Latest Headlines

News From Special Collections 8/7/2015

Summer 2015 New Staff and Staff Changes:

OBnINunsAmy Hildreth Chen is the new Special Collections Librarian in charge of the Instruction Program. Previously, she was a 2013-2015 Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Postdoctoral Fellow in the Division of Special Collections at the University of Alabama, where she oversaw instruction, exhibitions, and social media. In 2013, she received her Ph.D. in English from Emory University with a dissertation on the acquisition of literary collections. She also is an alumna of Iowa, as she graduated from UI in 2006 with a BA in Political Science and honors in English.


11222226_627153448065_8824884415556771774_nLaura Hampton recently joined the department as a Digital Project Librarian working on digitizing 1930s-1950s fanzines from the James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Science Fiction Collection. In May 2015, she received her MLIS from the UI School of Library and Information Science and Center for the Book. During her time at Iowa, she worked as a graduate assistant in Special Collections, and as a Reference Assistant at the Hardin Library of Health Sciences. Previously, she earned her undergraduate degree from New College of Florida in Sarasota, Florida where she graduated with a BA in literature.


John-FifieldJohn Fifield is the new 2015-2017 Robert A. and Ruth Bywater Olson Graduate Assistant.  He is a student in the School of Library and Information Science and the Center for the Book and he holds a Bachelor of Music in Horn Performance from Oklahoma State University. John is currently conducting bibliographic research at a convent’s library at the Convento de la Recoleta in Arequipa, Peru and will officially join the department in mid-August.  His research interests include the Spanish colonial book trade as well as food culture.



Recently on the Web and Social Media:

1. If Books Could Talk

The third video in the series If Books Could Talk is now live.  If Books Could Talk is a partnership between UI Libraries’ Special Collections and Music Library with History Corps, a public digital history project from the UI Department of History.  The series investigates what can be learned by looking closely at medieval manuscripts.  Subscribe to the UI Special Collections’ Staxpeditions channel on YouTube with any GMail or Google ID to get notifications whenever a new video is posted.  Historian Heather Wacha posts a complementary essay for each episode which can be found on the History Corps website.


2. Library Journal Article, “University of Iowa Libraries Begin to Digitize Decades of Fanzines.”

Library Journal recently had a feature article about the University of Iowa Libraries’ initiative to digitize 1930s-1950s science fiction fanzines in the James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Science Fiction Collection.  After the digitization, the scans will be open to a small group of fans to log in and help crowdsource metadata in an unprecedented effort to harvest the knowledge of the fan community and make available information about these fan-made publications. Read it here.

3.  Daily Iowan Coverage

Last week The Daily Iowan covered two events that Special Collections partnered to create, an event introducing teens to 1960s-1980s comic books as a partnership with the Iowa City Public Library, and ongoing efforts to recreate historic recipes from the Historic Foodies, a community group that is a partnership with the Old Capitol Museum. Read about the comic book event.  Read about Historic Foodies.

4. Vine Channel

This summer the Special Collections team has been testing the social media site Vine which is a site dedicated to very short videos that are less than six seconds long. You can see in the section below a short looping video of our librarian Margaret Gamm opening a new acquisition.  The videos may be seen on our Vine channel,  or shared to our Twitter  or Tumblr.


New Acquisitions:

1. Fluxus maps

“Hi Red Center,” 1965, was edited by Shigeko Kubota, designed and produced by George Maciunas, and maps the activities of the “Hi Red Center” avant-garde art collective conceptually onto the Tokyo landscape where the activities took place.  The back of the map has documentary photographs of events and happenings mapped on the other side that took place between 1963-1964.

The second map, “Fluxus Island in Decollage Ocean” is from Nam June Paik from 1963.

The two items join our extensive Fluxus holdings much of which can be found in the Fluxus West Collection, MsC 763.


Nam Jun Paik's Map, Fluxus Island, 1963.

Nam June Paik’s Map, Fluxus Island, 1963.

Shigeko Kubota's Map, "Hi Red Center" 1965.

Shigeko Kubota’s Map, “Hi Red Center,” 1965.






2. 1499 Codex with a Unique Binding

This book from 1499 is a manual for confessors that still has its first binding, a “wallet” style binding.  Meant to be used and carried around, these everyday bindings do not survive in great numbers.

The transition from the manuscript tradition to the earliest printed books is one of our most frequent topics that we teach in the classroom, across the disciplines on campus, for visiting classes from other colleges and universities, and for community groups.

