On Thursday, November 17, 2022, Her Majesty Queen Diambi Kabatusuila Tshiyoyo Muata of the Democratic Republic of Congo visited Queens College campus. A CUNY alumna—she holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of Staten Island—Queen Diambi stopped by the lab of Maral Tajerian and Sebastian Alvarado (Biology) and joined a reception in her honor in the library.
The QC Library celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month! Led by the United States Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, this annual initiative, celebrated in October since 1945, recognizes people with disabilities as part of an inclusive workforce. The 2022 theme is “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.”
Persons of working age with a disability are unemployed at a much higher rate than persons without a disability, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They are also more likely to be employed part-time, in the service industry, or self-employed. What do scholars make of these phenomena? What do the experiences of people with disabilities say about equity (or the lack thereof) in workplaces? Or about the very ideas of productivity and work? To find out, dive into the National Disability Employment Awareness Month page in our new Disability Studies research guide.
But work is only one small part of the picture. This month also marks the publication of our research guide for Disability Studies generally. As an interdisciplinary field emerging in the late 20th-century along the lines of Gender Studies or Latino Studies, Disability Studies uses a variety of methodologies to analyze the meanings attributed to human differences, whether bodily or mental. People with disabilities have been at the forefront of both activism and scholarship that challenge the idea of what’s “normal,” and the attendant social exclusions that hide behind that idea. Especially significant have been disabled persons’ activism and theorizing around the disconnect between human beings and the built environment (think of curb cuts, ramps, elevators) in pursuit of equity for everyone. Radical scholars in disability studies have long positioned their research in the wider context of human liberation from all forms of oppression.
Here are some highlights from the Disability Studies research guide:
“During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Americans with all sorts of disabilities came to be labeled as ‘unproductive citizens.’ […] By tracing the experiences of policymakers, employers, reformers, and disabled people caught up in this epochal transition, Rose masterfully integrates disability history and labor history. She shows how people with disabilities lost access to paid work and the status of ‘worker’–a shift that relegated them and their families to poverty and second-class economic and social citizenship. This has vast consequences for debates about disability, work, poverty, and welfare in the century to come.”
“This is the first book to challenge the concept of paid work for disabled people as a means to ‘independence’ and ‘self determination’. Recent attempts in many countries to increase the employment rates of disabled people have actually led to an erosion of financial support for many workless disabled people and their increasing stigmatisation as ‘scroungers’. Led by the disability movement’s concern with the employment choices faced by disabled people, this controversial book uses sociological and philosophical approaches, as well as international examples, to critically engage with possible alternatives to paid work.”
“Contends that disability is a central but misunderstood element of global austerity politics. Broadly attentive to the political and economic shifts of the last several decades, Robert McRuer asks how disability activists, artists and social movements generate change and resist the dominant forms of globalization in an age of austerity, or ‘crip times.'”
“‘Sex, Identity, Aesthetics: The Work of Tobin Siebers and Disability Studies’ uses Siebers’ work as a launchpad for thinking about contemporary disability studies. The editors provide an overview of Siebers’ research to show how it has contributed to humanistic understandings of ability and disability along three key axes: sex, identity, and aesthetics.”
“The authors provide a probing analysis of such topics as deinstitutionalization, housing, health care, assisted suicide, employment, education, new technologies, disabled veterans, and disability culture. Based on interviews with over one hundred activists, The Disability Rights Movement is a complex and compelling story of an ongoing movement that seeks to create an equitable and diverse society, inclusive of people with disabilities.”
“Academic Ableism brings together disability studies and institutional critique to recognize the ways that disability is composed in and by higher education, and rewrites the spaces, times, and economies of disability in higher education to place disability front and center. […] Examining everything from campus accommodation processes, to architecture, to popular films about college life, Dolmage argues that disability is central to higher education, and that building more inclusive schools allows better education for all.”
