About Colleen Theisen

Outreach and Instruction Librarian. Lover of coffee, as well as 19th century photography, painting, tourism and print.

News from Special Collections 8/28/2015

Staff Changes:

1. Saying Farewell to Olson Graduate Assistant Jillian Sparks

JillianJillian Sparks will complete her two years as Olson Graduate Assistant here in Special Collections this week. The Olson GA’s participate in the department as junior staff for twenty hours a week; working at the reference desk and answering email reference questions, teaching classes, planning events, writing about collection items for social media, and assisting with a myriad of other duties that come up in day to day life here in Special Collections. Above and beyond those duties Jillian worked on a project adding copy specific notes about types of bindings, marginalia, and provenance information to our catalog records for the earliest English language books in the collection and prepared an exhibition about her work that can still be seen in the cases outside Special Collection on the 3rd floor of the Main Library, or online here. Jillian recently completed her Masters of Library Science here at the University of Iowa along with a certificate in book studies from The Center for the Book, and is seeking employment in the field. Her contributions to this department over the past two years cannot be measured. It was an honor and a privilege to work with such a talented librarian.

Upcoming Events:

1. Special Guest Lecture, Alison Altstatt, University of Northern Iowa

Vellum leaf of a medieval music manuscript

“Re-membering the Wilton Processional: a Manuscript Lost and Found”

Friday, September 4, 2015


Special Collections Reading Room, 3rd Floor Main Library, 125 W. Washington, Iowa City, IA

This talk concerns a notated leaf of an English medieval manuscript held in the Special Collections of the University of Iowa Libraries. Musical, textual and codicological evidence supports the identification of the leaf as a fragment of a processional from Wilton Abbey, an important center for women’s Latin learning from its tenth-century foundation to its sixteenth-century dissolution. The recovery of the University of Iowa leaf, along with more than thirty others, provides a window into the abbey’s musico-poetic tradition, its processional liturgies, and its dramatic rituals.

2. Iowa Bibliophiles First Meeting for 2015-2016, Wednesday September 9th

calligraphyThe first Iowa Bibliophiles meeting of the 2015-2016 season will feature University of Iowa Center for the Book calligraphy instructor Cheryl Jacobsen speaking about calligraphic hands featured in Medieval manuscripts held in Special Collections.

6:00PM – Stop by to view a repeat showing of the livestream video of Alison Altstatt’s September 4th talk

6:30PM – Refreshments served

7PM – Cheryl Jacobsen’s talk

Special Collections Reading Room, 3rd Floor Main Library, 125 W. Washington, Iowa City, IA

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the sponsoring department or contact person listed in advance of the event.

Recently on the Web and Social Media:

1. Olson Graduate Assistant Kelly Grogg’s IFLA Conference Report

Image of Kelly GroggAs we reported earlier this month, Kelly Grogg recently received a scholarship and attended the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) in Capetown, South Africa. She wrote a blog post, “IFLA: Putting Action into the Philosophy of Libraries.”



2. Jillian Sparks’ Last Social Media Post

Close of of the gold decoration on the spine of a bookJillian wrote a farewell Tumblr post about the History of Hydraulics collection that you can see here.  You can also view all of the posts she made for our Tumblr in her time in Special Collections here.




3. U. Iowa Curriculum Featuring Special Collections Materials Featured in “In the Library with the Lead Pipe” Article

Image of Tom KeeganArchives Alive!: librarian-faculty collaboration and an alternative to the five-page paper

Tom Keegan, Head of the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio in the UI Libraries, and former Undergraduate Services Librarian Kelly McElroy published an article about Archives Alive!, the primary source based curriculum for the Rhetoric Department that has students transcribing, analyzing, and interpreting historic documents from Special Collections in DIY History, the University of Iowa Libraries volunteer-based document transcription site. The curriculum was originally developed in partnership with a campus curriculum development project, Iowa Digital Engagement and Learning (IDEAL).

4. “Weekly Squint” On Tumblr

Several  libraries on Tumblr this week featured a “Weekly Squint” which includes a close up view of a collection item. The Huntington Library Tumblr began the “Weekly Squint” feature on Tumblr and invited other libraries and institutions to participate. Our post was a close up view of the Columbian Press in the 3rd Floor hallway.

Close up view of the gears of a hand press Full view of the Columbian hand press

New Acquisitions:

1. Early 20th Century Astronomy Slides

With the July 14 New Horizons flyby of Pluto, there has been a surge of interest in astronomy. A recent acquisition by the Special Collections department shows that interest in the heavens has been with us for a long time.

