Expressions of Remembrance: April 16th 10th anniversary exhibits

As part of Virginia Tech’s annual observance of its Day of Remembrance, condolence items and artifacts received by the university in the days that followed April 16, 2007, will be displayed at several locations across campus. The displays are among several “Expressions of Remembrance” that will be located in Newman Library, Squires Student Center, Moss Arts Center, and Holtzman Alumni Center; they are free and open to the public.

Each year, in observance of the Day of Remembrance, University Libraries at Virginia Tech displays materials from the April 16 Condolence Archives and invites the community to reflect and remember.

Below is a list and photos of exhibits all around campus. For more on each, please see the press release and the We Remember website.

Sending You All Our Love

The exhibit will include materials received from other colleges and universities, as well as some of the large white boards and signs created on the Drillfield the week of April 16, 2007. Additional items include flags, t-shirts, and condolence books, and a quilt from the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance at State University of New York College at New Paltz. The exhibit title came from one of the quilt squares, each of which was made by a SUNY student.

This display can be seen April 8-16 in the Old Dominion Ball Room in Squires Student Center.

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Remembering Those Lost

Artifacts include flags flown over the Statue of Liberty and at Tikrit Air Academy in Iraq by soldiers during Operation Iraqi Freedom; Farham Aboussali’s painting Ceremonial Eternity; Carol Davis’ 32 hand-decorated eggs; Marilyn Rogge’s painting of a child releasing a red balloon; a KoKeshi Doll from the U.S. Navy Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, Japan; and some of the paper cranes received.

This display will be held April 8-16 at Newman Library Special Collections (first floor). Part of the exhibit is in the windows of Special Collections onto the cafe, open during library hours. A second portion of the exhibit is inside Special Collections, open Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm.

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A Community of Learners, a Legacy of Achievement

A selection of books will be displayed to honor of the students and faculty lost on April 16, 2007.

This display will be held April 8-16 at Newman Library Learning Commons.

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Communities of Caring

A digital exhibit featuring community expressions of support from the April 16 Condolence Archives.

This display is available online at http://digitalsc.lib.vt.edu/exhibits/show/april16/introduction.

Communities of Caring April 16th 2017 digital exhibit
Communities of Caring April 16th 2017 digital exhibit

April 16 Condolence Archive display

Items include cards and letters written to police and first responders; a display of the badges of police units who came to help Virginia Tech; Cheryl Thompson’s painting, Remember the 32; condolence books; quilted squares from Union Village United Methodist Church; black marble laserworks by David Cunningham, and April 17th Hokies United by Miss Price’s second grade class from Riverlawn Elementary, Fairlawn, Virginia.

This display will be held April 12-May 3 at the Holtzman Alumni Center.

Passages

A quiet, contemplative space for remembrance and reflection, this display will include prayer flags from the Virginia Tech Graduate Arts Council, Hillel, Living Buddhism, and Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the New River Valley and photographs from the community.

This display will be held April 12-16 at the Miles C. Horton Jr. Gallery and Sherwood P. Quillen ’71 Reception Gallery in Moss Arts Center.

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Words of Comfort: An exhibit of letters from around the world in the April 16th Condolence Archives

Things have been busy in the University Archives of Special Collections this month, with two exhibits going up this and next week. The first is the memorial exhibit honoring the memory of the victims and survivors of the tragic day of April 16, 2007. Every year we commemorate that day with an exhibit of items from the April 16th Condolence Archives. Please read the press release below to find out more about this year’s event.

The second is an update to the Virginia Tech Alumni Association’s (VTAA) Alumni Museum, with whom Special Collections has worked for over a decade to provide university memorabilia for display. Several archivists and students have been selecting items to update the current display, which will be installed next week. There is no end date for the display of these items, as we plan to continue to working with the VTAA for years to come. Also, if you are attending next weekend’s Black Alumni Reunion, you will get to see several additional photographs from the university archives of many pioneering black female students and alumnae at Virginia Tech, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first six black women to attend the university in 1966: Linda (Adams) Hoyle, Jackie (Butler) Blackwell, Linda (Edmonds) Turner, Freddie Hairston, Marguerite Laurette (Harper) Scott, and Chiquita Hudson. You can learn more about them at The Black Women at Virginia Tech History Project.

