Friday, September 19, 2014

In Honor of "Our Funny University"



In honor of today's event, "Our Funny University," we have installed a modest exhibit on the first floor of Memorial Library entitled "Campus Humor Magazines Near and Far." These cases highlight extensive and lively collections of campus humor magazines in the University Archives and the Department of Special Collections. The magazines on display include UW’s own Sphinx and Octopus as well as campus humor magazines from other American colleges and universities.




These magazines address topics both light-hearted and controversial: some of the humor stands well the test of time, while other jokes and cartoons make today’s readers cringe. The University Archives holds the Sphinx and Octopus (and is seeking more issues); Special Collections holds a large collection of campus humor magazines from other institutions as assembled and donated to the Libraries by John and Barbara Dobbertin.

Most of the editors of such magazines were well aware of counterpart publications at other institutions. Indeed, “exchange” issues and columns admitted to the common practice
of raiding other campus humor magazines for material. The Dobbertin collection yields, among others, an issue of Pitt Panther from the University of Pittsburgh for October 1923, containing "Have You Heard This One?" Its sources included the Octopus (and be forewarned -- the sentiment is both dated and sexist).



The "exchange issues" for the Stanford Chaparral for April 1949 



and April 1950 also drew on the Octopus





We invite your additions to these collections: issues of the University of Wisconsin Octopus and Sphinx to the University Archives and issues of campus humor magazines from other institutions to Special Collections. Cheers!




Monday, September 8, 2014

Extinct Birds & Rare Books: The Example of the Great Auk

In conjunction with the first event of the fall semester sponsored by the Friends of the UW-Madison Libraries, we will make available in our reading room rare books depicting bird species now extinct. A key source for this topic is Extinct birds by baron Lionel Walter Rothschild (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1907), part of the Thordarson Collection and available as well through UW Digital Collections. The subtitle of Rothschild's book told a depressing tale: "An attempt to unite in one volume a short account of those birds which have become extinct in historical times--that is, within the last six or seven hundred years. To which are added a few which still exist, but are on the verge of extinction."

One of these species was the great auk, or Alca impennis. Rothschild, a noted zoologist and collector, had in fact two specimens of the great auk in his own collection, noting that "The remains of the Great Auk and its eggs in collections are more numerous than one would think, considering the enormous prices paid for mounted specimens and eggs."

His book, filled with accounts of descriptions and illustrations of extinct birds as published in earlier books, pointed to a slightly confusing description and depiction of the great auk in the Exoticorum libri decem of Carolus Clusius (1605), who thought the bird a native of North America and called it a "Mergus Americanus." Rothschild did allow that the depiction in Clusius' work -- a woodcut -- was "a rather poor but perfectly recognizable figure" of the great auk.



Rothschild went on to credit the Museum Wormianum (1655), an account of the collection assembled by the Danish physician  naturalist, and university administrator Ole Worm (latinized as Olaus Wormius), with the "first comparatively good figure," by which Rothschild meant illustration, "from a specimen brought alive from the Faroe Islands."




Rothschild went on, "Curiously enough the figure shows a white ring round the neck, which no Great Auk, of course, possesses." Other authors have called attention to the fact that Worm kept the bird as a pet, hence the white collar around its neck. From my point of view, it is at least as interesting that the copperplate engraving of the great auk in the Museum Wormianum was one of the few engravings in this title, otherwise filled with woodcuts.

Worm (1588-1654) and his collection have attracted attention from historians of museums, art historians, historians of science, and artists. In turn, we call your attention, for example, to a history of Danish museums by Gudmund Boesen (gift of the William Reeder family to the Special Collections reference collection); reconstructions of Worm's museum by artists like Rosamond Purcell; and scholarship by historians of science and medicine like Jole Shackelford, who earned his Ph.D. from UW-Madison's department of history of science.

