This post is part of our series celebrating American Archives Month. Last week, Special Collections & Archives did a Twitter Takeover of the @fsulibraries feed for #AskAnArchivist day so be sure to check out those conversations.
The Digital Library Center has been busy loading material into DigiNole, and one of the most recent additions is the Girl’s Own Paper. Written for young girls and women and published in the United Kingdom from 1880 to the 1950s, the primary content of these papers consist of educational articles, fashion advice editorials, poetry, and fictional stories.
Though hundreds of years old, much of the content found in this collection is still relevant today. The theory and instructional methods for learning guitar, for example, haven’t changed much after all these years. Each issue also includes beautiful illustrations to accompany the textual content as seen in the lesson below.
Several volumes have already been added to DigiNole and more will be uploaded until the collection is complete. The existing issues of Girl’s Own Annual and Girl’s Own Paper can be found here.
We are working hard to get the entire collection uploaded for users to access and are still early in the process of digitizing this set of material. To reduce the strain on our internal storage servers, this collection is being digitized at about 4 volumes per batch. Once a batch is successfully uploaded, we purge those images from our servers to make room for new images and we then start working on the next set of volumes.
We’ve got a long way to go, so check back often to see what new material we’re adding to this charming collection!
FSU’s John M. Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection is vast and covers myriad topics. While most are books intended for children, or books containing poetry, or both, in many cases the texts deviate from the collection’s title altogether.
Such is the case with The Green Knight: A Vision. In a catalog search for children’s books about knights, I stumbled upon a work that, with a little research, unraveled into a fascinating story about powerful men meeting in the woods in secret. The book is tan with a white spine and a gold medallion on the front cover depicting two knights astride their horses in the middle of a joust.
The Naked Man
The first sign that the text might not be intended for children was this strange photograph, labeled “NEOTIOS.”
It is a naked man, from a distance. Though the photograph is pasted into a position clearly made for it – the name of the photograph and artist are printed in the space below the paste-in spot – it is a strange sight opposite the elaborate title page, with its wood-block border and inclusion of green ink.
It is on this frontispiece that The Green Knight’s origin is identified: “PRIVATELY PRINTED FOR THE BOHEMIAN CLUB BY SOME OF ITS MEMBERS / SAN FRANCISCO: MCMXI.” The border incorporates the primary values of the Bohemian ideal in the four great arts: Music, Literature, Painting, and Sculpture. Nature and Bohemia are at the top, and Care, the personified troubles and worries of the world, is at the bottom and depicted as a skull. (The Bohemian Club famously burns Care in effigy at a secret ceremony during their time at the Bohemian Grove.)
The Bohemian Club is a private club (still active) founded in 1872 in San Francisco. The club began in order to gather together creatives in a sort of “salon” setting, but eventually included influential businessmen and politicians who considered themselves art aficionados. It is perhaps more accurate to say that they were aficionados in so far as they had the resources and leisure to enjoy and own art at a level beyond that of the everyman. The club’s motto is “Weaving spiders come not here,” meant to indicate that the wheeling and dealing of business should be left outside the walls of the club, where the conversation should turn to loftier things like art, music, and literature. However, it is undeniably a community of movers and shakers, and membership rosters read like a who’s-who of the era.
“Oscar Wilde, upon visiting the club in 1882, is reported to have said “I never saw so many well-dressed, well-fed, business-looking Bohemians in my life.” (Wikipedia)
Each summer, the Bohemian Club gathers in a second location outside of the city, among the redwoods of Monte Rio, California in what came to be called The Bohemian Grove. Here, global leaders purportedly “rough it” in the woods, but from accounts, it seems that the modern concept of “glamping” (glamorous camping) is a more appropriate description.
During the final weekend of a three-week stay in the Bohemian Grove, an elaborate play is performed: the Grove Play. It is written and staged entirely by club members. The Green Knight: A Vision is one of these plays, performed only once in the forest of the Bohemian Grove and recorded in this book that was meant only for the eyes of its members. The picture of the naked man is a character in the play, Neotios, whose proposed costume is depicted in the book.
Grove Plays always incorporate a musical component, and The Green Knight includes the composed music, which is primarily instrumental and meant to break up the sections of speech. There are a few chanted portions, highlighting the ritualesque nature of the performance.
