Friday, May 24, 2024

A Pirate Looks at 400

A woodcut image of Gibbs and others throwing people overboard
In April of 1831, Charles Gibbs came clean while awaiting his execution by hanging at Ellis Island. One of the last American pirates of the Caribbean, Gibbs was not actually his real name. Instead, his real name was James Jeffers, and he had been born in Newport, Rhode Island in the late 1790s. Over the course of his short but perversely productive career in pirating, Gibbs claimed to have been involved in the murder of nearly four hundred people. His rationale for so many killings? The sentence for piracy was the same as that for murder, so there was no point in leaving any witnesses behind.

Gibbs' death row confession was preserved by his eager biographers in the form of a chapbook published in Providence soon after his death. In this slim volume, titled Mutiny and Murder, Gibbs reels off an astonishing resume: He claimed to have served on the USS Hornet and USS Chesapeake during the War of 1812, then later became a privateer on the schooner Maria before mutinying against his captain and taking control of the vessel to become a full-fledged pirate. After his villainous crew was decimated by the USS Enterprise in 1824, Gibbs escaped and had further adventures farther asea, first as a commander with the Argentinian Navy during the Cisplatine War and then later as a member of the Barbary Corsairs. Finally, however, his deeds caught up with him. He was captured on Long Island in 1830 after participating in yet another mutiny.

The saga of Gibbs' sordid life was extremely popular well into the mid-19th century: the public displayed a horrid fascination with his sensationalist stories of treachery on the high seas and roving adventures around the globe. As one might expect from a sailor, however, most of Gibbs' confession turned out to be nothing more than one tall tale strung along after the next, the last laugh of an inveterate ne'er'-do-well.

To read the last yarn of one of the last pirates of the Caribbean, come to Rauner and ask for Rare G537.G44 M8.

Friday, May 17, 2024

A Swingin' Green Key

Duke Ellington preforming in Alumni Gym
In the Spring of 1946, Dartmouth was trying to get back to normal. World War II had transformed campus into a training ground for Naval officers and the usual cycle of student life had been utterly disrupted for four years. But with the end of the War, there was a desire to bring back old traditions. One of the first to return was the Green Key Prom so they did it in style by bringing in one of music's biggest stars and among the greatest jazz composers of all time. None other than Duke Ellington regaled the students and their dates in Alumni Gym. As The D reported it:

Dartmouth has been waiting a long time for this one, and tonight Dartmouth will be amply repaid for waiting, when Dartmouth and Dartmouth's girl circle the floor or stand and sway to the mellow golden flow of Hodges' sax or the throaty warble of Kay Davis or the rippling ivories of The Duke himself.

It was a return visit for Duke Ellington and his Orchestra. They had played Green Key in 1937 as well, but this one was special--the specter of war was lifted and folks were ready for party.

To see the coverage, come in and ask for the May 4th, 1946, issue of The Dartmouth.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Theatre of the World

A two page spread showing a late 16th century map of the globe.What did the world look like in 1592? Abraham Ortelius's Theatrvm orbis terrarvum, or, Theater of the world attempts to answer that question. Cited as the first true modern atlas, Theatrvm was initially  published in 1570 in Antwerp, the richest city in the world at the time. Earlier compilations of maps did exist, but this work's combination of the best available maps with textual description lacked precedent.

Our edition is the 19th, with Latin text and a whopping 134 maps. Each map was printed from copper plates engraved by the Antwerp artist Frans Hogenberg and his assistants. While not reflective of global geography as we now know it -- there are, for instance, only five continents in Ortelius's world -- they are a massive artistic achievement, hand-colored and decorated with allusions to Classical and biblical events. We particularly recommend the maps of the Holy Land, Ancient Egypt, and Iceland (which has the best sea monsters).

The title-page for Theatrvm, showing four women representing the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, and the bust of a fifth woan represnting Terra Australis.Ultimately, this book is worth checking out for the title page alone. It features allegorical representations of the five known continents as women, and those images are just as fraught as the modern viewer might expect. We'll draw your eye to the smallest figure on the page -- only a bust of a woman where the other four have complete bodies. This is Terra Australis or Magellanica, the unknown but plenty theorized continent to the south. Europeans would not reach the (already inhabited) Australian continent until 1606, after which the idea of yet another unknown southern continent would persist until the discovery of Antarctica in the 19th century.

To take a look at Ortelius's world, ask for Rare Book G1006 .T5 1592.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Eugenics Exposed: Peering into the Eugenics Record Office's Archives

Front page of the Family-Tree Folder form from the Eugenics Records OfficeIn the early 20th century, eugenics—or the study of optimizing reproduction to promote “favorable traits” in a human population—took root throughout the United States. The scope of projects relating to the promotion of eugenical philosophies—ranging from forced sterilization to encouraging reproduction between “more fit” individuals—influenced policies and projects at governmental, social, and scientific levels. While most principles regarding eugenics have now been proven false and based in discriminatory principles, they were an active area of study and concern for many decades. Consequently, the public interest in the discipline during this time created several unique programs centered at better understanding familial genetics and heritability.

One of these projects, created by the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Eugenics Record Office (ERO), was the “Family-Tree Folder”. The ERO branded itself as “a repository of eugenic data, with an ‘analytical index’ to allow the study of the hereditary transmission of the ‘inborn traits’ of American families.” (EugenicsArchive) The organization built this archive, containing massive amounts of data, through the general public’s completion of voluntary surveys. Questionnaires were mailed to interested parties, who input detailed demographic information about their family members and then sent their data to the Eugenics Records Office for indexing and storage. This personal data was then used for eugenical research projects until the closure of the ERO in 1939.

