March 27th, 2015

It’s the drapery, stupid!

It’s been a loooong winter here in Cambridge. I don’t know, perhaps that is why when this particular waltz crossed my desk, the cover leapt out at me. The lithography and chromolithography of the 1840s and 50s sheet music covers can be simply breathtaking: I’m continually astonished by their sophistication and technical complexity. In this particular case, lithographer John Brandard has taken what might have been a simple image of a woman gazing down at a flower, and created a tour de force.

*2008TW-2095(76) Front cover

*2008TW-2095(76) Front cover

Just have a look at the drapery on her dress! The underskirt seems to have a satiny sheen to it, the stripes appear to alternate a shiny material with a less-shiny material, but zoomed in closer (simply click on the image) one can see that Brandard has achieved all of this through clever visual trickery. And all of this on a sheet music cover. No wonder Degas admired this guy, I do too. Just the thing to cheer me up on a gloomy, wet day.

[Thanks to Andrea Cawelti, Ward Music Cataloger, for contributing this post.]

March 26th, 2015

Skills for Kids

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

DiscoverAlthough most of the items in the Santo Domingo Collection are geared towards adults there are some great exceptions.  Discover Skills for Life is a teaching tool for elementary schools that addresses wide ranging topics from building self-esteem to decision making and relationship skills.   Also included is a chapter on becoming informed about drugs in which the authors explain different types of drugs in order to differentiate medicine from illegal drugs as well as describing tobacco and alcohol.  One section in this chapter is about challenging the myths about alcohol.

DiscoverThe first myth is the idea that only hard liquor is harmful, the second is that only large amounts of alcohol can hurt people.  This one is answered specifically for children since they cannot handle as much alcohol as an adult can.  The final myth is that alcohol is the best way to have fun.  The handbook explains that this is not true and that there are many other ways to have fun such as skateboarding, reading, hiking, fishing and visiting a relative.

DiscoverThere are also discussion questions at the end of each page.  Some of them are more casual such as “what favorite ways of having fun do you have?” whereas others are more pointed and specific like “why do many cocaine abusers quickly become dependent on the drug?”  The first and last chapters of the book are much more lighthearted, addressing communication, giving up worries, and positive self-talk.  Although the book is clearly geared towards children and doesn’t provide a lot of specific information, it is interesting to see how these difficult subjects are address when elementary students are the primary target.

This book, Discover Skills for Life is available in the Santo Domingo Collection at Widener Library.

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

March 19th, 2015

Calling all Reyer scholars

Last night, I pulled a score out of a box to catalog, with the innocuous identification of Reyer. La Statue. I was vaguely familiar with this work, having cataloged several issues of the vocal score some years ago, in the Ward Collection of Opera Scores at our Loeb Music Library. I thought to myself, oh nice, now we have a full score also.

*2007TW-83 (837) title page

*2007TW-83 (837) title page

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March 19th, 2015

The Sarah Orne Jewett library project

The following is the fifth part in a series on books from the library of Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909) and her family.

Houghton Library is home to many author’s libraries or portions of libraries—Bronson Alcott, William James, Thomas Carlyle, the Dickinson family, John Keats, and more. Houghton “inherited” a number of these author libraries from the Widener Library Treasure Room and, as staff time has permitted, the Rare Book Team has been doing “clean up” on these collections, making sure that all the volumes are represented in HOLLIS, and updating the records to make the books more easily findable.

The most recent project was the Sarah Orne Jewett library, a Treasure Room legacy with its own classification, SOJ. Houghton has been in discussion with several other New England repositories, including Historic New England and the University of New England, about a collaborative digital project centered on Jewett’s manuscripts and correspondence; knowing more about the Jewett library might be helpful.

The books came to the Harvard College Library in 1931, the bequest of Sarah Orne Jewett’s nephew Theodore Jewett Eastman. The books were classed “SOJ” and a handwritten shelf-list made. Or that was what we assumed!

During his work on the Jewett library, Library Assistant Noah Sheola discovered that many books that were part of Eastman’s bequest were not listed in the SOJ shelf-list. It appears that the shelf-list may not have been created until after 1935, and that before that date many books were given Widener classification numbers and placed in the Widener stacks. Some of these were later transferred to Houghton, and some no doubt remain in the Widener stacks. Sheola was able to track down a few with the help of an article that appeared in the Colby Library Quarterly that describes the Jewett family library in some detail. See Bowditch, Mrs. Ernest (1961) “The Jewett Library,” Colby Quarterly: Vol. 5: Iss. 12, Article 6

A search of the annual report of the College Library for 1931-1932 revealed that the Eastman bequest numbered 5,561 volumes and 1,008 pamphlets. A search by Harvard University Archives reference staff uncovered  “A list of books from the Bequest of Theodore Jewett Eastman that bear the marks of ownership of Sarah Orne Jewett” (UAIII, a typescript of 57 pages and about 1,100 titles, compiled in 1933. About 300 Jewett books can now be found at Houghton; 180 of the books are classed SOJ, the rest were classed and re-classed over the years. Most of these are to be found in the AC85.J5554 range, the Houghton class for Jewett, but some found their way into STC (pre-1640 books), or Inc (pre-1500 books), or were classed under their respective authors.

