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September 28, 2016

PEN Center USA Translation Award to Stephen Kessler

Filed under: In the news,Manuscripts — Erika Dowell @ 11:22 am
Photograph of Cernuda on cover of book

Forbidden Pleasures: New Selected Poems by Luis Cernuda. Translated by Stephen Kessler. (Black Widow Press, April 2015)

Tonight the PEN Center USA celebrates its 26th Annual Literary Awards in Beverly Hills, California. Congratulations to poet and translator Stephen Kessler, winner of the 2016 PEN Literary Award for Translation for the work, Forbidden Pleasures: New Selected Poems by Luis Cernuda. (Black Widow Press, April 2015.) The book is the most complete collection of the poetry of Spanish poet Luis Cernuda to appear in English. Kessler previously translated Cernuda’s prose poems, Written in Water (City Lights Books, 2004), and won the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets for his translation of Cernuda’s later poems, Desolation of the Chimera (White Pine Press, 2009).

Luis Cernuda was a member of the Generation of 1927, a group of Spanish poets influenced by modernist movements such as Surrealism and Futurism. Leaving Spain after the fall of the Spanish republic, he taught for several years at Mount Holyoke College and then settled in Mexico in 1952.

Stephen Kessler’s papers are part of the holdings of the Lilly Library. His collection is one of a growing number of collections documenting contemporary literary translation.

PEN Center USA is a branch of PEN International, the world’s leading international literary and human rights organization.

September 23, 2016

“Wipe Thy Self”: A Page from the Audubon Ledger at the Lilly Library

Filed under: Manuscripts — Guest Blogger @ 9:14 am

“Wipe Thy Self”: A Page from the Audubon Ledger at the Lilly Library

Christoph Irmscher, Provost Professor of English and Director of the Wells Scholars Program

In spring 2016, the Lilly Library acquired a handsome ledger bound in sturdy marble-covered boards. Dubbed the “Audubon Ledger” by bookseller Donald Heald, volume had been in the possession of Audubon’s great-granddaughter, Margaret Audubon McCormick until it was sold at Sotheby’s on January 26, 1983.  The earliest entry in the book dates from December 10, 1842; the latest was made on February 14, 1844.

The Audubon Ledger is a treasure trove for the scholar:  it is chock-full with lists documenting Audubon’s income and expenditures as he was finishing work on the Royal Octavo edition of Birds of America (1840-1844) and beginning to launch his new venture, The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.  Eight pages of draft letters, all in the handwriting of Audubon’s son Victor Gifford, add to the documentary value of the collection. But the Ledger has something else to offer too, something more unexpected.   Among the 70-plus pages of lists we find an example of a different kind of bookkeeping, a mysterious page-long aside, in Audubon’s own handwriting, consisting of nothing but a stream of words, slathered on the page in no apparent order and, it seems, with near-complete disregard to meaning.  Complete sentences are the exception rather than the rule.





  1. 219:

Second Course

Acquisition and use of Words in little sentences

Wipe Pocket  to wash

Fish, Wipe, Table, deceits  Smoke Pad  Bush–

Tables, Indian Ink  Pocket  Ashes  Ashes

Towels  to wipe, to wash, to catch to pilfer dainties

to extinguish, to listen, to smoke   to draw with water color

to wipe wiped mixed washed pilfered  between

already beautiful, Shine  shrine  rail sight

The table is high, The pocket is wide,  Pilfer

not that is not nice   Wipe thy self.

Bath Thread Needle

Wheel Bath Oath  envy harm song


Songs box, calf, (maggot, mite) fashion tired

waste booth both Silk (Willow pasture) boundary

Box boxes thread hurt to separate to avoid

(Willows to pasture) neither again Songs leather feather

(cart load, a tan [?])  mould vein quarrel noble

herd, poodle, nudel, needles, skull, there,

there that the to the the thine one no mine his

(clear pure)  Wine by shine flax stone.

The wheel is on the wagon  The mite

is in the cheese   The Willow is a tree.

