Cassie Brand, Curator of Rare Books for Washington University in St. Louis, stopped by to speak with Nancy about the Olin Library and the Rare Books Collections at the University.
Cassie Brand: Curator of Rare Books Olin Library at Washington University
Cassie Brand has been Curator of Rare Books at the Washington University Libraries since 2017. She enjoys sharing rare books with others through outreach programs, teaching classes, and curating exhibits. Her research focuses on the intersection of the book as a physical and cultural object and on the histories of book collecting and libraries. Cassie received her library degree from Indiana University in 2011 and is currently working on a PhD. Cassie’s dissertation, which is in progress, is tentatively titled “How Books Became Rare: The History of Special Collections in America 1880–1940.”
Among the topics discussed is the rare copy of the Declaration of Independence held in the library's collections.
When the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections opened in 1962, the Washington University Libraries owned a small rare book collection, the finest pieces of which had been donated by St. Louis collector William Keeney Bixby. Now, the Rare Book Collections include over 70,000 printed pieces and represent all the disciplines the University Libraries collect.
The Rare Book Collections include books from all Special Collection areas. The collections’ primary strengths are in the areas of literature; the material culture of the book, including the history of printing, graphic design, and the book arts; and aspects of American and world history.
Spanning seven centuries of written and visual communication, these collections support teaching and discovery across the University and are freely accessible to students, scholars, and visiting researchers.
Dan Reich, Curator & Director of Education at the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum, stopped by to talk with Nancy about the mission of, and the happenings at, the museum. After 22 years at the museum, Dan Reich will be retiring soon.
Dan Reich. A photo from the museum's archives, depicting a Dachau Death March.
Among the topics discussed is the upcoming expansion of the museum. Set to open in mid-2022, the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum will quadruple the space of the existing facility to 35,000 square feet. The new facility will fuel the Museum’s mission to preserve the legacy of the Holocaust, teach about the Museum’s many purposes, and empower visitors to make the world a more tolerant place by rejecting all forms of hate, racism, and bigotry.
An artist's rendering of the upcoming expansion, set to open in mid-2022.
Also discussed is the moving story of Ben Fainer, Holocaust survivor and co-author of "Silent for Sixty Years." Ben Fainer spent the entire war as a Nazi prisoner, surviving for six years in six different camps. After losing his mother, three siblings, and over 250 other relatives in the Holocaust, Ben was liberated by American soldiers while on a final death-march in the spring of 1945. Ben didn’t just survive, he thrived. He was able to put his tragic childhood behind and live an incredible post-war life. Ben became a speaker at the museum, sharing his story to honor the victims of the Holocaust. Ben passed away in 2016.
One of the aspects of Ben's story that is discussed is a bracelet... Ten years ago, a bracelet was uncovered in Germany that was made by Ben Fainer in his youth in a concentration camp. After Ben's passing, his family donated it to the museum to honor him. The bracelet will be part of the exhibition in the upcoming expansion.
Ben Fainer shares his story with students before his passing.
To hear stories from other Holocaust Survivors, click here.
Tom Ridgely, Producing Artistic Director of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, stopped by to talk to Nancy about the 2021 festival its adjustments due to Covid.
The Festival this year includes a main stage Shakespeare in the Park performance of King Lear, which stars Tony, Grammy & Emmy winner André De Shields and is Directed by Carl Cofield. King Lear will run June 2nd through June 27th in Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park.
Also discussed, is the 2021 touring production of Othello, and the Shakespeare in the Streets program, which will focus this year on The Ville neighborhood. Shakespeare in the Streets is a "grassroots theatrical experience that invites St. Louis neighborhoods to tell their stories. A Festival-selected creative team leads the neighborhood in developing an original play based on one of Shakespeare’s works—a play with themes that reflect the community’s character."
Nancy and Tom also discuss the history of the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival.