Uncle Tom’s Cabin

In 1852 Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide, with only 300,000 sold in the U.S. The L. Tom Perry Special Collections has several copies of this controversial abolitionist text. The novel has been shrouded in controversy since its inception. As an abolitionist text in 1852 it was extolled by fellow abolitionists and despised by pro-slavery advocates. Mrs. Stowe and her novel were so popular that they even garnered an Abraham Lincoln myth. It is said, but unsubstantiated, that on a visit to meet the President in 1862 Abraham Lincoln said to Mrs. Stowe, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” Special Collections has copies of the American first edition and other editions printed abroad in 1853. As we continue to commemorate the Civil War you are invited to come down to Special Collections to see this novel that acted as a spark to incite the Civil War and to draw the line on the issue of slavery in the United States in the middle of the 19th Century.

The Candy Bomber

Colonel Gail S. Halverson of the USAF was responsible for the invention and addition of “Operation Little Vittles” to the larger American “Operation Vittles” and eventual expansion to the entire Berlin Airlift in post-WWII Germany. “Operation Little Vittles” dropped candy to the children of West Berlin. It was difficult for the children to distinguish his plane from the others that were coming in every minute, so he told them he would wiggle his wings to discern him from the others. This is where he attained the affectionate title “Onkel Wackelflugel,” or “Uncle Wiggly Wings.” The “candy bombings” were a huge success and spread to the entire American “Operation Vittles” and was later adopted by other countries. By the end of the blockade 23 tons of candy had been dropped to awaiting children. The candy was attached to tiny parachutes made of handkerchiefs. This ingenious gesture of goodwill has found contemporaneous use in other countries such as Iraq. Col. Halvorsen’s legacy lives on and the L. Tom Perry Special Collections is proud to have acquired his personal collection of correspondence, photos, newspaper articles, and candy parachutes. A student Reference Assistant will be happy to help you find this collection and others you would like to see. (The call number for this collection is MSS 2220.)

“Unholy War”

“This is one of the dark days of our generation. All will yet be well, be of good cheer my dear sister.”

-Philemon Burgess Hunt, 1863.

The Hunt Family Letters consist of correspondence sent from the 1850s to the 1920s. The letters sent during the time of the Civil War are mainly addressed to Mary D Craig (formerly Hunt) from her parents and one of her brothers in Lexington. The letters chronicle the social and political climate during the war, some major battles and people in the war, and her brothers’ time spent in the war. The letters specifically mention the secession of South Carolina and other states, the Camp Jackson Affair, General Nathaniel Lyon, Governor Beriah Magoffin of Kentucky, John J. Crittendon, John Hunt Morgan’s Raid, General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign, and negro soldiers fighting for the Union. Kentucky was a border state during the war that did not secede despite it being a slave state. This led to divisions in the state and even among family members, as was the case with the Hunt family.

Gavin Drummond Hunt married Catherine Amelia Burgess in the early 1830s and had five children: George Washington , Mary D, Philemon Burgess, Gavin Drummond, and Albert G. Shortly after their last child was born, Mrs. Hunt passed away. With five children to look after Mr. Hunt remarried Letitia Dudley. The family lived in Lexington, KY and before the War commenced Mary had moved to New Jersey and married Dr. Lewis Craig. Most of the letters sent during the Civil War are addressed to her home in New Jersey. In a letter to his daughter in September of 1860 Mr. Hunt told her that he had purchased 1600 acres in Arkansas to farm and had sent George with his uncles to work the land. Letters from January of the following year express great concern for the condition of the country and a hope that things will soon be settled. After the battle of Fort Sumter and with all but two of the states left to secede from the Union Mr. Hunt exclaimed, “Our Country, our country — who would have ever of thought — that we would have seen such times.” Later on in that same letter he professed his allegiance to the Union, decried the actions of the South, and blamed them for “bringing on this war — Unholy War.” Though he was staunchly for the Union not all of his family agreed with him.

