Eighty years of LSU history is out for display in Hill Memorial Library in a new exhibition, “Advancing Scholarship and Learning for 80 Years: LSU Press and The Southern Review.”
The exhibit details the storied history of the publishing company and literary journal and their long connection to LSU and the LSU Libraries Special Collections.
The two institutions were founded in 1935, and LSU Libraries has archived objects representing all eight decades.
Some are simple, like original cover art and early editions of The Southern Review, but others — like correspondence between writers and editors — give a behind-the-scenes look at publication.
“It gives everybody a good idea of the day-to-day look at the everyday workings of those different institutions,” said exhibitions coordinator Leah Wood Jewett. “But also it’s giving more insight into the individuals involved.”
One case houses the original diary of Kate Stone, which details a firsthand account of what life was like for young women during the Civil War.
In another case are the letters between Stone’s daughter, Amy Holmes, and John Q. Anderson, who edited the diary in the 1955 into the classic “Brokenburn: The Journal of Kate Stone 1861 – 1868.” The QR code next to the display takes visitors to the e-book version of the journal.
“Our exhibit emphasizes the fact that both the LSU Press and The Southern Review are active, thriving institutions,” Jewett said. “We’re not just looking back, we’re reminding people there’s still scholarship and creative output they are putting out there for us.”
The exhibit accentuates the connection between Special Collections and authors publishing through LSU Press.
The second floor focuses on LSU Press and the variety of topics its books cover, including the history of LSU, art, anthropology, music and poetry.
Many of the authors used primary sources from Hill Memorial to complete their works, Jewett said.
“We have books wherein the scholars came to Hill Memorial Library and used our collections that are not available anywhere else,” Jewett said. “We’ve got some examples of the letters and diaries that they consulted.”
Jewett said the exhibitions in Hill typically come from items already housed in Special Collections. The trick is giving the pieces context to engage students or community members or spark new ideas.
“We don’t want to be the final word on a topic — we’re trying to give a sample,” Jewett said. “Maybe it will inspire artwork or work in history or politics. People come in and see what we have, and we see what they can come up with.”
LSU Press Director MaryKatherine Callaway said it was exciting to see the history of the two organizations on display.
Callaway stressed the importance of scholarly communication and archiving material for future writers and readers.
“We’re constantly building on a lot of the research that has been done before,” Callaway said. “Books that we’re publishing now reference books that were published 30 or 40 years ago.”