Mourning Charlie Hebdo (and why collecting historical newspapers matters)


You’ve probably heard the news this morning.  As editors for Charlie Hebdo met for their weekly Wednesday morning meeting today, January 7, 2015, at least two armed intruders wielding automatic rifles opened fire in the satirical newspaper’s offices in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, killing twelve of the newspaper’s employees. Among the dead are Charlie Hebdo’s editorial director, Charb, and cartoonists Cabu, Wolinski and Tignous. French President François Hollande is calling this a “terrorist attack.” It is also without a doubt an attack on freedom of speech. This is not the first time that the Charlie Hebdo has come under attack. In 2011, the offices of Charlie Hebdo were firebombed for having published a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.  Nor is it completely out of the ordinary for French newspapers to raise ire, as this timeline from Le Monde “50 years of attacks against the French media” shows. However, today’s attack is certainly the deadliest.

Since the early 1970s, Charlie Hebdo has occupied a place in the radical left of the French media, publishing news and cartoons that are both humorous and harshly critical of current events. This past summer, prompted by the recommendation of Assistant Professor of French Lucas Hollister, the library acquired the entire back run of the first iteration of Charlie Hebdo, including all issues published from 1970-1981. Hollister saw the value in students having first-hand access to this highly visual representation of politics and culture in France in the 1970s. Few libraries in North America have such complete holdings from the first generation of Charlie Hebdo, and this acquisition offers an opportunity for students and faculty to examine this important voice in the satirical press.  It also reminds us of the singular role that academic libraries and archives serve in preserving and providing access to marginalized voices from around the world.

Dartmouth’s complete holdings of Charlie Hebdo are on Berry Lower Level:

Memories of Blake ’08, Part I

Tucked into the pages of his cumbersome and crumbling “mem book,” which now resides in the Rauner Special Collections Library, lies Francis Gilman Blake’s hand-drawn map of an expedition through the New Hampshire wilderness, annotated with the details of each day’s travel and a branch plucked from the slopes of Mt. Washington. While the practice of scrap-booking at Dartmouth has since been replaced by other hobbies and interests, the Rauner Library has preserved some of the books created by students from the early twentieth century.

Although simplistic in their detail, Blake’s illustrations of the mountains prove stunningly accurate in their physical relationship to each other. The mountains are carefully spaced and aligned, yet they are not drawn from a bird’s-eye view like a traditional map, but from a perspective on the horizon, evoking a deeply personal recollection of the landscape. In terms of geographic orientation however, Blake only offers his audience a single winding line through a series of mountains and towns. But to someone familiar with the mountains, trails, and roads of the region, Blake’s map tells an incredibly vivid and personal story of adventure. The map therefore serves not as a geographical tool, but as an experiential guide. In terms of absolute place and geography it is meaningless, but as a relative measure of place within a shared context, it tells a story more detailed and intimate than any cartographer could draft.

While miles and locations ordinarily serve as measures of distance and place, juxtaposed in this context they convey a measurement of relative time. Blake’s itinerary provides a list of the mountains and mileage that tells not only of where he went, but also of the fast pace and strenuous nature of the hike, allowing those familiar with these steep slopes an intimate perspective on the passing of the journey. Over one hundred years later, these chronological clues prove much more valuable than the dates that accompany them. Notions of absolute time have become lost over the decades, but Blake has preserved these episodes by grounding them in a relative context that survives today.

Blake’s book ends at over one hundred pages, weighs as much as a large dictionary, and holds various large objects between its pages including entire flowers, small books, and notably a 108 year-old pretzel. These characteristics suggest that Blake never intended this book to travel, or even to be opened on a regular basis. Without a title page, cohesive structure, or labels for many of the photographs, Blake’s intended audience likely comprises a small group of those quite familiar to him and his experiences.  This conclusion, drawn from the physical nature of the book, is supported by his uses of time and place within a shared context. Perhaps the chief member of Blake’s audience is his future self, the individual best equipped to unravel the relative contexts of his maps. Blake’s audience is limited only by a reader’s willingness and ability to engage these objects outside of their absolute geographical and chronological contexts, the depth of the connection determined by the extent of the shared experience.