A Dartmouth professor, William B. Unger, took interest in the study of genetics and heredity. As an employee of the College for 40 years, from 1925-1965, he taught coursework in zoology. His archives housed in the Rauner Library, however, demonstrate a close personal interest in genetics not reflected in his academic research or teaching. A search revealed a copy of the “Family-Tree Folder” he had completed for his own relatives.

This booklet, sent to him on January 12, 1923, consisted of several components. The first was a pedigree chart aimed at tracking marriages, births, and deaths. Beyond explicit familial relationships, the chart also recommended tracking some of the “hundreds of mental, physical, and moral traits which characterize different families”—including traits like “‘leadership’, ‘talent in vocal music’, or ‘alcoholism.’” This pedigree chart was accompanied by an individual analysis card, where each family member was tracked over 62 characteristics. These included genetically-related traits, such as chronic diseases or hair color, and more subjective traits. Examples included “strength, quality, or register in singing,” any talent in “craftsmanship, carpentry, masonry, or stone cutting”, or “nervous peculiarities - excitability; fretfulness; cruelty conceit; self-depreciation; holds a grudge.”

Close analysis of materials like this reflects the nature of the evidence used to support the claims of the eugenics movement. While some elements of the field eventually translated into legitimate practices—such as genetic counseling, a term coined by Dartmouth alumnus Sheldon Reed '28, referring to risk assessment for genetic and inherited conditions like cystic fibrosis—many data points were collected using practices not scientifically backed, on traits subjectively assessed with little genetic correlation. The ERO, however, largely relied on this mode of data collection to fill their archives. Other materials in the papers of William Unger—including a separate survey titled “Record of Family Traits”—utilized identical practices to collect evidence.

Front page of the Record of Family Traits form from the Eugenics Records Office

The eugenical ideas of the early 20th century have largely been disproven, as their foundations often lie on scientific racism and pseudoscientific methods. Closer analyses of “scientific tools,” such as Unger’s Family-Tree Folder, reveal why the data used to prove once certain conclusions has crumbled under increasing scrutiny. Nonetheless, projects like these informed policies that were used to discriminate against and often physically harm communities of marginalized identities nationally for decades. In hindsight, history serves as a reminder of the perils that arise when bigotry masquerades as science.

To review William B. Unger's eugenical data, come to Rauner and ask to see MS-833, Box 3, Folder 102.

Posted for Manu Onteeru '24, recipient of a Historical Accountability Student Research Fellowship for the 2024 Spring term. The Historical Accountability Student Research Program provides funding for Dartmouth students to conduct research with primary sources on a topic related to issues of inclusivity and diversity in the college's past. For more information, visit the program's website.

Monday, April 29, 2024

Munchausen on the Cheap

Handcolored woodcut of Baron MunchausenIf you're reading this blog on the regular, then you likely know what a penny dreadful is. We've got a bunch of them as a result of a significant acquisition made a few years ago. But have you ever heard of chapbooks?

Chapbooks were cheap and ephemeral publications made to fill a demand for reading material by the working class who, while increasingly literate, could not afford to purchase a book outright. Chapbooks were an important means of disseminating popular culture as well as improving literacy rates. In England, roving peddlers called chapmen would depart from London or other printing centers with their bags full of these flimsy, poorly made books and sell them all over the countryside.

The subject matter was always widely accessible, usually centering on popular tales of love and loss, adventures both historical and fictitious, or humor. Traditional ballads and poems were also crowd-pleasers and often would be read or sung aloud at taverns and alehouses. Chapbooks also could be abridgements of well-known novels or other works of literature, condensed for quick consumption. Here at Rauner, we have a chapbook version of Baron Munchausen's Narrative of his Marvelous Travels that was printed in Derby in the early 1800s. Although the original novel was written by German author Rudolf Erich Raspe in 1785 and runs well over a hundred pages, the chapbook is an efficient 21 pages in length and purports to tell only "the most interesting part" of the Baron's adventures.

To see the chapbook, come to Rauner and ask for Rare G560 .B37 1830z.

Friday, April 19, 2024

25 Years of Rauner Library

Dust jacket to A Room of One's Own
This past week we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the opening of Rauner Special Collections Library. We kicked off the week with faculty panel discussions about research and teaching in Special Collections, then had a series of events throughout the week with our various library partners. We were delighted and honored to have Gina Barreca '79, the Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, deliver our keynote address on Thursday. 

In commemoration of Gina's talk, we acquired a truly great work: the first trade edition of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own from the Hogarth Press that includes the iconic dust jacket designed by her sister Vanessa Bell. We already had the fancy limited edition first printing, but the trade edition is really far more important. After all, it was the one people actually read and that spread the Woolfs' ideas about women writers and the social conditions necessary for writing success.

Also out all week was Mario Puzo's 1965 portable Olympia typewriter on which parts of The Godfather were composed. We invited students and other visitors to type up a message. It was an offer that many could not refuse. In fact, it was such a hit, we plan to leave it out in the reading room for a few more weeks if you have an urgent missive that needs that certain special delivery.

Mario Puzo's typewriter

To see the new A Room of One's Own, ask for Rare PR6045.O72 Z474 1929b. For Puzo's typewriter, ask at the desk. When we move it out of the reading room it will be in Box 55 of Puzo's Papers (MS-1371).

Friday, April 12, 2024

The Mystery of the Helms Incident

A photograph of a typed letter.One of the more interesting phenomena in reading archived correspondence is the realization that everyone’s discussing the same event without explaining what actually happened. The writers and the recipients know what they’re talking about and don’t need to summarize for some outside audience — they’re private letters after all. But as a result, a researcher can read pages and pages of reactions to something apparently significant enough to elicit commentary, all while missing out on the instigating incident.

