Monday, December 13, 2010


The land of the midnight sun : summer and winter journeys through
Sweden, Norway, Lapland and northern Finland

Designed by Edwin Abbey, Paul B. Du Chaillu's Land of the Midnight Sun was published in 1881 by Harper and Brothers, New York. From the Richard Minsky Collection and Publishers' Bindings Online.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Crest? Bookplate? Something else entirely?

Tipped in to a rare book, stamped on a piece of newsprint. We have our own theories, but want to know what you think! Is there an unspoken law about bookplates and "ex libris" or is it okay to say "fac et spera?" Cool, though, right?

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Royal Decree!

Our amazing volunteer manuscript processor James shared this cool little item he came across while processing the Mabel Smythe-Haith papers. Everyone loves a big fancy decree, deed, or diploma -- something with seals and stamps and stuff. Pretty cool. What’s even cooler? Mabel Smythe-Haith herself.

Mabel Smythe-Haith, a native of Montgomery, Alabama, was a brilliant student – leaving home to study at Spellman College in Atlanta at the age of fifteen. She left Spellman in her senior year, graduating from Mount Holyoke College. She went on to receive a Master’s degree in Economics from Northwestern and a PhD from University of Wisconsin.

Dr. Smythe-Haith was married to Hugh H. Smythe while he was an ambassador to Syria from 1965-1967 and ambassador to Malta 1967-1969. President Johnson appointed her the US envoy to UNESCO in Paris, France, in 1964. She was the U.S. ambassador to the United Republic of Cameroon concurrently with the Republic of Equatorial Guinea from 1977-1980. She worked with Thurgood Marshall on the preparations for Brown v. Board of Education. After a distinguished career as a U.S. ambassador and civil rights advocate, Ms. Smythe-Haith served as Melville J. Herskovits Professor for African Studies at Northwestern. Additionally, she was awarded two honorary law degrees and other academic honors. She later worked as deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs until 2000. She passed away in Tuscaloosa in 2006. There are additional papers at the Library of Congress, and the Mabel Smythe-Haith papers at the Hoole Library will be open to researchers shortly. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Margaret Armstrong, Myrtle Reed, and those Purple Books!

Six purple bindings designed by Margaret Armstrong, all from the Minsky Collection at the Hoole Special Collections Library, and all in Publishers' Bindings Online, 1815-1930: The Art of Books!

Publishers' Binding: Remembering Cuba (Week) Edition

So last week was Cuba Week at The University of Alabama. Here's a little Memories of Cuba (Week) binding for you to enjoy....

Memories of Cuba and other poems
by Janan Ewan
Boston, R.G. Bager, 1908.
pba01177, from the Hoole Alabama Collection

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Favorite Seasonal Publishers' Binding: Halloween Edition

If Tam O'Shanter'd had a wheel : and other poems and sketches

by Grace Duffie Boylan
Binding design by Blanche McManus (Signed binding: B.Mc.M)
New York, E.R. Herrick, 1898.
pba02560, from the Richard Minsky Collection, W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library

and Witches!

Monday, October 11, 2010


Among Hoole's many fascinating treasures is this slim manuscript volume - eight pages of hand written text, which came to us as part of the T.P. Thompson Collection. The detail above gives us the words for rain, wind, sun, moon, star, earth, mountain, and stone -- first in French, then in Choctaw.

Written about 1885, this "Vocabulaire de la langue des Indiens Choctaw (lac Ponchartrain) Louisiane" is in the hand of Abbé Adrien Roquette, who was also known by many as "Chahta-Lma", Choctaw for "Like a Choctaw" -- a beautiful sentiment. This name was bestowed upon him by the Choctaw people as a sign of belonging and respect. In hindsight this can be viewed in many ways -- but the simplest notion of all is to see this expression as a reflection of everyone being connected as people -- to say that you are one of us. A pure expression of belonging and connection.

This manuscript volume has been digitized, and is available as part of our digital program here.

The original item is part of the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library. To read more about Abbé Roquette, there is a 1913 biography available via Google Books.

No matter our language or our differences, we are one people. On one great, beautiful terre...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Remembering Tony Curtis: William Bradford Huie@100

Yesterday, we lost one of the great elder statesman of the American cinema, Tony Curtis. Among his many great films is one that was written by Alabama author and University of Alabama graduate, William Bradford Huie. Huie's book, Hero of Iwo Jima was turned into the 1962 film starring Tony Curtis about Marine Corporal Ira Hamilton Hayes, one of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima. Huie, in his role as war correspondent and reporter, wrote numerous memorable pieces, including several about his experiences and the experiences of others during World War II and its aftermath.

