Tuesday, December 12, 2017

On Crime and Punishment

Page from Register listing Amelia BuellAmelia Buell was born on May 25, 1856, in Lisbon, New Hampshire. She was the daughter of George Hansen Buell and Cordelia Thayer. On November 25, 1865, she was committed to the New Hampshire House of Reformation in Manchester, NH. The charge – fornication. Amelia was nine years old.

Cover page to RegisterAmelia is only one of the names listed in the "Register of Inmates of the House of Reformation Compiled to Jan. 1868." Ranging in age from eight to sixteen, many of the juveniles were incarcerated for such infractions as truancy, lewdness, vagrancy and stubbornness. The latter infraction dated back to a law known as the "Stubborn Child Law" which was first enacted in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1641.  Even though the law was no longer prosecuted to its fullest extent (which in the 17th century often led to the child's death), the fact that it was still used by the 19th century speaks volumes about the status of children, who until the late 19th century, were still prosecuted as adults. Reform schools, like the one in Manchester, were established to provide a way to separate juvenile offenders and their "crimes" from those of adults. There was strict discipline and education, but also institutional abuse.

The Manchester institution was built in 1857, on land that was once the home of Gen. John Stark, and opened in 1858 as "a house of reformation for juvenile and female offenders against the law." Most of the inmates were boys. The few girls that were incarcerated there were held on charges of prostitution.

Two page spread of Register
The register also contains more serious offenses such as stealing, assault, barn burning and breaking and entering with the offenders coming from all over the state of New Hampshire. Punishment ranged from one to seven years. Amelia was sentenced to six years. She was  released on December 11, 1869.

To take a look at the register please ask for Codex 003352 (there isn't a catalog record for this quite yet, but we will link to it when it is ready).

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Strangest Army Post...

Signed letter from Ted Geisel to President HopkinsYesterday was Pearl Harbor Day and, while going through a box of President Ernest Hopkins's presidential papers, we stumbled quite by chance on a curious artifact of World War II--a 1943 letter from Ted Geisel '25 (aka Dr. Seuss), to Hopkins thanking him for the letter of recommendation that got him into the armed forces. As Geisel put it, it was so good it got him into the Army and the Navy!

Geisel explains that he is "now out on what is probably the strangest army post in the country... the old Fox Studio, where under Colonel Frank Capra I am assisting in the writing of 'Orientation Films.'" As an indication of how much Geisel had to rough it in the Army, the letter is on the stationery of the Castle Argyle apartments in Hollywood.

In typical Hopkins fashion, the president replied with a two-page, single-spaced letter advising Geisel on important themes his films could explore.

To see the letters, ask for DP-11, Box 7043, Folder 11. For more, we have another example of Geisel's Army work: This is Ann.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Farmland Security

Cover of "Secure A Home in New Hampshire Where Comfort, Health, and Prosperity Abound."
 New Hampshire was never a friendly place for farmers, who had to scratch out a living in the state's rocky soil. Even nearby Vermont's soil was leaps and bounds above the Granite State's in terms of fertility and lack of physical obstructions. During the nineteenth century, with the rise of textile mills along the New England rivers and the settlement of the west, New Hampshire saw a marked increase in the abandonment of traditional farms. Entire families picked up and moved to the cities and places like Illinois and Ohio, where the land was plentiful and rich; we've blogged before about the publication of pamphlets meant to entice farmers to flee the barren ground of the northeast for the lush fields of Iowa.

First page of the farm descriptions in the government pamphletBy the late-19th century, the rate of abandonment had become so great that the New Hampshire state legislature passed an act in 1889 that required the office of the Commissioner of Agriculture and Immigration to investigate the state of these farms. They then published a report of their investigation, complete with a color map, entitled Secure a Home in New Hampshire, Where Comfort, Health, and Prosperity Abound. As one can guess, the book was intended "to call public attention to the desirable farms which for various reasons have become without occupants," so that the farms could be repopulated and hopefully stimulate the state economy. The overall tone of the publication can best be described as strained optimism, wherein the authors try to portray the best picture possible of the state's agricultural situation while acknowledging the factors that caused mass migration in the first place. The pamphlet claims that new farming innovations with regard to crops and livestock, among them fruit and dairy, have made farms in New Hampshire more profitable than ever. There is also an emphasis on an expanding infrastructure made possible by the railroads as well as an uptick in summer tourism that brings money into the state during the warm seasons.

Still, despite this cheery prognosis, the fact remains that there were hundreds of abandoned properties in New Hampshire. The book's introduction attempts to address the elephant in the room directly:
A printed image of a farm landscape entitled "Intervale at Conway"
"Doubtless the question arises, why are these farms vacated when circumstances seem so favorable to their occupancy?" Many possible reasons are provided, all of which provide alternatives to the inferiority of the local soil: extravagant habits of the owner; the attraction of the society of city life; even that the previous owner has become so wealthy that they have invested in a larger, even more successful business elsewhere. Regardless of how fantastical the explanations may be, or how desirable the properties are presented, it's still a hard sell; thumbing through hundreds of descriptions of deserted farms doesn't leave one with an impression of prosperity but, rather, desperation.

To see whose farm was up for sale in your town or county, come to Rauner and ask to see NH Imprints M35 1890.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Getting into the Spirit

Black and white photo of college students walking to class on the green in the snow with the christmas tree in the backgroundThis evening, the giant Christmas tree on the Green will be lighted to start the holiday season here in Hanover. It is a really festive evening: there are carols, cookies and hot chocolate, and horse drawn wagons full of cute kids. Still, there is something missing--college students. Now that Fall term ends just before Thanksgiving, the undergraduate have almost all gone home and we don't get to see scenes like the one pictured here from 1940--students tromping to class in the snow with the tree towering over them on the Green.

Here in Rauner, there will be plenty of good cheer in December. Next week we will put up a small display featuring Christmas lore created by two Dartmouth alumni: Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Robert May's Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Both stories--one a bit saccharine, the other more acerbic--are sure to put you in the spirit the of the season.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Cover art from A. Greely's Three Years in the Arctic showing a man struggling in a storm with a compass in the background pointed north.Feeling stuffed after your Thanksgiving dinner? Our latest digitized collection, David Brainard's Diary, may make you appreciate that overly-full feeling. In 1881, Lieutenant Adolphus Greely led an expedition into the Arctic as part of the First International Polar Year. After a period of relative comfort and success, bad luck hit the expedition and they were forced to retreat southward to Ellesmere Island to await rescue. From March 1st to June 21st, 1884, young Sargeant David Brainard kept a meticulous diary. At the start, there were 25 living crew members; in the end, only six survived--most died from starvation (one was shot for stealing food from the others). At least some who survived resorted to "the last dread alternative," a euphemism for cannibalism.

Page 221 of Brainard's diary
Brainard's diary, now housed here in Special Collections, elides the incidents of cannibalism, but he carefully documents the daily life and struggles of the crew as they slowly perished. Independent scholar Laura Waterman transcribed Brainard's diary and she has allowed us to put up her transcriptions side-by-side with the scanned page images. Laura also provided an essay that introduces Brainard's story and the diary. The diary is a harrowing read: Brainard had a talent for writing, and the diary puts you on Ellesmere Island with him. It will make this winter's weather seem like nothing, and it may inspire you to make good use of those holiday leftovers.

To see the actual diary, ask for Stef MSS-189.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

For What We Are About to Receive

First page of the Oct. 29 letter by Sylvester to his sisters
The fall term is almost done, except for perhaps a few final projects, and we are looking forward to the holiday season that will begin on Thursday. To get us in a festive mood for Thanksgiving, we looked through our various collections of Dartmouth student letters that are in the archives to see if we could find something suitable for the occasion. As expected, the archives did not disappoint. Among the numerous letters written to and by students, we found a great little note from Charles B. Sylvester, class of 1905, to his sisters at the family home near Haverhill, Massachusetts, north of Boston near the New Hampshire state line.

Second page of the Oct. 29 letter by Sylvester to his sistersIn the letter, written on October 29th, 1901, during his first semester in Hanover, Sylvester is quick to encourage his sisters to send him "a box for Thanksgiving, as good a one as you can, and we will have a spread." Although he won't be able to be
home for the holiday, he reminds them that he'll see them again a few weeks after Thanksgiving is over. The letter continues by relating various stories of college life, among them stealing a number of apples from an apple orchard and the prospect of sharing a large box of fudge with a friend. He concludes by asking his family to send him photographs and any local news.

Sylvester went on to be a well-liked teacher of mathematics and Latin and then principal at various high schools in New England. In his later life, he experienced multiple hardships, including the contraction of a serious case of polio in 1916 that left
Third and final page of the Oct. 29 letter by Sylvester to his sisters
him partially crippled for the rest of his life. In 1933, his wife of only two years, Eleanor Stonestreet, died while giving birth to their daughter, Nancy, and Sylvester went on to raise her as a single parent while continuing his work. As is so often the case with stories of our alumni, learning about their lives and their experiences never fails to inculcate a sense of admiration for their perseverance and a feeling of gratitude, or thankfulness (if you will), for the many ways in which we have been blessed.

To read through Sylvester's letters from his freshman year through his junior year, come to Rauner and ask for the Charles B. Sylvester Student Letters (MS-853).

Friday, November 17, 2017

Seeing Saint Petersburg

Frontispiece for the Spectacles book, showing a large pair of eyeglasses within which various daily scenes are portrayed.
This week, we had a visit from a book group hosted by Norwich Public Library that was reading and discussing Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. We pulled out all the stops for them, including a number of atlases from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries; an Everyman's Library copy of the novel that once belonged to the English poet Rupert Brooke; and several travel narratives about St. Petersburg in the 1860s.

One of these narratives in particular drew our interest: Spectacles for Young Eyes: St. Petersburg, by Sarah West Lander. The book describes the Russian city through the eyes of the Hamiltons, an American family whose father "has been sent as engineer to this strange country, where there were no railroads until recently, and the children came with him." The children promise to tell the reader all that they saw, if he or she will only listen. Alongside stories of brutal winters and frozen streets are a number of interesting images depicting daily Russian life in the beautiful port city.

A Russian village scene including a horse-drawn sleigh, a man drawing water from a well, and a group of men dressed warmly and gathered in a circle near several log houses.This volume is one of a series of juvenile travel books by Sarah West Lander that totaled eight volumes in all and were centered on important cities around the globe: Boston (which is where our book was printed), St. Petersburg, Pekin (sic), Moscow, Zurich, Berlin, Rome, and New York. Not much is known about Lander other than she was born in Salem, Massachusetts. The series was very popular at the time and saw publication by a number of successive companies.

If you're willing to brave the recently chilly days here in Hanover, come over to Rauner and read more about what life in a Russian city was like over a hundred and fifty years ago. Ask for 1926 Coll L35. We also have the Boston, Moscow, Zurich, and Peking volumes, if you'd like to settle down for a long spell in our reading room. Just ask for them at the desk.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Cover 1895 deluxe edition of TrilbyWhen George du Maurier's Trilby came out in 1895, it took England and the United States by storm. "Trilbymania" struck, and the sensational novel introduced the world to the bohemian lifestyle--illustrated by du Maurier's drawings.

Because the novel was first serialized, the publishers knew they had a hit on their hands. To cash in, they issued the regular trade edition plus an extra deluxe copy, numbered and signed by the author. We have copies of both, but our deluxe edition is even more special--it has a contemporary binding in sculpted leather by Cedric Chivers. The depiction of the character of Svengali as a spider descending on the unsuspecting Trilby is almost as creepy as the novel by du Maurier's daughter that would come out 43 years later.

Cover to 1895 Trilby
To take a look ask for Sine D87Tril.

Friday, November 10, 2017

East of the Sun and West of the Moon

East of the Sun, West of the Moon, Illustration "Tell me the way" Even though many people today see fairy tales as nursery stories, folklore has a surprising and somewhat uncanny way of proving itself relevant and pervasive in human society. The titular story of this collection, “East of the Sun and West of the Moon,” is a Scandinavian fairy tale about a young girl who agrees to live in an enchanted castle with a talking white bear so that her poor family may become rich. Every night, a mysterious stranger comes and sleeps on the other side of the young woman’s bed, though she never sees who it is. Eventually, the young woman visits her family, and is persuaded to smuggle a candle back with her, so she can catch a glimpse of the person who shares her bed each night. When she does, she discovers that he is an incredibly handsome prince, but accidentally drips candle wax on him and wakes him. He laments that if she had held only out a year, he would have been free from the spell that trapped him as a white bear, but now he is instead doomed to be taken to live with his wicked stepmother, who is, incidentally, a troll. He can only tell the young woman that his troll stepmother is taking him to a place east of the sun, and west of the moon, before he and the enchanted castle are gone. Following this impossible clue, our young heroine undergoes a lengthy journey and multiple trials only to find him about to be married to the troll princess. Through some clever trickery, the young woman manages to meet alone with the prince, and together they devise some more clever trickery involving competitive laundry to free the prince from the trolls’ clutches, and allow him to marry our heroine. All the trolls are so angry that they explode, and everyone else lives happily ever after.

East of the Sun, West of the Moon, Illustration - riding the bear
But wait! This sounds oddly familiar…at first you were probably thinking “Beauty and the Beast.” Towards the end, though, you may have shifted more towards Greek mythology, and thought “Cupid and Psyche.” Indeed, “East of the Sun and West of the Moon” is remarkably like both stories, even though all three come from distinct cultures and periods of history. Finding common elements in fairy tales, or even almost identical fairy tales, in wildly distinct parts of the world is actually pretty common; some form of the story “Cinderella” has appeared in hundreds of variations around the world! Whether the universality of some of these stories hints at international trading of folklore and mythology, allowing these tales to travel globally as different societies intersect, or of some deeper insight these stories provide into the human experience that prompts them to arise out of cultures on different sides of the world, fairy tales seem to offer a depth of possibility worth exploring long after we leave the nursery.

East of the Sun, West of the Moon, Illustration - the north wind
Kay Nielsen’s stunningly illustrated East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North, includes both this tale and other Scandinavian folk stories (many featuring trolls). Nielsen’s artwork lends an even more haunting feel to the fairy tales, evoking the stark yet unearthly beauty of the Scandinavian landscape. Whether these somewhat obscure northern stories resonate with the folklore you are familiar with or not, you may find something unexpectedly fun, fascinating, or profound within these pages. At the very least, you’ll be able to enjoy Nielsen’s striking illustrations! To see the book, come in and ask for Rauner Illus N554a.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Picturing David

manuscript illuminated page showing Kin David watching Bathsheba batheA powerful man, a king in this case, lustfully looks down on a woman in her bath--a woman whom he will sexually molest. A powerful man, again a king, handing a letter to a man who will not be complicit in his sin--a letter that instructs the man's commanding officer to abandon him in the heat of battle and guarantee his death. A powerful man, penitent for his sins, composing psalms in praise of the lord, passages that are among the most beautiful in the Bible. This is, of course, the story of David and Bathsheba. What is fascinating here is the three very different ways David and his victims are depicted in these three 15th-century Books of Hours. But what is so troubling is how utterly poignant and timely all three are.

Woodcut of King David handing a letter to UriahDavid was the hero of his nation and adored by his subjects. This is Michaelanglo's paragon of masculinity, larger than life, slayer of giants, father of Solomon, founder of the House of David and progenitor of Jesus. Yet, as so many have done through history, he took advantage of his power to abuse a woman, then killed a man to cover it up before being confronted by the prophet Nathan. He probably would have gotten away with it if that single courageous soul hadn't stood up to him.

manuscript illumination of King David kneeling in prayerThese images constitute a base for constructing a usable past. They give us the opportunity to look back and find moments that we can learn from and build upon for productive use today. If we can trace an historical narrative, we can help to justify and argue for the social changes we want to affect. We can use the past to create the future we desire. This is the active, forward thinking form of the dire warning, “whoever forgets the past is doomed to repeat it.” Instead, we argue that "whoever looks to the past can create the future he or she wants." In this case, don't be complicit, instead take action and change the culture.

To see it all for yourself, ask for  Codex MS 001598 (lustful David); Incunabula 154 (vengeful David); and Codex MS 003141 (penitent David).

