Collecting Nativity Scenes

Many people collect different types of Christmas decorations from ornaments to nativity sets. Many nativity sets are made in factories but reflect the art of the country. Others are made with natural materials by hand.Here is a Polynesian nativity made of Polynesian materials.

Often when you think of Nativity Scenes from Egypt, you think of olive wood.  However, these two nativity sets are carved from camel bones. 

While Egypt is a Muslim country they cater to the tourist and nativities are easily available. However, Mali in West Africa is a Muslim country where if you want a Nativity you must pay a carver to custom make it. This is a large set with many animals as part of it. My daughter has done extensive work in Mali and knew a man who was acquainted with a local carver and was able to get this set made for me.

A Christmas Welcome to the Saviour Guest

Special Collections’ latest exhibit features Christmas tales and poems from the 19th century. It brings together items from across our major collecting areas: the Americana, Victorian, Rare American Literature, Fine Press, and Literary Manuscripts collections. This is a great chance to see the breadth of our literature collections—from a first edition of A Christmas Carol to poetry written in pioneer-era Utah—and of course, to celebrate the holiday season! “A Christmas Welcome to the Saviour Guest” was curated by Special Collections’ fall undergraduate interns.

Victorian Leisure: Sports

Before the Victorian period, leisure time (and the means to pursue recreation) was largely something only the upper classes could afford. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, the middle class was able to pursue recreation — and as a group, they wanted their leisure activities to be moral, respectable, and productive. The Victorian middle class was interested in sports, especially since they helped develop discipline, teamwork, and physical strength. They established sporting clubs, parks, and other institutions which promoted recreation and athletics. Below are a sample of sporting books from the Victorian Collection from the second half of the nineteenth century, promoting both traditional sports like hunting and new activities like bicycling!




Crochenit baby booties

Barbara Lewis with painting she did.

I’ve written before about the housewifery project that I am working on.  I had an interesting interview recently with the mother of 11 children, Barbara Lewis.  She is well-organized and talented.  She never had all 11 at home since they spanned a 25 year age group.  After we had  our interview, she showed me some of the creative things that she and her family had done over the years. Not all of these would qualify as folklore except for the fact that she taught herself or learned one-on-one.

Painting in fruit basket.

Family tree created by Barbara’s daughter.

History of the Doctrine and Covenants exhibit

A new exhibit titled “History of Doctrine and Covenants, 1833-1921” is on display now in L. Tom Perry Special Collections. This exhibit takes the viewer through the history of the Doctrine and Covenants, from handwritten manuscripts to being published in book form in 1835. Later editions with significant additions or deletions are also displayed, including the 1844 Nauvoo edition (added the section on the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith), the 1879 edition (footnotes added by Orson Pratt), and the 1921 edition (removed the Lectures on Faith, which had been there since 1835). Also shown is an 1835 letter from Oliver Cowdery to Newel K. Whitney regarding original copies of a revelation, and James E. Talmage’s journal where he documents revisions he was asked to make in 1921 as part of the Doctrine and Covenants Committee.

This exhibit will be on display in the Reading Room in Special Collections until the end of 2017. Come see this new exhibit and learn more about this significant book of modern day scripture!

Happy Reformation Day!

Resolutionis disputationum de indulge[n]tiarum virtute, 1518. Call number: Vault Collection 284.1 L97d 1518

October 31, 2017 marks exactly 500 years since Martin Luther sent his 95 theses to the Archbishop of Mainz (and likely posted them to the door of the local church in Wittenberg). The theses were rapidly printed and reprinted and spread across Germany over the following months. Special Collections owns a copy of one of the earliest printed versions of the theses, a Latin-language pamphlet edition printed by Johann Rhau-Grunenberg in Wittenberg in 1518. It will be featured in a major library exhibit celebrating the Reformation next spring!

