Archive for the ‘Visiting researcher’ Category


Notes on Bertrand Russell

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Bernard Linsky, Department of Philosophy, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada,]

IMG_2856I am a professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Canada, and have been working on the logic and philosophy of Bertrand Russell for some years now. My current project is, with the assistance of James Levine, at that other Trinity College, in Dublin, to edit lecture notes from various courses that Russell taught between 1910 and 1914. Russell became a lecturer at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1910 until he was dismissed over his opposition to World War I in 1916. This was the only period when Russell lived the life of University lecturer, and there are to this date, no notes on his lectures have been published.

Russell was invited to be a visiting professor at Harvard University in the Spring Semester of 1914 when he was giving the Lowell Lectures, later published as Our Knowledge of the External World.  Russell also taught an undergraduate course on Theory of Knowledge, and an upper level course on “Advanced Logic.” Russell had wanted to teach in the Cambridge “Lent” term, and so was only able to arrive in Cambridge, Mass. on March 13th. As the Winter semester began on February 10, 1914, someone was needed to step in to cover the lectures in the course until Russell arrived.

While the famous philosopher Josiah Royce gave the first lectures in the Theory of Knowledge Course, a recent PhD graduate, Harry Todd Costello, was selected to begin the Advanced Logic. Costello gave fourteen lectures before Russell arrived. I was surprised to discover that there were notes from this course, although they had never been published, but remained in the archives of Houghton Library at Harvard. These notes on “Advanced Logic” were by one of Costello’s fellow graduate students, then in his last year, one Thomas Stearns Eliot. Eliot was writing a dissertation on the British Philosopher Francis H. Bradley at the time, and was already a poet, writing the brief “Mr Appolinax” in that year, about Russell’s visit.

To my surprise, no one had bothered to publish Eliot’s notes, as they had his dissertation. Perhaps this was in part because the notes are in the mathematical symbols of Whitehead and Russell’s Principia Mathematica, which was then just published. I have now completed transcribing the notes, and will publish them with some discussion of their significance for understanding Russell’s logic. I don’t think that they help to understand Eliot’s poetry at all, and that may be why English professors haven’t been interested in the notes.

Some time last year one of my very sensible colleagues asked me if I had looked for Costello’s notes from that course. Surely he must have kept them among his papers as a reminder of his famous role as Russell’s Teaching Assistant. I had never thought of this, and immediately started writing to Trinity College to find out about Costello’s papers.

After leaving Harvard Harry Costello became a professor of Philosophy at Trinity College from around 1921 until his retirement in 1957. A bachelor, who lived in housing on campus for years, Costello was a well-known but slightly eccentric character who worked on the faculty Library committee overseeing the operations of the library and even buying books. I would love to know if there are any legends about Harry Costello still circulating at Trinity.  I had found online that the archives in Watkinson library keeps the papers of former faculty members, and so it seemed possible that they would have Costello’s papers.

On May 20th of this year, a little over a week ago, I walked into the archives to be greeted by Henry Arneth, the special collections assistant, who had brought up two boxes of Harry Costello’s papers, and I started to look through them. Within minutes I had found the notes that Costello had lectured from in those first weeks of 1914. They were more detailed than those of T.S. Eliot, who, after all, was just a student in the class. Then I looked through some other material, such as every class list and grade record from every course that Costello ever taught during his career, although he had left the Harvard class list to Russell. If anyone has an ancestor who took a course from Dr Costello at Trinity in those years, you can come to the archives and find it out. (I think that’s public information, but you will have to consult with the Head Librarian Richard Ring.) I also found some philosophical humor in Costello’s notebooks, presumably his own creations:

I am Mr Francis Bradley

When my liver cuts up badly,

I take refuge from the brute

in the blessed Absolute.


There is also a dig at a timorous administrator:

I am, that is, I mean,

I think that I am called

the junior Dean.

The boxes also contained endless lists of books that Costello had bought, presumably for the Trinity College Library, and a list of movies he had seen, including the leading cast. I saw on campus that students at Trinity College still like to go to the movies.