These slides were used by Bishop Simeon Arthur Huston (1876-1963), Bishop of the Episcopal Dioceses of Olympia, WA from 1925 to 1947. He had a life-long love of astronomy and after his retirement, he wrote a regular astronomy column in his local newspaper on Bainbridge Island, Washington. He gave frequent talks on astronomy, using these slides to illustrate his talks. There are approximately 50 slides in the collection.

These slides were generously donated by Simeon Huston’s grandchildren Matt Huston, John Huston, Jr., and Elisabeth LeLion.

Slide showing Mars Slide showing the moon Slide showing the two dippers

2. The Gazetteer

The Map Collection’s merge with Special Collections in 2013 has resulted in a heavier focus on the history of cartography. Although Labbé didn’t advertise this work as a gazetteer, it is one of the earliest works on place names in France. Nicolas Sanson, a famous cartographer, heavily criticized the book for plagiarism; perhaps that explains why this was the only edition!

Phillipe Labbé. Pharus Galliæ antiquæ. Moulins, 1644.

The Gazetteer book binding The Gazetteer book inside text The Gazetter book title page

News and Announcements:

1. Iowa State Fair Recipe Contest

Special Collections and the Old Capitol Museum co-sponsored a cooking contest at the Iowa State Fair.

The following is a quote from the results page from the Iowa State Fair Website:

Contestants in the Szathmary Collection of Historic Recipes competition, judged Tuesday at the 2015 Iowa State Fair, were part cook, part historian and part detective. Entrants were challenged to interpret a recipe from 1874, maintaining the original recipe’s integrity, while filling in the gaps and adapting to modern measurements, equipment and ingredients

Celeste F. Bremer of Urbandale won first place. Natalie Ridgway of Johnston earned second place and Lindsey Pepper of Boone claimed third place.

The recipe for Sponge Pudding from from Emily Netuzed’s handwritten cookbook from 1874 reads as follows:

Handwritten Recipe image

See this item, MsC 533, EN32,  in the Iowa Digital Library: http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/ref/collection/cookbooks/id/12876

“Put two eggs into the scale, then take their weight in flour, butter and lump sugar; first beat the butter in to a cream, powder the sugar and mix with it, beat in the eggs and lastly the flour, butter some little moulds and take ½ an hour in rather a quick oven.”

The Iowa State Fair Food Department is the largest of any state fair in the country. There are 228 divisions, 850 classes and over 10,600 entries at this year’s Fair. Food Department judging is held in the Elwell Family Food Center sponsored by Wells Blue Bunny.

The judges for the contest were members of the “Historic Foodies” group in Iowa City.

Congratulations to all the winners!

2. A Final Reminder to Sign Up for Fall Semester Class Sessions or Group Visits

Students looking at materials in a Special Collections classSpecial Collections and University Archives already has 40 professors scheduling classes with us this fall. You should bring your students too! We have a staff of librarians with expertise in areas ranging from medieval manuscripts to science fiction, all available to help design curricula to complement your learning objectives. Submit your request here to learn more: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/forms/speccoll_class/


Coming Soon: Mark Your Calendars

1. Cedar Rapids Museum of Art ExhibitionBrave New World: Selections from the Hevelin Collection

October 2, 2015 – January 17, 2016

1930's Science Fiction FanzinesThe James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Collection encompasses more than 10,000 science fiction “fanzines” – amateur publications produced by enthusiastic supporters of the science fiction genre for others who shared their interests – housed in Special Collections & University Archives at The University of Iowa Libraries.  Initially written for a limited audience and distributed via subscription and personal connections, fanzines include stories from some of America’s most famous authors: Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, and, more recently, George R. R. Martin.  Hevelin collected fanzines from his childhood in the 1930s until his death in 2011, and this exhibition focuses on those collected from the 1930s to 1950s, showcasing the development and golden age of America’s fascination with science fiction.  The dynamic cover illustrations, many depicting varieties of space crafts, astronauts, and life on other planets are especially remarkable when one remembers that the artists were depicting technologies and worlds that man was only beginning to imagine.  Other illustrations portray scenes that would become tropes of the science fiction genre, such as a woman in distress or a hero battling a monster.  These selections from the Hevelin collection, created and distributed by non-professional fans of the nascent sci-fi genre, demonstrate the importance of fan involvement to drive the genre forward.


