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Need Stress Relief? Color Our Collections

Last week the Internet was filled with coloring pages from Special Collections and archives around the country.

Here are our contributions. Print them out, color them, and tag us on social media (Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook).

Or try the hashtag #colorourcollections on your favorite site to see the endless options from other institutions around the country.

Maximillian coloring image Jeremiah coloring imageCanticum Coloring image Durer image of dragons


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Best Wishes to Our Graduating Student Workers

By Lindsay Moen, Department Liaison

It has only been a few months into my new position as Department Liaison, and one of my major job duties is to supervise the student employees. I did not anticipate that the hardest part of this new job would be watching wonderful students graduate and leave the department.

This Fall 2015 semester, two outstanding students graduated: Zoë Webb and Mallory Price. Both students will be sorely missed, and I think I can speak for the entire department when I say, they will be hard to replace!

students reading cards

Zoë and Mallory reading graduation cards from the Special Collections staff.


Zoë Webb graduated this semester from the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History with a degree in Art, and finalized her undergraduate career with a BFA show titled “Don’t Stray From the Path”. Zoë’s show featured a room not only filled with her original artwork, including some impressive metal works, but it also included artistically placed trees and leaves to give the viewer the sense of walking through an ethereal forest inhabited by faeries.

Zoë began her Special Collections journey in January 2012, where she has completed a wide variety of projects in the department. She’s made spine labels, processed books, including hundreds of science-fiction paperbacks, and helped with some major shifting projects in her many years here. I will definitely miss her shared love of fandom, expert artistic skills, and knack for finding amazing things on accident.

Mallory began working in the Special Collections department in May 2014, and during her time here has been our primary front desk student. Along with assisting patrons with numerous questions, ranging from helping them to use the scanner, to detailed research questions, Mallory has proved herself to be a huge asset in all things reference! I will miss her expertise in helping others, her positive attitude, and friendly smile!Mallory Price graduated this semester from the University of Iowa School of Music with a Bachelor’s degree in Music, with a focus on Music Therapy. An outstanding violin player, Mallory finalized her undergraduate career with a Senior Recital, playing music from Beethoven, Fritz Kreisler, and Dvořák.

On behalf of the entire Special Collections and University Archives Department, we wish Zoë and Mallory the best of luck in the future!



Henry A. Wallace, Advocate for Peace and Unity of the Americas

By Jacque Roethler, Manuscripts Processing Coordinator

Black and White Image of Henry WallaceOn the 50th anniversary of his death, we remember Henry Agard Wallace, the 33rd Vice-President of the United States, who was a man well ahead of his times. An idealist who experimented to the point of dilettantism, these avocations destroyed his political career, but he would not back down from them. An example of this is his quest for religious fulfillment, which led him to Native American spiritualism, Theosophy, and an odd spiritualism espoused by Nicholas Roerich. This last arguably cost him the Vice-Presidency. Another example is his early stand on racial integration, for which he had rotten tomatoes and eggs thrown on him on a tour of the south during his run for President in 1948. He would also, during this campaign tour, not stay at any hotel which would not accommodate blacks. He proposed making ethanol in the 1930s. He openly criticized the House Committee on Un-American Activities. And he was an advocate for peace. He thought we should share our atomic secrets with the Soviet Union. Since he narrowly missed being nominated for Vice-President in 1944 and succeeding to the Presidency eighty-two days later, who knows what might have happened? Maybe we could have side-stepped the Cold War internationally and the Red Scare at home. Or maybe we would be a Soviet Republic now.

Wallace also spoke Spanish and wanted a closer relationship between the Americas. While he was Vice-President, he travelled to Latin America and endeared himself to audiences by speaking to them in their native tongue.

This combination of peace promoter and advocate for Latin American ties comes together in an extraordinary document held by the Special Collections Department at the University of Iowa.  This is a letter signed by many luminaries in the Latin American World, including Pablo Neruda and Diego Rivera.

