A Farewell to Arms: Unique Keepsakes in Special Collections

If your grandmother’s attic had a professional curator, she’d probably be a lot like Kathleen Smith, associate director of special collections for Vanderbilt’s Jean and Alexander Heard Library system. As encyclopedically knowledgeable as she is affable, Smith brightens when she describes the particular details surrounding the acquisition of a historically significant letter or some other pearl of memorabilia housed in Special Collections, located on the bottom floor of the main library.

While the assemblage provides scholars with an impressive array of primary sources on topics like Southern literature, civil rights and religious studies, Smith and her team occasionally find themselves on the receiving end of unique objects that have been passed along to the university, from vintage movie posters to—as in the case of items highlighted here—armaments and other war-themed matériel.