Rare Books 101

So, what are rare books exactly? Your first thought might be something like this:


Handsome, leather bound volumes that look old and valuable. To be sure, we’ve got a lot of books that look like this in Special Collections & Archives. Our rare books collections cover the spectrum, starting with the origins: fragments of papyrus and cuneiform tablets that represent the beginning of written history. There are medieval manuscripts written by hand on vellum, ranging in size from a tiny fragment from a hand-held Book of Hours to massive antiphonals used by monks for chanting prayers. Following the advent of printing in the Western world in the mid-15th century, we have a page from the Gutenberg Bible and several incunabula (books printed in the first half-century after the invention of movable type). Our holdings from sixteenth through early-nineteenth centuries offer researchers countless examples of books from the hand-press era, when every book was essentially an individual work of craftsmanship.

But sometimes, rare books look like this:


Some books are mass-produced works of popular culture. And these books are important too! For the savvy researcher, any of the rare books in our collections can tell a story about the time period and culture in which they were created. These books are important for the works of literature, history, art, philosophy, and science that they contain and also for their value as cultural objects. Our mission here at Special Collections & Archives is to preserve these books and to provide access to them, whether through our digital library or in-person at our research center on the first floor of Strozier Library. Some collection highlights include:

  • Works on Napoleon & the French Revolution
  • The John M. Shaw Collection of Childhood in Poetry
  • The Carothers Memorial Rare Bibles Collection
  • A complete run of the Kelmscott Press
  • The Gontarski Grove Press Collection
  • Artists’ Books
  • The McGregor Collection on the Discovery and Exploration of the Americas
  • The Louise Richardson Herbals Collection
  • Fore-edge paintings
  • Florida history

The materials in our rare books collections can be found by searching the online catalog and limiting the location to “Strozier, Special Collections”. If you are interested in using our rare books collections for your next research project but aren’t sure where to start, or if you are a faculty member interested in having an instruction session with rare books, please contact me, Katherine Hoarn, Visiting Rare Book and Instruction Librarian, at khoarn@fsu.edu for more information.

Heritage Protocol & University Archives 101

Heritage Protocol & University Archives (HPUA), housed in Special Collections & Archives at Florida State University Libraries, maintains the official repository of university historical records. The archive holds publications, records, photographs, audio-visual, and other material in physical or digital form created by or about Florida State University. We also archive the student experience through the acquisition and preservation of materials created or acquired by alumni while they were students at the university.

Greetings from Florida State College for Women, see full description here.
Greetings from Florida State College for Women, see full description here.

Our staff consists of Heritage Protocol & University Archivist Sandra Varry and Archives Assistant Hannah Davis. We are also fortunate to have Graduate Assistant Britt Boler with us for the fall.

Our mission is to preserve and share the history of FSU with everyone – our FSU community and the public at large. We have a great time posting photos and interesting tidbits on our Facebook page and interacting with our fans as well as attending events on and off campus to promote HPUA. We provide images and information to news and media outlets as well as to researchers. On campus an important job we have is to provide not only historical records preservation for official records, but to provide that material to the university for everything from reports or events, or to help staff do research for projects. Factual data for administrative purposes is important, but we also get to do things like help celebrate the 100th birthday of an alumnus and participate in campus events.

1927 Faculty Baseball Team. See full description here.
1927 Faculty Baseball Team. See full description here.

We receive photographs, scrapbooks, and everything you can imagine from loyal fans, alumni, and their families from all over the world. The actual items come from all periods of time across our 164 year history. The combined knowledge base of student and university created records plus our professional archival staff makes us the place to come for Florida State History! All HPUA digital collections can be seen in the FSU Digital Library.

FSU Heritage Museum, Dodd Hall.
FSU Heritage Museum, Dodd Hall.

HPUA also oversees the Heritage Museum in Dodd Hall. The museum is open Monday – Thursday, 11AM – 4PM during the fall semester for both quiet study and museum visitors. Please visit our site for more information and to plan a visit.

Digital Library Center 101

Greetings from the Digital Library Center!

Want to get a head start on your upcoming research papers? Looking to learn more about the history of the university and life on campus? Maybe you just want to view some of Special Collections and Archives‘ notable rare books and historical collections from the comfort of your own room. Check out FSU’s Digital Library (FSUDL) to view digital reproductions of the fascinating items held right here on campus. Visitors to the site can access primary and secondary source material or just go to see some really cool images without having to pay a visit to Strozier Library.

The Digital Library Center (DLC) staff is diligently working behind the scenes to digitize and share their fascinating collections with the FSU community and the rest of the world. Their expert staff consists of the Production Studio team, Metadata Librarian and Digital Archivist. Together they work closely with library staff as well as with faculty to create high quality digital collections. By regularly uploading quality content to the FSUDL, the DLC is helping connect users to material needed for their research.

Rare and fragile New York Herald newspaper detailing President Lincoln's assassination, April 15, 1865.
Rare and fragile New York Herald newspaper detailing President Lincoln’s assassination, April 15, 1865.

While the DLC mainly focuses on uploading content to the FSUDL, their work serves several purposes, including preservation. By digitizing rare, fragile collections and uploading the images, they are safeguarding items from over-handling while making them accessible to more users. The DLC also provides community members with expertise in the digitization of materials, digital project management and metadata creation.

Our Metadata Librarian, Matthew Miguez provides expertise on the description of materials for long-term access and preservation. Without his meticulous organization of information backstage, finding content in the Digital Library would be frustrating and nearly impossible.

Krystal Thomas, our Digital Archivist provides essential project management expertise to the DLC and ultimately decides which materials are chosen to be digitized and uploaded to the FSUDL. From each project’s initiation to completion, her comprehensive work helps ensure that relevant, quality content is consistently being added to our growing digital collection.

Oversized book of hymnals from the 1600s, Breviarium Romanum, being digitized in the Digital Production Studio
Oversized book of hymnals from the 1600s, Breviarium Romanum, being digitized in the Digital Production Studio

Stuart Rochford, Giesele Towels, and Willa Patterson make up the DLC’s production studio team. They are tasked with photographing and scanning Special Collections material for their images to be uploaded to the Digital Library. Their extensive knowledge of state-of-the-art photographic equipment and imaging standards allows for high quality, high resolution images to be shared.

This week the DLC is starting production on its next exciting project: Cookbooks and Herbals dating all the way back to the 1400s. New collections are always being added to the FSUDL and are often promoted right here on our blog, so check back for more updates on our digital collections!

