Bethany Kluender, Special Collections Cataloging Librarian, is hard at work re-cataloging and reclassifying Special Collections’ Dewey materials, which means she is updating the existing catalog records so they have accurate descriptions, more access points, and meet current cataloging standards, especially for rare materials (DCRMB).
This process also entails reclassifying these books that use the Dewey classification system and changing them to the Library of Congress system to match the majority of Special Collections holdings.
Many of the books are early 20th Century acquisitions and were first cataloged in the 1980s. Interesting details about provenance and binding were often not included in the original cataloging work since descriptive standards have changed over time. One rewarding part about this project has been the “detective work” of researching a bookplate or inscription from previous owners.
For example, the following images are from a 1556 copy of Marcus Tullius Ciceroes thre bokes of duties (London: Richard Tottel). Research revealed that this book most likely belonged to a Lucy Renshaw. It is inscribed to her from her friend/travel companion Amelia B. Edwards, who was a talented writer & self-taught Egyptologist. Amelia’s grave is designated an LGBT landmark. The late 19thC leather binding also features Lucy’s monogram in silver.
All of this previously unrecorded information is now available for our students, faculty, and patrons. This project is still underway with hopefully many more fascinating things to be discovered. Be sure to follow Special Collections & Archives on social media to see updates of the project.
The following Top 10 List is written by graduate student worker Diane Ray, with introduction by Curator Eric Ensley. Images, unless otherwise noted, are also from Diane. Eric and Diane co-curated the exhibit “Art to Eat By: Cookbooks as Record and Expression” which is on display in the Special Collections & Archives reading room September 2021.
If one takes art to mean a creative application of human skill, food and dining have long been canvases for the expression of art. Ancient frescoes and mosaics from Greece and Rome allow glimpses of tables laden with decorative plates and glasses alongside dishes that are celebrated for their beauty. Though the details and dishes may have changed, food and dining have continued to be a space for artistic output. From medieval coronation banquets with elaborate sugar sculptures known as subtleties to the technicolor party food of the 1960s, food as art has long been tied to the enjoyable and meaningful experience of dining.
Food and its ties to art are not, however, without tensions. This exhibit focuses on one of the central tensions of displays of food in cookbooks and adjacent publications: the sometimes-blurry lines between public and private space and experience. Through materials taken primarily from the Szathmary Culinary Collection donated by Chef Louis Szathmary, we show that books about food have often attempted to navigate the personal, familial, and domestic spaces of dining while displaying a public-facing image of those experiences. At question in these images is who or what should be on public display. A repeated focus of the items on display is how visible women should be and how their role should be presented in public-facing images of food and dining. Further, alongside issues of gender, these items trace the contours of the art of food and its political, artistic, and communal impact.
It was hard to choose, but here are 10 favorite things from this exhibit, in no particular order! There are many more to see if you visit us on the Third Floor of the Man Library.
Printed in Paris around 1521, this book is unusual and fascinating on many levels. The description from the seller sums this book up as “an illustrated work of cookery, mnemonics and mysticism for women.” It goes over different food, along with that food’s spiritual meaning to guide meditation during lent. It also discusses expectations for pilgrims, with instructions about buying different religious print from street venders.
The woodblock prints are also quite unusual, including the one included here, showing the Devil offering meat to seated nobles. One could imagine the blank scrolls as speech bubbles. But probably most intriguing about this book is that it was printed by a woman under her own name. A printers widow, Jeanne Trepperel was only active under her own name for nine months– 29 September 1520 to early June 1521. While female printers were not unheard of, they were rarely named on the text.
We have two copies of this cook book by Alice B. Toklas (writer, artist, partner to Gertrude Stein). This book as both a recipe book and a sort of autobiography, as it tells of her time in France during World War I, such as the hardships getting certain foods, or the different cooks and housekeepers that worked for them. The most well known aspect of this book is the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) ‘Haschich Fudge’ recipe. The archives has two copies of this item- the recipe is only included in the 1960 UK version.
3. Crocked, or, will the real Betty Crocker please stand up? Written by Maryann Riker (N7433.4.R556 C76 2011)
The image of the perfectly put-together, white-middle class woman, effortlessly providing for her family was presented in many cookbooks for sale back in the day, a stereotype that many artists push against now. Some, like Crocked, or, Will the real Betty Crocker please stand up? focus directly on deconstructing the personalities promoted by brands. Crocked folds up to form a house structure, and includes commentary on the history of the Betty Crocker charter, along with images of her many depictions over the years.
Community cookbooks are always a joy to look through because there is such a creative variety to the local collections of recipes. This character that appears throughout a cook book from Des Moines caught my eye in particular. The Izaak Walton League, sometimes shortened to “Ike”, is a conservation organization that “takes a common-sense approach toward protecting our country’s natural heritage and improving outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans”, according to their website. This includes responsible hunting and fishing, (similar to Ducks Unlimited) and providing recipes to that end. (desmoines-ikes.com)
Louis Szathmary collected several hundred handwritten or personal cookbooks that are included in the Szathmary Culinary Collection at Special Collections & Archives. Most of what is on exhibit comes from this collection, and this particular item from 1818 is one of my favorites. Not only does it show how recipe books can also be outlets for creative expression, it is also unfinished (notice that some titles are only outlined, and some capitals are missing, while others are fully filled in and beautifully embellished) which is a very relatable trait.
