Guest Post: Rare Book Favorites

Published Post author

Written by Student Aide, Marianne Brokaw ’18

I was so excited when the Special Collections staff contacted me regarding a summer job at Simpson Library. Being a non-traditional student (I graduated high school in 1984!), I am constantly seeking ways to enhance my learning experience. As a History major, I also seek the historical context of every situation presented to me.

Although I enjoy working on the digital side of things, nothing can take the place of holding, reading, and referencing a print book.  The past two weeks, I have lived the dream of a historian. Tasked with verifying barcodes for the rare books located in the oversized section, I have had the opportunity to go through and look at numerous books as I verify their number. As an employee, I knew I needed to focus on the task at hand. However, as a historian and book lover, it was easy to get a  little sidetracked……

The Oversized Rare collection contains more than a few interesting, to say the least, volumes. Reading about Colonial America in the leaflets of The London Chronicle, published in 1764, was surreal. It was amazing, not only to be perusing a document that is over two-hundred years old, but to read about the Stamp and Tea Acts from a British perspective was fascinating!

The London Chronicle, December 4 - 6, 1764

The London Chronicle, December 4 - 6, 1764

The London Chronicle, December 4 – 6, 1764

Equally interesting is John Gerard’s The Herball: Or General History of Plants published in London in 1633. This second edition of Gerard’s catalogue contains over 2,500 “woodcut illustrations of plants.”

John Gerard's The Herball 1633, London, England title page.

Title page and columbine illustrations from John Gerard’s The Herball …, London, England, 1633. This publication proves that even within the study of plant life, historical content lingers.

Title page and columbine illustrations from John Gerard’s The Herball …, London, England, 1633. This publication proves that even within the study of plant life, historical content lingers.

My personal favorite however, is a Bible published in 1528. The binding is old and worn. Worm holes dot the front and back covers. The hardware ensuring the Bible’s safety from theft has long since broken and the leather binding on the spine has disappeared.  Latin is the language in which it was written.  In spite of all its imperfections, it is perfect!

Biblia, 1528

Biblia, 1528

The deterioration, composition, and language allow for multiple quests of a historic nature. This book encompasses so many facets of study opening windows of education for students studying Latin and/or the Classics. A Journalism or English major would likely find the physical structure and composition worth studying. The book as a Bible would engage theology and religious studies students in philosophical debate.

As my work continues this summer, I am likely to find many more interesting texts. My goal is to stay focused on the task at hand. However, as a historian, I may veer off the path occasionally and become lost in the history of it all.


June 24, 2018

UMW Reunion Weekend 2018

Published Post author

Last weekend, UMW saw another successful Reunion Weekend take place. This year, we celebrated alums from years ending in 3 or 8, although all are always welcome! And as Special Collections & University Archives is a department of all alums, this is an especially fun weekend!

Each year during this exciting event, Special Collections sets up in the middle of the action to conduct our History Harvest. During this time, members of our staff and volunteers are available to take physical donations for the archives, digitize materials to add to our digital collections, and provide answers to any questions related to our collections or Mary Washington history. We also had a pop-up exhibit of a few artifacts from our permanent collection, including beanies and vintage copies of The Bullet (now Blue & Gray Press).

Closeup image of a button that reads "UMW Archives" inside a red heart.

We also had free giveaway items! Above is one of the buttons made by library staff to celebrate the day.

Our visiting alums were really in the spirit! Staff enjoyed speaking with the various visitors to our table about their unique memories from their time at Mary Washington. Many alums gleefully thumbed through pages of past issues of The Battlefield yearbook, searching for old friends and professors, and telling great stories along the way.

Two alumni smile and pose together. Both wear alumni nametags, lanyards, and various reunion weekend pins.

Karen Mary Wands Parker, ’73, and Katya Calvo, ’73, visit the History Harvest table.

Alumni also gifted some wonderful gems to our collections this year. One alumna donated her diploma, excitedly pointing out that she was handing it to me exactly 50 years to the day after it was awarded: June 2, 1968. Another alum donated a fork that somehow found its way out of Seacobeck a few decades ago.

