Library to Showcase Letters From Luminaries

Handwritten letters from presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Another by poet Langston Hughes.

These and more materials seldom seen by the public will be on view Feb. 17 in a tour of Wilson Library.

The library will open normally off-limits stacks for free public tours from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. The event, “Open Stacks: Behind the Scenes in the Southern Historical Collection, Southern Folklife Collection and University Archives of Wilson Library,” will feature guided tours by collections staff.

Other items to be seen on the tours include a letter signed by Albert Einstein; meeting records and maps from the 1790s that describe the founding of the University; and photographs, documents and artifacts spotlighting the work of UNC’s manuscript archivists in preserving the history of the South.

One mid-20th-century photograph shows staff unloading materials that were stored in whiskey boxes. Also on exhibit will be Civil War-era diaries and papers of author and UNC alumnus Walker Percy ’37.

The program will complement the exhibit “Making Archives: An Inside Look at the Work to Preserve Southern Memory,” free to the public on the fourth floor of Wilson from Feb. 9 to April 30.

Biff Hollingsworth, collecting and public programming archivist for the Southern Historical Collection, said the exhibit will honor a great library of “Southern human records.”

“We save these items from decay, from being forgotten, and we make them available,” he said. “Researchers and students say it’s like magic, but it’s really the hard work of lots of people behind the scenes.”

For program information, contact Liza Terll by e-mail or at (919) 962-4207. Exhibit information is available online or by calling (919) 962-1345.

Related material available online:

  • Worn Pages, Tough Spine — There is nothing quite like an old library. Carolina’s is a beauty, and a beast. From the January/February 2009 issue of the Carolina Alumni Review, available online to GAA members.

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