Bob Dylan at Stabler Arena, 1981-2013

In honor of today’s announcement that Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, let’s take a look back at his connection to Lehigh.stabler-81


Review of Dylan’s 1981 Stabler Arena performance from the Brown and White


Bob Dylan first performed at Lehigh’s Stabler Arena in 1981. This performance came during what has been described as Dylan’s preaching, gospel, or “born-again” phase, which followed his conversion to Christianity in the late 1970s. The set list for this concert, as well as all of Dylan’s other concerts, is available on his website. Since 1981, Dylan has made six additional appearances at Stabler arena in 1995, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2010, and most recently in 2013. His initial visit to Lehigh in 1981 proved to be on the earlier end of his career, with  his first album released in 1961.


Advertisement from a 1965 issue of the Brown and White

Prior to his appearance at Stabler in 1981, Dylan’s influence on the student body was apparent in both the favorable and unfavorable references to him made in the Brown and White. In comparison to another folk music act that played at Lehigh in 1965, the student reviewer commented, “I can only describe Dylan’s voice as a premature senile croaking coming through a musty rain-barrel.”  It seems that after 51 years, the Nobel Prize Committee has repudiated this reviewers opinion that “ranting and wailing, moaning and groaning about how the world is going to hell in a bucket isn’t my idea of good folk music.”


Review of a folk-music performance referencing Bob Dylan from a 1965 issue of the Brown and White.


Review of Dylan’s 1999 Stabler Arena performance in the Brown and White.


Review of Dylan’s 2000 Stabler Arena performance in the Brown and White.


Banned Books Week: Daniel Gerhard “Dan” Brown and Modern Censorship

Throughout much of the latter part of the written word’s existence, books, especially of the science and fiction genres, have been banned for featuring content that went against the social or religious norms of society. One of the most famous conduits of these bans has been the Catholic Church, which published an index of banned books considered sinful to read, titled the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. This index lasted from 1529 to 1966, when it was declared to not have paramount moral authority. Other sources of book bans throughout history have been governments, school systems, and religions. The targets of many early bans were scientific works such as those of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo in the 16th and 17th centuries. As history crept into the modern day and fiction became a more common genre of writing, banning books for sexual depictions, violence, and unpopular political views has become more common. In the modern age, with much emphasis being put on tolerance and acceptance, people may think that we are beyond the banning books, but we still see bans ranging from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, J.D. Salinger’s A Catcher in the Rye, Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Authors can face bans on their books due to a book’s content and because they draw from facts in the real world.

The Da Vinci Code

In 2000, when Daniel Gerhard “Dan” Brown released his first Robert Langdon novel, Angels and Demons, he sparked a worldwide conversation on the content of literature and its relation to the real world. The book was a mystery which concluded in a camerlengo planting an antimatter bomb in the Vatican and faking a vision from God in order to save what he believed to be a dying Catholic Church. Brown’s consistent use of scientific facts and religious beliefs in his story added to the realism for which he became known. Many were infuriated for the insinuation that the Catholic Church’s hierarchy could be corrupt. This became a full-fledged debate with Brown’s 2003 publication of The Da Vinci Code. This novel is a mystery-thriller focusing on a murder connected to a secret society that was created to protect the Holy Grail. In the novel, Brown evokes the idea that the Holy Grail refers to Mary Magdalene and her descendants, who began with the children she bore with Jesus of Nazareth. Despite this idea being unoriginal, Brown brought it into the spotlight and offered the evidence for it in the novel. Some viewed this claim to be an affront on the Catholic Church and Christians everywhere. This led to the book being banned in countries such as Lebanon, Manila, India, Egypt, Pakistan, Samoa, Sri Lanka, and Jordan and being severely criticized by other countries including the Vatican. Brown’s books continue to use the themes of science and religion to analyze views on religion, the soul, morals, and hidden history. As movies based on his work come out worldwide, more and more governments and religions have been banning and criticizing the content of his writing.

