Donors and Support

A strong library is essential both to the intellectual vitality of the University and to the quality of the education it provides. Our library cannot remain strong without the continued support from people like you, who share our goal to prepare students for life-long learning. The needs of the library are many — building and preserving the collection, adapting new technologies, providing the library staff with adequate professional development and training, enhancing scholarship and research opportunities for our students and faculty, and most importantly, building our educational programs. A gift to the library supports all academic disciplines and programs. We are grateful for your contribution.

The Friends of the Library

The easiest way to support the library is to join the Friends of the Library. The Friends provide the generous support needed to make the library a place of growth and scholarly engagement. By pooling large and small donations, the Friends make an essential contribution to meeting current needs and building the collection.

Visit the Friends of the Library site

Endowments and Major Gifts

Endowments

The University Library enjoys the support of many donors who have established, or contributed to, named endowments. These funds provide annual support for specific purposes defined by the donors. Donors may choose to designate their funds to purchase library materials, to support programmatic activities, or both.

Giving to Endowments: How it Works

When you give to an endowed fund, the University invests your gift as part of its overall endowment portfolio. Each year, a portion of the value of your endowed fund is paid out to support the fund’s purpose (collections, programs). Any remaining earnings are used to build the endowment’s value. In this way, an endowment fund can grow and provide support for its designated purpose in perpetuity.

Why minimums?

Endowments work best when the size of the endowment is large enough that its earnings can truly underwrite its intended purpose. The Board of Trustees approves all of W&L’s endowment minimums. The minimums are calculated based on how much it costs annually to fund the activity the endowment is supporting. However, a new donor may join existing endowments that share the donor’s goals and objectives if the gift is not able to meet the minimum needed within the specified time allowed. This allows existing endowments to grow and thus support the entire campus.

Major Gifts

Major gifts can be in the form of a one-time monetary donation or in the form of a gift-in-kind, which is usually an important collection of books or media in a specific field of study. Memorial funds and gifts may be set up to acknowledge and honor a person close to the donor.

Please contact John Tombarge, University Librarian, to discuss monetary gifts.

Gifts-in-Kind

The University Library maintains a gift policy for the donation of gifts-in-kind such as books, manuscripts, journals, media, digital files and other works. Materials are designated for addition to the collection based on the recommendations of subject specialist librarians and faculty input. They will examine donations and evaluate them in accordance with the library’s collection development policies and priorities.

If you are considering making a gift-in-kind to the University Library’s circulating collection, please contact Elizabeth Teaff, Head of Access Services (540-458-8645).

If you are considering making a gift-in-kind to Special Collections & Archives, please contact Tom Camden, Head of Special Collections & Archives.

Adopt a Piece of History

The library has implemented a preservation program to ensure that the items in Special Collections will be there for future generations. If you would like to combine your support for the library with a special interest, consider adopting a piece of history by sponsoring, or contributing towards, the restoration of an item in need of preservation. A label indicating the name of the donor will accompany each restored item. In addition, the donor’s name will be displayed on the Adopt a Piece of History webpage, which includes images of the restored work.
Please contact Tom Camden, Head of Special Collections & Archives, to discuss this opportunity.

Pieces Waiting for Adoption

Auli Persi Flacci Satyricorum Celeberrimi Granissimi & Difficillimi. Satyrae VI

Book

This small book contains works by Persius (Aulus Persius Flaccus), a first century Roman poet and satirist of Etruscan origin. The text is divided in two columns, one in Latin, the other in Greek. In his works, poems and satires, he shows a stoic wisdom and a strong criticism for what he considered to be the stylistic abuses of his poetic contemporaries. His works, which became very popular in the Middle Ages, were published after his death by the stoic philosopher Lucius Annaeus Cornutus, his friend and mentor.

The binding is of interest as well. The book is covered with a piece of 14th century sheet music written on parchment. Therefore, the book, published in Amsterdam in 1595, is as much as 200 years younger that the cover material. The binding is broken and one can see that a music manuscript was also used for the spine piece.

Because of its unusual binding, we would leave the book as is and have a protected box made for it.

Before Restoration

Biblia Sacra Polyglotta, 6 vols. London: Thomas Roycroft, 1655-57.

