October 16th, 2014

A poet, killer, thief, brawler, and vagabond…

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

Francois Villon was all of those things, and most prominently a subversive outsider.  At a time when most poetic works were strongly religious or allegorical Villon wrote with honesty about love and sex, drinking, money problems, and living on the road in 15th-century France.  Many of his works were meant to be read aloud, preferably in a tavern.  He is known to have influenced modern English poetry, particularly Ezra Pound.  This limited edition of Villon’s works and accompanying illustrations by Albert Dubout was published in France around 1933.

The text above is taken from Villon’s poem Bequests, whose premise is that Villon is leaving the city after being spurned by a woman, so he must leave all of his possessions behind.  He details a long list of beneficiaries gifting them with worthless junk and items that he never owned, essentially mocking everyone and everything.  Most of Villon’s poems have a strong dose of social satire and a tone of merry pranksterism.

KIC Image 0013

This shorter poem translates to:

I am Francois, which I find a burden,

born in Paris (near Pontoise),

and from the six-foot rope 

my neck will learn what my ass weighs.

This poem could be read as a direct commentary of Villon’s life since he was indeed condemned to death in November of 1462.  The story goes that he was involved in a brawl where the Pope’s Paris notary was stabbed by a companion so he was sentenced to hang since he had already been jailed three times.  However, Villon appealed the case and his sentence was changed to a 10 year banishment from Paris.  Villon celebrated by writing both a poem taunting the prison clerk and then another lavishly praising the court.  Shortly thereafter he disappeared from public view.

Though it is tempting to look at Villon’s work as completely biographical many scholars contend that he created a mix of factual and fictional information to create this character of Villon featured in his works.  To see more illustrations by Dubout or recite some of Villon’s verse in French you can find this volume at Houghton Library.  Villon (oeuvres) /illustrations de Dubout.Oeuvres. Paris : Gibert Jeune, Librairie d’Amateurs, [1933]. FC.V7195.B933v 

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager and Ryan Wheeler, Rare Book Cataloger, for contributing this post.

October 10th, 2014

D.H. Lawrence on strike

D.H. LawrenceThe Modern Books and Manuscripts department recently acquired the manuscript of D.H. Lawrence’s short story “Her Turn.”

Ten onionskin pages depict a battle of wills between a husband and wife fighting over shares of the husband’s strike pay. The story was timely – Lawrence composed it over a three-day period in March 1912, during a month-long strike in which over a million British coal miners participated.

Lawrence’s story does not delve into the reasons for the strike or advocate for any political change, but the plot’s small domestic battle mirrors the period’s larger social unrest. Current events clearly influenced Lawrence’s work; he wrote two other strike-related stories the same month “The Miner at Home” and “Strike Pay.”

Lawrence, Her Turn

Lawrence originally titled the story “The collier’s wife scores;” this title was crossed out on the manuscript and replaced with “Her turn” when Lawrence revised the story for publication in the Westminster Gazette in September 1913.

The manuscript of “Her turn” joins Houghton’s significant collection of Lawrence’s literary manuscripts, correspondence, and published works.

Images: Undated photograph of D.H. Lawrence, MS Am 1891.24. Manuscript of “Her Turn,” 2004M-43. Gift of Medora Geary, class of 2000.

Thanks to Heather Cole, Assistant Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts, for contributing this post.

October 9th, 2014

Art and the Occult

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection.

Art and Symbols of the OccultJames Wasserman, author, editor, publisher and occultist, gives us Art and Symbols of the Occult.  A disciple of Aleister Crawley’s Ordo Templi Orientis, he has written numerous books on the subject as well as republishing and updating several of Crawley’s works including photographing the Tarot cards from the Thoth Tarot deck.  Wasserman got his literary start at Weiser Books, one of the largest bookstores and publishers in occult literature.  He subsequently founded Studio 31 which offers book production and graphic design and has continued to focus in occult literature.  Wasserman also founded one of Ordo Templi Orientis’s oldest lodges in New York City in 1979.

Art and Symbols of the Occult

Art and Symbols of the Occult explores both typical symbols of the occult such as the Golden Dawn Cross and masonic art, as well as more classic and religious art such as St. George and the Dragon by Raphael and The temptation of St. Anthony by Hieronymus Bosch.  Wasserman covers a wide variety of pieces, ranging from ancient Egyptian art, to the monument at Stonehenge to kabbalah texts.

