Archive for the ‘oppotunities for research’ Category

[This post was contributed by Richard Mammana, archivist for the Living Church Foundation, founder and director of Project Canterbury, and a member of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences]

The Watkinson Library at Trinity College recently acquired the intact personal library of Charles Hayden Proctor (January 11, 1850-June 25, 1890). Proctor was a Trinity alumnus (B.A. 1873) who had been graduated from the Episcopal Academy at Cheshire in 1869. He went on to receive his M.A. at Berkeley Divinity School (then in Middletown) in 1876. He was ordained to the diaconate in the Episcopal Church in 1876 by the Bishop of Connecticut, and then to the priesthood in 1877. Proctor had a relatively brief career in the church, dying at 40 after serving in a handful of cures: as a lay missionary in the Naugatuck River Valley; as the founding rector of St. James Church, New Bedford, Massachusetts (1878-1885); at Trinity Church, Pottsville, Pennsylvania (1885-1888); and finally as the third dean of Trinity Cathedral in Little Rock, Arkansas (1888-1890).

Proctor’s significance in Trinity history comes from his authorship of The Life of James Williams, Better Known as Professor Jim, for Half a Century Janitor of Trinity College (Hartford: Case, Lockwood and Brainard, 1873), a 79-page biography of the beloved “professor of dust and ashes” of the title—an African American who lived from c.1790 to 1878.

Williams was born to a free American father of African ancestry and a Creole mother in New York. He served as a seaman in the War of 1812, and had arrived in Hartford by 1821 when he was working at the City Hotel. Williams’s association with Trinity began as his domestic service in the household of the college’s founding president Bishop Thomas Church Brownell (1779-1865). As Professor Jim—by then “general factotum” of the college—he made farewell remarks to each graduating class from 1830 to 1874, receiving a gift of money or a valuable object each year, and then serving glasses of punch to the class. (It is from Professor Jim’s use of a lemon squeezer in preparing the punch that the elaborate Trinity traditions about fruit presses have emerged.) Trinity students took up a collection to buy Professor Jim a turkey each year at Christmas for four decades.

Proctor’s Life of James Williams was published by the foremost commercial press in Connecticut at the time, and its wide reach is attested by its presence in the private library of Mark Twain as well as a wide variety of public and academic collections still today.

Proctor’s library is significant in its own right because of its former owner’s work in chronicling an important chapter in Trinity College history. It is also notable for having remained undisturbed in the Proctor family home in Derby for more than 125 years since Proctor died in 1890. The ca. 400 volumes—most with their original owner’s bookplate—provide a fascinating look at the intellectual world of a late nineteenth-century Episcopal priest.

CURATOR’S NOTE: I would like to thank Dan and Denis (of John Bale Books in Waterbury, CT) for alerting me of the existence of this collection and working very hard to deliver it to Trinity College intact. Good booksellers make good libraries!

27
Jun

Comics collection!

   Posted by: rring

comics1comics2I am thrilled to announce the gift of a collection of comics, graphic novels, and comic book reference material by Marcus Leab, of Maple Grove, Minnesota.

Housed in 46 boxes (long and short–some shown here) and a few plastic bins, we estimate there are nearly 10,000 comics, 200+ graphic novels, and dozens of reference books. A full inventory will take some time to compile, but in general these date from the late 1980s to the present, and run the gamut of superhero and other series.

Many colleges and universities have acquired collections in this fascinating area of popular culture, which also include pulps (science fiction, horror, mystery, etc.) and zines (often produced out of fan culture). There are large collections at various universities–such as the University of Iowa, Indiana University, the University of Georgia, Brigham Young University, Duke, Brown, the University of Tulsa, Drew University, Southern Methodist University, Bowling Green University, and Texas A&M.

Here is Mr. Leab’s own account of his collection, along with a picture of him and his children:

For years in New York City, and later in Washington, Connecticut, I read Garfield, Bloom County, and other newspaper comic strips, but in May of 1988, my mother, Katharine Kyes Leab (editor of American Book Prices Current), and my father, Daniel Leab (Editor of Labor History and founder of American Communist History), bought me Action Comics 600. The issue, which had vibrant colors, huge action scenes, and interesting dialogue was quickly followed with Amazing Spider-Man 301. It was after those two issues that I was hooked. Soon I had a box at my local comic book shop (named “My Mother Threw Mine Away”) and I was collecting a dozen or more issues a week. Suddenly Batman, The Punisher, Doctor Strange, Checkmate, The X-Men, Spider-Man, and more were filling my imagination on a daily basis as I eagerly anticipated how their adventures would continue. My love of collecting was also bolstered by older sisters Abigail and Constance, who collected comics as well.