Words of Comfort: An exhibit of letters from around the world in the April 16th Condolence Archives

Day of Remembrance display in Newman Library shares words of comfort and hope

Following April 16, 2007, schools, fellow universities, children, community and religious groups, businesses, and other individuals from around the world sent words of comfort and hope to Virginia Tech. These cards, letters, signs, and other handwritten items expressed the world’s condolences and gave Virginia Tech a global community of support.

This week, on April 15-16, many of these items will be on display in the Multipurpose Room on the first floor of Newman Library at 560 Drillfield Drive in Blacksburg. The exhibit, “Words of Comfort: An exhibit of letters from around the world in the April 16th Condolence Archives,” is free and open to the public, and will be on display from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

These items represent over 40 countries and every continent, showing the outpouring of support from around the globe. Selected items on display include:

The materials are part of the Virginia Tech April 16, 2007 Condolence Archives of the University Libraries.

Campus visitors also left symbols of comfort and signs of support at memorials around Virginia Tech, which were displayed on campus for several months before being gathered and inventoried under the direction of University Archivist Tamara Kennelly. Together, the collection consists of more than 89,000 materials available through Special Collections in Newman Library.

In the summer of 2007, many items were digitally photographed for preservation and to share with the world. A large portion of the Condolence Archives of the University Libraries is now publicly available online.

The upcoming exhibit is organized and curated by Laurel Rozema, processing and special projects archivist for the University Libraries’ Special Collections, and Robin Boucher, arts program director for Student Engagement and Campus Life.

Free parking is available on weekends at the Squires Student Center and Architecture Annex lots along Otey Street. Before 5 p.m. on weekdays, a valid Virginia Tech parking pass is required to park in these lots. Find more parking information online, or call 540-231-3200.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Laurel Rozema at 540-231-9215 during regular business hours prior to the event.

For more information and other expressions of remembrance, please visit the We Remember site.

 

Breaking News: You can follow us on twitter, @VT_SCUA!

Recently, our graduate student Rebecca asked about our twitter account – the question being why aren’t we on twitter yet?! Thanks to her prompting, we now are – check us out at @VT_SCUA!

Our twitter @VT_SCUA
Our Twitter @VT_SCUA

Our first post you will notice is about the exhibit currently on display in our reading room windows about the history of African American female students and student groups at Virginia Tech. And guess what….one of our student volunteers, Alexis, came up with the idea and put it together!

Part of exhibit on African American Women at Virginia Tech
Part of exhibit on African American Women at Virginia Tech

With millions of users on Twitter, it’s a great way to stay current with different Virginia Tech departments and other libraries. Also, we hope the website will encourage our users to engage with us by asking questions, sharing their ideas, or notifying us of relevant stories and news. Because of its nature – being only 140 characters per tweet, we’ll be able (we hope) to share with our followers and others a bit more frequently than we are able to just via our blogs. Some tweets to look for from us include photos of neat items from our collections; announcements of new finding aids, new exhibits, or digital exhibits; upcoming events; and new blog posts on either this blog or our food and drink blog, What’s Cookin’ @ Special Collections?!

We hope that you will enjoy this new way to interact with us at @VT_SCUA!

 

Lincoln…in the Library!

This past Monday, a new exhibit opened on the 2nd floor of Newman Library. If you’re in the area over the next month or so, you might want to drop by! “Lincoln in Our Time” is an exhibit that includes documents, artifacts, pictures, and an interactive display with videos and presentations. Many of the materials on display come from Special Collections, and the videos are the work of a class in the Department of History, HIST2984: Abraham Lincoln: The Man, the Myth, the Legend.” You can read a bit about the exhibit in one of the photos below, but you’ll have to visit the library for more details. “Lincoln in Our Time” will be in place until April 15, so you’ve got plenty of time!

*Special thanks to Scott Fralin in University Libraries for the great photographs!


If “Lincoln in Our Time” isn’t enough Civil War history for you, you should also know about the upcoming Civil War Weekend on March 13-15, 2015. There will be guest speakers on a range of topics, showcasing Civil War history at Virginia Tech and beyond. Special Collections’ own Marc Brodsky, Public Services and Reference Archivist, will be talking about resources you can find here in our department. You can find out more about the events and register on the website!

