This Just In: Recently Acquired Gifts and Purchases

August 11th, 2014

Public health and hygiene broadside for children, Aleluyas de higiene general dedicadas a  los niños de las escuelas primarias (Madrid?, ca. 1930s)

A mini-exhibit of recent acquisitions in the History & Special Collections for the Sciences section of UCLA Library Special Collections is on display at the Louise M. Biomedical Library (4th floor public reading room) through September 2014.

These materials were acquired from aGatherin’ (West Sand Lake, NY), Deborah Coltham Rare Books (Sevenoaks, UK), Marc Selvaggio, Bookseller (Berkeley, CA), and eBay.

Items include:

  • A Spanish public health and hygiene poster for children (1930s)
  • Ink blotter advertisements (1930s-1950s)
  • Pay for a Summer vacation – sell your dental gold scrap (1934)
  • Children’s science books from the 1939 New York World’s Fair
  • Pharmaceutical trade catalog (1930)

Goldsmith Bros. Smelting and Refining Co. postcard, postmarked from the 1934 Chicago  World’s Fair

This exhibit is part of an occasional series, This Just In: Recently Acquired Gifts and Purchases.

Russell Johnson
History & Special Collections for the Sciences
UCLA Library Special Collections

Well, Well, and What Have We Here: Optical Cards created by Mary Lewis in 1828

August 11th, 2014

Card 55: The magic lantern. Optical cards by Mary Lewis, Camp Hill, December, 1828  (BIOMED Ms. Coll. no. 347 RARE)

A mini-exhibit for August 2014 asks (but does not answer) the question: Who was Mary Lewis of Camp Hill (Birmingham, England?) and, in 1828, why did she make 58 carefully handwritten, illustrated flash cards which addressed problems, phenomena, and experiments in optics and vision?

Card 2: A ray of light. Optical cards by Mary Lewis, Camp Hill, December, 1828  (BIOMED Ms. Coll. no. 347 RARE)

Mary Lewis’s cards (BIOMED Ms. Coll. no. 347 RARE), each with a standard embossed border, were purchased by the History & Special Collections for the Sciences section of UCLA Library Special Collections from Samuel Gedge, a dealer in antiquarian books, manuscripts, and ephemera. They are on display at the Louise M. Biomedical Library (1st floor lobby/research commons) through Labor Day, 2014.

Card 33: The angle of vision. Optical cards by Mary Lewis, Camp Hill, December, 1828  (BIOMED Ms. Coll. no. 347 RARE)

This mini-exhibit is part of an occasional series, Well, Well, and What Have We Here, which brings to light (no pun intended) surprising, unexplained, and sometimes unexplainable items from or added to the collections.

Explanations are welcomed.

Card 38: To find what proportion the size of the picture (card 36) bears to the size of the object. Optical cards by Mary Lewis, Camp Hill, December, 1828  (BIOMED Ms. Coll. no. 347 RARE)

The cards are titled:

