Uncovering Stevens History: Behind the Books 2018

Our annual “Behind the Books” event in the Library took place on Wednesday night, April 4th and was a huge success. This event was co-hosted by the Stevens Honor Board, Gear and Triangle, and the Samuel C. Williams Library. Students volunteered to become tour guides for the Library that night as we opened up the Archives and Special Collections to undergraduates. 

First stop was the Mary Stuart Stevens Room which is on the first floor. Students learned about the inventive Stevens family, who were not only responsible for establishing the university, but also the city of Hoboken. The room, located on the first floor, is filled with portraits, personal items from the Stevens family villa, as well as an interactive display that chronicles the family’s history. 

Second stop was The Frederick Winslow Taylor Room which is dedicated to the esteemed alumnus and the “Father of Scientific Management,” (Class of 1883). The room has furniture, awards, mementos, housewares, facsimiles from Taylor’s archive, and photographs. The students were excited to learn more about Taylor and his ingenuity. Engineering student, Jose Angeles was quoted in the Stute newspaper on April 6th: “I love this event because I think it’s important to learn about our school’s history by seeing the actual contributions made by our alumni.” 

Another stop on the tour was the Lieb Memorial Collection of Leonardo da Vinci, the favorite room of student volunteer tour guide, Zach Calderola: “Once a year I come to the library just for this!” (from The Stute).  John W. Lieb graduated from Stevens in 1880 and two years later was selected by Thomas Edison to construct the first central electric station located in Milan, Italy. While spending twelve years working in Italy, he became extremely interested in Leonardo da Vinci. One of the highlights in the collection is the Divina Proportione, first published in 1509 and authored by Leonardo da Vinci’s math tutor Luca Pacioli. This early book includes illustrations by Leonardo da Vinci, and students were able to get a close look at this unique item.

In addition to the rooms, we had a display in Sam’s Place on the first floor. Link yearbooks and The Stute newspapers from the past were laid out so that students could page through on their own. Portions of a campus traditions exhibit were also on display. 

The “Behind the Books” event helps to not only engage students with the unique history and collections at Stevens, but also brings this history to life. The energy from the students was infectious, and many students were overheard that we should have this event more than once a year!