Heritage Resources is open during summer session but individual units will be closed at various times as indicated below:
Special Collections will be closed Monday, June 26 through Wednesday, July 5.
This information (also available on our "Hours and Locations" page) will be updated so please check back regularly if you are planning to visit. If you have questions, please call (360) 650-7534.
The Spring 2017 edition of Heritage Highlights is now available! In this issue you will learn about a variety of Heritage Resources' collections which document local and regional artistic culture, including the digitized correspondence of Skagit County artists, photographs and oral histories related to campus sculpture, and a recent donation of valuable photography books.
Heritage Resources consists of the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Special Collections, and University Archives & Records Management.
Image: Isamu Noguchi at the dedication ceremony for Skyviewing Sculpture, 1969, Campus History Collection, Special Collections.
New Exhibit Features WWU History
Western Students Protest Kent State and Jackson State Killings, 1970 / from the Campus History Collection, Special Collections, Western Libraries Heritage Resources, Western Washington University.
Western Libraries Heritage Resources holds vast documentation related to the history of Western Washington University, and beginning March 28, 2017 a retrospective exhibit, featuring historical photographs and other memorabilia illustrating Western’s twelve vibrant decades of institutional life, will bring to light some of these treasures.
This exhibit is free and open to the public, and is available for viewing through the summer in Western Libraries Special Collections Monday – Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed weekends and holidays).
Originally developed for the WWU Centennial Celebration in 1999-2000, the exhibit entitled “Western Tableaux: Redux,” has been updated to reflect Western’s history to the present date. By documenting key events associated with the academic, administrative, and social life of Western, this exhibit unveils pieces of local, state, and national stories.
Through a decade-by-decade series of images, viewers will be able to follow the institution’s trajectory from its earliest days as a normal (teachers’) school, through the expansion of its physical environment and curriculum, and transitions in leadership, programming, and the dynamic and evolving student body.
Connecting Literature to Life: Childhood Inspiration Comes Full Circle
Keri Krout can still recall the long hot California summers of her childhood, and how they were marked by each arrival from the mail-order Scholastic book club. Krout and her siblings would gather around their mother, eagerly watching as she opened up the cardboard wrapping that encased the book. But the one book Krout remembers most of all is Andrew Henry’s Meadow, written and illustrated by Doris (Wernstedt) Burn.
“We not only read her story, but I remember studying the pictures for hours and imagining my life in a meadow full of friends,” explained Krout. “My home of choice was the bird house built up in the sky. I imagined what a cool breeze would feel like, and the sound of the birds singing just to me.”
Andrew Henry's Meadow is the story of a boy who feels ignored and unappreciated by his family and decides to build a special retreat for himself in a nearby meadow. Other children from the neighborhood join him, so he builds houses for them as well, each one customized to complement their interests and hobbies.
“My brother and I attempted to build a pulley system in his bedroom like Andrew Henry built for his younger brothers, but I admit our attempts fell short,” said Krout. She noted that while other books continued to arrive in the mail, it was Andrew Henry’s Meadow that impacted her the most.
“I grew up working with children,” said Krout, who now works as the manager of the Associated Students Child Development Center (CDC) at Western Washington University. “I think perhaps I understand children’s need to have their own space thanks to Andrew Henry.”
Krout recalled how her favorite childhood story resurfaced when she first began working at Western as she walked through The Outback on her way to work. She encountered a small cabin and was astonished to learn its connection to Doris Burn, as the cabin had once belonged to June and Farrar Burn, Doris Burn’s parents-in-law.
“My beginning started with a simple story of the need to create, to escape, to be understood and accepted. And here I was, standing by the cabin which had belonged to the family of the woman whose life and creating influenced mine in ways I’m sure I can’t count. I felt a sense of utter gratitude of how life can take a person full circle,” Krout explained.
Krout relayed this experience to some of the families of the CDC, and one of the parents later emailed her about a special exhibition featuring the work of Doris Burn that was on display at Western Libraries. As part of this exhibition, Doris Burn’s daughter, the local author and multi-dimensional artist Skye Burn, was scheduled to give a special public presentation about the life and legacy of her mother. Krout knew immediately she would attend this event, and following Skye’s talk, the two women finally met in person.
