New Acquisitions

Courses inspire student to collect, donate rare books to UChicago Library

Bob Connors with his books

Bob Connors, a retired tax attorney and Graham School student, recently donated his collection of nearly 600 rare books to the University of Chicago Library. (Photo by Robert Kozloff)

Graham School sparks 70-year-old Bob Connors’ quest to find works dating to 15th century

Bob Connors flips open the heavy leather covers, thumbing past yellowed, worm-holed pages more than five centuries old. A few feet behind him, boxes pile up along the wall.

This collection of rare books started with a simple idea. As a student at the University of Chicago Graham School, Connors was reading texts considered the bedrock of Western Civilization. Why not find the oldest copies he could get his hands on?

An open book

The oldest book in Connors’ collection is a 1475 edition of Augustine’s Confessions, printed in Milan by Johannes Bonus. This incunable title is notable for its unusual text type, light and delicate. (Photo by Jean Lachat)

What began as a hobby for the retired tax attorney grew into a years-long odyssey—one that sent him down a rabbit hole of auctions and book dealers. Inspired by his studies, the collection of nearly 600 books is remarkable in both breadth and depth: rare editions of famous authors like James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald; oversized 15th- and 16th-century volumes with original oak covers and brass clasps; and the oldest of the lot, a 1475 copy of Augustine’s Confessions.

Connors is now 70 years old. Last October, he was diagnosed with cancer. He began to think: Of all his possessions, there was one set in particular worth preserving.

“I had all these books that I collected and I valued,” said Connors, sitting in his suburban Oak Park home. “And I guess part of it is, at this point, I’m into legacy. What will be left behind? And I knew that if I didn’t do something with these books, they would be thrown out. And I couldn’t let that happen.”

He decided to donate them to UChicago Library’s Special Collections Research Center, where they now live as the Robert S. Connors Basic Program Collection.

The name is a nod to the curriculum that nurtured in Connors a fascination with the history of the printed word. Since 1946, the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies has offered the Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults to encourage reading and engaging with the “Great Books.” One proponent of this approach was former UChicago President Robert Maynard Hutchins, who argued that it kept one’s “intelligence on the stretch.”

“Great books teach people not only how to read them,” he wrote in 1952, “but also how to read all other books.”

An irreplaceable collection

Elizabeth Frengel, the curator of rare books at the University of Chicago Library, had expected a small collection, perhaps around two dozen books.

The dolphin-and-anchor printer's device in a book held by Connors

Bob Connors holds one of his many Aldines—books printed by Aldus Manutius’ 16th-century press. Known for producing smaller, more accessible books, Manutius adopted a distinctive dolphin-and-anchor printer’s device. (Robert Kozloff for the University of Chicago)

When they first met, Connors brought with him copies of classic British literature such as Thomas Hardy and George Eliot, enough to reveal he had “a good eye as a collector.” Then he and Frengel started talking about the Aldine Press, an early 16th-century publisher that printed smaller, portable books that were more feasible for students and scholars to acquire. The ready accessibility of these books transformed the nature of reading—and, many argue, extended the reach of the Renaissance.

“As a group, it’s irreplaceable,” said Frengel, who oversees the University’s approximately 340,000 volumes dating back to the 15th century. “If we weren’t able to make this collection available to researchers, that would be a sad loss. You couldn’t easily recapture that sort of scholarly value.”

The donation included 11 “incunabula.” Taken from the Latin word for “swaddling clothes,” the term denotes books published in Europe between 1455 and 1501. These works, along with some 16th-century publications, illuminate the history of printing and provide insight into the evolution of the book as a material and technical object.

“The books are not going to be things that sit on a shelf and nobody really uses,” said Fred Beuttler, a Graham School associate dean who was one of the first UChicago employees to see Connors’ collection. “We’re going to make them accessible to faculty and graduate students.”

On April 9, the University will recognize Connors in a ceremony, joined by his family and members of the UChicago community.

‘More fun than golf’

The books’ new home represents a fitting coda to Connors’ journey. While working downtown in the early 1980s, he called the University of Chicago on a whim and asked about part-time course offerings.