Roof week to travel (to range to string)

Book Brook Roof partition   ah I me self

thee (yet, however)  (still, yet) high hole leek

Stomach breath smoke, rich soft proud cloth

Book beech (search to sack)  (matter thing affair)

revenge (guard watch) week cook kitchen oak

corpse (pool laughter)  to laugh—to make to pilfer

throat to rake to reach rays to cook cake

The book is new   The brook is deep  The beech is a

tree   The smoke comes out of the chimney.

The page that precedes this strange jumble of words (p. 214) is as ordinary as they come:  a list of monies the Audubons had collected in New York City on July 14, 1844, from subscribers to the Royal Octavo edition.  It is, as is most everything else in the volume, in Victor Gifford Audubon’s handwriting. Subsequent pages seem to have been cut out, and the number at the top of our strange meditation has been corrected to read “219.”

It’s difficult at first to discern some kind of principle behind this profusion of words.  Some come from the same semantic field (“wipe,” “wash,” “bath” “clear,” “pure”), some are repeated a number of times (“wipe” occurs, in somewhat different form six times; “pilfer” and “smoke” three times; “wash” twice).  Sometimes Audubon’s words acquire an incantatory quality and sound displaces meaning: “to rake to reach rays to cook cake.” Other passages—especially the few fully formed sentences—are almost embarrassingly simple, as if they had been lifted from a children’s picture book: “The wheel is on the wagon   The mite is in the cheese   The Willow is a tree.”  “The smoke comes out of the chimney.”  As we read on, elements of a landscape begin to emerge—willows, beech trees, a brook, a pasture, a house with a roof and a kitchen, smoke coming from the chimney. (I am immediately reminded of the “inscrutable house” in Elizabeth Bishop’s wonderful poem “Sestina.”) Then there is the feel of things, the soft, rich cloth of a dress (made of silk?) worn, perhaps, by a mother. “Pilfer not,” she might have said to her child, “that is not nice.”  And: “Wipe thyself.” We have, indeed, entered a child’s world, as the novelist Katherine Govier pointed out to me when I showed her a copy of that page.  But Audubon was a child not in England or America, where mothers or maids would have said such things.  He grew up in Napoleon’s blood-drenched France, raised by his stepmother.  The sounds made in this text—“Wheel Bath Oath,” “waste booth both,” “nudel, needles, skull,” “book Brook Roof””—are entirely English, as is the landscape it evokes, however confusedly.  Sing willow, willow, willow.

This page, then, evokes a childhood Audubon never really had, at least not in that form, a childhood he therefore couldn’t have outgrown. Hence, too, the sense of loss that pervades this page, a loss of purity and perhaps of life—the mite in the cheese, the maggot, the ashes, the skull, the corpse.   Pilfer not, the mother once said, and yet Audubon did, his entire adult life, when he entered into, and took away, the lives of birds.  And the need to “wipe thyself” would have been immediately clear to someone who spent his days wading through dirt and blood.  Birds weren’t “nice” in their habits, Audubon once said (in his essay about the Shoveler Duck; Ornithological Biography 241).  But neither was he.  “To draw with watercolor,” Audubon writes, close to the beginning of our page:  an apparent reference to the work he did.  And he goes on to define what he did: “to wipe wiped mixed washed pilfered  between already beautiful.”  All watercolors on the world could not wash out the damn’d spots each killing of a bird—of a living thing that was “already beautiful,” something that didn’t need the artist to make it so—left in him.

Of course, you might say, this is all speculation, a fantasy.  The title of the page (“Second Course”) and dry-and-dust subtitle (“Acquisition and use….”) might just mean that Audubon was reading a grammar textbook at the time and taking notes.  But for whom? Or had the insecurities he had felt as a non-native speaker finally caught up with him? In a journal he kept in England in 1826, he referred to himself as a man who “never Lookd into an English grammar” (Writings 186). But by the mid-1840s, he was widely respected as writer, even by other writers:  Longfellow, for example, based his Evangeline partly on the descriptions of Louisiana he had found in Audubon’s essays.  But maybe he was collecting words because he was getting ready to teach his grandchildren about homonyms and synonyms and the like?  Thomas Brewer, who visited Audubon on July 4, 1846, did attest to Audubon’s fondness for the “rising generation” (Herrick 2: 288).