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News from Special Collections 8/21/2015

News and Announcements:


1. Plat Books

Photo of a stack of plat booksThe Map Collection sent out a call to the Auditors of Iowa Counties for current plat books to update our collection. So far, over 40 counties (of 99) have donated current and back issues of plat books for our collection!  Thanks Iowa!

Plat books are atlases, drawn to scale, that show property ownership and land divisions.


2. Special Guest Lecture, Alison Altstatt, University of Northern Iowa

“Re-membering the Wilton Processional: a Manuscript Lost and Found”

Vellum leaf of a medieval music manuscript

September 4, 2015


Special Collections Reading Room, 3rd Floor Main Library, 125 W. Washington, Iowa City, IA

This talk concerns a notated leaf of an English medieval manuscript held in the Special Collections of the University of Iowa Libraries. Musical, textual and codicological evidence supports the identification of the leaf as a fragment of a processional from Wilton Abbey, an important center for women’s Latin learning from its tenth-century foundation to its sixteenth-century dissolution. The recovery of the University of Iowa leaf, along with more than thirty others, provides a window into the abbey’s musico-poetic tradition, its processional liturgies, and its dramatic rituals.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the sponsoring department or contact person listed in advance of the event.

3. World Con

U.I. Libraries Table display in the dealer's room at the World Con Science Fiction ConventionThe World Science Fiction Convention is going on this week in Spokane, Washington and Special Collections has a table in the dealer’s room to talk to the fans about our Hevelin Collection fanzine digitization project.

Want to stay up to date on our project digitizing 1930s-1950s fanzines?  Follow the Hevelin Collection Tumblr or read our FAQ page.


4. State Fair Continues

Image of the mobile museum and the world war 2 exhibitOver 5,000 people have already checked out the Over Here From Over There: Iowans in World War II exhibit in the Mobile Museum at the State Fair as of Wednesday. The fair continues through Sunday, August 23rd so check out the exhibition if you head out to the fair this weekend.


Recently on the Web and Social Media:


1. Man From U.N.C.L.E. Posts Recap

Memorabilia from the Man From U.N.C.L.E. tv showLast week to coincide with the release of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, we featured a post here on our blog with an overview of our related collections and some information about the history of the show and also a related post on our Tumblr about memorabilia in the collections.



2. An exquisitely illustrated Lutheran Theological Text was featured on Tumblr

Image of Magnum Mysterium a fold out image from a 17th century text

This theological text was written by Jacob Boehme (Jakob Böhme), a Lutheran theologian. The majority of his writings concern the nature of sin, evil, and redemption. These themes can be seen in some of the detailed images.

xBV5080 B5 1682

View the post with many more illustrations here, or stop by the reading room on the 3rd floor to take a look!


Final Reminders Before Fall Semester:


Students looking at materials in a Special Collections class

Reminder to Sign Up Early for Class Sessions

So far this fall, we have 25 faculty members working with us to bring their classes into special collections.

You can too! Sign up using our form: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/forms/speccoll_class/


Image of a clockReminder That Evening Hours Change Next Week

Our new hours are:

Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays: 8:30 AM – 5 PM

Tuesdays: 8:30 AM – 7 PM

News from Special Collections 8/14/2015


1. New Hours:

Responding to library use patterns, we will be shifting our evening hours when the fall semester begins. On August 25th, we will be open until 7 PM on Tuesdays and we will no longer open on Thursday nights.

Image of a clockOur new hours are:

Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays: 8:30 AM – 5 PM

Tuesdays: 8:30 AM – 7 PM



2. Request Fall Class Sessions Now

Image of a class using Special Collections materials

Classes are beginning to schedule their sessions at Special Collections for the fall.

To get your desired date and time, sign up soon using our request form.




3.  Save the Date:  First Iowa Bibliophiles Talk of the 2015-2016 Season  

calligraphyCalligrapher and Center for the Book professor Cheryl Jacobsen will join us at 6 pm on September 9, 2015 to discuss Medieval calligraphic hands.

More details will follow soon.



4. New Collection Guide Search Engine

ArchivesSpace Logo5Our collection guides may suddenly look a bit different that they did before. We officially have transitioned behind-the-scenes from an Archon-based interface to using ArchivesSpace to host our finding aids. ArchivesSpace is a new open source archives information management application for managing and providing web access to archives, manuscripts, and digital objects. The University of Iowa is one institution among a team of beta testers for this product.

