The United States changed on November 22. The president’s promise was lost and the coverage of the event by television affected all who watched with immediacy and intimacy. The American people experienced the tragedy together.
The College of William & Mary’s Flat Hat was usually published each Friday during the academic year. On November 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was shot, the paper (printed just prior to that date) covered the election of twenty-one students to the Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, a proposed $5 social fee, the opening of bidding for the construction of Swem Library, the upcoming basketball season and the candidacy of Barry Goldwater for the Republican nomination for president.
The Caley Family Papers in Swem Library’s Special Collections consist of letters and diaries spanning almost seventy years and three generations of Caley female descendants. From the 1940s through the 1960s , all three generations of women lived, with no male presence, under one roof or within close distance of one another in Sierra Madre, California. The Caleys were devoutly religious, middle class white women who maintained extensive correspondence with numerous friends and family members. It appears as though none of them had employment outside the home during the last twenty to thirty years of life. They seem to have supported themselves with rental income and stock dividends.
A popular means of documenting personal interests and life events, the practice of scrapbooking dates back centuries. In contrast to the modern practice of pasting family photographs and vacation mementos onto brightly colored paper, early scrapbooks were often compilations of newspaper clippings, artwork, hand-copied quotes, and letters. In addition to being aesthetically interesting, old scrapbooks provide unique insight on the lives of their creators. What did an individual decide was worthy to keep? How does ephemera reflect personal, local, and national events?
Thanks to the generosity of Bruce and Suzie Kovner, Swem Library has received a copy of the Pennyroyal Caxton Bible. This version of the King James Bible was created by Barry Moser, the noted printmaker and book illustrator, who spent three years designing and setting the type and carving the engravings.
Like many special collections at universities across the country, the Special Collections Research Center at Swem Library is dedicated to supporting the research mission of the College, but just as important is its role in enhancing the College’s commitment to excellence in undergraduate teaching. This year, in addition to my other tasks, I have had a few chances to assist the staff of the Special Collections Research Center with a number of outreach events aimed at College undergraduates.
Before starting work at the Special Collections Research Center, I assumed archives were repositories of serious things relating to very serious matters. There are most certainly serious documents which serve very important purposes, but there are just so many more things housed in the archives here. Many of these things have come to my attention through work on exhibits or in talking to members of the staff. There is an entire collection of various editions of The Night Before Christmas. There is the Chapin-Horowitz Collection which contains over 10,000 books in a number of different languages about dogs. Some of these books come from the sixteenth century. There are even models of the choir used to determine standing arrangements for concerts and sports memorabilia from William and Mary athletic events. All these collections are a far cry from my previous, narrow view of what might be found in the archives.