In celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day we are re-launching our exhibit on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s connection to Drew University.
The online exhibit was designed by our student worker Aviana Miller.
In celebration of Pride this month, we are featuring our Gender & Sexuality Collection. This is a relatively new collection that was started a little over a year ago as a response to the absence of material of the LGBTQIA+ community. This post features a shelfie of the entire collection, and we aim to increase the size and strength of this collection through both purchases and donations in the near future.
In the summer of 1969, police raided a bar in NYC’s Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn. This bar was a haven for the city’s gay, lesbian, and transgender community. Raids on gay bars were unfortunately very common, but on one night the LGBT community fought back! Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were said to have resisted arrest and threw the first stone (or brick or bottle) at the police. These actions sparked a revolution, which had a lasting impact such as the creation of organizations like the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA). On the first anniversary of the police raid on the Stonewall inn, June 28, 1970, gay activists in NYC organized a march to begin the city’s first Gay Pride Week. Other cities soon followed this activism, and hosted their own marches. We encourage you to learn these names and research this history.
Pride is a movement to build community, celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance. Today’s feature is on the history of Wigstock and drag queens. Before there were hit shows like Rupaul’s Drag Race, there was Wigstock. What is Wigstock, you ask? It was a one-day festival in NY’s East Village that celebrated everything drag from 1984 to 2001. It was recently revived by Lady Bunny and Neil Patrick Harris on September 1, 2018 on Pier 17 of the South Street Seaport in NYC. Besides being an all-out drag-filled event, it was a time for activism in the community. Drag is now a mainstream part of culture where queens become their own superstars. Winners of Rupaul’s Drag Race, like Alaska, have credited queens like Lady Bunny and Rupaul for paving the way for drag queens to now to express their craft. For more on drag history and drag couture, take a look at these features in our collection.
This feature for Pride week is the book ‘Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story.’ Written by Jacob Tobia, this memoir details the childhood of a gender-nonconforming child in North Carolina. Tobia details gender stereotypes, that will make you reminisce on your own childhood. Tobia is an activist in the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as a writer, producer, and actor. In late 2019, it was announced that Tobia’s memoir will be developed into a television show, which will follow the life a non-binary student as they move from North Carolina to NYC.
This feature is Judy Garland as an icon and symbol of the LGBTQIA+ community. Specifically referring to the phrase “friend of Dorothy.” This slang dates back to at least World War II when homosexual acts were illegal in the US. Asking someone if they were a “friend of Dorothy” was a euphemism for discussing sexual orientation without others not privy to the phrase knowing its hidden meaning. The origin of the term is unknown, however it possibly refers to the book sequel of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, entitled The Road to Oz (1909). In that book, Dorothy and her companions come upon a new character called Polychrome who exclaims, “You have some queer friends, Dorothy”, and Dorothy replies, “The queerness doesn’t matter, so long as they’re friends.” Commonly, the slang refers to the film The Wizard of Oz because of Garland’s role. The character of Dorothy has become a gay icon, and she was especially iconic when she sang the song “(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow”, which contributed to the design of the rainbow flag.
The story of Juneteenth does not begin and end on June 19, 1865. It does not begin and end with the Emancipation Proclamation or Abraham Lincoln’s assassination or the march of Major-General Granger into Galveston, TX. Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States and celebrates freedom and independence for enslaved people who had been illegally and wrongly held captive for years following the Emancipation Proclamation. The history of abolitionism, anti-slavery efforts, and the fight for freedom is prominent in the collections of Drew University’s archival holdings. But these stories come from a rather narrow perspective: one made up mostly of white voices, male voices, and voices of those in power. We have letters from leaders both within and around the Methodist Church denouncing slavery, supporting abolitionist movements, and fighting in battle for the strength of the Union. One such voice, which is reflected in manuscript form in Drew’s collections, comes from Orange Scott, a Methodist Episcopal minister who “seceded” from the church in 1843 because of the church’s tolerance for slavery. In creating the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion, Scott separates from a system that “has an unholy alliance with slavery” and “is not only a slave-holding, but a slavery defending church.” This was a radical statement in 1843, a year before the Methodist Episcopal Church split between North and South over the issue of slavery; 18 years before the beginning of the Civil War; 20 years before the Emancipation Proclamation; and 22 years before slaves in Galveston were finally freed. Orange Scott’s voice was a strong one, but like most of the voices in the archives it is a white one.
The voices of those who were enslaved are harder to see; which means they should be found and lifted up. The voice of William H. Miles, born into slavery in Kentucky, who helped form the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in 1870 as a denomination separate from the white Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Miles was the slave of Mary Miles, who willed him his freedom upon her death in 1854—but he was not legally freed until 1864. Just like the slaves in Galveston, his freedom was too long delayed. He joined the Methodist Church in 1855, a moment that changed his life even as he faced continued bondage: “If ever I was happy, it was that night in the old Methodist church in Lebanon. Since that time I have had my bitter trials and my sweet experiences, my ups and my downs; but, thank the Great Head of the Church, I am still pulling for the shore and expect to make the landing after awhile, when my work is done.”
