Banned Books: Winnie The Pooh

Winnie-the-Pooh, also known as Pooh Bear, is an anthropomorphic teddy bear that fumbles through life’s adventurous accompanied by his fellow anthropomorphic friends and the young English boy, Christopher Robin. The first collection of stories featuring Pooh bear were Winnie-The-Pooh published in 1926, and The House at Pooh Corner published in 1928. Milne’s stories have been translated into many languages and published around the world. The most famous translation was Alexander Lenard’s Latin translation Winnie ille Pu. In 1961 Daphne Milne released the stories’ copyright licenses to Disney. Since 1966 Disney has released numerous animated productions starring Winnie the Pooh and his friends, including a television series and four feature-length movies; The Tigger Movie, Piglet’s Big Movie, Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, and Winnie-The- Pooh.

With the popularity of the books, characters, movies, and merchandise it is hard to find a child in America who does not know Pooh bear. Pooh’s legacy in popular culture is world-wide. He is so popular in Poland and Budapest that streets have been named after him.  Amazingly, though, Winnie-The-Pooh has faced hard criticism since its publication in 1926. To this day, Milne’s stories sit at number 22 on the American Library Association’s top 100 banned books list. Like Alice-in Wonderland, Winnie-the-Pooh has been challenged by religious groups because the animal characters can speak and act on the same level as their human counterpart Christopher Robin. As shown in many book challenging cases the idea of talking animals has been cited as an abomination in the site of God.

Most fans of Winnie-The-Pooh will fondly remember Pooh Bear’s closest friend Piglet. Piglet is a nervous, and generally timid, pink pig that often finds his courage in the nick of time to save his dear friends from one catastrophe or another. Unfortunately, Piglet seems to have rubbed some readers the wrong way. In the United Kingdom, Winnie-The-Pooh along with Charlottes Web and The Little Pigs nursery rhyme were banned from public schools because the talking pig characters might offend Muslim and Jewish students who abstain from pork as part of their religions. Fortunately in recent years, the Muslim Council of Britain formally requested an end to the “well intentioned but misguided policy” and for all the materials to be returned to classroom shelves.

The most interesting case of Winnie-The-Pooh’s banning happened in 2009 in Russia. In a report from the Wall Street Journal “Russia’s Justice Ministry placed the book on a list of banned material and labeled it pro-Nazi because a depiction of Pooh bear wearing a swastika was discovered among the personal possessions of a known political extremist. If one extremist was in possession of a Nazi Pooh, the local courts concluded, then it stood to reason that others may follow suit” ( So, to this day Russian children cannot have access to the Milne tales without strict consequences.

To read more on why Winnie-The-Pooh has been challenged and banned throughout the world visit this site. And remember to check back next week to find out why the many beloved fairytales by the Brothers Grimm have been challenged and deemed far too violent for young audiences.

You can visit the Banned Children’s Books exhibit at the Department of Special Collections and University Archives located on the 5th floor of McFarlin library, we are open Monday-Friday, 8-5.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Banned Books: Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a novel published in 1865 written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. “It tells of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children” ( Alice in Wonderland has been adapted into many theatrical and screen versions, most famously, Walt Disney’s version produced in 1951. The novel was recently turned into a television series on ABC titled Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. The novel was also referred to in Jefferson Airplane’s famous song “White Rabbit”.

Although it is evident that the story has held popularity with children and adults for many years, Dodgson’s work has been challenged and banned multiple times since its publication. The novel is most often challenged for its alleged promotion of drug use. The most controversial scene takes place after Alice enters Wonderland and meets the philosophic caterpillar. The caterpillar sits atop a mushroom, smoking a hookah, offering Alice advice on how to find the white rabbit. He also provides Alice with a piece of the mushroom that will alter her size to help her on her journey. The presence of the hookah and the body altering and allegedly mind altering mushroom enraged academic institutions, parents, and religious groups. This outrage led to the book being banned in the United States during the 1960s.

In the early 1900s the state of New Hampshire banned the book from all public schools because the novel was accused of promoting sexual fantasies and masturbation. This accusation most likely refers to the questionable sexual activities of the author, not the novel’s content.

The novel has also been challenged for its use of talking animals, which were deemed an abomination in the sight of God by many religious institutions. In 1931 the Governor of the Hunan Province in China banned the book for the same reasons arguing that “animals should not use human language, and that it was disastrous to put animals and human beings on the same level”.  This accusation is a common defense for censorship of books, as you will see in our next blog on Winnie the Pooh.

To read more on why Alice in Wonderland is on the American Library Association’s top 100 banned books list click here.

