Thursday, December 15, 2011

Remembering the Queen of the Blues

Nearly 50 years ago this week, Dinah Washington passed away at the young age of 39. Dinah Washington was born Ruth Lee Jones in 1924 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Moving with her family at a young age to Chicago, she went on to become one of the most distinctive singers of her time. Her biggest triumph came with the 1959 Grammy-winning “What a Diff'rence a Day Makes" and she topped the charts again with “Baby, You’ve Got What it takes” a sizzling duet with Brook Benton. A gospel star at age fifteen, she was discovered by the legendary musician and fellow Alabamian Lionel Hampton at eighteen. She spent most of the rest of her short life in clubs and theaters and in the studio --- making music.

Dinah's distinctive and heartfelt voice quickly became her trademark -- she was a song stylist, crossing over from the "race music" category to the pop and jazz charts. Known in her day as the Queen of the Blues and queen of the Juke Boxes, Dinah was regarded as a rare "first take" artist, her studio recordings reflecting the same passion that she brought o every one of her live performances. She was known to make every single song she sang her own, having once said, George Gershwin wouldn't know his own song when I'm through with it. I can't stay hidebound to any melody."

Please enjoy Dinah's remarkable live performance of All of Me from 1958, complete with a very participatory audience. She was loved, and continues to be loved for her remarkable singing voice, an unmistakable sound that can never be matched. And she lived a fascinating, sad, and far too short of a life. To read more about Dinah, read Nadine Cohodas's book, Queen: The Life and Music of Dinah Washington ( Pantheon, 2004). Much of the research on Dinah's earliest years was done at the Hoole Library! She spoke to a rapt audience at UA in 2005 about her book -- we even had a little Dinah-esque performance with blues singer, Elnora Spencer.

Not to be outdone, Nadine's latest book,
Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone (Pantheon, 2010) is a look at the fascinating life of this incredible singer and activist. Mark your calendars -- Nadine may be joining us again in spring 2012 to talk about her work!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Two Kinds of Santas!

Both on publishers' bindings, and both in glorious green cloth.
The Old Santa Fe Trail (Macmillan Co., 1898, from the Hoole Richard Minsky Collection) and A Captured Santa Claus (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1905, from the Wade Hall Collection of Southern History and Culture) Both of these books are included in the award-winning digital project, Publishers' Bindings Online, 1815-1930: The Art of Books.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Bad Seed is the Big Shocker!

Al Hirshfeld's drawing of the cast of the play, The Bad Seed, published in the New York Times, December 5, 1954.
Can you find the "Ninas"?

Fifty-seven years ago today, on December 8, 1954, the Sherwood Anderson theatrical adaptation of William March's novel, The Bad Seed opened on Broadway. March, born William Campbell, was a native of Alabama and a former student of The University of Alabama.

If you haven't read the novel, you should. And though we can't travel back in time to see the play as it first appeared, most of the actors moved from stage to screen for the 1956 film adaptation.

March's papers are held in the Hoole Library, and there is a larger-than-life bust of him in our reading room too. A fascinating man of many talents, look for more on March in the months to come! In the meantime, make some popcorn, get under a blanket, and watch one of the creepiest children of American cinema do her stuff.

Notice from the Tuscaloosa News, 1956 on the film, The Bad Seed

Friday, November 18, 2011

Great Literature in Different Packages: Moby-Dick

Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Armed Services Edition
New York : Council on Books in Wartime, 1944

AC 1 .A7 G-209

Moby Dick Comic. Authorized Edition
New York : Dell Pub. Co., 1956.
Hoole Library Harold E. Selesky Comic Collection

On November 14, 1851, one hundred and sixty years ago this week, the great American novel Moby-Dick was first published in a single volume in the United States by Harper and Brothers.

Though the novel had very limited success during Melville's lifetime and beyond (he died in 1891), it stands today as part of the Western canon, and one of the most important American novels.

The "Melville Revival" began around the time of World War I, when the novel found new relevance in the wake of the Modernist movement. The book continues to speak to readers, with complex metaphors representing good and evil, power, and class. Literary critic Nick Selby said, "Moby-Dick was now read as a text that reflected the power struggles of a world concerned to uphold democracy, and of a country seeking an identity for itself within that world."

