Tag Archives: SCRC

SCRC Will Be Closed Monday, January 18th

The Special Collections Research Center will be closed on Monday, January 18, in observation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Please note that we will open at 10:30am on Tuesday, January 19.  For more information please see our hours page.

SCRC Resumes Regular Hours for Tuesday 12/1

The Special Collections Research Center will return to its usual hours beginning Tuesday, December 1, following this announcement  by the University of  Chicago.

Special Collections Thanksgiving Holiday Hours

The Special Collections Research Center will be closed Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, November 26-28, in observation of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will resume our usual hours of 9:00-4:45 on Monday, November 30,2015.

Saul Bellow Papers Being Processed, Temporarily Closed for Research Starting August 1, 2015

Saul BellowUpdated 2/25/16:  Processing of the Saul Bellow Papers is expected to be complete by the end of 2016.

Beginning August 1, 2015, archivists in the Special Collections Research Center will formally organize the Saul Bellow Papers, which will be closed to research during this time.  Processing is expected to be completed by the end of August 2016, but further updates will be provided as the work continues. This work will make the Bellow Papers more accessible for use once the project is completed.  If you have any questions about the Bellow Papers please contact us.

Where the intellectual meets the personal

Curator Lauren Stokes makes invisible histories visible in an exhibition on LGBTQ life at UChicago

Lauren Stokes with her exhibition, "Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles"

Ph.D. candidate Lauren Stokes in the Special Collections Research Center Gallery with the exhibition she curated, “Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles.” (Photo by Joseph Scott)

University of Chicago History Ph.D. candidate Lauren Stokes curated the Special Collections Research Center’s spring exhibition, Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles: A History of LGBTQ Life at the University of Chicago.  With the exhibition’s final days in the gallery approaching, Stokes answered Rachel Rosenberg’s questions about her research process, and described the connections and tensions between the LGBTQ experience on campus and the life of the mind.

Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles is a project of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.  The project exhibition is on view in the Special Collections Exhibition Gallery through June 12, 2015.  An associated web exhibit will remain online after the gallery exhibition closes.

How did you come to curate this exhibition, and what made you interested in doing so?

Following  the success of the 2009 exhibition On Equal Terms: Educating Women at the University of Chicago at the Special Collections Research Center, the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality decided to sponsor a project on the history of LGBTQ life on campus. The University received a 5-star rating from the National LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index in 2012, but we knew very little about the work that it took to get to that point.

Homo t-shirt: "The University of Chicago is gayer than you think"

Ho-mo t-shirt. Donated by Scott Dennis. Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles. Collection. The University of Chicago Library.

I was hired because I had previously researched the history of LGBTQ life at my undergraduate institution, which shares the same mascot as Chicago, so that I can now joke that I am truly the world’s expert on gay and lesbian phoenices.

What challenges did you face in working in the archives and conducting interviews?  What were the most exciting discoveries you made?

Finding LGBTQ life in the archives is difficult because the terms that we use to describe what we are looking for are not the terms that would have been used in the past. More than with other projects I’ve worked on, I needed to do research before I could even do archival research, and I was indebted to previous work on Chicago’s LGBTQ history in order to provide a roadmap. Without the work of previous scholars, for example, I would never have been able to trace the network of “Boston marriages” among the first generation of female faculty and graduate students or have known where to find Gay Liberation in and around the University in the 1970s.

For oral histories, one of our biggest challenges was finding a diversity of narrators. In reaching out to narrators, we sought to span generations (resulting in a range from a 1958 JD to the 2012 AB), racial backgrounds, and sexual and gender identities and expressions.  Many of the first volunteers were highly engaged with LGBTQ politics while at the University, but we were also committed to obtaining the stories of people who may not have been “out” or not have been LGBTQ-identified while on campus. For some of these people, we had to convince them that their experiences were also a necessary part of the history we wanted to preserve.

Photograph from Chicago Pride Parade, 1991. Chicago Maroon, June 1991. University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf7-03416-001, Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library. Used with permission of the Chicago Maroon.

Photograph from Chicago Pride Parade, 1991. Chicago Maroon, June 1991. University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf7-03416-001, Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library. Used with permission of the Chicago Maroon.

While curating the exhibit, I then confronted the additional challenge of translating these “invisible” histories, often characterized by silence, into object-based histories. Established institutional and political communities were more likely to leave material evidence of their existence. Now that the oral histories that speak to a different experience are in the archives, I hope that people will continue to use them in order to tell more “invisible” stories in creative ways.

