The following was written by International Dada Curator Timothy Shipe
It is with profound sorrow that we note the passing of Dr. Marvin Sackner on Tuesday, September 29 at age 88, just a few weeks after the opening of this exhibition. For those of us at Iowa, Dr. Sackner will be forever remembered for selecting the University Libraries as the permanent home of his world-renowned collection of concrete and visual poetry; but as his obituary shows, his memory will be treasured for his countless contributions in many areas—by his numerous patients, by members of the medical profession, by artists, art historians, and literary scholars around the world, and most of all by his beloved family.
We had originally planned to open this exhibition in May 2020 with a gala event featuring a guest lecture by Dr. Sackner accompanied by his entire family. Given Dr. Sackner’s stature as a world-famous pulmonologist, there is a sad irony in the fact that his visit to Iowa was thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Those of us who had the privilege of getting to know Marvin—and to hear his engaging manner of telling the story of his collection and the artists represented in it—know what an opportunity the public has missed now that there will be no chance to welcome him back to campus. But we can take comfort in knowing that current and future generations of Iowans and visitors from around the world will be able to engage with the Sackners through their legacy—the magnificent collection they amassed and curated over four decades, which now resides in the UI Libraries Special Collections.
We now rededicate this exhibition to the memory of Ruth and Marvin Sackner, extraordinary art collectors, generous individuals, and above all, kind and loving human beings.
In the darkness of these Midwest winter months, a new exhibit comes to our reading room to shed light on nine nearly forgotten Iowa women writers.
Lanterns in Their Hands: Nine Nearly Forgotten Iowa Women Writers was curated by Processing Coordinator, Jacque Roethler. The exhibit examines nine women writers whose names may have faded with time, but whose work continues to resonate with readers today. While a majority of the exhibit features the books written by these women, there are also manuscripts, photographs, end paper design, periodical appearances, and a few other ephemera pieces that accompany a brief biography written by Roethler.
Retiring this February, this exhibit is Roethler’s encore to showcase some of her favorite material found in Special Collections.
“What got me to the idea of doing an exhibit on nearly-forgotten Iowa women writers,” explained Roethler, ” was the book, The Plough on the Hills by Merriam Gearhart. I came across it in the Iowa Authors section one day. Here was a woman who lived in Iowa all her life and she created these poems, not sublime, but beautiful in their own right. And I, who had lived most of my life in Iowa, and majored in English here, had never heard of her. And I thought, ‘How sad that she’s sliding into oblivion.’ I remembered seeing books by Grace Hebard and Mary Winchell, and I hadn’t heard of them, either. I started looking and there were others like her. Women like Amy Clampitt, who worked in New York all her life, most of it in the publishing industry when suddenly, when she was 63, people began to take notice of her. She became popular – she had many poems in the New Yorker, which is the top of the heap. Then she was gone, and I hadn’t heard of her either. In fact, the only Iowa woman writer I knew about before coming to work in Special Collections was Ruth Suckow.”
As Roethler mentioned above, she was an English major here at the University of Iowa, which might explain why she has consistently been drawn to the papers of authors and poets while working here in Special Collections. Before getting to Special Collections, however, she worked at the University of Iowa’s hospital cafeteria, served as a the secretary for the African American studies department for ten years, and after getting her master’s in Library and Information Science in 1995, started working for the UI Libraries in the serials department and math library before finally coming to Special Collections. While Roethler has worked diligently on large collections like the Gallup Organization’s records and the Ken Friedman papers, some of her favorite collections to process have been those of authors like Lewis Turco, who wrote The Book of Forms, or John Gawsworth whose Georgian poetry, according to Roethler, wasn’t appreciated in his time. Working on these collections and completing their finding aids has clearly helped hone Roethler’s ability to find the remarkable in the often overlooked.
“I found so many things when I put the exhibit together,” explained Roethler. “The fact that Bess Streeter Aldrich had won an O Henry Prize; that three of Dorothy Johnson’s short stories had been turned into films, all of which I HAD heard of… that straight-laced Octave Thanet may have had a lesbian relationship with her long-time companion; that Josephine Herbst knew Hemingway well enough to write the extraordinary letter that appears in the exhibit and that that letter is probably to Katherine Ann Porter, with whom Herbst was very close; that Eleanor Saltzman died in a sanitarium operated by her cousin.” The fascinating stories of these women go on and on.
For Roethler, she wants people to know that this exhibit is just the tip of the iceberg. Narrowing down to just nine writers was a difficult task, having to exclude Susan Glaspell, Katinka Loesser, Actea Duncan, and so many more.
