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News from the UIUC Rare Book and Manuscript Library

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In This Issue:

  • "From Babylon to Baseball"
    Spring Exhibition Now Open!

  • Valerie Hotchkiss to Teach
    "Anatomy of a Book" for Uni High's
    "Agora Days" Program

  • Crochet Anyone? RBML Welcomes New Collection, the "Tennyson Library of Crochet"

  • Helga Sandburg; Author, Poet, and Carl Sandburg's Youngest Daughter,
    Dies at 95

  • Gwendolyn Brooks Celebration!
    A Special Program of Poetry and Song Thursday, April 24

  • Conservator Henry Hébert to Speak at February 12 No. 44 Society Meeting

  • Spring 2014 No. 44 Society Schedule

  • Visiting Scholar's Will Have Wheels at Their Disposal—Bicycle Wheels That Is!

Spring Exhibition

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, Dennis Sears, and Sarah Lindenbaum

babe ruth

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library has made a number of important book and manuscript additions over the past few years. This exhibition showcases over thirty exciting new pieces.

Collections and items highlighted range from a 4000 year old Babylonian clay tablet to scarce baseball reference works once owned by the American League President's Office. Further exhibits include two Incunabula (pre-1501 imprints), a number of never-before-seen items from the new Gwendolyn Brooks Papers, two recent Carl Sandburg acquisitions, two Theatre Royal, Drury Lane playbills, job printing examples from Californian Peter Koch, and perhaps the only known writing specimen of John Webster, dramatist and contemporary of Shakespeare and author of The Duchess of Malfi (1614).

But wait, there's more!

Also on display are original drawings by the graphic artist and famous Dickens illustrator, George Cruikshank, a letter from Marcel Proust to his close friend Reynaldo Hahn, the fantastic, if not exquisite 1832 book of parrot illustrations by Edward Lear, and a postcard from H. G. Wells to his brother Fred taking credit for the original idea of the atomic bomb.

Please stop by and give these new "Greatist Hits" a look!



"Anatomy of the Book"

RBML Director Hotchkiss
To Teach Special Program for Urbana University High's "Agora Days"

Every spring, Urbana University High holds a four-day program (this year: February 18-21) called "Agora Days" ("Agora" is Greek for "the market"). This break from the regular curriculum involves more than 100 special-interest classes taught by students, parents, alumni and faculty instead of regular classes.

This year, RBML Director Valerie Hotchkiss will teach “Anatomy of a Book” as part of Agora Days. Everyone may know what a book is, right?  But what do 'gutters,' 'fore-edges,' 'diaper stamps,' 'running heads,' quires, and ‘pilcrows' have to do with books?  In this short course, Hotchkiss will teach 13-18 year olds at Uni High about the parts of a book, and introduce them to the most interesting and amusing stories behind these specialized terms. In the last class meeting, they will discuss the amazing staying power of these constituents of the language of bookmaking as they have been repurposed from describing a physical reality and become essential to the virtual world of electronic book production, as well.

crochet magazine

The Tennyson Library of Crochet

Important Collection on Crochet and Related Arts Donated to the Rare Book & Manuscript Library

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has just received a large collection of materials documenting the history and practice of the art of crochet. The collection was donated by Gilbert Witte, long-time employee of the University Library. Named the Tennyson Library of Crochet for Witte’s great-grandmother Flora Emily Tennyson, the collection documents the history and practice of the craft through journals, patterns, samples, and manuals.

The Tennyson Library of Crochet consists of some 7,000 items in all, ranging in date from 1843 to the present. The majority of items comes from the United States, but there are also pieces from Canada, England, Scotland, Australia, France, Japan, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Russia, Sweden, and Argentina.

Witte was inspired in his search for rare and often ephemeral crochet literature by his own interest in learning the craft. Witte’s own library training led him to look for answers in books and journals. He has been systematic in his acquisitions, at one point acquiring another large collection, that of Pauline Claussen of Iowa, to merge with his own.

“Although my collection now resides in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, I still plan on collecting and filling-in gaps,” said Witte, who learned to crochet in 1987. “It is my hope that it will interest and be of value to not only sartorial savants, but also students and scholars of arts and crafts, art history, theater studies, photography, and cultural history.”

“The Tennyson Library of Crochet came with the added bonus that Mr. Witte, a consummate cataloger himself, cataloged and prepared every item for addition to our collection,” said Rare Book & Manuscript Library Director Valerie Hotchkiss. “Not many donors can make such
a claim!” 

The Tennyson Library of Crochet will be featured in a Summer 2014 exhibition in the Main Library called,  “Knot Forgotten: The Tennyson Library of Crochet at Illinois.”


