Friday, December 21, 2012

Favorite Things: Rockwell Kent's Lump of Coal

Portrait of Rockwell Kent by Carl Van Vechten (1933), from the Library of Congress

People often ask archivists and special collections librarians, "what's your favorite thing in your library?"  This is, of course, impossible to answer. But if forced to compile a list of "a few of my favorite things", this would be high on the list.

The painting, "That the Days of Our Years May Grow Fuller" was done by the famed artist and illustrator, Rockwell Kent. The University of Alabama received in 1948 one of ten paintings commissioned by the Bituminous Coal Institute from Rockwell Kent. Each painting was given to a university that was strongly linked with the history of coal and the coal industry. 

If to the viewer's eyes, my world appears less beautiful than his, I'm to be pitied and the viewer praised."  -- Rockwell Kent

Monday, December 17, 2012

First Flight! Publishers' Bindings and Planes!

The boy aviators in record flight, or, The Rival Aeroplane (NY: Hurst and Co, 1910)

The Motor Maids across the continent (NY: Hurst, 1911)

On December 17, 1903, the first airplane flew.  The Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, made the very first successful flight in history of a "self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft." Orville served as pilot for the the gas powered, propeller-driven biplane.  It stayed in the air for a mere twelve seconds and covered 120 feet on its inaugural flight.  The aftermath of this first flight can be seen in these two examples of young adult adventure stories, both published within a decade of the Wright Brothers' first flight.  Over a century later, we cannot help but be captivated by flight - birds, planes, or rockets. These books helped to capture the imaginations of young readers, and while our reading choices may have changed, our imaginations still soar through the power of books!

Both of these books are featured in Publishers' Bindings Online, 1815-1930: The Art of Books, and are part of the Richard Minsky Collection housed at the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Willie Pape Scrapbooks: An Antebellum Alabama Child Prodigy

William Barnesmore "Willie" Pape

William Barnesmore "Willie" Pape was born February 27, 1850 in Mobile, Alabama, the son of William O. and Tabitha McBride Pape.  His talent for music was discovered at a very early age and in 1854, Willie’s father began giving him music lessons.  He was so gifted that even at the age of thirteen he was able to play many of the most demanding piano sonatas from memory.

Concert program, 1863.

Willie and his father traveled to New York in preparation to travel to Europe just as the American Civil War erupted.  Alabama, in fact seceded from the Union while they were traveling in January of 1861.  Rather than going abroad as planned, they stayed in New York for two years.  Willie continued his studies under Sebastian Bach Mills.  After brief concert tours to Havana, Cuba, and Canada, Willie and his father finally left for England in 1863.

Sheet music cover featuring Willie Pape

Willie's first public performance in England on 27 April 1863 was a huge success and eventually led to the patronage of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1864.  He spent several more years in England, performing and touring, until returning to the United States in 1875 and resettling in Mobile.  He retired from his musical career at the tender age of seventeen years old.  When he left England, Willie gave up the piano completely, though he did play church organ throughout his his life.

He was married twice; first to Ella Anderson (around 1880) who died on 9 August 1889; and then to her sister, Mary Anderson.  Ella and Willie had three daughters, Ethel, Ella, and Hazel; Mary and Willie had one son, William Sherwood.

He began his second career not long after he returned to Mobile, studying medicine. In 1882, Pape graduated from the Medical College of Mobile and began his practice in Mobile. He also served on the faculty of his alma mater where he was a Professor of Physiology and Hygiene.  He died August 30, 1901.

William Barnesmore Pape in later life
The Willie Pape scrapbooks were donated to The University of Alabama Libraries in 2012 by Dr. William Pape Wood.  We would like to thank the descendants of William Barnesmore "Willie" Pape for this generous and historically important piece of Alabama and music history.

A letter from Mother, March 21, 1861

The two Willie Pape scrapbooks offer interesting insight into his world as a young musician and performer.  The letters he received, as well as concert programs, reviews and other materials are contained in these rare scrapbooks.  They include impassioned letters from his mother and grandmother that discuss family business as well as the War, illness, disease, and death. We also know that young Willie Pape sent a letter to President Abraham Lincoln just two weeks before his assassination.  The letter spoke passionately about a young man's struggle to connect with his family during the Civil War and the heartache that the war and prolonged separation had caused him. 

