We interrupt our regularly scheduled posting to give you the inside scoop on what you may have missed at Wilson Library last week.
The Southern Historical Collection had the privilege of hosting Edward E. Baptist as he presented findings from his new book The Half Has Never Been Told: The Making of American Capitalism. The book received media attention when The Economist published a now-redacted review criticizing his argument that the slave system in the pre-Civil War south is largely responsible for the capitalist system in America. Due to his book’s attention (and its increasingly positive reviews), we couldn’t wait to hear what evidence for this argument he found in our archives!
Dr. Baptist opened by explaining how he began trying to find accounts of slave survival and endurance during the migration of slaves deeper south to meet the growing demand for cotton. He explained that what he uncovered during the process was the systematic torture of slaves, to increase the amount of cotton that was picked. Not many personal accounts of slaves from that time period exist, what he was able to find though was ledgers, receipts, and bank notes revealing how slaves provided collateral on bank loans, how foreign investors provided the funds for new plantation owner’s to buy slaves, and how slave owner’s systematically exploited slaves to increase the amount of cotton they picked.
The ledgers he found here at the Southern Historical Collection reveal that the growing world demand for cotton drove plantation owners to push slaves into picking greater and greater amounts of cotton. The ledgers reveal the weight of cotton picked by a slave, at three points during a single day. They forced slaves to exceed their past weights through systematic torture; they would be beaten if they fell under their quota, and exceeding their past performance resulted in the owners setting a higher quota for them. This widespread system of torture made the slaves valuable, and was the only way to meet the economic demand for cotton at the time. During the lecture, Dr. Baptist expressed how troubling this is to the American conception of capitalism, which is often associated with freedom and equality.
This is only a small portion of what Dr. Baptist found in his book, and we highly recommend that you check it out! It expands on slavery as an economic system, while also illuminating the resilience of slaves from their own personal accounts.
See you on Wednesday, when you can expect to find another staff profile! We hope you’re getting to know us a little better. In the meantime, please feel free to let us know what you think of Edward E. Baptist’s book!
We are proud to announce the recipients of the 2009 Parker-Dooley Award, honoring exceptional undergraduate research papers based on sources in the Southern Historical Collection. Recipients receive a monetary award, and they will present their papers at a program hosted by the Southern Historical Collection on Friday, October 8, 2010.
- Winner: Rachel Shope, “All the Writing Ladies: Three Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century”
- Honorable Mention: Katherine Womble, “Myra Page Papers: Her Childhood and Self-Actualization (1897-1935)”
Examples of correspondence among some of the South’s best-known authors will be on display in the Southern Historical Collection on the fourth floor of UNC’s Wilson Library from Aug. 18 through Sept. 30.
The free, public exhibit, Author to Author: Literary Letters from the Southern Historical Collection, illuminates ties within the community of Southern writers during much of the twentieth century.
On view will be original letters by authors including Clyde Edgerton, Gail Godwin, Langston Hughes and Erskine Caldwell. Photographs from the Southern Historical Collection (SHC) will also be included.
The letters show how the authors built and maintained community by writing to one another, even as many of them moved far from the South. The correspondence also reveals the support and motivation—and sometimes friendly competition—that the writers provided to one another.
The exhibit also highlights the complex relationships and strong personalities of the figures involved. A 1932 “cease and desist” letter from William Faulkner instructs the Chapel Hill literary magazine Contempo not to list Faulkner as an associate publisher; a photograph from the same period shows Faulkner hugging Contempo‘s publisher, Milton “Ab” Abernethy.
Author to Author adds depth to the larger Wilson Library exhibit Four from between the Wars: Paul Green, Thomas Wolfe, Robert Ruark, and Walker Percy, on view in the Melba Remig Saltarelli Exhibit Room on the third floor of Wilson Library through Sept. 30.
Both exhibits complement the North Carolina Literary Festival, hosted by the Library on the UNC campus Sept. 10-13.
Author to Author:
Literary Letters from the Southern Historical Collection
Fourth floor of Wilson Library
Aug. 18-Sept. 30, 2009
Free and open to the public
Exhibit information: Biff Hollingsworth, (919) 962-1345
In conjunction with the North Carolina Literary Festival, Sept. 10-13, 2009
The lives and legacies of four writers who attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between the two world wars, will be the subject of an exhibit July 16 through Sept. 30 at UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library.