Finally, Patti Gibbons at Special Collections worked to secure the loan of a square of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt that remembers some of the students and alumni who were lost to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. The quilt reminds visitors of an important chapter in local and national history, but also speaks to the silences that characterize the LGBTQ archive—many of the people we would have wanted to speak to about the early years of Gay Liberation died of AIDS-related causes.

AIDS also affected the material archive in surprising ways—there are many stories of birth families throwing out the personal items of sons and daughters who died of AIDS-related causes, while partners, lovers, and friends in the gay and lesbian community were legally unable to do anything about it.

The UChicago square of the AIDS Quilt on display in the Special Collections Exhibition Gallery

The UChicago square of the AIDS Quilt, Block #753, on loan from the NAMES Project Foundation.
The NAMES Project AIDS quilt square lists some of the students and faculty lost to the epidemic. (Image courtesy of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality)

Has your work on this exhibition enhanced your intellectual and professional development? 

Thinking in terms of an exhibition is very different from thinking in terms of a dissertation. Not only was I telling a story with objects rather than texts, but I was also telling a story that had to arise from a community, and that had to do justice to the 96 people who were willing to share their stories with us.

"Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles" web exhibit

“Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles” web exhibit. Visit lib.uchicago.edu/e/webexhibits/outinthequads/

I began with a great deal of anxiety about oral histories because I did not know if I would create “perfect” oral histories—what if I failed to connect with a narrator? What if I asked the wrong questions? It took the experience of several oral histories, and later the re-reading of those oral histories, before I became comfortable with the idea that “perfection” is not a useful concept for oral histories. An oral history is a conversation rather than a definitive statement of unassailable truth—but these are features of the method rather than problems to be solved.

Finally, I also had the opportunity to teach an undergraduate course about archival research as part of the project, “Sexuality and the Production of History” in Spring 2013. It was incredibly exciting to introduce students to archival research, and specifically how historians work with documents that at first glance may not seem to say much about sexuality. Those students also helped me to look at the documents in new ways, and their insights have filtered into the final product.

These same qualities—the value of collaboration and the ability to accept messiness and contingency as features of the sources that I work with—are also filtering into my other projects, which center on migration in German history.

How does this exhibit address the campaign for marriage equality? And what sort of impact do you want this exhibition to have on public conversations or future scholarly inquiries into LGBTQ history and rights?

The University of Chicago was one of the first universities nationally to offer benefits to same-sex domestic partners in December 1992, and the exhibit documents the faculty, staff, and student activism that made that possible. That moment also resonates with our contemporary moment because of the number of people who wanted to think “beyond marriage” and towards new ways of imagining intimacy and community.

Visitors at the Opening Gala view the exhibition "Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles" (Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality)

Visitors at the Opening Gala view the exhibition “Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles.” Molly Liu, AB’13, left, served as an undergraduate intern who collected oral histories for the project. (Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality)

The exhibit also uncovers a number of surprising activist strategies that might be worth reclaiming in the present, including coalition work between Gay Liberation and African-American groups in the 1960s and 1970s and queer students and hospital workers in the 1990s. I want everyone to know that LGBTQ people have always been part of the University, and that they have always worked to transform the University in creative and productive ways.

Finally, I think that the exhibit shifts our understanding of the University perhaps even more than it changes our understanding of LGBTQ life: because it was a theme that came up in almost all of the oral histories, I wanted to use the exhibit to explore the tension between the possibilities and the constraints created by the University’s focus on the “life of the mind.” For example, some narrators reported that their process of coming out influenced their path of study—one narrator remembered dropping a Political Science major in the 1960s because he didn’t think he could be a gay politician, while some of our narrators from the 1980s chose to go to law school so that they could make a difference in the AIDS epidemic. At an even more basic level, some of the narrators from the 1960s chose Chicago in part because Illinois was the only state that had decriminalized sodomy. The experiences of LGBTQ individuals offer special insight into the ways that none of our intellectual lives can be separated from our personal lives.

Alice Schreyer, Associate University Librarian for Area Studies and Special Collections, leaves UChicago

Alice Schreyer will be leaving the University of Chicago Library to join the Newberry Library as the Roger and Julie Baskes Vice President for Collections and Library Services on August 24. Alice’s last day at UChicago will be July 17.

