Feed on

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


Lewis de Claremont is credited as the author on several occult books from the early 20th-century including Legends of Incense, Herbs, and Oils.  The image of an “artist’s conception of Lewis de Claremont in tunic and turban with Spirit Guide” appeared as the frontispiece in his books.  Henri Gamache another author from that time published The Magic of Herbs, Protection Against Evil and Harm, and The Master Key to Occult Secrets.  What is interesting is that apparently neither one of these men were real, both were supposedly a nom de plume of a man named Young.  The story goes that Young turned over the copyright and publication rights to Joseph Kay, of Dorne Publishing, to clear up a debt.

What makes it more confusing is that at one point Joseph Kay under the name of Joseph Spitalnick claimed authorship, but the fact that some of the De Claremont books were previously published under a different house clearly disproves his claim.  There is still yet another theory that has been posited which comes from Ed Kay, son of Joseph, who says that Henri Gamache was actually a college educated young Jewish woman who worked for Joseph and wrote books for him.  Regardless of who authored this text it says volumes about popular interest in the early 20th-century.

Legends of Incense, Herbs, and Oils instructs the layperson on certain herbs and oils and how they are related to magic and the occult.  Of course the author helpfully directs the reader on where they can purchase these items or recommends that they consult another one of his books for clarification or proper usage.  Capitalism at work!

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Legends of incenseherb & oil magic by Lewis de Claremont. [New York] : Dorene Pub. Co., c1938 can be found in Widener’s collection.  

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


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

Presented to Jewett in 1885, this copy of Celia Thaxter’s Poems contains 22 original watercolor sketches by Thaxter, depicting flowers, birds, spiders, and seascapes. Best known for her poem “The Sandpiper,” Celia Thaxter was, like Jewett, a celebrated author and a talented watercolorist, and both drew inspiration from their native coastal Maine. Later editions of Thaxter included a preface by Jewett. Thaxter’s home on Appledore Island was a gathering place and literary salon for many luminaries of the day, including Emerson, Longfellow, and Whittier, and certainly Sarah Orne Jewett.

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Sherlock 1This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo collection.

Today’s feature demonstrates the Santo Domingo Collection’s diversity of genres and formats. While clearly literary in nature, Sherlock Holmes: consulting detective is not a work of literature. Rather, it’s a game based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, in which players reveal sequences of clues and attempt to be the first to solve the case. (If no one can do so in a timely manner, Holmes himself solves it, resulting in failure for all players.)

Continue Reading »

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

CounterblastCounterblast by Marshall McLuhan is a unique book with insights into human interaction with new technologies and media.  A Canadian communication theory philosopher, McLuhan investigates the way new media has changed the world, with an interesting focus on television and mass visual media.  This printing was designed by Harley Parker, a Canadian artist and designer, who often worked with McLuhan in the area of art and technology.  Full of mind-bending illustrations, Counterblast is as interesting for the content as the unique images that enhance it. Counterblast

McLuhan’s philosophy, that communication technology influences the organization of society, became incredibly popular during his life time, and his most famous work Understanding media (1964) caused a sensation in the intellectual world.  Counterblast, originally written in a shorter form in 1954, discusses the changes that communication technology causes, that are later addressed in Understanding media. One of the many interesting quotes in Counterblast explicates the impact of television: “TV children have lived several lifetimes by the time they enter grade 1, just as they have travelled farther by the age of 7 than their grandparents ever travelled.  The TV adult returns to grade school in order to make possible several new careers for himself.  Acceleration of information movement can have, as one of its consequences, a multiplicity of jobs for everybody.”

CounterblastMcLuhan is well represented in the Harvard Libraries and many of his books can be found in the catalog.  The Santo Domingo Collection copy of Counterblast [by] Marshall McLuhan, designed by Harley Parker is inscribed by McLuhan to his friend D’Arcy Hayman, an artist and writer also interested in communication technology.



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


soj_1764_48_letterThe following is the second in a four-part series on books from the library of Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909) and her family.

