Skip to content

Ellen Gruber Garvey to Deliver Annual Breslauer Lecture

By Joanie Harmon

Scholar of material history and its role in social and cultural life to share “Hidden Histories: African American and Women’s Rights Scrapbooks.”

Ellen Gruber Garvey, professor emerita of English at New Jersey City University, will present this year’s Breslauer Lecture, part of the UCLA Information Studies Colloquium, on Thursday, April 21 at 3 p.m., PST. A scholar of women's writing, women's Literature, and authorship. Garvey will speak on “Hidden Histories: African American and Women’s Rights Scrapbooks.” The Breslauer Lecture is sponsored by Johanna Drucker, the inaugural Martin and Bernard Breslauer Professor of Bibliographical Studies in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA. 

“Ellen Gruber Garvey’s work was called to my attention by a student some years ago who was reading “Writing with Scissors,” which turned out to be an amazing study of scrapbooks and other historical works made through collage and cuttings,” says Professor Drucker. “I included work from that book in my syllabi and found it provocative and informative with regard to historical practices in 19th Century America, including work by abolitionists working against slavery. Garvey is a historian who makes compelling arguments from archival study and engagement with material texts but who is also passionately committed to issues of social justice and transformation.” 

Ellen Gruber Garvey is the author of two prize-winning books, "Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance," and "The Adman in the Parlor: Magazines and the Gendering of Consumer Culture," both from Oxford University Press.  Her articles on print culture include work on abolitionists’ use of newspapers as data, women periodical editors, Alice Dunbar Nelson’s suffrage scrapbooks, the recirculation of newspaper items, book advertising, and zines.

Garvey has published widely on topics related to the material history of books, documents, and artifacts and their role in social and cultural life. She has written on the book, “American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses,” which was created by Angelina Grimké Weld and Sarah Grimké, two sisters who were active in the abolitionist movement during the Civil War. The sisters, with Angelina’s husband, Theodore Dwight Weld, an abolitionist leader, compiled newspaper and broadsheet accounts of slavery to produce the book, which was first published in 1839.

Most recently, Garvey has been researching and writing on a New York based African American dealer in old newspapers and how his business helps us understand newspaper databases today. Her recent work on a forgotten Harriet Beecher Stowe story she found has led her into further digging in Stowe’s Florida writings. Professor Garvey's Ph.D. is from the University of Pennsylvania. She taught for 25 years at New Jersey City University and co-edited the journal Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy.

Professor Drucker, who has been in UCLA’s Department of Information Studies since 2008, is internationally known for her work in artists’ books, the history of graphic design, typography, experimental poetry, fine art, and digital humanities. Her professorship and the Breslauer Lecture is supported by a fund established by Bernard Breslauer (1918-2004) whose father, Martin, was a Jewish book dealer and emigré who fled to London from Germany in 1937. 

Bernard Breslauer was an esteemed antiquarian book dealer and considered one of the leading figures in the field of bibliographical scholarship. He moved to New York in the 1970s and helped build the remarkable collections at UCLA’s Young Research Library’s Special Collections through his connections with Franklin Murphy, the visionary Chancellor who also secured the funding for the Breslauer Chair. Only activated after Breslauer’s death, the Chair in Bibliographical Studies has the mission of ensuring that students in the MLIS program have opportunities for a direct experience of rare books and special collections. Professor Drucker is the inaugural Breslauer Chair. 

To attend “Hidden Histories: African American and Women’s Rights Scrapbooks,” register at this Zoom link.

For more information on the UCLA Information Studies Colloquium, visit this link.