Friday, March 24, 2017

Staring at the Sun

An oval portrait photograph of Charles A. Young, arms crossed, with a full beard and mustache. He looks to be in his mid-40s.
Yet another snowy day in late March on campus has us casting our eyes in desperation to the sky in the vain hope of seeing a warm and welcoming sun. It also brings to mind another sun-worshipper who got his start gazing heavenward in Hanover. Charles Augustus Young, the best and brightest of Dartmouth's class of 1853, was a world-renowned astronomer and a native son of the Upper Valley. After initially teaching Latin and Greek at Phillips Andover Academy, he went on to be the chair of mathematics, natural philosophy, and astronomy at Western Reserve College (now Case Western Reserve University). After a lengthy tenure as a professor of astronomy at Dartmouth, he moved to Princeton for the conclusion of his long and prestigious academic career. Young's expertise was in solar physics, a field in which he discovered a layer of the sun's chromosphere and invented the automatic spectroscope.

Charles A. Young's passport issued by the United States Consulate in Tien-Tsin on Sept. 11, 1874. It reads "The undersigned, United States Consul for Tien-tsin, requests the Civil and Military Authorities of the Emperor of China in conformity with the ninth article of the British Treaty of Tien-tsin to allow Charles A. Young, Esquire, a Citizen of the United States to travel freely and without hindrance or molestation in the Chinese Empire and to give him protection and aid in case of necessity. Mr. Young being a person of known respectability is desirous of proceeding to Peking & the Great Wall and this passport is given him on condition of his not visiting the cities or towns occupied by the Insurgents." The passport is authorized by the signature of Eli Sheppard and states that it will remain in force for a year from the date of issuance.While at Dartmouth, Young's reputation was such that in May of 1874 he received a telegram from another major luminary in the field astronomy, James C. Watson. Watson was an astronomical prodigy who was, among other accomplishments, a recipient of the prestigious Lalande Prize in 1867 and the director of the Ann Arbor Observatory. Upon his death, a bequest from his estate established the James Craig Watson Medal, an honor that is still awarded today by the United States National Academy of Sciences for contributions to the field of astronomy. In the 1860s and 1870s, Watson was involved in some of the most important astronomical observations commissioned by the U. S. Government, and his message to Young was an invitation to join him on a trip to Peking, China, to witness the rare occurrence of the transit of the planet Venus across the face of the sun. After securing his passport, Young embarked upon a long journey across the Pacific to China as a member of one of eight separate observation groups sent out by the U. S. to observe the transit.

A stereoscopic photograph card that contains two side-by-side images of what appears to be the primary telescope in the Peking Observatory from 1874.
In addition to bringing back stereoscope cards of Peking and his observations on the transit, Young also returned with numerous fascinating Chinese books and other souvenirs from his visit abroad. To explore the rest of the Charles A. Young papers, which contain photographs, scientific data, and correspondence, come to Rauner and ask to see ML-49. Young's passport is MS 874511, and his alumni file is filled with articles and photographs from different stages of his life and career.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Trampling on the Mother Country

Image of the Boston Tea Party: Americans throwing the Cargoes of the Tea Ships into the River, at Boston"Before we proceed to describe what America is at present, or by what means she became independent of the Mother Country, it cannot be disagreeable to our readers, to be informed of the persons, customs, and manners, of the original inhabitants of North America."

A lovely start to a book that has "endeavoured to divest [it]self of every spark of national prejudice." It is a History of North America written for the youth of England and published by Elizabeth Newbery in 1789. The revolution was still fresh, the constitution big news on both sides of the Atlantic, and, presumably, school children were anxious to learn more. Elizabeth Newbery had taken over the publishing firm she operated with her husband John Newbery that, in essence, invented the modern children's book (the Newbery Award is named after him).

Image of title page and frontispiece. The Frontispiece shows an allegorical image of America trampling a dog like creature with emblems of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.
We took a look at the book. "Mother Country" in the first sentence is a hint that it is not completely devoid of national prejudice, but the statement is countered by an image of "America trampling on Oppression." The book was reprinted in the States. Several printers, including one in Bennington, Vermont, picked it up and, in an era without international copyright, happily stole it from the motherland.