Apparently there was a conference for peace in Mexico City September 5-10, 1949, Congresso Continental Americano por la Paz, to which Wallace was invited. This would have been in the wake of the loss of his presidential run in the 1948 election. Unfortunately, this date coincided with a meeting of the Progressive Party, which was honoring Wallace, so he could not attend the peace conference in Mexico. He conveys only regrets and a statement about world peace in a cablegram sent on September 7. Characteristically, he does not tell them that he is being honored on the third anniversary of his speech at Madison Square Garden, “The Way to Peace.” (CT: We have a copy of this speech and the cablegram sending his regrets.) A search of the internet uncovered two items. One is an image from the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers, Oregon State University Libraries, which looks like the cover of a book of bylaws for the congress.  The other item is a linocut poster announcing the conference.

A rough translation of the letters is as follows:

LetterWe are told that the main reason you could not come to our Congress for peace in Mexico is that you are to attend on the 12th of September, a ceremony in which the Progressive Party of the United States in celebrating what you have accomplished in the last three years, which continue today with their best efforts.

We deeply regret your absence because your voice is among those of the greatest fighters for peace in this time. But the message that you send us comforts and encourages us to continue the struggles that this conference has started. Along with it we have other great voices of America with us. Supporters of peace multiply every day and will not rest until every person on the continent is a being determined not to go to any war or to support imperialist groups.

We want this message to reach your hands on the very day that the Progressive Party will express to you their affection. Our membership is strong and sincere. We have always believed that you belong to the great lineage of Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt. Believe us that for us it is a very great feeling to be accompanied in our career for peace and to life by a man of moral and spiritual characters.

Receive, Mr. Wallace, the sincere greeting of your Latin American friends.

Anyone with more knowledge of this conference is encouraged to be in touch.

Jacque Roethler



The Henry A. Wallace Papers are housed in Special Collections, including digitized collections.   Learn more here.

Henry A. Wallace Papers Finding Aid


Jillian Sparks’ Report from the SHARP Conference

What follows is one final blog post from our former Olson Graduate Assistant, Jillian Sparks, who attended the SHARP conference July 7-10, 2015 to present a poster related to her cataloging work here in Special Collections.


The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP) is an international organization dedicated to book history and print culture. SHARP describes their research focus as, “the composition, mediation, reception, survival, and transformation of written communication in material forms from marks on stone to new media. Perspectives range from the individual reader to the transnational communication network” (sharpweb.org). There are over a 1,000 members from more than 40 countries who provide a truly global perspective of book history. Due to its large international community, the conference location rotates between the Western and Eastern hemispheres each year—typically North America and Europe.

I first learned about SHARP while attending the Digital Humanities Summer Institute in 2012. Adrian van der Weel, the keynote speaker and my course instructor, highly encouraged joining SHARP if we were interested in book history. I joined the same afternoon and after three summers, I was finally able to attend the annual conference this summer in Longueil/Montreal as a master’s student poster presenter. I presented my final poster from the University of Iowa’s School of Library and Information Science program titled “Regenerating the Local Catalog: An Approach for Augmenting Bibliographic Information for Early Printed Texts.” The theme this year was “The Generation and Regeneration of Books” and was hosted by the Groupe de recherches et d’études sur le livre au Québec, the University of Sherbrooke, McGill University and the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. The conference was truly a bilingual event with presentations in both French and English. Over 350 people traveled to Québec to participate.

