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Art installation inside Mansueto Library dome transforms OI’s ancient figures

The installation "aeon" on Mansueto Library's dome, with researchers below.

To celebrate the OI’s 100th anniversary, artist Ann Hamilton has transformed stone and ceramic figures into an installation in the Manseuto Library.

Artist Ann Hamilton’s evocative images make ‘the ancient past tangible’

During a visit to the University of Chicago, visual artist Ann Hamilton became enamored with the Oriental Institute’s collection of stone and ceramic figures—ancient but timeless, inanimate but strangely alive. To celebrate the OI’s 100th anniversary, she has transformed those figures into a public installation inside one of the campus’ most iconic structures.

Photo of Ann Hamilton

Ann Hamilton (Photo by Calista Lyon)

In the fall of 2018, Hamilton spent a week in residency working with the OI Museum’s curators, conservators and registrars to make images of ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian artifacts using early-generation scanners. The images, enlarged to gigantic scale, are now affixed to the elliptical glass dome of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library Grand Reading Room, creating Hamilton’s new installation titled aeon, which is on display through October.

Printed on 160 sheets of semi-transparent film, each 2 x 2 meters, the 20 images Hamilton created are not intended to duplicate what might appear in a museum display case. She sought to reveal ineffable qualities of these objects through the use of scanners, in a unique hybrid of gestural drawing and lensless photography.

The unsettling liveliness of the images echoes a fundamental quality imparted to the figures by their makers millennia ago. The Egyptian Ushabti were placed in tombs in larger numbers, journeying with the entombed person to the world beyond, ready to spring to life as servants. The Mesopotamian figures were deemed so much alive that they were given food and drink, since the care given to these effigies had direct consequences for people in the underworld.

The view from inside Mansueto Library of the "aeon" installation

The view from inside Mansueto Library of the “aeon” exhibit. (Photo by Tom Rossiter)

Mansueto Reading Room Dome

“Ann’s images have an equal partner in the magnificent Mansueto dome,” said Laura Steward, the UChicago Curator of Public Art, who invited Hamilton to make the project. The dome provides both awesome scale—some images are 12 meters tall—and dazzling illumination. After several thousand years entombed underground, and nearly a century enclosed in the OI’s display cases, these temple figures derive majesty and power from their location in the Mansueto.

“Across centuries, we stand in front of these figures, with a felt sense of recognition,” said Hamilton, who is known internationally for her large-scale multimedia installations, public projects and performance collaborations. “The liveness of the object draws us toward it, makes a connection, sparks curiosity.”

When conceptualizing aeon, Hamilton felt drawn to the “temple-like feel” of Mansueto Library—designed by architect Helmut Jahn and opened in 2011—as well as the chance to juxtapose ancient figures with one of UChicago’s most futuristic buildings. She sought to explore the nature of reading rooms as places of gathering—the paradox of being present in a space, but escaping from it.

“When you read, you are in two places—the reading room and the faraway world of the book,” said Hamilton. “That particular quality of simultaneous attentions is central to aeon.

Hamilton worked with a small flatbed desktop scanner and a handheld wand scanner, both designed with a shallow depth of field and intended for documents, not three-dimensional objects.

The movement of the scan head, whether driven mechanically or by hand, differentiates scanners from traditional cameras. The resulting images record the movement of the scanner’s light across the figure over time. Strangely, this sense of movement accrues not to the photographic process, but to the figures themselves. That, and the shallow depth of field, make them seem to actively emerge from a misty background.

The OI

For the OI, which since its founding in 1919 has led groundbreaking research of ancient Middle Eastern civilizations, the exhibition invigorates and reinterprets the type of work and research often hidden from the public eye.

Ann Hamilton scans a figure

Ann Hamilton scans a figure (Photo by Jessica Naples Grilli)

“Ann Hamilton’s installation makes the ancient past tangible,” said Jean M. Evans, the OI Museum’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director. “By taking these artifacts out of the Museum and transposing them onto such a prominent space—but one where you don’t expect to see them—the installation makes us think about why ancient civilizations, our beginnings, are still so important and relevant.”

