Archive for July, 2014

[Posted as 5 of 10 in a series on the College Archives by Emma Paine, a graduate student intern from Simmons College]

IMG_2885A prolific writer who published five books and numerous poems, short stories, and essays over the course of his life, Professor Fred Pfeil was also a big contributor to the College Archives—when he passed away in 2005, we received approximately 16 boxes of material including manuscripts, revisions, research notes, and correspondence for nearly everything he published, as well as syllabi, clippings, conference materials, and notebooks documenting everything from his political activism and meditation practice, to his experience as an Amherst student in the late 1960’s and the later development of his own course material at Trinity.  He even saved his Woodstock tickets!

Pfeil_2If you’ve ever wondered how the people who grade your papers go about writing their own, or you’ve heard how hard it was to research pre-internet and want to see this process for yourself, the Pfeil papers (especially box 7) are a good place to look! The items in this box deal mostly with Fred’s 1995 book White Guys, a collection of essays on the representations of white, straight masculinity in rock music, detective novels, action films, and other examples of contemporary popular culture, and they track the development of the book from research to publication.

Sources are at the heart of any research project, and Fred saved many of his! There are whole issues of Time, The Bloomsbury Review, The New Yorker, and Esquire as well as several folders of scholarly articles, newsletters, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and film reviews, some with the inter-library loan slips still attached.  They are all arranged according to Fred’s original labels, which include titles like “Mainstream Press Coverage of the Men’s Movement,” “Alternate Press Coverage of Men’s Mov.,” and “Feminist Response to the Men’s Movement,” as well as the catch-all “Men’s Movement Stuff.”

Pfeil_3We also have Fred’s notes on these sources.  He appeared to prefer the blue examination books for his note taking, and there is one that includes film analyses and quotes from reviews of the films discussed in “The Year of Living Sensitively.”  There are also type-written drafts of  this chapter, each of which shows Fred’s revisions in pen; in fact, one copy has comments written in two different hands, and it’s possible to see how Fred addressed these suggestions (or not) in his revisions!

Pfeil_4Once these drafts were revised, the last step was publication, and there are several pieces of correspondence that show how White Guys was produced and marketed.  One key piece is the author’s questionnaire, which solicited Fred’s ideas for marketing his own book.  Who knew the author was so involved in that part of the process?

If you’re interested in learning more about Fred and his writing, please stop by the Watkinson and ask for the finding aid.

[Posted as 4 of 10 in a series on the College Archives by Emma Paine, a graduate student intern from Simmons College]

Skau_1Born and raised in Hartford, Dr. Evald L. Skau (Norwegian, pronounced “sk-ow”), was no stranger to winning prizes.  As a child, he won the Sunday Globe’s freehand drawing prize, and he also took home the boy’s story prize for his “My Dream About My Kite.”

Skau_2He then went on to win many awards at Trinity, Yale, and the United States Department of Agriculture.  By far his most prestigious award, however, was his 1930 Guggenheim Fellowship, which enabled him to spend two years in Europe studying the purification of organic compounds and made him the first professor in Trinity history to be so honored.

Although he had stayed close to home for most of his life, earning his BS (1919) and MS (1920) at Trinity and returning to the College in 1927 to teach, he was eager to go abroad.  On August 14, 1930 boarded a Red Star Liner to begin the biggest adventure of his life, and he saved a large collection of letters, newspaper clippings, maps, notes, cards, menus, and journals from his trip.

His journals describe a myriad of adventures, from taking daily saltwater baths and playing shuffleboard on the Red Star Liner, to visiting “a really gorgeous array of buildings” at Antwerp’s Tercentennial Belgian World’s Exposition and “ach[ing] for a drink of Hartford or old U.S. water” while searching for a place to live in Munich.   He was so cosmopolitan that no one in Germany every thought he was American, but he shows his roots in several entries like this one:

Skau_3“Things I haven’t seen yet over here: 1. granulated sugar- it is always given out with [unclear] coffee in lumps, 2. Watermelon, 3. Ham and eggs as we know them, 4. Root beer, 5. Good movies

Unusual things you see here: 1. Beer trucks on streets loaded, 2. Small autos, 3. Innumerable bicycles, 4. Man and woman walking along, the woman carrying a couple of suitcases and the man empty handed setting a pace for her, 5. Automatic hall lights: you turn them on at front door + they go out again automatically in 3 minutes 6. Big feather beds 7. Theaters showing classical dramas crowded”)

He struggled to keep up with his journaling as the demands on his time increased, apparently abandoning his journals by the beginning of 1931. However, since he wrote so many letters, there are other ways of following him as he studies and socializes with chemists all over Europe!

For more information about Dr. Skau, his journals, and these letters, please stop by the Watkinson and ask for the finding aid.

