Jessie duPont Library at Stratford Hall

Stratford hall building

Stratford Hall, birthplace of Robert E. Lee

Type of Library: Special Library

Project Coordinator: Judy Hynson

Address:  The Jessie Ball duPont Memorial Library at Stratford Hall

Telephone Number: 804-493-1940

E-Mail: [email protected]

Problems To Be Solved:

  1. To create records for three different collections: rare books, manuscripts, and the reference collection.
  2. To merge the records into a union catalog with other small, special libraries that had collections that complemented those at Stratford Hall.  The catalog system is Koha, the first open-source library automation system.

MARCIVE Solutions:

  1. Retrospective conversion from shelflist cards and Excel spreadsheets
  2. Authorities processing

The Story:

The Jessie Ball DuPont Library was built in 1980 in honor of its namesake, a member of Stratford Halls’ first Board of Directors and a generous supporter of education and research.  It serves as a research facility for the study of four generations of the Robert E. Lee family.  The library is on the grounds with the Lee historic home and is used by onsite staff and interns.  Visiting researchers, teachers, students, and the general public have also made use of these specialized collections.

It includes sources about the Lees and their slaves, indentured workers, plantation landscape and the Lee family’s impact on the development of our nation.

The Collections:

Falling Flag image

From The Falling Flag

Housed in the Library is a specialized reference collection on over 8,000 books on American history, biography, architecture, gardening and the decorative arts.  Some of the titles date back to the 1800’s, such as The Falling Flag: Evacuation of Richmond, Retreat and Surrender at Appomattox by Edward M. Boykin, 1874.

The collection of more than 1,100 manuscripts includes Lee family letters, deeds, wills, and plantation and business papers.   Rare books number over 4,000, and a digital catalog of the collection is available online.

Below is Gen. U. S. Grant’s Terms of Surrender given to Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox on April 9, 1865.Lee surrender letter

There are also historic photographs and realia.  The Library’s diverse collections contain examples of both man-made and natural objects to facilitate a more thorough understanding of the history of the historic site.

The Stratford Hall project was the latest of retrospective conversion projects performed by MARCIVE.

The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington is a resource for scholars, students, and all those interested in George Washington, colonial America, and the Revolutionary and founding eras.  We converted approximately 22,500 titles in 2001.   This was the first of the three projects.

The Gunston Hall Plantation Library was the second, completed in 2009 with around 2,800 titles.  It contains materials about founding father George Mason.

As part of the processing, local notes, local subject headings, the classification system, location information, and other additional information were transferred from the cards to the MARC record. Authorities processing was performed on all the names and subjects, preserving the local subjects at the same time.   As much as possible, specifications were standardized among the three libraries.

Judy Hynson, Director, Research & Library Collections at Stratford says: “In all instances, MARCIVE staff was easy to work with and particularly attentive to details.  Each collection was coded a little differently, according to our needs and the requirements of the Koha software used.  For our rare books, for which our “catalog” had been only a listing on legal pads, the creation of a digital catalog (showing locations!) finally made it possible to know what books we had and to easily find them.  Thank goodness, I had a very smart and capable (and younger!) intern to go up and down our library ladder when we were assembling the information for the rare book catalog.”Stratford hall book ladder

We were able to able to work with multiple formats, Judy says. “Our manuscript collection was a little more straightforward, because I had already created a catalog in Microsoft Excel.  A catalog of our Lee family papers is finally available to online researchers.  However, the most useful of MARCIVE’s retrospective conversions was the most recent one…where our reference collection was partly cataloged in an older card file and partly in an Excel spreadsheet.  Now, we can go to one place to find a catalog of our books!”

The results of the retro projects can be seen online.  “Our catalog is available to researchers on the Founding Fathers Library Consortium website, which is hosted by Mount Vernon and also contains catalogs of Mount Vernon and Gunston Hall’s collections.  Using Koha software, Mount Vernon’s very savvy technical librarian, Kurt Bodling, uploaded the files sent by MARCIVE to the Consortium website.  On the website, we can search our collections singly or all at the same time….which makes it easier to plan exhibits.”

Ms. Hynson gives us high praise!   “Finding a company like MARCIVE to do the retrospective cataloging was the best and most economical way that we could have gotten the cataloging project accomplished.  It’s great to have teachers, students, and other researchers find our catalogs online and make appointments to use our books and manuscripts.  I would highly recommend MARCIVE to any library planning to update to a digital catalog.”

While we at MARCIVE are certainly pleased that our customers are happy with our services, we glean great satisfaction in contributing to the preservation and access of a national treasure!