Rare Book & Manuscript Madness: Archival Division


Carl Sandburg – Stereograph (ELIMINATED IN ROUND 1)

Shelfmark: MSS00047, Series 5, Box-Folder 463

Before becoming a well known poet and author, Carl Sandburg spent four years selling stereographs from door to door.  Stereographs use two almost identical photographs to create a three-dimensional image when viewed through a stereoscope. The Keystone View Company produced this stereograph of the Union Stock Yards as part of a multi-volume set consisting of roughly 300 images. Each stereograph also included a brief description of the image including the coordinates for the image’s location. When looking at this stereograph through a stereoscope, viewers would see cattle in the stockyards Sandburg wrote about in “Chicago.”


Gwendolyn Brooks – “Nothing Matters”

Shelfmark: MSS00086. Gwendolyn Brooks Papers. Writings – Poetry Drafts – Individual Poems. Box B, Folder 12.

Have you ever opened up social media and been confronted with a cringe-worthy memory? Maybe it’s an embarrassing picture or a status update that makes you realize just how differently you see things today. In 1997, Gwendolyn Brooks seems to have had a similar experience when she reread some of her poetry from 1936, a year during which she was evidently “magnificently acquainted” with misery. One example is “Nothing Matters” — a poem which could easily have been adopted by an emo band in the early 2000s. Brooks’ 1997 corrections clearly reflect her evolution in thought from a young adult to later in life. Her signature word, “Bunk,” appears at the top of the page in red ink, indicating her later disagreement with the poem’s sentiment. Brooks’ willingness to revisit this emotional period with frankness and humor makes “Nothing Matters” a slam dunk winner in the Archives category.

Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. – Church Box with Burned Bible (ELIMINATED IN ROUND 1)

Shelfmark: Amos Kennedy, Jr. Collection
Shelfmark: Amos Kennedy, Jr. Collection

Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. is a Detroit-based letterpress printer and book artist who often uses his work to express social and political commentary. This artist book by Kennedy, Jr. is a model made as the draft of an installation piece which honors the Black churches burned in the South in 1995. The piece consists of a wooden church covered with charred excerpts from the Bible with a technique similar to decoupage. Removing the roof of the church reveals a charred King James Bible inside. With its still perceptible scent of ashes, Kennedy, Jr.’s “Church Box with Burned Bible” evokes a truly sensory experience. As the artist book not only commemorates the church burnings but also celebrates the survival of these Black communities, it is a clear front-runner in the Archives category.


Shelfmark: F. 001.9 Un2

Acquired in 1989, this large scrapbook concerns unidentified flying objects and other mysteries. The book contains 21 pages of color photographs and 74 pages of newspaper clippings dated from the 1960s and 1970s. More mysterious than the content of this scrapbook, however, is the condition that it is in. The photographs, and especially the newspaper clippings, are in remarkably good condition for their age and acid content. Don’t sleep on this scrapbook- it tends to be the fan favorite whenever visitor’s get a chance to look at it!


Thank you to Taylor Fisk and Jensen Rehn for their contributions!

Updated on