Friday, January 30, 2015

First Super Bowl Party

The Super Bowl gets a lot of hype, but the first game was a kind of experiment that had poor television ratings, and didn't even sell out. So, we checked to see if Dartmouth students paid any attention to the event that would one day come to dominate the American psyche. The day after the 1967 Super Bowl, there was no mention of it in The Dartmouth, but we dug deeper and found an article on January 4th summing up the college bowl season (mentioning up-and-coming quarterbacks Steve Spurrier, Brian Griese, and Kenny Stabler--who, it noted, would "make the bigtime one of these days) that mentioned "Super Sunday" and the game between the NFL champ and the upstart AFL winner. Ridiculing the superlative, the article noted that the game on "Super-Sunday" would "probably be shown in the Super-Spaulding Auditorium on the Super-screen before a super-standing room only crowd of super punters."  It's Dartmouth's first Super Bowl party.

But what is a Super Bowl party without food?  On January 13, 1967, the Friday before the game, The D used a recipe to fill some space. "Beer Richly Flavors Potted Chuck" called for 3-4 pounds of bone-in chuck pot roast, a package of onion soup mix, a can of tomato sauce and a cup of beer. Cook until meat is fork tender and serve with, you guessed it, a "freshly poured beer or ale."

Did Dartmouth men really make a beer and onion soup mix pot roast for the first Super Bowl? The archival record fails us there

To prep for your Super Bowl party, take a look at The D from January 1967.  (As a bonus, you'll also find pictures of Judy Garland shooting pool at Alpha Theta.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Text Compression

One of the first challenges that a student new to Rauner Library must grapple with is the desire to privilege exclusively a book's content without also considering its container as well. This is especially true of our medieval texts, many of which reveal numerous clues about their cultural context through their physical presence. Details such as the size of a manuscript book, the layout of its pages, the various ink colors, and even the style of handwriting can be used to create hypotheses about the book's intended purpose and audience.

A great example of this in our collections is a pairing of identical passages from St. Jerome's Latin translation of the Bible, also known as the Vulgate. Both are written on sheets of specially prepared animal skin called vellum or parchment. Both contain the writings of an Old Testament minor prophet, specifically Zachariah 4:2-5:2. Both use the same color of ink and even the same basic script, or handwriting style. However, there are some important differences that might make it difficult for someone who is experiencing them for the first time to determine that the two texts are, in fact, identical.

For one, the texts are very different in size. The first two images above are of the first text, which is over 700 pages in length, nearly five inches tall, and contains written text which is so small as to be nearly unreadable. The second text, at left, is over a foot tall (close to 14"). However, the larger page contains only a few verses of text, while the equivalent page in the smaller text compresses those same verses into a space barely an inch tall. Such physical discrepancies provide us, and the students, with the opportunity to ask important questions: Why is the first scribe's handwriting so small? Why are there two sizes of handwriting in the second manuscript? Why is there so much room in the margins of the second text, compared to the first? All of these questions draw attention away from the actual content of the manuscript text, which is unreadable anyways to many students, and instead encourage students to think about the larger world in which these books were made and once lived. We won't ruin it by giving you the answers, just like we wouldn't for our students, but we encourage you to come by Rauner, explore these two beautiful manuscripts side by side, and come up with your own conclusions. If you want to cheat a little bit, you can read an earlier blog post about the first one.

The first text can be requested by its call number, Manuscript Codex 003202.
The second text is Manuscript 002279.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Cuba by Boat!

The recent news about the possibility of increased travel between the United States and Cuba has coincided with a recent and relevant acquisition here at Rauner. A small booklet, titled Expedición y Desembarco del "Granma," documents the participants of an expeditionary journey that ultimately led to the implementation of travel restrictions between the two countries. In 1955, a small band of exiled revolutionaries including Fidel Castro regrouped in Mexico following a failed attack on a Cuban army facility in July of 1953. They named themselves the "26th of July Movement" in recognition of that first attempt at revolution and committed to returning to Cuba to finish what they had started.

Under cover of darkness on November 25, 1956, eighty-two of these guerrillas boarded a small yacht called the Granma and set out across the Gulf of Mexico towards Cuba. The trip was an unexpectedly long and dangerous one, given that the 12-person yacht was severely overloaded and nearly sank several times. Ten days later, the soldiers landed on the Playa Las Coloradas in eastern Cuba. Although they were almost immediately set upon and dispersed by army forces loyal to Batista, the survivors of the voyage would eventually regroup in the mountains and become the core leadership of a guerrilla army that would eventually participate in the overthrow of the Batista regime several years later, in 1959.

