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Friday, May 30, 2014

Searching for Spelling

News outlets are abuzz today with the news of a tie for the winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee--Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe will share the spelling crown, the first time since 1962 that there have been co-champions.  All the news about spelling put me in mind of the various spelling books here in our collection.

Dr. Rosenbach was an early and important collector of children's books. This passion will be the subject of our upcoming exhibition Bescribbled, Nibbled, and Dog-Eared: Early American Children's Books, which opens July 9.  He gave most of his children's book collection to the Free Library of Philadelphia (of which he was a trustee) in 1947 and we will be borrowing a number of these volumes for the exhibition. There are, however, some children's books still at the Rosenbach, including a number of primers -- books used to teach basic reading and spelling.

In terms of spelling, M'Carty's American Primer from 1828 clearly promises "A Selection of Words the Most Easy of Pronunciation Intended to Facilitate the Improvement of Children in Spelling."

M'Carty's American Primer. Philadelphia: M'Carty & Davis, 1828. A828m
The first primer specifically produced for American use was The New England Primer, which was initially printed around 1690 and went through 450 editions by 1830. The edition shown here is from 1814. The New England Primer was intended for religious as well as academic instruction: its alphabet verses include such rhymes as "In Adam's fall/We sinned all" and "Thy life to mend/This book attend" with an image of the Bible. The book also included a catechism and plenty of religious texts to practice reading.

New England Primer. Walpole N.H.: I Thomas, 1814. A 1814n
 Here is another alphabet from M'Carty's American Primer.

M'Carty's American Primer. Philadelphia: M'Carty & Davis, 1828. A828m

 After mastering the alphabet, children would move on to syllables, then words of two and three syllables. Here's a page of alphabets followed by a page of syllables from The American Primer; Or an Easy Introduction to Spelling and Reading.
The American primer; Or an Easy Introduction to Spelling and Reading. Philadelphia: Matthew Carey, 1813. A 813a
In this primer the reader would eventually progress to words such as ornament, plenitude, and querulous. Not Scripps spelling bee material, but at least headed in the right direction. This primer also sternly admonishes that "If you do not take pains to spell, you will not know how to read, but will be a great dunce."

The American primer; Or an Easy Introduction to Spelling and Reading. Philadelphia: Matthew Carey, 1813. A 813a
Here's part of the list of three syllable words from M'Carty's primer, including simony, assassin, and tribunal.
M'Carty's American Primer. Philadelphia: M'Carty & Davis, 1828. A828m
The Rosenbach also has primers and instructional texts for other languages, including a number of Native American languages. Here is an Iroquois spelling book created by Eleazer Williams, the grandson of Eunice Williams. Eunice had been taken captive by the Mohawks in 1704 and eventually chose to stay with them, rather than return to white society.
Eleazer Williams, Gaiatonsera Ionteweienstagwa Ongwe Onwe Gawennontakon: A Spelling-Book in the Language of the Seven Iroquois Nations. Plattsburgh: F.C. Powell, 1813. A 813g

Eleazer Williams, Gaiatonsera Ionteweienstagwa Ongwe Onwe Gawennontakon: A Spelling-Book in the Language of the Seven Iroquois Nations. Plattsburgh: F.C. Powell, 1813. A 813g
  
So if there's ever an Iroquois spelling bee, we're all set.



Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog.





Friday, May 23, 2014

Memorial Day Musings

Happy Memorial Day weekend to all our Rosen-readers. Since Memorial Day began as a holiday to remember and decorate the graves of the Civil War dead, it seems appropriate to remind everyone of our ongoing Today in the Civil War blog, which commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with objects from our collection.

Here are a few images, taken from Today in the Civil War, of those who lost their lives in the great conflict.

AMs 811-2_1 Ellsworth photograph (Large)
Matthew Brady, carte de visite photograph of Col. Elmer Ellsworth. 1860. AMs 811/2.1
 Elmer Ellsworth, one of the first casualties of the war.

20060675
J.W. Everett & Co., carte de visite of John Reynolds. New York, n.d. Rush V:42:03
John Reynolds, killed on the first day of the battle of Gettysburg.

20060674
Cash & Godshaw,carte de visite of Adolph Rosengarten. Louisville, Kentucky, 1862. Rush V:42:03
Adolph Rosengarten, killed at Murfreesborough.

This might also be a good place to note an interesting recent study by J. David Hacker (published in 2012) which revised the number of Civil War dead upwards from the previously accepted 620,000 to around 750,000. The study used the "two census method" to determine the increase in male mortality due to the war.

Of course, Memorial Day is also about the start of summer, which in Philadelphia means the shore. So here are a few shots of Rosenbachs at the beach.

Reproduction of Rosenbach family photograph. 2006.2506.006  Gift of Joan Keiser

Moses Rosenbach (A.S.W. and Philip's brother) with his wife and an unidentified woman.




Reproduction of Rosenbach family photograph. 2006.2506.007  Gift of Joan Keiser
Dr. Rosenbach as a beach-front hot dog cook.


Reproduction of Rosenbach family photograph. 2006.2506.006  Gift of Joan Keiser
Carrie Price (on the right) and Frankie Marshall at Dr. Rosenbach's shore house. 