Feel free to contact members of our staff if you need help navigating the program or if you have any other related questions.


5. Mobile Museum Visits the Iowa State Fair August 13-23

The University of Iowa’s Mobile Museum will be at the State Fair all week.

Over Here From Over There: Iowans in World War II tells the story of Iowans during World War II. Nurses, Red Cross workers, and soldiers, as well as those who contributed to the war effort on the home front, are represented through letters, diaries, photographs, and artifacts from collections housed in the Iowa Women’s Archives and Special Collections. One portion of the exhibition focuses on the wartime correspondence of Lloyd and Laura Davis, a Cedar Rapids couple who married in 1942. The Davises spent the first years of their marriage apart when Lloyd was drafted into the Army. He eventually served in both North Africa and Europe while Laura Davis, a social worker, spent the war years in Cedar Rapids helping to set up daycare centers for the children of working mothers.

The Mobile Museum can visit your community. Follow this link to submit your request.


Recently on the Web and Social Media:

1. Digitization

Image of librarian Laura Hampton digitizing a fanzineThe Hevelin Collection Tumblr featured a post showing librarian Laura Hampton conduct the behind-the-scenes work to digitize the 1930s-1950s science fiction fanzines from the James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Science Fiction Collection.

See the post here.



2. Star Charts

Image of a star chart from 1548The UI Map Collection Tumblr recently featured our stunning 1548 copy of Alessandro Piccolomini’s astronomical text, which is a continual favorite in classes and in the reading room for its impressive star charts.  See the post here.

De la sfera del mondo; libri qvattro in lingva toscana … De le stelle fisse; libro vno con le sve figvre e con le sve tauole … Venetia [N. de Bascarini] 1548.


New Acquisitions:

1.  University of Iowa Nursing Scrapbook c. 1913-1917

From the opening page with a handwritten poem “What Makes a Good Nurse,” to the day-to-day ephemeral documentation of life at the hospital, such as baby onesies and memos, dance cards and graduation programs, this incredible scrapbook documents life as a nursing student from 1913 to 1917 here at the University of Iowa. It is an incredible addition to the Iowa Women’s Archives.

Scrapbook page with dance cards from 1917 Scrapbook page with photographs Scrapbook page with tiny baby onesie Scrapbook page with tiny photographs

2. Sculptural Book Arts Piece from Dan Essig

Image of the artiwork titled "sentinella" with a wooden boat filled with metal type, a wooden bird, and a small book with a coptic bindingResponding to requests from multiple University of Iowa professors for a teaching example of sculptural books arts as well as for a contemporary example of work from the book artist Dan Essig, we put the two together and acquired Sentinella by Dan Essig, a sculpture made of Italian Olive, mahogany, milk paint, printers type, mica, thorns, as well as Ethiopian and Coptic bindings.

You can see a video of its arrival and box opening below.

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News From Special Collections 8/7/2015

Summer 2015 New Staff and Staff Changes:

OBnINunsAmy Hildreth Chen is the new Special Collections Librarian in charge of the Instruction Program. Previously, she was a 2013-2015 Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Postdoctoral Fellow in the Division of Special Collections at the University of Alabama, where she oversaw instruction, exhibitions, and social media. In 2013, she received her Ph.D. in English from Emory University with a dissertation on the acquisition of literary collections. She also is an alumna of Iowa, as she graduated from UI in 2006 with a BA in Political Science and honors in English.


11222226_627153448065_8824884415556771774_nLaura Hampton recently joined the department as a Digital Project Librarian working on digitizing 1930s-1950s fanzines from the James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Science Fiction Collection. In May 2015, she received her MLIS from the UI School of Library and Information Science and Center for the Book. During her time at Iowa, she worked as a graduate assistant in Special Collections, and as a Reference Assistant at the Hardin Library of Health Sciences. Previously, she earned her undergraduate degree from New College of Florida in Sarasota, Florida where she graduated with a BA in literature.


John-FifieldJohn Fifield is the new 2015-2017 Robert A. and Ruth Bywater Olson Graduate Assistant.  He is a student in the School of Library and Information Science and the Center for the Book and he holds a Bachelor of Music in Horn Performance from Oklahoma State University. John is currently conducting bibliographic research at a convent’s library at the Convento de la Recoleta in Arequipa, Peru and will officially join the department in mid-August.  His research interests include the Spanish colonial book trade as well as food culture.