Rauner's small memento of that trip is a simple but fascinating document that both humanizes the participants in the journey and underscores the control over historical information exercised by those participants once they came to power in Cuba. Each page contains photographs of two of the revolutionaries, framed by explicit and violent drawings of guerrillas and loyalist soldiers engaged in both urban and rural warfare. The martyrs for The Movement appear first, followed immediately by Fidel and Raul Castro and other notables such as Che Guevara. Although there is no publication date on the booklet, the inclusion of Camilo Cienfuegos as the final martyr suggests that it was not produced until at least ten months after the Revolution had concluded.

Although this fascinating relic of Cuban Revolutionary history has not yet been cataloged, you can come to Rauner and ask to see it whenever we're open for business. While you're here, take a look at a complementary history of the Cuban Revolution that we've blogged about before. Ask for Rauner Rare Book F1781.5 .P535 1960 to see the earlier acquisition.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Philadelphia Census

We recently acquired a book that seems pretty boring when you first look at it, but gets more and more interesting as you delve into it. It is the somewhat poorly printed Census Directory for 1811 (Philadelphia: Jane Aitkin, 1811) rebound in a basic cloth binding.  A 19th-century Philadelphia census? Not so rare, huh...

But, this census has features that make it stand out. Appended to the main census is "A Separate Division being Allotted to Persons of Colour." Wow, that is something--the first published census of African Americans in the United States. It lists their jobs and home address.  Skimming through the section you get a good sense of the typical jobs offered to blacks in Philadelphia: labourer, barber, waiter, mariner, sweep master; laundress, shoemaker, cook, but also fiddler, teacher, cabinet maker, cheese monger, and Rector of St. Thomas' African Episcopal Church.

Then, there is the printer: Jane Aitken. Jane's father, Robert, printed the first English bible in the newly formed United States. When he died in 1802, Jane inherited the indebted printing house and carried on the family business until she was forced to sell off its assets in 1812. Things did not get better for her. In 1814 she was sent to debtor's prison.

To see it ask for Rare F158.18.P53 1811.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Beginning of the End

On January 16, 27 BC, the Roman Senate named Gauis Octavius, nephew of Julius Caesar, both Augustus and Princeps. The granting of these titles helped to cement Octavius's power in both the religious and political arenas of Rome and marked the beginning of the Roman Empire. But we don't want to talk about that. Instead, we'll move forward to 1776 and the publication of Gibbon's first volume of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (London: Printed for W. Strahan and T. Cadell in the Strand, 1776).

Gibbon's classic work attempted to chronicle the whole of the history of western civilization from 98 to 1590 AD, or roughly from the beginning of Trajan's imperium to late in Queen Elizabeth's reign. He discussed the decline of the Roman Empire in both the east and west and attributed the eventual fall to a gradual erosion of the will of the populace and a general malaise and antipathy toward current events. He argued that this led to the outsourcing of critical positions, most notably in the military, and to increased corruption in those same areas, all of which allowed for the eventual seizure of power by the German Odoacer in 476 - the first king of Italy.

Gibbon was fanatical about his source material and always preferred to use primary sources when possible, even when these sources contradicted history as promulgated by the Catholic Church. One notable example of this was Gibbon's claim that the number of Christians who suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Romans was much less than advertised. He cites writings by Origen and Dionysius of Alexandria, both of whom indicated that "the number of martyrs was very inconsiderable." Gibbon's further assertion that much of the decline was due to the rise of Christianity made for widespread criticism at the time.

To read Gibbon for yourself, ask for Val 874.42 G35ab.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Stumbled upon Maps

Wandering through various 1850’s documents held at Rauner, I came upon a small gathering of maps and drawings by students of the Brimmer School. According to Arthur W. Bayley's School and Schoolboys of Old Boston, "the Brimmer School for boys was established in 1843, to accommodate the surplus from the Adams, Winthrop, and Franklin Schools." The school was named to honor Martin Brimmer, mayor of Boston, 1843-1844.

The drawings date from an interesting period, particularly for the maps: 1859, just predating significant changes in the regions they depict, particularly the United States just prior to the Civil War. The map of Virginia includes territory that would break away from confederate Virginia in 1861 as the state of West Virginia, joining the Union in 1863, and becoming a pivotal border state during the Civil War.

