Exhibit: The Gift to Sing: Highlights of the Leon F. Litwack & Bancroft Library African American Collections

I’m sharing this announcement of Bancroft’s new exhibit:

The Bancroft Library just opened its fall/winter exhibition, The Gift to Sing: Highlights of the Leon F. Litwack & Bancroft Library African American Collections. Leon Litwack is a historian and legendary professor who taught here from 1964 to 2007. He won the Pulitzer Prize for History and the National Book Award for his 1979 book Been In the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery. He has been collecting books relating to African American history and culture since the 1940s and his collection is now perhaps the best in private hands. Ultimately, it will be coming to The Bancroft Library but highlights, along with related material from Bancroft’s collection, will be on display until February.

Highlights from Professor Litwack’s collection include Bobby Seale’s copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, a copy of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave inscribed by William Lloyd Garrison and Ida B. Wells’ incredibly rare and important pamphlet on lynching, The Red Record.

Bancroft highlights include the first printing of Phillis Wheatley’s collection of poems from 1773 and early works printed in California.

The Bancroft Library Gallery is open from Monday to Friday, 10-4.


David Faulds
Curator of Rare Books and Literary Manuscripts

Exhibit: New exhibit features 2014 Library Prize winning project from History student Matthew Enger

The Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research display case on the second floor of the Doe Library now features an exhibit on 2014 prize winner Matthew William Enger’s Order from Chaos: Ethnogenesis, Direct Democracy and Statecraft in California,1948-1958.

Abstract: In the large corpus of academic literature addressing Californian politics in the 1950s, very little scholarship considers the relationship between the state’s robust system of direct democracy, exemplified by the initiative process, and the transformative demographic and economic changes that were then remaking the state. In the course of preparing this thesis, the author found that: (1) the fundamental political, economic and social incentives that sustained a culture of direct democracy in the 1950s have barely changed over the course of sixty years; (2) decades-long political battles centering on old age pensions and public housing peaked in the early part of the 1950s specifically through the initiative process, setting a firm precedent for related disputes in succeeding decades; and (3) white, established, middle-class Californians were psychologically motivated to pursue specific types of policy through the initiative process because of rapid demographic changes that were leaving the state and its cities poorer and less white than they had ever been before. One major consequence of having direct democracy at the onset of a demographic transformation is that elite economic interests and their political allies could usually exploit the initiative process to protect white privilege and maintain existing power structures to the detriment of marginalized communities. As demographic transformation continues to remake the face of the state, the kinds of public policies enacted at the ballot will more and more reflect the priorities of the younger, and more linguistically and culturally diverse California of today.

The full paper is available on eScholarship: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/39x5g29j

 The exhibit was curated by Jeffery Loo and designed by Aisha Hamilton.