  1. [Title]
  2. A ray of light
  3. In the same medium, the rays of light are in straight lines
  4. Rays of light may be bended
  5. The same joining of mediums will bend some rays and not others
  6. A ray passing obliquely through a plane glass goes on afterward parallel to its first direction though not in the same line
  7. An angle
  8. The angle of incidence
  9. The angle of reflection
  10. To see an object reflected from a plane looking glass
  11. Parallel rays of light
  12. Converging rays
  13. Diverging rays
  14. The eye sees an object by rays diverging from all the visible points of its surface
  15. A pencil of rays, and a radiant point
  16. A focus
  17. A double convex lens or glass, seen edgewise
  18. A plano-convex lens seen edgewise
  19. A double concave lens seen edgewise
  20. A plano-concave lens seen edgewise
  21. A meniscus or concavo-convex lens seen edgewise
  22. The radius of convexity of concavity of lenses
  23. A triangular prism seen end-wise
  24. The focus of the sun’s parallel rays when transmitted through a double convex lens
  25. Parallel rays become parallel again by passing through two convex lenses placed parallel to each other & at double their focal distance
  26. The focus of the sun’s (or any other) parallel rays, transmitted through a plano-convex lens
  27. Rays diverging from a radiant point in the focus of a lens are parallel after passing through the lens
  28. Rays diverging from a radiant point between a convex lens and its focus will continue to diverge, though in a less degree, after passing through the lens
  29. Rays from a radiant point beyond the focal distance of a convex lens will, after passing through the lens, converge to a point or focus on the other side of the lens
  30. Parallel rays passing through a double concave lens
  31. Parallel rays passing through a plano-concave lens
  32. Parallel rays passing thro’ a solid sphere or globe of glass
  33. The angle of vision
  34. Why an object appears smaller and smaller as we recede further and further from it
  35. A convex lens magnifies the angle of vision, and why
  36. Rays from an object passing thro’ a convex lens, will make a picture of the object in a dark room
  37. To form the picture mentioned on card 36, the object must be farther from the lens than the focal distance of the lens
  38. To find what proportion the size of the picture (card 36) bears to the size of the object
  39. The camera obscura
  40. The multiplying glass
  41. An artificial eye
  42. The human eye, with its coats and humours
  43. The sclerotica & cornea of the eye
  44. The choroides and ligamentum ciliare of the eye
  45. The retina and optic nerve of the eye
  46. The pupil and aqueous humour of the eye
  47. The crystalline and vitreous humours of the eye
  48. The manner of vision
  49. Why an object appears large when it is near the eye, and small when far from the eye
  50. Three patches being stuck on a board, to lose sight of the middle one, whilst both the others are visible
  51. The use of convex spectacle
  52. The use of concave spectacles
  53. Single microscope
  54. Refracting telescope
  55. The magic lantern
  56. The phantasmagoria lantern
  57. The polyphantasma
  58. Prismatic colours.

Card 48: the manner of vision. Optical cards by Mary Lewis, Camp Hill, December, 1828  (BIOMED Ms. Coll. no. 347 RARE)

Russell Johnson
History & Special Collections for the Sciences
UCLA Library Special Collections

LA Aqueduct Digital Platform series – The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number: A Social History of the Los Angeles Aqueduct

August 7th, 2014

On July 29, 2014, a water main burst under Sunset Boulevard in Westwood, pouring forth nearly 10 million gallons of water into neighboring streets, parking garages, and athletic venues. Amid a state-wide drought, the explosion of the nearly century old main provided another reminder of the sensitive relationship between Los Angeles and its water. Yet I’m sure if you asked most Angelenos where their water comes from, chances are they have no clue. That Angeleno resident used to be me. I had no clue where our water came from, nor did I have an idea about the dilemma and scandal that Los Angeles had to fight through in order to secure water rights from the Owens Valley. Although we no longer receive our water from the Los Angeles River located east of Downtown LA, we once did obtain water from that reservoir. However, it was not until the Owens Valley battle and the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct that Los Angeles was able to sustain a booming population that extended into the millions.

This summer I have been hired as an undergraduate assistant in the Center for Primary Research and Training at Special Collections. I am part of a Digital Humanities group, headed by a graduate student in History and two fellow undergraduates in English and Sociology, which will be creating five projects that look at the “others” of the Aqueduct’s history. We want to explain the largely untold stories of those who were affected by the construction of the Aqueduct. To do this, we will be recalling the narratives of the aqueduct’s workers, the Paiute Indians of the Owens Valley, the Owens Valley resistance movement, the story of the St. Francis Dam collapse, and a contemporary overview of the aqueduct and the environmental concerns that surround it. We have conducted our research using UCLA Special Collections, particularly the John Randolph Haynes Collection, and collections at other institutions such as Loyola Marymount University and the Autry.

From the St. Francis Dam project

Thus far, we have completed one of our narratives and will shortly be finishing our second project. Our first story looks at the collapse of the St. Francis Dam in 1928. The dam was built in the San Francisquito Canyon, and its sudden collapse led to the death of at least 400 residents and the economic ruin of many of the canyon’s small towns. Using an interactive map, we have recreated a narrative of that fateful night to capture the destruction of the valley and the relief efforts that were used. We also use infographics to communicate the long-term damage done in the area and how financial claims were dealt with.

From the Owens Valley Paiute project

Our second project, which is nearing completion, is an overview of the Owens Valley Paiute Indians. The Paiute have had a long, complicated relationship with the Euro-American settlers and the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Paiutes were among the first people displaced by the aqueduct and were later robbed of their jobs as farm laborers, once the farmlands in the Owens Valley became desolate. Looking at the lives of Viola Martinez, Mitt Sepsey, Sam Newland, and Jack Stewart, we are attempting to show how Paiute Indians have lived and persisted in the Owens Valley following contact with the Valley’s other residents. Topics such as displacement, poverty, reparations, traditions and many other issues are featured. We are using Lucidpress to create a magazine-style narrative for our four Paiute biographies.

