April 24, 2009

Library to celebrate partnership, collection

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A display and symposium May 4 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Morris Library will celebrate a partnership that has brought to the library such significant records as early manuscripts and correspondence from Alexander Graham Bell, John Dewey, George Herbert Mead and Ernest Mach.

Thanks to the partnership between the Hegeler Carus Foundation and Morris Library, the Open Court Publishing Co. records and collection are on permanent loan from the nonprofit foundation to Morris’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC). Blouke Carus, chairman of Carus Publishing, is the featured speaker for the 3 p.m. celebration at the Morris Library Auditorium. He’ll address the “Significance of Open Court Publications.”

The first donation from the collection came to Morris in 1968. The archival documents include the earliest complete records for the Open Court printing house, a publishing firm that pioneered the arena of philosophical and educational publications from 1886 to 1950. The collection features business records and editorial works, including holograph manuscripts, galleys and proofs. There also are correspondence and other materials relating to the books and journals published by Open Court. Some are typed documents while others are handwritten notes, and they all represent some of the most significant work of philosophers, scientists and historians in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th, according to Pamela Hackbart-Dean, director of SCRC.

Also speaking at the May 4 celebration will be David Koch, librarian emeritus, and Melissa Hubbard, rare book librarian at SIUC. The public is welcome to attend.

Edward C. Hegeler, an industrialist born in Germany, founded The Open Court Publishing Co. in 1886 in LaSalle. He had a passion for intellectual pursuits later shared by his son-in-law, Paul Carus. They were interested in the relationship between science and religion and believed in the fundamental unity of all things. They sought to promote and publish ideas about philosophical and ethical issues. This transformed Open Court from publishing small periodicals to printing classical and contemporary philosophical monographs. The company is one of the nation’s first academic publishing companies and many of the firm’s early publications and related documents are now at Morris Library.

The SCRC collects and preserves a variety of rare historical writings in a variety of subject matters, making them available to the community, scholars and public to advance scholarship and enhance the University’s mission. For more information about the Partnership Celebration or Special Collections at Morris Library, call 618/453-2516.