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Fun Fact: Library collection includes revolutionary rhetoric

Rare Books and Texana Collection, In Crisis by Thomas Paine; Jennifer Sheehan, left and Morgan DavisThe UNT Rare Book and Texana Collections is home to a pamphlet written by revolutionary war era journalist Thomas Paine. The pamphlet includes what famous phrase?

A. I have not yet begun to fight.

B. These are the times that try men’s souls.

C.  Four score and seven years ago

D. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.

The correct answer is B: These are the times that try men’s souls.

Thomas PainePaine, left, was a skilled writer, able to clearly and passionately articulate ideas. He arrived in the North American colonies in 1774, not long after the Boston Tea Party demonstrated the colonists’ displeasure with the British tax on tea. Paine concluded that the colonies should stop fretting about taxes and simply declare independence from Britain.

He wrote Common Sense in January 1776, a treatise that sold an estimated 500,000 copies, and the persuasive essay helped generate public support for the ratification of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

The university will be closed July 4 for the Independence Day holiday, the final holiday of the 2011-12 academic year. The UNT System Board of Regents approves holidays recommended by each system institution. Each employee received a floating holiday in 2011-12, which must be used by Aug. 31. The next university holiday will be Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3, which is in fiscal year 2012-13.

The famous phrase above comes from The Crisis, a series of articles about freedom and independence. The first article, published in December, 1776, begins:

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

In Crisis, by Thomas Paine; Rare Book and Texana CollectionsThe pamphlet was donated to UNT in memory of Dominic Richard Attanasio by his wife, Lola Curbo Attanasio, Class of 1934 and 1937, and his son Richard Evans Attanasio. It is 11 pages in length, is 7.5 inches tall, and it may be viewed during collection hours or by appointment.

The Rare Book Room and Texana Collections also contain the archives of the Texas Society Sons of the American Revolution, a tract printed in 1760 by Benjamin Franklin, land deed signed by Sam Houston, a Bible from the 16th Century, a leaf from an illuminated manuscript and a large collection of rare juvenile literature including pop-up books and miniature books.

  • Enter to win an eco-friendly shopping bag by sending an email to InHouse with “Paine” in the subject line by 5 p.m. July 6. Winners will be selected at random from all responses.

Students, faculty, visiting scholars and the community all are welcome to visit the collection reading room in Willis Library. “We host rotating exhibits to showcase material from our collections in the reading room and the public is invited to view these exhibits during our normal business hours,” says Morgan Davis, head of archives and rare books, above left. Right, Jennifer Sheehan, curator of rare books.

The room is now open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will add evening and weekend hours in fall. Researchers should make an appointment, since some items are stored off-site and require 24 hours’ notice to access. 

Many of the items from both the rare books and archives collections are being digitized. Find these online at these sites:

(Photo by Michael Clements)

Posted on: Mon 02 July 2012

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