The Heritage Collection

Weary Blues jacket
An exhibition of selections from the Chapin Library’s Heritage Collection of black literature and culture will be on view in the Chapin Gallery (Sawyer 406) from July 27 to September 22, 2015. An opening reception will be held in the Gallery on Tuesday, July 28, from 3:00 to 4:30 pm.

Born in the Netherlands in 1931, Paul Breman was led from a love of blues music to a study of black poetry. He met and corresponded with important figures such as Langston Hughes, William Waring Cuney, and W.E.B. Du Bois, he translated black poetry (into Dutch) and edited anthologies, and he published the Heritage Series of Black Poetry between 1962 and 1975. In the process, he formed a significant collection of books, pamphlets, broadsides, ephemera, and recordings, which came to the Chapin Library in 2012 through the generosity of the collector’s family, the efforts of Robert Volz, former Custodian of the Chapin Library, and the advice of Prof. Darra Goldstein, a friend of Paul Breman’s widow, Jill Norman.

The Heritage Collection is available for use in the Archives/Chapin reading room (Sawyer 441). Its printed items are entered in the Williams online catalog FRANCIS under the local call number “Heritage”. Finding aids for manuscripts and other materials in the collection are being prepared for posting on the Chapin Library website. – WGH

Shown is the dust-jacket for The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes, with art by Miguel Covarrubias.

Declaring Independence

British Reply2For the twenty-ninth consecutive year on the 4th of July, actors from the Williamstown Theatre Festival will read the Declaration of Independence, the British replies of September and October 1776, and the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, in conjunction with a display of these and other founding documents of the United States from the collection of the Chapin Library. Actors Eric Bogosian and Jessica Hecht, appearing in the WTF production of Daniel Goldfarb’s Legacy, and Daniel Sharman and Mary Wiseman, appearing in William Inge’s Off the Main Road, will perform beginning at 1:30 p.m. from the south steps of Stetson Hall (Sawyer Library, 26 Hopkins Hall Drive). In the event of rain, the reading will be held in the atrium of Sawyer Library. Original copies of the documents will be on view on July 4th in the Chapin Gallery (Sawyer Room 406) from noon to 1:00 p.m. and from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Wayne Hammond, Interim Custodian of the Chapin Library, will be on hand to answer questions and put the documents in context. The reading and display are free and open to the public.

Also currently on view in the Chapin Library/College Archives galleries are Chapin Library 1915-2015, commemorating one hundred years since Alfred Clark Chapin (Williams Class of 1869) conceived of a library of rare books and manuscripts for his alma mater; Scholarship and Statesmanship: James Abram Garfield, from the collections of the Williams College Archives; and the Audubon Birds of America “double elephant” folio. – WGH

Shown is the declaration of 19 September 1776 by the King’s Commissioners for Restoring Peace, in reply to the colonists’ declaration of independence from Great Britain. Gift of J. Brooks Hoffman, M.D., Class of 1940.

The War between the States

Sutler's tent stereoThe surrender by General Robert E. Lee of his Army of Northern Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant following the Battle of Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865 – one hundred fifty years ago this month – is often celebrated as the end of the American Civil War. In fact, other Confederate forces continued to fight for months thereafter, and tens of thousands of Union soldiers proceeded to occupy the South. President Andrew Johnson did not declare a formal end to the War between the States until August 20, 1866.

The Chapin Library has significant resources concerning the Civil War. These include printed books and broadsides, prints and maps, newspapers, and manuscript letters written from both the North and the South. Also available in the Chapin are numerous stereographs from 1861 to 1865, photographs which when viewed with a special device create a three-dimensional image. Six of these stereo views are currently on display in the window of the Archives–Chapin reading room, Sawyer Library Room 441. One of the most interesting is the view shown here, of a Union army sutler, or storekeeper. The description printed on the reverse of the card reads:

The Sutler or army storekeeper was the fellow who got the most of the soldier’s pay. Sardines, canned peaches, ginger cakes, condensed milk, plug tobacco, etc., etc., at extremely high prices, found ready sale on pay day and for the few days thereafter that the money lasted, but with condensed milk at a dollar per can, and other things in proportion, thirteen dollars per month did not prove sufficient to keep a fellow in cash more than one or two days per month. This is the tent of Johnson, the sutler of the 2d Division, 9th Corps.

