Lewis F. Hatch and the Richard Francis Burton Collection

By on December 17, 2013

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In 1967, the University of Texas at El Paso expanded its science program and hired its first dean and academic vice president, Lewis. F. Hatch.  Dr. Hatch was born in Washington, earned his bachelor’s degree at Washington State University, and his Ph. D. at Purdue.  His career included working as a chemist at the Shell Development Company before choosing to teach at the University of Texas at Austin, UTEP, and later at the University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Once he arrived in El Paso, he was instrumental in the hiring the college’s first African-American professor, Dr. Juan Lawson.  Dr. Hatch remained influential with regard to Dr. Lawson’s career, and in 1975, Dr. Lawson became the next Dean of the School of Science.

 

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Dr. Hatch was an avid collector of Sir Richard Francis Burton’s works, and over a period of 40 years, put together an extensive collection of books by and about the explorer and author.  Burton, who lived from 1821-1890, travelled the world in search of the mysterious and the unknown.  He translated the works of nineteenth-century orientalists and is perhaps best known for his account of a pilgrimage to Mecca disguised as an Arab as well as his unexpurgated translations of the Kama Sutra and the Thousand and One Nights. While Burton’s open and frank treatment of sexual topics did not endear him to nineteenth-century England, his letters and books have brought the culture of India, Africa, and the Middle East to subsequent generations of the English-speaking world.

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One Thousand and One Nights is a series of folk tales primarily from India and Persia, compiled over a number of centuries.  The collection of diverse stories has been rewritten by many authors, but the common thread that connects all of them is the story of Scheherazade and her attempts to save her own life through her narrative abilities.  In the West, the stories of Scheherazade are known as the Arabian Nights.

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Shortly after his death in 1991, Dr. Hatch’s widow, Marie Hatch (a chemist and teacher herself), donated some 249 letters and books to the UTEP Library in memory of her husband.  The Lewis and Marie Hatch collection of Sir Richard Burton books is said to be one of the most complete collections in the country. An exhibit is currently on display on the sixth floor of the Library in Special Collections that includes many translations of the Arabian Nights, as well as some specialty items and biographical information about Burton himself. In the Carl Hertzog Room there are other volumes written by Burton about his travels.  The “Sir Richard F. Burton and the Arabian Nights” exhibit will show through the end of February.

 

Sources:

Index of Memorial Resolutions and Biographical Sketches

http://www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/2000-2001/memorials/AMR/Hatch/hatch.html

Interview with Juan Lawson  http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/interviews/667/

The UTEP Library Newsletter Vol. 2, No. 2, Fall 1995

The UTEP Library Newsletter Vol. 1, No. 2, April 1995

One Thousand and One Nights Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://libraryweb.utep.edu/special/arabian.php

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in: History