Feed on

Hello world!

With this blog we hope to draw attention to the intriguing and remarkably rare items discovered by Harvard Library users during the course of their research. Harvard Library Preservation routinely reviews books returned through circulation, knowing that these returns include a surprising numbers of works that are too deteriorated to survive continued use, and are that too rare and interesting not to share online with the Harvard community, and beyond.

Titles are selected for digitization through various criteria such as rarity, condition, use, research relevance, and/or visual content. We invite you to peruse the titles posted here as well as subscribe to our feeds and see what titles queued for digitization, as well as those already completed and online.

Discover, Connect, and Comment!


                           J.P. Morgan ‘either a Caesar or nothing’

Carlo de Fornaro (1872 – 1949), was an artist, humorist, writer, editor, and revolutionary. In 1902, he published a volume of caricatures entitled “Millionaires of Amer­ica“. Fornaro acknowledged his caricatures might not be well-received by some of the most powerful men in the United States, so he placed a notice at the front of the volume “All the responsibilities incurred by the printing and the publication of these cari­catures and resulting in suits for lese majeste, etc., will be borne entirely by Mr. Carlo de Fornaro.”

The New York Times review of the book (January 10, 1903)

“Perhaps it is well that some one should come out and ‘’stand for” the collection of pictures burlesquing certain well-known citizens of this town and some of whom, it is reported, have already lost their tem­per over the manner in which they have been depicted. To be caricatured, how­ever, is one of the penalties of greatness, even when that greatness merely consists in the possession of great wealth. When caricatures are true to life, as in many cases in the present instance, there is no denying that the public derive a certain satisfaction from seeing the victim writhe. Therefore, perhaps the eminent citizens whose counterfeit presentments are to be found in the book, might better conceal their chagrin and take it all good-humor­edly. Such was Pliny’s advice to the vic­tims of caricature in ancient days.

The present works are somewhat in the style of Fellegrini. Whose drawings, pub­lished svrtce 1862 in London Vanity Fair, are the most remarkable of iheir kind which have appeared since the superb gro­tesques of Honors Daumier. The volume embraces caricatures in color of A. G. Vanderbilt, Russell Sage, J. P. Morgan. Andrew Carnegie, W. C. Whitney, J. .1. Hill. George Gould. Col. J. J. Aster. O. H. P. Belmont, Charles M. Schwab. Tom L. Johnson, and Senator W. A. Clark.”

Journalist Bernard Gallant described Fornaro as:

“A very unique and interesting character. He was born in Calcutta, India, and reared in Italy and Switzerland. He is a scion of an old Italian family and is a member of the family of Pope Alexander VI. His education he received at the Royal Academy of Munich and came to this country twenty years ago. When he grew tired of dear, old New York with its glittering electric signs, he went to Mexico. That was in 1906. Instead of painting the picturesque scenes of that marvelous country, as he contemplated, he published a newspaper for more than three years, giving the Mexicans a taste of real Metropolitan journalism. That marked Fornaro’s entrance into the field of the Mexican revolution and he has been a loyal champion of the revolutionists ever since.

In appearance Fornaro looks very much like a Jesuit priest and keeps the hours of a brigand. He sleeps most of the day and wanders from cafe to cafe most of the night. With the fair sex he is most charming and gallant, but is galling bitter when he portrays them with pen or brush. But he is far from being a woman hater. Oddly enough, regardless of his cafe life, Fornaro indulges in nothing stronger than water.”

In the end, Fornaro did not experience any serious legal ramifications for his caricatures, but he eventually did so with a subsequent book focused on the corruption and brutalities of the Diaz Mexican government. His book “Diaz, Czar of Mexico; an arraignment, by Carlo de Fornaro with an open letter to Theodore Roosevelt” resulted in a prosecution and suit for criminal libel. He was convicted and sentenced to one year in the famous ‘Tombs’ prison in New York City. He took his unfortunate circumstances to record and eventually publish a book on his personal experience inside the New York penal system, as well as inserting some caustic commentary on American justice.

             Andrew Carnegie and his diminutive stature

                   John Jacob Astor ‘leisure with dignity’


Fornaro, Carlo de. Millionaires of America. New York : Published by the Medusa Pub Co., 1902.
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University


In a show of unity between allies, the United States celebrated its Independence Day in London on July 4, 1918. While the First World War was still raging, and a German surrender months away, Americans united with the British to commemorate the 4th of July together. The celebration in London was a way to further galvanize a strong military alliance, but also an opportunity to demonstrate to the world a political bond of two superpowers that would be both formidable and enduring. The events of the day were described by the publishing magnate and American Civil War veteran, George Haven Putnam, in this Library of War Literature pamphlet.


