August 1st, 2015

New on OASIS in August

Finding aids for five newly cataloged collections, as well as a preliminary box list for one new acquisition, were added to the OASIS database this month, including a collection of watercolors by Edward Lear (an example at left). Lear Edward. Mount Sinai, 1869. MS Typ 55.28 (13)Processed by Caroline Duroselle-Melish (with the assistance of Bonnie B. Salt):
Edward Lear Studio Watercolors, 1848-1884 (MS Typ 55.28, TypDr 805.L513)

Finding aid produced by Emilie Hardman (with the assistance of Bonnie B. Salt):
Charles S. Peirce Papers, 1787-1951 (MS Am 1632)

Processed by Ashley M. Nary:
Manuscript Music by British, American, and European Composers, 1793-1950 (MS Thr 1144)

Processed by Bonnie B. Salt:
T. S. Eliot Family Papers, 1896-1958 (MS Am 3041)

Marion Angeline Howlett Papers, 1900-1972 (MS Thr 1145)

The following collection has a new preliminary box-list now on OASIS:

Processed by Melanie Wisner:
Fernand Labori and Marguerite Labori Papers, circa 1860-1957 (MS Fr 663)

August 1st, 2015

Tracts of Zion

Zion 3Cataloging was recently completed on a collection of tracts and other publications by John Ward (1781-1837), the Irish mystic who later rechristened himself Zion, and whose career as a prophet was distinguished by an idiosyncratic reading of scripture. Ward’s early life was spent as a shipwright and shoemaker, attended by relative disinterest in religion; he experienced a conversion, however, upon his discovery of the works of the recently-deceased prophet Joanna Southcott, which he began to preach.

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July 31st, 2015

Early Eighteenth-Century French Music Miscellanies

Early eighteenth-century manuscript miscellanies of French music offer a wealth of insight into contemporary public and private musical tastes and activities.  Two such miscellanies in the John Milton and Ruth Neils Ward Collection reveal especially fascinating histories of compilation practices and use.

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July 30th, 2015

Indian subcontinent in 60 engravings or less…

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


Frans Balthazar Solvyns was born in Antwerp in 1760 and for the early part of his career was a marine painter capturing the likenesses of ships, ports, and harbor views on canvas.  He departed for Calcutta in the 1790s where he then worked as a journeyman artist working for the upper-middle class restoring works of art, decorating carriages, and other pursuits.  He traveled during this time throughout the Indian subcontinent and came up with the idea to create a series of etchings documenting the inhabitants.  The etchings covered professions, castes, typical dress, transportation, and festivals to name just a few.  The original etchings were published in 1796 in A Collection of Two Hundred and Fifty Coloured Etchings: Descriptive of the Manners, Customs and Dresses of the Hindoos in Calcutta.  It was a financial failure probably due to artistic tastes of the time which were said to find the color of the etchings too somber and monotonous.  However they did appeal to the London publisher Edward Orne who published a pirated version without the permission of Solvyns.  Orne’s version was mainly dedicated to the costumes or modes of dress and the plates were redesigned in warmer colors.  Our particular volume is one of Orne’s pirated editions published in 1807 titled The costume of Hindostan, elucidated by sixty coloured engravings with descriptions in English and French, taken in the years 1798 and 1799.  Here are a few of the plates that I found particularly interesting.

A Hooka-Burdar or Hooka Purveyor was responsible for making the chillum, or pipe, keeping the hookah in order and attending the master whenever they were dining.  The hookah itself could be made in various materials and adorned according to the wealth of the owner.  Often it was covered with precious jewels such as rubies, diamonds, or emeralds and the base was most commonly made out of silver, gold, metal, or glass.

  A Syce or Groom was described as being assigned to a single horse who would then run next to said horse and when they stopped he would secure the horse’s head with his rope.  In his hand you will see a piece of horsehair that is attached to a piece of wood with which he would be tasked with preventing the flies from “fretting the horse.

