Collection Connection Category

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The Boy Scouts: A Cultural History through Handbooks

What follows is a guest post from one of our student workers, Shawn Conley, an Eagle Scout and Boy Scout memorabilia collector.

The classic image of the Boy Scout from Lord Baden-Powell's 1910 "Scouting for Boys".

The classic image of the Boy Scout from Lord Baden-Powell’s handbook “Scouting for Boys” (1910).

Since its founding more than a century ago, the Boy Scouts of America has striven to turn young men into well-rounded individuals and citizens of our society. Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the original Boy Scouts in England, expressed the need for proper handbooks for the young scouts to use as a way of learning and becoming familiar with skills they would find useful. From how to escort a lady down the sidewalk to how to splint a broken leg, the Boy Scout handbook purveyed basic information and skills in handicrafts, first aid, castrametation, and moral values.

"Respect to Womanhood" (1945 Handbook).

“Respect to Womanhood” (“Boy Scout Handbook”, 1945).

First Aid is a major topic covered in every handbook. ("Boy Scout Handbook", 1965).

First Aid is a major topic covered in every handbook. (“Boy Scout Handbook”, 1965).

If one wanted to research the changing American culture from the early 20th century to the modern day, the handbooks of the Boy Scouts are a wonderful resource in deducing what the founders of the Scouting movement thought worthwhile for Scouts to know in turning them into productive citizens. Culture of the time-period is engrained into these handbooks. For example, during the Second World War when material rationing restricted what average Americans could purchase, the Boy Scouts produced uniforms of a less expensive, tan cotton canvas. These canvas uniforms are shown in the handbooks and how to properly sew on badges and insignia.

Upon examining Boy Scout handbooks of an earlier time, one might notice that very few are in excellent condition. These books were meant to be used, and used they were. From the author’s own perspective, his handbook was in tatters by the end of his Scouting career.

Why is the Boy Scout handbook so important? The handbook was, and still remains to be, the Scout’s greatest point of informational reference. Forgot how to tie a Clove Hitch? Consult your handbook. Can’t recall how many leaves a sprig of Poison Ivy has? The handbook knows! From how to properly swing an axe to properly cooking for your Patrol or Troop, the handbook strives to give Scouts the information they need to carry out skills necessary for being a good Scout. This aspect is as true now as it was 103 years ago.

"Scouting for Boys" by Lieut.-Gen. Sir R. Baden-Powell, K.C.B. (1910)

“Scouting for Boys” by Lieut.-Gen. Sir R. Baden-Powell, K.C.B. (1910)

"Handbook for Boys" (1945).

“Boy Scout Handbook” (1945).

Perhaps more importantly, the handbook was a moral compass. Some sections of the handbook are geared specifically towards showing Scouts how they can be a positive influence on their communities. Some early examples of how Scouts influenced their communities was promoting and selling war bonds during the Great War and the Second World War, and conducting metal drives by going door to door and asking people for any scrap metal that could be melted down for the war effort. In the 21st century, helping the community can be something as simple as a food drive, which many Boy Scout troops across Iowa conduct every year. Therefore, the handbook was not only a reference for physical skill building, but also mental and moral skill building.

"What is a Boy Scout?" ("Boy Scout Handbook", 1945).

“What is a Boy Scout?” (“Boy Scout Handbook”, 1945).

The Special Collections department has a very nice Scouting collection, much of it about Scouting in Iowa. The collection also has a few early handbooks from both the Boy Scouts

"An Easily-Made Hut" ("Scouting for Boys", 1910).

“An Easily-Made Hut” (“Scouting for Boys”, 1910).

and Cub Scouts (All photos in this post were derived from the handbooks in Special Collections). Stop on by and have a look. The author guarantees that in reading just a few pages, you’ll learn something totally new. Perhaps you can read up on how to properly escort a lady down the sidewalk (the man/Scout always walks on the woman’s side facing the street), or perhaps you can familiarize yourself with how to splint a broken leg or cook pies in a Dutch oven.

The handbooks of the Boy Scouts of America are truly a wonderful reference to anyone wanting to learn how to “Be Prepared” and to “Do a Good Turn Daily”.

 

- Shawn R. Conley

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Manuscript Mystery Solved

It’s kind of like History’s Mysteries meets Antiques Roadshow. There’s an item that’s been lying in your collection for years, possibly decades, patiently awaiting investigation. What exactly is this thing? Then one day—maybe on a quiet Friday afternoon—you suddenly have the urge to dig into it.

