Author Archives: Catherine Niehaus

Discovering Chicago’s rare books with Elizabeth Frengel

Elizabeth Frengel holds a rare book

Elizabeth Frengel, curator of rare books (Photo by Eddie Quinones)

In her first year as curator of rare books in the Special Collections Research Center, Elizabeth Frengel has begun discovering the Library’s diverse treasures and identifying opportunities to enhance its holdings. Frengel came to the University of Chicago Library from her position as Head of Research Services at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. At Chicago, she is responsible for building and caring for the collections, as well as engaging faculty, students, and donors with the Special Collections Research Center’s materials, services, and programs.

With 340,000 rare books in Special Collections, Frengel has examined gems of historical importance and surpassing beauty. While delicately turning the pages of one of her favorites, an 1894 Kelmscott edition of The Tale of King Coustans the Emperor, Frengel notes the elegance of its inner design in contrast to the slightly worn condition of its exterior. Acquired with support from the Joseph and Helen Regenstein Rare Book Fund, this particular volume likely functioned as a press room or proof copy, or a remainder held by the press. “Such extra-textual components of the book can inform scholars’ understanding of the production processes of the press,” Frengel explains. Additionally, the work contains a handwritten note by Charles W. Howell on the front free endpaper stating that this copy survived the infamous fire at the Ballantyne Press in 1899. Such a notation further reveals this volume’s history and role as a complex cultural object rather than simply a textual conduit.

A hand points at an Arctic expedition map

A 16th-century Arctic expedition map bequeathed by Eleonora C. Gordon, M.D. (Photo by Eddie Quinones)

From handwritten notes to book illustrations, Frengel observes that extra-textual elements in the rare books collections often infuse works with layers of meaning and rich research value. For instance, Frengel was thrilled to see the Library become the new home of two exquisitely illustrated items documenting 16th century polar explorations, bequeathed by Eleonora C. Gordon, M.D.: a map and an Arctic expedition log supplemented with stunningly clean and detailed engravings depicting the crew’s adventures with a sweeping sense of dynamism.

Since arriving at Chicago, Frengel has also had the opportunity to work with Graham School student Robert S. Connors, who generously donated to the Library nearly 400 rare volumes from the 15th to the 20th centuries. According to Frengel, “Acquisitions such as this are important to scholars studying the transmission of classical texts through time and across cultures.” She is especially grateful to have received eleven incunable titles from the earliest period of European printing, including a 1475 edition of Augustine’s Confessions.

Frengel plans to continue learning as much as possible about the immense collections of rare books at Chicago. She envisions helping to build collections through acquisitions in areas such as classical texts in the early modern period, including Homer in print; Judaica; 19th-century literature; African Americana; and works that illustrate the history of the material text.

The Library looks forward to more energetic years of intellectual curiosity and thoughtful curation of rare books in the future.

Hands hold open a book with text in red and black

This 1894 Kelmscott edition of “The Tale of King Coustans the Emperor” was saved from the fire at Ballantyne Press in 1899. (Photo by Eddie Quinones)

Alumni Weekend at the Library

The University of Chicago Library welcomes alumni back to campus with four special programs. Alumni and their guests are welcome to register online and peruse a wide selection of programming taking place throughout campus from Thursday, June 6 through Sunday, June 9, 2019.

UChicago Alumni Weekend - June 6-9, 2019Special Collections Research Center Alumni Donation Event

The Joseph Regenstein Library, Special Collections Research Center, 1100 E. 57th St.

  • Friday, June 7, 2:30–4:00 p.m.

The University archives document all aspects of student life. Alumni are invited to bring some of their own UChicago history back to campus to add to the collections. UChicago T-shirts, buttons, tote bags, posters, programs, flyers, and more are welcome. Talk with the University’s assistant archivist about other student memorabilia you might want to donate. Special Collections will be displaying a selection of student life items from the archives for you to enjoy.

Tour the John Crerar Library, Department of Computer Science, and the MADD Center

The John Crerar Library, 5730 S. Ellis Ave.

  • Thursday, June 6, 1–2 p.m.
  • Friday, June 7, 10–11 a.m.
  • Saturday, June 8, 10–11 a.m.

The newly renovated John Crerar Library is home to collections and resources in the sciences; the Department of Computer Science; and the new Media Arts, Data, and Design Center (MADD), including the Research Computing Center Visualization Lab. Tour these new facilities and see demonstrations of digital fabrication, data visualization, wearable technology, and more.

Library Resources for Alumni

The Joseph Regenstein Library, Room 122B, 1100 E. 57th St.

  • Friday, June 7, 11:15–11:45 a.m.

Join librarian Greg Fleming to learn about UChicago Library resources and services for alumni, including how to establish borrowing privileges, access online resources, and obtain research assistance.

Joe and Rika Mansueto Library Tour: Discover the Dome

The Joseph Regenstein Library, Lobby, 1100 E. 57th St.

  • Friday, June 7, 3–4:15 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 8, 12–1:15 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 8, 3:15–4:30 p.m.

The UChicago Library remains at the center of research, learning, and campus life at UChicago. Tour the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, designed by renowned architect Helmut Jahn. Admire the striking glass-domed Grand Reading Room, and see the robotic storage and retrieval system.

