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Enabling worldwide discovery of rare books: A gift from Roger and Julie Baskes

Enhancing online catalog records for rare books is a high priority for the University of Chicago Library in the University’s capital campaign. Detailed cataloging is an essential tool for researchers to discover handwritten annotations, special bindings or illustrations, and other features of individual copies of rare books. The Library has long recognized the scholarly value of this work, but without additional funding the project could take as long as 20 years to complete.

Julie and Roger Baskes

Julie and Roger Baskes

Prominent Chicago cultural philanthropists Roger and Julie Baskes stepped forward this spring as the right donors for this endeavor. In his seven years on the Library’s Visiting Committee, Mr. Baskes said, he was impressed by “the Library’s extraordinary commitment to keeping its collections physically and instantly accessible, at the very center of the campus” through the construction of the Mansueto Library. An avid and knowledgeable book collector, Mr. Baskes has also nurtured a long affiliation with Chicago’s Newberry Library, serving as a trustee and previously as chairman of the board. Over the last 30 years, he has cultivated a one-of-a-kind personal collection of rare and historical books with maps.

In doing so, Mr. Baskes explained, “I became aware of the extraordinary collections of rare books at the world’s great research libraries, especially as the catalogs of these libraries began to be accessible online, and discovered that the University of Chicago Library is one of the world’s most important repositories of rare books. Julie and I also understand that however rare, beautiful, or extensive such materials may be, their value to scholars is entirely dependent upon their accessibility.”

Baskes Bookplate

The electronic bookplate for gifts from the Roger Baskes Collection.

With that in mind, Mr. and Mrs. Baskes made a $250,000 commitment to support the cataloging project. “Twenty-first century readers and students of rare books and manuscripts, whether part of the University of Chicago community or from other parts of the world, will come to the Library after they have learned from its online catalog that there exist materials important to their research,” Mr. Baskes said. “We believe that little would add to the value of the Library’s remarkable Special Collections more than the enhancement and editing of its catalog, and we are honored to support it.”

Along with their monetary support, Mr. and Mrs. Baskes are also donating rare and historical books with maps that they have collected. So far the Library has received approximately 100 titles ranging from the 18th century to the late 20th. In addition to American, English, and French books with maps, the gifts include books in Japanese, Armenian, and Ottoman Turkish. When they are cataloged, the associated online records will bear a custom electronic bookplate (pictured) and will be readily retrievable by searching the catalog for the donor name.

“We have long understood the importance of improving access to our rare book collections by providing more detailed and accurate catalog records,” said Alice Schreyer, Interim Library Director and Associate University Librarian for Area Studies and Special Collections. “Roger and Julie’s gift will make the unique features of our collections known to a wide range of scholars who would otherwise not discover them.”

In recognition of their gift, a group study space in the Special Collections Research Center will be named the “Julie and Roger Baskes Group Study.” Students, faculty, and visiting scholars use this room to work collaboratively with rare and historical materials.

Robert Maynard Hutchins Papers available for research

A youthful Robert M. Hutchins in 1929

A youthful Robert M. Hutchins in 1929

The Robert Maynard Hutchins Papers are now available for research.

This collection is distinct from the Office of the President, Hutchins Administration Records, and includes material pertaining to Hutchins’ research, writing, and speaking; material relevant to his professional activities; correspondence; subject files; personal ephemera; honors and awards; annotated books; and photographs and audio recordings. The  bulk of the material dates between 1921 and 1977.

The correspondence series represents the largest portion of the collection. Hutchins corresponded with an impressive number of 20th-century luminaries including Saul Alinsky, Steve Allen, Pearl S. Buck, Albert Einstein, T. S. Eliot, Hubert Humphrey, Oscar Hammerstein II, Aldous and Laura Huxley, Charles and Anne Lindbergh, Benjamin E. Mays, Thurgood Marshall, Edward R. Murrow, Paul Newman, the Rockefeller family, Earl Warren, Frank Lloyd Wright, William O. Douglas, Adlai Stevenson, Thornton Wilder, and many more.