The free, public exhibit, Four from between the Wars: Paul Green, Thomas Wolfe, Robert Ruark, and Walker Percy, will be on view in the Melba Remig Saltarelli Room on the third floor of Wilson Library.
Approximately 75 historic photographs, rare printed items, and original documents illustrate the development of these students into some of the South’s best-known writers of the 20th century. The exhibit will also explore their literary circles and work of their protégés.
Among the items to be displayed is a copy of Wolfe’s autobiographical novel Look Homeward, Angel that he inscribed for his mother in 1929, and first editions of Wolfe’s novels. More fanciful items include a Thomas Wolfe T-shirt and a commemorative postage stamp.
First editions of the works of Ruark, a journalist and novelist, are on exhibit, along with cartoons he drew for campus publications as a student.
Green, a dramatist, teacher, and humanitarian, is represented with letters from fellow writers and collaborators including Richard Wright, Betty Smith, and Orson Welles. The exhibit also includes images and artifacts relating to the production of Green’s outdoor drama The Lost Colony (1937), which is still performed each summer on Roanoke Island, near North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
“It was during the interwar period that UNC became a modern research university,” said Eileen McGrath, assistant curator of the North Carolina Collection and one of the exhibit organizers.
“These authors came to the University as young men, novice writers,” McGrath said. “Their experiences here enabled them to develop their understanding of themselves and the world.”
Four of Wilson’s special collections— the North Carolina Collection, the Rare Book Collection, the Southern Historical Collection and University Archives— are jointly sponsoring this exhibit as a contribution to the 2009 North Carolina Literary Festival. The biennial festival will take place on the University campus Sept. 10-13.
“The festival focuses on contemporary writers,” said Biff Hollingsworth, collecting and public programming archivist for the Southern Historical Collection. “We wanted to offer a space for people to come and reflect on the historical aspect of Southern writing.”
Four from between the Wars:
Paul Green, Thomas Wolfe, Robert Ruark, and Walker Percy
Melba Remig Saltarelli Exhibit Room, Wilson Library
July 16-Sept. 30, 2009
Free and open to the public
Exhibit information: email@example.com, (919) 962-1143
In conjunction with the North Carolina Literary Festival, Sept. 10-13, 2009
We hope you enjoyed the video of the lecture from Nancy Carter Crump that we posted a couple of days ago. Today we are pleased to share with you this video of “Linthead Stomp,” a lecture given by Patrick Huber on March 30, 2009 at Wilson Library, as part of the Southern Historical Collection Book Series.
[Note: Due to YouTube’s file size limitations, the lecture is divided into seven parts. The video embedded here is included as a “playlist.” You can toggle through the seven parts individually, or simply hit play and let the seven parts run through as a whole.]
Today we share with you video of a lecture, “Hearthside Cooking,” given by Nancy Carter Crump on March 24, 2009 at Wilson Library, as part of the Southern Historical Collection Book Series. For those who were not able to attend the presentation, we hope this gives you an opportunity to enjoy the talk. For those of you who did hear Ms. Crump speak, we hope you’ll enjoy it all over again.
[Note: Due to YouTube’s file size limitations, the lecture is divided into six parts. The video embedded here is included as a “playlist.” You can toggle through the six parts individually, or simply hit play and let the six parts run through as a whole.]
[Over the next few weeks, the Southern Historical Collection will be sponsoring a series of booktalks (formally titled, “The Southern Historical Collection Book Series”). The book series will feature authors of recently-published books that are based on research done in the Wilson Special Collections Library. Topics of the presentations include: hearthside cooking, hillbilly music, and proslavery Christianity. For more information about these three events, please see our news release on the main library website.]
As a teaser for the first booktalk, a presentation by Nancy Carter Crump, author of Hearthside Cooking: Early American Southern Cuisine Updated for Today’s Hearth and Cookstove (UNC Press, 2nd edition, 2008), we would like to share a wonderful foodways-related item from the holdings of the Southern Historical Collection. The image shown at right is a page from an early-19th-century volume called “Recipes in the Culinary Art, Together with Hints on Housewifery &c.,” compiled by Launcelot Minor Blackford in 1852.
