New Additions to the James Ellroy Papers

We are extremely proud to be the repository for the papers of novelist, screenwriter, and memoirist James Ellroy, the “demon dog” of American literature. The bulk of Ellroy’s papers came to us as a gift in the late 1990s, and he has been generously adding to the archive since. I’m happy to report a new arrival of two boxes of material which documents some of Ellroy’s writing projects and activities over the past year or so.

Box 1, as received!


Box 2, in its raw state

The day these boxes arrived, I had a research methods class scheduled to come into Rare Books and Special Collections later that afternoon. After peeking into the first box, I decided to save the second one until the afternoon so we could open it in class together and discover what it contained. We were able to talk briefly about how materials like this could be used for research, the steps librarians and archivists take to describe materials like this, and of course the thrill of encountering the unknown. Here’s some of what we found in that box:

The screenplay to “Rampart,” with extensive revisions in Ellroy’s hand


The opening page of the manuscript to an episode of “James Ellroy’s L.A.:City of Demons”, a six-part Discovery Channel series from last year.

The Ellroy Papers finding aid is available here, and we welcome researchers and questions about the collection.


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Call for Entries: Student Book Collecting Contest, 2013

University Libraries Student Book Collecting Contest, 2013

Submission deadline: April 1, 2013

     Entries are invited from students currently enrolled at the University of South Carolina (all campuses) for the University Libraries Student Book Collecting Award, carrying a first prize of $250. The award is sponsored by the Thomas Cooper Society, which initiated it in 1993 to encourage beginning book collectors. A list of previous winners and the topics of their collections is available at:

The collection may be in any field or may emphasize some particular area of interest within a subject. Collections may illustrate a certain bibliographical feature such as edition, illustration, typography, binding, &tc. Books and printed documents in all formats are acceptable for submission.
 Materials submitted by entrants must be owned and have been collected primarily by them. Entries should be submitted by April 1, 2013, and should include the following:

a) A brief essay (2-3 pages, double-spaced) describing how and why the collection was assembled, including plans for future growth and development.

b) An annotated bibliography of selected titles (about 25-40) from the collection.

c) A cover sheet listing the entrant’s name, address, phone and email contacts.

N.B.: The entrant’s name should not appear anywhere on the entry except on the cover sheet. If submitting electronically, please try to send as PDF files. Entrants may wish to look over a previous successful entry to get ideas on arranging their material: a folder of such entries is on reserve in the Smith Reading Room in the Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library.

Part of Stewart Plein’s winning entry of bindings designed by Margaret Armstrong on display in Thomas Cooper Library, 2009.

A panel of judges will evaluate each anonymous entry. Each entrant’s essay and bibliography will be evaluated on how well they illustrate the concept of the collection. The winner will also receive a complimentary ticket to the Thomas Cooper Society’s Annual General Meeting and Dinner on May 2nd, featuring remarks by Elmore Leonard. They will also be asked to exhibit selected items from their collection in Thomas Cooper Library. The winning entry will be submitted to the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest, co-sponsored by the Library of Congress, the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, and the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies. The university’s 2007 winner was a runner-up in the national contest.

Entries should be submitted by midnight on Monday, April 1, 2013, to:
 Jeffrey Makala,
 Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections,
 Hollings Special Collections Library,
 Columbia SC 29208.
 (803) 777-0296. Or to:


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Abecedaria! Fine Press and Children’s ABC Books

Our new exhibition, opeing on February 5, explores the history and meaning of the alphabet and its treatment in ABC books, for children and adults.

It will be open in our galleries through the end of April. A short article on the exhibit can be found here. Please come to the opening on the 5th at 5:30 to hear Dr. Pat Feehan of the School of Library and Information Science give opening remarks!



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An Important New Collection of African American Ephemera

The Libraries have recently received a large gift of the family library and material culture collections of Mr. Hemrick (Hink) Salley of Salley, SC. Parts of the library have been in his family for several generations, and Mr. Salley himself is an avid collector with varied interests.

One area he has especially focused on is African American literature, culture, and history, especially in the South. In addition to a substantial book collection, currently being cataloged here in the Irvin department, there is a large ephemera collection relating to African American imagery and race in America that stretches back to Reconstruction.

Much, if not most, of this imagery is overtly stereotypical and racist. There are many colored photo postcards from the early 20th century depicting rural life across the South  as well as comic postcards with racist caricatures. Of especial interest are the late 19th century items, such as a number of tintypes with African American portraits and a large group of advertising cards, fold-out pieces, and trade cards featuring African Americans.

All told, there are several hundred pieces in the collection, which is now available for research use.

Many manufacturers, Northern and Southern, adopted “old South” imagery in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to advertise their products to consumers in all parts of the United States. This nostalgia for an idealized antebellum world of placid Southern order was, of course, far from the reality experienced by those enslaved. The degrees to which African Americans are in turn idealized, scorned, laughed at, disparaged, and threatened in these pieces varies widely in scope and degree, from the relatively mild to the shockingly violent. As a result, this collection will have a great deal of future research value to students of American history, advertising, visual culture, and race.

I have consciously chosen to show several of what I will call milder images of racial difference in this post. There are many more items that are far more disturbing in the collection, and for that reason they are worth preserving, if perhaps not reproducing widely here. The collection is open and available for use anytime, and I would welcome further inquiries about it.


Posted in African American, Archival collections, ephemera, Photos | Leave a comment