In looking through our collection of papers for the activist and philanthropist W. H. Ferry, we recently came to the conclusion that a man named Paul Helms once got himself in big, big trouble. What kind of trouble, you might ask? The details are frustratingly elusive, but it sounds like he said something about Senator Joseph McCarthy that struck a nerve. Helms was a businessman with friends in politics, including President Eisenhower. He must have put his foot in it, because in 1954 the letters between him and Ferry all begin turning towards the subject of Helms’s apparent censure in the public eye. Helms forwards copies of some of the letters he’s received, containing sentiments such as “I understood you were a real helper in the field of humanity — now I know it was just a cover up for your communist aims” and “We wish you were a good enough American to unlatch Joe McCarthy's shoes.” He warns Ferry not to tell him that he deserved it and in response Ferry assures him that he did the right thing, intimating that the fallout is in fact Eisenhower’s fault. However juicy this sounds, the details of the incident aren’t readily identifiable. 

To try to untangle this particular piece of gossip, ask for ML-21, Box 18 Folder 14.


Friday, April 5, 2024

New Exhibition: More than a Monster: Medusa Misunderstood

Exhibition poster
You might know her from Caravaggio’s famous Medusa, the face of Versace, the book, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, or some other adaptation of the ancient myth.  Medusa is ubiquitous, appearing in Greek and Roman literature (from Hesiod’s Theogony to Ovid’s Metamorphoses) and in architecture, metalwork, vases, sculptures, and paintings throughout history. Yet the most well-known portrayals of her all predictably converge upon one brief moment from her life’s story: her beheading and the use of her decapitated head by a man to petrify others. Medusa then becomes an apotropaic symbol warding off evil, similar to the evil eye. She is imagined more often as an object or a monster than as a human.  Even though Classical and Hellenistic depictions presented Medusa as more human than in the previous Archaic period, the popular conception of Medusa today still upholds her “otherness,” her monstrosity. Modern-day artists have embraced Medusa as an emblem of female power, a beautiful monster, and used her story in the service of social movements; for example, Luciano Garbati’s Medusa with the Head of Perseus went viral in 2020 in connection with the #MeToo movement.

This exhibition, "More than a Monster: Medusa Misunderstood", serves to highlight the other half of her story as it appears in Ovid – Medusa as a maiden, not a monster – her overlooked and overshadowed past. The exhibition was curated by Elizabeth Hadley '23, the Edward Connery Lathem '51 Special Collections Fellow, and will be on display from March 25th, 2024, through June 28, 2024. To learn more, visit the exhibition website here.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Happy (Belated) Purim!

An image of an unrolled scroll with Hebrew text.Last weekend, Jews around the world gathered to celebrate the holiday of Purim, or the Festival of Lots. This joyous occasion, celebrated each year in the Hebrew month of Adar, celebrates the triumph of the Jewish community of ancient Persia against the threat of annihilation at the hands of the villain Haman. Jews traditionally celebrate Purim by dressing up in costumes, sharing baskets of treats and gifts with friends, eating delicious triangular hamantaschen cookies, putting on comedic plays (purimshpieln), and gathering in synagogue to listen to the Purim story read aloud from the Book of Esther. This is the story of how the beautiful Jewish Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai foiled the plot of the wicked Haman, advisor to King Ahasuerus, who sought to exterminate the Jews. Unlike Torahs, which take the form of a double parchment scroll, the Purim story is traditionally written on a single parchment scroll called a megillah, which gives the Book of Esther its Hebrew name, Megillat Esther.

Rauner recently acquired a rare Megillat Esther, written in elegant Hebrew script on parchment. While it can be hard to determine the date and place of origin for Hebrew manuscripts, carbon dating tests performed by the dealer narrowed down the potential date range, and analysis of the Sephardic script and Italianate parchment indicate that it was most likely produced in Italy between 1500 and 1550. According to the dealer, this megillah is one of only 30 surviving copies of this text dating from 1400-1600.

An image of an unrolled scroll with Hebrew text.
Amazingly, the scroll that bears this infamous story of Jewish persecution was produced during another infamous moment of Jewish persecution: the advent of the Jewish ghetto in what is now Italy. The first Jewish ghetto was established in Venice by ducal decree in 1516, in the same time period and approximate location as our megillah. The Jews of Venice and, later, other Italian city-states, were required to live segregated from the gentile population, only permitted to leave the ghetto during the day before being locked in at night. I like to think that for the Italian Jewish community that produced and read this very megillah, the Purim story had special salience and significance - an inspiring story of Jewish survival.

To see our Megillat Esther, come to the reading room desk and ask for Codex 003513.

Friday, March 22, 2024

How much is that in Beavers?

Chart showing items for sale with prices in beaver pelts
While prepping for a class this Winter, we stumbled on an amazing 18th-century chart of prices. It has the typical merchandise you would expect for sale at a remote trading post: cloth, glass beads, shoes, guns, pots and pans, blankets, and other things you might need. But what makes this one so foreign, is that everything is priced in beaver pelts!

A yard of broad cloth would run you two beavers, and a gallon of rum four. One blanket was six beavers, and a pair of cargo breeches three. It seems like a luxury, but two ivory combs were just one beaver.

This system was put in place by the Hudson Bay Company and it radically disrupted the economic world for Indigenous tribes throughout the area, leading to the "Beaver Wars" and upending traditional cultural systems and practices.

The trade goods were a powerful incentive, and the impact on the beaver population can be seen by the annual harvest recorded by the Hudson Bay company in the same report.

