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With this blog we hope to draw attention to the intriguing and remarkably rare items discovered by Harvard Library users during the course of their research. Harvard Library Preservation routinely reviews books returned through circulation, knowing that these returns include a surprising numbers of works that are too deteriorated to survive continued use, and are that too rare and interesting not to share online with the Harvard community, and beyond.

Titles are selected for digitization through various criteria such as rarity, condition, use, research relevance, and/or visual content. We invite you to peruse the titles posted here as well as subscribe to our feeds and see what titles queued for digitization, as well as those already completed and online.

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Charles Dana Gibson was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1867. With aspirations of a sculptor, he apprenticed with Augustus Saint-Gaudens, but eventually turned to pen and ink for his career. His illustrations appeared frequently in magazines such as LifeTid-Bits, and Time, and Puck. He typically portrayed characters from high society families of New York and Boston. His popularity in magazines influenced fashion and social convention at the turn of the century. His most famous illustration was know as the “Gibson Girl”, an athletic and stylish woman who echoed the changing status of women as smart, capable, successful, and independent. In 1901, Gibson published “A Widow and Her Friends” the sixth in a series of publications, each volume comprised of 84 black and white drawings and covering a different facet of high society. This book illustrates a story of a recent widow and her journey from mourning to recovery, all along the way making her own decisions regarding career, friends, suitors, love, and social conduct. Gibson repeatedly depicted women as the superior of the sexes, often toying with the clownish men who try to win affection and curb independence.

in mourning

 

consuming books and educating herself

 

undaunted by the seas, while her male companions struggle

 

exploring a career in nursing

 

saving the buffoons from the icy waters

 

Description:
Gibson, Charles Dana. A widow and her friends. New York : R. H. Russell ; London : J. Lane, 1901.
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:603202
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University

 

It would seem, then, that at last we have a veritable ghost, — a pure and unquestionable visitor of semi-spiritual material. It has appeared, at various times, in a small school-house in Charles Street, in Newburyport, and the evidence regarding it is too lucid and consistent to be passed by. -Loring, publisher Boston

Newburyport, the strange, conservative, eccentric, and handsome little city of the East, is again setting the world astir in supplying the strangest of strange phenomena: a Haunted School-house, a visible phantom of a murdered boy, with all the dread and alarming accompaniments. – H.P. Davis

The Haunted Schoolhouse at Newburyport, a pamphlet produced by Loring publishers of Boston in 1873, tells the story of unexplained happenings at a schoolhouse in Newburyport, MA. The students and teacher reported knocking sounds, floating objects, and apparitions. According to the story, a student and teacher finally meet the ghost responsible, possibly a former student at the school: “The figure was that of a boy of thirteen. The visage was remarkably pale, the eyes were blue, the mouth sad, and the whole effect was that of extreme melancholy. The general picture was that of a child prepared for burial and prepared, moreover, in a poor and makeshift way”.

The boys saw it first. It appeared at the partition window that had been uncovered, and Miss Perkins’ attention was called to it. She at once recognized the same pale boy in the same dress. She instantly called upon the largest lads to look at it carefully and to note its bearing, its behavior, and its description. Then she went into the entry. She perceived the same figure, though now at full length, but it eluded her, despite her attempts to seize it, and it faded away and was lost. 

Famous celebrities like Oliver Wendell Holmes came to try to debunk the story, but were unable to provide an explanation. At a meeting of the school committee, held Monday evening, February 24, 1873, recommended that a vacation of three or four weeks be allowed Miss Lucy Perkins, the teacher, and a substitute employed to take her place.

Miss Perkins, the teacher. She has suffered much from anxiety, but more from the doubts of those who have persistently questioned her in regard to these matters. It has been no mean task to hold the school together, and to carry it on amid the mysterious troubles, and the draughts upon her nervous system have been many and large. Few women could have displayed so much physical courage as she has… 

After her departure, there were no further reports of ghosts in the schoolhouse.

