Special Collections

Online Exhibits and Projects

Edward Emerson Barnard Exhibit

Born into extreme poverty prior to the Civil War, Edward Emerson Barnard rose to prominence as an astronomer. Credited as the world's greatest observer of his time, Barnard began his career at the Vanderbilt University Observatory in 1883 before moving on to larger observatories at the University of California and the University of Chicago. This exhibit, titled "Edward Emerson Barnard: Star Gazer," features photographs, letters, publications and ephemera from the Edward Emerson Barnard Papers manuscript collection.

Best known for discovering Amalthea, the fifth moon of Jupiter, Barnard was also famous for his comet discoveries and is credited with discovering sixteen comets during his career, ten of which were found during his residence in Nashville.


Book as Art Exhibit

Since the 15th century, artists have partnered with writers and book binders to create beautifully illustrated books. The earliest European tomes were devotionals, enriched by illuminated letters and hand-colored woodblock prints. Reading matter diversified after Johann Gutenberg invented typography and the printing press in the 1450s. As the publishing industry grew, the connection between the author, illustrator and publisher fragmented. In contrast, artist's books, which emerged in the late 20th century, are characterized by their collaborative methodology, handmade qualities, and small editions. Book artists conceive of their publication as a whole, with contributors working together on a common vision.


Colombian Independence Exhibit
This online exhibit is focused on documents from the period of early independence in Nueva Granada from 1790 to 1830. During the Latin American independence movements, young nations experienced drastic transformations as new figures rose to power, organized strategic war campaigns, and fought for political autonomy. The four thematic essays in this exhibit supplement the Helguera database by introducing the reader to key themes, figures, and events from the time period. Essay topics include early medicine and smallpox vaccinations; the life of Antonio José de Sucre; early imprints and the printing press; and Francisco José de Caldas’ scientific explorations. The essays exhibit some of the Collection’s early and rare sources, which are also available for viewing in the Helguera database.


Les Fleurs Du Mal Exhibit

Few books have had more impact on modern literature than Charles Baudelaire’s compendium of poems Les Fleurs du Mal. Exploring humanity’s many contradictions, Les Fleurs du Mal’s melancholic and erotic verse ensconce the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the spleen and the ideal. With the poems’ rich symbolism and lexicon, it is not surprising that the poet’s masterpiece has inspired generations of artists to interpret his work through illustration. This online exhibition traces the evolution of the art of the book, or book arts, over the past two centuries through the common factor of Baudelaire and his poems.


Alexander Heard Exhibit

Alexander Heard was born in 1917 in Savannah, Georgia. He graduated from the University of North Carolina and received a PhD. from Columbia University before going on to a career in education, public affairs and research. He served as the fifth Chancellor at Vanderbilt University from 1964 to 1982. The exhibit contains photographs, letters, notes and research from his many publications, and memorabilia from his childhood through to his career at Vanderbilt University. Alexander Heard's full life is documented by the numerous photos of him and his family.


J. León Helguera Collection of Colombiana

The J. León Helguera Collection of Colombiana at Vanderbilt University includes unique primary sources on 17th to 20th-century Colombian history and culture. The result of a half-century of collecting on three continents, the collection is one of the largest and most wide-ranging in the United States. The collection includes books, manuscripts, broadsides, pamphlets (including novenas), royal cedulas, programas, and newspapers.

The database includes a selection of full text searchable broadsides, pamphlets, and programas. Some additional records for materials that have not yet been scanned are also included in the database.


Impact at Vanderbilt 1964-1969

The IMPACT Symposium program sought to bring controversial figures selected by the students to campus. It allowed the students the opportunity to be heard and gave the university a vehicle for dialogue between world leaders on both sides of the issues and the campus community. Its inaugural program was titled "The South in Transition" and featured George Wallace, Roy Wilkins, and Robert Wagner as the feature speakers.  This exhibit features articles, photographs, and video of the orignal symposiums held between 1964 and 1969.


Making Strides: Women as Agents of Social Change

"Making Strides" illustrates women’s efforts in the Nashville Community to promote equal rights and to gain access to education, family planning, and employment. These rare materials from the Vanderbilt Libraries Special Collections tell an important story of the struggle for equality that continues to be fought in the U.S. and worldwide.


