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Friday, June 24, 2016

Freedom Train Exhibit on Track at the Rosenbach!

Our newest exhibit, Freedom Train 1947-1949: Exhibiting America's Past to Shape America's Future,  opens next Friday, July 1, and the collections staff has been hard at work on installation. The Freedom Train was a massive traveling exhibition of  over 125 American historical documents, housed in a specially designed train, that crossed the country from September 1947 to January 1949, visiting all 48 states and attracting attendance of 3.5 million visitors. The idea for the train came out of the Justice Department, although they eventually turned to private supporters and created the non-profit American Heritage Foundation to actually run the project. (Some readers may also remember a second Freedom Train that traveled the country for the 1976 Bicentennial with a mixture of historic documents and artifacts.)

Photograph of Freedom Train
  Photograph of Freedom Train. National Archives and Records Administration.

The documents on board the original Freedom Train ranged from the Bay Psalm Book to Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence to the German and Japanese surrender documents from World War II. Philip and Dr. R. were lenders to the train and Dr. R also served on the Document Advisory Committee that helped decide what should be included in the exhibit. Our exhibit will include sixteen of the Freedom Train documents; five are the exact copies that traveled on the train, others are the same book, but not exactly the actual copy that traveled (for example, we are displaying the Free Library's copy of Mourt's Relation, instead of the Library of Congress copy). We have also created an interactive that digitally reunites all 125+ documents.

Photograph of Freedom Train Exhibit
 Photograph of Freedom Train exhibit. National Archives and Records Administration.

The Freedom Train itself debuted in Philadelphia on September 17, 1947, Constitution Day, before beginning its 37,000 mile journey around the country.

Winthrop W. Aldrich, telegram to A.S.W. Rosenbach inviting him to a preview of the Freedom Train. 8 September 1947. RCo I:013:02. Collection of the Rosenbach.

The train was accompanied by a massive citizenship education campaign organized around the slogan "Freedom is Everybody's Job." This rededication campaign reached one out of every three Americans by utilizing every venue from newspapers to newsreels to Captain Marvel comics and Popeye cartoons. Here are Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters singing the Freedom Train theme song, which was written by Irving Berlin.

The Freedom Train has so many fascinating stories associated with it; the documents themselves are compelling, as is the debate over what should be included and what image the organizers strove to present of America as the nation emerged from decades of depression and war into a new Cold War world. There is also an important civil rights story: the question of whether the Freedom Train—an exhibit dedicated to freedom—would allow segregated visitation as it passed through areas that enforced segregation. Langston Hughes penned the protest poem “Freedom Train” that pointedly raised this question and we will be displaying  his manuscript of the poem in our exhibit, on loan from the John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library at Fisk University. Ultimately a policy of desegregated visitation was adopted and the African American community kept pressure on the organizers to follow through. Most cities proved willing to comply (although there were ongoing debates about what exactly constituted segregated or desegregated visitation) but stops were cancelled in Memphis and Birmingham when they refused to create desegregated viewing plans.

Desegregated line, Pine Bluff, Arkansas. National Archives and Records Administration.
Amid all the serious historical stories, one element of the Freedom Train that pleased our collection staff was the wonderful pictures of National Archives staff installing Freedom Train documents in  nice dresses and pearls. Around here, our installation attire usually tends more towards the t-shirt and jeans with a screwdriver sticking out of the back pocket. We decided to walk in our foremothers' footsteps and dress up a bit for this installation. I'll wrap up this post with a few then and now pictures:

Photograph of National Archives Personnel Working on Installation of Documents on the Freedom Train
Photograph of Ms. Hamer Installing Display Documents on the Freedom Train. National Archives and Records Administration.
Photograph of Ms. Zink, Rosenbach registrar, installing display documents at the Rosenbach.
Photograph of Ms. Haas, exhibition curator, cleaning plexiglas hood for an exhibit case at the Rosenbach.
Photograph of National Archives Employees Peggy Mangum and Florence Nichol Loading the Log of the Frigate Constitution onto the Freedom Train
Photograph of National Archives Employees Peggy Mangum and Florence Nichol Loading the Log of the Frigate Constitution onto the Freedom Train. National Archives and Records Administration.
Photograph of Rosenbach employees Judy Guston and Kathy Haas loading an exhibition hood into the gallery.

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster for the Rosen-blog.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Ulysses Throughout the House

Today is the day after Bloomsday, but I wanted to squeeze in a Bloomsday blog post anyway. (Technically,since the day described in the book ends after midnight, maybe June 17 could be grandfathered in a little?) This year we extended our Bloomsday festival into the historic house: facsimiles of passages from the manuscript were spread throughout the house, with each passage relating to objects in that space. Our inimitable librarian Elizabeth Fuller put together the passages and objects and I wanted to share a few of her wonderful pairings.

In "Telemachus" Buck Mulligan and Stephen Dedalus discuss the politics of literature. The statue comes from another Hellenized island, Cyprus.
Epi oinopa ponton. Ah, Dedalus, the Greeks. She is our great sweet mother.  Come and look.
    Stephen stood up and went over to the parapet.  Leaning on it he looked down on the water.
    — Our mighty mother! Buck Mulligan said.
    Drawing back and pointing, Stephen said with bitterness :
    — It is a symbol of Irish art.  The cracked lookingglass of a servant.
    Buck Mulligan suddenly linked his arm in Stephen’s and walked with him round the tower, his razor and mirror clacking in the pocket where he had thrust them.
    — It’s not fair to tease you like that, Kinch, is it? he said kindly.  God knows you have more spirit than any of them.
    Parried again.  He fears the lancet of my art as I fear that of his.
    — The cracked lookingglass of a servant!  Tell that to the oxy chap downstairs and touch him for a guinea.  He’s stinking with money and thinks you’re not a gentleman.  His old fellow made his tin by selling jalap to Zulus or some bloody swindle or other.  God, Kinch, if you and I could only work together we might do something for the island. Hellenise it.

In "Scylla & Charybdis" Stephen introduces his theory that Shakespeare’s plays are autobiographical.
— He will have it that Hamlet is a ghoststory, John Eglinton said for Mr Best’s behoof.  Like the fat boy in Pickwick he wants to make our flesh creep.
List! List! O list!
My flesh hears him ; creeping, hears.
If thou didst ever...
— What is a ghost?  Stephen said with tingling energy.  One who has faded into impalpability through death, through absence, through change of manners.  Elizabethan London lay as far from Stratford as corrupt Paris lies from virgin Dublin.  Who is the ghost, returning to the world that has forgotten him?  Who is king Hamlet?
John Eglinton shifted his spare body, leaning back to judge.
— It is this hour of a June day, Stephen said, begging with a swift glance their hearing.  The flag is up on the playhouse by the bankside.  The bear Sackerson growls in the pit near it, Paris garden.  Canvasclimbers who sailed with Drake chew their sausages among the groundlings.
Local colour.  Work in all you know.  Make them accomplices.
— Shakespeare has left the huguenot’s house in Silver street and walks by the swanmews along the riverbank.  But he does not stay to feed the pen chivying her brood towards the rushes.  The swan of Avon has other thoughts.
Composition of place.  Ignatius Loyola, make haste to help me!
— The play begins.  A player comes on under the shadow, clad in the castoff mail of a court buck, a wellset man with a bass voice.  It is the ghost, King Hamlet, and the player is Shakespeare.  He speaks the words to Burbage, the young player who stands before him, calling him by a name:
Hamlet, I am thy father's spirit,
bidding him list.  To a son he speaks, the son of his soul, the prince, young Hamlet and to the son of his body, Hamnet Shakespeare who has died in Stratford that his namesake may live for ever.
Is it possible that that player Shakespeare, a ghost by absence, and in the vesture of the elder Hamlet, a ghost by death, speaking his own words to his own son’s name (had Hamnet Shakespeare lived he would have been prince Hamlet’s twin) is it possible or probable I want to know, that he did not draw or foresee the logical conclusion of those premises?  I am the murdered father : you are the dispossesed son : your mother is the guilty queen, Ann Shakespeare, born Hathaway?
The first thing we learn about Bloom is what he likes to eat, though we soon learn that he has a wide range of interests and his thought processes make connections among them all. The entire "Lestrygonians" episode revolves around food. In the process of ordering a sandwich for lunch, Bloom thinks about advertising, his troubled marriage, dubious processed food, and his recently-buried (“potted”) acquaintance Paddy Dignam. 
—... Let me see.  I’ll take a glass of burgundy and let me see.
Sardines on the shelves.  Potted meats.  What is home without Plumtree’s potted meat?  Incomplete.  What a stupid ad!  Under the obituary notices too.  Dignam’s potted meat. … With it an abode of bliss.  Lord knows what concoction.
— Have you a cheese sandwich?
— Yes, sir.
Like a few olives too if they had them.  Good glass of burgundy take away that feeling.
— Wife well?
— Quite well, thanks ...  A cheese sandwich, then.  Gorgonzola, have you?
— Yes, sir.

