Spotlight on Wonderland: The Mouse

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Have you ever listened to someone talk endlessly on a boring topic, only to have them storm off when they caught you daydreaming? Then you have an idea of what was in store for Alice when she encountered the Mouse in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The Mouse is the first character Alice speaks to in Wonderland. After crying a pool of tears (thanks to her enourmous height) , she suddenly finds herself shrunk down, wishing she hadn’t cried so much. To her amusement, she finds the Mouse splashing about nearby and desperately tries to get its attention. She reasons it must be a French mouse, finally callling out “Ou est ma chatte?” [Where is my Cat?], the only French phrase she remembers. Startled and offended, the agitated Mouse informs Alice of its family’s hatred of cats, ultimately swimming away in disgust.



Once on land, the Mouse tries to dry off all the creatures who fell into Alice’s tears with a dry lecture on William the Conqueror. The mouse is repeatedly annoyed by interruptions from the crowd, but resolved to continue his lecture. That is, until the Dodo suggests a more energetic method of drying off- a caucus race, much to the relief of the bored audience.

“Ahem!” said the Mouse with an important air, “are you all ready? This is the driest thing I know. Silence all round, if you please! “William the Conqueror, whose cause was favoured by the pope, was soon submitted to by the English, who wanted leaders, and had been of late much accustomed to usurpation and conquest. Edwin and Morcar, the earls of Mercia and Northumbria–“”

“Ugh!” said the Lory, with a shiver.

Perhaps you should think of Carroll’s clever (and long-winded) Mouse the next time you are sitting in a lecture hall on a rainy day!

Did you know?

  • Carroll was a master of wordplay. When the Mouse tells his long tale to Alice about why it hates cats, the text on the page is written in the shape of a mouse’s tail. This is an example of concrete poetry.
  • Alice repeatedly upsets the Mouse and other caucus race creatures when she talks about her cat Dinah, who is “such a capital one for catching mice.” Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired Carroll’s tale, was also fond of her family’s two cats – one of which was named Dinah.

Visit the Maryland Room gallery in Hornbake Library from October 2105-July 2016 to explore the Mouse and the rest of the Wonderland cast of characters in the exhibit Alice 150 Years and County…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll: Selections from the Collection of August and Clare Imholtz.

Radio Preservation Task Force Conference Coming to Hornbake Library

On February 26 and 27, the Library of Congress’s Radio Preservation Task Force will host its first conference on the subjects of historical media archives, and the organization of educational and preservation initiatives on a national scale . Friday’s activities will take place downtown at the Library of Congress, and Saturday’s will be held at Hornbake Library North.

1-24-2016 3-55-48 PM

Speakers will include numerous UMD librarians, faculty from various campus divisions, and several iSchool alum, as well as prominent archivists and scholars from throughout the United States. Highlights include panels and workshops on how archives can deal with audio materials, discussions about using digital tools to save our radio heritage, panels on how radio materials document race and gender throughout American history, and a workshop featuring three NEH representatives on how to find funding for archival projects.

Registration is free and open to the public, and can be completed by sending an e-mail to Kevin Palermo at

More information is available at the conference website.


New Alice 150 Items on Display!

A new year means new items in the Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll exhibit!

We’ve been hard at work turning pages in the variety of Alice in Wonderland books on display, so visitors can explore new characters and scenes from Lewis Carroll’s classic tale.

We’ve also changed out some of the items in our exhibit cases. New items include illustrated books, parodies, and ephemera. Among our new favorites are a reimagining of Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” poem, in which the Jabberwock is a towering king of an urban basketball court, and “Alice in Watergateland”, a comic that follows Alice as she chases the White Rabbit (Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox) into the maddening world of the Watergate scandal.

Visit the Maryland Room gallery in Hornbake Library and discover the new additions to the exhibit. Is your favorite item no longer on display? Explore the online exhibit to view all the exhibit items in Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll!


Alice 150 Featured Object of the Month: February

Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll: Selections from the Collection of August and Clare Imholtz, is an exhibit highlighting the timelessness of Alice in Wonderland and the life and work of Lewis Carroll (1832-1898). Each month, a new item from the exhibit will be showcased.

In February, visit the Maryland Room Exhibit Gallery in Hornbake Library to view Alice-inspired humorous presidential pamphlets featuring Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt.

Through the Outlooking Glass with Theodore Roosevelt is a political commentary on Theodore Roosevelt’s attempt at a third term as a Progressive party candidate. Written in the form of a parody of Through the Looking Glass, the story consists of a dialogue between Alice and the hostile Red Knight (Roosevelt).

Frankie in Wonderland, written anonymously by investment banker, lampoons President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal in eight short chapters based on both Alice books

View all the featured items of the month from Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll here.

Spotlight on Wonderland: The Cheshire Cat

Cheshire Cat
Here kitty, kitty, kitty…wait, where’d he go?? In typical feline fashion, the Cheshire Cat is a cunning and intelligent provocateur who disappears at the blink of an eye, and by all accounts, is completely mad.

As evidence, just see how it toys with the Queen of Hearts when she calls for its head at the croquet game. After upsetting the King with its nonchalant attitude,  it slowly vanishes, leaving the dimwitted royalty and executioner to ponder whether a body without a head can be beheaded at all.

As far as Alice’s Wonderland acquaintances go, the Cheshire Cat is the one characters she enjoys spending time with, introducing to it to the King as as her “friend.” Alice makes no secret of her fondness for cats (much to the dismay of the Mouse), and she looks to the Cheshire Cat for much needed advice and conversation.


