UofL Sociology professor Dr. Jon Rieger, who died in 2020 at age 83, distinguished himself in many areas beyond a remarkable 60-year academic career, including as a pioneer in visual sociology, as a US Navy captain, as a board member and patron of Louisville community and arts organizations, and as the author of a seminal bodybuilding manual.
Beyond these achievements and closer to the hearts of the local artistic community was Rieger’s strong impact on their creative work and lives. He functioned as a mentor, sounding board, supporter, caring critic, and advocate for many local musicians, photographers, painters and dancers. His obituary captures the love and respect they had for a man passionately devoted to fine art in its multi-varied forms.
One of Rieger’s strong, lifelong passions was contemporary classical music, which led him to amass a vast collection of recordings in various formats. Some are extremely rare, perhaps singular, from such locations as Russia, China, Eastern Europe, and the Americas, many gathered abroad during his years of active duty in the Navy.
Due to Rieger’s generosity and the University Libraries great fortune, these recordings are now publicly available at UofL’s Music Library. The new Jon Rieger Collection contains around 7,000 recordings (circa 4,000 LPs, 2,500 CDs and some 200 cassettes). Due to the size of the collection, the library’s process of cataloging is ongoing, but all recordings are available for borrowing or enjoying on site.
“Many of the recordings were collected while he traveled the world in the Navy and sought out recordings from other countries,” said Music Library Director James Procell. “So what you see in this collection are some extremely rare recordings, many of which were never commercially available in the US. He ordered pressings of particular broadcasts he encountered on the BBC, Radio Netherlands or on other international stations, so it’s possible these are the only recordings.”
A true audiophile, Rieger created a sophisticated sound environment in his home with two massive speakers for high-quality listening, said Procell. “He enjoyed sharing this experience with others and would often invite friends over for listening sessions and parties.”
In 2015 after Procell became Music Library director, Rieger reached out to him to arrange the library’s acquisition of his collection “when he was done with it” (i.e. upon his death). He wanted it to go to UofL, but remain separate from the Library’s main holdings.
“Typically, we can’t do that for most individual donors, but since Rieger’s collection is so unique and distinguished and expansive, we agreed to create a separate area for it. Not many people collect these types of sound recordings anymore, or have these big physical collections, so this is particularly special.”
Procell also plans to create a separate listening area with comfortable seating and headphones, so that students, faculty, researchers and the public can come and enjoy the music and browse the stacks at their leisure. The Music Library will organize the collection by record label, following Rieger’s own printed catalog of works and method of organization, which he updated until 2018.
“Anyone can check out the albums even though not all of them are cataloged as yet,” said Procell. “All are browse-able and on the shelves.”
Procell has been aided in his curation of Rieger’s collection by Louisville cellist, songwriter, and storyteller Ben Sollee. In Rieger’s obituary, Sollee says that Rieger “built a family around his love of the arts . . . that he affectionately coined the ‘Tin Ear Society.’ This expansive family of dancers, musicians, composers, photographers, writers, visual artists and creatives were all connected by his mentorship, patronage, and radically honest critiques of our work. He helped us make better and more meaningful art. And, importantly, he never missed an opportunity to get us all together to enjoy Louisville’s bounty of performances. He taught us all, as both a sociologist and Big Brother, that great art is the product of and the fuel that grows thriving communities.”
“Jon was a huge supporter of the arts,” said Procell. “He financially supported causes he thought were important, including various arts organizations, and individual artists, photographers, dancers and musicians.”
“He was a very good friend of the Music Library and the School of Music and is missed by everyone here that knew him.”
A treasure trove of roughly three million images have been donated to UofL’s Photo Archives by current and former owners of Louisville’s Courier Journal newspaper.
The Courier Journal – winner of 11 Pulitzer Prizes throughout its 154-year history – and its parent company Gannett have transferred its library of photographs and negatives to UofL Archives and Special Collections. Many of the images are iconic and capture important historical moments in the last century.
Members of Louisville’s Bingham family, which owned the newspaper from 1918 to 1986, have made a separate donation to support the collection, including preserving it, preparing it for use by the public, and developing programming to enable the public to engage with it.
Their combined generosity is creating the Barry Bingham Jr. Courier-Journal Photo Collection, a unique journalistic collection of local, state and national importance.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Courier Journal, Gannett, Emily Bingham, Molly Bingham and the rest of the Bingham family for making this historic gift possible,” UofL President Lori Gonzalez said. “Generations of readers saw these photos in their daily newspaper each morning, and now, future generations will continue to be able to study and appreciate the insight they provide into the history of our city, state, nation and world.”
“This gift will allow the Courier Journal to retain the legacy of our work through this collection of historic photographs,” said Courier Journal Editor Mary Irby-Jones. “It is important for us to preserve and share our work with others so our community can learn about the history of Louisville as captured through our photographers in the field for more than 150 years. The Courier Journal is honored to entrust this priceless archive to the care of the University of Louisville for the purpose of making the collection available to the community for research and scholarship.”