“The fifth edition of The Disability Studies Reader addresses the post-identity theoretical landscape by emphasizing questions of interdependency and independence, the human-animal relationship, and issues around the construction or materiality of gender, the body, and sexuality. […] The collection addresses physical disabilities, but as always investigates issues around pain, mental disability, and invisible disabilities as well.”
by Simone Yearwood, Interim Associate Dean & Chief Librarian
After 30 years of Service to Queens College, Alexandra de Luise has decided to retire. Alexandra began working at Queens College, Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library in 1991, as the Art Librarian. Over the years, Alexandra has played many roles serving as the Coordinator of Instruction and more recently, Coordinator of Reference and Instruction. Her final role as the Associate Librarian for Research & Instructional Services. Alexandra oversaw Research Services operations, managing and supervising the delivery of assistance in multiple formats to students, faculty, staff, and the community. She worked collaboratively in devising best practices for research instruction to Queens College students, especially at the first-year level, and was a regular instructor to ENG110 and SEEK, and to undergraduate classes that include ENG130, EURO120, ITAL41W, and FR41W. She was an instructor for LIBR170, the Library’s three-credit research, and writing course. She has served as a mentor to many junior colleagues.
Her areas of Collection Development included: French, Italian, and Modern Greek languages & literatures; Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, and Italian American Studies.
During her retirement, Alexandra will finally have time to enjoy her hobbies of interest, watching an independent film, taking in an exhibit, visiting family, and keeping up with her Italian language skills.
Congratulations, Alexandra. You deserve this next chapter in your life. Thank you for your service to the library and college. While we are happy for you, we are saddened by your departure and the loss of your stellar service to our faculty, students, staff, and library colleagues. I applaud you on a career well done!
By Lori Wallach, Adjunct Archivist and Queens Memory Outreach Coordinator
One of the primary functions of a college archive is to preserve and make accessible a record of the school’s past – its institutional history. At Special Collections and Archives (SCA), we do this through a variety of collections, such as those containing yearbooks; student publications; administrative records of numerous departments, schools, and programs; and items donated by individual faculty members and alumni. Of course, our Photograph Collection, which we are in the process of digitizing, provides an especially rich documentation of the college from its very earliest days.
Over the past several years, we’ve made a concerted effort to expand another type of institutional history – our oral history collection. Through our ongoing Queens Memory partnership with the Queens Public Library, we’re able to preserve both audio and video recordings and make them easily accessible to the public. These oral history interviews provide a fascinating firsthand look into the college’s history in the words and voices of those who lived and shaped it.
In 2019, we embarked on the Retired Faculty & Staff Oral History Project, an ambitious plan with two goals: 1) to actively pursue interviews with retired QC faculty, staff and administrators, and 2) to comb through our collections and solicit donations of earlier interviews that can be formatted for online access. Dr. Dean Savage, retired professor of sociology, has been instrumental in helping us locate many of his fellow QC retirees.
An important addition to our oral history collection is a set of interviews conducted in one of Dr. Bobby Wintermute’s history classes in 2013, to commemorate Queens College’s 75th anniversary. Dr. Wintermute donated the recordings and supporting documentation to SCA, and to date, we’ve processed and made accessible nine interviews, with several more to go. We were particularly delighted to find recordings with former QC President Saul Cohen and longtime history professor Dr. Martin Pine, both of whom have since passed on.
In this clip, former QC President Saul Cohen explains how he appealed directly to then-Governor Mario Cuomo for funding to construct a new building for the Aaron Copland School of Music.
Another component of our oral history collection comes from SCA’s larger SEEK History Project, which documents the history of QC’s Percy Ellis Sutton SEEK Program from its inception in 1966. Over 15 interviews associated with the SEEK program have been conducted, and eight are fully processed, including those of former director Dr. Bill Sales, counselors Alan Townsend and Waldo Jeff, and faculty member Dr. Jessica Harris, all of whom were with the program in its earliest years. SCA recently selected two QC grad students to process additional SEEK interviews this summer. The students will be paid stipends from the department’s foundation funds.
