Archive for October, 2012

This unique “grammatical map,” according to its author, which was intended to be posted on a wall, was “designed exclusively for the use of families and for private learners,” and displays all parts of grammar–etymology, articles, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, syntax, false grammar, specimens of parsing, etc.

Jeremiah Greenleaf (1791-1864) is a little-known but highly admired American cartographer who flourished between 1830 and 1850. In addition to the present item, we have copies of the 1840 and 1843 editions of his most important work, A New Universal Atlas, as well as editions of his Grammar Simplified (1826, 1839, and 1851) and his Self-taught Grammarian (1829).

A fascinating recent acquisition relating both to our ornithology and sporting collections, this manuscript game book records the game birds (and other critters) shot by the gentleman sportsman George Harry Grey, 7th Earl of Stamford, 3rd Earl of Warrington (1827-1883) and his father George Harry Grey, 8th Baron Grey of Groby (1802-1835) over a period of forty years, from 1821 to 1861.  The family owned large estates at Enville in Staffordshire, Bradgate Park in Leicestershire, Dunham Massey in Cheshire and Stalybridge near Manchester.  The pre-printed pages includes columns for “pheasants, partidges, hares, rabbits, woodcocks, snipes, wild ducks, teals, landrails, grouse.”  “Persons out” shooting are recorded throughout.


The season at Glengarry 1834.

790 Grouse. 69 black game. 20 snipes. 16 partridge. 7 red deer. 13 roe deer. 7 hares. 4 golden plover. 2 blue hares. 12 ducks. 2 ptarmigan. 280 trout. 36 pike. 11 salmon. 3 eels.   One trout weighed 18 lb. another 8 lb. …

And finishing up the memorandum this entry:

At Do. 2 days, 5 guns, 1834.  399 pheas., 264 hares. Bradgate Park vermin list, 1834, by 4 keepers.  410 weasels, 224 jays, 164 crows, 133 magpies, 109 cats, 66 hawks, 13 herons, 9 owls (1128).

The last entry made by Baron Grey of Groby was for September, 1835.  The register was not started again until 1844 by his son.

–Sally Dickinson, Associate Curator



Letters from a whaling captain to his wife

   Posted by: rring    in New acquisition

A donor with ties to Trinity recently gave us a small archive (ca. 60 pages) of  closely-written letters from Preston Cummings, Master of the whaling ship Panama, to his wife Harriett Tew (they were married 19 September 1839), who died in March 1845.  Court records indicate that Harriett was the sister of Elizabeth Tew, an ancestor of the donor’s father.  Cummings ended up in Hawaii, ran an outfitting business and served as a postmaster and customs official in Kealakeakua; his business apparently failed about the time of the Civil War when whaling was diminishing.

The following news story ran in The Friend (published in Honolulu) in 1845:

American whale ship Panama wrecked.—The Panama, Capt. Preston Cummings, was 31 months out, having taken 950 barrels of oil, nearly all sperm. While lying at anchor, at Hivaoa, or La Dominica, one of the Marquesan Islands; she was driven ashore by the wind and a very heavy sea, about 4 o’clock, on the morning of the l0th of August, 1844. Both anchors dragged and became foul. Masts were cut away almost as soon as she struck. Three of the ship’s company were lost in attempting to land, viz—Daniel McDaniel, Fall River, a boatsteerer, Smith, New York state, seaman, and Jack, a North American Indian. Four days after the vessel was wrecked, 13 of the crew were taken away by a French man of war, several of whom found their way to Tahiti; one by the name of Blake, shipped on board the American whale ship Daniel Webster, and another, by the name of John Hamilton, shipped on board the merchant ship Inez, now in this harbor. According to last accounts only 75 barrels of oil had been saved. Our informant is Hamilton, on board the Inez. The Panama belonged to Fall River, the same port where the Holder Borden was owned.

The known whaling voyages captained by Preston Cummings are:

  • March – August, 1838: Brig Taunton, departing from Fall River to the Atlantic, brought back 65 barrels of sperm oil.
  • October 1838 – August 1839: Brig Taunton, departing from Fall River to the Atlantic, brought back 120 barrels of sperm oil.
  • December 1839 ­ September 1841, Ship Panama, departing from Fall River to the South Atlantic, brought back 450 barrels of sperm oil and 190 barrels of baleen whale oil.
  • November 1841 – December 1841, Ship Panama, departing from Fall River to the Indian Ocean (must have been forced home, no yield reported).
  • April 1842 ­ 1844, Ship Panama, departing from Fall River to the Indian Ocean, no yield (sunk)

We are currently transcribing the letters, and digital images of them (along with transcriptions) will be available soon through the digital repository.

Recently acquired at auction!

Charles Ogé Barbaroux (1792–1867), the son of Charles Jean-Marie Barbaroux (1767–1794, who was guillotined during the Terror) first published his Mémoires in 1822.  A few years later, Joseph Alexandre Lardier (b. 1796) translated them into English as Adventures of a French Serjeant: during his campaigns in Italy, Spain, Germany, Russia, &c., from 1805 to 1823 (London, 1826), for some reason attributing the memoirs to a Robert Guillemard.