Recently on the Web and Social Media:

1. If Books Could Talk

The third video in the series If Books Could Talk is now live.  If Books Could Talk is a partnership between UI Libraries’ Special Collections and Music Library with History Corps, a public digital history project from the UI Department of History.  The series investigates what can be learned by looking closely at medieval manuscripts.  Subscribe to the UI Special Collections’ Staxpeditions channel on YouTube with any GMail or Google ID to get notifications whenever a new video is posted.  Historian Heather Wacha posts a complementary essay for each episode which can be found on the History Corps website.


2. Library Journal Article, “University of Iowa Libraries Begin to Digitize Decades of Fanzines.”

Library Journal recently had a feature article about the University of Iowa Libraries’ initiative to digitize 1930s-1950s science fiction fanzines in the James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Science Fiction Collection.  After the digitization, the scans will be open to a small group of fans to log in and help crowdsource metadata in an unprecedented effort to harvest the knowledge of the fan community and make available information about these fan-made publications. Read it here.

3.  Daily Iowan Coverage

Last week The Daily Iowan covered two events that Special Collections partnered to create, an event introducing teens to 1960s-1980s comic books as a partnership with the Iowa City Public Library, and ongoing efforts to recreate historic recipes from the Historic Foodies, a community group that is a partnership with the Old Capitol Museum. Read about the comic book event.  Read about Historic Foodies.

4. Vine Channel

This summer the Special Collections team has been testing the social media site Vine which is a site dedicated to very short videos that are less than six seconds long. You can see in the section below a short looping video of our librarian Margaret Gamm opening a new acquisition.  The videos may be seen on our Vine channel,  or shared to our Twitter  or Tumblr.


New Acquisitions:

1. Fluxus maps

“Hi Red Center,” 1965, was edited by Shigeko Kubota, designed and produced by George Maciunas, and maps the activities of the “Hi Red Center” avant-garde art collective conceptually onto the Tokyo landscape where the activities took place.  The back of the map has documentary photographs of events and happenings mapped on the other side that took place between 1963-1964.

The second map, “Fluxus Island in Decollage Ocean” is from Nam June Paik from 1963.

The two items join our extensive Fluxus holdings much of which can be found in the Fluxus West Collection, MsC 763.


Nam Jun Paik's Map, Fluxus Island, 1963.

Nam June Paik’s Map, Fluxus Island, 1963.

Shigeko Kubota's Map, "Hi Red Center" 1965.

Shigeko Kubota’s Map, “Hi Red Center,” 1965.






2. 1499 Codex with a Unique Binding

This book from 1499 is a manual for confessors that still has its first binding, a “wallet” style binding.  Meant to be used and carried around, these everyday bindings do not survive in great numbers.

The transition from the manuscript tradition to the earliest printed books is one of our most frequent topics that we teach in the classroom, across the disciplines on campus, for visiting classes from other colleges and universities, and for community groups.

Citation: Baptista de (Trovamala). Summa casuum conscientiae quae Baptistiniana nuncupaor (second version, known as Rosella casuum). Add. Sixtus IV: Bulla “Etsi dominici gregis” 30 December 1479. Rubricae iuris civili et canonici. Venice: Paganinus de Paganinis, 21 December 1499.


Incunabulum binding image Incunabulum binding waste Incunabulum inside text incunabulum title page image


me_2Kelly Grogg, Special Collections’ Olson Graduate Assistant was awarded the Rovelstad Scholarship in International Librarianship, which will fully fund her travel, housing, and registration to attend the World Library and Information Congress hosted by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) taking place in Cape Town, South Africa.  This scholarship is intended to encourage students who have an interest in international library work and enable them to participate in IFLA early in their careers.


speccollSelfie1-thumb-500x333-9148Margaret Gamm, Special Collections Acquisitions and Collections Management Librarian was honored as a “Bright Young Librarian” by Fine Books and Collections Magazine.  See the article here. 




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Science Fiction Fans Raise $1,955 To Support Hevelin Collection Digitization

Every year at the ICON Science Fiction convention in Cedar Rapids collects fan created artwork, crafts, and donated memorabilia which are auctioned off for charity.  Last fall, the chosen charity was The University of Iowa Libraries’ initiative to digitize the James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Science Fiction collection, an especially meaningful choice to the community, resulting in an outpouring of donations and fast-paced bidding wars.