Have a great weekend



Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Some Sequels

This week's post is not about famous literary sequels (although we have plenty of those here--Through the Looking Glass, anyone?), but instead provides sequels to a couple of blog posts from the archive.

Back in 2011 I wrote about our acquisition of an early American copy of John Polidori's genre-creating tale, The Vampyre. As a follow-up, I am pleased to note that the Rosenbach has recently acquired a 1819 London copy, published for Sherwood, Neely, and Jones.

John Polidori The Vampyre. London:Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1819. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

The history of the early London book printings of The Vampyre is a bit confusing, with a half-dozen issues being produced in 1819, but the copy we acquired was the first widely-available book version of the tale. (You can find a helpful rundown of the printing history at the Bibliodeviancy Blog  and the  L.W. Curry dealers) It is the second state of the first edition published by Sherwood and was the first to remove all mention of Lord Byron from the title page. Byron had erroneously been identified as the author or source of the tale in earlier book and magazine versions. An owner has helpfully penciled in Byron's name on the title page of our copy and on the flyleaf are notes in various hands about the publishing history of the story, including a clear note that it was by Polidori.

John Polidori The Vampyre. London:Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1819. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

For my second sequel we turn from vampires to children's books and return to Patrick Rodger's post about the band Ha Ha Tonka, and their album inspired in part by Maurice Sendak's final Fresh Air interview. Apparently Ha Ha Tonka weren't the only musicians who were taken by that interview--I just found out about a choral composition by composer Nathan Hall that draws its text from the interview.  The eight part composition is entitled "I Am in Love with the World" and debuts in Baltimore on June 7. You can read more about the piece,  its composition, and hear excerpts at Current.org.



Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog.

Friday, May 09, 2014

A 21st-Century Miscellany

It's time for another check on the Networking before the Net exhibit. About six weeks ago I posted about the exhibit and offered some selections that visitors had contributed to an exhibit commonplace book. As I explained previously, commonplace books, or personal miscellanies, were blank books used to collect quotations, poetry, bits of wisdom, etc. that a person wanted to save. The exhibit book has continued to grow,so I thought I'd share another round of the wonderful contributions:

"You can't make dirt clean so just lemon scent it"

"Isn't it pretty to think so" Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" Wayne Gretzky

"Be grateful for and in every day, you don't know how many you will have."

"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places, Those who don't believe in magic will never find it" The Minpins Roald Dahl

"We loved with a love that was more than love"" Poe, Annabell Lee

"Be thankful for what you don't have" Diane P.


"Rubber Duckie, you're the one" Ernie

"Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred."  Tennyson, Charge of the Light Brigade

"Blessed are the flexible people--for they will bend and not break."

"Life is like iron-- use it and it wears away, don't use it and it rusts."

"'It's not the men in your life that matters, it's the life in your men." Mae West 

"Is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife " Austen, Pride and Prejudice

"If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
But if I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?" Hillel

Thanks again to all of our wonderful visitors who shared their thoughts! There's still time to visit the exhibition (and add to the miscellany), so swing by through June 16th to enjoy it.





Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Poets as "native plants", Willam Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore create gardens of verse



With April showers behind us, we welcome the blossoms of May!

On Sunday May 4 at 1:30, Bartram's Garden will host a second performance of Native Plants underneath the historic ginkgo  tree. The first performance was this past Thursday at the Rosenbach. Two students from Richard Stockton College recited poetry as well as read aloud excerpts from Moore and Williams' correspondence.  
Ciara Barrick of the Moore/Williams Project, introduced the program, and the concept for the performance:

"In the version of Marianne Moore's poem "The Steeplejack" published in 1932, there is a rather lengthy list of plants.  They fall, basically, into three categories-- those that are native to a harsh New England environment (these have coarse names like spiderwort, lichens, and sunflowers), those that have been transplanted and are found nurtured at the backdoor, such as fox-glove, morning-glories, and moon-vines; and those we are told the climate is not right for—more exotic plants like the banyan and frangipani. 

For both Moore and Williams, the notion that the artist must transplant him or herself to Europe in order to create real art or literature meant giving up on the desire to create something truly and originally American.  The position of Moore and Williams was especially difficult, because the desire to be at the same time modern and American meant they had to work hard to establish a place on their home soil.  As Henry Louis Mencken notes, “the battle for ideas in the United States is largely carried on under strange flags” which accounts for the fact that many young American writers “--once they become fully conscious of their foreign affiliation--desert the republic forthwith” (Prejudices II. 49, 51). 
Van Wyck Brooks, in his influential America’s Coming of Age (1915), thought that modern ideas coming from Europe lost their potency on the journey. He writes:  “The sea crossing, so far as we are concerned, has a very dampening effect on the gunpowder contained in them [the ideas].  Transplanted they have at once the pleasing remoteness of literature and the stir of only half-apprehended actuality” (162).  His use of “transplanted” is part of a running metaphor through the book linking literature and gardening.  “England, to be sure, is just as much a wilderness as America.  All I am urging is that while England has at least a handful of trained gardeners, all we have is cowboys and a flag” (157).  It is not surprising then that gardening became an important literary metaphor for both Moore and Williams. The poems that have been selected for today’s performance seek to reflect both Moore and William’s preoccupation with being native, as well as to take advantage of our desire for spring through the poems’ natural settings and imagery."