The OI’s centennial provided an impetus for a major reinstallation of the objects on display. For this reason, many of the OI’s most extraordinary small objects were out of their cases and available to Hamilton for this project.

“Our centennial is a time to reflect on a century of accomplishments, but just as importantly it is an occasion to look to the future, set new, ambitious goals, and expand our scope,” said Christopher Woods, OI director and the John A. Wilson Professor of Sumerology. “Fostering greater engagement with the contemporary arts is critical to this vision and a major focus of our centennial celebrations. We are delighted that an artist of Ann Hamilton’s caliber has found inspiration in our collection and has partnered with us on this evocative installation.”

A professor of art at Ohio State University, Hamilton is known for site-specific installations that examine how knowledge is shaped by language and touch. Her recent projects include CHORUS—a text-based marble mural in New York City’s WTC Cortlandt Station—and O N E E V E R Y O N E, a series of portraits shot through translucent polyurethane sheets.

“What we feel in the images is the tactile point of contact,” Hamilton said. “We know things, or the felt quality of things, not because we have more information but sometimes because there is less.”

Just as historical perspective shifts in time, these translucent images change depending on the vantage point of the viewer. One angle might throw the figures against a concrete backdrop; take a few steps, and they may rest instead on trees or clouds.

For aeon, Krueck + Sexton Architects facilitated integration of art and architecture and served as technical advisor to Hamilton and UChicago. ER2 Image Group provided support to Hamilton’s vision in the production and installation of aeon.

On Sept. 17, UChicago will host a public event from 6 to 8 p.m. as part of EXPO Art Week to celebrate the installation of aeon, featuring remarks from Hamilton. The installation will be open to the general public on Saturdays from 9 to 11 a.m.

In addition, UChicago Library’s Special Collections Research Center Gallery will feature an exhibition exploring the OI’s century of excavation and scholarship. “Discovery, Collection, Memory: The Oriental Institute at 100” will be open to the public through Dec. 13. A free, curator-led tour of the Special Collections exhibition also will be available to the public during Humanities Day on Oct. 19.

Visitors without a UChicago ID can enter to see the installation and the exhibition by obtaining a visitor pass from the ID and Privileges Office in Regenstein Library.

“The importance of the Middle Eastern collection at the University of Chicago Library is recognized by scholars throughout the world,” said Brenda Johnson, director and University librarian. “The Library shares the OI’s commitment to rigorous explorations of the world’s history and is pleased to celebrate this important centennial by hosting Ann Hamilton’s aeon and the exhibition in the Special Collections Research Center.”

An external view of the "aeon" installation on Mansueto Library's dome at night

When conceptualizing “aeon,” Hamilton felt drawn to the “temple-like feel” of Mansueto Library.

Since its founding in 1919, the OI has led a century of excavations and research projects throughout the Middle East, many of which continue today in countries including Egypt, Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan. The comprehensive and rigorous work of OI scholars deciphers ancient languages; reconstructs histories, literatures and religions of long-lost civilizations; and creates transformative dictionaries that serve as cultural encyclopedias essential to understanding the ancient world.

As part of the centennial celebrations, the OI Museum’s galleries have been fully renovated and more than 500 new objects have been put on display. Special events as well as artist collaborations are planned throughout the 2019–2020 academic year, kicking off with a public celebration on Saturday, Sept. 28. A full listing is available at the centennial website.

A University of Chicago news story

Understanding North Korea through Stamps

Online Collection: https://luna.lib.uchicago.edu/north-korean-stamp-collection 

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fifth Floor
Dates: September 23 – December 23, 2019
Visitors without a UChicago ID can enter to see the exhibit by obtaining a visitor pass from the ID and Privileges Office in Regenstein Library during its hours

Stamp on the 20th anniversary commemoration of Great Leader Comrade Kim Jong-il's elevation to Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army

위대한 령도자 김 정일 동지 를 조선 인민군 최고 사령관 으로 높이 모신 20돐 기념 / The 20th anniversary commemoration of Great Leader Comrade Kim Jong-il’s elevation to Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) / Widaehan yŏngdoja Kim Chŏng-Il Tongji rŭl Chosŏn Inmin’gun Ch’oego Saryŏnggwan ŭro nop’i mosin 20-tol kinyŏm

