New Acquisitions

Special Collections Research Center acquires comic artist R. Crumb’s Jazz Trading Cards

The Special Collections Research Center has acquired a second printing copy of artist R. Crumb’s “Early Jazz Greats” trading cards, first printed in 1982 for Yazoo Records.  The set includes 36 cards featuring original images by Crumb and short biographies of early Jazz musicians, including both household names and relative unknowns.  Crumb’s love of early Jazz music comes through in his artwork, often reproduced from black and white photographs of the period.  The set includes a number of musicians with ties to Chicago like Benny Goodman, Roy Palmer and Junie C. Cobb.  Crumb followed this set with “Heroes of the Blues” and “Pioneers of Country Music”, and the set joins a number of works by Crumb in the Special Collections Research Center.

Cover of Early Jazz Greats

Benny Goodman Trading CardRoy Palmer

Eastern Hemisphere maps donated by Nokia-Siemens to Chicago, Northwestern libraries

Nokia-Siemens Networks of Arlington Heights, Illinois, has donated an extraordinary set of approximately 24,200 sheet maps to the University of Chicago Library. The maps were selected from a larger collection as part of a collaboration with Northwestern University.

Carte d'Algérie 1:25 000

Carte d’Algérie 1:25 000. A small fragment of one sheet in this multi-sheet set now held at the University of Chicago Library.

The maps are nearly all topographic maps. They show buildings and settlements, infrastructure, vegetation, hydrography, relief and, in some cases, land use. Scales range from 1:5,000 to 1:500,000. The maps date from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Many of the maps are from countries where topographic mapping is normally restricted. The collection includes, for example, local 1:50,000 maps of much of Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, and South Korea, and Soviet 1:50,000 maps of all or part of Poland, Greece, and Turkey. Even beyond the likely cost, it would be essentially impossible to recreate this collection by purchases.

The maps were originally used mostly to site cellphone towers. They were collected by Motorola before its acquisition by Nokia-Siemens Networks. According to Malcolm Matthews of Nokia-Siemens, the company began to use satellite imagery and GIS in the late 1990s rather than sheet maps. A decision was made in 2012 to offer the maps to local research libraries.

The collection is being shared with Northwestern University, with each institution receiving maps that are most appropriate for its collection. Northwestern has taken most of the maps of sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, and the University of Chicago Map Collection has taken most of the maps of North Africa and the Middle East, Europe, the former Soviet states, and South, Southeast, and East Asia.

With this donation, the University of Chicago Library Map Collection’s holdings of sheet maps will likely reach 460,000.  Our Map Collection has been adding approximately 2,500 sheets per year over the last decade, so taking on more than 24,000 sheets at one time represents a substantial addition. A major shift to accommodate the new maps was necessary. Its chief component was the compression of U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps to create space in the Eastern Hemisphere cases. More than 300,000 maps have been moved in the last two months.

Processing the maps is also a major task that is currently underway. It will take several months to process the maps. In the meantime, there is a rough list of acquisitions and the maps can be accessed. Researchers who need to consult this list and to access the new maps should contact me at

As the maps are being processed, they have already found a University of Chicago user. One of the Map Collection’s student employees is writing a bachelor’s essay on Amman and is consulting a 16-sheet set of excellent 1:10,000 maps of Amman in the 1980s and 1990s. This set of maps is not held by any other library and is not for sale in Jordan.  This project suggests just the beginning of the enormous research potential the maps offer to University of Chicago faculty and students. 

Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries Online and Armed Conflict Database

The Library Society has recently funded the Library’s purchase of two new databases that have broad applications for research and study across disciplines and regions: Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries Online and Armed Conflict Database.  Each can be accessed through Lens, the Database Finder or from links on a variety of Library Guides.

Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries Online
Edited by Alexander Lubotsky

The Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries Online reconstructs the lexicon for the most important languages and language branches of Indo-European. It is a rich and voluminous online reference source for historical and general linguists. Dictionaries can be cross-searched, with an advance search for each individual dictionary enabling the user to perform more complex research queries. Each entry is accompanied by grammatical information, meanings, etymological commentary, reconstructions, cognates and often extensive bibliographical information. New content will be added on an annual basis.

