Tag Archives: SCRC Kiosk

Watch Dr. Ada Palmer discuss a Renaissance astronomy text in Special Collections

Dr. Ada Palmer, Assistant Professor in the Department of History and the College at the University of Chicago, went live on Facebook to teach viewers about a Renaissance astronomy text in the Special Collections Research Center. The book, a 1605 imprint of a work by Giovanni Paolo Gallucci, is a fascinating example of an author navigating the political landscape of his time – should he write openly about his scientific theories, or play it safe and write about the tools used to study astronomy? Dr. Palmer led a team of graduate students curating the Special Collections Research Center’s newest gallery exhibition: Tensions in Renaissance Cities, open March 27-June 9, 2017.

This video is one in a series of videos of UChicago faculty discussing their favorite items in the Special Collections Research Center. See Dr. Mindy Schwartz describe a 19th-century surgical kit.

Dr. Ada Palmer discusses a Renaissance astronomy text in the Special Collections Research Center. #facultyfavorites #bookhistory #astronomy #historyofscience

Posted by University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center on Monday, March 13, 2017

 

Nobel laureate Saul Bellow’s papers open for research

Materials provide look into author’s life, creative process

A carbon copy of a typescript fragment of "The Adventures of Augie March"

A carbon copy of a typescript fragment of “The Adventures of Augie March,” ca. 1952-53, titled “The Life of Augie March Among the Machiavellians.” (Courtesy of Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library)

The largest collection of Nobel laureate Saul Bellow’s personal papers is now open for research at the University of Chicago Library, documenting his creative process and literary fame, as well as his wide-ranging professional relationships.

Saul Bellow painting

Photo of painting by Filippo Carosi Martinozzi, 1986, courtesy of Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library

Bellow, X’39, who spent three decades as a professor at UChicago, left a collection that extends 141 linear feet filling 254 boxes. It includes correspondence with writers such as Ralph Ellison and Philip Roth, manuscripts that reveal his writing process including a series of drafts of The Adventures of Augie March, and personal items such as a Rolodex and letters from U.S. presidents.

The opening of the archives is the culmination of an extensive effort by the Library’s Special Collections Research Center to organize the documents and catalogue them in a Guide to the Saul Bellow Papers, 1926-2015. The archival work, which was supported by a gift from Robert Nelson, AM’64, and Carolyn Nelson, AM’64, PhD’67, greatly increases scholars’ ability to discover materials in the collection online.

“Opening up the Bellow papers will provide generations of scholars with the materials they need to develop new insights into Saul Bellow and 20th-century American history and culture,” said Brenda Johnson, Library director and University librarian. “We are deeply grateful to Robert Nelson and Carolyn Nelson for their generous support of the processing and preservation of this collection.”

A prolific writer, Bellow’s extensive revision process is manifest in the collection in numerous drafts of each of his best-known novels, including Herzog, Humboldt’s Gift and The Adventures of Augie March. Bellow’s long list of literary accolades include the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Medal of Arts and the National Book Award for Fiction.

Ralph Ellison letter to Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow lived with Ralph Ellison during the late 1950s in an upstate New York fixer-upper. In this May 1959 letter, Ellison writes Bellow about needed repairs to their house as well as praising Bellow’s “Henderson the Rain King,” which Ellison claims ‘threw some real whiskey in the placid water of the literary well.’ (Courtesy of Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library)

“The Saul Bellow Papers offer a compelling view of modern American literature,” said Daniel Meyer, director of the Special Collections Research Center and University archivist. “The collection offers scholars, students and other researchers fresh perspectives on Bellow’s impact on the 20th-century novel and his distinctive voice in literary criticism and cultural commentary.”

An educator and intellectual with broad ranging interests in art and culture, Bellow found a home for his pursuits at the University of Chicago. He taught in the John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought from 1962 to 1993, serving as chair from 1970 to 1976, and his experiences in Chicago and at the University are at the heart of much of his writing.

Equally important to the collection is the extraordinary range of his correspondence, which includes thousands of letters Bellow received or sent to fellow writers such as Samuel Beckett, Allen Ginsberg, Lillian Hellman, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller and Joyce Carol Oates. The Special Collections Research Center’s wide array of related materials—from the archives of Bellow’s faculty colleagues to collections documenting 20th-century literary and cultural life in Chicago—also will help scholars to uncover vital connections between Bellow and his contemporaries and his city.

