home Cycle of Success, Gateway Carousel, Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books, Staff news Michaelle Dorsey Appointed Special Collections Librarian

Michaelle Dorsey Appointed Special Collections Librarian

We are excited to announce that Michaelle Dorsey, a senior library specialist in collection services, will be appointed as the new Special Collections librarian, focusing on preservation. Her new position will be effective September 1, 2021.

Over her years at Mizzou, Michaelle Dorsey has acquired the required education and skills for this position. In addition, she has demonstrated a rare devotion to her craft. During the aftermath of the Ellis Library fire in 2011, Michaelle stepped up to the challenge of providing leadership for the recovery effort. She received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in 2017. She has acquired additional training in book preservation techniques in addition to her master’s in library and information science from MU that makes her uniquely qualified for this position. She also received her bachelor of arts in English from Truman State University.

In addition, she can provide a strong voice for advice regarding the materials that would be best digitized, thus providing additional guidance to the Digital Services department. To quote the findings of the MU Librarians and Archivists Council Promotions Committee, “Michaelle has a wealth of experience directly tied to this new position. In fact, she has served as the head of the preservation unit for 18 years and has over 20 years of experience in the field. She has capably served on many library and university committees, and she continues to gain new knowledge through her book conservation training with James Downey.”

Thanks to Dr. Nobel Cunningham and Caroline McBride French, whose bequest gifts provided the MU Libraries with the funds for this position.

Please join the Libraries in congratulating Michaelle Dorsey on her new position and wishing her success in her new endeavors.

Digital Services Celebrates 10 years of Digitization

We are celebrating ten years of in-house digitization at the University Libraries! During its first ten years, we launched the MU Digital Library, further developed the MOspace Institutional Repository, and joined the HathiTrust (a shared digital library). The thousands of publications we have digitized are online and available for use by people at MU and around the world.


The in-house digitization production unit came to the University Libraries in 2011 when the four-campus Library Systems Office was dissolved. While other units in the library were digitizing items for patron services, the new unit focused on the digitization of library materials for broader outreach and for inclusion in MU digital repository systems. The digitization began with two staff members who transferred from the Library Systems Office and two scanners that were inherited from that office. Originally part of the Catalog Department, in the 2013 the digitization unit became part of a new Digital Services Department.


The Digital Services Department works with selectors, departments on campus, and others to identify and develop a variety projects that support teaching and research at MU and beyond. Scanning equipment has increased from two to seven scanners allowing the department to digitize a variety of paper material and items on microfilm and slides.


As of May, in this fiscal year our staff has digitized 1,266 items, which amounts to 31,500 pages – with a lot more yet to come! Some of our recent notable projects include Venable maps and English Short Title Catalog publications with Special Collections, books on typography with the Journalism Library, Shamrock yearbooks with the Engineering Library, the Muse annual with the Museum of Art and Archaeology, and MU course catalogs with the Office of the Registrar and University Archives.

Cheers to the first 10 years! We look forward to more partnerships and projects in the next 10!

home Ellis Library, Events and Exhibits, Gateway Carousel, Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books Selections from the Hiller Collection on View in Ellis Library

Selections from the Hiller Collection on View in Ellis Library

Photographs from the Martin and Margaret Hiller Collection of Audiovisual Materials on China are now on view in the North Colonnade exhibit cases in Ellis Library. The Hiller Collection documents cities, industries, farming, and everyday life in China during the second phase of the Chinese Civil War. The collection contains over 1,900 glass and acetate slides, several reels of 16mm film, four reels of 8mm film, and magnetic audio tape created by Army Air Corps Capt. Martin Hiller while stationed with his family in Shanghai, China, from 1945 to 1948. These materials were donated to the University Libraries by the Hiller family in 2018. For more about the collection, see a digital exhibit curated by MU student Yueheng Lyu in 2019.

The images on view were printed from high resolution digital scans of slides created by Martin Hiller. Selections from this collection will remain on view through summer 2021.


Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is head of the Special Collections and Rare Books department.

home Events and Exhibits, Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books, Staff news New student-curated online exhibits now available

New student-curated online exhibits now available

There are two new digital exhibits in Special Collections, curated by our spring 2021 interns: John T. McCutcheon: A Cartoonist in his Prime, 1930s, curated by Allison Cathey, and The Art of Cartography, Cartes-à-figures, curated by Lily McEwan. Our students have worked very hard over the past semester on these exhibits and now we’re ready to share them with you. Read on below for our interns’ descriptions of their projects. We hope that you enjoy the exhibits!

