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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New Exhibition – Reconstructing ‘The American Reader’

The American Reader Title PageSpecial Collections & University Archives is pleased to announce our newest exhibition Reconstructing ‘The American Reader’ from English Department graduate student Miriam Janechek which highlights a new type of research now possible with access to searchable digitized copies of books online.  The American Reader is a textbook printed in 1808 which, like other readers, combines hundreds of excerpts from different types of published works but includes no citations.  By searching the massive numbers of books now searchable in the Google Books Project, in combination with the wealth of 18th century books in Special Collections, it becomes possible to trace the origins of the passages to find the original publications, collect them together and display them to reveal a snapshot of the types of works that made up The American Reader and more broadly that comprised education in 1808, just as the United States was abandoning European educational models and developing a sense of national identity through education. 

The exhibition can be viewed just outside Special Collections & University Archives on the third floor of the Main Library anytime the library is open and continues until January 3, 2013.

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The Glenn Voting Machine

by Shawn R. Conley –  student worker in Special Collections

Cover of The Glenn Voting MachineWith the election year in full swing and Election Day looming, most of us will be making our way to that legendary voting booth with the fancy curtains to cast our vote and take part in yet another one of our civic duties. Most of all, and assuredly most rewarding, is having the liberty to have taken part in a Presidential election that was established in our country nearly two-and-a-half centuries ago. Delusions of Americana aside, many of us are just glad to get that sought-after “I Voted” sticker one we’ve finished.

Why use Glenn Voting Machines?As millions of men and women flood the voting booths across the nation, the arduous task remains: how does one count these millions of votes? The task of an accurate and speedy vote count is something our forefathers have been tackling since our country was founded. During the 19th century, a flurry of new ideas and machines arose to combat this problem. One of these companies attempting to deliver “…a fair vote and an honest count” according to their brochure from over a century ago, was the Glenn Voting Machine Company of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

While sorting and cataloguing my way through a collection of papers and letters from E.J.C. Bealer, a very prominent businessman and stone quarry magnate from Cedar Rapids, I came across a large number of stock certificates from as far back as 1898 from long defunct companies like the Tykoon Mining Company and the American Gold Production Company. Tucked between these certificates was a little blue book with gold letters titled, “The Glenn Voting Machine.” Mr. Bealer had quite an investment in this company through the many stock certificates I found.

“Why use Glenn Voting Machines?” asks the third page of the brochure. During this time in American history, the entire logistical process of voting was changing directions. Through the evidence exhibited by this brochure, one can see how appealing casting a vote by machine would be. All one must do according to page nine is to “place the pointers on the names of the candidates of your choice — walk out.” Not only would the mechanical voting machine make voting much simpler, but it might even make voting fun or appealing which is something political scientists try to figure out to this day.         

Image of voting machineTaking a look at the illustrations of the machine, one can make out the presidential candidates of the 1904 election: Theodore Roosevelt and Alton B. Parker. The simplicity of the machine is hinted throughout the brochure, ensuring that every gentleman’s vote is precise. Sorry ladies, your time hasn’t arrived just yet…give it a few more years. Towards the end of the brochure are many newspaper articles and clippings, exhibiting how the Glenn Voting Machine promises “Fast Returns!” and “desirability” of a mechanical voting machine as compared to old-fashioned paper ballots.

So when you finally do make your way to the voting booth, pull those fancy curtains shut, and cast your vote for President of the United States, remember that it was through the inventions of companies like the Glenn Voting Machine Company of Cedar Rapids, Iowa that allow us to ever so conveniently cast our votes on LED screens and receive “Fast Returns!”

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Conflicting views of Lackington’s – Publisher of Frankenstein – 3 pf 3 from Peter Balestrieri

Third in our series on Frankenstein related holdings from Peter Balestrieri.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published in 1818 by the firm of Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones. The deal worked by Percy Shelley called for printing five hundred copies, a short run even by the standards of the day. What kind of firm was Lackington’s?

