June 25th, 2015

Unlocking Spirituality

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

DMTPeople have always been fascinated with the idea of a soul.  One researcher, Rick Strassman, took this interest to the extreme and performed government approved research using the psychedelic drug N,N-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, also known as the spirit molecule.  A short acting and highly powerful hallucinogenic drug, DMT is both synthesizable from the plant ayahuasca as well as being naturally occurring in the pineal gland of mammals.  The study follows 60 human volunteers taking this drug and the book DMT: The Spirit Molecule details their personal experiences during the experiment.  Strassman undertook this study due to his interest in the pineal gland as a potential biological locus for spiritual experiences.  Although the study was ended in 1995, Strassman believes it was very successful and gathered a wealth of biological and psychological information from it.  Rick Strassman is a currently practicing psychiatrist in New Mexico.  In 2014 he published a second book on the topic, DMT and the soul of prophecy: a new science of spiritual revelation in the Hebrew Bible.DMT

Interest in his study was strong and in 2010 a documentary with the same title, DMT: The Spirit Molecule, came out.  The movie follows the same experiment as the book and interviews many experts, including Strassman, on the topic of the powerful psychedelic drug DMT and its potential for unlocking human spirituality.  For further information on this topic, there are also many books on the plant ayahuasca, taken by native people in the Amazon, in the Santo Domingo Collection.

DMT: The Spirit Molecule is available at Widener Library in the Santo Domingo Collection.  DMT and the soul of prophecy: a new science of spiritual revelation in the Hebrew Bible is also available at Harvard in the Andover Theological Library.

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

June 23rd, 2015

Morbid beauty

Morgues 4This post is part of an ongoing series featuring material from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection. 

Of the many altered states of consciousness chronicled in the Santo Domingo Collection, death may be merely the most permanent; as a subject often circumnavigated out of discomfort, fear, superstition, or propriety, it takes its place alongside sexuality and drug use. This striking volume, Morgues, confronts death directly, though not without a sense of beauty.

Keep reading →

June 18th, 2015

Road Trip in the 2 CV!

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

cov1_0021

Introduced by Citroën at a Paris motor show in 1948 the 2 CV remained in production up until 1990.  Originally designed with practicality in mind the initial goal of the 2 CV was to carry a dozen eggs over a bumpy field without cracking any of the eggs.  Similar in appearance to the VW Beetle the 2 CV projects a sort of whimsical charm.

There were a number of 2 CV drivers that journeyed across the world including Henri Lochon and Jacques Cornet.  In 1953 they set out to conquer the Americas and Africa.  En 2 CV : chez les primitifs : Indiens Tarahumaras de la Sierra Mexicaine chronicles Lochon’s time among the Tarahumaras in Mexico.  Interestingly Cornet ended up having to return to France before they reached their first base camp so Lochon carried on with his friend Eric Waubert for this particular leg.  The book describes the adventures and challenges in the 2 CV as well as observations about the Tarahumaras, who were the indigenous peoples.  cov1_0014Though I’m not sure it is an “exceptional psychological document” as the jacket proclaims it does contain information about the social customs and ceremonies of the Tarahumaras.  Clearly Lochon was interested in their culture and shares information about their beliefs throughout the trip. For example he notes that according to tradition the females choose their own husbands.

cov1_0012  cov1_0022

cov1_0010En 2 CV : chez les primitifs : Indiens Tarahumaras de la Sierra Mexicaine / Henri Lochon. Lyon : E. Vinay c1956. F1221.T25L63 1956 can be found in Widener’s collection.

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

June 12th, 2015

Illustrated news from the Crimean War

One of the greatest pleasures in a cataloger’s life is to see their work being used out in the world, particularly when said work transforms one’s original concept of any given cataloged item. I had just such a pleasure this week, when Isabella Bradford, one of the Two Nerdy History Girls, wrote a blog on a piece of illustrated sheet music I had shown her. In presenting it to her, I had droned on and on about London and the rise of chromolithography, and she waved her magic wand and transformed my inauspicious blather into a post on cultural perceptions of Queen Victoria! Such a delight to see images from the Ward Collection adding depth to the cultural record.

