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Exhibition: Dressing for Education: Carrier Library’s Diamond Jubilee 1939-2014

JMU Libraries & Educational Technologies is pleased to present an exhibit in celebration of Carrier Library’s 75th Anniversary: Dressing for Education: Carrier Library’s Diamond Jubilee 1939-2014. The exhibit runs now through Spring 2015 and is open during public hours in the original west wing of the building. Artifacts, images and ephemera from Special Collections are paired with items from the School of Theatre & Dance’s Historic Clothing Collection. Visitors can peruse campus fashion, technology, and architecture circa 1939.

Detail of the exhibition showing a Wool Houndstooth Suit c. 1940. The suit is typical of those worn from the late 1930s through the 1940s. Also pictured is a 1944 edition of Life Magazine. On the cover is Queen Elizabeth II in a suit.

Students may be surprised to learn both how little and how much the library has changed in 75 years.  Just as Carrier Library is bursting at the seams today, so too was its previous Harrison Hall location with only 165 seats and 20,000+ volumes. An October 15, 1937 Breeze article criticized the cramped quarters, calling for an entirely new building with better lighting and more space for students.1 In 1938, President Samuel Duke obtained funds from the Public Works Administration (PWA), architect John Binford Walford drew up plans, and construction began.2

Madison Memorial Library opened to acclaim on September 22, 1939. Governor James H. Price later pronounced it “a magnificent library--one of the finest I’ve ever seen.3 The edifice was classically proportioned and beautifully appointed. Hundreds of guests to the dedication were greeted by a larger than life size statue of Henri Chapu’s Joan of Arc in the grand black and white tile foyer flanked by a double ironwork staircase leading up to a spacious mezzanine where the circulation desk was stationed.

The new library was built to hold 80,000 volumes and seat 350—but increased enrollment prompted additions in 1971, 1982, and 1994 when a third floor was added to the east wing of the building.4 Collections have grown to 961,098 items with gate counts over a million per year! Plans are currently underway to add a north wing and can be found on the JMU Master Plan.  Happy 75th Anniversary Carrier Library! What will the next decade bring?5

The exhibition is free and open to the public during all library hours in the historic west wing of Carrier Library through Spring 2015.

For more information, please contact Julia Merkel at or by phone at 540-568-7040.



1Dingledine 69-70; Crowley, 53; The Breeze, “Library Expansion Begins in 1931,” October 1, 1932; The Breeze, “Observe Our Library,” October 15, 1937.

2President Samuel P. Duke’s Report to the State Board of Education, May 19, 1938; The Breeze, “Bid For Library is Accepted,” October 14, 1938; The Breeze, “Library Built By September,” November 4, 1938.

3The Breeze, “New Madison Library Opens to the Public, September 29, 1939; The Breeze, “Logsdon Reports Gov. Price Praises the New Library,” November 4, 1939.

4The Breeze, “Renovation of Library Progresses on Schedule,” January 14, 1971; The Breeze, “Comin’ at ‘cha! Library addition set for post-break opening,” February 25, 1982; Daily News-Record, May 21, 1984; The Breeze, “Construction Behind Schedule on Library Addition,” July 21, 1994.

5Library Self-Study, 27.

5Library Study, 6-9.


Dressing for Education:
Carrier Library’s Diamond Jubilee
1939 - 2014

 was made possible by
contributions from:

JMU School of Theatre & Dance and
JMU Libraries & Educational Technologies

Historic Clothing courtesy of
JMU School of Theatre & Dance

Images and ephemera courtesy of
 Special Collections, Carrier Library

Additional images provided by the
Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society
and JMU Facilities Management

Design & Installation:

Pamela Schuelke Johnson ‘90M and Julia Merkel ‘92M
with Harper Franklin ’14, Andrea Oaxaca ‘13
Alyssa Fisher ‘13M, Andrea Morgan ’14, and Suzy Wilson ‘14

based on:

Dressing for Education The First Fifty Years:
Highlights of the JMU Historic Clothing Collection 1908-1959

a Margaret Burruss Historical Research Grant-funded Project
written by Professor Pamela Schuelke Johnson
with Sabrina Claire Chapman ‘05



Created: 6/3/2014 5:10:00 PM
Modified: 6/5/2014 3:15:00 PM
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