Chart of annual fur harvest by the Hudson Bay Company, 1738-1740

To take a look yourself, ask for John Strange 1749 Report from the Committee, Appointed to Enquire into the State and Condition of the Countries Adjoining to Hudson’s Bay, and of the Trade Carried on There: Together with an Appendix (Stefansson  F1060.4 .G774 1749).

Friday, March 15, 2024

Writing "The Blues"

First page of Lizzie Jackson's letterLizzie Jackson, in this letter from February 1853, paints an accurate depiction of someone suffering from depression.  Interestingly, though, she never names her affliction as depression. She calls it “the blues”--even putting it in quotes. Still, she describes the slower perception of time in a way that those who have experienced depression will understand all too well:

“The days appear like weeks to me, and Sunday, I thought night never would come. I have wished a few times that I was with my dear Nat, I have thought of nothing since you left but you, I would give any thing that is have to be with you to night.”

She also describes her low energy level and unwillingness to do certain activities: “I would write more if I could interest you but I know I could not do that when I have the ‘blues’.”

In the 19th century, the “blues” originated with an English phrase “the blue devils,” referring to the symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol. Soon after, the phrase was shortened to “the blues” and associated with sadness and the state of depression and feeling upset, which is the way that Lizzie uses it. A century later, a musical genre would come to be called “the blues” because of the melancholic songs at its heart.

In the 1850s, though, there was an extreme stigma around “the blues” and mental illness. Mental illness was viewed as untreatable and more of a spiritual problem, a perception that was reinforced by the devilish history of the phrase. Society at the time would place people in asylums or call people possessed. With that sort of social stigma, would you want to admit if you were feeling depressed? Lizzie certainly feels the need to hide her depressive state and expresses this need for secrecy, ending her letter with a strict command: “Come home soon. Give my love to Pa, Ma, and all of the family. Let no one see this.” She then goes so far as to not fully sign her name, instead using only the first letter of her first and last name, “L— J—”, to provide her with some anonymity.

While the stigma around depression and mental health has decreased significantly, the need to hide how one truly feels still pervades our culture. According to the most recent data from the World Health Organization, about 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Lizzie writes to her husband because she needs support during this time. Let’s do what we can to support those around us, and reach out to those who are close to us when we need help.

To see this letter, ask for MS-1106, Box 1, Folder 3.

Friday, March 8, 2024

Jamaican Pepper and Turkish Figs

Front page of the 1726-27 grocer's invoiceWe recently acquired two humble yet fascinating little manuscripts that shed an impressive amount of light on the capitalistic and exploitative foundations of British colonialism: early 18th-century London grocery bills. Both of these folio pages supply a wealth of information about what England was bringing home from its colonies abroad for Great Britain's upper class. At the top of both invoices, grocer John Cosins boasts that he "sells the best coffee, tea, chocolate, [with] all sorts of Grocery at reasonable rates."

In this circumstance, these superior groceries had been sold to Sir Thomas Sebright, 4th Baronet of Beechwood Park, in the late 1720s. Sebright was an English politician and landowner whose father-in-law was the Lord Mayor of London. Sebright was also implicated in the notorious "South Sea Bubble" stock market crash; he and other politicians had received gifts of stock in the South Sea Company, which had artificially inflated its value through similar schemes.

Despite his questionable ethics, Sebright seems to be doing quite well for himself years later as he enjoys the fruits of other's labor: pepper from Jamaica, figs from Turkey, and Asian spices like cloves and nutmeg. To have a look at a colonizer's shopping list, inquire at Rauner's reference desk. These items haven't been catalogued yet but soon will be.

Friday, March 1, 2024

In March the Wind Blows Down the Door...

Happy March! We're getting impatient for spring around here and are celebrating the changing seasons with a look at one of the smaller books in our Maurice Sendak collection. Chicken Soup with Rice is a children's book of months, part of the miniature Nutshell Library set. Not quite four inches tall, it lays out each month with a rhyme leading back to the eponymous dish. Here's this month's:

In March the wind
blows down the door
and spills my soup
upon the floor.
It laps it up 
and roars for more.
Blowing once
blowing twice
blowing chicken soup
with rice.     

The Morton E. Wise Collection of Maurice Sendak was presented to the library in 2007 for the tenth anniversary of Dartmouth's Roth Center for Jewish Life. To check out this particular treasure, ask for Illus S467nuts.


Friday, February 23, 2024

Perfection through Portraiture

The title page to the Illustrium Imagines.Can we become more virtuous just by looking at portraits of illustrious people? Yes, we can! This is the claim of 16th century portrait books like the Illustrium Imagines (Images of the Illustrious), published at Rome in 1517. The printer’s preface points out that the noble Romans had portraits of illustrious people “in the halls and even in the very doors” so that “by constant recollection of them, not only in thought but by sight, their minds were encouraged and supported to emulate their glory.” Portrait books offered readers an edifying gallery of portraits in the palm of their hands.

The portraits in the Illustrium Imagines are mostly based on coins – making it the earliest illustrated printed book about ancient coins. It is probably the work of Andrea Fulvio, an antiquarian and Latin teacher active in Rome.

The book’s layout is striking. Ornate woodcut frames surround and “support” coins depicting Roman emperors and members of their families. Brief biographical, historical, or antiquarian notices accompany each coin. Though mostly dedicated to Roman emperors, the Illustrium Imagines includes Byzantine and medieval rulers, but their likenesses are almost entirely imaginary and suggest that medieval coins, despite being nearer in time to Fulvio’s day, were less readily available to collectors.



[The emperor Tiberius depicted in the Illustrium Imagines and a gold aureus issued in 16 CE (image courtesy of the American Numismatic Society).]