However, the sheer difficulty of the fragment casts doubt on these more pedestrian readings.  What good are notes that make no sense?  And speaking of non-sense, perhaps this text is a clinical document more than anything else.  Audubon’s dementia became an established fact in May 1848, when his friend John Bachman visited him on his estate and found the naturalist’s “noble mind all in ruins” (Herrick 2: 289). But this change had not happened overnight—as early as July 1847, Spencer Fullerton Baird found his former mentor “much changed” (Herrick 2:288).  Did the first signs of his illness announce themselves even earlier?  We now know for sure what Alzheimer patients have perhaps always known intuitively, namely that language dysfunction is one of the first indications of the disease.  And we also know, and some of us have probably experienced it when taking are of a family member, that dementia patients still retain a measure of control over “a lexical phonological system that is used to repeat both known and novel words and that processes linguistic information independent of its meaning” (Glosser et al.).  But what if the last part of that statement—that there is no meaning in these repetitions—isn’t true after all?  What if all we needed to do is listen?  What if meaning—if of a different, more fantastical, speculative kind—still resides somewhere even in the lexicon of the troubled mind, waiting for the right person to unlock it?  “The brook is deep.”  John James continues to baffle us.



Audubon, John James. Ornithological Biography, or An Account of the Habits of theBbirds of the United States of America: Accompanied by Descriptions of the Objects Represented in the Work entitled The Birds of America, and Interspersed with Delineations of American Scenery and Manners.  Vol. 4. Edinburgh: Judah Dobson, 1839.

—.  Writings and Drawings.  Ed. Christoph Irmscher.  New York:  Library of America, 1999.

Glosser, Guila and Susan E. Kohn, Rhonda B. Friedman, Laura Sands, Patrick Grugan, “Repetition of Single Words and Nonwords in Alzheimer’s Disease,” Cortex, 33. 4 (1997): 653-666.

Herrick, Francis Hobart.  Audubon the Naturalist:  A History of His Life and Time.  2 vols.  New York:  Appleton, 1917.

May 12, 2016

Spectral Analysis of the Boxer Codex

Filed under: In the news,Manuscripts — Guest Blogger @ 4:16 pm

boxer-pigment-analysis_00005During the first week of May, Ms. Ellen Hsieh, an Everett Helm Visiting Fellowship recipient, and Dr. Christian Fischer, from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program at UCLA, visited the Lilly Library to study the images of the Boxer Codex, one of the most important manuscripts in the Library’s collection.

The Boxer Codex was supposedly made in Manila at the end of the sixteenth century during the early Spanish colonial period. It contains Spanish-language text and 95 pages of illustrations which are not influenced, apparently, by contemporary European artistic styles. The objective of the research was to analyze the coloring materials used in the different sections of the codex in order to study the nature and provenance of raw materials as well as the production process of the codex.

Scientific analysis was conducted using portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) and fiber optics reflectance spectroscopy (FORS) in the visible and near-infrared. FORS spectra were collected with two spectrometers, a USB2000+ (Ocean Optics) operating in the visible and a UV-Vis-NIR Fieldspec 3 (ASDI, Panalytical), while pXRF qualitative data were obtained with a Niton XL3t GOLDD+ XRF analyzer (Thermo Fisher Scientific). These non-invasive technologies provide complementary information particularly useful for the identification of pigments and dyes, and have been successfully used to study other manuscripts from Europe and the Americas.

Preliminary results show that the painter(s) of the Boxer Codex used both pigments and dyes such as azurite, cinnabar and indigo. However, precise identification of the whole palette and probable mixtures will require further in-depth analysis and interpretation of the collected data.

