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ECU’s Joyner Library opens exhibit on Native Carolinians circa 1585
John Lawrence, head of service for the North Carolina Collection at Joyner Library, adjusts Thursday the placement of one of 22 engravings created by Theodor de Bry for the 1590 edition of Thomas Harriot?s account of his visit in 1585 to the coastal area of what is now North Carolina. The engravings are on loan from Michael Joyner of Cary and will be displayed in the Verona Joyner Langford North Carolina Collection of the library through May 15.
(Apr. 1, 2011) — Engravings that are more than 400 years old are the focus of a new exhibit at the J.Y. Joyner Library at East Carolina University. “Native Carolinians, 1585: The Theodor de Bry Engravings of John White Watercolors” will open Monday.
The Native Collections exhibit will feature 22 engravings created by Theodor de Bry and that appeared in the English, Latin, and German 1590 editions of Thomas Harriot’s “A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia.” The engravings were based on watercolor paintings, created around 1585, by John White, who later became governor of the 1587 colony on Roanoke Island.
Harriot’s “A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia” was the first published account of native North Carolinians and the plant and animal life in the coastal area of North Carolina. It is still considered the cornerstone of North American natural history.
White worked with Harriot throughout the region to make a visual record that complemented Harriot’s written account of the environment and its inhabitants. ECU’s College of Arts and Sciences is named for Harriot, a scientist who accompanied Sir Walter Raleigh’s 1585 colony to Roanoke Island to conduct experiments.
The engravings are on loan from Michael N. Joyner of Cary. In 2009, Joyner acquired his first de Bry engraving of the “Virginia Indians,” which are based on the original watercolors of White. He has now compiled a complete collection of de Bry engravings from “A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia.”
“We are grateful to Michael Joyner for sharing his prints and books for this exhibit,” said Maury York, assistant director for Special Collections at Joyner Library.
“Through his exceptional generosity, the students at East Carolina University and the people of eastern North Carolina will have a rare opportunity to view important images of Native Americans as they were seen by Europeans during the lifetime of Sir Walter Raleigh.”
Also on display will be a large print of “The Invincible Armada Defeated” of the English defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 and prints depicting Sir Walter Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth I of England. In addition, the exhibit will include Raleigh’s “Historie of the World” and an early biography of him.
The collection will be on display through May 15 in the Verona Joyner Langford North Carolina Collection, located on the third floor of the library.
Joyner said he hopes making these images of native Algonquian Indians from coastal North Carolina available through this exhibit will inspire a new generation of Americans to rediscover the early history of the state and English exploration and interaction with the native people of the Outer Banks and surrounding coastal communities.
Dr. Larry Boyer, Dean of Academic Library and Learning Resources, said he was thrilled that the library is able to offer the engravings for exhibit.
"For many years, John White’s images of native Carolinians have been familiar to almost every school child in America, but to be able to see and ponder these contemporary de Bry prints is certainly an extraordinary treat. We are truly grateful to Mr. Joyner for his generosity in agreeing to have them displayed here in Joyner Library for all of us at ECU as well as our Eastern North Carolina neighbors to enjoy. This, perhaps, is a once in a lifetime opportunity not to be missed."
For more information contact Dawn Wainwright, Joyner Library marketing director, at 252-328-4090.
Watercolor paintings created around 1585 by John White, who would later become governor of the Roanoke Island colony, were transformed into engravings by Theodor de Bry to accompany 1590 editions of Thomas Harriot?s ?A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia.? Twenty-two of those engravings will be on display at Joyner Library through May 15.
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