Events & Exhibits - Fall 2009

Special Collection News

     Weinberg Library hosted a very successful run of the American Library Association traveling exhibit Forever Free: Abraham Lincoln's Journey to Emancipation. School groups and community groups visited the exhibit during its February 9-March 22 visit to the Heritage Room. In conjunction with the exhibit, The Library sponsored a symposium in the DeNaples Center on Saturday, February 14 attended by approximately 140 attendees. The symposium featured three speakers including Dr. Leonard Gougeon, University of Scranton, speaking on "In the Heat of War: Lincoln, Emerson, and the Fortune of the Republic;" Karen James of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission discussing the "Effects of the Abolitionist Movement on Slavery Laws in Pennsylvania;" and Thomas Wooden, Sr. from the Center for Anti-Slavery Studies talking about "The Underground Railroad in Northeastern Pennsylvania." An appearance by Abraham Lincoln, as portrayed by Jim Getty, was canceled because Mr. Lincoln/Getty's flight was grounded in Michigan by a snowstorm. The symposium was followed by a reception in the Heritage Room sponsored by the Friends of the Weinberg Library. The event was also cosponsored by the Lackawanna Historical Society, Center for Anti-Slavery Studies, and the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority.
 
     The Weinberg Library is honored to host an exhibit of the works of Samuel Johnson, in celebration of his 300th anniversary of his birth, from the Edward R. Leahy collection. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) is now best remembered for his Dictionary of the English Language, which remained the authority on English vocabulary until the publication of the Oxford English Dictionary at the end of the 19th century. However, Johnson's output was prodigious and wide ranging, and he is considered to be the most important prose writer in England during the middle and late 18th century. The 40 years of his literary dominance, from the 1740s until his death in 1784, have been called "The Age of Johnson."
 
     The exhibit will feature the entire range of Johnson's literary output including poetry, drama, satire, essays, as well as the dictionary. Along with being the dominant literary figure of his age, Samuel Johnson was also subject to what has been called the first truly modern biography, written by James Boswell. Although Boswell is intimately connected with Johnson, he had an independent literary career which will also be exhibited. The exhibition will be rich in Johnson and Boswell first editions in fine condition, many of them in the original boards, signed copies by both Johnson and Boswell, and rare items and autograph letters by or concerning both authors. Included will be seven copies of the first edition of Boswell's Life of Johnson, a key work in the history of both English literature and biography. The seven copies are not identical and provide a fascinating look at the same important book from a bibliographical point of view. Included are two copies bound in original boards, a copy in a Cosway binding with miniature portraits of Johnson and Boswell painted on ivory and inlaid under glass into the front covers of both volumes, and a copy containing a rare, and hitherto unpublished, letter, describing Johnson's work as a tutor when he was about twenty-one years old. Of special note are a presentation copy of the Life inscribed by Boswell to a friend of Johnson's, and the A. Edward Newton copy of the Life which is one of only four or five surviving copies containing an uncensored page of Boswell's original text. During the printing process, Johnson's executor thought that certain of Johnson's comments concerning infidelity were too scandalous for publication and he had Boswell rewrite that portion of the text. On exhibit will be one of the few copies that was not altered as discovered by the famous collector A. Edward Newton. Only a few American rare book libraries (such as Harvard's Houghton Library, The Huntington, The Grolier Club) are hosting Samuel Johnson exhibits in honor of his 300th birthday. The exhibit will run from September 18 through December 18.
 
Michael Knies
Pride, Passion, Promise: Experience Our Jesuit Tradition