The Future of the Past

As we’ve mentioned in passing, we’re hard at work preparing for our upcoming 2016 exhibition and event series, Portals: History of the Future.

While combing through our collections, we’ve come across a few futuristic gems that aren’t a great fit for the exhibition, but are just too good to pass by. For instance, this excellent and patriotic book cover:


Forecast 2000 was written in 1984, mind you, so the predictions aren’t terribly far-fetched.


The only-slightly-older, also-patriotic-looking Seven Tomorrows (from 1982) provides “seven scenarios for the eighties and nineties”. (Is one allowed to predict life in the eighties when one is already living in the eighties? That seems like cheating.)


Seven Tomorrows has lots of fun charts and imaginary statistics, and its scenarios provide a surprisingly good read.


(Apparently if we experience “apocalyptic transformation”, there will be a rise in demand for mediators, and a decreasing demand for astronauts.)

The oldest book of this stellar batch is the 1977 Future File, a slightly sci-fi compendium of information for the forward-looking thinker.


One section of this book has predictions by year, culled from all kinds of past official publications.




2000: year of nuclear electric spacecraft. 2015: replacement organs harvested from farmed animals. 2024: lunar colony and extraterrestrial farming. Isn’t the future grand?

Lee Causseaux: FSU’s First Chief of Police

Lee Causseaux's FSU Chief of Police badge
Lee Causseaux’s FSU Chief of Police badge. Badge courtesy of Patsy Yawn.

Born in 1900 in Woodville, FL, Lee Causseaux was the descendant of a long line of Leon County residents and spent his whole life serving the greater Tallahassee community. Considering FSCW and FSU his second home, “Mr. Lee” (as most people called him) occupied many positions on campus, ranging from laundry operations, Superintendent of Landscaping, and his eventual promotion to Chief of FSCW Police in 1945. His influence was felt outside of campus, too – he was often called on by the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and Culley’s Funeral Home for assistance.

Chief Declares Cops Guard Students, Florida Flambeau, October 16, 1956
Chief Declares Cops Guard Students, Florida Flambeau, October 16, 1956

Before taking his position as FSCW Chief of Police, Causseaux protected students from a pervasive threat: the sun. As the Superintendent of Landscaping, one of his major projects was transplanting live oak trees from the campus arboretum to various locations around campus and Tallahassee. Causseaux’s love of landscaping never faded after leaving the position, evident from the friendship he had with accomplished horticulturist and FSU’s first First Lady, Mrs. Edna Campbell. He helped her landscape  the President’s home after renovations, and she would often share plants with him for his new home.

Causseaux on Campus
Lee Causseaux on Campus. Photo courtesy of Patsy Yawn.

Causseaux’s law enforcement career started in 1932, when he was sworn in as a Leon County Deputy Sheriff and FSCW’s first day officer. In a 1956 Florida Flambeau article about the necessity of campus police, Causseaux remarked that when he started at the university in the early 1930s, there was only “one man, whose duties were chiefly those of a night watchman.” Throughout the 1930s, the FSCW police force grew to include 3 more officers, and by 1939, police uniforms had been issued. The department continued to grow during the 1940s, as the transition from FSCW to FSU saw an increased need for police. By the time of Causseaux’s death in 1959, the FSU Police Department employed nearly 20 officers. Lee Causseaux served as Chief of Police from 1945-1959.

Lee Causseaux and his Wife, Alma
Lee Causseaux and his Wife, Alma. Photo courtesy of Patsy Yawn.
Lee Causseaux had two children with his wife Alma, whom he married in 1923. Causseaux’s daugher, Patsy Yawn, describes her father as someone who “cared for all [his] employees,” saying that he considered “FSCW/FSU faculty and staff [as] his extended family.” On October 24, 1959, after seining for mullet out of the FSU Marine Laboratory, Causseaux complained of not feeling well and passed away on the shore.  Yawn proclaims that her father’s death on FSU soil was “a fitting exit for a man who loved, lived, and breathed for the school.”

Establishing the Emmett Till Research Archives

till17276966[1] copyThe Florida State University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives Division and Professor Davis W. Houck are delighted to announce the establishment of what will become the foremost research collection on the life and death of Emmett Till, an African-American teenager whose murder in Mississippi in 1955 sparked protest in the South.

Till’s death helped galvanize the civil rights movement in America, and Friday, August 28, 2015 marks the 60th anniversary of his murder. Till, 14, was kidnapped, beaten and shot after he allegedly flirted with a white woman.

We are truly humbled and honored to be working with scholars and researchers such as Davis Houck, Devery Anderson, and Keith Beauchamp are donating their research materials to FSU and are willing to share their important work with generations to come.

“We’re very excited for this project because there is just simply nothing like it,” said Houck, a faculty member in the College of Communication and Information who authored Emmett Till and the Mississippi Press. “We’ve spent 20 years accumulating this material, most of which involved travel to Mississippi and archives around the South. It’s long past due that we had a ‘one-stop-archive’ for all things Emmett Till, and with this collection, we’ll finally have that.”

The collection will feature newspaper coverage from the Till murder trial and court proceedings by domestic and international press, and materials from FBI investigations, court records and interview transcripts.

Author Devery Anderson will contribute a comprehensive collection of newspaper articles, genealogical work, interview transcriptions and obscure magazine articles used to write his recently released book, Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement. Anderson’s research not only tells the story of the Till case as it unfolded in 1955, but follows the case to the present day, incorporating the FBI’s investigation and source materials, including a complete trial transcript.

Interviews and oral histories gathered by filmmaker Keith Beauchamp for his Emmy-nominated documentary, The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till, will also comprise part of the archive. Beauchamp’s research was pivotal in convincing the FBI to re-open the case in 2004 — an investigation that resulted in more than 8,000 pages of important material.

These materials from some of the nation’s foremost Emmett Till researchers will be a great addition to our archives and an outstanding resource for students, researchers and civil rights historians worldwide.

Claude Pepper Library 101

Welcome back students, staff and faculty to another Fall Semester here at FSU! Here on campus and around town, there are some really great locations and spaces for learning and engaging with the past. One space in particular is the Claude Pepper Library at FSU. The Claude Pepper Library was established in 1985 as the official repository for the Claude Pepper Papers, a unique and multi-faceted collection of manuscripts, photographs, audio/video recordings, and memorabilia documenting the life and career of U.S. Senator and Congressman Claude Denson Pepper (1900-1989).

Congressman Pepper in his office, ca. 1980.
Congressman Pepper in his office, ca. 1980.

