Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Johnny Johnson's Rum and Molasses Fund

Johnny Johnson turkey eats studentRum and Molasses -- what better way to spend a Thanksgiving holiday at Dartmouth? The Rum and Molasses Fund provided turkeys and other delicious foods for Dartmouth Outing Club members staying in Hanover over the break.

We have a few documents from the 1930s and 1940s outlining the festivities. One year, there was the "Thanksgiving feed at Moose" cooked by a member of the class of 1934 at Moosilauk, then the "Annual Thanksgiving Mt. Washington Trip," a trip with members of the Yale Outing Club ("For a real bunch of fellows, a Dartmouth-Yale combination is hard to beat!"), as well as hikes in the Adirondacks, hiking to various DOC cabins, and some cabin work at Jobildunc.

In a letter from 1940 (above), "Sir Robert Montcalm," "Loafing Trips Big-Blowout" and the "Agent Extraordinary of Yhoodi," announces that you can reserve a free turkey and go off and have your own wilderness adventure -- unless, of course, your Johnny Johnson Turkey eats you first!

The Fund was established by "Johnny Johnson '66," also known as John Edgar Johnson, Class of 1866 (picture below).  In 1913, an article by Fred Harris, the founder of the DOC, inspired Johnson to donate a 100-acre farm called Skyline to the DOC. This was only the beginning of his generosity. Johnson was not a wealthy man, but he was a passionate gifter, constantly surprising DOC members with random presents -- from a case of Worcester sauce for one Thanksgiving feast, to 24 scarlet jackets for DOC members during Carnival to a black bear cub. Some of the funds that Johnson established still exist, but the Rum and Molasses fund is sadly defunct.
John Johnson Class of 1866
Johnson described himself as a "wall-flower" at Dartmouth, but he was certainly a passionate and outspoken man later in life. He was a member of Kappa Kappa Kappa, served in the Civil War, and later became a minister. Reverend Johnson also claimed that the Class of 1866 had chosen green as Dartmouth's color. His alumni files is bulging -- come in and check it out!

In all our research, it remains unclear whether the funds were ever used to purchase rum and molasses ...or just turkey.

For more trending Thanksgiving topics, we've blogged about what Dartmouth students in 1946 were thankful for ("I'm thankful that after eating in Thayer Hall for two months I can go home for a decent meal"), early recipes, and the tragic death of Molly Goosey, back before turkey was the Thanksgiving bird of choice. To see the original Rum and Molasses documents, ask for DO-1, Box 6138, Folder 22. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Warning of Things to Come

Letter from Benjamin Hale to his father, 18 June 1832We usually miss the early signs of impending doom and only later look back and piece together the clues. But one Dartmouth faculty member saw with sobering clarity the spread of the 1832 cholera pandemic into North America. On June 18, 1832, Benjamin Hale, professor of Chemistry, wrote a letter to his father reporting that a ship had arrived at Quebec and "40 or 50 persons are said to have died on the passage." Worse, another report stated that of the 90 people who had contracted cholera in Montreal the week before, 60 had died.

Then it gets scarier: the Hanover postmaster said that one person had died on a boat coming from Montreal to Burlington that week, and there was another unconfirmed case "at the extreme southern part of Lake Champlain." He went on to warn:
There seems to be no doubt that this dreadful disease has at length reached this part of the world and we may expect it to sweep over our land. And we should each be prepared for its visitation. It will doubtless sweep thousands into their graves with very little warning--We ought to anticipate its approach and be ready if it should summon us to our account.
He was right. The pandemic ravaged North America, killing well over 100,000 people, often within 24 hours of the first sign of illness. To see the letter ask for MS 815363.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Independent of Politics

Dawley on horsebackIn 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10924 establishing the Peace Corps under the directorship of R. Sargent Shriver. During the first year, volunteers were deployed to nine countries: Ghana, Tanzania, Chile, Columbia, India, Nigeria, the Philippines, St. Lucia and Pakistan. By 1962 Honduras became one of 28 total host countries. The following year Honduras requested an additional 50 volunteers to serve in rural communities throughout the country. Among the fifty new volunteers was recent Dartmouth College graduate, David Dawley.

