Oscar Wilde

St. Patrick’s Day may have passed, but here at Special Collections we are always finding a good reason to celebrate Irish roots. Today we are focusing on Irish poet, playwright, and writer Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde. Oscar Wilde was part of the late 19th century aesthetic movement in England, which focused on advocating art for art’s sake. He is remembered most for his comedic plays and single novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Wilde was born in Dublin on October 16, 1854 to a father who was a surgeon and a mother who was a poet and Irish revolutionary. He studied at Trinity College in Dublin as well as Oxford, where he became involved in the aesthetics movement. After graduation, Wilde moved to London where he published his first collection of poetry in 1881, titled Poems. On May 29, 1884, Wilde married Constance Lloyd, a well-read and outspoken daughter of a prominent barrister. They had two sons, Cyril in 1885 and Vyvyan in 1886. The next six years are said to be his most creative, with Wilde becoming editor of a fashionable magazine, Woman’s World, and the publication of his two collections of children’s stories, The Happy Prince and Other Tales in 1888, and The House of Pomegranates in 1892.

By 1889, Wilde had left the editorship of Woman’s World to write his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was met with critical protest. Though the novel is filled with witty dialogue and beautiful descriptive passages, people were appalled by its implied homoerotic themes. Wilde published three more plays between 1893 and 1895, all highly acclaimed and firmly established Wilde as a playwright.

In 1891, Wilde met Oxford undergraduate Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas and they soon became lovers. The two were inseparable until 1895, when Wilde was accused of homosexuality by Douglas’s father, the Marquis of Queensberry, and was arrested. He was found guilty of “gross indecency” and was sentenced to two years of hard labor. While in prison, Wilde composed a letter to Douglas entitled De Profundis an eloquent reflection upon his love turned to bitterness and deep attachment he felt for Douglas. He reflects upon his time in prison and the ridicule he was subjected to with emphasis on the importance of individualism, imagination, self-expression, and self-development. Upon his release, he gave the letter to his close friend and lover Robert Ross to be sent to Douglas and to eventually be published.

After being released, Wilde went on to publish The Ballad of Reading Gaol in 1898, a response to the agony he experienced while imprisoned. At the time of his conviction, his wife Constance had taken the two children to Switzerland where they changed their name to “Holland”. Wilde spent the last few years of his life wandering Europe and staying with friends. He died in Paris at the age of 46 on November 30, 1900 from meningitis, due to a reoccurring infection he received while in prison.

Here in Special Collections, we hold a vast amount if information on Oscar Wilde from our collection of Richard Ellmann papers. Ellmann did extensive research on the life and writings of Wilde, which amasses to about 37 boxes of archival information! Included in this collection is even an original letter from Oscar Wilde dated from 1889.

We also house many editions of Wilde’s works, including many early editions from the late 19th century.

To end, I leave you with a passage from Wilde’s De Profundis:

“Society, as we have constituted it, will have no place for me, has none to offer; but Nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undisturbed.  She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.”

If you would like to explore the vast collection and works of Oscar Wilde, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open 8-4:30pm Monday through Friday, available through appointment only. We are open to questions at speccoll@utulsa.edu

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Mardi Gras

Happy Mardi Gras from Special Collections! Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to Pagan celebrations of spring and fertility. This includes the Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia! With the immergence of Christianity, these local traditions were incorporated and became the prelude to Lent, the Christian practice of fasting and penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. As Christianity spread to other European countries, so did the celebration of Mardi Gras.

The name Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”. Before Christian influences, Mardi Gras was commonly known as “Carnival”, which was also derives from a fasting tradition.  In Medieval Latin, carnelevarium means to take away or remove meat. Today is all about indulging oneself before the start of a traditional fast. To help celebrate, we pulled some cookbooks from our collections to share recipes dating all the way back to 1723.

TX705.S55 1723

Who doesn’t love a chicken or pigeon pie on a chilly day? This recipe from 1723 proves that chicken pot pie is a classic.

TX705.M36 1750z

Elderberry wine only contained a few ingredients including raisins, water, and juice of elderberries in this recipe from 1750.

TX705. G54 1755

Avocado toast may be all the rage today, but in 1755 it was “brockely” and eggs or asparagus and eggs on toast!

