Thursday, December 4, 2008

Forget Cabot Cove -- Anne George's Birmingham and her Southern Sisters Mysteries

Writer, publisher, teacher, and poet Anne George was born on this day, December 4th, in 1927. She passed away in 2001, leaving a literary legacy that reaches far beyond her home state of Alabama.

Anne was born Anne Carroll Bell in Montgomery, Alabama. She was raised by her grandparents initially and moved to rural Lowndes County as a young girl. It was in her childhood that she became enamored with the detective stories -- from the magazines in her grandparents' house. Upon graduating high school, she attended Judson College in Marion, Alabama and graduated in 1949 from Samford University with a degree in English and Spanish.

She married and moved to Birmingham, where she taught English for over two decades. During that time she attended graduate school at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, earning an MA in English and Education in 1971. She also pursued a doctoral degree, and during that time founded Druid Press with her fellow student Jerri Beck. After ten years in the publishing business, they sold the press and Anne began writing full time.

She is best known for her Southern Sisters mystery series. This popular series began as a short story based on herself and a cousin. The first book in the series, Murder on a Girls' Night Out, was accepted for publication less than a week after she sent it to her agent. She eventually published seven books in the series, with such titles as Murder on a Bad Hair Day, and Murder Shoots the Bull. All of her writing is greatly influenced by her surroundings -- making Birmingham, Alabama center stage for her mysteries.

She was also a successful poet, publishing two volumes of her work. Though she is gone, she is not forgotten by her legions of fans who identify with and idolize Patricia Anne and Mary Alice, two unlikely sleuths full of Southern charm and humor.

Anne George, as an Alabama author, is included in the Hoole Library's Alabama Collection.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Farewell to Odetta

This groundbreaking and inspiring folk singer and champion of African-American history and music passed away yesterday. Odetta was born Odetta Holmes in Birmingham, Alabama on December 31, 1930.

When she was just six years old, she moved to Los Angeles with her family. She received classical voice training as a child and performed with a madrigal group (secular music from the Renaissance and early Baroque period -- all vocal) in junior high school, but by the time she finished high school, she became much more interested in other forms of music. She began her adult musical career in a touring production of the Broadway musical, "Finian's Rainbow", a Irish-ish musical with a score that included gospel and blues elements.

After the tour ended, her career blossomed when she performed as a folk singer in San Francisco in the early 1950s. She performed regularly and was close with folk legends Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. She was already well established when the folk music scene became extremely popular and commercial in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Odetta's passionate and soulful voice, and her ability to captivate her audience deeply influenced the career paths of latter day folk performers Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. She was a major influence on singers like Janis Joplin and Bruce Springsteen.

And while she did become involved in acting and in other areas, she remained for her entire life a passionate advocate for folk music and its importance. She said, "The folk repertoire is our inheritance. Don't have to like it, but we need to hear it. I love getting to schools and telling kids there's something else out there. It's from their forebears, and its an alternative to what they hear on the radio. As long as I am performing, I will be pointing out that heritage that is ours." Her passion for African-American folk music still serves as a hallmark of the Civil Rights and Black Pride movements. She was a champion of African-American history and culture both thought and in action -- through her powerful voice and through learning, performing, and sharing these important songs with an audience around the world.

In 1999, she was recognized with the National Medal of Arts awarded by President Bill Clinton, and in 2004, she was a Kennedy Center honoree. In 2000, the Library of Congress honored her with its Living Legend Award.

Sound recordings by Odetta can be found in the Hoole Library's Sound Recording Collections.

"If only one could be sure that every 50 years a voice and a soul like Odetta's would come along, the centuries would pass so quickly and painlessly we would hardly recognize time." --Maya Angelou

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Evening (on film) with Eugene Walter!

"A student of human endeavors on this busy planet." --Eugene Walter

Join us at 7 pm on Thursday, November 20 in Gorgas Library room 205 for a fun-filled evening with a screening of the new documentary film by Alabama native, Bob Clem (Waterfront Pix) on fellow Alabama native and Renaissance man, Eugene Walter!

