March 23rd, 2017

A Postcard for every Occasion

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring recently cataloged items from the Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library


Pulps are so called because of the low quality of paper, coarse untreated paper produced from wood pulp, on which they were printed. Because the quality of paper was so poor it meant that it was cheap thus keeping production costs low and the subsequent cost for the reader low as well.  Also because it was already so cheap they didn’t need advertisers within the early magazines.  Pulp magazines typically published escapist fiction for the popular entertainment of a mass audience and it was an incredibly successful model.  By 1915 it is estimated that a combination of eight of these magazines had a readership of 15% of the U.S. population.  These pulp novels featured cover art that revels in exploitation fantasies and lurid depictions of women, teenagers, sex, and drugs.  Teen-rebel dope fiends is book of postcards featuring some of the most daring covers which were immediately familiar to me because we have the original pulps in the collection.

img0018 For instance we have this paperback edition of Claude Farrere’s Black Opium, originally Fumée d’opium, translated from the French by Samuel Putnam at Houghton.  You can see that the cover blurb appears to feign disgust about the use of opium calling it “…shocking ecstasy of the forbidden”, but the illustration of the woman coming out of the opium pipe is clearly celebrating a sensationalist attitude designed to titillate the readers.  img0020I also noticed the postcard cover of Junkie by William Lee, a pseudonym for William S. Burroughs.  This was the first published novel by Burroughs, it was semi-autobiographical and dealt with his experiences with heroin.  It was bound back-to-back with Narcotic Agent an abridgement of the memoirs of FBI agent Maurice Helbrant in an attempt to balance out unapologetic stories of drug use.  So two books for the low price of 35 cents.  The publisher A. A. Wyn also insisted that Burroughs add a preface explaining how someone like Burroughs, a Harvard graduate from a prominent family, was a drug addict.  

The illustration on the cover of Junkie is again typical of these pulps.  We see an attractive blond woman in a scarlet skirt being forced to release her desperate grip on a syringe with other drug implements strewn across a table.  Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict practically screams at the reader about the depravity of drugs and the unsavory consequences that can be found within its pages.  Junkie is particularly interesting because of its evolution of cover art as Burroughs became a respected writer.  It transforms from a “cheap shocker” to a respected cult novel by the 50th Anniversary publication.

junkie_william_s-_burroughs_novel_-_2003_coverPulps have often been deemed unworthy of study because they epitomize mainstream culture of the 20th-century and until recently not many have been interested in this area of research, particularly academia.  I would argue that the look at popular culture is exactly what makes pulps so fascinating to us today and more and more researchers are interested in studying them.  However pulps can be challenging to collect because they are so ephemeral and people just read them and never thought about saving them.  Also there are preservation challenges because of the cheap paper so they are brittle making handling of them difficult.  Luckily for us some collectors saw the value in keeping these types of novels and in the Ludlow-Santo Domingo collection there are an abundance of these pulp novels, many of whose covers are featured in this delightful volume of postcards.

To get a glimpse of more pulp covers you can find Teen-rebel dope fiends : pulp postcardsLondon : Prion, 2000 in Widener’s collection. 

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

March 15th, 2017

The [n.d.]s of March, or, Recataloging Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar, 1684A few weeks ago I was in the stacks on some bibliographical errand relating to modern acting editions of Julius Caesar, when I took a moment to appreciate that nearby on the shelf were several seventeenth-century quarto editions of the play. One was dated 1684, another 1691, and between them, intriguingly, were four undated editions. Shelved as they were among old transfers from Widener, I wondered if the HOLLIS records for these Restoration era quartos were really up to snuff.

In the case of the editions dated 1684 and 1691, it is gratifying to report that the HOLLIS records were fine, if not up to the standard they might receive if the library acquired them today. Author, title, imprint, date, extent, a few notes and references were all present — these were decent records. The four undated editions, however, needed some attention.
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March 13th, 2017

New on OASIS in March

Below are the finding aids for twelve new or newly cataloged collections in the OASIS database.

