Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

With the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, the staff of the University of Tulsa’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives would like to highlight some of its holdings pertaining Irish poets and writers, as well as its close relationship with prominent Irish figures. The literary and social contributions of these men and women are undeniable, and their legacies endure to this day. Our department holds a vast amount of materials related to late-19th and early 20th century Irish literary figures, as well as some of their contemporary counterparts.


Color portrait of James Joyce from the Paul and Lucie Léon Collection of James Joyce

Probably the most prominent figure in our collections is James Joyce. The broad spectrum of Joyce materials in our collections begin with the Richard Ellmann papers (1988.012). Ellmann was a prominent literary biographer who not only wrote the definitive biography of James Joyce, but also of Oscar Wilde and William Butler Yeats, Joyce’s fellow Irishmen. In addition to Ellmann’s Joyce-related materials, our department holds a substantial set of Joyce’s correspondence (1000.012) that includes handwritten letters, postcards and calling cards from James Joyce to Leon Paul Fargue, Mrs. Richard Hughes, Mlle Raymonde Linossier, Armand Petitjean, Sean O’Faolain, Charles Ogden, and Niall Sheridan. Rounding out our Joyce archival holdings is the Paul & Lucie Léon Collection of James Joyce (1984-005), which consists of correspondence between Paul and/or Lucie Léon and James Joyce and other friends, colleagues, and fellow Joyceans; page proofs for Finnegan’s Wake and page proofs for James Joyce and Paul Léon, the “Story of a Friendship” by Lucie Léon Noël; over 60 photographs and photo-negatives of James Joyce, the Léons, colleagues and friends, and Joyce family members; and a blue/white striped tie once belonging to James Joyce, a porcelain lion (a gift to the Léons from James Joyce), press cuttings pertaining to Joyce, theatre programs, exhibition announcements, and book seller catalogues. Our department also holds seven first editions of Joyce’s Ulysses. Our holdings pertaining to early 20th century Irish poets and writers are no limited to James Joyce. We have available numerous first editions of works by W.B. Yeats and Oscar Wilde.

1000-012-7-1Letter from James Joyce to Niall Sheridan from the James Joyce Correspondence Collection

Materials related to more contemporary Irish authors and poets have also found a place in our holdings. For example, our department holds the correspondence of Irish poet Richard Murphy (1988.014), who also spent some time at the University of Tulsa as a visiting professor. Murphy’s correspondence includes exchanges with, among others, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin and Sylvia Plath. Murphy has also graced the University of Tulsa by appearing as a McFarlin Fellows guest speaker. McFarlin Fellows and our department have also welcomed the late Seamus Heaney. Heaney, whose work embodies the spirit of contemporary Irish poetry, was the 1995 Nobel Laureate in Literature. Another contemporary Irish poet of prominence welcomed by our department is Paul Muldoon. A close friend of Heaney’s and a Pulitzer Prize winner in his own right, Muldoon has graced us with his reflections on his relationship with Heaney, as well as readings of his poetry. McFarlin Fellows has also welcomed Mary Robinson, the seventh President of Ireland and former High Commissioner for Human Rights for the United Nations. Robinson was also the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

 Seamus Heaney WorksSome of our Seamus Heaney original editions.

The University of Tulsa’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives is delighted to celebrate the contributions from these prominent Irish men and women.

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English Author Neil Gaiman Visits Special Collections

03-10-15 neil gaiman sm-101

English author Neil Gaiman paid a special visit yesterday afternoon to the Department of Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Tulsa. Gaiman is known for his novel American Gods, his Sandman graphic novels, and his children’s book Coraline, among many other literary works. Gaiman was in Tulsa for an event sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers at OSU-Tulsa, and took this opportunity to visit our department and take a look at an exhibit of our extensive collection of R.A. Lafferty materials. Lafferty, who passed away in 2002, was an Oklahoma science fiction writer. Gaiman credits Lafferty as one of his biggest influences and the reason he wanted to visit Tulsa. Gaiman is quoted as saying:

I’ve never been to Oklahoma. I’ve never been to Tulsa. And this is odd, because Tulsa has been, ever since I was about 19, the place in America that reeked of literary magic to me. I had plucked up my courage, and written a fan letter to R. A. Lafferty, from an address I found in the back of a book of authors in my local library. He was my favorite author in the whole world, and, months later (because the letter took a long time to find him) he wrote back. He told me how to become an author, and his advice was very good advice, and so I did. It left me quite certain that the finest literary advice in the world came from Tulsa, Oklahoma, for it did in my case.

