Classes Visiting Special Collections

Five classes visited Special Collections last week, studying a wide range of materials.  We shared hundreds of items, from classic Greek texts published in Venice in the 15th century, to an 18th century Torah, to 1930s government reports on eugenics policy in Vermont.

Italian Renaissance Art with Prof. Carrie Anderson
Italian Renaissance Art with Prof. Carrie Anderson
Native North America with Prof. Marybeth Nevins
Native North America with Prof. Marybeth Nevins
Reading Slavery and Abolition with Prof. Will Nash
Reading Slavery and Abolition with Prof. Will Nash
Middle Eastern Political Religion with Prof. Shalom Goldman
Middle Eastern Political Religion with Prof. Shalom Goldman
The Ten Commandments with Prof. Shalom Goldman
The Ten Commandments with Prof. Shalom Goldman

Davis Library Fall atrium exhibit: Old Friends and New: Writers in Nature, 1847-2000

Two new exhibits have cropped up in the library this week – “Old Friends and New: Writers in Nature, 1847-2000” in the atrium and “Reading Nature” in the lower level Harman Reading Room. Both feature books that explore literary and scientific human interaction with the environment to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Environmental Studies at Middlebury College

Exhibition curated by Rebekah Irwin, designed by Danielle Rougeau, with production support from Joseph Watson. 

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The main floor exhibit “Old Friends and New” contains books and archives produced by authors deeply rooted in the natural world.

From Henry David Thoreau to John Freidin, this collection showcases the importance of nature as it exists outdoors as well as within the minds and pages of these authors.

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John Muir and John Burroughs, 1909
RERobinson in woods
Artist, naturalist, and writer Rowland Evans Robinson (1833-1900)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title page, Julia Butterfly Hill's The Legacy of Luna, 2000
Title page, Julia Butterfly Hill’s The Legacy of Luna, 2000

Davis Library Fall lower level exhibit: Reading Nature

Two new exhibits have cropped up in the library this week – “Old Friends and New: Writers in Nature, 1847-2000” in the atrium and “Reading Nature” in the lower level Harman Reading Room. Both feature books that explore literary and scientific human interaction with the environment to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Environmental Studies at Middlebury College

Exhibition curated by Mikaela Taylor, designed by Danielle Rougeau, with production support from Rebekah Irwin. 

brown pear signs less text“Reading Nature” on the lower level of the library features books by scientists, botanists, naturalists, artists, and poets from the beginning of the 18th century to the 20th century. Each captures nature in a new way, redrawing the frames through which we understand the natural world.

 

Pages from Annie M Ward's "Notes on Botany," 1850-1860
Pages from Annie M Ward’s “Notes on Botany,” 1850-1860

 

"Cloud Crystals: A Snowflake Album Collected and Edited by a Lady" by Frances Chickering, 1864
“Cloud Crystals: A Snowflake Album Collected and Edited by a Lady” by Frances Chickering, 1864
Butterfly diagram from "The Aurelian" by Moses Harris, 1840
Butterfly diagram from “The Aurelian” by Moses Harris, 1840; Recent Gift of Julia Emerson, Class of 1965

 

 

 

 

Harboring Runaway Slaves in Vermont

This article was originally published in the Middlebury College News Room. Read the complete article here.

 

15,000 Letters from an Abolitionist Family Offer Vast Opportunities for Research

<p>Rowland T. and Rachel G. Robinson operated Rokeby Farm and harbored runaway slaves.</p>
Rowland T. and Rachel G. Robinson operated Rokeby Farm and harbored runaway slaves.

The Davis Library at Middlebury College is now steward of a remarkable collection of letters from four generations of a Vermont family that harbored runaway slaves and were outspoken supporters of the Abolitionist Movement.

The Robinson Family Letters, an accumulation of 15,000 letters dating from 1757 to 1962, will offer students and scholars a wealth of research opportunities for many years to come. The letters are on extended loan to Middlebury Special Collections from the Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh, Vermont.

Rowland Thomas Robinson (1796-1879) and Rachel Gilpin Robinson (1799-1862) were devout Quakers and radical abolitionists, and were among Vermont’s earliest and most vocal opponents of slavery. Married in 1820, they tended Merino sheep at the family’s Rokeby Farm. At the same time they boycotted slave-made goods and – as the letters attest – sheltered Negro men, women, and children who escaped from slavery in the South.

Will Nash, professor of American studies, is using the letters in his Reading Slavery and Abolition course. “The Robinson letters bring students closer to the anti-slavery struggle than most published texts do, because of their personal nature and their close geographic link to Middlebury,” he said.

In one string of correspondence, Rowland T. Robinson writes to a North Carolina slave owner on behalf of “Jesse,” a fugitive then living at the Rokeby Farm. Jesse wished to purchase his freedom from his former owner, and Robinson contacted the owner to negotiate the transaction.