While organizing the research content for the Paiute Indian project, it became clear that we tend to hear more about how Los Angeles displaced the Owens Valley townspeople, rather than how the early white settlers displaced the Paiute Indians. The Owens Valley is clearly a territory filled with a history of displacement and battles over natural resources. In a broader sense, this is the purpose of the summer’s project; we are trying to show how the battle for Los Angeles’ water supply has yielded the fruits of modern Los Angeles, but it is also clear that this was done at the expense of various groups.

By Jasmine Rodriguez

Call for Applications: 2015 Library Special Collections Short-term Research Fellowships

August 4th, 2014

“Search and ye shall find” is the frontispiece to J. Mawe’s The voyager’s companion; or, Shell collector’s pilot, 4th ed. (London: Printed and sold by the author, 1825). BIOMED QL 405 M462v 1825 RARE

The UCLA Library Special Collections Short-term Research Fellowships Program supports the use of special collections materials by visiting scholars and UCLA graduate students. Collections that are administered by UCLA Library Special Collections and available for fellowship-supported research include materials in the humanities and social sciences, medicine, life and physical sciences, visual and performing arts, and UCLA history.


James and Sylvia Thayer Short-term Research Fellowships

Thayer fellowships provide support for research in any collections administered by UCLA Library Special Collections. Stipends range from $500 to $2,500 and vary yearly; grants in 2013 averaged $1,710 and in 2014 averaged $1,530. Awards are funded by an endowment established by longtime UCLA benefactors James and Sylvia Thayer

Barbara Rootenberg Library Research Fellowship in the History of Medicine and the Life Sciences

The Rootenberg fellowship promotes the use of materials in History & Special Collections for the Sciences in UCLA Library Special Collections. One annual fellowship is awarded in the amount of $1,000. The award is named for Barbara Rootenberg, an alumna of the UCLA School of Library Service and an internationally-renowned antiquarian bookseller.

Ahmanson Research Fellowships for the Study of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts and Books

Ahmanson Fellowships support the use of medieval and Renaissance monographic and manuscript holdings in UCLA Library Special Collections: the Ahmanson-Murphy Collection of the Aldine Press; the Ahmanson-Murphy Collection of Early Italian Printing; the Elmer Belt Library of Vinciana; the Orsini Family Papers; the Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts Collection; the Richard and Mary Rouse Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts and Early Printed Books; and the Medieval and Renaissance Arabic and Persian Medical Manuscripts. The fellowships provide $2,500 per month for up to three months. Administered by the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, this program requires an application separate from that for Thayer and Rootenberg fellowships; information is available on the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies website.


Thayer and Rootenberg Fellowships: United States citizens and permanent residents with the legal right to work in the U.S. who are engaged in graduate-level, post-doctoral, or independent research are invited to apply. Research residencies may last up to three months between February 1 and December 11, 2015.

Ahmanson Fellowships: United States and international graduate students or scholars holding a PhD (or the foreign equivalent) who are engaged in graduate-level, post-doctoral, or independent research are invited to apply. Research residencies may last up to three months between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.


Researchers can submit a single application for “Short-term Research Fellowships” in order to be considered for either the Thayer or Rootenberg fellowships. Applications must be received on or before October 31, 2014.

Applications must include:

  • Cover letter
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Outline of research topic and special collections to be used (two pages maximum)
  • Brief budget for travel, living, and research expenses
  • Dates to be spent in residence
  • Two letters of recommendation from faculty or other scholars familiar with the research project. Please note that the committee cannot consider letters of recommendation from the librarians or staff of the UCLA Library.


Application materials, including letters of recommendation, may be submitted in PDF format by email to Letters of recommendation in PDF format can also be sent by email, either by the person writing them or by the applicant


A committee will evaluate the research proposals, and applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision by email on or before January 15, 2015.

Fellows may be asked to speak briefly about their recent or ongoing research at an informal brownbag session with local scholars during their visit.


