Category: Uncategorized

Legends of Film: Gordon T. Dawson

By , October 29, 2016

During this episode we talk to Second Unit Director, Producer, and Screenwriter Gordon T. Dawson.  In addition to being a longtime Sam Peckinpah collaborator, Dawson co-wrote Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, and acted as associate producer and second unit director on Movies @ Main’s current feature, The Getaway.

Join us for a free screening of The Getaway on Saturday, November 12th, beginning at 2:00 p.m., at the Main Library in the first floor auditorium.

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This blog has moved

By , May 3, 2016

This blog has moved to


The Nashville Public Library blog has moved to This site will no longer be updated, but you can still access the archive.

Visit the new site to see what we’re reading and uncover new titles and read-a-likes. Plus, get recommendations from our weekly round-table discussion, the Popmatic Podcast.


Go to the New Blog

A Little Old School for Women’s History Month

By , March 29, 2016
The Vauxhall Building of the Nashville College of Young Ladies, circa 1881-1899

The Vauxhall Building of the Nashville College of Young Ladies, circa 1881-1899

Since transferring to Archives a month ago, it’s been a whirlwind of information trying to learn all that I can about the collections housed in Metro Archives, and the work we do here. But one of the coolest collections I recently stumbled upon and mentioned in the Popmatic Podcast for Wednesday, March 30th, is the small collection we have of the Nashville College for Young Ladies. In honor of March being Women’s History Month, I figured what better topic to discuss than women’s education.

A little history about the college, first of all, it wasn’t a college as it is defined today (post-secondary education). It was more like a current academy in that it covered every grade level from Kindergarten to post-secondary education, or “collegiate.”

It was founded by Reverend George W.F. Price in 1880 when he came to Nashville with this plan of opening a women’s college. Before its home on Vauxhall Street (now 9th Ave S), it was located on Spruce Street, opened at the own expanse of the president. Thanks to its success in the first year, support was given by the Methodists of Nashville, establishing the institution as a center of Southern Methodism.

The school was moved to its Vauxhall home permanently in November, 1882, with its enrollment and prestige mirroring the rapid physical growth the institution was receiving. On the corner of Vauxhall and Broad streets sat the first of 3 large brick buildings, covering approximately half an acre of ground for the campus. Unfortunately, you can no longer see any of these buildings standing because they were torn down around 1949 to make way for the federal building that still sits there today.

The "Our College" newsletter for the Nashville College for Young Ladies

The “Our College” newsletter for the Nashville College for Young Ladies

Between 1881 when it had just recently opened and 1892, the enrollment increased by just over 300%. It defined itself as being the “Leading Southern School for the Advanced Education of Women.” At least this is the advertisement found on the backside of the school’s monthly newsletter, Our College, that appears to have begun around the beginning of the school year in 1889.

From reading through several of the president’s speeches (the school’s president), it was easy to infer that receiving an education was an important concept to him – and not just to become more knowledgeable. In one speech that appeared to philosophize education as an institution, Price (the president) argued that he believed that receiving an education is a “two-fold process.” It was first, the acquisition of knowledge. And second, the acquisition of culture. Essentially, he believed without one, you cannot have another. Or rather, that without the combination of both, you cannot be a complete person in society.

Yeah, I’d agree that sounds perhaps a little elitist or high-achieving for sure, but pretty realistic for even today’s educational standards. I guess you can liken it to the phrase “book smarts vs. street smarts.” I don’t agree that you have to have both to be successful, but they are both equally important in today’s world.

1899 Yearbook called "The Talisman" for the Nashville College for Young Ladies

1899 Yearbook called “The Talisman” for the Nashville College for Young Ladies

Another interesting item found in the small collection is one of the school’s yearbooks. The 1899 yearbook called “The Talisman” is in bad shape unfortunately, but also currently digitized and accessible for viewing in the Library’s Digital Collection. It’s a lot smaller than today’s typical yearbook, but still shows the culture of the school. And what’s most unique about the 1899 yearbook is that it is the last ever published by the school since the school closed after commencement of that year. The president of the school had passed away April 7, 1899, so a dedication is included in the yearbook.

The book opens with the “officers of government and instruction,” which includes the administration and professors at the school, plus the courses taught. The “Literary Department” is a typical liberal arts assortment of courses including languages, sciences, history, and mathematics. The one course title I found most intriguing yet still suiting for the school was the science class. It’s not just science, but “Sciences – Mental, Moral and Physical.” Makes me think of Darwin and many other current scientific theories.

