Primary Source Workshop: Great Content for your Classroom

Are you excited about using primary sources with your students? Do you want to know how the State Historical Society of Missouri and MU Special Collections can contribute sources for your classroom? Are you helping students find resources for National History Day projects? This free educator workshop is for you!

Join the State Historical Society of Missouri in Ellis Library on the University of Missouri campus to explore:

· SHSMO collections in person and online, with a focus on the 2017 National History Day theme: Taking a Stand in History

· MU Special Collections

· SHSMO’s art gallery with curator Dr. Joan Stack

· Strategies for using primary sources effectively to make National History Day projects stand out

Please RSVP at Attendees will be offered a free parking pass. In order to guarantee delivery, please register prior to November 4.

MU Libraries Celebrate Banned Books

photo-6Don't worry if you missed our Banned Books Week celebration during the week of September 25th. We celebrate banned books every day of the year! 

Banned Books Week is a week long celebration of books that have been challened or banned in different parts of North America. It was organized in order to promote people's right to read. 

 "Everything should be available for anyone who wants to access it," says Emilee Howland-Davis, a PhD student in the English department, regarding the importance of protecting the right to read. photo-1-2

She and her English 2100 class exercised their right to read on Thursday, September 29th, when they did readings of banned books out on Speaker's Circle. They read excerpts from Harry Potter and passed out bookmarks promoting Banned Books Week.

photoHowever, the efforts to stop banned books does not end once the week is over. Ellis Library continues that fight through multiple exhibits.

Be sure to come by the information desk and see our exhibit on banned books! Try and guess what book each of the covered books are! Each covered book is a famous piece of literature, many of which are included in reading lists for English classes. On the covering is key reasons why they have been banned or

See if any of your favorites have ever been banned by checking the ever growing list of banned books! Favorites such as Catcher in the Rye and Harry Potter are included in the list.

So don't be discouraged if you missed the week! Just pick up your favorite banned book and read it! It's always the right time to help the fight against banned books!photo-7

Color Our Collections – Homecoming Edition

This week is homecoming at Mizzou, and to celebrate, we're releasing another coloring book based on images from Special Collections. Unlike our last offering, this one is entirely focused on Mizzou and includes drawings, cartoons, and images from the Savitar, the yearbook of the University of Missouri, published from 1894 to 2004. There are also a few covers and illustrations from student magazines such as the Showme and Outlaw as well.  All of the materials in this coloring book are freely available in the University of Missouri Digital Library, so you can browse and turn the pages of Mizzou history for yourself.

Download the coloring book here, or stop by Ellis Library for the Homecoming Open House after the parade for a coloring table and more goodies.



Share your work with us online through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and be sure to use the official homecoming tag, #MIZ105HC

The Lucubrator and the Young Ladies Academy of Philadelphia

This post is the eighth and final part of our continuing series on Dr. Juliette Paul's English 4300 class and their research on an early American manuscript in Special Collections.

By an Anonymous English Major, Recently Graduated

While researching the origins of a mysterious manuscript that was donated to Ellis Library many years ago, our Early American Literature class learned not only about who might have written the book, when, and why, we also learned a great deal about what life was like in the time period in which it was written. The Lucubrator is a commonplace book, written in late eighteenth-century America. It includes many essays, one of which, “On Female Education,” helps to reveal how eighteenth-century readers felt about the roles of women in society.

The author of the essay begins by recalling the recent opening of a local school for women: “The admittance of females into the Academy in the United States, is an eminent instance, of their refined cultivation and advancement in literature.” The academy to which the author refers is likely the Young Ladies Academy of Philadelphia. The opening of this particular academy would have been deeply significant to many Americans, as it was, according to Marion B. Savin and Harold J. Abrahams, “the first chartered institution for the higher education of young women in the United States and perhaps in the world” (59). The Academy was established on June 4, 1782, by John Poor, and, five years later, on January 9, 1792, it was granted a charter by the laws of Pennsylvania. By that time, one hundred women were in attendance. They studied the expected subjects, such as reading, writing, math, and history. They also studied singing, piano, and astronomy.

