Lights, Camera, Davidson! “American Animals” is a Sundance Hit

Advertisement for 4/18/18 screening at Our Town Cinemas.Last Wednesday, Davidson College community members had the unique opportunity to attend a free advanced screening of Bart Layton’s most recent film, the true-crime thriller “American Animals” which was filmed on campus during the spring of 2017!

A man in a parka and winter hat stands behind film cameras.

Director Bart Layton outside of Chambers last March.

While the cast and crew were on campus, students had the opportunity to act as extras and intern on set to learn firsthand how film sets function. A question and answer followed the advanced screening and director Bart Layton explained that Davidson’s Archives & Special Collections had the unique feeling they sought when scouting film locations at colleges and universities and appreciation for student employees who “ask the right questions.” Filming took place outside of Chambers and inside the E.H. Little Library, particularly the Davidsoniana Room and the Rare Book Room.

Look for how familiar campus spots were transformed for film!

The film, starring Evan Peters (“American Horror Story”), Barry Keoghan (“Dunkirk”), Blake Jenner, and Jared Abrahamson is based upon the “Transy book heist.” In 2004,  four students robbed Transylvania University’s special collections of several rare books and were arrested after attempting to auction their stolen goods at Christie’s auction house in New York City.

Film crew set up in front of Chambers.

“American Animals” will not be the first retelling of the tale. Chase Allen II, one of the original four heist members, published the story of the heist as his first public acknowledgment of the crimes after declining all interview opportunities. Allen’s telling of the story, entitled Mr. Pink: The Inside Story of the Transylvania Book Heist, was published under the pseudonym “Chas Allen” in 2010.

The film opens in select theatres on June 1! Click here to read a review from Variety.

Welcome to Archives & Special Collections, Molly!

Join us as we celebrate the arrival of Molly Campbell, the new Digital Archivist! I took a little time to interview our newest addition to the team to introduce her to Around the D.

Woman on a mountain trail wearing a white t-shirt and black sunglasses.

Molly Campbell

You’re just beginning to get to know Davidson’s Archives & Special Collections–what’s your background in archival work?

I first became interested in archives when I was an undergraduate student studying  public history at James Madison University. I was lucky enough at that time to acquire a summer internship at the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, DE. Over the course of that summer I really fell in love with archives and decided to pursue a MA in History to further my knowledge of the field. Once I had obtained my MA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst it was fairly apparent that I was also going to need a Master in Library Science (MLS) in order to better understand archives, so I did just that at the University of Maryland, College Park. After graduation I worked in the archives of The Lawrenceville School, which is a boarding school in Lawrenceville, NJ. At Lawrenceville I had the chance to work on a number of exciting projects, including working with students and faculty.

What about the Digital Archivist position interested you?

The position interested me for a number of reasons. I think initially the title “Digital Archivist” attracted me because I am particularly interested in working with and managing electronic records. Thanks to the proliferation of digital technology our society is producing a massive amount of data that archivists are trying to collect, organize, preserve, and make accessible. I want to be part of that movement to preserve digital records and this will be a fantastic opportunity to do just that. Davidson is currently producing a large amount of digital material and I hope that I can help collect that information so future students, faculty, and staff can easily access it. I am also excited to make our print and a/v collections more easily accessible through digitization initiatives.

Are there any projects you’re particularly passionate about introducing to Davidson?

I have a number of ideas relating to projects that I think would be exciting to introduce to Davidson, but for the time being I am going to try and better understand what this particular community values and how the Archives & Special Collections can better serve it. I would really like to take the time to learn how people currently utilize the materials in Archives & Special Collections to see what projects would best serve our userbase.

White sheet cake that reads "Welcome Molly"

A welcome party was held in the Library for Molly on Wednesday, April 4!

You haven’t been here long yet, but what has been your most memorable or surprising experience at Davidson thus far?

I was pleasantly surprised how welcoming everyone has been since I arrived. The most memorable experience thus far was when a group of the Library staff surprised me with a welcome song set to the tune of “Hello, Dolly.” It was great and certainly very memorable!

