home Events and Exhibits, Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books Generations: Reproduction, Heredity, and Epigenetics

Generations: Reproduction, Heredity, and Epigenetics

What do old books have to do with cutting-edge science?  More than you might think.

Coste0044This year, the annual Life Sciences and Society Symposium is considering a relatively new scientific field: epigenetics.  "Epigenetics refers to the study of traits that are heritable but not caused by changes in the DNA sequence," writes Dr. Karthik Panchanathan, an assistant professor in the department of anthropology at the University of Missouri.  "In some cases, events that happen during an individual’s life can sometimes result in epigenetic changes that are subsequently heritable. This is a form of Lamarckian inheritance, the idea that an organism can pass on characteristics that it acquired during its lifetime to its offspring."

This year's Life Sciences and Society Symposium considers the implications of epigenetics for human health and behavior.  Speakers will discuss what epigenetics means, how the environment affects genetic expression, and how the fast-changing field of epigenetics is transforming medicine and society.  See a lineup of speakers and register for the symposium on the Life Sciences and Society program website.

Special Collections is participating in the symposium with an exhibition of rare books and an opening lecture to kick off the symposium week. Although the scientific study of epigenetics dates only to the middle of the twentieth century, scientists have puzzled over related questions of heredity and development for hundreds of years.  Does it matter whether you inherit a trait from your mother or father?  How do your earliest stages of development influence the rest of your life?  Which characteristics are inborn, and which are learned?  These are questions being asked by epigenetics researchers today, and they are the questions we consider in a historical sense in the exhibition, through an in-depth look at topics such as early theories of generation, maternal imagination, child development, and original sin.

GenesCultureEvolution-gateway-bDr. Panchanathan will open the exhibit with a lecture entitled "Genes, Culture and Evolution." Humans are unique among animals in the degree to which adaptive behavior is shaped by both genes and culture. Cultural transmission is a form of Lamarckian inheritance: individuals pass on cultural traits which they learned during their lifetime to their offspring. In this talk, Dr. Panchanathan will discuss how anthropologists think about and model cultural evolution. In particular, Dr. Panchanathan will discuss how and why natural selection on genes resulted in the human capacity for culture; how cultural evolution is similar to and different from genetic evolution; and how cultural processes have shaped our genes, so-called gene-culture co-evolution.

Dr. Panchanathan's presentation is on Monday, March 9, at 1:00 PM in the Government Documents area in Ellis Library.  Generations: Reproduction, Heredity, and Epigenetics will be on display in the Ellis Library Colonnade March 5-30, 2015.

 

 

 

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Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is a librarian in the Special Collections and Rare Books department. She teaches information sessions in Special Collections, does reference work, and maintains the department's digital presences. Contact Kelli

Aldus Manutius Romanus, 1449-1515

We do not know the exact place and time of Aldus’s birth. Most scholars agree that he was born around 1449 near Rome, and died on February 6, 1515, apparently after a long illness in Venice.

At about 1501 Aldus adopted his famous printer’s device of dolphin and anchor. According to the popular legend, Cardinal Pietro Bembo gave Aldus a denarius of Vespasian, on the reverse of which was the image of a dolphin entwined with the anchor.

Aldus’s motto σπεῦδε βραδέως (make haste slowly), or festina lente in Latin, is attributed to Augustus by Suetonius.

“The Prince of Humanists”, Erasmus, made a cheeky compliment to the “Prince of Printers” in his Adages: “Aldus, making haste slowly, has acquired as much gold as he has reputation, and richly deserves both.” The more delicate Bembo thought that the image was to symbolize Aldus’s aim to “produce much by slow action”.

It would became the most famous printer’s device of Aldus’s time, pirated by the contemporary publishers and just crooked printers, coveted by book collectors of all times.  Demand for Aldine texts was high. Aldus once remarked that the pace of work in his shop was such that "with both hands occupied and surrounded by pressmen who are clamorous for work, there is scarcely even time to blow my nose."

Between 1494 and 1515 he produced some 134 editions: 68 in Latin, 58 in Greek, and 8 in Italian. A typical edition ran to 1000 to 2000 copies.

Aldus Manutius Romanus, 1449-1515 will be on exhibit in the Ellis Library Colonnade through February 2015.

Shells, Snails, and Peacocks

A selection of decorated papers from Ellis Library Special collections is now on display now in Ellis 401.Decorated paper must be one of the most visually striking elements of rare books. They are found as endpapers, pastedowns, and on the covers of books produced in Europe from the 17th century onward. With a little background you can begin to appreciate their textures and patterns, and to identify the papers found in our collection and beyond.