Rusty Hevelin was a science fiction fan, pulp collector, fanzine creator, huckster (a dealer at conventions), and voracious reader for most of his 89 years who was involved with the Iowa Science Fiction conventions ICON and Demicon from the time of their founding.  After his death in 2011, his collections came here to the University of Iowa Special Collections where a recent unprecedented initiative to digitize around 10,000 of the earliest fanzines from roughly 1930s-1950s has begun.

The University of Iowa Libraries’ Community is deeply grateful for the generosity of the science fiction community and for their support.

The next ICON science fiction and fantasy convention will be at the Cedar Rapids Doubletree on October 16-18, 2015.  Details here.

Special Collections staff with an oversized check


Remembering Earl Rogers, the University of Iowa’s Archivist from 1970 to 1998

EarlRogersJamesVanAllen1998 from Accession 2006-44001

Photo: Earl Rogers (right) with James Van Allen, whose papers were processed under Earl’s supervision, at Earl’s retirement reception in the Dept. of Special Collections in May 1998. From UI Archives Accession 2006-44; gift of David Schoonover.

We are sorry to note that Earl Rogers, the University of Iowa’s archivist from 1970 to 1998, passed away early Wednesday morning at his home in Iowa City following a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 77.

Earl was born May 2, 1938, in Moline, Illinois. He received the bachelor of science degree in history in 1961 at Iowa State University, attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a history graduate student in 1962-1966, and completed his master of library science degree at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1967. After a three-year stint as a cataloguer in the University of Utah Library, he returned to Iowa, joining the UI Libraries’ Department of Special Collections in July 1970 to arrange and index the Henry A. Wallace Papers. Over time, he assumed the role of university archivist. He published numerous indexes and bibliographies pertaining to agricultural and UI history. Among his many noted acquisitions are the Papers of James A. Van Allen, which were processed under his supervision.

Although Earl retired in 1998, he continued to maintain two features on the UI Archives’ web site: our online bibliography of UI history-related materials, and a unique page titled ‘Fiction With an Iowa City Setting: An Updated Checklist.’ Earl would, from time to time, submit new entries or annotations for me to add to these sites.

I always looked forward to hearing from Earl, regardless of the nature of his dispatch, whether it was a new list of entries to upload, a report on his and Susan’s latest trips (Galapagos Islands, Turkey, and New Zealand, for starters), or a review of a new local restaurant. Earl often stopped by our department to drop off an obituary, a clipping, or an article for our vertical file. We appreciated his vigilance, not to mention his subscription to The New York Times.

Earl never second-guessed my decisions as his successor, though certainly on many occasions he had good reason to tap me on the shoulder. I would like to believe it was because he trusted me. More likely, however, it was because he and Susan were having a blast in Peru.

I feel a bit stranded right now. Because of Earl’s remarkable longevity as UI’s archivist – 28 years – and the fact that his position was vacant for over two years until I arrived in 2001, I now have no direct forebear from the archives to call on, no predecessor, whether retired or working elsewhere. Archivists value institutional memory, particularly when shared memory and experience pass from one generation to the next within their shop. Those links inevitably break as time passes.

One last round of web page updates from Earl awaits on my desk. I’ll get to them soon.

Thank you, Earl, and our condolences to Susan and family.


David McCartney, C.A.

University Archivist

I could not clear expenses at home so I am better off here, till business revives at the North

Joseph Culver Letter, June 13, 1865, Page 1Office Chief of Artillery, District of Middle Tennessee.
Nashville, Tenn., June 13th 1865.
My Dear Sister:

Yours of June 5th reached me a few days ago. I had heard before the arrival of your letter of my new niece, Maggie I hope is better by this time. I wrote her a few days ago.

“Why don’t I come home right away” you say, “if I can only make enough to clear expenses?” This is the reason – I could not clear expenses at home. So I am better off here, till business revives at the North. Next Spring I intend going into some business that will promise at least permanancy What that will be, I am not sure. Until that time I don’t know what I will be engaged in. I have made application for a military appointment, but can not expect to get it as there is now a great surplus of Officers in the Department (Adjutant General’s) to which I applied.

I begin to look for Battery “M” here. I think it will be along this week. I have not heard from it for some considerable time. I hope the boys will all get home before the 4th of July. What preparations are being for the celebration this year? Do you anticipate a “galorious” time. I presume it will be the grandest gala day America has ever seen. There will be wild rejoicing and deep bitter mourning.