Presidents’ Homes

As noted in the Daily Herald, for many years the central neighborhoods of Provo were home to most of the faculty. The first principal of the Academy, Warren Dusenberry, lived in a two-story concrete house across from the Provo Tabernacle at what is now the southeast corner of 100 South and University Avenue. The location is now the site of the Utah County Health Department building.

According to Karl G. Maeser’s son Reinhard, when the family moved to Provo in August 1876 they first lived at the Lucy Kimball home at the corner of 100 North and University Avenue, before moving to an adobe home on 200 East. In the 1880s, after the death of Reinhard’s wife Mary, the Maesers moved into a larger brick home on the southeast corner of 200 North and 200 East. This home was later heavily renovated, but still remains visible today.

Benjamin Cluff, Jr., who succeeded Maeser in 1892, lived with his wife Mary a little more than a block from Academy Square at 688 N. 200 East. A one-story brick home at the southeast corner of 200 East and 700 North, the home no longer exists having been replaced by a parking lot.

When George H. Brimhall became president of Brigham Young University in 1903, he was living in a one-story brick home at 356 N. 100 West. This residence no longer exists, but by 1911 the Brimhall family were living in what is now known as the John R. Twelves House at 287 E. 100 North. He remained in this two-floor brick home throughout his presidency, and brought his replacement Franklin S. Harris into the house in 1921. Brimhall would eventually move into a smaller, newly-constructed home on the north end of the property (143 N. 300 East) the following year, where he remained until his death in 1932. Both homes still exist on the site.

Then, in 1928 the Harris family moved into what is now known as the Former President’s Home. Located on the southwest edge of the current campus, it was originally constructed for Henry Peterson around 1909. The home was later purchased by the university in 1923 and remodeled and expanded in a Tudor style. From 1928 until the end of the Holland Administration, the building was then used to house the university president and his family. Since the end of the Holland Administration, the building has housed the university Visitor’s Center (1990-2008) and Graduate Studies (2008-present).

Joseph Hawkins papers – Mormon Missouri War

Haun’s Mill Massacre – painting by C.C.A. Christensen

In honor of those who lost their lives during the Haun’s Mill Massacre 179 years ago today, L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a new digitized collection: Joseph Hawkins papers (Vault MSS 724). This collection includes six items relating to Joseph Hawkins’ role in the Mormon War in Missouri. From 1838-1839, Hawkins held the rank of a colonel in the Missouri Militia, serving as commander of the Gasconade County Volunteers. His papers includes original handwritten and signed letters from Missouri Governor Lilburn W. Boggs, Adjutant General B. M. Lisle, and Brigadier General Green White, which contain military orders to Hawkins. Also includes a printed general order (original was removed to print collection) by Lilburn W. Boggs and B. M. Lisle; and, a newspaper article on Joseph Hawkins from a 1924 Missouri newspaper.

Lilburn W. Boggs (1796-1860), sixth governor of Missouri from 1836-1840

The letter from Governor Boggs is of particular interest. In it Boggs discusses reports he had received about actions the Mormons had taken in Daviess County, including driving citizens from their homes, burning their houses, destroying their property, and “have reduced to ashes the town of Gallatin, the county seat of Davis [sic] County, including the clerk’s office, post office, and the public records.” He indicates citizens requesting protection, and ordered Hawkins to raise a militia to assist. This letter was written October 26, 1838, the day prior to Boggs issuing the “Extermination Order.” It provides insight into Boggs’ mindset with he issued this infamous order and later actions taken by him towards the Mormons, leading to their eventual expulsion from Missouri.

When Sherlock Holmes Retired

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s final collection of Sherlock Holmes stories turns a century old this week! Published 22 October 1917, His Last Bow: Some Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes includes stories which appeared in The Strand magazine in the first decade of the 20th century, including “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” and “The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax.” It also contains the 1917 title story, in which Holmes and Watson outwit a German spy ring on the eve of World War I, and in which Holmes announces his retirement. BYU’s copy is signed by the author, but lacks the original dust jacket.

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