“I want people to seek out these writers–to help them not slide into oblivion,” stated Roethler. “I think that’s one of the main jobs of any Special Collections.”
Do you have an interest in bookbinding? Have you always wanted to be a boy or girl scout but never took the opportunity to join? Or maybe you miss those scouting days? Well, now is your chance to earn your Bookbinding badge and join the Book Scouts.
Curated by Olson Graduate Assistant Laura Michelson, graduate student Zoe Webb, and graduate student Damien Ihrig, How to Earn Your Book Scouts Merit Badge is an exhibit now on display in the reading room of Special Collections.
This exhibit breaks down the process of bookbinding in chronological order, starting with a 1950’s Official Boy Scout Bookbinding Kit, which they discovered up in the Conservation Lab of the Main Library. From there, the three graduates display the materials used in making books, including parchment and minerals used in making different colored paints and dyes. The exhibit continues with displays of several historical book binding models, as well as their own creations from their classes in Center for the Book.
“There’s more to the creation of books that people don’t understand sometimes,” Michelson said.
The addition of their own bookbinding work brings their curation of this exhibit to a personal level.
“It does a good job of capturing the specific things that we’re interested in individually,” Ihrig said.
Michelson, Webb, and Ihrig are three graduate students in the School of Library and Information Sciences with a graduate certificate in Book Studies (BLIS). They were asked to create an exhibit about their experiences in the BLIS program and they found that bookbinding was something they all had in common.
But, what made this exhibit really come to life was the boy scout bookbinding kit.
“We weren’t sure how to set up the exhibit,” Webb said. “We had a lot of the pieces but it was still a little confused, and the kit made everything fall into place.”
They also wanted to add an element of interactivity with the exhibit because the boy scout bookbinding kit included a checklist on how to earn the badge in bookbinding. So, they created their own list for participants to earn their book arts badge for the new Book Scouts.
Along with the list, there will also be a pop-up exhibit on March 6th from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. where people can make their own book and check-off an item on their list to get their badge. Other items include visiting the exhibit, visiting Special Collections, attending a bibliophiles talk and then submitting a form by April 2nd. Then you could be an owner of a Book Scouts Merit Badge.
You can download the list here or pick one up at the front desk at Special Collections. Once filled out, turn it into the Special Collections front desk to receive your own badge!
How to Earn Your Book Scouts Merit Badge is currently on exhibit and will be up until the mid-to-late April.
Dracula has been a name that has instilled fear and fascination in the imaginations of readers and viewers since its original publication by Bram Stoker in 1897. There have been many adaptations and remakes of the novel since then, including F.W. Murnau’s silent film Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Graunens, the 1931 Universal Studios version of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula starring Gary Oldman and directed by Francis Ford Coppola in 1992.
There was even a play adaptation about the captivating vampire. In 1924, Hamilton Deane adapted Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula into a stage play with the permission of Stoker’s widow. The play toured in England and was brought to Broadway in 1927.
Dracula was revived in 1977 under the direction of Dennis Rosa. Sets and costumes were designed by Edward Gorey, who is well-known for his quirky cat drawings on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and other Gothic illustrations that have graced the covers of numerous classics, poetry books, and various other publications. With the set and costume design for Dracula, Gorey channeled his obsession with bats. Bats can be found in the walls, in the cobblestone, in the furniture – there are even bats incorporated into the characters’ clothing, like Renfield’s bat-buttoned pajamas.
The set and costumes were so enthralling that the play soon became known as “Edward Gorey’s production of Dracula,” instead of being fully credited to the director. Gorey’s designs were nominated for Tony Awards, and the production received a Tony in 1977 for the best revival of a play.
Dracula closed in 1980 after a strong run of 925 performances.
Edward Gorey’s vision of Dracula did not die with the close of the play. The designs rose once again in 1979 when Scribner’s published them as a spiral-bound book called Dracula: A Toy Theatre. The book contains Gorey’s original designs of the sets and characters, as well as a synopsis of the characters, scenes, and acts. The images of the characters, furniture, and set could be cut out from the pages and taped together so the reader could create their own interactive version of the original stage.
More recently, Pomegranate Communications picked up the book and made it into a box set of the toy theater with loose leaves of die-cut fold-ups and fold-outs. Once the theatre is constructed, the reader can have a full 3-D model of all three acts of the play.
Here at the University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections, we not only have a copy of Scribner’s publication of Dracula: A Toy Theatre, but two copies of the Pomegranate publication as well.
