Materials in Special Collections and University Archives are catalogued, arranged, and stored in different ways. Some are discoverable through the library catalog, while others can be located through inventories or finding aids. Learn more about how to find materials in Special Collections and Archives through our tutorials:
Special Collections staff have compiled a number of past lesson plans and handouts on our website for instructors and students alike to peruse. We invite you to download them and adapt them for your own teaching or research, or to contact us to discuss help in customizing them.
Links to our lesson plans and handouts can be found by following the links below:
Comedias Sueltas USA is a website dedicated to the study of Spanish plays, primarily by means of its comprehensive database which maintains and compiles records of comedias sueltas printed before 1834 and are currently held in the collections of academic and research libraries across the United States. Referred to as chapbooks in English, sueltas emerged from printing centers of Spain mainly in the 18th century, and they continued to be produced well into the 19th century. Key characteristics of comedias sueltas include quarto format printed in double column. These singly printed three-act plays were often 32 to 64 pages in length resulting in 4 to 8 gatherings that were later stab- stitched. Many have a printed number on the upper portion of the first page by which printers kept track of the inventory. A primary place for decoration was the area around the title and the author’s name. One finds arrangements of metal ornaments such as fleurons, stars, ivy leaves, and manicules, or elaborate woodcut tailpieces at the very end. Booksellers also took advantage of pages following the end of the play to advertise other titles they had for sale. Early examples of sueltas often lacked imprints and can be dated only through typographical analysis, however, over time dates appeared gradually in the colophons of sueltas.
These ephemeral works have managed to survive in significant numbers, as printers and publishers maintained these titles in print for the theater-going public. The theater-going public also enjoyed amateur performances and often purchased multiple copies of sueltas for reading at home. From the colophons we see that printers operated in all the major cities in Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, and Salamanca), as well as in some of the smaller cities, and sold some of their sueltas through booksellers all over Spain. It was an active and thriving business.
Director Szilvia Szmuk-Tanenbaum and the team at Comedias Sueltas USA hope that the Database and some of the other features of the website will serve as a valuable resource for students and scholars exploring different aspects of the Spanish theater, book history and the printing culture of the hand-press period in Spain. This comprehensive census includes records and images. As an ongoing process we will continue to enhance records with new data as it emerges. Our objective is to bring awareness and accessibility to these collections, enabling scholars to analyze trends, document change, and provide context allowing for a deeper understanding of the time periods in which they were created. To this end, in addition to accurate bibliographic records, we are including copy specific images of the first and last pages of each play from its holding institution for exact identification.
Other resources available on the website include:
An extensive Bibliography that consists of publications supporting the study of sueltas in connection with specific items or collections, comprehensive bibliographic resources covering literature that integrates material on comedias sueltas, and references to printers or booksellers of suelta editions, as well as broader insights into printing history that illuminate the practices applicable to suelta
A Glossary of terms, a recent addition still a work in progress, compiles a list of terms that scholars are likely to encounter in our bibliographic records, essays, or general literature about comedias sueltas. Additionally, the diagram of the anatomy of a comedia suelta serves for easy identification of parts and their proper name.
The Websites of Interest section assembles a list of various platforms, mostly from Spain, useful for researchers engaged in the study of Spanish history, theater, or literature.
Comedias sueltas USA has identified just over 100 academic and independent research libraries in the United States that have holdings of comedias sueltas. The size of these collections varies, with approximately one-third of the libraries holding only a few titles, several more holding 11-975 titles, and about 8 collections hold more than 1000 titles. For instance, the University of North Carolina boasts a collection of over 2200 titles and similarly, the Hispanic Society Library and Museum in New York possesses nearly an equivalent number.
At the time of this writing, the team at Comedias Sueltas USA has uploaded 69 collections of sueltas into its database and many more are getting ready to be uploaded. We very much appreciate Kelli Hansen’s assistance by providing images of the first and last pages of each item in the Ellis library Spanish play collection. We feel that having the 62 titles, some of which we haven’t seen before, really adds to the completion of the census.
