Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

May 16, 2014

Tollett donates historic volumes to George Mason University

CROSSVILLE — April 3 was an historic day for Uplands Village resident Gerry Tollett and for Yvonne Carignan, head of special collections and archives at George Mason University. The two women met at the East Tennessee Historical Society in Knoxville so that Tollett could give Carignan a very rare antiquarian set of the The Complete Works of John Locke for the university’s special collections and archives. 

The set, three leather-bound volumes published in London in 1714, is one of only a few still in existence and will now be featured prominently in the George Mason University Library. John Locke (1632-1704), educated at Christ Church College, Oxford, and was a foundational thinker in modern theories of political philosophy, education and religious tolerance.

How did Tollett come by these rare and valuable books? And why donate them to George Mason University? The books belonged to another Uplands Village resident, Bill Hamilton, who was a descendant of the first cousin of George Mason IV. Before Hamilton passed away, he gave the books to Tollett and explained John Locke’s significant influence on George Mason in writing the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the U.S. Bill of Rights.

In honor of her dear friend and his connection to George Mason, Tollett contacted the head of special collections and archives to see if the university would like the books for their collection. The answer was a resounding yes. Carignan drove almost 10 hours to meet Tollett in Knoxville to receive the books.

Upon receiving them Carignan told Tollett, “Thank you for the gift of these treasures, which mean so much to George Mason University Libraries. We will be moving forward within the year to conserve the volumes and to promote their acquisition.” 

Tollett was a resident of Crossville for almost 35 years and raised both her daughters there. She moved to Uplands Village, a continuing care retirement community located in nearby Pleasant Hill, in 1999.

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