October 8th, 2015

Police Bulletin

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

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The publication Bulletin de Police Criminelle was a weekly publication distributed to specific police stations throughout France beginning in 1907.  These bound copies come from the Chalon-sur-Saône police station which is located in the Burgundy region of France.  The weekly bulletins, which are of course in French, appear to serve as both a research tool and a tracking system of crimes and criminals throughout the country.  We don’t currently have the entire run of the publication, but we do have issues that span a good 29 years with the most recent being no. 1523 from 1936.  The individual issues are annotated (most likely by various police personnel) with short notes regarding arrests and other relevant details.  At the back of each bulletin is a section that gives updates about the status of the criminals featured in earlier issues.  The first few suspects in each bulletin have photographs to aid in identification, but there are also just text descriptions without any visuals.

Img0015The description of relevant facts varies probably depending on what information was available at the time.  Some of the general facts that most entries have include a description of the crime, the name of the Judge that issued the arrest warrant, Img0017any accomplices or places they may be hiding out in, and often a physical description or distinguishing marks that could aid the police in capturing a suspect.  The bulletins would also occasionally feature descriptions or alerts about stolen jewelry and objects.


Bulletin hebdomadaire de police criminelle. Paris : Ministère de l’intérieur, 1907-; No. 1 (1907)- can be found in Widener’s collection.  

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

October 1st, 2015

True French crime

Img0007This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

I recently discovered two issues of a weekly French Police newspaper aptly titled Police Hebdo published in October of 1947.  The publication appears to cover extremely sensationalized information and news about various crimes and criminals both in France and around the world.  The articles from this issue seem to focus mostly on drug crime and organized crime.


For example it reports that Operation “Stop” won the first round among the drug gangs.  There is an entire two page spread Img0008

Img0006about J. Edgar Hoover’s (referred to as E.J. Hoover) work against organized crime in America primarily detailing information about Al Capone.  And the Americans are credited with helping French police stop a counterfeit scheme dealing with U.S. dollars.  To read all about it you can find Police Hebdo. Paris : Societe parisienne d’edition, 1947-1948.  in Widener Library’s collection.

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


October 1st, 2015

New on OASIS in October

Seven finding aids for newly cataloged collections were added to the OASIS database this month, including papers from E.E. Cummings and William James, and a collection of Soviet propaganda regarding the downing of the U2 spy plane in 1962.

Processed by Irina Klyagin:
Letters to Serge Diaghilev from Various Correspondents, 1916-1929 (MS Thr 1140)

Processed by Bonnie B. Salt:
Andrew Henderson Papers, 1726-1768 (MS Eng 1781)

V. R. Lang Additional Papers, 1950-2008 (MS Am 3048)

E. E. (Edward Estlin) Cummings Additional Papers and Oil Paintings, 1899-1968 (MS Am 3049)

William James Jr. Additional Papers, 1906-1958 (MS Am 3050)

Richard G. Hannum Papers on Strawhead Script Written with Norman Mailer, 1980-1995 (MS Am 3051)

Truth About Violation of Soviet Air Space by American Plane, 1960 (MS Am 3052)

Pressurized suit, helmet, parachute with oxygen apparatus recovered from U2 wreckage. MS Am 3052 (12)

Pressurized suit, helmet, parachute with oxygen apparatus recovered from U2 wreckage. MS Am 3052 (12)

October 1st, 2015

Maurice Blanchot papers acquired by Harvard


Houghton Library has acquired the archive of French writer, literary theorist, and philosopher Maurice Blanchot (1907-2003) from his daughter, Cidalia Blanchot. Christie McDonald, Smith Professor of French Language and Literature at Harvard University, said, “I am thrilled by Houghton’s acquisition of this important archive.  Scholars will have unprecedented access to material that will give us a deeper understanding of his work.”

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September 29th, 2015

The afterlife of a comic strip

Cataloging work continues on Harvard College Library’s recently acquired collection of over 20,000 zines. Zines are non-commercial, non-professional and small-circulation publications that their creators produce, publish and either trade or sell themselves. For access to the collection, contact the Modern Books & Manuscripts department.

Charles Schulz’s Peanuts is just one example of a typically mainstream, family-friendly comic that can be reinterpreted in zines according to the authors’ views. Although Schulz’s comics portray interactions between children and animals, they are not all apolitical. Kathee Terrell, the author of “A Million Birthdays”, includes several Peanuts comics in her zine, including a shortened version of one from 1970 where an uncharacteristically timid Lucy Van Pelt is interrupted while attempting to explain the contemporary feminist movement to Snoopy.

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An original Charles Schulz comic included in issue #5 0f the zine “A Million Birthdays.”

