New on OASIS in December

Finding aids for two newly cataloged collections and a preliminary box list for a recent acquisition have been added to the OASIS database this month.

Processed by: Christine Jacobson and Irina Klyagin
Nicholas Daniloff papers (MS Am 2933)

Processed by: Kristin Alexander
Julia Marlowe collection of letters and photographs (MS Thr 1175)

New preliminary box list for collection processed by Melanie Wisner
Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave papers relating to Villard, the life and times of an American titan (MS Am 3059)

Examining “the Beat”

Beatnik 1

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

The arrival of the Beat Generation generated controversy, conversation, and in some cases literature; for some onlookers, though, it was mostly a source of opportunity. Hence Beatnik, which promises “an uncensored, unexpurgated exposé of the ‘Beat Generation’”, “profusely illustrated with candid action photos”.  Inside is a series of accounts, all by the publisher, Heater Wall, of the Beats’ debauchery and disillusionment. “BEATNIK BABE BURNED! COOL PARTY PINCHED!  BEAT BATTERS BATTY BROAD! SEX SILLY SIRENS SAPPED! DELOUSE DOPE DIZZY DAMES!” blares the headline of one article, giving the reader a sense of the writing’s lurid flavor.


A Revere-d Colonial Cookbook

52407793+We don’t have the recipes that the Pilgrims used for the first Thanksgiving feast, but we can gain some insight about the food preparation practices of the Boston colonists of 150 years later, thanks to the survival of cookbooks like Susannah Carter’s The Frugal Housewife, or Complete Woman Cook (1772), just the second cookbook printed in America. Carter was English, and only in later editions did distinctively American dishes like pumpkin pie begin to appear, but her book was highly influential and went through numerous editions in the late 18th and early 19th centuries before cookbooks by American authors began to predominate.


In addition to its collection of recipes and household hints, the book includes two illustrations by a man then best known as a silversmith and engraver, Paul Revere. (Click images to enlarge)

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Cookbooks, like many other books designed for practical, everyday use, tend to survive in small numbers. Houghton’s copy of The Frugal Housewife is one of just five held in libraries today.

[John Overholt, Curator of the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson, and Early Modern Books & Manuscripts, contributed this post.]

Father of criminology

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

Img0026Cesare Lombroso was an Italian physician and criminologist who founded the Italian School of Positivist Criminology.  Lombroso’s theory of anthropological criminology was a mix of the concepts of Social Darwinism, physiognomy, psychiatry, and degeneration theory.  Essentially he believed that people inherited criminal behavior and that these “born criminals” could be identified by specific physical anomalies.  For example he thought that a sloping forehead, ears of unusual size, asymmetry of the face, excessive length of arms, and asymmetry of the cranium signaled a return to a more primitive man reminiscent of the apes who couldn’t grasp the expectations and rules of modern society, which led them to criminal behavior.


He reached these conclusions from years of doing postmortem exams and anthropometric studies on a combination of criminals, the insane, and “normal” individuals.  Lombroso thought that specific types of criminals such as murderers, rapists, and thieves could each be identified by a specific characteristic.  His research methods were very clinically descriptive, but not a great deal of statistical comparisons of criminals versus non-criminals or any social effects on criminal behavior.

Lombroso published L’uomo di genio in 1899 in his native Italian and our French translated version of L’homme de genie is from 1909.  Translated into English both titles are known as The Man of Genius.  In the volume Lombroso states that artistic genius was essentially a form of hereditary insanity.  These fold-out plates that are at the end of the text explore the size and shape of skulls and brains, as well as signatures of these “men of genius. “

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This volume can be found in Widener’s collection.

L’homme de genie / par Cesare Lombroso ; traduite sur la VIme ed. italienne par Fr. Colonna D’Istria agrege de philosophie et M. Calderini et precedee d’une preface de Mr. Ch. Richet Professeur a la faculte de Medecine de Paris. Paris : Felix Alcan, 1909.

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

Printers on Ice

EB7.A100.740m(detail)The Thames’ frost fairs of the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries are well-documented (as well as featured in two Dr. Who episodes). They occurred during Britain’s Little Ice Age, when winters were cold enough to freeze over parts of the Thames. During them, when the ice was thick enough and lasted long enough, Londoners would take to the river for travel, trade and amusement in the form of public festivals and fairs. Among the more outlandish occurrences on the ice were bull-baiting, the roasting of whole oxen, the erecting of taverns, games of football, horse-drawn coaches, and even visiting elephants. One highly entertaining activity was the printing and selling of keepsakes:

There may you also this hard Frosty Winter,
See on the Rocky Ice a Working PRINTER,
Who hopes by his own Art to reap some gain,
Which he perchance does think he may obtain.

Great Britain’s wonder, or, London’s admiration.
[London] : Printed by M. Haly, and J. Millet …, 1684.

The men who dragged their presses onto the ice and produced these keepsakes were a competitive lot, each trying to offer the most enticing product. Some of the sheets were engraved, others were letterpress. Verses were borrowed liberally from one another, apt woodcuts added to the popular appeal, and blank spaces would be filled in with the names of individual recipients. Given the ephemeral nature of these bits of paper, it is not surprising that few survive. Of the six recently acquired by Houghton, five were previously unrecorded.