The East Asian Collection at the University of Chicago Library acquired more than 2,000 North Korean stamps this year, each of which has been digitized and accompanied by a wide range of in-depth data to form the first digital collection of its kind developed by any library worldwide. Compiled from 19 stamp books on 30 individual sheets, the North Korean Stamp Collection spans more than five decades, from 1962 to 2017, as well as a striking variety of subject areas. During the fall quarter, this stamp collection will be displayed on the Fifth Floor of the Joseph Regenstein Library. In cooperation with the Visual Resources Center (VRC), the stamps will also be accessible via an online Collection with identifying information such as Korean and English titles, description, publication, year and Juche as well as keywords.

Stamp depicting the 90th anniversary of the One Thousand-ri Journey for national liberation

위대한 수령 김 일성 동지 께서 광복 의 천리 길 을 걸으신 90돐 기념 / The 90th anniversary of the One Thousand-ri Journey for national liberation / Widaehan suryŏng Kim Il-sŏng Tongji kkesŏ Kwangbok ŭi Chʻŏlli Kil ŭl kŏrŭsin 90-tol kinyŏm

Introducing the North Korean Stamp Collection carries great symbolic meaning in terms of the expansion of Korean Studies. Due to the country’s long history of dictatorial rule and closed borders, information on North Korea has remained limited to much of the outside world. Through the many images found in the collection, even (everyday/non-specialist) library users will gain an easy opportunity to come into visual contact with the shifting politics and culture of North Korea, not to mention changing perspectives on subjects ranging from natural resources to tourist attractions and day-to-day life.

In the decades following North Korea’s issuing of its first stamp in 1946, these printed items were limited to postal usage. After 1970, however, production increased greatly as stamps turned into profitable items for export to both Asian and European countries.

Stamp depicting rhododendron

진달래 / Rhododendron mucronulatum / Chindallae

There are a number of notable points in the Collection. For those interested in North Korean politics, the propagation of ideas and theories appears diversely throughout the years, on stamps displaying shifting slogans, mottos or educational comments about the Korean Worker’s Party (조선노동당). Here, we can see how North Korea promotes views on important historical figures and events by adapting them to effectively communicate with other countries. Amongst the commemorative stamps found in the Collection are such events as the UN International Year of Peace, national anniversaries of the People’s Republic of China and the 25th Anniversary of July 4th North-South Joint Statement. Not all items are strictly political however, as the animal collection includes images of a Poongsan dog (풍산개), a traditional Korean dog breed, dinosaurs, and a red-bellied turtle. Also on view are all important locations found in the capital of Pyongyang, such as the Central Zoo and memorial structures such as the Triumphal Arch, National Theatre, Future Scientists Street, and Seven-story pagoda of Hyeonhwa Temple (현화사 7층탑). Elsewhere, we also see selected masterpieces of European painting are displayed alongside traditional Korean works dating back to the 16th century. 

Interested researchers and students who want to see the stamps in person are more than welcome to visit the East Asian Collection  at the Joseph Regenstein Library.  Contact Jee-Young Park at jeeyoungpark@uchicago.edu to make arrangements.

Stamp depicting the Battle of Hansan Island

한산섬 앞 바다 싸움 / Battle of Hansan Island / Hansansŏm ap pada ssaum

Collecting North Korean Stamps for the University of Chicago Library

Two of the main research areas in the History Department at the University of Chicago are the Korean War and North Korean studies. Korean Studies professors and graduate students strive to broaden their understanding of North Korean politics, economics, education and religion. As I worked to build collections that would support their research, while collecting materials about North Korea, I was able to acquire one North Korean stamp album by chance. I expected the stamps would focus primarily on politically related subjects. However, the subjects in the stamps show a more diverse view of everyday North Korean society. Seventeen stamp albums (1,700 stamps) were acquired from China, and 300 early stamps came from a private collector in Germany. This private collector was a sailor who was on overseas ships and collected stamps and money from different countries. These acquisitions have been compiled, digitized and developed to provide Korean Studies scholars at the University with a valuable resource.