We are now at an impasse in the debate where we can decide that Brown’s work is an example of artistic freedom and one man’s view on the world or denounce his work for going against traditional views and blurring the line between fiction and reality. This is a choice for our generation and for all future generations so that all views of a topic may be known and maybe, like in the case of early astronomers, the controversial views expressed may be proved true. This is why no book, written word, or even speech should be silenced or censored “for even the very wise cannot see all ends.”


Banned Books Week: Uncle Remus

Today we continue our celebration of the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, a week dedicated to bringing forward challenged books, by looking at some of these books in our collection. This journey takes us to the post-reconstruction United States in the South, in the arms of the beloved Uncle Remus as he passes on traditional African folklore. The comical stories of the mischievous Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear, and Brer Fox entertained the children on Uncle Remus’s lap and readers alike.

Remus Cover

The character of Uncle Remus was brought to life by author Joel Chandler Harris. Harris was born in Eatonton, Georgia on his family’s slave plantation, and heard these dialect tales as a child from slaves. He later crafted these tales into a narrative and made them available to a large white audience. Other writers of his generation recorded these stories, but Harris’ creative use of African-American vernacular and ability to further universalize the conflicts between the weak and the powerful made his collection the only one that really caught on with readers.

Uncle Remus Title

Harris’ original collection of stories, Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings (1880) has gained popularity across the globe, having been translated into over 40 languages, and it has never gone out of print. Special Collections holds an 1881 edition of this book, which is representative of the beginning of the folklore movement.

To get his works from the original storytellers to readers around the world, Harris was said to have found inspiration in a novel nearly equal in controversy: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. At Special Collections, we have several editions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in a variety of languages, with the 1852 first edition being shown here. Both novels deal with the spread of opinions of race, slavery, and discrimination through storytelling to young children. Even as a piece of anti-slavery groundwork for the Civil War, Harris felt Stowe’s novel remained sympathetic to the institution she wished to condemn by painting a too-generous picture of the slave master. Through the Uncle Remus stories, Harris attempted to set aside the southern defeat that had divided America, and instead create a romantic and endearing story to reconnect the two sides. This charges the main controversy, both at the time of publishing and still today.

Uncle Tom's Cabin Title

Many readers and scholars have noted the theme of race and presence of racial stereotypes would still be offensive to modern readers, earning the stories what seems to be a permanent seat on the banned books list. Further adding to the controversy of Uncle Remus, Disney produced a movie in 1946, Song of the South, as a visual interpretation of Harris’s work. The movie never was made available for public purchase because of the same racial themes, despite it’s famous song “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah” and legacy as Disney’s first film to feature “flesh-and-blood-players” (Song of the South’s 1946 Campaign Book). What scholars have called “the negro situation” has resulted in Disney Park’s Splash Mountain log flume as perhaps one of the only tangible memories of Song of the South.

Despite the challenged legacy of the stories, historical merit remains strong. President of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, Tyrone Brooks, believes:

“There should be an appreciation of all that history because it tells you where we were, and how far we’ve come. But it also tells you have far we have to go.”

Looking back on this piece of reconstruction history and analyzing sources like Harris’s works, although controversial, allows us to accomplish the very thing Brooks is describing. Controversy can breed change even in contemporary times.


Banned Books Week: Index Librorum Prohibitorum

While Banned Books Week now provides the opportunity to celebrate the reading and expression of unpopular or challenging ideas, the suppression and censoring of controversial ideas in printed books has a long and well documented history.

With the advent of Gutenberg’s printing press in the 15th century came the ability to rapidly and widely disseminate information. This new method of printing made hand-written manuscripts largely obsolete, and in the process broke the Catholic Church’s near monopoly on the written word. In conjunction with the Christian Reformation, this literary revolution challenged the Roman Church’s moral and theological doctrines. In an attempt to combat this threat to Catholic dogma, Pope Paul IV published the 1559 Index Librorum Prohibitorum. This publication was an official list of “books which were not to be read or possessed by Roman Catholics without authorization, or which could be read only in approved or expurgated editions” (Glaister, p. 242). A more moderate, revised list was published in 1564 following the Council of Trent, which was later followed by another revision in 1897 by Pope Leo XIII. The final version of the list was published in 1948 and the Index was officially abolished by the Vatican in 1966.


Index Librorum Prohibitorum

Title page of the 1564 Index Librorum Prohibitorum. From the Internet Archive


The first librarian of Oxford University’s Bodleian Library, Thomas James, anticipated Banned Books Week by several centuries. In 1627, James published his Index Generalis, which was based on the Index Expurgatorius, a list of works in need of revision or alteration for Catholic approval. James‘ Index was used “as an invaluable reference work to be sued by the curators of the Bodleian Library when listing those works particularly worthy of collecting” (Encyclopedia of Censorship, p. 133). According to the Encyclopedia of Censorship, James’ preface to the Index Generalis “makes his contempt for the Papacy clear, both because it extended so pervasive a censorship system and, perhaps more so, because the system was so poorly, ignorantly and unprofessionally implemented” (p. 133). Like the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, James’ Index continued to be used into the 20th century.

Literary Policy

One of the most famous authors on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum was Galileo Galilei, who defended the Copernican model of a heliocentric solar system. Following his trial by the Roman Inquisition, Galileo’s Dialogo was added to the Index and he was officially prohibited from publishing any future works. This historic 1633 prohibition is noted in an 1830 publication titled Literary Policy of the Church of Rome, which was discovered in the circulating collection of Fairchild Martindale Library while researching this post and pictured above. This book was written by a British reverend and presents a historical analysis of the Catholic Church’s policy of censorship. Galileo did not abide by the Church’s ruling, publishing his seminal work Two New Sciences in 1638. Lehigh’s Special Collections holds several editions of Galileo’s Two New Sciences, including a copy of the first edition, which was the one millionth volume acquired by the Lehigh Libraries in 1992.


A 1564 version of an Index Librorum Prohibitorum is available online at The Internet Archive provided by the National Central Library of Rome.

A 1576 version of an Index Expurgatorius is available online at Hathitrust provided by Duke University.


Glaister, G. A. (1996). Encyclopedia of the book (2nd ed.). New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press.

Green, J. (1990). The encyclopedia of censorship. New York, N.Y.: Facts on File.


Banned Books Week: Mark Twain and Huck Finn

Every year, the American Library Association (ALA) dedicates one week to education and advocacy about the problem of book censorship. This year, staff and students from Special Collections will be writing a series of blog posts examining controversial and challenged books in our holdings.

ALA Banned Books Week

ALA’s top ten most challenged books of 2015 are listed below, three of which are currently available in the collections of the Lehigh Libraries. The absence of commonly challenged books in Lehigh’s collection is not indicative of censorship but rather a reflection of the collection development and purchasing priorities of an academic institution, with a focus on research and scholarly support.

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

Huck FInn Cover

While not on this year’s list of most challenged books, one of the most well-known and frequently contested books of the past one and a half centuries is Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain and Huck Finn are of particular interest to us in Special Collections as they feature prominently in the ongoing exhibit in Linderman Library, Visual and Verbal: The Deborah and Alfred Judson Barcan Collection. Banned Books Week happens to coincide with an event honoring the Barcans for their gift, which will be held Wednesday, September 27 at 4:10pm in the Scheler Humanities Forum (Linderman 200). This event features a presentation by Associate Professor of English Seth Moglen, who will focus on the works of Twain in the Barcans’ collection. For more information on the Barcan Collection, visit the online exhibit, which includes images and descriptions of the books on display, including numerous works by Twain.

According to the ALA,

Since its publication in 1884, “Huck Finn” has been the subject of intense criticism and also acclaim. Initially dismissed by some for its “coarse” vernacular language, the book faced new objections in the twentieth century to its racial language and themes. In May 1996, a class action lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, alleging that the district deprived minority students of educational opportunities by requiring racially offensive literature (including “Huck Finn”) as part of class assignments. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, stating he realized that “language in the novel was offensive and hurtful to the plaintiff,” but that the suit failed to prove the district violated students’ civil rights. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that requiring students to read literary works that some find racially offensive is not discrimination prohibited by the equal protection clause or Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (Montecito v. Tempe Union High School District). Today, “Huck Finn” remains a classic contribution to American literature and is often ranked among the truly great American novels.

Banned Books Week: Celebrating 30 Years of Liberating Literature

Huck Finn

While the modern challenges against Huck Finn focus on its frequent use of the n-word and its racist portrayal of black people, these challenges are somewhat ironic considering that Twain was one of the more progressive writers of his era. In addition to the vernacular language, which readers at the time of its publication considered too vulgar for “real” literature, Huck Finn was also controversial for Huck’s decision to help Jim escape from slavery. In line with the prevailing sentiments of the time, Huck considers Jim to be the lawful property of the Widow Douglas. However, through their adventures together, Huck starts to see Jim as a human being and questions the morality of what for the time should have been the clear course of action – to return the Widow’s stolen property to her. Instead, Huck decides that he would rather endure eternal damnation for stealing and helps Jim to escape.



Brown and White, First Week of Class 1966

Following the 100 year old Freshman Handbook, here is the front page of the Brown and White from the first week of class in 1966. This 50 year old newspaper provides a glimpse at what freshman orientation and the beginning of the semester were like. The newspaper is searchable and available in its entirety through The Brown and White Archive as part of Lehigh’s Digital Library. This archive contains every issue of the Brown and White from its founding in 1894 to 2015.

Front page of Brown and White, 9/14/1966

Front page of Brown and White, 9/14/1966

The top image is of a freshman cap or “dink,” which was a prominent part of the regulations highlighted in the recently digitized 1916 Freshman Handbook. According to the article, upperclassmen regularly attempted to steal freshmen’s dinks, which would greatly inconvenience the freshmen victims.

Also of note are the plans for the opening of Mart Library, which is now part of Fairchild Martindale Library. The Mart Library was dedicated to engineering and the sciences, was estimated to cost $1.5 million, and eventually opened in 1968. 50 years later, plans for a major transformation of Fairchild Martindale Library are in the works.


1916-17 Freshman Handbook

Happy first day of class! To celebrate the arrival of the first year class, the Freshman hand book from 1916 (class of 1920) has been digitized and uploaded to Lehigh’s Digital Library. While these handbooks are no longer being published, they have some similarity to the blueprint books being distributed to first year students.


One highlight of this handbook, which was sponsored and published by the Young Men’s Christian Association of Lehigh University, is the list of regulations that freshmen were required to follow. The stated purpose of these regulations was to “avoid embarrassment and stigma of freshness.” It appears that only one rule has survived the intervening century, no smoking in campus buildings. Nine of the sixteen rules deal with what clothing freshman are required to wear or banned from wearing, and 3 of these deal exclusively with freshman caps, which were known as “dinks.”

Hazing of freshman students was a serious problem during the early twentieth century, necessitating the inclusion of several paragraphs in the handbook explicitly outlining the protection of freshman. These sections are prominently crossed out in the archival copy held by Special Collections, although it is not known who made these annotations or their intended purpose.


Special Collections holds freshman handbooks dating from 1891 to 1966. These handbooks provide an annual snapshot of what basic information Lehigh provided to its incoming students and the types of issues that were relevant at the time. They also include advertisements from the period that shed light on the local businesses operating in Bethlehem and how they appealed to the student population.


Lehigh University. Arcadia. (1891). Freshman handbook, 1891-1966. Bethlehem, Pa.: Lehigh Printing Co..


Audubon’s Long-eared Owl

long-eared owl

With the a new semester on the horizon, a new page of John James Audubon’s classic Birds of America is now on display in Linderman Library. Replacing plate 356, “Marsh Hawk,” is plate 383, “Long-eared Owl.” This plate features a male long-eared owl perched on a dead branch. The first plates of Birds of America were published in 1827, with Lehigh acquiring its volumes in 1884. Each plate was printed individually and colored by hand. The volumes were originally sold by subscription and fewer than 200 copies were ever produced.

Audubon describes the long-eared owl in his Ornithological Biography, “In Pennsylvania, and elsewhere to the eastward, I have found it perched on the top of a low bush or fir….it seems to squint at you in a most grotesque manner, although it is not difficult to approach very near it.”