 

Description:
The haunted school-house at Newburyport, Mass. Boston :: Loring, publisher,, 1873.
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:32071269
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University
Description:
Davis, H. P. author. Expose of Newburyport eccentricities, witches and witchcraft the murdered boy, and apparition of the Charles-street school-house. [Massachusetts?] : [publisher not identified], 1873.
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:32071235
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University

 

Takejiro Hasegawa was a Japanese publisher focused on books for export to Europe, the tourist trade, and for foreign residents during Japan’s Meiji period. Hasegawa was noted for employing foreign residents as translators of famous Japanese poems and folktales and recruited notable Japanese artists as illustrators. In 1885 he started what was known as Ehon (“picture”) books for Westerners. The publisher used the traditional Japanese book binding style “fukuro-toji”. The process involves woodblock printing on one side of long sheets of paper, folded up in half in a zig-zag manner, and secured along the spine with silk sewing. While following traditional Japanese book binding, these were produced for Westerners with a left to right reading sequence and text primarily in English.

The most notable characteristic of Hasegawa books was the use of “chirimen-gami”, or crepe paper. The production of this paper was laborious, where moistened Japanese paper was wrapped around a cylinder and crinkled by pressing the paper down. It was removed, flattened and re-wrapped over the cylinder in the opposite direction, eventually repeating this routine several times before moving into printing. While it was costly, Hasegawa noticed how Westerners loved the paper for it’s texture and durability (particularly with use by children).

The Rat’s Plaint

This color woodblock publication was translated into English by Archibald Little, who was married to Alicia Little, known for her battle against the Chinese foot binding practice. 

This little jeu d’esprit is well known, but, as with many of our own nursery classics, its authorship is unacknowledged. I bought my copy at a book-stall in Ichang for 1 1/2 d. Whether it dates from the Sung dynasty (twelfth century), as one wise native informed me it did, or later, I am unable to say. Suffice it that, apart from its unquestioned humour, the poem gives us incidentally some interesting and effective pictures of Chinese social life, and so has, I venture to think, a more than ephemeral interest and needs no apology from me for its introduction to Western readers.  – Archibald Little

 

 

White Aster

This publication was originally translated into German by Prof. Karl Florenz and then into English by the missionary, Arthur Lloyd. The story is based on the Chinese original by Tetsujiro Inouye. The story follows a maiden who was  found in a clump of white asters. She goes on an epic journey in search of her missing father.

In the version which is here offered to the favorable consideration of the western reader the translator has allowed himself considerable latitude, sometimes trying to render his original accurately, and sometimes very freely; thinking that he could thus do more justice to the poets of the Far East than he could by a rigidly conscientious literal translation which would have killed all the poetical charm of the work.  – Florenz and Lloyd

Description:
Little, Archibald John 1838-1908 translator. rat’s plaint. Tokyo: Published by T. Hasegawa, [1891].
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:30086774
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University
Description:
Florenz, Karl 1865-1939 author. White aster, a Japanese epic together with other poems. Tokyo: Published by T. Hasegawa, [1897].
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:33830448
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University

 

This book provides an early and valuable account of West Africa’s “Gold Coast” before it was completely transfigured by slavery and colonialism. Godefroy Loyer (1660-1715), a French missionary, was one of the earliest Europeans to explore and settle in this region. He gained a deep understanding of the language, culture, politics and economy of the Kingdom of Issini, which is in modern day Ghana.

According to Loyer, who visited the Kingdom of Issini in 1701,

“we meet with kingdoms whose monarchs are peasants, towns that are built of nothing but reeds, sailing vessels formed out of a single tree: —where we meet with nations who live without care, speak without rule, transact business without writing, and walk about without clothes :—people, who live partly in the water like fish, and partly in the holes of the earth like worms, which they resemble in nakedness and insensibility.”

Osei Kofi Tutu took the throne of the Ashanti Empire in 1701. Under Tutu, the Ashanti conquered other neighboring states making his realm the most powerful African empire along the coastline. The Ashanti were willing trading partners with the British, Dutch, and Danes. By this time, the most valuable commodity for export was no longer gold, but slaves. The Ashanti were willing to trade slaves for commodities, especially muskets, to secure their seat of power in the region.

