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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.

Discover, Connect, and Comment!

 

Fortified

Jean Errard (1554-1610) was a mathematician and military engineer who developed and published the fundamental work on fortification design and defense strategy in France. Although largely forgotten now, he was referred to as the “Father of French fortification”.  The typical medieval fortress and castle design of the past centuries focused on the construction of high walls to repel attacks from soldiers below. However, with the introduction of artillery, tall walls were vulnerable and could not withstand the heavy bombardment. Errard studied Italian fortifications, which became the foundation for his own design strategy. The solution presented by Errard was short, sloping, thick walls organized in polygons. These star-like fortress, with protrusions at sharp angles, provided advantages to the defenders. The pointed bastions offered more open sight lines, allowing support from adjacent bastions during an attack. The combinations of structure and design negated the artillery advantage. In addition to his engineering skills, Errard recommended the use of infantry and musket as the best defense of the fortification. In his view, the infantry and musket was more versatile and maneuverable than artillery, and used less gunpowder. Errard’s book shifted the military paradigm from mechanical to scientific, allowing for modernization and innovation in the art of warfare.

 

Description:
Errard, J. La fortification reduicte en art et demonstree. Francfort sur le Mein : W. Richter, 1604.
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:10937243
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University

 

The introduction of new technology has unanticipated and unpredictable outcomes for social interaction, interpersonal communication, and collective behaviors. As the new technology proliferates and fuses with our daily lives, the interplay becomes more visible, leading to public commentary, criticism, and jest. Today, it may be difficult to visualize the impact the telegraph had on life in the mid to late 19th century. However, it introduced new occupations, generated curious jargon, and challenged social attitudes and etiquette. W.J. Johnston came to New York from Ireland, landing a job as a telegraph operator for Western Union. Eventually he resigned this position to become a publisher, with a particular interest in reporting the labor, politics, and economics of the telegraph industry. In 1877, he published this compilation of telegraph “literature” with stories, poems, cartoons, myths, and satire. Johnston states in his introduction:

This edition is intended for the general reading public — for people who have no knowledge whatever of the art or business of telegraphy — and will be found free from technical terms and professional idioms not familiar to those unconnected with the business, and written in such language as to be readily understood and appreciated even by people who have never seen a telegraphic instrument

In one story, “A Centennial Telegraph Romance”, the protagonist is a telegraph operator who meets a woman at the World’s Fair and tries to spark a romance through a clandestine application of Morse code.

He would telegraph to her. Tell her how much he thought of her. In a few hours they would be parted, perhaps forever, but here was a means by which he could tell her that she had at least one admirer. But how was he to do it ? If the window fastener beside him were pressed into service, it might attract attention. He felt in his pockets. His lead pencil! The very thing. He drew it from his pocket carelessly, tapped listlessly for a moment on the window sill, at the same time keeping his eyes intently upon the young lady before him. Finally he caught her eye. She looked over, and he spelled out very slowly in Morse characters : ” Oh, I see you are an operator”.

For the most part, Johnston limited the contributors to telegraph operators, or those who worked in the industry. It included some women, like Lida Churchill, who also wrote works on spiritualism, health, and the afterlife. Johnston’s publication arrived just as the telephone was in its infancy, which in turn, generated its own industry and cultural legacy.

     The Telegrapher’s Song
From every corner of the earth
The startling news we bring;
We weave a girdle round the globe
And guide the lightning’s wing.
Far as the distant, thunder rolls
O’er stream and rock and sea,
We join the nations in one clasp
Of friendly unity.
We touch our key, and, quick as thought,
The message onward flies —
For every point within the world
Right at our elbow lies.
Ours is the greatest boon to man
That genius yet has given —
To make a messenger of thought
The lightning bolts of Heaven.

 

“to meet a real live telegrapher, one who could read what she clicked off the little window fastener, and answer her in the same ” language,” was more than her 
most vivid imagination could have fancied.”

 

“The first picture shows how an operator’s salary may, after a while, depend upon the size of his ears— a man with a very small ear receiving but $30 a month, while one with an ear as large as a donkey’s receives $100. Number two shows the anatomical inspection by the doctor. Notice the shadow of a jackass on the wall in this picture.”

 

“Scenes on a Jersey Railroad,” page 73, shows how inexperienced and ignorant operators, or ” plugs,” as they are sneeringly styled by the better class of telegraphers, willfully delay business by both stubbornly insisting upon using the wire at the same time, neither feeling disposed to give way to the other.”

 

Description:
Lightning flashes and electric dashes :a volume of choice telegraphic literature, humor, fun, wit & wisdom. New York : W.J. Johnston, 1877.
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:2559372
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University

 

The International was a literary and arts journal founded by George Sylvester Viereck in New York prior to the onset of World War I. Viereck was an established poet and noted German sympathizer, publishing the periodical, The Fatherland, a propaganda journal funded by the German government to help promote pro-German understanding and keep America out of the war. His publications led to a lynch mob attacking his home, with Viereck escaping and seeking shelter in hotels. His pro-German leanings continued on after the war, eventually becoming a supporter of the Nazi Party. He interviewed Hitler in 1923, and afterwards, his Jewish friends denounced him as “George Swastika Viereck”. Viereck’s vocal public defense of the Nazis led to his imprisonment from 1943-47.