We already had the first French edition of Barbaroux’s memoir (1822).  With the support of the Don Engley Book Fund, we recently purchased this manuscript at auction of over 400 pages, which appears to be a fair copy of Lardier’s translation.

To complete our holdings, we also recently acquired the first London edition of this translation (from a dealer in California).  Even a cursory reading reveals many differences in the text, and we feel that this is a superb senior thesis topic for some enterprising student, or a possible article topic  for a faculty member.


Romantic-era album

   Posted by: rring    in New acquisition, ornithology

Just acquired from a dealer in London, a partially dis-bound album put together by Ellen Harper Parkes (later Ellen Worseley, aunt of Samuel Butler), ca. 1824–1827, in which she collected artwork from many friends, obviously requested and produced especially for her.  Mary Parkes, Ellen’s cousin, was married in 1823 to William Swainson (she was his first wife, and mother of several of his children, who died before he moved to New Zealand).  Swainson (1809-1833) was the first attorney-general of New Zealand (1841-56), and a progressive (for his time) defender of the Maoris, learning to know them by long expeditions on foot through the bush.

The album includes two paintings of birds in watercolor almost identical to plates from Swainson’s Zoological Illustrations.  One of the birds is described in Swainson’s book as a unique specimen brought from Peru.  Other leaves include drawings and paintings by others in social circles intersecting with Robert Southey’s house in Greta Hall.  Seventeen of them are various art contributions on identical cards (which were obviously distributed for the purpose), including two similar images of Southey’s Greta Hall by Parkes herself, and another (pencil drawing), inscribed “Southey’s Cottage at Keswick” by “C. L.,” who may be Charles Lamb. Other contributions are possibly from the Coleridge family (S. C. for Sara, D. C. for Derwent), Letitia Elizabeth Landon (“L.E.L.”, as she often signed her published work), and perhaps Amelia Heber—wife of Bishop Heber, the great English book collector.

There are sixteen other hand painted or hand drawn items done on the pages of the album itself, including not only the Swainson birds but also watercolor Lapland skiing scenes copied from Arthur de Capelle Brooke’s 1827 account of Lapland, a black-and-white bird, and several striking butterflies.  After Ellen Parkes’ marriage to Samuel Worseley they moved to Clifton, Bristol, which is where this album came into the dealer’s possession, and so to us.

“About the middle of April, the orange groves of the lower parts of Louisiana, and more especially those in the immediate vicinity of the City of New Orleans, are abundantly supplied with this beautiful little Sparrow.  But no sooner does it make its appearance than trap-cages are set, and a regular business is commenced in the market of that city.  The method employed in securing the male Painted Finch is so connected with its pugnacious habits, that I feel inclined to describe it, especially as it is so different from the common way of alluring birds, that it may afford you, kind reader, some amusement.

A male bird in full plumage is shot and stuffed in a defensive attitude, and perched among some grass seed, rice, or other food, on the same platform as the trap-cage.  This is taken to the fields or near the orangeries, and placed in so open a situation, that it would be difficult for a living bird of any species to fly over it, without observing it.  The trap is set.  A male Painted Finch passes, perceives it, and dives towards the stuffed bird, with all the anger which its little breast can contain.  It alights on the edge of the trap for a moment, and throwing its body against the stuffed bird, brings down the trap, and is made prisoner.  In this manner, thousands of these birds are caught every spring.  So pertinacious are they in their attacks, that even when the trap has closed upon them, they continue pecking at the feathers of the supposed rival.  The approach of man seems to allay its anger in a moment.

. . . they may be observed in spring time, in little groups of four, five or six, fighting together, moving round each other to secure an advantageous position, pecking and pulling at each other’s feathers with all the violence and animosity to which their small degree of strength can give effect.

. . . The Chicaksaw Wild Plum, on a twig of which I have represented a group of these birds, is found growing abundantly in the country where the birds occur.  It is a small shrub, the fruit of which is yellow when ripe, and excellent eating.”

–J. J. Audubon, Ornithological Biography, I (1831), 279-281 [excerpted].

“Our Goatsuckers, although possessed of great power of wing, are particularly attached to certain districts and localities.  The species now under consideration is seldom observed beyond the limits of the Choctaw Nation in the State of Mississippi, or the Carolinas, on the shores of the Atlantic, and may with propriety be looked upon as the southern species of the United States.  Louisiana, Florida, the lower portions of Alabama and Georgia, are the parts in which it most abounds; and there it makes its appearance early in spring, coming over from Mexico, and probably still warmer climates.

