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“The Gift to Sing”: Bancroft exhibit offers tour of African American history and culture

Treasures from legendary professor Leon Litwack’s African American history and culture book collection are on display through February in the Bancroft Library Gallery. Browsing “The Gift to Sing” exhibit offers viewers a chance to revisit milestones in the long journey of African Americans in this country towards full equality, freedom, and cultural expression.

Photo by Alejandro Serrano for the University Library.

Slave narratives and autobiography, drawings and photography, collections of spirituals, newspapers, novels and poetry, historical and sociological works — all with rich significance outlined in curator David Faulds’ captions — are among the works included.

Litwack’s collection, most of which will come to the Bancroft as a bequest, originated in his teenage years in Santa Barbara in the 1940s, when the young Leon haunted a used bookstore called the Book Den. Langston Hughes volumes purchased then for a dollar or two are on display in the exhibit.

Over six decades of continued collecting later — informed by his celebrated scholarship in African American history and culture — Litwack’s library is considered one of the best in private hands.

On display in the Bancroft exhibit are Harlem Renaissance first editions in strikingly illustrated dust jackets; Bobby Seale’s copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which Litwack had the good fortune to pick up for $5 at Moe’s Bookstore near campus; a copy of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave inscribed by famous abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison; and Ida B. Wells’ rare and important pamphlet on lynching, The Red Record.

 

Photo by Alejandro Serrano for the University Library.

Exhibit visitors can also see the first book by an African American, Phyllis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, which was published in 1773. This edition is one of the treasures from the Bancroft’s current collection which are also exhibited in “The Gift to Sing.”

The exhibit is organized in seven sections including the arts; California, society; literature and history, modern and early 20th century; slave narratives; and racial uplift (1890-1910).

The oldest book in the exhibition dates from 1744 and reports on the execution of thirty blacks and four whites for their role in the Conspiracy of 1741, a supposed insurrection by slaves and poor whites. Like the Salem witch trials, this event is now seen by some scholars as a case of mass hysteria, in which a number of acts of arson were attributed to a criminal conspiracy.

A 1919 history of African Americans in California took shape through research at the Bancroft itself. Author Delilah Beasley spent many years in Bancroft poring over California and black newspapers and archives to research her book.

Less well-known materials are displayed alongside famous items such as the most popular novel of the 19th century — Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the 1852 anti-slavery classic by Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Toni Morrison’s 1987 novel Beloved.

The range and depth of the collection reflects Litwack’s lifelong quest to uncover and to teach the history of race relations in America and the experiences of people long absent from the historical narrative. He has authored four major books and countless articles, and has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

Prof. Leon Litwack discusses his writing experiences Tuesday, March 12, 2002, as part of the Berkeley Writers at Work lecture series. (Photo by Noah Berger).

Litwack retired from Berkeley in 2007 after forty-three years. His final lecture on America’s racial divide was entitled “Fight the Power.”

Litwack has long been a passionate advocate for the importance of the Library, an advocacy which dates back to his undergraduate years at Berkeley, starting in 1948. “What I coveted more than anything else was a job in the UC Library,” he said. “And I was fortunate enough to get one . . . That was just fabulous.”

“The Gift to Sing: Highlights of the Leon F. Litwack and Bancroft Library African American Collections” is on display in the Bancroft Library Gallery through February 17, 2017, from 10 am to 4 pm.

War Ink project, program coming to Doe Library

War Ink image of veteran with tattoos

Photographs from the War Ink project can be viewed in the Doe Library during the month of November. (Photo courtesy War Ink)

Photographs from the celebrated War Ink Project will be on display in Berkeley’s Doe Library in November. The exhibit features striking images of tattoos that express the impact of combat experiences on California veterans. 

Jason Deitch, co-creator of War Ink and a Cal veteran, hopes the display will “bridge the divide between the veterans and civilian communities.” The project is “both exhibit and forum, using tattoos as a springboard for California veterans to share their stories,” Deitch explains.

In anticipation of Veterans Day and to mark the exhibit opening, please join Deitch, Trésor Bunker, current vice president of the Cal Veterans Group, and members of the Cal Veteran community in a panel discussion focused on improving communication among veterans and civilians.

