Preparing new World War I exhibits.

Sarah Gilcrease dressed in a World War I uniform

With the closing of the exhibit of “1914: The Beginning” based on the centenary of the start of the First World War, the department is currently working on several more displays. In the Satin Rare Book room, we will be opening next week “Henry Kendall College in World War I” which will run through the end of the semester. In the Lorton Performing Arts Center in early November we will be exhibiting, “War Stories: Materials from the First World War Collections of the Department of Special Collections and University Archives, McFarlin Library, The University of Tulsa.”

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This Week is Banned Books Week!!!


This week we are celebrating Banned Books Week. This event, organized by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and numerous writers and publishers, advocates for the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers.The banning of books is a fascinating socio-cultural phenomenon. Books have been banned because they challenge the status quo by questioning mainstream morality, taking a stance on a controversial issue, or simply by exposing the flaws of a dominating ideology. In all probability, the most criticized form of literature is the comic book. The University of Tulsa’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives holds over seven thousand comics in print, and hundreds more in microfiche. The latter include many titles from the 30s and 40s that would become controversial in 1954 with the publication of German-American psychiatrist Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent.

Wertham argued that comic books were a negative form of popular literature and a serious cause of juvenile delinquency. Some of his claims included that Batman and Robin incited homosexuality, that Wonder Woman would lead to lesbianism and women trying to dominate men, and that Superman was un-American and fascist. The book was taken seriously at the time, and was a minor bestseller that created a sort of panic in leading to a censorship campaign that almost suffocated the comic book industry. At the same time, a U.S. Congressional inquiry was launched into the comic book industry. Subsequent to the publication of Seduction of the Innocent, the Comics Code Authority was voluntarily established by publishers to self-censor their work, leading to the disappearance of hundreds of titles.
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Other comics in our collection have been banned for other reasons. Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman was deemed controversial in the mid-1980s, accused of showing “anti-family themes” and “offensive language,” thus being removed from a number of libraries. Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke has also been banned in a number of libraries because it “advocates rape and violence.” Also by Alan Moore, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier has been challenged as being “pornographic.” Notably, all these texts were bestsellers and were subsequently put back in circulation.

The three main collections held by our department are the E. Nelson Bridwell Collection (1989.001), the Comic Books in Microfiche Collection (1991.006), and the recently acquired Marc Carlson Popular Culture Materials Collection (2013.007), which is currently being processed and cataloged. These three collections cover the history of comic books, from their advent in the late thirties, to their status today as staples of popular culture. We invite our students, faculty and general community to visit us and help us celebrate Banned Books Week.


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New Aquisition: World War I Posters

Americans All

The University of Tulsa’s Department of Special Collections recently acquired over one hundred and thirty World War posters to add to our existing collection of propaganda and ephemera from this era. As part of the acquisition and cataloguing process, each poster has been photographed and included in the Special Collections and University Archives database. Interested parties can search the images and find information about their artist and publication via our digital collection.

World War I posters offer a fascinating glimpse into the concerns and attitudes of the day. Like any primary source, the World War posters serve multiple functions. As art pieces, these prints make use of bold graphics, saturated colors, and evocative symbols of patriotism and the home front. As propaganda, these posters employ strong language that encourages the viewer to support the war effort through personal and financial sacrifice as well as a sense of patriotic duty.

Some of the posters deal with the practical aspects of war like manpower and service to country through visual and textual messages that encourage men to enlist in the armed forces and women to become nurses or join the Red Cross. The movement of women from the home into the workplace that began in WWI helped pave the way for post-war suffrage and liberation efforts. Other posters illustrate the worries over food shortages in Europe (especially Belgium) and the ‘Near East’. These posters are especially effective due to their deployment of sentimental imagery and text that tells of the starving millions and their dependence on American generosity. Many of the posters rely on patriotic and nationalistic imagery, regardless of country. It is interesting to note how many of the American posters contain references to the Revolutionary War while many of the British examples emphasize Britain’s naval power.

“Do your bit!” is the overarching theme and it is explicitly stated in many of these pieces.  The idea of collective, patriotic action and other issues related to life on the home front and front lines will be explored throughout the University of Tulsa’s and the Special Collections and University Archives’ World War I related programming.

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New Acquisition: James Joyce’s “The Dead” illustrated by Robert Berry

The University of Tulsa and the McFarlin Library’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives would like to announce the acquisition of a new edition of James Joyce’s short story “The Dead.” “The Dead” is the final short story in Joyce’s 1914 collection Dubliners. This particular edition, published by Stoney Road Press, is illustrated by Detroit graphic artist Robert Berry, and has an introduction by Irish Independent Senator David Norris.

“The Dead” is the longest story in the collection and, at 15,672 words it has also been considered a novella by a number of critics. It was adapted as a one act play of the same name by Hugh Leonard in 1967. “The Dead” was made into an eponymous film in 1987, directed by John Huston. In 1999 it was adapted into a musical by Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey, originally starring Christopher Walken. With the benefit of Berry’s illustrations, this edition captures the essence of Joyce’s modernist experiment and adds a visual component to a masterpiece, creating a new kind of aesthetic experience for Joyce enthusiasts.


“The Dead” by James Joyce and illustrated by Robert Berry

The story revolves around the character of Gabriel Conroy on the night of the Morkan sisters’ annual dance and dinner in the first week of January 1904, perhaps the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6). Typical of the stories in Dubliners, “The Dead” develops towards the moment of painful self-awareness Joyce described as an epiphany, and explores the themes of routine, escape and the intersections of life and death. The narrative generally concentrates on Gabriel’s insecurities, his social awkwardness, and the defensive way he copes with his discomfort, culminating in Gabriel’s discovery that, through years of marriage, there was much he never knew of his wife’s past.

