img128About 15 years ago we acquired this “carte-de-visite” photograph, taken in the early 1860s, of the “View from Trinity College of the City of Hartford.” This is from the site of the old campus, now inhabited by the State Capitol, looking down across Bushnell Park towards Main Street.

Prescott & Gage (the photographers) were in business from 1861-1865, and Trinity moved its campus from the site in the 1870s.

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17
Feb

Help us restore the Bard!

   Posted by: rring   in Preservation & Conservation, Shakespeare

2nf Folio bindingAs many of our readers know we acquired a “2nd Folio” of Shakespeare in 2012–the second edition (1632) of the first complete collection of the Bard’s plays ever printed (the first was in 1623). This copy resided in the possession of one family for generations–back to the mid-19th century, in fact–and although they took care of it, nothing in the way of conservation has been done to the book in over 150 years.

The 19thC binding is falling apart, the sewing is coming undone, there are water stains, inactive mold, paint and ink marks, food remains, and just a general level of grime present all through the book. Every page must be cleaned with brushes and dry-cleaning erasers, tears in the pages mended with Japanese paper, older (and clumsier) repairs must be fixed or undone and re-done, and fragile edges reinforced so that the binder can put it all back together (including facsimiles of the seven missing leaves).

We have selected Marie Oedel as our conservator–who serves in that capacity to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Library (please see her website for her many credentials). Our binder is Sam Ellenport, a master of his craft who ran the Harcourt Bindery in Boston for 40 years.

Our goal is to raise $5,000 for this project–please e-mail richard.ring@trincoll.edu if you would like to help!

Here are some pics of water damage, mold, and tears present in the book:

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17
Feb

19thC American almanacs

   Posted by: rring   in Americana, book history, New acquisition

IMG_3022Our major acquisition effort this year has been to amass a research collection of  American almanacs, primarily from the nineteenth-century. This array of over 1,100 almanacs came from three sources (two dealers, and one private collection); they were printed in thirteen (13) different states, and range in date from 1782-1924, but the bulk of them (90%) date from 1801-1885.

Prior to this acquisition, the Watkinson held about 85 American almanacs dating from 1675-1875, and of course, through the College Library’s subscription to Early American Imprints, Series I & II, we have online access to some 4,800 American almanacs printed prior to 1819. Our 19th-century holdings, however, were rather anemic. Some 10,000 titles in millions of copies were published throughout the 19thC, so now we can at least say that we have a significant sample for research purposes.

As towns grew along the coasts and rivers and highways of young America, each larger settlement had its printer, who produced local almanacs every fall, from which his profits covered many of his expenses. Not only do they contain calenders, astronomical calculations and astrological information, they also include moral and religious advice, scientific observations, historical and political information, medicine, cookery, weather predictions, geography, poetry, anecdotes, and information related to government, schools, transportation, and business. following is a breakdown of the collection, in terms of state of origin, number of titles, and inclusive dates of publication (i.e., “Massachusetts (287) 1755-1860″ means that we have 287 almanacs with various titles printed in Massachusetts published between 1755 and 1860)

Massachusetts (287) 1755-1860; Connecticut (245) 1796-1873; New York (227) 1793-1885; Pennsylvania (148) 1794-1861; New Hampshire (124) 1804-1871; Maine (32) 1826-1924; Maryland (17) 1811-1860; Rhode Island (17) 1782-1849; New Jersey (12) 1828-1881; Vermont (8) 1808-1858; Virginia (6) 1841-1856); Delaware (3) 1823-1824; Ohio (3) 1843-1856.

SharpeWe recently acquired a correspondence consisting of 37 letters between Connecticut native, Sergeant Kenneth C. Sharpe, and his family from 1917 until 1922 while he was stationed with the army during World War I along with a photograph of Sharpe. Most of the correspondence is from Sharpe to his family with some response from his mother.

Kenneth C. Sharpe enlisted in the medical department of the U.S. Army in 1917 and began his training at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana. He writes to his family, “I had a little touch of home-sickness when I didn’t hear from anyone…It seems just as thought the ones who volunteer are forgotten, for all the fuss is made over the drafted men. Well, I know I went in of my own accord, anyway.”

Shortly after Indiana he was sent to Fort Devens in Massachusetts where he learned of the Amy’s plans to form a new squadron of 27 men with an emphasis on sanitation, and Sharpe along with his friend, Ray, put their names in to volunteer for a position.

In February, 1918 he writes, “It is a branch of the Medical Department and a part of the division. There are to be 3 squads in all, two of them going across a month before the division goes…The work is just what the name suggests, sanitation in every form and the men in the squad supervise the work, details from other units doing the actual work when the job is too big. The squads will prepare the ground for the division. Test the wells and water supply, taking specimens to be tested in the laboratory. Investigate sanitary conditions in the surrounding villages…along the route of travel to the front, disposal of waste such as manure, dead mules and horses after battles, keeping down the growth of mosquitoes and all kinds of such work.”

