Archive for February, 2008

Freedom of the Press Exhibit

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

LSU Libraries’ Special Collections has opened a new exhibit inspired by One Book One Community’s 2008 winter/spring selection, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. “In Truth’s Bold Cause: Louisiana and the Freedom of the Press” will be on display in the lecture hall at Hill Memorial Library from February 20 to April 25.

Visitors will learn about the early history of the freedom of the press in England and the American colonies as well as in Louisiana during the period of French and Spanish rule. Highlights of the exhibit include a copy of the Comte de Mirabeau’s Sur la Liberté de la Presse (1788), owned by Daniel Turnbull of Rosedown Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana. In addition to a first edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)—a work which was banned in the South due to its call for the abolition of slavery—a copy of Creole author Charles Testut’s Le Vieux Salomon will also be on display. Although Testut wrote his novel before the Civil War, he chose not to publish it until 1872, fearing that he would be lynched because of its anti-slavery views. Rounding out the exhibit are materials related to Huey Long’s attempts to gag the Louisiana press—including the LSU student newspaper—in the 1930s, one of which resulted in a landmark Supreme Court case.

The library is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, and Tuesday evenings until 8 p.m. For more information, contact Michael Taylor at (225) 578-6547 or

Basketball Trivia

Monday, February 11th, 2008

Last week we asked two questions about the origins of LSU’s 100 year old basketball program. If you gave the following answers, you were correct:

Q: When was LSU’s first basketball game played?

A: January 30, 1909.

Q: Which Louisiana team did they play?

A: Dixon Academy in Covington, LA.

New Acquisitions: Early Books by British Women Writers

Friday, February 1st, 2008


If you had to choose an image for the first page of a book called An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex, what would it be? A picture of a woman might seem like the obvious choice, but when this book was first published in 1696, somebody wasn’t just trying to be funny when they chose a picture of a man and his barber. Wearing a long curly wig, frilly cuffs, high-heeled shoes and even a beauty spot, the “Compleat Beau” admires himself in a mirror while his barber stands at attention, powder puff in hand.

The point the anonymous author (identified only as “a lady”) was trying to make was that men could be just as silly as women; furthermore, if women were silly it was only because they had been “industriously kept in ignorance”—i.e., denied an education—for so long. Mary Astell, an early feminist whose A Serious Proposal to the Ladies for the Advancement of their True and Greatest Interest LSU’s Special Collections division has also recently acquired, made a similar argument in 1694. In order to shield women from “the follies of the town” as well as the tyranny of men, Astell called for the establishment of a “religious retirement” or secular convent where “those who are convinced of the emptiness of earthly enjoyments… may find more substantial and satisfying entertainments.”

Some women, however, such as Jane Barker, tried to compete with men on their own turf. In 1688, Barker co-authored Poetical Recreations, a volume of poetry, with “several gentlemen of the universities.” In addition to being just as capable as men as far as book learning was concerned, women, Barker believed, had more common sense, too. Without women:

Houses, alas, there no such thing wou’d be,
[Men would] live beneath the umbrage of a Tree:
Or else usurp some free-born Native’s Cave;
And so inhabit, whilst alive, a Grave.

Another recent addition to LSU’s rare book collection is Miscellany Poems, on Several Occasions, by Ann Finch, the Countess of Winchilsea. Published in 1713, it is, along with Barker’s Poetical Recreations, one of the earliest volumes of English poetry to have been published by a woman.

Last but not least among this month’s featured acquisitions is Eliza Haywood’s Memoirs of a Certain Island Adjacent to the Kingdom of Utopia (1725), a strange tale of lust, greed, scandal and corruption that offers a thinly-veiled commentary on the period in which it was written. Along with Daniel Defoe, Haywood was one of the most prolific authors of her time, publishing everything from plays and novels to poetry and translations, one of which—La Belle Assemblée, or, The Adventures of Six Days, by Madame de Gomez (1725)—is also now available to readers in Special Collections.

– Michael Taylor

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