The researchers are thankful for the financial support provided by the Lilly Library and the warm welcome and assistance from the librarians, conservators, and staff during their visit.

May 5, 2016

An Orson Welles birthday present

Filed under: In the news,Manuscripts — Erika Dowell @ 3:43 pm

Label from a laquer disc for Ceiling Unlimited, Rulers of the Earth

Label from a laquer disc for Ceiling Unlimited, Rulers of the Earth

Earlier this week, the IU Libraries and the National Recording Preservation Foundation announced a project to preserve, digitize, and make available online all the Orson Welles radio recordings held in the Lilly Library.

It is the largest trove of Welles recordings in existence, and most are originals cut directly from the radio broadcasts as they aired. Experts from IU’s Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative will capture the audio from several hundred fragile lacquer discs and preserve it digitally to the highest standards.

May 6 is the 101st anniversary of the birth of Orson Welles, so we thought a sneak preview of the project would be a great way to celebrate.

We present today one episode of the Welles production Ceiling Unlimited. Sponsored by the Lockheed-Vega Aircraft Corporation, producers of the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, the series focused on patriotic stories from the world of aviation. The fifteen minute episodes ran weekly from November 1942 to February 1943, and took a variety of forms. The first episode told the story of the B-17. Others dramatized real-life stories of aviators. Some episodes took a more imaginative turn.

The recording shared here was broadcast on the first anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It imagines a meeting in hell, convened by the Devil– played by Orson Welles, of course. Attending the meeting are four historical leaders who sought to conquer the world: Napoleon, Philip the II of Spain, Louis XIV, and Kaiser Wilhelm. They discuss Hitler’s efforts to do the same and consider the role of the airplane in wartime.

Welles the narrator eventually interrupts the conversation, with a sigh: “Ladies and gentlemen, excuse me. I think I’ve had enough of playing the Devil. And just for a moment I’d like to be Orson Welles, taxpayer, citizen.” He concludes the broadcast with a somber message of vigilance, a vow to “never again be caught with folded wings, while madmen fly across the sun…”

Listen to the full episode: Rulers of the Earth

Over the course of the coming year, look for more previews from our project, Orson Welles on the Air: Radio Recordings and Scripts, 1938-1946. In August 2017, the IU Libraries will be proud to host the most complete original source of audio for Orson Welles’s radio work, with the highest extant sound quality, presented in a web site rich in supplemental materials for exploring the work of this radio innovator.

April 11, 2016

New Donation: The Artwork of Clifford Odets

Filed under: In the news,Manuscripts — Lilly Library @ 5:23 pm

odets-painting_002 (002)The Lilly Library is pleased to announce a $1.2 million gift by Walt Whitman Odets of a collection of more than 450 paintings by his father, Clifford Odets, the iconic American playwright, screenwriter, and director.

Clifford Odets is best known as an influential playwright, screenwriter, and founding member of the Theater Group. The Lilly Library is already the home of an impressive archive of Odets’ written work, including extensive correspondence spanning his career, drafts of such landmark dramatic works as Clash by Night and Golden Boy, and drafts of screenplays of iconic films such as The Big Knife and The Sweet Smell of Success. Other drafts include films on which Odets worked that were later turned over to other writers, such as It’s a Wonderful Life.

But Odets’ creativity was not limited to the written and spoken word, and the addition of his paintings to the Lilly Library’s collections continues a longtime interest on the part of the library in writers who are also artists, represented not only by our archival holdings of the writings and artworks of such luminaries as Sylvia Plath and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., but also by our vast holdings in artists’ books and fine bindings.

The paintings joining the Lilly Library’s collections are water colors, gouaches, and crayon on paper, ranging in size from 4×6 inches to about 12×15 inches. Some of the works are even smaller, for they are rendered on 3×5 U.S. Government stamped postcards; Odets was a philatelist and knew that the cards were made of suitably archival paper. The style is naïve and strong with intense color and imagination. Odets was clearly influenced by the artists whom he himself collected; he owned works by Maurice Utrillo, John Marin, Wassily Kandinsky, and Paul Klee. Odets first exhibited his own works on paper at the J.B. Neumann Gallery in New York in 1947 and continued creating art until his death in 1963.

