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UIowa Hearts Richard Kerber

The following is written by graduate student and Special Collections student worker Emily Schartz

White AED metal box with red defibrillator
Automated External Defibrillator found at Main Library, University of Iowa

To wrap up American Heart Health Month, we’re remembering University of Iowa professor, cardiologist, and researcher Richard Kerber (1939-2016). If you have noticed the white AED (Automated External Defibrillator) boxes around, you have seen Kerber’s long-lasting impact on our campus and community. Kerber was a pioneer in Echocardiography and CPR research, as well as a driving force in expanding public defibrillation programs.

Richard Kerber was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1939. He completed an undergrad degree in anthropology at Columbia 1960 and in June of that same year married Dr. Linda Kaufman Kerber, now retired professor of history. He went on to complete medical school at New York University, graduating with his medical degree in 1964.

After school, Kerber joined the U.S. Army Medical Corps and worked in both a mobile Army surgical hospital and a base hospital in Vietnam between 1967 and 1968. He was awarded the Bronze Star in 1968 for his service. After completing his medical education with a cardiology fellowship at Stanford University, Kerber joined the University of Iowa in 1971. He remained at the University of Iowa for the rest of his career.

At Iowa Kerber took on many roles, serving as Director of Echocardiography, as well as Associate Director of the Division of Cardiovascular medicine, from 1983-2008 and Interim Director from 2009-2012. He helped establish the CPR training program for UI Hospital staff and faculty and served on task forces and committees that established the UI Hospital’s Code Blue and CPR guidelines and policies.

Kerber standing with 5 Black Students in classroom
Kerber with students from the Short-term Minority Student Research Training Summer Program

Outside of the University of Iowa, Kerber remained involved in Echocardiography and CPR research. He served as the 11th President of the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) from 1997-1999 and worked closely with colleagues in the American Heart Association (AHA), serving as chair of the AHA’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee. His work with these organizations and taskforces helped establish the standards used to train laypeople in CPR beyond the University of Iowa.

A well-loved professor and a dedicated researcher, Kerber published more than 250 articles as well as many book chapters and abstracts over the course of his career. He was in charge of the Cardiology Fellowship Program and mentored students participating in the Short-term Minority Student Research Training Summer Program for many years.

Though he gave many lectures over the course of his time at Iowa, he is perhaps best remembered for his “Deconstructing the Body: Medical Imaging, Medical Art and the Art of Medicine,” where he examined depictions of the body in art throughout history. You can certainly sense his sense of humor from some of the art he chose to include.

Kerber had many interests outside of academics. He is remembered as a successful clarinet player and participated in orchestras and chamber groups. He was also an avid cyclist and rode in RAGBRAI (the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) multiple times.

In 2017, the Richard E. Kerber HeartSafe Initiative was launched in memory of Kerber with the goal of expanding CPR and AED training for University of Iowa faculty and staff in non-medical buildings. In 2019, inspired by the HeartSafe Intitiative, the Rotary-Kerber HeartSafe Community Campaign was launched to expand community-member training in CPR and AED use in Iowa City and Coralville. These initiatives have certainly had an impact, Johnson County was just recognized as a HeartSafe Community by the Citizen CPR Foundation in January of this year and AEDs can be found in buildings all across campus.

If you’re curious, you can find a current map of public access AEDs on the University of Iowa’s campus right here.


Dr. Richard E. Kerber, Rotary-Kerber HeartSafe Community Campaign

In Memoriam: Richard E. Kerber, MD (1939–2016), The Texas Heart Institute Journal

Richard E. Kerber, MD, 1939–2016, JAHA

Richard E. Kerber, M.D., Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association

Richard E. Kerber—A pioneer in echocardiography and emergency cardiovascular care, Resuscitation

Richard Kerber Obituary, Lensing Funeral Home

Saving lives: Johnson County program sends alerts to trained laypeople to respond to cardiac arrest cases, The Gazette, January 15, 2023

UI memorializes renowned cardiologist Richard Kerber with lifesaving program, IowaNow

10 Black Poets to check out in Special Collections & Archives

The following was written by academic outreach coordinator Kathryn Reuter

Reading poetry by Black authors is a great way to celebrate Black History Month! We searched through Special Collections and Archives to find materials from Black poets, some who are familiar to us, and some less so. It was tough to limit ourselves to just 10 poets to highlight, but we hope the list below provides some inspiration for your next visit to our reading room. 

