Archive for the ‘From the stacks!’ Category


Come away with me, Lucille

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Henry Arneth, Special Collections Assistant]

victor_in my merry oldsmobile_foxtrot-2“Come away with me, Lucille, in my merry Oldsmobile, own the road of life we’ll fly / Automobubbling, you and I…”

First written and recorded early in the 20th century, one 1920s version of “In my Merry Oldsmobile” inadvertently became a scarce record highly sought after by both motoring enthusiasts and record collectors.  The recording is desirable because it was a special pressing, created for General Motors as a give-away at the 1927 auto show. [1]   Special pressings were not released to the general public and were not available in stores.  They were obtained as premiums, or incentives, for using certain products.  Adding to the allure of this record is that the same song is on both sides—another rarity in the industry—by the same group; one is a fox trot and the other a waltz.

The vocalist for this version, Bix Beiderbecke (1903-1931), was known more as a cornetist, pianist, and composer than he was his for his singing.  He first joined Jean Goldkette’s Orchestra in 1924, left, then rejoined the group in time to sing on the recording.[2]  One of his bandmates in Godldkette’s Orchestra at the time of the recording was the trombonist and later bandleader Tommy Dorsey.  Beiderbecke would leave Goldkette’s band to join the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, where he would play coronet from 1928-1930 before branching out on his own.[3]

[1] Griswold, Wendy; American Guides: The Federal Writers’ Project and the Casting of American Culture; University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois; 2016

In-My-Merry-Oldsmobile-cover1927 auto show poster




Hebrew Bible Printed in England

   Posted by: rring

BibleThe Watkinson has a great Bible collection, including this, the first separate edition of the Hebrew Bible printed in England, preceded only by the printing of the text as part of the Walton Polyglot (which we also have!). Editor Nathaniel Forster (1718–57), an accomplished scholar of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, has included (in the style of the table of contents) “Pentateuchus, Prophetae priores, Prophetae posteriores, Hagiographa”; the leaves following “Prophetae posteriores” are separately signed and printed “Vol. 2.” Based on Van der Hoogh’s version, the text is in Hebrew, with titles and chapter heads also in Latin. Unlike most 18th-century books printed at Oxford, this is scarce. Of the eight reported copies in libraries four are in the Northeast, two in California, one at Duke, and one in Ohio.

Our first librarian, J. Hammond Trumbull, acquired our copy for the Watkinson in May of 1872 from the English firm of Bernard Quaritch, for 15 shillings.

[With thanks to PRB&M for their description]

[Posted by Henry Arneth, Special Collections Assistant]

Egbert Austin “Bert” Williams (1874-1922) was an American blackface vaudeville star. Born in the Bahamas, Williams began performing at an early age with various minstrel shows, and in the 1890s took a partner, George Walker. The pair performed under the name “Two Real Coons” because there were so many white blackface performers. It was also in the 1890s that Williams made his first recordings.

By the early 1900s, Williams’ style had changed. He performed with the Ziegfeld Follies beginning 1910, singing and “philosophizing” during the breaks in the Follies routines. This recording, “I’m Gone Before I Go,” (Columbia A-2078) from 1916, is typical of his later work. In the song, he speaks of the African-American participation in the Mexican Revolution (ca. 1910-1920). This song forms an interesting juxtaposition when compared with other patriotic songs of the period both in tone and music. The happy-sounding composition seems to belie the somewhat dismal lyrics. Williams’ delivery is also different because he doesn’t sing the entire time. He sings refrains, but speaks the stanzas, which gives the listener the feeling that one is viewing Williams on stage.


Old school campaigning

   Posted by: rring

Jackson1On this day in 1828, Andrew Jackson was elected president.

I thought it would be good to put up this little piece of ephemera–related to the Connecticut push to get Jackson elected.

“The Committee-men should take it upon themselves, personally, to see that every Jackson man is at the polls.”

As was the custom at the time, neither candidate personally campaigned, but their political followers organized many campaign events. Most interesting are the notes of the political stance of Connecticut figures on the back.



