Exhibits

Meaning Found in Comparison: An Exhibit in memory of Martin Riesebrodt (1948-2014)

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor
Exhibit Dates: March 16 – May 31, 2015

Martin Riesebrodt

Martin Riesebrodt in his office in Swift Hall

“What’s interesting in the uniqueness of everything? Uniqueness has to be related to something that is shared in order to become really interesting.” Martin Riesebrodt defended both the possibility of a universal definition of religion and the ability and importance of critical comparisons across religions. This at a time when the fields of Religion and Sociology were questioning comparative approaches. Trained in anthropology and sociology, he began his career as an associate director of the Max Weber Archives and one of the editors of a German critical edition of Weber’s work, Max Weber-Gesamtausgabe

Martin Riesebrodt

Martin Riesebrodt in 2011

He joined the faculty at the Divinity School in 1990, with a joint appointment in the Department of Sociology. Riesebrodt is credited with reintroducing the relevance of the Weberian approach in Sociology. He is probably best known for his work on his theory of fundamentalism as a reassertion of patriarchal power structures in Pious Passion: The Emergence of Modern Fundamentalism in the United States and Iran (University of California Press, 1993; German original 1990). In his retirement, he taught at the Graduate Institute in Geneva as the Yves Oltramare Chair for Religion and Politics. Dr. Riesebrodt died December 6, 2014, of cancer in Berlin. He was 66.

‘A Library for All Time': Celebrating the History of the John Crerar Library

John Crerar

John Crerar, University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf1-01997, Special Collections Research Center.

Exhibit Location: The John Crerar Library, Atrium
Exhibit Dates: October 29, 2014 – March 31, 2015
Associated Web Exhibit

The John Crerar Library is celebrating 30 years at the University of Chicago and 120 years since its original founding as a science and technology library in Chicago. This exhibit commemorates these anniversaries and features historical photographs and documents from the Library’s archival collections which illustrate the rich history of the John Crerar Library.

Perspective rendering of the John Crerar Library

Stubbins Associates, perspective rendering of the John Crerar Library, [1984]. Archival Buildings File, Special Collections Research Center.

August 1914: The Eastern Front

Exhibition Location: Regenstein Library, Second Floor Reading Room
Dates: August 1 – December 31, 2014

Map of Europe in 1914In August 1914, most of the countries that we now think of as Eastern Europe (or Central Europe or Southeastern Europe or East Central Europe (nothing about this area of the world is less than complex and multi-faceted!) were either part of one or another of the region’s multinational, multilingual, and multi-religious empires—the Russian Empire, the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Ottoman Empire—or had just recently struggled free from decades or centuries of imperial rule. On this centennial of the beginning of The Great War, this two-case exhibit attempts to place these countries “on the map” as they were in August 1914. It is an almost impossible task, as the complexity of the borders, alliances, relationships and aspirations of these crumbling empires and emerging nations were to clash mightily and disastrously as they positioned themselves on the Eastern Front.

Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles: A History of LGBTQ Life at the University of Chicago

Weddstock Protest 1992

Photograph from Weddstock protest, 1992. Chicago Maroon. University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf7-03580-001, Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library. Used with the permission of the Chicago Maroon.

Exhibition Dates: March 30 – June 12, 2015

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

Description: From lesbian relationships in the early 1900s to the founding of Chicago Gay Liberation in 1970 to today, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning individuals have long been part of the University of Chicago’s history. More than 95 oral histories gathered from LGBTQ alumni, faculty and staff join with archival and donated materials to tell those stories in this exhibition.

The oldest material in the exhibition documents relationships between the first generation of female faculty and graduate students at the University at the start of the 20th century. The exhibition also explores the consequences faced by male instructors caught in vice raids of the 1940s, the founding of Chicago Gay Liberation in 1970, the impact of AIDS on the University of Chicago community, anti-gay violence in the 1980s, and activism for partner benefits for same-sex couples and improvements to the campus climate for queer, transgender and gender non-conforming students. As the Chicago Maroon declared in 1980, “The University of Chicago may be gayer than you think.”

Gay Liberation Dance poster

Gay Liberation Dance poster, 1971. Used with permission of Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections at Northwestern University.

