Guest Blogger: Michaela Gibbons on “Dean Rusk: Rusk and the Media”

  Dean Rusk walking down Main St., Davidson.

While David Dean Rusk was often berated by the media, he proved able to separate his own experiences with newscasters as a political figure from the ones he experienced as an American citizen. News media was not only growing as a competitive industry but was also playing an increasingly important role in political affairs. Rusk, however, felt as if they fell short of their new responsibilities:

One problem I have is that the very answer given by the news media to the question ‘What is news?’ cannot help but give us a distorted picture of the real situation and the real world. For example, I can tell you with complete accuracy today that the overwhelming majority of international frontiers are peaceful [….] But if that is not your impression it is partly because agreement, normality, serenity are simply not newsworthy. 

Dean Rusk, Fall Convocation 1985, 1:05:17

News cycles more often than not emphasized unrest and upheaval. Rusk claims that about eighty percent of the work in the U.S. State Department goes unreported by the press as it is simply maintaining the good international relationships that have been in existence. 

Dean Rusk giving a press conference

News media rarely gave topics of international importance the space and time that was necessary to fully comprehend the stories told.

“All the limited column inches in a newspaper on the limited breathless moments on radio and television news. So you’re always snatching at fragments of problems which might require much more time to put into any context.”

Dean Rusk, Chapel Talk

These fragments — headlines and descriptors — force consumers to react instantaneously and form implicit attitudes. Rather than providing informative reports, news outlets began to construct their own evocative narratives to boost their ratings. Rusk was particularly critical of the ABC television network’s choice to broadcast a film depicting nuclear disaster in America without any disclaimer. On November 20, 1983, The Day After was viewed by over 100 million Americans, reinforcing the fear of an inevitable nuclear war. Rusk points out how careless ABC was to frame a dramatization as a prediction. He explains,

“I personally think that ABC has a duty to have one of its top newsman come on at the very beginning of that show, and remind us that we are put behind us 38 years as a nuclear weapon has been used, and that they can find no situation present in the world today, which seems to be pointing toward a nuclear war.” 

Dean Rusk, Fall Convocation 1985, 1:05:17

Regardless, Rusk had faith in the news media to educate the American people. He claims,

“I think that the American people are overtime far better informed, more accurately, and in broader context than the people of any other country I know about.”

Dean Rusk, Dean Rusk Speech – Atlanta, 38:15

Perhaps this confidence comes from knowing the threat of communism and believing in democracy. Today, however, Americans are generally suspicious of media sources, especially those that have an established political identity. The news media will have to reevaluate its content and delivery if it wants to reestablish its credibility as an educator of the American people.

Digitization and transcription funded courtesy of the Dean Rusk Program for International Studies. This blog post was written by Michaela Gibbons ’22. To listen to these interviews, browse the Dean Rusk Collection in Digital Davidson.

Guest Blogger: Michaela Gibbons on “Dean Rusk: Foundation of the Dean Rusk Program”

The Dean Rusk Program for International Studies, now known as the Dean Rusk International Studies Program, was started by Frontis Johnston while he was interim President of Davidson College. Inspired by David Dean Rusk’s confidence that a liberal arts education would make a “universal man,” the program was established to offer all students a breadth of global insight through “scholarships, professorships, travel, and much, much more.” In the international city of Atlanta on November 2, 1983, the Dean Rusk Endowment for International Studies nearly reached its halfway mark of their $1 million goal as the speeches were ending. Meanwhile, endowments in Dallas and Houston were already raising additional funds to meet the program’s 1989 goal of $10 million. The Dean Rusk International Studies Program was the first of its kind, particularly in the South. 1

Dean Rusk standing in front of a podium

On the surface, the program aimed to integrate international issues into the Davidson bubble. Program director and former ambassador Jack Perry worked closely with the faculty-led International Education Committee, which was integral in conceptualizing the program and its direction. While some global education existed in the college’s curriculum, Perry was determined to broaden its offerings, introducing Latin American, African, and Asian studies. Funding was provided to faculty interested in international travel and incorporating global topics into their courses across departments. It was imperative that these studies were not a school within, but an integral part of Davidson College. As the program aimed to reach every student, a diverse board, Dean Rusk Program Student Advisory Committee, was founded to represent the student body and their interests.

