tullykk's blog

1st Annual Book Arts Day at the Art and Architecture Library Tuesday, April 29th

Do you love books? Have you ever wanted to learn how to make one?

Please join us for the first "Book Arts Day" in celebration of National Preservation Week at the Art & Architecture Library. This is a casual, drop-in event where you can learn a little bit about book arts, bookmaking, and preservation through hands-on activities.

Try your hand at bookbinding
Make a slipcase for your portfolio
Learn about book construction
Explore artist's books from the Walter Havighurst Special Collections
Find out more about how libraries preserve and repair books

When: Tuesday, April 29, 11am-1pm
Where: Wertz Art & Architecture Library (in Alumni Hall)

All are welcome! Stop in as long as you please. Yes, there will be refreshments.

New Special Collections Exhibit: For the Amusement of Youth

Whenever we can, we like to plan our exhibits to align with university-wide thematic programming.  Last year's Summer Reading Program selection, Jane McGonigal's Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World,  inspired many games and gaming-themed events across campus, including the Libraries' very successful International Games Day celebration last semester.  This year's gaming theme provided a perfect opportunity to highlight a subset of our Edgar W. and Faith King Collection of Juvenile Literature: historical games and books about recreational games.  Putting together an exhibit on any topic is an opportunity for me to delve deeper into the collections, to find "new" treasures, and to think about new ways that the material can be used in their current exhibit context and in the future for research and/or instruction.

In doing research about the history of board and table games in the West to provide context and provide interesting label content for the physical exhibit, I discovered that our collection contains some wonderful examples of how the mass production of games changed over the course of the nineteenth century in England and the United States.  From the simple, but elegant, hand-colored educational board games published by specialized printing shops in England at the end of the eighteenth century to the mass-produced and attractively packaged games produced by giants of the gaming industry, like Milton Bradley, McLoughlin Bros., and Parker Bros., we have some great representative pieces.  It's been great learning about the origins of modern board and card games and the "golden age" of game production.

Figuring out how to display the board and card games in the physical exhibit cases in an appealing way, while being conscious of preservation concerns, was also a  great takeaway from this exhibit for me and my colleague, our Preservation Librarian Ashley Jones.  Ashley wrote about this in last week's blog and it's an interesting look behind the scenes of the exhibit process.  We're also trying new things to make a visit to our exhibit gallery a more interactive experience, with the addition of an iPad kiosk equipped with a gaming app and coming soon: two playable "recreations" of board games circa 1800.

A brief description of the exhibit: Due to advances in manufacturing and printing technologies and an expanding middle class with more leisure time, the mass production of board, table and card games exploded in the 19th century. This exhibit traces the origins of today’s gaming industry, highlighting the products of the golden age of commercial game production in the United Kingdom, the United States, and beyond from the 1790s to the 1920s. Highlights of the exhibit include several hand-colored board games from England circa 1800, early games and puzzles produced by leading American game manufacturers, Milton Bradley, the McLoughlin Brothers, and the Parker Brothers, and an early French version of the popular magnetic fish pond game.

A reception, free and open to the public, will be held on March 12 from 4:00 – 6:00 PM and will include a talk on games and gaming by Sarah Fay Krom, Visiting Assistant Professor in the Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies, and a gallery talk by Special Collections Librarian and curator of the exhibit, Kimberly Tully.

Do stop by this semester and see some fascinating games from the past!

Kimberly Tully
Special Collections Librarian

 

 

The Gift of the Queen: A Special Collections Provenance Story


Many librarians, archivists, and academics who work with rare books and manuscripts may publicly critcize the portrayal of their professions in films like The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure, but secretly many dream about solving ancient mysteries or uncovering shocking secrets.  Though very few in the profession are lucky enough to discover something so earth-shattering that it can challenge centuries of belief or accepted fact, many of us who work with special collections materials solve little mysteries and uncover fascinating stories from the past on a regular basis. Every rare book on the shelf in a special collections or archives has the potential to lead its reader down a path of discovery, whether it's through the study of its text, its production, or its provenance.  Provenance in the book world is simply the record of a book's previous ownership.  Discovering who owned a book and documenting how it may have traveled over space and time to end up on the shelf of a rare book and special collections library can be one of the most rewarding, entertaining, and even sometimes thrilling aspects of the work we do. Just ask my colleague Masha Stepanova who wrote about an exciting find in our de Saint-Rat Collection last week in her blog post. The following is a brief story of how a shelf reading project in our department led to the re-discovery of another item in our collections with an impressive provenance...