A fork with "MWC" stamped on the handle.

A fork with “MWC” stamped on the handle.

We also received a new beanie for our collection, complete with the student’s original name tag and a copy of “Mouse Week Rules” from September 1969. These are rules for how and when freshmen must wear their beanies, and the punishments for infractions. A freshman found without a beanie might be subject to “sing and dance to entertain sophomores and upperclassmen.”

Red and white MWC beanie with an attached handwritten nametag reading "Mary Lee Stevens, Marshall Hall". The beanie partially covers a piece of paper titled "Mouse Week Rules."

An alum’s donated beanie and the accompanying “Mouse Week Rules.”

Other gifts included a lovely framed print of some of the college’s buildings, a collection of campus handbooks and other publications from the late 60s, and a signed copy of a Dean Edward Alvey book.

In addition, this year, Special Collections & Archives stars Carolyn Parsons and Angie White co-taught a session for the Alumni College. About 35 attendees were present in the Digital Auditorium to hear about the fascinating history of our rare books, archives, and digital collections, and to learn some very useful preservation tips for both physical and digital materials.

If you’re an alum who’s wondering about how to make a donation, or if you’d like to know more about the topics covered in the Alumni College class, please let us know! Our staff is always happy to help.

June 8, 2018

May Day Memories

Published Post author

For almost 55 years, the month of May was synonymous with May Day at Mary Washington. One of the biggest events of the year, the May Day celebration was planned months in advance with each of the classes providing a list of nominees and voting for candidates with the most “poise, bearing, beauty, and queenly presence.”

May Day Program, 1917 and list of student nominees

Held first on May 16, 1914, the event initially was intended to celebrate both the victors of the athletic Field Day events and the elected May Queen and her court. Future years would see the sports portion of May Day dropped and only the May Queen activities remain. The event’s location would also change from its original home in front of Monroe Hall to the newly built amphitheatre in 1923.

Crowning of May Queen Betty Billingsley, 1929

Crowning of May Queen Betty Billingsley, 1929

May Queen Jamie Redwood, 1941

May Queen Jamie Redwood, 1941

The procession always began with heralding trumpeters, followed by the Queen and her attendants, and then the classes in order with their colors. Senior students had the honor of participating in the Maypole dance.

Seniors participating in the Maypole dance.

Senior class attendants participate in the Maypole dance.

Tickets were highly prized, especially once the entertainment expanded in the 1940s to include elaborate orchestrated ballet productions involving much of the student body.

Myron Russell portraying Joan of Arc in the first May Day ballet program, 1941

Myron Russell portraying  Joan of Arc in the first May Day ballet program, 1941

From 1914-1968, campus culture had changed, and by 1968 the Vietnam War was underway. May Day seemed unimportant and outdated to many of the students. In the March 25, 1968 Bullet, abandonment of “May Day, Emerald Ball and the Christmas Formal” was suggested to be “replaced by a fall and spring weekend of greater student interest and participation.”

The following year the Senate unanimously approved a new Spring Festival with an art exhibit, band concert and open air dance to take the place of May Day and with that the long-lived tradition was over.

A brief resurrection of May Day occurred in 2001, as students strived to modernize the event – changing the selection criteria to an essay on school spirit, giving proceeds to breast cancer research and selecting both a king and queen. But long-term interest couldn’t be sustained and by 2003 the tradition that was once the “high point of the semester” was history again.

This summer, Special Collections will have on display a photographic history of May Day, so come by and check out the Library’s second floor exhibit cases or search online for photographs at Special Collections and University Archives: Digital Collections.

Sources Consulted:

Alvey, Edward, Jr. History of Mary Washington College: 1908-1972. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1974.
Crawley, William B., Jr. University of Mary Washington, A Centennial History: 1908-2008. Fredericksburg: University of Mary Washington, 2008.

May 26, 2018

Guest Post: Digital Archiving Lab Student Aide

Published Post author

Written by Digital Archiving Lab Student Aide, Megan Lindsey ’18. 

