After working in Special Collections for a while, we meet many people who leave a lasting impression on us—collectors, donors of papers, students, and researchers, among others, who devote countless hours to their work in these collections. In the midst of comings and goings, some individuals stand out, and one of them deserves special recognition.
It is with heavy hearts, but also fond memories, that we remember the time we spent with Lucy Hartmann, who passed away on June 22. We got to know Lucy during the time she spent working in Special Collections through the UI REACH program. Lucy was dedicated to her tasks in Special Collections, helping us with filing, sorting, cleaning books, and other duties that helped us to tackle some things that we may not have otherwise been able to resolve. Her contributions to our activities were real and meaningful, and the focus she applied to her work impressed us all. We were able to share some of our favorite items in the collections with her, and were delighted to be able to throw a party for her to commemorate her graduation from UI REACH.
I speak on behalf of the entire staff of Special Collections when I say that she will be missed, that her time with us will not be forgotten, and that her efforts are truly appreciated as we continue to go about our daily business. Her time in our department may have been relatively brief, but the impression she made on us is something that will endure with us for a long time to come.
Over the years that we have been involved with UI REACH, thanks to the efforts of our Department Manager Kathy Hodson, we have been fortunate to be able to work with, and learn from, people such as Lucy and former students Alex and Jeff. We look forward to continuing this relationship, and to remembering Lucy by extending opportunities to more students in the future.
Yesterday I walked into a meeting to discuss an upcoming exhibition we are putting together on World War II. On the book truck I pushed in front of me were several boxes from the papers of Stewart Stern. Stern was a World War II veteran, a survivor of the Battle of the Bulge, who went on to a long career as a Hollywood screenwriter (of films such as Rebel Without a Cause) and a teacher. My colleague who greeted me saw the boxes and said that Stewart had passed away, at the age of 92.
My heart immediately sank. Just this past summer Stewart had visited us from his home in Washington state, making the drive across the country with his wife. He came to visit us in the library where his papers are housed, to answer some lingering questions he had about his work that only his own papers could answer, and to see where his legacy was cared for. The visit with Stewart was the kind of occasion that makes this job among the most meaningful occupations a person could have—sitting with someone like Stewart, listening to his stories about Jimmy (James Dean), his days as an actor in theatrical productions at Iowa, about his friends from the war, experiences that still made him choke up so many decades later. He was thrilled to see his papers, and he was so full of life. When I asked if I could take his picture in the stacks as he surveyed his boxes, I thought I would get a nice shot of him smiling. Instead, as I pointed the camera, he sprang into action, sweeping his arms open to proudly display his life’s work. He laughed like a child.
After this meeting with Stewart, I thought about how enjoyable the experience was, and how much I looked forward to seeing him again. The sadness in knowing that will now not be possible is tempered by the knowledge that he entrusted us with his papers, and we have the ability, and the responsibility, to tell others of his accomplishments. This summer a piece or two from Stewart’s wartime papers will be on display in the University of Iowa’s Mobile Museum—please visit us if we are in your town, and help us remember the life of a fascinating man.
If you have been following any of our social media feeds over the past few days, you may have noticed photos popping up of newly-acquired incunables. So, what’s going on here? First, some background:
Incunables are books printed in Europe during the fifteenth century, between 1450 and 1501, examples of the earliest printed books. The incunabula period is the focus of a great deal of study—the development of printing, and how it affected the design, distribution, and reception of books, remains central to our understanding of book history.
Here at Iowa, we have long held a respectable collection of incunabula, and these books are frequently called for in classes and exhibitions. In recent years, these books have been examined extensively by Tim Barrett for his study of early papermaking, and Iowa is also home to the Atlas of Early Printing, an interactive overview of the spread and development of printing in Europe. The UI Center for the Book continues to pass along the art and craft of letterpress printmaking that first flourished in the incunabula period.
Our recent acquisitions are an attempt to add examples of books and subjects in the incunabula period that we have not had previously. This collection development has been made possible due to the support of the University Libraries acquisitions fund and the Libraries’ Collection Management Committee.
Special Collections Librarian Pat Olson took charge of this opportunity and identified an outstanding mix of possibilities that enhance our collection in many ways. Among these dozen new titles is the first illustrated edition of Dante printed in Venice. Until now, our incunables largely represented just a single language: Latin. The occasional ancient Greek was the only exception. Our new Dante, however, is in Italian, and so it’s one of our first incunables printed in a vernacular language. The other, also just acquired, is Monte dell’orazione, a private devotional text intended specifically for women. The copy we just acquired is particularly notable for retaining the very rare illustrated wrapper—or to risk oversimplification, the original illustrated paperback binding.
