Friday, February 16, 2018

Trout Fishing in America

We just picked up a beautiful copy of a 1960s classic that inspired a generation of hipsters to try to write novels: the first printing of Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America. The cover art declares itself as a hippy bible, though Brautigan was fairly cynical about the younger generation that adored his work.

A blurb on the back cover says it all:
Mr. Brautigan submitted a book to us in 1962 called TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA. I gather from the reports that it was not about trout fishing--The Viking Press.
Needless to say, our first edition is not published by Viking but by the Four Seasons Foundation in San Francisco. Here is the yet to be completed catalog record.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

To Each his Own

Diagram from Woodcok's patent showing arangement of desks on the diagonalHave you ever wondered whether there was a reason for the arrangement of student desks in school rooms? Well, in 1855, Virgil Woodcock of Swanzey, New Hampshire, did. A carpenter by profession, Woodcock argued that his “Diagonal Arrangement,” which included favoring single desks over double desks, had many benefits. Firstly, it would provide each student with “a separate desk and chair” thereby giving the student “full control of his books and writing.” In addition, he declared that this arrangement “releases every one from any interference with another and gives to all the privilege of inhaling the pure air, without taking it second handed from the one sitting near him.”

From his description it appears that the separation of one student from another was the key thinking behind his idea,
[N]o one scholar can see the face of another without one of the two being at right or left half face. When school is called to procession, all can rise at once and step into files in the aisles without coming in contact with one another.
Trying to sell this new concept to teachers, he pointed out to them that “scholars are more directly in view of the teacher, and can therefore be kept in better order, which greatly diminishes the labor of the teacher.”

Woodcock submitted his arrangement to the US Patent office and on March 6, 1855, was granted a patent “for the term of fourteen years.”

Woodcock’s pamphlet is part of a notebook containing signatures of school commissioners, teachers and other notables approving of the new arrangement, some of whom also provided Woodcock with affidavits to that effect. Both items are part of Codex 003426.

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Ledyardites

Ledyard Canoe Cabin, 1930Almost a century ago, eight Dartmouth students created a small organization in the hopes of finally taking advantage of their proximity to the Connecticut River. With a $5,000 donation from Reverend John E, Johnson ’66, they built a modest boathouse down by the bridge and bought a few canoes. They chose to name their club after Dartmouth legend, John Ledyard, the famed explorer who, in his first year as a Dartmouth student, decided the academic life wasn’t for him, felled a pine tree, carved out a canoe and set off down the Connecticut towards the sea. During the spring of 1921, a year after they created the club the founders set off in their canoes to retrace the paddle of their namesake.

Today, Ledyard Canoe Club is a thriving campus community, of which I feel extremely lucky to be a member. We have carried on in the tradition of our founders, setting our canoes in the Connecticut each year to paddle to the sea, and we have also expanded on that tradition. Throughout the history of the club, Ledyardites have paddled internationally, in such places as Japan, Korea, and Ecuador, as well as domestically down the Rio Grande, the Mississippi, to Lake Powell and in the Florida Everglades. Ledyardites have competed in World Championships and at the Olympics. To fully detail each exciting trip taken by a Ledyardite would take far more than a single blog post and through the course of my research I am continually awed by the depth of experience this club has had.

History of Canoe Club, page 1History of Canoe Club, page 2

More and more, throughout my research I have found myself being drawn into Ledyard’s history and connecting with the club and past Ledyardites in ways I did not expect. While Ledyard has changed, expanded and improved throughout the years, the elements I admire so much in the community it is today--our adventurous spirit, support for one another, and love of the club--I see reflected over and over, reaching straight back to our beginning. Longtime Ledyard advisor and whitewater coach, Jay Evans ’49, understands perfectly, saying in a letter sent 18 years ago, “Ledyard has a sense of place. It is a setting, a land and waterscape, a cast of mind perhaps, a legacy for sure, passed on from one generation to another.”

History of Canoe Club, page 3History of Canoe Club, page 4

This spring, we will be celebrating that legacy with the Ledyard Explorer’s Symposium. In April, just a week before our official anniversary, various alums and current students will present on our namesake, the club’s history and the future of the club. My research in Rauner this term is devoted to curating an exhibition which will complement the Symposium and make our history more accessible to the Dartmouth Community. I hope to introduce students to Ledyard’s rich history and lasting spirit of exploration.

