Recently, while digitizing some song recordings from the Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection, we discovered an undocumented recording of a man reading from Rowland E. Robinson’s book Uncle Lisha’s Shop: Life in a Corner of Yankeeland. We recognized it as a Robinson story because of the characters mentioned, so we searched the online version of one of his most popular books for the word “voter”, which seemed unlikely to be a common word in the story, and we found that the text being read starts on pg. 13, seven lines from the bottom of the page. We recommend that you read along in the book while listening to the recording. Click here for the online text and listen to the recording by clicking the icon below.
The reader takes on the accent of two of Robinson’s classic characters, a “Yankee” and a “Cunuck”, aka French Canadian. Robinson wrote most of his fiction in the 1890s and it was very popular, particularly in Vermont, right up through the 1930s and 40s when Flanders was collecting her ballad recordings. Unfortunately we don’t know who the reader is or when the recording was made. The ballad recording that precedes it on the tape was originally on a disc, which means it was recorded between 1939 and 1950, but the story on the tape seems to be covered over by the ballad recording, and how that happened is a bit of a mystery yet to be solved, and we can’t be certain the singer of the ballad is the same person reading the story. We may eventually discover a more complete version of the reading.
For more about the Flanders Collection and to hear some of the recordings visit this site.
The home of Rowland E. Robinson is a museum open to the public in nearby Ferrisburgh. www.Rokeby.org
Wax cylinders, Middlebury’s Special Collections & College Archives
Middlebury College will make available over 200 wax cylinders and more than 1,000 records from the Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection. This new technology will make it possible to capture sound even from broken and cracked cylinders and records, making it possible to play ballads not heard for over 80 years.
Though we love to see you in the library, we’ve added a new website where you can view a changing sampling of new books, DVDs, and other materials as we acquire them for the College’s Libraries. Check out our new feature and then check those books out and start reading. You’ll have to come to the library for that.
The Middlebury Libraries pulled back the curtain today to reveal a new face for our Digital Collections archive. Please visit and search through thousands of historic books, postcards, photographs, maps, illustrations, manuscripts, and recorded campus lecture videos from the holdings of our College Archives, Special Collections, and Vermont Collection. Here are a few to whet your apetite for our rich and varied digital archive. Enjoy!
View of the Battell Block, ca. 1905
Cyanotype of the Emma Willard House, circa 1890
Vermont Marble Works, Middlebury, VT, date unknown
Our print copy of Consumer Reports, available in the Harman Periodical Reading Room on the first floor of Davis Library is a popular title, and we’ve been asked by staff and students to consider full online access. So, whether you’re looking for cell phone plans, laptops, cars, or water filters, your research can start online, through March 1st.