Drawing on the rich holdings of the University of Chicago Library—including the papers of Marion Talbot and Ernest Burgess, administrative records, and a multitude of campus publications—and other major archives, the exhibition displays letters, academic papers, and student newspaper articles, as well as posters, ephemera, photographs, a square of the AIDS Memorial Quilt made by UChicago students, and other visual documentation tracing this complex history. The exhibition also introduces new materials and selections from oral histories collected by the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality from alumni such as James Hormel, JD’58, former dean of students of the Law School and the first openly gay U.S. ambassador; cultural anthropologist Esther Newton, AM’66, PhD’68, who wrote the first major anthropological study of a homosexual community in the U.S. while a graduate student at UChicago; and Deborah Gould, AM ’90, PhD ’00, activist, scholar, and author of the first book to analyze the emergence, development, and decline of the direct-action AIDS movement, ACT UP.

Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Price: Free and open to the public

Presented by the University of Chicago Library and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality

Curator: Lauren Stokes, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, The University of Chicago

Associated web exhibit (coming April 2015): lib.uchicago.edu/e/webexhibits

Facebook Event Page: Exhibit

The Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles Project

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.

Based on previous research into women’s history and experience at the University, students and faculty at the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality identified a pressing need to capture the history and experience of LGBTQ individuals and communities at the University of Chicago. In 2011, the CSGS launched the project Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles, documenting LGBTQ life at the University of Chicago from the early 20th century through the present day. During this time, students and staff working on the project have collected more than 95 oral histories, gathered donated materials from alumni, students and student groups, and mined the archives at the University of Chicago Library, Northwestern University, the Kinsey Institute, the Chicago History Museum, Gerber/Hart Library and Archives, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison for materials.

In addition to producing new scholarship, the Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles Project contributes to building community and expertise around the history of sexuality across disciplines by providing undergraduate and graduate students at the University space for research and intergenerational mentorship. The project has offered a yearly undergraduate course that has trained students in oral history and archival research methods and exploring LGBTQ history. The project also brings scholars of LGBTQ history working in universities and archives across the United States to campus for public lectures and student/faculty workshops.

Opening Gala

Chicago Pride Parade, 1991

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.

Date: April 1
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Location:
Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery, The University of Chicago Library, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637
Facebook Event Page – Opening Gala

To RSVP

Celebrate the opening of the exhibition Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles: A History of LGBTQ Life at the University of Chicago. A reception and short program will mark the opening, and visitors will have the opportunity to meet researchers, oral history narrators and project organizers.  

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, or Susie Allen at sjallen1@uchicago.edu or 773-702-4009.

Coal Swamp Fossils: The Robert Springfield Fossil Collection – new web exhibit

Calamites sp.

A branch of Calamites sp. that shows multiple spore producing cones of a sphenopsid.

A web version is now available of the current Crerar Library exhibit: Coal Swamp Fossils: The Robert Springfield Fossil Collection.  The physical exhibition, consisting of 16 fossils, is on view in the Crerar Library’s First Floor Reading Room for the 2014-2015 academic year.  It was curated by Benjamin Rhind, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools high school senior.

Exhibit Description: This collection of fossils was collected by Robert Springfield in mines in southern Tennessee and northern Alabama.  They contain many fossils from the Carboniferous Period, ranging from 330,000,000 -300,000,000 BCE.  The period was defined by the large deposits of coal beds that it left behind.  This massive amount of coal was because of the development of bark bearing trees and the fact that a lower sea level during this age left behind large lowland, swampy forests.  Plant life during the period was diverse, and although this collection of fossils contains several different genera and species, they all fit into one of three categories: sphenopsids, lycopods and pteridosperms.

The University of Chicago Library is grateful to the Springfield family for their gift of fossil specimens, which brings unique materials to the Library’s collections.  The Robert Springfield Fossil Collection is on loan from the Library’s Special Collections Research Center.

 

‘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.

Coal Swamp Fossils: The Robert Springfield Fossil Collection

 Calamites sp.

A branch of Calamites sp. that shows multiple spore producing cones of a sphenopsid.

An exhibit of 16 coal swamp fossils is now on display in the Crerar Library’s first floor Reading Room. 

Curated by Benjamin Rhind, high school senior at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, the exhibit of Sphenopsid and Lycopod specimens is drawn from The Robert Springfield Fossil Collection and is on view for the 2014-2015 academic year.

