Category: history

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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.

Illustrations

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

Economic Frustration – Then and Now

In a tough economy, it’s easy to forget that millions of Americans before our time have struggled as well. Cartoonist John T. McCutcheon’s comics show that high unemployment and turmoil in the stock market aren’t unique to this generation of Americans.

The Unemployed

The Unemployed (click to enlarge)

Our McCutcheon comic collection contains original pen-and-ink drawings that date from 1903 to 1944, many of which were published in the Chicago Tribune. While he covered a range of issues of the day, McCutcheon’s wit and biting satire shined in his depiction of economic hardships.

"1913 Bread Line: He Kept Us out of Work"

"1913 Bread Line: He Kept Us out of Work" (click to enlarge)

Figure 1 and Figure 2, from 1913 and 1916, both show the depression and struggle of being unemployed. McCutcheon demonstrates his mastery over the medium by using merely a few darker lines to show how isolated and alone his unemployed man is, compared to the happy and joyful families walking down the street.

We’ve seen a roller coaster ride in the stock market recently, but nothing compares to the Crash of 1929, which led to a decade-long Great Depression. Our last cartoons, Figures 3 and 4, show two instances of men who lost it all on Wall Street, and wonder if they’ll ever get it back. Little do they, or McCutcheon know – the worst economic downturn in history is only beginning.

The Bursting of the Stock Bubble

The Bursting of the Stock Bubble (click to enlarge)

John McCutcheon’s comics captured the mood of the day, and sometimes it’s surprising how much relevance 100-year old sketches can have to our own time. His entire collection of over 300 cartoons and drawings is available to all patrons.

The Sun of Prosperity...

The Sun of Prosperity... (click to enlarge)

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Posted in Comic Collection

The Importance of Thomas Bodley 400 Years Later

Thomas Bodley 1545-1613

Thomas Bodley 1545-1613

Today marks the 400th anniversary of Thomas Bodley’s death.   Although his name is not as well known on this side of the Atlantic, Bodley’s contribution to research and learning has had lasting impacts in the English-speaking world for centuries.

Though English, Bodley spent his childhood and adolescence abroad in Europe.  He had the misfortune to be born into a Protestant family in the last year of the reign of Henry VIII in 1545.  After the short reign of Henry’s son, Edward, Mary took the throne and spent the entire five years of her reign persecuting Protestants.  His family escaped to mainland Europe, and there, Bodley studied under the tutelage of John Calvin in Switzerland and attended services by John Knox.  When Mary died and was succeeded by Queen Elizabeth, the family returned and Bodley enrolled in Magdalen College at Oxford University.

A Catalogue of the Several Pictures, Statues, and Busts, in the Picture Gallery, Bodleian Library, and Ashmolean Museum, at Oxford.

A Catalogue of the Several Pictures, Statues, and Busts, in the Picture Gallery, Bodleian Library, and Ashmolean Museum, at Oxford.

After finishing college, his career took him to Parliament and eventually he served as a diplomat and sent on secret missions to the Netherlands, France, and Denmark.  In 1596, he returned home and settled back in Oxford.  Two years later, Bodley was given a large dinner in his honor.  It is speculated that it was that fateful evening in 1598 when 53 year-old Thomas Bodley, while speaking to old friends and colleagues, came up with the inspiration to do one last project that would make his name live on 400 years later.

Over 120 years earlier, the main library at Oxford University had been presented as a gift from Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester.  However, after Queen Elizabeth had ascended to the throne, the library had been stripped and abandoned.  In 1598, after the dinner in his honor, Bodley determined to restore the library and spend the rest of his life working in it.  Oxford immediately and graciously accepted his offer.  In 1600, Bodley began collecting books to donate to the library that would use his name.

To motivate others to donate money and books, he created a large book bound in

The Book of Hours

Noah's Ark from The Book of Hours

vellum, a “Benefactor’s Book”, which would remain on display in the center of the library.  The book would contain the names of all those who had contributed to the library.  This novel idea is used to this day in libraries around the world.

 

The Bodleian Library is one of six legal deposit libraries in the United Kingdom and Ireland.  A copy of every book, CD-Rom, website, and other public materials published in the UK and Ireland is deposited at the Bodleian.  As such, space is limited and larger facilities are used as depositories to hold all of the materials the Bodleian possesses.  Some of the treasures of the Bodleian include a copy of the Magna Carta, one of 42 complete 1455 Gutenberg Bibles still in existence, the Ashmole manuscripts, the Song of Roland, the Book of Hours (shown here) and the Codex Bodley.

Special Collections has various items relating to the Bodleian Library and its long history.  The items depicted in this blog post are all materials you can find by visiting us up on the 4th Floor West in Ellis Library.  We would be happy to help you and answer any questions you might have.

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Posted in Closed Collection, Rare Book Collection, Special Collections
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