Published by the Paris firm of Edwin Tross in 1871, this volume of poetry by Louise Labé belongs to a limited edition of 500 copies, and is distinguished by the remarkable typeface used. As the publisher’s introduction explains, the text is set in a cursive typeface called Civilité, cast from the original matrices owned by the Elzeviers in the 16th century and passed down through the generations. Tross goes on to explain that he had long wished to use this typeface, and accordingly chose an author contemporary with its design. This copy was owned by Sarah Orne Jewett, and contains a tipped-in letter to Jewett from Harvard Professor of Modern Languages Ferdinand Bôcher (1832-1902), relating how he bought the book and had it specially bound for her.




Labé, Louise, 1526?-1566. Oeuvres de Lovize Labé. SOJ 1764.48.

Thanks to Bibliographic Assistant Noah Sheola for contributing this post.


Mustachioed villan?

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

KIC_Image_0001Or perhaps a giant winged insect?  As always the truth lies in the interpretation of the viewer.  Bruce Connor was a renowned American artist who worked in a variety of media including film, collage, painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, and the inkblot images seen here.  Michael McClure is an American poet, novelist, and playwright who was a key member of the Beat Generation.  This beautiful volume which combines the inkblot style illustrations of Conner with McClure’s text was printed in letterpress and is considered to be an important piece of San Francisco bookmaking.  Signed by both men this copy is number 33 and is accompanied by an original ink drawing by Conner.


At the young age of 22 Michael McClure gave his first poetry reading at the famous Six Gallery event in San Francisco where Allen Ginsberg first read Howl.  He is considered to be an important member of the 1960s Hippie counterculture.  McClure is often said to have been a role model for Jim Morrison and encouraged him to explore his poetry. He also wrote the song “Mercedes Benz” which Janis Joplin famously sang.  Houghton has some of McClure’s poetry typescripts and proofs like Jaguar Skies and Rebel Lions in the New Directions collection entitled Manuscripts and Proofs of New Directions Books, 1937-1997.  


The adventures of a novel in four chapters / by Michael McClure ; illustrated by Bruce Conner. [California?] : Hine Editions, [1991?] (San Francisco : Limestone Press). PS3563.A262 A38 1991 can be found in Houghton Library.  

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


The following is the first in a four-part series on books from the library of Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909) and her family. Best known for her novels and stories set in Maine, including Deephaven (1877) and The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896), Jewett’s papers and family library came to Harvard in 1931, the bequest of her nephew Dr. Theodore Jewett Eastman. Cataloged upon arrival more than eighty years ago, the catalog records for the books now at Houghton have benefitted from a recent review project, and along the way many interesting discoveries made.

The Jewett family library comprised mainly 19th-century works, but the family collected older books too, notably a philosophical lexicon by Armand de Belvézer, titled De declaratione difficilium terminorum and printed in Basel, in 1491 (Inc 7521.5 (B)). An inscription on the front flyleaf reads “Bought from the Royal Library at Munich in October, 1876. C.H.B.”

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So who is C.H.B. and what is his connection to Sarah Orne Jewett? Discovering the identity of C.H.B. became possible when an identical inscription was found in another 15th-century book, also at Houghton but not from the Jewett library, a 1475 edition of Nicolas de Hannapes’s Exempla Sacrae Scripturae (Inc 2508). Houghton accession records show the de Hannapes was once owned by Harold N. Fowler, a Harvard professor of Greek and archaeology, whose wife, Helen Bell, was a cousin of Sarah Orne Jewett and the daughter of Charles Henry Bell (1823-1893). Charles Henry Bell was a historian, lawyer, and politician who served New Hampshire as U.S. Senator and Governor. His main collecting interest was Americana and not early European books, but we do know that Bell spent 1876 and 1877 on a grand art and architecture tour of Europe, including Germany, where we surmise he bought at least two incunabula (books printed before the 16th century).  It is reasonable to suppose these books were inherited by, or given to, Helen and Harold Fowler, but how exactly the de Belvézer came to be in the Jewett family library is not clear. The simplest explanation is that Mrs. Fowler simply gave the book to her famous cousin, Sarah Orne Jewett. Certainly the splendid library in the Jewett homestead in South Berwick, Maine, would have seemed a fitting home for it. The de Hannapes evidently remained with the Fowlers. Helen Bell Fowler died in 1909, and in 1944, as accession records show, Harold Fowler sold it to Houghton Library.