This book includes both recipes and a short travel journal, in which Mrs. Samuel Leeds took a ship to England from Brooklyn in 1856, and was quite unimpressed for much of the trip. Highly recommended for fans of reading zero star Yelp reviews. (images from the Iowa Digital Library)
7. Funeral Food, written by Sandra Trugillo (unprocessed)
This collection of broadsides includes colorful images and text on one side, with the accompanying stories on the other. Each one talks about some aspect of food or funeral culture, in the US or Mexico. The artist describes it as “a marriage between traditional cookbooks and artists’ portfolios about material culture.”
This item is one of a collection of 7 cookbooks that were handwritten and illustrated by Pat Brangle who, along with her husband Jack, owned Llyewelyn’s Pub in St. Louis. The illustrations are very distinctive, with wonderful detail and colors.
9. Thirty Recipes Suitable for Framing, compiled by Alice Louise Waters, with illustrations by David L. Goines (FOLIO TX715 .W3315 1970)
Containing 30 different sized broadsides, each item features a beautiful colored illustration in a classic European woodblock style and a written recipe. Recipes range from orange chicken, to watercress salad, to even yogurt. But each one is tied together by the same style of illustration and calligraphy font.
10. The Iridor Complete Candy Making Course, written by Iris F. Leonard and Dorit K. Weigert. (TX791 .L38)
This collection of 6 books in a matching box from 1931 offers instructions and tips for making and selling candies. It is geared towards women looking for a job outside of being a homemaker. As the introduction says “Welcome into the nation-wide group of ambitious women who are following the Iridor Plan to win financial independence and happiness.”
“From the Classroom” is a series that features some of the great work and research from students who visit our collections. Below is a blog by Allison Clark from Dr. Beth Yale’s class Transition from Manuscript to Print (HIST: 4920:0001).
Insights Gained Regarding Illustrations in Books of Hours
By Allison Clark
Entering Special Collections for the first time can be, to put it plainly, intimidating. That is to say that no one wants to be the person who accidentally tears a page, leaves a smudge, or, heaven forbid, forgets to wash their hands. But, after a couple visits, familiarity starts to sink in. Suddenly, you instinctively go to wash your hands before handling a book and you know where to turn the page to avoid damage (spoiler: in the middle, not the corner). Once you have moved past the initial feelings of intimidation and take the opportunity to study a book intimately, Special Collections & Archives is a fantastic resource for learning on campus, as I have come to learn. The following are the results from my time spent in Special Collections & Archives, specifically my encounters with three books:Book of Hours of Martine Sesander (xMMs.Bo10), Book of Hours(xMMs.Bo5), and Ces Presentes Heueres (BX2080.A2 1502). My research focuses on the insights that each of these books offers into different practices and aspects relating to illustrations in books of hours.
Books of hours were Christian prayer books that allowed lay people to participate in the liturgy, and they evolved from the books that clergy, monks, and nuns would use for reciting prayers throughout the day. They were extremely popular in their day and have been described as a “best-seller in medieval and early modern Europe” (Reinburg). Initially, they were “given as gifts to the noble patrons of monasteries and convents” (Reinburg). Later on, once lay people began to have more control over their circulation, books of hours began to be commissioned by the wealthy. As usership increased, they were essentially divided into two groups: the luxurious, heavily illuminated manuscripts and the less decorated and thoughtfully designed manuscripts. Then, once the technology of printing was introduced, books of hours became even more accessible, though the appearance of them eventually changed, including the illustrations. The illustrations in books of hours are a particularly integral part of these devotional books. Illustrations served three primary functions. First, they were decorative and “added to the book’s value and splendor” (Reinburg). They also added structure and aided those who were illiterate, guiding the reader through the book. Finally, they were devotional and “offered a focus for prayer and meditation” (Reinburg). Essentially, illustrations would have functioned as “painted prayers” (University of Glasgow Special Collections). Since illustrations in books of hours are so important, there is a lot to learn surrounding different aspects and practices associated with them, as is evidenced by Book of Hours of Martine Sesander, Book of Hours, and Ces Presentes Heueres.
Book of Hours of Martine Sesander (xMMs.Bo10)
Book of Hours of Martine Sesander (xMMs.Bo10) is a small manuscript from 1465 written in Latin. According to the University of Iowa Libraries catalog, this book likely came from Belgium, a likelihood based on the saints mentioned in the book. There is a gold inscription in the back of the book that identifies an early user as Martine Sesander, thus the title. It has striking dark green cover with gold details and is highly illustrated with features illuminated throughout the book, floral decorations in the margins, and six full-page miniatures. Book of Hours of Martine Sesander (xMMs.Bo10) stands out because there is evidence of the physical ritual of kissing and rubbing images in this book of hours. What is particularly interesting about books of hours, is the personal relationship that users had with these books, and this relationship is seen in the act of rubbing and kissing devotional manuscripts, which was a common practice. Christians “kissed images in their prayer books, just as the priest would have kissed the missal during Mass” (Rudy). Furthermore, readers were selective about which images they would rub or kiss. Looking closely at the illustration of Mary and Jesus, there are signs of wear over Jesus’s left shoulder where the paint has been rubbed away. This suggests one user of this book was drawn to this illustration, which begs the question of why this one? When looking at signs of wear, the illustrations in books of hours, like this one, offer a unique look into the religious lives and devotional practices of their owners.
