Where did TU’s Picasso go?

Did you know that TU Special Collections has a lithographic print by Pablo Picasso in our artwork holdings?


Picasso’s 1969 depiction of a clown, titled “Portrait Imaginaire,” is number 242 of 250 prints that Picasso made of this design, and is a part of our Dame Rebecca West papers.

Beginning in 2011, the piece was displayed in the Lorton Performing Arts Center, with oil paintings by artists like Daniel Lang and Lawrence Paul.

Recently, two of our librarians overheard some members of staff asking: where was the famous Picasso? It wasn’t hanging in its usual spot in Lorton, and something else had gone up in its place.

The story behind the Picasso’s removal is a pretty typical one, and is an important example of why good conservation and stewardship are essential to making sure that future members of the TU family will be able to enjoy artwork from our collections.

Lithographic prints are different from paintings because the inks used to produce the image have no defense against fading, while oil paintings can tolerate slightly more UV exposure. It’s important to note, however, that sun will damage all artwork eventually, and that pieces must be treated with care to extend their longevity.

“Portrait Imaginaire” was enjoyed as a public display for 5 years. Unfortunately it had been hung in a spot on an east-facing wall where it received an hour of unfiltered sunlight every morning during that time. It was decided in January that the piece needed to be assessed by a paper conservator at the Helmerich Center for American Research in order to determine with certainty what levels of damage, if any, it had experienced.

The conclusion on the report we received was clear: the original mottling on the paper, as well as the ink colors, had experienced fading due to exposure to sunlight while it was on exhibit. The paper conservator’s professional recommendation was what we expected: the piece needed to be removed and placed in a dark space with archival buffers for a “rest period” so we could ensure that it would have a good continued “life”.


So where is the Picasso now? We have it placed in a large acid-free folder with several layers of archivally-safe “buffer” paper for both pH quality and physical safety, and stored where it can enjoy some time away from the spotlight—although we welcome visitors and researchers who want to view the piece in our Reading Room.

And what about the blank space?


Hanging on the same wall now is a piece by Igor Tulipanov showing Pushkin breathing inspiration into the mind of Baudelaire. This painting was donated to Special Collections by Professor Yevgeny Yevtushenko.

If you visit the Tulipanov at Lorton, you’ll see one of these peeking out on the wall:


This is a Blue Wool Scale UV-detection strip, commonly used in museums and archival settings. As the name suggests, the blue stripes are actually strips of wool dyed blue. These cards are placed vertically, with half the strips positioned behind the frame, and left there for three months. Our librarians will be periodically checking the colors on the card to see how they change and fade over time so that we can determine how much sunlight that particular wall receives.

As you can see, the missing Picasso is no great mystery at all. It’s taking a rest and allowing other pieces from our art collections to have their own turn at public exhibition.

Posted in artwork, Exhibits | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Special Collections Summer Hours

Starting May 9 and ending August 5, 2016, the hours of operations for McFarlin Library Special Collections and University Archives will be as follows:

Monday-Thursday                 8:00 AM-5:00 PM

Friday                                       8:00 AM-12:00 PM

Have a great summer!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tulsa Audubon Society Collection

Every year, Spring is ushered into our region with the warm winds, the slow turning of brown to green foliage, and the return of our fowl friends. Though never a serious birder myself, there is something comforting and exciting about catching that first glimpse of a robin, watching a hawk soar above, or seeing the tiny nest of a sparrow when it isn’t expected.



The University of Tulsa Special Collection has a vast and fascinating collection of Tulsa Audubon Society’s material (1990.004). Donated to the Society by William Koons and Anne Reynolds, the 62 boxes hold a treasure trove of information about the Society and its ornithological records from 1935-1990.

The  collection is organized into four series. Series 1 includes administrative papers and correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, event calendars, and the Society’s newsletter, the Scissortail.





Series 2  consists of bird observation records. It contains the bird records reported to the Tulsa Audubon Society Recorder as one of the society’s activities. It also contains the Recorder’s annual reports, Christmas bird counts, Big Day bird counts, backyard birder and summer census.

Series 3 includes the files of observer’s field notes that were sent to the Recorder. They are filed by year and are the source of the records in Series 2.

Last, but most certainly not least, Series 4 consists of the papers and bird records donated to the Society by members who were particularly active in the work of the society; William H. Koons (1923-1937); Anne L. Reynolds (1953-1982); Elizabeth C. Hayes (1955-1991); Pauline B. Keating (1967-1982); and Hugh S. Davis (1930-1948).



The Tulsa Audubon Society Collection is housed off-site, so Special Collections requires a request for the materials at least 24 hours in advance. The department is open Monday through Friday, 8AM-5PM (check for holiday and summer hours by calling 918-631-2496 or emailing speccoll@utulsa.edu).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

James Ronda Jazz Library

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives has received the James Ronda Jazz library and the James Ronda Library over a period of time now. The Special Collections librarians have completed cataloging the collections this week,and they will be available for reference on request through our online catalog. The jazz library has a spectacular collection of books on history of jazz, and famous jazz artists among others.