And of course, it is still a women’s college, so they can’t escape having a “domestic department” or an “elocution department.” The pupils learned from the books, but were also prepared with a “practical education” that included courses in dressmaking, embroidery, shorthand and typing, and bookkeeping. They received a well-rounded education, indeed.

The "Demoralizing Irregulars" club at the Nashville College for Young Ladies

The “Demoralizing Irregulars” club at the Nashville College for Young Ladies

And the club pages are pretty cool too, including the “Demoralizing Irregulars” page. In one of the photos included, several students are featured eating fruit under the headline of “Demoralizing Irregulars.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but from my research, I’ve found that a woman’s etiquette did not include eating in public. Plus the fact that they’re eating fruit makes it even more forbidden. I can’t think of an equivalent club in a modern yearbook; there’s no “delinquents” page or “troublemakers club”, so maybe this was just a fun club where they allowed a little more freedom for the students. This is what I’m hoping at least.

And lastly, among the diverting clubs they had, I found that they had clubs for a few states. These states include: yours truly, Tennessee (or “The Volunteer State” in the yearbook), the Kentucky Club, the Arkansas Club, and the Texas Club. I’m guessing the states chosen were done based on the states that the students come from, but I’m not sure. There is no explanation. But the state with the most members is the “Volunteer State.” Go figure.

Program for the 1882 Closing Exercises at the Nashville College for Young Ladies

Program for the 1882 Closing Exercises at the Nashville College for Young Ladies.

Making the Ryman: Lula Naff

By , March 14, 2016

Exterior of RymanGuest blogger, Sara, shares one of her favorite Nashvillians with us today.

Lula Naff is the woman behind shifting the Ryman Auditorium from a religious venue to the entertainment destination it is today. In observance of Women’s History Month, I thought what better way to show off Nashville, the Public Library, and women than by reintroducing this famous woman that many may not know about but whose existence helped to shape one of the city’s greatest event venues.

Today the Ryman is known for musical events, the Grand Ole Opry, Country music, and excitement. But, it wouldn’t be known by these and other descriptions if it hadn’t been for Lula Naff. Her remarkable decision making and innovative ability to book diverse events have allowed the Ryman to maintain its historical run as a “must-see, must-do” for both locals and visitors to Nashville who crave a great time. Ms. Naff’s early influence of seeking various forms of entertainment for public and private viewing has become the catalyst for other venues attempting to gain larger audiences in Nashville. Though originally conceived as a building used for worship, debt and poor foot traffic forced Naff to invite wider varieties of performers to bring in more audiences and money.

Lula Naff was born in Fall Branch, Tennessee in 1875. She later worked as a stenographer for DeLong Rice Lyceum Bureau of Johnson City. She became widowed and, in 1904, the company moved to Nashville, bringing her and her young daughter along. After the company’s closure in 1914, Naff’s part-time job of booking Ryman Auditorium’s shows became her full-time career. By 1920, she was elevated to manager of the Ryman, becoming the first woman to fully manage the venue. It was because of her innovative ideas in booking such vast events and capturing more audiences that the Ryman was able to maintain its popularity and create an image of diversity. She retired in 1955, having worked over fifty years with the Ryman, and died in 1960 at the age of 85.


During her career, Naff recruited a variety of musical performers, speakers, and actors to the Ryman, including:

Tobacco Road Cast

Cast photograph of Tobacco Road signed to Lula Naff

*The Fisk Jubilee Singers, who began using the Ryman as their regular performance venue in the early 1900s.

* Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy, in 1913, which was the first sold out show at the Ryman.

*Merchant of Venice, featuring Maude Adams as Portia in 1922.

*Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt speaking on behalf of the Girl Scouts Council of America in 1938.

*Tobacco Road in 1938. Naff won a lawsuit against the Nashville Board of Censors who tried to ban the play and arrest main actor John Barton for indecency.

*Grand Ole Opry, which began their live performances in 1943.

Want to learn more about Lula Naff? The Special Collections department at Main library branch has an extensive collection of Lula Naff’s personal memorabilia, dating from the early 1900s to her retirement. Or check out the segment NPT did for Carousel of Time.

