Category: Exhibitions

New Exhibit | Black Deaf Americans: History, Culture, and Education

Poster of exhibit titled Black Deaf Americans.

Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) has recently mounted an exhibit focusing on Black Deaf Americans to celebrate Black History Month.

Black Deaf people have one of the most unique cultures in the world. The Black Deaf Community is largely shaped by two cultures and communities: Deaf and African-American. Some Black Deaf individuals view themselves as members of both communities. Since both communities are viewed by the larger, predominately hearing and White society as comprising a minority community, Black Deaf persons often experience an even greater loss of recognition, racial discrimination and communication barriers coming from both communities.

Little has been written about the Black Deaf community. Even though segregated schools existed until the mid-1950s, no historical analysis of that experience, its people, or events has been written. Only a handful of memoirs by Black Deaf individuals have been published. Recent interest in Black Deaf sign language has produced a seminal work on the subject, The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL, but much more research needs to be pursued. This exhibit seeks to highlight the history, experiences, and accomplishments of Black Deaf Americans through six themes: segregated schools for Black Deaf students, memoirs by Black Deaf adults, incarceration of Black Deaf, Black Deaf sign language, Notable Black Deaf, and artwork of Black Deaf. Some of the archival material exhibited is extremely rare and difficult to find. Several publications on exhibit are considered rare books. Even some recent titles on exhibit are difficult to find.

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New Exhibit | Creative Commonplacing

Detail of commonplace book of children's book author and illustrator Elizabeth Orton Jones.
Detail of Edna St. Vincent Millay quote in commonplace book of children’s book author and illustrator Elizabeth Orton Jones. Elizabeth Orton Jones papers. Coll 200. Box 7. Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.

A new exhibit is now on view during the Winter 2018 term in the Paulson Reading Room in Special Collections and University Archives titled Creative Commonplacing: The Facets of Book Love. 

Students of Professor Mai-Lin Cheng’s Fall 2017 course HC421, “Book Love: Or, Reading Commonplaces,” curated this exhibit of commonplace books, diaries, and scrapbooks. The exhibit also highlights other “book love” projects  undertaken by the students during the course, including the results of a bookbinding workshop with Collections Conservator Marilyn Mohr and a handwriting workshop with Manuscripts Librarian Linda Long.

The public is invited to an opening reception in SCUA on 1/18/18, 4-5 p.m.

An introduction to the exhibit from the guidebook written by the student curatorial team follows:

Our class during Fall 2017 was the first of hopefully many future classes on the topic of Book Love, exploring the origins of book writing and what it means to love books and share what we understand of the world. Commonplaces are both a reflection of an author and their greater community, with the practice beginning in the seventeenth century as a type of note-sharing. In this class, we explored what it means to be an author as opposed to a compiler, as the lines are often blurred in commonplace books, as readers created their own personal anthologies, with passages, images, and other artifacts important to them to create a commonplace book.

The commonplace book is an artifact of active reading. In it, the reader becomes writer. The interchangeability of these two modes of relating to texts is, of course, familiar in our contemporary era of cutting-and-pasting, tweeting and retweeting, liking and linking. Exploring the origins of this information-sharing, however, reveals a more exclusive and exclusionary history in authorship and the sharing of information, and through exploring the history of book-making students deepened their awareness of an elitist history of information control. In this class, students experiment with individual methods of expressing “book love” in creating their own print or digital commonplace books, and through reading the same texts each student created their own unique commonplace work.


New Exhibit | “Wy-Kan-Ush-Pum: We Are All Salmon People”

Roger Dick, Jr. (Yakama) harvesting blueback from scaffold off Highway 14 near Sauter’s Beach; Lyle, Washington. [Jacqueline Moreau papers, Coll 459, Box 10, Folder 4; Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.]
Salmon are the icon of this place. They are valued as food, as resources, and as a representation of the wildness and wilderness for which the Pacific Northwest is known. Whether they realize it or not, every single person in the Northwest is Wy-Kan-Ush-Pum. We are all Salmon People. Let us all work together to protect and restore salmon—this fish that unites us.
–The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Commission

In honor of Native American Heritage Month the University of Oregon Libraries is pleased to announce an exhibit titled, Wy-Kan-Ush-Pum: We Are All Salmon People. This exhibit honors Oregon’s tribal communities and their traditional cultures, knowledges and lifeways that have sustained them since time immemorial. We first recognize and honor the Kalapuya people, who were the original indigenous inhabitants of the Willamette Valley, including the land that the University of Oregon resides. We are honored to now have the new residence hall, Kalapuya Ilihi Hall, named in honor of those who were here first and in recognition of their traditional homelands.