Our copy was clearly owned by a kid. It has drawings of ships sketched onto the flyleaves. Come on in and take a look at a child's eye view of the revolution by asking for Rare E188.C75 1789.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Sign from Above?

title page of Prodigies & Apparitions showing  conjoined wins holding a banner with the title on it. in the background is a depitciton of a battle in the heavensIn the 1600s, a prodigious snowstorm like the one forecast for today might not have been seen as a classic "Nor'easter," but as a warning from a greater power. We just cataloged a very cool little book from 1643 that describes a series of events that the author saw as signs of future doom: Prodigies & Apparitions; or, England's Warning Pieces (London: Bates and Markland, [1643]).

Image of a church busting into flames during service as a fireball from the sky strikes it during a stormAmong the descriptions are examples of lightning striking churches, the birth of conjoined twins, and a battle in the heavens. England had a lot to be concerned with at the time. Charles I was fighting for his crown, a battle he lost a few years later, and then lost his head over in 1649. It was a tumultuous time in English politics that tore the society apart. As this book indicates, the warning signs were there for anyone with a sharp eye.

A depiction of a battle in the heavens. A black ston is falling form the sky chased by a dog
I guess we should watch out! To see the warnings of another era, ask for Hickmott 516.

Friday, March 10, 2017

All we can say is, "Wow!"

Title page of the 1553 edition of the Eneados
Historically, the amazing breadth and depth of Rauner's collections is a result of book-loving Dartmouth alumni and their generosity in passing along their treasures to us so that a new generation of Dartmouth students can explore and marvel at them. Just recently, a group of students in Professor Sara McCallum's Vergil class came to Rauner to flip through numerous editions of the great poet's works. Among the gathering of tomes was a recently catalogued copy of the Aeneid that was first translated by Bishop Gavin Douglas into Middle Scots in 1513. Douglas's translation, titled Eneados, is interesting for a variety of reasons, including that it's the first direct translation from the Latin into an Anglic language and it's the first time that the word "Wow" appears in print (according to the Oxford English Dictionary).

First page of the 1553 edition of the Eneados including a woodcut initial "L".Although we don't have a 1513 edition of Douglas's Eneados, we are lucky enough to have a version printed in 1553 that was a gift from Allerton Hickmott, class of 1917. This small but handsome book is printed with a blackletter typeface that gives it a distinctly early modern look and displays numerous lovely little woodcut initials throughout the volume.

First page of the 1710 edition's General Rules for Understanding the Language of Gavin Douglas's Translation of Virgil.We also have a much later edition from 1710 that formerly belonged to George Ticknor, class of 1803. Ticknor's copy of the text is a fascinating look into textual transmission and reception several centuries after the translation's initial creation. The typeface is now mostly roman, and therefore more familiar to a modern eye. Also, the publisher has included numerous linguistic tools, such as a list of general rules and a glossary, to assist the reader in understanding Douglas's strange and seemingly foreign language.

To try your eye and mind at Middle Scots, perhaps with the help of an early 18th-century appendix or two, come to Rauner and thumb through these wonderful gifts from two important alumni. For the 1553 edition, ask for Hickmott 399, while the 1710 edition is Ticknor LT V7aEd.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Coffee Break

typographic title page of Samuel Stearns' the American HerbalIt is a cold, rainy day and the students are starting to hunker down to prepare for Winter term finals. It's a good day to hole up and study with a cup of coffee and the lines at the Library coffee shop are long. Those looking for their caffeine and comfort might want to know the advice from The American Herbal by Samuel Stearns (Walpole, NH: Thomas and Thomas and the Author, 1801).

Stearns believed that coffee "assists in digestion" (nice after dinner beverage), "promotes the natural secretions" (we don't want to know), "prevents sleepiness" (duh!), "relieves the spasmodic asthma," and can be effective against kidney disease. But beware, it is "hurtful to thin habits, the bilious, melancholic, hypochondriac, and those subject to hemorrhage." Too much coffee have you feeling bilious or melancholic? Not to worry, Stearns says a cup of chocolate can cure those.

