Grant Wood scrapbooks now online

Grant Wood portrait with brush and dental instrument used for painting, 1940s | Figge Art Museum Grant Wood Digital Collection
Grant Wood portrait with brush and dental instrument used for painting, 1940s | Figge Art Museum Grant Wood Digital Collection

The Figge Art Museum and the University of Iowa Libraries are pleased to announce the release of the Grant Wood Digital Collection, http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/grantwood, in conjunction with the Grant Wood Biennial Symposium 2012, April 13-14, 2012.

This unique digital collection includes more than 12 scrapbooks and albums of news clippings, photographs, postcards, letters, and related ephemera assembled by Grant Wood’s sister, Nan Wood Graham, chronicling her brother’s professional life.

For the first time, scholars, students and the general public will have unprecedented virtual access to the scrapbook materials.  Due to their fragility, access to the actual scrapbooks is simply impossible.

“Nan Wood Graham is one of the most famous faces in the history of art, immortalized in Wood’s iconic painting American Gothic. The materials Graham compiled provide wonderful insight into Wood’s life in Iowa and his development as one of the most famous American artists of the 20th century,” says Figge Art Museum registrar Andrew Wallace.  “It is gratifying to know that, through this digital collection, people around world are able to learn about the life and times of Grant Wood through the words of close friends, family, and fellow artists.”

This digital collection project would not have been possible without the generous assistance of the Henry Luce Foundation American Art Renewal Fund and through additional funding for imaging equipment provided by an anonymous donor.

These materials, along with several hundred artifacts, including the artist’s wire-rimmed glasses, palettes, paint box, and easel, are part of the Figge Art Museum’s Grant Wood Archive. The Archive has provided primary source material for numerous articles, catalogs, and monographs for over 40 years, most recently by R. Tripp Evans for his award-winning 2010 biography Grant Wood: A Life.

Riot Grrrl: Finding a voice

UI Libraries, Mission Creek Festival host zine open house and interactive exhibition March 30

Riot Grrl

In conjunction with the Mission Creek Festival of music and literature, the Special Collections department at the University of Iowa Libraries will host “The Zine Dream and the Riot Grrrl Scene” from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, March 30. A cooperative project of librarians, scholars, and zine-makers, this event will highlight the 1990s Riot Grrrl movement and its independent publishing zine culture by exploring the intersection of music, writing, and social issues.

Zines (originally called fanzines) are amateur publications produced noncommercially and designed to circulate among a small number of people sharing similar cultural or social interests. Before the advent of the Internet and the introduction of blogging as a tool of personal and creative expression, zines were an important method of communication among members of subcultures traditionally underrepresented by the mainstream media.

The open house will focus on the Libraries’ collection of zines from the 1990s feminist “riot grrrl” movement that cover topics such as female-driven music, complexities of female identity, and a consciousness of institutional, social and cultural sexism. Riot grrrl zines are also concerned with feminist political and social issues such as discrimination, sexual abuse, eating disorders, and body image. Many zines are marked by stories of intensely personal experiences relating to these issues.

“Just before the rise of the Internet, the Riot Grrrl movement used photocopiers, scissors, glue and the Postal Service as tools to develop a hugely influential social network,” says Kembrew McLeod, associate professor of communication studies and co-organizer of the event. “In doing so, these pioneering feminists carved out an independent media space that challenged the dominant culture.”

Monica Basile, local zine-maker, artist, and doctoral candidate in gender, women’s, and sexuality studies, will curate a browseable selection of zines in the reading room. Attendees will be invited to share their experiences and thoughts in a discussion group on the importance of zines and zine culture. They’ll also have the chance to work on a collaborative zine which will be copied, collated, and shared with all of the contributors.

“As a print phenomenon, a Riot Grrrl zine demands attention be paid to its origins but it is physically turning the page that makes the continued relevance and urgency of the messages so evocative,” says Colleen Theisen, outreach and instruction librarian in Special Collections. “Zine newbies, Riot Grrrls, librarians, zine-makers, students, scholars, punk rockers, writers, community members—all are welcome to touch and turn the pages.”

from IowaNow: http://now.uiowa.edu/2012/03/riot-grrrl-finding-voice

Digital spring awakening

It’s the Spring equinox, and the flowers are bringing us back to life, perennially a cause for celebration as the Iowa Digital Library illustrates.