As part of an ongoing shelf reading project, our student workers supervised by my colleague Jim Bricker, are barcoding our book collections and in order to apply a unique barcode to an item, the catalog record must be edited. Meghan Pratschler, one of our undergraduate student workers, discovered that one of the books on her project truck had a call number but not a catalog record, so the book ended up on my desk.  Nothing about this volume seemed noteworthy at first and the title Translations from the German in Prose and Verse, though descriptive, was not very catchy.  It looked to be a typical early nineteenth century volume of religious poetry, but when I went to find a catalog record for the title in OCLC/WorldCat, I noticed right away that only 30 copies were printed.  So it was definitely a limited edition and only 13 other libraries in North America and England reported owning a copy today.  The next thing I noticed was the unusual imprint, "Printed by E. Harding, Frogmore Lodge, Windsor 1812", so I thought perhaps this was an early private press title of some kind based in someone's residence.

The printed dedication page reads: "The gift of the Queen to her beloved daughters Charlotte Aug: Matilda. Augusta Sophia. Elizabeth. Mary. and Sophia. and with Her Majesty's permission dedicated to their Royal Highnesses by the translator Ellis Cornelia Knight." Realizing the connection between the English royal family and Windsor, the location in the imprint, I became even more curious about this slim volume.

Upon further searching, I found out more about the book and its origins.  The translator of the text, Ellis Cornelia Knight (1757-1837) shown above, was an accomplished writer who was a companion to both Queen Charlotte (1744-1818), wife of King George III (see portrait at top of post), and later her daughter, Princess Charlotte Augusta.


The book was produced at a private press overseen closely by Knight and Harding, a job printer in Windsor, especially for the Queen's daughters. The quality of the printing is not particularly fine, but the volume does include a pleasant engraving of Frogmore Lodge.  Frogmore Lodge, better known as Frogmore House (shown above), was a seventeenth century country estate near Windsor Castle. Queen Charlotte and her daughters used the estate as a country retreat, similar to Charlotte's contemporary Marie Antoinette's Estate at Versailles.  Just the fact that a truly "rare" book commissioned by Queen Charlotte, with a text translated by her companion from the original German, and printed at her country home ended up on the shelf at a university library in Oxford, Ohio made this a fun find. I shared what I had discovered about the volume with Meghan, the student worker who originally "found" the book on the shelf, and the rest of the staff in Special Collections.  And here's where the provenance comes in...

The only truly distinguishing characteristic of Miami's copy was the original mottled calf binding with "Ldy. R." stamped in gilt on the front cover.  Who was the mysterious Lady R?  Everyone in the department was curious.  Since none of Charlotte's daughters, for whom the book was printed as a gift, had names which began with the letter "R" (and they would be styled "Princess" or "H.R.H." most likely anyway), I immediately thought that Lady R. was probably a member of the royal household, such as a Lady of the Bedchamber, commonly referred to as a lady-in-waiting.  A quick search didn't provide any immediate leads and I set the book aside in my office to return to when I had a free moment.  However, Meghan, our student worker, beat me to it! She located an official listing of the Queen's Household which included an entry for Cornelia Jacoba Waldegrave, Lady Radstock, who was one of the Women of the Bedchamber from 1799-1818.  There were no other clear candidates for Lady R. in Queen Charlotte's inner circle and the date, 1812, also lined up.  While we cannot definitively know whether Cornelia is in fact our Lady R., it seems highly likely.