The discussion, titled Moving Beyond “Thanks” to Understanding Experience: Seeing Our Cal Veterans Through Profiles of Military and Lifelong Service and Transition Success, will take place on Friday, November 4 in the Morrison Library.

The program will incorporate personal experiences and methods for moving beyond stereotypical views of veterans and the often reflexive phrase “Thank you for your service” toward more meaningful communication as a key for improving reintegration after military service. There will be time to view the exhibit and to learn about the veterans pictured and the significance of the ink they wear.

When: Friday, November 4, 2016 5-7pm

Where: Morrison Library

Admission: Free and open to the public

The Library attempts to offer programs in accessible, barrier-free settings. If you think you may require disability-related accommodations, please contact the event sponsor prior to the event. The event sponsor is Ashley Bacchi, 510-664-7737.

Global comics exhibit draws on librarian’s diverse background

Story by Damaris Moore, Library Communications
Video by Campus News Services; see story by Public Affairs

In 1991, Liladhar Pendse was working in food services at UCLA Catering after a move from the Soviet Union in search of a fresh start. A polyglot fluent in seven languages and familiar with an additional 13, Pendse frequently visited the library to borrow books from Russia and India. There, he encountered a librarian who ended up changing the course of his life.

Eudora Loh encouraged Pendse to attend classes and to consider librarianship as a career. “I was intimidated by librarians and computers,” Pendse recounts, “but she was so kind, showing me how to locate a book and walking me to the stacks. We started talking, became friends, and in time she encouraged me to attend classes at a local community college.”

Twenty five years and four degrees later, Pendse combines his passion for diversity, his love of language and his quest to share knowledge and information as a scholar librarian at UC Berkeley. This month, Pendse’s rich understanding of global materials is on display in an exhibit of comics and graphic novels from a dizzying array of cultures, including Egypt, Poland, South Africa, Israel, the Czech Republic, Colombia, and Japan.

“Beyond Tintin and Superman: The Diversity of Global Comics” can be viewed in Doe Library’s Bernice Layne Brown Gallery through March 2017. Pendse hopes that the exhibit will inspire viewers to reflect on issues treated in the materials — around censorship, race relations, political agendas and gender biases.

“The world has always been a violent place,” says Pendse. “And so my question as a professional is how can I contribute to peace? Through building our uniquely rich collections, and making information available, I believe I am contributing to increased understanding in the world and in cultures at large.”

Liladhar Pendse curated the Doe Library exhibit “Beyond Tintin and Superman: The Diversity of Global Comics.” (Photo by Alejandro Serrano for the University Library)

UC Berkeley Librarian Liladhar Pendse curated the “Beyond Tintin and Superman: The Diversity of Global Comics” exhibit, which can be viewed in the Doe Library through March 2017. Pendse collaborated with a number of skilled Library colleagues on the exhibit.  (Photo by Alejandro Serrano for the University Library)

From India to Belarus and the U.S.

Pendse grew up primarily in Mumbai, but spent parts of his youth in several regions of the then-Soviet Union due to the tumultuous political climate of the time. Although he had earned an M.D. in Internal Medicine in Belarus, Pendse realized he had to start over when he moved to the United States. He worked a variety of jobs while living in Los Angeles, and eventually found that education was his path to success.

He earned his BA in History and Arabic/Islamic Studies with honors from UCLA in 2004. After working in the UCLA library, he earned his MLIS and an MA in Latin American Studies. Following positions at UCLA’s Library and at Princeton, he came to Berkeley’s University Library in 2012. In 2013, he defended his Ph.D. at UCLA.

Growing up in three very different cultures inspired Pendse to focus his work on inclusion and acceptance of different types of people. He hopes that the materials in the “Beyond Tintin and Superman: The Diversity of Global Comics” exhibit help break down cultural barriers by offering authentic, personal accounts of social and political issues around the world.