The voices of the “Bishops, Elders, and Ministers of the African Methodist Episcopal Church” who stated passionately and firmly in 1865 in an open letter to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives that “the accursed sin of human slavery had been practiced by the South and connived at by the North” resulting in a war “baptising the Slave States in blood and fire, as a just retribution for their cruelties, perpetrated for centuries upon the people of African origin.” They call upon the most powerful political leaders in the country to support the reconstruction of the nation so that it supports “the whole American people, who reside therein, irrespective of their race or color” and call upon the government “to protect the colored American citizen in the enjoyment of all those glorious favors of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as it now does the white man.” This “Memorial to Congress” was sent to Washington, DC in 1865, the same year that President Andrew Johnson enacted his version of Reconstruction, leaving black southerners almost completely out of the process, and offered pardons to southerners who fought against the Union.
The voice of Frederick Douglass, whose works are well-known but whose private letters offer insights that published texts cannot. In a letter to Methodist Bishop Gilbert Haven in February, 1866, Douglass states his concerns about both the country and his own personal safety. While staying in Washington, DC, Douglass reports that “I have been threatened with violence here, and no doubt that if I could be caught a one side and in the dark I might receive an unlucky blow.” In addition for fears about his own safety, Douglass also raises alarm about the country itself: “Johnson’s fear of a war of races is a hint to the baser sort to begin the work of blood. He is actively with the enemy.” Johnson’s vision of Reconstruction verges on another war-like state; not what the leaders of the AME Church had sought in their letter to Congress.
Juneteenth marks an anniversary, the formal announcement in Texas when “an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor” (from General Orders, Number 3, June 19, 1865). The fight for “absolute equality” did not end that day in 1865. It continues to this day and is reflected in the books, letters, official documents, and primary sources found in archives like those at Drew University. Our archives reflect history, but not all history; they reflect lives lived and lives lost, but not all lives; they reflect pain and perseverance and hatred and love and the things that make us human, but not all things. Archives are inherently flawed and tell only part of the story. But the role of these institutions is to share these parts openly and freely so that a larger and more complete story can be told. We cannot tell the whole story of Juneteenth here in the Drew University archives, but we can tell part of it.
We will also share parts of stories from other institutions on social media in order to lift up and echo voices that need to be heard and have been ignored. We encourage you to seek out these voices, to educate, and to share.
Bring Drew Special Collections into your Animal Crossing town! Download these QR codes inspired by the books from Special Collections. If you are up for the challenge… create your very own Wilson Reading Room in your home! The top submissions will be featured on our Instagram!
We invite you to Color our Collections! Let your creativity soar in coloring a page of our Nuremberg Chronicle! Make the werewolf a Renaissance masterpiece, or make the dead dance into a rainbow sunset! If you would like, send your completed creation to our email above for a chance to get featured on our Instagram!
Interested in the medieval holdings in Special Collections? If so, take a look at the file below to see a presentation we put together for a course in medieval humanities. If you would like additional scans of an item, then please send us an email at email@example.com!
In 1793, an outbreak of yellow fever swept through Philadelphia, the young American Republic’s capital city and foremost urban center. Killing 5,000 of the city’s 50,000 inhabitants, this remains one of the most severe epidemics in U.S. history. In subsequent years, outbreaks of yellow fever occurred almost annually in Philadelphia until 1805, including an outbreak in 1798 that rivaled 1793’s in severity. No one alive at time knew that the cause of the dreaded deadly symptoms was an imported virus carried by mosquitoes. This left everyone, including scientists, physicians, merchants, educators, and religious leaders to speculate about the cause of the disease and find ways to deal with its symptoms.
This essay from Anna Louise Bates, scheduled to be published in Methodist History next month, speaks to the informative and insightful ways about Methodists understanding, responses and leadership styles during crises. The timing is uncanny, and GCAH has opted to release this essay in advance of publication.
In this video, Head of Special Collections Brian Shetler and Special Collections Associate Candace Reilly lead a discussion on the new acquisitions to the Methodist Archives. Featuring exciting new items concerning a book about viper venom, a fore-edge painting, a medical bestiary, and even a beautifully illuminated Persian manuscript!
Interested in something spooky? This video from our Ghosts & Monsters event details local lore, and some other monstrous legends! Tales spoken by Head of Special Collections, Special Collections Associate Candace Reilly, student Kass Mattingly, and University Archivist Matthew Beland.
Love British Literature? Enjoy this lecture by Stuart Curran, PhD on Mary Shelley, Betty Bennett, and Frankenstein in front of our past exhibit entitled “What Terrified Me Shall Terrify Others”: 200 Years of Shelley’s Frankenstein.
