1918: Pandemic exhibit now open

The University of Tulsa Department of Special Collections and University Archives has opened a new exhibit for the summer of 2018 titled 1918: Pandemic.

This exhibit focuses on 1918, the final year of World War I. With American troops joining the Allied forces along the Western Front, Germany sees failure and catastrophic losses that lead to the nervous breakdown of its top general, and the collapse of an empire. With global travel the new norm, an influenza pandemic breaks out, killing millions with its devastation.

Meanwhile, Russia undergoes a radical transformation, the staggering geographic changes resulting from war itself become evident, and at last, armistice and hope for a peaceful future are visible along the horizon.

The exhibit is located in Special Collections, located on the 5th floor of McFarlin Library. It is open to everyone, including the public, from 8am to 4:30pm. Friday summer hours for the TU campus are observed, which means the exhibit room will close at 11:30am.

The exhibit runs through mid-September.

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July 4th closing

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives will be closed July 4th in observation of Independence Day in the United States.

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Bloomsday Irish Street Breakfast

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, Booksmart Tulsa, The Taven restaurant, the James Joyce Quarterly and Guthrie Green will host a Bloomsday Irish Brunch in the Brady Arts District in downtown Tulsa.

The event will take place in the cultural corridor (alley) behind The Tavern, and it will run from 11:00am to 1:00pm. Enjoy an authentic Irish brunch, drinks, live Irish music, theatrical performances, readings, prizes, giveaways and a surprise art event.

The highlight of the day is the official unveiling of a mural on the southeast end of the alley that celebrates Tulsa’s status as the world headquarters of Joyce studies.  The mural is apparently already up and this was George Kaiser Family Foundation’s idea to celebrate the James Joyce Quarterly’s 55-year history at The University of Tulsa and the return of the International James Joyce Foundation to the university

Each year on Bloomsday, June 16, people around the world celebrate one of the greatest works of modern literature: James Joyce’s Ulysses. Set on a single day in 1904 Dublin, the book follows in careful detail the rather uneventful life of Leopold Bloom, an Irish-Jew and advertising salesman whose wife is planning an affair. Bloom rises, eats breakfast, wanders the city, attends a funeral, reduces the son of a friend after a fight with a British soldier, and finally goes home to fall asleep in the bed where he can still detect the imprint of his wife’s lover. In Joyce’s hands, these otherwise unremarkable events take on mythic import as Bloom becomes a modern-day Odysseus, the Greek hero whose cunning and courage brought him safely home across a sea of dangers. Ulysses is thus a book about the terrors and triumphs of everyday life as well as the individual acts of heroism found in the simple act of living.

The book is known for its rigorous yet moving honesty. Its sexually explicit passages led the U.S. government to ban Ulysses in 1920, a decision that remained in place until a 1933 ruling declared it a work of art. We now celebrate Joyce and his humane vision of the world each year on Bloomsday.

For over 50 years, The University of Tulsa has been a vibrant center for the study of Joyce thanks to its publication of the James Joyce Quarterly and the rich holdings of TU’s McFarlin Library, The Department of Special Collections make of one of the five leading collections in Joyceana.

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Summer hour changes

For the months of June and July, The University of Tulsa is closing at 12.00 on Fridays.  Therefore, Special Collections will also be closed on Friday afternoons.

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Due to Unavoidable Circumstances Special Collections will be Closed Monday, June 4, 2018

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Special Collections is closing at 10:45am for the long weekend

The University of Tulsa Department of Special Collections and University Archives will be closing today, Thursday, May 24, at 10:45am, for the annual staff picnic. Campus will be closing at 2pm for the long Memorial Day Weekend.

We will reopen on Tuesday, May 29, at our usual time of 8am.

Please note that starting June 1st, the department will close on Fridays at noon.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Semester’s End

From L-R, Jennifer Murphy, Amanda Vestal, and Emily Caselman

With the end of the current Semester, we bid a farewell to our three Graduate Assistants for the 2017-2018 Academic year: Jennifer Murphy, Amanda Vestal, and Emily Caselman.  Jennifer and Amanda are graduating, and Emily is moving to a new assistantship elsewhere.  We are sorry to see them go, but all things change.

Concurrently, we are inaugurating some other changes with our new Special Collections web pages, which we hope will be easier for people to use, and will definitely be easier for us to update and make corrections.

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McFarlin Fellows Dinner April 12, 2018: WWI and Institutional Memory

Last night was the final McFarlin Fellows Dinner of the school year. As my last one I will attend, it was both fun and a little bittersweet. My fellow Graduate Assistants and I invited the two new students who will take over our positions next year. It was really great to get to introduce them to some of the donors and to get to know them a bit.  The evening was a nice send off for us and a wonderful welcome for the new Graduate Assistants.

Dr. Jeff Drouin

The delightful dinner prepared by Chef Tim Anderson and served by the lovely catering staff was followed by a lecture given by Dr. Jeff Drouin. Dr. Drouin is an associate professor in the English department at The University of Tulsa. He studies British and Irish modernist literature and the impact that the First World War had on them. In his lecture, Dr. Drouin addressed the impressive WWI holdings that McFarlin Special Collections has and the many projects that he and his students have done with them. Dr. Drouin is interested in the digital humanities and how these can help us learn more about archival holdings and to help research be spread more widely. One of the projects he discussed was a study that he and his students did of T.S. Eliot’s poem The Wasteland. They utilized two different publications of the poems that Special Collections holds, the original British and the original American publications. They used digital mapping systems to analyze how the poem incorporated aspects of different religious traditions and how those belief systems are related to one another. They then turned their focus to how the poem fit in with the other writings in the periodicals in which they were published. The students displayed the different places that contributors were from by mapping their locations out on Google maps in order to explore any relations between the authors, their locations, and their inspirations for their works.