M31.A33 C35 1853

M31.A33 C35 1853


Keep reading →

June 11th, 2015

Nourishing Words

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

Whole GrainsWhole Grains is a book edited by Art Spiegelman and Bob Schneider that is composed entirely of quotes.  Even the introduction is just another collection of quotes without any explanatory prose.  The book is made up of four sections, “Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills,” “Earth Ship,” “Alienation Blues,” and “White Light” and the quotes come from every place imaginable.  One page in the “Earth Ship” section has a quote from each Steve McQueen, Walt Whitman, Ronald Regan, the Whole Earth Catalog and a sign in a park in Barcelona.  Although the book does include quotes from both Spiegelman and Schneider, for the most part, it is other people’s words curated by them.Whole Grains

Art Spiegelman was deeply involved in the underground comix movement and worked with famous cartoonists such as Robert Crumb and Bill Griffith.  He published many works including the comic anthology Raw.  He also wrote comics for The New Yorker in the late 90s and early 2000s. Both of his parents were Holocaust survivors and several of his works deal with this.  His most critically acclaimed piece is Mous which deals with the Holocaust and his family history.  Whole Grains is dedicated to his mother after her suicide.  Bob Schneider is also a comic author and screenwriter who currently writes for McSweeny’s.

Whole Grains: A Book of Quotations is in the Santo Doming Collection available at Widener Library.  Other books by Spiegelman such as Co-mix: a retrospective of comics, graphics, and scraps and Maus : a survivor’s tale are available in Harvard’s collections.

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

June 9th, 2015

Wesley’s War Tableaux

Tableaux

While cataloging American Civil War broadsides, I found this playbill advertising Wesley’s War Tableaux, to be presented in Cambridge, Massachusetts at the Lyceum Hall from February 23-25 [1863]. Moving panoramas were large painted scenes on rolls of canvas, framed by a proscenium to hide the mechanism; they were unwound from one roll to another, to create the illusion of movement and the progression of time, and were often accompanied by music.  They became popular public spectacles in the early to mid- 19th century, with touring productions traveling around Europe and America; toy moving panoramas were produced for the home. Subjects included exotic locales, historical events and elaborate rural and urban scenes, such as Henry Lewis’ remarkable Mississippi River panorama. Dioramas included additional figures for a more three-dimensional effect.

The diorama for this spectacle was designed by Truman C. Bartholomew and Preston Wesley. Bartholomew was a scenic artist of note in Boston; in addition to providing scenery for Boston theatres, he produced a Bunker Hill panorama in 1838, and other moving panoramas between 1848 and 1863, depicting such scenes as the Battle of Lexington, a tour of Scotland, and the Kennebec River.  In 1857, with a partner, Chase, he created a three-dimensional “mechanical mirror” of naval battles of the War of 1812, “with 7,000 moving figures in six separate scenes.” [1]

This production, also known as Wesley’s Grand War Picture, has been enhanced with a new attraction:  “Dioramic view of the Merrimac, Monitor and Cumberland … the Merrimac is seen to approach upon her work of destruction in moving water, and the Cumberland actually sinks beneath the waves, before the eyes of the audience.” Other tableaux featured Army battles, the Baltimore Riot featuring the “Bloody Sixth” of Massachusetts, the attack on Fort Sumter; and also “The Negro Regiment at Hilton Head and other scenes in regular order up to the present time,” probably the company of former slaves that became the First South Carolina Volunteers.

The playbill proclaims: “Land and naval engagements are portrayed with a vividness mocking reality. The roar of artillery, the clash of musketry are heard! The advancing armies and their desperate contests are seen, and the fearful work of blood is presented with terrible distinctness!”  This sensationalism probably elicited a strong reaction in the spectator; local regiments were still engaged, and the terrible battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg were only months past.  For more background on panoramas, dioramas and cycloramas, see the Harvard Fine Arts Library’s copy of  Illusions in motion: media archaeology of the moving panorama and related spectacles by Erkki Huhtamo (Cambridge:  MIT Press, 2013).

[1] Arrington, Joseph Earl. “Lewis and Bartholomew’s Mechanical Panorama of the Battle of Bunker Hill.” Old-Time New England  (Fall 1961, vol. 52, no. 186): 50-58. Web. 4 March 2015.

Portland [Maine] : J. S. Staples, printer, [1863?]. US 102.8.5 (27).

Thanks to cataloging assistant Dana Gee for contributing this post.

June 8th, 2015

Houghton Participates in School-to-Work Program

For the third consecutive year, we have had the opportunity to hire a paid intern from the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School (CRLS) to learn about our work by helping end-process our collections.

Cambridge Rindge and Latin junior, Meklit Melaku, assists with the archival housing of the Roosevelt-Derby-Williams papers. The papers concern three generations of the Theodore Roosevelt family. Photo by Vicki Denby.

Cambridge Rindge and Latin junior, Meklit Melaku, assists with the archival housing of the Roosevelt-Derby-Williams papers, MS Am 2835. The papers concern three generations of the Theodore Roosevelt family. Photo by Vicki Denby.