Posted for Edward Harvey ’15

The Making of a Multi-Color Linoleum Block Squid

Students and community members can learn how to carve and print relief blocks here in the Book Arts Workshop. Usually we work with linoleum blocks, but wood, rubber (more for rubber stamping than running through a press), Sintra board and other relief printing materials are fair game as well.

This image of a sledding squid came about as a drawing in my sketch book, then became the idea for a simple holiday card. Of course nothing stays simple and it soon became a three-color, three-block linoleum relief print. Here’s a little about how it was created—at least the printing process—where the idea came from is hard to say.

1) The Sketchbook Drawing

Here’s the drawing as it appears in my sketchbook.

2) Draw on Block

First I drew the image in pencil onto a 3 x 5 mounted linoleum block—remembering it had to be backwards or wrong-reading, so it could be right-reading in the print. Since this is a view of a ski hill near our house, I wanted it going downhill to the right—like my view (seems I drew it going the wrong way in my sketchbook!).

Once I had what I wanted, I went over the drawing with ink.

I use a dip pen and ink to draw on my blocks because I like the thick and thin quality of the line, which I follow when carving. A sharpie works nicely too. Best to use a regular tip Sharpie rather than a fine tip because you’ll want to have thicker lines to carve. Very thin lines will be weak in linoleum—and not very forgiving if you don’t have a steady hand.

3) Tone Block

Toning the block makes it easier to see where I’ve carved or not. A thin layer of ink or paint works nicely. There’s drying time involved with ink or paint (oil paint anyway). This time I used a marker that was handy. I ended up liking the color so much that I matched my first print color to it! In this photo you can see where I began carving the block after the toned color dried.

4) Carve Block

I carved the first block making a few decisions and edits to the drawing along the way—carving the lines in the sky, adding the trees at the edge of the hill and other small things. Because it’s a relief print, I cut out all the areas that I didn’t want to print. You can see in this photo I still had some carving on the sled and the snow to do, but it was almost done.

You can use linoleum carving tools like the ones Speedball sells or you can use wood carving tools. For something this small I like to use my set of Dockyard Micro Carving Tools. You can get them online from Woodcraft. Any set of small wood carving v and u gouges should also work well. McClain’s in Portland OR has some really great tools especially for print-makers. Here are the Dockyard Micro Carving Tools.

5) Print First Color

Once my block was carved, leaving the surfaces I wanted to ink and print raised, I printed a proof with my first color.
To print the block I locked it up on the bed of our Vandercook SP15.

I cut my paper so it would be over sized. It’s easier to print a larger sheet of paper on the Vandercook, so I didn’t want to cut my paper to the finished size before printing.
After I printed a proof and carved a few unpleasant stray bits off my image I printed the run of my first color—the dark blue-green.

Usually I would print light colors first, then dark, but after Gaylord Schanilec suggested printing dark to light during a wood engraving class I took with him at Oregon College of Art and Craft this past summer, I thought I’d try it with my linoleum block. The idea is that the build up of inks will create a richer black or dark ink. This works best with transparent inks.

6) Transfer First Block Image to Second Block

When I finished printing the first run and before I cleaned the ink off the block and press I transferred the inked image onto a blank linoleum block of the same size. This would be my guide for carving the block for the next color—the light green-blue. To do this I ran the press over the block without paper, thereby printing the block right onto the mylar we always have around the cylinder of the press as the draw-sheet and part of the packing.

Then I removed the first color block and put the blank block in its place on the press bed. I ran the press over this block, transferring the ink from the mylar to the uncarved block.

I carefully took the inked, uncarved block off the press and set it aside to dry over night.

7) Carve Second Color Block

With the image transferred onto the new block, I traced with a sharpie where I wanted my new color to be in relation to the already printed first color. In other words, I traced around the snow, the cloud, inside the squid’s eye and just delineated everywhere I wanted the new color and where I didn’t want it. Then I carved just as I did before to create the block for the new color.

In this photo you can see this step as I did it for the third color block.

Here it is printed by itself so you can get an idea of what I carved and left raised to print.

The ink is a rubber-based ink with quite a bit of transparent base (or transparent white) mixed in with color I made. The transparent base is like the ink without the pigment-just transparent goo. This makes for a lighter, transparent color.