- Sara



Top 5 Favorite Wilson Collection Books

By , February 22, 2016

“So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, goodnight…”Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul

Okay, not really so long for me, just so long to the Wilson Collection because this is my last post for the collection. The next blog post you will receive from me will be from the wonderful world of Metro Archives. Til then, I thought I’d finish my work with this unique collection by listing my top 5 favorite books from the collection. This was rather difficult considering the magnitude of brilliant work that resides in the collection, but over the past couple of years, there have been a few that stood out to me most.

A couple of these books are currently on display either in the first floor art gallery or in the Wilson Room on the 3rd floor of the Library. They may have been mentioned before in previous blog posts but instead of including synopses and descriptions of each book from the collection, I will provide a brief commentary on what makes them special to me.

Here we go, starting the countdown at number 5…

5. Far Away and Long Ago
Author: William Henry Hudson
Artist: Raúl Rosarivo (lithographs)
LEC, 1943

How often can you say that you’ve read a book where the binding was made of fur? Okay, maybe a few of you answered quite often, but you get my drift. This book lands at my number 5 because it is always a favorite to show visitors, and if I had been involved in the creation process of this book, I would have had trouble publishing it. Only for the reason that I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone else after the very long and detailed process of designing and publishing the book.  But this book represents the creative plan that is intended for these special edition books – the entirety of the book tells the story, not just the words. As it is an autobiography of Hudson, who grew up on the Argentine pampas, part of the outside of the book was bound in horse hide. Yep, you heard me right, horse hide! It’s just a really cool book and currently on display in the first floor art gallery.

4. Down By the RiversideDown By The Riverside
Author: Richard Wright
Artist: John Wilson (etchings)
LEC, 2001

I only recently discovered this book in the collection because, due to its size, it was housed in a different location from other books published around its date. But thanks to the wonderful LEC website, I stumbled across it and very soon after, was examining it myself. It helps that blue is one of my favorite colors so the casing caught my eye immediately, but the etchings in this book are out of this world. I have not read this story myself but am familiar with the content, and I can assure you that the artist captured the tone perfectly with his dark and powerful interpretations. Illustrations are meant to enhance a story, but in this case, these illustrations call me to the story.

Down By The Riverside

3. Tender is the NightTender is the Night
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Artist: Fred Meyer (color gouaches and lithographs)
LEC, 1982

Along with the beautiful design of the LEC copy of this book, I also have to say that this is one of my favorites because F. Scott Fitzgerald happens to be one of my favorite authors of the 20th century (which is why The Great Gatsby from the LEC is another favorite of mine). Again, my eyes are naturally drawn to the color blue which is the color of the binding of the book. But mostly, I really enjoy looking at this book because of the content. This happens to be the last book that Fitzgerald completed, and though it isn’t a story that will fill you with joy, it does happen to parallel the troubles that he was facing at the time it was written. Because I love memoirs, in a way, this story kind of is one.

Tender is the Night

2. The Case of the Wolf ManThe Case of the Wolf-Man
Author: Sigmund Freud
Artist: Jim Dine (etchings and woodcuts)
Arion Press, 1993

Sure, why not throw a little Freud in here. Okay, though this case is rather intriguing, I have to say I mostly love this book because of the illustrations. Jim Dine is an amazing artist and has illustrated a few other books for Arion Press (for example, The Temple of Flora, The Apocalypse, and Biotherm). Like Barry Moser, another artist found in the Wilson Collection, Dine’s illustrations are easily recognizable and very striking. I’ll admit, there are a few of his illustrations that frighten me, but not from this book. Similar to Down by the Riverside, Dine created images that bring to life the results of the psychoanalysis.

The Case of the Wolf Man

1. Music, Deep Rivers in My SoulMusic, Deep Rivers in My Soul
Author: Maya Angelou
Artist: Dean Mitchell (etchings)
Music by: Wynton Marsalis
LEC, 2003

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times – this is my favorite book in the collection! Okay, maybe I’ve only written this once but it’s true and I’ll tell you why. It’s not only because it could be our only first edition in the collection, but because of the entire package. The amazing person that Maya Angelou was is demonstrated in this beautiful creation just for the LEC subscribers. Along with the powerful words, the book was vividly illustrated by Dean Mitchell and if that wasn’t enough, talented musician Wynton Marsalis composed music to accompany it. But even without the music, the book has rhythm and really pulls you in with every turn of the page. If there’s one book that defines this collection’s identity, it is this one because it exemplifies art in many ways.

Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul

You can view prints from this book in the first floor art gallery. And the book itself is currently on display in the Wilson Room on the 3rd floor of the Downtown Library.

