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Special Collections Library Events


All events are free and open to the public. The calendar is subject to change. Please email with any questions.

Curator's Talks:

Join Special Collections for a talk on Wednesday mornings during the semester from 11:10-12:00 pm (CST) in the library. The first Wednesday of each month complements a current exhibition.


  • September 5, 2018: Curator's Talk

    Special Collections Classroom | 11:15-12:00 PM
    Vanderbilt Silver: Hallmarks, Regalia, and a Silver Spoon: highlights of the Vanderbilt Silver exhibition will be the topic of discussion in Molly Dohrmann’s lunchtime talk. The presentation will include information about individual objects on display such as the McTyeire Coin Silver Tea Service, the Vanderbilt Mace first carried at Commencement in 1969, and a silver spoon made in the 17th century. Vanderbilt Silver is currently on display in Special Collections and will be open to the public through early November.
  • September 12, 2018: Curator's Talk

    Special Collections Classroom | 11:15-12:00 PM
    History under Glass: Vanderbilt University History in the E.E. Barthell Collection: At the 1924 Vanderbilt University Commencement, alumnus and Board of Trust member Edward East Barthell presented an hour long program on the past few decades at Vanderbilt using glass slides with historical images of campus, alumni, and faculty. Barthell later donated hundreds of these slides, known today as lantern slides, to the university to be used for alumni gatherings and other events. Visit Special Collections and explore the old campus through these rare, historic images of the campus, university personalities, and buildings. Talk to be given by Teresa Gray.
  • September 19, 2018: Curator's Talk

    Special Collections Classroom | 11:15-12:00 PM
    The Tarot: History and Symbolism: The history of tarot is shrouded in mystery. It originates from the tradition of playing cards. Originally, the cards were handmade and colored until the advent of the printing press. This talk will be given by Juanita Murray and will introduce the historical background of tarot and the symbolism in the cards, including: religion, astrology, alchemy, numerology, and the Kabbalah.
  • September 25: Film Screening: A Farewell to Arms

    Central Library Community Room | 12:00-1:30 PM
    A film screening will be offered in conjunction with the Vandy Goes to War exhibition on display in the Central Library lobby now through Homecoming weekend, October 16, 2018. Based on the 1929 semi-autobiographical novel A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, the film is about a romantic love affair between an American ambulance driver and an English nurse in Italy during World War I. It received Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Sound, and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Art Direction. Popcorn included!
  • September 26, 2018: Curator's Talk

    Special Collections Classroom | 11:15-12:00 PM
    The Passion of William Morris: The Kelmscott Chaucer: The Kelmscott Chaucer was a passion project of famed textile designer William Morris. The printing of this book is both a testament to the art of bookmaking as well as a strong response to the cultural loss of hand printing skills that had been destroyed by machine printing in the Industrial Revolution. Join Special Collections Curator Rachel Lavenda for a discussion about the people, the craftwork, and the zeitgeist behind the creation of this beautiful book.


  • October 3, 2018: Curator's Talk

    Special Collections Classroom | 11:15-12:00 PM
    The World Wars and their Impact on Vanderbilt: highlights of the Vandy Goes to War exhibition will be the focus of this talk given by Sara Sterkenburg. In the early months of 1917, an influx of students came to Vanderbilt to enter the Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.) aiming to join the war effort. With their enrollment came much-needed funding for campus infrastructure, fueling a building boom that more than doubled the size of campus by the 1940s. Come to hear details about how mobilization for the war impacted the lives of students, faculty, and alumni, and how these times paved the way for the university we know today.
  • October 10, 2018: Curator's Talk

    Special Collections Classroom | 11:15-12:00 PM
    Brief History of Television Advertising: The Vanderbilt Television News Archive includes over 200,000 commercial breaks. Jim Duran will demonstrate the many opportunities for research by surveying the history of commercials for over the counter and prescription drugs. Ask your doctor if this curator's talk is right for you!
  • October 17, 2018: Curator's Talk

