Exhibit of early printed books opening June 14th in the library

Special Collections’ summer exhibition, In the Footprints of the First German Printers: 1450-1500, retraces the expansion of printing in Europe. The exhibit follows the German pioneers who initiated and spread the art of bookprinting and developed a tradition that transformed the world of learning.

All but one of the books featured were donated by Helen and Arthur Tasheira, Californian benefactors of Middlebury who summered in Vermont. In 1946, they generously gifted forty-three printed books from the infancy of print, primarily from Italy and Germany. (The other book on display was a gift of Middlebury alumna Ruth Hesselgrave, class of 1918.)

Woodcut print from the Nuremberg Chronicle depicting the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt. The Nuremberg Chronicle was produced in 1493, a lavishly illustrated retelling of the history of the world. Middlebury’s copy is in German and was donated by Ruth Hesselgrave, class of 1918.

Each book contains the history of the early evolution of printing. By studying the materials of the covers, pages, inks, the page layout implemented, the hand-painted additions to the printed text, we learn about how the first printers’ processes developed and how readers’ interpretation of texts evolved. (And that’s without even reading them!) 

In the Footprints of the First German Printers: 1450-1500 was curated by Marie Théberge (P ’10) and designed by Mikaela Taylor (’15) with additional support by Danielle Rougeau and Rebekah Irwin. It will be on display in Davis Family Library atrium (main level) and Harman Periodicals Reading Area (lower level) from June 14th through September 30th.

DIY Valentine Event Tuesday February 13th

DIY Valentine-making is back this year!

On Tuesday February 13th from 3-5pm, join us in Library 145 to make Valentines with inspiration from our collection of vintage postcards, poems from the Abernethy Collection of American Literature, and vintage topographic maps. Otter Creek Bakery cookies will be provided!

Make your own sausage-slicing dog butcher Valentine, complete with swinging hinged arm!

New this year: dazzle your Valentine by making your card pop! Learn the Turkish Map Fold to showcase a love poem, original collage, or map to your heart.

 

Plus, we’ll have information on upcoming book arts workshops this semester. Be sure to join our email list!

New podcast asks “What is Vermont music?” with Special Collections’ Rebekah Irwin



Listen to our favorite new podcast, Before Your Time, presented by the Vermont Historical Society and the Vermont Humanities Council, and edited and distributed by VTDigger.

Episode two, A Green Mountain Mixtape explores Vermont music and the questions musical traditions raise about Vermont identity. Director and Curator of Special Collections Rebekah Irwin discusses a pioneer in folk life preservation, Helen Hartness Flanders, who recorded Vermonters singing traditional folk ballads passed down from one generation to the next. Click here to visit the Before Your Time website

In her quest to preserve the past, Flanders utilized emerging sound recording technologies, starting with wax cylinders, then aluminum discs, vinyl LP’s, and reel-to-reel tapes, formats that today represent the history of recording technology.

 

Episode one, Vermont’s Great Flood features Nick Clifford, professor emeritus at Middlebury College. He and his wife Deborah Clifford wrote a book on the 1927 flood called The Troubled Roar of the Waters.

Enjoy!

 

Come celebrate the season with Robert Frost and the Spiral Press

Join us Thursday, December 14th at 4:00pm in the Davis Family Library Atrium for a reception to honor and enjoy the current Special Collections exhibition, Holiday Greetings from Robert Frost and the Spiral Press, curated by College Archivist Danielle Rougeau.

Light refreshments will be served.

On display for the first time since 1961, when Corinne Tennyson Davids donated the Wales Hawkins Memorial Collection of Frostiana to Middlebury, Robert Frost’s complete set of 28 holiday cards tell the story of an artistic collaboration spanning more than three decades. Robert Frost and the Spiral Press created holiday greeting cards of the highest craftsmanship and design from 1929 until 1962. Works of art in themselves, the cards also stand as true first editions of the chosen poems. Frost became a true champion of fine letterpress, and commented that “the Spiral’s typography and printing found things to say to my poetry that hadn’t been said before.”  

DIY Bookmaking is back this J-Term!

Vinyl records are so 2010. Special Collections bookmaking gurus are back to celebrate the millennium renaissance of audio cassette tapes, those small, plastic, blasts from the past. We’ll provide vintage cassette tapes and you will go home with a super-cool, handsewn, blank notebook with covers fashioned out of “upcycled” audio tapes. Low fidelity, high reward. All materials provided.

When: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 from 4:15-7:15p

Where: Special Collections Reading Room

How: visit go/wtw for information and go/ideal to register on November 19 at 8am

Cost: $12

Show your Special Collections love with stickers + Student Services Fair Friday

A new batch of stickers has arrived for the fall semester! Come by the Special Collections reading room to snag one of your own. (Available while supplies last.)

Students can get their hands on these stickers (and other giveaways) at the Student Activities & Services Fair this Friday the 22nd at 4:30pm on McCullough Lawn, as they learn more about Special Collections resources. Additionally, Katrina Spencer and Ryan Clement will represent the Library at large: they will answer questions and offer candy and treats, along with a mobile circ desk featuring CDs and graphic novels for check-out. Come see us at the Library and Special Collections table!

Beast, Animal, Brute

Inspired by the 18th century French philosopher Denis Diderot’s massive, thirty-five volume Encyclopédie, the current exhibition in Special Collections & Archives reveals our enduring curiosity of animals through a selection of rare and unusual books dating from the 17th through the 20th centuries.

The Lamia, a mythical demon from ancient Greece who devoured children, from Edward Topsell’s The historie of foure-footed beastes, 1607

 

Other works on display include Edward Topsell’s The historie of foure-footed beastes, published in 1607 in London (and possibly one of  William Shakespeare’s literary sourcebooks) and a polar bear as described by Captain James Cook, the British explorer, in the 18th century, upon arrival in the Russian Arctic Circle.