Description:
Loyer, Godefroy. Relation du voyage du royaume d’Issyny, Côte d’Or, païs de Guinée, en Afrique :la description du païs, les inclinations, les moeurs, & la religion des habitans : avec ce qui s’y est passé de plus remarquable dans l’établissement que les François y ont fait. A Paris, A. Seneuze, 1714.
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:10996778
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University

 

Tokyo 1911

Ogawa Kazuma (1860-1929), remarkable Japanese photographer, printer and publisher, was an innovator in photomechanical printing and photography during the Meiji and Taisho periods. He started studying English and photography at the age of 15, moving to Tokyo in 1880 where he was hired as an interpreter in the Yokohama Police Department, meanwhile learning photography. Wanting to improve his English and photographic skills, he traveled to America, visiting Washington, Boston, and Philadelphia where he took courses in portrait photography and the dry plate process. Upon his return to Japan in 1884, Ogawa opened the first photographic studio in Tokyo, eventually establishing himself as one of the premier Japanese photographers. He published more than 400 books during his career providing beautifully crafted artistic photographs along with images of a rapidly changing Japan during the Meiji and Taisho period.

Ogawa provides the following insight into his photographic publication on Tokyo in 1911.

The present album, notwithstanding the comparative small number of photographs it contains, gives pictures of most places in Tokyo that are noted for their charming scenery or historic interest and enables the beholder to obtain a fair idea of the actual views of those places, an idea which will, it is believed, fully confirm the truth of the proverb that one sight is better than a hundred hearsays.

The book provides 107 halftones with descriptive information in Japanese and English. The images offer an excellent view of Tokyo at a time when tradition and modernization collided regularly resulting in fundamental changes to social structure, politics, and economics.

 

view of Tokyo from an airship

view of an expanding Tokyo from an airship

 

cherry blossoms

cherry blossoms

 

post office and telephone exchange

 

fire brigade display

fire brigade display

 

kindergarten

kindergarten

 

wrestling event

wrestling event

 

Description:
Ogawa, Kazumasa 1860-1930 author. Scenes in the eastern capital of Japan. Tokyo :: Publisher, K. Ogawa, F.R.P.S.,, 1911.
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:32638697
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University

 

This early Civil War Era broadside from 1861 entitled: “Comparison of Products, Population and Resources of the Free and Slave States” was compiled by John M Batchelder, most likely from 1850s data. At the top of the chart is an illustration of former New York Policeman, Peter Hart, whose heroic attempt to keep the flag flying over Fort Sumter during the bombardment of April 12-13, 1861 became iconic. The Hart image signals that the broadside was likely printed soon after the fall of Fort Sumter. Further evidence on this being an early Civil War document is the use of the term “seven Seceding States”, indicating it was printed before news spread of Virginia’s secession, the eighth state to leave the Union on April 17th. The graph appears to be a striking visual argument as to why the North was superior to the South, having a decisive advantage in population, schools, education, libraries, wealth, and infrastructure. The South was accredited with an edge in cotton production, annual mean temperature, and illiteracy. By using the terms, “Free” and “Slave” States, the compiler made his sympathies known and his allegiance with the abolitionist movement and a free labor economy. Where this was posted and who was the targeted audience is not entirely clear.

John M. Batchelder (1811-1892) was a Boston civil engineer with a particular interest in telegraphy and submarine cables. He corresponded with Samuel F.B. Morse for the advancement of the telegraph system. Batchelder and his family were involved in a number of social causes, including petitions against slavery and fugitive laws, as well as prevention of cruelty to animals.

 

Description:
Batchelder, John Montgomery 1811-1892 author. Comparison of products, population and resources of the free and slave states. Cambridge: Printed by Welch, Bigelow, c1861.
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:29921910
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University

 

Beginning operations in 1906, The Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan became one of America’s most long lived manufacturers of mail-order pre-fab homes. By 1918 Aladdin accounted for almost 3% of all new housing in the United States. With its steady growth and soldified reputation in the homeowner market, Aladdin ventured into mass produced industrial housing, mostly targeting large manufacturing companies, such as coal mining and textile mills, needing fast and cheap housing for their “company towns”. Aladdin Cities included plans for infrastructure, such as water treatment plants, lighting systems, and even landscaping for streets. Designs also allowed for stores, churches, schools, and public offices.

Aladdin was bold with their advertisement campaign, particularly in minimizing the value of the architect as the exclusive “expert designer”. Aladdin boasted that their hands-on experience was superior to these high priced architects and their company could construct a town in under a month with building costs of 30% less than traditional methods.

There should be nothing mysterious, theoretical or psychological about the planning and completion of a modern, sanitary and attractive community of workmen’s homes.