Folio Book

Thomas Roycroft (d. 1677) was conspicuous in the 17th Century for the excellence of his work. Adept in working with non-Roman types, he also produced a series of the classics under the editorship of John Ogilby. On the accession of Charles II, Roycraft was appointed King’s Printer in the Oriental Languages. He was Master of the Stationer’s Company in 1675.

At his death the Bishop of Chester, Brian Walton (1600?-1661), the editor of the Biblia Sacra, studied at Magdalen and Peterhouse, Cambridge. An adherent of Laud, he offended his parishioners by demanding more munificent tithes. After a brief span in prison because of this impertinence, he went to Oxford and was made D.D.  A portrait of Walton is on the flyleaf of each volume.

The Bible (this Biblia Sacra set) was one of the first books published by subscription in England, at a putative price of 10 pounds. Eight thousand pounds were collected to finance the printing. Two dedications were affixed, the first to Cromwell, superseded by one to Charles II.

The bindings have been covered with two different upholstery (!) leathers and printed marbled endsheets have been added. The orginial sewn endbands are missing.

Restoration cost per volume

  • Volume 1 = $3,045
  • Volume 2 = $2,428
  • Volume 3 = $3,140
  • Volume 4 = $2,380
  • Volume 5 = $2,808
  • Volume 6 = $2,998

Before Restoration

L.A. Florus: cum notis intergris Cl. Salmasii et selectissimis variorum accurante S.M.D.C. additus etiam L. Ampelius ex bibliotheca Cl. Salmasii. Amstelodami: Ex officina Elzeviriana, 1674

Book

Lucius Annaeus Florus (c. 74 AD – c. 130 AD) was a Roman historian who lived in the time of Trajan and Hadrian. He was born in Africa.

This beautiful book, published in Amsterdam in 1674 by Elzevier, is an account of the history of Rome.

The textblock is intact and in good condition. The original endbands are also extant. The binding has been rebacked with upholstery (!) leather and paper labels applied. An early manuscript fragment has been used to reinforce the interior rear hinge.

 

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Estimated cost of restoration: $844.00

Laus Asini. Lugd. Batavorum: Elzeviriana, 1629

Book

This lovely book by Daniel Heinsius, a Latin scholar from Germany, was published in 1629. The book is written in German and published in one of the early established centers of scholarship and publishing, Leiden, the Netherlands, which in that time was known as Lugdinum Batavorum.

This book was donated to the Washington and Lee library by William Wilson Corcoran (December 27, 1798 – February 24, 1888), who was an American banker, philanthropist, and art collector. He started the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The textblock is intact. The full calf binding is worn but intact, and appears to date from the late 18th to early 19th century. The endbands are present, but partially detached. A paper label is adhered to the spine.

 

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Estimated cost of restoration: $949.00

Phillis Wheatley's Poems, 1802

Book

Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral by Phillis Wheatley, Negro Servant to Mr. John Wheatley, of Boston, in New England (first published 1 September 1773) is a collection of 39 poems written by Phillis Wheatley, the first professional African-American woman poet in America and the first African-American woman whose writings were published.

Born in Senegal, Africa around 1753, Phillis Wheatley was brought to America in 1761 and sold into slavery to John Wheatley. The Wheatley family took great interest in Phillis’ education. According to the letter from John Wheatley included in the preface of her book, she learned English in just sixteen months and “as to her writing, her own curiosity led her to it…”

From a young age Wheatley studied Latin and the works of Homer, Virgil, and Ovid; she greatly admired the poems of Milton and Pope. These classical influences are present in her work in terms of both poetic form and classical allusions, though her most pervasive influences were arguably the Bible and eighteenth century evangelical Christianity.   Read more

 

Conservation: The book has been surface cleaned, and placed in a handmade clamshell box. This piece is still available for adoption.

 

After Restoration

Venetian commissione issued by Doge Marcantonio Giustinian, dated ca. 1688

Book

Marcantonio Giustinian (March 2, 1619 – March 23, 1688) was the 107th Doge of Venice, reigning from his election on January 26, 1684 until his death. Giustiniani was the quintessential Doge of the Republic of Venice, taking little interest in affairs of state. He had little role in the conduct of the Morean War (1684-1699), which was raging during his time as Doge, though a number of military victories were secured by provveditore Francesco Morosini, who would later be Giustinian’s successor as Doge.