The main bulk of this collection is from the late 1980s to the present, but I also had some comics from the 1950s-70s that came to me after another collector came to speak to my parents about books and saw me reading comics.

“Hey, kid,” the man said. “Want to buy my collection off of me?”

I was intrigued. “How much?”

“Tell you what,” the man stated, “If you move it yourself, inventory it, and then give me a copy of that inventory…$100. What do you say?”

“DEAL!”

I moved three boxes of older comics that included classic Silver Surfer issues, an older Thor, and many other classic Marvel, DC, and independent books. A great deal.

As I grew older, I continued to collect DC and Marvel comics, but also started collecting some of the independent comics as well, such as Eastman & Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spawn by Todd McFarlane, and Kurt Busiek’s Astro City.

Now, as a father of two, I still love comics and have passed that love on to my kids, but how to manage the boxes became a challenge. A few months ago, as I was re-reading part of my collection, I noticed that some of the books had visibly aged. Since libraries are amazing at taking care of precious texts, and these comics were very precious to me; and since my mother had just donated some other material to Trinity, I thought the Watkinson Library would be the best place to send the collection so it would be cared for. I realized that comics are one of the many reflections of our world & culture, and it is my hope that readers will come to see the collection both to remember their own love of the world of comics as well as (in the case of new students) to see what influenced their parents and even grandparents.

Into the unknown, dear readers!

22
May

A gift of money!

   Posted by: rring

Or rather, paper currency!

german currenciesI am delighted to announce a fabulous gift of ephemera by our own staff member, Henry Arneth, who has been collecting these at paper fairs, shops, and eBay now for over 30 years. It comprises a total of 1,532 notes: 753 notes from 118 countries, and 779 “Notgeld” from 250 German and Austrian city-states.

As Douglas Mudd has pointed out, “Among the most important and least studied [aspects of coinage and paper money] is the use of money as a means of communication through art. A nation’s money is often the first impression a visitor gets of the nature of a country. As such, designs and legends placed on money have always been considered important by the authorities responsible for their issue.”

The earliest paper money originated in China around the 7th century A.D. during the Tang dynasty (in the form of privately issued bills of credit), but paper money as we know it today was invented when the government of the Jin Dynasty began issuing Exchange Certificates in 1189. Marco Polo saw the exclusive use of paper money when he visited China from 1275-1292. In Europe it was Sweden which issued the first bank notes in 1660–not surprising, since it was easier to carry than their largest coins (copper “dalers”), which measured up to two feet long and weighed sixty pounds! (look it up).

The first American issue of paper money dates to 1690 in Massachusetts. Lacking specie (metal money) to pay its soldiers returning from Canada, the colony created bills of credit made out to the bearer and payable at certain banks.

img358img359This 500-peso note from Argentina, for instance, features General José de San Martin (1778-1850), who arrived in Buenos Aires in 1811 (after fighting in the Spanish army against the French), and became one of the great “liberators” of Latin America.

On the reverse side is the Cerro de la Gloria, or Mount of Glory. Overlooking the city of Mendoza, this colossal set of bronze statues with a Wagnerian look is the work of the sculptor Ferrari, who immortalized San Martin’s crossing of the Andes to liberate Chile and Peru (1818-1821).

img360img361This 1-Zaïre note from the what WAS the country of Zaire, but since 1997 is the Democratice Republic Of the Congo, features Joseph Désiré, later Sesé Seko Mobutu, born in Lisala in 1930. He was Secretary of State, the Chief of Staff of the Congolese Armed Forces, and finally President of the Republic, and was a force for stabilization and growth. On the verso is a cornucopia and factory chimney. Mining was a major part of the economy–industrial diamonds and cobalt especially, as well as gold, tin, silver and cadmium.

 

I should also mention other items that will be of interest to folks teaching or researching various subjects.  Below is a 10-Krone note from a complete set (of 7) uncirculated notes issued on January 1, 1943 from the concentration camp at Theresienstadt (part of the former Czechoslovakia). All of them feature an engraved vignette of Moses holding the Ten Commandments on the recto. According to one scholar, Theresienstadt was established as a proposed model ghetto to impress foreign visitors and the Red Cross, but was actually no more than a transit point to the death camps in Poland. On the verso is a printed signature of Jakob Edelstein as “Der Alteste der Juden” (Eldest of the Jews).

img362img363There are others of historical interest–issued by the military in wartime (Philippines, France, Russia) or by local polities which had no access to other types of credit.

Lots for the student to explore!