I had showed up at the archives at 10:00, which is the opening time for the public, found Costello’s notes for his own lectures by 10:30 and then looked through the other fascinating things in the boxes for another hour. Then, in among pocket diaries with the movies and book lists, I found a little notebook that contained Costello’s own notes from courses at Harvard. In the last part of the notebook I recognized his notes on Russell’s lectures from 1914! After standing at the front of the classroom for the first fourteen classes, Costello then took his place with the other students, and started taking notes as well. Not only do we have T.S. Eliot’s notes on Russell’s lectures, but we have the even better source of information, Harry Todd Costello’s notes on Russell’s lectures!

Henry Arneth dropped what he was doing and went to the basement and carefully scanned the notes I wanted, and sent me off with a key full of jpg images. Sally Dickinson, the associate curator, helped to find the one book of Costello’s notes, on Josiah Royce’s seminar, that had been published in 1962, and asked me to explain what I had found. I was too excited to think clearly, and it helped to start to tell this story in what I hope is a more coherent fashion. Peter Knapp, the College Archivist, was sadly unwell and away from work, and so completely missed the excitement. My thanks to him for protecting the Costello papers all these years.

Faculty and students at Trinity College should be proud of the history of their college, and of the work that has been done to preserve it in their college archives. I would encourage students to look in books in the College Library, to see if they were donated from Costello’s personal collection, and, by chance, whether he might have written something in a copy of Russell’s works that I should know about.

I’ll be back in Hartford. As I have learned, it is essential to revisit archives before publishing material from them. There is always something in the images that is a bit unclear, and as I can attest, you never know what you will find in boxes in an archive.


Prayer-books for Native Americans

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Professor Sarah Rivett, Princeton University]

Abenaki Prayer Book IHoused in the American Indian Vocabulary Collection of the Watkinson Library are two manuscript prayer books from the eighteenth century, written in the Abenaki language. The prayer books are in the same hand, and on the inside of the front cover of one of them, we have a clue as to who the author might have been: “Father Germain, the last Jesuit missionary of the St. Francis.” Ordained in Belgium, Charles Germain decided to work as a missionary in New France.  He lived among the Abenaki for twenty-nine years, from 1739 until his death in 1779.

Germain lived through tumultuous times of a war-ravaged northeast that culminated with British dominion of North America following the Seven Years War (1754 – 1763). When Germain arrived in the Abenaki community in Acadia, the region was already under British control, as a consequence of the Treaty of Paris (1713) that ended the War of Spanish Succession. Germain was a military strategist as well as a missionary. He worked as a liaison between the government of New France and the Abenaki Indians under his pastoral care. His aim, like that of his predecessor, Sebastian Rale, was to consolidate Acadian resistance by ensuring that Franco-Catholicism left a lasting mark on North America. Committed to his faith and his country of origin, Germain’s proselytizing of Abenaki souls was intimately connected to his disdain for the Anglo-Protestantism.

Language was Germain’s tool of both Abenaki conversion and war strategy. Speaking the language of the indigenous inhabitants of North America proficiently was the best means of communicating Christian doctrine and establishing alliances. Since the French presence in North American paled in comparison to the British, in terms of population and cosmopolitan development, the Indian-French alliance was France’s only hope of survival. Luckily for Germain, his Jesuit predecessors were accomplished linguists. Sebastian Rale lived among the Abenaki in Norridgewalk from 1691 until his death at the hands of the British in 1722. He composed an extensive dictionary that is now housed at the Houghton Library in Cambridge Massachusetts. For Rale, learning Abenaki was an incredibly difficult task. There were no books on the topic, no grammars, and no teachers other than the Abenaki themselves. Rale describes going to sit in Abenaki wigwams for eight to nine hours every day as “a child goes to school.” He spoke as best he could and the Abenaki corrected him. Because of Rale’s work, Father Germain entered a community with a fairly substantial written record of Abenaki. Indeed, we might even speculate that Germain developed his prayer books from Rale’s scribal publications of similar texts. Additionally, some of the Abenaki would have known French while others were used to playing the role of teacher to the Jesuit missionaries in an ironic process of role reversal where the European became the student and the American Indian the teacher.

Abenkai Prayer Book IIScale is the most striking material difference between the Abenaki Prayer Books composed by Germain and Rale’s Abenaki Dictionary, or the monumental Illinois-French Dictionary compiled by Jacques Gravier and also housed at the Watkinson Library. Gravier’s dictionary contains over twenty-two thousand words listed alphabetically, with the Illinois preceding the French. The writing is small, economizing space in the enormous tome bound in marbled leather. Composed over decades, words were crossed out. Corrections were made, sometimes in Gravier’s hand and sometimes in a different hand, possibly that of his successors, Julien Binneteau and Gabriel Marest. By contrast, the Abenaki prayer books are small enough to fit in a missionary’s pocket. Composed of only about twenty leaves, they are sewn together with a thin piece of leather. The design ensures that the books function as useable texts in liturgical and ritual worship. The contents are equally succinct: morning prayers, evening prayers, the Ave Maria, the ten commandments, catechisms, confessional prayers, and psalms. Each title appears in French, as a clue to the priest leading the service, while the text itself is in Abenaki. It is likely that these prayer books were used by priests other than Germain. Such was the case with the Illinois prayer book written by Claude Allouez for Father Jacques Marquette to take on his travels along the Joliet trail. With the aid of such a prayer book, a priest could get by with minimal language skills. The prayers were mnemonic, sung within the context of a primarily oral indigenous language culture. Additionally, many of the Abenaki who had already converted to Catholicism lead the prayers during ritual worship, often more effectively than the priests who were bound by a partial understanding of both the language and the worldview that it represented.

Germain entered into Abenaki territory with the goal of controlling the Abenaki people for imperial purposes. The Abenaki-French alliance during the Seven Years War is the dominant narrative that we associate with this time period. Yet texts such as these Abenaki prayer books suggest an alternative perspective, one in which language both facilitated French desire for indigenous dominance and undermined it. To learn the language, missionaries had to submit to instruction. They had to suspend their education and their linguistic training in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew in addition to several European languages. The indigenous languages of North America were nothing like they had ever encountered, nothing that they could have planned for upon leaving the Old World. To become proficient in Abenaki, Rale would assemble a group of native speakers whom he felt to be the most intelligent and eloquent. Before them, he would recite the catechism and hear their corrections. In doing so, he learned how different the language was from European languages, how delicate the mode of correct expression was. The massive dictionaries produced by Jesuit missionaries at the turn of the eighteenth century were attempts to visually capture the phonetic sounds of the spoken words around them. The catechism functioned as an educational text for native proselytes and missionaries alike. In some cases, this is all we have left of an otherwise lost language.

As anyone who has studied a language other than his or her own mother tongue knows, language is a window into a worldview. Language gives us unique access to another culture. Something is always lost through translation, but in the case of the Abenaki prayer books, something was also gained. These texts became mnemonic tools for priests and proselytes alike. The form of translation reflected in the prayer books was cyclical, from oral to written and then back to oral. In learning the Abenaki language, the Jesuits also learned of Abenaki culture. And while Christianity was a tool of colonization, it also changed through translation. Doctrine, pious practice, and religious expression took on new resonance when expressed through words intended to represent an entirely different cosmos.


The Americanization of a British hymn

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Glenda Goodman, a visiting researcher on a fellowship sponsored by the Bibliographical Society of America]

“It is now translated to America”: British Hymns in the Revolutionary Era

The Watkinson Library at Trinity College has an impressive collection of manuscript music from the late eighteenth century. Thanks to a grant from the Bibliographical Society of America, I spent a few weeks in June on a research road trip in New England, and Trinity was my first stop. Although I was focusing on musical commonplace books and copybooks, at the suggestion of librarian Sally Dickinson I also worked with their collection of annotated hymnals. It was while perusing these volumes that I came across something I hadn’t seen before: a hymnal in which every reference to Britain had been crossed out and replaced with the word “America” or related terms (New England, Western States, United States, etc.) As the assiduous penman noted at the bottom of one page, the entire volume had been “translated to America.”

This volume, owned by one Alexander Gilles, is a copy of Isaac Watts’s Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament.[1] Isaac Watts is a major figure in early American music history. His psalm paraphrases and hymns were sung to existing sacred tunes throughout the British colonies from the time they were published in London in the early 18th century (1707 for his Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1719 for The Psalms of David). Decades after Watts died in 1748 his poetry exerted a strong influence on musical trends, inspiring the New England psalmodists who were America’s first homegrown composers to write more elaborate and demanding music in the 1770s and 1780s.