Bird on hand by Tilly Woodward, 2006 | The Daily Palette Digital Collection
Bird on hand by Tilly Woodward, 2006 | The Daily Palette Digital Collection
UI dancers, 1910s | Iowa City Town and Campus Scenes
UI dancers, 1910s | Iowa City Town and Campus Scenes
Flower baskets, Lost Nation, Iowa, 1915 | Noble Photographs
Flower baskets, Lost Nation, Iowa, 1915 | Noble Photographs
Floral postcard, 1910s | Noble Photographs
Floral postcard, 1910s | Noble Photographs
Scrapbook cover, 1997 | Evelyn Birkby Collection
Scrapbook cover, 1997 | Evelyn Birkby Collection
Equinox by David Whannel, 2008 | The Daily Palette Digital Collection
Equinox by David Whannel, 2008 | The Daily Palette Digital Collection

Reach for your rights

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re featuring a few of the thousands of artifacts in our Iowa Women’s Archives Digital Collections:

Holy City residents, Bettendorf, Iowa, 1920s | Mujeres Latinas
Holy City residents, Bettendorf, Iowa, 1920s | Mujeres Latinas
Basketball practice, 1938 | University of Iowa Physical Education for Women
Basketball practice, 1938 | University of Iowa Physical Education for Women
Betty Ford at the National Republican Convention, Kansas City, 1976 | Iowa Women's Archives Founders
Betty Ford at the National Republican Convention, Kansas City, 1976 | Iowa Women's Archives Founders
Girls' dance troupe, Roland, Iowa, 1910s | Noble Photographs
Girls' dance troupe, Roland, Iowa, 1910s | Noble Photographs
Fence climbing, The University of Iowa, 1920s | African American Women in Iowa
Fence climbing, The University of Iowa, 1920s | African American Women in Iowa

Love & war

Over on the Twitter account for the Libraries’ Civil War transcription crowdsourcing project, we’re taking a break from our Black History Month tweets to highlight some Valentine’s Day content, such as Albert Cross’s 1862 diary entry indicating a conflicted relationship with the holiday: “I wish the mail would come as this is Valentine’s Day. I am expecting some valentines though I can’t say I crave any.” By the next day, this ambivalence appears to have cleared up after the arrival of — spoiler alert! — the expected valentines from a not-so-secret admirer: “Yesterday I received two valentines whitch was very Interesting Indeed. I have a very good idea who they came from and I shall call on them in a few evenings and talk to them about the matter.”

James B. Weaver’s 1861 love letter to his wife is no less passionate for having been written on September 3rd rather than February 14th — romantic excerpt below, lovingly transcribed by our crowdsourcing volunteers:

James B. Weaver letter to wife, 1861 | Civil War Diaries and Letters
James B. Weaver letter to wife, 1861 | Civil War Diaries and Letters

…I am now writing by Candlelight, & I would be the happiest man living could I get one sweet kiss from you this night. Darling you will pardon me won’t you for writing you so much about my love for you, for I really do not feel like writing about anything else. I think of you all the time. You are constantly in my mind. O darling how much good it does my very soul to prove true to such a true woman as you are. I pledge you my word before God that I am all yours and that I would rather die at once than prove unfaithful to you. I always thought that you had more attractions for me than any woman I ever saw long yes years before I married you, but now I know you, and indeed you are tenfold more woman than I ever imagined you in my love dreams. God love you my own true, honorable, highminded wife. Darling you know that I am a man of very, very strong passions, but I pledge you my honor & my very soul before God that I am all yours, every whit. You are mine thank God. O what a [pinnacle?] love is. I am happy in loving you…

[he goes on for two more pages]

Skipping ahead a few wars, our Valentine’s slideshow linked below features a cherubic Stalin and Hitler among more familiar symbols of love:

XOXO, The Libraries: romantic artifacts from our research collections

Happy Valentine’s Day!