Rare books moving today and other important dates

Special Collections Research Center’s rare and antiquarian books have started to move over to the new addition today. They are now nearly finished being moved and remain accessible. Our reading room will remain open from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM on Mondays through Fridays. Wednesday evening hours (until 8:00) will continue until December 9.

Before you plan your research and visit to SCRC, please make note of the following dates:

  • Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) materials unavailable – with the exception of rare books – due to collections moving over to new Fenwick Library addition: November 19, 2015 – December 2, 2015.
  • Wednesday evening hours end after December 9 and begin again on January 20. After December 9, SCRC will be open Mon – Fri from 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM.
  • Closed for winter break: December 21, 2015 – January 1, 2016.
  • Closed to public: January 4, 2016 – January 18, 2016.
  • Open for business at new location: January 19, 2016.

For more information about SCRC: http://sca.gmu.edu/
For more information about Fenwick Library’s move: http://fenwickfocus.gmu.edu/

Our collections are moving!

Our stuff is moving!

Altered production photo of three actors from Revolt of the Beavers in New York City from the Federal Theatre Project Photograph collection, Collection #C0205, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University Libraries.

Special Collections & Archives (SC&A) materials will be moving to the new Fenwick Library addition from November 19 to December 2, 2015. So that we may hold out any collections you need to use during those dates, please request them either before November 19 or after December 2. Please note that the SC&A reading room will be open during those dates.

For more information about SC&A and the new addition, please visit http://fenwickfocus.gmu.edu/ or contact speccoll@gmu.edu

Recent Acquisitions

Special Collections recently added notable collections that add to existing collection strengths in transportation, technology, and conflict resolution. Please note that most of these collections are unprocessed, so please allow us several days notice if you would like to use these collections. Visit the SC&A website for more information.

Transportation and Technology

Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit Project. Source: http://www.lightrailnow.org/facts/fa_prt001.htm

The Steven Barsony papers consists of speeches, reports, correspondence, and photographs on mass transit projects, particularly new technology developments such as the Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit Project in West Virginia. The bulk of the collection dates from the 1970s and 1980s.

The Robert Truax Washington, D.C., transportation collection consists of a variety of transportation-related documents, maps, and images. The most numerous group in the collection is approximately 150 postcards of Washington, D.C., from the early to mid-20th century, many of which include streetcars as well as famous streets and buildings. The collection also includes a variety of other transportation documents, including two large volumes of passenger and conductor receipts from around the turn of the 20th century.

The Interstate history research project collection documents the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (ASSHTO) project in the 1980s and 1990s to interview individuals that played an important role in the planning and implementation of the construction of the interstate highway system in the United States. Please note that some of these interviews have access restrictions.

The John Patrick Hawker papers consists of a substantial document archive of significant intelligence content, written and compiled by John Patrick Hawker, British SOE (Special Operation Executive), pertaining to British intelligence, cryptography and clandestine radio in the Second World War. Hawker was a professional and amateur radio engineer, who during the Second World War was actively engaged in British Intelligence services, and is associated with the Bletchley Park code-breaking center, working with clandestine radio to support resistance units. Hawker was involved in many aspects of radio, beginning in World War II as a member of the Radio Security Service (RSS) and its connections to British Security Service Military Intelligence Ml5 and the Secret Intelligence Service Ml6.

Conflict Resolution

Harold Saunders

Harold Saunders in 2008. Source: http://ncdd.org/3470

The Harold Saunders papers consists largely of speeches, meeting transcripts, newsclippings about Saunders, photographs, and approximately 150 pocket notebooks that he carried with him that include insights from conversations and other experiences that were important to him. Saunders worked at the National Security Council (NSC) Staff in the White House (1961-1974) and the State Department (1974-1981) at the center of U.S. policymaking toward the Middle East and South Asia.

The Louise Diamond papers consists of files created by Louise Diamond that include workshops, writings, consultations, and study groups. Diamond was a founder and co-founder of several peace study policy groups. She wrote many articles on the subject of peace and conflict resolution, and the articles were published in a wide variety of journals, magazines, and books. She held several degrees, including a Ph.D. in Peace Studies from the Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio (1990).

Exhibition in Special Collections & Archives: the Story of Publishers’ Bindings

Publishers’ Bindings on Exhibition in Fenwick Library 2nd floor

Washington Irving, Tales of a Traveller (NY: Putnam, 1895), gift of Wendi D. Slagle to George Mason University Libraries

Washington Irving, Tales of a Traveller (NY: Putnam, 1895), gift of Wendi D. Slagle to George Mason University Libraries

Before the Industrial Age, bookbinding had developed into a craft that dated in origins to Ancient Roman times. Books were bound by hand as a unit, almost always in some kind of animal skins. The printed pages of a book came from the print shop; book selling was another business; and bookbinders still another kind of shop. Thus booksellers bought books unbound in “sheets” from printers and might sell the books unbound but in paper wrappers to keep the pages clean until the customers could take the book to their favorite bookbinder. By the eighteenth century, at least in the export trade to American customers, evidence shows British booksellers shipping books already bound.