We will celebrate William Bradford Huie in November and through the Spring 2011 semester, with an exhibit, a film screening, and several other events based on his life and work. Visit and

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Marveling at Marbling

One of the many wonders of working with rare books is the magnificent things you find within -- like these amazing marbled end papers. This is just a taste of what I came across today working with Confederate Imprints and Alabama collection materials from the mid-19th century. Enjoy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Two Birds: Moving In and Happy Birthday

Julia Tutwiler Hall, March 1950, from UA Libraries Digital Collections

Yesterday marked the 169th anniversary of the birth of the pioneer educator and reformer, Julia Strudwick Tutwiler. Born in Tuscaloosa on August 15, 1841, she brought higher education for women to Alabama, and worked tirelessly for prison and other social reform. She is considered a pioneer and activist far before her time. She even wrote the the song, Alabama, which was adopted as the Alabama state song on the 100th anniversary of her birth in 1931.

Many, many reminders of Miss Julia's legacy remain, though the one seen here has since been replaced. This photograph, taken in 1950, is of the "old" Tutwiler Hall, which has since been replaced with a second Tutwiler Hall, located just across from Bryant-Denny Stadium on Bryant Drive. We have many more dormitories on campus these days -- beautiful new buildings with a river view and new amenities. But it is always interesting to look at where we have come from.

And with that, we not only celebrate the birthday of Julia Tutwiler, but we welcome all the new students and returning students to The University of Alabama!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Temperature and Tragedy: 90 Degrees in the Shade

90 Degrees in the Shade by Clarence Cason,
published in 1935 by the University of North Carolina Press

Cason's important book of essays on Southern culture is a compelling snapshot of aspects of life in Alabama during that period. In light of the ongoing heatwave, 90 degrees in the shade sounds like a welcome relief.

On the page between the half title and title page, there is a photograph of a group of men in their shirtsleeves, sitting at a table under an old tree on a few metal chairs and an old barrel. There's a dog on the ground, looking into the distance, panting. They are probably playing cards. Under the photograph, the caption states, "Air-conditioning cannot be a grand success in the South for the reason that the honest natives of the region recognize the natural summer heat as a welcome ally in that it makes the inside of houses and offices agreeably uninviting, if not actually prohibited territory."

Our weather and our constitutions have changed remarkably since then. Air conditioning is not only welcomed, it's outright required.

Cason, a native of Ragland Alabama, was a 1917 University of Alabama graduate, where he was the managing editor of the Crimson-White, UA's newspaper. After graduation, Cason enlisted in the United States Army, serving France during World War I. Upon his return from Europe, he worked as a reporter for several newspapers, including the New York Times and the Washington Times. He taught high school briefly, and also attended a theological seminary before returning to school to earn a Master's Degree from the University of Wisconsin.

Clarence Cason, in his 1917 Corolla (UA yearbook) portrait.

He taught at the University of Minnesota, then in 1928 he was hired by The University of Alabama to develop a journalism school. He published, mentored, and in the early 1930s, he began to compile his essays on the south. This was to become his book, 90 Degrees in the Shade. Tragically, and despite the love and encouragement of his colleagues and friends, Cason took his own life just days before the book's release. It is said that it was his overwhelming fear of how his book was to be received by his fellow Southerners became too much for him to bear.

Cason's legacy lives on at The University of Alabama, with the Clarence Cason Award, established in 1997 to honor exemplary non-fiction over a long career.

The Hoole Library holds several editions of the book, including the first edition shown above. To take a look at portions of the book in Google Books' version of 90 Degrees in the Shade, it is online here:

And to read a fascinating article by literary scholar, Phil Beidler about Cason and his contemporary, Carl Carmer (author of Stars Fell on Alabama, published in 1934), entitled, Yankee Interloper and Native Son: Carl Carmer and Clarence Cason: Unlikely Twins of Alabama Expose click here. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to get a sense of aspects of life in Alabama in the 1930s.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Everything you ever wanted to know about Hoole's incredible Tiffany Window....

Art Historian Dr. Robert Mellown's article, originally published in the Winter 1993 issue of Alabama Heritage Magazine is now available on our website. Along with the article, you'll find a link to a series of beautiful details of the window in our Cool@Hoole Flickr page, photographed by Teresa Golson.

But just because we can, here is the article as it appears on the Hoole website!

A Stained-Glass Tiffany Knight By Robert O. Mellown
Originally published in Alabama Heritage, Winter 1993 (No. 27)

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
It is sweet and noble to die for one’s country.

