The University of Tennessee Libraries now boasts a collection of 3-million volumes. The university community and Library Friends gathered to celebrate the Libraries’ 3-millionth-volume milestone at an event in the John C. Hodges Library on the evening of March 26.
The volume chosen to represent the 3-millionth-volume benchmark in the Libraries’ history is TSVLVKI SQCLVCLV, A Cherokee Spelling Book, published in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1819. The Libraries’ copy of the Cherokee Spelling Book is one of only three copies known to exist.
During remarks at the March 26 celebration, UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and Provost Susan Martin praised the Libraries and its staff for their contributions to scholarship on the Knoxville campus and worldwide. Dean of Libraries Barbara Dewey outlined other notable milestones in the Libraries’ history and reflected on the importance of collecting and preserving historical Tennessee documents. The Cherokee Spelling Book strengthens the Libraries’ exceptional collections of early Knoxville imprints and material documenting the region’s history, including the history of the Cherokee and their removal from this area.
Before guests visited the Libraries’ Special Collections where the rare volume was on display, Vicki Rozema, author of several books on Cherokee history and culture, provided historical context for the Spelling Book.
TSVLVKI SQCLVCLV, A Cherokee Spelling Book, was the work of missionary Daniel Butrick and David Brown, Butrick’s Cherokee student at the Brainerd Mission in Chattanooga. The Brainerd Mission was one of many Christian missions founded in the early 19th century as part of the religious revival in America known as the Second Great Awakening. Butrick and Brown’s slim volume of only 61 pages, which uses the Roman alphabet to transcribe the Cherokee language, predates the well-known syllabary created by Sequoyah.
Daniel Butrick marched with the Cherokees on the “Trail of Tears” to Indian Territory in Oklahoma during the Indian Removals of the 1830s. Rozema told the audience that the journal Butrick kept along the way is one of the most poignant and thorough records we have of that tragic journey.
TSVLVKI SQCLVCLV, A Cherokee Spelling Book is a compelling and important document of the early 19th century in East Tennessee, and a fitting symbol for this milestone in the progression of the University of Tennessee Libraries.
• TSVLVKI SQCLVCLV, A Cherokee Spelling Book.
• Guests view the “speller” as Special Collections staffer Nick Wyman (left) relates its history.