Since the library’s opening over 30 years ago, the holdings at the Claude Pepper Library, located on West Call Street on the FSU Campus, have grown in size and scope. The Pepper is currently home to 17 collections with varying focuses including the Tallahassee National Organization for Women Chapter Records, The Reubin Askew Papers, and The Thomas LeRoy Collins Papers among others.

Our staff currently consists of Claude Pepper archivist Robert Rubero and archives assistant Mallary Rawls. The mission of the Claude Pepper Library is to support and advance research, teaching and engagement by acquiring, preserving and providing access to collections dealing with the political history of the State of Florida on national and local levels for use by students, faculty and researchers worldwide. The focus of our current major project is the digitization of the Claude Pepper diaries, which chronicle over 40 years of political involvement through the late Senator’s eyes.

An example of memorabilia found in the NOW Chapter Records.
An example of memorabilia found in the NOW Chapter Records.

At the Pepper Library we also enjoy posting to our Facebook page and enjoy updating our followers through our “Today in Pepper History” posts. More importantly, we offer patrons a firsthand experience with primary source materials from a variety of creators, all giving a glimpse into the political landscape in the State of Florida with a range of over 75 years. The Pepper Library has regularly hosted archives training sessions, class tours and guest lecturers and plans to continue these events in the future. There is also a museum component located in the Pepper Center which chronicles the life of Senator Pepper and is based on his book, Eyewitness to a Century.

Stay tuned for future blog posts as we bring you more great examples from our collections here at the Pepper Library!

Looking Deeply to Date the Past

Geography: England: Oxfordshire: Oxford: "Floods Nov. 1894"

Geography: England: Oxfordshire: Oxford: “Floods Nov. 1894”. HEIR resource 51932, GEOGbx82im003.tif.

Although the HEIR Project archive now has more than 15,000 images, only a tiny fraction of this number arrived with specific dates in their caption. When we come across a picture with a caption such as this one of Oxford, we thank our lucky stars, as we know the where and the when, providing the beginning of many a great story.

Harris Manchester College: England: Oxford: "Oxford, Univ Coll" "S. Mary the Virgin-bit of Queens College" "WHP"

Harris Manchester College: England: Oxford: “Oxford, Univ Coll” “S. Mary the Virgin-bit of Queens College” “WHP”. HEIR resource 41553, HMCbx1im012.tif.

Most often, image dating comes from research, either our own or work done by the many people who have been assisting us via the HEIRtagger website (www.heirtagger.ox.ac.uk). For example, while preparing for a lecture, we were reviewing images of Oxford and took a good look at this view of University College on the High Street. Although the front of the University College still looks much the same today, the cobblestone street paving, horse droppings and the clothing on the girl standing in the street suggest that this is a 19th century image. The dating breakthrough, however, came when we noticed that in the centre background of the image the Brasenose College Tower was surrounded with scaffolding. As this structure dates to the 1887-1889 period when the High Street frontage of this college was rebuilt, we can now estimate that this picture was taken in either 1888 or 1889, as the tower was nearly complete.

Many of our images hold clues, such as merchant signs, clothing styles, streetlights or even automobiles that can provide all the information needed to date the picture. Your support of HEIRtagger can make all of the difference when you take the time to look at all of the information in our images.

Welcome to FSU!

Or welcome back as the case may be!

We here at Special Collections & Archives are wishing all new and returning students a safe and successful fall semester!

Glad registration is online now? Here's a look at registration for new classes in Fall 1958.
Glad registration is online now? Here’s a look at registration for new classes in Fall 1958. See original photograph here.

Our Research Center Reading Room and Norwood Reading Room have returned to their normal semester hours in Strozier Library. We’re open Monday-Thursday, 10AM to 6PM and on Fridays from 10AM to 5:30PM.

Wonder what Special Collections & Archives can do for you? Over the next two weeks, we’ll be highlighting our collections and services here on our blog to introduce you to what we do and have here in our division.

Happy Fall everyone!

Little People and Dancing Rabbits

Most of my research into our Native American literature collection has focused on the very earliest publications from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but the majority of our  recent acquisitions have been of newer books. When we state that our goal is to document as comprehensively as possible the full range of publications by Indigenous writers of North America, that includes everything from obscure pamphlets of the nineteenth century to books for children published in the last decade. I was just about to head to the stacks to shelve a handful of freshly cataloged books when I thought I ought to share a handful of these items with the world.

Rabbit's Snow Dance

This copy of Rabbit’s Snow Dance by James & Joseph Bruchac was a gift to the collection from Professor Lisa Brooks. It was published in 2012 and the copy in our collection will remain as crisp and clean as new for generations to come. I like to imagine a student or researcher coming to examine our copy many years from now and recalling their own copy of this book that they loved so much they read it to pieces. One reason books for children are often very rare and collectible is that children tend to be very hard on their books.

Stories about “the Little People” can be found throughout the collection, such as Charles Eastman’s “The Dance of the Little People” in Red Hunters and the Animal People (1904). Here is a more recent story of the Little People — a collaboration between Joseph Bruchac and Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel: Makiawisug: The Gift of the Little People (1997).


In addition to retellings of traditional tales, some of our books for children contain lessons about traditional crafts, such as Kunu’s Basket (2012):

Kunu's Basket

Others aim to preserve and pass on Indigenous languages. Thanks to the Animals (2005) is written in English, but the publisher’s web site includes an audio file of Allen Sockabasin reading the story in the Passamaquoddy language.

Thanks to the Animals

And then there are stories that are drawn from contemporary life, such as Robert Peters’ Da Goodie Monsta (2009). He says of the story’s origin “Da Goodie Monsta was written when my son, Robert Jr. was only three. He woke up from a nap and told me of a dream he had about a monster. ‘Did he scare you?’ I asked. ‘No’ replied Robert Jr. ‘He was a good monster.’”

Da Goodie Monsta

These five titles are just a small sample of the growing number of books for children included in our collection of books by Native American writers. They will now take their place on the shelves alongside works by Charles Eastman, Zitkala-Sa, and (my personal favorite) Acee Blue Eagle’s Echogee: The Little Blue Deer (1971).

Echogee The Little Blue Deer Cover

Pennies for Kenny (Episode 5)

Everyone was afraid of polio in the 1930s and 40s. In a matter of days or weeks, what seemed like a simple fever or headache could turn out to be a crippling disease with life-long after effects.

And the treatment was sort of part of the problem. For most of the 1930s, doctors would immobilize polio patients in splits and casts to keep them from injuring themselves and moving too much. But Sister Elizabeth Kenny, an Australian nurse, thought that these splints and casts were actually making the long-term muscle problems worse. Instead of keeping patients still, she worked with their muscles, “re-educating” them through physical therapy. 

