Thursday, March 10, 2016

Classic Lit vs. Lusty Wenches

Recently the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald posted a "Throwback Thursday" article from March 11, 1951 about the then Dubuque County Attorney, John L. Duffy, ordering the confiscation of a few books from the library in conjunction with an obscenity case.

The article can be accessed via microfilm at the library and soon you will be able to search articles digitally.  Thanks to a old Google project, you can read the first page of the article here and the second page here.

The obscenity case was picked up in Time magazine and published in the April 2, 1951 edition.  You can come to the library and read the article; we have bound copies of Time magazine going back to 1936.

One of the books cited in the news article and Time magazine happens to be our April 17, 2016 book discussion selection, A Stretch on the River by Dubuque's own Richard Bissell. Bissell's book was selected along with three French and English classics so the grand jury would have "something to make comparisons with."  In 1951, A Stretch on the River was on a restricted list at the library and not given out to children. Today anyone with a library card can check out a copy. There are several different covers of the book out there; the one to the left seems to be from 1959.  If this was the 1951 cover, you can imagine why it might have been considered "obscene."  

Bissell himself commented on the case in his book "My Life on the Mississippi or why I'm not Mark Twain"

If you are interested in more of Richard Bissell's works, you can place a hold on many of his items here.  

Our microfilm room is available anytime the library is open. We have a large collection of Dubuque newspapers on film, a few as far back as 1836.  Stop by the Recommendations Desk for help finding a Bissell book, and come to the Reference area to browse magazines and newspapers both past and present.  

~ Amy, Adult Services. 

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