Archive for the ‘Anniversaries and observances’ Category

Raising the Flag – Memorial Day Remembrance

Monday, May 26th, 2014


Flag raising ceremony in front of LSU president’s home. This image is from the University Archives, and can be viewed with other historical images on the Louisiana Digital Library here.

“To me, fair friend, you never can be old”: Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Although historians are not 100% sure of the exact date of William Shakespeare’s birth (all that is known is that he was baptized on April 26, 1564), his birthday is usually celebrated on April 23.  In honor of the bard, we’ve pulled out two Shakespearean treasures from our Rare Book Collection…

Second Folio

Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies (1632) was the second collected edition of Shakespeare’s theatrical works.  It is now known as the Second Folio, the word folio referring to the way the book’s pages were folded after printing.  The First Folio, or first edition, was printed in 1623 and has become one of the world’s most valuable and highly sought after books—without it, many of Shakespeare’s greatest plays probably would have been lost.  Although the Second Folio is less prestigious, it is arguably a better text, since it contains corrections and revisions, as well as a preliminary poem, “An Epitaph on the admirable Dramaticke Poet, W. Shakespeare,” by John Milton, his first published work.  More research is needed, but LSU’s copy of the Second Folio is thought to trace its provenance to the Earl of Newport, son of Penelope Rich, the “Stella” of Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella.


Another important Shakespeare item in Special Collections is A Collection of Prints, from Pictures Painted for the Purpose of Illustrating the Dramatic Works of Shakspeare.  Published in London in 1805, it grew out of a project initiated in 1786 by the engraver and entrepreneur John Boydell, who opened a gallery that featured paintings by contemporary artists of scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. 


The mid eighteenth century had seen a revival of interest in Shakespeare, led by the leading actor of the day, David Garrick. This in turn created a demand for literary art. John Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery became a fashionable gathering place, and reproductions of the originals served as conversation pieces in people’s homes. Many of the images demonstrate an exotic and even risqué proto-Romanticism that makes it easy to understand why they were so popular with audiences in the nineteenth century, over the course of which the prints were reissued several times.


To learn more about the library’s holdings of Shakespeare, as well as other works by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British writers, check out these handy guides…

English Literature and Philosophy, 1550-1700

Eighteenth-Century British Literature


Collection Spotlight: The Papers of Civil Rights Leader Dr. Dupuy Anderson

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

WWII-portraitWorld War II veteran, dentist, civil rights activist. Dr. Dupuy Anderson’s biography reads like that of many African American civil rights leaders of the mid-20th century. That common history, however, does not diminish his extraordinary contributions and accomplishments, and his papers, now available for research in Hill Memorial Library, provide an important resource for the study of that chapter of Baton Rouge and indeed American history.

Anderson graduated from McKinley High School, Baton Rouge’s earliest African American high school and anchor of the city’s black community for much of the 20th-century. He received a B.S. degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge, and a D.D.S. from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn. Anderson enlisted in 1941 and served with the U.S. Army Air Force, rising to the rank of major. He participated in the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott, ran for mayor of Baton Rouge in 1960 (when African Americans did not run for such offices), and filed suit to desegregate the undergraduate division of Louisiana State University. As a result, his daughter Dr. Freya Anderson Rivers was one of six African-American undergraduates to integrate LSU in 1964. Dr. Anderson passed away in 1999.

campaign-letterThe papers, which were donated by Dr. Rivers last year, date from 1935-1996 and include personal photographs, speeches and printed items from his run for mayor-president and correspondence, printed items, and other documents related to his community service, professional activities, and involvement in education and social issues and desegregation of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System and LSU. A full description of the collection is available online. Oral histories conducted with Anderson and Rivers in the 1990s under the auspices of the T. Harry William Center for Oral History are also housed in Hill Library.

Charles Dickens goes to the theater…

Friday, February 7th, 2014

In celebration of Charles Dickens’ 202nd birthday, we’re highlighting our Collection of Dickensian Programs, 1879-1936. This collection contains theater programs for Dickens-based plays from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

It has always been popular to adapt Dickens’ stories for the stage and screen. Even during the author’s lifetime, there were theatrical spin-offs of his works, some of which appeared even before Dickens had written the final chapter (most of his novels were published serially in magazines or parts before appearing in book form).

In 1882, the Spectral Opera Company gave a performance of A Christmas Carol. The actors playing the ghosts were covered with phosphorous to give them a glowing effect. Tickets to such events were often printed in a novel format, such as the court summons shown here, inviting someone to a play based on The Pickwick Papers at Albert Hall in Portsmouth.

