November 24th, 2015

Examining “the Beat”

Beatnik 1

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

The arrival of the Beat Generation generated controversy, conversation, and in some cases literature; for some onlookers, though, it was mostly a source of opportunity. Hence Beatnik, which promises “an uncensored, unexpurgated exposé of the ‘Beat Generation’”, “profusely illustrated with candid action photos”.  Inside is a series of accounts, all by the publisher, Heater Wall, of the Beats’ debauchery and disillusionment. “BEATNIK BABE BURNED! COOL PARTY PINCHED!  BEAT BATTERS BATTY BROAD! SEX SILLY SIRENS SAPPED! DELOUSE DOPE DIZZY DAMES!” blares the headline of one article, giving the reader a sense of the writing’s lurid flavor.

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November 23rd, 2015

A Revere-d Colonial Cookbook

52407793+We don’t have the recipes that the Pilgrims used for the first Thanksgiving feast, but we can gain some insight about the food preparation practices of the Boston colonists of 150 years later, thanks to the survival of cookbooks like Susannah Carter’s The Frugal Housewife, or Complete Woman Cook (1772), just the second cookbook printed in America. Carter was English, and only in later editions did distinctively American dishes like pumpkin pie begin to appear, but her book was highly influential and went through numerous editions in the late 18th and early 19th centuries before cookbooks by American authors began to predominate.


In addition to its collection of recipes and household hints, the book includes two illustrations by a man then best known as a silversmith and engraver, Paul Revere. (Click images to enlarge)

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Cookbooks, like many other books designed for practical, everyday use, tend to survive in small numbers. Houghton’s copy of The Frugal Housewife is one of just five held in libraries today.

[John Overholt, Curator of the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson, and Early Modern Books & Manuscripts, contributed this post.]

November 19th, 2015

Father of criminology

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

Img0026Cesare Lombroso was an Italian physician and criminologist who founded the Italian School of Positivist Criminology.  Lombroso’s theory of anthropological criminology was a mix of the concepts of Social Darwinism, physiognomy, psychiatry, and degeneration theory.  Essentially he believed that people inherited criminal behavior and that these “born criminals” could be identified by specific physical anomalies.  For example he thought that a sloping forehead, ears of unusual size, asymmetry of the face, excessive length of arms, and asymmetry of the cranium signaled a return to a more primitive man reminiscent of the apes who couldn’t grasp the expectations and rules of modern society, which led them to criminal behavior.


He reached these conclusions from years of doing postmortem exams and anthropometric studies on a combination of criminals, the insane, and “normal” individuals.  Lombroso thought that specific types of criminals such as murderers, rapists, and thieves could each be identified by a specific characteristic.  His research methods were very clinically descriptive, but not a great deal of statistical comparisons of criminals versus non-criminals or any social effects on criminal behavior.

Lombroso published L’uomo di genio in 1899 in his native Italian and our French translated version of L’homme de genie is from 1909.  Translated into English both titles are known as The Man of Genius.  In the volume Lombroso states that artistic genius was essentially a form of hereditary insanity.  These fold-out plates that are at the end of the text explore the size and shape of skulls and brains, as well as signatures of these “men of genius. “

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This volume can be found in Widener’s collection.

L’homme de genie / par Cesare Lombroso ; traduite sur la VIme ed. italienne par Fr. Colonna D’Istria agrege de philosophie et M. Calderini et precedee d’une preface de Mr. Ch. Richet Professeur a la faculte de Medecine de Paris. Paris : Felix Alcan, 1909.

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

November 17th, 2015

Printers on Ice

EB7.A100.740m(detail)The Thames’ frost fairs of the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries are well-documented (as well as featured in two Dr. Who episodes). They occurred during Britain’s Little Ice Age, when winters were cold enough to freeze over parts of the Thames. During them, when the ice was thick enough and lasted long enough, Londoners would take to the river for travel, trade and amusement in the form of public festivals and fairs. Among the more outlandish occurrences on the ice were bull-baiting, the roasting of whole oxen, the erecting of taverns, games of football, horse-drawn coaches, and even visiting elephants. One highly entertaining activity was the printing and selling of keepsakes:

There may you also this hard Frosty Winter,
See on the Rocky Ice a Working PRINTER,
Who hopes by his own Art to reap some gain,
Which he perchance does think he may obtain.

Great Britain’s wonder, or, London’s admiration.
[London] : Printed by M. Haly, and J. Millet …, 1684.

The men who dragged their presses onto the ice and produced these keepsakes were a competitive lot, each trying to offer the most enticing product. Some of the sheets were engraved, others were letterpress. Verses were borrowed liberally from one another, apt woodcuts added to the popular appeal, and blank spaces would be filled in with the names of individual recipients. Given the ephemeral nature of these bits of paper, it is not surprising that few survive. Of the six recently acquired by Houghton, five were previously unrecorded.
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November 12th, 2015

Student life, 1864 Austrian edition

As a cataloger in a university library, naturally student life is of particular interest. So when I ran across Johann Strauss Jr.’s waltz Studentenlust (Students’ Joy), the cover illustration delighted me. The guy in the center is inked slightly darker, and clearly meant to be the focus: but what of his joys? A pipe, a fencing foil, books, his beloved serenading him on a guitar, dancing of course, and, well, hard to ignore, BEER! A flying beer keg appears to be steered by a naughty little fellow clothed only in ivy, while a poor harassed professor clings on for dear life behind. Hmmm, any of this seem familiar?