Yet while Watts’s poetry remained immensely popular during and after the American Revolution, his frequent references to “Northern Isles,” Britain, and kings were awkward for patriotic church-goers. In 1781 Newburyport printer John Mycall brought forth a new edition of Watts’s psalms from which all references to Britain had been scraped away by a committee of ministers. Four years later Joel Barlow released a “corrected and enlarged” edition of Watts’s psalms. Barlow had been commissioned by the General Association of Connecticut, which decided in June 1784 that they needed a version that omitted all references to Britain. In 1797 Timothy Dwight was asked to make a new revision by that same General Association. From 1781 to 1832 there were nine distinct revision projects that yielded at least 75 different editions or printings of Watts’s psalter.[2]

Alexander Gilles’s patriotic enthusiasm for revising Watts surpassed the official revised versions. His corrections are largely based on Mycall’s 1781 edition, but Gilles added further changes wherever he felt Mycall’s ministers failed to be thorough or go far enough. In more than one instance where Mycall’s edition left “islands” or “islands of the Northern sea” Gilles wrote “nations” or “Western lands.” Bound in with Gilles’s copy of the psalter are a 1772 Boston edition of Watts’s collection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs and a collection of hymn tunes by the Connecticut composer Andrew Law, and Gilles made adjustments to the language throughout those materials as well. Even the index is redacted.

Occasionally Gilles contributed entirely new poetic lines that highlighted his patriotic and anti-British sentiment. For example, in Psalm 147 he wrote corrected the subtitle and first line of lyrics based on the Mycall edition, but also suggested changing the lines “He bids the ocean round thee flow / Not bars of brass could guard thee so” to “He bids the seas before thee stand / To guard against yon distant land.” It’s not hard to imagine that “yon distant land” is Britain, against which Gilles summoned God’s protection for the young nation.

The American Revolution and its aftermath receives plenty of attention at the blog I write for, The Junto, particularly with our coverage of The American Revolution Reborn conference in Philadelphia. Yet much remains to be said about the Revolution’s cultural reverberations, particularly when it comes to sacred music. Gilles’s annotations bespeak a man of diligence and creativity who committed to aligning his religious practice with his patriotism. One wonders if there are more annotated hymnals out there that display other attempts to reconcile sacred worship to patriotic politics. Moreover, further examination could reveal musical consequences from the changes to the psalms and hymns. Last week Roy Rogers suggested we need more sources on the intersection of Christianity and the Revolution. Gilles’s volume seems like a great example of such a source, leading me to wonder if we should be paying more attention to how sacred music responded to and was affected by the Revolution.


[1] Isaac Watts, The Psalms of David: imitated in the language of the New-Testament (Boston: J. Hodgson, 1772). Watkinson Special BS1440 .W3 1772

[2] Louis F. Benson, “The American Revisions of Watts’s ‘Psalms’,” Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society 2, no. 1 (1903): 18-34.


Scarce newspaper on War of 1812

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Samuel Crompton, Professor of History, Holyoke Community College]

Where else but the Watkinson would I find original, bound copies of the little-known newpspaper THE WAR, printed in New York City between 1812 and 1814? Where but the Watkinson could I examine it in the original, crumbly form, and see the occasional pencil mark made by an owner? Only at the Watkinson!

[Curator’s Note: The below was created by the staff of the Lilly Library at Indiana University; their copy is digitized here]

The War. New York: S. Woodworth & Co., 1812-1817.  Samuel Woodworth is better known today as a poet and playwright, but he published a number of newspapers and journals. The War began publication in June of 1812, and Woodworth intended the paper to serve both as a news source and as a history. In a notice published in the first issue of volume three, the editor saw the end of the war in sight and announced plans to include a chronological index to the publication as well as his intent to publish various state documents which “want of room has heretofore excluded.”


Jazzed about an archive!

   Posted by: rring

[Postted by Mario Dunkel, a visiting scholar from TU Dortmund University, Germany]

[Image: W.C. Handy in Battery Park, 1954]

I am currently working on a project that explores early jazz historiography, and I found several fascinating documents in Trinity College’s Edward “Abbe” Niles Collection. Abbe Niles was an early blues and jazz critic, mostly active in the mid to late 1920s. He was close friends with several musicians, including W. C. Handy. Since Niles was also trained as a lawyer, he would often assist Handy with copyright issues and other legal matters. In the mid-1920s, Niles became THE American blues and jazz critic. Together with Handy, he co-edited an amazing volume on blues music (Blues: An Anthology). In 1928 he wrote the Encyclopedia Britannica‘s first entry on jazz.