We are grateful to the Springfield family for their gift of fossil specimens, which brings unique materials to the Library’s collections.  The Robert Springfield Fossil Collection is on loan from the Library’s Special Collections Research Center.

Chinese New Year paintings held in the Shanghai Library

Exhibit Location:  The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fifth Floor
Exhibit Dates: October 31, 2014 – February 28, 2015 

The children of a wealthy family are playing drums and suona to celebrate the New Year. In the background the grandfather scold a naughty child.

The children of a wealthy family are playing drums and suona to celebrate the New Year. In the background the grandfather attends to his grandchild.

Chinese New Year painting is a unique and fascinating  genre of Chinese painting.   Customarily, these paintings are often posted by Chinese people in their homes to celebrate the New Year, offering hopes and blessings for an auspicious and happy New Year.

A family is celebrating the Lantern Festival.

A family reunion during the Lantern Festival. The peonies and plum blossoms in the vase indicate the season and create a festive atmosphere.

Over the years, the Shanghai Library has collected over 4,000 New Year paintings produced from the end of the Qing Dynasty to the early years of the Republican Period. This exhibition displays 10 replicas of New Year paintings selected by the Shanghai Library from their collection, which focus on local products and cover eight topics including, for example, “Good Fortune,” “Happy Family,” “Auspicious New Year”, “Celebrating the Lantern Festival,” and “Children at Play.”

The three gods, Fu, Lu and Shou (good fortune, prosperity,and longevity) are pictured.

Good fortune, prosperity, longevity and happiness (fu lu shou xi) are words commonly used in traditional Chinese customs for good wishes. The three gods, Fu, Lu and Shou, are pictured.

From Gnostics to U-Boats: The Work of Robert McQueen Grant (1917-2014)

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor.

Exhibit Dates: October 20, 2014 – December 13, 2014

Grant in his retirement

Grant in his retirement

Grant as a young man

Grant as a young man in his office in Swift Hall.

 

Robert McQueen Grant was the most prolific and influential American historian of ancient Christianity of his generation. His research helped establish New Testament Studies as an historical endeavor that must take into account the full context of the Hellenistic world. His research interests were broad. He published multiple books on Gnosticism, an introduction to the New Testament that was later translated into French and an encyclopedia of the use of animals in early Christian literature. At the same time, he was an international authority on U-Boats in World War I. Robert McQueen Gant began teaching at the Divinity School in 1953. He passed away at his home in Hyde Park on June 10, 2014 at the age of 96. This exhibit displays paradigmatic works from his career, showcasing Grant’s breadth and depth as a scholar.

En Guerre: French Illustrators and World War I

Exhibition Location: Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL
Dates: October 14, 2014 – January 2, 2015
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 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 holiday hours.
Price: Free and open to the public

Curators: Professor Neil Harris and Dr. Teri J. Edelstein

Associated Web Exhibit: lib.uchicago.edu/e/webexhibits/enguerre

André Hellé, Alphabet de la Grande Guerre 1914–1916

André Hellé. “Batterie/Charge.” Alphabet de la Grande Guerre 1914–1916. Paris: Berger-Levrault, [1916]. On loan from a private collection.

Description: On the centenary of the Great War’s commencement, En Guerre: French Illustrators and World War I explores the conflict through French graphic illustration of the period. The exhibition presents themes essential to a deeper understanding of the war in France: patriotism, propaganda, the soldier’s experience, as well as the mobilization of the home front as seen through fashion, humor, and children’s literature.

Like no other conflict before it, the Great War was a war of images.  Its scale, duration, and intensity were brought home to the public by media and technologies that, in some cases, were well established, but in others seemed novel and even startling.  Films, photographs, lithographic posters, illustrated books, prints, postcards, many in huge quantities, were part of an international propaganda effort that had few parallels before or since.  It offered special opportunities to artists with established reputations and rich possibilities for those just beginning their careers.

French artists, young and old, responded to patriotic appeals with ardor.  Many served at the front, were wounded, taken prisoner, or died as a result of battle.  The totalizing impact of World War I meant, however, that civilian loyalty had to be nurtured continuously during the conflict, and dramatic appeals made to every segment of society.  The identification and cultivation of specialized markets for illustrated books, magazines, and print portfolios—the subjects of this exhibition—encouraged artists and publishers to develop wartime projects of some consequence. Purchasers displayed their loyalty to the cause by buying and, in some cases, displaying the art.