Saul Bellow portrait

Saul Bellow portrait (Photo copyright Jill Krementz, 1976, courtesy of the Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library)

“Bellow was someone who thought deeply about current events and politics, the state of culture and the arts in the 20th century, and the role of the writer,” said Processing Archivist Ashley Gosselar, who reviewed and organized the collection and created the guide to its contents. “The correspondence demonstrates the way he sought to keep his finger on the pulse of America in the mid-20th century.”

Additional items in the Saul Bellow papers include personal ephemera, writings by others given to or collected by Bellow, writings about Bellow’s life and work, administrative and teaching materials from the University of Chicago and Boston University, awards, photographs and audio recordings, artwork, broadsides and posters. Materials date between 1926 and 2015, with the majority produced between 1940 and 2004.

Press Inquiries and Images

A University of Chicago news release
Press inquiries:
Andrew Bauld, News Officer for Arts and Humanities
News Office
773-702-8378
Reserved for members of the media.

16 scholars awarded Platzman fellowships in Special Collections

Sixteen visiting scholars have been awarded Robert L. Platzman Memorial Fellowships for 2017.  The Platzman Fellowships support visiting researchers whose work requires on-site consultation of Special Collections, with priority given to beginning scholars.

This year’s Platzman Fellowship winners are drawn from twelve American and international universities, including scholars from Brazil, Italy, Argentina, and Great Britain, and include a researcher from the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress as well as an independent scholar.

The Platzman Fellowship research projects represent the broad range of sources available in Special Collections.  Topics include women editors of Shakespeare; 18th-century keyboard music in the Americas; child migration and international law; 1960s student protests for racial equality; European émigré influences on consumerism; and medicine and culture among indigenous peoples of the Americas.

The Platzman Fellowships were established through a bequest of George W. Platzman (1920-2008), Professor in Geophysical Sciences.  They are named in memory of George’s brother Robert Platzman (1918-1973), Professor of Chemistry and Physics. Further information is available on the Special Collections website.


2017 Robert L. Platzman Fellows

Chris Babits (PhD Candidate, University of Texas-Austin) “To Cure a Sinful Nation: A Cultural History of Conversion Therapy and the Making of Modern America, 1930 to the Present Day”

Nicholas Barron (PhD Candidate, University of New Mexico) “Applying Anthropology, Assembling Indigenous Community: The Coproduction of Applied Anthropology and the Pascua Yaqui Indian Tribe”

Joe Block (PhD Candidate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) “The Intellectual Origins of African American-Jewish Relations, 1825-1927”

Carlos Fabian Campos (PhD candidate, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Argentina) “Eighteenth Century Keyboard Music in the Americas: Manuscript Sources from Joseph Regenstein Library (Chicago University)”

James Cetkovski (PhD candidate, New College, Oxford, England) “Literature and Social Thought”

Eddie Cole (Assistant Professor, College of William & Mary) “Careful Consideration: College Presidents and Student Protests for Racial Equality, 1960-1964”

Vicente Gil da Silva (PhD candidate, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) “Creating a New Model of Intellectual: The Role of Cadernos Brasileiros and the CCF in Brazil”

Eric Lindstrom (Independent scholar, Olympia, Washington) “The Constant Geologist: J Harlen Bretz”

Amy Lonetree (Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz) “Visualizing Native American Survivance: A Photographic History of the Ho-Chunk Nation, 1879-1960”

Joseph Malherek (Jameson Fellow, Kluge Center, Library of Congress) “From Bauhaus to Maxwell House: Emigres and the Making of American Consumer Culture, 1933-1976”

Joshua Mentanko (PhD candidate, Yale University) “Traditional Medicine in Modern Mexico: Indigenous and Technopolitics since 1940”

Yukako Otori (PhD candidate, Harvard University) “Disposable Subjects: Child Migration, International Law, and US Immigration Policy

Angelica Vomera (PhD candidate, Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy) “I-Tn MS T.III.2:  Fragments for a Cultural History between Italy and France in the age of the Great Schism

Mollie Yarn (PhD candidate, University of Cambridge, England) “Women Editors of Shakespeare and the Legacy of the Domestic Text”

Tensions in Renaissance Cities

Exhibition dates: March 27 – June 9, 2017
Location: Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

Cicero. Philosophical treatises

Cicero. Philosophical treatises, ca. 1400. Ms. 956. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Venice, Florence, Rome, Mexico City, Geneva, London: the rapidly transforming cities of the Renaissance used art and literature to express their growing power, and growing pains. In the centuries of recovery after the Black Death, wealth, trade, and technology accelerated exponentially. Urban centers existed in a web of interdependence, in which the borders of fluctuating kingdoms were overlaid by geographies of mercantile connections, and information networks whose influence exploded with the arrival of the printing press. This new invention let news of new discoveries or disasters sweep through Europe in weeks, rather than years.