On the 4th of July, 1918, for the first time in history, America’s Independence Day was officially celebrated in London and throughout England by the English people. This commemoration of the national holiday of the United States was, in more ways than one, noteworthy and could but stir the blood of every loyal American who realized the meaning of the kinship between the two countries. London was ablaze with flags, the Stars and Stripes intertwined with the Union Jack, and in many places with the tricolour. Meetings were held in a number of the clubs and other centres throughout the town, the most important for the general public being that in the great Central Hall at Westminster. Thousands of American soldiers were in England, most of whom were spending their first Independence Day away from their native soil. The vessels of the American Navy were operating along the British coast in close companionship with the ships of their British Allies. American troops were fighting in France, brigaded with the veterans of Great Britain. In London, and throughout England, clubs, rest-houses, and canteens had been organized for the benefit of the guests from overseas. A spirit of brotherhood was in the air. In London there was a series of luncheons and dinners, and the Londoner who could not secure one or more Yankees on whom to bestow his hospitality felt defrauded.


Interestingly, the day was highlighted by a baseball game! King George with Queen Mary and other royalty, including Winston Churchill, watched and cheered for a cerermonial “baseball match” between American soldiers and sailors. As described:


Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the commemoration
was the game of baseball fought out, and very well
fought out, between men selected from the divisions of the American
Army and from the sailors of the American Navy who were
at the time within reach of London. King George honoured the
boys with his presence, and the King’s example was, naturally,
followed by hundreds of representatives of the “best society”
and by forty thousand other good Englishmen who were ready
to admire, and who did their best to understand, the fine points
in the excellent playing of the Yankee experts…


Winston Churchill, who was present at the the game, played a prominent role in the events of the day, giving a stirring speech.


…We therefore feel no sense of division in celebrating this anniversary. We join in perfect sincerity and in perfect simplicity with our American kith and kin in commemorating the auspicious and glorious establishment of their nationhood. We also, we British who have been so long in the struggle, also express our joy and gratitude for the mighty and timely aid which America has brought and is bringing to the Allied Cause…The line is clearly drawn between the nations where the peoples own the governments and the nations where the governments own the peoples. Our struggle is between systems which faithfully endeavor to quell and quench the brutish, treacherous, predatory promptings of human nature, and a system which has deliberately fostered, organized, armed, and exploited these promptings to its own base aggrandizement. We are all erring mortals. No race, no country, no individual, has a monopoly of good or of evil, but face to face with the facts of this war, who can doubt that the struggle in which we are engaged is in reality a struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil?


Actual footage of King George’s arrival at the baseball game, along with some game action, has been preserved. Originally recorded on a newsreel by British Pathé.


Original newsreel footage of King George’s arrival at the baseball game



A declaration of interdependence :commemoration in London in 1918 of the 4th of July, 1776 : resolutions and addresses at the Central Hall, Westminster. New York : Library of War Literature, [1918].
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University



In October of 1896, the New York Times reported the recent arrest of Joseph Ullman, claiming him to be the ‘greatest bookmaker’ in the U.S. He, along with his sheetmakers, were arrested by the storied “vice fighter” and enforcer of public morality, Anthony Comstock, for gambling violations. Ironically, the period 1895-1908 was considered the golden age for New York horse racing and gambling, in spite of the enactment of the Percy-Grey law of 1895. Loopholes in the act allowed for flagrant disregard for the law’s original intent for curbing gambling, resulting in rampant and conspicuous bookmaking activity. Horse racing was extremely popular at the turn of the century, being referred to as “The Sport of Kings”, but eventually the sport dropped from 314 racetracks to a mere 25 in 1908. In spite of his legal entanglements, Ullman continued to be a legendary bookie or turf accountant, publishing an insiders view of bookmaking stories in 1903. Ullman explains the origins of the book:

Of all known sports, undoubtedly none
has gained such popular favor as RACING,
usually termed “The Sport of Kings,” and of
all the places in the world, there is none
where one may study human nature in the
same manner as at the race track.
When one realizes that during the hours of
from two to five every afternoon, there is a
daily exchange between the public and the
bookmakers of from two to three million
dollars, and with a daily attendance of from
ten to forty thousand people, there happen
very many ludicrous incidents and funny sayings.

A number of bookmakers, including myself,
were dining one evening at a celebrated
cafe, and began telling comical stories and
humorous episodes. My experience of
twenty-eight years on the turf had taught me…Hey, Joe,
what’s the odds, a book of these yarns
wouldn’t be a go ?

The book is a collection of true or fabled stories about the world of bookmakers. The New York Times Book Review was not so kind with its evaluation of Ullman’s work.

“When a bookmaker makes a book it is not usually literature. And this book of Mr. Ullman’s is no more literature than the other books he has made at the race track”

Ullman’s life was a rags to riches to rags story. Ullman was an orphan who started out working as a newsboy before moving into the gambling world. His operation was known as “The Big Store”, taking in bets of $100,000. Later in his life, Ullman suffered major financial losses, particularly investing in an opera company that failed miserably. Soon afterwards, he suffered a mental and physical breakdown, eventually being placed in an insane asylum where he died in 1908.


Ullman, Joseph Frederick. What’s the odds? :funny, true and clean stories of the turf. New York City : Metropolitan Print. Co., c1903.
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University


Entrance into the Chinese Collection at Hyde Park

Nathan Dunn (1782- 1844) was a Quaker merchant and philanthropist who embarked on a mission to collect cultural artifacts from China to both educate and entertain Americans. In 1838, he opened his “Chinese Museum” in Philadelphia, more commonly referred to as Ten Thousand Chinese Things. The collection was a spectacle and quite popular with the public, garnering over 100,000 visitors in its first year. A published guidebook was offered as way to promote the collection and educate visitors. In 1842, after financial troubles, Dunn moved the collection to London, where it was housed in a pagoda-like exhibition hall at Hyde Park Corner. Queen Victoria was its first visitor at the June opening. The collection was equally popular in London, as it was in Philadelphia, with some 70,000 to 80,000 catalogs sold in the U.S. and England. This Harvard Library copy of the 1843 revised catalog provides history, background, and a complete list of the exhibits, remaining one of the few resources left to indicate what was in the museum. The collection was unlike any other at its time, apart from artifacts, specimens, and dioramas, the museum also had life-size clay mannequins accurately modeled after some 50 real Chinese acquaintances of Dunn. The collection could be considered a forerunner to museum period rooms, with recreated shops and interiors encompassing all of Chinese society, from mandarins, priests, barbers, shoemakers, soldiers, merchants, and beggars. At its time, collections and exhibitions such as this one were looked upon as possible substitutes for travel abroad. E . C. Wines announced that one no longer had to “subject one’s self to the hazards and privations of a six months’ voyage on distant and dangerous seas, to enjoy a peep at the Celestial Empire.”

The revised catalog for London opens with acknowledgement of the recent Opium War:

The present crisis of affairs in China has awakened in the public
mind a deep and powerful feeling of inquiry towards this singular and
secluded people.
The particular object with which the following pages are so immediately
associated, proving beyond all other means, a useful and pleasing
medium of conveying the information sought for; and the copious
remarks contained in former Catalogues of the Chinese Collection
having been so favourably received by the public (of which upwards of
80,000 copies have been sold), the author has been induced to increase
the size of the present volume by the addition of much original matter,
together with information obtained by an abridgment of the latest and
best authorities.
The object desired in the present publication is to present to the
reader, and the visitor of the Collection, the greatest amount of knowledge
in the smallest possible space.

