Friday, August 31, 2018

Cringy Cool

portrait of young DickensThe first response to an over-the-top Cosway binding is either, "Oh, it's beautiful," or, "Oh my God..." with a cynical shake of the head. They both work and, depending on my mood on any given day, I can go either way. Luckily, this week we cataloged a two-volume set of Dickens's Pickwick Papers with classic Cosway-style bindings incorporating portraits. The inside cover of volume one sports a miniature of the young novelist, while volume two shows him in his maturity. So, you can cringe at one and marvel at the other! While you react, you can calm your agitation by stroking the silk endpapers.

Portrait of old Dickens with sil end papers shown
Come on in and take a look by asking for Sine  B767pos. Oh yeah, it also has an original Dickens signature tipped in.
Dickens's signature

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Farmer's Life

Page from Wesley Hunt's 1879 diary
In addition to its many high-profile collections such as the Robert Frost Collection or the Stefansson Collection on Polar Exploration, Rauner Library also contains a number of fascinating smaller collections having to do with the surrounding environs of the college and the state of New Hampshire. One such collection is the Wesley Hunt Papers. Hunt was born in 1850 in Claremont, New Hampshire, about a half hour's drive south of Hanover. He tried his hand at an impressive number of trades over the course of his nearly ninety years of life, including farming, homesteading in North Dakota, working for the railroad, and serving as postmaster of North Charleston.

Over the course of his adventures, Hunt faithfully entered his thoughts into a series of daily diaries that span nearly fifty years. We're fortunate enough to have over thirty-three years' worth of those
Page from Wesley Hunt's 1936 diary
journals, including transcriptions that were created by his daughter. They are fascinating to read. Most of the early entries include comments about the weather, the health of friends and family, and various church and social events. Hunt's short and to the point entry from October 16th, 1879, seems particularly relevant given the heat this week: "90 degrees in the shade: and seven to sleep in one room." As the years pass, Hunt's observations turn at times towards national news and events, demonstrating the importance of radio broadcasting to rural populations in the early 20th century. As a one-time small farmer, and son of a small farmer, Hunt was very interested in President Roosevelt's attempts to protect the farm industry from the effects of the Great Depression. His entry from January 6, 1936, simply says, "36 [degrees] cloudy. We did the wash. Supreme Court killed the A.A.A. [Agricultural Adjustment Act]. Roosevelt upset."

To experience what it was like to live day-to-day in rural New Hampshire over the course of several decades, come to Rauner and ask to see the Wesley Hunt Papers (MS-778).