[Posted as 3 of 10 in a series on the College Archives by Emma Paine, a graduate student intern from Simmons College]

Campo_1Did you know that 60% of Trinity students travel abroad at some point during their college career?  And did you know that it all started in the 1970’s as an experimental little summer program in Rome?  The highs and the lows of this first year are all documented in the papers of Dr. Michael Campo, J.J. McCook Professor of Languages, Emeritus; former Director of the Barbieri Center for Italian Studies, and founder of study away at Trinity College.

On September 2, 1969, the Curricular Committee voted to approve Dr. Campo’s proposal to establish a Trinity College Summer Program in Rome.  Three days later, the faculty concurred, and Trinity’s first study abroad program was on the way to becoming a reality.   According to the proposal, “Rome [was] a natural center for such a learning experience,” but it was such a “natural center” that Trinity had to compete with several other schools that already offered programs there.  In order to stand out from the pack and attract the 200 students needed to make the endeavor a financial success, Trinity advertised a “broad diversity of course offerings taught by an able faculty,” offering classes like “The Architecture of the City of Rome,” “Elements of Drawing and Design,” “Introductory Italian,” and “Latin Literature in Translation,” as well as an archeology program that allowed students to participate in a real dig.   Lest the very idea of the dig discourage enrollment in the latter, though, Dr. Campo reassured the students: “Do not get apprehensive about the digging,” he wrote, “- there will be just enough to give you an idea of excavation techniques.  It will not be strenuous at all…There will, if course, be good shower facilities at the camp.”

Campo_2Although Dr. Campo faced many challenges when it came to scheduling and advertising the program and enrollment was considerably lower than anticipated, he managed to work out the issues and at 4pm on June 10, 1970, approximately 11 staff members and 112 students set out for a six-week adventure in Rome.  According to the official report, the program went well— any and all difficulties were swiftly overcome and the archaeology students greatly enjoyed excavating a particularly rich Etruscan tomb they lovingly called “Moby Dick” because of the high vaulted ceilings.   Dr. Campo’s personal papers tell a slightly different story, however, starting with a letter thanking him for his “long and newsy letter describing the incredible complications in the program there” and ending with this:

Campo_3Why the orange juice?  Who is Miss DeGrazia?  What happened to her shoes?  Where were they going in the car?  And what happened to the gas pump?  There’s definitely a story (or several) happening here!

To learn more about Michael Campo and the early days of study away, stop by the Watkinson and ask for the finding aid.

[Posted as 2 of 10 in a series on the College Archives by Emma Paine, a graduate student intern from Simmons College]

A mathematics professor by trade, Dr. Harold L. Dorwart was also a fastidious chronicler of history.  His papers, donated to the college in 1979, reveal someone who recognized history being made and had the presence of mind to collect the evidence.  Moreover, in a testament to his mathematical training, he also analyzed that evidence, creating a collection that’s more like a well-edited textbook than the typical box of faculty papers.

Dorwart_1Dr. Dorwart called his text “Trinity College 1967-68: A Documentary History,” and his handwritten table of contents identifies over one hundred newspaper clippings, memos, proposals, posters, and commentary from his rather tumultuous year as Acting Dean of the College.  (It was actually supposed to be a fairly easy job until a diaphragmatic hernia put the President out of commission and left Dorwart to lead the College through a series of five “crises,” including the student sit-in and the “punishment controversy” that followed!)

Sometimes, Dr. Dorwart comes across as a hero, like when he prohibited on-campus military recruiters from reporting student protesters to the Vietnam War Draft Board.  Other times, he comes across as a bit of a villain, like when he attended a student meeting on an unexpected tuition hike and refused to answer the students’ questions (per his superior’s orders).   Most of the time, though, he comes across as an ordinary guy thrust into the extraordinarily challenging situation of saving the College from certain destruction by making everyone happy, all while avoiding the attention of the Press.

Dorwart_2Dorwart_3Although the sit-in is a big part of his collection, it’s not the only momentous occasion Dr. Dorwart experienced and recorded as part of his everyday life.  Several years earlier, he was invited to meet President Dwight D. Eisenhower when the war hero addressed the Trinity campus at the 1954 Convocation, and Dr. Dorwart saved all sorts of invitations, instructions, newspaper clippings, and other ephemera documenting the day.  These items really bring this historic day to life—especially the Trinity College Traffic Control map, which visually documents all of the effort that went into planning the event and reveals connections to today’s Calendar Office.

Dorwart_4Dorwart_5To learn more about Dr. Dorwart and his collection, visit the Watkinson and ask for the finding aid!

[Posted as 1 of 10 in a series on the College Archives by Emma Paine, a graduate student intern from Simmons College]

Professor Harry Todd Costello was recently featured on this blog in connection to his work in the field of philosophy, specifically his connection to the famous philosopher Bertrand Russell.  He served as Russell’s teaching assistant at Harvard in 1914, and his faculty papers contain notes from that course, as well as essays and lectures from other philosophy courses he taught or took.