Scholars from all disciplines and librarians alike attend SHARP, and the conference program reflects this diversity. I attended sessions on special collections instruction, cataloging, and pivotal collectors. “Old Books and New Tricks: Regenerating the Library Visit” has been the most helpful session on special collections instruction out of all the conferences I have attended. Gale Burrow from Claremont College presented on how to turn a one-time visit into a two part lab series that focuses on primary research in the first lab and the secondary sources in the second lab. Karla Nielsen demonstrated how Book Traces, a crowd-sourced web project aimed at identifying unique copies of 19th- and early 20th-century books on circulating library shelves, was successfully carried out at Columbia University. CLIR postdoctoral fellow at Southwestern University, Charlotte Nunes, discussed the emotional connection her students experienced while transcribing Latino oral histories and the importance of capturing the students’ oral histories on their project work. The last presenter, Amanda Watson from Yale, showed how she has collaborated with special collections to integrate technology into the class visit. All four presenters illustrated creative methods of teaching that I look forward to incorporating into my professional career.

Jillian Sparks and her poster

Jillian Sparks and her poster

Because of my interest in copy specific cataloging and in relation to my own work on cataloging 16th-century books at the University of Iowa, the panels on “Pivotal Collectors” and “Early modern Women and the Book (II): case Studies in Ownership, Circulation, and Collecting” served as interesting comparisons. In the first panel, presenters discussed the familiar issues of how to catalog and organize famous personages’ personal collections. In the second panel, speakers addressed the problem of how to find someone’s books after the collection has been separated and sold. In her presentation “Finding Frances Wolfreston in Online Public Access Catalogues: How Electronic Records Can Lead Us to Early Modern Women Readers,” Sarah Lindenbaum demonstrated how Frances Wolfreston’s unique signature as noted in various catalog records enabled her to trace the dispersion of her books. The discussion surrounded the general value of provenance notes and included mention of Provenance Online Project also known as POP.

Other presentations on embroidered bindings (Amanda Pullan) and the history of dog-earing books (Ian Gadd) were equally exciting and all of the SHARP panels appealed to my love of book history. The most fulfilling aspect of the conference was SHARP’s dedication to encouraging emerging scholars. There was a specific dinner for master’s and PhD candidate presenters. The poster session and PhD candidate papers did not conflict with other sessions, thus allowing all conference attendees to engage with their research. I personally benefited from the feedback and encouragement I received during the poster session. Most importantly, I left SHARP feeling welcome and excited to be a member of the organization and enthused about book history as a discipline.

Relevant links:

Sparks, Jillian A. Regenerating the Local Catalog: An Approach for Augmenting Bibliographic Information for Early Printed Texts http://ir.uiowa.edu/slis_student_pubs/1

Accompanying digital exhibit: http://sparks.omeka.net

SHARP’s website: http://www.sharpweb.org

SHARP 2015 conference site: http://sharp2015.ca/en/home/

Book Traces: http://www.booktraces.org/

Provenance Online Project (POP): https://provenanceonlineproject.wordpress.com/


The Individuals in History

I cannot begin to tell you how I got started working with the Sterns Family Papers.  But I can tell you that before opening those three boxes, I had a below-average interest in the civil war.  Having gone through the American public school system, I learned about the civil war at least once every school year until about the 11th grade.  It was as if each teacher was afraid that somehow, that lesson had been skipped the previous year.  While there was certainly some more information added to the lesson each year (like that dark time when we learned it was really all about the economy), the lessons surrounding the civil war largely stayed the same.  North vs. South, freedom vs. slavery, brother vs. brother.

Enter, Thomas Rescum Sterns: a real, live, Civil War soldier who fought for the Union.  Sure, he’s no Abraham Lincoln, but he was a citizen of the United States with a farm, a family, and a job, teaching the third grade in Wisconsin.  Thomas wrote letters to his wife, Lavinia Sterns, during his time as a soldier, and these are being preserved in our civil war letter collection.  When I stumbled across these letters, I became absorbed by them.  I couldn’t stop reading.  Here were letters written by someone who was experiencing the events, firsthand, that I had only read about in textbooks.  It was like watching a movie, or reading a novel about the civil war, except it was real, interesting, heart wrenching, and hilarious.

