Date: January 18, 2008
Contact: Lindsay Gladstone
Governors State University
Phone: (708) 534-7090
Fax: (708) 534-8399
For Immediate Release
University Park, IL, January 18, 2008 - For more than three decades, actress Ann Birk Kuper entertained audiences throughout the Chicagoland area on stage and over the radio airwaves. Her one-woman shows brought alive plays and readings as she wore costumes representing the many eras and cultures she portrayed.
Kuper’s extensive costume collection is now joining her vast collection of plays and readings at the Governors State University Library. Her daughter, Joanne Zimmerman of Homewood, and her son, Alan Kuper of Ohio, have donated costumes that once recreated Mary Todd Lincoln, Noel Coward heroines, Chinese princesses, and roaring twenties flappers.
“These costumes represent a rich history of artistry and beauty,” said Diane Dates Casey, Dean Library Services and Academic Computing. “We are thrilled to have them join the Kuper Collection of plays, programs, and news clippings previously donated to the library by the family.”
The costumes were delivered to the library in the original suitcase that housed them for many years as they traveled with the actress from performance to performance.
According to Zimmerman, “The costumes were all hand made for my mother by a wonderful dressmaker. They are very detailed and delicate. My mother was a little woman.”
An initial review of the collection revealed costumes made of lace and silk with matching shoes, purses, hats, shawls, and fans. They represented several centuries of styles and various cultures. Matching book covers allowed the actress to hide her lines in the details of her costumes.
“The fabrics are very delicate and will need attention and preservation. We hope to be able to properly display the costumes with the literary works they represent in the future,” explained Dates Casey. “The Library will seek grants to enable us to present and protect the collection effectively.”
The Governors State University already serves as an effective information resource. It houses more than 430,000 volumes, series back files, and documents. It also has over a million volumes of microforms and more than 26,000 volumes of audiovisual materials. It maintains 1,900 serial subscriptions, 75 journal indices, full-text databases, web-sources, and technology services. The GSU library is also linked to libraries around the state offering limitless access to resources and serves as a national depository of state and federal documents.
“Private donations such as this add to the library’s ability to serve as a resource for the entire community and to preserve cultural, historical, and social information and archives,” said Dates Casey. “We are very grateful to the family of Anne Birk Kuper for their thoughtful donation.”