William Blake’s Engravings of Dante’s Inferno

The University of Tulsa Special Collections and Archives is fortunate to have a collection of books related to art.  These volumes range from artist’s books (books made by hand by the artist themselves) to biographies.  One of these books, Blake’s Illustrations of Dante is part of the Kay and Roger Easson Library of William Blake.  This book was published by The Trianon Press in Paris for the William Blake Trust in 1978.  Seven prints made from Blake’s engravings, a short history and descriptions of the engravings, and preliminary sketches are enclosed within the book.  These engravings not only have an interesting subject matter but also a fascinating history.  Blake’s friend John Linnel suggested to the artist that he should make engravings for Inferno while he was completing his work on the Illustrations of the Book of Job.  Blake worked on these engravings on and off during the last three years of his life.  By the time of his death in 1827, Blake had managed to complete 102 large sketches and watercolors inspired by the poem along with “copperplate versions of seven subjects chosen by Blake” that were mostly finished.  Following an argument with Blake’s wife over the payment for the engravings, Linnel was able to create prints from the plates.  The original set of prints in the collection of Sir Geoffrey Keynes were used to make the facsimiles in this book.

The full print shown here is of “The Circle of the Thieves” from lines 33-70 of Dante’s poem.  This image is made from one of the mostly finished plates and there are sketches and other engravings from early versions of the plate.  The image showing 4 sketches on one page are early versions of other prints from the book.  This work’s display of an artist’s process and changes in works over time illuminates the long process of arriving at a final work of art.

“The Circle of the Thieves” from lines 33-70 Preliminary sketches of engravings

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New Collection: Laura E. Hudson Petroleum and Geology Teaching Aid

This week the University of Tulsa Special Collections and Archives received a new collection from Laura E. Hudson. This collection consists of 115 handmade illustrated petroleum and geology flash cards. These cards were used by the Amoco Oil training center in Tulsa Oklahoma, between the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s. The flash cards are 12.75” x 8.5” and were used by instructors for training new incoming geologists and engineers that were new hires by the Amoco Oil Corporation.  The cards include quizzes, graphs, questions, chemical compositions, equations, interesting facts, etc all related to the study of Petroleum engineering. One of the facts listed on a card is “Petroleum is found in rocks from the Precambrian to the Pleistocene (very old to very young geological age rock).” If anyone is interested in viewing these cards they may be viewed on request in our Reading Room. The Special Collections is open Monday – Friday 8am-5pm.

Petroleum flash cards

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The Joyce of Cooking

Joyce of Cooking

Due to TU Special Collection’s vast amount of materials in the James Joyce collection, I find it only fitting that I introduce a cook book about James Joyce’s Dublin. The Joyce of Cooking written in 1986 by Alison Armstrong is an Irish Cookbook based on Joyce’s life and work related to a city he loved. Armstrong reviewed many of Joyce’s novels to create recipes based on the dishes described within his pages. She wrote this cookbook because of food’s strong connection to an individual’s life, especially in relation to memories. In the forward by Anthony Burgess, he states that “great writers love life, this being their subject-matter, and life is food as well as lust, hate and other innutritious things that come between meals.” Our department houses numerous cookbooks that are definitely worth a peek.

The Joyce of Cooking Table of Contents:

  1. For Starters
  2. Fat Soups
  3. Weggebobbles & Fruit: Vegetarian, Nutarian, Fruitarian Literary Aethereal Dishes
  4. Meats & Inners Organs of Beasts and Fowls
  5. Eggs & Fish
  6. Salads, Sauces & Relishes
  7. Sweets of Sin & Other Trifles
  8. Breads, Cakes & Good Pastry
  9. Off the Drink & On the Drink
  10. Lotions & Home Remedies
  11. For Breakfast, Dinner & Supper: Menus for Joycean Celebrations
  12. Epic Gastronomy

Pages 169 and 190 are pictured below:



This cookbook includes a brief excerpt of each recipe in Joyce’s novels, which shows Armstrong’s well-thought and unique spin to each dish.

I hope you enjoy!

