May 3, 2001 - Exhibit and Syposium:

"Threads of Scholarship: History and Storytelling in African American Quilts"

in conjunction with the University at Albany Libraries'
2 Millionth Volume Celebration

Learn more about the "visual vocabulary" of African American quilts, how color preferences are sometimes used as codes or "signaling systems" and have been handed down from one generation to the next. Hear how reminiscent African traditions are embodied in quilts and quiltmaking and how quilts ensure tangible connections to ancestors, heritage and community. The lectures and exhibit link the historical and social journey of African Americans in society to their journey in the scholarly process. Speakers will address how many of the original quilts guided fleeing slaves on their journey to freedom through the Underground Railroad. Speakers will also address processes of researching slave women through quilt scholarship and crafting personal histories into scholarship.

An academic research library preserves and transmits culture through scholarship, and strives to promote and stimulate scholarly dialogue. Today, with the celebrated emphasis on electronic access, researchers and readers can easily miss the importance of print, microform and archival resources which are especially crucial to constructing social histories. Scholars' use of primary and secondary source documents, not yet available electronically, has enabled the re-construction of several cultural histories. Many of these histories could not have been gathered without accessing these resources and utilizing primary source collection of information. As librarians, we want to emphasize that the research process involves creative use of several communication mediums. The preservation of culture also occurs through textual and photographic mediums. We hope to foster understanding and stimulate discussion on the processes of scholarship, particularly those processes which focus on persons under-represented within more traditional canons of scholarship.

This poster and book exhibit is a visual invitation to students, faculty, and members of the community to participate in and shape scholarly dialogue. "Threads of Scholarship" invites students and faculty to think of themselves as active story tellers in the process of preserving and communicating their histories and cultures.

Symposium - May 3, 2001, 2:00 p.m.
University Library, Mary Elizabeth Cobb Room, UL B43
University at Albany


Dr. Gladys-Marie Fry is Professor Emeritus of English, University of Maryland. Fry earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Howard University and her Ph.D. from Indiana University. She is the author of Stitched From the Soul: Slave Quilting in the Ante-Bellum South and Night Riders in Black Folk History. A contributor or author to museum catalogues, Dr. Fry is also the author of a number of articles and book chapters. The recipient of numerous fellowships and prizes such as the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Smithsonian Institution Post-Doctoral Fellow, and the National Endowment for the Humanities General Research Grant.

La Nina M. Clayton received her M.A. in History and her M.L.S. from the University at Albany, SUNY, in 1992 and 1991 respectively. She received her B.S. in Industrial Relations from LeMoyne College in 1989. She is currently the Public Services/Collection Development Librarian in the Special Collections Department of The Gelman Library at The George Washington University (GWU). Most recently Ms. Clayton worked with two other Special Collections librarians to create a curriculum to teach a credit course in primary research methods for the University's Honors Program. She has presented papers at Society of American Archivists, MARAC, and the Lake Ontario Archives Conference, and she has the distinction of being one of the first Junior Fellows in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. She is the curator of numerous exhibitions. Ms. Clayton previously held positions as Reference Archivist, Smithsonian Institution Archives; Regional Archivist, Metropolitan New York Library Council; and Institutional Archivist/Public Services Librarian, Fiorella H. LaGuardia Community College.

Dr. RAYMOND G. DOBARD is Professor of Art in the College of Arts and Sciences at Howard University. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts from Xavier University of Louisiana in 1970 and received his Master of Arts (1973) and Doctor of Philosophy (1975) in the History of Art from the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Dobard is a contributing editor to the anthology of African American writings entitled A Howard Reader: An Intellectual And Cultural Quilt of The African American Experience, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1997. Dr. Dobard is co-author of the book, Hidden In Plain View: The Secret Story of Quilts And The Underground Railroad, published by Doubleday in January of 1999 and by Anchor Press in 2000. Dr. Dobard wrote the introduction to the recently published book by Cuesta Benberry entitled, A Piece of My Soul: Quilts by Black Arkansans, 2000.

Eli Leon of Oakland, California, is the curator of numerous exhibits, author of articles and exhibit catalogs, and collector of African American quilts. He is the winner of a Guggenheim Award to allow him further study of African American quilts and quilt artists. Many of the exhibit materials are derived from Mr. Leon's work. Previous commitments prevented Mr. Leon from participating in the symposium.


2:00 pm. University Library, Mary Elizabeth Cobb Room, UL B43
"From the African Loom To the American Quilt." Dr. Gladys-Marie Fry, Folklorist and Scholar on African American Quilts (Washington, D.C.)

3:00 pm. University Library, Periodicals Room
Threads of Scholarship Exhibition Opening and Reception, Meet the Speakers

3:15 pm. Periodicals Room, University Library
"Piecework: Crafting the Fabric of our Lives" La Nina Clayton, Archivist, George Washington University

4:00 pm. University Library, Mary Elizabeth Cobb Room, UL B43
"From Griot to Grandmother: Stitching Stories and Viewing Heritage Through the Eye of the Needle" Dr. Raymond G. Dobard, Art History Faculty, Howard University

4:45 pm. University Library, Cobb Room
Open discussion with speakers and audience

All Welcome. Visitor Lot Guest Parking passes are available at the event.
For more information, please contact or phone 442-3578 or 442-3592.


The art exhibit and program were made possible through the generous support of the University at Albany's Affirmative Action Grant program, Dean Butler and the Library Development Fund. The grant co-investigators who developed the exhibit and theme are Gerald Burke, Bibliographer for Art, English, Philosophy, and Theatre; Brenda Hazard, Head of Media, Microforms, Periodicals, and Reserves; and Deborah M. LaFond, Bibliographer for Africana Studies, Communication, Psychology, Counseling Psychology, Educational Psychology & Statistics, and Women's Studies. Special acknowledgement to Professor Lillian Williams, Women's Studies and Africana Studies, and Geoffrey Williams, University Archivist who graciously provided scholarly support and assistance in planning this event. Co-sponsors of the symposium include the Africana Studies and Women's Studies departments and the Institute for Research on Women (IROW).