Friday, September 13, 2019

Feast and Famine

first page of Sims letterHere in Special Collections, we're fortunate enough to have one of the world's best collections having to do with polar and cold region exploration. The Stefansson Collection is named after its original owner, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, a lecturer at Dartmouth College who himself was an Arctic explorer in the early 20th century. Many people know about the numerous smaller collections that reside under the broad umbrella of the Stefansson Collection, such as the papers of Ada Blackjack, Admiral Robert Peary, or the diary of Thomas Orde-Lees, quartermaster and machinist for Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated Endurance expedition.

However, not many people know about the sizable collection of Stefansson's correspondence that we have here at Rauner Library. Later in life, Stefansson became a public intellectual of sorts, at least when it came to anything having to do with Arctic exploration or indigenous communities within the Arctic Circle. He lectured widely across the country and, as a result of his popularity, was often sent letters by people seeking his approval or authentication for their own various books, projects, or speaking tours. Sometimes, he responded positively, supporting the petitioner's project. Often, however, he filed their requests, or the information they wanted him to validate, in a correspondence file titled "Fakes (Popular Errors & Misconceptions)."

Stefansson's correspondence is arranged by year and then alphabetically, so we have many many
"Fakes" files. One of my personal favorites is a letter sent to him in 1927 by a Mr. Earl Sims of the law firm Weltner & Sims based in Atlanta, Georgia. In his
second page of Sims letter letter, Sims takes to task one Dillon Wallace, a fellow lawyer who wrote a best-selling book about a failed exploratory trip through Labrador. On the trip, which happened in 1903, Wallace's partner Leonidas Hubbard took ill and died of starvation, while Wallace was able to make it out alive. The book, published in 1905, took hold of the popular imagination. However, some people, Mr. Sims among them, took issue with the book. In his letter, Sims questions the validity of basic claims made by Wallace (for example, whether or not the two explorers had an axe along with them) as well as a very important detail related to the issue of starvation. Sims catalogs the copious number of fish that Wallace claims they caught and consumed during their period of so-called "famine." Sims concludes, rather tartly, that he is "prepared to believe that Hubbard may have died of over-eating, but not that he starved to death."

To read more about various fakes, falsehoods, and popular misconceptions about the Arctic, come to Special Collections and ask to see a Fakes folder from the Correspondence of Vilhjalmur Stefansson (MSS-196).

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Our Favorite Box

Spine of boxThe book that has been inside this box is pretty important, but today it is all about the box. You see, in 1913, the members of the all-male book collecting club in Cleveland, the Rowfant Club, pooled together to present their outgoing president, Willis Vickery, a gift: a copy of Shakespeare's first folio from 1623. That is a hell of a gift, and it needed a proper presentation. So the old boys at the club had a box made at the Rowfant Bindery.

The box is a work of art all by itself. Stamped on the green morocco spine is:
Shakespeare
First Folio
1623
Closed doors within box
That makes it look damned impressive on a bookshelf. Then, when you open it up, you see ornate gold-stamped doors that remind you again, "Shakespeare, First Folio, 1623." Got it, the box is holding the first folio.

Swing those doors open, and you enter the silk-lined reliquary for the most revered book of English literature. Gold stamped on the sides are the names of each member of the Rowfant Club that contributed. Nice touch, they each get a kind of forever association with the book!

Opened doors within box revealing silk-lined interior
The Rowfant Bindery only lasted four years (1910-1914), but it did some fabulous work and this box may be their crowning achievement. It stands alone as a masterpiece in binding work, but for anyone using this copy of the first folio it also creates a sacred aura by building layers of cultural trappings the reader must traverse to reach the book within.

Gold-stamped gopher with candle holder
One Easter egg for those looking: the Rowfant Club emblem is twice stamped on the box: a gopher holding a candle holder. Each member of the Rowfant Club has his own candle holder that they use to claim their spot during their dinners. When a member dies, the Club puts a snuffer over the candle holder and places it on a shelf in their old mansion in Cleveland. The candle holders remain, snuffed, as a reminder to all of the living members of their attachment to the club, but also their own mortality. But here, the emblem of the candle is commemorating a book that they found to be immortal.

To take a look, ask for Hickmott 1.

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Canine Race: Who's a Good Boy?