These two examples of Moby-Dick shown here represent interesting examples of the rethinking and repackaging of great American literature. The first, an example of an Armed Services Edition, offers a compact version of the novel to American servicemen. These small paperbacks were distributed widely during World War II and exposed soldiers to a variety of great works of both the 19th and 20th centuries, along with a variety of other materials. The Hoole Library holds nearly a complete collection of Armed Services editions, one of the most complete collections held in libraries.

The second image is the cover of the 1956 Dell comic edition of Moby-Dick, based on the 1956 film starring Gregory Peck (best known by fans great Alabama literature as the beloved Atticus Finch in the film version of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird) as the tyrannical Captain Ahab. Though this is a far cry from Melville's dense prose, it is a welcome introduction to the great American authors, perhaps inspiring children to take the leap from comics to great American Literature! But there is room for every form and interpretation of this epic tale.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans in our Collections: William March and Many More

From our collections, the "dog tags" of William March (né William E. Campbell), Alabama author and a highly decorated United States Marine.

William March saw action in World War I, and received the French Croix de Guerre, the American Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross for his service. March went on to write several novels and short stories, his first being Company K (1933, Smith and Haas), first serialized in Forum magazine from 1930-1932. Company K is a series of 113 vignettes that capture the individual experiences of the men of a fictional company in World War I. Its brutal and frank portrayal of the war experience has made it one of the most significant literary representations of the Great War.

William March Campbell (1893-1954) in his Marine uniform, 1919.

A well-traveled envelope sent to William March while he served in WWI, 1918.

William March's stripes

The W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library holds significant materials that illustrate the daily life and experiences of the men and women of the United States Armed Services in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of the collections are of well-known future authors such as William March and William Bradford Huie (who participated in D-Day and served as an aide to Vice Admiral Ben Moreell of the renowned Seabees), and still many more are of regular men and women who served their country both overseas and on the homefront.

Photographs, letters, diaries, scrapbooks and other personal materials are important tools in researching and understanding this important aspect of our history and culture.

For more information about our holdings relating to American servicemen and women, please contact us!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tonight at Hoole! They Authentic Animal!

With special furry and feathered guests courtesy of the Alabama Museum of Natural History! Please join us.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Year-Round Costumed Fun

From a family production of the HMS Pinafore ca. 1899 (Perkins Family Papers) and an interpretation of "clouds" from the May Festival, 1928, Tuscaloosans don't just wear costumes on Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More Hoole Ghouls!

These images are all from the early 1960s and from the office of Educational Media. It might have been for fun, or for a Theater class, or maybe something else entirely. If you know, tell us!

Costumed Kids and Co-Eds!

Educational Media Photographs, ca. early 1960s, Hoole Special Collections Library

A Jester and a Fairy, ca. 1900. Perkins Family Papers, Hoole Special Collections Library

Halloween Party at UA, ca. early 1950s,
The George Nichols Photographic Collection, Hoole Special Collections Library

Here are just a few of the many costumed characters that show up in our photo collections! Stay tuned for more this week! Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Crimson Tide in 1917

This beautiful image of the Crimson Tide football team from 1917 is taken from a glass negative taken by the Geologist Eugene Allen Smith and is accessible in our digital collections. And while things with regard to football have grown a little in the past century, the enthusiasm has always been there. Our roster has grown a little bit as well. Roll Tide!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Quercus Macrocarpa

Here is an elegant botanical photograph of Quercus Macrocarpa or the Burr Oak (with a box of matches for scale), taken by botanist Roland Harper in 1949 near the town of Snowden, Alabama. From the Roland Harper Collection, and available in our digital collections at Plant a tree for Tuscaloosa!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Homecoming Memories

Here are just a few of many, many images relating to the Homecoming tradition at The University of Alabama. Images from the 1920s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s! What is your favorite Homecoming memory!?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Hoole Hours!