Top image: Bookplate for books from the Theodore Jewett Eastman bequest, 1931.

Other three images: Armand, de Belvézer, active 1326-1334. De declaratione difficilium terminorum. Inc 7521.5 (B).

Thanks to Bibliographic Assistant Noah Sheola for contributing this post.

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

All gone

At the end of every year, while preparing for the new one, people are often struck with nostalgia.  This feeling, not just for the past year, but of past eras, is evoked in David Seidman’s book All Gone: Things that aren’t Anymore.  Written at the end of the 20th century as fears about the new millennium were ramping up, Seidman showcases the gadgets and cultural icons that are representative of that time period and gives a glimpse into the meaning of that nostalgia.  Spanning topics from food and drink to law, government and politics, All Gone is a catalog of important events in the 20th century.  Accompanied by black and white photographs, this book is perfect end of year reading.All gone

Even items as seemingly trivial as wristwatches and spectacles get a section.  Seidman gives a short history of the watch, from the past models that required winding to the newer quartz watches that could be outfitted with anything from a calculator to a calendar.  On the more serious side, Seidman discusses the politics of the Cold War and the devastation of apartheid.  One really interesting chapter goes in to high-speed transportation, not just steam locomotives and trains, but also a discussion of NASA and Skylab, as well as different types of airlines that are no longer around are included in this chapter.    Although many think of air travel in the 1960s and 1970s as expensive and very fancy, as early as the 1980s budget airlines started popping up with no frills cheap flights.

All gone


David Seidman is an expert on pop culture and often writes for newspapers and journals on the topic.  All gone: things that aren’t there anymore  / by David Seidman.  Los Angeles : General Pub. Group, 1998 is available in Widener Library’s collection.







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

Hypnotic huckster

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

IMG_0001In his book Practical lessons in hypnotism & magnetism, L.W. DeLaurence states that “Occult force” is simply personal magnetism that if well developed is able to control man, woman, child or beast at will.  If a person possesses this occult force they can then project thoughts, desires, and even habits into the minds of those that have no knowledge of this mental science.  DeLaurence saw a hypnotist on stage and decided to take it up himself, so he took a grand total of one lesson and then began touring around the country doing lectures and exhibitions.

DeLaurence was a pretty shady character even within the IMG_0002 world of spiritualism and occult.  His publication of The Key to the Tarot: Oracles Behind the Veil was a blatant almost word for word plagiarism of Arthur Edward Waite’s Pictorial Key to the Tarot : being fragments of a secret tradition under the veil of divination.  He was able to do this due to a loophole in the US copyright law at the time.  He also established DeLaurence, Scott and Company which sold spiritual amulets, candles, herbs, and other items.  Carolyn Morrow Long’s book Spiritual Merchants: Religion, Magic, and Commerce includes a detailed section about DeLaurence.

According to Long he was the subject of a mail order fraud investigation in 1919 where the prosecuting attorney seemed determined to expose him as a fake.  When DeLaurence was asked about the products he sold he admitted that they lacked any spiritual qualities and that the candles came from a nearby church, the amulets from a jewelry manufacturer, and the herbal remedies from a pharmaceutical company.  Transcripts show that he was given two weeks to remove the “fradulent and objectionable claims” but there is no final outcome noted, nor is there a police record of DeLaurence.


To brush up on your own personal magnetism take a look at Practical lessons in hypnotism & magnetism : giving the only simple and practical course in hypnotism and vital magnetism which starts the student or practitioner out upon a plain, common sense basis–prepared especially for self-instruction / by L.W. DeLaurence. Chicago : De Laurence Co., c1937 which can be found in Widener’s collection.

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

On the Money

Money 1

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

This edition of Jules Boissière’s Propos d’un intoxiqué has featured before in this space – see this post for a copy formerly owned by its illustrator, Tsuguharu Foujita. This copy, however, warrants revisiting the title.

