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Archive | 2013

Chick Larsen Papers: Samples of clippings, pieces and tools

The Chick Larsen Papers give a local perspective to VCU Libraries’ expansive Comic Arts Collection with a look at the life and methods of an award-winning cartoonist.

From 1950 to 1954, Carl E. “Chick” Larsen (1923-1991) studied commercial art at Richmond Professional Institute (RPI), the forerunner of VCU. He later became an editorial cartoonist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where he worked for more than 35 years. One of his best-known creations was a color comic strip about a newspaper carrier. “Carrier-Toons” ran in newspapers nationwide from 1979-1984.

The collection documents Larsen’s career as a professional artist. Samples of his work include clippings of “Carrier-Toons,” some of his student work and pieces he created for various clients. It also contains some of Larsen’s art supplies–the X-ACTO knives and India ink that were common tools of the trade from the 1950s to 1980s. These pieces offer a look at the way cartoons were made in the pre-digital era.

To view the Chick Larsen Papers, visit Special Collections and Archives on the fourth floor of James Branch Cabell Library.

Image: Portrait of Chick Larson, 1978. Special Collections and Archives, VCU Libraries

Billy DeBeck’s Office Door: Cultural stereotypes of Appalachia

VCU Libraries has an extensive Comic Arts Collection. But it also has a few items that are not in the book or comic book format — like the office door of pioneering cartoonist Billy DeBeck, featuring an oil painting of one of his most beloved characters.

William Morgan DeBeck, 1890-1942, was a giant in the comic strip art form. To readers in the Jazz Age and Depression era, his characters were as beloved as Superman, Peanuts and Doonesbury became to later generations. Dialogue from Barney Google became part of the cultural syntax. Catchphrases from his strips included: “Horsefeathers!” “Heebie-jeebies,” “Jeepers Creepers!” “Bus’ Mah Britches!” and “Time’s a’wastin’!” DeBeck invented the moniker “Google” for his character. DeBeck’s personal papers and other materials provide insight into American cultural stereotypes of Appalachia.

Like many illustrators and cartoonists, DeBeck didn’t confine his art to paper; he painted Barney Google and his equine sidekick, Spark Plug, right, on his office door. The door was donated to Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library by DeBeck’s former secretary.

To see the door, visit Special Collections and Archives at Cabell Library.

Image: Special Collections and Archives, VCU Libraries

Nineteenth Century Collections Online: Digital archive

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Nineteenth Century Collections Online is a global digitization project working to make primary sources from the 19th century available to scholars around the world. These sources provide a personal look at an age of massive change and expansion, with the birth of industrialization and nationalism, increasing literacy and the growth of culture.

Nineteenth Century Online provides cross-searchable digital archives of newspapers, maps, photographs, ephemera and more. The topical archives include “Asia and the West: Diplomacy and Cultural Exchange,” “Photography: The World through the Lens” and “Science, Technology and Medicine: 1780-1925.” Four more archives are scheduled for release in 2014.

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Image: Nineteenth Century Collections Online

Poictesme: VCU student literary publications

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VCU has a long history of student publications, many of which are available through VCU Libraries. Now you can access the full archives of Poictesme, a student literary journal, through VCU Libraries’ digital collections.

Poictesme publishes undergraduate students’ prose, poetry and artwork once a year. The journal was started in 1980 by the VCU English Department, under the name The Writer’s Corner; it changed to Millennium in 1997, then finally to Poictesme in 2006. The current title pays homage to fantasy author James Branch Cabell, after whom the Monroe Park Campus library is named. A fictional country roughly analogous to France, Poictesme was the setting of many of Cabell’s works.

VCU Libraries now has digital versions of almost all issues of both Poictesme and Millennium and plans to add The Writer’s Corner in the near future.

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Image: Poictesme, VCU

The Vogue Archive: More than a century of cultural history

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More than a century of cultural history is easily accessible in image and text through The Vogue Archive. The Vogue Archive gives users digital access to the entire run of the U.S. edition of Vogue(1892-present) with its photographs, articles and advertisements. Comprehensive indexing allows for searches of keywords, materials, products, garments, designers, individuals and companies.

Students from a wide range of disciplines will find this resource useful, from fashion, interior design and art history to advertising, mass communications and gender, sexuality and women’s studies.

While many people think of Vogue as just a fashion magazine, in reality it presents a broad portrait of its era;Vogue documents both style and society.

From The Vogue Archive website:

“The contents of Vogue are obviously of central importance to the history of fashion, from the liberating modernism of Coco Chanel to the cross-gendered experimentation of Jean-Paul Gaultier and beyond. However, it is also a rich source for other areas of modern culture, providing a record of changing social tastes, mores and aspirations in the modern world, and encompassing literary works by Kate Chopin, Evelyn Waugh, Vladimir Nabokov and Carson McCullers, articles by Winston Churchill and Bertrand Russell, wartime photojournalism by Lee Miller, features on popular cultural figures of the day from Marlene Dietrich and the Beatles to Nicole Kidman and Beyoncé, and on prominent American women from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama.”