Twelve striking sermons
Louisville, Kentucky: Pentecostal Publishing Company, 1918
From the Wade Hall Collection of Southern History and Culture

and featured in Publishers' Bindings Online, 1815-1930: The Art of Books

Beginning on Monday, 10/3/2011,
the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library
will be open:

Monday, Wednesday & Friday from 9 am - 5 pm

and extended hours on Tuesday & Thursday from 9 am - 9 pm.

We look forward to your visit!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Remembering Sue Allen

We are mourning the passing of Sue R. Allen, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 93. Sue was an inspiring scholar and teacher of book history and an exceptional and gracious individual. She will be missed by all who were lucky to have known her. Sue was a member of the advisory group for the Publishers' Bindings Online project, and it was through taking her Rare Book School course Publishers' Bookbindings, 1830-1910 that my own passion and obsession with the 19th and early 20th century book blossomed. Sue Allen was a personal hero, whose enthusiasm and exuberance were contagious. When she called a book "charming" -- you saw it too. And you were charmed.

The following memorial statement was written by her son, and shared with the Rare Book School community.

Born in Natick, Massachusetts, on August 2, 1918, and raised in the Boston area, Sue was graduated from Girls’ Latin School and the Massachusetts College of Art. As the graphic artist at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, her calendars and other pieces delighted readers with their clarity and spirited liveliness. In 1955, she married Greer Allen, then a designer at the University of Chicago Press, and subsequently University Printer at Yale; their marriage lasted almost 50 years, until his death in 2005.

When Sue came upon nineteenth-century American bookbindings in the early 1970s, she found a small, poorly organized field, dealing with a little-appreciated subject matter. Seeing the importance of preserving and valuing the books that brought mass literacy to the American people, Sue single-handedly defined and structured the field as it stands today. With her artist’s eye, she identified the changing styles of book covers and endpapers over the decades from 1830 to 1910, and placed these styles in the context of broader changes in the decorative arts and the technology and economics of publishing. She also highlighted the work of artists, designers, binders, and publishers, particularly the hitherto little-known work of engraver John Feely and agricultural publisher Orange Judd.

Among the longest-serving instructors at Rare Book School, having taught from its founding at Columbia University, Sue inspired hundreds of librarians, conservators, book dealers, and collectors as she taught them about the bookbindings that became her passion. Her deep knowledge of the subject matter and her lively, engaging style won her the love, admiration, and loyalty of her students and others in the field.

Author and coauthor of several articles about nineteenth-century American bookbindings, Sue was nearing completion of her long-awaited book on the subject at the time of her death. In accordance with Sue’s wishes, her son John will be contacting several friends and former students familiar with her work to assist in finishing the book.

At her son’s instructions, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Sue Allen Fund, Rare Book School, Attn: Danielle Culpepper, P. O. Box 400103, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4103 via check payable to Rare Book School.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sounds Like Alabama!

The Year of Alabama Music at Hoole! Sounds Like Alabama

The Alabama Tourism Department has named 2011 the “Year of Alabama Music” and the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library is jumping on the celebration band wagon. Our new exhibit is opening soon -- one that will that will show music of all genres and from all corners of the state of Alabama that are held in our collections. We're calling it Sounds Like Alabama: Alabama's Contributions to American Popular Music from the Hoole Library's Collections.
You can learn more about Alabama music and the exhibit through a series of Twitter (@coolathoole) and on the Cool@Hoole Facebook page (Like Cool@Hoole: The Blog of the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library) posts, we will feature songs written by Alabama natives that have gone #1 on the Billboard charts, along with tidbits about various artists and songwriters. So follow us daily to get your toes tappin’ to some true Alabama sounds of every conceivable stripe.

Here’s a preview of just a few of the songs from the past century that might be featured in our tweets and posts! Enjoy!!!

Here’s a preview of just a few of the songs from the past century that might be featured in our tweets and posts! Enjoy!!!

1920: St. Louis Blues, written by W.C. Handy and performed by Marian Harris:

1944: Smoke on the Water, written by Zeke Clements and Earl Nunn, performed by Red Foley. This song also went #1 when performed by Bob Wills in 1945.