Every page of this 240-volume book has been covered with original illustrations in crayon and watercolor, depicting personages, creatures, iconography, and scenery of Southeast Asia. On most pages, these embellishments are limited to the margins, but chapter breaks as well as the front and back matter offer larger canvases. The artist is Fred Money (1882-1956), a French painter and illustrator in the Post-Impressionist tradition. Money (a pseudonym for Raoul Billon) supported his work as a painter of landscapes and still lifes with commercial work, illustrating advertisements and novels – his work appears in books by Alexandre Dumas and Pierre Louÿs, among others.

Money 2

Per the edition’s limitation statement, the volume’s copy number indicates that it was originally issued with several states of Foujita’s illustrations. These are entirely absent, leaving only the extra-illustrated text. It also provides no clues as to provenance: whether it was commissioned, and if so, by whom, is a mystery.

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Propos d’un intoxique: PQ2603.O37 P76 1929x (C).

Thanks to rare book cataloger Ryan Wheeler for contributing this post.


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

Liber nullLiber Null, a book by Pete Carroll, was originally written as a sourcebook for the magical organization, Illuminates of Thanateros.  It includes spells and magical exercises ranging from mind control to transmogrification.  Liber nullA warning at the beginning of the book states “Liber Null contains a selection of extremely powerful rituals and exercises intended for committed oculists who are aware of the extent of their own state of being.”  Not for the magical novice, this book discusses intense rituals that are akin to sensory deprivation that should not be tried if the reader has any health issues.  Much if the IOT magic discussed in Liber Null is from the darker side of magic and is devoted to the black arts.Liber Null

Illuminates of Thanateros, or IOT, was founded in 1978 by Pete Carroll and Ray Sherwin as a hierarchical organization based on the Greek gods of sex and death and the idea of chaos magic.  Related to the Zos Kia Cultus and Thelmic Magick, Carroll combines both traditional magic with new forms of thought and focus.   Although he debunks astrology, he grounds his new system in similar terms.  Carroll, who studied science in college, attempts to demystify magic much like Aleister Crowley.  Liber nullHowever, chaos magic lives up to its name, creating a realm where everything can contradict itself.  As Carroll says in Liber Kaos, “Chaoist magic is characterized by it’s cavalier attitude to metaphysics…”







Liber Null : an I.O.T. publication in class 4,3 and 2 comprising liber MMM, liber LUX liber NOX millenium, liber AOM by Pete Carroll ; illustrations, Andrew David can be found in Widener Library’s collection.  A later publication that includes both Liber Null and the related text Psychonaut is also available here: Liber Null & Psychonaut Peter J. Carroll; BF1611 .C38 1987.


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

Urdu Punch

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

Punch, the seminal British satirical magazine, is credited with popularizing the use of ‘cartoon’ to mean a comic drawing, rather than a preliminary sketch for a painting or tapestry. During the time of the British Raj, a number of publications throughout India adopted Punch’s model of political cartoons and satirical commentary; the first of these was The Oudh Punch (also cited as The Awadh Punch), an Urdu magazine founded in 1877 and based in the northern city of Lucknow. Many others, such as The Delhi Punch and The Punjab Punch, followed suit. They employed the sardonic devices of the original Punch to skewer and criticize British imperial leadership; nonetheless, a British author, Archibald Constable, saw fit to produce this selection of cartoons with English explications, putting the cartoons forward as a cultural curiosity, and as evidence of the Indian sense of humor.

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A selection from the illustrations which have appeared in the Oudh Punch from 1877 to 1881, then, is an interesting window into its period: original illustrations with Urdu text  are accompanied by Constable’s English notes, which provide political and cultural context, and a general introduction and postface. Constable regards the cartoons with the optimistic authority of the colonialist; their original authors may have offered differing descriptions. The volume’s inclusion in the Santo Domingo Collection is on the basis of one of its plates: “An opium den in Lucknow”, which depicts the range of users from intoxication to catatonia; the Oudh Punch himself draws back the curtain on a prostrate opium eater.

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A selection from the illustrations which have appeared in the Oudh Punch from 1877 to 1881: NC1718.O8 1881.

Thanks to rare book cataloger Ryan Wheeler for contributing this post.

