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Art in the Stacks: Selections from Special Collections

Exhibition Dates: June 19–September 8, 2017
Location: Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

Installation view: In the foreground: Edouard Benedictus’s “Nouvelles variations, soixante-quinze motifs décoratifs en vingt planches,” [1928?]. In the background: Henri Matisse’s “Jazz,” 1947. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

The Special Collections Research Center is known for being the University of Chicago Library’s center for rare books, manuscripts, and university archives. Nestled within these materials, there is a lesser known aspect of our collections—art. Art in the Stacks highlights these holdings with a selection of original paintings, drawings, and sculptures, in addition to artists’ books and other works on paper produced in the 20th and early 21st centuries.

Stephen Longstreet’s collages

Installation view of Stephen Longstreet’s collages. Stephen Longstreet Collection. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Among the featured items are Picasso etchings, selections from Matisse’s Jazz book, pen and ink drawings by  Harold Haydon (PhB’30, AM’31), Professor Emeritus in Art, University of Chicago, and a bronze sculpture by Ruth Vollmer.

Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m., and, when University of Chicago classes are in session, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Use of Images and Media Contact

Images from the exhibition included on this page are available for download by 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, contact Rachel Rosenberg at ra-rosenberg@uchicago.edu or 773-834-1519.

A Brief History of Protest at the University of Chicago: 1915-1992

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor
Exhibit Dates: May 26 – June 30, 2017

Students march to protest the Draft in 1969

“Students march from Hyde Park into Woodlawn during a draft moratorium rally in Chicago, part of a nationwide day of protest against the Vietnam War.” 10.15.1969.
University of Chicago Photographic Archive, [apf7-03566], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

“Dear Sir: Your readers will be very interested to know the outcome of the conference between the teachers of the Wendell Phillips High School and the citizens’ committee appointed at a meeting of the Negro Fellowship League, January 17th. It will be remembered that on that day both Miss Fannie Smith, dean of girls at the Wendell Phillips School, and Mr. Perrine, assistant principal, addressed the League in explanation and defense of the segregation of White and Colored children in the social room.” So wrote Ida B. Wells, journalist and founding member of the NAACP, in a letter to the editors at the Broad Axe, published by the newspaper on February 27, 1915. The affair became public after Marion Talbot, Dean of Women at the University of Chicago, publicly protested the decision to separate white and black students of Wendell Phillips at social events.

Activists protesting on 10th anniversary of Chernobyl disaster.

“Ronald Schupp (left, in mask), a Chicago civil rights activist and pastor, and Bill Steyert (right) participate in a vigil commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The event, sponsored by Greenpeace and Rockefeller Chapel, featured two speakers who survived the disaster. It was held at the Henry Moore sculpture ‘Nuclear Energy’ on the University of Chicago campus.” 04.26.1996.
University of Chicago Photographic Archive, [apf7-06042-002], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

There exists a long and varied history of social activism among the students, faculty, and staff at the University of Chicago. This exhibit displays documentation of protests that have occurred at the University of Chicago. The material was drawn primarily from the digitized archives of the University, especially the University of Chicago Photographic Archive and the University of Chicago Campus Publications. The scope of the materials, ranging from 1915 to 1992, match the coverage in these two collections.

(Co)-Humanitarian

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fifth Floor
Exhibit Dates: May 1 – August 1, 2017

Cover image of 조선 유적유물도감 / Joseon Dynasty Ruins & Relics Illustrated Book

조선 유적유물도감
Joseon Dynasty Ruins & Relics Illustrated Book

(Co)-Humanitarian uses print and visual resources to illustrate the ideological and geographic divisions between South and North Korea.  The exhibit also conveys North Korea’s human rights issues. In 1948 Korea separated into South and North Korea; it has remained a divided country ever since. The exhibit exposes our generation’s role in acknowledging and understanding the differences between South and North Korea with a view to fostering peaceful communication between the separated nations. The younger generation of the Chicago Korean community conceived this exhibition as a way to connect with North Koreans living in Empower House, which is a U.S. North Korean defector shelter located in Hyde Park, through academic education, art activities, and discussions.

