Browse Exhibits (14 total)

Costumes et Modes d’autrefois, Vol. 4: Modes et Manières du Jour 1798-1808.

Cover of Volume 4



     This particular volume is titled Modes et Manières du Jour 1798-1808 and is from the 1957 edition of Collection, costumes et modes d’autrefois series.  In it, Edmond Vairel, a 20th c. french illustrator and pochoir specialist, hand copied 24 of the 52 fashion plates created by Philibert-Louis Debucourt (1755-1832). These plates were originally published by Pierre Antoine Leboux de La Mésangère, who also published the Journal des Dames et des Modes (1797-1839), one of the first fashion journals for women in the Post-Revolutionary era.  The Debucourt plates consisted of not only the graceful and stunning illustrations of popular women’s clothing styles and accessories in this period but also offered a glimpse into the artist’s perspective, under the auspices of the publisher La Mésangère, of the manners and behaviors of late 18th-c. Middle-class French women in public and private settings. The choice to feature popular fashions from 250 years ago in 1957 was not only an appreciation for the art form of Fashion Plates from the past, but it might also have reflected contemporary politics of gender roles in mid-20th century as expressed through women’s fashions.

Exhibitor HSU profile

A Dictionary and Guide to Country Living in Early 18th Century England

The Dictionarium rusticum, urbanicum & botanicum, or, A dictionary of husbandry, gardening, trade, commerce, and all sorts of country-affairs...revised second ed.(1717) is as much a dictionary as a manual that describes how to build objects, how to identify plants and illnesses, and shows various types of equipment one might want to use on their farm. It is an unpaginated lexicon printed in double columns. The dictionary contains two engraved plates (one folding) and many woodcut illustrations that are used to augment the information in the text. The dictionary is variously attributed to Nathaniel Bailey and John Worlidge (abebooks). 

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American War Ballads

Having origins that date as far back as the Middle Ages, starting from 450 to 1450, ballads are one of the many forms of literary expressions that continue to remain in our world of academics.

In our Rare Books Collection you will find books, of varying sizes and lengths, that span from ballads (such as this exhibit), to old songs written in Old English. 

This exhibit will seek to show and interpret, on a deeper level, the origins of famous American ballads from the start of Colonial America up until the American Civil War. 


Drawings: A Critical and Chronological Catalogue


Drawings: A Critical and Chronological Catalogue is the first complete catalogue of renowned Dutch artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn's drawings. Spanning six volumes, the catalogue is author Otto Benesch's gathering and grouping of Rembrandt's numerous sketches. Dr. Benesch organized the series in a number of different ways including: separating Rembrandt's works into four major time periods, arranging the works by subject matter, and included students' works Rembrandt edited himself. Each of drawing in the catalogue have been painstakingly captioned by Dr. Benesch and include brief descriptions often relating the drawings to Rembrandt's corresponding works. This catalogue is the most complete collection of the Dutch artist's drawings showcasing his various studies and stylistic development throughout his career.

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Edward Ruscha Exhibit


Ruscha was associated with the Pop Art movement, working in: painting, printmaking,  drawing, photography, and film. Los Angeles and Southern California landscapes are central themes to his books. His artists books have influenced many other photography artists.

His photography is very straightforward and even “deadpan”, depicting subjects that don’t typically have aesthetic qualities. The scenes he captures are devoid of human life, instead, emphasizing structure and placement in the environment.

Artists started to view the form and functions of the book in a different way post-World War II(6). For example, Dieter Roth “disrupted the codex's authority by creating books with holes in, allowing the viewer to see more than one page at the same time”(7). Artist’s books dematerialized the art object and allowed a different approach to creating art. This also provided a forum to artists who were denied by traditional galleries(8).

