Join Us to Celebrate the Gift of a Rare First Edition

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DeoOptimo_smallThe University of Tennessee Library Friends have begun a new tradition. Each year, gifts to the Library Friends, both large and small, will be pooled together to make a gift to the Libraries. This year’s gift is a rare 1725 first edition of Deo Optima Max, an important work on botany and medical properties of plants of the Appalachian Mountains.

The Libraries will celebrate and formalize the Friends’ gift with an event Thursday, March 14, at the John C. Hodges Library. Join us at 5:30 p.m. for a reception in the Jack E. Reese Galleria, followed by a lecture at 6:30 p.m. Botanist Ron Petersen will detail the significance of Deo Optimo Max. Petersen is an Emeritus Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee. He has drawn international recognition for his research and knowledge of mushrooms, fungi and biology of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Deo Optima Max is the work of the renowned 18th century French naturalist Bernard de Jussieu. The unassuming little pamphlet (only four pages) is actually quite a rarity. One copy of the 1725 edition is located in the National Library of France, but there are no recorded copies of the first edition in America.

Deo Optima Max will reside in our Special Collections, where the showpiece will strengthen our existing collections related to Appalachia. Special Collections actively seeks material to support UT’s Great Smoky Mountains Regional Collection and the study of Appalachian history, culture, and natural history.

Future annual gifts from the Library Friends may be a rare book, funds to support a renovation to one of the libraries, or new technology that will move the library forward. Gifts will be celebrated each spring to show the Library Friends how their donations make a difference to the students, faculty, and UT community.

Introducing the Database of the Smokies

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Dr. Aaron J. Sharp and Dr. Stanley Cain
taking field notes in the Smokies, circa 1935

Have you ever wished that there was a place to go when you wanted information on the Smokies — one site where you could research history, plants, animals and culture, and find links to online articles and digitized photographs? The Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project at the University of Tennessee Libraries proudly announces the official release of the new Database of the Smokies (DOTS), a free online bibliography of Smoky Mountains material published since 1934, the date of the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

DOTS contains searchable records of books, scholarly and popular journal articles, government and scientific reports, theses and dissertations, maps, and digitized photographs, as well as travel and recreational guides. Wherever copyright restrictions permit, citations are linked to scanned copies of the published item. DOTS can be visited on the UT Libraries’ website at:

DOTS is intended to compliment Terra Incognita: An Annotated Bibliography of the Great Smoky Mountains, 1544–1934, scheduled for publication by the University of Tennessee Press in the summer of 2013. With DOTS and Terra Incognita, researchers will have access to a wealth of published material documenting over 400 years of human activity in the Smokies and surrounding region.

Dr. L. R. Hesler at work in his laboratory,
circa 1950

DOTS currently contains about 2,000 citations, focused within the fields of biology and ecology, and includes the research publications of distinguished former University of Tennessee botanists Aaron Sharp, Stanley Cain, and L. R. Hesler. In addition to important early studies of Smokies biology, DOTS contains citations to published material from the areas of history, psychology, genealogy, archaeology, economics, tourism, environmental studies, geology, literature, cultural studies, and park management. In the future, the curators of DOTS will add links to digitized photographs from the UT Libraries’ online collections and to other content freely available on the internet. As the content expands, DOTS should become a comprehensive resource for “all things Smokies.”

The project team has been hard at work on DOTS since May 2011, building the database around Drupal, an open-source platform particularly suited for managing content. Drupal is both versatile and flexible. It affords not only easy-to-use search functions but also allows expansion of the bibliography through crowd-sourcing, an innovative collaborative web technique. Calling on the collective knowledge of a community of users, crowd-sourcing will allow users of DOTS to become contributors, as well, by identifying new publications and uploading citations.

The Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project will continue to update the online database with new content. Together, Terra Incognita and the Database of the Smokies will be the most comprehensive bibliography of the Great Smoky Mountains ever compiled.

Research expedition on Mount LeConte with Dr. L. R. Hesler (far left) and Stanley A. Cain (far right) in front row and Aaron J. Sharp in back row (far right), circa 1935

Anne Bridges, Co-Director, Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project, 865-974-0017,
Ken Wise, Co-Director, Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project, 865-974-2359,

16th Century Bibles at UT Libraries

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A collection of rare pre-King James Bibles now resides at the UT, Knoxville Libraries. The rare Bibles once belonged to a noted Shakespeare scholar.