“I take the pleasure of writing a few lines to you…” is how Thomas Rescum Sterns started his lengthy series of correspondence to his wife.  Thomas wrote about the sickness he observed, and later experienced, in the camp at which he was stationed.  He wrote about the progress of the war, and how, due to his location, Lavinia probably knew more about it than he did.  But most importantly, he wrote about hardtack: that stale bit of cracker they were all subsisting on, and Thomas took it in stride, but didn’t hesitate to crack a few jokes about the civil war staple.

rescum blog“Oh! yes a few words about our fare. As I told you in my other letter our bread is principally crackers. A day or two ago Dolph had been to dinner eating crackers of course. We found one that was marked 1801 and another the date being still earlier. It being made in Nazareth B.C. 36. You may judge whether they are old and hard or not. You need not be afraid of my getting killed by the enemy’s bullets for this reason. Just before I go into battle, if such may be the case, I shall fill myself as full as possible with these crackers which of course are hard and then I shall oil my belly and of course if the bullets strike me then glance as though they had struck an ironclad gunboat” (Nov. 12, 1862).


So why should we care what Thomas Rescum Sterns thinks?  Sure, his thoughts on hardtack may not be the most historically significant, but those few lines prove that Thomas Rescum Sterns wasn’t just another statistic.  He was a real person, with real thoughts, and a very real sense of humor.

And I suppose that’s how I fell in love with this collection.  Thomas Rescum Sterns reminded me that history is about the individual.  The ability to personalize history is such an incredible opportunity provided by our collections, and it has truly reignited my interest in our past.

So if you feel like you’re in a historical rut, check out this collection, and more on the Iowa Digital Library’s website.


A display in the reading room about the life of Thomas Rescum Sterns

And if you’d like to see more about Thomas Rescum Sterns, check out our Tumblr series, or this great article written by a former head of Special Collections and University Archives.



The Detroit News Menu Cook Book



In August of 1920, a radio station under the name “8MK” was launched for The Detroit Evening News. Later named “WWJ”, it was the first radio station with daily programs. Less than a year after the station was launched, the radio show “Hints to Housewives” was created and later, “Tonight’s Dinner by Radio”. The show aired every morning, except for Sundays and holidays, and included ideas for evening meals and table service. Recipes for the dishes on the show were then published in the Women’s Pages of The Detroit News. However, many listeners and readers wanted a more permanent form of the recipes, so in 1933, The Detroit News published The Detroit News Menu Cook Book.


This cookbook includes four weeks of dinner ideas for each of the four seasons, as well as meal ideas for a few major holidays, like Christmas and Thanksgiving. There is a wide variety in the menus included, from “Meat Loaf with Scalloped Potatoes and Mashed Turnips”, to “Calf Hearts with Onions and Parsley Potatoes”. The book even includes a recipe for “Baby Porcupines”, which do not actually contain any porcupine, but appear to be meatballs rolled in rice. Everything from Brussel sprouts to apple soufflé can be found in this book. In the back of the book is a section titled “CleaningHints”, which includes suggestions for removing stains from clothes, removing mildew spots, and even how to clean oil paintings.
Even though it is over eighty years old, this adorable purple with white polka dot cookbook could be found useful today.





Colleen Theisen honored as a “Mover and Shaker” by Library Journal

NEWS RELEASE : 03/15/2015


(Iowa City) Colleen Theisen of The University of Iowa Libraries has been named a “Mover and Shaker” in the library industry by the national publication, Library Journal. In its March 15, 2015 issue, Library Journal named 50 outstanding individuals–and for the first time, one organization–whose efforts have not only expanded the services libraries provide but who are transforming libraries themselves in the 21st century. Colleen was selected because of her commitment to the profession and her efforts to transform how library outreach and how we learn about, and interact with, the unique primary source collections in academic libraries. Colleen currently serves The University of Iowa Libraries as Special Collections Outreach and Instruction Librarian as part of Special Collections & University Archives.

