A Virtual Bibliophiles

Today is April 8th, 2020, the day we were supposed to gather for the last Iowa Bibliophiles of the academic year. The plan: come together, eat some tasty snacks, and explore some of the highlights from our collection with the help of our wonderful student workers. Our students had selected manuscripts, books, and more, researched them, and planned to present the information at their own “viewing station” for anyone interested.  

That’s how it was supposed to go. However, as all of us have experienced in the last few weeks, plans had to change. The world threw us an unexpected twist, and to protect our family, friends, and community, we cancelled this event.

Yet, the students had picked some interesting collection material, and it would be a shame not to find a way to share them with you. While we cannot meet in person, perhaps this blog can provide some of the entertainment and education we are seeking at this time. Below are a few items described by our hardworking students, a virtual Iowa Bibliophiles if you will. We hope you enjoy.

 


Star Trek Fandom with Zoë Webb

The Mary Jennara Wenk Star Trek Collection (MsC1031) was originally acquired in 2015 as part of the continuing efforts to collect and preserve pop culture and fandom material. Because we have many new collections, the donor of the L. Falcon Media Fandom Collection gave the library a very generous gift to allow a student (it’s me, Zoë Webb) more time to focus on processing a number of newly acquired fandom collections, including the Wenk Collection.

Mary Jennara Wenk was an active member of the Star Trek and Star Wars fan communities of the 1970s and 1980s, attending conventions, collecting fan art, and engaging in lively correspondence with other fans, as well as creating award-winning content for fanzines. This collection reflects her active lifestyle, containing a number of Star Trek zines, a sizable stack of fan art (including a painting done by author Hal Clement), correspondence, convention material, and an impressive collection of 3D objects—notably including some ears worn by Leonard Nimoy on the set of Star Trek. There are many quality items in this collection, but my personal favorites are the handmade dolls, the Starfleet Academy Class Rings, and, of course, Spock’s ears.

Star Trek dolls

Both the Andorian girl (right) and the Vulcan child (left) were made by Devra Langsam, co-editor of Spockanalia, the very first all-Star Trek zine ever published, and apparently an excellent crafter. The doll version of Spock’s Vulcan father, Sarek (center), was made by a mystery artist in the 1970s. The Andorian girl is perhaps my favorite of the three, with her little pipe cleaner antennae, the pearl-decked gold bikini, and her adorable yarn braids.

 

 

Starfleet rings
Starfleet Academy Class Rings of ’66 and ’67

The Starfleet Academy Class Rings (Class of ’66 and ’67) were commissioned by an unknown genius of a fan, and was legitimately made by Jostens, the company that still has a monopoly on class rings. The 14k rings depict the Starfleet Command insignia on top, the Academy’s official emblem with the Golden Gate Bridge, and the flag of the United Federation of Planets. I never bought a class ring in high school because they were absurdly expensive, but would I have bought this and worn it in public on a normal day? Yes.

 

 

Spock's ears
A set of Spock’s ears and the purse they came in

Of course, we can’t talk about this collection without mentioning Spock’s ears. Leonard Nimoy went through dozens of these flimsy foam ears, held on by glue and coated in makeup, melting under the hot lights of the set. Everyone was terribly excited to see them, but during the initial unboxing of the collection, to everyone’s horror, the ears were nowhere to be found. They re-boxed and re-un-boxed the collection several times before someone thought to look in the plastic Barbie purse which, in hindsight, did seem like a very incongruous part of the collection. Now the ears are housed in a sky blue bespoke box with a secret drawer underneath for their original home, the Barbie purse.

 

 

The Beauty of Handwritten Cookbooks with Diane Ray

I really admire everyday items that are well made and functional, but also beautiful in a way that enhances use without interfering with functionality. Well-crafted wood furniture comes to mind, or mosaic floors. After looking for items to highlight for Bibliophiles, I have a new item to add to that list—cookbook manuscripts!

This 1818 cookbook from East Hartford shows that the writer was intentionally enhancing the titles, as many of them are unfinished. A few show the writers intent, with flourishing capitals and dark, filled in

Pudding recipes from the 1818 East Hartford cookbook

letters. However most simply start with the second letter, lightly sketched, as though the author never got around to finishing. I think that’s something most of us can relate to.

The book is only 6 1/4 x 4 inches, bound in marbled paper-covered boards. There is not a lot of information given about the author of this cookbook, and the recipes are in a few different hands, suggesting multiple contributors, maybe from the same family. The last person to write in it gives us a clue of origin, as they write after their last entry “East Hartford, July 29, 1818.” 