To see our exhibit featuring Alice in Wonderland visit the Department of Special Collections located on the 5th floor of McFarlin library, open to the public Monday-Friday 8-5.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Recent Acquisition: Eric Gill’s The Four Gospels

The University of Tulsa’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives is proud to announce a very unique acquisition, a copy of Eric Gill’s The Four Gospels. The Four Gospels, cited as “one of the most handsome illustrated books of the 20th century”, was published by Golden Cockerel Press in 1931. The book is a wonderful example of artistic concepts and craftsmanship in book design and production in England between the 1890s and 1930s. One of only 488 copies ever printed, this exquisite book is considered one of Gill’s greatest achievements as an illustrator and one of the finest works produced by Golden Cockerel Press. In this edition the Gospels are brought to life in stunning woodcut illustrations.

“It is important for research libraries to collect books such as this because they represent a very specific way in which older literature, including classics and religious tracts, were interpreted in modern times”, said Adrian Alexander, TU’s R.M. & Ida McFarlin Dean of the Library.

To view this beautiful work please visit the Department of Special Collections located on the 5th floor of McFarlin library. We are open 8-5 Monday through Friday.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Now On Display: Banned Children’s Books

The University of Tulsa’s Department of Special Collections and University archives is proud to announce the opening of our new exhibit showcasing banned and challenged children’s books. The exhibit was designed and implemented by our graduate assistants Kristina Rosenthal and James Tindle. The posters and fliers advertising this exhibit were designed by Brancen Gregory. Brancen is one of our student workers here at Special Collections and has shown his great talent in graphic design. Thanks to his talents we are showcasing these advertisements throughout the buildings on campus.

Over the next 6 weeks we will be posting blogs featuring each book, or genre of books, that are currently on display. So check in next week to hear why Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll has been banned and challenged multiple times throughout the world since its publication in 1865.

Please visit our new exhibit now on display at Special Collections located on the 5th floor of McFarlin Library. We are open Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sherlock Holmes Copyright Decision

An Illinois district court judge recently ruled that the material contained in most of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s writings about the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, would indeed enter the public domain this year. According to a December 27th New York Times article, the Doyle estate was “exploring an appeal,” but an attorney for the estate asserted that “the ruling did not imperil any existing licensing agreements or the estate’s separate claims under trademark law.” The Holmes novels and short stories have been public domain material in the UK since 2000

Much of this controversy has arisen as a result of multiple contemporary interpretations of the pipe-puffing sleuth and his sidekick, Dr. John Watson, and opinions differ greatly about the value of these newer portrayals of the fabled characters. These differences will most likely gain even more momentum now that authors and production companies will not be required to pay for the right to reference or re-imagine the detective duo.

The only exception to this “open season” on Doyle’s work is any information contained in the 10 stories he published in and after 1923. Juicy tidbits such as Watson’s exploits playing rugby for Blackheath, Holmes’ second wife, and other details will be off-limits until 2022. This delay will obviously not deter avid fans from using the materials that ARE available, but they will have to carefully avoid referencing any events or characters from the forbidden 10.

Here in Special Collections, we have a wide array of Holmes materials, some of which are now in public domain, and others which are not.

The department houses three manuscript collections dealing with the deerstalker detective:

1)      The Jack Powell collection of Sherlock Holmes,

2)      The Stafford Davis collection of Sherlock Holmes archive, and

3)      The Sherlock Holmes collection

These contain Holmes memorabilia, manuscripts, and other related materials. In addition to the manuscript collections, the department also houses over 800 volumes of Holmes-related books, newsletters, and pamphlets. These works not only consist of the actual adventures penned by Doyle himself, but also include several literary analysis pieces examining the impact of the Holmes legend.

Posted in Collections, General, History, News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Dime Novels at Special Collections

The University of Tulsa’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives would like to announce the acquisition of two new dime novels to our holdings. Dime novels are a staple of American popular culture, and the precursors of today’s mass market paperbacks, comic books, and even television shows and movies based on the dime novel genres. In our mission to be the most effective and efficient research tool we can be for our users, our department holds numerous popular culture related materials. Among our many holdings related to popular culture, our department has an extensive collection of dime novels, including Westerns, religious, adventure, and suspense.

