dada Archive


February 5th: 100th Anniversary of Dada

By Timothy Shipe, Curator of the International Dada Archive

Friday, February 5 marks the 100th anniversary of Dada, the avant-garde literary and artistic movement that started in the neutral city of Zurich in the midst of World War I. On February 5, 1916, a group of exiled artists and writers opened the Cabaret Voltaire, an eclectic performance space in the heart of the student quarter.  That first night’s program included poetry readings in German and Romanian, cabaret songs, classical piano music, a balalaika orchestra, and an exhibit of abstract art. By April, the name Dada had been chosen for the movement that grew from the Cabaret’s activities. The Cabaret Voltaire lasted for 165 days, but Dada spread beyond its walls to other venues in Zurich, then to Berlin, Paris, Cologne, Amsterdam, and New York, among other places. The influence of Dada on modern art and culture is immense. Dada centennial celebrations have begun around the world. Our own International Dada Archive houses the world’s most comprehensive repository of Dada documentation. To avoid upstaging the celebrations in Zurich, Bucharest, and elsewhere in Europe, the Dada Archive and Special Collections will launch our own centennial events next year, beginning with a major exhibition in the Libraries’ new gallery in spring 2017.

See the first issue of Cabaret Voltaire online.

Shown here is the cover of the 1916 journal Cabaret Voltaire,  one of the gems of our collection. Weekly “Dadagrams” have been posted on the Special Collections Instagram site for the past year.


Issue no. 20 of Dada/Surrealism Journal Now Available

By Tim Shipe, Curator, International Dada Archive, and Arts & Literature Liaison

We are pleased to announce the publication of issue no. 20 of our journal Dada/Surrealism, a special number entitled From Dada to Infra-noir: Dada, Surrealism, and Romania.”

Co-edited by Monique Yaari of the Pennsylvania State University and Timothy Shipe of the University of Iowa, our thematic issue includes eighteen articles by scholars and critics from North America, Europe, and Israel, as well as a selection of primary documents newly translated into English and a substantial bibliography. From Dada to Infra-Noir is the first essay collection in English on the subject of Romanian Dada and surrealism in literature and the visual arts, both within Romania and in the (largely francophone) diaspora.

Dada/Surrealism is the peer-reviewed, free and open-access journal of the Association for the Study of Dada and Surrealism, and is published by the International Dada Archive, Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries.

Profuse thanks are due to Wendy Robertson for her expertise, patience, and hard work in bringing this project to fruition.

Tim Shipe

General Editor, Dada/Surrealism


News and Updates from Special Collections 10/30/2015


Dada surrealism



For a sneak preview of the new issue of Dada/Surrealism, go to Several years in the making, Dada/Surrealism no. 20 is a special issue, “From Dada to Infra-noir: Dada, Surrealism, and Romania,” and is a collaboration between general editor Tim Shipe and Monique Yaari, professor of French at Penn State. This is a “soft launch”—the articles are being published incrementally, and we will announce the “official” publication when the remaining contents have been uploaded.


New Acquisitions

Goodacre, Selwyn. All the Snarks: The Illustrated Editions of the Hunting of the Snark. Inky Parrot Press, 2006.

The first page of this book quotes Lewis Carroll’s 1896 quote regarding the meaning behind The Hunting of the Snark: “I’m very much afraid I didn’t mean anything but nonsense.” The illustrations in this book are indicative of the sentiment, though they come together nicely here. A check list near the back of the book provides numbers of Snark editions in English, French, Swedish, and other languages.

Event Recap

Greg Prickman introducing the exhibition spaceWe are thrilled to announce that the renovation of the gallery space, made possible by a generous grant from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust*, is now complete. On Sunday, October 22nd there was a sneak peek of the new gallery space for our “Friends of the Libraries” group. On display were items from throughout the University of Iowa Libraries’ collections. The UI Libraries’ Exhibition Team is now preparing the first exhibition about James Van Allen and the newly digitized space data sound recording tapes. Look for the new exhibition and Grand Opening early in the spring semester.