Submit print format applications, or direct questions about fellowships, to:

Short-Term Research Fellowships Program
UCLA Library Special Collections
A1713 Charles E. Young Research Library
Box 951575
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1575

Phone: 310.825.6940


Russell Johnson, LSC Fellowships Committee Chair, UCLA Library Special Collections




California Rare Book School (CalRBS): Public Lectures and Programs, Summer 2014

August 1st, 2014

California Rare Book School will host several public events in August, in addition to nine classes ranging from “Byzantine Illuminated Manuscripts” to “History of the Book: The 19th and 20th Centuries.” Lectures by Kathleen Walkup and Terry Belanger bookend showings of Stephen Fry’s 2008 documentary on Johannes Gutenberg and his printing press. Program listings, maps, and directions are available at:


Wednesday, 6 August 2014 at 5:15 p.m.

UCLA Library Conference Center (1st floor, Charles E. Young Research Library)

Kathleen Walkup (Professor of Book Art, Mills College)

An(other) Unsuitable Job for a Woman: Printing in the Long Nineteenth Century

Reception to follow, Library Special Collections (A1713 Charles E. Young Research Library)


Thursday, 7 August 2014; time to be announced

UCLA William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

APHA Southern California Chapter Movie Night at CalRBS

Stephen Fry’s legendary documentary, The Machine That Made Us.

For more information, visit the American Printing History Association chapter.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014 at 5:15 p.m.

UCLA GSEIS Building, Room 111

APHA Southern California Chapter Movie Night at CalRBS

Stephen Fry’s legendary documentary, The Machine That Made Us.

For more information, visit the American Printing History Association chapter.


Thursday, 14 August 2014 at 5:15 p.m.

UCLA GSEIS Building, Room 111

Terry Belanger (Founding Director, Rare Book School)

Another Turn of the Screw

Reception to follow, GSEIS Salon (2nd floor, GSEIS Building)


submitted by Russell Johnson, Curator/Librarian, History & Special Collections for the Sciences, UCLA Library Special Collections

LA Aqueduct Digital Platform series: 100 mules will make you mull over Los Angeles’ past, present, and future

July 24th, 2014

What’s the difference between a mule and a donkey? That was the first question I asked myself when I started working as an oral interview scholar at the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT). You see, I am very much the urban dweller. Born and raised in Los Angeles, the only animal I had ever ridden was a wooden horse on the carousel at the Santa Monica pier. My partiality for cities goes so deep that I even decided to study urban planning at UCLA. Now, not only do I know the answer to that question (a mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse), but I may also get the opportunity to interview some of the finest mule packers in the Owens Valley and maybe even meet a mule or two (fingers crossed).

You may be asking yourself why an urban planning student is excited about the opportunity to meet mules and their wranglers. Well, mules were critical to the development of the American West and particularly to the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which supplied the city with vital water supply from the Owens Valley. A cast of mules recently starred in One Hundred Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Last fall, artist Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio commemorated the centenary of the opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct by walking 100 mules the length of the Aqueduct. The 240-mile journey began south of Bishop at the aqueduct’s intake and lasted 27 days before culminating at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Griffith Park.

“Long Line Team” – L.A. Aqueduct, Collection of California postcards (Collection 1351). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library

One Hundred Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct is part of a series of artists’ actions planned by Bon and the Metabolic Studio to help reinvent Los Angeles’ relationship with water. By walking the length of the Aqueduct, the team was able to physically draw the line between Los Angeles and its distant and dwindling water supply in the Owens Valley. The project also pays homage to the contributions of equine labor and the Owens Valley to Los Angeles’ development.

One of my tasks at CFPRT is to interview participants in the One Hundred Mule march. The recordings of these interviews will then be made available to students, educators, and the general public on the Los Angeles Aqueduct Digital Platform.

The CFPRT has provided me with both the technical training and the creative freedom to complete my project. In my time with CFPRT, I have been trained to conduct human subject research, helped to submit my first research proposal to the Institutional Review Board (IRB), researched oral histories and focus group methodologies, and gained a whole new appreciation for mules and the Owens Valley. In the coming weeks I will facilitate short-form group interviews, edit and transcribe audio recordings, and experiment with various digital tools.

Stay tuned for updates on my project. I will make sure to post a picture of my first mule encounter!