So who was Lady Radstock? Cornelia Jacoba van Lennep (1763-1839) was born in Turkey to a wealthy Dutch merchant family.  She married William Waldegrave, first Baron Radstock (1753-1825), a distinguished Admiral in the Royal Navy and a Governor of New Foundland, in 1785. Though the historical record seems to contain very little about Lady Radstock, beyond her family's genealogy, there is a portrait of her family in the collections of the Rijksmuseum, the Dutch national museum, in Amsterdam.  The painting by Antoine de Favray from about 1771 depicts Cornelia, at approximately eight years old, in a blue dress seated on the floor. It's pretty amazing to think that that little girl born faraway and long ago in the Ottoman Empire, who married a Canadian governor and naval hero and became a lady-in-waiting to the Queen of England, once held this book in her hands, a "gift of the Queen."  Unfortunately, there are no other marks of ownership on this presentation copy and it is virtually impossible to trace the book's provenance after it was in the possession of Lady Radstock.  Perhaps we can, instead, indulge ourselves and imagine that this book's journey to the shelves of Miami's Special Collections was just as fascinating as its origins.

In the meantime, we've already had an undergraduate student stop by our reading room to see this recently discovered treasure (she'd heard about it from John Bickers, another of our stellar student workers in Special Collections) and that same student is now exploring other books in our collection  as the basis for a possible capstone project!

Kimberly Tully
Special Collections Librarian

The John H. James Collection: A Nineteenth Century Life Uncovered

We're happy to announce that the processing of the John H. James Collection, one of our largest manuscript collections, has been completed and finding aids for the collection are now available online.  The finding aids were written by two of our graduate assistants, Adrienne Chudzinski and Stacy Haberstroh, both Miami history graduate students, and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude for their work processing the collection.

John Hough James (1800-1881) was a native of Urbana, Ohio and a graduate of Cincinnati College.  Referred to as the "Buckeye Titan" by his biographers, William E. and Ophia D. Smith, James was a lawyer, banker, railroad builder, scientific farmer, stockbreeder, legislator, politician, editor, lecturer and writer.  A friend of both Henry Clay and William Henry Harrison, James advised Whig leaders in the General Assembly of Ohio and in the United States Congress in his work as a lawyer and politician.  James was a pioneer in the development of western banking and transportation. He was treasurer and president of the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad, helping to build one of the earliest railroads in the country. He also pursued farming and stockbreeding. James founded Urbana University, the first Swedenborgian college in the world, giving the land for the campus and serving as a lifelong trustee for the institution.

John H. James married Abigail Bailey, the daughter of Revolutionary War printer Frances Bailey, in 1825 and the couple had four children.  Abigail and her children feature prominently in the collection and the family's letters to each other detail everyday domestic life for a close-knit, upper middle class family in nineteenth century Ohio.

Efforts until recently were largely focused on cataloging James's personal library, a rich collection of 17th-19th century European and American imprints. His personal papers, including diaries kept over sixty years of his life, extensive family correspondence, and business documents were available for research, but, until now, lacked comprehensive finding aids for interested scholars to use remotely before visiting the collection.  The collection opens up many avenues for historical inquiry on a variety of topics in the study of nineteenth century American life and culture, including political, economic, gender, social, and religious history.

In many ways, our newly available finding aids build on James's own meticulous organization of his diaries, correspondence, and business records.  He bound and labeled family correspondence and business correspondence annually and, it is safe to say, that he kept the originals or copies of almost every letter or document that crossed his desk, both at home and in his office.  When a house fire threatened his entire collection of personal records a year before his death, James dutifully described the incident in his diary entry dated May 12, 1880: “This diary business seems to be well nigh run out. Yesterday as I sat at my bedroom desk writing, I heard the crack of fire in my closet where I have kept all my diaries and my files of letters. A glass lamp was burning there on the top of my drawers and heating a little can of water hung above it. A fire happened, the lamp burst and spread its infernal fluid and the fierce flame ascended and spread. Nobody to blame. A loud call for my granddaughter Nelly, and for water, brought help.... My letter books burned in volumes (by the only hand I would trust). From 1814-1871 several were scorched and one or two more than scorched- and all my diaries from 1821- 1878 injured in the burning ... The worst of all, the first volume of letters from my son while in the army, written out by me from the letters when he first entered, so burned that I may not be able to replace it.”

Though much of the collection still bears the scars from that fateful fire, thousands of letters and documents, along with most of the diaries James kept between 1821 and 1881, are safe now here in Special Collections and I'd like to think that James himself would be very pleased with our stewardship of his collections.

