Visitors often ask Lilly Librarians where we get all of our wonderful treasures. Of course we began with a generous donation of over 20,000 books and 17,000 manuscripts from J.K. Lilly, Jr. Since his gift in the mid-1950s, we have acquired many fascinating, beautiful, and unexpected items through purchase and donation, and we’ve learned that you never know when someone you meet might have an interesting story to tell and item to add to the library’s collections.
This blog post tells the story of a recent and unexpected donation. Lilly Librarians Rebecca Baumann and Maureen Maryanski worked with other IU Librarians and Archivists to organize the Primary Source Immersion Grant Program, which kicked off in August with a three-day workshop for sixteen IU faculty members. Our keynote speaker for this series was Professor Ben Motz, Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Instruction for IU’s Department of Psychological & Brain Science. Ben inspired teaching faculty and librarians with ideas about how brain science can be applied to concepts of active learning. When Ben discovered that the Lilly Library has a Star Trek collection (including the original scripts for Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation, comic books, and the papers of IU alum and Trek producer Jeri Taylor), he realized that he had something in his own collection that might find a new home among the Lilly Library’s treasures. Ben explains:
“Even in elementary school, I was a big Star Trek fan. Growing up I remember being anxious to watch episodes on Sunday evenings instead of playing outside. So in 1992, as a gift for my sixth grade graduation, my parents (Barbara and David Motz) placed the winning bid on a pair of authentic Spock ears from Star Trek 6. Leonard Nimoy was a member of our family’s synagogue, and had donated them as an auction item for a temple fundraiser; I think their winning bid was around $75 at the time, and it included a certificate of authenticity and a signed photo portrait of Nimoy. For the last 17 years, I’ve kept them safe with all my other most prized childhood collectibles, but I’d always imagined that these ears should eventually be accessible to the public, under the care of people who would know how to preserve them.”
The original prospectus for Star Trek, dated March 11, 1964, is already part of the Lilly Library’s collections. It includes Gene Roddenberry’s initial description of the character of Spock, which is quite different from his final incarnation:
“The captain’s right-hand man, the working level commander of all the ship’s functions from manning the bridge to supervising the lowliest scrub detail. His name is “Mr. Spock.” And the first view of him can be almsot [sic] frightening—a face so heavy-lidded and satanic you might almost expect him to have a forked tail. Probably half Martian, he has a slightly reddish complexion and semi-pointed ears. But strangely—Mr. Spock’s quiet temperament is in dramatic contrast to his satanic look. Of all the crew aboard he is the nearest to Captain April’s [later changed to Captain Pike, then Captain Kirk] equal, physically and emotionally, as a commander of men. His primary weakness is an almost cat-like curiosity over anything the slightest ‘alien.'”
As Spock transformed from Martian to Vulcan, from red-skinned to green-blooded, and from catlike to logical, one thing remained: the pointed ears. As Ben Motz points out,
“There’s an interesting backstory about the popular and sociocultural significance of making someone look alien, which motivated Gene Roddenberry’s interest in Spock having pointy ears. Leonard Nimoy was initially opposed to them, but they took on a life of their own in the series. They provided a sort of sociological reference point, making the differences between different humans seem, relatively speaking, pretty minuscule.”
The IU campus recently welcomed George Takei, who played Sulu on Star Trek, and his powerful talk reminded us of Trek’s longstanding commitment to diversity, curiosity, and exploration—all values shared by Indiana University and the Lilly Library.
We love the story of Spock’s ears, we extend very warm gratitude to Professor Ben Motz for his kind donation, and we look forward to continuing to share all our Star Trek collections with fans on campus and around the world.
The Lilly Library’s French Literature Manuscript Collection is now entirely digitized and available to view online. You can search the collection and download images from our finding aid.
Unlike most of our manuscript collections, the material in this collection does not derive from a single collector but has been gathered over many years from many different sources. Digitized items in the collection range from ca. 1750 to 1977 and include over 1000 images from letters, drafts, and other literary material. A number of famous French authors are represented, including Charles Baudelaire, Jean Cocteau, Alexandre Dumas, Gustave Flaubert, Victor Hugo, Marcel Proust, George Sand, Jules Verne, Volaire, and many others.
