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 10/21/2016


A ‘Gorey’ Good Time: Halloween Pop Up Exhibit

This Halloween Pop-Up Exhibition is hosted by the University of Iowa Special Collections. We will be displaying Halloween-related materials from the collections. We will be serving popcorn, and students can make their own free buttons from spooky comic book images.

Friday, October 28 at 11:00am to 3:00pm

University of Iowa Main Library, Group Area D


Recap: LGBTQ History Month Talk

David McCartney, University Archivist, presented a talk for LGBTQ History Month on Wednesday evening, sponsored by Delta Lambda Phi fraternity. Extensive holdings in the Iowa Women’s Archives and the University Archives provided the background for David’s presentation, including this 1980s-era notice from the Gay People’s Union, and an image from the 1971 Hawkeye yearbook depicting Gay Liberation Front’s entry in the 1970 Homecoming parade, its first public action. The University of Iowa that year was the first public university in the nation to officially recognize a gay student organization.


View the online exhibit, “LGBTQ Life in Iowa City, 1967-2010,” at http://www.outhistory.org/exhibits/show/lgbtq-life-in-iowa-city

LGBT float in a parade LGBT flier










Staff Updates:

Amy Chen is on the steering committee for Professor Judith Pascoe’s National Endowment for the Humanities (NAH) funded Next Generation Humanities PhD initiative on campus. As a part of the committee, she wrote a post for Iowa’s blog, The Newly Composed PhD, on Amanda Visconti’s visit to talk about her experience obtaining her doctorate and acquiring her current role as an Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at Purdue University. Amy’s blog post, “The Role of Generosity in Best Practices for Digital Humanities Advisors,” was just selected as an editors’ choice for Digital Humanities Now, a DH journal.



Special Collections News 10/14/2016




Highlights From Social Media:

This visitor has been appearing for #FridayFrights on Twitter. Follow along for the rest of October.


Libraries, museums, archives, and historical societies all over the country (including @uispeccoll) are celebrating the build up to Halloween using the hashtag #pagefrights across social media channels. Here’s a list of participating institutions: http://pagefrights.org/participating-institutions/

Here’s an example from our Instagram:

One more:

The University of Iowa has a series interviewing students and graduate student about their favorite spot on campus. One of the students chose the UI Main Library. (We’re awfully partial to the third floor).

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Special Collections News 9/30/2016


Event Recap:

Iowa Reads Shakespeare was the closing event for the First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare exhibition traveling from the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Last Saturday, sixteen readers performed and recited passages from Shakespeare at the Riverside Festival Stage in City Park. The Combined Efforts Theater performed as well as Rubén Villeagas who performed scenes from Hamlet, the play that garnered the most votes from around Iowa and was dubbed “Iowa’s Favorite Shakespeare Play.”

The event concluded with a costume contest.

Combined Efforts Theatre

Combined Efforts Theatre

Costume contest participants

Costume contest participants


A New Feature on the UI Libraries’ Homepage: Martin Luther King, Jr. Recording from 1959

The UI Libraries homepage has a new banner featuring an item from the University of Iowa Archives that was recently digitized as part of the Uptight and Laid-back: Iowa City in the 1960’s online exhibition.

Listen to the recording here: http://dsps.lib.uiowa.edu/sixties/mlk/



Chancery Papermaking from the UI Center for the Book, 2016

Successful test of historic papermaking techniques yields 2000 sheets of paper in one day.

A New Video: Step by Step Conservation Treatment for a Map of Canada

Step by step tour through the process of treating a map of Canada and removing the acidic backing.


New Acquisition: Book of Hours c. 1450

We are very excited about this new arrival! Books of Hours are some of the most frequently called up items for our class sessions and this newly acquired Italian Book of Hours from c. 1450 includes incredible illuminated miniature paintings inside of the initials. Watch here for more information as we get it cataloged and described!


And Finally:

A familiar title found while processing the DuGarm Comic Book Collection:

Dennis from @uispeccoll found a familiar title while processing the DuGarm Collection of comics.

A photo posted by University of Iowa Libraries (@uilibraries) on



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Special Collections News and Updates 9/23/2016

EVENT TOMORROW, September 24, 2016, 1PM-3PM:

Readers and Revelers needed to bring back the celebration of Shakespeare in City Park just like 100 years ago for the closing event to send off the First Folio exhibition to its next location.

Story: Shakespeare Fever Invades Iowa City Again 100 Years Later. Calendar Entry: Here.