That’s what happened here in Special Collections. A medieval manuscript leaf, for whatever reason, had evaded description these last few decades. This warrants a friendly reminder to all book-loving sleuths: you need not be a medieval manuscripts expert to solve such a puzzle (though it sure would help). Sometimes all it takes is a little resourcefulness, an educated hunch, and a bit of luck.

MsC2Our leaf turned out to be from De vita contemplativa, a fifth-century theological treatise by Julianus Pomerius. Determining the text of a particular leaf is often easy, requiring little more than Googling a short passage from the text in question. Identifying where and when it was made is the tricky part, but fortune was on our side: this particular manuscript was written on paper.

Medieval manuscripts were predominantly written on vellum (or parchment, but we’ll overlook the distinction for now). Paper wasn’t produced in Europe until the twelfth century, and its importation didn’t begin much earlier. What’s more, to an inexpert eye such as mine, the script appeared Carolingian—the standard book hand developed for the copying of texts during Charlemagne’s reign. While Charlemagne died in 814, this book hand—called Carolingian minuscule, or Caroline minuscule—continued to be used throughout Christendom. But just as paper was growing more common in Europe, the Carolingian script was yielding to the Gothic hand that would soon dominate manuscript production. It seemed unlikely, then, to have a true Carolingian manuscript on paper.

Near the end of the fourteenth century, however, Italian humanists revived Carolingian minuscule. Mistaking the Carolingian manuscripts for original Roman texts, these humanists began copying their favorite classical works in what they believed was their original form. This revived form of Carolingian minuscule has become known as humanistic script. It was commonly used throughout Italy (and later throughout Europe) until the printing of books largely obviated the need to copy them by hand.

And just like that, we came to the likely conclusion that our manuscript was probably made in Italy during the 15th century.MsC1

After consulting a couple of manuscript censuses, we learned that a 15th-century Italian copy—on paper—had once been in the private collection of Ernst Detterer, a Chicago typographer and later the inaugural custodian of the Newberry Library’s John M. Wing Foundation. Given the scarcity of copies on paper, and our geographic proximity to Chicago, this all seemed rather coincidental.

With the help of colleagues at the Newberry Library and the University of Colorado, Boulder, we were able to confirm that our leaf did in fact come from that very same Detterer manuscript—more information than we had ever hoped to uncover.

The underlying tragedy, of course, is that the other twenty-eight leaves are scattered across the country, if not the planet. Three, for example, reside at Boulder. It’s a fate befallen many medieval manuscripts, which were commonly sold or otherwise distributed leaf by leaf at a time when the ethics of the practice were a bit murkier. When in Detterer’s collection, the manuscript was unbound, which mustn’t have helped to suppress the urge to separate the leaves. It’s unlikely that all twenty-nine leaves will ever be reunited. The best we can do is to keep our little piece of it safe and secure, to document its history, and to share it with all of you.

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An Artistic Test from Norman Meier

By Denise Anderson

During this week of final exams, perhaps a more enjoyable test to engage in might be one that measures your artistic ability?  Professor Norman C. Meier, of the UI Department of Psychology, developed the Meier Art Tests, which evolved from his Ph.D. dissertation at Iowa in 1926, “The Use of Aesthetic Judgment in the Measurement of Art Talent.”

Meier became well known for the tests he designed for assessing artistic aptitude. These were devised, in part, through his study of 100 artists from eight countries. His areas of research were psychology of art, and social and political behavior. Meier’s research in the latter field resulted in methods of measuring audience response to theatre and broadcast programs. He also studied mob behavior and crowd control.  George Gallup was a student of Dr. Meier, who later developed a successful public polling organization, and his papers also recently came to the University of Iowa.

 An example question “Meier Art Tests: I. Art Judgment ” (1940) is presented below.  Which seems like the better image to you?

 

 

The University of Iowa was a primary contributor to the development of aptitude testing in the early 20th century. The Iowa Testing Programs led to Meier and Gallup’s work as well as the widely used American College Testing Program (ACT). You can read more about this time in The Iowa Testing Programs: The First Fifty Years, by Julia J. Peterson, which describes the birth of a testing program within the University of Iowa College of Education in 1928. Norman Meier’s Papers are part of Special Collections & University Archives (RG 99.0163) and you can view the Collection Guide here: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/archives/guides/RG99.0163.html.  George Gallup’s Papers are currently being processed so watch for updates soon.

