Featured Collections

Watch Dr. Ada Palmer discuss a Renaissance astronomy text in Special Collections

Dr. Ada Palmer, Assistant Professor in the Department of History and the College at the University of Chicago, went live on Facebook to teach viewers about a Renaissance astronomy text in the Special Collections Research Center. The book, a 1605 imprint of a work by Giovanni Paolo Gallucci, is a fascinating example of an author navigating the political landscape of his time – should he write openly about his scientific theories, or play it safe and write about the tools used to study astronomy? Dr. Palmer led a team of graduate students curating the Special Collections Research Center’s newest gallery exhibition: Tensions in Renaissance Cities, open March 27-June 9, 2017.

This video is one in a series of videos of UChicago faculty discussing their favorite items in the Special Collections Research Center. See Dr. Mindy Schwartz describe a 19th-century surgical kit.

Dr. Ada Palmer discusses a Renaissance astronomy text in the Special Collections Research Center. #facultyfavorites #bookhistory #astronomy #historyofscience

Posted by University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center on Monday, March 13, 2017

 

Nobel laureate Saul Bellow’s papers open for research

Materials provide look into author’s life, creative process

A carbon copy of a typescript fragment of "The Adventures of Augie March"

A carbon copy of a typescript fragment of “The Adventures of Augie March,” ca. 1952-53, titled “The Life of Augie March Among the Machiavellians.” (Courtesy of Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library)

The largest collection of Nobel laureate Saul Bellow’s personal papers is now open for research at the University of Chicago Library, documenting his creative process and literary fame, as well as his wide-ranging professional relationships.

Saul Bellow painting

Photo of painting by Filippo Carosi Martinozzi, 1986, courtesy of Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library

Bellow, X’39, who spent three decades as a professor at UChicago, left a collection that extends 141 linear feet filling 254 boxes. It includes correspondence with writers such as Ralph Ellison and Philip Roth, manuscripts that reveal his writing process including a series of drafts of The Adventures of Augie March, and personal items such as a Rolodex and letters from U.S. presidents.

The opening of the archives is the culmination of an extensive effort by the Library’s Special Collections Research Center to organize the documents and catalogue them in a Guide to the Saul Bellow Papers, 1926-2015. The archival work, which was supported by a gift from Robert Nelson, AM’64, and Carolyn Nelson, AM’64, PhD’67, greatly increases scholars’ ability to discover materials in the collection online.

“Opening up the Bellow papers will provide generations of scholars with the materials they need to develop new insights into Saul Bellow and 20th-century American history and culture,” said Brenda Johnson, Library director and University librarian. “We are deeply grateful to Robert Nelson and Carolyn Nelson for their generous support of the processing and preservation of this collection.”

A prolific writer, Bellow’s extensive revision process is manifest in the collection in numerous drafts of each of his best-known novels, including Herzog, Humboldt’s Gift and The Adventures of Augie March. Bellow’s long list of literary accolades include the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Medal of Arts and the National Book Award for Fiction.

Ralph Ellison letter to Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow lived with Ralph Ellison during the late 1950s in an upstate New York fixer-upper. In this May 1959 letter, Ellison writes Bellow about needed repairs to their house as well as praising Bellow’s “Henderson the Rain King,” which Ellison claims ‘threw some real whiskey in the placid water of the literary well.’ (Courtesy of Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library)

“The Saul Bellow Papers offer a compelling view of modern American literature,” said Daniel Meyer, director of the Special Collections Research Center and University archivist. “The collection offers scholars, students and other researchers fresh perspectives on Bellow’s impact on the 20th-century novel and his distinctive voice in literary criticism and cultural commentary.”

An educator and intellectual with broad ranging interests in art and culture, Bellow found a home for his pursuits at the University of Chicago. He taught in the John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought from 1962 to 1993, serving as chair from 1970 to 1976, and his experiences in Chicago and at the University are at the heart of much of his writing.

Equally important to the collection is the extraordinary range of his correspondence, which includes thousands of letters Bellow received or sent to fellow writers such as Samuel Beckett, Allen Ginsberg, Lillian Hellman, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller and Joyce Carol Oates. The Special Collections Research Center’s wide array of related materials—from the archives of Bellow’s faculty colleagues to collections documenting 20th-century literary and cultural life in Chicago—also will help scholars to uncover vital connections between Bellow and his contemporaries and his city.