 

What are three things you want Davidson’s community to know about you?

More than anything else I would like the community to know that I am excited to be here and am ready to hit the ground running!  I am excited to begin meeting students, staff, and faculty across campus and would like to hear how they envision Archives & Special Collections best serving them. Please feel free to drop me a line anytime!

College Library times 4

Did you know that the E.H. Little Library is not the first building to house the college’s library collections?

In fact, there were three before it.

"Old Chambers"

“Old Chambers”

The first physical space to house the book collections of the college, was in the Library Hall in “Old Chambers,” the building which burned in 1921 and was replaced with “New Chambers,” the building on campus today.  The first building to be built on campus as a library was the Carnegie Library, completed in 1910.

Carnegie Library

Carnegie Library

In 1941, the second library building opened, the Hugh A. and Jane Grey Memorial Library.

Grey Library

Grey Library

And, our present library building, the E.H. Little Library, was completed in 1974.

E.H. Little Library

E.H. Little Library

That doesn’t mean that the former library buildings are no longer here.  Carnegie is now the Carnegie Guest House, and Grey became the student union for a time and is now the Sloan Music Center.

If you’re around, come by the library after the new year and see the display in the Rare Book Room with pictures of the libraries and some of the books from the original collections.

From the Rare Book Room: Watermark Wednesday

A hallmark of good research is looking beyond the surface. Particularly, in the Davidson Archives, it is prudent to search beyond what meets the eye—literally. The Davidson College Archives and Special Collections houses a multitude of rare books and 19th century correspondences by former College Presidents which boast watermarks. Such hidden images on the pages can offer insights as to where and by whom the paper was made, as well as its quality.

A page featuring a poem and a faint watermark and lines.

Nonesuch Press watermark and chain and laid lines visible on handmade page.

The tradition of watermarks in papermaking began in Fabriano, Italy late in the 13th Century and was continued by other manufacturers of handmade paper into the 19th century. Watermarks were formed by twisting thin wires into various geometric shapes and adhered to the paper mold. The mold was simply a wood-framed wire screen which would be dipped into a “soup”-of-sorts of warm water and rag fibres several times. As the water strained through, horizontal (laid) lines and vertical (chain) lines would appear on the forming sheet. The shape of the watermark was imprinted into the sheet whilst the fibres were still wet, thereby thinning the paper in a specific area, forming the mark.

The Davidson Rare Book Room holds a 1923 reprint by The Nonesuch Press of the Poems of Andrew Marvell, the original 1681 edition of which is housed in the British Museum. As noted on the cover, the edition was printed on handmade Italian watermarked paper.

Title page reading: MISCELLANEOUS POEMS BY ANDREW MARVELL, Esq. Late Member of the Honourable House of Commons LONDON The Nonesuch Press, 30 Gerrard Street M. CM. XXIII.

Title page of the Poems of Andrew Marvell

Portrait of a mustachioed man in a long curly wig, typical of the 17th century,

Portrait of Andrew Marvell.

9th Annual “Ghost in the Library” Halloween Celebration

Guest Blogger: Niara Webb, Class of 2020

Last night’s  9th Annual Ghosts in the Library event was a smashing success! A record number of Davidsonians poured into the Rare Book Room to hear spooky stories by (LED) candlelight.

From left to right: Shelby Cline ’20, Dr. Andrew Leslie, Lee Kromer ’21 and Cameron Rankin ’21

Dr. Andrew Leslie of the Communications Department, who also happens to have been a professional storyteller for 20 years, started off the night. He told the tale of The Old Man and Tailypo, a story from North American folklore of an old hermit who is terrorized by a mysterious creature whose hunt for his missing tail leads to the old hermit. Next up was Lee Kromer ’21, who told an original tale of a man who was followed across continents by a murderer escaped from a Gulag prison camp. Shelby Cline ’20, recalled an experience with a mysterious supernatural being during a dark, early morning rowing practice. Cameron Rankin ’21 read the listeners a classic New England tale of a haunted house in which the owner had been buried beneath the hearth. Finally, Dr. Leslie shared one more story and the winner of the six-word horror story was announced: Hannah Lieberman ’18!