James P. Ronda, H.G. Barnard Professor of West American History at the University of Tulsa, has written several books about the Lewis and Clark expedition, most notably Lewis and Clark Among the Indians. Professor Ronda has also drawn admiration for his histories of the American West. Ronda has supervised major exhibits at the Library of Congress and lectured in its Great Hall.

A past President of the Western History Association, Ronda has also worked as a on-camera adviser for C-SPAN, BBC, and PBS, and was recently named to serve on the Advisory Committee of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello. In addition to an active research and writing career, Professor Ronda has been a consultant for many museum projects, including the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Great Falls, Montana; the Washington State Historical Society’s“The Army Explores the West” exhibition; the Library of Congress Lewis and Clark Exploration exhibition; and as a member of the board of advisors, for the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Exhibition. It is worthwhile to note that University of Tulsa McFarlin Fellows has invited Professor Ronda to present lectures at the Fellows events in the past.

In addition to the libraries acquired, Special Collections also acquired a huge collection of jazz records which are processed and available for reference for patrons.


Past Fellow Speakers and Programs




Posted in Acquisitions, Collections, General, Guide to Literary and Related Materials, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

University negatives update

Special Collections has been working hard to digitize our immense archive of university negatives from the 1940s through the 1960s. It’s quite a collection, and includes cherished buildings, lawn parties on the Old U, images of North Campus in the early days, and plenty of students. These photographs of the men’s swim team date to the late 1940s or very early 1950s, judging from the golfing apparel in the surrounding photographs.


As we continue to work on these photographs, we’ll add periodic updates. We’re also working to place these images on our ContentDM site, and you can see the progress we’re making at this link.

Happy Friday, and enjoy the weekend!

Posted in Digital Collections | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alice Welford Archive

Alice Welford's silver Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve badge.  She received this when she was promoted to Nursing sister.

Alice Welford’s silver Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve badge. She received this when she was promoted to Nursing sister.

In 2010, the Department of Special Collections acquired a nursing journal and photograph album that belonged to Sister Alice Welford, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve, during the First World War. The Alice Welford Archive. Coll No. 2010.064 has just been digitized and may be seen in our digital collections here.

Alice Welford was born in Crathorne, Yorkshire in 1887 and came from a long line of shoemakers. She began training as a nurse in 1908 according to an article about her written by members of her family. In 1910, she began training as a probationary nurse at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. The journal in the collection contains her notes from this training, as well as other notes she had added later on. At the end of October, 1913, she was advanced from Probationary status, and in November of 1914 she graduated 17th out of the 24 in her class.

Alice Welford and her friend E.M. Constable posing in their kit bags. 2010-064-1-1-2

Alice Welford and her friend E.M. Constable posing in their kit bags. 2010-064-1-1-2

She applied for a passport and to join the Queen Alexandra Imperial Nursing Service. The QAINS was the Army nursing corps. In 1915, she was accepted and was transferred to a military hospital at Europa Point, Gibralter, where the photograph album begins, in June. We first see her with her friend E. M. Constable, aka “Connie,” almost certainly Sister Edith May Constable. Most of the images are described and some have specific dates. She has numerous pictures of the people she worked with and the patients. Some of the pictures she may have taken, others clearly she didn’t, for example the trench pictures that may be from Gallipoli.

Alice Welford and friend at Gibraltar.  2010-064-1-28-2

Alice Welford and friend at Gibraltar. 2010-064-1-28-2

In February of 1916 she was transferred to St. Ignatius Hospital in Malta (Connie was apparently sent to St. Andrews on Malta). There she served until being transferred to Salonika in July 1917. While at Salonika, her brother was killed at Arras.

In January 1918 she was transferred again, this time to Basra, arriving there on the 8th. A week later, on 15 January 1918, while en route to a welcoming dinner party at a place called Mohommerah, the motor launch she was riding in was sliced in two by a steam tug. Sister Alice Welford, two other nurses and a VAD drowned in the Shatt al-Arab waterway south of the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. She was buried there, in Basra, in the Makina Cemetery, Line G, Grave I.G.13.

What is probably the last image made of Alice Welford, as she is dressed for traveling and is the final picture in the album.  This would be July 1917, and was taken in the Garden at St. Ignatius Hospital, Malta, best before she was sent to Salonika.  2010-064-1-46-2

What is probably the last image made of Alice Welford, as she is dressed for traveling and is the final picture in the album. This would be July 1917, and was taken in the Garden at St. Ignatius Hospital, Malta, best before she was sent to Salonika. 2010-064-1-46-2

There are several minor mysteries about this collection, not the least of which is why wasn’t this material with her autograph album which is now in the possession of the family. From the dating in the pictures, it’s possible that her effects were separated when she was transferred to Salonika. Interestingly, tucked in the album was a post card written to Sister Welford a few months after her death.  Another mystery is why she stopped writing descriptions in the album after April 1917.

The collection is important because it shows the lives of some of the women who were in the War, and as we are in the centenary of that conflict, it has become clear that the study of women’s roles has been tragically overlooked.

