New exhibit: What’s so funny in Special Collections? Humor comes in many forms!

Dr. Seuss once said “From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere” and this includes Special Collections.

Humor can take many different styles and be included in a wide range of media from comic strips to film. This exhibit features representations of humor including political cartoons, comics, animation and film. From 18th century political cartoons to Shrek, the materials displayed are sure to make you smile!

The exhibit will be on display from October 21, 1919 through February 15, 2020.


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Special Collections Talk: “Singing the Body Electric: Opera, Democracy, and Voice in the Poetry of Walt Whitman” on October 3, 2019, 12:00pm-1:00pm

The University Libraries’ Special Collections will host a talk by Dr. Robert P. Wilson, adjunct lecturer of English, on “Singing the Body Electric: Opera, Democracy, and Voice in the Poetry of Walt Whitman.” at noon Thursday, October 3, LN-2320, Bernard F. Huppé Reading Room. In his later years, Walt Whitman suggested that a “philosopher musician” reading Leaves of Grass could not help but hear the echoes of the poet’s many enraptured encounters with music, especially opera. “Singing the Body Electric” amplifies this influence by identifying Whitman’s notion of “vocalism” — the divine power of a body to sound its speech, its song, and its “barbaric yawp” — as the essence of poetic, musical, and democratic performance.

Illustration by Margaret C. Cook. In “Poems from Leaves of Grass.” London: J.M. Dent & New York: E.P. Dutton, 1913

A brief tour of the exhibit “Leaves of Grass: Walt Whitman’s Masterwork” and a viewing of the first edition will follow the talk.  All are welcome.

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Leaves of Grass: Walt Whitman’s Masterwork on Exhibit Beginning May 31st

Libraries and poetry lovers around the world are commemorating the 200th birthday of the great American poet, Walt Whitman, born on May 31, 1819, in West Hills, NY on Long Island. Writing and revising his collection of poems, Leaves of Grass, which was first published in 1855 and is composed in free verse around themes of identity, love, sexuality, democracy, loss, and death, was his lifelong work. This fluid compilation was extensively edited, expanded, and perfected. Following the final “Deathbed Edition,” his work continued to appear in numerous annotated editions and has been the subject of much critical analysis.  Versions have been reproduced as facsimiles and published in illustrated volumes with photographs, paintings, and drawings. It has also inspired new works by musicians, book artists, and typographers. Selections are included in many anthologies and even in children’s books. Whitman and his ever-evolving Leaves of Grass generated praise, critique, and discussion from the moment it made its first appearance to the present day.

In the upcoming months, Special Collections will display some of its holdings related to Leaves of Grass.  Like the work itself, the exhibit will change during the course of its installation — volumes will be added and removed, pages will be turned and unfolded, and our original first edition will be on display on selected days. Follow us on Twitter @bingspeccoll to find out when.

May 31 through October 15, 2019

Monday-Friday 10:00-4:00

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The Woman Who Dared to Vote: In Honor of Susan B. Anthony’s Birthday, February 15

On November 1, 1872, in an act of defiance against the election laws prohibiting women from voting, Susan B. Anthony, along with fifteen women from Rochester, New York’s eighth ward, registered to vote at the upcoming election.

Entries in the 1872 diary from the Maurice Leyden Collection provide insight into the events surrounding these actions. Maurice Leyden and his wife, Margaret, were friends of Susan B. Anthony and active supporters of the suffrage movement.  In his November 1st entry Leyden writes, the “ladies went & were registered to day to & intend to vote if they can on Tuesday. – they are the first ladies that were ever registered in Rochester.” Margaret Leyden was among this group of women.

On November 5, 1872, the day of the election,  Susan B. Anthony and the women descended upon the local polling place and voted (illegally).  Several days later a poll watcher lodged a complaint against the women and they were arrested.

June entries from Leyden’s 1873 diary discuss the women’s arrest and the subsequent trial of Susan B. Anthony, who was found guilty of illegally voting and fined $100, which she never paid. The remaining women were also charged with illegally voting, but were never prosecuted.

While these women had not been the first women to vote in an election, Susan B. Anthony was the first to be tried in court for the crime of illegally voting.  The attention received by the trial created an uproar among the suffragists, re-energizing the movement.

June 1873 diary entries from the Maurice Leyden Collection













To learn more about the Maurice Leyden Collection, visit Special Collections to examine the diaries, or go to the online finding aid Maurice Leyden Collection

Special Collections is located on the second floor of the Glenn G. Bartle Library (off of the North Reading Room). Our hours are Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.




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Happy Birthday Mack Sennett!

Mack Sennett, c.1920.

Mack Sennett (January 17, 1880 – November 5, 1960) was a Canadian-born American director and actor and was known as the innovator of slapstick comedy in film and often coined the “King of Comedy.” His anarchic world of cross-eyed rubes, bearded villains, fetching bathing beauties, and custard pie throwing was an unexpected creation of a man who grew up wanting to be an opera star. Sennett’s brand of crude slapstick humor proved to be highly popular with audiences and helped him become one of the most powerful men of early Hollywood.