Dean Rusk speaking to students

Confronted with globalized differences and similarities, students would have the tools to reflect on their privilege and fight for liberty. In Rusk’s eyes, the values instilled in students by the college were fundamental to this program’s success. Hoping this work would start locally, the program cooperated with other offices on campus to expand their efforts into Charlotte, North Carolina. More ambitiously, the Rusk Program aspired to prepare students as future world leaders. In Atlanta, it was dictated:

“Equip them with a world related knowledge, equip them with a global thinking perspective, and to equip them with a multinational understanding with a multi-cultural appreciation and with a multilingual capability.” 

Speaker 2, Dean Rusk Speech – Atlanta, 37:02.

 Dean Rusk Program in International Studies inaugural program

The Rusk Program collaborated with other offices, programs, and universities “To give each student, first, an informed awareness of our whole planet, and second, direct knowledge of at least one foreign area.”2 While the first half of the mission became achievable on campus, the second half encouraged students to think beyond the small college town. Study abroad opportunities began in 1968, but with the Rusk Program’s support, it grew substantially. President John Kuykendall lauded:

A key aspect of our program both in the immediate past and for the foreseeable future has been the development of programs in conjunction with colleges and universities abroad. Our term abroad and junior year abroad programs currently provide remarkable experiences for personal growth to at least one of every four Davidson students.

John Kuykendall, Fall Convocation 1985, 0:00

Junior Year Abroad provided a unique opportunity for cultural immersion in countries, such as Germany and France at first and then across Europe, South America, and Southern Asia. This aspect of the Rusk Program has grown immensely in student participation and has granted Davidson College an international identity in higher education. Dean Rusk was enthusiastic about this program’s potential and was confident in its excellence. He urged program administrators to stay true to Davidson’s liberal arts identity while developing its global consciousness.3

Works Cited:

  1.  Dean Rusk, Dean Rusk Speech – Atlanta, 11:46. Speaker 2, Dean Rusk Speech – Atlanta, 30:35.
  2. Printed Material – Davidson College – Dean Rusk Program. 1989 – 1990. DC004. Dean Rusk Collection. Davidson College Archives, Davidson College, NC.
  3. History File, 1981 – 1983. 1981 -1983. RG 3/6.1. Dean Rusk Program. Davidson College Archives. Davidson College, NC.

Digitization and transcription funded courtesy of the Dean Rusk Program for International Studies. This blog post was written by Michaela Gibbons ’22. To listen to these interviews, browse the Dean Rusk Collection in Digital Davidson.

From the Rare Book Room: Watermark Wednesday

A hallmark of good research is looking beyond the surface. Particularly, in the Davidson Archives, it is prudent to search beyond what meets the eye—literally. The Davidson College Archives and Special Collections houses a multitude of rare books and 19th century correspondences by former College Presidents which boast watermarks. Such hidden images on the pages can offer insights as to where and by whom the paper was made, as well as its quality.

A page featuring a poem and a faint watermark and lines.

Nonesuch Press watermark and chain and laid lines visible on handmade page.

The tradition of watermarks in papermaking began in Fabriano, Italy late in the 13th Century and was continued by other manufacturers of handmade paper into the 19th century. Watermarks were formed by twisting thin wires into various geometric shapes and adhered to the paper mold. The mold was simply a wood-framed wire screen which would be dipped into a “soup”-of-sorts of warm water and rag fibres several times. As the water strained through, horizontal (laid) lines and vertical (chain) lines would appear on the forming sheet. The shape of the watermark was imprinted into the sheet whilst the fibres were still wet, thereby thinning the paper in a specific area, forming the mark.

The Davidson Rare Book Room holds a 1923 reprint by The Nonesuch Press of the Poems of Andrew Marvell, the original 1681 edition of which is housed in the British Museum. As noted on the cover, the edition was printed on handmade Italian watermarked paper.

Title page reading: MISCELLANEOUS POEMS BY ANDREW MARVELL, Esq. Late Member of the Honourable House of Commons LONDON The Nonesuch Press, 30 Gerrard Street M. CM. XXIII.

