November 16, 2010

Ideals and standards : the history of the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science, 1893-1993
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Published to celebrate the centennial of the University of Illinois' Graduate School of Library and Information Science, these collected essays "reveal how much the School has always been involved in change and at the same time how much the practices of today are embedded in the work of our predecessors." Includes essays by Kathryn Luther Henderson, Terry Weech, Linda Smith, Leigh Estabrook, Selma Richardson, and F. W. Lancaster, among others, and many wonderful photos from early years at GSLIS.


November 9, 2010

Vacation on the trail; personal experiences in the higher mountain trails with complete directions for the outfitting of inexpensive expeditions (1923)

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This short, engaging book, subtitled "Personal experiences in the higher mountain trails with complete directions for the outfitting of inexpensive expeditions," was penned in 1923 by Eugene Davenport (1856-1941), dean of the College of Agriculture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1895 to1922. Need a rest? Head to the mountains, Davenport advises, for "Nowhere else is there such a succession of details to occupy the attention without mental strain as is afforded on the trail, and if it should chance to lie on the upper levels of the mountains, there is not to be found elsewhere so vast an outlay of nature's best or so changing a display of her mighty works. Altogether, there is nothing to be compared with a vacation on the trail."


June 4, 2010

Old Saint Paul's : a tale of the plague and the fire (1841)

The historical back drop for William Harrison Ainsworth’s 1847 novel Old Saint Paul’s: a tale of the plague and the fire includes two events that occurred during the years 1665 and 1666 in London—the Great Plague, which broke out in 1665, and the Great Fire of 1666, which effectively ended the plague but also destroyed much of the city. During the plague many of the victims, especially among the poor, were buried in communal “plague pits” like the one pictured here in an illustration by John Franklin in volume 2 of the 1847 edition of Ainsworth’s novel. (Source: Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics [Harvard University Library Open Collections Program])

See also "The history of the great plague in London in the year 1665, containing observations and memorials of the most remarkable occurrences, both public and private, during that dreadful period (1832)" digitized by the University of California Libraries.


February 12, 2010

Come visit us on Flickr! Try out Cooliris!

Selections from the digital image collections at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library are now available on Flickr at Or browse through a selection of our Flickr photos with the Cooliris viewer below. Just click and drag!

February 11, 2010

Le Centre de l'amour : decouvert soubs divers emblesmes galans et facetieux (1680)
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One of the more recent additions to the University of Illinois' collection of digitized emblem books, Le Centre de l'amour : decouvert soubs divers emblesmes galans et facetieux (roughly translated "The Center of love: discovered through various emblems, gallant and facetious") is a Valentine's Day offering from us to you!


August 2, 2009

Palliser's American cottage homes (1878)
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Palliser, Palliser & Company of New York was widely considered the most influential pattern book publishers of the late 19th century. For a small fee, prospective homeowners, builders, and contractors could write to Palliser and obtain a set of architectural plans with elevations and perspective views for the most popular architectural styles of the day. An example of Palliser's Cottage Home No. 35 built on 111th Place in Chicago received Chicago landmark status in 2000. You can see a picture of it at


July 30, 2009

Joe Worker and the Story of Labor (1948)
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Joe Worker and the Story of Labor, written by Nat Schachner with art by Jack Alderman, is a fascinating piece of American labor union history. Produced in 1948, it was distributed by the National Labor Service and published by Commercial Comics. "Here is the story of labor in America—dramatic! important! thrill-packed! More exciting than any adventure novel! Join the millions of Americans who have always wanted to know the real, true story of labor and labor unions in this country…All the answers—and plenty more—can be found in this color-splashed, dialoged series of comic strips, with peppy explanatory text. When you have finished this great story, you will have a new understanding and a new pride in the history of the American worker and his fight for better conditions, for a world free of intolerance and prejudice, for a world of decency and unit. A book for every American—regardless of race, color or creed." (from the foreword).


July 16, 2009

Tenement Conditions in Chicago: Report by the Investigating Committee of the City Homes Association (1901)
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In the late 1800s, unscrupulous slumlords took advantage of the Chicago's lax enforcement of housing construction codes to build sub-standard and crowded housing on small lots near the factories and stockyards that employed the waves of European immigrants moving into Chicago. This 1901 study attempted to raise public awareness of the devastating living conditions in some of the worst wards of the city. It paid particular attention to the "double-decker" or "dumb-bell" buildings where front and rear tenement buildings were joined by narrow passageways without proper provision for ventilation and light. "Some apartments have no windows opening upon any other space. The sun reaches the bottom for a few moments only each day, and the lower rooms opening upon it are always dark."


June 17, 2009

The faerie qveen : The shepheards calendar : together with the other works of England's arch-poët (1609)
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Holiness, temperance, chastity, friendship, justice and courtesy were among the many virtues that English poet Edmund Spenser attributed to Queen Elizabeth I in his epic poem of praise The Faerie Queen, believed to be the longest poem ever written in English. Shown here are the title page and Spenser's effusive dedication page from the 1609 edition in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois. This volume, along with several others of Spenser's work held by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, were digitized for inclusion in the Spenser Archive. When completed the Spenser Archive "will serve both as a fully searchable research tool and as a teaching tool that presents a wide range of engaging possibilities to the novice user." View other digitized books by Edmund Spenser from the University of Illinois Library.


February 11, 2009

Bees and Wasps and Ants, Oh My!

Nouvelle méthode de classer les hyménoptères et les diptères. Avec figures (1807)
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Last year, the University of Illinois Library and the Chicago Field Museum submitted a successful grant application to The Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI) to digitize approximately 175 volumes on the taxonomy and biology of Hymenoptera, the third largest order of insects that includes over 108,000 species of bees, wasps and ants. Biodiversity researchers from several institutions in Illinois are working on Hymenoptera, including the Field Museum, Illinois Natural History Survey, Northern Illinois University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Western Illinois University. Easier access to what is already known about these insects can only improve their ability to understand hymenopteran biodiversity. Some of these books contain very attractive hand-colored plates and so traditionally have been locked up to preserve them from theft. Digitized copies of these volumes, which will also be contributed to the Biodiversity Heritage Library Project, will make these images much more useable and discoverable. Follow these links for more titles: Hymenoptera, Bees, Wasps, Ants.


December 23, 2008

Thirty-eight woodcuts illustrating the life of Christ (ca. 1815)

Depiction of the infant Jesus from Thirty-eight Woodcuts Illustrating the Life of Christ. Project Unica is an initiative of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to produce high quality digital facsimiles of printed books that exist in only one copy. The concept of a "unicum" is difficult for the average library user to understand, since printed books, by their very nature, exist in more than one copy—that's the genius of Gutenberg's invention, after all. But fate and circumstance has sometime led to the destruction of every copy, save one, of a printed book, and the University of Illinois has quite a number of absolutely unique printed books. The aim of Project Unica is to digitize these supremely rare items and to provide a simple and efficient way of getting this valuable and unique information to scholars when and where they need it.


December 11, 2008

The Illinois Technograph -- University of Illinois College of Engineering

The Illinois Technograph is the University of Ilinois' award-winning student-produced engineering magazine. Here we step back 47 years into the Technograph's archives where, tucked in among the articles on magnetohydrodynamic generators and the ads for deep strength asphalt pavement materials, you can find the monthly "Technocutie" column featuring a cheerful co-ed eager to share her phone number and measurements (no, we're NOT talking mass, force, pressure, or density here) with the boys in Engineering Hall. The enrollment of women in the University of Illinois College of Engineering has increased from less than 1% in 1967 to slightly over 16% in 2008 and the Technocutie column is no more. We recently digitized the entire backrun of the Illinois Technograph; issues from 1960 - 1984 are now available in IDEALS. View the complete run.


