Library Insider

Archives & Special Collections Updates

While you may be familiar with Historic Pittsburgh or Documenting Pitt, the University Library System’s Archives & Special Collections has a trove of archives and special collections on a wide range of topics, and we’re eager to work with you to help you make use of them in your teaching and research.

Here are some of our more recent additions, that, as you can see, speak to the wide variety of content areas in which we collect:

“Cuaderno Avon” by Jorge Luis Borges

The University Library System recently acquired a manuscript notebook by Jorge Luis Borges called the “Cuaderno Avon,” dated 1950. The acquisition of this rare notebook penned in Borges’s hand from a private collection was facilitated by Daniel Balderston, Mellon Professor of Modern Languages and director of the Borges Center at the University of Pittsburgh. The addition of this exceptionally valuable item to the University of Pittsburgh’s Archives and Special Collections will contribute to the enrichment of the Eduardo Lozano Latin American Collection.

Jorge Luis Borges (born in 1899 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and died in 1986 in Geneva, Switzerland) was an Argentine short story writer, essayist, poet and translator, and is considered one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century. Described as Latin America’s “monumental writer,” Borges is best known for two short story works, “Ficciones” (Fictions, 1941) and “El Aleph” (The Aleph, 1949). Borges’s work has been well known in the English-speaking world since the publication of “Labyrinths” in 1962, the anthology edited by Donald Yates and James Irby for New Directions Publishing.  Borges’s work is often described as “compilations of short stories interconnected by common themes, including dreams, labyrinths, libraries, mirrors, fictional writers, philosophy, and religion.” 

“Cuaderno Avon” is an intact spiral notebook with the ‘Avon’ brand on the cover, which contains the following original autograph manuscripts by the Argentine writer: 

  • “La espera” (The Wait). Working manuscript of the short story with this title belonging to “El Aleph,” often discussed in relation to Hemingway and crime fiction, as well as with film noir.
  • “El escritor argentino y la tradición” (The Argentine Writer and Tradition). Notes and early versions of Borges’s most famous essay, which was collected in the second edition of “Discusión” in 1957. This manuscript is extended and completed in three separate loose sheets. 
  • “Problemas de la novela” (Problems of the Novel). Notes for a series of lectures on problems of verisimilitude, realism, psychological fiction and the modern novel.
  • Notes for a series of lectures in English on crime fiction, which was to include discussion of Poe, Chesterton and others
  • A fragment of a poem
  • A brief fragment about Montalvo and the Quixote of Avellaneda
  • Some final notes inside the back cover of the notebook     

Noga Taikan

Professors Mae and Richard Smethurst gifted the Noga Taikan, a significant five-volume set featuring prints about Noh drama, to the University Library System.  Created by master print designer Tsukioka Kogyo, the Noga Taikan depicts various scenes of Noh drama, a form of Japanese theater involving music, dance and drama. This work joins ULS’ other series of Noh prints including Kyōgen gojūban, an album of 50 prints inspired by kyōgen plays and Nōgaku zue, a rare five-volume set. This gift completes our documentation of the Art of Noh and the future digitization of this work will eventually provide unprecedented online access to three of the four intact series of Noh prints.

Bob Johnson Papers

The Bob Johnson Papers contain paper-based, photographic and audio-visual materials related to the Brooklyn-born, Pittsburgh-based, dancer/choreographer, actor and director. Johnson founded the Pittsburgh Black Theatre Dance Ensemble and served as a dance and drama lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh.  Additionally, Robert Johnson toured internationally as a dancer and participated in a number of local, Broadway, and Off-Broadway productions as an actor, choreographer, and director. Read more about the Johnson collection in Pittwire.

All of these materials are housed in Archives & Special Collections, which is one of Western Pennsylvania’s largest repositories for manuscripts, rare books, photographs, maps and audio-visual materials. More information about these and other collections, as well as options for contacting us, are online at the Archives & Special Collections website.


Jeff Wisniewski is director of communications and web services for the University Library System.