Two days ago we held our second annual summer STEM event–this time focusing on the chemistry students and faculty who work in their labs all summer. On display were some of the 19thC prize essays in chemistry mentioned in the previous post, and half a dozen faculty and almost 30 students came by to delve into this collection, and see what was expected of a Trinity student studying chemistry more than a century ago. Those who broke free from their labs got a voucher for a free coffee at Peter B’s.
The Watkinson is pleased to announce the gift of the Leigh Couch Collection of science fiction magazines, consisting of several hundred magazines dating from the 1930s to the 1980s. It is particularly strong in the magazines from the 1950s and 1960s, when experimental, diverse and New Wave writers like Samuel R. “Chip” Delaney, Roger Zelazny, and Michael Moorcock were remaking the field into its modern form. Scores of issues feature the first appearances by many of the most important writers in contemporary science fiction, including Philip K. Dick, Connie Willis, Joe Haldeman, Ursula K. Le Guin, and many others.
Science fiction fandom began in the United States in the 1920s when pulp fiction magazines like Amazing Stories (founded by Hugo Gernsbach, for whom the annual science fiction Hugo Awards are named) were the medium for the development of the science fiction genre, and attracted passionate followers who connected with each other through letters published in the pulps. They began to correspond, form groups, publish the first fanzines (or zines) and many sought to become professional writers. Early fans-turned-pros include Ray Bradbury, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (creators of Superman), and Isaac Asimov (I, Robot).
Leigh Couch (1925-1998) was a fan of science fiction who began reading the genre in the pulp magazines as a child in the 1940s, so she was a pioneer as the fandom was predominantly male for decades. As a Catholic grade school teacher and young mother of three, she become very active in science fiction fandom from the 1960s through the 1980s, along with her whole family. She attended numerous world and regional science fiction conventions and was on the planning and organizing committee of the Saint Louiscon World Science Fiction Convetion in 1969, the year of the Moon landing. She and her husband Norbert C. Couch were popular fan guests of honor at regional conventions in the Midwest in the 1970s.
In a letter to a zine in the 1970s, she recalled, “I don’t think a young fan of today can realize how suspect we were for reading the pulps, and for a girl to read [SF], that was almost proof of perversion!” During her almost three decades of activity in science fiction fandom, she was a mentor to many younger fans, both personally encouraging of their publishing, writing, and art activities, and providing a role model as a mature and professional adult who also took popular culture seriously, publishing zines, writing letters and articles, running and attending science fiction conventions. She published the well-regarded zine Sirruish, which was included in Fredric Wertham’s The World of Fanzines: A Special Form of Communication.
The collection will be available for research in the fall.
[Posted by Peter Rawson, Associate Curator of Archives & Manuscripts]
These essays were submitted as part of a competition among students in to win the first place prize of $30 and the second place prize of $20.
The prize began in 1858 as a contest for seniors and became a junior prize in the mid-1880’s.
Essays were submitted to the Professor of Chemistry. These included Rev. Thomas R. Pynchon, Scoville Professor of Chemistry and Natural Science, 1854-1879; H. Carrington Bolton, Scoville Professor of Chemistry and Natural Science, 1880-1887; Robert B. Riggs (pictured here), Scoville Professor of Chemistry and Natural Science, 1888-1929.
The assigned essay topic each year was predetermined, with topics concerning chemicals, new technology, plants, light, or the metric system. The essays are organized in alphabetical order of the essayists’ last names, and they include both the winning essays and the other contestants’ essays.
We are very happy to announce the gift of an archive of family papers related to early 19thC Hartford from former Trinity College President (1981-89) James F. English, Jr. (H ’89) of Noank, CT. Jim is also an emeritus member of the Watkinson Library Board of Trustees, which he served to our great benefit for 12 years, from 1997-2009.
The papers mostly relate to Charles Pitkin Welles (1811-1876), although other members of the Welles (or Wells) family are also represented. The archive includes correspondence, ephemera, objects, and other documents (like report cards from Hartford High School ca. 1850, insurance policies, invitations, bills, etc.), poetry, diaries, and printed chapbooks and newspapers.
According to his obituary in the Hartford Daily Times (March 4, 1876), “his peculiarly self-contained and reserved character, and his thoroughly domestic and retiring habits” made him almost a stranger in his own town. Born of Quaker parents, “the slow and unruffled Quaker calm not only asserted itself in his ever cool and even blood, but led him away from the stirring outward life” but rather, to the “quite and genial atmosphere of his books.”
“It is related of him that once, when word was brought to him, down town, at night, that his place of business (he kept a drug and medicine establishment, not far from the Main and Asylum street corner) was on fire, he deliberately arose, carefully dressed himself, and adjusted his necktie with his usual care. It did not suit him, and he took it off, and getting another, arranged that to suit him–and then walked up town to see what was going on at the fire.”
[Posted by Sally Dickinson, Associate Curator & Preservation Librarian]
Gaia Cloutier ‘16 worked as a student assistant in the Watkinson Library this year. Gaia came to the job with some prior knowledge of books gained through taking Jonathan Elukin’s class on the Bible and History of the Book. She spent the year working on a special collection of books called the Cage collection. Gaia cleaned, inventoried, verified catalog records, and barcoded call flags which we place in the books (not on the book itself). This collection was originally the rare books collection of Trinity College. Because the books were enclosed within a metal gate, the area became known as “the Cage.” The books range from 17th century histories in multiple languages to books bound in parchment, to Japanese books with color woodblock prints. Some of the older tomes have issues that compromise their structure. Special boxes will be made for these volumes. Timing was perfect: Gaia finished the project the final week of classes at Trinity. Thank you, Gaia!
