Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our Favorite Things from the Special Collection, Part Three

The Samford Special Collection and University Archives Open House is tomorrow, October 31st, 2013, from 2-4pm.  Don't hesitate to stop by the Special Collection for snacks and a glimpse into Samford's history.

Here's the final installment of the favorite things of the folks who work in our Special Collection.  Each is unique and only preserved because of the hard work that these archivists do to preserve our history.  These three love the collection so much that they couldn't just pick one favorite!

Liz + A Piece of the Sherman Oak and the McClurkin letter
"Sherman Oak, named for the first president of Howard College, Samuel Sterling Sherman, was the celebrated tree on the East Lake campus. Although some note an earlier tree naming, Dr. J. M. Shelburne, in 1915, president of Howard College, began the celebration of Arbor Day. He chose the largest oak on the campus at that time and dedicated it to the first president of the College.

"The stately sturdy tree served as the meeting place for the Howard College community.  Under its large branches, couples met, dated, and proposals of marriage were made. Every Entre Nous, showing photographs of the campus and student activities, feature the Sherman Oak.

"In 1957 Howard College left the East Lake site and moved to Edgewood/Lakeshore campus.  The tree remained.  However, lightening, blight, ad age were enemies to the Oak.  In 1998, the tree was cut down.  Pieces of the tree were saved and stored.  This piece came to Special Collection. 

"Sharing a picture of the tree and this piece brought tears to a lady visiting the Collection.  'I had my photograph taken under that tree when I was a senior in high school, visiting the campus.'  This is a tangible piece of the East Lake campus, which exists no more.

"J. E. McLurkin was an upper classman when he left Howard College’s Marion campus in 1887 to attend school on its new East Lake site. McLurkin wrote his 'Cusin' about coming to the 'Magic City' and described in detail this huge, somewhat frightening city. His letter telling of the international and industrial life in Birmingham is a wonderful first hand account of this New South city.

"He also describes his opportunities to preach.  He shares his doubts to never be no more than just a farmer boy, but this experiences at Howard College had opened new 'paths' for him.  However, no matter how wonderful the new Birmingham sites were, he was not as well pleased as he would be in Marion, but 'he hoped to be better pleased when he got better acquainted.'

"In the fall of 1987, the 100th anniversary of Samford moving to Birmingham, President Thomas Corts read the letter to the incoming   freshman class.  Even after 100 years, the relevancy of McLurkin’s words reminded us of the expectation of the new, the unknown, but opportunities for students and the institution, 'when we get better acquainted.' "

—Liz Wells, Processing Archivist & Special Collection Librarian

Tabitha + Lotus Shoes from the Hearn Collection
"Among the many, many items we have in our Special Collection, I find the Chinese Lotus Shoes one of the more fascinating items.  These little shoes, which are “adult” size, are so beautiful and so ornate to be associated with such a cruel practice of binding feet.  This practice often started with little girls before the age of 6.  Binding the foot caused the arch of the foot to break and allowed the heel and toes to be brought closer together.  Having such small feet was considered a 'status symbol,' especially among 'elite' families.  Eventually, the practice of binding feet was made illegal in 1912."—Tabitha Moore, Microfilm Lab Manager

Rachel + Dr. Funderburg's stuffed caiman and the 1528 Aldine Press Edition of Pliny the Younger
"So, I confess I couldn’t pick just two things. The caiman belonged to Dr. Lonnie Funderburg, a professor on campus. Rumor has it that when he gave his extensive book collection to the library, he demanded that his caiman come along as well. It’s been with the collection ever since. 

"My other great love is the oldest book we have in the collection printed by the famous Italian Aldine press in 1518. It has its original binding and beautiful details like yaps and an inscribed text block. The English printers in the 16th century were pretty poor at their job, but the Italians produced some of the most beautiful books in Europe. Among their various achievements, the Aldine Press invented italic font, so I think of them every time I cite a source." – Rachel Cohen, Archivist/User Services Librarian

These are just a few of the amazing things we have in Samford's Special Collection.  Visit today!

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