About Author: Colleen Theisen

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

Posts by Colleen Theisen


Special Collections News & Updates 7/22/2016


Migration is Beautiful Website Premieres at the 2016 National LULAC Convention

Janet Weaver in front of Migration is Beautiful display

July 12th was the kickoff for the 2016 National LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) convention. Janet, assistant curator for the Iowa Women’s Archives, attended the conference to promote “Migration is Beautiful,” a new website featuring vignettes, oral history interview clips, memoirs, letters, and  photographs from the IWA’s Mujeres Latinas Project.

The new website highlights the experiences and contributions Latinas and Latinos have made to the state of Iowa. It also hosts an interactive map that shows the migration of Latinos through Iowa during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Read more on the Iowa Women’s Archives Tumblr:  http://iowawomensarchives.tumblr.com/post/147700561076/july-12th-was-the-kickoff-for-the-2016-national


Hevelin Collection Transcription “Soft” Launch:

Early fanzinesUPDATE: transcription of the Hevelin Fanzines has begun! This afternoon 1,000 pages of scanned zines were opened up to a select group of fans for transcription. This “soft launch” of the transcription phase will give us an idea of how quickly transcription will go, and reveal any unexpected challenges we have not foreseen. All of the zines were published between the years 1930-1950, and represent a variety of content, creators, and printing techniques. We are now one step closer to our final goal: a text-searchable database which will offer unprecedented access to this massive and fascinating collection. Onward!

From Hevelin Tumblr: http://hevelincollection.tumblr.com/post/147607267899/update-transcription-of-the-hevelin-fanzines-has



New Spring/Summer issue of the UI Libraries’ Newsletter, Bindings

whitmanRead it online now: http://www.pageturnpro.com/Libraries-at-the-University-of-Iowa/73547-University-of-Iowa-Libraries-Bindings-Magazine-SpringSummer-2016/index.html#1

Or download it here: http://ir.uiowa.edu/lib_bindings/28/







Instruction Update:

Image of teachingFall is approaching – remember, we book classes on a first come, first serve basis.

If you want to get the date and time you want, please book your sessions through our form: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/forms/speccoll_class/.

We do not accept class requests sent to personal emails of special collections librarians.


Current Exhibitions:

The two exhibitions will run through August 24, 2016.

Visiting Exhibition: Geographies: The Midwest Examined from The Midwest Guild of Book Workers

Geographies exhibition title card with example book








A Collection of Wood and Rocks

Our graduate student worker Ellen Wrede put together a curious collection of stones, wood, and oddities from the natural world found in Special Collections.










1960’s Online Exhibition from the University Archives is Now Online

1960's exhibit front pageA new digital exhibition curated by University Archivist David McCartney is now online highlighting over 150 entries pulled from 30 different collections in the University of Iowa Archives such as “Sutdent Life, ” “Pop Culture,” ” Politics & Protest,” ” and “Civil Rights.” Video and audio clips from the time give a tour of the sights and sounds.


Browse the exhibition:  http://dsps.lib.uiowa.edu/sixties/



Big Ten Network Filming:

Last week we had a film crew visit from the Big Ten Network to make a one minute film about Special Collections outreach. As video producers it was an enormous opportunity to watch a major network’s team in action. We’ll post about the segment in the coming months when it is released. Stay tuned.

Person operating a TV camera








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Special Collections News & Updates 7/15/2016


Staff Publications:

Amy Chen interviewed Tirtza Even—a professor, video artist, and documentary film maker—for Archive Journal’s Notes and Queries section. The interview focuses on Even’s work to promote her Natural Life project, which shares the stories of five juveniles sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Read the article here: http://www.archivejournal.net/issue/5/notes-queries/natural-life-archive/


1960’s Online Exhibition from the University Archives is Now Online!

1960's exhibit front page

A new digital exhibition curated by University Archivist David McCartney is now online highlighting over 150 entries pulled from 30 different collections in the University of Iowa Archives such as “Sutdent Life, ” “Pop Culture,” ” Politics & Protest,” ” and “Civil Rights.” Video and audio clips from the time give a tour of the sights and sounds.

Browse the exhibition: http://dsps.lib.uiowa.edu/sixties/

Read about it in the Alumni Magazine: http://www.iowalum.com/magazine/digital/july16.cfm


UI Libraries South Entrance is a Poké Stop:

Pokemon Stop imageStop by the UI Libraries south doors, or near James Sanborn’s Iacto sculpture on the north side courtyard between the UI Main Library and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication to find Poké Stops near the UI Main Library.

