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November 24, 2015

Sam Loyd, Puzzle King: Exhibition and Talk by Will Shortz

Filed under: Events,Exhibitions — Lilly Library @ 12:06 pm

Indiana University Libraries 2015Did you miss the talk by Puzzlemaster Will Shortz at the Lilly Library on November 5th? Don’t worry! Here’s your chance to be a virtual guest in our beautiful library. You can view and listen to the full presentation by Mr. Shortz here.

This fall in the Main Gallery we are proud to present an exhibition on the nineteenth-century puzzle designer Sam Loyd. This is our first puzzle exhibition in the Main Gallery and was made possible with the gracious help of co-curator Will Shortz, who, in addition to being the editor of the New York Times Crossword, is also a collector of and expert on Sam Loyd and his puzzles. A number of the items on display were loaned by Mr. Shortz for this exhibition.

The nineteenth century was a fertile time for the development of puzzles, as can be seen from the puzzles featured in our Slocum Room exhibition. By the end of the century, there had been two major international puzzle crazes, and in the last years of the century there were a few notable puzzle designers. The most prolific of these designers was the American puzzle designer Sam Loyd.

Sam Loyd began his career as a puzzle designer at sixteen when he became the chess problem editor for Chess Monthly after having designed his first puzzle at the age of fourteen. Soon he was expanding his designs into other types of puzzles. The first puzzle he designed in this new direction was The Trick Donkeys produced around 1868. This puzzle came on a card that was divided into three pieces, two with donkeys and one with two jockeys. The goal was to place the pieces so that it looks like the jockeys are riding the donkeys. It seems simple to figure out but rarely does anyone find the answer without seeing the solution. This puzzle was followed up by many other puzzles, including The Pony Puzzle, The Puzzled Neighbors, and The Wonderful 31 Game just to name a few. These puzzles were featured on an early form of advertising called trade cards, which were cards placed on store counters to advertise products. Many of these were printed by Loyd himself from his own print shop in his hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey.

As the popularity of newspapers and magazines began to grow, Loyd started contributing to many publications. His puzzles appeared in puzzle columns for newspapers such as The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, The New York Journal, The Boston Herald, and The Chicago Record-Herald. One of his most well-known puzzle publications was his monthly column in Woman’s Home Companion which he published from 1904 to his death in 1911. The puzzles in these publications were gathered and published in 1914 in the collection titled Cyclopedia of 5,000 Puzzles, Tricks and Conundrums.

Come see the exhibition Sam Loyd: Puzzle King in the Main Gallery of the Lilly Library, which will be on display through December 20th. You can also pick up a free copy of The Trick Donkeys to test out your puzzle solving skills!

Andrew Rhoda

Curator of Puzzles

Jerry Slocum, donor of the Slocum Puzzle Collection (left); Will Shortz, New York Times Crossword Puzzle Editor (center); and Andrew Rhoda ,Lilly Library Curator of Puzzles (left)

Jerry Slocum, donor of the Slocum Puzzle Collection (left); Will Shortz, New York Times Crossword Puzzle Editor (center); and Andrew Rhoda ,Lilly Library Curator of Puzzles (left)

November 20, 2015

The Nadine Gordimer Manuscript Collection

Filed under: Manuscripts — Cherry Williams @ 12:25 pm

gordimer_001Among the Lilly Library’s many notable literary manuscripts collections are the papers of South African author Nadine Gordimer. You can view the finding aid for this collection here.

Gordimer, the daughter of Jewish immigrants, was born on November 20, 1923 in the small East Rand mining town of Springs. Her mother, Hannah (“Nan”) Myers, came from London; her father, Isidore, left Latvia as a teenager to “escape pogroms and poverty.”

The Lilly Library’s Gordimer Collection contains approximately 6,800 items, dating from 1934 to 2004. The initial materials were acquired in 1993; they contain fascinating items from Gordimer’s childhood, such as her diary from 1934, which narrates the beginning of the illness that caused Gordimer’s mother to take her out of school at age 11, during which time she began to write. We have continued to add to the collection on a regular basis, most recently with a rich assemblage of twenty-five years of correspondence between Gordimer and her editors at Viking, Marshall Best, Denver Lindley, and Alan Williams.

The correspondence is noteworthy for its candor. Among other topics, Gordimer shares her thoughts on writing and authorship, describes her creative process, and discusses how it feels to have one’s book banned. In a letter dated July 15, 1966, she writes of the South African government’s ban on The Late Bourgeois World: “[T]he ban does upset me. Odd feeling to walk past a bookshop and realize that the book will never be on sale there. It’s as if a line had gone dead between other people and me; as if, to everyone but my friends, I have suddenly become invisible.”

In correspondence with Playboy editor Robie Macauley, Gordimer discusses Nelson Mandela, the current situations in Mozambique and South Africa, the unlikely prospect of retirement, and more. In her letter of December 5, 1992, she comments, “Retired, you say; but of course we writers never retire unless we go ga-ga, or when we die… All around me people in other occupations are lost in the idleness they longed for, I seem to be the only one toiling on – thank god. I just wish I could retire myself, with good conscience, from the endless obligations that distract me from that toil. But living in South Africa, at this time, makes that pretty unlikely.”

Among her many honors and awards, Gordimer won the Booker prize in 1974 for The Conservationist and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991. In another letter to Macauley, dated January 24, 1994, Gordimer discusses a subsequent trip to the Nobel Prize ceremonies, describing the previous months as “fervid,” “with travels culminating in the trip with Nelson Mandela as part of his entourage at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies, and my determination to finish a novel I had worked on for nearly four years.”

Gordimer died on July 13, 2014 at the age of 90. The collection is available to view in the Lilly Library Reading Room but requires advance notice. Please contact the Public Services Department ( to order material.

Cherry Williams, Curator of Manuscripts

November 19, 2015

Tweeting Presidential Signatures

Filed under: In the news,Manuscripts — Rebecca Baumann @ 11:23 am
Our most famous presidential signature: George Washington accepting the presidency of the United States.

Our most famous presidential signature: George Washington accepting the presidency of the United States.

The Lilly Library is well known for its remarkable collections of American history. To celebrate the year leading up to the 2016 presidential election, we’ll be tweeting the signatures of all 43 United States presidents. Each signature will be tweeted on the president’s birthday. Zach Downey has been combing our archives to find interesting examples of the John Hancock of each of our Commanders in Chief. We’ve prioritized signatures from the years during which each individual held the presidency, though this is not possible in all cases. This archival scavenger hunt shows how rich and deep the Lilly Library archives are. Each signature derives from a document with its own story to tell.