Dickens theater ephemera

The collection also includes programs from charity performances of Dickens’ works. Dickens Bazaars were held to raise funds for schools and churches. Visitors to such events would have attended concerts, art exhibitions, and stage performances while mingling with actors dressed as Dickens characters. A reading of A Christmas Carol, with incidental music and illustrated moving tableaux, was given in 1914 at London’s Royal Court Theatre to raise money for World War I relief efforts.

Dickens theater ephemera

Dickens theater ephemera

Two programs from earlier Dickens birthday celebrations are shown below. The 1891 celebration featured “song, scene, and story from Dickens.” The Savoy Theatre’s 1912 centenary celebration of the author’s birth was organized by three of his children. It was “inaugurated to give an opportunity to our cousins from beyond the Seas, by whom Charles Dickens is so greatly revered and honoured, of witnessing upon the stage of the Capital City of the Empire, the loved and never-to-be-forgotten characters created by the immortal novelist.”

Dickens ephemera

“How good—to be alive!” Happy Birthday Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Even for a Victorian poet, Emily Dickinson was unusually obsessed with death. But today, we celebrate her birth, which took place 183 years ago, on December 10, 1830, in Amherst, Massachusetts. Of her nearly 1,800 poems, only a handful were published during her lifetime. Although she circulated some among her friends, it was not until after her death that her sister Lavinia discovered forty packets of poems and arranged to have them published.

The first edition of Dickinson’s works, which appeared in 1890, contained 115 poems and was heavily edited to conform to contemporary tastes. A scholarly edition, based on Dickinson’s original manuscripts, would not appear until 1955, and only in 1981 was a full facsimile edition of the manuscripts published. Fine printers and book artists have been as much drawn to Dickinson’s poetry as have scholars. The LSU Libraries Special Collections has several examples of their works, a selection of which is featured here.


Emily: Opposites Attract, published by Horse Whisper Press in 2004, contains wood engravings by Barry Moser, Andy English, Simon Brett, Richard Wagener, and Peter Lazarov.


Sampler: Poetry by Emily Dickinson (Arion Press, 2007), features images and a decorative cover by Kiki Smith in the style of a nineteenth-century sewn sampler.


The needlepoint motif is also employed, in a darker fashion, in Compound Frame: Seven Poems by Emily Dickinson (Janus Press, 1998). Inside are several relief prints incorporating sewing pins.


Jen Bervin’s The Dickinson Composites (Granary Books, 2010) is an interpretation of the mysterious punctuation markings in Dickinson’s manuscripts, which have been left out of many editions of her works and are the subject of much editorial debate. “The first time I saw the manuscript punctuation markings,” Bervin writes, “I thought they looked like electron clouds in and around the poems.” Bervin was so struck by the marks that she reproduced them on a large quilt “to visually reassert the vital presence of the omitted marks, to raise questions about them.”


Special Collections also recently acquired a copy of The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems (New Directions, 2013). The work reproduces, in full color, 52 envelopes on which Dickinson wrote poetry.


Though not an edition of Dickinson’s works, Billy Collins’s Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes (2002) is about one modern reader’s intimate relationship with the poet. The limited edition of thirty copies, by book artist Charles Hobson, “uses buttons, ribbons, feathers, and a pastel monotype… which evokes, for the artist, a sense of clothing as plumage.”

Feel free to view any of these materials in the Hill Memorial Library Reading Room. And if you are in Baton Rouge tonight, don’t miss the Emily Dickinson Birthday Celebration at the LSU Museum of Art, beginning at six o’clock. Louisiana poet laureate Ava Haymon will connect her own poetry with the work of Dickinson and contemporary artist Lesley Dill, whose works are currently on exhibit. Champagne and cupcakes will be served. For more info, click here.


Shake It Up and Read All About It!

Thursday, October 10th, 2013




Join us at Hill Memorial Library for a fascinating night of football and earthquake talk with two speakers! Sam King, longtime Baton Rouge sportswriter, and LSU Associate Professor of Geology and Geophysics Juan Lorenzo will come together to talk about LSU Football, seismology, and the legendary “Earthquake Game” of October, 1988.

Shake It Up and Read All About It! LSU Football and the “Earthquake” at Tiger Stadium will touch upon  the memorable 1988 “Earthquake Game”,  LSU Sports coverage in general through the eyes of legendary Baton Rouge sportswriter, Sam King, and a glimpse at seismology and athletic events with Dr. Lorenzo and his Seismeauxbile.

This event will take place on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 in LSU Libraries Special Collections in Hill Memorial Library.  The event is free and open to the public.

Held in conjunction with our exhibit, “Saturday Night in Tiger Stadium”, the exhibit, including our first ever touchscreen display, will be available to view. See the real seismogram from the 1988 Earthquake game. Copies of Sam King’s new book, Tiger Beat: Covering LSU Sports for 35 Years (Acadian House, 2013) will be available for purchase and signing. A reception and signing will follow the talks.  This event will surely have something for everyone! Also in attendance, the famed SEISMEAUXBILE, which will be parked in front of Hill Memorial Library just for this event!


Join Us for a Special Collections Open House!

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Open House graphic


On Tuesday October 1, 2013 from 2:30-5:30 pm, LSU Libraries Special Collections will host an Open House event.  This is an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and the general public to stop by and visit the Hill Memorial Library, meet the faculty, staff and students who work here, and learn more about what we do and what our library holds.

The event will feature demonstrations of some of the work we do, including minor conservation work such as making enclosures; processing and cataloging; digitizing and microfilming; as well as information and the demonstration of projects and areas that fall under Special Collections, including the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History; the Civil War Book Review; and two important grant projects relating to digitizing newspapers, and the collaborative NEH grant to digitize materials relating to Louisiana’s Free People of Color.

As part of the Open House, we will also be showcasing some of our favorite things from the collections, allowing visitors to see rare and unique items, and to talk with curators and other staff about our holdings and how the materials at Hill can help further research and scholarship at every level.   The Open House is an opportunity to share some of the ‘special collections superlatives’ such as our oldest, smallest, largest, and most intriguing items.  This is just a small sampling of what is available to all at Hill, but it is a fun way to show off some select interesting rare and unique materials.

For example, did you know that the library has a photograph of Varina Davis (a daguerreotype) from the late 1840s –  just a few years after the invention of photography?

The Hill Memorial Library is home to over 5000 manuscript collections, including political papers of such notable Louisianans as Huey and Russell Long and John Breaux.  It also is home to rare documents that help illustrate the very beginnings of Louisiana statehood, such as the Claiborne Letter Book, as well as materials that document the Civil Rights struggle in Louisiana.  The library is also a place to learn about books, from “incunabula” (books printed before the year 1501 – in the era of Gutenberg and the invention of moveable type), to comic books, modern artists’ books, and works of science fiction and fantasy.  There are many, many surprises, including one of largest and most comprehensive collections on the game of poker held anywhere.

“Special Collections is open to all — all of the time.  This library is here for everyone, and we welcome everyone to come and take advantage of the infinite resources available in Hill. We thought that this Open House would be a good way to share some interesting things about the collections and the work that we do in a new way,”  said the newly appointed Head of Special Collections, Jessica Lacher-Feldman.  “I see this as a unique opportunity to engage users and potential users in a casual way.  I feel its important to know that you don’t always need a reason or need to see something specific to visit special collections.  Come in, look around, and talk to us.  I am looking forward to meeting new people from across campus during the Open House, and hope it will spark further interest in using the collections for research, projects, and in creative and new ways.  Come in to see what’s special about Special Collections.  The answer, in a nutshell, is everything!”

In addition to the collections, projects, and processes, there will be two exhibits going on in Hill’s gallery areas.  “Centuries of Style: A RETROspective of Dress” is a two part exhibit that features the photography of LSU alum Jane McCowan on the first floor.  The second floor features images from throughout our collections that reflect sartorial choices and fashions from throughout the world, from ancient times to the 20th century.  The second exhibit, which opens on September 23 is entitled “Saturday Night in Tiger Stadium” commemorates the 25th anniversary of the 1988 football game, now widely known as the Earthquake Game.  The original seismogram will be on display in the exhibit. It can also be viewed in the LOUISiana Digital Library at

The Open House is meant for all — come by for a few minutes, or stay as long as you like.  This event is held in conjunction with the celebration of American Archives Month, a national celebration of the power and significance of archives. For more information about the Open House, contact Jessica Lacher-Feldman at or at (225) 578-6544.


Stars and Stripes

Friday, June 14th, 2013


Today is Flag Day!

This image comes from the current exhibition, The Summer of 1863: Gettysburg, Vicksburg & Port Hudson, now on display in the Lecture Hall in Hill Memorial Library.

The exhibition features a sampling of materials from the vast Civil War holdings available for research in LSU Libraries Special Collections.


