The Booknotes Oral History Program

Some of the 801 volumes that are part of the Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection, George Mason University Libraries, Special Collections & Archives.

Some of the 801 volumes that are part of the Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection, George Mason University Libraries, Special Collections & Archives.

One of the many unique collections housed here at University Libraries’ Special Collections & Archives department is the Booknotes collection. Booknotes was a popular television program on C-SPAN hosted by the network’s creator, Brian Lamb, which ran from April 1989 through December 2004. The weekly hour-long program featured intense and educational one-on-one interviews with non-fiction authors. Notable guests included Hillary Clinton, David McCullough, and David Crosby, as well as former presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush. A grant from the C-SPAN Education Foundation has allowed SC&A to preserve Lamb’s personal copies of the 801 books that were covered on the program along with notes, correspondence with authors, and reviews.

To add to this collection the “Booknotes Oral History Project” began in the spring of 2014. The project interviews authors who appeared on and others who were involved with the Booknotes television program.  To date we have completed 25 interviews. Through these interviews we investigate the impact of Brian Lamb, C-SPAN, and Booknotes on then-contemporary political thought, the reading public, and the individuals involved.

Author Douglas Brinkley. Courtesy of Rice University.

Author Douglas Brinkley. Courtesy of Rice University

Our most recent interview took place on December 11, 2014 with author Dr. Douglas Brinkley. Dr. Brinkley is a leading historian in American, corporate, presidential, and conservation history who is a professor at Rice University, a fellow at the James Baker Institute for Public Policy, the history commentator for CBS News, and a contributing editor to the magazines Vanity Fair and American Heritage. Because of his prominence we were enthusiastic to secure Dr. Brinkley’s interview.

Author Douglas Brinkley appearing on the Booknotes program, April 18, 1993. Courtesy of the C-SPAN Booknotes website.

Author Douglas Brinkley appearing on the Booknotes program, April 18, 1993. Courtesy of the C-SPAN Booknotes website

Despite suffering from a chest cold, Dr. Brinkley spoke for nearly an hour about his experience on the program and how his Booknotes appearance, and subsequent friendship with Brian Lamb, ignited the career of the newly-emerging scholar. Dr. Brinkley appeared on Booknotes on April 18, 1993 to discuss his book ­­­­­­The Majic Bus: An American Odyssey. The early exposure of Booknotes was a huge launching pad for his career. This helps to show not only how the program could affect an individual author’s career, but it also shows the ways in which Brian Lamb and C-SPAN were tastemakers, influencing which authors became significant voices in American thought.


[Excerpt from Booknotes Oral History Project Interview with Dr. Douglas Brinkley, December 11, 2014, Booknotes Oral History Collection #R0143. Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University Libraries.]

 

Dr. Brinkley also discussed how important he thinks the Booknotes collection and oral history project are.


[Excerpt from Booknotes Oral History Project Interview with Dr. Douglas Brinkley, December 11, 2014, Booknotes Oral History Collection #R0143. Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University Libraries.]

The complete Booknotes collection is available for viewing in the SC&A Reading Room, Floor 2, Wing C of Fenwick Library.

You can view the entire interview here.

Gilbert & Sullivan Come to Mason Libraries

George Mason University has announced the intention of benefactor David Stone to bequeath his massive collection on Gilbert and Sullivan to the University Libraries’ Special Collection & Archives.  In a Mason News story by Corey Jenkins Schaut at http://newsdesk.gmu.edu/2014/10/gilbert-sullivan-collection-make-home-mason/, the collection is described as “a treasure trove of Gilbert and Sullivan memorabilia, from original manuscripts to production materials to letters and personal effects of the two men and their partner, Richard D’Oyly Carte.”  The University plans to feature selected Gilbert and Sullivan treasures in occasional exhibitions stating this December.  The University Libraries is honored to be the future home of this collection with its inestimable research value for Mason faculty and students as well as scholars world-wide. The collection complements existing strengths in performing arts collections such as the Arena Stage Archives and Federal Theatre Project Collections.

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Annabelle and David Stone with a original poster of The Mikado

For example, the University Libraries’ Federal Theatre Project Collection includes materials on the “Swing Mikado,” a version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado, put to “swing” music and staged with an all-Black cast.  Visit the FTP Collection finding aid for more information at http://sca.gmu.edu/finding_aids/ftp.html.

Swing Mikado

Costume design for Swing Mikado, Federal Theatre Project Collection, C0002.

Happy Halloween!

Special Collections and Archives would like to wish everyone a happy Halloween!

Here’s a photograph featuring Mason students in their Halloween costumes from 1990:

Halloween disguise

George Mason University photograph collection, Collection #R0120, box 90, folder 2, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University Libraries.

Special Collections & Archives 2014 Award Winners Vay and Suiter

During 2014, Special Collections & Archives celebrated awards won by two colleagues, Greta Kuriger Suiter and Robert Vay. Greta was honored with the Spring 2014 George Mason University Libraries’ Staff Excellence Award, “a semi-annual award presented to a library staff member in recognition of their outstanding contribution to fostering an environment of collegiality and teamwork, and ensuring library services exceed faculty and students expectations.” Greta met these criteria well, going above and beyond the call of duty in the following ways: promoting SC&A and its collections by coordinating social media outreach on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and blogs; taking a leadership role on the SC&A Digital Projects Committee, helping to create best practice guidelines and implementing them while completing digitization projects; leading the SC&A Exhibitions Committee; supervising the complex off-site Buchanan Papers processing project; and serving on a variety of cross-departmental committees.  In addition, Greta has been vigilant in  her development activities, submitting papers and speaking at conferences, attending training, and even completing a second masters in art history. We congratulate Greta for her well-earned Staff Excellence Award.

Greta Kuriger Suiter receiving Staff Excellence Award.  Greta is flanked by John Zenelis, University Librarian, and Yvonne Carignan, Head, Special Collections & Archives

Greta Kuriger Suiter receiving Staff Excellence Award. Greta is flanked by John Zenelis, University Librarian, and Yvonne Carignan, Head, Special Collections & Archives

Also in 2014, Robert (Bob) Vay won the George Mason University Libraries’ Distinguished Faculty Award “for sustained and outstanding contribution to the Mason University Libraries’ mission and to his field of expertise.”  Within SC&A, Bob’s recent contributions included taking a leading role in all the activities growing out of a Virginia Foundation for the Humanities grant supporting our partnership with Reston in celebrating their fiftieth anniversary.  Within the University, Bob sets a high standard for his graciousness and helpfulness, and letters of recommendation identified Bob as a great collaborator, contributing to success when working with a group.
Letters supporting Bob’s nomination came from across the University and cited his achievements in preserving Mason history by administering the Libraries’ exemplary oral history program; creating physical displays and interactive online exhibitions; and contributing to the success of Alumni Weekend and other Campus events. Bob has, in fact, taken on the role of de facto University Historian.
From outside the Mason community, Bob’s leadership of the desegregation of Virginia Education (DOVE) oral history project won high praise.
Bob’s  professionalism has been enhanced in the last few years by his certification by the Academy of Certified Archivists and engagement in the Society of American Archivist’s Digital Archivist Specialist certification program.
We congratulate Bob on winning the George Mason University Libraries’ 2014 Distinguished Faculty Award.
Robert Vay receives George Mason University Libraries' Distinguished Faculty Award from Associate Provost Kimberly Eby, April 2014.

Robert Vay receives George Mason University Libraries’ Distinguished Faculty Award from Associate Provost Kimberly Eby, April 2014.