Among many others, our collection has a copy of the first dime novel ever published, Ann S. Stephens’ Malaeska, the Indian Wife of the White Hunter from 1860. The novel was essentially a reprint of Stephens’s earlier serial that appeared in the Ladies’ Companion magazine in February, March and April 1839. It sold more than 65,000 copies within the first few months of its publication as a dime novel. The dime novels varied in size, even within this first Beadle series, but were roughly 6 and 1/2 by 4 and 1/4 inches, with 100 pages. The first 28 were published without a cover illustration, in a salmon colored paper wrapper, but a woodblock print was added with issue 29, and reprints of the first 28 had an illustration added to the cover. Of course, the books were priced at ten cents, hence their name.


Malaeska; the Indian Wife of the White Hunter

Our most recent acquisition consists of two issues of Beadle’s Dime Novels from 1866, James L. Bowen’s The Maid of Wyoming, a Western, and Roger Starbuck’s The Lost Ship, a maritime-themed suspense thriller. Along with the other 4000-plus dime novels in our collection, these valuable pieces capture the beginnings of American popular culture. Although in the modern age “dime novel” has become a term to describe any quickly written, lurid potboiler and as such is generally used as a pejorative to describe a sensationalized yet superficial piece of written work, these books were integral in the early stages of American mass culture.

The University of Tulsa’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives is proud to hold these dime novels, and would like to invite our students, faculty and general public to come and take a look at these pieces of American history.

Posted in Acquisitions, Collections, History, Popular Culture | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Announcement: Welcoming Jenn Donner to Special Collections

The staff at Special Collections is very excited to announce the addition of a new special collections librarian, Jenn Donner. Jenn received a Bachelor’s degree in History from Lake Superior State in Michigan. After her Bachelors she worked to receive two graduate degrees. She earned her first Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University. Afterwards, Jenn moved to Tulsa where she earned her Master’s in Library and Information Studies from the University of Oklahoma. Jenn has been a volunteer at special collections for the last year. She spent her volunteer hours working on reclassifying our many rare books and performing data entry on the museum database TMS.  We are so lucky to have her join our staff full time this week.

Please join us in welcoming Jenn Donner as our new special collections librarian.

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

New Art Piece in McFarlin Library

The University of Tulsa’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives is proud to announce the display of the piece titled Peoria Avenue #7 by TU faculty member Mark Lewis. Professor Lewis, a graduate from the Kansas City Art Institute … Continue reading

More Galleries | Leave a comment

Doris Lessing, Nobel Prize Winner, Dies at 94

The University of Tulsa’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives is sad to announce that adored British author Doris Lessing passed away peacefully at her home in the early morning hours of Sunday November 17th. Lessing, who produced fifty-five works, including poetry, operas, and short stories, was 94 years old.

Lessing was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature for her life’s work in 2007. She was the eleventh female, and the oldest individual, to be awarded the prize. Lessing’s works focused on society, Southern Africa where she was raised, colonialism, race, and women’s role in society. Her most famous book, The Golden Notebook, is heralded as being a great classic of feminism.  Born in what is now Iran her family later moved to Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. Many of her works stem from her experiences in Africa, and the effects of empire on nation states. Until the age of fourteen she was educated at a Catholic girl’s school. She left home to work as a nursemaid at fifteen. While working she was introduced to literature that focused on society, politics, and reform. This period of her life was reflected in her works as an adult. Lessing’s first works were sold to magazines; by the time of her death over fifty of her novels had been published.

To read more on Lessing click here and here.

Posted in Collections, News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Samuel G. Kennedy Scrapbook

In 1891, Dr. Samuel Kennedy and his brother, Dr. James Kennedy, came to the Oklahoma Territory, which had recently opened for settlement, and set up a medical practice in the fledgling Village of Tulsa. The young doctors became the pioneer physicians and surgeons of the area, investing great amounts of time and energy in both their practice and the growing city of Tulsa. Samuel Kennedy married a woman of partial Osage ancestry, Agnes Lombard, and with her had seven children. The brothers retired from their highly successful practice in 1901, but continued to help grow and improve their adopted home town. Samuel entered the oil business after the discovery of black gold in the Tulsa area, acquiring an Osage lease with his partner, W.A. Springer.

Special Collections acquired a scrapbook from Dr. Samuel Kennedy’s family in 1990 which contains newspaper clippings, photographs, and published ephemera documents. This extensive trove of early Tulsa history primarily focuses on the activities of Dr. Kennedy and his family, but also includes carefully preserved obituaries of Kennedy’s friends and business contacts, news about the fledgling oil industry, and developments in downtown Tulsa. Dr. Kennedy and his son, Col. Joe E. Kennedy, painstakingly created the scrapbook, producing a fascinating summary of Tulsa in its formative years.

Posted in Acquisitions, Collections, General, History, News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment