Posted by: Pam Hackbart-Dean | August 15, 2017

Charles Lindbergh Comes to Southern Illinois

World War I pilots found that their skills learned in aerial combat could earn them a living.  Barnstorming, or aerial shows in which stunt pilots would perform tricks with airplanes, became a popular attraction in the 1920s.  One such group was the Vera May Dunlap’s Flying Circus.   In early May 1925, Charles Lindbergh joined Dunlap’s Flying Circus.

As part of a baseball promotion for the Southern Illinois Ilard Road Baseball Association, Lindbergh came to southern Illinois.  On May 9, 1925, “Beans” Lindbergh, as he was billed in Carterville, Illinois, performed some daredevil stunts during the show, including stopping his motor three thousand feet in the air and landing with his engine dead.

It would be two years later when “Beans” would become an international celebrity when he became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Posted by: Pam Hackbart-Dean | July 10, 2017

Old Campus

The Old Campus: an Historical Exploration showcases the history and development of the buildings and landmarks on Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s old campus quadrangle from 1874-1930.  The exhibit text and photographs describe the construction, architecture, and functions of SIU Carbondale’s most recognizable buildings.  The sources used in creating the exhibit include histories of SIU, Board of Trustee annual reports, Obelisk yearbooks, SIU course bulletins and printed materials, Carbondale newspapers, and photograph collections in the University Archives.  This exhibit was created by Matt Gorzalski, University Archivist.


Posted by: Pam Hackbart-Dean | June 6, 2017

Solved Mysteries at the Archives

The Special Collections Research Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale has played a key role in solving a century-old mystery.

Scholars knew that Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves and Wilfred Owen rendezvoused somewhere in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1917, sharing stories of the wartime horrors they had witnessed. The discussions and idea exchanges that took place at the get-together, dubbed by some researchers as “potentially the most powerful meeting of English literature in the 20th century,” formed the basis for the future writings of the acclaimed war poets. Morris Library’s SCRC was the key to figuring out where this pivotal meeting took place and the answer received extensive publicity in Europe.

Neil McLennan, a senior lecturer and director of leadership programs at Scotland’s Aberdeen University and former head of history at Tynecastle School in Edinburgh, has conducted extensive research on both sides of the ocean into World War I poets, particularly Owen. After spending a decade searching for information within United Kingdom libraries and archives, he discovered a letter from Sassoon to Graves, written on stationary from the Craiglockhart War Hospital, where Owen and Sassoon met while undergoing treatment for shellshock. The letter was in SIU’s Special Collections Research Center.

That letter and subsequent missives revealed that the trio met at the Baberton Golf Club in Juniper Green on the outskirts of Edinburgh. The location was apparently chosen because Sassoon had a golf match he didn’t want to cancel so he invited the other two men to join him there. The club is still in existence today. The location where Owen, Graves and Sassoon met is significant because the gathering played such a key role in the success of the three notable war poets, according to McLennan.

McLennan’s discovery has resulted in extensive media coverage in the UK. Learning that SIU’s Special Collections Research Center is at the heart of solving a mystery 100 years in the making comes as no surprise to Pam Hackbart-Dean, the center’s director.

“Special Collections Research Center is a place of exploration and discovery,” Hackbart-Dean said. “Scholars and students use our collections to write new histories, explore significant lives, study change, trace the evolution of print, understand cultural shifts and create new literature. Over time, both our holdings and our vision have grown – expanding from an early emphasis on regional history to a global perspective and complementing a focus on traditional academic disciplines with transformative possibilities. We encourage amateur sleuths to uncover their mysteries in Special Collections.”

The SCRC, located on the first floor of Morris Library, houses an extensive assortment of unique and rare historical items including rare books, political papers, letters, manuscripts and much more. The collection features a clay tablet from Senkereh, in present-day Iraq, that is believed to date to 2400-2200 B.C.; a page from the Johannes Gutenberg Bible, the world’s first printed book, inked in Mainz, Germany, 1450-1455; a handwritten copy of a speech Abraham Lincoln delivered several times in the mid-1850s; a letter written by Amelia Earheart; and documents highlighting the criminal enterprises of Charlie Birger, including a pass for his hanging, the last public one in Illinois.

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

New World War I exhibit

“German-Americans and World War I, 1914-1917,” now up on the east side of the Hall of Presidents and Chancellors, marks the centenary of America’s entry into World War I by examining the arguments made by those who tried and failed to keep the U.S. out of the war. Mostly pro-German and anti-British, they promoted American neutrality and opposed arming Britain and its allies. The exhibit is based primarily on propaganda from the records of the Open Court Publishing Company, held in the Special Collections Research Center.

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!

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