Bonfils, "Sur Mer"

Robert Bonfils. “Sur mer.” La manière française. Paris: Librairie Lutetia, [1916]. On loan from a private collection.

Odette Champion, “Modes de printemps: Berlin-Vienne-Constantinople.”

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.

En Guerre concentrates upon a group of illustrators who became intimately involved with wartime themes. Building upon market transformations and economies of scale, they proceeded in many cases to recast their own art, and prepare the way for the new schools of illustration that would develop in the 1920s and 30s. These in turn carried the French illustrated book to new heights. Three points of origin merit special attention. First is the burgeoning world of illustrated magazines, often polemical, satiric, and sexually graphic in their comprehensive coverage. Some, like La vie parisienne (1863), had been founded many decades earlier, but others, like Le rire (1895), L’assiette au beurre (1900), and Fantasio (1906), were of more recent vintage. The war itself would generate still more journals of this kind, notably La baïonnette (1915). 

This flowering of illustrated journalism served as nursery, laboratory, and gymnasium for a whole generation of illustrators and caricaturists–Andre Hellé, Jacques Touchet, Joseph Hemard, Gus Bofa, Gerda Wegener, Georges Delaw, among many others. Simultaneously acerbic, mordant, irreverent, sentimental, cynical, the magazine illustrators were well suited to the task of wartime commentary. Some of them would inspire the work of comic strip artists in later decades, and many would be active creators of limited edition French illustrated books in the the future.

Schaller, En Guerre

Charlotte Schaller. En guerre! Paris: Berger-Levrault, [1914]. On loan from a private collection.

The second spawning ground for wartime visual culture was the French fashion industry. Two notable portfolios, Les robes de Paul Poiret (1908) by Paul Iribe, and Les choses de Paul Poiret (1911) by Georges Lepape, have become seminal moments in the development of Art Deco graphics. Preceded by a host of fashion-oriented magazines and portfolios, they were followed shortly by new illustrated journals and portfolios, which did much to reestablish French primacy in the world of grande luxe, facing as it did some newly aggressive competition from Germany and Austria-Hungary. Lucien Vogel’s creation of Gazette du bon ton in 1912 was probably the most notable of these, alongside Modes et manières d’aujourd’hui, also appearing the same year. These exquisitely printed, limited edition productions featured the pochoir designs of Georges Lepape, Charles Martin, A. E. Marty, George Barbier, Robert Bonfils, Guy Arnoux, and many other artists who would become active producers of wartime illustration and notable creators of postwar illustrated books. The mobilization of high-style illustrators on behalf of the national effort constitutes one of the more dramatic episodes in the history of French fashion design, and the exhibition will highlight ways in which costume, dress, and the “high life” were exploited in the interests of distinguishing French taste from that of the enemy. La baïonnette, Fantasio, and other periodicals were filled with their work.

Lefevre, Sur le pont

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

The third arena, which En Guerre will examine in some detail, involves the French children’s book. Here there was a long and rich history to draw on, especially in the 19th century: Gustave Doré, Job, and Boutet de Monvel, were prominent. World War I saw some extraordinary productions, meant to inform, proselytize, and instruct children about the great conflict. Scholars in France and the United States have recently been examining this literature. Its size and variety are impressive. In some ways the wartime harvest appears eclectic. Established artists like Hansi and Joseph Pinchon (creator of Becassine) coexisted with newcomers like Charlotte Schaller, André Hellé, Henrietta Damart, and Val-Rau. Some would go on to considerable fame, while others languish in obscurity. What is most arresting here is the mobilization of children in this total war, using books (and toys) to involve them in the military effort, stimulate their patriotism, and socialize them to the loss of family and loved ones.

While these three areas will receive special attention, the exhibition will also note the work of artist-illustrators like Raoul Dufy, J. E. Laboureur, Fernand Léger, and André Lhote. Many of them served at the front and presented the story of the poilu, the French soldier, or focused on the dress and behavior of allied soldiers–American and British particularly. Their creations highlight the contribution of artists to the war effort.

