Friday, April 3, 2020

Ordinary Memorabilia

A poster for the 1937 Exposition Interntionale.The Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne was held in Paris in the spring and summer of 1937. The Peace Pavilion was to be the culminating point of the exhibition and was dedicated to the "support of propaganda in favour of Peace." However, the Peace Pavilion's impact was overshadowed by the physical juxtaposition of the Nazi and Soviet pavilions. Situated directly across from one another, the two pavilions displayed each country's respective views on nationalism and politics through architectural motifs and created a visual preview of the coming world conflict.

A printed "Carte de L├ęgitimation."
There is little mention of these issues in our small collection of materials on the Expo. Instead, we have Churhill Lathrop's Carte de L├ęgitimation and a handful of maps, pamphlets, postcards, and other ephemera. See the sights of Paris as featured on a folding guide to the Paris Metro. Dine on traditional British food at the British pavilion (though why one would when there were so many other options remains an open question). Travel to other parts of France on the "railway of the sea." All the usual things that the ordinary visitor would need during his or her visit to the continent.

An open, colorful pamphlet.An advertisement for the Buttery restaurant.

Interestingly enough, though Lathrop was an Art History professor at Dartmouth, no mention is made of Picasso's Guernica which was exhibited for the first time in the Spanish pavilion at the Exposition.

Ask for MS-1015. A guide to the collection is available.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

You Laugh

A poster for "You Laugh."We recently acquired a small collection of Dartmouth's more recent history related to the introduction of coeducation in 1972. Elizabeth Epstein Kadin entered Dartmouth College in 1973, during a time when the College had not yet come to terms with this monumental change, and a sexist and hostile environment pervaded the campus. In response, as part of a class project for a philosophy seminar entitled "Feminism and Revolution," Epstein and seven other women wrote and produced a play called You Laugh, in 1975. The play was a "35 minute series of skits designed to focus on feelings and perceptions of Dartmouth women." Even though the women disagreed as much as they agreed during the writing process, according to Melanie Graves '78, every woman could identify with some of the crude jokes, insults and sexual stereotypes they were confronted with on a daily basis.

Notes for a production of "You Laugh."
The play was first performed at Hopkins Center in front of a sympathetic crowd of only women. However, the next two performances at Rollins Chapel were opened up to the entire Dartmouth community and attracted a mixed crowd, stimulating lengthy discussions among those who attended.

Though it would take many more years, for women to be truly accepted at Dartmouth, the play exceeded the expectations for those who were involved and supported it. It remains a testament to all the women who fought and ultimately succeeded to break into this once all male bastion.

A photograph of a group of women.
To view the script of You Laugh as well as newspaper accounts and correspondence related to the play and coeducation, including letters of support from trustees as well as letters from a disgruntled alum ask for MS-1228, The papers of Elizabeth Kadin.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Early Readers

A primer with a page of text on a wooden frame.Until quite recently, one of the first texts that many children would have learned to read was the Lord's Prayer. A child learning to read in eighteenth-century England might have encountered the Lord's Prayer in a hornbook, a durable primer containing a single sheet of text backed with wood and covered with a thin, transparent sheet of animal horn or mica. This hornbook from our collection devotes nearly half its page to the text of the Lord's Prayer.

In the second quarter of the sixteenth century, a young girl in the French royal family also owned a pocket-sized copy of the Lord's Prayer. Her delicately illuminated book of hours has some unusual additions - the Lord's Prayer, Hail Mary, and Credo are all copied out in a large, legible hand on the first three pages of the volume. Every adult would have memorized these fundamental texts long ago, but a young girl just learning to read and write would certainly have appreciated this (admittedly lavish) cheat-sheet.

An open book with illuminated details. A page containing the Lord's Prayer in Latin.
Ask for Val 028.5 H783 to see the hornbook.  The miniature book of hours is Codex 003197.

Friday, March 13, 2020

A Patriotic Mystery: The Bird of Washington

Image of Falco WashingtoniiIn celebration of our new single-case exhibit on display in Rauner- Some Truly Odd Birds: Audubon’s Mysterious Aviary - we’d like to present one intriguing bird that we (literally) didn’t have space to display. As we mentioned in a previous post, among the 435 bird species drawn and painted by artist and ornithologist John James Audubon (1785-1851) for his monumental work, The Birds of America (printed between 1827-1838), a handful continue to puzzle ornithologists. Chief among these is an elusive gigantic eagle he named "The Bird of Washington" (Falco washingtonii) which he excitedly first documented in 1814 as it flew along the banks of the Mississippi River near the Great Lakes:

"It was in the month of February 1814 that I obtained the first sight of this noble bird, and never shall I forget the delight which it gave me. Not even Herschel, when he discovered the planet which bears his name, could have experienced more rapturous feelings (Audubon 999: 217)."

Audubon subsequently recorded four more observations of what he called "indisputably the noblest bird of its genus that has yet been discovered." Eventually he shot a male bird as it fed on the carcass of a dead horse, which served as the model for his regal painting. The "Bird of Washington" stood nearly four feet tall and glided on a towering 10-foot wingspan, making it larger than any other eagle species in the world. Due to its impressive stature, Audubon decided to name the new species after one of America’s most beloved military and political figures - George Washington:

"in the United States, I trust I shall be allowed to honour it with the name of one yet nobler; who was the saviour of his country. and whose name will ever be dear to it. To those who may be curious to know my reasons, can only say, that, as the new world gave me birth and liberty, the great man who ensured its independence is next to my heart. He had a nobility of mind, and a generosity of soul, such as are seldom possessed."