By Mark Friedlander

Iraq in Pictures, 1919

July 15th, 2014

Woman wearing niqab, Photograph Album: Iraq 1919, UCLA Library Special Collections

Library Special Collections has recently acquired a photograph album of Iraq ca. 1919, containing about 185 photographs and 25 postcards, all of which have captions. The photographs would appear to have mostly been taken by a British army officer, and predominantly feature Baghdad and Basra, although other locations such as Ctesiphon, Babylon, Najaf, and Kufah are also represented. The photographs cover a wide variety of subjects from pictures of typical Iraqis going about their daily lives, to coffee shops, boats on the Tigris and bridges over the river, British army officers at rest, mosques and Roman Catholic churches in Baghdad, dates and date pickers, a German tram and a German train outside Baghdad, and an Iraqi gun monitor on the Tigris.

“Showing Kofal Bridge, Baghdad, coffee stall, Quffas, and Arabs”, Photograph Album: Iraq 1919, UCLA Library Special Collections

“Tramway, running between Baghdad and Khadimain laid by the Germans”, Photograph Album: Iraq 1919, UCLA Library Special Collections

At the end of the First World War the Ottoman Empire was broken up. Britain inherited 3 Ottoman Vilayets – Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul – which were to form the basis of the British Mandate for Mesopotamia and later Iraq. In 1920, mass demonstrations occurred with the objective of forming an Arab government. Armed revolt followed. The British were forced to bring reinforcements from Iran to help put down the rebellion. By October the rebellion was over as supplies and funding for the rebels ran out. The rebellion prompted Britain to institute a more legitimate form of government, and to this end they installed the Hashemite ruler Faysal, a descendent of the prophet Mohammed. The Hashemite monarchy was very much a British puppet, but it survived until its overthrow in 1958.

“Baghdad (the City of Mosques)”, Photograph Album: Iraq 1919, UCLA Library Special Collections

Ruins of the Ctesiphon palace, Photograph Album: Iraq 1919, UCLA Library Special Collections

By Simon Elliot

LA Aqueduct Digital Platform series: Digging into the Friends of the LA River archive

July 10th, 2014

I’m a processing assistant for the Los Angeles Aqueduct Digital Platform project at UCLA Library Special Collections’ Center for Primary Research and Training. Over the summer, I’ll be working with Diane Ward, a graduate student in Geography who will process and create description for the Friends of the Los Angeles River records. FoLAR is an environmental organization working to restore the LA River and its habitat and educate people about the river’s importance. In my work, I’ll digitize documents, do risk analysis, and work on metadata, as well as make the occasional post here.

Postcard of the LA River (undated), Friends of the Los Angeles River records (Collection 1622). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library.

I’m an undergraduate minoring in conservation biology, so I’m excited to be involved with this project. For my minor, I’m learning about ecology and evolution, as well as ways to conserve and preserve the environment. The FoLAR records show how people might apply concepts covered in my classes, so this project is a great opportunity for me to see how what I’m learning can effect change in the world.

Two women sitting alongside the LA River (1933), Friends of the Los Angeles River records (Collection 1622). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library.

During our initial survey of the collection, we found a few items that stood out from the rest: LA River postcards from 1915-1920, photos from the early 1930s, and two railroad spikes, which appear to have been found during a river cleanup. The photos and postcards were unexpected finds that showed a very different LA River than the one we’re used to seeing, and it was exciting to happen upon these pieces of history. The railroad spikes were a different kind of surprise. We knew the box they were in contained items found during a river cleanup, but we didn’t know exactly what that might mean. FoLAR has found a variety of things during cleanups. Anything was possible. I don’t know what I was expecting to find in that box, but a pair of railroad spikes wasn’t it.

Railroad spikes, Friends of the Los Angeles River records (Collection 1622). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library.

By Victoria Maches, Processing Assistant, Center for Primary Research and Training


About the collection: The Friends of the Los Angeles River (FOLAR) is a non-profit organization, whose mission is to protect and restore the natural habitat and historic heritage of the LA River through planning, education, and stewardship. The records of FOLAR document the organization’s endeavors to foster efforts to monitor and improve the River’s water quality, create educational programs, promote sustainable water usage, develop recreational and commuter bikeways and pedestrian paths along the riverbanks, as well as other advocacy efforts. This collection is comprised of newspaper clippings, publications, newsletters, reports, promotional ephemera, board reports and minutes, photographs, and other files generated and used by FOLAR during the course of the 1980s until circa 2011. The FoLAR records (Collection 2215) were acquired in Fall 2013. Processing is on track to be completed in December 2014 and will subsequently be open for research.