Hannah wrote, “But the paper was due… yesterday!!!” A Davidson-themed scary story to round off the evening.

Guests who survived the night of spooky tales were thanked with bags full of chocolates, Halloween candies, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. Thank you to all who attended and we wish you a very happy Halloween! 

Ghosts in the Library – tomorrow

Don’t miss the 9th Annual Ghosts in the Library event!

8 pm Tuesday, October 24 in the Rare Book Room

Ghost-like skeleton behind 19thc woman in period dress

Ghost stories: classics, favorites, and originals, if you dare.

$25 gift card for the best six word horror story.

Treats for those who survive to the end!

 

Digitization and Historical Context: Analyzing Trustee and Faculty Minutes

The archives hold several bound volumes of minutes from the meetings of the trustees and faculty of Davidson College. The trustees met at irregular intervals throughout the nineteenth century, beginning in 1836, as they discussed monetary issues, student deportment, lack of students, faculty turnover, and the strain imposed by Civil War drafting and rationing. The trustee meetings initially took place at local churches, with several of the trustees representing the various presbyteries that supported the nascent Davidson College.

Though Davidson College classes officially began in 1837, no faculty meeting minutes were kept until 1845. Members of the faculty met weekly between 1845 and 1921 and discussed issues similar to those of the trustees. In 1921, the meetings moved to monthly sessions, meaning there are significantly fewer volumes found for later years.

The first volume of Faculty Minutes for Davidson College also contains the minutes of the Trustees of the Western Carolina College between May 1821 and June 1824. The North Carolina General Assembly authorized the establishment of a college in 1820, subsequently appointing trustees to oversee its development. These trustees met for three years, but were ultimately unable to raise sufficient funds for the effort—though this later gave way to the establishment of Davidson College.

The trustee and faculty minutes contain information about college assets, personal finances, student grades and conduct, curriculum development, and admissions policies. For this reason, minutes taken at these meetings typically have some restrictions to protect the privacy of those involved. Davidson’s trustee minutes have access restrictions for 75 years. There are no restrictions on nineteenth century faculty minutes. The Archives & Special Collections department is making a concerted effort to digitize these volumes, beginning with meetings that shed light on Davidson College’s relationship to and within the slave system, as well as systemic racial discrimination.

One of the most enlightening faculty minutes accounts dates to December 27, 1853, stating:

                “The Faculty having heard that a fight had occurred on the 26th inst., at the lower store, between some of the students and some men from the country, proceeded to investigate the facts in the case. They found as follows:

                That there was a wagon near the store, and several negroes, together with two young men by the name of Washam, near it. Two students, Robert A. H. Neagle and H.T. McDugald, in passing the wagon, accosted some of the negroes, telling them to take off their hates, and on their declining to do so, Neagle knocked off the hat of one of them; these two students then passed on into the store, where they met more negroes whom they accosted in the same way and McDugald, with a stick in his hand, knocked off the hat of one of them.

                The two Washams followed them into the store and asked them if the store belonged to them, and repeated the question when, after some dispute and rough language between the parties, the students came back upon the College Hill to get help and several other students went down and among them, J.T. Kell, who, when he entered the store before the other, enquired for the man (or as some would have it, the negro) who would not take off his hat.

                 One of the Washams came out of the counting room, and replied to him. Neagle and McDugald came in after Kell, and after some words passing between the parties, one of the Washams hit Neagle and then a voice was heard from outside of the door to Kell – “hit him,” and he knocked down Washam with a club which he had brought with him, and Neagle either jumped on him or kicked him in the side, when the other Washam attempted to interfere, but the parties were separated.”

The three named students responsible for the degrading altercation were suspended from the college by the faculty for the remainder of the term the following month.

 

This image is a scan of the first page of the faculty minutes from December 27, 1853. The typescript appears in the main body of the posting.

Davidson College faculty minutes from December 27, 1853.

 

This image is a scan of the second page of the faculty minutes from December 27, 1853. The typescript appears in the main body of the posting.