Modern (love and) Romance

By , February 12, 2016

The world is full of books offering relationship, romance and dating do’s and don’ts. The Nashville Public Library owns over 500 titles on the subject of “Man-woman relationships” alone. Where does a lonely heart begin ?!?!?! Last year comedian Aziz Ansari authored Modern Romance, a guide to navigating love in the age of technology. Aziz teamed up with Eric Klinenberg, an NYU sociologist, to conduct research on the behaviors of those seeking romance. The results of their study are fascinating, but not always surprising.   See chapter 6:  Old Issues, New Forms: Sexting, Cheating, Snooping and Breaking up.

In an attempt to ensure that you are properly convinced to read this book, co-workers are sharing their takes on this funny yet serious-as-all-get-out book. Enjoy!

Cheyenne,  33 year old married lady

My husband and I started dating in 2007, right before texting and social media REALLY took over everyone’s lives.  As I read Aziz’s wise words, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with gratitude that we didn’t have all of this mess to deal with back in the mid-aughts.  How does anyone keep track of all of these ambiguous forms of communication?  This book touches a deeper nerve than just romance, though, and I really related to the general anxiety of modern LIFE that Aziz so perfectly and hilariously captures.  This book made me laugh hysterically, and it also made me a little worried.  I loved it!  PS: Best book cover of 2015.

Rose, 41, married since 1998; didn’t even have email while dating

I resisted this for MONTHS because I thought that it was going to be light and sort of dumb. It is not. The research is fascinating (especially if you started dating before 1995), and I laughed out loud about a hundred times.

Jessie, 39, Long-term relationship

I met my main squeeze the old-fashioned way, about two hours before internet dating became a thing when my roommate started meeting friends-of-friends-of-friends for drinks through Friendster. Text messaging existed, but it wasn’t something you really did unless it was an emergency. I picked up Modern Romance because I wanted to learn more about these things—swiping right, flirty text message conversations—that everyone else my age seems to have done at one time or another. Thank goodness I did! Since it was co-written with a sociologist, I now have something smart to say when a friend asks me to decipher a flirty-but-vague text message and I won’t embarrass myself by asking my brother about how his Tinder date went. Modern Romance is about more than dating. It’s really a book about the nature of love and human connection. That’s something to which we all can relate, regardless of our relationship status. It’s also going to help me immensely as I develop my new dating app, Tender (for people who just want a really great hug).

Elsie, 57-year-old divorcee returning to the dating scene

I am so glad Aziz was nearby to walk me through the minefield of sexting!  It is all very exciting and I can’t wait to find my algorithm mate.  Now if I could just figure out how to post this glamour shot to Our Time.

Ruby, 24, single, user of Bumble, Hinge, Tinder

Ansari is an uber-relatable millennial who has granted 20-somethings everywhere permission to keep swiping on Tinder.  Or was that just me?  He encourages singles to get rid of their FOMO (fear of missing out) and embrace the choices we are given via numerous dating apps.  His take on the current dating climate–here and abroad–shed light on the many flaws of online dating, while analyzing why so many older people are getting divorced. So we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t, but Ansari pretty much gave a PSA on how to craft a thoughtful message, a much needed reminder in the world of online dating.  Hint: “R U Awake?” at 1:15 a.m. doesn’t cut it.  According to him, it all boils down to the amount of choices we have available in the current dating climate and the not-so-quality ubiquitous matches.  He attempted to normalize online dating in a strategic thought process I definitely bought.  If everyone else is doing it, shouldn’t I?

“Modern love, walks beside me       Modern love, walks on by”     David Bowie

Holiday Treats from the Wilson Collection Suite

By , December 28, 2015
Christmas cards from George W. Bush (from Archives) and the Wilson Limited Editions Collection. Christmas Card display can be found in Non-Fiction on 3rd floor of the Main Library.

Christmas cards from George W. Bush (from Archives) and the Wilson Limited Editions Collection. Christmas Card display can be found in Non-Fiction on 3rd floor of the Main Library.

Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more….

~ Dr. Seuss

Welcome back Wilson readers, and you know what time of year it is. The weather should give an indication but it hasn’t quite caught up with the times though; give it time, it will. If you haven’t caught up as well, it’s the holiday season of course and of all sorts – Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, you name it. In honor of this magical season, I’m going to highlight one of the Wilson Collection’s coolest additions and talk about the fun and easy craft we did during the Throwback Thursday program in Teens.