Gaiman is a devoted admirer of Lafferty’s work, to the point that he wrote an obituary for the The Washington Post upon Lafferty’s death, expressing that Lafferty was “undoubtedly the finest writer of whatever it was that he did that ever there was. He was a genius, an oddball, a madman.”

The Lafferty materials examined by Gaiman included some of his correspondence, typed manuscript drafts of his published and unpublished works, a number of his photographs, fanzines that included his work, and some of his awards. Among these awards were a Japanese Seiun Award (1994), a Phoenix Award (1971), a Hugo Award (1973), and a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award (1990). Gaiman also perused some foreign editions of Lafferty’s works in Japanese, Dutch, Polish, German, French, Italian, and Spanish.
In addition to the Lafferty materials, Gaiman enjoyed the comic book exhibit on display at the department, which will be up until March 21st. The Special Collections staff was delighted to welcome Neil Gaiman to our facilities.

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R.A. Lafferty Materials on Exhibit

R.A. Lafferty

The University of Tulsa’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives is proud to contribute some of its materials to Oklahoma Writers–A Literary Tableau, a multi-venue author exhibit in the Brady District and beyond, organized by the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers at OSU-Tulsa and the Oklahoma History Center. This exhibit, on display from March 6th to April 16th, will be located at AHHA, the Woody Guthrie Center, Philbrook Downtown, the Henry Zarrow Center for Art and Education, Greenwood Cultural Center, and the Tulsa Historical Society. One of the featured authors will be the legendary Jim Thompson, author of The Killer Inside Me.

As part of the exhibit, our department will provide facsimiles of materials related to science fiction writer R.A. Lafferty. These materials include Lafferty’s US passport and his diploma from Christ the King Grammar School. The exhibit will also have a letter from R.A. Lafferty to English author Neil Gaiman. Lafferty contributed a poem titled “When the Music Breaks” to Gaiman’s 1986 poetry anthology Now we are Sick: an Anthology of Nasty Verse. A typed manuscript draft of the poem will also be shown. All these materials are part of the R.A. Lafferty Papers collection (1979.002).

Neil Gaiman will also appear as part of Tulsa Reads, a community-wide reading initiative jointly sponsored by the Tulsa City-County Library System, Tulsa Town Hall, the Tulsa World Media Company, and the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers. Gaiman, and admirer of Lafferty, will be receiving the Center’s Ambassador Award on March 10th at 7:00PM, at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center’s Chapman Music Hall. The Ambassador Award, first established in 1998, honors writers from around the world whose works reach beyond boundaries to address universal themes. In addition to sharing insights into his work, Gaiman will also be answering questions from the audience.

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McFarlin Fellows Event


            Last Thursday, February 26th, the University of Tulsa Department of Special Collections and University Archives and McFarlin Fellows hosted a reception and dinner honoring antiquarian book trader and founder of Tavistock Books, Vic Zoschak. The evening began with a cocktail reception at the Ann and Jack Graves Faculty Study, followed by dinner at the Pat and Arnold Brown Reading Room. After dinner, Zoschak presented his talk titled “The Antiquarian Book Trade: One Man’s Experience,” in which he gave a retrospective of his formation as an antiquarian bookseller.

After retiring as a US Coast Guard search and rescue pilot, Vic Zoschak Jr., entered the antiquarian book trade in 1989 by establishing Tavistock Books. He was accepted into the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) in 1995, and currently is serving his third term on the ABAA National Board of Governors.

Education has long been a priority for Zoschak, who advocates and promotes an annual rare book research workshop, now in its 12th year. In 2012, he established the Tavistock Books’ Educational Scholarship. The workshop and scholarship assist new booksellers launching their careers.

Zoschak, who graduated from the US Coast Guard Academy in 1974, holds an MBA from NYU and an MS in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle. Since 1998, he has attended over 20 courses at the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School, earning “The Student with Most RBS Courses Attended” designation.

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Abraham Lincoln-related Materials

This Thursday, February 12th we commemorate the birth of our 16th US President, Abraham Lincoln. As one of America’s most respected presidents, Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional and political crisis. In doing so, he preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the economy.