Cover page of S. Babcock's 1941 book "The Canine Race, a Brief Natural History of the Dog" with illustrations of several dogs and people enjoying various outdoor activities with their dogs Recently when a dog-loving patron asked to see our older materials dedicated to "man’s best friend," we stumbled upon a small gem in our Class of 1926 Memorial Collection; S. Babcock’s The Canine Race, a Brief Natural History of the Dog. Interspersed with Interesting Characteristic Anecdotes, and Embellished with Sixteen Beautiful Wood Engravings, published in 1841. One of dozens of books published in Babcock’s Toy Books series, the small publication contains a “portrait and description” of sixteen of the “most striking” dog breeds in addition to “interesting anecdotes of their natures, habits, and propensities.”

The book begins with a charming introduction and ode to our canine companions, remarking that “no other animal seems so well adapted… so bold, sagacious, tractable, and obedient... the flocks and the herds obey his voice… he fiercely and bravely gives battle to intruders. Nor is he less useful to the huntsmen in pursuit of game.” The "usefulness" of the various dog breeds beyond mere companionship--as guides, lifeguards, hunting companions, or “attendants on a carriage”--is espoused throughout the book, speaking to the prevalent attitude of the time among dog-owners who sought to "work" their dogs in addition to enjoying their company.

Despite its short length and young target audience, our copy of The Canine Race provides a wonderful example of how valuable books can be when examined more closely through a comparative lens to modern times. Upon closer inspection, our copy of The Canine Race demonstrates how selective breeding and human preferences have rapidly changed the appearance and functions of our canine friends, even within just the last 180 years. To illustrate this point, I decided to satisfy my inner evolutionary biologist by examining several images and breed descriptions contained within The Canine Race in comparison to recent publications on dog breeding and breed descriptions courtesy of the American Kennel Club (AKC) database. Below are some of the interesting "discoveries" I made of how dog breeds have transformed since the 1800s; courtesy of flipping through the pages of our copy of The Canine Race.


The Bulldog

Few dogs have been as heavily shaped by selective breeding as the English bulldog. This is perhaps best illustrated by the shockingly tall, slim and upright body posture as well as longer snout pictured in the wood engraving of “the bulldog” in our copy of The Canine Race (see photograph below). In 1840, English bulldogs already had some of the characteristic features we see today, like saggy jowls and a muscular build (see Babcock’s illustration, below), however as the AKC remarks “modern day bulldogs have far more pronounced facial wrinkles, an even thicker and squatter body, and a widened stance among their front legs.” Part of the reason for this rapid change in appearance over the past 180 years may be attributable to the switch from breeders selecting traits for producing good bull-fighting dogs (yes, this is where bulldogs get their name!), toward selecting traits simply for aesthetic purposes.
Woodcut illustration from 'The Canine Race' depicting an English bulldog.

When our copy of The Canine Race was published, bulldogs were still used for bull-baiting — a bloody sport (which became illegal in 1835 but persisted through the 1850s in the U.K.) where dogs were used to bait and attack bulls. As Babcock’s article shockingly describes, “Nothing can exceed the resolution and fierceness with which he (the bulldog) attacks the bull. Running directly at his head, and sometimes catching him by the nose, he will pin the bull to the ground ; nor can he, without great difficulty, be made to quit his hold. Such is his rage and perseverance at a bullfight in England… a man made a bet that he could cut off the feet of his dog, one after another, and that after each foot was cut off, the dog would return to the fight. The horrid experiment was tried, and the bet was won, for the dog continued to seize the bull after each amputation.” After describing this gruesome practice, the author adds a lighter note pointing to recent changes in attitude surrounding the sport: “Happily, the refinement and intelligence of the present time, has nearly put a stop to the cruel sports of bull-baitings in England.” Although the accuracy of the specific bullfighting accounts is questionable, bulldogs where undeniably different in both appearance and function in 1840.


The Terrier

In a section of The Canine Race devoted to our beloved terriers, the author notes that “this is a small, thickset hound, of which there are two kinds; one has short legs, long back, and is commonly of a black or yellowish color, mingled with white. The other is more sprightly in appearance; its color is reddish brown or black.” Today, the "two kinds" of terriers to which Babcock’s book refers are recognized as distinct breeds by the American Kennel Club - the Russell Terrier and Parson Russell Terrier.
Woodcut illustration from 'The Canine Race' depicting a terrier.