Images: James Joyce, Ulysses: autograph manuscript, “Telemachus” episode, p. 4; "Scylla & Charybdis" episode; p. 4, and "Lestrygonians" episode p. 17. EL4. J89ul 922 MS; Male votary figure, Cypress, 300 B.C. 1954.1948; F.G. Fisher, model of Dairy Hill Farm. London, ca. 1830. 1954.2087.007. Photograph of Rosenbach dining room.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Drinking Tea with Muhammad Ali

As the world began to mourn the death of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali on Friday June 3, 2016, his spoken words were remembered as well as his punches. Modernist poet Marianne Moore is mentioned in The Slate article “'I Done Handcuffed Lightning': The Exuberant Spoken-Word Poetry of Muhammad Ali” for writing the liner notes for his album of spoken word poetry, I Am the Greatest.  I dug into our collection of Moore’s correspondence, to see what else I could find about their friendship. There is a lot of bob and weave, duck and evade,  shuffling, and finally, a connection.

Journalist George Plimpton, with whom Marianne Moore had a working relationship, is responsible for introducing the two poets. Writing to Moore on March 29, 1964 about an article on the boxer, then still known as Cassius Clay, Plimpton asked if she would like to meet Clay and offered to bring him for tea. On April 2, 1964 Moore responded, asking him to do so "when pressure abates." Two months later Plimpton explains that the plans for tea have not come together because Clay had been in Africa and he also cautioned Moore that he did not want the introduction to “appear ‘cute’ or forced.”

Plimpton and Moore continue to exchange letters over the next six months, discussing their current writing projects. Plimpton would routinely ask Moore, an admirer of sports and athleticism, to answer questions in essay form, providing opinions and perceptions about sports figures. Meeting Clay is brought up several more times, but “his people” provide vague schedules and make no promises of an appointment. On December 10, Plimpton mentions a conversation with the boxer in Boston, saying that he was enthusiastic and would call when he next came to New York. Moore responded eagerly, but nothing was arranged. Nor did they meet at the Patterson-Chuvalo fight at Madison Square Garden in January 1965, or in October 1965.

World Wide Photos. Cassius Clay and Marianne Moore at Toots Shor Restaurant. 1966.Moore XII:D:11.Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Marianne Moore and Cassius Clay did eventually meet at Toots Shor restaurant in Manhattan, though it appears that the boxer dined on beef stew while Miss Moore alone drank tea.  Together they (mostly Ali) wrote “A Poem on the Annihilation of Ernie Terrell.”  Although there are many other letters between Plimpton and Moore in our archives, we do not have any letters written immediately after their meeting in 1966. In July 1967 Plimpton refers to, “our 'tea' with Cassius Clay.” As was his routine, Plimpton asked Moore a series of questions, including what she had expected Clay to be like and what she thought of him as a poet.  While there is no mention of beef stew, Moore mentions, “For him to exhibit the shuffle indoors despite trying circumstances, I did admire."

As a tribute to Ali, a selection of these letters, and the photo of his Toots Shor "tea" with Marianne Moore, will be temporarily on display in the library partner desk, accessible via our hourly house tours.

Jobi Zink is the registrar at the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Graduation Gear

We have just passed through college graduation season, with its new graduates roaming the streets in caps and gowns. The Rosenbach actually has a fair amount of academic dress represented in our collections owing to degrees accumulated by our founder A.S.W. Rosenbach, and even more by Marianne Moore, so I thought I'd post a few.  I apologize in advance for the photo quality in this post--we don't have formal pictures of these items and I didn't have time to rephotograph them all, so I'm relying on snapshots taken during cataloging.

A.S.W. Rosenbach owes his sobriquet " the Doctor" or "Dr. R" to his 1901 Ph.D. from Penn. Here are the 1901 graduates processing down Broad Street. Dr. Rosenbach is at the very front of the line, near the lower right corner.