Organized by Professor Neil Harris and Dr. Teri J. Edelstein for the Special Collections Research Center of the University of Chicago Library, the exhibition features more than one hundred and thirty examples of the colorful work of French illustrators, En Guerre reaffirms the persuasive role that art can play in servicing or challenging political and military power.

Commemoration of the centenary of the Great WarThis exhibition has received the designation of the commemoration of the centenary of the Great War.

Harris & Edelstein, En Guerre

Neil Harris and Teri J. Edelstein, En Guerre: French Illustrators and World War I, Chicago: The University of Chicago Library, 2014.

 

Associated Catalogue

Neil Harris and Teri J. Edelstein, En Guerre: French Illustrators and World War I.   The University of Chicago Library.  156 pp. with more than 100 full color illustrations. Distributed by The University of Chicago Press.

Logos of the Insitut Francais and French Embassy in the United StatesSupport for this publication was provided by the Smart Family Foundation, Inc.; the University of Chicago Library Society; the France Chicago Center of the University of Chicago; the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; Martha Fleischman; the Institut Français in Paris and the Cultural Service at the Consulate of France in Chicago; and an anonymous donor.

About the Curators

Neil Harris is the Preston and Sterling Morton Professor of History and Art History Emeritus at the University of Chicago. He is the author of many books, including, most recently, Capital Culture: J. Carter Brown, the National Gallery of Art, and the Reinvention of the Museum Experience, published by the University of Chicago Press. Teri J. Edelstein is an art historian and museum professional. Her scholarly work has focused on the intersection of high art and popular culture. Most recently, she was editor of and contributor to Art for All: British Posters for Transport, Yale University Press. Together, they have written The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age, published by The University of Chicago Press.

Use of Images and Media Contacts

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. 

Download high-resolution images. (This will take several minutes.)

For more information, contact Rachel Rosenberg at ra-rosenberg@uchicago.edu or 773-834-1519, or Susie Allen at sjallen1@uchicago.edu or 773-702-4009.

Scholarship as a living process

Exhibition shows UChicago researchers in mid-thought in Mexico

Researching Mexico: University of Chicago Field Explorations in Mexico, 1896-2014 is on display in the Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery through October 4, 2014. An associated web exhibit is available online. Co-curator Seonaid Valiant, UChicago History Ph.D. Candidate 2014, explains how her dissertation research and other academic experiences influenced her approach to creating the exhibition.

Has field work in Mexico been particularly important to University of Chicago faculty? Why focus a Special Collections exhibition on this subject?

The relationship between the University of Chicago and Mexico has always been incredibly significant—particularly for the social sciences—but that relationship isn’t as well known as it could be. For more than a hundred years, University of Chicago professors across many disciplines have developed important, ongoing working relationships with the people, academic institutions, and government of Mexico. As a result, the Special Collections Research Center has developed collections of fascinating documents and artifacts that have been donated by professors over the years.

Howard Taylor Ricketts, Mexico City, 1910

Howard Taylor Ricketts, Mexico City, 1910

For many scholars, Mexico afforded opportunities and adventures—particularly for researchers in the field—that were unavailable elsewhere. Telling the personal stories of these researchers and scholars highlights how passionate, interesting, and dramatic the life of the mind can be. Howard Taylor Ricketts’s tragic story, for example, demonstrates how this work can be both crucially important and dangerous. Invited by the Mexican government in 1909 to research the cause of a typhus outbreak in Mexico City, Ricketts worked with Mexican doctors, nurses, and government officials to confirm the source of the problem. He succeeded, but not before he contracted a fatal case of typhus. We included the funeral ribbon placed on his coffin by the Mexican government to show how his sacrifice was recognized.

Were some of the faculty members featured in the exhibition important to your development as a graduate student?

Curating this exhibition was a way of connecting my own work back to that of my predecessors and highlighting the tradition of Mexican scholarship at the University. For example, Friedrich Katz, whose papers are part of the exhibition, was my mentor when I first entered the History Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago. When I knew him, near the end of his life, he was a world-renowned and well-respected scholar of the Mexican revolution, but as I sorted through the unprocessed boxes that contained his papers, I was fascinated to discover correspondence detailing his struggle, as an ambitious academic, to leave East Germany. He finally found a home at the University of Chicago, where he could pursue scholarship without the threat of anti-Semitism and censorship. After the publication of his biography of Pancho Villa in 1998, Katz was named an honorary citizen of the state of Chihuahua and awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle by the Mexican government.

