IMG_3031We are fortunate indeed to own a fabulous resource for the study of native Mexican culture, which came to my attention (as many things do) when a professor “discovered” we had it and asked to bring in a class to see it. Professor Chris Couch brought his American Studies (870) class on artistic and linguistic traditions of Native Americans (primarily North- and Central America) to look at this and other sources in the Watkinson.

Antiquities of Mexico (London, 1831-1848, 9 volumes), compiled by Edward King, Viscount Kingsborough (1795-1837). Its publisher was Robert Havell (of Audubon fame).

img135This copy was donated to the Watkinson Library in the spring of 1910 by the Rev. Dr. Melancthon Williams Jacobus (1855-1937), and his wife, Clara May, whom he married in Hartford in 1896. Jacobus was a Pennsylvania-born graduate of Princeton (class of 1877), who studied at the Princeton Theological Seminary (1878-81) and abroad at Gottingen and Berlin. In 1884 he became pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Oxford, PA until 1891, when he  came to the Hartford Theological Seminary to take the position of Hosmer Professor of New Testament Exegesis and Criticism, retiring to emeritus in 1928. He was a Trustee of the Watkinson for 31 years, from 1906-37, was a generous donor of books and supplies, and served as Board President from 1924-35. In 1916 he was instrumental in founding the Kingswood academy (now Kingswood Oxford School) in West Hartford, donating 18 acres of land for the campus.

 

[The following is quoted in full from a London bookseller's excellent description of a copy currently on the market]IMG_3032

The greatest illustrated work on Mexican antiquities. Supported by Sir Thomas Phillipps – many of whose manuscripts are described in the Antiquities – Edward King, Viscount Kingsborough (1795 – 1837), who first became fascinated by Mexican artifacts whilst studying at Oxford, employed the Italian painter Augustine Aglio to scour Europe’s greatest libraries and private collections for Mexican manuscripts. Aglio sketched and later lithographed these manuscripts for publication here in Kingsborough’s magnum opus. Although Kingsborough’s intention was to prove that the indigenous people of the Americas were a lost tribe of Israel, he inadvertently produced one of the most important books on the architecture and extant codices of Central America and Mexico ever produced. The cost of producing the work was enormous and Kingsborough reportedly spent more than £32,000, driving him into bankruptcy and debtor’s prison as well as litigation with Phillips. Kingsborough died of typhoid contracted while in prison for a debt to a paper manufacturer mere months before he inherited the estate, with an annual income of £40,000, of his father, the Duke of Kingston. This set is from the Havell issue: Aglio began publication of the first five volumes in 1830 but later, in 1831, transferred publication to Havell and Colnaghi who printed newer title pages. Besides Aglio’s reproductions of manuscripts in the Bodleian, the Vatican Library, the Imperial Library of Vienna, the Library of the Institute at Bologna, and the royal libraries of Berlin, Dresden, and Budapest, the work includes Dupaix’s ‘Monuments of New Spain’ (‘the first drawings of Maya architecture to be published’, Wauchope), taken from Castaneda’s original drawings, and descriptions of sculptures and artifacts from several private collections. The text, with sections in Spanish, English, French, and Italian, includes Sahagun’s ‘Historia General de la Nueva Espana’ and the chronicles of Tezozomoc and Ixtlilxochitl.

I’d like to notice two editions of John Gerard’s (1545-1612) famous herbal in the Watkinson:

Gerard0005The Herball; or, Generall Historie of Plantes (London, 1597), and The Herball, or General Historie of Plantes . . . very much enlarged and amended (London, 1636).

[The following description is quoted directly from the antiquarian firm Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts, which was describing another copy for sale]

The story is famous: John Norton, Queen’s printer, wished to bring out an English language version of Dodoen’s Pemptades of 1583 and hired a certain “Dr. Priest” to do so, but the translator died with the work only partially done. A copy of the manuscript translation made its way into John Gerard’s hands and he seized the opportunity, reorganizing the contents, obscuring the previous translator’s contribution, incorporating aspects of Rembert and Cruydenboeck’s works, and commandeering the result as his own.

Gerard abandoned Dodoen’s classification, opting for l’Obel’s instead, and, in a stroke of ambition and brilliance, illustrated the work with more than 2,500 woodcuts of plants. Many of these are large and all are attractive but more than a few were of plants he himself did not know, thus leading to considerable confusion between illustration and text in the earliest editions, this being third overall and the second with Thomas Johnson’s additions and amendments.

Gerard0004For both Johnson editions a large number of the woodcuts were obtained from the famous Leyden printing and publishing firm of Moretus, successors to the highly famous firm of Plantin. As Johnston notes: “Most of the cuts were those used in the botanicals published by Plantin, although a number of new woodcuts were added after drawings by Johnson and Goodyer” (Cleveland Herbal . . . Collections, #185). The large thick volume begins with a handsome engraved title-page by John Payne incorporating a bust of the author, urns with flowers and herbs, and full-length seated images of Dioscorides and Theophrastus and of Ceres and Pomona. Replacing the missing initial blank is a later leaf on which is mounted a large engraving of Gerard. The text is printed in italic, roman, and gothic type.

There is, to us, a surprising and very interesting section on grapes and wines. The first part of our caption delights partly in discovery that maize, the “corn” of the U.S., is here called “turkey wheat” — with further note that you can make bread of it, but that the result is pleasing only to “barbarous” tastes! The entry as a whole shows Gerard at his characteristic best, at once scientifically systematic and engagingly discursive.

 

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)

Six Pack Student ExhibitionsSix Pack Student Exhibitions

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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