Dawley’s service abroad began during a period of political unrest for the Honduran government and national tragedy for the United States. President John F. Kennedy’s assassination occurred during Dawley’s training in New Mexico and just two months prior to his scheduled departure, the Honduran military staged a “golpe de estado”, overthrowing the government and replacing President Ramon Villeda Morales, with General Oswaldo L√≥pez Arellano. The military takeover was condemned by the United States and subsequently led to a break of diplomatic relations between the two governments.  Despite the strained relationship between Honduras and the United States and the drama created by the assassination of J.F.K, the Honduras Rural Community Action Program moved forward as planned, affected only by a two-week delay.

Image of letter from Dawley to LowtherIn a letter dated November 24, 1963 to Kevin Lowther, his Dartmouth classmate, who was serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone, Dawley noted the justification for moving forward with the program:
Sorry for the delay in writing, but I was waiting to hear the final word. Our training was extended two weeks as a result of the revolution…. At any rate, I’m off for Honduras on December 6, with diplomatic relations still broken. The justification for sending us in is that the Peace Corps is a people to people program and operates independently of politics. This is simple in words, but the reality remains that we are an experimental group. Though all factions in Honduras--except the Communists--support our program, the implications of our aid are very uncertain…
This excerpt is from Dawley’s last letter to Lowther before his arrival in Honduras for his two-year assignment in El Triunfo, Choluteca, a rural town in the southern region of the country. His service is thoroughly documented through journaling, extensive correspondence to family and friends and summary reports.

Peace Corps group photo, Honduras
His papers offer vivid descriptions and detailed reflections upon his interactions with the Honduran people, the programming, the uncertainty of his work, and his overall experience as a community organizer.  Anecdotal memories of his Dartmouth days as well as updates about Big Green’s athletic pursuits are fondly recapped throughout his correspondence with Lowther and other classmates. His reflections consider the possibility of having “mistakenly romanticized” the notion of serving in the Peace Corps and whether or not he is making an impact.

In a letter dated May 9, 1964, Dawley explains to Lowther, “You’re the first guy I know who has said that he knows he is accomplishing something. The... unreflecting humility in wondering if you are really doing any good is out for this volunteer. In terms of latrines built, schools constructed, or water systems installed, I suppose this might be a valid preoccupation for some. But this is a false index to measuring the success of Peace Corps.”

Dawley’s service abroad ended in 1965. In 1970, President Richard Nixon appointed him to the National Advisory Council of Peace Corps under Chairman Neil Armstrong.

Girls' track meet, HondurasBoys' track meet, Honduras

Request MS-1329 at the reference desk if you would like to learn more about Dawley’s community organizing efforts and his work developing the first interscholastic track and field competition in Honduras. His papers documenting the Peace Corps are just part of a larger collection. Upon returning to the United States, Dawley continued his community organizing efforts in Chicago after two years of graduate school at the University of Michigan. He worked with the Vice Lords, a street gang from the Lawndale neighborhood of the city. However, that story is for another blog post…

Friday, November 13, 2015

Coloring Books

detail of Paris panorama Until Louis Prang popularized chromolithography in the second half of the 19th century, printing in color was economically impractical. The few methods that had been invented were too difficult or expensive for regular use. Instead, printers would hire a team of colorists to hand-color images printed in black and white. Our Audubon double elephant folio on display in the reading room is one of the most famous examples, but we just bought an amazing hand-colored lithograph panorama of Paris that is stunning in its details, colors and brightness.

This year, during finals week, we are offering students a chance to do some of their own hand coloring. We have scanned and printed some of our favorite black and white images from the rare book collections and put them out with some colored pencils for people to relax with. So, take a study break from November 16th to the 25th and come upstairs to the Galleries in Rauner to do come coloring!  The books that the images come from will be on hold in the Reading Room all week (but you can't color in those!).