Some of the most interesting documents of Trinity’s Abbe Niles Collection are the letters that Handy sent to Niles in 1926 when they were working on the book Blues: An Anthology. Niles had sent Handy a draft of his preface (“Sad Horns”) for this collection of blues music, based on interviews that he had conducted with Handy. From Handy’s letters we can learn a lot about Niles’ image of Handy and his music. We also see how several parts of Niles’ manuscript conflicted with Handy’s ideas and how the preface, in the end, became a collaborative project.

The Abbe Niles Collection also includes a number of correspondences between Niles and other major musicians of the 1920 such as Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and many more. It’s a true treasure for scholars working on 1920s jazz and blues.


St. Francis in a Christmas Keepsake

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Patricia Appelbaum, Ph.D., an independent scholar from Amherst, Massachusetts who is working on a book under contract with the University of North Carolina Press]

What I found at the Watkinson was a little keepsake book for Christmas, privately printed in letterpress in 1958. I sought it out because it makes reference to St. Francis of Assisi; I’m researching a book about the ways American non-Catholics have appropriated, imagined, and represented St. Francis. This keepsake book is interesting not because it offers any startling new information, but because it confirms some things that we already know or suspect. It’s always striking when large historical patterns are crystallized in an individual, personal statement.


The editor, offering this booklet to his friends, presents it as collection of prayers for peace from many different times and places. Human beings everywhere, of all colors and creeds, he says, have “prayed for well-being, peace and brotherhood.” He thinks this impulse is especially appropriate at Christmas time, with its message of peace and goodwill.

The booklet includes the well-known “Prayer of St. Francis,” the one that begins “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.” Although St. Francis did not in fact write this prayer, it has been closely associated with him since the early twentieth century, and has been widely used in English since the 1940s. (For a good discussion of its origins, see the articles in Greyfriars Review 10:3, 1996. My book will trace some of its later history.)

St. Francis, then, appears here in a nominally Christian context – Christmas – but also in a multifaith one. The other prayers in the book (if its attributions are correct) are Hindu, Taoist, Jewish, Japanese Buddhist, and Navajo, along with one from the Protestant Martin Luther and another from the Armenian saint Gregory of Narek. This universalistic outlook is one of the surprising paradoxes of 1950s religion. Christianity, in its mainline Protestant form, was generally taken for granted as normative; Protestants were a numerical majority and enjoyed considerable cultural power. Yet there was also a softening
of doctrinal boundaries at that time, both formally, in the ecumenical movement, and informally, in modes of popular religion that cared more about feelings than rules. And a lot of minority faiths were flourishing on the margins. Here is St. Francis in this cultural matrix. (But wait, you say. St. Francis wasn’t a mainline Protestant. True; but by this time he was widely popular among Protestants, unlike most Catholic saints.)

I wonder, though, why the editor chose the theme of peace. 1958 was not a big year for peace movements. Of course the connection with Christmas is obvious (“peace on earth, goodwill to all”). And St. Francis had been associated with peace activism since at least the 1920s. Beyond that, there was a small but growing anti-nuclear movement in the late 1950s.
Still, it would be interesting to know whether the editor had some personal interest or commitment that drew him to this topic.

Finally, I can’t help thinking of another letterpress version of St. Francis. That one, too, was a Christmas keepsake, printed in 1934. Its text was the story of St. Francis and the wolf. Although this is also a sort of peace story, the printer actually chose it because of another wolf – the one at the door of so many people in the Depression era. I’d
like to think that there is some affinity between St. Francis, Christmas, and private presses, but I have to admit that two examples
don’t really add up to a thesis. Still, there they are. Maybe the common ground is that the Christmas season starts people thinking about what they really consider sacred.


[Charles Attebery], Prayers for Peace: Christmas MCMLVIII  (Georgian Press, 1958), Watkinson Private Press Collection

[August  Heckscher], The Fierce Wolf of Gubbio (Ashlar Press, 1934), Special  Collections, Mount Holyoke College.


A Japanese Prayer Book at the Watkinson

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Richard Mammana, graduate student at Yale University]

In connection with an ongoing project on Anglican liturgical translations, I visited the Watkinson Library in February to consult a Japanese-language book I found through a Worldcat search.

