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Special Collections

50 Features of Special Collections: The Most Popular Book

December 22nd, 2016 by Christine Cheng

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As a “bestseller of the Middle Ages,” the Book of Hours is a prayer book intended for use by ordinary people who are not part of the clergy. The Book allowed Catholics to follow and express their devotion to the Virgin Mary by setting aside certain times throughout the day to recite services. While the Book of Hours may vary from volume to volume, it usually consists of eight different sections: 1) a Calendar, 2) the Gospel Lessons, 3) the Hours of the Virgin, 4) the Hours of the Cross and the Hours of the Holy Spirit, 5) two prayers to the Virgin: Obsecro te (“I beseech thee”) and O intemerata (“O undefiled one”), 6) the Penitential Psalms and Litany, 7) the Office of the Dead, and 8) Suffrages.

The heart of the Book of Hours, originally named after the Hours of the Virgin or the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, consists of eight short services:

These services are actually shortened versions of much longer and more demanding services – the Divine Office – contained in the Breviary, which the clergy were required to recite daily. Both the Breviary and the Book of Hours include prayers, hymns, psalms, and scriptural text. As the language of scholarship during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Books of Hours were typically in Latin; however, special prayers and entire Books could be found in the vernacular. For owners who were illiterate, many could recite most of the prayers in the Book of Hours by memory and use the pictures as reference points.

Since the Book of Hours was initially expensive to produce, it was often handed down and became part of family history. As examples of great works of art, the Books served as objects of religious devotion as well as status symbols. Depending on the wealth of the owners, the Book could include extravagant details such as illuminated initials, decorated borders, and miniature paintings dividing major sections of text, or remain plain with little to no decoration. In more luxurious Books of Hours, owners sometimes paid great amounts to include portraits of themselves or their family emblems in the illustrations. The process for creating a fancy Book of Hours follows:

The material used was vellum, calfskin or sheepskin which had been soaked in a caustic lime solution, scraped and shaved to an even thinness, rubbed smooth with pumice, stretched till dry, and then cut to size. A Book of Hours was prepared by a group of professionals, often in a single workshop under a master. First the text – lettered in uniform calligraphy – was written with a quill pen by a scribe. Then the ornamental borders of styled sprays and branches, of leaves and of flowers, were drawn by a specialist, using red and other colors. The pictures were then painted by another artist, usually the master, and they were sometimes major works of art within the small size of a miniature.

    

The use of gold was applied as gold leaf to decorate the frames of and objects in miniatures, leaves in borders, and to illuminate initials. The Book of Hours in Special Collections was acquired by UC Davis in 1972 at the 8th California Antiquarian Book Fair in San Francisco. In our Book of Hours, there are two miniatures illustrating the Office of the Dead: one shows a king lying in a freshly dug grave in a churchyard while Death, carrying a coffin, stabs his spear at one of the two mourners; the other features Heaven and Hell. Another miniature, the Visitation of the Virgin Mary to St. Anne, shows an angel attending to the Virgin, illustrating the hour of Lauds. We believe our Book was originally owned by Chachere who recorded the births of his 15 children between 1497 and 1520 on additional leaves at the end. For more information about the Book of Hours in Special Collections, please contact speccoll@ucdavis.edu. View our Book of Hours online at the Digital Scriptorium.

    

Works consulted:

Marmion, Simon. Book of Hours. San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 2004.

Backhouse, Janet. Illumination from Books of Hours. London: British Library, 2004.

Backhouse, Janet. Books of Hours. London; Dover, NH: British Library, 1985.

Wieck, Roger S. Time Sanctified: the Book of Hours in Medieval Art and Life. New York: G. Braziller in association with the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1988.

50 Features of Special Collections: The Sacramento Union Records

December 16th, 2016 by Daryl Morrison

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The Sacramento Union was a daily newspaper founded in 1851 in Sacramento, California. It was the oldest daily newspaper west of the Mississippi River before it closed its doors after 143 years in January 1994. For further information about the history of the paper, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sacramento_Union

The Union’s early years are also recognized for its famous contributors who included Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and Dan De Quille. A large bronze of Mark Twain was donated along with the archives. See blog post: Mark Twain Bronze Scuplture

In 2000 a back run of hard copy newspapers and the surviving company archives, including a newspaper clipping subject file and photographs, were donated to UC Davis library. Researchers should know that to access the newspaper articles, they will be referred to microfilm versions of the Sacramento Union available in California libraries as the original newspapers are held in preservation storage.

