Feature Story

PhD student interns gain new perspectives at the Library

When the call went out for summer internship ideas for the University of Chicago’s Graduate Global Impact program, librarians on campus recognized a dual opportunity. PhD students could develop new perspectives on scholarship by working with librarians on important projects, while the work they accomplished could enhance the Library’s offerings for its many users.

Special Collections Intern Ellen Ambrosone with blueprints

Special Collections Intern Ellen Ambrosone with blueprints (Photo by John Zich)

Four interns—Rafadi Hakim, Ellen Ambrosone, Marco Torres, and Eric Phillips—were hired for summer 2015. Through their internships, they gained new insights into the local and global impact of librarianship and scholarship.

The skills these interns developed in the Library can help them in a wide range of environments in the future. “The primary objective of the internship program is to provide graduate students with flexible training that can help them prepare for careers in academia, nonprofits, government, and industry,” said A-J Aronstein, Associate Director of Graduate Career Development and Employer Relations. “The kind of skills that one develops in the Library—including digital skills, coding, and archival research—are just as vital for jobs on the tenure track as they are for jobs in other fields.”

Digital South Asia Library Intern Rafadi Hakim

A PhD student in Anthropology, Rafadi Hakim, was hired to help expand and enhance the presentation of data and texts in the Digital South Asia Library (DSAL). His projects ranged from writing a grant application with librarians to adding digital facsimiles to the DSAL website.

Hakim jumped at the chance to be involved in the digital humanities. “Sometimes as a student, I feel I’m spending so much time fine tuning small parts of my own paper for just a few people,” he said. But, when working on the DSAL, he explained, “It’s not just about this exclusive circle. It’s massively helpful to people in different countries.” His work this summer required thinking about how to best serve students, scholars, and others with varying degrees of fluency in South Asian languages and varying amounts of Internet bandwidth.

Hakim also appreciates the new perspectives on scholarship that he gained from working with James Nye, Bibliographer for Southern Asia, and Laura Ring, Cataloger and Assistant South Asia Librarian.   “It’s nice to get some mentoring from people in addition to the faculty in your own department,” he said.

Rafadi Hakim

Rafadi Hakim examines an image that will be added to the Digital South Asia Library. (Photo by John Zich)


Special Collections Intern Ellen Ambrosone

Over the last several years in particular, Special Collections has received an enormous influx of architectural drawings. “They’re hanging on racks; they’re in drawers; they’re in archival boxes,” said Kathleen Feeney, Head of Archives Processing and Digital Access. “Our best estimate is that there are 117,000 of them. We know we have them from the entire history of the University, from landscape drawings to electrical plans, but when we hired Ellen, we didn’t have a strong inventory.”

Ambrosone, a PhD candidate in South Asian Languages and Civilizations, welcomed the opportunity to participate in the first phase of a multi-year project to preserve and make these drawings accessible. She began the compilation of an inventory of the drawings, so that researchers can more readily understand what is available.

Processing Archivist Ashley Locke Gosselar, who helped to direct Ambrosone’s work on the project, emphasized its importance. “Our campus—and the city at large—is renowned for its architecture. What Ellen is doing is helping to preserve that legacy.”

Ambrosone expects to use the skills she developed in her own work, and to share her knowledge with others. “Having a working knowledge of archiving and processing the collection makes me a more well-rounded scholar,” she said. “I’m thinking about how I can incorporate this experience into my teaching to show students how the work scholars do is often built on work done by library professionals.”

Citation Analysis Intern Marco Torres

History PhD candidate Marco Torres joined the Library this summer to analyze citations used in recent UChicago Latin American studies dissertations. “One of the goals of the project is to help us make decisions about what resources should be purchased in the future based on the type of materials PhD students are using,” explained Ellen Bryan, Reference Librarian and Head of the Dissertation Office.

Torres’s own dissertation proposal was approved shortly before his internship began. He plans to go to Mexico City to do research on the labor movement in the late 1930s and its role in Mexican politics. He particularly valued the opportunity to discover the kinds of sources recent graduates used in studying Mexico.

“A lot of what we do as scholars is to look at bibliographies and see patterns in them,” Torres said. “Getting that recent bibliography is not so easy, sometimes.” One unexpected trend he observed was that recent political science bibliographies cite trade publications outside the social sciences, in fields such as medicine.