Moving geographically, this exhibit charts the interconnected tensions of great capitals from Venice to Mexico City. As Venice looked both eastward towards Islamic cultures of the Mediterranean and inward toward the microcosmic tensions of diversifying populations, Mexico City grappled with cultural and religious clashes between native Mesoamerican and imported European traditions. Florence and Rome looked backward toward the golden dream of antiquity and upward into a celestial geography. Magic, science, humanism and theology each played a role in filling in the blanks in current knowledge of the world and the universe. Concurrently, Geneva saw conflict in shifts from Latin to the vernacular and changing Calvinist and Catholic devotional practices, and London sought to establish itself as a major intellectual center that was both in dialogue with and distinct from continental centers.

Arch of Titus

“Arch of Titus.” Etching and engraving. Cavalieri, Giovanni Battista de’ Dosio, Giovanni Antonio, engraver [1569]. From the Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae, Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

The treasures presented in this exhibit from the Special Collections Research Center and Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago offer a look into the Renaissance not as a single, coherent cultural movement, but rather a set of many simultaneous and often contradictory developments across scholarship, politics, and religion. Many of the cultural, political, and religious tensions experienced during this period are just as relevant today. In an effort to create a neat narrative, the history of a period can be cleaned up too much. By examining the nuances and complexities of the early modern past, this exhibition hopes to shed light on just how messy history can be in both the past and the present.

Curators:  Ada Palmer, Assistant Professor, Department of History and the College, The University of Chicago; Hilary Barker, PhD student, Department of Art History, The University of Chicago; Margo Weitzman, MAPH’15, The University of Chicago

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Related Events

Curator’s Open House for the Renaissance Society of America Conference

March 29, 2017, 12 noon – 5 p.m.
Special Collections Research Center, Regenstein Library, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago

Curators Ada Palmer, Hilary Barker, and Margo Weitzman will be on hand to discuss and give tours of the exhibition Tensions in Renaissance Cities.

Free and open to the public.  Those attending the Renaissance Society of America Conference can sign up for transportation on the conference events page.

Library Society Lecture and Exhibition Viewing

May 10, 2017 – 5 p.m.
Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery and Room 122, Regenstein Library, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago

Lecture by Ada Palmer, Assistant Professor, Department of History and the College, The University of Chicago

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.

Watch Dr. Mindy Schwartz describe an 1887 surgical kit in Special Collections

Dr. Mindy A. Schwartz, Professor of Medicine and Associate Program Director for Internal Medicine at the University of Chicago, went live on Facebook to talk about a surgical kit in the Special Collections Research Center. The kit, once owned by Dr. Thomas Burrows in 1887, is one of Dr. Schwartz’s favorite items to use when she teaches classes on the history of medicine.

Stay tuned for more videos of UChicago faculty discussing their favorite items in the Special Collections Research Center.

Dr. Mindy Schwartz discusses one of her favorite objects in Special Collections: an 1887 surgical kit.

Posted by University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center on Friday, January 20, 2017

UChicago Library acquires papers of cartoonist Daniel Clowes

The University of Chicago Library has acquired the papers of cartoonist Daniel Clowes, Lab’79, giving researchers access to never-before-seen notes and sketches from the acclaimed comic book author.

The materials in the collection—notes, outlines, narrative drafts, character sketches, draft layouts, line art, book dummies and more—reveal the start-to-finish artistic process behind three of Clowes’ award-winning graphic novels: The Death-Ray (2011), Ice Haven (2005) and Mister Wonderful (2011). The collection also includes ephemera related to two major exhibitions of Clowes’ work.