Please do explore our full oral history collection! Catalog records for each interview, with links to the audio/video and transcripts, are located in our online archives database. If you are interested in volunteering to conduct an interview, would like to nominate someone to be interviewed, or have a previously recorded oral history to donate, please email us at email@example.com.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, we share one of the most-requested items from QC’s Special Collections and Archives department: the 1942 yearbook photo of graduating senior Marie Daly. In the photo, her hair is set carefully and a string of pearls rests around her neck. She looks determined, gazing out of the frame. Around her on the page are a sea of white faces; at the time, few Black students were enrolled at the college.
In 1942’s yearbook (only the second ever graduating class at QC!), each senior portrait included an accompanying paragraph describing every student. Some were cheeky, some were resolute, some were optimistic. Marie Daly’s paragraph, though, was certain:
“A Queens College Scholar and one of those elite persons on the Dean’s list, MARIE DALY has an enviable record. She is a Chemistry major and a member of the Chemical Society. In her chosen career as a laboratory technician, she bears the mark of one likely to succeed.”
Marie Maynard Daly was a biochemist and the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate in chemistry in the United States. One of three children, she was born in Queens on April 6, 1921. She started her groundbreaking educational career at Queens College as an undergraduate from 1938-1942, then earned a graduate degree in chemistry from New York University in 1944, and, finally, completed her PhD in chemistry in 1947 at Columbia University.
Daly’s professional life took her to many places: she was an instructor at Howard University, an American Cancer Society fellow at the Rockefeller Institute, a researcher and professor at Columbia and then Yeshiva University (where she retired from in 1986), and served at places like the American Heart Association and Health Research Council of New York. Her work primarily focused on the chemistry of a cell’s nucleus and how our health can be impacted at that tiny, cellular level. She did important research on the effects of cigarette smoke on the workings of lungs, sugar on the health of arteries, and discovered how cholesterol contributes to heart attacks and oxygen blockages in the circulatory system.
In 1988, she started a scholarship for minority students at Queens College who want to study science at Queens College and named it after her parents, Ivan and Helen, who instilled a love of learning in her from a young age–her father had once taken chemistry courses at Cornell University and her mother was a passionate reader. You can still apply for that scholarship today!
Marie Maynard Daly’s story continues to inspire researchers, students, and science lovers. SCA has received requests for more information about her from everyone from high school students to the American Chemical Society to both highlight her contributions to biochemistry and celebrates her status as a trailblazer for women and people of color alike. This senior portrait, taken at the very beginning of her exceptional career, speaks to the women who may be finding their way in the science field at Queens College even now. We’re proud to have her as an alumnus.
Access Provider: Yale University Press Description: The Art & Architecture ePortal provides access to 286 ebooks by leading arts publishers such as the National Gallery of Art, Yale University Press, The MIT Press, and more. The collection provides access to museum catalogues, surveys, catalogues raisonnés, and artist monographs covering the history of art, architecture, decorative arts, photography, and design. A&AePortal offers high quality, zoomable, images and an array of tools for citations, annotations and note taking, and a bookshelf feature for future readings. Format: E-books Access Portals:OneSearch, A-Z Database list
Considered “the founder of modern philosophy,” René Descartes is famous for the declaration, “I think, therefore I am.” (While this formulation is famous in Latin as “Cogito, ergo sum,” it was originally written in French as “Je pense, donc je suis.”)
The SCA has Descartes’s Meditationes de Prima Philosophia. This book, as the title indicates, was first published in Latin in Paris in 1641, then updated and published again in Amsterdam in 1642. The item that the SCA has, also in Latin, was published in Amsterdam in 1685.
Descartes made his famous argument in his first book, Discours de la Methode, which he published in 1637 and he reiterated and expounded on it in his Meditationes, his most popular book today, according to Descartes scholar Kurt Smith.
