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>.

 

Happy Birthday Arthur Rackham!

Last week marked the 146th anniversary of the birth of Arthur Rackham, illustrator extraordinaire. Best known for his work on children's books, fairytales, and classics, Arthur Rackham's distinctive style continues to be recognized and admired by modern illustrators, art lovers, and readers alike.

Arthur Rackham was born on September 19, 1867 to Anne and Alfred Rackham.  One of twelve children, Arthur grew up to follow in his father's footsteps and began work as a clerk with an insurance company when he was eighteen.  He soon grew bored with that and began taking night classes at a nearby art school.  In 1892, he began work as a full time illustrator with the Westminster Budget where his drawings of everyday life in London and famous personalities were a hit.  They were so popular that he often was assigned to draw royal events, such as the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of York in 1893, who would later be known as King George V and Queen Mary.

As photography began to become more popular in the newspapers, Rackham turned to book illustrations, contributing for several travel books and developing his style by contributing to other works before his first major success in the form of the illustrated Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales in 1900.  The book that really put him on the map, as it were, was his 1905 illustrated Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving.  In this book, Rackham's iconic style is fully developed and becomes enormously popular with each successive year seeing at least one new work published with illustrations by Arthur Rackham.

Rackham is known for various elements that combine in his work such as:

  • flowing lines
  • muted watercolors
  • backgrounds with hidden images or "surprising information"
  • a balance between sensuousness and chastity in his fairies and nymphs
  • just the right amount of ugliness to not be frightening in his trolls
  • forests filled with twisted trees
  • the juxtaposition of the frightening with the beautiful in a single image

In addition to his stunning watercolor prints, Rackham would more frequently do black and white line drawings.  Occasionally he would experiment with silhouette, and this is showcased beautifully in his illustrated The Sleeping Beauty (shown below).

The Sleeping Beauty

Rackham continued his illustrative work until his death from cancer on September 6, 1939.  His last work, completed just before his death, was an illustrated Wind in the Willows that was published posthumously in 1940.

We have a wide range of books and folios showcasing Arthur Rackham's work, including those from the Limited Editions Club and some first editions.  So if you get the chance, come celebrate the life of one of the most beloved children's/fairytale illustrators with us here at Special Collections.

Sources used:

"About Arthur Rackham." The Arthur Rackham Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2013. <http://arthur-rackham-society.org/about_the_artist.html>. 
"Arthur Rackham." Arthur Rackham. N.p., 1998. Web. 16 Sept. 2013. <http://www.bpib.com/illustrat/rackham.htm>.
"Rackham 101." Aleph-Bet Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2013. <http://www.alephbet.com/arthur-rackham-101.php>.
Scott, LaRue. "Arthur Rackham Illustrations." British Heritage 24.4 (2003): 52. EBSCOhost. Web. 18 Sept. 2013. <http://ehis.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=9321715c-f7d8-456c-a626-c6de6fb3fc32%40sessionmgr11&vid=1&hid=5&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=f5h&AN=9676268>.

Author Self-Portrait:

http://www.art-prints-on-demand.com/kunst/arthur_rackham/self_portrait.jpg

I Scream, You Scream…

Ice Cream and Sherbets cover
Cover from an ice cream freezer manual
We all scream for ice cream!  With 90% of Americans enjoying the cold dessert, it's no wonder that Ronald Reagan declared July National Ice Cream Month back in 1984.  In addition, the third Sunday of July was proclaimed National Ice Cream Day to be celebrated "with appropriate ceremonies and activities."  So today, get out and cool off with some of America's favorite dessert and learn more about the history of ice cream with us here at Special Collections.