“What an honor to meet her daughter and to bask in the glow of creative genius,” said Krout. “How can I begin to even thank Doris and her family?”
Burn’s work continues to speak to readers of all ages, and since her death in 2011, Andrew Henry’s Meadow has been reissued by Penguin’s Philomel Books. The title has also been published and is presently available in translation in Korea, China and Japan. Andrew Henry's Meadow won the Washington Governor's Art Award and was a Weekly Reader book club selection.
“Plenty of Things to Do: The Work of Northwest Children’s Author Doris Burn,” will remain on display through March 10th, and is available for viewing weekdays Monday – Friday in Special Collections, (Wilson Library 6th Floor) between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Additionally, a digital version of the Doris Burn exhibit is now available online, as are detailed collection guides to the Doris Burn Artwork and Manuscripts and related collections of June and Farrar Burn Papers and South Burn Papers, housed and available at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies.
The pieces on display were selected from a far larger collection of Burn’s original works, which were donated to Western Libraries Heritage Resources in 2015 as a gift of the Burn Family via the Doris Burn Legacy LLC. These materials help document the cultural and artistic history of the Pacific Northwest region and were created by an artist and writer who sought specifically to engage with the needs, interests, and creativity of a younger audience.
Skye Burn’s talk, “The Strength of a Dream: A Daughter's Portrait of a Northwest Children's Author and Illustrator,” can be found in Western CEDAR and is viewable from this link.
The Fall 2016 edition of Heritage Highlights is now available! In this issue we explore Western's campus history, including a timeline of past presidents, the development of the university's physical and built environment, and recollections and reminiscences of former faculty and staff told through oral histories.
Heritage Resources is a division of Western Libraries which includes the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Special Collections, and University Archives & Records Management.
Image: 620 High Street, circa 1950, University Archives.
James W. Scott Regional Research Fellowships - Now Accepting Applications for 2017
About the Awards
The James W. Scott Regional Research Fellowships promote awareness and innovative use of archival collections at Western Washington University, and seek to forward scholarly understandings of the Pacific Northwest. Fellowship funds are awarded in honor of the late Dr. James W. Scott, a founder and first Director of the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, and a noted scholar of the Pacific Northwest region. Up to $1000 funding is offered in 2017 to support significant research using archival holdings at WWU’s Center for Pacific Northwest Studies (CPNWS), a unit of Western Libraries Heritage Resources.
- Applications are accepted from individuals in doctoral programs as well as individuals who have finished the Ph.D.
- Successful applicants will be expected to spend approximately one week examining CPNWS holdings in support of their research, and to be in residence prior to October 31, 2017. Additional information and detailed guides to collections may be accessed on the CPNWS website.
- Fellows will be asked to give a presentation about some aspect of their research during the course of their scheduled visit. The audience will vary depending on the time of the year, but may include members of the general public as well as students, faculty and staff from WWU.
- Applications for the award will be reviewed after April 30, 2017. The number and size of awards granted annually is determined by the application review committee.
- Applications may be submitted via mail or electronically and should include:
- Cover letter
- Curriculum Vitae
- Research plan outlining on-site use of CPNWS holdings and proposed presentation topic
- Two letters of recommendation.
- Please send applications via email to Ruth.Steele@wwu.edu or by mail to Ruth Steele, Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Western Libraries Heritage Resources, Western Washington University, Bellingham WA 98225-9123. Please enter “Scott Research Fellowship Application” in the subject line of email applications.
- Funds will be awarded after a Fellow(s) has conducted research at CPNWS and delivered their presentation.
- Fellowship awards may be subject to taxation in accordance with the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Applicants are advised that they may need a U.S. Taxpayer Identification Number (i.e. SSN or ITIN) to receive funds.
Using Archives to Enhance Teaching & Learning
How can media history inform our understanding of our current moment? What is the role of media in the construction of identity, social hierarchies, and our understanding of power? Recognizing that archival and primary source materials provide evidence that can help answer these kinds of questions, Professor Helen Morgan Parmett decided to experiment by integrating an upper-class research and writing assignment with resources at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies (CPNWS), a division of Western Libraries Heritage Resources.