TX717.A186 1845

If you’ve never roasted a pigeon before, which I’m sure few have, we now have a diagram and recipe from 1845 to make sure our game roasts perfectly.

TX725.D68 1952

Though many of us love macaroni, in the 1950s the delicacy was kidney in this beloved dish. Perhaps ask your grandparents if they ever had this treat growing up?

If you would like to find more recipes by exploring our various cookbooks, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open 8-4:30pm, by appointment only. If you would like to see any other part of our collections, we are open to questions at speccoll@utulsa.edu

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Ann Radcliffe

Ann Radcliffe (née Ward) (1764-1823) was an English writer in the 18th century and known as a one of the founders of Gothic fiction. As a writer of the early Romantic period, Ann was a pioneer in the genre of terror and her ability to combine scenes of terror and suspense while maintaining Romantic sensibility.

Ann’s first two novels were published anonymously in 1789 and 1790, but she gained literary fame with her third novel, The Romance of the Forest (1792). By her fourth publication in 1794 of her most famous novel, The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann had become the most popular novelist in England.

Ann published her last work of fiction, The Italian, in 1797 and soon after sold the copyright of The Mysteries of Udolpho for £500 and The Italian for £800. She spent the last 20 years of her life mainly writing poetry. Ann was a leading exponent of the historical Gothic romance and through her work defined a distinct difference between terror and horror. She went on to influence many Gothic writers and had many famous admirers, including Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Christina Rossetti.

Special Collections houses first and third editions of Ann’s novels, including The Romance in the Forest (1792) and Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne (1796). 


We also have editions of her most famous work, The Myseteries of Udolpho (1794). 

If you would like to explore Ann Radcliffe’s novels, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open 8-4:30pm, by appointment only. If you would like to see any other part of our collections, we are open to questions at speccoll@utulsa.edu

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Laura Riding Jackson

Laura Riding Jackson (1901-1991) was a widely noted poet, essayist, novelist, critic, and writer of short fiction in the 20th century. Born Laura Reichenthal in New York city to Jewish immigrant parents, Laura went on to study at Cornell University where she began her writing career under the pseudonym Laura Riding.

Her poetry was soon praised by the Fugitives, a southern literary group who had a magazine under the same name, and she became the groups only female member. By 1924, Laura moved to England to collaborate with English poet and writer Robert Graves. There she maintained a 12 year relationship with Graves and his wife, in which Laura referred to as “three-life”. Laura and Robert founded The Seizin Press in London in 1927, before moving to Mallorca, Spain. By 1939, Laura had moved back to the states and just a year later renounced writing poetry to pursue what she considered “something better in our linguistic way of life than we have”.


Laura married Schuyler Jackson in 1941, and by 1943 they moved to Wabasso, Florida and bought a small frame home on 11 acres of citrus groves. They spent the remainder of their years organically growing and selling citrus while working on an unprecedented dictionary “in which each word would have only one definition”.  Laura completed her project before her death in 1991, and her book, Rational Meaning: A New Foundation for the Definition of Words and Supplementary Essays, was published in 1997 by University Press of Virginia.


Here in Special Collections, we house many of Laura’s completed works. If you would like to explore her handwritten correspondences and manuscripts, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open 8-4:30pm, by appointment only. If you would like to see any other part of our collections, we are open to questions at speccoll@utulsa.edu

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You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!

Did you know that the beloved musical Oklahoma! was based on a play by Oklahoma’s own Lynn Riggs? Riggs was born on a farm in Claremore in 1899, in what was then known as Indian Territory. His professional career produced 21 full length plays as well as multiple poems and short stories. Green Grow The Lilacs, with it’s title from a nineteenth century folksong of the same name, was published by Riggs in 1931 and was quickly picked up by the Guild Theater (now August Wilson Theatre) in New York City and was first performed on January 26, 1931.

Collection Identifier 1971.004.4


It was performed 64 times on Broadway, touring part of the country. The story is rich in American pioneer history with plenty of pioneer grit and humor, and immediately started getting positive reviews from newspapers all over New York.

Collection Identifier 1971.004.4

Collection Identifier 1971.004.4

The play caught the attention of renowned Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, and they got to work putting music and lyrics to the classic American tale. The musical was first debut on March 31, 1943 at the St. James Theatre in New York City and was soon touring the country.

