Historic Clothing and Classic Literature

If you’re a fan of 19th and early 20th century literature, you won’t want to miss Special Collections’ newest reading room exhibit! “A Century of Style: Historic Clothing and Classic Literature” pairs rare editions from the The L. Tom Perry Special Collections with original pieces from BYU’s Historic Clothing Collection, which is now housed in the library. Come see the styles that Jane Eyre, Jo March, or Jay Gatsby might have worn alongside some of their earliest appearances in print! The exhibit will be on display in the reading room through the end of October 2019.

First Vision exhibit opening and lecture by Steve Harper

The year 2020 marks a significant anniversary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Church remembers the sacred experience of the young boy prophet, Joseph Smith, in what is now referred to as the Sacred Grove in upstate New York. Joseph Smith’s First Vision of God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ–the event that marks the beginning of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ–occurred 200 years ago this coming Spring 2020.  L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce a new exhibit titled “‘A Pillar of Light’: Celebrating 200 Years of the First Vision” that commemorates the bicentennial of this event next spring.  The exhibit is in the 1st floor exhibit gallery of the HBLL, just inside Special Collections, and will be up until the end of June 2020.  This exhibit allows viewers to explore the historical context of this event; the different historical accounts that have been recorded by Joseph Smith and others; the acquisition of the land on which the Sacred Grove is believed to have been; and how this event has been received both by scholars, artists, and others over the past 200 years.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the library will be hosting a small lecture series over the next few months on various aspects of the First Vision. This coming Thursday, September 12, at 2:00pm in the library auditorium, Steve Harper, Church History and Doctrine professor and BYU Studies Editor-in-Chief, will deliver a lecture entitled, “Putting the First Vision in the Pensieve, or How Joseph Remembered”. Dr. Harper will share some thoughts from his new book First Vision: Memory and Mormon Origins. A book signing will follow.

We hope that you will come see this new exhibit and attend this lecture.  It promises to be a great experience!

Albert, Prince Consort of Queen Victoria

An original charcoal portrait of Prince Albert, ca. 1845, with Windsor Castle in the background. It has been attributed to artist Charles Turner. (VMSS 355, folder OS 4)

Today marks the 200th anniversary of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Prince Consort of Queen Victoria. Albert was the younger son of Ernest, ruler of the German state of Saxe-Coberg-Gotha; Victoria was his first cousin. They married in 1840.

As a foreigner, Albert was initially viewed with suspicion by the British public as well as the political establishment. However, opposition cooled as Albert began to take on a more public-facing role during Victoria’s first pregnancy. His influence grew alongside their family, which eventually grew to include eight children. Though he felt constrained by the role of prince consort, Victoria depended on him heavily for emotional support and to handle the administrative responsibilities of the monarchy. He handled the finances of the royal household and cultivated a strong sense of morals and religiosity which are still associated with the Victorian period today.

Albert’s largest public achievement was perhaps the Great Exhibition of 1851. As president of the Society of Arts, he helped to promote and organize an international exhibition of industrial arts — the first world’s fair — which included the construction of a huge glass and iron building in London’s Hyde Park to house the over 13,000 exhibitors.

When Albert died in December 1861 after a protracted illness, Victoria was devastated. She avoided public appearances for several years and wore black in mourning for the rest of her life. Throughout the decade after Albert’s death, Victoria authorized many public tributes for him, including the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park, The Royal Albert Hall, and official biographies like Charles Grey’s The Early Years of His Royal Highness, the Prince Consort, compiled under the direction of Her Majesty the Queen (1867). The library owns two specially-bound presentation copies of this book, one of which is shown here.


Moby-Dick Remixed: Celebrating Herman Melville’s 200th Birthday

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Herman Melville! The Lee Library is celebrating by highlighting some amazing versions of his best-known work, Moby-Dick, including a screening of the 1956 film starring Gregory Peck. Besides film and television adaptations, Moby-Dick has inspired fine art, comic art, children’s literature, sci-fi, and even an opera. You can see a display of selected adaptations and artwork, along with a first edition of the novel, in the Special Collections exhibit Moby-Dick Remixed. The exhibit will be on display in the Special Collections lobby all through the month of August.

The original 1836 Warren Ferris map now digitized!

Warren Ferris’s 1836 “Map of the Northwest Fur Country”

If you are making your plans to celebrate Pioneer Day, if you live in Utah, or just want to hear stories of hidden treasures, this one is for you!

Now, you may be thinking, “Wait!  You have treasure maps in Special Collections!”  Well…not exactly.  But some of our treasurers are maps, and some of them used to be hidden from the world, often for decades.  Such is the case of the original 1836 Warren Ferris map, which Ferris titled “Map of the Northwest Fur Country.”  Warren Ferris was one of many trappers, or mountain men, who traversed the Northern and Central Rocky Mountains in the 1820s and 1830s in search for beaver and other sources of fur. Through their travels across these wilderness areas, these men became intimately familiar with the topography of the land, and some, like Ferris, even created maps of the area. While the maps were done with rudimentary means, many were still quite detailed and accurate, to an extent.

In 1835 and 1836, Warren Ferris returned from a five-year sojourn as a trapper in the Rocky Mountains, and decided to draw, by hand, a map of a major portion of a largely unsettled portion of the West, with what would later be Utah at the center.  The map spans from the eastern slopes of the Colorado Rockies and extend west to include the junction of the Snake and Salmon Rivers, now in Idaho. It extends from the upper Missouri River down to the Grand Canyon area. Ferris intended to publish the map along with the journal that he had kept during those years. Most of the journal ended up being published through a small weekly publication out of Buffalo, New York, called the Western Literary Messenger. The map, however, was not published with it, and remained unseen by the public until the publication of Life in the Rocky Mountains in 1940 by Fred A. Rosenstock’s Old West Publishing Company out of Denver, which included Ferris’s journal from 1830-1835 in one publication for the first time.  Even then, it only included a copy of the map. So, where was the original?

