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Book Arts: Famous Individuals

Subject-specific lists of book arts materials available in Special Collections at the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library

Artists' books about African Americans

Detine Lee Bowers. The CORE of James Farmer. Stevens Point, WI: Arcadian Press, 2003. Haas Arts Special Collections Z232.A74 Z9 B68 2003 (LC)

This work gives a brief synopsis of the history of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) organized by James Farmer in Chicago in 1942. With 200 branches across the U.S., it became an important seed to the Civil Rights Movement.  Farmer organized “Freedom Rides” in the 1960s, where the riders often sang the song printed in the book “Which Side Are You On?”  The work was designed, printed and sewn by Caren Heft, proprietor of Arcadian Press.

Alan B. Govenar. The Blues and Jives of Dr. Hepcat. Racine, WI: Arcadian Press, 1993/1994.  Haas Arts Special Collections Z232 A74 Z9 G68 1993 (LC)+ Oversize

Dr. Hepcat (Lavada Durst) was the first African American DJ in Texas.  His show was on the air in Austin starting in 1948.  He played blues, big band, and other music significantly influenced by African traditions and African American performers.  He was most famous for his “jive talk” and in 1953 published a small pamphlet outlining the vocabulary and how to use it.  The original pamphlet was reproduced by Alan Govenar of Documentary Arts, Inc. (seen here and included with the artist’s book).  For the Arcadian Press edition designed and printed by Caren Heft, Govenar wrote a brief history of Durst.  Heft printed this text on brilliant yellow paper dyed by Heft to match the cover of the original pamphlet. Heft’s endpapers, composed of typographic ornaments, visually emulate the upbeat rhythms of jive talk.