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News from the UIUC Rare Book and Manuscript Library

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In This Issue:

  • "Life on the Moon" Exhibition Closes December 13

  • "From Babylon to Baseball" Opens
    January 24, 2014

  • Special December Presentations:
    December 5: "DIY (Way) Before Home Depot"
    December 16: "Christmas Spirit(s) of Charles Dickens"

  • "Real Thing" Reading Group to Discuss A Pair of H. G. Wells Short Stories on December 12

  • Annual No. 44 Society "Book Brag" and Holiday Party is December 11

  • Essay Contests for Fall Semester

  • Spring 2014 No. 44 Society Schedule

  • Visiting Scholar Applications Now Open

Current Exhibition
Ending Soon!

Life on the Moon:
Literary and Scientific Speculations

30 August —
13 December 2013

Curated by
Marten Stromberg and
Patrick Fadely

moon and earth

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is collaborating with several local sponsors to offer an exhibition and moon-themed series of events this fall.

The exhibition, Life on the Moon: Literary and Scientific Reflections, highlights the history of scientific and literary speculation about life on the moon. It includes books from the rare book collection at Illinois tracing the history of lunar speculation all the way back to Roman times. Also on display are three artifacts from the Apollo 16 mission, including a moon rock on loan from the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), and two artifacts from Kennesaw State University. Though the events have now all come and gone, the exhibition, notable for both print and Outer Space artifacts, ends soon!

Next Exhibition:

lear parrot

Babylon to Baseball: Recent Additions to the Rare Book & Manuscript Library
24 January —
16 May 2014

Curated by:
Valerie Hotchkiss, Marten Stromberg, Anna Chen, Caroline Szylowicz, Tad Boehmer, Tony Hynes, Chloe Ottenhoff and Sarah Lindenbaum

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library has made a number of important book and manuscript additions over the past few years. This exhibition will showcase over thirty exciting additions to the fold.

With so much to choose from, it also made sense to offer our eight display cases to eight different curators, with each assigned to develop a theme.

Collections and items to be highlighted range from a 4000 year old Babylonian clay tablet to scarce baseball reference works once owned by the American League President's Office.  Also on display will be Incunabula (pre-1501 imprints), items from the new Gwendolyn Brooks papers, recent Carl Sandburg acquisitions, early English playbills, and modern fine press publications. Also represented are original drawings by the graphic artist George Cruikshank, a letter from Marcel Proust, the fantastic Edward Lear book of parrots (1832), and a postcard from H. G. Wells taking credit for the idea of an atomic bomb.

We look forward to showing-off our exciting new works!

The Christmas Spirit

"The Christmas Spirit(s) of Charles Dickens"
A Special Holiday Book Tour Led by Nicolle Rivera

Monday, December 16
3:00 p.m. in RBML

Learn more about “the man who invented Christmas” and see first editions of A Christmas Carol and other Christmas books by Charles Dickens!

Fall Semester 2013
Essay Contests:

The Harris Fletcher Award and
The T.W. Baldwin Prize

To foster the use of primary sources and rare materials, the Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign sponsors two prize competitions each Fall Semester for the best research paper based on original sources from RBML. The prizes, co-sponsored by the The No. 44 Society, include separate judging and prizes for undergraduate (Fletcher Award) and graduate (Baldwin Prize) student papers. Professors in any department may nominate a student’s work. All submissions must be made by faculty (not by the students themselves).

The award for each category is $500. Entries should be emailed to Dennis Sears (dsears (at) illinois (dot) edu), the Rare Book & Manuscript Library's Public Programs Manager, 346 Library, 1408 W. Gregory Dr., Urbana, IL 61801, MC-522. Deadline for entry: 10 January 2014. Winners will be announced at the 12 February 2014 No. 44 Society meeting



Next No. 44 Society Talk,
11 December at 3:00 p.m. in RBML

Annual Book Brag,
& Holiday Cheer Party

Come join us for a Holiday Cheer Party and Book Brag...and we'll celebrate John Milton's Birthday to boot!

Members and all those interested in sharing their book and manuscript collections are invited to bring new and interesting acquisitions for display and holiday cheer braggadocio.