Most, but not all, of the Jewett books had records in HOLLIS, but few records indicated Jewett’s ownership. Each record was edited to provide copy-specific information and, most importantly, added entries supplied so that one can now search HOLLIS for “Sarah Orne Jewett, former owner” in All Items—Keyword—Author and find the books.

This accounts for some 300 of the 1,100 books identified as belonging to Sarah Orne Jewett in 1933. What happened to the rest? The search continues.

Contributed by Leslie Morris, from information supplied by Noah Sheola.

March 19th, 2015

The Master of the Harvard Hannibal

The Master of the Harvard Hannibal was given his name by the art historian Millard Meiss after the artist’s work on the large frontispiece miniature depicting the “Coronation of Hannibal” in volume II of Houghton Library’s MS Richardson 32. The artist trained in Paris in the circle of the Boucicaut Master in the first two decades of the fifteenth century and it is thought that the Master later moved to Rouen and set up his own workshop. His work demonstrates a fondness for pure, bright colors, rich pattern and decorative accessories, such as elaborate headgear.

Saint Anne and the Virgin Mary illuminated leaf : manuscript, circa 1430. Tarleton book of hours. MS Lat 450

Two recent acquisitions, acquired at auction in London in December of last year, are examples of the work of the Master of the Harvard Hannibal on religious rather than secular subjects. MS Lat 450 depicts St. Anne teaching the Virgin Mary to read for the Suffrage of St. Anne. MS Lat 451 depicts Christ before Pontius Pilate for the beginning of Lauds in the Hours of the Virgin. Both leaves are from the Tarleton Hours which is for the Use of Sarum and was probably made in Rouen during the English occupation at the end of the Hundred Years’ War.

Christ before Pilate illuminated leaf : manuscript, circa 1430. Tarleton book of hours. MS Lat 451

The Tarleton Hours was severely trimmed along the upper edge in an early rebinding, but was intact when it first appeared on the market in July 1951 and originally included 35 miniatures; it was subsequently broken up. The acquisition of these two leaves from the Tarleton Hours not only gives students an opportunity to examine at first hand the full range of the Master of the Harvard Hannibal’s work, but also provides a basis for the experimental digital reconstruction of the manuscript, a topic of considerable current scholarly interest.

This post was contributed by William P. Stoneman, Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts.

March 19th, 2015

Go ahead, judge these books by their covers!

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

from the belly of the whale

One of the many pleasures of working with this collection is the amazing graphic nature of the cover art on books, newspapers, and magazines that we encounter on a daily basis.  After seeing the success of Scanning Key Content, a Harvard Library Lab project that aims to scan selected content at the point of cataloging, we decided to implement a pilot project for JMSD materials being cataloged for Widener.

black candle canada's first book on drug abuse

reconstruction in china

Scanning of covers will aid in the discovery of the materials in our catalog particularly for items that have multiple publications, editions, or other variant printings.  There is also a strong potential for research value since the cover can reflect popular sentiments of the time, topics, or even a relationship between the author and creator of the cover art.

We are especially interested in providing better access to serial publications which can often be difficult or confusing to locate in the catalog.

petit parisien  tiger beat

We are happy to report that we successfully cataloged and scanned about 500 items from Widener’s collection of JMSD materials.  The image links are available to view in the cataloged records for both Hollis Classic and Hollis+.  In Hollis Classic the links are located on the same page as the bibliographic record.  In Hollis+ you can view images in either the View Online tab or if you are in the Details tab go to the links on the right hand side of the page (near the image of the bookplate).

drugs and the other self

This would not have been possible without the very generous assistance and support of our colleagues involved in the Scanning Key Content project: Karen Nipps, Debbie Funkhouser, Amy Benson, Nell Carlson, and Corinna Baksik.  Thanks to everyone and we will keep scanning!

From the belly of the whale / by Clinton White. Plainfield, N.J. : Logos International, 1972, ©1970. 

The black candle / by Emily F. Murphy “Janey Canuck.” Introd. by Brian Anthony & Robert Solomon. Toronto, T. Allen [1973].

Reconstruction in China ; a record of progress and achievement in facts and figures … Shanghai, China united press, 1935. 

Le Petit parisien. Paris [France] : Verdien, 1876-1944.

Lloyd Thaxton’s tiger beatHollywood, Calif. : New Asbury, [1966-]. 

Drugs and the other self : an anthology of spiritual transformations. Edited, with an introduction, by Chaman Nahal. New York : Harper & Row 1971. 

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, for contributing this post.