The online edition includes etymological dictionaries of Latin, Greek, Slavic, Proto-Celtic, Old-Frisian, Armenian, Hittite, Luvian, the Iranian Verb, and Proto-Nostratic. Etymological dictionaries of Proto-Germanic and Persian are forthcoming. 

Armed Conflict Database

Map of armed conflicts

In order to keep up to date on conflict-related matters around the world, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has produced the Armed Conflict Database. It is a project that aims to provide an interactive and user-friendly source of information on armed conflicts worldwide.

As with the IISS Chart of Armed Conflict, the database seeks to cover international and internal conflicts, as well as terrorism. It provides information on 70 armed conflicts, including terrorism, refugees and returnees, Internally Displaced Persons, weapons used, fatalities, historical backgrounds, annual updates and timelines.

With the Armed Conflict Database, users can generate reports and download data as well as browse through year-by-year analyses and fact sheets online. Users are able to generate reports on conflict data back to 1997 and correlate reports from various years, conflicts, regions and topics. The database includes conflict reports from 2000-2001 onwards.

New Library videogame collection

As emerging disciplines develop at the University of Chicago, the Library creates new collections and services to support them. Recent examples in the humanities include the addition of zines and poetry chapbooks made in Chicago, the expansion of the graphic novel collections, and most recently, a new collection of videogames that responds to faculty and student research needs


Adventure (Atari VCS, 1979, Atari Inc.)

This new collection of videogames, which will soon be available for checkout from the Mansueto Library, establishes a core teaching collection for faculty and students working on transmedia, new media or comparative media studies, as well as reflecting an emerging research interest on campus in game programming, the sociology of games, videogame music, and other areas that touch on videogames, gaming and gamers. As interest develops, the collection will continue to be shaped by research and disciplinary needs as well as budgetary considerations.

The formation of the videogame collection has offered the opportunity for an exciting collaboration between the new Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts and the Library. The Logan Digital Media Center (DMC) has agreed, as part of its mission to make equipment and facilities available to University of Chicago students, staff, and faculty for artistic creation and teaching, by keeping game consoles in its Equipment Cage. They may be borrowed from the DMC according to their policies.

To retrieve videogames from Mansueto Library for checkout, Library users can locate the desired game title in the Catalog or Lens and place a retrieval request as they would for any other item in Mansueto. 

Videogame collection supports scholarly study

After several months of fascinating discussion about emerging interest in the academic study of videogames, I am overjoyed that the University of Chicago Library has acquired its first videogame collection, and that these games will soon be available for borrowing from the Mansueto Library. Why, some might ask, should a university library add videogames to its holdings? Moreover, why is the popular digital game form important? And, finally, what might the University of Chicago community gain from this new collection?

VideogameThere are many ways to approach these questions. I’ll offer just a few responses. Digital games are one of the major entertainment and art forms of the late 20th and early 21st century. Taking into account the combined growth of console, personal computer, portable, and online games, estimates suggest that games are a roughly $60 billion a year industry and some estimates suggest that they’re poised to reach $70 billion a year by 2015. In 2011, there were approximately 183 million active gamers in the United States who played digital games an average of 13 hours a week. According to the Entertainment Software Association, the average American gamer in 2010 was 37 years old, and 42% of all game players were women.

These averages are suggestive but some games inspire even more extreme forms of spending and gameplay. For example, in late 2010, the game Call of Duty: Black Ops earned $650 million in worldwide sales in just five days — a huge yield even by comparison to the top-grossing film in a comparable five-day time span, The Dark Knight, which earned about $200 million. Perhaps the more startling fact, reported by Black Ops creator Activision, was that the over 20 million early adopters of the game logged more than 600 million hours of collective gameplay in the first 45 days after release — a play time that adds up to an astonishing 68,000 years.

That videogames are extremely profitable and a popular form of entertainment that touches millions of people in the early 21st century suggests that they are and will continue to be of interest to social science fields such as psychology, economics, anthropology, and education. However, these reasons alone perhaps do not offer a compelling enough reason for assembling a historical collection of videogames at a top university library.

