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Primary Sourcery

June 20, 2014

New Publication Uses Archived Art

by Caitlin Marineau, Assistant Curator Children's Literature Research Collections 

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One of the lesser-known roles of the Children's Literature Research Collections (CLRC) is loaning materials to other institutions. While the CLRC loans to a variety of organizations, including other museums and archives to show at exhibits, one of the most significant groups we loan to is publishing companies. Authors have donated many full sets of illustrations to our collection of original children's book artwork. As part of our role as caretakers of this material, we make it available to publishers who wish to print new editions of the books from the original art.

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Most recently, the Aladdin imprint at Simon and Schuster requested the artwork for a new edition of At the Beach (originally published in 1987), written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Harlow Rockwell. Based on their new scans of the original art, a beautiful new version of the book was published June 10, 2014.

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June 13, 2014

YMCA Publishing Work with Russian Emigres: Preserving Culture in the Midst of Chaos

(This was recently posted on the blog for the YMCA Archives. We invite you to read it here and continue on their site.)

Melanie Doherty is a Project Archives Research and Reference Assistant at the Kautz Family YMCA Archives. She joined the staff in February 2012 as a student assistant on a project to compile summary descriptions of collections in the YMCA Archives and stayed on after graduating in December 2013 to continue working on the project. This spring we invited her to utilize the knowledge of the collections she acquired through the project to curate of a small exhibit on a topic of her choice. The results are on display in the case outside the Archives through at least September 2014. Please stop by and take a look any time Andersen Library is open.


When I was given the opportunity to create an exhibit for the Kautz Family YMCA Archives I was very excited. I wanted to focus on a topic that really highlighted what the materials within the archive were able to express. I wished the exhibit to strike a chord with the viewer in a similar manner that a collection was able to strike a chord with me. I had worked with so many of the collections that I had what seemed like a million ideas. In order to narrow the exhibit down to one subject I focused on topics that had human interest at the heart of them but also showed great historical significance.

The exhibit narrates a story of the life of the Russian exile after the Russian Revolution and the importance of of reading material to those exiles. The Russian Revolution initiated a situation of turmoil for millions. Russia's citizens experienced starvation and repression. Between 900,000 and 2 million became exiles, among them writers, artists, engineers and people from every sort of social and educational background. Many were committed to preserving the pre-revolutionary Russian culture and way of life while living abroad. The means to do this, however, was out of their immediate reach as most left the majority of their possessions behind.

At risk was an adequate education for the younger generation of Russian exiles and the survival of Russian intellectual ideas, philosophy and ideology, due to censorship. Many refugees did not speak the local language and often were unemployed or forced to take work that did not match their prior employment. Families could not educate their children as they wished because of language barriers and a lack of Russian cultural influences. After being forced to leave Russia due to a governmental ban on religious youth organizations, the North American YMCA saw the need to continue their work by serving the Russian exiles.

Continue reading on the YMCA Archive News site.

June 5, 2014

The Charles Babbage Institute Hosts a Two-Day Archiving Workshop for the Association for Computing Machinery

By Arvid Nelsen, Archivist, Charles Babbage Institute and Electronic Records Strategist


The hush that fell over the room was short-lived. Sample boxes from the collections at the Charles Babbage Institute were on the tables and workshop participants immediately concentrated on them. Almost as suddenly, however, the chatter began to rise. "Can I use a box from Carl's collection?"

One workshop participant was excited about the Carl Machover Papers. She had known Carl - the donor of CBI's first major collection on computer graphics - and was an active member of the same professional organization to which Carl had dedicated so much of his own time and energy, SIGGRAPH - the special interest group (SIG) dedicated to computer graphics and interactive techniques. It was a thrill to have Carl's materials in front of her.


Another participant looked up from her box of materials from the 1978 History of Programming Languages Conference in Los Angeles and said, "You picked out a box you knew I'd like!"

A box from the Edmund C. Berkeley Papers prompted, "I never would have expected this! I think of Berkeley as a computer person but this material is all about his social activism!"