I began my work here at the Digital Archiving Lab in the fall semester of 2017. Since then I’ve really enjoyed working with rare books in a way I wasn’t expecting or used to. I always had an assumption that archivists mainly worked in more traditional ways, focusing more on the physical preservation and upkeep and not getting involved in the digital. From working at the Digital Archiving Lab, I have learned that you can do both. I love working with older pieces and books, and because I am digitally archiving them, I feel good knowing they are preserved in more than one way.

Scanned image of a scrapbook page with two photographs depicting winter scenes at Mary Washington College.

Winter scenery at Mary Washington College. From the scrapbook of Mildred Lenore Burke, courtesy of her niece, Mary Kathleen Burke House, ’65.

Scanned scrapbook page with two photographs of students grouped together in front a building.

Groups of friends posing together at Mary Washington College. From the scrapbook of Mildred Lenore Burke, courtesy of her niece, Mary Kathleen Burke House ’65.

One of my favorite things to do is use our Cobra overhead book scanner to scan old and rare books. I really enjoy being able to work with older books this way. Some of my favorites to scan are people’s personal books such as scrapbooks or photographs, though usually the latter are scanned on flatbed scanners. I get to see personal perspectives through these pieces and see what they thought was important enough to save.

I love working with rare books because it means I get to work directly with history, which has been my whole goal as a history major. It’s also interesting to see what people in the past thought was important enough to publish. Some of the works have been books or newspapers, but one of my favorites was a strange little book from 1662. I think it’s one of my favorites that I’ve worked with since my whole perception of people in 1662 was that they were more serious, but I realized through a brief read while scanning it that it was full of mild but technically inappropriate jokes that were popular during the time.

Scanned image of the title page of the book, "Rump: or An Exact Collection of the Choycest Poems and songs relating to the Late Times."

Title page from “Rump: or An Exact Collection of the Choycest Poems and songs relating to the Late Times.”

Being able to work with books this way has been really enjoyable for me. It’s made my year working here really fun and interesting and it’s made me look forward to finding a future job similar to what I do in the Digital Archiving Lab.

May 11, 2018

Introducing Digital Collections: An Access and Preservation Platform

Published Post author

In celebration of Preservation Week, UMW Libraries is excited to announce the release of a new digital preservation and access platform, Special Collections and University Archives: Digital Collections, powered by Preservica. Simpson Library has been providing access to its unique digitized collections for ten years, and this new platform takes our digital preservation initiatives to a higher level, as well as provides the user community with more materials for research. Many of our readers may be familiar with Archives@UMW, our previous platform, and we hope that you will find just as much use and enjoyment from our new system as we move forward with our digital preservation technology and goals.

A screen capture of the home page of the Digital Collections system. It shows an introductory paragraph and five collections.

The home page of the new Digital Collections system.

As more and more formats are created and used by our University community, library staff must develop strategies to select, acquire, preserve, and provide access to these unique resources. While we will always archive traditional, analog formats, many of our campus community members submit papers as PDFs rather than printed pages, and create class projects on blogs and YouTube rather than poster board. In addition to viewing our fantastic physical materials, we know that future researchers will also want to take a look at those PDFs, videos, and websites. A large part of our mission at Special Collections and University Archives is to collect the institution’s history, and much of that today is digital.

While storing multiple copies of digital resources is always a good start, we also want to make sure we are pursuing active digital preservation. That is, we need to constantly be able to assess the usability of our digital files, making sure they are formatted for consumption (i.e. could you still open an electronic file you created in the early 90’s with today’s software?). If not, we must migrate those files to new, sustainable derivatives. It’s important to confirm that none of the records we are acquiring have viruses or other issues, and that none of the data deteriorates or “rots” over time. Perhaps most importantly, though, we must be able to provide access to the materials we are archiving. Our new platform will help us effectively manage all of these tasks.

We have lots of goals, ideas, and imaginings for Digital Collections. This summer, in collaboration with the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies, we plan to start an archival appraisal and acquisition project of the many UMW blogs created over the years. We will also proactively collect current projects created on Domain of One’s Own as we work with community members to decide what should and can be preserved. We plan to continue digitizing our unique materials, such as scrapbooks and ledgers, as well as our audiovisual materials, expanding current collections and creating new ones.

