A visit to the university’s Special Collections and McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture can be like a trip around the world and back in time. For faculty and students, these two collections are virtual treasure troves of teaching and learning. Take a look at some of the objects of interest—global and local—to be found on campus.
The Andrew Jackson Family Bible (Special Collections)
In the summer of 1833, President Andrew Jackson was presented this Bible by its publishers, Andrus & Judd, at a ceremony at Jackson’s hotel room in Hartford, Connecticut. Jackson passed the Bible on to his adopted son, Andrew Jr., and his wife, Sarah. The family kept it for more than half a century, recording births, deaths, and marriages of four generations. It passed out of the family two generations ago and has for years been avidly sought by collectors and historians, including Dan Feller, professor of history and the editor and director of The Papers of Andrew Jackson at UT. University Libraries was able to purchase this remarkable historical artifact. —"The Comprehensive Bible containing the Old and New Testaments, According to the Authorized Version"… Hartford, CT: Andrus & Judd, 1832.
Man’s Ceremonial Dance Apron (McClung Museum)
This dance apron (circa 1890) is part of a classic ensemble of Ojibwa men's attire that would have been worn during important social events. Decorated with maple leaves, a favored motif symbolizing gratitude for the tree’s sweet syrup, as well as other flowers and fruits, it demonstrates the tremendous skill of Ojibwa women, who are known for their mastery of beadwork. —Ojibwa (Great Lakes Region, North America), Glass beads, cotton, and other materials, gift of Virginia and Robert Dunlap.
'Das Reichenauer Perikopenbuch' (Special Collections)
This evangeliary, containing 109 sermons for use throughout the liturgical year, dates back 1,000 years to the Ottonian age. It is thought to be part of the coronation endowment of Heinrich II. The intricate wood and Byzantine ivory relief carving on the cover depicts the death of the Virgin Mary. —Facsimile Edition (Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, Germany).
Civil War Confederate Canteen (McClung Museum)
A fine example of the wooden canteens carried by Confederate soldiers, this particular canteen is marked with a Southern Cross as well as the initials and company number of a soldier named Southall, who served in General J.B. Kershaw’s South Carolina Brigade. His unit fought in the Knoxville Campaign on November 17–18, 1863, and manned the rifle trenches on Morgan Hill during the November 29 assault on Fort Sanders, just north of UT’s campus.
'Les Très Riches Heures' of the Duke of Berry (Special Collections)
The "Très Riches Heures" were made on behalf of the Duke of Berry between 1410 and 1485. The piece is well-known for the marvelous miniatures completed in the manner of panel paintings, started by the Limbourg brothers, and completed by Jean Columbe. This image of October is one of the earliest examples of shadows and reflections in a painting. —Facsimile Edition (Musée Condé, Chantilly, France)
Male Effigy Statue, Probable Ancestor Figure (McClung Museum)
This sandstone statue of a kneeling male figure (circa AD 1250–1350), which was recently named the State Artifact of Tennessee was recovered at an archaeological site in Wilson County, Tennessee—once the location of a large Mississippian-period community. This piece is extraordinarily rare and is one of the finest existing examples of this kind of sculpture. It has been featured on a USPS stamp, as well as in multiple important exhibits at major museums .
Crazy Quilt (McClung Museum)
In the crazy quilting technique, irregularly shaped pieces of fabric are sewn together and embroidered to create harmonizing colors and textures. Crazy quilting became popular in America in the late 1800s, as fancy fabrics like silk and velvet became more affordable and widely available. Many quilts included fanciful embroidered or appliquéd imagery, including birds, flowers, and children at play. This particular quilt (circa 1880s–1920s) is in very good condition and has rare imagery that makes it quite unique.
'The Day the Earth Stood Still' Pressbook (Special Collections)
This is an original pressbook (Twentieth Century-Fox, 1951) for the classic science fiction film "The Day the Earth Stood Still." This deluxe edition has numerous articles on the film laid out in “newspaper headline” format, educational ideas, and suggested props and advertising techniques. Based on a 1940 short story, “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates. In support of UT’s Cinema Studies program, Special Collections is working towards building its existing cinema-related collections by focusing on pivotal figures in the motion picture industry that have an East Tennessee connection.
'The Fountainhead' Movie Ephemera Collection (Special Collections)
The collection (circa 1949) consists of Knoxville native Patricia Neal’s make up charts, photographs from "The Fountainhead" movie set, press booklets, and promotional movie posters. In support of UT’s Cinema Studies program, Special Collections is working towards building its existing cinema-related collections by focusing on pivotal figures in the motion picture industry that have an East Tennessee connection.