Special Collections Co-Sponsors 2013 Historic Natchez Conference, April 17-20

Monday, April 8th, 2013

LSU Special Collections is proud to co-sponsor “From Civil War to Civil Rights,” the 2013 Historic Natchez Conference, April 17-20, 2013.

Natchez Under the Hill, Gandy Collection, Mss. 3778.

Natchez Under the Hill, Gandy Collection, Mss. 3778.

Headquartered at the Eola Hotel in downtown Natchez, the meeting offers a full program of free lectures on centuries of Natchez and the Lower Mississippi Valley’s history, narrowing to a particular focus on the American Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement.

The keynote speaker, William C. Davis, will speak on the Civil War at its sesquicentennial. Setting the stage for the antebellum era, scholars will discuss the archeology of the Natchez area, steamboat transportation on the Mississippi River in the early 18th century, and empire in the Colonial Natchez period. Additional presentations examine political violence and armed conflict during the Civil War and post-bellum era, occupation of Natchez by federal troops, African American sailors serving in the Mississippi Squadron, merchants and the rebuilding of Natchez after the war, and plantation life. In relation to the latter, LSU Special Collections Assistant Curator of Books Michael Taylor will present “The Library of Rosedown Plantation: A Case Study in Researching Nineteenth-Century Private Libraries.” Further program highlights explore the 1965 Natchez boycott, the Mississippi Freedom Movement, and social and religious aspects of civil rights activism in Natchez. The conference will also feature a screening of the documentary film When I Rise.

Visit for full program information and to register. Though there is no charge to attend the talks, registration is requested and you must purchase a ticket for the receptions.

The Historic Natchez Conference fosters the study, preservation, and appreciation of the Natchez region by providing a forum for established scholars, graduate students, archivists, and the general public to share research, resources, and ideas. The meeting, which has been held almost biennially since 1994, continues its tradition of highlighting the role of archival collections in researching and interpreting the history of the American South. Natchez is heavily represented in the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, which is the largest division within Special Collections. See our subject guide on Natchez for additional information about these collections.

Conference co-sponsors include California State University, Northridge; Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin; Historic Natchez Foundation; Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Natchez National Historical Park; and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Natchez Eola Hotel is offering a special conference rate of $89/night: (601 )445-6000 or For registration information and more details, contact the Historic Natchez Foundation: (601) 442-2500,,

African American Baton Rougeans featured in new exhibition

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

In recognition of Black History Month and in connection with “Blacks in the Red Stick,” a conference sponsored by the LSU African and African American Studies Program, or AAAS, to be held on Friday, March 8 in Hill Memorial Library, LSU Libraries Special Collections will host an exhibition of the same name in the lecture hall of Hill Memorial Library. The display will run from February 25 through April 13, and admission is free and open to the public during library hours of operation.

The exhibit, on loan from Director of the African and African American Studies Program Joyce Jackson, features photographs taken of blacks in the Baton Rouge vicinity, from about 1890 to 1947. Jackson selected the images from the Andrew D. Lytle Photograph Collection and the Alvin E. Rabenhorst Photograph Collection in LSU Special Collections, as well as prints from Esso and the Farm Security Administration held at the Louisiana State Library. These striking and evocative photographs capture their subjects at work and leisure.

A complementary display, “Portraits of the Past: An Archival Mystery,” features selected items from a collection of photographs recently donated to Special Collections. It includes portraits of blacks made at Plaquemine and Baton Rouge photography studios, including Lytle’s, between 1887 and 1891, as well as photographic postcards and images of a minstrel show.

Cabinet card of unidentified young girl.  Studio unknown.

Cabinet card of unidentified young girl, about 1890. Studio unknown.

The collection is a bit of a mystery because the people pictured in it are not identified, although they were probably well known in the community. Because the pictures were made by local photographers and kept in an album found in Baton Rouge many decades after it was created, it is likely that the people pictured had a long-standing connection to the city. Even without identification, the photographs are significant because of their relative scarcity. Most photographic images of blacks from the late 1800s typically feature sharecroppers and laborers in the fields. In contrast, these photographs show us well-to-do men and women dressed for the camera, enjoying the luxury of having expensive studio portraits made.

Hill Memorial Library is open Mondays and Wednesdays-Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Note that the library will be closed Friday, March 29, and Saturday, March 30. For more information, call 225-578-6544 or visit LSU Libraries’ Special Collections website at

For additional details on the “Blacks in the Red Stick” conference, contact the LSU African and African American Studies Program at 225-578-5246 or To learn more about the recent donation that is displayed, see our blog.

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