Just acquired for the College Archives from an online estate auction in Pueblo, Colorado–a postcard photo of the 1891 Trinity football team! For those who want to know who is pictured, there is a team photo with names in the 1892 IVY (opposite page 100), which can be found online here, or you can visit the Watkinson to see a physical copy!

24
Aug

How cool is this??

   Posted by: rring   in Americana, College Archives, Trinitiana

Just (re)discovered by archivist Peter Rawson–the flag flown over the College during the Civil War, given back to the College by the great historian Samuel Eliot Morison (1887-1976), whose grandfather, Samuel Eliot (1821-1898) was professor of history and political science (1856-1874) and president of Trinity from 1860-64.

[This post was contributed by Richard Mammana, archivist for the Living Church Foundation, founder and director of Project Canterbury, and a member of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences]

The Watkinson Library at Trinity College recently acquired the intact personal library of Charles Hayden Proctor (January 11, 1850-June 25, 1890). Proctor was a Trinity alumnus (B.A. 1873) who had been graduated from the Episcopal Academy at Cheshire in 1869. He went on to receive his M.A. at Berkeley Divinity School (then in Middletown) in 1876. He was ordained to the diaconate in the Episcopal Church in 1876 by the Bishop of Connecticut, and then to the priesthood in 1877. Proctor had a relatively brief career in the church, dying at 40 after serving in a handful of cures: as a lay missionary in the Naugatuck River Valley; as the founding rector of St. James Church, New Bedford, Massachusetts (1878-1885); at Trinity Church, Pottsville, Pennsylvania (1885-1888); and finally as the third dean of Trinity Cathedral in Little Rock, Arkansas (1888-1890).

Proctor’s significance in Trinity history comes from his authorship of The Life of James Williams, Better Known as Professor Jim, for Half a Century Janitor of Trinity College (Hartford: Case, Lockwood and Brainard, 1873), a 79-page biography of the beloved “professor of dust and ashes” of the title—an African American who lived from c.1790 to 1878.

Williams was born to a free American father of African ancestry and a Creole mother in New York. He served as a seaman in the War of 1812, and had arrived in Hartford by 1821 when he was working at the City Hotel. Williams’s association with Trinity began as his domestic service in the household of the college’s founding president Bishop Thomas Church Brownell (1779-1865). As Professor Jim—by then “general factotum” of the college—he made farewell remarks to each graduating class from 1830 to 1874, receiving a gift of money or a valuable object each year, and then serving glasses of punch to the class. (It is from Professor Jim’s use of a lemon squeezer in preparing the punch that the elaborate Trinity traditions about fruit presses have emerged.) Trinity students took up a collection to buy Professor Jim a turkey each year at Christmas for four decades.

Proctor’s Life of James Williams was published by the foremost commercial press in Connecticut at the time, and its wide reach is attested by its presence in the private library of Mark Twain as well as a wide variety of public and academic collections still today.

Proctor’s library is significant in its own right because of its former owner’s work in chronicling an important chapter in Trinity College history. It is also notable for having remained undisturbed in the Proctor family home in Derby for more than 125 years since Proctor died in 1890. The ca. 400 volumes—most with their original owner’s bookplate—provide a fascinating look at the intellectual world of a late nineteenth-century Episcopal priest.

CURATOR’S NOTE: I would like to thank Dan and Denis (of John Bale Books in Waterbury, CT) for alerting me of the existence of this collection and working very hard to deliver it to Trinity College intact. Good booksellers make good libraries!

27
Jun

Comics collection!

   Posted by: rring   in Gifts, New acquisition, News, oppotunities for research

comics1comics2I am thrilled to announce the gift of a collection of comics, graphic novels, and comic book reference material by Marcus Leab, of Maple Grove, Minnesota.