KIC_Image_0011This woman’s status is simply identified as a Woman of Inferior Rank.  The description that goes with the plate reveals other details about women in general stating that when a woman is widowed she is no longer allowed to wear colors on the border of her clothes nor ornaments, except for a necklace made of wooden beads, her head is shaved, and she becomes a virtual servant in her household.  According to the Hindoo laws she is unable to marry again and by subduing her passions and attraction she is reduced to a state of servility.  The author helpfully reveals the difference for European women by stating “Happily this odious interdiction, and not less odious custom are unknown to the fair daughters of Europe, who are unrestrained in the exercise of their charms and are ever free to confer those blessings that constitute the happiness of men.”  Since this particular plate has none of these characteristics as her dress has a color border, she is wearing jewelry, and head is not shaved, I have to conclude this is just a woman of inferior rank but not a widow.

The costume of Hindostan, elucidated by sixty coloured engravings with descriptions in English and French, taken in the years 1798 and 1799. By Balt. Solvyns. London, E. Orme, 1807.  GT 1460.S6 1807 F can be found at the Fine Arts Library.  

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

July 23rd, 2015

A Spiritual Guide

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

EnlightenmentCharles Berner offers his road to spiritual freedom in the short, pamphlet-like book, Enlightenment.   Illustrated by Peter Max, this book has detailed instructions, including a sample schedule for a day of Enlightenment Intensive at the Institute of Ability, for how most people can achieve enlightenment.   Although Berner mentions different ways to gain spiritual fulfillment, his specific path to enlightenment involves “presentation” or the technique of continual interaction with other people.   This is a rather different approach than the more common personal spiritual journeys that are often espoused by gurus.   This guide uses the question “Who Am I?” as the basis for the journey.  The participants work with a partner or a group to pursue self-inquiry.Enlightenment

EnlightenmentCharles Berner was the founder of the Enlightenment Intensive program,   a specific technique for achieving enlightenment that he taught participants at the Institute of Ability.  On his website he explains, “For three days 18 hours a day the participants are focused on contemplating the Truth of themselves. Each aspect of the intensive is designed to support the process. A unique technique, a structured, non-distracting environment, regular nourishing meals, and experienced staff all add to the ability to experience the Truth of oneself. This is a powerful technique. Charles Berner said, ‘I have tested this technique and I have compared it to other methods of enlightenment. This technique is about 50-100 times more rapid in producing enlightenment experiences than the classical techniques.’”  This program is taught with an enlightenment master who is there to help inspire, guide and can discern when the participants have achieved their goal.  Berner outlines the 8 stages of enlightenment, and explains that although there are different degrees of enlightenment, there is only one kind.

Enlightenment, part of the Santo Domingo Collection, can be found in Widener Library’s collection.

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

July 21st, 2015

The Beats Go On

Go 1

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

Published in 1952, John Clellon Holmes’s lightly-fictionalized autobiographical novel Go was the first literary depiction of the Beat generation – Kerouac’s On the Road was extant, but only in typescript. On the Road was among the works that would later eclipse Go’s success, but Holmes’s novel establishes several of the themes that would occupy many of his contemporaries. Its characters, all versions of Holmes’s friends, are given over to drugs, petty crime, dissipation, free love, and general hedonistic indulgence; Holmes’s alter ego must navigate between this alluring demimonde and the stability of his marriage.

A New York Times review for Go, dated November 1952, makes clear that the cultural influence of the Beats has yet to manifest. The review’s author encloses in quotations the words “mainliners”, “kick” (in the sense of kicking a drug habit), and the phrase “beat generation”, in the course of explaining this little-understood slang to the reader. Though the characters in Go are glosses on the now-famous Beat writers with whom Holmes socialized at the time, Go slightly predates their literary celebrity. Thus the review refers to characters such as “Pasternak, who writes a presumably good novel, or at least one that gets sold”, “Stofsky, a homosexual and literary whirling dervish”, and “Hart, a frantic character from out of town”, without identifying them as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Neal Cassady. (Kerouac had published his first novel, The Town and the City, two years prior.) Later that month in the Times, Holmes would publish an article titled ‘This is the Beat Generation’, bringing the phrase (borrowed from Kerouac) into the public vocabulary.

This copy of the 1977 Appel edition of Go bears the autographs of several in this social circle: Holmes, Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Herbert Huncke, and Peter Orlovsky. (Huncke also appears in Go as “Albert Ancke” – perhaps the most transparent dramatization of all.)

