The photograph collections in Rare Books and Manuscripts offer students a strong historical survey of processes and movements, from daguerreotypes to modern digital prints, as well as selections by some of the most recognized names in the medium. Researchers are less likely to know about the less aesthetic and more purely historical collections, such as those documenting life in central Ohio in the early twentieth century, or the experiences of soldiers and researchers outside of Ohio. On this anniversary of the San Francisco earthquake we call your attention to a collection of photographs taken by individuals living in that city, who responded immediately to the devastation around them.
View Towards Market Street
This collection of well over 100 images was created by DeWitt C. Morrill, brother of Mrs. Frank H. Haskett, former University photographer, and son of Harrison D. Morrill, alumni secretary of OSU, whose 1925 funeral was presided over by President William Oxley Thompson.
Looking Toward Market Street from Howard and Third (to the south)
DeWitt took photographs as he wandered the city immediately after the earthquake, and kept careful notes, which he entitled “Notebook of a Refugee of the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of April 18th, 1906.” He rounded out his historical collection with post cards and additional photographs from the Pillsbury Picture Company, established earlier that year by Arthur C. Pillsbury (perhaps a friend). While many photographs of the San Francisco Earthquake are available at other institutions, the notes taken by D.C. Morrill, and the identifications on the versos of his photographic prints bring an added value to this collection.
Wholesale District, Corner of Sansome and Pine
Please stop by Thompson Library room 150 from 2-6 PM on Wednesday afternoon, March 23, to see a large selection of artists’ books on display. Artists’ books have been a collection focus for both the Fine Arts librarians and Rare Books curators for decades, and as a result, the collection is quite extensive. We can’t possibly pull them all out for you, but there will very likely be something available to please every visitor. Be sure to inquire about the new acquisitions!
Stop by next Thursday afternoon to take a look at some examples of the impressive photograph collections held by OSU Libraries, and housed in Thompson Library Special Collections. I think you’ll be surprised by the range – including art photography, celebrity portraits, scientific experimentation and social documentary, dating from the very beginnings of the medium through the present day. You’ll see some big names that you recognize, and learn some new ones that you’ll want to remember.
The open house runs from 1-5 p.m. March 3 in Room 150 of the Thompson Library, 1858 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210.
Download a full-size PDF of the flyer to share.
Who doesn’t love the imagery of the Nuremberg Chronicle, taking us through the history of the Christian west from Genesis through the lives of the saints up to the reign of Maximilian I, and introducing us to exotic places in the world of the late fifteenth-century? There are digitized copies available online, such as that owned by The University of Cambridge, but those are deluxe painted versions. Our copy was not painted, and in addition, received a cleaning as part of a preservation project in 1999. The selection of images that we offer are fresh and clean and ready for your colored pencils. Enjoy!
Today we’ll dip into our huge and wonderful collection of historic trade catalogs and find some fashions from the turn of the century – not this century, mind you, but the late nineteenth- and early twentieth- centuries.
To be fair, some boys’ and mens’ wear have also been included, but the shading tends to be rather dark, so perhaps not the best for coloring. However, you might be amused by the “university” and “fraternity” clothes. Here’s your coloring book of the day. These are all everyday garments, from mail order catalogs, not illustrations from the high fashion magazines of the time. Have fun!
Today’s coloring pages come to you from the late sixteenth-century Herball Or Generall Historie of Plantes by John Gerard. We’ve made a PDF for you to print out as a coloring book. The frontispiece is lush and detailed, so we left it relatively intact for you to admire. The rigid garden layout represented in the oval frame at the bottom was the standard, unlike our more meandering, seemingly “natural” flower garden designs.
The individual images have been stripped down to black and white for easy coloring. Some of the nicest images we could not provide because an earlier owner of the book could not resist, and painted them! (As you can see, the edges of the title page were repaired since the book was so well worn from use.) There are many more illustrations, and of course, a descriptive text. Let us know if you’d like to see it sometime.
How often have you eyed an attractive engraved frontispiece in an old book and thought to yourself that it might be fun to take some colored pencils or markers to it? Of course we don’t permit such acts of vandalism in the Special Collections reading room! Yet Special Collections around the world are inviting readers to “Color our Collections” this week by providing scans of selected works in black and white as “special” coloring books for adults, and encouraging artists to post the results on Twitter, with the hash tag #ColorOurCollections. Today we offer to you a PDF of selected fantasy fireplace designs dreamed up by the 18th century artist, Piranesi, from the huge volume opened below (we faded them out a bit though, so that your beautiful colors shine through): https://library.osu.edu/downloads/rarebooks/images/PiranesiColoringPages-OSU_Special_Collections.pdf
Check back tomorrow to see what else we’ve got for you!