The Aladdin Company produced prototype towns for the Du Pont industry and used this initial success to offer plans from 300 to 3,000 dwellings along with some 50 unique homestyles designs. In addition to homes, Aladdin offered larger housing structures to serve military needs, such as barracks. Although Aladdin continued to sell groups of homes to various customers for 75 years, its effort to establish an industrial catalog was unsuccessful.

This 1918 catalog provides a unique insight into housing in America, including changing methods in home construction, planning, and costs.

 

Description:
Aladdin Company. Aladdin plan of industrial housing as developed from the experience of thirteen years in the expenditure of millions of dollars as architect, manufacturer, engineer and contractor of moderate priced homes, communities and industrial cities. Bay City, Mich. : The Aladdin Co., 1918-.
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:32109488
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University

 

Theodore Dreiser is well known for his contributions to American literature, including the 1900 classic Sister Carrie. However, before Dreiser became this literary icon, he was an editor and journalist, writing columns and criticism in a woman’s magazine entitled “Ev’ry Month”. The publication, which lasted from 1895 to 1903 and described as “An Illustrated Magazine of Popular Music, The Drama, and Literature,” was targeted at the growing middle-class woman, much in the same vein as Ladies Home Journal or Harper’s Bazaar. His brother, Paul Dresser, was a successful balladeer and contributor to the magazine. Since the publication spanned the Spanish-American War, it introduced patriotic songs and articles.

Dreiser is a pivotal writer for the start of the 20th century, creating characters who did not adhere to Victorian mores and values, but were recognized for their persistence against life’s obstacles and society’s constraints. It is unclear as to how much his writing during this time displays evidence of his thinking, philosophy, or eventual literary prowess. However, as an editor and column contributor, often under pseudonyms, he was clearly exploring the female voice in America. It does not take a leap of faith to make some connections to his first novel, Sister Carrie, a woman on her journey from a small town to the sordid society of the big city, achieving stardom and fortune as an actress.

A regular feature were the songs of Gussie L. Davis. Davis was one of America’s earliest successful African-American music artists, the first Black songwriter to become famous on Tin Pan Alley as a composer of popular music. His  “Irene, Good Night” was revitalized by Leadbelly in the 1930s.

“While the people who have enjoyed the songs of Gussie L. Davis are numbered by the thousands, there are very few who know that instead of being a girl, this talented writer is a bright-eyed, intellectual young colored man. He is remarkable, over some of the more widely known people of his race, in the fact that he writes not only the music of his songs, but the words as well. Mr. Davis was born in Cincinnatti in 1863, and for some years attended the public schools in that city. When about seventeen, he determined to join a minstrel troupe, but found it hard to get a footing, as he was unknown. Having a taste for music, he composed a song called “ When we sat beneath the Maples on the Hill, ” and had it published at his own expense. This song was a success, and gave the young composer a reputation, which enabled him to get a good position in the minstrel business. While in this line he discovered how desirable a knowledge of music was, and determined to get a musical education. With laudable enterprise he secured a position in a music college as janitor, where he received lessons and a tiny salary for his services. Here he spent nearly three years in hard work, leaving it to play the piano for a living.”

Description:
Dreiser, Theodore 1871-1945. Ev’ry month. New York: Howley, Haviland & Co, 1895-.
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:27408642
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University

 

The Gods of Pegana

Edward Plunkett, the 18th Baron of Dunsany, was known for his fantasy tales published under the name ‘Lord Dunsany.’ His imaginary worlds were filled with gods, witches, and magic. He invented a fictional land with its own culture, history, and mythology, which had a huge influence on the epic works of J.R.R. Tolkien. His first fantasy work, The Gods of Pegana, was published in 1905. The accompanying illustrations by Sidney Herbert Sime are equally celebrated and considered integral to the work. The Gods of Pegana was the start of a 15-year collaboration with Sime and sometimes led to Dunsany crafting stories around Sime’s inspirational illustrations rather than just complimenting his prose. Other than two frontispieces for a pair of Arthur Machen books, Dunsany’s were the only books Sime illustrated. Most of Sime’s work was produced for magazines and newspapers. While Dunsany was born into wealth, Sime was born into poverty in Manchester, working as a coal miner until he could finally afford to attend art school. However, the class differences did not impede their relationship. Upon its release, The Gods of Pegana was well received with positive reviews by the media.

“There has been no such big and delicate fancy as this book for many years.”—Daily Chronicle.