Recipe “To Make Past of Apples” from American Cookbook 

This is an American cookbook from 1759, written in a style of handwriting that calls to mind cobbled streets, buckle shoes and pewter shops. Similar to the other recipe books from this era in our collection, rather than listing ingredients with detailed instructions as one expects today, the writer assumes a certain level of base knowledge of cooking in a colonial kitchen. Details for preparation are given in a rather conversational tone, as if they were in your kitchen talking you through it.

We presume it is American because at one point it mentions the purchase of “Indian meal and corn”. There are clues to ownership with inscriptions in the beginning and end of the book “M. Ragen” & “From M. Regan to Hannah Wade.”, respectively. Other recipes include: To preserrve Quinces white; To make Marmalad of Orenges; To make Raspberry Cakes, To make Marmalad of Abricots; the best kind of perfuming Cakes to Burne; The Ordinary Sort of perfuming Cakes; and To make Puff & Past, very double & good” 

 

 

Cakes page from cookbook
Close look of “Cakes” page from this Emma Cornelius Ricketson’s Cookbook

Emma Cornelius Ricketson’s cookbook has the nicest cover of the three cookbook manuscripts mentioned, with the presumed writer’s name “Emma C. Ricketson’’ embossed in gold on the cover. Said author also took the most care to insure proper inheritance, which is spelled on the first page: “Published by Wm. K. Tallman to whom it is willed in case he outlives the above Emma Cornelia. But in case the said Emma Cornela outlives the Publisher then it is to pass over to Abby Y. Gherman provided however she outlives the 2 aforementioned.” Special Collections, while not listed, is proud to take their place in what was surely a distinguished line of previous owners.

Similar to the previous cookbooks, these recipes do not offer extensive instruction. In fact, it often simply lists the ingredients and trusts the reader knows how to do the rest.

Dated 1862 and labeled as being from New Bedford, the recipes are broken into categories such as “Meats,” “Breakfast and Tea,” “Sauces,” “Puddings,” “Pies, Desserts, Jellies, Gingerbread Cookes, Etc.,” “Cake,” “Wines,” and “Miscellaneous,” which includes recipes for such things as cologne, pomade, hair tonic, and to perfume sick rooms (A few drops of oil of sandalwood dropped onto a hot shovel in case you were interested)

 

An Introduction to the Archival Manuscripts Collection of Chinese Writers with Shu Wan

Close up of Chinese manuscript
Look at Ting Ling’s letter to Hualing Nieh Engle

I feel delighted to introduce the rare Chinese-language collection, Manuscripts of Chinese Writers held in Special Collections & University Archives. Growing up in a family with the tradition of bookworms, I have been passionate about reading literary works since my childhood. Chinese writer Wang Meng’s novels, journalist Xu Chi‘s non-fiction books, and poet Can Xue’s poems were my “pillow books” (Zhen Bian Du Wu). This Chinese phrase refers to the books placed under someone’s pillow, which enables them to read those books for convenience before falling asleep. So, when I found the rare Chinese-language collection containing those writers’ manuscripts, I felt excited to introduce them to my American friends and patrons. As a graduate student working in Special Collections & University Archives, I was given the opportunity to touch those manuscripts in the Chinese Writers’ Collection.

The history of this rare Chinese-language collection can be traced back to the early 1990s. The first Chinese reference librarian in the UI Libraries, Dr. Peter Xinping Zhou, was engaged in the creation of this collection. According to his memoir, “in October 1991, the University of Iowa Libraries authorized the creation of a Chinese writers’ special collection consisting of the complete works and selected manuscripts authored by Chinese writers who have participated in the International Writing Program or the Iowa Writers’ Workshops.” (Peter X. Zhou, “Chinese Writers in Iowa.” Books at Iowa, no.58, 1993, p. 6. https://doi.org/10.17077/0006-7474.1229) Thanks to Dr. Zhou’s efforts in contacting those Chinese writers and seeking the donation of their manuscripts, we can now read them in the reading room of the UI Special Collections.

The most interesting discovery, which I took when processing the manuscripts in the collection, is the new lens to look at the Chinese feminist writer Ting Ling. Different from the impression I took from reading her books, I found a very “personal” face of Ting Ling. As seen in the following photocopy of Ting Ling’s letter to Hualing Nieh Engle in 1980, in its end, she wrote, “let me shake your hand closely again. ” She is so passionate and emotional!