All of Oregon’s tribal communities share a common connection to their traditional homelands and natural resources provided by the creator that sustains life for their people. This exhibit highlights the tribal cultures along the Columbia River Basin that have a distinct sacred connection to salmon that has shaped their culture, diet, societies and religions for thousands of years. Salmon, or “wy-kan-ush” in the traditional language of Sahaptin, are revered as sacred and one of the most important aspects of tribal culture.

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New Exhibit | Word Made Print

In recognition of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, University of Oregon’s Special Collections & University Archives and Northwest Christian College’s Edward P. Kellenberger Library have collaborated on an exhibit titled Word Made Print: Reformation and the History of the Book.

Few historical events have touched so many lives around the world, whether Christian or not, as the Reformation, 500 years ago. Historians question whether Martin Luther actually hammered the manuscript of his 95 Theses on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517, setting in motion a series of events that split Christendom. Yet, the story itself illustrates the immense power of the printed word: Luther’s words were printed within weeks and spread like wildfire.

Word Made Print is curated by Vera Keller, David Luebke, Steve Silver, and David de Lorenzo. The Knight Library component celebrates Martin Luther and his role in the Reformation and showcases important works that demonstrate and reflect the impact of the Reformation that occurred around the same time as the invention of movable type.  In the Kellenberger Library, many early Bibles from their collection are on view.  This exhibit is free and open to the public and will be on display through December 15, 2017.

Excerpts from the Exhibit

Privilegia et documenta ad monasterium S. Zenoius Maiorii Veronae (Privileges of the Verona Monastery). [16th century]. [Latin]. Burgess Collection, Burgess MS 30.

This manuscript illustrates the scribal arts preserved in Catholic monasteries long after the Reformation.

Sleidanus, Johannes, and Edmund Bohun. The General history of the Reformation of the Church from the errors and corruptions of the Church of Rome: begun in Germany. [London: Printed by Edw. Jones for Abel Swall and Henry Bonwicke, 1689]. Rare Book Collection, xDD178.9 .S624

John Yeon’s Quest for Beauty

Between May 13 and September 3, 2017 the Portland Art Museum hosts Quest for Beauty, a retrospective of Oregon architect, designer, and conservationist John Yeon’s work.  The exhibition features photographs, art, and historic materials lent by Richard Louis Brown, as well as original drawings from University of Oregon Special Collections and Archives.

Our John Yeon collection consists of architectural drawings for projects, both built and unrealized, including plans, sections, elevations, details, tracings, and blueprints, as well as a number of Northwest maps, aerial photographs, and surveys for both architectural and preservation projects managed by the architect. The recently published book John Yeon: Modern Architecture and Conservation in the Pacific Northwest by Marc Treib utilized our collection as well.

Randy Gragg, executive director of the University of Oregon’s John Yeon Center for Architecture and the Landscape, organized the show in collaboration with Portland Art Museum curators Maribeth Graybill and Dawson W. Carr.

Quest for Beauty installation photo. Japan, unknown artist, Pair of Bird-and-Flower Screens, 16th/early 17th century, ink and color on paper, Collection of Richard Louis Brown via
Quest for Beauty installation photo. Japan, unknown artist, Pair of Bird-and-Flower Screens, 16th/early 17th century, ink and color on paper, Collection of Richard Louis Brown via

In addition to the exhibition itself, the UO John Yeon Center for Architecture and the Landscape will present a series of lectures, tours, and other events throughout the summer.  Landscape architect Laurie Olin will speak about Yeon’s 75-acre signature work of landscape design, The Shire, on July 30.  The POD Initiative will use Yeon’s interest in plywood design to inform an exploration of affordable architecture and houses for the homeless, through an exhibition of micro-housing units in August.  And a series of gallery talks at the Portland Art Museum will address Yeon’s role in defining Northwest regional modernism, as well as his role as an art collector and his private personality.

Save the date for any or all of these events to learn more about one of Oregon’s most passionate, visionary, and independent designers.

By Karen Munro, Head, UO Portland Library & Learning Commons