Helga and Carl Sandburg

Helga Sandburg Dies at 95

Writer, Poet,
and Benefactor to The Rare Book & Manuscript Library

We are all saddened in RBML to hear that Helga Sandburg Crile died at her home in Cleveland Heights, Ohio on Sunday evening, January 26, 2014 after a period of failing health. She was a great friend to the Sandburg Collections in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library and donated many materials relating to her father, as well as documents important in her own writing career.

What follows is an abbreviated form of her obituary, provided by her daughter Paula Steichen Polega. Helga is also survived by her son, Dr. John Carl Steichen.

Helga Sandburg was born November 24, 1918 in Maywood, Illinois, the youngest of three daughters. Her father was the poet and historian Carl Sandburg and her mother was Lilian Steichen Sandburg, sister of the photographer, Edward Steichen.  Ms. Sandburg would become the only one of the three Sandburg sisters to marry.

She began her own literary career typing manuscripts for her father in the loft room of a barn at the family’s small farm in Harbert, Michigan. She was close to her family and beloved by both her parents. Her father dedicated several books to her and wrote poems in her honor.  The poem, “Helga,” from Carl Sandburg’s 1920 book, Smoke and Steel, reads:

    The wishes on this child’s mouth
    Came like snow on marsh cranberries;
    The tamarack kept something for her;
    The wind is ready to help her shoes.
    The north has loved her; she will be
    A grandmother feeding geese on frosty
    Mornings; she will understand
    Early snow on the cranberries
    Better and better then.

In 1952, Ms. Sandburg moved to the Washington, DC area, where she worked in the Library of Congress. During these years she began writing seriously, and in 1958 won the Emily Clark Balch prize for her short story, “Witch Chicken,” which had been published in the Virginia Quarterly Review.  Her first novel, The Wheel of Earth, was received enthusiastically by the critics in 1958.

Ms. Sandburg’s literary career eventually included the publication of seventeen books, including novels, memoirs, children’s books, a music book, and several volumes of poetry. Her writing frequently appeared in a variety of publications, including The New Yorker, Harper’s, Saturday Review, the Georgia Review, and Cricket.

In 1963 she married Dr. George Crile, Jr., who was then the Chief of Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, and moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Ms. Sandburg developed a real love for her adopted city, Cleveland, and even after her husband’s death in 1992 she remained in the same home on Kent Road that she and her husband had shared for 29 years.

RBML & Campus to Celebrate the Gwendolyn Brooks Papers

“Full of Pepper and Light: A Celebration of the Poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks”
Thursday, April 24, 2014

Gwendolyn Brooks

The University of Illinois is rolling out a warm welcome for the recently-acquired Gwendolyn Brooks papers.

Mark your calendars for an April 24th, two-part celebration of Brook's life and work!

The afternoon session will feature a lecture by Haki Madhubuti, the former Director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center at Chicago State University and author of over twenty books of poetry and prose.

The evening session in the newly-renovated Lincoln Hall Theater will alternate readings of Brook's poetry with commentary, as well as songs and a performance by a troupe headed by Brook's daughter Nora.

A coalition of planners and performers from English, African-American Studies, Theater, Music, the University Library, and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University are busily rounding the programs and details into shape.

Check our website and future RBML Newsletters for more details.

Next No. 44 Society Meeting

A Talk by University of Illinois Rare Book Conservator Henry Hébert

Please join us Wednesday, February 12 at 3 p.m. in RBML for a presentation by our own ace Rare Book Conservator, Henry Hébert.

Winners of the Fall 2013 Essay Contests will also be announced at the meeting.

Mr. Hébert joined the Conservation Unit of the Library last January after a stint as the Von Clemm Fellow in Book Conservation at the Boston Athenæum. He holds a diploma in book binding from the North Bennet Street School, as well as an MSLS from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

We look foward to his talk and be sure to bring your questions about book preservation and conservation. All are welcome!

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

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
"All the Good Books: Further Confessions of an Unrepentant Bibliophile"

Kevin Graffagnino, Director of the Clements Library at the University of Michigan will give a talk based on his two volumes of book-quotes about books; Only in Books: Writers, Readers & Bibliophiles on Their Passion (1996) and All the Good Books: Quotations for Bibliophiles (2006). If Graffagnino actually wasn’t one of the most humorous bibliophiles in the world, he would prefer to be a point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers.

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.


Wheels for Visiting Scholars
Lynn S. Cline and Daniel D. Shin Donate Bicycles to RBML

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library Is grateful to two generous readers of the Library's "Friendscript" newsletter for Fall 2013 who responded to our plea for a good, sturdy touring bicycle for use of our regular parade of visiting scholars.

And now with two(!) bicycles this will make the lives of the Library’s many scholars from abroad and around the country much more mobile!

Thank you Lynn and Daniel!

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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