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September 23, 2011

ULM celebrates unveiling of new exhibits provided by Laine

An exquisite, custom-made display case accompanied by a state-of-the-art sound dome was unveiled to the public at the ULM Library's special collection area during a special ceremony at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 20.

The special case and dome were installed recently to house an extraordinary gift given three years ago to the university by Linda Noe Laine of New York, a long-time ULM supporter.

In March 2008, Laine had donated an original, authenticated manuscript of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," penned in Julia Ward Howe's own handwriting.

Also donated with the manuscript was a rare, framed photograph of Howe. Now the manuscript has a new home and music to enjoy with it.

A special feature of the display is that it showcases the ULM Concert Choir and the ULM Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Deborah Chandler, as they perform the stirring rendition of the song that listeners hear as they enter the sound dome. A videotape of the singers accompanies the music.

Special guests at Tuesday's event included Laine, ULM President Nick J. Bruno and exhibit consultants-designers, Jeffrey Bank, Andy Davenport and Paul Stapp of Adler Display Inc. of Maryland.

Dr. Bruno shared that Laine comes from a family "steeped in the history of ULM."

Laine's father, the former Louisiana Governor James E. Noe, authored a bill when he was still a state senator that provided state support for what was then known as Ouachita Parish Junior College.

Until the time of his death in 1976, Noe continued to be an ardent supporter of ULM.

The ULM Alumni Center is named in honor of his wife, Anna, and the library's special collection area houses many of his papers.

A panel near the display case for "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" explains in detail the Noe family legacy and their strong ties to ULM.

"This kind of generosity provides ULM the resources that are so vital to attracting the top-level students and qualified faculty a university seeks," said Bruno.

"These type of gifts enrich us and they enrich our community in ways that are almost immeasurable."

The "Battle Hymn of the Republic" holds special significance to Laine, who said at the time that she donated the manuscript the hymn "spoke to who we are as American citizens" and hoped those who see it are moved as much as she was

Laine said the hymn was so beloved by her father, it was sung at his funeral, and it would be sung at hers as well.

A paper conservator, who supervised its restoration and framing, has authenticated the manuscript, said Cyndy Robertson, ULM's coordinator of library special collections.

The display is housed in the library's special collections area because security is tighter there, the lighting is neutral and the climate is carefully controlled, Robertson said.

Laine also has purchased another Adler-designed display for housing an exact replica of The Louisiana Windows, which were designed and placed at Westminster Abbey. The replica is another permanent exhibit displayed inside the ULM special collections area and was also revealed for public viewing for the first time Tuesday.

The Louisiana Windows is a single stained glass window of several panes that celebrates early settlers to the heartland of America.

It was dedicated in 1995 and is in the Henry VII Chapel of the 945-year-old abbey in London in memory of Laine's parents, Gov. James Albert Noe and Anna Gray Noe of Monroe.

Bruno concluded his remarks by thanking Laine, not only for the donations celebrated on Tuesday, but for her lifetime of giving.

"They will no doubt be celebrated and enjoyed for many generations to come," he said.

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