U. of Pa. graduating class--1901. 2006.2441. Collection of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

U. of Pa. graduating class--1901 (detail). 2006.2441. Collection of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

We do have a U.Penn doctoral hood from Dr. R, but it is edged with brown velvet, which indicates that it is from his 1927 honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree, rather than his earned Ph.D. (In accordance with an intercollegiate agreement, liberal arts hoods are edged in white, fine arts in brown).

University of Pennsylvania doctoral hood. 1927. 2002.0028.Collection of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Another of his honorary degrees came from the Jewish Theological Seminary, Amherst, in 1945 and we also have his hood from that event.

Jewish Theological Seminary hood. 1945. 2002.0026.Collection of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

But when it came to number of degrees, Dr. Rosenbach couldn't hold a candle to Marianne Moore. Here she is in academic dress during her first year at Bryn Mawr (from which she graduated in 1909).

Portrait of Marianne Moore. Philadelphia, Broadbent Brothers, November 1905Moore XII:02:31a.Collection of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Beyond her earned bachelor's degree, Moore would accumulate sixteen honorary degrees--her friend Elizabeth Bishop recalled that "she once modeled her favorite academic hoods for me." The first to honor her was Wilson College, which gave her a Litt.D. in 1949.

Wilson College doctoral hood. Cotrell and Leonard. 1949. 2006.2513.Collection of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Among her many other honorary degrees were Dickinson (1952)

Dickinson College doctoral hood. Bentley & Simon Inc. 1952. 2006.2537.Collection of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

 Washington University in St Louis (1967)

Washington University in St. Louis doctoral hood. Collegiate Cap & Gown Co. 1967. 2006.2517.Collection of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
and Princeton in 1968
Princeton University doctoral hood. Cotrell and Leonard. 1968. 2006.2538.Collection of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
We also have one doctoral robe for her, which we think is probably from NYU in  1967, when she was awarded the Doctor of Letters degree.

NYU (?) doctoral robe. Bentley & Simon  Inc. 1967. 2006.2535.Collection of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster for the Rosen-blog.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Dracula Debut

As the lead story in's "Today in History" page points out, today is the anniversary of the publication of Dracula. Simone Berni's Dracula By Bram Stoker: The Mystery of the Early Editions notes that "There are several sources (mainly letters and memoirs) that report contradictory information regarding the first day Stoker's novel was available to the public.  The most likely dates, besides 26 May, are: 24 May,  30 May, 2 June, and 24 June, although 26 May is now generally accepted as the publication date."

Dracula was published in 1897 and while a 199th anniversary may not be a nice round number, I figured if it was good enough to be the headline, it's good enough for me. It's also a testament to the staying power that this book, and the vampiric character it created, have in our history and popular culture.

Bram Stoker, Dracula. Westminster: Archibald Constable & Co., 1897.
EL3 .S874d 897 copy 1

In addition to Stoker's working notes for the novel, the Rosenbach has two copies of the first edition, one inscribed to  Lord Tennyson, son of the famous poet, and another which retains its original dustjacket, the sole known surviving example.

Dust jacket for Bram Stoker, Dracula. Westminster: Archibald Constable & Co., 1897.
EL3 .S874d 897 copy 1

Whenever I give a tour about Dracula, I'm asked how it was received when it first came out, so I'd thought I'd reprint a few contemporary reviews in this blog post. It got generally good reviews as a horror story, although some reviewers thought it was deficient in some literary aspects and I suspect all of them would be surprised to learn that it is still in print over a century later.

One of the things that also fascinates me with the reviews is that many reviews latch on to one of the key aspects of the novel--that it brings a character inspired by folklore/superstition into an overtly modern setting--but they disagree on whether this is a good thing or a bad one. (You can find more reviews at Vampire Over London)

The Daily Mail (July 1, 1897)
It is said of Mrs. Radcliffe that when writing her now almost forgotten romances she shut herself up in absolute seclusion, and fed upon raw beef, in order to give her work the desired atmosphere of gloom, tragedy and terror. If one had no assurance to the contrary one might well suppose that a similar method and regimen had been adopted by Mr. Bram Stoker while writing his new novel “Dracula.” In seeking for a parallel to this weird, powerful, and horrorful story our mind reverts to such tales as “The Mysteries of Udolpho,” “Frankenstein,” “Wuthering Heights,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” and “Marjery of Quether.” But “Dracula” is even more appalling in its gloomy fascination than any one of these.