For centuries, this stern and dignified pronouncement by the Roman poet Horace has been associated with patriotism. Appearing on countless European and American war memorials, the Latin inscription also adorns a beautiful stained-glass window in Tuscaloosa at The University of Alabama. Designed in 1925 by Tiffany Studios in New York and commissioned by the Alabama Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (U.D.C.), the handsome memorial commemorates the role university students played in the Civil War.
The window is a fascinating social document as well as an exceptionally fine work of art. When it was installed, sixty years had passed since Yankee troops burned the neoclassical campus of the University of Alabama on April 4, 1865. By 1925 the mythmaking of the "Lost Cause" was in full swing throughout the South.
Few Southerners were still alive who could recall the war years, and as their numbers dwindled Confederate veterans and their families (especially their wives and daughters) took steps to ensure that the memory of those who had fought in the nation's most tragic conflict were not forgotten. Memorials of all sorts, in a wide variety of media, were erected in cities, towns, and battlefields across the South.
Perhaps the most ubiquitous monuments erected during this period of romanticizing the Civil War were the monuments to Confederate soldiers placed on courthouse squares throughout the South. Aesthetically, a wide gap existed between those marble or concrete Rebel soldiers, rifle at the ready, and Tiffany's ideal "Christian Knight" depicted on the university's richly colored memorial window. Nevertheless, the sentiment remained the same. An inscription on the window might well be placed on any Confederate memorial: "As crusaders of old, they fought their heritage to save."

The dedication of the memorial window may have represented the zenith of the cult of the "Lost Cause" in west Alabama. The ceremonies took place in front of the newly constructed Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library (now Carmichael Hall), where the window was originally located. The audience consisted of the university community, Tuscaloosans, officers ofthe United Daughters of the Confederacy, and seven elderly Confederate veterans who had been University of Alabama cadets during the Federal invasion of April 1865.

The audience's enthusiasm was whipped into a feverous pitch by speeches, including one by former governor B. B. Comer (also a former university cadet), and by patriotic songs sung by the varsity glee club. These included "We're Tenting Tonight on the Old Camp Ground" and "The Bonnie Blue Flag." According to reporters, toward the end of the program "the Glee club sang the song that these veterans had patiently waited for—Dixie! They leapt gallantly to their tottering feet and the old, wild rebel yell rose lustily, terribly from their feeble throats. After this outburst," the window was unveiled, the setting sun illuminating its rich hues.
The window itself is a showcase of various types of glass and construction techniques which made Tiffany-designed products internationally known. Particularly impressive is Tiffany's use of scores of intricately cut pieces of glass to describe the details of the knight's armor and the delicate details of the landscape.
Tiffany "painted" with glass, his palette consisting of an astonishing variety of luminous opalescent glass that he created by combining white milk glass with one or more colors of pot metal glass. Depending on the combinations of colors, such glass could be used to imitate the veins in the marble columns or the soft hues of the cloud-filled sky.

"Drapery glass" was used to create not only the color but the texture of the knight's flowing robe. This technique, invented by Tiffany, required the glassblower (protected by asbestos gloves) to toss a glob of molten glass on an iron table, where he kneaded and folded the red-hot mixture like bread dough until the desired loops and streaks were formed.

The extraordinary depth and luminosity of the knight's attire, including the shirt of chain mail that extends below his breast plate, were achieved by sandwiching or "plating" several layers of differently textured and colored glass on top of one another. These built-up areas are visible on the back of the window.

To achieve the effect of dappled light shining through foliage in the background, Tiffany used "mottled glass" and a few touches of "confetti glass." These types of glass, perfected in the Tiffany studios, were made by throwing various chemicals (for a mottled effect) or broken glass scraps (for a confetti effect) into the molten glass. As was usually the case, actual paint was used only to define the noble features of the knight, but even here the designer incorporated plated glass to achieve the glow of living flesh.

The production of a Tiffany memorial window was labor intensive, requiring hundreds of hours of work and a high level of craftsmanship. For these reasons, large windows cost several thousand dollars, a hefty sum in 1925, when glass workers received three dollars a day and their supervisors were paid twenty-one dollars a week.

The University of Alabama window cost $5,000, but Tiffany studios gave the U.D.C. a $1,700 discount. Even with the discount, the organization found it necessary to pay off the sum in installments.