Friday, November 3, 2017

"As Bad as Any in Spain"

an engraving of the Court of the Lions in the Alhambra in Granada.
In 1775, while the British colonists in America were in the midst of struggling to secure independence from Great Britain, English travel writer Henry Swinburne went on a Grand Tour of Spain with an English nobleman, Sir Thomas Gascoigne. Swinburne was from a Catholic family from Bristol and was very well connected on the Continent, to the extent that the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II stood as godfather for one of their ten children. Gascoigne was a Catholic, a calculating politician (so much so that he later renounced his religion in service of his political ambitions), and a strong supporter of the American Revolution. He was also the sponsor for the two men's trip through Spain, which Swinburne had intended from the beginning to turn into a travel book.

Swinburne's eventual publication, Travels Through Spain in the Years 1775 and 1776, proved extremely popular at home, doubtless owing in part to the numerous large and beautiful engravings of
The first page of Swinburne's itinerary that lists town, inn, and hours needed to reach each location.
Moorish and ancient architecture that are interspersed throughout the sizable volume. However, despite these stunning images of Spain, our favorite portion of the book occurs before the narrative of the men's adventures even gets started. Between the preface and the first chapter, Swinburne includes an itinerary of the entire journey, listing the name of the town where they stayed, the inn or hostel that they stayed at, and the number of hours it took to reach each destination. The listing of inns is particularly enjoyable to read, because Swinburne spares no feelings in his blunt assessment of the quality of each boarding location. In Venta del Platero, along the Catalonian coast south of Barcelona, Swinburne stays at an inn that he judges to be "as bad as any in Spain." Another inn, in Venta del Golpe, is rated as "wretched." Although he doesn't hold back in his negative ratings, Swinburne does also give positive assessments as well: he decides that the Aquila d'Oro in Carthagena is "excellent," and of the Cavallo Blanco in Cadiz, he only cryptically states that it is "Italian," leaving the reader to infer his intended meaning.

To explore Spain through the eyes of Henry Swinburne, come to Rauner and ask to see Rare DP34 .S8 1779.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Trick or Treat

Drawing of two people dragging a body from a grave in the dark of nightIt's no secret that medical schools in the nineteenth century often had to resort to grave robbing to supply their anatomy labs. Dartmouth was no different and the archives are filled with little tidbits of evidence as well as the occasional smoking gun like this letter from 1810. While it was generally hushed up and kept under covers, it was still fairly common knowledge among the students and even fodder for jokes. Case in point: this image from the 1884 Dartmouth yearbook section on the medical school.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Morning of...

Diary entry for January 1, 1865When Elbridge West Merrill returned to Dartmouth College on January 1, 1865, he was looking forward to a good year. He acknowledged that “the past year was the most marked of my life, the most varying between Good and Ill –fortune, pleasure and pain.” However, things were looking up. He had “formed many pleasant acquaintances at College” and he hoped “some enduring friendships.” His motto for the upcoming year was “Look not mournfully upon the Past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the Present. It is Thine.”

Diary entry for April 13, 1865, quoted at length
And then came the morning of April 13, 1865, an entry bordered in black. “This morning the terrible news spread across the wires o’er our happy and even jubilant land that last evening the President had been shot down by the dastardly hand of an assassin in Ford’s Theater at Washington.” Merrill was stunned, like most of the country. “How can I describe the feelings, the emotions of that day…Never shall I forget that crowd of students that stood at the posts discussing the sad news.” Lincoln, he wrote, was an “honest,” “kind hearted,” “God-serving,” honorable and upright statesman.” Some had, however, been concerned for Lincoln’s safety when he traveled but everyone believed him to be safe in Washington. Merrill also worried that future “Northern statesman and generals” could be
thus pursued and struck down by Southern fanatics many of whom frenzied by their utter overthrow and excited to madness by the spirit of malignant revenge and hatred would be only too eager to gain an eternal name of infamy and gratify their hell-born desires by emulating the example of the execrable Booth.
Merrill continues for several more pages to put his thoughts, feelings and assessment of the situation down before returning to describing in detail his life at Dartmouth College. Unfortunately, Merrill’s life after Dartmouth was a series of mishaps and financial disappointment and he died at the age of fifty-three.