According to the AKC, both breeds shared a common heritage as fox-hunting dogs descended from the kennels of Reverend John “The Sporting Parson” Russell of the mid-1800s, around the same time that The Canine Race was published. It was only after the publication of The Canine Race that the lines of the two terriers diverged enough to be recognized as two distinctly separate breeds. Today, both terrier breeds have flatter backs and their color is predominantly white with tan, brown, or black spots as opposed to the other way around (compare modern photos to the photograph from The Canine Race, pictured below). Although popularized on children’s shows like Wishbone as family pets today, Babcock’s publication notes that terriers were primarily bred by fox-hunting enthusiasts in the mid 1800s, “as this animal is very expert in forcing foxes and other game out of their holes, and is particularly hostile to the fox.”


 “The Harrier

In contrast to the English bulldog and terriers depicted in our 1841 edition of The Canine Race, some breeds, like harriers, look and perform essentially the same today as they did in the mid-19th century. One of the oldest English breeds, harriers were bred for hunting hare (hence the breed’s name) in the United Kingdom since the 1300s. As Babcock’s book details, “The Harrier pursues the hare with much ardor, and scarcely gives her any time to breathe.” Today, the AKC breed standard indicates that Harriers “must be active... in all ways appearing able to work tirelessly, no matter the terrain, for long periods.” Apparently, Harriers were as active in the 1840s as they are today, for Babcock also mentions how seemingly inexhaustible harriers appear, as “the most active sportsman finds he has sufficient exercise when he attempts to keep up with them.”

Woodcut illustration from 'The Canine Race' depicting a harrier.

Our edition of The Canine Race also contains two interesting accounts of lesser-known hunting dog breeds that nearly went extinct, or are currently on the edge of disappearing, due to changes in breeding for their original hunting purposes. After the section on harriers, the author notes that “There is another breed of dogs, between the Harrier and the Terrier, which is a strong, active, and hardy hound, used in hunting the otter. This animal is rough, with wiry hair, and very long ears.” The breed to which the author is referring to - the British otterhound - became much less popular since the mid 1800s with the decline in England’s otter populations, and more recently with the country-wide ban placed on otter hunting in 1978. As a 2018 article in London’s The Mirror reports: “Britain's rarest dog breed is facing extinction, after just 24 puppies were registered with the Kennel Club last year. Britain’s Otterhound Club is now appealing for prospective dog owners to choose an otterhound and protect the breed’s future.” Although The Canine Race cites otterhounds as a common breed in Babcock’s time, today purebred otterhounds are rarer than giant pandas or white rhino, with fewer than 1,000 dogs worldwide and 300 in Britain.

Babcock’s book also includes an account of another canine breed whose popularity has fluctuated substantially over the past 180 years; the Irish Wolf Dog (today known as the Irish wolfhound). Babcock writes that in the 1840s “the race is now nearly extinct...there being now no wolves or other formidable beasts of prey, in Ireland.” Historical records from the AKC corroborate this story, indicating that by the late 1700s wolves and other big game animals of Ireland had been hunted to extinction, in part due to the effectiveness of wolfhounds in leading hunting parties. Essentially, it was a case of a dog breed doing its job “too well for its own good” (AKC). Luckily the growth in popularity of wolfhounds as show dogs and family pets saved the breed, and today they are no longer threatened.


 “The Coach Dog

If you’re wondering “what is a coach dog?” you aren’t alone. Commonly used at the time our edition of The Canine Race was printed, this common name for the breed we now refer to as a Dalmatian has fallen into general disuse. Babcock writes that “The dog is very common in England, being esteemed an elegant attendant on a carriage (coach),” pointing to why the name was used frequently in the 1800s. Indeed, the traditional occupation of Dalmatians “was to trot beside horse-drawn coaches, and to guard the horses and rig when otherwise unattended” according to the AKC. Interestingly, although their primary function has changed since Babcock’s time, the Dalmatian Club of America still holds annual road trials to test their dogs’ “coach dog” ability.
Woodcut illustration from 'The Canine Race' depicting a so-called "coach dog", or Dalmatian

Indeed, Dalmatians went by several other common names which have fallen out of use since the 19th century, including the "Danish Dog" and "common Harrier of Italy" which Babcock also mentions. Aside from a changing name, one will notice that the Dalmatian pictured in Babcock’s publication (see right) is missing a key feature of today’s Dalmatians - it’s floppy ears. This was not a result of selective breeding, but rather of aesthetic preferences for ear-less or “docked” Dalmatians in the mid 1800s. On the subject of docking, the author sympathizes with the dogs, hoping that “it will not much longer be the fashion to cut off the useful and ornamental ears of the animals, which is generally practised. The notion that this increases the beauty of the Coach Dog is a mistaken one. Surely the decorations which nature bestows on each animal are its greatest ornaments, and that can be no true taste which sanctions this barbarous custom.” Today show dog associations and the AKC side with the author, asserting that Dalmatians should have ear tips that “reach to the bottom line of the cheek.”