Kenny brought this method to the United States in 1940. Doctors in New York and at the Mayo clinic weren’t quite sure what do do with her. She wasn’t even a licensed nurse, just an Australian “bush nurse,” or someone who learned nursing through apprenticeship and experience, but not accredited schooling. Eventually, though, she founded the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis, trained technicians in her method, and spread it across the United States, in various forms and under various names.

The Kenny Institute created a number of media campaigns to raise money, including these radio plays. She also was featured in endless newspaper articles, as well as comic books (“Australian Bush Nurse,” Real Heroes, no. 5, “Sister Elizabeth Kenny,” Wonder Woman, no. 8, and “Sister Kenny,” It Really Happened, no. 8). Later, there were radio plays about her life– a 1942 radio play on Cavalcade of America, another on the WGN “America at the Ramparts” series, and one on WBBN’s Coronet Little Show in 1945.

There was even a Sister Kenny movie in 1946

In this episode of Backtrack, we take a closer look at all the media hype around Kenny, and put it into context.

Thanks to Dr. Naomi Rogers, author of Polio Wars: Sister Kenny and the Golden Age of American Medicine, for speaking to us for this episode. Thanks also to Renee Dunn, for her interview. 

In this piece, we drew brief snippets from this Cavalcade of America radioplay about Sister Kenny, as well as this March of Dimes promotional polio video

The list of comic books comes from one of the many sources we read for this—Bert Hansen’s Medical history for the Masses– How American Comic Books Celebrated Heroes of Medicine in the 1940s.  Naomi Roger’s ‘Silence has its own Stories’: Elizabeth Kenny, Polio and the Culture of Medicine’ and her book ‘Polio Wars’ were also particularly helpful.  

Special thanks to John Passmore, Andy Lanset and Hannah Sistrunk. 

The rest of the episodes of Backtrack can be found here.

Map repaired with a blank ballot

This year, we received funding from the B.C. History Digitization Program to digitize more maps and plans from our holdings. The maps need conservation work done to them before they can be digitized. Here’s an example of a map that had an unusual old repair.

Back of map, close-up showing old repair.

Back of map, close-up showing old repair. Item No. LEG1153.367

This is one sheet from a set of Point Grey sectional maps from the 1920s. The map is 2.8m long, printed on cloth and has several tears at one end. A very long time ago, probably in 1929 or soon after, someone repaired it with cheesecloth, paper and glue, and later with adhesive tape.

The repair paper caught my eye. Once it was removed, I took a closer look. It was made of blank ballots!

Patch material from back of map.

Patch material from back of map.

The questions on the ballot identified it as the second page of the money ballot from May 15, 1929, which we have as part of the City of Vancouver Record of Elections.

Second page of money ballot from May 15, 1929. Reference code COV-S37-- .

Second page of money ballot from May 15, 1929. Reference code COV-S37– Container 87-G-1 vol. 2.

Today’s equivalent of the money ballot is the capital plan borrowing questions section of the modern ballot.

Since the original map was created by the Municipality of Point Grey, and the repair pages are 1929 City of Vancouver ballot papers,  it seems likely that the maps were received during the process of amalgamating Point Grey and Vancouver (along with South Vancouver) in 1929. The repair was probably made by someone in the City of Vancouver who needed to use the map. Amalgamation included coordinating the street grid and street naming.

The map was repaired and the torn end now looks like this:

Front of map after treatment, detail of one end.

Front of map after treatment, detail of one end.

Bad Children of History #16: The Recalcitrant Tomboy

I’ve been trudging my way through Kate Bolick’s Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, a book about which I can’t articulate anything positive or negative that hasn’t already been said more thoroughly and eloquently than one could manage in an introductory paragraph to a blog post. However, in light of discussions around the book, I’ve been thinking about girls and women who defy society’s rigid expectations, those truly wonderful spinsters of fiction and their tomboyish counterparts— including, of course, “Romping Polly”, the free-spirited star of this week’s Bad Children of History.

Romping Polly is another of the ill-fated children from the classic Struwwelpeter, a book last featured in our first-ever Bad Children of History post. The illustrations of Polly below are again taken from the 1890 English translation of the book, published in Philadelphia by Porter & Coates.


At the very beginning of “The Story of Romping Polly”, we see her receiving a stern warning about her inappropriately-feminine styles of play:

I know that you will often see
Rude boys push, drive, and hurry;
But little girls should never be
All in a heat and flurry.

Nodding her tomboy-ish head, Polly acknowledges her aunt’s lecture, and then promptly scurries down some sort of decorative border and leaps toward her jumping and running playmates. Looks like fun, right?


WRONG! There’s nothing fun about falling down such that your leg detaches like a lizard’s tail. (Mind you, the text simply says that “her poor leg was broken”, but the illustration leads me to believe that it was something infinitely more drastic.)

Polly is carried away on a makeshift stretcher, while her detached leg (or should I say “the limb all wet and gory”) is carried away by her tearful brother.


Let’s choose to ignore the butcher’s knives in the lower left of that illustration, shall we?

What happened to poor, rough-playing, enthusiastically-frolicking Polly? How did her life turn out, in the wake of her inattention to compulsory 19th century feminine behavior?


Full many a week, screwed up in bed,
She lingered sad and weary;
And went on crutches, it is said,
Ev’n to the grave so dreary.

Yep. Little ladies, don’t try to play with the boys, or else you may end up a hunched woman in an unflattering bonnet walking with crutches toward your own gravesite. You wouldn’t want that, would you?

Introducing SNAC

When I first learned of the Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) Project, I knew that we had to be involved and assume some leadership. Why? Because the driving force of SNAC is collaboration within the archival and library communities to improve discovery and access to archival materials. I am a huge proponent for collaboration and access – these are the central concepts that we have been incorporating into our strategic direction at NARA.

SNAC homepage

The National Archives has been a key partner with the SNAC project. Early on, we recognized the benefits and opportunities of the Cooperative, both for NARA and the international archival community. We were proud to recently announce the launch of the Pilot Phase of the project.  The two-year pilot phase of the Cooperative is generously funded by a $1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the University of Virginia. We will work with our Cooperative partners, the University of Virginia, and the California Digital Library, as well as a cross-section of U.S. archives, libraries, and museums.  This phase of the Cooperative has both social and technological objectives. The social objectives include developing the administrative structure and developing a shared understanding and governance structure with the inaugural members for how we will set best practices for content input and maintenance, provide input into the development of the editing user interface, and maintain the description and access data.  The primary technological objective will be transforming the SNAC prototype research tool into a platform that will support ongoing building and maintenance of the SNAC description and access data.

