‘John Adams Unbound’ exhibit coming to BSCC
by W. Brian Hale
Feb 25, 2011 | 4095 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A painting of President John Adams, which is part of a traveling exhibit that will open at Bevill State on March 2. Photo special to the Eagle
A painting of President John Adams, which is part of a traveling exhibit that will open at Bevill State on March 2. Photo special to the Eagle
“John Adams Unbound,” a traveling exhibition opening at Bevill State Community College’s Nicholson Library located on the Jasper Campus, opens March 2. The exhibit explores the personal library of former president John Adams — a collection of 3,500 books willed by Adams to the people of Massachusetts and deposited in the Boston Public Library in 1894. The collection provides a first-hand insight into how John Adams shaped American history and how he was shaped through his lifelong dedication to reading and books.

“We are pleased to have been selected as a site for this exhibition,” said Dr. Anne McNutt, president of Bevill State Community College. “John Adams’ dedication to self-education and intellectual reflection will be an inspiration to our library’s patrons and to our community.”

Adams’ engagement with books was active and argumentative, as evidenced by the meticulous and personal commentary he crammed into the margins of the works he read. Numerous notations in his own handwriting is akin to listening in on his personal conversations with writers such as Cicero, William Blackstone, Thomas Paine and others across oceans and centuries. As Adams the lawyer prepares to defend British soldiers on trial after the Boston Massacre in 1770, for example, he references Cicero’s views on self defense contained in Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England.

Through photo-reproduction of many of Adams’ books, as well as personal objects, graphics, maps and portraits, exhibition viewers will witness one of our founding fathers wrestling with intellectual and political ideas at every stage in his long life — as a boy, university student, Boston Lawyer, revolutionary, diplomat, President and citizen of the early American republic. The exhibition is also an extraordinary case study in the power of reading which reveals the role of books and libraries in the health and prosperity of a democracy.

The “John Adams Unbound” traveling exhibition was organized by the Boston Public Library and the American Library Association and made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Great Ideas Brought to Life. The exhibit is based upon the gallery exhibition of the same name mounted by the Boston Public Library in 2006, the first public display of Adams’ complete 3,500 book collection.

The Nicholson Library is sponsoring free programs and other events for the public in connection with the exhibit. For more information, call 387-0511, ext. 5715, or visit www.bscc.edu.

“John Adams Unbound” will be on display at the library until April 15.