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Maggie Gallup Kopp, Curator
Kristi Young, Curator
Robert Maxwell, Adjunct Curator

If you have reference questions relating to this collection or questions for the curator, please contact us.

Scary Halloween

Halloween is fun for little children who dress up and go looking for candy whether it is in the neighborhood or trunk and treat at the local church. Pumpkins and candy corn are abundant. But then they get older and want Halloween to be a little spookier. Wilson Folklore Archives has lots of spooky stories in the Supernatural non-Religious Legends. One story that was a song in the 1950s is the teenage girl hitchhiker. It is usually a rainy night and a young girl is hitchhiking on the side of the road. The teens in the car pick her up and ask for her address. When they get there, she is gone and her sweater is folded on the seat. The kids take the sweater up to the door and hand it to the man who informs them that it belonged to his daughter who died several years ago.

Another story focuses on a man who cleans the inside of hearses for a living. One night he is wiping down the hearse when he heard a buzz of voices. It was eerie. He got out of the hearse and it was quiet. Working up his courage, he got inside of the hearse again and there were the voices again. Out he climbed and his hearse cleaning days were over.

There are a variety of spooky stories that take place in cemeteries and haunted houses. If you need a horror story for your Halloween party, Special Collections is the place to go.

Curious Remedies: The Art of Dissection

Curious Remedies, the library’s current main floor exhibit, highlights the contributions of scientists and physicians of the Renaissance and Early Modern periods. One such individual is Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), whose monumental book on anatomy, De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body, often shortened to Fabrica) was first published in 1543.

Vesalius was born in Brussels and became a professor of medicine at the University of Padua, and later, the court physician to Emperor Charles V. Vesalius’ study of human anatomy refuted many long-standing assumptions passed down from the Greeks. The Fabrica is renowned both for correcting these errors and for the high-quality woodcut illustrations based on his dissections. The current exhibit features a book issued by the Bremer Press in 1934 using the original woodblocks used to print various editions of the Fabrica in the 16th century (sadly, those blocks were destroyed during the Second World War).

Curious Remedies is only on display for a few more days, through Oct. 16, 2017. But if you miss it, never fear: you can visit Special Collections to request the Vesalius plates or a full facsimile of Fabrica in our reading room!


Pretty coverings

About a year ago the Wilson Folklore Archives received a gift of a beautiful coverlet that was about 100 years old. It had an interesting history. Back In the South, I believe Tennessee, a young girl wanted to start a handiwork project. She was about 14. Her father gave her some land to plant cotton on. She planted and cared for the cotton and when the time came she picked the cotton and spun it. Then she wove it. This was quite a bit of work but she was not through at this point. She was making a coverlet for a double bed and a coverlet had embroidery on it. The embroidery is the same color as the coverlet. There is a good deal of feathering stitches. The coverlet was finished when she was 16 and it was used to cover her bed when she was first married. The coverlet is in good shape with some staining and the conservation department at the Lee Library was able to wash it recently even though the staining remains. Over the years the coverlet remained in the family as they moved west. Not long ago an elderly women who possessed the coverlet passed away in Long Beach and left it to a neighbor. Eventually it was donated to Perry Special Collections.

Why did the young girl take the time to embroider the coverlet? It didn’t make it warmer, but it did make it more beautiful. The same principle applies to quilting. The batt between the two pieces of fabric increases warmth, but the quilting pattern or in this quilt the embroidery make the item more beautiful.

New exhibit exploring Victorian women’s history now open

Victorian women weren’t allowed to vote, and in fact, they were often discouraged from attending public meetings, so they had to find creative ways to influence public policy and advance social causes. One method was organizing a charity bazaar, or “fancy fair,” which sold handicrafts and other items to raise money for a popular cause or other philanthropic endeavor.

Bazaars were widely popular in the nineteenth century. They could range in scope from a small fair to raise funds for repairing the roof of a local church to a huge, regional destination event featuring in-house restaurants, concerts, and dramatic productions. Middle and upper class women were highly involved in organizing and staffing these events, as well as contributing their handmade goods for sale.

The Library’s newest major exhibit, “Welcome to Our Charity Bazaar,” examines the Victorian charity bazaar, its place in nineteenth century society, and the rich literature which was produced for and about bazaar culture. The exhibit will be open through June 2018 in Special Collections’ main gallery.

Historic solar eclipses

Here in Provo, Utah, people are gearing up for the solar eclipse which will be visible in our area on August 21. To add to the festivities, we’ve pulled out a few books (both scientific and literary) about eclipses of past centuries.

This small pamphlet was published by astronomer Johann Erich Müller in Greifswald, Germany, about the total solar eclipse of Sept. 14, 1708:

Here’s a folding plate illustrating the May 3, 1715 eclipse by another German astronomer, Johann Wiedeburg:

Not all our eclipse books are strictly scientific! The solar eclipse of Sept. 7, 1820 inspired this piece of English political satire. King George IV had inherited the throne earlier that year, and this pamphlet likens his well-known vices to the moon blocking the virtuous sunshine across Britain.

