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News from the UIUC Rare Book and Manuscript Library

 April 2015

(Best viewed online)

In This Issue:

  • Spring Exhibition Looks at Lincoln's Assassination and Burial

  • Camp Cursive Returns!

  • Student Spotlight on Nate Evans, RBML Cataloging Graduate Assistant

  • Poplin & Paper: Four Centuries of Fashion in Print

  • Global Audience Discovers RBML Treasures Online

  • Recent Acquisitions

  • Spring Schedule of RBML Events

  • Award for "Rare" Student Projects

  • Don't Forget to Register Your Research Account with RBML!


Spring 2015 Exhibition Commemorates Lincoln's Assassination

"A Nation In Tears" on Exhibit Until May 4

A Nation in Tears Music

150 years have passed since the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. To mark this milestone, the Rare Book & Manuscript Library's Spring Exhibition has been curated by John Hoffmann, head of the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections at the University of Illinois Library.

A Nation in Tears: 150 Years After Lincoln’s Death, opened on Lincoln's birthday and will close on May 4, the anniversary of the day of the President's burial in Springfield, Illinois.

Special programming is also scheduled for the exhibition. On April 17, Guy Fraker, author of Lincoln's Ladder to the Presidency: The Eighth Judicial Circuit (2013), will talk about the long, sad journey of the President's funeral train from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, IL. 

A handout was produced to accompany the exhibition and it can be viewed at:



Student Spotlight

Nate Evans, RBML Cataloging Graduate Assistant

NateNate Evans is a first-year GSLIS student in the Special Collections Certificate program and the cataloging graduate assistant in RBML. Nate credits his grandmother for inspiring his path to librarianship, “My grandma was a librarian and instilled in me a love of reading and books. During high school I worked at a small, independent bookstore. It was inevitable that I would end up in Library Science.” 

After learning the ropes by enhancing existing catalog records, Nate cataloged the Baseball Collection, items from the Cavagna Collection, and the Alvin Doyle Moore Graphic Design Collection. Nate notes, “Catalogers are on the front lines, we are the first people to really go through the books. It’s humbling to be around these materials because I learn something new every day. I feel so lucky to be able to work in RBML and go to school at the same time, because I have learned so much about librarianship as a result.” After graduation Nate plans to pursue a career in a special collections library, “I want to be in an environment where I can help people learn. It is exciting to be a part of making truly incredible materials accessible to people.”


Follow us on Social Media!

Global Audience Discovers RBML Treasures Online

One of our latest projects involves harnessing the power of social media to increase access to our collections by sharing our treasures with the entire world! We reach a broad audience through Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and WordPress, and strive to feature a diverse lineup of posts that highlight the many facets of our collection. We enjoy engaging with our virtual readers, some of whom have been enticed to visit RBML in person after reading our posts.

For example, the catalogers of the Cavagna Collection (recipients of a 2015 CLIR Hidden Collections grant) have been working to showcase the collection’s diverse, yet focused holdings. Recent posts cover Cavagna’s collecting on the history of southern Italy (he primarily collected on northern Italy), 18th-century Crypto-Jewish commemorations of Saint Esther in Turin, a treatise on figure painting from Bologna in the form of a dialogue, and an example of 19th-century dialect literature from Milan. Stay tuned as the project continues to uncover more treasures from the Cavagna Collection and as we reassemble a prolific collector’s library and archive of Italian history.


Awards for "Rare" Student Projects

Entries for Essay Contests due May 8

Faculty: It’s time to nominate your best student’s paper or project! To foster the use of primary sources and rare materials, we offer two prizes for the best research paper based on original sources from RBML. The prize for undergraduates is named for Harris Francis Fletcher (1892-1971), professor of English (1926-62), whose John Milton collection is a jewel of the University. The graduate prize honors T. W. Baldwin, who put together a remarkable collection of imprints from the age of Shakespeare. The topic of the winning research paper need not be related to these collections. The award for each category is $500. Professors in any University department may nominate a student’s work. The deadline this year is May 8.


Don't Forget to Register Your Research Account with RBML!

New Online System Makes Visiting and Using our Materials Easier than Ever

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now using an online system to manage patron item and photoduplication requests. The new web interface enables our patrons to request items directly from our online catalog and finding aids for viewing in our reading room, or to place duplication and digital imaging services orders. All this is documented in a personalized web account that keeps track of requests and orders.

Patrons can create their registration profiles and place requests from home and schedule retrieval of the materials. They are also able to view estimated charges and approve final billing for photoduplication requests.

To register and log in, please visit:

You'll be glad you did!


Camp Cursive Recurs! 