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The London Illustrated News

London Illustrated News

The University of Tulsa Special Collections and Archives has many different texts, manuscripts and artifacts. In the collection is a series of bound newspapers, titled The London Illustrated News (LIN). This publication was established in May 1842 and continued in varying form until the early 21st century. The LIN was one of the most successful newspapers to be published in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Much of this success is owed to the LIN’s founder Herbert Ingram who had previously noted the public preference for news accompanied by images and caricatures.  The LIN hired many artists to work on the paper.  The London Illustrated News was the “first periodical to make extensive use of woodcuts and engravings and the first to use photographs”.1

As the paper continued to succeed and expand, it included stories not only about English social life but also more detailed stories about the arts, world news, literature, etc. The first issue from May 14, 1842 exhibits news stories covering the destruction of the city of Hamburgh by fire, brief Parliamentary proceedings, a very gruesomely detailed account of a Railway accident near Paris, war in Afghanistan, a steamboat explosion in the U.S., Paris fashions, theater productions, and most prominently Queen Victoria’s Masked Ball. Two full pages are dedicated to describing the costumes and festivities of the royal party. Eight illustrations accompany this story depicting the guests arrayed in costumes. Victoria was dressed at Queen Phillippa and Albert as Edward III.  The reporter notes that many of the costumes worn by the ladies and gentlemen attending the royal couple were chosen by the Queen herself, mostly characters representing noble or royal ancestry.

London Illustrated News - Queen's Ball

This early 19th century newspaper provides an illuminating view of Victorian society.  From a modern perspective this style of news is very different from our familiar digital snippets. The text in the LIN is much smaller and the stories themselves are longer and use more formal language but the information presented does cover a wide range of popular subjects. The TU Special Collections houses bound copies dating from 1842- 1886 consecutively and several later unbound issues.

  1. “Illustrated London News.” Britannica Academic.Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 8 Nov. 2010.http://academic.eb.com/levels/collegiate/article/42144. Accessed 16 Sep. 2016.

2. Bailey, Isabel. “Ingram, Herbert (1811–1860).” Isabel BaileyOxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Ed. David Cannadine. Oxford: OUP, 2004. 16 Sept. 2016 <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/14416>.

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Testing the blog platform.

Remebarance of the greatest war of history | Malta Souvenir

Remebarance of the greatest war of history | Malta Souvenir

As I have to test this, I might as well give us something to look at.

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Collections Find- Civil War Era Children’s Primers

Civil War Primers

      After being away from the Collections all summer it was nice to be able to peruse the Special Collections stacks again. I can always discover something new when looking through the bookshelves and archive boxes. This week I discovered two Children’s reading primers from the 1860s. What struck me about these two small volumes was the clear juxtaposition of Civil War loyalties being exhibited to young students. One primer is titled “The Union Pictorial Primer” and the other is titled “The Confederate First Reader”.  Seeing these two primary education textbooks, printed only two years apart, has vividly illustrated the depth of separation between the North and the South. It should be noted that the Union Primer is designed for very young readers while the Confederate Reader is geared for slightly older students.  From my own modern perspective, and being so far removed from the historical event, seeing these books side by side has added a greater reality and insight into the Civil War.

The Sanders Union Pictorial Primer: Introductory to the Union Readers by Charles W. Sanders, A.M. was published in New York in 1866. On the publication page verso, this primer was “entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866”; one year after the end of the war. The Union Primer text has several pro-Union features. The images on pages 12, 32, 44-45, and 47 all have references to the war and Union victory. On page 12 Children are dancing in front of a white robed female warrior figure holding the Union flag and the word “UNION” spelled out over her head, representing victory. Behind the victory figure is a Steam ship, train, farmer, and governmental building. The idea behind depicting these particular images is to be representative of the progress and prosperity that has come from the North winning the Civil War. Page 32 depicts a one-legged soldier dressed in a Union uniform. This page instructs young readers to be compassionate to the wounded soldiers. This image instills in in young readers the idea to be kind to all individuals in need but to also be particularly considerate to those who have fought for the North.

