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.