2014 Platzman Fellowships awarded

The Special Collections Research Center of the University of Chicago Library is pleased to announce the recipients of the Robert L. Platzman Memorial Fellowships for 2014. 

Established by bequest of George W. Platzman (1920-2008), Professor Emeritus in Geophysical Sciences at the University, the fellowships are named in memory of George’s brother Robert Platzman (1918-1973), who was Professor of Chemistry and Physics and worked for the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago during World War II. The Platzman Fellowship program provides funds for visiting researchers whose projects require on-site consultation of University of Chicago Library collections, primarily but not exclusively materials in Special Collections. Support for beginning scholars is a priority of the program, as are projects that cannot be conducted without onsite access to the original materials, and where University of Chicago Library collections are central to the research.

Additional information on the Platzman Fellowship program is available on the Special Collections web site:  http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/scrc/about/platzmanfellowships.html

Robert L. Platzman Memorial Fellowship Recipients for 2014

 D. Trevor Burrows, PhD candidate, History, Purdue University; drawing on the Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council Records, student organization records, and faculty papers for a study of “Social Reform and Religious Renewal: Religion and Student Activism in the Long 1960s”

Ben Glaser, Assistant Professor of English, Yale University; examining the Poetry Records, Harriet Monroe Papers, and William Vaughan Moody papers, for a project on “Modernism’s Metronome: Metrical Vestiges, Historical Prosody, and American Poetry, 1910-1930”

Jordan Grant, PhD Candidate, History, American University; researching the William H. English Papers, Stephen A. Douglas Papers, and Lincoln Collection for a study of “Catchers and Kidnappers: Slave-Hunting in Early America”

Camden Hutchison, PhD candidate, History, University of Wisconsin-Madison; consulting the Henry C. Simons Papers and other faculty collections for a project titled “The Efficiency Norm and U.S. Legal-Economic Policy, 1969-1992”

Karina Jannello, PhD candidate, History, Universidad Nacional de la Plata, Argentina; reviewing the International Association for Cultural Freedom Records for a study of “The Cultural Cold War in the Southern Cone: Intellectuals, Magazines, and Publishing Networks in the Congress for Cultural Freedom in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, 1950-1970”

Brian Lefresne, PhD Candidate, Literary Studies, University of Guelph, Ontario; researching the Alton Abraham Collection of Sun Ra for a dissertation titled “Sun Ra at the Crossroads of Jazz and Performance”

Martin Nekola, PhD, Political Science, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic; examining the Archive of the Czechs and Slovaks Abroad for materials on a study of “Czechs in Chicago”

Melanie Newport, PhD candidate, History, Temple University; researching the American Civil Liberties Union, Illinois Division Records and faculty papers for a project on “Cook County Jail and the Local Origins of Mass Incarceration, 1836-1995”

Daniel Royles, PhD, History, Temple University; consulting the ACT UP Chicago Records for a study titled “Don’t We Die Too? The Political Culture of African American AIDS Activism”

Adam Smith, Senior Lecturer, History, University College London; examining the Stephen A. Douglas Papers for a project titled “The Stormy Present: Conservatism in American Politics in an Age of Revolution, 1848-1876”

Leif Tornquist, PhD candidate, Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; reviewing the Shailer Mathews Papers for a study titled “Evolving the Divine: Eugenics, Embodied Perfectionism, and the Evolutionary Theology of Shailer Mathews”

Tobias Warner, Assistant Professor of French, University of California-Davis; consulting the International Association for Cultural Freedom Records for a study of “The Role of the Congress for Cultural Freedom in Shaping the Politics of Language in African Literature”

Michael Woods, Assistant Professor of History, Marshall University; to research the Stephen A. Douglas Papers for a book titled “Arguing until Doomsday: Stephen Douglas, Jefferson Davis, and the Struggle for American Democracy”