Eugene Walter: Last of the Bohemians documents the life and career of a writer, poet, actor, artist and raconteur whose work celebrates the art of living and personifies the culture of the coastal South. Living in Paris and Rome, Walter (1921-1998) lent his unique personality and wide-ranging talent to a number of different endeavors, many of them at the heart of the postwar artistic renaissance in Europe -- winning numerous awards for his poetry and fiction, helping start the Paris Review, working with and acting in the films of Federico Fellini and other Italian directors, editing the poly lingual literary magazine Botteghe Oscure and meeting and entertaining many of the most famous writers and cultural figures of his time.

From his beginnings in Mobile, Alabama, Walter was blessed with survival skills that enabled him to live the bohemian life, dedicating himself to artistic pursuits without visible means of support. He ran away from home literally as soon as he was able to walk, moving in with his grandmother, then receiving shelter from Mobilians who recognized his talent and his brilliance.

He lived for a time in a warehouse, then in the back of the city's famed Haunted Book Shop (its co-founder and dear friend of Eugene Adelaide Trigg passed away last month at the age of 89),
then as the ward of local theater patron Hammond Gayfer. Walter would later be honored by his native city as an artistic 'Renaissance Man' for his achievements in so many creative endeavors.

Eugene Walter was one of the last of an increasingly rare breed -- the freelance, wandering poet, living day to day in pursuit of art, truth and beauty. Paris and Rome are no longer the inexpensive cities they were in the aftermath of World War II, where artists and writers could survive on a few dollars a week.

Most writers and poets today have an academic affiliation, or else a full time job with little time left to write, to dream and to live in the fantasy world that Eugene Walter inhabited every single day, to the delight of most everyone he met. His story is not to be missed! The film was funded in part by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional support from the Sybil Smith Charitable Trust, A.S. Mitchell Foundation, M.W. Smith Foundation, Malbis Memorial Foundation and Ben May Foundation.

Eugene's books are included in the Hoole Library's Alabama Collection. There is also a small manuscript collection relating to Eugene Walter at the Hoole Library. You can review Eugene's author information and some of his tangible contributions to literature via This Goodly Land.

Watch a preview! And please join us for a fun opportunity to celebrate this treasured world citizen!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Roll Tide Roll!

The University of Alabama's football team is ranked #1 in both the AP and the USA Today Coaches Poll. This detail from a 1930s UA publication has newfound significance on this Monday in November. Congratulations to Coach Saban and the Crimson Tide!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Holding Court with The Prince of Frogtown! An Evening with Rick Bragg at UA Libraries

There is just about nothing better than a great story. So if you love great stories told by an outstandingly spectacular storyteller, please join us at 7 pm on Wednesday, October 29th in Gorgas Library room 205 for an opportunity to meet renowned Alabama author, Pulitzer Prize winner and University of Alabama professor of Journalism, Rick Bragg.

His latest book, The Prince of Frogtown (Knopf, 2008) is the final volume of his beloved American saga that began with All over but the Shoutin' and continued with Ava's Man. in The Prince of Frogtown, Bragg closes his circle of family with an unforgettable tale about fathers and sons inspired by his own relationship with his stepson.

This event, like all UA Libraries lecture series events is free and open to the public. A book signing and reception will follow the reading, with books for sale courtesy of the Supe Store. The UA Libraries Lecture Series is made possible in part through the generous support of Dr. Lakey and Susan Tolbert. A copy of the flier is available here for download -- and for more information on the UA Libraries Lecture series visit the website at We hope to see you there!

And if you haven't already, take a look at Rick's piece on Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide recently published in Sports Illustrated.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Best-Selling Author was Born....Carl Carmer and Stars Fell on Alabama

October 16 marks the birthday of bestselling author and former University of Alabama professor of English, Carl Carmer. Born in 1893 in Cortland, New York, Carmer came to The University of Alabama in 1927 after completing graduate work at Harvard University. His experiences in Alabama led to his best-selling book, Stars Fell on Alabama.