Originally from Atlanta, GA, May is an English major with a focus on creative writing. This semester she is completing a poetry thesis under Professor Clare Rossini, poet and Artist-in-Residence at Trinity College. Upon graduation, May will be moving to Boston to work in publishing. She hopes to attend an MFA program in the coming years.
The family of Hyam Plutzik (Trinity ’32) provides an annual residency (for five years) in South Beach in the Betsy Writer’s Room to a graduating senior with outstanding talent in the literary arts. The award is bestowed as part of the graduation program (Honors Day). This residency comes with a $500 travel stipend, six days lodging, and a per diem of $50. During the residency, which can happen anytime during the award year, the recipient will be invited to participate in an Arts Salon to share her work with the community.
Recently I was given a tour of the Hartford Medical Society Library, a local cultural/historical gem which (admittedly) is a bit tough to get to, at the UConn Health Center in Farmington, but well worth it.
The HMS was founded in 1846. The Society’s rules, adopted September 15th of 1846, state: “The object of this Society, is to maintain the practice of Medicine and Surgery in this city upon a respectable footing; to expose the ignorance and resist the arts of quackery; and to adopt measures for the mutual improvement, pleasant intercourse, and common good of its members.”
Aside from the historical collections of books and manuscript material, which are fascinating, there are a number of artifacts, many of which are described in a catalogue that the HMS published in 1979.
To learn more about the library and its collections, I urge Trinity students and faculty to contact the Librarian, Jennifer Miglus, who is both friendly and helpful!
The Watkinson has a great Bible collection, including this, the first separate edition of the Hebrew Bible printed in England, preceded only by the printing of the text as part of the Walton Polyglot (which we also have!). Editor Nathaniel Forster (1718–57), an accomplished scholar of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, has included (in the style of the table of contents) “Pentateuchus, Prophetae priores, Prophetae posteriores, Hagiographa”; the leaves following “Prophetae posteriores” are separately signed and printed “Vol. 2.” Based on Van der Hoogh’s version, the text is in Hebrew, with titles and chapter heads also in Latin. Unlike most 18th-century books printed at Oxford, this is scarce. Of the eight reported copies in libraries four are in the Northeast, two in California, one at Duke, and one in Ohio.
Our first librarian, J. Hammond Trumbull, acquired our copy for the Watkinson in May of 1872 from the English firm of Bernard Quaritch, for 15 shillings.
[With thanks to PRB&M for their description]
Every April the ABAA (Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America) and the ILAB (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers) sponsors an international antiquarian book fair in New York, at the Park Ave Armory. The other big fairs of the year are in Boston (November) and California (February), alternating years in Los Angeles & San Francisco.
I always come to New York, but this may be the last year that the show is at the Armory, which would be a great shame (they are planning to go up-market and attract folks that can pay a lot more than book dealers to use the space). I usually just come for a day, but this trip I was able to stay for 3 days, and so, I thought a report might be fun.
Some 200 dealers from all over the world place the most interesting items in their stock in booths that measure about 10 x 10 feet … tens of millions of dollars worth of antiquarian material in one big room for four days. It’s a great place to build relationships and buy amazing things for your collection.
The dealers hail from many US states as well as the U.K., Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Russia, Japan, Australia and Argentina.
There are a cluster of dealers from the UK from whom I love to buy–they have an eye that I agree with, and generally I agree with their pricing! This year was no different, and I will discuss specific acquisitions in later posts. Justin Croft, whom I met perhaps 10 years ago when I was buying for another institution, always has more than enough items to tempt–especially French and English manuscript material. Simon Beattie is another whom I met a decade or more ago, when he was with Quaritch, I think, and I was so impressed when he set up on his own–both because I know how brave that move is (I tried my hand at bookselling for a couple of years), and because his catalogues were just so freaking cool. The design actually made the items more attractive–one wanted to buy them just to reward Simon for the effort! And although I generally don’t acquire Russian materials (one of his specialties), he often has a quirky rare item that fits with what I am looking for at the time (more to follow!).
Susanne Shulz-Falster and Deborah Coltham are two other U.K. dealers with whom I enjoy working. Always charming and enthusiastic (as are Simon and Justin), Susanne has fabulous books related to printing history, but it is often the quirky side items that attract me (again, more to follow). Deborah often comes up with great stuff on the history of medicine (including quackery).
That’s enough for now–back to the fair!
This captivating exhibition displays costume, the fine and decorative arts, and literature to explain the context of Romantic fashion up to contemporary Goth. Watkinson loaned books by Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Jules Verne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, H.G. Wells and Hartford’s own Lydia Sigourney. Sigourney’s Letters to Young Ladies is one of the stops on the audio tour, and is described by Watkinson associate curator Sally Dickinson. http://tap.thewadsworth.org/tap-web-app/#archive/tour-655/controller/StopListView
Mrs. Sigourney wrote hundreds of poems, books, and articles that captured the sentiments of the day, especially for women. Guest curator Lynne Bassett gave a special tour the day of the opening and was most appreciative of our collaboration. Our relationship with the Atheneum continues to grow!
Gothic to Goth runs March 5 through July 10, 2016 at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.
[Posted by Sally Dickinson, Associate Curator & Preservation Librarian]