A screen capture of the Trinkle Hall Blueprint collection, showing website features such as facets and a search box.

Trinkle Library, a part of the UMW Blueprints and Architectural Drawings Collection, incorporates facets to assist with narrowing down browse and/or search results.

As access is a top priority for us at Simpson Library, we hope that you will take a moment to browse our new website. With the exception of undergraduate honors projects and graduate Education projects, which have been migrated into Eagle Scholar, all of our digital archival collections are available to search and browse through Special Collections and University Archives: Digital Collections. University Publications are still searchable through our custom interface, Eagle Explorer. Archives@UMW will be available through the summer, but we will have all links pointing to our new platform by the start of the fall semester. As you are viewing the new system, please send us any suggestions or feedback you may have. We are always appreciative of your ideas for improving access and usage of our collections!

April 26, 2018

Celebrating National Library Week

Published Post author

It’s National Library Week, friends! To celebrate, we’d like to take a look back at the history of our libraries at Mary Washington and see how we’ve grown over the course of more than 100 years.

Students study at tables in the original library.

Students study in Monroe Hall, 1911

The first library on the Fredericksburg campus was in a small room in what is now Monroe Hall. The collection focused primarily on the education curriculum and literature, but included volumes on various other topics such as agriculture and managing a home. This room would support the students from 1911 until 1915, when the library moved to Virginia Hall.

A view of the books, tables, and chairs in the library.

Library in Virginia Hall, 1915

The Virginia Hall library provided more room for the student body and the collection to grow. While housed in Virginia, the library would expand twice–once in 1926 and again in 1937–until it eventually encompassed the bulk of the first floor of the building. By that time, the school was expanding and evolving and the need for a dedicated library building was clear.

The front of Trinkle Library is pictured from across Campus Walk.

Exterior of Trinkle Library

E. Lee Trinkle Library opened in 1941 and would serve as the main library for the campus until 1989. By 1959, according to the Mary Washington College Catalog, the facility “contains more than 130,000 volumes, subscribes to 500 periodicals and newspapers, and has ample space for reading and studying.” By 1988, just before the the end of Trinkle’s run as the library, it would boast nearly 300,000 volumes, 1,300 subscriptions, and 142,000 microform units.

Below, you can see a few images of students using Trinkle library through the years.

Rotunda with circulation desk and card catalog in Trinkle Hall.

Interior, E. Lee Trinkle Library

Students gather at the tables in Trinkle Library, studying.

Students studying in Trinkle Library

A student searches through the card catalog in Trinkle library.

Student with card catalog, 1981

In 1989, Simpson Library opened and continues to serve the students and faculty on the Fredericksburg campus to this day. Today, our collections include more than 500,000 physical volumes in numerous topics, with more than 100,000 electronic books on top of that. Our databases and subscriptions provide access to millions of articles from multitudes of academic journals, magazines, and newspapers. We also have Federal and Virginia government documents, unique rare and archival materials, computers and scanners and printers, a ThinkLab and Digital Archiving Lab, treehouses, sunrooms, and fish! We’ve come a long way since the little room in Monroe.

Two students are depicted reading between the bookshelves in Simpson Library.

Students reading in Simpson Library, 1999

Staff sit at a computer workstation in the Stafford Campus Library.

Stafford Campus Library, 1999

Mary Washington students are doing so many great things, one library isn’t enough to support them! In 1999, the College of Graduate and Professional Studies opened a library at Mary Washington’s new Stafford campus. Currently, the Stafford library supports the education, nursing, and business programs offered at the Stafford campus. Stafford library, like Simpson, is open to all UMW students, faculty, and staff. Members of the community can also use our spaces and resources too! Check with any of our friendly library staff members about rules for alumni or community access.

Front exterior image of Simpson Library with flowering trees in foreground.

Simpson Library in springtime.

Come celebrate National Library Week, or any week, at your nearest library soon!

April 12, 2018

Pay It Forward

Published Post author

When Special Collections and University Archives staff created this blog three years ago, we decided to name it The Spinning Wheel, referring not only to one of the University’s oldest icons but also to the wheel’s forward motion representing the future and progress.  In these past three years, SC&UA staff have been writing about and documenting the collections, preservation, teaching, outreach and projects that we engage with daily at Mary Washington.

Tomorrow, March 20, is Mary Wash Giving Day, the day when UMW Libraries asks for your support in assisting us to continue our mission – to keep that momentum moving forward! Your donations to UMW Libraries and Special Collections allow us to continue to collect the history of all voices at Mary Washington, to look forward and initiate processes that will ensure that all formats are preserved for future generations and that students, faculty, and researchers will be able to create new scholarship through the resources we provide.

I invite you to join us tomorrow in taking an active role in preserving and making accessible your University’s history and scholarship by giving at! Thank you!

Check out some of the ways students engage with our unique Special Collections and University Archives resources.

Former student aide, Grace May, assists in the scanning of Le Theatre du Monde, a large atlas from our rare books collection.

Former student aide, Grace May, assists in the scanning of Le Theatre du Monde, an atlas from our rare books collection.

Senior, Sophia Geron, celebrates Founders Day at the University Archives table.

Senior, Sophia Geron, celebrates Founders Day at the University Archives table.

Students capture metadata and scan the University's herbarium specimens in the Library’s Digital Archiving Lab.

Students capture metadata and scan the University’s herbarium specimens in the Library’s Digital Archiving Lab.

University Archivist, Carolyn Parsons, works with students as they research the University’s early history.

University Archivist, Carolyn Parsons, works with students as they research the University’s early history.

March 19, 2018

What can you scan in the Digital Archiving Lab?

Published Post author

The Digital Archiving Lab, located in room 322 of the Hurley Convergence Center, is a space for high-resolution digitization, image processing, and lots of creativity and learning. Patrons can make use of image processing on both PCs and iMacs as well as get assistance with using one of our main three pieces of hardware. Each piece of equipment excels in a different area and can meet many different digitization needs.

One type of scanning device that the Digital Archiving Lab provides is the Cobra Rare Book Scanner. As its name suggests, this scanner was built to carefully scan bound material so that a very limited amount of stress is placed on the binding. The glass cradle gently holds open the book while photographs of both the left and right pages are taken simultaneously. The scanner can produce 600 pixels-per-inch images, optimal preservation resolution for manuscript materials, and can accommodate pages as large as 13 by 18 inches on each side of the book. Furthermore, the glass cradle can be removed so that items that can’t be flattened, such as herbarium specimens, can still be digitized!

Photograph of an overhead rare book scanner ready to scan a book.

The glass V-cradle on our overhead scanner gently holds open the pages of rare books.

A second type of scanning equipment is the Epson Flatbed. The flatbed scanner excels at imaging flat materials at very high resolutions. This equipment can be used to enlarge small materials, such as film slides or small artwork, when the goal is to reprint the image in a larger size. For example, a recent slide that we can scanned was originally about 1 by 1.5 inches, but after scanning at a resolution of 2400 pixels-per-inch, it could be printed in high-resolution at about 8 by 11 inches. This scanner can accommodate flat items as large as 12 by 17 inches, and includes plastic templates that you can fill with film slides or film negatives. Finally, we have flatbed scanners connected to both a PC and an iMac so that more than one person can scan at once, or so that you can use your operating system of choice!

Photograph of a flatbed scanner with its lid open, and a tray of slide film sitting on top.

The flatbed scanners can create very high-resolution images of flat items, including film. They also come with convenient templates so multiple small items can be scanned at once.

Our third option for digitization is most often used when it’s time to get creative with your items. Our Canon 50MP DSLR is the best choice for framed items, clothing, and other objects that are too large or otherwise unable to fit on the scanners above. This device can typically provide a 300 pixels-per-inch image, often more than enough for web viewing or regular printing jobs. There are no size limitations for using the DSLR, and the pop-up photography studio is created to fit the materials needs, whether it’s using a clothing stand or a copy stand! Furthermore, we use industry standard color charts to ensure the color accuracy of every image. While the first two devices can be used independently after training, the DSLR and photography studio require assistance from a staff member. We are happy to help during open hours or by appointment!