The New York Times review from the period said, "Carmer reveals himself here as a writer of more than ordinary perceptiveness and imagination, with the power of extracting from what he sees, hears, and feels an essence which is fundamentally poetic."

What he saw, heard, and felt, from experiences all over the state, still stand today as powerful documentation of folkways, and of the racial violence and conflict that existed in Alabama. Carmer became friends with people who took him all over the state, and he experienced first hand everything from foot-washings and shape note singing, to myths and superstitions (like the legendary night in 1833 when "stars fell on Alabama -- the Leonid meteor show
er), as well as the horror of an actual lynching -- and he wrote about it all with great honesty.

Carmer left Alabama in 1933 (coincidently one hundred years after the stars fell...)to serve as the assistant editor at Vanity Fair magazine.

Carmer had a colleague, Clarence Cason -- who also wr
ote honestly about Alabama during this same period. An essay on Carmer and Cason, exploring their work and Cason's tragic fate was published in 2003 in the journal Southern Cultures, by Dr. Phil Beidler of the UA Department of English. This fascinating essay,Yankee Interloper and Native Son: Carl Carmer and Clarence Cason Unlikely Twins of Alabama Exposé is a very worthy read and gives a great glimpse into these two men and the period in which they wrote.

Carmer went on to write thirty-seven books in all, in addition to his editorial and consultant work, advising on matters of folklore for Walt Disney productions! He also recorded four albums of folk music. His most famous work, Stars fell on Alabama has been in print for many years, most recently reprinted by The University of Alabama Press in 2000, with an introduction by former NY Times editor and Alabama native, Howell Raines. The images above are first editions of the book from the Hoole Library's Alabama Collection. Carmer died in 1976 at the age of 93. Today is the 115th anniversary of his birth.

Portrait of Carl Carmer from This Goodly Land entry on Carmer

Visit Alabama Authors at
or Carmer's entry in This Goodly Land to learn more about him and more about Alabama's rich literary heritage!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A-Quiver With Significance: Marianne Moore, 1932—1936

Today in Gorgas Library 205, at 4 pm, Dr. Heather Cass White, Associate Professor of English will read from her book and discuss her project, which includes a collaboration with University Libraries , namely the acquisition of a rare volume of Moore's work, which was turned into a facsimile edition through the work of the Hoole Special Collections Library staff. This is an excellent example of how Special Collections can help to facilitate and further the research and teaching efforts of The University of Alabama faculty and students.

The Pangolin and Other Verse by Marianne Moore.
London: Brendin Publishing Co., 1936.
1 of 120 copies printed at the Curwen Press, Plaistow, London. Drawings are by George Plank.

“Building the edition off of a facsimile reprint of Moore’s powerful collection of poems, The Pangolin and Other Verse, makes good sense given the importance of the volume to her modernist peers. As White notes, Moore paid particular attention to the ordering of her verses in this collection, as she did to every aspect of the book’s production. The volume makes an excellent case study in the ways in which the material presentation of a book of poems can prove vital to addressing the content of the verses within.” – Robin G. Schulze, Pennsylvania State University, editor of Becoming Marianne Moore: The Early Poems, 1907-1924

The University Libraries Lecture Series is made possible in part through the generous support of Lakey and Susan Tolbert.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Family Bible: A Memoir (Wednesday 10/1 @ 7 pm (@ Hoole, of course!)

Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 1, 2008, Melissa J. Delbridge will discuss and read from her memoir, Family Bible (UIowa Press, 2008). The event will take place at the Hoole Special Collections Library located on the 2nd floor of Mary Harmon Bryant Hall on The University of Alabama campus (500 Hackberry Lane).

A native of Tuscaloosa and UA alum, Melissa Delbridge has published essays and short stories in the Antioch Review, Southern Humanities Review, Third Coast, and other journals. She is an archivist in the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University. Delbridge lives with her family in Orange County, North Carolina, where she spends her leisure time letting the dogs in and out, making pickles, plotting vengeance, substantiating rumors, and working on a novel.