Daniel Clowes at the "Comics: Philosophy and Practice" conference at the University of Chicago in 2012. (Photo by Jason Smith)

Daniel Clowes at the “Comics: Philosophy and Practice” conference at the University of Chicago in 2012. (Photo by Jason Smith)

“Daniel Clowes’ work is renowned for its sharp satire and compelling characters. This collection offers rare insights into Clowes’ creative process and the challenges and complexities of his art. It will be an exciting resource for scholars at the University of Chicago and beyond,” said Daniel Meyer, director of the Special Collections Research Center, which will house the Daniel Clowes Archive.

Clowes’ first professional work appeared in Cracked magazine in 1985. In 1989, he created the seminal comic book series Eightball, which ran for 23 issues through 2004 and earned him a large following and multiple industry awards.

Eightball generated several graphic novels, including Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, Pussey! and Ghost World, his breakthrough hit about the last summer of a teenage friendship. The 2001 film adaptation of Ghost World, based on a script by Clowes and director Terry Zwigoff, was nominated for an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay.

Ice Haven, an intricate tale of kidnapping and alienation in a small Midwestern town, and The Death-Ray, the unlikely story of a teenage superhero in the 1970s, both appeared in Eightball before their publication in book form. Clowes’ “middle-aged romance” Mister Wonderful began as a serialized comic for The New York Times Magazine was collected in an expanded hardcover edition in 2011. Materials related to Ice Haven, The Death-Ray and Mister Wonderful are featured in the Daniel Clowes Archive.

Clowes’ comics, graphic novels and anthologies have been translated into more than 20 languages, and his work has been the subject of numerous international exhibitions. A major retrospective of his work debuted at the Oakland Museum of California in 2012 and traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 2013.

L-R: Hillary Chute, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Seth, and Chris Ware at the at the "Comics: Philosophy and Practice" conference at the University of Chicago in 2012. (Photo by Jason Smith)

L-R: Hillary Chute, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Seth, and Chris Ware at the at the “Comics: Philosophy and Practice” conference at the University of Chicago in 2012. (Photo by Jason Smith)

“I couldn’t be more honored and pleased (and, frankly, astonished) to have my archival materials included in the University’s Special Collection,” Clowes said. “The University of Chicago, both the physical campus and the institution, was central, almost overwhelmingly so, to my formative life, the first 18 years of which were spent three blocks away from this very site, and there could no more appropriate place for these papers to find their home.”

Clowes has longstanding ties to the University of Chicago. Born and raised in Hyde Park, he attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools before moving to New York to study at the Pratt Institute. His grandfather, James Lea Cate, was a scholar of medieval history and historiography and a UChicago professor from 1930 to 1969. His stepmother, Harriet Clowes, worked in development at the University of Chicago Library from 1976 to 1980.

In 2012, Clowes participated in the “Comics: Philosophy and Practice” conference sponsored by the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago. That event brought together 17 world-renowned cartoonists for three days of public conversation.

Prof. Hillary Chute, the conference organizer and expert on contemporary comics, has included Clowes’ work in her courses and interviewed him for her book Outside the Box.

“Dan Clowes is one of the most important cartoonists working today—and, crucially, he helped to invent the ‘graphic novel’ field as we know it today in his decades of groundbreaking work. His work has been a huge influence on many, many cartoonists—and on me, both as a person and a scholar of comics,” said Chute, associate professor in English and the College. “I could not be more honored and thrilled that the University has acquired an archive by an artist of this caliber.”

The Daniel Clowes Archive adds to the University of Chicago Library’s growing collection of materials related to word and image studies. The Library holds an extensive collection of contemporary comics, including many comics and zines published in Chicago, as well as the Walter C. Dopierala Comic Book Collection, which contains more than 2,000 popular mid-century comic books. The Library plans to add to its comics archive in the years to come.

The Daniel Clowes Archive is open to researchers.

A University of Chicago news release

A rare manuscript is rebound

Conservation and digitization of a New Testament manuscript collection support scholarship and teaching

Most book conservators never have the opportunity to reconstruct a 16th-century Byzantine binding from scratch.  For Ann Lindsey, Head of Conservation at the University of Chicago Library, that opportunity came in February, in connection with a major project to digitize all 68 New Testament manuscripts in the Edgar J. Goodspeed Manuscript Collection.