A little over a year ago, the UT Libraries was fortunate to acquire a collection of more than 300 early printed Bibles and other rare books from the collection of the late Naseeb Shaheen, professor of English at the University of Memphis for forty years. Shaheen was an internationally known authority on biblical allusions in Shakespeare’s plays. He assembled his collection of early printed Bibles to assure that he was working from the exact texts available to the Bard.

The centerpiece of the Shaheen Antiquarian Bible Collection is a group of about 100 English Bibles dating from the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century when the Christian scriptures were first translated into the vernacular languages of Europe. These early printed Bibles, along with psalters, prayer books and homilies; Greek and Latin Bibles; and early editions of literary works dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, form the core of the collection used by Shaheen in his studies of the Bible in literature.

Shaheen’s collection of pre-King James Bibles was one of the largest in the world. The Shaheen Antiquarian Bible Collection includes more than 60 examples of the Geneva Bible, the Scripture most often referenced in Shakespeare, as well as early printings of the so-called Great Bible, Bishops’ Bible, Matthew’s Bible, the Douay-Rheims Version, and the King James Bible.

These extraordinary artifacts are now available in UT’s Special Collections for reference by scholars of Shakespeare, the Bible, and Renaissance literature.

Historic Tennessee football programs: online!

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footballVolunteer football programs from past years are now online. The Tennessee Football Programs are among the digital collections available on the UT Knoxville Libraries website at

The collection includes programs and guides for home games and postseason games. Visitors to the website can browse by Year, Coach, Guides, or Postseason.

The Tennessee Volunteers have one of the most storied histories in college football and some of the most colorful traditions to match. Over the years, Volunteer football has been host to thrilling victories, crushing defeats, influential coaches, dedicated players, and enthusiastic fans.

The football programs are packed with stories and facts. In the October 25, 2008 program, for instance, fans can read about the Tennessee vs. Alabama rivalry, retired Volunteer jerseys, and Smokey’s lineage and adventures (Smokey II survived both a dognapping and a confrontation with the Baylor Bear).

The University Archives at the UT Knoxville Libraries holds a nearly complete collection of Volunteer football programs going back to 1930, as well as a smattering of programs dating from 1904 to 1929. The library is scanning and uploading the programs in reverse order. To date, 246 programs (some 32,000 pages) going back to 1975 are available online.

If you have an old football program among your personal mementoes that fills a gap in the Libraries’ collection, the University Archives would love to borrow and scan your treasure. (Contact University Archivist Alesha Shumar,, 865-974-9427.)

The UT Knoxville Libraries digitizes unique local resources and makes them openly available on the web. University Archives collections documenting campus life that are accessible online include Volunteer yearbooks, Tennessee Alumnus magazine, programs from UT Commencements, and The Phoenix literary arts magazine. Visit to view the Libraries’ growing catalog of digital collections.

UT Libraries Adds its 3-Millionth Volume, A Cherokee Spelling Book

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speller2The 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 Boo
k, 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.

Pictured above:
TSVLVKI SQCLVCLV, A Cherokee Spelling Book.
• Guests view the “speller” as Special Collections staffer Nick Wyman (left) relates its history.

Smoky Mountain Photos in UT’s Thompson Brothers Digital Collection

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ThompsonBarThe UT Libraries’ Thompson Brothers Digital Photograph Collection has been expanded to include several hundred more historic photos of the Great Smoky Mountains. The images in the Thompson Brothers Digital Photograph Collection are the work of Jim and Robin Thompson, prominent photographers in Knoxville, Tennessee in the 1920s through ’40s and pioneering photographers of the Smoky Mountains.

The Thompson Brothers collection of Smoky Mountain photographs ranks among the finest visual records of the mountains before the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1934. The photographs -– shot with a large-format camera and showing amazing detail — include sweeping vistas and candid shots that document the local culture and economy before creation of the Park. Jim Thompson’s spectacular photographs of the mountains played a critical role in convincing the U.S. Congress to make the Smokies the site of the first national park east of the Mississippi.