Go 2

Go: PZ4.H753 G6 1977; HOLLIS number 1288278

New York Times review: M., G. (1952, Nov 09). The ‘kick’ that failed. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from

Holmes article: Holmes, Clellon. (1996, Apr 14). This is the beat generation. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from

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

July 20th, 2015

Russian prints from the Nathalie Ehrenbourg-Mannati collection

KIC image 1

One hundred Russian lubok prints, or lubki, acquired by Houghton in 1961 from the collection of Nathalie Ehrenbourg-Mannati, were recently cataloged as part of our hidden collections cataloging initiative.

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July 17th, 2015

REEL WRITING podcast series

reel writing

Reel Writing: Poems and prose off and on the tape reel, brought to you by Houghton Library and the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University, is a podcast series by Virginia Rose Marshall. Virginia is a recent graduate of Harvard University and one of the 2015 recipients of the Houghton Library Undergraduate Fellowship. Three episodes are now available for your listening pleasure:

No. 1: A Country Affair Sherwood Anderson and David Foster Wallace at the fair
No. 2: The Other End of the Line …on which there is a poem
No. 3: Recalling the Stacks wherein we go underground at Houghton

July 16th, 2015

Let’s take a bite out of crime!

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


The collection has a large number of French translations of books that deal with crime and criminals in the United States.  Chicago : ville du crime or Rattling the cup on Chicago crime was written by Edward D. Sullivan, who was also a newspaper columnist.  Sullivan’s book explores his opinions about criminals and corruption in Chicago during the early 20th-century and the attitude of the American public towards criminals. He states that the modern criminal is careful and typically protected by a larger “organization.”

One chapter details the rise of Al Capone describing the bootlegging operations and the gradual pervasive corruption that infected the city.  The writing throughout is clearly skewed by Sullivan’s own experiences as a middle-class educated white man, but nonetheless it does show a specific point of view within the historical context.  The content is very sensationalist which makes sense since tabloid journalism was very popular around this time.

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Le gang et la débauche aux Etats-Unis : ennemis publics no. 1 is the French translation of the original title Here’s to Crime, which was cataloged by us back in the fall.  The author Courtney Cooper also had quite a flair for the dramatic both in his writing and his life experiences.  The title to his book is a direct response to the slogan “Crime Does Not Pay” which he considers to be “drivel.”  Before he was a newspaper reporter and author Cooper worked for a traveling circus as a clown and eventually became the general manager.  His connection to the circus continued throughout his lifetime and he was the chief publicist for Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus when he died.  Cooper was also quite an authority on crime and wrote several books and many articles dealing with corruption and drugs.  He was a supporter of the early days of the FBI and apparently J. Edgar Hoover was equally impressed with his knowledge of crime in America.  It is believed that he was a close friend of Hoover’s.

All of these volumes can be found in Widener’s collection:

Chicago : ville du crime / Edward Dean Sullivan ; Trad. de l’anglais par André Vialis. Paris : La Nouvelle société d’édition, [1931].

Le gang et la débauche aux Etats-Unis : ennemis publics no. 1 / Courtney Ryley Cooper ; adapté de l’anglais par Ch. de Richter. Paris : Editions de France, [1939].

Here’s to crime / Courtney Ryley Cooper. Boston : Little Brown and Company, 1938, [c1937].

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

July 10th, 2015

The Bon Ton Skillig List

Here is a recently cataloged “Skellig list” broadside from the city of Cork, Ireland. A Skellig (or Skillig) list is a poem pairing up local bachelors and unmarried women, giving the subjects false names; but they were easily identifiable to local residents, given their age and physical descriptions (flattering or insulting), how long they have been unmarried, street of residence, and other personal details. The couples are supposed to take themselves to the island Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast and be married; Lent came ten days later on the Skelligs and gave the couples more time, as marriages were supposed to take place before Lent. Skellig lists were composed and circulated or posted for public viewing on Shrove Tuesday in Cork, Kerry and elsewhere. The humor in the (anonymous) Skellig lists “consists of associating the most probable and improbable persons.1” “Skillig” is a variant spelling of “Skellig” in this form of poem.



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