Let’s get started, shall we….

The Wilson Limited Editions Collection includes 2 copies of Dickens’ holiday classic, A Christmas CarolThe first was published by the Limited Editions Club in 1934, illustrated by artist, Gordon Ross. The second book in the collection was printed by the Arion Press in 1993. While both books embody their own uniqueness and beauty, my personal favorite is the Arion Press edition.

Arion Press published their copy in 1993 to honor the 150th anniversary of its first publication (in 1843). The edition includes an introduction by Paul Davis, a Professor of English Literature at the University of New Mexico. Davis is also a Charles Dickens’ expert. His intro to the book provides a chronicle of the illustrated editions of A Christmas CarolIda Applebroog, a well-known American artist whose works can be found in several popular art museums, created 50 illustrations for the special edition classic. Applebroog created illustrations that pay homage to the earlier versions of the book while also applying her own style.

Along with the anniversary edition, the Press also issued an extra suite of 18 hand-colored prints by Applebroog. When the prints are stood up on their folding stands, it forms a tableau. This special edition was limited to 25 copies and sold with the book, which makes it even more special.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Tableau created by artist, Applebroog, for the Arion Press edition of The Christmas Carol

The Tableau created by artist, Ida Applebroog, for the Arion Press edition of A Christmas Carol.

A few of the illustrations included in the tableau.

A few of the prints included in the tableau.

During December’s Teen program, Throwback Thursday, I took 3 intriguing books from the Wilson Collection:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Artist: Ida Applebroog
Arion Press, 1993

A Christmas Carol, published by the Arion Press.

A Christmas Carol, published by the Arion Press.

The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
Artist: Albert Rutherston
Limited Editions Club: 1940

Dec Craft 2015_4

The Winter’s Tale, published by the LEC.

Genesis, translated from the Hebrew by Robert Alter
Artist: Michael Mazur
Arion Press, 1996

Dec Craft 2015_5

Genesis, published by the Arion Press.

Christmas ornament made out of old Christmas cards

Christmas ornament made out of old Christmas cards

I also included a craft for the teens to make ornaments out of Christmas cards. This is an easy and fun craft, especially if you save your cards like I do. All you need to create the ornament is (for 1 ornament):

2-4 Christmas cards (depending on how large you draw your circles)
Ribbon, yarn, or cord (about 1 ft long total)
Pen or pencil
Circular object like a bottle to draw circles

Step 1: On the back of the card fronts, trace 8 circles total (there is no definite size, I drew 1-inch circles and that’s approximately the size you see here).

Step 2: Cut out your circles.

Step 3: Fold each circle in half, creasing the fold well. Then, fold them in half again. They should look like the picture you see below.

Christmas Card Ornament

Step 4: Open each folded circle, cut along just one fold to the middle of the circle (only to the middle).

Step 5: This step can be tedious because you will have to do it to each circle, but it involves the use of the glue. With the circle facing you, place glue on the bottom right section of the circle. Bring the left side of the circle over the right now, and press down to the glue. Your circle should now look like a triangle. Now repeat this step until they are all triangles.

Step 6: This is another repetitive step – but take two triangles and glue them together. They should look like the picture below. Repeat 4 times until all triangles are glued to another.

Christmas Card ornament

Step 7: Now you should see where I am going with this, but let’s glue two of the sections together to create a half-circle.

Step 8: Before gluing the other half to each other, let’s first glue your ribbon or cord to the first half-circle. Glue it half-way down the half-circle for firm placement.

Step 9: Now you may glue the two halves together. Your final product can happily hang on your tree now very easily with it’s ribbon/cord/yarn!

Dec Craft 2015_2

The bottom ornament is the one created with recycled Christmas Cards.

Look forward to next month’s post that will include the schedule for our upcoming book-making workshop programs. I was going to post these programs this month, but it’s better to wait until the new year to finalize all details.

If you’re interested in visiting the Wilson Collection, you’ll find it on the 3rd floor of the Downtown Library in the East Reading Room (between the Fine Arts department and Non-Fiction). The hours are the same as the Main Library hours. If you’d like a personal tour of the collection where you’d get to see the books up close and even get to look through them yourself, either respond to this blog post or call either of the following numbers:

(615)880-2363 – leave a message for myself.

(615)880-2356 – leave a message for Liz.

Stay tuned for next month’s post!