November 9, 2008

Chicago Architectural Club Annual (1914)
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"In the early 1880's . . . James H. Carpenter, a 42-year-old English born itinerant "draughtsman" in Chicago . . .realized that the need for trained men to finalize designs and produce the working drawings needed for the construction of Chicago's buildings had reached a critical stage. Just what Carpenter's motives were have never before been defined, but it was he who brought eighteen "draughtsman" colleagues together to form The Chicago Architectural Sketch Club in the spring of 1885. This organization, later renamed The Chicago Architectural Club, was responsible for the evolution and development of the Chicago School of Architecture more than any other individual, firm, or professional society. It was through the efforts of this Club that young men, and a few young women, learned the history, the styles, and the functions of architecture to a degree whereby they were able to translate first their employers and later their own clients' needs into buildings." [excerpted from the preface to The Chicago Architectural Club, Prelude to the Modern, by Wilbert R. Hasbrouck (2005). The University of Illinois Library has recently digitized from microfilm the early volumes of the Chicago Architectural Club Annual.


October 25, 2008

Forbidden to Marry, by Isabella Banks
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Forbidden to Marry by Isabella Varley Banks (1821-1897) typifies the "triple-decker" novel, which was a standard form of publishing for British fiction from the early 1800s until the 1890s. The market for this form of fiction was closely tied to commercial "circulating libraries," such as Mudie’s and W. H. Smith. Unlike free public libraries, these circulating libraries charged patrons to borrow books, much like video rental stores do today. Publishing longer works of fiction was quite expensive, and by releasing them in multiple parts publishers captured an audience who eagerly awaited the next installment while proceeds from the first volumes paid for the printing of later volumes. Often sensational in subject matter, the genre was populated by heroines in danger, misdirected letters, amazing coincidences, characters in disguise, potions and poisons. This copy of Forbidden to Marry contains an autographed photograph of and inscription by the author. The University of Illinois Library holds one of the largest collections of triple-decker novels and will be digitizing many of them over the coming year. To see more titles as they are added, visit


August 28, 2008

Trumpet of Freedom
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In anticipation of the 2009 bicentennial celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birth, we recently digitized a small collection of Civil War era sheet music from the University of Illinois Music Library. View the entire collection here.


August 27, 2008

Autobiography of a fugitive negro : his anti-slavery labours in the United States, Canada & England (1855)
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Samuel Ringgold Ward (1817-1866) was a journalist, abolitionist, lecturer, and contemporary of Frederick Douglass. Born the son of American slaves who escaped to New Jersey in 1820 when he was three years old, Ward and his family settled soon thereafter in New York City where Ward was educated at The African Free School, an institution founded by the New York Manumission Society in1787 to provide education to children of slaves and freemen. In 1839, he joined the American Anti-Slavery Society and soon thereafter the new Anti-Slavery Society of Canada. In April 1853 the Canadian society sent Ward to England to seek funds to help the fugitive slaves then pouring into western Canada. He wrote his Autobiography of a Fugitive Negro while living in England. (Dictionary of Canadian Biography).


July 12, 2008

Chicago gang wars in pictures; X marks the spot (c1930])
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According to the My Al Capone Museum website, this week’s featured book was first published anonymously in 1930 because the author, Chicago reporter Harold “Hal Andrews” feared reprisals from the Chicago mob, and probably with good reason. The book contains gory crime scene photos taken at the sites of some of the most notorious Chicago gangland killings of the 1920s. (Warning! Not for the squeamish!) No less a big boy than Al Capone, who is believed to have ordered the notorious 1929 St. Valentine’s Day massacre of a rival Chicago crime gang, reportedly ordered his minions to confiscate every copy of “X Marks the Spot” from Chicago newspaper stands. The University of Illinois' copy of "X Marks the Spot" bears the author's signature and the following inscription "Chicago, in her 100 years of progress, has borne many crosses, but none greater than the cross that marks the spot X."


July 7, 2008

Il costume antico e moderno, o, storia del governo, della milizia, della religione, delle arti, scienze ed usanze di tutti i popoli antichi e moderni, provata coi monumenti dell'antichità e rappresentata cogli analoghi disegni dal dottor Giulio Ferrario :
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Giulio Ferrario (1767-1847), of Milan, was an intellectual, publisher, printer and librarian. His monumental work Il costume antico e moderno contains over 1,500 hand-colored plates depicting clothing from the classical period through the early 1800s, as well as many architectural drawings and engravings. The University of Illinois Library recently digitized all 15 volumes of this work that are held in its collection. View all digitized volumes in this series.


June 29, 2008

The life of Frances E. Willard (1912)
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"Agitate, educate, organize." Frances Elizabeth Willard (1839 – 1898) was a notable American educator and social reformer. In 1873 she became the Dean of Women of the Woman's College of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Willard served as the elected president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) from 1879 until her death. Not to be found in this reverential biography by Anna Gordon, Willard's personal secretary of 21 years, is any mention of Willard's unfortunate dispute with anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells. In her attempts to recruit southern women into the WCTU, Willard blamed lynchings not on racism, but on the alcohol fueled rapes of white women by black men. While seeing eye to eye on many other issues of the time, the two women were never able to resolve their differences on this important issue where gender and race intersected so pointedly. See also Woman and temperance : or, The work and workers of the Woman's Christian temperance union (1883) by Frances Willard and The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States by Ida B. Wells.


June 16, 2008

The life of P.T. Barnum (1888) written by himself
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Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810 – 1891) was an American businessman and showman who founded the circus that eventually became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Barnum once visited Abraham Lincoln in the White House accompanied by the little person Tom Thumb (the stage name of Charles Sherwood Stratton). Given to outrageous self-promotion, Barnum loved a good hoax--his "elephantine farming" hoax (see entry) had the secretaries of every state agricultural association writing for more information about this exciting advancement in farming. A pro-Unionist, Barnum's circus and museum drew large audiences seeking respite and diversion during the American civil war. Barnum wrote several other books, including The Humbugs of the World : An account of humbugs, delusions, impositions, quackeries, deceits and deceivers generally, in all ages (1866) and Struggles and Triumphs, or, Forty years' recollections (1871).


May 26, 2008

The landscape gardening book, wherein are set down the simple laws of beauty and utility which should guide the development of all grounds (1911) by Grace Tabor.
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Over 100 classic gardening texts from the University of Illinois' City Planning and Landscape Architecture Library were recently digitized, and many of them with extensive taxonomic content will be contributed to the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Among these are Grace Tabor's The Landscape Gardening Book. "Grace Tabor, one of the first women to identify herself professionally as a landscape architect, was born around 1873 in Cuba, N.Y. She studied at the Art Students League in Buffalo and in New York City, and at the New York School of Applied Design for Women . . . She is best known as a writer on landscape design and architecture. Beginning in 1905, Tabor wrote and drew plans for such magazines as The Garden Magazine and Country Life in America. She also wrote regularly for A Woman's Home Companion. In 1920 she began a garden column for the magazine that ran until 1941. Tabor reached a wide audience through The Woman's Home Companion, which was at the time among the most influential women's magazines in the country." (From Pioneers of American Landscape Design: An Annotated Bibliography edited by Charles A. Birnbaum and Lisa E. Crowder, 1993.)


