Department Blog

Special Collections

Pass It On: Preservation Week, April 24-30, 2011

April 26th, 2011 by Sara Gunasekara

The Society of American Archivists has partnered with the American Library Association, the Library of Congress, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and many other cultural heritage organizations to launch Preservation Week – a national campaign to help raise awareness about collecting and preservation, to connect the general public to preservation information and expertise, and to emphasize the close relationships among personal, family, community, and public collections and their preservation.

Visit the Preservation Week website for more information about the week’s activities. In addition, the Library of Congress Preservation Department website provides  “simple instructions, as well as links to more comprehensive information for “Preparing, Protecting, Preserving” many types of family treasures.”

Arbor Day, 1960

April 21st, 2011 by Sara Gunasekara

In anticipation of National Arbor Day which is celebrated on the last Friday of April, here is a photograph from Arbor Day ceremonies on campus in 1960.

Arbor Day Ceremonies, Dedication of Freeborn Ash Tree, Robbins Hall, Emil Mrak, Stanley B. Freeborn, and unidentified man, 1960 March

Visit Special Collections during Picnic Day Open House

April 12th, 2011 by Sara Gunasekara

Special Collections will be participating in Picnic Day as part of the Shields Library Open House. Shields Library and Special Collections will be open from 11-1 on Saturday, April 16. We will be displaying historic Picnic Day photographs and memorabilia as well as several folio books from our collection. You will also be able to view our new exhibit, More Than Just A Picture.

Below is a preview of one of the Picnic Day images that we will be displaying during the Open House.

Hope to see you on the 97th Picnic Day!

Picnic Day parade float by the School of Veterinary Medicine, 1957

Correspondence from the Civil War

April 12th, 2011 by Sara Gunasekara

One hundred fifty years ago today, on April 12, 1861, the United States Civil War began at Fort Sumter.

Two of our manuscript collections contain correspondence from the Civil War.

The Palmer Family Papers contain twenty-five letters written by or to various members of the Palmer Family during the mid to late nineteenth century. The letters discuss the Civil War and family matters in Ohio and South Carolina. Letters from William Palmer (1823-1862) to Thomas Palmer (1825-1908) illustrate the divisions between the brothers on issues surrounding the Civil War while the letter from J.W. McGuire to Thomas Palmer details the effects of the Battle of Cedar Creek on the Twenty-eighth Iowa Infantry.

The Walker, Spinning, and Durrell Families Papers, contains three letters from and one letter to Hiram Walker (1843-1921) during the time he served as a soldier in the United States Civil War. In his first letter, written in 1862 from a camp near Lexington, Kentucky, Hiram asks his parents to write and tell him if there is “any hope of settling this…for one day we hear it is about over and the next day we hear that England and France is a going to recognize the South.” In 1864, Hiram writes from south of Atlanta to say that they have Atlanta almost surrounded and that they are preparing to go on a big raid. In his last letter, written on April 27, 1865, he informs his parents that they have heard that “old Lee and his [w]hole army surrendered to Grant and Sheridan and that some infernal rascals killed Abe Lincoln and wounded old Seward and his son.”

The magic of Ansel Adams’ photography

April 7th, 2011 by

If you’re curious what the inside of Ansel Adams’ darkroom looked like in the 1960s, click on the following link which will take you to a recent YouTube video created by Marc Silber where he interviews Ansel’s son, Michael Adams, inside Ansel’s former Carmel, CA home (now owned by Michael). Michael gives a tour of his dad’s home and darkroom, and describes being with his father as they stopped the car to quickly shoot Ansel’s most famous Moonrise, Hernandez image before the setting sun disappeared; Michael was only seven years old at the time.

There is some vintage video in the piece showing Ansel printing and processing in that same darkroom, and the darkroom today, looks untouched since Ansel last printed in it. There is also an interesting shot of Ansel’s detailed darkroom notes and diagrams on how he printed his Moonrise image. A straight print from the negative looks nothing like the dramatic effect Ansel achieved through his masterful dodging and burning techniques. He called the negative the score and the print the performance. After taking his famous, 1927 photograph of Half Dome in Yosemite, he changed his career focus from music to Photography.

New Exhibit, More Than Just A Picture

April 4th, 2011 by Sara Gunasekara

Our new exhibit, More Than Just A Picture: A Garden of Graphics in Special Collections, is now up.  In order to be aware of new plant breeds, scientists and growers need to receive accurate renderings of new cultivars. Photographs have been used to provide these renderings since the late nineteenth century. Before the invention of the camera, such renderings came from artists and publishers who specialized in botanical illustration. Artists continue to fill a need in scientific research and they join a small group of fine press printers who find their subject matter in nature. This exhibit offers a selection of images from collections in Special Collections originally made for scholars, growers, and ultimately, collectors.

More Than Just A Picture, located in the display cases in the lobby directly in front of Special Collections, was prepared by University Archivist John Skarstad. The exhibit, which will be up for Spring and Summer Quarters, can be viewed anytime Shields Library is open.

FAQs now on website

April 4th, 2011 by Sara Gunasekara

We have a new page on our website that lists some of our frequently asked questions. Have you ever wondered “What is the oldest item in Special Collections?” Check out the new page for the answer to that question and others!