100 Years of the Pulitzers: Celebrating our Humanity

Hosted by Penn State University Libraries

The Penn State University Libraries’ new exhibit commemorates the centennial anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize. Featuring Pulitzer-related materials from the University Libraries’ arts and humanities collections, “100 Years of the Pulitzers: Celebrating Our Humanity” will be on display through Aug. 30, 2017, in the Diversity Studies Room, 203 Pattee Library, on the University Park campus. The exhibit is free and open to the public during Pattee Library’s Arts and Humanities Library operating hours.

“100 Years of the Pulitzers: Celebrating Our Humanity” features the works of Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction and nonfiction writers, poets and playwrights who have championed the cause of social equality and democracy and who have significantly impacted American art and culture. Presenting more than 50 Pulitzer-winning display items, the exhibit draws from the Libraries’ rich assortment of book titles, as well as multimedia excerpts of Pulitzer Prize-winning plays, musical scores, fiction and poetry readings, and artist interviews.

“The University Libraries is the heart of the University, and this exhibit gives us the opportunity to showcase the incredible depth and diversity of our collections,” said Jeff Knapp, Penn State University Libraries’ Larry and Ellen Foster Communications Librarian and the exhibit’s co-curator.

The exhibit highlights current Pulitzer recipients, such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer in drama for the Broadway hit, “Hamilton,” as well as lesser-known authors, such as Laura Elizabeth Richards and Maude Howe Elliott, who were jointly awarded the 1917 Pulitzer for their biography of their mother, Julia Ward Howe, abolitionist, suffragist and writer of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Visitors to the exhibit can learn about the history and administration of the Pulitzer Prize, discover notable facts about its recipients, and become apprised of Pulitzer Prize controversies and historical milestones. Additionally, visitors have the opportunity to challenge themselves with a Pulitzer quiz, and explore a map of arts and letters winners who have been affiliated with Penn State or Pennsylvania.

A companion exhibit, “100 Years of the Pulitzers: Celebrating our Musicality,” is located near the entrance to Pattee Library’s Music and Media Center on the second floor of West Pattee Library. It highlights several Pulitzer winners for music and award-winning scores and recordings in the Libraries’ collections and will be on display through the spring 2017 semester.

The Pulitzer Prize was the brainchild of Hungarian-American newspaper magnate Joseph Pulitzer, who bequeathed several million dollars to Columbia University to administer the award. In 1917, Columbia University trustees ushered in the start of what is now considered one of the most prestigious national honors.

The Pulitzer Prize board receives more than 2,400 submissions annually. From this vast pool, Pulitzer judges select just 14 prize winners in the field of journalism, five total prize winners in letters, and one prize winner each in drama and music. The category winners are honored each spring at Columbia University’s New York City campus.

“100 Years of the Pulitzers: Celebrating Our Humanity” and “100 Years of the Pulitzers: Celebrating our Musicality” is curated by the University Libraries’ Knapp; Alia Gant, diversity resident librarian; Jose C. Guerrero, diversity resident librarian; and Pembroke Childs, information resources and services support specialist. The exhibit is part of a Penn State campus-wide commemoration of the Pulitzer Prize centennial, including events sponsored by the College of Communications, the School of Music, and the Center for Performing Arts, and supports the spirit of “All In at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion.”