This book is handwritten on vellum pages, and bound in a beautiful silk brocade over wooden boards. The vellum textblock is intact and in excellent condition. The silk fabric covering the binding has frayed at the edges, and the spine has been rebacked with bookcloth. The original endbands are present but show degradation. The book needs extensive restoration of the binding.

After restoration, the book will be placed in a protective clamshell box, specially made for this volume.

Before Restoration

Estimated cost of restoration: $1,158.00

Letcher Pamphlet Collection

Folio Book

The Letcher Pamphlet Collection belonged to Governor John Letcher (Civil War governor) and is a unique collection of pamphlets bound specifically for him. This collection is an important primary source for Civil War research.

Estimated cost of restoration: $4,013.00

Precious Faith

Book

“Precious Faith” by Edward Polhill (1675) is the oldest book in the Liberty Hall Collection, purchased almost in entirety by the school’s first rector, William A. Graham, on a trip to Philadelphia in March, 1776. Liberty Hall was the first academy on the grounds of what is now Washington and Lee University. The 240-year-old library has survived academy fires, Hunter’s raid in 1864 and normal attrition.
Slightly more than one half of the 270 volumes purchased remain in Washington and Lee’s current library. It is our intent to restore all Liberty Hall Collection volumes in disrepair. 

Before Restoration

Estimated cost of restoration: $4,142.00

Washington and Lee/ Jacob Fuller Scrapbook, 19th century

Folio Book

This rich volume originally served as a Ledger for the town of Rockbridge Baths, near Lexington, but was repurposed by secretary Jacob Fuller as a scrapbook/commonplace book to contain numerous documents and other materials important to the history of Washington and Lee University, many from the 1770s. The original ledger information is written in iron gall ink, and is partially visible. Fifty-seven attachments remain in the volume, many of them adhered (glued down) in a staggered fashion to allow for access of materials. The binding is worn and fractured along the spine, and two large printed clippings have been mounted to the front.

The volume will be fully restored, and will be housed in a custom-made clamshell box.

Before Restoration

Estimated cost of restoration: $8,220.00

Washington's Farewell Address miniature book

Book

Miniature books are generally no larger than 3 inches in height, width, or thickness. This miniature book of George Washington’s farewell address was created by the Kingsport Press training division, located in Kingsport, TN, as a student exercise in 1932. It is part of a set of three books, of which we only own the Washington address. The other two are: Addresses of Abraham Lincoln (1929), The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge (1930).  Although the books have a print that is very small, the print is still legible to the naked eye, though it may not be a bad idea to break out the magnifying glass!

Washington’s Farewell Address is 142 pages and was a tribute to the bicentennial of Washington’s birth.

 

 

This book has been preserved in a beautiful display type clamshell box, but is still available for adoption.

After Restoration

Estimated cost of restoration: $463.00

Pieces Already Adopted or Restored

Restored

Bible, New Testament [Greek], printed at the Louvre, 1642

Folio Book

Tom Camden, Head of Special Collections & Archives, wrote an interesting piece on this special bible, which you can read here.

This large volume was printed for Louis XIII, King of France 1610-1643, by the king’s bindery at the Louvre. Two of the validating clues are the half-dollar sized, original and intact crimson wax seals exhibiting the king’s coat of arms on the title page. This important historic artifact has been the focus of two Spring term classes and numerous department “open-houses” since 2013 when it was rediscovered in the collection.

The book was given to W&L Special Collections by Friend of the Library James L. Green, ‘84L.

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Generously adopted by An anonymous donor, in appreciation of the Washington and Lee University Deans and Staff of Residential Life, 2016

Restored

Ciceronis Opera (Works of Cicero), vols. VI and XX

Book

These two volumes of a multi-volume set of Ciceronis Opera (1749) bear the beautiful and distinctive bookplate of John Park(e) Custis, the stepson of George Washington. In addition, the books carry the signature of Mary Anna Randolph Custis, the granddaughter of John Parke Custis and the wife of Robert E. Lee. The two small volumes became part of the library collection when G.W.C. Lee, son of Robert E. Lee, left the President’s office in 1897. The provenance from the Washington family to the Lee family is startlingly clear from the ownership stamps and signatures present on both volumes.