Art and Symbols of the Occult


Split into several sections on different facets of the occult, Wasserman prefaces each chapter with a discussion of the practice and then offers pages and pages of art he assigns to the categories.  Each image is accompanied by a short blurb about historical context and meaning, an easy enough read for those not versed in art history or the occult.Art and Symbols of the Occult




Art and Symbols of the Occult , Wasserman’s first book, was expanded and rereleased in 2005 as The Mystery Traditions: Secret Symbols and Sacred Art.  The original version Art and Symbols of the Occult / London : Tiger Books International, c1993.  can be found in Widener Library’s collection.


Thanks to Emma Clement, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.

October 3rd, 2014

Creepy-crawlies and their tell-tale traces

Robert Hooke, Micographia, schem XXXIII (EC65 H7636 665maa)Unsurprisingly, some of the centuries-old books now in Houghton’s library stacks have fared better over time than others.  There are many factors that impact the breakdown of codex materials, including (but not limited to) natural elements like water, heat, and either too much, or too little, humidity.  All of these deteriorate the components of the codices; ie. paper, leather, ink, adhesives, cloth, and wood.

Another enemy of long-term preservation is bugs, one of which is the purposefully named “bookworm” that leave tiny holes inside of books.  As the name suggests, these insects do indeed eat the wood and leather of the covers and the paper of the pages.  The bugs that leave these holes, however, are not worms, nor is there only one type of “bookworm.”  Rather, the culprits can be one of several types, including the larvae of beetles (Xestobium rufovillosum and Anobium punctatum), paper louses (Trogium pulsatorium), or Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina).

It is also noteworthy that contrary to popular belief, Silverfish usually do not bore into books, but rather eat along the surface of the pages. Also, they prefer to eat adhesives and will often eat the glue used to bind books spines before the paper.
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October 2nd, 2014

Three times as nice

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

We are lucky to have found three first editions of Traité du chanvre in different bindings as we continue to unpack and catalog items from Santo Domingo boxes.  From left to right the images reflect the covers of these copies at Houghton, Countway, and Botany.

houghton_cover countway_cover botany_cover

Traité du chanvre was published in 1758 in Paris and is a treatise about hemp.  Written by M. Marcandier, who was a magistrate from Bourges, a city in central France, he wrote about hemp’s history, preparation, uses, and about new methods of cultivation and manufacture.  There is a translated version in English which was published a few years later in 1764 and can be found online.

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The range of bindings on these volumes is just as interesting as the content within it.  Houghton’s copy was in the best shape bound in contemporary mottled calf with the edges stained red in addition to having having beautiful marbled end papers.


Botany’s volume is similar to Houghton’s though its leather was in much poorer shape.  Though it lacked the marbled end papers, this copy has a decorated spine.


Countway’s volume was the most different as it wasn’t bound in leather at all, but in contemporary decorated paper wrappers featuring some sort of purple stamp design.  Presumably at some point a custom box was made for it mimicking the original design with purple dots decorating the box housing.

countway_cover_2  countway_box

To look at any of these volumes of Traité du chanvre /par M. Marcandier. A Paris :Chez [J.L.] Nyon, Quai des Augustins, à l’Occasion,MDCCLVIII [1758] from the libraries mentioned above look in the Hollis catalog.

Thanks to Alison Harris- Santo Domingo Project Manager, Ryan Wheeler- Rare Book Cataloger at Houghton, Joan Thomas- Rare Book Cataloger at Countway, and Chris Robson of the Botany Libraries for contributing to this post.

October 1st, 2014

“Do you wear pants!”: T. S. Eliot’s first magazine

T. S. Eliot’s first magazine was published in an extremely limited edition, with an erratic mixture of upper- and lower-case penciling. Advertised as “A Little Papre” (it is about three inches wide and four inches tall), Fireside first appeared on January 28, 1899, when Eliot was ten. It ran in fourteen installments over the next month. On Valentine’s Day 1899, the magazine records a letter from admiring subscribers: “Dear Sir, We have taken your beautiful magazine for years and think it fine. We are two little sisters, Minney and Smiley! This is our first letter.”

Fireside Magazine. Eliot, T. S. (Thomas Stearns), 1888-1965. T. S. Eliot juvenilia,. MS Am 1635.5.

Fireside Magazine. Eliot, T. S. (Thomas Stearns), 1888-1965. MS Am 1635.5.