April 26, 2021 Hope for the Future in a Shared Past, By Liesl Eppes
One of my favorite things that I have recently encountered at the Archives is a set of diaries written by a young girl – Joan Marion Drake – who was growing up in England during World War II. In leafing through these diaries I was at first surprised to find that the entries from many of the most important dates in world history barely differed from the entries of every other day. For example, the entry from June 6, 1944, (D-Day) briefly mentions the invasion and then Joan spends a great deal more time on what the weather was like and who she had tea with that afternoon. While seismic global events take place, life still goes on and it is still the little things – like tea time – that make up most of our lives. In reading that entry I was able to take comfort and better understand what the reality of my own life has been this past year.
For me, the urgency of a global pandemic has been easily muddled by the fact that the best thing most of us can do is essentially nothing. Binging Netflix and taking Buzzfeed quizzes have become encouraged activities. Between teaching ourselves how to bake new types of bread and taking more walks than ever before it is easy to momentarily forget that we are living through what will become something our descendants study in history class. But in a funny way this is one of the most comforting thoughts to me. The world is a crazy place and history continually repeats itself. But maybe by continuing to study our past we can find new comforts and remember that no matter what is happening in the headlines most common folk will keep living ordinary lives; talking about the weather, and enjoying cups of tea.
March 18, 2021 Julie Andrews: A Crossover Icon By Liesl Eppes
In the world of performance there are few who stand out quite like Julie Andrews. Her emblematic performances include Mary Poppins in the film of the same name, Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, and perhaps most recognizably to younger audiences as Queen Clarisse Renaldi in The Princess Diaries. But did you know that even before she graced the silver screen with her presence that she was also a Broadway icon?
Her origination of the role of Eliza Doolittle in the original Broadway production of My Fair Lady is one that I can only assume was spectacular. And while some of us may have not had the good luck to see this performance in person, we are fortunate enough to have a record of it in our Theatre Arts collection housed at the Archives. Her front cover appearance for the role is just one example of the many we have from Julie Andrews’ expansive theatrical career. A transcontinental cross over icon, Miss Andrews continues to bring joy to audiences; inspiring the next generation of female performers in both Broadway and Hollywood.
February 8, 2021 The Legacy of A Raisin in the Sun By Liesl Eppes
One of the highlights of the Theatre Arts Collection is our selection of material which highlights Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun. We not only have a playbill from the original Broadway run of the play, but also features about the play in our Theatre Arts magazines, which include stills from the production along with a complete copy of the script.
A Raisin in the Sun was the first play produced on broadway written by a black female playwright and it’s legacy lives on to this day. This work showcases the challenges faced by black Americans during the 1950’s; the realities of segregation and the struggle for black autonomy and pride in the United States. Through her use of realism, Hansberry eloquently captured the complexities of her time and the challenges that black families faced in their pursuit of a better life. While Hansberry’s sexuality has often been overlooked by historians and critics, she also had a number of short stories and essays’ in which she illustrated her experience as a black lesbian woman. These works were published in underground lesbian journels of the time under the pseudonym Emily Jones (Mumford).
An activist, playwright, and pioneer, Hansberry’s legacy lives on in the writings that she left behind. We are proud to house this selection of her works so that her words can continue to inspire the next generation of students, artists and innovators.
Mumford, Kevin. “Opening the Restricted Box: Lorraine Hansberry’s Lesbian Writing · Lorraine Hansberry: A Museum Show and Opening the Archive · OutHistory: It’s About Time.” Outhistory.org, outhistory.org/exhibits/show/lorraine-hansberry/lesbian-writing.
December 10, 2020 Secret Tunnel? By Liesl Eppes
If you are prone to wandering and have spent time on Drew’s campus you have probably caught on to the fact that there are a great many odd hallways and corners to explore. You may have also heard rumour that there are secret passages and tunnels throughout campus. And while I cannot officially say anything about passageways, I may be able to enlighten you about a certain tunnel…
Now, you may be thinking that it is incredibly counterintuitive of me to be writing an article about a secret tunnel – I should be sending this information in a scroll by carrier pigeon for secrecy. But unfortunately, Mr. Flappy Wings is feeling under the weather at the moment and I must resort to the internet as my primary means of communication.
The tunnel in question can be reached through the creepy warehouse/vault that lies below the archives or through a normal looking door on the library side. The tunnel connects the two buildings and can only be accessed with a super special tunnel key. And yes, as you can see in the photo, it is very creepy looking and would be perfect for sneaking around or filming a scene in a disaster movie.
Your next question may be “How can I see the tunnel for myself? Can I sneak into it? I want in on this fun creepiness!” Well, I’m afraid it is quite impossible to sneak into the tunnel without going through the proper channels and doing so could end quite gruesomely… Besides, if I told you how to become one of the people who’s witnessed the secret tunnel first hand then I would deprive you of the joy of discovering it for yourself. So for now you’ll just have to content yourself with the knowledge that it exists, that it is indeed one of the coolest and creepiest places on campus.
December 1, 2020 Why Visit the Archives? By Liesl Eppes
Are you partial to rare books or creepy artifacts? Do you enjoy looking at old Theatre Magazines or really wish that you could see original playbills from your favorite theatre productions? Do you get a kick out of World War II history or have a hankering to uncover a detailed history of the Methodist Church? Or maybe you just want a spot to study that’s not the library but has a similar feel? If any of these things sounds interesting to you than look no further that the Archives – where we put the special in special collections!
