Install Theme

This is a volume from the library of Count Riant, purchased for Harvard by Professor Archibald Cary Coolidge and his father J. Randolph Coolidge in 1898. At the time the Librarian, William Coolidge Lane, called this bequest “the most valuable which the Library has ever received”.

These photos show both the Count’s and the Library’s bookplates; the check out slip (last checked out 100 years ago); and an illustration from within the volume. This book, like many of the books from the Riant collection, is classed in the Old Widener ‘Crus’ classification, for books on the Crusades.

Professor Coolidge later became the library’s Director and oversaw the building of Widener Library.

We’ve dipped into popular magazines for this week’s installment of Feline Friday. Here are paintings by an artist named Helen Ronner, who spent 25 years of her life painting cats. Apparently prior to painting cats Madame Ronner painted dogs. We agree with the editorializing from this 1893 article from The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine:

[“Ronner’s] first great success…was won in the painting of dogs. Of course there is no harm in painting dogs; but the fact must be admitted that, whle good enough creatures in their way, they distinctly are destitute of those subtly refined qualities by which cat-nature is so conspicuously ennobled”

For Throwback Thursday we have some pictures of our old Circulation desk. The Circulation desk at Widener is now on the first floor. In these photographs, it was on the second floor in what is now the Atkins Reference Room. It’s in a different location now, but it’s still very busy.

Top to bottom:

Circulation desk at Widener Library, ca 1936. Harvard University Archives.

Circulation desk at Widener Library, 1943. Harvard University Archives.

Circulation desk at Widener Library, ca. late 1950s. Harvard University, Radcliffe Archives.



A selection of illustrations from Icones Farlowianae, a beautiful oversize book by William Gilson Farlow ‘66. Farlow was an eminent botanist of the later 19th and early 20th centuries. One of our (five!) botany libraries is named after him.

Two weeks ago we saw the Three Little Kittens get scolded for losing their mittens. Today see our heroes get into even more mischief, much to their mother’s consternation. Happy Feline Friday everyone!

Harvard’s 141st football season opens tonight versus Holy Cross. Believe it or not, there was a time when Harvard was a football power as well as an academic one. The Crimson won nine national championships between 1890 and 1919. Three of those teams were coached by Percy Haughton, who wrote Football and How to Watch It (1922), the book from which the above images were taken. Harvard still plays in the stadium pictured here, but the crowds only approach this size for the Harvard-Yale game (known in these parts as The Game).

The poems, with specimens of the prose writings, 1885. Blake, William, from The Canterbury Poets series.

If you had been a dapper young Harvard man in 1885, you might have carried a small book like this in your suit jacket pocket so that you could read “on the go.” You might even have been inspired to pencil this sketch of a horse with what appears to be a partial autograph onto the last leaf of the book.

Of course, if you’d been this young Harvard student and penciled this sketch, you might also have heard about it from the librarian after you returned the book. If you deface library property it’s “vandalism.” More than a century later, it will be referred to as “ephemera.” This transformation will take place far too late to save you from the hefty fines.

Illustrations of Rip Van Winkle : designed and etched by Felix O. C. Darley, for the members of the American Art-Union, 1848

A special subscription issuing of the Washington Irving short story, with illustrations.

Happy Birthday to James Fenimore Cooper, born today in 1789. While Cooper is known today primarily for his frontier novels, he also wrote extensively on ships and the sea (and at least one story with a monkey). These illustrations are from The Cooper Gallery (1865), a posthumous collection of selection of Cooper’s writings edited by his daughter Susan, with illustrations by well-known contemporary illustrators.

We don’t only have books in our collection. This is a Czechoslovakian board game from 1991 based on the game of Monopoly. The title translates as “Let’s Build a Statue of Stalin”. This kind of irreverence of course could only occur following the 1989 Velvet Revolution and shows the fun some Czechs were having mocking the Soviet regime.

Special thanks to our colleagues in Collections Conservation Lab for alerting us to this unusual item! And to Anna Aizman for helping us with translation (bon voyage Anna!).

For Feline Friday we have illustrations from The Cat: An Introduction to the Study of Backboned Animals, Especially Mammals (1881). This is from Chapter 12, “Different Kinds of Cats”. We have to say some of these do look different from any other cats we’ve ever seen.

A selection of engravings from The World’s Worship in Stone (1880). Cathedrals featured, from top: Siena Duomo (exterior and interior); St. Peters, Rome (exterior and interior); Freiburg Cathedral; St. John’s Church, Chester. We will be featuring more images from this book in the coming weeks.

It’s time for another Where in Widener? Wednesday. There’s no mystery to this photo though: this is the view from the base of our main staircase. The murals are by John Singer Sargent.
Photo courtesy of Enrique Diaz.

It’s time for another Where in Widener? Wednesday. There’s no mystery to this photo though: this is the view from the base of our main staircase. The murals are by John Singer Sargent.

Photo courtesy of Enrique Diaz.

A Weekend in September by John Edward Weems, first edition 1957

It was called Hurricane Gale, but it’s regionally remembered as The Storm. Before it hit, Galveston was positioned to become one of the great U.S. cities for the new millennium. Two photos from this book show the same apartment block, with one of the residents’ handwritten notations, as a solid mass in one photo and a war-ravaged ruin in the second, demonstrating the devastation of wind and water on September 7-9, 1900.

The Weems book compiles dozens of survivors’ accounts into an eyewitness history of the disaster.

The Galveston County Daily News site The 1900 Storm has photos, film clips, and survivors’ tales. 

Some colorful butterflies and moths to brighten a Monday morning. These lovely illustrations are from The Complete Writings of Thomas Say on the Entomology of North America (1859).