***

Many of the volumes we will show at the event on Tuesday, September 9, 2014, hail from the Thordarson Collection, rich as it is with lavishly illustrated works on ornithology. Others come from various other collections in the Department. Titles include:
  • Clusius, Carolus. Exoticorvm libri decem. Antwerp: Ex officinâ Plantianâ Raphelengii, 1605. Call number: LV L49 Cutter oversize.
  • Nieremberg, Juan Eusebio, S.J. Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta. Antwerp: Ex officina Plantiniana Balthasaris Moreti. 1635. Call number: 1195438 non-current oversize.
  • Piso, Willem, et al. De Indiae utriusque re naturali et medica: Libri quatuordecim, quorum contenta pagina sequens exhibit. Amsterdam: Apud Ludovicum et Danielem Elzevirios, 1658. Call number: +LV +P67.
  • Worm, Ole. Museum Wormianum, seu, Historia rerum rariorum. Leiden: Ex Officina Elseviriorum, 1655. Call number: CA 15474 oversize. Bound with other titles.
  • Willughby, Francis. Ornithologiæ libri tres. London: Impensis Joannis Martyn, Regiæ Societatis typographi, 1676. Call number: 715372 non-current oversize.
  • Willughby, Francis. The ornithology of Francis Willughby. Additions by John Ray. London: Printed by A.C. for John Martyn, printer to the Royal Society ... , 1678. Call number: Thordarson T 2609 oversize.
  • Catesby, Mark. The natural history of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands. 2 vols. London: Printed for Charles Marsh ... Thomas Wilcox ... and Benjamin Stichall ... , 1754. Call number: Thordarson T 505-506 flat.
  • Wilson, Alexander. American ornithology; or, The natural history of the birds of the United States: Illustrated with plates, engraved and colored from original drawings taken from nature. 9 vols. Philadelphia: Bradford and Inskeep, 1808-1814. Call number: Thordarson T 2610-2618 flat.
  • Audubon, John James. The birds of America: From drawings made in the United States and their territories. First octavo edition. New York: J.J. Audubon; Philadelphia: J.B. Chevalier, 1840-44. 7 vols. Thordarson T 152-158. 
  • Gould, John. The birds of Australia. 7 vols. London: Printed by Richard and John E. Taylor; pub. by the author, 1848-1869. Call number: Thordarson T 1747-1754 flat plus supplement. 
  • Strickland, Hugh Edward. The dodo and its kindred. London: Reeve, Benham, and Reeve, 1848. Call number: QE872 C7 S8 oversize.
  • Carroll, Lewis. Alice's adventures in Wonderland. With forty-two illustrations by John Tenniel. London: Macmillan, 1877. Call number: CA 6319.
  • Rothschild, Lionel Walter Rothschild, baron. Extinct birds. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1907. Call number: Thordarson T 1496 oversize.
  • Brink, Carol Ryrie. Caddie Woodlawn. New York: Macmillan, 1961. Cairns Collection PS3503 R56 C33 1961. 
We encourage you to attend the event on September 9, and then to revisit these titles, like others in the holdings of the Department of Special Collections, in our reading room, open Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Matter of Scale: The Flamingo in Audubon's Birds of America

On display through August 1 (this Friday!) in our exhibit "Books of Nature" is the magnificent illustration of the American flamingo in Audubon's double-elephant folio Birds of America. Our copy (in four volumes) of Audubon's Birds is part of the Thordarson Collection, which includes many titles with hand-colored ornithological illustrations.

The flamingo, like the other birds depicted in Audubon's masterwork, was shown at life size. For small and medium birds, pages of rather smaller compass would have sufficed. Not so for large birds  like the eagle, cranes, egrets, and the flamingo, which filled, or more than filled, the oversize pages -- hence Audubon's insistence on using the paper designated as double elephant folio. Our copy, for example, is 100 centimeters tall.

Despite the generous size of the pages, the flamingo was one of those birds that required a particular pose to allow it to be depicted at life size. What Audubon called the American flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber, Linn., Old Male) was shown in plate CCCCXXXI (431) with a gracefully bent neck, the better to feed in shallow lagoons and lakes. Here is a closeup of the head of the "Old Male," close by its foot:


close-up view of flamingo from Audubon's double elephant folio Birds of America (Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison)


Modern sources indicate that the male American, or common, or Caribbean flamingo is some 40-48 inches tall, weighs 8 pounds, and has a wingspan of 5 feet. In Audubon's companion textual work, Ornithological biography, he wrote of the flamingo's "glowing tints" and wingspan of 66 inches, and described the flamingo's nest as no bigger than the crown of a hat.