It was considered a prestigious accomplishment to graduate from the Academy, though often completion meant women might be better wives and mothers, rather than opening doors for careers. In James A. Neal’s An Essay on the Education and Genius of the Female Sex (1795), he writes, “When admitted to an equal participation of the illuminating beams of science, we observe women rising to the most conspicuous and enviable state of eminence” (2). Neal published his Essay on Education with his account of the Academy’s commencement activities held on December 18, 1794. Neal’s praise for the Academy shows his faith in women’s intellectual capabilities, but his was not the prevailing opinion of the time. Indeed, when Benjamin Rush delivered an address to the Academy on July 28, 1787, he made glowing remarks on female learning, but only because he believed that receiving a liberal education would make a girl “an agreeable companion to a sensible man” (79).

Domestic life was quite important in the eighteenth century and women often played an important role in making domestic life run properly. The essay “On Female Education” seems to convey this idea. Its author writes of women: “If they are never to fill a public seat or harangue in public, will they never have an occasion to read in a company of friends, or, to teach what they have leart [sic] to their families and children?” While researching this essay in the The Lucubrator, we learned that when it was written, America was beginning to come around to the idea that women deserve an education in order to become happier, more productive people.

People, most often, will be as great as they are allowed to be. When we continue to treat women as inferior, less intelligent people, it makes it hard for them to prove otherwise. Many are not given the chance to better themselves, and when they are, their accomplishments are overlooked by people who only seem to pay attention to what they want to see. While there is still a long way to go before people who are not white men are treated with equal amounts of respect, education continues to be the best route to achieving this.

Works Cited

Rush, Benjamin. Essays, Literary, Moral & Philosophical (Philadelphia, 1798).

Savin, Marion B. and Harold J. Abrahams. “The Young Ladies’ Academy of Philadelphia.” History of Education Journal. Vol. 8. No. 2 (Winter, 1957): 68-67.

When Authors Go Missing: Putting Manuscripts into Perspective, by Tyler Morris

This post is the seventh part of our continuing series on Dr. Juliette Paul's English 4300 class and their research on an early American manuscript in Special Collections.

by Tyler Morris

After weeks of working to decode The Lucubrator, I can’t help but feel I’m left with more questions than answers. The title page offered our class a name: James Noyes. But we quickly realized that the manuscript’s authorship is more of a mystery than any of us originally thought. Simply searching for “James Noyes” in databases and Google was not going to cut it. So I altered my approach. I looked to find “Lucubrator” essays written by other authors who could potentially eliminate James Noyes as a candidate for the authorship of some or all of The Lucubrator’s essays.  

Though I found a few published essays written by “The Lucubrator,” none matched those bound in the manuscript. We concluded that we could not attribute the manuscript to Noyes definitely nor question the attribution made on the title page. Eventually, I posed a different question: what good is a book that no longer has a known author or place of origin?

When considering my answer, it dawned on me that I had learned more from the manuscript than I originally thought, even without knowing its author. The fact that we could not find a printed version of a Lucubrator essay suggests either that someone should have done a better job of bookkeeping or that the manuscript may not have been meant for the public. But, then again, I think my speculation that the manuscript’s essays were at one time printed to entertain and inform readers is a compelling one, for several reasons.

Some of the essays are not dated in chronological order and others are given two dates, which may signify the dates on which they were printed elsewhere. Moreover, the essays are morally edifying. My favorite essay is one entitled “On Friendship.” After overcoming the difficulty of having to read literature in the original handwriting, you find that the author of The Lucubrator actually offers a rather beautiful description of true friendship. Phrases like “Friendship, when it is sincere, is acknowledged by all to be a very fruitful source of happiness,” or “When there is a dissimilarity of opinions or pursuits, there seldom exist any great degree of friendship; for that difference is apt to create disputes between each other, and people in general are too much attached to their own ways of thinking to respect another of different or opposite sentiments,” offer some insight and advice that is still very useful today. The same goes for the essays that offer criticism, such as “Propriety of Behaving with Moderation In Parties,” which is pretty much self-explanatory, and “On the Propriety of Taxing Ministers of the Gospels for the Support of Government.”

