Thursday, June 21, 2012

Early Readers

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.

Ask for Val 028.5 H783 to see the hornbook.  The miniature book of hours is Codex 003197.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Even though a library tends to be about books and the written word, there are always things that help to enhance or supplement a collection but just aren't books themselves. These oddballs are lovingly referred to as "realia" and range from closely-linked-to-books items to ones that leave you scratching your head and trying to figure out the connection.

An exemplar of the "this fits nicely" object is a collection of printing plates for Stefansson's Adventures in Error. A more tenuously connected set of items is Daniel Webster's top hat and a pair of his silk stockings. Webster is an incredibly important Dartmouth figure and Rauner has a large number of Webster related items, though the hat and socks do push the connectivity limit. Finally, we have the New York fireman's helmet that belonged to Nelson A. Rockefeller, Dartmouth class of 1930.
To see the printing plates ask for Realia 81.  Daniel Webster's top hat is Realia 37, the socks Realia 38, and Rockefeller's helmet is Realia 162.