8) Print Second Color

I set up the second block in the same exact position on the press bed as the first block. I had to break down the press in between runs, so I made careful notes and measurements of where everything was before taking apart my lock-up. It also helps to take pictures to make it easier to rebuild the lock-up. With everything in place I made a proof—admired my work and removed the unwanted bits. Once I had what I wanted I printed the second color.

9) Transfer First Block Again

To prepare for the third color block I transferred ink from the first block onto another blank uncarved block. The block that prints the darkest color and most detail is called the “key block”—in this case it was the first block. I wanted to use the key block to guide me in my carving for the third color because it had the most information or detail. I think for this print the second block would have worked well to transfer from too, but that’s not always the case.

10) Carve Third Block Color

Once I had the image on the third block, I was able to carve away everything but the squid where I wanted the pinkish color to be. Here’s a picture of all three carved blocks.

I considered leaving some block raised under the squid so there would be a pinkish shadow under him on the toboggan, but decided against it. I think the squid “pops” more without it. I also debated on whether I wanted to have his suction cups pink or white. To make them white I would have to carve out those little spots again, like I did on the first block. In the end I decided to carve just a tiny bit of those spots out, so there would be a small white highlight on the suction cups. When the blocks are registered perfectly (lined up perfectly) these highlights work great!

Here’s what just the third color block looks like printed by itself.

You may be wondering how I got such a fabulous squid-pink. Again I used transparent base to make a transparent color. I also used a bit of Rhodomine red, Pantone yellow, Irish Mint green (we have a lot of dark green here!), a good amount of the mixed light blue I used for the second block and probably some other things. It was a bit of a potion, but just what I wanted.

11) Print Third Color

Having gotten everything set in the same place again (block, paper, paper guides, furniture), I printed the third color. I’m particularly excited by the highlights and areas where all three colors are visible. All in all it looks like a happy squid.

Written by Sarah Smith

And an Even More Colorful New Year!

These covers are just too good. We couldn’t resist a follow up to the Christmas posting. Pears’ Soap issued its own holiday annual to compete with the London Illustrated News called Pears’ Annual.  The front cover was always a stunning holiday image and the back cover a suitably themed advertisement for Pears’ Soap. In this case, the cover shows an infant 1894 ringing in the New Year and bidding the old 1893 farewell. A dead boar and fowl evoke the feasting of the season and the holly references Christmas.

The back cover shows the wonders of Pears’ Soap with an image of an old man (could it be the same old man representing 1893 on the front?) invigorated and and pleased by his cleanly shaven chin. “Shaving a Luxury!” exclaims the headline.

Ask for Sine Serials AP4.349 and have a great 2015!

A Colorful Christmas

The Christmas tree, colorful packages, cards, the big family dinner… you know the schtick. You’ve seen it in the movies, heard it in so many Christmas carols, and perhaps even lived it. But how did that simple feast day from Medieval times turn into such a big deal?  Was it, as Lucy Van Pelt claimed in A Charlie Brown Christmas, a result of a Big Eastern Syndicate?

The British Royal Family probably had more to do with it than any Syndicate. Prince Albert and Queen Victoria gathered their large family around a Christmas tree each year and celebrated with a feast. The public learned about it from the colorful annuals issued at the time. We have just finished cataloging an enormous collection of Victorian and Edwardian illustrated annuals. The color saturated chromolithograph covers did for Christmas what Norman Rockwell’s Life covers did for the American Dream: richly and romantically illustrated it for middle class aspirations.

For some examples, ask for The Illustrated London News (Sine Serials AP4.I3) or Pears’ Annual (Sine Serials AP4.P349)

Not So Saintly Patron

Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (London: W. Strahan, 1755) is an authorial tour de force. That one person could possibly assemble a dictionary basically on his own of such a scope is astonishing. The two densely packed volumes took nine years of his life to write.

Johnson received patronage of a sort for his work. Besides receiving money from a group of booksellers who supported the project, he also secured Lord Chesterfield’s support through his Plan of a Dictionary (London: J. and P. Knapton, 1747). Chesterfield wrote an essay in support of the project, but in so doing, offended the sensitive Johnson. Johnson held a grudge and retaliated in a backhanded way in the dictionary itself. His first definition of “Patron” reads:

1. One who countenances, supports or protects. Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is paid with flattery.

Johnson buried a few other precious barbs in his text. He defines oats as “a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.”