Alice Schreyer

Alice Schreyer

“Alice has accomplished a tremendous amount for the Library since her arrival in 1991,” said Brenda Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian at the University of Chicago. Serving initially as Curator and then Director of Special Collections through 2011, she fundamentally reconceived and expanded collections, programs, and spaces to emphasize and encourage the use of rare and unique materials by faculty and students at all levels. Among the collections added to the Library during Alice’s tenure are the Saul Bellow Papers, the Barbara and Bill Yoffee Collection of African-American Children’s Literature, the Bibliotheca Homerica Langiana, and the Daniel Clowes Archive. Alice supported the retrospective conversion of Special Collections catalog records, the encoding of archives and manuscript finding aids in EAD, and the launch of the Aeon online request circulation system. An early champion of digitization of Special Collections materials, Alice led several grant-funded projects and helped guide the development and expansion of Library digital collections as co-chair of the Digital Collections Steering Committee. She also oversaw a transformative series of construction projects, including the reconfiguration that shifted Special Collections from three floors to two and created new stack and staff spaces on A-Level; the Rosenthal Seminar Room project that produced the Library’s first smart classroom; the HVAC project that addressed environmental needs of the collections; and the recently completed construction project that reshaped Special Collections’ first floor and created its new public face on the Mansueto pathway. She also directed Preservation from 2007-2011 as the Mansueto Library, with its new Conservation and Digitization Laboratories, was being planned and constructed.

Since 2011, the Library has benefitted from Alice’s leadership in a number of roles. She served as Assistant University Librarian for Humanities, Social Sciences and Special Collections from January 2012 to June 2014, creating the Library’s first unified humanities, social sciences, and area studies division; as Interim Library Director and Associate University Librarian for Area Studies and Special Collections from July to December 2014; and as Associate University Librarian for Area Studies and Special Collections and Curator of Rare Books since January 2015.  

Alice has also played a vital role in shaping special collections librarianship throughout the country. Before joining us, she worked at Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Library of Congress, and the University of Delaware Library. She was the founding editor of the ACRL journal Rare Books & Manuscripts from 1988 to 1993 and a member of the ARL Task Force on Special Collections (2002-2006), for which she wrote “Education and Training for Careers in Special Collections Librarianship; A White Paper” (November 2004). Book collectors and librarians continue to refer to Alice’s essay, Elective Affinities: Private Collectors & Special Collections in Libraries (Chicago: University of Chicago Library, 2001), originally delivered at the Library of Congress and published by the University of Chicago Library Society. In addition to teaching courses on special collections librarianship from 2001-2012, she has served on the Board of Directors of the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia since 2004, as Secretary from 2009 through 2014, and as Chair since January 2014.

“We will miss Alice greatly but are pleased to know that she will be nearby and that we will have the opportunity to collaborate with her as she takes on her new role at the Newberry,” Johnson said.

Upcoming Event: “More Than Lore: Women Founders of the University of Chicago”

 

hitchcock and rockefeller

You probably recognize some of the men in this photo, but can you identify the woman in the front row? Do you know her name or anything about her? Would you like to?

In celebration of Women’s History Month The University of Chicago Library invites you to a study break to learn more about the women who helped build and grow the University.

The event will take place on March 4th in Regenstein Library room 122.  The highlight of the afternoon will be a talk at 3 p.m. given by Daniel Meyer, University Archivist and Director of the Special Collections Research Center, on the women who greatly contributed to the establishment of the University of Chicago. Immediately following the talk everyone is welcome to visit the Special Collections Research Center to view selected original  documents and photographs highlighting women from the University Archives.

 

The event schedule:

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

2:30 p.m. Doors open, room 122, Regenstein Library. Refreshments served, women’s history-themed giveaways

3:00-3:30 p.m. More Than Lore: Women Founders of UChicago, talk given by Daniel Meyer

3:30-4:30 p.m. Display open in the Special Collections Research Center, room 130, Regenstein Library

Plus, pick up one of our new University of Chicago Women trading cards.  Collect them all!

UChicago Women Trading Cards

Famous women of University of Chicago trading cards.

SCRC Closed on January 1, 2015

winterbartlett1948-295x300

 

The Special Collections Research Center will be closed on Thursday, January 1, 2015 in observance of New Year’s Day. We will reopen and resume regular business hours on Friday, January 2, 2015. To submit a reference question online please use our webform found here:  http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/ask/SCRC.html

 

 

 

SCRC Closures in December

Bartlett Hall Winter 1948

Bartlett Hall Winter 1948

The Special Collections Research Center will be closed December 24-25, 2014, and will be open 9:00am-12:45pm on December 26. We will not be able to retrieve items on December 26; all requests for items to be used that day must be submitted no later than noon on December 23. For more information on our hours or for information on requesting items please see our web pages.

Special Collections Closed November 27-30

The Special Collections Research Center will be closed November 27-30 in observation of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will resume our normal hours on December 1.