Friday, March 16, 2018

Stimulating Reading

Typographic title page to Natural History fo Coffee, Chocolate, Thee, Tobacco.Most pamphlets published in the 17th century had the coffee-house crowd in mind as the audience. Coffee houses served as a kind of gentleman's forum for debate, and they would buy the latest tracts and have them available for their customers. These were the fodder for the political and social discourse that thrived in the coffee-houses. That is why we were excited to find this little gem. It is not an earth shaking polemic like one of Paine's tracts, but an almost self-referential pamphlet: The Natural History of Coffee, Chocolate, Thee, Tobacco (London, 1682). Added on is a tract on elder and juniper berries and another on making "Mum," an alcoholic drink made from wheat malt, oat malt and beans!

The favorite stimulants that get the lead billing were all still a little exotic in England. They were products of the New World or far off eastern lands. Their medicinal qualities are emphasized, surely making the gentlemen in the coffee houses feel enlivened by their good sense as they read, talked, and sipped.

Sorry, you can't bring your coffee or "thee" into Rauner, but you can enjoy reading about them by asking for Rare TP638.C53 1682.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Sealing Wax and other Fancy Stuff

Page opening from Thomas Chadbourne's medical recipe bookWe just bought a cool medical recipe book that was kept by Thomas Chadbourne, an early graduate of the Dartmouth Medical School (now the Geisel School of Medicine) who later set up practice in Concord. The notebook is from his days in Hanover and he attributed several of his recipes to Nathan Smith, founder of the Dartmouth Medical School.

While this is nice documentation of the early days of medical training at Dartmouth, it also says something about how doctors saved and organized information. Medical recipes were handed down from mentor to student, and kept for further reference. But the same recipe book that contains medicinal mixtures for "bone ointment," "whooping cough," and "cholera morbus" also has recipes for varnish and for sealing wax. In fact, the sealing wax recipe is right next to a note about the correct dosage of opium for asthma and other lung ailments. I guess that would be the "other fancy stuff."

This just arrived so it isn't cataloged yet, but it will be soon.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Accounting for Wheelock

Portrait ot Wheelock at his deskNone of Wheelock’s biographers, nor any of the historians of the College, ever mention Wheelock’s youth, other than to note his piousness and his attendance at Yale. This may not be surprising considering how thin the documentation for this part of Wheelock’s life appears to be. The earliest letter by Wheelock in Rauner’s collection is from December of 1733 shortly after his graduation from Yale.

But lurking in Wheelock’s papers is an account book that details Wheelock’s debts and credits for the years 1726 to about 1752. This makes the account book the earliest documentation of Wheelock’s life created by him. It would appear that the account book has been overlooked for some 250 years. This is not really unusual; accounts and finances are often viewed as ancillary when it comes to the historical record and it is true they do not shed light on the thoughts and dreams of individuals the way a letter or a diary might. What accounts do provide is a picture of how businesses or individuals managed their affairs, how labor was compensated, and what work a particular person was engaged in. In addition, they can be used to trace purchasing patterns, or document the everyday activities of a particular person or business.

In the case of Wheelock’s account book, it reveals some surprising things about his early life.

Two-pae spread of Wheelock's account book
18th-century account books were laid out as a two-page spread with the debit column on one side and the credit column on the other. The debit side recorded money received, or at least owed to the owner of the account book and the credit side recorded money the owner of the account was paying out for services or goods.

Let’s start with an entry from 1726 in the debtor’s column.
to one quart of roume 2-6 tow yard chinse      1 4s 9p
to tow boys hats      15s
to tow yards of silk at     8p 6s
to one gallon of molasses     8s
The items listed are just a partial transcription of a much longer inventory and they reflect goods that Wheelock must have been selling to the individual named in the account. The account book for the years 1726 to about 1730 consists of hundreds of lists like this in the debtor column.

Page of Wheelock's account book
In the creditor column, we find evidence that indicates that the young Wheelock was running a sloop back and forth between New Haven and (possibly) Oyster Bay, New York. Entries from 1726 to 1730 reference purchases he made to outfit the vessel and payment to individuals who were working on board the boat. Entries such as this one:
Jeames Douck Ceditor
for a set of blockse for a sloope
to fore days work a bord the vesel
a half day a bord e vesel
Wheelock, who was born in 1711, would have been a mere 15 years old in 1726. The account book indicates that Wheelock was in New Haven, Connecticut, during this time period. This places him away from home, which would have been his father’s farm in Windham, Connecticut, three years before he is said to have enrolled at Yale. New Haven, which is about 68 miles from Windham, would have been a long day’s ride, or more, by horse, so it is unlikely that Wheelock was commuting on a frequent basis.

So, what the account book tells us is that Eleazar Wheelock was living in New Haven engaged in the shipping and merchant business prior to and into the early years at Yale.

This is just one piece of the picture from this resource. Other evidence that can be derived from the account book include a sense of his income over time, how his activities changed when he entered the ministry, and how he made money off of slave labor, but those topics are for future posts.

