Travel Series: The Americas

This post was written by Tiffany Kajer Wright. “I am a grad student in the English department’s Professional Writing and Rhetoric program. If I’m not cooking, I’m probably watching a historical documentary on Netflix. I also love traveling with my husband – I’ve been to 19 countries and counting. I’m brand new to the SCRC, but I look forward to contributing more blogs in the future!”

This post is the first in a series of blogs coordinated with our Around the World in (Almost) 80 Days exhibit. We’re highlighting some of our collections and books that focus on travel and can be accessed here at the Special Collections Research Center. In this article, we’re taking a look at North and South America.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see far-flung parts of the world? Two of our collections can take you virtually anywhere. The first is the extensive Edith McChesney Ker collection of slides, scrapbooks, and other documents covering her global adventures. The second is the largely insect-focused Kjell Sandved collection, of Butterfly Alphabet fame. Both photographers are notable for capturing animal and plant life, as well as striking landscapes.

Reviewing these collections can bring the distant and exotic corners of the planet a little closer to home. This is especially true for areas of the world that are difficult to access, such as Easter Island or Angel Falls. Other places, like the Galapagos Islands or Nova Scotia, have well-traveled routes but are no less fascinating. We’ll begin this week’s journey with Easter Island.

“Easter Island-Ahu Nau Nau”, Edith McChesney Ker papers, #C0077, Box 12, Page 28, Image 4, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

The six stand in silent judgement, backs to the ocean. Their eyes are gone, but most still have their topknots. One is missing his head, and only the base remains for another. They are the Anakena Moai of Rapa Nui – Easter Island, to those outside of the South Pacific. Since 1888, it’s been a territory of Chile, and the mystery surrounding the immense statues has attracted travelers since the island was discovered. More than 800 Moai can be found on the island today, and most are easily accessible to the 80,000 tourists that stop by every year.

 

“Waterfalls: Amgel Falls World’s Highest Venezuela,” in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Box 4, Page 24, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Water tumbles over the edge of a cliff nearly three-quarters of a mile high, often shrouded by clouds. Toward the bottom, the water dissipates into a fine mist before converging into the Rio Kerepacupai Meru. This is Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world, and it sits deep in the Venezuelan jungle. Named after American pilot Jimmie Angel, the first to fly over it in 1933, the falls draw visitors from all over the world each year.

“Fernandina Marine Iguanas and Bluefoots”, Edith McChesney Ker papers, #C0077, Box 13, Page 06, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

Home to some of the most specialized wildlife in the world, the Galapagos Islands have been the location for numerous scientific surveys for centuries. When a young geologist called Charles Darwin visited in 1835, he was so inspired by the variations of birds and other animals that he wrote On the Origin of Species. Scientists and researchers continue to visit this volcanic archipelago to better understand our planet’s history and evolution. Ecuador governs the islands today and has declared them a national park, drawing over 220,000 tourists per year.

 

“Peggy’s Cover Near Halifax Nova Scotia” in the Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Box 4, Page 22, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Nova Scotia is a breathtaking province, with Bay of Fundy and its extreme tides on one side and the battering North Atlantic on the other. Fishermen have done very well in this part of Canada for centuries, though not without cost. More than 5,000 shipwrecks are documented in the region. Despite this historical precedent, well over 2 million tourists visit Nova Scotia each year, with the percentage of Americans steadily increasing.

Sources:

Easter Island History

Island Heritage

Easter Island Tourism

Angel Falls History

Galapagos History

Galapagos Tourism

Nova Scotia History

Nova Scotia Tourism

Our exhibition will be up until mid-August. Stop by anytime to view our materials on display. Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. You may also e-mail us at speccoll@gmu.edu or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have questions. Appointments are not necessary to request and view collections.

Around the World in (Almost) Eighty Days

Summer is approaching and travel plans have been made! Special Collections Research Center holds many images and books that represent great travel destinations in the United States and around the world. That is why we have planned a new exhibit – “Around the World in (Almost) Eighty Days: Traveling the Globe with Special Collections” to show off these wonderful pieces and maybe even help those who are still trying to figure out where to travel in the upcoming months. The exhibit will run from June 5 until mid-August and a reception will be held in Fenwick Library on June 15 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Hope to see you there – Bon Voyage!

The Swing Mikado: Gilbert and Sullivan Reinvented in 1938

Cast photo of Swing Mikado, Chicago, 1938. Federal Theatre Project photographs #C0205 Box 46, Folder 17

Here in the Special Collections Research Center, we are gearing up for #GandS2017 – our celebration of all things Gilbert and Sullivan, culminating in the opening of an exhibit of materials from the David and Annabelle Stone Gilbert and Sullivan Collection.

One of Gilbert and Sullivan’s popular comic operas is The Mikado; or, The Town of Titpu. It opened on March 14, 1885 and ran for 672 performances as a production of the famous D’Oyly Carte Opera Company.

The Mikado remains popular, and in the years since it opened, has been updated and re-imagined. In 1938, The Swing Mikado premiered in Chicago as a production of the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Theatre Project. The production was conceived and directed by Harry Minturn, with swing re-orchestrations of Sullivan’s music by Gentry Warden. First staged by an all-black company in Chicago, it became a huge hit with audiences black and white alike. It also featured a live swing orchestra. The show was later produced on Broadway to similar acclaim.