Saul Bellow portrait

Saul Bellow portrait (Photo copyright Jill Krementz, 1976, courtesy of the Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library)

“Bellow was someone who thought deeply about current events and politics, the state of culture and the arts in the 20th century, and the role of the writer,” said Processing Archivist Ashley Gosselar, who reviewed and organized the collection and created the guide to its contents. “The correspondence demonstrates the way he sought to keep his finger on the pulse of America in the mid-20th century.”

Additional items in the Saul Bellow papers include personal ephemera, writings by others given to or collected by Bellow, writings about Bellow’s life and work, administrative and teaching materials from the University of Chicago and Boston University, awards, photographs and audio recordings, artwork, broadsides and posters. Materials date between 1926 and 2015, with the majority produced between 1940 and 2004.

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Ronald H. Coase Papers

The Ronald H. Coase papers are ready for use at the Special Collections Research Center. The Nobel Prize winning economist taught at the Law School from 1964 until 1982, where he edited the Journal of Law and Economics. Mr. Coase’s papers on social costs, broadcasting regulation, and the nature of the firm were fundamental to the field of Law and Economics. A detailed finding aid provides access to the papers.

 

Robert Maynard Hutchins Papers available for research

A youthful Robert M. Hutchins in 1929

A youthful Robert M. Hutchins in 1929

The Robert Maynard Hutchins Papers are now available for research.

This collection is distinct from the Office of the President, Hutchins Administration Records, and includes material pertaining to Hutchins’ research, writing, and speaking; material relevant to his professional activities; correspondence; subject files; personal ephemera; honors and awards; annotated books; and photographs and audio recordings. The  bulk of the material dates between 1921 and 1977.

The correspondence series represents the largest portion of the collection. Hutchins corresponded with an impressive number of 20th-century luminaries including Saul Alinsky, Steve Allen, Pearl S. Buck, Albert Einstein, T. S. Eliot, Hubert Humphrey, Oscar Hammerstein II, Aldous and Laura Huxley, Charles and Anne Lindbergh, Benjamin E. Mays, Thurgood Marshall, Edward R. Murrow, Paul Newman, the Rockefeller family, Earl Warren, Frank Lloyd Wright, William O. Douglas, Adlai Stevenson, Thornton Wilder, and many more.

Committee to Frame a World Constitution Records Re-housed

Committee to Frame a World Constitution PosterContinuing our collections news, one of our more frequently used collections, The Committee to Frame a World Constitution Records, has been re-housed into new, more usable containers.  This collection, which documents efforts to formulate a world constitution in the post-War era, includes correspondence, administrative and financial records, manuscripts submitted to Common Cause, and drafts of the World Constitution itself.  Robert Hutchins, Mortimer Adler, Robert Redfield, Richard McKeon, and other University of Chicago faculty and administrators were involved in the effort. The re-housed records also incorporate additional materials not included in the original finding aid.

Stephen A. Douglas Papers available for research

Stephen A. Douglas

Stephen A. Douglas

The Stephen A. Douglas Papers are once again available for research.   The collection has been reprocessed to incorporate additional materials. Most of these additions were to Series II: Political, Series III: Personal, and Series IV: Oversize. There are also new Lincoln items within the collection. 

Contest Closed: mystery script identified in rare edition of Homer’s Odyssey

File_2382A researcher has identified the script used for annotations in the 1504 edition of Homer’s Odyssey held by University of Chicago Library. We will announce the results in a few days.

Thanks to all the linguists, classicists, and other amateur detectives who responded to our call for assistance. We hope you enjoyed working on the puzzle.

Identify mystery text, win $1000

Example of Mystery Text

Example of Mystery Text

Calling all historians of cryptography and stenography, Sherlockians (see “The Dancing Men”), and other amateur detectives!  The collection of Homer editions in the Special Collections Research Center – the  Bibliotheca Homerica Langiana(BHL) – includes a copy of the rare 1504 edition of Homer’s Odyssey that contains, in Book 11 (narrating Odysseus’s journey into Hades) handwritten annotations in a strange and as-yet unidentified script.  This marginalia appears only in the pages of Book 11 of the Odyssey; nowhere else in the volume.  Although the donor of the BHL is suspicious that this odd script is a form of 19th-century shorthand (likely French), he acknowledges that this hypothesis remains unsupported by any evidence offered to date.