One of the great strengths of SNAC is the way that biographical and historical data can be used to provide researchers with convenient, integrated access to historical collections held by archives and libraries all over the world. This linking of people, their relationships, and the records that document their lives and work provides powerful research avenues — and some unexpected surprises.   For example, take a look at the record for the great jazz musician, Lionel Hampton.

SNAC Lionel Hampton record

Under “Archival Collections” you’ll see a list of links to materials related to his work as a musician, as well as a link to the finding aid for the Lionel Hampton Papers held at the University of Idaho. And you’ll also find something about him that you may not expect, a link to the National Archives Catalog and the record for the collection of sound recordings of meetings and telephone conversations from the Nixon administration. From our Catalog, you can read the tape log for February 19, 1971, which records that Hampton met with Nixon at the White House and that they discussed Hampton’s upcoming tour of Eastern Europe, his band, and his support for the President.  The technology and data standards that SNAC uses allows this rich, unprecedented access not only across archival collections, but into the social and biographical context of the people documented in these materials.

So I invite you to explore the resources available in the SNAC Research Tool. Whether you browse one of the featured individuals or do a specific search, you will find connections and resources about historical figures you may never have known about.  You may find something really special, as I did when I found this record, which links to my little-known correspondence with several Presidents!

SNAC David Ferriero record

One giant step for SRO

Lise Summers
Tuesday, August 18, 2015 – 14:21

This week we launch our new Archives management system, based on the Canadian software Accesstomemory (AtoM).  When you click on the ‘search our archives catalogue’ button on our home page, it’s one small click for you, but a giant step for SRO.We first developed a computer catalogue in 1986 using a Sun database, but it was for internal use only.  In 2004, we were able to take up the Microsoft based system developed for the State Records Office in New South Wales. We undertook a minor enhancement in 2009, with funding provided by the Friends of Battye Library, to enable us to add digital images, but no other major development work has been undertaken since.The need for a fast, modern archive management system and responsive public access catalogue led us to the search which identified AtoM, an open source software system, as the most likely candidate.  All the systems we looked at required some modification to enable us to meet Australian descriptive standards, as well as international standards, but AtoM seemed to us to be the most flexible, and it had the blessing of the International Council of Archives.  We joined forces with technology consultants, Gaia Resources, and the work began.  Shortly into our first explorations with AtoM, Libraries and Archives Canada picked up the system, and as a result of their funding and research, AtoM took a huge leap forward in terms of design and user experience, which we were able to incorporate into our work.Users looking for access to our maps online may need to access our old system for a few weeks, or contact the staff at SRO for a copy of a plan, or visit the SRO for a copy from the CD backups we hold in the Search Room.  We apologise for the delays, but hope that the experience of better searching and browsing, as well as online ordering will more than compensate for the slight difference in access.Please join us on our exciting new adventure.

Art//Archives Sneak Peek: Weird, Old Science

This week’s Art//Archives Visual Research Hours will also serve as our first sneak preview of some items that will be featured in the upcoming 2016 exhibition and program series, Portals: History of the Future.

We’ve been poking through scores of old science magazines from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and we’ve picked a few highlights for your pleasure and entertainment.


An odd shout-o-phone! A potato-like Arctic face mask! A royal coach made out of pipe cleaners! If you’d love to spend some time with this fabulous 1940 issue of Popular Science or similar magazines, swing by Special Collections on Tuesday between 10:30 and 1:00.

Happy Birthday, Napoleon!

Happy birthday, Napoleon!

Born on the French island of Corsica in 1769 on August 15th, Napoleon Bonaparte is known for being the steadfast emperor of France who conquered much of Europe during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. After winning most of his conflicts against relentless European coalitions, Bonaparte was ultimately defeated by the British at the famous battle of Waterloo in 1815. He was imprisoned on the remote island of St. Helena where he died at the age of 51 in 1821.

Just after Napoleon’s passing on the island, one of his doctors created a customary death mask for the remembrance and final portrayal of the great leader. In addition to over 20,000 rare books and manuscripts from this significant era, the Special Collections Department at FSU houses one of the few remaining authentic death masks of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Napoleon's Death Mask, FSU Special Collections and Archives
Napoleon’s Death Mask, FSU Special Collections and Archives
Napoleon Bonaparte on his Celebrated White Charger, Ireland's Life of Napoleon Vol. 1
Napoleon Bonaparte on his Celebrated White Charger, Ireland’s Life of Napoleon Vol. 1

In the early 1960s the Department of History established the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution which thereby led to the creation of this rich collection currently held in Strozier Library. Together, FSU’s Department of History and the Institute allow students a unique opportunity to study this historical period without traveling to Europe. Visitors to our Research Center can access French Revolutionary newspapers, primary source materials, letters, and, of course, Napoleon’s death mask.

Part of the French Revolution and Napoleon Collection is already available online and does not require a campus visit to peruse. Focusing on this period, the FSU Digital Library’s French Revolution Collection on Camille Desmoulins, Lucile Duplesis, and Arthur Dillon contains high-resolution images of original manuscript letters, notes and pamphlets from the years 1702-1876. This unique online collection and many others in the Florida State University Digital Library is open to the public.

Feel free to stop by the Special Collections Research Center at Strozier Library to wish Napoleon Bonaparte a happy birthday and learn more about the fascinating history surrounding his life.

Historical Cats

We may have just missed #MuseumCats day, but you might still enjoy some stories of historic felines in our holdings. We recently received feedback on our archives.gov website survey asking for historical photos of cats in the National Archives. I was reminded of the fact that when Robert Connor, the First Archivist, was assessing the records situation in Washington, he came across the records in one “depository crowded with archives of the Government the most prominent object to one entering the room was the skull of a dead cat protruding from under a pile of valuable records.” (From an editorial entitled, “Our National Archives”, The Nation, February 1931.)