It reads:

Willie Pape, 9 Soho Square London Pianist to the Royal Family at Marlboro House
By Command of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, June 6, 1864
March 29, 1865

Your Excellency --

I left my native town, Mobile, Alabama, for the purpose of pursuing my studies under the best musicians in Europe, on the 1st of March, 1861 -- now four years since. On my arrival in New York I was informed by my father who accompanied me that our State had seceded from the Union, & that we had better remain a while before we embarked for England. I remained in the North for two years studying and occasionally appearing in public for the benefit of charities. On my arrival in England I was permitted to appear at several Grand Concerts, at which the Royal Family attended, and I have been honored by the highest position attainable by an artist.
I have written my mother many times, and to my Grandmother, by the way all letters to the South go. (I don’t know how that is, only they are deposited in a basket at Bishopgate street, & prepaid), but I have not heard a word from any of my family since the mails were stopped.
I was fifteen years old on the 27th of last month, and have been absent from Mobile since I was 11. I am very anxious to hear from my Mother if there is means of doing so.

I am in daily communication with Her Majesty or the Prince of Wales. They are my patrons & friends, and despite jealousies of native pianists, they awarded me the highest honors. It has been a source of great dissatisfaction to the Royal Academy that an American should have been so honored, but in this country merit alone gives precedence in the fine arts.

The honor of your answer will make very happy one who, although raised to so high a pinnacle of favor, is at all times unhappy and despondent.

I am informed that property left me by Grandfather has been confiscated through our absence from the so-called Confederate States.  Our property was assessed at 25,000 dollars.

To the Hon. Abraham Lincoln.

The Pape scrapbooks will be on exhibit in the lobby of the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library beginning Friday, December 15, 2012.   The University of Alabama Libraries would like to thank the descendants of William Pape for their generous gift of these treasured and historically significant items

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Star is Born: Happy Birthday Mark Twain!

He was born on November 30, 1835, just as Haley's Comet passed in the night sky. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, is a true American literary icon, and widely read today just as he was 100 years ago. 

These two beautiful blue books are excellent example's of 19th century editions of two of Twain's most beloved and widely read classics, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (published in 1891 by the American Publishing Company in Hartford, CT) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (First American edition, 1885, published by Charles L. Webster and Company, New York).  Both of these books are housed in the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library and were featured in Publishers' Bindings Online, 1815-1930: The Art of Books, along with many, many other Twain titles. A gallery and essay on Twain is available on the site as well, that we so cleverly called "Son of a Comet, Star of the West: The Life and Literature of “Mark Twain”.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy October (Island)!

October Island by William March.  First Edition, Little Brown and Co., 1952.

March's sixth novel, published in 1952, did not receive the same critical praise as some of his earlier works.  Some did like the novel, like the New York Times critic, Charles Poore, who praises March's "novel of salt and savor" full of "quiet, uninsistent irony" and his "mordant undertones of commentary on what it truly means to be an outcast."  But we love it, and we love our William March all the same.  And we really love this dust jacket, which is full of mid-century style. Happy October.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

It's Truman's Birthday!

September 30 marks the birthday of Alabama native son, Truman Capote.  To learn more about one part of Truman's legacy, join us on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 5:30 pm for Ralph Voss's talk on Truman Capote and the Legacy of In Cold Blood. This talk is not to be missed!  A small exhibit of  In Cold Blood related items and Capote books, including some from his own personal library, will be on display!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September...A Proclamation

Detail from Abe Lincoln's yarns and stories : a complete collection of the funny and witty anecdotes that made Lincoln famous as America's greatest story teller (Publishers' Bindings Online, and from the Wade Hall Collections of Southern History and Culture)

On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which went into effect on January 1 of 1863.  This historic and immensely significant document is not just something to read about in a textbook, but it is something to experience.  To better understand history, we must take advantage of the primary sources around us, looking beyond interpretation of the past. Newspapers and journals from the period provide unique insight into the sentiment of the day, allowing researchers to look at the world through someone else's eyes.  Editorials, political cartoons, and coverage from different parts of the country will show subtle and not so subtle differences in views. Special Collections Libraries and rich digital resources of primary materials allow you to do this.  So come by, or go online, and take a look at the newspaper and journal coverage of historic events.  A small display of the coverage of the Emancipation Proclamation is on display in the lobby of the Hoole Library -- without interpretation.  Come by, and read a little bit.  Or Visit the National Archives website to see digitized pages of the original proclamation. You'll be glad you did! 

