A. Harrison III
$10 million Harrison
gift to establish American history institute at library
David A. Harrison III of Hopewell has pledged $10 million to the
to establish an institute for the study of American history, literature
and culture, officials announced Sept. 24. The institute will
draw upon the library's extensive holdings of American manuscripts,
rare books and documents and will be part of a new library complex
on the University's Central Grounds.
David A. Harrison III Institute will encompass a spacious exhibition
gallery, study areas for visiting scholars and a seminar room
for lectures and classes. It will be housed in a new 65,000-square-foot
facility that also will contain the Albert H. Small Special Collections
"The University is steward to a remarkable archive of American
rare books and manuscripts that define who we are as a diverse
and thriving culture," said University President John T.
Casteen III. "David Harrison's extraordinary gift enables
us to present these materials to the public in meaningful and
enlightening ways, and to make them readily accessible to scholars
here and from around the world."
gift is one of the largest received in the Campaign for the University
of Virginia, which is pursuing a goal of $1 billion. Harrison,
who graduated from the College
of Arts & Sciences in 1939 and from the Law
School in 1941, is on the Campaign Executive Committee and
has been one of the campaign's most generous participants. In
addition to his new commitment for the University Library, he
has provided major gifts for such areas as law, medicine, historical
archaeology and athletics. The Law School's expanded complex,
the David A. Harrison III Law Grounds, was named in recognition
of his support. He funded the football stadium's new grass surface,
which has been named David A. Harrison III Field, and a new artificial-turf
playing field near University Hall.
The Harrison Institute will display examples from the wealth of
Americana in the University Library. These holdings include such
rare items as original editions of accounts by early explorers,
among them Amerigo Vespucci and Captain John Smith; the first
Bible published in the New World, written in Algonquin for the
"propagation of the Gospel amongst the Indians in New England";
plantation records of early Virginia families; and the first printing
of the Declaration of Independence. The University's Tracy McGregor
Library is prized for its holdings in American history, and the
Clifton Waller Barrett Library is considered the world's preeminent
collection of American literature.
the literary manuscripts in the University's archives are Walt
Whitman's Leaves of Grass, Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage,
Mark Twain's The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,
and numerous works by William Faulkner, who became the University's
first writer-in-residence in 1957. Recently added to the American
collections are the letters of John Dos Passos, contributed by
the author's widow.
"In addition to providing an attractive, climate-controlled
setting where we can display these materials safely and prominently,
the new building will incorporate advanced information technology
that will link our resources with those of other libraries around
the world," said University Librarian Karin Wittenborg. "The
institute created with this exceptional gift will allow us to
use our collections in new and imaginative ways to help the public
and the scholarly community understand our historical and cultural
development as a nation."
complement the books, documents and manuscripts on display, the
institute will mount exhibitions of artifacts from archaeological
excavations in Virginia, including those conducted at Flowerdew
Hundred, the historic James River plantation owned by David Harrison.
Granted to Virginia's first governor, Sir George Yeardly, in 1617,
Flowerdew Hundred has been the subject of intensive archaeological
studies over the past 30 years and is now the site of a museum
devoted to the plantation's rich history.
$10 million gift allows the University to go forward with construction
of the $26 million library complex, which is being financed with
a combination of state support and private contributions. Other
donors include U.Va. alumnus and Washington real estate developer
Albert H. Small, a member of the University's Board of Visitors
who owns one of the leading privately held collections of letters
and documents related to the nation's founders. Although the new
gift completes funding for the library building, the University
will continue to seek philanthropic support for the Harrison Institute's
programs and exhibitions and for the continued development of
the special collections.
for the building is expected to take place in mid-2000. Ornamented
with Tuscan columns, arched windows and other neo-classical details,
the building is being designed by Hartman-Cox Architects to blend
with the Jeffersonian style of neighboring structures. It will
be built on the site now occupied by Miller Hall, which will be
removed. The University's undergraduate
admissions office, currently housed in Miller Hall, will move
to newly renovated space in Peabody Hall.