Friday, May 1, 2015

Side Table

In 1905, Russia and Japan signed the peace treaty that ended the Russo-Japanese War. Though brief in duration, the war was a harbinger of the coming mechanized conflict that tore the world apart in 1914. The treaty was signed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, just across the border from Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

That same year, John Bartlett, Dartmouth 1894, purchased "one of the mahogany tables used in the Peace Conference room." Though not the "large table... at which they sat when they did their actual diplomatic sparring," it was "one of the side tables around which one party or the other gathered when they wanted to whisper to each other." He then offered the table to Dartmouth President William Tucker in the hope that it would be used either in "some reading room" or as a "centre table or reference table." After a bit of prompting, Tucker accepted the gift, complete with an engraved silver plate commemorating the Treaty signing.

Another Dartmouth link to the treaty is Asakawa Kan’ichi, Dartmouth 1899, the first Japanese student to attend Dartmouth. Asakawa was a professor at Dartmouth from 1902-1906 and President Tucker paid Asakawa's expenses to attend the proceedings, presumably as part of Asakawa's ongoing research into the conflict and its resolution. This trip may have helped provide material for his article in the Atlantic Monthly on "Korea and Manchuria Under the New Treaty."

To see the table in its current home, come in to Rauner. Ask for the vertical file "Portsmouth, Treaty of, Table" for more information. To read Asakawa's article, ask for Alumni A798k.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Modern Gods

What will scholars write about us in five hundred years? How will they interpret the objects that we value, or the ways in which we interact with each other?

Acclaimed book artist Sam Winston explores these questions and more in Modern Gods, created in 2013 for an exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. The museum had commissioned twenty artists to create a “walk-in book” experience for Hari Kunzru’s dystopian novel Memory Palace. Set in London, Memory Palace delves into a distant future in which humans have rebuilt society in the aftermath of a massive magnetic storm that destroyed the world’s 21st century information infrastructure. The novel’s protagonist attempts to piece together history with whatever cultural and technological remnants he can find.

In response to Memory Palace, Winston adopts the lens of an archaeologist from the future, trying to unravel the deeper meanings of the objects that we consider mundane today. Modern Gods consists of three scrolls, each meticulously printed with elemental symbols from the periodic table and arranged in the shape of a molecule. Winston juxtaposes science with sacred geometry and mysticism; as he breaks objects down into their elemental structure, he also builds them up into objects of worship, reminiscent of an ancient manuscript from which a priest would chant. Modern Gods forces its readers to think--not only about the ways in which we interpret the belief systems of the past, but also about our modern-day idols: wealth, technology, and knowledge. Winston captions each scroll with an archaeologist’s notes. One scroll (pictured) describes a watch:
These were sometimes hung on walls but more often it was worn on the wrist as an amulet. It was most powerful in the booming, it had the strength to rise millions from sleep and animate their limbs even though they did not wish to move. Giant herds of people were called a ‘commute’ and this objected had command over all ‘commuting.’ Even though it was all-powerful, they called it a gentle name--time peace.
Modern Gods also includes an illustrated copy of Memory Palace, a DVD about the Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition, and a signed copy of Winston’s sketchbook. To unroll Winston’s scrolls and figure out the other two objects for yourself, ask for Presses A252wimo.

Posted for Emily Estelle '15

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Work in Progress

You can search for Dartmouth College photographs wherever you are and download them to your device of choice. On the Rauner Library home page you can search Photo Records, the work of the college photographers, though only those from this century are digital and ready to be downloaded. You can also search through the Photo Files. These photographs are arranged topically and date from the beginning of photography.

Searching the images is typically by topic or keyword. For example, search for "Dartmouth Hall" in Photo Files and up come 1665 images. Try using the four digit number in the first catalog entry from that initial search: "0663."  That limits the results to just the photographs in folder "Dartmouth Hall Opening." Here's an image of the crowd from that day.

Both Photo Records and Photo Files are works in progress. The Photo Records images are added to on a regular basis as we receive new images from the college photographer. The Photo Files images are also regularly being added to as we scan the more than 100,000 images represented in the collection. As of this post, approximately 34,000 images representing topics through "Lacrosse, Womens" are available.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Samuel Bradley Wiggin

"The South, for the next century, is doomed. I see no hope for it. The Devil has a mortgage on it and means to foreclose," proclaimed Samuel B. Wiggin in 1873, in a letter to his mother. Wiggin, a student at Dartmouth College, took a leave of absence from Dartmouth in November 1873, and traveled from Boston to Lexington, Mississippi to teach school. In a series of letters to his mother, Wiggin describes his journey, which took him to New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC.,  and Cincinnati. At nineteen, Wiggin is excited about the prospect of teaching and chooses not to teach in the "white school in the village" but rather in a "colored one" outside of town. After his arrival in Lexington, Wiggin first resides at the "Carpetbag Headquarters" above Jordan's Store, the unofficial meeting place of the Northerners in Lexington. He is heartily welcomed by the other "carpetbaggers" and in his first letter from Lexington to his mother he writes that he had a "pleasant" trip and that he will miss the cities of the North despite the fact that they are "dirty and smoky. "This [the North] is the country for a young man and not the South. Here a man must go up and down with the fluctuation of the cotton." He had also observed "the intense feeling of hatred with which the southern whites" regarded the carpetbaggers. "Within the past few days I have seen southern women walk twenty feet out into the street to avoid passing under the Stars and Stripes."