The portrait artist (both Ugo da Carpi and Giovanni Battista Palumba have been proposed) has crammed many details into the tiny portraits: craggy wrinkles, exquisitely coiffed hair, and fierce or benign gazes. The inscriptions around edge of the coins, like the coins themselves, are sometimes genuine.

The Illustrium Imagines was widely imitated. Johann Huttich’s Imperatorum et Caesarum Vitae cum Imaginibus ad Vivam Effigiem (Lives of the Emperors and Caesars with Lifelike Portraits, published in Strasbourg in 1534; an earlier edition was printed in 1525) copied many portraits from the Illustrium Imagines, including those of Emperor Galba and his wife. Fulvio's version is below on the left, and Huttich's on the right.

Fulvio's portraits of the emperor Galba and his wife.

But Huttich also corrected many of Fulvio’s errors, added coins to which he had access, and included blanks in cases where he had no coins at hand, such as the empty space shown below where the emperor Leo's image should be. Book owners could draw in their own if they had them.


In the second half of the 16th century, the formula of coin with text was still popular. The French printer Guillaume Rouillé published his Promptuarium Iconum Insigniorum (Treasury of Portraits of Distinguished People) in 1553 (often reprinted; our copy is from 1578). Less concerned with historical accuracy – there are coins depicting Theseus and the Minotaur, for example, as seen below on the left – Rouillé’s work includes historical and contemporary people of note, like modern kings and men of letters. The images below on the right are his renditions of Renaissance luminaries Erasmus and Guillaume Budé.

Rouillé's images of Theseus and the Minotaur      Rouillé's renditions of Renaissance luminaries Erasmus and Guillaume Budé

Fulvio’s and Huttich books held great value for those interested in ancient coins. Rouillé’s has more of a general appeal. But perhaps the most important reason for the success of their books, and Rouillé’s, is the human desire to see (or imagine) what illustrious people looked like. And, of course, to make ourselves more virtuous.

In his preface to the reader, Rouillé suggests that the edifying effect of gazing upon such illustrious people could even result in the reader himself being immortalized in print: “Conduct yourself in this way,” he writes, “so that through the exceptional praises of your virtues, your likeness too might be deemed worthy of a distinguished place in future editions of this book.”

To see the Fulvio, ask for Rare N7585 .F8 1517; the Huttich, RareDG203 .H8 1534; and the Rouillé, Bryant CJ5569 . R73.

Further reading:

Cunnally, John. Images of the Illustrious: The Numismatic Presence in the Renaissance (Princeton 1999).

Haskell, Francis. History and Its Images: Art and the Interpretation of the Past (New Haven 1993).

Madigan, Brian. Andrea Fulvio’s Illustrium imagines and the Beginnings of Classical Archaeology (Leiden 2022).

Pelc, Milan. Illustrium Imagines: Das Porträtbuch der Renaissance (Leiden 2002)

Stahl, Alan. “Numismatics in the Renaissance.” Princeton University Library Chronicle 69.2 (2008), 217-240.

Weiss, Roberto. “The Study of Ancient Numismatics during the Renaissance.” Numismatic Chronicle 7.7 (1968), 177-187.

Published for Daniel Abosso, Subject Librarian (Baker-Berry Library).

Friday, February 16, 2024

Breaking Bread: The Development of Kosher and Halal Dining at Dartmouth

Brightly colored brochure advertising the Pavilion station and showing its location on a map

“[A] joint Halal-Kosher dining venture on campus … would significantly advance Dartmouth’s vision for its future.”

1999 was an important year in the history of food inclusivity at Dartmouth. President emeritus James Wright and the Board of Trustees introduced the Student Life Initiative (SLI) in February of 1999. The main goal of this initiative was to make Dartmouth’s campus more socially inclusive and welcoming, and administrative leaders found that centralizing dining and renovating campus dining facilities would help them achieve this objective. Jewish and Muslim student leaders similarly determined that the creation of a Halal-Kosher dining facility would advance the SLI’s inclusivity mission.

Jewish and Muslim students in the late 20th and early 21st centuries began working together to research the logistics for creating a Kosher-Halal-friendly dining option. They eventually formed a committee, which included the President of Dartmouth Hillel, the President of the Al-Nur Muslim Student Association, and former Dartmouth Rabbi Edward Boraz. This committee collaborated with Dartmouth Dining Services (DDS) to determine what was possible for the future of a more inclusive dining experience. The committee finalized their research in a report titled “The College Committee’s Report on Kosher and Halal Dining.”

Final page of the committee report on Halal and Kosher dining, signed by three committee members

The committee determined that a “dedicated dining facility that would meet the needs of Muslim and Jewish students” would “[e]nable those with religious dietary requirements to feel more at home.” It would “creat[e] a better sense of inclusivity for those who wish to observe these [religious dietary] laws.” Other students who do not follow these requirements would also benefit. A Halal-Kosher facility would “[a]dd to the array of dining options and thus encourage the development of cross-cultural interaction among students.”

In the late 90s and early 2000s, Kosher and Halal dining options at Dartmouth were flawed, limited, or non-existent. The student committee reported that “there [were] no Halal products presently available.” Committee leaders acknowledged the efforts of DDS and Hillel but relayed that “existing facilities [did] not satisfy orthodox standards of Kashrut.” Barring “religious holidays and Friday evening services, Kosher dining [at Dartmouth was] marginal at best.” Dartmouth offered “Kosher sandwiches and microwavable dinners,” but the use of non-Kosher products in microwaves “render[ed] both the microwave and food subsequently warmed in it to be unfit.”