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Image: The Vogue Archive, VCU

Sykes Editorial Cartoon Collection: Political cartoon collection

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Ediorial cartoonist Charles Henry ‘Bill’ Sykes (1882-1942) drew barbed political cartoons often loaded with complex political commentary on Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, Germany and Japan and other major actors on the international stage in the years before the United States entered World War II. The Sykes Editorial Cartoon Collection contains almost 300 original cartoons of great value for students and researchers interested in history, political science, international affairs, art, art history and more.

Born in Alabama and graduated from Philadelphia’s Drexel Institute in 1904, Sykes drew as a freelancer and then worked for newspapers. In 1914, he became the first and only editorial cartoonist for the Evening Public Ledger. It ceased publication in 1942, the same year Sykes died. Sykes also had working relationships with Life, Colliers and The New York Evening Post.

Sykes’ cartoons focus on American reactions to the major events of World War II. They also offer insight into medium and method: he created early cartoons using the unusual patterns of coquille board for the shading effect and later transitioned to crayon-and-wash technique. The cartoons are available for view in Special Collections and Archives, or online in digital format, further augmenting access to Cabell’s outstanding collection of comic arts. The collection consists of 297 original editorial cartoons, three unfinished sketches, a U.S. War Bond poster and a U.S. Victory poster.

His most famous cartoon, “Madonna and Child A.D.1940,” depicts the ugliness of war. The image is of a mother and child wearing gas masks. It was published on August 13, 1940–the first day of the Battle of Britain.

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To view the collection in person, visit Special Collections and Archives on the fourth floor of Cabell Library.

Image: Sykes Editorial Cartoon Collection, VCU Libraries

Digital-Tutors: Online training library

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Digital-Tutors, a vast online video training library, presents professional instruction that is accessible and comprehensive. Designed by industry professionals, video tutorials assist artists and designers in developing skills and learning the latest techniques for two-dimensional and three-dimensional digital art, game development, video and video effects.

With more than 24,000 videos and constantly growing, Digital-Tutors is the largest resource of its kind with training that ranges from learning basics of a program such as Photoshop to advanced instruction for scripting in Nuke. Tutorials cover major design software as well as smaller, more specific programs. These include: Adobe design and photography software, Maya, Zbrush, Cinema 4D and many more.

Members of the VCU community first must create a member account and log in to our group.

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Image: Digital-Tutors website

Index Islamicus: Islam, Middle East and Muslim world records

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Where can you find information on every aspect of the Muslim world, from both Eastern and Western perspectives? Index Islamicus includes coverage of Islam, the Middle East and the Muslim world on topics such as art, history, literature, medicine, politics, religion and science. Coverage dates back to 1906 and is updated annually by the School of Oritental and African Studies in London.

Index Islamicus is searchable by author, journal and title, with access to more than 3,000 journals, plus book reviews, conference proceedings and scholarly monographs.

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Image: Index Islamicus

Psychiatry Online: Online mental health database

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Want the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders online? PsychiatryOnline is the place to go.

PsychiatryOnline is a portal with entry points into a variety of resources from the American Psychiatry Association. Among them are the DSM-5; DSM-IV-TR Handbook of Differential Diagnosis; and cases from DSM-IV-TR Casebook and its Treatment Companion. Other resources include psychiatric textbooks and journals. All of the materials are browsable by topic.

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*This is the direct link for DSM-5. Each section and item in the DSM-5 has a permanent URL as well. 

By Marilyn Scott, research librarian for education

Image:, Creative Commons

Rarely Seen Richmond: Never seen before sights

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Visitors to Capital Alehouse, a popular restaurant located in downtown Richmond, may have noticed some unique pictures of the city hanging on the walls. What they probably don’t know is that these pictures are actually prints of Richmond postcards that Virginia Commonwealth University has been collecting for years.

The images came from a digital exhibit called Rarely Seen Richmond that contains early 20th century postcards of the city. The exhibit was put up by Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library, and contains about 600 unique postcards that anyone can download and use for free – which is how Capital Alehouse got them.

“Both owners were from Richmond and wanted to incorporate Richmond into the restaurant,” said Kyle Johnson, the restaurant’s associate manager. “That’s when they found the postcard series at VCU.”

The exhibit began in 1998, when archives coordinator Ray Bonis put up 50 postcards that focused on Richmond architecture. Then, a few years later, a retired police officer called Bonis with an interesting offer.