If you want to see them in person, you can swing on by to the Special Collections on the third floor of the Main Library. Otherwise, on October 28th, 11:00am – 3:00pm, we will be hosting a Halloween Pop-Up Exhibit on the first floor of the Main Library, where the complete construction of Dracula: A Toy Theatre will be the star of the exhibit, along with a showcase of some of our spookiest comics and fanzines.
Read more about the event at the link below, and we hope to see you there!
James Van Allen and the Discovery of the Radiation Belts
February 1 – April 8
After months of being closed for renovations the new state of the art gallery in the University of Iowa Main Library is now open. Stop by and take a look at the exhibition, including the story of the discovery of the radiation belts, and the tale of how the earliest data recorded from space was recovered, digitized, and made available for scientists and scholars.
Old Capitol Museum Keyes Gallery for the Arts, Humanities, and Sciences
Explore artistic interpretations of Cervantes’ tale from the 1600s to the 1930s through collected images from editions of Don Quixote from the University of Iowa Libraries.
Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the sponsoring department or contact person listed in advance of the event.
1. A new acquisition for our collection of miniature books.
Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr., Descent of Mount Gadam, Jubilee Press, 1993. Adapted from a folktale of the Mensa Bet-Abrehe people of northern Ethiopia. Includes a linocut outline map of Africa.
2. A new addition to the University of Iowa Libraries’ map collections for studying World War I.
The Markets of the World. Open to Great Britain: Closed to Germany, London : Roberts & Leete Ltd., . This map shows sources of import for Britain during 1916.
Just for Fun:
Our graduate assistants made a parody of our new acquisition unboxing videos we’ve been making on the social media site Vine.
Please welcome our “new acquisition,” graduate assistant John Fifield.
Want to stay connected? Follow us on social media:
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was an instant publishing success, and it remains a beloved piece of literature today, celebrated during the Christmas season around the world. The first edition, printed in 1843, includes four hand-colored steel engravings by John Leech. Our copy of this work comes from the collection of James Wallace, a collector of children’s books with a fine eye for condition and rarity. Several of the high points in children’s literature from our collections were obtained by Wallace.
Thoughout the month of December we will be consecutively displaying each of the four hand-colored illustrations. Stop by Special Collections on the third floor of the Main Library where it will be on display in the case just inside the doors.
Old Capitol exhibit opens Oct. 11 with free reception, lecture
By: Rebecca Pope | 2012.10.04 | 10:47 AM
The University of Iowa Old Capitol Museum will mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 with a special exhibition of historical documents, maps and artifacts from various Iowa archaeological sites.
Conflict on the Iowa Frontier: Perspectives on the War of 1812 opens Thursday, Oct. 11, with a free public reception from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the museum. Guest lecturer Eugene Watkins will speak in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum from 6 to 6:45 p.m. and lead a discussion about the history of Fort Madison. Watkins is Fort Madison’s site manager for Old Fort Madison. He holds a doctorate of U.S. history from the University of Toledo.
Black Hawk’s autobiography. Photo courtesy of UI Pentacrest Museums, book from Special Collections
Artifacts featured in the exhibit include Black Hawk’s autobiography, giving insight into the war from the perspective of Native Americans, and an Orderly Book for infantry men of the period, in which general and regimental orders were recorded. These objects tell the story of the war’s Mississippi River campaign and how it affected the future of the state.
Also on Oct. 11, archaeologist Jodi Magness, distinguished professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will give the UI Department of Religious Studies Adler Lecture and the UI Pentacrest Museums Directors’ Lecture at 7:30 p.m. in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum.
In anticipation of National Archaeology Day, her topic is “Ossuaries and the Burial of Jesus and James.” The presentation is free and open to the public. Magness specializes in the archaeology of ancient Palestine in the Roman, Byzantine, and early Islamic periods.
“Monumental Ideas in Miniature Book Making” is a traveling exhibition of more than 100 artists’ miniature books from eight countries curated by Hui-Chu Ying, Professor of The Myers School of Art, at the University of Akron. These small treasures by nationally and internationally recognized book artists explore epic tales, poetry, and storytelling using diverse book and printmaking techniques. Emily Martin and Jill Kambs from the University of Iowa Center for the Book have works featured in this exhibition. This visually stunning and dramatically eclectic collection demonstrates in stunning miniature the breadth and variety of contemporary artist’s books.
The books will be exhibited outside Special Collections and University Archives on the third floor of the Main Library for just four more weeks until October 22nd, 2012.