This year’s Lafayette birthday celebrations in Fayetteville included “Arias and Artifacts” at Methodist University. The event consisted of a reception and program highlighting recent additions to the Lafayette Collection at Davis Memorial Library. Members of the MU Chorale also shared memories of their recent visit to St. Avold, France, Fayetteville’s sister city. Afterward, there was a concert of French music in Hensdale Chapel, presented by vocalist Gail Morfesis and friends.
The Lafayette Collection includes letters, monographs, books, commemorative items, maps, and other items dating from Lafayette’s lifetime and beyond. Archives Librarian Arleen Fields is the curator of the University’s special collections, and organized this year’s event, in conjunction with the Lafayette Society.
“The highlight of the program was a presentation to the University of an 1825 ‘Lafayette map’ of Fayetteville from the Lafayette Society,” Fields said. “The map is a window into the history of Fayetteville and our connection to Lafayette.”
Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, gained fame as a young Frenchman fighting for the colonies during the American Revolutionary War. He remained popular in the United States throughout his lifetime and was treated like a celebrity during his “grand tour” of the states in 1824-1825. Lafayette visited Fayetteville in March 1825, and the Lafayette Room in Davis Memorial Library is furnished in the style of southern American homes of that time period.
The Lafayette Society was founded in 1981 by the late Martha Duell, as a nonprofit organization to honor the memory of the Marquis de Lafayette and promote awareness of his contributions to mankind and freedom. To this end, the group recently added $10,00 to its endowment fund at MU.
“The Lafayette Society is excited to partner with Methodist University in order to build up the Lafayette Collection at Davis Memorial Library,” said Dr. Hank Parfitt, president of the Lafayette Society. “This collection has enormous potential as a resource not only for student scholars at Methodist, but also for faculty and graduate students from other universities. Our board is solidly behind the endeavor and voted unanimously to redirect our endowment with Methodist to this purpose.”