The sueltas in the Ellis library database offer good examples for teaching the history of printing ephemera. These are generally single plays, but we also find them bound as factitious volumes. The term factitious volume is used to describe some randomly bound volume (usually of 12 plays) selected by a collector, bookseller, or librarian. These bound volumes were thought to be easier to handle than the ephemeral pamphlets. The Moreto plays Confusión de un jardín and San Franco de Sena, with no imprint dates, seem to be the earliest in the collection. The most recent suelta in the collection, Sancho Ortiz de las Roelas by Cándido María Trigueros was printed in 1814. A selection of Trigueros’ works are 18th-century adaptations of plays originally written by Lope de Vega. Curiously, nearly half of the Ellis collection is authored by Lope de Vega, a prominent Spanish playwright and poet of the Golden Age. By closely examining this collection students can observe first-hand the printing styles across the 17th -19th century.
Looking at these plays in chronological sequence, it is easy to observe change in typography and orthography. For example, the use of long s (a letter that looked almost like an f) transitions to a modern short s during this period. Other aspects of spelling become modernized as well. The use of a short s but with an early date in the colophon indicated a “concealed reprint” which was done to avoid paying the fee a printer should have paid for reprinting an earlier work.
Women played an important part in the world of 18th century Spanish printing. Seven of the 62 plays in the collection were produced by women printer/booksellers. Women often assumed the reins of their late husband’s or male relative’s business. As was the case with Viuda de Quiroga (Manuel de Losada Quiroga’s widow) and Antonia Gómez (José de Orga’s widow). In addition, there was Teresa de Guzmán who was a printer and bookseller in her own right in Madrid from 1733-1737.
It is important for Special Collections to bring the history of the book and older printing practices to the attention of its users. Plays that students now read in modern paperback edition or electronically did not appear that way to their first readers two or three centuries ago. It is important to have them touch the paper that was made one sheet at a time during this era of printing and even to feel the bite of the type as the raised letter was formed. Experiences such as these bring a deeper understanding to the evolution of printed materials. We hope that faculty, students, and researchers at the University of Missouri will see the value of their Spanish plays collection.
To access comedias sueltas or any other materials in Special Collections, schedule an appointment through the Special Collections website.
A new display by University Archives in Ellis 401 provides a glimpse into the 65-year history of the University of Missouri Press through archival records from University Librarian Ralph Parker, Professor of English William Peden, and author Upton Sinclair.
Samir Husni, a leading expert on magazine publishing, has donated his archives to the University of Missouri Libraries Special Collections and Archives division. These wide-ranging research materials will be available to scholarship as the Samir Husni Magazine Collection.
Dubbed “the planet’s leading expert on new magazines” by the Chicago Tribune and “a world-renowned expert on print journalism” by CBS News, Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D., has studied magazine launches for over forty years. Husni received his undergraduate degree from Lebanese University in Beirut, where he was top of his class, earning a scholarship to work on advanced degrees in the United States. He went on to earn a master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Texas in 1980 and a Ph.D. in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri in 1983. He is the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the School of Journalism and New Media at The University of Mississippi, where he served as a professor of journalism from 1984 to 2021.
The Samir Husni Magazine Collection represents a lifetime of research in media history and magazine publishing. Husni’s yearly publication, Samir Husni’s Guide to New Magazines, was in print from 1985 to 2011, and is published electronically to date. The Guide documents more than 40,000 first issue magazines published in the United States in the twentieth century, all of which are contained in the collection. A significant percentage of first edition magazines in the U.S. never published a second issue, so much of the content of the collection is extremely rare. The collection also includes longer or near-complete runs of other periodical titles from the early twentieth century, as well as merchandise and marketing kits created by magazine publishers, and Husni’s professional papers. Taken as a whole, the Husni Collection provides a detailed view of the landscape of American periodical publishing for a large span of the 20th century.
