Friday, March 4, 2011

Bass on Rhus Vernix and Magnolia Glauca

A watercolor illustration of a magnolia branch, including a blossom, bud, and leaves.The College Archives collection of theses from the Dartmouth Medical School covers the years 1815 to 1882. Seth Bass' 1815 A Dissertation on the Poisonous qualities and on the Medical properties of the Rhus Vernix and on the Medical Properties of the Magnolia Glauca, includes this beautiful watercolor sketch of a Magnolia Glauca, along with sketches of other magnolias and of the Rhus Vernix. Unfortunately, most of the theses are far less decorative. They do, however, cover a wide range of medical topics and diseases, from diabetes to animal magnetism, documenting the progress of medical knowledge and practice during most of the 19th century.

A watercolor illustration of Rhus Vernix, a stem of several pointed leaves with smooth edges.
Rhus Vernix
We know very little of Dr. Bass’ life and medical career. He was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1780, and received his medical degree from Dartmouth in 1815. In 1824, he was hired by the East India Marine Society in Salem, Massachusetts, to organize and oversee the Society's extensive collection of artifacts. In 1825, he became the librarian of the Boston Athenaeum, a position he held until 1846. Upon his retirement, the trustees of the Athenaeum gave Dr Bass $1,000 as an indication of their esteem and gratitude for over 20 years of service. Ultimately, Dr. Bass removed to Stow, Massachusetts, his eyesight too poor to allow the practice of medicine. He died there in December 1867.

A handwritten title page for a thesis on the poisonous and medicinal properties of Magnolia Glauca and Rhus Vernix.
Title page to Bass' thesis.
Ask for DA-3 to see this and other theses.  Box 9873 contains Bass' thesis.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Samuel Beckett

A black and white photograph of two men outside. One is digging at the ground with a pickaxe, while the other holds a shovel.The Samuel Beckett papers were a gift from Lawrence Harvey, a professor at Dartmouth College, who amassed this small but important collection of manuscripts, letters, and photographs over the course of a long friendship with Beckett.  Harvey used the material in his own research, culminating in his book Samuel Beckett, Poet and Critic (Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1970).

The collection includes original, annotated typescripts of many of Beckett's works, including Echo's Bones, Eleutheria, and Dream of Fair to Middling Women - Beckett's first novel published posthumously in 1992.  There are also numerous photographs of Beckett and his family, a short film of Actes Sans Paroles, and audio of Beckett reading his own work.  Many of the photographs are more intimate images of Beckett and members of his family in ordinary settings.  The image above was taken at Ussy in 1952 or 1953 and depicts Beckett (left) and his brother Frank.

A photograph of a group of men standing together outside in front of a car. The words "Red Cross" are visible on the door.
Beckett and other members of the Irish Red Cross in St Ló, France.
In 1994, an additional batch of letters and postcards from Beckett to Gloria MacGowran was added to the original collection.  Gloria MacGowran was the widow of Jack MacGowran, an actor known for his interpretations of Beckett's works.  The correspondence covers the period from 1973 to 1988.

Ask for MS-122 to see Beckett's papers and MS-661 to see Harvey's collection of research materials.