Book of Hours (xMMs.Bo5)
This book of hours is hard to miss with its bright pink leather cover and white leather clasp, which was rebound in 1998 by Pam Spitzmeuller. It is a French parchment manuscript written in Latin. According to the library catalog, Book of Hours (xMMs.Bo5) was made in the second half of the fifteenth century in France, determined by the inclusion of the Paris calendar. This book has vibrant capitals in gold and blue and decoration in the margins, with illumination throughout. The illustrations in this book, or rather lack thereof, offer insight into the practice of cutting up manuscripts for their decorations. Sadly, this book only has one full page illustration of Mary remains. The floral designs in the margins have also been mutilated. Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly, the nature of this manuscript is not uncommon, according to librarian Christopher de Hamel. It seems there are a variety of reasons for cutting up manuscripts. For instance, there are stories of libraries giving out clippings from pages as gifts to visitors. There are also cases of children cutting out initials and using them to practice spelling out their names, which is almost amusing, save the destruction of artwork. In addition, manuscript owners would cut up their own books to display them in a portfolio or album, like a scrapbook. Of course, clippings are also sold, and sellers would create albums of manuscript clippings for buyers. These clippings would sell for such high prices that it would have been tempting not to partake in this destruction.
“The deliberate destruction of any unique work of art can only be regarded as unforgivable vandalism.”
-Christopher de Hamel, July 1995
The practice of selling leaves or clippings out of manuscripts continues, although collectors rarely admit to cutting up their own manuscripts and pass the blame onto previous owners (de Hamel). To play devil’s advocate, there are reasons that this practice could potentially be justified. Clippings and leaves allow for manuscripts to be more accessible to more people, since it is easier for libraries and museums to purchase single sheets as opposed to an entire book. They also are easier to store, conserve, and exhibit. And, of course, there is the economic argument, as clippings do sell well. This being said, the practice does remain controversial, and some, such as de Hamel, cannot excuse it. Of course, it should be noted that the manuscript was already in this condition when purchased by the University of Iowa. The damage has been done, but even this damage provides information on book users and the practice of cutting up manuscripts.
Ces Presentes Heures (BX2080.A2 1502)
Ces Presentes Heures (BX2080.A2 1502) is a French book of hours written in Latin with four leaves of French prayers at the end. It has a wooden cover with a leather clasp, and the initials have been stylized in blue and red paint. Ces Presentes Heures (BX2080.A2 1502) is different than the other books of hours discussed above because it is a printed book and not a handwritten manuscript. However, Ces Presentes Heures (BX2080.A2 1502) is printed on parchment, which indicates an overlap of manuscript and printing practices. Therefore, this book offers insight into the effect that the printing industry had on books of hours.
The new technology of printing did not eliminate manuscripts. While the invention of print did make books of hours more accessible to laypeople, manuscript books of hours continued to be produced and remained popular well after the invention of printing (Reinburg). In addition, there is evidence of scribes copying printed books into manuscripts, showing how scribal work continued to be valued well into the era of printing (Drimmer). Initially, printed books of hours were even created to look like manuscripts, as we can see with the blue and red lettering found within the book.
Eventually, they began to take their own form and started to feature heavily illustrated borders and many full-page illustrations (Reinburg). This is seen in Ces Presentes Heures (BX2080.A2 1502), which is riddled with illustrations. Nearly every page has pictures in the margins as well as many full-page illustrations. It has been said, however, that “as a work of art, the book of hours lost some luster by moving into print” (Reinburg). It could also be suggested that perhaps the quantity of the images was to make up for the fact that they were printed, instead of hand illustrated, or to show off the new technology (Riordan). However, there is no doubt that the illustrations in Ces Presentes Heures (BX2080.A2 1502) are extremely detailed, which is arguably just as, if not more, impressive as the paintings in the manuscript copies.
One particularly interesting portion was a series of pages which showed the character Death, depicted as a skeleton, coming to take away all different kinds of people, including powerful figures like a king and the Pope. One cannot help but wonder (how readers would feel seeing these images of Death escorting representations of themselves to the next life. Due to the fact that this book is printed on parchment and includes hand-drawn elements on the lettering, Ces Presentes Heures (BX2080.A2 1502) acts as an example for how printing did not completely replace the traditions of manuscript books.
These three books, each reveal different aspects of illustrations in books of hours. The worn illustrations of Book of Hours of Martine Sesander (xMMs. Bo10) disclose a glimpse into the religious life and habits of its reader and demonstrate the personal relationship owners had with their books of hours. The mutilated pages of Book of Hours (xMMs. Bo5) make plain the evolving relationship with these books and the ever so controversial practice of cutting up manuscripts. And, finally, the detailed illustrations and parchment pages of Ces Presentes Heures (BX2080.A2 1502) offer insight into the transition and overlap between manuscript and print. Each of these books offers a unique look into the past and how illustrations in books of hours were used, abused, and changed overtime.
de Hamel, Christopher. “Cutting Up Manuscripts for Pleasure and Profit.” Rare Book School Lectures. Lecture, July 1995.
Drimmer, Sonja. “Introduction: The Manuscript Copy and the Printed Original in the Digital Present.” Digital Philology: A Journal of Medieval Cultures 9, no. 2 (2020).