Students adhering to Kosher policies faced additional barriers during religious holidays, despite the Roth Center for Jewish Life serving Kosher-compliant food. Dartmouth Hillel, in response to the “increased demands for improved quality and greater supervision” of Kosher food, “retained Andrew Wiener Catering Service of Boston, an orthodox certified kosher caterer, to provide meals for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and post-fast meals.” However, the “dramatic increase in costs” forced Dartmouth Hillel to “charge half of its cost to the students’ meal plans.” In other words, there were economic obstacles that made dining less accessible for students with certain dietary needs.

Dartmouth administration, working towards inclusivity, began focusing on resolving these issues and accommodating more dietary needs. A Student Life Initiative planning document shared that in November 2000, the College announced that “‘Muslim and Jewish students forge[d] a ground-breaking agreement for a joint Halal-Kosher dining facility’ to be located in Thayer Hall.” This dining facility would later become known as the Pavilion, which still serves Kosher and Halal food options today. The SLI document also stated that College leaders advocated for this dining outlet’s placement in the Collis Center, Robinson Hall, or Thayer Hall: they found that it should reside in a “primary campus dining venue.” Administrators wanted those with these dietary requirements to feel fully integrated into the campus community. This indicates the College’s efforts to make dietary needs — and religious identities — welcome at Dartmouth.

To read the “The College Committee’s Report on Kosher and Halal Dining,” visit Rauner Library and request “The College Committee's Report on Kosher & Halal Dining” in Box 30887 from collection DA-798. For access to the Student Life Initiative planning document, ask for folder “SLI Social Dining” from Box 30373 from collection DA-8.

Posted for Thomas Corrado '25, recipient of a Historical Accountability Student Research Fellowship for the 2024 Winter term. The Historical Accountability Student Research Program provides funding for Dartmouth students to conduct research with primary sources on a topic related to issues of inclusivity and diversity in Dartmouth's past. For more information, visit the program's website.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Fill the Bowl Up?

Glass beer mug with Dartmouth seal etching"If every dormitory man had one identical piece of personal furniture, it was a beer mug."

In 1975, Norman Carpenter '53 was living in Minneapolis and working as an attorney when he decided to write back to his alma mater and raise the alarm about alcohol use at Dartmouth. Carpenter had been receiving treatment for alcoholism for nearly a year when he opened the 1975 Alumni Bulletin Newsletter. He noted with a new "sensitivity" that the commencement and reunion events seemed to all revolve around alcohol consumption. In response, Carpenter wrote to the alumni magazine to share his story and concern for the Dartmouth community's relationship with alcohol.

Carpenter conceded that there was no "hard evidence" that Dartmouth is where he developed a drinking problem. However, after starting treatment for alcoholism in 1974, Carpenter noted an outsized incidence rate of other Dartmouth men and spouses seeking treatment as well. Going back to his Dartmouth experience, Carpenter remembered efforts taken by the administration to limit alcohol use, like a restriction on cup size and restrictions on the times alcohol could be served in fraternities. Still, Carpenter claimed "the strong impression on an immature underclassmen was that acceptance on campus depended upon the ability to imbibe ethyl alcohol. Even among the less impressionable it must have seemed that drinking was integral to the social process, more especially at Dartmouth than at similar colleges." From there, the message of the letter was clear: "...if anything was missing at Dartmouth it was hard facts about alcohol."

While hard facts about alcohol were missing from Carpenter's Dartmouth experience, there was no shortage of drinking mythology to guide students' attitudes. In the alumni magazine, Carpenter's letter appears under the title "Fill the Bowl Up?," a reference that would have been instantly understood as a nod to alumnus Richard Hovey's song Eleazar Wheelock:

Eleazar Wheelock
Oh, Eleazar Wheelock was a
very pious man; He went into the
wilderness to teach the Indian,
With a gradus ad Parnassum, a Bible, and a drum,
And five hundred gallons of New England rum.
Fill the bowl up!
Fill the bowl up! Drink to Eleazar
And his primitive Alcazar
Where he mixed drinks for the heathen,
In the goodness of his soul.

In October 1976, the letter was reprinted in The Dartmouth under the name "No son-of-a-gun for beer," a nod to another quintessential Dartmouth drinking song:

A Son of a Gun
I wish I had a barrel of rum and
sugar, three hundred pound;
I'd put it in the College bell
and stir it 'round and 'round,
Let ev'ry honest fellow drink
his glass of hearty cheer,
For I'm a student of old
Dartmouth and a son of a gun for beer.

In the 1970s, these songs were popular and well-known. While historians agree that Wheelock arrived to Hanover with rum, there's no reason to believe he had 500 gallons. This type of embellishment reinforced Dartmouth's drinking mythology for nearly a century, and typified an environment where manliness was conflated with drinking.

After Norman Carpenter’s words were aired through The Alumni Magazine and The Dartmouth, a series of campus events highlighted discussions surrounding alcohol use and the role of fraternities on campus. The film Animal House, written by Dartmouth '63 Chris Miller, was released in 1978 and brought a national spotlight down on the fraternity system at Dartmouth. Only a week after Animal House aired on campus, Dartmouth faculty famously voted nearly unanimously to abolish Greek Life on campus. Spearheaded by English Professor James Epperson, charges were levied against the Greek system on the basis that fraternities perpetuated a culture of sexism, racism, homophobia, anti intellectualism, and alcohol abuse.