How is the exhibition connected to your dissertation research?

In my research, which is focused on foreign archaeologists battling with Mexican government officials at the turn of the 20th century, I explore how scholastic ideas develop and travel among scholars informally before transitioning to more formal discourse and then finally to publication. I trace these ideas through the discussions, friendships, and rivalries that scholars have had with each other and with government officials. That has made me particularly attuned to the idea of scholarship as a dynamic process, inflected by personal relationships and private lives, and academic discourse as something that has to be actively constructed.

Redfield family

Redfield family in Mexico, 1929

In keeping with this interest, many of the items selected for this show represent the research process rather than final publications. One of the goals of the exhibition is to give the public a glimpse of scholarship in action and to present it as a living process. The papers and artifacts created by these professors during the course of their field work give us access to their reflections and preparations in various phases of their work. In the exhibition, we’ve aimed to capture these thinkers in mid-thought, before their final conclusions have been drawn, and to present their intellectual achievements as emerging from a process of engagement with the raw materials of their research. Research notes, correspondence, and diaries give a more intimate, nuanced portrayal of each scholar’s development and place their intellectual work in a fuller context.

For example, the letters from the anthropologist Robert Redfield to his wife, Margaret Park Redfield, interweave thoughts about his work in Chichen Itza in 1932 with family concerns and show how important his wife’s role as confidant and sounding board was as he began to develop his scholastic plans in an informal way.

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

I was delighted when Kathleen Feeney, Head of Archives Processing and Digital Access in Special Collections, invited me to co-curate the exhibition with her. Kathleen knew that I was already familiar with many of the relevant collections, both because of the research I had conducted for my dissertation and because of the work I had done there as a graduate student archives processing assistant in Special Collections. One of the things that drew me to study history was the excitement of working directly with documents and artifacts in archives. Curating this exhibition with Kathleen, I knew, would give me a chance to share some of my favorite items and the stories that went with them, as well as my passion for the materials and the mission of Special Collections.

Which are your favorites?

The Frederick Starr notebooks, the corridos in the Robert Redfield papers and the lantern slides in the Adolf Carl Noé papers. These, along with the diaries, linguistic note cards, letters, and portraits in some of the other collections, tell a larger story about the freedom of investigation that University of Chicago scholars have consistently found in Mexico.

Chiapas animals and index card

Toy animals used to identify indigenous words, circa 1950s

Did you make any new discoveries as you curated the exhibition?

Curating Researching Mexico brought home for me how important it is for today’s scholars to be able to work directly with archives and original artifacts associated with their predecessors. Many of the most interesting items on display were only discovered in the process of preparing for the exhibit, by methodically investigating the Special Collections holdings.

For example, we were surprised to uncover the collection of toy animals that now forms one of the exhibition’s most unusual displays. In their field work, the linguists in the Chiapas Project asked native indigenous language speakers to identify these toy animals in their own languages. Finding the animals and the lists of translations not only delighted us but helped us to understand the process that the researchers used to collect words one at a time, finally gathering enough materials for textbooks in Tzeltal, Yucatec, and Quiche.

In bringing unseen materials like these to the public eye, we want to hint at the unexpected connections and discoveries that can be made through archival research and encourage students and scholars to examine primary sources in archives for themselves. Finding these little-known stories can be a thrilling experience, and preserving and sharing them with other scholars, academics, students, and the public is an important part of the work of the University.

Past, Present, Future: The Evolution of Medicine at the University of Chicago’s Hospitals – new web exhibit

nurse photofile image A web version is now available of the Crerar Library exhibit: Past, Present, Future: The Evolution of Medicine at the University of Chicago’s Hospitals.  This is a online archive of an exhibit that was shown in the Crerar atrium glass cases in 2011-2012.

Exhibit Description: A hospital and medical school at the University of Chicago were envisioned by the university founders.  That plan, initiated with a joint medical program with Rush Medical College, was followed by the development of the world-class University of Chicago Medical Center on campus.  This exhibit provides an overview of the history and evolution of the medical school program, the hospital facilities and their technology, and medical partnerships with other Chicago area hospitals.

