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Indiana University Bloomington

July 29, 2014

Cats Invade the Foyer at the Lilly Library

Filed under: Exhibitions — Isabel Planton @ 11:00 am

Starting in August, cats of many stripes will make an appearance at the Lilly Library, contained within the pages of children’s books. The foyer exhibition cases will feature feline characters in books spanning from the 18th through 21st centuries.

With few exceptions, until the seventeenth century the relationship between cats and humans was a purely practical one. In exchange for shelter, cats kept the mouse population at bay. However, by the eighteenth century, cats had charmed their way into humans’ hearts and became household companions. Likewise, the roles played by cats in children’s literature have expanded over time. Cats began as characters in fables and moral tales and later moved on to portray everything from tricksters to mystical creatures to heroes. Visit the Lilly Library this summer to view every breed of literary cat from pop-up to miniature, comedic to poetic.

 

Stalking a mouse

Dame Tabby teaches her kitten the art of mousing in Pussy’s Road to Ruin, or, Do as You Are Bid by Clara de Chatelain, ca. 1840.

 

Colleen Barrett, Reference Assistant

Isabel Planton, Reference Associate

July 23, 2014

Fantastic Fairy Tales: From the Archives to the Classroom

Filed under: Books,Programs and Services — Rebecca Baumann @ 9:19 am
An early 19th-century chapbook of Cinderella with hand-colored engraved illustrations.  Students were particularly interested in the ways that illustrations of Cinderella reflected changing fashions and standards of female beauty over time.

An early 19th-century chapbook of Cinderella with hand-colored engraved illustrations. Students were particularly interested in the ways that illustrations of Cinderella reflected changing fashions and standards of female beauty over time.

The Lilly Library Public Services Department conducts over 200 class sessions a year for diverse audiences, from elementary school children to retirees. Many class sessions for IU undergraduates focus on introducing students to primary sources and archival research. This summer, Laura Clapper, an Associate Instructor and PhD candidate in the Department of English, brought the students from her Introduction to Fiction class for a session to compare different versions of classic fairy tales.

Students had a class session at the library in which they learned about the history of publishing children’s literature and examined historical examples from the 18th through 20th centuries of the stories “Cinderella,” “Bluebeard,” and “Jack the Giant Killer.”  Students noted differences as the stories were published over time.  They examined not only changes in the plot and moral of the story but also differences in illustrations and the physical attributes of the books themselves, taking into consideration how the stories might be presented and marketed for different historical audiences.

After examining these fairy tales in the Lilly’s Reading Room, students completed projects in which they imagined themselves as library curators and created exhibitions for adults and children based on their research and presented them to their peers in class.  Creative responses ranged from colorful posters to an interactive digital walkthrough, and students made insightful deductions about how and why these tales have changed over time.

If you would like to schedule a class session at the Lilly Library, please fill out our online form (http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/form.php) or contact the Public Services Department at liblilly@indiana.edu or 812-855-2452.

Rebecca Baumann, Reference Associate

In this 1954 comic book retelling, Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters are vampires.  Cinderella steals a magic book and helps herself rather than relying on a fairy godmother.  Students thought that the shocking twist ending (spoiler alert: the prince is a vampire too!) was to die for.

In this 1954 comic book retelling, Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters are vampires. Cinderella steals a magic book and helps herself rather than relying on a fairy godmother. Students thought that the shocking twist ending (spoiler alert: the prince is a vampire too!) was to die for.

July 14, 2014

The Zener Cards of Upton and Mary Sinclair: A Story of Psychical Research

Filed under: Manuscripts — Rebecca Baumann @ 1:00 pm

sinclair_00248

Upton Sinclair, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer perhaps better known for his novel The Jungle, a scathing critique of the meat-packing industry, was a sometime investigator of occult and mystical phenomena. In 1930, Sinclair published Mental Radio, a book that purported to demonstrate evidence of his wife Mary Craig Sinclair’s telepathic powers. The respected, and often skeptical, psychical researcher William McDougall wrote the introduction for the book’s English edition and Albert Einstein introduced the German edition.

Mary claimed to have developed telepathic abilities after the deaths of several close friends. Initially, her husband was irritated by his wife’s gifts which would manifest, inopportunely, in the middle of the night and Mary would wake him in order to recount her visions which often featured her husband doing everyday activities. Eventually, however, Sinclair decided to test his wife’s claims in a methodical manner and this investigation formed the basis of his book. Sinclair would draw whatever came to mind on a piece of scrap paper and would put each scribble on his wife’s belly. His wife, who could not see these drawings, would then reproduce or describe her impression of them.

Concerning these phenomena, Sinclair concluded: “Either there is some super-human mind or else there is something that comes from the drawings, some way of ‘seeing’ other than the way we know and use all the time.”

The Lilly Library’s archive of Upton Sinclair’s papers is comprised of over 150,000 items, including the original research notes and drawings for Mental Radio, examples of which are currently on display as part of the summer exhibition “Spiritualists, Sorcerers, and Stage Magicians: Magic and the Supernatural at the Lilly Library.”

