UVa Library Press Releases 1998 - 1999
PAPERS OF GEORGE WASHINGTON PROJECT WILL COMMEMORATE BICENTENNIAL OF FIRST PRESIDENT'S DEATH WITH TWO EXHIBITS
Contact: Philander Chase, Papers of George Washington at (804) 924-3569.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the death of George Washington, a loss that had a profound impact on the young country he helped found.
As part of the bicentennial commemoration, the Papers of George Washington editorial project at the University of Virginia will sponsor two exhibits that will open on Feb. 11, Washington's birthday.
An exhibit in Alderman Library, "A Concert of Mourning: The Death of George Washington," will focus on the nation's extended outpouring of grief in honor of Washington's death on Dec. 14, 1799.
An adjunct exhibit, "In His Own Hand: Editing the Papers of George Washington," will open in the Dome Room of the Rotunda and focus on the documentary editing process and the Washington Papers' massive archive about the nation's founding and first president.
"For the next twelve months the American people will be encouraged by many institutions to give some thought to the man who was the central figure in the winning of American independence and founding the American republic," said historian William W. Abbot, editor emeritus of the Washington Papers. "Perhaps our public life will be the better for it as we move into a new century."
The United States formally mourned Washington's death for a year, according to Mary Ann Andrei of the Washington Papers editorial staff and curator of the exhibits. With the country's founding only a decade before, the public felt the loss profoundly and faced the future with uncertainty. The mourning period inspired memorial poems, dirges and funeral orations, in addition to many engravings that depicted Washington's tomb, deathbed scene and funeral.
Among items on display in the Alderman Library exhibit will be memorial ribbons and medals, 19th century china decorated with Washington's tomb at Mt. Vernon, a walking stick made from the tree that grew over the old tomb, and numerous newspapers, pamphlets, books, prints and lithographs. The written and printed materials are from the U.Va. library's collections; other objects are on loan from many institutions.
The exhibit will be up through May 7, 1999, and will be in the library's Memorial Hall (4th Floor) and the Stettinius Gallery in Special Collections (2nd Floor).
The exhibit of Washington's writing will draw from materials in the Washington Papers, which contains photographic copies of some 135,000 documents forming one of the richest collections of American historical manuscripts. Highlights of this exhibit, which will be in the Rotunda through April 15, may be viewed online at http://www.virginia.edu/gwpapers/exhibits/mourning/
The papers project is a long-term effort to publish a complete, annotated edition of Washington's letters, diaries and other documents. With financial support from the University, the Mount Vernon Ladies Association (which operates Washington's home), the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the complete edition will consist of a projected 85 volumes. Some 40 volumes have been published to date. As a related part of the scholarly project the Packard Humanities Institute is preparing a searchable CD-ROM of all the Washington Papers.
Contact: Philander D. Chase, Papers of George Washington, (804) 924-3569 or 924 6125.