It should be noted that this is not Robert Berry’s first foray into the works of James Joyce. He is already well-known by Joyce scholars as the creator of the Ulysses “Seen” project, a digital comics adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses that serves as a gateway to comprehension, exploration, and explication of the great novel. Using a patent-pending digital screen structure, the comic provides an organizing principle for other kinds of content (including and especially various learning resources) by layering that content behind each page of the comic. The Ulysses “Seen” project has attracted the attention of the academic, technology, and popular culture communities.


The staff McFarlin Library’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives is proud to hold this new addition to James Joyce’s scholarship. This book is an example of how Joyce’s work remains relevant after more than a century. Our staff would like to extend an invitation to our students, faculty and general community to come and take a look to this new addition.

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Opening of the Helmerich Center for American Research

This weekend we will help celebrate the opening of the Helmerich Center for American Research! What events are you looking forward to? We are looking forward to it all!

Our very own Marc Carlson, librarian of Special Collections and University Archives, will be leading a discussion on “Reading Photographs: The Ghost Dance in A New Light.” It will be at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday & Sunday at the Helmerich Center for American Research in the Maxine and Jack Zarrow Reading Room.

Marc’s discussion will explore what can be learned by examining a photograph. He will talk about how there is more to a photograph than meets the eye and demonstrate how to “read” a photo using a compelling image from the Gilcrease.

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Department Closed

The University of Tulsa’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives would like to announce that we will be closed next Monday, September 1st, because of Labor Day.

Additionally, due to the Tulsa vs. Tulane Football game, we will be closing at 4:00 PM this Thursday, August 28th.

We apologize for any inconveniences these changes may cause our patrons.

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Europe, 1914: The Beginning

poster for blog

To commemorate the centenary of the Great War, McFarlin Library Department of Special Collections and University Archives will be hosting a number of exhibits from 2014-2018 focusing on different aspects of the war.

The first exhibit in this series “Europe, 1914: The Beginning” gives a general overview of the events that caused entire nations to become embroiled in a massive military undertaking they thought would be over by Christmas. No one could have known that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary on Sunday, June 28, 1914, would lead to the deaths of at least 16 million people.

This exhibit will run from July 1 to September 30, 2014. Everyone is invited to come visit the exhibit and learn more about the history behind the beginning of the Great War. 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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Closed Friday, July 4, 2014

Special Collections will be closed on Friday, July 4, 2014, in observance of Independence Day. We will resume regular business hours on Monday, July 7, 2014. Have a safe and fun Fourth of July!

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Archduke Franz Ferdinand Assassinated 100 Years Ago Saturday

Franz and wife getting in carThis Saturday marks the 100th anniversary of the day Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir of the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie, the Duchess of Hohenberg, were fatally shot in the streets of Sarajevo, the capital of Serbia, by Gavrilo Princip, one of six nationalist assassins. The Archduke and his wife had been visiting Sarajevo to observe Serbian military maneuvers and to preside over the opening of the State Museum’s new facilities. In a tragically coincidental turn of events, Ferdinand and Sophie elected to ride from Sarajevo’s Town Hall to inspect the troops in an open car because Sophie’s low birth often kept the pair apart at most official events. Historian A. J. P. Taylor writes that:

“[Sophie] could never share [Franz Ferdinand’s] rank . . . could never share his splendours, could never even sit by his side on any public occasion.  There was one loophole . . . his wife could enjoy the recognition of his rank when he was acting in a military capacity. Hence, he decided, in 1914, to inspect the army in Bosnia. There, at its capital Sarajevo, the Archduke and his wife could ride in an open carriage side by side . . . Thus, for love, did the Archduke go to his death.” (The First World War: An Illustrated History – 1963, page 13)

The murders led directly to the start of the First World War. Serbian military officials had supported the assassins and stood behind the attack, and when Ferdinand’s father, Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia, the small Balkan nation rejected the demands. The Emperor then declared war on Serbia, an action which embroiled nearly all of Europe in war overnight. All the great powers, Britain, France, Russia, etc. were connected to one another through a series of complex alliances and treaties which promised protection in the event of war. Austria-Hungary’s declaration of hostility was the spark which ultimately kindled the deadliest conflict the world had yet seen.

In remembrance of the 100th anniversary of the Great War, Special Collections will be displaying a series of exhibits commemorating the various stages of the war as their anniversaries roll around. The first of these exhibits, entitled, “Europe 1914: The Beginning,” will examine the first months of the conflict, beginning with the Archduke’s assassination. The exhibit will run from July 1st to September 30th.

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Bloomsday Irish Pub Crawl and Special Collections Exhibit

10451710_761975443823274_9076854759561162634_nBloomsday is just around the corner! This Monday, June 16th, the festivities will kick off in earnest with an authentic Irish pub crawl from 6:30 to 10:00 pm in the area of Downtown Tulsa surrounding the Guthrie Green. While enjoying the evening’s many sights and sounds, be sure to come by and see Special Collection’s James Joyce exhibit at the Zarrow Center which will be open for public viewing from 6:30 to 10:00 as well. Items in the exhibit include a 50th Anniversary poser from TU’s James Joyce Quarterly magazine; a 1907 map of Dublin, Ireland; a holograph schema for Ulysses; and Joyce’s library card among other items.

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