Likewise, learning about the life of the best candidate for the manuscript’s authorship, James Noyes of Atkinson (1778-1799), was inspirational. Interestingly enough, Noyes was around the same age as me and my classmates when The Lucubrator was written, which made me feel like I needed to step my game up as far as everything is concerned! Noyes was a prodigy responsible for publishing a Federal Arithmetic for Congress, as well as a number of almanacs and even an astronomical diary, which are profound achievements for anyone, but especially for an author so young. A few years later, Noyes died of polio, after being forced to use crutches. Issues with immobility left him stuck in his house for most of his final days.

I think that integrating short essays like the Lucubrator essays with applications such as Twitter and Facebook would be an excellent way to entertain my generation, as well as a tool for teaching life lessons. The idea and form of The Lucubrator are what we can take away from our research experience and what we can call the manuscript’s history and purpose, even if the author conceived of it differently.

Life and Letters in the Ancient Mediterranean

An intriguing event is coming up in Ellis Library! It's called "Life and Letters in the Ancient Mediterranean" and is being presented by the departments of Classical Studies, Art History and Archaeology, the Museum of Art and Archaeology, Special Collections, the Missouri Historic Costume and Textile Collection, and Gamal Castile.  See actual artifacts of everyday life in Ancient Greece, the first books by Classical poets printed on this side of the Atlantic, a 3000 year old fragment of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, authentic reproductions of Ancient Greek hoplite weapons and armor along with a demonstration of Ancient Greek warfare tactics.

Please join us for a multi-department celebration of Ancient Mediterranean Life and Letters 5 p.m. Monday, October 10 at room 114A Ellis Library. Special Collections Librarian Tim Perry will introduce the range of materials relating to the ancient Mediterranean that are housed in Ellis Library's Special Collections, from a 3,000 year old fragment of The Book of the Dead to an translation of Cicero printed by Benjamin Franklin. Benton Kidd, Curator of Ancient Art, will explain the artifacts of daily life.  The event will be a riveting and valuable source of information. Any and all are welcome. We hope to see everyone in Ellis Library room 114A on October 10,

armor everydaylifeobjects dsc00041 dsc00042 dsc00052 dsc00054


Alecia McLean

University of Missouri student and Special Collections intern. Avid lover of all things literature, music, and spicy foods.

Lucubration and Inspiration

This post is part 6 of our continuing series on Dr. Juliette Paul's English 4300 class and their research on an early American manuscript in Special Collections.

by Jon Crecelius

Though we don’t have the technology to travel back to the past, we can still piece together clues that give us a glimpse of what the past was like. In conducting research on The Lucubrator, I did exactly that. My interests leaned towards the intellectual and literary cultures of post-revolutionary America, and how they might have influenced the mysterious author of the manuscript, called James Noyes on the title page.

Some of the most notable writers of eighteenth-century America were none other than the “Founding Fathers.” Men such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison, with their works entitled Notes on the State of Virginia (1785), Poor Richard’s Almanack (1732-58), and The Federalist Papers (1787-88), all wrote well known publications that would have shaped the literary and social culture of the manuscript author’s time. But these men were not the only authors writing important pieces in and about early America. One important, but overlooked, author is J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur (1735-1813), an influential French immigrant farmer who lived in New York.