We started reading it early in the evening, and followed Jonathan Harker on his mission to the Carpathians with no definite conjecture as to what waited us in the castle of Dracula. When we came to the night journey over the mountain road and were chased by the wolves, which the driver, with apparently miraculous power, repelled by a mere gesture, we began to scent mystery, but we were not perturbed. The first thrill of horrible sensation came with the discovery that the driver and the Count Dracula were one and the same person, that the count was the only human inhabitant of the castle, and that the rats, the bats, the ghosts, and the howling wolves were his familiars.

By ten o’clock the story had so fastened itself upon our attention that we could not pause even to light our pipe. At midnight the narrative had fairly got upon our nerves; a creepy terror had seized upon us, and when at length, in the early hours of the morning, we went upstairs to bed it was with the anticipation of nightmare. We listened anxiously for the sound of bats’ wings against the window; we even felt at our throat in dread least an actual vampire should have left there the two ghastly punctures which in Mr Stoker’s book attested to the hellish operations of Dracula.

The recollections of this weird and ghostly tale will doubtless haunt us for some time to come. It would be unfair to the author to divulge the plot. We therefore restrict ourselves to the statement that the eerie chapters are written and strung together with very considerable art and cunning, and also with unmistakable literary power. Tribute must also be paid to the rich imagination of which Mr. Bram Stoker here gives liberal evidence. Persons of small courage and weak nerves should confine their reading of these gruesome pages strictly to the hours between dawn and sunset.

The Spactator (July 31, 1897)
Mr Bram Stoker gives us the impression — we may be doing him an injustice —of having deliberately laid himself out in Dracula to eclipse all previous efforts in the domain of the
horrible — to ‘go one better’ than Wilkie Collins (whose method of narration he has closely followed), Sheridan Le Fanu, and all the other professors of the flesh-creeping school.

Count Dracula, who gives his name to the book, is a Transylvanian noble who purchases an estate in England, and in connection with the transfer of the property Jonathan Harker, a young solicitor,
visits him in his ancestral castle. Jonathan Harker has a terrible time of it, for the Count — who is a vampire of immense age, cunning and experience — keeps him as a prisoner for
several weeks, and when the poor young man escapes from the gruesome charnel-house of his host, he nearly dies of brain-fever in a hospital at Budapest.

The scene then shifts to England, where the Count arrives by sea in the shape of a dog-fiend, after destroying the entire crew, and resumes operations in various uncanny manifestations, selecting
as his chief victim Miss Lucy Westenra, the fiancée of the Honourable Artur Holmwood, heir presumptive to Lord Godalming. The story then resolves itself into the history of the battle
between Lucy’s protectors, including two rejected suitors — an American and a ‘mad’ doctor —and a wonderfully clever specialist from Amsterdam, against her unearthly persecutor. The clue is furnished by Jonathan Harker, whose betrothed, Mina Murray, is a bosom friend of Lucy’s, and the fight is long and protracted.

Lucy succumbs, and, worse still, is temporarily converted into a vampire. How she is released from this unpleasant position and restored to a peaceful post-mortem existence, how Mina is next
assailed by the Count, how he is driven from England, and finally exterminated by the efforts of the league — for all these and a great many more thrilling details, we must refer our readers
to the pages of Mr Stoker’s clever but cadaverous romance. Its strength lies in the invention of incident, for the sentimental element is decidedly mawkish. Mr Stoker has shown considerable
ability in the use that he has made of all the available traditions of vampirology, but we think his story would have been all the more effective if he had chosen an earlier period. The
up-to-dateness of the book — the phonograph diaries, typewriters and so on — hardly fits in with the mediaeval methods which ultimately secure the victory for Count Dracula’s

The Athenaeum (June 26, 1897)