Some of the most exciting items in the collection, however, are those which are not famous and which are rich with research potential. For example, an 18th-century unpublished feminist manuscript titled “Omelettes ou l’origine des Nouvelles Amazones” [Omelettes or the Origin of the New Amazons] recounts the tragic decline of amorous arts being foiled by the Goddess Discord by means of a treacherous omelette (served, as seen in the accompanying illustration, to some hapless men by a society of New Amazons).
Everyone knows that the Lilly Library is home to countless wonders. From Shakespeare to Spider Man, our wide-ranging collections bring together materials from around the world and throughout the history of the written and printed word. Perhaps you’ve stopped by to see one of our exhibitions: medieval manuscripts, puzzles, vegetarianism, and books printed in India are just a few of the topics we’ve covered recently. Perhaps you’ve done research in the Reading Room for a class or a personal project. Maybe you’ve stopped in for a Friday tour or been to a class session or one of our special First Thursday presentations. Maybe you couldn’t resist asking us if you could take a selfie with our Academy Awards.
We love all of our guests, from the casual visitor to our superfans. To celebrate IU Day, we put together some facts about the Lilly Library that may surprise you. There are no greater fans of the Lilly than the librarians who work here, and we enjoyed digging through our own archives to come up with these treats. If you have memories of the Lilly Library that you would like to share, please post them on our Facebook page, tweet us, or comment on Instagram: @IULillyLibrary.
The exterior of the Lilly Library was once covered with ivy.
If you’ve been on campus for a few decades, you probably remember that the Lilly Library was once a bit more “Ivy League” than it is now. Although our collections still rival the Ivies, our building has been pruned. We’re not sure when the ivy was finally nixed, but we suspect the potential damage to the building played a role in giving the Lilly its current look, focusing on the beautiful Indiana limestone.
One of the library’s vaults was once a bomb shelter.
The vault on the first floor was once a designated Civil Defense shelter, in the event of an air raid. It’s certainly a frightening thought, but we can think of worse places to be trapped than among some of the most beautiful and interesting books ever printed. Tinned beans would taste great eaten over the Gutenberg Bible.
There is a set of doors in the Main Gallery that don’t go anywhere.
If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably been in our Main Gallery at some point. Did you ever notice the mysterious set of doors with darkened windows? Did you ever wonder where they lead? As much as we would like to say they lead to a magical and hidden room, they lead… nowhere at all. The doors were added to the gallery to provide symmetry and balance to the room.
The Lilly Library has three working fireplaces.
The Lilly Library’s Ellison Room, Ball Room, and Lilly Room all contain a fireplace. Many visitors have commented upon them, but few realize that these fireplaces do work. Although no current staff members have seen them blazing, there is photographic evidence that they have been used. It may seem odd to have fire so prominently featured in what is essentially a House of Paper, but the library’s designers were creating rooms which were splendid enough to house the collections they contained. In more recent years, the chimneys have been blocked to prevent the campus’s flying squirrels from finding their way into the building. Who knew that squirrels were such fans of great literature?
Smoking was once permitted in the library’s Lounge.
As with the fireplaces, it is difficult to believe that cigarette smoke would be allowed anywhere near rare books and manuscripts. Smoking has always been prohibited in most of the library, but the Lounge (now the Slocum Room) was an exception; staff could smoke during breaks.
There have been some famous visitors to the Lilly Library.
The Lilly Library has been host to several dignitaries, celebrities, and other notable visitors. One of the most interesting visits was from three of the original “Munchkins” from the 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz. Clarence Swensen, Myrna Swensen, and Donna Steward-Hardway (the youngest Munchkin to appear in the film) visited in conjunction with the library’s 2000 exhibition of our Oz-related collections. Although the exhibition opening event, which drew over 500 guests, was certainly memorable, we have been unable to locate any photographs of the Munchkins’ visit!