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The Glenn Voting Machine

by Shawn R. Conley –  student worker in Special Collections

Cover of The Glenn Voting MachineWith the election year in full swing and Election Day looming, most of us will be making our way to that legendary voting booth with the fancy curtains to cast our vote and take part in yet another one of our civic duties. Most of all, and assuredly most rewarding, is having the liberty to have taken part in a Presidential election that was established in our country nearly two-and-a-half centuries ago. Delusions of Americana aside, many of us are just glad to get that sought-after “I Voted” sticker one we’ve finished.

Why use Glenn Voting Machines?As millions of men and women flood the voting booths across the nation, the arduous task remains: how does one count these millions of votes? The task of an accurate and speedy vote count is something our forefathers have been tackling since our country was founded. During the 19th century, a flurry of new ideas and machines arose to combat this problem. One of these companies attempting to deliver “…a fair vote and an honest count” according to their brochure from over a century ago, was the Glenn Voting Machine Company of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

While sorting and cataloguing my way through a collection of papers and letters from E.J.C. Bealer, a very prominent businessman and stone quarry magnate from Cedar Rapids, I came across a large number of stock certificates from as far back as 1898 from long defunct companies like the Tykoon Mining Company and the American Gold Production Company. Tucked between these certificates was a little blue book with gold letters titled, “The Glenn Voting Machine.” Mr. Bealer had quite an investment in this company through the many stock certificates I found.

“Why use Glenn Voting Machines?” asks the third page of the brochure. During this time in American history, the entire logistical process of voting was changing directions. Through the evidence exhibited by this brochure, one can see how appealing casting a vote by machine would be. All one must do according to page nine is to “place the pointers on the names of the candidates of your choice — walk out.” Not only would the mechanical voting machine make voting much simpler, but it might even make voting fun or appealing which is something political scientists try to figure out to this day.         

Image of voting machineTaking a look at the illustrations of the machine, one can make out the presidential candidates of the 1904 election: Theodore Roosevelt and Alton B. Parker. The simplicity of the machine is hinted throughout the brochure, ensuring that every gentleman’s vote is precise. Sorry ladies, your time hasn’t arrived just yet…give it a few more years. Towards the end of the brochure are many newspaper articles and clippings, exhibiting how the Glenn Voting Machine promises “Fast Returns!” and “desirability” of a mechanical voting machine as compared to old-fashioned paper ballots.

So when you finally do make your way to the voting booth, pull those fancy curtains shut, and cast your vote for President of the United States, remember that it was through the inventions of companies like the Glenn Voting Machine Company of Cedar Rapids, Iowa that allow us to ever so conveniently cast our votes on LED screens and receive “Fast Returns!”

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Conflicting views of Lackington’s – Publisher of Frankenstein – 3 pf 3 from Peter Balestrieri

Third in our series on Frankenstein related holdings from Peter Balestrieri.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published in 1818 by the firm of Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones. The deal worked by Percy Shelley called for printing five hundred copies, a short run even by the standards of the day. What kind of firm was Lackington’s?

Temple of the Muses Exterior

Temple of the Muses Exterior (Wikipedia)

James Lackington was a bookseller and publisher who began a career in shoemaking but switched to bookselling to satisfy his bibliophilia and his desire to provide books to people of all economic backgrounds. This desire came out of a deeply religious nature combined with a firm belief that all lives are improved by the reading and study of books. The story is told that he once spent his last coins on a book of poetry rather than food because the former would “feed” himself and his wife longer than the latter. His famous bookstore, named “The Temple of the Muses,” was an immense building in London, so large that a coach drawn by four horses was driven round the counters at its opening. Its catalogue, in 1803, featured 800,000 titles. Lackington was an innovator, who rankled his competitors with his revolutionary ideas. He invented remaindering, buying up unsold books from other dealers and selling them cheaply. He also accepted cash only, without exceptions, published authors’ manuscripts, and bought whole libraries. While making him extremely successful, these practices placed him outside the norm of traditional publishers.

Temple of the Muses Interior

Temple of the Muses Interior (Wikipedia)

In reading biographies of Mary Shelley and books on Frankenstein, I’ve come across disparaging remarks aimed at Lackington’s.I believe these originate from accounts of the day by rivals who sought to harm Lackington’s reputation out of jealousy. Histories of English publishing by Feather and Mumby set the record straight and give Lackington his due as one of the most remarkable of booksellers and publishers.

