Special Collections Spotlight: The Early Printed and Manuscript Leaf collection 

The Early Printed and Manuscript Leaf collection consists of printed and illuminated manuscript leaves from Europe dated from the 12th -16th centuries. The collection includes 70 whole and partial leaves, representing a variety of styles and techniques that serve as a sampling of early print and manuscript book history. “Leaves” refers to a single sheet that was once part of a bound book. Manuscript books were entirely hand-produced, representing the earliest form of bookmaking across Europe. With the emergence of the printing press and movable type in Europe in the 1400s, printers utilized mechanical techniques to produce books more quickly than their manuscript counterparts. The collection is an excellent resource on book history and the art of printed and manuscript books.

The leaves in the collection were originally part of a variety of texts including several books of hours, Bibles, missals, and the Cologne Chronicle. The leaves come from a variety of countries in Europe, particularly Italy, France, and Germany.

Explore the Early Printed and Manuscript Leaf collection finding aid.

To view any early printed or manuscript leaves visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library or if you have any questions, please contact us!


What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextual information may also be included.

The Strange and Fantastical World of Sci-Fi Pulp Advertisements, Part 3

We’re back with a final look at the captivating advertisements printed in the Howard and Jane Frank Collection of Science Fiction Pulp Magazines in UMD Special Collections. We previously took a look at patriotic, employment, and novelty advertisements in Part 1 and beauty and wellness products in Part 2. Now we take a look at mid-century consumerism, fashion, and technology!

Advertisements in the 1950s highlight the cultural shift after World War II, emphasizing consumerism and the American Dream of a nuclear family with a beautiful home full of the latest appliances. The “Kalamazoo Direct to You” advertisement, offers readers “rock bottom factory prices” and the convenience of catalog shopping, as seen in the ad below from the October 1940 issue of Astonishing Stories.

The mail order advertisement layout that typically featured dozens of small novelties like magic sets (as seen in The Strange and Fantastical World of Sci-Fi Pulp Advertisements, Part 1), can be found again in an advertisement in the April 1952 issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries. Instead of penny toys, must-haves for the automobile owner are showcased including seat covers, sun visors, and the “new miracle automatic auto washer”. The familiar “send no money – mail this coupon” line is given top billing, with a small print reminding the reader that payment for the item plus postage is due to the mailman upon delivery.

Portable garages, car radios, “readi-cut homes”, and “haircuts at home” are just a few of the products advertised to the American family. What family could resist an inexpensive way to keep everyone “barber -fresh” with “a complete haircut at home.” At only $0.98, the Sta-neet “magic knob” trims, shaves legs/underarms, thins, cuts and “pays for itself after first time used.”

In the 1950s, the Cold War led to a real fear among Americans that nuclear war with Russia could happen at any time. One of the most unusual advertisements we can across was a plain advertisement printed in the August 1951 issue of Super Science Stories for “Flash-Ready” mask and mittens that protect its wearer from nuclear fallout. 

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Student Employment in Special Collections and University Archives at UMD!

Interested in a career as a librarian or archivist? Are you detail-oriented and organized? Looking for a job on campus with great colleagues? Special Collections and University Archives is hiring hourly student assistants!

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Student assistants in Special Collections and University Archives at UMD experience a wide variety of public and behind-the-scenes elements of the special collection library/archival field.  They work closely with curators and library staff to make accessible some of the University’s most valuable research collections.

Our collections cover a wide variety of subjects/formats, including literary manuscripts and rare books, UMD history, labor history, the state of Maryland and other historical collections, mass media and culture, and women’s history.

We are looking for reliable and enthusiastic students who have an ability to learn quickly, with excellent written and verbal communication skills, a passion for history and cultural heritage, and a willingness to work both independently and collaboratively with students and staff.

Efficiency in computer programs such as Word or Excel are preferred. Students must also be able to retrieve archival boxes and books that may be heavy or fragile for researchers in the reading room. Experience in an archives/special collection library or conducting research in a library is helpful, but not essential.

We are currently hiring student assistants in the following areas:

  • Maryland and Historic Collections Team
    • Function as part of the MDHC Reference and Retrieval Team by assisting with readying materials for researchers, responding to reference requests, and conducting short-term research.
    • Assist MDHC Graduate Assistant with accessioning donations and processing two large collections.
    • Provide support (planning-publicity-run-of-show) for:  university- level initiatives, such as The 1856 Project–the local chapter of Universities Studying Slavery and for statewide partnerships, such as the Maryland History and Culture Collaborative.
    • Opportunities to learn how to transcribe 19th century documents.
    • Covering shifts on the public service desks, including the Hornbake welcome desk and reading room retrieval desk as needed.

