Every spring semester the University Library System (ULS),
in collaboration with Pitt’s Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR), award ten
students with the Archival Scholars Research Award (ASRA). This semester, seven
of those students are working in Special Collections. Each month, we ask the
scholars to submit blog posts demonstrating the discoveries they are making.
The cover of the
4/27/1969 publication of The Black
The activism of the Black Panther Party (BPP) is commonly
viewed as innately violent and antagonistic, but they had a number of social
programs and fundraisers that were aimed at uplifting the most vulnerable of
their community. One of their most popular programs served breakfast to
children before school, many of whom would have otherwise gone without food due
to social or economic factors. The BPP were staunch believers in education as a
necessary component of liberation, and ensuring that the children were able to
focus and engage in their studies was of critical importance.
Photographs taken at
one of the breakfast programs, as included in the 4/27/1969 edition of The Black Panther.
The Black Panther newspapers
often mention these breakfast programs, noting how many were served or who was
responsible for the food preparation, and occasionally publicizing that one had
been subject to a police raid. They were events that allowed the community to
unify for a singular purpose, and though peaceful and meaningful, local police
departments often stormed the buildings that hosted the programs in an attempt
to find something incriminating.
Archival Scholars Research Awardee ‘17
It’s a long-standing tradition for the sitting president of the United States to leave a parting letter in the Oval Office for the American elected to take his or her place. It’s a letter meant to share what we know, what we’ve learned, and what small wisdom may help our successor bear the great responsibility that comes with the highest office in our land, and the leadership of the free world.
But before I leave my note for our 45th president, I wanted to say one final thank you for the honor of serving as your 44th. Because all that I’ve learned in my time in office, I’ve learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.
Throughout these eight years, you have been the source of goodness, resilience, and hope from which I’ve pulled strength. I’ve seen neighbors and communities take care of each other during the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. I have mourned with grieving families searching for answers – and found grace in a Charleston church.
I’ve taken heart from the hope of young graduates and our newest military officers. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and wounded warriors once given up for dead walk again. I’ve seen Americans whose lives have been saved because they finally have access to medical care, and families whose lives have been changed because their marriages are recognized as equal to our own. I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us through their actions and through their generosity of our obligations to care for refugees, or work for peace, and, above all, to look out for each other.
I’ve seen you, the American people, in all your decency, determination, good humor, and kindness. And in your daily acts of citizenship, I’ve seen our future unfolding.
All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into that work – the joyous work of citizenship. Not just when there’s an election, not just when our own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.
I’ll be right there with you every step of the way.
And when the arc of progress seems slow, remember: America is not the project of any one person. The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word ‘We.’ 'We the People.’ 'We shall overcome.’
Yes, we can.
And if you’d like to stay connected, you can sign up here to keeping getting updates from me.
Philadelphia architect Charles Klauder made his mark on the
University of Pittsburgh by designing three of the school’s most beautiful
buildings: the Cathedral of Learning, Stephen Foster Memorial, and Heinz
Chapel. The enormity and complexity of the buildings are often taken for
granted by the thousands of students, faculty and staff that pass by every day,
and it is all too easy to forget that each began as an idea that had to be
drawn out in fine detail before it could be crafted and built.
Luckily, the University Archives is home to the original architectural drawings
for Klauder’s Pitt buildings, which provide in depth detail of features that
passersby cannot see up close. Here is a sampling of some of the artistic skill
used in the design of the University’s three most famous buildings.
This is a drawing of some of the more
intricate carving required for an archway in the Cathedral of Learning Commons
The tracery windows of
the Cathedral of Learning are detailed works of geometry and artistry.
Only a select few have
been able to fully appreciate the intricacies of the Cathedral of Learning’s
Even the name of the
building contains artistic flourishes on Klauder’s original elevation drawing
of the Cathedral of Learning.
As shown in this
drawing of a portal to the shrine inside the Foster Memorial, sketches had to
not only convey the design of the archway, but also what features were to
pierce the stonework and not just carved into it.