Kimberly Tully
Special Collections Librarian

Cuala Press Titles in Special Collections

In recognition of National Poetry Month, we're highlighting a selection of our Cuala Press titles.  These elegant volumes, many of them volumes of poetry, are some of the finest examples of private press printing from the last century.


Emerging from both the international Arts and Crafts Movement at the turn of the century and the Celtic Revival in Ireland, the Cuala Press traces its earliest history to a joint venture between Elizabeth Corbet Yeats, sister of the poet William Butler Yeats, and Evelyn Gleeson, at the Dun Emer craft studio at Dundrum, Gleeson's home near Dublin.  The name of the press, "Emer's fort" in Irish Gaelic, is a reference to the wife of the Irish mythological hero, Cú Chulainn and the studio and the press were notable because of its all female staff of artists and printers.  In addition to the finely crafted books of the Dun Emer Press, run by Yeats, the studio also produced fine embroidery, tapestries and rugs, overseen by Gleeson. Elizabeth Yeats is shown here (far right), along with fellow workers, at the Dun Emer Press in 1903.  One of the images most associated with the press is the Dun Emer pressmark of 'Lady Emer and tree' designed by Elinor Monsell and first used in Katharine Tynan's Twenty One Poems (1907).

The goals of the enterprise were outlined in a prospectus written by Gleeson in 1903: "A wish to find work for Irish hands in the making of beautiful things was the beginning of Dun Emer. ... Everything as far as possible, is Irish: the paper of the books, the linen of the embroidery and the wool of the tapestry and carpets.  The designs are also of the spirit and tradition of the country. ... The first two books issued by the Dun Emer Press are now scattered over the world, and have given pleasure to our country people in America and at home and to strangers interested in the art of hand printing." The full text of the prospectus can be found in Liam Miller's history The Dun Emer Press, Later the Cuala Press published in 1973.

In 1908, Elizabeth Yeats and her sister Lily left Dun Emer Industries and set up their own studio, bringing the printing enterprise with them and renaming it the Cuala Press.  From 1908 to 1946, the Yeats sisters, with the literary guidance of their brother, printed some of the most important works of the Irish Literary Revival, including first editions of works by Lady Gregory, Louis MacNiece, John Millington Synge, and, of course, William Butler Yeats.


In his introduction to The Revival of Printing: a bibliographical catalogue of works issued by the chief modern English presses published in 1912, Robert Steele writes of the Press: "Miss Yeats, who in time past had come within the circle of William Morris's influence, has set herself the task of reviving fine printing in Ireland.  Her books...have the advantage of being in many cases important from their subject-matter, as well as desirable pieces of printing.  Technically her work, which in the early books showed many of the characteristics of amateurism, is now more satisfactory, though the press-work and the colour of the ink, especially of the red, are still open to improvement."  Regardless of Steele's judgement of the earlier products of the press, seventy-seven titles were published by the Dun Emer and Cuala Presses combined and they are highly prized by collectors and scholars today for their literary importance as well as their simple beauty.

Special Collections has one title printed at the Dun Emer Press and eight others printed at the Cuala Press, including the last book printed there in 1946, Elizabeth Rivers' Stranger in Aran.
The title page of the Rivers volume and one of the four hand-colored illustrations are shown here.

Three of our Cuala imprints are volumes of Yeats poetry that were once part of the working library of Irish-American poet and critic, Louise Bogan.  Bogan wrote an article in The Atlantic in 1938 and praised the quality of Yeats' verse: "...these evocations of Celtic beauty, heroism, and strangeness wakened, as more severe music could not then waken, Ireland's ears to the sound of its own voice speaking its own music."

Shown here is Bogan's copy of The Cat and the Moon by William Butler Yeats published by the Cuala Press in 1924.  The title page features the charging unicorn device designed by Robert Gregory and first used by the press in 1907. Gregory, was the son of Lady Gregory and the subject of Yeats' famous poem "An Irish Airman Forsees His Death".  This copy is inscribed to Bogan by her second husband, Raymond Holden.

The Dun Emer Press and Cuala Press titles highlighted here, along with the over 1,000 volumes of the working library of Louise Bogan, are available to researchers in the Walter Havighurst Special Collections.  They are truly amazing examples of the art of fine hand-press printing and our copies' association with an important American poet make them extra "special".

