University Library News

Civility Project Webpage and Exhibit

Civility Project - Paper Takes

Radical Political Pamphlets in Special Collections Debuts in Civility Project Exhibit

The library was pleased to participate in the campus Civility Project. The project was developed in response to recent incidents of incivility across the UC campuses. The interdisciplinary and interdepartmental approach to the project brought many staff and students together to meet the three- pronged goals that included an exhibit using archival materials from the Department of Special Collections, a website "The Limits of Civility" and an original documentary theater piece based on interviews with members of the UC Davis community, "(Un)Civil (DIS)Obedience." The project was sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the UC Davis Office of the Chancellor, the UC Davis Humanities Institute, the Office of Campus Community Relations, the Peter J. Shields Library and the Department of History.

Paper Takes: The Power of Uncivil Words
About the Exhibit

Through the support of Associate University Librarians Helen Henry and Amy Kautzman, the Library participated by co-sponsoring the Shields Fellowship. History graduate student Jessica Mayhew was appointed as the Shields Fellow to study the radical political pamphlet collection in the Department of Special Collections and select examples for the exhibit, "Paper Takes: The Power of Uncivil Words." Working closely with the Special Collections staff especially Rare Book Librarian John Sherlock, Ms. Mayhew selected 34 pamphlets for the exhibit and wrote the text that highlighted these "extreme" pamphlets. The exhibit explores the explanatory power of uncivil words in order to identify and combat their circulation today. The pamphlets selected for the exhibit cover such topics as miscegenation, African Americans, the Equal Rights Amendments, Gays and Lesbians, and radical views on political candidates. The Department of Special Collections staff also worked closely with Jessica Loudermilk, the co-project director (with faculty member Carolyn De La Pena), advising on the preservation mounting for the safe exhibition of these rare pamphlets.   The exhibit beautifully displays the rare pamphlets in professionally designed exhibit cases.  This most recent use of the collection provides a public forum and greater visibility for the collection. Head of Special Collections Daryl Morrison comments that this is just the type of project that brings these unique resources to the attention of our students for study to gain an understanding of the impact these types of documents can have on society.

Library Support: Daryl Morrison, Head of Special Collections; John Sherlock, Special Collections and Rare Books Librarian; John Skarstad, University Archivist; Patricia Inouye, California State and Local Government Documents Librarian; Sara Gunasekara, Collections Manager; Liz Phillips, Manuscript Archivist; Jenny Hodge, Library Assistant II

On display in the Shields Library Lobby through Winter Quarter 2012. Previously displayed in the Walter A. Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center. (

About the Radical Political Pamphlet Collection

The Special Collections Department has sought, since its establishment as a department in 1966, to support research on many of the major political and social issues and conflicts of the twentieth century, including a collection of the often fugitive literature of protest, dissent and rebellion.   As part of this broader mission, the Department has also made an attempt to document the development of the American Far Right, including the published record of a number of groups on the extremes of political, social, cultural and religious discourse.  The collection has grown to become one of the best research collections on these topics in the United States, if not in the world.  The collection has been used by a number of UCD classes studying these issues, as well as supporting the research Of Davis faculty and scholars.

Published: October 28, 2011


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