“He said, hey, I’ve got a collection of about 2,000 postcards. If you want them, you can have them,” Bonis said. William Schuman donated the 2,000 postcards to VCU, and about 500 of them made it into the Rarely Seen Richmond exhibit.

The cards chosen from Schuman’s collection, as well as the original cards Bonis collected, are all from the same period.

“We stuck with the ones from about 1900 to 1930,” Bonis said. “They picked better scenes, and the color was more natural…. We also didn’t have to worry about copyright, which is the big thing if you put stuff on the Digital Library.”

Bonis called this period the golden age of postcards: lots of people were printing them, he said, and lots of people were buying – both for actual use and for collections like Schuman’s.

“I’d say about 90 percent were used,” Bonis said. “It’s kind of neat to see the writing on the back…. Sometimes they say outrageous stuff.”

But the real attraction of these postcards, according to Bonis, is the history of the images.

“I think the best thing about this is the architectural history,” Bonis said. “It gives people an idea of what Richmond looked like. A lot of Richmond is torn down now, and it gives people a chance to look at how things were.”

Tom H. Ray, the collections management coordinator at the Library of Virginia who worked with Bonis on a book about Richmond postcards, said he is especially fascinated by images of buildings that look very different today. He said some of his favorite cards show the capitol building in its original state.

“I would have liked to have seen the capitol before it had those additions put on and got whitewashed,” Ray said. “It’s the capitol building as Jefferson would have seen it.”

The images of city sights never seen before may be the most attractive thing about the collection, because Capital Alehouse is not the only venue interested in using copies of the postcards; Bonis said he gets requests to use the images three or four times a year. But Bonis is especially interested in the prints at Capital Alehouse.

“They’ve got a ton of our postcards,” he said. “I keep hoping to go down to the restaurant and mention to them that I scanned all these cards, and maybe I’ll get a free meal.”

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To view the collection in person, visit Special Collections and Archives on the fourth floor of James Branch Cabell Library.

By Caitlin Puffenberger, communications intern
Public Relations Office

Image: The Egyptian Building. Rarely Seen Richmond Collection

New England Journal of Medicine: Medical reporting history

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The New England Journal of Medicine has a history of groundbreaking medical reporting, including its coverage of the first demonstration of ether anesthesia, the first successful treatments of childhood leukemia and the role of aspirin in heart health.

Its archives, available through VCU Libraries, include more than 150,000 articles and 85,000 images from 1812 to 1989. The current subscription covers 1990 to present. The full-text of every issue can be searched, browsed and downloaded.

The New England Journal of Medicine has been in publication for two centuries and reaches 177 countries. According to its website, it is the most-cited medical journal in the world and the only one to win an award for journalistic writing.

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By Caitlin Puffenberger, communications intern 

Image: New England Journal of Medicine

Chronicle of Higher Education: University faculty resource

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The Chronicle of Higher Education offers national and international news, job postings, advice, facts and figures and more for university faculty and administrators. It also offers forums on topics like “Tech Talk for Befuddled Academics,” “Diversity in the Workplace” and “The Administrative Track.”

VCU Libraries faculty and staff can access The Chronicle using an iPad, smart phone, tablet or any computer located anywhere in the world. Simply create a free account using your “” email address at Account holders may download The Chronicle’s iPad editions at no cost.

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Image: Chronicle of Higher Education

Business Databases: Five business resources

These business and industry databases are a great resource for students of business, advertising and mass communications, as well as researchers interested in business trends, entrepreneurship and corporate work.

  • IBISWorld: Reports for all 723 U.S. industries categorized by NAICS include market size, competitors, forecasting, business valuations, benchmarking, business environment and global industry reports. A new module includes specialized industries such as forensic accounting services, popcorn production, psychic services, ice cream making machinery manufacturing, fantasy sport services and medical marijuana growing. Find It
  • Plunkett Research Online: Analysis and market research for industry sectors like trend analysis, statistics, organizations, company profiles and information for job-seekers. Plunkett covers some 30 industries plus Asian companies, Canadian industries, international companies and middle market companies. Find It
  • PrivCo: Business and financial data on major, non-publicly traded corporations, including family-owned, private equity-owned, venture-backed and internationally-unlisted companies. PrivCo pulls back the curtain on private businesses such as Subway, pinkberry, IKEA, J. Crew, Levis, Arby’s, Brooks Brothers, Twitter, Chanel and 80,000 more businesses that make up most of our major corporations. Find It
  • WARC: Global advertising and marketing trends, including market intelligence, case studies, conference reports, expenditure data, profiles of major brand owners, consumer insight and a collection of advertising campaign videos. This publisher’s portfolio includes Admap, Market Leader, International Journal of Advertising, Journal of Advertising Research and International Journal of Market Research (full-text). Find It
  • Best’s Library Center: Full-text insurance reports, credit reports and other in-depth insurance industry information and statistics. It also provides insurance industry news and a look at corporate changes dating back to 1819. Find It

Compiled by Bettina Peacemaker, business research librarian

Image: Creative Commons

British Periodicals: Coverage of publications from 1680 to 1930s

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British Periodicals Collection II contains comprehensive full-run coverage of popular and scholarly publications from the 1680s to the 1930s. This collection focuses on the culture and creative industries of Britain and consists of more than 300 journals. Coverage includes publications from the microfilm collections English Periodicals and British Periodicals in the Creative Arts as well as additional selected titles. Journals were chosen based on importance within the field of British studies and availability in American libraries.

