Archive for February, 2011


SASS schedule

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Databases and bibliographies are not, frankly, very sexy (at least not to most of us).  As an antidote, I’ve come up with a new instructional model, called Short Attention-Span Seminars (or SASS).  The idea is simple.  Each weekly, 15-minute session (held Wednesdays at 10:00am in the Watkinson)  is focused on one tool (a database, bibliography, etc.) that I deem essential for humanities research.  This can range from the Dictionary of Literary Biography (DLB) to Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO).  I also like to show at least one rare book from the collection, related in some way to the source of the day.  As an incentive, I am offering a coupon for a free coffee or tea at Peter B’s (the café in the library) to anyone who shows up.

My goal for this series is threefold:  first, to introduce students, faculty, and staff to resources they may not know about or under-appreciate; second, to show off a bit of the rare collection which is normally locked away from casual visitors; and third, to offer an informal, regular venue that could serve as a place to announce upcoming Watkinson events to interested members of the Trinity community.

So here is an example of how a the seminar might go:  You show up at the Watkinson at 10:00am sharp (because if you are late, you’ve missed it!), and I start talking about a resource—say, Early American Imprints, Series I (digitized copies of every book printed in the U.S. from 1639 to 1800).  I talk about how to use the source, its scope and content, and show (for instance) the Watkinson’s copy of the first edition of the Federalist, which is also in the online version, accessible from your dorm or home.  At 10:15 I’m done talking, and you can either ask questions or be on your way to get your free beverage, wiser and refreshed!  What’s not to like?  For a schedule of the seminars, email me at

Richard Ring

Spring Term Schedule:

Wednesday, January 26, 10:00am

Wednesday, February 2, 10:00am

Wednesday, February 9, 10:00am

Wednesday, February 16, 10:00am

Wednesday, February 23, 10:00am

Wednesday, March 2, 10:00am

Wednesday, March 9, 10:00am

Wednesday, March 16, 10:00am

Wednesday, March 30, 10:00am

Wednesday, April 6, 10:00am

Wednesday, April 13, 10:00am

Wednesday, April 20, 10:00am

Wednesday, April 27, 10:00am


Far out, man!

   Posted by: rring    in Uncategorized

As anyone who has had experience with archives knows, you can find wonderful things buried  in the files.  One of our student workers came across this fabulous artifact (four of them, in fact), while organizing the personal papers of the late J. Fred Pfeil, donated to the archives by his family.  Dr. Pfeil was a beloved English professor at Trinity from 1985 until his untimely death in 2005. 

The student was thrilled to discover four tickets to the second “day of peace and music” at Woodstock.  Fred would have been 19 when he attended (his birthday was September 21, so he was almost 20), and this would have been just before his sophomore year at Amherst College.

Peace be with you, Fred–many here still miss you.



Open House a success!

   Posted by: rring    in Uncategorized

I’m happy to say that we had a successful Open House last Friday.  Some forty people visited the Watkinson between 10am and 2pm, including Board members, faculty, students, and interested “townies.”  The day also yielded two volunteers which will soon be working on a digitization project, and two gifts to the collection. 

The first is Dove at the Windows: Last Letters of Four Quaker Martyrs (Penmaen Press, Lincoln, MA, 1973). With a foreword by George Selleck & five woodcuts by Michael McCurdy, this is a fine press book limited to 200 numbered copies (this is number 199) and signed by McCurdy. It was printed by hand in Palatino on Nideggen paper from Germany, and reprints the surviving letters written by four American Quakers who were put to death in Boston between 1659 and 1661.  The Watkinson does have another copy (number 62), but in teaching about letterpress and bibliography it is often good to have two copies of a hand-made work to use for comparison.

The other gift is related to our wonderful collection of works published by the firm Roberts Brothers, of Boston.  

This is a letter to the publishers which apparently came with a manuscript of a novel titled “In the heart of the Rockies,” by an A. M. Barbour.  There is a note on the bottom of this query letter–the manuscript was apparently returned by express, because it was “full of slang talk by miners.”  One really wished to have that manuscript now!  Interestingly, a novel with the same title by the famous G. A. Henty was published two years before (1894) by Scribners in New York.  This letter will join our manuscript collection on the Roberts Brothers, described here:

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