Although he was very much involved in the study of philosophy, however, Costello was also a professor of Psychology— in fact, he was the only professor in Trinity’s Philosophy and Psychology department until 1927.

The College Archives has several items from his teaching days, including exams for his Abnormal Psychology classes and the syllabus for Intro to General Psychology.  There’s also a newspaper article he might have used as a reading for Abnormal Psychology in Spring 1944.  Of course, Costello didn’t have access to PDFs, electronic course reserves, or even Xerox copies during his 36 years at Trinity, so we can only wonder how he shared the clipping with his class.

Another find is a sheet of notes on “Memory Training,” which he presumably handed out during the first class of Elementary Psychology.  Some of the tips:

  • “Trust your memory.  Think habitually and definitely that you are going to remember.”
  • “In learning a disconnected series, form quick associations, the more bizarre the better.  Get a picture that gets them all in.”
  • “Be rigidly exact in recall.”
  • “Learn to forget the useless.”
  • “Practise.”

Costello_1In addition to items that show how he taught psychology, there are also two journals that demonstrate how he learned the subject as an undergrad at Earlham College in 1907.  Although they didn’t have computers or today’s brain scanning technology, Costello and his fellow students were still looking for ways to objectively study seemingly subjective phenomena, and these journals document their experiments.


Most of the time, the students were each other’s lab rats, and the experiments literally brought them closer together. In one experiment, for example, Costello had to shave the back of his lab partners’ hand and count the “hair stalks” in order to determine the location of “pressure spots.” In another, “Distribution of Taste Sensitivity over the Tongue,” he had to identify prominent papillae on his partner’s tongue and then drop different flavored liquids on each one to determine which papillae sensed which kinds of flavors.   Should we be thankful that the field of psychology’s changed a bit since then?


To learn more about these journals and the rest of the Costello collection, please stop by the Watkinson and ask for the finding aid.


How to Bring Up Baby

   Posted by: rring    in Classes, Students

Kristin1Though raising children will never go out of style, certain fads, methods, or ideas will surely change in the years to come and have definitely changed over the years. Elizabeth Robinson Scovil published her book How to Raise a Baby in 1906, and I was actually surprised to find her methods were not completely off-the-wall or out-of-date. This may be because Scovil was actually a graduate of the Massachusetts General Hospital Training School for Nurses, so it is safe to say that she was well educated and a source that women would have trusted. She was also the author of a number of other texts, including: “A Baby’s Requirements,” “The Care of Children,” and “Preparation for Motherhood.” Her writing did not stop at simple advice on how to be a mother, and she also wrote other books on how to be a proper girl and woman. One of her other texts was “Prayers for Girls,” published in 1924, and “Little Prayers for Little Lips,” published in 1921.



Kristin2Interestingly, How to Bring Up a Baby was provided as a complimentary gift for women along with their Ivory Soap purchases, which explains why the publisher of her text is Procter and Gamble, the popular American consumer goods company. Procter and Gamble insert promotions for their product throughout the booklet. For instance: “No soap but a pure scentless one like Ivory Soap” should be used” (25) or “Children will brush their teeth if they have a tooth wash that tastes nice. There is none better than half an ounce of Ivory Soap (one-twelfth of a small cake) dissolved in four ounces of water with a teaspoonful of rose water as flavoring” (35-36). These examples are not uncommon throughout Scovil’s text.

I unfortunately could not find an image of the particular Ivory Soap product that this booklet was accompanied by; it may have been a variety of products. Instead, I looked into what types of advertisements Ivory Soap had out in 1906. Those, too, unsurprisingly, were directed toward women. Two such ads are included on the previous page. These ads fit into the same vein as the messages within Scovil’s text.

Kristin3Scovil’s books are still available online and do not run for very high prices. They are available from sources like Amazon and AbeBooks. There are various editions of How to Bring Up a Baby listed, ranging in price from $10 to $40. Our Watkinson copy seems to be in better shape than some of the others listed, as its pages are made of some sort of silky, smooth cardboard, and there are no pages missing. There are forty pages in this text, and colored illustrations are included (and dispersed throughout this blog post). Our particular copy appears to have been a gift from the Grom Hayes Library in Hartford, as recorded on the inside cover of the book.

There is no table of contents for the text, but the first page of the booklet is worth noting. In order to be able to personalize her copy of the book, a woman could fill in her baby’s specific details on the first page, as shown on the right. I imagine this was amusing for women reading the book, knowing they could apply the reading material to their own child. In that way, they could know if they were correctly “bringing up a baby.” They could also compare their children’s statistics to what was considered to be average in the day. If their babies fell within normal limits, they could rest assured; if not, they could read on and figure out where they, as mothers, went astray and how to address the problem. This book puts a lot of pressure on the mothers.