If you aren’t up to date on this week’s cultural phenomenon, here is an intro: http://lifehacker.com/what-is-pokemon-go-and-why-is-everyone-talking-about-it-1783420761 



From our Social Media: A Manuscript Collection Processing Party

18 people processing papersAin’t no party like a collection processing party!  The University of Iowa Special Collections had our first Processing Party, organized by Processing Coordinator Jacque Roethler and Student Specialist Ella von Holtum.

18 staff members and student employees got together for one hour to help process a portion of a MASSIVE collection of papers. We did an initial sort of separating out the correspondence, and we accomplished 28 boxes! Definitely a do again! What would have taken 20+ hours only took one.




Read more: http://uispeccoll.tumblr.com/post/147396688845/aint-no-party-like-a-collection-processing-party



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YouTube Series If Books Could Talk Finishes Final Episode

Colleen and HeatherIf Books Could Talk is a collaboration between Heather Wacha from History Corps, a digital public history project from the History Department at the University of Iowa, Colleen Theisen, Outreach & Engagement Librarian from Special Collections, and Katie Buehner, Head of the Rita Benton Music Library from the University of Iowa Libraries. Heather Wacha researched and wrote the episodes, Colleen Theisen served as the host, and Katie Buehner filmed and edited the series.

“If Books Could Talk,” explains that the paper, bindings, bookplates, repairs, stains, handwritten notes, stamps, and markings all leave traces that give clues to how they were made, where they have been, and can even tell about the lives of the people who have read them.

The final episode appears below. In it, Heather and Colleen examine two Medieval manuscript leaves and what we can learn from the layout, chapter headings, verse numbers and more. How does a Medieval manuscript Bible leaf differ from a Bible printed today, and what features have remained throughout the years?

Find out in the final episode of If Books Could Talk:


Or catch up on the whole series:

If you enjoy the videos, subscribe on YouTube.


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Special Collections News and Updates 7/1/2016

Closed on the first of july



Instruction Update:


Codex Conquest logoAmy Chen promoted Codex Conquest, her book history game, at the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS). She is now collecting names and emails of librarians, faculty, and anyone else who might be interested in following the development of the game. Email amy-chen@uiowa.edu if you would like to be added to the listserv. Amy also hopes that she will shortly have a web landing page for the project, so stay tuned!




Image of teaching

Summer is the best time to get your class visit on the schedule for Fall 2016! Request your fall sessions now through our form:  http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/forms/speccoll_class/.






From the Web and Social Media:

Graduate Assistant Kelly Grogg’s video series, Historical Crushes finishes with this fifth and final episode.

Check out the whole series on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyuiKePcOFhuwhjH90wHSZs5fj_aWwEXI


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Historical Crushes YouTube Series

Special Collections’ Graduate Assistant Kelly Grogg, is somehow convincing our librarians to admit to their secret historical crushes…



Special Collections News & Updates 6/17/2016


Shakespeare Events This Weekend:

Pericles in City Park from the Riverside Theater. Info: http://daily-iowan.com/2016/06/16/shakespeare-at-sea-opens-riverside-in-the-park/

King Lear on the lawn at Salisbury House in Des Moines from Repertory Theater of Iowa. Info: http://rtiowa.com/king-lear/


Big News From the University of Iowa Center for the Book:

The University of Iowa Center for the Book has been testing the numbers from historic records that indicated early paper making shops could make 2000 sheets a day. After several attempts, this year, they matched that output:

(See their gallery of images here: https://www.facebook.com/University-of-Iowa-Center-for-the-Book-118780728163253/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1127314790643170)

They did it! 2000 sheets in one day! Congrats to all who participated!

A photo posted by UICB (@uictrbook) on


Instruction Update:

Amy Chen will be out of the office for two weeks to attend two conferences between Monday, June 13 and Friday, June 24. During this time, John Fifield will be answering the instruction request form. A reminder that instruction requests should always be directed to the form, not to an individual, for cases like this when Amy will be out of town. When Amy returns, the instruction request form will return to her.


50 Years of Star Trek Exhibition Continues Until August 5th

The tribbles multiplied this week, but they are contained. Don’t worry, we’ve got everything under control.


From the Web & Social Media

Historical Crushes video series continues:


New episode of Staxpeditions:

Coming Soon:

Migration is Beautiful Title ImagePreparations are underway to launch the Iowa Women’s Archives’ Migration is Beautiful website and accompanying 8×8-foot popup exhibit of Iowa Latina/o history at the national LULAC convention in Washington DC in July. Thanks to the Friends of the University of Iowa Libraries for making the physical exhibit possible!









