University of Virginia Library Online Exhibits

Browse Exhibits (39 total)

Exhibition Preview: Collecting American Histories

Collecting American Histories: The Tracy W. McGregor Library at 75 features rare and significant broadsides, books, prints, and letters that illuminate many aspects of the American experience. Drawn from a collection initially formed by Detroit philanthropist Tracy W. McGregor, and given to the University of Virginia in 1938, the items on display tell stories ranging from the early settlement of Virginia to the Mather family of Puritan ministers; to the clash of European powers over the North American continent; to the diaspora of Native Americans from their ancestral lands; and to the servants and slaves on whose backs the American economy depended. 

The exhibition also highlights the philanthropic activities of Tracy and Katherine McGregor, who worked to improve the lives of many Michigan residents, and whose legacy includes ensuring the accessibility of this superlative collection to generations of students and scholars seeking a better understanding of American history.

Visit the exhibition through July 2014 in the main gallery at the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture, and the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. For information about visiting, please go to the Harrison Institute site or call 434-924-6109. Visit the full exhibition website here.


James Rogers McConnell Memorial Collections

McConnell photographs. The Aviator, ca. 1920.

The James Rogers McConnell papers consist of approximately 210 items, including 160 letters written by McConnell to his friend Paul Ayres Rockwell and to Mademoiselle Marcelle Guérin, a French nurse serving at the hospital in Paris. The letters date from 1915, when McConnell served with the American Ambulance service on the Western Front in France; 1916, the year of the formation of the Lafayette Escadrille, with McConnell as one of its seven original American pilots; and, 1917, ending a few days before McConnell's death. The letters provide a vivid picture of McConnell's service in the cause of France, not only as a non-combatant, but also as an active participant in the war.

The WSLS-TV Roanoke, Va., News Film Collection, 1951-1971

In 2007, WSLS-TV of Roanoke, Va., gave news film and scripts from their mid-20th century broadcasts to the University of Virginia Library for preservation and use. The resulting collection spans 1951 to 1971 and comprises approximately 13,000 clips. It also contains roughly 18,000 pages of the accompanying scripts read on air by anchorpersons.

In 2010, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded a grant of $254,600 to the Library for the preservation and digitization of both the film and the paper scripts. The NEH designated the collection a part of its "We the People" initiative, which seeks to encourage and enhance the study and understanding of American history, culture, and democratic principles.

Content includes a significant amount of coverage of Massive Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement in Virginia.

The WSLS-TV news film collection is now available to the public in digitized form through the Library's online catalog, Virgo. Each news story is searchable by both free-text keywords and controlled subject terms via Virgo. The collection record also offers date-based browsing. This exhibit presents a small selection of news clips and scripts.

The Renaissance in Print: Sixteenth-Century Books in the Douglas Gordon Collection


The Gordon Collection comprises some 1200 volumes of French books dating from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century. Over 600 were printed before 1600, and many retain their original bindings. The collection, which came to the University of Virginia in 1986, was the bequest of the late Douglas Huntly Gordon of Baltimore, a prominent Maryland attorney, former president of St. John's College in Annapolis, and recipient of the French Légion d'Honneur and Palmes Académiques. A Francophile since his undergraduate days at Harvard, Mr. Gordon was one of the most distinguished American bibliophiles of the 20th century.

The Tools of Preservation Services


The variety of tools, materials, equipment, and supplies (not to mention the knowledge, skills, training, and techniques) required for the preservation of U.Va. Library objects is impressive. Displayed here are a few of the tools found in Preservation Services in Alderman, the Audio and Film Labs in Clemons, and the Dell Conservation Lab.

Books Go to War: The Armed Services Editions in World War Two

Mark Twain. Selected Stories of Mark Twain.

The Most of Special Collections

For The Most of Special Collections, U.Va. Library staff and friends identified twenty-one categories that would provide superlative examples of the Library's collections, and within each category they made appropriate selections for display. The description of each item in the exhibition was written by the person who chose the item. The exhibit was curated by Felicia Johnson and Kendon Stubbs, with contributions by Terry Belanger, Christina Deane, Jeanne Hammer, Margaret Hrabe, Felicia Johnson, Ervin Jordan, Heather Moore, Kathryn Morgan, Michael Plunkett, George Riser, Ann Southwell, and Kendon Stubbs.

Layers of the Past: Discoveries at Flowerdew Hundred

Image of Fortified Compound

In 1971 a farmer plowing a field at Flowerdew Hundred, on the James River, unearthed an unusual assemblage of stones. This touched off the first of many excavations at the property, opening a window into the world of 17th-century Virginia. Significant discoveries emerged, including a fort, a substantial manor home, and a palisaded Indian settlement. Additional finds have revealed much older stories--people started inhabiting this land over 10,000 years ago.

The archaeological investigations at Flowerdew Hundred have deepened our understanding of the past, revealing a narrative that incorporates the experiences of Virginia Indians, European settlers, and enslaved African Americans.

The story of Flowerdew Hundred is also the story of archaeology at work. Countless scholars, researchers, students, and curators have excavated and sifted through layers of dirt, carefully recorded their findings, consulted sources from many disciplines, and applied innovative technologies to interpret the past. As you enter the exhibition and the world of 17th-century Virginia, we invite you to engage in the process of archaeological discovery.

Flowerdew Hundred

Mary and David Harrison

The recorded history of Flowerdew Hundred begins in 1618, when the Virginia Company of London granted George Yeardley a thousand acres on the James River, but written documents tell an incomplete story. As early as ten thousand years ago, successive groups of Virginia Indians began to occupy the site. English colonists, enslaved African Americans, Union soldiers, and countless others later followed—each group leaving behind evidence of their daily lives.

Over the past several decades, a clearer picture of Virginia’s early inhabitants and their ways of life has emerged through archaeological excavations at this property. The artifacts on display from the Flowerdew Hundred Collection at the University of Virginia highlight some of the many stories that have been unearthed at this unique site.

Questions regarding the collection can be directed to Meg Kennedy, (434) 924-9425,

Pop Goes the Page: Movable and Mechanical Books from the Brenda Forman Collection

Bestsellers: Popular Fiction in America


What do Americans read, and how have our reading tastes changed over the years?

Bestsellers explores American reading habits from the earliest works of popular fiction in the late 18th century to today's blockbusters. Chronicling the top-selling books reveals much about American culture over time—its preferences, preoccupations, and mores. The exhibition also considers the dramatic shifts in the way people buy, read, and own books in an increasingly digital world.

Bestsellers features rare and beautiful first editions from the University Library's Lillian Gary Taylor Collection of Popular American Fiction. Mrs. Taylor compiled a significant collection of bestselling novels and lovingly recorded details of each book in her collecting journals. Mrs. Taylor’s notebooks, authors’ manuscript materials, early bestseller lists, scripts and photos from film adaptations, and modern bestsellers complement the items from the Taylor Collection.

This exhibition is sponsored by the family of Robert Coleman Taylor and Lillian Gary Taylor.

Lift Every Voice: Music in American Life