Photograph of a camera and lights pointed towards the binding of a book.

Our DSLR can be set up in many different ways. In this case, the camera was used to photograph the binding of a book.

If you have an upcoming scanning project or are curious to know if the Digital Archiving Lab equipment will work for your items, contact us at We have open walk-in hours on Thursdays from 10:00am-noon and 1:30pm-4:00pm. We are also available by appointment.

March 2, 2018

Black History in the Archives

Published Post author

In honor of Black History Month, the archives staff would like to feature some of our own history with regard to African-Americans at UMW.

Formal desegregation of Mary Washington College didn’t occur until spring of 1964. Prior to integration, there had only been two African-American day students at the school: Jacquelyn Pulliam, who enrolled in summer classes in 1962, and Gaye Todd (now known as Gaye Adegbalola), who attended summer French courses in 1963 while enrolled at Boston University. After the school’s official decision to open enrollment to African-American students, Kay Estelle Savage became the first residential student of color. She would stay for two years and then transfer to Howard University.

Venus R. Jones became Mary Washington’s first African-American graduate, earning a degree in Chemistry in 1968 after just 3 years. Jones would go on to earn her MD from the University of Virginia’s medical school, after which she relocated to Arizona to provide health care to the indigenous population. She became a neurology specialist, rising to chief of neurology at three military hospitals.

Venus Jones poses for a photograph seated at a desk.

Venus R. Jones, ’68.

During her time at Mary Washington, Jones was one of five other black residential students. She joined Chris Hall, Claudith “Dottie” Holmes, and twins Anita and Orita Whitehead. A 1968 Bullet article profiled these five students and their experiences on campus, touching on such topics as segregated housing and prejudice from their white classmates. The “Big Five” as they called themselves in this article—an homage to the Big Four Civil Rights leaders—overall reported very few hostilities from white students on campus, but also noted that many “don’t even know there are [black students] on campus” and likely have never had a conversation with a person of color before. Jones called the latter “an absurd situation in an institution of higher learning.”

Although a small minority at first, black students established events and groups to promote their heritage and increase their visibility on campus. The Afro-American Association was founded in 1970 by Dottie Holmes, one of the “Big Five.” One of the activities the group sponsored was Black Culture Week, which began in 1973. The week began with a ritual and featured various performers and speakers designed to draw attention to the achievements of the black community. While it was open to the public and became a popular event among black students and the larger Fredericksburg community, student organizers were frustrated with the lack of interest shown by many of their white classmates.

Six students hold candles during the opening ritual of Black Culture Week

Opening ceremony of Black Culture Week, 1976.

While Mary Washington had begun attempts at diversifying its student body, the institution still had much room for improvement. In the decades following integration, concerns were raised that the school wasn’t making enough of an effort to recruit people of color. In 1973, almost ten years after desegregation, there were only thirteen black students enrolled. Twenty years after the decision, in 1984, the number of black students had only reached 77. UMW as an institution has certainly made some progress since then, however the conversation around increasing representation and diversity is one that has gone on for decades and continues into the present.

Perhaps one of the most notable moments of black history at Mary Washington occurred with the hiring of Civil Rights leader James Farmer to the History and American Studies department. Farmer’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement were legendary, and from 1985 until his retirement in 1998, students were able to attend his highly sought-after classes to hear his firsthand accounts of his 1961 Freedom Ride and working for racial equality alongside other leaders like Martin Luther King.

James Farmer points from behind a microphone while speaking.

James Farmer addressing the James Farmer Scholars at their first meeting, 1988.

During Farmer’s tenure here, the college began the James Farmer Scholars program. The initiative identified a number of local black seventh-graders and provided tutoring and encouragement through high school toward the goal of pursuing college. Ideally, these student would choose an academic future at Mary Washington, but the program hoped to motivate them toward any college or university path. Admissions also began sponsoring a program called Black Visions in 1989. This program brought several hundred black high school students to the Mary Washington campus for tours and information sessions, allowing them an opportunity to speak with black faculty, current students, and alumni and to gain an understanding of the campus culture.