Through this program the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW) coordinates with the Cambridge Office of Workforce Development, Harvard schools/departments, and Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School “…to provide training and learning opportunities for High School students…” writes Abbey McGuire, HR Coordinator in the Harvard College Library.
Keep reading →

June 5th, 2015

Hidden Collections: sheet music

I’m delighted to report that Houghton has just received a grant to survey sheet music collections across the Harvard Library system. This welcome support comes to us through Harvard’s “Open Your Hidden Collections” program, funded by the Arcadia Foundation. Regular readers of our blog will sense the glee behind this announcement: as I’ve written here many times in different ways, sheet music can function as a kind of Twitter feed to history, providing researchers with a clear indication of trending issues, who (and what) is viewed as popular at a given time, and just how they are viewed. I’ve highlighted Vienna’s rebus craze, some pretty wild orchestras, artist Egon Wilden, and some just plain dazzling artistic technique, among many other blogs on the subject.

We’re indebted as well to George Boziwick, Chief of the Music Division of the NYPL, whose April 12 program at the American Repertory Theater’s Oberon stage on Emily Dickinson’s Songbook piqued the curiosity of many across the library system. So fellow fans, keep your eyes peeled! In the coming year we’re sure to share some astonishing imagery, from the ridiculous to the sublime. I’ll leave you to be the judge of this Baxter print, surrounded by vignettes from the story of Paul et Virginie.

*2010TW-2232

*2010TW-2232

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

June 4th, 2015

Freaks, Geeks, and Strange Girls

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

cov1_0001

Whether you think of sideshow banners as art or advertisement there is no denying their “wow” factor.  Freaks, geeks & strange girls : sideshow banners of the Great American Midway is an anthology of perspectives on the history of the sideshow including its social aspects with accompanying sideshow banner art.  cov1_0001Many might argue that perhaps it isn’t the most positive side of humanity that we did (and still do) pay money to see representations of the grotesque or as society would put it bluntly- freaks.  You might be tempted to think that people in a sideshow were exploited and abused and certainly some probably were, but you can also look at it as a time that the marginalized were able to embrace themselves and become self-sufficient when many were locked away from the world.

What if you were born with no arms and still wanted to be able to earn a living during this time?  Let’s look at the example of Martha The Armless Wonder.  cov1_0004Martha Morris was a featured attraction at Coney Island, as well as the traveling Freak City Show of the 1920s.  She would write with her feet and type with her toes to demonstrate her amazing dexterity.  She was also in the 1932 film Freaks which was highly controversial and a financial failure.  Some critics believed it exploited the people featured in the film who were real stars of sideshows but did it exploit Martha?  According to her family Martha loved the movies and was presumably proud to be in a film.  It does raise an interesting question about where is the line between exploitation and empowerment?  To learn more about the people that worked in sideshows you might be interested in American sideshow : an encyclopedia of history’s most wondrous and curiously strange performers by Marc Hartzman. 

Freaks, geeks & strange girls : sideshow banners of the Great American Midway. Randy Johnson, Jim Secreto, Teddy Varndell ; contributions from Glen C. Davies [and others].  Honolulu, Hawaii : Hardy Marks Publications, ©1995 can be found in Widener Library.

cov1_0002

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

June 1st, 2015

New on OASIS in June

Fourteen new finding aids have been added to the OASIS database this month, including Gilbert & Sullivan libretti, programs from Harvard theatrical productions, and documents from U.S. colonial history.

Processed by Irina Klyagin:
Claud Lovat Fraser Designs, 1919-1921 (MS Thr 1131)

Processed by Ashley M. Nary:
Plays and Librettos by W. S. (William Schwenck) Gilbert, Arthur Sullivan, and Associated Persons, 1871-2000 (MS Thr 1107)

John Abbot Letters to Samuel Griffin, 1790-1793 (MS Am 924)

Processed by Bonnie B. Salt:
James Freeman Clarke Additional Papers, 1717-1889 (MS Am 1569.1)

Benjamin Caryl Sermons, 1764-1805 (MS Am 1205)

Daniel Willard Compositions,1770-1805 (MS Am 1984)

Joshua Atwater Diary and Other Papers, 1681-1897 (MS Am 1875)

Franklin Lushington Photograph Album and Other Material, 1829-1871 (MS Typ 1181)

Massachusetts Militia Documents and Tax Receipts,1762-1809 (MS Can 85)

Charles Sumner Scrapbook,1608-1866 (MS Am 1.68)

Samuel Ripley Papers, 1795-1895 (MS Am 1613.2-1613.3)

Thomas Bulfinch Documents for a Reparation Claim, 1783 (MS Am 601)

Timothy Pickering Papers, 1796-1826 (MS Am 660)

Processed by Rebekah Scoggins (Simmons intern with Ashley M. Nary):
Harvard University Theatrical and Musical Programs and Related Materials, 1865-2008 (MS Thr 1102)

Next Page »