John T. McCutcheon: A Cartoonist in his Prime, 1930s

by Allison Cathey

My exhibit is formed around American cartoonist John T. McCutcheon and his work during the peak of his career at the Chicago Tribune. The exhibit showcases 11 of the cartoons that MU Digital Library has access to. The others can be found in the John Tinney McCutcheon Collection of Editorial Cartoons in the MU Digital Library or in person at the Special Collections if you wish to use them for further information.

The exhibit is focused on the use of cartoons in the 1930s during which some consider to be the prime years in John T. McCutcheon’s career as a cartoonist. Amidst the economic struggles of the 1930s, McCutcheon brought light to political, social, and economic issues. His ability to cover a variety of subjects showed his versatility and the reason that people refer to him as the American dean of cartooning. Additionally, in the 1930s McCutcheon was awarded an honorary doctoral degree and Pulitzer Prize for his exceptional work. He spent the last years of the decade beginning his autobiography that reflects on his personal and work life. The exhibit includes cartoons pertaining to McCutcheon’s view on: economics, American holidays, global politics, marriage and divorce, automobile crashes, administrative programs, local news, war, technological advancement, and treaty breaking.

The Art of Cartography: Cartes-à-figures

by Lily McEwan

I chose to create the digital exhibit The Art of Cartography: Cartes-à-figures as a passion project for my interest in art history. As a student studying Art History and Anthropology, I loved the hands-on opportunity to conduct research and over the course of the semester have gained valuable interpretive critical-thinking skills. The creative process and the designing element of an exhibit was a new experience that was thoroughly delightful. I have a new appreciation for librarianship and researchers – as there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes.

My favorite aspect of this experience was visiting the reading room! Seeing with my own eyes these wonderfully old and preserved maps has reconfirmed my interest in Art History and preservation work. I am grateful to have this opportunity as it will help prepare me for a life of research. In fact, this summer I will be attending archaeological field school in Pompeii under the direction of Dr. Kate Trusler for a month-long research endeavor in public sanitation.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as in Intern for Ellis Library’s Special Collections Department. I am so grateful to have had the experience in digital exhibition research, writing, and publication. I want to thank John Henry Adams, Kelly Hanson, Anne Stanton, and the entire department of Special Collections for assisting with research, guidance, and allowing me to have this opportunity in exhibition research.

John Henry Adams

John Henry Adams is a librarian in the Special Collections and Rare Books department. He provides instruction and reference for the history of the book in general, but especially for medieval manuscripts, early European printing, the history of cartography, and English and German literature.

home Ellis Library, Hours, Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books Special Collections Open by Appointment this Summer

Special Collections Open by Appointment this Summer

Due to upcoming collections moves, Special Collections will be open by appointment until the beginning of the fall 2021 semester. Visit the Special Collections website to set up appointments for the reading room or microfilm readers, and be sure to ask us if you have any questions.

Stay up-to-date on our moving projects by following us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is head of the Special Collections and Rare Books department.

home Events and Exhibits, Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books, Staff news New Digital Exhibit: Places in the World: Treasures from the Venable Collection

New Digital Exhibit: Places in the World: Treasures from the Venable Collection

There is a new digital exhibit in Special Collections: Places in the World: Treasures from the Venable Collection, curated by John Henry Adams. As the title suggests, the exhibit showcases the recently acquired Gary E. and Janet J. Venable Antiquarian Atlas & Map Collection, a collection of 163 single-sheet maps and 79 bound atlases from the 16th through the 20th centuries. Digital Services is currently digitizing maps from the collection and uploading them to the MU Digital Library so that you can enjoy them even if you can’t manage a trip to Special Collections. 

The exhibit focuses on how we all use maps to understand places in the world. Maps organize our worldview and let us develop an idea of how different locations relate to one another, whether we have been there physically or only mentally. The twenty maps in the exhibit are mainly from the 1600s with a few highlights from the 1500s, 1700s, and 1800s. They include maps of Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the World, each of which is accompanied by a discussion of its context and a few points of interest, whether they be errors or artistic flourishes. We hope that the exhibit piques your interest and makes you look at maps, whether they be in your glove compartment, on your phone, or in Special Collections in a different light!  

home Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books Student-Curated Digital Exhibit on Travel Posters Now Online

Student-Curated Digital Exhibit on Travel Posters Now Online

Three library interns from the English department — Bethany Bade, Katy Bond, and Allie Overschmidt — have collaborated on an exhibit featuring some of our travel posters. You might not expect post-war Europe to have been a travel destination, but tourism was still a major force. Our interns’ exhibit, “Commercial Art” focuses on the role played by artists, slogans, descriptions, and styles of illustration, including typography, in creating national images and identities. It includes posters from across Europe, from Spain up to Norway.

