News and blog

The subject of our first “Diving Deeper” series is Dante’s Divine Comedy to commemorate the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death on September 14, 1321.

“Nel mezo del camin di nostra uita” — the Florentine poet, Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), tells his readers at the beginning of the first canto of Inferno that he has gone astray in the middle of his life. Dante’s Divine Comedy as it is commonly known today took the fourteenth century by storm. Over 600 manuscripts from that century alone and more than 800 copies from the Middle Ages — though no manuscript in...

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Simon Redington’s Bomb, published in 2008, is an homage to the strikingly beautiful language of “Bomb,” by Gregory Corso, re-conceptualized for the poem’s fiftieth anniversary. In collaboration with The Kamikaze Press, Redington breathes new life into this paramount, Beat piece through an artistry that prioritizes the impact of “Bomb” and its poetry through visual storytelling. The images which arrest us in the original composition are refigured to preserve, as well as add, new meanings to emotional parallels within “Bomb;” terror and ecstasy; mortification and bliss;...

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Over the decades, Arizona State University has been the setting for a great breadth of artistic talent and diverse cultural perspectives. From providing a stage for student talent in athletics, fine arts and more, to hosting nationally known performing artists, to the traditional rites of a university, there has been no shortage of notable events. But there hasn’t been an easy way for the curious to browse them. A new collection of digitized promotional posters from Arizona State University Library’s University Archives collection aims to make this history more accessible.

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As I prepare for graduation and life beyond college, I can't help but think back on my college experience and all the aspects of it that fostered the person that I am today. Part of my learning experience as a student these four years at ASU includes working with distinctive collections. The many reading rooms I have worked in were not only places I only went to work, but also places where I learned about collections, research, and archival materials.

I have worked with distinctive collections for nearly three years now. When I initially applied for the job, I didn't know exactly...

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On Sunday, April 25, millions of people will likely watch the Academy Awards just like they do every year. Due to the ongoing pandemic, though, the 93rd Oscars will look decidedly unlike any that have preceded it. With strict precautions in place, attendees will be limited to nominees, their guests, and the presenters. The main location for the awards will be downtown LA’s Union Station, a working transit hub. There will also be satellite locations for the nominees unable to travel and performances will broadcast from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood. What usually seems...

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Mar 02, 2021 · art, artists books, herstory, march, women

Artists’ books, simply put, are works of art in book form. Early forms of artists’ books are attributed to William Blake who famously illustrated his poetry in Songs of Innocence and Experience. In the early 20th century, Ambroise Vollard began to commission artists such as Pierre Bonnard, Picasso, and Georges Rouault to illustrate texts. 

In the 1900s, female authors still wrote under male pen names or initials to avoid the discrimination found in publishing houses, run primarily by men. When the Women’s Studio Workshop opened in 1974 in New York, female artists were given a space...

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One hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into effect, America found itself at the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, fighting the legal, social,  and cultural ramifications of slavery and racial discrimination. Though this executive order declared an end to slavery, African American lives were “still sadly crippled by the manacle of segregation and the chains of discrimination” (Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963).1 Gradually, with the leadership of courageous and unwavering individuals coming together for numerous demonstrations, prayers, and legal battles, true change...

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This blog began as a way for those of us who work with the rich archival resources at ASU Library to remain connected to our community during a time when many standard interactions (such as patrons using materials in a reading room) were not possible due to COVID-19 restrictions.

So far on this blog we’ve introduced ourselves and the collections we manage, highlighted the depth and breadth of our collections, and provided updates on how to access materials remotely or in person.  Now we want to pause our normal postings in order to re-imagine the blog to make sure we are...

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Cover of lengthy specifications document for Anderson House, Scottsdale, Arizona, 1988, Alfred Newman Beadle Collection, MS MSS 30.
By Harold Housley, Assistant Archivist (Architecture, Arts and Design)

Architectural drawings are important sources for documenting a building and are often the most requested and used records in architectural-related archival collections. But other types of records found in architectural collections are equally important and useful to researchers. Among other records that researchers...

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Seonaid Valiant, Ph.D., MLIS, Curator for Latin American Studies, ASU Library.
In September 2019 I traveled to Chengdu, China representing Arizona State University (ASU) Library in the Sichuan University Libraries Exchange program. The ASU Library has sent six librarians to Chengdu since 2011.

During my month at Sichuan University, I learned about the storage and conservation practices for the Sichuan University’s Special Collections materials. For preservation many of the medieval materials are stored in custom built cedar chests...

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The Wurzburger Reading Room and the Design and the Arts Special Collections Reading Room welcome everyone back to campus for Fall ’20! After a sudden shift in Spring and a most strange summer break, all of us at the reading rooms want to let you know a few things about our services for Fall.

The ASU Library is complying with the health and safety protocols established by ASU that include social distancing and modified services.

