Friday, April 24, 2015

A Work in Progress

You can search for Dartmouth College photographs wherever you are and download them to your device of choice. On the Rauner Library home page you can search Photo Records, the work of the college photographers, though only those from this century are digital and ready to be downloaded. You can also search through the Photo Files. These photographs are arranged topically and date from the beginning of photography.

Searching the images is typically by topic or keyword. For example, search for "Dartmouth Hall" in Photo Files and up come 1665 images. Try using the four digit number in the first catalog entry from that initial search: "0663."  That limits the results to just the photographs in folder "Dartmouth Hall Opening." Here's an image of the crowd from that day.

Both Photo Records and Photo Files are works in progress. The Photo Records images are added to on a regular basis as we receive new images from the college photographer. The Photo Files images are also regularly being added to as we scan the more than 100,000 images represented in the collection. As of this post, approximately 34,000 images representing topics through "Lacrosse, Womens" are available.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Samuel Bradley Wiggin

"The South, for the next century, is doomed. I see no hope for it. The Devil has a mortgage on it and means to foreclose," proclaimed Samuel B. Wiggin in 1873, in a letter to his mother. Wiggin, a student at Dartmouth College, took a leave of absence from Dartmouth in November 1873, and traveled from Boston to Lexington, Mississippi to teach school. In a series of letters to his mother, Wiggin describes his journey, which took him to New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC.,  and Cincinnati. At nineteen, Wiggin is excited about the prospect of teaching and chooses not to teach in the "white school in the village" but rather in a "colored one" outside of town. After his arrival in Lexington, Wiggin first resides at the "Carpetbag Headquarters" above Jordan's Store, the unofficial meeting place of the Northerners in Lexington. He is heartily welcomed by the other "carpetbaggers" and in his first letter from Lexington to his mother he writes that he had a "pleasant" trip and that he will miss the cities of the North despite the fact that they are "dirty and smoky. "This [the North] is the country for a young man and not the South. Here a man must go up and down with the fluctuation of the cotton." He had also observed "the intense feeling of hatred with which the southern whites" regarded the carpetbaggers. "Within the past few days I have seen southern women walk twenty feet out into the street to avoid passing under the Stars and Stripes."

Mississippi had been the second state to secede from the Union and the last to return. It was also one of the states where 55 percent of the population was black. Wiggin was most likely recruited by the Freedman's Bureau (Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands), which had been created in 1865 to assist the freedmen and the defeated white population. The Bureau supplied clothing, food and fuel, built schools and tried to protect the civil rights of the freed slaves. Wiggin's letters are very descriptive. They are at times benevolent towards the black population, but at other times overtly racist:
A negro is and never can be the equal of the white. My scholars have not one third that power of the mind of white children a the same age. Nor do they have that desire to learn… They are like their parents thick-sculled, dull of comprehension and slow to learn.
In his letters, Wiggin expresses the ambivalence toward freed blacks typical of many Northerners of the time. He did not believe in slavery, but he had little faith in their ability to thrive in the United States: "I'm inclined to think that God made him to live in Africa, where no white man can live." His collection of letters offers disturbing and fascinating insights into Reconstruction era views on race.

Wiggin leaves Lexington in March 1874. By that time he had had enough of the South and yearned to be back home in Boston. He returned to Dartmouth and graduated with the class of 1875. After graduation, he studied law and practiced in New York City and, later, in San Francisco. In 1881, he married the author Kate Douglas. Wiggin died suddenly of a cerebral apoplexy in 1889, at the age of 35.

To read all the letters in this small collection ask for Ms-236.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Diary of a Young Translator

If you ever read The Iliad in high school, you might have Richmond Lattimore ‘26 to thank. This Dartmouth grad and Rhodes Scholar translated both of Homer’s classics into English, and his versions are widely regarded as some of the best around. He had an incredibly successful career in academia, but what’s more incredible is what he left behind. Rauner has a small collection of his personal journals and translations, and they are unbelievable.

One of the items we possess is his handwritten translations, line for line, of The Iliad chapters 15-22.386. The writing is perfect, with every line representing a line of the text and even this handwritten draft includes detailed line numbers along the margins. Moreover, the draft is hardly corrected; he occasionally crosses out or moves words around to change the meaning of a phrase, but other than that, he sticks to his notes. The pen color changes quite often, so it seems he would sit down and translate around 40 lines on a regular, consistent basis. It’s incredible to look at the control he has, both in the neatness and correctness of this draft. Every stroke is exact and unwavering.

The library also houses his journal from 1938a small moleskine-like notebook that contains a variety of notes. The book starts with Greek translations, with both the Greek and English texts printed painstakingly in pencil and corrected over in pen. He occasionally changes the direction in which he writes, so you have to keep turning the notebook over to read it. There are daily diary entries from his travels in Europe, collections of his own poetry, which are also neatly written by hand, as well as more work from his Iliad translation. Certain pages just have notes about stress patterns and messages to himself about translation.