Sennett founded Keystone Studios in 1912 and comedies were cranked out at production-line speed, with several produced in one day from an outline prepared under Sennett’s supervision. He instituted a strict formula for his movies despite the appearance of a frenzied freedom onscreen, forgoing characterization in favor of stereotypes for audiences to make an immediate identification and issued strict rules governing the type of gags that could be used, with manic car chases and pie tossing becoming comic staples. Many important actors cemented their film careers with Sennett, including Marie DresslerMabel NormandCharles Chaplin, Roscoe ArbuckleHarold LloydRaymond GriffithGloria SwansonFord SterlingAndy ClydeChester ConklinPolly MoranBing Crosby and W. C. Fields.

In 1917 Sennett gave up the Keystone trademark and organized his own company, Mack Sennett Comedies Corporation. Sennett went on to produce more ambitious comedy short films and a few feature-length films. During the 1920s his short subjects were in much demand, with stars like Billy Bevan, Ben Turpin, Mabel Normand, Charlie Murray, and Harry Langdon. 

In the mid-1920s, Sennett chose to begin distributing his pictures through Pathé, which seemed like a shrewd move given the large amount of theaters they distributed to. But when Paramount and MGM began carving away at their market share, Pathé lost a large number of exhibitors and led to hard times for Sennett.

By the end of the 1920s, he adapted to accommodate the advent of sound pictures making a rather effortless transition and even making occasional forays into experimenting with color. But despite his embrace of new technology, Sennett stubbornly clung to outmoded storytelling techniques. Meanwhile, he partnered with Paramount Pictures, only to find the relationship last for a year. Unable to pull himself up during the Great Depression, he directed Buster Keaton in one of his last films, “The Timid Young Man” (1935), before lapsing into semi-retirement. He received an honorary Oscar in 1938. His Keystone Kops re-emerged in “Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops” (1955), only to once again slip into obscurity. Five years later, Sennett died in 1960 in Woodland Hills, CA at 80 years old.

Scene from “Look Pleasant” (which would be retitled “Smile Please”) starring Alberta Vaughn, Harry Langdon, and Jack Cooper, 1924.

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Remembering the Ludlow Massacre of 1914 for National Miners’ Day, December 6th

Blood Passion: The Ludlow Massacre and Class War in the American West by Scott Martelle (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. 2007)  recounts the events that led to the Ludlow Massacre, the culminating battle of the 1913–1914 Colorado coal miners’ strike. For several months preceding the massacre, union organizers from the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) traveled throughout southern Colorado to organize a strike by the mine workers of the Rockefeller family’s Colorado Fuel & Iron Company (CF&I) to protest better working and living conditions.  In September 1913 the coal miners agreed to strike after CF&I refused to meet with the UMWA to discuss their grievances. Shortly thereafter, the coal miners and their families were evicted from their company housing and a tent colony, consisting of 1,100 miners and their families, was established by the UMWA on vacant land near the mines in the Town of Ludlow.  

By the spring of 1914, strike-related tensions between the miners and CF&I escalated to the point that the National Guard was called in to contain the situation.  On April 20, 1914 a full-scale battle erupted between the strikers and the National Guard at the Ludlow tent city killing several people, including women and children, during the course of the battle.  

For his book, Scott Martelle, researched the Lamont Montgomery Bowers Papers, held in the University Libraries’ Special Collections.  Bowers, a native of Binghamton, N.Y.,  managed CF&I.  After the massacre, an investigation ensued into the coal strike and CF&I’s role.  Of all of those involved, from the National Guard to the owners and company  management, Lamont Montgomery Bowers was the only one to be held accountable for the violence.  As a result, Bowers was quietly removed from the company and returned to Binghamton, never coming to terms with being Rockefeller’s scapegoat.

This book is available to read in Binghamton University Libraries’ Special Collections.  To learn more about Bowers’ connection to the Ludlow Massacre and the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company, visit Special Collections to examine the Lamont Montgomery Bowers Papers, or go to the finding aid online at

Special Collections is located on the second floor of the Glenn G. Bartle Library (off of the North Reading Room). Our hours are Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


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Veterans Day is November 11th

Glenn G. Bartle in Navy Uniform

Photograph of Glenn G. Bartle in Naval Uniform, circa 1945
Glenn G. Bartle Papers

Glenn G. Bartle, first president of Harpur College, was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and served from 1942-45. He was appointed Commanding Officer of a V-12 Naval Unit at Swarthmore College. In addition to American troops, he also trained 49 Chinese naval officers. Bartle formed close ties with some of the Chinese officers, visiting several while on a trip to Asia after he retired. Bartle was awarded the Order of the Yun Hui (Cloud Banner). A medal and framed certificate were issued by Chiang Kai-shek on July 27, 1946. The photograph, medal and certificate are on view until February 1, 2019 in the exhibit Glenn G. Bartle: His Life and Legacy in Special Collections.

