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July 2007 Archives

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.


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. http://www.news.uiuc.edu/news/07/0619translation.html


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 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 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 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.


About July 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Digitized Book of the Week in July 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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