Title page of the Poems of Andrew Marvell

Portrait of a mustachioed man in a long curly wig, typical of the 17th century,

Portrait of Andrew Marvell.

Digitization and Historical Context: Analyzing Trustee and Faculty Minutes

The archives hold several bound volumes of minutes from the meetings of the trustees and faculty of Davidson College. The trustees met at irregular intervals throughout the nineteenth century, beginning in 1836, as they discussed monetary issues, student deportment, lack of students, faculty turnover, and the strain imposed by Civil War drafting and rationing. The trustee meetings initially took place at local churches, with several of the trustees representing the various presbyteries that supported the nascent Davidson College.

Though Davidson College classes officially began in 1837, no faculty meeting minutes were kept until 1845. Members of the faculty met weekly between 1845 and 1921 and discussed issues similar to those of the trustees. In 1921, the meetings moved to monthly sessions, meaning there are significantly fewer volumes found for later years.

The first volume of Faculty Minutes for Davidson College also contains the minutes of the Trustees of the Western Carolina College between May 1821 and June 1824. The North Carolina General Assembly authorized the establishment of a college in 1820, subsequently appointing trustees to oversee its development. These trustees met for three years, but were ultimately unable to raise sufficient funds for the effort—though this later gave way to the establishment of Davidson College.

The trustee and faculty minutes contain information about college assets, personal finances, student grades and conduct, curriculum development, and admissions policies. For this reason, minutes taken at these meetings typically have some restrictions to protect the privacy of those involved. Davidson’s trustee minutes have access restrictions for 75 years. There are no restrictions on nineteenth century faculty minutes. The Archives & Special Collections department is making a concerted effort to digitize these volumes, beginning with meetings that shed light on Davidson College’s relationship to and within the slave system, as well as systemic racial discrimination.

One of the most enlightening faculty minutes accounts dates to December 27, 1853, stating:

                “The Faculty having heard that a fight had occurred on the 26th inst., at the lower store, between some of the students and some men from the country, proceeded to investigate the facts in the case. They found as follows:

                That there was a wagon near the store, and several negroes, together with two young men by the name of Washam, near it. Two students, Robert A. H. Neagle and H.T. McDugald, in passing the wagon, accosted some of the negroes, telling them to take off their hates, and on their declining to do so, Neagle knocked off the hat of one of them; these two students then passed on into the store, where they met more negroes whom they accosted in the same way and McDugald, with a stick in his hand, knocked off the hat of one of them.

                The two Washams followed them into the store and asked them if the store belonged to them, and repeated the question when, after some dispute and rough language between the parties, the students came back upon the College Hill to get help and several other students went down and among them, J.T. Kell, who, when he entered the store before the other, enquired for the man (or as some would have it, the negro) who would not take off his hat.

                 One of the Washams came out of the counting room, and replied to him. Neagle and McDugald came in after Kell, and after some words passing between the parties, one of the Washams hit Neagle and then a voice was heard from outside of the door to Kell – “hit him,” and he knocked down Washam with a club which he had brought with him, and Neagle either jumped on him or kicked him in the side, when the other Washam attempted to interfere, but the parties were separated.”

The three named students responsible for the degrading altercation were suspended from the college by the faculty for the remainder of the term the following month.


This image is a scan of the first page of the faculty minutes from December 27, 1853. The typescript appears in the main body of the posting.

Davidson College faculty minutes from December 27, 1853.


This image is a scan of the second page of the faculty minutes from December 27, 1853. The typescript appears in the main body of the posting.

Davidson College faculty minutes from December 27, 1853, continued.


There were also several recorded instances of blackface during the Civil War period. One of these instances was discussed by the faculty on February 19, 1863:

               “Mr. W.H. Scott (pupil in the preparatory department) had been seized by Messrs. Moore, Knox, Glover, Troy, and Watts, and blacked and otherwise insultingly treated by them, and Mr. H.W. Scott, brother of the aforesaid Scott, had been beaten by Mr. Troy for resenting the treatment that his brother had received.