Kristin4After this opening page, Scovil provides what could only be considered threatening advice. For instance, Scovil says, “Success in life depends largely on the care that is taken of the health in childhood” (7), and “A child has the right to ask that his parents shall give him a fair start; that they shall not allow him to contract disabilities that could have been avoided by careful oversight” (7). She also mentions that there is too high a “Number of children who die annually from entirely different causes” (7). These causes, she maintains, are preventable with expert care. In fact, she states, “Incessant and intelligent care is necessary to overcome the tendency to disease, and to enable them to become strong” (7).

Kristin5After the first page personalization and her brief note that includes the many threats and warnings, Scovil goes on to write her book about effective childcare. (I use the word “book” lightly because I might consider this more an instructional pamphlet, booklet, or manual than a book.) She divides her book into the following sections: “When to be alarmed,” “Office of the physician,” “Food,” “Sleep,” “Dress,” “Cleanliness,” “Removing stains,” “Ventilation,” “The eyes,” “The ears,” “The nose,” “The teeth,” “The hair,” “The nails,” “Emergencies,” and “Poisoning.” These sections provide pretty solid information, nothing too drastic, but what interested me the most was what Scovil decided to emphasize (with italics) in each passage. Below, I will insert the seven passages from the book she puts particular emphasis on:

“Whenever it should be, and no oftener, Ivory Soap is mentioned; and, invariably, a reason for its use is given” (3). “No oftener?” I’m not so sure about that… Ivory Soap is mentioned 18 times so on average, every other page. This proves the text is intended to be a promotional piece for Ivory Soap.

Kristin6“It may not be out of place, to add that for nearly thirty years, Ivory Soap has enjoyed a unique position in the homes of the majority of intelligent Americans. For bath, toilet, and fine laundry purposes, it has no equal” (4). “Intelligent Americans?” Was this supposed to compliment her readers and make them feel good about themselves? Was this an elitist brand of soap? Is that why she mentions that Ivory Soap is to be used for “fine laundry” purposes? What would be the opposite of “fine laundry,” I wonder?

Scovil mentions that children need nourishing food for their school lunches and may have “a piece of cake but no pastry” (18). Heaven forbid that a child would eat a pastry! She doesn’t elaborate on this advice as the merits of cake versus pastry, but she does allow the children a slice of cake.

“The most exquisite cleanliness is necessary in the care of bottles and everything used in the preparation of the food. The baby’s life depends on this” (15). This emphasis reminds me of the first page. Scovil makes clear the very high stakes involved in raising a child and how essential Ivory Soap is to that undertaking.

Kristin7When speaking of wet weather, Scovil advises that, “The feet should be well shod in thick boots and rubbers. Rubber boots may be worn if circumstances permit of their being removed” (22). I really can’t explain her emphasis here. Aren’t shoes always removed eventually?

Never box a child’s ears” (33). This makes sense; do not physically abuse your child (obviously). I don’t know if the emphasis was because this was a common problem at the time, or if this was something she considered to be highly detrimental to the proper growth of children. Both seem like good reasons to me.

“When a child swallows any small body, as a pin, or a cent, give soft food—potatoes, oatmeal, or bread and milk. Use no medicine. The substance will probably become imbedded in the soft mass and pass safely away” (39). Here, I think Scovil assumes that mothers will panic and quickly resort to any type of stomach medicine available. She further advises that, if the object does not naturally remove itself from the child, a doctor be consulted.

Kristin8Though Scovil’s booklet is an instructional text for mothers, it is also a long and illustrated advertisement for Ivory Soap. I don’t know how much Procter and Gamble paid her to promote their product, but she certainly does so with great frequency—to the point of it being amusing. They had no qualms about inserting promotional material within book. For example (one among many), Scovil insists, “A cake of Ivory Soap is within the reach of every mother, and with this she can keep the skin of her children in perfect condition” (26).  “Perfect” condition is quite a promise. The amount of promotional material in the text actually made me not take Scovil’s advice as seriously. Though she had her nursing degree and gave seemingly wise advice, the consistent ads within her work made me skeptical. I’m not sure this would have had the same effect on women back in 1906.

Scovil’s book and Procter and Gamble’s lengthy ad ends very unceremoniously: When referring to the treatment of bites and stings, Scovil advises, “Cover the part affected with a paste made by moistening baking soda with water, or bathe with a teaspoonful of ammonia in a cup of water” (40). The book ends there, leaving the reader to contemplate Scovil’s advice and when she can make her next Ivory Soap purchase.

