May 26th, 2016

Flying carpet

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

Img0021 Richard Halliburton was an American adventurer, journalist, and travel writer who may be best remembered as swimming the length of the Panama canal and only paying 36 cents for his toll.  He apparently caught the travel bug while in college at Princeton.  For a time he left school to travel as a seaman sailing from America to Europe.  Though he did return to finish his studies Halliburton decided upon graduation to travel the world and write about it so he could make a living.  The Flying Carpet chronicles his adventures with aviator Moye Stephens whom he hired to fly them across the world in an open cockpit biplane.


They left on Christmas day in 1930 and it took them 18 months and 34 countries.  Halliburton’s book was a best-seller at the time and included fascinating anecdotes of the places and people he met during this adventure.  For instance in Timbuctoo he encountered the Tuareg, a tribe that requires all men be veiled, while the women, who go about unveiled, are in control of all social life.  Img0022

There is also a fascinating chapter about their time in the Imperial Prison in Teheran.  As it turns out it wasn’t because they committed any crimes, but that they wanted to see what life was like inside, so they appealed to the Shah.  After establishing that they wanted to live as prisoners for a few days, thereby getting to know the “Persian scene” their request was granted.  Inside the prison they encountered many types of people including an older gentleman named Babadul, pictured on the right side of the photograph with Halliburton in the middle.  Apparently Babadul was a quite bothersome bandit and was serving a life sentence for killing a tax collector, only being spared death by his advanced age.


After covering 33,660 miles Halliburton and Stephens ended their trip in Manila Bay before taking the S.S. President McKinley back to San Francisco.  Halliburton continued to write extensively on other travels and topics mainly through newspaper commissions, including the Boston Globe.

In 1939 Halliburton undertook his last adventure sailing a Chinese junk from Hong Kong to San Francisco.  The Sea Dragon set out in March and three weeks later they encountered a typhoon and Halliburton was lost at sea.

 The flying carpet / by Richard Halliburton. Garden City, N.Y. : Garden City Pub. Co., 1932. G440 .H25 1932. can be found in Widener’s collection.  


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

May 19th, 2016

Free love, free land

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



Free love and communal living dominated the Counterculture Movement throughout the United States, nowhere as widespread as in San Francisco, California. Young people fled to the Haight-Ashbury district in the late 1960s and early 1970s, seeking to escape capitalism and the Vietnam War, changing American society in the process. In 1966, word in the Haight spread that a “Digger ranch” was forming further north in Sonoma County. Folk musician Lou Gottlieb had purchased land in the area, and was offering to share the land to any and all people interested in a communal lifestyle.

The Morning Star commune existed in Sonoma County from 1966 to 1973, at one point housing over 100 people on the 31-acre property. Residents of the commune called their lifestyle choice “voluntary primitivism.” They committed to growing their own organic food, much of which was sent to the Diggers in San Francisco. Residents practiced free love and often roamed the land in the nude, prompting various complaints from their neighbors. A 1967 Time Magazine article about the commune led to a population boom, and drew the attention of local authorities.

Beginning in 1967, local authorities began searching and raiding the property, sending Gottlieb cease and desist orders, citing unsafe and unsanitary living conditions. Allegedly, federal authorities also began visiting the commune, searching for draft evaders. For the next several years, Gottlieb and the other residents of Morning Star would repeatedly face shut downs, including the bull dozing of their shelters in 1971.



After half a decade of fighting for the open land movement, Gottlieb abandoned Morning Star for India. He deeded the property to “God,” a final act which would go all the way to the state Supreme Court and cost Gottlieb nearly all of his life savings. The courts would finally deciding that deeding land to a higher power was impossible, especially considering no one would be available to pay property taxes.

To learn more, The Morning Star scrapbook:’n the pursuit of happiness can be found in Widener’s collection: Occidental, California: Friends of Morning Star, 1973.

Thanks to Irina Rogova, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.

May 13th, 2016

Prompt Service: Cataloging the HTC Promptbooks

23498_34_45_wadmanFor much of the past year, I have had the pleasure of cataloging promptbooks from the Harvard Theatre Collection. Promptbooks are texts of plays which have been annotated with stage directions, alterations, descriptions of scenery or sound effects, and other details from actual use in the theatre. They function almost like a blueprint to a particular stage production. The Harvard Theatre Collection holds thousands of them, mostly dating from the late 18th through 20th centuries, a significant number of which remain uncatalogued. Many others are only minimally cataloged, with records that omit valuable information relating to their unique manuscript annotations. My job has been to improve access to this remarkable collection, giving the promptbooks HOLLIS catalog records that include access points for genre terms (mainly “acting editions” and “promptbooks”) and, crucially, the names of the actors and other former owners who inscribed their names in them. To date, I have identified over 120 unique owners, all of them now searchable in HOLLIS, ranging from celebrities such as Laura Keene and Edwin Booth, to relative obscurities like Frederick Chippendale and the enigmatically named Q. K. Philander Doesticks. What follows is a kind of highlight reel of my year in promptbooks, four interesting examples selected from the hundreds that have passed across my desk.
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May 12th, 2016

How to Kiss Right

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


This collection includes a lot of erotica, particularly from the 19th-century, but it also includes a lot of sex humor books including this one titled How to do sex properly by Bruce Aiken, Bridgid Herridge and Colin Rowe.  It reveals a fascinating glimpse of popular attitudes towards sex in the 1980s.  This satiric take on subject relies heavily on illustration most often using stuffed teddy bears throughout the text.