It should be noted that Sister Welford’s great-niece Valerie Watkins, and her husband peter, have kindly shared with me a copy of their article on Sister Welford: Watkins P, Watkins VJ. Alice Welford (1887-1918), a nurse in World War I: The impact of kindness and compassion. J Med Biogr. 2015 May 29.

Posted in Collections, History | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Acquisition

Woman Casualties of the Great War in Military Cemeteries.

Woman Casualties of the Great War in Military Cemeteries.

The Department of Special Collections has received this recently published booklet.  Lucy London, Women Casualties of the Great War in Military Cemeteries. Volume 1: Belgium and France. (D628.W66 2016).

This is the first of an expected series that will record the locations of the known British and Commonwealth women who died in the First World War in the battlefields, specifically nurses, VADs, Auxiliaries, YMCA workers and more.  There are a some American war cemeteries listed also.  It should be noted that these are the women who were buried in Belgium and France, and not necessarily those who were killed.  Edith Cavell, for example is not listed as she was buried in Britain.

Wenches in Trenches is a group that raises funds for memorials for the nurses and VADs who served, as well as other worthwhile charities.  They also have an annual walk through the battlefields of the western front.  They have a Facebook community page.

The author, Lucy London, has been working on, among other things, Female Poets and Forgotten Poets of WWI.  More about her can be found on her Facebook pages:

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives has been collecting World War I materials for the past thirty years.  One of the areas that entails is the medical history of the war as well.

Posted in Acquisitions | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More than Winnie the Pooh








The University of Tulsa Special Collections has several early editions of A.A. Milne’s children’s books, including a facsimile of Milne’s Winnie the Pooh manuscript. These charming and enduring characters are Milne’s most popular and well-known works.  Milne’s modern recognition comes from his children’s stories, and perhaps this modern fame is due in part to the interpretations and merchandising by Disney.

However, Milne wrote many other adult works that were popular with his contemporaries. His plays, novels, and poetry were widely read and produced during his lifetime, and a number of of his adult fiction and nonfiction works are also housed in the Special Collections. Unfortunately, his children’s works so eclipsed his other writings that eventually it prevented him from going further in his writing career despite his best efforts to move past it. Even Milne’s son, whom the character Christopher Robin was named after, struggled to move beyond the public perception of the book characters.  It is regrettable that Milne’s other works are not widely read today. These other stories reveal Milne’s subtle humor and engaging characters.


The Special Collections has a few first editions of Milne’s novels; Lovers in London (1905), Four Days Wonder (1933), and Chloe Marr (1946).

There are three first editions of Milne’s poetry; For the Luncheon Interval (1925), Behind the Lines (1940), and The Norman Church (1948).

There are also several first edition anthology volumes of his plays and literary articles; First Plays (1919), Not that is Matters (1919), Second Plays (1921),The Sunny Side (1921), Four Plays (1926), By Way of Introduction (1929), War with Honour (1940). The collection also contains a very rare first edition of Milne’s autobiographical work, When I was Very Young (1930).

Posted in literature, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Book Detektive – A one-volume police force

Not a typo—The Book Detektive by Beach Cooke and Christopher Morley is a funny little package one of our students discovered in our uncataloged section recently. Produced in 1938, it was likely intended as a lighthearted miniature lending library system.

It even looks like a book on the shelf, and folds out to reveal a multi-sectioned faux-leather case containing the various tools a book “detektive” needs to not only track the habits of reader-borrowers, but gracefully and politely make sure that every book finds its way home.


The first booklet is a means of keeping detailed track of who borrowed what and when (not exactly ethical behavior under ALA standards!) along with a humorous and fictional criminal trial between a book’s distraught owner and the borrower who didn’t return it on time.

Next there are forms to fill out, fold, and actually place on the owner’s home bookshelf as a placeholder to let the owner know the book isn’t missing but rather being lent out. The original pencil also comes with this set, and doesn’t appear to have ever been used.

Particularly funny are the sample letters the owner can write to ill-behaved borrowers in peculiar social situations:

Finally, the packet has a set of bookmarks to include whenever handing off a book to a friend. These are supposed to serve as a constant reminder of who the book really belongs to:


The Book Detektive is part of our donated Mary O’Brien collection. It’s currently uncataloged, but we are working to find new and interesting treasures like this one.

Posted in Collections, History | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

New Acquisition: The White Road to Verdun

The McFarlin Special Collections and University Archive recently acquired a 1916 edition of The White Road to Verdun by Kathleen Burke (D640.B88 1916 Undrz). Very little biographical information is known about Burke besides what she reveals in her recollections as a World War I nurse on the Western Front. Her work reveals not just details of nursing life on the front, but also insights into Allied soldiers’ experiences and feelings that they shared with their nurses. Written in an engaging manner, Burke’s account is an excellent addition to the department’s collection of World War I literature and material.

D640.B88 1916 Undrsz

D640.B88 1916 Undrsz

Special Collections began collecting World War I materials and literature in the 1990s and has more recently begun to focus on literature and materials about medicine in World War I. Collections of unpublished  letters and journals from doctors and nurses, as well as published works, both academic and personal in nature, are at the forefront of the impressive and growing World War I collection.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment