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Special Collections recently acquired two first editions of Dylan Thomas’ poems that were formerly owned by the scholar and professor William York Tindall. (Specifically, Thomas’ New Poems, 1942, as printed by New Directions; and his Selected Writings, 1946, also printed by New Directions). Tindall annotated these copies extensively, leaving behind a running commentary on virtually every single poem printed in them. Although best known for his scholarship on James Joyce, he also published a volume on Dylan Thomas, A Reader’s Guide to Dylan Thomas. The marginalia in Tindall’s copies of Thomas allows one to examine his critical and scholarly interpretations in process.


Thomas, Dylan. Selected Writings. New York: New Directions, 1946.

Special Collections houses a great number of books with manuscript annotations, ranging from the fifteenth century to the present. Annotated books – regardless of whether or not their annotators can be identified – can provide a great deal of information about reading patterns and the ways in which texts were interpreted and received. In some cases, annotations also indicate how much (if it all) people actually read their books. (In this case, Tindall did in fact read his books in their entirety. There are plenty of other books in the collection that begin with very extensive marginal commentary, only to have those notations vanish midway or earlier, after the reader apparently lost interest in what he or she was reading).


Thomas, Dylan. New Poems. Norfolk, Conn: New Directions, 1942.


Many of the annotated books in our collection are identified as such under the “notes” field in our library catalog. Useful search terms to use when looking for these items include “marginalia”, “annotations,” and “annotated.”

The papers that Dale E. Wolf and his wife, Clarice Wolf, donated to the University of Delaware Library document Dale’s service during World War II, his agricultural research and long career at the DuPont Company, his public service, his involvement in politics, and Clarice’s community service activities.

Wolfs at Dover Days, 1988

Dale E. and Clarice Wolf during Dover Days, May 1988

To provide greater context to Dale’s political activity on behalf of the state of Delaware, the Wolfs also gave the Library access to eight scrapbooks spanning 1987 to 1993.

Scrapbook Cover

Cover of Volume 1, 1987 May-1988 March

Dale E. Wolf began his service in 1987 when he was appointed by Governor Michael N.  Castle to the post of Director of the Delaware Development Office.  Wolf’s background as the former Vice President for Agricultural Products at the Du Pont Company informed his outlook which included “a long term interest in agriculture and the technology that could improve productivity on the farm.”

Article from News-Journal

“Q & A: Matchmaker for Delaware and Industry,” News-Journal, August 24, 1987

Governor Castle selected Wolf as his running mate for the 1988 election.  Both won their elections and Wolf served as Lieutenant Governor of Delaware until 1992.  In addition to his regular duties he chaired the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Coordinating Council and the Adult Literacy Council.  He was also appointed to the  U. S. Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee in 1989 by President George Bush.

Political Cartoon from News-Journal

Political cartoon addressing Wolf’s work on drug problems in Delaware, News-Journal, October 7, 1989

Dale E. Wolf also served briefly as Delaware Governor between the time when then-Governor Castle was sworn into the US House of Representatives and Governor-elect Thomas R. Carper began his term in January 1993.

Inaguaration of Dale E. Wolf

Dale E. Wolf sworn in as Governor of Delaware, January 2, 1993

Wolf chose not to run for a full tern as Governor or any other political office.  However, both he and Clarice Wolf remained highly involved in community outreach and service, often building on his work in areas such as adult literacy initiatives.

The scrapbooks were returned to the Wolf family, but they can be viewed through either the University of Delaware Library’s  digital collections or the online guide to the Dale E. and Clarice Wolf papers.

William Burroughs’s approach to the visual arts is nearly inextricable from his cut-up. The cut-up technique emerges from the serendipitous visual association of sections or lines of text, and Burroughs had long been creating visual collages using his own manuscripts. While in Tangier in the 1950s, he had begun making photo-collages, which only existed as photographs themselves. He wrote to Brion Gysin of this process: “Make collage of photographs, drawings, newspapers, etc. Now take picture of the collage. Now make collage of the pictures. Take-cut-take-cut, you got it?” Burroughs kept scrapbooks of collages, which combined handwritten notes, accounts of dreams, newspaper clippings, and photographs. One of these, Scrapbook 3, was published in 1979 in a limited edition of 30 copies by Claude Givaudan. Burroughs’s first public piece of art was the-now iconic dust jacket of the 1959 Olympia Press edition of The Naked Lunch. Calligraphic strokes repeat, blurring into one another, demonstrating the obvious influence of Gysin.


The Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. First edition. Paris: Olympia Press, 1959.

