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Independence Day

Happy Independence Day from those of us here at Special Collections!  In honor of the day of America’s declaration of independence from England, here are some items from our collections about the document that started it all.

First, from our poster collection, is this reproduction of the Declaration, produced by the Marquette Cement Manufacturing Company to “foster a greater appreciation of the fundamentals of Americanism” in 1925.  A block of text on the back asks the question “Why not celebrate the 4th of July by displaying this facsimile of the Declaration of Independence in your home or place of business.”  To that we say: way ahead of you, Marquette Cement Manufacturing.

Declaration

Here’s a close up of some of the signatures that anyone familiar with the document will recognize:

Signatures

From our Rare Collection is this beautifully illustrated pamphlet on the story of the Declaration:

Pamplet

Published in 1903, it includes a history of the events leading up to the writing of the document, portraits of the signers, and an essay on the history of the American flag by John Quincy Adams.

For other items relating to Independence Day in our collections, including our collection of Fourth of July Orations, stop by and see us, and have a happy Fourth!

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Ice Creatures

Jack FrostJack FrostYuki-Onna

Ymir Frost Giants Frost GiantIn honor of the official first day of winter and the recently fallen snow here on MU’s campus, this week’s installment of the Fantastic Beasts series highlights creatures that live and breath the ice and snow of the Arctic.  The first two images show different depictions of Jack Frost, who, in these folk tales from Russia, saves a young girl whose step-mother threw her out in the cold to die.  The next image is of a creature from Japanese folklore called the Yuki-Onna (or, Snow Woman) that kills travelers with her icy breath, leaving them frozen.  In other legends, she breaks down the doors of houses with a fierce wind and then kills its sleeping residents (like she is in this picture).  The final three images depict the Frost Giants of Norse mythology.  in the first, the X-Men prepare to go up against the recently resurrected Ymir, progenitor of the Frost Giants.  In the last two, comic book hero Conan battles two such Frost Giants as he pursues their sister across the ice.

If the weather isn’t cold enough for you yet, or you just want to help celebrate the first day of winter, come see us at Special Collections, where we’ve got all these ice creatures and more waiting to be discovered in the warmth of our reading room.

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Nessie

The Loch Ness Monster (or Nessie for short) is one of the most elusive cryptids in modern folklore.  In fact, the Loch Ness monster is so elusive, we have only one confirmed sighting on our shelves here in Special Collections.  It comes in the form of The Loch Ness Monster Watchers, a 1974 essay by Victor Perera about an expedition he and a collegue took to Loch Ness in Scotland to try to spot Nessie for themselves.Loch Ness Monster Watchers

Many theories about the Loch Ness Monster exist in modern legends.  One of the most common theories surrounding the Loch Ness Monster is that Nessie is some form of plesiosaur, whose line has somehow survived into modern times within the loch.   This image from Robert McCann’s short comic “Ocean Blues”, featured in Disappointing Circus, shows such a creature.  You can certainly see the family resemblance.

Disappointing Circus

Whether or not you believe in Nessie or think it’s all just a hoax, the legend continues to be a huge draw for cryptozoologists, adventurers, and the simply curious, all hoping to catch a glimpse of the mysterious creature.  If you can’t afford the trip to Scotland to seek out Nessie for yourself, come see us at Special Collections, where you can read all about one such a trip and decide for yourself – is the Loch Ness Monster real or just wishful thinking?

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