                The two messrs. Scott being called before the Faculty, H.W. Scott was found to be very much bruised about the face, and had evidently been very seriously beaten. Mr. W.H. Scott testified that he went into Mr. Glover’s room on Wednesday night, and having been there a very few minutes, he was seized from behind by Mr. Moore and thrown on the bed and held there by Moore, Knox, Watts, and Glover, and that Mr. Troy blacked his face with soot and tallow. That after he was released, an attempt was made by the same students to make a negro boy kiss him.

                H.W. Scott, being asked the cause of the fight between himself and Mr. Troy, said that he was not present when his brother was so much insulted, but that he went to Mr. Gibson’s room immediately after he heard it, and that Mr. Troy was there’ that Mr. Troy said to him “You ought to have been around to see us black Heathly,” and that he replied that if he had been there it would not have been done without a fight, and that we would cut anyone with his knife who attempted to black him. That Mr. Troy then called him a “damned South Carolina son of a bitch,” and that he (Scott) struck him, and the fight ensued.

                Mr. Troy was called before the Faculty and frankly acknowledged all that he had done and said, which was substantially the same testimony given by the Scotts; and said moreover, that the Scotts had been guilty at various times of stealing wood and other things, and that the blacking was intended to drive them out of the West Wing. That he could prove that they had been guilty of theft, though he had not seen them himself in the act, that could mention those who had, and that he was ready to prove it.”


This image is a scan of the first page of faculty minutes from February 1863. The typescript is in the main body of the text.

Davidson College faculty minutes from February 19, 1863.


This image is a scan of the second page of faculty minutes from February 1863. The typescript is in the main body of the text.

Davidson College faculty minutes from February 19, 1863, continued.


In this case, the students were not initially suspended or expelled from the college for their behavior, but they were publicly admonished. Nearly one month later, on March 10, 1863, the faculty voted on a proposition to make “any student who disguises himself by blacking his face, altering his dress, or by any other means, guilty of a serious offence liable to immediate dismission from College.”

Although these striking accounts occasionally seem vague, we can learn a lot from what language is used, from what information is left out, and comparing these accounts to other records left from the period in question. Making these primary sources publicly available allows researchers to make those comparisons and bring often untold stories to light, while also revealing the historical roots of modern discrimination.

Guest Blogger: Emily Lauher, 2017 volunteer and future archivist, Changing Landscapes and Changing Attributes

Hi everyone my name is Emily Lauher. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. I am a 2017 volunteer at Davidson College organizing the personal papers of Anne Stewart Higham, an adventurous world traveler.

Davidson College received this collection from one of Anne Higham’s granddaughters, Dr. Carol Higham. Dr. Higham is a professor of Native American History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has also worked as an adjunct professor at Davidson College. She first approached Jan Blodgett, College Archivist, regarding the personal papers belonging to Anne Higham.

Anne Stewart Higham

Anne Stewart Higham

Anne Higham traveled extensively between 1940 and 1969 to Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

1945 Christmas Greeting card when Anne Higham traveled throughout the Middle East.

1945 Christmas Greeting when Anne Higham traveled throughout the Middle East.

During that time, she surrendered her American citizenship and became a British citizen (later requesting a return to American citizenship). Somehow, during those transactions, her birth year was also altered, making her five years younger on a return trip.

Working as an Army lecturer for the British Army, she first toured Royal Air Force stations in the Middle East and in 1946, began a tour of India and Africa. The correspondence in the collection discusses her lecture topics such as the history of Britain, conditions in Africa, and the Middle East. She also gave lectures on British women and the British war effort during World War II.

Anne Higham, United Nations lecturer with an itinerary of her lecture topics such as the history of Britain, conditions in Africa, and the Middle East

Anne Higham, United Nations lecturer

Dr. Carol Higham will be sharing an accretion to this collection, and I am hoping for copies of Anne Higham’s lectures and research notes to add to the photographs, negatives, correspondence and other materials in the collection. I am also hoping to learn more about Anne Higham’s life in these international locations and her relationship with her brother and son who served in the military during World Wars I and II.