"And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God."    --Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation Proclamation

Friday, September 21, 2012

100 Years, A Million Dollars, 1000 Strong and a Few Cool Photos!



The Million Dollar Band will be joined on the field tomorrow, September 22, 2012 by Million Dollar Band alums during the halftime show, making the band 1000 strong!

Bonus points if you can tell me the name of the Drum Major in that first picture!   

Friday, September 14, 2012

Beautiful pictures and the wonders of geneology research!

Unidentified couple, ca. 1910.  Gift of Dr. Wade Hall.

This wonderful photograph is just one of the many, many, many (!!) photographs in our collections.  The people in the photograph are unidentified, but someone out there might know who they are.

Many of the Hoole staff had the opportunity to attend the annual Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference which was held in Birmingham last month.  The staff learned a great deal and will be able to pass that knowledge along to our researchers.

One exciting item to note is that the rich online genealogical resource, AfriGeneas will be free for the entire month of October.  So, bookmark it and give it a try!  And if you know who this handsome couple is, please send me a note!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread? Alabama Football of Course!

This bread-shaped gem is a detail of the official Alabama vs. Sewanee football game, held at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama on October 17, 1925. This item is from our extensive collection of University of Alabama published  materials, ranging from course catalogs and yearbooks and everything in between, including an extensive collection of University of Alabama football programs.

The detail here is from the November 14, 1959 game against Georgia Tech, which was played at Legion Field, also in Birmingham.

What is the significance of these two teams together?  Well, we used to play Sewanee and Georgia Tech all the time, and in fact, our fight song, Yea Alabama, features the first line that says, "Let the Sewanee Tiger scratch, Let the Yellow Jacket sting!"  And while we don't sing those lyrics anymore, but start with a rousing "Yea Alabama! Drown 'em Tide!", it's true that the first references in the song are to two schools we just don't play anymore.  A fitting blog post today, what would have been Coach Paul Bryant's 99th birthday!  Roll Tide Roll!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Truman Capote and the Legacy of In Cold Blood: A Lecture

Join us on October 17, 2012 at 5:30 pm for an evening with Dr. Ralph Voss, retired professor of English at The University of Alabama. Voss will talk about his new book, Truman Capote and the Legacy of In Cold Blood (UA Press, 2011).

The talk will be followed by Q&A and a book signing. This event, like all events at Hoole, is free and open to the public.  A small exhibit of Capote materials will be on display in the Hoole Lobby.

"Truman Capote and the Legacy of In Cold Blood  is the anatomy of the origins of an American literary landmark and its legacy.

Ralph F. Voss was a high school junior in Plainville, Kansas in mid-November of 1959 when four members of the Herbert Clutter family were murdered in Holcomb, Kansas, by “four shotgun blasts that, all told, ended six human lives,” an unimaginable horror in a quiet farm community during the Eisenhower years. No one in Kansas or elsewhere could then have foreseen the emergence of Capote’s book–which has never gone out of print, has twice been made into a major motion picture, remains required reading in criminology, American Studies, sociology, and English classes, and has been the source of two recent biographical films.
Voss examines Capote and In Cold Blood from many perspectives, not only as the crowning achievement of Capote’s career, but also as a story in itself, focusing on Capote’s artfully composed text, his extravagant claims for it as reportage, and its larger status in American popular culture.
Voss argues that Capote’s publication of In Cold Blood in 1966 forever transcended his reputation as a first-rate stylist but second-rate writer of  “Southern gothic” fiction; that In Cold Blood actually is a gothic novel, a sophisticated culmination of Capote’s artistic development and interest in lurid regionalism, but one that nonetheless eclipsed him both personally and artistically. He also explores Capote’s famous claim that he created a genre called the “non-fiction novel,” and its status as a foundational work of “true crime” writing as practiced by authors ranging from Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer to James Ellroy, Joe McGinniss, and John Berendt.
Voss also examines Capote’s artful manipulation of the story’s facts and circumstances: his masking of crucial homoerotic elements to enhance its marketability; his need for the killers to remain alive long enough to get the story, and then his need for them to die so that he could complete it; and Capote’s style, his shaping of the narrative, and his selection of details–why it served him to include this and not that, and the effects of such choices—all despite confident declarations that “every word is true.”
Though it’s been nearly 50 years since the Clutter murders and far more gruesome crimes have been documented, In Cold Blood continues to resonate deeply in popular culture. Beyond questions of artistic selection and claims of truth, beyond questions about capital punishment and Capote’s own post-publication dissolution, In Cold Blood’s ongoing relevance stems, argues Voss, from its unmatched role as a touchstone for enduring issues of truth, exploitation, victimization, and the power of narrative."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Welcome Home Dr. Bailey!: UA's 37th President