The Wurzburger Reading Room is open to all by appointment only.

The Design and the Arts Reading...

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In her introduction post my colleague Renee James described the breadth and depth of the more than 500 collections that comprise the Greater Arizona Collection. The substantive congressional collections are of particular interest to me as a political papers project archivist. Greater Arizona includes collections from various members of congressional delegations from Arizona in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. In addition, the Chicano/a Research Collection holds the papers of Ed Pastor, who represented the 2nd and 7th districts of...

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As with all collections found in archival repositories, architectural-related collections contain records that are retained and preserved because of their enduring importance and research value. Architectural-related collections often originate from a practicing architect or architectural firm and usually contain a variety of records that document the planned and built environment. Most architectural collections found in archives are a blend of personal papers and business or professional records. At the heart of most architectural collections are drawings of various types that document...

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An image of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Ajo, Arizona (CP MCLC 10840).
The Herbert and Dorothy McLaughlin Color Photography and Other Materials collection is part of ASU Library’s Greater Arizona Collection. It features thousands of color photographs taken by the married duo of professional photographers who spent decades photographing the American Southwest for a variety of clients, such as Arizona Highways magazine.

Photographs from this collection were taken between 1940 and 1986 and were shot predominantly in Arizona...

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My name is Matt Messbarger and I’m the Reference Coordinator for ASU Library’s Distinctive Collections. I have a Bachelors in Film Studies from the University of Kansas and a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I also earned a Graduate Certificate in Special Collections. I’ve written about film archives for Archival Outlook, the magazine of the Society of American Archivists, and published book reviews for Archival Issues—the Journal of the Midwest Archives Conference—as well as the Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies...

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An architectural drawing shows plans for the entrance and forecourt of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel (CP SPC 108).
If you asked 100 randomly selected people to name an architect, the most popular response would likely be Frank Lloyd Wright. The imprint of Frank Lloyd Wright is evident in Arizona, where you can visit Taliesin West (Wright's winter headquarters and architecture school), attend a play at ASU's Gammage Auditorium (a Wright-designed building) or drive on Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard in Scottsdale to view a spire based on a...

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Seonaid Valiant, Ph.D., MLIS, Curator for Latin American Studies, ASU Library.
The Latin Americana Collection at ASU Library draws on many collections in the open stacks and Distinctive Collections, including the Greater Arizona Collection, the Labriola National American Indian Data Center and the Chicano/a Research Collection.  My educational background in Latin American History and my experience as the Ayer Librarian for indigenous materials at the Newberry Library in Chicago prepared me for collaborating with faculty and students in...

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Greater Arizona Collection Curator Renee James

Hello, my name is Renee D. James, and I am the curator for the Greater Arizona Collection. I hold an M.A. in History and a Certificate in Archival Management and Historical Editing from New York University as well as an M.L.I.S. from San Jose State University.

I am a transplanted New Yorker, or more specifically, a Long Islander. Prior to my tenure at ASU, the bulk of my professional career had been centered in New York City, where I served as the senior archivist for a private...

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Hello, my name is Julie Tanaka, and I am the new Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts for Distinctive Collections at ASU Library. I arrived in Tempe in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic so I have yet to see the collections in person, but I am looking forward to discovering what they hold. Prior to coming to ASU, I was Curator of Special Collections and Western European History Librarian for Hesburgh Libraries at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Grounding my work with rare and unique materials are an MLIS from the University of Washington, a Certificate in...

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Thank you for stopping by our blog! I am Claudia Willett, Project Archivist with Distinctive Collections at ASU Library. I hold an MLIS in Archives Management and an MA in History from Simmons University. Before coming to ASU in November 2018, I worked as a processing archivist at Boston University. My office is at Fletcher Library on ASU’s West campus where I am processing a large political papers collection. In addition to archival preservation and access work, I am passionate about engagement, outreach, and advocacy for archives and libraries. My firm belief is that it is not good...

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My name is Harold Housley and I am the curator of the Design and the Arts Special Collections at Arizona State University Library. I am a Certified Archivist and I have worked for thirteen years at ASU Library. I am also an ASU alumnus, with a Master of Arts degree in history. In future blog entries, I will be providing more information on the collection that I manage. But in my first entry, I want to discuss what I find most rewarding about my profession.

Most people know that archivists manage "old stuff,” but without the proper historical context, it is sometimes difficult to see...

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May 20, 2020 ·

First, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Sharon C. Smith, Ph.D., an d I am the Head of Distinctive Collections and Associate Academic at Arizona State University Library. I have lectured widely on issues of documentation, digitization, and the dissemination of knowledge, as well as on art historical topics primarily focused on visual and material culture in the Early Modern Mediterranean. I am strongly committed to ASU’s mission to build a new library for the 21st century through the curation and management of collections housed in ASU Library’s non-circulating...

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