Temple of the Muses Exterior

Temple of the Muses Exterior (Wikipedia)

James Lackington was a bookseller and publisher who began a career in shoemaking but switched to bookselling to satisfy his bibliophilia and his desire to provide books to people of all economic backgrounds. This desire came out of a deeply religious nature combined with a firm belief that all lives are improved by the reading and study of books. The story is told that he once spent his last coins on a book of poetry rather than food because the former would “feed” himself and his wife longer than the latter. His famous bookstore, named “The Temple of the Muses,” was an immense building in London, so large that a coach drawn by four horses was driven round the counters at its opening. Its catalogue, in 1803, featured 800,000 titles. Lackington was an innovator, who rankled his competitors with his revolutionary ideas. He invented remaindering, buying up unsold books from other dealers and selling them cheaply. He also accepted cash only, without exceptions, published authors’ manuscripts, and bought whole libraries. While making him extremely successful, these practices placed him outside the norm of traditional publishers.

Temple of the Muses Interior

Temple of the Muses Interior (Wikipedia)

In reading biographies of Mary Shelley and books on Frankenstein, I’ve come across disparaging remarks aimed at Lackington’s.I believe these originate from accounts of the day by rivals who sought to harm Lackington’s reputation out of jealousy. Histories of English publishing by Feather and Mumby set the record straight and give Lackington his due as one of the most remarkable of booksellers and publishers.

 

James Lackington wrote two books of memoirs and both can be found in Special Collections:

Memoirs of the First Forty-five Years of the Life of James Lackington

Special Collections Springer Collection B .L141L

The Confessions of J. Lackington

Special Collections x-Collection CT788.L25 A3 1804

 

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Want to Make Historic Recipes?

handwritten recipe page from a very old book

Photo by Tom Jorgenson

Want to make historic recipes?  Or how about reading handwriting, converting measurements, recreating historic cooking implements, food photography, or writing and blogging?

300+ years of handwritten cookbooks with thousands of recipes from Chef Louis Szathmary’s culinary collection from Special Collections & University Archives are now online in DIY History, the newest transcription project from the University of Iowa Libraries.  Helpful people around the world are trying to puzzle out what the handwriting says.  But is that where it ends?  Unlike letters, diaries, or even menus, recipes are not done even what you can read what it says.  They are instructions just calling out to be tested to bring a slice of history back to life one piece of hardtack at a time.

Sound interesting?  Come to the first meeting and have a voice in determining what the group should be.

If  you can’t make the meeting but want to be in the loop, e-mail colleen-theisen @  uiowa dot edu to be added to the e-mail list.

Event poster

 

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

6:30-8PM

PS-Z, 120 N. Dubuque St.

(3 blocks north of PS1, on the lower level of the Wesley Center)

 

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Grand Army of the Republic in Iowa

G.A.R. Handkercheif with symbols

G.A.R. handkerchief from E. J. C. Bealer. Center image is the badge of the GAR with corps badges surrounding.

Today’s post comes from Jacque Roethler on Grand Army of the Republic finds in her recent processing work.

Special Collections recently acquired the papers of a law firm in Cedar Rapids, the Bealer/Grimm/Shuttleworth papers. In it were the expected files on cases, insurance, and property, but in a ledger containing E. J. C. Bealer’s 1927 expenses I came across this GAR handkerchief. Curious, I determined to find out more about the Grand Army of the Republic in Iowa.

The GAR was a fraternal order open to honorably discharged soldiers of the Union Army. The first post of the GAR was founded in Decatur Illinois in April 1866. By the end of October, an Iowa post had been organized, among the first in the nation. Though it started strong, the Iowa Department, following a national trend, lost membership in the early years, probably because the men were trying to secure a livelihood and starting (or continuing) families and certainly because they could not sort themselves out politically, especially in light of Reconstruction in the South. In January 1871 the Iowa Post was dissolved. In 1872 the national organization made an effort to re-start the Iowa program, and an Iowa Department was re-established. It remained small but the officers were determined that it not be abandoned again.

Women's Relief Corp book, 1897

Women’s Relief Corp book, 1897

The Grand Army of the Republic reached its peak in 1890, when it had a national membership of 490,000. Iowa reached its peak then, too, with 435 posts and a membership of 20,234. After this time the number of posts remained constant for years, but overall membership declined. The national GAR was finally dissolved in 1956, when its last member died.

Though at their inception the membership decided that they were not going to a political group, the GAR was one of the first advocacy groups in America. They advocated for voting rights for black veterans.  In Iowa, it was largely due to the influence of the GAR that the Soldier’s Home in Marshalltown was built after the legislature appropriated $100,000 in 1886 for the purpose.  In 1889 the legislature authorized the Soldier’s Relief Fund. In 1904, encouraged by the GAR, the legislature gave veterans preference in public employment, though by this time most of the veterans had aged out of the work force.