You can see some of these books of poetry yourself at our Black Poetry Pop-up on Wednesday, Feb. 22, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Group Area D of the Main Library (1st floor, across from Food for Thought Café). Stop by the pop-up to make some poetry of your own! We will have supplies for cut and paste and blackout poetry. 

1.The Last Poets 

First on our list is the poetry and music collective The Last Poets. Originally founded in Harlem, New York, in 1968, the group has since experienced several iterations with different members. Music historians and critics consider The Last Poets to be the forefathers of hip-hop because of their groundbreaking spoken word poetry and protest raps. Of their founding, Abiodun Oyewole writes, “The Last Poets were born on May 19, 1968/ In Mount Morris Park in Harlem, New York/ It was a birthday celebration in memory/ in honor of Malcolm X/ The Last Poets were on a mission/ we became the voices of the East wind/ blowing away the West with our sound/ The Last Poets, men who knew/ in their youth the truth must be told/ the lies must be revealed/ and we got to be sassy and funky and sincere/ about it” (from the poem “Invocation”). The pamphlet Selected Poems: The Last Poets was printed in 1993 and is part of the Andrew William “Sunfrog” Smith Collection of Alternative Publications. The back cover is inscribed to Sunfrog by Last Poets Umar Bin Hassan, Baba Donn Babatunde, and Abiodun Oyewole.  

2. Gwendolyn Brooks 

Born in 1917, Gwendolyn Brooks published her first poem at the age of 13 and would go on to have multiple pieces published in the African-American newspaper The Chicago Defender. A Street in Bronzeville (1945) was her first book of poetry, it celebrates the everyday people living on Chicago’s South Side. One of the copies held in Special Collections is inscribed by Brooks to Paul Engle, director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, who praised the book in a review for the Chicago Tribune. Found in Special Collection’s second copy of A Street in Bronzeville is a photograph of Gwendolyn Brooks, her husband Henry Lowington Blakely, Jr., and their son Henry Lowington Blakely III, dated to 1945. Because the handwriting on the back of the photograph matches Gwendolyn Brooks’ inscription to Paul Engle, we believe this family photo was labeled by the author herself, and perhaps tucked into the book before giving it to a friend.  

Inside cover of dissertation
For my people. Margaret Walker. Theses/ Dissertations T1940 .W18


3. Margaret Walker 

Like Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Walker was an influential poet of the Chicago Black Renaissance. Walker is also a two-time graduate of the University of Iowa. You can visit her 1940 master’s thesis, a poetry collection titled For My People, in the University Archives. With this volume of poetry, Walker won the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition. While a master’s degree student at the University of Iowa, Walker was roommates with artist Elizabeth Catlett. In 1992, the two old roommates collaborated to produce an illustrated edition of For My People. Catlett’s prints from this work are held at the Stanley Museum of Art, and you can view them on the Iowa Digital Library. Margaret Walker returned to the University of Iowa to earn her PhD in 1965. For her dissertation, she submitted her first completed draft of her acclaimed novel Jubilee 

title page of Phillis Wheatley
Memoir and poems of Phillis Wheatley PS 866. W5 1834


4. Phillis Wheatley 

In 1773, Phillis Wheatley became the first African American author to publish a volume of poetry. Born in West Africa, Wheatley was kidnapped and sold by slave traders. The Boston merchant John Wheatley bought her as a slave for his wife and the couple renamed the young girl. In the Wheatley household Phillis received tutoring in reading and writing – she wrote her first poem at the age of 14. Not finding publishers in New England willing to support her writing, Wheatley traveled to London where her collection Poems on Various Subject was published. Special Collections and Archives holds an issue of this volume, printed in 1834, which also includes a memoir of Wheatley written by Margaretta Matilda Odell.  

5. Amira Baraka 

Born Everett LeRoi Jones (in Newark, New Jersey, in 1934) Baraka changed his name to Amiri Bakraka after the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965. The same year, Baraka founded the Black Arts Repertory Theater in Harlem, New York, effectively sparking the Black Arts Movement. Baraka wrote in multiple genres, penning poems, plays, and essays. Baraka’s influence as an artist, activist, and teacher cannot be overstated. Special Collections and Archives houses two inscribed volumes of Baraka’s poetry [Selected Plays and Prose of Amiri Baraka/ LeRoi Jones (1979) and The Sidney Poet Heroical, in 29 Scenes (1979)] – as well as a sampling of poems stapled together in a pamphlet titled Black Art. Printed in 1966, this pamphlet came to the University of Iowa through the collection of artist Lil Picard.   

6. Langston Hughes 

Like Baraka, Langston Hughes was a writer who excelled in multiple forms. Considered a leader of the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes’ poems such as “Harlem” (also known as “A Dream Deferred”) and “I, Too” are iconic pieces of American poetry. We hold a number of Langston Hughes publications in Special Collections & Archives, but one of our favorites is this first edition of Shakespeare in Harlem, inscribed by the author to his friend Lee Crowe.  


Brown and yellow cover of Ten Poems book
Ten Poems by Rita Dove (PS3554.O87 A17 1977 )

7. Rita Dove 

Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1952. She earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Iowa in 1977. She was U.S. Poet Laureate at the Library of Congress from 1993 to 1995. Pictured here is Dove’s collection Ten Poems, of which approximately 200 copies were printed by hand in Lisbon, Iowa, at Penumbra Press in 1977.  


Brown/tan cover with word Cane on it
Copy of Cane published in 2000 ( FOLIO PS3539.058 C3 2000)

8. Jean Toomer  

Jean Toomer (born Nathan Pinchback Toomer in 1894, Washington, D.C.) might have objected to being on this list of Black poets because he resisted racial categorization and identified simply as “American”. Of mixed-raced ancestry, Toomer attended both segregated Black schools and all-white schools throughout his education. In 1921, he taught at an agricultural college in Georgia – his experiences there inspired him to start writing a series of vignettes that would be published as Cane in 1923. The novel has a non-traditional structure, combining poems and short stories about different characters. The copy of Cane seen here was published in 2000, it contains woodcuts by the artist Martin Puryear. Jean Toomer’s archival papers are held by the Beinecke Library at Yale, and some of the collection has been digitized, which you can browse here.   


Red cover of book with elephant and bird, palm tree and two people next to tree
The Nature of Things by Frederick Tillis (Iowa Authors Collection)

9. Frederick Tillis  

Perhaps best known as a composer and jazz musician, Frederick Tillis (1930-2020) was also a prolific poet. He earned both his MA and PhD in music composition from the University of Iowa. You can find his dissertation (Quartet for flute, clarinet, bassoon and cello) in the University Archives and a number of his poetry books in our Iowa Authors collection.  


Black and white photo collage of Black Americans
Book jacket for Re:Creation by Nikki Giovanni (PS3557.I55 R4)

 10. Nikki Giovanni  

Nikki Giovanni was one of the leading authors of the Black Arts Movement. Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1943, Giovanni was raised in Ohio and attended Fisk University. Until 2022, she taught as a university distinguished professor at Virginia Tech. In addition to numerous poetry collections, Giovanni has authored several children’s books and was nominated for a Grammy Award (for Best Spoken Word or Non-musical Album) for The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection. We love the cover of this 1971 publication Re:Creation, which features the photography of Chester Higgins.  

Collecting Your Ghost Stories

The following comes from university archivist Sarah Keen

Have you heard footsteps where no corporeal being is walking? Have unexplainable events occurred in your building that have no humanly cause? Are there spaces on campus where the spirits of those who have walked this earth before us feel particularly present?

If so, the University Archives would like to hear your tales of paranormal encounters on campus and in Iowa City. Share your spooky stories to be added to the archives and shared with the campus community.

Please share your stories here.