Continue reading this article in the News Room

 

 

 

Sporty Sweethearts and Sausages: Vintage Valentines from the Archives

From Special Collection and Archives, selected from our collection of American postcards and ephemera:

Valentine Golf
Valentine Thoughts
My heart’s a golf ball
for your “game”
You always with
me “score”
If I could only
win this “match,”
You’d “tease” my
heart no more.
© 1914

Valentine tennis

A Greeting to my Valentine
My heart goes
bounding o’er
the net,
A “lose game” we being,
Before another sun has set
I hope the game to win
© 1911


Valentine wishbone

I wish you knew 
a certain girl.
Her style is
indescribable.
Her manners really
are quite nice.
Her fortune quite
desirable.
Her portrait this: they
call it fine.
And she’s your own true Valentine.
Date unknown.

Valentine Baloney 2
Valentine Baloney 1 

It’s NO BALONEY when I say I LOVE YOU!
Date unknown

Postscript: Yes! That butcher/dog’s arm swings back and forth
The hinge is original and intact. (We can’t say as much for that baloney.)

“We were greatly shocked with the news…” May 21, 1865

During a recent visit to the archives by Professor Ellie Gebarowski-Shafer’s Religion 130 class, The Christian Tradition, students plowed through 214 years of Middlebury College missionary history with College Archivist Danielle Rougeau. Amid the pages of 19th century cursive was this diary entry by Mary Martin, wife of a missionary to China and grandmother of Mabel Martin (later Mary Buttolph), Class of 1911. (Mary Martin is pictured below, circa 1865.)

Mary Martin


After the death of her husband and a young son in China, Mary returned to Vermont by way of San Francisco. After 69 days at sea, she writes her last diary entry on May 21, 1865:

We were greatly shocked with the news we heard on our arrival this morning of the assassination of president Lincoln but very glad to learn that the war is over and that slavery is abolished.

Postscript: Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865. News traveled slowly in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Her mention of this news falls smack in the middle of the page below. To learn more about Middlebury missionaries, Mary Martin, or to cut your teeth on some 19th century cursive, visit Special Collections.

MartinM 1865.05.21 diary

 

Students learn the craft of medieval papermaking

Well, to be specific, medieval paper was actually parchment, made from animal hides rather than trees, and literally all of our knowledge of the Middle Ages was preserved on skins made from calves, sheep, or goats. To better understand the chemistry, art, and labor of parchment, Middlebury College’s Special Collections & Archives, together with Professor Eliza Garrison’s Medieval Manuscripts seminar, hosted Jesse Meyer from Pergamena. Watch us scud a goatskin (remove stubborn hair from the skin) and wield a lunarium (a crescent-shaped blade) to remove the fat and flesh. Follow this link to read a longer article about our adventure in medieval life.

 

A recipe to keep mites off your cheese, circa 1778

In the same year that Captain Cook sailed to Hawaii and Great Britain declared war on France, Helen Weldon started her recipe book in Bath, England on January 29, 1778. In addition to keeping mites off your cheese, she includes recipes for Mock Turtle (Calves head) soup, Onion Soop [sic] and raspberry vinegar “for those who want a pleasant cooler” in the summer. Remedies like Teeth Water, Poison for Rats & Mice, and Diuretic Balls for Horses are included too. Her handwritten notebook was acquired by Special Collections this summer. Learn more in our online catalog or by visiting Special Collections.

Weldon001

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Good Things to Eat! A new exhibition at the Davis Family Library

Good Things to Eat: Recipes and Communities from 1827 to the Present

Guest curated by Emily Bogin ’16, FoodWorks Fellow

This new exhibit focuses on the ways in which food has, and continues to facilitate community, both at Middlebury and beyond. Items on display are drawn from Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives, the Stewart-Swift Research Center at the Sheldon Museum, and Middlebury College Dining Services.

Join Emily Bogin for an exhibition talk Friday August 1, 2014, in the Library atrium. The talk will begin shortly after 11:00am.

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A little look at Middlebury’s dwarf-sized books

We’ve been talking a lot about little things in the College’s Special Collections & Archives as we pay extra attention to pocket-sized books in our midst. Our smallest book (so far) is a 2 inch tall History of the Bible, published in Cooperstown, New York, in 1836 (pictured below).  The general definition of a miniature book is anything under 3 inches. We’re assembling miniature books up to 5 inches, since we’ve found big books and tiny books don’t play nicely on the shelves together and can cause damage to each another over time. You can learn more about miniature books here or visit us and ask to see our mini books yourself.

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Thanks to our hand-model, Joseph Watson, Preservation Manager and Special Collections and Archives .