Pellom McDaniels wins research award for African American Civil War-era exhibition

Pellom McDaniels III, curator of African American collections at Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library,

Pellom McDaniels

has won the Center for Research Libraries 2017 Primary Source Award for Research.

McDaniels received the award for “What Must Be Remembered: An Exhibition Inspired by Natasha Trethewey’s ‘Native Guard,’ ” which was based on the two-term U.S. poet laureate’s poem about an African American Civil War soldier.

The exhibition featured large photographic vignettes of Civil War-era materials from the Rose Library, which reflected on aspects of African American life during the war, including womanhood, manhood, labor and commerce, childhood and education, and life as a soldier.

“What Must Be Remembered” debuted in February 2014 at Emory’s Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts and went on display at the Alliance Theater during the run of the play “Native Guard” (also inspired by Trethewey’s poem) in autumn 2014, then again in the Woodruff Library in March 2016.

One of the vignettes of Rose Library collection materials. Photographed by Paige Knight/Emory Libraries.

Paige Knight, library digitization coordinator, composed and photographed the archival materials. Each composition was further contextualized by quotes from African American civil and human rights advocates such as Sarah Parker Remond (1826–1894) and Frederick Douglass (1818–1895).

“This project speaks to the value of primary research—and its centrality to the entire academic community—by affirming the interpretive interplay between poetry, scholarship, and visual art,” says Rosemary M. Magee, director of the Rose Library.

“Award reviewers noted that ‘What Must Be Remembered’ is an exceptional example of collaboration between a historian and a visual artist using primary source materials,” according to a CRL announcement. “By taking material evidence from the lives of enslaved African Americans and applying an interpretive lens, a fuller understanding of the African American experience is achieved.”

The Center for Research Libraries created the CRL Primary Source Awards in 2009 to recognize innovative uses of primary source materials by faculty, librarians and library staff, students, and other researchers in the CRL community. Awards are granted in three areas: access, research, and teaching.

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