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Ms. Lisa Moore of Staunton, Virginia

Restored

Jefferson's Manual of Parliamentary Practice, 1801

Book

A Manual of Parliamentary Practice for the Use of the Senate of the United States, written by Thomas Jefferson in 1801, is the first American book on parliamentary procedure. As Vice President of the United States, Jefferson served as the Senate’s presiding officer from 1797 to 1801. Throughout these four years, Jefferson worked on various texts and, in early 1800, started to assemble them into a single manuscript for the Senate’s use. In December 1800 he delivered his manuscript to printer Samuel Harrison Smith, who delivered the final product to Jefferson on 27 February 1801.

Jefferson’s Manual was based on notes Jefferson took while studying parliamentary procedure at the College of William and Mary. A second edition with added material by Jefferson was printed in 1812.

The Manual is arranged in fifty-three categories from (1) The Importance of Rules to (53) Impeachment. Each section includes the appropriate rules and practices of the British Parliament along with the applicable texts from the U.S. Constitution and the thirty-two Senate rules that existed in 1801.

 

 

 

After Restoration

Generously adopted by The Friends of the Library, W&L, in honor of J. Hardin Marion '55, '58L, chairman emeritus of the Friends' board

Restored

Martin Luther Tract, 1524: Sermon on Peter and Jude

Book

Tom Camden, Head of Special Collections & Archives, wrote an interesting article about these tracts and how they came to W&L. The full article is here.

This is an excerpt from that text:

“At some point in the latter part of the 19th century, Washington and Lee was given four early Luther tracts by Dr. Samuel Rolfe Millar. Millar, a Virginia native, had been appointed United States Consul at Leipsic, Germany by President Cleveland in March 1886. From the handwritten inscription made by Millar, it is apparent that he acquired the tracts while in Leipsic. Millar was guest lecturer at Washington and Lee University during the 1891-92 academic year, so the gift may have been made during that period. Dr. Millar’s son, Samuel Rolfe Millar Jr., graduated from Washington and Lee in 1911.

The earliest of Washington and Lee’s Luther tracts was done in 1523 and, like the other three, was printed in German. The title of the tract translates to “An Order of Worship for the Community,” and the tract is graced by an exquisite woodblock paper cover executed by Lucas Cranach the Elder, a staunch financial supporter and ally of Martin Luther.

The other three tracts, one published in 1524 and two in 1531, are sermons. The 1524 publication is a sermon on Peter and Jude, and the 1531 pieces include a sermon on Hebrews and one on angels. All have detailed woodblock covers, possibly done by Cranach, although the 1523 tract is the only documented Cranach woodcut.”

 

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Joshua Duemler ’17

Restored

Martin Luther Tracts, 1531: Sermons

Book

Tom Camden, Head of Special Collections & Archives, wrote an interesting article about these tracts and how they came to W&L. The full article is here.

This is an excerpt from that text:

“At some point in the latter part of the 19th century, Washington and Lee was given four early Luther tracts by Dr. Samuel Rolfe Millar. Millar, a Virginia native, had been appointed United States Consul at Leipsic, Germany by President Cleveland in March 1886. From the handwritten inscription made by Millar, it is apparent that he acquired the tracts while in Leipsic. Millar was guest lecturer at Washington and Lee University during the 1891-92 academic year, so the gift may have been made during that period. Dr. Millar’s son, Samuel Rolfe Millar Jr., graduated from Washington and Lee in 1911.

The earliest of Washington and Lee’s Luther tracts was done in 1523 and, like the other three, was printed in German. The title of the tract translates to “An Order of Worship for the Community,” and the tract is graced by an exquisite woodblock paper cover executed by Lucas Cranach the Elder, a staunch financial supporter and ally of Martin Luther.

The other three tracts, one published in 1524 and two in 1531, are sermons. The 1524 publication is a sermon on Peter and Jude, and the 1531 pieces include a sermon on Hebrews and one on angels. All have detailed woodblock covers, possibly done by Cranach, although the 1523 tract is the only documented Cranach woodcut.”

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Joshua Duemler ’17

Restored

Lee letter from Arlington, 12 July 1853

Letter

This 1853 letter by Robert E. Lee is currently laminated with a material that has been proven destructive to the document.

Restoration:

Delaminate in solvent bath. Deacidify non-aqueously . Guard folio and insert in polyester film sleeve.

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Ms. Susan Lee Harris in honor of Dr. Samuel A. Syme '56, and in memory of her father, Lt. Col. Robert B. Lee, U.S. Army.

