If Books Could Talk is a collaboration between Heather Wacha from History Corps, a digital public history project from the History Department at the University of Iowa, Colleen Theisen, Outreach & Engagement Librarian from Special Collections, and Katie Buehner, Head of the Rita Benton Music Library from the University of Iowa Libraries. Heather Wacha researched and wrote the episodes, Colleen Theisen served as the host, and Katie Buehner filmed and edited the series.
“If Books Could Talk,” explains that the paper, bindings, bookplates, repairs, stains, handwritten notes, stamps, and markings all leave traces that give clues to how they were made, where they have been, and can even tell about the lives of the people who have read them.
The final episode appears below. In it, Heather and Colleen examine two Medieval manuscript leaves and what we can learn from the layout, chapter headings, verse numbers and more. How does a Medieval manuscript Bible leaf differ from a Bible printed today, and what features have remained throughout the years?
Find out in the final episode of If Books Could Talk:
If you had been an heir of the estate of Don Francisco Muñoz Carillo, a nobleman from Cuenca, Spain who died in 1687, you may have received some part of these items. However, before you get too excited, you would have also inherited the many debts that Don Francisco’s left his heirs.
In the past two weeks, graduate students from the University of Iowa have been participating in a paleography workshop entitled “Meet the Manuscript” and working intently on the transcription and translation of Don Francisco’s last will and testament, held in the University of Iowa’s Special Collections Library (xMMs.Doc2).
But this is not a simple project. Students have been working on multiple levels: transcribing, translating and TEI encoding each page of the document, with a view to providing an online digital edition and resource tool for a broad range of viewers who might benefit from using this document, as well as making a historic model of the document with which they are working. Thanks to the UI Center for the Book’s Tim Barrett, Melissa Moreton and Cheryl Jacobsen, eleven new books were born, filled with hand-made paper, held together with a tacketed binding with alum taw laces (case paper replaced the original parchment cover), and sporting examples of an Italic script.
Additionally, students from three Iowa high schools are interacting with the manuscript either through digital images and translations or through their visit with the original document in UI Spec Coll.
The work from both UI graduate students and high school students will be available on the Meet the Manuscript website.
What a wonderful collaborative experience with much thanks to UI Spec Coll, UI Studio, UI Center for the Book, Ana Rodriguez and Amber Brian from the UI Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and the multiple UI departments and divisions that sponsored the fellows! Muchas gracias from all of us and all of Don Francisco’s predecessors and successors.
On Tuesday March 22, 2016 Special Collections welcomed 28 students from Norwalk High School, Norwalk, IA. The students were those of art teacher Maggie Harlow-Vogt. They had traveled all the way from Norwalk to Iowa City seeking inspiration from Special Collections and the Library’s Conservation Lab for their next art projects!
The Norwalk students have been tasked with using their experiences and insights from the Special Collections visit to think more profoundly about what makes a book a book. Their conversations and interactions with the books will be used to inspire pottery, metal-smithing and 3D design projects. The group of 28 split into two smaller groups so that while one was was visiting the Conservation Lab, the other was able to learn about and experience an array of rare books, manuscripts and artists’ books from the twelfth to twenth-first century. Of special note on display was a 1699 Spanish will, the manuscript at the heart of this collaboration.
Heather Wacha, a graduate student in the Department of History, has been working to introduce area high school students to the value and importance of resources held in Special Collections. The Norwalk visit is part of a larger project that involves University of Iowa students transcribing and translating a 1699 Spanish will held in Special Collections for digital publication. The art students from Norwalk High School, along with Spanish students from Central Academy in Des Moines, are interacting with the Spanish will in a variety of ways that both fit their class curriculum and simultaneously generate enthusiasm and creativity. Each student’s final project will be able to be published on the same website that will hold the manuscript’s digital publication created by the UI students.
From Harlow-Vogt’s perspective, Tuesday’s visit sparked amazing conversations in the bus on the way home. The following day in their art classes, Harlow-Vogt noted that “The students who did not go to the University of Iowa were a bit overwhelmed by the passion and excitement that the other students brought back with them. Those that could not go felt that they had really missed out on a great adventure!”
Heather Wacha is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History researching the history of the book and 12th/13th century women in northern France. She is also a Specialist Researcher in Special Collections working to identify and describe Medieval manuscript leaves. You can see her work with History Corps and view her If Books Could Talk videos on the UISpecColl YouTube channel. She tweets @hgwacha.
Where are your other leaves? Re-discovering the Wilton Processional
Even a single page from a medieval book can hold many secrets. Sometimes there are enough clues to uncover a surprising history.