“It was the leading university in area,” Connors said. “If I was gonna be taking classes, I might as well take it from the best.”

Whoever picked up the phone pointed him to the Graham School’s Basic Program. On the first day of class, Connors found out that he was entering the first part of a four-year sequence. His relationship with the Graham School would last even longer.

Connors received a certificate from the Basic Program in 1985, but the classes wore on him. A new job had taken him an hour north of downtown Chicago, and the evening commute back into the city left him struggling to stay awake during discussions.

So he took a break, focusing on his career until he approached retirement. He enrolled again in 2006, signing up for a course on the Roman historian Tacitus. The discussion-based nature of the classes, he said, prompted him to read more closely than he ever would on his own. Along the way, he picked up an interest in collecting.

“Something I thought would be more fun than golf, I guess,” he said.

Connors’ love for books has always been clear. Meggie, the younger of his two daughters, still remembers their nightly reading sessions—a few pages of Little House on the Prairie, or a chapter of Little Women. She doesn’t consider herself a history buff, but her father’s occasional spiels about his collection revealed his passion.

“He really latches on to information,” she said. “Especially with these books, he could remember every single detail about them.”

That impulse hasn’t waned. Even now, Connors hopes not only to continue his studies, but to keep searching for books to acquire.

Frengel understands the urge. Many of Connors’ oldest books contain hand-written notes in the margins, unique to each of their previous owners.

A manicule in a book's margin

Drawn in book margins by hand, manicules were popular among Renaissance readers as a way to mark important passages of text. (Photo by Jean Lachat)

“Collecting these kinds of books give you perhaps a more insightful understanding of how culture is transmitted—how our cultural myths, our stories, our histories are passed down to us,” she said. “You can probably access almost all of these texts online for nothing, because they’re not copyrighted. But the material object puts you in touch with that history in an entirely new way.”

Connors has compared his books to an art collection—better shared than hidden away. Though he has read translations of many, there are several that he appreciates simply as historical artifacts. They would serve little purpose locked up in someone’s basement.

“They’ve been around for a long time,” Connors said. “I’m hoping they’ll be around for a good long time further when they’re cared for by the University Library. They really belong there.”

A University of Chicago news story

Robert G. Schloerb Honorary Exhibit

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, Illinois
Dates: March 5–31, 2019

“I recently had that feeling of power in a man who was working for peace. He has been maligned many times. He has been called a dreamer. His methods of striving for peace may not be right, but he works with a faith that God is working for peace. He believes that selfishness and national greed and hatred are ultimately self-defeating. The universe is against such policies. So, although he suffers and is rejected, he retains power and poise.”

Rolland W. Schloerb, God in Our Lives (New York; London: Harper & Brothers, 1938), 114.

Ten books have been added to the Religion Collection at the University of Chicago Library in honor of trustee emeritus Robert G. Schloerb (JD, ’51) on the occasion of his 95th birthday (March 5, 2019). An exhibit to commemorate Mr. Schloerb is on display in the Fourth Floor Reading Room of the Regenstein Library during March. Patrons will be able to peruse or check out the books added in Mr. Schloerb’s honor. Anne K. Knafl, Bibliographer for Religion, Philosophy, and Jewish Studies, selected these titles to reflect Mr. Schloerb’s exceptional support of the Divinity School, especially its Ministry Program. The books reflect the broad interdenominational and global breadth of the Ministry Program and its commitment to integrating academic rigor and public discourse.

Bookplate in honor of trustee emeritus Robert G. Schloerb

Bookplate in honor of trustee emeritus Robert G. Schloerb

Robert Schloerb and Mary Schloerb have a longstanding partnership with the University and the Divinity School, including decades of generosity and service. Through a generous gift, they created the Rolland Walter Schloerb Ministry Fellowship, in honor of Robert’s father, to support ministry students at the Divinity School. Rolland W. Schloerb (quoted above) served as pastor of Hyde Park Baptist Church, now Hyde Park Union Church, from 1928 until his death in 1958. Sara Lytle, the current recipient of the Schloerb Ministry Fellowship, studies Buddhist studies and pastoral care, with particular interests in gender/sexuality, mental health, and death/dying. In addition, Robert and Mary Schloerb contribute to the Divinity School’s Annual Fund and the Baptist Theological Union International Ministry Fellowship. This fellowship supports travel for two Divinity Students, annually. Recent recipient Jair Pinedo traveled to Mexico, where he examined issues of immigration and migration, specifically as relates to children in migrant families. Co-winner Yitzhak Bronstein, studied intentional communities in Israel and how these communities transform the societies they inhabit.