To see the Dictionary, ask for Rare PE1620.J6 1755. To see the Plan, ask for Val 825 J63 P69.

Aboard the Dartmouth

In late November 1773, the Nantucket whaling ship Dartmouth sailed into Boston harbor. Her cargo was tea, brought back from England after sailing there with a load of whale oil. At the time, much of the population of Boston had gotten a tad irritable about British taxation and duties on tea, so the Dartmouth was not allowed to unload her cargo. A few days later she was joined by the Eleanor, also loaded with tea and similarly detained in the harbor unable to unload. On December 15th, the Beaver arrived, and became the third ship that would, the next day, play a role in one of the pivotal events in this country’s fight for independence.

We all know what happened to that tea in Boston harbor on December 16, 1773.

However, I had forgotten from my American history lessons of long ago that one of the Boston Tea Party ships was named Dartmouth. She was the first ship built in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1767 for Francis Rotch of Nantucket, and was named for a section of Bedford. Sadly, the Dartmouth was lost at sea on the Atlantic during the summer of 1774.

There have been other ships named Dartmouth, including a brig built by J. N. Harvey in 1768 and listed in Lloyd’s register of shipping for 1776. It was this vessel that caused some confusion over the rigging when Ruth Edwards was researching the Boston Tea party ship Dartmouth for a commission she had been given by the Class of 1907. The class gave the painting of the Dartmouth to the College in 1967 in honor of its upcoming bicentennial.

During World War II, an oil tanker, the Dartmouth, and a victory type cargo ship, the Dartmouth Victory, were launched. About the same time, two liberty cargo ships were launched: the Samson Occom and the Eleazar Wheelock. I suspect there are other ship with Dartmouth connections, but the vessels carrying the name of Levi Woodbury, Class of 1809, and Secretary of the Navy, are too numerous to go into here.

Ask for Iconography 1368 to see the “Tea Party” Dartmouth.

Trial and Conflict

The adage that “all your dysfunctional relationships have one thing in common, you” comes to mind whenever Eleazar Wheelock’s legacy is up for examination. This is particularly the case with a recent acquisition of Wheelock documents (five in his hand) ranging from the time of his calling to the Second Congregational Church in Lebanon, Connecticut, in 1735 to 1771 after his arrival in Hanover.

Most of the documents deal with conflict: a court case, a disagreement between a minister and his congregation or between one minister and another. Others are less controversial and focus on the installment of a minister, or an invitation to Wheelock, a renowned preacher in his time, to give a sermon at another church.

One of the most interesting items in this group of documents is a scrap of well-worn paper in Wheelock’s hand that is coming apart that the creases. Picking through the chicken scratch it becomes evident these are notes that Wheelock took perhaps during the negotiations regarding his ministry in Lebanon, Connecticut. The notes outline what the congregation had agreed to provide Wheelock as compensation for his ministerial efforts, they specifically record that he would be paid £140 per year in public credit or provisions with the types of provisions and amounts carefully noted. The provisions included wheat, corn, oats and pork and beef. The notes also record that Wheelock was to be paid yearly on the first of January. This agreement was drawn up by a savvy group of flinty Connecticut farmers and businessmen who found ways to reinterpret it, or so Wheelock felt, to his disadvantage. It very soon became a source of conflict between Wheelock and the congregation that would plague him until resigned his position.

The crux of the issue appears to have been how these provisions were to be provided based on the rise and fall of their value. The deficit created by the congregation’s interpretation of this agreement was one of the factors that led Wheelock to take on students for tutoring as a way to supplement his income. This in turn led to his tutoring Samson Occom. It was Occom’s success as a scholar that led Wheelock to the idea of educating Native Americans. So, in a sense, this scrap of paper covered in scratchy hand, is the genesis for the eventual founding of Dartmouth College.

To see Wheelock’s notes and two later “clean copies” that he made of the specific areas of disagreement, ask for MS-1310, box 1, folders 735227. 1, 735227.2, 735227.3

Welcome to Jenny Lind

In 1850, P. T. Barnum coaxed thirty-year-old Jenny Lind out of retirement for a grand tour of the United States. That tour, which earned Lind over $350,000, caused a popular sensation and exposed the potential force of the burgeoning American mass market. It also generated its share of souvenirs for her adoring public. Besides dozens of pieces of sheet music bearing her likeness, we also have a framed Daguerreotype of the Swedish songstress with a ticket to the June 20th, 1851, concert.