This is a drawing of
the main entrance portal of Heinz Chapel, but the tympanum shown here is
actually less intricate than the carvings in the completed building.
Heinz Chapel fleche reaches over 250 feet in the air, meaning the detail seen
here is often overlooked.
Special Collections welcomed Will Rhodes’ ENGLIT1125
Masterpieces of Renaissance Literature on Wednesday, March 15th.
Students had the opportunity to examine facsimiles of Renaissance literature
and poetry; fine press and private press editions of literature and poetry; and
historical texts dating back to the Renaissance. Students worked closely with these materials and completed an
in-class assignment to create a short essay. Professor Rhodes selected a
handful of these essays for us to feature on the Special Collections
Tumblr. We hope that you enjoy!
carefully flipped through the pages of the Renaissance books at Special Collections, I was reminded of the fact that authorship, and its
assembly in a work, is an art in and of itself. As our society progresses into
an age where technology dominates and paper crumbles, it is rare for books to
be published solely in print. Rather, out of mere convenience and
affordability, consumers often resort to online editions of books, as they are
“more portable” or “more convenient.” However, the books at Special Collections
made me think and appreciate books in their written form because books exist
outside of mere words on a page. That is, books are also a physical object,
comprised of uniquely textured pages, beautifully drawn artwork, and intricate
penmanship that goes relatively unmatched in today’s world.
for example, Volpone by Ben Jonson,
first acted in 1605. Only fifteen hundred copies were made for the members of The
Limited Editions Club. Several individuals contributed to the compilation of
this book outside of the written text. For example, the book cover was designed
by Francis Meynell and printed by Charles Bate. William Nash made the paper
itself especially for this edition of Volpone.
The illustrations by Rene Ben Sussan were drawn with stencils and colored in
France. The cover itself was made in a rusty colored bookcloth, and the pages
felt similar to an oily canvas when examining it in the Special Collections.
addition to the physical appearance of the book, I gained even more of an
appreciation for the works I looked at when understanding the history of
publications during the Renaissance Era. According to Norton’s Anthology:
The career of professional writer in the
sixteenth-century England was almost impossible: there was no such thing as
author’s copyright, no royalties paid to an author according to the sales of
the book, and virtually no notion that anyone could make a decent living
through the creation of works of literature.”
Thus, it was virtually
impossible to become a published author because this profession as we know it
today did not exist. Whereas we attribute recognition to an author because of
their written work, in the Renaissance Era, “the licensing system located not
only primary responsibility for a printed work, but its ownership, with the
printer rather than with the author.” That is, the printing of a work
became more important than the work itself. This is because of the literary
patronage system in which wealthy patrons gave financial or other monetary
incentives in return for their own recognition. However, this system was not
free of unethical practices. In fact, “a practice grew up of printing off
several dedications to be inserted into particular copies of a book, so that an
impecunious author could deceive each of several patrons into thinking that he
or she was the uniquely fortunate person to be honored by the volume.”
Thus, it was an art in the Renaissance Era to be recognized for the written
work itself and not solely the title of patron funding the publication.
the illustrations and binding of the books examined also lend to their
recognition as a piece of art. This is evident in the second volume of The Ecclesiastical History of Martyrs, published
in 1641. As seen in the inside cover page, the artwork
displays elaborate scenes and intricate figures relating to the body of the
text, while the worn outside cover of the book and torn binding also add to the
art form of the book. The artwork
enriches the history and authenticity of works created during the Renaissance
Era and lends credibility to the idea that authorship, and its assembly in a
work, is an art in and of itself.
taking the time to study several of the books contained within Special Collections, I have come to appreciate everything that makes a work
uniquely its own including the pages, texture, material, artwork, and
penmanship. As the world comes to value convenience over quality and functionality
over authenticity, I am reminded that there is beauty in the worn covers and
discolored binding seams that teach us about history and enrich our lives.
Buchwald, University of Pittsburgh undergraduate