Robert and Mary Schloerb have supported initiatives in the Biological Sciences, the Hospitals, the Law School, the Library, and the Oriental Institute. Robert Schloerb served on the University’s Board of Trustees from 1983 to 1994, and currently is a trustee emeritus. He is a current member of the Baptist Theological Union Board. His and Mary’s youngest son John serves as the current Vice President of the BTU Board. Robert Schloerb is also a life member of the Library Council, Oriental Institute Council, Divinity School Council and Medical Center Council. Mary Schloerb is a current member of the University of Chicago Medical Center’s Chicago Lying-In Board. She has served on the Women’s Board and Oriental Institute Council.

We thank Mr. Schloerb and his family for their continued commitment to the University of Chicago community. These books represent that ongoing commitment as they too will support current and future Divinity School students.

Archives of two giants of economics

Gifts of the papers of George Stigler and Harry G. Johnson will expand our understanding of economics at Chicago

George Stigler in front of Rosenwald Hall and a headshot of Harry Johnson

George Stigler (left) and Harry G. Johnson (right). Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

The University of Chicago is world renowned for the “Chicago School of Economics” and the 30 Nobel laureates in economic sciences who have been UChicago faculty members, students, or researchers. Yet, among historians of economics, definitions of the “Chicago School” continue to be debated.  Three recent gifts to the University of Chicago Library—the papers of Nobel laureate George Stigler, PhD’38, the papers of international trade expert Harry G. Johnson, and funding to organize the Johnson papers and create an online finding aid—will expand scholars’ understanding of the many ways Chicago has shaped the field of economics.

The University of Chicago Library is home to collections of more than 30 economists and 21 Nobel laureates, including seven Nobel Prize-winning economists:  Gary Becker, Ronald Coase, Robert Fogel, Milton Friedman, Merton Miller, Theodore Schultz, and George Stigler.   “These three generous new gifts will enable scholars to explore the history of economics in new ways,” said Brenda Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian.  “They strengthen our University Archives and demonstrate the Library’s ongoing commitment to being a vital center of University of Chicago history and the home of Nobel Prize winners’ research.”

Nobel laureate George Stigler’s papers

Draft of Nobel Prize speech, "The Process and Progress of Economics" with edits

Draft of Nobel Prize speech, with black handwritten edits by George Stigler and red printing by Stephen Stigler, November 29, 1982. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Frequently thought of as one of the leaders of the “Chicago School,” George Stigler came to the University of Chicago as a graduate student in 1933, received his PhD in 1938 and returned to Chicago as a professor from 1958 until his death in 1991.  He was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences “for his seminal studies of industrial structures, functioning of markets and causes and effects of public regulation” and was hailed by the Journal of Law and Economics as “a towering figure in the history of law and economics” and the first to win a Nobel Prize for work in the field.

Stigler is widely known for developing the “Economic Theory of Regulation,” which argues that political and economic interest groups use the coercive and regulatory powers of government to shape laws and regulations that benefit them.  He also shaped the education of a generation of undergraduates as the author of The Theory of Price, a textbook on free market economics that places its subject in historical context.  He initiated the study of the economics of information as a field, arguing that knowledge is costly to acquire and that consumers and businesses therefore must make decisions about how much information to acquire, as they do with goods and services.

