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

Posted on: October 15, 2015

Exhibition Dressing for Education

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 2016 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.

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.

Circulation Desk in 1945

For more information contact Julia Merkel,
JMU Libraries’ Preservation Officer at merkeljm@jmu.edu or at 540-568-7040.

This exhibition 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

Exhibition design and 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

The exhibition is 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


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

President 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.

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

The 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.

Library Self-Study, 27. https://www.lib.jmu.edu/liaison-librarians/
Library Study, 6-9.

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