The Illustrated London News described the exhibition and its significance–

Upon the left-hand side of the inclined plane, extending iron Hyde Park Corner to Knightsbridge, and towards the extremity of St. George’s.-place, a grotesque erection has lately sprung up with all the cupidity which distinguishes the building operations of the present day.  As the work proceeded, many were the guesses at the purpose for which it was intended; and, to feed the suspense of the many thousands who daily pass this thoroughfare, the work was covered with canvas until just completed. The structure in question is the entrance to an extensive apartment filled with “curiosities of China.” In design this entrance is characteristically Chinese, and is taken from the model of a summer residence now in the collection. It is of two stories, the veranda roof of the lower one being supported by vermilion-coloured columns, with pure white capitals, and over the doorway is inscribed, in Chinese characters, “Ten Thousand Chinese Things.” Such summer-houses as the above are usual in the gardens of the wealthy, in the southern provinces of China, often standing in the midst of a sheet of water, and approached by bridges and sometimes they have mother-of- pearl windows. Although the above building in raised from the pathway, whence it is approached by a flight of steps, it is somewhat squatly proportioned. But such is the character of Chinese buildings, so that when the Emperor Kesen-king saw a perspective view of a street in Paris or London, he observed, “that territory must be very small whose inhabitants are obliged to pile their houses to the clouds;” and, in a poem on London, by a Chinese visitor, it is stated,-“The houses are so lofty that you may pluck the stars.”
The collection we are about to notice has been formed by an American gentleman, Mr. Nathan Dunn, who resided in China for a period of twelve years, and experienced more courtesy from the Chinese than generally falls to the lot of foreigners. Mr. Dunn was, moreover, assisted in his labours by Howqua, Tingqua, and other Hong merchants of note and who, in this instance, seemed to rise above the prejudices of their countrymen, in being most “willing to communicate.” The design at first was merely to collect a few rare specimens for a private cabinet; but the appetite grew with what it fed upon, and thus Mr. Dunn has assembled what may, without exaggeration, be termed the Chinese world in miniature . . .

Dunn died in 1844 and the fate of his unique collection still remains somewhat sketchy. Most evidence points to the collection being picked up by showmen, including P.T. Barnum, before it eventually became dispersed through auctions to private collectors and perhaps lost to time.

Replica of an apartment of a Chinese Nobleman

Replica of a bedroom

Examples of furnishings

Chinese lantern

Hatching eggs by artificial heat


Langdon, William B. Ten thousand things relating to China and the Chinese :an epitome of the genius, government, history, literature, agriculture, arts, trade, manners, customs, and social life of the people of the celestial empire, together with a synopsis of the Chinese collection.
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University


James Leon Williams was a dentist, scientist, scholar, artist, and philosopher. While he is most noted as the first to discover plaque and the inventor of modern dentures, he was also a photographer of considerable ability, using photographic techniques for both artistic and scientific purposes. As a scientist, his microphotographic research confirmed the relationship between bacteria and tooth decay. As an artist, he was amongst the few American photographers to fully recognize the photogravure process as not only a technique for reproducing photographs, but an artform in its own right. Williams’ work is most akin to the school of photography founded by Peter Henry Emerson, where creating an atmospheric composition with soft peripheral focus would most closely resemble nature. He produced two fine photogravure picture books, “The Home and haunts of Shakespeare” (1892), and “The land of Sleepy Hollow and the home of Washington Irving” (1887). His work on the home of Washington Irving was a collaborative effort with the well known Irving illustrator, Felix Darley. The book celebrates the work of Washington Irving, his literary importance and enduring popularity.

According to his biographer, George Wood Clapp, “Dr. Williams seems equally at home with the microscope, the pen, the palette, and the graver. He is at once a student, a writer, a scientist, an artist, and a sculptor. Above all, he is a philosopher.”

According to H.M. Cartwright, historian of photomechanical processes, “Of all photoengraving methods there is none which produces such rich and satisfying results as photogravure. The reason for this is to be found in the method of printing. It is an intaglio process and, therefore, the quantity of ink which is transferred to the paper can be considerable, and it shares with mezzotint among hand engraving processes the resulting richness of tones.”


Irving, Washington. The land of Sleepy Hollow and the home of Washington Irving :a series of photogravure representations, with descriptive letter-press. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1887.
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University




In the 1590’s, the Dutch explored the Arctic regions looking for a sea passage to Asia. While their aspirations for a lucrative northeast passageway was never realized, the voyages did provide an unanticipated benefit for the growing Dutch economy. In addition to noting the proliferation of polar bears and walruses, these arctic expeditions sighted large quantities of whales off the coast of Spitsbergen and across the Greenland Sea. These revelations encouraged the Dutch to commit significant resources towards shipbuilding and naval supremacy, with the expectation of countless riches from the trade of whaling products. The British and French were unable to keep up with the Dutch, both in finance and capital to support this venture. The Dutch became the preeminent whalers of the 17th and early 18th century, killing some 30,000 whales, making huge profits, and establishing the Netherlands as the center of the whaling industry. Having a near monopoly on whaling, the Dutch kept the prices artificially high across Europe.

