About Author: Colleen Theisen

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http://www.twitter.com/libralthinking
Description
Outreach and Instruction Librarian. Lover of coffee, as well as 19th century photography, painting, tourism and print.

Posts by Colleen Theisen

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One Week Only! Introduction to Book History Class Exhibition

The Introduction to Book History course taught by Gregory Prickman, Head of Special Collections & University Archives, curated this exhibition as a group to showcase their research. This week only it will remain on display outside Special Collections & University Archives’ reading room on the 3rd floor of the Main Libary.  Stop by to see a remarkable selection of books, highlighting interesting research from students from a range of departments including the Center for the Book, the School of Library and Information Science, Art, English and more.

 

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Earliest Known Simon Estes Recording Restored

Dec1997_IowaAlumniQuarterly_0030

Simon Estes and the Old Gold Singers – Courtesy UI Alumni Association

 

This story starts in 1959 when a UI undergraduate student from Centerville, IA, named Simon Estes auditioned for, and joined, the Old Gold Singers, a university chorus made up of non-music majors. The Old Gold Singers was a new organization, formed just two years before. It quickly established itself as a highly-talented goodwill ambassador of the University, thanks in no small part to Simon Estes’ rich baritone voice.

 

 The University Archives had no recordings of the singers from those early seasons until only recently. In 2010, UI alumnus James Crook, a professor emeritus of journalism at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, donated to the archives a set of phonograph disks featuring the troupe. Mr. Crook was a founding member of the Old Gold Singers and participated in its first three seasons. Mr. Estes, a classmate of Crook’s, went on to an acclaimed operatic and solo vocal career, after completing his UI degree and studies at the Julliard School. He has performed with the New York Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and throughout Europe in a career spanning over 50 years.

 

CDAmong the phonograph records that Mr. Crook donated is one featuring Mr. Estes as a soloist during his first season with the Old Gold Singers, while a sophomore. The rare recording was made in a Cedar Rapids recording studio in 1959 or 1960, and playing it on a turntable more than 50 years later yielded a lot of scratches and pops with the music. Still, it was a valuable addition to the archives, believed to be the earliest-known recording of a young singer at the dawn of a remarkable and distinguished career.

 

 

The UI Libraries’ Preservation Department cleaned the record thoroughly and shipped it to the Media Preserve, a Pittsburgh firm specializing in recovery of audiovisual recordings. There, staff produced a digitally-reformatted version of the recording, one that sounds as good as new. The University Archives now has a digital copy of this rare recording, along with the original phonograph disk.

 

EstesBut the story doesn’t end there. On Sunday, March 17, Mr. Estes performed in Osage, Iowa, at a special dedication program recognizing that community’s new Krapek Family Fine Arts Center. The program was also part of his Roots and Wings tour in which he hopes to eventually perform in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. High school choruses from Osage and nearby Riceville and St. Ansgar also performed with Mr. Estes that afternoon.

 

Following the performance, UI Archivist David McCartney, representing the UI Libraries, presented Mr. Estes with a CD copy of the recording, housed in a case made for the occasion by staff in the Conservation Lab. The audience of over 600 also heard a one-minute excerpt, featuring a 21-year-old Mr. Estes singing a selection from “Porgy and Bess,” a number he coincidentally sang earlier in the afternoon as part of the program.

 

 The UI Libraries’ Department of Special Collections and University Archives is pleased to honor Mr. Estes and to preserve an early and important part of his outstanding career.

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Iowa City Meteor in 1875

Last night a meteorite slammed into the Russian countryside, as captured in many videos and photographs. 138 years ago in 1875, nearly to the day, a very similar event occurred in Iowa, when a meteorite disintegrated almost directly above Iowa City. It was documented by C.W. Irish, a local surveyor and astronomer. These images are from a document he published, An Account of the Detonating Meteor of February 12, 1875, printed by the Daily Press Job Printing Office on Dubuque St. in Iowa City. He wrote, “the length of the train was variously estimated…from seven to twelve miles, as seen from Iowa City. From three to five minutes after the meteor had flashed out of sight, observers near to the south end of its path heard an intensely loud and crashing explosion, that seemed to come from the point in the sky where they first saw it.”