Interested in finding books about eclipses at the library? Search on the subject term “eclipses” or “solar eclipses.” If you’re looking for a specific eclipse of the past, you can also include the year it occurred as a search term.

Robert Hooke and the Microscope

Today marks the birth of English scientist Robert Hooke in 1635. Hooke dabbled in many branches of the arts and sciences, including astronomy, physics, watchmaking, and architecture. He was a member of the Royal Society and served as its curator of experiments, which meant that he demonstrated several experiments at each of the Society’s meetings (one biographer has called Hooke “the first professional research scientist” because of this post). This work provided the basis for many of his later published works.

Hooke’s most celebrated book is Micrographia (1665). In it, Hooke described the observations he made through both the telescope and the microscope and included the world’s first illustrations of objects and organisms as viewed through a microscope lens. The copperplate engravings of small insects like the louse or the flea (shown here) captured the imagination of 17th century readers and still fascinate viewers today. You can examine this plate in person in the library’s main floor gallery exhibit, “Curious Remedies,” and learn how the microscope helped advance medical science in the early modern period. Time is short, however — the exhibit will close in late September 2017.

New acquisitions: medieval manuscript facsimiles

Facsimiles of two famous illuminated medieval manuscripts have recently been added to Special Collections’ holdings. Both are associated with known artists and they are now available for consultation in the reading room or in the classroom.

The Godescalc Evangelistary

This famous liturgical book was commissioned by Charlemagne and written by a Frankish scribe named Godescalc at the palace scriptorium between the years 781 and 783.

Call number: Vault Collection Quarto ND 3359 .G55 G64 2015


The Black Hours

This Book of Hours is one of the few extant medieval manuscripts created on parchment that was painted or stained black. It was produced in Bruges around 1480 and was illustrated by a follower of artist Willem Vrelant.

Call number: Vault Collection BX 2080 .A35 S38 2001


Auction catalogs available for research

Art history students and other researchers interested in provenance and trends in the fine art and rare books trades will soon have access to Special Collections’ print auction catalogs. Our holdings of Swann Galleries, Sotheby’s, and Christie’s auction catalogs are in the process of being added to the library catalog. Swann Galleries’ auction catalogs are the first to be available, and can be found in the Rare Book Collection at the call number Z 999 .S973a.



Remembering America in World War I: A New Special Collections Exhibit

This year is the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I, a war that would end up being one of the deadliest wars the world has ever seen. Many European countries had been fighting in the War since 1914, but the United States had maintained its neutrality. But this neutrality was not to last. In February 1915, Germany declared they would be using unrestricted submarine warfare against any ships in British waters. This declaration came true when a German U-Boat sunk a passenger ship, the RMS Lusitania. On board were American passengers, over one hundred of which were killed. The other large development in America’s involvement in the War was the Zimmerman Telegram. In 1917, British cryptographers intercepted and decoded a telegram from the German Foreign Minister, Arthur Zimmerman, to the German minister in Mexico. It offered Mexico the territories that they had lost from the United States if they joined up with the Germans. All of these acts were enough for the United States to declare war on Germany and its allies on April 6, 1917. The war would last another year and a half before the Armistice would put a halt to the fighting.

Millions of Americans fought in this war, many never returning home.  In Special Collections here at the library, we have many large collections of World War I memorabilia, like letters, uniforms, and medals. Some of these artifacts will be on display this month on the 1st floor of the library in a small exhibit curated by summer Special Collections interns Gabby Genta and Jewell Smith. Stop by our reference desk in June to view this exhibit!

A party for the ages

This week in 1664, King Louis XIV hosted a multi-day party at Versailles. The festival, called Les Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée [The Pleasures of the Enchanted Island], transformed the grounds of Louis’ not-quite-finished palace into a mythical wonderland. Between May 7 and 13, over 600 invitees were treated to banquets, balls, spectacles, parades, recitals, and plays–including the premieres of Molière’s La Princesse d’Élide (which featured music by Jean-Baptiste Lully) and Tartuffe.

Festivals and parties were an important feature of aristocratic life at the Sun King’s court; the spectacles both displayed and celebrated Louis’ wealth and power. Print culture played a role in commemorating and advertising these lavish events. Attendees received an official program, and an official record with text and illustrations was produced later that year. In 1673, the French court re-issued a limited number of engravings of the festival, which were distributed as diplomatic gifts. Special Collections owns one copy of this book, Les plaisirs de l’isle enchantée, ou, Les festes et diuertissements du roy à Versailles (Paris: Imprimerie Royale. Call number: Vault Collection Folio 792.0944 Si39p 1673). Here are a few of the plates:


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