Stories and novels appear just now in plenty stamped with a more or less genuine air of belief in the visibility of supernatural agency. The strengthening of a bygone faith in the fantastic and magical view of things in lieu of the purely material is a feature of the hour, a reaction – artificial, perhaps, rather than natural – against late tendencies in thought. Mr. Stoker is a purveyor of so many strange wares that ‘Dracula’ reads like a determined effort to go, as it were, “one better” than others in the same field. How far the author is himself a believer in the phenomena described is not for the reviewer to say. He can but attempt to gauge how far the general faith in witches, warlocks and vampires – supposing it to exist in any general and appreciable measure – is likely to be stimulated by this story. The vampire idea is very ancient indeed, and there are in nature, no doubt, mysterious powers to account for the vague belief in such things. Mr. Stoker’s way of presenting the matter, and still more the matter itself, are of too direct and uncompromising a kind. They lack the essential note of awful remoteness and at the same time subtle affinity that separates while it links our humanity with the unknown beings and possibilities hovering on the confines of the known world. ‘Dracula’ is highly sensational, but it is wanting in the constructive art as well as in the higher literary sense. It reads at times like a mere series of grotesquely incredible events; but there are better moments that show more power, though even these are never productive of the tremor such subjects evoke under the hand of a master. An immense amount of energy, a certain degree of imaginative faculty, and many ingenious and gruesome details are there. At times Mr. Stoker almost succeeds in creating the sense of possibility in impossibility; at others he merely commands an array of crude statements of incredible actions. The early part goes best, for it promises to unfold the roots of mystery and fear lying deep in human nature; but the want of skill and fancy grows more and more conspicuous. The people who band themselves together to run the vampire to earth have no real individuality or being. The German man of science is particularly poor, and indulges, like a German, in much weak sentiment. Still, Mr. Stoker has got together a number of “horrid details,” and his object, assuming it to be ghastliness, is fairly well fulfilled. Isolated scenes and touches are probably quite uncanny enough to please those for whom they are designed.

Hampshire Advertiser (June 5, 1897)

DRACULA, by Bram Stoker, and published by Constable and Co., 2, Whitehall-gardens, is a series of extremely interesting papers and diaries, arranged in sequence by the author. One of the most curious and striking of recent productions is a revival of a mediaeval superstition, the old legend of the “were-wolf,” as illustrated and modernised by Mr. Bram Stoker, in the book which he entitles “Dracula.” There are two things which are remarkable in the novel – the first is the confident reliance on superstition as furnishing the groundwork of a modern story; and the second, more significant still, is the bold adaptation of the legend to such ordinary spheres of latter-day existance as the harbour of Whitby and Hampstead-heath. “Dracula,” at all events, is one of the most weird and spirit-quelling romances which have appeared for years. It begins in masterly fashion in the wids of Transylvania, and introduces to us an ordinary solicitor’s clerk, engaged on a mission to a Count who lives in its most remote fastness.

Stoker's Obituaries 
It is also interesting to look at Stoker's obituaries. Both the New York Times and the Times of London focus on his relationship with the famous actor Henry Irving, whose theater company Stoker managed, and then address his writings at the end.  Neither one thought that Dracula would be his most important or long-lasting work.

The New York Times ( April 23, 1912 excerpt)
His best-known publication is "Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving," issued in 1908. Among his other works, mostly fantastic fiction, are " Under the Sunset," "The Snake's Pass," "The Watter's Mou," "The Shoulder of Shasta," "Dracula," "The Mystery of the Sea," "The Jewel of the Seven Stars," and "The Lady of the  Shroud."

The Times (April 22, 1912, excerpt)
"A fluent and flamboyant writer, with a manner and mannerisms which faithfully reflected the mind which moved the pen, Stoker managed to find  time,  amid  much  arduous  and  distracting  work,  to  write  a  good  deal.  He  was  the  master  of  a  particularly  lurid  and  creepy  kind  of  fiction,  represented  by  “Dracula”  and  other  novels;  he  had  also  essayed  musical comedy, and had of late years resumed his old connexion with journalism.But his chief literary memorial will be his Reminiscences of Henry Irving, a book which with all its extravagances and shortcomings--Mr. Stoker was no very acute critic of his chief as an actor--cannot but remain a valuable record of the workings of genius as they appeared to his devoted associate and admirer."

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster for the Rosen-blog.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Unpublishable Memoirs

Dr. Rosenbach became famous for selling the best books at the highest prices, but how does one amass a great collection when one doesn't have the money to play the game? The clever but unscrupulous protagonist of Dr. R's first book,The Unpublishable Memoirs, has a simple solution: clever cons and sly stealing.

The Unpublishable Memoirs is not a personal memoir, but a work of fiction. It consists of eleven mystery stories about Robert Hooker, a bibliophile who is tired of being snubbed for his lack of cash and so wreaks his revenge by snookering the rich out of their rare books and art.

Oliver Herford, "Bibliofiends." pencil and ink. ca. 1917. 1954.660. Collection of the Rosenbach.
The image shown above is the original drawing for the frontispiece of the book. Entitled "Bibliofiends," it was executed by Oliver Herford and the second figure on the staircase was apparently supposed to represent Dr. R.