A Look into Korea’s Past

July 8th, 2014

Students make immense daily contributions to the work we do and the services we provide in Library Special Collections (LSC).  Employment in LSC provides students an opportunity to work directly with a globally-recognized collection of cultural heritage resources, including rare books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, and artworks, to name but a few.  Working in LSC is not merely a job for students, but an opportunity to learn on a continual basis—and to have fun and work in a supportive team atmosphere.

LSC staff thought it would be nice to share these unique student experiences periodically, in the hopes of illustrating how “special” Library Special Collections is to them, and to celebrate the contributions that each and every one of them makes to our Department, the Library, and the larger UCLA academic community.


I wrote this entry a couple quarters back and thus it is way overdue (a scary word in the library context!). Now I am no longer a student assistant at the library, or even a student for that matter. However, currently being jobless, school-less, car-less, restless, and jobless (did I say that already?), I have jumped at the opportunity to make this entry blog-ready and in turn, to close up my time at Special Collections. Here goes.

Grace Song staffs the Reading Room at UCLA Library Special Collections

In search of the topic for my next blog, I was overtaken with way too many ideas that spanned from cook books to textiles to documents about Korean art and culture. Although I did have a ball in the stacks perusing cook books, I decided to hone in on the topic of Korean heritage, which to me seemed more of a challenge… and I love a good challenge (once in a while). Though I was but a lowly student worker in Public Services, I had to switch gears for this project to think and do as a researcher would. “Where do I even start?” I thought, as I fumbled around on the library catalog. People at LSC spent their precious time helping me to find relevant materials and I was taught how to use the Online Archive of California to find manuscript collections within the library. I must add that I have a newfound appreciation for the finding aid – as an undergraduate student, I had never before had an opportunity to use such a tool. After browsing, I discovered that there are more resources that have to do with the art and culture of Korea than I thought there would be. So, I rubbed my hands together and requested those boxes and paged those books like a hungry little scholar, waiting to devour a feast of resources and materials on the Reading Room banquet table… but only one box and one folder at a time, of course.

I decided to look into the Craft and Folk Art Museum Records (Collection 1835), in which there were, among many others, records of a 1982 exhibition called “Guardians of Happiness: A Shamanistic Approach to Korean Folk Art,” curated by Horay Zo Za-Yong of the Emillle Museum in Seoul, Korea. I had never before studied the traditions of folk art in my art history classes, so it was exciting to see pictures of and read about the pieces that were included in the exhibition as well as to take note of all the work and thought that went into the show. The exhibition included a variety of mediums that spanned from the 16th to 19th centuries: screens with colorfully painted animals, ink drawings of the “guardians” that were said to have protected families from evil spirits, woodblock prints, fabric designs, maps, intricately crafted roof tiles, objects such as bells, swords, drums, fans, stamps, and beautifully crafted ceramic pieces.

Horay Zozayong, “Guardians of Happiness” exhibition catalog, Emileh Museum, Seoul, Korea 1982. From the Craft and Folk Art Museum Records (Collection 1835), UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library

Most of the art was made by anonymous craftsmen and many of the objects were family treasures rather than objects to be displayed publicly. An interesting aspect about folk art is that it embodies “an art of an entire nation, of all classes” (Zo Za-Yong, “Paintings magic and mundane: Folk art with a wealth of significance for everyday life”). In the words of the curator, the craftsmen came from a variety of backgrounds, as some were nomads, others monks, and some even court painters. The imagery was to have been seen everywhere, in “the royal court, Buddhist temples, Shaman shrines, Kisaeng drinking houses, altars and private houses” (Zo Za-Yong). There I was, in the reading room, trying to imagine what daily life in Korea would have been like in times before the 1910 annexation, before the devastating war in the 1950s, and before any major industrialization. Looking at the documents gave me an insight into what my own ancestors in Korea would have been surrounded by on a daily basis.