Several items of correspondence in the Lilly’s collection add further insight into the story of Mrs. Sinclair’s alleged telepathy.  On March 18, 1935, Upton Sinclair received a letter from J.B. Rhine, founder of the parapsychology lab at Duke University.  Rhine was a psychologist who helped found the (now largely discredited) branch of science known as parapsychology, a discipline concerned with investigating paranormal and psychic phenomenon.  He was one of the scientists who published articles against the famous Boston medium Mina Crandon, known a “Margery.”  These skeptical revelations led Arthur Conan Doyle, a fervent believer in spiritualist phenomenon, to publish an article in a Boston newspaper titled “J.B. Rhine is an Ass.”  But despite his early attempts to debunk paranormal phenomenon, Rhine himself became quite caught up in his own beliefs in psychic phenomenon, particularly Extrasensory Perception (ESP).  In 1934 he published a book on the subject based on research using Duke students.  The book made him something of a celebrity, and he received letters from all over the world asking him to investigate their paranormal experiences.  The research was supported by institutions such as the Rockefeller Foundation and individuals such as Alfred P. Sloan, the CEO of General Motors.  During the mid-20th century, it genuinely appeared as though parapsychology was on its way to becoming a recognized scientific discipline.

One of Rhine’s tools in his ESP experiments was a set of cards designed by his colleague Karl Zener.  These cards had five different symbols on them: a circle, a plus sign, three wavy lines, a square, and a star.  Most people today recognize these cards from a scene in the 1984 film Ghostbusters in which the parapsychologist Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) conducts an experiment with the cards, shocking his male subject even when he guesses correctly and letting his pretty female subject pass with flying colors.  The cards were used by Rhine to test subjects for ESP.  The experimenter would look at the symbol on the card, and the test subject would then try to guess what symbol was on the card.  Any percentage higher than that of pure chance (20%) was considered significant.  Unlike the character in Ghostbusters, Rhine did not use electric shocks in any way, and his research turned up a number of test subjects with high hit rates.  Even the CIA was interested and purchased some of these cards to conduct their own tests.

Many factors can lead to high hit rates, including poor shuffling of the deck, sensory leakage (in which the subject can see the card in a reflection, see through the card, or pick up on cues from the experimenter), or outright cheating.  In short, these experiments have now been shown to have dubious scientific validity.

J.B. Rhine’s letter to Upton Sinclair asked him if he would mind testing his wife with the Zener cards.  That letter and the deck of cards is now held in the Lilly’s archive.  Sinclair responded promptly and enthused that his wife had “had one of those experiences when she was absolutely sure that he had got the correct answers.”  Without even looking at the cards, he alleged, she had been able to correctly guess the symbols.

Rebecca Baumann, Reference Associate, The Lilly Library

L. Anne Delgado, Visiting Lecturer, Department of English

 

Sources consulted:

Mock, Geoffrey.  “Synchronicity at Duke.” Duke Today.  March 23, 2009.  http://today.duke.edu/2009/03/rhine.html

“Zener ESP Cards.” The Skeptic’s Dictionaryhttp://www.skepdic.com/zener.html

 

 

 

July 10, 2014

Planting the Raintree: A Tribute to Ross Lockridge, Jr.

Filed under: Events,Manuscripts — Guest Blogger @ 12:33 pm
image of groundsmen Chuck Burleson (right) and Tony Albanese planting the raintree

IU groundsmen Chuck Burleson (right) and Tony Albanese planted the Lilly golden raintree on the morning of June 26, 2014.

Bloomington author Ross Lockridge Jr.’s 1948 book Raintree County has been touted by some contemporary critics as a candidate for that elusive goal, the Great American Novel. To honor Lockridge’s legacy, the Lilly Library has partnered with the IU Office of Landscape Architecture to plant a golden raintree at the historic Raintree House in Bloomington. The raintree was featured as part of the Lilly exhibition “Raintree County: A Celebration of the Life and Work of Ross Lockridge Jr.,” which went on display this spring in tribute to the author’s centennial.

Special thanks go to the Lockridge family for making the exhibition possible through their gift to the Lilly Library of thousands of the author’s personal belongings, including letters, mementos, unpublished writings, and a portion of the original manuscript for the famed novel. The Lockridge family has also been very generous in sharing their family story, which includes their father’s success, his suicide, and other details of his life and work.

Lockridge was familiar with raintrees through their prominent population in New Harmony, Indiana. In 1937 he wrote A Pageant of New Harmony, which was performed in the town as part of the second annual Golden Rain Tree Festival. Years later he employed the raintree as a symbol of knowledge, fertility, and life in his epic novel and appropriated its name for his title.

Native to eastern Asia, the raintree was introduced to the West in the 1700s and blooms in early summer with clusters of mildly-fragrant yellow flowers. In the fall, the leaves turn buttery yellow and the tree produces brown, papery seed capsules which somewhat resemble Chinese lanterns. The tree will be located on the west side of Raintree House, visible to visitors and passers-by.

Built in 1845, Raintree House is currently home to three young golden raintrees but was once home to one of the largest such trees in southern Indiana. In 1969 the IU Foundation purchased the property, and the Organization of American Historians moved into it the following year, occupying it ever since. Constructed from locally produced brick and virgin walnut timber, the house is designated an Indiana historic site and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Given the role and sense of history in Raintree County, the ceremonial planting at Raintree House is a fitting coda to the Lilly’s recently-concluded Ross Lockridge Jr. centennial exhibition. “For Raintree County is not the country of the perishable fact,” the author stated in the novel’s epigraph. “It is the country of the enduring fiction. The clock in the Court House Tower on page five of the Raintree County Atlas is always fixed at nine o’clock, and it is summer and the days are long.” This tree serves as a reminder of the sturdy and renewable power and beauty of literary art that emerged from the rich imagination of one Indiana writer in the middle years of the 20th century.

David Brent Johnson, Guest Blogger

Built in 1845, Raintree House is part of Indiana University and is currently home to the Organization of American Historians.  It is also now home to three golden raintrees.

Built in 1845, Raintree House is part of Indiana University and is currently home to the Organization of American Historians.  It is also now home to three golden raintrees.

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