Audubon goes further in his explanation for the suitability of the new species’ name, drawing comparisons between our nation’s first president and the bird: " He was brave, so is the Eagle; like it, too, he was the terror of his foes; and his fame, extending from pole to pole, resembles the majestic soarings of the mightiest of the feathered tribe. If America has reason to be proud of her Washington, so has she to be proud of her great eagle. (Audubon 1999:220)"

Audubon even made sure his painting conveyed General Washington’s commanding presence as depicted in military paintings; the immense raptor was painted in profile, gazing off into the distance with an out-puffed chest.

Despite Audubon’s infatuation with what he presumed to be a new species, following his death in 1851, incredulity about the Washington eagle mounted to the point that a generation later it was said only "amateur ornithologists" still considered it to be a real species (Allen 1870). When asked to comment on the Washington eagle, the eminent Elliot Coues said, "I wonder how many times the 'Washington eagle' must be put down before it will stay down! As a species, it is a myth…" What's the consensus today? Now it’s universally presumed that the few Washington Eagles Audubon and others saw were not members of a previously unidentified eagle species but were rather a common bird long known to naturalists: the common bald eagle in its immature state of development.

Interested in learning more about the scientific mysteries gracing the pages of Audubon’s famous book? Be sure to stop by Rauner Library between now and April to explore our exhibit (Some Truly Odd Birds: Audubon’s Mysterious Aviary) on display in our lobby, and as always, come into our Reading Room to see our first edition of The Birds of America.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Context is (almost) Everything

Letter from Darwin addressed "Dear Sir"We have a pretty cool letter from Charles Darwin in the collection. It opens simply enough with "Dear Sir," but the name of the recipient is nowhere to be found. The letter came to us tucked into a first edition of On the Origin of Species that was donated by Perc Brown in 1956. In 1964, the undated letter came to the attention of an alumnus who was also a collector of Darwin materials. He dove into the letter and did some amazing detective work to figure out who the letter was written to: all he knew was content of the letter--it was sent to someone who had recently written a review of On the Origin of Species, and it counters some of the arguments made in the review. His research, that took months, included examining the watermark to determine when the letter was likely written, corresponding with a Darwin specialist at the University of Wisconsin, and working with two librarians at the American Museum of Natural History, all from his home in Cleveland, Ohio.

Half-title to On the Origin of Species with signatureBy piecing together all of the clues, our intrepid investigator figured it out. With some certainty, he declared that the letter was most likely sent to Andrew Murray who had published a review in the Edinburgh New Philosophical Review.  We read his paper and were impressed. Then we noticed something very interesting. On the half-title of the book that Perc Brown donated--the book that the letter was slipped into--is the signature of none other than Andrew Murray.

Close up of Andrew Murray's signature
Our poor investigator! Had he just looked into the context of the letter, rather than concentrating solely on its content, he would have had a smoking gun clue right from the start. Confirming that Murray had written a review would have been pretty quick and painless. But then, think of all of the fun he wold have missed out on!

To see the letter ask for MS 000566. To see the On the Origin of Species, ask for Rare QM365 .O2 1859.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Lousy with Literary Distinction & Poetry

Marked up title page and flyleaf
Oh goodness, we have once before blogged an instance of author Kenneth Roberts expressing his disdain for a bit of literature in his epic take down of one of Mark Twain's essays, but this week we learned of another moment of vitriol in the margins. This time it is directed at the best seller by Walter Edmonds, Drums Along the Mohawk. To say Roberts hated it is being too gentle.

Marked up Author's Statement
He had been asked by the Atlantic Monthly to review the book, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. Instead, he kept his comments private, within his copy of the book. To start, he re-titled his copy "Bums along the Mohawk," then he offered up a fake blurb by the popular critic and selector for the Book-of-the-Month Club,  Dorothy Canfield Fisher: "Lousy with literary distinction & poetry." As evidence he cites the sentence, "Large squashy flakes of snow, falling steadily, made it hard for him to see what the soldiers were hauling west from the fort into the woods."

Snide comment on misspelling of "rely"
But his dark sarcasm is best expressed in a note pointing out a small typo. In the "Author's Statement." After boasting of his deep research, Edmonds states "Naturally, for spaces of time, no data were available, and there I had to relie on my own knowledge of our climate." Roberts circled the misspelled "relie" then caustically added, "Not a bad way to spell it, under the circumstances."

To take a look come in and ask for Roberts Library PZ3 E242 Dr copy 3.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Hiding in Plain Sight

Anitphonal open to folio 29 verso, 30 recto
We have blogged a couple of times in the past about the giant Antiphonal we keep out in the reading room. It is one of those very impressive, and very sturdy, manuscripts that are perfect for people stopping by who just want to see something old and cool.

Close up from folio 29 verso showing Dartmouth motto
But last week a student who is working on a transcription project pointed out something we had never seen. In the upper right corner of the verso of folio 29 is a little box (for a solo, we think?) containing the famous Biblical reference to Isaiah that Eleazer Wheelock adopted as Dartmouth's motto: Vox clamantis in deserto.

We have always been partial to the pages of the Antiphonal with decorative initials, but now folio 29 might be our new favorite.  Come in and take a look!