In the first octavo edition of the Birds, published in New York in 1840-1844 in 7 volumes, the lavish illustrations of the double elephant folio were redone at approximately 1/4 of the original size, but still handcolored. Our copy of this octavo edition, likewise from the Thordarson Collection, is 26 centimeters tall, and depicts the flamingo in a similar pose:



This octavo edition adds 65 images to the 435 of the double elephant folio edition, with text revised from that in the Ornithological biography, and rearranged according to Audubon's one-volume Synopsis of the Birds of North America of 1839, itself only 22 centimeters tall.

***

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has other associations with the flamingo. The UW Digital Collections contain images from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Zoological Museum Galapagos Collections, including this photograph of the Phoenicopterus ruber (greater flamingos) taken by Helene Marsh in Ecuador in 1991.

photograph of the Phoenicopterus ruber (greater flamingos) taken by Helene Marsh in Ecuador in 1991, digitized as part of the UW-Madison Zoological Museum Galapagos Collections, UW Digital Collections

And, famously, the Pail and Shovel Party populated Bascom Hill with more than a thousand plastic pink flamingos to greet students on the first day of classes in 1979. For more information, see the Wisconsin Historical Society description of their plastic flamingo from the episode, itself derived from the wonderfully titled history of college pranks, Neil Steinberg's If at all possible, involve a cow (1992). The stunt still held appeal in 1990, when a graduate's mortarboard featured a balloon version, as shown on the homepage for the University Archives.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

1914-2014: Commemorating an Event in Sarajevo

This past weekend, news outlets noted an important anniversary: the centenary of the assassination in Sarajevo of archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, an event generally identified as precipitating what we now know as World War I.

While there are many depictions of this critical event on June 28, 1914, we call attention here to what transpired in Sarajevo just a few minutes prior.


This image, showing the departure from Sarajevo's town hall of the archduke, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie, is one of hundreds of picture postcards in the Andrew Laurie Stangel Collection (call number CA 17439) in the Department of Special Collections. As Dr. Stangel describes the card, “Shortly before this scene was photographed, a bomb was thrown at the open touring car in which archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were riding as their motorcade entered Sarajevo and proceeded along the north bank (Appel Quay) of the Miljacka River towards the Town Hall. The bomb exploded without injury to the archduke and his wife; it wounded instead a senior officer in the car behind them.”

More than 200 of the postcards from the Stangel Collection have been expertly digitized by the UW Digital Collections Center — and are available as “The Fine Art of Propaganda, Hand-Delivered: GREETINGS FROM THE FATHERLAND!: German Picture Postcards and History, 1914-1945.” A search there for the keyword “Sarajevo” will yield more images relevant to the events leading up to the guns of August 1914.

We call your attention as well as to the forthcoming exhibit “1914: Then Came Armageddon” in the Department of Special Collections, along with the larger World War I collection within the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections. One of the books to be displayed reproduces work of the photographic section of the French army, source of the image below; the whole work is also available through the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections.



Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Mendota Seminar, the Works of Shakespeare, and Special Collections

We are delighted to welcome to Special Collections one session of this summer's Mendota Seminar and to continue our collaboration with Prof. Josh Calhoun of the Department of English, who has made much use of our holdings in his teaching and has encouraged his students to dig deeper into aspects of print culture in Shakespeare's time (and beyond).


The Mendota Seminar session will showcase some of our holdings of Shakespeare's works and underscore opportunities for undergraduate and graduate teaching using rare books and manuscripts. Watch this space for details about the books Prof. Calhoun's students will be describing to seminar participants.

We also call to your attention Dennis Chaptman's University of Wisconsin-Madison news item "Rare texts, technology tell Shakespeare’s story in seminar" and Tom Ziemer's piece (on the website of the College of Letters and Science at UW-Madison) about Prof. Calhoun and the continuing relevance of Shakespeare's "rich tapestry."

On Saturday Mendota Seminar participants will see, among other examples of Shakespeare's "enduring legacy," our copy of the Second Folio.

title page of Shakespeare's Second Folio
 


This wonderful volume, the very generous gift of Ann Nelson, was profiled in the magazine of the Friends of the UW-Madison Libraries (pp.  8-9) in 1997. Ann Nelson made the gift to Special Collections in memory of her late husband, Prof. Harold "Bud" Nelson, who was director of the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 1966 to 1975 and was a member of its faculty for 26 years. Ann Nelson served as president of the board of the Friends of the UW-Madison Libraries in 2001-2002.

