New Acquisitions

UChicago Library receives 2,700 vintage photos by Vivian Maier

Gift creates largest institutional collection of acclaimed photographer’s prints

A person smiling

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 Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier.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

The University of Chicago Library has received more than 2,700 vintage prints by celebrated photographer Vivian Maier, few of which have ever been published or displayed.

Collector John Maloof made the donation to the UChicago Library, where they will be preserved and made accessible to researchers in the Special Collections Research Center. The gift includes more than 1,200 black-and-white and 1,400 color prints that Maier made, ranging from her travels around the world to her street photography in Chicago that has received widespread critical acclaim. Because Maier chose to make the prints herself, the collection provides a rare glimpse into her creative process and the photos to which she was drawn.

“This exceptional collection will give researchers and students a more complex understanding of Vivian Maier as a unique figure in 20th-century photography,” said Brenda L. Johnson, library director and University librarian. “We are so pleased that, with the receipt of this magnificent gift from John Maloof, the UChicago Library has the largest collection of Maier photographs held by any museum or library—and the only large collection of Maier’s work that is open to all interested researchers.”

Man working on billboard featuring woman

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 Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier.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

Maloof first discovered the significance of Vivian Maier’s work after purchasing the contents of several storage lockers in 2008 from an auction house, eventually building a collection of more than 100,000 of Maier’s negatives and prints. The Academy Award-nominated documentary Finding Vivian Maier, which Maloof co-wrote and co-directed, depicts his exploration of Maier’s life and work.

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.

New window into Maier’s creative process

The photo shows a standing man with a cane and another man's face through a window

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 Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier.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

While six major photography books and two biographies about Maier have been published in recent years, much of her work remains unknown. Whereas most recent prints of her work have been made by collectors, Maloof’s gift offers a more direct and personal glimpse into the photographer’s work.

Capturing everything from landscapes to still lifes to candid shots of actors and actresses, the vintage prints demonstrate a variety of subjects and compositional approaches that show the breadth of Maier’s interests. In addition to the prints—which range in size from 2 by 2.5 inches to 11 by 14 inches—the collection also includes cameras, papers and other personal items.

“The vintage prints John donated to the Library were made by Vivian Maier herself in her own darkroom, or printed for her by photo processors at her direction,” said Daniel Meyer, director of the Special Collections Research Center. “Researchers examining the collection will be able to see some examples of how she evaluated and edited her own work, which images she decided to enlarge or reprint, and which ones she chose to crop.”

The prints will provide researchers an opportunity to consider what makes Maier’s work distinctive, said Prof. Laura Letinsky, a photographer who teaches in UChicago’s Department of Visual Arts and serves as its director of graduate studies. She added the collection provides an opportunity to think in depth both about Maier’s influences and her point of view. For example, her depiction of women was one aspect that immediately stood out to Letinsky: “Street photographer Garry Winogrand’s pictures of women are sexy—Maier’s are not.”

People sitting in front of Tailleur

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

Seeing a concentrated group of Maier’s works rather than a small curated selection, Letinsky said, will help students better understand the level of commitment required in photography, as well as how the medium has evolved since the mid-20th century.

“I would talk about the difference in the way people see the world in this era versus our Instagram era now,” Letinsky said. “I’d want them to see the physicality of it.”

The archive also includes examples of items Maier collected: seven still cameras and three movie cameras, plus a variety of lenses, attachments and cases; ring binders and plastic display holders filled with newspaper and magazine clippings; luggage, a travel itinerary, postcards, address books and other ephemera.

This is the second gift Maloof has given to the UChicago Library, following his 2017 donation of 500 Maier prints. After seeing the interest those prints generated among scholars, students and the public, Maloof realized that he needed to give more to build an “effective study collection.”

Maier’s work joins 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.



The copyrights in the photography contained in this press release are owned by the Estate of Vivian Maier. The Estate grants a limited 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.  Hi-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 1500 pixels on the longest side and 72 dpi.  Unauthorized reproduction, distribution, or exhibition could result in liability under the Copyright Act.  Publication of any of these images requires accompanying use of this notice: “Unpublished work © 2017 The Estate of Vivian Maier. All rights reserved.”

Media contact: Colleen Mastony, cmastony@uchicago.edu, (773) 702-4254

This story is published on the University of Chicago News site.