Post 7_Letters from American Farmer title page

The writings of Crèvecoeur espouse the type of freethinking, industriousness, and morally minded spirit so often dictated by The Lucubrator’s author. In his famous essay, “What is an American?,” Crèvecoeur asserts “We are all animated with the spirit of industry which is unfettered and unrestrained because each person works for himself” (2). This portrait of Americans, driven by a strong work ethic, is found also in Jefferson’s writings and may be compared to the industrious writer we meet in The Lucubrator. More significant, however, is that all three writers—Crèvecoeur, Jefferson, and the author of the manuscript—express admiration for the American farmer and the pastoral joys of agricultural life that many believed came with it. In one passage of his Notes, Jefferson writes “Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire, which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth” (179). Likewise, the author of The Lucubrator writes in an essay entitled “On Agriculture”: “If gentleman in the highest walks of society possessed a taste for the amusement of gardening, the cultivation of fruit trees, and other branches of agriculture, it would perhaps contribute as much to health and innocence, as to national independence and prosperity.”

If James Noyes of Atkinson is the author of The Lucubrator, he seems to have been a man of high ideals and strong morals. In my opinion, though he makes himself out to be an important thinker, Noyes is mostly distilling the ideas of writers who came before him. However, this does not make his work unimportant. It is still, despite its enigmatic character, an important discovery that adds to our knowledge of the early American landscape; and, because this work is one that has been previously unstudied, it shows us how those people forgotten by history thought and lived.

Works Cited

St. John, James Hector. "What Is an American?" Letters From an American Farmer. 1782. 

National Humanities Center. Web. 15 Apr. 2016.

Jefferson, Thomas. Notes on the State of Virginia. The Federalist Papers Project. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.

Stand Up for Your Right to Read!

Next week is Banned Books Week. Stand up for your right to read! Emilee Howland-Davis, a PhD student in the English department, invites everyone to join her English 2100 class on Thursday, September 29th, anytime between 11:00 and 3:30 in Speaker’s Circle. We will read from our favorite banned books and talk to people about banned, challenged, or censored materials. Please bring your favorite banned book, and join us in standing up for our right to read.

Additionally, the English 2100 class has prepared a display of banned books in Special Collections. We hope you will stop by Special Collections and check it out.


The Lucubrations of Vicesimus Knox

This post is part 5 of our continuing series on Dr. Juliette Paul's English 4300 class and their research on an early American manuscript in Special Collections.

by Erik Wasson

One of the reasons that The Lucubrator seems so strange is the range of topics the manuscript covers, as is promised in its subtitle, Containing Essays on Various Subjects. However, influential writers of the eighteenth century commonly published literature on “various subjects.” In my research, I have focused on the famous essayist Vicesimus Knox: specifically, his two published essay collections, Winter Evenings; or, Lucubrations on Life and Letters (London 1788; New York 1805) and Essays Moral and Literary (London, 1778; Philadelphia 1792).

Post 6_Knox Essays Title Page

Winter Evenings covers a variety of subjects just as does The Lucubrator. Besides having the word “lucubrator” in their titles, both works have a table of contents that lay out similar topics of interest. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “lucubrator” as “a nocturnal student,” and the word “lucubrations” as “the product of nocturnal study and meditation; hence, a literary work showing signs of careful elaboration. Now somewhat derisive or playful, suggesting the notion of something pedantic or overelaborate.” This definition of the word “lucubrator” gives a clue as to the purpose of The Lucubrator and the reason for why the contents of the manuscript are so wide-ranging, from discussions of female education to living in the countryside. The author’s mission was to create a manuscript, which, told through an apprehensive narrative voice, had intellectual thought and moralistic and societal concern as its structure.

Post 6_Knox Essays Table of Contents

In his prefaces to Essays Moral and Literary and Winter Evenings, Knox discusses lucubrations as if they were a genre all on their own. He claims that their literary footprint is significant to his culture and to the education of readers. What is most interesting about Essays Moral and Literary is found in the preface. Here Knox writes:

An unknown Writer who sends his lucubrations into the world, and solicits public favour, is exactly in the condition of a new man aspiring to hounours among the ancient Romans. They who have established their fame, are jealous of an intruder; they who are competitors, are angry with a rival; and the unconcerned spectators will seldom withdraw their eyes from the contemplation of allowed merit, to examine the pretentions of doubtful excellence.