May 11, 2008

Klondike. The Chicago Record's book for gold seekers (1897)
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In the late 19th century, gold was discovered along the Klondike River near Dawson City, Yukon, Canada. The discovery kicked off a frenzy of immigration to the area by would be gold diggers. This handy manual, published by the Chicago Record in 1897, contained "every known practical and contemplated route to all the gold fields in the north . . . comprehensively and minutely described, with maps and tables of distances which are absolutely reliable. Everything which a gold- seeker should know that can be placed in type is contained in this book." (From the preface)


May 4, 2008

Musical Scores from the University of Illinois Music Library

Nearly 100 musical scores from UIUC's Music Library were digitized recently at the Open Content Alliance/Internet Archive scanning center on campus. Represented in this new online collection are Victor Herbert, John Philip Sousa, Jerome Kern, and Gilbert & Sullivan. The Music Library is one of the largest collections of its kind at a public university, and is currently ranked among the top ten music libraries in the United States. Its collections contain more than 765,000 volumes, including over 55,000 books, 520,000 scores, 19,000 microforms, 150,000 sound recordings, and over 20,000 items in other formats and media.


April 22, 2008

Bloomington and Normal : past and present, progress and prosperity : spring souvenir ([1905])
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Need a wife? How about a housekeeper? A husband? Or a handyman? Apparently citizens of Bloomington-Normal in the early 1900s could experience "one-stop shopping" at Mrs. R. Houghton's Old Reliable Employment and Matrimonial Bureau. Stern looking Mrs. Houghton (or was this really Mr. Houghton in drag?) is just one of the upstanding citizens featured in this 1905 souvenir booklet highlighting the businesses of the Bloomington-Normal communities.


April 5, 2008

John Wilkes Booth; escape and wanderings until final ending of the trail by suicide at Enid, Oklahoma, January 12, 1903 (c1922)
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Also, The escape and suicide of John Wilkes Booth : or, The first true account of Lincoln's assassination, containing a complete confession by Booth [1907?]
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On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated while attending a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. After entering Lincoln's theater box and shooting the President in the head with a .44 caliber Derringer, the soon to be infamous assassin, actor John Wilkes Booth, jumped from the theater box to the stage floor, and despite injuring his leg, managed to exit the theater. He was pursued by 25 Union soldiers through the Virginia countryside, where he was eventually captured and shot to death twelve days later. But in the years following the assassination and Booth's death, sensational theories of Booth's escape and subsequent wanderings and death were promoted. In this week's featured books by William Parker Campell and Finis Langdon Bates, Booth supposedly assumed a new identity as David E. George and eventually committed suicide in Enid, OK, in 1903. Bates even toured the country exhibiting David George's mummified corpse, claiming it was the body of John Wilkes Booth.


March 28, 2008

The story of the stadium (1921)
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A wonderfully illustrated classic piece of Illini history, The Story of the Stadium, is a 1921 "call to all Illini everywhere" to contribute towards the building of what was to become Memorial Stadium. Named in honor of the 183 Illini who died in World War 1, Memorial Stadium would, in the words of former President David Kinley, "bring a touch of Greek glory to the prairie." With each $100 pledge, a faithful Illini could secure a good seat in the stadium for 10 years. In 2008, Memorial Stadium is undergoing a dramatic renovation with the Illinois Renaissance Project; upon it's completion, the University of Illinois is hopeful that Memorial Stadium will remain eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and for designation as a National Historic Landmark.


March 16, 2008

Historia de la guerra europea de 1914 : ilustrada con millares de fotografías, dibujos y láminas ([1914-1919])
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The Historia de la Guerra Europea de 1914 is a nine volume profusely illustrated history of World War 1 by the Spanish writer Vicente Blasco Ibañez, best known for his World War 1 novel Los cuatro jinetes del apocalipsis, which was filmed in 1921 as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Many thanks go to Sr. Gaston Fernandez of Argentina who has generously sponsored the digitization of this remarkable work.


March 10, 2008

On the banks of the Boneyard; Illinois tales of events from the early days of the Illinois industrial university to the advent of Dr. Thomas Jonathan Burrill as acting president (1942])
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"Most of us were boys and girls from the farms and towns of Illinois; we looked as though we had been born between two rows of corn, and I fear we acted like it also." So remembers Charles Albert Kiler, UIUC Class of 1892, in this charming memoir written for the 50th reunion of the Class of 1892 on May 31, 1942. Read about the time when there were 27 men and "three ladies" on the UIUC faculty and when fraternities, or "secret societies," were strictly forbidden. Then there was the lecture delivered by Mae Wright Sewell urging women to throw off their tight fitting corsets and adopt a loose fitting sailor suit type dress. As a result, forty women students dressed in their liberated sailor suit attire hid in the back of the Library's bookstacks before marching in solidarity into a gathering of students and faculty where they caused such a stir that "every man in the band dropped his instrument and fainted" and George Huff kicked his bass drum across the platform.


February 29, 2008

The Republican campaign songster, for 1860 (1860)
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Hillary Clinton has Celine Dion's "You and I." For Barack Obama it's Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours." And John McCain's apparently switched to ABBA's "Take A Chance on Me" after John Mellencamp asked the Republican frontrunner to stop using his "Our Country." What is it? The campaign song! "Campaign songs are partisan ditties used in American political canvasses and more especially in presidential contests. The words were commonly set to established melodies like "Yankee Doodle," "Hail, Columbia," "Rosin the Bow," "Hail to the Chief" "John Brown's Body," "Dixie" and "O Tannenbaum" ("Maryland, My Maryland"); or to tunes widely popular at the time." [source: Dictionary of American History by James Truslow Adams, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1940] This week you can enjoy some of Abe Lincoln's.


February 23, 2008

Chicago race riots (c1919)
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This Socialist labor pamphlet, published shortly after a violent race riot in Chicago during the summer of 1919, was digitized from the original in the Lawrence J. Gutter Collection of Chicagoana in the Library of the University of Illinois at Chicago. The passage below is from the article "Our Real Enemy" by Mary Marcy, who urges black and white workers to organize together against their mutual exploitation by capitalist interests, in this case the owners of Chicago's meat packing businesses. Mary Marcy (1877-1922), born in Belleville, Illinois, was a columnist and editor of the International Socialist Review, published in Chicago from 1900 to 1918.


February 16, 2008

University of Illinois Built Environment

This week's feature is not a book, but a collection of images not to be missed. The Illinois Built Environment collection provides to the public for the first time, a first-hand view of select original documents used to shape the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Among others, items include hand sketches of campus plans, original trace and linen drawings of many of the Central Quadrangle buildings, four separate proposed sketches for the original Library, now known as Altgeld Hall, and watercolor renderings for the display of the Alma Mater and many buildings. Many of the documents are common elevation architectural drawings. Some provide information that can inform the educated eye about building materials and the use of various construction techniques. Many are reflective of design trends of the times and some show comments and notes of the architect. This collection will grow over time as more original drawings, sketches and renderings are released for public use. Pictured below are four photographs taken during the construction of the fifth stack addition to the Main Library. The digitization of this collection was spearheaded by Joanne Kaczmarek, Archivist for Electronic Records, and funded by the Library's Large Scale Digitization Project in 2007.


February 9, 2008

The German emigrants; or, Frederick Wohlgemuth's voyage to California ([185-?])
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Written for a juvenile audience, and reflecting the strong anti-slavery sentiments of many 19th century German emigrants to America, The German emigrants; or, Frederick Wohlgemuth's voyage to California, tells the story of Fred Wohlgemuth, a young Prussian boy, who with his family emigrates from Germany to California during the Gold Rush era. During the voyage over, the emigrants' ship encounters the grim wreckage of a Portuguese slave ship and rescues a lone surviving slave, Quaquatalexera. The author has Quaquatalexera relate the gruesome story of the slave ship so "that it becomes a necessary branch of information to young people, especially as none of them know but what, sooner or later, they may emigrate with their parents or relations to those countries where negro slavery is tolerated by law." Upon reaching Cuba later on in their journey, the emigrants join an unsucessful attempt to free a group of black slaves in Havana. Fred and his family finally arrive in San Francisco where they strike it rich in the gold mines.


