Tag Archives: Special Collections

Shakespeare’s First Folio at Middlebury – Keynote Wednesday and more events to come!

This February, one of the most important books in the history of English literature is coming to Middlebury. This year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and to honor the centuries of the bard’s influence, the Folger Shakespeare Library is sponsoring a national tour of their collection of First Folios.

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Considered one of the most influential books in the world, the First Folio includes 36 Shakespeare plays, 18 of which had never been printed before the First Folio in 1623. Without the First Folio, all of those plays – including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, As You Like It, and more – might have been lost forever.

From February 2-28, Middlebury College will serve as the Vermont site of the national tour, displaying the First Folio at the Middlebury Museum of Art.

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To kick off this month of celebration, James Shapiro, Columbia University professor and renowned Shakespeare scholar, will give a lecture on Shakespeare’s role in American history on Wednesday February 3rd at 7:00pm in the Concert Hall.

Visit go/shakespeare for more information about events throughout the month of February, including a First Folio Festival on Thursday February 18th at 4:30pm in the Center for the Arts Lobby.

The Ski-Minded College: Winter Carnival 1950

This clip from a recently rediscovered College promotional film produced in 1950 shows how students at “one of the most ski-minded of American colleges” took advantage of all that a Vermont winter has to offer. The dulcet narration guides us through a tour of the Snow Bowl and introduces us to the Winter Carnival, “the highlight of the year, [in which] fine competitive skiing is combined with the tops in social events.” The clip also captures student broadcasters just a few months after the founding of WMCRS, the college radio station that has gone by the call letters WRMC since 1952.

Be sure to join Special Collections on February 26 during the Winter Carnival in Crossroads Cafe as we present a special screening of newly-discovered films from the college archives (follow us on Facebook or check the Carnival schedule for an exact time). Spanning the 1920s to 1950s, this assortment of sound and silent footage captures the full range of Middlebury’s historic wintertime fun— from synchronized skiing to cigarette pack snow sculptures!

 

Sources

College Stations Changes Name.” The Middlebury Campus, October 9, 1952.

Lemcke, Ted, “WRMC Elects New Board; Plans to Enlarge ScheduleThe Middlebury Campus, May 16, 1957.

 

Students are “Southbound for Christmas” ca. 1930, captured on film

This recently rediscovered clip from the 1930s in the College’s 16mm film archives shows the once-bustling Middlebury train station with students eagerly boarding a southbound train home for the holiday break. The footage also captures views of notable town architecture including the conical spire that once capped the Battell Block before it’s removal after a 1950 hurricane and  the residence of George Harvey years before it became the Fire and Ice restaurant in 1974.

As fall semester comes to a close, be sure to affix a Middlebury pennant onto your luggage, don your fur coat, and board the southbound train home for holidays!

Sources

Langrock, Joann. Middebury Stores and Busineses. Middlebury: Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, 2002.

New book art in Special Collections

Last week we shared our newest oldest acquisition, a cuneiform-inscribed baked clay tablet from around 2,000 BCE, and today we feature our newest new acquisition, two works by Brian Dettmer.

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Brooklyn-based book artist Brian Dettmer transforms books into art pieces, carving into them to uncover new meaning in the pages and to redefine the book’s role as an cultural object and knowledge repository.

Pictured above, and on display in the Special Collections Reading Room are The Smaller Big Fun Book, 2012 and Manual of Engineering Drawing, 2010. Come take a look!

Disclaimer: While we appreciate these works of book art, we do not endorse such work with any Library materials. 

A “first-rate beer” voucher, 2,000 years overdue

In special collections, visitors often ask us, “What’s your most expensive item?” Or sometimes: “What’s the oldest thing you have?”

In late November, we acquired our newest, oldest thing: a baked clay tablet that originated in ancient Mesopotamia (current-day Iraq), from roughly 2,000 BCE. This small tablet (measuring just about 1 inch x 1 inch and pictured here) is incised with cuneiform script, considered to be one of the earliest forms of writing.


With the help of Middlebury alum Seth Richardson, Class of 1990, a historian of the ancient Near East at the University of Chicago, we’re learning more about our new acquisition. Likely in British and American hands since the early 20th century, our tablet is essentially a beer coupon. That’s right. Based only on preliminary examination, Dr. Richardson translated the first line: “3 liters of first-rate beer.”

And as it turns out, the Western tradition of beer brewing began in Mesopotamia between 3500 – 3100 BCE. How do we know? Largely from cuneiform tablets like ours, which contain detailed records around beer production, the delivery of raw materials (barley, yeast, bread, flour), and the trading of beer products. Like apple cider production in colonial New England, ancient Mesopotamians lacked clean water, but had an abundance of grains and the know-how needed to ferment them. And they had the earliest known written alphabet to boot.

Funds for the purchase of this item were gifted by Jeri Bapasola, French School, 1978.

References

Beer in the Ancient World.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Accessed December 3, 2015.