In the 1980s, Burroughs began experimenting with shotgun art by shooting pieces of wood and cans of paint and adding additional collage elements, silhouettes, or stencils. His first gallery show was at the Tony Shafrazi Art Gallery, New York, in 1987. The show sold out, despite criticism that Burroughs’s art was the gimmick of a writer who also painted. In response, Burroughs issued a formal statement about his art that emphasized the significance of random events and recalled his meditation on Gysin’s artwork, for which he strove to find a “port of entry.”


“Disintegrating Spacecraft,” August 8, 1993
Inscribed to Paul Bowles from Burroughs. MSS 163s Paul Bowles papers supplement.

Between 1918 and 1922, Agnes P. Medill kept a scrapbook chronicling  her work to organize Boys’ and Girls’ Liberty Clubs on behalf of the Delaware College Extension Service.  The volume was donated to the University of Delaware Library by her children in 1975.  Now,  Special Collections and the Center for Digital Collections at the University of Delaware Library have made it possible to view the entire scrapbook online. This is a timely addition to the Library’s Digital Collections, as it honors the 100th anniversaries of both the start of World War I and the founding of the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Program.

Inscription: "Agnes P. Medill - Ass't State Club Leader"

Inscription in Scrapbook:  “Agnes P. Medill – Ass’t State Club Leader”

The Newark, Delaware, native was born on September 8, 1887, the youngest of six siblings.  In the early years of the 20th century, Agnes worked as a teacher at the Newark Elementary School.  During World War I, she embarked on a more adventurous project, organizing patriotic clubs in Delaware’s  public schools. As Assistant State Club Leader, Agnes drove throughout the state in her automobile, a Model-T Ford, which she affectionately referred to as “Lizzie.”

Agnes & "Lizzie"

Agnes & “Lizzie”

Employed by the Delaware College Extension Service and working with agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agnes taught students about home economics, emphasizing the growth and preservation of food. Called “Liberty Clubs” because these activities were considered patriotic acts that supported the war effort, the groups took part in gardening, canning, baking, sewing, and raising animals.  She facilitated contests where Delaware College awarded prizes to club members for exemplary work.

Champion Pig Club Member

“Champion Pig Club Member”

Agnes filled her scrapbook with photographs, cheekily captioning photos of herself “Yours Truly.”  She provided a visual record of her club members and their activities, as well as regional or national Liberty Club gatherings and camp-outs.  At these events, the children often sang songs with lyrics about club activities  and patriotism, set to familiar tunes.

Club Song

“Club Song”

Agnes also gathered numerous clippings of club news and blank forms the clubs used. She included a card with the club pledge:  “I consecrate my Head, my Heart, my Hands and my Health, through Food Preservation and Food Conservation, to help win the world war and world peace.”

"No. 25 School Garden Club"

“No. 25 School Garden Club”

In 1923, Agnes married Joseph M. McVey. They lived on S. College Street in Newark and raised three children. She belonged to the First Presbyterian Church, the Newark New Century Club, and the Newark Senior Citizens Center. McVey Elementary School is named after her husband, a former president of the Board of Education of the Christina School District.

Agnes Medill

“Yours Truly”


Edinburgh. The year is 1890. Having finished your duties as a clerk for the day, furiously copying legal documents until your hand, wrist, and arm are throbbing, you head home, not to rest, but for something else, something up your sleeve, something of value. You’ve been working. Grabbing a handful of documents that lay waiting just inside your door, you head back to town, hoping to catch a certain bookseller at a certain bookstore before he closes his doors for the evening. With a thump, and just in the nick of time, you lay the hefty manuscript on his counter. The bookseller smiles, maybe knowingly or maybe just kindly. A few exchanged words and minutes later, you too are smiling, relieved of your burden and exiting the bookstore with a pocket full of banknotes.

This may have been a slice of the life of one Alexander Howland Smith, at least for a few years, until the unassuming clerk was put on trial for “obtaining money by deceit.”  “Antique Smith,” as he was known, was a Scottish law clerk who produced literary forgeries circa 1888 to 1892. Around this time, Smith frequented the bookshops of Edinburgh, collecting books for their contemporary fly leaves on which he would produce his forgeries. Many of Smith’s dealings involved Edinburgh bookseller James Stillie, who may have been complicit in passing the forgeries. Though Smith reproduced an array of literary works, he forged the letters and manuscripts of Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns most frequently. Smith was eventually discovered, arrested, and sentenced to one year in prison in 1892.


