Browse Exhibits (63 total)

From Fort Sumter to the Appomattox Courthouse:<br>The American Civil War

April 9 will mark the 150th anniversary of Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Virginia, effectively ending the American Civil War, which had officially commenced on April 12, 1861, when Confederate artillery fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. 

The Civil War is the central event in America's historical consciousness. The Union victory preserved the United States as one nation and ended the institution of slavery that had divided the country from its beginning. But these achievements came at the cost of 625,000 lives -- nearly as many American soldiers as have died in all the other wars in which this country has fought combined.

The Special Collections of the University of Delaware Library house a wealth of material on the Civil War and the exhibition features books, original manuscripts, correspondence, and documents; photographs, pamphlet literature, artifacts, memorabilia and ephemera related to his monumental event.

The Legacy of the Delaware Coastal Zone Act: Conserving the First State

       January 27, 2015 – July 3, 2015


Delaware Coastal Zone Act

Marsh Wren. Photograph by Meghann Matwichuk.


The Coastal Zone Act, signed in 1971 by Gov. Russell Peterson, is widely considered to be the most important -- and one of the most contentious -- piece of environmental legislation ever passed in Delaware. For over 40 years, it has protected 115 miles of Delaware’s coast from the destructive impacts of heavy industrialization and commercial development.

To showcase some of the materials in the University of Delaware Library related to this cornerstone legislation and the unique ecological treasures and opportunities it protects, “The Legacy of the Delaware Coastal Zone Act” exhibition features selected manuscripts, books including children’s books, videos and periodicals.

The exhibition also includes information on Peterson and the act, ecological treasures of the Delaware coast, the importance of protected habitats to the extraordinary symbiotic relationship between the red knot shorebird and the prehistoric horseshoe crab, and local research and future directions connected to these topics.

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Clean Elections: Senator John J. Williams of Delaware and the Voting Rights Act of 1965

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Voting Rights Act – the landmark legislation that prohibited discrimination against minority voters. This exhibition features items from the Papers of Senator John J. Williams and includes constituent letters, printed ephemera, and documents on the Voting Rights Act. The University of Delaware Library joins the Association of Center for the Study of Congress (ACSC) in a national celebration of the sixth annual Congress Week, April 1-7, 2015.

The Voting Rights Act was introduced in Congress on March 17, 1965. Senator John J. Williams (R-DE) introduced the “Clean Elections” amendment to the bill on March 18, 1965. Williams stated that he supported the principles that every American citizen should have the right to vote; however, he believed that the process of participating in the election process was often nullified by fraudulent voting behaviors, such as vote buying and falsifying voter registration information. The “Clean Elections” amendment sought to penalize such behavior and ensure an honest and clean election process. Williams’s amendment passed 86-0 in the U.S. Senate on April 29, 1965. The Voting Rights Act passed to a 77-19 vote on May 26, 1965 and was signed into law on August 6, 1965.

The University of Delaware Library is an institutional member of ACSC, which was founded in 2003 to support a wide range of programs designed to inform and educate students, scholars, policy-makers, and members of the general public on the history of Congress, legislative process, and current issues facing Congress.  The ACSC encourages preservation of material that documents the work of Congress, including the papers of representatives and senators, and supports programs that make those materials available for educational and research use.  Modern congressional holdings at the University of Delaware Library include the personal papers of John J. Williams (U.S. Senate, 1947-1971); J. Allen Frear, Jr. (U.S. Senate, 1949-1961); Thomas C. Carper (U.S. House of Representatives, 1983-1993); Michael N. Castle (U.S. House of Representatives); and Edward E. “Ted” Kaufman (U.S. Senate, 2009-2010). The most recent addition to these important resources is the collection of senatorial papers from Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (U.S. Senate, 1973-2009), which arrived in June 2012.


