John Ruskin

February 8 marked the 200th anniversary of the cultural critic and social reformer John Ruskin. Ruskin found early fame as an art critic, and his writings influenced the tastes of generations of Victorians. He championed J. M. W. Turner, the pre-Raphaelite painters, and the 19th century revival of Renaissance and pre-Renaissance art, as well as promoting the value of the arts and crafts in a time of rapid industrialization. This engraving from Ruskin’s work on The Stones of Venice (1851-53) showcases his study of pre-Renaissance art and architecture as well as his own artistic abilities.

A new exhibit: Orson Scott Card Illustrated

Orson Scott Card is one of the most successful Latter-day Saint authors of our time. The Harold B. Lee Library’s L. Tom Perry Special Collections houses his literary papers, and collects his published work comprehensively. A new small exhibit from the collections, Orson Scott Card Illustrated, coincides with the 2019 annual Life, the Universe and Everything science fiction convention to be held in Provo later this week.

Best known for science fiction and fantasy, Card has also written extensively in other genres, including drama and poetry.  The publication of the short story “Ender’s Game” in 1977 brought Card national recognition, and his prominence, especially in science fiction publishing, has resulted in frequent appearances on the covers of trade publications such as Locus. Since “Ender’s Game,” Card has branched out and now writes in a number of genres, including contemporary fantasy, thrillers, historical fiction, and biblical novels. Card also writes social commentary, including the column “Uncle Orson Reviews Everything,” usually first published in his hometown newspaper Rhinoceros Times (Greensboro, N.C.) and then published at various sites on the Internet. This social commentary has at times made him a controversial figure.

Book cover art is meant both to catch the buyer’s eye, selling the book, and to capture the book inside the covers, to get at the essence of the content. Some of the most talented book cover artists worldwide have designed best-selling author Card’s books, including those in this exhibit. Have they succeeded in catching your eye as well as getting to the essence of the work? Please come see the exhibit and decide.

John W. Bubbles: Tap & Jazz Legend

Special Collections’ newest small exhibit features items from the John W. Bubbles Papers, MSS 8026.

Born John William Sublett in Louisville, Kentucky on February 19, 1902, John W. Bubbles rose to fame in the vaudeville duo act of “Buck and Bubbles,” tap dancing to Ford L. “Buck” Washington’s piano and voice. “Buck and Bubbles” became one of the first African-American acts to tour integrated vaudeville circuits and to appear on television. Bubbles’ innovative style of improvisatory dance revolutionized the art of tap-dancing, earning Bubbles the nickname of “the father of rhythm tap.” As his career progressed, Bubbles appeared on Broadway, in television, and in films, working with with other performers, such as Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Fred Astaire, and Duke Ellington. This exhibit showcases Bubble’s achievements and popularity in vaudeville, dance, and film throughout his historic and groundbreaking career.

The exhibit, curated by Special Collections’ Winter 2019 cohort, will be on display for February and March in our reference area.


Franklin Raymond Farr autobiography

Franklin Raymond Farr (1837-1901) autobiography

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a new digitized collection: Franklin Raymond Farr autobiography (MSS 8907). This item contains the original handwritten life story of Franklin Raymond Farr, which includes autobiographical information about Farr from his birth in Ohio in 1837 to his later years in Spanish Fork, Utah, and memories of Farr written by his granddaughter Florence Cook. Also includes poems written by Farr on several occasions throughout his life, with topics including Pioneer Day and other celebrations, Biblical stories for teaching Sunday School, Joseph Smith and other Mormon religious topics, and important people in his life. Dated approximately 1900.

Franklin Raymond Farr was born on October 12, 1837 in Chatham, Ohio. He converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with his family in Ohio and in 1853 traveled to Utah and settled in Spanish Fork. He fought in the Black Hawk War in 1866, then married Annie Jones later that year. Together they had nine children. He died in Spanish Fork, Utah on April 24, 1901.

William Blaisdell cyphering book

Image from William Blaisdell cyphering book, 1808

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a new digitized collection: William Blaisdell cyphering book (Vault MSS 427). This item is a handwritten book of calculations belonging to Blaisdell (spelled Blasdel in the book) of Cambridge, Vermont, when he was a school teacher and young man. Also included are genealogical lists and notes about the life of Blaisdell. The book was partially damaged by fire prior to being donated to BYU. Dated 1808.

William Blaisdell, also spelled Blasdel, was born on November 1, 1783, in Weare, Hillsborough, New Hampshire to Jonathan Blaisdell III and Merriam Blaisdell. When he was about thirteen years old, William moved to Vermont with his mother and siblings, his father having died when he was two years old. On August 18, 1816, William married Miriam or Mary Mudgett in Cambridge, Vermont, and they had six children together. In Cambridge, William was a successful farmer and school teacher. He is known to have been knowledgeable of arithmetic, and tested whiskey and “high wines.” When he died he left a considerable estate. William Blaisdell died on January 24, 1863, in Cambridge, Vermont.

A note of interest is that Blaisdell was a school teacher at the same time Joseph Smith was living in Vermont, and is an example of the types of items used by teachers of the early 19th Century.

