Illinois Man Gives UT the Gift of History

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The University of Tennessee has received a unique and valuable gift that traces the school’s roots back to 1870. The donor has no link to the university — just an accidental receipt of a document which most historians thought no longer existed.

Robert J. Wegener of McHenry, Ill., is an engineer with a passion for historical and antique documents. Nearly 20 years ago, he bought a box to add to his collection at an Illinois store for approximately a dollar.

“The document was folded up into several other papers,” said Wegener. “It just looked like a really great piece of history, so I pulled it out and had it framed.”

That piece of history was a key document in UT’s establishment as a state land grant institution. The document, dated 1870, is the original bill of sale for land in which proceeds were given to the state of Tennessee to establish Tennessee’s land grant university. The document was the result of the 1862 Morrill Act, legislation signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln that established colleges to teach agricultural and mechanical arts as well as classics, liberal arts and sciences. Tennessee, as a member of the Confederacy during the Civil War, was unable to take advantage of the Morrill Act until 1869.

Participating states were granted 30,000 acres of land for each of their representatives and senators to be sold as an endowment for the support of higher education. More than 17 million acres of land were sold, resulting in about $7 million for participating states. Tennessee’s grant of $396,000 was allocated to East Tennessee University, which would later become the University of Tennessee.

“Adding agriculture and mechanical arts was a significant change to the university curriculum,” said Aaron Purcell, university archivist. “Because of its land grant status, the university created many new majors and programs, such as the Institute of Agriculture and College of Engineering. Teaching these practical courses helped bring the university into the modern era.”

Although designated as Tennessee’s land grant university in 1869, the university evolved for the next decade through the provisions set forth in the Morrill Act. By 1879, it had solidified agricultural and mechanical programs and established medical and dental program affiliations across the state. Poised for growth, the university was renamed the University of Tennessee in that same year.

Several years after having the document framed, Wegener saw a television documentary on land grant universities that illustrated the significance of what he had over his mantle. After a series of telephone calls, Wegener offered the document to UT at no charge. He’s asked for nothing in return.

“This document doesn’t really belong to me, it belongs to the state of Tennessee,” he said.

UT President John Petersen said the document is an invaluable gift to the university.

“This document places real meaning on the goals our forefathers sought to accomplish with the land grant institutions. These universities have allowed millions of people access to higher education and played a key role in developing America’s economy,” Petersen said. “Mr. Wegener’s generosity gives us that rare opportunity to own a piece of our own history, and we are grateful.”

Wegener said he’s honored to give the document to UT.

“The true strength of any society lies in the ability to educate all its people,” he said. Wegener is an alumnus of Southern Illinois University.

“The establishment of UT as a land grant institution was a fundamental element in the future of the education, economy and welfare in the state of Tennessee,” said Chancellor Loren Crabtree. “This special gift which demonstrates the university’s leadership role in the development of our state will be enjoyed and appreciated for years to come.”

“Mr. Wegener’s gift ensures that this important historical document will be preserved and made available to current and future generations of Tennesseans,” said Barbara Dewey, dean of UT libraries.

Wegener said he believes the document was in Illinois because many similar papers were stored in a federal building in Kansas, which later burned. So it is likely that any duplicates of this paper were destroyed, he said.

UT does not have any similar 19th century federal land grant papers in its archives, said Purcell. The archivist said it is in excellent condition and will become part of UT’s special collections.

The document will be on display from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Hoskins Library, in the lobby of the special collections library, which is located on the second floor.

NIH MedlinePlus Magazine Free Subscription

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NIH MedlinePlus Magazine ( is a new quarterly guide that brings the latest and most authoritative medical and healthcare information from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as featured online on the MedlinePlus website.

In addition to the web version, free paper subscriptions are available, Use the form at . Or write for a free subscription to Friends of the National Library of Medicine, P.O. Box 31130, Bethesda, MD 20814.

Brown Bag Lecture From Pi Beta Phi to Arrowmont

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Wednesday, June 14 at the East Tennessee Historical Socitey

East Tennessee Historical Society’s next Brown Bag Lecture will be June 14 and will feature Anne Bridges, co-director of the Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project, University of Tennessee, and is titled “From Pi Beta Phi to Arrowmont: Stories and Images from Early Gatlinburg.”

In 1912, the Pi Beta Phi female fraternity opened a settlement school in Gatlinburg as a service project. Their mission later expanded to include economic development through craft marketing and health care. The Pi Phis diligently documented their work through reports, letters, photographs, and magazine articles. The University of Tennessee libraries in partnership with Arrowmont and the Pi Beta Phi School in Gatlinburg is currently digitizing selected material from the archives to create a fully-searchable website complete with subject essays. Other project members who will be participating are Ken Wise, Steve Davis, Kate Stepp, and all of the UT Libraries.