February 2, 2008

Good recipes (c1906)
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This week's book Good Recipes, published by the Woman's Society of the Winnetka Congregational Church in 1906, is one of a collection of 643 community cookbooks donated to the University Library by Mrs. Hermilda Listeman, who collected cookbooks her entire life. The cookbooks can be read for their 'receipts' as well as for their representation of American food preferences, the advancement of technology in the kitchen and the evolution of nutritional theory. Visit the online exhibit Communal Cuisine: Community Cookbooks 1877-1960. View more digitized cookbooks from this collection.


January 27, 2008

The Watseka wonder; a startling and instructive psychological study, and well authenticated instance of angelic visitation. A narrative of the leading phenomena occurring in the case of Mary Lurancy Vennum .. (1878)
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What did Harry Houdini, Mary Todd Lincoln, and Horace Greeley have in common? They all believed in the possibility of communicating with the spirits of the dead, a central tenant of the American spiritualism movement, which raged throughout the U.S. from the decade before the Civil War through the early years of the 20th century. Spiritualism was alive and well in Illinois during this time; the prominent and long-running American spiritualist weekly The Religio-Philosophical Journal was published in Chicago from 1865 through 1905. This pamphlet by physician E.W. Stevens recounts the story of a Watseka, Illinois, girl named Lurancy Vennum, whose body, for sixteen weeks in 1878, was supposedly possessed by the spirit of Mary Roff, another Watseka native who had died in a mental institution thirteen years previously.

Trailer for a really spooky movie based on The Watseka Wonder!


January 19, 2008

War's greatest workshop, Rock Island arsenal; historical, topographical and illustrative ... published with the approval of the War department (1922)
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Established by an Act of Congress in 1862, Rock Island Arsenal sits on Arsenal Island in the middle of the Mississippi between Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois, and has been one of the country's largest manufacturers of artillery and military equipment since the 1880s. During the Civil War, Arsenal Island was also home to Union army prison camp that housed over 12,400 Confederate prisoners. During its peak of production during WWI, it employed 14,778 employees. Congress appropriated over $1.6 billion in today’s dollars to the Rock Island Arsenal during that war. In addition to artillery, the arsenal produced over 1.5 million bacon cans, 649,000 canteen covers, and 858,344 haversacks for the war effort. This illustrated history of the arsenal is also a rich source of historical and genealogical information about the tri-cities of Rock Island, Moline, and Davenport. See also Rock Island arsenal, in peace and in war : with maps and illustrations (1898)


January 11, 2008

Chicago Foreign Language Press Survey: Czech (1878-1924)
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The Chicago Foreign Language Press Survey was published in 1942 by the Chicago Public Library Omnibus Project of the Work Projects Administration of Illinois. Its purpose was to translate into English and classify selected news articles appearing in the Chicago area foreign language press from 1861 to 1938. The project consists of a file of 120,000 typewritten pages translated from newspapers of 22 different foreign language communities in Chicago. UIUC Library is now digitizing this entire set from microfilm. The excerpt below is from the September 14, 1917 issue of the Chicago Czech language newspaper Denní Hlasatel. Also included in the set are English translations of Albanian, Chinese, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Jewish, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish, and Ukrainian language newspapers from the late 19th and early 20th century Chicago area immigrant communities.

December 21, 2007

The giraffe in history and art (Volume Fieldiana, Popular Series, Anthropology, no. 27) (1928)
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Mohammed Ali, Pasha of Egypt in the early 1800s, was fond of sending giraffes to European monarchs. Unfortunately, the one he sent King George IV of England, survived only a few months at Windsor Palace, but the young female he sent to the king of France in 1826 thrilled Parisians for almost twenty years, inspiring songs, poems, and the realm of fashion (dresses à la girafe, hats and neckties à la girafe, and combs à la girafe.) From Egypt to Africa to China, and from the ancient Greeks through the Renaissance and into modern times, this volume from the Chicago Field Museum's Popular Anthropology series of Fieldiana is a small treasure trove of information and stories about Giraffidae, tallest of all mammals.


December 15, 2007

Correction of echoes and reverberation in the Auditorium, University of Illinois ([1916])
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UIUC's Foellinger Auditorium, designed in the Beaux Arts classical style by C. H. Blackall, a University alum, has seen the likes of John Phillip Sousa, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Spike Lee grace its stage. But 100 years ago, the "limited appropriations for the building made it impossible to embellish the surface of the walls and ceiling, and therefore, they were left practically plain, which increased their power to reflect sound and create echoes." As described in Bulletin No. 87 of the UIUC Engineering Experiment Station, 3,315 square feet of Akustikos Felt mounted on wooden ribs built out from the walls finally managed to correct the problem. The Engineering Experiment Station was established in 1905 by an act of the University's Board of Trustees to "carry on investigations along various lines of engineering, and to make studies of problems of importance to professional engineers." Digitization of all of the Engineering Experiment Station Bulletins was recently completed and the bulletins will be available soon through Illinois Harvest.


December 9, 2007

The W.G.N. : a handbook of newspaper administration, editorial, advertising, production, circulation, minutely depicting, in word and picture, "how it’s done" / by the world’s greatest newspaper. (1922)
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When the Chicago Tribune was founded by Joseph Medill in 1847, Chicago's population was a mere 16,000; Galena was still the commercial center of Illinois; Queen Victoria was on the throne of England; Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre had just been published; the Chicago River still ran into Lake Michigan, and Abraham Lincoln was just 38 years old. From the Civil War, through the great Chicago Fire, through World War I (when the Tribune began publishing the Army Edition of the Tribune in Paris), and ending in 1922 with the announcement of an architectural contest to design the building that was to be known throughout the world as the Tribune Tower, this illustrated early history of the "world's greatest newspaper" is a page turner not to be missed!


November 28, 2007

Die menschliche sterblichkeit, unter dem titel Todten-tanz, in 61 original-kupfern (1759)
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Since the 1940’s the University Library has amassed a collection of over 600 emblem books written from 1540-1800, published in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and England. No other American library has such extensive holdings. Emblem books can possibly be looked upon as the multi-media publications of the 17th and 18th centuries. Each emblem is composed of three constitutive elements - a motto, an illustration or “pictura” in the form of a woodcut or engraving, and an explanatory poem or "subscriptio." An emblem is more than the sum of its parts, because the interplay between text and image produces a greater meaning than any of the individual components can provide. In 1998 the University Library began collaborating with Professor Mara Wade of the German Department to provide enhanced access to the German emblem books through digitization. The initial digitization efforts were funded by the UIUC Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. Die menschliche sterblichkeit, unter dem titel Todten-tanz, in 61 original-kupfern (1759) is the first emblem book to be digitized at the UIUC Open Content Alliance scanning center. Visit the German Emblem Book Project website.


November 24, 2007

Bird observations near Chicago ([c1919]) by Ellen Drummond Farwell
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Ellen Drummond Farwell was born in Chicago, December 29, 1859, and was elected an Associate of the American Ornithologists' Union in 1896. In the following year she became one of the chief organizers of the Illinois Audubon Society and was a director or vice-president during the rest of her life. She was much interested in birds and kept notes on the various species that she observed from time to time. Eight years after her death these notes were published under the title 'Bird Observations near Chicago,' with an introduction by her sister, Mary Drummond. (Source: The Auk, Volume 70, Number 4, October, 1953)


November 18, 2007

The Black-bird's nest: an instructive and amusing tale, by Mahlon Day (1832)
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Mahlon Day (1790-1854) was an early New York City printer, who specialized in books for children. The Black-bird's Nest relates what happens to little boys who tell lies. Mahlon Day's tone is decidedly didactic: “Such is the progress of vice. Do not deceive yourselves: detection is certain...The first slip of your memory, will throw you into such confusion, as will naturally lead to discovery; then follow disgrace, shame, and the punishments you justly deserve.” This book was digitized as part of the Unica Project in UIUC Library's Rare Book and Manuscript Library. According to Worldcat, UIUC's copies of these books are the only known copies in existence. View more Unica Project books.