Photograph of part of a face (including an eye with glasses) behind part of a stop sign

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

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

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.

Exploring 125 years of history in the Archives

Janet-Rowley-600p

Janet Rowley in her laboratory. 1980s. University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf7-01134. Copyright 2015, The Chicago Maroon. All rights reserved. Reprinted with Permission. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Celebration of the University of Chicago’s 125th Anniversary is drawing increased campus attention to the University Archives this year. The mission of the Archives is to preserve and make available materials documenting the history of the University and the work of its faculty, students, trustees, and friends. Archives collections span many formats, from official reports to publications, photographs, media, and physical artifacts. Faculty papers in the Archives include letters, diaries, field notes, manuscripts, and teaching materials. In all, the Archives collections have grown to 60,000 linear feet, or more than 73 million individual items, and digital files comprise more than 20 terabytes of records in the Library’s Digital Repository.

Bon-Voyage-asas-01557_600p

Bon Voyage. From the papers of Julian and Eva Overton Lewis. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Important new collections continue to enhance the Archives. Recent acquisitions include the papers of Janet Rowley, the University’s renowned geneticist and cancer researcher and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. Gary Becker’s papers bring manuscripts, notes, and teaching materials of the 1992 Nobel laureate in economics. The papers of Jean Elshtain document her interdisciplinary work in religion, political philosophy, and ethics. And the papers of Julian H. Lewis, the University’s first African American professor, and his wife Eva Overton Lewis, document an influential career in medical research and the lives of a leading Chicago family.

Julian H. Lewis

Julian H. Lewis, the first African American to teach at the University of Chicago. 1917. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Recent classroom teaching drawing on the Archives includes Mark Bradley’s seminar on International History. Tara Zahra brought her History Colloquium on Migration and Displacement in Twentieth- Century Europe. Daniel Webb drew on the Archives for his class on America in World Civilization, while Susan Burns brought her class on Doing History. Kathleen Conzen led classes on Chicago and Chicago’s South Side, and Katherine Taylor’s courses examined the University’s modern campus architecture.

Support for research is also central to the Archives mission. Within the past year, projects of University researchers have drawn on the records of the Robert M. Hutchins administration, the Committee on Social Thought, and the University’s Chaucer Research Project of the 1930s. Visiting researchers have examined the papers of Mircea Eliade; the papers of University administrators and faculty involved in the world government movement of the 1940s and 1950s; the field notes and data collected by Sol Tax and other faculty members of the University’s influential Department of Anthropology; and the papers of Ernest W. Burgess, Louis Wirth, Everett Hughes, and other leaders in Chicago sociology.

Sol Tax

Sol Tax, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. n.d. University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf1-08219. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

The Library’s annual Robert Platzman Memorial Fellowships bring visiting scholars from the national and international scholarly community. This year, one Platzman Fellow from the University of Cambridge is examining the papers of Charles Merriam, Harold Gosnell, and others for a study of attitudes toward American public opinion. Using the papers of Ernest Burgess and Robert Havinghurst, a graduate student from Indiana University is researching a dissertation on the Guatemalan Indigenismo movement. A scholar from the University of Oxford is examining the papers of Louis Brownlow, Leonard White, and other faculty for a study of American political science. And a graduate student from the University of Minnesota is using the papers of faculty member A.K. Ramanujan to examine literary debates in nineteenth-century South India.

Visit the online University of Chicago Photographic Archive at photoarchive.lib.uchicago.edu.

Block group paints, 600 block of South Bowen.

Block group paints, 600 block of South Bowen. Mildred Mead, photographer. April 30, 1952. University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf2-09636. Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Enabling discovery of the Saul Bellow Papers: A gift from Bob and Carolyn Nelson

2015 marks the centennial of the birth of the late Saul Bellow. The 1976 Nobel laureate in literature, Bellow taught as a member of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago from 1962 to 1993, immortalizing Hyde Park and the city of Chicago in his novels and making a lasting impression on generations of students. Now, thanks to a generous gift from alumni Bob Nelson and Carolyn Nelson, 2015 is also the year when the processing of the University of Chicago’s Saul Bellow Papers begins.

Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow, signing copies of his book “Humboldt’s Gift” in the university bookstore. September 1975. Photographer John Vail. University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf1-00516, Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

The Saul Bellow Papers include 145 linear feet of material dating from roughly 1940 to 2003. The collection is currently divided into 71 parts, reflecting a series of gifts, deposits, and acquisitions that began in 1963. Almost half of the Papers—a total of more than 222,000 pages—are manuscripts, letters, and other materials written by Saul Bellow himself.

Because of the generosity of the Nelsons, the Bellow Papers can now be fully reviewed, systematically rearranged into one unified collection, and described in a comprehensive manner for the first time. The collection will be organized into a single sequence of nine archival series: biographical, correspondence, writings by Saul Bellow, writings by others, honors and awards, photographs, memorabilia, oversize, and restricted private letters. After arrangement and description are completed, a guide to the collection with a comprehensive inventory of all materials will be added to the online Special Collections Finding Aid Database, where it can be searched in the context of related collections and discovered worldwide through all web search engines. The fully organized Saul Bellow Papers will be available for consultation by faculty, students, and visiting researchers and scholars in the Special Collections Research Center Reading Room.

“The Nelsons’ gift will be invaluable to scholars on campus and around the world, who will be able to discover comprehensive descriptions of the archives online,” said Brenda Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian.

The increased accessibility of the Saul Bellow Papers, and the scholarship such access will enable, are important to the Nelsons. “Bellow is acknowledged as one of the preeminent novelists of his (and our) time,” Bob wrote. “Processing his papers will advance understanding and appreciation of his work.”

Carolyn and Bob Nelson

Carolyn and Bob Nelson

The Nelsons feel an enthusiasm for the Papers that harkens back to their days as students at UChicago, when they saw Bellow strolling around Hyde Park and enjoyed reading their favorite Bellow novel, Herzog. Graduates of the Humanities Division, Bob, AM’64, and Carolyn, AM’64, PhD’67, are avid collectors of literature who have assembled more than 6,000 books including approximately 300 first editions. Carolyn is a longstanding member of the Visiting Committee to the Library, serving since 2005, and Bob served on the Visiting Committee to the Division of the Social Sciences from 2005 to 2013. Carolyn, whose degrees are in English, is a distinguished bibliographer who worked at Yale University Library updating the foundational Short-Title Catalogue of Books . . . 1641-1700, and launched a groundbreaking companion catalogue, British Newspapers and Periodicals 1641-1700. The Nelsons’ support thus extends Carolyn’s lifelong commitment to enabling the study of literature in English.

Even unprocessed, scholars have begun finding gems in the collection. Benjamin Taylor makes special note of letters from Bellow’s father and John F. Kennedy in our Library’s Bellow Papers in his 2010 volume of Bellow’s selected correspondence. Zachary Leader, author of the 2015 biography The Life of Saul Bellow, relied heavily on our collection for his work. Their initial discoveries speak to the tremendous potential of the Papers as the collection becomes more widely known.

UChicago Library acquires papers of cartoonist Daniel Clowes

The University of Chicago Library has acquired the papers of cartoonist Daniel Clowes, Lab’79, giving researchers access to never-before-seen notes and sketches from the acclaimed comic book author.

The materials in the collection—notes, outlines, narrative drafts, character sketches, draft layouts, line art, book dummies and more—reveal the start-to-finish artistic process behind three of Clowes’ award-winning graphic novels: The Death-Ray (2011), Ice Haven (2005) and Mister Wonderful (2011). The collection also includes ephemera related to two major exhibitions of Clowes’ work.

Daniel Clowes at the "Comics: Philosophy and Practice" conference at the University of Chicago in 2012. (Photo by Jason Smith)

Daniel Clowes at the “Comics: Philosophy and Practice” conference at the University of Chicago in 2012. (Photo by Jason Smith)

“Daniel Clowes’ work is renowned for its sharp satire and compelling characters. This collection offers rare insights into Clowes’ creative process and the challenges and complexities of his art. It will be an exciting resource for scholars at the University of Chicago and beyond,” said Daniel Meyer, director of the Special Collections Research Center, which will house the Daniel Clowes Archive.

Clowes’ first professional work appeared in Cracked magazine in 1985. In 1989, he created the seminal comic book series Eightball, which ran for 23 issues through 2004 and earned him a large following and multiple industry awards.

Eightball generated several graphic novels, including Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, Pussey! and Ghost World, his breakthrough hit about the last summer of a teenage friendship. The 2001 film adaptation of Ghost World, based on a script by Clowes and director Terry Zwigoff, was nominated for an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay.