Special Collections’ Instagram Feed was featured in a “Best of” list from Fine Books Magazine. Our continued thanks to Department Manager Lindsay Moen for her work inspiring love for rare books and historic documents online.  https://www.finebooksmagazine.com/fine_books_blog/2016/09/rare-books-on-instagram-part-1.phtml

Enjoy the whole feed here: https://www.instagram.com/uispeccoll/


Shakespeare Video Exhibition Labels:

Adam Hooks, curator of “The Books that Made Shakespeare” exhibition, made short 1-2 minute video labels to accompany the exhibition.

You can watch them all online here.


Updates from the Instruction Program:

amyAmy Chen, the Special Collections Instruction Librarian, is now the interim English and American Literature Librarian. The position is currently open – please find the job ad here. Feel free to contact Amy at amy-chen@uiowa.edu if you have questions about research, instruction, or acquisitions for the English department, although please note that research and instruction requests will be cooperatively shared with other librarians in the Research and Library Instruction (RLI) department.


Fun from the Archives:

Fun with boxes: man on tv set with robots made of boxesLet’s have fun with boxes! This image, undated but probably 1950s, is of a student-produced children’s television program originating in the Communication Center for on-campus closed-circuit use.

The photo is one of over 500 images acquired earlier this week by the University Archives from the Dept. of Communication Studies. Nearly all of the photos depict student-produced television productions during the 1950s and 1960s.


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Iowa Reads Shakespeare in the City Park “Globe Theater” Saturday, 9/24



Dost Thou Speak Masterly: Iowa Reads Shakespeare

Step up to read Shakspeare and celebrate The Bard’s 400 Death Anniversary – Just like they did 100 years ago in Iowa City, or come and enjoy the show!


A century ago, Iowa City celebrated the tercentenary of Shakespeare’s death. In 1916, the world was at war, and, as always, the arts were a healing salve. People gathered, donned Shakespearean costumes, and paraded to City Park to hear readings from the Bard’s plays.

So here we are in 2016, celebrating Shakespeare’s quatercentenary. We have planned to gather again in City Park. Interesting, isn’t it, that a public theatre-in-the-round now sits where Iowans observed Shakespeare’s last 100th birthday?


On September 24, 2016, we’ll gather at the Riverside Festival Theatre to read Shakespeare. For inspiration, we recall the words of Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night (Act II, Scene IV), “Thou dost speak masterly.”


SO, WE PUT IT TO YOU, FELLOW IOWANS: DOST THOU SPEAK MASTERLY? DO YOU LOVE READING SHAKESPEARE? Demonstrate your acting prowess at the closing event of First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library.


Here’s how you can participate:

SIGN UP HERE: https://uiowa.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2iaWCfFLFwPiF1P

No matter where you live, you participate by voting for a favorite scene from Shakespeare’s plays. The winning scene will be featured along with other live readings of Shakespeare by professionals, community members, and you! The event will also include a costume contest. Gather your troupe, choose your scene from Shakespeare’s plays, and register to deliver your lines on the Riverside Festival Stage at City Park in Iowa City.


This event is part of SHAKESPEARE AT IOWA (August 29 – December 30), a celebration hosted by the University of Iowa Libraries. SHAKESPEARE AT IOWA includes First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, which is a national traveling exhibition organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC to commemorate the 400th anniversary in 2016 of Shakespeare’s death. It is produced in association with the American Library Association and the Cincinnati Museum Center. First Folio! has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and by the support of Google.org, Vinton and Sigrid Cerf, the British Council, Stuart and Mimi Rose, and other generous donors.



A Trip to the Conservation Lab – YouTube

Colleen Theisen took a trip up to the Conservation Lab to meet with Kristen Hartman to find out about two “batch treatments” that she had been working on. Large sets of similar books needing a similar repair. Large and small, they fix them all!

Part two of this series features the most adorable set of tiny Shakespeare tomes that needed some TLC to make it possible to squint again at the Bard’s famous words. Stick around to the end for the big reveal to see the repairs finished and the ingenious box that conservation staff member Heather Bain made for this set and their adorably tiny spinning bookcase.

These videos and more can be found on our YouTube channel. Hit the subscribe button there to get all of the updates!



Just in case you missed the last video, here is Kristen taking on a much larger set of treatments on some amazing natural history books that survived the library fire in 1897!



