A new exhibit showcasing rare books and documents from Southeastern Louisiana University’s archives and other sources has opened in Sims Memorial Library on the Hammond campus.
Housed in the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies on the library’s third floor, the exhibit was curated by the center’s student workers and will remain open in the viewing area at least into next semester, center director Samuel Hyde said.
Titled “History Revealed through Rare Books and Documents: The Emergence of Printing, Bookbinding, and the Challenges of War Time Publishing,” the exhibit also portrays the process of book binding and fabrication over the years. Special panels on history, law, philosophy and religion are included.
The exhibit contents include rare handwritten documents from the 1700s, examples of some of the first bound books, Civil War-era newspapers, letters to presidents, and some 300-year-old books. Panels also display information on the early construction of books and various papers used in the printing process.
“Occasionally, we enjoy the opportunity of displaying some of the rarest documents and publications included in the Southeastern Archives,” Hyde said. “In this exhibit, our own holdings have been augmented by the impressive collections of former English instructor Paul Crawford, retired appeals court Judge Jimmy Kuhn and select items from the Cate/Graham family.”
Hyde attributed the bulk of the work on preparing the exhibit to his student staff: graduate research assistants Nicholas Heyd, of Covington, and Chase Tomlin, of Slidell; graduate assistant Megan Arledge, of Walker; and undergraduate psychology student Faith Allen, of Ponchatoula.
“The collections at Southeastern have true historic value, but, unfortunately, because of space, they are rarely displayed publicly,” Heyd said.
Heyd did the initial arrangements of the works on display aided by Arledge. “I chipped in on the arrangements and provided some general tips on the display,” Arledge said.
Allen, now in her second year working at the center, said she has learned a lot working in the archives. “I now know better how to work with an exhibit, which is valuable information to know,” she said.
“Our student workers designed and implemented this exhibit, focusing on items that are certain to fascinate history buffs and fans of the written word,” Hyde said. “They have produced an exhibit that is certain to entertain and educate both scholars and the general public.”
The center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday.
For information, call (985) 549-2151.