We filled one of our more significant gaps with the acquisition of our first 15th-century Bible, and in an early pigskin binding to boot. Another first for us is our first Spanish incunable, a book of music printed in red and black at Seville in 1494. We purchased our first 15th-century edition of Ovid, too, here in its original leather-covered wooden boards and retaining its original brass furniture. Early science has been another sparsely covered subject for us, so we acquired a lavishly illustrated astrological text. (NB: What passed for science in the 1400s may not pass for science today.) We also acquired a rather crude dialogue intended for children and the less sophisticated—a rare survival, insofar as such texts were less commonly printed and more commonly read to pieces.
In all cases, we sought books in early (if not original) bindings. Given the serious interest in early papermaking here at Iowa, we made it a point to pursue books with untrimmed leaves, which serve as uncommon witnesses to original paper sizes. We searched for books with valuable marginalia, interesting provenance, and varying degrees of decoration by hand. Most of these books do have early marginalia, an invaluable resource to support the growing scholarship on the history of reading. Perhaps the most remarkable in terms of provenance is a sammelband (multiple books bound together) printed by the famous scholar-printer Johann Amerbach. Our copy is not just a well preserved example of a 15th-century sammelband, but it contains an inscription noting its donation to a local monastery by the printer himself. As far as textual decoration is concerned, these new acquisitions run the gamut from crude DIY initials to professionally executed penwork and illumination.
There really is something for everyone, and we can’t wait to share them. Once they have been catalogued and properly housed, these books may be viewed by request in our reading room during regular hours. And keep an eye out for an announcement coming at a later date of an opportunity to view these new acquisitions in person, while learning about how incunables are being studied today.
Last week we opened, for the first time, a wooden shipping crate that had been stored in the department for many years. It had been sent to the Libraries in 1986 by Desmond Leigh-Hunt, the great-great-grandson of the Romantic poet and editor Leigh Hunt. Desmond Leigh-Hunt described it in correspondence as the fireplace surround from the last home Leigh Hunt lived in, at 16 Rowan Road in Hammersmith, London. He included a document signed by Rodney Tatchell, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, asserting its authenticity and dating it to the early 1840s. After it arrived the crate was stored, unopened, primarily in the basement of the Main Library.
In 2012 we moved all of our departmental collections out of the basement to the third floor, including the 300 pound crate. We resolved to open it and examine its contents, and the winter doldrums of January seemed the perfect time to do so. The opening and unpacking is well documented in photos, which can be viewed on Flickr.
We have managed to arrange some of the pieces into an approximation of what the fireplace surround might have looked like, but what does this piece tell us about Leigh Hunt? Does it bring us closer to the real person whose books and manuscripts line our shelves?
To tell the story, we start back in the presence of Rodney Tatchell, whose signature affirms the statement about the fireplace surround at the time of its removal from the house. Tatchell was a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and he lived at 22 Rowan Road, the same street as Leigh Hunt’s old house. His wife, Molly Tatchell, shared his interest in their historical neighbor—in 1969 she published a book through the Hammersmith Local History Group entitled Leigh Hunt and His Family in Hammersmith. Her book provides an account of the final years of Leigh Hunt’s life, and includes detailed descriptions of his house at 16 Rowan Road (known as 7 Cornwall Road in Hunt’s time):
“[Regarding the cottages] no two are exactly the same. One type has two small reception rooms on the ground floor divided by a passage with staircase, the other has two larger rooms connected by double doors, so that they can be thrown into one: Leigh Hunt’s was one of this type. They have three or four bedrooms, the small one over the kitchen now being usually converted into a bathroom. The houses originally had, of course, no bathroom, and the privy was situated outside, near the back door.
“Such was Leigh Hunt’s simple, but not undignified, last home. Some of his visitors were to describe it in unflattering terms, but from what we can see of it today, and from what we know of its surroundings in the mid-nineteenth century, it cannot have been an unpleasant place in which to end one’s days.” [p. 10]
Leigh Hunt and his wife Marianne moved to Hammersmith in 1853, leaving behind a house in Kensington steeped in the memories of a deceased son, and into a house near other family already settled in the area. Leigh Hunt was 69, had made peace with many of his former foes, and finally could rely on a relatively secure income. Marianne, however, was by this time entirely bed-ridden, and remained so until her death in 1857. As he aged, Hunt took on the air of an esteemed elder statesman of letters, in contrast to his youthful rebellion. He welcomed visitors to the house at 16 Rowan Road, including those who travelled from afar to see him, such as Nathanial Hawthorne.