Handwritten letter from Milton Friedman to George Stigler

Letter from Milton Friedman to George Stigler, August 23, 1946. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

George Stigler’s son Stephen M. Stigler also became a faculty member at University of Chicago.  Currently the Ernest DeWitt Burton Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Statistics and the College and member of the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, Stephen donated his father’s papers to the University of Chicago Library, where they are available for research in the Special Collections Research Center.  A long-time supporter of the Library, chair of the faculty Board of the Library from 1986 to 1989, and chair of the University of Chicago Library Society from 2011 to 2014, Stephen said the papers clearly belonged here: “I never had a thought that they’d go anywhere else because the University of Chicago was such an important part of my father’s life.”

The papers include 70 linear feet of research and teaching materials, correspondence with economists such as Milton Friedman, photographs, and ephemera. Stephen Stigler anticipates that scholars may be particularly interested in some of the short, unpublished pieces that explore economic issues and, in some cases, politics.  “He was very interested in politics—not politics as something to push forward, but he thought when people voted a certain way or acted a certain way politically, they were furthering their own interests, and that’s not always obvious from what they did,” Stephen explained.  “People sometimes do what could at first glance look foolish, and you wonder why they did it, but if you study it enough, you can find that there is a rational story you can tell to explain what they’re doing.  You learn a lot about human behavior in the process.”

International trade expert Harry G. Johnson’s papers

Harry Johnson with others seated around a table with plates and cups

Harry G. Johnson (second from left). Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

A contemporary of George Stigler’s, Harry G. Johnson came to the University of Chicago in 1959, holding the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professorship in the economics department from 1969 until his death in 1977. He was extraordinarily prolific, writing 19 books and 500 scholarly papers and editing 24 volumes before his early death due to a stroke at age 53.  Focusing primarily on international economics and economic theory, he played a leading role in the development of the Heckscher-Ohlin model of international trade.  He was known for articulating the connections between the ideas of major postwar economic innovators and, according to biographer D. E. Moggridge, defined the vital issues that “set the profession’s agenda for a generation.”  An influential editor of the Review of Economic Studies, the Journal of Political Economy, the Manchester School, and Economica, Johnson was considered so important to the field that Nobel laureate James Tobin called the third quarter of the 20th century “the age of Johnson.”

A large group of people standing on a staircase, including Harry G. Johnson

Attendees at the International Economic Association South-East Asia Refresher Course in Economics, Singapore July – September 1956, Nanyang Siang Pau Photo Graphic Department. Harry Johnson (first row, far right). Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Professor Johnson’s papers were donated to the University of Chicago Library by his children, Karen Johnson and Ragnar Johnson.  The 100 linear feet of materials include research and teaching papers, correspondence, and photographs. An additional gift, from David Levy, AM’70, PhD’79, will support the in-depth work of organizing the papers into an archival collection that will be ready for research. Additionally, an online finding aid, or guide, to the organized papers will provide a clear understanding of the contents of the collection.  “The power of the University Archives can’t be fully appreciated without finding aids,” said David Levy, a professor at George Mason University specializing in economics and the history of economic thought.

Professor Levy recalls his UChicago graduate school days enthusiastically. George Stigler served as the chair of his thesis committee, and Johnson acted as an additional reader.  “Every time I would talk to Harry, he would remind me that his first article was on David Ricardo, and my dissertation was on David Ricardo,” he said. Levy was particularly proud when, after a painful meeting with the committee, Johnson showed confidence in him by citing a paper he wrote in The Two-Sector Model of General Equilibrium.

Folded newspaper showing article on "The consequences of Keynes" on top of folder

Harry G. Johnson, “The Consequences of Keynes,” Times Literary Supplement, February 7, 1975. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Levy expects his gift will help future scholars better understand Johnson and his impact.  “Harry is one of the most important teachers at Chicago, but he’s not considered ‘Chicago School,’ which is actually sort of a problem for the history of ideas.  He’s not noted for free market advocacy,” Levy said. “Harry helped make the distinction between Keynes and Keynesians. He would combat myths wherever he saw them.  From my point of view, that’s his greatest contribution.”