Ann Lindsey reconstructs a 16th-century Byzantine binding

Ann Lindsey reconstructs a 16th-century Byzantine binding with historically sympathetic materials in the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library’s Conservation Laboratory. (Photo by Robert Kozloff)

The role of the Conservation program at the Library is to maintain collections over time, ensuring that they can be used by current scholars and future generations.  Most of the manuscripts in the Goodspeed Collection, which date from the 5th to the 19th centuries, have required only minor treatments, if any, to be handled safely during the digitization process.

But the John Adam Service Book, one of the last eight items in the Goodspeed Manuscript Collection to be digitized, presented an unusual case where the disbinding and rebinding of a rare manuscript were merited.  Originally handwritten in Greek in the 15th to 16th century on paper produced in Italy, it was rebound in the 1850s, with a typical 19th-century cloth cover, and illustrated by its namesake, John Adam, near Epirus, Greece.  By the time it was acquired by the University of Chicago Library in 1930, its spine covering was missing.  When Lindsey examined the Service Book in anticipation of digitization, she found that any further handling of the manuscript would cause the exposed spine and 19th-century oversewing to damage the original 15th- to 16th-century pages. 

Lindsey conferred with her colleagues in Special Collections and Preservation, and the group concluded that the original manuscript would be best preserved, and scholars would be best served, if the book were disbound, digitized, and then rebound, using historically sympathetic materials so that researchers could consult it as needed and get a better sense of what the book was like when it was first bound and used in the 16th century.

A forensic investigation of the John Adam Service Book’s binding  

Sixteenth-century thread from the John Adam Service Book

Above: Ann Lindsey points to the threads that remain from the John Adam Service Book’s 16th-century binding (Photo by Robert Kozloff). Below: A photomicrograph of thread from the John Adam Service Book. By analyzing the thread under a microscope, Lindsey confirmed that it is linen.

A handful of linen threads are all that remain of the original binding—but they provided the evidence that Lindsey needed to determine that the book originally had a Byzantine binding, a rarity in American libraries. 

Most European books from the 15th and 16th century were bound in the Western style, sewn from start to finish on top of cords, with each stitch going through all of the pages of the book.  The threads are then secured in multiple places along the spine. If the folds of such pages were cut as part of a subsequent rebinding process and the spine were to be broken later, the threads would come out in many small pieces.

The folds of the John Adam Service Book were cut when the book was rebound in the 19th century.  But the threads Lindsey found upon examining the book are long, notched, and made of linen—all signs that this manuscript originally had a Byzantine binding.  When employing this method, bookbinders cut a notch in the back section of each page.  They sewed the first section of pages to a wooden board, the second section to the first section, the third section to the second, and so on, tucking the thread into notches and securing it with link stitches.  Because a Byzantine binding was used, when the folds were cut and the 19th-century binding was later broken, the thread emerged in long pieces. 

Once Lindsey identified the type of binding, she was able to infer much about the book’s construction. Byzantine bindings used quarter sawn hardwood front and back boards, had decorative grooves, and were covered in goat skin.  A new binding made of historically sympathetic materials should include all of those features. 

“It’s Ann’s remarkable expertise in seeing and interpreting evidence that we all respect so much,” said Daniel Meyer, Director of the Special Collections Research Center.  In addition to her master’s degree in Library Science, Lindsey has a certificate of advanced study in conservation from the University of Texas and conservation experience gained at the Huntington Library and the University of California, Berkeley, before she came to Chicago to lead the Library’s conservation efforts.  Her knowledge of how to rebuild a Byzantine binding came from a special class entirely devoted to the subject. 

Disbinding and rebinding

Lindsey uses link stitches to bind the second group of pages to the first group, which she previously sewed to a front board made of quarter sawn white oak. Quarter sawing positions the wood’s rings almost straight up and down so that the board does not curve over time. (Photo by Robert Kozloff)

Lindsey uses link stitches to bind the second group of pages to the first group, which she previously sewed to a front board made of quarter sawn white oak. Quarter sawing positions the wood’s rings almost straight up and down so that the board does not curve over time. (Photo by Robert Kozloff)

With a plan in place to create a new binding that would resemble the original one, Lindsey painstakingly humidified each folio slightly so that the 19th-century glue would soften and could be removed with a microspatula, along with the binding threads. Lindsey then gathered folios into sets of four, which she “guarded” with Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste at the edges to strengthen it in preparation for rebinding. The sets of pages were carefully delivered to the Digitization Laboratory, also in the Mansueto Library, where high-resolution images of each page were created by Photographer Michael Kenny and will be posted to the Goodspeed website. 