Now, perhaps you are not on campus at the moment. Or maybe you are a freshman and have not had the pleasure of wandering around yet. If this is the case, then let me impart some of my knowledge to you: the archives is awesome! Maybe once you finally get the chance to move to campus you’ll think “why does that building across from the library look so funky?” Well, in part because the building was designed to collapse on itself if bombed so that all the books would be saved – cool right?
That is just one of the cool and wacky secrets that the Archives holds; a veritable plethora of information sits behind those walls just waiting to be discovered. So whether you know the Drew campus well or you are a newbie trying to find your footing, come to the Archives when you get the chance. You won’t regret it!
November 20, 2020 Out of Context Eppes Episode #11: Horror or Hallmark?
As you may or may not know, one of my jobs at the Archives is cataloguing our Theatre Arts collection. Through this process I have come across many interesting articles, but none hold a candle to the weird advertisements I have happened upon. One of which I will now elaborate on and probably misconstrue, as I have done little background research on this particular add – for comedic effect of course.
As you can see, the play A Thousand Clowns was not only a “smash comedy hit” but was also performed in an air conditioned theatre! What’s not to love? Well, other than the possibility of going out for what you hope to be a relaxing evening of theatre only to be confronted with a chorus line of a thousand clowns…
Now, you may be wondering “was this chorus line of clowns the small nugget of truth she discovered in her quick Google search?” The answer is no. The small nugget of truth was actually that this play has something to do with some guy trying to retain custody of his nephew. Which sounds like the log line of like five different rom-coms I’ve already seen – not as interesting as my chorus line of clowns is it?
Now, you may also have noticed that in the quote this ad features, it calls Jason Robards Jr. (who I can only assume was the main character) the “new clown prince of Broadway!” We can glean more than a few uninformed conclusions about this. Firstly, there must have been some old clown prince who this new Robards fellow has overthrown. Secondly, that he must be portraying some sort of royal clown in this production. And finally, that the thousand clowns are actually part of some sort of clown kingdom.
Now imagine that chorus line of clowns with some sort of clown prince in the middle, they’ve all got tap shoes on and are doing a Gene Kelley rendition of “Come Fly With Me” by Sinatra. This is of course the finale, in which the Uncle and his Nephew flee the mean social services lady in a hot air balloon while the other clowns dance their hearts out. They will obviously be headed to join the circus, as in all good clown stories. And depending on whether or not you fear clowns, this is either the most hilarious or the most terrifying musical you have ever seen. At least that’s how I’m picturing it in my head…
So whether you find this story to be horror or hallmark, there can be no doubt that A Thousand Clowns lives forever in the memories of those lucky enough to witness or imagine it.
In this episode of Out of Context Eppes, I will attempt to shed some light on this quandary of a picture. If memory serves me, I believe it was an illustration from some old book – the title of which escapes me. However, there is quite a bit of imagined information about this image that I can provide you with.
It was, of course, the drawing of a Miss Thorndrop of 13th street, number 84, the house with the red door. Miss Thorndrop (as is commonly known) used to drink rare teas before retiring to bed in order that she might have the most entertaining dreams possible. She was, sadly, one of those people who gets bored with sleep unless they are having fascinating dreams; hence the teas.
It was the morning after trying a new thimbleberry tea that Miss Thorndrop had her dream about “Grouse Driving.” Illustrating the dream upon her awakening would have been all in good fun on Miss Thorndrop’s part, except for the fact that this time she took her ideas a little too far. After illustrating the grouse driving incident, Miss Thorndrop took the image down to the patent office with the hopes of profiting off the idea. She believed that since the grouse had been able to travel at breakneck speed in her dream, that grouse driving would become the dominant form of travel. However, as we all know, grouse driving never took off. The reason for this was of course that the day Miss Thorndrop spent the better part of her savings on her patent was the same day Mr. Ford was testing out his first automobile…
So, if you take nothing else from this fake story, at least use it as a precautionary tale not to sink your life savings into an idea from your most recent dream.
As many of you may know, the most interesting people that you will never meet are hermits. I know this because not only did I play a hermit in a musical improv sketch once, but I also have done little to no research on the topic. And yes, I know that what you just read made almost no sense, but have a little faith – I’m an expert in pretending to be an expert.
Anyway, I will now give you the highlights of “Letters From a Hermit”. It was a series of letters sent to some periodical or other in which a Hermit (who will remain nameless) detailed his daily life. As you can see in the picture, his adventures included his best friend and sole companion, Toughy the squirrel. Because as everyone knows, Hermit Code dictates that the only acceptable friend for a Hermit is a squirrel.