4. J.K. Lilly, Jr. only visited the Lilly Library twice.
Of course the Lilly Library would not be possible without the generous donation of over 20,000 books and 18,000 manuscripts by J.K. Lilly, Jr. Mr. Lilly’s generosity was combined with the vision of Indiana University President Herman B Wells, who realized the need for a building to preserve the collection and make it available to students, faculty, and the community. Mr. Lilly later believed that the gift of the books was “the most satisfactory thing he ever did.” However, he only visited the site of the library twice, once upon the groundbreaking and once for the dedication. In many ways, this was Mr. Lilly’s final gift: he trusted the recipients of his marvelous collection to care for it and to nurture it into something much bigger. From 20,000 books and 18,000 manuscripts, we have grown to over 450,000 books and over 8.5 million pieces of manuscripts. And we hope that we have made Mr. Lilly proud.
3. A Lilly Library book was once exhibited in the Tower of London.
In 1971, a book from the Lilly Library made the long journey to the Tower of London’s Raleigh Room. The book, Sir Walter Raleigh’s History of the World (1614), was written while Raleigh was a prisoner in the Tower. The loan came about as the result of Lilly Librarian David Randall’s visit to the Tower. He noted that the furnishings were authentic, save for the thirteenth edition of World History on display, published more than fifty years after Raleigh’s death. A special case with a plaque identifying the book’s provenance was added to the room, and the book stayed in the Tower for several years. After its trip around the world, it is back in our collections and can be requested to view in our Reading Room: https://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/10097537
There was once a car on exhibit inside the Lilly Library.
There are many strange objects in the library’s collections; we have Edgar Allen Poe’s hair, Tennyson’s pipes, and a life mask of Abraham Lincoln. But one thing we don’t have in our collection is an automobile. There was, however, a car exhibited inside the Lilly Library’s Lincoln Room in 1978. The car, a 1930 Austin Bantam, was loaned by Bloomington resident Norman Deckard for an exhibition titled “From the Donkey to the Jet: Man’s Experience with Travel from the Fifth Century B.C. to the Present.” A ramp was placed over the steps so that the car could be driven in through the front door.
The Lilly Library has always been open to everyone.
With so many curious and fascinating items in our collections, there is no one person who has seen everything that we have. Visitors and researchers, as well as our own librarians, make exciting discoveries in our collections every week. The library is an organic, living entity combined from the collecting passions of the past and the forward-thinking caretakers, donors, and university administrators of the present. Visitors often ask us to reveal the “secrets” of the library, hoping perhaps for some dusty tome that has remained hidden from view. We have tried to reveal some lesser-known facts about the library in this blog post, but our greatest secret… is that we have no secrets! Our collections are available for anyone to research and enjoy. Stop by and see our exhibitions or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment to use our Reading Room.
If you enjoyed learning a bit more about the Lilly Library, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @IULillyLibrary. We’ll be posting #VintageLilly photos all day to celebrate IU Day and the Lilly Library!
Thank you to all Lilly staff members who helped with our IU Day “Vintage Lilly” Project: Joel Silver, Erika Dowell, Jim Canary, Isabel Planton, Maureen Maryanski, Sarah Mitchell, and Seth James. Special thanks to Zach Downey and Jody Mitchell for photography and digital editing. Thank you to Kristin Leaman and Julia Kilgore of IU Archives for making a valiant research effort to find better photographic evidence of the car. If any of our readers have photographs of Lilly history they would like to share, please contact us at email@example.com
–Rebecca Baumann, Lilly Library Head of Public Services
We’re happy to announce that the Lilly Library’s Isgrig Manuscript Collection is now fully digitized and can be accessed online through the collection’s finding aid.
Daniel Isgrig was born in Baltimore County, Maryland in 1775, the son of Michael and Barbary (Lohr) Isgrig. In 1782 his father moved his family up in the Allegheny Mountains in Maryland. They then emigrated to Kentucky, eight miles above Fort Cumberland, in 1789. At the age of eight, Daniel had only about six months of formal schooling. On July 22, 1795, he married Mrs. Rachel (Barnes) Langley, a widow with a four-year-old son, Abraham, and a two-year-old daughter, Margaret. In 1806, he moved to Hamilton County, Ohio, near Cincinnati. He was drafted in the War of 1812 for a term of six months military service against Upper Canada, but being lame, his son, Daniel, not yet eighteen, served for his father. In 1817 he sold the land near Cincinnati, Ohio, purchased land in Ripley County, Indiana, and moved his family to that county. Daniel Isgrig wrote three books: Hieroglyphic (1834) The Hoosier (1836), and Biography (1838). He died in 1854, and is buried in Shockley Cemetery.
