Earth Laughs in Flowers

“Earth laughs in flowers, to see her boastful boys
Earth-proud, proud of the earth which is not theirs;
Who steer the plough but cannot steer their feet
Clear of the grave.” – “Hamatreya” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

This post was written by Khalid Tamimi, Research Services Student Assistant and undergraduate in marketing. 

“Cannaceae: Canna generalis Equador,” Box 1, Page 11, Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Special Collections Research Center holds a myriad of materials that cover the flourishing world of Botany. This includes photograph collections, like the one by Kjell B. Sandved, or books like Histoire des plantes vénéneuses et suspectes de la France (The history of venomous and suspicious plants of France), Temple of Flora, and many more that we have in our catalog.

 

 

 

 

Kjell B. Sandved, Norwegian nature photographer, spent his life traveling across our green planet and capturing its versatility and beauty one frame at a time. His images capture so much detail that a mere glimpse is enough to slow down ones perception of time and get lost in a lifeless image that portrays the very essence of life itself.

 

“Bougainvillea glabra, Hawaii,” Box 1, Page 7, Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

 

As one peruses over the breathtaking photographs you can’t help but envy those who have dedicated their lives to the study and observation of nature’s finest. We as a species seem to be obsessed with beauty yet we tend to forget the ever-blooming beauty that Mother Nature is.

 

 

 

 

“Grevilla Banksii Kahili flower. Queensland Australia,” Box 1, Page 12, Kjell Sandved nature photograph collection #C0020, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

 

 

 

Flowers are a great reminder that standing out and being different warrant celebration rather than scrutiny. As social creatures, we fixate on assimilation and  yet we often forget that beauty almost always lies in uniqueness. At first glimpse do you notice the single flower? Or the identical leaflets on either side?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Histoire des Plantes Vénéneuses et Suspectes de la France contains over 100 plant species which vary in beauty but are all poisonous. This 1798 book provides information on each plant, though written in French, describing the parts of each plant and other useful facts. L’Hellebore noir is a beautiful flower that can be found across France; also known as the Christmas rose or Helleborus Niger. Despite its misleading name this plant does not belong to the rose family rather is an evergreen perennial flowering plant in the buttercup family. Despite its aesthetic charm, this flower is actually poisonous. Touching or being near this plant can cause the burning of the eyes, mouth, and throat, coughing, and in some cases, oral ulcerations. This may be Mother Nature’s subtle reminder that just because something appears beautiful does not mean that it is harmless or good.

“L’Hellebore noir,” Bulliard, Pierre, Histoire des Plantes Vénéneuses et Suspectes de la France, QK100.F7 B85 1798, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

 

“Tulips,” Thornton, Robert John, Thorton’s Temple of Flora, QK98 .T5, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

Written in 1951, this oversize edition of Thorton’s Temple of Flora (originally Thorton published some editions in the late 18th century and early 19th century) has large, beautiful illustration of flowers, most of which are in color. The text within the book describes Thorton’s life, interests in botany and his relationship with the Darwin family. Exploring these illustrations, one can learn vital life lessons from natures finest. Not only should we all take the time to appreciate the intricacies of the natural world that we live in. Similarly, we can learn a lot about ourselves and how we coexist with other living things in this world. We can coincide peacefully together, regardless of the differences in the colors of our petals, their origins, or which way we choose to face the sun.

“The Dragon Arum,” Thornton, Robert John, Thorton’s Temple of Flora, QK98 .T5, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University.

 

To search the collections held at 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.

Atkins finding aid available for Subject Print Subseries

The first subseries of the revised Oliver F. Atkins photograph collection is now available. The subjects cover life in Washington, D.C. (particularly John F. Kennedy and family in the late 1950s and early 1960s), American social and political issues, countries in Africa, the Korean War, and even our very own George Mason University. We hope to add the rest of the print series to the finding aid very soon. Currently, the processing work has shifted to the vast amount of negatives in the collection, many of which were used to create the prints. So think of the print series as merely a sample of the tens of thousands of images contained in the negatives.

View of Trinity Church in New York City taken from an adjacent building (August 1952) Oliver F. Atkins Photograph Collection, C0036, Box 3, Folder 13. ©SEPS

Oliver Atkins (left) and Norman Rockwell (1960s) Oliver F. Atkins Photograph Collection, C0036 Box 1 Folder 13. ©SEPS

A worker looks out across the Fria Company International for the Production of Aluminum facility in Guinea (November 1960) Oliver F. Atkins Photograph Collection, C0036 Box 4 Folder 1. ©SEPS

Guests arrive at the Statler Hotel in Washington, D.C. (May 1950) Oliver F. Atkins Photograph Collection, C0036 Box 4 Folder 6. ©SEPS

Chief Miyamoto, head of Ainu clan at Chiraoi, Hokkaido, Japan (August 1951) Oliver F. Atkins Photograph Collection, C0036 Box 1 Folder 5. ©SEPS

This collection is being reprocessed with funds provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Rare Franklin D. Roosevelt Photograph

While completing a formal appraisal on the Roy Rosenzweig papers, the appraiser found this photograph of FDR in 1934. What is unusual about the photograph is that it shows FDR using a cane and leg braces visible at the bottom of his pants. FDR used a cane and leg braces because he suffered from polio he contracted in 1921. His condition was largely hidden from the public, which is not the case in this photograph since the people can clearly see he is disabled. The photograph was taken in Worcester, Massachusetts, a city that Rosenzweig researched and wrote about during his long career as a historian.

FDR greeted in Worcester, Massachusetts, 1934. Rosenzweig papers.