Myths of London

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

London walkaboutAlthough at first glance London Walkabout by Andrew Collins looks like a typical pamphlet for a tourist it actually is much more unusual.  Subtitled “Your guide to discovering the myths and legends of ten mystical sties in and around the City of London, accessible in one easy walkabout,” this pamphlet promises a whole lot more than a standard tour.   The ten sites include: the Tower of London, the London Stone, the Temple of Mithras, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Ludgate Hill, the Church of St. Martin’s-within-Ludgate, St. Bride’s Church Fleet St., the Church of St. Dunstan’s-in-the-West Fleet St., the Temple Church and St. Clement Danes Aldwych.London walkabout

Each site has its own section which includes basic historical facts as well as myths and stories about the supernatural occurrences at the site.   A list of famous ghosts at the Tower of London, an explanation of the Dianic Cult at St. Paul’s Cathedral  and a section on psychic work at the Temple Church are some of the more intriguing stories told.  Essentially arranged in a geographic line, Collin’s gives a walking guide that takes about 5 hours to complete and can be done entirely on one’s own.  Details of what to look for at each site are included with the stories as well as pictures of each site for historical comparison and identification.

London walkabout

Andrew Collins, a prolific writer on the supernatural and occult, leads you through each site with unusual insights and history.  Still an active writer today, he also does book tours and signings for his many mythological texts.  Several of his books are available at Widener including Beneath the pyramids : Egypt’s greatest secret uncoveredThe Cygnus mystery : unlocking the ancient secret of life’s origins in the cosmos and The knights of Danbury.  London walkabout /by Andrew Collins, Wickford : Earthquest, 1984 (1986 [printing]) is also available at Widener Library.




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

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

Death.  Typically depicted as a skeleton with a sickel, one might suppose that if this card appeared in a tarot reading that you should prepare for an untimely demise, but it rarely signifies a physical death.  Tarot card readings are a highly subjective topic depending on what you believe, but according to A.E. Waite, a recognized authority on the occult and tarot, the Death card usually means an end to a cycle or a transition into a new stage in your life.

Le Taro sacerdotal : reconstitué d’après l’astral et expliqué pour ceux qui savent déja published in 1951 consists of 22 beautiful lithograph cards, most of which are hand-colored with watercolors. The cards consist of an iconographic image with a corresponding description of the archetype below it, one of the exceptions being Death.  

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You can see that the style of the description scripts vary according to the image.  Again according to Waite the Hermit represents guidance, introspection, solitude, and seclusion.  The Hanged Man is based on a pittura infamante, a shameful image of a traitor being punished in a manner common at the time in Italy.  Waite suggests the Hanged Man is associated with sacrifice, passivity, contemplation, and inner harmony. 

The illustrator of these cards, Lucien Laforge, is also known for his illustrative work in magazines including LinkLa Charrette : “Charrie” Aujourd’hui which was a short lived serial publication in 20th-century France.  Courtesy of the JMSD collection we have the very last issue no. 24 in Widener and it is possible we may uncover more as we continue to catalog.

Hoping to find more information about Laforge I discovered the Database of Modern Tarot Art.  Adam MacLean, who is an enthusiast for alchemical texts and symbolism, is creating a database from his own collection of tarot decks.  They are currently sorted by geographic regions though there is also a keyword search function.  The description of the entries vary depending on the information MacLean has on the specific deck, but it is a pretty robust database with at least two images from the deck for each entry.   

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Le Taro sacerdotal : reconstitué d’après l’astral et expliqué pour ceux qui savent déja / Lucien Laforge [and] André Godin : prints, 1951.  MS Fr 606 can be found at the Houghton Library.

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

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

The Santo Domingo Collection continues to bolster Harvard’s library of works by author and occult leader Aleister Crowley. These range from substantive books on magic to pamphlets containing individual poems (one of these, titled “Tyrol”, is a condemnation of Mussolini for his 1929 prohibition of that name as part of his Italianization of the region). Crowley’s grandiose, egotistical mode is in evidence throughout, but so is his sardonic sense of humor. That humor is emblemized in his dedications, forewords, and other front matter, at turns combative, boastful, and wryly self-effacing. Two examples appear in this post. The first appears in The sword of song, called by Christians the book of the Beast. This was Crowley’s first publication in which he referred to himself as “the Beast”, in defiance of his critics, and according to Crowley, was impeded by boycotts from British publishers. (The publisher on the imprint is the Society for Religious Truth, Benares, although subsequent Society publications would give Inverness as their location.) The dedication roundly dismisses these opponents of Crowley’s poetic vision.

