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News from Special Collections 8/28/2015

Staff Changes:

1. Saying Farewell to Olson Graduate Assistant Jillian Sparks

JillianJillian Sparks will complete her two years as Olson Graduate Assistant here in Special Collections this week. The Olson GA’s participate in the department as junior staff for twenty hours a week; working at the reference desk and answering email reference questions, teaching classes, planning events, writing about collection items for social media, and assisting with a myriad of other duties that come up in day to day life here in Special Collections. Above and beyond those duties Jillian worked on a project adding copy specific notes about types of bindings, marginalia, and provenance information to our catalog records for the earliest English language books in the collection and prepared an exhibition about her work that can still be seen in the cases outside Special Collection on the 3rd floor of the Main Library, or online here. Jillian recently completed her Masters of Library Science here at the University of Iowa along with a certificate in book studies from The Center for the Book, and is seeking employment in the field. Her contributions to this department over the past two years cannot be measured. It was an honor and a privilege to work with such a talented librarian.

Upcoming Events:

1. Special Guest Lecture, Alison Altstatt, University of Northern Iowa

Vellum leaf of a medieval music manuscript

“Re-membering the Wilton Processional: a Manuscript Lost and Found”

Friday, September 4, 2015


2032 Main Library, 125 W. Washington, Iowa City, IA

This talk concerns a notated leaf of an English medieval manuscript held in the Special Collections of the University of Iowa Libraries. Musical, textual and codicological evidence supports the identification of the leaf as a fragment of a processional from Wilton Abbey, an important center for women’s Latin learning from its tenth-century foundation to its sixteenth-century dissolution. The recovery of the University of Iowa leaf, along with more than thirty others, provides a window into the abbey’s musico-poetic tradition, its processional liturgies, and its dramatic rituals.

2. Iowa Bibliophiles First Meeting for 2015-2016, Wednesday September 9th

calligraphyThe first Iowa Bibliophiles meeting of the 2015-2016 season will feature University of Iowa Center for the Book calligraphy instructor Cheryl Jacobsen speaking about calligraphic hands featured in Medieval manuscripts held in Special Collections.

6:00PM – Stop by to view a repeat showing of the livestream video of Alison Altstatt’s September 4th talk

6:30PM – Refreshments served

7PM – Cheryl Jacobsen’s talk

Special Collections Reading Room, 3rd Floor Main Library, 125 W. Washington, Iowa City, IA

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the sponsoring department or contact person listed in advance of the event.

Recently on the Web and Social Media:

1. Olson Graduate Assistant Kelly Grogg’s IFLA Conference Report

Image of Kelly GroggAs we reported earlier this month, Kelly Grogg recently received a scholarship and attended the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) in Capetown, South Africa. She wrote a blog post, “IFLA: Putting Action into the Philosophy of Libraries.”



2. Jillian Sparks’ Last Social Media Post

Close of of the gold decoration on the spine of a bookJillian wrote a farewell Tumblr post about the History of Hydraulics collection that you can see here.  You can also view all of the posts she made for our Tumblr in her time in Special Collections here.




3. U. Iowa Curriculum Featuring Special Collections Materials Featured in “In the Library with the Lead Pipe” Article

Image of Tom KeeganArchives Alive!: librarian-faculty collaboration and an alternative to the five-page paper

Tom Keegan, Head of the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio in the UI Libraries, and former Undergraduate Services Librarian Kelly McElroy published an article about Archives Alive!, the primary source based curriculum for the Rhetoric Department that has students transcribing, analyzing, and interpreting historic documents from Special Collections in DIY History, the University of Iowa Libraries volunteer-based document transcription site. The curriculum was originally developed in partnership with a campus curriculum development project, Iowa Digital Engagement and Learning (IDEAL).

4. “Weekly Squint” On Tumblr

Several  libraries on Tumblr this week featured a “Weekly Squint” which includes a close up view of a collection item. The Huntington Library Tumblr began the “Weekly Squint” feature on Tumblr and invited other libraries and institutions to participate. Our post was a close up view of the Columbian Press in the 3rd Floor hallway.

New Acquisitions:

1. Early 20th Century Astronomy Slides

With the July 14 New Horizons flyby of Pluto, there has been a surge of interest in astronomy. A recent acquisition by the Special Collections department shows that interest in the heavens has been with us for a long time.

These slides were used by Bishop Simeon Arthur Huston (1876-1963), Bishop of the Episcopal Dioceses of Olympia, WA from 1925 to 1947. He had a life-long love of astronomy and after his retirement, he wrote a regular astronomy column in his local newspaper on Bainbridge Island, Washington. He gave frequent talks on astronomy, using these slides to illustrate his talks. There are approximately 50 slides in the collection.

These slides were generously donated by Simeon Huston’s grandchildren Matt Huston, John Huston, Jr., and Elisabeth LeLion.

2. The Gazetteer

The Map Collection’s merge with Special Collections in 2013 has resulted in a heavier focus on the history of cartography. Although Labbé didn’t advertise this work as a gazetteer, it is one of the earliest works on place names in France. Nicolas Sanson, a famous cartographer, heavily criticized the book for plagiarism; perhaps that explains why this was the only edition!

Phillipe Labbé. Pharus Galliæ antiquæ. Moulins, 1644.

News and Announcements:

1. Iowa State Fair Recipe Contest

Special Collections and the Old Capitol Museum co-sponsored a cooking contest at the Iowa State Fair.

The following is a quote from the results page from the Iowa State Fair Website:

Contestants in the Szathmary Collection of Historic Recipes competition, judged Tuesday at the 2015 Iowa State Fair, were part cook, part historian and part detective. Entrants were challenged to interpret a recipe from 1874, maintaining the original recipe’s integrity, while filling in the gaps and adapting to modern measurements, equipment and ingredients

Celeste F. Bremer of Urbandale won first place. Natalie Ridgway of Johnston earned second place and Lindsey Pepper of Boone claimed third place.

The recipe for Sponge Pudding from from Emily Netuzed’s handwritten cookbook from 1874 reads as follows:

Handwritten Recipe image

See this item, MsC 533, EN32,  in the Iowa Digital Library:

“Put two eggs into the scale, then take their weight in flour, butter and lump sugar; first beat the butter in to a cream, powder the sugar and mix with it, beat in the eggs and lastly the flour, butter some little moulds and take ½ an hour in rather a quick oven.”

The Iowa State Fair Food Department is the largest of any state fair in the country. There are 228 divisions, 850 classes and over 10,600 entries at this year’s Fair. Food Department judging is held in the Elwell Family Food Center sponsored by Wells Blue Bunny.

The judges for the contest were members of the “Historic Foodies” group in Iowa City.

Congratulations to all the winners!

2. A Final Reminder to Sign Up for Fall Semester Class Sessions or Group Visits

Students looking at materials in a Special Collections classSpecial Collections and University Archives already has 40 professors scheduling classes with us this fall. You should bring your students too! We have a staff of librarians with expertise in areas ranging from medieval manuscripts to science fiction, all available to help design curricula to complement your learning objectives. Submit your request here to learn more:


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New Acquisition to the University Archives – George Ludwig Papers

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

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

His papers chronicle his research in physics as a doctoral candidate at UI as well as the many projects he supervised or consulted while with NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other organizations throughout his 40-plus year career. The guide to his papers is at; the guide does not yet account for the most recent materials received by the Archives.

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


You can see a remarkable image of George Ludwig with his Cosmic Ray detector on NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab web site: