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Indiana University Bloomington

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

February 2, 2015

Upcoming Lecture Featuring Research from the Papers of Max Eastman

Filed under: Events,Manuscripts — Rebecca Baumann @ 2:14 pm

weston_003Between 1919 and 1921, Margrethe Mather took a series of extraordinary photographs of her friend and lover, the actress Florence Deshon, a woman of extraordinary beauty and intelligence. Signature events in the history of portrait photography, these images played a central role in Deshon’s tempestuous relationship with the poet, editor, and socialist Max Eastman (who, too, was the subject of several iconic Mather photographs). Florence Deshon, who likely killed herself in 1922, is virtually forgotten today. This talk pays tribute to her and to Mather’s photographs, several of which are in the collections of the Lilly Library.

Christoph Irmscher, Provost Professor of English and Director of the Wells Scholars Program, has been working on a biography of Max Eastman, tentatively titled When Love Was Red, which makes extensive use of the Eastman papers at the Lilly Library. His most recent book is Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013).

When: February 5, 4pm
Where: FA 102
Free and Open to the Public

October 23, 2014

Sanctity Pictured: The Art of the Dominican and Franciscan Orders in Renaissance Italy

Filed under: Manuscripts — Cherry Williams @ 2:15 pm

Please visit and enjoy a new exhibition opening Friday, October 31, 2014, at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville Tennessee, Sanctity Pictured: The Art of the Dominican and Franciscan Orders in Renaissance Italy. According to a press release by the Frist, this will be the “first exhibition dedicated to Italian Renaissance art in Nashville since 1934. The exhibition explores the role of two major religious orders in the revival of the arts in Italy during the period 1200 to 1550. It presents drawings, illuminated manuscripts, liturgical objects, paintings, prints , printed books, and sculptures drawn from American and European collections, including works of art from the Vatican Library and the Vatican museums that have never before been exhibited in the United States.”

The Lilly Library is honored to have been included in this exhibition, with three of our medieval manuscripts on display. The exhibition is on-going until January 25, 2015. For additional information please visit the Frist’s website.

Cherry Williams, Curator of Manuscripts




October 9, 2014

Lilly Library and Folger Shakespeare Library link provenance of manuscripts

Filed under: Manuscripts — Kristin Leaman @ 12:43 pm

Making connections with other libraries and their staff is an important and rewarding part of the work we do as librarians and teachers, especially in special collections. These relationships can lead to important discoveries that may bring more understanding to specific materials, which in turn can be shared with a larger audience through digital media.

For example, a series of emails with Heather Wolfe, Curator of Manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library, about the transcription of a Latin abbreviation, led to the realization that both the Lilly Library and the Folger Shakespeare Library possess related Star Chamber dinner accounts. It all began when I attended the Mellon Summer Institute in English Paleography at the Folger, taught by Heather. After many fun and fruitful weeks spent in the Folger, I then ventured back to the Lilly as a newly trained paleographer of secretary hand. In order to keep up on my training, I researched secretary hand manuscripts at the Lilly that I could transcribe. One of my findings were the Star Chamber Dinner Accounts 1591-1594, a collection of two manuscripts that list the food provided for the dinners, the cost, along with the individuals who attended. These dinners took place in the Inner Star Chamber at the end of a day’s work. Wednesday and Friday were the customary Star Chamber days; Fridays were “fishdays.” These dinners occurred during Michaelmas, Hilary, Easter, and Trinity, the four legal terms, and were provided at the public expense. The growing costs of these lavish dinners apparently concerned William Cecil, Lord Burghley, who signed off on these dinners as Lord Treasurer.*

The manuscripts are fascinating, so I took them to my desk and got straight to work. When I came across a Latin abbreviation I did not recognize, I emailed Heather for help. Her response was both helpful and surprising, as she asked if the Lilly copies of the Hilary term dinners looked similar to their copy of the Hilary term dinners from their collection, Expenses of the diet provided for the council in the Star Chamber [manuscript], 1591-1605. After a series of emails and digital images, the shared provenance was confirmed. This discovery was a happy accident, which made me even more appreciative to have been a part of Heather’s paleography class at the Folger.

For more images of the Folger Library and Lilly Library’s copies of the Star Chamber dinner accounts for the Hilary terms and for more information concerning the manuscripts, please visit Heather Wolfe’s blog post on the Collation. I am currently transcribing the Lilly copies, while the Folger will be transcribing their copies as part of their EMMO project. Please contact Kristin Leaman at for digital images of the Lilly copies, or to schedule a time to come in and see the manuscripts.

*Cora L. Scofield, “Accounts of Star Chamber Dinners, 1593-4,” The American Historical Review 5, no. 1 (1899): 83-95

Paper covers for Star Chamber dinners for Hilary Term 1594/95, Lilly Library, Indiana University, TX360.G8 Lilly mss. (photo by Zach Downey and permission of the Lilly Library).

Paper covers for Star Chamber dinners for Hilary Term 1594/95, Lilly Library, Indiana University, TX360.G8 Lilly mss. (photo by Zach Downey and permission of the Lilly Library).

Page from Star Chamber dinners for Hilary Term 1594/95, Lilly Library, Indiana University, TX360.G8 Lilly mss. (photo by Zach Downey and permission of the Lilly Library).

Page from Star Chamber dinners for Hilary Term 1594/95, Lilly Library, Indiana University, TX360.G8 Lilly mss. (photo by Zach Downey and permission of the Lilly Library).

Paper covers for Star Chamber dinners for Hilary Term 1591/2, Folger MS V.b.105 (photo by Heather Wolfe and permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library).

Paper covers for Star Chamber dinners for Hilary Term 1591/2, Folger MS V.b.105 (photo by Heather Wolfe and permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library).

Page from Star Chamber dinners for Hilary Term 1591/2, Folger MS V.b. 105 (photo by Heather Wolfe and permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library).

Page from Star Chamber dinners for Hilary Term 1591/2, Folger MS V.b. 105 (photo by Heather Wolfe and permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library).

July 14, 2014

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

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


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.

“Zener ESP Cards.” The Skeptic’s Dictionary




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.

August 21, 2013

Elmore Leonard at the Lilly Library

Filed under: In the news,Manuscripts — Craig Simpson @ 8:53 am

A small, interesting collection of author Elmore Leonard’s papers ( is available for research use at the Lilly Library. Leonard, who passed away at the age of 87 on Aug. 20, 2013, revolutionized the crime fiction genre (which had become grim and heavy-handed) with his distinctively snappy dialogue and fast-paced, often comedic storylines in novels like Get Shorty, Rum Punch, Freaky Deaky, Out of Sight, and LaBrava (winner of the 1984 Edgar Award). Many of these works were adapted into notable feature films, sometimes by Leonard himself. Late in his career, he turned to writing and producing TV drama with the successful “backwoods noir” series Justified.

The Leonard, Elmore mss. contain materials from the crucial period of 1970-1988, when Leonard transformed himself from a writer of Westerns into a crime novelist. Correspondence includes letters from Leonard recounting his struggles (“I’ve been getting by… on the strength of style and characterization in lieu of a good story… So what I’m going to do now is plot better stories. I’ll show ‘em.”) and eventual successes to his literary agent H.N. Swanson; letters from Leonard to Clint Eastwood, Kirk Douglas, and Burt Reynolds concerning their respective screen adaptations (Joe Kidd, Posse, Stick) of Leonard’s work; as well as a letter from Paul Newman, who starred in the movie adaptation of Leonard’s novel Hombre, regarding the author’s script The Hunted. Publishing materials include ad copy, press releases, and a rejection notice from Random House. Legal documents include contracts, copyright assignments, and agreements.

-Craig Simpson, Lilly Library Manuscripts Archivist

Excerpt from a letter from Elmore Leonard to his literary agent H.N. Swanson, dated September 31, 1981.

Excerpt from a letter from Elmore Leonard to his literary agent H.N. Swanson, dated September 31, 1981.

August 8, 2013

Scrapbook of Bicycle Accidents from 1896

Filed under: Manuscripts — Isabel Planton @ 2:57 pm

A new addition to the Lilly Library collections is the Cycling mss. The collection consists of images, clippings, and ephemera documenting the sport of cycling in in the U.S. in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

A scrapbook of newspaper clippings detailing cycling accidents and cycling news from 1896 was created for the Statisticians Department of the Prudential Insurance Company of America. This snapshot of late 19th century cycling culture gives us some perspective on current tensions between motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Bicycle accidents covered in the scrapbook involve scorching (i.e., speeding), railroad stunts, and an array of collisions. Cycling collisions in the 1890s appear to have included everything from roosters and canal boat mules to trains and trolley cars. Perhaps the most amusing article in the scrapbook is one describing a cycling path made slippery by caterpillars.



Another unsettling problem was the absence of dependable brakes on most bicycles.



A major controversy of the era was whether or not cycling was appropriate for women. Some community leaders such as Mrs. Charlotte Smith, President of the Woman’s Rescue League, argued that straddling bicycle seats posed a threat to women’s purity. Perhaps even more dangerous was the idea that bicycles would give women a newfound sense of independence.



The collection is in the process of being digitized. The digitized content can be accessed through the finding aid: Interested visitors also may view the Cycling mss. in the Reading Room at the Lilly Library.

Isabel Planton, Reference Associate, Lilly Library

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