“For most of a decade, it has been our dream to honor our father by finding a permanent, public home for the Courier Journal’s photographic collection,” said Emily and Molly Bingham. “This visual treasure is a testament to his dedication to high quality journalism, his passion for photography, his love of archives and his commitment to public access to information. He is up there somewhere today, smiling and joyfully twirling his trademark handlebar mustache.”
About the Barry Bingham Jr. Courier-Journal Photo Collection
The collection, consisting of images created by the photo department that served both the Courier Journal and the afternoon Louisville Times newspapers, chronicles daily happenings and major events from approximately the mid-1930s to the early 2000s when digital photography began to replace the use of film to capture images. The collection doubles the size of UofL’s photo holdings. It might have dated back further, but the Great Flood of 1937 destroyed much of the newspaper’s photo and negative library.
“The collection chronicles the civil rights movement, World War II, the Kentucky Derby through the years, presidential visits, changes in the built environment, and numerous public appearances and behind-the-scenes images of world leaders and celebrities,” said Archives and Special Collections Director Carrie Daniels. “Basically, all of the changes happening within our country were captured in these photographs.”
“It’s an incredible collection,” Elizabeth Reilly, photo archivist, said, “and with any large-scale acquisition like this, it will take years to process, organize and add information to the collection, to make images discoverable and usable by the public.
“A small portion of the collection will be available online in the near future, and, as we process the amazing imagery it contains, we will be opening up bigger and bigger parts of the collection to the public, making it accessible to everyone who wants to see it.”
Reilly credited Barry Bingham Jr., the third and last Bingham family member to serve as the paper’s publisher, for his devotion to setting high standards for the photography his newspaper published. The Courier Journal won two Pulitzer Prizes for photojournalism during his tenure.
“He was a huge supporter of high-quality photojournalism,” Reilly said. “He grew and improved the quality of photography in the newspaper through investments, hiring talented photojournalists, and giving them time and travel budget to capture visual information beyond the news moment or press release. That commitment to quality is reflected in the collection and adds to its national significance.”
Daniels cited the increase in scholarship and creative potential that the collection will bring to UofL. “Our Photographic Archives already contain 2-3 million historical, documentary and fine art images dating from the 19th century to today that capture faces, buildings, landscapes and events from around the world, with a focus on Louisville and Kentucky. These images have appeared in scholarly or artistic work, including filmmaker Ken Burns’s documentaries, Dustbowl, Prohibition and Baseball. This dramatically increases our ability to provide images that everyone, including scholars and artists, will be able to use going forward, and we are very excited about that.”
The Barry Bingham Jr. Courier-JournalPhoto Collection Endowment is seeking additional contributions to support the organization, digitization, library services and public programming for this remarkable resource.
To make a contribution or for more information, contact Denise Bohn, email@example.com.
In celebration of Pride Month, local news affiliate WHAS recently interviewed Rare Books Curator Delinda Buie and Archives and Special Collections donor and local activist David Williams about the Williams-Nichols Archive, one of the largest LGBTQ collections in the U.S.
Williams donated the large, eclectic archive to ASC in 2001 to honor his late partner Norman Nichols, who died in 1995. It contains many pieces of memorabilia from protests and demonstrations, parties and events, and photos, newspapers, magazines, flyers and other materials.
You can find the article here: https://www.whas11.com/article/news/community/moments-that-matter/louisville-lgbt-history-ekstrom-library-collection-archive-david-williams-kentucky/417-b72d609a-8fa2-4410-b309-0ed5853ba173
A trove of work by Louisville artist Julius Friedman (1943-2017), including a diverse mix of graphic design, books, commercial art, and photography, was recently donated to University of Louisville’s Archives and Special Collections (ASC), by Friedman’s sister, Louisville philanthropist Carol Abrams.
And now Friedman’s work will soon be preserved, organized, cataloged and available for public viewing thanks to additional funding from Abrams which allows ASC to hire a project archivist.
“It’s a rich and unique group of materials and there are so many different types,” said Haley-Marie Ellegood, who will serve a one-year term as archivist for the Julius Friedman Collection. “He worked with widely different formats – there is graphic design, posters, photography, and at the end of his career he got into bookmaking. He was moving into video production when he died.”
A recent Indiana University graduate with a Master of Library Science, Ellegood specialized in archives and records management and worked in the IU Archives. In addition to researching, cataloging, and preserving the collection, Ellegood will help select items for an exhibit of Friedman’s works to be held in mid-July in ASC’s gallery.
“He really loved working for nonprofit groups and he mostly worked for free,” said Ellegood. “He wasn’t really into making money, but he created annual reports for corporations and was able to charge a fair fee for it. That type of payment apparently funded his work for nonprofits.”
Friedman was well known for his commercial photography, graphic design, and iconic posters, including “Fresh Paint”; “Ballerina Toe on Egg” for the Louisville Ballet; and “Ice Cream in French Horn” for the Louisville Orchestra.
In addition to many of Friedman’s iconic posters, the collection includes much of his photography, and graphic design for menus, postcards, stationery, event programs, and flyers. Other materials include some of his written work, including a few notebooks and some correspondence. ASC has had a relationship with Friedman going back decades. Although the Filson Historical Society has a small collection of Friedman’s art, ASC holds the largest part of the collection.
Ellegood says her love of archival work grew out of her love of history, her subject major as an undergraduate. “I love learning about important people in historic places and from historic times. And I enjoy making information accessible to people, so they can appreciate it.”
Processing Friedman’s collection is an exciting first professional project after graduate school for Ellegood. “His art really makes you think about what’s going on, it’s not what you would expect. You wouldn’t expect a ballerina to balance on an egg. It challenges your preconceived notions.”
By Trish Blair, Art Library Collections Coordinator
In the fall of 2018, I met Ron Morris for the first time, and the very first thing he said to me and my co-worker Kathy Moore, is that he was dying. And that is how our partnership began – with that brutally honest and poignant statement.
He asked if the Art Library would be interested in a donation of maybe 200 of his books about photography. Since we were between directors, we consulted with Libraries Dean Fox, Tyler Goldberg (Head of Technical Services), Matt Wyatt (Development Director), and James Procell (Interim head, Art Library), and decided to accept, as photography is one of our most popular collections. After meeting with Mr. Morris, that quickly turned into a donation of over 1,100 titles. We don’t have an official value, but a rough estimate is about $175,000. We think it was the largest single donation to the Bridwell Art Library.
I began working with Mr. Morris, taking his hand-written lists of books and arranging for pick-ups. In the summer of 2019, I took our student intern at the time, Maree Grosser, with me for the heavy lifting. Once a week we would drive to Mr. Morris’ house and fill either my car or the library van with the treasures he was gifting to us. He would always have jazz or classical music playing and was happy to find out that Maree was an aspiring photographer. His keen intellect and interest in both our lives was comforting. He and I shared a love of taking pictures of things that were not “pretty” to museum standards.
To say that he was eclectic is an understatement. He was unconventional, funny, and warm. He collected antique typewriters, cameras, and books of all sorts. He had a very large collection of Chuck Taylor shoes that perfectly suited his style and being. His apartment was like a museum, mixed with a bookstore, mixed with a comfy home.
Ron Morris was a Louisville native and alumni of UofL’s Hite Art Institute (1969). He was also the Arts editor at the Louisville Cardinal during his undergrad period. He went from UofL to the Massachusetts College of Art for his MFA (1982) and settled in Boston for 40 years teaching photography at Newtown High School and honing his craft. He retired from teaching in 2014 and moved back to Louisville. His photographs have been exhibited at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Hofstra University, MIT, the Portland Art Museum, Newton Art Center, Vision Gallery, Rhode Island School of Design, the New England School of Photography, the Memphis Academy of Art, the Hudson River Museum, Northeastern University and Texas A&M University, and the Caviar Forge & Gallery in Louisville.
We had great plans to celebrate his donation in 2020, but Covid cancelled them. Unfortunately for us, Mr. Morris passed away in the spring of 2021. Through his death we have added more items to our collection from his estate: prints of his photography; self-made books; graphic design images of the objects he collected; re-imagined movie posters; and of course more books. We will celebrate his gift sometime in the near future, but until then we will keep adding the objects he gave to us and remembering the man who was so inspirational.
The Libraries have increased funding to four libraries – Kornhauser, Music, Art and Ekstrom – to diversify our collections in support of UofL’s drive to create an anti-racist university. Dean Bob Fox has used gift funding to allow the purchase of more books, DVDs and other materials on civil rights, equity, and Black history, among other subjects.
“We’re very committed to expanding our collections in areas that will support President Bendapudi’s mission to have an anti-racist campus,” said Dean Fox. “This extra funding provides an additional boost to meeting this goal.”
The allocation of gift funding is in addition to the typical yearly budget for new materials.
Additional funding provided to the Music Library has covered recent purchases of 134 music scores by Black composers. Prior to receiving this funding, the Music library used one of the music library’s endowments to purchase 97 music scores by Black composers. A catalog listing of those items can be found here.
In Ekstrom Library, new titles include The Devil You Know: a Black Power Manifesto by Charles Blow (2021); White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity by Robert Jones (2020); Diversity, Oppression, and Change: Culturally Grounded Social Work by Flavio Marsiglia (2021); The Lexington Six: Lesbian and Gay Resistance in 1970s America by Josephine Donovan (2020); and Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie Glaude (2020). Additional funding helped the library purchase new titles for the Granville A. Bunton African American Collection.
Kornhauser Health Sciences Library has purchased new books dedicated to diversity and anti-racism, specifically in healthcare. A current list of the library’s diversity related resources can be found within WMS by searching “diversity in healthcare.”
With the additional funding, the Art Library will continue to add to its collection of diverse materials related to art history, artists, graphic design and art pedagogy, among other subjects. See this list for a snapshot of the library’s latest acquisitions.
We’d love your help in this work! Please consider recommending materials that will help us better serve our community via this RECOMMENDATION FORM.