Thursday, August 29, 2013

Computing Book Featured on 1980-1981 UK Course Catalog

University of Kentucky 1980-1981 course catalog cover features a book on “computers and data processing.” Computing* isn’t quite as classic as literature or history, but it’s got at least 30 years under its belt. Happy start of the semester to all the students!
*The mathematics involved in computing certainly are, though!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sesquicentennial Stories: The Promise of UK #87

Sarah Blanding was born on November 22, 1898 and attended public schools in Lexington, Kentucky.  Her father passed away when she was only fourteen years old.  Blanding was determined to go to college but knew that she could do it only if she worked her way through.  She decided early on that physical education training would quickly make her self-supporting.

Blanding went to the New Haven Normal School of Gymnastics and graduated in 1919.  She came back to Kentucky and studied for her A.B. at the University of Kentucky in the mornings and taught physical education in the afternoons.

Dean's at the University of Kentucky, 1927
 At this time, Frances Jewell (later McVey) was dean of women and the two came to know and respect one another.  After Frances Jewell married Frank McVey, Sarah Blanding was selected to become dean of women in her place.  Blanding herself thought that she was too young and inexperienced but she agreed to become acting dean for six months. Despite Blanding’s hesitation she enjoyed being dean and served an entire year.  Nonetheless, Blanding wanted to finish her graduate study so she left the University of Kentucky to go to Columbia where she received her A.M. in 1926.

Next, Blanding spent a year at the London School of Economics and in 1928 she returned to UK to be dean of women and associate professor of political science.  In 1941 she was appointed head of the College of Home Economics at Cornell and seven months later she was made dean of the College – the first woman to become a dean at Cornell. In 1946, Blanding accomplished another first by becoming the first woman president of Vassar College.

President Albert Kirwan of the University of Kentucky and Sarah Blanding at the dedication of Blanding and Kirwan towers, 1968
Sarah Blanding was known for being direct, objective, frank, completely unpretentious, and for having a keen sense of humor.  In 1968 Blanding Tower and its affiliated low-lying buildings of the Kirwan-Blanding Complex at UK was named in her honor.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mrs. Luckie: Killed by Lightning

This scrapbook entitled “Mortuary of Lexington, Kentucky” and compiled by General John M. McCalla (1793-1873), consists of funeral notices and obituaries printed in local Lexington newspapers from 1803-1869.
2013ms0755: John M. McCalla "Mortuary of Lexington, Kentucky" scrapbook
Scrapbooks are an often unloved historical format, but this mortuary depicts a snapshot of Lexington social life and the treatment of death in the nineteenth century. Additionally, it documents various newsworthy events through its marginalia.  
Numerous funeral notices have notes written in ink or pencil. For example, this one from 1817 is a notice for the funeral of Mrs. Jane Luckie. The marginalia reads “Killed by lightning at the Presbyterian Church”.
These funeral notices from 1829 document a famous Lexington duel between Charles Wickliffe and George J. Trotter. The duel has its roots in the acquittal of Charles Wickliffe for the murder of Thomas R. Benning, editor of the Kentucky Gazette. Wickliffe shot Benning during a disagreement over editorials, which criticized his father, politician Robert Wickliffe. Henry Clay acted as Wickliffe’s lawyer during his trial. Later that same year, Wickliffe challenged the new editor of the newspaper, George J. Trotter, to a duel over articles questioning the fairness of the trial. During the duel Trotter killed Wickliffe on the second shot.
The mortuary contains the funeral notice for Thomas R. Benning with the marginalia “Killed by Charles Wickliffe” and the notice for Charles Wickliffe annotated with “Killed in a duel with G.J. Trotter.”
Lastly, this 1844 funeral notice for Caroline Turner notes that she was “murdered by her slave”. Caroline Sargent Turner, wife of the Honorable Fielding L. Turner, was notorious for beating her slaves. She was found strangled in her home in 1844. After fleeing, one of her slaves, Richard Moore, was apprehended in Scott County, tried, and hanged for her murder.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sesquicentennial Stories: The Promise of UK #88

The King Library Press was officially founded in 1956 by Carolyn Reading Hammer (whom later became UK Libraries’ curator of rare books).  Carolyn Hammer was influenced by the Gravesend Press of Joseph C. Graves and also Victor Hammer, to whom she was married.  Victor Hammer, a Viennese artist and typographer, designed a number of uncial form types, the best known of which remains the popular American Uncial.  