Kimberly Tully
Special Collections Librarian

 

Celebrating (and Researching) African American History


Miami University Libraries will be celebrating Black History Month with its 24th Annual African American Read-In on Wednesday, February 20th between 11 and 2 in the Howe Writing Center, located on the first floor of King Library.  Participants in the Read-In often read poetry and fictional prose, but many choose to read from non-fiction sources, such as memoirs, historical documents, and speeches.  It's a great opportunity to highlight the struggles and triumphs that define the African American experience.  Miami's Special Collections department houses many items, both print and manuscript, that help to illuminate African American history for us today.  Among the materials related to African American history in our collections are print and manuscript sources on slavery and the abolition movement, the Civil War, and the civil rights movement.

In addition to print slave narratives and anti-slavery pamphlets and periodicals, one of the highlights of our Miscellanea Collection is a letter, dated December 19, 1831, from Catharine Sedgwick to Lydia Maria Child in reply to Child's query of why Sedwick was not an abolitionist.  Both women were established novelists and Child would later publish An Appeal in Favor of Those Americans Called Africans (1833) and edit Harriet Ann Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), two landmark abolitionist works.  Catharine Sedgwick had been raised by Elizabeth Freeman, a former slave who in a famous legal case was able to gain her freedom through the Massachusetts courts in 1781.

Though our history collections are generally stronger for the nineteenth century and earlier, some of our most interesting twentieth century materials are related to African Americans' struggle for civil rights.  Among these resources are several pamphlets published by the Communist Party promoting racial equality, promotional literature for the Urban League of New York, and publications of other important civil rights organizations like the Southern Regional Council and the NAACP.  One of my favorites is the NAACP's 1963 publication of the speeches of the leaders of that year's March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, including Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

This semester students in Dr. Nishani Frazier's History 206, the research and methods class, are studying African American history and the class visited Special Collections to view many of the materials described above.  It's always a pleasure to talk to students about the resources available to them in Special Collections and even more rewarding when the students return to use the collection for their research.

Kimberly Tully
Special Collections Librarian

24th Annual African American Read-In

Miami University Libraries and the Howe Center for Writing Excellence celebrate National Black History Month with the 24th Annual African American Read-In on Wednesday, February 20th. The Read-In encourages the celebration of all aspects of the African American experience, including the reading of selections from all literary genres, the display of artistic works, music and dance performances, and more! Come join us & share some of your own work or anything that recognizes the talent, contribution, or experience of African Americans. Refreshments will be provided so please pass the word & join us Wednesday, February 20th between 11am & 2pm, first floor King Library, Howe Writing Center for a multi-faceted Read-In!

For more information, registration, and if you’d like some ideas on things to read, please visit: http://libguides.lib.muohio.edu/diversity

Registration is not necessary, but highly encouraged. If you are choosing to share something other than a reading, please let us know your A/V needs when you register. And as always, we welcome those who choose to come, listen, and enjoy.

Please register here: http://tinyurl.com/MUAfAmerRead

Thanksgiving Postcards in Special Collections


Though glittering red and green decorations and lights are already on display in the stores and holiday music is filling up the airwaves (and our iPods), the Christmas season is still weeks away.  It seems like between Halloween and the winter holiday season, Thanksgiving is only a brief stop on our festive march to New Year's Eve.  There are hardly any songs about the holiday and, let's face it, the turkey isn't very marketable; it's not as scary as a jack-o-lantern or as jolly as Santa Claus and his elves.


Perhaps Thanksgiving is often an afterthought because it's always been difficult to commercialize and that's kind of what Americans do best!  There are, of course, wonderful shared national traditions surrounding Thanksgiving: football, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the headaches of holiday travel, and the sleep-inducing feasting with family and friends.  Hallmark still makes Thanksgiving greeting cards and I'm sure there'll be some Thanksgiving images and greetings circulating in social media this week.


The imagery of Thanksgiving has always been about giving thanks for abundance: the abundance of a fruitful harvest and the abundance of joy and blessings as family gather together for Thanksgiving meals.  I thought that this week would be a nice time to highlight some early traditional images of the holiday from our postcard collections.


