Posted by: Pam Hackbart-Dean | February 27, 2017

The Golden Age of American Book Covers

In the 1870’s, book cover art in the United States entered a “Golden Age” that lasted more than fifty years. Some of the work is startling for its prescience and can be associated with art movements that occurred decades after the books were produced.1

Unlike fine bindings of an earlier age, displayed with spines facing out, books with beautiful ornamental covers were designed to be seen from all angles.

By the 1890’s, book-cover art had become so popular that publishers began to use individual artist’s names to sell books. Since this was not generally the case earlier, many great cover illustrations, unsigned, remain unidentified as to the artist.

By 1894, American artists’ monograms or devices regularly appeared on book covers to make their work more easily identifiable. These took various forms: Sarah Whitman used a flaming heart with her initials; W. W. Denslow was known by his stylized sea horse; Earl Stetson Crawford by a crowned “C.” At the beginning of the twentieth century, more than 200 monograms or devices were in use.2 (See poster of some of these monograms.)

The influences on book-cover art are many. American book-cover art may have first been inspired by British decorative books, since many of the major American publishing houses had offices in London. This exhibit lists some of the artistic movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries and attempts to give examples of how each influenced cover art.

One must realize, however, that many artists and illustrators used a combination or fusion of styles and that artists across the country were aware of, and influenced by, the work of others. This makes it harder to identify many of the unsigned illustrations. In most cases, this curator has also attempted to represent influences, rather than rigidly attaching an artist to a particular movement.

The decline of book-cover art was precipitated by the rising popularity of pictorial dust jackets, as well as the First World War and the Great Depression—the time and labor needed to create lavish bindings could no longer be justified.

[1] Minsky, Richard. The Art of American Book Covers, 1875-1930. New York: George Braziller, Inc. 2010, 9.

[2] Ibid., 9.

Posted by: Pam Hackbart-Dean | January 24, 2017

Alexander Lane Talk


Posted by: Pam Hackbart-Dean | December 6, 2016

Doc Horrell Photo collections

Calendars in photos can be helpful for dating the image, but they can also be an eerie time capsule when they are in an unused space. Such is the case with the Doc Horrell Photo Collection. Doc Horrell was a professional photographer working in southern Illinois for decades. He was also a former student of and faculty member at Southern Illinois University Carbondale until his retirement in 1983. He documented the coal mines of southern Illinois starting in 1966 until the mid-80s.

In many of the photos of abandoned mines you can see a calendar hung on a wall or, in this photograph, piled up in front of a window. In others jackets are still hung on hooks. We are not always ready for change. The photos of operational mines are an evocative portrait of a very particular world at a particular time, and are well worth viewing to see what we can learn from them so many years later.

Written by Margaret Heller, Digital Services Librarian, Loyola University Chicago

For more information about this and other CARLI Digital Collections, visit


Posted by: Pam Hackbart-Dean | October 13, 2016

Illinois Archives Month

Illinois Archives Month is in October each year. The purpose of Illinois Archives Month is to celebrate and promote the rich documentary heritage of Illinois by:

  • increasing public awareness of archival materials and repositories.
  • focusing on materials in archival repositories that have broad appeal, and
  • strengthening ties with regular archives users, as well as introducing new and potential users to archival repositories and the documentary heritage there.

Celebrate the importance of Illinois’ historical documents and recognize those who maintain them.


Posted by: Pam Hackbart-Dean | September 9, 2016

Banned Book Week

The American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week runs from September 25 to October 1, 2016. Morris Library will host two events to mark the week, devoted to protecting the First Amendment and intellectual freedom.
On Monday, September 26, you can have your mug shot made holding a banned book. Visit the Banned Books Selfie Station at the north entrance between 11 and 1. We will post pix to #BannedBooksSIUC. You can enter a drawing for a Banned Books Week prize.
On Wednesday, September 28, join us from 1 to 3 in front of the library (or in the rotunda if it rains) to read a brief selection from your favorite banned book. Post a pic to #BannedBooksSIUC.
Do you cherish an open and free society? Stand with others who feel the same way and celebrate your Constitutional rights!

Posted by: Pam Hackbart-Dean | September 9, 2016

Celebrating 10 years of Political Papers

A new exhibit in the Hall of Presidents and Chancellors celebrates Ten Years of Political Papers in Morris Library.  Since 2006 Political Papers Archivist Walter Ray has processed dozens of collections documenting the careers of political figures ranging from Senator Paul Simon (800 boxes) to 1872 Presidential Candidate Victoria Woodhull (four boxes). By now an expert on Illinois politics, Walter has helped to guide researchers to useful finds that made their way into significant histories and biographies.

Congratulations to Walter Ray on this milestone and best wishes on the decade just begun!

