From an astronaut reading on the moon, a monkey in a space suit and tiny green martians, all of these illustrations decorate the covers of a recent donation of over 700 pulp magazines to JMU’s Special Collections in Carrier Library.
“The cover artwork is a big piece of what makes the pulps so special,” Kate Morris, the interim special collections librarian at JMU, said.
This expansive donation of “Astounding Science Fiction” and “Analog Science Fact and Fiction” includes pieces that began in 1948 and span all the way to 2010. The collection was recently given by Thomas Moore for his wife, Dorothy, a graduate of Madison College — now JMU — who remains passionate about the school.
“My parents still have family in the area and strong ties to the area and my mother has very strong ties to Madison,” Meredith Moore, Thomas Moore’s daughter, said.
Although Thomas and Dorothy Moore currently reside in California, their connection to the Valley didn’t begin with JMU. Both Moore and his wife are from Rockingham County and were high school sweethearts.
“My mother was something of a class beauty and my dad was a pimply nerd and adored her from afar,” Meredith said.
While Dorothy attended Madison College, Moore graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in chemical engineering, and they married soon after graduation. Moore’s interest in science and science-fiction has lasted throughout his life.
“As someone who was passionately in love with science, he loved the vision of a pro-science and pro-beneficial technology future,” Meredith said. “He loved ‘Star Trek’ and things that imagined a future where science could lift humanity.”
Meredith first came up with the idea for her father to donate his collection to JMU when she and her husband Eric LaFreniere attended the First Annual Pulp Symposium at JMU last year. While the donation was Meredith’s idea, she credits LaFreniere with doing most of the work with Moore and Special Collections.
According to LaFreniere, Moore’s belief that science fiction can be uplifting played a large part in his decision to donate his collection to JMU.
For Moore, “the idea of uplift and science-fiction and engineering and education just go together,” LaFreniere, a writing, rhetoric and technical communication professor at JMU, said. “He was sharing with me the idea that our ‘Star Trek’ trajectory or vision feels to him like it might be derailed, like we might not be on that course anymore.”
According to Meredith, growing up, she often saw her father reading his pulps as a way of relaxing. After a day of work as an engineer, Moore would often retreat to the family den to relax with a cigar and one of his science-fiction magazines.
“That’s why I get a little teary when I see those,” Meredith said. “I remember them so clearly from my childhood.”
Although Moore wanted his collection to be preserved and to benefit scholarship, his real motivation was to give his wife a way to have her name permanently on JMU, according to both Meredith and LaFreniere.
“He does have a real appreciation for education,” LaFreniere said. “But really the bottom line is we cajoled him into going to all the trouble that he went through on his end by telling him that he could put his beloved wife’s name on the donation and that it would be preserved.”
Meredith agreed that Dorothy and her persisting enthusiasm for JMU were her father’s primary motivations for the donation.
“It really is all about her,” Meredith said. “It always has been.”
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