Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Rackham Book Added to the Library

by Frank Boles

The Clarke Library recently added to the Lucile Clarke Memorial Children’s Library a first edition of Two Old Ladies, Two Foolish Fairies and a Tom Cat, illustrated by Arthur Rackham and published in London in 1897.

"Go! Be a stray cat!"
Arthur Rackham is among the most famous illustrators to work with children’s books. In 2005, the Library made a major acquisition of over 100 Rackham illustrated volumes, creating one of the major Rackham collections in the United States. There are very few books illustrated by Rackham that are not already found in some form in the collection, but Two Old Ladies was one of the books we were missing. It was published in a relatively small press run in the years before Rackham became famous. Thus today it is a hard to find title. We were thrilled to be able to add it to the collection.

Arthur Rackham was born in 1867. Although he early on showed great talent as an artist, his father, who was a practical man, insisted that the boy learn a trade. Arthur eventually became a clerk at an insurance firm, but he was frequently bored and continued to take art lessons. In 1892, he resigned his clerkship to illustrate books. His first published work appeared in 1893. For the next decade he worked regularly, but relatively anonymously, with a reputation known mainly to people “inside the trade.”

A lavishly printed edition of Rip Van Winkle, illustrated by Rackham, proved his “breakthrough” book. The 1905 publication gave Rackham a public presence. In 1906, he secured his position with the public through the illustrations he created for Peter Pan in Kensington Garden. After these two books, Rackham’s name on a volume as the illustrator was enough to sell a book. Rackham remained active as an illustrator until his death in 1939. The last book Rackham illustrated, The Wind and the Willows, was published posthumously in 1940.

The Lucile Clarke Memorial Children’s Library was founded within the Clarke Library in 1971 by Dr. Norman Clarke, Sr., in memory of his deceased wife.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Presidency Exhibit closes this Weekend

The current exhibit in the Clarke Historical Library, “The Presidency” will close on Monday, January 28th. If you have been putting off visiting to see the collection of political cartoons, presidential campaign biographies, and the wonderful collection of autographs signed by each of the 43 American presidents, which is on loan to the Library, this weekend will be your last chance.  Drop by weekdays from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm or this Saturday from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Entire Run of Central's Student Newspaper is On-line

by Bryan Whitledge

For several years now, the Clarke Historical Library has been working to digitize documents relevant to the study of Central Michigan University history. The Board of Trustee Minutes (1964-99), the entire run of Chippewa Yearbooks (1910-2003), and historical materials from the Student Government Association (2003-09) are just three examples of digital documents that are freely available to anyone in the world via the CMU Online Digital Object Repository (CONDOR) website. We are always adding to these great resources and currently, we are in the process of digitizing each and every Bulletin - undergraduate, graduate, Global Campus, and even the early Bulletins from Central Normal, as the University used to be known. As of this posting, Undergraduate Bulletins from 1986 to 2011 can be accessed via CONDOR.

Among all of these digital records is a major resource for studying Central's history - the CMU student newspaper. We are happy to announce that we have recently completed the digitization of the entire run of Central Michigan Life (and its previous incarnations - Central State Life and Central Normal Life). All of the issues from 1919 until 1999 are now available on the CM Life page of the CONDOR website. For over two years, our Preservation Microfilming unit, led by Kim Hagerty, has digitally scanned the microfilm of CM Life, cleaned up the images, used computer software that "reads" the text, attributed identifying information to the files, and finally uploaded the completed issues to CONDOR.

The result is a full searchable collection of 80 years of newspapers chronicling the major and minor events in Central's history. There are first hand accounts of the fire that burned the Old Main building and CMU's Division II National Championship in football, which led to the ascension to Division I status as well as campus reaction to national and World events, such as the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (pp. 3,4) and the Kent State shootings.

This source now enables researchers far and wide to dig into CMU history from the comfort of their own computer. Whether it is CMU news, Mt. Pleasant News, or the local reaction to global news, the Clarke Historical Library and CONDOR are the home of the historical Central Michigan University student newspapers.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Library Receives Presidential Autograph

By Frank Boles  

For the past several months the Clarke has exhibited a loaned collection of original presidential signatures, linked to a display of the library’s presidential campaign biographies.  The exhibit will come to a close this month and during its run, I have tried to obtain the signature of President Obama, to add to the collection of campaign biographies.

The problem with this is that virtually all contemporary presidential signatures are “robos,” that is letters and other documents signed by a machine.  President John Kennedy installed the first robo machine in the White House, and every president since him has continued using ever more sophisticated examples of the devices. The machines allow presidents to honor the hundreds of requests the White House receives daily for presidential signatures, sort of.

Collectors, however, have turned to finding “authenticated” autographs, that is a presidential signature that someone can attest was really made by the president himself.  For example, the autograph on loan in our exhibit is a title page from the President’s book, The Audacity of Hope, signed during a book tour.

Over the past several months, I’ve been looking for that magic “authenticated” signature for the Clarke. I’ve tried writing elected officials, back channeling through friends and friends of friends, and pretty much everything else, without luck.  Over the holidays, however, the Clarke received a Christmas present from a CMU alumni who was among the people who knew the library was looking for a presidential autograph, and who recently happened to be in a room with the President of the United States. With a lot of help from our new library BFF, President Obama’s authenticated signature, on White House stationary, arrived in the mail, housed in a simple business envelope.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to both our benefactor who took the time to help us (an undoubtedly risked annoying a man who must be really tired of someone always asking him to “just please sign something for me, maybe on that White House notecard over there”) and the many friends who put me in touch with their friends. Eventually those contacts paid off!