Goodbye from Amy Chen, second editor of Cool@Hoole

By: Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow

Dear Readers,

IMG_2606As it is the end of my postdoctoral fellowship, I’ve accepted an offer to become a Special Collections Librarian in charge of the instruction program at the University of Iowa, my alma mater, beginning in June 2015. I’ve very much appreciated my time at the University of Alabama Division of Special Collections. I could not be more thankful for my time with my colleagues in the W.S. Hoole Library and the A.S. Williams III Americana Collection, the faculty and students I’ve worked with during my time at UA, and the community members I’ve met while living in Tuscaloosa.

Cool@Hoole was a tradition at the Capstone before I came to UA. The first iteration of Cool@Hoole came under the editorship of its founder, Jessica Lacher-Feldman, currently the head of the Department of Special Collections at Louisiana State University. Lacher-Feldman ran the blog between October 2007 and March 2013.

Serving as the second editor of Cool@Hoole has been an honor. During the time I’ve run Cool@Hoole, between October 2013 and May 2014, the blog posted 140 entries by 49 contributors, including 11 undergraduate and 11 graduate students, 15 librarians, 6 faculty members, and 6 community members from both within and outside of the Tuscaloosa area. Ellie Campbell and Ashley Bond, my graduate assistants from the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS), assisted with this output.

Among the topics Cool@Hoole discussed was the pedagogy inspired by the Division’s holdings. During the past two years, we’ve chatted with professors Jessica Kidd, Lauren Cardon, Stacy Morgan, and Brooke ChampagneRachel Deale, Melissa Young, and Lindsay Smith, three doctoral students from the history department, shared what it was like to be the first graduate student curators on the Division of Special Collection’s newly-launched public history initiative that provides curation experiences for burgeoning subject specialists.

As exhibitions are a venue to promote UA’s unique and rare materials, Cool@Hoole also covered the shows mounted during this period. Topics for our exhibitions included of strengths in Southern photography, World War I, and Confederate print culture and sheet music.

While exhibitions cover significant subject areas found in our Special Collections, Cool@Hoole also provided overviews of particularly significant items and collections. We posted descriptions of Enoch Arden‘s fore-edge painting, a map of Tuscaloosa when the city was still called Newtown, and even what we found in between the pages of the South’s first anthology dedicated to women’s writing and our early modern manuscript! Plus, we gave an inside scoop to the items our staff members count among their favorites.

But what makes special collections great is not just our materials; our Division is made up of the people who bring their expertise to Williams and Hoole every day to help students and researchers. We’ve interviewed six SLIS graduate students who worked at either Williams or Hoole — Alex Goolsby, Ashley Bond, Ellie Campbell, Haley AaronKatie Howard, Mary Haney — and provided features by many of the permanent staff who work in the Division, including Associate Dean Mary Bess Paluzzi, rare book cataloger Allyson Holliday, archivist Martha Bace, archivist April Burnett, postdoctoral fellows Chris Sawula and Christa Vogelius, archival coordinator Donnelly Walton, institutional records analyst and reference librarian Kevin Ray, Williams curator Nancy DuPree, archival technician Patrick Adcock, and former institutional records analyst Tom Land. We also remembered Joyce Lamont, our founding mother. Together, we have you covered, whether you want to book a class, trace your ancestrycreate a digital humanities project, or learn how to curate an exhibition.

I leave my best wishes to my successor, who will continue the tradition set by Jessica Lacher-Feldman. Please keep reading to learn more about the courses, exhibitions, holdings, and people of the University of Alabama’s Division of Special Collections. I know I’ll be sure to keep visiting too to hear what’s coming up next!

Sincerely,

Amy Hildreth Chen

Interview with Ashley Bond, Division of Special Collections graduate assistant

By: Ashley Bond, SLIS graduate student

Editor’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing series profiling the graduate students who work in the Division of Special Collections. Haley AaronAlex Goolsby, Ellie Campbell, Mary Haney, and Katie Howard have also been featured.

Hoole Interview picHi, Ashley! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. First, can you tell us a bit about what made you decide to pursue a career in libraries?

I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Georgia in studio art with a concentration in painting and had intended to get my Master of Fine Arts when I originally started looking at Alabama.