Holidays at Harvey’s

By , December 11, 2015


The Metro Archives houses over 50,000 images in its photograph collections, which include photos, slides, and negatives. Our images range mostly from the late 1800s to the 1900s, and depict people, places, buildings, and businesses that have existed throughout Nashville’s history. In the spirit of the holiday season, we would like to share this photo of one such local business – a department store bustling with Christmas shoppers:

dept store 5553.8 Harveys Dept Store Interiors Dec 1955

This is Harvey’s department store in December of 1955. Harvey’s was once situated at 514-524 Church Street, just down the road from NPL. Established by Fred Harvey in 1942, the store expanded enough to become the largest store in Nashville. According to Ridley Wills’s book Lest we Forget: Nashville’s Lost Businesses and Their Stories, Harvey’s became famous for its unique promotional tactics, from a working carousel in the store to carnival mirrors to a cage full of monkeys near the snack bar (aptly named the Monkey Bar). It later opened up stores in Madison and 100 Oaks.

The first Centennial Park nativity scene, 1953.

The first Centennial Park nativity scene, 1953.

Harvey’s, while known for its fantastic windows displays at Christmas, was also responsible for the installation of a huge, dazzling Christmas nativity scene that spread 280 feet across one side of the Parthenon. The tradition began in 1953, and continued until 1967, and drew Nashvillians to it with its colorful lights and life-sized sculptures.

The store, like many department stores, also featured Santa Claus during the holiday season, which made Harvey’s home to a Christmas love story as well. An article titled “The Secret Love of Santa Claus” in the December 10, 1967 issue of Nashville Tennessean Magazine tells the story of a Santa Claus falling in love with his helper while working together at Harvey’s. According to our marriage records, the couple married on December 23 of that same year.




tn-mag-67Harvey’s, with its unique marketing, dazzling displays, and lively atmosphere, was a cross between a department store and a carnival. However, this store was also an important piece of Nashville’s history. It was the site of Middle Tennessee’s first escalator in 1946, and it was one of the places in which sit-in demonstrations occurred during the 1960s.

The original Harvey’s downtown closed its doors in 1984, but from its Centennial Park nativity scenes to its holiday window displays to its Santa Claus love stories, many will remember Harvey’s as a colorful part of Nashville.




The Aesthetic of a Book: Wilson Limited Editions Exhibit

By , November 23, 2015


Hiroshima, illustrated by Jacob Lawrence

Hiroshima, illustrated by Jacob Lawrence.

“It is with the reading of books the same as with looking at pictures; one must, without doubt, without hesitations, with assurance, admire what is beautiful.” 

~ Vincent Van Gogh

In case you were visiting the Downtown Library recently and moseyed your way into the first floor art gallery, and happened upon several books from the Wilson Collection and thought, “these books look familiar!” You’d be correct. They are indeed books from the Wilson Limited Editions Collection. Every once in a blue-moon, the amazing collection owned by the Library known as the Wilson Collection gets its own exhibit in a Library art gallery. That time has come again and the title of the exhibit is: The Aesthetic of a Book.

For those of you that haven’t stumbled upon it yet, you are in luck because it’s a pretty diverse and cool exhibit (if I can brag a little). I had a lot of help from my student intern for this semester, Brooke Jackson, and from my supervisor, Liz Coleman. Combined, we collaboratively created an exhibit that displays books and prints ranging from the Bible to Fahrenheit 451. 

The prints chosen from portfolios for the exhibit include:

Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul, illustrated by Dean Mitchell

Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul, illustrated by Dean Mitchell

Music, Deep Rivers in My Soul by Maya Angelou
Artist: Dean Mitchell
Published by the LEC: 2003

A Tribute to Cavafy: Translations by Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard
Artist: Duane Michals
Published by the LEC: 2003

Bookmarks in the Pages of Life by Zora Neale Hurston
Artist: Betye Saar
Published by the LEC: 2001

Cosi Fan Tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Artist: Balthus
Published by the LEC: 2001

The Heights of Machu Picchu by Pablo Neruda
Artist: Edward Ranney
Published by the LEC: 1998

Sunrise is Coming After While by Langston Hughes
Artist: Phoebe Beasley
Published by the LEC: 1998

Hiroshima by John Hersey
Artist: Jacob Lawrence
Published by the LEC: 1982

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Artist: Barry Moser
Published by the Pennyroyal Press: 1982

I don’t want to spoil the books that were chosen however, but I can say the ones chosen include a couple of my favorites, a few old and a few new, and several that exemplify the uniqueness of the collection. Here’s a small sample of a few of the books chosen:

The Pennyroyal Caxton Bible, illustrated by Barry Moser

The Pennyroyal Caxton Bible, illustrated by Barry Moser.










