Month: August 2010

Two new Watkinson blogs

If you liked my previous posts about material in the Watkinson, please see our two new blogs:

The Bibliophile’s Lair (my own blog)


I Found It at the Watkinson! (where I invite guests to blog about Watkinson stuff–students, staff, faculty, alumni, and general researchers).

I hope you enjoy these romps through bibliophily (look it up!)….

Rick Ring, Head Curator & Librarian of the Watkinson

Summer Collection Shifts

Our art and architecture books have a new location within the Main stacks.  As part of a multiyear project to respace our books to accomodate new receipts, all books falling under call number “N” have moved to the east side of Level 2.  Check out their new location, especially after they are joined by 21 new study carrels within the next few weeks!

Certain textbooks on reserve at the library – Expanded list!

For the fall semester, the Library has purchased an additional 22 required textbooks to expand its textbook reserve program! If you are taking a 100 or 200 level course and your textbook costs more than $125, check the library catalog to see
if a library copy is available. Of the textbooks that were purchased last
spring, 11 are required again this fall. Those will also be included on the
textbook reserve list.

To see if your textbook is available on reserve: go to the library catalog’s course reserve tab. For Instructor choose Textbook Reserves, for Course choose Any, then click Search.


Alternatively, you can search the catalog by the title of the textbook.

All textbooks purchased for this project will be on reserve as long as they are used for a course. Reserve books can be borrowed for 2 hours at a time.

UPDATED: This weekend’s hours – we are open!

The library is open this Saturday 10 am – 4:30 pm, Sunday 10 am – 4:30 pm and Monday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm However the 24-hour-zone will be available as a study space 24×7 beginning on Saturday and continuing throughout the semester.

Wiley Online Library launched

The new Wiley Online Library platform (formerly Wiley Interscience) was launched in early August.   It appears that the vendor has fixed the access problems that followed the change. Thank you for your patience during this transition.

Extra! Extra!, what?

The Illustrated London News (1842-1918, and beyond).


London news.jpgIt defies description, dear reader.  Attempting to convey the massive treasure that is the Watkinson Library to the Trinity community will defeat me every time; and anyway, a complete and instantaneous understanding of what we have would blow your mind out like a candle.  Therefore, we must content ourselves with small doses, easily digestible, and trust that the accumulation of these drops over time will serve to immunize as well as inform.


And so, today’s focus, which I noticed last week as a flash of massive blue ornamental covers in the corner of my eye–a pause, and there before me in rows of tomes bending the shelves with their weight,  three-quarters of a century of the Illustrated London News, the pages of which include reports by Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Wilkie Collins and Agatha Chrstie, and scores of other literary lights writing at the height of the British Empire.


In April the Illustrated London News became available online for those who can afford to subscribe–but why squeeze this magnificent set down to a computer monitor?  Come to the Watkinson and leaf through the stately volumes as they were intended to be read (though admittedly, you can’t drink your tea here!).


Library record is here.

O Brasil!

Koster, Travels in Brazil (1817).  (Click
here for the record)

is one of the many fabulous books on Brazil that we have in the Watkinson.  Henry Koster (1793-1820) was the son of a
Liverpool merchant; his father sent Koster to Pernambuco for his health, and to
act as an agent.  The sixteen-year-old
did some exploring and gained strength, eventually buying an island (Itamarac√°)
and colonizing it.  As one bookseller
recently wrote, “though Koster had no intention of writing a book about Brazil,
his friends urged him to do so, as did Robert Southey, whom he had met and
befriended in Portugal in 1801, and whose library he used.”  (We also have Southey’s famous 3-volume History of Brazil, 1810-19, published by
the same house as Koster’s book). 




give you a taste, this is one of the many cool images (a sugar mill), and part
of the rather gruesome description of its operation in vol. 2, pp. 141-3:


mills for grinding the canes are formed of three upright rollers . . . two men
and two women are employed in feeding the mill with cane; a bundle of it is
thrust in between the middle roller and one of the side rollers, and being
received by one of the women, she passes it to the man who stands close to her,
for the purpose of being by him thrust between the other side roller and that
of the centre . . . the negroes who thrust the cane in between the rollers have
sometimes allowed their hands to go too far, and one or both of them having
been caught, in some instances, before assistance could be given, the whole
limb and even the body has been crushed to pieces.  In the mills belonging to owners who pay
attention to the safety of their negroes, and whose wish it is to have every
thing in proper order, a bar of iron and a hammer are placed close to the
rollers upon the table (meza) which supports the cane.  The bar is intended to be violently inserted
between the rollers in case of accident, so as to open them, and thus set at
liberty the unfortunate negro.  In some
instances I have seen lying by the side of the bar and hammer, a well-tempered
hatchet, for the purpose of severing the limb from the
body, if necessary.”