A conference on “The Legacy of Chicago Economics” held at the University of Chicago in 2015 made it clear that the common perception of the “so-called Chicago School” has changed over time. At its origins in the 1930s, economics at the University of Chicago was not focused on promoting a single point of view or ideology, but rather about “finding an approach to studying economics.”  The gifts that make the archives of George Stigler and Harry G. Johnson part of the Library’s collections have the potential to change future researchers’ understandings of what the “Chicago School” was and how the University of Chicago—in the broadest sense—influences the future of economics.

Library receives medals, papers of Nobel laureate James Cronin

The University of Chicago Library has received the medals and academic papers of Nobel-winning physicist James Cronin, SM’53, PhD’55, the late UChicago scientist who made defining contributions to physics and astronomical observation.

James Cronin at chalkboard

James Cronin at the chalkboard. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Cronin’s children, Emily Cronin Grothe and Daniel Cronin, donated six medals that recognize his extraordinary achievements, including the 1980 Nobel Prize Medal for Physics and the 1999 National Medal of Science. His widow, Carol Cronin, donated his professional papers, including lab reports, articles, lectures, speeches, teaching materials, correspondence and other items.

The two gifts join archival collections at the Library’s Special Collections Research Center containing the papers or medals of 20 other Nobel laureates, including UChicago-associated physicists Niels Bohr, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Arthur H. Compton, Enrico Fermi, James Franck, Albert A. Michelson, Yoichiro Nambu and Eugene Wigner.

Nobel Prize medal in a gloved hand

James Cronin’s Nobel Prize Medal. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library. The Nobel Prize medal design mark is the registered trademark of the Nobel Foundation. (Photo by Jean Lachat)

“I am deeply grateful to the Cronin family for their invaluable gifts to the Library,” said Brenda Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian. “Making James Cronin’s papers and medals available to researchers and students not only helps us to understand the achievements of the past—it also fuels the rigorous inquiry of faculty and the transformative education we provide students. That is why the University of Chicago Library is committed to being the home of Nobel Prize winners’ research.”

Cronin earned his master’s degree and PhD in physics from UChicago in the 1950s. While conducting research in the 1960s at Brookhaven National Laboratory, he and colleague Val Fitch studied subatomic particles coming off collisions between protons and atom nuclei and found the first example of nature’s preference for matter over antimatter. It was the first observation of a mystery that had baffled scientists for decades, and the breakthrough would earn them the Nobel Prize in 1980.

This finding was later used to provide support for the Big Bang theory, explaining why the explosion would produce more matter than antimatter—leaving remnants that would eventually became stars, planets and human life.

Studying the origin of cosmic rays

Cronin joined the UChicago faculty in 1971 as University Professor of Physics. He soon shifted course to study the origin of cosmic rays: mysterious, highly energetic particles that strike the Earth from elsewhere in the cosmos. To search for them, he co-founded the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina—a massive international collaboration to build a system of giant water tanks spread over an area ten times the size of Paris. It took its first readings in 2005, and just last year discovered extragalactic origins for some of the cosmic rays that strike Earth.

James Cronin (left) with apparatus and colleagues

Photo of James Cronin (left) with apparatus and colleagues. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Cronin saw himself as part of a long lineage of UChicago physicists. In 2001, he organized a symposium marking the 100th anniversary of Fermi’s birth and edited the book Fermi Remembered. Published by the University of Chicago Press in 2004, it explored the enduring significance of Fermi’s work.

“In his first year as a graduate student at the University of Chicago, Cronin studied with Enrico Fermi and developed a great respect for him,” said Daniel Meyer, director of the Special Collections Research Center. “When he was working on the Fermi centennial and publication, Cronin came to Special Collections frequently to do his own research in the Fermi papers. He examined all of Fermi’s original laboratory notebooks and located key letters and documents from Fermi’s career.”

Emily Cronin Grothe, LAB’78, said the University of Chicago Library was the right home for her father’s medals and papers.

“Our family has a long history with the University of Chicago, with my grandfather, father, mother, uncle and daughter all receiving advanced degrees from the institution,” she said. “Given that, and how proud my father was to be associated with the University and its remarkable approach and achievements in science, my brother Dan and I never wavered in our commitment to house my father’s papers and medals with The Library.”

