Special Collections puts together exhibits which showcase our recently processed collections, collection highlights, and student projects. Our display case is located in the hallway on the second floor of Doheny Memorial Library, outside room 206.
You may find a sneak peak of current exhibits as well as an archive of past exhibits below. Enjoy!


Blurred Lines
Curated by Sue Luftschein

"Blurred Lines," a new display on the second floor of Doheny Memorial Library, examines the often-collaborative nature of the literary art objects known as artist books. Selections range from hand-painted, one-of-a-kind designs to multidisciplinary typographical experiments. The works shown were produced by the Otis School of Art and Design, Scripps College Press, the artist collective Organik, and Santa Cruz book artists Peter and Donna Thomas. 


From there to here, Jennifer Graves, Janet Kupchikm, Leslie Ross-Robertson and Jamie Russom 2013     

































Special Collections Exhibit Celebrates "Wonderland" Sesquicentennial

A new exhibit in USC's Doheny Memorial Library celebrates the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland." Oxford mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (pen name Lewis Carroll) first published the iconic novel in 1865. It has since been retold in over 125 languages and adapted for film, stage, fine art, and other media. The exhibit showcases various adaptations of the novel, as well as original handwritten manuscripts and art from the original print edition. Stop by the Special Collections display case on Doheny Library's second floor to follow Carroll’s journey to "Wonderland."

Photos by Abby Saunders


































!VIVA LA CÁMARA! (Through December 16, 2015), DML Ground Floor Rotunda

Every uprising has eyewitnesses, but not all are as well documented as the Mexican Revolution. In the decade from 1910–1920, while Mexico experienced an unprecedented level of violence and upheaval, local and foreign photographers flooded the countryside to document the country’s painful transition from a repressive dictatorship to a modern society. Images in the media played a crucial role in communicating the rapidly changing social and political landscape. Photographer and entrepreneur Agustín Casasola followed the unfolding events, creating the most important visual archive of Mexican history in the first half of the 20th century. His son Gustavo continued his legacy by creating his own archive, overseen today by the Fundación Gustavo Casasola.

Viva la Cámara includes material drawn from the collections of the Gustavo Casasola archive and the USC Libraries Boeckmann Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies. Among the items on display are pictures of legendary figures of the Mexican Revolution, such as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, as well as ordinary people who are symbols of the popular struggle—men, women, and children whose names are lost to us. Together, these images tell a story of a time in Mexico’s history that continues to shape the country’s cultural and political identity a century later. 










When Windmills are Giants

Curated by Barbara Robinson

Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote has captivated readers ever since its first volume appeared in 1605. The novel traces the adventures of a Spanish hidalgo who believes he’s living in a chivalric romance, seeking the favor of his Dulcinea and encountering imaginary foes along the way. In displays of rare illustrated editions from the USC Libraries’ L.A. Murillo Cervantes Collection, When Windmills Are Giants follows the knight and his companion Sancho Panza as they crisscross the countryside with comical—and at times devastating—results.

Dr. Luis Andres Murillo, who received his B.A. and M.A. in Spanish literature from USC, donated the collection to the Boeckmann Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies in the USC Libraries' special collections. You can learn more about the exhibition and Cervantes resources at the university by visiting librarian Barbara Robinson's Cervantes LibGuide.















Special Collections Exhibit Honors Late USC Alumnus, Professor Leo Buscaglia

Curated by Claude Zachary

An exhibition of materials from the USC Libraries' Special Collections honored the late Leo Buscaglia, a USC alumnus and professor who earned the nickname "Dr. Love." Buscaglia graduated from USC with a BA in 1950, later earning his master's degree in 1954 and a Ph.D. in language and speech pathology in 1963. He served on the faculty of the USC School of Education from 1965 until his retirement in 1984.

After one of his students committed suicide in the late 1960s, Buscaglia created Love 1A, a not-for-credit class at USC that became an instant hit. Following the success of the class, Buscaglia published the best-selling book Love and became a highly sought motivational speaker. 

The exhibit—curated by University Archivist and Manuscripts Librarian Claude Zachary and Yvonne Brathwaite Burke Archivist Michael Hooks—on display April - July 2013 included rare materials from the USC Libraries' Leo F. Buscaglia Archives, including a page from a hand-written manuscript, photographs, correspondence, and a first edition of his 1972 book Love.