"End of first Down River Trip 1922"
I highly doubt that our founders would be surprised by Ledyard’s enduring vibrancy. After all, our first president, Professor Richard Goddard ’20, became the club’s advisor for thirty years and stayed in communication with Ledyard throughout his life, like many Ledyard alums. I expect myself, and many of the current Ledyardites I know, will be carrying on that tradition, just as each year Ledyardites set our canoes in the Connecticut and head on down to the sea.

Posted for Jaime Eeg '18, recipient of a Rauner Student Research Fellowship for the 2018 Winter term. The Rauner Student Research Fellowships provide full funding for a Dartmouth student to conduct research with primary sources during an off-term on a topic of their choosing. For more information, visit the fellowship's website.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Roberts on Twain on Cooper (it's not pretty)

Heavily line edited pages from the bookWe just received Kenneth Roberts's copy of a book of essays by Mark Twain. We have Kenneth Roberts's library and a collection of his papers, so this is the perfect place for the book. The treat, though, is not the association, but what Roberts did to the book. Apparently he took offense at Mark Twain's essay "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses." It is not clear if Roberts approved of Cooper's style, but it is pretty obvious he had some troubles with Twain's prose. Roberts dissects Twain's essay in a kind of rabid attack on the text with pencil in hand. He offers line edits to nearly every sentence to clean up Twain's style and deletes whole swaths of the essay.

Two pages showiing text marked for deletion
The book came to us through the generosity of Joel Shimberg who bought it back in 1967 and has taken care of it for the past 50 years. We are so happy it has landed here, reunited with Roberts's library and open for research use. We haven't cataloged it yet, but we will put up a link to it when it is ready.

Friday, February 2, 2018

I Thereafter...

Photograph taken of an aging Daniel Webster
 "It is, Sir, as I have said, a small college. And yet there are those who love it!" These memorable words, as uttered by Daniel Webster during the Dartmouth College Case, have long since been enshrined in Dartmouth lore. However, while a great deal of academic literature has been written on the outcome of the case and its significance as a landmark Supreme Court Case, far less has been written about the proceedings of the case itself and the factors that created such an outcome. Throughout the course of my Rauner Fellowship, my main research focus is on the dynamics and relationships that existed between the various actors and political factors that exerted influence within the Dartmouth College Case. I hope that an analysis of this landmark case may provide greater insight into our modern conception of Constitutional legitimacy.

The research process has been simultaneously very exciting and very daunting. Having had very little prior experience working with special collections and archives, the work of approaching a project grounded in primary sources has posed several unique challenges. Working with handwritten letters and newspaper clippings is a far cry from the academic articles and government documents I am generally accustomed to. It is exhilarating to come across new pieces of information in these letters that may not even be found in existing academic articles written on this topic, but learning to decode the handwriting of these manuscripts has also given me a great appreciation for the difficulty of conducting such analysis.

During the past week, I came across a letter from Daniel Webster to Jeremiah Mason, a fellow lawyer, notifying him of their victory in the Dartmouth College Case. Embedded within this manuscript was what I suspected to be a crucial passage relating to the outcome of the case and Webster’s interpretation of their success. However, these important lines were clustered in four lines of indecipherable text at the end of the letter.

First and back page of Marsh letter
While the letter’s handwriting had started off neat and legible, it had quickly devolved over the course of its two pages. Although my advisor Mr. Carini had cautioned me early on about the difficulties of transcribing letters, I only came to finally appreciate and understand his words at this moment. After spending nearly an hour puzzling over these final lines, I passed the letter along to Mr. Carini and Mr. Satterfield in the hopes that their professional expertise would be able to shed light on these indecipherable lines. Together, we were able to piece together a few more words from the final lines of the letter, specifically the line, "Our Bench argument goes on. I thereafter…" However, we remained stumped as to what the last two lines of the letter were.

Second page and facing blank page of Marsh letterDespite having since revisited this letter repeatedly throughout the last few days, the final lines of Webster’s letter to Mason remain elusively out of reach. I've come to realize that this is just a natural part of the process of working with manuscript. I hope that as I continue to work with Webster’s letters, I will reach a point where I no longer have trouble with reading his handwriting. However, as a reader, if you think you've figured out what the last four lines of the letter say, please feel free to send us your thoughts!

To see the letter in person, visit Rauner Library and ask for Webster 819174.1. To see the photograph of an aging Daniel Webster, ask for Iconography 1649.