The Hermit’s letters include a description of the never before documented SRAARAHC (Semi Regular, Always Awkward and Rarely Attended Hermit Convention). He also took the time to describe in painful detail each individual puzzle piece from every puzzle that he owned. He owned 367 puzzles and held the belief that a puzzle with less than 10,000 pieces was easy enough for a blind baby with allodoxaphobia to do
in less than eleven minutes. A belief which many have disputed, but none have disproven. In fact, it was precisely for quips like this that the Hermit became so popular, despite his distaste for human contact. The letters of this elusive Hermit put him on the map as the only Hermit to ever become a global phenomenon. Which begs the question: if you’re a world famous hermit, are you any good at being a hermit? I have no idea, but I still feel like it’s an important question to ask.
If you enjoyed that jaunt down “Liesl is an expert at pretending to be an expert” lane, join me next time when I take a look at the Broadway musical A Thousand Clowns. Never heard of it? Me neither! But that hasn’t stopped me yet.
Even though I have no memory of where this drawing was found – I am going to give you an account of its discovery in the most vivid detail possible. Picture this: you are walking down a dark abandoned hallway. It’s creepy and somehow damp. You hear an inexplicably consistent to your old buddy Steve?
Yet ever changing dripping even though it’s the middle of a drought. Alarmingly, you haven’t seen Suzy for at least ten minutes. And even more alarming than that, you have forgotten who Suzy is. Is she your friend? Your grandmother? Your boss? Mail-Lady? Cobbler? You have no clue. All of a sudden you hear the screeching of a great owl. The owl drops a scroll into your hand and disappears into the darkness. You open the scroll in the torchlight and find this picture.
The bear terrifies you. You know in an instant that it is Suzy’s calling card. But why did Suzy sign her name Braden? Is it part of the pyramid scheme? Or did you come here with her? Steve was right, the dripping does make you lose your mind. But if you were losing your mind, would you know that you were? And what ever happened
“Only time will tell” you think to yourself. And it’s at that precise moment that time runs out. You hear a loud “whop” sound and all of a sudden you’re sitting in the Reading Room of the Archives. The note is still in your hand. All you have are guesses as to its origin. And even though you’re not sure why, you swear to yourself that you’ll never eat a funnel cake again.
That my friends, is the origin of this creepy, cursed drawing. Join me next time when I’ll analyse a letter from a Hermit!
For this episode of “Out of Context Eppes” I must admit that I actually do know the explanation behind the artifact in question. However, I plan to willfully ignore the truth and make up something else entirely.
The following book, Discovery Concerning Ghosts; With A Rap at the “Spirit Rappers” was written by Harry Potter’s great-great-great-uncle, Reginald Potter. Reginald moved to the United States after getting kicked out of The Ministry of Magic for “unseemly use of language” and “inappropriate ghost friendship”. Odd misdemeanors I know, but the wizarding world is a confusing place from a muggle’s perspective. Which for the record, I am not – I just have a fantastic imagination as previously exhibited.
Anyway, Reginald took his 1770’s style ouija-board and his clever word play to the new world, where he became friends with some of the founding fathers; who jumped at the chance to learn about Reginald’s new style of poetry. Thus, Reginald, his ghost friend Bertha, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton became the first rapping quartet. Unfortunately though, their talents went unappreciated by the people of the day because they were so ahead of their time. But it turned out okay though, because once they were all ghosts, they visited Lin Manuel Miranda in a dream – giving him the idea for the hit musical Hamilton.
And so, this book serves as testament to the rapping talents of the first and only ghost-human rapping quartet to date. Join me next time for what may or may not be a death threat in the guise of a child’s drawing!
On this episode of “Out of Context Eppes” we will discuss the book Nothing to Wear. As usual, I was intrigued enough by the title to take a picture of the title page and leave the rest to my imagination. As you can see in the accompanying photo, the page reads Nothing to Do: An Accompaniment to Nothing to Wear’ by A Lady. Let’s start with Nothing to Do; a classic book with an impeccably detailed list of all the ways that you can entertain yourself when you are a bored lady with nothing to do. It probably has some interesting recipes and cross stitching patterns in addition to other lady-like pastimes. Nothing to Wear clearly addresses the common problem of having absolutely nothing to wear. It’s a guide on how to revamp your closet with some trendy sewing and knitting skills. It makes the perfect accompaniment to Nothing to Do because obviously when you have nothing to do, revamping your closet is the perfect way to spend your time. Thus together, Nothing to Do and Nothing to Wear are the perfect guides for the average bored lady with an uninspiring closet. Now, it’s probably safe to say that the “Lady” author was just trying to be anonymous, but I think there’s a more interesting explanation: aliens. Picture this – a wacky alien who just wants to become a famous author but who has no audience on their home planet of Blool. So what do they do?
Write their lady’s guides and then anonymously send them to the publisher as a “lady”, thus fulfilling their alien dreams and preserving their anonymity.
So there you have it. My completely unfounded but infinitely more interesting explanation behind “Nothing to Do.” Join me next time where I’ll discuss ghost rapping!