Watch our blog for updates to this presidential project, and follow us on Twitter @IULillyLibrary to see all 43 presidential signatures in the upcoming year!

Rebecca Baumann, Education and Outreach Librarian

Zach Downey, Digitization Manager

November 10, 2015

The Civil War Diary of Henry Frank Dillman

Filed under: Manuscripts — Erika Dowell @ 5:35 pm

Dillman1Dillman2Visitors to the Lilly Library often ask, “What proportion of the library’s books have been digitized?” or “Are you working on digitizing all these books and manuscripts?” It is hard to give a firm answer to these questions. Yes, we are digitizing materials all the time, but the books and manuscripts we put online only amount to only a tiny portion of the overall collections. Given that the Lilly Library holds more than 450,000 books and more than eight million manuscript items, it should not be a shock that only a small percentage is available online. But that small portion is growing all the time and includes very interesting materials. Coordinating the Library’s digital activities is part of my job, and I’ll be blogging about our digitized materials, starting with an item of local interest.

Part of the Indiana History manuscripts collection, Henry Franklin Dillman’s Civil War diary was digitized as part of “At War and at Home,” a collaborative project from the Monroe County Public Library (MCPL) that documents Monroe County history in the US Civil War period. Dillman, born in 1838, joined Company “G” of the 31st Indiana Volunteer Infantry in the fall of 1861. The Company consisted of volunteers from Bloomington and Monroe County.

His diary is less a day-to-day account than a history of Company “G,” written just a few months before the end of the war. Private Dillman himself calls the book a “little history,” and it seems to have been written when the Company was camped at Shellmound, Tennessee, near the close of 1864, though he reports on a few events of January 1865.

Dillman’s diary was edited and published in pamphlet form during the war’s centennial by the Monroe County Historical Society and Monroe County Civil War Centennial Commission, and there are local copies in the IU Libraries and the Monroe County Public Library.

But wouldn’t it be more fun to read the original? It is waiting for you right now online:

Reading old handwriting can seem daunting if you haven’t done it before, but Dillman had very good penmanship. He was not a poetic or particularly descriptive writer however. His account focuses on facts, dates, and places, but he includes some patriotic language in his preface:

PREFACE: The object of the writer in putting out this little history is to let those who read know that Co.”G” 31st Indiana has never been idle. Always where danger was most thick, there was the 31st. Always in the midst.

And in the final two pages of account:

Honor to whom honor is due.

Our country and flag E Pluribus Unum is our motto.

Death to all traitors, North and South.

And Abraham Lincoln for next President.

And a vigorous prosecution of the war till every Rebel is made to kiss the soil he has polluted with his crimes.

Besides the intrinsic interest of reading the digital version or even better—reading the original in person—one often finds that published versions don’t match the manuscript exactly. For example, in the published version of Dillman’s diary, the phrase “E Pluribus Unum“ is omitted from the above passage. I found at least one other instance where the published version doesn’t match the manuscript, and there are likely a few others to be found. It could be a mistake or it could be an editorial decision, but for now it is an open question.

Erika Dowell,

Associate Director and Head of Public Services



Henry Franklin Dillman, Civil War diary, Indiana History mss.,

At War and at Home: Monroe County Timeline 1855-1875,

November 2, 2015

Boxer Codex on Exhibit at New York Asia Society

Filed under: Exhibitions,In the news,Manuscripts — Cherry Williams @ 3:46 pm

boxer1One of the Lilly Library’s most treasured manuscripts, the Boxer Codex, is currently on exhibit at New York City’s Asia Society. The Boxer Codex (ca. 1595) boxer2contains written descriptions and over seventy-five colored drawings of the various ethnic groups of the present-day Philippines (including the Tagalogs, Visayans, Zambals, and Negritos) at the time of their initial contact with Spanish explorers. The painting technique, paper, ink, and paints suggest that the unknown artist may have been Chinese. It is a beautiful and unique artifact of early European contact with the Far East.

The manuscript is on loan to the Asia Society for its exhibition titled Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms, which runs from September 11, 2015 through January 3, 2016. As noted in a recent New York Times review, this “gorgeous and historically intriguing exhibition” documents the work of “astoundingly skillful goldsmiths… with many objects… so small and finely made that… magnifying glasses are provided in order for viewers to see the marvels of the technical prowess they reveal.”

In addition to the Boxer Codex, the exhibition contains approximately 120 pieces from the 10th through the 13th centuries which provide an opportunity to view the original gold objects depicted by the artist of the Boxer Codex as he illustrated the costumes and accoutrements of the indigenous peoples of the Southeast and Eastern regions of Asia. During a visit to the Museum, one of the consulting curators of the exhibition, Florina Capistrano-Baker of the Ayala Museum, Philippines, shared with me the discovery that it was illustrations in the Boxer Codex which allowed the exhibition’s curators to determine how some of the objects originally would have been used or worn.

The Boxer Codex came to the Lilly Library as a part of the collection of books and papers of Charles Ralph Boxer, a historian of Dutch and Portuguese maritime and colonial history who wrote many books and articles about the origins and growth of the Dutch and Portuguese empires.  Boxer joined the British Army in 1923 and while on military assignment to Hong Kong and other similar locales, he began to assemble a notable rare book collection which subsequently was seized by the Japanese for the Imperial Library in Tokyo. Following the war, however, he was able to recover most of his library, and it is these materials which form the nucleus of his collection which then came to the Lilly Library. The Boxer Codex is part of the Boxer mss. II, and can be viewed upon request in the Lilly Library’s Reading Room when it returns in January. A digitized version can be viewed here.

Cherry Williams, Curator of Manuscripts

Will Shortz Lecture and Reception: Thursday, November 5

Filed under: Events,Exhibitions — Lilly Library @ 9:46 am

15PuzzleImageJoin us on Thursday, November 5 at 5:30 PM as we welcome Will Shortz to the Lilly Library! Mr. Shortz will be discussing “Puzzle King” Sam Loyd in conjunction with our spectacular fall exhibition. Come in to see the exhibition, hear the talk, and stay for a reception to follow. This event is free and open to the public; seating is limited and will be filled on a first come, first serve basis.

Also join us on Wednesday, November 4 at 8:00 PM in the Whittenberger Auditorium at the Indiana Memorial Union for “The Art of the Puzzle,” a Q&A with Will Shortz, followed by a live word puzzle competition.

Born in Crawfordsville, Indiana, Will Shortz began his career at a young age. By sixteen, he was a regular contributor to Dell puzzle publications. Shortz graduated from Indiana University’s Individualized Major Program with a degree in Enigmatology. After graduating with a law degree from the University of Virginia, he returned to puzzles, becoming NPR’s Puzzlemaster in 1987 and editor of the New York Times crossword in 1993. Shortz owns the world’s largest puzzle library, with more than 25,000 puzzle books and magazines dating back to 1533.