New exhibit on Queen Victoria

If you are eagerly awaiting the return of the PBS series Victoria this weekend, you’ll definitely want to take a look at Special Collections’ new small exhibit! The Personal and Public Life of Queen Victoria showcases original documents from our Victorian Collection which mark her reign and public service as queen of the United Kingdom, as well as images and documents from her domestic life. The exhibit was curated by Special Collections Fall 2018 cohort and will be on display for the month of January.

Can’t make it to Special Collections in person? Our social media will be featuring highlights from our Victorian Collection throughout the year since 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of both Victoria and Albert, her Prince Consort.

Patriarch John Smith papers

Patriarch John Smith (1832-1911)

L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a new digitized collection: Patriarch John Smith papers (Vault MSS 803). The collection contains papers related to Smith’s mission to Denmark, life in Utah with family, and his position as Presiding Patriarch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1855 to his death in 1901. Includes diaries, letters, articles containing references to John, his personal patriarchal blessing, sheep accounts, family history notes, and copies of patriarchal blessings pronounced by himself. Some of the letters are to and from members of the Smith family, including Emma Smith Bidamon, Alvin Smith, Alexander Hale Smith, and Joseph Smith III. Dated 1848-1962.

John Smith, son of Hyrum and Jerusha Barden Smith, was born 22 September 1832, in Kirtland, Ohio. His mother died when he was five, while his father was in Missouri. Three months later, on 24 December 1837, his father married Mary Fielding. In June 1844 John’s father, Hyrum Smith, was murdered. Nineteen months later, the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo began. In February 1847, John joined Heber C. Kimball’s family on their westward journey. On the westward journey, near Council Bluffs, Iowa, John assisted Col. Thomas L. Kane, who was extremely ill. He helped his family travel to Winter Quarters after arriving there himself. He and his family remained there for the winter. On his sixteenth birthday, 22 September 1848, John Smith drove five wagons into the Salt Lake Valley.

In 1853 his stepmother, Mary Fielding Smith, died, leaving John to support a family of eight. He was married on 25 December 1853, to Hellen Maria Fisher, and the couple had nine children. In 1855 he was sustained as the sixth Presiding Patriarch of the Church, replacing his deceased grand-uncle. In 1862 John was called to set aside his duties as Patriarch and go to Scandinavia as a missionary. He served there until 1864. John, was strongly supported in his position as Patriarch by his half brother, Joseph F. Smith. When Joseph F. Smith became President of the Church in 1901, he requested that “strictly in accordance with the pattern the Lord has established,” John, as Patriarch, should do the ordaining. As Patriarch of the Church, John pronounced over 20,000 blessings.

He died at his residence in Salt Lake on 6 November 1911.

Christmas with the Grabhorn Press

Special Collections has a large collection of the work of the Grabhorn Press, a San Francisco fine printing establishment founded in 1920 by brothers Edwin and Robert Grabhorn. The Grabhorn Collection is comprised of books, broadsides, and ephemeral pieces produced by the press over several decades, including this undated Christmas card sent by Edwin and his family. It features a linoleum block illustration by his daughter, Mary. These and other mid-century letterpress Christmas greeting cards can be found by searching the library catalog for “Grabhorn Press printer” or by using the location search feature and searching for “Grabhorn Press M Collection,” which houses the Grabhorn Press ephemera.

TV History Exhibit in Special Collections for December Only!

TV Time-Travel: 40 Years Ago on Your Local ABC Station

New Small Case Exhibit in Special Collections Reference Lobby for only a limited time!

For December only, we have small case exhibit that explores the historical structures of television broadcasting in the heyday of the big three networks.  We have video presentations, promotional posters, insightful captions, and even a real live 13-inch TV set from the 1970s to look at!

In the mid-20th century, television redefined and became central to modern life in the United States. TV became a prominent cultural icon by which Americans defined themselves and each other. Travel back 40 years to 1978’s fall premiere season as we look at ABC’s primetime lineup.

TV then was different from today. Before remotes, VCRs, DVRs, and streaming, watching habits were quite different.  There were only three major networks –ABC, CBS, and NBC, and with such lack of variety, incredible amounts of viewers were watching the same programs all over the nation.  Its societal impacts were widespread and penetrating.

We have information panels on:  The Nielsen viewership ratings, dayparts, Prime Time, the yearly broadcast calendar and more!

Come see early artifacts from the beginning of careers such as Robin Williams, Danny Devito, and Tony Danza, and groovy sci-fi artwork from Battlestar Galactica.

Come tune in for some nostalgia, or learn some new things you can talk with your parents about over Christmas vacation!

Come catch it now before it is gone!

How to Celebrate a Victorian Christmas

Special Collections is celebrating the Christmas season with a new exhibit, “From Shrieks to Shenanigans: How to Celebrate a Truly Victorian Christmas.” The Victorians loved Christmas carols and tales of Father Christmas, but their festivities also included jokes, games, and ghost stories. The exhibit, which was curated by Dr. Leslee Thorne-Murphy’s English 236 students, showcases a wide variety of Christmas traditions and literature from Victorian England, from nineteenth century picture books to first editions of Charles Dickens’ Christmas stories. The exhibit will be on display throughout December.

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