Perhaps to avoid being criticized by other writers and readers of his day, Knox attempted to publish his essays anonymously. In the preface to the second edition of Essays, Knox wrote: “The Author of the following Papers can truly say, he never meant to claim them” (ix). This statement made by Knox gives strong evidence towards why The Lucubrator was never published. Knox calls his essays “the unguarded production of his leisure hours.” Perhaps the author of the manuscript thought, too, that lucubrations were too private or personal for publication.

Post 6_Knox Essay On Idea of Patriot

Teaching Spotlight: David Crespy

For the next installment of our Teaching Spotlight feature, we're intervewing Dr. David Crespy. Dr. Crespy is a professor of playwriting, acting, and dramatic literature here at MU. He and his students visit Special Collections for his course, Digging Lanford Wilson: An Archival Approach to Drama.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your interests.

I am a professor with a focus on playwriting, acting, and dramatic literature in the MU Department of Theatre, where I have served as the Artistic Director of the Missouri Playwrights Workshop and as founder and co-director of the MU Writing for Performance Program for the last 18 years. My major scholarly interest has been in the work of American playwright, Edward Albee, and most recently, in the work of Lanford Wilson, who was his protégé in dramatic writing. Wilson was a Missouri native, and was a prolific dramatist on and off Broadway in New York, some of his most famous plays include Burn ThisBook of Days, Fifth of JulyThe Hot’l Baltimore, and many, many other plays. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his play Talley’s Folly, and was the major dramatic voice of his generation of American playwrights who came into the scene in the 1960s as part of what has become known as Off-off Broadway, which I wrote extensively about in my book, Off-Off Broadway Explosion, which documented the work of Lanford Wilson, Sam Shepard, John Guare, Maria Irene Fornes, and many others. Lanford was a co-founder of Circle Repertory Theatre in New York City, which was at the heart of off-Broadway theatre in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, and produced countless well-known playwrights including Paula Vogel, Jon Robin Baitz, Michael Cristofer, Charles Evered, Jules Feiffer, A.R. Gurney, William M. Hoffman, Albert Innaurato, Corinne Jacker, Arthur Kopit, Jim Leonard, Jr., Lucas, David Mamet, William Mastrosimone, Marsha Norman, Robert Patrick, Joe Pintauro, William Missouri Downs, Murray Schisgal, Sam Shepard, Milan Stitt, and Tennessee Williams. Lanford was at the heart of it as its resident playwright, and I brought Lanford here in 2006. 


In Spring of 2012 the University of Missouri in Columbia, where I teach playwriting, was informed that Lanford Wilson had donated all his papers, 52 linear feet—47 boxes of manuscripts, photographs, letters, poetry, fiction, theatre artifacts—The Lanford Wilson Collection—to the Special Collections and Rare Books department of our beautiful Ellis Library on Lowry Mall on the MU Campus. It is an historic bequest, and one that will permit MU faculty, students, and scholars from around the world to explore the work of Missouri’s own Pulitzer prize-winning playwright in extraordinary detail. Lanford had visited Mizzou at my request back in October of 2006, and we had a delightful visit with him – he had managed to fit in the visit between his teaching work at the University of Houston and his busy writing life in Sag Harbor. I directed a concert reading of Lanford’s play The Mound Builders with his assistance and guidance in our Rhynsburger Theatre, and later he and I had a wonderful onstage discussion about his life and work. It was an amazing experience—Lanford deeply connected with our Mizzou theatre students.  

It is hoped that in the Fall of 2017, the University of Missouri Press will publish Lanford Wilson: Early Stories, Sketches, and Poetry, which I have co-edited with Jonathan Thirkield. The volume will have a foreword by Marshall W. Mason, who was Lanford’s long-time director, and who just won the 2016 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement, as well as a tribute by Edward Albee.  All the material in the book will come from MU Libraries’ own Lanford Wilson Collection, and I am so proud that the University of Missouri libraries has made that all possible.  It is because of the incredible efforts of our archivists, Mike Holland and Anselm Huelsbergen, who took this rather massive collection, and organized it into a useful archival resource, that I was able to even find this material and bring it to light for scholars, theatre artists, and readers to explore.