Her book, along with many, many others are a part of the Hoole Library's Alabama Collection - as she is an Alabama native.

Please join us for what will certainly be a great event. This is part of the UA Libraries' lecture series and is co-sponsored by New College.

“Delbridge knows sorrow like she knows the rhythm of her own heart. . . . Fans of Carson McCullers won't want to miss this one—witty, tragic, and relentlessly wise.”

—Booklist, starred review

Monday, September 29, 2008

1968: The Year that Changed the World

Exhibit poster for 1968: The Year that Changed the World
- inspired by Thomas Wolfe's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)

A new exhibit from the collections of the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library is now available -- 1968: The Year that Changed the World is an opportunity to reflect on this important time through the lens of the materials in the Hoole Library. Forty years after 1968, we still look upon that year as a pivotal one in the worlds of politics, culture, art, music, literature, and life.

Through our print collections, sound recordings, and more, this exhibit offers some insight into life both on the UA campus and in the world during 1968.

1968 Corolla (Detail) of Afro-American Society

1968 brought Robert Kennedy to campus as part of the Emphasis program in March of 1968, just three months before he was assassinated. 1968 was the year the first African-American student association was established on campus, and this year marks the 40th anniversary.

Assorted buttons - detail from 1968 Corolla

The exhibit is far-reaching, looking at art, music, literature, campus life, culture, war, and many of the things that were on the minds of students and others 40 years ago.

Soundtrack of the 1968 musical, Hair!

The exhibit also features some materials currently on loan and donated by UA alum Janet Stevenson, who was a student at The University of Alabama in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We even have her Fall 1968 calendar on display! This exhibit also features a few of the many, many LPs from the collection of UA History professor John Beeler, who was quick to loan some of the most important albums of 1968 to include in the exhibit.

Lumpy Gravy by Frank Zappa (1968)

To get a sense of campus life in 1968, come to see the exhibit! And if you want a real blast from the past, be sure to visit our digital collections which feature the 1968 Corolla as well as a full array of the talks and the program from Emphasis '68.

This exhibit was developed with graduate student, Audrey Coleman from the department of American Studies. Please join us in commemorating the 40 year anniversary of such an important year. We hope to have an event in December to "let the sunshine in".... stay tuned. Peace.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stark Paget '27 and the Song of the Crimson Tide!

This sweet-faced young man was named Stark Paget. He passed away in 1934 at the young age of 37. He suffered from severe food poisoning, and died at the home of his mother, Mrs. Lucy Paget in Troy, Alabama.

Paget was born in 1897 in Searight, Alabama, the son of J.E. Paget and Lucy Thomas Paget. He spent most of his youth in Andalusia. He came to The University of Alabama in 1923, after serving in the Quartermaster Corps in WWI and attending Auburn University for a short period of time.

Cover, Song of the Crimson Tide by Stark Paget

Though he has been gone a long time, Paget's legacy remains --a legacy of music. During his short life, he had a career as an auditor and stenographer for several companies, but he also was a pianist, appearing on the Keith Vaudeville Circuit in Alabama and Florida. He was a gifted singer and musician, but also a composer as well. He was very active in the UA Glee Club. And he composed a song that was popular regionally, called "The Kappa Sigma Dream Girl", which was dedicated to The University of Alabama chapter of his fraternity, Kappa Sigma. He was perhaps best known for composing the then widely known and performed song, "Song of the Crimson Tide", which was published by the Supe Store in 1930, and performed by Paget and the Glee Club on the opening of their then new location in the Union Building (now known as Reese Pfifer Hall)

Page 1, Song of the Crimson Tide

This song is not as widely known as the 1926 song, Yea Alabama! by Lundy Sykes, perhaps it will make a resurgence....

