In the spring of 1998 Johns Hopkins University Press will publish The Height of Our Mountains: Nature Writing from Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley, edited by Michael P. Branch and Daniel J. Philippon, a 450-page anthology that collects nearly four centuries of nature writing from this region. Featuring the work of seventy of the nation's finest writers on nature since 1612, The Height of Our Mountains explores the changing ways in which this regionŐs inhabitants and visitors have understood and expressed their relationship to the land over time.
This exhibition is based on the research for The Height of Our Mountains, much of which took place in the Special Collections Department of Alderman Library. As Michael Branch and Daniel Philippon note in the acknowledgments to their book, the Tracy W. McGregor and Clifton Waller Barrett libraries of American history and literature, in particular, were "indispensable resources" for their study of Southern nature writing, without which they could not have completed The Height of Our Mountains.
This exhibition is therefore a tribute to Tracy McGregor and Waller Barrett, as well as to the many other friends and associates who have helped to build the truly "special" collections housed at the University of Virginia. More than just an archive of rare books and manuscripts, these holdings are the living embodiment of our nation's literary heritage. They deserve our closest attention and finest treatment.
I welcome this opportunity to pay tribute also to the curator of this exhibition, Daniel Philippon, the "indispensable resource" in its preparation. Without his ideas, scholarship, and tireless efforts, these "Landmarks" would not exist.
Associate Director for Special Collections