Selected medals, awards and honors of James W. Cronin, including (left to right) the 1976 Franklin Institute John Price Wetherill Medal, the 1977 United States Department of Energy Ernest Orlando Lawrence Memorial Award Medal, the 1999 National Medal of Science, the 1999 Collège de France Service Medal, the 1980 Nobel Prize Medal for Physics, and the 1999 French Légion d’Honneur Chevalier Medal. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library. Photo by Jean Lachat. The Nobel Prize medal design mark is the registered trademark of the Nobel Foundation.

Featured gifts to the Library

Art deco print by Edouard Benedictus

Edouard Benedictus. Nouvelles variations, soixante-quinze motifs décoratifs en vingt planches. Gift of Jerome V. Frazel, AB ’83, and Nancy H. Wilder in honor of Joanne K. Frazel and Frank and Margaret “Peg” Hickey

The University of Chicago Library greatly appreciates gifts of books, archives, manuscripts, photography, electronic media, and art that create invaluable research and learning opportunities for our scholarly community. In 2016-17, the Library was honored to receive donations in a wide range of fields that strengthen our collections. In addition to the notable John Maloof Collection of Vivian Maier, a selection of these rare and unique items include the following:

  • Edouard Benedictus. Nouvelles variations, soixante-quinze motifs décoratifs en vingt planches.  Paris: Aux Éditions Albert Lévy, Librairie Centrale des Beaux-Arts, [1928].  A set of 20 art deco prints of decorative motifs in the original portfolio.  Two were featured in the summer 2017 exhibition Art in the Stacks: Selections from Special Collections. Gift of Nancy H. Wilder and Jerome V. Frazel, AB ’83, in honor of Joanne K. Frazel and Frank and Margaret “Peg” Hickey
  • More than 100 volumes, mainly 16th- and 17th-century works from a personal research library on Renaissance history and culture. Gift of Michael Murrin, the Raymond and Martha Hilpert Gruner Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus
  • Sanskrit puranas; 160 volumes of traditional printed books; 18 boxed volumes of books printed in manuscript format, called pohti; 18 books in manuscript format wrapped in fabric, the traditional way of holding unbound texts together. Gift of Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions

    Cyrus Leroy Baldridge. Portrait of Caroline Singer Baldridge, ca. 1952. Oil on canvas. Gift of Michèle and Bronson Hall in memory of Frances and J. Parker Hall, Jr., PhB ’27, University of Chicago Treasurer, 1946-1969

  • The Lawrence Okrent Collection. Approximately 27,000 aerial photographs by Lawrence Okrent of Chicago and the surrounding region, dating from 1985 to 2015; approximately 5,500 (ground level) architectural photographs by Lawrence Okrent of significant sites and buildings in Chicago and the region, dating from 1968 to 2015; approximately 2,200 postcard images of Chicago subjects, dating from about 1910 to 1965; and approximately 700 corner cards: commercial envelopes with imprints of Chicago Business logos (including many with architectural content), dating from about 1880 to 1950. Almost all of the images in the collection are digital in origin, or have been digitized from the original film images. Gift of Lawrence Okrent
  • Historic collection of materials related to the Hall family, including a letter sweater and other student memorabilia of University of Chicago Treasurer James Parker Hall, Jr., PhB’27; historical monographs and fine arts books including La Fontaine and Lemarié, Fables, and Villon and Hubert, Oeuvres; and illustrated books by Cyrus Leroy Baldridge and Caroline Singer with a framed oil portrait of Singer by Baldridge. Gift of Michèle and Bronson Hall in memory of Frances and J. Parker Hall, Jr., PhB ’27, University of Chicago Treasurer, 1946-1969

We thank all of our donors who contributed special gifts last year.

University of Chicago Library receives vintage Vivian Maier prints

Nearly 500 photographs to be available for research at Special Collections

Photo by Vivian Maier

Photo by Vivian Maier. Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier. All rights reserved.

The University of Chicago Library has received a gift of nearly 500 photographic prints made by Vivian Maier, the master 20th-century street photographer known for her striking images of life in Chicago and New York City.