“Fifteenth Century Book of Hours.” University of Glasgow Special Collections, December 2006. <https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/library/files/special/exhibns/month/dec2006.html>
Reinburg, V. (2012). French books of hours : Making an archive of prayer, c.1400–1600. ProQuest Ebook Central <https://ebookcentral.proquest.com>
Riordan, Elizabeth. Personal communication, University of Iowa Special Collections & Archives, March 30,2021.
Rudy, Kathryn M. “Kissing Images, Unfurling Rolls, Measuring Wounds, Sewing Badges and Carrying Talismans: Considering Some Harley Manuscripts Through the Physical Rituals
They Reveal.” British Library, 2011.
University of Iowa Library Catalog, “Book of Hours of Martine Sesander (Use of Rome)”.
University of Iowa Library Catalog, Catholic Church. (1499). Ces presentes heures a lusaig. de Tou : au long sans requerir.
University of Iowa Library Catalog, Spitzmueller, Pamela J., Ficke, Charles August, & University of Iowa. Libraries. Special Collections Department. (n.d.). Book of Hours, second half of the 15th century.
Wijsman, Hanno. Books in Transition at the Time of Philip the Fair. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2010.
“Willem Vrelant (Getty Museum).” The J. Paul Getty in Los Angeles.
The following is written by graduate student Bailey Adolph, who is processing the Sam Hamod Papers.
“Thus, we gain richness from our heritage—but we should not be limited as writers by our ethnicity.”
—Sam Hamod, “Ethos and Ethnos: The Ethnic Writer in the USA”
At the beginning of the summer, the University of Iowa Special Collections & Archives acquired the papers of Sam Hamod, a revered Arab American poet and graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Hamod is known for his unique perspective that comes through in his poetry and gives the reader insight into the Arab American experience.
The papers came in eight boxes, and once staff started to unpack and organize them into sections, Hamod’s rich story began to be revealed. Though the collection mostly consists of poetry and prose, several documents shed light on all parts of his life: his childhood, his college days, his time as a professor, and his experiences in the Arab American community. There is much more to be uncovered, but the following is intended to serve as a foundation for further discussion of Sam Hamod as a poet and member of the community.
Sam Hamod was born in a boarding house hotel, owned by his parents, in Gary, Indiana in 1936. His father immigrated to the US from Syria sometime between 1914 and 1920, and his mother was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa to parents who immigrated from Syria to the US around 1905. He states that “my earliest recollections are of my father, mother and maternal grandfather, plus a lot of guys who roomed at the hotel and ate with us— gandy dancers, railroad firemen and engineers, open hearth workers— everything— and from every nationality in the world.” Men would come to stay at their boarding house hotel while they worked in the steel mills and railroads around Gary and Chicago which allowed him to hear different languages and dialects throughout his childhood. In one of his writings titled Growing Up In Iowa: Days of Arabs, Apple Cider and Dreams, he describes an incident in which he did not know how to fix something on a car, but his cousin did, which embarrassed him. However, he goes on to state:
“I always felt bad, but later I rationalized, or maybe it was the truth, that my cousin was raised in that business and liked it and therefore knew more about cars– and he did know a lot more than I did. As for me, I felt I knew more about people than cars, partly because I’d been raised my first four years in a boarding house hotel, and because I enjoyed talking with people more than fixing cars.”
His upbringing in the boarding house, and later in his father’s tavern, allowed him to be around people all the time, setting the foundation for his writing as an adult.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Hamod spent many summers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, working for the family business and going to the Islamic Mosque to learn Arabic and about his parents’ religion. He went on to pursue his education by getting his bachelor’s degree in communications and business in 1957. Though he initially started law school, Hamod left and returned to Gary, Indiana to own and run the Broadway Lounge from 1958 to 1959. However, after two years, he gave the bar to his father and pursued a master’s degree from Northwestern University. When describing his experience and the Broadway Lounge itself, Hamod states that it was, “a roughhouse type of place, but big and fast, and I had B.B. King and Muddy Waters play on weekends. Even old Redd Foxx told his dirty jokes there. But it got to be too much hassle, so I went back and earned an MA then began teaching at universities. During this time I also did some traveling in and over the world, got married, and had two children (David and Laura).”
Hamod returned to Iowa when he started at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, graduating from the program in 1973. He has said that his poetry did not really come alive until he started the program and met certain individuals.
“Anselm Hollo, Jack Marshall and some other friends believed in me, and after some crucial things happened in my life, some good poems came out on paper. Also meeting David Kherdian, and hearing him talk through his big, black, bushy mustache— the meeting of the Arab poet with the American poet— once again proved to me that my blood was an important source for my poetry.”
Since the 1960s, he published several books of poetry and appeared in dozens of anthologies. Additionally, he was nominated for two Nobel Prizes, once in Literature and once in Poetry, and his book, Dying With the Wrong Name, won the Ethnice Heritage Award in 1980 and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He also taught at several universities including Howard University, the University of Michigan, Rider University, and Princeton University, where he would teach creative writing as well as lectures about the Middle East and Islam.
The following is written by Asian Alumni and Student Oral History Project Intern Jin Chang
This a multi-part series reconstructing the history of the Asian American Coalition, a pan-ethnic Asian American student group from 1998-2017. This first entry will trace out both the historical context preceding the founding of the organization as well as the initial meeting which would jumpstart the Asian American Coalition.