TS 552. title page

TS 552. title page

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

November 12th, 2015

Jesus Junk

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


The Daily Planet publication appears to be somewhat of a mystery.  It is clearly a reference to the famed Daily Planet newspaper from the Superman franchise, but I couldn’t find any further information about the title.  Published in California, presumably in the 1970s, we have two issues from 1971.  The content of both issues is vastly different, though the connecting thread seems to be satire of any popular news or topic of the moment.  For instance the October 1971 issue heavily mocks religion, in particular Christianity.

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There is an extensive article regarding Billy Graham, which mocks his fame and fortune, presumably made on the back of saving souls according to the author.

Img0025 And if you are in the market for Jesus merchandise there is a two-page spread regarding various Jesus products from statues to games to a collapsing cup (for holy water only!)


To learn more the Daily Planet can be found in Widener’s collection. Daily PlanetSan Mateo, California : Daily Planet.

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

November 10th, 2015

Demons, dames, and devices: DAMES

For the second in our series on Big Data (Demons are here) in John Ward’s collection of Strauss family dance music (surely a present-day Strauss would even now be writing a Data-Crunching Waltz!) we turn to images of women. The accomplished young lady beguiling long family evenings at her keyboard, or livening up a gathering à la Mary Bennet, was a major exponent of these piano arrangements, and the shrewd engravers at Viennese music publishers duly targeted her and her admirers. The ideal woman was bound to change her shape, dress, milieu, dreams and habits between the 1830’s and 1870’s, and we can track this through her representations on the covers of these scores.

TS 552. title page

TS 552. title page

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November 10th, 2015

Now they’ll sleep

Dreams 1

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

The influence of drugs on literary output is in evidence throughout the Santo Domingo Collection, but the volume pictured here wears that influence with unusual prominence: pictured on the publisher’s book-cloth binding is a cluster of opium poppies. In case the reader isn’t horticulturally inclined, the title of the work is Dreams, or, Lessons from the poppy fields. (The title on the cover is Dreams, by a dreamer; bibliographic research identifies the dreamer as author Nettie Elizabeth Bryson.) Perhaps surprisingly, the text itself makes no explicit mention of opium or its effects, but the dreamlike narrative, treading a path somewhere between philosophy and melodrama, bears the poppy’s mark as well.

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November 5th, 2015

Witches Sabbath


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

Tableau de l’insonstances des mauuais anges et demons was published in 1612 and shines a light on the European witch trials of the 16th and 17th-centuries.  It was written by Pierre De Lancre, a magistrate, who was part of a royal commission sent out by Henry IV to “cleanse” the area of witches.  The volume is divided into six books or “discourses” in which De Lancre describes his own experiences in the Basque region of France, as well as details from original trial records which were destroyed in the 18th-century.  The volume also contains one of the more detailed accounts of the Witches Sabbath that survives.  What exactly is a Witches Sabbath?  Essentially a meeting of witches where they honor their relationship with Satan, which is displayed in this lovely engraving located within the second discourse of the volume.

Img0024I decided to take a closer look at some of the images in the engraving.  We can see a depiction of Satan who is seated in a gilded chair and has taken on the shape of a goat with five horns (one of which is lit presumably for the Witches Sabbath). Img0025

Beneath the image of Satan we can see this depiction of a sorcerer who is arriving to the Sabbath on a goat with children he has abducted, which will then be offered up to Satan.  It also states that once the Sabbath is over these same sorcerer’s who came on brooms and beasts will take to the air to excite storms and tempests elsewhere in the world.


There is also an image that might more traditionally fit our perception of witches gathered around a cauldron.  They are making a strong potion (or poison) that will kill men.  You can see one witch holds snakes and toads in her hand to throw into the pot while the third dutifully works a bellows on the fire, which is obviously fueled by human skulls.

Look out for witches, especially on flying goats!

Tableav de l’inconstance des mavvais anges et demons, ov il est amplement traicté des sorciers, & de la sorcelerie / Pierre de Lancre. Paris, N. Bvon, 1612.  FC6.L2293.612ta (B)

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

November 4th, 2015

New on OASIS in November

The finding aid for one newly cataloged collection, and preliminary box lists for two recent acquisitions, were added to the OASIS database this month. For more on Houghton’s acquisition of the Maurice Blanchot papers, see here.

Processed by Irina Klyagin:
Diaghilev, Serge, 1872-1929, recipient. Letters to Serge Diaghilev from various correspondents, 1916-1929 (MS Thr 1140)

New preliminary box lists for collections processed by Melanie Wisner:

New Directions Publishing Corp. additional records, 2012-2015 (2015M-62)

Maurice Blanchot Papers, circa 1950-2003 (MS Fr 662)

Espace Litteraire

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