To read his diary ask for Codex 003345. You can learn more about his life after Dartmouth by asking for his Alumni file.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

More Birch Bark

Concert playbill printed on dark birch barkWhat is it about these birch bark items in our collections that keeps us blogging them? First, a student blogged our copy of Red Man's Rebuke, then another wrote about our copies of Charles Fletcher Lummis's Birch Bark Poems. So, it is probably a bit redundant to feature our latest acquisition, a playbill for a sacred concert at the Crawford House on September 26th, 1886, in the heart of the White Mountains printed on birch bark. But it is just too cool to resist.

The concert got off to a suitably rustic start with the William Tell Overture, but would any of the other composers dreamed their works would be listed on tree bark? Can't you just picture the concert goers idly fidgeting with the chalky bark playbill during the concert? The temptation to slowly shred it surely overcame many--birch bark just begs to be torn along its grain--but luckily someone had the self restraint to preserve their copy, and it now joins our amazing White Mountains Collection.

It is not cataloged yet, but we will put up a link to the record when it is.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Illustrated Iberia

An engraving of the Iberian peninsula with hand-colored borders to mark the separate regions.
This week at Rauner Library, we hosted a high school class that was studying the history of Spain. That gave us an opportunity to explore the Bryant Spanish Collection at Dartmouth College. This phenomenal collection was begun in 1952 and now consists of over several thousand volumes of books in Spanish and books that reflect the culture and history of Spain. The collection was created by William "Junior" Bryant, class of 1925, with the assistance of Dartmouth's Associate Librarian Harold Rugg, class of 1906. Bryant had taken a class from Rugg during his student days at Dartmouth and had fallen in love with books as a result. Over several decades, Bryant worked with Rugg and his successor Edward Lathem, class of 1951, to curate an amazing gathering of texts that is rich in archeological works, histories of Spanish towns and institutions, dictionaries, travel guides, art books, philology, various ethnic groups within Spain, and geography.

While selecting materials for the Spanish class, we came across many fascinating items, including a A hand-colored engraving of the entire world, represented as two circles to portray both sides of the globe.pocket atlas that was printed in Madrid in 1711. The charming little volume is filled with fold-out illustrations and maps, most of which have been hand-colored with enthusiasm, if not with care. The map of Spain colorfully divides the country into clear regions, and there is a delightful map of the heavens that shows all of the creatures of the zodiac filling the sky. The engraving of the entire world includes a representation of California as an island and some random mountains above it, a signal that the reader's guess is as good as the engraver's or author's as to what awaits future explorers to the region. One of the high school students was struck by the fact that these images of the world would have been taken as fact for Spanish people of the 1700s, despite their many inaccuracies. For us, helping to provide these sorts of intellectual discoveries is even more exciting than finding a lost treasure among our stacks.

To explore Francisco de Afferden's Atlas Abreviando, come to Rauner and ask for Bryant G1015 .A3 1711.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dear Peter Pan

Watercolor of pirate ship with Tick TockLess than a year after Peter Pan's debut in London, the play came to Broadway starring Maude Adams in the title role. She was a spectacular success, and the play helped to cement her reputation as one of the most popular actresses of her era. She was inundated with fan mail, very little of which made it into the collection of her papers here in Rauner. But, one thing she saved was a book of artwork made by a class from the Francis Parker School.

The cover letter is absolutely adorable:
Dear Peter Pan,
This is our Thanksgiving to you for the pleasure you have been to us for many days.
Letter from second graders to Peter Pan
What follows is the creative interpretation of the play by a class of second graders in 1906. We thought you would like to see a little of what they sent to Maude.
Collage image of children flying through the window

Watercolor of lost boys in the woods
 Watercolor of sword fight

 You can see the whole booklet by asking for MS-285, Box 1.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Protector of the Indians?

Frontispiece of De Las Casas's "A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies," displaying violences committed against indigenous peoples by the Spaniards.
If you live in the Americas, there is a good chance that your country celebrated Columbus Day this past Monday. In the United States, the holidays of both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples' Day now uneasily occupy the same date on our calendar here in the United States. In some regions of the country, Columbus is seen in such a negative light that his holiday is not recognized at all. In particular, Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, and South Dakota, do not formally celebrate Columbus Day.

