Archive for July, 2015

Summer projects in the archives can be tedious, monotonous, and seemingly endless. Luckily (this time) I got something fun . . .

The expansive Mahoney Music Collection is slowly being cataloged by the University library, and much of what is yet uncataloged lives in file cabinets and is simply called “Mahoney pamphlets” — though most items are small or fragile books that aren’t safe on the shelf.

This summer, I have had the pleasure to spend quality time with these lonely books as I update their records on the Mahoney website. Until the remainder of the collection is cataloged, the website is the only source to see all 5000-plus items. It is very important, then, that our web records are accurate, especially for the books that aren’t yet in the library’s catalog system.

Also stored in the pamphlets are small articles in magazines like Harper’s Weekly, Life, Scribner’s, Smithsonian, and People; concert programs from around the world; oversized monographs of antique, rare instruments by Stradivari or Amati with enormous photographs; instrument dealer catalogs and ephemera from the last 200 years; sheet music and method books both old and new, sometimes accompanied by vinyl recordings; and beautifully illustrated children’s books.

The majority of books in the pamphlet collection are written in foreign languages, ranging from German and Italian to Japanese and Catalan. Translating information made my job slow sometimes but nonetheless fun (Google Translate is my new best friend). I certainly learned a lot more Italian, German, and French vocabulary, and just by reading titles and bits here and there I learned a lot of history, too.

In the end, I went through around 930 items over the course of 2 months. For a summer project, this certainly was the best.

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Every day is filled with magic, suspense, surprise and smiles this month as artwork from around the world is making its way to the University Libraries in preparation for the juried international altered book exhibition: Bound and Unbound III.

Bound and Unbound III will open on August 24th and run through January 4, 2016 in the exhibition cases on second floor.

Here is a little peek at a package fresh in from Romania.


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Have you seen the concrete USD letters? They can be found by going to lower Vermillion and turning east on Burbank Road. The letters are in the vicinity of the golf course.

USD_Letters 001

This project “ … was a successful effort by the Vermillion Association of Women’s Clubs (Civic Council) to construct large white USD letters on the hillside east of town, visible from the railroad and main highway. By means of a jubilee celebration during commencement week of 1921 and other activities, the women netted $1,200. On June 9, 1922, therefore, they proudly presented the completed letters to the school. That fall, a yearly tradition was born when the upperclassmen rounded up freshmen from the campus and marched them in the dark to the hill where they applied a fresh coat of paint, finishing about midnight.”

Quote from Cedric Cummins’ The University of South Dakota, 1862-1966. Vermillion, SD: Dakota Press, 1975. Pages 169-170.

USD Archives, in its Buildings, Other Structures, and Utilities collection, has an architectural drawing of the concrete letters.

Image by William Ranney.

For information on other hillside letters, see Evelyn Corning”s Hillside Letters A to Z: A Guide to Hometown Landmarks. Mountain Press Publishing Company. 2007



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