This important title is an early translation—perhaps the earliest now extant—of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer into Japanese, entitled 聖公會祷文 Seikōkai tōbun or Prayer Book for the Holy Catholic Church. (The nineteenth-century missionary organizers of Anglican/Episcopal churches in China, Japan and Korea identified their denomination as the “Holy Catholic Church” in distinction from the Roman Catholic Church or any name—such as “Anglican”—that would imply a connection to England.)

Anglican evangelistic activity in the Japanese archipelago began in 1846 with the arrival of Hungarian Jewish convert and medical missionary Bernard Jean Bettelheim in what is now the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa. The second, and major, wave of missionary activity began with the settlement of the American Episcopalian Channing Moore Williams (1829-1910) in 1859 and Anglo-Canadian Alexander Croft Shaw (1846-1902) in 1873. American, English, and Canadian missionaries subsequently co-operated locally in educational, printing, medical and other projects. The title page of Seikōkai tōbun identifies it as 英美宣教著版, or the responsibility of “Anglo-American missionaries.”

The 44 leaves of the book contain, in order: a table of holy days (Easter, Ascension Day, Sundays after Trinity, etc.) for 1880-1892, followed by a table of contents, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and the Litany, all translated from the English 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The table of contents identifies another range of absent material not included in this volume: translations of the services for Holy Communion, the baptism of infants, private baptism, the baptism of adults, the catechism, and the rite for confirmation by a bishop. The title page does not indicate a place of publication.

The text is presented in traditional Japanese book format, namely, text in vertical downward columns following from right to left on the page. To the right of each Chinese character (kanji) in the text, the translators have provided the Japanese syllabic equivalent in furigana as a reading aid. This was likely useful primarily for missionaries, but could also have been helpful for native speakers of Japanese with lower levels of reading ability.

The titles for Morning Prayer (早禱文), Evening Prayer (晩禱文), Holy Communion (聖餐式), and the Catechism (公會問答) are remarkable for their stability from this translation through the 1959 translation of the Book of Common Prayer into Japanese. It is notable that the name for the Litany in this translation is the English-derived Ritanii (リタニー), rather than the later Japanese-language version 嘆願 or Tangan.

One notable aspect of the text of this translation is that it uses the characters ヱホバ (Ehoba) as a Japanese-language equivalent for Jehovah in liturgical material derived from the Old Testament [see first pic, above]. This decision would prove controversial later, for example in the anonymous 1890 pamphlet On the Use of the Word Ehoba in the Prayer Book of the Nippon Sei Kokwai (Tokyo: Hakubunsha).

Another notable feature of this translation is its inclusion of set liturgical prayers for the Imperial House of Japan. Most contemporary Anglican liturgical translations were made for use in missionary contexts where the Church of England worked alongside British colonial authorities; prayers for civil authorities in these translations—including Cree, Zulu, Mohawk, Melanesian languages, Swahili, etc.—all name the current British monarch, Queen Victoria, in their set intercessions. Instead, this translation was produced for use in a country never colonized by Americans or the British; accordingly, prayers are appointed for the imperial family, which at this time consisted of the Emperor Meiji (1852-1912), Empress Shōken (1849-1914), their children and extended relations.

This translation is not identified in either of the major Anglican liturgical bibliographies: it is not included in William Muss-Arnolt’s Book of Common Prayer among the Nations of the World (1914) or David Griffiths’ Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer 1549-1999 (London: The British Library; New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 2002). Griffiths does list a contemporary title as 67:1 (p. 515):  “(Seikokai tobun . . . ) [offices of worship for the Seikokai] 4º; japanese characters; compiled by a conference of missionaries from SPG, CMS & PECUSA; Part I (morning & evening prayer, litany, collects & old testament lections) was completed at Tokyo in 1879 & Part II (occasional offices) at Osaka in 1882.”

This is not, however, the item in the Watkinson Library’s collection. The title page of the Watkinson’s copy of Seikōkai tōbun says that it was published in the twelfth year of the reign of Emperor Meiji, or 1879; yet its contents do not correspond to the listing in the Griffiths bibliography. It is also not included in the exhaustive Meiji Digital Library of the National Diet Library in Tokyo.

In light of the absence of this title from any Japanese union catalogues and its omission from standard, comprehensive liturgical bibliographies, it seems possible to me that this is a unique extant copy of this title. This is even more likely in view of the fragility of the paper on which this item was produced, and the extensive World War Two carpet-bombing of several Japanese cities with major library collections.