Library Journal honored Colleen because of her innovative work connecting communities on campus and online to rare books and historic documents through social media, online video, and in the classroom. “LJ’s newest class of Movers & Shakers proves once again that the library arena is rich with innovation driven by mission-focus,” said Rebecca T. Miller, Group Editor, Library Journal and School Library Journal. “Those identified come from across the library universe and beyond, and they are each transforming how libraries connect with and enrich their communities. We congratulate them, and look forward to seeing their ongoing contributions multiply.”

Colleen is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and graduated from Regis High School before completing her BA in Art History & Archaeology at the University of Missouri-Columbia.  She followed her degree with a teaching certificate for secondary art education at Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, before completing her Masters of Science in Information specializing in Archives and Records Management at the University of Michigan in 2011.  She has worked as Outreach and Instruction librarian at the University of Iowa for more than three years.

The 2015 Movers & Shakers were selected by the editors of Library Journal, the profession’s leading trade magazine. Each of the Movers & Shakers will be prominently featured in the March 15th issue of Library Journal and celebrated at a special luncheon in June during the American Library Association’s annual conference in San Francisco, CA. The print feature’s companion website is sponsored by OCLC and Boopsie, and it is available at www.libraryjournal.com/movers2015. The luncheon and awards ceremony is made possible by the support of sponsors, including Baker and Taylor, Demco, Mission Bell Media, OCLC, Plata Publishing, Rosen Publishing and Sage.

Read more about new inductees at www.libraryjournal.com/movers2015


About University of Iowa Libraries

The University of Iowa Libraries provides leadership in the creation, transmission, and preservation of knowledge to advance intellectual discovery and encourage lifelong learning. With print and digital collections that are richly diverse and deeply comprehensive, the Libraries also offers state-of-the-art resources that enhance teaching and learning on campus and beyond. In partnership with the teaching faculty, the Libraries offers a variety of information literacy and course-related instructional programs designed to develop these critical skills in students in all disciplines. The Libraries is the largest library system in Iowa and ranks 14th among materials expenditures among U.S. public research libraries. University Libraries is proud of its role as the foundation on which the University of Iowa’s academic and research programs rest.


Founded in 1876, Library Journal is one of the oldest and most respected publications covering the library field. Over 75,000 library directors, administrators, and staff in public, academic, and special libraries read LJ. Library Journal reviews over 8000 books, audiobooks, videos, databases, and web sites annually, and provides coverage of technology, management, policy, and other professional concerns. For more information, visit www.libraryjournal.com. Library Journal is a publication of Media Source Inc., which also owns School Library Journal, The Horn Book publications, and Junior Library Guild.


Looking for Love in the Library

Have you been searching for a good book with which to spend Valentine’s Day?  Want to use your card game skills to attract a mate?  Looking for a rare book to discuss over dinner with that special someone?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should stop by the UI Main Library this week to check out some of our Valentine’s Day events!

Pants 4 U "My heart pants 4 U," August 1, 1907

Pants 4 U
“My heart pants 4 U,” August 1, 1907

Play with Hearts–Tuesday, February 10th


Come to Group Area D (across from Food for Thought Café) to learn how to play the game, Hearts.  You can also enjoy some vintage baked goods made from recipes from special collections’ historic recipe collection.  There will even be recipes available for you to plan your own Valentine’s meal!

Blind Date with a Book–Wednesday, February 11th


Stop by Group Area D to check out a book.  But this time, there will be no judging by the cover.  We’ll set you up with a blind date that you get to take home with you for some Valentine’s reading.  A Spinster’s Tale or Love in the Time of Cholera: Which one will you take home tonight?

Love in the Stacks—Thursday, February 12th


Drop into Group Area D and we’ll help you out with some Valentine’s gifts!  View items from the University of Iowa Special Collections and University Archives while you make buttons from prints of our more romantic books, or send an e-card  to your loved ones.


You never know where love will find you, but you do know where to find us.  We’ll see you in Group Area D!