Posted for Weiling Huang '19, recipient of a Rauner Student Research Fellowship for the 2018 Winter term. The Rauner Student Research Fellowships provide full funding for a Dartmouth student to conduct research with primary sources during an off-term on a topic of their choosing. For more information, visit the fellowship's website.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Voices of Dissent: Dartmouth Feminists of the '90s

Cover ot Spare Rib showing three women haning a Dartmouth 1972 BannerIn the early ‘90s, two new publications emerged at Dartmouth. Both written by women, both claiming to be feminist works, the first was called Spare Rib, and the second Inner Bitch. Spare Rib arrived in newspaper form, with a slightly-bitten apple wedged inside the title. From the spring of 1992 to the winter of 1995, Spare Rib released at least 11 issues. The editors wrote, “Spare Rib is a manifestation of all that Dartmouth women have accomplished, the challenges that face us now, and the victories we hope to gain in the coming years.” Each issue contains interviews and editorials discussing the role of women in the College, as well as femininity in greater society. The writers at Spare Rib were passionate about feminism, and they presented their stance calmly and intellectually.

Open Inner Bitch. The zine’s mission statement speaks for itself:
Deep within you, beneath the strained smiles, the cordiality, the good grades, the conceding laughter, YOU HAVE AN INNER BITCH… Well, this whole rag is in honor of that Inner Bitch. We want to help her grow and become as strong and as bitchy as womanly possible. We want to give her the power to speak her mind. Because silence is a kind of death. It keeps a part of you dormant, like a leg that’s permanently fallen asleep. And it makes it easier for the next woman to get hurt, and the next and the next.
"Ideal Woman" graphic from Inner BitchThe writers at Inner Bitch demanded that women empower themselves. They wanted women to own their sexuality, ignore society’s wishes for straight hair and smooth legs, and defend themselves violently against men. In order to release one’s “inner bitch,” the zine prescribes everything from an “Inner Bitch Makeover” to “Top 10 Things to Do With a Severed Penis.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, given its aggressive hatred of men, Inner Bitch only ever circulated two issues.

Despite their obvious differences, Spare Rib and Inner Bitch engage in one dialogue. Both publications discuss the pressure of beauty standards, how media portrayal of women “perpetuates sexual inequality.” Both touch upon the issue of sexual assault, blaming “the boys of Webster Avenue” for making social spaces unsafe for women. And both Spare Rib and Inner Bitch encourage women to seek their own pleasure in bed, rather than merely satisfying their partners. The newspaper and zine explore many other topics, as well, each trying to guide women as they navigate Dartmouth’s intensely male culture.

Cover art for Inner Bitch showing a collaged image of a woman with a a gun
Twenty years after Dartmouth became coeducational, the community was still unsure where women belonged on campus. The fact that these separate publications discuss so many of the same issues indicates that Dartmouth women still consistently grappled with sexism and inequality, throughout the 90’s and even to the present day. In Spare Rib and Inner Bitch, we see two opposite ways of writing about adversity: Spare Rib falls somewhere near the middle of political and social discourse, and Inner Bitch is far, far to the left. It’s up to you to decide which is more inspiring––cogent journalism, or an angry, hilariously graphic zine. To see for yourself ask for DC Hist LH1.D3 S63 and LH1.D3 I54.

Posted for Sarah Alpert '21

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Digital Pioneer

Manuscript miniature showing the annunciation of the Virgin from a Book of HoursOur first digital project, Script to Pixels, was a collaboration between Joshua Shaw, Pat Cope and the Special Collections Librarian Philip Cronenwett, who passed away last weekend. Inspired by Phil's checklist of medieval manuscripts, the project took Dartmouth into the brave new world of digitization. Amazingly, it is still an incredibly useful site today. We have given it a few updates and reskinned it a few times, but the site you see is essentially the work that Phil, Joshua and Pat did nearly twenty years ago.

Phil joined the Library in 1979 as Manuscripts Curator and later became Special Collections Librarian. He left an impressive legacy: he was instrumental overseeing the cataloging of almost all of our medieval manuscripts; acquired many important modern manuscript collections; and was instrumental in maintaining the tremendous depth of our polar collections. He came to Dartmouth as a medievalist, but caught the polar bug and acquired many of the most important manuscript items in the Stefansson collection. It was during his tenure that Special Collections moved from its cramped quarters in the Treasure Room of Baker Library into the newly constructed Rauner Library in the Webster Hall.

Phil's work shaped special collections in so many ways that he is here with us every day. He will be deeply missed by those who knew him.