Sources for this post:

Douglas Mudd, All The Money in the World: The Art and History of Paper Money and Coins from Antiquity to the 21st Century (New York: HarperCollins, 2006).

Martin Monestier, The Art of Paper Currency (London, Melbourne & New York: Quartet Books, 1983).

30
Mar

Modern Library comes to the Watkinson!

   Posted by: rring

ML1We are exceedingly pleased to announce a recent gift from Katherine Kyes Leab, of Washington, CT–an almost complete set (nearly 600 volumes) of first- or early issues of the first series of The Modern Library (1917-1970), most of which are in very good condition and have their dust jackets. This collection adds materially to our 20thC literary holdings, as a study collection for modernist literature, publishing, and criticism.

“In the 1920s the Modern Library achieved an honorific cultural status unparalleled in reprint publishing, equivalent to that enjoyed simultaneously by America’s ‘intellectual’ magazines and experimental theater troupes . . . [and] despite the deepening Depression, in 1930 it sold over a million books. What had begun in 1917 as a publishing venture designed for self-consciously ‘modern’ bohemian intellectuals found an extensive new audience after Bennet Cerf and Donald Klopfer bought the series from Horace Liveright in 1925.”

“The Modern Library’s origin as a self-consciously subversive literary purveyor to America’s fledgling Greenwich Village intelligensia established its early critical success . . . From 1925, when Cerf and Klopfer took control of the series and began to apply new marketing strategies, to the start of World War II, the Modern Library sustained a period of healthy growth as it rapidly expanded into new markets. Its distribution and sales methods in the early 1930s foreshadowed the era of the mass-market paperback, and it became the cornerstone of Random House, perhaps the most financially successful publishing firm of the twentieth century. This period was crucial in the development of the modern concept of culture and it saw a dramatic reformulation of the country’s book trade.”

[Jay Satterfield, The World’s Best Books: Taste, Culture, and the Modern Library (U. of Massachusetts Press, 2002), “Introduction”].

19
Dec

Beerbohm collection

   Posted by: rring

3This just in!

Over 200 volumes from the house collection of Watkinson Trustee (and currently its chair) Hugh Macgill, who has served on the Board since 1992. The bulk of the collection comprises works by and about Max Beerbohm (born Henry Maximilian Beerbohm, 1872-1956), a well-known caricaturist, essayist, and critic (see a recent New Yorker article). Among these are first and early editions of Beerbohm’s most famous works, which include many of his caricatures, a run of the Yellow Book, editions of his published letters and biographies.

Mcgill gift

 

 

 

 

 

 

1A small collection of Horatio Alger’s works are also part of the gift, which will join our growing collection of juvenile literature. I particularly love covers like this one, which tell the entire plot in one image.

2

15
Dec

Asimov’s SF

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Ashley Esposito, a graduate student in American Studies doing an internship in the Watkinson]

Leigh Couch Collection in progress…

asimov_coversAs my time with this collection draws to a close, I was able to take a look at another interesting science fiction magazine. Issac Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine was first published in Spring 1977 and makes the short list of SciFi Magazines still published today.  Although it has changed publishing schedules over the years, since 2004 IASF has settled on ten issues per year.  In November of 1992 the magazine officially shortened its title to Asimov’s Science Fiction.  It currently offers both digital and paper subscriptions.

The image (left) shows the evolution of the covers. You can see the changes in the font and name size. The Leigh Couch Collection includes copies of the magazine from 1979 to early 1992–or 185 of 444 originally issued. The picture of the bindings shows a clear progression of the front, style and colors used in the printing process.

Over the course of exploring this collection I have observed more things that I have time to write about.  A few things that I found so interesting was overall trends thoughout the entire collection that helps fit into the greater narrative of science fiction and society.  Including but not limted to shared authors, printing challenges, price changes and content struggles. This collection is a fantasic opportunity waiting for researchers to find their own path and discover the wonder.

asimov_bindingsasimov_anniversary_cover

14
Dec

Miss Susanna Olmsted Her Book

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Jennifer Sharp M’11, a Project Archivist with the Watkinson Library]

adviceOne of the pieces in the Charles P. Wells collection that I enjoyed finding is a copybook, owned by Susanna Olmsted. The poem, written by Esther Lewis, seems to have been written out by Susanna’s friend, E.Benton, presumably prior to Susanna’s marriage.

