October always comes to a close with Remembrance Week, the annual weeklong series of events planned by the Remembrance and Lockerbie Scholars, which was held Sunday, Oct. 20 through Saturday, Oct. 26. Remembrance Week events are meant to honor the victims and further educate the campus community about terrorism – both historic and contemporary, foreign and domestic. The Special Collections Research Center is home to the Pan Am Flight 103/Lockerbie Air Disaster Archives. The Archives’ collections provide the Remembrance and Lockerbie Scholars with resources for understanding the historical significance of the disaster, and for learning about the lives of the victims. Our Pan Am 103 Archivist & Assistant University Archivist, Vanessa St.Oegger-Menn, works closely with the Scholars throughout the year to ensure their events and programs fulfill the Remembrance motto: Look Back, Act Forward. To learn more about the Remembrance Scholars program visit remembrance.syr.edu. Information about the Pan Am Flight 103/Lockerbie Air Disaster Archives is available at panam103.syr.edu. In addition, October is one the busiest months of the year for classroom visits in the Special Collections Research Center, supporting 24 class sessions.
Finally, this month several members of the SCRC staff took a trip to visit the Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection located in the Fashion Design Program in SU’s Nancy Cantor Warehouse for a tour led by Jeffrey Mayer and Kristen Schoonmaker. SCRC Curator Courtney Asztalos, Mayer, and Schoonmaker are pictured together in the above header. They recently acquired examples of 1920s-1940s swimwear, including Jantzen brand suits to complement the Jantzen Swimwear Photo Album we acquired earlier this year. You can read about the photograph album in our July 16, 2019 blog post.
Recap of Public Events:
Remembrance Week was October 20-26th and you can watch highlights from:
October 25, 2019. The New York State/Ontario chapter of the Music Library Association visited the Belfer Audio Archive as part of their annual meeting. The Belfer Audio Archive, a unit of SU Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, is the nation’s first purpose built audio preservation facility, having existed at Syracuse University in various forms since 1963. The archive houses approximately 500,000 audio items, ranging from Edison’s earliest experimental tin foil recordings to born digital items, with collections focused largely on the early 20th century. Belfer is home to the country’s third largest collection of cylinder recordings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Mentions in the News:
September 27, 2019.University Archivist Meg Mason featured on WAER, “Her Hilltop High: Pink, Pea Green, Azure…Then Finally Orange.” October 24, 2019.Photos from SCRC used in Daily Orange story about students who escaped Flight 103 tragedy. October 25, 2019. Note from Thomas Edison to B.C. Forbes from Special Collections mentioned in Forbes article.
John Vassos (1898-1985) was an American illustrator and industrial designer whose style influenced cinema, theater and advertising. He also wrote and illustrated several books. Phobia, produced in a limited edition of 1500 copies, is a study of some of the fears that affect modern life. The gouache illustrations are in black and white. Vassos wrote in the introduction to the book, “A phobia is essentially graphic. The victim creates in his mind a realistic picture of what he fears, a mental image of a physical thing.”
Phobia by John Vassos(Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries) is part of the Special Collections Research Center’s rare books collection.J
The transformation scene from R. L. Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, by famous recording artist Len Spencer, 1904. Len Spencer died in 1914. His funeral was particularly spooky in that he himself was the speaker! Spencer recited the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd psalm to assembled mourners from beyond the grave, having recorded them earlier specifically for that purpose.
My go-to book for spooky content is the Nuremburg Chronicle. Since it attempts to depict all of history from the creation of the world to contemporary events in Germany in the 1490s, history is full of destruction, decay, deformity, and death.
The Nuremburg Chronicle (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries) is part of the Special Collections Research Center’s rare books collection.
Ray Bradbury began his career as a writer by contributing stories to fanzines and pulp serials, including the Street & Smith publication, Super Science Stories. Mademoiselle, another Street & Smith publication, published Bradbury’s short story “Homecoming” in October 1947 after Truman Capote, who was working as an editor for the magazine at the time, rescued it from the submission pile. Bradbury received an O. Henry Award for the story about a normal boy’s feelings of estrangement from his family of supernatural beings.
Mademoiselle (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries) is part of the Special Collections Research Center’s rare books collection. The Street & Smith Records (Street & Smith Records, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries) are part of the Special Collections Research Center’s manuscript collections.
The main image for this post comes from the cover of Teatr “Letuchai︠a︡ myshʹ” (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries) in the Special Collections Research Center’s rare books collection.
