In December 2016, the Special Collections Research Center acquired three letters that join an existing collection of John Marshall Papers (Mss. 39.1 M34). Two of the letters were written and signed by John Marshall and the third is from George Washington’s nephew, Bushrod Washington, to Tobias Lear at Mount Vernon. The letters document John Marshall’s writing of the biography of George Washington, of which the SCRC has a first edition copy. Recent scholarship suggests that writing the biography was an honor for which Tobias Lear, in particular, passionately vied and one that ultimately eluded him (see Ray Brighton, The Checkered Career of Tobias Lear).
Institutional knowledge is an awesome thing and something that is often taken for granted and/or overlooked. I recently learned a cool story surrounding one of the rare books housed in Special Collections, thanks to former Dean of W&M Libraries, Nancy Marshall.
What do Indiana Jones and the Content Services Mosaic Intern have in common? We both spend our days searching for historical treasure: in my case that involves paging through old texts—often plain or even dirty in appearance—researching their autographs and marginalia, and mining valuable snippets of the lives of people important to both our local and national history. Occasionally, I do have the opportunity to handle a book whose cover reflects its treasure inside, like the Canon Missae ad Usum Episcorum, ac Praelatorum Solemniter, vel Private Celebrantium (1755), donated by Ralph H. Wark and Patrick Hayes.
With a goal of not only collecting and preserving texts and objects for future generations, the Special Collections Research Center is devoted to acquiring books and artifacts that can benefit instruction at William & Mary. Chinese scrolls, facsimiles of medieval texts, and a replica of Dead Sea scrolls are just a few examples of items in the SCRC that faculty have frequently used in their teaching. The SCRC recently acquired copies of two important historical texts, and Professor Jeremy Pope provides insight on how exciting and useful these works are for both faculty and student use: Continue reading
From the warm and welcoming reading room to the frigid ground floor stacks, the Special Collections Research Center offers a wealth of historical resources, right at the heart of campus. I am grateful to have the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes look at the SCRC and explore many of its treasures this summer through Swem Library’s Mosaic Internship Program.