Cover, Rammer Jammer Magazine, May 1926, announcing the "new official song, Yay, Alabama"

This photograph of Stark Paget, along with his biographical information and this rare piece of sheet music (which the Hoole Library did not have until now!) was donated recently by Mrs. J.W. Hamiter of Andalusia, whose grandmother was Stark Paget's sister. These were given to us by Janice Fink, editor of the UA Alumni Magazine, who often receives materials like this and they know to pass them on to us. It is a greatly appreciated effort that helps us to preserve and document the history and culture of the University, the community, and beyond. These materials are now part of the Hoole Library's collections.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cotton Dethroned!

98 years ago today, on September 3, 1910, the boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis) was first discovered on Alabama soil. The unbelievable devastation the boll weevil caused to cotton crops throughout the South was the catalyst for diversifying agriculture in Alabama, ultimately dethroning "King Cotton" in favor of other crops like peanuts, soybeans and timber.

The book featured here is one of many from Publishers' Bindings Online, 1815-1930: The Art of Books that feature cotton as a design element, decoration, ornament or motif. Here are a few more for your perusal... some very realistic, some beautifully stylized. To look at over 5000 more books and lots more, visit PBO!

An impressive, albeit strangely wonderful statue dedicated to the boll weevil stands in Enterprise, Alabama.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Exhibit @ Hoole: A Blank Space for Every Day in the Year

Beginning Tuesday, August 26, 2008, a new exhibit at the Hoole Library will be on display in the lobby. A Blank Space for Every Day of the Year: 19th Century Pocket Diaries and their Diarists explores the content, technology and anatomy of selected diaries housed in the W.S. Hoole Library's Manuscript Collections. The impetus for the exhibit began with the work of Larry Lou Foster, a graduate of The University of Alabama's internationally known MFA Program in the Book Arts.

Title page, 1868 Manly diary

As a book artist and fine binder, Larry Lou, working with current MFA graduate student Bridget Elmer and Jessica Lacher-Feldman from the Hoole Library, along with beautiful and detailed photographs by UA photographer Laura Shill, brought together images, ephemera, along with the diaries themselves and other materials that give a true sense of several aspects of these very personal artifacts. The exhibit also includes some of Larry Lou's models and work she has done to replicate these unique structures and to better understand their construction.

Manly diary on left, diary by Larry Lou Foster on the right

The exhibit will be on display in the lobby of the Hoole Library from August 26-December 19, 2008. There will be an opening and short lecture on Tuesday, October 7th at 6 pm. This event and exhibit also marks the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library's contribution to Archives Month in Alabama.

To view some of Laura's incredible photographs of the diaries which will be in the exhibit, visit the brand new cool@hoole flickr page! More images from the exhibit will be added soon. And be sure to stop by Hoole to see the exhibit!

Detail from the witty, charming and beautiful pages of the diary of William Cooper

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Remembering the King (and the man who crowned him)

Elvis passed away 31 years ago yesterday. This photograph was taken in 1974 in Memorial Coliseum (now Coleman Coliseum) on The University of Alabama campus and is part of our vast holdings of University photographs, a component of The University of Alabama's archives which as housed at the Hoole Library. These photographs range in scope to include campus buildings and scenes, specific events, and everything in between.  We have made some of the photographs available in our digital collections, and are continuously adding more.  This group of digital materials is called The University of Alabama Encyclopedia

Elvis Presley played at UA twice in the 1970s -- and he wasn't alone. The campus attracted huge acts, especially in the 1950s through the 1970s including the Rolling Stones, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles, and many, many more.  In the earlier years, concerts were held in Foster Auditorium, and later at the Coluseum. Tuscaloosa's spot between Atlanta and New Orleans made it an ideal venue for these kinds of performances. 

While we remember the King, it's not a bad idea to think about the man who made him what he was. That man was Sam Phillips. He moved from his native Florence, Alabama to Memphis, and opened a recording studio where he worked with Blues pioneers and made some of the very first Rock and Roll recordings.  The image of this current historic marker which stands in Florence, Alabama is courtesy of biologist and Florence native, Stuart McGregor. 