I work as a reference assistant in the Special Collections Research Center on the 6th floor of Bird Library. If you have ever met me, I talk a little too much about how much I love my job. As a reference assistant, I am able to help people from all around the world to explore our collections. By doing so, I am able to familiarize myself with the many interesting and unique collections within the SCRC. Being able to experience history in a multitude of different ways is the best part of my job. Most recently, I have been captivated by our collection of illuminated manuscripts.
Illuminated manuscripts are handwritten books that have been adorned with vibrant colors, artwork, and even gold. These embellishments sometimes include small and large illustrations, initials, borders, or other decorative elements. Initially, monasteries created illuminated manuscripts as tools for church services such as prayer books, hymnals and daily devotions. While many of these manuscripts are religious in nature, there are many different variations that can be used personally or practically. Books of Hours, for example, were personal books meant to inspire these devotions in daily life while antiphoners were practical books for music performance.
Manuscript books were created by and for the use of individuals and no two copies are exactly the same. Historians and librarians work from the physical pages themselves to fill in the blank spots of the book’s history. As a student working towards a career in special collections, I find that this is the most interesting part of working with manuscripts. History is embedded into the pages, and the fun lies in the mystery.
The Gradual of Saints, also known as the Weiss Antiphoner, contains liturgical music of the Church which consists of Gregorian chant or monophonic harmony. This music was used to accompany the text of the mass and the canonical hours. The codex is a surprisingly large and evidently well-loved Dominican Gradual of Saints which can be dated c. 1484-1524 most likely originating from Castile, Spain.
As a musician myself, it is extremely interesting to see early musical notation and how performers approached practice. The Antiphoner’s pages are well worn— evidence of many years of use. Unlike music used for entertainment in later eras like the Romantic Period, this use of music was used exclusively for Church services. Musicians either worked for the church or for the nobility; they did not create music to be consumed by the general public like today. The large and extensive repairs indicate that this text was important enough to preserve its functionality. Also indicative of its practical nature is the size of the original writing. This text can easily be seen from several feet away by a moderately sized choir. In addition to the original text, there are also many marginal notes from thevarious church musicians using the text. These notes exist in a variety of different handwriting and most often refer to the function of the music. Sometimes, the notes will extend or edit a line of music. Many times, the handwriting is concerned with “naming the saint, time of the calendar or liturgical year, a specific service connected to the chants on the page, and sometimes additional cross references to chants in other books” (Harden). These comments are almost exactly what I would write in my own music, although I doubt that mine will exist 500 years from now.
Although the manuscript was well used, the decoration of the text implies that it was also meant to be elegant— this is the Church we’re talking about after all. The illuminations consist of detailed and intricate designs in red and blue ink. While there are no miniatures, animals, floral designs or gold leaf, this manuscript was likely an expensive asset to the Church.
Comparatively, manuscripts commissioned by wealthy patrons instead of the Church stand out as more personal and remarkably embellished books. For example, within the collections at SCRC, Le Louchier Hours, otherwise known as The Syracuse Hours, is a great example of personalized details within commissioned manuscripts. The manuscript itself is relatively small, indicating this book could travel with its owner easily, unlike the Gradual of Saints where size was an important factor in its functionality. However, in a Book of Hours, a patron is able to tailor special supplemental devotions to themselves or their family. These books are more diverse in artwork, ranging from a few painted initials to gorgeous illuminated borders and full-page pictures. In manuscripts such as these, illuminators would pound gold into thin leaves that they would then use to decorate pages in the book. The gold leaf in the Le Louchier Hours is extremely evident; there are pieces of gold on almost every page and the book even has gilded edges. The Le Louchier Hours is truly a no-expense-spared codex, evident in the detailed marginalia and gold leaf within the artwork.
Personalized details in the book are also examples of the extravagance expected from wealthy patrons. This manuscript contains a crest belonging to the Le Louchier-De Buillemont family which also incorporates the insignia for the Croquevilain family. The combination of the crest and insignia imply the union of the families, so the book could have been created after the marriage of Robert Le Louchier (c.1407) and Anne Croquevilain of Tournai (b. ca.1416; d. 1503) in 1435. However, this conclusion is at most only speculation because we have no other sources other than the crest itself.
The creators of these beautiful books would never have predicted that these two books would ever be in the same room together. As a student at Syracuse University and an employee of SCRC, I count myself lucky that I get to experience these materials in such unique ways. If you are interested in materials such as these, I recommend visiting SCRC to see them yourself.
TheGradual of Saints (Weiss Antiphoner) and Book of Hours are part of our rare books collection (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries).
Stein, Wendy A. “The Book of Hours: A Medieval Bestseller.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/hour/hd_hour.htm. June 2017.
