The French Book of Hours: Tradition and Innovation – An Exhibit at the Southwest Collection

funeral service

We love our exhibits here at the Southwest Collection, and so we’ve installed a new one showcasing items from our Rare Books Collection! Entitled “The French Book of Hours: Tradition and Innovation,” it displays the titular volumes of personal devotion that divided and classified time according to the liturgical cycles of the medieval church. Of course, the displayed items are replicas–the originals are far too valuable to expose to damaging UV light for any length of time. Even so, they’re a sight to behold.

Books of Hours were popular for several centuries, and were commissioned by and created for specific lay owners. Each is therefore unique, especially in regard to their artwork.  Still, many contained common elements, which often included the Office of the Dead. Two of the Books of Hours we have on display were created for Jean, Duc de Berry (1340-1416): the Grandes Heures (1409) and the Très Riches Heures (begun ca. 1412, finished ca. 1489), and it is their examples of the Office of the Dead upon which we’re focusing here.

Consisting of a collection of the church’s official prayers, the Office of the Dead seldom contains more than one illustration. Rather, it traditionally depicts a funeral service in which a priest or some other religious figure recites prayers over the dead. The image at the beginning of this blog comes from the Très Riches Heures, and depicts twelve monks seated around a coffin beneath a table decorated with the Duc de Berry’s coat of arms. The woman standing in the doorway may not be simply a nun, but the Duchesse de Berry herself mourning the death of her husband.

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The images above and below are armorial images of a wounded swan and a bear holding the Duc de Berry’s flag. They are embedded within the border of the page of the funeral service in the Grandes Heures. Occurring in the context of the Office of the Dead, they could be homages to the early deaths of the Duke’s sons.

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angle view into church

Here is another image from the Grandes Heures: an illustration of the Mass for All Souls. It is representative of the traditional depictions of the Office of the Dead, in this case providing a view into an interior where monks pray over a coffin covered in black cloth.

DEATH_Take_all

The page above is replete with illustrations of historical and liturgical events. But what would a one of these pages be without the customary representation of death? Below the central miniature, which contains a corpse in an open casket, is a scene intended to warn the viewer that death will eventually take us all. That’s heavy stuff, but because this was illuminated in the years not long after repeated visitations by the Black Death, this was not an uncommon motif.

Corpses

This final illustration is a unique departure from the conventional images more commonly accompanying the Offices of the Dead. For one thing, it depicts an exterior burial scene, complete with excavated and partially decomposed corpses. It is possible that this image represents Duc de Berry’s personal relationship with death.

Our Rare Books collection is impressive, and these Books of Hours are among some of its most fascinating. If you’d like to see some of our other, similar materials, why don’t you stop on by and let our Reference Staff see what they can arrange for you? At least head over and check out the exhibit! It’s one-of-a-kind.

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National College Baseball Hall of Fame – 2016 Roster!

Augie G

Since 2004 the Southwest Collection (SWC) has served as the repository for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame (NCBHoF) on behalf of the College Baseball Foundation. Around July 4th every year, we are fortunate enough to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and better yet, accept archival items that chronicle the event as well as the history of college baseball. They range from scrapbooks, newspapers, and photographs,  to videos and media guides. Our favorites are the artifacts: signed balls, caps, bat, uniforms…even a surprising number of cleats. Perhaps most impressive, the SWC downloads and archives nearly 700 emails per day during each baseball season from over 200 Division I and other schools.

Robt Braddy

Tom Paciorek

As we’ve mentioned before, recording oral histories with Hall of Fame inductees, as well as current NCAA baseball award winners, also helps the SWC preserves college baseball’s history. Nearly 100 oral histories have been conducted with players and their families, all added to our massive oral history collection currently comprised of thousands of interviews on sports as well as a host of other topics.