Continue reading "The Charles Babbage Institute Hosts a Two-Day Archiving Workshop for the Association for Computing Machinery " »

May 23, 2014

Andrea Davis Pinkney's Arbuthnot Lecture online!

by Caitlin Marineau, Assistant Curator, Children's Literature Research Collections

Writer, editor, and publisher Andrea Davis Pinkney presented the 2014 May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture on May 3, 2014 at the University of Minnesota, hosted by the Children's Literature Research Collections. Ms. Pinkney is a bestselling author of over 20 books for children and young adults. Pinkney's books include "With the Might of Angels," "Bird in a Box," "Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down," "Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride," "Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters," and "Duke Ellington." During the course of her career, Pinkney has launched many high-profile publishing and entertainment entities, including Hyperion Books for Children/Disney Publishing's Jump at the Sun imprint, the first African American children's book imprint at a major publishing company. Her complete lecture, titled "Rejoice the Legacy!" is now available on YouTube.

May 16, 2014

Finding Inspiration in Unlikely Places

By Daniel Necas, Archivist, Immigration History Research Center Archives

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An invitation to a workshop (and a kind offer by the organizers from Coventry University to cover expenses) brought me to Europe for a couple of weeks in March. It was my first time of travelling to Omagh, Northern Ireland, where I was to meet with a group of corpus linguists, historians and computer programmers interested in digitizing and studying migrant correspondence. They came from places such as Germany, France, Ireland, Spain, England, and the Netherlands, to offer their perspectives to supplement those of the locals from the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies in Omagh.

Since flying to Europe from Minneapolis works so well through Amsterdam, I also used the opportunity to visit the Europeana Digital Library headquarters in the Royal Library in the Hague to discuss the possibilities of working in the Europeana on-line environment with our European partner institutions involved in the IHRC/A's project which makes digitized immigrant letters available for research - Digitizing Immigrant Letters. Since all of the digitized letters from the IHRC/A's project currently reside in the University of Minnesota's U Media repository and will later this year be included in the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), we are working to connect this and possibly additional North American content with letters from immigrants to their relatives in Europe where such letters are now mostly archived. Given our past experience of working with the DPLA and Europeana on the "Leaving Europe" exhibition and in view of the close relationships between the two major digital libraries/archives, it appears to be a promising way of bringing together both sides of the migrant correspondence exchanged between the two continents over the past 150 years.


Travel plans are usually made with the intentions of getting somewhere and seeing someone and/or doing something there. As one of the bonus wonders of travel, however, I have become to appreciate the fact that along the way, one almost always learns also from what happens or is encountered unintentionally. On my way to the Royal Library in the Hague, I passed by a large parking area for bicycles. They were stored on multilevel racks full of bicycles of all sorts, obviously used for commuting to the historic center of the old city. Each morning the racks are filled, and in the afternoon the bicycles are retrieved to be used again. Much like archival boxes on shelves, each bike must remain safely and readily accessible. Space is a scarce commodity in the Netherlands, just like in most archives. The solutions found in the Hague and other cities of Holland give me confidence that archivists will figure out ways to store their materials more efficiently. Observing the morning arrivals in the Hague, it was obvious that in addition to the space provided by the city and the cleverly designed technology, deliberate and disciplined behavior of the users ("retrievers" and "re-shelvers") is an indispensable component in the process of making it work.

May 2, 2014

On the Road with Sherlock Holmes

by Tim Johnson, Curator of Special Collections & Rare Books
E. W. McDiarmid Curator of the Sherlock Holmes Collections


This past October one of our Friends of the Sherlock Holmes Collections attended the premiere of "The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes" at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) in Portland. I was very pleased she could attend, especially as I was unable to travel west due to a previous engagement at the annual conference of the Minnesota Library Association. In February I had the opportunity to attend the second opening of the exhibit in Columbus, Ohio. It was a chance to see a dream realized. For the past three years I have worked with the team from Exhibits Development Group and Geoffrey Curley and Associates as a collections consultant to the project. My trip to the opening in Columbus was the first opportunity for me to see the final results of our work, and to follow Mr. Holmes across country in a tale Conan Doyle might have entitled "The Adventure of the International Exhibition."


Even before the formal opening at OMSI, the show generated some "buzz" on social media. On the "GeekDad" blog senior editor Jonathan Liu wrote: "Today is the opening of the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes, a fantastic exhibit at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) in Portland, Oregon. If you're a fan of the good detective in any of his incarnations, this is an exhibit worth seeing. I got a sneak peek at the show yesterday, but I'll definitely want to come back again with my family..." His post featured an image of one of our Hound manuscript leaves, one of the gems in the show. BBC American noted: "If you're anywhere near Oregon over the next month, and you're one of the growing army of fans of any of the various interpretations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories--who collectively should go by the name deductionists, by rights--there's a treat coming your way."