ACASA Intern Eric Phillips

History PhD student Eric Phillips first met June Farris, the Library’s Bibliographer for Slavic, East European & Eurasian Studies, when consulting the Library’s Archives of Czechs & Slovaks Abroad (ACASA) for a seminar paper on the transformation of Pressburg into Bratislava, the capital of the Slovak half of newly independent Czechoslovakia in post-World War I Europe. He is studying the Czech language and preparing to write his dissertation on the economic history of interwar Czechoslovakia and Austria.

Eric Phillips

ACASA Intern Eric Phillips (Photo by John Zich)

Farris mentioned to Phillips some time ago that ACASA needed to be reorganized. New materials were waiting to be integrated into the original schema devised by early collector Zdenek Hruban, and old materials needed to be rehoused to make room for them. During his internship, Phillips immersed himself in this project. He was delighted to be the first to go through Professor Hruban’s papers and fascinated to see a copy of the Nuremberg testimony of Petr Zenkl, a mayor of Prague, who was sent by the Nazis to Buchenwald concentration camp.

“For the last two summers, I’ve been going to the archives in Prague and trying to navigate them. It’s been a challenging experience,” Phillips said in August. “Now I’m on the other side, learning how archives are organized.”

“Being a historian, archival research is the ultimate goal, so the more you do of it, the more competent a researcher you are, and the more it can help you develop themes in your area,” said Farris.

Hakim, Torres and Phillips’s internships were sponsored by the Division of the Social Sciences Emerging Leaders Initiative. Ambrosone’s internship was sponsored by UChicago GRAD.

Poetic associations and the Wachs collection

Illustration by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882). “The Poems of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: With Illustrations from His Own Pictures and Designs.” Edited with an introduction and notes by W. M. Rossetti. London: Ellis and Elvey, 1904. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library. Gift of Deborah Wachs Barnes, Sharon Wachs Hirsch, Judith Pieprz, and Joel Wachs, AB’92. Detail from the first edition of Rossetti’s poems illustrated with his own pictures.

Exhibition–Poetic Associations: The 19th-Century English Poetry Collection of Dr. Gerald N. Wachs

Dates: September 21 – December 31, 2015

In the period between the French Revolution and the start of World War I, often called “the long 19th century,” English poetry enjoyed enormous popularity and respect. The Romantics and the Victorians, as we know them today, were celebrities and, often, close friends, part of a literary community that influenced their professional and personal lives. Dr. Gerald N. Wachs (1937-2013), working closely with his friend, bookseller Stephen Weissman of Ximenes Rare Books, collected their works over a period of 40 years starting in 1970, using as their guidebook the Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature. They sought the finest copies, whenever possible ones that were presented by the author to other writers, friends, or family members. Books selected for the Wachs collection are nearly all “special”: in splen­did condition, often one of very few known copies, and many with extraordinary inscriptions that illustrate per­sonal and poetic associations. The resulting collection of nearly 900 titles illuminates the life and works of these enduring poets.

George Gordon, Lord Byron."She Walks in Beauty."

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824). “Hebrew Melodies.” London: Printed for John Murray, 1815. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library. Gift of Deborah Wachs Barnes, Sharon Wachs Hirsch, Judith Pieprz, and Joel Wachs, AB’92. This was the first title acquired for the Wachs collection.

It is difficult to single out representative examples from such a rich assemblage. The exhibition includes 104 items. Some are little-known works by famous authors. For example, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s first book, The Battle of Marathon; A Poem (1820), privately print­ed in an edition of 50 copies, of which only 15 copies are known to survive. Others are the first appearance of fa­mous works that differ considerably from the version we have come to know, such as Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade.

After Dr. Wachs’s death, and thanks to the great generosity of the Wachs family (Deborah Wachs Barnes, Sha­ron Wachs Hirsch, Judith Pieprz, and Joel Wachs, AB’92), more than 600 titles have been donated to the University of Chicago. This magnificent gift will create entirely new areas of depth to the Library’s collection, for example Anglo-Indian poetry, and add many works previously not in the collection or with features of great interest to researchers.

Location: Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

Hours: Monday–Friday: 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.; Saturdays: 9 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. when classes are in session. Consult hours for the Special Collections Research Center at hours.lib.uchicago.edu.