Processed by: Michael Austin
José María Castañé collection of 20th-century conflict papers. Autographed portraits of military leaders, circa 1937-1968 (MS Span 177)

Processed by: Adrien Hilton
Carl Peirce papers, 1883-1907 (MS Thr 1580)
Collection of correspondence and ephemera of Leonard Bernstein and others, 1932-1994 (MS Thr 1564)
Anthony Bailey papers, circa 1938-2011 (MS Eng 1651)
Susanne Langer papers, 1895-1985 (MS Am 3110)
Alan Ansen papers, circa 1938-2006 (MS Am 3104)
Edwin Arlington Robinson letters to Arthur Raymond Gledhill, 1889-1896 (MS Am 1337.5)

Processed by: Ashley Nary
Ripley and Thayer families papers (MS Am 3068)
Houghton Library collection of theatre related autographs (MS Thr 467)

Processed by: Melanie Wisner
Peter Whitmer papers concerning counterculture, circa 1966-2015 (MS Am 3105)

Processed by: Susan Wyssen
Santo Domingo French hardbound comics, circa 1956-2006 (MS Fr 677)
Santo Domingo underground comics collection, circa 1968-2000 (MS Am 3107)

March 7th, 2017

An Actress Prepares

A promptbook I’ve been working on recently, The Amber Heart, by Alfred Calmour (1857?-1912), is bound in tan leather wrappers with its title stamped in gold on cover and spine. Inside, the covers are decorated with gorgeous red-violet marbled endpapers edged with intricate gold stamping. The book resides in a quarter tan calf and cloth case. It’s not one of those well-worn, frayed working scripts, full of hastily scrawled notes, but rather a treasured memento of a theatrical experience.

Ellen Terry, one of the most celebrated British Shakespearean actresses of the late 19th century/early 20th century, originated the main role of Ellaline in The Amber Heart, presented by actor-manager Henry Irving in 1887 in London, when she was 40 years old, 12 years later playing it in repertory with the Irving company in New York in 1899, with a return engagement in 1900. Here is an image of Terry in the role.

Ellen Terry’s family was a true British theatrical dynasty whose most famous members also include Ellen’s elder sister actress Kate Terry, her son the set designer Gordon Craig, and her nephew John Gielgud. The Theatre Collection copy is inscribed by Ellen Terry to her niece Minnie, daughter of her brother Charles Terry, and a noted child actress in Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s company by the time she was six years old. The inscription is dated “Christmas, 1902”; Ellen Terry would already have completed her successful Broadway run of the play.

Ellen Terry’s inscription in Minnie’s copy of the play

Ellen Terry’s inscription in Minnie’s copy of the play

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February 28th, 2017

“A Harbinger of Those Peaceful Times to Come”: A Gift from the People of Great Britain

houghton75The brief ceremony that marked the opening of Houghton Library on 28 February 1942 took place only months after the United States had entered World War II following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Professor Charles K. Webster of the University of London was one of three speakers along with Harvard University President James Conant and donor Arthur A. Houghton, Jr.  Webster had been Professor of History at Harvard from 1928 until 1932 when he became Stevenson Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science, but was there to represent the British Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency The Rt. Hon. Viscount Halifax.  At this occasion an incunable copy of John of Salisbury’s Polycraticus, a treatise on political and ethical philosophy including a major exploration of the responsibilities of rulers and their people, was presented to Harvard University on behalf of the people of Great Britain.  This edition was printed in Brussels between 1479 and 1481.  Webster alluded in his remarks to the scholarship of the great Harvard professor Charles Homer Haskins and his work on the twelfth-century renaissance during which John of Salisbury wrote his treatise and the statement by Halifax read by Webster concluded on the appropriateness of this gift at this time.  John of Salisbury’s ideal ruler:

is or should be subject of a higher law than any made on earth.  This central doctrine is one which has not lost its appeal for American and Englishmen today, for they and their allies are fighting side by side for just one principle – the principle that might cannot go unhampered either by Christian morality or even by man-made law.  There is then a fitness in the choice of this celebrated book as a gift to Harvard University from the people of Great Britain.

inc_9337The book presented (Walsh 3931; ISTC ij00425000), now Inc 9337, contains the book plates of two distinguished English book collectors, who owned the volume before it entered Houghton Library.  Charles Butler (1821-1910), lived in London, but kept his library at Warren Wood in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.  It was included in the sale of his library at Sotheby’s, London, on 5 April 1911 as lot no. 600 and sold for £11 to the Liverpool booksellers, Henry Young and Sons.  John Charrington (1856-1939), of The Grange, Shenley, Hertfordshire was a coal merchant, but was also Honorary Keeper of Prints at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge University and a very great benefactor of that Museum.  It was included in the sale of his library at Sotheby’s, London, on 18 December 1939, as lot no. 254 and sold for £35 to the London booksellers, E. Ph. Goldschmidt. Three years later the book was presented to Houghton. Presumably a representative for the British government bought the incunable from Goldschmidt, however the chain of ownership between 1939 and 1942 is at present unclear.

In accepting the book on behalf of Harvard, President Conant concluded:

I like to think that this gift of yours is, therefore, a harbinger of those peaceful times to come when in increasing numbers British and American scholars will literally fly back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean to share their labors and their treasures.




Bookplates from Inc 9337

For a description of Houghton Library’s opening ceremony, see Harvard University Library Notes (March 1942): 61-67, and Harvard Alumni Bulletin (February 1942): 340-342.

William P. Stoneman, Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts

February 23rd, 2017

Mo’ money, Mo’ plant problems

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring recently cataloged items from the Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library


If you are looking for some practical advice on how to grow cannabis under fluorescent lighting I’ve got just the book for you!  A guide to growing Cannabis under fluorescents by C.E. Faber was published in 1974.  Tips on soil, lighting, containers, pruning, and the best types of seeds are only a few of the chapters in this book.  


The section that I found most fascinating dealt with the problem of insects when you are growing pot.  The author points out that you are at an advantage growing inside because you are not dealing with the typical problems in a field like grasshoppers, slugs, or snails which could “meance your plants.”

What you do need to worry about are things like aphids.  img0003Typically they attack the tender growth tips and buds and can injure plants by sucking the juices from both the stems and leaves of the plant as well as excreting honeydew which serves as a culture for black mold.  Unchecked they will spread over the entire plant then move onto others.  Aphids are only about one thirty-second of an inch long and are prodigious at producing offspring.  Faber counsels that there are really only two choices, one involves going organic and using their natural enemies either the ladybug or the praying mantis and the second involves spraying with insecticide.

Another pot foe is the two spotted spider-mite.   They feed off the plant in the same manner as the aphid causing the leaves to turn a stippled grey-yellow, then brown only to fall off the plant.  img0006They can vary in color and are so tiny it takes a magnifying glass to see them clearly.  Often you can only spot them by looking at the underside of the leaves where small dots of silver indicate the webs to which eggs are attached.  They multiply quickly and your only option is spraying with insecticide again and again.

Location is as you might imagine is extremely important.  The plants need fresh air for the carbon dioxide, so if you are going to put them in a closet be sure to open it for air circulation every day.  If you are committed to growing pot in your house you also need to think about your pets.  Cats in particular love to nibble on vegetation and if you aren’t careful you may come home to a plant that has served as a tasty snack.

I’ll leave you with some of Faber’s advice…“One more thing.  Plants do prefer classical music to rock; violins to electric guitars, Stravinski to the Stones, so if you have a predilection for rock it would be best for your plants to have them in a separate room from your stereo.”  A guide to growing Cannabis under fluorescents by C.E. Faber ; ill. by A. Faber. Philadelphia : Flash Post Express, 1974 can be found in Widener’s collection.  


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

February 17th, 2017

The Houghton75 Podcast

We’re happy to announce a new way of learning about the Houghton Library collections and the people that use them. The Houghton75 podcast! Houghton75 will present different voices and perspectives on Houghton Library in its seventy-fifth year.

The series kicks off with Harvard faculty members sharing their thoughts on the collection item they chose for the exhibition HIST 75H: A Masterclass on Houghton Library. The chosen item acts as a springboard for a broader conversation about their research and teaching. The first two episodes are up and ready for listening, either on SoundCloud or through iTunes or your favorite podcasting software (just search for Houghton75 and subscribe!).

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February 9th, 2017

Remember Cootie Catchers?

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring recently cataloged items from the Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library

img0029Will you live in a mansion, drive a Ferrari, get your dream job, have two kids and marry your hot 12-year old crush?  Or will your fate be to have a rusty pickup truck, work a minimum wage job, have 13 kids to feed, and live in a shack?  Cootie catchers helped us answer these difficult questions in our struggle to discover our futures!  Originally called the salt cellar it was first seen in an origami book called Fun with Paper Folding in 1928.  Apparently the cootie catcher name caught on because of the pincer like movement the folded paper makes, which can mimic catching insects, like lice.  I discovered this cootie catcher, or fortune suggester if you prefer, in an issue of X-ray magazine.  It is meant to be removed from the plastic to reveal your future!  Published by Pneumatic Press in California this

img0030 img0031

limited edition publication only produced 226 copies per issue and is actually a kind of collaborative artist book full of highly ephemeral objects, art pieces, textiles, poems, photographs, prints, and other types of materials.  Materials are tucked between pages, affixed with stickers and glue, or found inside envelopes.  The user is meant to interact with the items and every page is supposed to surprise.  I was certainly surprised when I found the page by Mike Dyar that supposedly contains his hair.  If indeed it IS his real hair did he donate it to every copy?


Another particularly delightful page was the fortune cookie.  It is designed with a cut in the page so that you can literally pull the fortune from the drawing of the cookie.  This fortune said “When you’re through changing- you’re through!”

img0034 img0035

These fascinating issues of X-ray magazine can be found in the collection of the Fine Arts Library.

Thanks to Donna Viscuglia, Cataloger and Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, for contributing this post.

January 26th, 2017


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

Originally a French lawyer, Georges Anquetil was also a journalist and publisher who was well known for unorthodox methods and anarchist leanings.  Early in his legal career he wrote under the name “Georges Evil.”  His career in journalism began at the French Mail around 1914 after he was disbarred.  After that he tried to launch various newspapers over the years mostly focusing on political satire though he was not very successful except for Le Grand Guignol, which ran for about eight years.  We have an issue from 1925 in the collection where the cover appears to give their opinion of where various types of Evian water originate.  Any type of scandal, especially img0037political, was Anquetil’s bread and butter for Le Grand Guignol.

This appetite for scandal was also true for most of Anquetil’s self publishing endeavors.  One that we discovered in the collection is La maitresse légitime : essai sur le mariage polygamique de demain.  It loosely translates to Legitimate Mistress : Essay on polygamous marriage tomorrow which was essentially an attack on monogamy.  It was hugely controversial and consequently sold a lot of copies.

Georges-Anquetil "La Maitresse Self - Test on polygamous marriage tomorrow" (Editions Georges-Anquetil - 1922) img0036

Another scandalous book deeply rooted in satire was Satan conduit le bal : roman pamphlétaire et philosophique des moeurs du temps which reads as Satan leads the ball.  It is set in France during the early 20th-century during the government of Poincare where Anquetil’s criticism spares no from socialist to nationalist.  He associates the names of prominent French figures with extreme scenes of debauchery in order to indicate that France was being led to ruin by those that governed it.  Georges Clemenceau, an early French prime minister is described as a “whoremonger” who brought victory in WWI and prostitution.  Antonin Dubost, president of the Senate, is found dead in a notorious brothel in which he was a regular customer, supposedly poisoned by police.  All three of these publications can be found in Widener’s collection.

Le grand guignol. Paris : Hachette. 

La maitresse légitime : essai sur le mariage polygamique de demainGeorges-Anquetil ; préface de Victor Margueritte. Paris : Les Editions Georges-Anquetil, 1926. 

Satan conduit le bal : roman pamphlétaire et philosophique des moeurs du temps / Georges Anquetil. Paris : Les Editions Georges-Anquetil, 1925.

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

January 12th, 2017

Artistry of Linocuts

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


This lovely artist book Geheimzinnige Personen : omtrent de flarden des levenswas was created by a Dutch artist, Margit Willems.  It loosely translates to Mysterious Persons: on the scraps of life and features 23 linocuts with text on separate pages.  You might be asking yourself what exactly is a linocut?  It is a printmaking technique that takes a linoleum sheet, often mounted on a wooden block, which is then used as a relief surface.  The artist uses tools to cut into the surface of the linoleum so that the uncarved areas will reveal a mirror image of the parts to show when printed.  Essentially the cut away areas will be white and the remaining area will be black on the linocut.


One of the early strong innovators in printmaking (including linocuts), book design, typography and illustration was Czech émigré Vojtěch Preissig.  Preissig came to America around 1910 where he taught at Colombia University and then the School of Printing and Graphic Arts at the Wentworth Institute here in Boston.  While he was at Wentworth Preissig designed recruitment posters for the United States during WWI that were aimed at Czech immigrants.

800px-find_the_range_of_your_patriotism2 manifesto_to_czechoslovakian_people_in_america_-_chicago_february_11_1918

Most of Willem’s linocuts do not use a great deal of color in this book, but when it is used it has a strong impact.  Her linocut that depicts an elderly woman who was robbed in Tubbergen (thus giving up her pincode) is an example of that.  You can see that she created the linocut as well as the typeset letters in black ink. Then she reused the typeset numbers inverted them and printed them with red ink.  It creates a striking image and also displays the skill of the artist in creating the image through several different (often laborious) steps.


Geheimzinnige Personen : omtrent de flarden des levens can be found in collection of the Fine Arts Library.

Thanks to Donna Viscuglia, Cataloger and Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, for contributing this post.

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