JD DrewRick Monday

The 2016 Hall of Fame induction festivities will occur on Saturday, July 2nd, at the “College Baseball Night of Champions.” 2016 will see the induction of eight members:

  • Augie Garrido, championship coach of the University of Texas and Cal State Fullerton
  • Bob Braddy, coach of Jackson State University for 28 years
  • Tommy Thomas, coach of Valdosta State University for 39 years
  • Tom Paciorek of the University of Houston
  • J. D. Drew of Florida State University
  • Rick Monday of Arizona State University
  • Matt DeSalvo of Marietta College

Hall of Famers’ careers are not the only ones celebrated. College baseball’s finest young athletes receive awards for their on-the-field excellence. The 2016 season’s award winners will be announced at the televised Night of Champions dinner on Monday evening, but can also be found on the Hall of Fame’s website for those who can’t attend. They are also commemorated on limited-edition posters and baseball cards produced by the Southwest Collection’s exhibit preparator Lynn Stoll, some of which are included among the images in this blog. These items highlight the biography and always-impressive stats of each of the 2016 inductees and award winners.

Matt DeSalvoTommy Thomas

Participation in the National College Baseball Hall of Fame festivities is but one of many ways in which the Southwest Collection preserves and makes available our sports history holdings. For example, we preserve the records of the former Southwest Conference, the Big XII Conference, and the few remaining records of the former Big 8 Conference. For more information about these collections please contact our Reference Staff who would be happy to guide you through them.

The American Agriculture Movement: Part 2

capitol tractor001

Last year, the Southwest Collection shared our American Agricultural Movement (AAM) Records in an exhibit entitled Tractorcade! commemorating the 35th anniversary of the AAM’s last great Tractorcade in 1979. It featured oral histories, photographs, newspaper articles, and artifacts that allowed our curators to tell this unique story of authentic U.S. grassroots activism.

AAM pamphlet009

We told you back then about the AAM’s formation in Campo, Colorado, in 1977, and its focus on “Parity”—economic balance between agriculture, other industries, and the U.S. government. It organized farmer’s strikes throughout the U.S., using pamphlets such as the one above to get them going. And it worked: in 1977 around 5,000 farmers held a tractor rally in Lincoln, Nebraska. Farmers in other states soon followed with their own rallies.

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Unfortunately, the AAM’s activism sometimes led to violence. On March 1st, 1978, a large group of protesting farmers was trapped on the International Bridge south of McAllen, Texas. U.S. police and Mexican Federal troops tear-gassed and beat some of the protestors, later arresting and jailing 200 of them. But this wasn’t typically the case. At almost the same time, numerous farmers found themselves peacefully gathering in Washington, D.C., in opposition to the 1977 Farm Bill. All of these events and many others were chronicled in local publications such as the American Agricultural News, of which we have dozens of issues. The above article and poems are examples of such, written by supporters–but not necessarily protest participants–from Oklahoma and Kansas, not just Texas or the AAM’s birth-state, Colorado.

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Combinations of strikes, protests, and legal opposition would later lead to massive Tractorcades in 1978 and 79. January of the former saw around 3,000 farmers driving their tractors to Washington, D.C. 1979 proved even more successful on a second trip to D.C., although traffic across the nation found itself stuck behind slow moving tractors festooned with protest signs. Washington was practically shut down as they drove through the city, and when at last they stopped at the National Mall, the police quickly penned them in with squad cars and city dump trucks. Surprisingly, there were only a few scuffles between farmers and police. Most interactions were friendly, although national public opinion was split on the farmer’s stated issues. But the Tractorcade can, in some part, be summed up by their emotional visit to the Lincoln Memorial documented in the photo above. It was a peaceful affair, generating unity within the AAM and fond memories for all of the participants that they’ve shared with SWC staff during every visit.

AAM profit pamphlet010AAM profit pamphlet inside011

There are many other tales of the Tractorcade and the AAM available at the Southwest Collection, many found in oral histories of participants and opposition members alike. They explain to interested researchers how the AAM metamorphosed into the guardian of farmers and lobby-er of politicians that it is today. These materials, and the many newspapers, documents, and artifacts in the AAM collection, are always available for research. And our helpful Reference Staff shows up when the rooster crows every day to make sure they can help you find them.