1955: Wallflower, written by Hank Ballard, performed by Etta James.

1966: When a Man Loves a Woman, written by Calvin Lewis and Andrew Wright, performed by Percy Sledge. This song also went #1 in 1991 when Michael Bolton covered it.

1978: Too Hot Ta Trot, written by Lionel Richie, performed by the Commodores.

1980: Tennessee River, written by Randy Owen, performed by the band, Alabama.

1993: Nuthin’ But A G Thang, written by Frederick Knight, performed by Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg

2002: The Good Stuff, written by Craig Wiseman, performed by Kenny Chesney.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Alabama Music Exhibit Coming Soon! Tweet!

Be sure to follow @coolathoole on Twitter and look for cool blog posts here about our upcoming Alabama Music exhibit!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Alabama's Storyteller, Kathryn Tucker Windham

We recently said goodbye to renowned storyteller, author, photographer, and radio personality, Kathryn Tucker Windham. She will be greatly missed, but she will live on in our hearts and through her stories. The Hoole Library houses over twenty different works, including sound and video recordings as part of our Alabama Collection.

Born in Selma, Alabama and raised in Thomasville, Ms. Windham inherited her gift of storytelling from her father, a local banker, at a very young age. From early on, she also showed a keen interest in writing. At the tender age of twelve, she began writing movie reviews for the Thomasville Times.

Her career as a reporter would continue to grow, and she began to work as a freelance journalist in Thomasville after graduating from Montgomery’s Huntingdon College in 1939. Windham became a police reporter and features writer for Montgomery’s Alabama Journal. Her work as a reporter in a very masculine profession was groundbreaking and inspiring to women writers all over Alabama and beyond.

Ms. Windham also had a lifetime love of photography, a passion and talent she put to use as a courthouse reporter and editor for the Birmingham News. Later, she would begin publishing books of her photographs and including them in works. She is well known for many, many things, but many think of her 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey when they think of her. Everyone loves her ghost stories. Inspired by an inquiry about “Jeffrey,” a friendly ghost residing in the Windham’s home in Selma, Windham began a series of collections of ghost stories, the first being 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey, published in 1969. She followed up with collections of ghost stories from Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, more Alabama ghosts, and Southern ghosts.

She has been featured as a teller at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee over twelve times. She authored a book, My Name is Julia and created a one-woman play of the same name, which she performed in period costume about another great Alabamian, Julia Tutwiler. The play was debuted at the Birmingham Public Library in 1981.

There is a special place in my heart for Kathryn Tucker Windham -- as her stories were the foundation for the first major exhibition I did at the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library. In Fall, 2000, just after coming to The University of Alabama, I worked with MFA candidate in the Book Arts, Suzanne Gray, on her MFA Thesis exhibition, Piano Lessons and Other Recollections, a book of stories by Ms. Windham, which was printed, illustrated, and bound by Suzanne Gray as her thesis project. The exhibit featured Suzanne's work as well as a selection of Ms. Windham's books, and included a tombstone pinata which I keep in my office to remind me of that exhibit and the opening.

Detail from Piano Lessons and other Recollections, stories from Kathryn Tucker Windham
Major Tiara Press, 2000. From the Hoole Library Book Arts Collection

Prefaces by Lori Allen Siegelman and Suzanne Gray.
This book was letterpress printed by Suzanne Gray from photopolymer plates and lead types on Frankfurt paper using Adobe Garamond and Garamond Italic typefaces. ... Twenty-six of the 125 copies are bradel bound with hand-colored illustrations and are in protective containers. They are lettered A to Z. Ninety-nine copies are quarter-cloth bound and numbered 1 to 99.
Illustrations by the printer; decorative papers by the printer and Suzanne Moore.

Students, scholars, and storytellers alike will return to Ms. Windham's stories and books. They are here for you to enjoy! I like to think that maybe Kathryn Tucker Windham herself is here with us sometimes -- I'd love nothing better to catch a glimpse of her and Jeffrey in the stacks, making mischief. She of all people, would appreciate that notion -- inscribing her books to her legions of fans, young and old, like this: