UT Libraries Acquires Its 3 Millionth Volume, A Cherokee Spelling Book

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the UT Libraries and many of its friends and benefactors recently celebrated the acquisition of the Libraries’ 3 millionth volume, “TSVLVKI SQCLVCLV, A Cherokee Spelling Book.”

The Cherokee speller was published in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1819. The Libraries’ copy is one of only three known to exist.

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During remarks at the celebration, UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek and Provost Susan Martin praised the Libraries and its staff for their contributions to scholarship on the Knoxville campus and around the world. Dean of Libraries Barbara Dewey outlined other notable milestones in the Libraries’ history and reflected on the importance of collecting and preserving historical Tennessee documents.

“This book strengthens our exceptional collections of early Knoxville imprints and material documenting the region’s history,” Dewey said, “including the history of the Cherokee and their removal from this area. It is our hope that the UT Libraries becomes a national center of research and historical materials on the Cherokee.”

Before guests visited the Special Collections area where the rare volume was on display, Vicki Rozema, author of several books on Cherokee history and culture, discussed the history of the book.

“TSVLVKI SQCLVCLV” was the work of missionary Daniel Butrick and David Brown, Butrick’s Cherokee student at the Brainerd Mission in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The Brainerd Mission was one of many Christian missions founded in the early 19th century as part of the religious revival in America known as the “Second Great Awakening.” Butrick and Brown’s slim volume of only 61 pages, which uses the Roman alphabet to transcribe the Cherokee language, predated the well-known syllabary created by Sequoyah.

Daniel Butrick marched with the Cherokees on the “Trail of Tears” to Indian Territory in Oklahoma during the Indian Removals of the 1830s. Rozema told the audience that the journal Butrick kept along the way is one of the most poignant and thorough records of that tragic journey.

“The book is a compelling and important document of the early 19th century in East Tennessee, and a fitting symbol for this milestone in the progression of the University of Tennessee Libraries,” Dewey said.

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