Fragile Memories of Trinity

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Peter Rawson, Associate Curator of Archives & Manuscript Collections]
Museum (003)The survey of the College Archives continues!  I happened upon a box on a high shelf that was deteriorating, crumbling, and very heavy.  As I pulled it off the shelf the box came apart.  I managed to place it in a secure location on another shelf before all of the contents fell to the ground.  To my surprise I found over 150 glass plate photographic negatives dating from around 1850-1923. Clements Room East (002)These images include portraits of faculty, campus exteriors, interiors–including some dorm rooms, track practice, and a photograph of the Cabinet Room in Seabury Hall, which was the college museum.
Library in WilliamsWith assistance of Naty Bush, a first-year student, and Special Collections Assistant Henry Arenth, we were able to temporarily re-box the slides and evaluate their condition.  Next steps include more permanent re-housing and printing the slides.



Re-discovering the archives!

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Peter Rawson, Associate Curator of Archives & Manuscript Collections]

IMG_3248While conducting a survey of the archives I came across two 19th-early 20th century collections.

The first are the papers of the Reverend Frederick William Harriman, D.D, Class of 1872. Harriman served for over thirty years as the rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Windsor, CT, retiring in 1920.  The collection contains several of his hand-written sermons, information pertaining to his father, the Reverend Frederick Durbin Harriman, Class of 1845, personal correspondence, and family genealogy.
The second are the papers the Reverend Abner Jackson, Class of 1837, and eighth President of Trinity from 1867-1874. The papers contain three of his diaries from 1860-1864, personal correspondence, 1840-1874, certificate of ordination as a priest by Bishop Brownell (first President of Trinity), and a published volume of his discourses, 1875.
Both of these collections give us insight into Trinity’s early roots in the Episcopal Church, and the lives and perspectives of members of our community in the 19th and early 20th centuries.


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.


An Elizabethan Herbal

   Posted by: rring

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.



A European theory of Native American origins

   Posted by: rring

GarciaGarcía, Gregorio.  Origen de los Indios de el Nueuo Mundo, e Indias Occidentales. (Madrid, 1729).

Nowhere is the general confusion and genuine indecision of the sixteenth and early seventeenth-century theorists of Indian origins more pronounced than in this work—the first book published exclusively on the issue [this is the 2nd edition, it was first published in 1607].  García spent nine years in Peru, beginning in the late 1590s.  In order to discover as best he could what the origin of the Indians was, García evaluated what he read, what he was told by both Spaniards and Indians, and what he had seen.  The two fundamental assumptions upon which he based his book were that all men and women descended from Adam and Eve, and after the Deluge from Noah (who divided the world giving Asia to Shem, Egypt and Africa to Ham, and Europe to Japheth).  He believed that the peoples of the Americas came to the New World from one of the three parts of the known world. García examined in detail all the opinions regarding origins current in Europe at the time–derived from the Carthaginians; the lost Jewish tribes; that Peru was the Ophir of Solomon. The “libro ultimo” contains native accounts of their origins, describing the tribes of Mexico and Peru, derived from a manuscript of Juan de Vetanzos (a companion of Pizarro). He rejected none of the origin theories, but accepted them all collectively—that is, in his view, the ancestors of Native Americans came to the New World from different parts of the known world, at different times, and in different ways.

See the Watkison’s copy.


Cornerstone of American Education

   Posted by: rring

new england primer0002The New England primer.  (Providence: John Waterman, 1775).

The New England Primer stands at the forefront of early American schoolbooks.  The first mention of it occurs in the register of London Stationers in 1683, under the title The New England Primer, or, Milk for Babes. One of its predecessors in England was The Protestant Tutor, which, like its successor, contained the alphabet, the syllabarium, the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, and the picture of the burning of the Protestant martyr John Rogers.  The earliest surviving primer produced in America was printed in Boston, 1727—by which time it was a staple product of the colonial printer.  The print shop run by Benjamin Franklin and his partner David Hall printed over 37,000 copies between 1749 and 1766, and only one copy has survived.  It has been estimated that from 1680-1830 six to eight million copies were produced (only about 1,500 survive).  Portraits of English kings (e.g., George II and III) were replaced eventually by famous Americans (e.g., John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and George Washington).  Around 1790 the primers were secularized, and little boys and girls ceased to be promised salvation or threatened with eternal fire; girls were instead warned that “pert Miss Prat-a-pace” was to have no treats unless she turned into “pretty miss prudence,” and that good boys would be rewarded with “credit and reputation,” whereas bad ones would live in beggary.

We have dozens of examples of the NEP, and thousands of other early American schoolbooks in our Barnard Collection.