Postcard collecting is still a popular pastime among hobbyists and you'll see bins of postcards at many an antique shop.  The picture postcard reached the zenith of its popularity in the period between the turn of the century and the first World War.  Thanks to advances in color printing processes and in domestic and international mail services, it was an inexpensive and aesthetically pleasing form of communication for the general public.


There are several collections of postcards in the Walter Havighurst Special Collections, including the Charles Shields Postcard and Trade Card Collections, the Clyde N. Bowden Postcard Collection, and the Charles Murphy Collection featuring postcards on public conveyances and railroads from around the world.  Among the subjects depicted in the estimated 500,000 postcards in these combined collections are geographic locations and architectural landmarks throughout the US and the world and the traditional greeting card images of people, animals, flowers, and holiday and seasonal images.  We've digitized our trade card collection and initial plans have been made to create a digital collection of our postcards, as well.


In looking through the hundreds of Thanksgiving themed postcards, I found many expected depictions of turkeys and cornucopias, pilgrims and Native Americans, most dated between 1900 and 1920.  What I was surprised by were the many comical depictions of children leading turkeys to slaughter!  There were also many patriotic images of flags and turkeys, which made me think of Benjamin Franklin's famous suggestion to his daughter in a letter dated 1784 that the turkey was a "more respectable Bird" than the bald eagle, in his opinion "a Bird of bad moral Character".

One of my personal favorites is this early depiction of the association between football and the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Kimberly Tully
Special Collections Librarian

Happy Diwali!

Diwali, the Hindu “festival of lights”, is celebrated this week around the world, specifically in many nations in South Asia and in South Asian communities around the globe. Also known as Deepavali, this five day festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil, which is symbolized by the lighting of clay lamps which are placed outside one’s home. The lamps are often combined with decorative folk art designs, called Rangoli, drawn on floors and courtyards with colored rice, sand, and other traditional materials. Originally a harvest festival, the blessings of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, are also sought by the lighting of the Diwali lamps. Celebrations, which have regional variations, include family gatherings, fireworks, bonfires, and the sharing of sweets. In celebration of Diwali and the upcoming holiday season, the Libraries’ Diversity Cluster encourages you to learn more about this holiday and other holidays and festivals throughout the world.

Here are some sources to get you started:

The book of Hindu festivals and ceremonies / Om Lata Bahadur King Library (2nd floor) | BL1239.72 .B353 1994

The story of Divaali / retold by Jatinder Verma ; illustrated by Nilesh Mistry King Library, Ground Floor, IMC, Juv | BL1139.25 .V47 2002

Religious traditions in modern South Asia / Jacqueline Suthren Hirst and John Zavos King Library (2nd floor) | BL1055 .S88 2011

Invoking Lakshmi : the goddess of wealth in song and ceremony / Constantina Rhodes King Library (2nd floor) | BL1225.L32 R46 2010

Holiday symbols and customs : a guide / edited by Helene Henderson King Reference | GT3930 .T48 2009 | LIB USE ONLY

Encyclopedia of holidays and celebrations : a country-by-country guide / Matthew Dennis, editor King Reference | GT3930 .E53 2006 v.1-3 | LIB USE ONLY

Also, you might want to check out the Indian Students Association’s annual Diwali show, My Big Fat Indian Wedding, this Friday and Saturday. It's always a great production! For more details, click here.

Human Rights and Social Justice Read-In on Thursday!

The annual Human Rights and Social Justice program at Miami University, “A Call to Action,” is a series of events Nov. 13-15 that help raise awareness about economic, social and cultural human rights violations locally and around the world. A special presentation on human trafficking and victim identification is organized by the Oxford League of Women Voters. For more information, please visit the facebook page for the program.

Consider reading or listening to readings on the following topics at the Human Rights and Social Justice Read-In:

2-4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, 212 MacMillan Hall
2 p.m.: “ A Call to Action”: Individual and collective readings;
3 p.m.: “Going to War and Coming Home:” Summer reading program, “Continuing the Dialogue” led by Jennifer Kinney and Nancy Arthur (members of the 2012 Summer Reading Program committee).

The second hour will include a reading from letters by Miami students, who were soldiers during our nation's historical conflicts, housed in the Walter Havighurst Special Collections in King Library.