 

A Medal of Honor in Special Collections

Portrait of Earle Gregory as a VT cadet, early 1920s
Portrait of Earle Gregory as a VT cadet, early 1920s

While Special Collections is primarily concerned with collecting rare and unique textual materials (we are, after all, part of a library, NOT a museum), there is still the occasional three dimensional artifact that finds its way here, usually as part of a larger manuscript collection, and/or because it provides valuable documentation of a particular subject in a significant way.

And as far as significance goes, one could argue that a Medal of Honor would be near the top of that list. The Medal of Honor is the United States of America’s highest military honor, awarded by the President of the United States in the name of Congress to US military personnel for personal acts of valor “above and beyond the call of duty.” Since its creation in 1861, 3,468 Medals of Honor have been awarded to servicemen (nearly half of those were awarded during the Civil War, when it was the only military award available). Due to its prestige and status, the Medal of Honor is afforded special protection under U.S. law against any unauthorized adornment, sale, or manufacture, and recipients are given special lifetime privileges and benefits from the US government, with their names and actions immortalized in ceremonies and monuments.

We have one of these Medals of Honor here in our collection, and this particular medal was awarded to Virginia Tech alum Sergeant Earle Davis Gregory (1897-1972). Gregory, of Chase City, Virginia, was the first native Virginian to receive the Medal of Honor, and one of seven Virginia Tech alums that have received the honor. Gregory earned the Medal of Honor for actions as an Army Sergeant in the 116th infantry regiment during the Meuse Argonne Offensive in World War I. The medal was awarded for gallantry at Bois de Consenvoye, north of Verdun, France on October 8, 1918. With the remark, “I will get them!” Sergeant Gregory seized a rifle and a trench-mortar shell (which he used as a hand grenade), left his detachment of the trench-mortar platoon and advanced ahead of the infantry, capturing 22 enemy soldiers, as well as a machine gun and a howitzer.

Earle Gregory as a student at Virginia Tech
Earle Gregory as a student at Virginia Tech

On October 11, 1918, three days after Gregory’s heroic charge, he was seriously wounded by shrapnel from an exploding artillery shell in the left thigh, earning him the Purple Heart. Exactly one month after he was wounded, World War I ended. Gregory spent four months in a hospital in France before returning to Virginia in February 1919. On April 24, 1919, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by Major General Omar Bundy in a ceremony at Camp Lee. Gregory was also subsequently awarded equivalent medals from the Allied countries, including the Italian Merito di Guerra, the French Croix de Guerre and Medaille Militaire, and the Montenegrin Order of Merit.

Gregory’s World War I medals from top left to bottom right: The Italian Merito di Guerra, the French Croix de Guerre, the U.S. Veterans of Foreign Wars Medal, the World War I Victory Medal with Meuse-Argonne and Defensive Sector Army battle clasps, the Cross of Military Service of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Medal of Honor, the French Médaille militaire, and the Montenegrin Order of Merit
Gregory’s World War I medals from top left to bottom right: The Italian Merito di Guerra, the French Croix de Guerre, the U.S. Veterans of Foreign Wars Medal, the World War I Victory Medal with Meuse-Argonne and Defensive Sector Army battle clasps, the Cross of Military Service of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Medal of Honor, the French Médaille militaire, and the Montenegrin Order of Merit. Pictured in the top right is also his Virginia Tech 1923 class ring.

After the war, Gregory enrolled at Virginia Tech as a member of the Corps of Cadets and studied Electrical Engineering, graduating in 1923. As a senior, he was a Cadet Captain and Company Commander, President of the Corps of Cadets, and selected as “Most Popular Cadet.” After graduating, Gregory spent his career working for the Veterans Administration and was an active member of several veterans organizations. He passed away in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on January 6, 1972.

The Virginia Tech precision military marching unit, The Gregory Guard, was named in honor of Sgt. Gregory in May 1963, and in 1965, Gregory bequeathed his medals, along with his papers and photographs, to Virginia Tech Special Collections. An exhibit of highlights from the Earle D. Gregory Collection, including his medals, are currently on display in the Special Collections reading room.

Gregory meeting president John F. Kennedy at a military reception at the White House, May 2, 1963.
Gregory meeting president John F. Kennedy at a military reception at the White House, May 2, 1963.

Yours in Sisterhood: Special Collections Celebrates Women’s History Month

Tin Horn 1925
Page from the 1925 self-published, co-ed yearbook The Tin Horn.