Roman Snow Runner
Depiction of a Roman snow runner
The history of ice cream can be traced as far back as the 4th century B.C., where legend has it that Alexander the Great, the famous conqueror and ruler of one of the largest empires in history, enjoyed iced beverages made of snow, honey, and nectar that were the predecessor to the ice cream we enjoy today.  These earlier forms of ice cream were mostly enjoyed by the noble class, with recipes being closely guarded secrets.  Iced desserts developed independently of each other in the Roman Empire and the Orient. Nero, the emperor of Rome from 54-68 A.D., had snow for these treats carried by runners from the Alps to Rome with severe punishments for those who failed to make it back before the snow melted.

Marco Polo is often credited with bringing sherbet and ice recipes to Europe after having learned them on his famous voyages.  These were again kept mostly by the royals and others in the higher tiers of nobility.  Some of these recipes may have been known to the English royalty earlier, as there are reports of Richard the Lionhearted eating sherbets in 1191 while on a Holy Crusade.

When people realized that adding salt to snow and ice helped to increase the coldness and help keep it, clever chefs now had more freedom than ever to experiment with different flavors and mixtures.  The French chef Jacques, from the court of Charles of England and Vatel, the chef of King Louis XVI have both been cited among the inventors of cream ice which, with the help of the Germans, Spanish, Italians, and possibly the Scandinavians, contributed to what became known as ice cream when these recipes came to America, where it was further influenced mostly by English and French methods.

The first written evidence of ice cream in America comes from a letter written May 17, 1744 by a guest of Governor Bladen of Maryland that describes this curious ice cream treat.  In the latter half of the 18th century, ice cream's popularity really picked up with those that could afford it, including such well-known figures as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

wonder freezer
The ‘Wonder’ Freezer, with improved covered gear
Ice cream continued to gain popularity in the early 1800s with the invention of better ice cream freezers and improved ice harvesting and storing techniques.  Commercial ice cream really took off after Jacob Fussell established the first wholesale ice cream factory in Baltimore in 1851, also making the U.S. the leading country in the manufacture and consumption of ice cream, which it still is today.  Inventions such as the ice cream cone at the 1904 World's Fair continued to help ice cream become the immensely popular treat it is today.

Chocolate Ice Cream Research
The effect of varying the sugar and chocolate liquor content on the stability of chocolate ice cream
Here at Mizzou, the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources has long been a big name in ice cream research.  With noted researchers Professor William Henry Eddie Reid, Wendell Arbuckle, and Robert T. Marshall all contributing at some point to the research done here on campus on things such as the freezing properties, stability, and physical qualities of chocolate ice cream and modern trends in retail ice cream stores.  Reid went on to consult with Baskin Robbins while Arbuckle and Marshall literally wrote the book on ice cream (Ice Cream by Arbuckle and Marshall and The Little Ice Cream Book by Arbuckle can both be found in our stacks).  With all this research going on it was eventually decided that it was high time Mizzou had its own flavor of ice cream, which it now does. Tiger Stripe Ice Cream, which looks exactly as the name suggests, remains popular today among students, faculty, and alumni alike and is served at a number of school and alumni events. (To find out more about the history and development of ice cream research at Mizzou visit the website of Mizzou's ice cream shop, Buck's Ice Cream Place, here.)

Old Ice Cream Recipe
A recipe from the Ladie’s Own Home Cook-Book
To learn more about any of the topics mentioned here, or if you want to check out some recipes for ice cream from our selection of old cookbooks, come by and pay us a visit here in Special Collections (just leave your ice cream at home).

Have a happy National Ice Cream Day!

Arbuckle, W. S. The Little Ice Cream Book. [S.l.]: W.S. Arbuckle, 1981. Print.

"International Dairy Foods Association." July Is National Ice Cream Month. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2013. http://www.idfa.org/news–views/media-kits/ice-cream/july-is-national-ice-cream-mon/.

Mertens, Randy. "About Us." Buck's Ice Cream Place:. N.p., 12 Mar. 2010. Web. 17 July 2013. http://bucks.missouri.edu/about/history.php.

Wildfire Prevention

While we’re feeling the heat as truly summer-like temperatures in the 90s are making themselves known, the risk of wildfire increases throughout the country.

At the time this was written, 24 wildfires were burning throughout the country.  Maps put out by the National Interagency Fire Center (like this one) show the location of “large incidents,” or large uncontrollable fires that were currently burning at the time of map-making.  Other maps (like this one) can help you determine the likelihood of a wildfire starting in your area.

As a wise bear has said, we all have the power to prevent wildfires and forest fires.  Here at Special Collections, anyone looking through our poster collection will find several 1940s-era posters reminding us of this fact.

A somewhat menacing-looking Smokey reminds us to take care.

 

Smokey Bear, the bear who has such confidence in us humans to prevent forest fires, is the longest running PSA campaign in United States history.  In 1950, a bear cub was orphaned by a forest fire in New Mexico.  Rangers rescued him from the fire and nursed him back to health until he eventually left for a zoo in Washington, D.C. where he became the living symbol for the Smokey Bear fire prevention campaign that is still popular today.

As the poster to the left suggests, the importance of preventing wildfires was felt very strongly in the forties, due to the war-effort.  In fact, the first half of that decade was when this awareness/prevention campaign really started to spread like wildfire (pun intended).  Large, uncontained fires would take attention and supplies away from the troops that were in need of them, making forest fires not only a danger to those near them, but also to those overseas.  Luckily for all of us, there are several easy steps to take to prevent uncontained fires conveniently recorded on this poster, such as making sure your campfire has been put out thoroughly before breaking camp.

In addition to putting forth practical reasons for being careful with fire, the forestry service around this time also tugged at the heartstrings of Americans by issuing posters with Bambi and friends, imploring those that look upon them to not burn down their homes.  As the Disney movie had just debuted the previous year, this poster would have been particularly effective in its message of reminding people of the devastating effects fires have on forest wildlife.

So remember:

  • “only you can prevent wildfires”
  • to see these posters (and others) all you need to do is visit us at Special Collections!

F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is seen by critics and the general public as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quintessential novel, and is the novel he is most famous for.  It tells the story of a rich man named Jay Gatsby and his quest to regain a past love. As its most recent movie adaptation is currently playing in theaters, Special Collections invites you to take a look back on the novel and the man that created it.

The frontispiece of an edition of The Great Gatsby featuring Gatsby himself.

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota and named after his second cousin three times removed, the Francis Scott Key of national anthem fame. While on academic probation at Princeton, Fitzgerald enlisted in the army in 1917.  In June 1918, he was assigned to a camp near Montgomery, Alabama, where he met and fell in love with Zelda Sayre.  In late 1919, after being discharged from the army and quitting his job in advertising, Fitzgerald began his career of writing short stories for magazines and other publications, with The Saturday Evening Post becoming his best story market.  He published his first novel, This Side of Paradise, in March 1920 and married Zelda Sayre soon after.  His success and the extravagant lifestyle of the young couple soon earned him a reputation as a bit of a playboy.  He also became known as a heavy drinker, though he always wrote sober.  After the publication of his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, and the birth of his child, Frances Scott (Scottie) Fitzgerald, in 1921, the Fitzgeralds moved to Long Island where F. Scott wrote short stories to cover the family's debt after his play, The Vegetable, failed to make it into production.  The family moved to France in the spring of 1924 so that F. Scott would be able to focus on his newest project, the novel that would become The Great Gatsby.

Before it became The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald’s novel went through many revisions and forms. Special Collections has in its possession a facsimile of one such early edition, entitled Trimalchio. This is an allusion to a Roman novel, The Satyricon by Petronius.  In this novel, Trimalchio is a freedman who has amassed power and wealth and shows this off by hosting exceedingly lavish dinner parties for his numerous guests.  This copy includes correspondence between Fitzgerald and a man by the name of Perkins, Fitzgerald’s friend and an employee of his publishers, in which Perkins makes suggestions for revision and suggests using a different title (pictured below right).

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Shortly after this, Fitzgerald rewrote several aspects of his novel and reordered key scenes, such as the one where Gatsby’s past is illuminated.

Fitzgerald restructured the plot to make certain elements more meaningful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gatsby we know today comes in many different forms and editions.  One of the more unique Gatsbys at Special Collections comes in the form of a fantastical graphic novel adaptation by Nicki Greenberg, in which Jay Gatsby is portrayed as a seahorse
and the others as any number of creatures.

Votes are now being taken for guesses as to what kind of creature Daisy is.

 

There are also a number of more conventionally illustrated editions of The Great Gatsby in existence, such as the 1980 Limited Editions Club which is illustrated by artist Fred Meyer, whose recognizable style brings the Jazz Age to life on the page.

An illustration by Fred Meyer of Gatsby's mansion during one of his famous parties.

 

Most people are familiar with The Great Gatsby after having spent some time studying it at either a high school or college level.  From Professor Lago’s collection, we have her copy of The Great Gatsby, which has been heavily annotated for use as a teaching tool.  Her extensive notes comment on such key themes as morality and hope.  On the page shown here, she notes the importance of color symbolism, among other things.

740008small lago

In the years after The Great Gatsby was published, Fitzgerald began work on his fourth novel, Tender is the Night.  Work on this novel was put on hold throughout the years due to Zelda Fitzgerald’s declining mental and physical health.  During her stay in a clinic in Switzerland, F. Scott returned to writing short stories for income.  He completed Tender is the Night in 1934, though it was ultimately a commercial failure.

In the summer of 1937, Fitzgerald went to Hollywood to work as a screenwriter.  It was there that he began an affair with columnist Sheilah Graham.  After MGM Studios dropped his contract at the end of 1938, he worked as a freelance script writer and continued writing short sories.  He began work on his last novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, in 1939 and had more than half of it written when he died of a heart attack on December 21, 1940.

Though Fitzgerald was not much of a commercial success during his lifetime, he is now considered to be the author of one of the “great American novels” and is esteemed for his accurate portrayals of the Jazz Age.  Many of his works, including collections of his short stories, are available for use by patrons in the Reading Room of Special Collections.

 

Bruccoli, Matthew J. "A Brief Life of Fitzgerald." Biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The F. Scott Fitzgerald Society, n.d. Web. 21 May 2013. http://www.fscottfitzgeraldsociety.org/biography/index.html.

"Trimalchio." Trimalchio. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2013.
<http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Trimalchio.html>.

Student Spotlight: Lauren Young

lauren_youngLauren Young is a senior majoring in art history and magazine journalism and minoring in music. She will graduate from the University of Missouri in May.  During the fall 2011 semester Lauren researched and studied Ellis Library’s copy of the Liber Chronicarum for her class on Renaissance figural arts at MU. She is currently working on a research project on fourth and fifth century manuscripts.  She comments on her project and provides an excerpt from her paper below.

The goal of my research project was to study the portraits of cities in the world chronicle, also known at the Nuremberg Chronicle. I discovered that the woodblock images of the cities as well as the content of the chronicle were, in fact, out of date when the book was printed in 1493. However, these images, which the Nuremberg Chronicle is well known for, exposed readers to far away lands allowing them to become armchair travelers.

The World According to the Liber Chronicarum: Selected Excerpts

Origins of the World Chronicle

nuremberg_lgThe concept of a world chronicle was not a new one when the Nuremburg Chronicle was printed in 1493. In fact, the biographer of Emperor Constantine, Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, developed the idea. His chronicle, Chronicorum Canones, included a list of dates from Assyrian, Hebrew, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman times up to 325 C.E. Saint Jerome translated and completed Eusebius’ chronicle in 378 C.E. This chronicle became the model for later medieval historiography.