The book includes an introduction by the “sire” (author) Porter Garnett, the play text, costume designs, music, and a fold-out map of the natural stage: a hillside faced by log benches for the spectators. It is this hillside that is depicted in the photograph of Neotios. The Bohemian Grove performances aspired to a level of artistic excellence that was unsurpassed outside of the private gatherings. Porter Garnett argued that “a certain number of the audience – by reason of their possession or their apprehension of it – feel that they are participants in a rite, not spectators at an entertainment” (The Bohemian Jinks ix).
Robert Burns’ ability to spontaneously produce musical and poignant verse earned him the title of “Scotland’s Bard,” and ensured that his legacy would remain especially close to that nation’s people and their descendants. Special Collections & Archives’ forthcoming exhibit, “In his ‘Great Shadow’: Robert Burns’ Legacy,” opening January 22nd, explores not only the lyrical finesse that led to our remembrance of him, but especially how he is remembered.
Items created by Burns Clubs for memorial celebrations evince the long history of social responses to Burns’ greatness; drawing on the Scottish and John McKay Shaw Collections at FSU’s Special Collections & Archives, the exhibit especially highlights the tradition of Burns Suppers, which are still celebrated around the world. Like memorial celebrations, poetic homages to Burns began almost at the moment of his death. This exhibit explores these poetic echoes, from Sir Walter Scott to current Scottish poet laureate Jackie Kay. Experience firsthand the social and poetic legacies of Burns — what Keats called “his Great Shadow” — through beautiful historical items in our collections.
The exhibit is holding a soft opening starting January 22, 2018, and then will be open through the Spring semester in the Exhibit Room in Strozier Library, Monday-Thursday, 10am to 6pm and Friday 10am to 5:30pm.
All of us here in Special Collections & Archives wish you and your family a safe and wonderful holiday season!
We have a series of children’s books in the Shaw collection that was published especially for children at the holidays in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This cover comes from one of our favorites which includes one of the most famous Christmas poems, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”
Our hours are a bit different over the next few weeks so here are our altered hours through January 8, 2018:
We’ll be open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, December 18 and 19, 2017.
We’ll be available by appointment on Wednesday and Thursday, December 20 and 21, 2017. To schedule an appointment, email email@example.com or call (850) 644-3271.
We’ll be closed starting Friday, December 22, 2017 until Tuesday, January 2, 2018
We’ll be open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. starting Tuesday, January 2, 2018 through Friday, January 5, 2018.
we’ll resume our normal operating hours on Monday, January 8, 2018
A selection of hand-colored children’s books from the nineteenth century are available for viewing on DigiNole as part of the John MacKay Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection. This project began as a partnership between the Rare Books Librarian and the Digital Archivist as a way to share some of the collection’s unique pieces. Because the illustrations are hand colored using watercolors, no two editions of a book will be exactly alike.
Describing the life of a beehive, this 1833 chapbook is a mixture of science lesson, allegory, and children’s story. The industrious bees serving their queen must defend the colony against the vicious wasp attacks — but there’s a surprise twist at the end.
This primer, like many others in this project, would have been used to introduce children to the alphabet using common words and pictures. Unlike our modern examples — A is for apple, B is for bear, and Z is for zebra — A Was an Archer uses such gems as, “K was a king, and governed a mouse,” and “V was a vintner, a very great sot.” A particularly interesting feature of the book is its interactivity; a moveable piece accompanies each illustration, connected to a paper tab on the back of the page. Readers could manipulate the pictures with these tabs to make a character wave or doff his hat. Sadly, most of the moveable pieces have been glued down by a previous owner.
A classic fairy tale about the benefits of a virtuous life, this book avoids the grisly endings faced by other heroes (like Little Red Riding Hood, Tom Thumb, the Children in the Wood, or — spoiler alert — the bees from the top of this list). Though the coloring is simple, the poetic rhyme and magical elements would have encouraged children to act with kindness, obedience, and modesty. This chapbook is one of eight hand colored Albany edition stories in the Shaw Collection.
This book was published in 1950 but made its way into this digitization project due to its exquisitely detailed hand coloring. The Smiling Book is printed on crepe paper, giving it a unique texture and flexibility not seen in many other books. While the book does not follow a particular narrative storyline, the illustrations explore nature, weather, and humanity.
A total of 68 books have been added to the digital collection.