Victor Hammer began printing in Florence in the 1920s, where he had an antique-style wooden press constructed.  Victor Hammer built the press with the help of local Florentine craftsmen in 1927. Based on a press in the Laurentian Library, it was first used to print John Milton’s Samson Agonistes. The book was set in Mr. Hammer’s second uncial and christened Samson. Punches for the type were cut by Paul Koch, Rudolf Koch’s son. Samson Agonistes was issued in an edition of 103 copies. In 1933 Hammer closed his studio in Florence and the press was stored. In 1954 it was moved to the University of Kentucky where it was first used by the King Library Press in 1959. 

Members of the Bur Press in the mid 1940s — artist Harriett McDonald Holladay, printers Amelia Buckley and Carolyn Reading Hammer, and hand bookbinder Mary Spears Van Meter.

However, Amelia Buckley and Carolyn Hammer had been printing at their Bur Press since 1943. When they decided to close operations at the Bur Press their Chandler & Price printing press which had been located at Hammer’s studio in Bullock Place, was moved to the basement of the King Library - which then held the Acquisitions Department - together with type, equipment, and paper.

Victor Hammer and a group of friends formed the Anvil Press in 1952.  Victor designed the books for the press and Jacob Hammer was the pressman. Eventually this press was also donated to the University.

Library Staff Christmas Dinner; From left to right: Carolyn Reading Hammer, Catherine L. Katterjoler, Jacqueline P. Bull, Mary Jane Stallcup, Maona Shinkle Eaves, and Daisy Taylor Croft, 1940

Carolyn Hammer, Nancy Chambers Lair, Stokley Gribble, and Mary Voorhes had been printing some book-plates and small pieces on the press in the basement of the King Library but wanted to do something more substantial.  They started working at the press on their lunch breaks at noon.  The first book they printed was The Marriage of Cock Robin and Jenny Wren in 1956.  They first named the press, High Noon Press but then attributed it as the King Library Press.  At the time, they printed for the sheer pleasure of printing.

Hand-set type is set piece by piece, letter by letter, and by hand. Every piece of type for each letter is separate and it is used over and over again. After each use it is returned to a specially-designed case, which has larger compartments near the front so that the most-used type is more accessible. The paper that is used for printing is hand-made and some of the finest available.

Joe Graves’ Gravesend Press, is also a part of the King Library Press.  There are also more modern presses including a Vandercook SP15, a gift of the Harrodsburg Herald, a Vandercook Universal I, and several by Chandler & Price.

Picnic at Gethsemane; Carolyn R. Hammer, 1967

The influence of Carolyn Hammer, a founder and until 1976 the Press director, and the typographic tradition to be seen in the works of Victor Hammer provide inspiration for the work of the Press.  Over the years, the Press has printed many books, broadsides, and keepsakes.  It has also sponsored numerous lectures, seminars, and workshops that have drawn national attention.
Dr. Paul Holbrook, Director of the King Library Press

The King Library Press is located in Special Collections of UK Libraries and is directed by Dr. Paul E. Holbrook.  The work of the Press – hand setting type, printing on antique presses, and binding – is done by student interns and staff volunteers.  The objective of the Press is to preserve and demonstrate historical printing techniques using period equipment and methods.  

“The press gives those working with it a historical understanding of the book,” said Paul A. Willis, former director of UK Libraries. “It adds an element of distinction to the library and University which I hope we are able to maintain.”