You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2011.

Many of our researchers have successfully accessed the online New Haven Railroad Valuation Maps, from the UConn Libraries’ Digital Mosaic site at http:/  Although we have heard from many how useful it is to have the maps accessible to off-site researchers, we’ve also heard that the vagaries of ContentDM, the database system where the maps sit, don’t help them follow the railroad line from point to point.  The maps, which are each one mile footprints of the railroad tracks as they follow the complicated New Haven Railroad system as it was in 1915, have always been rather isolated from, and unlinked to, each other.

New Haven Railroad Valuation Map of Hartford, Connecticut, now accessible from a map index at

Happily, that glitch is now overcome, thanks to the the magnificent efforts of the Map and Geographic Information Center, better known as MAGIC, an important special library within the UConn Libraries system.  MAGIC, headed by Geographic Information Systems Librarian Michael Howser, has created a map index that now allows researchers to follow the railroad lines on a map and click at any point to bring up the 1915 valuation map. 

You will find the index at

Isn’t this great?! One could even say that this is truly, well, magical.  Tools like this make viewing the maps so much easier.  You will see, though, that as of this moment you can search only the Connecticut railroad valuation maps.  MAGIC has plans to, in time, complete the index, to encompass all of the maps that are currently in the Digital Mosaic, which include Massachusetts, Rhode Island and eastern New York.  Something else I want to point out is that the index makes it obvious that there are gaps in the system, that there are sections where, although the railroad ran between some points, there are no maps that covered these areas.  The fault of this lies in the fact that our original set of valuation maps was never absolutely complete, and that is reflected in the online maps.

I want to extend my most sincere thanks to Michael Howser and his staff, particularly Geography PhD student Jie Lin, who made this index a reality.   You’ve made a lot of railroad researchers VERY happy!

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections


Women first served on the Board of Trustees in 1920, when Annie Vinton of Mansfield and Mrs. O. B. Robinson were named to the board. Robinson served two years, but Vinton, for whom one of Mansfield’s elementary schools is named, served a decade. A member of the Mansfield Board of Education, Vinton later served three terms as a member of the State House of Representatives, where she worked on issues relating to education and children.

-Mark J. Roy, University Communications (retired)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One of the loveliest spots in Connecticut also happens to be a regional campus of the University of Connecticut.  In addition to serving as the home of UConn’s Connecticut Sea Grant College Program, Project Oceanology, National Undersea Research Center and Long Island Sound Resource Center, the Avery Point campus is situated on the site of what was the estate of Morton F. Plant, a wealthy businessman.   Built in 1903, Branford House and its grounds were lovingly documented in several hundred hand-colored photographs, some of which are shown above.  The photographs, colored by Blanche M. Osborne, were taken in 1917.  These, and earlier black and white photographs of the construction of the house, are available for viewing on the Connecticut History Online website.  Additional information about Mr. Plant and his estate can be found on the Avery Point campus website.

-Betsy Pittman, University Archivist

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Artists’ books have been around for a long time. Beautiful objects of art where all aspects of book making are explored and cherished: the inks, the fonts, the papers, the wrappings, the construction materials, the techniques (collages, 3-D, woodblock printing), etc. A tradition started in Europe at the end of the 18th century, today this is a worldwide phenomenon and indigenous peoples from all around the world are using their traditional practices to create artists’ books that blend the traditional with the modern, and the uniquely indigenous with other country’s traditions in bookmaking, printmaking and papermaking.

The Thomas J. Dodd Research Center’s Archives and Special Collection have an extensive collection of Artists’ Books from around the world but it wasn’t until recently that we started acquiring books created by indigenous people either in their own workshops or in collaboration with non-indigenous artists. Featured in this Item of the Month is the works of Taller Leñateros, located in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico and TALLERCONTIL from Matagalpa, Nicaragua in collaboration with artist and printer Eckhard Froeschlin from Germany.

Taller Leñateros describes itself as:

“A publishing collective operated by contemporary Mayan artists in Chiapas, Mexico. Founded in 1975 by poet Ámbar Past, the Workshop has created the first books to be written, illustrated, printed, bound (in paper of their own making) by Mayan people in over 400 years. Among its multiple objectives are those of documentation, praise and dissemination of Amerindian cultural values: song, literature, plastic arts, and the ancient Mesoamerican tradition of painted books.

The Leñateros’ rescue of old and endangered techniques such as the extraction of dyes from wild plants, contributes to the conservation of Native American languages, and benefits the ecology by recycling agricultural and industrial wastes, transforming them into art and beautiful books.” (1)

TALLERCONTIL was established in 1998 in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. Edition Schwarze Seite, who published their works, reported in their literature and I quote from the Vamp and Tramp Bookseller website:

“The idea for this project came during a visit to the theater artist Pablo Pupiro and Ernesto Soto in 1997 in Wuppertal [Germany]. It has since been promoted within the framework of the partnership with the city of Matagalpa / Wuppertal. During the first graphic workshops in 1998, a group formed that has since been renamed as “TallerContil.” Participants and group members are not professional visual artists, but interested and talented people from other, and sometimes with several professions: theater people, teachers, agricultural technicians, mechanics, students.

“Based on personal contacts and the Wuppertal-Matagalpa city sisterhood, the project started with woodcut printing under the poorest circumstances. Now, the project group TALLERCONTIL owns an etching press and a Hollander beater, both built in Matagalpa. The studio has advanced to producing etchings, single-sheet book art, unique books and a mould- made paper production.” (2)

Indigenous artist’s books are not only enjoyable as pieces of art but they can be studied to understand indigenous techniques applied to the creation of these books. The study of these objects offers an opportunity to see the ways that indigenous people adapt their techniques with other culture’s printing techniques, and how collaboration emerge between them and artists from Germany, the United States or Japan. But beyond looking as these objects as works of art, studying these artist’s books allow social scientists to introduce students to concepts such as globalization–these objects are created for the world market not the local economy; indigenous empowerment–indigenous women participate in these workshops as a different way to earn money and self-esteem; and language preservation, since indigenous languages such as Mayan are used for the short stories and poems printed in these books.

We invite you to come and visit the Dodd Center for a closer look to these amazing books.

Marisol Ramos, Curator for Latin American and Caribbean Collections

Resources Cited

(1) Taller Leñateros: About Us,

(2) Description of Wuppertal / Matagalpa Project Bookworks at the Vamp and Tramp Bookseller website,

Links of Resources

Thomas J. Dodd Research Center’s Artists’ Books Collection,

The Woodlanders’ Gazette (Summer 2007), Taller Leñateros, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. This newsletter includes images and an audio clip with a sample of the songs of the Bolom Chon that are included in the CD that accompanied the book,

Graphic Arts Exhibitions, acquisitions, and other highlights from the Graphic Arts Collection, Princeton University Library (Blog) Entry on Edition Schwarze Seite,

Anne Buessow and Eckhard Froeschlin Website (in German),

For a history of Artist’s Books check this article from the Yale University Library, Special Collection,

The first woman to hold an administrative faculty position was Margaret Kenwell, who served as Lady Principal from 1894 to 1896. The first woman named as a dean was M. Estella Sprague, who headed what was then the Division of Home Economics. Sprague served as dean from 1920 to 1926. She had been a professor of home economics at Connecticut Agricultural College since 1917. During World War I, Sprague, who had been the first woman extension worker at Connecticut, was the state director of home economics for the Federal Food Administration.  Sprague Hall in the East Campus Residence Hall complex was named for her in 1942, two years after her death.

-Mark J. Roy, University Communications (retired)

M. Estella Sprague, Dean of Home Economics, 1920

Dodd Center’s Tweets