Sunday, January 13, 2008
Gettin' me some culcha
I attended a program given by the local historical society this week. It was really interesting and entertaining and I'm glad I didn't miss it. The librarian of special collections at the state library brought rare books to share with us. He told us that if some of the things he showed us didn't give us a tingle then we must be dead. He was right, from the very first book. He'd give us a little story about the book and then came "the reveal." The first book was a book of common prayer which in itself wasn't so rare; there are a lot of old ones. It just so happened that the one he was holding had come over on the Mayflower. And traveled back to England again, where it was purchased at auction years later.

Next he showed us two books from Thomas Jefferson's collection. He showed us the special way that Jefferson would mark his books as his property. Next he showed us two books that belonged to Patrick Henry ("Give me liberty or give me death!"). He actually passed those around. Pretty cool. We were supposed to "feel the power." Ha! He showed us a book that was published by the VA School for the Deaf and Blind back in 1851. It had raised type. It wasn't braille, it was our regular alphabet, just embossed instead of printed. He showed us a book, the publication of which resulted in the burning at the stake for the author, by John Calvin no less. Finally, he showed us several miniature books and gave us information on online resources so we could see the local records that the state library holds in digital format.

I enjoy history and have been to most of the historical places of significance in Virginia: Jamestown, Williamsburg, Monticello, Mount Vernon, the capitol and various battlefields around the state. To actually be able to touch and leaf through books that belonged to founding fathers was pretty awesome.