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Friday, September 26, 2014

Men and Maps

Last week I was pleased to attend an excellent conference on James Logan and the Networks of Atlantic Culture and Politics, 1699-1751, co-sponsored by The Library Company, UPenn's McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and Stenton, James Logan's home, now owned by the Colonial Dames. Logan came to Pennsylvania as William Penn's secretary in 1699 and became one of the leading political figures in the colony, as well as a merchant, scientist, scholar and a few other roles to boot.  If you haven't been to Logan's home at Stenton, I highly recommend a trip; right now is a particularly great time to go because as part of year-long temporary exhibition they have been able to borrow back items with Logan provenance from across Philadelphia (and beyond) and it is a real treat to see them in context.

The Rosenbach has a few Logan documents, mostly laid into our massively extra-illustrated copy of Lives of Eminent Philadelphians (which would makes its own interesting post). Here is a copy of a petition Logan submitted to the Pennsylvania council, asking for a salary, since he'd served for five years as clerk of the council and secretary of Pennsylvania without payment.

James Logan, Petition: to John Evans. Philadelphia, 14 December 1705. A f.869liv v.8 p.664-5 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
One slide that was de rigeur for a large number of presenters at the conference was the famous Scull and Heap map of Philadelphia and for those of you who aren't familiar with this map, I thought it would be fun to post our copy. The Scull and Heap map was originally published in 1752, but continued to be reissued for years. Ours is a 1777 version.

A map of Philadelphia & parts adjacent by N. Scull & G. Heap. 1777. Map G3824 .P5G46s 1777 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Logan's home, Stenton, appears near the top center of the map, slightly southeast of German Town. It sits about halfway between two major roads:  York Rd. and Germantown Ave. You can see its original cupola (now gone) on the image.

A map of Philadelphia & parts adjacent by N. Scull & G. Heap (detail). 1777. Map G3824 .P5G46s 1777 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Here is the section of the map showing Philadelphia. The only building marked is the court house at second and market, from which all the distances on the map are measured.
A map of Philadelphia & parts adjacent by N. Scull & G. Heap (detail). 1777. Map G3824 .P5G46s 1777 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

A map of Philadelphia & parts adjacent by N. Scull & G. Heap (detail). 1777. Map G3824 .P5G46s 1777 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
The image of Philadelphia on the map was more theory than reality. It shows the fully completed grid between the rivers, a la the original Holme plan, but in reality development still clustered along the Delaware river. On this William Faden version of the map, also published in 1777, the shaded areas show what was actually occupied. The Rosenbachs' home and surrounding areas west of Broad Street wouldn't be settled until well into the 19th century.
A plan of the city and environs of Philadelphia, (detail). London, W. Faden, 1777. G3824.P5A1 1777 .S3 Library of Congress Geography and Map Division

Those of you in Philadelphia or the surrounding suburbs may find it fun to find yourself on the map. I personally live in the area noted as "West Jersey," although farther inland than the few riverfront settlements it depicts.

If you are interested in historic Philadelphia maps and other geographic resources you might want to check out the Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network and Philaplace. Enjoy!

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

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Sendak Tapes

For those of you who have seen Peter Dobrin’s recent articles in the Philadelphia Inquirier (both Sunday's and Tuesday's), you already know that the Sendak Collection held here on deposit since 1968 will be leaving us shortly and returning to the Sendak Foundation in Connecticut.  Our exhibition Sendak in the ‘60s will remain on view through its scheduled end-date, November 2, so be sure to check it out!  There are some amazing pieces from Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen on display, but the ‘60s was perhaps Sendak’s most varied and inventive period so there’s something for everyone in there. 

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some behind-the-scenes memories and reflections of our work with Maurice Sendak over the decades.  Tens of thousands of people have enjoyed Sendak’s work through exhibitions and programs here over almost 50 years, but (at least for those who haven’t met him) not everyone knows how generous Maurice was with his time and insights on a personal level.  He visited here often, bringing artwork with him, speaking to docents about his work, and doing lectures and signings of his latest books for visitors. 

Maurice Sendak in 2007.  Photo courtesy of Michael O'Reilly.
When we interviewed him in 2007, Sendak remembered his first visits to the Rosenbach in the late ‘60s fondly: “I remember I would lay in Dr. Rosenbach’s room, and they would bring me in some drawings for a French novel by Fragonard and there was a big animal fur blanket and I used to lay under it with my Fragonards all around.  Hey—that was living!  Of course, they took it all back in the morning.” The Rosenbach’s first big Sendak exhibition went up in 1970, displaying much of Sendak’s work up to that point while also including works by artists who influenced Sendak that were either borrowed from his personal collection or from other area museums.  Admission then was $1.50.  In a review in Artforum, critic Selma Lanes (who ten years later would publish a compendious biography of Sendak) noted how this early retrospective lifted Sendak out of the easy-to-dismiss “kiddie-book” category to which he had often been consigned, and placed him within a continuum of inventive illustrators: “During an era when bold use of color, abstract design, outsize format and showy technical virtuosity abounded, his work has always remained low-key, curiously retrograde, and 19th-century in spirit.  From the exhibited selections, made by both the artist and Clive Driver, the Rosenbach’s young curator, Sendak clearly emerges as a conscientious and respectful student of the past, an innovator within a long tradition rather than a smasher of stylistic idols.  As Sendak himself has put it, ‘I borrowed techniques and tried to forge them into a personal language.’” 