Access to full-text primary source materials in indexed digital formats, such as British Periodicals, is changing the nature of teaching and research in the arts and humanities. Researchers can work directly with primary sources for assignments rather than solely relying on interpretive texts.

Multidisciplinary in its scope, Collection II brings the vital British art press directly to researchers. Subjects covered in this collection include literature, music, art, drama, archeology and architecture in Britain and beyond.

Researchers can search the full-text of each page of these publications previously unavailable online. Some 3 million pages are available in high-resolution facsimile images. Page images are available in both bitonal versions, for ease of reading on a screen, and grayscale versions, to provide a more authentic and detailed record.

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By Emily Davis, arts collections librarian

Image: Play Pictorial: Babes in the Woods, British Periodicals

VCU News Publications: 30 years of VCU history

VCU News

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Nearly 30 years of VCU history are represented in VCU Libraries newest digital collection, “VCU News Publications.”  The Office of University Relations produced these publications, which carried different titles over the years.

These periodicals tell VCU’s official story in news articles, features, calendars and images of students, staff, faculty and leaders. Departments and schools submitted articles and news items. Letters to the editor, editorials and formal messages from deans and the president are also found in the 542 issues in this online collection.

The first of these official news organs was published in May of 1972 as the weekly VCU Today. (It was preceded on the MCV campus by the Medicovan, published from 1948 until 1973.) VCU Today was published on an irregular basis, often monthly, until the 1980s when it became a bi-weekly.

The staff included professional writers, photographers and editors, who represented the views of the university administration and highlighted news that the school wanted publicized. By the 1980s, the newspaper was circulated to full-time staff on both campuses and was also made available in a number of VCU buildings. It was probably the institution’s best vehicle for communicating to the large university community.

In 1988, the newspaper became the VCU Voice. In 1998, it became the UniverCity News. In 2001, it became  VCU News. It was published online in 2002 and is today’s News Center.

The print issues are housed in the Special Collections and Archives departments in the Tompkins-McCaw Library on the MCV campus and in the James Branch Cabell Library on the Monroe Park Campus.

Dates for the publications:

  • VCU Today: 1972-1988
  • VCU Voice: 1988-1998
  • UniverCity News: 1998-2001 
  • VCU News: 2001-2002

Copyright for the materials in this collection is managed by the VCU Libraries. The use of these materials is subject to the stipulations specified in the VCU Libraries copyright page.

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Film and Television Index: Online media resource

Film and TV Index

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Film and Television Literature Index with Full Text is an exciting resource for film, television and new media research. Maintaining international coverage with a North American focus, this database provides comprehensive indexing and abstracts for more than 680 academic journals, magazines and trade publications, with full text entries for some 120 journals. Also included are book chapters, industry reports, Variety movie reviews (1914-present), and more than 36,000 images and movie stills. Through Film and Television Literature Index, researchers can explore the spectrum of media scholarship from theoretical aspects and technical elements to critical reception and popular culture impact.

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Image: Creative Commons

Freedom Now Project: Farmville 1963 nonviolent protests


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University Public Affairs launched the Freedom Now Project with this article:

“Virginia Commonwealth University is hoping for the public’s help in shedding new light on a pivotal moment in the civil rights struggle in Virginia with a new exhibit of 277 photographs taken during nonviolent civil rights protests in Farmville, Va., in the summer of 1963.

VCU Libraries has posted these images to the photo sharing site Flickr to create the Freedom Now Project, a group of 13 photo sets that provides a close-up look at the protests held in downtown Farmville.

The project’s aim is to provide insight into the experience of nonviolent civil dissent, and the response of a Virginia town to these demonstrations. As part of the project, the public is being invited to participate in the exhibit by sharing information they may have about people and locations and contributing personal remembrances about these historic events.

“The photographs in the Freedom Now Project make a significant contribution to our understanding of a very important event in the history of Virginia and the nation,” said Alice Campbell, a VCU Libraries digital initiatives archivist who is overseeing the project. “By sharing them on Flickr, we hope to reach a broad audience – which could be anyone from primary school students to researchers, citizens of Farmville, the commonwealth of Virginia, or anywhere in the world.” The article

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Image: Freedom Now Project