Collection Identifier 1971.004.14

Collection Identifier 1971.004.14

The musical soon got its film adaptation and was premiered October 11, 1955, starring Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae.

Lynn Riggs was proud of his Oklahoma roots. The love he held for the land shows in nearly all of his works and is still cherished by Americans today. Riggs lead a rich and complex life. He was part Cherokee, gay, and served in the military during WWII.

If you would like to explore our collection on Lynn Riggs, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open 8-4:30pm. If you would like to see any other part of our collections, we are open to questions at speccoll@utulsa.edu

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Now on Display: Life in the Circus

McFarlin Library Special Collections is proud to announce our first physical exhibit since March 2020 titled “Life in the Circus”. Graduate students from the Museum Science and Management program designed and implemented the exhibit this past semester.

The exhibit focuses on the inner workings of circus life by spotlighting performers, animal acts, guest experience, famous showmen, and the circus in Oklahoma specifically. It features newspaper clippings, photographs, and ephemera found in our multiple circus collections here at Special Collections.

The exhibit will be showcased in Special collections until March 2022. We are located in McFarlin Library on the fifth floor, open Monday through Friday 8-4:30pm. Be sure to check out the work of our graduate students and learn all about circus life in the 20th century!

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University Memories

Happy Holidays from Special Collections! This time of year is wonderful to sit back and look upon the memories created throughout the year. And here at Special Collections, we are able to look back quite a few years! Our student workers are currently working on a project to get our University negatives digitized for the public. Though with thousands of negatives to scan in, this will definitely take our students some time to do. These negatives go back to Henry Kendall College days, before merging with the proposed Robert McFarlin Methodist College to become Tulsa University in 1921.  So take a break from cramming for finals or decorating your tree and look back upon the University of Tulsa throughout the 20th century.



Special Collections will be closed December 23nd through January 2nd. If you would like more information about our collections, we are located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open 8-4:30pm and are open to questions at speccoll@utulsa.edu


See you in the new year!

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Gus Welch Collection

Editor’s Note: This blog post comes to us from Saige Blanchard, a library student at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa. Saige completed an internship with Special Collections in conjunction with her archival processing classes, and as part of her portfolio work, she’s written a summary of her experiences.

This semester I had the wonderful opportunity to complete an archival internship with Marc Carlson and the rest of the University of Tulsa Special Collections staff. This experience introduced me to the many phases of archival processing. The goal of my internship was to create a finding aid for the Gus Welch Papers, a collection that the university acquired in 1995. In this blog post I will outline and describe the course of my adventure in processing the Gus Welch Papers.  

As a student eager to please it can be a bit intimidating when you’re handed a completely unarranged archival collection and expected to make something of it. That feeling doesn’t last forever! With some help from my TU mentors I was able to find direction in my work, starting with an initial analysis of the collection. There were originally 3 boxes in this collection, filled with items in no particular order. I took a few weeks to look through the items and become familiar with them, which was really interesting. It’s super easy to get invested in correspondence and memorabilia! There were several times I found myself admiring handwriting, analyzing clothing styles in old photos, and fishing for familiar names in publications. It was especially fun learning about Gus Welch, Jim Thorpe, and Native American sports history! 

The next step I took was locating duplicate items and creating some sort of logical arrangement for the collection. There are hundreds of newspaper clippings in this collection, so finding duplicates in those took me a long time! It was nice, though, because I became extremely familiar with the clippings and what sort of stories they covered. As for arrangement, I tried organizing the items in groupings that shared the same format. Looking at the finding aid you can see these groupings as series. Once I had decided on arrangement categories I physically put each one together and further organized them alphabetically and/or chronologically.  

At this point I was ready to start processing the items in a finding a id. This phase of the internship was exciting because I was finally able to use things I’ve learned in library school first hand, such as Describing Archives, a Content Standard and Library of Congress Subject Headings. Within each series every item (besides individual newspaper clippings) has a designated identification record. I manually created these records, in addition to titling them, inputting a unique identifier, selecting their language and dates of creation (when applicable), and including any additional notes pertaining to their scope and content. I would say that I was most attentive about the unique identifiers, since these are how researchers are able to locate items within the collection.  