Phillips got his start as a DJ in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and relocated to Memphis in 1950 where he opened the Memphis Recording Service.  He also launched his own record label, Sun Records, where he recorded Elvis and many others. 

Phillips is credited by many as not only with discovering Elvis Presley, but also recording the first Rock and Roll record,  "Rocket 88" by a band called Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats. That band was led by none other than Clarksville, Mississippi native Ike Turner. 

Materials about Sam Phillips, Elvis Presley, Memphis blues, music, and much more are available in the Hoole Library's Wade Hall Collection of Southern History and Culture.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Announcing.... John "Blank" Doe

This seemingly mundane piece of paper is anything but dull. It is an image of the dummy press release drafted to announce the newly appointed head football coach and director of athletics at The University of Alabama. Scheduled to be named on Saturday, November 30, 1957 at 4:50 pm, there is no question that certain people knew who that name was, but the need to keep things under wraps until the right time is all part of the process -- just as it is done today.

That John "Blank" Doe was none other than Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, who took over as head football coach for the 1958 season. Bryant coached at The University of Alabama for twenty-five years, winning six national championships (1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978 and 1979) and thirteen SEC championships. Coach Bryant's win over Auburn (which was coached by one of his former assistant coaches, Pat Dye) in November 1981 was his 315th win as a head coach, made him the winningest college football coach of all time. 

Paul W. Bryant first came to The University of Alabama as a scholarship player in 1931. He played on the 1934 National Championship team. When asked why he took the head coaching position at The University of Alabama, he famously replied, "Momma called. And when Momma calls, you just have to come runnin'."

With the 2008 football season just 15 days away, it's a great time to reflect on some of the history of one of the most celebrated college football programs in the country.  Roll Tide!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Remembering Isaac Hayes: Cooking with Heart & Soul

The legendary musician and personality Isaac Hayes passed away this week. An accomplished musician, singer, and songwriter, he is probably best remembered for his Oscar-winning song, Theme from Shaft (Hayes was the first African-American Oscar winner for any category outside of acting). He was also widely recognized for his work as the voice of "Chef" on the long-running animated series, South Park. Hayes got his start at Stax Records in Memphis (see the cool@hoole entry on Stax and Eddie Floyd) working as a session musician, but soon stood out as a songwriter and performer.

The item featured here is representative of another side of Isaac Hayes -- as a man who knew his way around the kitchen and loved to share his love of food with family and friends. This cookbook, Cooking With Heart & Soul (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2000) is part of the David Walker Lupton African American Cookbook Collection housed at the Hoole Special Collections Library, and just one of the many cookbooks by celebrity chefs. They are remarkable and important for many reasons, especially for the intimate and personal stories they tell about these very public people - stories that fans and others may never hear without these books.

On page 173 of Cooking with Heart & Soul, Hayes tells about his memories of his grandmother canning fruit -- a moving story of planning for the winter as a child growing up in rural Tennessee, of spending time with loved ones, and of fond memories with family and childhood. Here is that story:

Canning Fruits with Mama

"During the off-season (when there was no cotton to raise or pick), my grandmother canned a lot of fruits and vegetables. The land we lived on had peach trees and apple trees, with way more fruit than we could eat when it was ripe. There were great masses of blackberry bushes along the ditch that ran in front of the house separating the house from the road, and I was often sent out to pick berries for pies and jellies.

There was no more delicious aroma than those apples and peaches stewing on the stove as Mama prepared the mason jars. She'd put the jars in the pressure cooker and then when they were ready, she'd store them on shelves in the smokehouse. When I saw those rows of colorful jars brimming with fruit, I knew we would eat well all winter long."

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Olympic History and a great Alabamian

Seventy-two years ago today, on August 3, 1936, track and field athlete and native Alabamian Jesse Owens won his first of four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany.