Davidson College faculty minutes from December 27, 1853, continued.

 

There were also several recorded instances of blackface during the Civil War period. One of these instances was discussed by the faculty on February 19, 1863:

               “Mr. W.H. Scott (pupil in the preparatory department) had been seized by Messrs. Moore, Knox, Glover, Troy, and Watts, and blacked and otherwise insultingly treated by them, and Mr. H.W. Scott, brother of the aforesaid Scott, had been beaten by Mr. Troy for resenting the treatment that his brother had received.

                The two messrs. Scott being called before the Faculty, H.W. Scott was found to be very much bruised about the face, and had evidently been very seriously beaten. Mr. W.H. Scott testified that he went into Mr. Glover’s room on Wednesday night, and having been there a very few minutes, he was seized from behind by Mr. Moore and thrown on the bed and held there by Moore, Knox, Watts, and Glover, and that Mr. Troy blacked his face with soot and tallow. That after he was released, an attempt was made by the same students to make a negro boy kiss him.

                H.W. Scott, being asked the cause of the fight between himself and Mr. Troy, said that he was not present when his brother was so much insulted, but that he went to Mr. Gibson’s room immediately after he heard it, and that Mr. Troy was there’ that Mr. Troy said to him “You ought to have been around to see us black Heathly,” and that he replied that if he had been there it would not have been done without a fight, and that we would cut anyone with his knife who attempted to black him. That Mr. Troy then called him a “damned South Carolina son of a bitch,” and that he (Scott) struck him, and the fight ensued.

                Mr. Troy was called before the Faculty and frankly acknowledged all that he had done and said, which was substantially the same testimony given by the Scotts; and said moreover, that the Scotts had been guilty at various times of stealing wood and other things, and that the blacking was intended to drive them out of the West Wing. That he could prove that they had been guilty of theft, though he had not seen them himself in the act, that could mention those who had, and that he was ready to prove it.”

 

This image is a scan of the first page of faculty minutes from February 1863. The typescript is in the main body of the text.

Davidson College faculty minutes from February 19, 1863.

 

This image is a scan of the second page of faculty minutes from February 1863. The typescript is in the main body of the text.

Davidson College faculty minutes from February 19, 1863, continued.

               

In this case, the students were not initially suspended or expelled from the college for their behavior, but they were publicly admonished. Nearly one month later, on March 10, 1863, the faculty voted on a proposition to make “any student who disguises himself by blacking his face, altering his dress, or by any other means, guilty of a serious offence liable to immediate dismission from College.”

Although these striking accounts occasionally seem vague, we can learn a lot from what language is used, from what information is left out, and comparing these accounts to other records left from the period in question. Making these primary sources publicly available allows researchers to make those comparisons and bring often untold stories to light, while also revealing the historical roots of modern discrimination.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables

Nathaniel Hawthorne‘s second novel was published in April 1851 and followed his very successful first novel, The Scarlet Letter.    Begun in August 1850, The House of the Seven Gables was published to mixed reviews, but was well received by the public.  His Gothic tale of the Pyncheon family and the haunting of their house was inspired by an actual gabled house in Salem, Massachusetts which was owned by one of Hawthorne’s cousins, and by ancestors who had been involved in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

House of the Seven Gables Cover

House of the Seven Gables Cover

It has been adapted for movies, TV, and short stories.  And, in 2000, the Manhattan School of Music premiered an opera based on the novel.

We are fortunate to have in our Rare Book Room collection an 1851 printing of the novel, presented to the library by Mrs. Richard H. Brooks.

As we move nearer to Halloween, consider reading a copy of this classic tale!

House of the Seven Gables

House of the Seven Gables

And for more ghostly tales…

Come to the Rare Book Room at 8:00 PM on Tuesday October 24 for our 9th annual “Ghosts in the Library” storytelling event.  Complete with treats, but no tricks!

Affordances of the Codex

The first class session in the Rare Book Room this term was for DIG 220: Electronic Literature with Dr. Mark Sample and his students.  Electronic literature?  In the Rare Book Room?  Yes, because one of the interesting things to do as we look at using/reading/researching texts online, is to compare that to how we’d use the same text in a physical space.  So, we looked at the “Affordances of the Codex,” or to put it another way, the attributes of the physical book.  What do we do differently; how do we interact differently; what do we see in a different way when we use physical books?

The five affordances we attributed to physical books were:

  • Books are simultaneously sequential and random access.

For example, we can look at a dictionary and read from A to Z, or we can find the definition of a particular word.  We can look at a book of short stories and read the first story through to the last, or we can choose a story to read.

Short Stories

Short Stories

  • Books are volumetric objects.

They have size and shape.  They “contain” the information in a three dimensional way.  Or, the shape may be representative of the contents.  The book “Snake Poems,” by Margaret Atwood literally unfolds like an accordion or “snake.”  “Gulliver’s Travels” text of his visit to the land of the giants is huge; the text of his visit to the Lilliputians is tiny.

  • Books are finite (bounded information spaces).

Single titles may be bound in one or more volumes; multiple titles may be bound together; single titles bound in one volume may be divided into parts.

  • Books offer a comparative visual space.

Books may be printed on the “front” side (the recto) of a leaf, but not on the “back” side (the verso.)  Notes, glosses, or translations may be on pages opposite the text itself.Page in SanscritPage in English

  • Books are writable as well as readable.

We all often take notes, underline, or mark passages in books (our own, of course, not those which we check out from the library!) for our study.  But, some books in the Rare Book Room have recipes on a flyleaf, notes from previous owners regarding their readings of the book, children’s drawings, gift inscriptions and other markings indicating their use.Children's drawings

Some of these affordances may also apply to electronic texts, but some don’t.  How do you see them differently?

Thanks, Dr. Sample and students for a great discussion!

Justice, Equality, and Community Archivist Is In The Library!

Hello, my name is Jessica Cottle and I am the recently hired Justice, Equality, and Community (JEC) Project Archivist.

A group of dedicated faculty and staff developed this new position to further the goals of the “Justice, Equality, Community: Reimagining Humanities Curricula for an Interconnected, Rapidly Changing World” initiative, funded by a generous Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant. Over the course of 3.5 years, the initiative aims to “reimagine humanities curricula through the lens of three ideas that…cut across cultures, time, and disciplines: justice, equality, and community…to demonstrate the critical role of humanistic inquiry in public discourse, global problem-solving, engaged citizenship, and democratic leadership.”

The grant includes funding for innovative partnership between faculty and students, a humanities practitioner-in-residence program, community-minded experiential learning projects, and archives-supported assignments centered on questions about race and religion in the greater-Davidson area.

As the JEC Project Archivist for this endeavor, I will be developing, promoting, and digitizing archival resources related to the research and teaching of social justice issues (particularly race and religion), and facilitating collaboration between community partners, faculty, and students. I was raised in Charlotte—I graduated from Harding University High School in 2011—so I plan on tapping into personal connections to homegrown groups to ensure the initiative’s positive impact on both the campus community and local residents.

I graduated from Appalachian State University with my B.A. in May 2015. I majored in Global Studies with a concentration in East Asia, and double minored in Women’s Studies and Chinese. I returned to Boone that fall to complete my M.A. in Public History, graduating in May 2017. I believe unearthing connected historical and current marginalized narratives and subsequently serving as a conduit through which people can address their communities for themselves is my foremost responsibility as a public historian and archivist. When applying for jobs this summer, I immediately connected with the project goals described in this position’s advertisement as I saw my understanding of history and archives reflected in them. I am excited to familiarize myself with the archive’s resources and getting to know everyone as the JEC initiative moves forward!

Jessica Cottle
Email: jecottle@davidson.edu
Phone: 704.894.2669
Office: E.H. Little Library, Room 203

Research, Teaching, and Collection department's contributions to welcome Jessica Cottle.

Research, Teaching, and Collection department’s contributions to welcome Jessica Cottle.

Jessica Cottle's Welcome Cake

Jessica Cottle’s Welcome Cake
August 28, 2017