Check out Lattimore’s papers by asking for MS-503. A short guide to the collection is available.

Posted for Maggie Baird '18.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


150 years ago this week, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.  Walt Whitman responded to the tragedy in a way that many Americans remember each year--though not necessarily on April 15th. Rather, when they catch their first scent of lilac in the spring air.

"When lilacs last in the door-yard bloom'd" was added to Whitman's Drum-Taps along with "O Captain! my Captain!" and other poems as a "sequel." The rest of the book had already been readied for press, so the additional poems were printed as pamphlet bound in the end of the book. Drum-Taps is a memorial to the Civil War, and the sequel an added memorial to Lincoln. The poem turned out to be one of Whitman's most popular. The opening stanzas evoke loss while celebrating the regeneration of spring.
When lilacs last in the door-yard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,
I mourn'd... and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring;
Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.
To read it in its original, ask for Val 816W59 P8.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Petitioning to Dance

Eleazar Wheelock’s vast collection in the Rauner Library contains everything from his early sermons to personal letters and bills, but also includes much of the College’s early history. The charter may be the most emblematic symbol of the College that is represented, but other documents also reveal the early character of the students.

A petition from November 1772 on behalf of the Sophomore and Freshmen classes was submitted to Wheelock by James Hutchinson, Samuel Stebbins, and John Ledyard (yes, that Ledyard ). After a lengthy opening paragraph to butter the president up, the boys requested to be allowed “to spend certain Leisure hours allotted us for the relaxation of our mind--in such sort as, stepping the Minuet & Learning To use the sword.”

This petition is particularly interesting in the context of Moving Dartmouth Forward. One of the more controversial policies of President Hanlon’s plan is the increase in academic rigor, with many students protesting that this institution is rigorous enough. These protests predate the speech, however, by nearly 250 years. Apparently it has been a part of Dartmouth’s character, since its founding, for students to find the college too demanding. Perhaps the students now don’t feel the need to duel and learn to dance, or even call Hanlon “our Patron and our Guide,” but their protests certainly are reminiscent of this petition.

Ask about the document at MS-1310, Folder 772640.

Posted for Maggie Baird '18

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

By Jupiter!

Some years ago while making clamshell boxes for the Library, I came upon this logbook of the H.M.S. Jupiter, which is one of my favorite items in our collection. Admittedly I have interest in weather and transportation, and these topics intersect in the weather entries found in ships’ logs. But this logbook drew my attention as a physical object. So many of the marks of its history are upon it and not just on the pages. The layers of dirt, oil, and ink spills all contribute to the patina of the warm, natural, earthy tones of the cloth cover, leaving clues to the book’s past life.

It’s surprisingly light and feels good in the hand, despite its larger size. At first glance it appears to have cloth-covered boards, but the fabric is actually sewn over the boards as a protective jacket, which acts much like a modern dust jacket. Though it’s not waterproof this added protection reinforces the notion that this logbook was an important item aboard ship. This home- (or ship-) made imaginative reuse of materials to protect the book highlights the ingenuity of the maker of this jacket. As a book conservator I welcome such historical evidence of protection and repair.

Closer inspection reveals a number of other things about this protective cover, but most of them bring more questions. There is an even sewing pattern where the folded cloth attaches at the fore edge, and it is particularly well executed on the back cover. Whoever sewed this certainly had some knowledge in working with cloth and cord. Was it a sailmaker on board ship? Did most sailors have real skill with a needle? And there is writing on the cloth that looks like it was there prior to its current use, including some numbers and a notation, “I promise to pay… the sum of 20,000…” What is this about? Was the cloth a piece of sailcloth at hand when paper was not? Or was it a grain sack on board for a long journey at sea?

Why do I like this book so much? Perhaps it’s the admiration for the man with the needle, combined with my own imaginings about past voyages, adventure, and the unknown. Come see the book yourself. It is on display with some other Rauner books in conjunction with the Geographies: New England Book Work exhibition in Berry Library’s Main Street exhibition cases through mid-August. After that, you can find it by asking for Codex MS 807107.

Posted for Stephanie Wolff, Preservation Services

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Haggadah for Seder

We recently purchased a rather extraordinary Haggadah printed in Pisa in 1806. It is interesting to think of the original audience for this particular book: a group of Tuscan diaspora Jews in the early 19th century. What was the Seder like where this Haggadah was first present?

What makes this edition so exciting are the eighty woodcut illustrations that take the reader through all phases of Passover.

It starts with the preparation of the household with woodcuts showing a woman readying her home for Passover followed by the Seder itself.

Then, the Haggadah presents the annual retelling of the liberation of the Jews from Egypt. It is a beautifully illustrated epic.

To see the book, ask for Rare BM675.P4A3 1806.