President Lincoln was assassinated early into his second term as president on April 14, 1865.  While attending a performance of the play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., along with the First Lady, and head Union general Ulysses S. Grant, Lincoln was mortally shot in the back of the head by John Wilkes Booth, a well-known actor and a Confederate spy from Maryland. President Lincoln passed away after nine hours in a coma, at 7:22 AM on April 15, 1865. After a twelve-day manhunt, Booth was shot and killed by Union Army Sergeant Boston Corbett.

As part of its vast holdings related to American history, the McFarlin Library’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives has the privilege of holding two invaluable items related to that fateful day in 1865. One is a forgery of the broadside playbill for “Our American Cousin” on the night of Lincoln’s assassination printed a few days after the assassination. The genuine playbill did not mention Abraham Lincoln’s attendance, since it was only announced on the same day. This forgery was probably created in order to extoll money from unwitting collectors.

Additionally, our department holds a piece of the wallpaper that adorned the walls of the balcony on which President Lincoln was assassinated. This artifact is framed along with a manuscript inscription that reads “A piece of paper hangings detached from the box in which our President was assassinated. F.L. President Lincoln.”


Our patrons also enjoy looking at the texts from the James Alexander Veasey Library. This personal library contains numerous volumes on the history of President Lincoln, the Civil War, and President Ulysses S. Grant. One of the most interesting books found in this library is a 1868 first edition of the history of the United State Secret Service.

McFarlin Library’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives invited our students, faculty and general public to take a look at these pieces of American history.

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Harper Lee Announces New Novel

Books Harper Lee

Last Spring, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives was glad to find out that Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and classic of Modern American literature To Kill a Mockingbird was to be re-released in digital and audiobook formats. In related news, the Associated Press announced yesterday that Lee’s unpublished novel, Go Set a Watchman, is scheduled to be released on July 14.

In a statement released by the writer herself, she says, “In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called Go Set a Watchman. It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman, and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, persuaded me to write a novel (what became To Kill a Mockingbird) from the point of view of the young Scout. I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told. I hadn’t realized it (the original book) had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it. After much thought and hesitation, I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.”

Although written before To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman appears to be a de facto sequel to Harper’s masterpiece. According to the Associated Press, “the new book is set in Maycomb during the mid-1950s, 20 years after To Kill a Mockingbird and roughly contemporaneous with the time that Lee was writing the story. The civil rights movement was taking hold in her home state. The Supreme Court had ruled unanimously in 1954 that segregated schools were unconstitutional, and the arrest of Rosa Parks in 1955 led to the yearlong Montgomery bus boycott.”

“Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father, Atticus,” the publisher’s announcement reads. “She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.”

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McFarlin Library History

Throughout The University of Tulsa’s history, the University has embraced the importance of a library to the academic community.  In the First Annual Catalogueof Henry Kendall College, Muskogee, Indian Territory, 1894, a page was set aside declaring the needs of the college. The first need was scholarships — $100.00 would pay all expenses for one student for one year.  The second read:

The Library stands greatly in need of reference books, especially in history, science and English language and literature.  The college greatly needs $500 for library purposes.  One hundred dollars just at this time would relieve a part of the extreme necessity. An endowment fund would advance the work greatly.

McFarlin History By 1901, the library, a room in the administration building, contained 1200 books. When the University moved to Tulsa, and to its eventual home, three miles east of town, a room was set aside in the administration building, later Kendall Hall, to house the growing collection of volumes.

By 1928, The University of Tulsa had 16,000 books and was in desperate need of a dedicated facility to serve the student population.

robertmcmarlin_img2 McFarlin Library was the first of the three new buildings to be erected at The University of Tulsa and it was selected as the central feature. The library became the focal point of the campus and dictated the future growth of the campus. Robert M. McFarlin and his wife, Ida Mae Barnard McFarlin, donated the structure, as well as the book stacks and the furnishings. McFarlin, a successful Tulsa oilman and rancher, was well-known for his contributions towards church and educational memorial buildings.

mcfarlin_history_img3 At the groundbreaking for the new library, on May 3, 1929, John Rogers, a University Trustee, stated “this building will be probably the most important on the campus for it is in reading and in books that our finest wisdom is stored.”

The building was designed by Henry C. Hibbs, a Nashville architect.

mcfarlinhistory_img4 After a year, the building standing at the head of the ‘U’, designed by Henry C. Hibbs and built by Bellows Construction, was complete.