October 30, 2015

Halloween Countdown: Spooky Treasures of the Lilly Library, part 5

Filed under: In the news,Manuscripts — Rebecca Baumann @ 8:35 am

poe_00276We’ve had a blast counting down thirteen of the spookiest treasures at the Lilly Library. We hope you’ve enjoyed delving deep into our stacks to learn more about these unusual items. Every treasure tells a story, and each of these spooky items opens the door to a fascinating collection, full of potential for research, wonder, and discovery. And now, we present our final and favorite spooky treasure to celebrate Halloween!

Number 1: Edgar Allan Poe’s hair (1848 and 1849)

The Lilly Library has two locks of Edgar Allan Poe’s hair.  Both are from the collection of J.K. Lilly, Jr. Poe was one of Lilly’s early collecting obsessions. He initially focused on collecting first editions of Indiana authors, but in 1927, he fixed his eye on a more ambitious prize: Poe.  In The J.K. Lilly Collection of Edgar A. Poe, David A. Randall (the first Lilly Librarian) writes, “Poe was, and is, the glamor boy of the American collecting scene. The decision was an audacious one, considering the youth and inexperience of the collector, the times, and the competition to be faced. Yet in the short space of about seven years he was able to bring together one of the finest Poe collections ever assembled.” This collection includes numerous editions of Poe’s books (including inscribed first editions), runs of magazine and periodicals with Poe contributions, letters, signed legal documents, artwork, the only known full-length daguerreotype of Poe, and the crown jewel of the collection: a previously unrecorded copy of Poe’s first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems. It is believed that only approximately 50 copies of this small pamphlet were printed in 1827, and they were attributed only to “A Bostonian.”

A lock of Poe’s hair was included in a black tin box of letters that Poe wrote to Sarah Helen Whitman which Mr. Lilly purchased from Max Harzof of the firm of G.A. Baker. The hair is a chestnut-colored curl, tucked into an envelope which reads “Mrs Sarah Helen Whitman / Providence / RI / Sent to me on the evening / of Nov 8th 1848. Sarah Helen Whitman, a sort of 19th-century version of the modern “Goth” girl, was known for wearing black clothes and a coffin-shaped charm, holding séances at her house, and writing transcendentalist poetry. She was briefly engaged to Poe until she received an anonymous note at the library claiming that he had returned to drink (which he had sworn off of as a condition of their engagement). David Randall describes their courtship as “brief and violent … during which both parties were often alternately or jointly hysterical.” In a letter dated November 7th (the day before the hair was sent), Poe writes to her, “If you cannot see me—write me one word to say that you do love me and that, under all circumstances, you will be mine. Remember that these coveted words you have never yet spoken—and, nevertheless, I have not reproached you.” Whitman destroyed most of the final letter that Poe sent to her. The only fragment she kept (also in the Lilly Library’s collection) reads, “I blame no one but your mother.” Several libraries and museums have clippings of Poe’s hair, but to our knowledge, this lock sent to Sarah Helen Whitman is the only extant sample cut while he was still living.

The second lock of hair in the Lilly Library’s collection was sent in 1849 to “Annie” Richmond (Mrs. Nancy Locke Heywood Richmond) by Maria Clemm, the mother of Poe’s cousin and wife Virginia Clemm, who died (aged 24) in 1847. Richmond befriended Mrs. Clemm in the hopes that she would bequeath Poe’s papers to her when she died. She also claimed (probably falsely) to have had a romantic relationship with Poe that overlapped with his courtship of Sarah. This lock of hair is encased in a pearl-ringed brooch inscribed on the back with Poe’s death date. It was almost certainly clipped from Poe’s head after he died as a souvenir.

Both locks of hair are popular items in the Lilly Library’s collections; many students and visitors enjoy a frisson of excitement when they see this bodily relic of the past alongside Poe’s handwriting and the books that made him famous in their original physical form.

Rebecca Baumann

Education & Outreach Librarian / Your Ghostly Halloween Hostess





October 27, 2015

Halloween Countdown: Spooky Treasures of the Lilly Library, Part 4

Filed under: Books,In the news,Manuscripts — Rebecca Baumann @ 8:55 am

To celebrate Halloween, we’ll be counting down thirteen of the weirdest, creepiest, and most unusual items found in the depths of the Lilly Library’s collections. Among the most beautiful and hallowed books treasured by collectors throughout generations, we’ve accumulated some objects that also excite the dark side of our imagination… and what better time to revel in the dark, strange, and fantastic than Halloween? We’ll be posting all thirteen here on our blog, but you can also follow us on Twitter @IULillyLibrary to see more images of these spooky treasures.

Number 4: Cat Marionettes

lilly-library_00118Sometimes there’s a fine line between cute and creepy—a very fine line. These cat marionettes are charming, whimsical—even downright adorable (just look at those cute kitty faces!). But over the years at the Lilly Library, they have frightened more than one staff member. What seems to unnerve people in particular are their hands—their white porcelain human hands. We’ve seen many a face move from “awwww!” to “ahhhh!” as the eyes drop from the figures’ faces to their hands. It’s the juxtaposition of the realistic human hands and bodies with the cat faces that creates an uncanny effect (and the many horror movies about dolls that come to life and kill people don’t help either!). Despite their creepy vibe (or perhaps partially because of it) these cat marionettes are a great favorite among the Lilly Library staff. They were purchased in Europe by former Library Director Bill Cagle because of the objects they hold in their hands—books for one cat and manuscripts for the other—representing the major parts of the Lilly Library’s collections. Originally intended as decorations (and hanging for many years in the Curator of Manuscript’s office), they have since become part of the collections. Current staff members have affectionately named them Becky and Saundra after two of the Lilly Library’s greatest librarians of the past.