The W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library is honored to join the chorus in welcoming Dr. Guy Bailey back to The University of Alabama!

This video message to Dr. Guy Bailey is a fitting tribute to our our new University of Alabama president. The Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama System named Dr. Guy Bailey president of The University of Alabama on July 11, 2012. He began his tenure on September 3rd. A Montgomery, Alabama native and a two-time UA graduate, Dr. Bailey comes to us from Texas Tech University, where he served as president since 2008.

To learn a bit more about the history of presidents of The University of Alabama, visit our online exhibit, Presidential Portraits at the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library.   This small online exhibit features the portraits that are held in the Hoole Library of former University of Alabama Presidents. 

First University of Alabama President, Alva Woods (1831-1837)

Our collections also feature the records of University of Alabama presidents and other administrators, as well as published and unpublished materials that document the rich history of The University of Alabama.  This includes full runs of the Corolla, the Crimson White, student publications, and much, much more! Come visit us!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fans, Band and Cheers! Roll Tide!

Well, it's that time of year again -- campus is buzzing with excitement following the season opener of Alabama football vs. Michigan in Cowboy Stadium in Dallas.  This image, from our University of Alabama photographs, and featured in Acumen, shows a cheerleader in motion in front of a sea of fans and members of the Million Dollar Band, ca. 1964.  Whether it is 1964 or today, the energy and excitement is palpable, even a full 584 miles away from Bryant-Denny Stadium on The University of Alabama campus! Roll Tide!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

In great confusion I drop you a line...: A Letter from the Creek Indian War

On August 30, 1813, Creek Indians, under the leadership of William Weatherford, also known as Red Eagle, attacked Fort Mims in what is now Baldwin County, killing nearly 250 settlers who had gathered there for protection. The attack caused fear and hysteria among frontier settlers, who quickly raised militia companies to fight in what became known as the Creek War, from 1813-1814.

The Hoole Library holds an incredible piece of evidence from that violent time, in the form of a letter from a man named Jesse Griffin to his parents.  Griffin states in his powerful letter that he has traveled 50 miles in flight from the Creeks, who killed more than 400 people in 5 days.

Although Griffin and his family survived, they lost their crops, livestock, and most of their household goods. The Creek Indian War lasted from 1813-1814,  where Creeks attacked white settlers moving into Creek lands.  The war ended on March 27, 1814, when General Andrew Jackson defeated Red Eagle and the Creek warriors at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in Alabama.

This item is available online via our Digital Collections and the original is housed in the Hoole Special Collections Library.

Finally, Cool@Hoole is glad to be back after a bit of a hiatus!  Please visit often, add us to your blogroll, and like us on Facebook!  Got a comment or a thought? Contact me at!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Got a minute? Tag it! Crowdsourcing Comes to University Libraries!!!

Think you know The University of Alabama? Well, come on and tag it! The University Libraries has started a new crowdsourcing project, allowing anyone to view and tag photographs from the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library!

tag our photographs?

We have thousands of digitized photographs! Many of these photos may lack adequate or complete descriptions of the people, places, or objects displayed. By applying your own "tags" (key words, descriptions) to our photographs, you can help us fill in the blanks and provide more thorough and accurate information for students and researchers using our collections.

The more you tag, the richer the experience for all! And besides, it's not only easy, but it's FUN!

Visit and get started! It's easy, no password is needed, so just get in there, pick some photographs, and start tagging away! If you have questions, feel free to contact us!

Happy Tagging!!!!!