Last quarter students from Professor Morgan Parmett’s Communications Studies 416 class, “Cultural History of Media and Identity,” spent several hours at the CPNWS to review a variety of primary source archival materials in their consideration of the intersections between cultural history, media, and identity formation.
This was the first time many of these students had ever worked directly with archival materials, and CPNWS staff sought to provide contrasting examples of locally-produced media by also including materials that spoke to the experiences, interests, and voices of traditionally under-represented individuals and groups. For example, in addition to exploring historic issues of more mainstream publications such as the Bellingham Herald, students also examined the Northwest Passage, an alternative newspaper produced from 1969-1986, as well as a range of newsletters and educational materials produced by women’s organizations and LGBTA+ advocacy groups.
Heritage Resources Assistant Archivist for Outreach and Instruction Roz Koester helped facilitate the inquiry process by asking students to consider not just the materials in front of them, but to also think about what was not kept.
"Since we so often rely on written documentation to provide evidence of our shared cultural heritage, it's important to be aware that there are stories and experiences that remain untold,” explained Koester. “A lot of records don't get preserved, so, as researchers, you need to not only be thinking about the information that's available in the resources you're using, but also what might be missing. And we should all be thinking about how we can engage those hidden voices in order to preserve a more complete picture of our history."
As a required component of their research and writing assignment, students were expected to contribute to the scholarship of media history and identity found in secondary literature by constructing an original argument based on archival evidence of media influence on the construction Pacific Northwest identities.
Professor Morgan Parmett hopes that through this assignment, her students will develop a greater understanding not only of media history, but also of where we are now and how we are currently using media. She emphasized how we can learn much about today by considering the media histories of the past:
“For one, they disillusion us from the idea that things have always been a certain way by demonstrating the conflicts, debates, and struggles out of which our current moment emerged,” explained Professor Morgan Parmett. “These histories illuminate the fact that many of the debates we currently have about media and its societal effects are, in fact, not new. Seeing how these debates were resolved in earlier periods may provide insights for how we might move forward into our media futures in more socially just ways.”
Heritage Resources is a division of Western Libraries which includes Special Collections, the University Archives & Records Management, and the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies. Together these units provide for the responsible stewardship of unique and archival materials in support of teaching, learning, and research. For more information about how Heritage Resources supports the research needs of students and educators, contact Heritage.Resources@wwu.edu.
When Local Becomes National
On Tuesday, February 2, 2016 in Special Collections we were honored to host the very special event "When local becomes national," during which panelists spoke about community journalism and the impact of the work of noted and prolific photographer, Wallie V. Funk. Wallie was also in attendance along with members of his family, and he made the event even more meaningful by sharing some of his memories enriching the conversation with his perspective.
Between 75 and 80 people were in attendance to listen to tales of Wallie's contributions and their place in the history of local and national photojournalism.
During his long career as a photographer, journalist and co-owner of the Anacortes American, the Whidbey News-Times, and the South Whidbey Record, Wallie V. Funk photographed a diverse and eclectic range of subjects, including several U.S. presidential visits to the state of Washington; the Beatles’ and Rolling Stones’ concerts in Seattle; the 1970 Penn Cove whale capture; local and regional accidents and disasters (both natural and man-made); and community events and military activities on Fidalgo and Whidbey islands.
Panelists spoke about the impact of Wallie's work on his community and its surrounding area, and talked about how he used his photography and storytelling talents to draw attention to important matters in order to benefit and improve the lives of those around him. Each panelist had personal ties to Wallie, having worked closely with him while developing an enduring friendship.
Panelists were Theresa Trebon, Swinomish Indian Tribal community and local historian; Paul Cocke, Director of Western’s Office of Communications and Marketing and former news editor of the Anacortes American; Elaine Walker, curator of collections at the Anacortes Museum and former news editor of the Anacortes American; and Scott Terrell, photojournalist for the Skagit Valley Herald and WWU journalism instructor.
The presentation was sponsored by Western Libraries Heritage Resources, the WWU Department of Journalism and Western’s Office of Communications and Marketing.
