keepsakes evoke stories of Hoos past
things you might find if you could rummage through U.Va.'s collective
attic -- a basketball signed by Dawn Staley, a fragment of a Corinthian
capital from the Rotunda before the 1895 fire and a metal crown
with feet on it worn by members of the Hot Foot Society (later renamed
IMP), as well as old photographs, letters, jewelry and military
paraphernalia -- are currently on display in Alderman Library's
Special Collections department.
the Hoos in Hooville: 175 Years of Life at the University of Virginia"
focuses on six themes: the University's founding, its faculty,
its involvement in various wars, its traditions, its sports history
and its famous figures.
there were mud baths, there were tennis courts in Madison Bowl,
exhibit, which runs through Oct. 31, represents "a rare opportunity
to see objects that are normally stored in cardboard boxes and are
only available if you know what to ask for," said Ann Southwell,
manuscripts cataloger in Special Collections.
are 6 million manuscripts in the archives, so the most challenging
aspect of putting together the exhibit was deciding what to include,
said Jeanne Pardee, assistant University archivist. "U.Va.
has had 25 newspapers, but we only had space to display two of them,"
she said. "Each category of the exhibit could've been an exhibit
Fredson Bowers came to the English department in 1936 and ended
up as chairman, building the department into one of the country's
best. He also became a pre-eminent authority on bibliographical
analysis, founding and editing Studies in Bibliography for more
than 40 years. At the same time he pursued several hobbies,
such as writing weekly music reviews for the Richmond Times-Dispatch
and judging Irish wolfhound shows, like this one in 1954.
section on "Fabled Faculty" includes English professor
Fredson Bowers' copy of Shakespeare, its margins covered with pencilled
notes, and an 1832 party invitation from student Socrates Maupin,
who returned in 1853 to become a chemistry professor and who was
chair of the faculty during the difficult years of war and reconstruction.
the section on U.Va. student, faculty and staff participation in
various wars, memorabilia from the students who fought in the Civil
War include a diary open to a description of the battle of Cold
Harbor, and a locket filled with pressed verbena blossoms that Alice
Ray of Lexington, Miss., gave to William C. Holmes before he went
off to fight. Holmes later gave the locket to the University so
that "the generations to come on viewing it will know that
in that cruel age of war, there was a star, brighter than any in
the galaxy -- 'woman's tenderness.'"
lost the use of his right arm in the war, Holmes teamed up with
George L. Christian, who had lost one foot and half of another,
when they resumed their studies at U.Va. Holmes helped Christian
walk to classes and Christian helped Holmes with note taking. Holmes
later became a physician in Texas; Christian, a judge in Virginia.
this century's wars are a bugle used for military training on Grounds
in 1917 and a bullet-pocked Japanese field radio brought back from
World War II by John Cook Wyllie, a U.Va. curator of rare books
and manuscripts who drove ambulances for the British in the Middle
in early football games wasn't that different from going to war,
according to a letter in the sports section of the exhibit.
Archer Christian, a first-year halfback, died of a concussion he
suffered while playing Nov. 13, 1909, John Mosby wrote to the University
arguing that football should be removed from the curriculum, noting
that, "The very fact that a university surgeon went with the
team shows that they knew they were going to war." President
Edwin A. Alderman didn't follow Mosby's advice, but he did institute
reforms in the game in the next year.
football was tamed, spirited drinking seems to have been a U.Va.
tradition from the start. In an 1838 letter in the exhibit, Richard
Gooch tells his father that Christmas was a "frolicsome"
season, a time of "unrivalled dissipation, like a sea in a
storm after long calm."
might have altered his notion of "unrivalled," had he
been able to see a 1976 photograph of mud-covered students wrestling
in Mad Bowl during one of the University's last Easters celebrations,
also on display in the section on traditions. Accompanying the photo
are an Easters T-shirt on loan from recently retired Dean of Students
Robert T. Canevari, along with a letter written to Canevari after
he banned Easters in 1982, chastising him for trying "to eliminate
all fun for students."
even Prohibition had managed to do that: the exhibit features a
copy of Karl Shapirošs book, The Younger Son, where he writes of
moonshiners coming to the door of his brotheršs Lawn room selling
whiskey in Mason jars in the early 1930s.
drinking is only one of many traditions the University has tried
to transform over the years. Others include the gender and color
barriers to admission, changed with much more successful results.
exhibit includes a letter from Alice Jackson, a black woman who
applied to U.Va. in 1935. Having heard from the rector that she
had been rejected because she was "a Negro, and for other good
and sufficient reasons,"Jackson wrote back requesting that
he "itemize" those reasons.
a great weight of tradition that sometimes became almost a burden
and prevented the University from moving forward," Southwell
said. "It took lawsuits for blacks and women to be admitted
was a long struggle to democratize the University," she added,
pointing to a photograph of Walter Ridley, the first African-American
graduate to walk down the Lawn in 1953, when he earned a doctorate
photo represents only one of many tradition-changing triumphs on
display. Another shows Mary Slaughter in tennis whites a year later,
the first woman to participate officially on a U.Va. athletic team
in 1954. Even a brief tour of the exhibit can give viewers a sense
of how the University has changed and grown -- not just in size
-- over the years.