The addition of Clifford Odets’ art to the Lilly Library’s manuscript holdings will allow researchers, students, and aspiring artists to explore and understand the complex ways in which creativity develops over time and across multiple mediums.

We wish to extend our deep gratitude to Walt Whitman Odets for this generous gift. Dr. Odets is a practicing clinical psychologist with a background in photography and aviation. He chose the Lilly Library as the beneficiary of this extraordinary collection due to the “mid-western spirit of openness that welcomes” everyone to use the collections. We are proud to continue that tradition!

You can explore the Lilly Library’s extant Odets holdings here.

March 30, 2016

This Thursday and Friday: two events with Dr. J. Greg Perkins

Filed under: Events,Manuscripts — Lilly Library @ 3:42 pm

Perkins1March 31st 2016, 5:30pm

Dr. J. Greg Perkins is the author of the recently published 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 series was over 40 years in the making. It provides 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 books 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. A Faulkner scholar and enthusiast, and with over 30 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Perkins has been a senior executive at Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Hoffman-LaRoche, and Burroughs Wellcome. 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.

Dr. Perkins will present a talk entitled Science and Literature: Two Heads of the Same Coin, with a reception to follow. The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Lilly Library.


April 1st 2016, 10:00am to 11:30am

Students, faculty, and the public are invited to join us for coffee and conversation to meet noted author J. Greg Perkins. Throughout 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.

Students are especially encouraged to meet this Indiana author, IU graduate, and  distinguished member of the pharmaceutical world.

February 8, 2016

Naked Hemingway

Filed under: Manuscripts — Guest Blogger @ 4:49 pm

We are thrilled this week to present a guest blog post by Christoph Irmscher, Provost Professor of English, George F. Getz Jr. Professor in the Wells Scholars Program, and Director of the Wells Scholars Program. Professor Irmscher has conducted extensive research in the Lilly Library’s Max Eastman collections. As part of this research, he discovered a photograph of Ernest Hemingway that shows the great American author as you’ve never seen him before. Here, Professor Irmscher recounts the story behind this remarkable archival find.


Naked Hemingway 

by Christoph Irmscher

The poet, editor, and activist Max Eastman (1883-1969) was one of the handsomest men of his time. His film star looks melted the hearts of women right and left and, judging from the letters they sent him, they were not content with worshipping him from distance. A fervent believer in what might be called the “big tent” approach to modern love, Eastman readily invited his female fans into his life, if mostly for brief periods of time and with the understanding that he had not promised them anything at all. In 1925, when Eastman, having returned from Bolshevik Russia, was frequenting the coffee shops of Paris, Hemingway was a member of his circle of friends. Max deeply admired Hemingway’s In Our Time and even toyed with the idea of having his wife Eliena—the sister of Stalin’s favorite prosecutor Nikolai Krylenkotranslate it into Russian.  But his respect for the writer didn’t extend to the person. In Great Companions (1964), Max records a terse exchange that he had with Hemingway, who guiltily shared with him the pleasure he got from staring at the girls in the Parisian dance halls.  Coming home from his nights in Montmartre, Hemingway was, he told Max, “disgusted” with himself.  He asked Max if he felt so, too.  Max, an early convert to Freudian psychoanalysis, had little patience for such talk: “No, I don’t, Ernest.  I enjoy lustful feelings, and what’s more I don’t think you’re talking real.”

Max Eastman on the beach. Undated photograph. Eastman mss. II.

Max Eastman on the beach. Undated photograph. Eastman mss. II.