Adding to the radical nature of the International was the iconic Aleister Crowley. As a contributing editor, he provided essays, poems and plays. Crowley was reknown occultist, magician, poet, writer, and artist. He earned some international notoriety as an advocate for recreational drug use, sexual decadence, and his cult religion and philosophy- Thelema.

For there was never any elixir so instant magic as cocaine. Give it to no matter whom. Choose me the last losel on the earth; let him suffer all the tortures of disease; take hope, take faith, take love away from him. Then look, see the back of that worn hand, its skin discolored and wrinkled, perhaps inflamed with agonizing eczema, perhaps putrid with some malignant sore. He places on it that shimmering snow, a few grains only, a little pile of starry dust. The wasted arm is slowly raised to the head that is little more than a skull; the feeble breath draws in that radiant powder. Now we must wait. One minute — perhaps five minutes….Then happens the miracle of miracles, as sure as death, and yet as masterful as life; a thing more miraculous, because so sudden, so apart from the usual course of evolution.  – from Crowley’s article “Cocaine”, October 1917

Another notable contributor to the International was Blanche Wagstaff. She was an American poet, who began writing at age 7, and had sold her first poem by 16. She was associate editor of the International, contributing her poetry which often dealt with open sensual and sexual themes. Wagstaff had a falling out with Viereck over his vehement support of Germany. After her departure, she went on to publish several books of poetry.

 

Description:
The international. New York : Moods Pub. Co.
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:24091384
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University

 

For the Love of Books

Horatio Rogers Jr. (May 18, 1836 – November 12, 1904) committed his life to public service. A Civil War officer, lawyer, attorney general, and Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice, are among his accomplishments. Nonetheless, it was books and libraries that were his greatest love. He amassed some 4,000 volumes, tightly packed into his personal library.

As a colonel in the Union Army, Horatio Rogers, Jr., was respected and admired by those he served with during the conflict. After participating and witnessing the bloodshed at Gettysburg, he is quoted as saying, “Death seemed to be holding a carnival.” Upon his return to Rhode Island, he pursued a successful career as a lawyer and jurist, along the way seeking access to local private libraries and their hidden treasures. In 1878, he published this volume, “Private Libraries of Providence”, which provided descriptions of private libraries by some of Rhode Island’s most prominent citizens, including John Carter Brown’s library. His introductory essay, “On the Love of Books” traced notable bibliophiles in history, providing anecdotes about their passion for books and collecting, regardless of their social standing.

Thus do the extremes of society meet in appreciation of books. The lofty and the lowly are alike cheered by their presence, and solaced by their companionship. The conqueror will -not be separated from them, even in his victorious career ; and the simple artisan and the petty tradesman, after their humble labors, turn to them as to the sunlight of their existence.  –Horatio Rogers Jr.

This volume also includes a presentation letter from Horatio Rogers to the Harvard College Librarian, Justin Winsor. In the letter, Rogers describes a promise he made 20 years prior to then Harvard Librarian, John Langdon Sibley, to provide a copy of his first book for the Harvard Library collections.

Edward Field, historian of Rhode Island, eulogized Rogers with the following:

He had that love for books that comes only from the cultured mind, and his library was the object of his deep affection and regard. He was not a mere collector of books, but a profound reader, and gave to others through his published works, orations, and historical essays, the benefit of his broad reading, thorough investigation, and exhaustive research.

John Carter Brown’s Library

Joseph Cooke’s Library

Horatio Rogers Library

 

Description:
Rogers, Horatio. Private libraries of Providence :with a preliminary essay on the love of books. Providence : S.S. Rider, 1878.
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:3277352
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University

 

Swedish Gymanistics

The Swedish gymnastics movement was introduced by Pehr Henrik Ling, who created a system that focused on the integration of healthy bodily development with muscular beauty. To support his system, he invented wall bars, beams, and the box horse. His influence led to another generation of followers and innovators. Baron Nils Posse, is considered the person most responsible for introducing Swedish gymnastics to the United States. Following his graduation from the Ling School, he met and married Massachusetts native, Rose Moore, and settled in Boston with the goal of bringing Swedish gymnastics to Americans. Posse had limited success, until he met the wealthy philanthropist Mary Hemenway. In 1889, Mary Hemenway financed the Boston Conference and selected Posse, as a keynote presenter and representative for Swedish gymnastics, to propose the placement of the Swedish system into U.S. public schools. Posse went on to establish the Posse Gymnasium in 1890. After his untimely death in 1895, his wife Rose left her studies at Radcliffe to oversee the gym. She created the Posse Gymnasium Journal to publicize and share gymnastic developments and trends.