By World War I the need for such a division had increased greatly and after much petitioning to Congress Surgeon General William C. Gorgas was able to convince the US government of this. By June 1917 a sanitary squad had been commissioned; “the organization enrolled newly commissioned officers with “special skills in sanitation, sanitary engineering, in bacteriology, or other sciences related to sanitation and preventive medicine, or who possess other knowledge of special advantage to the Medical Department.” Less than a year later Sharpe would be among this group.

I am pleased to announce a bumper crop of Fellows this spring!

Lundergan photoAmanda Lundergan ‘17 will create a short film project based on and exemplifying the symbols she encounters in the Watkinson’s extensive collection of material related to the poet Robert Frost. Amanda is originally from Raymond, New Hampshire (close to the Frost Farm in Derry). She is currently in her sophomore year at Trinity College, where she is majoring in Sociology. She is involved on campus through the Trinity Tripod, where she is the Arts and Entertainment co-editor.

 

MoranJohn Moran ’15 is a San Francisco native in his senior year at Trinity College.  He studies English with a focus in Creative Writing, and spends most of his time writing and composing music.  He hopes to explore the work of great American lyricists of the past to better build up his own body of work.

 

 

MullenAshley Mullen ’15 plans to write a novella of about 60,000 words based on the Watkinson’s collection of 19thC diaries by women, etiquette guides, and home magazines like Godey’s Ladies Book. Ashley is originally from San Diego, CA, and is a senior majoring in Art History and minoring in French studies (she spent two semesters in Paris, living with a host family).

 

Shaina VermaShaina Verma ’18 plans to work with travel narratives of foreigners touring the U.S., particularly British-born, like Oscar Wilde (Impressions of America, 1906) and Charles Dickins’s (American Notes, 1842). Shaina is originally from New Delhi, India, and is currently in her freshman year at Trinity College, where she is a double major in Mathematics and English, whilst considering a minor in Computer Science. She attended boarding school in England, which further fostered her childhood love of books. She is currently working towards a Private Pilot’s License, as well being proficient in Kuchipudi (a Classical Indian dance form).

VillarrealJake Villarreal ’17 will write and perform a set of Slam poetry inspired by the “movement” archives collections in the Watkinson. Jake is originally from Seaside, CA, and transferred from Bates College this year, majoring in International Studies with a concentration in Gender/Sexuality studies. He hopes to use this fellowship to explore how to integrate the arts and social movements, and is working towards becoming an activist for indigenous rights and queer issues.

WatsonSarah Watson ’15 plans to explore the Watkinson stacks and create a “commonplace book” out of what she finds. An English major from Columbus, Ohio, Sarah can be found in the Underground Coffeehouse, singing with the Chapel Singers, and “breaking it down” with the Quirks.  Next year, she is looking forward to being a City Year Corps Member in New Orleans.

22
Dec

Collaborating with HPL

   Posted by: rring   in College Archives, Events, exhibitions, publications

IMG_3013“Bound to Maintain Them”: Prisoners of War and Humane Captivity in the German Empire, 1916-1917 is an exhibition of materials on loan to the Hartford Public Library, which are entirely from the papers of Jerome P. Webster, Trinity Class of 1910. As a special assistant to the American Ambassador in Berlin from March 1916 – March 1917, Dr. Webster inspected over 40 camps and medical facilities across the empire, and the collection holds reports, correspondence, and over 400 photographs related to these inspections.

Shown here installing the show in the Hartford History Center is volunteer curator and Trinity library staffer Jillian M. Hinderliter. From September to December the exhibition was displayed in the atrium of the Raether Library and Information Technology Center, and was one of the “walking tour” stops during President Berger-Sweeney’s inauguration.

img077The exhibition opens officially on January 9th, and copies of the published booklet, researched and written by Ms. Hinderliter, will be available.

 

Six Pack Student ExhibitionsIt is somehow fitting that my 300th post to this blog is about our student exhibition opening on Wednesday night (12/10), which was a solid success, and drew almost 30 students and staff who heard the presentations with interest.

Filling the occasional gaps in conversation, and providing an excellent backdrop as always, was our resident piano player Romulus Perez.

All six shows will be up through June 30th, and catalogs will be available for those who stop in to see them (Monday – Friday, 10:00am – 4:30 pm).

Six Pack Student ExhibitionsThe shows are:

Voices for the Vote: What Women were Saying and Reading during the Fight for Suffrage (Gaia N. Cloutier ‘16)

The Impossibility of Translating Culture (Alix A. de Gramont ‘15)

Aotearoa: The Land of the Long White Cloud (Quirin A. Sackmann ‘15)

Vinegar Valentines (Meghan E. Shaw, graduate student)

Shall We Dance? The Evolution of Etiquette on the Dance Floor (Karen J. Tuthill-Jones, graduate student)

Functional Pottery in America (Mariah J. West, graduate student)

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5
Dec

“This was a man!”