The volume, which features a binding by the firm Riviere & Son of London,

detail from inside front cover of Shakespeare's Second Folio, showing "Bound by Riviere & Sons"

was once owned by John Horne Tooke (1736–1812), described by Michael T. Davis in the Oxford dictionary of national biography as a "radical and philologist," who devoted "much attention to the etymologies of words and grammatical standards concerning prepositions and conjunctions." We see evidence of this fine attention to detail in Tooke's annotations in our copy of the Second Folio.


John Horne Tooke's annotations on "The Tragedie of Troylus and Cressida" (sic) from Shakespeare's Second Folio




 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pi Day in Special Collections

In honor of Pi Day (March 14 = 3/14) we offer two excerpts from 18th-century mathematics books in our holdings. The first, from a work by David Gregory (1659-1708) published in English translation as A treatise of practical geometry in three parts (Edinburgh, 1745),



addressed the problem of finding the circumference of a circle knowing its diameter.


Gregory (or his translator) did not use the word pi or the Greek character π in this context, referring instead to the work of the 17th-century Dutch mathematician Ludolf van Ceulen establishing the quantity with much greater precision than our shorthand approximation to two decimal places (3.14).  (The passage in question used a rather odd Latinized form of van Ceulen's first name). Special Collections also holds an 18th-century edition of van Ceulen's work.

In a foldout plate in his Geometrical and graphical essays of 1791,


the instrument-maker George Adams (1750-1795) included diagrams of polygons inscribed in a circle or circumscribing it:  


Thanks to Anthony Lattis for zeroing in on Gregory's and Adams' treatments of π.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Event Celebrating Acquisition of Woodland Pattern Book Center Archive

Handprinted keepsake from Silver Buckle Press commemorating the UW-Madison Libraries’ acquisition of the Woodland Pattern archive

Woodland Pattern Book Center
Poetry for 30 Years and Beyond

Please join us for a discussion with
Woodland Pattern Book Center founders
Anne Kingsbury & Karl Gartung and
literary program director Chuck Stebleton

Thursday, February 13, 2014, 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Department of Special Collections
984 Memorial Library
University of Wisconsin – Madison Libraries 

Woodland Pattern Book Center has been (and continues to be) a literary mainstay in the Riverwest neighborhood in Milwaukee. For more than 30 years it has played host to many poets, writers, and artists, giving them the opportunity to read and exhibit their work. UW-Madison Libraries recently acquired the Woodland Pattern Book Center archive. We are honored to preserve and share this institution’s history.

Founders Anne Kingsbury and Karl Gartung will talk about the genesis and growth, joys and challenges of Woodland Pattern. Chuck Stebleton, Woodland Pattern’s literary program director, will join the conversation to talk about past programming and the future of Woodland Pattern.



A large exhibit, “Woodland Pattern Broadsides: Thirty Years of Poets Reading,” is on display in Special Collections through March 7, 2014. http://specialcollections.library.wisc.edu/exhibits/ 

A handprinted keepsake from Silver Buckle Press commemorating the UW-Madison Libraries’ acquisition of the Woodland Pattern archive will be available at the event.

More information on the acquisition: “UW–Madison Libraries acquire archive of Milwaukee’s Woodland Pattern Book Center.” http://library.wisc.edu/news/2013/11/07/uw-madison-libraries-acquire-archive-of-milwaukees-woodland-pattern-book-center/

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A "Hard Frost" and George Cruikshank

An exhibit in Special Collections several years ago, entitled "Stormy Weather," featured a case with volumes of George Cruikshank's Comic almanackone per month with appropriate weather highlighted. As we shiver through another January cold snap in Madison, we recall the entry for the month of January 1836:


The image, "sketched and etched" by Cruikshank, came with doggerel consistent with the publication's purpose as an "ephemeris in jest and earnest":


This set of the Comic almanack, part of the Thordarson Collection in the Department of Special Collections, features triple copies of each illustration, one hand-colored. Shown here for comparison are the uncolored versions of January -- "Hard Frost."  



A checklist is available to document the "Stormy Weather" exhibit, curated in 2007 by Sarah Boxhorn (Potratz).


Friday, December 27, 2013

A change in the weather

Winter weather in Madison -- of which we've had plenty recently -- usually brings a dramatic drop in humidity. And apropos of humidity, we noted a relevant book in our holdings by the Swiss natural philosopher and geologist, Horace Bénédict de Saussure (1740-1799). De Saussure is credited with building the first comparable hair-tension hygrometer in 1783; and here, in our copy of his Essais sur l'hygrométrie (Neuchatel: S. Fauche, 1783), a fanciful engraving introduced his innovation.

fanciful engraving showing the making of a hair-tension hygrometer. From De Saussure, Essais sur l'hygrométrie (Neuchatel: S. Fauche, 1783), Department of Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison.