March is Women’s History Month and in honor of this commemorative month Special Collections is hosting an interactive exhibit-celebrating women. Stop by the exhibit cases located on the first floor of Newman Library to see some representative materials from our collections featuring women in literature, the domestic arts, and science and technology. If you have a few extra minutes (or hours, seriously this is great stuff) then come on in and we will let you loose on a cart full of collections created by women. Our archivists have pulled women’s travel diaries from 1840-2000s, speculative fiction magazines, literary first editions, architecture collections, items from Virginia Tech’s history, and much more.

If you are visiting with us through the magic of the Internet don’t despair for each Tuesday in March we will be spotlighting a collection here on this very blog.

Mark your calendars for next Tuesday’s profile on the short-lived, co-ed yearbook, The Tin Horn, published by the first female students at Virginia Tech.

Power to the People! The Revolutionary Literature of the Black Panthers

 

In celebration of Black History Month, the Special Collections reading room is currently displaying an exhibit on the Black Panther Party and the Black Power movement. The exhibit includes Black Panther newspapers and pamphlets published in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as earlier civil rights literature from the American Communist Party.

The Black Panther Party (originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) was an African-American revolutionary socialist organization active in the United States from 1966 until 1982. It was founded in Oakland, California by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The party’s inflammatory speech and advocation of violence for political gain made it extremely controversial, even within the Black Power movement. The Panthers were famous for organizing armed citizens’ patrols to evaluate behavior of police officers. Chants such as “The Revolution has come, it’s time to pick up the gun. Off the pigs!” pitted them against the establishment and increased racial tensions. The Panthers took advantage of a California law that permitted carrying a loaded rifle or shotgun as long as it was publicly displayed and pointed at no one. In their most famous incident, in May, 1967, 30 members entered the California State Assembly carrying their armed weapons- an event which was widely publicized, and which prompted a major overhaul in gun legislation. Despite the social program work performed by the Panthers, including the creation of a community school and free food programs, the criminal activities of Black Panther members and their confrontational, militant, and violent tactics against police caused the party to lose support in the civil rights community. To this day, the Black Panthers are infamous figures, representing a violent turn in the Black Power movement.

Special Collections owns six original issues of the Black Panther Party’s official newspaper, The Black Panther, which are featured in this exhibit. The issues contain stories of injustice and police brutality, cartoons and information on how to carry out guerrilla attacks against the people and institutions the Black Panthers considered oppressive. Additionally, the front and back covers are adorned with the iconic art illustrations made by artist and Black Panther Minister of Culture Emory Douglas.

The pamphlets in the exhibit feature essays by important Black Panther leaders, including co-founder and self-appointed Minister of Defense Huey P. Newton. There is also a comic book titled The Adventures of Black Eldridge recounting the mythical exploits of Eldridge Cleaver. As Minister of Information, Cleaver was editor of the The Black Panther newspaper and exerted a lot of influence on the message and direction of the party.

Also included are pamphlets of earlier Black Power literature, all of which was affiliated with the American Communist Party. From the 1930s through the 1950s, the American Communists were at the forefront of promoting equal rights for African Americans and were intimately connected with the Black Power movement. One such pamphlet, entitled Equality, Land and Freedom: A Program for Negro Liberation, was published by The League of Struggle for Negro Rights, a group organized by the American Communist Party in 1930. The League campaigned for a separate black nation in the South, as well as against police brutality and Jim Crow laws. Langston Hughes, the famous Harlem writer and activist, became its President in 1934. Published between 1934 and 1935, this pamphlet sets out a “Bill of Civil Rights for the Negro People” decades before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Another pamphlet, The Road to Liberation for the Negro People, was published in 1937 by the Daily Worker, a Communist newspaper. The Meaning of ‘Black Power’ was written by James E. Jackson Jr., an official in the American Communist Party. During the McCarthy era in the early 1950s, he was indicted on charges of conspiracy and spent five years in hiding. In this pamphlet, published in 1966, Jackson works to define “Black Power” as a movement to bring about equal rights for African Americans by mobilizing these populations to vote and “secure their rightful share of government power.”

These are artifacts from a volatile period of American history as we struggled to achieve equality,  documents that demonstrate the intensity and passion of those working for African American freedom and recognition. The exhibit will be up through the end of the month, so come take a look!