John Wesley Powell was born on March 24, 1834 near Palmyra, New York. In 1869, Powell led a party of ten men down the Green-Colorado river, becoming the first white men to explore the Grand Canyon. That and additional explorations of the area were described in Powell’s report published in 1875 as “Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and It’s Tributaries. Explored in 1869, 1870, 1871, and 1872, Under the Direction of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.” That report is in the Regional History collections in the Special Collections and Archives Department. The second Powell led expedition of the area was described in “A Canyon Voyage, The Narrative of the Second Powell Expedition down the Green-Colorado River from Wyoming, and the Explorations on Land, in the Years 1871 and 1872,” by Frederick S. Dellenbaugh. Published in 1908, it is also in our collection, as are many other important early books about the Colorado River as related to exploration in the southwest and, specifically, water in Southern California.
Archives for March 2014
Ward Ritchie (1905-1996) was one of the premier printers, book designers, and printing historians in Los Angeles in the 20th century. In his long and distinguished career, he designed, printed and published hundreds of books. Upon retirement in 1972, Ward Ritchie and his wife Marka moved to their summer house in Laguna Beach, on a slope above Emerald Bay. Ritchie bought an 1835 Albion hand press and had it installed in his studio in their home. There he began printing small editions, usually less than 50 copies, of books under the press name Laguna Verde Imprenta. He chose books that he liked and enjoyed, this was not primarily a commercial venture. He wrote many of the books, often about his friends like Robinson Jeffers and Lawrence Clark Powell. His motivation was often purely fun. Most of the books were printed on dampened, handmade papers. This exhibit, in the Special Collections and Archives lobby, tells the story of Ward Ritchie’s press Laguna Verde Imprenta and the wonderful books that he produced in this last phase of his life. This exhibit will end on Friday, May 30, 2014.
Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes in Special Collections? Well, follow me into the Processing Room for a peak at our collections as we preserve, organize, and describe them for researchers – I mean, really, who doesn’t love a backstage pass?
Welcome back to the processing room, folks! Don’t mind out dust – created because we’ve been working hard, not because, as the New York Times often wrongly suggests, archives and archivists are naturally musty, dusty, dark, and deep. Well, maybe a little bit deep. But still fun at parties. The archivists that is. Not the archives. Don’t bring your historic documents to parties, kids.
So, what has been going on since you last poked your head through our door? A whole lot as always. We’re around two thirds of the way through the J. Hillis Miller papers. We’ve marched straight through a series of collected writings belonging to Miller’s friends and colleagues that includes a few famous and familiar faces like Rene Wellek, Jacques Derrida, and Paul de Man. Speaking of Paul de Man, we also happened upon a little trove of materials related to the infamous De Man wartime writing controversy that mirrors a similar series in the Derrida papers. The born digital segment of Miller’s papers has been appraised, and sent off to our digital projects manager to be migrated into an access format, and we’ve just started sifting through Miller’s general correspondence. We’re getting closer to the end of this project. We can’t quite taste it yet, but we can definitely smell it in the air!
I believe that last month I told you I’d describe in greater detail what processing actually entails now that you know a little more about accessioning and pre-processing, but since there was so much progress to report on this month, you’ll just have to sit tight! As always, if you have any questions for me you can leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations to everyone associated with the film 12 Years A Slave. This outstanding film is based on the book by Solomon Northup, which was first published in 1853 — the year that Northup became a free man. The book was written in three months, and was published by Derby and Miller of Auburn, New York. Northup’s book sold over 30,000 copies in the first three years. The full and descriptive account of his experiences as a slave was used by numerous historians researching and writing about slavery. The book was reprinted in 1869, but it faded in popularity and was largely overlooked until the 1960s. The first scholarly edition of the memoir was published in 1968 by the Louisiana State University Press. In 1984, Gordon Parks directed a PBS film Solomon Northup’s Odyssey based on Northup’s memoir. The feature film 12 Years A Slave was released in October 2013 and, as you know, it was nominated for nine Academy Awards and last night it won Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress by Lupita Nyong’o, and Best Adapted Screenplay by John Ridley.
A copy of the first edition of Twelve Years A Slave is in the collections of UCI’s Special Collections & Archives.