The putti (the Italian word describing chubby male children, usually nude and often with wings, depicted in works of art in the early modern era) shown here were evidently helping to make such a hygrometer: one wielded scissors to cut some strands of the hair of the other for use in the instrument. In the standard version of the hair-tension hygrometer, a long strand of hair, under tension with a thread and weight, expands and contracts in length with changes in humidity. After describing what called his "new comparable hygrometer," de Saussure addressed theories of hygrometry and barometry and their application to meteorology.

For more on de Saussure and other 18th-century natural philosophers who made of the weather a kind of experimental physics. see, for example, Theodore Feldman, "Late Enlightenment meteorology," in The quantifying spirit in the 18th century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 143-177. And J. L. Heilbron explores the role of putti in the depiction of experiments in "Domesticating science in the eighteenth century," in Science and the visual image in the Enlightenment, ed. William R. Shea, European studies in science history and the arts, 4 (Canton, Mass.: Science History Publications, 2000), 1-24.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Congratulations, McSweeney's!

We join in congratulating McSweeney's on 15 years of publishing, and point to the NPR interview with its founder, Dave Eggers.
In the interview Eggers mentioned one issue in a substantial box "with a head painted on it." Shown here is that issue on the shelf with other issues in the complete run, part of the Little Magazines collection in Special Collections.

part of the complete run of McSweeney's, Little Magazines collection, Department of Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Last Week for Exhibit "On the Sunny Side"

This will be the last week for our exhibit "On the Sunny Side," showcasing books, periodicals, manuscripts, photographs, and other materials from Special Collections and University Archives.
As the hours of sunshine diminish, we all may find ourselves more aware of the impact of daylight (sunlight!) hours on daily life. We invite you this week to take a few minutes to walk to Memorial Library and visit the exhibit on the 9th floor.

detail from geocentric depiction of eclipses as contained in MS 83 (1570), Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison. See also http://specialcollections.library.wisc.edu/exhibits/sacrobosco/index.html

Shown here is a detail from a geocentric depiction of eclipses as contained in an Italian manuscript of 1570 (written some decades after the publication of Copernicus' treatise on the revolutions of the heavenly bodies). This manuscript, along with other editions of, and commentaries on, the late medieval text "On the sphere" by Joannes de Sacro Bosco (or Sacrobosco), has found use already this semester by students in History of Science 323 (the Scientific Revolution), as taught by Prof. Florence Hsia with Robin Rider. For more from our holdings of such works, see the small online exhibit "Sacrobosco and His Commentators."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Orreries, from our Current Exhibit, "On the Sunny Side"

Copernican model orrery, shown in exhibit case with 18th-century books on orreries

In our current exhibit entitled "On the Sunny Side," we're pleased to be able to display a "Copernican model orrery" kindly lent to us by Jim Lattis, co-founder and director of UW Space Place. This model orrery was produced by the Trippensee Planetarium Company of Saginaw, Michigan, and appears to be made of something like Bakelite. At its center is a bright yellow sun, with planets on movable arms surrounding it. For much of the 20th century, the Trippensee Planetarium Company manufactured astronomy models. 
Accompanying the orrery in the exhibit are several 18th-century publications in English about orreries and other astronomical instruments used for observation and demonstration. We call your attention here to one of them, a relatively rare edition of an elementary textbook, An easy introduction to mechanics, geometry, plane trigonometry, measuring heights and distances, optics, astronomy [etc.] by James Ferguson (1710-1776), published in 1768 in London. It contains an advertisement for devices and aids to learning astronomy – notably, what were called “Cards of astronomy, and a living orrery, made with sixteen school-boys.”