At the dedication, on June 1, 1930, guest speaker J. L. Rader, University of Oklahoma Librarian, proclaimed  “the library is the only unbiased force left in the world. The library is the only place where one in quest of knowledge may go and pursue his studies without outside influences being brought to shape his opinion. The library presents every side of a question without itself taking sides, leaving the reader to form his own opinions.”



The new McFarlin Library was dedicated by L. S. McLeod, Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, with the following words:

In memory of those great teachers and scholars who
have labored through the centuries, and have
bequeathed to us in written form the fruits of their toil
We dedicate this building
In memory of those who believed in wisdom and
righteousness and who founded this fellowship of
teachers and students
We dedicate this building
That comradeship here may be found, scholars of all
interests, masters and disciples in the way of learning,
people of the school and people of the city, sharing
together the treasures of learning
We dedicate this building.
Aerial view of the university One area that made the library popular with the students was the Browsing Room, a place where students could actually place their hands on a book, without having to have it paged from the closed stacks by a staff member.

The circulation desk, as well as the place where books were paged from was situated just inside the main entrance, now the West entrance, beneath the first arch as you enter.

Browsing1930s Over the years, as TU’s educational offerings expanded so did the need for a larger library that could support more undergraduate and graduate programs. The five-story addition on the east side of the original building was funded by the Chapman-McFarlin interests in 1967 and doubled the library’s usable space. This addition provided the space for additional research materials to support new Ph.D. programs in English and engineering.

university library However the needs of the library and university continued to grow, and in 1979 the library dedicated its second addition. Coinciding with the acquisition of the one millionth volume added to the library, the new addition extended McFarlin Library to the west. This innovative three floor underground addition provided new stacks areas as well as new study space for the student body. A new sunken central courtyard created an attractive outdoor space and provided natural lighting for adjacent study areas.

McFarlin Library celebrated its 75th Anniversary with a variety of events that included an open house during homecoming and an event in April 2005 featuring Richard West, founding Director of the National Museum of the American Indian. Thomas Staley, Director of the Harry Ransom Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin spoke at the official rededication ceremony on June 1, 2005.

mcfarlinhistory_dean-photo_img9 In February 2007, McFarlin Library welcomed its first Robert and Ida McFarlin Dean of the Library, Adrian Alexander. In September 2009 the building was rededicated to celebrate the addition of the Pauline M. Walter Technology Resources Center, as well as to unveil a host of renovations to the older building intended to encourage the use of McFarlin Library as an academic commons for the campus.

The future of the Library is as yet unwritten, but McFarlin Library will continue to play a pivotal role in both the academic and social life of The University of Tulsa.



Logsdon, Guy W. The University of Tulsa. Norman, Ok: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977.

Olsen, Claire, ed. Pi Alpha Mu’s History of the University of Tulsa, 1935-1958. Tulsa, Ok: University of Tulsa Press, 1958.

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History of the Satin Rare Book Room

The Jack and Tybie Davis Satin Rare Book Room was originally, simply, the Rare Book Room when the 1967 east wing was built onto the McFarlin Library building.  During the planning stages for the new building, then president Ben Henneke questioned the need for a Rare Books Room, but acceded to the advice of friend to the University, Pauline Walter.  The appearance of the room has changed somewhat over the years.

The 1970s to the early 1980s

Satin Room StudyInitially, the Rare Book Room held the rare book collection, and offered scholars a place to study those materials in comfort. The alcove to the side was intended to be the librarian’s office. The rare books collections soon outgrew the room, and the manuscript collections pushed into the rest of the 5th floor. Eventually, the staff began to office in the current office area (although with a dramatically different configuration). The Rare Book Room was still used for readers at this time, although occasional events were scheduled in there as well.

satinroom_img2 Departments such as these functions are much like the laboratory required by the student of the physical sciences. Instead of test tubes, chemicals and sophisticated measuring devices, the student of literature and history can turn to those unique expressions found in manuscripts, correspondences, physical artifacts, or often to the transmission of text found in bound editions. In some cases these can be blended when a particular edition was owned by, and often annotated, by the individual or during the events being researched.


satinimg_4 It is therefore part of the role of the Department to place the user in contact with those materials that can reach their needs, while at the same time protecting and preserving those same materials for the future.



satinroom_img5 By the late 1970s, it was becoming obvious that the room, as it existed at that time, was inadequate as designed for a modern special collections department reading room.



