The Birth of Chemistry

Annales de Chimie, Tome Premier. Paris, 1789. Octavo, 22cm. Mallet Chemistry Library.

Antoine de Lavoisier (1743-1794) was one of the founding fathers of the modern science of chemistry.  He and his contemporaries established a more quantitative, empirical method of inquiry grounded in physics and mathematics. In 1789, as the French Revolution was beginning, Lavoisier and his colleagues, including Claude-Louis Berthollet and Antoine-François Fourcroy, launched the first French chemical journal, Annales de Chimie. Despite the upheavals of the Revolution and Lavoisier’s own execution during the Reign of Terror, the Annales became a major component of the early literature of chemistry.

The establishment of a strong chemical research library was a high priority for the University’s first chemistry professors. Significant sums were spent on acquiring complete runs of major chemical journals. The first series of the Annales (volumes 1-96, 1789-1815) was purchased in 1914 for $325 – over $7,300 in 2014 dollars, and resides in the Mallet Chemistry Library.

Contributed by Mallet Chemistry Library Head Librarian David Flaxbart.

Thank You!

The students appreciate your support.
Students appreciate your support.

The University of Texas Libraries would like to thank alumni, friends, foundations and businesses for contributing over $7.6 million to the Libraries during the Campaign for Texas.

Your support provided funds for the purchase of significant items like the Carmen Lomas Garza Print Collection and the KUT Music Collection.  You helped us renovate and create new spaces for students like the Roberts Reading Room in the Fine Arts Library; the UFCU Student Learning Commons in Perry Castaneda Library and new presentation practice rooms in the Mallet Chemistry Library.

Your gifts created 11 new endowments that will transform the Libraries for decades to come.  Most notably are Blake Alexander Architectural Library Endowment, Holsey Literary Collection Endowment, and the Heath Libraries Tomorrow Fund.

We have made world-class acquisitions like the archive of Chicana author and cultural theorist Gloria Anzaldua; the papers of human rights activities Charles and Joyce Horman; the collection of architects, Herbert Miller Greene and Karl Kamrath; and the Romo Collection of Mexican American Art Prints.

Contributions have also created world-changing projects like the Human Rights Documentation Initiative and Primeros Libros.  With more than 3,300 gifts and nearly half of them from UT alumni, the Libraries have enhanced its collections, services, space and value to our university community.  Thank you!

Rallying the Next Generation of African Leaders

YALI participants on-site at PCL.

As the Business Librarian at UT Libraries I frequently work with entrepreneurs from the McCombs School of Business and sometimes from the Cockrell School of Engineering. For the first time this summer I had the honor of working with a group of young entrepreneurs from Africa.

The 25 attendees here at UT Austin were part of the 500 Mandela Washington Fellows for Young African Leaders Institute (YALI) selected from over 40,000 applications for this prestigious program. President Obama invited the group to the U.S. from Sub-Saharan Africa as part of his signature effort to invest in the next generation of global leaders. Twenty universities were selected to host the fellows. UT Austin chose the theme of Business & Entrepreneurship for its institute.

The UT Austin YALI Fellows are creating and/or growing businesses back home. Their interests are broad; women’s and children’s health initiatives, farming, training computer scientists, and translation services. One of the most inspirational companies is one that trains women incarcerated for prostitution to become fashion designers and tailors. The fashion company hires these women upon their release thereby improving the women’s situations and helping them stay out of prison.

Just like I would for students on our campus, I provided a business research workshop to the YALI group and coordinated with the UT Austin International Office to develop a course guide and a hands-on research workshop for these entrepreneurs. In the workshop we practiced search strategies and I introduced them to resources containing market research, economic, and demographic data.

At the end of their UT visit, the Fellows participated in a pitch competition in front of a three-judge panel of successful Austin entrepreneurs. I saw first-hand how they incorporated their research into their pitch for future funding. The judges asked tough questions about growth and sustainability. The Fellows handled the inquiry with aplomb and you could see the passion they all had for their projects.

To cap off the 6-week event all 500 Fellows attended a summit in Washington, D.C. where they met with Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama. At the summit President Obama announced the program was to be renamed the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders to honor Nelson Mandela. Not only is the program going to continue next year, but the President has also committed to double the number of participants to 1000 for the summer of 2016.

I hope that the University of Texas will be hosting again next year and that I have the opportunity and privilege to work with these global entrepreneurs as they go out and change the world!