As the text explains, the cards would carry "the names and periods" of planets and moons in the solar system," and each of the boys would hold a card corresponding to a planet or moon. "Now begin your play, fix your boys in their circles, each with his card in his hand, and then put your orrery in motion." With sufficient repetition, this game, the author claimed, would fix "clear and sure ideas of the solar system." A "seventeenth boy of a large size must be used for the sun in the  center" (pp. xx-xxi). We're just sorry that the volume contained no illustration of such a living orrery!
Others at the time were less enthusiastic about its pedagogical value. An anonymous reviewer in The monthly review. Or, literary journal by "Several Hands" (July 1768) could not "altogether approve" of the living orrery, thinking it "a crude and trivial performance." Not only that, but if the boys were to "act the diurnal as well as the annual motions (in which case it would resemble a dervises [dervish's] dance), the whole solar system would be liable to a vertigo, and all the planets would drop from their respective orbits" (p. 64).

A sidenote: Although James Ferguson is well-represented in ECCO, that is, the extensive compilation Eighteenth-century collections online, this Easy introduction (London, 1768) does not currently appear there. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Image from Kircher's "Ars magna lucis et umbrae" Featured in New Book

A large foldout engraving from our copy of Athanasius Kircher's Ars magna lucis et umbrae, in X. libros digesta, published in Amsterdam in 1671, is featured on the dustjacket of a new book, To overcome oneself: The Jesuit ethic and spirit of global expansion 1520-1767, by Prof. J. Michelle Molina of Northwestern University.

Shown here are the two overlapping images from Kircher's book (our overhead scanner especially designed for rare books, even large ones, could not readily accommodate the unwieldy original, hence the need for two images)

part of a foldout engraving suggesting the extent of the Jesuit enterprise, from Athanasius Kircher's Ars magna lucis et umbrae, in X. libros digesta (1671), from the Department of Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison.


part of a foldout engraving suggesting the extent of the Jesuit enterprise, from Athanasius Kircher's Ars magna lucis et umbrae, in X. libros digesta (1671), from the Department of Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison.


along with the adaptation for the dustjacket of Prof. Molina's book.


dustjacket illustration for J. Michelle Molina, To overcome onself: The Jesuit ethic and spirit of global expansion 1520-1767

The image in full presents the extent of the Jesuit enterprise as a tree, with Rome at its center (indeed, its trunk) and far-flung branches. See, for example, references to the Jesuit presence in Canada, Brazil, and China in this detail from the upper half of the engraving:

detail showing Canada, Brazil, and China, from a foldout engraving suggesting the extent of the Jesuit enterprise, from Athanasius Kircher's Ars magna lucis et umbrae, in X. libros digesta (1671), from the Department of Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison



Prof. Molina spoke in Memorial Library in fall 2011 in the Science and Print Culture workshop organized by Prof. Florence Hsia of the UW-Madison history of science department. That workshop, sponsored by the Center for the Humanities as part of its A. W. Mellon Workshop program, took advantage of a large exhibit in Special Collections entitled "Jesuits and the Construction of Knowledge, 1540-1773."

A digital humanities project in the Libraries, a joint undertaking of the Department of Special Collections and the UW Digital Collections Center, is producing a searchable database of early modern Jesuit iconography pertaining to scholarship and travel, drawing on the extensive holdings in Special Collections of illustrated works by Jesuit authors. A prototype of the database is available.

Monday, June 17, 2013

"Archives & Agential Life" Workshop

Participants in a recent workshop entitled "Archives & Agential Life" made enthusiastic use of the holdings of Special Collections. Co-directed by Prof. Theresa Kelley of UW-Madison's Department of English and Prof. Deirdre Lynch of the University of Toronto, the workshop included ample time to discuss precirculated papers, an archival walk arranged by Carrie Roy of the Libraries and the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, and afternoons spent in Special Collections exploring a wide array of "archival objects" within our holdings.




Those archival objects ranged from the 18th century through the early 20th century, and included objects as diverse as


end of a letter from Boulton and Barker to Sir J. Banks regarding Icelandic affairs, Dec. 5, 1809, from MS 3, Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Participants then presented an archival object of their choosing "as a material and theoretical focus of inquiry" at the final workshop session, held at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. Since the intent is to convert presentations at the workshop into a publication, we won't steal the participants' thunder by previewing their choices. But it is clear they enjoyed the opportunity to examine


and explain archival objects.


Thanks to library colleague Susan Barribeau for the last of these photos.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Highlighting Private Presses from Wisconsin

To accompany the multi-venue exhibit “Text Support: A Library Exhibit About Paper,” a small exhibit in the lobby of Memorial Library recently offered  a small sampler of output from some of Wisconsin’s innovative private presses, ranging from the early years of the 20th century to the early years of the 21st.