November 10, 2007

Was it a fair trial? An appeal to the Govenor of Illinois by Gen. M. M. Trumbull in behalf of the condemned anarchists (1887)
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On May 4, 1886, labor leaders in Chicago organized a rally at Haymarket Square near the corner of Randolph and Des Plaines streets to protest the killing on the previous day of four striking workers during a rally for the eight-hour work day. As police began to break up the peaceful demonstration, someone threw a bomb into the crowd, and the police began shooting; by the time the ensuing chaos had ended, seven policemen and four workers were dead. Eight men were arrested in connection with the bomb throwing--August Spies, Albert Parsons, Adolph Fischer, George Engel, Louis Lingg, Michael Schwab, Samuel Fielden and Oscar Neebe. After a 63 day trial, during which no evidence was presented that tied any of the eight to the bomb throwing, all were found guilty and seven sentenced to death by a jury that had deliberated a mere three hours. Fielden’s and Schwab’s sentences were commuted to life in prison by Governor Richard James Oglesby, and Louis Lingg committed suicide in jail. On November 11, 1887 Spies, Parsons, Fischer, and Engel were hung to death in a Cook County jail. In 1893, Illinois governor John Altgeld concluded that all eight had been wrongfully convicted, and in a move that ended his political career, pardoned Fielden, Schwab, and Neebe. Numerous books about what has come to be called the Haymarket Riot have been digitized from the collections of the libraries of UI Chicago and UIUC. Click here for a complete list.


November 5, 2007

Die Akropolis von Athen [microform] (1896) by Hermann Luckenbach.
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In 2000, the Classics Library at UIUC received a $85,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to microfilm its Dittenberger-Vahlen Collection of rare, priceless and perishable 19th century European dissertations and other short scholarly works on Latin and Greek literature, history and civilization. The grant was part of a $885,000 NEH grant to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation's (CIC) Center for Library Initiatives. Now, this microfilmed set is being digitized in a pilot project conducted jointly by the UIUC Library and the Internet Archive to do mass digitization of microfilm. The UIUC Library acquired the private collections of Wilhelm Dittenberger (1840-1906) and Johannes Vahlen (1830-1911) in 1907 and 1913, respectively. Dittenberger's collection consists of 5,600 books and 2,000 pamphlets; Vahlen's consists of 10,000 books and 15,000 pamphlets.


October 28, 2007

The Jews of Illinois : their religious and civic life, their charity and industry, their patriotism and loyalty to American institutions, from their earliest settlement in the State unto the present time (1901])
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The Reform Advocate was a Jewish weekly published in Chicago from 1891 through 1946. Edited by Emil G. Hirsch, the magazine was an advocate of progressive Judaism. The May 4,1901 issue featured here focused on Jews in Illinois, "their religious and civic life, their charity and industry, their patriotism and loyalty to American institutions, from their earliest settlement in the State unto the present time." From the Lawrence J. Gutter Collection of Chicagoana at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


October 24, 2007

Fighting the traffic in young girls; or, War on the white slave trade; a complete and detailed account of the shameless traffic in young girls .. (c1910])
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In the early years of the 20th century, a moral panic broke out in urban America after Illinois-born George Kibbe Turner, a reporter and muckraker, wrote a sensational article in McClure's Magazine about white women being forced into prostitution by Asian and southern European immigrants. Turner's article fed on racial fears in post-emancipation America and led to a vigorous anti-prostitution movement in the 1910s. In 1910 Congress passed the White Slave Traffic Act, also known as the Mann Act after James Mann, U.S. representative from Illinois who introduced it. Hiroyuki Matsubara, in The 1910s Anti-Prostitution Movement and the Transformation of American Political Culture, observed that "the forced sex labor of white women appeared to be the worst nightmare, or the reality, in the post-emancipation era. As if replacing black slaves, white women were dragged down by un-American intruders to a filthy corner of a city crowded with poor workers and immigrants. After the formal end of black slavery, Americans were now afraid of being confronted with white slavery." See also The Social Evil in Chicago (1911), The Social Menace of the Orient (1921), and Chicago's Black Traffic in White Women (1911).


October 12, 2007

The underground rail road. A record of facts, authentic narratives, letters, &c., narrating the hardships, hair-breadth escapes, and death struggles of the slaves in their efforts for freedom, as related by themselves and others. . . (1872)
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"William Still's book on the Underground Railroad was an important addition to the literature of the antislavery movement. One of the small number of postwar accounts written or compiled by Negro authors, it provided a much-needed corrective to the memoirs of white abolitionists. Still recognized the many contributions of white abolitionists, but he also pictured the fugitives themselves as courageous individuals, struggling for their own freedom, rather than as helpless or passive passengers on a white Underground Railroad. His journals were the only day-to-day record of vigilance committee activity covering a prolonged period. In addition to the accounts of the fugitives, he included excerpts from newspapers. legal documents, letters from abolitionists and former slaves, and biographical sketches." From William Still Underground RR Foundation Inc.


October 7, 2007

Illinois central employees' magazine 1914-1924
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You don't have to be a railroad buff to find yourself spending hours paging through UIUC's recently digitized volumes of the Illinois Central Employees' Magazine for the years 1914-1924, which by the way, average 1500 pages each. Its profusely illustrated pages offer a fascinating cultural history of the railroad in American life and the place of the Illinois Central Railroad in the family life of its employees. Each issue featured an extensive article on a town along the ICR route, a column for homemakers, a column on railroad humor, and advice for employees on financial planning. Interwoven with these articles of parochial interest are features on railroad engineering, legal issues (train accidents abounded in the early days!), industries that relied heavily on the railroad, and politics. You can even read about General John "Black Jack" Pershing's visit to Urbana in 1922! A treasure trove of information for genealogists!


September 30, 2007

Les aventures de Huck Finn : l'ami de Tom Sawyer ([1886])
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A fitting selection for the launch of the American Library Association's annual Banned Books Week ( is this first French edition of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from UIUC's Rare Books and Manuscripts Library. Ranking fifth on ALA's list of The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2001, Twain's timeless telling of the adventures of Tom Sawyer's best friend Huckleberry Finn and Jim, a runaway slave, has been the target of censors since it was first published in 1884. In 1885, it was banned from the shelves of the Public Library of Concord, Massachusetts, when the board decided Twain's book lacked gentility, contained coarse language, and its hero, Huck, challenged his elders and told lies. Objections to the book in the last 40 or so years has focused on perceptions of racism and insensitivity due to the use of the term "nigger" in reference to Jim. However, as Pulitzer Prize-winner Russell Baker pointed out in the New York Times in 1982, "The people whom Huck and Jim encounter on the Mississippi are drunkards, murderers, bullies, swindlers, lynchers, thieves, liars, frauds, child abusers, numskulls, hypocrites, windbags and traders in human flesh. All are white. The one man of honor in this phantasmagoria is 'Nigger Jim,' as Twain called him to emphasize the irony of a society in which the only true gentleman was held beneath contempt."


September 23, 2007

New Piasa Chautauqua : the pioneer chautauqua of the Mississippi Valley : the twenty-ninth annual program (1912?])