Launcelot Minor Blackford (1837-1914) of Virginia was a school teacher who served as a lieutenant in the C.S.A. 24th Virginia Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. In 1870 he became the principal of Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va. Blackford was fifteen years old when he wrote this volume, which contains cooking and household recipes along with poems and advice. His advice on how “To make good Children” is as follows: “Whip them once every day; and give them plenty to eat. (One who has seen, and knows).”
This recipe book is a part of the Blackford Family Papers (SHC collection #1912).
I’m Southern and I’m talking about food, which means I am obligated to mention my grandmother! Several years ago, before she passed away, my grandmother wrote down and compiled a notebook of her best recipes. She called the collection, “Vera’s Vexing Victuals.” One year for Christmas, each of her grandchildren received a copy of this notebook. I still cherish my copy. Who knows? It might even end up in an archive someday.
All this leads me to this simple question: if you could preserve one family recipe for eternity, what would it be? Without question, I would preserve my grandmother’s recipe for chocolate silk pie.
Susie Marshall Sharp (1907-1996) of Reidsville, N.C., attorney and jurist, was elected chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court in 1974, becoming the first woman elected chief justice of a state supreme court in the United States. A graduate of the North Carolina College for Women and the University of North Carolina School of Law, Sharp began the practice of law in Reidsville in 1929. She served as Reidsville city attorney, 1939-1949; North Carolina superior court judge until 1962; and as supreme court justice, 1962-1979.
Sharp’s family background, her career as an attorney, judge and politician, and her previously unexamined private life are recounted in a new book by Anna Hayes, Without Precedent: The Life of Susie Marshall Sharp.
Published by the University of North Carolina Press, the book will be launched Sept. 11, in Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The free public program will be at 5:45 p.m. in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room. For program information, contact Liza Terll (919-962-4207). A full event notice is available from the main UNC Library website.
An American traveler in the 1850s journeyed the globe not by plane, but by boat and train, without telephone, radio receiver, or photo identification. A 15.5-by-10.5-inch passport from 1855 reads “nose — small, chin — large, hair — gray,” among other physical descriptions. The passport belonged to William Elliott and his daughters, who traveled to Paris before photography was in common use.
That passport, along with letters, photographs, maps, diaries, account books, and menus spanning the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, are part of Southerners Abroad: A Look at Southerners’ Travels Around the World. The exhibit opened in Wilson Library’s Southern Historical Collection (SHC) August 8, and will run through October 15, 2008.
Drawing on the SHC’s unique holdings, Southerners Abroad explores the wide variety of Southerners’ experiences abroad, shifting the traditional focus of the SHC away from the geographical southeastern United States to the world at large.
“I personally want people to know the Southern Historical Collection has more than they would think,” said UNC junior and student assistant Kelli Landing. Landing worked on the exhibit with Barbara Ilie, research and instructional services assistant; Robin Davies Chen, assistant manuscripts reference librarian; and Matt Turi, manuscripts reference librarian.
Landing’s favorite exhibit material comes from the Turner sisters, North Carolinians who were working and studying abroad in the 1930s and 1940s – when passports did include photographs. “I love that as women they traveled by themselves. That’s unusual,” Landing said.
One of the Turner sisters’ passports is displayed in the exhibit and is a window on gender relations at a time when most travelers were men. The passport contains a space for writing one’s name, and beneath it, blank spaces following the phrases “accompanied by wife” and “minor children.” These spaces are filled with X’s, emphasizing her position as a woman traveling without male accompaniment.
Other items in the exhibit include colorful menus offering hearts of lettuce and brains “as you like them” for $1.50; hand-tinted photographs given to American missionary to Japan, John C. Calhoun Newton; and letters describing hyenas and lions on the camp of Egyptian army engineer Samuel Henry Lockett.
“Traveling back then-in the nineteenth century-there were many things to fear,” said Barbara Ilie. “I encountered someone who feared yellow fever. Others had issues with loneliness. I had someone waiting literally for the monthly mail boat. The technology difference is astounding.”
Southerners Abroad is free and open to the public. The exhibit is on view in the Southern Historical Collection on the fourth floor of Wilson Library on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill. The Southern Historical Collection is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. For exhibit information, contact Matt Turi, 919-962-1345.