  • Mass Media and Culture Collections Team
    • Processing new and backlog collections that include printed as well as audiovisual materials
    • Inventorying audiovisual materials
    • Contributing to digital history projects related to broadcasting
    • Covering shifts on the public service desks, including the Hornbake welcome desk and reading room retrieval desk as needed.
  • University Archives Collections Team
    • Assist in short-term and long-term reference research.
    • The student will also help with accessioning incoming collections, provide support for instruction, will generate social media content, work with unit level initiatives, such as Project STAND and university level projects, such as The 1856 Project, the Universities Studying Slavery Chapter for the University of Maryland. 
    • Covering shifts on the public service desks, including the Hornbake welcome desk and reading room retrieval desk as needed.

Applicants must be able to maintain a consistent schedule of at least 15-20 hours per week. Working hours are available from 9:00am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday. The starting pay rate is $15. Both graduate and undergraduate students are encouraged to apply. These are hourly student positions only; not graduate assistantships. The University of Maryland is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

To apply:

Send a resume and brief cover letter (PDF format preferred) expressing interest in one or more of the positions described above to Amber Kohl at amberk@umd.edu.

The Strange and Fantastical World of Sci-Fi Pulp Advertisements, Part 2

A sensational offer! Tremendous price slash! Send no money, your satisfaction guaranteed! 10 day free trial for our readers! We’re back exploring the strange world of science fiction pulp magazine advertisements found in UMD Special Collections! In case you missed it, be sure to check out The Strange and Fantastical World of Sci-Fi Pulp Advertisements, Part 1, where we put the spotlight on patriotic ads, mail away novelties, and much more!

For part 2, we take a look at the wellness marketing in science fiction pulp magazines. Advertisements marketing health and beauty were extremely popular. Readers were often bombarded with quick-fix gimmicky offers and products targeting a physical flaw perceived by a self-conscious reader, like the promise to build muscle fast or remove unsightly blemishes. For male audiences, opportunities to “make you a new man” and “develop muscles of a super-man” were common, as seen in the advertisements below. One advertisement from a February 1930 issue of Air Wonder Stories sells exercise equipment that is guaranteed to help you “get strong and amaze friends” and “easily master feats which which now seem difficult.” For the low price of $5, readers can send the coupon to Crusader Apparatus Co. in New Jersey. No money is required upfront, but rather readers pay the postman upon delivery. Satisfaction is guaranteed or your money back!

Is baldness necessary? The Vitex Hair Institute tells readers an emphatic “NO”. Just 10 minutes a day using their hair treatment products will help you maintain a healthy scalp and “help keep baldness away.” If you live in the New York area, this advertisement encourages you to stop by their Fifth Avenue salon and “see convincing proof of the results achieved.”

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Special Collections Spotlight: Science Fiction Pulp Magazines

The Howard and Jane Frank Collection of Science Fiction Pulp Magazines contains a variety of science fiction pulp magazines. Pulp magazines were inexpensive popular fiction works published from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s, characteristically printed on cheaply made wood pulp paper. Pulp magazines initially contained a variety of different genres of fiction, including mystery and adventure genres, but in the 1920s magazines devoted to science fiction began to appear more frequently. Science fiction pulp magazines typically featured colorful cover art, along with short stories that embraced futuristic and fantasy themes, highlighting technology, space travel, otherworldly creatures, scientific innovation, and unexplored environments.

Some of the pulps such as Air Wonder Stories attempted to provide educational value to their stories by basing them on accurate scientific principles. Other titles, such as Astounding Stories of Super-Science, focused on providing the best price value with high page counts and low prices. The addition of letter columns in pulp magazines helped the fandom surrounding the genre grow as fans began to reach out to the addresses published alongside the letters. As science fiction progressed into the 1930s and 1940s, stories began to place a greater emphasis on plot and characterization. This collection’s titles include multi-genre pulps like The Strand and pulps devoted solely to science fiction such as Stirring Science Stories. Early titles featured stories written by H.G. Wells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexander Pushkin, and Jules Verne.

The collection contains 365 volumes of Sci-Fi pulps from 12 different title families. The pulps were published between 1891 and 1990, with the majority published between 1930 and 1961.

Explore the Howard and Jane Frank Collection of Science Fiction Pulp Magazines finding aid.

To view any Science Fiction Pulp Magazines in the collection visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library or if you have any questions, please contact us!


What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextual information may also be included.

The Strange and Fantastical World of Sci-Fi Pulp Advertisements, Part 1

Looking for a patriotic glow-in-the-dark necktie? How about a convenient portable garage? Can we interest you in a futuristic Sony micro TV? These are just a few of the interesting product advertisements that can be found throughout our Science Fiction Pulp Magazine collection in the Literature and Rare Books collection.

The Howard and Jane Frank Collection of Science Fiction Pulp Magazines contains 365 volumes of Sci-Fi pulps, with the majority being published between 1903 and 1961. Pulp magazines were inexpensive popular fiction works published from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s, characteristically printed on cheap wood pulp paper. Science fiction pulp magazines typically featured colorful cover art, along with short stories that embraced futuristic and fantasy themes. Within the pages of these magazines are also a multitude of advertisements that provide a glimpse into consumerism, novelty, and American life through the decades.