   Posted by: rring   in Classes, Events

Charles_Promo_021The Watkinson (with support from the English Department) hosted a dual celebration–both of the acquisition of the 2nd Folio of Shakespeare in 2012, and of the life and work of Charles Keating, who among many other achievements, had a special Trinity connection in that he worked with generations of Prof. Milla Riggio’s Shakespeare students for almost 30 years.

Three of Milla’s former students came back to talk about the influence that Charles–and Shakespeare–has had on their lives.

IMG_3007Shown here are Kirk Peters (center, who played Othello, and was then the Associate Dean of Trinity; he is now Dean of Student Affairs at Tunxis Community College); Chris Andersson (left, who played Iago, and who is now Director of Admissions at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU); and Kara Molway Russell (right, who played Bianca, and is an English professor at CCSU, teaching Shakespeare!). Also shown here is the original cast of Othello, ca. 1990. Each special guest spoke of Charles’s profound impact on their lives as students of Shakespeare, and it was clear that he served the function of a grand mentor to all of them in different ways.img049

Also present were Charles’s son (Sean) and widow (Mary), and about 25 students from Milla’s current Shakespeare class.

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2
Dec

A gift in honor of our new President

   Posted by: rring   in book history, Gifts

IMG_3003At the fall meeting of the Trustees of the Watkinson Library, Board member John William Pye ’70 gave us an excellent gift of a special copy of his fascinating and detailed book on a major 19th-century publishing figure, James T. Fields, Literary Publisher (Portland, ME: The Baxter Society, 1987). His inscription reads:

“This unique Extra-Illustrated copy of my book on James T. Fields is given this day to the Watkinson Library at Trinity College in honor of the new College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney by the author, John William Pye, November 6, 2014.” It is wonderfully bookish gift from a great bookman.

For those not “in the know” (take my course on rare books!), an “extra-illustrated” book is a special thing. The practice of extra-illustration (also known as “Grangerizing” for reasons too detailed to get into here), began in the late 18th century and enjoyed its greatest popularity during the 19th century.

You begin with a favorite book (often it was the Bible, the works of Shakespeare or an author of similar stature, or a seminal national history, etc.); take it out of its original binding; add in things that relate to the text (portraits, letters, etc.) that are then mounted on leaves (pages) of the same size, then put it into a new, custom-made binding.

img047The original binding of John’s book looked like this, and it is about 1/3 as thick as the extra-illustrated copy, which of course was swelled to its current thickness by the insertions John made. Tthe difference is shown here, with a shot of the fore-edges of each book, side by sideimg048. The left-hand book is the extra-illustrated version.

Inside are manifold and unique bits and pieces that relate to the text. For instance, opposite page 6 is a tipped-in engraving of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, under which is likewise affixed an original autograph signature of that author. The relevant text, on pp. 6-7, discusses how Longfellow, a “young professor of languages at Bowdoin College who was seeking a publisher for his recently translated collection of Spanish poems,” approached the firm Allen & Ticknor, and a deal was made.

Other images included here are a photograph of Dickens with an original envelope which held one of his letters to Ticknor & Fields, a binding cloth sample from an edition of Tennyson, and a royalty payment check.

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14
Nov

Pure Nostalgia

   Posted by: rring   in book history, New acquisition, oppotunities for research

IMG_2969Unpacking 22 boxes of a gift collection this morning has generated pure, unadulterated nostalgia for my earliest passion: reading The Hardy Boys mystery series.

The gift came quite literally from out of the blue. A bookseller in the southwest posted a note to a rare books listserv that his client — a collector in New Mexico — had formed a “study collection” of various juvenile genre series (nearly 700 volumes, including multiple editions of the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, the Little Colonel, The Dana Girls, the Bobbsey Twins, Judy Bolton, Connie Blair, and works by Alcott, Montgomery, Porter, and Wiggin), and she wanted to gift it to an institution. Three minutes after this was posted, I responded, and was the first institution to do so–and therefore got the prize!

IMG_2968And what a prize it is. It joins our other children’s books (ca. 2,000 volumes) which also connects to our Barnard collection (ca. 7,000 volumes)  on early education, effectively allowing our students to study what American youth read from the 1820s through the 1950s.

What we have in this current gift is a small but significant window into the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which produced such an outpouring of works from its “fiction factory” from the 1920s through the 1970s, many of which are still in print. Generations of American youth cut their teeth on these stories, myself included–when I was ten I refused to read anything else, my mother had to wean me off these books and branch out, I loved them so much.

In the 1950′s there were some major revisions done, mostly to update the technology and language (racial slurs were thinned out, etc.)–as one can see from a comparison of the first page of the first Hardy Boys volume, The Tower Treasure, below:

img037On the left is the 1927 edition, and on the right, the revision done in 1959.

A small exhibition of these books will be mounted in the atrium of the Raether Library and Information Technology Center from January to June, 2015.