The controversy over Columbus that has raged on social media this week, combined with a Writing 5 class on Monday that explored world-building through word and image, has us thinking about the early days of exploration by the Spanish government on this continent. One of the books that we used in the class was a 1598 edition of Bartolome De Las Casas's A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies. De Las Casas was one of the first Spanish colonists to arrive in the new world; he immigrated with his father to Hispaniola with he was about eighteen years old. De Las Casas was originally a slave owner who controlled an estate that garnered him profits via the encomienda labor system, which gave the beneficiary the legal right to own a number of indigenous
An engraving that depicts Spaniards burning indigenous people to death in a house while an indigenous women is hanged from a tree outside the building.
people in exchange for protecting Spanish interests in the region. He and his family knew the Columbuses because they had sailed with them to the Americas; Diego Columbus, Christopher's eldest son, was the Governor of the Indies during De Las Casas's time in Hispaniola.

However, in his early thirties, De Las Casas had a change of heart; he had witnessed the atrocities visited upon the indigenous community by their Spanish overlords, and was deeply troubled by the abuse and exploitation he witnessed. In 1515, he gave up his slaves and his resulting profits from their labor and instead began to advocate on behalf of the indigenous population in the Spanish Americas. He eventually entered the Dominican order and became a zealous proponent for ending the physical abuse and cruel treatment of native peoples. Ultimately, De Las Casas would be appointed to the administrative office of Protector of the Indians and serve as a liaison, advisor, and advocate for indigenous peoples and the rulers of the Spanish colonies. De Las Casas was by no means a singularly heroic figure; he had many flaws, including a belief in slavery as an acceptable practice that stayed with him for many years. Still, he made some small advances in a more humane official approach to treatment of colonized people by the Spanish government.

An engraving that depicts Spaniards overthrowing indigenous leadership
A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies was one of De Las Casas's most powerful writings, sent to King Philip II of Spain after its publication in 1552. De Las Casas intended the book to be a wake-up call to the Spanish people because he feared for the state of their souls if they continued their abusive and exploitative treatment of other cultures. The already controversial text was later independently illustrated by a Dutch Protestant, Theodor de Bry, whose graphic depictions of horrific violence enacted by the Spanish soldiers shifted the emphasis of the text from jeremiad to anti-Spanish propaganda.

To see more of de Bry's engravings, or to engage with De Las Casas's argument in Latin, come to Rauner and ask to see McGregor 33.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The "Nansen passport"

Nansen passport circa 1929
"Nansen passport." From
United Nations High Commission for Refugees,
Nansen Centennial, 1961.
Although he started out his public life as an explorer, Fridjtjof Nansen was also renowned for his humanitarian work, especially his efforts in the various refugee crises that erupted after the First World War.

Nansen earned early fame as the leader of the first team to cross the interior of Greenland - he skied across in 1888 - and for his attempt to reach the North Pole. Though he didn't quite make it to the Pole, he came within a few degrees - again skiing the final leg of the journey. We've blogged about the ads that filled out his serialized Farthest North.

During his work for the League of Nations, Nansen was deeply involved in resettling Russian refugees following the Revolution. One of the innovations he introduced was the "Nansen passport," an identity document accepted by numerous governments which granted displaced and stateless people the ability to travel across international borders. For this and other efforts he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922.

Though most of Rauner's Nansen material focuses on his polar explorations, we do hold a few items related to his humanitarian work, including a letter to Gilbert Murray from 1926 in which he discusses "the saddest affair I have ever been connected with." Though Nansen doesn't specify the subject, he may be alluding to his work resettling Armenians following the attempted genocide by the Ottoman Empire.

Nansen letter to Gilbert Murray, March 1926

A guide is available for Stef Mss-156.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Scattered Poetry

Close up of a page from Fragments of Light showing cut circles of silver mylarWe previously blogged a truly spectacular manuscript Sufi prayer book. We were taken by it as a physical manifestation of the mystical teachings of Sufism. It now has a modern companion that complements it by scattering light and text in a translation of Rumi's poetry.