Of the many kinds of decorated papers, marbled papers are the best represented in our collections. The art of marbling paper was invented in Japan and spread to Europe by the early 17th century. Though no two sheets are alike, certain designs became traditional. These designs are sometimes named after a formal resemblance, such as the “peacock,” sometimes after the country of origin, as the “Turkish” pattern, or both, such as the “French curl.”

Histoire naturelle : générale et particulière
Volume 12
by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon
published in 1749 in Paris by l'Imprimerie royal 
Rare QH45 .B78 
 

Traditional artisans create these designs in oil-based pigments that float on the surface of water. In a carefully orchestrated sequence, they rake and comb the pigments to rake to achieve a design whose swirls and veins resemble those observed in polished marble. The design “lifts” as paper absorbs the pigment.

Marbled papers are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Artists such as Ann Muir create traditional as well as original designs. In a surprising twist, new technology has created a new demand for decorated papers; luxury cases for mobile devices sometimes incorporate them to create a book-like effect.

Vida de Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
by Martín Fernández de Navarrete 
published in Madrid by la Imprenta Real in 1819
Rare PQ6337 .N27
 

These and many other examples of decorated papers from our collections are on display now in 401 Ellis and can be viewed between 9-5.

Further Reading
Link to an article by Joel Silver with a bibliography:
https://www.finebooksmagazine.com/issue/0306/marble.phtml
Link to a guide at Washington University
https://content.lib.washington.edu/dpweb/patterns.html

Apotelesmata astrologiae Christianae, by Pedro Ciruelo.

Published in Madrid, by Arnaldi guillelmi Brocarij, 1521
RARE QB26 C5

William Osler, W. J. Calvert, and MU’s Vesalius

This post is by Amanda Sprochi, Health Sciences Cataloger at the J. Otto Lottes Health Sciences Library.

Often called "the Father of Modern Medicine," William Osler was a Canadian physician, pathologist, and internist who established the programs of clinical clerkship and medical residency still in use in medical schools today. One of the four founders of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, he continued his career as the Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University and later was conferred a baronetcy and knighted.

Osler was from an early age a lover of books, and as his career advanced (and his salary along with it) he became a collector of rare medical volumes, such as the De Humani Corporis Fabrica he donated to the University of Missouri Medical School. He was known to buy works for libraries whose collections were lacking particular volumes, or to encourage other philanthropists to donate them. His own library eventually numbered 8,000 volumes, which he detailed in an extensive bibliography called the Bibliotheca Osleriana. Osler's collection was donated to McGill University upon his death where it forms the core of the Osler Library of the History of Medicine.

Sir William Osler donated a copy of Vesalius' seminal work, De Humani Corporis Fabrica, to the University of Missouri Medical School Library in 1909. In his entry on Vesalius in the Bibliotheca Osleriana, he mentions donating a copy to the University of Missouri "to my old student and friend Calvert, at that time Professor of Anatomy." He indicates in the Bibliotheca that at the time, copies of the Fabrica were "numerous and very often appear in sale catalogues at prices ranging from 10 to 20 varying with the condition." It is safe to say that the days of buying a first edition of Vesalius' work for $30-$40 are long over.

There is a bit of mystery involved with the MU Fabrica. In his original letter to the Medical Faculty, Osler mentions that he is sending a first edition, published 1543. In fact, the volume he sent was a second edition, published in 1555, as evidenced by the frontispiece and the number of lines per page. The 1543 edition has 57 lines per page; the 1555 has 49. There are also differences in the frontispiece between the first and second editions, the most notable being the staff held by the skeleton in the center of the image, which changes from a pole to a scythe, as well as content differences between the two editions. The MU Fabrica was rebound sometime in the 18th or 19th century, however, and the spine was stamped 1543 in Roman numerals. Whether this was a mistake or was done to fool unwary buyers is unknown.

Osler purchased a number of Fabricas in his lifetime, and was a well-known and expert collector of rare medical texts. It is unlikely that he would not have known the difference between the 1543 and 1555 editions of the book. It is equally unlikely that he would have deliberately sent one volume masquerading as the other. Perhaps he simply grabbed and sent the wrong one. At any rate, the gift was a priceless one in honor of a much-favored student and friend, and is a wonderful addition to the MU Library collection.

The volume in its current conservation binding by Jim Downey at Legacy Bookbindery.

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Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is a librarian in the Special Collections and Rare Books department. She teaches information sessions in Special Collections, does reference work, and maintains the department's digital presences. Contact Kelli

home Events and Exhibits, Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books Vesalius at 500 exhibit opens today at Ellis Library

Vesalius at 500 exhibit opens today at Ellis Library

December 31, 2014, will mark the five hundredth birthday of Andreas Vesalius, one of the most important anatomists in the history of medicine. The MU Libraries will commemorate this historic occasion with an exhibition entitled Vesalius at 500: Student, Scholar, and Surgeon, on view November 5-30 in the Ellis Library Colonnade.