Brown Bag Lectures begin at noon at the East Tennessee Historical Society, 601 S Gay Street (across from the Tennessee Theatre) in downtown Knoxville. The mission of the Society is to preserve, interpret and promote the region’s history. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The Brown Bag lecture and current exhibits are offered at no charge and are open to the public. Click here for directions to ETHS.

UT Libraries Classes for June

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Save time and energy by taking one of our helpful library instruction classes!

Bring your research questions, papers and projects to get help finding library materials and using the information you find.

Wednesday, June 14 10:30 a.m – 11:30 a.m.
Tuesday, June 20 11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
Monday, June 26 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Location: 211 Hodges Library (InfoLab)
Click here to register.

Don’t spend hours typing that bibliography! Learn to use EndNote software, which helps organize references and inserts citations into documents.

Tuesday, June 20 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Location 211 Hodges Library (InfoLab)
Click here to register.

Learn about the world’s largest archives for social science and research data. This class will cover searching the archives, viewing and downloading information, and creating SPSS data sets.

Tuesday, June 27 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Location 211 Hodges Library (InfoLab)
Click here to register.

Clinical Teacher–new journal subscription

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A subscription to the new journal Clinical Teacher is in the works. It will be available electronically.
Meanwhile, three free issues–one each for the last three years– are available on the Blackwell website.

The journal is published by Blackwell on behalf of the Association for the Study of Medical Education.

From the journal website: The Clinical Teacher has been designed with the active, practising clinician in mind. It aims to provide a digest of current research, practice and thinking in medical education presented in a readable, stimulating and practical style. The journal includes sections for reviews of the literature relating to clinical teaching bringing authoritative views on the latest thinking about modern teaching. There are also sections on specific teaching approaches, a digest of the latest research published in Medical Education and other teaching journals, reports of initiatives and advances in thinking and practical teaching from around the world, and expert community and discussion on challenging and controversial issues in today’s clinical education.

Art Exhibit Takes on New Dimension

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UT Libraries Arrowmont grant project showcases interactive art gallery

Fine art pieces from the Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts can now be examined, inspected, spun and swiveled from the comfort of your computer. A digital art gallery that provides 360-degree views of art objects was recently unveiled as part of the University of Tennessee Libraries’ digital project From Pi Beta Phi to Arrowmont: Bringing Education and Economic Development to the Great Smoky Mountains, 1910-2004. Click here to visit the gallery Web page.

To date twenty art pieces, which include sculptures, vases, baskets, and teapots, are included in the online exhibit. Kate Stepp, the project’s digital coordinator, and Chip Hays, a student digitization assistant, created the 360-degree views through a painstaking process. They placed the art objects on a rotating pedestal and then photographed them with a high-resolution digital camera at every ten degrees. The photographs were compiled into a Quicktime file, which allows them to be examined from different angles.

“There are very few people who have used the technology in this way, and we think we are the first library to use it in a digitization grant,” Anne Bridges, UT librarian and co-principal investigator for the grant, said. The details of creating the 360-degree gallery are compiled a nearly 80-page manual that explains the process. Click here to go to the manual on the gallery Web page.

“This exhibit helps highlight the distinctive nature of the Arrowmont arts,” Bridges said. “The clarity and detail of the images is great–they almost come off the screen.”

When complete, the collection will comprise 30 art pieces. The 360-degree image gallery complements other components of the Arrowmont digital research collection, which include historical photographs, scrapbooks, letters and essays about the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School and the School of Arts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

From Pi Beta Phi to Arrowmont: Bringing Education and Economic Development to the Great Smoky Mountains, 1910-2004 was made possible by a National Leadership Grant for research and demonstration from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Learn more about IMLS.

From Pi Beta Phi to Arrowmont is just one of the many digital collections available at the University of Tennessee Libraries. These collections provide open access to materials of scholarly, cultural and historical significance to academics, scholars, researchers, educators, students and citizens of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Libraries is a member of the Digital Library Federation. Click here to visit the digital collections at the University of Tennessee Libraries.

For additional information about the institutions participating in From Pi Beta Phi to Arrowmont: Bringing Education and Economic Development to the Great Smoky Mountains, 1910-2004 visit these home pages:

Pi Beta Phi Elementary School
Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts
Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project
University of Tennessee Libraries Arrowmont Project