That was the first of many Sendak shows over the next four decades.  Later exhibitions would delve into specific Sendak books (Chicken Soup with Rice or In the Night Kitchen, for example), or investigate themes and techniques in his artwork (such as Maurice Sendak, Comic Strip Technique, and Wilhelm Busch in 1993, or the 1986 exhibition Man’s Best Friend about Sendak’s dog Jennie).  Periodically—when a new exhibition went up or a new Sendak book was published—Sendak would stop by and speak with our docents.  It’s rare for educators to have access to a living artist whose work they interpret for visitors, and we’re fortunate that past staff had the foresight to record some of those sessions on cassette tapes.  Listening to them now, I’m struck by how earnest, warm, and excited Sendak sounded in those conversations.  You can hear him turning the pages of his picture books as he shows the docents particular illustrations.  He clearly wanted our docents to be well-supplied with information and insights on which to chew.  In one conversation he expounded on the distinction he saw between illustrating a “picture book” (giving Where the Wild Things Are as an example) and a “story book” (citing Higglety, Pigglety, Pop!).  He likened a picture book to an opera, where images and texts move back and forth in a kind of syncopation.  But a story book, he explained, must remain focused on the narrative, noting that the trick is to add something to the pictures; he said he tried to inject a certain “emotional coloring” to his pictures for Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Zlateh the Goat to counterbalance Singer’s dry wit in the text.  In other conversations he comments on his fellow-illustrators, like N.C. Wyeth (“Complicated feelings.  A great master... but he has somewhat the problem of Arthur Rackham, where he has one style, that N.C.-Wyeth-look.”), and Dr. Seuss (“a master and a maniac…condemned to being a best-seller”), as well as various authors like Melville (“You don’t want [your illustrations] to get in the way of him…he’s a trumpet, a noisy writer”), Randall Jarrell (“He was one of the few writers I’ve ever worked with who could…visualize what a book could look like.  Very few writers understand the business of illustrating their books.  They just want nice pictures”), and Isaac Singer (“The best part of the collaboration was him.  The worst part was him”).  And, of course, Sendak took many questions from our docents about everything from his work in theater and opera to his childhood memories and familial relationships.   

The bulk of Sendak’s artwork might be leaving the Rosenbach, but so much remains.  The authors and illustrators in our permanent collection that so inspired him (Dickinson, Melville, Carroll, Tenniel, Blake…) will still be here to inspire others.  The Rosenbach still owns a few hundred pieces of Sendak artwork, including the one-of-a-kind Chertoff mural, which is an inspiration of itself.  But perhaps most importantly, the perspectives on art and literature that Sendak shared with staff, docents, and visitors here have unquestionably left their mark on this institution.  

 Patrick Rodgers is Curator of the Maurice Sendak Collection at the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. 

Friday, September 12, 2014


Okay, so we all know we're not supposed to do this to our books (although I suspect we're probably all guilty of it, spine-breaking be hanged). But what do you use to mark your place?  I must confess to grabbing whatever piece of paper is readily at hand--grocery receipts and library checkout slips being frequent culprits. I know I'm not alone; a poll on the InkyGirl blog found that only 42% of her readers used a regular bookmark, 9% copped to dog-earing pages and 6% claimed never to use a bookmark at all, which leaves a whopping 43% using makeshift 'marks.  A discussion on LibraryThing lists some of the most unusual items found in libraries' returned books, presumably used as bookmarks by the patrons. Among the items listed are beer bottle labels, a pancake, $700 in cash, toilet paper, a thong and plenty of unusual clippings and photos.

I don't know if they used them or if they just reached for the nearest piece of scrap paper, but Philip  and Dr. Rosenbach had a very nice matching set of sterling silver bookmarks made by silversmith Leonore Doskow.

Leonore Doskow, bookmarks. 1935-1952. 2004.0058.001&2 . The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Leonore Doskow, bookmark. 1935-1952. 2004.0058.001. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Leonore Doskow, bookmark. 1935-1952. 2004.0058.002 . The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

Philip also had this very elegant Adler silver bookmark, with cutwork initials.

Adler, bookmark. 2004.0059 . The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

I'd love to know the background of this cross-stitched paper bookmark for Dr. R. Was it made for him by a sister, or someone else?