 * A previous version of this text erroneously identified the total budget for the renovation as being $500,000, whereas $500,000 was the total of the Roy J. Carver Grant


Image of students looking at Alber's bookThis week, Sue Hettmansperger from the School of Art and Art History took her painting class to Special Collections to see the work of Josef Albers, from the Bauhaus School in Germany and the Black Mountain College in the United States. Together, Hettmansperger, her students, and librarian Amy Chen explored the texts Interaction of Color and Formulation, Articulation. This class became extra fun when students compared and contrasted the original plates from the Interaction of Color with how the plates were depicted on the app for this title created by Yale ( This photo depicts students placing the two side-by-side. Amy downloaded this app to her personal iPad to allow students to try out different color theories digitally while also critically reflecting on the way in which archival holdings can be adapted/translated into new media.


From the Web & Social Media

An unsettling animation

Animated GIF of optical illusion

Department Liaison Lindsay Moen found an appopriately unsettling 18th century reminder of mortality to feature for the Halloween season.

Dance of Death,or Todten-Tanz, wie derselbe in … Basel als ein Spiegel menschlicher Beschaffenheit künstlich gemahlet und zu sehen ist. Published in 1744,  the Minns “Dance of Death” collection is set in the famous city of Basel.

To see a collection of images from this text and to see this optical illusion animated, head over to our Tumblr.



Important Dates

bibliophiles logoNovember 11th, Iowa Bibliophiles Meeting, 7PM

December 9th, Iowa Bibliophiles Meeting, 7PM

If you would like to receive a monthly email with a reminder about the Iowa Bibliophiles talk/event in Special Collections please send an email to be added to the list.​



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News From Special Collections 10/16/2015

Librarians in the Wild:

ICON Science Fiction Convention October 16-18th, 2015

Image of the front cover of the first ICON convention program

ICON Program, 1975

The ICON Science Fiction convention began 40 years ago, born from a passionate group of fans that met in a science fiction class taught here at the University of Iowa by the Hugo and Nebula award winning author Joe Haldeman, and the same group who formed a U.I. student group called S.F.L.I.S. (Science Fiction League of Iowa Students). This weekend marks the convention’s 40th Anniversary. (See the program booklet for the first ICON convention from 1975: Here).

The 40th Anniversary convention is taking place this weekend at the Doubletree in downtown Cedar Rapids.  (There is still time to register). A partner exhibition is being held at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art including works created by each Artist Guest of Honor that has been a featured guest in the history of the convention.

Special Collections staff with an oversized checkAt the opening ceremonies Friday night, University of Iowa Librarians Peter Balestrieri and Colleen Theisen will be officially presented with a check for $1955.00 that was raised by the community in an auction last year to be used to support the digitization of the 1930s-1950s fanzines in the James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Science Fiction Collection. Rusty was a beloved member of the ICON community, and the community came together both donating items to be auctioned and bidding on those items in a heartwarming display of support for the University of Iowa’s role in carrying on the care and legacy of Rusty and his collection.

You will be able to catch the University of Iowa librarians throughout the weekend at the convention, both at a table in the dealer’s room where you can pick up our zine detailing the current status of the Hevelin Fanzine Digitization Project, and also at various panels throughout the weekend about Science Fiction and zine history, about using a University Library for research as a writer, and as co-conspirators for a project to make a mimeographed fanzine over the course of the weekend.

Read more about the Fanzine Digitization Project: Slate article or Official FAQ.

Read more about the donation: Here


Event Recap:

Iowa Bibliophiles October Meeting

Image of John Fifield Presenting about the library at the Recoleta

Wednesday, October 14th, John Fifield, one of our current Olson Graduate Assistants, presented about his work this summer at the Convent of the Recoleta in Arequipa, Peru, where he assisted with identifying and cataloging early printed books in the convent’s collection.  In the photo on the screen (click thumbnail to enlarge) you can see images of the exquisite handcrafted display cases in the convent library that were built by Bill Voss, of the University of Iowa conservation lab, on an unrelated trip in years past. Thanks to everyone who attended, especially the many new faces this month! The lively Q&A that followed the talk had to be cut short due to time constraints, so any unanswered follow up questions can be directed to

An example from UI Special Collections of a typical 17th-century Peruvian book will be in the case just inside the doors of Special Collections for the rest of October if you would like to stop by and learn about printing in Peru during the Spanish Colonial period.



