News and Exhibits

Happy Birthday, Paul Whiteman!

Paul Whiteman wearing tuxedo

The acclaimed international showman and band leader was born on March 28, 1890 in Denver, Colorado. His father, Wilberforce, was a music director for the public school district, and young Paul began his musical studies at age three on a toy violin, advancing to the real thing when he turned seven. Continue reading »

The Scrapbook Challenge

A scrapbook from the Paul Whiteman collection

Open one of the 224 scrapbooks in the Paul Whiteman collection, and you’ll find anything from concert reviews to photographs of Whiteman and his daughter Margo at a horse show or an interview with Whiteman’s father, Wilberforce. There are images printed on photo paper, delicate pages torn from magazines, and thousands of articles on yellowing sheets of brittle newsprint. The scrapbooks have been an interesting series to work with not only for their content, but for the opportunity they provide to consider the challenges of archival preservation. Continue reading »

From First Edition to Second Wave

A selection of recent acquisitions on view in the Schow Gallery February 21-May 10, 2018 demonstrates the variety of material being acquired by Williams Special Collections through gift, transfer, and purchase. Highlighted here are materials ranging from a seventeenth-century work of natural history to twentieth-century products of Second Wave… Continue reading »

“Whiteman’s Burden”

The diets of contemporary celebrities are often the subject of much conjecture, with comments coming from “a source close to the star” and color photos featuring the “before and after” printed in countless magazines for sale in the supermarket. In the early 1930s, Paul Whiteman’s 100-pound weight loss made him the focus of such attention. Continue reading »

Alice in Williamstown

White Rabbit as herald

Honoring Williams Winter Carnival’s “Alice in Winter Wonderland” theme, editions of the “Alice” books and other works by Lewis Carroll are on view in the Special Collections Instruction Gallery, Sawyer 408. Choice items from the Chapin Library feature art by Sir John Tenniel, Salvador Dali, Pauline Baynes, John Vernon… Continue reading »

Does authority still matter?

The exhibit Claiming Authority: Do Authenticity, Reliability, and Authoritativeness still matter?, is on display during regular Special Collections Hours in the Chapin Gallery February 8-May 10, 2018. These artifacts, books, manuscripts, and visual works are collocated to pose the question: Are these elements of authority still relevant? Am I authentic? Am I reliable? Am I authoritative? How do you know? Continue reading »

Paul Whiteman to David Diamond

In a letter dated October 10, 1935 to Williams College President Tyler Dennett, Whiteman wrote that he was “still very much interested in the idea of a museum of American music at Williams College.” Whiteman had been collecting arrangements, instruments, records, and instruments throughout his career, and believed this material should be accessible and available to the public for educational purposes. Continue reading »

Missing Books, Missing Voices (Claiming Williams 2018)

What are we missing in the Williams Libraries? The libraries’ collections and services have grown over the centuries and reflect that history and the needs of each generation of scholars and students who have formed Williams College. As our community has changed and become more inclusive, have the libraries kept pace? Are we standing with and sustaining our diverse community and supporting all members across differences? Stop by Sawyer or Schow and tell us! Continue reading »

Separation Anxiety

Processing a collection involves careful consideration and appraisal of materials. Unruly piles of paper are sorted into series and tucked carefully away into acid free boxes. The end result, a row of neat boxes sporting clear labels, is a joy. But often there is more to a collection than meets the finding aid. What the public will not see are the (sometimes) towering stacks of materials that are “separated” from the collection. These are often duplicate photographs, non-pertinent materials, or publications available from other sources. Continue reading »