Sunday! Shakespeare Family Festival – Book Arts, Crafts, Fencing, and Celebrating Shakespeare

shakespearean actor in fencing stanceSHAKESPEAREAN FAMILY FESTIVAL

Hands-on demonstrations of book arts, acting, fencing

18 September 1:00 – 4:00 pm

Main Library, North Plaza

Rain location: Just inside the Main Library’s north entrance

Free of charge, open to the public



All are welcome to attend this event filled with activities for all ages. Come celebrate the art of book making and other Shakespearean delights, featuring a lively cast of actors, artists, scholars, book makers, and fencers. Roll up your sleeves for book art fun with paper making, book binding, and more.In Shakespeare’s time, all books were made by hand.  But that didn’t mean book craftspeople were slow.  A team of 3 papermakers could make 2000 or more sheets in a day!  Individuals and families are encouraged to come join us, have a chance to try various aspects of bookmaking, and take home a piece of paper, a printed sheet or a bound small book that you make yourself!

Papermaking—Form your own sheet of paper from wet pulp, press it, and take it with you to dry at home. Handouts will be provided for more information about papermaking history and how to make it at home.

Printing—Print a small keepsake on a hand press similar to the presses that were used in Shakespeare’s time.  The printed impression will be a piece of Shakespeare’s writing, with a bit of background on the Bard.

Bookbinding—Bind a simple pamphlet structure, using xerox copied Shakespeare text, and a handmade paper cover. Requires basic sewing with a (dull!) darning needle.

Visitors are welcome to take part in one, two, or all three activities!

Hands Making Paper



Special Collections News 9/9/2016



space2University Archives partnered with the UI Department of Physics with creation of “Hawkeyes in Space,” an exhibit in the Old Capitol Museum that opened this week and will run until May 2017: https://clas.uiowa.edu/news/hawkeyes-space-exhibition-explores-past-present-and-future-ui-space-research




Autograph Book from Hancher’s Opening Season in 1972:

In honor of Hancher Auditorium’s ribbon cutting and grand opening, here is a live video from our Facebook page showing some signatures in the autograph book that each performer signed in the opening season in 1972.


New Acquisition:


We have an exciting new addition to Special Collections: Uncut pages from 1797!

This is an example of sheets of a book as they came off the printing press without ever being folded or cut. The way a compositor lays out the pages of the book can be difficult to visualize. This will become an important tool for our classroom for continuing to teach and demonstrate historic printing processes.




First Folio Events:

Shakespeare's Herbs and Flowers

Shakespeare’s Herbs and Flowers

Saturday, September 10th

9AM and 11AM

Iowa City Farmer’s Market






A view of the First Folio from Instagram:

First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, the exhibition visiting from the Folger Shakespeare Library continues through September 25th in the Main Library Gallery.



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Special Collections News 9/2/2016

Shakespeare’s First Folio on Display until September 25, 2016 in the Main Library Gallery.

See http://shakespeare.lib.uiowa.edu/ for more details about the exhibition and more than 50 related events.

Shakespeare at Iowa









First Folio News Coverage:

In Memory of Gene Wilder: His Papers in the News:

New Acquisition:

New Furniture in the Iowa Women’s Archives

Thanks to generous donors IWA has updated with new paint and furniture to prepare for the 25th anniversary celebrations next year.

IWA new furniture








See a live tour of the new furniture:


Instruction Update:

The Special Collections & University Archives’ Instruction Program policies ensure that we provide high quality instructional support to your classes. Be sure to look over these policies to understand how our workflow will impact the planning, preparation, and running of your sessions.

(Click on link) InstructionProgramPolicies


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Special Collections & Archives staff present at the Society of American Archivists Conference

Last week, several members of Special Collections attended the Society of American Archivists (SAA) in Atlanta, Georgia. Two of our staff made professional contributions having a poster and a presentation competitively selected.

Instruction Librarian Amy Chen exhibited her poster on “Twentieth Century Literary Collection Acquisition Patterns.” This poster is the result of her research on the marketplace for writers’ papers, begun when she completed her dissertation on the topic for her doctorate at Emory in English in 2013 and continued here at Iowa. Prior to SAA, she spoke about this research in a presentation for the Iowa Writers’ Workshop back in April 2016. She very kindly shared her poster here.

(Click to enlarge)




13667851_1211956318826198_4944404505386424117_oUniversity Archivist David McCartney spoke at the same SAA Conference as part of a panel called, “Archival Bonds: Love & Friendship in the Archives” about the emotional work that can be involved in documenting historic lives as an archivist. He related the emotions surrounding his efforts to document the former UI student’s life as an example.

You can view tweets from the session here: https://storify.com/libralthinking/saa16-sesson-406-archives-and