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.

Picturing the Eastern Front: Postcards and Watercolors from the Gustav Klemp World War I German Graphic Materials Collection

One hundred years ago, Gustav Klemp, a trained artist from Podgorz-Thorn in what was then West Prussia, served as a medic in the German Army on the Eastern Front in World War I. Today, selections from the postcards and artwork he sent home to his wife and family during the war are on display outside of Special Collections and Archives (SC&A) in Fenwick Library.

The journey that the collection took to get to Mason reflects the complex 20th century history of the former German Empire and Eastern Europe. After Germany and Austria-Hungary’s defeat in the First World War, Poland became an independent nation for the first time since the 18th century. The victorious Allied Powers gave most of West Prussia to the new country, and the Klemps and other ethnic Germans in the province were given the choice to become Polish citizens or emigrate elsewhere. Klemp and his family chose to leave for the United States, and they initially went to Iowa before settling in Wisconsin. Their hometown of Podgorz-Thorn is now Torun, Poland. Gustav Klemp’s grandson, Richard Passig, resides in the DC area, and he donated his grandfather’s extensive collection of postcards and original watercolors and sketches to SC&A in autumn 2014, one hundred years after the outbreak and early months of the war in which his grandfather served.

Watercolor by Gustav Klemp of a grenade exploding, March 1916

Watercolor by Gustav Klemp of a grenade exploding (March 1916). Gustav Klemp World War I German graphic materials collection, Box 1, Page 22. George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives. Copyright not held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections & Archives.

Klemp’s postcards and artwork provide an intimate portrait of what life was like for ordinary men on the front lines of World War I. Klemp himself was not a soldier (he was in his early 30s during the war, and was older than the ideal age to fight), but he lived alongside and experienced many of the same hardships as the men he tended to as a medic. Several of the postcards that Klemp sent home show soldiers and medical staff in the downtime between the German Army’s offensives against the Russian Empire in modern-day Poland, Romania, and Ukraine. Klemp himself is featured in many of the photos, playing cards, celebrating Christmas in bunkers, and sitting and smoking with his comrades.

Gustav Klemp (bottom left) celebrating Christmas 1915 with his comrades.

Gustav Klemp (bottom left) celebrating Christmas 1915 with fellow staff and soldiers (December 1915). Gustav Klemp World War I German graphic materials collection, Box 1, Page 6. George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives. Copyright not held by George Mason University Libraries. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections & Archives.

The collection is remarkable for the human face that it provides for an army that was the enemy of the Allied Powers, including the United States beginning in April 1917. In the spirit of Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and the French film Joyeux Noel, both of which illustrate the common experiences of soldiers and staff on both sides of the First World War, SC&A is proud to present Picturing the Eastern Front: Postcards and Watercolors from the Gustav Klemp World War I German Graphic Materials Collection, on exhibit until April 2015.