Housed in 46 boxes (long and short–some shown here) and a few plastic bins, we estimate there are nearly 10,000 comics, 200+ graphic novels, and dozens of reference books. A full inventory will take some time to compile, but in general these date from the late 1980s to the present, and run the gamut of superhero and other series.

Many colleges and universities have acquired collections in this fascinating area of popular culture, which also include pulps (science fiction, horror, mystery, etc.) and zines (often produced out of fan culture). There are large collections at various universities–such as the University of Iowa, Indiana University, the University of Georgia, Brigham Young University, Duke, Brown, the University of Tulsa, Drew University, Southern Methodist University, Bowling Green University, and Texas A&M.

Here is Mr. Leab’s own account of his collection, along with a picture of him and his children:

For years in New York City, and later in Washington, Connecticut, I read Garfield, Bloom County, and other newspaper comic strips, but in May of 1988, my mother, Katharine Kyes Leab (editor of American Book Prices Current), and my father, Daniel Leab (Editor of Labor History and founder of American Communist History), bought me Action Comics 600. The issue, which had vibrant colors, huge action scenes, and interesting dialogue was quickly followed with Amazing Spider-Man 301. It was after those two issues that I was hooked. Soon I had a box at my local comic book shop (named “My Mother Threw Mine Away”) and I was collecting a dozen or more issues a week. Suddenly Batman, The Punisher, Doctor Strange, Checkmate, The X-Men, Spider-Man, and more were filling my imagination on a daily basis as I eagerly anticipated how their adventures would continue. My love of collecting was also bolstered by older sisters Abigail and Constance, who collected comics as well.

The main bulk of this collection is from the late 1980s to the present, but I also had some comics from the 1950s-70s that came to me after another collector came to speak to my parents about books and saw me reading comics.

“Hey, kid,” the man said. “Want to buy my collection off of me?”

I was intrigued. “How much?”

“Tell you what,” the man stated, “If you move it yourself, inventory it, and then give me a copy of that inventory…$100. What do you say?”

“DEAL!”

I moved three boxes of older comics that included classic Silver Surfer issues, an older Thor, and many other classic Marvel, DC, and independent books. A great deal.

As I grew older, I continued to collect DC and Marvel comics, but also started collecting some of the independent comics as well, such as Eastman & Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spawn by Todd McFarlane, and Kurt Busiek’s Astro City.

Now, as a father of two, I still love comics and have passed that love on to my kids, but how to manage the boxes became a challenge. A few months ago, as I was re-reading part of my collection, I noticed that some of the books had visibly aged. Since libraries are amazing at taking care of precious texts, and these comics were very precious to me; and since my mother had just donated some other material to Trinity, I thought the Watkinson Library would be the best place to send the collection so it would be cared for. I realized that comics are one of the many reflections of our world & culture, and it is my hope that readers will come to see the collection both to remember their own love of the world of comics as well as (in the case of new students) to see what influenced their parents and even grandparents.

Into the unknown, dear readers!

22
May

A gift of money!

   Posted by: rring   in Gifts, New acquisition, oppotunities for research

Or rather, paper currency!

german currenciesI am delighted to announce a fabulous gift of ephemera by our own staff member, Henry Arneth, who has been collecting these at paper fairs, shops, and eBay now for over 30 years. It comprises a total of 1,532 notes: 753 notes from 118 countries, and 779 “Notgeld” from 250 German and Austrian city-states.

As Douglas Mudd has pointed out, “Among the most important and least studied [aspects of coinage and paper money] is the use of money as a means of communication through art. A nation’s money is often the first impression a visitor gets of the nature of a country. As such, designs and legends placed on money have always been considered important by the authorities responsible for their issue.”

The earliest paper money originated in China around the 7th century A.D. during the Tang dynasty (in the form of privately issued bills of credit), but paper money as we know it today was invented when the government of the Jin Dynasty began issuing Exchange Certificates in 1189. Marco Polo saw the exclusive use of paper money when he visited China from 1275-1292. In Europe it was Sweden which issued the first bank notes in 1660–not surprising, since it was easier to carry than their largest coins (copper “dalers”), which measured up to two feet long and weighed sixty pounds! (look it up).