First seen curled up and “grinning from ear to ear” in the Duchess’ kitchen, Alice learns the Cheshire Cat is the pet of  the tempestuous Duchess. Yet, it displays none of her ill manners or outbursts. Rather, this mysterious creature seems to greet all events and persons with equal nonchalance and bemusement.


The Cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked good- natured, she thought: still it had VERY long claws and a great many teeth, so she felt that it ought to be treated with respect.

“Cheshire Puss,” she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider.

Philosophical and vague, the Cheshire Cat fits right in with curious cast of Wonderland characters. When first meeting Alice, it tries to explain to her that everyone in Wonderland is inherently mad, even Alice herself. Is the  Cheshire cat talking nonsense? Or is it trying to provide meaning to an irrational world? Quite the profound metaphysical musings for an grinning cat.

What do you think of the Cheshire Cat? Is it a philosopher, friendly guide, patronizing provocateur, or just another mad Wonderland resident?

Did you Know:

The phrase “grinning like a Cheshire cat” pre-dates Lewis Carroll’s tale. There are many suggested origins. One popular story notes that the cats in Cheshire, England, an area dominated by dairy farming, would grin from the abundance of cream.

The “Cheshire Cat effect” is a scientific phenomena that describes why a stationary object seen by one eye disappears when the other eye focuses on a moving object.

Visit the Maryland Room gallery in Hornbake Library from October 2105-July 2016 to explore the Cheshire Cat and the rest of the Wonderland cast of characters in the exhibit Alice 150 Years and County…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll: Selections from the Collection of August and Clare Imholtz.

Volunteer Opportunities in Special Collections and University Archives

Looking to gain experience working in a special collections library or archival repository? Special Collections and University Archives is host to volunteers and field study students looking to build up their resumes. They work closely with  library staff to make accessible some of the University’s most valuable research collections.

Current volunteer/field study opportunities include:

Archival Processing, Thomas Kahn papers

Thomas Kahn was Director of the AFL-CIO International Affairs Department. Responsibilities will include:

  • Develop processing plan for 130 linear feet of unprocessed records.
  • Assemble metadata by inventorying boxes.
  • Make recommendations regarding preservation needs and series descriptions.
  • Student will write blog post about experience.

Contact: Jen Eidson, Labor Collections

Labor History LibGuide

LibGuides are online subject guides used by the University of Maryland Libraries to provide greater access to materials in our collections. Responsibilities may include:

  • Develop content for a new LibGuide on a topic such as: child labor, labor legislation, membership records, union proceedings, etc… by using existing print guides that are out of date. Content will need to be updated.
  • LibGuide should include information we have in the University of Maryland Archives’s labor collections on the chosen topic as well as resources at other labor archives and bibliographic resources.
  • There is a possibility to create more than one guide and/or write corresponding blog post and/or selecting materials and writing captions for mini-exhibit in Maryland Room.

Contact: Jen Eidson, Labor Collections

Research Copyrights For Photos Used In Labor’s Heritage Journal

Journal was edited and printed by the George Meany Memorial Archive, 1989-2004. Responsibilities include:

  • Prepare journal for digitization by researching copyright information of photographs and terms of use. Student will review unprocessed boxes of administrative files as well as gain information from existing institutions’ websites.
  • Draft letters of inquiry for supervisor to review and send to obtain additional information as needed.
  • Student will gain insight into how publications are developed, initial research required, the importance of documenting rights for authors and photographic images used in publication.
  • Student will write blog post about experience.

Contact: Jen Eidson, Labor Collections

Legacy Metadata Conversion

Collection information for the AFL-CIO Archive is located in multiple locations: retired database tables, printed finding aids, spreadsheets, and obsolete e-documents.  In the Winter of 2016, some of this metadata will be migrated into ArchiveSpace. However, it will be partially incomplete. Responsibilities include:

  • Convert legacy metadata/finding aids into EAD for ArchiveSpace.
  • Gain experience using ArchiveSpace by adding missing collection information to existing records while learning about legacy and obsolete metadata formats.
  • Student will write blog post about experience.

Contact: Jen Eidson, Labor Collections

Special Collections Reference Experience

Gain experience with handling reference in a special collection library. Responsibilities include:

  • Serve on the Maryland Room Reference Desk.
  • Rotate in various subject areas within special collections handling outside reference queries.
  • Evaluate reference strategies and provide recommendations for improvement.
  • There is the possibility to assist the Researcher Experience Team, a Special Collections and University Archives staff team, with special projects.
  • Student will write blog post about experience.

Contact: Amber Kohl, Special Collections Services Coordinator

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Speech to AFL-CIO

In 1961, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and leader of the civil rights movement, spoke at the AFL-CIO’s Fourth Constitutional Convention. Though the early labor movement had a complicated history with race relations, by the 1960s the AFL-CIO and the civil rights movement had fully embraced each other in solidarity. President George Meany introduced King as “a courageous fighter for human rights” and “a fine example of American citizenry.”


In his speech, King commented on the similarities between the labor movement and the civil rights movement:

“Negroes in the United States read this history of labor and find it mirrors their own experience. We are confronted by powerful forces telling us to rely on the good will and understanding of those who profit by exploiting us.”

“Our needs are identical with labor’s needs, decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community.”

Dr. King also drew attention to the need for solidarity between the two movements: “The duality of interests of labor and Negroes makes any crisis which lacerates you, a crisis from which we bleed.”

King asked two things of the AFL-CIO in his speech: root out racial discrimination in labor unions and provide financial assistance to the civil rights movement. King’s message did not fall on deaf ears: he received a standing ovation from the delegates.

Read Dr. King’s full speech online

Watch a clip from Dr. King’s speech (starts at 15:33)

Read more about the labor movement’s relationship with the civil rights movement