'The Fountainhead' Photograph Collection (Special Collections)
This collection consists of four stills and three key book photographs from the 1949 film "The Fountainhead," starring Knoxville native Patricia Neal and Gary Cooper. In support of UT’s Cinema Studies program, Special Collections is working towards building its existing cinema-related collections by focusing on pivotal figures in the motion picture industry that have an East Tennessee connection.
Mummy of an Ibis (McClung Museum)
In ancient Egypt, animals like the ibis were associated with certain gods and played an essential role in daily life and religion. These animals served as a deity’s vehicle to communicate with humans, and were often mummified and given as votive offerings so that the god might favor the devotee. The ibis was the sacred bird of the god Thoth, guardian of the moon and god of total knowledge and wisdom. Thousands of ibis mummies dedicated to Thoth have been found at various religious sites and shrines across Egypt. This piece (404–343 BC) was found in Egypt, but it’s not known exactly where. Well-preserved animal mummies of any kind are quite rare.
'Deeply Honored' (Special Collections)
Fred Hagstrom (designer and printer) is best known for his prints and hand-printed books that address a variety of social issues. "Deeply Honored" tells the stories of interned Japanese Americans during World War II. In 2012, Hagstrom came to Knoxville to collaborate on a project in the printmaking studios of the UT School of Art. Two of his pieces were purchased for the rare book collection. These and many other examples of hand printed books are displayed to students in the Papermaking and Book Arts class. In addition, this title adds to the UT Libraries’ extensive World War II holdings acquired in collaboration with UT’s Center for the Study of War and Society. —St. Paul, Minnesota: Strong Silent Type Press, 2010. Printed in silkscreen on Rives grey. Drum-leaf binding. Cloth-covered boards with a silk-screen image of barbed wire.
Stained Glass Window from the Louisville and Nashville Railway Station (McClung Museum)
The Louisville and Nashville (L&N) Railway Station, an eclectic mixture of northern European styles of architecture located in downtown Knoxville, was completed in 1904 and was considered one of the finest on the L&N’s Cincinnati–Atlanta line. This window once stood near the entrance to the ladies’ waiting room. The last passenger train left the L&N Station in 1968, but since then the station has been renovated several times and today houses the Knox County STEM Academy Magnet High School.
Printing Plate from Yee-Haw Industries (Special Collections)
Yee-Haw Industries flourished on Gay Street in Knoxville from 1998 to 2012. They produced unique vibrant promotional materials from letterpress posters to handmade, woodcut, fine art prints. A variety of materials including posters, prints and printing plates were acquired to demonstrate the process in addition to the final product.
Hair Necklace and Brooch (McClung Museum)
Jewelry made from human hair—like this one from around 1890—was popular during the Victorian era, either as mementos of the deceased or as love tokens. Lockets containing hair woven into designs, like this brooch, as well as necklaces, bracelets, and watch fobs woven from hair, allowed owners to keep a literal piece of a loved one with them at all times. Pieces like this function as an important example of Victorian material culture in the McClung collection and an example of how different cultures have dealt with death and mourning.
The Dr. William M. Bass III Collection (Special Collections)
This human skull was modified by UT Professor Emeritus William M. Bass for use in his forensic anthropology classes. Bass donated his collection of research and teaching materials to the University Libraries to be preserved, housed, and made available for study within the Special Collections reading room. In the field of forensic anthropology, Bass is widely regarded as a foremost expert. His pioneering research on human decomposition launched a revolution in forensic science. The impact of that research is reinforced by his teaching legacy—Bass trained many of the nation’s current leading forensic anthropologists.
The Dr. William M. Bass III Collection (Special Collections)
The collection documents Bass's entire career as a forensic anthropologist and professor, spanning more than fifty years. Materials include his class notes and lectures, personal and professional correspondence, field study research notes, publications, and teaching and departmental material. Research materials include original field study notebooks from expeditions in the Central and Northern Plains. The University Libraries has digitized these field notes and is making them available online so students and researchers worldwide can view the primary source documentation from Bass’s fieldwork.
McClung Museum and Special Collections
Objects at the McClung Museum and Special Collections are utilized by professors and students from a number of different disciplines across campus, including art, architecture and design, art history, anthropology/archaeology, classics, English, earth and planetary sciences, ecology and evolutionary biology, history, religious studies, geography, political science, sociology, American studies, africana studies, global studies, women’s studies, printmaking, cinema studies, the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, The Center for the Study of War and Society, and more.
The McClung and Special Collections are both open to the general public. Find out more about these resources at the links below.
Other Online links
- McClung Museum of Natural History
- Special Collections
- Library Development Review 2013–2014 Includes articles on the Jackson Bible, Professor Emeritus William Bass, and Patricia Neal cinema collections
Photography by Dustin Brown