By Grace Wagner, Reading Room Access Services Supervisor
Every year, Special Collections incorporates new books featuring research and materials from SCRC collections into its own collections. This past year, author publications touched on a number of different subjects, ranging from illuminated manuscripts to a biography of the art collector and businessman Archer Milton Huntington. One of the books that joined our collections this year is Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel, an immersive look at the post-war modern art movement from the viewpoint of the women who helped shape it.
Gabriel’s book takes on this subject by focusing on the lives and work of five artists: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler. Gabriel’s research stretches far and wide, incorporating documents and testimony from a number of archives and eyewitnesses. One of the sources Gabriel draws upon is the Grace Hartigan Papers, a manuscript collection held at Syracuse University. Gabriel employs Hartigan’s diaries, correspondence, photographs and other writings from this collection to help tell Hartigan’s story and the story of the Abstract Expressionist movement in her book.
The five artists, or protagonists, of the story, encompass the range of years of the modern art movement, from 1929 to 1959, and Gabriel brings in each new character in the order she naturally appears in the course of the art movement historically. Because Gabriel’s scope is broad — five artists and 30 years of history, she chooses to take a ‘horizontal’ rather than ‘vertical’ approach to the history and focuses on the intersections between these five artists and the movement as a whole, rather than extensively covering individual backgrounds, upbringings, and lives post-1959, when the movement had largely come to a conclusion (xvi). This approach helps keep her 700-page bright yellow tome moving at a surprisingly brisk, easy pace.
Lee Krasner and Elaine de Kooning dominate the early pages of the book, detailing the early years of the art movement in the 1930s and Krasner’s involvement with the WPA, and “second generation” Abstract Expressionists Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler, both formally educated in art schools and programs, appear towards the latter part of the movement in the early 1950s. Sandwiched in between the two groups, and, in some way, acting as a bridge between, Grace Hartigan’s story is told. Hartigan’s work is informed both by her Great Depression upbringing and her early married years which took place amidst the United States’ involvement in World War II. Hartigan experienced her first taste of the art world at this time, working at an aeronautical factory in New Jersey in the drafting department.
Hartigan struck out on her own at 26, separating from her husband and leaving her son with his grandparents in New Jersey. She began to negotiate how she would become an artist on her own, first traveling west and taking art classes and then living and working among other artists in a freezing apartment building in New York City for a decade, working as an artists’ model to support herself and using flimsy pretexts to keep from being evicted from her living space. Gabriel underscores Hartigan’s complicated journey and transformation into an independent artist with reference to Hartigan’s changing wardrobe, from peasant blouses and skirts to jeans, army fatigues, and work boots.
Even as the story focuses on the women of the movement, gender dynamics are never entirely absent from the narrative. The book takes its name from the Ninth Street Show, a 1951 art exhibit that marked the first time the five central painters all exhibited work together. Ninth Street also refers to the area where these artists lived and worked together, frequenting the same bars and cafes, notably including the dingy, and later famed Cedar Bar located between 8th and 9th streets. At the time of the 1951 exhibit, however, Grace Hartigan, taking her cues from writers George Eliot and Georges Sand, was exhibiting her work under the name “George Hartigan.” She was not hiding her identity as a woman (most artists, buyers, and writers were aware that Grace was behind the works exhibited), but her choice underlined the difficulties women faced as artists in a largely male-dominated field.
Works like Gabriel’s highlight the complexity of individuals like Grace Hartigan and provide context for unexplored historical perspectives. One of the most exciting parts about facilitating the research of scholars and writers in the archives are the articles, books, and publications that are produced from this interaction. Incorporating works that touch significantly on collections in our holdings ultimately makes our collections, and our understanding of them, richer.
TheGrace Hartigan Papers (Grace Hartigan Papers, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries) are part of the Special Collections Research Center’s manuscript collections.
Recent Publications using SCRC Material:
Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art by Mary Gabriel, including research from the Grace Hartigan Papers.
Transatlantic Networks and the Perception and Representation of Vienna and Austria Between the 1920s and 1950s by Waldemar Zacharasiewicz, including research from the Dorothy Thompson Papers.
September and October are the busiest months of the year for classroom visits in the Special Collections Research Center. Pictured above, a group of students from James Watts’ HNR 340 class taking a look at plates from Description de l’Egypte, printed from 1808-1829, which is one of the largest books in SCRC.
New Exhibit Opened:
Sept 14, 2019. “A Legacy of Leadership: The Chancellors and Presidents of Syracuse University,” which was curated by Vanessa St. Oegger-Menn, is now on display in the first floor exhibition case in Bird Library.