 “The Newfoundland Dog

The Canine Race ends with a description of one of the largest and most recognizable dog breeds, the Newfoundland. As their name suggests, Newfoundlands originated on the Canadian island as companions to fishermen and settlers along the ocean coast. The author explains that “in their native country, (Newfoundlands) are extremely useful to the settlers… who employ them to bring wood from the backcountry. Three or four of them, yoked to a sledge, will draw three hundred weight of wood for several miles.” Indeed, the great strength of Newfoundlands is still famous and widely employed today (the breed is now most often used by water rescue teams), but horses and tractors came to replace their roles as draft animals. In terms of appearance, Newfoundlands may still sport black/brown/gray fur mixed with white as shown in Babcock’s illustration (see below), although this variation has become less common today than all-black or all-brown-coats. In addition, the size of Newfoundlands, much like other large breeds like St. Bernards and German shepherds, has increased an estimated 20% since the mid-1800s (AKC).

Woodcut illustration from 'The Canine Race' depicting a Newfoundland dog.
For dog-lovers, cultural and biological evolutionary scientists and curious history fans alike, The Canine Race provide a fascinating glimpse into the history of man’s best friend, and in turn the evolution of ourselves. To check Babcock’s book for yourself, stop by Rauner and ask for "1926 Coll. C343."

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

An Almanac of One's Own

Title page of the Lady's Almanac, with a facing advertisement for face cream
Sometimes, when we are in search of inspiration for a blog post, we go wandering through the shelves in search of hidden gems and intriguing volumes that reside amidst our printed collections. A favorite place to browse, for this librarian at least, is the 1926 collection. The Class of 1926 Memorial Collection (its formal title) was established in 1960 by the Dartmouth Class of '26 to honor its deceased members; it consists of examples of illustrated books published throughout the New England states during Dartmouth's first century from the year of Dartmouth's chartering through to its centennial date, 1769-1869. As you may have guessed, a high percentage of these books are meant for moral guidance or the instruction of children. There are also a number of texts devoted to educating the reader about world events and places, and there are a goodly number of almanacs scattered about for good measure.

Today's find is a little book titled The Lady's Almanac for 1856. There are numerous other small volumes next to it on the shelf, each with the same publisher's binding and of
A poem and facing engraving for the month of Maythe same diminutive stature. Within the blue covers, each month has its own chart for sunrises and sunsets, moonrises, moon phases, and a place where a lady may jot down important "memoranda" for each day of the month (although the space afforded seems hardly sufficient to record a single thought). A simple poem and full-page engraving begin each monthly entry, and each poem inevitably addresses one of the recurring themes of childhood, nature, or religious duty.

What really catches the eye, at least of a modern-day observer, is the number of advertisements in the front and back of the book that are clearly meant for a lady; or, at least, provide insight as to what merchants at the time thought that a lady should like. Advertisements for home furnishings, skin cream, children's clothing, piano fortes, and sewing machines all jostle for An advertisement for a commercial collegeattention within the almanac. Interestingly enough, an ad for a commercial college shows a man and a woman both sitting opposite each other at scribe's desks, suggesting that some measure of educational equality might be within reach for women at the time, if only at a clerical level. This brief hint of parity is overpowered, however, by the text in the latter half of the almanac, which conforms to stereotypes of the time about a woman's place in society. "The longer I live, the less grows my sympathy with women who are always wishing themselves men," begins one short essay titled, "Woman's Mission", while another is titled "The Fine Art of Patching."

In many ways, this vision of society seems very antiquated; in others, it is still uncomfortably too familiar. To explore this window into the 1850s for yourself, come to Special Collections and ask to see 1926 Collection L33.







Friday, August 30, 2019

Rivers Run Deep

An image with commentary from Moser's papers
Long before Robert Redford brought the novella A River Runs Through It to the silver screen in 1992, its author, Norman MacLean, was known to Dartmouth College as a member of the class of 1924. The Iowa-born but long-time Montana resident was, among other things, the editor-in-chief of the campus humor magazine The Jack-O'-Lantern his senior year before handing the reins of the publication to Ted Geisel '25, known more popularly as Dr. Seuss. MacLean was also an instructor of English at the college immediately following his graduation and for several more years before eventually attending graduate school at the University of Chicago.