The prints, given to the University by collector and filmmaker John Maloof, will be preserved and made available for research purposes by the Library’s Special Collections Research Center. The new collection is comprised of vintage prints that have never been published or exhibited to the public, along with one of Maier’s cameras and some of her personal effects.

Photo by Vivian Maier

Photo by Vivian Maier. Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier. All rights reserved.

“This collection of prints will help researchers and students to understand Maier as a working photographer,” said Daniel Meyer, director of the Special Collections Research Center. “As a new discovery in 20th-century American photography, Vivian Maier’s work also offers fresh insights into the viewpoints and graphic styles of her contemporaries.”

The UChicago collection is the first of Maier’s work to be held by a research institution, allowing scholars to study her photography and creative process in the city that was her home.

Photo by Vivian Maier

Photo by Vivian Maier. Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier. All rights reserved.

Maier’s work became known to the public less than a decade ago. Maloof in 2008 found himself with a trove of more than 100,000 photographs after purchasing the contents of several of Maier’s storage lockers at auction. His investigation into Maier’s life and work was told in the Academy Award-nominated documentary Finding Vivian Maier, which Maloof co-wrote and co-directed.

Maier was born in New York City in 1926. She spent much of her early life traveling the world before finding a home in 1956 in Chicago, where she worked as a nanny to support her photography. It was only after her death in 2009 that Maier’s work was displayed in museums and galleries to widespread acclaim.

Photo by Vivian Maier. Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier. All rights reserved.

“Vivian Maier herself is unique as a photographer because of her personal story and the remarkable quality of her work,” said Brenda Johnson, Library director and University librarian at UChicago. “Seeing these prints will help viewers to step back into Maier’s time and place and to explore her perspective.”

Maloof donated the prints to the University to allow for researchers to better explore Maier’s printing process and understand how her work evolved. “There’s more here that she physically created with her hands—that can be studied—than has ever been open to the public,” Maloof said. “This is what made her tick, who she was as an artist.”

Maier’s work will join collections of a range of female photographers held by the UChicago Library, including photo-secessionist Eva Watson Schütze, documentary photographer Mildred Mead, anthropologist Joan Eggan and literary photographer Layle Silbert.

Photo by Vivian Maier

Photo by Vivian Maier. Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier. All rights reserved.

The prints in the Maier collection represent the range of subjects she captured from the 1950s to the 1980s. Included in the collections are images of recognizable political, religious and cultural figures, along with the intimate street portraits of anonymous men, women and children. The collection has images—often captured curbside—of John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Pope John Paul II, Eva Marie Saint and Frank Sinatra, among others. While past exhibitions of Maier’s work have typically featured large-format prints made from negatives by collectors, the UChicago holdings are comprised of prints made by Maier through commercial photo labs or in her own darkroom.

“A lot of the work in this collection has her process visible,” Maloof said. “She’s printing in different ways, she’s cropping in different ways, and you can see her hand in the process. You can study that, and I think that could be important for people to research.”

Photo by Vivian Maier

Photo by Vivian Maier. Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier. All rights reserved.

The Maier collection is currently being processed and is expected to be made available to researchers by the end of the year.

Maloof plans to donate additional photographs made by Maier to the UChicago Library.

Press Inquiries and Images

Note: The copyrights in the photography contained in this news release are owned by the Estate of Vivian Maier. The estate grants a limited, royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive license to media and press to reproduce the attached images in articles concerning Vivian Maier and/or John Maloof’s donation of vintage prints of Vivian Maier’s work to the University of Chicago. High-resolution versions of images may be used in connection with print versions of articles only. For electronic and online publications, the reproduced images may not exceed 1,500 pixels on the longest side and 72 dpi. Unauthorized reproduction, distribution or exhibition could result in liability under the Copyright Act.

Publication of these images requires use of this notice: “Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier.  All rights reserved.”

To obtain images and for other press inquiries:
Andrew Bauld, News Officer for Arts and Humanities
News Office
773-702-8378
Reserved for members of the media.

Photo by Vivian Maier

Photo by Vivian Maier. Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier. All rights reserved.