Once digitized and returned to the Conservation Laboratory, Lindsey sewed the boards and pages together in the Byzantine style, attaching half the pages to the front board and the other half to the back board, before lashing the two halves together, lining the spine with linen, and sewing a heavy end band across the two boards and the newly reconstructed spine.  As the final step, she used a dark brown goat skin to cover and hold the book together. 

Lindsey greatly enjoyed the woodworking and leatherworking that the project required, but the stitching of the binding is her favorite part.  “The sewing is the process where you start putting it back together,” she said. “It’s the heart of the book—and its literal backbone.  It’s what makes a book work well.”

Why digitize the full Goodspeed Collection?

Digitization of John Adam Service Book

Michael Kenny prepares to digitize a page of the John Adam Service Book. (Photo by Robert Kozloff)

The Goodspeed Manuscript Collection is the first collection of bound early manuscripts that the University of Chicago Library committed to digitize in its entirety—and that work is expected to be completed within the next year.  The Library’s Special Collections Research Center is digitizing materials from its archives, manuscripts, and rare book collections as funding permits in order to enhance access to scholars.   In choosing where to begin among the early manuscripts, Special Collections staff members were drawn to the Goodspeed Collection because of its focus and coherence. 

“The Goodspeed Collection was brought together for one principal purpose,” explained Meyer. “Edgar Goodspeed was working with other scholars on a new translation of the New Testament and gathered early manuscripts of the New Testament that could inform the translation.”

All the Goodspeed Manuscripts relate to the New Testament in some way. The John Adam Service Book is a trephologion, or festal menaion, a liturgical book that includes text for the great feasts that fall within the fixed cycle of services of the Orthodox Church, such as those for the Birth of the Virgin, The Great Martyr Demetrius, and the Birth of Jesus.

The Rockefeller McCormick New Testament, cove

The Rockefeller McCormick New Testament, cover, front (binding).

Edgar Goodspeed, DB 1897, PhD 1898, became Chairman of the Department of New Testament and Early Christian Literature in 1923 and soon after began seriously collecting New Testament manuscripts for the University of Chicago. Goodspeed regarded such manuscripts as essential to humanities research, just as laboratories are essential to the natural sciences, and expected them to be invaluable not only to his own work, but to the research of many at UChicago.

It seems safe to assume that if Goodspeed were alive today, he would jump at the opportunity to have the collection digitized, for he regularly sought ways to raise both scholarly and public awareness of the unique manuscripts at Chicago, and encouraged the publication of facsimile editions that would allow scholars to study the manuscripts from afar. His first major discovery, The Rockefeller McCormick New Testament, uncovered almost by chance in an art dealer’s shop in Paris in 1927, was an unparalleled historical and iconographical find, featuring a fine cursive hand, splendid gilt covers, and more than ninety miniature illustrations.  Only the second complete Byzantine New Testament manuscript to be brought to the U.S., it attracted sensational publicity in the press and on radio and was reproduced in a three-volume facsimile edition suitable for scholarly research by the University of Chicago Press in 1932. 

The attention generated by Goodspeed’s early collecting efforts helped to fuel interest in the acquisition of additional New Testament manuscripts and led to expanded faculty expertise in iconography and textual editing at Chicago. Many other acquisitions made possible by Goodspeed captured the imagination of scholars and the public, among them, the Elizabeth Day McCormick Apocalypse.  The only known illustrated Apocalypse in Greek at the time, it gained renown for its 69 remarkable miniatures dating to roughly 1600.  A facsimile edition was published by the University of Chicago Press in 1940. By the time he retired in 1948, Goodspeed had built one of the most impressive collections of New Testament manuscripts then held at any American university.  In recognition of his achievement, this collection of early Greek, Syriac, Ethiopic, Armenian, Arabic, and Latin New Testament manuscripts bears his name today.

Elizabeth Day McCormick Apocalypse

The Elizabeth Day McCormick Apocalypse, fol. 15r. John, Letter to Smyrna: Christ’s voice emanates from heaven, upper left; John stands at center, dictates to the deacon Prochorus who is writing, seated on bench at right.

