Breaking in the Archives

Wild Style, 1983Devoted to the history of Virginia’s hip-hop culture, the William & Mary Hip-Hop Collection has documented shared cultural origins with the Bronx and greater New York City. As early as 1979, many of Virginia’s hip-hop pioneers were listening to the earliest commercial rap releases from New York City on Virginia radio stations, most prominently WRAP-AM broadcasting from Norfolk. By the mid-1980s, the release of Hollywood films such as Wild Style and Beat Street featuring hip-hop cultural elements propelled Virginia’s pioneers to begin forming dance crews, similar to the b-boys and b-girls that began dancing at parties throughout the Bronx in the early 1970s.

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Fostering Hope and Community in an Internment Camp

December 24, 1942 entry, Hilda Haworth Diary, Mss. Acc. 2011.726On Friday, the 25th of September, 1942, Hilda Haworth, her husband Walter, and many others left the English Channel island Guernsey for Germany. The diary details life in the camp for a little over a year, and was immensely fascinating to read through. While I knew that the Nazis had set up internment camps for various populations during the war, I had never encountered the story of the Guernsey, which is located off the coast of Normandy, France and was surprised to find that the Germans actually brought many Guernsey residents to camps in Germany.

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A Treasure Trove of the Colonial, Revolutionary, and Early National Periods

Portrait of St. George Tucker, (1752-1827)Currently, the Tucker-Coleman Papers are undergoing a serious overhaul. Groups of boxes are being subdivided into intuitive series within the collection, and the finding aids for each are going digital, making the Tucker Coleman Papers more accessible to researchers than ever.

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Diary of an Ocean Voyage to Latin America

Sketch of San Jose, Guatemala, 17 Aug. 1934. Marie Katherine and Oliver E. Seegelken Papers, 1918-1943 (Mss. Acc. 2014.083)In the period “between the wars,” Marie Seegelken and her husband Oliver embarked on a cruise from Los Angeles to Cristobal, Panama. The couple left Los Angeles on August 7, 1934 after dining the night before at the California Yacht Club. The passengers started their voyage on the SS Santa Catalina but were transferred to the SS Santa Elena for the voyage home where they arrived on September 4. Both ships were part of the W. R. Grace Company line.

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Left in the Lurch

Excerpt of Letter, Asher Marx, New York, New York to Moses Myers, Norfolk, Virginia, 1819 June 14In 1819 Asher Marx (no relation to Groucho) wrote a letter to Moses Myers of Norfolk, Virginia complaining about his money problems, saying that his credit would have been sufficient to support his family but Wilson & Cunningham “left me in the Lurch” for $40,000.  Did they really use that expression in the early 19th century?  Was Asher the one who coined the phrase?  Does the Special Collections Archive have an important piece of etymological history?

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Centering animals in archival research

"Poodle" in Vier und zwanzig Abbildungen verschiedener Hunde by Magnus Brasch. Nürnberg, in der Raspischen Buchhandlung, 1789. Rare Book N7660 .B7 Chapin-HorowitzTracing the histories of oppressed groups is notoriously difficult as their members may have been prevented from attaining educational or material resources that would allow them to keep records of their experiences. Or their existence may have been deemed so inconsequential that they were simply excluded from or misrepresented by larger data sources like census records, upon which researchers often rely. Consider the especially elusive nature of historical records that detail the lived experiences of nonhuman animals in a society where they are largely regarded as objects, property, or pests.

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K.O.B. Ribbon Society

K.O.B. Group Photo, circa 1931This image of female students of the K.O.B. ribbon society surrounding the Botetourt Statue appeared in the 1931 Colonial Echo yearbook. Shortly after William & Mary became a co-ed in 1918, “a certain group of girls who found each other’s company congenial, decided to form a ribbon society.” As a precursor to the current sorority system, selected William & Mary female students formed the G.G.G. club and others the K.O.B. club. K.O.B. members “wore a yellow ribbon on their wrists once each month and on special occasions” as a mark of their membership in the ribbon society.

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Beautiful Penmanship

Chart, Wilson Miles Cary Genealogical Notebook, circa 1900-1914, Mss. MsV Ad2One of the most beautifully executed manuscript volumes in the Special Collections Research Center is a genealogy notebook compiled by Wilson Miles Cary (1838-1914). Cary, the grandnephew of Thomas Jefferson, was born in Harford County, Md. and later lived in Baltimore, Md. where he served as a court clerk and also pursued his genealogy interest.

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