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Round the World with Nellie Bly

Cover of Round the World with Nellie Bly

 By Denise Anderson

 

Round the World with Nellie Bly is a Victorian-era board game housed in Special Collections & University Archives.  McLoughlin Bros., New York, published the game in 1890 in celebration of her circumnavigation of the globe in record time, made from November 14, 1889 to January 25, 1890, exactly 123 years ago today.

Nellie Bly was the pseudonym assumed by Elizabeth Cochrane (1864-1922), a reporter for The New York World newspaper.  Bly proposed the journalistic stunt to Joseph Pulitzer, owner of The World, because she preferred to report on this journey rather than be relegated to write the “ladies” page of domestic topics.  She was inspired to propose the journey after reading Jules Verne’s 1873 novel, Around the World in Eighty Days, and set out to beat the record of the fictional character, Phileas Fogg.

The public invested in her success by submitting their guesses of her final time in a contest held by Pulitzer, as well as through purchasing The World to read the progress reports she had telegraphed to the news office.

 

 We can follow Bly’s journey on the board game as she steamed from New York harbor (some sources cite New Jersey) to England and on to Amiens, France, where she was personally encouraged by Jules Verne.  From there she travelled by train to Italy.  Next, she steamed through the Suez Canal to Pakistan and Ceylon, then to Hong Kong and Japan, before sailing to San Francisco.  The board depicts the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway engine and single car Pulitzer hired to whisk her from San Francisco to Chicago in the record time of 69 hours.  Her slower modes of transportation included rickshaw and camel.  The gamers of 1890 would spin the dial and hope to avoid certain squares on the board which saddled them with delays similar to those Bly encountered, such as waiting for a ship to depart.

Finally, 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds after she embarked on her strenuous journey, Bly was mobbed in New York by a crush of revelers on January 25, 1890.  Perhaps the game was published prior to Bly’s arrival in New York, because day 72 has her situated in Chicago.  The person with the winning entry received a trip to Europe.  Nellie received her place in history – for this feat as well as other impressive accomplishments.

Game Board Image

 

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New Artist’s Books from UI Center for the Book Faculty

OVideo of Romeo and Juliet movingur two newest book arts acquisitions both come from instructors from the University of Iowa Center for the Book.

Romeo and Juliet (Naughty Dog Press) is a new book from Emily Martin, who teaches bookbinding and book arts classes here at the Center for the Book. Romeo and Juliet includes one line of dialogue to represent the story being told in each of the five acts, emphasizing the timelessness of the play through repetition of the chorus, and insertion of modern equivalents for Verona.  This carousel book uses a format that Emily Martin devised to allow for scenes and separate text panels. The spine tabbing, also of her devising, functions both to hold the book together and to balance the thickness at the fore-edge. The text lines were letterpress printed onto Mohawk Superfine 100 lb Text paper. The images were made with an ink transfer monoprinting technique. The covers are printed on a handmade flax, abaca and linen paper from papermaker Mary Hark. Edition of 9 with one artist’s proof.  (Adapted from the artist’s colophon).

Small parchment book with leater girdle book bindingNest of Patience is a new acquisition from Kristin Alana Baum (Blue Oak Bindery) and Cheryl Jacobsen, calligraphy instructor at the Center for the Book. A collaboration based on a medieval girdle book, Nest of Patience is a contemporary Book of Hours contemplating the concept of patience by way of words, poetry, fortunes, and nature. The book begins with a spiritual calendar of days and proceeds with eight sections, each headed with a totem animal. Full vellum text block includes hand-stitched indigo-dyed slunk panels, hand-lettered texts, illuminations, and sewn-in found objects relating to patience. Wooden board binding, sewn on hemp cords and laced into beech boards.

Nest of Patience is currently on the New Acquisitions shelf in the Reading Room and Romeo and Juliet will be joining the shelf just after Christmas.  Stop by to enjoy these two new works from U of I faculty!

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An Artistic Test from Norman Meier

By Denise Anderson

During this week of final exams, perhaps a more enjoyable test to engage in might be one that measures your artistic ability?  Professor Norman C. Meier, of the UI Department of Psychology, developed the Meier Art Tests, which evolved from his Ph.D. dissertation at Iowa in 1926, “The Use of Aesthetic Judgment in the Measurement of Art Talent.”