Margaret Walker: a Centenary Exhibition

Margaret Walker

While she may be unknown to some, poet, novelist and teacher Margaret Walker (1915-1998) made an outsized impact on American literature. During a period when segregation and discrimination were legal in the American South, Walker wrote poems demanding civil rights and celebrating the language and culture, struggles and triumphs of African Americans. Critics have praised the combination of formal precision and deep conviction found in her poetry. Walker was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Her father was Methodist minister who would eventually join the faculty of New Orleans University. Her mother taught in the music department at the same institution. After her graduation from Northwestern University in 1934, Walker moved to Chicago, where she worked as a writer for the Works Progress Administration. She became a member of Chicago’s South Side Writers’ Group, and struck up a close friendship with novelist Richard Wright. Walker’s intellectual and literary coming of age took place during this period, and her poetry began to appear in national magazines. A major triumph came in 1942, with the publication of her first collection, For My People. She continued to publish poetry and prose for the next fifty years.

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A terrible beauty is born: The Easter Rising at 100

I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

—William Butler Yeats, “Easter, 1916"

2016 marks the centenary of the Easter Rising in Ireland, when a small band of republicans’ brief insurrection over Easter Week 1916 resulted in their declaration of independence from Great Britain to form the Irish Republic (Poblacht na hÉireann).  Quickly and violently squashed by the British, the Easter Rising became a defining moment for the complex landscape of Irish culture, politics, and history in the twentieth century.

Shortly after noon on April 24, 1916, Patrick Pearse (Pádraig Pearse or Pádraig Mac Piarais) emerged from the newly formed headquarters of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic at Dublin’s General Post Office. He read—to a very small crowd—the hastily printed Proclamation of the Republic (Forógra na Poblachta), which not only asserted Ireland’s right to independence, but also justified the cause for armed rebellion, bloodshed, and sacrifice within the tradition of the Irish physical force movement.

In response, the British government declared martial law. After days of shelling and fierce fighting, the rebels surrendered unconditionally to prevent more deaths. Fifteen men, including the seven signatories of the Proclamation, were tried by secret military courts and executed for participating in the Uprising in May. A sixteenth man, Roger Casement,  was imprisoned in Pentonville Gaol in London, where he was tried on charges of High Treason an hanged on 3 August 1916, the only leader of the Rising to be executed outside of Ireland.

Reaction during and immediately after the Rising was mixed. It had been disruptive and, to many, needlessly violent: by the end of the week, 64 insurgents, 132 soldiers and police, and about 230 civilians had perished. Over 1,000 people were wounded. The General Post Office, Dublin City Hall, and other landmarks around Dublin were in shambles. But public opinion at home and abroad soon turned with the disclosure of the severity of the executions, the secret trials, and deportations. The leaders of the Rising became cult heroes in the months after their executions.

Between May and September 1916, William Butler Yeats wrote what would become “Easter, 1916,” a poem that was not the ringing endorsement of Republicanism many had hoped it would be (though it was interpreted as such). Despite his prominent role in the Literary Revival and establishment of the Abbey Theatre in the earlier part of the century, Yeats became increasingly disillusioned with radicalism. Irish historian and Yeats biographer R.F. Foster notes that “Easter, 1916” instead “emphasized not only the bewildered and delusional state of the rebels, but it move[d] on to a plea for the flashing, changing joy of life rather than the harsh stone of fanatical opinion fixed in the effluvial stream.”

Literary texts—with a copy of the rare first edition of Yeats’s Easter, 1916 as the iconic centerpiece—are exhibited alongside political broadsides, manuscripts, letters, periodicals, and graphics, reflecting the significant role print culture had in inspiring patriotism, relaying news, spreading rumors, and constructing a national mythology from a complex variety of events and players that, for some, is traced over centuries of British colonial rule.

The exhibition examines events and attitudes before and after the events of Easter Week 1916, including the Gaelic Revival, the rise of Irish Nationalism, the War of Independence (1917-1921), the Civil War (1922-1923), and Irish literature produced in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland during The Troubles in the latter half of the twentieth century.

25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the areas of employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. Inspired in part by the civil rights legislation of the 1960s, this landmark law was signed by President George H. W. Bush on July 26, 1990. To commemorate this event, the University of Delaware Library Diversity Committee presents an exhibition entitled “25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.” This exhibition features books, videos, and other information related to the ADA and the topic of disability rights. It will cover four major areas: an overview and explanation of the ADA; an overview of the disability rights movement; implementation and compliance issues; and employment and human resources information.