Art videogameYet the games themselves, I would argue, are equally important and worthy of study as the activity that they inspire. In recent years, the humanities and social sciences have started attending increasingly to the historical, technological, and artistic properties of videogames. There are many ongoing debates among scholars and game designers about which properties of digital games derive from other forms, including novels, films, theater, and sports contests. There are discussions about which components of digital games — interactivity, networked communities, hypermediated interfaces, and so on — make them unique. Cultural studies has also raised critical questions about the ways in which race, gender, class, and sexuality are represented (or often go underrepresented or misrepresented) in popular games, as well as the ways in which players negotiate these categories during play. Increasingly, the overarching question of “Why should we study videogames?” is yielding to more refined questions and significant research projects that are shaping a rich field of study.

There has already been a great deal of excitement surrounding videogames as an area of serious scholarly study at the University of Chicago. In 2010, Professor John Reppy taught an upper-level Game Construction course in the Computer Science department that approached software engineering through computer games. In 2011, along with Melissa Gilliam (Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Pediatrics and Chief of the Section of Family Planning and Contraceptive Research), I started the Game Changer Chicago initiative to oversee projects related to serious games and health education.

In the winter quarter of 2012, I also taught a graduate-level, humanities-oriented course called Critical Videogame Studies that attracted 23 students. These participants came from a wide range of disciplines including English, cinema and media studies, anthropology, economics, history, and law. These students were interested in applying various methodologies and asking different kinds of questions about our shared topic. Over the course of the quarter, our close readings of games attended to their aesthetics, interface designs, narratives, gameplay procedures, player interactions, cultural dimensions, economic implications, and technical attributes. We discussed the historical development of videogames from Steve Russell’s early 1960s game Spacewar! to 21st century massively multiplayer online games such as Minecraft. We explored numerous videogame genres, including first-person shooters, music performance games, serious and educational games, and independent art games. We read texts by game theorists including Ian Bogost, Roger Caillois, Nick Dyer-Witheford, James Paul Gee, Johan Huizinga, Jane McGonigal, Marshall McLuhan, Katie Salen, and Eric Zimmerman.

The intellectual energy surrounding videogames that I observed in this recent course has extended far beyond the classroom at the University of Chicago. Beginning in 2010, we had our first informal gameplay and discussion nights that included undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. Building on these sessions, a dedicated group of participants started a vibrant student group called the Ludic Union for the Investigation of Gaming Interfaces (LUIGI) that encourages the study, design, and development of videogames and transmedia games at the university. Several undergraduate and graduate students in this group are working on scholarly and creative projects about videogames and are planning to teach future courses on different topics in the field.

The videogame collection at the University of Chicago Library is intended to support both teaching and research about videogames. The first version of this collection, which we hope to expand even more in the coming years, already includes a range of games released between 1977 and 2012. There are games for consoles that include the Atari VCS, NES, SNES, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Gamecube, Xbox, Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. Certain consoles (including the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and Xbox 360), which have been both donated and purchased, are also available to be checked out at the Department of Visual Arts (DOVA) equipment cage in the recently opened Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. Even as the collection is currently focused on console games, we hope to expand it to other areas, such as computer and mobile games, in future years. The games included in the present collection have been carefully selected to cover a range of genres, historical developments, platforms, and design innovations.


Selected Games

As part of an invitation to explore this collection together, I have asked members of the LUIGI student group (who have played an active and vital role in shaping the collection) to offer a brief introduction to some of the games that they find most significant from a historical and artistic standpoint. While many of the videogames we find most compelling had to be left off of this list, this selection of games purchased by the Library offers a taste of what our growing collection has to offer.

Adventure (Atari VCS, 1979, Atari Inc.)
Ian Jones, University of Chicago graduate student, Cinema and Media Studies

AdventureWith Will Crowther and Don Woods’ 1976 work of interactive fiction of the same title serving as its inspiration, and everything from The Legend of Zelda through Shadow of the Colossus and Red Dead Redemption standing as its spiritual progeny, Adventure for the Atari VCS represents the birth of the console adventure game. One of the few games on the VCS to represent a space that extended beyond the bounds of a single screen, Adventure is a fascinating example of the emergence of new depictive forms in the face of technology poorly optimized for the task, and its “Easter egg” — a well-hidden room sporting the message “created by Warren Robinett” — provides a small window into labor relations in programming at the time.


Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo Entertainment System, 1985, Nintendo Creative Department)
Chris Carloy, University of Chicago graduate student, Cinema and Media Studies

Videogame Super Mario Bros.There may not be a more iconic videogame than Super Mario Bros. Its clean, colorful pixelated style and musical score have become shorthand for the videogame as a cultural object — and the subcultures that surround it. To play Super Mario Bros. is to experience a desperate rush to safety at the end of the level — to sprint under enemies, leap over pits, and land precariously on the other side. Though it rewards practice and patient exploration, its most thrilling moments come from being overwhelmed — when there are so many enemies, such unfamiliar terrain, and so little chance for survival that there is no time for thought and one is given over to impulse and leaps of faith. As with similarly iconic works in other media, its familiarity can easily overshadow its difficulty, its depth, and its influence.

Virtua Fighter 2 (Sega Saturn, 1995, Sega-AM2)
Chris Carloy, University of Chicago graduate student, Cinema and Media Studies

Videogame Virtua Fighter 2The Virtua Fighter series played an important role in the evolution of both the fighting genre and videogame graphics in the mid-1990s. The privileging of simple moves over virtuosic button combinations, together with the groundbreaking use of polygon graphics to give weight to characters’ bodies and increase the illusion of onscreen depth, made the Virtua Fighter experience as much about the interaction of two bodies in space as it was about knockouts. Playing a fighting game typically means practicing series of finger movements, developing and performing a personal style, and testing of one’s abilities against another human or a computer. The Virtua Fighter series demonstrated that the distances between characters and the pauses between moves are as palpable a part of this experience as the frenzy of attack.

Earthbound (Super Nintendo Entertainment System, 1995, Ape and HAL Laboratory)
Patrick Jagoda, University of Chicago faculty, English

Released under the alternate title Mother 2 (1994) in Japan, this epic turn-based role-playing game (RPG) invites the player to guide a party of children through an American metropolis, a zombie-infested town, a cultist village, an overpriced resort town, a parallel dimension inspired by Twin Peaks, and many other settings. Complicating the fantasy-oriented RPG, this postmodern production offers a lengthy quest that unfolds in the game’s contemporary 1990s. Although it was not originally a commercial success, Earthbound garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews and developed a cult following. The game operates at once as an innovative RPG and as a parody of the genre. The game calls attention to its gameplay and narrative conventions through self-referential commentary and clever, media-specific violations of the fourth wall. Earthbound was designed by Shigesato Itoi — a popular cultural figure in Japan whose creative work includes essays, copywriting, lyrics, voice acting, short stories co-written with award-winning Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, and a well-known news site (“Almost Daily Itoi News”).

Resident Evil (PlayStation, 1996, Capcom)
Clint Froehlich, University of Chicago graduate student, Cinema and Media Studies

Videogame Resident EvilInspired by horror games Alone in the Dark and Sweet Home, Capcom’s Resident Evil (1996) was singular upon its release. Its popularity led to the categorization of “survival-horror” as a sub-genre. A corny corporate-malfeasance narrative and famously bad dialogue and voice-acting (“Here’s a lockpick. It might be handy if you, the master of unlocking, take it with you”) don’t detract from the game’s frequent scares and creepy atmosphere. It remains notable for its stunning pre-rendered backgrounds and its effective emulation of horror-movie tropes through static camera angles (very rare in today’s games), cinematic “cut scenes,” and an agile soundtrack that values ominous silence and disturbing sound effects more than aggressive underscoring.  

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64, 1998, Nintendo EAD)
Nicholas Cassleman, University of Chicago undergraduate, Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (Game Design)

Like the other games in the Zelda franchise, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is lauded for its sense of grandeur and adventure. Inspired by childhood explorations of Japan’s countryside, Zelda’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto aimed to create an expansive, adventure-filled world that empowered its players. Puzzle-endowed dungeons, cumulative collection of unique items and powers, and rich 3D graphics for the game’s new 64-bit console helped Ocarina of Time become one of the console’s top-rated games. Many systems in the game, including target-locking and situational controls that were developed to overcome problems interacting with a 3D environment, have become conventional mainstays in today’s videogames.