The Drew University Methodist Archives contains an impressive body of work, both Methodist and secular. Among these works are a number of special collections that Drew has obtained over the years. One of the many collections that Drew possesses is the comic book collection donated by Bill Rogers, which I’ve had the absolute privilege of being able to read and sort through. My job was to take part in inputting the collection into our records, and catalogue each book. I contributed to this massive catalogue along with many other student employees at the Archives, who all joined forces in the collaborative effort. The archival material consists of hundreds of different comic books, including series from DC, Marvel, and other smaller publications as well.
During my hours working, I was tasked with recording a specified set of information for each work, and typing it into a large index on Google Sheets. This index was then combined by Brian Shetler with the other students’ records into one colossal database. Each record contains the title of each work, its publisher, author(s), illustrator(s), publication year, volume and number in the series, donor, and the number of copies of each individual book. Some boxes contained upwards of 50 copies of a single issue. The collection contained a diverse variety of series, including mature content such as that of “The ‘Nam,” as well as child-friendly comics such as “Wally the Wizard.”
My personal favorite series that I came across while sorting was the “What If” Marvel series. The name may sound familiar, as this is the comic series off of which the new Marvel TV show “What If” is based. As you’ve probably heard, the series follows a number of different alternate universes, and explores what would have happened if certain significant canonical events in the Marvel Universe were altered in some way. Each issue is different, and the events are observed by a race of beings called “the Watchers,” whose purpose is to watch over the multiverse. Another interesting fun fact is that Stan Lee has been confirmed as a Watcher throughout the Marvel films, which explains why he continually appears in different cameo roles in each movie.
While cataloging this particular set of books, I admittedly found myself reading through each copy as I recorded it. It was especially fascinating due to the versatility of its plots, and its ability to appeal to such a broad audience. Each issue is singular from the last, and nearly every plot is entirely encapsulated within one issue. Because of this there is no need to follow the series in its totality, which allows for a casual fanbase as well as a more intensely involved one. It also intrigued me because of the different characters and universes it incorporates into its stories. There are so many Marvel series that I love, and I loved being able to enjoy so many different characters within one set of comics. Sorting through these books was an absolute joy, and I look forward to continuing my work upon our return to campus.
Is it a man? Is it a kangaroo? Nope. It’s Kangaroo Man! But what was Kangaroo Man’s origin? What are his wants, needs and biggest dreams? The ones he dares not even write down in his kangaroo journal? Well, I have absolutely no idea. But I will guess! Based on the pull quote that I have included below, I can only assume that even though Kangaroo Man is surely more Kangaroo than Man, he still keeps a pet. And taking into consideration that Kangaroo Man is undoubtedly from The Land Down Under – it’s probably a Koala. A Koala who’s name was Irwin and that Kangaroo Man unfortunately treats like a dog; feeding him nothing but cod liver oil pills. Which was clearly product placement for a local Australian cod liver oil company back in the day. I say this because contrary to popular belief – Koala’s always prefer squid liver oil to cod liver oil.
But that is all common knowledge. And even though I have failed to ever finish reading a superhero comic book (more of a Calvin & Hobbes gal myself), I am very good at pretending to be an expert on things. Particularly obscure comics (see my post on Too Much Coffee Man for reference). So, as a pretend expert on obscure comic books, I will now list all of my insider knowledge about Kangaroo Man for your reading pleasure:
So there you have it: an expert’s take on Kangaroo Man!
In this installment of Out of Context Eppes, we will be discussing a section of a book titled “The Plague of Cats” the name of the book itself however, has been lost in the catacombs of my memory. We can gather based on this small excerpt though, that this story has something to do with ghosts, witches and took place in 1718.
Thus, it seems clear that this is the true story behind what would become known as the Crazy Cat Trials which are often overshadowed by the better known Salem Witch Trials. The reason they are not as well known is of course due to the fact that these trials were held by the court of local forest creatures rather than wacky religious people.
Essentially the cats decided to plague the local village by meowing at all hours of the night as a social experiment to see what effect it would have on human society. The unfortunate side effect of this was that it also disturbed the other forest creatures who quickly decided to press
charges on the cats for obstruction of peace and antagonism of humans. The cats were found guilty and sentenced with one week without clawing furniture – a rather severe punishment that served its purpose well. After the Crazy Cat Trial the cats of Selem never again experimented on humans – something which can not be said of other cat communities but you can’t win them all. Besides, that’s kind of what makes cats so fantastic isn’t it?
Tune into the next instalment for Kangaroo Man!
Welcome to another instalment of Out of Context Eppes! Today I will be speculating on this interesting ad from the 1930’s. As you can see, it advertises protection from tuberculosis (yesteryear’s version of COVID-19).
Now I’m pretty sure that based on the picture that the ad is referring to some festive method of sealing envelopes? That will somehow lower your chances of getting tuberculosis? Which, truth be told, makes very little sense to me. So here’s what I think it really is an add for: festive guard seals that you could adopt to keep sick people out of your house. This may seem slightly far fetched but if you were a sick person, would you want to face an angsty yet festive guard seal? I know I wouldn’t.