If you want inspiration, ask for the Panorama interieur de Paris (Paris: Ches Aubert, ca. 1840; Rare NE2439.25 P76 1843) or take a look at the Audubon in the display case.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Cozy Book for Colder Days

Wind in the Willows coverAs winter comes closer, sometimes you just need a good old favorite to curl up with (or admire in the reading room!). Here at Rauner, we have a first edition of The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame (1908)

Wind in the Willows spine with toadOn the front cover, a serious satyr plays panpipes as Mole and Ratty glide down the river. The best part is the spine where Toad, "arrayed in goggles, cap, gaiters, and enormous overcoat," displays his swagger, exactly as I imagined him from the text! (p. 123) The spine entices a potential reader to choose to adventure with Toad by pulling the book off the shelf and diving in.

Of course, we don't sanction Toad's terrible behavior, but we do laugh along with him. Grahame fills his text with apt descriptions of human (or animal) interaction:
Indeed, much that he [Toad] related belonged more properly to the category of what-might-have-happened-had-I-only-thought-of-it-in-time-instead-of-ten-minutes-afterwards. Those are always the best and raciest adventures; and why should they not truly be ours, as much as the somewhat inadequate things that really come off? (p. 277)  
Come into Rauner and have some racy adventures with Toad and all, or look for your own childhood favorite! The edition of The Wind in the Willows featured in this post is Val 826 G766 Y711. We also have a later edition with illustrations by Arthur Rackham, Presses qW165gr.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Gaping Maw of the Sea

Image of boats attacking whales, 1836
With a big-budget movie coming out next month "based on the incredible true story that inspired Moby-Dick," and with our own Moby-Dick exhibit coming down later this month, we had to take a look at our first edition of the Narrative of the Essex (New York: W. B. Gilley, 1821). What a title page! It says it all, and with the hyperbole of a movie trailer:
Title page of Narrative of the Essex
Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing  Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex, of Nantucket; which was attacked and finally destroyed by a large Spermaceti-Whale, in the Pacific Ocean; with and account of the Unparalleled Sufferings of the Captain and Crew during a space of ninety-three days at sea, in open boats, in the years 1819 & 1820. By Owen Chase, of Nantucket, first mate of said vessel.
That's a mouthful, but not as bad as what the crew had to resort to (spoiler alert: they eat each other!).

The image above is from a more sedate book on whaling, also used by Melville as source material: Thomas Beale's The Natural History of the Sperm Whale (London: John Van Voorst, 1836).

To see the Narrative of the Essex ask for Melville G530.E7 1821; the Natural History of the Sperm Whale is Melville QL737.C4B4. Moby-Dick, or, the Plurality of the Whale will be on display here in Rauner Library through November 15th.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November

Guy Fawkes accordion bookThe Fifth of November is once again upon us, with the catchy rhyme reminding us of Guy Fawkes' treason (or heroism?!). As with most historical events, there are the serious renditions, and then there are the comic. Here are two of my favorites.

Illustrated by Percy Cruikshank, Guy Faux: A Squib* mocks Guy himself, figuring him with wiggly legs and a pointy goatee. It's also an accordion book.

Guy Fawkes burlesque*For those of us who grew up with Harry Potter, a squib isn't only the child of wizard parents who doesn't have magical abilities, but also a small stick of dynamite.

A burlesque version of the story from 1866 contains horrible pun after horrible pun. Guy Fawkes survives by proclaiming to the King that he was just about to throw a party:
"Now can you doubt 
I'd be the better for a light blow-out?
And that was all I meant--not blowing up,
I vos preparing for some friends to sup--"

The barrels are filled with beer, oysters, and gunpowder ... tea.

For the play, ask for Williams/Watson PL4976 while the accordion book is Sine Illus C783magu.