In the process of creating this publication, the original map had come into the possession of Rosenstock, a collector of documents and books related to Western Americana, and owned Bargain Book Store in Denver. This map was part of a large collection of documents related to Warren Ferris and his family. This collection was purchased from Rosenstock by BYU’s Lee Library in 1982. It is unclear if those who purchased this collection knew what was in the collection at the time. But, the story goes that when going through the collection in Denver, there was a seemingly insignificant paper tube that was near the rest of the collection. When asked if this went with the collection, the Rosenstock staff assumed so, and it went with the papers to BYU. It was not until later that the tube was opened, and much to the surprise and delight of whoever made the discovery, inside was a beautifully preserved, hand-drawn map of the inter-mountain west–the original 1836 Warren Ferris map!  This map had barely seen the light of day since it was created in 1836, and a copy of it had only been released to the public about 40 years before.

Since it’s discovery, the map has been thoroughly examined, and even a Master’s thesis has been written on it. But all who have seen it agree that it is undoubtedly the best preserved fur trade map around, and the only existing map from the rendezvous era!  It provides amazing details of the rivers and lakes of the region, including some place names, often provided by Ferris himself. Included are early descriptions of the area that is now Yellowstone National Park. Ferris is actually thought to be the

first “tourist” to visit this area, doing so under the guidance of some local Native tribesmen. Much of the area can easily be identified today, although the map may not be to scale or accurate as we see today. More than anything else, it provides a window into the world of mountain men, allowing us to see this region through their eyes.

And, now, this map is available for the world to see online for all to explore!  To view this map, click on the linked text to the right, or go to the following website: https://cdm15999.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15999coll31/id/14973.

Maybe this week you can spend some time trying to find features of this area of that you know and love, and get a sense for what it may have been like to see this area as a mountain men, more than a decade before Brigham Young and his pioneer wagon train entered the Salt Lake Valley.

New acquisitions: Printing proofs for the Kelmscott Chaucer

Special Collections recently acquired five printing proofs of wood engravings from William Morris’ masterpiece, the 1896 Works of Chaucer. The illustrations were designed by Victorian artist Edward Burne-Jones, and then would have been transferred to blocks of wood by Robert Catterson-Smith and then engraved by William Harcourt Hopper. These proofs would have been created as drafts of creating and printing the entire page composition, which includes the illustration, woodblock borders, and type. The proof shown here corresponds to page 452 of the Chaucer, from “The House of Fame.” The proof has been initialed by Burne-Jones and includes small penciled comments about the image in the margins. The proofs are available for research in the Special Collections reading room, as is our copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer and other works from the Kelmscott Press.

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

This week in 1519, Charles, King of Spain and Duke of Burgundy, was elected Holy Roman Emperor. Charles V succeeded his paternal grandfather Maximilian I (his maternal grandparents were Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain). Charles’ reign saw immense change across Europe, including the launch of the Protestant Reformation, major political and religious conflicts, and the Spanish conquest of the Aztec and Inca empires.

Special Collections owns a number of important works related to Charles V and his reign, including printed histories, laws, treaties, and a number of manuscripts and correspondence issued by the emperor or his government. This letter (Call number: VMSS 247), which is dated 9 March 1521, was written from Charles V to Rodrigo Ponce de León, Duke of Arcos. It mentions the Duke’s work to quell tensions in Seville, Spain during the Revolt of the Comuneros, a 1520-1521 uprising against Charles’ rule that was mostly confined to the region of Castile.

The Giunti and the Medici

As part of the History of Printing and Renaissance/Reformation Collections, Special Collections has acquired numerous examples of the work of the Giunti family, a prominent Italian printing dynasty of the 15th and 16th centuries. The family’s printing business extended across Europe, with presses in Venice, Florence, and Lyon and a book distribution network which spread from Spain to Germany. In Florence, the Giunti press was closely tied to the ruling Medici family, and printed many pamphlets and laws issued by the duchy. The law pictured here was issued by Grand Duke Cosimo I de Medici, who was born this day five hundred years ago. The portrait of Cosimo, also printed by the Giunti, comes from a pamphlet commemorating his funeral in 1574.




Julia Ward Howe

May 27 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of American writer and activist Julia Ward Howe. Howe is perhaps best remembered today as the author of “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” but during her lifetime, she was acclaimed as a poet, lecturer, abolitionist, and advocate for the rights of women. She helped to found several women’s suffrage organizations and other clubs and advocacy groups.

Shown here is a commemorative item (VMSS 537) celebrating Howe’s birthday and the founding of the New England Women’s Club, which Howe helped to establish in May 1868. Howe has signed it and addressed it to Mrs. Mary J. Judah. The Greek inscription lauds Howe as a “Poetess/Philosopher/Philanthropist.”


Gifts from Queen Victoria

Friday, May 24, 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria. The Victorian Collection here at L. Tom Perry Special Collections contains a wealth of material about the Queen and her life, as well as a number of documents signed and written by Victoria herself. In honor of her birthday, we’re sharing a gallery of books from the collection once given by the Queen as gifts! Details about these items can be found in the bibliography of the David Magee Collection — just search on Victoria’s name.

Recent Posts