Stereo views were a popular form of entertainment during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and remain very collectible. Many firms produced or published them: here the publisher was the War Photograph & Exhibition Company of Hartford, Connecticut (typically, the photographer is not identified). This particular card was made, as explained on its reverse, more than a quarter century after the end of the Civil War, when the Hartford firm felt able to justify higher prices due to the increasing difficulty of printing from deteriorating negatives made in the field some three decades earlier.

Our thanks go to Williamstown photographer Nicholas Whitman for suggesting this display, drawn from the extensive collection of stereo views given to the Chapin Library by Robert P. Fordyce, Class of 1956. – WGH

Exhibit Featuring the Life and Legacy of James A. Garfield

Scholarship and Statesmanship: James Abram Garfield

James Abram Garfield

James Abram Garfield

The Williams College Archives and Special Collections is hosting an exhibit April-August 2015 that details the life and legacy of Williams Alum, James Abram Garfield (Class of 1856). The exhibit will feature highlights from his time as a student at Williams, service in the military during the Civil War, his campaign and service as U.S. President, political life, and his tragic assassination and death.

The title of the exhibit was inspired by a letter that former Williams College President and trusted friend, Mark Hopkins, wrote to James Garfield shortly after he had been elected U.S. President. In his congratulatory letter, Hopkins stated “this honor is the result of no accident, but of achievement by steady work in scholarship and statesmanship so that when the occasion called, the man was there.”

The exhibit is made possible by the numerous donations the College Archives has received over the years (mostly from Williams Alumni) of Garfield memorabilia and documents.

The exhibit is located in the Schow Gallery on the fourth floor of Sawyer Library. We hope you can stop by and see some of the interesting stories and artifacts we’ve chosen for the exhibit. Please send any questions to

Scholar, Printer, Publisher

Vergil 1501 AldusTo commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of the great humanist printer Aldus Manutius, the Chapin Library, in conjunction with Williams Classics professor Edan Dekel, has mounted the exhibition Aldus Manutius: Scholar, Printer, Publisher: A Quincentenary Celebration. This will be on view in the Chapin Gallery (Sawyer Room 406) and the adjacent Archives/Chapin Instruction Gallery through April 24th.

Aldus (as he is familiarly called) was the leading publisher in Renaissance Venice, and his Aldine Press was responsible for issuing the first printed editions of nearly every major classical Greek author. Among his innovations were the development of italic type, the introduction of inexpensive, small-format editions of Greek and Latin authors that could be carried in one’s pocket, and the application of scholarly standards to the editing of the texts Aldus published.

Above all, Aldus strove to make the great works of classical literature, as well as important Italian ones, widely available to readers in the Renaissance. In that respect, he is perhaps the person most responsible for the spread of Greek learning in the sixteenth century and beyond, and he stands at the head of a tradition that established classical texts as one of the foundations of the liberal arts education as we know it to this day. – WGH

Shown is the opening of Vergil’s Aeneid in the “pocket” edition published by Aldus in 1501. A complementary article by Julia Menemo may be read here.

Greetings from the new College Archivist

Katie_Nash13As I enter my third week as the new College Archivist and Special Collections Librarian, I’d like to take a moment and introduce myself as well as reflect on my journey at Williams College thus far. Prior to arriving at Williams, I was the Special Collections Librarian and Archivist at Elon University where I had worked since 2005. In my position at Elon, I was responsible for building the collections, services, and outreach from the ground up. I was a “lone-arranger” for several years, but when I left Elon I was supervising three full-time staff and the Archives and Special Collections was on the map for the entire Elon community.

My first day at Williams was October 6 and I am 100% sure that I have landed in a good place. Everyone I’ve met so far has been welcoming, friendly, supportive, and most importantly loves working at Williams College. I have experienced the nurturing and intellectual spirit of the College in almost every situation–something many newbies at other institutions probably don’t experience so early on.

