Scholar, Printer, Publisher

Vergil 1501 AldusTo commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of the great humanist printer Aldus Manutius, the Chapin Library, in conjunction with Williams Classics professor Edan Dekel, has mounted the exhibition Aldus Manutius: Scholar, Printer, Publisher: A Quincentenary Celebration. This will be on view in the Chapin Gallery (Sawyer Room 406) and the adjacent Archives/Chapin Instruction Gallery through April 24th.

Aldus (as he is familiarly called) was the leading publisher in Renaissance Venice, and his Aldine Press was responsible for issuing the first printed editions of nearly every major classical Greek author. Among his innovations were the development of italic type, the introduction of inexpensive, small-format editions of Greek and Latin authors that could be carried in one’s pocket, and the application of scholarly standards to the editing of the texts Aldus published.

Above all, Aldus strove to make the great works of classical literature, as well as important Italian ones, widely available to readers in the Renaissance. In that respect, he is perhaps the person most responsible for the spread of Greek learning in the sixteenth century and beyond, and he stands at the head of a tradition that established classical texts as one of the foundations of the liberal arts education as we know it to this day. – WGH

Shown is the opening of Vergil’s Aeneid in the “pocket” edition published by Aldus in 1501. A complementary article by Julia Menemo may be read here.

Greetings from the new College Archivist

Katie_Nash13As I enter my third week as the new College Archivist and Special Collections Librarian, I’d like to take a moment and introduce myself as well as reflect on my journey at Williams College thus far. Prior to arriving at Williams, I was the Special Collections Librarian and Archivist at Elon University where I had worked since 2005. In my position at Elon, I was responsible for building the collections, services, and outreach from the ground up. I was a “lone-arranger” for several years, but when I left Elon I was supervising three full-time staff and the Archives and Special Collections was on the map for the entire Elon community.

My first day at Williams was October 6 and I am 100% sure that I have landed in a good place. Everyone I’ve met so far has been welcoming, friendly, supportive, and most importantly loves working at Williams College. I have experienced the nurturing and intellectual spirit of the College in almost every situation–something many newbies at other institutions probably don’t experience so early on.

I had the opportunity to be part of a Williams Alumni event on October 10 in which the Mike Reily Room was dedicated in the new Weston Field House. This event brought together members of the Williams Class of 1964, friends and family of Mike Reily, as well as others from the Williams community.  The College Archives has a scrapbook (created by Reily’s mother) all about Mike Reily’s high school days at Woodberry Forest and his college days at Williams. I was responsible for bringing the scrapbook to the event so attendees could view the amazing item first-hand. The reaction was simply stunning–everyone was impressed not only with how carefully the scrapbook was originally put together, but also how well it has been preserved by the College Archives. During the events that evening, it became clear to me very quickly what a special place Williams College is. The dedication to faculty, students, staff, research, alumni, and the community is remarkable.

In the coming weeks, months, and years I have no doubt I will continue to meet amazing people, experience and actively participate in the nurturing and intellectual climate, and grow in leaps and bounds both professionally and personally. I can’t think of a better place to do this than Williams College!

Visit the College Archives online, and feel free to make an appointment and we can discuss your research needs, support for library instruction, and any project you may be working on.


The Laws of Williams College, published 1795 on display in Sawyer Library

The Laws of Williams College, published 1795, is on display for a limited time in conjunction with exhibit The Libraries of Williams. Located in the level three entrance directly across from the circulation desk, the exhibit showcases the original printing of the Laws, images from old Sawyer Library, images from Stetson Library, and an image of the College’s first dedicated library space in Lawrence Hall.

Libraries of Williams College

One of the largest sections of the College’s first printing of its’ laws pertains to the Library and use of library materials. Books were not allowed to be removed from the Library without permission from the College Librarian. No more than three books could be charged out at one time, and it was illegal to take a book out of town.

The exhibit is on view during regular Sawyer Library hours. To protect the fragile condition of The Laws of Williams College, the book will be on display for Convocation weekend until September 22.

LawrenceHall Photo002





In support of the Book Unbound initiative, Professor Edan Dekel and College Archives co-curated an exhibit highlighting the first library collection of Williams, now known as the 1794 Collection. Purchased by the first Williams President, Ebenezer Fitch, the catalogue lists a diverse assortment of over 360 volumes, divided into such categories as: arts and sciences, voyages and travels, divinity and ecclesiastical history, history, languages, and poetry. The exhibit is now on view in the Archives/ Chapin instruction gallery on the 4th floor of Sawyer Library. Archives/ Chapin galleries are open Monday- Friday, 10am-5pm. On September 20th, the galleries are open from 1pm-6pm.


A Narnia Adventure

Lucy and Susan with AslanIn conjunction with First Days and its theme of Adventure, the Chapin Library is displaying for the first week of September, in the new Archives/Chapin Instruction Gallery, a selection of original art by Pauline Baynes for the 1991 deluxe edition of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

These gouache drawings are part of the Library’s Pauline Baynes Archive, acquired in 2009. One, reproduced on the invitation to this year’s September 3rd open house, depicts spring coming to the land of Narnia after the return of Aslan.

The Archives/Chapin Instruction Gallery is located on the 4th floor of Sawyer Library, one of three galleries administered by the Chapin Library and College Archives. Other works from the Baynes collection, which includes the artist’s reference library and some three thousand individual pieces of art, may be seen by appointment in the Archives/Chapin Reading Room (Sawyer Room 441). – WGH

Art by Pauline Baynes, courtesy of the Williams College Oxford Programme, copyright © by C.S. Lewis Pte.

“A is for Archival Artifacts” on Display in Archives/Chapin Galleries!


The new Sawyer Library complex is open. And, this means Archives and Special Collections and The Chapin Library’s shared reading room and gallery spaces are available for research by appointment and perusing.  On display in Archives/Chapin Schow connector gallery is the Archives’ exhibit  “A is for Archival Artifacts.” Showcasing everything from 19th century barbells, black and white photographic prints from the 1969 Hopkins Hall occupation for the creation of an Afro-American Studies department, and Ephraim Williams’ leather wallet circa 1750, the exhibit features material culture and unique ephemera from Williams’ diverse histories.

Archives/Chapin Summer 2014 hours: 10–12, 1–4:30


The Gettysburg Address

On the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s address at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the Chapin Library is proud to have in its collections, and in current use by students in both Professor Spero’s History 252 and Professor Dew’s History 456, the printing of the Gettysburg Address as it appeared in the New York Semi-Weekly Tribune of November 20, 1863.

Gettysburg Address

Lincoln’s text, shown here (click image to enlarge), is all but lost in a densely printed, six-columns-wide newspaper (of a size larger than those printed today), following on the featured oration by Edward Everett of Massachusetts, former congressman, senator, governor, and U.S. Secretary of State. Everett was a renowned American orator; he was expected to deliver a glorious address at Gettysburg, and by all accounts he did not disappoint. The length of his speech, more than 13,000 words, was of little or no consequence to an audience of his day, while its content – not only describing the recent battle which had helped to turn the tide of the Civil War, but expressing hope for reconciliation between the divided states – was of great moment to an audience emotionally invested in the event, with its significant losses, and still only midway through the larger conflict.

In contrast to Everett’s much longer and more complex speech, and despite the president’s assertion that the world would “little note, nor long remember, what we say here”, Lincoln’s remarks have been well remembered, even memorized by generations of students. Their brevity has proved an advantage – but a brevity made possible at the time only because Everett had already done the heavy oratorical lifting, and a quality which has come to be preferred in an age unused to public addresses in too long a form. Writing to a gentleman in South Carolina in 1879, in a letter also in the Chapin Library, Oliver Wendell Holmes noted that Edward Everett had, on November 19, 1863, “delivered a patriotic and eloquent oration. But the few simple words of Abraham Lincoln went to the heart of the Northern people as no elaborate rhetoric ever could.” Even Everett himself gave due credit to the president; after the ceremony, he wrote: “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”

The Tribune printing of Lincoln’s address shows that, although today it is read straight through with great solemnity, on November 19, 1863 it was interrupted six times by applause. – WGH

The newspaper was purchased by the Chapin Library on the Class of 1940 Americana Fund. The autograph letter by Oliver Wendell Holmes to F. Peyre Porcher, M.D. of Charleston, in which Holmes wrote out the text of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, was given by J. Brooks Hoffman, M.D., Williams Class of 1940.


Lonnie Youngblood and the Redcoats in Baxter Hall, November 17 1961.


Lonnie Youngblood in the Redcoats played Baxter Hall Nov 17 1961. Sponsored by Williams Class of 1965,  the event highlighted  Youngblood on the saxophone, who played “twistable” music. Although somewhat unknown at the time of the Williams performance, Youngblood famously went on to record and perform with Jimi Hendrix.

Lonnie Youngblood and the Redcoats, 1961

Listen to Ronnie Youngblood! (Listen close– Jimi Hendrix is on the electric guitar!)


Let Freedom Ring

March on Washington buttonOn the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963, and as many in our nation pause today at 3:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) to commemorate this seminal event, it’s good to be reminded also of the many resources available at Williams College related to Dr. King, to the history of the Civil Rights movement in America, and to African-American history and culture in general.

Stride toward Freedom djThe Chapin Library contains several books by Dr. King, including Stride toward Freedom and Why We Can’t Wait, both signed by the author, the latter also with an inscription by Coretta Scott King, and a special printing of Dr. King’s speech on accepting the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. Also here is a dramatic 1965 telegram from Dr. King to Congressman Seymour Halpern (one of the co-sponsors of the Voting Rights Act of 1964), in connection with a dispute over Negro disenfranchisement in Mississippi.

Extensive holdings from earlier periods trace the arrival of African captives in the New World, the development of slavery in America, and the struggles of African-Americans to claim their civil rights following the Civil War. Among these are works by civil rights activist (and Great Barrington native) W.E.B. Du Bois, who died fifty years ago yesterday, on August 27, 1963. Such resources are available in both the Chapin Library and the Williams College Archives and Special Collections, located in the Southworth Schoolhouse.

In addition, as noted in an earlier post, a recent acquisition by the Chapin Library, the Heritage Collection of Black literature and music formed by Paul Breman, comprises some 4,000 books and recordings and an equal number of pieces of manuscript and ephemera. – WGH

Shown are a button from August 28, 1963, from the Williams College Archives’ image collection related to the march on Washington, and from the Chapin Library’s holdings, the dust-jacket of Stride toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story by Martin Luther King, Jr. (1958).

19th-century Biology notes just received in the College Archives

Maxcy's description of a starfish (accession 2013.023)

Maxcy’s description of a starfish (accession 2013.023)

Curious about what your biology class would have been studying in 1884?  Come take a look at the Archives’ newest gift, Carroll Lewis Maxcy’s laboratory notebook.  In addition to his beautifully penned notes, the volume is filled with brilliantly-colored illustrations of starfish, frogs, molds, and ferns.

Maxcy did not specialize in science after his graduation in 1887.  Rather, he returned to Williams to teach English and Rhetoric for many years, also serving as dean and acting president.

The notebook is the gift of Jean Matthews Halverson, daughter of the late Prof. Samuel Matthews who taught biology at Williams from 1937 to 1970.