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The chautaugua movement was a popular educational movement in the late 19th century that continued into the 1920s, when radio and other forms of popular entertainment led to its demise. The Piasa Chautaugua--"the pioneer chautaugua of the Mississippi Valley" in southern Illinois not far from St. Louis was "in a beautiful valley between high, massive bluffs, with the Mississippi at its front and an almost unexplored forest at its back, one of Nature's most picturesque spots and dear to all those who have enjoyed its beauties, its clear, pure air, delightfully cool nights and beautiful scenery." For a few weeks each summer, residents of St. Louis and other nearby communities would gather for a program featuring educational speakers, workshops, musicians, artists, and physical recreation. This week's featured book is the program for the summer of 1912. Filled with wonderful photographs.


September 16, 2007

The lost city! drama of the fire fiend! or Chicago, as it was, and as it is! and its glorious future! a vivid and truthful picture of all of interest connected with the destruction of Chicago and the terrible fires of the great North-west .. (1872)
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The great Chicago Fire of October 1871 killed 200-300 persons and left homeless over a third of the residents of the city whose population at the time was around 300,000. Five square miles of the city were destroyed, along with 25,000 buildings (including the original Palmer House Hotel and Chicago Tribune Building) and 1.6 million bushels of grain stored in the city's grain elevators. As the fire raged, Chicagoans sought refuge on the lake front and in Lincoln Park and city cemeteries. Frank Luzerne's account of the disaster is quite sensational, detailing horrible deaths, miraculous escapes, and heroic rescues, along with a very detailed tour of the Chicago morgue in the days following the fire. With its mostly wooden structures, Chicago at the time was a conflagration waiting to happen. Rebuilding of the city began almost immediately and triggered Chicago's development into one of the largest and most economically important American cities. Some years after the fire, the good name of Irish Catholic immigrant Catherine O'Leary, whose cow supposedly kicked over the lantern that started the blaze, was cleared when Chicago Tribune reporter Michael Ahern boasted about having fabricated the colorful tale, which exploited the anti-immigrant feelings prevalent at the time.


September 9, 2007

A history of travel in America, being an outline of the development in modes of travel from archaic vehicles of colonial times to the completion of the first transcontinental railroad... (1915)
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While contemporary reviewers of Seymour Dunbar's four volume history of transportation in early America criticized his anecdotal narrative and limited understanding of the relationship of transportation to the United States' economic development, all credit him nonetheless for bringing together 400 early drawings, illustrations, and engravings on the subject. From the canoes of the early native Americans through stage-coaches and steamboats to the completion of the transcontinental railroad, the pictorial offerings in Dunbar's work contain many not found elsewhere.


September 3, 2007

Abraham Africanus I : his secret life, revealed under the mesmeric influence ; mysteries of the White House. New York : J.F. Feeks [1864]
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While the majority of Illinoisans supported the war against the secession of the southern states and opposed the enslavement of African-Americans, those sentiments were far from universal in the state, particularly in south central and southern Illinois whose residents were more likely to have migrated from the south. The Copperheads were a loosely organized group of Midwestern Democrats who vehemently opposed the war and the administration of President Abraham Lincoln. The reasons for Copperhead opposition were numerous but focused primarily on the negative economic impact of the Civil War particularly in agriculture and banking; Lincoln's declaration of martial law and suspension of habeas corpus in 1863; and, for some, the Emancipation Proclamation. Abraham Africanus I is a rare Copperhead political pamphlet from 1864 that satirically depicts Abraham Lincoln making a pact with the Devil to become the monarchical ruler of the United States. To read more about the Copperheads, see Illinois Copperheads and the American Civil War.


August 26, 2007

The Latter-Day Saints' emigrants' guide : being a table of distances, showing all the springs, creeks, rivers, hills, mountains ... from Council Bluffs to the valley of the Great Salt Lake .
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"Look out for toads with horns and tails." So read one of the many cautionary notes that William Clayton (1814-1879) recorded in this guide for Mormon pioneers who were embarking on the long and often treacherous journey westward to Salt Lake City, Utah. Clayton designed a "roadometer," an early odometer, to track the mileage from point to point. "About noon today Brother Appleton Harmon completed the machinery on the wagon called a "roadometer" by adding a wheel to revolve once in ten miles, showing each mile and also each quarter mile we travel, and then casing the whole over so as to secure it from the weather. We are now prepared to tell accurately, the distance we travel from day to day which will supercede the idea of guessing, and be a satisfaction not only to this camp, but to all who hereafter travel this way." (From William Clayton's journal; a daily record of the journey of the original company of "Mormon" pioneers from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the valley of the Great Salt Lake, 1921).


August 17, 2007

Illinois College of Photography : Effingham, Illinois 1905-1906 (1905?])
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This week's featured book--Illinois College of Photography : Effingham, Illinois 1905-1906--was discovered in the UIUC Library's collection on the Internet Archive by a man from Effingham, who writes "I am currently renovating a Queen Anne home, built in 1892, that is the only surviving building of the Illinois College of Photography. The College is of major significance as it was the first international college of photography in the world. It also continued where others failed, spanning from the early 1890's until 1932. The college was attended by students from every state in the US, every province in Canada, and 52 foreign countries. I have been actively collecting and documenting the history of this home, which has aided in the renovation. I had found other books from the college, but yours was of major significance, because it was the oldest I had come across. It offered excellent insight about the home and college. I am extremely grateful to you for making this book available online, allowing me to learn more of my home's rich history."


August 11, 2007

Cranky Ann, the street-walker : a story of Chicago in chunks (1878) and Wicked Nell : a gay girl of the town (1878), by Shang Andrews
View the Flip Book of Cranky Ann. View the Flip Book of Wicked Nell.

The city of Chicago, whose authorities were unprepared to cope with the crime and vice that attended its rapid growth from a small trading post to a large metropolis in barely sixty years, came to be known world-wide as "the wicked city" by the mid-1800s. These two lurid novelistic exposés of corruption and vice in 1870s Chicago--Cranky Ann, the Street-walker: a Story of Chicago in Chunks and Wicked Nell: a Gay Girl of the Town by Chicago journalist Shang Andrews come from the Lawrence J. Gutter Collection of Chicagoana, housed in the Richard J. Daley Special Collections department at the library of the University of Illinois at Chicago. These and many other rare volumes of Chicago history were recently digitized at UIUC's scanning center in the Oak Street Library Facility. View more Chicagoana from the Gutter Collection.


See also The Wicked City by Grant Eugene Stevens digitized by the University of California Libraries and available from the Internet Archive.

July 30, 2007

The Steel Tubular Car Company, by J. W. Post (1887)

Early written railroad history is rife with graphic accounts of train wrecks and the excruciating detail of their resulting human carnage. In this 1887 stock prospectus for the Steel Tubular Car Company, J.W. Post uses similar accounting to convince prospective investors that “the sickening loss of human life, the maiming and roasting of helpless victims” would not have occurred had his indestructible steel tubular cars been on the tracks instead. The steel tubes (seen in the cross section of the parlor car pictured below) prevented the telescoping of cars during a crash, and by throwing the emergency breaks “passengers themselves can prevent the car from plunging over an embankment.” Other safety features included a separate heater car and a “fortress” car for transporting valuable materials that could resist “shots from either rifles or revolvers in the hands of train robbers or other desperadoes.” According to WorldCat, UIUC Library is the only recorded holder of this 1887 publication, now brought to any web browser near you! View the Flip Book.


