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Online Exhibits

An Enduring Legacy: The Life of Alexander Heard

Alexander HeardAlexander Heard was born in 1917 in Savannah, Georgia. He graduated from the University of North Carolina and received a PhD. from Columbia University before going on to a career in education, public affairs and research. He served in the Navy during WWII, was a vice consul at the American Embassy in Quito, Ecuador, and an author of numerous books on politics and education. He served as the fifth Chancellor at Vanderbilt University from 1964 to 1982.

During the 1960s and 1970s he served on a number of political and education commissions for presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon. After Heard retired in 1982 he accepted a position with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to study the presidential election process. From that study he published two books.

Alexander Heard died July 24, 2009.

The exhibit contains photographs, letters, notes and research from his many publications, and memorabilia from his childhood through to his career at Vanderbilt University. Alexander Heard's full life is documented by the numerous photos of him and his family.

Edward Emerson Barnard: Star Gazer

Edward Emerson BarnardBorn into extreme poverty prior to the Civil War, Edward Emerson Barnard rose to prominence as an astronomer. Credited as being the world's greatest observer, Barnard began his career at the Vanderbilt University Observatory in 1883 before moving on to larger observatories at the University of California and the University of Chicago. This exhibit, titled “Edward Emerson Barnard: Star Gazer,” features photographs, letters, publications and ephemera from the Edward Emerson Barnard Papers manuscript collection.

Best known for discovering Amalthea, the fifth moon of Jupiter, Barnard was also famous for his comet discoveries and is credited with discovering sixteen comets during his career, ten of which were found during his residence in Nashville.

Who Speaks for the Negro

Robert Penn WarrenIn 1965, Robert Penn Warren wrote a book, now out of print, entitled Who Speaks for the Negro? To research this publication, he traveled the country and spoke with a variety of people who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement. He spoke with nationally-known figures as well as people working in the trenches of the Movement. The volume contains many of the transcripts from these conversations. The Who Speaks for the Negro? Archive contains digitized versions of the original reel-to-reel recordings, as well as copies of the correspondence, transcripts, and other printed materials related to his research for the provocatively-titled book.

The original records for the archive are held at the University of Kentucky and Yale University. The University of Kentucky digitized the original recordings and hosts them on their website. Yale University also digitized the original recordings and sent them to Vanderbilt, where they are hosted on the Vanderbilt Library website. We are grateful for the generous cooperation of both the University of Kentucky and Yale University for their support of this important archive.

V for Victory! World War II Materials in
Special Collections

Army Airforce Poster


Our exhibit on World War II Materials in Special Collections includes material from the Delbert Mann, James Stahlman, and Joe Thompson collections as well as ephemera from the university archives. Among the treasures featured here are vintage posters, military memorabilia, student publications, photographs, and more.


Gone But Not Forgotten: Civil War Materials in Special Collections

Fort NegleyOur Civil War exhibit spotlights a cross section of diverse materials available in Special Collections. Among the items presented here are illustrations from Harper's Pictorial History of the Great Rebellion (1868), original maps from the era, handwritten Union and Confederate orders, re-enactment materials from the 1964 centennial of the Battle of Nashville, a Confederate field surgical kit, an 1848 cap and ball revolver, a sword from a Union cavalry man, and other related items.

Preparatory Academies and Vanderbilt University

Duncan Prepatory School for BoysThis online exhibit features 32 preparatory schools in Tennessee that made a significant contribution to Vanderbilt University. The schools, seven of which are still operating today, span more than a century, beginning in 1867.

This exhibit was made possible by a generous donation from the William O. Batts family.

Pieces of the Past: Highlights From Vanderbilt's Athletic History

Athletic Memorabilia

"Pieces of the Past: Highlights From Vanderbilt's Athletic History," offers students, faculty and visitors a casual look at Vanderbilt athletics over the past 120 years. All of the items featured in the exhibit are culled from Special Collections and the Photographic Archives. Spotlighted items include team uniforms, photos, game programs and fan ephemera.

George Boswell Folk Songs

George Boswell
An alumnus of both Vanderbilt University and the George Peabody College for Teachers, George Boswell served for many years as president of the Tennessee Folklore Society as well as serving as an educator of distinction for more than 35 years. This exhibit features a selection of seventeen folk songs drawn from a collection of folk songs collected by Boswell throughout Middle Tennessee between 1948 and 1952.

William Lofland Dudley Scrapbook:
The Tennessee Centennial (1897)

Nashville Day Button


Chemistry professor William Lofland Dudley taught at Vanderbilt University from 1886 to 1914. Among his many activities, Dr. Dudley served as Director of Affairs of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. This exhibit features memorabilia from the 1897 Exposition in Nashville.


The Southern Sociological Congress

Whitefoord R. Cole

Established by Tennessee governor Ben W. Hooper, the Southern Sociological Congress (SSC) was formed to study and improve social, civic, and economic conditions throughout the south. The Southern Sociological Congress Photographic Collections consists of photographs of SSC delegates collected by Maxwell Swain, who handled publicity for the meetings.

Minnie Elvie Sutcliff Scrapbook: The Visit of President Theodore Roosevelt (1907)

Theodore Roosevelt Visit


George Peabody College alumna Elvie Sutcliff collected photographs during her residence in Nashville. Among the events captured on film by Ms. Sutcliff and her friends was the visit to Nashville in 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt.


Vanderbilt University Postcards

Cornelius Vanderbilt Statue 2002
This exhibit features a selection of postcards depicting the Vanderbilt University campus from 1905 to 2002. These cards run the gamut from old to modern, from black and white to color, and illustrate in pictures the evolution of Vanderbilt's scenic campus.


George Peabody College Postcards

Social Religious Building
The George Peabody College postcards illustrate the beauty and serenity of the campus devoted to the education of future teachers and educational leaders. Modeled on the design of the campus of the University of Virginia, Peabody stands out even today as a distinctive and beautiful center of learning.


Vanderbilt University Faculty in 1875

Landon C. Garland


This exhibit features a look at the faculty which met the first class of students when Vanderbilt University opened in 1875. Among the best scholars of the day, these educators helped establish the fledgling Vanderbilt as a premier university.