This post is written by Megan Barrett, a long time student employee in the Digital Library Center in Special Collections & Archives. We’ll be sorry to see her graduate this spring but we know she’s off to big things!
I am currently a senior studying Art History, and I’ve had the opportunity to work as a Special Collections & Archives assistant for the past three years. I’ve helped with a number of fascinating projects, with topics ranging from Napoleonic newspapers to environmental studies, and this semester, I got to spend some time with the collection of John MacKay Shaw.
One of the books I worked with for this project was a poetry collection entitled The Poetical Star, published in London in 1843. The collection begins with an epigraph by the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne: “I have here only made a nosegay of culled flowers, and have brought nothing of my own but the thread that binds them.”
As a student interested in Romanticism, one of the poems in the collection that caught my eye was the “Description of a Mad-House” from Lord Byron’s The Lament of Tasso. The poem narrates the time that the Italian poet Torquato Tasso spent in a mental hospital, and it has become the subject of one of my favorite paintings by Eugène Delacroix, Tasso in the Madhouse (1839). The Poetical Star also includes poetry on abstract ideas of love and time, as well as comedic poetry and wordplay.
Editor’s Note: This post was written by Celita Summa who was our Shaw expert this semester as she shifted through his personal papers to select for a digitization project. She’s going abroad in the spring and we’ll miss her. Bon Voyage Celita!
While sifting through the Shaw manuscript collection, I discovered that many of Shaw’s collecting practices were driven by nostalgia and the important human connections formed during childhood. Although his manuscript collection is vast, both in scope and length (it measures over 46 linear feet in length), Shaw was clearly incentivized to collect in order to preserve the things he held most dear- friends, family, and childhood memories.
One of the objects in the collection is a small pocket calendar used by the 14-year-old Shaw to record his immigration to America. In the margins, he indicated his family’s last day in Scotland, their voyage at sea, and their first day in America. He noted that his devoutly Presbyterian family did not fail to miss Sunday service their first weekend in America. The inclusion of this object represents Shaw’s own passage from his Scottish childhood to American manhood, as he would begin employment shortly after settling down in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Shaw indicates another motivator for the collection as he attempts to preserve memories that will forever remain in his childhood years. Throughout the collection, correspondence with some of his childhood best friends is featured heavily. There is a map of Shaw and Jimmy Macaulay’s childhood stomping grounds, mock newsletters the two drew up for each other, and even one of Macaulay’s commonplace books. I wondered what the reason for this might be, until I stumbled across wartime letters between the two long-time friends, along with a notice of Macaulay’s death.
Both men served in World War I, and Jimmy was not Shaw’s only loss due to the war. Another friend, Alfred Hendricks, was in frequent correspondence with Shaw. One day Shaw’s letter was returned unanswered, in an envelope marked “deceased.” Shaw’s inclusion of Macaulay and Hendricks in the collection depicts the unbreakable bond forged between childhood friends.
Another aspect that drove Shaw’s manuscript collection was his own children. In fact, his kids were the very catalyst for the book collection and his own published works of poetry. In the manuscript collection, he includes his own children’s poems along with those he wrote specifically for them. By creating the “Childhood in Poetry” collection, Shaw preserved the themes he valued the most in his life, from friendship and fatherhood to memories of his childhood home and relatives.
Hi! I’m Celita and I’m a senior studying Editing, Writing, and Media here at FSU. I’ve spent the past couple of months interning for Special Collections & Archives and beginning to dig into the collection of Scotsman John MacKay Shaw.
Shaw’s twofold collection, in addition to including his own works and memorabilia, also includes the works of other writers. To add to his personal collection of poetry, Shaw took to browsing secondhand bookstores, perusing their shelves for books to include in his “Childhood in Poetry” collection. While selecting a batch of these books for digitization, I gained an insight into Shaw’s collection practices and the implications of some of these artifacts in reflecting and shaping society.
Many of Shaw’s books are extremely rare or first edition books, and some are not recorded in any source. One of these is “The Lioness’s Ball,” believed to be the unrecorded sequel to another work entitled “The Butterfly’s Ball.” The 1807 book features six hand-colored plates produced by William Mulready, an Irish-born artist who worked out of London. “The Lioness’s Ball” is among the children’s books he illustrated, and his other artworks are displayed in prominent places like the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Tate Gallery, and Dublin’s National Gallery. One work is even in the possession of the royal family. The plates in “The Lioness’s Ball” feature vivid color images with a great deal of texture and depth. The frontispiece, which depicts the animals gathering, is shown below–
In addition to some astounding images and engravings throughout the collection, Shaw’s collection of secondhand books reveals the familial and religious significance of poetry. Three of the items I found contained family crests inside the front cover. Several others included dedications (some personal and some religious), orphanage stamps, and other inscriptions.
To me, these artifacts highlighted the importance of books as social tools for spreading religious, moral, and educational values. Oftentimes, books were gifted by family members, organizations, or religious figures, with the primary purpose of serving as a teaching tool. Below is the author, Reverend Grant’s, dedication to a Miss Minshull, which faces her family crest on the inside cover.
Inscriptions, advertisements, marks by booksellers, and dedications make the social significance of poetry books clear. Not only were these books read, but they were also circulated, whether it be as a gift, a prize, a donation, or something else. Preserved by some and marked by others, the books I selected to show how texts develop alongside people, creating a childhood through poetry.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.