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Glenn G. Bartle exhibit now on view in Special Collections

Glenn G. Bartle, for whom the library building at Binghamton University was renamed 40 years ago, was a geologist, professor and college administrator. In the 1950s, he became president of Harpur College, which then became SUNY at Binghamton in 1965.
Bartle was instrumental in the development of what has become a preeminent public university. An exhibit on view until February 15, 2019 in Special Collections examines his early training and career as a geologist, his expanding roles in higher education, and the transformative years during which he led the campus and academic programs at the university into new realms. An auxiliary exhibit outside of Special Collections surveys the development of what is now the Glenn G. Bartle Library.

Special Collections is located on the second floor of the Glenn G. Bartle Library (off of the North Reading Room). Our hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

The exhibit was curated by Joe Schill, Special Collections graduate intern, and Yvonne Deligato, University Archivist. The poster was designed by Ben Coury, University Libraries’ Digital Web Designer.

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October greetings from Special Collections!

New York Bat and Hoary Bat from American Natural History, V. 1, by John D. Godman, Philadelphia: Stoddart and Atherton, 1831.

“The singular structure and habits of the Bat have long since afforded the poets an emblem of darkness and terror, and induced them to consecrate this creature to Proserpine, their queen of Hades. … it is by no means allowable for students of natural history to forget that all beings must live in conformity to the laws of their organization, that the perfection of every species is relative to the situtation in which it exists, and that our notions of beauty and deformity are neither true tests of the excellence nor importance of any inferior animal” – John D. Godman in American Natural History, Volume 1 (1831).

Born in Annapolis, Maryland, John Davidson Godman (1794-1830) was a physician and naturalist.  A member of the Philadelphia Academy naturalists and a teacher of medical students, he endeavored to write his own survey of mammals, American Natural History, which he wrote between 1823 and 1828.

Portrait of John D. Godman drawn by C.G. Childs.


In From A Memoir of . . . Dr. John D. Godman (Philadelphia, 1859), Thomas Sewell, M.D., wrote: “He came to the study of natural history as an investigator of facts, and not as a pupil of the schools; his great aim being to learn the instincts, the structure, and the habits of all animated beings. This science was a favourite pursuit, and he devoted himself to it with indefatigable zeal. He has been heard to say that, in investigating the habits of the shrew mole, he walked many hundred miles. His powers of observation were quick, patient, keen, and discriminating: it was these qualities that made him so admirable a naturalist.”

In the last year of his life, as he was dying from tuberculosis, he wrote a number of nature essays for Friend, a Philadelphia weekly, which were collected into a posthumous book entitled Rambles of a Naturalist (1833). He died in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1830.

Binghamton University Libraries Special Collections owns volume 1 (incomplete) of the 3 volume set of American Natural History. To explore Godman’s text, visit Special Collections located on the second floor of the Glenn G. Bartle Library (off of the North Reading Room). Our hours are Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

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Here, There, and Everywhere: Traveling Through Special Collections

Summer in New York State, 1948, published by the New York State Department of Commerce. Local History Collection.

This past summer, Special Collections was delighted to have Sarah Alender as an intern, who is working toward her MLS at the University of Wisconsin-Milwalkee School of Information Studies.

While here, Sarah was given the opportunity to create an exhibition. Working with Head of Special Collections, Blythe Roveland-Brenton, and Special Collections Librarian, Jean Green, she created “Here, There and Everywhere: Traveling Through Special Collections.” The exhibit features materials from a wide variety of collections including the Local History Collection, the Tilly Losch Collection, the National/International Postcard Collection and the Haggerty Collection. The materials displayed provide the opportunity to travel the world during different eras without ever leaving Special Collections!

With these materials, you are taken on a voyage, first traveling within the local area and New York State region, on to the rest of the U.S.,  and then traveling throughout the world.  From Binghamton, New York to Leningrad in the former Soviet Union, and from the 18th century until the turn of the new millennium, it is truly a grand tour.

Die Schweiz: kleiner Reiseführer / herausgegeben von der Schweizerischen Verkehrszentrale Zürich
und Lausanne, 1929.
Max Reinhardt Collection. DQ16 .S35 1929

Please stop into Special Collections to see “Here, There and Everywhere: Traveling Through Special Collections.” You will be surprised where Special Collections materials can take you!

Our hours are Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. We are located on the second floor of the Glenn Bartle Library off of the North Reading Room.

The exhibition will be on view through October 12, 2018.

Postcard of the Grand Cascade at Peterhof (Petrodvorets), Leningrad, U.S.S.R., 1966. From the International Postcard Collection.

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