The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Curators: Catherine Uecker, Alice Schreyer, Sarah G. Wenzel, and Eric Powell 

Associated web exhibit: lib.uchicago.edu/e/webexhibits/poeticassociations


Use of Images and Media Contact

Images from the exhibition included on this page are available for download by members of the media, and are reserved for editorial use in connection with University of Chicago Library exhibitions, programs, or related news.  For more information, contact Rachel Rosenberg at ra-rosenberg@uchicago.edu or 773-834-1519.



Seeing Chicago sociologists anew through the Archives

Harvey Choldin, AB’60, AM’63, PhD’65, finds himself plumbing the archives for an exhibition on the Chicago school of sociology

Harvey Choldin and Joe Scott with a map from the exhibition "Mapping the Young Metropolis"

Curator Harvey Choldin and exhibition designer Joe Scott examine a map from the exhibition “Mapping the Young Metropolis: The Chicago School of Sociology, 1915–1940.” (Photo by John Zich)

A few years ago I was at an opening of one of the Special Collections Research Center’s fascinating exhibitions with my wife, Marianna Tax Choldin, LAB’59, AB’62, AM’67, PhD’79, when it struck me: why not have an exhibit on the Chicago school of sociology? I’m a Chicagoan, an urban sociologist, and a UChicago alumnus, so my fascination with the Chicago school comes naturally. When I mentioned the idea to the director of Special Collections, Dan Meyer, AM’75, PhD’94, that evening, he thought others would be fascinated too.

A couple of weeks later Dan and I met to discuss the idea further. After a lifetime in academia, I expected Dan to appoint a faculty committee of sociologists, including me if I was lucky. Instead he said, to my surprise, that I would be curating the exhibit.

What was the Chicago school? Over three decades teaching urban sociology I was always aware of the work of University of Chicago scholars in the pre–World War II era. An influential 1915 essay by one of the school’s founders, Robert E. Park, conveys the nature of their contributions. In “The City: Suggestions for the Investigation of Human Behavior in the City Environment,” Park argued that sociologists had to get out of the library and conduct empirical research, studying the city firsthand. The city, he wrote, should be their laboratory. We planned the exhibition to celebrate the centennial of Park’s essay.

Ernest Burgess, PhD 1913, also held this view. His landmark 1925 publication, “The Growth of the City: An Introduction to a Research Project,” introduced his concentric zones model of urban growth. Diagrammed in a sort of bull’s-eye pattern, the model was reprinted for decades in book after book about cities.

I was particularly inspired by Louis Wirth’s (PhB’19, AM’25, PhD’26) paper “Urbanism as a Way of Life,” published in the American Journal of Sociology in 1938. Wirth joined the faculty after earning his doctorate. His ambitious paper attempts to define the city and explain why city life is as it is. The essay was broad in scope and fearlessly bold. I always started my urban courses and seminars with it and emphasized it in the urban sociology textbook I wrote.

Park and Burgess sent hundreds of students—two of whom became my professors, Everett Hughes, PhD’28, and Philip Hauser, PhB’29, AM’33, PhD’38—into the city to do research. Using the city as their laboratory, they one by one completed theses and dissertations that became classics of sociology. The titles were evocative: “The Taxi-Dance Hall,” “The Ghetto,” “The Hobo,” “The Gang.” The University of Chicago Press established a series in sociology and published these along with many other dissertations.

Hand drawn map

Ernest Burgess, whose concentric zone model of urban space had lasting influence, used maps extensively in his sociological work. Map of the Radial Expansion and the Five Urban Zones, undated. Ernest Watson Burgess Papers. The University of Chicago Library.

My unexpected task now was to delve into the archives and see what remained from this seminal time and place in sociology. There were disappointments. Park’s archive had very little, and Wirth’s retained items mostly from later in his life, after the number of students dwindled at the advent of World War II and the Chicago school drew to a close.

But there were delightful discoveries too. Harvey Zorbaugh’s project The Gold Coast and the Slum (1929), for example, had a file at the University of Chicago Press. In it were black-and-white snapshots taken in the “slum” of the book’s title, Little Sicily on the Near North Side, during his fieldwork. Another press file, for The Gang (1927) by Frederic M. Thrasher, AM 1918, PhD’26, held a sociologist’s or historian’s treasure: a large map of “Chicago’s gangland” with hundreds of red dots and triangles showing the locations of the city’s boy gangs. Some of the larger ones were the Dukies, Shielders, and West Siders.

