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Archive | November, 2013

Billy DeBeck’s Office Door: Cultural stereotypes of Appalachia

VCU Libraries has an extensive Comic Arts Collection. But it also has a few items that are not in the book or comic book format — like the office door of pioneering cartoonist Billy DeBeck, featuring an oil painting of one of his most beloved characters.

William Morgan DeBeck, 1890-1942, was a giant in the comic strip art form. To readers in the Jazz Age and Depression era, his characters were as beloved as Superman, Peanuts and Doonesbury became to later generations. Dialogue from Barney Google became part of the cultural syntax. Catchphrases from his strips included: “Horsefeathers!” “Heebie-jeebies,” “Jeepers Creepers!” “Bus’ Mah Britches!” and “Time’s a’wastin’!” DeBeck invented the moniker “Google” for his character. DeBeck’s personal papers and other materials provide insight into American cultural stereotypes of Appalachia.

Like many illustrators and cartoonists, DeBeck didn’t confine his art to paper; he painted Barney Google and his equine sidekick, Spark Plug, right, on his office door. The door was donated to Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library by DeBeck’s former secretary.

To see the door, visit Special Collections and Archives at Cabell Library.

Image: Special Collections and Archives, VCU Libraries

Nineteenth Century Collections Online: Digital archive

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Nineteenth Century Collections Online is a global digitization project working to make primary sources from the 19th century available to scholars around the world. These sources provide a personal look at an age of massive change and expansion, with the birth of industrialization and nationalism, increasing literacy and the growth of culture.

Nineteenth Century Online provides cross-searchable digital archives of newspapers, maps, photographs, ephemera and more. The topical archives include “Asia and the West: Diplomacy and Cultural Exchange,” “Photography: The World through the Lens” and “Science, Technology and Medicine: 1780-1925.” Four more archives are scheduled for release in 2014.

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Image: Nineteenth Century Collections Online

Poictesme: VCU student literary publications

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VCU has a long history of student publications, many of which are available through VCU Libraries. Now you can access the full archives of Poictesme, a student literary journal, through VCU Libraries’ digital collections.

Poictesme publishes undergraduate students’ prose, poetry and artwork once a year. The journal was started in 1980 by the VCU English Department, under the name The Writer’s Corner; it changed to Millennium in 1997, then finally to Poictesme in 2006. The current title pays homage to fantasy author James Branch Cabell, after whom the Monroe Park Campus library is named. A fictional country roughly analogous to France, Poictesme was the setting of many of Cabell’s works.

VCU Libraries now has digital versions of almost all issues of both Poictesme and Millennium and plans to add The Writer’s Corner in the near future.

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Image: Poictesme, VCU