Gavin Drummond’s two sons, George and “Allie” (Albert), had differing opinions from his own and they joined the CSA in the Mississippi Cavalry. Burgess was a cavalryman for the Union and Drummond followed suit by entering on the Union side. Burgess was “glad to know [George] [was] in Cavalry instead of Infantry as there [was] much less danger in the former corps. And again there [was] not much probability of he and I coming in contact” (May 26, 1862). It is commonly heard that brothers were taking arms against each other in “this war — “Unholy War” and it was very literally the case with the Hunt brothers. Burgess was shot in the knee in the Battle of Chicamauga in 1863 and never returned to battle. His brothers continued fighting and in that same year in November as part of the Union victory at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, Drummond was killed. Their brother George, fighting for the Confederacy, was present at both battles under General Joseph “Fighting Joe” Wheeler’s command. This war pitted one side of the family against the other with bloody consequences.

After the death of Drummond there is no real mention of George or Allie in the letters except for deep concern expressed by Mary, Burgess, and their father for the welfare of their brothers and sons. The Civil War tore this family apart as it did the nation. However, there is genealogical evidence of George and Burgess’ reconciliation after the war. Both George and Burgess lived and worked at Ft. Sill during the Indian Wars. After their time spent in Oklahoma both died in Dallas, TX. There is consolation in the fact that the brothers were able to reconcile post-war, yet it is still difficult to believe that after the loss and injury of over 1,000,000 Americans the country was unable to end discriminatory legislation based on race, color, religion, or national origin until a century later with the Civil Rights Movement.

You are invited to commemorate the Civil War on the 1st floor of the Harold B. Lee Library. This small collection has some gems that are worth seeing.

The Pink and Lily

Hanslip Fletcher sketch of the Pink and Lily Inn

The artist Hanslip Fletcher and his family frequented the inn and pub called the Pink and Lily, but Rupert Brooke made it famous. This little inn is located in the village of Lacey Green in the Chiltern Hills of southeast England. Rupert Brooke commemorates his time in Lacey Green and the hills with the poem “The Chilterns.” The L. Tom Perry Special Collections is fortunate enough to have acquired the Pink and Lily Inn’s visitors book dating from 1910-1938 with evidence of Rupert Brooke’s time spent there. (The call number is Vault MSS 379.)

Rupert Brooke is best known for his war sonnets from WWI. Before he enlisted with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve he spent some time at the inn with friends, including Edward Marsh, who eventually was knighted and served as Private Secretary to some of Britain’s most influential Prime Ministers. Brooke’s autograph appears on the pages of the visitors book in several locations (pp. 49 & 63). Though he brought the inn to fame, he was not the only author to grace the pages of the book. Ivor Gurney, English composer and poet, and Lance Sieveking, English writer and BBC radio and television producer, both visited the locale in 1920. Hanslip Fletcher’s art adorns these pages in several places, as he was a regular. These artists even inspired others to leave some of their own verse and art in its pages, including 12 year-old Bun Dowdall and his younger brother James (pp. 130-1). The visitors book also settles the debate as to where the name comes from. There is an article from the daily news glued into the book that explains that the name comes from a Miss Pink and a Mr. Lilly who were married and owned the property before the inn was built (p. 184).

Our rare book collection contains some early editions of Brooke’s poetry that are available to researchers. A student Reference Assistant will be more than happy to assist you with your search.

''An excellent place''

77th NY Volunteers’ Chaplain

The 77th New York Volunteers were mustered into service on Nov. 23, 1861 at Saratoga Springs for a term of 3 years; many of the men reenlisted and were eventually mustered out on June 27, 1865 in Washington. Some of the battles they participated in included Yorktown, Williamsburg, Antietam, Crapmton’s Gap, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg (though not closely engaged), Chantilly, the Wilderness Campaign, Spotsylvania, Fort Stedman, and Appomattox Courthouse. Perry Special Collections has acquired 81 photographs of people and soldiers from the Civil War, the majority of them are volunteers from the 77th. Norman Fox Jr. was their chaplain and through some research we have found out some interesting things about his life before and after the war.