The exhibition is curated by the members of the University of Delaware Library Diversity Committee: Nicole Allaband, Tammi Kim, Curtis Small, Jr., and Theresa Warren. It will be on display in the Information Area of Morris Library from July 21, 2015 to December 15, 2015.


Staging History: Barrie Stavis and the Dramatization of John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry

Barrie Stavie in his Library

Barrie Stavis (June 16, 1906 – February 2, 2007) is best known for his plays portraying historic figures whose controversial or radical ideas and actions present a challenge to contemporary authority. These plays depict the actions of men who set an ethical course from which they cannot be turned, while their determination changed the world even though they themselves were made to suffer or even executed for their beliefs. John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry was an event Stavis explored over an extended period of time.

Remembering Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleaon Bonaparte

This exhibition commemorates the 200th anniversary of Waterloo, which took place on June 21, 1815. The objects on display refer to particular moments in Napoleon’s career.  The two larger medals depict events from the Revolution: the storming of the Bastille and the forced arrival of the King in Paris in 1789, which marked a decisive blow to his authority.  A letter from Napoleon’s Marshal Jacques Etienne MacDonald describes planned troop movements and routes for the Battle of Austerlitz (1805), one of Napoleon’s greatest victories. An undated letter from Napoleon himself is included in the exhibition, along with an engraved image of his tomb on Saint Helena island.  Napoleons’s body was brought to France in 1840.

 The items on display are from the Frank W. Tober papers and the Marshals of Napoleon collection.

Treasures from the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection

Look at all these lovely Victorian things!  

Will H. Bradley, An American Artist: Selections from the Gordon A. Pfeiffer Collection

merican artist and illustrator Will H. Bradley (1868-1962) had a marked impact on fine and commercial graphic arts in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. He contributed to the growth of the graphic arts in the United States and influenced developments in illustration and layout practices in the book and periodical arts. Bradley began his career by working as a printer, from which he moved on to designing borders and illustrations for a variety of newspapers, periodicals, and books. He was also particularly acclaimed for his poster art. (Looking back on his career, Bradley wrote that he was always interested in being an artist, and that he had first pursued printing as a means to this end.) In 1895, Bradley founded the Wayside Press in Springfield, Massachusetts, with the intention of designing and overseeing every aspect of a book’s design and publication. During this time he published a monthly arts periodical, Bradley: His Book. In 1897 Bradley suffered a nervous and physical breakdown from overwork, having been overwhelmed by the strain of the sheer number of projects he was trying to complete. He sold his press to John Wilson & Son of the University Press the following year, having concluded that he could no longer manage the press on his own. Bradley’s artistic output remained immense, though, and he continued to produce a great variety of art for books, magazines, posters, trade catalogs, and advertisements. From 1917 to 1930 he worked for William Randolph Hearst, producing films and magazines for Hearst’s organization. Although Bradley officially retired from the Hearst organization in 1930, he remained an active and important member of the graphic arts world for the rest of his long life.

Gordon Pfeiffer (University of Delaware, BE'56) had a successful forty-year career in banking, from which he retired as senior vice president of Mellon Bank. In 1977, he co-founded the Delaware Bibliophiles and has been an active member of the Board of the University of Delaware Library Associates since 1979, including serving as President from 1982-1985. In 2014, Gordon A. Pfeiffer began donating his collection of Will Bradley material to the University of Delaware Library. Throughout the book, library, and collecting worlds, Pfeiffer is a renowned collector of books and ephemera, and he has long been a generous donor to the University of Delaware Library. Gordon Pfeiffer’s Will Bradley collection contains a great variety of books, periodicals, prints, ephemera, and artifacts, spanning the whole of Will H. Bradley’s long and productive career. The size and scope is so vast that the items on display in the exhibition gallery can only represent a fraction of the great wealth of materials found in Pfeiffer’s collection.

This exhibition celebrates Gordon Pfeiffer's generous gift to the University of Delaware Library and highlights one of the world’s premier collections of the work of Will H. Bradley.