We invite researchers to explore this fascinating slice of Midwestern history!
We are excited to announce the full digitization of the Lilly Library’s collection of the papers of Walter Mason Camp. Camp (1867–1925) was an American author, editor, and researcher best known for interviewing hundreds of both Native American and white participants in the American Indian Wars of the second half of the 19th century. The collection consists largely of Camp’s penciled notes, mostly on small scraps of paper. Field notes include information on the Bozeman expedition of 1874, the Battle of Little Big Horn (1876), the Yellowstone Campaign of 1873, and many other topics related to Native American history and conflicts in the American West. Also digitized as part of the collection are photographs, maps, and the transcriptions of the field notes done by Professor Kenneth Hammer for his book Custer in 76.
You can view and download all digitized items in this collection by visiting Archives Online.
We would like to thank our Digitization Manager Zach Downey for leading this project. We would also like to thank our Public Services Assistant Jody Mitchell and student assistant Lilly Poor for their dedicated work in realizing this goal.
With over 60,000 comic books and graphic novels in our collection, there is no doubt that we at the Lilly Library are fans of comics! A new promotional spot featuring Indiana University alum, Media School professor of practice, and Lilly Library donor Michael Uslan provides a 30-second version of Mr. Uslan’s journey from a student reading comic books in his dorm room to the executive producer of the Batman films.
You can watch the new video and also read about the Jacobs School’s role in providing the music on Inside IU Bloomington. You can also find out more about the comic book course that Michael Uslan taught at Indiana University on IU Archives’ blog.
In his introduction to the 2005 exhibition of material from his vast and deep collections of pop culture memories, Mr. Uslan described his lifelong passion for comics:
“My mother told me I learned to read from comic books when I was three. My seventh-grade English teacher informed me that it was perfectly fine for me to read comic books because they were clearly sparking my creativity. Indiana University allowed me to teach the world’s first accredited college course on comic books because they declared them worthy of academic study. DC Comics hired me to write their ‘Batman’ comics due to the international attention I received for starting my comic book course at IU. United Artists employed me as a movie studio attorney due to my study of copyright law and the comic book industry at Indiana University School of Law. DC Comics sold me the movie and allied rights to Batman because of my knowledge of the character, my respect for the character, and my credentials as a studio attorney. Batman in 1989 and Batman Begins in 2005 completed a dream I had to produce the definitive, dark, serious, plausible movies of Batman as he was created and evolved in the comics. And on the heels of Batman Begins, some 30,000 comic books from my personal collection are now a part of Indiana University’s Lilly Library collection for fans, for scholars, and for posterity. This has been my journey, and what an incredible ride it has been… and continues to be!”
Since that 2005 exhibition, Michael Uslan has continued to donate comic books and graphic novels as well as his personal papers to the Lilly Library. We are proud to provide access to these collections to researchers from around the world and also to conduct class sessions in which professors from around campus bring their students to see and learn about the fantastic history of comic books. You can search our database of Uslan comics or contact our Reference Department at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about how to access this remarkable collection.
J.K. Lilly, Jr.’s copy of the double elephant folio of John James Audubon’s Birds of America (1827-1838) is one of the most popular attractions at the Lilly Library today. Turning one page every week, it would take almost eight and a half years for us to feature all 435 beautiful hand-colored plates in the four volumes… and that’s just what we plan to do.
Many visitors have enjoyed the birds over the years, and since we launched our Twitter account @IULillyLibrary last year, many fans all over the world have enjoyed our “Flipping the Bird” feature. But we’ve been pecking around the plates sporadically, featuring a big bird here and a small bird there. We showed off the spectacular Pink Flamingo in honor of John Waters’ visit to campus and even discovered a “lost” plate for some cheeky April Fool’s Day fun.