Although the lack of knowledge in the Chinese language may hinder local readers’ exploration of this collection, they may take opportunities to read and grasp those manuscripts very soon. The librarians, archivists, and student workers in the library are working on selectively translating these literary works. For example, I am engaged in establishing a bilingual linked-data database. The initial outcome of this project will be presented in the 2020 LD4 Conference on Linked Data in Libraries in Dallas this summer. Moreover, another in-progress project of an annotated bibliography of those literary works in the collection will be posted online late this summer.

Top 10 Things Found from Student Shelver

I was hired at Special Collections to shelve things. Books, boxes and everything in-between. As time went on, I began putting away newly acquired books as well as gathering the material for classroom use.

There are so many books and material passing through my hands each shift I complete, and each book or item is unique. Some test the true definition of what a book should be, or what our image of a book is. So, in no particular order, here are my ten favorite books I have found in the stacks:

 

 

 

Winnie ille Pu by A.A. Milne (xPZ5.M65 W512) 

This is a Latin version of A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. This silly old bear is still a favorite of mine, and I love that it is so popular that it even comes in a dead language. The cover also depicts Pooh and Piglet wearing Roman battle gear.

The inside of Paper Samples.

Paper Samples 1966 by Glen Dawson (Smith TS1220.D27 1966)

This is one of our many miniature books, but it is one of my favorites because it is a mini-book with little paper samples in it. That’s it.

The Perfect Martini by Emily Martin (Szathmary N7433.4.M364 P47 1998)

I really enjoy this artist book because it makes you consider what a book to be. This is literally a martini glass with an olive in the bottom. The only words are on the box it is encased in, saying: “Place ice in a shaker, fill as needed with gin. Observe a moment of silence for the vermouth. Strain into a martini glass. Add olives and serve. Instructions may be repeated.”

Complete Works by William Shakespeare

Complete Works by William Shakespeare (Smith PR2754.E5 1904 v 1-40) 

 Shakespeare is one of my favorite authors to study, so it’s only fitting to put him in my list. This book I listed is actually all of his plays, but they’re mini!!! And they come with their own rotating bookshelf! I love everything about this set, including the floral end-paper.

Global Perspectives by Christian Science Publishing Society  (Maps G3201.A67 1968 .C5) 

This one is from our Maps Collection. We have so many different maps, but this one stuck out to me because it’s the United States seen from the perspective of Canada.

Box for God Created the Sea and Painted it Blue so We’d Feel Good on it

God Created the Sea and Painted it Blue So We’d Feel Good on it by Michelle Ray (xN7433.4.R39 G63 2013)

This was one of the first books I came across while working here, and it has stuck with me during my two years here. It isn’t the book that is the wow factor, but the box that holds the book. It is simply beautiful. The detail included on it and the way you can feel the water moving makes it a special piece.

The edge of Summer

Autumn; or: The Causes, Appearances, and Effects of the Seasonal Decay and Decomposition of Nature by Robert Mudie (QH81.M93 1837), Spring, or: The Causes, Appearances, and Effects of the Seasonal Renovations of Nature in All Climates by Robert Mudie (QH81.M933 1837), Summer, or: The Causes, Appearances, and Effects of the Grand Nuptials of Nature in All Its Departments by Robert Murdie (QH81.M934 1837) and Winter, or: The Causes, Appearances, and Effects of the Great Seasonal Repost of Nature by Robert Murdie (QH81.M935 1837) 

I had to group all four of these together because it is just too hard to pick one. If you do pick one, then you pick your favorite season. I don’t like these books for the words or the cover, but for the image that is hidden on the spine.  When you fold the pages of the book a certain way, an image is presented to you. That image is a season; four books for four seasons. 

El Taco de Ojo = Easy on the Eye

El Taco De Ojo = Easy on the Eye by Edward H. Hutchins (Szathmary N7433.4.H88 T33 2000)

I couldn’t tell you exactly why I like this book so much, or why it made it to the list instead of other books. I mean, it’s literally a book in the shape of a taco. And who doesn’t love tacos?

Plotted: a Literary Atlas by Andrew DeGraff (Maps PN56.M265 D44 2015)

Now, this is an interesting piece because it also comes from our Maps Collection, but it isn’t a map of a place you can visit physically. This book contains different maps of famous literary tales, including the short story “The Lottery” and The Odyssey.