Vincent FitzGerald cut out lines of Rumi's verse on shiny Mylar pages, then used a steel plate backing to anchor his Fragments of Light 4 (New York, 2009). The result is a play of light and poetry that both "mirrors" the poems and reflects the reader (and photographer!) onto them.

Two-page spread of Fragments of Light showing mylar reflection
Come take a look by asking for Presses K298rufr.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Worker standing over slain "marauder" in propaganda poster from Russian RevolutionWe just put up a new exhibit, "Revolution!" that is full of really flashy materials reflecting the exuberance and experimentation of many artists and writers right after the October 1917 Russian Revolution. So, of course, today we give you the most bland looking thing in the exhibit. We think it deserves its own moment in the sun uneclipsed by the bold designs surrounding it.

Letter sent by Thomas Cotton to his family.This is a letter written by Thomas Cotton, Dartmouth Class of 1917, from Moscow on November 30th, 1917. He had just graduated from Dartmouth, headed out to Russia to do work with the YMCA, and found himself smack-dab in the middle of the Russian Revolution. His letter home to his family is full of chatty news: he tells them of social events going on around town for Americans; gives an account of running into his "old college chum" just arrived ("the old grinnin' son-of-a-gun he is worth ten ordinary men"); and relays Thanksgiving and Christmas wishes. But he also takes time to reassure them of his safety in a quiet reference to the turmoil:
By this time you people have quit worring [sic] about the safty [sic] of yours truly. Of course there's a lot of excitement at the front but there has been no danger come to any of our men yet. I am sure that the Russian people are the last on earth that would harm Americans.
Come in and take a look at the exhibit now through November 10th. After that, you can see Cotton's letters by asking for MS-632.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War

Title page to Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of hte WarIn May, the Dartmouth College Library was abe to acquire the 1866 edition of Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War, the most powerful and most well-known collection of photographs from the Civil War. It contains 100 original albumen silver prints, each mounted on lithographed cards and bound into two volumes. It was published in an edition of no more than 200 sets and includes many of the most celebrated and recognizable images of the war such as: "Burial Party, Cold Harbor"; "A Harvest of Death"; "Field Where General Reynolds Fell, Battle of Gettysburg"; and "President Lincoln on Battle-Field of Antietam.” The acquisition was made possible by a generous bequest by Hans Penner formerly of the Religion department.

"Harvest of Death" from Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book showing dead soldiers on the field of Gettysburg
To celebrate this amazing acquisition we are hosting a half-day symposium on September 25th, “Civil War Object Lessons: Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War as Relic, Monument, and Narrative” to which you are most cordially invited. We will be featuring two visiting speakers, Elizabeth Athens from the Worcester Art Museum, and Elizabeth Young from Mount Holyoke College, as well as two panels of Dartmouth faculty and staff to discuss how the book will be used in their teaching and research.

"Gettysburg" showing the fields around Gettysburg, PA
The symposium runs from 12:45-5:45, and all of the presentations will be held in the Kreindler Conference Room (Room 41) in the Haldeman Center. You can find the schedule here. If you can't make it to the symposium, sometime when you are free, come to Rauner and ask for Rare E468.7 G19 1866.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Return of an Old Friend

Antiphonal in Preservation labWe have a really amazing old Antiphonal that lives in our reading room. It is a beast of a book that can take a lot of use, so it is a good thing to have out. When it arrived, it was pretty beat up--some of the metal bosses were missing, a chunk of the back board had broken off, and it needed some cleaning. Still, it was made to be used, and we were able to use it for teaching and to satisfy people's curiosity fairly well. Then our terrific colleagues in Preservation Services had a vision to not only stabilize the book, but also have the work be a learning opportunity across campus.

New metal bosses being designed
They got the campus Jewelry Studio involved in creating new bosses based on the existing ones, and the Woodworking Shop built out the missing piece of the back board. Our conservator, Deborah Howe, worked with everyone to reassemble the book, and now it is back home in our reading room ready to be used again.

Back board being reparied with new wood
Come on in whenever we are open to take a look at it. The work they did is almost as amazing as the book itself!