Home Official News Releases Drake Citizens Arise! series features ‘John Adams Unbound’ exhibit

Drake Citizens Arise! series features ‘John Adams Unbound’ exhibit

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Unknown artist, John Adams, undated.
CONTACT: Tory Olson, 515-271-1834, tory.olson@drake.edu

“John Adams Unbound,” a traveling exhibition that explores the personal library of one of the nation’s founding fathers, opens at Drake University on Wednesday, Oct. 28. 

The exhibit and related series events, which are free and open to the public, will be held in the Cowles Library Reading Room, 2725 University Avenue.

This exhibit is part of Drake’s “Citizens Arise!” series, a multi-year initiative that aims to inspire students, teachers and citizens to responsible citizenship. Its goal is to encourage all to learn about the history, development and uses of the democratic process as an instrument for managing the challenges of the 21st century. 

Believing that an “ample and well chosen Assortment of Books” could serve both intellectual and political purposes, President John Adams (1735-1826) assembled one of the greatest private libraries in early America. 

The traveling exhibit is based on the gallery exhibit of the same name mounted by the Boston Public Library in 2006, the first public display of Adams’ complete 3,500-book collection. The John Adams Library has been on display at the Boston Public Library since 1894.

Including photo reproductions of many of Adams’ books and some of the president’s personal effects, “John Adams Unbound” gives viewers an insight into a founding father wrestling with intellectual and political ideas throughout his life. 

Adams’ career included time as a lawyer, where he defended British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre. He went on to represent Massachusetts at the Continental Congress, where he served on the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence. Adams was also elected the second president of the United States.

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Gordon S. Wood will deliver a lecture as part of the series on Nov. 5.
The exhibit will be on display through Dec. 11 during regular library hours from: 
  • Monday through Thursday: 7:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. 

  • Fridays: 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

  • Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

  • Sundays: 11:45 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Two additional events will take place in conjunction with “John Adams Unbound” and held in the Cowles Library Reading Room.
  • Thursday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m.: Gordon S. Wood, Alva O. Way University Professor Emeritus of History at Brown University, will give a talk based on his latest book, “The Purpose of the Past: Reflections on the Uses of History.” Wood taught at Harvard University and the University of Michigan before joining the faculty at Brown in 1969.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m.: Beth Prindle, manager of the John Adams Library Project at the Boston Public Library and curator of “John Adams Unbound,” will give additional insights into the exhibition. Prindle holds degrees from Stanford and Harvard and oversaw all content and development of the John Adams Library companion Web site, www.johnadamslibary.org, which provides access to digital copies of Adams’ catalog and books.
“John Adams Unbound” has been organized by the Boston Public Library and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. This traveling exhibition has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: great ideas brought to life.

For more information about “Citizens Arise!” and to view a complete list of events, visit citizensarise.drake.edu or contact Claudia Frazer at 515-271-3776 or claudia.frazer@drake.edu