An illustration of our campus from an 1859 edition of Gleason’s Weekly Line-of-Battle-Ship. We no longer have sheep grazing nearby, but the main buildings in the drawing are all still extant. The article mentions that the total faculty at the time consisted of the president, 28 professors, 5 tutors, and ‘several’ teachers. We’re a little bigger now, with around 2400 faculty members.
July 21 is Ernest Hemingway’s birthday.
We have three good cats here so I sang them the song and they were very pleased… When I can’t sleep at night I tell them stories about … our great cat Mooky out west who fought the badger. When I say “THE BADGER!” Tester has to get under the covers she is so frightened.
Walt Disney famously reinvented the fairy tale for children; he also re-imagined the Middle Ages decades before he opened Disneyland on July 17, 1955. From cottages to castles, apprentices to princesses, he painted a fantasy Medieval era for the entire world to believe in.
pictured: The dwarfs’ medieval-Craftsman cottage (Snow White, 1937), p. 195
Il Medioevo Secondo Walt Disney: come l’America ha reinventato l’Eta di Mezzo, 1993 (The Middle Ages According to Walt Disney)
The Harvard Art Museums has digitized its gorgeous, haunting portrait of the Disney Castle by noted American photographer Diane Arbus.
I don’t know the ideology:
It’s about suffering.
How to end suffering.
And it ends in suffering. Yes, it’s strange to live
in a country where there are still heroes.
— Nadine Gordimer, Burger’s Daughter, 1979
Happy Bastille Day!
Here’s a photo of this legendary prison’s keys that we found hiding in our stacks. According to the back of the photo one of the men who participated in the storming of the Bastille kept the keys as a souvenir.
The key to the main entrance was claimed by the Marquis de Lafayette and later sent to George Washington. Today it can be viewed at Mount Vernon. The above keys were for the interior of the prison. The middle key is 12 inches long and possibly dates to the 1300s. The smallest key supposedly belonged to the treasure room in which Henry IV stored his valuables.
These keys were passed down from generation to generation, eventually ending up in America. They changed ownership a few more times and were sold to a Canadian man named H. S. Howell. You can read more about the keys in this account written by Howell.
Happy Birthday Henry David Thoreau, born today in 1817, and a graduate of Harvard College. These scenes are from the beautifully illustrated 1896 edition of Cape Cod.
One of our tumblrians is getting kittens this weekend. In honor of this exciting occasion we are posting illustrations from Beatrix Potter’s Tom Kitten (1907).
Dispatch from the stacks:
In the late 1960s Jesse Kornbluth ‘68 got a slew of writers and journalists together for Notes from the New Underground, a book of essays about conflict between counterculture and established culture. Its title plays off that of Dostoyevsky’s existential novella of 1864.
Section titles include “Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Political Club and Band,” and Tom Robbins numbered among the contributors. The last piece is titled “Toward a National Beg-In: Crawl for Peace” reprinted from The Berkeley Barb.
The link above and first two photos are the paperback; third and fourth photos are from the hardback.
Another book in this vein: We are the people our parents warned us against, 1968, tells stories of life in the Haight. From p.15: “Did you know what happened to the hippy who crossed IBM with LSD? He went on a business trip.”
An example of ‘waste paper’ being used in binding. The top of this book’s spine has deteriorated, revealing what looks to be a piece of ledger paper that was used in the binding process. While this was considered waste paper in the 1820s, it looks elegant to 21st century eyes.
Illustrations from Seven Autumn Leaves from Fairy Land (1873), a collection of now-obscure fairy tales like “Specklesides” and “Dimple”.
Happy Fourth of July!
The U.S. flag hasn’t changed during many of our lifetimes. In the early days of the republic, however, it changed often. Here are some proposed and actual flags from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, as shown in The History of the National Flag of the United States of America.
On July 3rd, 1775 George Washington took command of the Continental Army in Cambridge, Massachusetts (just across the street from Harvard). Before leaving to join the army he wrote a letter to Martha on June 18th:
I am now set down to write to you on a subject, which fills me with inexpressible concern, and this concern is greatly aggravated and increased, when I reflect upon the uneasiness I know it will give you. It has been determined in Congress, that the whole army raised for the defense of the American cause shall be put under my care, and that it is necessary for me to proceed immediately to Boston to take upon me the command of it.
You may believe me, my dear Patsy, when I assure you, in the most solemn manner, that, so far from seeking this appointment, I have used every endeavor in my power to avoid it… But as it has been a kind of destiny, that has thrown me upon this service, I shall hope that my undertaking it is designed to answer some good purpose.”
Washington’s headquarters remained in Cambridge until April 1776. That same month Harvard presented Washington with the first law degree in the college’s history as a token of appreciation for his services to the country.
From The Writings of George Washington, image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
Student in a stall in Widener, ca. 1942. Harvard University Archives.
On June 30th, 1936 best-selling novel Gone With the Wind was released. Gone with the Wind won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937 and still remains a favorite among today’s readers.
Scarlett O’Hara’s favorite reading material would have most likely been a popular publication of the time called Godey’s Lady’s Book. Godey’s included short stories, poetry, sheet music, and most notably fashion plates (like the image above) and dress patterns. The magazine also offered tips on how to economize while remaining fashionable, though using curtains was probably not a suggestion!
It’s Feline Friday again!