The first American issue of paper money dates to 1690 in Massachusetts. Lacking specie (metal money) to pay its soldiers returning from Canada, the colony created bills of credit made out to the bearer and payable at certain banks.

img358img359This 500-peso note from Argentina, for instance, features General José de San Martin (1778-1850), who arrived in Buenos Aires in 1811 (after fighting in the Spanish army against the French), and became one of the great “liberators” of Latin America.

On the reverse side is the Cerro de la Gloria, or Mount of Glory. Overlooking the city of Mendoza, this colossal set of bronze statues with a Wagnerian look is the work of the sculptor Ferrari, who immortalized San Martin’s crossing of the Andes to liberate Chile and Peru (1818-1821).

img360img361This 1-Zaïre note from the what WAS the country of Zaire, but since 1997 is the Democratice Republic Of the Congo, features Joseph Désiré, later Sesé Seko Mobutu, born in Lisala in 1930. He was Secretary of State, the Chief of Staff of the Congolese Armed Forces, and finally President of the Republic, and was a force for stabilization and growth. On the verso is a cornucopia and factory chimney. Mining was a major part of the economy–industrial diamonds and cobalt especially, as well as gold, tin, silver and cadmium.

 

I should also mention other items that will be of interest to folks teaching or researching various subjects.  Below is a 10-Krone note from a complete set (of 7) uncirculated notes issued on January 1, 1943 from the concentration camp at Theresienstadt (part of the former Czechoslovakia). All of them feature an engraved vignette of Moses holding the Ten Commandments on the recto. According to one scholar, Theresienstadt was established as a proposed model ghetto to impress foreign visitors and the Red Cross, but was actually no more than a transit point to the death camps in Poland. On the verso is a printed signature of Jakob Edelstein as “Der Alteste der Juden” (Eldest of the Jews).

img362img363There are others of historical interest–issued by the military in wartime (Philippines, France, Russia) or by local polities which had no access to other types of credit.

Lots for the student to explore!

Sources for this post:

Douglas Mudd, All The Money in the World: The Art and History of Paper Money and Coins from Antiquity to the 21st Century (New York: HarperCollins, 2006).

Martin Monestier, The Art of Paper Currency (London, Melbourne & New York: Quartet Books, 1983).

athletic filmsThe College Archives has taken possession of what turned out to be 33 banker’s boxes of films (mostly fooball) from a storage unit on campus. The earliest films are from the late 1930s, and they seem to go up through the 1980s–games with other colleges, practices, training films, etc. We will be hiring students to produce an inventory, and creating a plan to better preserve and house these films, as well as looking to digitize the more significant footage for the use and enjoyment of our alumni, finances permitting! To facilitate this, we have borrowed a viewer & board to examine the films.IMG_20170519_113449

 

 

1
May

Fourth Annual Writer’s Residency

   Posted by: rring   in Prizes and Awards, students

I am pleased to announce that Magge Nigro ’17 is this year’s awardee of the South Beach Writing Residency, offered by the family of Hyam Plutzik ’32.

NigroMagge is originally from Reading, MA. She entered Trinity College in the Fall of 2013, and became an English major with a concentration in creative writing (poetry) during her sophomore year. She has studied under professors Ciaran Berry, Ethan Rutherford, Daniel Mrozowski, Clare Rossini, Chloe Wheatley, Christopher Hager, and Milla Riggio. During her senior fall semester she was selected as one of the Connecticut Poetry Circuit Student Poets, and toured colleges in Connecticut with four other poets during her senior spring semester—reading her work at Trinity, Connecticut College, the University of Hartford, the University of Connecticut (Storrs and Waterbury), Central Connecticut State University, Manchester Community College, and Yale University.