Curtis’s Botanical Magazine by John Sims (xQK1.C9 any volume)

Inside Curtis’s Botanical Magazine volume 5-6.

These are simply beautiful. They have illustrations of different flowers in it and its gorgeous. It makes me wish I had the talent to do something like that. And all of the volumes are created that way. 

 

Seth in front of Lincoln's Portrait

Seth Torchia goes to Washington

Special Collections student worker Seth Torchia spent a fascinating summer interning at the National Archives. We are excited for Seth to have had this wonderful opportunity and asked him to share his experiences below. 

Seth in front of Lincoln's Portrait
Seth in front of Lincoln’s Portrait


National Archives building
National Archives in D.C.

This summer, I interned at the National Archives assisting with the Lincoln Archives Digital Project. The Lincoln Archives Digital Project is a website that posts documents used during Lincoln’s presidency that are stored at the National Archives. Throughout the summer, I was in charge of the letters that were used to discharge immigrants from the Union Army because they were not yet legal citizens of the United States. The letters were issued to Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, from Secretary of State William H. Seward, informing Stanton of their discharge. The majority of these immigrants came from modern-day Germany and Great Britain and were living in either Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, or Maryland.

My duties included taking inventory of all of the letters, scanning and photoshopping the letters for the website, as well as typing out the software coding for the letters to be posted onto the website. Apart from myself, I worked with 3 other students, who were working on their own document collections, and with my supervisor and founder of the website, Karen Needles. On Mondays we would work at the National Archives facility in College Park, Maryland where we would focus on the website programming. The following Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, involved working at the main building in Washington, D.C. where we would continue our work on inventory, scanning, or photoshopping.

Note from Lincoln
Note from A. Lincoln

During my internship, I had time do my own research, and I found Abraham Lincoln’s signature in regards to a pardon case. I also discovered my great-grandfather’s promotion notice during his service in World War I. Working at the National Archives was a surreal experience as I was working in one of the world’s largest archival facilities, as well as one of the most historic places in the United States. I gained new skills during my internship, such as advanced computer knowledge, and feel I have really improved my research skills. I also got to see three of my professors who have taught me in previous classes here at Iowa. They were doing their own research, which I thought was neat to see.

As well as my internship, I had plenty of time to explore Washington, D.C. My favorite things in D.C. were visiting the Library of Congress, touring the FBI Building, spending the 4th of July on the National Mall, and watching the Washington Capitals win the Stanley Cup. I had a great summer living in D.C. and my internship will be an experience I will never forget!

Best Wishes to Our Graduating Student Workers

By Lindsay Moen, Department Liaison

It has only been a few months into my new position as Department Liaison, and one of my major job duties is to supervise the student employees. I did not anticipate that the hardest part of this new job would be watching wonderful students graduate and leave the department.

This Fall 2015 semester, two outstanding students graduated: Zoë Webb and Mallory Price. Both students will be sorely missed, and I think I can speak for the entire department when I say, they will be hard to replace!

students reading cards
Zoë and Mallory reading graduation cards from the Special Collections staff.

 

Zoë Webb graduated this semester from the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History with a degree in Art, and finalized her undergraduate career with a BFA show titled “Don’t Stray From the Path”. Zoë’s show featured a room not only filled with her original artwork, including some impressive metal works, but it also included artistically placed trees and leaves to give the viewer the sense of walking through an ethereal forest inhabited by faeries.

Zoë began her Special Collections journey in January 2012, where she has completed a wide variety of projects in the department. She’s made spine labels, processed books, including hundreds of science-fiction paperbacks, and helped with some major shifting projects in her many years here. I will definitely miss her shared love of fandom, expert artistic skills, and knack for finding amazing things on accident.


Mallory began working in the Special Collections department in May 2014, and during her time here has been our primary front desk student. Along with assisting patrons with numerous questions, ranging from helping them to use the scanner, to detailed research questions, Mallory has proved herself to be a huge asset in all things reference! I will miss her expertise in helping others, her positive attitude, and friendly smile!Mallory Price graduated this semester from the University of Iowa School of Music with a Bachelor’s degree in Music, with a focus on Music Therapy. An outstanding violin player, Mallory finalized her undergraduate career with a Senior Recital, playing music from Beethoven, Fritz Kreisler, and Dvořák.

On behalf of the entire Special Collections and University Archives Department, we wish Zoë and Mallory the best of luck in the future!