While we obviously don’t want actual cats roaming our stacks, we consulted our online catalog and found this selection of photogenic archival felines:

Daughter of Charles B. Lewis, miner, holding her kitten

Daughter of Charles B. Lewis, miner, holding her kitten, 7/10/1946. National Archives Identifier 540563

A patron of "Sammy's Bowery Follies," a downtown bar, sleeping at his table while the resident cat laps at his beer

A patron of “Sammy’s Bowery Follies,” a downtown bar, sleeping at his table while the resident cat laps at his beer, 12/1947. National Archives Identifier 541905

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s Press Secretary Pamela Turnure

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s Press Secretary, Pamela Turnure, with Caroline Kennedy’s cat, 1/24/1961. National Archives Identifier 12010054

Amy Carter with her cat, Misty Malarky Ying Yang

Amy Carter with her cat, Misty Malarky Ying Yang, 2/3/1978. National Archives Identifier 177850

Photograph of Socks the Cat Perched on the Backseat of a Van, 9/16/1993

Photograph of Socks the Cat Perched on the Backseat of a Van, 9/16/1993. National Archives Identifier 6036906

Military Photographer of the Year Winner 1998 Title: Cat Lady Category, 1/1/1998. National Archives Identifier 6504073

Military Photographer of the Year Winner 1998 Title: Cat Lady Category, 1/1/1998. National Archives Identifier 6504073

Last but not least, you won’t find this picture in our holdings, but do you recognize the young man in this historical cat photo?


This is the Truth! (Episode 4)

“This is a program of cruel, hard truth. This is the truth about our enemy!”  

Every episode of This is Our Enemy, a World War II era radio series about Axis activities, begins the same way. The announcer insists that the program is the truest of truths, provided by the U.S. government for the edification of the general public.

Of course, This Is Our Enemy is not “the truth.”

 The “German” with the terrible accent who claims that he wants nothing more in life than to loot and steal? He is not a real German.

The “Norwegian” with an American accent who rants about democracy? Also an actor.

Even the “news broadcasts” at the end of every show have a particular agenda.

This isn’t remarkable. Any presentation of information will have bias, no matter how much it strives for objectivity.

But the show’s repeated attempts to convince its audience that it is true are interesting in and of themselves. They are part of a larger story—the story of propaganda in the United States. In this episode of Backtrack, we go into that history, and look at the effect it had on this radio show in particular.  

This piece is the fourth episode of Backtrack, a summer mini-series from the WNYC Archives. The rest of the episodes can be found here.

We drew on a number of sources for this episode, but especially Sydney Weinberg’s article “What to Tell America: The Writer’s Quarrel in the Office of War Information,” Paul Hirsch’s article “This is Our Enemy: The Writer’s War Board and Representation of Race in Comic Books,” and Thomas Howell’s “The Writer’s War Board: U.S. Domestic Propaganda in World War II.”

You can also listen to OWI news broadcasts from the WNYC archives.

Object: Rehabilitation (Episode 3)

“I don’t know myself how it happened,” Mr. Demetrious says, “I’m no kid.”

He goes on to tell the audience about the four thousand dollars he stole from his company’s welfare fund. The only explanation he can give? His own loneliness.

Mr. Demetrious is a radio play character, but he is (somewhat loosely) based on a real inmate who was brought to Rikers Island back in the 1946.

His story was one of many featured on Toward Return to Society.

TRtS was a series of radio programs that the New York Department of Corrections produced with WNYC about the city prison system. Each episode begins with a criminal and his life story, dramatized for radio. A boy from a broken home turns to a life of crime. (Several boys, actually.) A man goes mad for his paramour and becomes an embezzler. An accountant becomes a larcenist to deal with his feelings of inadequacy.

But the show doesn’t end when these unlucky men reach prison. Instead, their case is brought before the classification board; a group of prison officials, medical and psychiatric experts, religious figures, and educators. Together, these men come up with a plan for the prisoner’s term.

“The object?” the announcer declares at the beginning of each show, “Rehabilitation!  The subject is regarded as a person in need of readjustment to a useful niche in society. No steps in this direction are overlooked.”

And the members of this radio-reenactment of a classification board certainly do consider a wide range of options—everything from pig farming to plastic surgery.

We’ve sampled some of those options in the episode above, along with some quality 1940s psychobabble.

We’ve also, though, collected some material that might sound a little more familiar. The most interesting thing about Toward Return to Society might not be that it shows how much our prison systems have changed. It might be, instead, that it shows how much they have remained the same. 

This piece is the third episode of Backtrack, a summer mini-series from the WNYC Archives. The rest of the episodes can be found here.

Listen and Learn (Episode 2)

The internet is a great place to learn. There are MOOCs and Wikipedia articles and political blogs and seemingly infinite other educational resources.

There are also cat videos, listicles, and absurd quizzes.

Think of 1940s radio as something similar. Educators in the 1920s dreamed that everyone would be tuning into lectures and political speeches and classical music all of the time, and that learning would become this great, democratic process.

And yes, some people tuned into the various educational programs on the air. But by the 1940s, it was clear that many, many more people tuned into the soaps and the mysteries—the 1940s radio equivalent of the cat video.

So, people tried to spice up their educational shows by turning them into dramas. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t.

In 1945, CBS released a paper called “Showmanship in Radio Educational Programs.” It walks through the qualities that can make or break an educational docudrama.

This episode, on Backtrack, we explore that CBS article using, as examples, two WNYC docudramas from the 1940s and 50s: This is My Block (1951) and New York Queen of Commerce (1948).

This piece is the third episode of Backtrack, a summer mini-series from the WNYC Archives. The rest of the episodes can be found here.

We drew on several sources for this episode, but especially  Matthew Erlich’s article, “Radio Utopia: Promoting Public Interest in a 1940s Radio Documentary,” as well as Robert Musburger’s article “Setting the Stage for the Television Docudrama,” and several copies of “Education on the Air.” Thanks also to the Municipal Archives for giving us access to their shows.

Art//Archives Sneak Peek: Storms!

The weather outside is borderline-frightful, but look how delightful these weather and storm books are!


We have books and manuscripts on meteorology, storm-related shipwrecks, the 1938 Rhode Island “tidal wave”, and urban flooding, as well as a book with a superb etching of “Lightning above a Volcano”.

Stop by Special Collections today, Tuesday, between 10:30 and 1:00 to hang out with these weather-related items!

A Nation of Immigrants (Episode 1)

The United States has always had a complicated relationship with its immigrants.  Americans All, Immigrants All, a CBS show produced in 1938, is no exception.

Times were tense. America was coming off the Great Depression, and the world was heading into a war. Americans All was an effort to inspire unity and patriotism in the face of all these issues.

The show tried to acknowledge the contributions that various immigrant groups had made to the United States. It wanted to make immigrants a part of the official narrative of U.S. history.

Which is all well and good, except that Americans All also struggled with stereotypes, with overly-positive messaging, and with questions about assimilation. Also, the various writers and researchers wanted to push different agendas, which led to contradictory messages.

