Monday, December 12, 2016

Happy Ladshaw Day!

Ladshaw Day, you say? While not a familiar “holiday” to all, it is a day revered by whitewater enthusiasts who paddle the Green River, the wild, rapid-filled waterway that runs in a gorge just south of Asheville near the South Carolina state line.

Ladshaw Day celebrates the actions - or, rather, the unfulfilled plans of George Ladshaw, a Spartanburg, SC, civil engineer who proposed damming the Green River in 1906, and this is where UNCA’s Special Collections comes into the story. 
Ladshaw & Ladshaw's 1906 plans for the Green River Gorge, part 1
A few weeks ago several whitewater paddlers visited Special Collections to view two blueprints from the Speculation Lands Company Collection. This Collection contains deeds, correspondence, maps, patents, surveys, and other documents related to the buying and selling of Western North Carolina lands by the Speculation Lands Company in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

It also includes several 1906 blueprints by Ladshaw & Ladshaw, Civil & Hydraulic Engineers from Spartanburg, SC.  These blueprints show detailed plans to dam the Green River, which would have altered the roaring, plunging whitewater that paddlers love today. The blueprints were dated 110 years ago today, but the Ladshaws’ plans never came to be. It’s this exact lack of completion that is celebrated by whitewater enthusiasts on Ladshaw Day - the celebration of something that did not happen.  Our visiting paddlers poured over the blueprints, noting how the dam sites would have drowned out several of the river’s most famous whitewater challenges.

Ladshaw & Ladshaw's 1906 plans for the Green River Gorge, part 2

We thought we’d share this event by posting these two photographs of the documents in question. For more on Ladshaw Day, check out these links:  the American Whitewater Ladshaw Day web page, an article in Blue Ridge Outdoors about Ladshaw Day, and a post from two years ago by the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Happy Ladshaw Day!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Talking cookbooks in Special Collections with donor Pam Allison

One of our favorite recent acquisitions is the Pamela C. Allison Cookbook Collection, not only because it includes nearly a thousand Appalachian and Southern cookbooks, but also because we had the great pleasure of meeting and working with the donor, Pam Allison.

The Allison Collection is a critical resource for Dr. Erica Abrams Locklear’s LIT 374: Food in Literature class, and one of their projects is to examine and explore Appalachian and Southern food through recipes and community cookbooks in the Allison Collection. As part of the class, Dr. Locklear and her students came to Special Collections to meet with Pam Allison and have a conversation about her cookbook collection, cooking, and Southern food ways.

LIT 374 students listening to Pam Allison talk about her cookbook collection.
The class was very informal, and began with Pam discussing how she came to collect cookbooks, tracing her cookbook passion back to her early love of reading. She also talked about the process of becoming a serious cookbook collector, how she organized her cookbooks, how she found and purchased cookbooks, and how she came to donate them to UNCA's Special Collections. The class was then opened up for the students to query Pam, and the conversation revealed their own love of cooking: they asked questions about using specific ingredients, about varying written recipes (answer: Pam follows a recipe exactly as written the first time, then adapts it to her own taste), as well as a whole host of engaging and thoughtful questions about cooking techniques, food preparation, and finding specific ingredients for recipes. 

Pam Allison answering a question about a particular recipe
We had originally structured the class for Pam to spend about half of it talking about her cookbooks and fielding student questions, then we planned on touring Special Collections and talking about the Allison Collection from a Special Collections perspective. When we reached that halfway point we realized we were all having too much fun - and learning so much - by talking with Pam, so we devoted the entire class to working with her.

Dr. Locklear answering a question as the students examine the cookbooks.
After her talk and the Q&A period, students then explored the Allison collection, digging deep into cookbooks, and conferring with Pam individually about specific recipes, foods, and cookbooks (including a conversation about liver mush and/or liver pudding).  It was en extremely enjoyable and educational afternoon, one where we were all treated to the wisdom and experience of an experienced and gifted cookbook curator, Pam Allison.

The Pamela C. Allison Cookbook Collection is open for research for the public. Please see the Special Collections website for our Reading Room hours.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Housing Authority of the City of Asheville Publications: Exhibit Notes

History intern Kalen Doleman created an exhibit of publications from the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville Records. The exhibit can be viewed in the three display cases outside of Special Collections, located on the top floor of Ramsey Library.  Kalen also wrote this guide to the exhibits:
During the 2015-2016 Spring Semester, Kalen Doleman interned in UNC Asheville’s special collections as part of the hands-on history intern requirement. As an intern, Kalen worked on multiple collections processing information, scanning photos, and creating various finding aids. Partway through the semester, Kalen began processing and creating a finding aid for the City of Asheville Housing Authority (HACA) Photographic Media. While working on this collection, he noticed that the Photographic Media contained similar elements to the HACA publications; another collection he had processed much earlier in the semester. After organizing the physical collection, Kalen began to process everything electronically. While doing this, he decided to create an exhibit on the Asheville Urban Renewal Project.
 The actual collection had plenty of items from the 1940s to the 1990s. This enabled Kalen to create a very detailed exhibit spanning multiple decades, while simultaneously providing one overall theme to the story. The actual exhibit contains twenty-one items all organized into three different sections. Kalen’s goal for this exhibit was to provide some insight into the urban development program, by presenting some of its effects. And giving detailed evidence on the development program’s different stages. The main purpose of this exhibit is to show what changes were made in the Asheville area, and allow the viewer to determine the reasons behind these changes. 

From the 1940s to the 1990s, there was a huge push for urban renewal and development in the Asheville area. HACA really began its push in the 1950s, which is when they started executing the plans for urban renewal. This is reflected in the HACA publications collection. The program had many economic, social, and racial effects that can be seen even today. Based on the documents in the collection, it seems that the height of this program occurred during the 1970s. The documents emphasize a strong push towards demolition, and reconstruction, especially in low income areas. For the most part, these areas were residency areas for minorities. From what can be gathered it seems there was not much consideration for the people who lived in these places. One of the reasons for the Urban Renewal Program was to generate economic growth and development, with some emphasis on how the environment would be affected. The layout of Asheville demographically, and commercially, are perhaps the most noticeable long lasting effects of this program.

During the project, many people had no choice but to leave their homes and find somewhere else. The main cause of this removal, was the fact that the Urban Renewal Project destroyed many homes in order to construct new and more expensive buildings. This can be seen as part of a long-term process of gentrification, which happened over a fifty year period. There are also HACA records regarding different populations of people depending on the area of residency. So there is evidence that HACA conducted research into the standard of living and the demographic makeup of these gentrified areas.

 Commercially, there were also many changes in the business layout of the city. This is something HACA did a large amount of research on as well. Documents in the exhibit show that there was a focus on the local economy of the Asheville area. Looking at the documents, there seemed to be a cost benefit analysis of the environmental and economic effects of the program. This makes sense because the Urban Renewal Program was part of a plan for more economic growth and development. 

  The purpose of this exhibit is not to blame or justify HACA’s actions. The purpose is to make people aware of what happened, gather information, analyze the situation, and make their own judgment on the purpose of this program and its long-lasting effects. This exhibit provides plenty of information on the procedures, and policies that HACA used during Urban Renewal Project. To have a closer look, please visit special collections.