I’ve always enjoyed trips to the library growing up, and I more or less rediscovered that after college. Once I graduated, reading became less about academics and more about fun again. I began visiting the library more frequently, found myself browsing library jobs online that interested me, and over time it became pretty clear that’s where I wanted to be. The great thing is, I can always incorporate my art background into what I do, whether that means a career in art libraries, helping with special collections exhibitions, or planning activities in a children’s department. And of course I still draw and paint in my free time when I can!

As far as choosing the University of Alabama, my mother has been a fan of the school her entire life and also now works for the university. I can credit her since she took me to a football game while I was still an undergrad. It only took that one campus visit for me to know this was absolutely where I wanted to spend my graduate career.

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Cereal and sugar-coated (i)deology (Book Arts N7433.4.S42 C47 1995)

What responsibilities do you have at Hoole?

Initially, most of my time at Hoole was spent researching individual pieces in the collection and writing blog posts to highlight them. Around the second half of fall semester, I began working on an analytics project for the library’s social media accounts, primarily Facebook and Twitter. We really looked at what special collections libraries at other schools around the country were doing on social media and then diagnosed how we could improve our own outreach. This evaluation was how the Hashtag Project, which started around December of last year, was born. We wanted to sprinkle in fun and academic posts on a daily basis to supplement what we’re already posting and use hashtags in each tweet and status to reach a wider audience. I think it was a good start to really getting our posts out there so people can see our collection, and I’m excited to see how Hoole’s social media presence continues to grow in the future. So far, the first three months of the hashtag project have gone wonderfully.

Another duty I actually really enjoyed was helping mount items for display in curated shows throughout both semesters. The biggest project I helped with involved the two Confederate imprint exhibitions that just went on display this month in Gorgas and Hoole, Making Confederates: Building Nationalism through Print and When this Cruel War is Over: Sheet Music of the Confederacy respectively. Because of the nature of the items and how fragile they are, we needed to make duplicates of every item shown for part of the display time. Amy did all of the scanning, then I went into Photoshop for most of the images to adjust the color balance and keep the print color as true to the original imprints as possible. From there, I used photo-quality adhesive, mounted the printed images to foam board, and cropped the pieces accordingly. I thought the irregular edges of some of the imprints would pose a problem in the mat cutting, but it ended up being kind of fun getting out the X-Acto knife and carving out the details in the edges. It felt a lot like being back in the art studio from undergrad, which I loved!

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Staff Favorites: Amy Chen

By: Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow

Cool@Hoole thought it’d be fun to feature our staff’s favorites from among our collections. After all, closed stacks collections mean that users rely on us to know our materials in and out so that we can share the best resources for their classes or research. Along the way, we’ve not only become experts on our holdings, but also found items that we are particularly drawn to ourselves.

So, just as bookstores have “staff favorites” or “staff recommendation” shelves, we’ll have occasional blog posts showing our best picks from Hoole. Read about April Burnett Ashley Bond, Allyson Holliday, and Kevin Ray‘s favorites in previous posts. 


CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow Amy Chen’s favorite item is Higinii, hystorigraphi et phylosophi argutissimi libri quattuor non solum poeticas & hystoricas verum et astronomicas (Rare Books QB41 .H9 1517). Amy found this book by accident when pulling resources for a student interested in the history of astronomy. While the student did not request this particular book, she couldn’t resist opening it up when she was looking due to the beauty of the binding. She is captivated by the book’s age and its gorgeous illustrations of constellations.

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Pedagogy Series 5.4: Mosquito

By: Colson Domergue, UA undergraduate

This poem is the final post belonging to our fifth pedagogy series. You can also read student Jasmine Flowers and student Tori Linville‘s pieces from earlier posts or see instructor Jessica Kidd‘s commentary on this creative writing class project.  

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From Ellsworth Hult’s diary, MSS.3735

 Mosquito

Our birth occurred in such a cold place,
In the stillness of the naval yards of Philadelphia.
Our mission was to head south – to the source of sustenance.
Winter turned into spring
And we grew steadily stronger –
Nurtured in the warmth of the Gulf of Mexico.
We then found the rest of our swarm.
“Onward” was our buzzing anthem.
We found our precious blood.
The Rebel flag over the fort drew our eyes,
Enticing us to come and take
Her sweet blood from her body.
We became famished over
The past four years. It became time
To dine.
The swarm was buzzing around.
It almost sounded as if
The iron and wood mosquitoes
Were all chanting the name:
“Fort Morgan.”
The scent of blood drew more
Of us to her brick skin.
Their attempts to swat us were
All in vain.
June turned into July,
July into August.
Our swarms’ buzzing
Became a famished symphony and
Grew louder than the cannons.
Feast!
Feast!
Feast!
Feast!
Their sweet nectar was ours.
The white flag appeared.
No more blood.
Our appetites had been fulfilled.
USS Galena slept well.