How did you use Special Collections in your teaching?

During the summer of 2013, I did research in the new Lanford Wilson collection for the production of Wilson’s play Fifth of July for a production of the play I directed in Fall 2013 in the Rhynsburger Theatre, and while I was doing that research, I discovered that Wilson had left an extraordinary number of different versions of each of his plays.  It was a fascinating experience to explore how Wilson, who was a meticulous writer and dramatic craftsman, would change entire sections of his play – reworking plot, character, and dialogue. Each of his plays started off with handwritten notebooks where you can see the characters starting to take shape, and then you can see Wilson wrestling with each moment from iteration to iteration of the scripts until he was satisfied. The plays keep changing from production to production—from off-Broadway at Circle Rep to Broadway, and after later productions in the Regional theatre. It is really an amazing writer’s process, and there is so much there that a student of playwriting or dramatic literature can learn from Lanford’s explorations in his beautifully crafted plays. I decided that I wanted my students to experience Wilson’s work first hand, and was inspired to design a course that I called Digging Lanford Wilson: An Archival Approach To Drama.

In the Fall of 2015, I approached Kelli Hansen about developing this archival research course, using the Lanford Wilson collection as resource to teach students how to use manuscripts, photographs, programs, correspondence, theatrical posters, and other archival materials to discover how a playwright wrote, developed, and had his plays produced. Kelli used the first hours of the course to teach the students how archives are archived, how to work with archival materials, how to actually make sense of a writer’s cursive hand (particularly in correspondence), in other words, the nuts and bolts of archival research. We would spend the first hour or more of each class in the collection working with these actual materials—some of which had never been seen except by Lanford Wilson and our University archivists!  The second hour of the course, we read and discussed Wilson’s plays; exploring each play’s production history and interpretations and scholarship about the scripts.  


Several of the students in the course then presented their research on Lanford Wilson’s plays at the Undergraduate Research Forum last Spring, and I was especially delighted to discover that one of them, Leslie Howard, who was presented on Lanford Wilson’s play The Sand Castle, was selected as the winner of MU Libraries Undergraduate Research Paper Contest.  The course was one of the most successful that I have taught at MU, and what made it special was the experience of working in Ellis Library’s Special Collections and Rare Books.  The hands-on experience of working with actual archival materials was amazing, and to have a theatre collection at the University of Missouri like the Lanford Wilson Collection is just a miracle.  Most theatre students would have to travel to New York City to access such an extensive archival resource, and here it is, right at Mizzou!  I look forward to teaching Digging Lanford Wilson again in the Fall of 2017, when we will hopefully have Lanford’s collection of short stories and poetry published, and simultaneously, I’ll be directing one of his plays in our Rhynsburger Theatre.


What advice would you give faculty or instructors interested in using Special Collections in their courses?

If a faculty member hasn’t worked with special collections, they should get started now – especially if your own research takes you there. And if they haven’t used special collections, it’s time! I was thrilled with resources that Kelli Hansen made available to me, including a wonderful website, that allowed my students to learn about archival research the Special Collections, discover the resources of the Lanford Wilson Collection, and how to work with finding aids and primary sources. My feeling is that students are becoming less and less likely to walk in the doors of the library, beyond using it as a study hall. Working with Special Collections gives students a better understanding of how important our libraries are, as well as the thrill of scholarly research—working with archival resources and doing original research that may change how we understand our world. Working with manuscripts, photos, correspondence, theatrical programs, and having an opportunity to physically touch materials that were part of New York’s Broadway theatre was a life-changing experience for my students. Give your students that transformative understanding of scholarship by teaching a course in Special Collections!