A Poet in the Science Library

“Backmasking” by Harold Whit Williams.

One wouldn’t necessarily expect to find a poet in the stacks of a science library, but then again, creativity often occurs in the least anticipated of places.

The Life Science Library boasts among its staff a prize-winning poet, as Library Specialist Harold Whit Williams has garnered praise for his work, which is both a catalog of his experience as a musician, and reflective of his southern heritage. His most recent collection of poems, Backmasking, earned Williams the 2013 Robert Phillips Chapman Poetry Chapbook Prize from Texas Review Press, and his poem “Blues Dreams,” received the 2014 Mississippi Review Poetry Prize.

In some ways, it would seem to make perfect sense that Williams would understand the finer points of cadence and pentameter  — he’s also the guitarist for notable Austin pop band Cotton Mather.

Williams’ first collection of poetry, Waiting For The Fire To Go Out, was published by Finishing Line Press, and his work has appeared in numerous literary journals.

Whit kindly indulged a line of questioning about his poetry, his music and his life at the Libraries. 

When did you start writing poetry? Was it an outcropping of your music?

Harold Whit Williams: I’ve been writing poetry off and on since college days, but started giving serious attention to it, and publishing, now for about seven years.

Strange, but poetry is a totally separate thing to me from songwriting. As a guitarist first, my songs, or the guitar parts I play in Cotton Mather, happen musically first. Then lyrics come later. But with poetry, it’s all wordplay from the get-go, and the musicality in the words themselves tend to direct where I go in a poem.

Does the inspiration for poetry and music come from the same place, even though the jumping off point is different? Or are they driven by different urges? 

HWW: Good question. What makes me plug in an electric guitar and make loud horrendous noise has to come from a much different urge than the one making me get to a quiet place, alone, to jot down a poem. Continue reading

Collections Highlight: Companion to “The Flora of Forfarshire”

William Gardiner. “A selection of the native plants of Forfarshire; to accompany ‘The flora of Forfarshire’”. Paper. 45 cm X 29 cm. Life Science Library. University of Texas Libraries

William Gardiner (1808-1852) typifies the self-taught scientists who made substantial contributions to botany and natural history studies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Pursuing botany as an avocation while employed as an umbrella-maker, he later published Twenty Lessons on British Mosses (1846) and The Flora of Forfarshire (1848).

“A selection of the native plants of Forfarshire; to accompany ‘The flora of Forfarshire’”

The Flora was supported by subscribers and accompanied by a hand-written, bound volume of plant specimens, A selection of the native plants of Forfarshire; to accompany The Flora of Forfarshire.

This volume is part of the collections of the Life Science Library, the botany collections of which support and complement the research and collections of the Plant Resources Center.

Future Tense

PCL

As many know, Fred Heath announced his retirement from his position as Vice Provost and Director of the University of Texas Libraries last spring. After over 30 years of work in library administration and 10 years at UT Libraries, we will say goodbye to Dr. Heath on August 31.

Contemplating the future of libraries, specifically our UT Libraries, has been a big part of Dr. Heath’s job.

In honor of Fred’s retirement, the University Federal Credit Union is making a gift to establish the Fred and Jean Heath Libraries Tomorrow Fund.  This endowment will provide funds to address future unknown needs and enhancements of the University of Texas Libraries.

The Libraries Tomorrow Fund is also an alternative for donors who want to support the Libraries, but who are not ready to make an investment of $25,000 or more. This fund allows donors to establish an endowment over a timeframe that is convenient for them. This is a unique opportunity for a donor to have an immediate impact without fully funding an endowment until they are able to.

The best part is that the University Federal Credit Union has pledged to match gifts up to $25,000, which means that your gift today will be doubled and have an even greater impact.

Any gift contributed to the Libraries Tomorrow Fund will help the UT Libraries of the future today.

Give today and plan for tomorrow.

Interview: James Galloway on The Servant Girl Murders

Author James Galloway — also a library specialist at the Mallet Chemistry Library — was recently consulted by the PBS investigative television program “History Detectives: Special Investigations” in the production of an episode on a series of unsolved murders that occurred in Austin in the mid-nineteenth century. Galloway’s 2010 book, The Servant Girl Murders: Austin, Texas 1885, provided background for the program, having been drawn from his research utilizing the wealth of historical materials inhabiting special collections across the Austin area, including those at The University of Texas at Austin.

