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Teaching with Digital Collections

A variety of primary and secondary source documents on multiple topics are available for teaching and learning through the Special Collections Library’s web site. These sources include historic photographs, oral histories, faculty and student publications, the history and culture of Colombia, news footage, and video clips from symposiums held at the university. The collections listed below are only a sample of the wealth of resources available through the Vanderbilt Libraries.

Contini-Volterra Photographic Archive

The Contini-Volterra Photographic Archive was created by Florentine art connoisseur Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi to supplement his own knowledge and understanding of art in support of his growing collection of paintings. After Contini’s death in 1955, the collection was acquired by Florentine antiquarian Gualtiero Volterra, who continued to add photographs to the collection. Vanderbilt University purchased the collection from the Volterra estate in 1969 to support its growing Art History program. It has been used for scholarly research by graduate students, faculty, and visiting scholars. The collection was transferred to Special Collections in 2002 for preservation and broader public access.

The combined research collection contains over 50,000 photographs of art objects created in Europe during the 13th through 20th centuries. The collection is especially strong in Italian art of the 13th through 18th centuries, offering breadth and depth coverage of each major Italian region and featuring both major (Botticelli, Tintoretto) as well as lesser known (Turino Vanni di Rigoli, Deodato Orlandi) artists of the period.

This distinctive visual resource provides important support materials for scholars and advanced students who undertake art history research.


J. León Helguera Collection of Colombiana

The J. León Helguera Collection of Colombiana at Vanderbilt University includes unique primary sources on 17th to 20th-century Colombian history and culture. The result of a half-century of collecting on three continents, the collection is one of the largest and most wide-ranging in the United States. The collection includes books, manuscripts, broadsides, pamphlets (including novenas), royal cedulas, programas, and newspapers.

The database includes a selection of full text searchable broadsides, pamphlets, and programas. Some additional records for materials that have not yet been scanned are also included in the database.


IMPACT at Vanderbilt, 1964-1969

The IMPACT Symposium program sought to bring controversial figures selected by the students to campus. It allowed the students the opportunity to be heard and gave the university a vehicle for dialogue between world leaders on both sides of the issues and the campus community. Its inaugural program was titled "The South in Transition" and featured George Wallace, Roy Wilkins, and Robert Wagner as the feature speakers. This exhibit features articles, photographs, and video of the original symposiums held between 1964 and 1969.


Nürnberg Krupp Trial Papers of Judge Hu C. Anderson

This collection of fifty archival boxes of Judge Hu C. Anderson’s personal trial papers, stored in the Vanderbilt University Law Library, represent his experience as presiding judge of subsequent Nürnberg Trial 10, formally known as Military Tribunal III: the United States of America vs. Alfried Felix Alwyn Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, et al. Comprehensive in nature, the collection includes the daily transcript of proceedings in the courtroom and before the commissioner, prosecution and defense documents and briefs, judgment and sentencing, and Judge Anderson’s legal research. Additional materials include the judge’s notes about the trial, his personal correspondence, and legal documents from other Nürnberg trials.

The Vanderbilt Law Library, in collaboration with Vanderbilt University Libraries, is digitizing the Nürnberg Krupp Trial Papers of Judge Hu C. Anderson (1890-1953). When the project is complete, all of Judge Anderson’s collection—approximately 16.7 linear feet of archival materials—will be accessible and searchable online.


Manuel Zapata Olivella Collection

Manuel Zapata Olivella’s ethnographic collection (Grupo etnográfico) consists of audio and written transcripts of interviews with indigenous and Afro-Colombian groups, including many who were marginalized and living in remote areas. These interviews with ordinary Colombians were conducted by Zapata Olivella and a team of researchers in various regions from 1973 to 1975, and again in La Guajira province during 1985. They touch on a wide array of topics – from indigenous handicrafts to traditional medicine and popular religion, to gender,marriage and death rituals, and regional music, dance, and food. Library Dean’s Fellows have created an online exhibition consisting of essays designed to give an overview of the wide-ranging contents of these interviews. Links to selected interviews and documents also appear in the essays. The interviews have been digitized and are also searchable on this site.


Preparatory Academies and Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt Chancellor James Kirkland was a particular champion of preparatory schools. He saw them as a way to maintain high admission standards for Vanderbilt. The success of these private schools inspired cities and counties to build the public school programs; as the public school system grew, the private schools began to lose students and funding. Local school systems bought private school property in addition to gaining private school students. While only seven of the 32 schools in this history are still open, they all had a profound impact on education in Tennessee and on Vanderbilt University.


Presidential Inaugural Speeches

The Presidential Inaugural Speeches exhibit curated by M. Brielle Harbin features the inaugural speeches from President Richard Nixon to President Barack Obama. This exhibit provides an overview of the history and format of the presidential oath of office and inaugural address and details how presidential inaugural speeches have been used by presidents to articulate their understanding of the appropriate role of the highest office in resolving ongoing social problems. What are the points raised by each of these presidents? Where are the areas of commonality and divergence between these leaders? This exhibit helps viewers situate current political debates in an ongoing conversation between presidents about the proper role of government in the lives of citizens in the United States.


Vanderbilt Institutional Repository

The Vanderbilt Institutional Repository is a digital repository providing open access to scholarly research produced at Vanderbilt University. Faculty, students, and staff at Vanderbilt may contribute materials. This service, provided by the library, supports the university in the preservation and dissemination of research. Some of the content available in the repository includes faculty publications, podcasts, honors program research, and other forms of scholarship.


Voices of Peabody

The Peabody Oral History Project

The 1979 merger of Peabody College for Teachers with Vanderbilt University was a significant event in the history of southern education. A generous donation from Dr. Hal Ramer made it possible to record and transcribe the oral histories of people who experienced the merger closely. These stories enrich the existing historical documents records.

This site links to the voice interviews as well as transcriptions of the interviews of former students, faculty, administrators, and friends.

This project was a collaboration between Peabody Library, Special Collections and University Archives, and the Peabody College Office of Development and Alumni Relations.


Voices of Vanderbilt

An Oral History of Vanderbilt University

Oral history interviews offer insights about events, motivations, and memories that other sources do not provide. Vanderbilt University has added a systematic oral history component to its institutional history holdings in the university archives. Over seventy-five interviews with nearly fifty former administrators, faculty, staff, and students give alumni, students, and researchers a window into the past of Vanderbilt University and serves to publicize the rich heritage of the institution, as well. Many of the key persons involved in the life of our university since World War II have participated in this project. The knowledge, perspective, and experience of these men and women has been captured and preserved for future generations of the Vanderbilt University family via archived tapes and transcripts. This database offers a selection of these interviews, enabling alumni, researchers, and others to use Vanderbilt's oral history holdings from remote locations.


Who Speaks for the Negro?

The Who Speaks for the Negro? website is a digital archive of materials related to the book of the same name published by Robert Penn Warren in 1965. The original materials are held at the University of Kentucky and Yale University Libraries. We are indebted to both of these institutions for their willingness to share their collections in order to create a full digital record of Warren’s research for the book. Robert Penn Warren’s children, Gabriel Warren and Rosanna Warren, have generously given their permission for this material to be made available publicly.

The archive consists of digitized versions of the original reel-to-reel recordings that Warren compiled for each of his interviewees as well as print materials related to the project. All of the print materials appear on the website in two versions: an image of the original document which is not searchable and a re-transcribed document which is searchable. When a search is implemented, the searched word or phrase will be highlighted within the re-typed document; the user will need to scroll through the document to find the highlighted search term.