Collection Highlights: The Story of Mable Schamp (1912-1951)

by Jonathan Puckett The Schamp-Levin Collection contains the papers of Mable Schamp and her second husband, Meyer Levin. Mable Hall Schamp (1912-1951) grew up in poverty but earned a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1936, served as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, worked on male contraceptives, battled mental illness, and […]

Iron Gall Ink

By: Katie Hartman Besides the quill and parchment, ink was one of the most basic components of manuscript production.  Black inks were typically produced either from collecting soot (most common in Asia) or from oak galls (most common in Europe). Oak galls are growths that are formed around the larva of the gall wasp.  The […]

Tools of the trade for Opening Day 1921

By: Tony Hynes One hundred years ago on the opening day of the 1921 baseball season, April 13, manager Johnny Evers’ Chicago Cubs were set to host Branch Rickey’s St Louis Cardinals for a 4-game series. This series was followed by 150 more scheduled games, ending with pennants for neither team (the Cardinals finished third […]

Making Quills Part 3—Cutting the Quill

By: Katie Hartman Cutting the quill’s nib is often seen as the most finicky and difficult part of the quill making process.  In a way, this assumption is both true and false.  Cutting a quill nib takes practice and some getting used to, especially if you’re nervous handling a knife or razor blade.  But, once […]

Making Quills Part 2- Curing with a Dutching Tool

By: Katie Hartman Technically speaking, dutching simply refers to the process of hardening a quill by using heat.  However, since the process of using a dutching tool differs greatly from the other methods discussed in part 1, it is useful to refer to the process of using a dutching tool as dutching and the process […]

Digging the Depths of The American Songbag

by Stephen Griffith Editor’s Note: Writer and musician Stephen Griffith (http://stephengriffith.com/) is working on several projects relating to Carl Sandburg’s The American Songbag (1927). A recent visitor to the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, he is turning over everything he can find about Sandburg’s ground-breaking collection of American folk songs. However, with many of his […]

Many ways of reading a Proust letter

By Ana D. Rodriguez This week, which marks the 97th anniversary of his death (11/18/1922), we are digitizing a selection of letters from the collection of noted French author Marcel Proust (1871-1922). Besides offering a broad view of the genius of Proust and his milieu, correspondence from his collection is mostly characterized by a set […]

RBML Rocks at the Illini Fest in Chicago

Last Thursday, July 19th, the Rare Book & Manuscript Library and the University Library participated in the first ever Illini Fest in Chicago. The gathering lasted 3 hours and was a celebration of the University and its alumni. The event was a huge success: hundreds of people stopped by to participate and learn, and enjoy […]