All Politics is Local

Curated by Sue Luftschein & Michael Hooks

Just in time for Election Day, an exhibit in Doheny Memorial Library (November 2012 - January 2013) explored the history of political campaigns in California through rare items from the USC Libraries' special collections. Photographs, pamphlets, buttons, and even an uninflated balloon tell the story of elections in Southern California, from the 1960 presidential election that brought the Democratic National Convention to Los Angeles to USC alumna Yvonne Brathwaite Burke's successful 1992 bid for a seat on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

The USC Libraries' special collections include the papers of several prominent L.A.-area politicians, including Burke—the first woman and first African American to serve as an L.A. County supervisor—and Alphonzo Bell, Jr., who represented Los Angeles in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1961 to 1977. The USC Libraries are also home to Jerry Brown's gubernatorial papers from his 1975–83 tenure as California's governor.












The History of the USC Seal

Curated by Susan Hikida

What do the torches on the University of Southern California seal signify? This exhibit in Doheny Memorial Library explores the history of the seal through items from the USC University Archives.

When USC first began using an official seal in 1884, the design featured a palm tree and a scroll bearing the university's founding date, 1880. In 1908, the seal was designed to include now-familiar shield and three torches. It then went through several iterations, which are documented through diplomas, bulletins, letterhead, and other documents from the USC University Archives.












70th Anniversary of the Internment of Japanese-Americans March 1942

Curated by Dace Taube

Seventy years ago this month, the U.S. government forcibly relocated Japanese Americans across the West Coast to internment camps. Now, a new exhibit on the second floor of Doheny Memorial Library remembers the Japanese American internment through rare books, photographs, and other items culled from the USC Libraries' Special Collections. Curated by Dace Taube, 70th Anniversary of the internment of Japanese-Americans March 1942 also includes a set of pamphlets recently discovered at the Grand Avenue Library by Andreas Zachrau. 


Civil Rights: A View of the Struggle

Curated by Deirdre Feehan (2/2012)

Rare books and other items related to the African-American civil rights movement are now on display in the USC Libraries' Special Collections display case. The exhibit, titled Civil Rights: A View of the Struggle, coincides with Black History Month (February in the United States) and features a collage of black-and-white photographs, press clippings, and other documents chronicling the struggle for equality in the United States. The collage also includes items from the USC University Archives, including a reproduction of a Daily Trojan front page, that document the experience of black students at USC. 














150th Anniversary of the Civil War

Curated by Susan Hikida (2011)

2011 marks the sesquicentennial of the beginning of the U.S. Civil War. To commemorate the historic occasion that divided a country and pitted neighbors and friends against one another, the USC Libraries have culled many Civil War-related items from Special Collections and put them on display on the second floor of Doheny Memorial Library.

Organized by senior library assistant Susan Hikida, the display featured a number of books pertaining to the War Between the States, including the 10-volume set of Francis Trevelyan Miller’s Photographic History of the Civil War (1911). Other highlights of the exhibit included ambrotype and carte-de-visite photographs; letters written by soldiers on both sides of the conflict that documented surprisingly similar experiences; and a diary kept by Confederate Army Private Samuel J. Smith in which he documented the death of his brother, his own battle wounds, and his witness to the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864.

Hikida has also provided transcriptions of the letters and diary. One sobering diary entry that reflects the realities of war reads simply,

1864 Friday Apl 15
John Rainy was
shot by accident
by James Drury.












91st Anniversary of Women's Suffrage

Curated by Katie Richardson and Rachelle Balinas Smith (8/2011)

Ninety-one years ago on August 26, 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified that the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution had been duly ratified, guaranteeing women the right to vote within the United States. A new exhibit curated by archivist Katherine Richardson, Celebrating the 91st Anniversary of Women's Suffrage, features materials from the USC Libraries' Special Collections related to the struggle for women's voting rights.

Among the items on display were placards from the libraries' Amy C. Ransome Collection on Women's Suffrage, rare books, letters, and photographic prints. The exhibit also addresses the debate over women's suffrage; among the items was a pamphlet by George S. Patton, Sr. (father of the famous World War II general) titled "Why Women Should Not Be Given the Vote."










Rare Polymathic Books in Special Collections

Curated by Michaela Ullmann and Rachelle Balinas Smith

Special exhibition commemorating the launch of the USC Academy for Polymathic Study. Items on display included rare books and other materials related to the historical polymaths Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Isaac Newton.
Special Collections' latest acquisition, a first-edition of Goethe's Zur Farbenlehre, was among the featured items. The book, translated into Theory of Colours in English, is the work from which the Academy for Polymathic Study's color wheel logo was drawn.