Reverend Norman Fox Jr. was born, the third of seven children, in Glens Falls, NY, Feb 13, 1836 (the very same hometown as Jimmer Fredette). In 1840 his family moved to Ballston Spa in the Saratoga Springs area about 25 miles away. He grew up there while his father served as a Baptist pastor. By the age of 19 he had graduated from the University of Rochester and the Rochester Theological Seminary. He followed in his father’s footsteps and served as a Baptist minister for nearly six years in Whitehall, NY before becoming the chaplain for the 77th. He enlisted on Dec. 1, 1862 and was mustered out on Dec. 13, 1864 in Saratoga, NY. After the Civil War he went on to receive his Law degree from the University of Rochester and married Julia McKnight. The same year their first child, Arthur, was born she passed away (1869). He then married Jennie Bleeker and they had two children, Alice and Noel, before she too died in 1880. A decade later a census report from Morristown, NJ indicated that he was living there with two of his children, Alice and Noel, presumably practicing Law. In 1906 Norman married Martha Dimmick and they moved back to Saratoga Springs, NY where he died the following summer on June 23, 1907.

Norman Fox’s picture is available in the Civil War display case here in the Special Collections (1130 HBLL). As we continue to commemorate the historic events of the Civil War we will be posting more historical notes on some of the members of the 77th NY Volunteers and other items.

Samuel Guthrie: Discoverer of Chloroform

Over the course of nearly 10 years, BYU’s Special Collections acquired the original correspondence, patents, legal documents, genealogies, newspaper articles, obituaries, photos and historical accounts by or about Samuel Guthrie and other members of the Guthrie family. This collection includes his patents on chloroform and the percussion cap. The collection donor acquired these materials from a cousin, who was the son of Harriet Guthrie Chamberlain, Saumel’s daughter. In correspondence to his daughter through the month of February 1848, Dr. Guthrie talks of the success of his discovery and reveals to her that she was the first to ever be given chloroform for the relief of pain.

Samuel Guthrie's home in Sackett's Harbor, NY.

Guthrie’s work with chloroform and the percussion cap was conducted in the early 1830s. Chloroform was initially used as an anesthetic in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is no longer used as such because of its toxicity, causing cardiac arrhythmia. Modern applications include the use of chloroform as a solvent and in the production of a gas needed to create Teflon.

Feel free to come down to the first level of the Harold B. Lee Library to look at this gem of American History in our Archival Manuscript Collection. The call number is MSS 1600.

Civil War Items

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

  • But O heart! heart! heart!
    O the bleeding drops of red,
    Where on the deck my Captain lies,
    Fallen cold and dead.
  • Walt Whitman’s poem of 1865 commemorates the assassination of the Union President Abraham Lincoln just days after General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. John Wilkes Booth’s attempt to rally the Confederate cause was ineffective. Lincoln’s efforts to reunify the nation and abolish slavery would not be undone by the assassin. The L. Tom Perry Special Collections has amassed a great number of items pertaining to the Civil War and the abolition of slavery.

    The collection includes handwritten documents from a number of military leaders from both the Union and the Confederacy, including Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, P.G.T. Beauregard, William Tecumseh Sherman, Albert Pike, George A. Custer (more famous for the Indian Wars), and Ambrose Everett Burnside. We also have newspapers, photos, and correspondence from various families during the Civil War. We also own many photographs of members of the 77th New York Volunteer Infantry, some of which are on display as you enter the Special Collections (1130 HBLL).

    The Library has many publications from abolitionist authors, including Louisa May Alcott and Frederick Douglass. We have many rare editions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin including a first edition. We also have a first edition of Frederick Douglass’ autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. After the Civil War there were hundreds of interviews of former slaves conducted. These interviews were part of the Federal Writer’s Project in the 1930s. The library has a microfilm collection of nearly 400 of these interviews documenting life as a slave, the war, and emancipation.

    As we look back 150 years to the events of the Civil War we will be featuring materials from our collections that document this decisive time. We hope you’ll stop by periodically to see our small exhibit of Civil War items. We are located on the first floor of the Harold B. Lee Library.

