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 While the practice of scrap-booking at Dartmouth has since been replaced by other hobbies and interests, the Rauner Library has preserved some of the books created by students from the early twentieth century.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

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.

Winter Break

Things are pretty quiet here in Rauner Library since the students left for break.  We just have a few folks in doing some research, but the hustle of the term is past and the classrooms are empty. Hanover is cold and grey in their absence, but peaceful, too.

They all seemed pretty tired during finals week–wandering around in a daze, some in their pajamas. We like to imagine they are hunkered down now catching up on their sleep like in this lithographic image from Arthur de Capell Brooke’s Winter Sketches in Lapland (London: J. Murray, 1827).

If the Hanover winter gets you too down, come in and take a look by asking for Stef DL971.L2 B7.

Oh, No!

We have quite a few examples of books and ephemeral material that served as propaganda during the First and Second World Wars. But this one caught us a little off guard. Published in 1939 in Warsaw, L’armée et la marine de guerre Polonaises, looks like a typical 1930s show of military muscle. For the most part, it is images of tanks, airplanes, heavy artillery and troops training. But, timing is everything, so the image of Poland’s bicycle brigade stands out. It proudly shows rows of Polish infantry sitting astride bicycles tricked out with rifles in the handlebars.

Published just months before Germany invaded from the West and the Soviet Union from the East, the bicycle brigade is now emblematic of just how ill-prepared Poland was to face either military force. It took just five weeks for the Germans and Soviets to seize and divide Poland.

To see the book, ask for Rare UA829.P7 K63 1939.

Thanksgiving Tweets, 1946

DOC Thanksgiving Feast, November 1946
Archival Photofiles

November 1946 marked the first Thanksgiving after the end of World War II. It was a time that Dartmouth was returning to some sense of normalcy after becoming a defacto military training ground. No wonder that the students chose something other than war to talk about when the Dartmouth asked them what they were thankful for.  Here are some of their responses from the Tuesday before Thanksgiving:

“I’m glad I won’t need to see The Dartmouth until next Monday.”

“I am thankful that the New York Rangers beat the Canadians 3-2.”

“I’m very thankful that I work for the Jack-o

“I’m thankful that I go to a liberal arts college where I can learn how to be a liberal artist.”

“I’m thankful for Hollywood failures.”

“I’m thankful that after eating in Thayer Hall for two months I can go home for a decent meal.”

“I’m thankful that I have two classes this afternoon so I can spend an extra day in Hanover.”

To read more, take a look at The D on our reference shelves here in Rauner–but not on Thanksgiving. We’ll be thankful to not be at work! The photofiles, though, will still be online.