Owens was born in Oakville, Alabama in 1913 and moved with his family to Cleveland Ohio when he was nine. He attended Ohio State University and won a record 8 NCAA individual championships, four in 1935 and four in 1936. And in the span of forty-five minutes on 45 minutes on May 25, 1935 at the Big 10 meet at the University of Michigan, he set three world records and tied a fourth.

Despite his international fame and success as an athlete, he faced huge challenges and humiliations because of racial bias and Jim Crow laws in his native country. For example, after being given a ticker-tape parade in New York, he was required to take the freight elevator to his own reception at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. His story, much like the story of fellow Alabamian and stellar athlete Joe Louis is filled with tragedy stemming from racial bias. Both men also share in their contributions to anti-Nazi efforts leading up to the United States' participation in World War II.

In 1996, The Jesse Owens Memorial Park opened in his hometown of Oakville, Alabama. An poem by Charles Ghigna is inscribed on the plaque dedicating the park, and it reads:

May his light shine forever as a symbol
for all who run for the freedom of sport,
for the spirit of humanity,
for the memory of Jesse Owens.
Jesse Owens was inducted to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1970. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1976, and posthumously given the Congressional Gold Medal in 1990. He is also recognized in Germany, with a street and a school named for him in Berlin. His birthplace in Oakville, Alabama dedicated a park in his honor in 1996, and also brought the Olympic Torch through the community, commemorating his Olympic triumph sixty years earlier. The Ohio State University named their track and field stadium, The Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

Much more can be learned about Jesse Owens in Hoole's Alabama Collection -- where books about Owens and other great Alabamians abound. And later this week, if you choose to watch the 2008 Olympics, it is interesting to think about some of the people who helped pave the way -- as Americans and world citizens --- for those who compete today.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Il y a longtemps... The Pélican Girls in Mobile and Yellow Fever Comes Full Circle

Detail of , Guillaume de L'Isle's map Novissima tabula regionis lvdoviciana gallice dictæ La Lovgsiane iam olim quidem sub Canadæ et Floridæ nomine in America Septentrionali [Nuremburg; 1730?]
From the Hoole Library's map collections.

Four hundred and four years ago today, on August 1, 1704, a group of French colonists welcomed twenty-three young women to their new home. These "well-bred" young women, nicknamed the "Pélican Girls", arrived from France under an order of Louis XIV aboard the ship called the Pélican. They were recruited to move from France to the wilds of Fort Louis de La Louisiane (the original name for Mobile) just two years after its founding in 1702. Their purpose was to marry the men and raise families in order to increase Mobile's population. They were also known, especially later when another group was sent to New Orleans, by the names filles du Roi (girls of the King) or filles à la cassette (“casket girls”) aptly named for their little boxes of personal belongings they brought with them from France.

The Pélican Girls' arrival was much welcomed, but they brought with them an unwanted guest - yellow fever, which was introduced to the ship in Havana. Most of the Pélican girls recovered from the illness, but a large number of the first colonists, along with many Native Americans in the surrounding area succumbed to the disease.

Fort Louis de la Louisiane, was the first capital of the French colony of Louisiana, and was founded by two French Canadian-born brothers Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville.

A list of the young women, clipped from the Google Books version of Colonial Mobile an Historical Study Largely from Original Sources, of the Alabama-Tombigbee Basin and the Old South West from the Discovery of the Spiritu Santo in 1519 until the Demolition of Fort Charlotte in 1821, by Peter J. Hamilton (Houghton Mifflin, 1910) which is available online here.

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Of course, there are copies of this book in the Hoole Library's Alabama Collection, including Hamilton's 1897 edition.

And speaking of yellow fever, there are some great materials available in our collections (and now available online) about W.C. Gorgas (see June 30, 2008's cool@hoole entry Great News! and Great Letterhead from Loving Son W.C. to his Doting Mother, Amelia.)