In March 2015, Heather Wacha, a PhD student in the History Department, and a member of History Corps, was assisting Special Collections in identifying a leaf that had been cut out of a medieval manuscript. Further investigation of this manuscript’s clues has since drawn together librarians, graduate students, and UNI professor Dr. Alison Altstatt. Together, they have uncovered a story spanning centuries of a manuscript that was once created, then lost, then broken by notorious book breaker Otto Ege, and is now finally, refound: The Wilton Processional.
Special Collections is very pleased to bring you episode five from the “If Books Could Talk” video series, Where are your other leaves? Re-discovering the Wilton Processional
Wednesday, February 10th at 7PM in the Special Collections Reading Room.
Heather Wacha will be talking about a single Medieval manuscript leaf from Special Collections, Msc 542 xMMs.Pr1 and her process identifying it. She will present her findings about this text in the 13th century manuscript edition, 16th century early printed editions, as well as early 20th century history when Otto Ege broke the manuscript apart, and the early 21st century when digital technologies allow us to start to put it back together again.
Jonas Hunt was first corporal and first sergeant of the Iowa 18th Volunteer Regiment, Company B. His grandson, Leland Hunt, has gifted this collection to the University of Iowa.
From notes from his great-great granddaughter we have this history: “Jonas Hunt was born August 7, 1837. On August 6, 1862 Jonas joined the Eighteenth Regiment Volunteer Infantry. Jonas took part in several battles in southern Missouri and Arkansas before being mustered out the first part of August 1865. They [meaning he and his wife Emeline Twombley] apparently built a log cabin in Lacelle, IA (no longer a town) near Osceola and raised nine children. “
The collection consists of a canteen, a certificate, a roster, a family bible, a military record, and a company sick book. This last item, the sick book, is fairly unique to this collection. It is a record of every illness in the company and where the person was serving during his sickness. It is divided into columns as follows: Name, rank, sick in quarters, in hospital, and duty.
New Acquisition Updates from Margaret Gamm
The Glenwood Resource Center in Glenwood, Iowa, was previously named the Iowa Institution for Feeble-Minded Children. This album from around 1910 documents that earlier time period. In some of the first photos, several women show off their Winter attire on a January day declared to be 24 below. Brr! While the creator of the album focused on the teachers at the Institution, the students make many appearances as well.
University archivist David McCartney gave a presentation about the Historical Iowa Civil Rights Network at St. Ambrose University in Davenport on Thursday, 1/18/2016. HICRN is a project of archivists, librarians, historians, and former civil rights workers from across the state to document the civil rights movement, both at home and elsewhere. David co-founded HICRN in 2012 and, to date, 12 institutions have participated.
Congratulations to John Fifield, Caxton Club Grant Recipient
On Wednesday, November 18, University of Iowa Center for the Book students Ian Huebert, Amy Richard, and Special Collections’ Olson Graduate Assistant John Fifield all accepted grants from the Caxton Club at the Union League in Chicago. John’s grant will fund his return to the Biblioteca de la Recoleta in Arequipa, Peru, in January. He will be continuing research on Colonial Spanish monastic libraries and the Transatlantic Book Trade. You can view photos from the projects at the Recoleta at recoleta2015.tumblr.com.
Join us in congratulating John!
Congratulations to Kelly Grogg, Ella Von Holtom, and Heather Wacha for Being Accepted Into the Obermann Graduate Institute
Olson Graduate Assistant Kelly Grogg, and department employees Ella Von Holtom, and Heather Wacha were all accepted as Graduate Fellows for the seventh annual Obermann Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy. Join us in congratulating Kelly, Ella, and Heather!
Marie Mattingly Meloney, the creator of this album, gifted it to Laird C. Addis in 1926. It contains many autographs and small mementos from famous figures of the early 20th century, collected during Meloney’s time as an award-winning reporter and editor. She was close friends with Marie Curie, and was responsible for a nationwide campaign to purchase radium for Curie and her laboratory. More information about the album is available here. Donated by Laird Addis Jr.
Medieval Quill Cutting & More: If Books Could Talk Video Series Returns
How does a Medieval manuscript tell its story? If you look closely enough the marginalia, bookplates, library stamps, dirt marks, and page numbers tell a story of how a manuscript was made, who used it, and where it has been. If Books Could Talk is a video series exploring the questions to ask to investigate a manuscript by examining the physical traces that tell its story. If Books Could Talk is a collaboration between the UI Libraries and History Corps.
Delve in and you will be surprised with what you can learn when you listen to an artifact closely.
From the University Archives
Civil rights activist donates rare material to UI: UI archivist cultivates friendship with key player in 1964 voter registration effort
Civil rights activist Eric Morton’s story is the feature in this month’s Old Gold column from University Archivist David McCartney.
On the left you see Eric Morton in 1951, one year after enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces. (Eric Morton Civil Rights Papers MsC 0999).