Other feminist authors have incorporated the series and its female characters into their own zines. In Rebecca’s zine, entitled “Lusy’s Angry”, she describes Lucy van Pelt’s strengths as a character, and her admiration of the friendship between fellow Peanuts characters Marcie and Peppermint Patty.

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The back and front wrappers of the zine “Lusy’s Angry” (Issue #1)

This friendship also inspires a comic strip in the second issue of a zine called “L’il Princess.” In this comic, Marcie and Patty are seated at their desks in their classroom. In the Schulz’s original work, this is often a setting for Patty to complain about school and to fail at answering her teacher’s questions. But here, a much more jaded Peppermint Patty recites “Resumé”, a Dorothy Parker poem about logistical problems with suicide.

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Comic in the zine “L’il Princess”, with text written by Dorothy Parker

Of course any characters as popular as Charlie Brown, his friends, and more particularly his dog Snoopy, become commercial as well as artistic symbols. MetLife gained legal rights to use Snoopy and others in advertisements in 1985. Nearly a decade later, at least two small press publications also made use of the Peanuts characters, parodying both the company and its advertisements. The first issue of the zine “RTFM”, includes John S. Sizemore’s story about the disappointing lives of older Peanuts characters, as told to the narrator by Charlie Brown, now an insurance agent who spends his days smoking and reminding his clients that “if someone cuts down a tree and it falls on your RV, it’s not an act of God.” (Sizemore, 27) The plaque on his desk, of course, features a MetLife slogan.

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Charlie Brown working for MetLife in the story “Welcome to Middle Age, Charlie Brown!”, written and illustrated by John S. Sizemore

The Realist was a satirical magazine which often included rewritten versions of popular comics. In its 127th issue, three Peanuts comics were reformatted to criticize MetLife. The first relates a conversation between Charlie Brown and Lucy van Pelt and is a criticism of the concept of life insurance in general. But the next is a very obvious reference to a real instance of deceptive marketing earlier that year, when MetLife was successfully sued for deceptive sales practices by policyholders in Pennsylvania. The third comic again references the fall-out of that scandal, including the loss of jobs for key executives.

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Comics included in the 127th issue of “The Realist”, published and edited by Paul Krassner

Rebecca. Lusy’s Angry. San Francisco: n.p, n.d. Print.
Princess, Liz. L’il Princess. Columbia, MD: n.p, 1995. Print.
Terrell, Kathee. A Million Birthdays. Willoughby, OH: n.p, 2004. Print.
Sizemore, John S. “Welome to Middle Age, Charlie Brown!” In RTFM (Read the Fucking Manual) (ed. Robert L. Thornton). Rockville, MD: n.p, 1994. Print.
Krassner, Paul. The Realist. Venice, CA: n.p, 1994. Print.

Thanks to Anna Ryerson, an undergraduate student at Mt. Holyoke, who worked in the Modern Books & Manuscripts department this past summer, for contributing this post.

September 26th, 2015

The Book: Histories Across Time and Space

HarvardX Book History Course graphic

Did you know that this week, nine modules of “The Book: Histories Across Time and Space” launched on HarvardX? If you didn’t, but are interested in learning about scrolls, manuscripts, books, marks and marginalia, book sleuthing, and many other fascinating topics (featuring items from Houghton Library collections), head over to edX to see all nine modules. Make an account, register for one or all, and join people from all over the world to learn about the book through time and space!

September 24th, 2015

Heister’s wedge

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

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Heister’s mouth-wedge was a popular tool used in dentistry in the late 19th and early 20th-century.  The purpose of the tool was to keep the mouth wedged open in case a mouth-prop slipped, though one had to be careful not to break the teeth.  As you can see the author was a big fan of the Ferguson gag because of its “good long handles” to provide plenty of leverage when opening the mouth.  These illustrations come from Anaesthesia in dental surgery published in London in 1903.

According to the author, Thomas D. Luke, this was the first work of its kind that displayed the various types of anesthesia combinations used in operative dentistry.  Luke gives brief descriptions of anesthesia usage, methods of application, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of equipment.

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These two illustrations depict the administration of ethyl chloride.  Apparently ethyl chloride in dentistry was quite new at this point in time and was a pretty good option, at least as good as nitrous oxide according to the author.  The volume was almost complete when ethyl chloride really came onto the dentistry scene and Luke considered it to be such an excellent and valuable option that he revised the text to include it.  It is still used today as a local anesthetic and a potent inhalation anesthetic.  


Anaesthesia in dental surgery by Thomas D. Luke London : Rebman, Limited, 1903. RK510 .L95 1903 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 17th, 2015

Self-Made Woman

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


“Is it worth sacrificing a man of your own and children to be a successful business woman?”