Shenmue (Sega Dreamcast, 1999, Sega AM2)
Lyndsey Moulds, University of Chicago undergraduate, English

Videogame ShenmueOften described as the first true “open world” adventure game, Shenmue (1999) is notable for its unprecedented focus on creating an immersive world. In a revolutionary attempt at realism, elements of the game are illustrated with equal attention to detail: the game’s numerous characters and interiors are all painstakingly rendered, regardless of their relevance to the main story. Shenmue is notable even when compared to contemporary games for its portrayal of the mundane — perhaps best exemplified by the way the main character carefully removes his shoes each time he enters his home.

Super Smash Bros. Melee (Nintendo GameCube, 2001, HAL Laboratory)
Marley-Vincent Lindsey,
University of Chicago undergraduate, History

Videogame Super Smash Bros. Melee

Building on the original Super Smash Brothers (1999) for the Nintendo 64, Super Smash Brothers Melee (2001) is the best-selling videogame for the Nintendo GameCube. It provides a universe in which major characters and stories from all of Nintendo’s consoles collide. The combat system is different from other fighter games because more damage does not guarantee victory — players must instead force opposing characters offstage to win. Melee provides a challenge, both through game design and exploits (or parts of code that had unintended consequences). For example, “wave dashing” is a technique through which the player can continue moving while being viewed by the game engine as standing still, thereby allowing for attacks to continue. Such exploits were quickly adopted by professional players and implemented in tournaments. The game was picked up by Major League Gaming in 2005, and was also featured in prominent competitive game tournaments from 2003 to 2007. It is one of the rare instances in which competition thrived even after the release of a game’s sequel (Super Smash Brothers Brawl for the Nintendo Wii in 2008).

PsychoNauts (Xbox, 2005, Double Fine Productions)
Ian Jones, University of Chicago graduate student, Cinema and Media Studies

PsychonautsAfter his critically beloved Grim Fandango flopped and effectively ended LucasArt’s PC adventure game division, renowned game developer Tim Schafer formed Double Fine Productions and turned to console game development.  PsychoNauts transfers Schafer’s talents for deft characterization and madcap dialogue into a somewhat off-kilter hybrid of the adventure and 3D-platformer genres.  Although the core gameplay can be uneven at times (with certain later levels becoming infamous for their wildly out-of-balance difficulty), PsychoNauts nevertheless utterly charms with its whimsical world filled with pyrokinetic mountain lions, shadowy conspiracies involving milkmen and girl scouts, and tiny cities players find themselves wrecking, Japanese monster-movie style.

Shadow of the Colossus (PlayStation 2, 2005, Team ICO)
Chris Carloy, University of Chicago graduate student, Cinema and Media Studies

Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus, like many adventure games before it, is built on familiar tropes: as the hero, take your sword, and your horse, and go kill giants in order to revive a lifeless damsel. Remarkably, by stripping the game of all but these elements and by pushing the scale of settings and monsters to unimaginable heights, the makers of Shadow of the Colossus created a game that was one part meditation on solitude, the sublime, death, and the moral ambiguity of violence, and one part ecstatic, breathtaking hero’s quest. In Shadow of the Colossus, giants’ bodies are living geographies — and the player scales their heights only to bring them crumbling to the ground.

BioShock (Xbox 360, 2007, 2K Games)
Nicholas Cassleman, University of Chicago undergraduate, Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (Game Design)

BioshockBioShock is considered by many to be one of videogame form’s finest examples of art. The game takes place in Rapture, an underwater city inspired by Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy. In this world, a mysterious protagonist fights his way through the dystopian remains of the 1960s era city. In this environment, he encounters Rapture’s twisted inhabitants who have been driven mad and deformed by an addiction to recreational genetic modification. Drawing from the First Person Shooter and survival horror genres, BioShock delivers polished gameplay mechanics while telling a mature, conceptually rich story. It creates a world brimming with spatial narrative and detail matched by few other games.

Metroid Prime Trilogy (Wii, 2009, Retro Studios Nintendo)
Ian Jones, University of Chicago graduate student, Cinema and Media Studies

Dubbed the “Citizen Kane of videogames” by critic Michael Thompsen, Metroid Prime introduced 3D gameplay to the Metroid series, inviting players to inhabit the first-person perspective of its protagonist, interstellar bounty hunter Samus Aran. (The game remains, along with Perfect Dark, one of the few first-person games featuring a female protagonist.)  Originally released on Nintendo’s GameCube console in 2002, Prime was lauded for successfully translating the series’ trademark haunting, solitary exploration of alien landscapes into three-dimensional space, and for its presentation of backstory through in-game logs and journal entries accessible to curious and persistent players, rather than through excessive, flow-breaking cinematic cut scenes (a technique built upon later in Bioshock). Metroid Prime Trilogy collects Prime together with its sequels, adding one of the Wii’s strongest motion control-schemes to the mix.