Pedagogy Series 5.3: The Confederacy’s First Lady

By: Tori Linville, UA undergraduate

This poem is part of our fifth pedagogy series. To see Jessica Kidd’s commentary on the class and project, please read the first post from the series or view classmate Jasmine Flowers’ poem.  

The Confederacy’s First Lady

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Augusta Jane Evans Wilson quote book (MSS 1563)

I open the file to the information on who I’m to interview.

Augusta Evans Wilson. Author during the Civil War. Quinton is behind this assignment, I know it. He knows I hate the time period. Men bleeding for their warped beliefs. It’s insanity. The smell of gunpowder and sweat is overwhelming. I make a note to assign Quinton to the French Revolution for his next trip.

We discovered this plane of existence a few years after the The Wrinkler was patented after it started bringing the volunteers back in one piece. There were always suspicions about planes of existence parallel to ours, but The Wrinkler brought them to life. Literally.

The only objective is to interview passively, record, and return. Two weeks max to establish background information, locate the subject, and get out.

I am not to engage with the beings on this plane in any other active way. The mission is to pass unnoticed as a news reporter. It’s going to take at least three days to get the clothing right. Tailors in the 1800s are slower than snails.

The individuals within the plane I’m assigned to don’t know they’re not actually within our realm. As time passes, it ripples and some periods get stuck in a loop. Others change altogether. We don’t know why some planes are suspended in certain centuries, while others aren’t even inhabited by humans. We simply don’t have all the answers yet.

Which is where Quinton and I come in. We bring pieces of history back from our assigned planes through the interviews we conduct. The theorists take it from there.

If the mission is successful, I will have received a snapshot of the time period in a way that photographers never could.

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Pedagogy Series 5.2: Chahta-Ima (Like a Choctaw)

By: Jasmine Flowers, UA undergraduate

This poem is part of our fifth pedagogy series. To see Jessica Kidd’s commentary on the class and project, please read the first post from the series. 

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 Chahta-Ima (Like a Choctaw)

“The whole of creation has a mystic sense, and breathes a divine language which is named poetry.”
– Adrien Rouquette

The Lord spoke out
“Let there be light.”
And it was so.

The smallest utterance
can bring about
a change
a truth
a life.

Everything
is poetry.
Everything.
A child’s first step
is poetry.
A crow in a tree
is poetry.
A cough in the night
is poetry.
A cut that heals
is poetry.
A cry to the Lord
is poetry.

Why should I
not listen when
another man speaks?
Or when the river babbles?
Or when the wind whispers?

Who is to say what a word
is
or
is
not?
Creole
Patois
English
Français
Chahta

Let the man speak out.
Let him speak and be heard,
so that he might stop and listen.
Let the earth praise
the Most High,
so that we might
learn from it.

I went to the forest
to speak His word
and to hear what
the Chahta
and
the Holy Spirit
had to say.

We are the Poet’s spoken word.
I will rejoice and be glad in it.

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Bibliography

Adrien Rouquette. MSS.1212. W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library. Box 207.007. Folder Number 7.
Dagmar-Renshaw Lebreton. Chahta-Ima, the Life of Adrien-Emmanuel Rouquette. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1947.

Pedagogy Series 5.1: EN 408 Creative Writing

By: Jessica Kidd, Associate Director of First-Year Writing and Clinical Professor of English

This is our fifth pedagogy series on Cool@Hoole. Check out previous pedagogy posts from series one, two, three, and four

jkiddEN 408 is a senior-level creative writing class, and each section of the course has a different focus. My particular section is focused around the theme of “Writer in a Wide World,” and the class has been devoted to exploring different sources of inspiration that help writers expand from their default modes of writing. We’ve visited the Sarah Moody art gallery and scientific collections. We’ve used chance operations, pop culture, articles on scientific discoveries, and ethnopoetics to inform and inspire our writing practice this semester.