Originally published in 1932 this is the 1940 fourth printing of Self-Made Woman.  The novel presents Cathleen McElroy as an unmarried thirty-year-old who is a successful businesswoman in New York City.  Torn between two men she must ultimately decide if the game of love is more important than her business career.  Most likely this novel wasn’t published to seriously explore the working experience of woman in the earlier half of the 20th-century, but it does show how popular fiction echoed societal norms of the time.

Baldwin was an American romance and fiction writer that published around 100 novels which typically focused on a woman juggling a career and family.  She was extremely successful and got her start writing for women’s magazines that produced romance novels in six-part serials.  Time magazine listed her as one of the new “highly paid” woman romance writers of 1935.  Many of her novels were made into films including Wife vs. Secretary that starred Clark Gable and Jean Harlow.  wife_v_sec She even wrote a column for Woman’s Day from 1958 to 1965.

It’s interesting to note that almost 80 years after this novel was written these questions still dominate the female experience.  In 2015 does a woman have to choose between a successful career and having a family?  The popularity of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In : Women, Work, and the Will to Lead would indicate these issues are still alive and well. I’d argue that there has been a shift from having to choose career or family to the challenge of having it all.  No problem right?

Self-made woman / by Faith Baldwin. New York : Triangle Books, 1939 can be found in Schlesinger Library’s collection.

Thanks Alison Harris, Julio Mario Santo Domingo Project Manager, and Erin Ellingham from Schlesinger Library for contributing this post.

September 10th, 2015

Spirit of the mushroom

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

Giorgio Samorini is an ethnobotantist and psychedelics researcher who has published a great deal on sacred plants and psychoactive compounds.  This hand-produced report appears to be documentation written by Samorini along with the color photographs from visits to the Sahara in 1988 and 1989.  We believe that it is a singular copy.  These two photographs appear to be of the same figure depicted on the stone, but the one of the left was taken in 1964 and credits Lajoux, while the color one is presumably from this current expedition of Samorini’s at the In-Aouanrhat site in Tassili, Algeria.  The art is apparently an example of an ethno-mycological cult where they worship of the spirit of the mushroom.  You can see that under the photos he writes, “Note the mushroom-like motif on the legs and arms of the anthropomorphic figure.”  And then on the close-up, “Particular of the masked head, with another probable mushroom-like motif inside the structure of the mask.”

It seems probable that this documentation that was gathered by Samorini was then used to produce his article- The Oldest Representations of Hallucinogenic Mushrooms in the World (Sahara Desert, 9000-7000 B.P.).

Other photographs include various figures found around the site holding vegetals.  On the cover of the report Samorini has inscribed it to Marlene Dobkin de Rios, a very famous anthropologist who investigated the use of psychedelic substances in cultures across the world.  She believed that healing practices, art, and cosmological views were all affected by psychedelic substances.  One of her later publications can be found at Harvard The psychedelic journey of Marlene Dobkin de Rios : 45 years with shamans, ayahuasqueros, and ethnobotanists.

Sahara ethnomycologic & ethnobotanic documentation : manuscript, circa 1990 can be found at the Houghton Library.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Julio Mario Santo Domingo Project Manager, and Susan Wyssen Manuscript Cataloger, for contributing this post.

September 9th, 2015

“It was a glorious flowering”

When I arrived at the Houghton Library, it was to do research for a project I am pursuing on Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, and World War II. While naturally the main site of interest for any researcher studying the career of Eleanor Roosevelt is the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park, NY, which houses Mrs. Roosevelt’s own paper archives, it is not the only useful repository. Houghton has a great deal in the way of archives from the Roosevelt family. Much of it is from the Oyster Bay (Republican Party) branch of the Roosevelt family—that is, President Theodore Roosevelt, his siblings and their descendants.

Eleanor Roosevelt has a large presence, both direct and indirect, in the Roosevelt family archives—although one must be careful to search for “Eleanor (Roosevelt) Roosevelt”  as distinguished from “Eleanor Butler Alexander Roosevelt,” the wife of ER’s cousin Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. Even though Eleanor is usually thought of as part of the Hyde Park (Democratic Party) branch of the Roosevelts, Eleanor was born into the Oyster Bay clan, as the daughter of TR’s brother Elliott, and only migrated to the Hyde Park clan by marrying her distant cousin Franklin. As a result, there is various early correspondence and other material of hers preserved at Houghton. During the 1920s, Eleanor became estranged from most of Theodore Roosevelt’s family, even as the two clans became increasingly opposed politically—Eleanor deepened the rift by some dirty campaigning against her cousin Theodore, Jr. when he ran for Governor of New York in 1924 against FDR’s ally Al Smith. Eleanor also clashed, both personally and politically, with the famously acerbic Alice Roosevelt Longworth (Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer’s recent book Hissing Cousins explores the troubled relationship between the two cousins).

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