Besides, after the holidays and T.B. pandemic end, you could have a cool pet seal to hang out with; it’s a win-win. In fact, I think we should implement Coronavirus guard seals – if anything it would make this would quarantine business a lot more interesting. But that’s just an idea. Tune in next time where we’ll discuss a plague of cats!
As you may or may not know by now, this is a series in which I take the odd what-nots of the Archives out of context and make wild assumptions about their meaning and origin. I do this all with little to no background research on said items; because where’s the fun in being well informed when you can make ignorant assumptions about things instead?
Anyway, today’s instalment is on this intriguing book titled The Squibs of California or Every-Day Life Illustrated. Now, in case you were unaware, in Harry Potter squibs are people who are born into wizard families but who are unable to do magic. So obviously this book is about the everyday lives of squibs born to poor unfortunate Californian Wizards.
Let me paint you a hypothetical picture of the story this book surly details: we open on a beach in San Diego. A surfer dude walks in from a morning of catching waves, only to get home and remember that his love of surfing was born out of a sadness that he could not cast spells like his sisters. His ordinary surfer life pales in comparison to that of his family, and he is constantly teased by his cousins who call him the “surfing squib”; not very clever but hurtful nonetheless.
In fact, Stephen is the first member of the Wilson family to start a surfing shop instead of working in the family wand shop. He must learn to ride the waves of life despite the challenges that come with being an ordinary Californian Squib. Not bad, huh? I’d read it, or watch the movie based off of it…
Anyway, thank you for joining me on this journey – tune in next time for an episode about Christmas seals and tuberculosis!
Good morning, and welcome to the first installment of Out of Context Eppes! In this series I will show you pictures of things from the Archives which I have done little to no research on and taken completely out of context. I will then make wild speculations about these items, all for your entertainment. Of course, you could do some quick research and find out the history of most of these items pretty quickly but where’s the fun in that?
For our first quandary, I present to you what I think might be a child’s hit list that I discovered while cataloguing the Theatre Arts Collection. I think it is important to note that I found this list in the same magazine that featured an article on some very unsettling Russian Puppets. The child was clearly a master puppeteer and ventriloquist and was planning on using those skills for accomplishing their mission of death.
It is also important to note that the child was clearly practicing their handwriting skills while creating this hit list, indicating that the child was intelligent enough to 1) make enemies and 2) know how to get rid of them.. In addition to this, while the format might be slightly different, this list reminds me of the one that The Bride uses in Kill Bill to keep track of who she wants to kill and who is left (see reference photo below).
Now maybe it could be argued that the child was just making a list of their friends…but that is much less interesting and therefore, less plausible. So, all speculation aside I think we can agree that I found a child’s hit list. Tune in next time for: Squibs of California!
I don’t know anyone who adores the King James Bible as much as my Dad. Growing up, he would read it to me and my siblings, who would sit there utterly confused by the sheer number of times “thee” or “thou” would appear in a single Psalm. In fact, it is thanks to him that even as a toddler I knew that the first English translation of the bible – one which led the way to the common man being able to read what had once been reserved for priests – was commissioned by a King who’s name was James. Otherwise, I would have lived in complete obliviousness to that key moment in book printing, religious and linguistic history.
So when I started working at the Archives and discovered (while holding the book in my hands) that we housed a rare first edition copy of the King James Bible, my first thought was of my Dad. And when we had some downtime while moving into my dorm this past year, I knew that the most exciting place I could take my Dad in the New York Metropolitan Area, would be to the Archives to see the King James Bible. He was ecstatic to learn more about it’s history, and how one of the things that makes our copy so rare is a typo in the book of Ruth that uses the pronoun “he” rather than “she”. Apart from theologians or printing history nerds, I don’t think that anyone would have been more excited to have their picture taken with a first edition King James Bible as my Dad. I’m sure he would agree in saying that our “He” version of The King James is truly one of the highlights of the Special Collections.
If you could go back in time and watch any theatrical performance, which would it be? A niche question perhaps, but one which I ask consistently nonetheless. To be honest, my answer has oscillated between watching Medeain Athens, seeing the London premiere of Les Misérables, or watching the original production of Hamilton. But I usually come back to watching Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Julie Andrews was a constant in my childhood – I can’t imagine my life without Mary Poppinsor The Sound of Music – I mean I’m literally named after the oldest Von Trapp daughter. And who hasn’t wished that their long lost grandmother from Genovia would turn out to be Julie Andrews who would then tell you that you are actually a princess? Needless to say, my heart would stop if I ever was ever fortunate enough to meet Julie Andrews. In addition to that – I loved My Fair Ladygrowing up. I can’t deny that I felt a certain kinship to Eliza in that I was not ladylike at all, but that it would be lov-aly to sit in an enormous chair and eat chocolate for the foreseeable future.
It’s because of this combination that I always come back to choosing Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle. This is also the reason that my favorite magazine in our Theatre Arts Magazine Collection is this one. It is complete with a review of Julie Andrews’ performance and includes more production stills accompanying the corresponding article. While I may not be able to travel back in time to watch the actual performance, this is a close second and yet another reason why I love working at the Archives.