Here in Special Collections, we are fortunate not only to have a lasting record of MacLean through his alumni file and issues of the Jack-O, but also because of another impressive collection that we oversee, the papers of printmaker and illustrator
A letter from UChicago regarding a certain fishing fly
Barry Moser. In 1989, Moser received a commission to illustrate an edition of MacLean's novella for the University of Chicago. In his papers, there are numerous records that speak to the high level of detail and thoughtfulness that Moser put into his illustrations, as well as the collaborative process between him and MacLean during the design stages of the book. In particular, the correspondence about fishing flies, and who tied them, is fascinating for anyone who enjoys the art of fly-fishing.

To learn more about Norman MacLean '24, come to Rauner and ask for his alumni file. To see the issues of the Jack-O'-Lantern for which he oversaw publication, come into the reading room and take them off of the reference shelf. To explore the negotiations and deep thought that went on behind the scenes of the University of Chicago's edition of A River Runs Through It, ask to see Box 90 from the Barry Moser Papers (ML-39).

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Finding Greenland in America

Title page of Relation Du GroenlandSomething compelled us to take a look in our famed Stefansson Collection on Polar Exploration for something cool related to Greenland. The oldest book devoted to Greenland that we have was published in Paris in 1647. Relation Du Groenland is pocket sized and our copy is still in its original limp vellum binding. It appears to be a compendium of just about everything that was known about Greenland at the time by southerners, which wasn't a whole lot. The topography, glaciers, and flora and fauna of some of the coastal regions are all described. Typical of the unenlightened time, the peoples living there are described as "Savvages Groenlendois," and seem to be treated as curiosities. The person who wrote the book had a clear interest, but just didn't have all of the facts straight.

Map of coast of Greenland showing it connected to North America
We were particularly intrigued by the map that shows Greenland connected to America just north of Hudson Bay. Weird.

Take a look by asking for Stef G740.L31.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Greet the World from the Hill with a…Bell?

View of the Dartmouth Hall Belfry with bell rope, circa 1880
As we mentioned in a previous post, a visit to Dartmouth isn’t quite complete until you’ve heard the Alma Mater ringing across campus from the majestic bells of Baker Tower. Baker’s bells have served as the heartbeat of the College on the Hill for 91 years, chiming the hours and announcing other events on campus since the famous library was constructed in 1928. But long before the casting of Baker’s bells, an arguably more famous, or at least more notorious, bell greeted Dartmouth students, professors, and visitors from atop another iconic building on the eastern side of the Green - Dartmouth Hall.

The story of Dartmouth Hall’s bell begins with the initial founding of the College. Realizing the need to announce church services, meetings, and class periods in addition to instituting a “town clock” in the woods of New Hampshire, Eleazar Wheelock, Dartmouth’s first president, pleaded with his financial supporters in England to help him raise funds to purchase a bronze bell. At the time, quality bells (i.e., bells that did not crack under heavy use) were extremely expensive, and as such Eleazar was forced to rely upon a large conch shell, which he and undergraduate students blew into, to announce class periods and to call worshipers to prayer.

The first College bell was found to be broken upon its arrival from Whitefield, NH, in 1789, thus marking the beginning of the long line of short-lived Dartmouth Hall bells. On August 8, 1790, then Dartmouth senior William Eaton, who would later become famous Army General William Eaton and Consul General to Tunis during the First Barbary War, was dispatched by Dartmouth President John Wheelock to procure a bell cast at Messrs Doolittle and Goodyear in Hartford, CT, for commencement. The 282-pound bell was hung on August 24, 1790, in the new belfry of Dartmouth Hall, marking the beginning of 138 years of Dartmouth Hall bells ringing across campus. In 1819, during the famous Dartmouth College Case, Dartmouth College and Dartmouth University argued over ownership of the bell, given that its chiming symbolized control over class and religious service schedules. Eventually, the bell was appropriated along with other pieces of college property to the short-lived University, but was relinquished back to the College following Daniel Webster’s successful case.

