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Voices From the Stacks #2: Spine Lining

The second edition of our new series, “Voices from the Stacks” comes from English Department graduate student, Miriam Janechek, who is working as a guest curator for an exhibition that will debut this fall:

Filler pages from other books used to bind the spine of an 1856 edition of The Life of Benjamin Franklin demonstrate one of the many benefits of archival research – hands-on work leads to unique discoveries! A keyword search in Google books quickly identified one page, A Manual of the Orinthology of the United States and of Canada, by Thomas Nuttall, published in Cambridge, MA, in 1832, which is seen peeking out of the cracked binding of the University of Iowa Special Collections’ edition of Jefferson’s book. Demonstrating also the limitations of Internet research, Google did not help locate the other filler page, which seems to be from a periodical.

Why was the 24 year-old book on birds used as filler?  Did the printer have unsold copies?  Did he simply dislike birds?  Were there newer, more accurate ornithology books? It’s a mystery…