Category: Closed Collection

Blog Archives

Halloween Hoodoo

"To catch a spirit, or to protect your spirit against catching, or to release you caught spirit – this is the complete theory and practice of hoodoo."

The above quote opens the five volume set of books entitled Hoodoo–conjuration–witchcraft–rootwork : beliefs accepted by many Negroes and white persons, these being orally recorded among Blacks and whites by Harry M. Hyatt that can be found in Special Collections.  Published in 1970, these books represent the culmination of years of interviews conducted by the author over a large portion of the Southern United States.

Not to be confused (as it commonly is), with voodoo or vodou, which are both religions derived from West African religions with a dash of Christianity thrown in, hoodoo is often classified as folk magic and is practiced mainly in the Southern United States.  The difference between hoodoo and voodoo and vodou is similar to the distinction between Wicca and witchcraft.  Also similar to Wicca and witchcraft is the fact that people often use all these terms interchangeably, though they have different meanings. Thus, one can belong to the voodoo religion and practice hoodoo, but they don't have to, and vice versa.

In hoodoo, a practitioner draws upon the spiritual power residing within them to perform a ritual to bring about power or success.  Today's mainstream culture often portrays hoodoo as a negative thing because of the common misconception that all who practice it are greedy or corrupt.

Hoodoo–conjuration–witchcraft–rootwork is a record of people's interactions with hoodoo, containing many accounts about how the interviewee was affected by a conjure or how someone they knew was affected.  One woman relates the experience she had when her neighbor put a conjure on her by burying a bottle containing  sulfur, hair, a bluestone, and roots of some sort.  According to her, this was the reason she was unable to stay up past ten o'clock each night.  She proceeds to relate how she destroyed the bottle and its contents and was able to stay up much later the following night while the next day the woman next door had to go to the hospital due to a major problem with her leg.  Another interviewee tells the author about a common practice of putting sulfur and ashes from the fireplace in a bag and keeping it in your pocket to ward off those that would do you harm.

Whether or not you believe that hoodoo works, these books make for interesting reading and are a comprehensive relation of a common practice here in the United States that most of us are largely unfamiliar with.  So if you get a chance between your Halloween celebrations, come see us at Special Collections where you can find the books mentioned here along with many others!

 

"Difference Between Hoodoo and Voodoo | Difference Between | Hoodoo vs Voodoo." Difference Between Hoodoo and Voodoo | Difference Between | Hoodoo vs Voodoo. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. <http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/culture-miscellaneous/difference-between-hoodoo-and-voodoo/>.
"Haitian_Vodou." Reference.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. <http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Haitian_Vodou>.
"Louisiana_Voodoo." Reference.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. <http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Louisiana_Voodoo>.

 

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Closed Collection, Special Collections

The Importance of Thomas Bodley 400 Years Later

Thomas Bodley 1545-1613

Thomas Bodley 1545-1613

Today marks the 400th anniversary of Thomas Bodley’s death.   Although his name is not as well known on this side of the Atlantic, Bodley’s contribution to research and learning has had lasting impacts in the English-speaking world for centuries.

Though English, Bodley spent his childhood and adolescence abroad in Europe.  He had the misfortune to be born into a Protestant family in the last year of the reign of Henry VIII in 1545.  After the short reign of Henry’s son, Edward, Mary took the throne and spent the entire five years of her reign persecuting Protestants.  His family escaped to mainland Europe, and there, Bodley studied under the tutelage of John Calvin in Switzerland and attended services by John Knox.  When Mary died and was succeeded by Queen Elizabeth, the family returned and Bodley enrolled in Magdalen College at Oxford University.

A Catalogue of the Several Pictures, Statues, and Busts, in the Picture Gallery, Bodleian Library, and Ashmolean Museum, at Oxford.

A Catalogue of the Several Pictures, Statues, and Busts, in the Picture Gallery, Bodleian Library, and Ashmolean Museum, at Oxford.

After finishing college, his career took him to Parliament and eventually he served as a diplomat and sent on secret missions to the Netherlands, France, and Denmark.  In 1596, he returned home and settled back in Oxford.  Two years later, Bodley was given a large dinner in his honor.  It is speculated that it was that fateful evening in 1598 when 53 year-old Thomas Bodley, while speaking to old friends and colleagues, came up with the inspiration to do one last project that would make his name live on 400 years later.