The Goodspeed Collection continues to function as a treasure trove for scholarship and teaching, now fueled by the growing availability of the digitized facsimiles online. Current faculty who use the collection include Hans-Josef Klauck, Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature at the Divinity School, who has taught a course on Revelation and the Elizabeth Day McCormick Apocalypse using both the original manuscript and online digital facsimiles. “In my judgment, the digitization of the codex was an exciting experience and provided a great chance for better, more advanced and more exciting teaching in my very field,” Klauck concluded.  

Divinity School Dean Margaret M. Mitchell was a member of the original team that planned and obtained funding for the digitization project and has delved deeply into another item in the collection, the Archaic Mark—the first Goodspeed manuscript to be digitized. Resolving a 70-year debate, she collaborated with Library staff and technical experts in micro-chemical analysis and medieval bookmaking to definitively determine that this Gospel of Mark was not a genuine Byzantine manuscript but rather a fascinating late-19th- or early-20th-century forgery.  

The Library expects that more scholarly discoveries will be made, and additional students around the world will benefit as the remainder of the Collection is posted online.  Already, the Goodspeed Collection website has delivered an average of more than 38,000 pages per year to more than 2,800 users around the world, including 57 percent from North and South America, 30 percent from Europe, and 10 percent from Asia.

“When we began the Goodspeed Manuscript Collection project in 2005, the University of Chicago was among the first to propose digitizing entire manuscripts instead of selected pages,” explained Alice Schreyer, Associate University Librarian for Area Studies and Special Collections. “We received a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Library and Museum Services for this innovative approach, which is now widely accepted. We are thrilled to be completing this important work, which will support many types of scholarship for decades to come.”

High-resolution images of 57 of the Goodspeed manuscripts are currently available online at goodspeed.lib.uchicago.edu.

RESCHEDULED: Wikipedia Edit-a-thon: University of Chicago Edition

editathon graphic

New date and time: April 15, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. in the Special Collections Research Center, Regenstein Library room 130.

On April 15, 2015 the University of Chicago Library will host a Wikipedia edit-a-thon in the Special Collections Research Center. The subject focus of the event is great women in University of Chicago history. Experienced Wikipedia editors and new users alike are welcome to participate. Librarians in Special Collections have chosen specific events, organizations, and people without existing Wikipedia articles to be created as part of this event.  As well as short articles that can be expanded upon. The list includes some notable names to be researched and added to Wikipedia: Georgiana Simpson, Gertrude Dudley, and Marlene Dixon. This is a great opportunity to learn how to edit Wikipedia but also learn about the role of women in shaping and sustaining the University. 

Those in attendance will be able to consult primary source material in special collections as well as print and electronic secondary sources to verify facts. Staff will be on site to offer help navigating online resources to help editors build new articles or enhance existing articles.

Wikipedia has a lot to offer and gain from working with the University Library. This event provides an opportunity to learn how articles are built and maintained and provide on-site access to databases and one-on-one assistance from reference librarians in navigating these sources. New users shouldn’t shy away from attending.

The event begins at 4:00 p.m. and ends at 8:00 p.m. Dinner will be provided. Come for all or part of the evening. Registration required, please RSVP by 4/12/15. Email: specialcollections@lib.uchicago.edu or sign up on Facebook

Participants are asked to bring their own laptop and power cord.

New to Wikipedia?

Create an account on Wikipedia, if you don’t have one already.  There are a lot of benefits for doing so, particularly with collaborative events like edit-a-thons.  

Once your account is made, try running through The Wikipedia Adventure, an automated tutorial that will help cover some of the basics of using Wikipedia.  It takes about an hour to complete, and it’s an excellent resource for getting started.    

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.

Committee to Frame a World Constitution Records Re-housed

Committee to Frame a World Constitution PosterContinuing our collections news, one of our more frequently used collections, The Committee to Frame a World Constitution Records, has been re-housed into new, more usable containers.  This collection, which documents efforts to formulate a world constitution in the post-War era, includes correspondence, administrative and financial records, manuscripts submitted to Common Cause, and drafts of the World Constitution itself.  Robert Hutchins, Mortimer Adler, Robert Redfield, Richard McKeon, and other University of Chicago faculty and administrators were involved in the effort. The re-housed records also incorporate additional materials not included in the original finding aid.