A wonderful little archive was that of James Carey, PhD’58, who in the 1970s wrote a book on the Chicago school, tracking down its living members, men and women who had been students then or their surviving spouses. Carey got them talking candidly and informally about their peers and professors and the texture of life during the Chicago school, and later donated transcripts of his interviews to the archive.

Ruth Shonle Cavan, PhB’21, AM’23, PhD’26, the author of Suicide, recalled that “we didn’t have any money to have any paid commercial recreation. So most of our free time was either spent in the library or little groups discussing everything under the sun. … It came as near to a community of scholars as I have ever experienced.” Norman Hayner, AM’21, PhD’23, said that Burgess “worked the tail off us. All of us graduate students knew that we had to work when we got into a course with Burgess, but you learned something.” None of them had any sense of being in a “school”—the name would come years later. They were just doing exciting research.

Burgess’s archives proved to be the mother lode. I saw similarities between Burgess and my late father-in-law, anthropologist Sol Tax, PhD’35. Each man had spent his entire academic life vigorously engaged in social science at the University—and they both accumulated lots of paper that became important scholarly archives. Burgess’s take up 261 linear feet and are filled with treasures. I spent months with them: research proposals, penciled-in questionnaires, tally sheets of answers, drafts, published reports, and things less expected.

When you open a file, you don’t know what you’re going to find. In Burgess’s archive I might stumble on an umpteenth survey of boys in playgrounds or one more neighborhood study report. My challenge was to find items that would be legible and interesting to look at in a display case. One of the most memorable things I found was a field report written by Hauser when he was a student.

A world-famous demographer, Hauser was known for bringing a rigorously scientific approach to sociology. This report, written in 1929, was about his visits to the homes of three men who were killed in the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. In one case the deceased was so poor and solitary that his friends recruited Phil to serve as a pallbearer.

At moments working in Burgess’s archive I felt my own place in the lineage that followed him. One day I found a demographic graph of a neighborhood, dated 1934, by Alex Edidin, PhB’34, who was an old friend of my family. Twenty-five years after Edidin, I had completed the same assignment for my teacher and his fellow student Philip Hauser. I photocopied Edidin’s graph and sent it to his son and my lifelong friend Michael Edidin, SB’60. He was delighted to see it.

In the months I spent in Burgess’s papers, I saw the full range of his involvement with urban issues: crime and delinquency, parks and playgrounds, mental illness, divorce, and more. He corresponded with the Union League Club, the Metropolitan YMCA, and other civic organizations and agencies. Perhaps his major efforts were directed toward solving the problems of the Depression. He directed a census of the city of Chicago in 1934, focused on housing and unemployment. My mother, Hannah Werth Choldin, PhB’30, a young schoolteacher, was an enumerator on that census.

When Hauser and Hughes taught me in the College, Hughes was near retirement and Hauser was department chair. I thought of them as eminent sociologists to be respected for their scholarly accomplishments and to be feared, of course, as professors. In the archives they came to life as young graduate students—getting assignments from their professors and launching new research projects with no notion their work would be remembered for decades to come. In all the years that I’d learned from them, remembered them, and been inspired by them as a scholar, I’d never thought of them like that before.

Harvey Choldin, AB’60, AM’63, PhD’65, is professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The exhibit he curated, Mapping the Young Metropolis: The Chicago School of Sociology, 1915–1940, runs through September 11, 2015, at the Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery and an associated web exhibit is available online.

This essay originally appeared in the July/August 2015 issue of the University of Chicago Magazine.

Mapping the Young Metropolis

Hand colored map, “Populations Receiving Relief”

Hand colored map, “Populations Receiving Relief,” October 1934.
Ernest W. Burgess Papers, The University of Chicago Library.

Exhibition: Mapping the Young Metropolis: The Chicago School of Sociology, 1915–1940

Dates: June 22 – September 11, 2015

In 1915, University of Chicago sociology professor Robert E. Park published The City: Suggestions for the Investigation of Human Behavior in the City Environment, a book that inspired a quarter-century of social research at the University of Chicago and transformed the discipline of sociology. This explosion of scholarship came to be known as the Chicago School of Sociology. Faculty and graduate students in the Department of Sociology adopted Chicago as their urban laboratory and began to study the city intensively, examining distinctive neighborhoods, institutions and social patterns. Archives in the Special Collections Research Center preserve key records of their research methodology: tools, such as questionnaires and life histories, along with analyses, such as statistical tables and city maps. Archival documents reveal the new sociological research process, from proposal through data collection to final report. The exhibition also displays a series of influential books written by Chicago sociologists, many based upon PhD dissertations, among them Louis Wirth’s The Ghetto (1928) and Harvey Zorbaugh’s The Gold Coast and the Slum (1929).