Continue reading "On the Road with Sherlock Holmes" »

April 29, 2014

"Discovering Treasures: Materials found in collections that are in process or have been recently processed in the Manuscripts Division"

by Christine Avery, Archives Assistant and Kate Hujda, Assistant Archivist/Processor

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As spring slowly makes its way to Minnesota, the Manuscripts Division decided it was time to take down our "Winter in the Archives" exhibit in place of a more spring-like display. The recent hire of two new staff members, as well as additional student workers, has allowed the Manuscripts Division to really dig into previously unprocessed collections - which has given us much to be cheerful about!

The increase in processing in our division is largely due to money provided by the Cultural Heritage Initiative. A funding campaign sponsored by the Friends of the Library, the Cultural Heritage Initiative strives to preserve our literary and performing arts legacies. This $3.3 million campaign has allowed our division the staff, time, and resources necessary to process many of our unprocessed collections.

We decided to take advantage of this recent influx by sharing some of the artifacts our staff has unearthed through processing. Our window display, aptly titled "Incoming Treasures," features collections that are either now available or soon-to-be available for public research. Brimming with items from architects, authors, theater, and dance, our display represents the breadth of the collections we've been processing.

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The highlights of our display include a script from Theatre de la Jeune Lune's Children of Paradise (PA 107), a sketch of the Minneapolis Milling district riverfront (1910s) from the Archie Parish Collection (N256), and Buoyancies: A Ballast Master's Log written by Joseph Amato from the Joseph A. Amato Collection (MSS88). (As this is work in progress, not all finding aids are available at this time.)

Continue reading ""Discovering Treasures: Materials found in collections that are in process or have been recently processed in the Manuscripts Division"" »

April 17, 2014

Arab American Print Material on Display at the Immigration History Research Center Archives

by Sara Wakefield, Reference Librarian, Immigration History Research Center Archives

In the fall of 2013, the Immigration History Research Center & Archives partnered with the University of Minnesota's Religious Studies Program and the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, MI to bring their traveling exhibit, "Little Syria, NY: An Immigrant Community's Life and Legacy" to the Andersen Library's gallery space on the 1st and 2nd floors.

In conjunction with this exhibit, Sara Wakefield, Reference Librarian, and Hope Shinn, Student Archives Assistant, created a display of Arab American print material from the IHRC Archives. 

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The display includes duplicate rare books, contemporary books, serials, and photographs. The display also includes a map from the 1936 Festival of Nations Exhibit Hall in St. Paul, MN, sponsored by the International Institute of Minnesota. On their Homelands Exhibits hall map you will find a Syrian booth between the Italian and Chinese booth.

Items of interest on display are a copy of the Federation Herald of the Syrian and Lebanese American Federation of the Eastern States, April 25, 1949 edition with the headline "New Haven club rehearses for Arabic-English musical comedy May 22". The photograph of this theater troupe and their exquisite costumes is amazing. Also on display is a copy of Sittee Saltany A'laat: a Compilation of Arabic Proverbs Grandmother Told Me by Margaret Salamey, 1982 and Prairie Peddlers: the Syrian-Lebanese in North Dakota by William Sherman, Paul Whitney, and John Guerrero, 2002.

Continue reading "Arab American Print Material on Display at the Immigration History Research Center Archives" »

April 11, 2014

Jewish Cookbook recipes for Passover

By Kate Dietrick, Assistant Archivist, Nathan and Theresa Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives

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Next week begins the Jewish holiday of Passover, or Pesach, the commemoration of the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt over 3,300 years ago. It is said that when the Israelites were freed they left in such a rush that they could not wait for bread dough to rise, or leaven. So in commemoration, during Passover no leavened bread is eaten. Chametz, five types of grain (wheat, barley, spelt, rye, and oats) are forbidden; thus matzah, flat unleavened bread, is eaten during the eight-day holiday. But what might you make with matzo?

One of the unique collections that the Jewish Historical Society amassed before donating their materials to the University of Minnesota is a collection of Jewish cookbooks. These cookbooks, mostly from local women's groups, are filled with great recipes, including ones particular to Jewish holidays.

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In Hot off the Range, compiled by the Jewish Women of the Hibbing-Chisholm Hadassah in 1981, they list suggested menus for Sabbath and holidays.