A photographic exhibit featuring Funk's images is available for viewing weekdays in Special Colelctions between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., (excluding weekends and holidays). The photographs on display in the exhibit represent a small sample from a far larger collection of papers, prints, and negatives donated by Walle V. Funk to the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies in 2003. If you are interested in learning more about this collection, please contact Heritage.Resources@wwu.edu.
Heritage Resources staff have designed a new digital exhibit featuring photographs taken by noted and prolific Pacific Northwest journalist Wallie V. Funk. During his career, Funk photographed a diverse and eclectic range of subjects, including several U.S. presidents, the Beatles' and Rolling Stones' concerts in Seattle, the 1970 Penn Cove whale capture, community events, and military activities on Whidbey Island. Featured images are a small sample from a far larger collection of papers, prints and negatives donated by Funk to the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies in 2003. This online resource was created as an accompaniment to a physical exhibit which will be hosted in Special Collections (Wilson Library 6th floor) in Winter Quarter 2016.
Open Access News @WWU: Western CEDAR Updates
Western Washington University launched its Institutional Repository known as Western CEDAR in the fall of 2014. Part of a global movement promoting open access to scholarship and creative works, Western CEDAR is a service of Western Libraries, in partnership with Western's Graduate School, Office of the Provost, and Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.
During the past year, content in Western CEDAR has grown to include 108 faculty research pages, 26 departmental pages, 441 theses, 111 Scholars Week poster sessions, and the 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference. By the end of this past October, scholarship contained in CEDAR had been downloaded worldwide over 65,000 times.
Western Libraries has taken an active leadership role in managing CEDAR day-to-day, teaching interested faculty, staff, and students about the software’s many capabilities, and educating them on their intellectual property rights and responsibilities. Western CEDAR advances the University’s commitment to enriching academic inquiry and strengthening communities by sharing the expertise and creativity of its students, faculty, and staff worldwide via the Web.
Recently the Institute for Watershed Studies (IWS) collaborated with Western Libraries to add their collection to CEDAR. The IWS supports research on freshwater lakes, streams and wetlands, including Lake Whatcom, which is the primary drinking water source for the City of Bellingham and parts of Whatcom County.
The City of Bellingham and Western have worked together on investigations of the water quality in Lake Whatcom since the early 1960s. Beginning in the 1980s, a monitoring program was developed by the City and the IWS to provide long-term water quality data for the lake and its tributaries. Having the IWS collection in Western CEDAR means that this information is now accessible for anyone to search, find, and use.
This past summer, back issues of the interdisciplinary peer-reviewed Journal of Educational Controversy were also added to the repository. The next issue is scheduled for publication directly in CEDAR sometime this fall, and will include an article which examines the benefits, pitfalls, and sustainability of open access publishing.
For more information about Western CEDAR, contact Scholarly Communications Librarian Jenny Oleen or Western CEDAR Manager, Kim Marsicek.
Washington Rural Heritage Grant Award
Thanks to a $5,000 Washington Rural Heritage Grant, Western Libraries will be digitizing the correspondence, photographs, sketches, and papers of three prominent Pacific Northwest artists: Guy Anderson, Charles Stokes and Louis Mideke.
Once digitized, this content will be added to Heritage Resources’ digital collections, as well as the Washington Rural Heritage website, making these materials publicly available for use in research, teaching and private study.
Julia Sapin, chair of Western’s Art department, noted the significance of obtaining the Anderson materials.
“Guy Anderson was a leading figure in the Northwest School of painting and drew attention to this region through his form of abstract expressionism,” Sapin said. “It is a boon to our library’s collection to have this esteemed gift among its offerings, and Western students, as well as students and scholars from across the country, will be able to make use of this resource and increase their understanding of Anderson’s practice and community.”
Western Libraries Heritage Resources is partnering on the project with the Museum of Northwest Art in LaConner and the LaConner Public Library System. Washington Rural Heritage is a collaborative digitization program headquartered at the Washington State Library that brings together unique local history materials from libraries, museums and the private collections of citizens across Washington State.
New Collection Features Doris Burn Artwork & Manuscripts
Siblings Skye, Lisa, and Mark Burn introduce Librarian Sylvia Tag to a portfolio of Doris Burn's drawings that now form part of the collection donated to Western Libraries.