In 1939 the Alabama window was removed from the old Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library on campus and installed in the present main library, which bears the same name. This year [1993], in a move partially funded by the U.D.C., the window will be relocated once again, this time to the new collections building on the east side of the University of Alabama campus, where it will grace the walls of the William Stanley Hoole Special Collections Library*.
*The window is in the lobby of the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library on the 2nd floor of Mary Harmon Bryant Hall, 500 Hackberry Lane, and is visible from the street below. Please visit the library to see the window in person. You can also view a series of photographs we have placed as a set on Cool@Hoole's flickr page. These images were graciously taken by photographer and friend of Hoole Library, Teresa Golson in July 2010. (Photographs in the original article [not shown here] were by Alice Wilson). Special thanks to Dr. Robert Mellown and Donna Cox Baker and Alabama Heritage for allowing us to republish this piece online.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Keeping Cool with the Perkins Collection

This photograph, taken on the grounds of Bryce Hospital in 1899, is an example of the photographs in the Perkins Family Papers. The photographs in the collection are from the 1890s and 1900s, and contain two photographic albums with 209 images, 72 loose photographs, and 121 glass negatives. The life of Julian C. Perkins, his wife Mary (Mamie) Kennedy Perkins, their children Edwin, Brook, and Julian, and their extended families is well documented in this photographic collection compiled by their son Edwin. There are also photographs of The University of Alabama (Woods Hall and President’s Mansion); photographs of Tuscaloosa and surrounding area around 1890; John Robinson’s Circus arriving to Tuscaloosa; Tuscaloosa Street Fair; some parts of Birmingham around the same time period; and Meridian, Mississippi.

This image, along with much of the photographs from this collection is accessible through our digital collections.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Just doing our part...Cool, indeed.

Call of the Wild by Jack London
Published in New York by MacMillan, 1903.
From the Richard Minsky Collection,
W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, The University of Alabama

Signed binding, "CX", in green ungrained cloth with gold, black, red, and white stamping on front and spine. No decoration on back. Cream endpapers. Top gilt.
Book is illustrated by Philip R. Goodwin and Charles Livingston Bull.

With temperatures at record highs, it seems that a few cool and refreshing images might be just the thing!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sending you Patriotic Wishes!

A few envelopes selected from the Commemorative and Patriotic Illustrated Envelopes
donated by Dr. Wade Hall. Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Finding joy in Muddville: The Literary Mystery of Casey at the Bat

The crack of the bat is certainly a sound that many associate with summer. And what better way to celebrate that than with a little poem. But not just any ordinary poem…but with the legendary and beloved baseball poem, “Casey at the Bat”.

Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s “Casey at the Bat”, despite being memorized by generations of American kids, is considered to be a modern literary mystery, its origins clouded with a bit of intrigue about where the poem came from, and just who wrote it.

“Casey” first appeared in the San Francisco Examiner in 1888, and it was first made popular that same year by the actor, comedian, and baseball fan, DeWolfe Hopper. Hopper made it a national sensation when he declaimed it in a New York theater in August, 1888 in front of his beloved New York Giants on the day his dear friend (and Hall of Fame pitcher) Tim Keefe had his nineteen game winning streak stopped.

Hopper went on to recite it countless times on the Vaudeville circuit, on radio, and even as a short film in 1923. It also became famously attributed to Victorian baseball legend Mike “King” Kelly, but Kelly was not the author, but rather like Hopper, recited the poem (poorly, in fact) before audiences. With Kelly and Hopper, by the turn of the 20th century, “Casey” had become part of the modern American cannon.

Our beloved “Casey” first appeared in a hard cover book fourteen years later, 1902, in the volume, A Treasury of Humorous Poetry: Being a Compilation of Witty, Facetious, & Satirical Verse Selected from the Writings of British & American Poets. Dedicated to one of America’s greatest satirists, Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and edited by Frederic Lawrence Knowles, it was published by Dana, Estes & Company. Knowles inclusion of “Casey” was logical, but unfortunately, the poem was misattributed to one “Joseph Quinlan Murphy”, an error which was soon corrected, by striking Murphy’s name from the author index in front of the book and properly crediting Thayer in the poem index at the rear. The copy featured here is the original uncorrected printing and is part of Hoole Special Collections Library’s Rare Books collection.

Miscredited "Casey" from Hoole's copy, page 299.

Today we are more than reasonably sure that Thayer was in fact the author of “Casey”. Thayer graduated from Harvard in 1885 and was hired by William Randolph Hearst as the humor columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, a post he held from 1886-1888. On June 3, 1888, Thayer signed his name as “Phin” to the very last piece he wrote for the Examiner, a poem entitled “Casey,” adding to the confusion over who actually wrote the poem. It is also said that Thayer denied having written the poem for some time, than later recanted.

(Corrected 1919 edition from Google Books)

At his Harvard class reunion in 1895, Thayer recited the poem himself, lending further credence to his place as the author of this beloved poem.

“Casey” lives on in many forms, an American legend, memorialized in a 1927 movie, Walt Disney cartoons, and a commemorative postage stamp, as well as books, and ballads that respond to “Casey” by numerous authors. The following are just a few noteworthy performances of and homages to “Casey at the Bat”, by Hopper, Disney, James Earl Jones, and Jackie Gleason.