We had two great exhibitions in the Rare Book Room this year and the Friends of the Library events which accompanied them were crowd-pleasers. The Fall show was a display of photographs by Katrina Thomas 1949, curated by Tracy Wilson, a postdoctoral fellow working in Special Collections. Documenting Ethnic Wedding Traditions in America opened 23 September 2008 with remarks by the photographer and curator, and a reception. Thomas’ comments provoked a lively question-and-answer session and, in keeping with the show’s theme, the refreshments included a wedding cake.
The Spring exhibition kicked off the ongoing celebration of Bryn Mawr’s first 125 years. “The Very Best Thing in a Girl’s Life”: Early Women’s Colleges in Fiction and Fact opened in February. An engaging panel discussion, “Student Life at Bryn Mawr Since World War II: Reflections of Alumnae from the ’40s to the ’90s,” brought Peggy Oneil 1947, Jane Miller Unkefer 1955, Jane Alavi 1962, Cindy Ayers 1968, Teresa Wallace 1979, and Michelle Mancini 1991 together to share their memories of Bryn Mawr. The discussion, moderated by Elliott Shore, ranged from traditions and dress codes through work study, social activism, and relations with Haverford. Several of the panelists described how their college experience had prepared them to follow the path their lives took, even when that path was not clear. Cindy Ayers spoke of doors opening before her and how she was able to move forward into the unknown confident that things would work out: “I credit Bryn Mawr with the courage and the belief that that would happen.” And Jane Unkefer reflected on what she had learned about dealing with new challenges: “Because I’d gone to Bryn Mawr I never doubted—even when it was something I knew nothing about—I had total confidence I would soon learn.” Alumnae in the audience added their own observations and current students compared their experiences to those of their predecessors.
The exhibition itself attracted enthusiastic attention from the day it opened. It explored our large collection of novels about college girls from the turn of the last century and illustrated the themes of the books with amazing images from scrapbooks, diaries, and letters saved by some of Bryn Mawr’s earliest students. Many visitors enjoyed the show throughout the semester and during Reunion, and a “live” version of it was given to a group of alumnae at the New Century Trust Building by curator Marianne Hansen.
A second celebratory event was the screening of a movie about Bryn Mawr, made in the early ’70s, but never released. Filmmaker Katrina Thomas was on hand, and the movie was followed by discussion by a panel of emeritus faculty including Maria Luisa Crawford, William Crawford, Barbara Lane, Frank Mallory, Nicholas Patruno, Judith Porter, Brunilda Ridgeway, and Robert Washington.
The Friends of the Library also sponsored two exhibitions in Carpenter Library curated by graduate students. Matthew Feliz produced “Educating the Eye: Nineteenth-Century Optical Toys and Devices,” showcasing a wide range of images and equipment from the Art and Artifact Collections, and Benjamin Anderson was responsible for “Printing Turkey,” on the images of Turkey and the Turks transmitted through early printed works in Europe.
The Friends also co-sponsored the annual book party, a popular spring event which celebrates the new books written and edited by faculty members during the preceding year. President Jane McAuliffe was on hand to introduce the authors, each of whom spoke briefly about their work.
Inside Pembroke East, circa 1915.
Basketball memorabilia from the scrapbook of Rebecca Mattson 1896.