Western Libraries has received a new collection of materials from noted children’s author and illustrator Doris Burn. A long-time resident of the San Juan Islands, Doris (Wernstedt ) Burn authored and illustrated the 1965 classic Andrew Henry’s Meadow, which won the Washington Governor’s Art Award. Burn also wrote The Summerfolk and The Tale of Lazy Lizard Canyon, and served as illustrator for a range of children’s works that are included in and documented through this donation.
Examples of some of the books and materials that are now part of the new collection.
The collection is a gift from the Burn family to Western Washington University via the Doris Burn Legacy LLC, and contains first-edition copies of children’s works written or illustrated by Burn, manuscripts and original artwork prepared for titles including Andrew Henry’s Meadow, and a number of unpublished and hitherto unseen manuscripts and drawings.
“This donation allows us to preserve the work and legacy of a noted children’s author and illustrator,” said Archivist Ruth Steele. “These materials are an important addition to the unique and rare collections held by Western Libraries.”
Skye, Lisa, and Mark Burn share memories of their mother's work with librarian Sylvia Tag and Archivist Ruth Steele.
These materials help document the cultural and artistic history of the Pacific Northwest region and were created by an artist and writer who sought specifically to engage with the needs, interests, and creativity of a younger audience. Burn’s work continues to speak to readers of all ages, and since her death in 2011, Andrew Henry’s Meadow has been reissued by Penguin’s Philomel Books. The title has also been published and is presently available in translation in Korea, China and Japan.
The collection of materials from the Burn family will be preserved and made available for research and use through Western Libraries Heritage Resources, in association with the Children’s Literature Interdisciplinary Collection, and is a valuable addition to the Libraries’ holdings. The Libraries promotes active use of these holdings by faculty, staff and students and also welcomes community members who may be interested in exploring these and other collections.
What do fly fishing and Western Libraries have in common? You might be surprised at the connections between these two seemingly incongruous things!
Professor Paul Piper, who is also Western Libraries librarian for Special Collections, is teaching a Library 320 Class this quarter, “Fly Fishing in American Literature and Culture.” This class explores both the sport and art of ﬂy ﬁshing in American literature and culture, and considers the implications of fly ﬁshing as a cultural phenomenon on gender, race, and environmental concerns by utilizing the ﬂy ﬁshing collection in Special Collections.
After a student in the class mentioned that he had never actually done any fly fishing and thought he could benefit from understanding something of the physical experience, Piper spoke with two professors who are also sitting in and contributing to the class, Woodring College of Education Human Services Professor Dr. Stan Goto, and Huxley College Environmental Sciences Professor Dr. Leo Bodensteiner, about arranging a time for students to experience what it feels like to cast a flyrod.
One sunny Thursday afternoon presented itself as the perfect opportunity for the class to engage in some experiential learning activities to help enrich their classroom experiences. Here are some photos of students gathered together on the lawn in from of Old Main first learning some tips from Bodensteiner, and then practicing their casting skills.
“The students seemed thrilled by the kinesthetic experience of holding and handling a fly rod. In subsequent discussion they talked about how it made the conceptual more real. Several students said they wanted to further pursue it," said Piper.
To see more pictures from Thursday's class, check out the Libraries Facebook page. To learn more about Western Libraries fly fishing collections, which includes: books, periodicals, manuscripts, photographs, artworks, audio and video personal interviews and histories, and fly fishing artifacts such as rods, reels, flies, and fly tying materials, contact: Heritage.Resources@wwu.edu.
The instruction plan for Western Libraries Heritage Resources articulates the goal of ensuring that Western students “are able to find, understand, and interpret a wide variety of research sources in various contexts throughout their lives.” With that in mind, Heritage Resources staff work closely with instructors to meet specific course needs and learning objectives by providing access to a wealth of materials that can enhance, enrich, and enliven research in nearly any subject area.
For example, this past August, a new cohort of Environmental Education graduate students visited Western’s campus and spent time working with archival and primary source materials at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies (CPNWS). As part of the M.Ed Residency program partnership between the North Cascades Institute (NCI) and Western’s Huxley College of the Environment, these students live at the Environmental Learning Center located in the North Cascades National Park for one year, during which time they are able to immerse themselves in place-based pedagogy.