Stamps depicting the traditional Korean Bongsan masked dance

봉산 탈춤 / The traditional Korean Bongsan masked dance / Pongsan t’alch’um

Project Team

Many colleagues from the Library and the VRC were involved in the digitization of North Korean Stamp Collection. Korean Studies Librarian Jee-Young Park curated the project. At VRC, Associate Director Bridget Madden and Assistant Director Kat Buckley, assisted by student workers, managed the scanning of the 2,000 images and uploaded them to LUNA. Korea Foundation Visiting Librarian Intern Jisu Yeom and EALC graduate student Ethan Waddell did in-depth meta-development work. Other colleagues from the Library provided advice about the acquisition from Germany, copyright issues, and final LUNA site review.


Mining historical glass slides for astronomical data

A collection of 175,000 images of astronomical objects on photographic glass plate slides at Yerkes Observatory offers tremendous potential for both historians of science and astronomers and astrophysicists doing cutting-edge research today. These photographic images, taken over the last 120 years, document historical or periodic events such as novae or comets, as well as providing a basis for studying changes in the night sky. If converted into a usable digital format, they can not only provide more easily accessible glimpses into the scientific heritage of the past but also serve as a treasure trove of valuable information that astronomers can use to make new scientific discoveries.

n astronomical image with handwriting beneath dated Oct. 26, 1901.

A test image from the pilot study on mining astronomical data from historical glass slides.

The University of Chicago Library is partnering with faculty and students in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics to run a pilot study to determine how to scan these slides in a way that will facilitate meaningful scientific inquiry. Significant work has been done in this area by colleagues at Harvard University and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory working with their own 500,000-plate collection, with custom-built equipment. Chicago is now exploring the feasibility of using off-the-shelf digitization technologies by analyzing the level of scientific detail that can be captured and balancing that with the scanning time and resulting data sizes.

Some of the earliest systematic photographic atlases of the sky (more specifically, the region along the Milky Way) were undertaken at Yerkes Observatory and published as paper-print copies of the original negatives. One of these, the Barnard-Calvert atlas was done in 1905, and the other, from 1933, the Ross-Calvert atlas, was a deliberate repeat to track stars changing in position or brightness. An even earlier series of plates of well-known star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae, from 1901 to 1904, was done by George Ritchey with the revolutionary 24-inch telescope that he built in Chicago. All of these individuals—Edward Emerson Barnard, Mary Ross Calvert, Frank Elmore Ross, and George Willis Ritchey—have strong associations with the University of Chicago, specifically Yerkes Observatory, where they all spent portions of their careers and made significant contributions to the field.

Students working with telescope and glass plate

UChicago students Buduka Ogonor (left), Yingyi Liang (right), and Jorge Sanchez (in back) at Yerkes Observatory take an image using the same glass-plate method being studied in the pilot. (Photo by Richard Kron)

Thanks to support from the Kathleen and Howard Zar Science Library Fund and the College and Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, we have engaged a group of seven undergraduate students on the project. In addition to working on the feasibility testing of scanning methods, the students have had a chance to engage with the historical significance of the collections and to get a glimpse into how astronomy was practiced in the past.

An astronomical image with handwriting beneath, dated Sept 19, 1903

A test image from the pilot study on mining astronomical data from historical glass slides.

Since Winter Quarter 2019, Professor Richard Kron has led regular expeditions to Yerkes Observatory. On these trips, Elisabeth Long, Associate University Librarian for Information Technology and Digital Scholarship and Barbara Kern, Director of the Science Libraries, have shared their expertise in digital scholarship and science librarianship with the students, working together with them to understand the collections and identify sample slides for digitization testing. At the same time, the students have been able to learn how to use the historic telescopes at Yerkes to make observations, to utilize the darkrooms to reproduce some of the significant images, and to use modern tools such as nova.astrometry.net to analyze our testbed images and compare them to the data captured in modern sky surveys such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

For the Library, making the data available for research as well as historical memory are top priorities. Dan Meyer, Director, Special Collections, and University Archivist; and Eileen Ielmini, Assistant University Archivist, are helping to identify glass plates that are representative of the University’s cultural history and should be rehoused on campus in the Special Collections Research Center. Sherry Byrne, Preservation Librarian, and Christina Miranda-Izguerra, Digitization Manager in the Library’s Preservation Department are working with them on digitization sampling. The findings of the pilot will be translated into a workable project plan that can be used to seek funding for a larger scale project.  