Campus continued to feel James Farmer’s influence long after his passing. In 2011, UMW held a series of events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides. Part of the celebration included a 1960s bus at the center of an exhibit featuring images and words from the Riders, and four of the original Freedom Riders attended the commemoration. One of them, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, spoke at Commencement in 2011.

In 2016, UMW granted its fourth ever Monroe Medal–the institution’s highest honor–to Gladys White Jordan, a black woman once denied admission to the college because of her race. She grew up the daughter of MWC Chancellor Grellet Simpson’s housekeeper, excelled in school at the all-black Walker-Grant High School, and aspired to attend Mary Washington upon her graduation in 1956. Despite the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954, the Board of Visitors denied her entry to the school. Instead, she attended Virginia State College, where she earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. She would go on to be a lifelong educator, earning recognition as teacher of the year in Richmond (twice) and as an “unsung hero” by the NAACP.

Come visit us in the archives or search for more university publications in Eagle Explorer to learn more about black history at UMW. And for Black History Month events happening on campus today, check out the schedule for the 2018 Black History Month Celebration!

Sources consulted:

Alvey, Edward, Jr. History of Mary Washington College: 1908-1972. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1974.

Crawley, William B., Jr. University of Mary Washington, A Centennial History: 1908-2008. Fredericksburg: University of Mary Washington, 2008.

Estes, Lindley. “UMW Honors Woman It Once Rejected Because of Her Race.” (Fredericksburg, VA.) Free Lance-Star, March 18, 2016. Accessed February 15, 2018,

Honnegger, Susan. “The Negro On Campus.” The Bullet, February 19, 1968.

Parsons, Carolyn Sydnor. “Doors and Minds Begin to Open: Decade of Desegregation.” University of Mary Washington Today 29, no. 1 (Winter 2005): 16-19.

Trenis, Neva S. “Freedom Rides Semester.” University of Mary Washington Magazine 35, no. 1 (Spring 2011): 10-23.

February 15, 2018

Welcome Back!

Published Post author

Welcome readers to the start of our 2018 blog. The Special Collections and University Archives staff is back from Winter Break ready to share posts about what we do, our collections, and the projects we are working on. Upon our return this semester, we were greeted by Old Man Winter’s cold temperatures and a bit of snow, and it looks like more of the white wintry-mix may be in the forecast for next week.

Chalked snowman in the lobby of Simpson Library

Simpson Library Snowman

I must confess, I’m a longtime fan of those perfectly symmetrical six sided flakes, and from looking at photographs and newspapers in our Archives, no matter what decade students are snow lovers too. Everyone loves a good snow day! So let’s journey into the Archives to see how students have embraced campus snow days through the years.

One of the earliest photographs we have showing the campus transformed into a Winter Wonderland is from the portico of Monroe Hall in 1925. Check out the vintage cars in the background!

The portico of Monroe Hall
Later in 1940 The Bullet reported it’s “Snow Use! You can’t keep the Willardettes in when the snow is falling,” referring to the freshmen’s big snowball fight.

Snowball Fight, 1941

Snowball Fight, 1941

“Blizzard Hits Campus” was the main topic of the February 25, 1947 Bullet. The article noted that “this is the worst snow storm in five years” and that students used “large pieces of cardboard for sledding.” Always inventive, students in later years would trade their cardboard for trays from Seacobeck, sledding down the hills behind Mason and Randolph and the Jepson Alumni Center.

Blizzard of 1996

Blizzard of 1996

Various snowmen also dotted the Mary Washington landscape with each new snow.

Look closely, these 1962 students fashioned a snow cat!

Look closely, these 1962 students fashioned a snow cat!

But the best snow photos are of friends having a great time together.

Friends walking in the snow, 1990.

Friends walking in the snow, 1990.

Students pile on top of one another in the snow, 1980

Students pile on top of one another in the snow, 1980

Enjoy the next campus snow and share your great pics with University Archives at!

January 29, 2018