Artists' Books: Structures for Instruction

Several artists books on a table - each described in the post below.

Last Friday, I was privileged to welcome students from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit to the Special Collections Library. As part of a class on exploring the book, attendees were preparing for an assignment to create a one-of-a-kind artists’ book. The instructor had asked me to find examples of unusual artists’ books with interesting structures, offering me an opportunity to explore new dimensions of Special Collections’ artists’ book holdings.

Harvest Mice, Ponds on Chalk Hills, and the Torpidity of Swallows: Gilbert White's Natural History

Black and white wood engraving of a bird in tall grass.

First published in 1789, Gilbert White’s The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne describes the history and environment of the parish in eastern Hampshire where he lived for much of his life. The book offers gently reflective accounts of White's observations, structured as 110 letters to two friends - zoologist Thomas Pennant and amateur naturalist Daines Barrington. An immensely popular and influential work in the genre of nature writing, White's writings continue to inspire...

New Discoveries of the Labadie Family

Photograph of Carlotta Anderson and her uncle Laurance Labadie.

As the only grandchild of Jo and Sophie Labadie, Carlotta Anderson was fascinated by her family's history. She wrote an authoritative biography of her grandfather, researched anarchism, labor unions and Detroit history before the auto industry, and preserved original family documents dating back to the nineteenth century. Anderson was a dear friend of the Labadie Collection and, shortly before her death she donated important papers that are now open for research.

Fairy Tale Fridays: The Twelve Dancing Princesses

shoes strewn across the floor above the title

Shoes (and dancing shoes in particular) return again and again as a central motif of fairy tales - from the glass slipper that declares Cinderella to be the Prince’s ballroom crush to the red hot iron slippers in which Snow White’s evil stepmother is forced to dance till she dies. However, perhaps no fairy tale contains quite so many shoes as “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.”


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