Much of our understanding of whaling at this time comes from the publications of Cornelis Gijsbertsz Zorgdrager, a Dutch navigator born around 1660, who commanded a number of whaling ships during this period of Dutch growth and dominance. Recognizing the proliferation of stories, fables, and legends regarding whaling, Zorgdrager decided to publish his own research and observations from his whaling days. His works showed how ships ought to be equipped, where whales and other sea inhabitants were to be found, and how to hunt and render the animals amidst ice floes and treacherous seas. He provides considerable detail about ships, on board provisions, equipment, hunting apparatus, and catches across the northern fishing areas and small coastal encampments. In addition to the general map of the northern regions, there are among others, maps of Iceland and of Greenland, as well as plates of various wildlife.

“My profession for several years having been fishing in Greenland, I felt obliged to acquire the knowledge and training they require… I noted very carefully in my annual register all the remarkable events that had come to me in order to have an accurate idea of ​​my operations.” -Zorgdrager

Dutch supremacy in whaling over other European competitors like France, Germany and Britain eventually diminished in the second half of the 18th century as those countries became more powerful as a result of their colonial exploits.


The perilous hunt on the open waters

Narwhal skeletons often thought to be related to unicorns

Bowhead or right whale, the most desired for hunting

Depictions of walrus and sperm whale

Illustration of ships trapped in the ice


Persistent Link:
Zorgdrager, Cornelis Gijsbertsz. Cornelius Gisbert Zorgdragers Beschreibung des Grönländischen Wallfischfangs und Fischerey :nebst einer gründlichen Nachricht von dem Bakkeljau- und Stockfischfang bey Terreneuf, und einer kurzen Abhandlung von Grönland, Island, Spitzbergen, Nova Zembla, Jan Mayen Eiland, der Strasse Davids u.a. ; aus dem holländischen übersetzt, und mit accuraten Kupfern und Land-Charten gezieret.
Widener Library
Harvard University


police wagon2

Outside of the Doctor Who program, the police call box kiosk has become obsolete, not unlike the iconic telephone booth. However, the use of call boxes, or call stations, was cutting-edge in the 1880’s and dramatically changed the way in which police and fire departments responded to emergencies. In 1881, the Police Patrol and Signal Service in Chicago installed the first of these stations with direct phone lines back to police stations. These stations resembled guard sentry boxes or kiosks. The kiosks were “keyed” to limit public access and discourage false alarms. Eventually, with increasing demand, stand-alone call boxes were manufactured to easily mount on exterior walls or on lamp posts. Keys were typically issued to the police and occasionally for certain trusted members of the public. The big player in the manufacturing and installation of the alarm systems was the Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph Company (still in existence), becoming notable for their recognizable trademark of a fist with lightning bolts.


By 1886, Gamewell had installed systems throughout 250 American cities. Gamewell also introduced home alarm systems that allowed the homeowner the ability to signal the police for specific criminal acts, including unusual choices such as “drunken servant”. Pamphlets like these were issued to advertise and promote Gamewell equipment and services across the country, often accompanied with endorsement quotes from local police departments or politicians.

According to Gamewell, these stations were

“Placed at the outset in the most turbulent district of the city, it so speedily increased the efficiency of the ” force,” by enabling them to concentrate promptly at any needed point, that, within a few months, the district was as easily cared for and protected as the average districts of the city. Patrolmen soon learned that in case of necessity they, or some one for them, could literally, with the rapidity of lightning, summons assistance from the nearest station, and that they could reckon with certainty on a response. And the criminal and riotous discovered that there was little chance for them where electricity was utilized so successfully in aid of law and its agents.”…..”The telegraph is the one thing that the criminals dread. It circumvents all their skill and their cunning; and this application of it is certain to prove as valuable in municipalities as it has heretofore proved in securing arrests at distant points.”


Two horse police wagon

“The patrol wagons…..furnished with an alarm gong, and under the seats, which run lengthwise on each side of the box, are compartments for handcuffs, come-alongs, clubs, blankets, canvas stretcher, ropes, a medicine chest and other articles necessary and convenient. One of the force accompanying the wagon is an expert, trained in the necessary expedients for resuscitating a case of suspended animation, stopping a flow of blood from a wound, and other temporary appliances for saving life and alleviating misery.”

police alarm1

A private alarm system

A small signal-box is specially constructed, to be placed in private residences, banks, hotels, or business offices to be connected directly with the system. When a signal-box is placed in a private residence, a key of the house is left at the station under seal. In case the occupants of the house have occasion, at any time, to call for assistance of the police, they can do so by simply pulling the hook attached to the box, and they can also indicate the nature of their want by using any one of ten different signals ; that is, they may indicate burglars, drunken servant, fire, etc. 