In October 1819, the Dartmouth Hall bell broke and was replaced by a 299-pound Revere bell (one of only 398 bells produced by Paul Revere’s foundry between 1792 and 1828) brought from Boston. This bell was then traded for a larger 512-pound bell, also from Revere’s foundry, in February, 1821. In 1829, following renovations to Dartmouth Hall, a deeper-toned bell of 726 pounds was installed, where it rang for over 40 years until it cracked in 1867. During the 1850s-1880s, one of the favorite pranks of Dartmouth students was to “steal the clapper off the bell, or ring it before the recitation period was fully over” (pg. 20, A Social & Architectural History of Dartmouth Hall). By the 1870s, the eagerness of students to climb Dartmouth Hall to ring the largest bell before the end of class periods and before sunrise had grown problematic. To prevent this practice, the disgruntled faculty gradually boarded up entrances to the Dartmouth Hall belfry and even posted a guard. Many ingenious devices were thus invented to ring the bell from a distance, one sophomore going so far as to climb the lightning rod with a long stick in hand, having fastened a rope to the eaves as a means of escape. Unfortunately, the rope was discovered by faculty and cut off about 3 feet below the eaves, so that upon using it, the boy dropped three stories to the ground. Our records indicate that the student limped away before the faculty could catch him.

As both the size and reputation of Dartmouth College grew, so did the size and reputation of Dartmouth Hall’s bell. From 1867-1885, Dartmouth Hall went through a succession of four bells which had an uncanny tendency to break shortly after their warranty periods had expired, all the while more than doubling in size from 512 to 1,237 pounds. Despite their growth and the continued importance of Dartmouth Hall as a recitation hall, dormitory, chapel, library, and medical school, the building which supported the Dartmouth Hall bells had fallen into neglect. In 1887, President Bartlett praised the “harmony of the bell” which called him to work in the morning, but described Dartmouth Hall as a “menace” due to its dilapidated state and the infamous “bedbug alley” dorms which occupied the top-most floor. Renovations to the belfry proved short lived however, as the bells melted in the famous 1904 fire which consumed most of Dartmouth Hall.

Mass of melted bronze salvaged from the remains of the 1904 fire.
Dartmouth students and alumni had grown so fond of the Dartmouth Hall bells that after melted remnants of the bell were found amid the smoldering timbers following the 1904 fire, hundreds of small replica bells were made from the hunk of bronze. These small souvenir bells were used as watch fobs; given as gifts to alumni, trustees of the college, and local families, often labelled with the inscription: “made from fragments from the eight ancient bells of Dartmouth Hall which called the students together from 1786-1904.” Today, several of these beautiful Dartmouth Hall bell replicas can be heard chiming here at Rauner Special Collections Library, where they are housed in our realia room.
Small Dartmouth Hall replica bell owned by President William J. Tucker
After the 1904 fire, Joshua W. Pierce (class of 1905) gifted the college with a 1,184 pound bell also from Meneely & Co., which was installed on September 27, 1905. The bell continued chiming the hour and signaling class schedules until the construction of Baker Library in 1928, after its role in signaling church services had been passed in 1888 to Rollins Chapel. In a stroke of luck, the Dartmouth Hall bell survived the 1935 fire which consumed the roof of the building, but has remained largely unused.

Despite hanging in silence, Dartmouth Hall’s bell continued to make headlines when news broke in October of 1954 that a group of undergraduates had stolen the 70-pound clapper. The self-declared “Clapper-Nappers” left a ransom note with the college newspaper, stating:
Here are the facts on why the late bell doesn’t ring anymore. We have stolen the clapper from the top of Dartmouth Hall. It is now hidden within two miles of Hanover… we will return the clapper when Dartmouth becomes coeducational.
Aside from using the bell clapper heist as a gesture of frustration over the administration’s inability to move toward coeducation, the Clapper-Nappers also ended their ransom letter on a lighter note, saying “We hope unpunctual students... appreciate our efforts to revive the old College tradition (of stealing the Dartmouth Hall bell clapper).”

1935 New York Times article titled 'Dartmouth's Bell Rings, Surviving Fire in Old Hall"
Today, the bell remains atop Dartmouth Hall; now a silent reminder of Dartmouth’s past. “But can the bell still be rung?” you may ask. The answer appears to be yes and no, depending on to what lengths you are willing to go to ring it. A note in our collection from Dartmouth's events manager dated July 18, 1990, explains that the "Dartmouth Hall bell cannot be rung as there is no rope to pull it… (but) about 15 years ago students attached a rope to the bell and dropped it to the ground and rang the bell from the ground.” Perhaps after nearly 140 years of use and many mishaps, Dartmouth Hall’s bell deserves a well-earned rest.
To learn more about the Dartmouth Hall bells, ask for the vertical file "Dartmouth Hall - Bells", or ask to see our parts and replicas of the Dartmouth Hall bell by asking for Realia Box 26. More images of the various iterations of Dartmouth Hall and the Dartmouth Hall belfry can also be found in the photo file "Dartmouth Hall - Old."