July 29, 2007

The Urbana Courier

Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection

UIUC's History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library launched the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection on July 28, 2007. This free web-based service provides fully searchable digital facsimiles of historic Illinois newspapers. Current holdings include the Urbana Daily Courier for the years 1916-1925 and the UIUC student newspaper, the Daily Illini, for the years 1916-1935. The Urbana Daily Courier from 1926-1935 is already in the works, and the Library hopes to start on 1902-1915 next year. The digital Urbana Courier offers extensive documentation of the impact of a number of pivotal events in world history as well as key developments in local and regional history on the lives of ordinary residents of East Central Illinois. At the international level, the years 1916-1925 saw the entry of the U.S. into World War I, the Russian Revolutions of 1917, and the flu pandemic. Nationally this decade encompasses the Scopes trial, the East St. Louis riots of 1917, the founding of the Ku Klux Klan, prohibition, the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting female suffrage, and the postwar recovery and rapid rise of science, technology and industry. The headline below announces the signing on November 11, 1918, of the armistice with Germany that ended World War I; the accompanying article "Twin Cities Wild With Joy" begins as follows: "The people of the twin cities were awakened at 2 o'clock this morning by the ringing of bells, screeching of whistles, and the firing of guns...Nearly every house in Urbana was lighted up within 15 minutes and they knew what the noise meant."


July 22, 2007

La mulata : drama original en tres actos y un prólogo (1891) by Eva Canel
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Spanish born novelist, dramatist, and journalist Eva Canel (1857-1932), lived much of her life in Cuba, a country she loved fervently despite her opposition to Cuba's revolution to win its independence from Spain. An intensely political writer, Canel's La Mulata was the first of three plays she would write in her lifetime.

UIUC Library's copy of La Mulata was purchased during the 1960s as one piece of a larger collection of approximately 16,000 items relating to Spanish drama. Bound together in 669 volumes, and represented for over 30 years with a single brief bibliographic record in the Library's catalog, the collection was serendipitously "rediscovered" in the bowels of the Main Stacks by a library staff member last year. The Spanish Play Project seeks to catalog and digitize the collection, the contents of which fall into two general categories: 1) late eighteenth through mid-twentieth century primary source material; and 2) twentieth century secondary material, with the former far exceeding the latter. The primary sources include prompter’s copies; author-signed copies; author and composer signed copies (for some that were musical); late eighteenth and nineteenth-century comedias sueltas (Spanish equivalent of a chapbook); bilingual editions (usually Italian and Spanish); Catalan text and some were issued as serials. The marginalia, modifications for performance, signatures and stamps (such as from Spanish theatrical archives) that appear on many of the plays make them rare. Through internal library funding the Project has made great strides in assessing the collection and figuring out how best to treat it. The Library is in the process of writing a major grant to catalog all of the plays, a first step in getting them digitized.


July 15, 2007

Spécies général et iconographie des coquilles vivantes comprenant la collection du Muséum d'histoire naturelle de Paris : la collection Lamarck, celle du prince Masséna (appartenant maintenant a M.B. Delessert) et les découvertes récentes des voyageurs
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Snails and limpets and slugs, oh my! UIUC Library's latest contribution to the Biodiversity Heritage Library is this twelve volume illustrated set by Louis-Charles Kiener, a French zoologist who lived in Paris from 1799-1881. One of the most important and frequently referenced nineteenth century contributions to malacology--the scientific study of mollusks--Kiener's multi-volume work contains scientific descriptions and beautiful full color illustrations.


July 8, 2007

The Dance of Death by Hans Holbein (1892)
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The "dance of death" or "danse macabre" was a "medieval allegorical concept of the all-conquering and equalizing power of death, expressed in the drama, poetry, music, and visual arts of western Europe, mainly in the late Middle Ages. It is a literary or pictorial representation of a procession or dance of both living and dead figures, the living arranged in order of their rank, from pope and emperor to child, clerk, and hermit, and the dead leading them to the grave." (Encyclopedia Britannica). This week's digitized book contains reproductions of one of the most famous expressions of this dance--forty-two wood cuts by Hans Holbien (1497-1543). In the two images below, death (represented by a skeleton) visits both the rich man and the peddlar alike. Over 100 editions of Holbein's Dance of Death have been published since the original French edition appeared in 1538. This book is one of several hundred works in translation that the Library is digitizing to support the program of study at the Center for Translation Studies being established at UIUC.


July 1, 2007

Hands up! in the world of crime : or 12 years a detective (1906)
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Clifton Woodridge (1854-1933), a Chicago detective in the early 1900s, wrote this popular account of the many arrests he made during his time on the Chicago police force. According to the PBS series History Detectives Wooldridge "was described at the time as 'the incorruptible Sherlock Holmes of America,' and he was on a mission to save Chicago from itself. He considered Chicago the 'wickedest city in the world.' It certainly had the right ingredients. Chicago was seen as the land of opportunity, or at least the gateway to it. People passed through on their way to homesteading further west, the railroad brought folks to the city, in the hopes they would find one of the many possible jobs in this burgeoning city. It became a hotbed for vice and corruption. As a police officer on the beat, Wooldridge saw what was happening. He battled everything: quack doctors, prostitution, gambling, investment swindles, insurance scams, fake banks, clairvoyants and marriage agencies. He associated with the down and out and the richest of the rich. Apparently he would stop at little to learn the ways of the criminal. Wooldridge was adept at disguising himself, and would dress for the part, whether it meant posing as a rube in from the country or even donning black face." (Check out some of Woodridge's disguises.


June 24, 2007

The "Illinois way" of beautifying the farm (1914)

A treasure not to be missed! Circular 170 of the Agricultural Experiment Station, published by the Horticulture Department at UIUC in 1914. Copies were distributed "free to anyone in Illinois who will sign a promise to do some permanent ornamental planting within a year." Learn all about the "gaudy way" vs. the "Illinois way;" why the Illinois farmer's wife was discouraged from having a separate flower garden; and why growing gladiolas builds character in Illinois farm children! The text is as charming as the photos!


June 17, 2007

Women's international league for peace and freedom (1st congress : 1915 : The Hague)
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Jane Addams (1860-1935), co-founder with Ellen Gates Starr, of Hull House, a social settlement serving the immigrants on Chicago's north side, became involved in the peace movement during the First World War. Motivated by a strong conviction that women's suffrage was inextricably linked to the cause of international peace, she travelled to the Hague in 1915 where she served as the president of the first congress of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. While many were critical of her pacifism, she continued to call on women to use their influence to oppose militarism throughout the world. The quotation below comes from her book Peace and Bread in Times of War (MacMillan, 1922), which UIUC Library has also just digitized. Jane Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.


June 11, 2007

So this then is the preachment entitled Chicago tongue (c1913)
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Born in Bloomington, Illinois, in 1856, Elbert Hubbard was a major figure in the American Arts and Crafts movement. In 1895 he founded Roycroft, a reformist community of craft workers and artists in East Aurora, New York. "Participants were known as Roycrofters. The work and philosophy of the group, often referred to as the Roycroft movement, had a strong influence on the development of American architecture and design in the early 20th century." (Wikipedia) The Roycroft creed was a quotation from John Ruskin: "A belief in working with the head, hand and heart and mixing enough play with the work so that every task is pleasurable and makes for health and happiness." An admirer of William Morris, founder of the Kelmscott Press in England, Hubbard started his own fine press, the Roycroft Press, which published numerous small books and pamphlets, such as today's book So This Then is the Preachment Entitled Chicago Tongue. The "Chicago tongue" of the title refers to a habit of speaking unkindly about others. Elbert Hubbard and his second wife Alice Hubbard were on the Lusitania when it was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine in 1915. The Hubbard's did not survive, but the Roycroft legacy did, as did many wonderful quotations from the man known as Fra Elbertus. Among them, "To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing" and "Never explain--your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway."