To see what other foods and drinks might do for you, ask for NH Imprints, Walpole 1801b.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Night Tragedy Struck

Daily Illustrated News, Los Angeles, CA, Monday, February 26, 1934, Front Page. Headline reads "Gas Kills 9 Dartmouth Students" Other articles on page.
It was cold that night in February 1934, when eleven Dartmouth students, members of Theta Chi, settled down to play bridge on the lower floor of their house on North Main Street. Earlier that night, they had watched Dartmouth defeat its rival Princeton at hockey. At 12:30 am two students left their brothers to return to their dormitories. Sometime after 2:30 am the others retired to their rooms upstairs. At 6:30 am janitor Merton D. Little entered the house to fix the furnace fire, noticing a slight odor of coal gas. Presuming everyone still asleep he left and returned at 1:30 pm to clean up the lower rooms. At that time, according to the official report, he thought “the quietness of the house” was due to the students being at dinner. It was not until 4:30 pm when he returned, once again, to make the beds that he found all nine students and one dog dead in their beds.

The official cause of this mass tragedy, the greatest in Dartmouth’s history, was carbon-monoxide poisoning. According to medical examiner Dr. Ralph Miller:
Investigating cause of nine deaths. Chief of police Dennis J. Hullisey of Hanover, N. H., shown inspecting the boiler in the cellar of the Theta Chi fraternity house where nine students were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning the night of February 25. Investigation revealed that a slight explosion in the furnace had broken the flue pipe and allowed the gas to penetrate the basement and the upper floors of the house, killing nine Dartmouth College Students in their sleep. 2-26-34. Associated Press Photo From New York please use credit. The smoke pipe of the furnace had been blown off in an explosion, after which some one had apparently re-shut the furnace door without noticing the displaced pipe, and that the carbon monoxide gas accumulating from an improperly banked fire had escaped through the break instead of going up the chimney.
In the aftermath fingers were pointed, accusations of incompetence emerged and facts were doubted. An uncredited newspaper article entitled “The Dartmouth Mystery” proclaimed that coal gas could not have been the cause as “the annual casualties within the United States from this cause would run into the thousands.” Rumors included suicide pact or poisonous liquor as the cause.

Removing victim from scene of Dartmouth tragedy. Authorities shown removing the body of Edward Moldenke from the Theta Chi fraternoty house at Hanover, NH February 26, where he and eight of his fraternoty brothers were killed the night of February 26 by carbon monoxide poisoning. Investigation revealed that a slight explosion in the furnace had broken the flue pipe and allowed the fumes fo the gas to penetrate the basement and upper floors fo the house, killing the men in their sleep. Associated Press Photo From New York please use credit.
In the end it was confirmed that William Simpson Fullerton, Edward Morris Wentworth Jr. , Harold Barnard Watson, Americo Secondo DeMasi, John Joseph Griffin, William Mandeville Smith, Jr., Wilmot Horton Schooley and the brothers Edward Frederick and Alfred Henry Moldenke indeed died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

To read more about the tragedy, the investigation and the aftermath ask for our Vertical File on the subject. To get a closer look at the administration’s response and actions ask to see Box 6942 of DP-11, President Hopkins’ presidential papers.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Victoria's Lent

Cover of book in black morocco leather with msall gold crown stamped in center.Lent starts this week, which reminded us of an ironic little indulgence in the collections. We have a copy of John Jackson's The Sinfulness of Little Sins: A Course of Sermons Preached in Lent from 1849 that contains a sermon on "Pride and Vanity." All well and good, nothing odd there. But, our copy happened to have been owned by none other than Queen Victoria. So it is bound in full morocco leather, with the crown gold stamped on the cover. The gold continued onto the edges, expertly gilded, of course. Open it up, and the inside flyleaf and paste down are beautifully patterned silk. Little sins? It is all in the context--this was surely one of the more modest books in her library.

Flyleaf and paste down of book. hey are a pale cream colted silk with a floral pattern.
To prepare for the season of denial, ask for Bindings 113.