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News from the UIUC Rare Book and Manuscript Library

MARCH 2014
(Best viewed online)

In This Issue:

  • Gwendolyn Brooks Celebration!
    A Special Program of Remembrance, Poetry, and Song Thursday, April 24

  • "From Babylon to Baseball"
    Spring Exhibition Now Open!

  • RBML Curator Marten Stromberg to Speak Twice this March in Chicago about Carl Sandburg

  • Helga Sandburg; Author, Poet, and Carl Sandburg's Youngest Daughter,
    Dies at 95

  • U of Michigan's Houghton Library Director Kevin Graffagnino to Speak at March 12 No. 44 Society Meeting

  • Spring 2014 No. 44 Society Schedule

  • RBML to Host Boneyard Arts Festival Event, April 10

  • Brian Davidson and John Gough Win Baldwin Essay Contest Awards!

RBML & Campus to Celebrate the Gwendolyn Brooks Papers on April 24

Afternoon Talk by Brooks' Associate, Haki Madhubuti, to be Followed by Evening Readings and Song

Haki Madhubuti Talk on Gwendolyn Brooks

4 p.m. in RBML

Haki R. Madhubuti is the Founder and President of Chicago's Third World Press.

Poet, publisher, editor, educator, and one of the architects of the Black Arts Movement, he has been a pivotal figure in the development of a strong Black literary tradition.

Among Madhubuti’s latest books are Honoring Genius: Gwendolyn Brooks: The Narrative of Craft, Art, Kindness and Justice (2011) and By Any Means Necessary, Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented (co-edited with Herb Boyd, Ron Daniels and Maulana Karenga, 2012).

He is the former University Distinguished Professor and a professor of English at Chicago State University where he founded and was director-emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center and director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program.

Full of Pepper and Light: A Celebration of the Poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks”
Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.

Gwendolyn Brooks

To welcome the papers of poet and writer Gwendolyn E. Brooks (1917-2000), the University of Illinois Rare Book & Manuscript Library and many campus partners are organizing an evening of poetry, thoughts and song called; “Full of Pepper and Light: A Celebration of the Poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks.” It will take place at the newly-renovated Lincoln Hall Theater (702 South Wright Street, Urbana) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 24, 2014.

Those in attendance will be treated to poets and scholars reading and thinking about the poems and legacy of Brooks. She was the third Poet Laureate for the State of Illinois (following Carl Sandburg,) and the first African-American writer to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Performers will include the University of Illinois Black Chorus, let by Professor Ollie Watts Davis, a troupe of players led by Brooks' daughter Nora Brooks Blakely, and many “friends of Gwen,” including Haki Madhubuti, co-founder and director emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing. Admission is free.

The “Full of Pepper and Light” celebration is being produced and sponsored by the Rare Book & Manuscript Library; the Departments of English, African-American Studies, Religion, Theater, and Music; the University Library; the University of Illinois Office of Public Engagement; and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

A contest inviting High School students to create a one to five minute video inspired by Brooks' poem, "Speech to the Young: Speech to the Progress-Toward," will award the winning video with a spot in the program, as well $300 towards their favorite High School club. Entries are due April 1. Click here to learn more.

The celebration kicks-off just six months after Brooks’s papers arrived at Illinois. Spanning more than six decades, the papers include some of her earliest surviving poetry and prose, as well as early scrapbooks and clippings of pieces she published as a young woman in The Chicago Defender. In addition, it contains extensive correspondence, manuscripts, and informal jottings, annotations, and observations. The largest portion of Brooks’s papers documents her career after leaving mainstream commercial publishing to produce her works with small presses and black-owned imprints, including her own imprint The David Company.

Don't Want to Drive to the Show? Ride a Poetry Bus, and Leave the Driving to Us!

Special Poetry Shuttles Will Operate From Local Public Libraries

Using the bus to avoid campus parking is never a bad idea. But an even better idea is take a Poetry Bus!

We have arranged for two buses to shuttle (back and forth) Brooks Celebration attendees from the Urbana Free, Champaign Public, and Douglas Branch Libraries.

