Friday, October 21, 2016

What makes you happy?

A box of Belgian chocolate, a glass of wine at the end of a long day, beautiful weather... the list goes on. Henry Monnier, a French playwright, caricaturist and actor in the 19th century, compiled his lithographic prints into a monograph titled Les Petites Felicites Humaines, depicting various aspects of life that bring joy to humans. Each lithographic plate is attached to a small piece of paper to bind the book. According to Monnier, what makes us happy differs, depending on how old we are.

When you are a little baby, toys, candies and putting on pants are all you need to be happy.

Once you become a young adult, happiness becomes something more dynamic and interactive as it involves other people. A wild mistress, along with love songs, makes a youngster happy, as well as outspoken and honest friends would. Young folks don't abide by the established rules and wisdom, nor do they waste their time mulling over their future and wealth. Monnier notes that as a young man, he was so carefree and cheerful that he had enough energy to climb up the wall of a building, all the way to the sixth floor!

As time passes, restless spirit and vigor fade away and are replaced by more practical values. Bonuses, beautiful courtyards and house interior decorations will make you content in the middle ages.

When you become even older, nothing makes you more blissful than your family. Family holidays, dinners and little children will brighten up your day.

As a resident of Hanover, NH, what struck me the most was this last plate with an illustration of a several men gathered around a heater. What else can bring more bliss to your life than resting beside a warm heater on a cold day?

You can look at the lithographic plates yourself by asking for Rare Book PQ 2366 .M42 P43.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Minority Rules

Image of Fraternity "Balckball" box: voting sideUsually voting means that the majority rules, but not always. Sometimes organizations operate on consensus, meaning that everyone agrees on something before it moves forward. It sounds so nice and friendly in theory, but in practice it has often been used to exclude. One person's strident opinion can override the will of the rest.

This ballot box that was once used by the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity was the mechanism for assuring unanimous consent at the fraternity. New members were elected through a secret ballot using a specially designed box. On one side were black and white marbles, with a small hole connecting to the other side. Each member of the fraternity would place his hand in the box, select a white or black marble, and push it through to the other side. When the voting was complete, the members opened the other side of the box. If all the marbles were white, the new member was accepted, but, if there was a single black ball, the member was rejected. Ironically, this system where a minority could veto the majority was part of a system of institutionalized racism that could easily exclude any member because of his race or religion.
Image of fraternity "blackball" box with one black ball
One racist in the crowd was all it took.

This system was phased out in the 1950s and 1960s as the Dartmouth fraternity system worked to end the practice of blackballing prospective members based on race or religion.

To see the ballot box, ask for DO-37, Box 13146. It is cool and frightening at the same time.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Roy J. Snell

Image of five Roy Snell books from the collectionScanning the shelves of the Rare Book collections you see lots of authors you know and revere along with noted titles in first editions. It all drips of fame and oozes cultural capital. But there are two full shelves that are more puzzling: they contain over seventy books by Roy J. Snell. If you are wondering who Snell is, you are not alone. He doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry, and we have devoted over six feet of shelf space to his books!

It turns out Snell churned out adventure books for boys and girls. His books competed with the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series among others, and he got great distribution and solid sales. According to our Rare Book guide, the Snell books were given to the College in 1955 by Snell and the Friends of the Dartmouth College Library to be included in our substantial "Juveniles" collection.

As far as we can tell, we are one of the few places in the world with a complete collection of his novels. If you are searching for an overlooked popular author to write about, we have you covered. To find his books, search the catalog for "Snell, Roy J."

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Garden for the Rose

An amazing new book just came into our collections: Sensuite le jardin plaisance et fleur de rethorique (Paris: Jehan Trepperel and Jehan Jehannot, ca. 1515). This "Garden of Pleasure," is a collection of 15th century French poetry complied to serve as a kind of theatrical reading. Read or sung out, the verses would have carried its original readers on a journey through courtly love. It is the perfect companion to our Roman de la Rose manuscript.

The compilation is especially important for being the first to print many 15th century French poems. Included are Christine de Pisan, Charles d'Orléans, and François Villon among others.

Come in and enjoy the garden by asking for Rare PQ1307.J3 1502z.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Autumnal Attire

Description and image of Proper Sack SuitThe fall colors are popping and we are not likely to see many days with temperatures in the 70s until Spring. So, it is time to pull out the fall wardrobe. We are a bit fusty in our fashion, so we'll go with 1899.

Our guide is Gentlemen's Attire, Described and Illustrated, Autumn & Winter 1899-1900, from Lothrops, Farnham and Company. We will need a "proper sack suit" and fashion demands diagonal serges for daily wear.

Description and image of Three-Button Cutaway
For slightly more formal occasions, the three-button cutaway is a must.

Description and image of evening dress
And, if we head out later, our evening dress has to be the latest style.

Description and image of "Very Stylish Overcoats"
Don't forget, it is going to get cold soon, so we will top it all off with a "Very Stylish" overcoat!

To see all of the latest 1899 fashions ask for Rare HF6161.C44 L6.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The More Things Change...

Cover to "The Boston Slave Riot," 1954"On Wednesday evening last, about eight o'clock, Anthony Burns, colored, while walking in Court street, was taken into custody..." The aftermath turned into a riot for social justice on the streets of Boston because of differential treatment based on skin color. No, this wasn't last Wednesday, it was in 1854.