We will also raise a non-alcoholic glass to John Milton, whose birthday is December 9, and maybe brag about him as well!

All are welcome!

The Remaining 2013—2014
Schedule of Meetings of
The No. 44 Society,
a Convivial Confab for Book Collectors

December 11, 2013, 3:00 P.M. in RBM

Come join us for a Holiday Cheer Party and Book Brag. We will also celebrate John Milton's birthday.

February 12, 2014 AT 3:00 P.M. in RBML

Henry Hébert, the Rare Book Conservator at the University of Illinois Library will talk about conservation and care of rare materials. Winners of the 2013 Fall Semester Fletcher and Baldwin Essay contests will also be announced.

March 12, 2014, 3:00 P.M. in RBML

J. Kevin Graffagnino, Director of the Clements Library at the University of Michigan will give a talk entitled; "Bibliophilia to Bibliomania."

April 9, 2014, 3:00 P.M. Field Trip!

Please join us for a field trip to the Fresh Press! Pull a piece of paper and find out more about what's happening in the book arts in our area.

May 14, 2014, 3:00 P.M. in RBML

Paul Gehl, Custodian of the John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing at the Newberry Library in Chicago will talk about the University of Illinois Cavagna Collection.


"Real Thing" Reading Group
Program #3

Two H. G. Wells Short Stories:
The Country of the Blind, and
The Door in the Wall
To be Discussed Thursday, December 12
at 4 p.m. in RBML

The Real Thing Reading Group meets during the academic year to discuss books for which the Rare Book & Manuscript Library holds the manuscript (usually the author’s own!). To date, we have read works by Carl Sandburg, H.G. Wells, and Washington Irving, among others.

This year’s third meeting will be held at 4 p.m. on Thursday, December 12 in RBML. We will be discussing two H. G. Wells short stories for which we have the author's manuscripts.

Professor Charles Blair, our resident Wells expert, has agreed to share the findings from his close study of the manuscripts. The manuscripts will also be on display for this sessino.

The stories are available in these formats and from these sources:

Project Gutenberg: Country of Blind" starts on page 285 and "Door in the Wall" on page 273. (Here you'll find that Wells also wrote a long preface about short stories in general.)

Amazon for Kindle, in hardback, in paperback, or as audio book:

Anna Chen teaching a class

Visitors of All Ages!

Classes and Presentations in RBML for the 9 to 99 Set!

Special December Sessions Close out the Fall Semester

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library staff teach over 200 groups a year using rare books and manuscripts as the primary source documents for fascinating discussions of cultural history. That's nearly one per working day!

This semester has been especially busy.  From an 8th-grade French class to high school sophomores studying Shakespeare to lifelong learners from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, we have astounded, tantalized, and titillated scores of students, faculty, staff, local groups, and other visitors with presentations and study sessions on such topics as: "Travel and Exploration Books;" "Spooky Books" (a Halloween treat!);  "Medieval Manuscripts;" "The Chaos of English Orthography;" our "Calligraphic Collections;" and the "History of Mathematical Printing"—to name only a few of the subjects covered. 

There is still time to get in on at least two more sessions.

On Thursday, December 5, at 3 p.m., Chloe Ottenhoff will show us the history behind the DIY movement with her presentation on "Household Help Manuals."

On Monday, December 16 at 3 p.m., Nicolle Rivera will put everyone in a holiday mood by taking a serious look at “The Christmas Spirit(s) of Charles Dickens.”

All are welcome!


Rare Book & Manuscript Library Invites Visiting Scholar Applications

The John "Bud" Velde Visiting Scholars Program

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library annually awards two stipends of up to $3,000 to scholars and researchers, unaffiliated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who would like to spend a month or more conducting research with our materials.

Information about this program and how to apply is found on our Web site at:, or contact the Public Programs Manager Dennis Sears (dsears (at) illinois (dot) edu) with further questions. Deadline for application is:
*1 February 2014*

Rare Book & Manuscript Library
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

346 Main Library, 1408 W. Gregory Drive., Urbana, IL 61801 MC-586
217-333-3777    Ask A Curator

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