October 1st, 2013

Faustian correction

One of the great joys of cataloging at Houghton is that surprises lurk everywhere. From the most innocuous description in a box list one can stumble across masterpieces, or sometimes even more interestingly, milestones on the path to masterpiece-dom. Last night I opened what I thought would be an early full score of Gounod’s Faust, only to discover what appears to be a rare proof copy.

2007TW-83 (477) title page
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September 27th, 2013

New information about Emily Dickinson’s furniture

This past spring, Houghton Library collaborated with the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst and the North Bennet Street School in Boston to create exact reproductions of the writing desk and bureau originally in Emily Dickinson’s bedroom in the Homestead. Since 1950, the two iconic pieces have been part of the Emily Dickinson Collection at the Library, the gift of Gilbert Montague, Class of 1901.

As part of the project, the Library asked Sean Fisher of Robert Mussey Associates furniture conservation to do detailed condition reports on the two pieces. We suspected that the finishes were later than Dickinson’s lifetime; and there were some minor condition problems with the bureau. This would be an opportunity to learn more about the furniture.

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September 27th, 2013

Auspicious Debuts: Dear Liar

Jerome Kilty and Cavada Humphrey in Dear Liar, 1960. Angus McBean Photograph (MS Thr 581). © Harvard Theatre Collection, Harvard UniversityOn July 31, 1957, a thin crowd at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium in Cambridge, Mass. listened as Jerome Kilty (Harvard ’41) and Cavada Humphrey read—or pretended to read—from the correspondence of George Bernard Shaw, “the well-known vegetarian,” and famed English actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell.

Campbell.   Perhaps some day, if you are very good and behave properly at rehearsal I will write you a love letter.

Shaw.   A love letter! Sancta Simplicitas! When did you ever write me anything else? No; let me write; and do you pray for us both; for there is always danger when that devilment Love is at work!

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September 26th, 2013

New Digitization Roundup, Part VI

Mandelʹshtam, Osip, 1891-1938. Primus : detskie stikhotvorenii︠a︡, 1925. Typ 958.25.555With this post we’ve now caught up on Houghton’s digitization for the 2012-2013 fiscal year; look for future updates coming soon, and remember that you can click on the Digitization tag for all our blog posts on the subject. Highlights in this post include an expose of the 19th century impostor known as Princess Caraboo, the logbook of the whaling ship General Scott, and documents of an early colonial governor of South Carolina.
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September 25th, 2013

Gigantic Bats in Space!

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

Voyage dans la lune avant 1900 is an extraordinary French children’s book that is composed primarily of color lithographs by Herold & Cie., which are based on the original designs of A. de Ville d’Avray’s.  Almost nothing about the author A. de Ville d’Avray is known.  In his Preface he says that he made the book for his children “sheet by sheet during the long evenings of winter.”  It was published around 1892 and is considered by some to be the first science fiction book.  The text features two characters M. Baboulifiche and his faithful servant, Papavoine.   They transport themselves in a hot air ballon to the moon, but after crashing face a number of monstrous and surreal creatures.  Once they are able to escape some dangerous situations on the moon they are taken by gigantic bats to Saturn and end up suffering several versions of death, including being eaten by flying lizards.  In the end we discover that it was all a terrible dream as Baboulifiche wakes up safe in his home.    Voyage dans la lune avant 1900 / par A. De Ville D’Avray. Paris : Librairie Furne, Jouvet & Cie., [1892]. PN56.V6 V4 1892. can be found at Houghton Library along with many other more contemporary science fiction titles in their Science Fiction Collection.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, and Ryan Wheeler, Rare Book Cataloger, for contributing this post.

September 20th, 2013

Myths debunked: Sadly, Theodore Roosevelt never rode a moose

Many of Theodore Roosevelt’s adventures seem like something out of a tall tale: he survived an assassination attempt; nearly died while exploring the Amazonian jungle; and became the first president to drive a car and fly in a plane; among many others. Despite having been a larger-than-life figure, this is one thing that TR never did:

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September 19th, 2013

New Digitization Roundup, Part V

Catholic Church. Psalter with canticles : manuscript, [ca. 1300]. MS Lat 394Another batch of new digitization has us nearly caught up! This week’s highlights include an illuminated medieval manuscript, early printed music, and the biography of a 19th century tattooed sideshow performer.
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September 13th, 2013

New Digitization Roundup, Part IV

Tavernier, Melchior, d. 1641. Theatre contenant la description de la carte generale de tout le monde,1642. 45-1198*Highlights in this installment of newly digitized works include a manuscript J.E. Bach sonata, the original drawings for woodcuts in a 1550 book, a 1785 treatise on ballooning, and a detailed 16th century map of Constantinople.
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September 6th, 2013

New Digitization Roundup, Part III

Ronconi, Francesco, 17th cent. Applausi poetici alle glorie della signora Leonora Baroni, 1639. Mus 1452.15More newly digitized complete works and substantial collections. Highlights this week include a 1485 hunting manuscript with beautiful miniatures, compositions by Pauline Viardot-García, and biographies of sideshow performers.
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September 5th, 2013

Emily Dickinson’s Music Book (EDR 469)

In her formative years, the American poet Emily Dickinson’s interests centered on the study of voice and especially piano, for which she displayed considerable accomplishment and ambition. Her correspondence supplies the background for these activities while the contents of her music book provides a revealing perspective on just how assiduously and enthusiastically she collected, listened to, and performed the music of her time.

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