 

Betsy south beachThe Family of Hyam Plutzik (Trinity ’32) offers an annual residency (for five years, beginning in Spring 2014) in South Beach in the Betsy Writers Room to a graduating senior with outstanding talent in the literary arts.  The award is given in May, 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 (June-April), the recipient will be invited to participate in an Arts Salon to share his/her work with the community; planning will be done in close partnership with the visiting artist.  The residency will be awarded annually by the Head Curator and Librarian of the Watkinson, in consultation with College advisers, for a residency to be scheduled directly with the Betsy Writers Room.

ML1We are exceedingly pleased to announce a recent gift from Katherine Kyes Leab, of Washington, CT–an almost complete set (nearly 600 volumes) of first- or early issues of the first series of The Modern Library (1917-1970), most of which are in very good condition and have their dust jackets. This collection adds materially to our 20thC literary holdings, as a study collection for modernist literature, publishing, and criticism.

“In the 1920s the Modern Library achieved an honorific cultural status unparalleled in reprint publishing, equivalent to that enjoyed simultaneously by America’s ‘intellectual’ magazines and experimental theater troupes . . . [and] despite the deepening Depression, in 1930 it sold over a million books. What had begun in 1917 as a publishing venture designed for self-consciously ‘modern’ bohemian intellectuals found an extensive new audience after Bennet Cerf and Donald Klopfer bought the series from Horace Liveright in 1925.”

“The Modern Library’s origin as a self-consciously subversive literary purveyor to America’s fledgling Greenwich Village intelligensia established its early critical success . . . From 1925, when Cerf and Klopfer took control of the series and began to apply new marketing strategies, to the start of World War II, the Modern Library sustained a period of healthy growth as it rapidly expanded into new markets. Its distribution and sales methods in the early 1930s foreshadowed the era of the mass-market paperback, and it became the cornerstone of Random House, perhaps the most financially successful publishing firm of the twentieth century. This period was crucial in the development of the modern concept of culture and it saw a dramatic reformulation of the country’s book trade.”

[Jay Satterfield, The World’s Best Books: Taste, Culture, and the Modern Library (U. of Massachusetts Press, 2002), “Introduction”].

csarMarch 8 is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of “February Revolution” in Russia (the Russian Empire still used the Julian calendar at the time, so to them it was February 23, but to most of the rest of the world, it was March 8 (Gregorian calendar)). On this day workers engaged in demonstrations protesting the government of Tsar Nicholas II  and clashed with police and the military. On March 12 soldiers in the Russian army joined the workers resulting in the abdication of the Tsar on March 15.

In 2001 Henry Fuller ’38 donated his collection documenting the Romanov family including photographs of Tsar Nicholas and the Tsarina Alexandra, and their family during the last years of Nicholas’ rule, and extensive correspondence between Fuller and Alexandra’s close friend Anna Virubova.

Theresa Battaglio, a graduate student in American Studies, recently mounted an online exhibit using the collection. The Watkinson Library encourages people to come in and view this unique resource as we commemorate this important date in history.

[The Tsarina taking a picture of the family aboard their yacht.]

19
Dec

Beerbohm collection

   Posted by: rring   in Gifts, oppotunities for research

3This just in!

Over 200 volumes from the house collection of Watkinson Trustee (and currently its chair) Hugh Macgill, who has served on the Board since 1992. The bulk of the collection comprises works by and about Max Beerbohm (born Henry Maximilian Beerbohm, 1872-1956), a well-known caricaturist, essayist, and critic (see a recent New Yorker article). Among these are first and early editions of Beerbohm’s most famous works, which include many of his caricatures, a run of the Yellow Book, editions of his published letters and biographies.

Mcgill gift

 

 

 

 

 

 

1A small collection of Horatio Alger’s works are also part of the gift, which will join our growing collection of juvenile literature. I particularly love covers like this one, which tell the entire plot in one image.

2