Meier became well known for the tests he designed for assessing artistic aptitude. These were devised, in part, through his study of 100 artists from eight countries. His areas of research were psychology of art, and social and political behavior. Meier’s research in the latter field resulted in methods of measuring audience response to theatre and broadcast programs. He also studied mob behavior and crowd control.  George Gallup was a student of Dr. Meier, who later developed a successful public polling organization, and his papers also recently came to the University of Iowa.

 An example question “Meier Art Tests: I. Art Judgment ” (1940) is presented below.  Which seems like the better image to you?

 

 

The University of Iowa was a primary contributor to the development of aptitude testing in the early 20th century. The Iowa Testing Programs led to Meier and Gallup’s work as well as the widely used American College Testing Program (ACT). You can read more about this time in The Iowa Testing Programs: The First Fifty Years, by Julia J. Peterson, which describes the birth of a testing program within the University of Iowa College of Education in 1928. Norman Meier’s Papers are part of Special Collections & University Archives (RG 99.0163) and you can view the Collection Guide here: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/archives/guides/RG99.0163.html.  George Gallup’s Papers are currently being processed so watch for updates soon.

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New Acquisition to the University Archives – George Ludwig Papers

Portrait of George LudwigWe depend on weather satellite images daily for our forecasts and travel plans. Without the groundwork laid by the National Earth Satellite Service beginning in 1972, though, these images would not be possible today. A distinguished UI alumnus, George H. Ludwig (BA ’56, MS -59, Ph.D. ’60) was a founding director of NESS and led its operations throughout the 1970s. It is part of Mr. Ludwig’s long and significant career in physics and environmental research, now documented in his papers recently donated to the University Archives.

Mr. Ludwig, a native of rural Johnson County, Iowa, was a graduate student under James Van Allen during the pioneering Explorer space exploration missions in the late 1950s. He was the principal developer of the cosmic ray and radiation belt instruments for the successfully launched Explorers I, III, IV, and VII. He was also a research engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California for a five month period following the 1957 launch of Sputnik I by the Soviet Union.

His papers chronicle his research in physics as a doctoral candidate at UI as well as the many projects he supervised or consulted while with NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other organizations throughout his 40-plus year career. The guide to his papers is at http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/archives/guides/RG99.0004.html; the guide does not yet account for the most recent materials received by the Archives.

George Ludwig’s contributions to space exploration and environmental research are invaluable, and the University Archives is honored to document his achievements.

 

You can see a remarkable image of George Ludwig with his Cosmic Ray detector on NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab web site:  http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/details.php?id=5873#3

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Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol on Display in Special Collections

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was an instant publishing success, and it remains a beloved piece of literature today, celebrated during the Christmas season around the world.  The first edition, printed in 1843, includes four hand-colored steel engravings by John Leech.  Our copy of this work comes from the collection of James Wallace, a collector of children’s books with a fine eye for condition and rarity.  Several of the high points in children’s literature from our collections were obtained by Wallace. 

Thoughout the month of December we will be consecutively displaying each of the four hand-colored illustrations.  Stop by Special Collections on the third floor of the Main Library where it will be on display in the case just inside the doors.

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Van Allen Explorer I Data Tapes: Preservation and Digitization

Image of James Van Allen with data tapes

The UI Libraries has been awarded $200,000 from the Carver Trust to digitize the data tapes from the Explorer I satellite mission that led to the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts. These tapes were recovered from the basement of Maclean Hall through the outstanding efforts of our Preservation Dept. in 2010-2011. During that time, tapes containing the original data from Explorer I, III, IV, and a few subsequent satellites, were cleaned and transferred to the Van Allen collection here in the University Archives. We will be using the funds from the Carver Trust to digitize the data from the Explorer I tapes and make it freely accessible online in its original raw format, to allow researchers or any interested parties to download the full data set. This resource will be complemented by an immersive online site containing material from the Van Allen archive that provides historical context and interpretation for the interested general public. This material includes scans of memos, planning documents, diagrams, correspondence, and diary entries, along with photographs, video, and audio items. The site will tell the story of James Van Allen’s work and the Explorer I mission in an interactive manner, and will also provide curriculum that will harness these unique historical and scientific resources to engage a new generation of students with the possibilities of scientific discovery.
 