“The splendour and imagery of Mr. Sime’s pictures.”—Pall Mall Gazette.

“There are certain things which give this book of myths a mysterious appeal. It is written in language which has sometimes delicate music in it fitted to subtle fancies. And the mere fact of its appearance in the modern world is interesting. It re-peoples the physical world.”—Manchester Guardian

Lord Dunsany followed his success with Time and the Gods (1906), The Book of Wonder (1912), and The King of Elfland’s Daughter (1924). Not limited to the fantasy genre, Dunsany also wrote plays, essays, poems, and reviews until his death in 1957. He became largely forgotten in the ensuing decades, with most of his work falling out of print. To some degree, his work is experiencing a renaissance as his contributions to the genres of fantasy and science fiction are finally being realized and celebrated.

The chief of the gods of Pegāna is Mana-Yood-Sushai, who created the other gods and then fell asleep

Slid, the god of waters

Mung, the god of death

Description:
Dunsany, Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett. The gods of Pegāna. [London] : Pegana Press, 1911.
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:5362428
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University

 

Etiquette at Washington

The Industrial Revolution in America created a consumer economy, shifting traditional wealth and power away from the long standing blue-blood families and towards the capitalist magnate and a developing new middle class. The idea of the “self-made” American was clearly at odds with the traditional aristocratic and elitist mores of the past centuries. Yet at the same time, this “new” class hungered for similar customs of exclusivity to differentiate themselves from the working class and the less fortunate. The new middle class, built on wealth and economic clout, wanted to purchase an American code of mores and manners, similar to buying opulent homes, fashionable clothing, or new technology. During this period, a proliferation in etiquette books were printed, providing social rules for a new American “polite society”. The “Etiquette at Washington” publication was promoted as an “insider’s guide” by a local citizen, aimed at educating those visiting or moving to Washington D.C.  It has some interesting sections on social conventions for the presidency and other federal institutions and officials.

“This is a modest little volume, purporting to be the Oracle of fashion and good-breeding, in which one may learn like Sheridan’s heroine, to “start by rule and blush by example”— to take wine with grace—eat with ease—enter a room with dignity—sustain one’s self with all possible sangfroid under the most trying circumstances—and finally to be buried according to the strictest notions of propriety. This book must be esteemed available acquisition by those who hold a solecism in taste as worse than a crime, and more readily pardon the neglect of a bill, than a failure to answer an invitation to dinner. Nothing escapes the attention of the writer.”    

a review from the Southern Literary Messenger, v.15

Some excerpts:

The President:

Every citizen of the United States who visits Washington, considers that he has a claim to visit the Chief Magistrate of the Union, and he is accordingly presented to him, and after shaking hands and conversing for a few moments, retires, delighted with the suavity of the President, and elevated in his own estimation. Strangers who are awaiting an audience in the ante-room, are frequently much annoyed at witnessing individuals who come long after, admitted before them….An invitation to dine with the President cannot be declined, except under the most pressing circumstances, without the greatest breach of respect to the Chief Magistrate of the Union. An invitation from him, is a sufficient apology for declining an invitation previously given and accepted.

General Society:

There is no place in the United States where less attention is paid to mere money than at the seat of government; and the millionaire, whose magnificent equipage attracts such attention in the commercial cities, is surprised at the little influence he exercises here. The truth is that the great personages who form the centre of attraction are generally not rich men, and make but little attempt in their style of living. It is no unusual thing to find a Senator, whose lofty talents and gifted eloquence are the theme of every tongue, plainly lodged with his family at furnished apartments, provided for him by a French cook, or forming a part of a mess composed of six or eight of his fellow Senators.

Customs:

It sometimes becomes necessary to perform the unpleasant duty, of ridding oneself of a disagreeable or improper acquaintance, and in no situation is true politeness more necessary than in this. The object is not to produce an open rupture, but simply to inform the proscribed person of a desire for a discontinuance of the acquaintance, which can usually be accomplished by an adherence, more rigid than ordinary, to the strict observances of ceremony. If he is too dull to observe this, more decided measures are warrantable.

 

Description:
Etiquette at Washington together with the customs adopted by polite society in the other cities of the United States. To which is added an appendix, containing an accurate description of the public buildings in Washington. Baltimore :: John Murphy & Co., printers and publishers, 1850.
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:30211081
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University

 

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