Damerow, Peter. “Sumerian Beer: The Origins of Brewing Technology in Ancient Mesopotamia.” Cuneiform Digital Library Journal, no. 2 (2012).

Turkey on Film: Delicious Dinners in the 16mm Archives

Thanksgiving Day meals are not complete without a perfectly cooked turkey. In these two clips from 16mm reels the Middlebury College Archives, we see both students and the administration sharing in the enjoyment of Thanksgiving’s most iconic fowl.

First, we join the College’s 10th President, Paul Dwight Moody, as he carves a turkey in the late 1930s or early 1940s. This event may have been part of any number of alumni turkey dinners that Moody attended over his presidential tenure.

Next, we find a student in a 1950 promotional film for the College savoring a chef-prepared turkey meal. The clip goes on to highlight the focused work ethic and “enduring zest” for scientific experimentation exemplified by mid-century Middlebury’s  “ambitious youth”.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Middlebury College Football, 1947

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The 1947 Panthers were led by coach Walter “Duke” Nelson (far top left) through a comeback season to the state championship.

 

Though today’s Middlebury College football team stands as a formidable member of the NESCAC, the lineup that went on to win the 1947 state championships may not have seemed quite so promising at the start. Having consisted mostly of Navy men who could only practice after supper and on Saturday at the conclusion of WWII, the 1946 team had played a hard-fought four-game season with only one win. Thankfully, Class of 1932 alumnus Walter “Duke” Nelson returned to Middlebury to coach the program the following year and had a record enrollment of over 600 men to pick from.

 

Two players from the 1947 lineup practice the skills that won them the state championship.
Two players from the 1947 lineup practice the skills that carried them through their historic season.

 

This recently-uncovered clip from a 16mm film reel in the College Archives shows the inexperienced yet rising stars of the team at play as Coach Duke led them in their historic comeback. With footage from several home games (including one attended by Gov. Ernest W. Gibson), the clip captures the momentous nature of the season, thanks in part to dramatic cutaways capturing sports headlines that chronicled the team’s journey.

 

 

Middlebury College Football, 1947

a10 mcnb pf 01-07 1947-45-48n 001
The 1947 Panthers were led by coach Walter “Duke” Nelson (far top left) through a comeback season to the state championship.

 

Though today’s Middlebury College football team stands as a formidable member of the NESCAC, the lineup that went on to win the 1947 state championships may not have seemed quite so promising at the start. Having consisted mostly of Navy men who could only practice after supper and on Saturday at the conclusion of WWII, the 1946 team had played a hard-fought four-game season with only one win. Thankfully, Class of 1932 alumnus Walter “Duke” Nelson returned to Middlebury to coach the program the following year and had a record enrollment of over 600 men to pick from.

 

Two players from the 1947 lineup practice the skills that won them the state championship.
Two players from the 1947 lineup practice the skills that carried them through their historic season.

 

This recently-uncovered clip from a 16mm film reel in the College Archives shows the inexperienced yet rising stars of the team at play as Coach Duke led them in their historic comeback. With footage from several home games (including one attended by Gov. Ernest W. Gibson), the clip captures the momentous nature of the season, thanks in part to dramatic cutaways capturing sports headlines that chronicled the team’s journey.

 

 

Special Collections & Archives Celebrates Founder’s Day

To mark Founder’s Day, the original Middlebury College Charter signed by the Governor of Vermont on November 1st, 1800 will be on view in Special Collections on Nov. 2nd. Stop by and see it along with other documents from the College Archives that date from the time of our founding.

Can’t make out the cursive? Read the transcript here.

 

This document represents both the incipit of our College’s narrative as well as the laborious road to the college charter itself. After two failed petitions to the Vermont General Assembly in 1789 and 1799, Middlebury faced opposition from the institution that received the first university charter, the University of Vermont. Though UVM had been chartered in 1791, the institution’s doors had yet to open at the time Middlebury petitioned to open the College. In fact, they had yet to elect a president or establish a college edifice. Fearful of losing their state funding and lands, UVM sought to prevent a new college from forming. However, due to the state’s population increase (Vermont’s population grew from 84,000 to 154,000 between 1791 and 1800) and UVM’s slow start, there was a clear need for a place to educate Vermonters at home. Middlebury, with its newly constructed Academy Building (a $4,150 project funded by public subscriptions) founded by Gamaliel Painter, proved the perfect place to serve the College and Vermonters at large. Thus, the town’s college was founded with the signing of the charter, just 39 years after the town itself was chartered.

 

Source: Stameshkin, David M. 1985. The Town’s College: Middlebury College, 1800-1915. Middlebury, VT: Middlebury College Press.

Prof. Shalom Goldman, guest DJ on WRMC’s Stacks & Tracks

Join us and our first guest DJ, Professor Shalom Goldman (Religion)

 

Episode #4, Stacks & Tracks, the Special Collections & Archives radio show, Monday, November 2, 9am-10am

 

Tune-in to hear a half-century of popular music, inspired by biblical stories.
With commentary, of course.

 

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