreisler. Included among the framed material is a group portrait from the 10th Anniversary Gala for the National Endowment of the Arts signed from Lady Bird Johnson to George Darden.

“Given Mr. Darden’s association with numerous universities and production companies nationally, as well as his distinguished career internationally, we are deeply honored by Mr. Darden’s selection of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro as the official repository of his archive,” says Dean of the University Libraries Rosann Bazirjian.

The George Darden Collection at UNCG further expands the Special Collections and University Archives rich collection in the performing arts, joining such noted music collections as the Harold Schiffman Archive, the Egon Wellesz Contemporary Music Collection, and the Cello Music Archive.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What’s New in SCUA

Mary Channing Coleman
This month in SCUA, we’re showcasing a painting that we’ve recently acquired from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) Kinesiology Department.  The portrait is of Mary Channing Coleman, painted by Albert A. Wilkinson, head of the UNCG News Bureau from 1947-1967. Coleman was a long-time faculty member at Woman’s College; she was both a Professor of Physical Education and later the department head. Born in 1883 in Virginia, she attended the State Female Normal School (Virginia), Wellesley College and Columbia University.  In addition to her work at Woman’s College, Coleman served on the faculty of Winthrop College (South Carolina), Detroit Public Schools (Michigan), Margaret Morrison College of the Carnegie Institute of Technology (Pennsylvania), Columbia University (New York), and Toronto (Ontario, Canada).  She also served with the Red Cross Military Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during World War I.

Beyond her academic involvement, Coleman was heavily involved in organizations devoted to the advancement of physical education, including the North Carolina Physical Education Society (president), Southern Physical Association (president), and National Amateur Athletic Association (charter member).  She traveled all over the world studying centers of recreation, including those in Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Turkey, Greece, Austria, and Poland.  Coleman wrote articles for several professional journals and other publications.  She died in 1947 at the age of 64.  Coleman Gymnasium, now located on the UNCG campus, is named in her honor.

In an essay written about Ms. Coleman, now located in the University Archives, the author talks about her as being “knowledgeable, stimulating, inspiring, and strict…Her chief concern for the profession was to emphasize that physical education was an integral part of the education of all children.”  We hope that you’ll come by to view the painting of Mary Channing Coleman, and be sure to keep an eye out for our monthly exhibits.  And now you know “What’s New in SCUA.”

Rachel Sanders
Student Libraries' Advisory Council 
UNCG Historical Society 
Peer Career Ambassador
UNCG Career Services Center 
Phi Alpha Theta - History Honor Society
Kappa Delta Pi - Education Honor Society