Dr. Earnest Perry, associate dean of graduate studies and research at the Missouri School of Journalism said, “The collection is a history of our pop culture from the 20th century and beyond and a snapshot of what has happened in America from news, to war, to culture and entertainment, to science and beyond.”
The Special Collections and Archives Division is home to a diverse collection of rare, unique, and historic materials across many formats: manuscripts, papers, rare books, maps, posters, comic art, architectural plans, photographs, and film. The collections are a highly used resource that support a busy program of reference, instruction, and outreach to the University of Missouri community and beyond. More information about the Samir Husni Magazine Collection is available on the Special Collections website. Researchers are encouraged to contact Special Collections librarians with questions.
Special Collections has a new digital exhibit: Masks, Hells, and Books: The Nuremberg Schembartlauf (1449-1539), curated by John Henry Adams. The Schembartlauf (literally, “the running of the masked men”) was a traditional Carnival parade held in Nuremberg, Germany. It started as a small honor guard for a troop of dancers but rapidly grew to include giant mechanical parade floats, political commentary, and dozens or hundreds of masked participants. Unfortunately, sometimes the exuberance would also spill over into riots. The most memorable of these riots was probably the one in 1539, when the Schembartlauf was banned, a ban that has yet to be officially revoked.
Masks, Hells, and Books takes the reader through the different aspects of the Schembartlauf: the origins of the parade, the costumes of the runners, the parade floats, the 1539 disaster that resulted in the Schembart’s ban, and the manuscripts that have preserved the memory of this strange festivity. We hope that it inspires you to think about some of our own traditions and how strange they might seem after several centuries of inactivity, though we would like to ask that you not follow the example set by the Schembart in 1507 and 1539. No riots, please!
The exhibit is made possible by the generosity of a private collector who has loaned three medieval manuscripts to Special Collections.
The Twentieth Century Political Pamphlet Collection in Special Collections is now available as an open-access digital collection in JSTOR. The collection consists of ephemeral political materials distributed by and for members of national organizations and political committees. The majority of the materials relate are concerned with civil rights, anti-war protest, feminism, and economic policy. The collection offers primary source material to researchers interested in the various social protest movements of the 1960s. Browse the Twentieth-Century Political Pamphlet Collection in JSTOR.
This collection was digitized as part of Reveal Digital’s Student Activism Collection. Overall, the Student Activism Collection will contain approximately 75,000 pages drawn from special collection libraries and archives around the country. The collection will capture the voices of students across the great range of protest, political actions, and equal-rights advocacy from the 20th and early 21st century United States. The primary sources intended for inclusion will be broad-based across time, geography, and political viewpoint — from the conservative to the anarchist. Explore the Student Activism Collection.
What do you think of when you hear special collections and archives? Old books? Decades old letters? You’d be correct, but there’s so much more that happens on the 4th floor of Ellis Library!
Join Macy Love and John Henry Adams in an exploration of what we do in Special Collections, Libraries, and Archives. They showcase treasures from our collections, guide you through our services, and show you all the work it takes behind the scenes to answer all your questions.
New episodes drop every Tuesday
Episode 9: Exhibits: The Display Window
One of the ways that librarians and archivists share their collections with the public is through exhibits. In our final episode, Macy and John Henry explore the considerations and work that go into exhibit design and display. Macy interviews Gary Cox from the University Archives.
Episode 8: Preservation: Climate Control Part of keeping rare books and archival materials safe involves keeping temperature and humidity under control. In this episode, Macy and John Henry explore the challenges of maintaining a good environment in the stacks. Macy interviews Michaelle Dorsey from Special Collections and Anselm Huelsbergen from the University Archives.
Episode 7: Stacks Projects: Everything Has To Go Somewhere Rare books and archival materials are kept on shelves in a special area called the stacks. In this episode, Macy and John Henry explore the work that goes on behind the scenes to organize and maintain the stacks. Macy interviews Kelli Hansen from Special Collections and Kris Anstine from the University Archives.
