Book of Gold
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Manuscript Book. Eric A. Dawson. "Foyer Du Soldat De Pierrefitte" Title on spine: "The Book of Gold."

An extraordinary autograph album and scrapbook, Eric Dawson kept "The Book of Gold" throughout much of his adult life. A Mississippi native, Dawson graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1908. Later he taught French at his alma mater. During World War I, Dawson served with the American YMCA in its "Foyers des Soldat" (Soldier's Club) program in France. Initially he worked in Pierrefitte, a small village in the Lorraine where Dawson began his unique book by inscribing "Foyer de Soldat de Pierrefitte" on the title page. In 1918, he joined the United States Army as a private, later becoming a sergeant in the Intelligence Corps. Beginning in the First World War and continuing through the early 1940s, Dawson collected a dazzling array of signatures, autograph sentiments, signed musical notations, autograph poems, pen and pencil drawings, watercolor sketches, political documents, original photographs, and war-time ephemera. The sampling of pages on display only hints at the range, variety, and color of the album as a whole. Many important writers (Ezra Pound, Thomas Mann, Rudyard Kipling, and William Faulkner), political and military figures (Winston Churchill, Marshall Foch, John Pershing, Douglas McArthur, and Woodrow Wilson with five members of the American delegation to the Paris Peace Conference), composers (W.C. Handy, Cole Porter, Igor Stravinsky, Irving Berlin, and Sergei Rachmaninoff), figures from the arts (Howard Chandler Christy and Henri Matisse) and sciences (Albert Einstein), as well as from film and stage (Sarah Bernhardt, Lillian Gish, and Tallulah Bankhead) and sport (Jack Dempsey) have all contributed to Dawson's amazing book. 

Antebellum and Civil War Mississippi | Late 19th Century | 20th Century  | Literary Mississippiana | Introduction