Sense and Sensibility

It has been two hundred years since a book was published in England “By a Lady,” entitled Sense and Sensibility. On October 30, 1811, Jane Austen’s first novel was published, creating a literary phenomenon that continues to this day. Join us in the Special Collections reading room on the third floor of the Main Library on Friday, October 28 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm, when we will celebrate this event with an informal gathering. Our copy of the first edition of Sense and Sensibility will be out for viewing, along with a few other Austen pieces. End your week with some good books and good company.

Civil War transcription – The Winslows

As part of the roll-out of our expanded Civil War transcription project (see the announcement here) we tweeted a letter written by Ferdinand S. Winslow to his four year old son, William Herman. Several of our readers have wondered what became of the Winslows after the war, and the story is actually quite interesting.

Ferdinand Winslow was a Quartermaster during the war, serving at various ranks and taking on progressively greater responsibilities. He also seems to have been a dedicated family man, as the letter to “Herman” demonstrates. During the war Ferdinand and his wife Wilhelmina conceived another child, and Ferdinand was so eager to be with his family when the birth was imminent that he attempted to resign his post multiple times, writing with increasing desperation to Mina in hopes that he would join her soon. Unfortunately, the letters in our collection stop just before we learn if he was successful. The child was born in 1863 while the family was in St. Louis. Two more children came in 1866 and 1868—sadly, all three of these children died before reaching age 10. Ferdinand seems to have lived on for a good many years–there is some evidence he eventually settled in New York City.

William Herman, who received the letter from his father with the ring to kiss, went on to form a company with his brother, Francis, called Winslow Brothers Ornamental Iron Works. They were responsible for much of the decorative iron work that can still be seen around Chicago today, such as the façade to the Carson Pirie Scott building. William Herman Winslow, through his association with Louis Sullivan, befriended a young Frank Lloyd Wright, and commissioned Wright to design his home in River Forest, IL.  Winslow and Wright set up a printing press in the basement and produced several private press books, including the significant piece House Beautiful, designed by Wright. The house is still standing today, a testament to a remarkable family that persevered through the Civil War and took part in the building of Chicago.

In Memory of Ming Wathne

We are sad to note the passing of Ming Wathne, who donated her extensive collection of science fiction fanzines to the University of Iowa Libraries in 2009. For many years Ming ran the Fanzine Archive, a lending library for fanzines related primarily to media properties such as Star Wars and Star Trek. Her collection has a fascinating story behind it, and we are honored to continue her work by preserving and providing access to these materials.

To explore the collection, please see our finding aid, and you can read more about Ming at her Fanlore entry.

Several fans have organized an effort to provide memorials in support of the collection. If you are interested in participating, please follow these instructions:

Gifts in memory of Ming Wathne may be made by sending your check made out to The University of Iowa Foundation to:

The University of Iowa Foundation
Levitt Center for University Advancement
One West Park Road
P.O. Box 4550
Iowa City  IA 52244-4550

Please note on your check “In memory of Ming Wathne.”

These gifts will be credited to The University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections Fund, for the growth and maintenance of her fanzine collection, and to support joint activities with the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW), whose Open Doors project to preserve fanzine history assisted in bringing Ming’s collection to the University of Iowa Libraries.

Hoover Collection of Science Fiction Fanzines

Special Collections announces a new and valuable addition to its growing collections of zines and of science fiction fandom-related materials: the Debbie Hoover Fanzine Collection.  Hoover is a longtime SF fan based in Salem, Oregon who has graciously donated her collection of fan fiction, which spans from the 1970s through the early 2000s.

Fan fiction has long been a popular method by which fans of a particular book, movie, or television series interact with the universes portrayed in those media in a creative way.  Fans frequently will write stories or poems, or create artwork, that chronicle new adventures in the lives of their favorite characters or shine new light on those characters’ inner lives. 

Most of the Hoover Collection’s materials concern the first incarnation of the Star Trek television series (1966-1969). Other significant portions of the collection are based around the cult science fiction TV shows The Sentinel (1996-1999) and Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007). Media with smaller number of zines written about them include the Star Wars movie series (1977-2005), and the TV shows Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (1993-1997) and Starsky and Hutch (1975-1979). Even smaller numbers of zines involve other movies and television shows.

The Hoover Collection is an important source of information on the social phenomenon of science fiction fandom, which has achieved an important place in American popular culture in the 20th and 21st centuries. The media chronicled in the Hoover materials (as well as in the Libraries’ other fandom-related archival collections) have been significant in the lives and hearts of many people; the Hoover collection preserves the creative impact that these media have on their fans. – Jeremy Brett, Project Archivist

Below: This zine was produced in 1980, between the release of the first and second Star Wars films.  Star Wars fan fiction began production as early as the late 1970s, as soon as the Star Wars phenomenon exploded into popular culture. SW fiction is interesting as an example of the ways in which dedicated fans try on their own to explore what may only have been hinted at in the original product. Fans enthusiastically expanded on character backgrounds, plot back stories, and other aspects of the SW universe, many of which, of course, were “officially” negated after the release of the Star Wars prequel trilogy (1999-2005).

“It is a dangerous thing to make presents to poets”

Special Collections has recently acquired a new letter to add to the Brewer-Leigh Hunt Collection.  This letter, written by Leigh Hunt to Vincent Novello in 1816, highlights Hunt’s close relationship with the noted composer and serves as a primary example of Hunt’s early correspondence.  In it, Hunt talks of visiting Novello and of the gifts ladies send him, to which he declares “…it is a dangerous thing to make presents to poets.”  Hunt’s extensive correspondence reveals an intimate knowledge of literary, artistic, political, and religious ideas circulating in the first half of nineteenth-century Britain. Visit the digital collection Leigh Hunt Letters to learn more about Hunt’s life and career, and to take a closer look at this letter as well as over 1600 other examples of Hunt’s extensive correspondence.  The letter is reproduced below.  – Anne Covell, Robert A. Olson Fellow 2008-2010, Special Collections & University Archives



Corkhill Civil War Diary

There are many Civil War diaries throughout Special Collections. Some are part of a collection of papers, while others are bound. There is a guide available that provides some details, and increasing numbers of Civil War diaries and documents are being digitized. Our goal is to have full digital access to all of our Civil War material in time for the Sesquicentennial in 2011.

Recently Special Collections received a donation that adds to this collection of Civil War resources. Through the efforts of Sharon Barker Hannon, on behalf of her family, a diary written by her great-great-grandfather, Rev. Thomas Corkhill, now resides in Special Collections. Corkhill wrote his diary in a commonplace book, and it is filled with religious poetry and commentary in addition to diary entries relating his experiences as Chaplain to the 25th Regiment of Iowa Infantry Volunteers, commissioned September 30, 1862. This diary will also be digitized as part of our ongoing efforts. – Greg Prickman, Assistant Head, Special Collections & University Archives

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.