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Special Collections at the Movies: Planet of the Apes

Released today is the eighth film in the Planet of the Apes franchise, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”  Set ten years after its predecessor “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” this film promises a darker, more engaging science-fiction world than any other Apes film before it.  In honor of the new movie, Special Collections is proud to bring you “Books of the Planet of the Apes”!  If you’ve got a monkey on your back, swing in to Special Collections and check out some of our simian stuff!


This is a scan from one of the opening pages of “Paul Du Chaillu: Gorilla Hunter,” the noted French-American explorer and zoologist.  Du Chaillu is credited with confirming the existence of gorillas, and worked extensively with indigenous Pygmy tribes in Africa.  His exciting life of adventure and discovery is chronicled in “Gorilla Hunter,” and while some today might find the subject matter offensive, Du Chaillu’s legacy in ape history is unquestionable.


Up next we have a graphic novel adaptation of one of the most famous apperances of apes in popular culture, Tarzan the Ape Man.  Tarzan was created by Edgar Rice Burroughs and introduced in the 1912 short story, “Tarzan of the Apes.”  In Burroughs’ origin story, a family is marooned on the African coast and only their young son survives.  He’s adopted by a tribe of apes and raised as their own.  Burroughs continued to publish stories about Tarzan until his death in 1950.  Since then, Tarzan has been adopted once again, this time into popular culture.  Over 200 movies have been released that feature the Ape Man. 


Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” introduced the character of Mowgli, an inspiration for Burrough’s Tarzan.  It also inspired this graphic novel by Harvey Kurtzman, also called “The Jungle Book.”  Kurtzman’s work is a social commentary on the nature of man in society, and how quickly humanity can descend back into its more primitive forms.  Kurtzman satirically dedicates his novel to a half-man, half-ape creature. 


Lastly, and perhaps slightly less aesthetically pleasing, is a chart from former University of Missouri professor James Gavan’s “A Classification of the Order Primates,” which details the line of descent of different species of apes.  It’s interesting to note which species Gavan cites as being nearest to man – according to his work, gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees are just one evolutionary step away from us.  Published in 1975, more than a century after Charles Darwin pioneered his Theory of Evolution, Gavan’s work still caused controversies.  He participated in a creationism/evolution debate in October, 1975, against a famous creation scientist called Duane Gish, author of several anti-evolution books, including 1972’s “Evidence Against Evolution” and 1986’s “Evolution: The Fossils Say No!”  According to audience reaction, Gish outperformed Gavan in the debate.  A “rematch” was scheduled, but never occurred.  Professor Gavan passed away in 1994, and Gish in 2013.

That’s just a small sample of our simian stockpile.  Don’t wait for the apes to take over – take a look at these (and other great monkey materials) today!


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Posted in Comic Collection, Rare Book Collection, University of Missouri Collection

Happy 175th Birthday, Mizzou!

Today is the 175th anniversary of the founding of the University of Missouri on February 11, 1839.  We're joining in on the celebrations by sharing the very first University of Missouri catalog, one of the oldest items in the University of Missouri Collection.  It wasn't issued until 1843 – that's the first year the university had a senior class – but it's an important piece of our history and shows just how far we've come over these 175 years. 

Title pageAs you can see below, the first senior class was made up of five students – two of whom were named Robert Todd.  If you've been around Columbia for a year or two, you may recognize some of the other last names on buildings and street signs around town.Student rosterThere were no majors back then.  Everyone took the same course of study, which was divided into three sessions per year.Courses of study"The University of Missouri having been permanently organized by the Board of Curators, and being now in successful operation, invites the candid attention of the public to its claims for general patronage."Other considerationsFor more on the history of the university, check out the digital exhibits available through the University Archives.

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Posted in University of Missouri Collection

Germania Kalender and the Academic Hall Fire of 1892

Academic Hall burned 122 years ago today, leaving the Columns to become a Mizzou icon.  Before the fire, the building housed classrooms, offices, libraries, and museums – almost the entire university.  Although parts of the Law Library were salvaged, the main library was a total loss.  Almost.

Germania Kalender survived because it was checked out during the fire.  However, it wasn't returned to the University until 1937, forty-five years later.  After it came back, it was placed in the Rare Book Room. It's in rough condition – who knows what it went through over at least 45 years of being checked out? – but it's been here ever since.