The Man in the Moon

Lynn Fahy, one of our catalogers, mentioned that she had cataloged a book last year which struck her as fascinating–and so it is!  The man who wrote it, John Wilkins (1614­-1672), was a serious theologian and natural philosopher that had some pretty radical (and funky) ideas.  He was Bishop of Chester, a founder of the Royal Society of London (he chaired the initial meeting on November 28, 1660), and a former Master of Trinity College (Cambridge).  We have half a dozen of his books in the Watkinson–the one I want to read is Mercury: or The secret and swift messenger. Shewing how a man may with privacy and speed communicate his thoughts to a friend at any distance, which we have in an 1802 collection of his writings.


In 1638 he published The Discovery of a new world, or, A Discourse tending to prove, that (’tis probable) there may be another habitable world in the moon.  This popularizing book “aimed to expound and defend the new world picture developed by Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler” (DNB).  Among the “propositions proved in this discourse” are: “That those Spots and brighter Parts, which by our Sight may be distinguished in the Moon, do shew the difference betwixt the Sea and Land in that other world.”; “That the Spots represents the Sea, and the brighter parts the Land.” ; “That there are high Mountains, deep Vallies, and spacious plains in the Body of the Moon.” ; “That there is an Atmo-sphaera, or an Orb of gross Vporous Air, immediatey encompassing the Body of the Moon. ; “That as their World is our Moon, so our World is their Moon”.


This copy of the fifth editon (1684) is also interesting for the following note, in an 18th century hand:  “. . . Shortly after this work appeared, the famous Dutchess of Newcastle, meeting the Bishop, observed to him that he had omitted to notice very important points, namely, the accommodations for travellers during their journey to the Moon–Dr. Wilkins replied that she was the last person in the world who ought to make such a remark, as she had built such a vast number of fine Castles in the Air that she could bait at one of her own houses every night during her journey.”

3-D in the 1920s

The World War through the Stereoscope, ed. By Major Joseph Mills Hanson (1927).



We have a great collection on WWI in the Watkinson, and this is just one of the gems I’ve found–very rare in its complete form, with 300 stereographs (old-fashioned 3-D).  A stereograph was “made on the principle of two-eye vision.  That is, the ordinary photograph is made by a camera with a single lens, like a person with one eye, while the stereograph is made by a camera having two lenses set about as far apart as our two eyes.”  When viewed through a stereoscope, the image leaps into the 3rd dimension!  The use of stereoscope faded after the 1920’s, so not only are these literal snapshots in time from the First World War, they are also an exemplary pop-culture artifact of the early 20th century.  The editor, Major Joseph Mills Hanson, was the son of one of the first settlers of the Dakota Territory in 1858.  Commissioned as a Captain in 1916, Hanson saw service on the Mexican border and served throughout World War I, mostly with the 147th Field Artillery (formerly the 4th South Dakota Infantry).  Each stereograph card has a long description of each “experience” printed on the back of the mount. As an example, here is a small portion the text on the back of the LOWER image:

“A BRISTLING FOREST OF BAYONETS.  RUSSIAN TROOPS ON REVIEW.  In this array of bayonetted rifles stretching as far as the eye can look, one sees the evidence of the spirit of militarism which animated all the imperialistic nations of Europe before the World War.  In this race for military superiority Russia fully kept pace with Germany and Austria-Hungary, having a peacetime army of about two million men, with as many more trained reserves.  The upkeep of such huge armies was a very heavy financial and economic burden on the nations maintaining them and it is to be hoped that after the terrible lesson of the World War such armies will never again be brought into existence…”

For the online record of this work, click here.

“Hack work” by the nephew of Trinity’s founder


This is my first post as the newly appointed Head Curator & Librarian of the Watkinson, and I hope to post regularly about things I find in the stacks, as a nice way of giving a rolling report, as it were, to the literally tens of thousands of fabulous items we have here at Trinity, tucked safely in the bowels of the library (sorry for the imagery there).


The People’s Book of Ancient and Modern History, by Henry Howard Brownell. (Hartford, 1851).

Dismissed by one scholar as “strictly hack work and, though conscientiously composed, derivative and prolix,” this sort of book (created and updated by a subscription house) was bread-and-butter work for writers like Brownell, and enjoyed popularity with readers who embarked on their adventures from the armchair. Henry Howard Brownell (1820-1872) was a writer and a naval officer, born in Providence, RI. His uncle (on his father’s side) was Thomas Church Brownell (1779-1865), the principal founder and first president of Trinity College (1824-1831), as well as the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. Nephew Henry graduated Trinity in 1841, moved south for his health (taught in Alabama for a short time), returned to Hartford and was admitted to the bar in 1844, but left law to return to teaching. Brownell was an abolitionist, and in April of 1862 he was so moved by the orders to carry the fight into rebel waters (sent by Captain David G. Farragut to the fleet) that he published a rhymed version (“General Orders”) in the Hartford Evening Press (we do not, alas, have this issue). Farragut was so pleased by the poem, and Brownell was so willing to serve, that the former swore in the latter under his command aboard his flagship Hartford. Brownell saw action in the attack at Mobile Bay (August 5, 1864), and went on to become a minor literary light. Brownell’s papers are at the Huntington Library in California.