Location: Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

Hours: Monday–Friday: 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.; Saturdays 9 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. when classes are in session. Consult hours for the Special Collections Research Center at hours.lib.uchicago.edu.

The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Curator: Harvey Choldin, AB’60, AM’63, PhD’65, earned his Ph.D. in the University of Chicago Sociology Department and is a University of Illinois professor emeritus of sociology.

Associated web exhibit (coming in July):  lib.uchicago.edu/e/webexhibits/mappingtheyoungmetropolis2

Use of Images and Media Contact

Images from the exhibition included on this page are available for download by members of the media, and are reserved for editorial use in connection with University of Chicago Library exhibitions, programs, or related news.  For more information, contact Rachel Rosenberg at ra-rosenberg@uchicago.edu or 773-834-1519.


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.

Students’ dedication to Library highlighted in Scavenger Hunt

What do the “Miss Joe Regenstein” pageant, a hunt for the Library’s largest bladed weapon, and the hatching of “Reg Eggs” have in common? All three were 2015 Scavenger Hunt tasks, and all demonstrated students’ love of the University of Chicago Library and its centrality to student life.

The history of Scavenger Hunt and the Library

Scavenger Hunt began at the University of Chicago in 1987, and has since become one of Chicago’s most heralded traditions. The event has received national coverage in publications such as The New Yorker, and was a subject of a 2002 documentary The Hunt. Every year, over four days in May, Scavenger Hunt teams compete for points obtained by gathering hard-to-locate objects and participating in challenging—and occasionally bizarre—events. The Scavenger Hunt list consists of over 300 activities and tasks, including the “Scav Olympics”, a blood drive, and a road trip to out-of-the way attractions. Student teams are generally affiliated with undergraduate residence halls and Registered Student Organizations (RSOs), but also may include graduate students and alumni.

Over the years, the Library has worked with the Scavenger Hunt judges wishing to have items on the list related to our collections or campus libraries. Understanding the Hunt’s significance to the University’s culture, the Library has been very supportive of the tradition, allowing events and tasks as long as our campus libraries can maintain a scholarly environment. Library-related tasks in the past include the creation of “bibliodomes” and questions about little-known facts from the University Archives. For the 2015 Hunt, the Library was approached by the judges for help with several items from this year’s list.

Meet Miss Joe Regenstein

One of the main events of this year’s Scavenger Hunt was Item 252, a Miss Joe Regenstein pageant, held in Hutchinson Commons on May 7. I had the honor of serving as a guest judge at the proceedings.

Miss Joe Regenstein contestants.

University students participate in Miss Joe Regenstein pageant, part of the annual Scavenger Hunt on Thursday, May 7, 2015 at Hutchinson Commons. (Photo by Jean Lachat)

Each Scavenger Hunt team had a “contestant” for the pageant which represented a section of the Regenstein Library, such as Miss Bookstacks, Miss A Level and Miss Art Reading Room. Contestants were judged in three areas: costumes, talent, and overall knowledge of the Library.

For the costume competition, students created elaborate outfits. Miss Bookstacks’s dress was crafted from pages of a book (though not from the library’s collections). Miss B Level’s costume included a replica of its compact shelving, while Miss Ex Libris’s included a toaster–complete with a bagel.

To demonstrate their knowledge of the Library, the contest included a Q & A session, led by the judges. While some questions were specifically about library research, most were designed to fit the spirit of the event, such as:

  • The Classics Reading Room is the quietest place in Regenstein. Two graduate students begin a fight over Herodotus and Thucydides. How would you break the argument up and preserve the peace?
  • A computer science student thinks that Crerar is best library on campus. Defend Regenstein’s honor!
  • It’s hard to find outlets on Regenstein’s A Level. How would you bring power to the people?

Despite the lighthearted nature of the questions, students demonstrated their knowledge of the organization and culture of the Library, often basing their responses on research conducted before the event.