[Posted by Emily Leonard for AMST 851: The World of Rare Books (Instructor: Richard Ring)]

IMG_2892Film buffs think of “Tyrone Power ” as the breathtakingly handsome actor who was 20th Century Fox’s top male attraction from the mid-1930s to early 1950s, starring in such classics as The Mark of Zorro or Witness for the Prosecution. Theatrical cognoscenti know that the real star in the family was the film idol’s great grandfather, the first Tyrone Power, an Irish comedian who packed theaters all over the Continent before his triumphal tour of the United States in 1833, ’34 and ’35. Impressions of America is the record of these travels.

My master’s thesis concerns the early Republic and, among other things, how foreign visitors viewed it. Power’s book is particularly important because, unlike the negative reports of his fellow Britons who traveled in the United States in the 1830s, it provides an appealing picture of an ambitious young nation, a bit bumptious but always sure that its destiny lay west and that any enterprising person could find success if only he looked far enough. Since Frances Trollope, Fanny Kemble, and the great Charles Dickens, among others, could find little to admire and much to condemn in American society, Power’s Impressions of America is essential to the development of my thesis. But there was not a single copy to be found on the Internet, Amazon or in local bookstores. It has never been reprinted and, surprisingly, Project Gutenberg has digitized only the second volume. A search of the Trinity College catalog turned up the first edition, in 2 volumes, at the Watkinson. I could now provide the balance I need for my review of the early Republic.  Power’s Impressions of America provides the perfect response to the sharp criticism of observers like Dickens and Captain Frederick Maryatt, whose disdain for all things American so incensed the citizens of Detroit that they hung him in effigy.

Power found the citizens of the young Republic “clear-headed, energetic, frank and hospitable…” (x) His assertion that a “working man at the dinner table was as courteous and well-mannered as the elegant lady who sat next to him” (92) refutes other European travelers’ complaints about “… spitting-boxes, tobacco, two pronged forks…”(346). He had, from the outset, been determined to ignore these minor irritants, while focusing on “the great labors” that were rapidly transforming the nation as it moved west.

The energy and ambition exhibited by the average American made a strong impression on Power.  He described “… a community suited to and laboring for their country and its advancement rather than for their own present generation,”(x) noting the many voluntary philanthropic societies devoted to improving community life and, with some amusement, the American predilection for playing soldier as manifest by the ubiquitous musters of militia in towns and villages during the summer months. These glimpses of democracy in action provided a strong contrast to the conditions in Great Britain and Ireland where powerless workers were in virtual bondage to their employers. Indeed, it may well have been the contrast between his down-trodden, near-to-starving Irish compatriots, suffering under the Penal Laws, and the apparently well-fed, decently dressed house slaves Power encountered in his travels in America’s south that made him so tolerant of that ‘peculiar institution.’

“My days were passed at the hospitable house of

Mr. G——n, where I encountered many pleasant

people; and was attended by the sleekest, merriest

set of Negroes imaginable, most of whom had grown

old or were born in their master’s house: his own

good-humoured, active benevolence of spirit was

reflected in the faces of his servants.” (110)

Power’s comments on New Englanders offer some support for this explanation of his failure to condemn slavery. Although he has only praise for Boston’s “…houses of the largest class, well built and kept with the right English spirit as far as regards the scrupulous cleanliness of the entrance areas and windows,” (102) he is not so flattering about the New England character.

“From both the creed and the sumptuary regulations

of the rigid moral censors from which they were spring,

they have inherited a practice of close self-observation

and a strict attention to conventional form which gives a

rigid restraint to their air.” (125)

Or, in the more generous spirit of gentle teasing which is his usual approach to the foibles of Americans in general, he describes a Boston theater audience:

“[it] ‘…is in the character ascribed to New Englanders that

they should coolly and thoroughly examine and understand

the novelty presented for their judgment and, that, being

satisfied and pleased, they should no longer set limits to the

demonstration of their feelings.” (124)

In one area, Power does echo the negative reaction of his fellow travelers. He depletes the way in which new immigrants, especially the Irish, are treated by the native-born. Noting that the Boston’s Tremont Hotel is entirely staffed by Irish lads, he makes a plea for their acceptance into Yankee society, which he characterizes as one with “…many prejudices inseparable from a system of education even to this day sufficiently narrow and sectarian.” (126)

But his major emphasis is on the rapid expansion of the nation, and the people who are accomplishing it:

“…these frontier tamers of the swamp and of the forest:

they are hardy, indefatigable, and enterprising to a degree;

despising and contemning luxury and refinement, courting

labour, and even making a pride of the privations which they,

without any necessity, continue to endure with their families.

They are prudent without being at all mean or penurious, and

are fond of money without having a tittle of avarice. This may

at first sight appear stated from a love of paradox, yet nothing

can be more strictly and simply true; this is, in fact, a singular

race, and they seem especially endowed by Providence to

forward the great work in which they are engaged—to clear the

the wilderness and lay bare the wealth of this rich country with

herculean force and restless perseverance, spurred by a spirit of

acquisition no extent of possession can satiate.” [216]

The paradox here is why the other British travelers’ generally negative reports on America’s citizens in the early Republic which aroused such ire in both the parlor and the press have been reprinted many, many times, while the work of one who saw us as we like to think we were has been so nearly forgotten?  Thanks to the Watkinson library and the seventeen other rare book repositories holding copies, Tyrone Power’s Impressions of America will continue to be available for scholars to study the young nation as it was creating the myths and the legends that form our modern understanding of America’s history.