Refractor telescope under dome

This refractor telescope at Yerkes Observatory was used to make some of the historical images. (Photo by Elisabeth Long)

Discovery, Collection, Memory: The Oriental Institute at 100

Exhibition Dates: September 16 – December 13, 2019
Location: Special Collections Research Center Gallery, 1100 E. 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

Breasted in his Haskell Office

James Henry Breasted in his Haskell Office, ca. 1926. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute Museum Archives.

The Oriental Institute is one of the world’s premier institutions for the study of the Ancient Middle East. Its roots developed as the University of Chicago was being founded, when President Harper mentored a young scholar named James Henry Breasted to pursue a degree in Egyptology. Breasted went on to direct the Haskell Museum around 1900 and secured funding from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in May 1919 to begin the Oriental Institute.

This exhibition explores the Oriental Institute’s 100 years of excavation, research, and scholarship. Focusing on the geographical areas of Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Afghanistan, OI scholars have worked rigorously to discover cultural heritage, decipher ancient languages, and to reconstruct the histories of long-lost civilizations. The exhibition remembers the OI’s past through archival fragments, artifacts, and ephemera as it celebrates its centennial.

Curator: Anne Flannery, Head of Museum Archives, Oriental Institute

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. Visitors without a UChicago ID can enter to see the exhibit by obtaining a visitor pass from the ID and Privileges Office in Regenstein Library. 

Exterior of Oriental Institute viewed from street

Oriental Institute, 1931. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute Museum Archives.

Associated Museum

The Oriental Institute
The University of Chicago
1155 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637

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.


Man at top of ladder and three men near base of ladder near wall

The Epigraphic Survey staff photographing inscriptions. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute Epigraphic Survey.


Aerial view of pyramids at Abu Sir

Aerial view taken by James Henry Breasted of the pyramids at Abu Sir. It was taken with a bellows camera in an open-cockpit plane. 1920. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute Museum Archives.

The cartoonists’ guide to law

The D’Angelo Law Library’s new collection of illustrated legal codes offers insight into statutes and society

Lyonette Louis-Jacques examining "Code pénal"

Lyonette Louis-Jacques examining “Code pénal”

At first glance, the cartoon in the French law book on Lyonette Louis-Jacques’ desk in the D’Angelo Law Library seems almost funny, in a banana-peel-pratfall kind of way.

For starters, there’s actually a banana peel in the picture, two slippery slivers making their mischief beneath the foot of a well-dressed redhead. She’s knocking her elbow back protectively as she tumbles—skirt lifting, purse flying—into the man beside her. Like a domino, he’s pitching forward, his hands thrust outward and his chapeau tossed upward.

Comedy, right? Except the scene is meant to depict involontairement un homicide, which means that someone is about to die—and someone else is unintentionally at fault. It seems likely that the man is the one mortally doomed; his lurch has propelled him toward a third pedestrian—and directly into the sharp tip of a walking cane. Worse, the instrument has dislodged his eye, which is now impaled on its tip like a campfire marshmallow.

drawing of a man's eye being poked out by another man's cane and a woman falling

“It took me a while to realize that this guy’s cane was poking through this other guy’s eye,” Louis-Jacques, the D’Angelo Law Library’s foreign and international law librarian, said recently, her finger grazing the page. “There’s so much going on here.”

So much, in fact, that the accident’s cause—and the proper distribution of blame—is unclear, which seems both puzzling and appropriate for a drawing that is accompanied by a French description of involuntary manslaughter and the accompanying criminal penalties.