Happy Birthday Lil Picard!

The following is written by academic outreach coordinator Kathryn Reuter.

On Tuesday, October 4th, 2022, join the Stanley Museum of Art & the University of Iowa Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives as they celebrate the 123rd birthday of artist Lil Picard! Crafts and cake will be available in the Stanley Museum lobby from 12-2pm, and there will be a pop-up exhibit of Picard’s artworks and items from her archives in the Visual Laboratory (third floor of the museum). Learn more about the event here. 

Lil Picard was born Lilli Elisabeth Benedick in Germany on October 4th, 1899. She got her start as an artist and performer by singing and dancing in cabarets in Berlin in the 1920s.

Lil Picard, 1920s

Later she worked as a fashion editor for German publications until the anti-Semitic policies of the National Socialist Party caused her and her second husband, Henry Odell, to immigrate to the United States in 1936.

Lil and dog. Note on back of this photo reads: 1933-1934 Berlin, Lil Picard

In their new home in New York City, Lil Picard took English lessons as well as design and lettering classes. She began selling her accessories and jewelry designs to department stores before establishing her own milliner studio at 555 Madison Avenue in 1939. In 1942, she opened “Custom Hat Box”, a milliner counter in Bloomingdale’s.

Untitled, by Lil Picard. Assemblage – Stanley Museum of Art, Lil Picard Collection. Accession Number 2012.892

In addition to her hat making, Lil Picard supported herself as a journalist, writing for German newspapers and art magazines as well as American publications such as Art Magazine, Andy Warhol’s Interview, and The East Village Other.

As an artist, Lil Picard worked in a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, watercolor and drawings, collages, assemblages, and performance art. Her performance art, especially, was an avenue for expressing her militant views on the Vietnam War and on social and environmental issues.

From 1955-1981, Lil Picard had fifteen solo exhibitions (in both the United States and Germany) and her work was included in more than forty group shows. She participated in six Avant Garde Festivals of New York between 1967 and 1975. Increasingly blind during her last years, Lil Picard became reclusive, dying without descendants on May 10, 1994.

Lil Picard, 1980s

Lil Picard bequeathed her entire estate to the University of Iowa. Her artworks are in the collection of the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, and her archives (where most of these photos are from) are part of the University of Iowa Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives, as the Lil Picard Papers, MsC0817

Lil Picard, 1930s

A Tale of Tails: Pets in the Archives

A new exhibit bound to make you feel warm and fuzzy is up in the Special Collections & Archives reading room. 

Curated by lead outreach and instruction librarian Elizabeth Riordan and academic outreach coordinator Kathryn Reuter, the exhibit A Tale of Tails: Pets in the Archives explores the pets found in Special Collections & Archives, expanding on how the notion of the “pet” continues to grow and morph with the changing years while recognizing some of the aspects of pet ownership that remain constant. 

As Riordan explained, “at the beginning of the pandemic I saw so many people on social media adopting new pets. And studies have shown a huge increase in pet adoption at the beginning of the pandemic. I myself adopted a kitten in May of 2020. It made me really think about the comfort pets bring during difficult times.”

When Riordan returned to working in person at the library, it was hard not to notice the pets that seemed to be everywhere in the collections. Whether featured in family photos, on the margins of an image, or companions in a story, pets were there. While these animal companions were nothing new to the collections, recent events and personal experiences put these archived pets in a whole new light.  

As Riordan and Reuter write in their curator statement:

Despite some of the reports saying many people returned those animals they adopted once the pandemic started to slow down, it should be noted that an overwhelming majority chose to keep their pets. They join the billions of humans across time and space who see pet keeping as an extraordinary yet common human experience. “

The curators hope that those who visit the exhibit see some of their own pet history in the stories on display and reflect on our bond with animals we choose to bring into our homes and lives. 

To get to know the exhibit, Riordan and Reuter have selected 10 items from the exhibit that they are particularly fond of:

3 metal dog tags

1.Dog Tags from the Ruth Salzmann Becker Collection, IWA 0123 

Licensing a pet is one of the more concrete ways humans assert official ownership over an animal. Dog tags also demonstrate the potential dangers of living with animals – as dogs must be vaccinated against rabies before receiving a license. The oldest dog tag displayed in the exhibit is from 1915, it was the license of a dachshund that belonged to Ruth Salzmann Becker’s cousin.