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The second example is Ambergris, a selection of poetry. In its preface, Crowley outlines the selection process in a passage both self-deprecating and resentful, making reference to the public’s underappreciation of his work.

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The sword of song: EC9.C8863.904s, HOLLIS number 14166213

Ambergris: EC9.C8863.910a, HOLLIS number 2915207

Thanks to rare book cataloger Ryan Wheeler for contributing this post.

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

The faith of graffitiThe Faith of Graffiti presents the reader with beautiful full-spread photographs of street art by Jon Naar and Mervyn Kurlansky with an accompanying text by Norman Mailer.   By keeping the text separate in the center of the book, the reader is able to fully immerse himself in the photographs and experience the depth of street art as an exhibit.  Mailer’s description of the art and history of graffiti draws the reader in further with anecdotes and stories about the great street artists.  The definitive book on graffiti and street art in their early incarnation in the 1970s, this book is sure to interest aficionados as well as those just browsing the topic.The faith of graffiti

Norman Mailer, a novelist and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, pens the essay portion of this book, delving deep into the history of street art and its cultural importance.  The essay is art in itself, pairing more traditional forms of art with stories of graffiti artists to weave a narrative about the impact of this new art form.  The faith of graffitiJoined by photographers Mervyn Kurlansky and Jon Naar, with their images of hundreds of examples of street art around New York City, The Faith of Graffiti is an intriguing and thorough experience.  Their  eye for photography allows the reader to understand both the intricacies of graffiti as well as the environment it lives in by taking large scale landscape photos and juxtaposing them with detailed close ups.

A first edition copy signed by all three authors is available in the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection at Widener Library.  The faith of graffiti. Documented by Mervyn Kurlansky and Jon Naar. Text by Norman Mailer. New York, Praeger [1974]

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


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


In honor of Halloween I thought we share some creepy images that we found recently in a copy of Vu, a French periodical that covers a range of topics concerning France in the early 20th-century.  As the cover attests this issue deals with mysteries and miracles from 1931.  We have a depiction of a man performing magnetism,   p405_le_magnetiseur en transes  a photograph of a healer that accompanies an article about sorcery, witches, and the occult.  p402_le guerisseur

And even a spooky cinematic scene.   p436_cinema

Happy Halloween!

Vu. Paris : Société anonyme “Les illustrés franc̜ais”1928-1940? can be found in Widener’s Collection.

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

Demons and devils

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

Though outnumbered by books on drugs and sexuality, the Santo Domingo Collection’s occult works are nonetheless considerable in number. Featured today are two early works on demonology, one by a French political philosopher and statesman, and the other by an Italian Franciscan priest.

Demonomania 1

Jean Bodin (1530-1596) espoused a number of unconventional views regarding religion and the state: he opposed papal influence over government, and was an early proponent of religious tolerance. On the topic of witchcraft, however, he was less forgiving. De la démonomanie des sorciers was first published in 1580; pictured here is a 1587 revision, one of ten that were printed between 1580 and 1604. In it, Bodin discusses broad concepts such as deals with the devil and the sabbat, as well as histories of individual sorcerers. He further describes at length his recommendations for legal procedure against accused sorcerers. At the time, the Parlement of Paris required one of three forms of evidence in order to proceed to interrogation: tangible evidence such as a written pact with the devil; a confession made freely (which is to say, not under torture); or witness testimony confirming an act of sorcery. Bodin felt that these rules were too strict, and that too many sorcerers were escaping execution: in the Démonomanie , he advocates that these rules be relaxed, under the belief that rumors of sorcery nearly always prove true.