The most involved project of the semester has been the archival research project using collections from the Hoole Special Collections library. Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow, preselected collections that my students were able to explore and then choose among. We chose to use preselected collections so that students had the challenge of working with personalities and backgrounds that they may not have otherwise chosen on their own. This challenge continued the class theme of working outside a writer’s normal modes and predilections.

Once students had the chance simply to enjoy immersing themselves in primary documents and the intimate view of history they afford, students started the work of crafting a creative piece inspired by their particular collections. Students had complete creative license to transform their initial material into poetry, fiction, or a hybrid form. They used the archival material as a springboard to engage with people and historical periods that might not have otherwise made it into their writing, but the end projects also reflected the interests and strengths of the individual authors. Resulting creative pieces ranged from historical fiction to science fiction to lyrical poetry.

While students were able to transform the archival material as they saw fit, they were asked to make deliberate decisions about their writing choices. Anachronism, fictionalization of historic figures, addition of speculative elements, etc. were all carefully considered moves made in the interest of artistry. Peer workshops gave students the chance to both explain their creative choices and to critique and help refine the choices of their peers.

I’m excited to be able to share a selection of the work that emerged from this archival research project.

Staff Favorites: Kevin Ray

By: Kevin Ray, Institutional Records Analyst

Cool@Hoole thought it’d be fun to feature our staff’s favorites from among our collections. After all, closed stacks collections mean that users rely on us to know our materials in and out so that we can share the best resources for their classes or research. Along the way, we’ve not only become experts on our holdings, but also found items that we are particularly drawn to ourselves.

So, just as bookstores have “staff favorites” or “staff recommendation” shelves, we’ll have occasional blog posts showing our best picks from Hoole. Read about April Burnett Ashley Bond, and Allyson Holliday‘s favorites in previous posts. 


Institutional Records Analyst Kevin Ray’s favorite item is the Ellsworth Hults diary (MSS 3735). Hults was on a Union warship at the Battle of Mobile Bay.  His diary provides his firsthand account of the battle and it includes hand drawn maps of the bay entrance showing points of importance to the battle.  He also has a drawing of the battle line of Union ships.

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Ellsworth Hults diary, cover

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Ellsworth Hults diary, one side of the map double page spread

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Map of the Battle of Mobile Bay

When this Cruel War is Over

By: Rachel K. Deale, History PhD student

CruelWar-StraightThroughout the nineteenth century music played a vital role in American life. Music could be heard everywhere from parlor pianos, to soldiers marching on the battlefield, to church congregations, and to slaves laboring in the fields. Although music played an important role in in the antebellum south, the war escalated the cultural significance music had on southern society. Music was no longer just a form of entertainment. Music became a social outlet for southern soldiers and civilians to express their innermost thoughts, feelings, and concerns during the conflict.

Once the southern states decided to secede from the Union in 1860 and 1861, they could no longer depend upon Northern presses to produce sheet music. As a result, southerners established their own publishing houses throughout the Confederacy. In 1860, brothers and former music teachers Armand Edward and Henry Blackmar established what would become the most prolific and successful music publishing company in New Orleans, Louisiana. Upon the Union capture of New Orleans in April 1862, Henry moved their business to Augusta, Georgia. John C. Schreiner began another prominent publishing house in 1860 called John C. Schreiner & Son in Macon, Georgia. In 1863, George Dunn quickly rose in notability when he joined the music publishing business by opening George Dunn & Company in Richmond, Virginia.

The W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library collection of Confederate sheet music published by Blackmar and Company, John C. Schreiner & Son, and George Dunn & Company illustrates four themes: sentimental, instrumental, religious, and nationalistic songs. Southerners used sheet music to help encourage a sense of Confederate nationalism throughout the war. Songs such as “Hurrah for Our Flag” celebrated the Confederate flag as their “standard of hope and of trust.” As Confederates struggled to produce a national anthem they decided to write new words to be sung to the tune of the French “Marseillaise” because the song elicited strong emotion, loyalty, and was not originally produced in the north. This initiative led to the publication of A.E. Blackmar’s popular “The Southern Marseillaise.” But as the war continued, Confederates grew dissatisfied with sharing their national anthem with France and were even more discouraged upon learning of the song’s northern popularity. In addition to promoting Confederate nationalism, sheet music also fostered a sense of state pride. Songs such as “The Alabama” eulogized the brave service of the south’s most successful commerce raider the CSS Alabama.