 

James Lackington wrote two books of memoirs and both can be found in Special Collections:

Memoirs of the First Forty-five Years of the Life of James Lackington

Special Collections Springer Collection B .L141L

The Confessions of J. Lackington

Special Collections x-Collection CT788.L25 A3 1804

 

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Grand Army of the Republic in Iowa

G.A.R. Handkercheif with symbols

G.A.R. handkerchief from E. J. C. Bealer. Center image is the badge of the GAR with corps badges surrounding.

Today’s post comes from Jacque Roethler on Grand Army of the Republic finds in her recent processing work.

Special Collections recently acquired the papers of a law firm in Cedar Rapids, the Bealer/Grimm/Shuttleworth papers. In it were the expected files on cases, insurance, and property, but in a ledger containing E. J. C. Bealer’s 1927 expenses I came across this GAR handkerchief. Curious, I determined to find out more about the Grand Army of the Republic in Iowa.

The GAR was a fraternal order open to honorably discharged soldiers of the Union Army. The first post of the GAR was founded in Decatur Illinois in April 1866. By the end of October, an Iowa post had been organized, among the first in the nation. Though it started strong, the Iowa Department, following a national trend, lost membership in the early years, probably because the men were trying to secure a livelihood and starting (or continuing) families and certainly because they could not sort themselves out politically, especially in light of Reconstruction in the South. In January 1871 the Iowa Post was dissolved. In 1872 the national organization made an effort to re-start the Iowa program, and an Iowa Department was re-established. It remained small but the officers were determined that it not be abandoned again.

Women's Relief Corp book, 1897

Women’s Relief Corp book, 1897

The Grand Army of the Republic reached its peak in 1890, when it had a national membership of 490,000. Iowa reached its peak then, too, with 435 posts and a membership of 20,234. After this time the number of posts remained constant for years, but overall membership declined. The national GAR was finally dissolved in 1956, when its last member died.

Though at their inception the membership decided that they were not going to a political group, the GAR was one of the first advocacy groups in America. They advocated for voting rights for black veterans.  In Iowa, it was largely due to the influence of the GAR that the Soldier’s Home in Marshalltown was built after the legislature appropriated $100,000 in 1886 for the purpose.  In 1889 the legislature authorized the Soldier’s Relief Fund. In 1904, encouraged by the GAR, the legislature gave veterans preference in public employment, though by this time most of the veterans had aged out of the work force.

Program from the 56th Annual Encampment at the Iowa State Capitol

Program from the 56th Annual Encampment at the Iowa State Capitol

Monuments to the Civil War dead were also a priority for the Iowa GAR and they lobbied for state funding for monuments in Des Moines and Vicksburg.  The GAR got the General Assembly to finance a roster of every living veteran in the state of Iowa.  The GAR was so powerful that that Iowa government gave them a room in the state capitol to be used as a permanent headquarters, for which the state appropriated funds for maintenance. The Iowa GAR was instrumental in seeing that almost all of the schools in Iowa had a flag to raise every morning and the Woman’s Relief Corps (the women’s auxiliary to the GAR) had placed in every school in Iowa a pamphlet about the management and care of flags.

 The national meetings, which took place once a year, were called National Encampments. In 1922 the 56th National Encampment was held in Des Moines. Twenty thousand veterans and their allied organizations were in attendance.  The average age of attendees was around eighty. At this Encampment, Judge James W. Willet of Tama, Iowa, was elected unanimously as the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Elmer J.C. Bealer, Commander of the Iowa Department of the Grand Army of the Republic, 1918-1919

Elmer J.C. Bealer, Commander of the Iowa Department of the Grand Army of the Republic, 1918-1919

E.J.C. Bealer was elected to the Iowa Legislature in 1901 and served three terms, and he supported legislation of interest to veterans, including the Vicksburg Monument. He served as Commander of the Iowa Department of the Grand Army of the Republic from June 1918 to June 1919. He attended the National Encampment in Des Moines in 1922.  In the collection you can find reservations at the Hotel Savery, where he stayed during the Encampment. We have a campaign brochure for Willet, sent to Bealer in an envelope addressed to “Comrade E.J.C. Bealer, Past Department Commander GAR.”   And we have this wonderful GAR handkerchief seen above. The image in the center of the handkerchief is the badge of the GAR. The icons surrounding the central badge are the corps badges.