1/23/2015 reading room

On 30 September 1980, the Department was renamed the Jack H. and Tybie Davis Satin Rare Book Room. It was about this time that the “fishbowl” reading rooms were built  elsewhere in the department, and the Satin Room was adapted for use as a classroom and event space. It is this configuration that most people tend to think of the room.

The 1980s and 1990s

satinroom_img7 In 1984, Joan Skelly Stuart donated $28,000 in antiques and artwork to the University, including the Waterford crystal chandelier, and the round rosewood table (shown here). Over the next fifteen years, this room became a major, beloved showpiece for the university.


By 20083_Spec0, however, the Satin Room was showing sufficient wear   and tear to deserve a face-lift. Also by this time, the “fishbowl” reading rooms were obsolete, and were taking up far more space than they really warranted, so the decision  was made to remove them. Through the generosity of the Chapman Trust, the room was reconfigured once again into a more modern reading room for the Department of Special Collections, and fixed reading tables (based on those in the British Library) and large display cases were installed.

In 2006, the r1/23/2015 reading room2oom was closed for a few weeks as the old asbestos ceiling was stripped away, and in 2007 a modern fire suppression system and more security was added.

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History of Special Collections and University Archives

The University of Tulsa, and Henry Kendall College before it, collected many of the materials that eventually would become the foundation of the department, decades before Special Collections and University Archives was created to manage them.

alice robertson_history pageThe earliest extant collection began with Alice Mary Robertson’s gift of her personal library in the late 1920s and in 1931, the bequest of her personal and family papers. Miss Robertson was a granddaughter of Samuel A. Worcester, a missionary to the Cherokee before the Trail of Tears. Her parents were missionaries to the Creek. Miss Robertson taught in mission schools, served as Postmistress of Muskogee, Oklahoma, and was the second woman elected to the United States Congress (1920-1922). Her personal and family papers provide important documentation of Cherokee,Creek, and Oklahoma history, and her bequest established a direction for collecting materials related to Native Americans that continues to this day.

In 1929-30, when the original part of McFarlin Library was built, the large room in the north end of the second floor (now the Student Study) was planned as a museum space to showcase Alice Robertson’s Native American artifacts. Other collections were also acquired to populate the museum. Among these were the Ellis Clark Soper Collection that included Civil War artifacts and western Americana, the Bright Roddy Collection made up of Navajo weaving and beadwork, and the James Wolfe Collection comprised of artifacts from Borneo.

The museum did not survive the 1930s, and while some of these materials have moved on to other collections elsewhere, many of the items have remained in Special Collections.

In 1975, former Tulsa businessman John W. Shleppey considerably enriched these holdings with his bequest of books and manuscripts by and about Native Americans which he had collected over his lifetime. The collection contained 6,000 books, including many rare volumes. In 1989, Special Collections’ Cherokee-related holdings were extended with the gift of the J. B. Milam Library of nearly 2,000 volumes. Milam served as Principal Chief of the Cherokee nation from 1941 to his death in 1949.


A second collecting direction began with a series of gifts in the early 1960s by members of the Tulsa Bibliophiles, a group of collectors active during the 1950s. As a group, the Bibliophiles set themselves the challenge of collecting Walt Whitman which they donated to the University in 1965. One Bibliophile, Rush Greenslade, gave his splendid collection of Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Scott, and 17th and 18th century editions of English writers. These two gifts established a base for more intense collecting of American and British literature to support a doctoral program established in the 1960s. During this same period, several collections were purchased from bookseller and collector John Bennett Shaw.

Special Collections began adding manuscript collections in the 1970s with the library and personal papers of literary critic Cyril Connolly. The manuscripts now take up over 2000 linear feet.

Today Special Collections houses over 140,000 printed books, and over 14,000 linear feet of manuscripts, music, photographic collections, ancient Native American pottery, artwork, etc. many of which may be found on the Library Catalog.

While Special Collections materials must be used in department reading rooms, these rich resources are available to all students and staff of the University as well as, without charge, to members of the public who would like to consult them. Visitors not familiar with the city of Tulsa will find it useful to consult Advice to Visitors.

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University Web pages

The university is making some alterations to its web pages. In order to maintain some of our information we are moving some of the Special Collections pages to the Blog.

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