A common theme in pulp magazine advertisement is asking readers to send away for products in the mail. One example below is the handy “10 tools in one” multi-tool featured in a 1930 issue of Air Wonder Stories. Simply cut out the coupon and send in $1 to receive your own “small but handy article which serves every possible need of the all around mechanic.”

Pistol sling-shots for $1, humless radio tubes, a Dick Tracey radio watch sure to catch the attention of comic book fans, and prize money for the eagle eyed reader who can spot the identical cartoons can all be found within the pages of Air Wonder Stories and Fantastic Adventures in the 1930s and 1940s.

Magic tricks and small novelties such as the “ooh-la- la ring”, a lumnous skeleton, a “wizarddeck” of cards, invisible ink, and the curious “nose blower” could be sent away for as little as 10 cents. The full page advertisement below from the February 1930 issue of Air Wonder Stories, features more than two dozen of these small prizes, likely targeting young readers awed by fantastical sci-fi stories and inventions, looking to spend some pocket change.

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Special Collections Spotlight: French Pamphlet collection

The French Pamphlet collection documents significant events and periods in French history throughout the 17th-20th centuries. It contains approximately 9,600 pamphlets pertaining to public figures, political events, foreign relations, religion, and conflict. The pamphlets are an invaluable resource for the insight they provide into their contemporary conversations, social climates, and ways of thought.

The largest part of the collection is made up of over 5,700 pamphlets and includes government publications from the first ten years of the French Revolution, over 1,700 decrees and laws published from 1789 to 1795, and documents France’s involvement with the Middle East, centering on the conflict with the Ottoman Empire, 1900-1924, among other topics of interest. Pamphlets and other printed ephemera also became more common on the eve of the Revolution when the old system of royal regulation of printing and bookselling collapsed. The pamphlets document these important periods of transition.

Explore the French Pamphlet collection finding aid.

We also have fully digitized items from the French pamphlet collection in the Internet Archive.

To view any French pamphlets in Special Collections visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library or if you have any questions, please contact us!


What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextu

Special Collections Spotlight: Girls’ Series Books

The Rose and Joseph Pangani Collection of Girls’ Series Books consists of 300 books published from 1917-2005, with a large portion published from 1930 to 1969. “Series books” are books that consistently feature the same protagonist. However unlike “books in a series”, the characters in “series books” seldom mature, age, or change. The protagonist in a “girls’ series” book is usually a girl in her late teens or early twenties who goes on adventures on her own or with a small group of friends around her age. The heroines of girls’ series usually had an interesting career such as an amateur sleuth, a nurse, or a stewardess. Girls’ series books were often disparaged for their formulaic plots and the cheap manufacture of the books themselves.

The majority of books in this collection were donated by Elissa Pangani in honor of her parents Rose and Joseph Pangani. The collection includes series such as the Nancy Drew Mystery Series, the Cherry Ames Nurse Stories, the Dana Girls Mystery Stories, and the Vicki Barr Flight Stewardess Series.

Explore the Rose and Joseph Pangani Collection of Girls’ Series Books finding aid.

To view any Girls’ Series Books in Special Collections visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library or if you have any questions, please contact us!


What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextual information may also be included.

New Exhibit: Rare Book Pollinators

We’re celebrating the bees, birds, bats, and butterflies that help feed our planet with a selection of works on our favorite pollinators from the Literature and Rare Books Collection with a new exhibit in the Maryland Room.

Pollination is the act of transferring pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma. Flowers rely on their surrounding environment to move pollen from one flower to another, this can include wind, water, birds, insects, butterflies, bats, and other animals that visit flowers. Animals or insects that transfer pollen from plant to plant are called “pollinators”.

Hummingbirds and butterflies are important in wildflower pollination, while plants in tropical and desert climates depend on bats for pollination. Bees are vital for agriculture, helping to pollinate a multitude of crops including apples, melons, and pumpkins. 

Did you know? 1 in 3 bites of food you consume every day exists solely because of pollinators. Coffee, chocolate, avocados, almonds, bananas, tequila (agave), apples, kiwi, strawberries, lemons, and more!

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Digital Exhibit Celebrates Voting and 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage

Thanks to the Society of American Archivists’ Women’s Collections Section for allowing us to share our exhibition!

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This post was written by Laura Cleary, Instruction and Outreach Librarian at the University of Maryland Libraries Special Collections and University Archives. Some of the text in this post was adapted from the Get Out the Vote exhibition.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of 15th amendment granting African American suffrage and the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment granting women suffrage, the University of Maryland Libraries created an exhibition to explore the history of voting rights in the United States of America. Debates over who had the right to vote, the mechanisms and timing of elections, and who is eligible to run for office have raged for hundreds of years. Barriers to voting have led many to advocate for a more representative electorate and to encourage greater participation in local, state, and national elections. At the heart of the fight for voting rights are these advocates and grassroot organizations who…

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