Mississippi had been the second state to secede from the Union and the last to return. It was also one of the states where 55 percent of the population was black. Wiggin was most likely recruited by the Freedman's Bureau (Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands), which had been created in 1865 to assist the freedmen and the defeated white population. The Bureau supplied clothing, food and fuel, built schools and tried to protect the civil rights of the freed slaves. Wiggin's letters are very descriptive. They are at times benevolent towards the black population, but at other times overtly racist:
A negro is and never can be the equal of the white. My scholars have not one third that power of the mind of white children a the same age. Nor do they have that desire to learn… They are like their parents thick-sculled, dull of comprehension and slow to learn.
In his letters, Wiggin expresses the ambivalence toward freed blacks typical of many Northerners of the time. He did not believe in slavery, but he had little faith in their ability to thrive in the United States: "I'm inclined to think that God made him to live in Africa, where no white man can live." His collection of letters offers disturbing and fascinating insights into Reconstruction era views on race.

Wiggin leaves Lexington in March 1874. By that time he had had enough of the South and yearned to be back home in Boston. He returned to Dartmouth and graduated with the class of 1875. After graduation, he studied law and practiced in New York City and, later, in San Francisco. In 1881, he married the author Kate Douglas. Wiggin died suddenly of a cerebral apoplexy in 1889, at the age of 35.

To read all the letters in this small collection ask for Ms-236.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Diary of a Young Translator

If you ever read The Iliad in high school, you might have Richmond Lattimore ‘26 to thank. This Dartmouth grad and Rhodes Scholar translated both of Homer’s classics into English, and his versions are widely regarded as some of the best around. He had an incredibly successful career in academia, but what’s more incredible is what he left behind. Rauner has a small collection of his personal journals and translations, and they are unbelievable.

One of the items we possess is his handwritten translations, line for line, of The Iliad chapters 15-22.386. The writing is perfect, with every line representing a line of the text and even this handwritten draft includes detailed line numbers along the margins. Moreover, the draft is hardly corrected; he occasionally crosses out or moves words around to change the meaning of a phrase, but other than that, he sticks to his notes. The pen color changes quite often, so it seems he would sit down and translate around 40 lines on a regular, consistent basis. It’s incredible to look at the control he has, both in the neatness and correctness of this draft. Every stroke is exact and unwavering.

The library also houses his journal from 1938a small moleskine-like notebook that contains a variety of notes. The book starts with Greek translations, with both the Greek and English texts printed painstakingly in pencil and corrected over in pen. He occasionally changes the direction in which he writes, so you have to keep turning the notebook over to read it. There are daily diary entries from his travels in Europe, collections of his own poetry, which are also neatly written by hand, as well as more work from his Iliad translation. Certain pages just have notes about stress patterns and messages to himself about translation.

Check out Lattimore’s papers by asking for MS-503. A short guide to the collection is available.

Posted for Maggie Baird '18.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


150 years ago this week, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.  Walt Whitman responded to the tragedy in a way that many Americans remember each year--though not necessarily on April 15th. Rather, when they catch their first scent of lilac in the spring air.

"When lilacs last in the door-yard bloom'd" was added to Whitman's Drum-Taps along with "O Captain! my Captain!" and other poems as a "sequel." The rest of the book had already been readied for press, so the additional poems were printed as pamphlet bound in the end of the book. Drum-Taps is a memorial to the Civil War, and the sequel an added memorial to Lincoln. The poem turned out to be one of Whitman's most popular. The opening stanzas evoke loss while celebrating the regeneration of spring.
When lilacs last in the door-yard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,
I mourn'd... and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring;
Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.
To read it in its original, ask for Val 816W59 P8.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Petitioning to Dance

Eleazar Wheelock’s vast collection in the Rauner Library contains everything from his early sermons to personal letters and bills, but also includes much of the College’s early history. The charter may be the most emblematic symbol of the College that is represented, but other documents also reveal the early character of the students.

A petition from November 1772 on behalf of the Sophomore and Freshmen classes was submitted to Wheelock by James Hutchinson, Samuel Stebbins, and John Ledyard (yes, that Ledyard ). After a lengthy opening paragraph to butter the president up, the boys requested to be allowed “to spend certain Leisure hours allotted us for the relaxation of our mind--in such sort as, stepping the Minuet & Learning To use the sword.”

This petition is particularly interesting in the context of Moving Dartmouth Forward. One of the more controversial policies of President Hanlon’s plan is the increase in academic rigor, with many students protesting that this institution is rigorous enough. These protests predate the speech, however, by nearly 250 years. Apparently it has been a part of Dartmouth’s character, since its founding, for students to find the college too demanding. Perhaps the students now don’t feel the need to duel and learn to dance, or even call Hanlon “our Patron and our Guide,” but their protests certainly are reminiscent of this petition.

Ask about the document at MS-1310, Folder 772640.

Posted for Maggie Baird '18