“The Swedish system of gymnastics is distinguished from other methods in the fact that a special apparatus is not absolutely needed for its exercises. If any argument were necessary to prove the hygienic and intellectual benefits of physical exercise, in these days of varied athletics, a scrutiny of the handbook now under notice would excite due enthusiasm. The whole range of gymnastic performance, from the simplest to the most complex exercises, is herein put before the reader with explicit directions for practice, and with a gratifying abundance of illustrations. The fact that the English language has hitherto had no comprehensive manual on the Swedish system is the occasion of the publication ; the official service of Baron Posse confirms his fitness for the authorship of this book of rules; while in mechanical arrangement nothing seems to have been omitted that would induce fondness for gymnastic practice.” 

“The author prefers to call this the Swedish system, although it was originated by P. H. Ling; for many improvements- have been made since Ling’s clay, and what he devised has been changed from a personal into a national matter, just as has Jahn’s movement in Germany.”

“In gymnastics it is essential that the dress be loose so as to allow full freedom of motion ; consequently collars and anything tight around the limbs should be removed. As for corsets, it is to be hoped that no one will be rash enough to practise gymnastics while embraced by this enemy of womanly health and beauty. The costume should be light in weight, so that the increase of bodily heat may not become excessive : however, it need not be any thinner than what should commonly be worn in-doors, for such a dress, especially in the winter, should always be light if we wish to avoid taking colds.”

   

 
Description:
Posse, Nils. The Swedish system of educational gymnastics. Boston : Lee and Shepard, c1890.
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:1193560
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University

 

The cliched image of friends and family gathered around a fireplace during Christmas had its origins in the Victorian Age. While people in rural villages would gather for conversation and entertainment at the local inn, the urban middle class of the Victorian era would typically entertain themselves and their friends in parlors of their own homes. During the 19th century, middle class families enjoyed more leisure time than before, which in turn triggered the creation of various games to entertain gentleman, ladies, and children. Many of these parlor games involved logic puzzles or riddles, while others involved physical performances, acting, or charades. Furthermore, there would be opportunity to combine card tricks, magic, or legerdemain into the mix. Not all of these activities were benign, many were downright dangerous, introducing chemicals, electric sparks, and fire. For example there was the “Method of receiving the Electric Shock from a Cat”, “To make a Room seem on Fire”, or “To Detonate Fulminating Copper by Friction”

This pamphlet from 1830 is one of the earliest publications directed toward the growing Victorian middle class aiming at providing a wide range of activities families could incorporate into their Christmas celebrations. The author describes it–

the whole admirably calculated to beguile the leisure hours of our Holiday Friends….The Tricks, Puzzles, Conundrums, &c. which are now presented, hare been selected from the best works, —some have never yet appeared before the Public in print. If the perusal of the following pages, afford one hour’s amusement, the Author’s wishes will be obtained.”

Some examples:

Incombustible Paper. Dip a sheet of paper in strong alum-water, and when dry, repeat the process a second and third time. As soon as it is dry, you may put it in the flame of a candle, and it will not burn.

To make a party appear ghastly. This can only be done in a room. Take half a pint of spirits, and having warmed it, put a handful of salt with it into a bason; then set it on fire, and it will have the effect of making every person within its influence look hideous.

Easy method of Constructing paper Balloons. Take several sheets of silk paper, cut them like the covering of the sections of an orange, join these pieces together into a globular body, and border the opening with a ribbon, leaving the ends that you may suspend the following lamp: make a small basket of very fine wire, if the balloon is small, and suspend it from the following opening, so that the smoke from the flames of a few sheets of paper wrapped together and dipped in oil, may heat the inside of it, before you light this paper, suspend the balloon so that it may, in a great measure, be exhausted of air, and, as soon as it has been dilated, let it go, together with the basket, which will serve as ballast.

Write upon Glass by the rays of the Sun. Dissolve chalk in aqua-fortis to the consistence of milk, and add to it a solution of silver. Keep this liquor in a decanter, well stopped. Then cut out from a paper the letters you would have appear, and paste the paper upon the decanter, which is to be placed in the sun, in such a manner that its rays may pass through the spaces cut out of the pa per, and fall on the surface of the liquor. The part of the glass through which the rays pass will turn black, and that under the water will remain white. You must observe not to move the bottles during the time of the operation.

 

Description:
Holiday frolics, or Endless amusement for the Christmas fireside containing the most astonishing feats of legerdemain, and astounding conjurings; entertaining experiments in various branches of science; tricks with cards & dice. Art of making fireworks; together with an excellent collection of puzzles, conundrums, riddles, charades, & c. & c. The whole admirably calculated to beguile the leisure hours of our holiday friends. London : W. Strange, 1830.
Persistent Link:
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:32540382
Repository:
Widener Library
Institution:
Harvard University

 

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

 

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