At the heart of place-based education is the recognition that experiential community-based learning enhances a student’s educational experience by treating the local community as one of the primary sources for teaching and learning. The mission of the CPNWS is to “enhance public and scholarly understanding of the region’s past and present,” and this natural programmatic alignment led Huxley faculty and Heritage Resources staff to recognize an opportunity for collaboration.
In preparation for the on-site visit, Heritage Resources staff arranged a selection of original and archival materials representative of various perspectives of place - including environmental, economic, recreational, and indigenous views - for students to review and analyze. In the Archives Building Research Room, students divided into groups and reviewed the maps, photographs, pamphlets, letters, and other materials. Together they considered issues related to the construction of cultural and regional identity, the evolution of policy, perceptions of concepts such as “conservation” and “wilderness,” and the significance of place names in determining cultural values. Course instructor and NCI Graduate Program Coordinator Joshua Porter posed several challenging questions, which led to lively and interactive class discussions.
“Different resources on each table give you insight in terms of both the media and the policy – How does the creation of information determine the ‘value’ of whatever is being discussed? What is the leverage you have if you are creating these maps? What is your leverage in terms of conveying to the world what matters, what has value, what has meaning?” asked Porter.
Several students questioned what could be the implications for the cultural heritage of a place when traditional native names were removed and replaced with new names. Others pointed out how some of the maps were defined in terms of resource extraction rather than conservation. When looking at the photographs, some students observed how having access to archival materials like these gave them a glimpse into the lives of people from the past, bringing them closer despite the passage of time and changes in cultural contexts. Often these glimpses inspired unexpected insights and additional questions.
“Although there was a lack of reciprocity in terms of resource extraction, it’s also impossible to miss the level of intimacy between the people and the land in these photographs, even if the conservation policy was lacking at that time. It would be so interesting to talk to these people. The photographs capture historical moments as opposed to all of the moments of everyday life. Another mode of inquiry would also be interesting to pursue,” said student Liz Blackman.
After this observation, Roz Koester, Assistant Archivist for Outreach and Instruction for Heritage Resources, was quick to mention the oral histories that are also contained at the CPNWS, and invited Blackman to return if she would like to further explore those personal narratives. Koester explained that oral histories offer an opportunity to hear from the people we are interested in first-hand and in their own words. She also mentioned that sometimes people will begin their research with certain expectations about what they are going to find, but often their perspectives will alter as a result of the information they encounter.
“Exploring these types of complexities is part of the beauty of working with primary sources. You can come to these materials with a bias and that is where you start your inquiry, but the records that are here can present an opportunity to challenge that bias. Original, archival, primary source research offers us insight that can make us challenge our own assumptions, our own points of view. You might be led in a completely different direction than what you originally intended. As archivists, it’s the critical analysis piece that we really want people to get out of this experience,” explained Koester.
The class concluded with Porter leading a discussion about how students and educators can benefit in utilizing the materials offered by Heritage Resources to explore the relationship between how meaning is constructed, how cultural values are expressed, the impact this can have on policy and information creation, and how this in turn affects our own assumptions about both people and place. Porter also pointed out that as environmental educators, the students should remember that no matter where they go once they have completed graduate school, they can use archival and primary source materials to benefit their future teaching and learning practices.
“Moving forward, I really encourage all of us to continue to do research here, but also to keep in mind what resources there are in every community that we enter into in the future, how to sleuth out those resources and how, as educators, we can uses these sources,” stated Porter.
Heritage Resources is a division of Western Libraries which includes the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Special Collections, and the University Archives & Records Management. Together the three programs provide for responsible stewardship of unique and archival materials in support of teaching, learning, and research. If you’d like to learn more about the Heritage Resources Instruction Program, or are interested in discussing how Heritage Resources can support your teaching and learning needs, please contact Heritage.Resources@wwu.edu or phone (360) 650-6621.
Professor Katie Vulić has been bringing her medieval literature classes to Western Libraries Special Collections ever since she first began teaching at Western. For the first several years, Vulić taught students exclusively from copies of original works; Special Collections owns a number of facsimile reproductions of medieval manuscripts that helped her students gain an understanding of the original context and culture of their class texts.
