Recently, thanks to a tip from the friend of a friend we purchased some antique stereoscope views of Middlebury College and the Town of Middlebury in an online auction. (Shout out to the friend of Prof. Kevin Moss!)
Stereoscope cards hold two identical photographs, mounted side by side and slightly offset. When they’re viewed through a stereoscope viewer, a three dimensional image emerges.
A state of the art and thrilling parlor entertainment throughout the late nineteenth century, these rare images don’t need to be viewed in stereo to be appreciated online today.
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.)
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.
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!
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!
Episode two, A Green Mountain Mixtapeexplores 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.
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.”
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
Whatever it is that brings you to our door—poetry, history, chemistry, or a hankering to smell a centuries old book for yourself—just come. We have lots of bags left and they make memorable graduation gifts. (Totes are $5, while they last).
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!