“Declaration of Independency”

As we get ready to celebrate our nation’s birthday on July 4th, I wanted to see what books we had in the Rare Book Room relating to the American Revolution and printed during that era.  We have several including:

The History of the Origin, Progress, and Termination of the American War.  By C. Stedman.  Dublin, 1794.

The History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence of the United States of America.  By William Gordon.  New York, 1801.

 Both are histories of the war…but I found it interesting that although the titles of the two histories were similar, the British publication and the American one had distinctive differences in wording regarding the close of the war.

The close of the war.  And, as Gordon’s book title reads, the “establishment of the independence of the United States of America.”  With the approval of the Second Continental Congress at their meeting in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania State House on July 4, 1776, the colonies severed their ties to Great Britain, and declared themselves to be free and independent states.  In order to let the colonists know as quickly as possible about this momentous decision, Congress ordered that copies of the “Declaration of Independence” be printed that night, and about 200 copies were printed by John Dunlap at his small printing shop near the State House.  Known as the “Dunlap Broadside,” this was the first printing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.  There remain only 25 known copies of this first U.S. printing, and, not surprisingly, Davidson does NOT own one!  But what about the first British printing?  When did Britain let its citizens know what the U.S. had done?

The Gentleman's Magazine 1776 title page

The Gentleman’s Magazine 1776

The Gentleman's Magazine August 1776 with an illustration of a brick building

The Gentleman’s Magazine August 1776

The August 1776 issue of the London publication, The Gentleman’s Magazine includes an early, very possibly the first, British printing of the “Declaration of American Independency” on pages 361-362.

Declaration of American Independency page 362

Declaration of American Independency

Declaration of American Independency page 361

Declaration of American Independency

The magazine was founded by Edward Cave in 1731, and was considered to be the most influential periodical of its time.  The August issue also includes additional coverage of the Revolution including Parliamentary debates regarding the colonies, some selected correspondence of George Washington, resolutions of the Continental Congress, and maps of areas of major colonial battles.

Map of Philadelphia

Map of Philadelphia

We are fortunate to have a collection of The Gentleman’s Magazine in the Rare Book Room, including the volume for 1776.

Happy Birthday, USA!

Patrick Gass and his Journal

Gass Journal Title Page

Gass Journal Title Page


A journal of the voyages and travels of a corps of discovery: under the command of Capt. Lewis and Capt. Clarke of the Army of the United States, from the mouth of the river Missouri through the interior parts of North America to the Pacific Ocean, during the years 1804, 1805 & 1806: containing an authentic relation of the most interesting transactions during the expedition, a description of the country, and an account of its inhabitants, soil, climate, curiosities, and vegetable and animal productions / by Patrick Gass, one of the persons employed in the expedition; with geographical and explanatory notes by the publisher. Pittsburgh: Printed by Zadok Cramer for David M’Keehan, publisher and proprietor, 1807.
The title pretty much tells the story.

Sergeant Patrick Gass traveled with Lewis and Clark on their famous journey west from 1804-1806. His field notes from that journey were published in 1807 by David McKeehan and printed by Zadok Cramer in Pittsburgh, the earliest first-hand account of the journey to be published.

Gass Journal Preface ending, "The publisher hopes that the curiosity of the reader will be in some degree gratified; that the information furnished will not be uninteresting"

“The publisher hopes that the curiosity of the reader will be in some degree gratified; that the information furnished will not be uninteresting”

Gass Journal Preface

Gass Journal Preface


Example of a journal entry in Gass Journal

Example of a journal entry






The journal documents the westward trip, led by Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to find, at President Thomas Jefferson’s instructions, a water passage to the Pacific Ocean. Patrick Gass, at 33, was one of the older members of the corps, and was specially chosen for his woodworking skills. His daily account of the expedition was rough, since Gass had not had much formal education, and after the return of the corps in 1806, with the encouragement of friends, Gass approached a schoolteacher, David McKeehan, to get the journal in a printable form. It was first printed in 1807, and was so well received that it went through several printings in the U.S. as well as in England, and was also translated into German and French.
Considered to be “one of the essential books for an Americana collection” we’re pleased to have one of these rare copies in our Rare Book Room Collection, donated by the Rev. Jerry G. Robinson, class of 1957. Our copy has early 19th inscriptions still visible, including several names of previous owners. It is bound in quarter calf with mottled calf boards and gilt spine lettering.