Zoology of New York, or the New-York fauna : comprising detailed descriptions of all the animals hitherto observed within the state of New York, with brief notices of those occasionally found near its borders, and accompanied by appropriate illustrations, by James De Kay, 1842-44

Also on exhibit in the Davis Family Library: Banned and Banished: Ovid and 2,000 Years of Exile curated by Mikaela Taylor.

What’s up with “My Books Smell Good”

Last summer, Special Collections & Archives rolled out new swag: black tote bags (er, book bags) and stickers emblazoned with the slogan My books smell good. First, we want to thank Carey Bass, Middlebury’s talented graphic designer, for the bold serif font and brash ending punctuation. But, “What does it mean?” (People have asked, with a skeptical gaze.) As well as: “Isn’t it a little vulgar?” A little behind-the-scenes seemed overdue.

In a 2010 interview in The Paris Review, the science fiction writer Ray Bradbury  was asked about e-books and Kindles:

Those aren’t books. You can’t hold a computer in your hand like you can a book. A computer does not smell. There are two perfumes to a book. If a book is new, it smells great. If a book is old, it smells even better. It smells like ancient Egypt. A book has got to smell. You have to hold it in your hands and pray to it. You put it in your pocket and you walk with it. And it stays with you forever. But the computer doesn’t do that for you. I’m sorry.

That sums it up, though a little curmudgeonly.  And from the Journal of Chromatography, chemists used solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry to analyze volatile organic compounds emitted from a naturally aged groundwood pulp paper originating from an old book. (Read it for yourself here.) Volatile organic compounds. This is what we’re talkin’ about:

And another recent article lays out a framework to identify, protect and conserve the smells that influence the way we engage with the past. Smithsonian Magazine wrote about this research, and here’s a photograph of a scientist taking a deep sniff at the National Archives of The Netherlands.

From Smithsonian Magazine, April 7, 2017

 

Whatever it is that brings you to our doorpoetry, history, chemistry, or a hankering to smell a centuries old book for yourselfjust come. We have lots of bags left and they make memorable graduation gifts. (Totes are $5, while they last).

Email specialcollections@middlebury.edu
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“State of Marriage” Film Screening

On Wed., April 19th at 4:30pm in Dana Auditorium,  Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives will host the first Addison County screening of the documentary film “The State of Marriage.”  The film draws on archival footage and more recent interviews to tell the gripping story of the remarkable men and women who pioneered the national marriage equality movement through their groundbreaking efforts in Vermont.  The work of Susan Murray and Beth Robinson, then attorneys in Middlebury, is featured as they work through the legal system and create a grassroots movement, all the while facing stiff opposition to the idea of gays and lesbians marrying legally.

There will be a question and answer segment following the film with the filmmakers Jeff Kaufman and Marcia Ross of Floating World Pictures, and key participants in the Vermont Supreme Court case, Baker v. State, including attorney Susan Murray and plaintiffs Lois Farnham and Holly Putterbaugh. The event is cosponsored by Chellis House – Women’s Resource Center, the Film & Media Culture and Political Science Departments, and Middlebury College Queers & Allies. In 2015, Middlebury’s Special Collections & Archives became the official repository for the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force’s archives. This nonprofit task force, formed in 1996, was instrumental in passing both Vermont’s landmark civil unions law in 2000 and subsequent same-sex marriage law, which took effect in 2009.

The Huffington Post wrote that “The State of Marriage” is, “Gripping. Audiences will cheer” and the Hollywood Reporter described it as, “Indispensable. A suspenseful nail-biter right up to the feel good ending.” Free and open to the public.  Popcorn will be served!

Plaintiffs in the Baker v. State case celebrate the passage of the Civil Union Law in 2000 (Photo courtesy of Floating World Pictures)

A tribute to Barbara Jordan on her birthday

In celebration of Black History Month, we remember Barbara Jordan’s 1987 Commencement address at Middlebury. She received an Honorary Doctor of Laws and spoke about values in education and those which members of society should agree to live by: Truth, Tolerance, Respect, and Community.

Other photos of the commencement ceremony show Prof. David Rosenberg, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, handing out diplomas. He remembered about her speech, “She shared many historical and philosophical comments on principles and values to guide our commencing graduates. But the biggest applause and laughter came near the end when she quoted from Robert Fulghum’s essay, “All I ever really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten.” It was a good way to acknowledge the critical role parents play at an early and formative stage in the lives of our graduates long before they arrive at Middlebury.”

The former congresswoman showed her Texas pride from the commencement podium with the University of Texas’s “hook ’em horns” hand symbol. After retiring from politics in 1979, she taught ethics at the University of Texas until her death in 1996.

Born in Houston, Texas exactly 81 years ago, Jordan earned her law degree from Boston University in 1959 and was elected to the Texas Senate in 1966, becoming the first African-American state senator since 1883 and the first black woman to hold the seat. In 1972, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, making her the first woman to represent Texas in the House, and (in the same year) as president pro tempore of the Texas senate, the first black woman in America to preside over a legislative body.

She solidified herself as a household name while serving on the House Judiciary Committee during President Richard Nixon’s impeachment scandal. Delivered the opening remarks to the committee and the nation, she supported the articles of impeachment against the president. In her speech she held up her faith in the Constitution and declared that if her fellow committee members failed to impeach President Nixon,“then perhaps the eighteenth–century Constitution should be abandoned to a twentieth–century paper shredder.”

She extended her rhetorical capabilities to Middlebury College in 1987, undeterred by the multiple sclerosis that would ultimately kill her, delivering the address from a wheelchair.

 

Source: “Jordan, Barbara Charline | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives.” Accessed February 21, 2017. http://history.house.gov/People/Detail/16031.