Black Mesa Press, Madison, Wisconsin
Centennial Press, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Juniper Press, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Juniper Press, Madison, Wisconsin
Midnight Paper Sales, Stockholm, Wisconsin
Northeast/Juniper Books, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Perishable Press, Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Philosopher Press, Wausau, Wisconsin
Quixote Press, Madison, Wisconsin
Red Ozier Press, founded in Madison, Wisconsin
Salient Seedling Press, Madison, Wisconsin
Silver Buckle Press, Madison, Wisconsin
Sutton Hoo Press, La Crosse, Wisconsin

All the works that were included in this display hail from the holdings of Special Collections. Susan Barribeau and Robin Rider, who curated the Wisconsin private press display, invite you to examine other examples of fine printing in the Special Collections reading room.

In this, the first in a series of posts about our private press holdings, we highlight the Black Mesa Press, founded in Madison in 1981 by poet Charles Alexander. The exhibit included three works from the Press:

Oppen, Mary. Mother and daughter and the sea: Poems. 1981. Our copy is no. 128 of 150.

Title page opening from Mary Oppen, Mother and daughter and the sea: Poems (Black Mesa Press, 1981). From Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison.



Drachler, Rose, and Jacob Drachler. For witches. 1982. Our copy is no. 88.

Foldout page opening from Rose Drachler and Jacob Drachler, For witches  (Black Mesa Press, 1982). From Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison.



Barrows, Anita, et al. The limits. 1982. The Libraries hold two copies: one in Special Collections, the other in the Kohler Art Library.

Front cover from Anita Barrows, et al., The limits ( (Black Mesa Press, 1982). From Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison.



The Libraries' holdings of Black Mesa Press run from 1981 to 1984. In that year Charles Alexander moved to Tucson, Arizona, where he established the Chax Press.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gallery Talk on Thursday, May 30, at 2 P.M.

Please join us on Thursday, May 30, at 2 p.m. in Special Collections (976 Memorial Library) for a gallery talk about the current exhibit, "Text Support: A Library Exhibit About Paper." Tracy Honn of Silver Buckle Press and Lyn Korenic of Kohler Art Library, guest co-curators for this exhibit, will highlight favorite items on display and point to the variety of collections on campus containing relevant books, printed ephemera, and archival materials.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Shawn Sheehy to Speak on Tuesday, May 14, on "Concept to (Political) Action: Pop-Up Artists’ Books"

Please join us on Tuesday, May 14, 12:00–1:30 pm, for an artist talk by Shawn Sheehy: "Concept to (Political) Action: Pop-Up Artists’ Books. The talk, in 126 Memorial Library, 728 State Street, is one in a series of events surrounding the multi-venue "Text Support: A Library Exhibit About Paper."



This intricate example of Sheehy's paper engineering, currently on exhibit in Special Collections as part of "Text Support," hails from the large artists' book collection in Kohler Art Library

An earlier exhibit in Special Collections, "Lothar Meggendorfer and Movable Books" (2006),  showcased color lithographic proof sheets of movable children's books from the Lothar Meggendorfer Collection. Meggendorfer (1847-1925) created more than 100 children's books over the course of his career, many in multiple editions and translations. To set Meggendorfer's own paper engineering in context, this earlier exhibit also contained books with movable parts from the Renaissance through the 21st century, including treatises on cosmography, geometry, landscape design, and the automobile, as shown here:\


This multi-part illustration of the Daimler automobile comes from Les transformateurs d’énergie: Générateurs, accumulateurs, moteurs, avec les plus récentes applications à la navigation aérienne, assembled by a committee of engineers and published in Paris in 1910.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

"Jesuits and Visual Culture": Center for Early Modern Studies Conference in Special Collections

On May 7, 2013, Special Collections will host a full-day session of a conference entitled " 'Spiritual Optiks': Jesuits and Visual Culture." This conference, organized by Prof. Sabine Mödersheim, director of the Center for Early Modern Studies (CEMS), builds on scholarly interests across campus as well as the exhibit "Jesuits and the Construction of Knowledge"  in Special Collections in 2011 and an ongoing project to digitize Jesuit iconography through the UW Digital Collections.