Restored

Lee letter from West Point, 1 September 1852

Letter

This 1852 letter by Robert E. Lee is laminated with a material that has proven to be destructive to the document.

 

Restoration:

Delaminate in solvent bath. Deacidify non-aquously. Guard folio and insert in polyester film sleeve.

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Dr. Samuel A. Syme, W&L ‘56

Restored

Lee letter from West Point, 14 April 1853

Letter

This letter by Robert E. Lee is currently laminated with a material that has been proven destructive to the document.

Restoration:

Delaminate in solvent bath. Deacidify non-aqueously. Guard folio and insert in polyester film sleeve.

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Dr. Samuel A. Syme, W&L ‘56

Restored

Lee letter from West Point, 2 February 1853

Letter

This letter by Robert E. Lee is currently laminated with a material that has proven destructive to the document.

Restoration:

Delaminate in solvent bath. Deacidify non-aqueously and insert in polyester film.

 

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Dr. Samuel A. Syme, W&L ‘56

Restored

Lee letter from West Point, 29 March 1853

Letter

This letter, written on blue paper by Robert E. Lee, is currently laminated with a material that has been proven destructive to the document.

Restoration:

Delaminate in solvent bath. Deacidify non-aqueously. Guard folio and insert in polyester film sleeve.

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Dr. Samuel A. Syme, W&L ‘56

Restored

Lee letter from West Point, 3 March 1853

Letter

This letter by Robert E. Lee is currently laminated with material that has proven destructive to the document.

Restoration:

Delaminate in solvent bath. Deacidify non-aqueously and insert in polyester film.

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Dr. Samuel A. Syme, W&L ‘56

Restored

Lee's First Report to the Board (1866)

Letter

In June 1866, scarcely eight months after assuming the presidency of Washington College, Robert E. Lee wrote his first official report to the board of trustees.  Lee goes into great detail describing the rebuilding of a school that had been decimated by the late war.  His first paragraph sets the tone:    
Owing to the impracticability of completing the repairs to the College buildings, and of restoring the furniture & apparatus destroyed by Genl. Hunter’s Army in 1864, the
exercises of the session did not commence till the 2nd of October 1865.
An official document which has always resided in the University Archives, this seven-page report, recorded entirely in Robert E. Lee’s impeccable script, had been folded, docketed and filed away for the past 150 years.

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Parents Leadership Council 2015--2016 in honor of President Kenneth P. Ruscio on the occasion of his retirement and in recognition of his support of parents and families. March 12, 2016

Restored

The Beauties of Johnson, Consisting of his Maxims, Observation, et. & et. , 5th edition, Vol. 2, 1782

Book

W&L University received this copy of The Beauties of Johnson from its president G. W. Custis Lee in February 1894. The original signature of George Washington appears on the title page’s upper right corner, thus qualifying this as one of Washington’s personal books. While we have no further information on its pedigree of ownership, we can infer that the book descended through the Washington, Custis, and Lee lines. There is evidence to show that the book was rebound likely in the 1870s.

Samuel Johnson (1709–1784), often referred to as Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson was a devout Anglican and committed Tory, and has been described as “arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history”. He is also the subject of “the most famous single biographical work in the whole of literature,” James Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson.

Samuel Johnson by Joshua ReynoldsBorn in Lichfield, Staffordshire, Johnson attended Pembroke College, Oxford for just over a year, before his lack of funds forced him to leave. After working as a teacher he moved to London, where he began to write for The Gentleman’s Magazine. His early works include the biography Life of Mr Richard Savage, the poems London and The Vanity of Human Wishes, and the play Irene.

After nine years of work, Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1755. It had a far-reaching effect on Modern English and has been described as “one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship”. This work brought Johnson popularity and success. Until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary 150 years later, Johnson’s was viewed as the pre-eminent British dictionary. His later works included essays, an influential annotated edition of The Plays of William Shakespeare, and the widely read tale The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia. In 1763, he befriended James Boswell, with whom he later travelled to Scotland; Johnson described their travels in A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. Towards the end of his life, he produced the massive and influential Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets, a collection of biographies and evaluations of 17th- and 18th-century poets.