The collection includes hundreds of individual images of the Smokies garnered from UT Libraries’ Special Collections and from the Calvin H. McClung Historical Collection of the Knox County Public Library, as well as Thompson photographs found in albums held by the Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library Archives of Harvard University and Tutt Special Collections at Colorado College. The UT Libraries’ Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project and Digital Library Initiatives spent more than three years gathering, digitizing, and creating records for the Thompson photos.

The Thompson Brothers Digital Photograph Collection is one of the UT Libraries’ growing number of image collections documenting the history and culture of the Smoky Mountains. UT’s digital collections are accessible at


For further information, contact Anne Bridges (974-0017) or Ken Wise (974-2359).

Read more about the Thompson brothers and their work in the 2008-2009 Library Development Review.

Open House at Special Collections, Sept. 10

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CartoucheSave the date! The campus is invited to an Open House at the new location of the UT Libraries’ Special Collections. Visit us Thursday, September 10, 3:00-5:00 p.m., at our new location in Room 121 of the John C. Hodges Library.

Special Collections acquires and preserves collections of manuscripts, books, printed ephemera, maps, and other unique research materials. Examples of these exceptional collections, such as materials from our significant collection of materials on Knoxville-born writer James Agee, will be on display at the Open House on September 10. “Talk of Summer Evenings,” an exhibit celebrating the centennial of Agee’s birth, will feature Agee’s writings about Knoxville.

Researchers from around the world travel to Knoxville to use the one-of-a-kind materials housed in our Special Collections. These primary source materials are now more readily accessible to UT faculty and students at our new location in the main library.

Drop by our Open House on September 10 to learn how UT’s Special Collections can enhance your research.


Special Collections Reopens in Hodges Library August 3

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speccollecreopensThe UT Libraries’ Special Collections have relocated to the Hodges Library and will reopen on Monday, August 3. Special Collections will be open to the campus community and the general public in Room 121, John C. Hodges Main Library, 1015 Volunteer Blvd., 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Special Collections — the UT Libraries’ collections of rare books, manuscripts and other unique research materials — were previously located in the aging James D. Hoskins Library on Cumberland Avenue.

It has taken almost three months to move thousands of rare books to the newly renovated space in Room 121 of Hodges Library. The new location in the John C. Hodges Main Library offers a great opportunity for new users to acquaint themselves with the unique primary research materials available in Special Collections.

Special Collections is also the access point for the University Archives — the university’s publications, official records, and materials that document the history and culture of the University of Tennessee. Manuscript collections and University Archives materials are stored off-site and require advance notice for retrieval. Political papers formerly housed in Special Collections have been transferred to the Howard Baker Center for Public Policy, 1640 Cumberland Avenue.

For more information about Special Collections, phone 974-4480 or visit 121 Hodges Library.

Library helps solve atomic bomb mystery on “History Detectives”

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Microfilmed patent documents in UT’s Hodges Library helped PBS’s “History Detectives” resolve a mystery relating to the invention of the atomic bomb.

Episodes of “History Detectives” attempt to solve historical puzzles submitted by viewers. In an upcoming program, a contributor is certain that his father worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II. His father refused to talk about his war assignment, except to say that he sold his patent to the U.S. government for a single dollar. Along with the patent, the contributor has a letter from the Atomic Energy Commission stating that his father’s patent had been declassified.

According to Harvard doctoral student Alex Wallerstein who is one of the experts consulted in the episode, the Manhattan Project generated over 5,600 inventions relating to the atomic bomb, resulting in some 2,100 patent applications filed in secret with the U.S. Patent Office. Many of those secret patents have now been declassified, allowing the “History Detectives” to unravel the father’s wartime secret.

Was this invention used to build the atomic bomb? To find out, watch the Manhattan Project episode of “History Detectives” 9 p.m., Monday, June 29, on your local PBS station.

Ceremony surrounds donation of Bill of Rights replica to Hodges Library

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donationceremony1The University of Tennessee Libraries has received a certified reproduction of the United States Bill of Rights, and invites the public to a ceremony celebrating the donation.