Img0004 They cover topics such as “learning to kiss right” by recommending that one’s eyes can be open or closed and suggesting a tilted head if your nose is too big.  They also counsel making a practice mouth with your hand.   Img0009

Another hilarious section outlines possible hiding places should you be caught “doing it.”  The dotted lines denote the various options which include A. Outside on ledge.  You should first have checked that there is a ledge.  B. Hanging from ledge.  Not recommended for long periods.  C. Under rug.  Try not to sneeze.


And if you are trying to keep things exciting they recommend role play.  Img0007You can see these bears are enacting an Arabian Nights theme. To read about what other mischief these bears could be up to you can find How to do sex properlyby a “team of experts,” or Bruce Aiken, Bridgid Herridge and Colin Rowe. London : F. Muller, 1982 in Widener’s collection.  

The authors apologize in advance if they cause any offense to the reader or “distress” to the bears.


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

May 11th, 2016

Emily Dickinson Black Cake Video Wins Award

Houghton librarians Heather Cole, Emilie Hardman, and Emily Walhout. Not pictured: Mochi, the cat, co-star of the black cake video.

Houghton librarians Heather Cole, Emilie Hardman, and Emily Walhout in Houghton Library’s Emily Dickinson room. Not pictured: Mochi, the cat.

At the first film festival sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries, Harvard Library took first place for Best Collections-Focused Film for Houghton Library’s video on baking Emily Dickinson’s original black cake. Heather Cole, Emilie Hardman, and Emily Walhout created the video as a way to document their attempt to authentically recreate Dickinson’s cake recipe for her 185th birthday celebration last December.

The inspiration behind the video was to capture “a moment of joy,” said Hardman, who is a research, instruction, and digital initiatives librarian. It was also another way to invite people to explore the digital collections available at Houghton, which includes the largest collection of Emily Dickinson’s poems and letters in the world. Many poems are accessible to all via the Emily Dickinson Archive.

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May 5th, 2016

Search & Destroy

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



Launched in 1977, Search & Destroy was the first punk rock and new wave publication to emerge in San Francisco. Created by V. Vale, who began publishing the zine through his employer, City Lights Bookstore, Search & Destroy was initially funded with $200 in contributions from Allen Ginsberg and City Lights co-founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti as a way to document the growing punk movement in the Bay Area. While the scene in New York City was already being noticed by the rest of the country, Vale found little coverage of punk on the west coast.


Vale’s vision for the magazine was inspired by Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, which was filled with art and in-depth interviews. Vale, like many of the players at the onset of punk, frequently referenced the Dada and Surrealist movements. He also included interviews with authors that inspired rising musicians, like William Burroughs and J.G. Ballard. Search & Destroy featured artists who would become legends of this moment in music history – Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Jello Biafra, and the list goes on.


The zine itself allowed for the political to enter the conversation—Vale and his team are credited as experts in getting artists to discuss their own politics, and also ran a semi-regular “Politics of Punk” column. Vale distributed the zine across the country, no doubt having a hand in the D.I.Y. zine culture that would become synonymous with punk rock for the next several decades.

To learn more, the complete run of Search & Destroy can be found in Widener’s collection: San Francisco: City Lights, 1977-1979.

Thanks to Irina Rogova, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.

May 4th, 2016

Epithalamion for Bianca Maria Sforza

Houghton Library recently acquired a rare copy of one of the first independently printed wedding orations.  Ad Serenissimum Maximilianum inuictissimu[m] Romanoru[m] rege[m]: in auspicatissimis eius & Augustæ Blanche mariæ nuptiis: Epithalamion. [Milan, Leonardus Pachel after 8 April 1494]. (ISTC im00401800) was written by Giasone del Maino (1435-1519) and delivered in praise of the couple at Innsbruck in celebration of the marriage in March 1494 of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519) and Bianca Maria Sforza (1472-1510).

Cynically arranged by her uncle, Ludovico Sforza, then Regent and later ruler of Milan, the union hinged on the exchange of the bride’s huge dowry for the Emperor’s raising of Milan to an imperial duchy. Treated as chattel since birth and twice married by proxy before she reached the age of fourteen, Bianca never gained Maximilian’s affections, never bore him an heir (after several miscarriages and stillbirths) and even served as physical security for his debts. There is no copy known of this edition in the United States.

Inc 5996 | Bianca Maria Sforza, ca. 1493. Ambrogio de Predis. Source: Google Art Project

William P. Stoneman, Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts, contributed this post.

