Shakespeare’s Source for Romeo and Juliet

By:  Kevin Grace

“For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

Romeo and Juliet illustrationThose are the final lines in Romeo and Juliet. The young lovers are dead, victims of their own passion and the enmity between the Capulets and the Montagues.  Though their story is set in Renaissance Verona, it could be a tale told in any culture around the world in any era of humankind.  For all the literary genius of William Shakespeare, scholars have long known that many of his plays were re-workings of stories he heard and historical accounts he read during his lifetime.  Whether it was for Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III, Othello, or others, Shakespeare adapted these accounts for his stage in the late 16th and early 17th centuries that now have been performed countless times for more than 400 years, and over those centuries his own words have been adapted time and again.   To see King Lear presented in England or Ireland is not the same as seeing it performed in South Africa or India or China.  And of course, to see it once in England or America is not the same as seeing it once again on what might be the same stage in the same year.  William Shakespeare’s plays are paragons of beautiful language, infinite interpretation, and above all, compelling stories.

Shakespeare Extra Illustrated

Continue reading Shakespeare’s Source for Romeo and Juliet

Bernstein, Shakespeare, Preservation Photographs and Dedicated Staff are All Featured in the Latest Issue of Source

source headerRead Source, the online newsletter, to learn more about the news, events, people and happenings in UC Libraries.

In this edition of Source we celebrate Leonard Bernstein at 100 with news of an exhibit on display in the Walter C. Langsam Library. Dean Xuemao Wang writes about how the occasion of the university’s upcoming Bicentennial has led him to reflect on the contributions of four staff members retiring this fall. We announce two grants received by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine that will promote good data and good health.

University archivist and head of the Archives and Rare Books Library Kevin Grace teaches readers and students in his honors class about Extra-Illustrated Editions. Jessica Ebert, lead photographic technician in the Preservation Lab writes about her work creating visual representations of the conservation treatments performed, and housing created, in the Lab. Mike Braunlin of the John Miller Burnam Classics Library offers his experience and insights gained working in the library for 42 years. The UC Foundation writes about a unique collection gifted to the Libraries from two former professors. Lastly, the annual Books by the Banks: Cincinnati USA Books Festival, of which UC Libraries is an organizing partner, is announced in this issue.

Read these articles, as well as past issues, on the web at http://libapps.libraries.uc.edu/source/ and via e-mail. To receive Source via e-mail, contact melissa.norris@uc.edu to be added to the mailing list.

Edward Locker’s 19th Century Views of Spain

By:  Savannah Gulick, Archives & Rare Books Library Student Assistant

Title Page, Edward LockerOne of the collecting areas of the Rare Books Collection in the Archives & Rare Books Library is early travel and exploration.  Though this area of the holdings ranges from the 16th century to the 20th, many of the travel accounts are illustrated volumes from the 19th century.  During the Peninsular War (1808-1813) that was fought between Napoleon and Spain against Great Britain and Portugal for the control of the Iberian Peninsula, the English watercolorist and civil secretary of 1st Viscount Exmouth Edward Pellew, Edward Hawke Locker, recorded his tour of Spain through watercolors and etchings. Following his appointment as civil commissioner of Greenwich Hospital, Locker proceeded to publish his account in Views of Spain (1824).

Locker, the youngest son of Captain William Locker, was born on October 9, 1777 in Kent. He entered the military following an education at Eton in 1795 at the naval pay office. From that point forward, he would secure a series of promotions until his retirement as civil commissioner Palenciain 1844 when he suffered a mental breakdown. Remembered as a man of varied talents, Locker was a skilled artist and a smooth conversationalist, and, was a fellow of the Royal Society. His pictorial tour of Spain is just one of his many illustrated works documenting his travels abroad. The British Empire and travel literature in the 19th century often go hand in hand as many of Britain’s skilled officers were sent on foreign tours and often documented their exotic travels (see account of India: http://libapps.libraries.uc.edu/liblog/2018/05/art-and-empire-in-nineteenth-century-india/). Continue reading Edward Locker’s 19th Century Views of Spain

Ohio Digital Newspapers & Chronicling America Presentation in ARB on Thursday July 26

Come hear about Ohio’s digital newspaper project and learn how to freely access historic newspapers from around the country.

When:  Thursday July 26 from 11:00am-12:30pm

Where:  Archives and Rare Books Library, Seminar Room 814

Westliche Blatter mastheadDid you know that 90 Ohio newspapers including foreign language papers have been digitized and are now part of the Library of Congress’ free newspaper database Chronicling America?  Learn how to access the over 13 million pages of historic newspapers from 47 states and territories covering 1789-1963 on Chronicling America.  Jenni Salamon, Coordinator for the Ohio Digital Newspaper Program, and Bronwyn Benson, Quality Control Technician, from the Ohio History Connection will demonstrate basic and advanced search strategies and how to work with your results to find information about local, state, national and international events, people, places and culture. They will also provide a brief overview newspaper digitization process and an update on the digitization of Ohio’s foreign language newspapers.