    Gutenberg Bible

    “In the cultural history of mankind there is no event even approaching in importance the invention of printing with movable types. It would require an extensive volume to set forth even in outline the far-reaching effects of this invention in every field of human enterprise and experience, or to describe its results in the liberation of the human spirit from the fetters of ignorance and superstition” (McMurtrie 136).

    Johann Gutenberg

    Johann Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press is extolled in Douglas McMurtrie’s work, The Book: The Story of Printing and Bookmaking. Indeed this invention has changed the world. It allowed for the spread of information quickly and inexpensively. The idea of using separate type was not a novel one, movable metal type was used in printing in Korea in the fourteenth century. Printing with movable wood blocks even predates this by several centuries in China. This in no way should undercut the value of Gutenberg’s invention because he was able to build the first machine that was capable of incorporating movable type on a much larger scale. The importance of his invention was recognized by his contemporaries who tried to take the credit and a share of the profits he would surely garner. There were three lawsuits brought by his peers that corroborate his ownership in the production of the press: the Strasbourg lawsuit of 1439, the Fust lawsuit of 1455 and the Humery quittance of 1468 (see chapter 10 of McMurtrie’s book for more information on the lawsuits).

    Our copy of the Gutenberg Bible.

    Gutenberg’s 42-line Bible of 1455 is considered to be the first European printed book. L. Tom Perry Special Collections is fortunate enough to have a Gutenberg Cooper Square Facsimile available for viewing by the general public. This facsimile was made in 1961 and features a 15th Century style pigskin binding. Feel free to come see this beautiful reproduction in the reading room. A Reference Assistant will be more than happy to help you.

    Pigskin binding.

    Also, if you are interested in the history of printing you can schedule a presentation with the Reception Desk that includes a leaf from an original Gutenberg Bible. The number is (801) 422-3514.

    Decoration similar to illuminated manuscript.

    Miniature Book Exhibit

    Need a really small break from your studies? Like miniatures? Then come see the Miniature Book Exhibit in Special Collections. See whole miniature libraries, a tiny-but-readable (barely) Bible, dollhouse-sized books and magazines, ultra-portable dictionaries, and even cuneiform tablets. The exhibit will be up through January 30th, and Special Collections is open 8am-9pm Mon-Thu, 8-6 Fri, and 10-6 Saturdays.

    In Honorable Remembrance: Thomas L. Kane and the Latter-day Saints

    BYU’s L. Tom Perry Special Collections has been gathering Thomas L. Kane family papers into its collections for many years. We now have the largest collection of Thomas L. Kane manuscripts in the world (regarding Kane’s life and work see For this Exhibit, we are drawing from this rich archive original manuscripts, rare books, and photographs that document Kane’s relationship with the Latter-day Saints.

    We also have arranged a series of monthly lectures by various scholars that focus on some aspect of Kane’s relationship with the Latter-day Saints. We hope that you will join us this coming Wednesday at 3 pm in the HBLL Auditorium for the Kane Lecture by William P. MacKinnon, a recognized authority on the Utah War, who will address the topic of “Thomas L. Kane and the Utah War”, after which we will have a reception and the official opening of the Kane Exhibit in Special Collections.

    Kane, who never joined the LDS Church, was given a Patriarchal Blessing by John Smith, the Church Patriarch, in September 1846, in which he was blessed to live a long life (he was very ill), would marry and have children (he was then a confirmed bachelor), and would be held in honorable remembrance by the Latter-day Saints for his efforts to assist and defend them (a copy of the original blessing will be on display). Our exhibit seeks to continue this promised blessing, to “honorably remember” him. We invite you and your students to learn more about this remarkable man and to help pass this knowledge on to the next generation.

    Follow Us on Social Media

    Special Collections Events

    Special Collections RSS

    Catalog Search

    Search the HBLL catalog:

    Advanced Search

    Manuscript Search

    Search finding aids for selected manuscript collections.

    Digital Collections Search

    Search for digitized content from our collections.