Latest Headlines
0

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.

 

0

Manuscript Mystery Solved

It’s kind of like History’s Mysteries meets Antiques Roadshow. There’s an item that’s been lying in your collection for years, possibly decades, patiently awaiting investigation. What exactly is this thing? Then one day—maybe on a quiet Friday afternoon—you suddenly have the urge to dig into it.

That’s what happened here in Special Collections. A medieval manuscript leaf, for whatever reason, had evaded description these last few decades. This warrants a friendly reminder to all book-loving sleuths: you need not be a medieval manuscripts expert to solve such a puzzle (though it sure would help). Sometimes all it takes is a little resourcefulness, an educated hunch, and a bit of luck.

MsC2Our leaf turned out to be from De vita contemplativa, a fifth-century theological treatise by Julianus Pomerius. Determining the text of a particular leaf is often easy, requiring little more than Googling a short passage from the text in question. Identifying where and when it was made is the tricky part, but fortune was on our side: this particular manuscript was written on paper.

Medieval manuscripts were predominantly written on vellum (or parchment, but we’ll overlook the distinction for now). Paper wasn’t produced in Europe until the twelfth century, and its importation didn’t begin much earlier. What’s more, to an inexpert eye such as mine, the script appeared Carolingian—the standard book hand developed for the copying of texts during Charlemagne’s reign. While Charlemagne died in 814, this book hand—called Carolingian minuscule, or Caroline minuscule—continued to be used throughout Christendom. But just as paper was growing more common in Europe, the Carolingian script was yielding to the Gothic hand that would soon dominate manuscript production. It seemed unlikely, then, to have a true Carolingian manuscript on paper.

Near the end of the fourteenth century, however, Italian humanists revived Carolingian minuscule. Mistaking the Carolingian manuscripts for original Roman texts, these humanists began copying their favorite classical works in what they believed was their original form. This revived form of Carolingian minuscule has become known as humanistic script. It was commonly used throughout Italy (and later throughout Europe) until the printing of books largely obviated the need to copy them by hand.

And just like that, we came to the likely conclusion that our manuscript was probably made in Italy during the 15th century.MsC1

After consulting a couple of manuscript censuses, we learned that a 15th-century Italian copy—on paper—had once been in the private collection of Ernst Detterer, a Chicago typographer and later the inaugural custodian of the Newberry Library’s John M. Wing Foundation. Given the scarcity of copies on paper, and our geographic proximity to Chicago, this all seemed rather coincidental.

With the help of colleagues at the Newberry Library and the University of Colorado, Boulder, we were able to confirm that our leaf did in fact come from that very same Detterer manuscript—more information than we had ever hoped to uncover.

The underlying tragedy, of course, is that the other twenty-eight leaves are scattered across the country, if not the planet. Three, for example, reside at Boulder. It’s a fate befallen many medieval manuscripts, which were commonly sold or otherwise distributed leaf by leaf at a time when the ethics of the practice were a bit murkier. When in Detterer’s collection, the manuscript was unbound, which mustn’t have helped to suppress the urge to separate the leaves. It’s unlikely that all twenty-nine leaves will ever be reunited. The best we can do is to keep our little piece of it safe and secure, to document its history, and to share it with all of you.

1

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.

0

Rusty, Rustebar, Rust E. Barron

Photo of Rusty Hevelin

Photo by William S. Higgins

The James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Collection of Pulps, Fanzines, and Science Fiction Books in the Special Collections of the University of Iowa Library is a manifestation of fandom, a subculture of shared interest, networking, and activity that grows up around almost any subject. Fandom demands more of its participants than merely liking something; they must become involved. Science Fiction fandom is unique because of its heavy influence on the shaping of the literary genre that spawned it. This post looks at two early examples of Rusty Hevelin’s fan activity as a writer for fanzines.

 

 

RustebarRusty was a science fiction fan from his teen years in the late 1930’s until his death in  2011. He participated in all aspects of fandom, including fan groups (LASFS, and PSFS),  fanzines (H-1661, StefNews, Nebula, Aliquot, Badly, etc.), conventions, as a fan, “huckster” (“dealer” in fan lingo), and organizer, and avid collecting.

In 1941, when he was nineteen, Rusty hitchhiked from L.A. to Denver to attend Denvention I, the third Worldcon, or WorldThe Fantasite Science Fiction   Convention. He wrote a report of the convention afterwards (as “Rustebar”) for the September 1941 issue of The Fantasite, a  zine Phil Bronson edited for the Minneapolis Fantasy Society.