 

When Fascism Wins: 80 Years from the Spanish Anti-Fascist Exile

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Third Floor
Exhibit Dates: April 1 – June 15, 2019

Photograph of María Teresa León

María Teresa León, 1938 (Source: Archivo Isabel Clara Ángeles Alarcón, Barcelona)

Curated by Collegiate Assistant Professor Miguel Caballero, with a selection of poems and prose translated into English by Maya Osman-Krinsky (Class of 2021)

In the spring of 1939, General Francisco Franco and his allied Nazi and Fascist forces took Madrid and Catalonia. After three years of war, the Spanish Republic eventually collapsed. Hundreds of thousands died or went into exile, among them dozens of writers and artists. Many fled to Europe, which was on the cusp of the Second World War. Many others moved to Latin America, the Soviet Union and even the United States, where they spent decades, as Franco’s military dictatorship continued in Spain.

The Regenstein Library has a rich collection of works by these authors who died fighting fascism or had to flee Spain. Some never came back. This exhibition, on the 80th anniversary of the beginning of their mass exile, is a homage to their political commitment and literary endeavors. Curated by Collegiate Assistant Professor Miguel Caballero, with a selection of poems and prose translated into English by Maya Osman-Krinsky (Class of 2021), it presents a selection of works written in the 1930s or during exile organized around three themes: uprooting and death; domestic epics; and self-sufficiency and power.

Tribune: Bellow Papers at UChicago Library ‘bring you closer to the writer’

Diving into Saul Bellow’s archives
Chicago Tribune – May 16, 2019

Maroon: UChicago Library ‘ideal place’ for collection of rare books

Alum Donates 400 Volumes to Special Collections
Chicago Maroon – May 7, 2019

‘Augie March’ Panel Discussion

Celebrate the exhibition The Adaptations of Augie March and the production The Adventures of Augie March by joining in conversation with:

The Adaptations of Augie March

  • Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, Court Theatre
  • Nora Titone, Resident Dramaturg, Court Theatre
  • Daniel Meyer, Director of Special Collections and University Archivist

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

5:00 pm — Exhibition Viewing
5:45 pm — Special Remarks and Program
7:00 pm — Reception

The Joseph Regenstein Library
Room 122
1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, Illinois

RSVP by May 14, 2019

Presented by the University of Chicago Library Society and Court Theatre

 

Chicago Tonight: Gift of rare books includes ‘remarkable’ incunabula

Cancer diagnosis leads to donation of 400 rare, valuable books
Chicago Tonight – May 1, 2019

The Adaptations of Augie March: A Novel by Saul Bellow, A Play by David Auburn, A Production Directed by Charles Newell, An Exhibition by Special Collections and Court Theatre

Exhibition Dates: April 29 — August 30, 2019
Location: Special Collections Research Center Gallery, 1100 E. 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

Rendering of costume for Augie March with blue shirt and blue pants

Sally Dolembo’s costume design for “The Adventures of Augie March,” final rendering of Augie March

Saul Bellow’s 1953 masterpiece, The Adventures of Augie March, launched his reputation as a novelist and established the future Nobel Laureate’s literary renown. In 2015, Court Theatre commissioned the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning playwright David Auburn, AB ’91, to adapt Augie March for the stage. This exhibit showcases treasures from Special Collections Research Center’s Saul Bellow Papers in juxtaposition with materials generated by theatre artists working toward Court’s May 2019 world premiere. On display are early handwritten drafts of Bellow’s novel; the original drafts of David Auburn’s stage adaptation; Charles Newell’s artistic notes and plans for building the world of the play; costume designer Sally Dolembo’s sketches; the mind-bending design work of shadow puppetry collective Manual Cinema; and John Culbert’s minimalist, non-literal design for a set capable of evoking disparate places. The exhibit invites visitors to step into the world of Augie March—as Bellow imagined it, Auburn adapted it, and Newell envisioned it on stage. 

Curator: Nora Titone, Dramaturg at the Court Theatre

Photo of David Auburn

David Auburn

 

Associated Production

The Adventures of Augie March
Court Theatre
May 9 — June 9, 2019

Use of Images and Media Contact

Images from the exhibition included on this page are available for download to members of the media and are reserved for editorial use in connection with University of Chicago Library exhibitions, programs, or related news. For more information and images, contact Rachel Rosenberg at ra-rosenberg@uchicago.edu or 773-834-1519.

Photo of Saul Bellow with his signature in passport

U.S. Passport, 1951, Saul Bellow Papers, Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library

Tribune: Graham School student donates treasure trove of rare books

After cancer diagnosis, Oak Park man surprises U. of C. with treasure trove of rare books
Chicago Tribune — April 11, 2019

UChicago Common Book Initiative: An Evening with Thi Bui

Photo of Thi Bui with event informationJoin the UChicago campus community in a conversation with Thi Bui, award-winning author of The Best We Could Do, the inaugural Common Book selection. The graphic novel details the author and her family’s journey from Vietnam to the United States as part of the wave of refugees in the 1970s.

Monday, April 22, 2019
Assembly Hall
UChicago International House
1414 E. 59th St.

6 p.m. – Lecture
7 p.m. – Book signing (books will be available for purchase)

Registration is appreciated but not required. Visit inclusion.uchicago.edu/commonbook.

Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact International House at 773-753-2274 or i-house-programs@uchicago.edu.

UChicago students, faculty, and staff can borrow copies of The Best We Could Do from Regenstein Library or access an e-copy at http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/h/best.