Johnson was a tall, robust and witty man. After a series of illnesses, he died on the evening of 13 December 1784, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Ms. Lisa Moore of Staunton, Virginia

Restored

George Washington to his nephew George Augustine Washington, August 6, 1787

Letter

George Washington wrote this three page letter from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the Constitutional Convention. The recipient was his nephew, George, who was overseeing affairs at Mt. Vernon. In this letter, Washington inquires about interior maintenance projects in the main house, crops, livestock, a well digging project, and the arrival and installation of the famous cupola which adorns the main house to this day. Estate craftsmen, possibly slaves, are mentioned by name. Washington does not mention the convention, likely due to the gag order in place for the attendees.

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Generously adopted by The Goodrich Family: Julie, David, Katherine '06 and Christian

Restored

Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments…, London, 1863

Book

Reverend Moses Drury Hoge returned to Richmond from England in 1863, having overseen from London the Atlantic crossing of some 300, 000 religious printed materials. Besides his baggage from the extended overseas mission, he had with him an important delivery for General Robert E. Lee – a small, finely bound, embossed Bible, complete with brass edging, a clasp, and both Testaments. As you can imagine, having both Testaments printed in a “pocket” Bible makes for very small print. A year later, in August 1864, that unbearable font inspired Lee to write his daughter Mary and ask that she exchange the little Bible for one “more agreeable to my eyes.” Spring forward thirty years, Robert’s son Custis, then president of W&L, was the keeper of the Hoge Bible until its presentation to Professor Addison Hogue, nephew of Moses Hoge. Addison owned the book until 1920 when, upon his retirement, he gifted the heirloom to the University.

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Generously adopted by The Goodrich Family: Julie, David, Katherine '06 and Christian

Restored

The generall historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles : with the names of the adventurers, planters, and governours from their first beginning ano. 1584 to this present 1626…, by John Smith, Printed in London, 1627

Book

Like so many of the treasures found within the rare book holdings of W&L Special Collections, this book possesses attributes well beyond those of the more common existing copies of this scarce and historically important volume — the 1627 printing of John Smith’s personal history of the Virginia Company and its territories with its maps and fold out illustrations intact. Its Virginia map is one of the most sought after maps in existence amongst western institutions and collectors. So, what makes our copy unique among others? Our golden attribute is the book’s provenance — the detailed lineage of ownership that is inscribed throughout its opening leaves by its many caretakers beginning in 1782 and spanning 114 years. For its first 150 years of existence, though, including its Atlantic crossing, mystery still shrouds its history. Our book’s lineage begins in 1782. One handwritten inscription tells us it was owned by the sixteenth governor of North Carolina, Benjamin Smith, who had been George Washington’s aide to camp during the Revolution. Later the book was purchased by another North Carolina family, the Clitheralls, who made note of each transfer of ownership for many years and, who, through an Army surgeon in the family, shared the book with future U.S. President Zachary Taylor and General Winfield Scott. Taylor and Scott’s bold Mexican — American War era signatures, among others, grace the fly leaf. It is likely that through an Army association, the book found its way to one of Virginia’s most famous families, the Lees. It was in their Lexington library until its presentation to Washington and Lee University in 1896 by G.W.C. Lee, at the point of his retirement as University President. He personally penned the book’s final inscription.

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Walter J. Maytham '52 and Donna Maytham

Restored

Washington and Lee’s Cornerstone Document

Letter

For every alumnus and friend of Washington and Lee, the story of George Washington’s generous and timely benefaction to Liberty Hall Academy in 1796, is one of those pieces of history that define the character of our great University. Likewise, the letter from Washington to the Liberty Hall Board of Trustees, dated June 19th, 1798, in which he thanks them for renaming the school Washington Academy in his honor is one of the University’s signature cornerstone documents. In spring 2014, that remarkable single-page letter underwent a complete restoration by the Etherington Conservation Services of Greensboro, North Carolina. The conservation treatment involved the removal of cellulose acetate lamination (applied in an earlier conservation treatment) and aqueous deacidification. Repair work to the folds using Japanese tissue paper and a linen case pamphlet enclosure with leather label completed the work.

A generous donation from J. Thomas Touchton ’60 and Lavinia Witt Touchton in honor of Farris Pierson Hotchkiss ’58 covered the cost of the restoration and rehousing.