As Hemingway turned his adolescent approach to sex into literary method, Max’s respect for the writer took a hit too. Reviewing Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon, a book about bullfighting in Spain, Max freely expressed his frustrations with Hemingway’s masculine swagger.  His heart went out to the bull in Hemingway’s narrative, “this beautiful creature …  gorgeously equipped with the power for wild life, trapped in a ring where his power is nothing.” Max had no sympathy for the toreros who would hunt the animal till he would sink down, “leadlike into his tracks, lacking the mere strength of muscle to lift his vast head, panting, gasping, gurgling, his mouth too little and the tiny black tongue hanging out too far to give him breath, and faint falsetto cries of anguish, altogether lost baby-like now and not bull-like, coming out of him.” Max accused Hemingway of deriving pleasure from such callous acts of murder, an attitude he compared to the “wearing of false hair on the chest.”

Hemingway’s supporters were outraged. “I don’t know when I have written anything that I have heard more about from various sources than that article,” said Max.  Nevertheless, he included the review in a book he published in 1034, Art and the Life of Action.  Two years later, as Max was hanging out in the office of his editor at Scribner’s, Maxwell Perkins, look who happened to drop in:  Ernest Hemingway, en route back to the Spanish Civil War! Hemingway relished the opportunity to exact revenge on Max. To Perkins’s consternation, he ripped open his shirt and invited the men to inspect his chest hair.  He then proceeded to tear open Max’s shirt, too, revealing a chest that was, Perkins recalled, as “bare as a bald man’s head.” Rifling though a copy of Art and the Life of Action, which just happened to be lying on Perkins’s desk, Hemingway yelled out a particularly objectionable sentence and then, for emphasis, socked Max on the nose with the book. Max lunged at Hemingway, and both men fell on the ground.  By the time Perkins had reached them, Max was on top of Hemingway, although that might have been an accident. Max declared himself the winner.   Given his age he had, he told the press, used a wrestling move to take Hemingway down. Hemingway assured the Times that no such thing had taken place, and that Max instead had taken his slap “like a woman.” But there is one detail that does make Max’s account somewhat credible:  he did know how to wrestle.  Decades ago, while he was John Dewey’s student at Columbia University, he had coached a wrestling team in a Lower Eastside boys club.

Waldo Peirce, photographer. Ernest Hemingway, on the Marquesas Keys, 1928. Eastman mss. II.

Waldo Pierce, photographer. Ernest Hemingway, on the Marquesas Keys, 1928. Eastman mss. II.

Max never forgot what had happened. As Hemingway went from one well-publicized risky adventure to the next, Max continued to insist on his own version of masculinity that involved not loud displays of virility but a deliberate celebration of the human body and its infinite capacity for pleasure. As it turned out, he was not the only one with a grudge against Hemingway. Decades after the battle in Perkins’s office, a mutual friend of both men, the painter Waldo Pierce, presented Max with a surprise gift. In the 1920s, Pierce had been Hemingway’s fishing buddy in Florida, and it was on one of those occasions that Pierce had persuaded Hemingway to pose for his camera wearing nothing but a kind of turtle-shell on his head and the butt-rest of a fishing rod around his privates. I recently discovered the original photograph in Max’s extensive papers housed at the Lilly Library.  Hemingway had sometimes needled Pierce for his devotion to his family (in a letter to Dos Passos, he once called him a “domesticated … cow”). Well, here was Pierce’s chance to retaliate. Before he sent the compromising photograph to Max, he inscribed it on the back: “The great Pescador hiding his light under a but-rest [sic].”  Max, with evident satisfaction, noted the near-absence of chest-fur.  And he published the photograph in the second volume of his autobiography, Love and Revolution (1964), accompanied by the sarcastic caption, “Hemingway in the twenties.” By then, Hemingway had been dead for three years.

Whether Max or his publisher balked, we don’t know.  But in the published version of the photograph, Hem is wearing a pair of dainty swimming trunks.  No matter, Max had finally won the battle.

Christoph Irmscher’s biography of Max Eastman, Max Eastman’s Century, which contains an in-depth discussion of the material discussed above, will be published by Yale University Press.

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

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

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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