Archive for February, 2015

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.



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 if you would like to help!

Here are some pics of water damage, mold, and tears present in the book:



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.