Descartes died of a respiratory infection in 1650. His books were banned by the church in 1663. The item at the SCA was published in 1685 and, despite his early death, despite the banning, he continues to be read and discussed. Contemporary interpretations of his philosophy continue to be published in various academic journals and The Oxford Handbook of Descartes and Cartesianism, a collection of fifty essays from “an international group of leading scholars of early modern philosophy,” was published in 2019.
The SCA copy is part of the collection that came from the old Klapper Library. It does not have the original binding but the textblock is in good condition.
Bleak House was Charles Dickens’s ninth novel, and, according to Dickens scholar Paul Schlicke, “technically his most ambitious novel and widely held to be his masterpiece.” The novel had four important editions while Dickens was alive—as monthly serials from 1852 to 1853 (in twenty parts that came out in nineteen pamphlets because the nineteenth and twentieth parts were combined), the Cheap Edition of 1858, the Library Edition of 1868, and the Charles Dickens Edition of 1869.
The first edition of the novel, the monthly serialization in nineteen pamphlets, is one of the most exciting items in the SCA collection of rare books.
Bleak House had mixed reviews when it first came out. While the structure of the novel was praised, its forceful indictment of oppressive social institutions and its straightforward didacticism were criticized by some. But each serial part sold well and allowed Dickens to accumulate enough wealth for a contemporary to call him a “literary Croesus.”
While many of us are probably aware that Dickens’s novels were serialized when they first came out, it is still extraordinary to see these original pamphlets—their pale blue covers, thin sheets, and Victorian advertisements are highly evocative of the era.
The advertisements, in particular—the specific items, and their descriptions and illustrations—are remarkable. The advertisements were for Dickens’s books as well as other authors’ and from other publications, but also for a variety of merchandise that included, among others, the following: waterproof garments (“No umbrella required”!); a variety of hair products, including an actual head of hair; skin ointment (“These medicines excel all others in the cure of scrofula or king’s evil, glandular and other unnatural swellings, scurvy, leprosy, and all diseases of the skin.”); frocks, coats, and pelisses; cloaks, hoods, hats, and bonnets; Parr’s Life Pills (“They mildly and speedily remove all Skin Eruptions, Sallowness of Complexion, Nervous Irritability, Sick Head-Ache, Depression of Spirits, Irregularity, or general derangement of the system.”); chrystal spectacles and cough jujube lozenges; life insurance policies and loans; Rimmel’s toilet vinegar; a chest expander; pulmonic wafers that will give “perfect freedom from coughs in ten minutes”; shawls and needles and “papier mache elegancies”; mourning outfits; a self-acting pipe tube which is a “novelty in smoking”; wools and parasols.
An article published in 1970 argues that reading Bleak House as a novel, “all at once from cover to cover,” is a misreading, that serialization was essential to Dickens’s art, that “the slow, deliberate pace of publication, and the suspense which the monthly interruption of the narrative naturally aroused,” is vital to understanding its artistry and implications.
A slow and deliberate pace. The suspense of monthly interruptions. Living as we do in a world in which we can binge-watch one whole season of a show on a single afternoon, it is, for most of us, an effort to read Bleak House as a novel “all at once from cover to cover” and it is difficult to imagine reading it as a serial in the course of a year and a half.
These first edition pamphlets are powerful aids for us to envision a different way of reading and entertainment, a different way of engaging with our imagination, perhaps even a different way of relating to time.
Welcome to the inaugural post of the new monthly series, “Treasures from Special Collections and Archives.” This series will initially feature items from the Rare Books and Print History Collections of the Department of Special Collections and Archives (SCA) but will eventually expand to feature items from other important collections held by the department.
To inaugurate the series, we are proud to announce that the SCA holds two copies of the first American edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. According to Blanck’s Bibliography of American Literature, there have been three printings of the first edition of this American classic. The two copies in the SCA are most likely from different printings because, while they have the same publication date, the two books are paginated differently.