At the same time that she was using these facsimile materials, Vulić was also very interested in finding an opportunity to introduce original materials into her courses so that her students could engage directly with original manuscripts and learn from them firsthand about medieval literary culture.
“One of the goals in using original manuscripts is for students to recognize how hugely different their reading practices are between reading mass-produced, cheap, clean texts versus hard-to-produce medieval luxury goods, the kind where every letter written is its own work of art,” explained Vulić. "Additionally, with the facsimile materials, I could say ‘Here is what is known, here is what has already been discovered.’ With the original materials, I can do that too, but then I can also come back and ask, ‘What can we learn from these materials that is not yet known? What are the differences between medieval reading practices and our own?’”
Last year, Vulić was able to pose these questions to some of her graduate students after she made arrangements to borrow some original manuscript fragments and incunables (early printed books) from Washington State University’s Special Collections for her class to use. These materials were kept in Western Libraries Special Collections, and her graduate students were then able to spend a number of hours over a two-week period working directly with the borrowed materials.
“I had them go the whole nine yards with the manuscript fragments: transcribe passages, prepare a thorough description of their features, and check the existing databases in order to identify what they were. Students did say it was a lot of work but they also really enjoyed it and said I should keep the project going,” stated Vulić.
Though all of the medieval items loaned from Washington State were just individual leaves of parchment separated from their full original manuscripts, students can learn a lot from scraps and fragments. “If a book was taken apart like that, it was often because it was considered commonplace, outdated, or not valuable. Old manuscripts could be used for scrap, or for reinforcing the binding of other more current books. What that means is most of the scraps we can afford and that we see tend to be in Latin and church-related, but one advantage of that is they also tend to be searchable,” explained Vulić.
While some of the manuscript fragments have cataloged information as part of their records, other fragments have very little documented information accompanying them. However, for the fragments that are not searchable, there is still a lot that can be discovered.
“It’s hard to make a huge discovery in just one day, but sometimes we could use context clues to figure things out. And students come away with a real appreciation for the unique methods, challenges and experiences of this profession. They also gain firsthand experience with archival practices and discovering something ‘new’ in an archive, sometimes even contributing quite a lot to existing knowledge. Students are surprised by how hard these materials are to read, but they seem to have a lot of fun with it, as if they are working out puzzles. It’s an opportunity that undergraduates don’t usually have—a chance for them to see and interact with materials that are usually kept behind glass.”
This experience with her graduate students made her think of piloting a similar project in her undergraduate classes, and one year later, Dean of Western Libraries Mark Greenberg helped facilitate another loan of original materials from a rare book dealer with whom he has worked in the past.
Vulić has since used these original manuscript fragments this past quarter in two of her undergraduate classes. She synthesized the highlights of what her graduate class did over a two week period into two days, and Vulić thinks her classes have enjoyed the experience. She noted that access to these materials gives students an enhanced sense of the culture, can correct misinformation from movies, video games, and popular culture, and can help students become more grounded in the time period from which the pieces were produced, while simultaneously creating opportunities for interaction with the original materials about which there might not be a lot of known information.
Vulić explained that while she wished Western Libraries would someday have its own collection of original manuscripts, she also wanted her colleagues to know about the resources available to them that Western Libraries can help provide. She stated that she is always surprised when she meets someone who teaches at Western who has not visited Special Collections.
“It would be lovely if more of our colleagues would take advantage of these resources. I have found it to be fantastic working with library staff. They are always so willing to work with me and to meet my teaching needs. They have always been the best partners in just the best possible ways. I cannot say enough good things about them. For faculty thinking about setting up a new class and using some of these resources, it may take a little work to get things going, but it will be worth it in the long run, and you will always get the support you need from the library!”
Many students and grads spend ample time in Western Libraries, unaware that it is home to a Rare Book Collection with some rather eclectic treasures lingering on the uppermost floor. Rare Books are housed in a climate-controlled storage facility on the 6th floor of the Wilson Library, adjacent to a well-lit, comfortable reading and research room.
Western Libraries seeks to increase both size and awareness of the collection, and has recently formed an advisory group comprised of faculty from the library and several other departments. This group will guide future purchases and acquisitions, assist in identifying donors, and perhaps most importantly, help integrate the collection into the University’s curriculum. The collection’s scope includes art books, regional letterpress and small press, 19th century women’s literature and children’s literature.