Number 3: EC Comic Books (1950s)

comics-groupThe stereotypical view of America in the 1950s comes straight out of Leave it to Beaver. But can you imagine Wally and the Beav reading these comic books?! Believe it or not, these were among the most popular and successful comic books of the early 1950s. When William Gaines (later famed as the founder of Mad magazine) inherited “Educational Comics” from his father in 1947, he changed “EC” to “Entertaining Comics” and began publishing the type of comics that soldiers who had become hooked on comic books during WWII wanted to read—crime, suspense, horror, westerns, and science fiction. EC published such notorious titles as Tales from the CryptVault of HorrorCrime SuspenStoriesShock SuspenStoriesTwo-Fisted TalesWeird Science, and Weird Fantasy. Many of these comics were sexually suggestive, graphically violent, gruesome, and gory. They also tackled contemporary issues such as racism and drug use. They usually had their own bizarre morality as well—after a rousing bloodbath, the criminal elements were usually dispatched in an equally gruesome way, showing that “crime does not pay.” These comics were popular with adults and children; the latter audience caused a moral panic that eventually went all the way to the United States Congress. Psychiatrist Frederick Wertham published Seduction of the Innocent in 1954, a book that claimed that these type of comic books were the direct cause of juvenile delinquency; he also famously claimed that Batman was “obviously” gay and that Wonder Woman was far too strong to be a “natural” woman. The ensuing public outrage caused a Congressional inquiry into comic books in which publishers such as William Gaines were asked to defend themselves.  No laws against comics were passed, but instead the comics industry chose to censor itself.  They created the Comics Code Authority in 1954 which “certified” comics as being reasonably wholesome.  William Gaines, publisher of EC, refused to join, leading to the company’s ultimate demise, as distributers would not carry non-Code comics.  The “Code” banned the words “horror,” “terror,” and “weird” from covers.  Even though these comics were killed by censorship, their influence is enormous.  Writers such as Stephen King and directors including George Romero and Steven Spielberg read these comics as children, and their colorful, cinematic, and at times almost gleeful violence had an impact on their own work.


Number 2: Weird Anatomy (1701-16)

qm21-r9_00001This engraving is found in Dutch anatomist Frederick Ruysch’s Thesaurs Anatomicus. Ruysch was a professor of anatomy at Leyden and Amsterdam, notable for his developments in anatomical preservation. The engravings in this volume are exquisitely whimsical and delicate. Infant skeletons are posed in quaint attitudes—playing a violin or weeping into a tissue—surrounded by human organs arranged in landscapes that resemble deep sea flora. Although they do not serve an educational or anatomical purpose, these fold-out engravings are not only spooky but stunningly beautiful.

Stay tuned the #1 Spooky Treasure in our countdown on October 30 and be sure to follow us on Twitter @IULillyLibrary to see more images of these spooktacular items.

Rebecca Baumann

Education and Outreach Librarian / The Vault-Keeper

October 23, 2015

New Manuscript Acquisition: Papers of J. Greg Perkins

Filed under: In the news,Manuscripts — Cherry Williams @ 11:13 am

Perkins1It is with pleasure that the Lilly Library announces the recent acquisition of the papers and manuscripts of author J. Greg Perkins. Dr. Perkins’ generous donation documents the creative processes involved in the making of his monumental work of fiction, the 19-volume series Darkness Before Mourning.

One of the largest works of serious fiction ever created by a single author, the materials were over 40 years in the making and provide a remarkable window into American society, life, families, and personal relationships from the 1950s to the present. Beginning with the first volume in the series, The Announcers, each independent work forms part of a biographical continuum, exploring in profoundly dark semi-fictionalized form the author’s searing experiences. The works are published by Chatwin Books of Seattle Washington.

Born in Kokomo, Indiana, Dr. Perkins is a proud graduate of Indiana University with a B.S. in chemistry and a Ph.D. in biochemistry. He was also a postdoctoral Fellow in neurochemistry at the University of Iowa. Perkins has written numerous New Drug Applications (NDAs), Investigational New Drug Applications (INDs) and scientific papers, as well as the co-author of the book, Pharmaceutical Marketing: Principles, Environment, and Practice, 2002.

With over 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Perkins has been a senior executive at Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Hoffman-LaRoche, and Burroughs Wellcome. His many professional accomplishments include elucidating the mechanism of action for Estraest, a widely prescribed female hormone replacement product, and serving as Vice President of Drug Regulatory Affairs for Hoffman-LaRoche Inc. where he was responsible for all regulatory affairs and was the FDA liaison for all Roche U.S. ethical drugs. During this time he helped to introduce Zalcitabine (ddC) for AIDS. Prior to Hoffman-LaRoche, he worked at Burroughs Wellcome as Head of Regulatory Affairs (Consumer Products) where, during the course of his tenure, he was responsible for the design and execution of clinical trials as well as devising and executing a program for the OTC conversion of Actifed and devising regulatory strategies for the approval of AZT for AIDS.

A Faulkner scholar and enthusiast, throughout these years of remarkable professional accomplishments, Dr. Perkins wrote extensively, engaging in what he calls, “writing therapy,” never intending for anyone else to read or witness his works on the page until three years ago, when he began to consider adapting part of the work as a script for a play. It was while working on the script that his work was discovered and subsequently published by Chatwin Books. This unique intersection of an Indiana author, an IU alumni, and a distinguished member of the pharmaceutical world with the Lilly Library, offers exceptional research opportunities for scholars from many disciplines in addition to the interested general public.  The materials will be available for use in the Lilly Library Reading Room after the collection has been processed.

Cherry Williams, Curator of Manuscripts

October 22, 2015

Halloween Countdown: 13 Spooky Treasures of the Lilly Library, Part 3

Filed under: Books,In the news,Manuscripts — Rebecca Baumann @ 11:35 am

To celebrate Halloween, we’ll be counting down thirteen of the weirdest, creepiest, and most unusual items found in the depths of the Lilly Library’s collections. Among the most beautiful and hallowed books treasured by collectors throughout generations, we’ve accumulated some objects that also excite the dark side of our imagination… and what better time to revel in the dark, strange, and fantastic than Halloween? We’ll be posting all thirteen here on our blog, but you can also follow us on Twitter @IULillyLibrary to see more images of these spooky treasures.

Number 7: The Muller Mouse (ca. 1945-1964)

muller_01723I bet you didn’t know that there’s a mouse in the Lilly Library. While we have never spotted any live rodents (save the flying squirrels that occasional come down the chimney), there is a mouse skin in the Lilly Library’s collections. The mouse resides among the papers of Hermann Joseph Muller (1890-1967) geneticist and Nobel prize laureate. Among numerous other prestigious appointments, Muller was a Research Professor in the Indiana University Department of Zoology from 1945 until his retirement in 1964. A year after his arrival at IU, Muller received the Nobel Prize for his discovery that genetic mutations can be induced by x-rays. He received many more awards and tributes over the years, including the Bossom Award, the Kimber Genetics Award, and several honorary doctorates. In his work in genetics, Muller worked with innumerable mice and fruit flies; we don’t know why this particular mouse was so special that his skin was preserved. It was kept with Muller’s papers and the material from his desk along with a genetic pedigree (seen in photo). You can learn more about Muller and his papers here.