The Sacramento Union Records at UC Davis do not include the early years, but provide a wealth of information for researchers interested in the Sacramento region in the last quarter of the 20th century. The collection contains some accounting and business records of the newspaper including records that cover the last eighteen months of the newspaper’s struggle to survive. The photograph files run from 1966 to 1994. Many can be accessed back to their articles by the date of the newspaper itself. Possibly one or two photographs were published but a number of images might have been taken by a photographer on his scheduled assignment and not published but are to be found here in negative film strips. Of particular interest are the notes by the editor to the photographer on the photograph file envelopes, indicating exactly what should be photographed and providing insightful notes on the emphasis. These provide an interesting view of photo-journalism.

The clipping files provide subject access for 1972 through 1992. Dates are stamped on most of the clippings and would also be a guide back to the paper. Clippings are arranged alphabetically by subject and evident in the files are the many topics of interest in a city’s history including national and state news, politics, murders, accidents, fires, visiting VIPs, and social and theater and art events.

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Digital versions of the Union are available via the California Newspaper Project and the Library of Congress. The California Newspaper Project has digitized the Sacramento Daily Union for 1851-1899. Search for articles and browse available issues via their website. The Library of Congress Chronicling America Collection has digitized the Sacramento Daily Record-Union for 1880-1891 and the Record-Union for 1891-1899.

Shields Library holds microfilm of the Union for the years 1851-1854; 1856-1864 and 1869-1994.

Holiday hours

December 14th, 2016 by Sara Gunasekara

Special Collections is on intersession hours of 10am-4pm Monday-Friday from December 12-22, 2016 and January 3-6, 2017. We are closed from December 23-January 2, 2017.

 

Happy holidays from all of us in Special Collections!

50 Features of Special Collections: The “Preoccupations of a Generation”

December 5th, 2016 by Christine Cheng
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Protesting the Vietnam war, fighting for civil rights and women’s rights, drug experimentation, free love, and questioning human sexuality and gender roles are examples of some of the issues that people from the counterculture supported during the 1960s. “Counterculture” described the hippie movement and those whose lifestyles and views opposed established norms of society, such as the norms attributed to the traditional values of the American middle-class. Naturally, the art and music from the time period also reflected and expressed the attitudes of this movement.

The Counterculture Poster collection in Special Collections contains posters and cards announcing psychedelic rock concerts and other “happenings” of interest to the American counterculture of the 1960s, mostly in the San Francisco area featuring performances at the Fillmore Auditorium and Avalon Ballroom. Former Humanities and Social Sciences Librarian at Shields Library, Noel Peattie, felt it was important for the Library to acquire and highlight the work of local artists. As a result, the University Library started purchasing the posters as they were beginning to be produced in the ‘60s. Besides buying posters, the library also accepted donations from former faculty members whose students from that time period designed posters that represented the “preoccupations of a generation.” The Library envisioned the collection to be used in the study of graphic arts, art history, as well as researching the 1960s or the mindset and culture of the hippie movement.

Rebelling against the conventions of commercial design, the artists of the posters “went beyond art and advertising” and created a new style to communicate social and political statements of the movement. Messages on the psychedelic posters were hidden in plain view from outsiders through uses and manipulation of lettering, flowing typography, and bright, vibrant colors; text was not readily apparent until a black light was used on some of the posters.

Here are a few examples from the Counterculture Poster collection.

Posters protesting the Vietnam war:

 

silentmajority    nixonimpeachment    fruitsofvictory

 

Psychedelic posters advertising rock concerts:

 

peacock    sutter

 

Reprinted concert poster featuring the artistry of UC Davis undergrad alum, Thomas Morris, for a 1967 Picnic Day Dance with performances by Buffalo Springfield and Moby Grape:

 

buffalospringfield

 

Work cited:

Bachman, Teri R. “Psychedelic Sixties Revisited.” UC Davis Magazine 10, no. 2 (Winter 1992): 22-24.