The Poet & the President

   Posted by: rring    in Classes, Students

[Posted by Judith Daly for AMST 851: The World of Rare Books (Instructor: Richard Ring)]

IMG_2893American Studies stands at the crossroads of history and literature and I found an item in the Watkinson that is so apropos for the two topics.    The Watkinson holds two copies of Dedication: And The Gift Outright by Robert Frost The Inaugural Address of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Washington, D.C., January the Twentieth, 1961.

Frost was the first poet to recite a poem at the inauguration of a president.  Initially Kennedy asked Frost to recite “The Gift Outright;” a poem published two decades earlier.  But the poet wrote a poem titled “Dedication”, specifically for the inauguration.  However, he had little time to memorize it and when he tried to read it, he could only get a few lines in.  The glare off of the snow on that January day was too bright for the elderly Frost to read.  So he went back to the original plan and recited “The Gift Outright” from memory changing the phrase in the last line to “such as she will become” from “such as she would become” at the new president’s request.

Kennedy and Frost had a history.  At a press conference before Kennedy even announced his candidacy, Frost predicted that the youthful Massachusetts senator would become the next president.  It was at the Waldorf Astoria, prior to a gala to celebrate Frost’s 85th birthday. “Among the questions asked was one concerning the alleged decline of New England, to which Frost responded: ‘The next President of the United States will be from Boston. Does that sound as if New England is decaying?’ Pressed to name who Frost meant, he replied: ‘He’s a Puritan named Kennedy. The only Puritans left these days are the Roman Catholics. There. I guess I wear my politics on my sleeve.’”

Kennedy, in turn, would often close campaign speeches with two lines from the final stanza of “Stopping By The Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

“But I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep.”

Kennedy invited Frost to take part in the inauguration and the old poet replied via telegram:  “If you can bear at your age the honor of being made President of the United States, I ought to be able at my age to bear the honor of taking some part in your inauguration. I may not be equal to it but I can accept it for my cause—the arts, poetry, now for the first time taken into the affairs of statesmen.”

Kennedy’s inaugural address is perhaps one of the most famous American speeches.  (A number of lists online have it as the #2 American speech of the 20th Century after Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream.”) Both of Frost’s poem’s, along with Kennedy’s inaugural address appear in this short book.

The book itself was printed by Spiral Press.  It was a limited edition.  The Watkinson holds two of the 500 copies.  Spiral Press was a small publisher run by Joseph Blumenthal.  Blumenthal was a longtime collaborator with Frost.  He met the poet in 1930 when Frost’s collected poems were published and he continued a relationship with him that lasted over three decades.  Blumenthal was part of the fine-press movement.  Blumenthal cared about the art of book design.  He once said about his work that “Craftsmanship has always been the core, and I’ve always devoted a maximum of effort to every job, big or small, profitable or not, from a book to a business card. “  He was an artisan and he used high quality paper, vintage inks, and an old style typeface that he invented himself.

The typeface was originally called Spiral, after his publishing house.  But once it became available commercially, the name was changed to Emerson.  Emerson is a Roman typeface.   It is noted for wide capitals and distinctive foot serifs of the lower-case a, d, and u.  Louis Hoell first cut it in Frankfurt at the Bauer Type Foundry in 1930.  It was then recut for the Monotype Corporation by Stanley Morison in 1935.  It first appeared in an edition of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature; thus, the name of the typeface.  A distinguished calligrapher, Reynolds Stone, favorably cited the typeface in a review, “(Emerson) avoided the rigidity of a modern face and preserved some of the virtues of the classic Renaissance types.”

The book that I examined was copy 340 of 500.  It is a thin volume; covered with wrappers of tissue. The title page says “Dedication.  The Gift Outright. The Inaugural Address.”  This is followed by the Presidential Seal and the location and date “Washington D.C.  January the twentieth, 1961.”  German artist and graphic designer Fritz Kredel created the woodcut of the Presidential Seal for Kennedy’s inauguration, which appears on the page   The paper has a coarseness to it.  The type is large.  Legibility is one of the goals that the printer Blumenthal aimed for. “Fine printing,” he once wrote, “is not fancy printing. It is simply (if not so simple) an articulate search for clarity.


