Friday, November 15, 2019

Sine of the Times (well, they are periodicals ... )

Photograph of Edward Sine as a student
On May 28th of 1993, Edward P. Sine '51 passed away at his home near Seattle, WA. Originally from Buffalo, NY, Sine had graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth and then gone on to earn an M.B.A. at Columbia University. Soon after, he became an investment analyst and never looked back, finding quite a bit of success in the field. Although Sine made his fortune in finance, he was deeply influenced by a professor of Comparative Literature during his time in Hanover. Professor Herbert Faulkner West '22 made such an impression on Sine that his former student once said that West was "the greatest teacher I have ever known. His compassion, his understanding, and, above all, his humanity, made him a giant among his fellow educators."

Title page of the first issue of Punch magazineIn February of 1993, a few months before he died, Sine wrote a letter to the college, informing them that he wanted to make a bequest in honor of Professor West. The gift he gave was a kingly one: 3,000 original watercolors and drawings by noted British illustrators and 6,000 books illustrated by them, about them, or referring to them. At the time, the gift made Dartmouth one of the best research institutions in the nation for the study of the British illustrated book. As Sine said in his letter, he was "particularly delighted that [the collection] is going to Dartmouth College, where it can remain as a permanent tribute to the memory of my friend and mentor."

A full-page illustration from Punch magazine title "Trimming a W(h)ig."Although we have relied upon the Sine collection quite often for teaching purposes, and have blogged about it on occasion, we wanted to promote a little-known sub-category of the collection, namely, Sine Serials. The Sine Serials collection consists of impressive runs of mostly 19th-century British magazines and periodical publications that contain numerous fascinating and engaging illustrations. One of those magazines, Punch, is often considered to be the quintessential British illustrated humor magazine. The first issue of Punch was published in July of 1841; the magazine remained in publication for over 160 years, with only one brief hiatus in the 1990s. Punch's name was a reference to the puppet Mr. Punch of "Punch and Judy," a traditional slapstick puppet show often associated with British culture. Among Punch's achievements is the first use of the word "cartoon" to refer to comic drawings.

To explore any of the fascinating titles in the Sine Serial collection, search the catalog using the keyword "Sine Serials" and limiting the result to Rauner Library. To look at issues of Punch in particular, ask for Sine Serials AP101 .P8.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

"An Acquisition"

Sketch of Henry Turner by Henry B. Atherton, ca. 1862
On March 13, 1862, Henry B. Atherton, captain of Company "C" 4th Regiment Vermont Volunteers wrote a letter home to his wife Abbie. It was just one of many letters he had written since he had been requested by the Governor of Vermont to raise a company. He and Abbie had only been married a year and were separated when they were still newlyweds. What made this letter different from the others was that it mentioned an "acquisition":
Letter from Atherton to his wife dated March 13 1862I am writing at Colonel Veasey’s headquarters. I have made an acquisition today, viz: Henry Turner a contraband 16 years old, bright and active. He left his Secesh Master yesterday. His mother with four children and three grown women have gone to Washington. The boy will go with me wherever I go and finally, I presume to Vermont.
Henry Turner was part of an exodus of black families fleeing slavery after they discovered that the Union soldiers were across the river in Virginia. We do not know why Atherton hired Henry, nicknamed "Vort." Unions soldiers were allowed to have servants and Turner stayed with Atherton in that capacity. In his diary for the day Atherton wrote, "Take a little contraband, 15yr. old from the Provost Marshall’s for a servant with his mother’s consent. His name is Henry Turner [Vort]."

On April 16, 1862, Atherton was severely wounded at Lee’s Mills during General McClellan’s peninsular campaign and resigned on August 12, 1862. It was then that Turner came home with Atherton to Vermont. By all accounts, Turner was accepted into the family. He lived with the Athertons in Cavendish, Vermont, where Henry Atherton’s mother Roxane taught him to read and write and made him clothes.

Henry "Vort" Turner's letter to Henry Atherton
By 1864, Turner had mastered writing and he wrote a letter to Atherton appearing to ask for a wage increase of "one dollar," which Atherton agreed to pay him. That same letter also includes news written by Atherton’s brother Joseph who felt that "Vort has worked hard for the Dollar but has not made so much progress in writing as he ought to." With Henry Atherton being occupied with his legislative duties, Turner worked primarily with and for Joseph on the farm and sawmill.

When he was suitably prepared, Turner attended the Duttenville district school, the same school Henry Atherton had attended as a boy. We do not really know what became of Turner, although, in another letter he sent the family in 1879, he describes his work in Boston as a driver for "the richest man in Cambridge."

Henry B. Atherton’s correspondence is part of his papers (MS-1409), which we have recently acquired and processed.