2. The complete idiot’s guide to Pet Psychic Communication

If you’ve ever wished you could tell your pet just how much you love them- or, if you’ve ever really needed your pet to get on board with the house rules – this book is for you!


This zine is a compilation of Lost Pet posters readers photographed and sent in from around the globe. We hope that many of the posters resulted in reunions between pet and owner. 


4. The Wizard of Oz

In the Wizard of Oz, most animals in the land of Oz have the ability to speak. For the first four books of the Oz series, Toto, unlike the other animals, does not have the gift of speech. In the eighth book, Toto reveals that while he is able to talk, he simply chooses not to. 


5. This is the Story of Little Cat

The illustrations in this picture book are all so sweet, it was difficult to choose just one page to display for the exhibit. 

6. Portrait of Ruth and cat from Ruth Suckow Papers, MsC0706

Ruth Suckow’s papers include a whole photo album dedicated to her cats. But it is this painting done by Ruth’s husband Ferner Nuhn that really demands attention. An older Ruth, somehow still exhibiting a youthful aura due to her clothes, holds up a white cat, obscuring much of her face. The relationship of the woman and her cat comes strongly across to viewers. 

7. Smiling dog, Stanley Museum of Art

Honestly, this isn’t even in Special Collections, it’s an image from Stanley Museum of Art. And even though we just have a picture of it for this exhibit (you’ll have to go next door to the Museum to see the real thing), we can’t help but smile ourselves when we see it. 

8. Les Chats

Les Chats by François-Augustin Paradis de Moncrif is considered one of Western Europe’s first books devoted to cats. The book contains several fantastic images of cats from ancient Egypt to “modern day” (18th century) France. 

9. Andy Warhol cat books

We have two books from Andy Warhol about his cats. Warhol is famous for having several cats at once, all named Sam. The exhibit features his 25 Cats named Sam and One Blue Pussy and a book he did with his mother Julia called Holy Cats by Andy Warhol’s Mother.

10. Where the Red Fern Grows

This was put in there purely for sentimental reasons. As a child, this book was read aloud in class, and memories of crying as we reached the end of the story are still vivid in the mind. It is a devastating tale, but that sorrow was because Wilson Rawls painted such a real relationship between a boy and his dogs. Those who have experienced the loss of a beloved pet probably still will cry ugly tears over this book. 

Perhaps the best part of the exhibit, however, is the growing wall of library staff pet photos. This part of the exhibit has already caught the eye of several students and patrons passing our doors. It is a testament to the power of pets when you see strangers smiling at pictures of your own pets. 

Welcome Rich Dana

We are pleased to announce Rich Dana as Special Collections and Archives’ Sackner Archive Project coordinator librarian.

Rich Dana earned his MFA from the University of Iowa Center for the Book in 2021 and his MA from the School of Library and Information Science in 2020. He has worked as an art mover, art fabricator and art installer, and curator for a variety of New York City galleries and institutions, and has served as a freelance instructor and workshop leader for several years. He has also held various roles at Special Collections and Archives: as curatorial assistant for the Hevelin Collection, the Olson graduate research assistant, and temporary project registrar for the Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry.

In addition to his past work with the Sackner Archive, Dana is himself a copier artist (one of his works is included in the Sackners’ collection) and independent publisher. His 2021 book Cheap Copies! describes some of the techniques used by artists in the collection, and he frequently leads workshops on copier art techniques.

When asked what he enjoys about the Sackner Archive, Dana stated, “Because the Sackners were enthusiastic autodidacts and made personal connections to many of the artists whose work they collected, the archive has a very lively and idiosyncratic quality. It’s not only an astounding collection of visual poetry, it’s also a remarkable historical record of the movement.”

Dana looks forward to raising awareness of this amazing resource and making the materials in the collection more accessible to patrons and researchers. We are so glad to have him on the team.