Andreas Vesalius is frequently called the father of modern human anatomy. Born in 1514 in modern-day Belgium, he studied at the Universities of Louvain, Paris, and Padua before becoming a professor of anatomy and surgery at the University of Padua. His primary contribution to the history of medicine was his emphasis on dissection and firsthand observation. Vesalius differed from his colleagues because he used his observations to challenge ancient and often inaccurate Greek and Roman medical writings, which formed the basis of all medical knowledge for over a thousand years.

esalius at 500 showcases materials from the Libraries’ collections that helped to shape Vesalius’ career, including medieval manuscripts and early printed books on medicine. The centerpiece of the exhibition is Vesalius’ most famous work, De Humani Corporis Fabrica. The Libraries hold two copies of this important book, a second edition printed in 1555, and a later edition from 1568. Recognizing MU’s strength in human and animal medical research, the exhibition considers Vesalius’ effect on the history of veterinary medicine with several early illustrated works on animal anatomy. Works of Renaissance science are also included in order to situate Vesalius within the world of sixteenth-century scientific thought.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Dr. Gheorghe M. Constantinescu, a professor of veterinary anatomy in the College of Veterinary Medicine at MU, will present “Andreas Vesalius: On the 500th Anniversary of His Birth” on November 12 at 12:00 pm. Dr. Constantinescu is a medical illustrator and author investigating the gross anatomy of domestic and laboratory animals. His presentation will be held in room 4f51a in Ellis Library.

Vesalius at 500: Student, Scholar, and Surgeon is curated by a team of rare book librarians from the J. Otto Lottes Health Sciences Library, the Zalk Veterinary Medical Library, and Ellis Library’s Special Collections and Rare Books department. The exhibition draws on MU Libraries’ special collections of more than 100,000 original artworks, manuscripts, rare books, and historic documents. The collections, exhibition, and lecture are all free and open to the public.

The gallery below contains a selection of images from De Humani Corporis Fabrica, and we will share more materials from the exhibition over the course of November.

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home Events and Exhibits, Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books Books With Personality-On display in the Ellis Library Colonnade, August 1-29, 2014

Books With Personality-On display in the Ellis Library Colonnade, August 1-29, 2014

Books with Personality Poster - Manuscript Cover 2

Presented by the Special Collections Department of Ellis Library

August 1-29, 2014

Ellis Library Colonnade

University of Missouri

“One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years.  To read is to voyage though time”

-Carl Sagan

The books on display, from the Special Collections Department of Ellis Library, all carry traces of their former owners. Some contain notes in the margins; others hold mementos between their pages. In either case, these traces tell stories not only about the books’ reception but about the lives of those who read them.

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Mizzou Superhero Challenge

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Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is a librarian in the Special Collections and Rare Books department. She teaches information sessions in Special Collections, does reference work, and maintains the department's digital presences. Contact Kelli

home Events and Exhibits, Zalk Veterinary Medical Library Superhero Science with The Antidote!

Superhero Science with The Antidote!

See The Antidote in action! Join MU Libraries for the opening lecture of Superhero Science: Fact vs. Fiction in Superhero Comics, featuring our very own Dr. Tim Evans.

Wednesday, March 12th, 11:00 AM, Ellis Library Colonnade

Heck, design your own Scientific Superhero and win tickets to Bill Nye and a $100 Gift Card! http://library.missouri.edu/announcements/2014/02/20/design-your-own-scientific-superhero-win-100-gift-card/

SuperHeroScience

Mold FAQ and How You Can Help

FAQ Regarding Mold at Off-site Storage Facility

In October 2013, mold was discovered on books and bound journal volumes in one of MU Libraries' off-site storage facilities (UMLD2). This facility holds approximately 600,000 volumes belonging to the MU campus.

MU Libraries has established a Collection Enhancement Fund to assist our response to the mold damage. Your gift will be used to treat, relocate and in some cases, replace items impacted by mold. Our goal is to ensure the MU Libraries' ability to serve the needs of our users is not compromised by this sad event. A gift of any amount is greatly appreciated!

No one cares more than we do about preserving knowledge and scholarship. As we work through our response plan, know that we are making every effort to save items with special value and to retain ready access to information in the collection. 

If you would like to help us preserve this collection, click here to donate to our Collection Enhancement Fund.

Open Access: What It Is, What It Isn’t

Find out more about Open Access: https://libraryguides.missouri.edu/openaccess

Six OA myths put to rest