From Medieval Alchemy to Tennessee Moonshine

Woodblock from Ulstadt's 1525 work

Woodblock from Ulstadt’s 1525 work, Coelum philosophorum seu de secretis naturae liber

Special Collections continually seeks new areas on which to focus acquisitions. We look for topics with regional significance that have potential for broad impact. One such area is the ancient art of moonshining. Bootlegging has long been the subject of storytelling in the hills of the Appalachian Mountains. The illegal distillation of spirits was a popular trade in Tennessee well before prohibition; and when legal distilleries were forced to shut down in 1920, the demand for illegal spirits dramatically increased. Although moonshine could be a toxic combination of many ingredients which might include paint thinner, antifreeze, and even embalming fluid, thirsty locals were eager to imbibe. After prohibition ended and legal distilleries opened their doors, the moonshine tradition carried on in Tennessee. Perhaps the most famous moonshiner was Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton who continued to practice his craft until 2009 when he was arrested by federal authorities. He even self-published guides and taped videos documenting his process.

But the craft of distillating spirits began long before prohibition or Popcorn Sutton and can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece and Egypt. Special Collections recently purchased an extremely rare first edition of one of the earliest texts documenting the practical process of distillation written by Philipp Ulstadt, a physician and professor of medicine in Switzerland. Ulstadt was closely connected with the German alchemist Hieronymus Brunschwig who in 1500 published Liber de arte destillandi (The Book of the Art of Distillation). In 1525, Ulstadt published his seminal work, the Coelum philosophorum seu de secretis naturae liber. Denuo reuisus & Castigates (The Book of the Secrets of Nature, or of the Heaven of the Philosophers). The manual served as the standard authority on the preparation and use of distillates for nearly a century. This first edition is very rare with the only other copy in the United States held by the University of Wisconsin, Madison. It went through more than twenty editions, and was translated into German and French. Ulstadt’s ideas reappear in the later writings of other prominent scientists including Konrad Gesner and Andreas Libavius.

Ulstadt’s work was influential largely due to his clear and concise technical descriptions of the processes of distillation and the apparatus used. Other alchemy guides of the time were intentionally written obscurely or even in code to keep the information hidden from those who might abuse it. His was the first accurate and accessible summary of distilling methods. In addition, he discussed the practical use of the remedies for physicians and apothecaries and lists recipes for spiced wines and clarets. His detailed directions were accompanied by the same type of woodblock illustrations used by Brunschwig. Many of the illustrations depict the apparatus used in the distillation process. During the middle ages, astrology, alchemy, and pharmacology were all considered to be genuine sciences and were seriously pursued by physicians. Ulstadt’s practical text helped define boundaries between the practices of astrology and chemistry paving the way for the establishment of medicine and chemistry as partner disciplines.

With the assistance of the B.H. Breslauer Foundation, Special Collections was able to secure the purchase of this unique volume. The foundation was established and endowed by the late Dr. Bernard H. Breslauer with the main purpose of giving grants to libraries that collect rare books and manuscripts in the United States. Now this influential rare piece can serve as the cornerstone for Special Collections’ growing assembly of materials documenting the history of moonshine and distillation from its earliest practitioners to bootleggers in the communities of Appalachia.

Celebrate National Week of Making, June 12-18

What do computer coders, tinkerers, woodworkers, and crafters have in common?  They are all “makers.”

obama_robotic_giraffeLast June, President Obama hosted the first-ever White House Maker Faire and issued a call to action that “every company, every college, every community, every citizen join us as we lift up makers and builders and doers across the country.”  This year, the White House has announced a “Week of Making” from June 12-18 to coincide with the National Maker Faire.

Students, faculty, and staff can make and create in the UT community with the support of 3D printing at Pendergrass.  The Library supports UT makers, including agriculturalists, veterinarians, art students, and engineers, who watch their visions come to life as digital 3D models are built layer upon layer.  This fall, Pendergrass plans to implement an upgraded 3D printer with even greater capabilities.

3d_print_objectsWant to learn more about 3D printing and how you can print a model at Pendergrass?  Check out our 3D Printing Guide to see how the process works, view pictures of past projects, or contact the Library to submit a model for printing.  3D printing is available in Pendergrass temporary summer location in Brehm 243.

But you don’t have to be an expert in 3D printing to be a maker.  Makers are anyone who funnels ingenuity into all sorts of amazing projects, developing creative solutions, strengthening communities, and even bringing innovations to market.  Maker culture includes engineering-oriented pursuits like electronics, robotics, and 3D printing, as well as more traditional activities like metalworking, woodworking, and arts and crafts.

Want to support makers and DIY-ers in our community and across the nation?  Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • Post photos of a current project you are working on using #NationOfMakers on Twitter.
  • Share the plans for your project online through maker platforms so others can make, modify, or remix it.
  • Explore the MAKE website for new project ideas.
  • Volunteer to be a mentor for someone who wants to learn a new skill, or find a mentor to teach you.
  • Organize a maker roundtable in your neighborhood to expand making activities.

