New Additions to Special Collections

New acquisitions to Special Collections and University Archives includes several private press books including The English Bible, printed at the Doves Press, as well as Don Quixote and Spenser’s Faerie Queene printed at the Ashendene Press.   Also included among these beautifully printed books are plates of John Martin’s mezzotint illustrations of Paradise and Lost and Morte D’Arthur,  printed at the Shakespeare Head Press.

Visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library to view more items from our literature and rare book collections.

Halloween Comes to Special Collections

Looking for  devilishly entertaining rare books? Visit Hornbake Library this week to view two Halloween-inspired exhibits featuring our most frightful items from Special Collections and University Archives.

From A History of Serpents (1742), entomology bug models, and ghostly Nancy Drew novels to hauntingly illustrated tales by Edgar Allan Poe, these items will send a chill down your spine.

It’s all part of the Halloweek fun this week at the University of Maryland Libraries!

Looking for more scary items from Special Collections and University Archives? Ask a librarian in the Maryland Room how you can view more rare items like a first edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’ and books on ghosthunting in Maryland, or Katherine Anne Porter’s painted coffin.

Featured Collections: Fall 2015

Expect the Unexpected

Did you know that we have collections right here on campus to help you learn more about black history and literature?

African American Literature

Black Judgement by Nikki Giovanni

Black Judgement by Nikki Giovanni

The African-American and African pamphlet collection contains literature, poetry and drama produced by and about African-Americans, primarily from the mid-20th century. Represented in this collection are well-known African-American figures such as Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Gwendolyn Brooks and Nikki Giovanni. Browse the finding aid for specific titles or link directly to the relevant inventories:

Authors and Poets collection

Find primary source material related to major literary figures such as John Updike, William Carlos Williams, and Joyce Carol Oates in our Authors and Poets collection. African-Americans, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, and Claude Brown, are also represented in this collection. Examples of materials within this collection include:

  • Correspondence
  • Manuscripts and notes
  • Proofs and publications
  • Unique printed material; including programs, posters, sheet music and more
  • Serials – many including first appearances of literary works

Discover authors and poets

Literary Firsts

The First Appearances collection consists of over 1,300 periodicals presenting the first public dissemination, of many seminal 20th century literary works. Spanning 1915 to 1977, this collection contains famous pieces such as “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway, “Ulysses” by James Joyce, and “Ship of Fools” by Katherine Anne Porter. Authors well-represented in this collection include Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, Langston Hughes, Flannery O’Connor, Gertrude Stein, Amiri Baraka, and more.

Contact us for information about this collection.

Simply Heavenly by Langston Hughes

Simply Heavenly by Langston Hughes

Pride at Work records at UMD

We are excited to announce that the University of Maryland is now the repository for the records of Pride at Work!

Labor Archivist Jennifer Eidson packs up boxes with Pride at Work’s Executive Director Jerame Davis.

Labor Archivist Jennifer Eidson packs up boxes with Pride at Work’s Executive Director Jerame Davis.

Pride at Work (P@W) is an AFL-CIO constituency group that represents and advocates for LGBT union members across the United States. Since 1994, P@W has sought “full equality for LGBT Workers in our workplaces and unions” while “creating a Labor Movement that cherishes diversity, encourages openness, and ensures safety & dignity.”

This July, UMD archives staff accessioned records from P@W’s Washington, D.C. office. The collection documents the work and activities of P@W advocating for worker rights, P@W’s Labor Leadership Initiative’s training and educational component, as well as the evolution of the organization’s history.

In the upcoming months, UMD’s archivists will inventory and organize the records so that researchers can have easier access to them.

Stay tuned for more news as we prepare this exciting new collection to be opened to the public!

Contact us if you have any questions or are interested in researching in the collection.

Learn more about Pride at Work or explore UMD’s labor collections, including the AFL-CIO archive.

Debut of "A Colony in Crisis"

Announcing “A Colony in Crisis”

A Colony in CrisisWe are happy to announce the debut of the Colony in Crisis website, where you will find a collection of digitized and translated French pamphlets dealing with the Saint-Domingue grain shortage of 1789. To facilitate access to each pamphlet, we have brought together the French original, a brief historical introduction, and a translation. While the subject matter will be of interest to those interested in a variety of fields such as Atlantic History, the Ancien Régime, and the Haitian Revolution, the primary goal of A Colony in Crisis is to get these fascinating and underutilized pamphlets into more hands and shed light on an interesting chapter in the history of Saint-Domingue. We expect it will be especially useful for undergraduate courses needing primary source materials that have been translated into English, but we welcome feedback as to the many other potential uses. Thank you to the Board of Advisors and the many colleagues who contributed; without their assistance the site would not be going live today!

The Early Printing Collection: An Introduction

Folio 28 recto

A page from the Cologne Chronicle, printed by Johannes Koelhoff the Younger in 1499.

A new (very old!) collection of early printing has now been processed and digitized, and is available in the Digital Collections or by request in person in the Maryland Room. The Early Printing Collection is a set of thirty-six leaves and pages that were printed in Europe in the late 15th century. It includes printed pages from many well-known works, including the The Nuremberg Chronicle, Historia Scholastica and The Cologne Chronicle.