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Special Collections Instruction Year in Review 2015-2016

University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections Instruction Year in Review 2015-2016255 Total Class Sessions which is a 16% increase over last year and 143% increase over 5 years agoWe worked with 21 campus departments and 91 campus instructors#1 partner is the center for the book. We worked with 17 non-UI institutions from 3 statesTwelve librarians taught this year and Amy Chen taught the most sessions, a total of 54The highest number of sessions were in MarchPlan early for your class sessions. Sign up now for summer and fall. http://lib.uiowa.edu/sc/services/classes

Bring your Class to Special Collections


Special Collections News & Updates 6/3/2016


Instruction Update:

It may seem early, but we’re already booking classes for Fall! Right now is the best time to let us know when you want to schedule sessions  – just fill out our instruction request form: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/forms/speccoll_class/  – Amy Chen, Instruction Librarian


New video series Historical Crushes

Have you found love in the archives? Do you have a historical crush? Special Collections’ Graduate Assistant Kelly Grogg has debuted the first episode of a five episode series. A new episode will be posted every Thursday in June.


Special Collections Librarians on Snapchat this Summer

Follow Department Liaison Lindsay Moen and Outreach & Engagement Librarian Colleen Theisen this summer for behind the scenes snaps of exhibitions, collection items, and the day to day workings of Special Collections.

Snapchat icons



Meet the Manuscript

By Heather Wacha

Manuscript writing

  1. 28 beaver fur hats.
  2. 6 panels of tapestries.
  3. Wool from Flanders.
  4. Silks, cloths and linens.
  5. Furniture, paintings, and sculptures.
  6. Gold and Silver.
  7. All manner of carriages.


If you had been an heir of the estate of Don Francisco Muñoz Carillo, a nobleman from Cuenca, Spain who died in 1687, you may have received some part of these items.  However, before you get too excited, you would have also inherited the many debts that Don Francisco’s left his heirs.

In the past two weeks, graduate students from the University of Iowa have been participating in a paleography workshop entitled “Meet the Manuscript” and working intently on the transcription and translation of Don Francisco’s last will and testament, held in the University of Iowa’s Special Collections Library (xMMs.Doc2).


But this is not a simple project.  Students have been working on multiple levels: transcribing, translating and TEI encoding each page of the document, with a view to providing an online digital edition and resource tool for a broad range of viewers who might benefit from using this document, as well as making a historic model of the document with which they are working.  Thanks to the UI Center for the Book’s Tim Barrett, Melissa Moreton and Cheryl Jacobsen, eleven new books were born, filled with hand-made paper, held together with a tacketed binding with alum taw laces (case paper replaced the original parchment cover), and sporting examples of an Italic script.

Additionally, students from three Iowa high schools are interacting with the manuscript either through digital images and translations or through their visit with the original document in UI Spec Coll.

The work from both UI graduate students and high school students will be available on the Meet the Manuscript website.

What a wonderful collaborative experience with much thanks to UI Spec Coll, UI Studio, UI Center for the Book, Ana Rodriguez and Amber Brian from the UI Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and the multiple UI departments and divisions that sponsored the fellows!  Muchas gracias from all of us and all of Don Francisco’s predecessors and successors.


Special Collections News & Updates 5/27/2016

Important Announcements:

  • Special Collections and the Iowa Women’s Archives’ Reading Rooms will be closed May 30th for the Memorial Day holiday.



Image of Peter Balestrieri in Archival OutlookCurator of Science Fiction and Popular Culture, Peter Balestrieri is featured in the Cover Story of the May/June issue of Archival Outlook from the Society of American Archivists.

“Archivists are artists,” Balestrieri remarks, reflecting on his punk rock gig with the Violent Femmes and how a life with music and libraries intertwined eventually led him to Special Collections.

Read the whole feature here on pages 8-9 and 26.


Event Recap:

The UI Libraries hosted Nicholas Meyer, who made an appearance as a guest speaker in conjunction with the Main Library Gallery exhibition 50 Years of Star Trek.

Meyer, who is an alumnus of the University of Iowa, directed the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) and contributed to the shooting script for that film (uncredited). He wrote portions of the screenplay for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) and went on to direct Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), for which he also co-wrote the screenplay.

Storify of Tweets from the event.

Video from his talk is available here:



New Staxpeditions:

English Department Shakespeare Professor Adam Hooks joined us for an episode of Staxpeditions. Can you guess where his favorite call number range might lead?




New Acquisition:

Helen Hiebert’s Interluceo arrived recently, at the request of several UICB faculty members. Interluceo is a collaborative work, blending Helen’s paper and watermarks with papercut illustrations by Beatrice Coron and a binding by Claudia Cohen. It’s a beautiful example of how the talents of multiple artists can come together to tell a fascinating story using the form of the book itself. Photos and video really don’t do it justice! – Margaret Gamm





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