Aldus Manutius: A man with a plan, a printshop, and a pretty sweet colophon


Aldus Manutius was born in Italy during the Italian Renaissance.  He became the leading printer of his time and is responsible for many literary accomplishments, including the invention of italic type for use in a printing press and the semicolon.  Most importantly, Manutius was one of the first people to publish small, pocket editions of books that more people could actually afford.  This month, we’ll be featuring a few of the books in our collection which were published by this incredible scholar on our Tumblr, so we thought we would give you all a little more background information.

Manutius’ goal was to preserve ancient Greek literature by printing personal, usable editions for everyone to own.  He accomplished this by organizing the famous Aldine Press.  Through the Aldine Press, Manutius was able to produce the first printed editions of many Greek and Latin classics.  These included works such as The Odyssey, The Iliad, and The Divine Comedy.  Aldus Manutius’ work is always recognizable by the colophon (or inscription, which gives details about the book, usually found at the end of a work), which pictures a dolphin wrapped around an anchor.



Here at the University of Iowa Special Collections and University Archives, we are honored to house such an incredible collection of his works.  Keep an eye out for posts about Manutius on our Tumblr, as well as other social media.  If you have any questions about these items, feel free to ask us on our social media, or email us at lib-spec@uiowa.edu.


*Photo of Manutius from www.aldussociety.com

**Photo of Colophon taken from the UI Special Collections and University Archives edition of The Odyssey


First Edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit

First edition, first issue, privately printed in 1900, issued in 1901

First edition, first issue, privately printed in 1900, issued in 1901

July 28th marks the 148th birthday of Beatrix Potter:  illustrator, natural scientist, conservationist, and, of course, world-famous author of  The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Here at the University of Iowa, we are fortunate enough to have a copy of one of the first printings of this charming tale, which according to our acquisition papers, was previously owned by Potter’s niece. The provenance is not the only thing that makes this copy special, but the condition alone is enough to impress any Beatrix Potter collector. Children’s books were often avidly read and handled, hence, finding this famous piece of children’s literature in such good condition is quite remarkable. When placed next to a 1993 facsimile, only the size and slight difference in the color can distinguish the two.

IMG_5529 edit

The Tale of Peter Rabbit in it’s custom-made box which was likely made around 1948.

IMG_5514 edit

This particular book was one of 250 that were privately printed by Potter, as she was initially rejected by multiple publishers for commercial printing. It is widely believed that the first edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit was printed in December 1901. However, our copy’s acquisition papers show that Potter’s records indicate it was privately printed in 1900, and then later issued in 1901.

Acquisition papers from 1948 stating this book was printed in 1900.

Acquisition papers from 1948 stating this book was printed in 1900.

After a second printing of 200 first editions of The Tale of Peter Rabbit in February 1902, the story started to gain some popularity. Eventually, after some textual alterations and the addition of color images, Frederick Warne & Co. published 8000 copies of the first commercially sold edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit in October 1902. Some of the changes to later productions were to omit pages that were deemed “unsuitable for children”.


One set of these omitted pages show how Peter Rabbit’s father was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor (this made it into the first commercially sold edition).


Another set of omitted pages show a rabbit smoking a pipe of tobacco (which only appears in the privately printed editions).

Along with many related Peter Rabbit books, such as The Peter Rabbit Pop-Up Book, Peter Rabbit’s Cookery Book, and Yours Affectionately, Peter Rabbit (currently on display in our reading room), we also have a 1910 edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. This cover style, which began with the first commercially printed edition in 1902, can be seen in contemporary publications.

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1910 edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Beatrix Potter has thirty-three titles to her name, twenty-three being similarly written tales to accompany The Tale of Peter Rabbit. We have many of these wonderful tales in our collections, and audiences of young and old are welcome to take a look!

Can’t make it to to the collections? Check out a fully digitized version of the first edition, first printing of The Tale of Peter Rabbit here!

Beatrix Potter aficionado, Lindsay Morecraft