The University of Iowa has a long history of student organizations that serve Asian students, but prior to 1998, many of these organizations were based on a singular ethnicity or nationality, such as the Vietnamese Student Association, Taiwanese Student Association, and PERMIDAS, an Indonesian student organization. There were also student organizations that served facets of the Asian American community at the intersection of other identities and professional affiliations including the Asian American Women’s Group and the Asian American Law Student Association (now called the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association). Together, these organizations served specific communities in the wider umbrella term of Asian American.
While student led organizations provided informal support systems for Asian identifying students, institutional support for Asian Americans at the University of Iowa was severely lacking in the late 1990s. During this time, the University of Iowa hired the first Asian man in the University Counseling Center, Dr. Dau-shen Ju, who had received a counseling psychology PhD from the University of Iowa. One of his first assigned tasks was to help fill the gap of resources for Asian American students on campus. He decided to create a presentation that highlighted the lack of resources on campus titled “Asian Americans: Am I Invisible?” which drew a mix of roughly a dozen undergraduate and graduate students together ranging from MFA students in the Writers’ Workshop, PhD students in English and Communication Studies, and law school students.
Listen to Dr. Dau-shen Ju recount the lack of resources for Asian American students on campus in the fall of 1998:
Instead of Dr. Ju providing a formal presentation to this diverse group of students, they all sat in a circle together and began talking about their own Asian American experiences reflective of their induvial lives. This helped students recognize their shared experiences as Asian Americans on campus and in Iowa. The conversation in the group highlighted issues shared within the Asian American community including the invisibility that comes with living in a white/black racial binary and the lack of resources for Asian Americans at the University.
Here law student Ian Hirokawa describes what happened in that first meeting “Asian Americans: Am I Invisible” on September 21st 1998:
The students who initially attended Dr. Ju’s presentation would become the original leaders of the Asian American Coalition. This early meeting included Evelyn Ho, a Chinese American PhD student born in California who felt her Asian identity become uniquely racialized in Iowa in ways that never happened in California or Seattle where she went to college; Anthony Pham, a Vietnamese American undergraduate student raised in Iowa who felt he did not quite belong in the Vietnamese Student Association; Xuefan Sun a first generation immigrant from China who arrived to America at the age of fourteen who felt uniquely different from American Born Chinese (ABC’s) and the international students from China.
Hear Dr. Evelyn Ho share her memories of moving to Iowa and the racialization she experienced:
After the initial meeting, one graduate student in attendance, Ray Mescallado, suggested that the group meet again as there were many more conversations to be had. While the original cohort of members could not pinpoint the exact moment when they transitioned this informal discussion group into the Asian American Coalition as a student organization, this initial meeting was certainly the beginning of what would become a pan-ethnic umbrella organization for all Asian Americans at the University of Iowa.
The next blog will look at the early years of the Asian American Coalition.
The following is written by Public Services Librarian, Lindsay Moen
Today marks the 155th birthday of renowned children’s book author, Beatrix Potter. Potter was best known as the author and illustrator of cherished tales such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, and The Tailor of Gloucester. While Peter Rabbit might be the primary character people recognize today, Potter has many additional works credited to her name, which emphasizes her literary accomplishments.
At University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections & Archives, we are fortunate enough to hold a few treasures from the Beatrix Potter catalog. First and foremost is our copy of Potter’s privately printed The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which she published independently in 1901 after being turned down by at least six publishers. You can read more about our copy here.
As we commemorate Potter’s 155th birthday, our department has another reason to celebrate as we have welcomed some wonderful new Potter additions to our holdings. These new materials come from the personal collection of Kara Sewall, a longtime member of the Beatrix Potter Society and expert on Potter collectibles and merchandise. Longtime friend and fellow Beatrix Potter Society member, Kathy Cole, reflects that Kara “devoted her own time and resources to sharing her love of Beatrix Potter with others. She did this well before the days of the internet by typing and posting a ‘Potter-gram’ to update collectors of new items that became available.” (1)
Sewall passed away in February 2020, leaving behind a legacy in the Beatrix Potter world. We at Special Collections & Archives are very fortunate to hold a selection of materials from her personal collection. We know these materials will be appreciated by Peter Rabbit fans and researchers for years to come.
Sewall’s donation includes a lovely selection of new materials, but some highlights include copies of Sister Anne, and first editions of The Pie and the Patty Pan and Ginger and Pickles.
Sister Anne is Beatrix Potter’s version of the story of Bluebeard and is one of her lesser-known tales. This is primarily due to the book being illustrated by Katharine Sturges, rather than Potter herself. At the time of publication, Potter was 66 and her eyesight was too poor to complete the illustrations. This book was only published in the United States by David McKay Company in1932 and was the last of Beatrix Potter’s stories to be published in her lifetime. (2)
The first editions of The Pie and the Patty Pan and Ginger and Pickles are also wonderful additions to Iowa’s collection. These are prime examples of the variety involved in collecting Potter’s works. Both titles went through various publication changes. For example, for The Pie and the Patty Pan, the early printings have plain, mottled lavender endpapers, which were shortly replaced by an endpaper design featuring the pie and the patty-pan. The cover picture was then changed from a cat in a small circle, to one of Ribby, the cat sitting by the fire in a large circle. Our newly acquired copy is a first edition, and therefore features the cat in the portrait circle. (3)
We hope fans of Beatrix Potter and children’s books alike will enjoy these new additions to our collection.