Heavy Rain (PlayStation 3, 2010, Quantic Dream)
Kalisha Cornett, University of Chicago graduate student, Cinema and Media Studies

Heavy RainHeavy Rain embodies the potential of the medium of videogames both figuratively and literally. This “interactive drama” realizes gaming’s mimetic qualities by giving players an unprecedented relationship to the motivations and physicalities of a rotating cast of character avatars. Utilizing a context-sensitive user interface that has proven to be vastly influential across a variety of media, Heavy Rain is an ambitious, risky game that features stunning set pieces of emotional intensity and noir-infused action. Just as the art of origami transforms a flat object into a beautifully complex shape, this game becomes far more than it appears to be.


Videogame Showcase
June 1, 3-9 p.m.
At the Logan Center

We also invite you to attend an upcoming showcase of select titles representing the breadth of the University’s holdings on June 1 from 3-9 p.m. at the Logan Center. This showcase has been designed to highlight both what videogames have drawn from other media and what makes them uniquely worthy of study and preservation.  The six-hour event will be broken into half-hour sessions on a number of themes. Come to play or watch, for a single session or the full six hours, and learn about games and their study at the University of Chicago.  For a complete schedule, visit the LUIGI blog.

Web of Knowledge adds Book Citation Index

In addition to providing information on journal articles, Web of Knowledge now contains information on more than 10,000 books in the sciences.  Web of Knowledge users can find journal article references cited within books as well as in other journal articles.  References cited within books and book chapters constitute the full bibliographies from these books and chapters, and the platform enables linking to the full text of articles contained in the books’ bibliographies.  The database also now provides “times cited” information for books and book chapters.   

 Search the Book Citation Index content from the familiar Web of Knowledge interface.  You can limit your results to just books and book chapters by using the Refine Results feature located on the left side of the results screen.  When you find a book or book chapter of interest, use the FindIt! button in the record to look for the book in the online catalog.  Books included in Book Citation Index may be available as e-books.  If the book is not owned by the University of Chicago, we can usually get a copy for your use via Interlibrary Loan or UBorrow. Individual book chapters for titles we own in print can also be delivered electronically to you using the new Scan and Deliver service.


Campus-wide access to ICPSR is now available

The Library has teamed with the Social Sciences Division to bring access to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) to the entire UChicago community. Access to ICPSR had been limited to some Divisions of the University. This new arrangement allows access from any computer on campus. Off-campus access is coming soon.

ICPSR is a repository of over 500,000 data sets that have been compiled by researchers in a broad range of disciplines. These data sets can be downloaded for analysis with major statistical packages, such as SPSS and SAS. Data sets range from broad topics like the U.S. Census to very specific topics, such as “Voting Results Under a Single-Transferable-Vote System in Malta, 1921-1996“, “The Evangelical Voter in the United States, 1983” or “Collective Memory in Lithuania, 1989


Access ICPSR here


You can learn more about ICPSR at an upcoming webinar, hosted by their training department.

RAW in Special Collections

I am thrilled that Special Collections is getting RAW magazine (1980-1991)—a publication that did more to create the field I study than practically any other work.

