Last week as I was cataloging photographs from the Caufield & Shook collection, one particular image struck me. It was an image from St. Vincent’s Orphanage in 1941 of three little girls eating at a short table. My first impression was “Awww! They look so sweet with their perfect little dresses and bows.” It took me a moment to realize what the scene was really portraying – and even longer to work through some of the complicated ideas related to the photograph’s creation and purpose.
On closer examination I realized that each of these sweet little girls with bows was eating a meager meal of crackers, an apple, and an empty ice cream cone. It was that empty ice cream cone that really got me. I thought, “How sad!” But with a little more thought I considered how perfect these little girls looked. Perfectly neat and clean, coiffed and dressed. How perfectly pitiful to be eating plain crackers and ice cream cones without the ice cream. How perfect for an advertisement asking donors to support the orphanage.
*Mental headslap!* Well, of course, it is! The photograph was commissioned and paid for by St. Vincent’s Orphanage. Sometimes when I’m working with historical photographs I’m so drawn in by the all the details that indicate its era that I forget that not all historical photographs are documentary in nature. This image was taken by the commercial photography studio Caufield & Shook. They were paid to take photographs at the orphanage for some purpose. It may or may not show a typical meal at the orphanage.
In some ways I appreciate the ambiguity of this image. It made me stop and think. What details in this photo were staged? What details are accurate? And where is the line for photographers between documentary photography, commercial work and works of fiction?
This post continues the series on some of the earliest books in the Art Library’s collection, all of which are housed in the Art Library’s rare book room. If you want to see any of them, just ask at the desk.
Piero Valeriano is the author of the next book we’ll look at. Titled Ioannis Pierii Valeriani Bellunensis Hieroglyphica, Seu, de Sacris Aegyptiorum Aliarumque Gentium Literis Commentarii : Summa cum Industria Exarati, & in Libros Quinquaginta Octo Redacti … : Accessere Nunc Primùm Perutiles ad Marginem Annotationes Nunquam Hactenus Excusae, unà cum Declamatiuncula Pro Barbis, ac Eiusdem Poematibus … cum Indice Gemino, it was published in Lugduni (Lyon, France) by Sumptibus Pauli Frelon in 1602.
Pierio Valeriano (1477-1560) was a scholar and poet and, like many 16th century humanists, worked for rich cardinals and bishops. In Valeriano’s case, the bishop he worked for was Pope Leo X. His book, the beginning of which translates as Hieroglyphics or sacred writing of the Egyptians, argues that the symbolic wisdom of Egyptians accords with the fundamental teachings of Christian theology. His book is a pioneering work on hieroglyphics and emblematic literature, bringing together the allegorical symbolism of medieval bestiaries and the symbolic approach to Egyptian writing.
Emblematic literature flourished in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. An emblem combines both words and images, the interpretation of which is meant to require a degree of intellectual effort . The result of that effort is an understanding of the intended moral lesson. Emblems generally consist of three parts: a short motto, a pictorial representation or icon, and the explanation of the link between them in an epigram.
Below are the title page and a typical page:
Why does the library collect rare books? Because they are primary source materials of art history, offering a first-hand account of an artist’s life, the first critical response to a building or painting, or a new theory of art or architecture. As the building blocks of art history, they remain relevant sources for researchers.
Anyone who was on the fourth (okay, and third) floor of Ekstrom Library on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 8 knew something was up. This area — normally known for its silence — was packed full of people who gathered to celebrate the dedication of the Romano L. Mazzoli Reading Room in the University Archives and Records Center. A native Louisvillian and alumnus of the Brandeis School of Law, Romano (Ron) Mazzoli represented Kentucky’s Third Congressional District for 24 years, from 1971 until 1995. We also opened his papers to researchers and launched an online oral history collection focusing on the Congressman, his life and career.
The reading room includes exhibits focusing on Congressman Mazzoli, which can be enjoyed anytime between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm Monday-Friday. A companion exhibit showcases Louisville’s Italian American community. The Italian American Association (IAA) has been a generous supporter of the Archives’ work on the Congressman’s papers, and we are working with the IAA to collect materials that document the lives of Italian Americans in Louisville. If you are interested in making a donation, please give us a call at 852-6674!
The Congressman’s papers themselves fill 633 boxes (that’s nearly 700 feet of shelf space). They document his campaigns as well as his time in office, including his work on the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act. They also tell the story of a Congressman who placed a very high value on being accessible and helpful to his constituents. A detailed description of the papers is available online (http://uofl.me/lib-mazzoli), and the papers themselves can be accessed in the Archives on the fourth floor of Ekstrom Library.
In addition, we conducted 66 hours of oral history interviews with the Congressman, his colleagues, staffers, campaign volunteers and family. These interviews complement the papers, giving life to the official record and telling stories that simply aren’t captured on paper. These are being made available online via the University Libraries’ Digital Collections (http://uofl.me/lib-mazzoli2).
So come take a look at these new resources – whether in person or virtually!
Directed by Steve McQueen
by Ashley McKenzie
Michael Fassbender gives an amazing and heartbreaking performance as Bobby Sands, an imprisoned IRA member who initiates a hunger strike in the prison where he and his fellow members are being held. A bit draggy in the set up of the story, it eventually evolves into a fast paced journey of a man who does not believe in giving up without a fight. And fight he does, going three solid months without food, just for the right to be called a member of the Irish Republican Army—which the prison has been refusing to recognize. The cinematography is raw and uncensored, forcing you to observe the conditions these men went through during their inhabitation of the prison without leaving a gap large enough for your own interpretation. Even though it is up in your face, whether you’d like it there or not, Hunger has honesty. This is something oft forgotten once the movie is in actual production. You watch a man suffer, and he suffers for a cause in which he truly believes.
Steve McQueen hits all the marks to draw you into the plot and more than likely send you out crying because of his grasp on humanity. Hunger is dark and poetic. It’s miserable, yet brilliant and by the end you’ll find yourself pleading with the main character in hopes that he will finally eat something that is placed in front of him. As the outsider looking in, you question his morals and methods during his protest that lasts a grueling 66 days, and you wonder if you can say that it’s worth it or not. McQueen questions us as viewers, and that’s what makes for an intriguing plot of a movie that has the potential to be dry and leave us all wondering what we just spent the last hour and a half of our lives watching.
Whether it be horrifically burned into your brain or put onto your ‘watch again’ list, Hunger is a hard movie to forget.
Formal Title: Diversity Residence Librarian
Specialty: EndNote, History, Women’s and Gender Studies
Years with the Ekstrom Library: 3
What’s the coolest thing about working in the library: Using the SmartBoard in the Instructional Labs.
Interesting reference question: Any one that starts with, “I don’t know if you can help me…”
Favorite book: Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver
Favorite Web 2.0 Tool: FlipSnack Flipping Book Software
What’s needed in the 21st Century Classroom: Democratic Learning
Dream profession (other than librarian): Cartoon Character Voice Actor
Interesting fact: I wear gloves through the year because it’s freezing cold in the library.