To take a look at the account book, ask for MS-1310, Box 38.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A Long Time Coming

Franklin D. Roosevelt's inscription to the Dartmouth College LibraryWe just acquired something that was presented to us 78 years ago. It took a while to get here. It is a mimeograph, typescript copy of Franklin D. Roosevelt's January 3, 1940, State of the Union address--the version handed out prior to the actual speech. This copy is inscribed by Roosevelt: "For the Dartmouth College Library." But, it appears FDR did not send it directly to Dartmouth. Instead he gave it to his former law partner, and active Dartmouth alumnus, Basil O'Connor '12, presumably to pass on to Dartmouth at his next opportunity. I guess O'Connor forgot.

First page of State of the Union Address, 3 January 1940
O'Connor had an impressive career. Beyond being law partner with FDR, he was president of the March of Dimes and the American Red Cross. He was also an avid collector of Dartmouth ephemera. After he died, his estate sold off most of his papers, but donated his Dartmouth-related collection to us. We are not really sure of the life that this document led for the past 78 years, but it just surfaced and was offered to us by a manuscript dealer. It is now happily at the Dartmouth College Library awaiting cataloging

Here are Roosevelt's concluding thoughts:
In the spirit, therefore, of a greater unselfishness, recognizing that the world--including the United States of America--passes through perilous times, I am very hopeful that the closing session of the Seventy-Sixth Congress will consider the needs of the nation and of humanity with calmness, tolerance and cooperative wisdom.

May the year 1940 be pointed to by our children as another period when democracy justified its existence as the best instrument of government yet devised by mankind.
We wonder what our children will say about 2018 and democracy.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Map Stories

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words - this is certainly true if that picture is a map. When we think of what purpose maps serve, we often jump immediately to their use as tools for navigation, or finding things. We focus less on the stories a map can tell us. But whether we unfold a tourist's guide to find our way around a new city, or crack open an atlas while curled up in our own home, maps transport us to new, sometimes far off places, and help us navigate unfamiliar territories with confidence and excitement. And the details on a map - where boundaries are drawn and how places are named - speak volumes about the perspective and worldview of the cartographers and intended audience. Some maps make assumptions about landmasses or geographical layouts that are later proved false, but which provide a window into the way the world looked to those who, at the time, viewed the map as authoritative.

For the next several weeks in Rauner, we have an exhibit that explores this hidden potential of maps. Our cases examine maps as telling stories about perspective, speculation, and journeys. Juxtaposing, for example, relief maps of the White Mountains with Christopher Robin's map of the Hundred Acre Woods, Thorin's map from The Hobbit with an English seafaring chart, and Dante's circles of hell with maps of polar expeditions, each case considers one of the three themes across maps in different styles and across time.

All of our maps have exciting, nostalgic, intriguing, and wondrous stories to tell. To come and see some of them, stop by Rauner and head up to the Mezzanine level to find Map Stories: A World on a Page, open through April 13. If you can't make it in person to see the exhibit, you can read more about it online:

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Serious History

Elizabeth [I] Hears of the Death of Mary [Queen of Scots] Humor - and especially black humor - often sticks in the imagination in a way that a dry reading of a subject doesn't. The Monarchs of Merry England and More Monarchs of Merry England aren't exactly political cartoons, though the illustrations and text serve much the same purpose. Sometimes the juxtaposition of the comic imagery and the actual sordid details of the event make the reality all the more vividly memorable.

Does the execution of Mary Queen of Scots really seem like something to dance about? But you know it solved a lot of problems for Elizabeth I.

His [William the Conqueror] Soldiers Restrained from Taking Advantage of Victory GainedWas William the Conqueror restrained in his dealings with the local populace during his advance into England? Not so much really.

Another interesting thing about these images is the depth of knowledge the author assumes the reader has. Who was Isabella and why was it important that she not have any intended?

Isabella [of France], untrammelled by any Intended
For those of you hanging on the edge of your seats.....and after some quick research.... Isabella was the daughter of Charles VI of France. By marrying her, Richard II was attempting to consolidate England's claim to the throne of France. Despite what the imagery suggests, she was seven at the time and Richard died a few years later.

Ask for Illus R59mon and Illus R59mor.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tiny Treasures

If you've ever seen Rauner's Instagram, you may know that Tuesday is a bit of a special day when we post pictures of our coolest and littlest artifacts. We recently went through our most popular post of 2017 and discovered that our followers are big fans of these #tintytuesday posts, especially those featuring miniature books! And by "miniature," we mean really really tiny. The generally accepted definition of a miniature book is that it measures less than three inches, and many of the ones in the collection are somewhere around the size of a thumbprint. In cases where they fit comfortably in the palm of your hand, or slip into a pocket for easy transport, miniature books have a few claims to utility. Mostly, though, they're just a lot of fun, and often surprisingly elaborate and beautiful. For fingerprint sized books, they definitely rival their larger counterparts in aesthetic design!

In celebration of the completed cataloguing of our Madelyn Hickmott miniatures collection, and as a nod to our many miniature book fans on Instagram, we've put together a case exhibit of some of our favorite miniatures! Come by and check it out in the lobby of Rauner. Less than half of the collection is in the case, so if you're especially curious, come in to the reading room and ask at the front desk to see the others, including Miniatures 25, shown above.