Number 6: Momento Mori (late 15th century)

ricketts-130_00002The extensive collection of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts at the Lilly Library are usually described as “beautiful,” “breathtaking,” and “inspiring”–seldom as “spooky.” However, some medieval texts contain images called “Momento Mori,” a Latin phrase meaning, “Remember you will die.” These are reminders that all beauty and all things are transient and earthly life and material objects are, in the end, mere vanity. This skull wearing a belled hat (the symbol of the fool) and spitting blood is found in Ricketts 130, a late 15th-century French Book of Hours. It is not part of the intentional design but rather a doodle added by an owner or reader.






Number 5: Postmortem Photograph (19th century)

woodward_00014Postmortem photography is the practice of taking pictures of the recently deceased. While this may seem horrendously morbid today, in the 19th century, the practice helped families to remember the beloved dead and move forward in the grieving process. It was an especially common practice for infants who died in the home; these photos would be the only image and record for a family to remember a departed child. Infant mortality was high, but families still wanted to remember those who were with them even for only a short time. The photo here comes from the papers of the Woodward family of Buena Vista, Monroe County, Indiana. Learn more about the collection here.





Stay tuned the next installment of Spooky Treasures on October 27 and be sure to follow us on Twitter @IULillyLibrary to see more images of these spooktacular items.

Rebecca Baumann

Education and Outreach Librarian / She-Who-Lurks-in-the-Stacks

October 20, 2015

Exciting Additions to the Orson Welles Collection

Filed under: In the news,Manuscripts — Cherry Williams @ 8:26 am

The Lilly Library is pleased to announce the addition of important new acquisitions to our Orson Welles manuscript collections. A full description and inventory are available here.

The new additions include:

  • Welles’ personal copy of the 3rd revised final shooting script for Citizen Kane, which has been heavily annotated and signed by the principal cast members
  • Welles’ personal stage play script for Moby Dick, containing pencil annotations in Welles’ hand throughout
  • Welles’ personal, multi-color revised Final Screenplay for “Badge of Evil,” the working title for Touch of Evil, dated January 24, 1957
  • Welles’ personal typed and hand-annotated manuscript for a proposed—but never filmed—television adaptation of Citizen Kane from the 1950s

The Welles manuscript collections are among the Lilly Library’s most treasured holdings in the area of film, television, and radio. The Welles-related collections at the Lilly Library consist of nearly 20,000 items relating to the life and work of Orson Welles and are of great interest to students, scholars, and the general public, including researchers from all over the world. Indiana University recently hosted a series of events honoring Orson Welles in the spring of 2015. Orson Welles: A Centennial Celebration, Symposium and Exhibition was a multi-disciplinary series of events that included a major exhibition at the Lilly Library titled 100 Years of Orson Welles: Master of Stage, Sound, and Screen, a twelve-program film screening series, and a symposium that included two keynote addresses and nearly thirty paper presentations attended by eighty-six registrants.

The collections are open and available for use during regular Lilly Library operating hours. We’re excited to share these new acquisitions with scholars, researchers, faculty, students, and anyone else who is curious to take a peek into the creative process that goes into crafting works of monumental cultural significance.

Cherry Williams, Curator of Manuscripts


New Lecture Series Starts Monday, October 26

Filed under: Events,Exhibitions,Manuscripts — Cherry Williams @ 8:10 am

ricketts-97_00001Join us on Monday, October 26, 4:00-5:30 pm in the Slocum Room as we inaugurate “Monday Scholars’ Talks,” a new monthly discussion group focusing on various strengths of the Lilly Library’s collecting areas and featuring scholars from around the campus.

The first meeting will concentrate on the upcoming exhibition planned for the Lilly Library Main Gallery in spring of 2016, titled “The Performative Book: Agent of Creativity from Medieval Europe to the Americas.” The exhibition’s co-curators, Professor Hildegard Keller of Germanic Studies and Professor Rosemarie McGerr of Comparative Literature, will explore the focus and impetus of the exhibition. Also present will be Jim Canary, Head of the Lilly Library Conservation Department, who will provide insights into the behind-the-scenes activities involved in mounting an exhibition, and Lori Dekydtspotter, President of the Friends of the Lilly Library, who will introduce the speakers.

A reception will be provided courtesy of the Friends of the Lilly Library. Anyone with an interest in special collections, rare books, or medieval studies is welcome to attend!

October 19, 2015

Halloween Countdown: 13 Spooky Treasures of the Lilly Library, Part 2

Filed under: Books,In the news,Manuscripts — Rebecca Baumann @ 1:20 pm

To celebrate Halloween, we’ll be counting down thirteen of the weirdest, creepiest, and most unusual items found in the depths of the Lilly Library’s collections. Among the most beautiful and hallowed books treasured by collectors throughout generations, we’ve accumulated some objects that also excite the dark side of our imagination… and what better time to revel in the dark, strange, and fantastic than Halloween? We’ll be posting all thirteen here on our blog, but you can also follow us on Twitter @IULillyLibrary to see more images of these spooky treasures.

Number 10: “As a hungry Eagle was Seeking for Prey…” (ca. 1734-1745)

johnson-j_00018The Lilly Library is well known for its vast collection of children’s literature, and most of this literature is delightful, whimsical, and charming. However, our modern-day view that children should be protected against the grimmer elements of life is not one that is always reflected in items crafted for children in the past. This card—handmade on Dutch paper by a mother for her children—shows an eagle swooping down on a helpless infant. The back of the card reads:

As a hungry Eagle was / Seeking for Prey, / He spy’d a young Child in / A Cradle that lay; / The Mother was absent, / And no creature by, / So the Baby he Seiz’d, and / Flew up to the Sky: / The Child cry’d and Scream’d, / But his Tears were in vain, / For his Life, was soon ended, / And with it all pain.

While it may seem cruel to read such a rhyme to a child, this card taught two important lessons to its 18th-century audience. First, don’t leave your mother’s side, and second, the inevitable end of life brings a release from pain and suffering. Even in wealthy families, infant mortality rates were high–childbirth was a dangerous undertaking for both mother and baby. Children needed to be taught to understand and accept deaths in their families. We can also imagine that a precocious child might delight in and even laugh at this rather morbid image.

This card comes from one of the Lilly Library’s most remarkable collections, the manuscripts of Jane Johnson, which consist of teaching tools made by hand by Johnson for the basic primary and moral instruction of her four children. They offer a rare peek into the life on an 18th-century family and portray a mother’s sense of how to entertain children as well as introduce them to the discipline and pleasure of reading. Read more about the Jane Johnson collection here.