Return books at Book Drop or in Brehm 243

Students and faculty can return library books at two locations this summer:


1. Book Drop outside Pendergrass Library 

Return books in the blue book drop outside the Pendergrass Library location 24/7.  A library staff member will pick up the books each morning and return them for you.  The book drop is located to the right of the external library entrance in the Veterinary building facing Joe Johnson Dr.

relocation map arrows border

2. Service Desk in Brehm 243 

Stop by our temporary summer location in Brehm Animal Science Room 243 (computer lab) and return books at the service desk.  Library hours in this location are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.  While you’re here, you can also check out a Leisure Reading book, use the computer lab, or get research or technical assistance.

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information on our temporary summer relocation.

Faculty: Options for detecting plagiarism available

plagiarism_detectionThe University of Tennessee’s two-year subscription for iThenticate plagiarism detection software expired on March 29, 2015, and your account associated with this trial subscription was deactivated. If you or your department wishes to use plagiarism detection software to assist with your publishing, you have several options to choose from.

If you are interested in continuing to use iThenticate, the company offers a variety of inexpensive purchasing options that you or your department may want to consider. iThenticate helps faculty avoid “cut and paste” errors that might be unacceptable in funding proposals or scholarly articles.

Plagiarism detection services are available for free or for a minimal charge from a variety of other sources. See this LibGuide for a list of Anti-Plagiarism Software options. Some free options include:

Plagiarism Checker

Plagiarism Software


New online exhibit on local foods


The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) has long focused on the best ways to get food from the farm to our tables. The National Agricultural Library (NAL) documents USDA’s interest in local foods in its newest online exhibit, “Mailboxes, Mom and Pop Stands, and Markets: Local Foods Then and Now.”

The exhibit has three main sections: a review of the “Farm-To-Table” Movement of the early 1900s, a survey of Roadside Stands and Farmers Markets, and a list of current USDA local food initiatives from the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Project.

Are you new to the idea of local foods and want to learn more? The exhibit includes an overview of the “local foods” concept and a glossary.

Do you shop at the farmers market, buy local produce at the grocery, or grow your own fruits and vegetables? Explore the online exhibit to learn more about the history of the local foods movement and how it can benefit the environment and economy.

Visit UT Farmers Market, held Wednesdays from 4-7 p.m. at UT Gardens on Neyland Drive through October 21, 2015. Or search Pick Tennessee Products to find your nearest farmers market.

Photo courtesy of Meagan Perosha.

What is Creative Commons?


Anytime you create something – a song, a piece of art, a research paper – you hold the copyright to that work. This means creators have control over the permissions granted to others to access, edit, and share a work.

If authors want to give people the right to share, use, and build upon a creative work, consider publishing it under a Creative Commons (CC) license. CC licenses are the standard way to give people permission to share and use research or creative work.

CC licenses may be limited (non-commercial use only, for example) or allow people to access, share, and edit work freely, as long as they give credit to the creator or researcher.

Why is Creative Commons so important? Copyright can make it hard to legally copy, paste, edit, and share information online. CC licenses support the ideal of universal access to research, education, and culture. Scholars have access to hundreds of millions of works under CC licenses that they can use, edit, and build upon in their own work.

Check out the State of the Commons to see how CC licenses increase access to creativity and culture.

SpringerLink database: 4 things you should know

springerlink logo

The SpringerLink database provides scientific, technical, and medical information in over 2,500 full-text journals and 12,000 e-books. Journals and e-books cover the fields of biomedicine, life science, animal science, clinical medicine, earth and environmental science.

The SpringerLink collection includes veterinary medicine and animal science journals, for example Veterinary Research Communications.

Check out this tutorial or the YouTube channel to learn more about SpringerLink. Visit SpringerLink through the UT Libraries website to get full access to the database resources.

Here are four things to know about SpringerLink:

1. Search and Browse Journals

Find important information about a journal, including a brief description, publication dates, and the number of volumes and articles published. Type your keywords into the “Search within this journal” box to search articles within that journal, and then refine your search by discipline.


2. “Look Inside” for Access

Choose “Browse Volumes and Issues” and click on an article title to read the abstract, download the PDF, or export the citation. Click the “Look Inside” image for full access to the article for UT students and faculty, or a free two-page preview for everyone else. See closely related articles and supplementary material for each article.


3. Keep Updated with Article Alerts

View the latest articles that have been published in a journal. Register for Journal Updates or subscribe to an RSS feed to get email notifications of new research. The Online First feature lets you access peer-reviewed articles well before print publication.


4. Authors: Considering publishing an article with Springer?

Click “About this Journal” to learn about the aims and scope of the journal, instructions for manuscript submission, copyright information, and the journal’s impact factor from Journal Citation Reports. See Article Metrics like citations and social shares for individual articles.