Forgery of “The Jolly Beggars” by Alexander Howland Smith. Circa 1888-1892. From MSS 099 945 Alexander Howland Smith papers regarding his forgery of Robert Burns’s The Jolly Beggars


University of Delaware Library Special Collections adds Antique Smith’s sixteen-page forgery of Robert Burns’s cantata “The Jolly Beggars,” to its broad holdings of forgeries and forgery-related material.  The manuscript is paired with documentation attempting to verify its authenticity which includes a dealer’s description by James Stillie, and a certificate from John Maitlan[d] stating he received the manuscript from Robert Burns.  The Alexander Howland Smith papers finding aid provides a detailed description of the collection.



Bookseller James Stillie’s presentation letter. “It is not warranted, But it has Mr. Maitlan[d] certificate as got from Burns.” Stillie may have been complicit in passing Smith’s forgeries. Undated.



The Burroughs exhibition may be over, but there’s still plenty of time in 2014 to celebrate the gentleman junkie.

The Paul Bowles collection at the University of Delaware Library includes original letters from and relating to Burroughs, copies of Burroughs’s books, often inscribed to Bowles, and a host of other materials documenting the relationship of the two American writers.

The American expatriate author and composer Paul Bowles first met William S. Burroughs in Tangier in the spring of 1954. “He was living down in the medina, in a brothel,” says Bowles. “He lay in bed all day, shot heroin, and practiced sharp shooting with a pistol against the wall of his room. I saw the wall, all pockmarked with bullet holes. I said to him, ‘Why are you shooting your wall, Bill?’ He said, ‘It’s good practice.’ I didn’t get to know him until ’55, ’56. He was writing Naked Lunch.”  (Vanity Fair interview, 1985).  Burroughs saw Bowles regularly during these years. Bowles remained in Tangier, while Burroughs lived and traveled variously in Paris, London, New York, and eventually Lawrence, Kansas.  They admired each other’s writing, shared many mutual friends, and maintained a regular correspondence until Burroughs’s death in August 1997.

One of the pieces of correspondence from the Paul Bowles paper supplement is the postcard Burroughs sent Bowles in February 1997.  The postcard reproduces a (now famous) 1961 photograph taken in the garden of Burroughs’s Tangier apartment. Burroughs had stayed at the Villa Muniria in Tangier between 1956 and 1958 during the productive period during which he feverishly wrote much of what became Naked Lunch, as well as parts of The Soft Machine and The Ticket That Exploded. In The Adding Machine, Burroughs refers to the summer of 1961 as the “psychedelic summer.”


Left to right: Peter Orlovsky (seated), Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Alan Ansen, Bowles (seated), Gregory Corso, Ian Sommerville. (MSS 163s Paul Bowles papers supplement)

“Nostalgic photo when all concerned were in better health,” Burroughs wrote. “L to right. Peter Orlovsky: nuts, me with a leaky heart valve, Allen Ginsberg, kidney stones, Alan Ansen, arthritic, Gregory [Corso], quite reclusive. Ian Sommerville dead in car crash.” Burroughs also wishes Bowles good health following a second surgery on his leg and confirms he does have central heat and air conditioning in his home in Lawrence, Kansas.





June 16 marks Bloomsday, so named for Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. The novel traces Bloom’s activities back and forth across Dublin over the course of one day, June 16, 1904. For many years Joyceans have commemorated the anniversary of Bloom’s fictional adventures. The first such event occurred in Dublin in 1954, when a small group gathered to retrace the route described in Ulysses. (The novel’s geography is precise enough that it actually is possible to do this. In this case, though, the group ran out of steam  midway, after the Bailey pub proved too distracting). Today Bloomsday celebrations occur worldwide, and often include dramatic readings from the novel.


James Joyce. Ulysses. Paris: Shakespeare and Company, 1922.

The University of Delaware Library holds first editions of nearly all of Joyce’s works, including Ulysses, which was first published in 1922 in France by Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare & Company. The first edition was printed in a limited run of 1000 copies, and was produced with considerable input from Joyce. (Joyce even spent a great amount of time deliberating over which shade of blue would be the right one to use for the cover. He wanted it to be reminiscent of the color of the sea). Previously, Ulysses had been serialized in the American literary magazine, The Little Review, between March 1918 and December 1920, but the serialization ceased abruptly after the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice sued The Little Review on grounds of obscenity and received a court order banning the work’s publication in America, an order which stood until Random House successfully challenged it in 1933. (The University of Delaware of Library also owns copies of The Little Review).


Photograph of James Joyce, by Berenice Abbott, [1928].