Galloway was took some time to talk with us about how the book came to be.

What got you interested in the murders? 

James R. Galloway: I took a history class — Methods in Historical Research — when I was finishing grad school here at The University of Texas in 1996 that focused on local history resources and collections. I was trying to come up with a topic for a research paper and I remembered this local legend about a serial killer from the nineteenth century in Austin.  I did some digging around and as far as I could tell no one else had done research on the topic. I thought it would make a good research paper and started looking into it.

What compelled you to write the book?

JRG: After I finished grad school, I was still interested in the story, I had barely scratched the surface of the primary sources I could find and I had no idea what had ultimately happened with the murders and I wanted to continue to investigate them in my spare time.

Where did you discover information about the events, and how long did you work to research the book?

JRG: The story of the murders was told in the newspapers from the time period; they were the primary source for the “story” and I ended up reading through a few years worth of microfilmed newspapers to find the beginning, where and when they started, and where the finally ended.  But there were a lot of loose ends, Continue reading

Paul Otlet and the pre-digital Internet

Paul Otlet’s sketch for the ‘worldwide network’ he envisioned
(Image: Mundaneum Archive, Belgium)

If you’re unfamiliar with  lawyer Paul Otlet and his monument to document science, the Mundaneum, Cataloging the World appears to be a worthy introductory volume to an oddly prescient episode in human history.

Otlet carried a grand vision of interconnecting the various knowledge gateways throughout the world in order to bring about a sort of collective enlightenment and benevolent world order… decades before Turing’s rudimentary machine even hinted at future computational possibilities.

Check out an excellent overview of Otlet’s work and Cataloging the World at the blog Brain Pickings.

 

Benson out and about

Culhuacán (MEXICATZINGO). Mexico. Jan. 17,1580. 70×54 cm.

The Benson Latin American Collection is sharing its unique holdings with our crosstown public partner through an exhibit featured at the Guadalupe branch of the Austin Public Library.

Mapping Mexican History: Territories in Dispute, Identities in Question features historic maps from the Benson’s rare books and manuscripts collections that represent a visual history of Mexico’s territory, culture and identity spanning the 16th through mid-19th centuries.

Included in the exhibit are examples of the exceptional Relaciones Geográficas, elaborate surveys from Latin America requisitioned by King Philip II of Spain in the 16th Century that provide detailed demographic, geographic and sociopolitical information on Spanish colonial life in regions and towns controlled by the crown, many featuring hand-drawn maps that range from simplistic to elaborate.

Mapping Mexican History is on view on the 2nd floor of the Faulk Central Library (800 Guadalupe) through October 15. Check the website for hours, or contact the Austin Public Library at 512-974-7400 for more information.

Semester Recap: The Unbridled Beauty of Watercolor Renderings

To kick off a series of blog posts recapping the Spring 2014 semester, we figured we’d start with one of the most visually captivating: watercolor renderings from our very own Alexander Architectural Archive.

Earlier in the semester, Judy Birdsong’s Visual Communications studio paid a visit to the Archive to check out some of our working drawings in order to see how they have changed over the years. This is a completely fascinating progression, and one of my personal favorite things to view when I visit the Archive for my own research needs. However, a few weeks later, students were assigned a project requiring watercolor — and the watercolor renderings the Archive has are an absolutely incredible resource!

I was lucky enough to be given a similar exposure to the Archive’s watercolors by Curatorial Assistant Nancy Sparrow, and I’m here to pass on the unbridled beauty. If any of you happen to have been looking to improve your architectural watercolor skills, the Archive is an unparalleled resource!

Throughout final reviews, a similar version of the same comment often comes to the surface: accurately conveying an architectural idea heavily depends on the way you draw or render your final presentation graphically. With so much focus on computer generated renderings in practice today, watercolors are almost slowly being vaulted into the ranks of a lost art. These stunning examples from the Archive showcase immaculate talent that displays a clear understanding of color, shadow, contrast, and fine detail by the artist.

We hope the following high-resolution images inspire you in some way, whether out of pure admiration, or to pursue a new (or revived!) technique in the renderings you produce yourself. Click on the below photographs to view in beautiful detail!

I was floored by this beautiful rendering of the Flawn Academic Center, located just across the mall from Battle Hall. Nancy and I could not stop admiring the glass…

You can continue reading the rest of this article by Architecture & Planning Library GRA Stephanie Phillips over at the Battle Hall Highlights blog.