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K-State Today

July 7, 2015

An eclectic exhibit from the Morse Department of Special Collections features materials ideal for research pursuits

Submitted by Sarah McGreer Hoyt

"Eclectica" is the newest K-State Libraries exhibit featuring unique holdings from the Richard L.D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections. Located on the fifth floor of Hale Library, "Eclectica" includes materials from three unrelated — but nonetheless fascinating — collections:

  • Selections from the Limited Editions Club series, a recent rare books gift.
  • Items from the Feminist Newspapers Collection.
  • Books from the new and rapidly growing Military Veterans Juvenile Literature Collection.

"Eclectica" was organized by rare books librarian Roger Adams with guest curators Melia Fritch, undergraduate/community services librarian, and Casey Hoeve, content development librarian. The featured materials would be ideal primary sources for research projects in art history, children's literature, family studies, history, journalism, military studies and women's studies, among others.

Adams' display of books from the Limited Editions Club highlights beautiful examples from one of the most valuable gifts of rare books Kansas State Libraries has ever received: the Limited Editions Club series donated by James Marsden.

Established in 1929 by George Macy, the Limited Editions Club includes many classic titles with original art that have been hand-signed by famous illustrators, photographers and major artists. The books were issued via mail to club subscribers for more than eight decades.

Thanks to Marsden's gift, Special Collections now holds a complete Limited Editions Club collection of nearly 600 volumes. Only three libraries have the whole series, the Nashville Public Library, the University of Texas and Kansas State University.

A larger exhibit of Limited Editions Club works is planned once the entire collection has been cataloged.

Fritch curated the second "capsule collection:" The Feminist Newspapers Collection, which was given to K-State Libraries by Cornelia Butler Flora, a professor of sociology at Kansas State University. The items include feminist newspapers and newsletters dealing with abortion, marriage, rape, divorce and political engagement dating from the '70s through the late '90s.

"This particular collection provides insight into a specific era of the fight for women's equality," Fritch said. "For patrons at Kansas State University, these primary sources are vivid examples of activism in movements that continue today."

Finally, the Military Veterans Juvenile Literature Collection includes books Hoeve worked to acquire. They are intended to support researchers working with military families post-deployment as well as those in the field of children's literature.

"Both are strengths in our K-State community, and I couldn't find examples of a collection of this nature at any other academic library," Hoeve said.

He first developed the idea after noticing that the dust jacket to Shel Silverstein book mentions Silverstein's brief time at Fort Riley.

Additional research revealed that an illustrious list of beloved children's authors spent time in the military: Barbara Cooney, Roald Dahl, Edward Gorey, A.A. Milne, Dr. Seuss, J.R.R. Tolkien and E.B. White, among others. The Military Veterans Juvenile Literature Collection also includes works by recent veterans.

Adams hopes "Eclectica" will be the first of many exhibits that pull from K-State librarians' areas of expertise.

"Casey and Melia are the first guest curators from inside K-State Libraries, and the exhibition came together so beautifully," Adams said. "They have specialized subject knowledge that allowed them to explore and contextualize the Morse Department of Special Collections materials in really valuable ways."

He also hopes it will get other faculty and students excited about the collections. "It was such a thrill to see how enthusiastic our colleagues were about the materials they displayed," Adams said. "I know there are so many researchers at K-State who would have the same experience."

"Eclectica" is on view now through September. For more information, contact Roger Adams at 785-532-7455 or rcadams@k-state.edu.