This, of course, is part of the intrigue.

The book, published in Paris in about 1929, is an illustrated copy of the French criminal code by the early-20th-century cartoonist Joseph Hémard, who was popular at the time—and Louis-Jacques, who was drawn to the visual and humorous mode of interpreting law, had worked particularly hard to find it. It now resides in the D’Angelo’s new and growing collection of illustrated law books. The Code pénal, like other Hémard books that she’s acquired—including the Code civil, an illustrated French civil code published in 1925, and the Code général des impôts directs et taxes assimilées, a lengthy, illustrated French tax code published in 1944—is rife with nuance, social commentary, and a depiction of the law that transcends language and culture.

Title page with drawing of woman with tablets“It’s a way of telling stories about the law and opening up people’s minds,” said Louis-Jacques, who became interested in the genre when she saw a rare books display featuring some of Hémard’s work at a conference. “The illustrations are humorous, and sometimes they’re scandalous, and often they’re thought-provoking.”

She loved the idea that the illustrations might start a conversation or pique a student’s interest in an area of law, and she was intrigued by their ability to express both the happenstance of the human condition and the complexity of law.

Take, for instance, the scene with the skewered eye. Assuming the tumbling man is the one to expire, who bears responsibility for his death? The woman, for clumsily pushing him into the cane? An unknown, or unseen, banana-eater, for dropping the peel? The man with the cane, for brandishing his walking aid so recklessly?

“Look at this guy’s nose,” Louis-Jacques said, pointing to the cane-bearer’s flushed face and reddened nose. “Is he drunk? Is that why he’s unaware? And look at the woman—who’s responsible if she dies?”

And what if the scene is meant to be understood in reverse, with the cane, rather than the peel, setting everything in motion? What if the cane has propelled the injured man backward, into the woman and toward the banana peel? And what if the man with the cane is actually drunk? What if he only appears to be drunk? What if they’re all drunk?

“These illustrations do more than show the code,” Louis-Jacques said. “They take it a bit further; they show an understanding of how complicated the law can be.”

Which is what makes them such a welcome addition to the library’s collection, said D’Angelo Law Library Director Sheri Lewis.

“Understanding the story behind a legal question is essential for interpreting and applying the law,” Lewis said. “While law books are filled with such stories, they very rarely include illustrations that depict the legal situations discussed. These rare books offer a unique and colorful way for a reader to connect with the law. We are delighted to have them in our collection.”

So far, the D’Angelo’s collection of cartoon-illustrated law books is small—there are only about a dozen—because finding them isn’t always easy.

“They aren’t always described in a way we can easily call up,” Louis-Jacques said. “They aren’t usually listed as ‘Cartoon-illustrated law codes.’ There is the subheading ‘Caricatures and cartoons’, but that is rarely added to law books in the library catalog unless expressly requested.”

Law books, she added, aren’t generally illustrated so it’s easy to overlook the illustrations unless they are well integrated into the text, as the Hémard books are.

Drawing of one man chasing another

Right now, the collection is anchored by the Hémard volumes, although Louis-Jacques has also acquired a French traffic code, the Code de la route, and a French tax code, the Code des impôts, both published in the late 1950s and illustrated by Albert Dubout, as well as more recent volumes like Le nouveau code pénal illustré (The New Illustrated Penal Code), which was illustrated by Francis Le Gunehec and published in 1996. There’s also a 1944 volume illustrated by Hémard and authored by the celebrated French writer Honoré de Balzac, titled the Code des gens honnêtes, ou l’art de ne pas être dupe des fripons (roughly translated as the Code of Honest People, or The Art of Not Being Tricked By Swindlers).

 “That’s not a law code—it’s a behavior code aimed at gentlemen of the time,” Louis-Jacques said. “Balzac wrote it in 1845 and then Hémard illustrated it in 1944. There were only 800 copies made and the D’Angelo has one of them.”

There are many others Louis-Jacques hopes to acquire—an illustrated Brazilian penal code and an illustrated French tourism code among them—and she enjoys blending her language and research skills to hunt for the volumes, waiting to see if one ends up listed on a library sale or an estate auction.