Nürnberg Krupp Trial Papers of Judge Hu C. Anderson

This collection of fifty archival boxes of Judge Hu C. Anderson’s personal trial papers, stored in the Vanderbilt University Law Library, represent his experience as presiding judge of subsequent Nürnberg Trial 10, formally known as Military Tribunal III: the United States of America vs. Alfried Felix Alwyn Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, et al. Comprehensive in nature, the collection includes the daily transcript of proceedings in the courtroom and before the commissioner, prosecution and defense documents and briefs, judgment and sentencing, and Judge Anderson’s legal research. Additional materials include the judge’s notes about the trial, his personal correspondence, and legal documents from other Nürnberg trials.

The Vanderbilt Law Library, in collaboration with Vanderbilt University Libraries, is digitizing the Nürnberg Krupp Trial Papers of Judge Hu C. Anderson (1890-1953). When the project is complete, all of Judge Anderson’s collection—approximately 16.7 linear feet of archival materials—will be accessible and searchable online.


Opening Doors: Contemporary African American Academic Surgeons

This exhibit celebrates the history of black surgeons and black medical institutions, as well as current and future trailblazers in the field. These men and women include Vivien Thomas, Andrew Manlove, Levi Watkins, Jr., Steve Stain, Christina Bailey Edwards, Keith Gray, Selwyn O. Rogers, Jr., Willie V. Melvin, III, and John H. Stewart, IV. Many of these pioneers and surgeons have already made their mark on history as technical innovators or chairs of surgery departments around the country. Others are innovators in their field and look forward to continuing long and productive academic careers.


Harry Potter's World

"Harry Potter's World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine" presents examples of Renaissance-era texts from its own collections, including works by Paracelsus, Ambroise Pare, Konrad Gesner, and Adam Lonicer. Learn about potable gold ("the true elixir of life"), ceremonial magic, and why they call brandy "the water of life." See 16th century sea monsters and the true wolfsbane, sneezewort, and deadly nightshade.


Preparatory Academies and Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt Chancellor James Kirkland was a particular champion of preparatory schools. He saw them as a way to maintain high admission standards for Vanderbilt. The success of these private schools inspired cities and counties to build the public school programs; as the public school system grew, the private schools began to lose students and funding. Local school systems bought private school property in addition to gaining private school students. While only seven of the 32 schools in this history are still open, they all had a profound impact on education in Tennessee and on Vanderbilt University.


Presidential Inaugural Speeches 1969-2013

The Presidential Inaugural Speeches exhibit curated by M. Brielle Harbin features the inaugural speeches from President Richard Nixon to President Barack Obama. This exhibit provides an overview of the history and format of the presidential oath of office and inaugural address and details how presidential inaugural speeches have been used by presidents to articulate their understanding of the appropriate role of the highest office in resolving ongoing social problems. What are the points raised by each of these presidents? Where are the areas of commonality and divergence between these leaders? This exhibit helps viewers situate current political debates in an ongoing conversation between presidents about the proper role of government in the lives of citizens in the United States.


Shadow of the Sun Exhibit Banner

For the August 2017 solar eclipse, the Vanderbilt University Libraries will host an exhibition curated by four astronomy students on the work of American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard (1857-1823). Best known for his discovery of Amalthea, the fifth moon of Jupiter, Barnard was a photographer and astronomer who spent a lifetime observing and photographing the night sky. The exhibition will draw on collections housed in the Libraries' Special Collections, as well as loans from private collectors.


Manuel Zapata Olivella: Grupo Etnográfico

Manuel Zapata Olivella’s ethnographic collection (Grupo etnográfico) consists of audio and written transcripts of interviews with indigenous and Afro-Colombian groups, including many who were marginalized and living in remote areas. These interviews with ordinary Colombians were conducted by Zapata Olivella and a team of researchers in various regions from 1973 to 1975, and again in La Guajira province during 1985. They touch on a wide array of topics – from indigenous handicrafts to traditional medicine and popular religion, to gender,marriage and death rituals, and regional music, dance, and food. Library Dean’s Fellows have created an online exhibition consisting of essays designed to give an overview of the wide-ranging contents of these interviews. Links to selected interviews and documents also appear in the essays. The interviews have been digitized and are also searchable on this site.

OmniUpdate