Citation: Baptista de (Trovamala). Summa casuum conscientiae quae Baptistiniana nuncupaor (second version, known as Rosella casuum). Add. Sixtus IV: Bulla “Etsi dominici gregis” 30 December 1479. Rubricae iuris civili et canonici. Venice: Paganinus de Paganinis, 21 December 1499.



me_2Kelly Grogg, Special Collections’ Olson Graduate Assistant was awarded the Rovelstad Scholarship in International Librarianship, which will fully fund her travel, housing, and registration to attend the World Library and Information Congress hosted by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) taking place in Cape Town, South Africa.  This scholarship is intended to encourage students who have an interest in international library work and enable them to participate in IFLA early in their careers.


speccollSelfie1-thumb-500x333-9148Margaret Gamm, Special Collections Acquisitions and Collections Management Librarian was honored as a “Bright Young Librarian” by Fine Books and Collections Magazine.  See the article here. 




Want to stay connected?  Follow us on social media:

Facebook link Twitter Link Instagram Link Tumblr link YouTube link Vine link

Tags: ,

Science Fiction Fans Raise $1,955 To Support Hevelin Collection Digitization

Every year at the ICON Science Fiction convention in Cedar Rapids the organizers collect fan created artwork, crafts, and donated memorabilia which are auctioned off to support charities and projects.  Last fall, the chosen project was The University of Iowa Libraries’ initiative to digitize the James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Science Fiction collection, an especially meaningful choice to the community, resulting in an outpouring of donations and fast-paced bidding wars.

Rusty Hevelin was a science fiction fan, pulp collector, fanzine creator, huckster (a dealer at conventions), and voracious reader for most of his 89 years. He was also involved with the Iowa Science Fiction conventions ICON and Demicon from the time of their founding.  After his death in 2011, his collections came to the University of Iowa Special Collections where a recent unprecedented initiative to digitize around 10,000 of the earliest fanzines from roughly 1930s-1950s has begun.

The University of Iowa Libraries’ Community is deeply grateful for the generosity of the science fiction community and for their support.

The next ICON science fiction and fantasy convention will be at the Cedar Rapids Doubletree on October 16-18, 2015.  Details here.

Special Collections staff with an oversized check



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.



Margaret Gamm Featured as “Bright Young Librarian” by Fine Books & Collections Magazine

speccollSelfie1-thumb-500x333-9148Margaret Gamm, Special Collections Acquisitions and Collections Management Librarian, was featured as a “Bright Young Librarian” by Fine Books and Collections Magazine.  Please join us in congratulating her on this recognition from the wider community.  You can read the feature here.


Remembering Earl Rogers, the University of Iowa’s Archivist from 1970 to 1998

EarlRogersJamesVanAllen1998 from Accession 2006-44001

Photo: Earl Rogers (right) with James Van Allen, whose papers were processed under Earl’s supervision, at Earl’s retirement reception in the Dept. of Special Collections in May 1998. From UI Archives Accession 2006-44; gift of David Schoonover.

We are sorry to note that Earl Rogers, the University of Iowa’s archivist from 1970 to 1998, passed away early Wednesday morning at his home in Iowa City following a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 77.

Earl was born May 2, 1938, in Moline, Illinois. He received the bachelor of science degree in history in 1961 at Iowa State University, attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a history graduate student in 1962-1966, and completed his master of library science degree at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1967. After a three-year stint as a cataloguer in the University of Utah Library, he returned to Iowa, joining the UI Libraries’ Department of Special Collections in July 1970 to arrange and index the Henry A. Wallace Papers. Over time, he assumed the role of university archivist. He published numerous indexes and bibliographies pertaining to agricultural and UI history. Among his many noted acquisitions are the Papers of James A. Van Allen, which were processed under his supervision.

Although Earl retired in 1998, he continued to maintain two features on the UI Archives’ web site: our online bibliography of UI history-related materials, and a unique page titled ‘Fiction With an Iowa City Setting: An Updated Checklist.’ Earl would, from time to time, submit new entries or annotations for me to add to these sites.

I always looked forward to hearing from Earl, regardless of the nature of his dispatch, whether it was a new list of entries to upload, a report on his and Susan’s latest trips (Galapagos Islands, Turkey, and New Zealand, for starters), or a review of a new local restaurant. Earl often stopped by our department to drop off an obituary, a clipping, or an article for our vertical file. We appreciated his vigilance, not to mention his subscription to The New York Times.