Ruscha’s Artist’s books were intended to be a cheap, mass-produced commodity, fitting the theme of pop art, and are antithetical to the traditional artist’s books(3). Twentysix Gasoline Stations is the first Artist’s book of a series of 16 books and is considered the first modern artist’s book(2); it was originally sold for $3.50. Ruscha had signed some first edition copies of his books which he later said was a “mistake”(4). He probably wanted to avoid signatures as to not add the artist touch, which was another common theme for pop artists. Edward Ruscha states:

"I have eliminated all text from my books- I want absolutely neutral material. My pictures are not that interesting, nor the subject matter. They are simply a collection of 'facts', my book is more like a collection of readymades.....It is almost worth the money to have the thrill of 400 exactly identical books stacked in front of you"(4).

English Literature


A collection of old English literary works in our Rare Books Collection ranging in date from the medieval era to the nineteenth centure. With topics including romance, fantasy, and adventure, this collection captures the essence of English literature and offers the reader an intimate experience with the past as some of our books were published almost 200 years ago.

History of Humboldt Through its Architecture


This exhibition will be featuring books from Humboldt State University library’s special collection that highlight the history of architecture in Arcata and Eureka. These two cities have had a unique history that has contributed to their architectural styles. The following three books have been selected for this exhibition; Reflections of Arcata’s History by Susie Van Kirk, Touring Arcata’s Architecture by Susie Van Kirk, and Eureka, An Architectural View by Architectural Resource Group and Eureka Heritage Society. Each of these books explores HSU's neighboring cities history through its architecture. Each of this books and pages have been chosen for a specific intended audience of fellow HSU students and Humboldt County locals. Arcata and Eureka have such an interesting and unique history; you can see that when you walk through the Arcata Square or down the 2nd street of Old Town Eureka. Each building has a story and hopefully, this exhibit inspires you to explore those stories.

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Kabuki Costumes and Makeup

3 Painted Women

Kabuki is a form of traditional Japanese drama that emerged at the beginning of the Edo period (1603-1868). This exhibit will focus on the costumes and the make-up that the actors use and why it was so revolutionary at the time. The striking costumes, stylized acting and the use of many character male and female, yet played by male actors--this form of theatre was once considered Avant-Garde. 

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Music Books

The Northumberland Garland - 1.jpg

There has been a long-standing history of musicians writing down compositions to preserve them for later performances. However, the mass production of written music or sheet music didn’t become popular until the 19th century. Sheet music grew in popularity and had many similarities to books of the written words. Music books became highly ornamental during the 18th and 19th centuries, using previous styles of books for inspiration. For example; these books started to include illustrations similar to earlier ornamental manuscripts. The illustrations often accompanied the songs themselves for a pictorial representation of the lyrics, this is seen in The Northumberland Garland: or Newcastle Nightingale: A Matchless, Collection of Famous Songs. While sheet music consists primarily of compositions, there are other books of music that contain only words. Both of these style of music books is designed for the purpose of performance. Utilizing various types of musical notations within the text. These become popular with various songs especially those used for choruses. Through this paper became a common medium for representing compositions.

Nihon suisan dōshokubutsu zushū: Illustrations of Japanese Aquatic Plants and Animals

Nihon suisan dōshokubutsu zushū: Illustrations of Japanese Aquatic Plants and Animals

This is a unique set of books at Humboldt State. It was donated on behalf of a former associate professor of wildlife at Humboldt State, John Hammond Lewis and is comprised mainly of detailed  natural history illustrations. Commissioned in 1931 to commemorate the 50th year of the formation of the Fisheries Society of Japan Illustrations of Japanese Aquatic Plants and Animals is a comprehensive two volume set of native Japanese marine life and plants represented through a series of detailed illustrations by Kumataro Itō. Each volume is composed of full page colored plates each with its own guard sheet and for every plate there is a corresponding left hand page which provides bilingual descriptors of the aquatic life illustrated in Japanese and English. The credited author and illustrator is Japanese artist Kumataro Itō, Japanese: 伊藤熊太郎. 

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