It is the public health work that Alabamian W.C. Gorgas did in Cuba that led to his success in eradicating yellow fever in Panama and making the Panama Canal a reality. The opening of the Panama Canal helped to make Mobile Bay a booming port city in the 20th century, long after the Pélican Girls, but an interesting link in the history of Alabama and the city of Mobile.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Its in the Details.... A hint of what's to come

Here's a hint of an upcoming and soon-to-be announced exhibit at the Hoole Library.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow!

Well, maybe not tomorrow -- but if you haven't had a chance to visit our exhibit, Hear Hair Here: Hair Do's and Hair Don't from the Hoole Library's Sound Recording Collections, please be sure to do soon. New and exciting exhibits are coming to the Hoole Library lobby soon -- stay tuned. And speaking of hair, this photograph is from the Keyes Family Papers, 1846-1944, a collection of correspondence, diaries, biographical notes, scrapbooks, photographs, memorabilia, and other papers concerning the emigration of the family of Athens, Alabama native Dr. John Washington Keyes and his wife Julia Hentz Keyes to Rio de Janiero Brazil after the Civil War. The family subsquently travelled all over the world.

The finding aid for this manuscript is available here. The photograph shown here is labeled on the back with the caption, "Beth's hair abt. 17 yrs."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On Subversive Words, Meat and Threes, and the Lasting Importance of Ephemera

"Paris is flooded with words, people are speaking loudly and openly; leaflets are scattered in the shops, people are stubborn in their opinions." 

Revolution takes ideas -- and ideas are spread through words. Arlette Farge, in her book, Subversive Words: Public Opinion in Eighteenth Century France (Penn State University Press, 1995) references phrases like the one above that were penned as commentary in the time leading up to the storming of the Bastille in July of 1789.

The leaflets or pamphlets were used to spread the word -- but never created with the intention of lasting over 200 years. But thankfully, they have. The UA Libraries' Digital Collections includes forty-seven (to date, with more to come!) pamphlets from the French Revolutionary period. These items have been digitized from the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library's Rare Books Collection. There are over 300 of these pamphlets in our collections. The pamphlets include writings by some of the best known players of the French Revolution and Directory periods, including Robespierre, St. Juste, Desmoulins, and Danton.  A few images from the collection are shown here. 

John Lewis in his book Collecting Printed Ephemera defines ephemera as “a term used for anything printed for a specific short term purpose; such things as a bus ticket, a circus poster, a christmas card or a Valentine, a police summons, a tax demand, a pin packet, a soapflake box, a wine label, a beer mat, a cigarette card, an airline ticket, a train timetable or a travel brochure. There is hardly any limit and although books are outside our field, magazines, comics, and newspapers are very much a part of it.”

These pamphlets were printed quickly, subversively -- and distributed readily throughout Paris and its environs. The format of the pamphlet and leaflet in France serves as a long-standing method of expressing and distributing political and social thought, and was critical in fueling the fires of revolution in Paris in 1789, just as they did forty years ago in the year 1968.

While electronic venues and 2.0 tools -- personal blogs, resource sharing tools like Flickr, You Tube, and social networking sites like Twitter have changed the way we share and spread information, the notion of ephemeral means of spreading information is something that, for the creator, was not designed for the long haul. This is one of the ongoing challenges for special collections librarians -- identifying and collecting the stuff today that helps to document the past, and will help illuminate the future.

Even if you can't read them -- and especially if you can, it's very exciting to look at these primary documents to gain a better understanding of what those words meant when expressed and acted upon at a watershed period in history - not just in France, but in several parts of the world. 

Speaking of ephemera, an article featured in the Tuscaloosa News today featured a former Hoole graduate student, Robb McIlwain's Tuscaloosa Menu Project.  His widely used community resource brings a much-needed resource to the public.  And what about those pesky print menus? Well, they have made their way to the Hoole Library -- a much valued resource that helps document the local and regional flavor (pun intended!).  As the virtual collection grows,  so we hope does the print collection. And those doing like projects around the state are encouraged to contact us. 

Ephemera (old, and new!) is indeed very, very cool!