April 28th, 2016


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


If you are looking for “classic tobacco accoutrements” this volume of Smokerama is just the ticket!  In today’s anti-smoking climate it may seem hard to imagine that smoking was once considered a sophisticated and glamorous habit and accessories for smoking were just as important as the cigarettes themselves.  For example cigarette dispensers were quite popular and all of the various models had their own clever mechanism for dispensing.  You would only have to depress this dapper gentleman’s spotted bow-tie and a cigarette (stored horizontally inside the head) would appear at his lips.  Or if you wanted to be a bit more whimsical you could enjoy this Ronson penguin “Pik-a-Cig” which was both a dispenser and a lighter.  Simply press the lever and a cigarette rolls to the bottom where it can be retrieved by the penguin and lit with the attached lighter.


Another big favorite from the thirties were these stylized bellhops who helpfully carried these bags of cigarettes.



Book matches have historically been used for messages that advertise restaurants, bars, political campaigns, and other special events.  But during World War II book matches were utilized by many propaganda writers who created some memorable slogans such as “Make it Hot for Hitler.”  These Strike ’em Dead matches contained a row of Adolf matches dressed in army uniforms just waiting to be stuck dead when lit.

Img0011Women were also not left out of the occassion as tobacco companies began to target their business at the turn of the century.  In a bid to get more women to buy cigarettes they included these illustrated silks (really satin inserts) in packs of cigarettes, hoping that this prize would encourage their smoking habit.  These were associated with the more expensive cigarettes and consisted of flags, comic images, and women.  The companies also made larger sizes of these “silks” that could be obtained as long as they had evidence of the purchase of cigarettes.

To read more about America’s favorite pastime you can find this in Widener’s collection. Smokerama : classic tobacco accoutrements / Philip Collins ; photography by Sam Sargent. San Francisco : Chronicle Books, c1992.

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

April 27th, 2016

A library for a stage, students to act

Last night, within the girdle of Houghton’s walls, Harvard’s own Hyperion Shakespeare Company worked on our imaginary forces, staging five scenes from Shakespeare on four unworthy scaffolds throughout the library. Visitors jumped o’er time, from room to room, to behold the swelling scene! Thank you Hyperion!


Kira Telgen ’19 as Malcolm, Philip van Scheltinga ’19 as Ross, and Ezra Feldman ’02 as Macduff in Macbeth.

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April 26th, 2016

Sherlock shoots up, in shorthand

Sign of four 2This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

Among the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, the Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library took a particular collecting interest in his second Sherlock Holmes novel, The sign of the four. The novel’s opening lines, here quoted from the Ludlow’s third edition of the George Newnes edition (left), serve to explain why:

Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantelpiece, and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case. With his long, white, nervous fingers he adjusted the delicate needle, and rolled back his left shirt-cuff. For some little time his eyes rested thoughtfully upon the sinewy forearm and wrist, all dotted and scarred with innumerable puncture-marks. Finally, he thrust the sharp point home, pressed down the tiny piston, and sank back into the velvet-lined arm-chair with a long sigh of satisfaction.

‘Which is it to-day,’ I asked, ‘morphine or cocaine?’

He raised his eyes languidly from the old black-letter volume which he had opened.

‘It is cocaine,’ he said, ‘a seven-per-cent. solution. Would you care to try it?’ (1892 Newnes edition, pages 1-3)

The scene progresses into a disagreement between Holmes and Watson on the advisability of the former’s drug-taking: Holmes sees the cocaine as an escape from the intolerable dullness of life between cases, while Watson fears for his Holmes’s health. (In a later story, The adventure of the missing three-quarter, Watson describes having weaned his friend off of his narcotic habit.)

Here we have much of the substance of Sherlock Holmes’s reputation as a drug user. Part of the study of drugs in literature, however, is the study of their absence. Among the Ludlow Library’s holdings are multiple abridgments from which all reference to drugs has been expunged. The one pictured below is an illustrated 1960 Hart Publishing edition intended for younger audiences. It opens on a fabricated scene-setting paragraph, and moves into a revised version of the argument mentioned above. Holmes again proclaims his disdain for mental stagnation, but declines to mention any recreational means of avoiding it.

Sign of four 3     Sign of four 4

Finally, a curiosity that hints at the depth of the Ludlow Library’s collection. The third version of The sign of the four pictured here is faithful, one assumes, to the original text, but is printed entirely in Pitman shorthand, one of the two shorthand systems most popular in the early twentieth century. Both systems used symbols to represent phonemes rather than words (such that the symbols for rye and wry would be identical). One distinguishing feature of Pitman is that pairs of unvoiced and voiced consonants, such as p/b or t/d, use the same marks, but are differentiated by their thickness. To the uninitiated, only numerals and punctuation marks are decipherable. A volume like this could have been used for practice in translating shorthand back to written English, or simply read for pleasure. The Santo Domingo collection augments an already-considerable Doyle collection at Houghton: this volume is only one of two Pitman shorthand editions held here.

Sign of four 6   Sign of four 7

Newnes edition: EC9.D7722.892sc

Hart abridged edition: EC9.D7722.960s

Pitman shorthand edition: EC9.D7722.Ez930s

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

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