March 12th, 2015

A Guide to Hipsters

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

The HipstersThe Hipsters, a book by Ted Joans, is a collection of collages of paintings that depicts Greenwich village and the types of people that lived there.  He explains many types from the Folknik to the Hipper-than-thounik. The folkniks “carry musical instruments and long loose flowing hair as they sit on the steps of the hip folklore music shop or every Sunday gather at the Washington Square circle. (Notice the sad three meals-a-day look and the folknik who has been fingered out by Commissioner of Parks Newbold Morris for playing in the square that Sunday he banned folknik singing.”  The HipstersThe hipper-than-thounik “is the overread writer or painter of sorts who speaks as an astute authority on every subject, even sex, which she knows only from books.  For she considers herself so hip that sexual activity is strictly for squares.  Thus the hipper-than-thounik is a sicknik.”  Also included is a three act play made up of Act 1: That Day, Act 2: That night or nite scene, and Act 3: The Flight. Fleeing, Splitting.The Hipsters

Ted Joans is a notable African American poet, jazz artist and writer.  His works often include themes of Black Nationalism although he was also closely linked with the Beat Generation as The Hipsters exemplifies.   Joans considered himself a surrealist, a point of view clear in The Hipsters.  He was deeply involved with the movement, and for a time was close with Salvador Dali as well as André Breton.The Hipsters

Several of Ted Joans books are available at Widener Library including Black pow-wow: jazz poems, A black manifesto in jazz poetry and prose, All of Ted Joans and no more : poems and collages by Ted Joans ; introduction by Ilizabeth D. Klar.  The Hipsters is in the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection and accessible at Widener Library.

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

March 6th, 2015

Night of a Thousand Stars

Lilly, William, 1602-1681. The starry messenger, 1645. *EC65.L6288.B652tOur current exhibition, “Starry Messengers: Signs and Science from the Skies,” will be having its (slightly weather-delayed) opening reception on Tuesday March 10 at 5pm. The exhibition focuses on a series of astronomical events, such as comets, meteors, and supernovas, and shows how these events were viewed by scientists, writers, soothsayers, and others. As the curator of the exhibition, I’ll be on hand to answer your questions, so please join me Tuesday night!

To whet your appetite, here are a few images from the items on display (click to enlarge):

[This post was contributed by John Overholt, Curator of the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection of Samuel Johnson and Early Modern Books and Manuscripts.]

March 5th, 2015

Would Don Draper have done enamel sign advertising?

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

If you have been reading this blog consistently then you probably know that we never quite know what we might come across as we unpack a box from this collection.  A case in point would be this volume Email & pub by Pascal Courault and François Bertin.  Published around 1993 it charts the history of a hundred years of French enamel plate sign advertising.  The book actually has an enamel plate attached to the cover with the title mimicking the advertising for the French “bouillon kub.”

IMG_0046 IMG_0047

I have to say I am kind of charmed by the enamel sign advertising probably because it seems like a throwback in this age dominated by digital advertising.  Below are a few of my favorites.

IMG_0049First we have a vintage French jam ad on an enamel sign from Confitures Bannier.  Apparently in the late 1800s and early 1900s aspiring artists would often create these signs to supplement their incomes.  Which explains why many of the signs show a high level of artistic skill, not often synonymous with contemporary advertising.  Throughout the book there were a number of products that seemed to dominate this advertising space including chocolates, milk, cheese, and of course beer!

The three beer signs below are from 1925, 1950, and 1930.  La Perle Biere or Pearl Beer was first put into production in 1882 by Pierre Hoeffel and it continued until the 1970s when it ceased production of beer.  However in 2009 the great, great grandson of Hoeffel, Christian Artzner, revived the family tradition and Perle is currently brewing beer to this day.

Patent medicines and other medicinal products were also a large market for these signs as we can see for Pastilles Madon.  It appears to be a type of cough drop remedy that was quite effective… at least according to the sign which states the gentleman’s cough was “gone within hours!”


To learn more about the rise and….spoiler alert! the decline of enamel sign advertising you can find this volume in the Fine Arts Library’s collection.

Email & pub / Pascal Courault, François Bertin. Rennes : Editions Ouest-France, [1993]. NK6511.S53 C68 1993

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, for contributing this post.

March 4th, 2015

A very Smart copy

Aschenbrödel : manuscript libretto. TS 8103.588 1825Sir George Smart (1776-1867) was an English conductor, organist (quite successful though he declined to use the pedals), pedagogue and composer. He was active on the London music scene for more a half century and calculated towards the end of his life that he had taught precisely 1262 music students and presided over at least 1494 concerts.

Best known today for his adventurous forays into Continental music, Sir George was the first or among the first to perform many works by Mendelssohn, Mozart and Beethoven. He journeyed to Vienna in 1825 to personally ask Beethoven for the speeds, established with a metronome, at which the composer meant for his symphonies to be performed. As this account by the Beethoven Haus Bonn illustrates the two men became friends and exchanged gifts of jewelry and music during and after their encounter. It was for Sir George that Beethoven composed a beautifully wrought miniature piece of choral music, the canon Ars longa, vita brevis (WoO 192).

Aschenbrödel : manuscript libretto. TS 8103.588 1825
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