Ice Haven, an intricate tale of kidnapping and alienation in a small Midwestern town, and The Death-Ray, the unlikely story of a teenage superhero in the 1970s, both appeared in Eightball before their publication in book form. Clowes’ “middle-aged romance” Mister Wonderful began as a serialized comic for The New York Times Magazine was collected in an expanded hardcover edition in 2011. Materials related to Ice Haven, The Death-Ray and Mister Wonderful are featured in the Daniel Clowes Archive.

Clowes’ comics, graphic novels and anthologies have been translated into more than 20 languages, and his work has been the subject of numerous international exhibitions. A major retrospective of his work debuted at the Oakland Museum of California in 2012 and traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 2013.

L-R: Hillary Chute, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Seth, and Chris Ware at the at the "Comics: Philosophy and Practice" conference at the University of Chicago in 2012. (Photo by Jason Smith)

L-R: Hillary Chute, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Seth, and Chris Ware at the at the “Comics: Philosophy and Practice” conference at the University of Chicago in 2012. (Photo by Jason Smith)

“I couldn’t be more honored and pleased (and, frankly, astonished) to have my archival materials included in the University’s Special Collection,” Clowes said. “The University of Chicago, both the physical campus and the institution, was central, almost overwhelmingly so, to my formative life, the first 18 years of which were spent three blocks away from this very site, and there could no more appropriate place for these papers to find their home.”

Clowes has longstanding ties to the University of Chicago. Born and raised in Hyde Park, he attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools before moving to New York to study at the Pratt Institute. His grandfather, James Lea Cate, was a scholar of medieval history and historiography and a UChicago professor from 1930 to 1969. His stepmother, Harriet Clowes, worked in development at the University of Chicago Library from 1976 to 1980.

In 2012, Clowes participated in the “Comics: Philosophy and Practice” conference sponsored by the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago. That event brought together 17 world-renowned cartoonists for three days of public conversation.

Prof. Hillary Chute, the conference organizer and expert on contemporary comics, has included Clowes’ work in her courses and interviewed him for her book Outside the Box.

“Dan Clowes is one of the most important cartoonists working today—and, crucially, he helped to invent the ‘graphic novel’ field as we know it today in his decades of groundbreaking work. His work has been a huge influence on many, many cartoonists—and on me, both as a person and a scholar of comics,” said Chute, associate professor in English and the College. “I could not be more honored and thrilled that the University has acquired an archive by an artist of this caliber.”

The Daniel Clowes Archive adds to the University of Chicago Library’s growing collection of materials related to word and image studies. The Library holds an extensive collection of contemporary comics, including many comics and zines published in Chicago, as well as the Walter C. Dopierala Comic Book Collection, which contains more than 2,000 popular mid-century comic books. The Library plans to add to its comics archive in the years to come.

The Daniel Clowes Archive is open to researchers.

A University of Chicago news release

Library publishes ‘Homer in Print’ catalogue

Homer in Print: A Catalogue of the Bibliotheca Homerica Langiana at the University of Chicago Library, is now available for consultation or check out at the Library and for purchase from the University of Chicago Press.

Homer in Print cover

Homer in Print cover art. Jacket design by Jerry Kelly, using a roundel by Bruce Rogers from his 1932 edition of the Odyssey.

Homer in Print traces the print transmission and literary reception of the Iliad and the Odyssey from the 15th through the 20th century. Over 175 mini-essays provide new details of each included edition’s textual, intellectual, and publishing history. Three long-form essays contributed by scholars Glenn W. Most and David Wray, and collector M. C. Lang,  place these editions within a wider context, exploring their role in ancient and modern philology, translation studies, and the history of printing. An extensive and strikingly illustrated testament to the power and popularity of Homer over the past 500 years, Homer in Print is an essential text for students and teachers of classics, classical reception, comparative literature, and book history. This volume, a product of new research and sharp scholarship, evidences Homer’s ability to captivate the imaginations of poets, editors, and readers throughout the centuries.

Edited by Glenn W. Most and Alice Schreyer and published by the University of Chicago Library, the Homer in Print catalogue and the collection it documents provide the foundation for the upcoming exhibition Homer in Print: The Transmission and Reception of Homer’s Works, on view at the Special Collections Research Center from January 13 to March 15, 2014.

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