Demonomania 2

Our second book is by Ludovico Maria Sinistrari (1622-1701), a priest and advisor to the Roman Inquisition. Sinistrari was an influential thinker on sexual sin; he authored works on homosexuality and sodomy. De daemonalitate et incubis et succubis, the work pictured here, did not see print in Sinistrari’s lifetime; the first publication of this 1680 manuscript was in Paris in 1875, with a French translation alongside the original Latin. (Houghton Library’s copy is of the second edition, from the following year.) It treats of demons and their exorcism, and particularly of incubi and succubi. In Sinistrari’s view, these beings are driven not by demonic motivation but by carnal desire; they also possess the human quality of self-reflection, and are somewhere between humans and true devils. Sinistrari posits that intercourse between an incubus and a human woman produces an unnatural, hybridized being; among his condemnations of Martin Luther is his accusation that Luther was the spawn of a devil. De daemonalitate, then, is an extended reflection on how the otherworldly and the erotic interact; the sexuality of demons is among the many links that interrelate Santo Domingo’s major collecting areas.

Jean Bodin. De la démonomanie des sorciers. Paris: Chez Iacques dv-Puys … , 1587.  FC5.B6324.580df (B).

Ludovico Maria Sinistrari. De la démonialité et des animaux incubes et succubes. Paris: Isidore Liseux, 1876. BF1556.S5 1876.

Thanks to rare book cataloger Ryan Wheeler for contributing this post.

MS Am 1118_5_B155

Launched on October 23, 2013, the Emily Dickinson Archive (EDA) celebrates its first year of operation today, during Open Access Week.

The site received 1.2 million “hits” from poetry lovers in its first 10 days; after a year, monthly usage averages 10,000 visits and 377,000 page views per month.  About 80% of visitors are from English-speaking countries, with the rest coming from Italy, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Japan, China, India, Sudan, Pakistan, and other countries world-wide.

Favorite poems vary from month to month, driven by use of EDA in secondary schools as well as college and university courses.  But some poems appear frequently: “Because I could not stop for Death“; “My Life had stood ­ a Loaded Gun­”; “I’m Nobody! Who are you?“; ” ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers–“; “I dwell in Possibility–“; and “The Soul selects her own Society–“.

Houghton Library collaborated with the American Antiquarian Society, Amherst College, Boston Public Library, the Library of Congress, Smith College, Vassar College and Beinecke Library, Yale University, on this first release of the site. Since then, images have been contributed by Dumbarton Oaks (a manuscript believed lost); Morgan Library & Museum, New York Public Library (Berg Collection and Manuscripts and Archives), and The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. More images are in the works, and these will be added in a second release, scheduled for early 2015.

Image above: Emily Dickinson to Susan Huntington Dickinson, [December 1880] Pencil; 1p. Begins: Birthday of but a single pang… Sent to Susan Dickinson on her 19th birthday. JL 679, J 1488, Fr 1541. Houghton Library MS Am 1118.5 (B155).

Mob Stories

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

Mafia at WarDetailing the early 1970s mob scene Mafia at War is an interesting and thorough read.  Published by New York Magazine, this book gives an in depth chronology of the mob bosses from the early 1900s to the early 1970s.  Split into time segments with a focus on who was the current boss at the time, one can follow the violence and death that surrounds the mob.  Mafia at War takes a decidedly negative view of gang warfare, specifically calling out the misconception that mobsters only kill other mobsters.  Presented as a historical overview of mob warfare, this book includes everything from photographs of mafia members to crime scene photos, to beautiful paintings of famous mob hits.  Also included in the back are maps of which mafia holds jurisdiction in each New York City borough as well as in the continental United States.Mafia at War

One of the most interesting sections of this publication is the artists’ depictions of famous mob murders.    A collection of images by painters and illustrators active in New York City at the time, Mafia at War features such artists as Harvey Dinnerstein, James McMullan and Paul Davis.   Each image is accompanied by a story about the murder and the background of the mob boss involved. Mafia at WarMafia at War

The Mafia at war, by Thomas Plate and the editors of New York magazine. With contributions by Nicholas Pileggi [and others] New York New York Magazine Press 1972 is available in Widener Library Collection.


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


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