Names of previous owners of this copy of Gass Journal

Names of previous owners

Names of previous owners of this copy of Gass Journal

Names of previous owners

Gass Journal cover/binding.

Journal binding.

Of Wormholes, Marginalia, and old Manuscripts

The Exposicion of Daniel the Prophete title page with marginalia

The Exposicion of Daniel the Prophete

The volumes in our Rare Book Room collections are valuable in many ways…some for their content, some for their bindings or illustrations, some for their evidence of provenance, all for their contribution to research at Davidson.
Because of age and deterioration, we’ve sent some out for conservation to either be stabilized as they are, or to bring them back to a more original state. Sometimes, however, a book in its ragged, torn and tattered state can be more valuable as a teaching tool than it would be after treatment by a conservator. One example of that kind of tool is our original 1545 copy of George Joye’s The Exposicion of Daniel the Prophete.
George Joye (1492-1533) wrote a great number of religious works including biblical translations, commentary, and prophecy. Not fond of the Church of Rome, Joye’s voiced opinion was that emperors and kings had always been the Pope’s puppets. In 1546, a London proclamation was issued directing that Joye’s works (among others) were to be publicly burned. Luckily, some copies were saved, and our Rare Book Room has one which came to us as a gift.
Some of the things we can learn from our tattered volume regarding printing and publishing (and readers) in 1546 include:
BINDING: Leather with gilt spine lettering and decoration. Use of blind stamping and raised spine bands. Evidence of rawhide laces and use of vellum manuscript leaves for spine stiffening.
PAPER: Handmade rag paper (with evidence of wormholes!)
FONT: Mimics that of handwritten manuscripts
MARGINALIA: Extensive evidence of marginalia including notes and textual notation, names, and “doodling.”

Take a look at the images below and see what you can see!

A page from The Exposicion of Daniel the Prophete with textual marginalia

Textual marginalia

A page from The Exposicion of Daniel the Prophete with marginalia and evidence of bookworms

Marginalia and evidence of bookworms

A page from The Exposicion of Daniel the Prophete with marginalia and bookworm holes

Marginalia and bookworm holes

Vellum manuscript used as "scrap"

Vellum manuscript used as “scrap”

A page from The Exposicion of Daniel the Prophete with a bookworm trail

Bookworm trail

A page from The Exposicion of Daniel the Prophete with textual marginalia

Textual marginalia

A page from The Exposicion of Daniel the Prophete with marginalia


A page from The Exposicion of Daniel the Prophete with notes on front end-papers

Notes on front end-papers

The Exposicion of Daniel the Prophete cover/binding with spine showing

Binding with spine showing

Back cover of The Exposicion of Daniel the Prophete showing blind-stamping on leather

Back cover showing blind-stamping on leather

Fragments of rawhide laces on back end-papers

Fragments of rawhide laces on back end-papers


The Art of Illumination: Interview with Clara Nguyen

The latest display in the Smith Rare Book Room is “The Art of Illumination: Past and Present,” which will be on view from today (January 15) through February 14. The display focuses on illuminations throughout time, illustrated by examples from the library’s special collections and two new pieces by Clara Nguyen, the Collections Assistant for Government Information here at E.H. Little Library. Clara previously served as the Interim Assistant Curator of the Van Every/ Smith Galleries, and holds a B.A. in Art History (with a studio concentration) from East Carolina University and a M.A. in Art History from the George Washington University.

Clara first became interested in illuminations through an internship at the Ellen Frank Illumination Arts Foundation (EFIAF), where she worked on the Book of Judith. Formed in 2004, EFIAF aims to “revitalize passion for and public awareness of the art of illumination, in part through education and training at the unique Illumination Atelier.” Similarly, when I interviewed Clara last week, she emphasized both the ancient and modern aspects of illumination: “I try to use natural materials because I’m trying to keep in the tradition of illumination.”  She uses many of the same materials as the older works on display, such as: papyrus (typically used for practice pieces), vellum (reserved exclusively for final pieces), 23 K leaf, egg tempera, Indian ink, fish glue, bole (Armenian red clay and water), rabbit glue, and garlic glue. Don’t expect Clara’s work to look like a medieval manuscript, though – she says that she “likes taking physical images and then making them abstract;” much of her work is inspired by nature, including one of her pieces in the Rare Book Room display, which is based on an outing on the Davidson cross country trail.