Miss Classics in the talent competition.

Miss Classics Reading Room builds Regenstein Library with books. (Photo by Jean Lachat)

The final task was a talent competition. Contestants built models of Regenstein out of books, sang songs, and conducted skits. Miss Reference Desk—a.k.a. Alicia Wright, Class of 2015—composed a poem for her team entitled “An Ode to the Reference Desk”:

Worse than Clark Kent and his glasses
We hide in plain sight 
Everyday superheroes 
Making things right 
So the next time you come in 
And need a book on, I don’t know, Shamoo 
Don’t forget to give the reference desk worker 
A heartfelt “thank you”.

All of the teams were creative, funny, and demonstrated their deep affection for the Library. But in the end, the winner was Miss TECHB@R, who led the talent competition—answering tech support questions while balancing a computer keyboard on his head.

A special sword

The Library is often contacted by the Scavenger Hunt judges for help in identifying odd items in our collections for the list. This year, item 49 sought “the country and century of origin for the larger of the two bladed weapons that are property of the University of Chicago Libraries.” In this case, the item in question was in our Special Collections Research Center—a dress sword owned by Ethan Allan Hitchcock, part of the William Beaumont Collection.


RegEgg on Regenstein Library’s A-Level on Friday, May 8, 2015. (Photo by Julie Piacentine)

Reg Eggs hatch

On May 8, Scavenger Hunt teams gathered on the A Level of Regenstein for Item 101, the construction human-sized eggs. Each contained monsters, or costumed team members, who “hatched” and then escaped the A Level via the Library’s Block Garden to spread discord among the main Quads. Interested parties may view the hatching of the Reg Eggs via the Snichcock Team’s YouTube channel.

Scavenger Hunt and the Library’s place in student life

While the Library plays only a small role in the overall proceedings of Scavenger Hunt, it provides a wonderful opportunity for librarians to build relationships with students by working together on a favorite campus event—and for students to demonstrate their creativity, and ingenuity, and research skills, as well as their love of the Library.




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.

‘I Step Out of Myself’: Portrait Photography in Special Collections

Julio Antonio Mella.  1928. Photograph by Tina Modotti (1896-1942). Frances Hooper Papers. Special Collections Research Center.  The University of Chicago Library.

Julio Antonio Mella, 1928. Photograph by Tina Modotti (1896-1942). Frances Hooper Papers. Special Collections Research Center. The University of Chicago Library.

Exhibition Location: Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL
Dates: January 12 – March 20, 2015
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. while classes are in session.  Consult hours.lib.uchicago.edu for Special Collections Research Center hours.
Free and open to the public

Curators: Ashley Locke Gosselar, Laura Alagna, Brittan Nannenga, and Eileen Ielmini

Associated web exhibit: lib.uchicago.edu/e/webexhibits/istepoutofmyself/

“I Step Out of Myself”: Portrait Photography in Special Collections highlights outstanding examples of fine art and photojournalistic portraiture held in the Special Collections Research Center. Displaying selections rarely on public view, the exhibition will draw from the work of a varied group of 20th-century photographers: Eva Watson Schütze, Carl Van Vechten, Layle Silbert, Mildred Mead, Yousuf Karsh, Alice Boughton, Joan Eggan, and Tina Modotti. From the romance of Schütze’s portraits of domestic life at the turn of the 20th century, to the stylized glamour of Van Vechten’s celebrity photographs in the 1930s, to the unflinching presentation of raw poverty in Mildred Mead’s portraits of residents of Chicago slums in the 1950s, “I Step Out of Myself” explores the wide range of technique, style, subject matter, and emotion found in modern photographic portraiture.

Use of Images and Media Contact

Images from the exhibition included on this page are available for members of the media, and are reserved for editorial use in connection with University of Chicago Library exhibitions, programs, or related news.  Contact Rachel Rosenberg at ra-rosenberg@uchicago.edu or 773-834-1519.

French illustrators at war: An interview with the curators

Harris and Edelstein explore WWI illustrations in a Special Collections exhibition

Neil Harris and Teri J. Edelstein

Neil Harris and Teri J. Edelstein

En Guerre: French Illustrators and World War I runs through January 2, 2015, in the Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery at the University of Chicago Library. In this edited interview, co-curators Neil Harris, Preston and Sterling Morton Professor of History and Art History Emeritus, and Dr. Teri J. Edelstein speak with Rachel Rosenberg about the role of French illustrators in World War I, the satiric and surprising aspects of their art, and the origins of the exhibition.

