Two New Exhibits on Lee and Nelson (Not the Streets)


The Washington and Lee University Library is pleased to announce that two new exhibits concerning the history of the University now are on display in James G. Leyburn Library.   Both are located in the lobby area outside Special Collections and Archives, adjacent to Northen Auditorium on Lower Level 1.


The Beginning of a Great Legacy: Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s Acceptance of the Washington College Presidency

This exhibit illustrates the process through which Robert E. Lee was elected, accepted, and began work as the President of Washington College. This topic is explored through enlargements of original photography, original photographic prints, correspondence, broadsides, and circulars.  It highlights the various individuals that were associated with Lexington and Washington College that worked to convince Lee to accept the position.  Visitors can view original correspondence and read descriptions of those events in the words of the people who lived in that uncertain time.

Alexander Lockhart Nelson

This collection features Alexander Lockhart Nelson, a member of the Washington and Lee community from his matriculation as a sophomore in 1846 until he was awarded Professor Emeritus status in 1906.  A familiar figure on campus, Nelson was the longest serving member of the Washington and Lee community at the time of his retirement by 32 years.  One of four faculty on staff upon Robert E. Lee’s arrival, and a professor long after Lee’s passing, Nelson has a unique perspective on the transformation that Lee precipitated.  This collection takes a tour through Nelson’s time at the College, his first hand accounts of Lee, personal elements, and his distinguished career in mathematics.

This latter exhibit is augmented by a digital counterpart, created by W&L student Elizabeth Wolf.


Questions about these collections can be directed to members of the Special Collections and Archives staff.

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