Cast photo of Swing Mikado, Chicago, 1938. Federal Theatre Project photographs #C0205 Box 46, Folder 17

The Federal Theatre Project itself was a New Deal program to fund live artistic programs during the Great Depression, one of numerous relief measures to employ artists, writers and theatre workers.

Two New Exhibitions in SC&A Feature Items from Collection of Rare Books by Jan Morris and Oliver Atkins Photographs

Jan Morris, as photographed in 1974.

Jan Morris, as photographed in 1974. Photo is from her 1974 book, Conundrum.

SC&A has completed two new exhibits of materials from its holdings.  On exhibit displays a group of books by historian and travel writer, Jan Morris, while the other features photographs from photographer, Oliver Atkins. Both exhibitions run through December 2015.

“Excerpts from a Life Well Traveled: The University Libraries’ Jan Morris Collection”

George Mason University Libraries acquired a collection of rare Jan Morris first editions and pre-release review copies in 2010. The collection consists of 135 books and one rare signed poster from the 1940s.  Born James Morris in 1926 in Somerset England, Morris underwent gender re-assignment surgery in 1972. In her highly personal work Conundrum: From James to Jan – An Extraordinary Personal Narrative of Transsexualism, Morris describes her life and sexual reassignment. Morris began as a newspaper writer, working on the editorial staff of The Guardian from 1957 to 1962 and was the first journalist to report the conquest of Mount Everest.

Destinations (1980) is a collection of Jan Morris travel essays for Rolling Stone Magazine.

Destinations (1980) is a collection of Jan Morris travel essays for Rolling Stone magazine.

Morris also served in the military, was married, and has 5 children. One of her children is Twm Morris, the musician and poet. Her most famous work is arguably the Pax Britannica trilogy, a history of the British Empire. She is also widely acclaimed for her travel writing, which includes famous profiles of Oxford, Venice, Wales, Hong Kong, and New York City. The collection is the generous gift of Philip M. Teigen. Teigen also donated a substantial collection of rare John Richard Green volumes to the Libraries in 2008. Teigen’s interest in collecting Morris’ works stems from his development of the John Richard Green Collection. He wrote in a letter to the Libraries that he views Morris as Green’s “20th century intellectual heir.” This exhibit combines images with excerpts from select works.

Oliver Atkins in China, 1972. Olliver F. Atkins Photograph Collection, Box 34, Folder 2. Copyright not held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections and Archives.

Oliver Atkins in China, 1972. Olliver F. Atkins Photograph Collection, Box 34, Folder 2. Copyright not held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections and Archives.

“A Life in Focus: A Look Inside the Oliver F. Atkins Photograph Collection”

Oliver F. Atkins was a professional photographer from the 1930s until the late 1970s.  He worked for several news organizations, the American Red Cross, The Saturday Evening Post, and the White House. He covered the Second World War and Korea as well as the American political and cultural landscape during the 1950s and 1960s.  Some of his subjects include Harry S Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Winston Churchill, Gamel Nasser, Nikita Kruschev, Josip B. Tito, and Jawaharlal Nehru.

High School students from Ozark, Arkansas visit Chinatown in New York City, May 1950.  Oliver Atkins Photograph Collection Box 12, Folder 13. Copyright not held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections and Archives. Images taken for the Saturday Evening Post are © Saturday Evening Post.

High School students from Ozark, Arkansas visit Chinatown in New York City, May 1950. Oliver Atkins Photograph Collection Box 12, Folder 13. Copyright not held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections and Archives. Images taken for the Saturday Evening Post are © Saturday Evening Post.

In 1969, Atkins became the personal photographer of President Richard M. Nixon and chief White House photographer. Of his many images of Nixon, the series documenting the meeting of December 18, 1970 with Elvis Presley is the most famous and the most often requested. The collection, which contains over 60,000 images, is held in the University Libraries’ Special Collections & Archives department in Fenwick, C-204. This exhibition looks at various facets of Atkins’ life, career, and works. The collection, which contains over 60,000 images, is held in the University Libraries’ Special Collections & Archives department in Fenwick, C-204. This exhibition looks at various facets of Atkins’ life, career, and works.

Celebrating 95 Years of the League of Women Voters

lwvfa

Special Collections & Archives is happy to announce a new exhibition in Fenwick Library’s lobby: Celebrating 95 Years of the League of Women Voters. Also coinciding with Women’s History month, this exhibition features items from the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area collection. The collection includes bulletins, pamphlets, meeting minutes, correspondence, photographs, and ephemera. More information about the collection is accessible via the finding aid.

The League of Women Voters was founded in 1920 by Carrie Chapman Catt, a leader in the women’s suffragist movement.  Maude Wood Park, another devoted suffragist, became the League’s first president.  The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization, which encourages citizens to participate actively in government by supporting the party of their choice.  It does not support individual candidates, but it does take a position on issues of a local, state, and national scale selected by the membership. The League of Women Voters has taken a particular interest in equal opportunity for women in government, child labor laws, fair housing, and affordable health care.

In Virginia, the League of Women Voters began as the Equal Suffrage League, which worked diligently for the ratification of the nineteenth amendment. The Equal Suffrage League joined the national League of Women Voters, creating a state league. The first local League in Virginia was established in Richmond, followed by chapters in Alexandria and Arlington.

The Fairfax County League was granted full League status in 1948.  To indicate that the members belong to more than one governmental jurisdiction, in 1964 the Fairfax County League became the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area.

Please visit Fenwick Library to view the exhibit through the month of March.