Remembering the Gettysburg Address

Today is the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The Iowa Digital Library includes over 1000 items digitized from the archives of Lincolniana collector James Wills Bollinger.

View additional items from the Bollinger-Lincoln digital collection.

This is Abraham Lincoln, Page 14
This is Abraham Lincoln, 1941, Page 14 | The James W. Bollinger Digital Collection

This is Abraham Lincoln, Page 15
This is Abraham Lincoln, 1941, Page 15 | The James W. Bollinger Digital Collection
Lincoln, a story in poster stamps, 1939 | The James W. Bollinger Digital Collection








The Gettysburg Speech, Bernard Wall etching, 1924 | The James W. Bollinger Digital Collection.

Remembering Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe (1930–2013) never came to Iowa City, so our connection with him in our collection is slight. However, since he recently died and given the importance of his work, I wanted to highlight a few items in our digital collections.

Pictured are: (from left) Louis Lomax, Bill Kelley, Esther Walls, John Killens, Chinua Achebe, Leroi Jones

The Esther Walls papers include 3 pictures of him at the Countee Cullen Branch of the New York Public Library in May, 1963. He was part of a black writers panel, moderated by Esther Walls. Other panelists were Louis Lomax, Bill Kelley, John Killens and Leroi Jones.

Esther Walls moderating a panel of black writers. Pictured are: (from left) Bill Kelley, Chinua Achebe, Louis Lomax, Esther Walls, Leroi Jones (obscured), John Killens

We of course also have many books written by him; reading his works is the best way to remember his legacy.

Happy birthday Bram Stoker

Here are some items from our collection that would make appropriate reading for Bram Stoker’s 165th birthday:

Perry, Dennis R.. “Whitman’s Influence on Stoker’s Dracula.” Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 3 (12 1986), 29-35.

Explores the hitherto neglected topic of Whitman’s potential influence on his admirer, Bram Stoker, emphasizing the writers’ mutual fascination with death, with the boundaries of body and self, and with the connectedness between things; explicates Stoker’s “nightmarish inversion” of Whitman’s themes.

Havlik, Robert J. “Walt Whitman and Bram Stoker: The Lincoln Connection.” Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 4 (Spring 1987), 9-16.

Describes the importance of the recent discovery of the University of Notre Dame Stoker/Lincoln manuscript and relates its importance to Stoker’s encounters with Whitman and the evolution of their relationship; suggests that Whitman may have influenced Stoker’s views on Lincoln.

Howe, Kathryn. “Vampire Boot Camp: Students Sunk Their Teeth into a Summer of Dark Literature” Iowa Alumni Magazine 59 (February 2006), 16-17.

Butler, Erik. “Writing and Vampiric Contagion in Dracula.” Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies 2 (2002): 13-32.

Chambers, Samuel A. and Williford, Daniel (2004) “Anti-Imperialism in the Buffy-verse: Challenging the Mythos of Bush as Vampire Slayer,” Poroi: Vol. 3: Iss. 2: p. 109-129.

Nelson, John S. (2003) “Cowboys or Vampire Killers? The Bush Gang Rides Again, or American Figures in Foreign Affairs,” Poroi: Vol. 2: Iss. 2: p. 104-117.

Buscemi, Nicole Desiree. “Diagnosing narratives: illness, the case history, and Victorian fiction.” dissertation, University of Iowa, 2009.

Korean War

The Korean War started 60 years ago today. I grew up knowing about the war as fictionalized by M*A*S*H. In history class, we never made it that far into the twentieth century and, unlike today, the conflict between North & South Korea never came up in our current events conversations, making it a forgotten war.

Otto Knauth talking about Korean War headlineThe University of Iowa Libraries digital collections have a small amount of material relevant for people interested in learning more about this conflict.

In an oral history interview, Otto Knauth, a former Des Moines register reporter, recounts putting together the story of the invasion.

“I think it was on June 25, 1950, and the North Koreans invaded South Korea. I got the job of editing that story. It was a Saturday night and it was for the Sunday Register. That was, by far, the biggest story that I had ever handled. I worked on it all night long because we kept getting updates all the way through. So, from edition to edition, it meant changing the story, maybe putting a new lead on it, expanding the text down below, and writing new headlines for it.”

According to the October 1950 issue of the Iowa Alumni Review, the war was featured as part of the 1950 summer lecture series, with three speakers giving different perspectives on the war.  One speaker, Max Lerner, stated “We must help the revolutionary forces in Asia become a democratic force. We must be on the side of racial equality and social reform everywhere—and at home, too.”

Henry Wallace letter to Harry WeinbergOur collections also include papers of Henry A. Wallace. His view towards communism changed due to the Korean War, so some of these letters are of particular importance for learning about the effects of the war on attitudes in the United States. A Feb 20 1951 letter to Harry Weinberg clarifies his differences of opinion with Truman.

