Friday, March 25, 2016

Envelope of Death

Postcard addressed to William M. ChaseMost of the time we work with old things here in Rauner. Sometimes it can get a little eerie, because the people who made so many of our books and documents are no longer with us, and, as one astute archivist once said, "their papers really are their last remains." We are pretty hardened to it, but the tales of woe and death sometimes get to us.

Postcard reporting death of "Clasmate Livingston"This week we opened up an envelope stuffed with postcards from the early 1900s. All of the cards were written to William M. Chase, Class of 1858 and College Trustee, from Samuel C. Beale, Secretary to the Class of 1858. Each card simply records the death of another classmate. Most are terse:
Grafton 30 Sept 1911
Classmate Livingston died at Peacham, Vt in Aug 1911.
Sam'l C Beane
Classmate Hayes. B.S. died Sept 28 1915 at his summer home in Madbury, N.H.
S. C. Beane
Sec 1858
A few show a little more emotion:
Our beloved classmate Chadwick died at his home Sat 11 of pneumonia. Funeral tomorrow, Tuesday. I have been asked to take part in the services.
Sam'l C. Beane
Grafton 13 March 1911
The matter-of-fact reportage of these and the sheer number is profoundly odd. Reported by one classmate, and saved as a packet of death by another, as each measured their days.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Serialized Hate

Mein Kampf in exhibition case
The German copyright for Mein Kampf (My Struggle), Adolf Hitler's autobiography and master plan, has finally expired, and German scholars have just released a critical edition. But we have a copy that turned Hitler's propaganda back on itself: an unauthorized, war-time translation for a wary British public fretting over German expansion to the East. It is part of our current exhibition Light and Shadow in the Thirties.

In the early 1930s, Hitler refused to authorize an unexpurgated translation, allowing only a few positive abridgments. As Hitler's policies escalated with the annexation of Austria and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, English-speaking audiences demanded a full translation. The publication history is long and complicated -- there was a lawsuit, threats, and, for translator James Murphy, a narrow escape from Nazi Germany.

Rauner has James Murphy's translation, issued by the London firm Hurst & Blackett in eighteen parts. Our copy was probably published during World War II. Each cover boasts that the proceeds will benefit the British Red Cross -- not Hitler's German publishing house Eher Verlag. Mein Kampf became a bestseller in English, even after the war's outbreak, as Britains sought to understand their enemy's convoluted and hate-filled ideology.

The pamphlets use Hitler's face on every cover and stock photos of German sites fill the interior pages, showing how cheap and popular books depended on photography to increase their intellectual and cultural cache. "Illustrated" was just another selling point, just like the "Binding Cases" advertised on the back cover.

For Rauner's Mein Kampf in parts, see Rare Book DD247.H5 A326 1939, currently on display in the Class of 1965 GalleriesThe exhibition comes down on April 3, 2016, as we install an exhibition by the first year seminar Anthropology 7: Values of Medicine.

To learn more about the publication history, check out James J. Barnes and Patience P. Barnes' Hitler's Mein Kampf in Britain and America: A Publishing History, 1930-39 (Baker Berry DD247.H5 A3426).