I had the opportunity to be part of a Williams Alumni event on October 10 in which the Mike Reily Room was dedicated in the new Weston Field House. This event brought together members of the Williams Class of 1964, friends and family of Mike Reily, as well as others from the Williams community.  The College Archives has a scrapbook (created by Reily’s mother) all about Mike Reily’s high school days at Woodberry Forest and his college days at Williams. I was responsible for bringing the scrapbook to the event so attendees could view the amazing item first-hand. The reaction was simply stunning–everyone was impressed not only with how carefully the scrapbook was originally put together, but also how well it has been preserved by the College Archives. During the events that evening, it became clear to me very quickly what a special place Williams College is. The dedication to faculty, students, staff, research, alumni, and the community is remarkable.

In the coming weeks, months, and years I have no doubt I will continue to meet amazing people, experience and actively participate in the nurturing and intellectual climate, and grow in leaps and bounds both professionally and personally. I can’t think of a better place to do this than Williams College!

Visit the College Archives online, and feel free to make an appointment and we can discuss your research needs, support for library instruction, and any project you may be working on.


The Laws of Williams College, published 1795 on display in Sawyer Library

The Laws of Williams College, published 1795, is on display for a limited time in conjunction with exhibit The Libraries of Williams. Located in the level three entrance directly across from the circulation desk, the exhibit showcases the original printing of the Laws, images from old Sawyer Library, images from Stetson Library, and an image of the College’s first dedicated library space in Lawrence Hall.

Libraries of Williams College

One of the largest sections of the College’s first printing of its’ laws pertains to the Library and use of library materials. Books were not allowed to be removed from the Library without permission from the College Librarian. No more than three books could be charged out at one time, and it was illegal to take a book out of town.

The exhibit is on view during regular Sawyer Library hours. To protect the fragile condition of The Laws of Williams College, the book will be on display for Convocation weekend until September 22.

LawrenceHall Photo002





In support of the Book Unbound initiative, Professor Edan Dekel and College Archives co-curated an exhibit highlighting the first library collection of Williams, now known as the 1794 Collection. Purchased by the first Williams President, Ebenezer Fitch, the catalogue lists a diverse assortment of over 360 volumes, divided into such categories as: arts and sciences, voyages and travels, divinity and ecclesiastical history, history, languages, and poetry. The exhibit is now on view in the Archives/ Chapin instruction gallery on the 4th floor of Sawyer Library. Archives/ Chapin galleries are open Monday- Friday, 10am-5pm. On September 20th, the galleries are open from 1pm-6pm.


A Narnia Adventure

Lucy and Susan with AslanIn conjunction with First Days and its theme of Adventure, the Chapin Library is displaying for the first week of September, in the new Archives/Chapin Instruction Gallery, a selection of original art by Pauline Baynes for the 1991 deluxe edition of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

These gouache drawings are part of the Library’s Pauline Baynes Archive, acquired in 2009. One, reproduced on the invitation to this year’s September 3rd open house, depicts spring coming to the land of Narnia after the return of Aslan.

The Archives/Chapin Instruction Gallery is located on the 4th floor of Sawyer Library, one of three galleries administered by the Chapin Library and College Archives. Other works from the Baynes collection, which includes the artist’s reference library and some three thousand individual pieces of art, may be seen by appointment in the Archives/Chapin Reading Room (Sawyer Room 441). – WGH

Art by Pauline Baynes, courtesy of the Williams College Oxford Programme, copyright © by C.S. Lewis Pte.

“A is for Archival Artifacts” on Display in Archives/Chapin Galleries!


The new Sawyer Library complex is open. And, this means Archives and Special Collections and The Chapin Library’s shared reading room and gallery spaces are available for research by appointment and perusing.  On display in Archives/Chapin Schow connector gallery is the Archives’ exhibit  “A is for Archival Artifacts.” Showcasing everything from 19th century barbells, black and white photographic prints from the 1969 Hopkins Hall occupation for the creation of an Afro-American Studies department, and Ephraim Williams’ leather wallet circa 1750, the exhibit features material culture and unique ephemera from Williams’ diverse histories.

Archives/Chapin Summer 2014 hours: 10–12, 1–4:30