Episode 6: Acquisitions: How It Gets Here There are a lot of things in Special Collections and the University Archives. Where do they all come from? In this episode, Macy and John Henry explore how items are acquired and become part of the collection. Macy interviews Kelli Hansen from Special Collections and Anselm Huelsbergen from the University Archives.
Episode 5: Scanning and Uploading: Digital Repositories Thanks to the Internet, many people can use rare and archival materials without coming in to see them in person. But how are those digital copies made? In this episode, Macy and John Henry explore the question of digitization. Macy interviews Steven Pryor and Britany Saunders from Digital Services.
Episode 4: Fixing What’s Broken: Book Repairs and Enclosures Repairs and maintenance are an important part of preserving rare and archival materials. In this episode, Macy and John Henry explore some of the ways in which librarians and archivists repair and protect books on the shelves. Macy interviews Michaelle Dorsey from Special Collections and Anselm Huelsbergen from the University Archives.
Episode 2: Books and Records Don’t Circulate: Running A Reading Room Patrons at rare books libraries and archives have to use the materials in special reading rooms. In this episode, Macy and John Henry explore why reading rooms exist and how they are run. Macy interviews Kris Anstine from the University Archives and John Konzal from Special Collections.
Digital Services is committed to ensuring long-term preservation of resources. We utilize and promote good preservation practices.
What preservation programs take place in Digital Services? Two major programs:
Digitization for preservation: We protect fragile and rare materials by creating a digital version of them and providing online access.
Long-term preservation of digital resources: We follow national standards to make sure our digital files remain accessible into the future.
What formats of materials does Digital Services digitize for preservation purposes?
We primarily work with books and paper-based materials, including but not limited to maps, posters, manuscripts, scrapbooks, and photographs. Microfilms and slides are digitized from time to time. Currently, we do not digitize audiovisual materials.
What digital formats does Digital Service preserve in MOspace and MU Digital Library?
Images, text documents, datasets, and audio and video files.
Where do the digital items live/get preserved? Are they free to use?
In Fall 2020, Dr. Brittany Rancour worked with Special Collections to create a digital guide to the Fragmenta Manuscripta collection through a partnership with the Department of Visual Studies. The Fragmenta Manuscripta Collection is a collection of manuscript fragments, most of them from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries, but with materials extending as far back as the eighth century and as recently as the seventeenth century. Dr. Rancour’s project involved updating and expanding the finding aid to provide in-depth descriptions of over 200 manuscript fragments, work that was first started by Nicole Songstad, a graduate research assistant in Special Collections.
Dr. Rancour, now a Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities at Dixie State University, came to Mizzou as a PhD student in medieval art history and was drawn to Special Collections, specifically because of the assortment of medieval manuscripts. “When the librarians wanted to develop an on-line learning experience for the collection, I jumped at the opportunity to work with the fragments,” says Dr. Rancour.
The fragments are parts of completed manuscripts that include bibles, books of hours, legal texts, and poetry. Over the centuries, people tended to cut fragments from the the original bindings as collectors valued parts of the texts rather than the entire product. The history of the collection begins with John Bagford, an English book collector around the turn of the eighteenth century. Bagford had a collection of manuscript fragments and had ambitions to write a history of the development of printing from handwritten manuscripts to the invention of the moveable type. In an essay dated to 1707, Bagford wrote that the collection was, “perhaps the first of that kind that ever was done in any part of Europe.” You can learn more about the collection here.
Before Dr. Rancour’s work on this project, there was no finding aid at all. “It was all digitized and available on Digital Scriptorium, but it was difficult to find groups of materials. This finding aid has helped staff and patrons tremendously in locating specific items according to various themes – poetry, or sermons, for example. In fact, I used it just last week to find materials for a class,” says Kelli Hansen, Head of Special Collections.
Partnerships between the libraries and different departments on campus open up various opportunities for learning and research. Asked for one piece of advice for those interested in working with the library, Dr. Rancour said, “ask a Special Collections librarian what types of objects are in their collection. It is an excellent collection and has so much to offer to students and others interested in history.”
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