The decision of the Watkinson Library to digitize this item will make a major early Japanese-language missionary publication available to a wide audience. It will also help to expand, correct, and clarify existing Anglican liturgical bibliography, and to supplement scholarly understanding of the ways in which Japanese-speaking Christians worshiped during a period of extraordinary cultural change and exchange.

Pic 1, above:  A text from Morning Prayer using Ehoba as the Japanese equivalent of Jehovah

Pic 2, above: The beginning of the “State Prayers” for the Imperial Family


Wide Awakes at the Watkinson

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Jim Casey, a graduate student in the English Department at the University of Delaware]

As others have noted, The Watkinson Library holds some really fascinating and unmatched materials, ripe for discovery.  One particularly exciting and rare example is this 1855 newspaper The Wide-Awakes.

It was serendipity for me that Richard Ring, Head Curator at the Watkinson, unearthed this rather odd newspaper.  And it really is quite odd in many ways, and even more so in context of the publisher Robert Bonner’s other publication, The New-York Ledger.

Most obviously, the masthead layout on this paper breaks just about every one of the rules. The columns on the sides, two poems titled “Fireside Blessings” and “To an old schoolmate,” are quite a bit higher than they should be.  Usually, as they do today, a newspaper used the spaces on either side of the masthead to give the publication date and place.

It is unclear what prompted Bonner’s peculiar layout here.  The likely cause was the occasion for publishing such a newspaper, as 1855 was the year of a presidential election.  The Wide Awakes formed a large faction of a then in-decline Nativist movement usually known as the American Party.  If the party’s coffers were perhaps shrinking, then maybe they would have asked the printer they had hired to cram in as much as possible.  Or perhaps there was a mistake somewhere in the production process that misjudged the required space.

But the “R. Bonner” on the page is unmistakably Robert Bonner, publisher of The New-York Ledger.  This newspaper was likely included or somehow associated with the NYL collection originally donated to the Wadsworth Athenaeum in 1922 by one of Bonner’s sons.  The existences of The Wide Awake and The New-York Ledger collection at the Watkinson Library are quite remarkable.  No other copy of this or any date of The Wide Awake exists anywhere else.  The same is true for the Watkinson’s complete run of the NYL.

It seems worth noting, though, that both of the margin-invading poems “Fireside Blessings” and “To an old schoolmate” treat on anti-Catholic and anti-Central European bigotries.  The lone explicitly topical item on the front page levies just such an attack on the Irish journalist and pro-slavery editor John Mitchel.  Even more striking than Bonner’s willingness to publish an attack on a fellow countryman (Bonner himself was an Irish immigrant) was his exceedingly rare decision to engage in any kind of politics.  Bonner’s Ledger was almost obsessively devoted to avoiding any kind of political coverage or engagement at all.  News of the Civil War hardly ever appeared in the pages of The Ledger. Perhaps if other copies of The Wide Awake existed anywhere else besides the Watkinson, it would be possible to make a better guess.  Though this masthead claims to be the 33rd issue of the paper, there are no listings that I could find anywhere else.  Short of finding any, I’d like to think that there is some historical irony at play, with xenophobic poems running into spaces outside their usual confines.

It would be remiss of me to tell of this newspaper without mention of its spectacular masthead.  By the 1850s, newspaper mastheads had become fairly standardized in the form that survives today.  The large graphic is likely from a wood engraving, given the imprecise lines and the relative flatness of the image.  It makes the front page of this newspaper into something of a campaign poster itself.  The likelihood that this was a wood engraving also suggests that whoever commissioned this paper did not anticipate needing to print any large number of copies, as the wood plate would have worn out before long.

Many thanks to Rick Ring and everyone else at the Watkinson for help with my own research on Robert Bonner and The New-York Ledger.  The scant history of scholarship dealing with Bonner is perhaps due to the scarcity of surviving materials of any sort related to the person or the paper.  “Perhaps more than any other individuals in the nineteenth century,” the journal American Periodicals writes in their 2010 edition, “Fanny Fern and Robert Bonner are responsible for making professional authorship not only a viable profession but even a lucrative one.”  That the Watkinson holds the only complete record of such a significant story in our literary history is a special treat indeed.