Making Quills Part 1: Curing

by Katie Hartman Quills are part of the basic materials needed to create a medieval manuscript. Their use and creation were a basic part of the scribe’s daily work and the quill is usually regarded to be the symbol of the scribal trade.  Typically, medieval quills were taken from geese or swans. The best feathers for […]

Adventures in Cataloging: Arabic Manuscripts at RBML

In the cold rooms of the stacks, I walk through the smell of centuries-old books  As I scan the shelves, I notice a stack of books untouched, with white tags protruding from the covers. Some are wrapped with cloth strings and cardboard; others barely attached to their spines. The white tags all with the same […]

“A League of Their Own” Typescript

With the World Series in full swing it’s a good time to take a look at one of the many interesting baseball holdings in the collection: the first draft of the typescript for the 1992 movie A League of Their Own directed by Penny Marshal. This typescript, pictured below, was written in 1989 by Lowell […]

No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

In mid-November, No Blue Memories premiered at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago. The paper puppet show, performed by Manual Cinema, focused on the life of Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in 1950. The show was written by Dr. Eve. L. Ewing and Nate Marshall, featured live music by Ayanna and Jamila […]

The Double Life of the Letter “U”

The letter “u” is a workhorse of the alphabet. It occurs so frequently that it will earn you only one point in Scrabble. Even so, it flies under the radar, escaping our notice. Now, texting threatens to elevate it to a pronoun. Have we underestimated this unassuming letter? The time has come for a closer […]

Shakespeare’s Scribe and Skull & Cross Bones?

While we were improving the minimal cataloging of our medieval and early modern manuscript holdings, we came across a hand-written copy of one of the earliest specialized English Dictionaries, Henry Manwayring’s Seaman’s Dictionary.  Since our library boasts an amazing collection of early English dictionaries, we were not overly surprised.  It is always pleasant to see […]

Victorian Scrapbooks Rediscovered

Here at The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, seemingly simple reference questions often turn into much deeper discoveries.That was the case when a patron enquired about our material concerning one Martin F. Tupper. If you aren’t familiar with Martin F. Tupper (1810-1889), then you probably didn’t live in the mid-19th century; if you did, you likely […]

A Birthday Card for Albert Camus

Albert Camus, the French novelist, playwright, journalist, philosopher and Nobel Prize winner was born on this day, November 7, one hundred years ago. This is a good occasion to highlight a small manuscript fragment from Camus’s 1951 essay L’Homme révolté (Paris: Gallimard, translated in English as The Rebel) which was recently re-discovered on the shelves […]

Marcel Proust on Writing

2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Du côté de chez Swann (Swann’s Way), the first part of Marcel Proust’s lengthy literary masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time, also known as Remembrance of Things Past. The Rare Book & Manuscript Library is celebrating this milestone with an exhibition drawn from its renowned Proust […]

William Paul Schenk Papers: A New Acquisition Related to Carl Sandburg

The Rare Book Library is pleased to announce the acquisition of the William Paul Schenk Papers from his estate early in 2011. In addition to many of his own manuscripts, the William Schenk papers contain a treasure trove of articles, correspondence, and photographs concerning Carl Sandburg and his family. Schenk greatly admired the famous poet […]