“That I partially agree with the Administration on Korea does not mean I back all its foreign policy … I believe the USA should provisionally offer to the USSR and the World a genuine peace program to stimulate productivity and rapidly improve the standard of living of all backward and undeveloped areas of the world.”

Korean War Phase 4 poster

Our government poster collection includes a chronology of phase 4 of the war, detailing events of 25 January-21 April 1951.  During this time the US and republic of Korea forces decided to cross the 38th parallel again and General MacArthur was relieved of duty.

You can also learn about the war from the broader social context in the United States, including the Cold war and fears of the “Red Menace”. One of the speakers on the Chautauqua circuit, Edward Hunter, the author of Brain-washing in Red China,Brain washing and what it means to you brochure advertised his talk about the communist brainwashing, by saying “Here is an expose of the Communists’ best kept secret, a glimpse behind the bamboo curtain at the sinister, ruthlessly effective technique by which the Reds are attempting to conquer the minds of men.”

This is not the only view presented on the Chautauqua circuit; our collections include a brochure for a movie by Thomas E. Benner showing life and culture of the Korean film, made before and after the communist invasion.

While the UI press book Memoirs of a Cold War Son doesn’t directly talk about the Korean War, it gives a first hand account of growing up in this era.

Our collections also include analyses of various aspects of the war. For example, we have a 1997 interview of Han Ki about the effect of the Korean War on literary production in Korea.  You can also listen to Marshall Poe’s interview of Julian E. Zelizer about his book Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security From WWII to the War on Terrorism.

Unfortunately, the armistice between North and South Korea is fragile and the world still is dealing with hostilities. Our Foreign Relations Council series includes several talks about North Korea, including a lecture by Scott Snyder on Dec 1, 2009 about the 6 party talks.

1970 Student Protests

Spring of 1970 was a tumultuous time on college campuses. On April 30, President Richard Nixon announced that U.S forces would invade Cambodia because of the recent communist coup. Students around the country protested this escalation of the Vietnam War. On May 4, the National Guard fired on students at Kent State University, killing 4 and wounding 9 people, which ignited protests all over the country.

 Daily Iowan front page May 5, 1970

Anti-war protests were not new to Iowa City or to elsewhere in Iowa; protests had been occurring throughout the 1960s.

Iowa City Peace March    Des Moines Protestors in 1966

Spring of 1970 was different.

After the Kent State shootings, students marched on the National Guard Armory, broke windows there and also in some downtown businesses. The City Council gave the mayor curfew powers. On May 6 there was a student boycott of classes. That night about 400 people had a “sleep-in” in front of the Old Capitol.  That night about 50 people broke into the Old Capitol and set off a smoke bomb. The protestors left voluntarily when asked to do so. Around 2 AM Friday morning President Boyd requested arrest of the students on the Pentacrest by highway patrolmen, but the next day he regretted the mass arrests and said he had received faulty information. On May 8, President Boyd cancelled the 89th annual Governor’s day ROTC observance for the following day. On Friday and Saturday a National Guard helicopter circled the Pentacrest.

Map showing location of "big Pink"In the early morning hours of Saturday, May 9, the Old Armory Temporary (O.A.T.), also known as “Big Pink”, which housed the writing lab, was burned down. This building was located was next to the Old Armory, where the Adler Journalism and Mass Communications building currently is located. O.A.T was said to be at the top of a list of buildings for burning, probably due to its poor condition and was considered a firetrap. Fireman controlling "Big Pink" fireThe Iowa Alumni Review includes an article about the fire in which the author states: “Only the ends stayed upright. … On the south, Lou Kelly’s Writing lab bearing the sign ‘another mother for peace,’ escaped.” There was a second, smaller fire on Saturday evening in a restroom in the East Hall Annex.

By Sunday morning, President Boyd gave students the option to leave. Classes were not cancelled but students could leave and take the grade they currently had.

Daily Iowan front page May 11, 1970

Student ProtestsAn account of the May 1970 protests can be read in the June-July issue of the Iowa Alumni Review.

In his autobiography, My Iowa Journey: The Life Story of the University of Iowa’s First African American Professor, Philip Hubbard (University Vice-Provost in 1970) gives an administrator’s perspective of all the protests of the 1960s.  He supported the student’s right to protest and in 1966 stated:

Students should not accept everything that is dished out to them. We don’t want to dictate what they should or should not do. However, student demonstrations should remain within the law and good taste without interfering with the university’s primary purpose of instructing students.

During this time there was also a strong ROTC presence on campus.


The 1970 yearbook includes many pictures of the men and women who chose to serve the country in this manner. Their presence on campus and the academic credit they received for their service was called into question by both students and faculty in the spring of 1970, but Boyd said he could not abolish ROTC. The Alumni Review had an article called “ROTC: Alive and well at Iowa” in the December 1969 issue which helps provide a more complete picture of this period in history.

More information about protests at the University of Iowa can be found by consulting the “University Archives Resource guide to Student Protest Movements.”