Friday, January 18, 2019

Dubious Drugs

Rev. N. H. Downs' Elixir broadside ad
We know we've posted before about 19th-century drug advertisements, but this week we had some visitors come in to look at our various pharmaceutical-related materials and couldn't help ourselves. Two broadsides, in particular, tickled our fancy. Perhaps some of the draw for these particular items is that they are both from close to home. One proprietor hails from Haverhill, New Hampshire, while the other is based out of Cornish Flat, New Hampshire. In the Haverhill broadside, which seems to extol the healing properties of northern New Hampshire flora, the author goes so far as to try his hand at a bit of poetry. He personifies tuberculosis as "Consumption, gaunt and ghastly," and claims that the disease will "soon will make his dread appearance, / And will seize his hapless victims." The only solution, predictably, is to:

Go and buy some DOWNS' ELIXIR
Some real N. H. Downs' Elixir;
Made of all most healing Balsams
Found in all the Northern forests, --
Balsams of the Pine and Fir tree:
Made in Burlington -- a City
Standing near the Champlain waters...

Go and buy it, and be happy.

Although this broadside ends on a dubiously happy note, the Cornish Flat broadside begins on a
"The Woman's Friend" broadside ad
decidedly grumpy note, judging from the portrait engraving of who we assume is the creator and purveyor of this particular medicine. Ironically, the dour-looking man in the engraving is most likely meant to be smiling, and his drug is described as "the Woman's Friend." While the Haverhill ad relies upon a touch of the humanities to move product, the description of the Cornish elixir insists that science is on its side and appeals to universal laws of biologic function. According to the good doctor,  after a few weeks of taking his medicine, "Nature assumes her legitimate office, and at once the delicate girl is enabled to commence aright in a course indispensable to female health and happiness."

To see how chemically-induced happiness was peddled over a hundred years ago, come to Special Collections and ask for either or both of these broadsides. The Haverhill ad's call number is Broadside 000288, and the Cornish Flat ad is Broadside 000101.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Pigskin Panorama!

Map of United Stats showing all of the college football teams as players in uniformThere are three things about this "Pigskin Panorama" that should give you pause. It is from 1939, and it maps all of the college football teams in America. Look at it for a minute--then read about the oddities below.

Enlargment of "All-American" team list
The first two are contextual. Dartmouth has a good football team now--that last few years we have been competitive in the Ivy League, but things were different in the 1938 season. In that era, Dartmouth was a national powerhouse. On the back of the map there is one Dartmouth player listed as first-team All-American, and another listed as second team All-American. All-Americans!

Close-up of Dartmouth player on map
That's one thing. The next one is just how big the Dartmouth player is that is representing team--look around the map, those big players are for the really big teams!

Close up of list of football leagues
Then the third thing--and this is the most interesting. Eight teams are designated as members of the "Ivy League," and Cornell is listed as the Ivy League champion. "But wait," you history buffs cry out, "the Ivy League wasn't formed until the 1950s! How can this be?" You are right, the league didn't come into being until 1954, but the name had been bandied about by sports writers since the 1920s, and this map is for fans, so there you go, the Ivy League in 1939.

To see it, ask for Iconography 1737.