If you would like to view the long-eared owl, or one of the many other birds drawn by Audubon, The University of Pittsburgh has digitized the book and made it available in its entirety.

Like it’s physical counterpart, Lehigh’s Audubon display is easy to approach, so stop by Linderman Library and take a look!

long-eared owl

Audubon, J. J., Lizars, W. H. 1., & Havell, R. (1827). The birds of America: From original drawings. London: Pub. by the author.

Audubon, J. J. (1831). Ornithological biography: Or, An account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America ; accompanied by descriptions of the objects represented in the work entitled The birds of America, and interspersed with delineations of American scenery and manners. Philadelphia: J. Dobson [etc.].


The Eiffel Tower, 1900

In honor of last week’s Bastille Day, the French National Day celebrating the 1789 storming of the Bastille Prison during the French Revolution, Special Collections would like to highlight another French institution, the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel and built for the 1889 Paris World’s Fair Exhibition, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The Champs de Mars, where the tower is located, was also the location of the first Bastille Day celebration in 1790 as well as many other events during the French Revolution. At the time of its construction, the Eiffel Tower represented a massive technological and architectural triumph, constructed entirely of wrought iron and measuring 324 meters (1,063 ft). At its completion, the Eiffel Tower was the world’s tallest building.


In 1900, Gustave Eiffel published La Tour de Trois Cents Mètres [The Tower of Three Hundred Meters], which documents the engineering and design involved in building the Eiffel Tower. Included in this book are a series of photographs documenting the construction process of the tower from foundations to completion. These photographs, taken from Special Collections’ copy of Eiffel’s book, are presented in the gallery below. A digitized version of the complete book is available online through the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Lehigh Library Record

Eiffel, Gustave. La Tour De Trois Cents Mètres. Paris: Société des imprimeries Lemercier, 1900.


Plans for the Panama Canal, 1892-1894

The archival manuscript “Memoria y Planos de un anteproyecto para la terminacion del Canal de Panama” has been digitized and made available in Lehigh’s Digital Library. More detailed information regarding this manuscript, as well as many of Lehigh’s other archival collections, is available in Special Collections’ archive guides.

The title of this work roughly translates to “Memory and plans of a preliminary draft for the completion of the Panama Canal.” Given the subjects covered and the rich illustrations, this work could be of particular interest to those in the Lehigh community studying civil engineering.

Front Cover

Front Cover

Physical Description

The manuscript is bound within stiff card paper covers of burgundy colored paper with gilt title and decorative borders. The pages are edged in red.  It is illustrated with three folded plans including two blue prints: Proyecto de construccion en túnel Plano,  Perfil longitudinal por el eje, and one lithograph by C. Ferreiro illustrating a tunnel.

Proyecto de construccion en túnel [Blueprint]

Proyecto de construccion en túnel [Blueprint]

Sección longitudinal del túnel; Sección trasversal del túnel [Lithograph]

Sección longitudinal del túnel; Sección trasversal del túnel [Lithograph]

Historical Background

The Panama Canal began construction in 1882 and was completed in 1914. This resulted in the creation of a highly prized trade route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the splitting of the American continents. As the earliest date recorded in the manuscript is 1892, it was written while construction on the canal was ongoing. The manuscript was considered a significant contribution to the engineering community as it was awarded a gold medal by the Academia de Inventores of Paris in 1894.

The author of this work, Gabriel Moreno Campo, appears to have been based in Spain and been involved in the iron and railroad business. Campo had also published plans for the creation of a transoceanic canal located in Colombia, the construction of which was awarded to an international company in 1876 but ultimately failed.

Lehigh Connection

The Bucyrus Company, which manufactured steam shovels and dredges, was headed by Lehigh alumni. The cement used in the Panama Canal building came from the Lehigh Valley and the steel gates for the five sets of locks used to construct the canal were manufactured by the company of Lehigh alumni McClintic and Marshall (LU CE 1888) in Pennsylvania.

Sages of the Pages