Big news from George Mason University. The University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives is the new home of the Gilbert and Sullivan Collection donated by David and Annabelle Stone. The collection is all things Gilbert and Sullivan from original manuscripts to production materials to letters and personal effects. Read the press release to learn more about the donation.
Want to know what other collections George Mason University has? Search Virginia Heritage to see their finding aids.
Originally posted on George Mason University’s Special Collections & Archives blog Vault217 on March 21, 2014 by Greta Kuriger Suiter.
In honor of Women’s History Month I thought it would be appropriate to share a collection of photographs taken by, and mostly of, women from the 1940s. The Mary Elsie Fox photograph collection documents Fox’s, and her friends’, personal lives in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. during the 1940s, at a time when she was working at the newly opened Pentagon. The collection consists of 423 photographs and one document from a discarded photo album that was found by George Mason University staff and was donated to the University Special Collections and Archives in 2006. The images in the collection date from 1935 to 1959. The entire collection has been scanned and is available as a digital collection.
Screenshot from the Mary Elsie Fox digital collection. George Mason University, Special Collections & Archives.
The Fox collection is an excellent example of vernacular photography. It was created for personal use and with no artistic aspirations. In many of the photographs Fox and her friends are featured socializing and posing in or near Washington D.C.. Some of the images were also taken in Norway and other geographic locations in the United States and Europe that Fox herself may not have visited since she is not as visible in these photographs. As a collection, some of the images could have been taken by Fox, though it is difficult to know for certain, but all of them were collected, stored, and used by her. Many of the images are identified by writing on their verso indicating dates, names, and places, but there are also many that are not identified in any way. Some of the handwriting differs indicating that Fox was not the only one writing descriptions and that she may have received photographs from friends as gifts. These photographs serve as evidence of average people who chose to photograph themselves for their own enjoyment, posterity, and memory. Today they exist removed from their original function and may provide useful information for researchers about how people lived and recorded their existence at a certain time and place in history.
Screenshot of the Mary E. Fox photograph collection on Tumblr.
Last fall, for the course HIST 696: Clio Wired: An Introduction to History and New Media at George Mason University, I created a digital project on Tumblr using photographs from the Fox collection. This site breaks down the photographs by dates into piles that can be shuffled through. Click on the image above to visit the site.
Originally posted on George Mason University’s Special Collections & Archives blog Vault217 on January 6, 2014 by Yvonne Carignan.
Conservation for rare books in Special Collections & Archives occurs routinely to make damaged books usable again. In the case of the 1820 Richmond imprint of the Proceedings and Debates of the Virginia State Convention of 1829-1830, our copy had a mutilated spine and the entire cover was separated from the text block as you see in the “before” photographs below. Conservation, using reversible materials and professional techniques, has resulted in a new spine created from compatibly colored and very strong Japanese paper. Meanwhile, the torn joints have been repaired, also using Japanese paper colored to match the beautiful original marbled end sheets.
Image of “Proceedings and Debates of the Virginia State Convention of 1829-1830” before conservation.
Image of “Proceedings and Debates of the Virginia State Convention of 1829-1830” after conservation.
Another, more modern book, the 1925 publication, The Building of Satellite Towns, had torn hinges. The conservator was able to save part of the original spine this time by adhering it to the spine replacement. The torn joints were repaired by replacing the old end sheets with compatibly colored, but new, acid-free end sheets. Note that the conservator saved the book seller’s stamp in the lower right hand corner of the pastedown. Working with conservators to repair books in Special Collections & Archives is part of our role as good stewards of these valuable research collections.
Image on the left shows spine damage on “The Building of Satellite Towns.” The image on the right shows the inside cover after conservation.
“The Building of Satellite Towns” spine after conservation.
Originally posted on George Mason University’s Special Collections & Archives blog Vault217 on February 17, 2014 by Jordan Patty.
Although we are supposed to be celebrating George Washington’s birthday, a recent donation to Special Collections & Archives recalls Washington’s life just prior to his death. Included in the recent donation made by Randolph and Ellen Lytton is a published copy of George Washington’s last will and testament that he completed in July 1799 only six months prior to his death. Perhaps the most interesting section of the will states that following the death of his wife, Martha, “that all Slaves which I hold in my own right shall receive their freedom” (page 3). Washington, like other Founding Fathers, faced an obvious contradiction as he fought for freedom from tyranny while at the same time he owned people that worked in his houses and in his fields. His will appears to be an attempt to reconcile this contradiction. The will also includes a detailed description of his property and how he wanted it to be divided up among his heirs. According to the Papers of George Washington website, “[t]he language of Washington’s will and its contents combine to make it a document of particular importance among his papers.” The will was first printed in Alexandria shortly after being filed for probate in Fairfax County, Virginia in January of 1800. According to the title page of the copy held by SC&A, it was printed in New York “from the Alexandria edition.”
Title page from a published copy of George Washington’s will and testament (January 1800), Randolph Lytton Historical Virginia Graphic Material Collection, George Mason University Libraries, Special Collections & Archives. Public Domain.
There are some noticeable differences between it and the title page from the copy that was printed in Boston in February of 1800 that is available through Google books and held at the New York Public Library.
For further inquiry into this document, the Papers of George Washington includes a transcription of the will as well as the original handwritten will.