Two views of, “The Vines” “Amongst the birds they writhe breathing with the clouds but on the ground they lie - forgotten”

Two views of “The Vines”
“Amongst the birds
they writhe
breathing with the clouds
but on the ground
they lie –

Part of what drew Clara to illuminations was how the materials used force the artistic process: “It’s a fickle medium. You can mold it to where you want it to go… to a degree.” When asked about the creative process, she cited an example her mentor, Dr. Anne Collins Goodyear, gave when describing how ideas are developed: “A man (or woman) is walking and thinking. He waits at the bus stop for his bus to come along, still contemplating but not fully focused on his thoughts. The bus arrives and it is when he takes his first step onto the bus that the ‘idea/inspiration’ strikes him. It is in this in-between state of things that all the pieces finally click and solidify. I feel that my initial creative process occurs in this way. In other words, my mind is quietly thinking with all these ideas and one final element usually ties it all together. In my pieces, the tying element is usually based in nature and occasionally, a man-made element.” One idea formed in such a way inspired a piece in our display: “I was driving one day and saw a smokestack and thought, “Huh… I want that in there, I just don’t know how I want it yet.”

The piece inspired by the smokestack: “The wheels spin and like smoke obliterate the -”

The piece inspired by the smokestack:
“The wheels
and like smoke
the -”

After the seed for the idea has been planted, Clara can then turn to implementing and shaping it: “Once I have an idea, I make a few sketches to lay out the general shapes. I transfer these shapes onto the papyrus/vellum using a very light pencil. Thereafter follows the fun part of the process: I begin an additive process of painting, drawing with quill and Indian ink, and leafing. Like most contemporary illuminators, I work using a 5-diopter glass lens which increases the viewed object size to 225%.”

For those interested in seeing Clara’s process in person, she will be giving an informal live demonstration of illumination techniques on January 28th, from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM, in the Library’s Davidsoniana Room (second floor of E.H. Little Library). Feel free to stay for the hour, or stop by for a few minutes. Light refreshments will be served, and questions and comments are welcomed! As Clara said during our interview, “It’s a lot of fun seeing the connections people make and what they see.”

Virtual Manuscripts

Choir leaf  from a liturgical book of the Western Christian church, written in Latin on vellum and dating to around 1500

Choir Leaf

In the summer of 2010, a professor from the University of South Carolina, Dr. Scott Gwara, came to visit the Rare Book Room to look at some illuminated manuscript leaves which are in our collection.  Two leaves were from a liturgical book of the Western Christian church (choir leaves), written in Latin on vellum and dating to around 1500.  Three leaves were from a medieval manuscript Bible, also written in Latin on vellum, and dating to 1250 Paris.

Medieval Bible leaf from a medieval manuscript Bible, also written in Latin on vellum, and dating to 1250 Paris.

Medieval Bible leaf

 Dr. Gwara studies medieval manuscripts in national collections, and was interested in locating and re-uniting the discrete, and usually scattered, manuscript pages into virtual books, giving scholars the ability to “see” the complete manuscripts as they were originally created.  This fall, Dr. Gwara contacted us again to let us know that a new project called manuscriptlink is now underway at the University of South Carolina to do just that.  Their Center for Digital Humanities will re-unite manuscript pages into “virtual books” which will be readable through page-turner software.  Plans are underway to collect thousands of leaves from hundreds of collections, and support for the project, as evidenced by the list of the Board of Directors, is strong and widespread, including members from OSU, the University of Toronto, the University of Kent (UK), Yale University, and the Rare Book School at UVA.

Choir leaf  from a liturgical book of the Western Christian church, written in Latin on vellum and dating to around 1500

Choir leaf

Davidson has scanned and sent the images of our choir leaves and our medieval Bible to Dr. Gwara to be included, and we’re looking forward to being a part of this exciting project!