New online resource: Black Freedom Struggle in the Twentieth Century

Mississippi Subversion of the Right to Vote

Cover of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) pamphlet published in Atlanta, 1965

Researchers at the University of Chicago now have access to Black Freedom Struggle in the Twentieth Century, a collection of digital primary sources consisting of government documents, organizational records, and personal papers. The resource, which consists of four modules, includes major collections of civil rights records from the Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush presidencies; the Martin Luther King FBI file and FBI files on locations of major civil rights demonstrations; and the records of the American Committee on Africa (ACOA); Records of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Also included in the collection are the personal papers of Mary McLeod Bethune and Charles A. Barnett.

Global population data available

The LandScan 2015 Global Population Database is now available. Download the data directly from the library catalog by clicking the Full text online link.
Screenshot of LandScan 2015 Population Database

East View, the data publisher, provides this information about the updated database:

  • Adjusted population totals and distributions for Syria, Iraq and Ukraine to account for refugee and internally displaced persons movements as of June 2016
  • Results from Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s LandScan HD data, (developed at 3 arc-seconds) for certain national and regional areas
  • Output from Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s “Settlement Mapper Tool” (which rapidly delineates and characterizes settlements using high-resolution imagery)
  • Refined urban built-up areas
  • Thousands of additional smaller villages and populated places
  • Improved spatial precision and population distribution values

The library also has the LandScan 2007 Global Population Database.

For assistance or questions about accessing this or other spatial data through the University of Chicago Library, contact Resident Librarian for GIS Taylor Hixson (taylorhixson@uchicago.edu). More information about the library’s support for spatial data and GIS is available in the library’s research guide.

New Graduate Career Development Resources Collection

The Library is pleased to announce the opening of the new Graduate Career Development Resources Collection.  This new collection is a collaboration between UChicagoGRAD and the Library and is made possible through the generous support of Danette (Dani) Gentile Kauffman, who works with UChicagoGRAD to provide career workshops, and Diane Adams, a member of the Visiting Committee to the Library.

Career Development booksThe collection is designed to support graduate students in all disciplines, and is located on shelving adjacent to the Ask a Librarian desk on the first floor of the Regenstein Library.  Look for the sign identifying the collection as well as a placard with a listing of services that UChicagoGRAD provides.  Current titles can also be browsed via our catalog.  Additional titles are still being added.

Please contact Andrea Twiss-Brooks with questions about the Graduate Career Development Resources Collection.

For more on career resources available, see our Career Research guide.

Celebrate the launch of the Uncommon Fund Young Adult Fiction Collection

Celebrate the formal launch of the Uncommon Fund Young Adult Fiction Collection on March 10th from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. in Regenstein Library, Room 122. Refreshments will be served.

Photo of Uncommon Fund Exhibit

Some of the book purchased via the Uncommon Fund Young Adult Fiction Collection. Photo by Rebecca Starkey.

The Young Adult Fiction Collection was funded in 2015 by the Uncommon Fund, which granted $10,000 to create a young adult fiction section for the Library.  Maya Handa, the College student whose application was successful in the competitive selection process, organized the book selection process.

Maya will display selections at the event, and will accept further recommendations for the collection. You may also recommend books using Maya’s GoogleDocs form. Questions about the collection or the event may be directed to mayahanda@uchicago.edu.

For a preview of some of the items from the collection, visit Maya’s display of book covers in the exhibit case located near the Dissertation Office on the 1st floor of Regenstein Library.

The Uncommon Fund is allocated by Student Government to support creative and interesting student projects or initiatives on campus. Its goal is to encourage students to take action on campus in creative and unique ways. Past projects supported by the Uncommon Fund involving the Library include a scholarly symposium on medieval art and a student-focused opening event for the exhibition On the Edge: Medieval Margins and the Margins of Academic Life in 2012, installation of a hot water dispenser in Regenstein in January 2014, and free distribution of print copies of the Chicago Tribune in Regenstein in autumn 2014.

The reception’s refreshments are being provided courtesy of the Uncommon Fund.

Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate in this event should contact Rebecca Starkey at rstarkey@uchicago.edu or 773-702-4484 for assistance.