Every student at UVa should visit Special Collections at least once. What is Special Collections? Well, it is a library containing more than 16 million items such as books (obviously), photos, maps, and almost anything you can imagine. For example, the collection has items ranging from Edgar Allen Poe's journals to a lock of Thomas Jefferson's hair. Due to the massive amounts of rare items Special Collections hosts, their stacks are not open to the public. However, if you really want to examine an artifact, all you have to do is ask. If you are not visiting Special Collections for research, they offer several public exhibits. Here are the top three exhibits I think you must see.
1. Declaring Independence: Creating and Re-creating America's Document.
We all know that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence
but few get a chance to see an original copy - unless you visit UVa, of course. This exhibition allows you to investigate the writing and signing of the Declaration
as well as its printing, distribution, and impact. To see England's reaction to the Declaration of Independence
, browse through some of the British articles. My personal favorite places the Declaration
next to a recipe. Good to know the British took us seriously!
2. "Who Shall Tell the Story?": Voices of Civil War Virginia
Undoubtedly, Virginia was changed by the Civil War and this exhibit illuminates that change. Read through various diaries, letters, and newspapers in order to hear the voices of those Virginians who personally experienced the Civil War. This exhibit demonstrates the duality of the war through white, black, Confederate, Union, male, and female voices. Additionally, hear from UVa students during that time and how the Civil War impacted them.
3. William Blake, Visionary / Envisioning William Blake
From now until May 2015, stop by Special Collections to view the artistic talents of painter and poet, William Blake. Not only did Blake write his own poems, but he illustrated them as well through paintings, engravings, and drawings. Envision the works of this visionary when you get the chance.
Now you have at least three reasons for using a library.