Union Primer

Pages 44 and 45 depict a large group of children at a picnic/festival. In the center background a ground of girls dance around a Union flag. The text accompanying this images references play and having a good time and eating a feast. The image on the opposite page shows the group leaving the picnic in a carriage with the Union flag being held aloft. The text references the fun day and then returning to their “Sweet Homes”. The flag in these images represents Union victory and this victory has made it possible for the children to have a day of enjoyment with games, good food and then the ability to go “home, sweet home”. On page 47 a parade of victorious Union soldiers are shown marching in front of a governmental building, which is adorned with Union flags, and cheering crowd. The text states the men have had a hard time at war and are now returning home. This image is descriptive of the collective excitement at the Northern victory and teaches young students to praise and accept the Union victory.

Union Primer

      The Confederate First Reader containing selection in Prose and Poetry as Reading exercises for the young children in the Schools and Families of the Confederate States was published in Richmond Virginia in 1864. On the publication page verso, it states that this particular volume was “entered according to the Act of Congress of the Confederate States in the year in 1864”, one year before the end of the war.  After reading through the preface and table of contents I did not discover anything that seemed overtly pro-South except for an advertisement on the back cover: “Now Ready, The Army Songster. Dedicated to the Army of Northern Virginia. The best collection of Songs published in the South”. The Confederate First Reader is mostly comprised of excerpts from Aesop’s Fables, Bible stories, and various short poems. This book is intended for students reading at a higher level than that of the Union Primer. I would be curious to see a pictorial primer from the Confederate side. This could provide a better comparison of ideologies presented to children during and right after the Civil War.

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Graduate Assistants

This past spring, we lost two of our Graduate (Administrative) Assistant, Joey Petross and Abhinaya K. Rangarajan to graduation. They had been with us for several years and were doing exemplary work and will be greatly missed. Joey, who received her Masters in History, had been processing the Marva Dawn and Dale Bruner Papers from the Welch Family Foundation Special Collection of Reformed and Renewal Theology of North America and Europe. Abhinaya had been working diligently on the F. Morris Lookout tapes.

We retained Hannah V. Johnson, a Masters student in Museum Studies. Hannah, among her many other duties will be taking up the Lookout tapes.

We would also like to welcome two new Assistants – Jennifer Murphy, a student in Communication Sciences and Disorders; and Amanda Vestal, a student in Museum Studies. Jennifer will be picking up on the Welch Family papers. We look forward to their time with us.

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World War Posters

As we enter the new academic year, and the third year of remembering the First World War, we should also remember how that war was sold to the people.  The University of Tulsa has in its collections over 250 propaganda posters, American, British and French.

World War One brought about the revolution in advertising and propaganda that formed much of the 20th century.

Our posters are visible on our digital collections site.  Please take a few minutes and look at them.


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Closed Monday, July 4, 2016

Fireworks over Washington, D.C.

Fireworks over Washington, D.C.

Special Collections will be closed on Monday, July 4, 2016, in observance of Independence Day. We will resume regular business hours on Tuesday, July 7, 2016. Have a safe and fun Fourth of July!


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The Great War, 1916: Bleed Them White

The Great War, 1916: Bleed Them White

The Great War, 1916: Bleed Them White

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives presents The Great War, 1916: Bleed Them White, an exhibit focusing on the third year of World War I. To honor the thousands of men who were injured or lost their lives during the ‘year of battles’, Special Collections has created an exhibit showcasing photographs, artefacts, and books focused on the three major battles: Verdun, Jutland, and the Somme.

Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, in uniform, undated. Credit: Library of Congress

Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, in uniform, undated. Credit: Library of Congress

The exhibit also focuses on key events that occurred in 1916, including Romania’s official entry into the war (and subsequent defeat) and the British surrender at Kut Al Amara, as well as highlighting important politicians of the day who were involved in the war effort. Great figures of the year have their own case, including major politicians and rulers like Franz Josef, as well as Marcelle Semmer, a brave Frenchwoman who received the Legion of Honor.

This exhibit will run from June 27 to September 16, 2016. Everyone is invited to come visit the exhibit. The Department of Special Collections and University Archives is open from 8 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday. It is free and open to the public.

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