Library Acquires Science Fiction Collection from Regional Sci-Fi Enthusiast
December 07, 2017
A Moscow woman who pioneered Inland Northwest science fiction conventions donated decades of books, art, costumes and documents to the University of Idaho Library’s Special Collections and Archives.
U of I is one of just two research institutions in the Pacific Northwest to have a science fiction special collection of this breadth and joins a handful of institutions across the country that hold notable science fiction archival collections, including the University of Oregon, University of California at Riverside, University of South Florida, Harvard and Texas A&M.
“We are extremely pleased and honored to have this collection at the University of Idaho Library,” said Erin Stoddart, head of Special Collections and Archives. “The collection can support many academic programs and student organizations on campus.”
The collection was bequeathed by U of I alumna and longtime Moscow resident Victoria E. Mitchell, who died in April 2017. Mitchell was a published science fiction writer. Her first novel “Enemy Unseen” was a New York Times bestseller in 1990 and was one of a series of Star Trek-themed books she wrote.
Mitchell had a bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of California, Berkeley. She earned her master's in geology from U of I in 1980, and an MBA in 1981. Prior to her death, she was working toward a doctorate in environmental science at U of I.
From 1992 to 2011, Mitchell worked as a research support scientist for the Idaho Geological Survey, which is run through U of I. In October 2006, she received the Esto Perpetua Award from the Idaho State Historical Society in recognition of her work on Idaho mining history.
Mitchell was a member of the Palouse Empire Science Fiction Association. She and her husband, Jon Gustafson, were founding members and organizers of Moscow’s annual science fiction convention, MosCon, which began in 1979 and ran for over 20 years.
Gustafson was a writer and well-known science fiction and fantasy art expert and memorabilia appraiser. He founded the first professional science fiction/fantasy art and book appraisal service in North America. He died in 2002 in Lewiston.
The initial 325-box science fiction collection includes science fiction and fantasy artwork, illustrations and posters; science fiction memorabilia; clothing and costumes; records pertaining to local and regional science fiction organizations; manuscripts; and a large science fiction book collection that includes approximately 5,000 volumes.
For the past six months, a team of library faculty, staff and students have been unpacking boxes and vacuuming artifacts. Because of the collection’s size and condition, the collection initially was housed and processed in the Integrated and Research Innovation Center.
“This collection opens avenues of discovery for science fiction enthusiasts and many academic disciplines, as science fiction writing is multi- and interdisciplinary,” said Library Dean Lynn Baird. “The Mitchell Collection contains materials of social and artistic merit and is well-suited to a comprehensive university like University of Idaho that has strong art and science academic programs.”
At the end of December, the Mitchell collection will be moved into the U of I Library where it will be housed permanently and eventually inventoried. There it joins the university’s other collections, including the International Jazz Collections, Potlatch Corporation Historical Archives, James A. McClure papers, and institutional and state archives.
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About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at uidaho.edu