About the middle of March, the forests of Louisiana are heard to echo with the well-known notes of this interesting bird.  No sooner has the sun disappeared, and the nocturnal insects emerge from their burrows, than the sounds, “chuck-will’s-widow,” repeated with great clearness and power six or seven times in as many seconds, strike the ear of every individual, bringing to the mind a pleasure mingled with a certain degree of melancholy, which I have often found very soothing.  The sounds of the Goatsucker, at all events, forebode a peaceful and calm night, and I have more than once thought, are conducive to lull the listener to repose.

. . .The Chuck-will’s-widow manifests a strong antipathy towards all snakes, however harmless they may be.  Although these birds cannot in any way injure the snakes, they alight near them on all occasions, and try to frighten them away, by opening their prodigious mouth, and emitting a strong hissing murmur.  It was after witnessing one of these occurrences, which took place at early twilight, that the idea of representing these birds in such an occupation struck me.  The beautiful little snake, gliding along the dead branch, between two Chuck-will’s widows, a male and a female, is commonly called the Harlequin Snake, and is, I believe, quite harmless.”

–J. J. Audubon, Ornithological Biography, I (1831), 273-276 [excerpted].


Cinestudio archives in the Watkinson!

   Posted by: rring    in Cinestudio, News

The Watkinson Library is pleased to announce an agreement with Cinestudio to take possession of, maintain, and provide scholarly access to the records of its organization.  Cinestudio is a nationally recognized (and regionally famous) independent cinema located on the Trinity campus, which has enjoyed a devoted following for over forty years. Its archive is currently housed in a substandard storage area (the attic of Clement Hall), and is at risk from both bad weather and vermin.  These records, tracing the development and operation of such a unique organization devoted to the exhibition of a diverse range of films, will be an invaluable scholarly resource.  They also constitute a vital facet of Trinity’s cultural landscape from 1970 to the present day, and into the future (the Watkinson will continue to collect Cinestudio’s records going forward).  We are especially hopeful that the nascent film studies program at Trinity will make use of this collection, and that, as we serve as the depository for Cinestudio’s past, present, and future records, we will find innovative ways to collaborate in our respective public programming.

Current state of the Cinestudio archives, in the attic of Clement Hall.

The materials include approximately 75 linear feet (in over 50 boxes, tubs, and file drawers) of business records and over 5,000 movie posters amassed by this important cultural organization, which has operated at Trinity College for over 40 years.  The Watkinson will oversee the processing of these materials—which include bills and invoices, flyers, programs, catalogs, press kits, accounting records, internal memos, correspondence, etc.—according to national standards, and promote the use of the collection to students, researchers, and the general public.


What the archives will look like when they have been processed!

“The Red-tailed Hawk is a constant resident in the United States, in every part of which it is found.  It performs partial migrations, during severe winters, from the Northern Districts towards the Southern.  In the latter, however, it is at all times more abundant, and I shall endeavour to present you with a full account of its habits, as observed there.

Its flight is firm, protracted, and at times performed at a great height.  It sails across the whole of a large plantation, on a level with the tops of the forest-trees which surround it, without a single flap of its wings, and is then seen moving its head sideways to inspect the objects below.  This flight is generally accompanied by a prolonged mournful cry, which may be heard at a considerable distance, and consists of a single sound resembling the monosyllable Kae, uttered in such a manner as to continue for three or four minutes, without any apparent inflection or difference of intensity.  It would seem as if uttered for the purpose of giving notice to the living objects below that he is passing, and of thus inducing them to bestir themselves and retreat to a hiding-place, before they attain which he may have an opportunity of pouncing upon some of them . . .

The lively squirrel is seen gaily leaping from one branch to another, or busily employed in searching for the fallen nuts on the ground.  It has found one.  Its bushy tail is beautifully curved along its back, the end of it falling off with a semi-circular bend; its nimble feet are seen turning the nut quickly round, and its teeth are already engaged in perforating the hard shell; when, quick as thought, the Red-tailed Hawk, which has been watching it in all its motions, falls upon it, seizes it near the head, transfixes and strangles it, devours it on the spot, or ascends exultingly to a branch with the yet palpitating victim in his talons, and there feasts at leisure.”

–J. J. Audubon, Ornithological Biography, I (1831), 265-266 [excerpted].

One of the more important aspects of overseeing a facility the size and value of the Watkinson is to control the environment.  Leaky pipes, faulty HVAC systems, cracks in the foundation, and vermin (mice, bugs, naughty readers) are all potential threats to the collection, and must be kept at bay through CONSTANT VIGILANCE.  Fortunately, Associate Curator Sally Dickinson is on the case, as she reports on a recent activity:

“This September I attended a 2-day workshop on “Sustainable Preservation Practices for Managing Storage Environments.”  R.I.T.’s Image Permanence Institute presented the workshop at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC (funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.)  Curators, librarians, and facilities professionals attended, including staff from the Smithsonian Institute and other cultural organizations in the Northeast.  We had a crash course in how artifacts age, what makes an optimal preservation climate to prolong the life of materials, and how to achieve these conditions through sustainable use of climate control systems.  The Image Permanence Institute is a leader in the research of how materials age and climate management strategies for cultural institutions.”