Temple of Flora, illustrated by Jim Dine.

Temple of Flora, illustrated by Jim Dine.









The Kingdom of this World, illustrated by Roberto Juarez

The Kingdom of This World, illustrated by Roberto Juarez.










If you’d like to see more, you are going to have to come to the Downtown Library and visit the first floor art gallery. The hours are the same as the library hours. Accompanying the display are several books from the Library’s collection; these books sitting on the window sills are able to be checked out.

Coming soon, the exhibit will include a digital component as well. The touchscreen in the gallery will include more material about the collection. Also, starting in the new year, there will be several b00k-making-related workshops open to anyone to participate. We’ll begin registering for these workshops in the new year. They’re all free and require registration. The classes range from accordion book making to zine making. Check out December’s Off-the-Shelf post to see the full list of workshops. To register for the classes (when registration begins), please call 615-880-2356.

The display in the Wilson room currently matches the first floor gallery exhibit, displaying the books that match the prints (the prints listed above), and a few other specialties.

Other upcoming programs with the collection:

Throwback Thursday with the Wilson Collection –  December 10th in the Teen Area @ Downtown Library, 3:30-5:00

Every month, I bring a few books from the collection back to the Teen area. Teens get a hands-on experience with the books, seeing firsthand what makes these books different from the ones on the shelves. Each program includes a new craft as well that coincides with the month’s theme. December’s theme will be the season/holiday, so come participate in the program and you get to bring home a cool DIY craft!

Here are a few pictures from November’s program:

Thankful books craft           Thankful book crafts


If you’re interested in visiting the Wilson Collection, you’ll find it on the 3rd floor of the Downtown Library in the East Reading Room (between the Fine Arts department and Non-Fiction). The hours are the same as the Main Library hours. If you’d like a personal tour of the collection where you’d get to see the books up close and even get to look through them yourself, either respond to this blog post or call either of the following numbers:

(615)880-2363 – leave a message for myself.

(615)880-2356 – leave a message for Liz.

Stay tuned for next month’s post!

How the American Red Cross Served Prisoners of War

By , November 12, 2015

Recently in the Metro Archives, we have begun processing a collection donated to us by the American Red Cross, Nashville Chapter. This collection contains a number of slides, photographs, uniforms, and scrapbooks ranging from the 1930s to the 1990s, and gives a wide overview of the Red Cross’s efforts in Nashville to assist during wars, floods, and other disasters throughout most of the 20th century.

The first issue, published June 1943

The first issue, published June 1943

Buried in all these materials were several issues of an intriguing publication called Prisoners of War Bulletin. The newsletter was published by the American Red Cross and sent free of charge both to relief workers and to those registered as next of kin of POWs, and it contains a wealth of information. Anything from the rights of prisoners of war  to how to send care packages from home to tips on writing letters is addressed in hopes “that anxious relatives of our men and women who are held in prison and internment camps may find in these pages the answers to many questions.”

With Veteran’s Day fast approaching, it only seemed right that we showcase this remarkable find. The information contained in these bulletins gives us a peek into World War II history that we often don’t see. Here, we see the small details of POW relief efforts done by the American Red Cross, descriptions of a war prisoner’s needs, and everyday life in a war camp.

POW-Bulletin-1943002Perhaps the most stirring pieces in Prisoners of War Bulletin are the letters from POWs published near the end of each issue. These letters are often brief, but the first-hand accounts and detailed descriptions are invaluable. We learn about the day-to-day activities in the camps and how POWs were treated – sometimes very humanely, and sometimes not. What I found most interesting were the descriptions on how the whole experience had affected and changed American soldiers imprisoned in war camps.

Letters from POWs

Letters from POWs

For example, Lt. Colonel Clark, a Senior American Officer at Stalagluft III in Germany, wrote in a letter to his family, “I, myself, have profited in many ways from my misfortune. One learns above all tolerance and patience. One learns how to help others and you’d be amazed to see how unselfish most people here are.”

These long-forgotten publications are remarkable in that they represent something more than their original purpose. The American Red Cross not only gave answers and comfort to anxious families; it also gave us insight into a piece of America’s military history and into the diverse experiences of American POWs.

- Kelley

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