The Colored Citizen mastheadTreasures from the Archives and Rare Books Library collections including items from the German Americana collection that complement the digitized newspapers will be available for viewing before and after the presentation.

 

Art and Empire in Nineteenth-Century India

By:  Alia Levar Wegner

Travel literature in 19th-century India was closely linked to the British empire. Behind every picture was an army. This is especially true of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Ramus Forrest’s illustrated book, A Picturesque Tour Along the Rivers Ganges and Jumna, In India, (SpecCol RB Oversize DS408 .F65) published in 1824.

Picturesque Tour Title Page
Title page of A picturesque tour along the rivers Ganges and Jumna, in India. (Spec Coll RB Oversize DS408 .F65)

Continue reading Art and Empire in Nineteenth-Century India

Exploring Tagalog Grammar

By:  Alia Levar Wegner, ARB Intern

The University of Cincinnati’s Archives & Rare Books Library holds a rare first edition of Sebastián de Totanes’s Tagalog grammar, Arte de la lengua tagala y manual tagalog para la administración de los Santos Sacramentos.  Printed entirely on rice paper and bound in vellum, this book served as a Tagalog language primer for Spanish missionaries.

Tagalog Grammar Cover and Title Page

Left:  Vellum cover of Arte de la lengua tagala (PL6053 .T7 1745),  Right: Title page

Continue reading Exploring Tagalog Grammar

In Times Like These

By:  Kevin Grace

Puppets from Ridley Walker PlayOne of the most in-the-news phrases of this past year has been “fake news.”  Every political point of view has employed it to the point where the first reactions among readers and listeners to current events has a question in mind, “Is this real information?”  And in times of political or social stress, there is a mounting trepidation over who controls information, or, who preserves it.  Librarians are often in the forefront of acquiring information, protecting it from those who would alter or destroy it, and preserving it for now and for the future.  The sources of information, of knowledge, continue to grow exponentially and in our rapidly changing technological world, much of it disappears.  As websites continue to grow – and to disappear through political exigencies – the expertise of librarians and archivists are called upon, a recent example of which is illustrated in a science article on web discovery and preservation: https://apps.sciencefriday.com/data/librarians.html. Continue reading In Times Like These

Rare Book Occasional – Scroll of Esther

By: Alia Levar Wegner, ARB Intern, 2017-2018

The inaugural post of the new Rare Book Occasional looks at the Archives and Rare Books Library’s two manuscript copies of the Scroll of Esther (Megillat Esther). Produced sometime in the 18th- and 19th centuries, these parchment scrolls illustrate the ritual importance of scroll reading in Judaism.

The Book of Esther holds a prominent position in the Jewish faith, as it is one of the Five Megillot, or five scrolls that mark particular festival or fast days in the Jewish calendar. This important Biblical book recounts Esther’s role in securing the salvation of the Persian Jews, and its recitation marks a day of joyous celebration for Jewish people. Esther scrolls are traditionally read twice during the festival of Purim, once in the morning and again in the evening.

Scroll of EstherScroll of Esther opened

Top:  Scroll of Esther (Ms. no. 22), before treatment,  Bottom: Scroll open to the names of Haman’s sons (Esther 9:7,9). Photos: Jessica Ebert

The materiality of the Scroll of Esther forms an important part of its religious significance. Early rabbinical writers composed rules regulating its production and public recitation. According to rabbinic tradition, the ceremonial Scroll of Esther can only be handwritten on parchment with ink using the square Hebrew script. Esther scrolls are also distinguished by their arrangement on a single dowel. These rabbinical prescriptions continued to influence the scroll’s material construction in more contemporary times, as illustrated by the Archives and Rare Books Library’s 18th– and late 19th-century Esther scrolls. In accordance with tradition, these scrolls are handwritten on vellum in the traditional script.

Featured here are images of one of the Library’s Esther scrolls that recently underwent conservation to repair small tears and damage to the parchment (Ms. no. 22). The scroll was rehoused on two dowels to enable the manuscript to be safely viewed.

Additional information about the conservation process can be found here.

Scroll of Esther

Scroll of Esther (Ms. no. 22), after treatment. Photo: Jessica Ebert

For more information on this and other items at the Archives and Rare Books Library, visit us on the 8th floor of Blegen Library, call us at 513.556.1959, email us at archives@ucmail.uc.edu, view our website at http://libraries.uc.edu/arb.html, and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ArchivesRareBooksLibraryUniversityOfCincinnati.

Scottish Ghoulies

By:  Kevin Grace

 

  Infernal Gods, who rule the shades below,

Chaos and Phlegethon, ye realms of woe,

Grant what I have heard I may to light expose

Secrets which earth, and night, and hell inclose.

