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Thursday, March 23, 2023

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A 1929 issue of the humor publication, <i>Campus Cacti</i>. A 1929 issue of the humor publication, Campus Cacti.

Laughter in the Library

A new exhibit in the library's Special Collections highlights humor in honor of Mark Twain.

Laughter isn't often heard in libraries, but a new exhibit in Special Collections is encouraging it.

Dedicated to Twain 

“Laughing Matters: Researching American Humor in Special Collections” honors the legacy of one of America’s greatest humorist, Mark Twain, by showcasing a selection of fantastically funny materials from the university's rare book, manuscript and archival collections.

Meant to complement the traveling exhibit “Mark Twain: An American Original,” now on display in Special Collections, “Laughing Matters” briefly surveys the many different collections and range of primary source types available to researchers interested in American humor. From comics and cartoons to satirical books and more, the small exhibit highlights many humorous items from Special Collections.

Highlighting several special collections

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the comics, cartoons and drawings in “Graphic Humor” are worth a thousand laughs, including:

  • 19th-century political cartoons
  • Editions from the Edward Gorey Collection, which highlights the illustrator's macabre works and dark humor
  • Fun selections from the university library's Comics Collection, including contemporary comics

Whether it's puns, nonsense or plain ol' silliness, kids seemingly laugh at anything. “Child’s Play” highlights the library's extensive children’s literature collection, including:

  • 19th-century chapbooks
  • Pop-up books
  • Colorful early editions by authors such as Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll 

From vaudeville to SDSU alumnus Art Linkletter, “Comedy Acts” features humor in the performing arts collections, including:

  • Early vaudeville scripts
  • Stage photographs from the Old Globe Theatre Collection
  • Sheet music and items from the Art Linkletter Collection 

Other sections feature items related to satirical literature, Aztec humor and Twain in Special Collections.

Hours and more information

The display is in the foyer outside Special Collections, and can be viewed during the department's open hours from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Tuesday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Friday. Special Collections is closed on weekends.

For more information on the SDSU Library and Information Access Special Collections and University Archives, visit the website.

Laughter in the Library