In addition to the first edition and The Little Review issues, The University of Delaware Library also owns several other significant editions of Ulysses, including: the second edition (1922), Paul Bowles’ copy of the sixth edition (1925), the ninth edition (1927), Brian Coffey’s annotated copy of the eleventh edition (1930), the first authorized American edition (1934), and a 1935 limited edition illustrated with Matisse paintings that have absolutely nothing to do with Ulysses. (Although contracted for the edition, Matisse never bothered to read Ulysses; instead he provided illustrations derived from Homer’s Odyssey. Joyce was not pleased.) Textually, each early edition of Ulysses is significant, as each printing corrected earlier typographical errors but also introduced additional mistakes, which later editions in turn tried to fix, all of which scholars have since spent decades trying to reconcile. Lastly, in addition to these important English language versions, the Library also owns several early translations of Ulysses, including the German (1927), French (1929), Czech (1930), and Japanese (1931-1934) editions.

Over the course of the Spring 2014 semester, students in Renee Wolcott’s ARTC464 learned about scribes, printers, binders, papermakers—and also became them—to get firsthand experience with the conservation issues that arise from early printed and manuscript books.  Students’ assignments included illuminating their own manuscript inspired by holdings in Special Collections and writing a conservation report for a book in Special Collections.

Special Collections holds several illuminated manuscripts and manuscript leaves. During one Special Collections session, I showed the students items from MSS 474 Frank W. Tober manuscript and early printed leaf collection and several items  from the MSS 95 collection, including the 16th-century Book of Hours (Use of Noyon):


We examined the effects of iron gall ink on parchment and paper; the qualities of parchment (Renee showed us where the “armpit” of the animal had been); illumination; lettering styles; lining the parchment; and the contexts in which manuscripts were created and used.

For their assignment, Maddie, Gabriel, Becca, Ester, and Jackie each chose a manuscript that inspired them—whether it was the lettering, the illumination, or the general content—from which to create their own illuminated manuscript. On real parchment. Using their own ink and pigments and gold they mixed. They worked like real scribes, having to plan out their spacing and designs beforehand. Mistakes get scraped away with a knife or scalpel and quickly before the ink dries too much.

Later in the semester, the students showed the fruits of their scribal labors:







The intricately carved Persian signet ring, post c. 651 CE
Intricately carved Persian signet ring, post circa 651 CE

Greetings, all! Stella Sudekum here, student library assistant in the Special Collections department at UD’s Morris Library. I am also an Art History student at UD (’14), and had the pleasure of completing a self-tailored project within the department this past spring semester.

The J. Ben Lieberman collection of seals, stamps, and marks came to Special Collections during the summer of 2013. After the staff accessioned the collection, I began formulating a project plan to shed some light on its content. It would include three phases: Rehousing, Research, and Exhibition. My Art History specialty in ancient Mesopotamian cylinder seals gave me an inkling that some of the artifacts in this collection were of a considerable age.  However, as research began, it became clear that a few were modern reproductions of historic designs. Nevertheless, it was exciting to discover supporting evidence that certain objects are not only authentic, but are also thousands of years old! As my initial research has concluded, the collection houses some of the oldest pieces within Special Collections.

Displaying the ancient cuneiform alphabet of Akkadian, c. 2500-100BCE
Ancient cuneiform alphabet of  the Akkadian language, circa 2500-100 BCE

All of the objects deal with the matter of human beings trying, and adjusting, and trying again to make their mark. As time went on,  humankind developed increasing need to  mark objects and create documents. At the same time, alphabets, personal seals, decorative scriptural stamps, and ultimately, purely decorative printmaking stamps appear.  A prehistoric stamp seal begins to step away from simple geometric patterns, in favor of more original linear inscriptions and designs. An example from the collection is a personal talisman on a metal chain. The owner’s name is inscribed on the stone face of the item.  This and other objects represent linguistic advancements,  milestones of early mark-making.

A Persian name written in Arabic calligraphy, dangling from a hand-twisted ornamental chain
A Persian name written in Arabic calligraphy, dangling from a hand-twisted ornamental chain

The collection consists of sixteen small pieces spanning multiple millennia. The first task to complete was rehousing.  Creating new, ideal housing units consisted of splitting the collection into two clamshell storage boxes. Polyethylene foam was then cut to fill the interior of each box. It was then cut a second time near the top edge to create a lid. The objects were measured and moveable size templates were created to plan the most efficient housing structure within each box. Once spaced, holes were cut to each object’s size specifications in order to fully encapsulate the object within the foam block.  The lid piece was able to rest flat against the bottom foam block. To protect the objects from the rough texture of the foam, Tyvek was placed within the holes, along with an unbleached cotton strip that would run under the objects to make them easier to lift.