What role did French illustrators play in World War I, and how would you say that affects their illustrations?

Sur le pont

Louis Lefèvre. “Sur le pont.” Rondes glorieuses. [S.l.: s.n., n.d.]. 1ière série. On loan from a private collection.

HARRIS: The French had a very well developed illustrated tradition by the time the war began, and that was one of their assets in the war. They recognized this on a whole series of levels. A number of the illustrations are funny. That is, they’re satirical—they’re pointed. These artists were aware of the ironies of war and are part of a long French tradition of political caricature. Many illustrations in this show are by artists who were—I wouldn’t say twisting the knife in the back of the government, but skeptical about official wisdom. They glorified ordinary people as best they could while raising questions about the war’s logic. The illustrations convey a more complicated set of messages than the propaganda posters of the time.

EDELSTEIN: The posters, by and large, were made officially by government or quasi-government agencies. They were recruitment posters. They urged people to buy national bonds. The illustrations in this exhibition reflect a much more nuanced and personal take on the war. Many of the illustrators were motivated by patriotism, and many of these artists served in the war.

HARRIS: Many were wounded. There was a total mobilization in France, so almost all of their artists who were fit and of age—and who were not foreign nationals, like Picasso—went to war. Many went to the front. They were wounded—in some cases, killed. The enemy was demonized by many of the artists. The Germans, and the Austro-Hungarians, and the Turks were caricatured mercilessly—particularly the leadership. So that wasn’t nuanced. But what was more nuanced was the way French illustrators presented the experiences of the war and focused on the poilu—the ordinary French soldier— who was a key figure in every history of the war.

Conte de fées

Lucien Laforge. “Conte de fées.” Paris: Librairie Lutetia, [n.d.]. World War I Printed Media and Art Collection, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books & Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania.

Is there a particular example of a satiric or subtle illustration that stands out for you?

HARRIS: One is by Lucien Laforge, a socialist, an anarchist, who worked for left-wing journals. He did a broadside called Conte de fées that tells a story of the war as a fairytale. The German ogre is beheaded by three little girls playing in a garden. Figuring out what he meant by this is difficult. Was it an implied critique of what the French referred to as the bourrage de crâne, the war fever that overtook people’s minds? Is it satirical? Is Laforge poking fun at the reductionist character of the war? Or is he, in fact, endorsing the war? It’s hard to say.

Are there aspects of the exhibition that you expect to particularly surprise your audience?

EDELSTEIN: I think people will find it unexpected and riveting to see the extent to which the subject of World War I appears in fashion illustration. The reason for this is threefold. One, fashion was a very important French industry. Two, fashion was an area where the French felt they could nationalistically distinguish themselves from their enemies. They felt that French fashion was at a great remove from German so-called fashion. Three, the illustrators employed by fashion were, by and large, out of work for the duration of the war, so they turned their attention to finding jobs elsewhere. Many issues of La baïonnette feature satirical cartoons that hinge on the notion of French fashion. We also have individual prints on patriotic themes connected to the war that were done by fashion illustrators.

Modes de printemps

Odette Champion. “Modes de printemps: Berlin-Vienne-Constantinople.” Fantasio. Paris: Félix Juven, [ 1915]. Gift of Neil Harris and
Teri J. Edelstein, The University of Chicago Library.

Some of the items on display in En Guerre and included in the associated catalogue have long been a part of the Library’s collections, but a great many are part of your personal collections or were collected by you and subsequently donated to the Library. How did you become interested in collecting World War I illustrations, and how did the Library help in developing the exhibition?

HARRIS: We didn’t really start with the war. I had been collecting French illustrated books since the 1970s. At a certain point, we realized that the centenary of World War I was approaching and we had more than enough for an exhibition. And the Library has a number of things that have been very important, most significantly La baïonnette, a quite amazing illustrated magazine done during the War. We hope that when people come to the show they will observe that these things survive only because there’s a library that takes care of them.

EDELSTEIN: The Library and the staff of Special Collections have been endlessly supportive. We’re delighted with our work with the Library.

Visit the associated web exhibit at lib.uchicago.edu/e/webexhibits/enguerre