The call station street kiosk

The street station shown is very extensively used; it is octagonal in shape, with pointed top, two feet four inches in diameter, and about eight feet in height. The top being made of glass and iron, it takes the place of a lamp post, and the gas or other lamp is placed upon the top, serving not only as a street light, but to light the interior of the station at night.

Stand-alone wall box

From the report of Alonzo Bowman, Chief of Police, January 31, 1888: 
“The Electric Police Signal (the Gamewell System) and Telephone System has been in operation now some four months, and may be considered a success. An average of one hundred and twenty-five signals are sent into the station every twenty-four hours from the street boxes by the sergeants and patrolmen on street duty. Officers on patrol duty are required to signal from the boxes on their routes every hour, and on some routes oftener, the record being kept at the Chief’s office averaging thirty eight hundred per month.”

[Police equipment. :Pamphlet box.]. [1889-1892].
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University

To some people, the thought of hitting the exercise treadmill every day would be a cruel and unusual punishment. Ironically, this response is much closer to the the truth than might be expected. The actual invention of the treadmill, in 1818, by the Englishman William Cubit was meant for use in prisons as a correctional tool. Concerned that prisoners were too idle, he engineered mechanical treadmill systems that would enforce daily activity as well produce useful work. Cubitt’s treadmills, or “tread-wheels”, required the prisoner to continually step upwards upon a rotating wooden cylinder or within a wheel-like form, not unlike a hamster on an exercise wheel. Prisoners would hold onto a horizontal handrail for stability. These treadmills became very popular in Victorian England with larger models developed to accommodate several prisoners side by side for upwards of 10 hours per day (the equivalent of climbing a 12,000 ft mountain). While the initial intent for the treadmill was punishment, and it was often used solely for that purpose, it also became a standard way to grind grain or pump water for the prison facility. Somewhat popular in America, correctional facilities gradually stopped using the treadmill in favor of even more severe “hard labor” options, such as breaking rocks, clearing swamps, or bricklaying. Eventually, even England abandoned the treadmill at the end of the 19th century as too cruel.

“I have to certify to the court, that the Tread-mill has been in full operation
 ever since the last Midsummer Sessions, and on an average from
 seventy-five to eighty prisoners have been daily employed on the Wheels, 
the proportion of females being very small, not amounting to more than ten 
or twelve at any time, and generally not exceeding six or eight. The male 
prisoners, when at work, are three fourths on the Wheels, and one-fourth 
at rest; the females, one half on the Wheel, and the other half at rest;
 and during the six months the Mill has been at work, I have never heard 
of one prisoner, male or female, receiving any injury, either in their limbs 
or general health, and as far as I am capable of forming a judgment, I consider the labour at the Tread-mill not as injurious, but conducive to the health of the prisoners.”

A cross section of the treadmill showing the handles

“If any prisoner or prisoners are observed to be talking while 
on the Tread-wheel, they are deprived of their next turn for 
rest. Two officers are in constant attendance at the time”

A listing of dietaries for the prisoners at English prisons

For the Horsley House of Correction the daily intake was —
“One pound and a half of bread, one pint and a half of gruel, and one pound and a half of potatoes per day”

Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline and for the Reformation of Juvenile Offenders (London, England). Description of the tread mill for the employment of prisoners :with observations on its management. London : Printed by T. Bensley, 1823.
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University


Tse Tsan-tai (1872-1938) was known as a revolutionary, newspaperman, social and political reformer, scholar, businessman, journalist, inventor, historian, and Christian theologian. Born in Sydney and baptised James Yee, Tse moved to Hong Kong with his family where he received his formal education. As a young revolutionary, he started the Furen Literary Society, espousing the guiding principals of “Open up the People’s Minds“, and “Love your Country with all your heart“. The society advocated the overthrow of the Qing government and the establishment of a new republic for China. After his society’s attempts failed, Tse turned to the newspaper and other publications to broadcast his message to the world. He published The Situation in the Far East, a political cartoon cautioning against European ambition to partition China. In 1903, Tse co-founded the South China Morning Post with Alfred Cunningham, which still remains an important publication in Hong Kong. In addition to these political activities, Tse was also credited as the first Chinese to invent and fly an airship.