One of Hunt’s visitors in Hammersmith was Charles Dickens, who had bitterly wounded Hunt with his portrayal as Harold Skimpole in Bleak House. The two had reconciled their differences, however, and Dickens visited Hunt on July 3, 1855. The following day, he wrote to his longtime friend Charles Ollier:
“I had got my new book ready packed to bring you, and the volume containing the passage about Watteau, and an account of some delightful hours which Dickens gave me here yesterday evening; and at a quarter to six o’clock, was obliged to give all up. “
“P.S.—By a curious effect of the evening sunshine, my little black mantle-piece, not an inelegant structure, you know in itself, is turned, while I write, into a solemnly gorgeous presentment of black and gold. How rich are such eyes as yours and mine, how rich and how fortunate, that can see visitations so splendid in matters of such nine-and-twopence!” [The Correspondence of Leigh Hunt, 1862, p. 203]
Now the pieces of black slate with inlaid marble here in Special Collections are tied directly back to Leigh Hunt. He would have been in the front room of his house, the window facing west, allowing the late afternoon sun to shine in and strike the fireplace surround. Curiously, it seems as though we have two complete fireplace surrounds, suggesting that there could have been openings in two rooms sharing a common chimney. This might be reasonable given Molly Tatchell’s description of the house’s layout, “two larger rooms connected by double doors, so that they can be thrown into one.”
For now, the pieces of Leigh Hunt’s fireplace will likely be re-housed in more stable materials, perhaps stored in several boxes rather than one very heavy crate. They will join some of the letters of Leigh Hunt, or the manuscript for Old Court Suburb—other material traces of Hunt’s time in his modest home in Hammersmith, at the end of a remarkable life. Perhaps some future renovation of Special Collections will include room to properly display the fireplace surrounds—but surely that is a matter of nine-and-twopence!
Molly Tatchell’s book Leigh Hunt and His Family in Hammersmith is still available from the Fulham and Hammersmith Historical Society’s website.
The U.S. launched its first satellite, Explorer I, on this day 55 years ago, on January 31, 1958. Under the direction of Prof. James A. Van Allen of the University of Iowa’s Department of Physics, the satellite carried a payload of data-gathering equipment which eventually revealed the presence of radiation belts encircling the earth.
Our observation of this anniversary is bittersweet this year, as one of the Explorer I team’s most dedicated developers, George Ludwig, died at his Winchester, Virginia, home on Jan. 22 at the age of 85.
George Ludwig was a doctoral candidate working on the project with Prof. Van Allen at the time, and he kept a journal chronicling the events. In his entry made at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 1, 1958, he declared:
“Success!! The first U.S. satellite is in orbit. It looks like a good one. … At about 12:41 (Eastern Standard Time) west coast stations started reporting signals. So it was around the earth once! … And so to sleep – the end of a beautiful day.”
Mr. Ludwig, a Johnson County, Iowa native who completed his doctoral dissertation in 1960, went on to a distinguished career with the Goddard Space Flight Center, and later helped lead the effort to establish the National Earth Satellite Service during the 1970s. In 1981 he became director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Environmental Research Laboratories, a position he held for two years before returning to NASA. He retired in 1984.
His papers are now housed in the University Archives. In addition, the original data he gathered and analyzed from Explorer I, the first scientific data ever transmitted from space, is being digitized and will be made available online in its original raw form. Mr. Ludwig was part of a small, select group of space exploration pioneers whose research laid the foundation for today’s understanding of our planet, our solar system, and beyond.
This morning I was a guest on Iowa Public Radio’s Talk of Iowa program, where we discussed Thanksgiving recipes, cookbooks, and traditions. You can listen to an archived version of the program here. Below are links to some of the items from Special Collections that were discussed on the show.
Of course carving the fowl is often one of the most challenging steps of the Thanksgiving meal. Look no further than this copy of Pierre Petit’s carving manual of 1647, which has been extensively modified with manuscript additions and drawings:
Two events with deep ties to history take place over the next week, and you can stop in to the Special Collections & University Archives reading room now to see a piece related to each.
On Sunday, June 3, a celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee features a procession of over 1,000 boats on the Thames river in London. While infrequent in recent history, processions on the Thames were once a popular way of commemorating public events in London. On view is the first issue of the Illustrated London News. The newspaper’s famous header image features a view of a water procession on the Thames as a part of the Lord Mayor’s Day.
