A. Harrison III To Establish Institute For Study Of American History,
Literature And Culture
Sept. 24, 1999 -- University of Virginia alumnus
David A. Harrison III of Hopewell, Va., has pledged $10 million
to the University Library
to establish an institute for the study of American history, literature
and culture. The institute will draw on 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, as it will be called, 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 Library. A short distance from the
University's Jeffersonian buildings, the institute and its exhibitions
are expected to attract many of the tens of thousands of visitors
who tour the University each year. It also will offer comfortable
work areas for the thousands of scholars who annually conduct research
in the special collections.
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 University's 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 the new artificial-turf playing field
used by the women's lacrosse and field hockey teams.
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
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 and served as a consultant for the University Library. Recently
added to the American collections are the letters of John Dos Passos,
contributed by the author's widow.
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
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.
Harrison Institute's archaeological displays, explained Wittenborg,
will give visitors a fuller picture of the Commonwealth's role in
the nation's history. "The printed word tells only part of the story,"
she said. "By adding an archaeological component to the Harrison
Institute's exhibitions, we will provide a sense of the day-to-day
life of Americans from pre-colonial times through the Civil War."
$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 University alumnus and Washington, D.C., 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
history of this country, more than any other on Earth, is encapsulated
in words," observed Edward L. Ayers, the Hugh P. Kelly Professor
of History and a leading authority on the American South during
the Civil War and Reconstruction. "Documents, maps, pamphlets, books,
sermons, and newspapers not only express but embody the ideals and
struggles of the American people over the last four hundred years.
There could be no better monument to American culture than an institute
that will allow visitors to see these essential pieces of our past
in such an intimate way."
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 next door to a newly renovated Peabody
D. Sweeney, Vice President for Development,
and Karin Wittenborg, University Librarian, will be available for
further comments. Sweeney can be reached at (804) 924-1008; Wittenborg
can be reached at (804) 924-7849.
Carol Wood, (804) 924-6189