Friday, November 30, 2007

Exhibit Mashup No. 1: Dickens meets Goetzel meets the WPA

A new exhibit will be on display in the lobby of the Hoole Library beginning next week, which features some incredible little artifacts in our collections. These figurines were created as part of the WPA-funded project, the Alabama Visual Education Program.

The Alabama Visual Education Project came out of cooperation between The State Department of Education and the Visual Education Project of the Work Projects Administration. It provided a way for public schools in Alabama to purchase high quality visual aids for education purposes at a low cost. Some of these items are now housed in the Hoole Special Collections Library, including a catalog from 1940 listing items which were available for purchase by Alabama public schools. Also included in the collection are the instructional books Flags, Seals, and Coat of Arms of Alabama published in 1939 and History of Western Costume: prehistoric through nineteenth century, published in the 1930’s and featuring 114 full color plates with detailed descriptions.

We have chosen to exhibit this set of beautifully carved and painted wooden figures depicting characters from Charles Dickens novels. It is understood that decades ago, this set was used for teaching/visual aids by UA's English Department. Also created was a set of Shakespeare figures and Chaucer figures, but only two of the other figures are part of the Hoole Collections.

These tiny figures taken from Charles Dickens' novels and the hand-made wooden storage boxes are compelling and unique items to behold. The Hoole Library also holds a scale model of Shakespeare's Globe Theater, which was created as part of this project.

This exhibit features just the Dickens characters, as well as some of
Dickens' works housed at the Hoole Library, as well as images from these books -- of course featuring his compelling and classic Victorian morality tale, A Christmas Carol.

The most important volume from our collections exhibited is an 1863 edition of Great Expectations printed by Goetzel in Mobile in 1863. This confederate imprint, though rebound at some point long ago in a library binding is an important piece of Alabama history. Please stop by and see this unique convergence of Victorian London, Confederate-era Mobile, and Depression-era Tuscaloosa. This exhibit was developed largely by Amy Allen, SLIS graduate assistant, working with Jessica Lacher-Feldman.


DevoutDuck said...

Congratulations on what appears to be a very fine seasonal as well as historical collection covering three major time frames (the WPA era as well as the topical Dickens era and Confederate publishing in Alabama). I have worked with Amy in other classes and know she has the talent and dedication to produce a remarkable exhibit. Kudos to all involved as well! Scott Whiting

Kristy said...

This is fantastic! Those little WPA guys were my favorite things in all the collections at Hoole. It's nice to see them in the spotlight. Great job, Amy, and hi from Charlotte! Kristy Dixon

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