After Denvention I, Rusty moved to Philadelphia where he joined Robert A. Madle and Jack Agnew on the editorial staff of Fantascience Digest. In the November-December 1941 issue, he began a column titled,“Coventry,” (under another pseudonym, “Rust E. Barron”) devoted to the contrary opinions of “rebels and individualists.”

Rustebaron

When America entered WWII, Rusty joined the Marines and served in the Pacific as a meteorologist. He continued his fannish activity during the war, which couldn’t have been easy. We will bring you more about Rusty and his collection in the months to come.   Please follow along online as it’s unpacked: http://hevelincollection.tumblr.com/

2

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.”

Tags: ,
1

Kelmscott Proof Among Our Recent Acquisitions

Poems by the WayAsk three different people why we remember William Morris, and you just might get three different answers. The social activist might mention his work in leftist politics. The designer might recall—with varying degrees of affection—his vivid wallpapers. The literature professor might quote a few lines of verse from the man who, upon the death of Tennyson, politely refused his country’s Poet Laureateship.

Those of us in special collections, however, best remember William Morris for his pioneering work with the Kelmscott Press. And pioneering is just the word. Morris bemoaned the state of bookmaking in Victorian England. (To be sure, he bemoaned just about anything made by machine.) Put off by the industrialization of book production, he returned to the roots of his craft, adopting as role models some of Europe’s earliest and greatest printers, and even tapping into the manuscript tradition that preceded them. His books were produced entirely by hand. In bucking the machine-made trend, Morris founded what has come to be called the fine press movement.

As you might imagine, Morris was a meticulous printer. Lucky for us, Special Collections recently acquired a rare witness to his attention to detail: twenty-two pages of proofs for his Poems by the Way. A proof is a copy of a text run off the press before the first printing intended for publication. Printers and authors would review the proofs and make needed changes. In this case, William Morris was both printer and author. Poems by the Way was only the second book to come off his Kelmscott Press, and the first in which he used both black and red ink.

Some changes aren’t surprising: a typo corrected, an ampersand spelled out. Others betray a much more careful attention to detail. Compare, for example, the decorative initials below. The letter used in the proof (on the left) and that used in the published version (on the right) are remarkably similar. But to a craftsman like Morris, those nuances were the difference between a good book and a great book. Subtle though they are, the changes we see between the proof and the published text offer a rare glimpse into the process behind some of Morris’s earliest book design.

Decorative Initial O

0

Leigh Hunt’s Fireplace

Last week we opened, for the first time, a wooden shipping crate that had been stored in the department for many years. It had been sent to the Libraries in 1986 by Desmond Leigh-Hunt, the great-great-grandson of the Romantic poet and editor Leigh Hunt. Desmond Leigh-Hunt described it in correspondence as the fireplace surround from the last home Leigh Hunt lived in, at 16 Rowan Road in Hammersmith, London. He included a document signed by Rodney Tatchell, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, asserting its authenticity and dating it to the early 1840s. After it arrived the crate was stored, unopened, primarily in the basement of the Main Library.

In 2012 we moved all of our departmental collections out of the basement to the third floor, including the 300 pound crate. We resolved to open it and examine its contents, and the winter doldrums of January seemed the perfect time to do so. The opening and unpacking is well documented in photos, which can be viewed on Flickr.

We have managed to arrange some of the pieces into an approximation of what the fireplace surround might have looked like, but what does this piece tell us about Leigh Hunt? Does it bring us closer to the real person whose books and manuscripts line our shelves?

To tell the story, we start back in the presence of Rodney Tatchell, whose signature affirms the statement about the fireplace surround at the time of its removal from the house. Tatchell was a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and he lived at 22 Rowan Road, the same street as Leigh Hunt’s old house. His wife, Molly Tatchell, shared his interest in their historical neighbor—in 1969 she published a book through the Hammersmith Local History Group entitled Leigh Hunt and His Family in Hammersmith. Her book provides an account of the final years of Leigh Hunt’s life, and includes detailed descriptions of his house at 16 Rowan Road (known as 7 Cornwall Road in Hunt’s time):

“[Regarding the cottages] no two are exactly the same. One type has two small reception rooms on the ground floor divided by a passage with staircase, the other has two larger rooms connected by double doors, so that they can be thrown into one: Leigh Hunt’s was one of this type. They have three or four bedrooms, the small one over the kitchen now being usually converted into a bathroom. The houses originally had, of course, no bathroom, and the privy was situated outside, near the back door.