The comics on display were curated by Pendse and include comics from his own personal collection. There is a copy of the DC Comics 1987 classic, Watchmen, as well as graphic novels and comics covering atomic bomb survivors, young Yemeni women forced into marriage, a collection created in response to the January 2015 terrorist attack on the French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo, love in a Japanese boys’ boarding school, and a translation of a two-volume work of a French professor of Middle Eastern studies/historian and an award-winning artist that tells the complicated stories of the United States involvement in the Middle East.

Librarian Liladhar Pendse enjoys the energy and diversity of Berkeley's Sproul Plaza. (Photo by Alejandro Serrano for the University Library)

Librarian Liladhar Pendse appreciates the energy and diversity of Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza. (Photo by Alejandro Serrano for the University Library)

“One person, one tongue”

At UC Berkeley, Pendse’s title is as long as an arm — Librarian for East European, Armenian, Caucasus, Central Asian, Balkan, Baltic, and Mongolian Studies, and Acting Librarian for African Studies.

His knowledge of many different languages has empowered him to work effectively across a diverse group of faculty, students and visiting scholars. Along with fluency in Marathi and Hindi/Urdu, Russian, Gujarati, Portuguese, Spanish, and English, he is at an intermediate level in Azerbaijani, Sanskrit, Arabic, and Turkish; and basic in Armenian, Romanian, French, Italian, Swahili, Polish, Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, Slovak, and Turkmen.

Previous exhibits Pendse has helped curate include displays of posters and printed works from Cuba and Soviet Union during the Cold war, and on the 1867 purchase of Alaska, highlighting the Library’s Russian-American collections. He is involved in planning several future exhibits, one on popular literature in Brazil, and another on Bollywood and Africa.

Asked about his extraordinary gift for languages, Pendse ties it to an abiding interest in understanding between cultures. A few years ago, an elderly woman in Istanbul repeated a saying to him: “one person one tongue (Bir lisan bir insan).” Pendse comments that “the more languages, the better you can reach out to other people.”

Pendse’s varied life path has fostered in him a deep personal appreciation of diversity. “The world of Berkeley is very meaningful to me,” he notes, especially “the spirit of flexibility and seeing things from others’ perspectives. Maybe you don’t agree, but you listen and you learn. Passing through Sproul Plaza on my way home from work, I feel invigorated and enriched by all the different people and activities. The vibrancy and the diversity of our community always inspires me!”

Exhibit opening reception
Date: Friday, October 14
Time: 5-7pm
Place: Morrison Library

Brown Gallery Viewing 5-5:30pm
Welcome & Introduction at 5:30pm with Liladhar Pendse, Exhibit Curator
with special guest speakers Ron Turner & Ivy Mills, Ph.D.
Enjoy the Exhibit 6:30-7pm

Ron Turner is the founder of the Last Gasp, a book and underground comics publisher and distributor based in San Francisco.
UC Berkeley Lecturer Ivy Mills, Ph.D. specializes in the visual and literary cultures of Africa and the African diaspora.

The Library attempts to offer programs in accessible, barrier-free settings. If you think you may require disability-related accommodations, please contact the event sponsor prior to the event. The event sponsor is Ashley Bacchi, 510-664-7737.

UC Berkeley Commemorates the 80th Anniversary of the Spanish Civil War

D.W. Parker, John Robinson, and Langston Hughes (Aragon), September 1967. Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade photograph collection. The Bancroft Library, BANC PIC 1988.047, folder 39

BANC PIC 1988.047, folder 39

The Spanish Civil War began 80 years ago this past July. UC Berkeley marks the important anniversary with a series of cultural events, including poetry readings, films, exhibits, performances, book talks, and public discussions. Visit www.spanishcivilwar80.berkeley.edu to learn about all upcoming events as well as the two library installations in The Bancroft Library and the Townsend Center.

The Gift to Sing: Exhibit in The Bancroft Library Gallery

The Gift to Sing: Highlights of the Leon F. Litwack & Bancroft Library African American Collections

When: September 23, 2016 – February 17, 2017
Where: The Bancroft Library Gallery, 10am-4pm, Monday-Friday (excluding holidays)

The Gift to Sing - Exhibit in The Bancroft Library Gallery

Home to Harlem. By Claude McKay, 1965. From the collection of Leon F. Litwack. Digitally altered from the original for the exhibition texts.

