John Gawsworth Notebooks

Special Collections has purchased additional materials to add to the John Gawsworth Papers. Gawsworth was a poet and leader of the neo-Georgian movement in Britain.  He was also the second king of Redonda. As a poet he peaked early and at the age of 26 was the youngest member of the Royal Society.  He fell from favor and died homeless and impoverished. Our original collection was comprised of his later writings, after drink had diminished his capacity. These works are virtually all unpublished. This new addendum is from his earlier days and presumably show more vigor. Included are several notebook journals from his days in the RAF and, as the bookseller says they are “. . . especially valuable for the light they cast on the frontline wartime activities of a sensitive and deeply-poetic sensibility. “ He was stationed in Northern Africa, Italy, and India and everywhere he went he studied the literature of the region, and there are lists of books and authors. Especially complete is his survey of North African authors.  Also included are holograph print versions of many of his poems. – Jacque Roethler, Special Collections Assistant

The 1922 Fiji-New Zealand Expedition: A Tale of Two Journal Entries

During the summer of 1922, a group of University of Iowa faculty and graduate students with interests in the natural sciences embarked upon a four-month expedition to the South Pacific. Under the leadership of Prof. Charles C. Nutting of the Department of Zoology, the group visited the island nations of Fiji and New Zealand, gathering observations and specimens pertinent to their respective disciplines.

Prof. Nutting chronicled the expedition in a 1924 report, published as an installment of University of Iowa Studies in Natural History (v. X, no. 5; call no. QH1.I58). Based on its thorough index, the report covers a wide range of research interests, including anthropology, archaeology, botany, entomology, and zoology.

Recently, Special Collections & University Archives received additional documentation of this adventure from the perspective of Waldo Glock, then a graduate student in geology. (Mr. Glock would go on to a distinguished academic career at The Ohio State University.) His son, Waldo Glock, Jr., donated to the Archives his father’s scrapbook, journal, and a set of over 200 lantern slides recounting the journey.

We’ll leave the academic researching of this new collection to, well, the researchers. We couldn’t help but note, however, the journal entries for the voyagers’ last day at sea – September 2, 1922. First, Prof. Nutting’s official account:

“The sea became rather ‘lumpy’ as we neared the American coast. There was much drinking on board as the passengers were taking advantage of their last chance before reaching prohibition territory. There seemed to be little effort to restrain them and they kept up a veritable ‘rough house’ nearly all night with a good deal of profane and even indecent language.”

And now for graduate student Glock’s account:

“The Smoke room, scene of hilarity! Bottles of Scotch and glasses were everywhere. Norton was flushed of face and glassy eyed; Polly was follish drunk; Walsh was wild-eyed and red; Mong oozy eyed; Haines perfectly silly; Mrs. Brandeis itching for greater revels; Myrtle knew enuf to stop; Owen began to stagger… 2:30 a.m. they fell back exhausted, an incoherent mumble the last spark from the battered frames. Once having started there is no stopping, on and on, more, more – more, to the bitter end.”

And there you have it: Two accounts from two perspectives. While official records present evidence of an event, there is nothing like a diary to bring out the details. – David McCartney, University Archivist

Letters from Theodore Roosevelt

Special Collections is pleased to accept a donation from Margaret L. Zimansky. It is an addition of two pieces to the papers of William B. Allison, a collection she donated in 1968. Allison was a senator from Iowa during Theodore Roosevelt’s administration, and this new donation consists of a letter and a postcard from Roosevelt to Allsion. They discuss issues of the day, including railroad legislation. The letter is dated April 12, 1906, two years before Allison’s death. The postcard is also from April, without a year indicated. Both sides are reproduced below. – Greg Prickman, Assistant Head, Special Collections & University Archives

Elliott Ruben APA Materials

Special Collections has recently received a treasure trove of materials representing the full flower of the 20th century American amateur press movement. Elliott M. Ruben (1916-2009), a native of Long Island, New York, was active for his entire life in a number of amateur press associations (“apas”).  An apa is a group of amateur printers who produce homemade publications – leaflets, flyers, broadsides, zines, and all sorts of other materials – and submit copies of them to a Central Mailer, who collates and distributes the publications to all apa members. An apa may concern itself with one subject of interest, or may generalize to take in many or all products of the amateur press. Apas, which first arose in the mid 19th-century as private presses became cheaper and more readily available, are an important precursor to the World Wide Web as a method of facilitating communication between widely distributed groups of people interested in the same topics.

Ruben’s collection of materials encompasses the activities of several national apas (which together would comprise many hundreds of amateur printers and their work), and stretches from the early 1930s to the beginning of the 2000s. The Elliott M. Ruben Amateur Press Association Collection is a major source of information on the apa movement, and a wonderful showcase of the range of talents exhibited by America’s amateur printers. – Jeremy Brett, Project Archivist

Ruben’s own January 1928 creation showing an early interest in printing and design.


From the AAPA May 1948 Bundle. “The Searchlight” is a leftist journal from the Jack London Amateur Press Club, that demonstrates the activism of many amateur printers.


The “People Watcher,” October 1986, from NAPA. Printed by Lauren Geringer, of Iowa City, whose papers are also held in Special Collections.