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Generously adopted by J. Thomas Touchton ’60 and Lavinia Witt Touchton

Restored

Lee Letter to Trustees of Washington College

Letter

On August 24, 1865, in response to the news from Washington College Rector, Judge John W. Brockenbrough, that the board of trustees of Washington College had unanimously elected him president of the College, Robert E. Lee wrote his reply to the trustees. He explained that because he was unable to teach courses and because he did not want “to be the cause of animadversion”, Lee believed he should decline the presidency. Then, in effect, he accepted the position. “Should you however take a different view,” Lee wrote, “& think that my services in the positon tendered me by the Board will be advantageous to the College and Country, I will yield to your judgment and accept it. The board did indeed think that Lee’s services would be most advantageous and told him so.

One of the most important cornerstone documents in Washington and Lee’s collection, this piece was restored in 2014 through the generosity of Walter J. Maytham ’52 and Donna Maytham of Sarasota, Florida.

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Walter J. Maytham ’52 and Donna Maytham

Restored

Aesop's Fables, 1551

Book

Aesopi Phrygis fabulae : elegantissimis eiconibus veras animalium species ad viuum adumbrantes … : hæc omnia cum latina interpretatione
author: Planudes, Maximus, ca. 1260-ca. 1310.
Publisher: Lugduni : Apud Ioan. Tornaesium (Lugduni =Leiden, Netherlands)
Creation Date: 1551
Format: 375, [9] p. : ill. (woodcuts) ; 13 cm
Of the 40 small woodcuts illustrating Aesop’s fables, most are ascribed to Bernard Salomon; cf. Mortimer, R., French 16th-cent., 7 (describing de Tournes’ ed. of 1570). De Tournes’ device with snakes on t.p., and another on verso of last leaf. Head and tail pieces. Criblé, arabesque and historiated initials.

 

 

 

 

This precious book has been restored in honor of Dean Suzanne Keen upon her departure from Washington and Lee.  See article in the December 21, 2017, issue of The Columns: “Keen Named Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty at Hamilton College

Generously adopted by The Friends of the University Library in honor of Lifetime Members: Suzanne P. Keen, W&L Dean of the College, 2013-2018, and Francis M. MacDonnell

Restored

Epistolae Diversorum Philosophorum. Venice : Aldus Manutius, Romanus, 1499

Book

Aldus Pius Manutius (Italian: Aldo Manuzio; 1449 – February 6, 1515) was an Italian humanist who became a printer and publisher when he founded the Aldine Press at Venice. He is sometimes called “the Elder” to distinguish him from his grandson Aldus Manutius the Younger. His publishing legacy includes the distinctions of inventing italic type, establishing the modern use of the semicolon, developing the modern appearance of the comma, and introducing inexpensive books in small formats bound in vellum that were read much as modern paperbacks are.

Manutius settled in Venice in 1490. The city by this time was not only a major printing center but it also had a large library of Greek manuscripts from Constantinople and a population of Greeks who could assist with their translation. He began gathering Greek scholars and compositors around him, employing as many as 30 Greeks in his print shop and speaking Greek at home. Instructions to typesetters and binders were given in Greek. The prefaces to his editions were written in Greek. Greeks from Crete collated manuscripts, read proofs, and gave samples of calligraphy for casts of Greek type.

This extraordinary semi-limp vellum incunable is among the earliest printed books in history. It is printed in Greek.

After restoration, the book will be placed in a clamshell box specifically made for this volume.

 

Before Restoration

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Robert M. Gill, W&L '71

Restored

Sumerian Clay Tablet

Quite plain, yet exquisite in its simplicity, the tiny clay object lies nestled in its recently crafted, elegant custom-made protective enclosure.

This Sumerian clay tablet is one of Washington and Lee University’s most intriguing treasures, and the oldest recorded document in the collection. It dates from 2030 BCE and resides in the vault in Leyburn Library’s Special Collections, where it has been housed since it was given to W&L in 1983 by Jean Knight of Buena Vista. Her husband, Benjamin P. Knight Jr., was a 1929 graduate of the university.

The little clay tablet, which measures 1 ½ inch by 1 3/4 inch, is from the southern Mesopotamian (Iraq) city of Ur (Ur of the Chaldees). Written in Sumerian, it is just over 4,000 years old. The form of writing is known as cuneiform (wedge-shaped), and was, at the time, the only type of writing that was known. Cuneiform was invented in the same area because of the prevalence of clay and reeds, which were used to make the tablet and stylus and form the characters.