The thing that I love about theatre is also the thing that I hate about theatre: it’s live and no two performances are alike. I love this because it means that when you see something incredible, it’s absolute magic. I hate it because it means that if you aren’t in the right place at the right time, you totally miss out. Some of the most influential performances in human history – many of which still influence the way theatre is performed today, no living person was around to see. We are left to imagine what we can based on scripts, first hand accounts and in more recent history: Playbills. This is precisely the reason that I, and my fellow theatre nerds, geek out over and collect Playbills. They are one of the few traces that theatre leaves behind even after everything else is gone.
So as you can imagine, cataloguing the Playbill collection was like looking through a treasure box. For example, we have a playbill from the 1993 broadway production of Les Misérables, one of my favorite musicals. And while I still have yet to see a live production of Les Mis, looking through that playbill brought me just a little closer to the magic. And it’s because of this magic that the Playbill collection stands out to me as one of our most exciting collections at the Archives.
One of my favorite things about working at the Archives is that I am constantly surprised by all of the amazing things that we have in our collections. I get to hold history in my hands and every day I discover something new. One of the major discoveries I have made during my time at the Archives is Too Much Coffee Man. Never heard of him? Neither had I. But once I stumbled upon the origin issue of this classic comic series (see pictured below), I knew I would never be the same.
As odd and disturbing as this image may be – Too Much Coffee Manwill forever hold a special place in my heart. You can never have too much of Too Much Coffee Man – if you don’t believe me then why is there an opera based off of the comics? And to think that without the Archives I would never have borne witness to the incredibleness that is Too Much Coffee Man. Yes, I think it is safe to say that it is precisely because of discoveries like this that working at the Archives is the best job I’ve ever had.
As a student worker with Drew’s Special Collections department, I am currently photographing Lord Byron-related objects and memorabilia. Some of the objects that I have photographed so far include a dish, a puzzle, several medallions, a stamp, and framed drawings and paintings of Lord Byron himself. I am doing this to allow researchers an in-depth view of Lord Byron material culture. This project was commissioned by the Byron Society of America to provide academic persons the privilege of accessibility as they no longer have to travel to see these works. Once complete, these images will be posted online through JSTOR Forum.
Two key facets that I learned through this project are basic object photography as well as the importance of digitization and accessibility. Prior to this project, I had some experience in object photography from a museum internship during my freshman year of college. Through the Lord Byron project, I was able to refine my photography skills and experiment with mediums that I have not worked with before. The second take-away from this project was learning about the crucial intersection between digitization and accessibility first hand as it eliminates the physical barrier and creates a more inclusive user experience. As one of the students who is digitalizing the Lord Byron, I am making these works accessible to anyone from anywhere, allowing people to use this material who otherwise may not able to afford transportation to the archives or has a condition that does not permit them to travel.
My experience as a student worker has consisted of nothing but positive interactions. Since beginning my job at the start of the spring semester, I’ve had an incredibly enriching experience thus far. After reading through the expectations and regulations of the job, I completed a brief training along with the help of Brian and Candace, as well as the other student workers at the Archives. Afterwards I began my first task cataloging a large collection of old comic books donated by Bill Rogers. The assignment was a bit daunting at first due to the sheer size of the collection, but I was quickly reassured that I was in good company in my quest. And in fact, once I began flipping through the comics and sorting through them, I was shocked at how quickly the time flew by. Believe it or not, I sorted a grand total of over 600 comic books!
The collection I sorted through was absolutely fascinating. I recorded comic books dating from the early ‘70s to the late ‘80s, which included series from both Marvel and DC. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get frequently distracted by the comics, but with stories like those of Doctor Strange and The Mighty Thor, how could I not?
Being a shameless busybody, it’s easy for me to say that I enjoy working. However, I can also confidently say that my job is both academically valuable, and unbelievably supportive. My bosses are lenient when it comes to academics, leaving ample room for me to stay on top of my school work. Yet at the same time, they hold high expectations for us, and always expect the best out of their employees. But this doesn’t just apply to my bosses; all of my coworkers have shown unwavering kindness and support, especially through these recently unstable circumstances. Having stability within all of this chaos has been the greatest gift, and I value it more than anything.
Unfortunately, virtual instruction began before I had the opportunity to complete the job, but I’m happy to say that I have something to look forward to once I come back. Since switching over to DVT, I’m incredibly fortunate in that I’ve been working for the Archives remotely. The transition to virtual schooling has not been an easy one, but having the luxury of consistent and reliable work has been comforting. In addition, Brian and Candace have gone out of their way to keep tabs on all of us by holding regular Zoom meetings for everybody to check in and catch up. I know I probably sound like a broken record when I say this, but I truly am so grateful to have had such a wonderful experience as a student employee (and no, Brian and Candace are not paying me to say this- well, I mean, technically they are, but you know what I mean). I fully intend to continue working at the Archives for the remainder of my college career, and am certain that those years will go by all too fast.