Earl never second-guessed my decisions as his successor, though certainly on many occasions he had good reason to tap me on the shoulder. I would like to believe it was because he trusted me. More likely, however, it was because he and Susan were having a blast in Peru.

I feel a bit stranded right now. Because of Earl’s remarkable longevity as UI’s archivist – 28 years – and the fact that his position was vacant for over two years until I arrived in 2001, I now have no direct forebear from the archives to call on, no predecessor, whether retired or working elsewhere. Archivists value institutional memory, particularly when shared memory and experience pass from one generation to the next within their shop. Those links inevitably break as time passes.

One last round of web page updates from Earl awaits on my desk. I’ll get to them soon.

Thank you, Earl, and our condolences to Susan and family.


David McCartney, C.A.

University Archivist


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.





Lucy Hartmann

After working in Special Collections for a while, we meet many people who leave a lasting impression on us—collectors, donors of papers, students, and researchers, among others, who devote countless hours to their work in these collections. In the midst of comings and goings, some individuals stand out, and one of them deserves special recognition.

It is with heavy hearts, but also fond memories, that we remember the time we spent with Lucy Hartmann, who passed away on June 22. We got to know Lucy during the time she spent working in Special Collections through the UI REACH program. Lucy was dedicated to her tasks in Special Collections, helping us with filing, sorting, cleaning books, and other duties that helped us to tackle some things that we may not have otherwise been able to resolve. Her contributions to our activities were real and meaningful, and the focus she applied to her work impressed us all. We were able to share some of our favorite items in the collections with her, and were delighted to be able to throw a party for her to commemorate her graduation from UI REACH.

Lucy Hartmann at work in Special Collections.

Lucy Hartmann at work in Special Collections.

I speak on behalf of the entire staff of Special Collections when I say that she will be missed, that her time with us will not be forgotten, and that her efforts are truly appreciated as we continue to go about our daily business. Her time in our department may have been relatively brief, but the impression she made on us is something that will endure with us for a long time to come.

Over the years that we have been involved with UI REACH, thanks to the efforts of our Department Manager Kathy Hodson, we have been fortunate to be able to work with, and learn from, people such as Lucy and former students Alex and Jeff. We look forward to continuing this relationship, and to remembering Lucy by extending opportunities to more students in the future.


Stewart Stern, 1922-2015

Yesterday I walked into a meeting to discuss an upcoming exhibition we are putting together on World War II. On the book truck I pushed in front of me were several boxes from the papers of Stewart Stern. Stern was a World War II veteran, a survivor of the Battle of the Bulge, who went on to a long career as a Hollywood screenwriter (of films such as Rebel Without a Cause) and a teacher. My colleague who greeted me saw the boxes and said that Stewart had passed away, at the age of 92.

My heart immediately sank. Just this past summer Stewart had visited us from his home in Washington state, making the drive across the country with his wife. He came to visit us in the library where his papers are housed, to answer some lingering questions he had about his work that only his own papers could answer, and to see where his legacy was cared for. The visit with Stewart was the kind of occasion that makes this job among the most meaningful occupations a person could have—sitting with someone like Stewart, listening to his stories about Jimmy (James Dean), his days as an actor in theatrical productions at Iowa, about his friends from the war, experiences that still made him choke up so many decades later. He was thrilled to see his papers, and he was so full of life. When I asked if I could take his picture in the stacks as he surveyed his boxes, I thought I would get a nice shot of him smiling. Instead, as I pointed the camera, he sprang into action, sweeping his arms open to proudly display his life’s work. He laughed like a child.

After this meeting with Stewart, I thought about how enjoyable the experience was, and how much I looked forward to seeing him again. The sadness in knowing that will now not be possible is tempered by the knowledge that he entrusted us with his papers, and we have the ability, and the responsibility, to tell others of his accomplishments. This summer a piece or two from Stewart’s wartime papers will be on display in the University of Iowa’s Mobile Museum—please visit us if we are in your town, and help us remember the life of a fascinating man.


Stewart Stern in the stacks at the University of Iowa Libraries, August 2014


The cast of Rebel Without a Cause at the first read through of the script, written by Stewart Stern, who is seated at the far left, next to Nick Ray.


The telegram informing Stewart Stern’s parents that their son had been listed as Missing in Action during the Battle of the Bulge. Stern was later located safe in a hospital, suffering from frostbite.



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


*Photo of Manutius from

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