The Digital Library Center is currently digitizing a number of hand-colored chapbooks from the John MacKay Shaw Collection. Chapbooks derive their name from the chapmen who sold them. Peddlers and tradesmen would offer small, cheap books among their wares, often accounts of fairy tales or current political events, lessons in language and song, or engaging stories. Many of the chapbooks in the Shaw Collection cater to a younger crowd; these examples of 19th century juvenile literature would have been popular among the middle and lower classes. The hand-colored illustrations would have increased the price of the simple text by offering a richer, more attractive set of pictures to accompany the story.
The comic adventures of Old Mother Hubbard, and her dog by Sarah Catherine Martin provides an excellent example of hand coloring in a chapbook. Most of us know the rhyme about the woman who went to the cupboard to find her poor dog a bone, but that’s not quite the whole story. First published in 1805, the nursery rhyme follows the increasingly outlandish behavior of the dog, who teaches himself to read, play the flute, dance a jig, and ride a goat. This 1819 version is one of many chapbooks that anthropomorphized animals to tell an amusing story. Unlike other fairy tales, this story doesn’t offer an obvious moral lesson, relying upon the antics of the dog to simply entertain, rather than instruct. Sadly, the tale of Old Mother Hubbard and her comical dog ends on a somber note – the final illustration depicts Hubbard weeping over the grave of her now-deceased pup. Though not exactly a happy ending, this chapbook represents an interesting time in publishing, storytelling, and the consumption habits of the masses. The full text will soon be available on DigiNole.
FSU Special Collections & Archives is pleased to add a new chapbook to the John MacKay Shaw Collection of Childhood in Poetry. The History of the House That Jack Built is a popular nursery rhyme told as a cumulative narrative. Starting with “This is the House that Jack built,” each verse adds on to the previous one, creating a delightfully nonsensical, rhyming story. This edition was printed in 1841 by Gustav S. Peters, a notable printer of broadsides who often catered to the German-speaking population of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and its environs. While many cheaply printed books of the time were colored by hand, if at all, Peters was one of the first printers in America to make color printing commercially viable (even if, as seen above, his colored printing blocks didn’t always register perfectly). This edition printed by Peters is one of several versions of The House That Jack Built that can be found in the Shaw Collection.
Although Paul Laurence Dunbar was only 33 years old when he died of tuberculosis on February 9, 1906, he left behind a lasting legacy of poems, short stories, and novels. The eldest son of former Kentucky slaves, Dunbar published his first poems in his hometown newspaper at the age of sixteen. His first collection of poetry, Oak and Ivy, was published in 1893. While much of his poetry was written in traditional English verse, Dunbar achieved widespread popularity for writing in African American vernacular dialect. Several volumes of Dunbar’s poetry like Poems of Cabin and Field(1899), Candle-Lightin’ Time(1901), When Malindy Sings(1903), and Li’l’ Gal(1904), shown here, featured full-page, black-and-white photographs taken by the Hampton Institute Camera Club, with whom Dunbar frequently collaborated to illustrate his verse. The hundreds of photographs in these books have significant cultural value as representations of rural African American life at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Several volumes of Dunbar’s poetry are included in the John MacKay Shaw Collection of Childhood in Poetry. In his short life, Dunbar spoke with passion, humor, and elegance of the human experience, inspiring later writers such as Maya Angelou, who titled her autobiography after lines from Dunbar’s poem Sympathy:
I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
One of our long-time volunteers, Cathmar Shaw Prange, was unable to come visit this winter and we’re missing her but she did send us a blog post! Cathmar has helped us curate her father’s collection for many years.
Years ago, on one of my visits to the art world of Santa Fe, Richard Maitland greeted me in his studio as an old friend. His painting, “After the Carnival,” hung on the wall. I gasped! It struck me like a bolt of lightning, reawakening an experience I’d had as an eight-year-old and evoking the last lines of John MacKay Shaw’s “Circus Roundels.”
The poet was my father. Mother was moving us into our new home in New Jersey. So he took us across the Hudson to the circus at New York’s Madison Square Garden to keep us out of her hair.
The painting, like the poem, reflects the longing we feel when a joyous event has ended. I would like this poem even better these days had he written it in shorter lines, but I can accept his admiration for Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter.
“Circus Roundels” appears on page 19 of John MacKay Shaw’s second book of poems, Zumpin’. It was published by The Friends of The Florida State University Library in 1969. “Read us zumpin’, Daddy!” we cried every night as he came in the door after work. And soon we were sitting on his lap listening, reciting and singing again.
The Friends published his first book of poems for children in 1967 titled The Things I Want.