Eventually, she hopes to create an exhibit that offers additional context for the volumes, including historical information about the illustrators and the time periods in which they were published. She’s curious whether Hémard’s own biases and prior experiences—and even his lack of legal training—might have influenced his interpretation of the law and his artistic choices.

Drawing of man reaching for woman held back by another woman

The works, she notes, make the law accessible by appealing to universal themes. In the Code civil, there’s a cartoon depicting a woman trying hard to keep a man from running toward another woman; one doesn’t need to read French to recognize the depiction of marital infidelity. In the tax code book—the volume for which Hémard was most famous—a worried-looking man runs from a judge.

“This is tax law in France, but there are the same sort of issues and the same sort of attempts to avoid paying taxes,” Louis-Jacques said with a laugh.

And then there’s simply the ability of the books to lure one into thinking about the law.

Louis-Jacques held up a plain book and a copy of the Code pénal, which features on its cover a colorful cartoon of a man with an axe in his head pointing at a man with a smoking gun who appears to be fleeing winged creatures, one of whom is carrying the scales of justice.

“If I showed you both of these,” she said, displaying both, “which one are you more likely to open?”

Originally published by the University of Chicago Law School

Knowledge@UChicago featured research: Code for a simple model of evolution of melt pond coverage on Arctic sea ice

July’s featured research in Knowledge@UChicago, the University of Chicago’s open access digital repository, is code by graduate student Predrag Popović and associate professor Dorian Abbot of the Department of Geological Sciences. The code, made available in 2017, supports their model for understanding the evolution of melt pond, or “pools of melted snow and ice,” coverage on Arctic sea ice. Popović and Abbot report on this model in their 2017 article in the open access journal The Cryosphere and point readers to their code in Knowledge@UChicago.


Image of Arctic Ocean taken during Office of Naval Research-sponsored study of the changing sea ice, ocean and atmosphere. (US Navy, Image by John F. Williams)

Journal publishers are increasingly requiring or recommending the open availability of research files associated with an accepted publication. For example, Copernicus Publications, the publisher of The Cryosphere, states that the “the output of research is not only journal articles but also data sets, model code, samples, etc. Only the entire network of interconnected information can guarantee integrity, transparency, reuse, and reproducibility of scientific findings.” As a condition of publishing in The Cryosphere, researchers like Popović and Abbot are “are required to provide a statement on how their underlying research data can be accessed” and are encouraged to make these research materials available in an open access repository. 

Knowledge@UChicago is a service that can help researchers meet requirements or expectations from journals like The Cryosphere, Nature Research, Science, and a growing number of others. Researchers can currently deposit small datasets in Knowledge@UChicago and permanent identifiers (DOIs) will be assigned to these deposits, assisting with discoverability and citation. Later this year, new features, including integration with GitHub, will be rolled out. We encourage our research community to make use of this service and to contact knowledge@lib.uchicago.edu for assistance.

This year, we’re highlighting examples of research shared in Knowledge@UChicago, the University’s open access digital repository. By spotlighting items, we hope to illustrate the variety of research that you can find and that UChicago researchers can make available in the repository. University researchers are invited to log in to Knowledge@UChicago and share articles, book chapters, conference materials, datasets, and other scholarly work.  See more digital scholarship news from the Library, including previous featured research on our news site.  

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)

New guide to papers of historian Maria Elena Martinez

The Maria Elena Martinez Papers are now open for research.

Dr. Martinez (1966-2014) was an historian of colonial Mexico. She received her PhD in History from The University of Chicago in 2002 and taught as an associate professor of history and American studies and ethnicity at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences until her death from cancer in 2015.

Martinez’s first book, Genealogical Fictions: Limpieza de Sangre, Religion, and Gender in Colonial Mexico was well-reviewed by the academic community upon publication and received numerous accolades. This collection contains her academic and professional work, personal correspondence, and teaching and research notes. Her extensive archive of photocopied probanzas – proofs of the blood lineage of Spaniards in colonial Mexico – from libraries and archives in the United States, Mexico, and Spain may be of particular interest to researchers.