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A Miniature Menagerie

Miniature metal book with hinges and pages that turn.

Do you remember the Sesame Street song lyrics “One of these things is not like the other one of these things just doesn’t belong”?  Today’s post was inspired by the song, though I’m inclined to agree with the first part of the statement and disagree with the latter.  Yes, these things are not like the others, but they certainly belong!  They were all found in the stacks of Special Collections and University Archives.  While most of our collections are comprised of printed books, images, papers, and ephemera, there’s an occasional surprise tucked away in a box or file folder.

I’ve selected a few items that struck my fancy.  They all happen to be miniature versions of something:  dining furniture, books, paper mills, for example.  Some of the objects are considered artist’s books, some are parts of books, and some are just objects.

Miniature Dard Hunter Paper Mill

Dard Hunter:  Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections, text by Dard Hunter, case and books by Robert E. Massmann.  The paper used to construct the mill-shaped case and the small books came from Hunter’s handmade paper mill in Connecticut.  The case is a replica of the mill which remained in use from 1928 till 1931, and the two small books (volumes I and II) document thoughts, quotations, and paper samples from Hunter.  The books themselves are miniature artifacts that fit below the three dimensional model of the mill.    For more information on Dard Hunter visit http://www.dardhunter.com/.

x-Collection – TS1098.H8 A25 1984

 

 

Miniature dining table set - University of Iowa Special CollectionsButter Knives and Fish Forks: With Guidance From “The New Setting Your Table” by Annie Tremmel Wilcox.  This artist book is a true surprise.  The dining room set, with a perfect table setting replete with candles and flowers, is housed inside what looks like a relatively traditional book box.  Along with the dining room set, a small accordion structure includes a narrative reflecting on table-settings, traditions, and growing up.  There are also small cards which show exemplary place-set tables.

From the Szathmary Collection – N7433.4.W52

 

 

Miniature set of pots and pans made from pennies - University of Iowa Special CollectionsJudge James Willis Bollinger collected as many Lincoln related items as he could.  Lincoln was a passion of his, and though his collection focused on books and pamphlets, he also managed to collect a wide array of objects relating to Lincoln.  Included in his non-print materials are small penny sculptures.  There is one in particular that would fit right in on the dining table from above:  a tea and food service tray.  Also of interest are the miniature books with Lincoln penny head bookends.

From the James Wills Bollinger Papers – MsC0036

 

 

Miniature keychain book - University of Iowa Special Collections

And finally, since this post features miniature, I can’t leave out items from the Charlotte M. Smith collection of Miniature Books.  Many of the diminutive books in the Smith Collection are lengthy and readable works, but the ones selected for today were meant as charms and key chains.  There are several souvenir metal book-shaped key chains that house small accordion images from international cities.  Come check them all out!  The book charms with metal hinged “pages” are of particular interest as well (first image above).

From the Charlotte M. Smith Papers [Charlotte M. Smith Collection of Miniature Books] – MsC457

 

Though not featured today, we also have objects of the non-miniature variety including bagpipes, films, sculptures, and much more dispersed among our archival and collections materials.

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Mary and Percy Shelley Letter Mentions Frankenstein Rejections – 2 of 3 from Peter Balestrieri

Handwritten text saying, "Poor Mary’s book has come back with a refusal which has put me in rather ill spirits.”

Second in our series of three blog posts from Peter Balestrieri examining our holdings relating to Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus.

On August 16, 1817, Mary began writing a letter to Marianne Hunt, Leigh Hunt’s wife. The Hunt’s and the Shelley’s were close friends, their correspondence is extensive, and many of those letters are held here in the Brewer-Leigh Hunt Collection. This particular letter, written by both Mary and Percy Shelley, sheds light on their daily lives as her novel Frankenstein faced rejections before its eventual publication and fame.

In late summer, Mary Shelley was nineteen, pregnant, and trying to get Frankenstein, published. The manuscript had been rejected by her husband’s publisher, Charles Ollier, and by Lord Byron’s publisher, John Murray. Mary had spent the summer entertaining the Shelley’s many visitors, giving charity to the poor, and editing her and Shelley’s travel journals from their 1814 trip to Europe. She was also caring for her son, William, little “Willmouse.”