Program from the 56th Annual Encampment at the Iowa State Capitol

Program from the 56th Annual Encampment at the Iowa State Capitol

Monuments to the Civil War dead were also a priority for the Iowa GAR and they lobbied for state funding for monuments in Des Moines and Vicksburg.  The GAR got the General Assembly to finance a roster of every living veteran in the state of Iowa.  The GAR was so powerful that that Iowa government gave them a room in the state capitol to be used as a permanent headquarters, for which the state appropriated funds for maintenance. The Iowa GAR was instrumental in seeing that almost all of the schools in Iowa had a flag to raise every morning and the Woman’s Relief Corps (the women’s auxiliary to the GAR) had placed in every school in Iowa a pamphlet about the management and care of flags.

 The national meetings, which took place once a year, were called National Encampments. In 1922 the 56th National Encampment was held in Des Moines. Twenty thousand veterans and their allied organizations were in attendance.  The average age of attendees was around eighty. At this Encampment, Judge James W. Willet of Tama, Iowa, was elected unanimously as the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Elmer J.C. Bealer, Commander of the Iowa Department of the Grand Army of the Republic, 1918-1919

Elmer J.C. Bealer, Commander of the Iowa Department of the Grand Army of the Republic, 1918-1919

E.J.C. Bealer was elected to the Iowa Legislature in 1901 and served three terms, and he supported legislation of interest to veterans, including the Vicksburg Monument. He served as Commander of the Iowa Department of the Grand Army of the Republic from June 1918 to June 1919. He attended the National Encampment in Des Moines in 1922.  In the collection you can find reservations at the Hotel Savery, where he stayed during the Encampment. We have a campaign brochure for Willet, sent to Bealer in an envelope addressed to “Comrade E.J.C. Bealer, Past Department Commander GAR.”   And we have this wonderful GAR handkerchief seen above. The image in the center of the handkerchief is the badge of the GAR. The icons surrounding the central badge are the corps badges.

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“Iowa Now” Feature on 1812 Exhibition

 

The War of 1812 in Iowa, then and now

Old Capitol exhibit opens Oct. 11 with free reception, lecture

By:  Rebecca Pope | 2012.10.04 | 10:47 AM
 The University of Iowa Old Capitol Museum will mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 with a special exhibition of historical documents, maps and artifacts from various Iowa archaeological sites.

Conflict on the Iowa Frontier: Perspectives on the War of 1812 opens Thursday, Oct. 11, with a free public reception from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the museum. Guest lecturer Eugene Watkins will speak in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum from 6 to 6:45 p.m. and lead a discussion about the history of Fort Madison. Watkins is Fort Madison’s site manager for Old Fort Madison. He holds a doctorate of U.S. history from the University of Toledo.

A photograph of a book with a drawing of a man on the left page and words on the right page
Black Hawk’s autobiography. Photo courtesy of UI Pentacrest Museums, book from Special Collections
 

Artifacts featured in the exhibit include Black Hawk’s autobiography, giving insight into the war from the perspective of Native Americans, and an Orderly Book for infantry men of the period, in which general and regimental orders were recorded. These objects tell the story of the war’s Mississippi River campaign and how it affected the future of the state.

Also on Oct. 11, archaeologist Jodi Magness, distinguished professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will give the UI Department of Religious Studies Adler Lecture and the UI Pentacrest Museums Directors’ Lecture at 7:30 p.m. in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum.

In anticipation of National Archaeology Day, her topic is “Ossuaries and the Burial of Jesus and James.” The presentation is free and open to the public. Magness specializes in the archaeology of ancient Palestine in the Roman, Byzantine, and early Islamic periods.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. For more information on the UI Pentacrest Museums and Old Capitol Museum, visit www.uiowa.edu/oldcap/or call 319-335-0548. The UI Department of Religious Studies is part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Books and documents from Special Collections are featured in this exhibition, including the Black Hawk autobiography seen in the photo. Original article can be viewed here: http://now.uiowa.edu/2012/10/war-1812-iowa-then-and-now
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Mary and Percy Shelley Letter Mentions Frankenstein Rejections – 2 of 3 from Peter Balestrieri

Handwritten text saying, "Poor Mary’s book has come back with a refusal which has put me in rather ill spirits.”