From the Web and Social Media:

1. This month’s Old Gold column

1960 U I Football Team Photo

Remembering a time when postseason play was limited: 1960 Hawkeye football squad loses once, misses out on Rose Bowl

University Archivist David McCartney’s monthly Old Gold column tasks him with being a sports writer this month.

Photo: The 1960 Hawkeye football team. Image courtesy of University of Iowa Yearbooks collection, Department of Special Collections and University Archives, UI Libraries.


2. Weekly Dada related posts on Instagram – #dadagrams

Tim Shipe, curator of the International Dada Archives, has been posting about Dada on Instagram once a week on Thursdays. The #dadagram series will continue as a lead up to the 100th Anniversary celebration in 2017.  Fans of Dada should definitely keep tabs on this series on Instagram.


3. Milestone Reached – 20,000 likes & reblogs

Sometimes it is nice to step back and recognize milestones. This animated GIF of re-sewing a text block on single raised cords upstairs in the UI Conservation Lab is now one of the most popular social media post we’ve ever made. With comments like “OMG, I’ve wondered how to do that for the longest time!”, it’s clear that even a momentary snippet can bring to light some of the otherwise invisible work that happens behind the scenes in the library.


New Acquisitions:

1. Georg von Logau. Hoc volumine continentur…poëtæ tres egregii. Augsburg 1534

Latin classes return to Special Collections every semester to survey the material history of the transmission of Latin authors through time. We hope to see this little book used in many Latin classes over the years. Featuring work by Gattius , Nemesianus, and Calpurnius, it focuses on hunting, fishing, sporting dogs, and country life, and should be a very approachable text for even brief visits.

2. Peter and Donna Thomas The Renaissance Pleasure Faire Broadsides, 1974-2011.

A retrospective collection of ten typographic broadsides that Peter and Donna Thomas made when working at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. The broadsides were all letterpress printed on Peter’s handmade paper. They were illustrated with linoleum cuts and watercolor rubrication by Donna. An introductory broadside and a book they published in 1988 with a photographic history of the Faire are included with the broadsides.

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New from the International Dada Archives

Three major new acquisitions from Dada’s transitional period of 1919-1920 document that movement’s spread beyond its World War I origins in neutral Switzerland to the key cultural centers of Europe during the early postwar era.


Francis Picabia was one of the chief agents for the propagation of the Dada movement, and his  periodical 391  was a key vehicle for spreading Dada beyond its origins in Zurich. Picabia published the first four numbers in Barcelona, then took 391 with him to New York, Zurich, and finally Paris. Special Collections owns ten of the nineteen issues, representing all four cities. Our latest  acquisition  is Number 9 (November 1919), the first issue to be published in Paris (following the single Zurich number), just as Tristan Tzara, Dada’s self-proclaimed leader, was preparing to move to the French capital. With a cover featuring one of Picabia’s famous machine drawings, and with texts by Tzara, Picabia, and future Parisian Dadaist Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, this issue anticipates the founding of the Paris Dada movement.

Published shortly after the author DS_IMG_1725 had established himself in Paris, Cinéma calendrier du coeur abstrait; Maisons (1920) completes our collection of Tzara’s three books of poetry in the series “Collection Dada.” The first two were published in Zurich, and this third collection marks the full fruition of Dada in Paris. Illustrated with nineteen original woodcuts by Jean Arp, this masterpiece of Dada book art is signed by the author and the artist.


Die Schammade (also known as Dadameter) is the seminal publication of the short-lived branch of the Dada movement in Cologne, Germany. Edited in early 1920 by Max Ernst and Johannes Baargeld and printed on multicolored paper with magnificent woodcuts and drawings by Ernst, Arp, and others, Die Schammade typifies the international nature Dada, and includes texts in German and French, including some of the most important Dada writings of Arp, Ernst, and Baargeld.

tumblr_mt2o0qHRoS1rqo4zeo1_500In addition, we recently acquired the one issue of the Dada publication 291 not previously in the collection, making a complete set.

All four items will be scanned for the Digital Library of Dada.