Number 9: Stereoscopic Skin Clinic (1910)

rl81-r35-1910_00001Another of the Lilly Library’s major strengths is its collection of medical books, dating back to such landmarks in the history of medicine as the second edition of Johannes de Ketham’s Fasciculus Medicinae (1493) and the first edition of Andreas Vesalius’s De humani corporis fabrica (1543). More recently added to our holdings is a spectacular array of dermatological books and atlases. This item from the dermatology collections was devised by entrepreneur Selden Irwin Rainforth in early 20th-century America to aid American doctor in the diagnoses of skin disease. The stereoscopic device allowed viewers to see two nearly identical photographic images in 3-D. This set, the first edition of the device, includes 132 cards, each with a listing of the disease’s symptoms and notes for treatment. Ailments include psoriasis, eczema, acne, scabies, and syphilis. This device was invaluable to doctors who, without today’s methods of collaboration and knowledge-sharing, might very well encounter a patient with an ailment that they had never seen. Certainly photography revolutionized the literature of dermatology. See all books in the Lilly Library’s dermatology collection here.


Number 8: Manuscript of “The Ash-tree” by M.R. James (before 1904)

pr6019-a6-g6_00001Our list of spooky treasures would hardly be complete without at least one truly terrifying horror story… and no one wrote terrifying horror stories better than M.R. James, English antiquarian and medieval scholar best remembered for his chilling ghost stories such as “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad,” “A Warning to the Curious,” and “The Ash-tree.” In “The Ash-tree,” Sir Richard Castringham inherits a country estate, only to discover that his ancestor condemned a woman to death as a witch, and she cursed the estate before she died. The root of the evil is in the ash tree outside his window. In one of the story’s most spine-tingling moments, Richard sees something abhorrent emerging from the tree:

“And now you would guess, so deceptive is the half-darkness, that he had several heads, round and brownish, which move back and forward, even as low as his chest. It is a horrible illusion. Is it nothing more? There! something drops off the bed with a soft plump, like a kitten, and is out of the window in a flash; another — four — and after that there is quiet again.”

You’ll have to read the story yourself to discover what these accursed things might be. The Lilly Library holds both the first edition of Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1904), in which the story was first published, and also the manuscript draft—with corrections in James’ hand—of the story itself. The manuscript can be found in the Lilly Library’s English Literature mss.

Stay tuned the next installment of Spooky Treasures on October 22nd and be sure to follow us on Twitter @IULillyLibrary to see more images of these spooktacular items.

Rebecca Baumann

Education & Outreach Librarian / Scream Queen

October 14, 2015

Halloween Countdown: 13 Spooky Treasures of the Lilly Library, Part 1

Filed under: Books,In the news,Manuscripts — Rebecca Baumann @ 9:51 am

To celebrate Halloween, we’ll be counting down thirteen of the weirdest, creepiest, and most unusual items found in the depths of the Lilly Library’s collections. Among the most beautiful and hallowed books treasured by collectors throughout generations, we’ve accumulated some objects that also excite the dark side of our imagination… and what better time to revel in the dark, strange, and fantastic than Halloween? We’ll be posting all thirteen here on our blog, but you can also follow us on Twitter @IULillyLibrary to see more images of these spooky treasures.

Number 13: “Awful Murder and Mutilation of a Woman, in Whitechapel” (ca. 1875).

Believe it or not, this pamphlet is not about Jack the Ripper. The Ripper didn’t stalk the alleys of Whitechapel until 1888, fourteen years after this was published. This pamphlet describes a murder that was, in its time, as famous as those of the Ripper. Henry Wainwright was a bankrupt owner of a brushmaking business who murdered his mistress Harriet Lane. Wainwright had been living for over three years as both himself–with a wife and five children–and also as “Mr Percy King,” an alias he used for his life with his mistress who he “married” in 1871. When he lost his business and could no longer sustain his double life, he shot Harriet, dismembered her, and attempted to dissolve her body in chloride of lime.

Wainwright’s crime might never have been discovered if it weren’t for his former employee Alfred Stokes. A year after the murder, Wainwright asked Stokes to help him move some parcels from his warehouse. Stokes smelled a foul odor seeping from one of the packages, and, suspecting that Wainwright was stealing the human hair used in brushmaking, opened it. He found not hair but a human hand. He quickly covered it up and allowed Wainwright to get into his cab and leave. Stokes ran at a discreet distance behind the cab until he found a police officer willing to listen to his tale–which took several tries. When they opened the parcels, they found human remains and arrested Wainwright and his new lady companion, the dancer Alice Day. At the brushmaking warehouse, police found an open grave filled with chloride of lime, a hammer, a chopper, and a spade. They arrested Wainwright, along with his brother Thomas and mistress Alice Day as accessories. The arrest and trial filled the penny papers and scandal sheets for months. Victorians loved nothing so much as a good murder, and they followed the story with avid interest. The story had many elements that made it exciting–the double life of Wainwright and Harriet, his new mistress, the beautiful dancer Alice Day, and the dramatic nature of the crime’s discovery, including Alfred Stokes’ heroic jog after a murderer in a cab. This pamphlet from the Lilly Library’s collection is a rare relic of that time… though perhaps we are not so different today in our interest in morbid scandals and hidden crimes. Henry Wainwright was sentenced to death and hanged on December 21, 1875.

This pamphlet–which tells the whole story of Wainwright’s crime, trial, and death–can be found in the Lilly Library’s London Lowlife Collection. See the inventory here: or see the digitized collection here: (IU affliated users only).

Number 12: Theodore Dreiser’s death mask (1945)




There’s no question that death masks are creepy–they are wax or plaster casts of a person’s face made after they are deceased. The practice dates back to the middle ages and continued into the 20th century. Death masks served many purposes; in the 18th and 19th centuries, they were used to record the features of unknown corpses for later identification. More commonly, they were used as the basis for portraits or simply as a reminder of a beloved friend or relative.

The Lilly Library has several death masks in its collections, including Frederick Tennyson (Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s brother) and Clifford Odets. We also have a life mask (made while the subject is still living) of Abraham Lincoln. We chose to feature Dreiser because of his gloomy visage and reputation in life for being a rather nasty fellow. Along with the mask, the Lilly Library holds manuscript drafts of Dreiser’s Dawn: An Autobiography of Early Youth, a memoir of his difficult childhood and adolescence in Indiana, written from 1912-1915 but ultimately suppressed by the author, who came to have misgivings about the blunt quality of the work, especially his own depiction of teen sexuality. Learn more about the Dreiser papers here:


Number 11: Photograph of Lizzie Borden (ca. 1889)

pearson-ii_00002Perhaps you’ve heard this charming rhyme:

Lizzie Borden took an ax / And gave her mother forty whacks. / When she saw what she had done, /She gave her father forty-one.

