Current Exhibitions

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Exhibitions on display in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections can be viewed during its regular hours . Displays in the Great Hall can be viewed whenever Rush Rhees Library is open. Directions to Rush Rhees Library can be found here.

   Exhibition: All the Days of Her Life:                                                                                 
Amelia E. Barr, Readership, Authorship & Womanhood                                         




This exhibit features items from a collection of Amelia E.Barr (1831-1919) books and other materials, originally collected and described by Richard Minsky and acquired by River Campus Libraries’ Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation in 2017.

Amelia Barr’s writing is rarely read today but at the beginning of the 20th century she was one of the most popular woman authors in America and certainly one of the most prolific. Barr is also a model for perseverance in the face of adversity. Her career speaks to the determination and drive of a single woman of a certain age (her success began in earnest in her 50s) to gain fame, wealth, and artistic success.

The origins of this collection centered around the exceptional book cover designs of this prolific author, which range from Eastlake post-Victorian style, to Arts and Crafts, Japonisme, Art Nouveau, and Poster style, but have evolved into a deeper understanding of this talented and complicated woman. The exhibit touches on Barr as a woman, as an author, and on her popularity, as well as the beautiful covers that grace her books.

It is on view through March 16, 2019, in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections on the 2nd floor of Rush Rhees Library during department hours.

   Exhibition: Opening Cultural Borders With Translation:                                         
Ten Years of Open Letter Books




This exhibit commemorates and celebrates the 10th anniversary of the University of Rochester’s Open Letter Books and the transfer of its archive to the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation. Dedicated to publishing translations of international fiction, poetry, and essays for English-speaking readers, Open Letter increases access to works of world literature by opening cultural borders through the broadening of access to readers of English. The Open Letter Books literary manuscript collection includes drafts, publicity, proofs, and other documents that will shed light on the important work of this active press. Connected with UR’s Literary Translation Studies program, many UR affiliates translated works published by Open Letter Books.This is exhibit was guest curated by Kristen Totleben, Modern Languages and Cultures Librarian.

It is on view through March 16, 2019, in the Friedlander Lobby of Rush Rhees Library during library hours.


   Exhibition: Sit In. Walk Out. Stand Up.                                       
   University Activism, 1962-73

Activism logo



To describe the year 1968—a year of assassinations, riots, war, and protests for civil and social rights—as a turning point, both at the University of Rochester and around the world, would be an understatement. But causes and effects of 1968 should not be viewed without the context of that which came before and after.

At Rochester, the decade of 1962-73 changed our University no less than other institutions. Issues were both local and global. Policies were questioned and revised. Students and faculty protested directly and indirectly. Limits were tested and then retested.

Some events revealed omissions at the University—in equality, diversity, and self-determination; other events affirmed the University's well-established support of free speech and academic freedom.

As much as possible, this exhibition deliberately does not focus on any single event or individual. Rather than analyze, it hopes to promote discussion, to spark memories for those who were there, and to provoke questions from those who want to know what it was like.

The exhibit is on view through June 1 2019, in the Great Hall on the second floor of Rush Rhees Library during building hours.


   Exhibition: Lewis Henry Morgan at 200:                                       
   A Critical Appreciation   




2018 is the bicentennial of the birth of Lewis Henry Morgan (d. 1881), a Rochester attorney and founding figure in the field of American anthropology. Morgan was an internationally famous scientist who served as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His work was cited by Darwin, whose sons visited Morgan in Rochester. Morgan remains well known in anthropology for his studies of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) social and political organization, but his evolutionary approach to the history of human societies, a direct influence on Marx and Engels, has fallen into disfavor.

Morgan was a prominent citizen of Rochester, and a successful businessman who served in the New York State Assembly and Senate. He bequeathed not only his library and papers to the University of Rochester, but also a sizable estate, which he earmarked for the creation of a women’s college. Nevertheless, Morgan is hardly as well remembered locally as his contemporaries Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass.

This exhibit is part of a University of Rochester Humanities Project that aims to offer a critical appreciation of Morgan’s various legacies. Components of the project include: partnerships with community organizations; a speaker and film series; a research colloquium; public exhibits; and an innovative website offering digital resources for students, scholars and the public at large (

Exhibits dealing with Morgan’s legacies are planned for fall 2018 at the Rochester Museum & Science Center, the Rochester Public Library (Office of the City Historian), and the University of Rochester Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation.

This exhibit is on view through March 8, 2019, in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections on the second floor of Rush Rhees Library during department hours.