The donor of the BHL is offering a prize of $1,000 to the first person who identifies the script, provides evidence to support the conclusion, and executes a translation of selected portions of the mysterious marginalia.  In addition to the photographs in this post, the volume is available to consult in person in the Special Collections reading room.  Please visit the Special Collections website for information about requesting items to get started. The contest is open to all, regardless of University of Chicago affiliation. Please direct submissions to the contest, or questions, to Alice Schreyer, Assistant University Librarian, Humanities and Social Sciences and Rare Books Curator, or Catherine Uecker, Rare Books Librarian.

Mystery Text

Mystery Text

Homer. Odysseia. Venice: Aldus, 1504. PA4018.A2 1504 vol. 2

 

Norman Maclean Papers available for research

Norman Maclean

Norman Maclean

Author and University of Chicago professor Norman Maclean’s papers are available for research in the Special Collections Research Center.  Raised in Montana, Maclean earned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1940 and taught English until he retired at age 70. He then began writing, and  achieved national fame for works he wrote after his retirement, including the novel, A River Runs Through It. The collection includes correspondence, administrative and teaching materials from the University of Chicago, materials related to the creation and publication of his writings, and an array of additional materials. Maclean died in 1990. 

Maclean’s distinguished teaching career at the University of Chicago began when he accepted a graduate assistantship in English at the University in 1928. He was promoted to instructor in 1930. Maclean earned his Ph.D. in English literature in 1940 with a dissertation on lyric poetry, and was made an assistant professor in 1941. He was promoted to associate professor in 1944, and attained a full professorship in 1954.

Maclean’s gift for teaching was recognized multiple times throughout his career. He won a teaching award early on in 1932, and was awarded the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 1941 and again in 1973. Quantrell recipients are nominated by students and the award is a high honor for faculty. Though tough, Maclean’s courses were popular among students. His demand for excellence was tempered by a keen sense of fairness and a generosity of spirit toward the students he mentored. In 1962 he was installed as the William Rainey Harper Professor of English Literature, a position he held until his retirement in 1972.

Upon retirement, Maclean embarked on a second career as a writer. He eased into authorship with two well-received critical essays published in 1952, and a handful of autobiographical and witty essays published in the early 1970s. His most significant work of fiction, A River Runs Through It, was published in 1976 by the University of Chicago Press – the first work of new fiction ever published by the Press. A River Runs Through It consists of a novella of the same title and two short stories. The book was a critical success, a popular bestseller, and a contender for the 1977 Pulitzer Prize. Multiple filmmakers and production companies vied for the film rights to the book, and it was eventually adapted for film in 1992 under the direction of Robert Redford.

The University of Chicago named an undergraduate dormitory for Maclean — Maclean House — in 1991. Every year, residents celebrate “Maclean Day,” during which the House president gives a speech that celebrates Norman Maclean and the House community. In 1997 the University’s alumni association established the Norman Maclean Faculty Award which recognizes emeritus or senior faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to teaching and student life on campus.

 

 

Take a historic campus tour from your couch

Beginning of historic campus tour

Beginning of historic campus tour

A new online tour of the University of Chicago campus allows visitors to view select campus residence halls and classroom buildings as they were in decades past, while simultaneously seeing that location as it appears today.  The campus tour, created by Special Collections staff and using the social media site HistoryPin, features dozens of images from the Special Collections Research Center’s Photographic Archive.  Each image is then mapped to a current-day Google Street Map location.  Viewers have the option to use the “fade” control to fade the historical image into the background or bring it forward. 

This historic campus tour is the second such virtual tour created in Special Collections, the first being a tour of iconic sights of Chicago, inspired by the postcards in the Ian Mueller Collection of Chicago Memorabilia.  The Chicago city postcard tour was curated by the Special Collections archives and manuscripts unit staff, and  launched at the same time the exhibition, “Souvenirs! Get Your Souvenirs!” opened in the Special Collections Exhibition Gallery.  The physical exhibition runs July 22- October 5, 2013.  View the postcard tour  online.