The CEMS conference program begins at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 6, 2013, with a public keynote lecture with the intriguing title, "Jesuit Emblems and Catholic Comics," by Laurence Grove, director of the Stirling Maxwell Centre for the Study of Text/Image Cultures at the University of Glasgow. The lecture will be held in room L150 in the Elvehjem building, Chazen Museum.

Conference sessions on Tuesday, May 7 (held in Special Collections, 984 Memorial Library) will feature wide-ranging studies of Jesuit emblematica, analysis of specific images of lunar geography in the 17th century, exploration of a Jesuit "empire of knowledge," and a workshop investigating scholarly possibilities afforded by the UW-Madison digital Jesuit iconography project.

The latter project (undertaken through Special Collections and the UW Digital Collections in collaboration with Prof. Florence Hsia and graduate students Meridith Beck Sayre and Lynnette Regouby from the Department of History of Science at UW-Madison) aims at presenting high-quality digital images of illustrations from our strong holdings of scholarly works by Jesuit authors in conjunction with detailed, searchable descriptions. Such illustrations range from deeply symbolic frontispieces of Jesuit publications on mathematical sciences

engraved title page from the Opera mathematica of Tacquet, held in Special Collections, UW-Madison, and digitized through the UW Digital Collections


to depictions of exotic animals encountered by Jesuit missionaries

What we now call a pangolin, from Tachard's Second voyage to Siam (1689), from Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison

and from fanciful (if mathematically accurate) sundials

Sundial in the shape of a sandal, from Bettini's Aerarium philosophiae mathematicae (1648), held in Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and digitized through the UW Digital Collections

to disembodied diagrams of mechanical experiments.

Fig. 37 in Sturm's  Collegium experimentale, sive curiosum (1701), from the holdings of Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison
 

See the full program for details about the CEMS conference sessions.

Regiomontanus in the Nuremberg Chronicle

In a recent colloquium held in Special Collections, Prof. Michael Shank of the Department of History of Science, pointed out the portrait of the humanist astronomer Regiomontanus included in Hartmann Schedel's Liber chronicarum (1493), the massive volume often called the Nuremberg Chronicle. 


portrait of Regiomontanus, from Hartmann Schedel, Liber chronicarum (1493), Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Although many portraits included in this heavily illustrated work were more generic in nature, and were sometimes recycled for different historical figures, Shank notes that the woodcut portrait of Regiomontanus was probably a faithful likeness, since Schedel and his artist both knew Regiomontanus. For more about this huge volume, see such works as The making of the Nuremberg Chronicle by the noted California printer and book designer Adrian Wilson, available in the reference section in the Special Collections reading room. See also Ezra Brown's English translation (1990) of Ernst Zinner's biography of Regiomontanus.

Much of Shank's lively lecture centered on a manuscript by Regiomontanus, the "Defensio Theonis contra Trapezuntium," or "Defense of Theon against George of Trebizond." A preliminary digital edition of this manuscript, the original of which is held in the Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg branch, is an ambitious joint project undertaken by Shank and Richard Kremer at Dartmouth.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Text Support

Congratulations to Tracy Honn, director of the Silver Buckle Press, and Lyn Korenic, director of Kohler Art Library, on their three-venue exhibit, "Text Support: A Library Exhibit About Paper." The largest of the three parts of the exhibit, currently on display in Special Collections (976 Memorial Library), focuses on history of handmade and commercial paper. The exhibit includes examples ranging from mundane to highly decorative. In the latter category is an instance of decorative endpapers from a German publication of the Weimar period, Paul Renner's Typografie als Kunst (Munich: G. Müller, 1922):

decorative endpaper from from Paul Renner, Typografie als Kunst (1922)

 The same exhibit case, entitled "Decorative Techniques" also contains
The other two portions of the "Text Support" exhibit feature handmade paper with Wisconsin roots (at Kohler Art Library) and examples of paper engineering (Silver Buckle Press display cases on the 2nd floor of Memorial Library).

The recent Schewe Lecture by Timothy Barrett (director of the Iowa Center for the Book), who spoke in eloquent terms of  "The Future of [Handmade] Paper," drew an enthusiastic crowd to Special Collections in conjunction with the exhibit. We call your attention as well to an upcoming lecture by Chicago artist Shawn Sheehy, "Concept to (Political) Action: Pop-Up Artists’ Books," at 12:00 noon on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, in room 126 Memorial Library. Both lectures benefit from the sponsorship of the Friends of the UW-Madison Libraries.

The exhibit runs through the end of June 2013.