Although many soldiers enjoyed mother songs like “Rock Me to Sleep, Mother,” “Call Me Not Back from the Echoless Shore,” and “Mother is the Battle Over,” mother songs were really written for women on the home front. The songs romanticized soldiers by suggesting that their love for family and country took priority over their thoughts, conditions, and feelings on the eve of battle. This sentiment was encouraging to those at home because it presented their sons as strong and selfless individuals. “When This Cruel War is Over” became a popular song both at home and on the battlefield because it encouraged an end to the war and the soldiers’ return home. Instrumental songs were also well liked on the home front. Publishers increased sales of instrumental and dance music by naming the music after famous confederate generals even if the composition shared little to no relation to the general whose name was on the cover. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard appeared on more music than any other Civil War officer having numerous Quicksteps and Grand Marches named in his honor.

Music also was a morale booster and patriotic outlet for Confederate soldiers. “The Volunteer” or “It is My Country’s Call” became a popular song among soldiers that also helped encourage many to enlist early in the war. The songs sung in camp or while marching often referred to Confederate victories such as Manassas, Chancellorsville, and Chickamauga. While most soldiers learned songs by word of mouth, they also frequently requested their family to send them songbooks to enjoy on the battlefield. Receiving music from home provided soldiers with another way to connect with their families.

Want to learn more about the exhibition? Read our “Curating the Confederacy” five-part series, read the curatorial essay for Making Confederates, and/or come to our Curator’s talk today, April 21, 2015, at 3:30 PM in the A.S. Williams III reading room, level three, Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library. 

Making Confederates

By: Lindsay Rae Smith and Melissa Farah Young, History PhD students

PrintingPressThe formation of the Confederate States in early 1861 threw many southern printers and publishers into turmoil. While many southern intellectuals were pushing for an independent print culture prior to secession, independence and the threat of war made the creation of a new and unique body of Confederate literature a necessity. For many Confederates, the new nation was not only delineated by a separate territory, military, and government, but also by the unique character of its people. They believed that the South’s complete intellectual and cultural separation from the North was as important to the Confederacy’s survival as any military or political victory.

The documents published by southern printers between December 1860 and April 1865—known today as Confederate imprints—sought to legitimize southern nationhood in the eyes of foreign governments and create a culture that would strengthen a sense of unity among the general population. Confederate imprints are divided into two categories. Official publications include military and government documents such as the newly drafted Constitution, and official military decrees. These texts circulated information essential to the nation’s survival.

Unofficial documents, however, were published for the private sector. Many books and journals contained strong pro-Confederate sentiment. Popular novels were reprinted with prefaces centering them within the southern struggle. Textbooks played an important role in educating a new generation of Confederates for service to their country, and history books worked to cast them as the true inheritors of American democracy.

Since the Confederacy lacked a publishing infrastructure that could compete with the North, southern printers were keenly aware of their disadvantages. The Union blockade of southern ports made it difficult for publishers to obtain adequate supplies. To overcome paper shortages, printers advertised for donations of old rags, which could be pulped and boiled to make new paper. Pages from old journals, ledger books, and reams of unused wallpaper were also used in the printing and binding processes. Fig and pomegranate juice were substituted for ink, and seldom-used typesetting blocks were flipped to replace those that became worn. Perhaps the most challenging obstacle was the absence of trained printers and engravers. Presses and supplies could be smuggled or improvised, but skilled tradesmen often demonstrated their own passionate devotion to the Confederacy. They often enlisted in the Confederate Army even though they were exempt from military service.

Nevertheless, despite the challenges of wartime scarcity, southern publishers were dedicated to creating a distinct national literature. As a result of the nationalism inherent in many of the surviving texts, Confederate imprints continue to relay the beliefs and hopes of a people struggling to create a country in the midst of war.

Want to learn more about the exhibition? Read our “Curating the Confederacy” five-part series or come to our Curator’s talk tomorrow, April 21, 2015, at 3:30 PM in the A.S. Williams III reading room, level three, Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library.