The document is actually a certified reproduction of the state of North Carolina’s original 1789 copy of the Bill of Rights. It is a gift to the library from UT alumnus Virgil Adams of Chattanooga.

A donation ceremony will take place at 2 p.m., Thursday, May 14, in room 605 of the John C. Hodges Library, 1015 Volunteer Boulevard. The public is invited. Parking is available in the nearby parking garage behind the Carolyn P. Brown University Center.

When the Bill of Rights (which would become the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution) was proposed, George Washington sent handwritten copies to each of the original thirteen states for ratification. Some of these copies are now missing; some have survived; two are thought to have been destroyed in fires. North Carolina’s copy has a particularly colorful history.

During the Civil War as Sherman’s army passed through Raleigh, North Carolina in pursuit of the retreating Confederates, an unidentified Union soldier took the parchment copy from the statehouse and carried his souvenir home to Ohio.

The document resurfaced several times over the next century and a half. In 1897 the Indianapolis News reported that one Charles Shotwell, who claimed to have bought the document directly from the Ohio soldier, was displaying it on the wall of his office. Learning of this report, the North Carolina Secretary of State attempted, unsuccessfully, to recover the document, and it disappeared from view for another quarter century.

Again in 1925 the Bill of Rights resurfaced. An agent apparently representing the same Charles Shotwell offered the document first to a private collector and then to the North Carolina Historical Commission. The Commission, refusing to buy stolen State property, rebuffed the offer and the document again disappeared.

In 1991, Shotwell’s descendants made another attempt to sell the Bill of Rights, but two auction houses approached by the family’s agent declined to handle an object of such dubious provenance. A similar offer in 1995 also was rejected. In 2000, two visitors accompanied by bodyguards visited the First Federal Congress Project at George Washington University and presented the document for authentication and appraisal. After being advised that they would have enormous difficulty selling their prize, they quickly departed without identifying themselves.

The eventual recovery of the Bill of Rights took place in 2003. Alerted to another attempted sale, the North Carolina Attorney General contacted the FBI, who seized the document in a sting operation. The fascinating story of the document’s mysterious appearances, disappearances, and eventual recovery is detailed on the North Carolina State Archives website at

Nor was recovery of the document the end of the story. There was still a court battle to resolve. It might seem obvious that the state of North Carolina was the rightful owner of its own copy of the Bill of Rights and that the document never should have been in private hands. But in reality the presumptive private owners of the document had a strong claim based in part on the fact that North Carolina had denounced the Constitution by seceding from the Union and also due to a presidential order issued by Abraham Lincoln stating that all confiscated Confederate property belonged to the Union. In the end North Carolina won its claim, and in 2005 its copy of the Bill of Rights was returned to the State Capitol amid much pomp and circumstance.

And the Tennessee connection? At the time of the Bill of Rights’ ratification, what is now Tennessee was a part of the state of North Carolina — a fact known to Tennessee political activist and sometime political candidate June Griffin. When Griffin learned about North Carolina’s recovery of the document, she thought Tennessee deserved a piece of the action. Griffin contacted the North Carolina state archivist and suggested that Tennessee was equally entitled to the document. Then Governor of North Carolina Mike Easley’s response: “Tennessee is well-known for making good whiskey; maybe she’s been drinking it.” And North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper suggested, “We’ll be glad to re-annex Tennessee if they’d like to become North Carolina citizens again. That’s the only way they can have our copy of the Bill of Rights.”

But Griffin’s persistence eventually induced North Carolina archivist Dick Lankford to certify the production of three replicas of North Carolina’s manuscript. Griffin kept one copy for her family and donated one copy to the Tennessee State Museum and Archives in Nashville. Virgil Adams, who framed the reproductions and assisted Griffin in organizing the ceremonies at the Tennessee State Museum, was the recipient of the third copy.

Adams knew immediately that he would donate his copy to the University of Tennessee. He is a loyal alumnus (Agriculture, 1954) and a long-time supporter of the university, having been a consistent donor for more than 45 years. Adams wanted this important piece of Tennessee’s history preserved and put on display where it could inspire students. The John C. Hodges Library, the main library on the Knoxville campus, was the logical place to exhibit the replica.