The map of California does not show Nevada and Arizona, but rather the Utah and New Mexico territories bordering the state to the east.  In 1861, the Confederate Territory of Arizona was created when southern New Mexico seceded from the Union. The state was recognized by Jefferson Davis in 1863, the first official use of the name Arizona. Formerly administered as part of the Utah territory, Nevada was separated from the territory in 1861, perhaps because of a population boom when silver was discovered in 1859, and, in 1864, became the second new state added to the Union during the war.

M. J. Byrne’s map of South America includes territories called New Granada and Buenos Ayres which by the middle of the 1860’s, would appear on maps as Columbia and the Argentine Republic. Also noted is Bolivia’s seacoast region with the port of Cobija, lost to Chile in the War of the Pacific, and making Bolivia a land-locked nation.

I assume these maps were drawn using existing published maps of the time.  However, this brings us to the map of Massachusetts.  One wonders what cartographer would decide to include totally-unrelated-to-Massachusetts vignettes of a volcano and the Ganges River.

To see the maps, ask for Rauner Ms 859900.5.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Memories of Blake '08, Part II

At a point in 1904 or 1905, Francis Gilman Blake pasted the “Dartmouth Students’ Hand-Book 1904–1905” into his Memorabilia from College Days scrapbook. The Handbook, an object within a larger object, provides a glimpse into both Francis Blake’s life, and life at Dartmouth College between 1904 and 1908. Blake’s Handbook, an object physically “presented” to him at the beginning of his freshman year provides evidence for advice available to him at the College and the choices he made given such advice.

As a physical object, the “Dartmouth Students’ Hand-Book” is a small, attractive, dark green leather book with gold imprinted lettering and gold page lining. The Handbook’s size, physical appearance and contents suggest frequent interaction with its owner. The Handbook begins with a map of the Dartmouth campus attached to the inside cover. The presence of a foldout map suggests Dartmouth’s unfamiliarity to the reader therefore implying that the Handbooks intended readers are those unacquainted with the college—freshmen. The authors further clarify the primarily first year student audience in the “Greeting” section by saying “The Young Men’s Christian Association of Dartmouth College extends a cordial welcome to all the students of the College and especially to those who come here for the first time. To the latter, in particular, we present this hand-book containing useful information concerning Dartmouth College.”

The Handbook holds a lot of recruitment information for the YMCA at Dartmouth, showing how prevalent Christianity was at the turn of the century at Dartmouth, and it is interesting to compare with today to notice how Dartmouth has changed. By juxtaposing an intention to recruit members to the YMCA by overwhelming the Handbook with information about the YMCA with advice targeted towards first year students, this Handbook presents an image of Dartmouth in the 1900’s tinged with religion which ultimately fades from Francis Blake’s Memorabilia book, illustrating that the YMCA did not hold clout over all of campus. Not only does the Handbook itself overwhelm the reader with information about the YMCA, the College also appears to have been overwhelmed with Handbooks. In the “Student Publications” the authors write: “The Student’s Hand-Book, published annually by the Dartmouth Young Men’s Christian Association, is distributed free to all new students at the beginning of the College year.” To continue the trend, the authors provide explicit recruitment tactics. A direct example of the YMCA pursuing new members from new students occurs in the section “To New Students.” After discussing how new students should commence “Registration and Matriculation,” this section continues by addressing the cost of board and “Text-Books.” A seemingly unrelated sentence follows: “Join the College Y. M. C. A. during your first days in College.” Following a formulaic instruction manual about how to behave at matriculation, this statement emphasizes the YMCA’s underlying intention to coerce possible new members into joining. However, instead of utilizing the Handbook and much of its information, Blake pasted the Handbook into his Memorabilia book and appears to have disengaged from the YMCA.

As the author of his own Memorabilia book, compared to the authors of the Handbook, Blake selected the advice he found useful and appears to have avoided much of the YMCA’s advice. Placing this Handbook as an artifact of his own memory changed the nature of advice from one facet of campus, the YMCA, into his own narrative within his Memorabilia book, thus establishing the Handbook as only a small part of his memory of Dartmouth. Although the views of Young Christians at Dartmouth maintained significance for a time for Francis Blake, by deserting the collective views of the YMCA found in the Handbook, Francis Blake effectively established himself as a unique Dartmouth student maintaining only a memory of the influence of the YMCA’s advice. Francis Blake’s Memorabilia From College Days provides insight into how Dartmouth functioned years ago, and looking individually at objects within the book tells us a lot about similarities and differences between students then and now.

Posted for Margot Littlefield '16