Monday Manuscript: Notebooks from a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright

April 13 would have been playwright Lanford Wilson's 77th birthday, so we're celebrating him by featuring his work on this week's Manuscript Monday. Wilson passed away in 2011 and left his papers to the University of Missouri Libraries. The collection includes correspondence, working notebooks, drafts and proof copies, and well as work related to Wilson's personal interests, such as gardening and art collecting.

The manuscripts featured here relate to Wilson's plays A Sense of Place and Fifth of July, which was recently produced on campus by the MU Theatre Department. It's fascinating to watch Wilson at work through these pages, as he adds, edits and deletes the texts of his plays.  

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An unexpected bonus: we also found Wilson's recipe for tomato tart, which sounds delicious. Let us know if you try it! wilson2

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Posted in Special Collections

What’s Blooming this Week in Special Collections

Did you know that Mizzou is a botanic garden?  Our campus is gorgeous all year round, but it's particularly outstanding in the spring and summer.  We're celebrating the natural beauty around us with a new series that links Mizzou's campus gardens with the herbals, botanical books, and gardening manuals in Special Collections. 

We didn't have to go far to find inspiration this week.  These magnolia trees on the Ninth Street side of Ellis Library are show-stoppers every spring. Daffodils of several varieties provide a cheerful shot of yellow underneath. 

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We found images and descriptions of these plants in Curtis' Botanical Magazine, a publication that started in the late 1700s with the aim "to unite systematic knowledge with the pleasures of the flower-garden."  William Curtis includes several types of narcissus throughout the publication; the ones illustrated here are only a few.  About the magnolia, Curtis writes,"There is a magnificence about the plants of this genus which renders them unsuitable subjects of representation in a work the size of ours."  We have to agree; in person they're really amazing.

scan0014 scan0011 scan0016 scan0017 scan0013Apologies for my fingers; these volumes of Curtis are really tightly bound!  Special thanks to Arthur Mehrhoff at the Museum of Art and Archaeology.  Be sure to check out his Pride of Place website, which provided an inspiration for this series.

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Posted in Rare Book Collection

The search for sustainable energy in 1869

Continuing our theme of engines, this week's pamphlet is Power without Fuel by James Baldwin, published in New York in 1869.  In this pamphlet, Baldwin explains his attempts to design an engine that isn't dependent on coal, wood, oil, gas, or other combustible fuel. His idea (he wasn't the first to think of it) was a variation on the carbonic acid motor: an engine that would run on a solution of carbon dioxide in water.  Engineers investigated carbonic acid engines as a possible replacement for steam power in the nineteenth century.  While the gasoline engine won out in the end, there are several turn-of-the-century patents for carbonic acid motors in the United States and Europe.  Today, we'd probably say that Baldwin was attempting to develop alternative energy, an endeavor which is one of the University of Missouri's four strategic research areas

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