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Peek in the Stacks: rare books

Saint Patrick in the Archives

Originally, Saint Patrick’s Day was a religious celebration of the life of the patron saint of Ireland. The March 17th celebration that bears his name is believed to be his death date in the year 461 CE. Saint Patrick is known for having brought Christianity to Ireland and, to a certain degree, to the Anglo-Saxon world.  As a young man in what is now the United Kingdom, he was abducted and enslaved in Ireland. During this period, he leaned on his Christian faith for solace...

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Early African American Poetry and Fiction

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, African-American poetry and fiction began to develop in two distinctly different ways. As educational opportunities improved in selected areas of the United States, some black writers sought to emulate the traditional forms and themes of classical white authors. Still others began to experiment with non-traditional styles, seizing upon opportunities to battle racism through literature...

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George Cruikshank

George Cruikshank was a 19th century engraver, caricaturist, illustrator, and satirist. The Cruikshank family was awash with artist/illustrators, including George himself, his father Isaac, brother Isaac Robert (later known as Robert), and nephew Percy. Cruikshank's career spanned more than 70 years, working in both copper and in wood. He is often cited as the successor of illustrator William Hogarth. While exceptionally prolific, Cruikshank remains best known for his work on sociopolitical topics such as slavery and temperance...

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What is this place?

As people move around the 2nd floor of the library and pass Special Collections and Archives, they sometimes pop in to ask, "What is this place?" Special Collections and Archives holds the library’s rare book and periodical collections, and a wide variety of manuscript collections and individual items. The next question often starts "So, what is your (pick an adjective) item or book?" Today for our blog, we have set out to answer a few of your most pressing questions...

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John Steinbeck Highlights in Special Collections and Archives

Special Collections and Archives holds many rare, unique, limited, and first edition works of American literature, including books by famed author John Steinbeck whose books of fiction and non-fiction have often sparked controversy. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the publication of The Grapes of Wrath, which focuses on the plight of farm workers ...

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What About the Werewolf?

This week’s blog post shines (moon)light on just a few of the books in Special Collections on the werewolf and lycanthropy, from reprints of classical Greek and Roman texts to mid-twentieth century discourse and compilations. What do you know about werewolves, the difference between werewolves and lycanthropes, and why ....

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The History of Scrapbooks

The evolution of the scrapbook dates back centuries, as people began to document their lives, the places they visited, and the significant events that shaped their daily lives in the unique format. Special Collections and Archives holds a wide variety of materials that illustrate this evolution, including scrapbooking's historical roots and the merging of storytelling...

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The Left Book Club

The Left Book Club was a left-wing organization founded in 1936 by labor politician Sir Richard Stafford Cripps, Sir Victor Gollancz, a publisher and humanitarian, and Evelyn John St Loe Strachey a labor politician and writer in the United Kingdom. Its primary purpose was to speak out against fascism and promote peace in the world through its publications. The club supplied a book title for purchase by members every month that covered a number of topics, including science, reporting, fiction, and a range of other subjects, from a left-leaning perspective...

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Miniature Books

When a student or other patron requests a book in the Special Collections and Archives Reading Room, he or she is sometimes surprised to find the book is a part of our Miniature Book Collection. Whether or not a book is called "miniature" is determined entirely by its size; any book smaller than 3" can be considered a miniature book. Miniature books are often made in limited editions. Some people find them so fascinating...

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