Mary’s letter to Marianne is filled with family news regarding their pregnancies, need for a nurse, and the sad news of the legal decision to send Shelley’s children by his first wife to be raised by a clergyman. Mary also writes that she is sending the Hunt’s some money; they were always in need of money. Mary signs off with good wishes and encouragement, believing that things will improve for Marianne.

One can imagine Percy Shelley entering the room at some point and asking, “To whom are you writing, my queen?” When informed of the letters’ recipient, he may have said, “Let me add a few lines when you have finished.” He does, and in these few lines we see a reference to Frankenstein and the trouble they are having with its publication. Percy Shelley writes, “Poor Mary’s book has come back with a refusal which has put me in rather ill spirits.” He is referring to Ollier’s rejection of the book and he goes on to ask if the Hunt’s know of any publishers that might be interested in it. By the end of the month, the novel is accepted by Lackington’s and Frankenstein is born.

The letter can be viewed online at the University Library’s Digital Library, http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/leighhunt/id/89/rec/5 and in person (MsL S54hu) at Special Collections and University Archives in the Main Library.

For more on Frankenstein visit the National Institutes of Health traveling exhibition, “Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature” that is on display at the second floor south entrance of University Capitol Centre through Nov. 2.  http://now.uiowa.edu/2012/10/genetics-frankenstein-future

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Frankenstein’s Cousin, The Vampyre – 1 of 3 from Peter Balestrieri

First of a series of three blog posts by Peter Balestrieri highlighting our collections relating to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

John Polidori by F.G. Gainsford

John Polidori by F.G. Gainsford

 “It was a dark and stormy night” in June, 1816 that brought together some of Romantic literature’s shining lights to read ghost stories in the Villa Diodati near Geneva, Switzerland.  Diodati had once hosted Milton and was now occupied by Lord Byron and his personal physician, John William Polidori. In attendance with them, were Percy Bysshe Shelley, his wife Mary, and her half-sister, Claire Clairmont. They shared a roaring fire and read to each other from a collection of chilling German folk tales. Byron suggested they each compose a ghost story and in the days and weeks that followed, they all began writing. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein came from this night of inspiration, as did small pieces by Byron and Percy Shelley. Claire Clairmont may have written a story but there is no record of it other than a mention in one of Mary’s letters. The only other story of real note to be produced came from John Polidori. His Vampyre was the first vampire story in English and preceded Bram Stoker’s Dracula by three quarters of a century. It laid the foundation for nearly every work of vampire fiction since, including those by Anne Rice (The Vampire Chronicles) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight). But who was Polidori and how did he come to be in Switzerland that cold, dark summer of 1816?

John William Polidori was born on December 7, 1795 in London, the son of an Italian scholar and an English governess. His sister Francesca married Gabriele Rossetti and Polidori became uncle to their illustrious children, Dante Gabriele Rossetti and Christina Rossetti. Educated at the University of Edinburgh, Polidori graduated a doctor of medicine in 1815, only nineteen years old. He wrote his thesis on sleepwalking and had aspirations to literature and fame. In 1816, he heard that Byron was planning a trip to the Continent and arranged to accompany him as his personal physician. The relationship between Byron and Polidori was uneasy at times and there are accounts of Polidori being mocked by Byron and later, his guests. They gave him the nickname, “Poor Polidori,” and let him know that he was not held in high esteem. On his part, Polidori was sometimes contentious or arrogant, trying hard to stand on equal footing with his talented and famous companions. After the night of ghost stories, he began work on one of his own but bogged down. He took up the suggestion of a plot by Byron and produced The Vampyre, an innovation in vampire fiction that substituted a handsome, aristocratic vampire for the ugly, misshapen monster that populated earlier fiction and folktales, the Nosferatu. Polidori’s vampire, modeled on Byron, is a handsome, dapper aristocrat who is powerfully attractive to women, his primary victims. He moves easily in the highest society and gives no indication of his true identity. Critics believe that Polidori and Byron’s relationship had deteriorated badly and there is much in The Vampyre that can be read as the doctor’s resentment toward his employer. Shortly after the novella was finished, Byron dismissed Polidori from his service.

Polidori travelled through Italy, returned to England, and resumed medical practice. Under mysterious circumstances and without his permission, The Vampyre was published in April of 1819 by the New Monthly Magazine and attributed to Byron. Byron and Polidori both sought to clear up the question of authorship but the work continued for a time to be attributed to Byron, a fact appreciated by the publisher who was profiting by the false connection. Polidori went on to write a long poem, The Fall of the Angels, but never became the author he hoped to be. In 1821, after years of increasing depression and gambling debts, he took his own life with prussic acid. He was twenty-five years old.