“Such was Leigh Hunt’s simple, but not undignified, last home. Some of his visitors were to describe it in unflattering terms, but from what we can see of it today, and from what we know of its surroundings in the mid-nineteenth century, it cannot have been an unpleasant place in which to end one’s days.”  [p. 10]

Leigh Hunt and his wife Marianne moved to Hammersmith in 1853, leaving behind a house in Kensington steeped in the memories of a deceased son, and into a house near other family already settled in the area. Leigh Hunt was 69, had made peace with many of his former foes, and finally could rely on a relatively secure income. Marianne, however, was by this time entirely bed-ridden, and remained so until her death in 1857. As he aged, Hunt took on the air of an esteemed elder statesman of letters, in contrast to his youthful rebellion. He welcomed visitors to the house at 16 Rowan Road, including those who travelled from afar to see him, such as Nathanial Hawthorne.

One of Hunt’s visitors in Hammersmith was Charles Dickens, who had bitterly wounded Hunt with his portrayal as Harold Skimpole in Bleak House. The two had reconciled their differences, however, and Dickens visited Hunt on July 3, 1855. The following day, he wrote to his longtime friend Charles Ollier:

“I had got my new book ready packed to bring you, and the volume containing the passage about Watteau, and an account of some delightful hours which Dickens gave me here yesterday evening; and at a quarter to six o’clock, was obliged to give all up. “

“P.S.—By a curious effect of the evening sunshine, my little black mantle-piece, not an inelegant structure, you know in itself, is turned, while I write, into a solemnly gorgeous presentment of black and gold. How rich are such eyes as yours and mine, how rich and how fortunate, that can see visitations so splendid in matters of such nine-and-twopence!” [The Correspondence of Leigh Hunt, 1862, p. 203]

Now the pieces of black slate with inlaid marble here in Special Collections are tied directly back to Leigh Hunt. He would have been in the front room of his house, the window facing west, allowing the late afternoon sun to shine in and strike the fireplace surround. Curiously, it seems as though we have two complete fireplace surrounds, suggesting that there could have been openings in two rooms sharing a common chimney. This might be reasonable given Molly Tatchell’s description of the house’s layout, “two larger rooms connected by double doors, so that they can be thrown into one.”

For now, the pieces of Leigh Hunt’s fireplace will likely be re-housed in more stable materials, perhaps stored in several boxes rather than one very heavy crate. They will join some of the letters of Leigh Hunt, or the manuscript for Old Court Suburb—other material traces of Hunt’s time in his modest home in Hammersmith, at the end of a remarkable life. Perhaps some future renovation of Special Collections will include room to properly display the fireplace surrounds—but surely that is a matter of nine-and-twopence!

Molly Tatchell’s book Leigh Hunt and His Family in Hammersmith is still available from the Fulham and Hammersmith Historical Society’s website.

0

In Memory of George Ludwig

The U.S. launched its first satellite, Explorer I, on this day 55 years ago, on January 31, 1958. Under the direction of Prof. James A. Van Allen of the University of Iowa’s Department of Physics, the satellite carried a payload of data-gathering equipment which eventually revealed the presence of radiation belts encircling the earth.

Our observation of this anniversary is bittersweet this year, as one of the Explorer I team’s most dedicated developers, George Ludwig, died at his Winchester, Virginia, home on Jan. 22 at the age of 85.

George Ludwig was a doctoral candidate working on the project with Prof. Van Allen at the time, and he kept a journal chronicling the events. In his entry made at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 1, 1958, he declared:

“Success!! The first U.S. satellite is in orbit. It looks like a good one. … At about 12:41 (Eastern Standard Time) west coast stations started reporting signals. So it was around the earth once! … And so to sleep – the end of a beautiful day.”

Mr. Ludwig, a Johnson County, Iowa native who completed his doctoral dissertation in 1960, went on to a distinguished career with the Goddard Space Flight Center, and later helped lead the effort to establish the National Earth Satellite Service during the 1970s. In 1981 he became director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Environmental Research Laboratories, a position he held for two years before returning to NASA. He retired in 1984.

His papers are now housed in the University Archives. In addition, the original data he gathered and analyzed from Explorer I, the first scientific data ever transmitted from space, is being digitized and will be made available online in its original raw form. Mr. Ludwig was part of a small, select group of space exploration pioneers whose research laid the foundation for today’s understanding of our planet, our solar system, and beyond.

 

0

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

 

0

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!