Continue reading "Jewish Cookbook recipes for Passover" »

April 4, 2014

The Importance of Serendipity

By Kris Kiesling, Director of Archives and Special Collections

You never know when your day-to-day work is going to have some kind of unanticipated impact. As you'll see from Rebecca Wilson's posting on her Exploring Minnesota's Natural History project blog (a project to digitize all of the natural history materials in the University Archives funded by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund), the lantern slides from the Minnesota Seaside Station have been discovered by the Pacheedaht Heritage Project.

One of the best parts of our jobs as archivists is that we never know how our materials are going to be useful or used. Ned Huff was at the Seaside Station to study the botany of the area, not to document the indigenous peoples. But as it turns out, that documentation is now enormously important, perhaps even more important than his primary purpose for being in British Columbia. Serendipity? You bet! How fortunate that the University of Minnesota established the Seaside Station so researchers could work there. How fortunate that Ned Huff was there with his camera and took an interest in things not botanical. And how fortunate we now have the technology to share these slides, which have been part of our collections for decades, with the world.

And, if you're not already following Rebecca's blog, I highly recommend it!

March 23, 2014

100th Birthday of Dr. Norman Borlaug

Elmer L Andersen.jpeg"What nobler purpose can there be for a University than to gather up the prizes of a culture--preserve them, propagate them, make them available--so that the best of what has gone before can be preserved and built on?" -- Governor Elmer L. Andersen

"I've worked with wheat. But wheat is merely a catalyst, a part of the picture. I'm interested in the total economic development in all the countries. Only by attacking the whole problem can we raise the standard of living for all people in all communities, so they will be able to live decent lives." -- Dr. Norman E. Borlaug

Elmer L. Andersen (1909-2004) embraced many roles: businessman, Minnesota governor and state senator, newspaper publisher and writer, University of Minnesota Regent, University alumnus (B.B.A. '31), philanthropist, and rare book collector.

The University of Minnesota Archives is one of the units housed in Elmer L. Andersen Library, the University's archives and special collections facility named in Governor Andersen's honor, and among its 19,000 cubic feet of material chronicling the history of the University, you will find the personal papers of Norman E. Borlaug (1914-2009): University alumnus (B.S. '37, M.S. '39, Ph.D. '42), noted plant pathologist, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and father of the Green Revolution.

Continue reading "100th Birthday of Dr. Norman Borlaug" »

March 14, 2014

The Migration and Social Services Collections

By Ellen Engseth, Curator of Immigration History Research Center Archives and Head, Migration and Social Services Collections

Joining the staff of Archives and Special Collections a few months ago, I have the welcome charge of exploring the contents of four archives, or what we call units. These are the Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives (UMJA), the Kautz Family YMCA Archives, Immigration History Research Center Archives (IHRCA), and Social Welfare History Archives (SWHA). The Migration and Social Services Collections is a new administrative construct which includes these four units; individual archives remain distinct within it. Because these four archives complement one another so well, we have an exciting future working with each other to benefit our users, the collections, and staff.

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Though I haven't yet had the time to physically explore the collections, I have been learning from my knowledgeable colleagues and reading our collection descriptions. I am repeatedly struck with how the sources in each of these units are global in scope, though at first glance it might not appear so. For example, a current favorite collection from the YMCA of the USA's Archives, fondly termed "the punch cards," uniquely informs us of Americans serving the final year of WWI in various YMCA non-combatant roles, largely in the European theater. The Y's International Division records contain source material on countries from Angola to Zimbabwe. The rich and deep collections of the IHRCA document among other things the relationships, travels, and culture of migrating people moving across the globe. UMJA's collection also share the story of migrating people, those identifying with a specific culture or religion and who moved to or through the upper Midwest region of the U.S. The SWHA includes an important collection: the records of the International Social Service, USA Branch, an organization which promotes professional and legal social work practices across national borders. As noted in the finding aid, "[the] records reflect human needs and social services in areas undergoing war, enforced migration, or other crisis as well as peacetime social and family services worldwide. In particular, the records deal with methods and problems in international adoption." I am both humbled and excited to begin working with all of these materials that help us in the world understand each other better.

Continue reading "The Migration and Social Services Collections" »

March 7, 2014

Camping on the Farm

By Linnea Anderson, Archivist, Social Welfare History Archives


One of the most enjoyable aspects of teaching with archival collections is participating in the students' discovery process as they uncover unexpected documents and stories in the archives. It is a chance for staff as well as students to gain new insights about collections.