But not all books ever received a leather binding. A late 18th century specimen in this exhibition is in near “original form, with pages deckled and uncut, and a paper wrapper instead of a binding. Toward the end of the eighteenth century, books were also sometimes issued in paper-covered boards. Around 1810, the paper covers received direct block printing in ink.

By 1800 advances in literacy meant a growing reading public demanded more books. Events were leading to a new style of binding that would combine cheapness, mass production, and something of the elegance and durability of leather. The first cloth bound books appeared in England in the 1820s. By the 1830s, cloth became accepted by the book trade. Examples from the George Mason University Libraries’ Special Collections & Archives provide American examples.

Fabrics had to be developed to be suitable for bindings. Early cloth bindings were too insubstantial to last. Before 1830, the trade invented a successful book cloth filled with dyed starch and passed through calendaring rollers. At early stages, titles still had to be printed on papers and glued on the spine.

Jared Sparks, The Life of George Washington (Boston, F. Andrews, 1839) George Mason University Libraries

Jared Sparks, The Life of George Washington (Boston, F. Andrews, 1839) George Mason University Libraries

In about 1830, a new short cut was invented for bookbinding. “Casing-in” allowed covers to be made separately and only later attached to the book. The new process meant that cover decoration could be mechanized. The business of publishing then grew to combine the old crafts of printing and binding to create a finished product—the book—for sale. As the century wore on, books included the publishers’ branding as cloth colors, stamped designs, spine labels, and other evidence linked books to their publishers. Thus the use of the term “publishers’ bindings” for this new era of book production.

The Manuscript receipt book and household treasury (Philadelphia: Hartley, 1885) from the Rosemary Poole Collection, George Mason University Libraries

The Manuscript receipt book and household treasury (Philadelphia: Hartley, 1885) from the Rosemary Poole Collection, George Mason University Libraries

Once the manufacture of covers became a separate task from binding the pages, design developments followed quickly throughout the nineteenth century. Experimental graining and embossing of cloth in the 1830s was adopted so quickly that smooth cloth book bindings are rare for many decades of the nineteenth century. Soon to follow were blind-stamped curling ornament and small generalized vignettes in the 1840s. The 1850s saw more generous use of gold leaf stamping, with larger, content specific vignettes. The 1860s, at lease in Civil War torn America, brought in minimal decoration, with limited cloth graining and colors, and emblematic pictorials on book bindings. The 1870s saw the return of exuberance, with asymmetry, black ink as well as gold stamping, and Eastlake designs. During the 1880s, new colors of ink emerged along with the use of crowded, overlapping bulletin board designs.

Arthur Mangin, Les Mysteries De L’Ocean (Tours: Alfred Mame et Fils, 1883) George Mason University Libraries

Arthur Mangin, Les Mysteries De L’Ocean (Tours: Alfred Mame et Fils, 1883) George Mason University Libraries

Lettering tended to be expressive or flowing. By the 1890s and into the twentieth century, artist-signed –or un-signed–book bindings are often found. Artist bindings are characterized by highly professional layout, ungrained book cloth, and a flat, poster style. By the 1920s, printed paper book jackets – not book bindings–began to be the focus of design. The era of decorated publishers bindings came to an end.

Exhibition, The Pirates of Penzance: Memorabilia of the 19th, 20th, and 21st Centuries

George Mason University Libraries benefactors, David and Annabelle Stone, have generously provided an exhibition in the Fenwick Library’s A wing display cases to celebrate this spring’s student performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. With original materials from their collection, which comprehensively documents the careers of Gilbert and Sullivan and all their operettas, David Stone designed the exhibition itself, loaned the display pieces, and guided creation of the exhibition poster.

Designed by Bob Vay with images and creative input from David Stone, this poster promotes Fenwick Library's Pirates of Penzance exhibition

Poster promoting Fenwick Library’s Pirates of Penzance exhibition

Among the many items on display are photographs, prints, and programs, sampled below:

From the David and Annabelle Stone Gilbert and Sullivan Collection

Photograph of Marion Hood as Mabel in Pirates of Penzance: From the David and Annabelle Stone Gilbert and Sullivan Collection


Photograph of J. S. Greensfelder as Pirate King in Gilbert And Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance

Photograph of J. S. Greensfelder as Pirate King in Gilbert And Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. From the David and Annabelle Stone Gilbert and Sullivan Collection

Print of children as Pirates of Penzance characters. From the David and Annabelle Stone Gilbert and Sullivan Collection

Print of children as Pirates of Penzance characters. From the David and Annabelle Stone Gilbert and Sullivan Collection

The exhibition will continue until the beginning of May 2015.