Monday, April 21, 2014

Le Flambeau

One of the pleasures of evaluating items for scanning is the opportunity to examine some truly fascinating items. Le Flambeau is particularly memorable, not just because of the unexpected burlap cover, but due to the contents themselves.

UNC only possesses the 1917 edition of Le Flambeau, the yearbook of St. Genevieve-of-the-Pines in Asheville, NC. Founded by nuns of the Religious of Christian Education in 1908, St. Genevieve-of-the-Pines would continue until 1971, and its lineage is preserved by the Carolina Day School. Among its alumnae is the author Gail Godwin.

According to the forward, the 1917 edition of Le Flambeau was the school's first yearbook, and was thus somewhat experimental in nature. This volume contains a variety of photographs and illustrations, as well as compositions in both English and French. These items provide a wealth of information about both the students and their daily lives.

The list of superlatives (called "statistics") provide interesting examples of which traits the students considered noteworthy: not only were there separate categories for "The Prettiest Blonde" and "The Prettiest Brunette", but there were also categories for "The Best Athlete" and "The Frenchiest." The student compositions include short stories, poems, histories of the school as a whole and of the 1917 school year, as well as a parody of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

But perhaps the most important aspect of Le Flambeau for this blog post is its reminder that these objects are not just representations of history, but physical objects with histories of their own. In order to defray costs, Le Flambeau included paid advertising. Apparently this advertising was successful in at least one case, because UNC's copy of the 1917 edition of Le Flambeau has had numerous advertisements cut out by an unknown person. See the image below as one example:

Le Flambeau is hardly the only case where an item that we intended to scan for the project is missing material. Materials in our libraries' collections come in a wide variety of conditions. In addition to pictures, articles, or even entire pages being cut out, more mundane problems, such as holes, water, or other damage, can destroy text or otherwise render it illegible.  In those cases, we have several options. If we have access to additional copies of an item, we can attempt to find a more complete version to scan. In at least one case, we found two copies, each missing different pages, and used sections from both so that one could supplement the other to make a complete copy. But sometimes, as with the 1917 edition of Le Flambeau, we have no choice but to digitize what we have. Items such as these are too interesting and useful to ignore just because of a few imperfections. To browse other items we have digitized, visit the Religion in North Carolina project at the Internet archives.

Neufeld, R. (2008, September 23). St. Genevieve-of-the-Pines' centennial stirs up school spirit.  Asheville Citizen-Times

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