    Special Collections Classroom | 11:15-12:00 PM
    The South in 1960s Pulp Fiction Novels: Stereotypical characterizations of southern values, people and places are found in an interesting assemblage of pulp fiction novels in the Southern Civilization Book Collection. Racially and sexually provocative at the time of their creation, these books portray a South that existed only in the most lurid minds of the authors. Talk to be given by Kathy Smith.
  • October 24: Curator's Talk

    Special Collections Classroom | 11:15-12:00 PM
    Natural Magick, Alchemy, and Elixirs in Renaissance Medicine: What do the philosopher’s stone, mummies, and potable gold all have in common? Using rare volumes from the 16th and 17th centuries, curator Chris Ryland from Vanderbilt’s History of Medicine Collections will discuss the early modern quest for immortality and the roots of modern pharmaceuticals.
  • October 31: Curator's Talk

    Special Collections Classroom | 11:15-12:00 PM
    Delineations of Devilry: Defining Demons and Witches 1500-1800: Just in time for Halloween, join us for a conversation with curator Rachel Lavenda about witches, demons, and spirits, and the line between what magic practices were "acceptable" and which were considered criminal in their time. From grimoires to demonologies, impassioned discourses to philosophical treatises, we’ll discuss how the debate about witchcraft and devils has changed and endured across the centuries.


  • November 7, 2018: Curator's Talk

    Special Collections Classroom | 11:15-12:00 PM
    Fit to Print in Nashville: Nashville Journalists: Since 1907, two primary newspapers—each with their own political bent—have recorded Nashville’s history: the Tennessean and the Nashville Banner. These respective liberal and conservative papers shared a building, printing press, and even some staff, but engaged in ideological competition in print for decades. Join us for this lunchtime talk with curator Zach Johnson, which takes a deep dive into portions of the exhibition on Nashville journalism, on display October 25-February 8, 2019.
  • November 12: Veteran's Day Special Event

    Library Lawn | 11:30-1:00 PM
    Unfurling and Folding the Historic Impact Symposium Flag: All are welcome to join the library and the Vanderbilt Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) on the library lawn to participate in a flag unfurling and refolding ceremony. This massive flag measures over 150 feet, and was hung in the Memorial Gym on campus in the 1960s for the Impact Symposium, which featured keynote speakers such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokely Carmichael, Robert Kennedy, and others. Just recently rediscovered, this year we will be moving the flag into the university archives after a folding ceremony according to military flag etiquette. This partnership between the library and ROTC will also honor Veteran's Day and the important role of our local and alumnus veterans who have served the university and the nation so well. Thank you for your service! We need many, many hands for this event and hope you'll join us!
  • November 14: Curator's Talk

    Special Collections Classroom | 11:15-12:00 PM
    Franz Rosenzweig and his 'Star:' Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929) numbers among the most significant Jewish thinkers of the 20th century. He wrote his masterwork, The Star of Redemption, following the cataclysm of the Great War. Clifford B. Anderson, Associate University Librarian and Professor of Religious Studies, provides an introduction of Rosenzweig’s vision and also relates how Vanderbilt University came to preserve aspects of his intellectual legacy.
  • November 28: Curator's Talk

    Special Collections Classroom | 11:15-12:00 PM
    A Full House: Books about Cards and Gaming at Vanderbilt: Come learn more about the recent acquisitions of one of the world’s greatest collections of books on cards and gaming. What does the author of Alice in Wonderland have to do with gaming? What decisive role did a Vanderbilt play in the history of bridge? And how did a card game figure in Napoleon’s return to Paris? All this will be revealed when we show our hand in this lunchtime presentation with University Librarian Valerie Hotchkiss.


  • December 5, 2018: Curator's Talk

    Special Collections Classroom | 11:15-12:00 PM
    Sold by: John Bell and British Bookselling in the 18th-19th centuries: What did it mean to be a bookseller at the dawn of the industrial revolution, when the outpouring of books and the number of literate readers skyrocketed like never before? What sort of person chooses to dive into this brave new world? Using publisher and bookseller John Bell (1745–1831) as a launching point, curator Rachel Lavenda will walk us through some highs and lows of the book trade during this pivotal era in Britain.