A.S.W. Rosenbach, Unpublishable memoirs. New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1917. Ro1 917u copy 4. Collection of the Rosenbach.
I don't want to give away too much of the plot, since that would ruin the fun, but suffice it to say that the tales include cleverly constructed forgeries, fake customs officials, a story based on the Murders in the Rue Morgue and a host of other fascinating twists. The book  is well out of copyright now, so you can read it or download it at Internet Archive and many other sites to enjoy it for yourself.

The Unpublishable Memoirs was published in 1917 and Dr. Rosenbach sent gratis copies to his friends, clients, and collectors. Henry Huntington noted “it will be a pleasure to add it to the Library,” but another friend, Walter Hart Blumenthal, responded less kindly with a page of typographical errata. A London edition came out in 1924, and in 1925, more surprisingly, there was a version in Czech, which only printed the first of the eleven stories.

A.S.W. Rosenbach, Neueřejnitelné memoáry Unpublishable memoirs. Prague: Method Kaláb, 1925. Ro1 925. Collection of the Rosenbach.

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster for the Rosen-blog.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Mexican War

One of the exhibition ideas we've considered here is "Wars You Forgot" and I suspect for many of us north-easterners, myself included, the Mexican War is not one we spend much time thinking about. But today marks the 170th anniversary of the U.S.'s declaration of war on Mexico; Congress voted to approve the war on May 13, 1846.

The basic issue in the war was territorial disputes in the southwest. In 1845 the U.S. had annexed Texas, whose independence Mexico had never recognized, there were disputes over the United State's southern boundary line, and Mexico had also rejected expansionist President Polk's requests to purchase California and New Mexico. Fighting lasted for two years until the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on February 2, 1848. In the treaty the U.S. southern border was fixed at the Rio Grande and Mexico agreed to sell all its possessions above that line.

"UnitedStatesExpansion." National Atlas of the United States. From Wikimedia.

One of the Mexican War items in our collection is a letter written in 1847 by the young soldier Abner Perrin en route to Vera Cruz, Mexico.  A later biographical sketch shown below (written in 1887, after the had served as a Brigadier General for the Confederacy) claims that:
When only sixteen years old, contrary to the desire and remonstrances of his Father and Mother and influenced with patriotic ardor and a love of arms, he volunteered in Captain Preston S. Brook's company of the Palmetto Regiment, commanded by Colonel Pierce Butler; and during the Mexican War, participated in the services and the valorous achievements of that gallant regiment.

Charles C. Jones, "Brig Gen Abner Perrin CSA." Augusta, Ga.: 30 June 1887. AMs 1187/8. Collection of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
You can find out more about the Palmetto Regiment's participation in some of the major battles of the War at the South Carolina Information Highway.  [For those Rosen-fans for whom the name Pierce Butler rings a bell, the Pierce Butler who led the Palmetto Regiment (and died at the Battle of Churubusco) is NOT the Pierce Butler who married Fanny Kemble.]

Our letter predates all this action; from his ship, seventeen year old Abner tells his father:
I have luckily time to drop you a few lines as there is a small boat making towards us from the coast. I am perfectly well in every respect and very much pleased. We have had a very pleasant passage so far. We will be in Vera Cruz in a few days. Before you received this letter probably we shall be far on our way to the City of Mexico. I shall write to you when I get to Vera Cruz: tell all the family to write to me my friends also.

Abner Perrin, autograph letter signed to Abner Perrin. Off Key West, 24 October 1847. AMs 1187/7. Collection of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Abner Perrin, autograph letter signed to Abner Perrin. Off Key West, 24 October 1847. AMs 1187/7. Collection of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Although the Mexican War itself proved to be relatively short, its effects would be long lasting. Not only did it add a vast new swath of territory to the United States, but it also re-opened the tense question of how to balance slave and free areas. Some called for the new territories to be free, others wanted to extend the Missouri Compromise line west to the Pacific, while southerners called for popular sovereignty and pressed for a territorial vote to decide whether slavery would be legalized. Eventually the intricate Compromise of 1850 was passed, incorporating popular sovereignty among other measures to appease both parties. The Compromise quelled sectional tensions, but not for long, as in 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise and established popular sovereignty in all the territories, leading to the rise of the Republican Party and setting off the Civil War.

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster for the Rosen-blog.