The result is a complicated show about a difficult subject. In this episode of Backtrack, we’ve tried to highlight some of the main issues that come up in Americans All, and to give you a feel for what the 26 episode long series sounded like.

This piece is the second episode of Backtrack, a summer mini-series from the WNYC Archives.The rest of the episodes can be found here.

We drew on a number of sources for this episode, but especially Barbara Savage’s Broadcasting Freedom: Radio, War, and the Politics of Race, 1938-1948, and Dan Shiffman’s article Standard for the Wise and Honest: The Americans All Immigrants All Radio Broadcasts (Studies in Popular Culture, Vol. 19, No.1).


Dramatic Amherst

We’re going to devote this post to taking a peek at the rich visual materials in the Amherst College Dramatic Activities Collection. This is but a very small taste of the large collection of photographs, playbills, costume sketches, set designs, props and recordings of Amherst College theatrical productions to be found in the Dramatic Activities Collection.

H. M. S. Pinafore, produced in June of 1879 by the Glee Club in College Hall.

While students had been putting on dramatic productions since the very early days of the college, there is little photographic evidence until the 1870s. This is one of the few photographs of a nineteenth century production taken on set; most were cast portraits taken in a photographer’s studio. The lack of adequate lighting is evident in the blurriness of many cast members. This was the first full-length dramatic production put on at the college.

This studio portrait of cast members from The Rivals by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, produced in February of 1885, features the illustrious Clyde Fitch (reclining).

Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night was produced in March of 1907. Note the classic Art Nouveau program and the studio background in the cast portrait (click to view larger).

Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs, published in 1930, was produced in December of 1936 by the Amherst College Masquers.

A January 1940 production of Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen

A January 1940 production of Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen staged in Kirby Theater, which opened in 1938

Set design for The Devil's Disciple, November 1946

Set design for The Devil’s Disciple, November 1946

Shakespeare's The Tempest, November 1951

Shakespeare’s The Tempest, November 1951

A poster for the Masquers' production of Oedipus Rex, November 1955

A poster for the Masquers’ production of Oedipus Rex, November 1955

The Balcony by Jean Genet, September 1968

The Balcony by Jean Genet, September 1968

Costume sketch for Domina of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which was produced in October of 1974 by the Masquers

Costume sketch for Domina of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which was produced in October of 1974 by the Masquers

C'mon Back to Heavenly House by Ed Bullins, produced by the Masquers in April of 1977

The premiere of C’mon Back to Heavenly House by African-American playwright Ed Bullins, produced by the Masquers in April of 1977

Set design for the October 1982 production of The Misanthrope

Set design for the October 1982 production of The Misanthrope

Moliere's The Misanthrope, November 1982

Moliere’s The Misanthrope, November 1982

The Ballad of a Watergate Security Guard

In 1975, the civil rights activist and musician Reverend Douglas Kirkpatrick came to the WNYC studios and performed “The Ballad of Frank Wills.” The song tells the story of the Watergate break in and the eventual resignation of Richard Nixon on August 9th, 1974. What makes the song so great is that it’s told from the perspective of Frank Willls, the security guard who discovered the five burglars in the DNC headquarters.

Listen to track above and Kirkpatrick’s entire in in-studio performance on Dave Sear’s Folk and Baroque below. Original airdate, January 1st, 1975.




An Eyewitness Describes Hiroshima and the Atomic Bomb, August 1945

Seventy years ago, on August 6th, 1945, the United States dropped the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Three days later, they bombed Nagasaki.

At the time, that much was clear. Also clear was that tens of thousands of people had died from the flash, the fire, the radiation. Buildings had collapsed on civilians. People’s skin and eyes had burned.

There were other details that were less easily accessible, though. In the years since, we’ve been able to gather data about the effects of the bombs, but directly after the fact, it was hard to get reliable information. Scientists from the U.S. Government interviewed eyewitness survivors, trying to put together a more complete picture.

One such survivor was Kaleria Palchikoff, a medical missionary born in the Soviet Union in 1922. She was living in Hiroshima at the time. Her family had moved into the outskirts of town just before the bomb fell, following evacuation warnings, but she was close enough to see the events unfold.

In this recording, we hear an excerpt of a U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey interview with Palchikoff, conducted after the fact.

Palchikoff describes the flash, and the sandy glass particles that stayed in her eyes for days.

She talks about the burial practices. People dug a hole in front of the regiment headquarters, threw bodies in, and covered them up. They did this, she says, about five times. There were thousands of bodies.

The unidentified men questioning her want more specific information, though. What color dress was she wearing at the time? Did the buildings with steel or reinforced concrete frames do better than others? Who did the Japanese hold responsible for the bombings?

Her answers are partly description, partly speculation and hearsay. None of the white people lost their hair after the attack, she says. She also claims that the Japanese looked up to white people “as Gods,” or at least as highly educated people that they strove to emulate or “live up” to.

As for the attitude of those who were burned, it was “pure jealousy,” Palchikoff says, with young women and men looking at their unburned friends and wondering, “Why me and not you?”

The interview is an interesting mix of fact and rumor, and an indication of just how hard it was to get specific, verifiable data from a disaster zone, even if it was man-made.


A Few of My Favorite Things

As my graduate assistantship in the Special Collections & Archives Division nears its end, I thought I’d say good-bye to Special Collections by sharing a few of my favorite items from our collection.

My previous MA focused on medieval religious and intellectual history, and unsurprisingly, my favorite items in FSU Special Collections & Archives relate to that field.

Anulus Nuptialis

“The Nun’s Book:Anulus Nuptialis , Vault BT769 .A56

From the catalog: Written in a humanistic hand by a single scribe on parchment. Initials in red with gold, blue with gold and green with gold ornament. Written by nuns in a convent.

Why I love it:  Anulus Nuptialis is notable for its binding (thought to be the original Renaissance binding).  But I also love its topic.  Written by Venetian nuns during the Renaissance, it describes the nun’s mystical union with God.  This was a popular theme among medieval religious women, and I love seeing its continuity through the Italian Renaissance.  For more information about this volume, see here.

“The Chained Book:Sermones Discipuli, Vault BX1756 .H448 S4**

From the catalog: Written in one hand, in Gothic cursive script. Rubricated. Contemporary monastic binding, heavy wooden boards with remains of leather covering, brass cornerpieces and 10 brass bosses, clasps wanting; leaves from an earlier manuscript on vellum have been used for linings; hubbed spine exposed; heavy metal ring with three links of chain attached.