The first page reads:

Advice to a Lady lately Married

Dear Peggy since the single State / You’ve left & chose yourself a Mate / Since metamorphos’d to a Wife / And Bliss or Woe’s insur’d for Life

A friendly Muse the way would show / To gain the Bliss & miss the Woe. / But first of all I must suppose / You,ve with mature reflection chose /

And this premis’d I think you may / Here find to married Bliss the way. / Small is the province of a Wife / And narrow is her Sphere in Life /

Within that Sphere to move aright / Should be her principal Delight. / To guide the House with prudent ease / And properly to spend & spare /

To make her Husband bless the Day / He gave his Liberty away.

susannaThe final page is where we find out the book was owned by Susanna. I spent several hours trying to connect Susanna Olmsted with the Wells family, but wasn’t able to do so. I may keep trying! There were few enough families in Hartford when this was written (1775), that I’m sure we have a connection in a ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ sort of way. This is my final post about the collection. I have arranged it all, and the finding aid is in progress. I hope you will visit the Watkinson and use the collection. Thank you for reading!

8
Dec

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Ashley Esposito, a graduate student in American Studies doing an internship in the Watkinson]

F&SF1Leigh Couch Collection in progress…

This week I was able to focus on The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Beginning its publishing in October 1949, Fantasy, persists to this day in print. Yes, you read that correctly, F&SF is still printed on paper as a digest style magazine. You can subscribe for about $36.97 for 6 issues per year.  Between Oct 1949 and Dec 2016, F&SF has published 723 volumes.  Starting in 2010, F&SF converted its publishing schedule to bi-monthly with continued success and circulation.

The six-cover progression seen to the left shows the growth of the magazine over the years while it sought to define its brand, and the one below shows the 30th anniversary issue that lists on its cover the authors that are included in that 320-page edition.F&SF4

At first the inventory of Fantasy and Science Fiction was so overwhelming. So many volumes. Over 450 volumes are in the collection between 1951 and 1994. It was truly amazing to see the progression of the covers, printing, binding and issue prices. As part of the inventory process a listing of all volumes held, original volumes held is compared to the total number of volumes originally issued. This process was a labor of love.  I have truly found a worthwhile research opportunity with the Leigh Couch collection.

 

6
Dec

Friendship album

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Jennifer Sharp M’11, a Project Archivist with the Watkinson Library]

dedicationA common practice in the nineteenth century was to maintain a friendship album. Though mostly kept by women, entries were often from both men and women. The albums contained poems and stories, and served a purpose similar to a high school yearbook or a Facebook wall.

Lucy Strong was the sister of Charles Wells’ wife, Jane Naomi (Strong) Wells. As we can tell from the album’s dedication, in 1832 Lucy attended (or perhaps just visited) Wesleyan Academy, now Wilbraham & Monson Academy in Wilbraham, Massachusetts.

She received entries from several men there, including one from Columbia, South Carolina, and another from New Hartford, Connecticut.

While often the entries were just text, some, such as this entry from Clarissa Talmage, were far more intricate.

Though water damaged, the pages all remain legible. It’s great to have this example of a nineteenth century custom in the collection.

*I have learned from online histories of Wilbraham & Monson that Wesleyan Academy was the first co-ed boarding school in the country. The wording in the dedication makes it sound like Lucy was a student there, but in my quick search I was unable to find a date for co-education.

 

talmagenew_hartfords_carolina

16
Nov

Analog

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Ashley Esposito, a graduate student in American Studies doing an internship in the Watkinson]

Analog1Leigh Couch Collection in progress…

This week my focus was on Analog Science Fiction. Originally published under the title Astounding Stories from 1937-1960 then making the transition to a few versions of Analog that juggled “science fiction,” “science fact” and even “science fiction & fact.” Analog published 664 volumes from 1960-2016. This collection includes volumes from 1960-1994. In the first picture you can see just how impressive that is. Our digital age has taken a toll on the tangible printed word so it makes this collection nostalgic.Analog2

The pictures show the progression from Astounding Stories to Analog and its further progressive reimagining. The progressively evolve from February 1960 and January 1961 you can see the stylized font associated with Astounding Stories (AS) continuing the visual character from its covers. On the top right cover from January 1963 you can see the title is Analog Science Fact Science Fiction complete with the symbol for that was created to the magazine to give the full title ‘ANALOG – Science Fact is analogous to Science Fiction’. In 1966 the symbol all but disappears from the cover at yet it persisted on the binding until about 1974 where it seems to disappear completely.

The cover font and layout went through a few versions until the 1990s when it settled on its current presentation. The last photo is of the recently published November 2016.

Analog3I enjoyed getting to know Analog not only because it is such a long-standing publication that gives a different insight into society but also because I can see some of my favorite concepts and images from science fiction being born on the covers and in the pages of Analog.

 

Additional Resources:

www.sf-enyclopedia.com

www.isfdb.org