Library Intern Demi Monachino and Milne Library’s Special Collections Librarian, Liz Argentieri, are currently hard at work creating an exhibit dedicated to one of the college’s most distinguished and influential professors, Dr. Walter Harding, who was on the Geneseo faculty from 1956 to 1983. Dr. Harding was one of the world’s leading Thoreau scholars, and we find ourselves up to our elbows in the many essays, articles, and tributes he wrote centering on Henry David Thoreau (an original Transcendentalist and the author of Walden). Among all of these scholarly documents on Thoreau, however, we are also finding some truly amazing information on Dr. Harding himself.
This man, who accomplished so much in a lifetime and amassed one of the world’s largest collection of Thoreauviana, was a large influence on not just the Geneseo community, but the world. It is somewhat hard to believe that a professor from our small college town in western New York was sent to Japan by the State Department to teach Thoreau there, and received letters from the likes of President Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Albert Einstein, just to name a few. For us, Dr. Harding is truly starting to come alive once again through these testimonials and remnants of his legacy, found in our own Milne Library and in the Thoreau Society’s Walter Harding Collection at Walden Woods, where we’ll be visiting later this spring.
The goal of the exhibit, which will be on display in Milne during the weeks surrounding the annual Walter Harding Lecture this fall, is to share with current Geneseo students and faculty the kind of awe and pride Dr. Harding’s life and work has inspired in us. We want to reintroduce to the community this remarkable man and scholar that many have never had the pleasure to meet (and some may have never heard of), and to open their eyes to a man who, despite having such a large global impact, always remained humble. In this presentation of Dr. Harding’s knowledge, wit, and accomplishment, we only hope that we do justice to his legacy.
Please join us at the opening of an exhibit featuring the remarkable, often beautiful and historically important photographs of Martha Blow Wadsworth (1864-1934) from Milne Library’s Special Collections. The event will take place in Milne Library on Tuesday, Nov. 4, from 6-7 p.m., and light refreshments will be served.
“A Camera in 1888: Martha Blow Wadsworth, Chronicler of American Moments” highlights photographs taken during her travels to Alaska with an Army surveying party, to Panama while the canal was being built, and to the American west and southwest (again with an Army surveying party ) — all in the early 20th-century. Through the talented eye of one local amateur, the exhibit illustrates what the consumer camera, introduced in 1888 by Kodak, made possible. It will be on view through December in the lobby of Milne Library.
Ms. Wadsworth was a native of St. Louis who lived in Avon, N.Y. with her husband, Herbert Wadsworth (of the prominent Geneseo family). An avid horsewoman and amateur photographer, she has been described as vivacious, energetic, and adventurous. Thirty-three of her albums, as well as hundreds of glass slides, from which the photographs have been selected were donated to Milne Library in 1976 by nephew-in-law Michael Moukhanoff and are housed with the larger Wadsworth Family Papers collection.
“A Camera in 1888” was curated by Special Collections Librarian Liz Argentieri and Regina Carra ’15, with assistance from Jack Scott ’06. It is part of the larger campus-wide program, 1888 in America: William Trost Richards’ Seascape Contextualized, which opened Oct. 24 and runs through the end of the semester.
Edgar Tafel, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s apprentices and an original member of Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship, died on January 18, 2011 at the age of 98. Tafel is perhaps best known in the Geneseo community as the architect both of the College’s 1964 Facilities Master Plan, the blueprint from which the campus’ 1960s-era construction boom flowed, and of several buildings constructed here from 1967-71 — most notably, Brodie Fine Arts Building. At Geneseo’s 2001 Commencement ceremony, Tafel received an honary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the State University of New York in recognition of his excellent work for SUNY.
To commemorate Tafel’s passing as well his contributions to the architectural landscape of SUNY Geneseo, Milne Library has assembled some relevant materials from the College Archives and elsewhere and placed them on display in a table case in the lobby. The mini-exhibit will run until February 23.