Gorgas hosts Confederate publication exhibitBy Jeremy Connor | 06/17/2015 12:19am
Melissa Young and Lindsay Smith co-curated the current exhibit in the A.S.Williams III Americana Collection, featuring Confederate books and journals. Photo courtesy of Muzel Chen
Melissa Young and Lindsay Smith, Ph.D., students at the University, co-curated the current exhibition in Williams. It features imprints that were created between 1860 and 1865 in the Confederate States of America. After receiving the broad topic of the imprints, Young and Smith chose to focus primarily on studying elements of Confederate nationalism.
“People find it easier to understand the physical creation of the Confederacy, which began with various states’ secession and their joint military action, than the nationalistic feelings that would have been vital to its longevity if the South had won the war,” Young said. “Southern people needed to be connected to each other and their new nation so they would be motivated to make daily sacrifices to ensure its survival.”
Though Young was already very familiar with Confederate history, she said the biggest surprise during this project was discovering the beauty of some of the pieces.
“Some of the books and journals have engraved covers, which are really cool. There is a piece that contains hand-painted illustrations of Confederate uniforms that is just amazing, and the wallpaper books are unbelievably beautiful,” Young said.
Putting together an exhibition like this one requires a large amount of collaboration. Though Smith and Young did the curating, they said they wanted to ensure that everyone involved got credit. Jennifer Cabanero and Nancy DuPree, who work with the Williams Collection, and Amy Chen, a CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow in the Division of Special Collections when they were working together, were instrumental in creating the exhibit.
Chen asked another doctoral candidate, Katie Deale, to create a Confederate imprints exhibit for the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, located on the second floor of Mary Harmon Bryant Hall. Due to her interest in music, Deale chose to focus on sheet music of the Confederate States. She said a very difficult part in creating the exhibit was choosing what to display.
“There were many pieces of sheet music that I could have displayed but did not have the space to do so,” Deale said.
Deale said that curating this exhibit was an enjoyable change of topic.
“Most all of my sources for my dissertation are government documents, governors’ papers, newspapers, diaries and political correspondence. While most of the sheet music included in my exhibit is very political, examining cultural sources was a pleasant departure,” Deale said.
Christopher Sawula, the director of Research and Academic Programs for the Williams Collection, said the original imprints were once on display, but for preservation purposes were replaced with high-quality facsimiles.
“Because of a lack of resources, the Confederacy had very poor quality printing, so a lot of these imprints we don’t want sitting out all of the time,” Sawula said.
The original imprints are still available for viewing to the public. To request an imprint contact a librarian in the Williams or Hoole exhibits with the call number. These exhibits will be on display for public viewing until mid-October.