Most of us have heard the story of Lizzie Borden at one time or another–it is one of America’s most famous unsolved murder cases. In 1892 in Fall River, Massachusetts, Andrew and Abby Borden–the father and stepmother of 32-year-old Lizzie–were brutally murdered. Actually, Abby was given 19 “whacks” and Andrew 11–one of which split his eyeball clean in half. Lizzie was acquitted after a huge public trial, the circumstantial evidence (a burned dress and hatchet) dismissed. Ever since then, people have wondered if Lizzie really did it. This photograph of Lizzie comes from the papers of Edmund Lester Pearson, a librarian who wrote several volumes of true crime in the early 20th century. He was fascinated by the Bordon case and collected this photograph, along with a letter, of Lizzie. The photo was taken around 1889, several years before the murder. Learn about Pearson’s papers here: or his books here:

Stay tuned the next installment of Spooky Treasures on October 19th and be sure to follow us on Twitter @IULillyLibrary to see more images of these spooktacular items.



Rebecca Baumann

Education and Outreach Librarian / Resident Ghoul

October 13, 2015

Wednesday, October 14: Lecture on Charles Darwin

Filed under: Events — Rebecca Baumann @ 8:20 am

Come to the Lilly Library to enjoy an evening with Charles Darwin–or at least with books, letters, photographs, and other artifacts associated with him. This is your opportunity to hold in your hands a first edition of Origin of Species, signed by Charles Darwin himself. We will also encounter one of Darwin’s greatest foes, Louis Agassiz, the pre-eminent American scientist of his time, as well as other opponents of evolutionary thought. Among those was the anonymous creator of a very peculiar version of human descent featured in this illustration from 1874, who proposed that, if humans weren’t descended from apes, Charles Darwin certainly was!

Our expert guide to these highlights from the Lilly Library’s collection will be Christoph Irmscher, author of the most recent biography of Louis Agassiz, Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013).

Date: Wednesday, October 14, 7:00-8:30 PM

Location: Lilly Library Slocum Room–seating is limited

This free lecture was organized by the Sassafras Audubon Society:


October 9, 2015

Rational Amusements: Nineteenth-Century Puzzles on Exhibition in the Slocum Room

Filed under: Exhibitions — Lilly Library @ 11:43 am
"Kopfzerbrecher," Anchor #8. F. Ad. Richter & Co., 1899

“Kopfzerbrecher,” Anchor #8. F. Ad. Richter & Co., 1899

One of the puzzle exhibitions this fall at the Lilly Library features puzzles from the last half of the nineteenth century. During this time period, people began to find themselves with more leisure time, and puzzles were one way that they entertained themselves and also exercised their intellects. This exhibition features the different types of amusements that were available in the late nineteenth century.

One particularly famous group of puzzles in the exhibition are the Richter Anker puzzles. Also referred to as the Anchor Stone Puzzles, they were created by the F. Ad. Richter Company of Rudolstadt, Germany (Slocum and Gebhardt 12-13). Through the company’s association with the Kindergarten educational movement, Richter began developing building block sets and other materials for educators to use (Slocum and Gebhardt 14-15).

Soon after the Richter Company developed a ceramic stone version of the Tangram, a puzzle popular with likeminded educators, which they called Der Kopfzerbrecher (Slocum and Gebhardt 20-21). Also called The Anchor Puzzle in English due to the company’s ship anchor logo, this puzzle was the first in a long line of puzzles from the company. Other puzzles from the Richter Company featured in the exhibition include the Kreis-Rätsel (Circular Puzzle), the Kreuzzerbrecher (Cross Breaker), the Blitzableiter (Lightning Conductor), and the Kobold (The Goblin).

Another famous puzzle featured in the exhibition is The 15 Puzzle. This puzzle created a craze in 1880 that was unrivaled until the production of the Rubik’s Cube. The object of the puzzle is to take a set of numbered block, place them in the provided tray in a random order and then slide the numbers to achieve the correct numerical order. One of the reasons this puzzle created such a craze was the fact that when the blocks are placed randomly, half of the time the puzzle is unsolvable. This led to situations in which one person would solve the puzzle and then give it to another person who would start from one of the impossible positions.

For a number of years the true designer of the puzzle was a mystery. Great American puzzle designer Sam Loyd claimed that he created the puzzle, accepting the fame and infamy that came with it. However, puzzle researchers Jerry Slocum and Dic Sonneveld were able to find definitive evidence that the designer was a postmaster from Canastota, New York, Noyes Chapman (109). Unfortunately for Mr. Chapman, his patent for The 15 Puzzle was rejected, most likely because it resembled another patent submitted a year earlier (Slocum and Sonneveld 100-102). Soon afterwards the puzzle traveled by word of mouth to Boston where it was first commercially produced by Matthias Rice (Slocum and Sonneveld 109).

Other puzzles include classic take-apart puzzles that are featured in Professor Hoffmann’s classic work Puzzles Old and New. Professor Hoffmann, pseudonym of English lawyer Angelo John Lewis, was the first writer to categorize puzzles. The book is considered an authority on the puzzles of the period and provided collectors in the late nineteenth century with a wealth of information previously unavailable (Hoffmann vi). Some puzzles have become so associated with Hoffmann’s book that they are known even today as “Hoffmann” puzzles (Hoffmann vi). In the exhibition are examples, both from the nineteenth century and modern reproductions, of these classic “Hoffmann” puzzles.

These items and more nineteenth century puzzles are available in this Slocum Room exhibition, where you can see the wide array of intellectual amusements that were available in the late nineteenth century. The exhibition will run until the end of the fall semester.

Andrew Rhoda

Curator of Puzzles

Cannon and Ball, ca. 1886

Cannon and Ball, ca. 1886

Works Cited

Hoffmann, Professor. Puzzles Old and New. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1893.

—. Puzzles Old and New. Ed. L. E. Horden. Facsimile edition. London: Martin Bresse Limited, 1988.

Slocum, Jerry and Dic Sonneveld. The 15 Puzzle: How it Drove the World Crazy. Beverly Hills, CA: The Slocum Puzzle Foundation, 2006.

Slocum, Jerry and Dieter Gebhardt. The Anchor Puzzle Book: The Amazing Stories of More Than 50 New Puzzles Made of Stone. Beverly Hills, CA: The Slocum Puzzle Foundation, 2012.





October 2, 2015

Happy Birthday, Lilly Library

Filed under: Events — Joel Silver @ 11:50 am
J. K. Lilly and Herman B Wells opening door to the newly-dedicated Lilly Library. October 3, 1960.

J. K. Lilly and Herman B Wells opening door to the newly-dedicated Lilly Library. October 3, 1960.

Fifty-five years ago, on October 3, 1960, Indiana University was the site of a momentous event. On that day, hundreds of people from Bloomington and from around the world gathered on campus to witness the dedication of the newly-completed Lilly Library, which was designed and constructed to preserve and make available the rare book and manuscript collections of Indiana University.