Several articles have been published in SpringerLink by University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UITA) authors, including Raul A. Almeida in Animal Science, Debra L. Miller in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Mathew J. Gray in Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries. See Springer’s Authors’ Rights Policy on archiving in the UT Digital Archive TRACE and other authors’ rights Springer allows.

Considering publishing an e-book, or have you been approached by another publisher for an e-book?

Compare what they offer with Springer. Springer has a No Digital Rights Management (DRM) policy that is author and reader friendly, and results in a better user experience and increased e-book downloads.

Kick off summer reading with Pendergrass Leisure Collection

leisure reading books

Good news for summer readers! You can check out some of the newest books from our Leisure Reading collection at Pendergrass Library’s temporary summer location in Brehm Animal Science Room 243. Popular fiction, fantasy, suspense, romance, and nonfiction books are available.

Visit our Relocation Frequently Asked Questions to download a complete list of the books available for checkout this summer. You can also view a map to the Brehm Computer Lab and learn more about library services available at our temporary service point.

To see all the books in Pendergrass Leisure Reading collection, check out our Goodreads account.

Use Virtual Browse to explore Library collections online


There’s nothing like the serendipity of browsing the stacks and discovering that one book that is the perfect reference on your topic. But now that the Pendergrass collection is inaccessible for summer, how can you browse the stacks?

This is where “virtual browsing” in the Libraries’ online catalog comes in!

If the search box on the Libraries’ homepage leads you to a promising title, you can browse adjacent titles in the call number sequence.

After initiating a search, you should see the Virtual Browse tab listed on the brief record for any title having a call number.

Click Virtual Browse to view a virtual shelf of book covers. The virtual bookshelf allows you to browse up to 100 items to the left and right of the entry. The bookshelf displays items in the call number sequence and includes e-books and books from all locations including Hodges and Music Libraries. That’s even better than browsing the stacks!

If you want to access a book from Pendergrass collection, place a request with Interlibrary Services. You can pick up your book at Pendergrass temporary location in Brehm Animal Science 243 or at Hodges Library.

Register for an ORCID researcher ID this summer

Take time this summer to register for an ORCID or Open Researcher and Contributor ID.  Publishers, funders, and institutions will all ask for your ORCID if they haven’t already.

Why researcher identifiers, and why ORCID?

There are over 40 researchers with the name “S. Smith” at the University of Tennessee alone.  A researcher’s name isn’t enough to reliably identify the author of an article published in a journal or a data set uploaded to a digital archive like TRACE at UTK.

Why ORCID? It is an open source, community driven solution to reliably connect researchers with their work.


ORCID stands for Open Researcher and Contributor ID.

The ORCID initiative focuses on solving the name ambiguity problem by creating persistent unique identifiers and linking mechanisms between different ID schemes and research objects.

See these guides for more information on ORCID and ORCID research support at UT.

Distinguish yourself in 3 easy steps:

1. Register your unique ORCID identifier at

2. Add your information to ORCID and include your ORCID identifier on your webpage, when you submit publications, apply for grants, and in any research workflow to ensure you get credit for your work.

3. Use your ORCID ID.  Enhance your ORCID record with your professional information and link to your other identifiers (such as Scopus or ResearcherID or LinkedIn).

The ORCID profile of a sample researcher.

The ORCID profile of a sample researcher.

ORCID at UTK: As of April 2015, 510 ORCID registrants have email addresses.

ORCID is quickly becoming the community standard among researchers across all disciplines. Since ORCID began in 2012, over 1.2 million researchers have registered for over 7 million works. UT researchers will easily recoup the time spent registering for an ORCID and adding their works to the ORCID record.

See this blog for directions for getting an ORCID and using SCOPUS Wizard to import your citations.

For more information please see Peter Fernandez ( 865-974-2886 or Ann Viera ( 865-974-9015.

Altmetric for ORCID: Install the Altmetric bookmarklet to see the impact of articles directly in ORCID Records.


Are you interested to see the impact of your or others’ works?  Altmetric collects mentions of scholarly articles from all across the Web by gathering attention from newspapers, blogs, social media, and more.  Now you can see how many times an article has been mentioned using Altmetric directly in ORCID Records.

Install the Altmetric bookmarklet on your browser to quickly see the score metrics of works.  If you are reading a paper online, simply add the bookmarklet to your browser’s bookmarks toolbar, and get article-level metrics with a single click.  Click here to learn more about Altmetric.

If you are reading a list of papers in ORCID Records, just click the Altmetric bookmarklet to see score metrics for each article.  The Altmetric logo will appear next to the article with basic stats; then click the logo for more information.

See these instructional videos on why Altmetric is important, how to use the Altmetric bookmarklet, and how Altmetric works with ORCID.