A nearly fine copy of the first American edition is listed on AbeBooks for $45,000 and very good condition copies are listed for $12,000 to $15,000. The two copies at the SCA have been exposed to moisture and mold but have been professionally cleaned and are now in stable condition, thanks to the generosity of Shirley Klein, a lifelong bibliophile and loyal friend of Queens College. Both have the original blue cloth covers with gold-stamped stars and lovely illustrations. Over the longer term, the department hopes to acquire funding to repair the bindings and small tears in the volumes.
The first edition of this American classic came out in London first. It was published by Chatto and Windus and came out in June 1876. The American edition, published by the American Publishing Company, came out in December 1876. Between these two official editions, a pirated edition from Canada was published in July 1876. The case of the English edition is covered in red cloth instead of the blue cloth of the American edition and is considered rarer and more valuable. Biblioctopus sold a nearly fine copy for $60,000, and the Bodleian Libraries happily announced in 2012 that their copy, previously uncatalogued because it probably “slipped in the stack shelves,” was found during a move of library collections.
Remarkably enough, the original and complete manuscript of the novel, in Twain’s own handwriting and with his various erasures and emendations, has been preserved in the Booth Family Center for Special Collections at Georgetown University. Also called a holographic manuscript, it was the manuscript that Twain submitted for the typesetting of the American first edition and that he seemed to have allowed Elisha P. Bliss, the president of the American Publishing Company at the time, to keep after the publication of his novel. This manuscript was also exhibited at the MOMA in 1937.
The SCA also has one copy of the first American edition of the other Twain classic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and a post about that treasure will be forthcoming in this series. All three of Twain’s first editions in the stewardship of the SCA are originally from a Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library Rare Book Collection which had formerly been held on the 6th floor of the library, but had been exposed to moisture and had suffered a mold outbreak. The entire collection was recently cleaned and remediated by a vendor. Head of Special Collections and Archives Annie Tummino wrote about its triumphant return to Rosenthal Library last year.
The SCA staff is currently busy working to preserve, process, and arrange these marvelous treasures so that they may be used and enjoyed by the Queens College community.
The Queens College Libraries (QCL) welcomes three amazing interns, Amy Sukhoo, Daysi Tiban, and Natalie Zeng, from the CUNY Recovery Corps Summer 2021 Internship program. The internship is for six weeks (July 6 – August 14, 2021) and each intern works with a different team in the library.
Amy Sukhoo: Access Services
Amy Sukhoo is a Senior at Queens College. She has attended Queens College from 2019 to 2021 after attending the City College of New York from 2017 to 2019. During summer 2021, she is interning for the Queens College Libraries in the Access Services Department. Her internship is part of the CUNY Recovery Corps, which aims to help rebuild the community due to COVID-19. She has previous experiences as an accounting intern, office assistant, childcare assistant, and tutor. She seeks out new opportunities as an upcoming graduate.
Daysi Tiban: Research Services
Daysi Tiban is a Junior at Queens College majoring in accounting and minoring in economics. She is currently working for CUNY Recovery Corps at the Queens College Libraries. Part of her responsibilities include working with the Queens College Libraries website and updating information through research. As a current junior in college and continuing to work towards her degree, she plans to engage in more extracurricular activities and is open-minded to new learning opportunities.
Natalie Zeng: Web and Digital Services
Natalie Zeng is a Junior at Queens College who is interning at Queens College Libraries, majoring in Design and minoring in Anthropology. She expects to graduate in May 2022. Natalie is very passionate about user experience/user interface (UX/UI) and loves to learn new concepts involving design. Natalie’s current project as an intern is to work on the heuristic evaluation by using comparative website research. In the past, she has involved herself in internships with Cognizant and coding programs such as Kode with Klossy and Girls Who Code to expand her knowledge.
QCL is very excited to have our interns and look forward to working with them this summer!