The dedication of this building to hold the University’s special collections was the culmination of decades of activity on the part of librarians and generous benefactors.  The University Library had begun collecting rare books in the early twentieth century, and in 1942, with the acquisition of Joseph B. Oakleaf’s Abraham Lincoln collection, there was enough significant material to warrant the creation of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, which was located in the building now known as Franklin Hall.  Other important collections of American history and literature soon followed, but it was the gift to IU in the mid-1950s of his collection of books and manuscripts by J. K. Lilly, Jr. that marked the turning point.  President Herman B Wells realized the importance of Mr. Lilly’s collection, and he felt that the University’s rare books and manuscripts should reside in a building better suited for their preservation and use, which should be situated at the center of campus in the “Fine Arts Plaza,” which was anchored by the Indiana University Auditorium, and which would soon include the Fine Arts Building and Showalter Fountain.

The Lilly Library was designed by the architectural firms of Eggers and Higgins of New York and A. M. Strauss of Fort Wayne.  The architects were inspired by other special collections libraries already existing on American college campuses, such as the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan and the Houghton Library at Harvard University, as well as by some of the other nearby limestone buildings on the IU campus.  The result was a building designed to serve both the research and museum functions of a special collections library, while maintaining views in the public areas of what has been called “the woodland campus of Indiana University.”  This attention to the variety of uses to which special collections libraries may be put, from curious visitors viewing the items on display, to senior researchers making detailed comparisons of books that can be found together only here in Bloomington, has remained a focus of the Lilly Library over the last fifty-five years, and the Library’s felicitous setting on IU’s woodland campus has helped to perpetuate the special feeling that permeated the dedication ceremonies of October 3, 1960.

Herman B Wells speaking at the dedication of The Lilly Library. October 3, 1960.

Herman B Wells speaking at the dedication of The Lilly Library. October 3, 1960.

The speakers on that day, from campus officials to visiting dignitaries, described the Lilly Library as a cultural treasure, as a place of wonder, and as a building in which the collected knowledge of the world would be preserved and disseminated.  This knowledge has grown exponentially since October 3, 1960, and the Lilly Library, as a part of the Indiana University Libraries, has continued to preserve and disseminate it.  We continue to expand our collections, which now include film scripts, mechanical puzzles, miniature books, artists’ books, as well as modern literary, historical, and scientific landmarks unknown to Mr. Lilly and the other collectors whose energy and generosity have helped to make the Lilly Library into a world-renowned research institution.  And we continue to expand the way that we disseminate this knowledge, from the photostatic copies of 1960 to electronically-published blog postings such as this.  On this day, we honor what our donors and predecessors have done for all of us, and we dedicate ourselves once again to the mission inscribed on the plaque just inside the Lilly Library’s front doorway, to preserve the “heritage of the best that has been thought and written through the ages.”

Joel Silver


Lilly Library, Indiana University

October 1, 2015

Follow the Lilly Library on Twitter

Filed under: In the news — Rebecca Baumann @ 9:56 am

The Lilly Library is now on Twitter! Follow us @IULillyLibrary. We’ll be tweeting news, events, and plenty of captivating images and stories from our collections. Indulge your curiosity in rare books and manuscripts!

September 30, 2015

Celebrating Banned Books Week

Filed under: Books,In the news — Guest Blogger @ 1:40 pm

rg136-k73-1833_00002Banned Books Week 2015 (September 27–October 3) is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) to “promote awareness of challenges to library materials and celebrate freedom of speech.”

ALA promotes your freedom to choose any material to read as well as the freedom for authors to express their opinions even if that opinion might be considered unpopular.

Libraries and schools around the country face attempts to remove or restrict materials, based on the objections of a group or sometimes a single person; this attempt to restrict is considered a challenge. Materials that are removed from reading lists and bookshelves are considered banned.

“Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.” (ALA website)

Books have been subject to censorship for centuries, and the Lilly Library has many books that were considered sensational, scandalous, or vulgar at some point in history.

One such controversial book is The Fruits of Philosophy, or the Private Companion of Young Married People by Charles Knowlton. It is a miniature book published in 1832 about birth control. The text contained a summary of what was then known on conception, listed a number of methods to treat infertility and impotence, and explained birth control in plain language and without moral judgements. The monograph was printed small–81 millimeters to be exact–so that it could easily be hidden by the patients to whom Dr. Knowlton gave it.

Knowlton was prosecuted, fined, and later (after a second edition was more widely circulated) imprisoned for three months hard labor for publishing the book. In the UK, social reformers Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Besant were also prosecuted for publishing and distributing the book. The publicity from these trials only increased the popularity of the little volume, and it is credited by scholars for popularizing contraception in Great Britain and America.

The Lilly Library’s copy of The Fruits of Philosophy comes from the library of miniature book collector Ruth Adomeit, whose over 16,000 tiny volumes are now housed among the Lilly Library’s collections. The case in which she stored it is wrapped with baby-themed wrapping paper—a somewhat cheeky housing for a book that once sent men and women to prison.

Modern books are still being challenged. The Lilly Library has copies of these controversial titles–and many more:

  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
    • Considered “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic and just plain filthy.”
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
    • “Lord” and “Oh Lord” used as expletive
  • To Kill a Mockingbrid by Harper Lee
    • Portrays racial inequality, rape, has objectionable language
  • Adventures of Huckelberry Finn by Mark Twain
    • Racially offensive, uses “coarse” vernacular language
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    • Portrays alcohol/cigarettes, has sexual content, uses vulgar language
  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
    • Portrays magic and witchcraft

For more information about Banned Books Week visit

Kelsey Emmons
Graduate Student in Library Science; Lilly Library Public Services Intern

September 29, 2015

Free Guided Tour of Islamic Art Holdings at the Lilly Library

Filed under: Events,Manuscripts — Rebecca Baumann @ 10:16 am
allen-8_00001Discover the wonderful collections of Islamic art at Indiana University’s Lilly Library. On the tour you will see manuscripts, including rare Qur’ans, paintings and illustrations, miniature books, and early printed works.

Tours are free and open to the public
Expert guide
Each tour is approximately 1 hour long

Yasemin Gencer, Doctoral Candidate in Islamic Art, Department of the History of Art, Indiana University, Bloomington.

Send an email message to with your name and number of attendees. Space is limited so register today and guarantee your spot!

Friday, October 2: Lilly Library, 3:00-4:00pm
Please meet tour group in the lobby of the Lilly Library at 2:55pm

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