For more information on NASA’s recent announcements relating to renaming efforts honoring James Van Allen see the November 12th article in “Iowa Now”  and the announcement from NASA.

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Historic Foodies, Talk of Iowa, and Marlborough Pudding/Pie

Thank you to all who attended last week’s first meeting of the Historic Foodies!  For those of you who missed the meeting, Kathrine’s Moermond from the Old Capitol Museum told tales of tracking down the variations of Marlborough Pudding.  I’ve included her account here and hear her tell some of the tale on this week’s episode of Talk of Iowa 

Marlborough Pudding or Pie

I happened across the recipe as I was looking through Alice Electa Pickard’s recipe book that dates back to 1868 (page 49).  I love to look for new dessert recipes and this one intrigued me because of its unusual name and simple ingredients.  Sure enough, the pie I found to be a traditional Thanksgiving dessert and its praise was beaming on the Old Village Sturbridge Village website where if you’re looking for traditional New England Turkey Day recipes, this would be place to find them.  But, I was intrigued.  Marlborough Pie is very English, calling for nutmeg, lemon, and apple.   And, were some of the Pilgrims yearning for the mother land when preparing and serving this pie?  The recipe listed on the website called for a slightly different preparation and a few different ingredients.  So, I just had to make both. 

Handwritten recipe

 

Marlborough Pie, Alice Electa Pickard, 1868

My first attempt at making Alice’s recipe was exuberant and exciting and I think I took things a little too fast.  I had consulted another recipe online though that recommended grating the apples directly into the batter as to prevent browning, so that’s what I did.  I also had the hunch to melt the butter first before blending.  I prepared the all butter crust first though with a recipe from Sarah Josepha Hale’s book, Early American Cookery, 1841.  I then prepped the ingredients, using a cheap chardonnay for the wine and large brown organic eggs.  Since she said “spice to taste”, I took the liberty of using freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger as well.   I then grated the apple into the mix, stirred, and then placed it in the “undercrust” and then into the oven.  Since she does not reference a temperature, I went for a reliable 350 Fahrenheit and checked it at 35 minutes. And, it turned out just right.  Or, so I thought.  Soon after cutting into it I realized the egg had separated from the apple and there were two distinct layers.  The taste was great, but I thought that this might not be the end goal. 

First Attempt - image of pie 

1st attempt at Alice’s recipe

The following evening I attempted to make Alice’s version again and the Old Sturbridge Village version.   The Old Sturbridge Village version is a modern adaptation of Amelia Simmons’ version from 1796 and includes stewed apples, lemon, cream, sherry, and two teaspoons of grated nutmeg.  Spicy!  In hopes to save time, I stewed the apples for the new recipe first and prepared the filling for Alice’s recipe.  I then made the crusts for each and then put the new recipe together.  I baked the new one first and Alice’s second.  In my timely preparation for both pies, I did not realize that this actually was the key to Alice’s recipe, let the filling do some blending in the bowl before you bake it. 

second attempt - image of two pies 

Old Sturbridge Village pie (left) and Alice’s pie (right).

As I sliced into the second attempt at Alice’s pie I let out a sigh of relief, it wasn’t in two layers!  I realized then that all that time it sat waiting to place in the oven probably helped to make the ingredients blend happily with one another.  Then, I cut open the second and I noticed the texture was much different, almost more of a cooked applesauce custard.  In the Old Sturbridge Village recipe I had only used one teaspoon of grated nutmeg.  However, it was still very alive with nutmeg, and with sherry.  Both turned out to be very tasty, but I have to give my props to Alice’s recipe.  It didn’t call for lemon, probably too expensive at the time to include, and it was very basic with great results.  The texture of the pie hints to apple, but along with the eggs and butter, comes together to make a lovely and delicate dish. 

I like Alice’s recipe so much that I’m sharing it with boyfriend’s family for their Thanksgiving!

 

Next meeting: Tuesday, December 11 at 6PM. Our theme for next month is holiday recipes and cookies so find a recipe from DIY History or the Szathmary printed cookbooks in Special Collections and bring a story of your success or failure, and photos of your dish as well as a sample to share! We’ll start the meeting with hands-on time to explore the handwritten manuscripts from the Szathmary Culinary Collection and tours of the collection.