The tablet itself is a commercial document and relates to the distribution of wheat to certain individuals. Because it references specific rulers of Ur, we are able to determine its date of origin. From the Sumerian King Lists, it is known who ruled Ur during this last century of the Third Millennium BCE, and two of the five kings of this Ur dynasty are actually mentioned in Washington and Lee’s tablet. The kings who had their capital at Ur, which is well known to biblical scholars as the home of Abraham, had a uniform method of keeping the record, as is evidenced by the tablet. Abraham himself would have been familiar with the wedge-shaped cuneiform writing in which all business and official correspondence was then conducted.

While Washington and Lee’s tablet records the distribution of wheat, many similar tablets recorded the tax on grain and other products, or provided instructions to priests or temple servants. Others were contracts, lists of sacrifices, or records of the payment of salaries from temple stipends. Still others were inventories of sheep and goats, and some were records of payments made to messengers who traveled from city to city.

Sumerian tablets are molded from clay that contains a great deal of marl or chalk and was relatively free from grit. After the cuneiform characters were marked in the damp clay by a scribe, the tablet was then sun-baked or kiln-dried. These tablets would have to be periodically re-fired, or baked even harder, in order to be preserved.

This lends another intriguing and powerful aspect to W&L’s tablet, which was recovered from ancient ruins. About 24 years after the tablet was created, the Sumerian government experienced a rapid collapse, possibly brought on by famine. In 2006 BCE, southern Mesopotamia was invaded by the Elamites from southern Iran, who attacked Ur, took the last king captive and burned the city of Ur to the ground. One side of W&L’s tablet shows the very distinctive scorch marks of that burning.

The Sumerians disappeared forever. However, the tiny clay tablet that remains is a poignant reminder that the fires of destruction that destroyed Ur likely ensured the preservation of Washington and Lee’s oldest document.  A short video on the tablet is at https://vimeo.com/119238960

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Rebecca R. Benefiel, W&L Associate Professor of Classics.

Restored

The Confession of Faith of the Kirk of Scotland. Printed by Benjamin Franklin, 1745

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“Based upon the Confession of Faith signed by James VI in 1581, the Covenant called for adherence to doctrines already enshrined by Acts of Parliament and for a rejection of untried “innovations” in religion. Although it emphasized Scotland’s loyalty to the King, the Covenant also implied that any moves towards Roman Catholicism would not be tolerated.“ Read more.

This is an original Benjamin Franklin imprint.

The book contains original handwritten genealogical notes for the Martin and Davis families of the upper Shenandoah Valley (Winchester, VA), bound into the center of the book. Due to the unusual provenance of the piece, the decision was made by W&L to retain the original, unrestored condition.  Instead, a custom-made slipcover was created to house the fragile and very rare item.

 

 

 

 

 

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Mary Ellena Ward and Jim Slack

Restored

Darwin's "On the Origin of Species," 1859; first edition

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Tom Camden, Head of Special Collections & Archives, wrote a piece on our copy of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, from which the text below is an excerpt. The entire article can be read here.

“Washington and Lee University’s copy of “On the Origin of Species,” while in excellent condition, nevertheless bears a stamp on the inside front board (across an ownership bookplate) which states “Withdrawn 18 July 1927” from the Ilkley Public Library. It was purchased either that year or in 1928 by a Washington and Lee biology professor and given to the University Library.

Ilkley is an ancient spa town in Yorkshire, England, and it is known that Charles Darwin was undergoing hydropathic treatment at Wells House spa in Ilkley while waiting for his book to come out in 1859. It was thought that he might have presented W&L’s copy to the public library there in person, but further research has proven that story unlikely. Darwin was given only one advance copy, and it is in Cambridge University Library with his annotations. All other presentation copies were sent directly to the recipients from the publisher.

Regardless of the disappointing provenance, Washington and Lee owns a very fine, “true” first edition of a landmark work. It is housed in the Special Collections vault. A similar copy, which had been rediscovered sitting on a bookcase in the guest bathroom of the vendor’s home in London, was sold at Christie’s Auction House in London on Nov. 24, 2009  150 years to the day after the seminal work of scientific literature was first published. That copy fetched $200,000. Of the 1,250 original copies published, fewer than 300 have been located, either in institutions or private hands.”

After Restoration

Generously adopted by Paul Arpaia, W&L '85, in honor of his mother, Josephine Lepro Arpaia