Fireside is as polyphonic as The Waste Land. Eliot alternates serial cliffhangers (“Chap. II. It was all ready. It was a dark night, and everything was ready. To be continued”) with recipes for ice soup, turnip pie, “grisley steak,” “cheeze balls,” and “bilous bread.” Each issue is also punctuated by a theater column, which usually consists of a page empty except for the words “Theatre. Nothing good.” Another regular feature is the dedication, in one of the periodical’s rare attempts at cursive: “This Magazine (all) is dedicated to My Wife.” (A later issue reminds us, “Remember, to my Wife!”) In addition to the promised “fiction, gossip, theatre, jokes,” Fireside published poetry, editorials on world politics, letters, drawings (one cover shows a fireside in which Fireside is burning), and advertisements: “Do you wear pants! If so wear Never Rip, fine for hobos! Bulldogs cannot tear them.”
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September 30th, 2014

New on OASIS in October

Finding aids for three newly cataloged collections have been added to the OASIS database this month:

Processed by Ashley M. Nary and Benjamin Hand:
Vanity Fair Caricatures, 1871-1911 (MS Thr 1041)

Processed by Bonnie B. Salt:
Charles Henry Taylor Collection of Privateering Papers, 1718-1928 (MS Am 1087)

Mayhew Family Papers, 1731-1790 (MS Am 977)

September 25th, 2014

The Best Selling Preacher

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection.

The Cross and the switchbladeSeveral books by the Reverend David Wilkerson and his followers are in the Santo Domingo Collection.   Wilkerson, an evangelic pastor who moved to New York because he felt called to help young gang members and drug addicts, recounts his success stories in books like The Cross and the Switchblade and Hey, Preach…You’re coming through.   Also included in the collection are books by Nicky Cruz, one of Wilkerson’s greatest success stories, like Run Baby Run an autobiographical account of his gang life and recovery.


Hey Preach...You're Coming Through

Wilkerson, born into a religious family, devoted his life to the church and began preaching at a very young age.  After hearing about young men on trial for gang related offenses, he went to New York, ran into the courtroom and tried, unsuccessfully, to disrupt the trial.  Not to be discouraged, he later founded the recovery group Teen Challenge to work with teen addicts and gang members.  Wilkerson also founded the Time Square Church; a nondenominational ministry where he preached personal connection with Jesus and God.  The Cross and the Switchblade, Wilkerson’s first book was a national best seller and was eventually turned into a movie starring Pat Boone and Erik Estrada.

Run Baby Run

These books, with graphic and eye catching covers, seem to be marketed as thrilling stories for general consumption and not marketed for church and religious groups specifically.    Showing both the dark side of addiction and violence, as well as the ultimate salvation of the church, the books weave impressive and gripping tales. The Cross and the Switchblade, Hey, Preach…You’re coming through, and Get your hands off my throat by Wilkerson can be found in the Widener Library collection.  Run Baby Run and The Lonely Now by Cruz are also available.

 Get Your Hands off my Throat


Thanks to Emma Clement, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.

September 18th, 2014

Before there was Botox

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

KIC_Image_0011 KIC_Image_0007

Before botox, plastic surgery, and aestheticians,  L’horreur!, women were forced to combat aging and maintain beauty the old fashioned way- with tips and remedies from publications such as Comment se guérir?  This French publication by the mysterious Dr. Druah loosely translates into How to Cure? and in addition to advice about common medical maladies it gives women all the latest advice and products for common beauty dilemmas.  Including as we can see from the above images how to give a good facial massage.

Worried about a flushed or reddish face?  The advice is that this condition stems from poor blood circulation and offers up various products to help. Infusing a cloth with elderflower and wearing it over ones’s face is one suggestion.  Don’t worry ladies it looks totally normal!

KIC_Image_0008 This volume was an edition of popular science works called “Edition de vulgarisation scientifique” and it was most likely published by a pharmaceutical company that sold some of these remedies.

Comment se guérir? / par le docteur Druah. Paris : Institut “Paris-Londres”, [between 1890 and 1910?] RC81 .D79. can be found at the Countway Library at the Harvard Medical School in Longwood.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager and Joan Thomas, Rare Book Cataloger at Countway for contributing this post.

September 15th, 2014

Pictures of a president

sculling  TRRR   TR speaking  Nairobi

Theodore Roosevelt was arguably the first truly modern president; nowhere is this more evident than in the thousands of photographs taken of him which capture his larger-than-life personality and incredibly productive life.

The Theodore Roosevelt Collection photographs, comprising over a hundred boxes of several thousand images, are the most heavily used materials within the collection, and are frequently requested by researchers, students, and visitors. Photographs of TR’s life from 1858-1910 can be searched and viewed online; photographs from 1910-1919 can be viewed by contacting the curator.

Many images from the collection can be seen in Ken Burns’s seven-part documentary “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History”, airing this week on PBS.  More information on Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt at Harvard can be found here.

Thanks to Heather Cole, Curator of the Theodore Roosevelt Collection, for contributing this post.


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