보물을 찾는 소년들 / Boys Searching for Treasure

보물을 찾는 소년들
Boys Searching for Treasure

(Co)-Humanitarian is a collaboration between the University of Chicago Library and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Each institution has curated display cases  on the same topic, but with two different approaches. Emphasizing visual imagery, (Co)-Humanitarian was presented at the SAIC Flaxman Library in January and February 2017 making use of the Joan Flasch Artist Book collections.  The exhibit at the University of Chicago Library displays print publications from South Korea, North Korea, and other countries, focusing on 3 different subjects: North Korean politics, culture, and human rights.

Collection selected by librarians at the University of Chicago:
Jee-Young Park, Korean Studies Librarian, and Nanju Kwon, Visiting Librarian Intern

Display designed by student artists at the Art Institute of Chicago:
Jae Hwan Lim, Rachel Chung and Eun Pyo Hong

Library exhibition poster

The University of Chicago Library display cases

The University of Chicago Library display cases

 

SAIC Flaxman Library display case

SAIC Flaxman Library display case

Catholics, Freethinkers, and the Printed Word in Czech Chicago

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Second Floor
Exhibit Dates: April 24 – August 1, 2017

Portrait of August Geringer

August Geringer (1842-1930), publisher of Svornost, the first Czech-language daily newspaper in the United States, and numerous books of Freethought literature.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Chicago was the largest Czech enclave in the United States and, indeed, constituted the third largest urban concentration of Czechs in the world. Living primarily in the Pilsen and Lawndale neighborhoods on the west side of Chicago, members of the Czech community shared a common language and a strong sense of ethnic identity that manifested itself in a rich and vigorous associational life. There was, however, considerable social tension within this community, based on differing attitudes to religious belief. The primary fault line lay between members of the Catholic Church and those who espoused a form of secular humanism, known as Freethought.

The roots of the division between Catholics and Freethinkers lay in the history and political conditions of the Czech lands, where Catholicism was the state religion and thus strongly associated with Hapsburg rule and its Germanizing cultural policy, while anticlericalism and, more broadly, anti-Catholicism were conjoined with the nationalistic attitudes of those eager to emancipate their land from Austrian political control and cultural hegemony. Because Czech-American Freethought was strongly tinged with anticlericalism, Catholics and Freethinkers came to form two rival camps among Czech Americans, each of which carved out its own distinctive institutional and associational life.

Photograph of Fr. Prokop Neužil

Fr. Prokop Neužil, OSB (1861-1946), founder of the Bohemian Benedictine Press and third abbot of St. Procopius Abbey, Lisle, Illinois.

As ideological rivals, Freethinkers and Catholics sought to make use of the printed word to propagate their views within the Czech-American community. The Czech-language press thus became an important medium in setting the tone for Czech-American culture. The city of Chicago was home to the most important Czech-American Freethought and Catholic publishers in the country—on one side, August Geringer, owner of a small publishing empire based around the daily newspaper Svornost and a committed Freethinker whose press published numerous works of Freethought literature, and, on the other, the Bohemian Benedictine Press run by the Benedictine monks of St. Procopius Abbey, which was the leading publishing venue for Czech-language Catholic literature in the United States. Drawing primarily upon the rich resources of the University of Chicago Library’s ACASA (Archives of Czechs and Slovaks Abroad) collection, this one-case exhibit presents a small selection of the publications of these two presses, illustrating some of the characteristic features of the two poles of Czech-American culture that they represented.

“Seward’s Folly” – “Walrussia” – “The New National Ice House”: In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the purchase of Alaska from Russia, 1867-2017

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Second Floor
Exhibit Dates: April 24 – August 1, 2017

Why did Russia sell Alaska? Why did the United States purchase it? And how did the American public and press react to this purchase in 1867, so soon after the end of the Civil War?