RBML Keeps the Art of Reading and Writing in Cursive Alive

Camp Cursive

The handwriting is on the wall. Cursive is no longer taught in many grade schools, and we are discovering that many of our undergraduates cannot read or write cursive. Sure, who cares if you print all your notes—it might look a little childish to old fogies, but what’s the big deal? Fair enough, but what about the ability to read historical documents? Students who cannot read cursive are locked out of doing research on such notable figures in our collections as Carl Sandburg, Gwendolyn Brooks, Anthony Trollope or George Washington simply because they cannot read cursive. We don’t want to allow another generation to grow up without this important research tool, so we are repeating our wildly successful “Camp Cursive.”  Open to kids  ages 8-14, the camp will teach cursive, along with cool things like handwriting analysis and writing with a steel nib.  Saturday, May 2.  To register go to:


Poplin & Paper: Four Centuries of Fashion in Print 

The phrase “fashion plate” is layered with meanings. It is a portrait depicting an outfit that a clothier can supply. It is also frequently used to describe someone who wears the latest styles. But a plate is also a printing term, describing an illustration transferred to paper during the printing process.

RBML’s summer exhibition explores the interdependence between fashion and print to communicate ideas not only about what people wore, but also about those who produced and experienced these images. The exhibition begins with early modern surveys of national costumes, which sought to codify the diverse cultures that Europeans encountered around the world. It then traces emerging interrelationships among fashion plates and the periodical press, commercialism and the performing arts, and the subsequent evolution of various communities of readers and consumers. It culminates in the emergence of fashion photography, a new medium of expression for fashion in print that still shapes its viewers today.

The exhibition is curated by Anna Chen, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts. The exhibition will on view starting May 18, Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5pm, in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Recent Acquisition

German Children's Book Published in Russia

ABC-Buch zum Gebrauch für kleine Kinder (St Petersburg, Karl Kray, 1828).

A charming—and apparently unique ABC for German-speaking children in Russia. Each of the 24 hand-colored engravings shows various objects or activities that begin with a particular letter of the alphabet, ‘A’, depicts Aal (eel), Affe (monkey), Anker (anchor), angeln (fishing) etc. Not listed in the standard bibliography for German ABC books, nor any online library database, it seems to be unique. This fascinating and beautiful book enhances both our children’s collections and our growing collection of unica


The Spring 2015
Schedule of RBML Events


April 8, 2015, 3:00 p.m. in RBML

Caroline Szylowicz (Kolb-Proust Librarian and RBML Curator):

"Marcel Proust's Vanishing Library"

A No. 44 Society Event

Caroline Szylowicz is the Kolb-Proust Librarian and Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at The Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The Kolb-Proust Archive is the largest collection of Proust's correspondence.

Marcel Proust’s life (1871-1922) was defined by reading and writing. He read about writing, and wrote about reading, and wrote about writing. Numerous books have been written about the books he read, and how these books influenced the books he wrote. But what ever became of the books themselves?


 April 17, 2015, 12:00 p.m. in 308 Main Library 

Guy Fraker (Bloomington, IL based lawyer and Lincoln expert):

"The Long, Sad Journey: Lincoln's Funeral Train" 

Join us for a brown bag lunch on April 17 when Guy Fraker, Bloomington-based lawyer and Lincoln expert, will offer a presentation on "The Long, Sad Journey: Lincoln's Funeral Train."  After the presentation, we will  view the current exhibition in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, where the sesquicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's assassination and funeral is commemorated. The exhibition includes photographs of ceremonies in cities along the route of the funeral train from Washington, D.C., to Springfield, Illinois, as well as sermons, hymns, and artifacts which document the nation's mourning.  Come learn more on April 17, 12-1:00pm.  Meet in Room 308 for lunch, after which we will tour the exhibit.


April 23, 2015, 3:00 p.m. in RBML

Shakespeare's Birthday Party!

All are welcome and there'll be cake and ale (non-alcoholic) for those who can recite fourteen lines or more from the immortal Bard!


April 24, 2015, 3:00 p.m. in RBML

Eugene Crook (Florida St. Univ.) and Margaret Jennings (St. Joseph's College):

"The Higden Manuscripts: Notable Endeavors for Pastoral Care in Fourteenth Century England"

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library holds copies of Ranulf Higden's Speculum curatorum (Pre-1650 MS 0072) and Polychronicon (Pre-1650 MS 0132). This talk is co-sponsored by the U of I Program in Medieval Studies.


May 13, 2015, 3:00 p.m. in RBML

Paul T. Ruxin

"Samuel Johnson and the Hookers' Best Friend"

A No. 44 Society Event

For the last meeting of the 2014-15 No. 44 Society season, we welcome Paul T. Ruxin, who will talk about Samuel Johnson and the Revd. William Dodd, supporter of Magdalen Hospital for the Reception of Penitent Prostitutes, founded in 1758. Ruxin's personal collection of the works of Samuel Johnson, James Boswell and their circle is among the most complete in private hands.

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

346 Main Library, 1408 W. Gregory Drive., Urbana, IL 61801 MC-586
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