For decades professor emeritus of history Leon F. Litwack has been accumulating what is arguably the world’s finest private collection of books on African American history and culture. This exhibition displays highlights of the collection that will be coming to The Bancroft Library as a bequest. The Litwack collection is particularly noteworthy for its Harlem Renaissance first editions in strikingly illustrated dust jackets. The exhibition includes books with distinguished provenance such as a copy of Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave with an inscription by the famous abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Complementing the Litwack books are treasures from Bancroft’s significant African American holdings, including the first book by an African American, Phyllis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, published in 1773.

Post submitted by:
David Faulds, Curator of Rare Books and Literary Manuscripts, The Bancroft Library

Trio of fall exhibits offer diverse pleasures

Fall 2016 Exhibits at the UC Berkeley Library

Three fall exhibits at the Library—on global comics, the Spanish Civil War, and African-American history and culture—testify to the extraordinary richness of our collections. We invite you to come tour the exhibits at your leisure.

“Beyond Tintin and Superman: The Diversity of Global Comics” showcases comics and graphic novels from a dizzying array of countries, including Egypt, Poland, South Africa, Israel, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Colombia, and Japan. While treating societal issues generated by censorship, race relations, political agendas and gender biases, the comics also provide great enjoyment through their striking imagery and cultural diversity.  See a video about the exhibit. (Doe Library – Bernice Layne Brown Gallery; opens Sept 19).
Exhibit opening reception:
Date: Friday, October 14
Time: 5-7pm
Place: Morrison Library

Brown Gallery Viewing 5-5:30pm
Welcome & Introduction at 5:30pm with Liladhar Pendse, Exhibit Curator
with special guest speakers Ron Turner & Ivy Mills, Ph.D.
Enjoy the Exhibit 6:30-7pm

Ron Turner is the founder of the Last Gasp, a book and underground comics publisher and distributor based in San Francisco.
UC Berkeley Lecturer Ivy Mills, Ph.D. specializes in the visual and literary cultures of Africa and the African diaspora.

The Library attempts to offer programs in accessible, barrier-free settings. If you think you may require disability-related accommodations, please contact the event sponsor prior to the event. The event sponsor is Ashley Bacchi.

“The Gift to Sing: Highlights of the Leon F. Litwack and the Bancroft Library African American Collections” includes treasures such as Harlem Renaissance first editions with strikingly illustrated dust jackets, and a 1845 copy of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave with an inscription by the famous abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. One of UC Berkeley’s iconic professors and a noted scholar, Leon Litwack retired from a storied career in 2007. His collection—arguably the world’s finest private collection of books on African American history and culture—will be coming to the Bancroft as a bequest. (The Bancroft Library Gallery, opens Sept. 23)

Guerra Civil at 80” marks the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). A visual and textual display of the struggle to defend the Second Spanish Republic, the exhibition documents the role of the Republicans and the Nationalists; the impact on civilians and on American volunteers; and the intense creative response from within and outside Spain. (Bancroft Library, 2nd floor corridor, between Bancroft and Doe, through June 2017)

A companion exhibit, “Incite the Spirit: Poster Art of the Spanish Civil War” will be on exhibit through December 16 at the Townsend Center for the Humanities, 220 Stephens Hall. Please visit spanishcivilwar80.berkeley.edu to learn more about the UC Berkeley events commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Spanish Civil War.

Post submitted by:
Damaris Moore, Library Communications Office

Russian America or Russkaia America

Russian America or Russkaia America
An exhibition that is dedicated to the 150th Anniversary of purchase of Alaska by the United States.