Being a Chinese Christian was difficult and dangerous at the turn of the 20th century. During the Boxer rebellion and into World War I, numerous Christian missionaries were massacred. Nonetheless, Tse considered himself equally a patriot and a Christian, remaining steadfast and undeterred by the risks. Furthermore, he embarked on a controversial theory that the origin of Eden was actually in China. He believed that this deposition might force various factions to reconcile and stop further violence.

In 1914, Tse published The Creation, the Garden of Eden and the Origin of the Chinese, in which he attempted to prove, based on the geographical description in the Bible, that the Garden of Eden was located in China.

And, during my study of the Bible and Ancient 
Chinese History, on Sunday the 25th October, 1914, 
I discovered a clue to the unravelling of the mystery, 
and it suddenly dawned upon me, like a flash of light, 
that the Cradle of the Human Race was not where it 
is now reputed and believed to be, but, in Chinese 
Turkestan in the plateau of Eastern Asia, 
and also that the Chinese race originated there. 
I felt so happy and delighted with my discovery, 
that I immediately followed up the clue, and commenced 
writing this, my book, and forgetting food and sleep, 
finished the draft at 8 a.m., on Wednesday, the 28th October, 1914,
when the thunder pealed and the lightning flashed. 
The revision and re-writing of my book was completed 
after seven days and seven nights ceaseless labour, 
on the Ist November, 1914, after which, I rested for three days. 
I know that without God’s inspiration and help, it would 
have been impossible for me to write this book as I have done. 

Tse’s book tried to eliminate the notion that Christianity in China was a device of Western powers, especially at a time when the West was strong-arming a weak China into making coastal concessions. Tse places the location of Eden in the far west of China, known as Chinese Turkestan.

Tse Tsan Tai also supported the reformation of traditional time-honored practices in China. He worked with Alicia Little, a British novelist, missionary, and reformer, to eradicate the practice of foot binding. This particular copy at Harvard was sent to Alicia Little by Tse to help promote his Eden theory. The accompanied letters are tipped in at the beginning of the book.

Tse Tsan Tai. The creation :the real situation of Eden, and the origin of the Chinese. Hongkong : Kelly & Walsh, Ltd., printers and publishers, 1914. 
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University

Dr. E.G. (Ernest Goodrich) Stillman, son of successful banker James Stillman, received degrees from Harvard and Columbia before pursuing a career in medical research. A devoted philanthropist and conservationist, Stillman was a generous benefactor of Harvard University. Like many Americans at the end of the 19th century, Stillman was drawn to Japan for its art, literature, culture, and history. During a trip to Japan in 1905, he purchased some 5,000 objects, including prints, photographs, books, and pamphlets. In the 1940s, Stillman made a large gift to the university, including a number of items from his personal collection of materials relating to Japan. Some of the photograph albums he donated contain hand-colored albumen prints taken by notable photographers such as Felice Beato, Baron Raimund von Stillfried, Kusakabe Kimbei, and Tamamura Kozaburo. These photo albums were popular souvenir items for foreign tourists. The albums would often include images of priests, pilgrims, actors, singers, street vendors, along with representative locations ranging from the urban markets to parks and gardens to spiritual shrines.

In this two album set from the Meiji period are scenic views of Tokyo, Koganei, Yokohama, Kamakura, Kobe, Matsushima Bay, and Awaji Island. Beautiful photographs of natural scenery, people, daily life, traditional customs, with iconic images of cherry trees, gardens, temples, shrines, teahouses, ferries, and rickshaws.

In another three album composite souvenir set are photographs taken in and around the inland city of Nikko, with an emphasis on the historic Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.


Japanese photographs of the Meiji period [graphic]. 1868-1897? 2 albums. 
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University


Photographs relating to Japan, 1898 [graphic]. ca. 1880-ca. 1895. 3 albums. 
Persistent Link:
Widener Library
Harvard University


A slideshow of this collection is available at: 

Stillman Photograph Albums of Japan – Slideshow


Additional information on E.G. Stillman’s collections and access to the photograph albums is available at:

Harvard College Library-Early Photography of Japan



Older Posts »