One side of a pamphlet for a 1982 "Alcohol at Dartmouth" conference. The cover shows an empty Dartmouth-branded plastic cup lying on the Green in front of Baker Tower.
The Board of Trustees voted against abolishing the Greek system with the provision that fraternities clean up their act, and a slew of committees were established to study the role of Greek Life on campus. One such committee was the Alcohol Concerns Committee, chaired by Steve Nelson (director of Student Activities at Collis). In January 1982, the Alcohol Concerns Committee held a three-day alcohol awareness conference. As part of the coverage for the conference, The Dartmouth published a profile on Norman Carpenter, claiming that his letter was a "major impetus for the formation of the Alcohol Concerns Committee." One of the capstone events of this conference titled "Alcohol at Dartmouth" was a panel of Dartmouth alumni who were recovering alcoholics, including Norman Carpenter and Chair of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees Sandy McCullough.
Detailed listing of events from the "Alcohol At Dartmouth" pamphlet.

In Norman's original letter, he wrote that he had no intention to "embark on a messianic course to reform" Dartmouth. Instead, he opened his story to the community to ask if it's Dartmouth's responsibility to educate students about the dangers of alcohol abuse. Years later this aim was realized.

To read more about the Epperson proposal, request box 8181 from the Office of Residential Life records (DA-670). To read more about the history of alcohol use on campus, request Rauner Vertical Files "Drinking I" and "Drinking II" (DA-857).

Drinking Songs found on the Dartmouth Review Website "Lost Songs of Old Dartmouth" (https://dartreview.com/lost-songs-of-older-dartmouth/).

Posted for Spencer Mancuso '25, recipient of a Historical Accountability Student Research Fellowship for the 2024 Winter term. The Historical Accountability Student Research Program provides funding for Dartmouth students to conduct research with primary sources on a topic related to issues of inclusivity and diversity in Dartmouth's past. For more information, visit the program's website.

Friday, February 2, 2024

A Donkey in the Chapel and a Pig on the Train

Newspapers illustration of donkey on stage with a studentNo one knew how the donkey had gotten into the chapel. But there it was, standing near the center of the platform, tied securely.

This storied incident took place one afternoon in the spring of 1888. In those days, the Dartmouth chapel was reserved on Wednesdays for a mandatory, school-wide meeting to hear the seniors perform their original oratories. This particular Wednesday, a live donkey had joined in on the presentations.

 Students could tell something was afoot even before they reached the chapel: as W. A. Charles, class of 1890, recounted, “cheers and loud laughter,” emanated from the hall. By the time W. A. Charles entered, the speakers and the English professor were seated on the platform, next to the animal. The only one missing was President Bartlett, who usually arrived at the last chime of the bell.

Newspaper article by W. A. Charles about Donkey on stageWord spread that the president was approaching the building, and the cheers died down. Bartlett entered, and the students stood, watching him ascend toward the podium. Then he caught sight of the donkey. There was a pause; a moment of hesitation. William A. Bartlett, class of 1882 (no obvious relation to the Dartmouth president), wrote, “The president and the animal regarded each other amicably.” Then, reports W. A. Charles, “the students broke into tumultuous yells and cheers.”

What happened next has been blurred by history. One version claims that the president said calmly, “Gentlemen, excuse me for disturbing your class meeting,” and then departed. As William Bartlett chronicles it, the president took the list of speakers in his hand and remarked, “As I call the names you may come up and stand beside your brother and declaim.” W. A. Charles’ remembers an entirely different version: in his account, the president held his hand for silence and then told the crowd, “I perceive one of the classes has lost a brother.” This, of course, provoked a “burst of applause” from the students.

Charles claimed that the speeches went on as usual, the seniors standing right next to the donkey: “whenever a hand was extended as a gesture, the donkey would stretch forth his head, apparently thinking he was to receive some food from the outstretched hand. The student would quickly withdraw his hand and sidestep a little, not knowing what the donkey would do, and of course at every opportunity the student body burst into wild laughter.” The speaker struggled through his oration, the donkey occasionally swished his tail or moved his head, the English professor sat quiet and sour, the audience eagerly awaited an occasion to erupt into giggles, and President Bartlett, by all accounts, never stopped smiling.

Over the next several decades, other animals would be roped into student pranks. According to The Dartmouth, a flock of turkeys was led into the chapel; horses, donkeys, and cows were left in Dartmouth hall; one skunk was hidden in an instructor’s desk; and another skunk–dubbed “Stinky”–was paraded around town, the pet of a student in the class of 1942.

The cleverest of animal “pranks” came in October of 1915. A group of Dartmouth students had been trying to find a cheap way to attend the upcoming away football game between Dartmouth and Amherst. According to the Washington Evening Star, the Interstate Commerce Commission “refused to allow students to ship themselves as livestock on freight trains,” which would have been cheaper than travel by passenger train.

But there was an exception for people caring for livestock. The students devised a plan to ship a small pig on a “special car” to Amherst, with “as many students as possible as caretakers.” If there was enough interest, wrote the Washington Evening Star, another pig would be bought and shipped in a second car.

"Rooters to Ride as Caretakers for Pig," Washington Evening Star, October 27, 1915

No word on what happened to the pig when it reached Amherst, but I’d like to imagine it enjoyed the football game and was not part of the celebratory post-game feast: Dartmouth won, 26-0.

To read more, ask for the “Student Episodes, Pranks, and Diversions” vertical file.

Posted for Kira Parrish-Penny '24

Friday, January 26, 2024

White Sheiks and Flappers

First page of letter from Eastman to WahsburnPreparing for a visit from a delegation of the Osage Nation, we made a stunning discovery in our collection: a letter written in November, 1924, from the Osage reservation by Charles Eastman, Class of 1887, to Carl Washburn, Class of 1925. Eastman was a Dakota Sioux who became a physician after he left Dartmouth. He was a life-long advocate for Indigenous rights, and frequently acted as an intermediary between the U.S. Government and various tribal nations. In 1924, the Department of the Interior sent him to Oklahoma to report on the conditions of the Osage at the height of the oil boom.