Special Collections & Archives would like to thank Kathy Cole for facilitating this donation.
“Obituaries”. The Beatrix Potter Society Journal and Newsletter No. 152. The Beatrix Potter Society, May 2020, pp. 33.
2. Linder, Leslie. A History of the Writings of Beatrix Potter. Frederick Warne & Company, 1971, pp. 324-326.
3. Linder, Leslie. A History of the Writings of Beatrix Potter. Frederick Warne & Company, 1971, pp. 425.
The following is written by our Workplace Learning Connection summer intern Cassady Jackson
Stuart Travis (1868-1942) was an American artist who was accepted into art school in France during the latter half of the 19th century. He was just nineteen years old when he made the journey alone from New York to Europe. In his travel diary, housed in Special Collections & Archives, he tells the story of his travels to France, and all of the things he saw and thought while he was there, or at least the things that he remembered to write down.
He starts the diary during his voyage to London, England, aboard the USS Italy.Confined to the ship, he gives hour by hour updates as to what is happening aboard the ship and what the weather is like outside. He complains of the smell in the smoking room at night and counts down the hours until he falls seasick. He also illustrates many of his experiences. A personal favorite is the image he drew of himself standing near the door of the smoking room. The image captures the dimly lit cabin, and the way that his coat is blowing in the wind gives it a sort of eerie feeling.
Once he arrives in what he refers to as ‘Queens’-land, alternatively known as London, he continues to tell the stories of what is happening around him. According to Travis, he knew the ship had reached London because those above deck had begun to ring the bells. No longer confined to the ship, the frequency of his stories begin to decrease to only one entry a day. While he was in London he stayed with an old woman, someone he states as being a comfort to him, and he writes long entries about what he sees on the street and what his room is like in London.
Once he moves on to France, his entries become even shorter and further in between, but the stories become more interesting. His excitement about attending the academy is very apparent throughout his early entries in France. He loves the art he is doing, although he does often tell about his frustrations he has with each of his creations. He also despises drawing his own portrait. More specifically, he hates having to use a looking glass because it is, “impossible to paint through a looking glass,” and he puts off his portrait for other work.
Between his art-related complaints, he describes what a typical day would look like for a young man and his friends, in and out of school. He tells how they critique each other’s art before class starts, and their professors listen in to see what they are thinking. They each had a favorite figure model, male or female, and were always excited when they got to work with them. He is surrounded by many personalities and talks openly of all of them. He observes that some of the models are very aloof and the professors are very snarky, that he hates tourists, and he loves mimes. One of the mimes, a classmate of his, is able to wrestle himself, performing while others gather around him and watch. Travis was so impressed that he illustrated the experience.
Despite the excitement of his travels, Travis’s entries reveal some hints of homesickness. Many of the entries, especially those in the beginning and end, mention the number of letters he has written home. He says he has written dozens of letters to those back in America, but has yet to have one be returned. He hopes that if he continues to write to his family, one day one of the letters will be answered, but he never mentions whether or not anyone wrote back to him. The longer he stays in Europe, the less he writes in his diary as well. There are many empty sections of the journal, some that are dated, and some that are not. He also leaves room in some entries for an illustration of the day, but never gets around to filling them in. There are also days that he has written in the middle of the page, leaving room for the days before and after that he never got around to completing. These are actions maybe all of us have been guilty of in our own journaling.
The end of his diary leaves many questions as to what happened next in his life, even the end of the trip is not included. The very last entry is just a pencil drawing of a bird in a cage, hanging in his suite on the voyage home. This drawing feels as unfinished as Travis’ diary, as the majority of the images he included before it are in ink. This leaves one to wonder what could have happened to Travis after this diary project was abandoned.
The following was written by Olson Graduate Assistant Rich Dana, and curator of the Spirit Duplicators exhibit in Special Collections & Archives reading room
During my three and a half years at Special Collections, I have worked with an amazing range of materials, but my major projects have focused on first, the James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Collection of Science Fiction, and more recently The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry. As I became more familiar with these and other collections of documents from the realms of both science fiction fandom and the 20th Century Avant-Garde, I began to notice remarkable similarities in the publications of both cultural movements.
I began thinking about a potential exhibit of these zines and chapbooks, and when I sheepishly mentioned this notion to Marvin Sackner in a telephone conversation, he became very excited. “If you could prove a direct connection between fanzines and visual poetry, you would really have something!” He told me that he considered the final pages of Alfred Bester’s 1956 science fiction classic The Stars My Destination to be one of his first experiences with visual poetry.
Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl, published by City Lights Books in 1956, brought “Beat Poetry” to the attention of the world and helped to spark a new literary movement. But before Lawrence Ferlinghetti published the now-famous Pocket Poets book, there was another edition of Howl printed: a 25 copy run off on a “ditto” machine by Marthe Rexroth in an office at San Francisco State College.
Pre-digital office copiers like the ditto machine (spirit duplicator), mimeograph, hectograph, and tabletop offset press freed 1960’s radical artists and writers from the constraints of the publishing industry and brought the power of the printing press to The People. These writers/publishers of the period, like Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Diane DiPrima, d.a. levy, and Ed Sanders were not the first to use cheap copying technology to produce “democratic multiples,” however.