On Tuesday, June 5, observers around the world will witness this century’s last transit of Venus, when the planet Venus is visible crossing the face of the sun. The transit is a rare event—the next will occur in 2117. In centuries past, the transit was an important scientific tool, as observations were gathered from different parts of the globe to determine the distance between the earth and the sun. Governments sponsored elaborate expeditions to gather observations. James Cook was sent by the Royal Academy to Tahiti to record his observations. On display is an engraving from Sydney Parkinson’s A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, in His Majesty’s Ship, the Endeavour from 1773, which depicts the fort from which Cook and his scientists observed the 1769 transit.
This week the University of Iowa Libraries is pleased to announce the acquisition of the James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Collection of Pulps, Fanzines, and Science Fiction Books. The original press release can be viewed here.
Rusty Hevelin passed away on December 27, 2011 after an illness. He was a science fiction fan, pulp collector, huckster (a dealer at conventions), and voracious reader for most of his 89 years. He hitchhiked to his first science fiction convention in Denver in 1941. The convention was called Denvention, and it was the third World Science Fiction Convention (the cons known as World Cons). He was the Fan Guest of Honor at Denvention 2 in 1981, and was a presenter at the Hugo Awards ceremony at Denvention 3 in 2008 (photo below from Keith Stokes).
To get a sense of what Rusty’s collection is like, it is helpful to get a sense of what Rusty himself was like. Those who knew Rusty were always impressed by his remarkable memory, and his many years as a science fiction fan made him the stereotypical “walking encyclopedia” of fandom. His early years as a fan, convention attendee, and fanzine writer and publisher were spent in the company, and often personal friendship, of great science fiction writers like Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Frederik Pohl, Lester Del Rey, and many others. He witnessed the evolution of fandom, the adoption of science fiction by mainstream entertainment companies, and many other changes over the course of his lifetime.
There are several sources online for more details on Rusty’s life:
Gay Haldeman’s bio of Rusty for the Demicon 20 program book: link
Rusty’s collection is now here at the University of Iowa, but Rusty’s connections with the state go back much further. He was one of the founders of the state’s two ongoing science fiction conventions, Icon in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area, and DemiCon in Des Moines.
We will be highlighting many of the interesting items in the collection in the months (and likely years) to come as we begin to unbox and process the collection. Watch this space for future announcements, and also keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages. You will also soon be able to subscribe to our upcoming email newsletter.
Our new exhibit in the departmental cases is now open. It focuses on the ITV/PBS series Downton Abbey, which is currently in its second season on Masterpiece Theater. The exhibition can be viewed on the third floor of the Main Library anytime the building is open. The items on display include books mentioned in the dialogue from the show, as well as books on household customs, World War I, and the English aristocracy, all selected to bring the era depicted in the show to life.
Special thanks are due to Pete Balestrieri for conducting the research for the exhibition.
Here is a list of the items in the exhibition. An asterisk means the title or author was mentioned in dialogue from the series.
Elisabeth Balch, Glimpses of Old English Homes, 1890
Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1861
*Burke’s Landed Gentry, 1937
*Elizabeth von Arnim, Elizabeth and Her German Garden, 1900
*Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World, 1912
*H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, 1898
*Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, 1940 edition
*Photoplay magazine, 1919
*J.A.R. Marriott, England Since Waterloo, 1918
*G.A. Henty, St. George for England: A Tale of Cressy and Poitiers, 1900
Journal des dames et des modes, 1914
English Illustrated Magazine, 1912
Play Pictorial, 1916
Florence Hull Winterburn, Principles of Correct Dress, 1914
John Buchan, Battle of the Somme, 1915
Edmund Blunden, Undertones of War, 1928
Hallie Eustace Miles, Economy in War Time, 1915
Illustrated War News, 1916
Baron Dunsany, Tales of War, 1918
Siegfried Sassoon, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, 1930
The Sinn Fein Rebellion Handbook, 1917
Edmund Blunden, manuscript letter to Cambridge Magazine and draft of the poem “The Hawthorn Lane,” 1917
Illustrated London News, 1923 (depicting the discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen by Lord Carnarvon of Highclere Castle, the English country house where Downton Abbey is filmed).
The first of several new Civil War acquisitions arrived yesterday: 11 diaries written by William Henderson, who served as part of the “University Recruits” in Company C, 12th Iowa Regiment. He and his fellow students from Upper Iowa University mustered in Oct. 4, 1861. He went on to serve at Fort Donelson, Corinth, Vicksburg, Jackson, and others.
Henderson’s entry from 150 years ago today, October 26, 1861: “Dubuque Co. Iowa. I was released from Guard duty at 9 o’clock. It reminded me more than anything else of the responsibility of our position and the stern realities of war.”
We will be posting more about this collection in days to come, and all of the diaries will be scanned and added to the Civil War Diaries & Letters digital collection.