May 27, 2007

Practical corn culture, written especially for the corn belt farmers ([c1914])
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May 20, 2007

The prisoners' hidden life, or, Insane asylums unveiled : as demonstrated by the report of the Investigating committee of the legislature of Illinois, together with Mrs. Packard's coadjutors' testimony (1868)
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One hundred and forty-seven years ago today, on June 18, 1860, Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard was committed to the Jacksonville (Illinois) Insane Asylum by her husband Theophilus Packard, a strict Calvinist minister, because she had begun to express liberal religious beliefs that differed from his own. The Packards, who lived in Manteno, Illinois, in Kankakee County, had been married for 21 years and had six children. In 1860, Illinois state law permitted a husband to commit his wife to insane asylum without any court hearing or psychiatric examination. Mrs. Packard spent three years in the Jacksonville hospital. After her release, she separated from her husband and began to campaign for the rights of women and the mentally ill. She founded the Anti-Insane Asylum Society, published numerous books, including this one, and was instrumental in the 1867 passage of an Illinois law "Bill for the Protection of Personal Liberty," which guaranteed the right to a public hearing to anyone, including wives, who were accused of insanity.


See also related work Marital power exemplified in Mrs. Packard's trial, and self-defence from the charge of insanity, or, Three years' imprisonment for religious belief, by the arbitrary will of a husband : with an appeal to the government to so change the laws as to afford legal protection to married women (1870) from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

May 13, 2007

Historical encyclopedia of Illinois and Champaign County (1905)
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We have digitized over 60 early Illinois county histories so far at the Open Content Alliance scanning center at Oak Street. Newton Bateman's Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and Champaign County is one of a series he wrote where the first volume is a general encyclopedia of Illinois and the second volume is devoted to the history of a specific Illinois county. Bateman, a historian, was the superintendent of public instruction for the state of Illinois from 1859-1862 and president of Knox College, Galesburg, from 1875-1893. His description below of summers and winters in Champaign County capture "the mud, snow, and dreariness of winter, and the balmy loveliness of summer" so familiar to us all. A great source of photos and biographies of all the early Champaign and Urbana personages after whom so many local landmarks and streets are named (see below).


May 6, 2007

Conference Proceedings from the UIUC Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS)

We have now digitized and made available all volumes in two major series published by UIUC's Graduate School of Library and Information Science--The Proceedings of the Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing and The Allerton Park Institute Proceedings. Sarah Shreeves, IDEALS Coordinator, and Tim Donohue, IDEALS research programmer, are now working to pull these digitized texts into IDEALS (Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship), UIUC's institutional repository that disseminates, preserves, and provides persistent and reliable access to the research and scholarship of faculty, staff, and students on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. Below you'll find links to the IDEALS copies, which provides article level information and access. If you haven't been to the IDEALS website yet, check it out!

Literary texts in an electronic age : scholarly implications and library services (1994)
View this book in IDEALS.

Managers and missionaries : library services to children and young adults in the information age (c1989)
View this book in IDEALS.


April 29, 2007

Glimpses of the World's fair. A selection of gems of the White City seen through a camera (c1893)
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The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago was one of many world fairs being held around the turn of the century that showcased technological and industrial advancements. The ferris wheel was among the amazing new inventions introduced to the world during the fair (so was shredded wheat cereal!). The ferris wheel, invented by George Ferris, was Chicago's response to the Eiffel Tower built for the International Exhibition of Paris in 1889. The site chosen for the fair was Jackson Park on Chicago’s south side; the fairgrounds came to be known as “the white city” because of the beautiful white marble used in the construction of the buildings, of which only the Fine Arts Building--now the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry--still stands. The photos in Glimpses of the World's Fair were taken with the newly introduced Kodak No. 4 box camera. We’ll be digitizing numerous books about the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Look for this collection soon on the Illinois Harvest web portal.

Read more about the fair here.
And check out The Reason Why the Colored American Is Not in the World's Columbian Exposition by Ida B. Wells at the University of Pennsylvania's digital library website.


Photograph of No. 4 Kodak Box Camera from

April 21, 2007

Prairie Farmer's directory of Champaign County : complete directory of the farmers of Champaign County, with valuable information about each farm; breeder's directory, giving full classified list of breeders of purebred livestock and poultry; business dir
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What can you do with $195 and an old Ford?

The Prairie Farmer was a leading agricultural magazine and a champion of farmers’ rights founded by the Union Agricultural Society of Chicago. It supported the grange movement, and in 1873 created a department devoted to the grange. Besides articles on agriculture, horticulture, and stock raising, it provided general and market news, a children’s column, and departments dealing with health, household problems, and veterinary medicine. It also published a series called Prairie Farmer's Reliable Directory of Farmers and Breeders including this one for Champaign County from 1917. We'll be digitizing many of these directories for counties all over Illinois from the collection of the Illinois Historical Survey and Lincoln Room. These are great genealogy resources as they provide a complete listing of all members of a farmer's family and the exact location of their farm.


April 16, 2007

"Commy": the life story of Charles A. Comiskey, the "Grand old Roman" of baseball and for nineteen years president and owner of the American league baseball team "The White Sox," ([c1919])
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Though rebuilt and renamed U.S. Cellular Field in 2003, to Chicago White Sox fans everywhere it will always be Comiskey Field. Here's the biography of the man who built it--Charles "Commy" Comiskey--former St. Louis Browns manager and first-baseman, and for nineteen years the owner of the Chicago White Socks. Filled with 18 great black and white photos, such as the one below taken on opening day of Comiskey Park in 1910. Don't miss this one, sports fans!


April 9, 2007

Peoria book of verse : published for The Peoria allied English interests (c1922)
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Over the years, some books have entered the UIUC Library’s holdings from personal collections donated to the Library or purchased by it. Sometimes those books contain personal memorabilia—autographs, letters from the author, old book reviews, and the like. In the case of The Peoria Book of Verse, a previous owner glued to one of the end sheets a woman’s photograph and a short verse dedicated to “Deirdre.” Perhaps the serious fellow whose own photograph is glued into the inside front cover? And do check out the inside back cover as well at the above URL!


April 2, 2007

The Fresh Water Fishes
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Through a special agreement with the Chicago Field Museum, we will be digitizing all the issues of the Museum's "Fieldiana" series in the areas of Zoology, Botany, Geology, and Anthropology. The Fresh-water Fishes of Mexico North of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (Zoological Series, v. 5, 1904) was one of the first volumes to be completed. UIUC's Biology and Natural History Libraries own most of the issues in these two series, and those we don't have will be loaned to us by the Field Museum's library. As a result of our contributing this content to the Internet Archive, our library has been named a contributing member of the Biodiversity Heritage Library (, a group of ten major natural history museum libraries, botanical libraries, and research institutions that is developing a strategy and operational plan to digitize the published literature of biodiversity held in their respective collections. This literature will be available through a global "biodiversity commons."


March 26, 2007

History of the Eighth Illinois United States Volunteers (1899)
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This hidden gem found deep in the bowels of the Bookstacks, documents the history of the all African-American Eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry; while there were other infantries of African-American soldiers in the late 1800s, the Eighth Illinois was the first to be led entirely by African American officers. The Eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry was called by President McKinley to fight in Cuba during the Spanish American War. This volume is filled with photographs, biographical information, the names of all the men in the unit, and an historical account of their service.


March 21, 2007

The Commons : a monthly record devoted to aspects of life and labor from the social settlement point of view (Volume 1, 1896-1897) (1897-[1905])
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We have digitized seven of the 10 volumes of this important early publication of the American settlement house movement. The Chicago Commons was one of two important settlement houses started in Chicago in the late 1900s--Jane Addams Hull House being the other. The Chicago Commons still exists today (


About This Blog

Featuring news and highlights of the large scale digitization initiatives at the Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a member of the Open Content Alliance, the University Library is digitizing and contributing to the Internet Archive books and serials from its collections that focus on Illinois history, literature, and natural resources; rural life and agriculture; railroad history and engineering; and works in translation. The University Library is a member of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), which has recently joined the Google Library Project. Visit the Illinois Harvest web portal to find more digital content from the University Library. Contact Us!

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