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About Special Collections & Archives

Information about Berea College Special Collections & Archives

Special Collections and Archives Exhibitions and Online Projects

Works of Art on the Art of Quilting: Twenty WPA Quilt Block Prints

This exhibition presents a series of prints from the Special Collections that were published by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1937. The prints illustrated and deconstructed historic quilt blocks so that their designs could be appreciated and appropriated by new generations of quilters. (2022) Online exhibit created by Hutchins Library Digital Initiatives. 


In Memoriam bell hooks

This exhibition explores the archival legacy of bell hooks (Gloria Jean Watson, 1952-2021) by presenting thirty-six items from the bell hooks papers. The selected documents, publications, photographs, and recordings give witness to a life of struggle, success, and lasting significance. (2022)


Writings of Paul Laurence Dunbar in the Berea College Special Collections and Archives

One of America’s great poets, Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in Dayton, Ohio on June 27, 1872, the son of parents who had been enslaved in Kentucky. His first book of poetry was published in Dayton in 1893. By the late 1890s Dunbar had become a writer of national and international acclaim. He died of tuberculosis on February 9, 1906 at the age of thirty-three.

Paul Laurence Dunbar's published writings include poetry, short stories, novels, essays, songs, librettos, and a one-act musical. Hutchins Library invites you to encounter early copies of Dunbar's works and to consider his literary legacy in the context of his times and life experiences.

This online exhibit highlights Special Collections copies of works by Paul Laurence Dunbar that were printed before 1910 and Dunbar-related documents from the Archives. All items may be viewed in the SCA Reading Room by appointment. (2021)


The Path to Woman Suffrage in the United States: 1848-1920

The story of woman suffrage in the United States is one of more than seven decades of debate, progress, and setbacks culminating in the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. Berea College Special Collections and Archives invites you to revisit that journey by encountering works published for and against the cause of woman suffrage during the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century.

This online exhibit introduces sixteen books, essays, and addresses selected from the Curio Book Collection and Archives. Most of these works were written by women who were directly involved in the promotion of woman suffrage. The remainder were written by men either proposing or opposing woman suffrage. (2020)


Lomax Kentucky Recordings

These are documentary sound recordings of rural Kentucky music and lore collected under the auspices of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress between 1933 and 1942. Performed by farmers, laborers, coal miners, preachers, housewives, public officials, soldiers, grandparents, adolescents, and itinerant musicians, they present a full spectrum of traditional expressive culture from twelve of Eastern Kentucky’s mountain counties: ballads and lyric songs, play-party ditties and comic pieces, topical and protest material, fiddle and banjo tunes, hymns and sacred songs, children's games and lullabies, and a variety of spoken lore—religious testimonies, occupational reminiscences, tall tales, jokes, and family and personal narratives.


Berea's Rhythm and Roots

The voices and music heard on these pages help bring to the present the people, themes and events depicted through the photographs and text panels of Hutchins Library's exhibit, Berea's Rhythm and Roots. The exhibit traces the progress of how the home-made music of the southern Appalachians has been given expression at Berea College. This music was in the air and on the minds of the Berea community early in the College's history. It has been an ongoing presence over the years and continues to be a key ingredient in the dynamic mix of tradition, change, and diversity that informs Berea's Appalachian commitment as the twenty-first century progresses.