Signing of the Treaty on 30 March 1867

Signing of the Treaty on 30 March 1867
Robert S. Chew (Chief Clerk, State Department), William Seward (Secretary of State), William Hunter (Second Assistant Secretary of State), Vladimir Bodisko (Secretary of the Russian Legation), Eduard Stoeckl (Russian Ambassador to the US), Charles Sumner (Senator from Massachusetts), Frederick Seward (Assistant Secretary of State)

WHY SELL? By the end of the 1850s, after its defeat in the Crimean War, Russia’s tsarist government had no further use for the Russian American Company and began searching for a buyer of the colonies in northwest America, preferably not the British, Russia’s greatest rival in the Pacific. By 1863 Russia concluded that the Russian colonies in America were “at a perfect standstill as regards colonization, hunting, trade, and civic development, and that, generally speaking, the Russian American Company has far from justified the expectations which the government had placed in it” (S. B. Okun. The Russian-American Company.
Tr. by Carl Ginzburg. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1951: 232-33.)

WHY BUY?  William H. Seward, 24th United States Secretary of State (1861-1868), saw the purchase of Alaska as another step in the expansion of the United States in the west, as did Charles Sumner, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts whose 2 1/2 hour speech to the Committee on Foreign Relations presented all of the facts then known about Russian America (i.e. Alaska). He articulated four advantages pertinent to the future interests of the United States: Advantages to the Pacific Coast, Extension of Dominion, Extension of Republican Institutions, and Anticipation of Great Britain.

Treasury draft no. 9759

Treasury draft no. 9759, the check that paid for the purchase of Alaska.
The check, in the amount of $7,200,000, amounted to two cents per acre, and is dated more than a year after the signing of the Treaty of the Cession of the Russian Possessions in North America

Although the Treaty to purchase Alaska was ratified by a 37-2 margin, at a cost of $7,200,000, it caused a great deal of pro and con exposition in the nation’s papers, with the purchase being labeled as “Seward’s Folly,” “Icebergia,” “Walrussia,” “The Nation’s Ice House.” It was well into the 20th century before Alaska’s purchase was generally acknowledged to be of great strategic and financial importance.

Resources for the study of the use of gas by the Nazis to murder

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor
Exhibit Dates: April 12 – April 30, 2017

Pile of clothes next to entrance to gas chamber at Dachau.

Dachau, Germany, 1945, Entrance to a gas chamber and pile of clothes. (Yad Vashem archive, item 13526).

Hitler’s use of gas to murder millions, including German citizens, is well-documented. During World War II, the Nazi regime systematically murdered 6 million Jews, men, women, and children. The first death camp was established on December 8, 1941, at Chelmno in Poland, where gas vans were used to murder 300,000 Polish Jews and 5,000 Sinti and Roma. Starting in March 1942, the Germans built permanent gas chambers at concentration camps in Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. Approximately 1.7 million Polish Jews were murdered at these camps. The Germans established a fifth death camp in Majdanek in late 1941 where approximately 78,000 Jews, Slovaks, Czechs, Germans, and Poles were murdered by the Nazis. Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest Nazi concentration and extermination camp. The Germans began exterminations at Birkenau in October of 1941, using Zyklon B gas in four, permanent gas chambers. There, the Nazis murdered over 1,100,000 Jews, 70,000 Poles, 25,000 Sinti and Roma, and 15,000 prisoners of war.

Cover image from book on Zyclon B gas

Cover image of Zyklon B: die Produktion in Dessau und der Missbrauch durch die deutschen Faschisten (Norderstedt: Books on Demand, 2007).

This exhibit highlights some of the resources available at the University of Chicago Library for the study of Nazi atrocities during World War II.  A list of more resources owned by the library can be found here. In addition, the Library subscribes to online databases, including Testaments of the Holocaust.  Finally, there are many resources available, including vast documentation of Nazi atrocities, through the websites of Yad Vashem: The World Holocaust Museum and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.