On this day after the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing we might turn our thoughts to post World War II Japan, the subject matter of a collection of photographs donated to Rare Books and Manuscripts in 2003 by anthropologist John W. Bennett. His photographs document the period 1948-1951. They were published, along with excerpts from his journals and other textual material, as an online exhibition: “Doing Photography and Social Research in the Allied Occupation of Japan, 1948-1951: A Personal and Professional Memoir” ( http://library.osu.edu/projects/bennett-in-japan/ )
The photographs have been the focus of considerable interest since made available to the public. Most recently they were the subject of an article by Morris Low – “American Photography during the Allied Occupation of Japan: The Work of John W. Bennett,” The History of Photography: An International Quarterly 39 no. 3 (2015): 263-278. This was just published in a special issue of The History of Photography entitled “American Photography in the Asia-Pacific.”
John W. Bennett, “The Rice Ration in Suburban Tokyo”
(from a selection of Urban Images)
From Astrology to Astronomy: Cassini Maps the Stars
Abregé des observations & des reflexions svr la comete qui a paru au mois de decembre 1680, & aux mois de ianveir, fevrier, & mars de cette Anneé 1681 was the first book I examined as I began working on the Provenance Project. It is an account of observations of the path of a comet recorded over several months. The author, Giovanni Domenico Cassini (also known by the French translation of his name, Jean-Dominque Cassini), was a 17th century astronomer. He was born in Italy but eventually moved to France where he became a citizen (Zimmerman, 2012). Cassini’s interest in astronomy derived from his study of astrology. He was appointed a position at the Panzano Observatory in Bologna and later became a professor at the University of Bologna. Cassini was known for many things including his observations of comets, planets, and orbital patterns. He was also a knowledgeable mathematician and engineer (Zimmerman, 2012). He believed that the Earth was the center of the universe, which was reflected in his work. He was the first to calculate the rotation of Jupiter and Mars and to see the spots and moons of Jupiter. At the request of Louis XIV, Cassini moved to Paris to become head of the Paris Observatory where he made more significant discoveries such as finding four moons of Saturn and a gap in Saturn’s rings that has since been named the Cassini Division (O’Connor & Robertson, 2003). His son eventually took over his position at the Paris Observatory. Cassini started a family legacy of astronomers, and his influence continues to inspire scientists.
RBMS’ copy of the book, Abregé des observations & des reflexions svr la comete qui a paru au mois de decembre 1680, & aux mois de ianveir, fevrier, & mars de cette Anneé 1681, is a beautiful book with its gilded, leather binding, decorative borders, and detailed illustrations. Some of the most fascinating parts of the book are the three foldouts. The first is a chart of the path of the comet with an illustration of a winged foot. The second is a map of constellations and stars. The third is another chart. The book was one of two works printed at E. Michallet, a publisher that appears to have specialized in scientific work, in that year (Open Library).
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
While working on the Provenance Project, I was fortunate to come across a copy of Stephen Hawking’s book, A Brief History of Time, in pristine condition. It is not part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection but is actually part of the collection belonging to the Theater Research Institute. I thought it seemed a relevant topic, nonetheless, with the release of the movie, The Theory of Everything, based on a book written by Hawking’s ex-wife, Jane Wilde, about their life together. It occurred to me that the movie has most likely renewed interest in the work. From my personal observations, this seems to be the case. I cannot speak on a national or global level, but when I attempted to check out a copy of the book from my public library, every copy in the system was already on loan. Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to feature some elements of the book that has attracted such a large audience. (See Coyle for more information about the importance of the book.)
Stephen Hawking began his work in physics in the 1960’s and has continued to contribute to the field despite suffering with Lou Gehrig’s disease. The book was first published in 1988 by Bantam Books and was a best seller. It presents some of science’s most fascinating questions in a way that is accessible to the everyday reader. This is a major factor in the book’s ongoing success, selling over 10 million copies, as well as turning Hawking into “a curious kind of cultural icon” (Benford, 2002, Coyle; BBC page). In fact, in an article written about the book for the Wall Street Journal, Hawking talks about what a long and arduous process it was to complete the book and how surprised he was at its immediate success. Hawking states that, “It was on the New York Times best-seller list for 147 weeks and on the London Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks, has been translated into 40 languages, and has sold over 10 million copies world-wide” (Hawking, 2013).
The book, in itself, is a fascinating object. A photograph of Hawking sitting in front of a starry background graces the front of both copies held in Special Collections, the book jacket of the original edition and the updated paperback from 1998. Inside there are numerous illustrations, graphs, and diagrams to enjoy. Interestingly, when discussing the reasons people have purchased the book, Hawking claims that some have admitted that they just thought it would look nice on their bookshelf or coffee table (Hawking, 2013).