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Buchanan Library Fellows Project

Buchanan Library Fellows Project, Fall 2019

Strengthening Ties: Cornelius Vanderbilt and the Founding of Vanderbilt University

On March 17, 1783, Cornelius Vanderbilt wrote to Bishop Holland Nimmons McTyeire, “I make the following offer, through you, to the Corporation known as the Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South….” From this gift sprang our university.  But what is (or was) Central University? And who was Holland McTyeire?  And how did Cornelius Vanderbilt, a northern financier, get the idea of giving such a large sum of money to a southern institution, a place he never visited? These are just a few of the stories that may be found in the rare letters, photographs and artifacts held in Vanderbilt University’s Special Collections.

This semester, students will examine journals, codes of conduct, admissions logs and letters in the Special Collections Library and place them in context with the university’s and the nation’s history. Fellows will curate an exhibition about their topic and present a report on what they learned about Vanderbilt. This fellowship requires a five- hour commitment of your time per week. Fellows receive a salary and come away with a better understanding of the library and of how to think critically about primary sources.                                                                     

Lead Mentors: Celia Walker and Mary Anne Caton

Dates of Employment: fall  semester 2019