Why I love it:  The chained book is a show-stopper, and draws attention in every class we brought it out for.  More than that, it illustrates a very different idea on the value of books and knowledge than we consider in our age of open access, intellectual freedom, and circulating libraries.

17th century BreviaryBreviarium Romanum, Vault BX2000 .A2 1600z**


From the catalog: Latin text, without musical notation, beginning with last part of Psalm 29 and ending with hymn: Aurora iam spargit polum, and verse. Includes most of the psalms 30-108, 142.  Large breviary of the type used by a choir for readings for Church services. Large signatures of heavy paper, stitched together with heavy string, with leather headband sewn over stitching. Covers of wooden boards, covered outside with leather and glued to inside of covers, with parchment endpapers glued over them. Holes and impressions on covers indicate metal ornaments were formerly there. Repairs in folio made with strips of plain or Spanish printed paper and verso strips of musical notation (neumes) glued over center edges of pages near binding. Some pages show erasures with letters printed over them and dusted with a white powdery substance.  Rubricated ms., possibly hand-printed or stenciled in large black letters, with verses and sections each beginning with 1 or more red letters.

Why I love it:  This breviary is huge!  It’s large enough to have been seen and read by a monastic choir during their daily recitation of the Divine Office.  I love being able to interact with this centuries old breviary and actually experience how the monks would have recited their daily prayers.

Vellum AntiphonalsRoman Catholic Church Antiphonals, Vault M2147 .M36*

From the catalog: Twelve examples of manuscript music scores used by the Roman Catholic Church in Europe. The texts are in Latin. The music notes are a type of mensural notation. The media is ink on vellum.

Why I love it:  During the Middle Ages, vellum was the preferred substrate.  Though this antiphonals were made in the 16th century, it is illustrative of the difference between vellum and paper.

‘We have Tomorrow’: Peter Mackay and the Liberation Movement in Southern Africa

‘We have Tomorrow’: Peter Mackay and the Liberation Movement in Southern Africa

University of Stirling Library

5.30pm, Tuesday 22nd September 2015

The University of Stirling Archives invites you to an event to celebrate the donation of the papers of Peter Mackay (1926-2013), a key figure in the independence movements of Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Nyasaland (Malawi). Born into a Scottish family with strong links to Doune, Mackay served in the Scots Guards, where he became the youngest captain in the Brigade, before emigrating to Southern Rhodesia in 1948. There he rejected the attitudes prevalent in the white community and served as a key organiser for the multiracial Capricorn Society founded by Colonel David Stirling, also from the Doune area. In 1956, however, he resigned from the Capricorn Society and over the next quarter of a century devoted himself to the cause of African liberation in Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia, becoming actively involved with nationalist leaders such as Yatuta Chisiza in Nyasaland and James Chikerema and George Nyandoro in Rhodesia. Following the establishment of majority rule in Zimbabwe, he took up the cause of the impoverished people of Omay on the shores of Lake Kariba. His volume of memoirs, We Have Tomorrow: Stirrings in Africa, 1959-1967 provides remarkable insights into Southern African nationalism in its most principled phase.

The event will begin with a public lecture by Dr John McCracken (author of A History of Malawi) on ‘Peter Mackay and the role of White Activists in the Nationalist Struggle in Malawi and Zimbabwe.’ The lecture will be followed by an opportunity to view a selection of material from the Peter Mackay Archive in our archives reading room.

To reserve a place at the event, or to find out more about the collection, please email us at archives@stir.ac.uk

Bad Children of History #15, with Essential Etymological Preface

Essential Etymological Preface: The English language is an ever-shifting beast, with corresponding changes in the meanings of words. That said, through at least the 18th century, the word “slut” was used to refer to an ugly, slovenly, unkempt person, often a woman. (For examples of this usage, check the OED2.) The Online Etymology Dictionary describes the word’s likely origins from the colloquial German schlutt, meaning a slovenly woman, and claims that its contemporary usage wasn’t cemented until some time in the 1960s. Sam Bovill has a blog post describing the word’s semantic shift, and Malcolm Jones, in an article in The Daily Beast, notes that over the centuries, “slut” has been used to refer to “men, women, dogs, and light fixtures”.

Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at today’s featured book, a very tiny volume entitled The Merry Andrew: or, the Humours of a Fair. Here it is, with my smaller-than-most hand included for scale:


The title page doesn’t have a publication date, but my best guess is some time between 1810 and 1820.

The author includes his own cautionary preface at the start of this tale, noting that the “humours of a fair” aren’t all levity and entertainment– for instance, the surging crowds there can easily trample a small boy.


For little boys are often trod upon, and even crushed to death by mixing with the mob. If you would be safe, by all means avoid a crowd. Look yonder, Dick Wilson there has done the very thing I cautioned you against.

It’s a little hard to see his head down there at surging-crowd-knee-level, but Dick Wilson is definitely there, full of his usual bad ideas. He’s not today’s primary bad child of history, but he is, according to the author, an “impertinent little monkey”, which is definitely one of my new favorite insults.

As long as you’re not like Dick Wilson, you can see all kinds of fascinating and entertaining things at the fair. You can visit the Wheel of Fortune, pre-Vanna White:


You can see these entertaining gentlemen:


You can ignore your mother’s good advice and ride these dangerous-looking carnival rides:


(Sidenote: the text around that second illustration mystifies me. “You know what I mean by the Up-and-down? It is a horse in a box, a horse that flies in the air, like that which the ancient poets rode on.” Is that a reference to Pegasus? Did ancient poets love carnival rides? Clarifying comments encouraged.)

Because The Merry Andrew is a historical children’s book, this catalog of delights is followed by brief discourses entitled “Descant on Time”, “On Learning”, “On Business”, and “On Idleness”, and the book closes with two short rhymes, “To a Good Girl” and “To a Naughty Girl”.

Below are said good and naughty girls, looking suspiciously like the exact same lass with a slightly different hat and bustle:


So, pretty Miss Prudence, you’re come to the Fair,
And a very good girl they tell me you are.
Here, take this fine orange, this watch, and this knot,
You’re welcome, my dear, to all we have got.

So, pert Mistress Prate-a-Pace, how came you here?
There is nobody wants to see you at the Fair.
Not an orange, an apple, a cake, or a nut,
Will any one give to so saucy a slut.

(Did you keep our etymological preface in mind this whole time? Good, good.) Lesson: don’t be brazen or dirty, or you won’t get any snacks. If you’re pretty, however, you’ll get lots of desirable things, including but not limited to a “fine orange”. Now, children, go forth to the fair, unless there are crowds. Just be careful on the Up-and-down!