The World’s Greatest Organ

   Posted by: rring    in Classes, Students

[Posted by Dylan Mosenthal for AMST 851: The World of Rare Books (Instructor: Richard Ring)]

mosenthal2When I was first presented with the opportunity to explore the stacks of the Watkinson, my first inclination was to find something that had to do with organ music. During my four years as a student at Trinity, I studied the organ with John Rose and naturally became increasingly interested in not only organ music, but the history of the instrument as well.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to focus my search on actual sheet music or books regarding the constructions of organs. After all, The Watkinson contained a large collection of both! I decided to first do a broad search in the database to see what I could find. Immediately, I was attracted to the second book listed on the screen. It was a series of musical compositions from 1880 entitled, Arrangements from the Scores of the Great Masters for the Organ”.  Because of the long organ history at Trinity College, I hoped that these compositions would have annotations from organists of years past. To my disappointment, they were in mint condition and seemingly untouched by any organists, and though I found the variety of arrangements compelling, (Bach, Beethoven, Handel, Haydn, Lizt, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schumann), I wasn’t overly intrigued by what I had found. (This was unfortunate, considering the collection consisted of five large and heavy books that Rick had to transport from the stacks on his own!)

After returning to the database, a book entitled, “The World’s Greatest Organ”, caught my eye. Written in 1917, the book described the infamous Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia. The book was small, a pamphlet of only twenty or so pages. It was in very good condition, and certainly had a modest aesthetic appeal compared to some of the other books we had seen in class. The book had a large number of illustrations integrated within the text as well. I was curious as to the reason why the book had been written. At first glance, it seemed to be a marketing tool for the Wanamaker Organ company. But as John Wanamaker himself explains on the second page, the point of the book was to pay homage to one of the greatest organs in the world:

mosenthal1“The Great Organ in the Grand Court of The Wanamaker Store in Philadelphia is heard every year by thousands of people from all over the world. And from many lands, from many lovers of music, have come requests for information regarding it. To give to the public a brief history of this noble instrument, to guide visitors to its many points of interest, and to recall to them at some later time the joy of its melody, this little book is made.”

mosenthal3The first page of the book made an immediate impression on me. It contains a quote from Honoré de Balzac entitled, “The Organ”. The quotation is surrounded by a beautiful border that resembles a picture frame. Not only was I drawn to the beautiful aesthetics of the first page, I also was also infatuated with the first line of de Balzac’s quotation which describes exactly the reason I decided to play the organ in the first place: “The organ is in truth the grandest, the most daring, the most magnificent of all instruments invented by human genius. It is a whole orchestra in itself”. For the past five years, I have tried to explain to those unfamiliar with the instrument the reasons why the organ is, in my opinion, the most “magnificent of all instruments”. De Balzac effectively explains in one sentence the way I feel about the organ.

 mosenthal4The book then goes on to describe a brief history of the “Evolution of the Organ”, citing the legend of “Syrinx” or “Pipe of Pan” to explain the formation of the reed pipes. It explains how organs evolved from a single hollow-reed pip “blown by the breath of man” to the formation of large reed pips and the ultimate birth of the hydraulic organ. The following sections of the book focus on the Philadelphia Wanamaker organ itself. In the section entitled, “The Story of the Great Organ”, Wanamaker clearly doesn’t try to be modest when describing the instrument’s beauty and sound, describing the story of the organ as “one of romance” and explaining that, “So constant is the care given it that there is no moment of the day when it cannot pour out its music untrammeled…It is theoretically and practically a masterpiece, not only the largest but probably the finest musical instrument in the world”. Reading these descriptions validated my original thoughts about this book being primarily used as a marketing tool, for the descriptions were written by the owner of the Wanamaker Company.

On the other hand, the following section was written by someone unaffiliated with the Wanamaker company. In a short essay entitled, “The Thrill of Playing the World’s Largest Organ”, Alexander Russell writes about his experience playing the instrument as a guest performer. He sat at the organ for two weeks, ultimately playing a recital on Bach’s Chorales. He only has words of praise for the organ, and ends the essay by powerfully writing, “This great organ creates music lovers, not once in a while, but every working day in the year”.

Although I enjoyed reading about the beauty of the Wanamaker organ, I found the last section of the book, “A Little Journey through the Interior of the Organ”, to be the most interesting. For the sake of this blog, I won’t bore you with the details about the specific pipes and stops within the four levels of the organ, but I can sum up the section in Wanamaker’s own words:  “This is a veritable forest of pipes”. This section had the most illustrations in the book, and I was infatuated with the descriptions of all of the different levels within the organ. All in all, this book was extremely captivating and well written. The combination of illustrations and text made for a comprehensive look into not only the Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia, but organ history as a whole.