Our interns have done great work over this past semester, researching the background of the posters and describing their importance. Whether you are interested in design or history, art or politics, this is an exhibit you will want to check out!

Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is head of the Special Collections and Rare Books department.

home Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books New Digital Resource: Guide to the Fragmenta Manuscripta Collection

New Digital Resource: Guide to the Fragmenta Manuscripta Collection

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. The collection’s finding aid has been updated and expanded by Dr. Brittany Rancour, who has provided in-depth descriptions of the different genres represented within the collection as well as short biographies of identified authors. The finding aid is also an exhibit with digitized versions of the manuscripts.

The updated site can serve as an introduction to medieval European manuscripts, as a reference aid for researchers working with the collection, and as a teaching tool for faculty interested in locating examples of specific genres and practices within the collection. We hope that it will prove useful during this time of social distancing and perhaps as an inspiration for people to make an appointment to see the originals here in Special Collections.

Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is head of the Special Collections and Rare Books department.

home Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books New Digital Exhibits in Special Collections

New Digital Exhibits in Special Collections

Special Collections’ newest digital exhibit is Leaders and Heroes, curated by John Henry Adams and Courtney Gillie. The exhibit celebrates the accomplishments of historically excluded people, highlighting materials within Special Collections that were written by female, Black, Native American, and LGBTQ+ authors. The exhibit covers a range of topics from literature to social science, from social activism to polar exploration. The oldest piece in the collection is Henry Box Brown’s autobiography from the early 19th century; the most recent is a comic collection by Alison Bechdel from the late 20th century.

In addition to the exhibits, Special Collections has also recreated two in-person exhibits in digital form. One of them was In-Flew-Enza: Spanish Flu in Columbia, curated by Amanda Sprochi in 2016. The exhibit provides a broad overview of the 1918 influenza pandemic as well as a closer look at its impact on Columbia and the University of Missouri. The second is Children’s Literature of the Harlem Renaissance by African American Women, curated by Adetokunbo Awosanmi in 2019. The exhibit showcases twenty-one books published during or shortly after the Harlem Renaissance. Through their art and text, the books challenged stereotypes associated with African Americans.

Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is head of the Special Collections and Rare Books department.

home Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books, Staff news Congratulations to John Henry Adams

Congratulations to John Henry Adams

Special Collections librarian John Henry Adams was awarded the William Reese Company Scholarship to attend California Rare Book School through Zoom in August. He shared his thoughts with us on his experience in the course.

What is your background in instruction?

JHA: I’m a new Special Collections librarian and most of my background in teaching comes from my time in English departments: I taught writing and literature for eight and a half years before I switched careers.  While there is some overlap between English classes and special collections instruction, there are of course some major differences, the biggest being that as a Special Collections librarian, I’m usually not designing a full course but instead doing one specific session.

What course did you take, and what did you learn from it?

JHA: I took the seminar on Better Teaching with Rare Materials.  We talked about doing more engaging, active-learning course sessions and we also talked a lot about how to do effective remote class sessions using special collections materials.  We’re not going to be able to do in-person Special Collections sessions this fall, so that is going to be very useful.

I also got a much better understanding of learning objectives for individual class sessions, which will let me more carefully tailor my instruction to a course’s overall needs.  Special Collections sessions can easily degenerate into being a cool field trip for the class to go see some neat things and learn some interesting information, but ideally we always want those sessions to build on a course’s overall objective without the instructor to have to do some heavy lifting the next session.

What might you do differently in the classroom as a result of this training?

JHA: I think I will be more transparent at the start of sessions as to how materials came to us in Special Collections, especially in sessions that take a more generalist approach.  Special Collections are made up of lots of smaller collections, usually purchased from or donated by collectors, and that typically means limitations in terms of what is in the collection.  Putting that information on the table at the start is important because it clarifies why the collection is what it is and why some things might not be in it.

The course also strengthened my general desire to focus on active learning and to keep as far away from a show-and-tell format as possible.  Special Collections is already doing that, but it’s important to keep pushing that aspect and to give students a chance to experience the materials more fully.

Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is head of the Special Collections and Rare Books department.