started in 1980; it was, essentially, the brainchild of Françoise Mouly, who is currently the Art Director of the New Yorker (that means she has the amazing job of choosing the cover of that magazine each week).  Françoise, a French architecture student who had abandoned the Sorbonne to move to New York, and joined avant-garde circles there, had become interested in printing and she had enrolled in technical courses in printing.  She lived in a loft in Soho with her husband, the cartoonist Art Spiegelman, and a 1,000-pound printing press (apparently the person carrying it up the stairs to their fourth-floor walk-up had almost died doing so).  With her printing skills, Françoise published a local Soho guide map, called The Streets of Soho, which did surprisingly well.  Apparently at a party one night the Françoise proposed to her husband the idea that they publish a large-format, high-quality “comix and graphix” magazine themselves, to fill the void that the underground comics publications had left (Spiegelman and cartoonist Bill Griffith had edited the wonderful Arcade magazine in the late seventies, a kind of last gasp of the best side of the underground publication culture, but it didn’t last long.)  As a kind of dare, Mouly and Spiegelman decided to do it (I think they first imagined it as a one-shot, but it was so popular that they continued).  The idea was to differentiate RAW from previous underground publications—even serious and important ones—by its luxurious production values.  They wanted RAW to stand out—it was too big to be shelved at the bookstores and art stores and newsstands with “regular” magazines or comics.  Their editorial ethic is famous for its rigor, and the lavish design and production of RAW did make the public take account of comics in a format they weren’t used to.

A biannual that had a different subtitle each issue—the first one was The Graphix Magazine of Postponed SuicidesRAW began serializing Spiegelman’s Maus narrative, one chapter at a time, in its second issue, in December 1980.  Many people note that Spiegelman’s Maus—which went on, much later, to appear in two Pantheon book volumes, in 1986 and 1991—changed the face of contemporary comics.  That’s true.  But it was the culture that RAW established that allowed Maus to circulate and be received as serious.  RAW also published the early work of cartoonists who are today titans in the field, such as Chris Ware and Charles Burns, who each got their start in RAW.  Spiegelman had seen one of Ware’s comic strips in a college newspaper in Texas and phoned him to ask him to submit to RAW.  Burns, on the other hand, traveling to New York, simply knocked on Mouly and Spiegelman’s door in Soho.  RAW published work from young up-and-coming artists like Ware and Burns, and also re-published comics works that had gone under the radar, such as by Boody Rogers and Henry Darger.  Many of today’s most well-known cartoonists, such as Ben Katchor, Lynda Barry, Julie Doucet, Gary Panter, and Justin Green, all appeared in RAWRAW also, significantly, specifically aimed to bring avant-garde comics (or “comix”) from Europe—where Mouly had connections—and elsewhere to an American audience.  Mouly and Spiegelman traveled abroad to cultivate cartoonists from wide and far for the pages of RAW.  Showing the sophisticated comics work being done in the U.S. by young artists and across continents, RAW—whose second volume run was picked up by Penguin— pioneered a space in culture for the graphic and intellectual force of comics.  Having all of the issues of RAW at Special Collections is a key resource, and will be indispensable for anyone studying contemporary comics.

Hillary Chute and comics artist Alison Bechdel are collaborators in the University’s new Mellon Residential Fellowships for Arts Practice and Scholarship program (see for more information). In Spring 2012 they will be co-teaching a course “Lines of Transmission: Comics and Autobiography.”

Access to 80+ years of Chemical & Engineering News online

I&EC announcement of George Herbert Jones Laboratory dedication

We are pleased to announce that the Library has purchased the entire archive for Chemical & Engineering News for 1923-2010. The archive includes cover to cover digitized issues of all content from C&EN since 1941, as well as from the previous incarnations of magazine: Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, News Edition (1923–1939) and News Edition, American Chemical Society (1940–1941).

Over 500,000 pages of content is included and is a treasure trove for researching history of modern chemistry and chemical industry.  Shown above is a portion of the article covering the dedication of the University of Chicago’s George Herbert Jones Laboratory in 1930 (Ind. Eng. Chem., News Ed., 1930, 8 (1), pp 3–4), just one of the many fascinating pieces of history covered in the C&EN Archive.

Making of Modern Law: Primary Sources

Pressure Groups chart

From the 1945 Scholastic publication Congress at Work: A Graphic Story of How our Laws are Made and of the Men Who Make Them

The Library has recently purchased a supplement to the database Making of Modern Law: Primary Sources, which is a collection of digitized historical legal material, including published records of the American colonies, documents published by state constitutional conventions, state codes, city charters, and more.  The collection previously covered material from 1620 through 1926, and it has now been expanded to cover up through 1970 and now includes more than 3.3 million pages. The database is full-text searchable, and all of the documents are available in PDF format.

Legal history researchers may also find useful the other databases in the Making of Modern Law Series: U.S. Supreme Court Records & BriefsLegal Treatises, 1800-1926, and Trials, 1600-1926.