But today, on what would be John James Audubon’s 231st birthday, we’ve turned back to Volume 1, Plate I—the Wild Turkey. And from now on, we’ll turn the page once a week in order until we see every duck, owl, songbird, and raptor. So whether you stop by our gallery every week or visit us virtually on Twitter, join us for the next eight years as we flip the bird and celebrate one of our favorite treasures!
In conjunction with our exhibition “Everything is Bicycle: The Revolution of the Wheel in America,” the Lilly Library is hosting “A Celebration of Cycling!” on Saturday, April 9, 11:00-2:00. Along with the exhibition of historical cycling materials from the Lilly Library’s collections, we will be hosting the Indiana Wheelmen, an organization dedicated to keeping alive the heritage of American cycling, promoting the restoration and riding of early cycles manufactured prior to 1918, and encouraging cycling as part of modern living. Members of the Wheelmen will display their cycling memorabilia and demonstrate vintage cycles outside of the library. We are also happy to welcome special guest Tom Schwoegler, consultant on Breaking Away, who will be bringing examples of Little 500 bikes of the past. Join us for refreshments, a world of wheels, and a celebration the wonderful history of cycling!
For the next two weeks, we’ll be posting images of Andrew Lang’s coloured fairy books on Twitter (@IULillyLibrary).
Andrew Lang (1844-1912) was a Scots literary critic, novelist, poet, essayist, folklorist, editor, translator, and anthologist. A confirmed polymath and gifted polyglot, he was a true “man of letters” whose work in many fields made him an almost ubiquitous presence in the late 19th– and early 20th-century literary landscape. Ironically, the books for which he is best remembered are books which he himself did not write.
These are the “coloured fairy books,” twelve volumes published by the London/New York firm of Longmans, Green, and Co. between 1889 and 1910, compiling a total of 437 fairy tales from all around the world, many appearing in English translations for the first time. Lang selected the tales and edited the collections, but most of the translations and retellings were done by his wife, Leonora Blanche Alleyne Lang, and other collaborators. In the final book in the series, The Lilac Fairy Book, Lang finally acknowledged that “the fairy books have been almost wholly the work of Mrs. Lang.”
These volumes renewed British interest in fairy stories; they were also unique in that they were specifically edited and marketed for children, and many of our ideas about fairy tales being the special province of the young can be traced back to their popularity. Especially concerned with the readability of the texts, Leonora Lang attempted to limit the vocabulary and sentence structure so that the collections were accessible to children with average reading abilities. They were also made more appealing with numerous black and white and color illustrations by H.J. Ford.
The Lilly Library has one of the largest collections of Andrew Lang’s printed work in the world, including first editions of all of the coloured fairy books, many in their rare original dust wrappers, removed here to show the glorious cloth bindings stamped with gold illustrations of the witches, fairies, monsters, and heroes that curious readers can find within their pages. The Lilly Library’s Lang collection was amassed by Frank Graef Darlington (1859-1918), who was the Superintendent of the Indianapolis Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad and an avid book collector.
Have you ever wanted to conduct research at the Lilly Library but weren’t sure where to start? Have you ever felt daunted by all of the various finding aids on the Lilly Library’s website? Have you ever hankered to get your hands on a real old-fashioned card catalog drawer? Have you ever wanted to go “behind the scenes” and see the Lilly Library’s stacks? Are you ready to go down the research rabbit hole but feel like you need a guide?
Join us on Tuesday, March 8, 3:00-5:00 for a breakout session from the Uncovering the Mysteries of the IU Libraries series, presented by IU Libraries Scholars’ Commons. We will cover the basics of Lilly Library research and also delve into some of the more esoteric avenues of inquiry available to Lilly Library patrons. We will spend hands-on time with examples of rare books and manuscripts drawn from the collections and a tour of the library’s stacks.
This workshop is especially designed to help graduate students who may be interested in designing research projects around rare and archival material; however, all interested participants are welcome. You need bring only your curiosity!
Please register for this event here or by emailing email@example.com.