The Birthplace of the Nuremberg Chronicle

The security provided by the stable and growing economy in Nuremberg allowed two local men, Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kamermaister, the ability to finance the printing of a new world chronicle. Hartman Schedel, the city physician, was hired to write the text and artists Michael Wolgemut and Hans Pleydenwurff were contracted to produce the woodcut images. In total there are 1,809 illustrations in the chronicle. Forty-four woodcuts of kings are used for 270 different rulers and 28 woodblocks are used for 226 popes. The reuse of images through out the chronicle may have helped decrease the time and cost of labor during the creation of the world chronicle because woodblock illustrations were one of the least expensive ways to illustrate a book.  This practice also extended to the 101 places pictured in the Nuremberg Chronicle using 53 blocks.

Anton Koberger printed the Nuremberg Chronicle in both a Latin version and a German version. Koberger established his press in Nuremberg in 1470. It was the second press to open in the city and he published his first book in 1471, the same year he became godfather to Albrecht Dürer the younger.  He later purchased the building his press was housed in and added four houses over the years. Koberger’s press had space for 100 workers, 24 presses and living space for his large family. The press even had its own water system used for dampening paper during the printing process. The permit for the pipes from a well at the city wall remained in effect until 1881 when the city bought the water system. This water system helped supplement Koberger’s income because any leftover water he sold to the city.

The Ellis Library Liber Chronicarum

Ellis Library on the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus has in its special collection a nearly complete, uncolored, Latin copy of the Liber Chronicarum. The book was trimmed and rebound at some point before the university acquired it. However, whoever trimmed the book was careful enough to leave many of the notes in the margins intact by creating a series of flaps. This, in a way, increased the interactive nature of the book similarly veiled illuminations in manuscripts did. The reader now has to physically manipulate the book in order to look at the notes. The previous owner of the book who wrote the notes in brown ink was clearly literate and knowledgeable. There are places in the chronicle where this owner has corrected information and page numbers as well as added in their own thoughts. Clearly, they had a strong connection to Prague and may have even lived there because there are extensive notes in Latin below the two-page woodcut of the city.

During the time spent researching this paper, it was discovered that one of the maps in the Chronicle had been cut out of the book some time in the past. Even after consulting with the librarians in the Special Collections department of the library it is still not clear when folios 12 and 13 where removed. However, the other pages containing 26 two-page city portraits, 69 single page portraits and one world map are still intact.

Know an outstanding student you’d like to nominate for the Spotlight?  Email SpecialCollections@missouri.edu.

TAGS:

Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is a librarian in the Special Collections and Rare Books department. She teaches information sessions in Special Collections, does reference work, and maintains the department's digital presences. Contact Kelli

home Cycle of Success, Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books Teaching Spotlight: Lena Sheets, Smithton Middle School

Teaching Spotlight: Lena Sheets, Smithton Middle School

Graduate student Amy Jones shows ancient Asian artifacts to Smithton Middle School studentsLena Sheets has a master's degree in education and teaches world cultures at Smithton Middle School in Columbia.  In December 2011, she brought 150 sixth-grade students to tour various collections on the MU campus, including Special Collections and Rare Books.  This month, we'll hear from her and her students about their experiences with rare books and artifacts.

SC: How did you incorporate Special Collections into your teaching this semester?
Prior to going to special collections, students had been learning about the Early River Civilizations, such as  Mesopotamia, and Egypt. Students then went to Special Collections and learned various ways that early civilizations communicated.  Students wrote observations about the items they saw such as scrolls, papyrus, parchment and seals. Students then came back to school and wrote a brief story that incorporated the information they had learned about a particular piece.

What outcomes resulted from your class visits? What were the effects on your students?tablet9-1_sm
Students could make the connection between history and real people and objects that they have studied.Students are much more engaged in what they are learning and are more inquisitive.  They would like to return again next year.

What advice would you give to faculty or instructors interested in using Special Collections in their courses?
If you are working with middle school students, it is important for them to have an activity to do while they visit.  The presenters were very engaging and answered a ton of questions, but it just middle school nature for students minds to wander.  With the outstanding presentation and a place to write down what they were learning, students were engaged the entire time and had great discussions when they returned.

