Friday, March 28, 2008
Tuscaloosa Entertains: A New Exhibit
A new exhibit is on display in the administrative suite area on the 2nd floor of Gorgas Library. This collaborative exhibit project, Tuscaloosa Entertains: Where the Fun was had in the Druid City between the World Wars features narrative and images that explore aspects of leisure time in Tuscaloosa from the 1920s through the early 1950s.
Using digital surrogates of archival materials from the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library and other sources for their research, three graduate students in History, Mills Barker, Jensen Branscombe and Stephanie Chalifoux provide insight into entertainment venues including dance halls, theaters, soda fountains, and jook joints in the Druid City, Tuscaloosa. The project was advised by Kari Frederickson, Associate Professor of History and director of the Frances Summersell Center for the Study of the South, as well as Jessica Lacher-Feldman, Associate Professor and Public and Outreach Services Coordinator for the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library.
The exhibit project also explored ways in creating visual interest with limited collections-based resources. The exhibit relies in part on the use of Sanborn Fire Maps to illustrate the physical space in downtown Tuscaloosa where photographs are non-existent. The exhibit also features advertisements, anecdotes, quotes, and descriptive narrative to inform the audience.
One fun anecdote reads, "Tuscaloosa attracted some famous performers and traveling vaudeville acts like the Marx Brothers. Harpo Marx recalled that the brothers were so bored in Tuscaloosa that they stopped singing in the middle of a song to watch a large bug walk across the stage. He remembered, 'the four of us got down on hands and knees and began to follow the bug, making bets whether it was a beetle, a cockroach, or a bedbug'.”
That visit must have stayed in their minds when writing their film, Animal Crackers, as this clip will attest -- watch it, it's worth it (or if you're impatient, skip to the 2 minute mark)!
Please be sure to visit the exhibit in Gorgas Library 2nd floor!