Final housing situation within Box 1, including unbleached cotton straps to facilitate ease and safety when removing the objects
Final housing situation within Box 1, including unbleached cotton straps to facilitate ease and safety when removing the objects

Once rehousing the collection was complete, I was able to pursue research with many faculty members at the University of Delaware. I also reached out to local institutions like Winterthur ; meeting and collaborating with these  knowledgeable specialists provided some of the most valuable information that I compiled for the diverse objects’ formal descriptions.

For example, my consultation with UD’s Mineralogical Museum curator, Sharon Fitzgerald; UD’s Associate Professor of African Art and Architecture, Ikem Okoye; and Winterthur’s head objects conservator, Bruno Poulliot, all led me to conclude that an item that appeared to be an ancient Egyptian “sphinx scarab seal” is not, in fact, authentic. This was determined when I realized the piece was composed of ceramic material rather than stone.  Also, the seal displays unique stylistic features not usually associated with this type of item. My decision was also based on research I did into hieroglyphics, as I tried to identify the half-ambiguous cartouche set on the figure’s base.

Although in-authentic, such forgeries can still teach a researcher valuable lessons about cultural styles and iconography
“Stone scarab seal.” Although inauthentic, such forgeries can still teach a researcher valuable lessons about cultural styles and iconography.

The last leg of this project will be for the staff of the Manuscripts and Archives Department to create an online finding aid shared on the Special Collections webpage.  They will work with the staff of the Library’s Center for Digital Collections to share it as an open access collection on ARTstor’s Shared Shelf Commons. This will more fully open the J. Ben Lieberman collection of seals, stamps, and marks to student researchers and scholars outside of the Delaware area community. This may also yield further or more astute information about some of the objects that were less studied this past semester.

Hoping library patrons and world scholars alike will enjoy and learn from this beautiful, historic collection!

All the best — Stella Sudekum

Stella working on the new housing structures at her desk in Special Collections
Stella working on the new housing structures at her desk in Special Collections
(Note: Senior Assistant Librarian Jaime Margalotti  of  the Manuscripts and Archives Department also assisted Stella in her work for this project.)

Special Collections recently acquired a copy of Edward Topsell’s (1572-1625?) Historie of Fovre-Footed Beastes (1607), which is bound together with Topsell’s companion work, The Historie of Serpents (1608). These were the first major books on animals printed in England in the vernacular. These books were primarily English translations of selected portions of Conrad Gesner’s (1516-1565) Historicae Animalium (1551-1587), a five-volume Latin encyclopedia of the animal kingdom, and one of the first modern zoological works. Topsell’s versions also reproduce the same woodcut illustrations that were presented in Gesner’s version. The woodcuts are particularly striking, and are among one of the highlights of these books.


The rhinoceros, as found in Topsell’s Historie of Fovre-Footed Beastes. (London: William Iaggard, 1607).

The text is very extensive, and includes a great deal of information about the creatures surveyed, including details about their natural habitat, instincts, illnesses, relations with other animals and with humans, utility for use by humans, and their effects on human culture. The information is not always accurate (and sometimes it is downright preposterous, consisting of superstitions and folklore), but, while hardly great science by current standards, it provides a fascinating documentary portrait of what was known, assumed, and misunderstood about the animal kingdom.


The manticore: a ferocious hybrid of man, lion, and scorpion, and one of many monsters found in Topsell’s Historie of Fovre-Footed Beastes. It was said to live in India, and widely feared for its supposed tendency to kill and eat humans.

In writing his zoology, Gesner (and Topsell) tried to draw some distinction between observed facts and myths, but, as happened in many Early Modern natural histories, not all of the creatures described actually exist. Alongside a vast selection of real animals (of primarily European, African, and Indian origin), one finds some very detailed biological descriptions of such remarkable animals as the unicorn, dragon, manticore, sea serpent, and hydra, to name just a few. Some of these monsters had been described in ancient and medieval sources; others came from contemporary accounts by people who claimed to have seen them. Together, this blend of the real and the imaginary provides a fascinating example of the state of zoology in seventeenth century England.


Topsell’s crude rendition of a boa constrictor, here shown eating a baby. From the title-page of The Historie of Serpents. (London: William Jaggard, 1608).

It’s also interesting to note that these books were printed by William Iaggard (1568-1623), who would later go on to print the first collected edition of William Shakespeare’s plays (the 1623 “First Folio”).

This volume will feature prominently in the upcoming Special Collections exhibition, “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral.”

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