Over 120 years earlier, the main library at Oxford University had been presented as a gift from Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester.  However, after Queen Elizabeth had ascended to the throne, the library had been stripped and abandoned.  In 1598, after the dinner in his honor, Bodley determined to restore the library and spend the rest of his life working in it.  Oxford immediately and graciously accepted his offer.  In 1600, Bodley began collecting books to donate to the library that would use his name.

To motivate others to donate money and books, he created a large book bound in

The Book of Hours

Noah's Ark from The Book of Hours

vellum, a “Benefactor’s Book”, which would remain on display in the center of the library.  The book would contain the names of all those who had contributed to the library.  This novel idea is used to this day in libraries around the world.

 

The Bodleian Library is one of six legal deposit libraries in the United Kingdom and Ireland.  A copy of every book, CD-Rom, website, and other public materials published in the UK and Ireland is deposited at the Bodleian.  As such, space is limited and larger facilities are used as depositories to hold all of the materials the Bodleian possesses.  Some of the treasures of the Bodleian include a copy of the Magna Carta, one of 42 complete 1455 Gutenberg Bibles still in existence, the Ashmole manuscripts, the Song of Roland, the Book of Hours (shown here) and the Codex Bodley.

Special Collections has various items relating to the Bodleian Library and its long history.  The items depicted in this blog post are all materials you can find by visiting us up on the 4th Floor West in Ellis Library.  We would be happy to help you and answer any questions you might have.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Closed Collection, Rare Book Collection, Special Collections

Gardens in Special Collections

June is prime time for gardeners in Missouri, and it’s also a great time to take a look at the rare and historic horticulture and gardening books in Special Collections.  Since MU has a long history as an agriculture school, Special Collections has a great collection of these early texts on plants, gardening, and landscape design.

The Edible Garden

Peach, from Charles Hovey's Fruits of America (New York, 1856).The last decade has seen a renewed interest in local and sustainable food, including vegetable gardening and heritage or heirloom varieties.  The absence of pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers and modern machinery in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries meant that kitchen and market gardeners had to be experts in the care of a wide variety of food crops. Advice for gardeners from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries contains information on historic plant varieties as well as natural solutions to problems with climate, soils, and pests.

 

Fruit tree branches in flower, from Batty Langley's Pomona, or, The fruit-garden illustrated (London, 1729) Love-apples, or tomatoes, from John Abercrombie's The complete kitchen gardner, and hot-bed forcer (London, 1789).

The Flower Garden

A blue gentian, from Curtis' Botanical Magazine (v. 1-4, 1787-1791)The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw the introduction of a number of new flowering plants as botanists and nurserymen identified foreign species and developed hybrids.  Although color publications such as Curtis’s Botanical Magazine remained popular through the period, most gardeners learned about new flowers through descriptions or black and white plates.  Botanical gardens such as the Royal Gardens at Kew became popular spots for the public to see exotic and colorful plants in person.

A seventeenth-century flower garden, from Crispijn van de Passe's Hortus Floridus (Arnhem, 1616) Tulips, from Crispijn van de Passe's Hortus Floridus (Arnhem, 1616)

The Park

"Before" view (with flap closed), from Humphry Repton's Observations on the theory and practice of landscape gardening (London, 1803)Garden design has changed dramatically from the formalized symmetry of Italian and French gardens to the informal plantings of today.  In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, English gardeners began to break away from the geometrical patterns of Renaissance knot gardens and Baroque parterres.  Instead, the new garden style focused on creating picturesque, naturalistic views.  Landscape architects during this period sought to shape the landscape without the outward appearance of control, creating “natural” scenery too perfect to exist in nature.

"After" view (with flap open), from Humphry Repton's Observations on the theory and practice of landscape gardening (London, 1803)

More Information

Search for Gardening, Fruit, Botany, or Landscape architecture in the MERLIN catalog.  Limit your search to Special Collections to find more primary sources on historic gardens and gardening practices.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Closed Collection, Rare Book Collection
Archives

Special Collections and Rare Books


Find Us on Facebook