Recent acquisitions include an edition of Jorge Luis Borges Book of Sand with woodcuts by local artist Tom Wood. The uniqueness and multidimensionality (book as text, book as object, book as art) of works like this make them rich in teaching and research opportunities. The Rare Book Collection also boasts a luxurious facsimile of Ellesmere’s Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, original journals of Vancouver, Cook and Lewis and Clark, and numerous rare works of art and literature.
Western Washington is home to several nationally renowned letterpresses that produce books of exceptional quality. Presses like Copper Canyon, Co-op, Brooding Heron, Grey Spider, Wood Works, Egress Studio Press and others are creating books that by their choice of paper, type, binding, size, and content are themselves works of art. Western’s evolving rare book criteria have been enhanced to include vigorous collection of such items. These are often extremely small print runs that go out of stock quickly, and are often poorly preserved. Preserving these books and making them available for instruction are two of the primary goals.
Rare books located in the general circulating shelves are being discovered and relocated into the Rare Book Collection where handling and climate can be regulated. Anyone who would like to help grow this collection either through gifts that include books that fit our collecting criteria, or through monetary donations may contact Paul Piper at 360-650-3097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Western Libraries Heritage Resources is pleased to be a Project Contributor on a new exhibition from the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle, WA. The exhibit, entitled Grit: Asian Pacific Pioneers Across the Northwest, “uncovers the true stories of the men and women who migrated to the region from the Asia Pacific,” and “reminds us of Asian Pacific Americans’ long history of fortitude and resilience as they established communities in the Pacific Northwest.” One of the featured stories is that of Lummi/Hawaiian fiddler Charley Kahana and the exhibit includes images of Kahana drawn from the Howard E. Buswell collection at Heritage Resources’ own Center for Pacific Northwest Studies.
Grit opened on December 12, 2013 and runs through October 19, 2014. The Wing Luke is a Smithsonian Affiliate in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution.
Western Libraries Heritage Resources offers an exciting opportunity for highly motivated and intellectually curious students to pursue an in-depth course of study that is not offered elsewhere in the curriculum. Through independent study students have an opportunity to conduct research in primary and secondary sources such as manuscripts, archives, and rare books managed by the University Archives, Library Special Collections, and/or the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies. Project proposals may involve the creation of an online exhibit, documentary film, archival finding aid, annotated bibliography, biography, specialized curriculum or specialized teaching/learning tools, a research paper, or other topics or resources as proposed. A prospectus/plan for the work should be submitted in advance of registration.
Independent study proposals are developed in consultation with a WWU full-time faculty member and/or the Director of Heritage Resources. Interested students should begin consulting with their faculty mentors well in advance in order to develop a feasible project proposal. Priority will be given to thoughtful, structured topics that are not offered elsewhere in the undergraduate or graduate curriculum. Independent study requires that students design their own courses, create their own syllabi, and work closely with faculty mentors. Supervising professors will donate a great deal of time and effort, so students applying for independent study should be similarly committed to the project. Students must be in residence in order to undertake independent study projects. A three-credit independent study should involve at least one hour of student-faculty contact plus an additional eight hours of work per week. It is also possible to elect two or four credit hours with appropriate changes in workload. The number of candidates accepted each quarter will vary, based on available resources and supervisory capacity.
- Pick up a Directed Independent Study Permit from Connie Mallison in the Library Administration Office, 231 Haggard Hall.
- Working with your faculty member and member of the Heritage Resources staff, complete the permit form and attach a one-page abstract that describes goals and objectives of the Independent Study, the desired projected learning outcomes and your qualifications to undertake the proposed project, any required resources, the expectations of the faculty supervisor, and proposed evaluation criteria.
- Submit your proposal to the Director of Heritage Resources and your faculty mentor for final approval.
- Have the supervising faculty member sign the application permit. The student will submit the permit form to the Registrar.
All proposals submitted by the Add/Drop deadline will be considered.
Recommendation of an instructor from the student’s department; permission from the chair of student’s department and the Director of Heritage Resources.
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