These free Poetry Buses will be captained by creative, poetry-minded individuals who'll will get you in the poetry groove with brief group readings on the way to the show.

Reservations are requested, but not required. Please email Marten Stromberg (mstrombe at illinois dot edu) to reserve a place.

Bus Schedules

Bus 1: Leave Urbana Free Library at 7:00 p.m. Return departure from Lincoln Hall at 9:15 p.m.

Bus 2: Leave Douglas Branch Library, 504 E. Grove St. at 6:50 p.m. Arrive Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St at 7:00 p.m. and leave for Lincoln Hall at 7:10 p.m. Return departure from Lincoln Hall at 9:15 via Douglas Branch and then Champaign Main Library.

Spring Exhibition

Babylon to Baseball: Recent Additions to the Rare Book & Manuscript Library

24 January —16 May 2014

Curated by: Valerie Hotchkiss, Marten Stromberg, Anna Chen, Caroline Szylowicz, Tad Boehmer, Tony Hynes, Chloe Ottenhoff, Dennis Sears, and Sarah Lindenbaum

babe ruth

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library has made a number of important book and manuscript additions over the past few years. This exhibition showcases over thirty exciting new pieces.

Collections and items highlighted range from a 4000 year old Babylonian clay tablet to scarce baseball reference works once owned by the American League President's Office. Further exhibits include two Incunabula (pre-1501 imprints), a number of never-before-seen items from the new Gwendolyn Brooks Papers, two recent Carl Sandburg acquisitions, two Theatre Royal, Drury Lane playbills, job printing examples from Californian Peter Koch, and perhaps the only known writing specimen of John Webster, dramatist and contemporary of Shakespeare and author of The Duchess of Malfi (1614).

But wait, there's more!

Also on display are original drawings by the graphic artist and famous Dickens illustrator, George Cruikshank, a letter from Marcel Proust to his close friend Reynaldo Hahn, the fantastic, if not exquisite 1832 book of parrot illustrations by Edward Lear, and a postcard from H. G. Wells to his brother Fred taking credit for the original idea of the atomic bomb.


carl sandburg

Chicago Sandburg Events
This March!

Curator Marten Stromberg Curates Elmhust Exhibition, to Speak There March 6, and at the Newberry Library March 12

Rare Book & Manuscript Library curator Marten Stromberg will give two talks in Chicago this month about Carl Sandburg

The first will be Thursday, March 6 at the Elmhurst Historical Museum, which is hosting an exhibition called; "Carl Sandburg in Elmhurst." Stromberg did much of the research for the exhibition, which also features items from the Rare Book & Manuscript Library's Sandburg Collections.

The March 6 program opens with Marten's gallery talk from 5 to 7 p.m followed by refreshments and conversation in the Education Center prior to his public lecture, which will be from 7 to 8 p.m. Reservations are requested for the gallery talk. Call 630-833-1457 or email

The Newberry Library's event, "Stormy, Husky, and Brawling for 100 Years," celebrates the centennial of the publication of Sandburg's "Chicago" (and seven other poems) in Harriet Monroe's Poetry Magazine. This free event starts at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 12. Stromberg will lecture on Sandburg's American Songbag. He will also play and sing a selection of tunes from the work.

Special “Flash” Exhibition Celebrating the Life of Helga Sandburg (1918-2014)
Closes March 6


Helga Sandburg


Writer, Poet,
and Benefactor to The Rare Book & Manuscript Library

We are all saddened in RBML to hear that Helga Sandburg Crile died at her home in Cleveland Heights, Ohio on Sunday evening, January 26, 2014 after a period of failing health. She was a great friend to the Sandburg Collections in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library and donated many materials relating to her father, as well as documents important in her own writing career. This special exhibition opened February 12 and will close this Thursday, March 6 and features items documenting her close relationship to her father, as well as numerous items attesting to the importance of her own writing career.