The McFarlin Fellows are an important part of the library that help sustain our collections through their tireless efforts.


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Sherlockiana: the infatuation with Sherlock Holmes

Throughout recent history, people always seem to be intrigued with mystery. Whether it’s a simple mystery of who ate the last cookie, when one child still has crumbs on their face, or a complex mystery that takes story-boards and focus to solve. Mystery as a genre has been around since the early 1800s. Prior to this, there was a lack of organized police forces. However, with the industrial revolution and crowded cities popping up, an organized crime solving unit became necessary. And so began the fictionalization and infatuation.

Most people who are interested in mystery and crime novels can tell you their favorites, be it the Pendergast series, The Godfather, or other lesser-known literary works. However, it almost always holds true that they can tell you at least something about Sherlock Holmes.

One of the Sherlock Novels!


Holmes is a fictional private detective that was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle wrote four primary novels about the endeavors of Sherlock Holmes. In the novels, Holmes uses his skills to solve crimes as what he calls a “consulting detective”. He regularly works on cases that he becomes interested in due to their complexity, and he is usually employed by a client, often times the Scotland Yard.

Holmes ability to separate fact and fiction, and constantly let no detail escape him made him one of the most recognized characters of all time. After Doyle’s books, he also wrote several short stories in which Holmes solved smaller crimes, usually with his trusty sidekick Dr. Watson. Recently, multiple movies have been released centered around Sherlock Holmes as well as a Television series and a Netflix series. There is even an animated film that was just released called “Sherlock Gnomes”, which portrays Holmes as a Gnome trying to solve a mystery of a disappearance.

Sherlockiana Quarterly

Aside from this, there is also an entire community that celebrates Holmes much in the way “Trekkies” celebrate Star Trek. They have conventions, clubs, and other events in which they come together to celebrate their appreciation of Sherlock Holmes as a character and a professional. Here is Special Collections, we have the Jack Powell Collection of Sherlockiana. This collection consists of photographs, event programs, convention announcements, book lists, club publications, actual books, and much more. In the photo here, you can see one of the copies of the Baker Street Journal, the quarterly publication of those in the Sherlockiana community. Within this journal, people dive into the actual life of Sherlock Holmes, and talk about him as a character and real person. This is just one of the many things you can find in the Jack Powell Collection. The collection inventory can be viewed online at https://utulsa.as.atlas-sys.com/repositories/2/resources/475. If something happens to spark your interest, you can always come see us in Special Collections Monday-Thursday 8:00-4:30, and Friday 8:00-11:30. The Sherlockiana collection spans multiple boxes and books and is sure to intrigue any Sherlock enthusiast, while leaving you yearning for more!

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From Beyond the Unknown: Books and magazines from The Jack C. Rae Science Fiction Library

Original cover art by EMSH (Ed Emshwiller) for the August 1952 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories — with text added by the exhibit curator.

The timing of this exhibit, albeit unintentional,  is fitting really, because it was two years ago — almost to the day — that Special Collections was the recipient of a huge and “out of this world” gift of the science fiction library of Oklahoma native, Jack Curnutt Rea (1925-2016).

I must be honest with you — I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a sci-fi aficionado (TV and movies, sometimes; reading, almost never) — but,  it was the artwork that hooked me.  As I perused Mr. Rae’s extensive library (and I do mean extensive, featuring hardback and paperback books and magazines from the 1920’s to the present) looking for titles and dust jackets that I found visually interesting, a larger picture began forming.   What seemed, at first, to be disparate stacks of books and magazines —  a scattering of puzzle pieces — came into focus:  what I had before me was a visual narrative of the transformation of  imagery and graphic styles over the years during the cultural and technological (r)evolutions of the 1920’s through the 1960’s.

We each find our own particular area of fascination — that one thing that excites our neurons.  Here’s how Mr. Rae described how he got hooked on science fiction:

During the time we lived on the farm, we were so poor that I had relatively little reading material other than school books.  I remember that I usually received a book or two as Christmas presents….One year, however, I fell into somewhat of an unexpected jackpot of reading….

One of Jack’s relatives gave him a partially used membership card to the nearby library where Jack read everything he could until the membership ran out.

…Some of the books I read then probably had an effect on my tastes in reading for the remainder of my life…they had…books by Edgar Rice Burroughs in his ‘John Carter of Mars’ series.  I read these and liked them, which probably pointed me in the direction of Science Fiction that has constituted the vast majority of my fiction reading during my lifetime….

Excerpt from “A Chronology of My Life” by Jack C. Rea

We hope you will make the trek to the Department of Special Collections to view the selection of books and magazines from the Rea collection currently on exhibit.  To fully appreciate the scope of the Rea collection, you may also wish to visit McFarlin Library’s online catalog at  http://library.utulsa.edu/search/X?SEARCH=(jack%20c.%20rea%20science)&SORT=D

Jack Rea’s personal bookplate.


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