African Folk Tales

dinkins_african_folk_tales_coverCarl F. Liss, Williams Class of 1953, has kindly given the Chapin Library a scarce children’s book, African Folk Tales written by Pauline E. Dinkins, M.D. (1892–1961) and illustrated by Effie Lee Newsome (born Mary Effie Lee, 1885–1979), published in 1933 by the Sunday School Publishing Board of Nashville, Tennessee. Only eight copies of this well-preserved folio are recorded in libraries.

Dr. Dinkins was an African-American raised in a missionary home in Selma, Alabama, educated at Hartshorn College in Richmond and at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. At the latter school she was sensitive to discriminatory language used by instructors and never felt truly part of her class. With her degree in hand, she engaged in general practice in Selma and then was on the staff of the Tuskegee Institute. In 1922 she became Medical Director of Brewer Hospital and Nurse Training School in Greenwood, South Carolina, which was under the auspices of the American Missionary Association. Toward the end of the 1920s she worked in Monrovia, Liberia, and there she collected African folk stories.

By this time she had come into contact with Effie Lee Newsome. This may have been The Crisis, a magazine founded by W.E.B. Du Bois and published monthly by the NAACP, to which Newsome was a contributor and in which advertising for Brewer Hospital (with Dr. Dinkins’ name) appeared. Newsome had been a writer and illustrator since childhood, and was one of the first African-American authors to concentrate on works for children. Although the pictures in African Folk Tales were made in 1930 – most are dated thus – Newsome and Dinkins were collaborating on the book already in 1929. In a letter that year from Dinkins to W.E.B. Du Bois she writes from Monrovia that she was sending Du Bois some of “our” stories, referring also to Newsome who had told her that Du Bois was interested in publishing them.

It is unclear whether Du Bois in the end had anything to do with the publication of African Folk Tales. It seems reasonable to think that, had he applied his influence, the book may have appeared from a publisher more in the mainstream than the Sunday School Publishing Board of Nashville. In any event, Dinkins continued to write to Du Bois on her return to Selma later in 1929 and as late as 1932, when Du Bois advised that she would have a hard time finding a publisher for a memoir of her experiences in Africa. – WGH

John Paul Jones

Jones_broadside_1777The Chapin Library has been able to acquire, on its Class of 1940 Americana Fund, an apparently unique broadside by John Paul Jones (1747–1792), the “Father of the American Navy”. The sheet was almost certainly printed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1777, as a means of raising a crew for the sloop Ranger, the command of which had been assigned to Jones on June 14th of that year. Ranger, originally Hampshire, had been launched only on May 10th in Kittery, Maine.

To fill out his crew, Jones promised men wages, shares, bounties, even insurance against dismemberment or death. This proved more than he could deliver, but his intent seems genuine, the effort having been approved by the Marine Committee of the Continental Congress. The manuscript note at the foot of the sheet, attesting to this, has been identified as in Jones’s own hand.

On November 1, 1777, Jones and the crew of Ranger set sail for France, and subsequently caused mischief up the coast of Britain and around Ireland, taking several prizes. The ship returned to Portsmouth on October 15, 1778. – WGH

A Year of Acquisitions

This has been a good year for additions to the Chapin Library, both by gift and by purchase, as always in support of the work done by students and teachers at Williams, and following the purposes of our various funds. Here are only a few of the acquisitions made between July 2015 and June 2016, in no particular order:

Poems by Emily Dickinson. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1890, 1891, 1896. First editions of all three series (volumes). Purchased on the W. Edward Archer and John S. Van E. Kohn, Class of 1928 funds.

Le Cuisinier moderne by Vincent La Chapelle. Seconde édition revue, corrigée et augmentée. La Haye: Aux dépens de l’auteur, 1742. A classic of French cuisine in five volumes, purchased on the Bruce and Alice Healy Fund.

The Warden by Anthony Trollope. London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1855. A fine copy of the first edition. Purchased on the Mary L. Hurt Richmond Fund.

A Narrative of Five Youth from the Sandwich Islands, Now Receiving an Education in This Country. New York: Printed by J. Seymour, 1816. A rare pamphlet, “published by order of the agents appointed to establish a school for heathen youth”, which was directly responsible for accelerating the establishment of a mission school in Hawaii. Purchased on the Class of 1940 Americana Fund.

Laws of the Cherokee Nation Adopted by the Council at Various Periods, with The Constitution and Laws of the Cherokee Nation: Passed at Tahlequah . . . 1839–1851. Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation: Cherokee Advocate Office, 1852. Two parts in two volumes, bringing together the earliest written laws of the Cherokees, all the constitutions, and the laws after Removal. Purchased on the Class of 1940 Americana Fund.

Claims of the Jews to an Equality of Rights, Illustrated in a Series of Letters to the Editor of the Philadelphia Gazette, by Isaac Leeser. Philadelphia: Printed by C. Sherman & Co., 1841. A republication in book form of Leeser’s response of 1828 in the Richmond Whig to an attack on the Jews which had appeared in the London Quarterly Review. Purchased on the Class of 1940 Americana Fund.

A manuscript sharecropping agreement from 1868, made between a white Virginia plantation owner and three African-American freedmen. Purchased in support of a student paper on agriculture by former slaves during Reconstruction, on the Class of 1940 Americana Fund.

Hand-made Fables by George Ade. New York: Doubleday, Page, 1920. An inscribed copy, purchased with ten typed letters signed and an autographed manuscript page, all by the noted American humorist of whose works the Chapin Library has a significant collection. Purchased on the W. Edward Archer Fund.

American Entomology, or Descriptions of the Insects of North America by Thomas Say. Philadelphia: Samuel Augustus Mitchell, 1824-1825. Three volumes. The first edition of Say’s pioneering work, purchased on the Tobias Cabot Fund for Natural History.

Official List of Officers Who Marched with the Army under the Command of Major General Winfield Scott, from Puebla upon the City of Mexico . . . and Who Were Engaged in the Battles of Mexico. Mexico: American Star Print, 1848. An account printed on the occupying American army’s own press, including the plan of the battles in the vicinity of Mexico City. Purchased on the Class of 1940 Americana Fund, as an adjunct to a large colored lithographic print and an original key drawing to the print given this year by, respectively, the Stanton E. and M. Elaine Tefft Foundation, and late Stanton E. Tefft, Williams Class of 1947, and the Marie Elaine Tefft Revocable Trust.

Parentalia, or, Memoirs of the Family of the Wrens by Christopher Wren. London: T. Osborne and R. Dodsley, 1750. The chief sources of the life of English architect and scientist Christopher Wren, compiled by his son and namesake. Purchased on the W. Edward Archer Fund.

A Brief View of the Conduct of Pennsylvania, for the Year 1755, So Far As It Affected the General Service of the British Colonies, Particularly the Expedition under the Late General Braddock. London: Printed for R. Griffiths . . . and sold by Mr. Bradford in Philadelphia, 1756. The first edition of a noted response to Quaker pacifism after General Braddock’s defeat during the French and Indian War. Purchased on the Class of 1940 Americana Fund.

The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication by Charles Darwin. London: John Murray, 1868. Two volumes. The first edition, first issue of the work in which Darwin gathered facts concerning artificial selection of traits to demonstrate an analogy for natural selection, and in which he advanced a hypothesis of the inheritance of characteristics. Purchased on the Tobias Cabot Fund for Natural History.

Poems by Eminent Ladies, edited by Bonnell Thornton and George Colman. London: Printed for R. Baldwin, 1755. Two volumes. The first edition of the first major anthology of poetry by women in English, a cornerstone for women’s studies in the 18th century. Purchased on the W. Edward Archer Fund.

The Silkworm: A Poem by Marcus Hieronymus Vida. Translated by the Reverend Samuel Pullen. Dublin: Printed by S. Powell for the Author [i.e. translator], 1750. Pullen’s interest in the introduction of silk cultivation into the American (Caribbean) colonies was fueled by family connections with Jamaica. Purchased on the W. Edward Archer Fund.

Sketches in Architecture by John Soane; with Six Designs for Improving and Embellishing Grounds by G.J. Parkyns. London: Messrs. Taylor, 1793. Two works bound together as issued, with plans for country cottages and picturesque estates. Purchased on the Mary L. Hurt Richmond Fund.

A Chronological History of North-eastern Voyages of Discovery, and of the Early Eastern Navigations of the Russians by James Burney. London: Printed by Luke Hansard & Sons . . . for Payne and Foss . . . and John Murray, 1819. The first edition of a scarce work on Pacific exploration, including a first-hand account of the death of Captain Cook. It is supplemental to Burney’s great five-volume chronological history of discoveries in the South Seas, which was already in the Chapin Library. Purchased on the W. Edward Archer Fund.

The Manifesto by Jose acute Figueroa. San Francisco: Herald Office, 1855. The first English-language edition of Figueroa’s defense of his conduct in a colonization plan for California in the 1830s, made from the “commandant-general and political chief” of California to the Mexican Republic. Purchased on the Class of 1940 Americana Fund.

The Laws of Contrast of Colour and Their Application to the Arts of Painting, Decoration of Buildings [etc.] by M.E. Chevreul. Translated by John Spanton. London: George Routledge & Sons, 1859. The third edition of the Spanton translation of one of the landmark works on color theory. Purchased on the Mary L. Hurt Richmond Fund.

Outfits for a Whaling Voyage. [New Bedford, Massachusetts: H.S. Kirby, circa 1858]. A printed list of supplies, annotated throughout by William W. Thomas, master of the bark Joseph Grinnell detailing supplies purchased for a whaling voyage to the Pacific. Purchased on the Class of 1940 Americana Fund.

A collection of more than 190 photographs of Theodore Roosevelt by Underwood and Underwood, most from Roosevelt’s presidency but a few from his 1898 Rough Rider days at Montauk Point, Long Island. The Chapin Library has a significant collection of items by and about Roosevelt, a friend of Mr. Chapin in the New York State legislature. Purchased on the Class of 1940 Americana Fund.

Cope’s Tobacco Plant. Liverpool: Cope Brothers, 1870–1881. Three volumes, a complete run of this periodical regarding tobacco; from the Arents library. Its main significance to the Chapin Library is in contributions by American poet Walt Whitman. Purchased on the W. Edward Archer Fund.

Mineralogia Cornubiensis by William Pryce. London: James Philips, 1778. An important work on geology and mining in Cornwall. Purchased on the W. Edward Archer Fund.

A manuscript document detailing the results of an inquest held at Southampton, Long Island, on June 6, 1681, with the names of some of the earliest English settlers. Purchased on the Thomas A. Frank, Class of 1963 Fund.

Six to seven hundred magazines and other printed items related to Frank Lloyd Wright, his buildings, and his apprentices. The gift of Larry Martyn, who was himself an apprentice to architect Wright, this collection complements the earlier Frank Lloyd Wright library given to the Chapin Library by Robert Fordyce, Class of 1956.

A Civil War soldier letter, April 20, 1865, commenting on Lincoln’s assassination (“hanging is considered . . . too good for the perpetrators”), on contrabands, and on the future of the Army of the Potomac. Purchased on the W. Edward Archer Fund.

Some two hundred issues of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, rival to the better-known Harper’s Weekly, from the Civil War years 1861–1864. Purchased on the Class of 1940 and W. Edward Archer funds.

Zum ewigen Frieden by Immanuel Kant. Königsberg: Friedrich Nicolivius, 1795. The first edition, first issue of Kant’s essay on perpetual peace, given to the Chapin Library by Bruce M. Russett, Class of 1956.

Vestigi delle antichita di Roma Tivoli Possuolo e altri luochi con privilegio di sua Sac. Caes. Mae. Prague: Aegidius Sadeler, 1606. The first edition, first issue of Sadeler’s book of engraved views of Roman antiquities. Purchased on the W. Edward Archer Fund.

Reports of the Metropolitan Park Commission for Massachusetts. Boston, 1893–1919. Includes twenty-six annual reports in twenty-seven volumes, a complete run of this work, of great importance to historians of American city planning and landscape architecture. Purchased on the Class of 1940 Americana Fund. – WGH


Independence Day Readings

Once again this July 4th, at 1:30 p.m. in the atrium of Sawyer Library at Williams College, actors from the Williamstown Theatre Festival will read the Declaration of Independence of July 1776, the British reply to the Declaration of September 1776, King George III’s speech to Parliament of October 1776, and the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Admission is free. The readers this year will be Rebecca Naomi Jones, Gregg Mozgala, Wendell Pierce, and Katy Sullivan, the cast of Cost of Living, on the Nikos Stage through July 10th.

The Chapin Library’s collection of original Founding Documents of the United States is on permanent display in the Chapin Gallery (Sawyer 406), and will be open on July 4th from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m., and then again after the readings until 3:00. Staff will be on hand to answer questions.

Also on display at this time are “While Thy Booke Doth Live”: Shakespeare and His World in the Chapin Gallery, treasures from the Chapin Library in the adjacent Instruction Gallery, and Progress through Struggle: Student Activism at Williams in the Steven Schow ’81 Gallery along with Audubon’s Birds of America. – WGH

The Map Thief

Map Thief dust jacketThe final Tuesday Tea lecture for 2016 will be presented today, May 3rd, at 4:00 in the Archives/Chapin Instruction Room (Sawyer Library Room 452). It is sponsored by the Williams Libraries, the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, and the Ronald B. Moir, Class of 1951 Chapin Library Fund.

When we were planning our new library building, Sylvia Brown, then the College Archivist, and I spent a great deal of time thinking about how we might steal things. If we wanted to prevent a theft, we had to think like a thief. During this process, three names often came to mind.

The first was Donald Lynch, a shoe salesman who in 1940 posed as Sinclair E. Gillingham, an English professor at Middlebury College, and when no one was looking, stole the Chapin Library’s copy of the Shakespeare First Folio. We got it back, but the experience was proof, if proof were needed, that researchers should not be allowed to work out of sight of staff, and should not be allowed to keep a bag or briefcase at hand.

The second name that came to mind was Gilbert Bland. Bland was a nondescript little man who became the most notorious map thief of the 1990s, striking at libraries all over the eastern United States. Happily, Williamstown seems to have been too remote to draw his attention, but this too was a wake-up call which exposed deficiencies in security.

And finally there was E. Forbes Smiley III. Smiley was another map thief, but degrees worse than Gilbert Bland, because Smiley was a leading expert and dealer whom librarians trusted. Again, Williams was spared the experience of theft, possibly because our collections were less well-known than those of other libraries, but it showed that one had to be watchful even of those who seemed unlikely to turn to crime.

Forbes Smiley is at the center of today’s talk, and of the book The Map Thief by our speaker, Michael Blanding. Michael is a Williams College graduate, Class of 1995, and a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute of Investigative Journalism at Brandeis. His work has appeared in Wired, The Nation, The New Republic, and other publications, including recent issues of Williams magazine. The Map Thief was deservedly a New York Times bestseller, an NPR Book of the Year, and a New England Society Book Award winner.

After Michael’s talk, there will be a short time for questions and answers, followed by a reception in the Chapin Gallery (Sawyer 406).

Wayne Hammond, Chapin Librarian

Shakespeare and His World

Shakespeare portrait“‘While Thy Booke Doth Live’: Shakespeare and His World”, an exhibition marking the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, has opened in the Chapin Gallery (Sawyer 406) and will be on view through October 11th. Its title is taken from a poem by Ben Jonson which appears in the famous 1623 First Folio collection of Shakespeare’s plays.

Drawn from the rich holdings of the Chapin Library, the exhibition features works by Shakespeare in original editions, including all of the Folios, the 1640 edition of Shakespeare’s Poems, and late 17th-century printings and adaptations of some of his plays. Also in the display are books which put Shakespeare in the context of English history and the theatres of London, works he used as source material for his plays, such as Holinshed’s Chronicles of 1577 and the 1579 North translation of Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, and writings by his contemporaries, such as Thomas Heywood and Christopher Marlowe.

Williams is fortunate to have many great books from the time of Elizabeth I and James I. While other institutions have borrowed a copy of the First Folio from the Folger Shakespeare Library to display during this anniversary year, the Chapin Library has had all four of the Folios, as well as the important second issue of the Third, in its collections since its founding, thanks to the generosity of Alfred C. Chapin, Williams Class of 1869.

Also on view, in the Steven Schow ’81 Gallery (Sawyer 455), is a selection of late 18th-century prints from John Boydell’s famous Shakespeare Gallery portfolio, depicting scenes and characters from Shakespeare’s plays.

The exhibition galleries of the Chapin Library and Williams College Archives are open to the public, free of charge, Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. – WGH

Constitution Conserved

Constitution Mason draft p1 detailWhen the Chapin Library’s draft printing of the U.S. Constitution was lent to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in 2014, to be displayed next to the Lincoln Cathedral copy of the Magna Charta, conservators expressed concern over a “fog” within our document’s protective frame of glass and Lexan polycarbonate. Their initial fear was that mold had formed, which might affect the four leaves of the document. Later, it was thought that the Lexan portion of the “sandwich” in which the document was contained had deteriorated due to age. We returned the Constitution to the “shrine” of the Founding Documents of the United States in the Chapin Gallery and spent some months considering the problem.

Finally this spring, we arranged to have the Constitution moved in its heavy frame to our conservation room on-site, there to be examined by staff from the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, led by Rebecca Johnston. We had already examined the document within its frame, and the construction of the frame itself, as far as this could be done externally and through archival records, and had discussed possibilities for re-mounting for greater stability and longevity.

On dismantling the frame, the Constitution was found to be unharmed, and the Lexan unblemished. The “fog” we had seen was simply a film on the inside of the external plate glass “skin”, possibly caused by infiltration of water vapor since the Founding Documents case was built in the 1980s. Conservators carefully removed the document from the thin piece of Lexan to which it had been affixed, and gently humidified and pressed it. High-resolution photographs were taken, using the reprographic camera recently acquired by the Chapin Library and College Archives from Digital Transitions. Finally, the four leaves of the Constitution were invisibly mounted between sheets of Optium museum-grade acrylic, and the ends of the sheets were carefully sealed. This new “sandwich” was put into the existing frame with the original plate glass panels and one of the Lexan panels, and the whole returned to the “shrine”. All moving and associated tasks were performed by staff from the Facilities Department of Williams College.

The beautifully clear result may be seen, with the other founding documents, in the Chapin Gallery (Sawyer Library 406), Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Declaration of Independence, which is framed similarly with glass and Lexan, has not developed the same issues. – WGH

Shown is a detail from the first printed leaf of the second draft printing of the U.S. Constitution, from the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, formerly owned by George Mason of Virginia.

Chapin in ScientEphic Blog

Elizabeth Jacobsen, Class of 2016, has published a fine article, “Chapin Rare Books Library Unites Science and History”, on the Williams College Science Blog, The ScientEphic. In addition to commenting on some of the ways the Chapin collections cross academic disciplines, Elizabeth’s post serves as a reminder that students and faculty in all departments of the Sciences are welcome to use our holdings for research and instruction. – WGH

Seeing the Light

Winsor and Newton specimens pl3The Chapin Library has opened its winter exhibition, Seeing the Light: Color in Theory and Practice.

Seeing the Light was inspired by a presentation given last term by Chapin Librarian Wayne Hammond with faculty member Beverly Acha for her Studio Art course in painting. Ms. Acha wanted to introduce her students to ways color has been explained before they used it in their work. Our selection of books and prints sparked a good discussion. Many of these are in the present display, now expanded to include other examples of color in practice.

The exhibition begins with a nod to the ancients and their influential philosophies about color. Artists, meanwhile, were concerned with more practical matters, as they dealt with pigments: Leonardo da Vinci, for example, considered white the source of color and black its absence, and yellow, green, blue, and red as the colors with which a painter has to work. In addition, Leonardo observed that color was subjective as perceived by the eye, varying not only with light and shadow but also distance from an object. In the 17th century, scientists such as Robert Hooke maintained that white light is given color by passing through a glass lens or prism, but in 1666 Isaac Newton used a prism to refract a narrow beam of sunlight, producing an elongated spectrum, and a second prism to recombine the colors back into the original white, showing that color is not produced by modifying light, but is contained within it.

Newton’s Opticks is one of the cornerstone books of color theory, along with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Theory of Colors and the Laws of Contrast of Color by Michel Eugène Chevreul. All three are in the Chapin Library and currently on display. With these in the exhibition are more contemporary resources such as T.M. Cleland’s classic Grammar of Color, a Horticultural Colour Chart, and a book on color instruction in public schools co-written by Louis Prang. Also on view are prints by Josef Albers from his Interaction of Color and Formulation, Articulation, which represent the most dramatic exploration of the art, science, and psychology of color in modern times.

To illustrate practical uses of color, Seeing the Light includes books ranging from a late 15th-century manuscript book of hours from the Attavanti workshop in Florence, to Jacob Bigelow’s American Medical Botany using color engravings, Walter Crane’s Baby’s Own Aesop printed from color woodblocks, an example of modern pochoir or stencil printing in colors, and Pauline Baynes’ Noah and the Ark to show the result of color printing by offset lithography compared with an original gouache painting for the book.

Seeing the Light: Color in Theory and Practice will be on display through March 25, 2016 in the Chapin Gallery (Sawyer Library Room 406). Hours are Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and admission is free. – WGH

Shown is a detail from one of the tint specimens contained in a circa 1924 booklet describing oil and watercolor paints sold by Winsor & Newton.

Remembering Chapin Donors

Earlier in this space, we paid our respects to J. Brooks Hoffman, M.D., Class of 1940, an important donor of Americana to the Chapin Library. The latest number of Williams People reminds us also to remember three other recently deceased alumni who had been good friends of the Chapin Library and their alma mater:

Ralph R. Renzi, Class of 1943, who passed away October 10, 2015, worked with Prof. Frederick Rudolph, Class of 1942, to create an archive of filmmaker and author John Sayles ’72, to which Mr. Sayles himself later added.

Henry N. Flynt, Jr., Class of 1944, who died July 11, 2015, made numerous donations to the Chapin Library of literary and historical materials, some of which had been collected by his mother, beginning in 1979 with manuscripts of John Masefield.

John C. Walsh, Class of 1954, who passed away June 2, 2015, established the Chapin Library’s Winston Churchill Collection in 1992 and provided funds for additions over the next several years.

We will be forever grateful to these friends for their support of the continuing educational mission of the Chapin Library and Williams College. – WGH