His description mirrors the opening scenes of Killers of the Flower Moon. He describes the sudden influx of phenomenal wealth and its impact on the community. He is obsessed with the cars--limos everywhere and a car for every member of the family!

Black Gold letter excerpt

He also visits Rosa Hoots, the Osage woman who owned and cared for that year's Kentucky Derby winner, the aptly named "Black Gold." Then there is his concern with the predatory behavior he sees: dope dealers and bootleggers everywhere, and "white sheiks and flappers" trying to marry into Osage families for their wealth.


Part of what makes the letter so great is its informal nature. Eastman was writing to a young friend who he had helped to get into Dartmouth. This is not his official government report, but an opportunity for Eastman to express his own amazement and concerns. If you have seen the movie or read the book, you have to take a look at this letter.

To see it, ask for MS 924110.1.

Friday, January 19, 2024

A Medieval "Book of Roots"

Original leaf written in Sephardic script on the right (ff. 264v) later replacement text written in Yemenite script on the left (ff. 265r)The Kimḥi family of Provence was a celebrated medieval Jewish family of biblical commentators and Hebrew grammarians. Rabbi Joseph Kimḥi and his two sons Moses and David were each renowned scholars in their own right, but Rabbi David Kimḥi (1160-1235 C.E., commonly known by his Hebrew acronym "Radak") was the most celebrated of all.

Rauner recently acquired a manuscript of Kimḥi's Hebrew lexicon, Sefer ha-Shorashim (literally translated as "book of roots.") First composed in the late 12th-early 13th century, the Radak's Sefer was one of the most influential Hebrew dictionaries in the medieval period. The entries are arranged alphabetically around the three-letter shorashim, or "roots," common to most Hebrew words, with quotes from religious texts and explorations of etymology.

Our handwritten copy of the Sefer was likely produced by a Sephardic Jewish scribe in Southern France or Northern Italy ca. 1370-1430 C.E., more than a century after Kimḥi’s death. Most of the pages are written in a consistent Sephardic semicursive script, on laid paper common in parts of France and Italy in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. It is possible that this scribe, like the Radak himself, was a descendant of Spanish Jews (Sephardim) who fled persecution and settled in the French region of Provence, which during the Kimḥis' time was a flourishing center of Torah scholarship known as Hachmei Provence.

By the 16th century, our copy had found its way from Provence to Yemen, where a Yemenite Jewish scribe painstakingly copied missing leaves and added some of his own marginal notes to the Radak’s text. Subsequent Yemenite owners of this Sefer also proudly scrawled their names and statements of ownership on the first and last leaves of the tome. After all, to own such an old copy of this famous work would have been quite the status symbol, testifying to the owner's material wealth, as well as his intellectual gravitas.

If you can read Hebrew but are still struggling to parse this 18th century inscription, there's a reason for that. It is partially written in Judeo-Arabic, a dialect of Arabic historically spoken by Jews in Arab countries, written using the Hebrew alphabet. Luckily, the dealer provided a translation of the message, which includes a fabulous book curse:

"I merited to purchase this Sefer ha-mikhlol through the labors of my hands. May the blessed Omnipresent give me the privilege to immerse myself in it—I, my descendants, and my descendants' descendants until the last generation. Amen, so may it be [His] will. He who takes it and does not return it—may his name and memory be obliterated from the world, and may he be bitten by a snake. But may the nation of God dwell in peace. [Signed] the humble Joseph, son of our teacher Shuker al-Sarem, may his Rock and Redeemer keep him and may his end be good."

 

Joseph ben Shuker al-Sarem's 18th century inscription wishing book thieves a snake bite.

To see our copy of the Sefer ha-Shorashim, come in and ask for Codex 003515.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Winter 23 Exhibit: The Whirligig of Time

Last year marked the 400th anniversary of the printing of William Shakespeare’s First Folio. To commemorate the occasion, students in Professor Matthew Ritger’s F23 ENGL 15 Shakespeare course curated seven mini-exhibitions that look through a variety of lenses at the connections between Shakespeare and Dartmouth College.

Their collaborative effort, titled “The Whirligig of Time: Shakespeare in the College Archive, 1623-2023,” is on display in the Class of 1965 Galleries here at Rauner through March 15, 2024. For more information, including a handlist of materials, exhibit case text, and a downloadable version of the exhibition poster designed by Sam Milnes, visit the website. If you'd like to see Shakespeare's First Folio, which isn't in the exhibit, come into the Reading Room and ask anyone at the reference desk.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Catching a Break

Rebound cover of Catcher in the Rye, red calfskin with gold toolingOn January 1, 1953, J. D. Salinger left New York City, where he was born and raised, and relocated to the small town of Cornish, New Hampshire. Coincidentally, New Year's Day was also his birthday. Salinger was known to be a private person and the enormous success of his novel Catcher in the Rye (1951) had brought him too much attention in his hometown. So, he escaped the big city to live in a tiny cabin with no heat or running water. Cornish already had a positive reputation among creatives; it had been the residence of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and the Cornish Artists' Colony before the collective's gradual dissolution in the early 20th century. Several months later, in April of 1953, a collection of his short stories, Nine Stories, was published. Salinger lived in Cornish until his death in 2010.

Here at Rauner, we have first editions of Catcher in the Rye and Nine Stories, both signed by Salinger in Hanover on December 17, 1953, nearly a year after he had made the switch to rural life. The circumstances surrounding the autographs are unclear, but we love to imagine this reclusive writer availing himself of our resources during his first year here in the Upper Valley. To see our copy of Catcher in the Rye, ask for Rare PS3537 .A426. Our first edition of Nine Stories is Rare PZ4 .S165 Ni 1953.