Thursday, September 5, 2013

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Friday, March 8, 2013

The Lecture that never Was: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Death of President Foster

On the back of an unassuming phys ed grade chart, the discovery of a lecture that never was has come to our attention and to our collections, thanks to Ken Gaddy and the staff at the Bryant Museum. 

On November 18, 1941, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, first lady of the United States, was scheduled to deliver a lecture entitled, "The America We Want" in The University of Alabama auditorium.

The lecture was never to be.  According to Mrs. Roosevelt's "My Day" column for November 19, 1941, she was asked to cancel her engagement at The University of Alabama because of President Richard Clarke Foster's illness. "After my lecture last night, in Greenville, we returned home, for, unfortunately, the President of the University of Alabama, where I was to lecture tonight, was taken seriously ill, and they asked me if I would cancel the lecture. To find myself at home with two unexpected days of leisure is something really to rejoice over, though I am sorry the cause had to be somebody's illness."

Sadly, the sudden illness that struck President Foster took his life.  He passed away on November 19, 1941.  He was much beloved on campus, and in addition to an immediate fund drive to purchase the Richard Clarke Foster Memorial Iron Lung for Druid City Hospital (his sudden illness brought to light the immediate need for such a machine), the very auditorium where Mrs. Roosevelt was to speak was named in his honor soon after.

Foster Auditorium, in its newly renovated glory, served as the site for countless dances, pep rallies, performances, basketball games, class registrations, as well as the very place where integration finally came to pass at The University of Alabama.  While many may remember hearing of Mrs. Roosevelt's lecture that never was, and know of Dr. Foster's sudden and untimely death, might not realize how these two events were connected. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Can we get a ROLL TIDE!?

Roll Tide Roll!

From our Digital Collections,

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!