I received a letter a few days since from Cousin Lizzie Donaldson and she siad the regiment in which her Brother James went out, was daily expected home and all of his Company were safe but him. He was the only man lost out of the Co. during the war. Lizzie and her mother have gone to Cambridge and Wheeling on a visit.

Find me Tom’s address, if you have it. I’ve lost track of the scamp entirely.

Write me very often, Mollie, and keep me posted in the particulars of the natural increase of population in that section.

With much love
Ever your aff. Brother
W J Murphy

No word from Frank yet.

Posted in Uncategorized

We are still very busy preparing for our muster-out

Joseph Culver Letter, June 5, 1865, Page 1

Hd. Qurs., Co. “A”, 129th Ills. Vols.
Washington, D.C., June 5th 1865
My Dear Wife

We are still very busy preparing for our muster-out & are expecting our turn to come every day. The 102d Ills. was mustered out yesterday evening & start home very soon.1 I hoped to hear from you by yesterday’s mail but was doomed to disappointment. I hardly expect to hear again unless you have written yesterday, which, if mailed to-day, will reach me Wednesday [the 7th].

We are all well. Alf [Huetson] returned to the Company yesterday evening & will help me with my papers. I hope to have all completed by to-morrow.

I am going to the city this morning to get the money out of the express office that Charlie sent me. I sent down for it twice but did not succeed in getting it. We hope to get home sometime next week if nothing happens. Hoping to find you well & happy with God’s blessing resting upon you, I remain, as ever,

Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. The 102d Illinois, like the 129th Illinois, belonged to the 1st Brigade, Third Division, XX Corps. That evening General Ward had his brigade commanders assemble their men to listen to his farewell address. Ward had had too much to drink, and “words as well as sense were wanting or but half understood.” He was interrupted several times by cheers and jeers from his soldiers. General Harrison and Colonel Doan of the 79th Ohio also made speeches, dwelling on the privations, hardships, and battles they had shared. They were interrupted frequently by applause. Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, p. 267.
Posted in Uncategorized

I have written 3 to 4 times a week ever since we arrived at Alexandria

Joseph Culver Letter, June 2, 1865, Page 1

U.S. Sanitary Commission [letter head]
Washington, D.C., June 2nd 1865
My Dear Wife

Yours of the 29th ult. recd. last night. I am very happy to hear that you are well. This was the 1st recd. since yours of the 11th ult. I have written 3 to 4 times a week ever since we arrived at Alexandria; before that we had very few mail facilities.

I am happy to hear that Maggie is doing so well. Present my congratulations.1

I am busy day & night but will be partially done by Saturday.2 I will then write. I do not know when we will start home, probably not for a couple of weeks yet.

I recd. a letter from Charlie [Culver] yesterday. Judge Watts told him that he wrote to you inquiring when & where he should send the money but recd. no answer.3 I presume he has lost your address. I will write to him next week if we are not nearly ready to start. I expect to call at Carlisle a few hours on my way home. I drew one hundred dollars from Watts by Charlie yesterday; it will be here to-day.

Mollie is lying very sick at the National Hotel, Washington. Bro. Wes’ Regt. has been sent north & is in camp near Philad. Penna. Wes will go as soon as Mollie can be removed. I have not had time to go & see them, but recd. a letter from Wes. I must close for the present.

May God bless you.
Your affect. Husband
J. F. Culver

  1. Mary Culver had undoubtedly written her husband that Maggie Utley had given birth to a baby girl.
  2. Orders were received on the 21st for company commanders to have all their returns, muster rolls, and accounts up-to-date and in order by June 1. General Sherman, on the previous day, had notified the adjutant general that much progress has been made “in the muster out and rolls of discharges.” General Slocum had given assurances that he could complete “the rolls and discharges” for his Army of Georgia within ten days. Distractions were numerous and work lagged. All trains departing Washington were crowded with discharged soldiers on their way home. The cheering of these men, as the trains rumbled northward, was heard in the camps clustered around Fort Lincoln, about one-fourth mile east of the right-of-way of the Baltimore & Ohio. General Sherman on the 30th had issued his farewell order to his troops, thanking them for their love of the Union, for their fidelity to him, for enduring so bravely the privations and hardships, and for their bravery in numerous battles. Grunert, History of the 129th Illinois, pp. 265-66; O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XLVII, pt. III, p. 598.
  3. Judge Frederick Watts of Carlisle, as administrator of the estate of Joseph Culver, was charged with disbursing the assets to the heirs.
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