Anthony Burns was a fugitive slave who had fled to Boston after escaping from Charles Suttle in Alexandria, Virginia. He was captured by order of a U.S. Federal Marshal compelled by the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. By law, it was an open and shut case, but the strong abolitionist community in Boston took to the streets in protest and a riot ensued. Despite the social unrest. Burns was taken back to Virginia, then sold by Suttle. Burns's new "master" allowed a group of Bostonians, including Thomas Higginson, to buy his freedom. He went on to graduate from Oberlin College in 1858.

We just purchased The Boston Slave Riot, and Trial of Anthony Burns (Boston: Fetridge and Co, 1854), a pamphlet with a contemporary account of the arrest, trial and riots--all of which transpired in a week.  You can read the sobering account yourself by asking for 1926 Coll B678.

Friday, September 30, 2016

'Tis the Chinning Season

Four guys in suit sitting around a table, playing string instrumentsPrior to coming to Dartmouth, the word "rush" meant being in hurry and nothing more to me. It didn't take more than two weeks in Hanover for me to learn that the word "rush" has a different meaning. The process of meeting Greek house members to receive a bid to join a house was not always called rush though. Back in fall of 1897 when Douglas VanderHoof, Class of 1901, was a freshman at Dartmouth, boys dressed up and visited fraternity houses for "chinning."

During his time at Dartmouth, VanderHoof regularly wrote to his parents in Chicago, and I recently re-processed his papers to provide descriptions of the contents of his letters. Reading his letters was an eye-opening experience (glad he had a very legible handwriting!) as I was able to grasp a sense of Dartmouth experience in the early 20th century. Some aspects have survived through the passage of time whereas some others have faded and remain as a thing of the past. So what survived and what didn't?

The battle to eradicate hazing goes back further than people might expect. In the 1890s all freshmen were subjected to hazing regardless of their affiliation with a specific group. One night on September 1897, VanderHoof wrote to his parents that a horde of sophomores entered his room, blind-folded him, took him to a wood and told him to count to five hundred. In the meantime, the sophomores fled, and he had to find his way back to his room on his own in dark. VanderHoof's later letters hint that his parents became very concerned. So he sent a letter a few days later that then-President of the College, William Jewett Tucker, had "put a strict ban on hazing and the 'sophs' are very careful not to overreach the limit." He tried to dispel his parents' concern, saying that the hazing is "more of a humiliating than hurtful nature" and he is taking "it with a grain of salt as a part of [his] college training." He tried to turn this around as a chance to boast his reputation as a cool newbie, adding that only the freshmen who were well-known and popular were hazed and that was why no one bothered to haze his roommate.

Three guys asleep leaning on each other with champagne bottles lined in front of them
A year later, VaderHoof became a part of the class that arguably had done "more hazing than any other class in the history of college," according to the President Tucker. In October 1898, President Tucker determined to forestall a ban on hazing, and he wrote to his parents that "every member of the class was called up before the dean at different times and questioned."

Grading system was different back then as well. VanderHoof explains in details about the grade system in one of the letters to his mother: "E," which stands for "excellent," was the highest mark that a student could earn, equivalent of nowadays A. The next high mark was "VG," which stood for "Very Good," then G for "Good," which all sound more similar to a grading system one might find in an elementary school nowadays.

Theta Deltah Chi Fraternity Banquet invitation pamphletConcerns about deciding which Greek organization to join (or whether to join one at all) seems to be the most timeless aspect of Dartmouth experience. VanderHoof, just like many Dartmouth students in 2010s, dreaded the Chinning process. He wrote in October 1897 that he fell "greatly troubled" as brothers from different houses approached him. "I feel just like a young girl, I imagine," he wrote, "who has had several offers of marriage and likes all her suitors but sees some slight preference for one and hates to throw off the others." The most interesting aspect of VanderHoof's fraternity experience was his struggle to persuade his parents of the harmlessness of affiliating with a fraternity, and in fact, of the benefits it entails. He began one of his letter in November saying that he was "sure [his mother doesn't] understand the value of belonging to a good frat." Out of the 185 freshman students, only 89 received offers to join fraternities, the point which VanderHoof used to stress how fortunate and special he was. His efforts to appeal the positive aspects of Greek affiliation continued throughout the year as some of his letters highlighted his fraternity brothers' achievements, including their placement into the first division in a freshman math class.

Just like today, VanderHoof had to explain how the class year system is used in everyday language at Dartmouth. In one of his letters, he explained that he would be referred to as a '01, rather than a freshman.

As much as the letters inform us on the good ol' Dartmouth days, they also provide insights into nation-wide issues that are more particular to the time period. VanderHoof mentioned the Spanish-American War in his letters, noting that newspapers in Chicago cover the war more extensively than those in New England. Contrary to his initial conjecture that the war wouldn't last long, he was surprised that by April 1898, many boys on campus were receiving summons from their regiments. He added that the President Tucker seemed to consider this war as a more serious, long-term struggle. By May 1898, VanderHoof wrote to his parents that some students even left Hanover to join the war efforts.

Rauner also has the scrapbook (also known as membook) that he kept throughout his time at Dartmouth, which provide visual materials that supplement his letters to his parents. There are so much more about VanderHoof that this blog post could not cover - he was a music enthusiast who played banjo and mandolin in various performance groups including the Glee club and he worked at a biology lab, just to name a few.

To see the letters, ask for MS-470.