North Berkwick Witches tried before King James

The verse comes from an 18th century book in the Archives & Rare Books Library that purports to document true accounts of the supernatural, most of them from the Scottish highlands.  Of course, every country and culture has its own ghosts and witches, and Scotland has a wonderfully rich heritage of “long-leggedy beasties.”  Which notion, of course, points to the spookiest of goodnight prayers, the Scots’ traditional plea for safety in their beds:

From ghoulies and ghosties

And long-leggedy beasties

And things that go bump in the night

Good Lord, deliver us!

Title page - The History of Witches, Ghosts, and Highland SeersThis small poetic digression aside, our book of spectres and succubi came from the press of Robert Taylor of Berwick-on-Tweed.  Berwick was one of those towns caught between the Kingdoms of Scotland and England during the frequent border wars, but finally became a part of England in 1482.  Located in Northumberland, it is the northernmost town in England, but centuries later it still maintains a strong Scottish identity.  Taylor was active as a printer in Scotland and England from 1717-1779, and is credited with setting up the first printing press in Berwick in 1753.  In 1775, he published The History of Witches, Ghosts, and Highland Seers: Containing Many Wonderful Well-Attested Relations of Supernatural Appearances, Not Published Before in Any Similar Collection Designed for the Conviction of the Unbeliever, and the Amusement of the Curious.

One wonders a bit about that “Not Published Before…” statement in regard to Taylor.  Copyright was still a fluid concept in some English courts, and Taylor sometimes stood accused of pilfering from fellow printers.  Ten years after History of Witches was printed, Taylor would lose a lawsuit brought Berwick early pressagainst him by another printer on his publishing of a poetry book, The Seasons by James Thomson.  Nevertheless, the full weighty title gives weight to the content.  These were ghost stories intended to frighten the reader.  And, to put the fear of God in the souls and minds of non-believers who, in the words of Taylor, say such tales “are the invention of enthusiasm, and a crazy disordered imagination.”  There are 86 stories in his gathering, several of them from the Continent and many of them accounts of witches, of “second sight,” and of appearances by apparitions.  There are titles such as “The Daemon of Glenluce, in Galloway, in Scotland” and “The Dream of Lauchlan McKinnon.”

The tradition of witchcraft and ghosts in Berwick was a very long one.  In 1590, there were notorious witch trials in North Berwick that lasted for more than two years and involved more than 70 accused people.  According to the trials, the witches held their covens on Auld Kirk Green near the harbor.  Taken to the Old Tollbooth in Edinburgh and tortured, many of the accused were forced to confessed to consorting with the Devil.  The trials became quite famous and William Shakespeare even adapted some of the supposed “rituals” brought out in court for his play Macbeth.

Apparition to King James

Robert Clark Collection book plateAll in all, Taylor printed a lovely little book!  The copy in the Archives & Rare Books Library (call number SpecCol RB BF1411.H4 1775) is from the Robert Clarke Collection, the first collection of books that formed the University of Cincinnati Libraries and it has been nicely rebound in red cloth.  Taylor finished his preface to the book with this statement: “Let the aetheists, if there are any, the deists, free-thinkers, and infidel rakes read it and tremble.”

And we conclude here with another little verse:

 

Say, can you laugh indignant at the schemes

Of magick terrours, visionary dreams,

Portentous wonders, witching imps of Hell,

The nightly goblin and enchanting spell?

 

Happy Halloween!

The Archives & Rare Books Library’s Current Desiderata

By:  Kevin Grace

Gulliver's Travels, illustration by RackhamAs we are continually building the collections of the Archives & Rare Books Library in our areas of strength and making them more accessible for teaching and research, we know there are vital monographs or documents we would always like to acquire.  In some cases, our rare book budget will accommodate some special items, but when it comes to archival materials – and many rare books – we depend on the kindness of friends and strangers.  Our most current desiderata outlines some of the books and papers we are seeking, everything from documenting everyday lives in our German Americana Collection through cookbooks and organizational archives to rare books that strengthen our Shakespeare collection and our illustrated myth and legend holdings.  And of course, we always welcome Mick and Mackthe records of University of Cincinnati student organizations.

William ShakespeareThe items we list as desired acquisitions are primary resources in areas that are heavily used not only by UC students and faculty but by global scholars and the general public as well.  To view the list, go to http://libraries.uc.edu/arb/collections/desiderata.html and to learn more about the collections of the Archives & Rare Books Library and how to effectively use them in the classroom, in research, or in publications, call us at 513.556.1959, email ARB at archives@ucmail.uc.edu, have a look at our website at http://libraries.uc.edu/arb.html, follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ArchivesRareBooksLibraryUniversityOfCincinnati, or visit us on the 8th floor of Blegen Library.