archival adventures

TO MRS. MONTELL

oscar wilde021

Facsimile of Oscar Wilde Photograph

“To Mrs. Montell, my uncle’s old and loved friend from Oscar Wilde, January 26, 1882, Baltimore, Thursday.”

Many items have been donated to the Taylor Memorial Library over the years but not all of them seem directly related to telling Centenary College’s history. A number of items in the archives were donated by faculty, alumni, or other members of the Centenary community, so there are many objects that once held personal significance to the donor, or were donated by someone with personal significance to Centenary. This photograph of Oscar Wilde, presented to the college in 1958, is one such item, seemingly out of place among the yearbooks, class photos and other ‘Centenariana’ stored in the archives.

It came to Centenary College through Dr. H. Graham DuBois, a member of Centenary’s faculty for 33 years. He was a poet and playwright like Wilde, an English professor at Centenary College for Women from 1929 to 1963, and the Chairman of the C.C.W. Division of Humanities from 1947 to 1959. The Mrs. Montell of the inscription was his grandmother, Mrs. Charles Montell, who had been a friend of Wilde’s uncle, Ledoux Elgee.When Wilde visited Baltimore on a lecture tour of America, Mrs. Montell invited him to tea as a courtesy to a family friend. He accepted her invitation and later sent the photograph to thank her.

oscar wilde022

Dr. DuBois, left, and Dr. Seay, president of the college

Dr. DuBois donated the framed photograph of the English poet and playwright to the college in 1958. It was displayed in the library for a while but was eventually placed in the archives for preservation.

“Dr. DuBois Gives Picture of Oscar Wilde to C.C.W.” Spilled Ink 25 3 1958: 1. Print.

Advertisements

A NATION MOURNS!

lincoln dead

The announcement of President Lincoln’s assassination. From the Cummins Collection in the Taylor Memorial Library Archives.

“The President of the United States MURDERED!!”–April 15, 2016 marks the 151st anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the unfortunate but historically significant event that shocked a nation still suffering from the aftermath of the Civil War. Just five short days after the end of the war, southern supporter John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln at the Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC. An extensive article printed in New Jersey’s Warren Journal on April 21, 1865 discusses the incident in detail including the moments leading up to the shooting, “the corpse of the late president,” and the life attempt on Vice President Johnson. Visit the library archives to view the article in full.

THE CENTENARY SCRAPBOOKS

Scrapbooks have become a multi-billion dollar business in modern America, but long before they became a commercial enterprise they were a way for Americans in the 19th and early 20th century to “record” history in the pre-digital world.  Among the many “treasures” in Centenary’s Archive are the various scrapbooks of former Centenarians – – including a scrapbook kept by Centenary’s first President, the Reverend George Whitney.

Centenary’s scrapbooks include ticket stubs, programs for school ceremonies, invitations, dance cards and a variety of other ephemera that tell the story of life at Centenary a century ago.  The delicate bits and pieces of paper pasted on the pages are fragile and in danger of falling apart. For that reason the scrapbooks have been kept in storage in the Archive and have seldom been seen by members of the Centenary community.

The Taylor Memorial Library is planning to display a few of these scrapbooks in May 2014; hopefully we will be able to grab some images to post! Watch for further information and to see these bits of history at their first public viewing in a hundred years!