Typographical printing done before 1501 in Europe is often called Incunabula, a funny pseudo-Latin phrase that refers to the birth of printing in the 15th century. The 15th century saw important advances in the movable type printing press thanks to Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press invented around 1450. The Gutenberg Bible is the first (and probably most famous) book printed using movable type, and while you won’t find any of its pages in the Early Printing Collection, the collection does feature many other pages from Bibles and other religious and historical chronicles printed around the same time period. Within the collection the printing itself is generally clear and easy to read — that is, if you understand Latin or Middle German!

Folio 1

A page of Genesis from Historia Scholastica is covered in paste marks

Early Printing History

Even though the leaves are over 500 years old, the collection is in relatively good condition and provides excellent examples of early printing history, from paper-making to moveable type setting to woodblock printing. Many of the leaves were printer’s proof sheets or scraps, but since paper was still a relatively valuable commodity at the time, these scrap pages were recycled and used in book-binding. They’ve since been removed from bindings, but many still bear marks from the old binding paste. Looking more closely at the leaves in the collection, you can find examples of mould-made papers with visible chain lines and laid lines that indicate how the paper was made by hand using a wire mesh screen. Watermarks, the designs and images found in laid paper, can also be seen on some of the leaves, especially those from the Nuremberg Chronicle. Most of the printing is done in a Gothic typeface, also called Blackletter, though there are a few examples of roman type as well. There are leaves from several important printers from the time period, including Günther Zainer from Augsburg, Konrad Dinckmut from Ulm, and Johann Koelhoff The Younger of Cologne. As for the context, most of the leaves are from religious texts like bibles, psalters, and books of hours, while a few of the leaves come from historical and legal texts.

Folio 21 verso

An unidentified fragment of a Missal is hand-initialed and rubricated in red ink.

Explore the Collection in the Classroom

The Early Printing Collection has many potential applications for undergraduate and graduate courses on campus. Courses in departments like English, History, Art History, Art Studio, Library Science, and others can utilize the collection to study firsthand the history of printing, typography design, and rare books. Plus, with thirty-six separate folios of leave, there are enough examples for students to work individually or in small groups to closely examine the details of the page and learn about early printing firsthand.

Revealing La Revolution: The Environmental Scan & Microsoft Excel, Part 2

As you now know I began my tenure as the interim Curator for Literature and Rare Books by trying to get more familiar with cataloged items in Rare Books and Special Collections by creating a spreadsheet that would give me an overview of the collection as a whole. Technical Services provided me with a MARC file containing the complete MARC records for every item in these collections and pointed me to MARCedit to be able to create a customized report about the collections. Previously I explained how I used MARCedit in Revealing La Revolution: The Environmental Scan & MARCedit, Part 1. Now I’m going to share how I imported and set up my data in Microsoft Excel so that it revealed the contents of Rare Books and Special Collections to me.

I began by opening a new workbook in Microsoft Excel and went to the “Data” Menu Ribbon.

Excel Data Menu Import from Text File

Excel Data Menu Import from Text File

In the furthest left column I choose to import my data “from text” and directed the request box to the correct file.

Excel Import File Selection

Excel Import File Selection

The Import Wizard then allowed me to choose how to import the file. I chose “delimited” because that was the type of file I created and left “Start import at row” to its preset of “1”. In order to keep the diacritics and special characters from foreign languages I had to change the “File origin:” to match my file type “Unicode (UTF-8)”.

Excel Import Selection of Unicode UTF-8 File Type

Excel Import Selection of Unicode UTF-8 File Type

For Step two I chose “tab” to match my previous file.

Excel Import Selecting Tab Delimited

Excel Import Selection of Tab Delimited

And in Step 3 I choose “Text” because I didn’t want Excel thinking it was smarter than me and assuming that what might be a combination of numbers and letters is something other than it is and changing it. You know Excel likes to do this!

Excel Import Selection of Text

Excel Import Selection of Text

Finally I told excel that I wanted it to use the current worksheet to display the data. And after the import was complete I saved my new excel file!

Excel Import Location Selection

Excel Import Location Selection

Finally, because I wanted to sort my data I choose to “Format as Table” from the “Home” Menu Ribbon.

Excel Formatting as a Table

Excel Formatting as a Table

And now I have a very useful excel table with all currently cataloged Rare Book and Special Collections items.

Sample data with special characters and diacritics

Sample data with special characters and diacritics

More sample data with special characters and diacritics

More sample data with special characters and diacritics

This file is so much more useful than browsing the stacks for projects like the environmental scan for Revealing La Revolution. It is also a great help to me as I update the webpages about our collections and reach out to instructors with resources for their classroom. Hopefully the information on how I created this report is useful to you, too.

See Revealing La Revolution: The Environmental Scan & MARCedit, Part 1 to learn more about using MARCedit to read how I used MARCeditor to define the fields for my Excel spreadsheet.