Russian America exhibit in Moffitt Library through December 2016

Where: Moffitt Library Gallery
When: September 2016 through December 2016

The discovery of Alaska by Vitus Bering in 1741 marked a new era in the expansion of Russian Empire eastwards. The “Russian America” was born in 1784, when on Kodiak Island, Grigory Shelikhov, a Russian fur trader, founded the Three Saints Bay, the first permanent Russian settlement in Alaska. In 1808, under the charter from the Czar, the Russian-American company established a permanent settlement near today’s Sitka that was called “Novo-Arkhangel’sk”.  The Company, chartered in 1799, managed Russian America for the Imperial Government from that time until 1867 when the United States purchased what is now known as Alaska. The Company also established posts or conducted business in other Pacific Rim areas such as Siberia, Hawaii, and California; and attempted, unsuccessfully, to initiate trade with Japan.

The Sitka settlement was followed soon after by the foundation of the first Russian settlement in California in 1812, when the Fort Ross was founded as the southern-most outpost of the Russian-American company.  The term “Russkaia Kaliforniia or Russian California” is used to indicate Russian presence in California until the sale of the Fort Ross holdings in 1841 to Captain Sutter. Russian America continued to exist until the sale of the Alaska to the United States in 1867.

The exhibition highlights early Russian efforts to colonize North America using the trade and Russian Orthodoxy along with the Imperial expansion into California and finally ends with the purchase of Alaska by the United States. Several rare books on Aleuts, Russian trade in the region, Russian California along with the facsimile of the first Russian language newspaper in California-the Alaska Herald are exhibited.

Post submitted by:
Liladhar R. Pendse, PhD
Librarian for East European, Armenian, Caucasus, Central Asian, Balkan, Baltic,and Mongolian Studies

Oakland Asian Branch Library exhibit at the Ethnic Studies Library

Oakland Asian Branch Library image exhibit at Ethnic Studies Library, UC Berkeley

The first of its kind in the United States, the Asian Branch Library was founded in 1975 to serve the Asian community in Oakland. Today, this branch in Oakland Chinatown is one of the busiest in the Oakland Public Library system. It houses materials in 8 different languages including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Khmer, Lao, Tagalog, and Thai. The Oakland Chinatown Oral History Project documents this living history through interviews of long-time branch advocates, librarians, and patrons spanning four decades. The exhibit was curated by Lora Chan & Roy Chan of the Oakland Chinatown Oral History Project.

The exhibit will be on display through October 2016
Ethnic Studies Library
30 Stephens Hall
University of California, Berkeley

See a short documentary on the history of the Oakland Asian Branch Library.

Guerra Civil @ 80

September 1, 2016 – July 1, 2017
2nd floor corridor between The Bancroft Library and Doe Library

Image citation: Josep Renau. Hoy más que nunca / Victoria, 1938. [Victory: Now more than ever.] Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Bay Area Post Records. The Bancroft Library, BANC MSS 71/105z, folder 40

Image citation: Josep Renau. Hoy más que nunca / Victoria, 1938. [Victory: Now more than ever.] Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Bay Area Post Records. The Bancroft Library, BANC MSS 71/105z, folder 40

Marking the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, the exhibition Guerra Civil @ 80 features selections from The Bancroft Library’s Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Bay Area Post records and photographic collections, along with posters, books, pamphlets, and other ephemera. A visual and textual display of the struggle to defend the Second Spanish Republic, the exhibition documents the role of both the Republicans, who were defending the democratically elected government, and the Nationalists, the right-wing rebel forces led by General Francisco Franco. The exhibition also addresses how the war, which unfolded from 1936 to 1939, affected the lives of the people of Spain and American volunteers fighting on the front lines or assisting in the war effort, as well as how the conflict precipitated an intense creative response from within and outside Spain.

INCITE THE SPIRIT: POSTER ART OF THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR will be on exhibit from September 6 – December 16, 2016 at the Townsend Center for the Humanities, 220 Stephens Hall

Please visit http://spanishcivilwar80.berkeley.edu to learn more about the UC Berkeley events commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Spanish Civil War.

Post submitted by Theresa Salazar, Curator for Western Americana, The Bancroft Library and Claude Potts, Librarian for Romance Languages, The University Library

10 days left for No Legacy || Literatura Electrónica exhibition!

No Legacy || Literatura Electrónica

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the No Legacy || Literatura Electrónica exhibition in Doe Library’s Brown Gallery, better hurry. It comes down on Monday, September 5.

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