She began her literary career typing manuscripts for her father in the loft room of a barn at the family’s small farm in Harbert, Michigan. She was close to her family and beloved by both her parents. Her father dedicated several books to her and wrote poems in her honor. 
The poem, “Helga,” from Carl Sandburg’s 1920 book, Smoke and Steel, reads:

    The wishes on this child’s mouth
    Came like snow on marsh cranberries;
    The tamarack kept something for her;
    The wind is ready to help her shoes.
    The north has loved her; she will be
    A grandmother feeding geese on frosty
    Mornings; she will understand
    Early snow on the cranberries
    Better and better then.


March No. 44 Society Meeting

A Talk by Kevin Graffagnino, Director of the Clements Library at the University of Michigan

Please join us Wednesday, March 12 at 3 p.m. as we welcome Kevin Graffagnino for a presentation, "All the Good Books: Further Confessions of an Unrepentant Bibliophile."

Graffagnino's talk will be based on his two volumes of book-quotes about books; Only in Books: Writers, Readers & Bibliophiles on Their Passion (1996) and All the Good Books: Quotations for Bibliophiles (2006).

If Graffagnino actually wasn’t one of the most accomplished and humorous bibliophiles in the world, he would prefer to have become a point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Don't miss it! All are welcome!

The Remaining 2013—2014
Schedule of Meetings of
The No. 44 Society,
a Convivial Confab for Book Collectors

March 12, 2014, 3:00 P.M. in RBML

"All the Good Books: Further Confessions of an Unrepentant Bibliophile"

Kevin Graffagnino, Director of the Clements Library at the University of Michigan will give a talk based on his two volumes of book-quotes about books; Only in Books: Writers, Readers & Bibliophiles on Their Passion (1996) and All the Good Books: Quotations for Bibliophiles (2006).

April 9, 2014, 3:00 P.M. Field Trip!

Please join us for a field trip to the Fresh Press! Pull a piece of paper and find out more about what's happening in the book arts in our area.

May 14, 2014, 3:00 P.M. in RBML

Paul Gehl, Custodian of the John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing at the Newberry Library in Chicago will talk about the University of Illinois Cavagna Collection.

RBML to Host 2014 Boneyard Art Festival Event
Thursday April 10, 3-5 p.m.

"Art and Music of the Spanish Civil War" Presentation and Flash Exhibition to Feature Pete Seeger Materials

Seventy-five years ago, on April 1st, Francisco Franco declared victory against the Republican Forces in Spain, marking the end of the Spanish Civil War. The end of the war also resulted in a return home for those surviving international volunteers who went to Spain to fight for the Republican cause. Here at Illinois we hold a large set of papers from some of these volunteers, as well as a collection of propaganda posters from the war. We will be showing posters from the collection and featuring some of the music of the international brigades, as recorded by the Almanac singers (including the late Pete Seeger) in 1943. Like other members of the Young Communist League of America, Pete Seeger leafleted for the cause of the volunteers during his time at Harvard in the late 1930s.

RBML Fall 2013 Baldwin Award Winners Announced

Brian Davidson and
John Patrick Gough Win Essay Contests

To foster the use of primary sources and rare materials, The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers prizes each fall semester for the best research paper based on original sources from RBML. The prizes are co-sponsored by the Library's book collecting club, The No. 44 Society. Professors in any University department may nominate a student’s work. All submissions must be made by faculty (not by the students themselves).

GSLIS student Brian Davidson won for his LIS 590HB paper, Leaves of Glass: Shattered Books and Their Refractions. GSLIS student John Gough won for his LIS 590 EXL research project, Slinging Ink: The Penmanship of H. P. Behrensmeyer.

The prize honors T.W. Baldwin, who put together a remarkable collection of imprints from the age of Shakespeare, with strengths in Elizabethan drama, pedagogy, religion, and social history. The topic of the winning research paper need not be related to these collections. The award for each category is $500.

The next contests will take place in the fall of 2014. Instructors should email or forward entries to Dennis Sears (dsears (at) illinois (dot) edu), The Rare Book & Manuscript Library's Public Programs Manager, 346 Library, 1408 W. Gregory Dr., Urbana, IL 61801, MC-522.

Rare Book & Manuscript Library
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

346 Main Library, 1408 W. Gregory Drive., Urbana, IL 61801 MC-586
217-333-3777    Ask A Curator

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