From compiling lists of forbidden works to burning books, censorship has manifested in many forms over the years. Books have often been the target of censorship, usually by religious and political institutions threatened by ideas that challenge how we view the world.
Inspired by the recent School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures symposium, a new exhibit in the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library highlights artists, authors, and texts that have been banned, erased, and branded dangerous throughout history.
In more recent history, repressive regimes like Franco’s Spain and Nazi Germany in the 1930s were notorious for censorship. Authors and artists who expressed ideas contrary to the government were banned and their books outright destroyed. In Germany and Spain, this included works by Ernest Hemmingway, George Orwell, Franz Kafka, Bertolt Brecht, and others labeled degenerative or subversive.
On display are landmark 20th century literary works by Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Alex Haley, W.E.B. DuBois, Chester Himes, John A. Williams , and Richard Wright. Also included in the exhibit is poetry by Langston Hughes, Lucille Clifton, and Ted Joans.
Ranging from signed first editions (Invisible Man, Ellison) to popular trade paperback editions (If He Hollers Let Him Go, Himes), these titles offer a glimpse into the wide variety of African American literature and poetry in our collections.
Also on display is a rare edition of Negro Anthology, edited by activist Nancy Cunard. Published in 1934, Negro Anthology is a collection of poetry, historical studies, music, and other writings documenting Black culture of the era. Artists represented in the book include Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston.
Visit Hornbake Library to view these impressive works of literature in person, or visit us online to explore more titles in our literary collections.
A new exhibit in the Maryland Room highlights recent acquisitions in Special Collections and University Archives!
Included in the display are historic postcards featuring various vacation and other unique tourist locations across the United States, dated from the 1900s -1940s.
Stop by and check out the souvenir folder postcards, which contain several postcards folded up so you didn’t have to send just one! All the postcards on display were donated to the National Trust Library Historic Postcard Collection.
The exhibit also highlights a recent donation of Arthur Rackham illustrations to the Literature & Rare Book collections. Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) was a celebrated illustrator whose work helped spark the Golden Age of Illustration from the 1880s – 1920s in Englad. Rackham is known for the whimsical and dream-like quality of his art. His work was often featured in fairy tales and children’s literature. In addition to several books, a framed illustration signed by Rackham is on display featuring a scene from the Compleat Angler, a popular book celebrating the joys of fishing.
Lastly, the exhibit features another, albeit much older, acquisition to the Literature & Rare Book collections in Special Collections and University Archives. A collection of illuminated manuscript leaves showcase the artistry of hand written and hand decorated medieval books. The leaves are dated between the mid-12th century – 16th century. They represent a variety of regions, including Italy, France, the Netherlands, England, and the Low Countries.
Visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library to explore these new treasures in Special Collections and University Archives!
Asking an archivist to pick their favorite item in their exhibit may be the most challenging question you could ever ask them. After spending the past year assisting in all aspects of the exhibit For Liberty, Justice, and Equality: Unions Making History in America, I noticed that one of the most popular items I selected for the exhibit was the United Farm Workers flag. The flag, signed by famous figures Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, commemorates the historic Delano grape strike. The five-year strike started on September 8, 1965 and changed the face of the American labor movement and its attitude towards immigrant workers.
Jen Wachtel with the United Farm Workers flag commemorating the Delano grape strike.
Items from our literary collection include a selection of holiday chapbooks printed by the Spiral Press with the poetry of Robert Frost. Colorful holiday cards from author T.S. Eliot and socialite Peggy Guggenheim to writer/artist Djuna Barnes are also featured. An impressive oversized edition of A Christmas Carol on display was designed and illustrated by W.A. Dwiggins, and was bound in festive green leather and marbled paper design.
We also pulled interesting holiday-themed items from our historical collection, including a set of beautiful Japanese inspired holiday cards received by UMD professor and historian Gordon W. Prange. A variety of presidential holiday cards given to Governor of Maryland Theodore McKeldin include holiday greetings from US Presidents Nixon, Eisenhower, Johnson, as well as the President of Israel Zalman Sazar. A political cartoon with Santa from the AFL-CIO archives and speech given by Vice President Agnew at a tree lighting ceremony on Washington DC also add to the historical holiday fun.
This semester we hosted an Open House for University staff and displayed some of the interesting material found within our collection.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Three of these items came from our literary collection and included an early edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an inscribed copy of Mark Twain’s Sketches, New and Old, and a 1794 edition of A Vindication of the Rights of Women. These early editions provided insights into the times in which they were produced through their format, inscriptions or by the significance of their ownership. Much can be learned by looking at original copies of common works.
If you would like to talk to us about using our collections for your own research or to support your instruction, please let us know. We often work with faculty and look forward to the opportunity to get to know you and your students.