Blue-collar teenage fans of far-fetched adventure stories had been creating an international network of amateur “fanzines” since well before World War II. From where did the young fans of the fledgling genre of “scientifiction” draw their influences? Undoubtedly, they were imitating the cheaply printed monthly “pulp” magazines with titles like Amazing Stories and Weird Tales. Also, in the zeitgeist of the new industrial age were the seeds of political, cultural, and artistic revolt. Marcel Duchamp arrived in New York along with a wave of immigrants fleeing WWI and the Russian Revolution, which soon also carried the two-year-old Isaac Asimov to Ellis Island. Like a sine wave on a mad scientist’s oscilloscope, the aesthetics of “highbrow” artists and writers and “lowbrow” outsider zine publishers resonated and reflected each other through the 20th Century.
Self-published chapbooks, underground comics, flyers, and fanzines served as proving grounds for many of the 20th century’s most influential creators. However, the “Mimeograph Revolution” remains a little-examined artistic movement, considered by many to be the realm of “lowbrow” or “outsider” amateurs unworthy of serious research. Yet a closer look at the work of many copier artists reveals a high level of technical sophistication and profound social commentary. The works featured in this exhibit introduce viewers to the vibrant American amateur press scene of the early and mid-20th century, and the media that influenced it.
Much like the internet today, duplicators played an essential role in the development of pop culture genres like science fiction, comic books, and rock and roll, as well as avant-garde art movements like Fluxus, pop art, and concrete poetry.
French symbolist Alfred Jarry was the first to influence both the development of science fiction (SF) and the avant- garde. He wrote time-travel stories alongside his friend H.G. Wells and set the stage for Dada with the production of his revolutionary play, Ubu Roi. The turn of the century marked a new obsession with technological development. The newly-built Eifel Tower stood as a monument to the modernist ideal, while Thomas Edison introduced the first mimeograph at the World’s Fair. The Futurist art movement rejected the past in favor of techno-utopianism. Early SF fans like Myrtle Douglas (Morojo) embraced these radical ideas, as reflected in the design of her Esperanto fanzine Guteto (Droplet.) WWII and the rise of technocracy brought much of this idealism to an end.
The avant-garde primarily used duplicators like the hectograph and the mimeograph as a cheap alternative to “better” printing methods like lithography. The true innovators in the use of copiers were an unlikely cohort; science fiction(SF) fandom. Young fans were creating amateur magazines (“fanzines”) imitating the cheaply printed “pulp” magazines like “Amazing Stories” and “Weird Tales.” The fanzines also featured cover art influenced by the graphic style of the avant-garde. For most fans, litho and letterpress printing were out of reach. For them, copiers like home made hecto gelatin pads were the only option. Hectograph and later “ditto” machines produced the distinctive purple copies using aniline dye inks.
The cross-over between SF fandom, artist books and poetry took place after WWII. Many SF fans returned from the war and attended college, thanks to the G.I. Bill. The university culture of Wichita, Kansas made it a key stop on the cross-country drives of beats like Allen Ginsberg, who titled a poem after a legend he picked up from the Wichita beatniks. The legend of Vortex originated with local beatnik poet (and SF fan) Lee Streiff in the pages of his Mar- tian Newsletter. Unlike other Wichita beat poets and artists, Lee Streiff never escaped the Wichita Vortex, where he taught English and continued to participate in fandom.
Every social justice movement of the 20th century relied on cheap copying technology, coupled with bold (and often crude) graphics to spread their message. Spirit duplicators, often called ditto machines, used a paper master sheet similar to carbon paper to print up to 40 purple or green copies before the master was depleted. The mimeograph, or stencil duplicator, also used a paper master sheet, but allowed the user to make more copies in a wide range of colors. The offset press, used to produce larger runs, is an offshoot of lithography and uses a flexible printing plate. This process is still used on a large scale for newspaper.
The following is written by Humanities for the Public Good Intern Patrick Johnson
Tom Brokaw is a name synonymous with journalism, and the journalism that many strive for. His career spans decades and his resume includes trips across several continents and countries, meetings with some of the most famous and infamous world leaders and covering some of the most well-known sporting events in American and world history. He even can say that he was at the Royal Wedding that was watched by more than 750,000 million people around the world.
Beyond the hours of television appearances and bylines, there are unique ways in which we can come to learn and know about Brokaw’s impressive list of journalistic endeavors. The Brokaw collection, located in the University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections & Archives, is one of those places where viewers can get a glimpse into the history of the world according to the accounts of one of America’s greatest journalistic icons. The collection itself includes artifacts,
correspondences, events, speeches, commentary, writings, awards, and so much more. The collection, known as The Papers of Tom Brokaw: A Life and Career, was donated to the University of Iowa by Brokaw. According to Emily Nelson in an IowaNow post, Brokaw’s time at Iowa (“where he attended the UI during his first year of college, from 1958-59″) led to these artifacts calling the land of the Hawkeyes home in 2016.
While the collection includes a significant number of items, one of the most important to a journalist, but relatively unknown or unimportant to others, are the extensive amount of press passes spanning Brokaw’s career.
That’s where I come in.
I am the fortunate one that gets to work with his passes thanks to my role as a fellow for the Humanities for the Public Good through the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies. My role as an intern with Special Collections & Archives, working directly with Liz Riordan (who curated and cultivated the collection as a School of Library and Information Science graduate student at the UI), the department’s Outreach and Engagement Librarian, is to immerse myself into the history of these significant material objects. The hopeful outcome: an interactive timeline that can be used as an educational tool.