Bookmark. 1954.1874. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

Marianne Moore stuck all kinds of things in her books as a form of filing system, placing clippings and other items that related to the book within its pages as a way to hang onto them and find them again. For preservation purposes we've removed these items from the books and placed them into folders, while preserving the record of where they were originally found. These items run to 22 manuscript boxes and compose an entire subseries of the ephemera series of the Moore Papers. Mixed in among them are some more conventional paper bookmarky things and Marianne also had this very nice monogrammed Tiffany silver bookmark (her middle name was Craig)

Tiffany & Co., bookmark. 2006.2873.008. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia   

So what kind of bookmarker are you? Do you use "real" bookmarks or whatever comes to hand? What's the weirdest thing you've ever used as a bookmark?

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

Friday, September 05, 2014

Back to School

Now is the time for children to head back to school, so I pulled a few school-related items from the files.

This photo, although unidentified, seems to be some sort of school/class photograph including the young Abie Rosenbach (the future Dr. R). He is seated at the far left of the front row with arms crossed.

Unidentified photograph. Philadelphia, 1880-1885?. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. 2006.1110

This is Dr. R's graduating class from Central Manual Training School. Again he appears at the left, this time in the second row.
Central Manual Training School, class of 1894.  Philadelphia, 1894. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. 2006.2442

Switching gears from our founder to our favorite book, here is St. Joseph's School, which Leopold Bloom walks by on the morning of June 16, 1904, en route to the butcher shop: He passed Saint Joseph's National School. Brats' clamour. Windows open. Fresh air helps memory. Or a lilt. Ahbeesee defeegee kelomen opeecue rustyouvee doubleyou. Boys are they? Yes. Inishturk. Inishark. Inishboffin. At their joggerfry. Mine. Slieve Bloom.

Phil Phillips, St. Joseph's School. Dublin, 1950. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Gift of Sayre P. Sheldon and Lady Richard Davies. 2006.0004.053  

The photo itself was taken in 1950 by Phil Phillips, a Harvard archaeology professor  who went to Dublin to photograph sites from Ulysses.

Our current exhibition Bescribbled, Nibbled, and Dog-Eared includes examples of primers and other instructional books used in schools. The exhibition showcases Dr. Rosenbach collection of early American children's books, which focused on pre-1830 works. A later item from our collection, which is not in the exhibition, is the fascinating Geographical Reader for the Dixie Children, published in North Carolina in 1863

Miss M. B. Moore, Geographical reader for the Dixie children. Raleigh, N.C.: Branson, Farrar, & Co, 1863. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia A 863g

Every nation wants to teach its children about its history and the Confederates were no exception. Here is a portion of the description of the "Southern Confederacy" from the Geographical Reader:

3. This is a great country! The Yankees thought to starve us out when they sent their ships to guard our seaport towns. But we have learned to make many things; to do without many others; and above all to trust in the smiles of the God of battles. We had few guns, little ammunition, and not much of anything but food, cotton and tobacco; but the people helped themselves and God helped the people. We were considered an indolent, weak people, but our enemies have found us strong, because we had justice on our side.

        4. The Southern people are noted for being high minded and courteous. A stranger seldom lacks friends in this country. Much of the field work is done by slaves. These are generally well used and often have as much pocket money as their mistresses. They are contented and happy, and many of them are christians. The sin of the South lies not in holding slaves, but they are sometimes mistreated. Let all the little boys and girls remember that slaves are human, and that God will hold them to account for treating them with injustice.

        5. The Southern Confederacy is at present a sad county; but President Davis is a good and wise man, and many of the generals and other officers in the army, are pious. Then there are many good praying people in the land; so we may hope that our cause will prosper. "When the righteous are in authority, the nation rejoiceth;but when the wicked bear rule the nation mourneth." Then remember, little boys, when you are men, never to vote for a bad man to govern the country.

You can see more and read the full text thanks to the Documenting the American South project at UNC. 

Finally, what is a blog post without a good Cruikshank illustration or two. Our first illustration depicts male and female students in a ragged school ( a charity school for poor children).

George Cruikshank,The Ragged School. London, 1846. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. 1954.1880.2554

This cartoon depicts two ragged pupils who do not look especially studious. The boy on the left is holding what may be a battledore, a type of simple cardboard book for teaching letters and other very basic lessons. You can see a real example of a battledore in the Bescribbled exhibition.
George Cruikshank. London, 1846. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. 1954.1880.2572

And last, but not least, here is a pair of illustrations depicting an ebullient group of students returning home from school (at left) and a dejected group returning to school (on the right).

George Cruikshank, Schoolboys Going Home and Boys Returning to School. Illustrations for Peter Parley's Tales about Christmas. London: Tegg, 1839. The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. 1954.1880.3193 and 3190

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