To further supplement my exploration, I looked through a book called Korean Traditions: As Seen Through Paper Windows which features photographs taken by Joo Myung-dok (born 1940), who documented ways of life in the countryside as a way to preserve Korea’s heritage. His black and white photographs from the 1960s to the 1980s feature dancers wearing traditional dress, ritual ceremonies and monks, as well as children and families in familiar villages of his past. I was especially taken with the photographs showing a quiet kind of beauty within the architectural details of windows and walls. They show a side of Korea that I have never had the privilege to witness myself. Of course I can always Google images of the Korean countryside, but it is always a greater experience to see photos within a cohesive collection through the eyes of another individual who has a meaningful and intimate connection with the subjects.

Lastly, I happened to get a sneak-peek of another collection, the Ho Young Ham Papers (Collection 697). Ho Young Ham was a Korean-born man who immigrated to Hawaii in the early 1900s, and his collection includes books, photographs, correspondence, and clothing that belonged to his family. Two of my co-workers were admiring some of the hanbok (Korean traditional dress) and I obviously had to check it out too, not because I am nosy but because it is a rare occurrence to see clothing items in the library (okay, maybe I am a bit nosy).

Assorted Clothing, Ho Young Ham Papers Box 42 (Collection 697). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library.

Anyway, these articles of clothing were not like the hanbok dresses I wore when I was a little girl and not even like the one that my mom wore for my brother’s wedding, which was a more fancy type fit for the special occasion. I recently went to a hanbok shop in Korea Town, where I basically had a heart attack from looking at all the beautiful colors of silk. It is not that the clothing from the collection is not as pretty or not worth looking at – that is not the case at all. They were so very worth poring over because I had not seen traditional Korean clothing that was used for everyday wear. Granted, there were some fancier ones included in the mix, but what caught my eye were the garments that had the wear and tear of everyday life on them. The colors were just as beautiful and I had just as much of a heart attack as when I went to the fancy hanbok shop. I realized that I grew up looking at these types of colors – the soft but vibrant pinks, yellows and greens. I see them in the Korean dishes I eat, I see them in my mom’s art pieces that don our walls, I see them in my own art, and I see them as my favorite colors that spark memories within my mind. Even though Joo Myung-dok’s photographs were black and white, I see these colors in his pictures, and I also envision them in the artifacts included in the CAFAM show in 1982.

It was definitely very gratifying to “visit” an exhibition from the past, observe Korea’s countryside through another’s artistic eye, and see and feel the traditional clothing that was worn in everyday situations. Seeing these materials in the reading room helped me to better visualized and piece together certain aspects of my own heritage, which is something that I continue to think more seriously about in regard to my own life and identity. The experience also behooved me to appreciate not only the valuable materials available in the collections, but the readers who come in day in and day out to work on their various projects. It is challenging work and often goes unnoticed by many undergrads like me, who take much for granted. The best discoveries are always founded upon much toil and sweat, but also a whole lot of fun. And sometimes, one can see how one’s own life fits in with the little details along the way. I would very much encourage other undergrads to make these little projects for themselves, even if there is no grade or academic credit for it in the end. Since I am so wise now that I have graduated (cue the hair flip and eye rolls), I can say for sure that my college education has not amounted to a number, whether it is my GPA or the number of units I have taken. It has all to do with these types of discoveries and the lessons I have learned, whether they were in the academic context or in everyday living situations such as having a part-time job (the best one being at LSC). I will very much miss it and I hope current and future students will recognize and appreciate the wealth that surrounds them at the library.

By Grace Song, former Public Services Student Assistant

What a Drag!

June 17th, 2014

In the Library Special Collections Sheet Music Collection, which consists of approximately 100,000 pieces of popular American music, you can find pieces of sheet music that feature images of very popular and proper women who made their living performing as men on the British music hall and American vaudeville stages.

These publications date from the late 19th century through the early 20th century, as such performances declined in popularity when faced with the competition of talking motion pictures.

Today’s use of the term drag leads the viewer to misunderstanding the goals of these early cross-dressing women. Today their performances are understood as challenges to the traditional understanding of sex and gender. These performances were simply seen as one type among many that portrayed some sort of illusion or magic.

Some of these female male impersonators who can be found in the collection are: Claire Romaine (known as London’s Pet Boy), Grace Leonard, Hetty King (real name Winifred Emms), Florence Tempest, and Vesta Tilley (real name Matilda Alice Powles).

By Peggy Alexander, Curator of Performing Arts