Second in our series of three blog posts from Peter Balestrieri examining our holdings relating to Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus.

On August 16, 1817, Mary began writing a letter to Marianne Hunt, Leigh Hunt’s wife. The Hunt’s and the Shelley’s were close friends, their correspondence is extensive, and many of those letters are held here in the Brewer-Leigh Hunt Collection. This particular letter, written by both Mary and Percy Shelley, sheds light on their daily lives as her novel Frankenstein faced rejections before its eventual publication and fame.

In late summer, Mary Shelley was nineteen, pregnant, and trying to get Frankenstein, published. The manuscript had been rejected by her husband’s publisher, Charles Ollier, and by Lord Byron’s publisher, John Murray. Mary had spent the summer entertaining the Shelley’s many visitors, giving charity to the poor, and editing her and Shelley’s travel journals from their 1814 trip to Europe. She was also caring for her son, William, little “Willmouse.”

Mary’s letter to Marianne is filled with family news regarding their pregnancies, need for a nurse, and the sad news of the legal decision to send Shelley’s children by his first wife to be raised by a clergyman. Mary also writes that she is sending the Hunt’s some money; they were always in need of money. Mary signs off with good wishes and encouragement, believing that things will improve for Marianne.

One can imagine Percy Shelley entering the room at some point and asking, “To whom are you writing, my queen?” When informed of the letters’ recipient, he may have said, “Let me add a few lines when you have finished.” He does, and in these few lines we see a reference to Frankenstein and the trouble they are having with its publication. Percy Shelley writes, “Poor Mary’s book has come back with a refusal which has put me in rather ill spirits.” He is referring to Ollier’s rejection of the book and he goes on to ask if the Hunt’s know of any publishers that might be interested in it. By the end of the month, the novel is accepted by Lackington’s and Frankenstein is born.

The letter can be viewed online at the University Library’s Digital Library, http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/leighhunt/id/89/rec/5 and in person (MsL S54hu) at Special Collections and University Archives in the Main Library.

For more on Frankenstein visit the National Institutes of Health traveling exhibition, “Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature” that is on display at the second floor south entrance of University Capitol Centre through Nov. 2.  http://now.uiowa.edu/2012/10/genetics-frankenstein-future

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Advertising for “The Collegians,” by Carl Laemmle, Jr.

Fabric Banner for "The Collegians"

by Denise Anderson. 

Fall classes are now in session and the football Homecoming Centennial is upon us, so what better time to examine a felt pennant which advertises “The Collegians,” by Carl Laemmle, Jr. “The Collegians” was a series of 44 two-reel films, in which the same players reprised their characters through four years of a college life full of romance and football from 1926-1929. 

This pennant is from the Ted Rehder Papers.  Ted was a University of Iowa student in 1926 when “The Collegians” series was released and likely screened in Iowa City.  He went on to work serving U of I collegians for 47 years in dormitories and in dining service until his retirement in 1976.  We are grateful to Ted for preserving this piece of ephemera.

“The Collegians” was part of Carl Laemmle Junior’s first series, his silent comedy “Junior Jewels,”  produced between 1926 and 1929 for Universal, the film studio founded by his father in 1912.  In April 1929, Carl junior was placed in charge of all film production at Universal.  Among other genres, he produced horror movies such as “Frankenstein” (1931), “Dracula” (1931), “The Mummy” (1932), “The Invisible Man” (1933) and “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935).  Production of these films broke Universal after seven years under his direction, due to the Great Depression and the amount of money he insisted on spending in order to deliver the entertainment audiences desired. 

 Check out this and other pieces of ephemeral history from campus life in Special Collections and the University Archives.

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Monumental Ideas in Miniature Books II

“Monumental Ideas in Miniature Book Making” is a traveling exhibition of more than 100 artists’ miniature books from eight countries curated by Hui-Chu Ying, Professor of The Myers School of Art, at the University of Akron. These small treasures by nationally and internationally recognized book artists explore epic tales, poetry, and storytelling using diverse book and printmaking techniques.  Emily Martin and Jill Kambs from the University of Iowa Center for the Book have works featured in this exhibition.  This visually stunning and dramatically eclectic collection demonstrates in stunning miniature the breadth and variety of contemporary artist’s books. 

The books will be exhibited outside Special Collections and University Archives on the third floor of the Main Library for just four more weeks until October 22nd, 2012.

