One of the most interesting aspects of working with special collections materials is the physical nature of the items themselves. Who owned them? How were they used? How were they made? This post primarily concerns the last question.
While cataloging a copy of an 1808 edition of Milton’s poems, I noticed something odd about the binding. On the marbled endpapers, underneath the decorative swirls and spots, there was printed text. The darker blue marbling had fully obscured many of the words, but in the gray or clear areas whole words and even phrases were visible.
The theme of the 2016 Western Legends Round Up Cowboy Lifestyle & Film Festival in Kansas, Utah is Death Valley Days. Some may remember Death Valley Days as the television show President Ronald Reagan performed on in 1955.
Working in the Digital Scholarship Center as a student image cataloger, I have been exposed to multiple collections that are being digitized and shared on Oregon Digital. One of the primary collections I have worked with is the Lee Moorhouse photograph collection. Moorhouse was a photographer in the Pacific Northwest around the turn of the 20th century. He had a wide range of photographic subjects, but two prominent ones I have come across are the touring shows that came to Pendleton, OR and various Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. At the turn of the century some of the vaudeville acts that performed in Pendleton had a heavily racist element in their show. In his photography of Native Americans, Moorhouse would pose his models with a hodgepodge of Native American objects, part of a tradition of white artists’ creating stereotyped representations of Native Americans. As the cataloger of these photographs, it was my responsibility to add accurate and relevant subject headings that would help researchers find them. Often, I could easily identify and record the subject matter of a photograph. However, in these troubling photos, how do I accurately describe what these images are?
Special Collections and University Archives is pleased to announce the opening of its summer exhibition, From Curtis to Corinne: Selections from the University of Oregon Photography Collection. The exhibition features photographs from seven discrete collections, with work spanning over a century and addressing some of the most pressing issues of our time.
Chronologically the exhibition begins with photographs by Edward S. Curtis, who documented tribal life during the first half of the 20th century in his seminal project, The North American Indian. This was a volatile period due to the effects of U.S. colonization of indigenous lands, which was radically altering and reshaping life for Native Americans in the area. He wrote: “The information that is to be gathered . . . respecting the mode of life of one of the great races of mankind, must be collected at once or the opportunity will be lost.” As a counterpoint to Curtis’s work, we present images from the Angelus Company, a photography studio based in Portland in the early part of the 20th century. These photographs document the impact of westward expansion on the environment and local terrain, and the growth of cities in the area. Detached from their broader context, the Angelus images can be viewed as celebrations of modernity and the taming of the “Wild West.” When viewed alongside the Curtis images, they suggest a more sinister side to the assumptions of “manifest destiny,” forcing us to question what was being displaced as part of this process.
Walking through the ironwork doors of the Knight Library to begin my internship at the Special Collections and University Archives department was like walking through a portal into the past. Part of this feeling was personal, I attended UO as an undergrad ten years ago, graduating with a BA in International Studies in 2008. While an undergrad I worked in the UO Libraries’ Access Services department and often spent several hours a day in Knight Library engaged in either work or study. While I stayed in Eugene after graduation, I had not been back to Knight Library more than a handful of times since tossing my cap in the air and hanging my diploma on the wall. However, my personal sense of nostalgia at being back on campus quickly deepened into a fuller appreciation of being a part the long, rich history of academic life on campus as I began working with the University Archives Sound Recordings Collection. Read more ›
The University of Oregon Special Collections and University Archives holds a number of fascinating collections focused on LGBTQ history at the UO and throughout Oregon.
Creating Change: Forty Years of LGBTQ Activism at The University of Oregon is a new digital exhibit that celebrates the long history of LGTBQ activism at the University of Oregon. First staged as a physical exhibit at the Eugene Airport (Mahlon Sweet Field), its transitioned into a digital exhibit in time for the 25th anniversary of the formation of the Standing Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Concerns at the University of Oregon.