Posted by: Pam Hackbart-Dean | August 26, 2016

Dime Novels & Penny Dreadfuls

What did Americans read for cheap thrills before the comic book era? Welcome to the world of Dime Novels and Penny Dreadfuls–colorful magazines for the masses promising action-filled tales of heroes and villains.  A new exhibit in the Hall of Presidents and Chancellors explores this world of lurid adventure. Curator David Bond chose examples from our own collection–titles like Brave and Bold Weekly, Pluck and Luck, Work and Win and the Buffalo Bill Weekly–to illustrate the heyday of this low-brow literature. Enjoy the evocative covers and learn why civic leaders condemned the genre as a pathway to depravity. Open to the public weekdays from 8:30 to 4:30.

Posted by: Pam Hackbart-Dean | July 18, 2016

“Insight” radio programs now available online

Insight, a public affairs program, was broadcast on radio station WRAJ in Anna (Union County), Illinois, between 1965 and 1977. Don Michel, owner and operator of WRAJ, hosted Insight and interviewed interesting people both in WRAJ’s studios and at various locations around the nation.

The collection of 453 interviews includes such national celebrities as Walter Cronkite, Bob Hope, Arthur Godfrey, Colonel Sanders, Spiro Agnew, Ann Landers, Peter Jennings, Danny Thomas, Nancy Reagan, and Ralph Nader. Michel also interviewed many local people, from Anna church elders to the chief of police to the winner of a youth competition at the Anna fair. Southern Illinois University figures on record include Delyte Morris, John Y. Simon, and Buckminster Fuller. Michel also interviewed returning Vietnam veterans and former prisoners of war. Together, this collection of interviews brings to life the social, cultural, and political currents of the 1960s and 1970s in southern Illinois and beyond.

Alerted by tickertape, Don Michel covered the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy from Anna, contacting the Dallas police by phone and talking to an officer who arrested Lee Harvey Oswald. Michel’s continuing interest in the assassination led to interviews in New Orleans with Oswald’s landlord, a co-worker, and others, as well as coverage of the Warren Commission findings and the investigations of New Orleans prosecutor Jim Garrison.

The series was sponsored on WRAJ by the First National Bank of Cobden.  It is available online at

Posted by: Pam Hackbart-Dean | June 13, 2016

Underground and Alternative Newspapers

Underground or alternative newspapers were particularly prolific in the period 1965 to 1973, focusing on countercultural politics, civil rights, ecological concerns, women’s liberation, the draft, and the Vietnam War.  Well-known publications included The Ann Arbor Argus, Berkeley Barb, and Village Voice, but Carbondale and SIU also produced a number of alternative papers during that era.

An exhibit in Morris Library’s Hall of Presidents and Chancellors presents 18 selections of these “underground” printings, published in the Carbondale region as options to mainstream papers.  The Southern Free Press, Big Muddy Gazette, The All-American Rage, Environment, Uhuru-Sasa (Freedom Now), Black Unity, and Kol Shalom are some of the featured titles.  David Bond curated this educational exhibit.

Posted by: Pam Hackbart-Dean | April 11, 2016

Opening of Peter London papers

A reception and symposium will introduce to the region the Peter London papers, a new collection within Morris Library’s Special Collections Research Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The events, which are free and open to the public, are set for April 14 and 15. They will highlight the personal and professional papers of artist and art educator Peter London, chancellor professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He donated his papers, which will complement SIU’s extensive philosophy holdings, to SIU in 2015. The April events, with London in attendance, will mark the opening of the collection to library visitors.

The reception will be at 4 p.m. on April 14 in the third floor rotunda of Morris Library and London will present the keynote address. Also speaking will be Josh Shearer, vice-president of the Southern Illinois Art Education Association, and Pam Hackbart-Dean, director of the Special Collections Research Center.

The art education symposium is from 9 a.m. to noon on April 15 in the same location.

Speakers will include Barbara Bickel, associate professor of art education at SIU; Thomas Alexander, co-director of the Center for Dewey Studies: Jon Davey, SIU architecture professor; Aaron Darrisaw, a doctoral philosophy student who is working as a London Project graduate assistant with funding provided by London; and Patricia Rain McNichols, president of the Spiritual in Art Education Caucus of the National Art Education Association.

London is a Distinguished Fellow of the National Art Education Association, the author of several books about art as a spiritual practice and holistic pedagogy, and an artist with works found in many public and private collections throughout the world. His collection now housed at SIU documents the philosophy of education and art and give researchers insight into the use of art as a socially and personally transformative aesthetic process, according to Hackbart-Dean. She said through his collection, London also demonstrates the connection between the creation of art and the creation of an elevated life — how one informs and enhances the other.

The university’s SCRC is home to numerous art, philosophy and education resources, featuring the works of education philosopher John Dewey, architect and designer R. Buckminster Fuller, and a host of others. The collections are available for research use.

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