About Special Collections Staff

Swem Library’s Special Collections Research Center is a learning lab for students, much like a science lab, except the raw materials we offer for your experimentation and observation are original manuscripts, photographs, rare books, sheet music, maps, and other unique or rare treasures documenting humanity’s history and culture.

“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”

Everyone knows these famous lines even if the rest of the poems escapes them. “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” more popularly known as The Night before Christmas, was written in 1823 by Clement C. Moore (1779-1863) and is a staple in many families’ holiday traditions. But what accounts for the poem’s enduring popularity?

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100 Years of Student History

If you’re a senior at the College, you may know the Colonial Echo through their emails reminding you to get your portrait taken. If you’re an underclassman, perhaps you’ve seen the Colonial Echo up for grabs around campus at the end of the Spring semester. For those still unfamiliar, the Colonial Echo is William & Mary’s student yearbook; it’s a record of the events throughout the year and the students who matriculated. The Colonial Echo was first published in 1899, and has been published every year since then except for 1900 and 1904. That means there have been over 100 editions of the yearbook, and Special Collections has a copy (or multiples) of every edition. While physical copies are available, you don’t have to actually come into Special Collections to view the Colonial Echo – the 1899-1995 yearbooks have been digitized. To give you a glimpse into W&M’s history, we pulled the 1917 Colonial Echo. Exactly 100 years from the current academic year, this yearbook is a great example of what has – and has not – changed on campus since its publication.

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Four Math Problems and a Question

(Fig. 1) Question 32: “In the rectangle Triangle ABC is given the base AB=9 and the difference of the other sides that is the segment BD=3. Required the sides AC and BC severaly[sic].” Question 33: “In the Rectangle Triangle ABC is given the base AB=5 and the sum of the other sides AC+BC=25. Required the sides AC·BC ¬¬¬severaly[sic].” The Cabell Family Papers, Series 2, Box 11, Msv#15.

(Fig. 1) Question 32: “In the rectangle Triangle ABC is given the base AB=9 and the difference of the other sides that is the segment BD=3. Required the sides AC and BC severaly[sic].” Question 33: “In the Rectangle Triangle ABC is given the base AB=5 and the sum of the other sides AC+BC=25. Required the sides AC·BC ¬¬¬severaly[sic].”
The Cabell Family Papers, Series 2, Box 11, Msv#15.

Interspersed among the survey notes of Dr. William Cabell (1699-1774) within the Cabell Family Papers, 1693-1913, are mathematical problems ranging from standard arithmetic to algebraic equations. The majority of the inscriptions are in an unknown hand, possibly one of Dr. Cabell’s children, but we cannot be certain.

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