Researching Mexico: University of Chicago Field Explorations in Mexico, 1896-2014

Exhibition Location: Special Collections Research Center, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL
Exhibition Dates: June 30, 2014 – October 4, 2014
Associated Web Exhibit: lib.uchicago.edu/e/webexhibits/researchingmexico

Brent Berlin with informant

Brent Berlin with informant, photograph, undated. Norman McQuown. Papers. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

University of Chicago scholars have traveled to Mexico since the late 19th century, pursuing research subjects ranging from archival investigation of revolutionary leaders, to documentation of indigenous communities and languages, to the search for the cause of a deadly strain of typhus.

Drawn from the holdings of the Special Collections Research Center, including the papers of Friedrich Katz, Robert Redfield, Norman McQuown, Manning Nash, Howard T. Ricketts, Sol Tax, Frederick Starr, and others, this exhibit presents correspondence, diaries, photographs, sketches, recordings and objects generated and collected by these scholars in the field, as well as holdings from the Rare Books and Manuscripts collections that continue to support study of Mexican history and culture.

Presented in conjunction with the University of Chicago’s Katz Center for Mexican Studies, this exhibition will mark the meeting in Chicago of the XIV Reunión Internacional de Historiadores de México from September 18-21, 2014.

Curators: Seonaid Valiant and Kathleen Feeney

Exhibition Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-4:45 p.m.; Saturdays: 9:00 a.m.-12:45 p.m. when University of Chicago classes are in session.

 

 

Investigando México: Estudios de Campo en México realizados por la Universidad de Chicago, 1896-2014

Corrido broadsheet

Corridos, broadsheets collected in Mexico, circa 1920s. Robert Redfield. Papers. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Galería de Exhibición, Centro de Investigación de Colecciones Especiales
Junio 30, 2014-Octubre 4, 2014

Docentes de la Universidad de Chicago han viajado a México desde finales del siglo XIX, buscando temas de investigación que involucran desde los archivos de líderes revolucionarios, documentación sobre comunidades y lenguas indígenas, hasta el origen de una cepa mortal de tifo. Derivada del material reservado en el Centro de Investigación de Colecciones Especiales, incluyendo documentos de Friedrich Katz, Robert Redfield, Norman McQuown, Manning Nash, Howard T. Ricketts, Sol Tax, Frederick Starr, entre otros, esta exhibición expone correspondencia, diarios, fotografías, apuntes, grabaciones y objetos generados y reunidos por estos académicos en su campo de estudio, así como también material proveniente de la colección de Libros y Manuscritos Especializados, mismos que continúan apoyando el estudio de la historia y cultura mexicana.   

Esta exhibición, presentada conjuntamente con el Centro Katz de Estudios Mexicanos de la Universidad de Chicago, marcará el inicio en Chicago de la XIV Reunión Internacional de Historiadores de México, que se llevará a cabo del 18 al 21 de septiembre de 2014.

Curadores: Seonaid Valiant and Kathleen Feeney

Exposición abierta: Lunes-Viernes, 9:00 a.m.-4:45 p.m.; Sabado: 9:00 a.m.-12:45 p.m. cuando las clases de la University of Chicago están en session

Use of Images

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.  Email Rachel Rosenberg (phone: 773-834-1519) or Joseph Scott (phone: 773-702-6655)  to request high-resolution images.

Para información o preguntas en español, dirijase al Centro Katz al: 773-834-1987 o mexicanstudies@uchicago.edu.

Pottery, Circa 1900. Frederick Starr. Papers.

Pottery, photograph, circa 1900. Frederick Starr. Papers. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

doctors and nurses in Typhus Ward

Doctors and nurses in Typhus Ward, Hospital Generale, Mexico City, photograph, circa 1910. Howard Taylor Ricketts. Papers. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Redfield family in Mexico

Redfield family in Mexico, photograph, August 1929. Robert Redfield. Papers. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Chart from Totanac Literacy Project

Chart from Totonac Literacy Project, circa 1939. Norman McQuown. Papers. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

The Life and Times of Pancho Villa cover

Friedrich Katz, “The Life and Times of Pancho Villa.” Stanford University Press: Stanford. 1998.

Peñafiel facade

Antonio Peñafiel (1830-1922),
“Monumentos del Art Mexicana Antiguo…”
Berlin: A. Asher & Co. 1890. Rare Book Collection. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.