For exquisite photographic views of each of the works, visit the MIMB2 Flickr page:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mimborg/

 

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Frankenstein’s Cousin, The Vampyre – 1 of 3 from Peter Balestrieri

First of a series of three blog posts by Peter Balestrieri highlighting our collections relating to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

John Polidori by F.G. Gainsford

John Polidori by F.G. Gainsford

 “It was a dark and stormy night” in June, 1816 that brought together some of Romantic literature’s shining lights to read ghost stories in the Villa Diodati near Geneva, Switzerland.  Diodati had once hosted Milton and was now occupied by Lord Byron and his personal physician, John William Polidori. In attendance with them, were Percy Bysshe Shelley, his wife Mary, and her half-sister, Claire Clairmont. They shared a roaring fire and read to each other from a collection of chilling German folk tales. Byron suggested they each compose a ghost story and in the days and weeks that followed, they all began writing. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein came from this night of inspiration, as did small pieces by Byron and Percy Shelley. Claire Clairmont may have written a story but there is no record of it other than a mention in one of Mary’s letters. The only other story of real note to be produced came from John Polidori. His Vampyre was the first vampire story in English and preceded Bram Stoker’s Dracula by three quarters of a century. It laid the foundation for nearly every work of vampire fiction since, including those by Anne Rice (The Vampire Chronicles) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight). But who was Polidori and how did he come to be in Switzerland that cold, dark summer of 1816?

John William Polidori was born on December 7, 1795 in London, the son of an Italian scholar and an English governess. His sister Francesca married Gabriele Rossetti and Polidori became uncle to their illustrious children, Dante Gabriele Rossetti and Christina Rossetti. Educated at the University of Edinburgh, Polidori graduated a doctor of medicine in 1815, only nineteen years old. He wrote his thesis on sleepwalking and had aspirations to literature and fame. In 1816, he heard that Byron was planning a trip to the Continent and arranged to accompany him as his personal physician. The relationship between Byron and Polidori was uneasy at times and there are accounts of Polidori being mocked by Byron and later, his guests. They gave him the nickname, “Poor Polidori,” and let him know that he was not held in high esteem. On his part, Polidori was sometimes contentious or arrogant, trying hard to stand on equal footing with his talented and famous companions. After the night of ghost stories, he began work on one of his own but bogged down. He took up the suggestion of a plot by Byron and produced The Vampyre, an innovation in vampire fiction that substituted a handsome, aristocratic vampire for the ugly, misshapen monster that populated earlier fiction and folktales, the Nosferatu. Polidori’s vampire, modeled on Byron, is a handsome, dapper aristocrat who is powerfully attractive to women, his primary victims. He moves easily in the highest society and gives no indication of his true identity. Critics believe that Polidori and Byron’s relationship had deteriorated badly and there is much in The Vampyre that can be read as the doctor’s resentment toward his employer. Shortly after the novella was finished, Byron dismissed Polidori from his service.

Polidori travelled through Italy, returned to England, and resumed medical practice. Under mysterious circumstances and without his permission, The Vampyre was published in April of 1819 by the New Monthly Magazine and attributed to Byron. Byron and Polidori both sought to clear up the question of authorship but the work continued for a time to be attributed to Byron, a fact appreciated by the publisher who was profiting by the false connection. Polidori went on to write a long poem, The Fall of the Angels, but never became the author he hoped to be. In 1821, after years of increasing depression and gambling debts, he took his own life with prussic acid. He was twenty-five years old.

Special Collections has a first edition of The Vampyre, published in London, 1819, by Sherwood, Neely, and Jones. It is one of several works likely inspired by that evening at Villa Diodati available for viewing in the Reading Room.

 

Reading List:

The Vampyre, John Polidori, 1819.  x-Collection 828 .P766v

A Fragment of a Ghost Story,” Percy Bysshe Shelley, from LinkRelics of Shelley. Ed. by Richard Garnett, 1862.  Leigh Hunt Collection 828 .S545Xg

“Journal at Geneva: Ghost Stories,” Percy Bysshe Shelley, from Essays, Letters from Abroad, Translations and Fragments,  Ed. by Mrs. Shelley, 1840. Leigh Hunt Collection 828 .S545X3

Fragment of a Novel,” in LinkMazeppa : A Poem, Lord Byron, 1819. x-Collection PR4372 .M3 1819.