Specially collected

Over the weekend, while we watched the Cardinals lose twice, Katie was working on a proposal for her research project that had to be submitted by midnight Sunday.  (I think that was the deadline. . . )  This was a tough assignment, mainly because when she had met with her professor about the project, he had changed the focus of her research.  The new direction seemed (to me) more obscure and difficult to research – even for a bona fide Research Consultant – and it was a topic about which she was somewhat less passionate.  In any case, she busted it till the wee hours to re-write her first draft and get it done on time.  She did tell me a few days later that it was received favorably (Whew!), and I can vouch for the fact that her bookshelves contain DOZENS of weighty tomes about the Battle of St. Louis and the culture and thoughts of those involved in and impacted by it.

Our first order of business on Monday was to head back to the college library, not to pick up more books, but to very gently pick up and leaf through one specific book.

Back in the day, when she was maybe sixteen or so (?), Katie wrote an an as-yet-unpublished biography of Elijah P. Lovejoy, a minister, newspaper editor, and staunch abolitionist who was murdered in 1837 by a pro-slavery mob in Alton, Illinois, just across the river from St. Louis.  His printing press in the slave state of Missouri having been destroyed three times, Lovejoy had recently re-located to the free state of Illinois, where he resumed printing his abolitionist newspaper.  The locals didn’t care for what he had to say, and while they managed to permanently silence him personally, his message would not be stopped.

Katie’s been a big Lovejoy fan for many years, and she had done quite a bit of research for that book, but the Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary just happened to be in possession of a copy of one highly desirable primary source she’d never seen “up close and personal:”  Memoir of the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy; who was murdered in defence of the liberty of the press, at Alton, Illinois, Nov. 7, 1837

As mentioned in a previous post, we’d been to the library on Saturday to pick up many pounds of research project books Katie had either put on hold or located in the online catalog.  for the latter, I had called out the numbers of the books she was looking for, while she scrunched herself between the stacks to find them.


This time was different.  Katie had contacted the library’s Special Collections section and requested permission for us to view the book.  This was some kind of a big deal.  As a student, Katie had privileges, but I had to create a special collections account, give all my personal information, show my driver’s license, sign a consent form agreeing to obey all rules, and have my photo taken.  I was allowed to carry my camera into the viewing room and use it (without flash), but no purses, bags or fanny packs were allowed.  We were not allowed to take in any writing materials, but once inside the glass-enclosed room, the library would provide pencils and note cards to write on.

We jumped through all the hoops while watching a lady inside place the coveted volume on a little padded stand.  Then we were allowed to enter, walk over to the book, and actually thumb through it.  To say we were both excited would be an understatement.


Elijah Lovejoy’s brother, Owen, published the book in 1838, only a year after Elijah Lovejoy’s murder.  John Quincy Adams wrote the introduction!


It’s a compilation of Lovejoy’s collected writings, including letters to his mom.  = )


We were honored and amazed to get to see and touch the real thing.

then, having been awed and inspired intellectually indoors, it was time for some outside educational activity.  We went back to Jamestown Settlement to get an understanding of what that community was all about and to SEE THOSE SHIPS!

As a local, Katie got in free, and I did not.  I didn’t even qualify for a senior discount, and that fact made me happy enough to overlook having to pay full price.  We watched an informative movie about the whole Jamestown deal, and then wandered the grounds on our own for a little while, but at one point, we overheard an interesting lady in period garb explaining some things to a family, and when she said she’d be leading a tour starting in a few minutes, we joined her.

She knew her stuff and was a fun guide, and we were heartened to learn that several of Katie’s hypotheses about what certain items and implements had been used for were correct(!!!), but when that great guide handed our group off to another guide who was an Absolute Jerk of the Highest Degree, we left the tour and headed on our own toward our long-anticipated goal:  THE SHIPS!


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