Damaged cover

Frontispiece and title page

The book was returned by Henry Gerling of St. Louis.  The date, September 24, 1884, and the library stamp for Missouri State University (which was one of the names used by the University of Missouri at the time) alerted him to the book's history.

Letter returning the book to MU

Pre-fire library stampWhen the book was returned, the story made the news.  These are clippings from the Kansas City Star (left) and the Columbia Missourian (right) from April 14, 1937.1937 news clippings

Germania Kalender has calendars and an almanac, as you'd expect from the title, but it also contains pictures and readings on various subjects for the entire family.


Political illustration

It even includes some early comics!

Early comic!

Early comic!

Find it in the MERLIN catalog.

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Posted in Rare Book Collection, University of Missouri Collection

Welcome back, students and faculty!

Every Day at the University of MissouriToday is the first day of classes at MU, and campus is bustling with new and returning students and faculty, just as it has for the past 173 years.  Today’s collection highlight provides a glimpse of campus as it was one hundred years ago.

University publisher Joseph Chasnoff produced a booklet entitled Every Day at the University of Missouri in 1912.  In the introductory text, he noted,

"Last Year 3000 Came"“To this town students come each year in ever increasing numbers to attend the University.  This year 3000 came.  They flooded out at the Wabash and the Missouri, Kansas and Texas railway stations.  They poured into and filled dormitory and rooming house.  The student is a predominant factor in Columbia.  He is one to three in numbers.  The population of the town is 10,000.”

The library, ChaThe Library is a Quiet but Busy Placesnoff notes, was a hub of campus in 1912 – as it is today. At that time, the library was housed in the west wing of Jesse Hall (then called Academic Hall).  In 1912, the library owned over 100,000 books.  Today, that number is over 3 million.

Most of the buildings pictured in the booklet are still standing.  A few photos, however, provide an idea of how much campus has changed.

Laws Observatory

Dormitories in 1912

A bird's eye view

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Posted in Rare Book Collection, University of Missouri Collection

Welcome Back, Students!

Fall is in the air, and students are everywhere!  As we welcome members of this record-breaking freshman class, it may be interesting to see how their predecessors dealt with the first weeks of classes at MU twenty-five, fifty, and even 100 years ago.

100 Years Ago

Savitar, 1911The Savitar yearbook published a fictitious freshman’s diary in 1911, which describes in humorous and exaggerated terms the experiences of a bumbling new student from rural Hemlock, Missouri.  He describes his first sight of the Quad, and the now-defunct tradition of freshman beanies:

The schoolhouses are all set around just like the town square at Hemlock except that there are six pillars covered with vines in the middle.  As soon as I came up on the walk on the square, some fellows grabbed me and made me shine shoes.  There are big signs pasted all over telling the freshmen to buy caps.  They tell me that I’ll have to wear a red one but I won’t do it because my hair is red. [see source online]

The university bulletin for 1911 records a total enrollment of 2,956 students in the Columbia campus.  One hundred years later, enrollment at MU is more than ten times that number.

50 Years Ago

Construction Nears End on Arts & Science BuildingThe current student newspaper, the Maneater, was in publication by 1955.  In the first week of classes in 1961, it reported that the new Arts and Science Building was nearing completion and would be in use later that semester. The new building would feature a language laboratory, increased classroom space, a public address and intercom system, and a special classroom equipped with closed-circuit television. And – perhaps most importantly – air conditioning.

The Arts and Science Building was home to the departments of English, History, German and Russian, and Romance Languages when it opened in 1961.  Classrooms and office space for these departments had previously been in Jesse Hall.

25 Years Ago

Page from the Maneater in August 1986During the first week of classes in 1986, the Maneater documented registration delays.  Long lines of students snaked through the stairwells and corridors of Brady Commons, and the newspaper commented:

Director of Admissions Gary L. Smith said when the first online computers were used for registering students in April of 1985, approximately 40 to 50 students could be registered in five minutes.  But things were going a lot slower this week at Brady.

Student registrations were taxing the processing power of MU’s relatively new computer network, causing the slowdown.  Over the past 25 years, various computerized registration systems have made waiting in line at Brady Commons obsolete – and Brady itself has become part of the new Student Center.

Want to Know More?

Records of of past student life, including documents, publications, photos, and memorabilia, are at the University ArchivesSpecial Collections also holds the student publications mentioned above, and over 100 years of the Savitar (1891-2000) are available in the University of Missouri Digital Library.

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Posted in Special Collections, Uncategorized, University of Missouri Collection, Welcome
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