IMG_6319_smAny additional comments or suggestions?
I think a visit to Special Collections is a great authentic experience that could fit any place in a unit, at the beginning to generate excitement or at the end to help students make real world connections outside the classroom, or even in the middle to do a little of both.

The staff  at Special Collections were so patient and accommodating. In addition, they were full of knowledge about each artifact and kept the students thinking.   I also appreciated that they took the time to let me preview the items my students would see. I couldn't contain my enthusiasm for the trip and I only hope, I can get funding to return again next year.

 

 

Browse stories by young writers from Lena Sheets' class below.
sheets6_lgsheets3_lgsheets2_lgsheets4_lgsheets5_lg

 

Know an inspiring educator or outstanding student you'd like to nominate for the Spotlight?  Email us at SpecialCollections@missouri.edu.

Student Spotlight: Jen Para

Jen ParaJennifer Para is a freshman from Rogers, Arkansas, majoring in business. As part of Julie Christenson's section on the ancient world, part of the honors humanities sequence, Jen and her classmates worked with rare and historic materials in Special Collections, including ancient materials and fifteenth- and sixteenth-century editions of the classics. Jen shares her insights and reactions below.

 

 

phaer1_smGlancing through rare books at Ellis Library, a certain leather bound novel with a delicate design imprinted into the spine catches your eye. The marbled paper cover reminds you of exquisite stones with white and gold specks reflecting the bouncing sun, meshed together in a pond of blood. Touching the book, you are surprised at its smoothness, and you wonder why the book does not fall apart at your caress. On the book’s spine you notice gold lettering revealing the title of the book: Aeneidos. This epic poem is a 1583 copy of Phaer and Twyne’s translation of Virgil’s Aeneid.

Flipping through the book, you observe old English type and strain your eyes to read it.  You come to the beginning of a chapter with an intricate black border in which an “Argument” gives a summery of the chapter. As you look through the epic poem, you see no page numbers, only words at the bottom of each page. Curious, you ask the librarian. She informs you that the printing process included folding the papers together, using the first and last words of a page to ensure the correct order.

At the end of each chapter there seems to be a Latin copyright, and you also notice small printed notes in the margins. Between books twelve and thirphaer3_smteen you find the authors’ letter to their readers. Phaer and Twyne intended their translation of the Aeneid to be read by “maisters and students of universities,” who “will not bee too much offended,” by their raw translation, and “pray they will correct the errors escaped in the printing.”

Curious about Phaer and Twyne, you begin researching for more information. Thomas Phaer, a native to Pembrokeshire, translated The Aeneid into one of the oldest meters in English, the fourteener. According to scholars, it was a good attempt, but not attractive. Unfortunately, Phear died while translating the tenth book. Not wanting to leave the work unfinished, Thomas Twyne edited and finished the last two and a half books in 1573.

You look through the book once again. This copy is not an original nor a textbook; there are no handwritten notes anywhere. But in book ten, phaer2_smyou see calligraphy and make out words “Hugh Bateman”, “Thomas Payne”, “1767 London”, “Dronfield”. Partaking in more research, you find record of several Hugh Batemans at Dronfield.

You come to the conclusion that this epic-poem, due to its lack of use and penmanship practicing, was most likely a “coffee-table book”. Its gorgeous cover could capture the eyes of any person, but its translation made it very difficult to read. You picture in your mind this epic poem, sitting on a rosewood desk, collecting dust, until a man opens it up to dab ink off his quill. Closing the book, you sigh, knowing you are only partaking in guesswork. You wonder what conversations it has overheard, who read its pages, and how it ended up at the Ellis Library at the University of Missouri. If only books could talk.

Have an outstanding student you'd like to nominate for the Spotlight?  Email SpecialCollections@missouri.edu.

TAGS:

Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is a librarian in the Special Collections and Rare Books department. She teaches information sessions in Special Collections, does reference work, and maintains the department's digital presences. Contact Kelli