51 Years Later: the JFK Assassination and the Congressman George Mahon Papers

JFK-Tx BreakfastLast year, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Southwest Collection installed an exhibit of our materials related to the tragedy. Although no exhibit is on display this year, we have dug up more related books, documents, photographs, and other materials from the papers of then-Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr and Congressman George H. Mahon .Connally letter-darkened sentenceThis letter from Texas Governor John Connally and the accompanying tickets are from our George Mahon Papers. After a long legal career, in 1934 Mahon won the congressional seat for Texas’ Nineteenth Congressional District. Below is also a picture showing a White House greeting between President Kennedy and Mahon in 1962, not an uncommon sight in Washington at that time given that Mahon served as Texas’ Representative for over forty-four years. Because he ranked as one of the most influential Texas Democrats, Mahon joined the Texas delegation that traveled with the President throughout Texas and attended the event held the night before the assassination, for which the tickets above provided admission.  JFK + Mahon cropt

Ntbk p.1+++On November 22, 1963, Mahon found himself riding through Dealey Plaza only five cars behind the President. During the flight back to Washington, D.C. after the assassination, Mahon recorded his recollections of the event. “I heard the shots fired which killed the President of the United States,” begin these notes, a sample of which can be seen above. Correspondence and other documents related to the event are a significant part of our collection of his papers.Jackie Kennedy note 12.17.63Lastly, we have this thank you from Jacqueline Kennedy that was mailed to Mahon after he had provided to her and her family his condolences. Although it is a small, simple item, it was one that Mahon kept for the rest of his life and was generously included among his papers as a unique token of this pivotal moment in United States history.

Those interested in other archival collections related to the JFK assassination might also take a look at our Waggoner Carr Papers. The Attorney General of Texas in 1963, Carr was a key figure in the early days of the assassination investigation. For a look at his papers, Mahon’s, or any of our other many collections, feel free to contact our Reference Department. They are always happy to get you set up.

 

“Designing for Disaster” at the National Building Museum

Fujita portrait

The Southwest Collection is proud to have loaned items from its collected papers of world-renowned meteorological researcher Dr. Tetsuya Theodore “Ted” Fujita to the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The Museum is presenting a multimedia exhibition titled Designing for Disaster, a call-to-action for citizen preparedness—from design professionals and local decision-makers to homeowners and school kids—investigating how and where to build communities that are safer and more disaster-resilient. The exhibition opened on May 11, 2014 and will remain on view through August 2, 2015.

US Tornado Map 1930-74-21x16

From earthquakes and hurricanes to rising sea levels and flooding, natural disasters can strike anywhere and at any time. Recent history shows that no region of the country is immune from the rising costs of storm and disaster damage. Visitors to Designing for Disaster will explore new solutions for, and historical responses to, a range of natural hazards. Research materials such as Fujita’s documentation of several decades of tornadoes will not be the only items on display. Artifacts from past disasters, such as a door battered by Hurricane Katrina, will express the destructive, persistent, life-altering power of nature.
Fscale classification of 1971 tornadoes (2)
A cornerstone of the exhibit is a true-to-life, FEMA-specified “safe room”—one of the few defenses against a tornado or violent storm—in which exposed layers illustrate how it was built to withstand tornado-force winds and flying debris. Such destruction was the primary research focus of Dr. Fujita, whose conclusions would lead to the creation of the F-Scale (‘F’ standing, of course, for Fujita) which is now the worldwide standard for measuring the destructive power of tornadoes.

Lubbock tornadoes
Driven by ways to reduce risk before the next disaster, case studies will explore a range of flexible design and planning schemes, public policies, and new forecasting technologies. Drawing on data gathered from past disasters, such as the Lubbock, Texas F-5 tornadoes of May 1970 that damaged over a quarter of the town, the studies are varied as the solutions. They range from engineering advancements and seismic retrofits of esteemed historic buildings (such as the University of California at Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium) and bridges (the Eastern Span of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge), to urgent, hands-on lessons, through models, animated drawings and interactive displays that demonstrate how to strengthen homes, hospitals, schools, and other structures.

The National Building Museum is America’s leading cultural institution dedicated to advancing the quality of the built environment by educating people about its impact on their lives. Through its exhibitions, educational programs, online content, and publications, the Museum has become a vital forum for the exchange of ideas and information about the world we build for ourselves. For any public inquiries, call them at (202) 272-2448, visit www.nbm.org, or connect with them on Twitter: @BuildingMuseum and Facebook.

– by The National Building Museum