While preparing materials for an honors seminar on Summer Camps, I discovered Minnie Walker, the "camp cow," in the Hartley House records at the Social Welfare History Archives. Hartley Farm camp in Towaco, New Jersey was the summer camp for children from Hartley House settlement in the "Hell's Kitchen" neighborhood on Manhattan's West Side. Settlements such as Hartley house served as community centers for urban neighborhoods with large immigrant populations. Among many other services, they offered recreational activities and stressed the importance of exercise and the natural environment for children raised in an urban setting. Many settlements sent children to summer camp - often at property provided by a donor. 

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In addition to being a charming peek at the history of camping, the story of the Hartley Farm cows is also a wonderful example of how much information can be gleaned from only a few documents. The Hartley House records include two registry forms for Holstein cows at the camp. The first is a certificate of registry from The Holstein-Friesian Association of America for a cow named Minnie Walker. Minnie's sire was the illustriously named Sir Hengerveld Prilly Walker and her dam was listed as Minnie Abbekerk 2nd. She was born in December, 1915; purchased for the camp from W. S. Phillips of Huntsville, New Jersey; and registered in May, 1919. Using the diagram provided on the back of the registry form, someone carefully drew Minnie's markings in blue ink.

Continue reading "Camping on the Farm" »

February 28, 2014

Student Staff Interviews

By Mary Blissenbach, Student Supervisor

In Archives and Special Collections, we hire a number of student employees to help in many ways. Student staff work in the Reading Room as a Reading Room monitor to assist researchers as needed. They help to communicate questions researchers may have to the Collecting unit staff. Student staff may also work in our Information Registration desk in 219 helping first time researchers. When they are working in these areas they may have projects from any of the ASC Collecting Units. Student staff may also work within one of the ASC Collecting units to help with paging materials from the stack area, shelving materials when researchers are finished, and helping with data entry for the unit. As you can see, our student staff plays a vital role in the functioning of Archives and Special Collections. This spring we will be losing four of our wonderful student staff due to graduation. I took some time to find out more about them and also find out how working in Archives and Special Collections may have impacted their college experience.

Interview with Lindsey Geyer
Lindsey.jpgLindsey is one of our star student staff that will be graduating this spring. I sat down with her for a short interview to find out more about her.

Name and how long you have worked in Archives and Special Collections ASC?
Lindsey Geyer, I have worked here for about three and a half years. I started during my second semester of freshman year, and never looked back!

What ASC units have you worked for in your time here?
I have staffed the Reading Room and Information/Registration desk, as well as work projects for Children's Literature Research Collections CLRC. I have also done projects for various units including SWHA, UMJA, YMCA to name a few.

Do you have a favorite memory of working in ASC?

Continue reading "Student Staff Interviews" »

February 20, 2014

An Evening with Steve Berry

By Dr. Marguerite Ragnow, Curator, James Ford Bell Library

Join us for an evening with bestselling author and historical preservationist, Steve Berry, as he shares his writing and research process. A reception and book-signing follow the talk.

Wednesday, Feb 26, 7:00 p.m., Coffman Memorial Union Theater, University of Minnesota east bank campus.


Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of "The Lincoln Myth," "The King's Deception," "The Columbus Affair," "The Jefferson Key," "The Emperor's Tomb," "The Paris Vendetta," "The Charlemagne Pursuit," "The Venetian Betrayal," "The Alexandria Link," "The Templar Legacy," "The Third Secret," "The Romanov Prophecy," and "The Amber Room."

His books have been translated into 40 languages with 17 million copies in 51 countries. They consistently appear in the top echelon of The New York Times, USA Today, and Indie bestseller lists.

History lies at the heart of every Berry novel. It's his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have crossed the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners, and their popular writers workshops. To date, more than 2,000 students have attended those workshops.

In 2012 and 2013 Steve's devotion to historic preservation was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve its spokesperson for National Preservation Week. Among his other honors is the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award; the 2013 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award given by Poets & Writers; the 2013 Anne Frank Human Writes Award; and the Silver Bullet, bestowed in 2013 by International Thriller Writers for his philanthropic work.

Tickets: $5 for U of M students; $10 for Friends of the U of M Libraries/Associates of the James Ford Bell Library; $15 general public.

Tickets available online at and by phone at 612-624-2345.

This event is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Libraries in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the James Ford Bell Library.