Friday, February 7, 2014

Winter Carnival Online

A 1957 poster for the Winter Carnival.Winter Carnival is upon us. Over the years, Dartmouth's "Mardi Gras of the North" has produced some stunning visual images. The annual poster contest has resulted in posters that reflect the history of 20th century graphic design while displaying the ever changing values and interests of Dartmouth students. We recently released a new digital collection of all of the Winter Carnival posters, from the earliest in 1911 to the one currently circulating on campus. They are accompanied by essays from the 2010 Winter Carnival: A Century of Dartmouth Posters (Hanover: University Press of New England, 2010).

A black and white photograph of a group in winter gear. There are skis and snowshoes visible in the picture. Not only can you browse the posters, you can also download a digital image for your personal use. While you are looking for your favorite poster, you can also check out images from Winter Carnivals past in our ever growing digital collection of archival photographs. They are not all scanned yet, but we add to the collection daily--search for Winter Carnival and you will see some of them.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


A page of handwritten text.We were recently reviewing a large number of older books that were originally part of the Thayer School's engineering library. Tucked in among the books with beautiful engraved plates was a small practical treatise Geodaesia: or, the Art of Surveying (New York: Samuel Campbell, 1796). Book is not particularly rare, but the front flyleaf caught our eye. It contains what appears to be 14 lines of verse with coded words inserted.

What might we have found? Forbidden love? No, the key is present--it is just a simple substitution code based on Napoleon Bonaparte. There was no challenge in deciphering the words. Instead, it seems to be a bit of parlor game fun perpetrated by James W. Rollins, class of 1845 who signed the book numerous times. Below is a transcription of the verse with the decoded words bracketed.

My [paean] is a martial hymn
My [apart] signifies separation
My [pole] is an inhabitant of a country in Europe
My 3.12.1 [pan] is one of the heathen gods
My [bone] is part of the human frame
My [note] My whole is a man of
My [anne] is an English queen
My [pope] is the official name of one formally of great power
My 15.2.16 [rat] is a very mischievous little critter
My 5.17.4 [leo] is the name of a former pope
My [napoleon] is a gold coin
My [aaron] is a person of note in the Bible
My [bear] is a wild animal
My whole is a man of distinction

Key N/1 a/2 p/3 0/4 l/5 e/6 0/7 n/8 B/9 o/10 n/11 a/12 p/13 a/14 r/15 t/16 e/17

An open book. The visible pages are blank except for a series of dots.
More intriguing is a series of dots on the back flyleaves with a sketch of Napoleon and the same key. This probably required a sheet to be laid over the dots to reveal their secret message.  Based on the Napoleon code, we doubt anything too earth shattering is hidden. Still… one never knows.

To decode it, ask for Rauner Thayer TA544.L89 1796.