Even the abolitionist singing group, the Hutchinson Family, tried to cash in on her fame with their “Welcome to Jenny Lind.” Sung “on the occasion of her visit to America,” it was quickly issued as sheet music (Boston: Oliver Ditson, 1850).

To see the Daguerreotype and ticket, ask for Iconography 292. To see “Welcome Jenny Lind,” ask for Sheet Music HF 73.

Merging Images in Photoshop, Part One

One of the most common problems in digitization is how to deal with an image that is too big for your camera or scanner. The simplest solution is to photograph or scan the object in separate pieces, then merge those pieces together, however this can present its own set of problems to those unfamiliar with imaging software.

In this post I will be describing my own method for merging together images. There are many other ways to accomplish these tasks, and if you have a way that works for you, I encourage you to keep using it, but also be aware of its potential pitfalls. The main benefits of my own method are the ability to quality-check your work as you go, and make simple non-destructive edits that can be changed or reversed as needed. Also, for simplicity’s sake, I will be referring to my own Mac OS based workflow for menus and keyboard shortcuts.

Here is the whole image that we’re trying to assemble, and for whatever reason, it’s been captured in two side-by-side pieces in the standard .tiff format. It is crucially important, when capturing, to make sure there is overlap between the captures. This is going to help us check how well-aligned our merging is, so the more overlap the better.

Notice how each side is wider than half of the image

Now that we’ve got our two images, open both in Adobe Photoshop and choose whichever one you want to start working on. I usually go from left to right for simplicity’s sake, so here I will be starting on the left side of the image.

In Photoshop, select the Image drop-down file menu, and select “Canvas Size…” (or use the keyboard shortcut: option+command+C). Click on the canvas width field, and double it. In the “Anchor” field, select the leftmost column of the grid so that Photoshop knows where to put the empty space.

You should be left with an image like this:

It will end up a little wider than is necessary, but it’ll be easier to trim it down after the fact than to add more space. This will now become our “master” file. Do a “Save As” at this point and designate it as such.

Next, go to the second image that we are going to merge into the master (in this case, the right side image). The next step should be familiar to most computer users: select all of the image (command+A), and copy it to the clipboard (command+C). Then go back to the master file and use paste (command+V) to add it into the image.

If you’re paying attention, you’ll obviously notice that this new image is not in the correct position. However, by looking at the Layers panel on the right side of Photoshop you’ll see that the new image is on its own layer, resting on top of the background (if you do not see the Layers panel, select the “Window” drop-down menu and enable “Layers” there). Thus we can edit it without disturbing the original “bottom” layer.

Now, with the top layer selected, click on the “Opacity” field in the Layers panel and set it to 40%. This will make the top layer semi-transparent and allow us to line it up with the bottom layer.

Then, with the Move tool selected (V), begin moving the top layer around and trying to find where it lines up. Look for any solid shapes that are shared by both images, or where the borders intersect. Letterforms provide nice clear and easily-spottable shapes, which is why I have used them in this example, but it can be anything so long as it’s shared by both images.

We’re getting there, but it’s obviously still not right. At this point, find an area of overlap and zoom in closely. Then, with both the top layer and the move tool selected, simply “nudge” the top layer into place using the arrow keys. The arrow keys will only move the layer one pixel at a time, so obviously this is for the finest level of adjustments.


Nailed it!

Now for the final steps! In the layers panel, set the top layer’s opacity back to 100%. Then inspect the images along the borders, making sure that it looks seamless. While checking for quality be sure to zoom in and out.

At this point you can crop the image down to its original size, and it will be ready to go. However, one important piece to remember is that layered .tiffs, in addition to simply being larger files, are also not commonly supported by web or other software. What I like to do at this point is to save the “Master” file with both layers, and then create a new version for common use. The common use version will get flattened (Layer -> Flatten Image) then do a Save As in whatever format is required such as .jpeg or .pdf. This way, if any changes need to be made, we can always go back to the Master version.

And there you have it! A nice, seamless image. In the next post in this series, I will go into more detail for dealing with other problems, such as skew and mismatched backgrounds or details.

Written by Ryland Ianelli