For me, one of the most complicated and fun parts was naming and describing the photographs. At first I couldn’t tell how much detail I needed to put into the descriptions, since they are visual objects. I decided to include any written notations on the photographs as well as any identifiable figures. This seems like the type of information a researcher would find most important and if they were eager to see the photographs they could always visit the collection! Luckily I’ve done my fair share of research, so it was easy to put myself in their shoes.  

I’m wrapping up my internship by double, triple, and quadruple checking my work and then officially housing the documents. When I’m finished each series will be divided into folders and those will be in boxes. Each box will have a barcode and a unique identifier. It’s so organized, I love it! I’ve had a blast doing this internship and if my future holds archival work I will be very happy. I am also proud of the work I accomplished up in the tower this semester. Thank you so much, TU!  

You can view the finding aid for the Gus Welch Papers at this link. If you’d like to request scans, please contact Special Collections at speccoll@utulsa.edu.

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When it comes to Thanksgiving, it is sometimes easy to forget the narrative of our Indigenous Peoples. However, the voices that prevail continue to give prayers of thanksgiving. One of these voices is Soan Mahngotaysee (sooahn= swan) (mon-go-tahi-see), Chief Strongheart of the Cherokee Nation. In his autobiography, he recounts his thanksgiving prayers from years past.

Another documentation rich in culture is the Seneca Thanksgiving Rituals, compiled by American linguist Wallace L. Chafe and featured in the Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 183. It contains Seneca thanksgiving text, performances, songs, and translations. There are also multiple sources included on where to find recorded versions of the thanksgiving rituals.

A “Thanktgvinh Proclamation” was made in 1886 by Dennis Wolf Bushyhead, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1879-1887. He declares November 25th to be a day of thanksgiving and praise and “recommend[s] to all Cherokees to “keep” the said Anniversary soberly, gladly, and lovingly…”.

We at Special Collections wish everyone a safe holiday. A reminder that we are closed the rest of the week, but will reopen Monday, November 29th. If you would like more information about our collections, we are located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open 8-4:30pm and are open to questions at speccoll@utulsa.edu

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Lewis and Clark Expedition

If you ever travel to St. Charles, Missouri, you are bound to discover a wealth of knowledge about the expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, for it was the starting point of their journey. Their travels lasted from 1804 through 1806 in which they mapped out the land that had yet to be explored by Americans. It is important to remember, however, that they did not discover this land. Their expedition was helped in great part by the Native peoples who already inhabited the area.

Here in Special Collections, we house a great deal of material pertaining to Lewis and Clark’s travels. We have numerous journals from members of the expedition, including Meriwether Lewis himself, and Patrick Gass, one of the persons employed in the expedition. These journals were kept throughout their journeys are were published after their return.

Entries include description of the country, transactions during the expedition, and interactions with inhabitants, climate, animals, etc. throughout the trip. Below includes an entry from Lewis dated September 3, 1804.

We also house a variety of published sketch maps of the expedition. These include maps sketched by Lewis, various Native tribes, and other members of the journey. Below includes a full maps of their expedition, including the trail they took to the coast, and the separate journey of Lewis and Clark back to St. Charles.

This sketch map was given to Lewis and Clark by Native Americans at Flathead River Camp, May 29-31, 1806. It shows trails and villages from the mouth of Clark’s River to the Three Forks of the Missouri.

It is important to not forget the Shoshone woman Sacagawea who accompanied Lewis and Clark’s expedition from 1805 to 1806. Her  skills as an interpreter and knowledge of the landscape was invaluable to the white explorers. Though we do not house first hand accounts from Sacagawea, we do have many books written about her life and her time spent with Lewis and Clark’s expedition.

Another interesting item, though dated before the expedition itself, is a handwritten note from William Clark requesting a pint of whiskey for the Chickasaw Indians. The letter is dated May 30, 1794 from Greenville, Ohio. It is signed by William Clark, as well as John Mills, Legion’s adjutant approving the request to the adjutant quartermaster. In 1794, Clark was a Lieutenant in the 4th sub-legion of the Legion of the U.S. under “Mad Anthony” Wayne.

If you would like to explore our collection on Lewis and Clark’s expedition, Special Collections is located on the fifth floor of McFarlin Library. We are open 8-4:30pm. If you would like to explore any other part of our collections, we are open to questions at speccoll@utulsa.edu

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