Special Collections has a first edition of The Vampyre, published in London, 1819, by Sherwood, Neely, and Jones. It is one of several works likely inspired by that evening at Villa Diodati available for viewing in the Reading Room.

 

Reading List:

The Vampyre, John Polidori, 1819.  x-Collection 828 .P766v

A Fragment of a Ghost Story,” Percy Bysshe Shelley, from LinkRelics of Shelley. Ed. by Richard Garnett, 1862.  Leigh Hunt Collection 828 .S545Xg

“Journal at Geneva: Ghost Stories,” Percy Bysshe Shelley, from Essays, Letters from Abroad, Translations and Fragments,  Ed. by Mrs. Shelley, 1840. Leigh Hunt Collection 828 .S545X3

Fragment of a Novel,” in LinkMazeppa : A Poem, Lord Byron, 1819. x-Collection PR4372 .M3 1819.

 

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Paperbacks in the Stacks

Students from Professor Loren Glass’ English/UI Center for the Book course Literature and the Book: The Paperback Revolution are using materials from Special Collections this semester to uncover the impact of paperback books on twentieth century American literature and culture.  As they do, we are uncovering some hidden treasures of the paperback revolution in the stacks.

Despite the ubiquity of the paperback book throughout much of the twentieth century, paperbacks are typically an understudied book format, mostly getting attention for sensational cover art. However, many intriguing aspects of the paperback revolution beyond cover art  are illustrated throughout our collections.

Here are some highlights:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith. New York: Council on Books in Wartime, 1943.

(Armed Services edition ; D-117) x-Collection PS3537.M325 T7 1943b

Armed Services Editions, printed from 1943-1946 for American soldiers during World War II, are notable for their unusual horizontal format. They were printed two at a time on magazine presses and then cut in half horizontally, resulting in an oblong book. The text is also printed in two columns per page.This copy of Smith’s novel was published as a hardcover first edition by Harper & Brothers in 1943, the same year the Armed Services Edition was published. Our copy is worn, and the glue holding the cover on has detached so you can see the large staple that is the only things holding the pages together. Did this book travel to Europe or the Pacific tucked in a soldier’s cargo pocket? 

 

Chinese Cooking Made Easy, Isabelle C. Chang. New York: Paperback Library, Inc. 1961. Szathmary TX725.C514 1961

There are many paperback cookbooks in the Szathmary Culinary Collection, including this Chinese cookbook, the first paperback edition of What’s Cooking at Chang’s? (renamed in paperback). The low cost and accessibility of paperback cookbooks made a broader range of recipes and techniques available to a large audience – in this case, “tantalizing, exotic dishes you can prepare with ingredients easily available at your grocer or supermarket.”  Paperbacks from the 1950s-70s in the Szathmary collection range from microwave cooking to wine to recipes from all over the world.

 

 

 

Signal Thirty-Two, MacKinlay Kantor. New York: Bantam Books, 1952. Iowa Authors Collection

One of the benefits of our Iowa Authors Collection for book historians is the opportunity to look at multiple editions of a single title, including paperbacks. Webster City native MacKinlay Kantor was a prolific journalist and novelist. This “Bantam Giant” paperback edition of his novel Signal Thirty-Two fits the stereotype of a mid-twentieth century paperback with its dramatic cover art, but other characteristics of the book indicate a desire to represent a “quality” not always associated with paperbacks, especially in the 1950s when they were still a relatively new format. The slogans “Bantam Giants – not one word cut” and “Every Book Complete” emphasize that the paperback, while physically smaller, is not an abridged version of the hardcover original. Signal Thirty-Two’s title page stretches across a spread, showing attention to innovative graphic design, and the text ends with a solicitation from the Bantam paperbacks editor for reader input and recommendations.

 

Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut. New York: Dell, 1959. x-Collection PS3572.O66 S47 1959

Our ever-growing science fiction collections include many paperbacks, as much of that genre was first or only published in the ephemeral and cheap paperback format. One particular gem is the first edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s second novel, Sirens of Titan. Though Vonnegut is now recognized as an important an influential American author, in 1959 this first edition was pocket-sized, printed on cheap paper, and sold for 35 cents.

This book, as well as some other exciting paperbacks from our collection, will be on display in our pop-up case. Come check them out!

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