Monday, April 20, 2009

Roland Harper and his Photographs - A Slice of Alabama Life

Roland Harper with camera

Roland Harper in full field gear with hound

Today in Gorgas Library room 205, Elizabeth Findley Shores will talk about her book, On Harper's Trail: Roland McMillan Harper, Pioneering Botanist of the Southern Coastal Plain (UGA Press, 2009). Shores's work on Harper took place primarily at the Hoole Library, where his extensive personal papers are held.

Roland Harper was a field botanist by profession, and took countless photographs during his long professional life. He worked most of his life at the Geological Survey of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Born August 11, 1878 in Farmington, Maine, he moved to Georgia with his family in 1887. While earning an engineering degree from the University of Georgia, Harper took his first botany class and became an avid student of local flora.

In 1899, Harper entered the Botany program at Columbia University and earned his PhD in 1905. His work in documenting the fauna of the Southeast was extensive. And he was an interesting and complicated man.

We have a small exhibit of images from his collection in Gorgas Library on the 2nd floor. A larger exhibit of Roland Harper materials will be on display in the Hoole Special Collections Library beginning in May. Here are a couple of interesting photographs from the collection. We hope to see you in Gorgas 205 today to hear Elizabeth Shores talk about Harper!

Root Cellar

People and gator, ca. 1920s.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Up from History: A Lecture on the Life of Booker T. Washington

Up from Slavery
(J. L. Nichols and Co., 1901)

The Story of My Life and Work
(J. L. Nichols and Company, 1900)
Featuring an image of the Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama

Working with the Hands: Being a Sequel to Up from Slavery, Covering the
Author's Experiences in Industrial Training at Tuskegee

(Doubleday, Page and Co., 1904)

Tomorrow, April 9, 2009 at 4 pm in Gorgas Library room 205, Dr. Robert J. Norrell will present the lecture, Up from History: Resurrecting Booker T. Washington's Historical Reputation.

Norell is the Bernadotte Schmidt Chair of Excellence in the Department of History at the University of Tennessee. Norrell previously taught in the Department of History at The University of Alabama. His latest book, Up From History: The Life of Booker T. Washington (Belknap Press, 2009) has received great acclaim and reviews.

Featured here are a few of Booker T. Washington's works from the Hoole Special Collections Library. They, along with 15 other of his works were included in the Publishers' Bindings Online, 1815-1930: The Art of Books. A gallery and essay on Washington is also included in the project.

Please join us to learn more about this fascinating and important American pioneer! A signing and reception will follow the talk. Co-sponsored by the Summersell Center for the Study of the South, The University of Alabama Libraries, and the generous support of Dr. Lakey and Susan Tolbert.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Peanuts? Cracker Jack? Happy Opening Day!

Advertisement, Crimson White, April 1929

From the Mel Allen Collection, W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library

Here's to the first day of Major League Baseball season! And here's to all who continue to love the game.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Celebrate Poetry in all its forms...

The Game of Giza by George Edwin Starbuck
From the George Edwin Starbuck Papers,
The W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, The University of Alabama.

April is National Poetry Month. We'll celebrate with the witty, wry, and dangerously funny George Starbuck, whose papers are housed at the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library.

George Starbuck was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1931, to a migrant academic family. In his mid-teens, he studied mathematics for two years at the Cal Tech. He also attended the UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and Harvard, but took no degrees.

He was an agricultural worker, a military policeman, and a fiction editor at Houghton Mifflin in addition to directing two of America’s finest graduate programs in Creative Writing -- the University of Iowa and Boston University.

Starbuck taught English and poetry for twenty-five years at the State University of New York at Buffalo, then at the University of Iowa and Boston University. He gave poetry readings in nearly every state as well as abroad. Due to illness, he took early retirement in 1988. He was the distinguished chair holder in poetry in 1990 at The University of Alabama.

While at the State University of New York, Buffalo, in 1963, he was fired for refusing to sign the required loyalty oath. He initiated a challenge of New York’s Fineberg loyalty oath law and was successful when the Supreme Court of the United States overturned that law. Also in the 1960s he was an anti-Vietnam War organizer and activist.

His first book, Bone Thoughts (1960), won the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize. He subsequently received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Prix de Rome of the American College of Arts and Letters, and other awards. He was a fellow at the American Academy in Rome and later at the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, Italy.

White Papers, his second book, set a standard for charged, edgy American political poetry. His next, Elegy in a Country Church Yard, is the world’s widest concrete poem. Desperate Measures tackled, with fine Byronic insouciance, everything. Talkin B.A. Blues is a book-length rhyming picaresque in rhinestone-sourdough style. In 1982, Atlantic Monthly Press and Secker and Warburg (London) published his new-and-selected poems, The Argot Merchant Disaster. That book won The Nation’s Lenore Marshall prize, among others, for best book of poetry. He published two small books with bits Press: Space Savers Sonnets and Richard the Third in a Forth of a Second.

He was honored with the Aiken-Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1993. He passed away in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1996 after a twenty-one-year struggle with Parkinson’s disease.

Two posthumous anthologies, Visible Ink and The Works, both edited by Elizabeth Meese and Kathryn Starbuck, were published by The University of Alabama Press.

Celebrate the written word with the man who X.J. Kennedy once said, "makes the American language roll over and whistle, "Dixie."