Little Birdie’s Picture Primer

   Posted by: rring    in Classes, Students

[Posted by Margaret Pallis for AMST 851: The World of Rare Books (Instructor: Richard Ring)]

Maggie 1The item in the Watkinson that caught my attention was a primer from circa 1880.  The text, Little Birdie’s Picture Primer, was published by George Routledge and Sons.  The book appealed to me because I’ve been interested in literature written for children for quite a while now.  The book also relates, tangentially, to my thesis (which I am in the process of writing) on children’s fiction of this era.  In my thesis, I am examining the didacticism inherent in literature written for children and, more specifically, how some particular texts written in the mid-19th to mid-20th century can impact children’s lives.  It is possible to suggest that a text like Little Birdie’s Picture Primer was designed specifically to mold children in very specific ways.  Consequently, when I was looking through the extensive collection that the Watkinson contains, I became interested in the primers.  I wanted to see if these books, which are highly didactic in nature, as they were used to teach children to read and write also had a more social or political stance as well.

Before I discuss the particular primer that I selected for this discussion, a bit of history about primers seems appropriate.  Primers were intended as instructional texts for children, principally in terms of religious or spiritual development.  Primer was the original name for a prayer-book, and these were “simple books for teaching children their letters, prayers, and later, other simple subjects” (“Primers”).  Primers have a long history, and early versions were found in the middle ages.  When doing a bit of research on primers, I was reminded of the fact that in Chaucer’s “The Prioress’s Tale” there is a reference to a child who “sat in the scole at his prymer” (“Primers”).  While this was an interesting tidbit, the information was also useful in reminding me that the primer was a significant text for children.  By the end of the 18th century, primers moved from being religious texts for children and moved to more secular learning tools (“Primers”). The primer I selected from the Watkinson is of the latter type as it is not about religious instruction.

Maggie 2Upon first examining the book from the Watkinson collection, I amazed by the appearance of the book.  For a children’s book that was published in the 1880’s, it appears to be in good condition, though it certainly shows evidence of being used in the past and likely by children.  This primer is apparently an 1800 version of the cloth or plastic or hard cardboard books we now produce for young children as the publisher claims, on the cover, that this particular book is the “indestructible edition.”  The book itself appears to be made of a hard cardboard, and the spine is cloth-covered.  The pages of the book are made of linen, and it appears to have been well-read as there is light staining along the outer edges of all of the pages, indicating use.  The front cover is brightly colored, with an illustration of a young boy and girl under an umbrella.  The title of the book is in an engaging font (one that would appeal to children) which is staggered a bit across the front.  The back cover is a repeating picture of frolicking children.  There is a good deal of wear on the corners of the book, front and back.  The last page of the book shows a good deal of wear and, like the first page, is affixed to the inside cover.

The text itself boasts that it includes over 200 illustrations.  The book is clearly intended to teach the alphabet (both the Roman letters and script) and the numbers one through twelve.  As the text introduces each letter, there are a series of pictures of items or animals that begin with that letter.  For each letter, there are six or seven words with corresponding pictures.  Where I became particularly interested was with the inclusion of some words that seemed strongly based in political or social hierarchy. For example, this book teaches children about words like “earl,” “gun,” “globe,” “herald,” “king,” and “queen.”  These words clearly denote a particular mindset.  While king and queen are probably still in children’s books, the inclusion of a word like “earl” suggests that the word selection was intentionally designed to support the political system of the time.

The political system (along with the lesson that this text is attempting to inculcate) becomes even more apparent in the section of the text that uses the words in sentences.  It becomes clear that the goal of this book is not just to teach the letters and words, but also to help children to understand what is appropriate in society and who has authority.  The following sentences, form “G” to “L” indicate the nature of the text: “G was a gypsy who lives in a tent,” “I was an idler and wasted his time,” “J was a justice who punished all crime,” “K was a knight fully armed cap-a-pie,” and “L was a lawyer and fond of his fee.”  What becomes apparent, from these selections and further perusal of the book, is that the children are given a sense of words that begin with those letters (further cementing the lesson of the earlier part of the text), but there is also more direct instruction for the children about appropriate and inappropriate behaviors (i.e,. the idler and gypsy are clearly not favored by society).  The illustration of the gypsy shows a woman with a small baby strapped to her back, standing in front of a dilapidated tent.  But the book also casts dispersion on the lawyer, who seems only interested in money, unlike the justice that is referred to earlier.

The numbers, in contrast to the letters, do not appear to present the same sort of lesson.  Instead, the numbers simply reference elements one might find in the natural world, such as “One Hare,” “Five Fowls,” and “Ten Sheep.”  The book also contains a seek and find picture, in which the child is supposed to find a horse, boy, girl, and tree.  However, the images are quite easy to find, likely because this book was intended for a young child (a pre-reader).

I found this text particularly interesting to examine, as I felt like I was taking a step back into history and was able to get a sense of the kinds of instructional materials available for young children.  Certainly, the text gave me a sense of what adults found was important for children to know.  I also think the publisher might be right; this apparently was an “indestructible edition.”  As a book for children, it appears to have withstood a good deal of use.