“Photographs from vacation to Mexico, circa 2000,” Maria Elena Martinez Papers, Box 8, Folder 16.

Photocopied probanza from the Archivo General de Indias: Petición (Dispensa) de Don Joseph y Basilio Manuel de Aquillada (Colegio de Abajados) (1814). Maria Elena Martinez Papers, Box 11, Folder 4.

Marie Tharp: Pioneering Oceanographer – new web exhibit

A pioneer in her field, renowned cartographer Marie Tharp created the first scientific maps of the Atlantic Ocean floor with her partner Bruce Heezen. Her observations showed the topography and geographical landscape of the ocean bottom and were crucial to the development of the theories of plate tectonics and continental drift in the earth sciences. 

A new web exhibit is now available about her work with images of some of her maps, many of which are available in the Library’s map collection.

Exhibit: https://www.lib.uchicago.edu/collex/exhibits/marie-tharp-pioneering-oceanographer/



13 scholars awarded Robert L. Platzman Memorial Fellowships for research in Special Collections

The University of Chicago Library is pleased to announce the recipients of Robert L. Platzman Memorial Fellowships for 2019.  Awards are being made this year to thirteen scholars who will visit the Library and consult collections during the summer from June to September.   A list of the 2019 Fellows appears below along with their academic affiliations and research topics. 

The Robert L. Platzman Memorial Fellowship program was established through a bequest of Professor of Geophysical Sciences George W. Platzman and is named in memory of his brother Robert L. Platzman, Professor of Chemistry and Physics.  The program provides support for visiting researchers outside the Chicago area working on projects that require on-site consultation of University of Chicago Library collections, primarily archives, manuscripts, or printed materials in the Special Collections Research Center.  

A total of 137 Fellowships have been awarded since the program began in 2006.  Further information on the Platzman Fellowships is available on the Special Collections website.

Robert L. Platzman Memorial Fellowships Awarded for Summer 2019

Robert Bell

PhD candidate, History and Middle Eastern Studies, New York University

From Financial Missionaries and Colonial Administrators to Shirt-Sleeve Diplomats and New Deal Developers: American Influence in Iran from 1911 to 1963


Michael Bruschi

PhD candidate, Music Theory, Yale University

Hearing the Tonality in Microtonality:  Easley Blackwood’s Microtonal Music


John Carranza

PhD candidate, Education, University of Texas at Austin

Explaining Sex:  Sex Education, Normalization, and Disability in the United States from the 1960s to the 1990s


Claire Class

Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute für Soziologie, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

Beyond the Chicago School: Literature, Marginalization, and Sociology in Modern America


William Clift

PhD candidate, History, Florida State University

Race in the Prairie State:  Black Laws and African American Activism in Nineteenth Century Illinois


Aaron Colston

PhD candidate, History, Duke University

Read the Word, Read the World: Education for Liberation in Cold War U.S. and Brazil


Benjamin Daly-Jones

MPhil candidate, Early Modern History, Jesus College, University of Cambridge

Memory, Distortion, and Judicious Thought: Parrhesia and Late 16th- Early 17th-Century Diplomatic Textual Culture


Yuval Goldfus

PhD candidate, Philosophy, Hebrew University

Privacy, the Right to be Forgotten, and the Social Self of George Herbert Mead


Sören Hammerschmidt

Instructor, English, Arizona State University

Modular Pope: Portraits, Poems, and Recycled Print


Michael Kalisch

Post-doctoral scholar, Downing College, University of Cambridge

Glimpse, Encounter, Acquaintance, Friendship: The Literary Life of Richard Stern


Taushif Kara

PhD candidate, History, University of Cambridge

Abode of Peace: Islam, Empire, and the Khoja Diaspora, 1866-1972


Lena Leson

PhD candidate, Historical Musicology, University of Michigan

Making Balachine an American Modernist: Cold War Narratives and Construction of the Artist


Meghna Sapui

PhD candidate, English, University of Florida

British Poetry in/from India: Creating a New Poetic Community