 

The Glenn Voting Machine

by Shawn R. Conley –  student worker in Special Collections

Cover of The Glenn Voting MachineWith the election year in full swing and Election Day looming, most of us will be making our way to that legendary voting booth with the fancy curtains to cast our vote and take part in yet another one of our civic duties. Most of all, and assuredly most rewarding, is having the liberty to have taken part in a Presidential election that was established in our country nearly two-and-a-half centuries ago. Delusions of Americana aside, many of us are just glad to get that sought-after “I Voted” sticker one we’ve finished.

Why use Glenn Voting Machines?As millions of men and women flood the voting booths across the nation, the arduous task remains: how does one count these millions of votes? The task of an accurate and speedy vote count is something our forefathers have been tackling since our country was founded. During the 19th century, a flurry of new ideas and machines arose to combat this problem. One of these companies attempting to deliver “…a fair vote and an honest count” according to their brochure from over a century ago, was the Glenn Voting Machine Company of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

While sorting and cataloguing my way through a collection of papers and letters from E.J.C. Bealer, a very prominent businessman and stone quarry magnate from Cedar Rapids, I came across a large number of stock certificates from as far back as 1898 from long defunct companies like the Tykoon Mining Company and the American Gold Production Company. Tucked between these certificates was a little blue book with gold letters titled, “The Glenn Voting Machine.” Mr. Bealer had quite an investment in this company through the many stock certificates I found.

“Why use Glenn Voting Machines?” asks the third page of the brochure. During this time in American history, the entire logistical process of voting was changing directions. Through the evidence exhibited by this brochure, one can see how appealing casting a vote by machine would be. All one must do according to page nine is to “place the pointers on the names of the candidates of your choice — walk out.” Not only would the mechanical voting machine make voting much simpler, but it might even make voting fun or appealing which is something political scientists try to figure out to this day.         

Image of voting machineTaking a look at the illustrations of the machine, one can make out the presidential candidates of the 1904 election: Theodore Roosevelt and Alton B. Parker. The simplicity of the machine is hinted throughout the brochure, ensuring that every gentleman’s vote is precise. Sorry ladies, your time hasn’t arrived just yet…give it a few more years. Towards the end of the brochure are many newspaper articles and clippings, exhibiting how the Glenn Voting Machine promises “Fast Returns!” and “desirability” of a mechanical voting machine as compared to old-fashioned paper ballots.

So when you finally do make your way to the voting booth, pull those fancy curtains shut, and cast your vote for President of the United States, remember that it was through the inventions of companies like the Glenn Voting Machine Company of Cedar Rapids, Iowa that allow us to ever so conveniently cast our votes on LED screens and receive “Fast Returns!”

We’re Moving on Up!

 

The thunderous noise in the halls near Special Collections & University Archives is not an approaching storm, (we have had enough water for a lifetime), but rather the sound of cart wheels rolling back and forth carrying shelves.  The Books are on the Move all over the Main Library and Special Collections is no exception.  Our basement storage area is infamous from the 2008 flood, when hundreds of volunteers from across the campus and the community joined in an effort to relocate 14,000 linear feet of books and manuscripts to higher floors. Now, as a consequence of the upcoming renovation work in the Main Library, we have an opportunity to honor their contribution by ensuring it will not likely be needed again. We are moving all of the collections up from the basement to the third floor.  Our collections will all be housed together, greatly increasing our ability to page items quickly for our patrons. 

We are undertaking this move internally so yesterday our dedicated student workers finished replacing small shelves with larger ones that will safely hold Special Collections materials and archival boxes.  Our students, trained in handling rare materials and familiar with our storage locations proved themselves this summer when they shifted thousands of volumes in our third floor stacks in far less time than we planned for the project. Lindsay Morecraft has helped with both moves and she thinks student movers have advantages.  “We know these materials and know that they have to be taken care of.  We can see them as individual items and not as just objects to be moved so we can handle the materials better and be sure nothing gets lost, out of order, or damaged.  It’s a lot of work, but in the end not going down to the basement and having everything in a central area will be a big help.”

Our heartfelt thanks go out to all of our student workers and volunteers. Though their work is hidden, today, like every day, the paging, shelving, processing, and moving are what make it possible for everyone from visiting classes, to researchers in the reading room, to junior high students working on National History Day projects, to be able to see and learn from our collections and contribute to the life of the university and our UNESCO City of Literature, Iowa City.