Setting a Goal
The timeline that will come from this summer’s work is intended to be used for educational purposes, whether it is in classrooms or for research. We hope that what users will get out of this is an ability to interact with primary sources, see history through the lens of a journalist and recognize the role journalism plays in the telling of history.
Across the country, teachers are looking to utilize primary sources to teach students how to read and understand history. Teaching with primary sources is a requirement of the Common Core State Standards. The College Board utilizes primary sources to assess students on Advanced Placement exams. Being able to provide a place where students and teachers can see primary sources in action and being used for the purpose of learning is key to this project.
It is also important to recognize and showcase the intricate intersection of journalism and history. This project intends to show just that. Brokaw’s history as a journalist, and his press passes he used for the events he covered and participated in, represents a unique perspective on world history. He is attached to some of the most significant events and people. And the stories he told helped write the history we study. But, what’s unique about this project is that the press passes he used also tell that story. They just do so in a way that is unfamiliar to many. By reading his press passes and seeing where they belong, one can truly see history through the lens of a visual. This project attempts to do just that.
Thus far in the project, I’ve catalogued all of Brokaw’s press passes in the collection. I built a searchable database to hold several pieces of information associated with the project, including the press passes themselves. The database serves as a place for collaboration among a number of us working on this project, as well as a log for deadlines, questions and ideas. The timeline will include around 150 passes, from nearly 500 different files. They include Presidential trips, sporting and pop culture events and points of war. The passes are diverse and historical. They are both unique and shared. They are history.
At this moment in the project, the fanboy in me is entirely satisfied. Brokaw’s book Boom is what inspired me to be a journalism teacher, which in turn brought me to the place I am today. In getting to read and see his press passes, I feel that I am reliving history through Brokaw’s eyes. I’m getting to immerse myself into Nixon’s resignation, the return of Billie Jean King, the election of a number of presidents, several Olympics and a celebrity ski event. The world of history is coming alive each and every day I interact with Brokaw’s passes, and I cannot wait for you all to experience them as well.
The Hopeful Future: An Appendix to Brokaw’s History
Journalism is seen as the first draft of history. It is through journalistic works that we often come to know and learn about the world and the people around us. Journalism defines our collective memory. What Brokaw did was tell a draft of history that defined a generation. In some respects, I hope this project can serve as a second draft—a history of a history.
While I’m certainly not looking to tell Brokaw’s story, or even the history of the world, through this project, it can and should serve as an opportunity to see how journalism, and its material objects, can help us more deeply understand who we were, who we are and who we may become. Brokaw’s career wrote history for the masses; my job now is to help show that. This isn’t a revision or an edit of his history, but an appendix to develop that history further.
Starting July 1st, the Special Collections & Archives reading room will be returning to the walk-in access model. We will no longer require appointments to visit our space and use our materials. This summer, we welcome you to visit noon – 4:00pm, Monday through Friday. While you will not need an appointment, please note that we will be operating at 50% capacity. Please note, however, that we will still require appointments until June 25th. Special Collections & Archives will be closed June 28th – 30th, and July 5th.
It’s been a while, so here are some reminders to help you with the changes in our reading room.
–The Reading Room Visitor’s Guide is here to stay! This is your guide to stay up-to-date concerning accessing the Special Collections reading room. Contact information for other special collections reading rooms on campus, including the Iowa Women’s Archives, John Martin Rare Book Room, and Canter Rare Book Room, is also available on this page. Have a question, start here!
Access & Safety
-The Main Library has been open to the public since June 1st, 2021. University ID card swipe will no longer be required for entrance to the building.
-The University of Iowa has revised their face mask policy as of May 20th, 2021. If you are not fully vaccinated, you are strongly encouraged to continue wearing a mask and physically distancing on campus. If you are fully vaccinated, you should feel comfortable continuing to wear a mask if you choose, however it is not required.
-If you are feeling ill or experiencing symptoms of illness, please stay home. If you have materials on hold at the Special Collections, we will keep your materials on hold until you are able to return to the library to access them.
Notable Service Changes
-Patrons will again be able to request materials using their patron (Aeon) account. Please note that requests made within 24 business hours of your visit may not necessarily be pulled upon your arrival, and therefore we will page the materials for you on the spot. As always, patron accounts will be required to access Special Collections materials. Click here to create a patron account.
-To learn more about placing material requests, please use this guide. Not comfortable making an item request? No problem! We can help you on the spot, or staff can help you in advance of your visit. Please email us at email@example.com.
-We will be returning to our 6-item reading room limit. Please note that unlimited material requests may be placed in your patron (Aeon) account, and placed in your “user review” for easy submitting during your reading room visit. During your visit, once you finish with your first 6 items, we will promptly page your next 6 items and do our best to limit your waiting time in between requests.
-The scanner returns! We will be bringing back our overhead scanner, along with our two patron computers with flatbed scanners. But remember, these cannot be reserved.
-You will be able to access patron lockers again. Please remember that while using Special Collections materials, you will only be able to bring with you a laptop, phone, camera, and pencil into the reading room space. Bags, coats, notebooks, outside paper, pens, food, or drink is not allowed. We can provide pencils and special paper for your reading room visit if needed.
Preparing for the Fall Semester
-Beginning August 23rd, Special Collections will increase service hours to the following new schedule, again, walk-ins accepted.